§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Major ELLIOT
I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, to leave out from the word "Minister," to the second word "with," in line 11.
This Amendment is one of a series of Amendments which we are bringing forward with the object of ensuring that this portion of the Bill shall not apply to the case of Scotland. This portion of the Bill was discussed rather perfunctorily on the Second Reading, and it was agreed that it would be better that it should be gone into at some length on the Committee stage. In the Committee stage, not merely the hon. and right hon. Members with whom I had the honour to act showed themselves very doubtful about the wisdom of the proposals, but there 5.0 p.m. were serious objections raised by the hon. Member for Kincardine (Mr. Scott), speaking, I suppose, in the name of his colleagues on the Liberal benches. The Liberal benches showed themselves also very dubious as to the wisdom of the proposal, and the hon. Member for Kincardine, when the Bill was under discussion and after he had had the benefit of the explanation by the Secretary of State, went so far as to say:Neither in the speech of the Secretary of State for Scotland nor the Under-Secretary have we had any justification or sufficient information to induce this Committee to grant the powers in this Clause."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee B), 25th November, 1930; col. 29.]He went further, and criticised the authorities which had been quoted. The 1205 Minister, it is true, quoted the Selborne Committee, with which, so far as I remember, he had made great play on the Second Reading, going so far as to suggest that Stalin in Russia was really a humble disciple of the Noble Lord and had been induced to embark upon the recent remarkable agricultural developments in Russia by reading the report of this Committee, which was issued in 1918. That was the most recent authority which the Minister quoted, save for an opinion given by Sir Daniel Hall. The Selborne Committee was concerned with conditions in the Eastern counties of England, and Sir Daniel Hall was technical adviser to the Ministry of Agriculture in England. The proposals which Sir Daniel Hall brought forward have been put forth at greater length, I think, by Professor Orwin, whose opinion on these matters we must all treat with the greatest respect. But Professor Orwin was also discussing English conditions, and conditions in a very specialised part of England, namely the Eastern counties. The matter was examined by Mr. Joseph Duncan, who explained that the inevitable and indeed the desired result of these changes was to reduce the number of people employed upon the land.
§ Major ELLIOT
I am not merely an occasional, but a constant reader of that journal, and more particularly of the opinions of Mr. Joseph Duncan, from whom I have drawn spiritual sustenance, especially on the question of smallholdings, of which he is a convinced and consistent opponent. Mr. Joseph Duncan said, with the utmost astonishment, "Why should anyone trump up any indignation against the proposal to take people off the land? Of course," he said, "this will take people off the land. That is its inevitable result, and it is most astonishing that the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot) was able to generate indignation at this proposal." He said further some flattering or unflattering things about myself and that the real Tory opinion was expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore), who pointed out that this was the 1206 mechanisation of rural England, "which," he said, "we hate," and Mr. Joseph Duncan himself expressed the greatest sympathy with that view and hoped that this period of mechanisation would be a temporary stage of rural development, because, he said, he hated the idea as much as did the right hon. Member for Stafford. But he did not deny—indeed, he emphasised and stressed—that it was necessary to adopt this process to reduce the number of men on the land.
That was not the argument which was brought forward either by the Secretary of State or the Under-Secretary of State in defending this proposal. They themselves spent a long time explaining that it would increase the number of men on the land. The Secretary of State for Scotland and the Under-Secretary of State both made that point. The Secretary of State—and this was the justification which he gave the Committee for asking for those powers—said:If large-scale farming is engaged in, it will not, in my opinion, mean that less men will be employed on the land, but that more will be employed. It will mean the employment of more men on the land itself, and, in addition, the provision of a large number of mechanical implements will mean increased employment in other directions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee B), 25th November, 1930; col. 16.]And only last week, in the official Government paper in Scotland, that view was entirely thrown over by Mr. Joseph Duncan, who said he could not conceive of anybody not realising the fact that the object and intention of these proposals was in fact to diminish the number of people employed on the land in Scotland, and that unless this diminution took place, a reduction in the standard of living of those employed on the land would certainly follow. The Secretary of State, I take it, now abandons the defence which he made of this proposal in Committee, that it would mean employment for more men on the land, and stands on the view expressed by his technical advisers that it involves the employment of fewer men on the land. That is the first contention which we wish to establish with regard to Scotland.
Our second contention is that this Clause has been brought forward as a result of committees considering a problem peculiar to certain areas of England, namely, the purely cereal-grow- 1207 ing areas, the light lands of Eastern England, which are unsuitable for other crops and on which it is desired to erect in this experiment a sort of synthetic prairie, upon which large-scale ranch farming may be carried out. That may be a very good thing and a very necessary thing, but in Scotland there are many other ways in which intelligence, administrative skill, and cash may be employed than in producing synthetic prairies in one or other corner of our land. It is, indeed, a new accusation to bring against Scottish agriculture that there are not enough large farms in Scotland. We have had the contention mostly from the benches opposite that there were too many large farms, that the process of sheep ranching had been carried too far, and that it was desirable to reverse this process. In addition to the sheep ranches which have been set up in portions of Scotland, it is proposed that grain ranches should be set up in the Lowlands of Scotland, but we need more experience and a great deal more recommendation from committees examining specifically Scottish problems before we can give our assent to such a proposition.
The Under-Secretary of State made great play with the proposal that this might possibly injure Scotland and said that this was a chance which it would be most injudicious to let slip. He said, "You propose to debar this corporation from making experiments in Scotland. Do not tie its hands. Leave it free, and let it experiment, either in Scotland or in England. It may be that it will not carry out experiments in Scotland, but merely in England, and it may be that the fears which you bring forward will not eventuate." That is the very reason we desire to see this experiment specifically limited to England, so that we may not be asked to find the cash for this proposal, which will be entirely carried out south of the border and from which we shall derive neither the experience nor the financial advantage.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Surely the hon. and gallant Member is not going to contend that the climatic conditions and the soil of England are the same as those of Scotland. Our climatic conditions and soil require a different method of approach, and therefore it is essential that we 1208 should have the power to experiment in Scotland just as the power is to be given to experiment in England.
§ Major ELLIOT
That is precisely the proposal which I was making. It would be all very well if there were no administrative machinery in Scotland through which any such experiments could be carried out, and if there were no arrangements by which supervision could be carried out or by which investigations and questions could be applied in this House, but the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) will agree that we have ourselves a Department of Agriculture in Scotland, which is acquainted with Scottish conditions, with our climatic conditions, with our soil conditions, and which has not to cover the same wide expanse as the Ministry of Agriculture in England and can apply itself more specifically to the problems of Scotland. Let us take Scotland out of this Bill, then let us ask for our 11/80ths of the corresponding sum for England, and let us put the money to the credit of the Agriculture (Scotland) Fund, and let the Department in Scotland carry out experiments suited to the peculiar needs of our soil and our climate, which it can most easily do.
§ Major ELLIOT
The hon. Member has not had the advantage of the continuous examination of the Bill in Committee, which brought out clearly that this corporation is to be a United Kingdom corporation, that it will sit in London, and that its members will be English. We did our utmost to secure that there should be a sub-committee appointed for Scotland, but that was refused. We did our utmost to secure that it should consult the Scottish Department of Agriculture before taking action, but that also was refused. Surely it will take time enough to develop and consider the enormous problems involved in the creation of large-scale farms in one part of the country alone, and to deal with one set of problems alone—the problem of intensive or extensive, if you like, cereal cultivation by means of a mechanised agriculture! Heavens above, there is enough work for a corporation in that!
The Under-Secretary of State said, "But that is not the only kind of large- 1209 scale farming that is possible. There is large-scale poultry farming." He brought forward the case of the Corstorphine farm near Edinburgh, and he said we could investigate that and that we might experiment with that branch of farming. He gave an entrancing picture of the birds in that farms, housed under beautiful conditions, with photographs to show how happy they were, and everything, even to the plucking of them, done by mechanical means. But does he really conceive that a corporation which is intensively engaged in solving the problem of the depressed areas of wheat land is really going to double and treble its work by butting into the production of poultry, which is already a somewhat remunerative business? Surely it will have its work cut out to deal with the questions involved in the light soils of the East of England, which are undergoing a period of depression which is absolutely unparalleled in their history; and I can imagine what the farmers of Norfolk will say if they realise that a considerable portion of the funds of the only experiment which the present Government have brought forward for their immediate future is to be taken away and devoted to experimenting on a poultry farm with the plucking of feathers and so on.
§ Major ELLIOT
I am interested enough in that farm, as I know the hon. Member himself is. He has knowledge on this subject, because his own son is engaged in a poultry holding and is naturally, as one would expect from his distinguished sire, engaged in a hard and not unsuccessful struggle. Indeed, I can imagine that he will not be too pleased to find that this House is voting money by which a huge Ford plant can be set up alongside of him, at the taxpayers' expense, at his expense, to compete with him in the poultry farming. I leave the hon. Member to discuss that matter with his son. I do not believe that this Corporation will be able to indulge in these experiments. It will have enough to do with the problems that are brought forward, and those problems are not Scottish problems but English problems, and refer specifically to a particular part of England. We in Scotland desire, in the first place, that Scotland should be taken cut 1210 of this large scale farming Corporation experiment, secondly, that we should have eleven-eightieths of any sums expended by the English Corporation, and, thirdly, that the money should be devoted to experiments of a kind which will he serviceable to Scotland of which large scale farming is not the first or the most immediate demand. There has been no demand in Scotland for this part of the Bill. The authorities which have been quoted are English authorities and the demand which has been made is an English demand. Scottish agricultural authorities, or many of them, are opposed to these proposals. The only arguments which the Secretary of State has brought forward have been controverted by the journal which was once edited by the Under-Secretary of State himself. In Standing Committee the hon. Member for Kincardine (Mr. Scott) said:Neither in the speech of the Secretary of State for Scotland nor of the Under-Secretary have we had any justification or sufficient information to induce the Committee to grant the powers proposed in this Clause."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee, B), 25th November, 1930; col. 29.]After that statement no further answer was made by the Minister, except to get up and to move: "That the question he now put." The question was put and carried against us in Committee. I have no reason to suppose that the House will show itself less difficult to satisfy than the Committee. We have already had one reversal of the arguments which proved unsatisfactory and unconvincing to the Committee. We appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober. We appeal from the question-putting Minister to the good sense of the House as a whole. We appeal from the depleted ranks of the party below the Gangway on this side in Committee to their more generous representation on the Floor of the House and, finally, we appeal to Scottish Members in all parts of the House to let us run our own show in our own way—
§ Major ELLIOT
As we did with the Local Government Act, which we carried on Third Reading by a clear majority of Scottish Members in this House, and which entrusted Scottish affairs to Scottish hands. We appeal not to be put under a Whitehall Corporation, without our being allowed to have a Scottish 1211 body for the purpose, and after a specific refusal to consult Scottish agriculture upon the subject. On these grounds we appeal to be left out and that other proposals more suitable to Scotland should be introduced.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Dunnico)
I asked for a Seconder, and I understood that it was formally seconded. I understood the hon. and gallant Member to say, formally: "I beg to second." If the hon. and gallant Member desires to speak on the Amendment, he may do so.
§ Major COLVILLE
I said "I beg to second," and I was proceeding to make my remarks. I have pleasure in seconding the Amendment, because during the administration of the last Government there was a very frequent cry from members of the Socialist party in Scotland that Scotland was being dragged at the coat tails of England. If ever a Bill was designed with the map of England all over it rather than the map of Scotland, this Bill has been designed in that way. The Department realises that large scale farming is not a design suitable to Scotland. Our system of land tenure in Scotland is different from the system in England. In some ways I believe it is a better system and that it gives a better security to the good tenant than the English system. This difficulty was visualised quite clearly by the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland on the Second Reading of the Bill when he said, referring to large scale farming and the acquisition of land for that purpose:We shall find it exceptionally difficult to do in Scotland owing to our leasehold system. We shall find it difficult to get a big area where all the farms will fall into one, and we should have to pay very heavy compensation in order to get rid of leases and have fixity of tenure. Be that as it may, all that this Bill says is 'Let us try it'" [OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1930; col. 2005, Vol. 244.]What he seems to say, in effect, is that it is a difficult problem and a very costly one, that it is possibly impracticable, but, 1212 nevertheless, let us try. If that is the way that the Socialist party carries out its legislation, no wonder that our bill as taxpayers continues to rise. It is not in the interests of Scotland that money should be devoted to this purpose in the hands of a United Kingdom Corporation, without knowledge or close application to agricultural affairs in Scotland, but having before them rather the interests of English conditions. That they should have money placed in their hands to play with in this way and in a way which we think is against the real interests of Scottish agriculture is not fair. It is perfectly fair to say that whatever may be the view in Scotland in regard to the smallholding question and the allotment question—and here I think there is scope for development—there is absolutely no demand in Scotland for the introduction of these large scale farms. How many Members of the Socialist party fought the election on a promise to give Scotland large scale farming? We know that there is no demand for any such thing. Why then spend public money on such wasteful experiments? I hold strong views and am very sceptical about the value of State trading and State bargaining. We have heard of the fowls at the farm near Edinburgh being plucked, but it will be the ratepayers and taxpayers of Scotland who will be plucked by experiments of this kind.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I am not surprised that the hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot) should ask that we should except Scotland from Clause 1 of this Bill, but I am surprised at the arguments which he has used in support of his Amendment. If there is one well-deserved step in the hon. and gallant Member's ladder of reputation it is that he takes a keen interest in scientific research in everything that promotes a better and more efficient agriculture. He has a spirit of adventure and pioneering in his makeup, but this afternoon he has exhibited political tenets which I regret should have been advanced by him. He says that he desires that Scotland should be excluded from the Bill, but he spent time in Committee fighting to get for Scotland her eleven-eightieths of the expenditure. He says that the money should be spent in other 1213 directions and not in large scale, mechanised or scientific farming, which he says is bad. [HON. MEMBERS: "Sovieteering!"] Mechanised farming need not be Socialistic or State farming. What has happened is this, that the various authorities—I am not one and do not pretend to be one—for the last 10 or 12 years have declared it to be vital that there should be conducted considerable experiments in mechanised farming, that is, large scale farming. We get a Royal Commission making that recommendation. So far from being Sovieteers, there were three Conservative Ministers on that Commission. I speak from memory, but I think Lord Selborne was the chairman. There were two Conservative ex-Ministers of Agriculture on the Committee, and there was not, so far as I remember, a Labour representative on it. That Commission unanimously reported that there should be experiments in large scale farming. They said that the proposals should be regarded as a whole.
So far from this being some new adventure in agriculture, some new experiment which the Minister of Agriculture and the Secretary of state for Scotland have conceived since the General Election, skilled agricultural opinion for 10 or 12 years has recommended that such an experiment should be made. The scientific advisers of the Ministry of Agriculture, men like Sir Daniel Hall, have recommended it. Then there are Sir Archibald Weigall and Mr. Castrell Wrey, who published a pamphlet entitled "A Large State Farm" who recommend that a State farm of 10,000 acres should be set up. Professor Orwin makes his recommendation. The hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove said that we have no recent recommendations on the subject. I do not know whether he would regard a recommendation of the agricultural correspondent of the London "Times" in an article on 29th December, 1930, as recent. After he had had the benefit of reading the proceedings in Committee and the criticisms for and against, the agricultural correspondent of the "Times" sets out at considerable length arguments why there should be an expenditure on large scale farming.
§ Major ELLIOT
That buttresses my contention. Let the Under-Secretary quote the agricultural correspondent of the "Scotsman" or the "Glasgow Herald."
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I am dealing with the point that this is not merely a wild adventure but that there is a prima facie case so far as agricultural opinion is concerned for an experiment that might be called mechanised or large-scale farming. The Amendment is not against large-scale farming, although most of the arguments were; it is simply that Scotland should be excluded from the Bill. The hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove, with his scientific experience, adopted a most curious attitude. His first argument for excluding Scotland from the Bill was because the weight of Liberal opinion on the Committee was against it. He quoted the case of the hon. Member for Kincardine (Mr. Scott), but he did not tell us that the other four or five Liberal Members on the Committe voted in favour of the Government. Let us have the whole facts. I agree that it would not have looked well for the hon. and gallant Member to say that out of five Liberal Members of the Committee only one, a Scottish Liberal, voted against the Clause and that he could not convince his Liberal colleagues. His next argument was that if you have mechanised farms you inevitably get a diminution in employment on the land. I do not know whether that is true or not, but I have read what Mr. Joseph Duncan has said on this matter and other authorities who agree with him, and I know on the other hand that certain experience in large scale farming has produced an entirely opposite result. I have in my hand a statement sent to us by a gentleman who runs a large scale farm. I have not permission to give his name, but I can show the hon. and gallant Member the figures—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The question of large-scale farming is one which will be raised on a later Amendment, and I cannot allow two general discussions on the same subject. This discussion should be confined to the reasons why Scotland should be excluded from the Clause, and a general discussion on large-scale farming should take place on the later Amendment.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I am entirely in your hands, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but it is exceedingly difficult to meet the argument that Scotland should be excluded unless we can show reasons why it will benefit Scotland to participate.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I do not wish to exclude any argument which applies to the case. I desire to remind the House that the general question of large-scale farming arises on an Amendment to be called later, and we do not want to have two general discussions on that topic.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I will endeavour to fall in with your Ruling, and perhaps my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will have an opportunity later on of meeting that particular point. In regard to the question of the amount of unemployment that may be created as a result of any large-scale farming operations, there are certain recent experiences which do not seem to bear out that view. There is one case in Lincolnshire where the permanent labour has increased 34 per cent. and the casual labour by 80 per cent.; and while the wages paid on ordinary farms are 32s. per week, in this mechanised farm they are up to 43s. 2d. per week.
Major-General Sir ROBERT HUTCHSON
Can the Under-Secretary say how many men per 100 acres are employed on a mechanised farm as against an ordinary farm?
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
In this particular case in Lincolnshire, so far from employment having decreased as a result of mechanised farming, it has increased.
§ Captain BRISCOE
Can the Under-Secretary tell us how many men are actually employed per 100 acres on that farm?
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
if I gave all those particulars I am afraid that I should be disclosing more information than I ought to disclose. Let me say that the estate comprises what were formerly some 26 small farms, and the result has been, as far as our information goes, that permanent labour has increased by 34 per cent, and casual labour by 80 per cent. The hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove made a somewhat surprising claim with regard to the mechanisation methods used in the case of the Costorphine poultry farm. I confess that I do not see anything very remarkable in using machinery in the case of birds which have to be sent to market, and which are actually plucked by machinery. I do not see anything funny about that, and I do not believe that the hon. and gallant Member really considers that there is anything funny about it, except that it seemed to him something by which he could tickle the risible faculties of hon. Members behind him. Anything new strikes them as being funny. What are the facts in regard to this matter? There is one illustration in Scotland of a large farm experiment which has been conducted with success.
I am sure hon. Members opposite know something about the corporation which is operating near Edinburgh. What has that corporation done? They run a farm where there are six and a half miles of tar macadam roads, and upon which there are hundreds of thousands of birds. They are running this farm by the most up-to-date methods, and the result is that there is no diminution of employment on that estate, but that employment has gone up by about 400 per cent. [An HON. MEMBER: "How many acres?"] It does not matter a bit whether the concern has 250 or 2,000 acres as a large-scale farm so long as it is a large enough unit to produce a commodity on a large scale. Large-scale farming does not necessarily mean a large acreage, it 1217 means a large production. The hon. and gallant Member for Midlothian (Major Colville) said that we should have considerable difficulty in applying large-scale farming to Scotland because of our leasehold system, the leases falling in at different times making it difficult for the corporation to acquire a sufficiently large area. That is quite true, and there is no sense in hiding what is the fact. We have carefully considered the matter but we do not think it is desirable that Scotland should be excluded from any share in experiments for example in fruit growing, in raspberry growing, and in the processes which result therefrom, or that Scotland should be excluded from experiments in poultry farming, and many other operations where large corporations might seek to develop the interests of agriculture in Scotland by experiment.
If we exclude Scotland from the provisions of the Bill the money will be spent in England, and I cannot conceive how an Amendment of this nature can possibly do Scottish agriculture any good. Even if you have experiments in England it does not follow that the same experiments can be applied to Scotland, where there are differences in soil and climate. To confine the experiments that are to be made under this Bill to England will not benefit Scottish agriculture, and the Government propose to resist the Amendment and leave the Corporation free as occasion arises to apply the benefits of the expenditure under this Bill to the development of Scottish agriculture.
§ Mr. DUNCAN MILLAR
The Under-Secretary of State seems to have failed altogether to meet the principal criticism which has been made against the Government in including Scotland in this Clause. He has shown no reasons why Scotland should be brought under the control of an English Corporation. [Interruption]. In the representation on this Corporation there will be an overwhelming majority of those who do not represent Scotland and who do not understand its conditions. It has been admitted that conditions in Scotland are very different indeed from those in England. The Under-Secretary recognises that fact. He personally is of opinion that it will not be possible to apply the system of large-scale farming to Scotland under the leasehold 1218 system. He knowns perfectly well that the conditions with regard to soil and climate in Scotland are utterly different from those which will have to be dealt with in England. At the same time he is prepared to justify leaving Scottish agriculture at the mercy of a Corporation which will be in no sense Scottish and will not be in a position to appreciate the needs of Scotland. In Scotland, agriculture is dealt with by a Scottish Department of Agriculture which has its own opportunities of collecting Scottish information and giving effect to Scottish views.
It is very surprising that a Labour Government which is supposed to be always in favour of Scottish Home Rule and of giving the Scottish people an opportunity of controlling their own affairs, should be prepared to justify a Clause which will place the Scottish people at the mercy of a Corporation on which they will not have a majority. We are not afraid of experiment or research in Scotland. The hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot) indicated clearly in his speech that there is no desire whatever to prevent any experiment being carried out, but what we do say is that experiments can be made and are being made already. One might refer to the case of the poultry farm at Corstorphine. That is a, private enterprise. Experiments are being made and are being encouraged by the Department of Agriculture, which is the proper Department to deal with these matters. It would be far better for Scotland to have the money to deal with its own needs, the money to be applied under a department which is in touch with Scottish agriculturists.
It is rather peculiar that the Under-Secretary, when quoting figures with regard to employment in large scale farming, has had to go to England, where the conditions are different. This is going to be an absolutely dead letter as far as Scotland is concerned. I am sure that I express a very considerable volume of opinion in Scotland in saying that there is no desire whatever for a scheme of this kind, and that the Scottish nation will resent very bitterly the proposal that Scotland shall have no separate say in a matter of this importance, but will have to take its place as 1219 one of many on an English board, which will have an overwhelming English majority to deal with matters from an English standpoint. I have fought on many occasions for the separate representation of Scotland on matters on which she is entitled to separate representation. The principle of this Amendment has not even been discussed by the Under-Secretary. He has completely ignored the main point against this Clause of the Bill, and I am certain that he will find Scottish opinion strongly opposed to him.
§ Mr. ALPASS
I think there is some misunderstanding with regard to the application of this particular Clause. There will be no compulsion on the Corporation to carry out any experiments in Scotland, for the Bill is purely permissive. I am rather a young member of the Forestry Commission, but I think that the constitution of that Commission affords a very useful analogy for the Corporation which this Bill sets up. The Forestry Commission is a Commission to carry out certain afforestation work for Great Britain. There are nine members, and, as it happens, the chairman of the Commission is a Scotsman, and a very able chairman he is. There is another member of the Commission who is a Scotsman. I have not had a very long experience of the operations of the Commission, but my experience has been sufficiently long for me to know that the interests of Scotland are not overlooked when it comes to a question of afforesting any part of Scotland. I suggest that that is exactly how this Clause would operate. There is no reason at all why a majority of members of the Corporation should not be Scotsmen. I will guarantee that there will be some Scotsmen on it. If there were not there would be a row in this House. In the work of the Forestry Commission the interests of Scotland are not overlooked, and I suggest to hon. Members opposite who desire to exclude Scotland from the operation of this Clause that they are trying to do something detrimental to the interests of their country.
§ Mr. W. S. MORRISON
The suggestion of the last speaker offers very little comfort to Scottish agriculture, for it means 1220 that Scotland will be taxed for the purpose of this corporation, and the corporation need not carry out any experiment whatever in Scotland. That will be cold comfort to the taxpayers of Scotland. We have heard from both sides about the successful poultry farm near Edinburgh, about the feathers being carried along conveyer belts and of the fowls being plucked by machinery. The whole point of the Amendment is that we desire to prevent something of that sort happening under this Bill, namely, the plucking of the Scottish taxpayer and his feathers being taken away by a conveyer operating from London. The position which has given rise to this Amendment has not been dealt with in any way by the Government spokesman. It is of no avail to try to prove that large-scale farming would be a success in Scotland by quoting the agricultural correspondent of an English newspaper, or referring to an experience in Lincolnshire. Our whole case is that the conditions in Scotland are so diverse and different that any money available for experiment ought to be allotted to Scotland and controlled by a Scottish corporation for the benefit of Scottish agriculture.
Let me illustrate how great these diversities are by referring to the part of Scotland from which I come and with which I am most familiar, namely, the Hebrides. Consider what the conditions are there. How can the experience of Lincolnshire prove any guide whatever? In the Hebrides you have a string of islands, well out from the mainland, confronted with problems of transport and markets which are entirely different from those on the mainland, and you have also a type of farming which makes it impossible that large-scale experiments can ever be the least use there at all. You have little crofts in pockets on the hillside, the land all lakes and the sea all islands. You have no continuous stretch of either land or water of sufficient dimensions to make a large-scale farm of any description. Apart from the physical configuration of the land, one has to remember the type of farming which is there ancestral and traditional, namely, the croft. A croft consists of a small patch of cultivable soil, backed by a large common grazing on the hillside. If we had this English corporation with power to conduct large-scale farming operations 1221 in Scotland, where could they get the land for the large-scale farms except by trenching on the common grazing which is an essential part of the crofter's existence? It would be a great mistake to subject the whole of the crofting population of the Highlands of Scotland to the risk of having this common element in their agricultural operations, the common grazing, put in jeopardy by the operations of some zealous but ignorant commissioner in London, who knows nothing about the peculiar conditions in the Hebrides.
§ Mr. MORRISON
The hon. Member asks about St. Kilda. He would agree that it would be very hard to get a farm on the scale of a pocket handkerchief in those inaccessible islands.
§ Mr. McKINLAY
A Rolls-Royce is no use in St. Kilda; therefore have no Rolls-Royces. That is the effect of the hon. Member's argument.
§ Mr. MORRISON
If you cannot have Rolls-Royces in St. Kilda, do not tax the people of Scotland for the purpose of giving power to an English Corporation to inflict Rolls-Royces on St. Kilda. I am obliged to the hon. Member for having brought out more clearly than my halting tongue could have done the exact point to which we object in this Bill. This great new expensive thing on which the Government propose to embark may be or some use in Lincolnshire, where the Rolls-Royce can run along smooth and even roads, and where large-scale farming may be successful, but it is absolutely useless in Scotland. The hon. Member would find a large-scale farm in the Hebrides about as much use as a Rolls-Royce in St. Kilda. We do not see why it should be laid down by the Bill that a United Kingdom Corporation should have power to spend the taxpayers' money on an experiment which must prove uneconomic and detrimental to the interests of agriculture in these parts of Scotland.
We have heard it said that this Corporation will be able to conduct experiments that will benefit all sorts of agriculture. A corporation of super-men would not provide the type of knowledge required to conduct experiments of the 1222 diversity required. There is the problem of the crofter. He is not only a crofter, but a fisherman. The problem there is not the conduct of large-scale farms, but to give the man a chance, by improving his transport arrangements, to eke out a livelihood, as his ancestors have done, from a combination of work upon sea and land. If we had the money in the hands of a Scottish corporation and if that corporation were manned entirely by Scotsmen familiar with the problem, we could do for agriculture a great deal that we cannot do under this Bill. Unless the Amendment is accepted it 6.0 p.m. will be useless for hon. Members opposite to go to Scotland and pretend to be more patriotic Scotsmen than other hon. Members from Scotland.
§ Mr. MORRISON
After all, we have received a great deal of abuse in the past from hon. Members opposite who have twisted the Scottish lion's tail and made him roar on occasion, for the purpose of showing that they are the true and only lineal descendants of William Wallace and Robert Bruce. Here is a matter affecting the vital interest of agriculture in Scotland and they propose to impose a charge on the inhabitants of Scotland as well as of England for the purpose of conducting this experiment, without giving Scotland the opportunity which Conservative Governments have always given her of managing her agricultural affairs for herself with her own Department.
§ Mr. SCOTT
I was a member of the Committee which considered this Bill upstairs and I understand that the Under-Secretary has twitted me with being the only representative of the Liberal party on that Committee who dissented from the Government's proposals to have large-scale farming in Scotland. I suppose that most of my colleagues represented English constituencies and accordingly were interested in having large-scale experiments in farming in England. But I have some knowledge of Scotland and, representing a Scottish constituency, which to my certain knowledge does not want large-scale farming, I was entitled to maintain that view in the Committee 1223 and I maintain it here to-night. Since the Committee stage I have taken considerable pains to acquaint myself with the views and wishes of farmers in Scotland and I have heard of no demand whatever for large-scale farming. One and all declare that they are content to farm the areas which they have at present and do not want to give them up.
Without going to the extreme illustrations employed by the hon. Member for Cirencester (Mr. W. S. Morrison) in regard to the Western Isles and the Hebrides, I take an example a little nearer home, on the mainland of Scotland. I ask the Government whether they intend to go to Aberdeenshire, for example, and to buy up a large number of the smallholdings and small farms there in order to make large-scale farms. Aberdeenshire is a county of smallholdings and obviously you could not possibly introduce large-scale farming there. I think the same remark applies practically all over Scotland. If the Government have no intention of applying large-scale farming to Scotland, would it not be better for them to have the courage to tell the House now? If they have no intention of introducing large-scale farming in Scotland—and I believe that to be the case because they know that they will be met with opposition, and they know the distrust and suspicion which already exists with regard to the proposal—then, I suggest that they should take their courage in both hands and eliminate Scotland, not from the Bill, but from this one proposal of large-scale farming.
There has been some suggestion from hon. Members opposite that the Liberal party wish, in some way, to exclude Scotland altogether from the Bill. Nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary, we have ventured to extend the scope of the Bill so as to bring in agricultural workers. But some of us at any rate, and I am speaking for myself alone in this matter, take exception to the inclusion of large-scale farming in Scotland, and the purpose of this Amendment, as I understand it, is definitely to exclude Scotland from the large-scale farming proposal. I have the same apprehensions as those suggested by some hon. Members above the Gangway and by my hon. and 1224 learned Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Millar) that this Corporation will almost certainly be manned by a majority of Englishmen. I personally would whole-heartedly distrust such a Corporation. Especially with regard to a proposal of this sort, we want to have a body for Scotland composed of Scotsmen and, if possible, operating in Scotland. One can well imagine that this body will be headed by an Englishman, but with all respect to Englishmen they cannot possibly know Scottish conditions as Scotsmen do. We had an illustration in one of the last Committees appointed to deal with Scottish agriculture. The Nairne Committee was presided over by an Englishman and that is a very recent illustration of what we may expect with regard to this Corporation.
§ Mr. SCOTT
I cannot for the life of me see how he was trusted by his Scottish colleagues. He had been an exile from Scotland for some time. However, this proposal seems to find favour with hon. Members opposite because they regard it as a first step towards land nationalisation. They have not the same ideals with regard to land settlement in Scotland as some of us have. If they wish to have the country turned into a collection of large-scale farms, ranging from 7,000 acres to 10,000 acres, that is not the ideal which Liberal Members have. We think that the intensive cultivation of smaller areas by the men living there, with their wives and families and dependants, just as it has been a success in Continental countries will prove a success in Scotland. Indeed, in Aberdeenshire it has already proved a success. Accordingly I look with suspicion on the whole proposal of large-scale farming.
When this matter was raised in Committee I think that the Minister of Agriculture or the Secretary of State for Scotland was disposed to give some sort 1225 of undertaking to the effect that the proposals would not, immediately at any rate, be applied to Scotland. With all respect to the right hon. Gentlemen whatever their personal wishes may be, they cannot possibly determine the future policy of their Departments if this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament in its present form, and if the Department of Agriculture and this corporation are entrusted with the duty of setting up large-scale farms. This proposal will then become a statutory provision. On this point may I reply to the hon. Member for Central Bristol (Mr. Alpass) who suggested that there was no compulsion in the matter. There may be no compulsion but when the proposal has been made statutory and permission has been given to a Department, there is nothing to prevent that Department setting out upon the application of large-scale farming to Scotland. The hon. Member suggested an analogy with regard to the Forestry Commission. I was for some years a member of the consultative committee in Scotland in connection with the Forestry Commission but that committee had no power. The power is centred in the Forestry Commission which, at least, to put it mildly, is not a Scottish Commission.
§ Mr. SCOTT
I think that, when the Commission was set up, Liberal Members opposed the proposal to have one Commission for the whole Kingdom. We wanted a separate Commission for Scotland and I put this suggestion to the Government as an alternative. If they are determined to carry this proposal and if they succeed in doing so, I suggest that they should, at least, meet what they must realise to be the demand of Scottish Members and include a Clause in the Bill setting up a separate Commission for Scotland so that if this experiment is to be tried in Scotland it will at least have some chance of success under the management of Scotsmen.
§ Mr. ALPASS
The hon. Member I presume does not suggest that under the present constitution of the Forestry Commission, the interests of Scotland in regard to forestry are neglected?
§ Mr. HARDIE
In these days when the word "rationalisation" is so much on the lips of industrialists one would not expect much opposition to a proposal for an experiment of this kind in agriculture, especially since the expenditure involved is only £1,000,000 compared with the millions which have been spent on experiments on the industrial side under the guidance of those least fitted to guide such expenditure. Now we come to the question of experiments on the agricultural side and here we have some kind of guarantee which we never had in regard to the industrial side, because the Clause states definitely what are to be the qualifications and the knowledge of the persons in charge of the experiment. That is the important thing to me, as one who is always desirous of seeing experiments carried out in everything which is going to help the human race. The arguments used against this proposal to-night have so far been from the humorous side more than any other side. The hon. Member for Kincardine (Mr. Scott) had great difficulty in trying to make it appear that a Scotsman was not efficient. He tried to do so by first accusing the chairman of the Nairne Committee of not being a Scotsman because that gentleman happened to be so efficient that the English people made him a director of the Bank of England. Ability cannot be hidden and that is why there need be no fear, whatever may be the membership of this Committee as between Scotsmen and Englishmen. Natural ability will tell and in that respect Scotsmen have nothing to fear. That is how it has always worked out in the past.
Reference has been made in this discussion to certain restrictions but there is another restriction as far as Scotland is concerned, against that put forward by the late Under-Secretary of State for Scotland. Take the district of Morven where there used to be small crofts. The representative of the party opposite were responsible for clearing out those small people and the ruins of the cottages are still there. There is a tragedy. The present owner even took down a beautiful house designed by Architect Adams of Edinburgh and covered the place with 1227 earth and got the grass to grow upon it, so that there might be nothing whatever left to show that man had ever used his skill of hand or brain to raise food from the soil there. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who was he?"] His name is Craig Sellars. There is very little left, and when you get down to the real facts you know what the restrictions are there. No one would suggest that mechanisation of agriculture would be much use in that area. If you cross over to Loch Lomond you find the same thing. There is grazing land with bogland underneath, and it is quite well known that if you put a tractor on to it, it will sink up to its axles. There will, however, be practical men on this Committee to spend this money on this experiment, and there need be no fear that the Englishmen will take away the rights of Scotsmen, even though the Scotsmen are in a minority.
Apart from the natural restrictions I have mentioned, there would be great advantages from the use of mechanised labour on land in Scotland. In mountainous districts, however, men with skill are required to do the work, and it is no good trying to do cheap work. I knew a man who could put only 300 sheep on his land because of the short winterings, but I knew another highly skilled man who came along and did certain burnings of the heather in the spring, and he is able to put 3,000 sheep on the land. That is the direction where we cannot apply the mechanisation idea, because in the mountainous districts mechanisation will do no good, but when you come down to the big, broad lands, the system can be applied. The hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby), who appears to be more out for a joke than to take a serious part in the discussion—
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
I must protest against that. I have not made a single interjection or remark of any kind, but I cannot help smiling.
§ Mr. HARDIE
The whole question of experiment should be viewed with breadth of mind. We have had many arguments and debates in this House on the condition of agriculture, and it always seems that when anything real is put forward in order to experiment and to see what can be done to improve agriculture, specious arguments are brought forward 1228 such as we have heard this afternoon. If this were something to be done by general application, I should probably oppose it, because I like to see things tested out before they are applied. As this is only a matter of testing out, I hope that those who believe in agriculture, will support it.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
I can assure the hon. Member who has just spoken that I do not think that this is a smiling matter at all. It is a serious matter to Scotland. The hon. Member spoke about mechanised labour. I am certain that if you introduce mechanised labour on a large scale in Scotland, it will mean the end of Scottish agriculture and farming. The whole of Scottish agriculture has been built up by the skill and deep knowledge of the individual farmer. I am certain that it will never do to apply mechanisation and large-scale farming to Scotland, and if we try to imitate the large-scale methods of production which are in operation in the great wheat countries of the world like Canada and Russia, we shall never be able to compete for a moment with their products. If that is the line upon which we are going to advance in regard to agriculture in Scotland, the outlook is blacker than I thought. The Government have done little enough for agriculture up to date, and if they are going to embark on large-scale farming in Scotland, they will give agriculture there a final blow.
I want to ask the Secretary of State whether he has any evidence that large-scale farming operations, so far as any particular commodity is concerned, would be suitable to be applied in any part of Scotland? We really deserve to have that information. I am certain that in Aberdeenshire they will be most unsuitable. We have as fine a type of agriculture there as exists in any part of the world. We breed a special type of cattle, and our breeders are the most expert of any almost that can be found upon the civilised globe. Indeed, we send Aberdeen Angus cattle out to the Argentine every year. How have they managed to obtain that position? It is by sheer individual skill and application, and is it supposed that large-scale farms or mechanised labour would ever have produced the herds that exist at Aberdeenshire to-day? I understand that mention has 1229 been made of the hen farm at Corstorphine. As a native of Corstorphine, I would like to ask the Secretary of State whether that farm is not privately owned, and whether he can give us any guarantee that the corporation which is to be set up to direct farming operations in Scotland would set up another hen farm, and whether Scotland can contain another hen farm of the size?
As one of the representatives of Aberdeenshire, I would like to say that I am not arguing that we cannot do with the money in Scotland. We want it, and I hope that the Secretary of State, even if he decides to accept this Amendment, will make it clear that he wants to get his proper share of the money that is to be spent by this piebald board which is going to be set up. We can spend it much better than conducting experiments of large-scale farms. Why not hand it over to the research department of the Department of Agriculture? There are 15 or 20 ways in which this money could be spent to great advantage to Scottish agriculture, and the only way it can be spent without any advantage at all is the way suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. There is a good deal of loose talk in Scotland just now—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—in Scotland, not in the House of Commons, and particularly by the supporters of hon. Gentlemen opposite, about Home Rule for Scotland. I do not believe that there is any urgent demand in Scotland for Home Rule in its widest sense, but if we are going to hand over a large part of the direction of new methods of Scottish agriculture to a committee composed principally of Englishmen, who are to tell us what sort of farms are best suited to Scotland, there will be deep and justifiable resentment among the whole of the agricultural community of Scotland. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he would fulfil the purpose of his office very much better if he stipulated first for the cash, and, secondly, for the right to have it spent by Scotsmen in Scotland, and for purposes that will be of some advantage to Scottish agriculture.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Mr. William Adamson)
In response to the direct appeal that has just been made, I rise to say once more what has been said before with regard to the Amendment. I rise at this stage for 1230 the purpose of shortening the discussion. This question was thoroughly discussed upstairs, and by a majority the provision was inserted in the Bill. The object of the Amendment is simply to cut out Scotland from this particular benefit. The Bill provides for a considerable sum of money—£1,000,000—being spent on large-scale farms and experiments in large-scale farming. The Amendment proposes to cut Scotland out of any benefits that would accrue from an experiment of this kind. It is true that if the experiments were proceeded with in England and were successful, the experience would be available to Scotland, but that would not be of the same benefit to Scotland as if part of the experiment had taken place in Scotland itself. I could have understood some English Member proposing to cut Scotland out of the Bill, but I cannot understand a Scotsman putting forward an Amendment that will cut out his country from whatever benefit is to accrue from the spending of this money.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I could have understod some Englishman or Welshman moving such an Amendment, but I cannot understand any Scottish Member proposing to cut out his country from the benefit that is to come to agriculture by the spending of this £1,000,000. It passes my comprehension. More particularly am I surprised when I find first one Aberdeenshire Member and then another rising to support the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot). As the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove does not represent a farming constituency, he may be forgiven for moving such an Amendment, but that it should be supported by Members from Aberdeenshire passes my comprehension. [Interruption.] I frankly plead guilty to having that particular Scottish trait very fully developed. I want my country to have its share of whatever benefits are going, either in agriculture or anything else.
What reasons have been given for the attitude which these Scottish Members have taken up? The hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove quoted something I said during the Committee stage. He said that I stated that I did not take the view that large-scale farming would 1231 lead to more unemployment, but, rather, that it would provide more employment. I am not departing from the statement I made in Committee. I have again examined the question since then and feel the statement I then made will bear examination. The hon. and gallant Member may have forgotten that I went on to say that both the Minister for Agriculture and myself were having question after question put to us with the object of bringing out the difficulties looming ahead of agriculture and the large tracts of land going out of cultivation. If they were going out of cultivation, I said, surely it was all the more necessary that we should have an experiment of this kind to test—
§ Mr. SKELTON
What kind of agricultural experiment has the right hon. Gentleman in view in his large-scale farming proposals? Is it arable, grass, sheep, or what kind of farming?
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I hope the hon. Member will restrain himself for a few minutes. I have no intention of shirking the points that have been put to me. I am dealing with them one by one, at least I am attempting to do so, and I am doing my best, and if the hon. Member will restrain his enthusiasm, I may have the opportunity of giving him a little information which he does not possess. I was pointing out that if it was true that large tracts of land were going out of cultivation, it was all the more reason for experiments to see whether it was necessary for us to allow this land to go derelict.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I was pointing out that question after question had been addressed to the Minister of Agriculture and myself pointing out that land was going out of cultivation, and that something ought to be done for agriculture.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
The questions applied to Scotland as well as to England. The hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove went on to say there was no demand for an experiment in large-scale farming in Scotland, and that view was put in a different form by the hon. Mem- 1232 ber for Kincardine (Mr. Scott) and by the hon. and learned Member for East Fife (Mr. Millar) as well as by the last speaker. They tried to make play with a very good example which had been given by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of what had been done in one instance, which is an excellent instance of what can be accomplished on a large scale. [Interruption.] Whether these experiments are to be undertaken by the State or private individuals is only raised on that side of the House. One excellent example has been given of large-scale farming, and I will give another. This time I go to the part of the country represented by the hon. Member for East Fife and myself. If the hon. Member for East Fife knew his constituency as well as I know it, he would have known that large-scale farming was taking place there.
§ Mr. MILLAR
That is the whole point I made in my speech. It is taking place under private enterprise—in my constituency and in others.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
If it is taking place successfully, whether under private enterprise or in any other form we ask why it should not be applicable to Scotland? If that is the situation then the whole case of hon. Members opposite goes by the board. Particulars of the other experiment are contained in this letter, which is dated 23rd November, 1930, and was written when we were discussing the Bill in Committee:I am much interested in the proposals brought forward by the Government for establishing experimental farms on a large scale. I have been doing something of the kind myself, and am now farming about 1,000 acres, principally arable. I work almost entirely with tractors. I built and equipped a model dairy and supply T.T. certified milk from pedigree Ayrshires. I have a herd of pedigree large white pigs, and local pedigree sheep, and I have just started a herd of A.A. tested, also pedigrees. I have erected a silo, and am one of the few successful growers of lucerne in Scotland. I feel a great more could be done on these lines if one had the advantage of the scientific knowledge that is being daily gathered by the various departments of the Board of Agriculture. I do not now know how you will propose to start the scheme in Scotland, but I should welcome any proposal for collaboration. I have already done a great deal of spade work, and with cheap electricity available, water power, and my awn private railway running through the farm to facilitate transport, it would take 1233 very little to make my farm a very successful model and, even in these times, not unprofitable.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
There you have a very good example of large-scale farming in Scotland, which illustrates the point I made when I was speaking of the likelihood of more people being employed rather than fewer if large-scale farming were adopted.
The next point with which I wish to deal was raised by the hon. Member for Kincardine. He took up the same position as the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove and the hon. Member for East Fife, that there was no demand for this in Scotland, and he wanted to know where the Government would get the land. He said, "Do the Government propose to buy up the smallholdings and the farms in Aberdeenshire?" I say quite frankly that so far as I, personally, am concerned I have no such idea in my mind. Nobody has a greater respect for the Aberdeenshire farmers than I have, and if I can do anything to help them I will do it, and I will do nothing to hinder. But while there may not be much land available in Aberdeenshire, that does not mean that there is not land available in other parts of the country. I could take hon. Members to a part of Scotland where there are tens of thousands of acres which have been allowed to go out of cultivation, land which at the present moment is feeding one sheep to the two acres. A part of the land to which I refer is in the constituency of the hon. and gallant Member for Midlothian (Major Colville). Take that large stretch of land running from the borders of Edinburgh right down to the borders of Ayrshire—thousands upon thousands of acres waiting to be farmed in a practical way! I hope that will be some comfort to the hon. Member who raised the point. There are thousands of acres of land in Scotland waiting to be properly farmed, and at the present moment they are being misused, so far as farming is concerned.
The next point with which I wish to deal was raised by the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby), who told us that the Government had done nothing for the farmers, and he also asked if the Secretary of State for Scotland would tell 1234 the House what the Government intended to do. First of all, I will deal with the hon. Member's statement that the Government have done nothing for the farmers.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will confine his remarks more to the Amendment before the House.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I will try to keep within the Rules of Order, but I was replying to an observation made by the hon. Member for East Aberdeen, and it is not the first time that a statement of that kind has been made. I want to attempt to do for agriculture what we are trying to do for the fishing industry. May I here point out that the Government got very little help from the hon. Member for East Aberdeen in their efforts to help the fishing industry.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The right hon. Gentleman must really confine his remarks to the question of the extension to Scotland of this particular Clause.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
The right hon. Gentleman has accused the of not giving adequate assistance to the Government in their attempt to assist the fishermen, and that is a very grave accusation.
§ Major ELLIOT
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is not, going to leave this question there, because I know that the hon. Member for East Aberdeen badgered the right hon. Gentleman day after day on that very question.
If the right hon. Gentleman is not going to answer those questions, then he ought to withdraw the statement which he has made.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I was proceeding to deal with the first point, which is only one of five or six different things for which the Government are making provision. One of those things is large- scale farming. I want to come back strictly to the Amendment that is now before the House. Our view is that if we are to have experiments in large-scale farming under this Bill, and money is to be spent upon that object, Scotland should share in the benefit. Under this Measure, Scotland will have its fair share of representation on the Corporation, and that representation will see that the interests of Scotland are preserved. So far as I am personally concerned, I have 1235 no fear about large-scale farming experiments being as successful in Scotland as in England, and I believe they will be successful in both countries. My opinion is that there is as much room for the success of those experiments in Scotland as in England.
Several hon. Members opposite have taken up the position that it would be much better if the money we are proposing to spend on these experiments were spent in other directions, but I do not agree with that contention. I believe that if we proceed with these experiments by different methods of farming with a view to finding out what is best for the agricultural industry, we shall get much valuable information that will enable us to judge whether the old methods of farming, or the methods proposed under this Bill, are the most advantageous to the agricultural industry. We shall get information that is available at the present moment only in a limited degree by having experiments made both in Scotland and England, and we shall obtain experience that will be for the benefit of the agricultural industry. We want to engage in large-scale farming in Scotland, as provided for in this Bill, instead of leaving it to private enterprise, as hon. Members opposite desire.
The agricultural industry, like the future of other industries, will become more and more mechanised in the near future than ever it has been in the past, and that is the reason why we want to adopt this type of large-scale farming. When the Government are proposing to make experiments of this character, I see no reason in the world why we should not adopt large-scale farming as well as the other types which are provided for in the Bill. I hope that the House will reject this Amendment for excluding my country from the benefits of this Bill by a substantial majority.
§ Sir R. HUTCHISON
My opinion is that Scotland ought to have control of its own experiments, and it is wrong for any Board in London to control anything in the direction of mechanised farming in Scotland which ought to be distinctly part of the work of the Scottish Board of Agriculture. The first proposition raised by the Amendment is that Scotland ought to be omitted from the actions 1236 of this Board, and that if any money is to be spent on experimental farming in Scotland, it should be done separately by the Board of Agriculture in Scotland. From the point of view of large-scale farming, Scotland is quite unsuited for such work. Everyone knows that experiments are going on now in Hampshire and Norfolk in connection with large-scale farming, and they are introducing mechanised farming from the Argentine and elsewhere, using Canadian machines and other large mechanised paraphernalia for cereal growing.
The hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) pointed out correctly that Scottish agriculture depended for its success on the expertness of individuals, not only farmers but also farm workers. It has been clearly proved that in large-scale mechanised farming, while you may get a cheaper production the crop is smaller, and therefore, if we desire to get any real advantage in Scotland out of farming, we should foster that fine breed of persons who are employed on the arable land in Scotland, and in Norfolk and Berkshire, and see that the land is being cultivated to the best advantage. These experiments on large-scale farming are not required. They should certainly be carried out by private enterprise, because the expenditure of money for this purpose in Scotland is a sheer waste.
As far as Scotland is concerned, I am very much opposed to any such experiment. It may be desired to carry out such experiments in England, but if you get private enterprise to carry them out it is far better than the State undertaking them. I know some of those experiments in England have been successful, but in Scotland the land is quite unsuitable for large-scale farming. At the present time Scottish farms are cultivated to their full capacity, and you are getting returns at the present moment from the land which can never be got by a system of large-scale farming. For these reasons, I think there is a great deal of justification for this Amendment, and if we are to spend money on these experiments, the expenditure should be under the control of the Scottish Board of Agriculture, and not under the control of a Board in London.
§ 7.0 p.m.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I am sure that many hon. Members will agree with the argument which has been put before the House by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Montrose (Sir R. Hutchison). We could hardly have had a less convincing reply to the many speeches which we have heard in favour of the Amendment than that which we have had from the Secretary of State for Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman largely ignored the arguments advanced from this side and with so much cogency from hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman 7.0 p.m. man of the views he expressed in Committee in regard to a sub-committee of this corporation being set up to control its operations in Scotland. One of my hon. Friends moved to set up a Scottish sub-committee on the Board, and he was begged by the right hon. Gentleman not to press the Amendment as it was quite contrary to the principles embodied in the Bill. Therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman talks, as he has done this evening, about having these large-scale experiments in Scotland, it is perfectly clear that they will be managed by a corporation mainly, if not entirely, English. It must be at least one on which Scotland cannot hope to have more than a small minority of members and which will carry on its work with headquarters in England. It is bound to be so much occupied with the problems of English agriculture that it may well be that it will have only a small part of its time to spare for Scottish affairs. The right hon. Gentleman cannot have been Secretary of State for a second time without realising some of the difficulties in Scottish farming and without realising the tremendous variety of soils in Scotland. Why, in my own constituency I have extremes of land, the hills which can only pasture sheep and same of the rich lowland arable land which grows crops which will bear comparison with crops anywhere.
There is another point which seems to have been entirely ignored by Government speakers, and that is the very high standard of farming that we have in many parts of Scotland. One of the things of which we are proud in Scotland is the way in which the Scottish farmer, particularly in the Lowlands, has built up a 1238 type of farm which we believe can challenge comparison with those in any part of the world. A year or two ago a report was published showing how greatly the yield per acre had increased in Scottish farming during the last 50 years. It can also be shown how much progress has been made in the early fattening of cattle and sheep and in the increased yield from pasture, all pointing to the diligence, skill, and knowledge of the Scottish farmers in their work. I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he can name any country in which there is a higher yield per acre than Scotland, and yet it is to Scottish agriculture of that type, wrestling with tremendous difficulties, that he comes and says, by implication, "You do not know how to manage your affairs, and, if only we can get a corporation, composed mainly of English people, it is going to improve matters in Scotland."
The right hon. Gentleman must know that Scottish farmers are absolutely at one tin saying that the trouble is uncontrolled imports. With one voice, they say, "Give us some control over imports, and we shall be able to bold our own." It is perfectly futile to say that if only we have a corporation, mainly English in knowledge and personnel, even with up-to-date machinery, it will be able to do for Scottish farming what the Scottish farmer finds very difficult to do at present. Then the right hon. Gentleman tells us that large-scale farming is already in existence in Scotland. That has been already pointed out, and it is the very best reason for leaving it alone. Could you have any better indication of how up-to-date and progressive it can be than the fact that, in spite of all the difficulties in recent years, and with no State subvention, and when the Scottish banks have not been as ready to give agricultural credits as their colleagues in England, Scottish farmers have yet been able to start these large-scale experiments? And how does the right hon. Gentleman propose to help the men who have been able to make these experiments? He proposes to come in and help them by setting up competitors who will have State subventions and be able to borrow on more favourable terms than the ordinary farmer, thereby putting the farmers in what seems to me a posi- 1239 tion in which they will be faced with very unfair competition. That assuredly seems an amazing way in which to help the Scottish farmer struggling in days of worse adversity than he has ever known. He may well say that he distrusts the Greeks even when they approach him with gifts, because it is quite obvious that, if money is going to be spent in subsidising certain State experiments in competition with the experiments built up by private enterprise, the last state of the Scottish farmer may well be worse than the first.
The right hon. Gentleman should remember that no one has suggested that we should not get Scotland's fair share of what money may be available under the Bill. We have more confidence in the right hon. Gentleman's Department of Agriculture than he has himself, because we say that his agricultural Department is doing very valuable work in the way of research in many directions although it is inadequately supplied with funds, and however little the right hon. Gentleman may interest himself in the matter we believe it could make very good use of whatever may be Scotland's due share under this Bill. Therefore, we say that the proposals of the Bill constitute an affront to Scottish agriculture, for by implication they seem to suggest that, in the view of the Government, the Scottish farmer does not know his own business and that it would be better known by what will mainly be an English corporation. I cannot conceive anything more likely to incense men who are struggling with great difficulties and who a year ago came to this House and, irrespective of party, told us what they wanted and who now see their suggestions ignored by the Government. It is a preposterous suggestion that, through the setting up of a corporation, mainly English, wonderful things will follow such as the Scottish farmer cannot achieve for himself. It has been quite clear from the attitude of the Secretary of State in regard to a Scottish sub-committee—
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
May I point out that that Amendment has not yet been reached, and it is utterly out of order to discuss it.
Duchess of ATHOLL
We shall wait with great interest to see what is the attitude of the Government on that matter, but we have not come to the Debate with high hopes considering the response which was made in Committee. As there has been a chorus of resentment at the suggestion that Scottish agriculture should be managed by what otherwise must mainly be an English board, I hope it will be possible for the Government a little later to be less unyielding on this matter than they have been hitherto. I cannot conceive any proposal more out of harmony with the attitude which the right hon. Gentleman and the Under-Secretary are apt to take in regard to Scottish matters as a whole than this suggestion of handing over the experiments to a corporation mainly English. It is only a few days ago that I read with considerable interest a speech of the Under-Secretary delivered in Scotland, the climax of which was that there was an overwhelming case for the devolution of Scottish affairs. I can hardly imagine anything less in keeping with that speech than that the right hon. Gentleman and the Under-Secretary should come here and say, in regard to agriculture, which is inalienable—for you cannot remove land out of a country, it must necessarily be the most national and distinctive asset of any country—and which in the last 20 years has been under the Board of Agriculture, that the Board is now to be ignored, that we are to leave on one side all the accumulated experience of 20 years, and that we shall have much better farms if only this mainly English corporation is put in control of large-scale experiments.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
May I be allowed to remove the misapprehension which seems to exist in the mind of certain hon. Members, including the Noble Lady, with reference to the Government's attitude upon the succeeding Amendment. If all the trouble is as to how the affairs of the corporation are to be administered in Scotland, then I submit that that might be reserved until we come to the next Amendment. The issue ought not to be clouded by an appeal to nationalist sentiment—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
These Amendments seem to be very much bound up together. They all refer to the question whether Scotland should be excluded from the 1241 operation of this particular Clause, and, of course, reasons which may bear on any other Amendment may be used as an argument for excluding Scotland from the operation of the Clause.
§ Major ELLIOT
May I say in a sentence what our view is? It is simply, in the first place, that we should desire Scotland to be excluded, and we shall divide on that to bring out our point of view. If Scotland is included, then we shall hope the Government will meet us on the further point that the affairs of this corporation should be administered in Scotland as far as possible. We desire that a due proportion of the finance should be left to the Scottish Sub-Committee. The general proposition which we are putting is that we should leave Scotland out, but if it is put in, then we desire as much devolution in Scotland as possible.
§ Dr. ADDISON
The point to which hon. Members have been devoting themselves is as to whether Scotland should or should not be excluded from the operation of the Clause, and, as I understood it when we had it in Committee, it would be followed by a discussion of the following Amendments dealing with the principles of the Clause itself and large-scale farming. There is lower down on the Paper an Amendment relating to the management of the affairs in Scotland if Scotland remains in. I cannot conceive anything more reactionary or shortsighted than the proposal to leave Scotland out. Later on we deal with the main points in regard to the internal Scottish side of the business. I should like, though I could not take the form of words on the Paper, between now and later on to try to come to some agreement as to the form of the Scottish management that would meet objections. If this matter can be kept alive on the understanding that we can discuss it when we get to it, we may now be able to come to a decision upon the main question which is before the Committee.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Do I understand, Mr. Speaker, that you propose to call the later Amendment standing in the name of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot)—in page 2, line 5, at the end, to insert the words: 1242Provided that the affairs of the corporation as regards Scotland shall be administered, controlled, and managed by a sub-committee of the board, which shall hold its meetings in Scotland, and such subcommittee shall have the right to co-opt additional members to the extent of one-third of its number.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
One could have better appreciated the position taken up by the Noble Lady the Member for Kinross (Duchess of Atholl), and other Members on the Conservative and Liberal benches, if their arguments had really been directed to the Amendment which is before the House. This Amendment does not deal with the question of a Scottish corporation, but with the question of the exclusion of Scotland from experiments in connection with large-scale farming—
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
Let me repeat that the Amendment before the House is not designed to set up a Scottish corporation or to constitute a separate fund for the carrying out of large-scale farming in Scotland. It is designed for only one purpose, and that is the exclusion of Scotland from experiments in connection with large-scale farming.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
Exactly, but let us deal with questions as they arise. No one is more anxious than I am that Scotland shall not be dragged at the tail of England, but shall have the right to look after its own affairs. I have never given away the rights of Scotland so easily and speedily as hon. Members opposite. The only question before us is whether Scotland shall have the advantage of any experiments that may take place in connection with large-scale farming. Surely, the experience that Scottish Members have had, and particularly those representing agricultural constituencies, because of certain action that we took not so many years ago in separating Scottish from English administration on the question of finance, should have taught us at least to be very careful, when it is not a question of Scottish law or administration, or credits, or agricultural interests, but merely a question of experiments, not to be so desperately anxious to separate ourselves from Great Britain administra- 1243 tion and seek to claim a Scottish administration. Questions have come repeatedly, and from none more repeatedly than those on the Liberal benches, on the fact that we have never been able to get the Agricultural Credits Act to operate in Scotland, because we demanded, rightly or wrongly—I am inclined to think now, as the result of experience, that it was wrongly—that there should be a separate Act for Scotland. Had we accepted a Great Britain corporation, Scottish agriculturists would to-day have been getting the benefit of the Agricultural Credits Act, which we are now doing our best to operate in Scotland, but to which we can only get four banks to agree.
That experience has taught me that, when we are dealing with finance, and not with Scottish characteristics or agriculture, it is far better to have a Great Britain corporation than a separate Scottish corporation. I think I represent the finest agricultural area in Great Britain. [Interruption.] Perhaps it might be said that the land in the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is better than that in mine—[Interruption.] There appears to be a great deal of competition as to which is the best, but there are thousands of acres of land in Midlothian to-day that are uncultivated. I do not wish to see any single farmer in that county displaced, and there is plenty of land there on which we can experiment, either by way of reclamation or by way of large-scale farming. For this reason I sincerely trust that Scotland will be kept within the scope of the Bill, that the Amendment will be rejected, and that it may be possible for any experiments in large-scale farming to apply to Scotland as well as to England.
§ Mr. SKELTON
I should not have intervened but for the complete failure—no doubt it was not in the least through discourtesy—of the Secretary of State to answer the question which I ventured to put to him as to what form of farming was going to be undertaken on the Government large-scale farms if these were introduced in Scotland. As far as I can gather, it is to be a form of farming which is going to increase the number of people or the land. That would seem as though it were to be 1244 arable farming, but it was hinted by the right hon. Gentleman, and definitely stated by the hon. Member for Peebles (Mr. Westwood), that the kind of land upon which these Government large-scale farms are to be placed is land which no farmer is cultivating now. I am left completely in the dark as to what is in the mind of the Government. In the first place, no land has gone derelict in Scotland. Land has changed from arable to grass, but, so far as I know, and the Secretary of State did not give any example, no land has gone derelict in the sense in which certain districts in the East of England have gone or are going derelict.
Therefore, one vital question is whether, is this large-scale farming, an attempt is merely going to be made to convert land which is under grass into arable farms again? Or is it the case that, as the hon. Member for Peebles seems to suggest, the attempt is going to be made to introduce arable farming in that cold, wild, bleak, upland district stretching between the Pentlands and Ayrshire, which has the coldest soil and is the most wind-swept district in the South of Scotland? If so, the expenditure of £1,000,000 on this must be resisted by the House of Commons, because it will be £1,000,000 thrown, not into the sea, but into the coldest and most hopeless agricultural adventure that even a Government Department ever entered upon. The truth of the matter is that, thanks to the extraordinary skill of the Scottish farmers, every acre of Scotland is being used in the very highest way that is possible under the fiscal system under which we live, and, if the right hon. Gentleman thinks that he or the English corporation can make a success of arable farming in districts where individual Scottish farmers have failed, he is making a gigantic mistake
Again, what is going to be the size of these large-scale farms? Wherever the land is good in Scotland, and I believe that the same is true in England also, the farming is already on a large scale. The right hon. Gentleman, with an ingenuousness which I thought did his heart more credit than his head, read a letter from a large-scale farmer, whose object, clearly, was to sell his farm, and I thought I had hardly ever read a better worded advertisement. It was the 1245 sort of letter which is reported to have been received by a distinguished criminal from a member of the jury who convicted him, saying that he was very sorry that he had agreed to a verdict of "Guilty," because he was quite certain that he had made a mistake in doing so, and concluding: "P.S.—Can you lend me half-a-crown?" That is the quality of the letter which the right hon. Gentleman read. He quoted it as a kind of example of the large-scale farming that he had in view—a farm of 1,000 acres. There are, however, hundreds of farms of 1,000 acres already cultivated, and the right hon. Gentleman's efforts will show nothing as to what can be done on a farm of 1,000 acres.
Further, there is not a man acquainted with and interested in the rural life of Scotland who does not feel that one of the gravest social evils of our rural life is the extension of large-scale farming. There is not a class that does not lament the growth of what in Scotland is called the "led" farm, where one farmer cultivates three, four, five, six, or even a dozen farms, the total acreage of which is, not 1,000, but 3,000, 4,000 or 5,000. That is lamented because in these cases you get farmhouses out of occupation, you get cowmen's cottages out of occupation; and it is, perhaps, one of the most anxious features of Scottish farming today that the led farms are increasing every year. The Ted farm is simply large-scale farming, conducted, I agree, by most skilful individuals. What advantage is there in adding, to the privately-run large-scale farms, farms which are going to cost the country £1,000,000? The thing is fantastic.
Everyone knows what the origin of this Clause is. It is not a desire to imitate Russia. Everyone who has studied the question knows that it had its origin in the Ministry of Agriculture, and the cause of its being introduced into this Bill, where it is a complete excrescence and a complete monstrosity, is this: Everyone knows it, but I wish to state it clearly in this House. The agricultural colleges produce year by year a number of highly-trained and skilled students. They do not all go back to farms; they do not all find occupation under private enterprise. The Ministry of Agriculture, I believe, has long been anxious to give these highly-trained fellows something to play with, and the 1246 Government large-scale farms seem to be the best thing for them to play with. That is the departmental origin of this Clause, and that is one of the reasons why I think it is an outrage to bring Scotland into its ambit.
§ Dr. ADDISON
We are, I understand, going to discuss presently the question of large-scale farming, and then the adjectives which have been used by the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Skelton) may, perhaps, be properly considered. This particular Amendment relates to the exclusion of Scotland. We have discussed it now for a very long time, and I appeal to hon. Members to allow it to be disposed of.
§ Sir ARTHUR STEEL-MAITLAND
On this subject I speak, not as an English Member, but as a residenter in Scotland. I do not wish for a moment to argue the question of large-scale farming as a whole. What the Minister wants, if this Clause is passed, is to make experiments in large-scale farming. Why cannot he leave Scotland out of his experiments? That is the sole question which is raised by this Amendment. The Minister has opportunity enough in England to experiment if he passes this Clause; why cannot he leave out Scotland? I have listened to as much of this Debate as I could before I was obliged to go away, and what brought me to my feet was something that I heard before I had to leave, and, later, the remarks of the hon. Member for Peebles (Mr. Westwood). The only defence that I heard from the Under-Secretary was the suggestion that it is hardly conceivable that this Clause could ever be applied to Scotland, and, therefore—I hope I am not misrepresenting him—let us not alter the Bill, but leave the Government free to apply the Clause to Scotland. In those circumstances, it is really ludicrous that the Government should not consent to the Amendment.
There are just one or two arguments with which perhaps I might be allowed to deal. The first was from the hon. Member for Central Bristol (Mr. Alpass), who asked why, seeing that there was one Forestry Commission, functioning both in Scotland and in England, this Clause should not be allowed to apply to Scotland, and why an English corporation should not have power to function in Scotland also. His own argument shows 1247 the weakness of the case. There is one Forestry Commission, is true, for the two countries, but you have two Departments of Agriculture, because the conditions are so extraordinarily different in the two countries. I come to the question raised by the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Westwood). I know Midlothian from an agricultural point of view probably as well as the hon. Member, and I would ask him whether he can point to any part of that county where large-scale farming would pay and whether, if it was introduced in any ordinary part of the county, it would not be an absurdity to have managing it one single corporation, of which, of course, the headquarters would be in this country. I know some of the large-scale farms there intimately and the people who conduct them. They make them pay because they have a personal, intimate knowledge of the conditions there. I know them just outside Edinburgh. They are extraordinarily skilful and very able men. They manage to scratch along in these hard times for farming only because they know how they can work in and out with the manure that can be produced in Edinburgh and the services they can perform for carting and the rest of it.
Here you get, by the hypothesis of this Bill, one corporation whose business it is to promote large-scale farming. It is obvious that the first object of a corporation of this kind would be to try to run large wheat farms in England. Some such have been tried experimentally, and a few with moderate success, but it is inconceivable that a body which is primarily engaged with these should also make a practical success of dealing with conditions such as I have described in Midlothian or dealing with the great fruit growing districts in Perthshire mentioned by the Under-Secretary. The moment a corporation, whose primary object was large-scale adventures in England, tried to make a
§ secondary object of running some large-scale farm up there, whether one of those highly cultivated Midlothian farms or in some of the fruit-growing districts, they would make a most calamitous mess of the whole operation. Every practical man who has to do with Scottish farming at all knows it. If the Minister has scope enough for his adventures in England, why cannot he cut the poor country of Scotland out of the ambit of the misfortunes that would follow upon the application of the Bill?
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
I want to intervene, as a Member for an English constituency, in Scottish affairs on account of what was said by the Under-Secretary that large-scale farming could be made to pay. He instanced a farm in Lincolnshire, my own county, but he was careful not to say which farm it was. I know two or three large-scale farms which have made a success—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Gentleman's remarks would be more suitable to the next Amendment.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
The Under-Secretary entered upon a considerable argument in the matter of large-scale farming. I do not think you, Sir, were in the Chair at the time. If it is not in order, I will reserve my remarks until later. Hon. Members have assumed that the definition of large-scale farming is farming large areas, but the hon. Gentleman distinctly said it was not area, but large-scale, perhaps with a small area with intensive or other cultivation. I do not know whether the Scottish people realise the kind of thing they are going to be let in for. I think this large-scale farming will not suit Scotland, and, therefore, I support the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 245; Noes, 171.1251
|Division No. 97.]||AYES.||[7.27 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Ayles, Walter||Bowen, J. W.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.|
|Addison. Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Broad, Francis Alfred|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Barnes, Alfred John||Brockway, A. Fenner|
|Alpass, J. H.||Bellamy, Albert||Bromfield, William|
|Ammon, Charles George||Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Brooke, W.|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Brothers, M.|
|Arnott, John||Benson, G.||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Blindell, James||Brown. Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Buchanan, G.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)||Pybus, Percy John|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Eliand)||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Cameron, A. G.||Kelly, W. T.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Cape, Thomas||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Kinley, J.||Raynes, W. R.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kirkwood, D.||Richards, R.|
|Chater, Daniel||Knight, Holford||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Clarke, J. S.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Ritson, J|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Law, A. (Rosendale)||Romeril, H. G.|
|Compton, Joseph||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Cove, William G.||Lawson, John James||Rowson, Guy|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Leach, W.||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Daggar, George||Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)||Sanders, W. S.|
|Dallas, George||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Sandham, E.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lees, J.||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Dickson, T.||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Scurr, John|
|Dukes, C.||Logan, David Gilbert||Sexton, Sir James|
|Duncan, Charles||Lonqbottom, A. W.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Longden, F.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lunn, William||Shield, George William|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Egan, W. H.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Elmley, viscount||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Shinwell, E.|
|Foot, Isaac||McElwee, A.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Freeman, Peter||McEntee, V. L.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||McKinlay, A.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||McShane, John James||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Gill, T. H.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Gillett, George M.||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Snell, Harry|
|Glassey, A. E.||March, S.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Gossling, A. G.||Marcus, M.||Sorensen, R.|
|Gould, F.||Markham, S. F.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Marley, J.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Marshall, Fred||Strachey, E. J. St. Los|
|Granville, E.||Mathers, George||Strauss, G. R.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Matters, L. W.||Sullivan, J.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Maxton, James||Sutton, J. E.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Melville, Sir James||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Messer, Fred||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Middleton, G.||Thorne, W. (West Ham. Plaistow)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Milner, Major J.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Montague, Frederick||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Tout, W. J.|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Morley, Ralph||Townend, A. E.|
|Harbord, A.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Hardie, George D.||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Mort, D. L.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Walker, J.|
|Haycock, A. W.||Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Mayday, Arthur||Muff, G.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Hayes, John Henry||Muggeridge, H. T.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Naylor, T. E.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Henderson, Arthur, junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Noel Baker, P. J.||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Herriotts, J.||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Hirst, G. H. (York, W.R., Wentworth)||Oldfield, J. R.||West, F. R.|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Oliver, George Harold (likeston)||Westwood, Joseph|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Palin, John Henry||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Paling, Wilfrid||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Horrabin, J. F.||Palmer, E. T.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Perry, S. F,||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Isaacs, George||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Jenkins, Sir William||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Phillips, Dr. Marion||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester,Loughb'gh)|
|Johnston, Thomas||Picton-Turbervill, Edith|
|Jones, F. Llewellyn, (Flint)||Pole, Major D. G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown||Potts, John S.||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Price, M. P.||William Whiteley.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Atkinson, C.||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman|
|Albery, Irving James||Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Bird, Ernest Roy|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Boothby, R. J. G.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Beaumont, M. W.||Boyce, Leslie|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J.(Kent, Dover)||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Bracken, B.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Brass, Captain Sir William|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Peake, Capt. Osbert|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Penny, Sir George|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks,Newb'y)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Butler, R. A.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hanbury, C.||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Hartington, Marquess of||Remer, John R.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth,S.)||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Ross, Major Ronald D.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R J.||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Christie, J. A.||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Cockerill, Brig. General Sir George||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hurd, Percy A.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Savery, S. S.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Iveagh, Countess of||Scott, James|
|Crichton-Stuart. Lord C.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst.)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Smith. R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine,C.)|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Dawson Sir Philip||Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Long, Major Hon. Eric||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Lymington, Viscount||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Tinne, J. A.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Marjoribanks, Edward||Train, J.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Fielden, E. B.||Meller, R. J.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Fison, F. G. Clavering||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Ward, Lieut-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Millar, J. D.||Water-house. Captain Charles|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W||White, H. G.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Withers, Sir John James|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Muirhead, A. J.||Worthington-Evans. Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Nicholson. Col. Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||O'Neill, Sir H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Sir Frederick Thomson and Sir|
§ Captain DUGDALE
I beg to move, in page 1, line 19, to leave out the words "large scale."
The purpose of this Amendment is to have a discussion on the wisdom, or otherwise, of experiments in large-scale farming. I would refer the Minister of Agriculture to his opening remarks on the Second Reading of this Bill, when he used these words:It is high time that we, as a nation, made a considered and sustained endeavour to restore prosperity to and increase employment in the countryside."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1930; col. 1891, Vol. 244.]I am convinced that every Member on this side of the House, and, indeed, every Member wherever he sits in this House would, if he thought that large-scale farming would accomplish that purpose, heartily support it. In Committee upstairs we discussed this Clause for four 1252 days, and never during the whole of that time did the Minister tell us that this experiment would help either the agricultural industry or increase employment in our countryside. I will look at the position from the point of view of the agricultural industry. The problem today in that industry is not a problem of the method of tenure of agricultural land, but rather a problem of prices. If under private ownership and by private enterprise the farmer is unable to make his farming pay, why should a Minister come to the considered conclusion that, by engaging in a form of State farming, farming will be made an economic proposition?
All the economists and professors who have advocated large-scale farming have been of the opinion that, whereas the large-scale farm may be a good thing in certain parts of the country, and on certain kinds of land, you can only make 1253 it economically possible if to a very large extent you use the mechanised instrument, and that by so doing you would not encourage people to come back to the land but would drive more people away from the agricultural industry. The Minister, in the course of the Committee stage, referred to the fact that during the last three years upwards of a million acres have gone out of cultivation. He proposes, I understand, by this method of establishing large-scale farms, to get this million acres back again into cultivation. He has not told us in what form he proposes to get back these million acres into arable cultivation. Does he propose to go down to what one might term the black spots in the agricultural industry, the cereal areas throughout the country, in Norfolk, Sussex, Essex and the Wolds of Yorkshire? Does he propose to set up large-scale farms in those depressed districts? If so, what is likely to be the result? In those districts, the chief crop is wheat. At the present moment, right throughout the world the problem is not how to produce wheat but how to get a market for the wheat when it has been produced. That is particularly the case in this country. Even if through the establishment of large-scale farms it might be possible to get a very large acreage which has gone out of cultivation back into cultivation, would it not be inevitable that the operation would prove to be economically unsound?
To-day farmers throughout the country are losing money, but the position under the Minister's proposal would be worse in two ways. Not only would the farmers themselves have further competition to fight against in the State-subsidised farms, but the State farms also would lose money, and the loss would fall not upon the individual, but upon the ratepayers and the public throughout the country. Therefore, in my view, large-scale cereal farming at the present juncture, or until, at any rate, you remedy the question of price, would be unwise and untimely.
If the Minister does not propose to adopt cereal farming on a large scale, does he propose to look into the question of poultry farming? I remember that in the Committee stage the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland gave a most interesting and indeed an amusing address about 1254 a great poultry farm in the South of Scotland—I think it was Corstorphine—where there was an institution at which 200,000 laying hens were carrying out their duties most satisfactorily, and, further than that, that when the time came for them to depart this life there was an excellent machine which plucked the feathers of 120 birds in an hour. That is an experiment which has been carried out by private enterprise. We have had experiments before, so why is it necessary for the State to carry them out? The State might have a very successful venture, but is it necessary to spend public money when we have such an excellent example as that being carried out entirely through the initiative and private enterprise of a Scotsman?
Again, we have, throughout the country, examples of prosperous sheep farming under private enterprise even today, depressed as is the industry. A large part of the constituency which I have the honour to represent is devoted to sheep farming, and, although the House will appreciate that we who come from Yorkshire never admit that we are doing well, sometimes we are forced to admit that we are not taking as much harm from the present condition of things as other farmers in other parts of the industry. We have sheep farming being carried on under private enterprise, and I cannot conceive that large-scale sheep farming would be of any advantage to the State or of any educational value to those who may become farmers in later years.
I will refer to another branch of farming—dairy farming. There are many modern devices and methods of carrying on the milk trade, not the least of them being the milking machine. The milking is done by a mechanical process. In the Committee stage my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot) painted a harrowing picture of a great milking machine, as big as one of the large power stations, milking 200,000 cows at one time, and, at every beat of the great machine, getting a pint of milk from each cow. That is a fantastic illustration, but I should like to ask the Minister whether it is his intention to attempt to carry on large-scale farming in relation to the milk industry? In the Committee we asked the Minister on more than one occasion to explain to us—and I ask him 1255 again this evening as the House and the public have a right to know, when public money is being spent to this extent—in what direction is the money going to be spent? In the past, large-scale farms have not proved to be a success. It is admitted that they are experiments. When the industry is in such a serious condition, would it not be far better, if we have £1,000,000 to spend upon agriculture, to spend it in a manner which will really benefit the agricultural industry?
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Captain DUGDALE
I should be out of order if I began discussing the question of helping farmers in regard to the question of prices. I should be on the borderline, and so I think I will leave the matter at that. I am convinced that if there is £1,000,000 available for agriculture, the very worst way in which we can spend it is upon large-scale farming. The Minister always wears a smile, and is always prepared to meet you, but he always just knows where he is and is always very careful not to be let in. I would point out to him that, 8.0 p.m. in my judgment, there is no demand for this Bill, either from the agricultural industry or from the unemployed people. This is not a wrecking Amendment, because this is not a vital part of the Bill. The Bill is a curious mixture of large-scale farming on the one hand and small-scale farming on the other. They are contrary the one to the other, and this part of the Bill is not vital to what, in my view, is the main and most important part of the Bill, namely, the portion dealing with smallholdings. Though many of us may not agree with the methods and the time, yet there is no contrary view, I am convinced, as to the principle of smallholdings. I would ask the Minister if he cannot see fit to remove from the Bill the part dealing with large-scale farming. It can but result in a large expenditure of public money, which is not justifiable, which is not demanded, and which will do no good either to the agricultural industry or to the unemployed people in this country at the present time.
§ Lieut.-Colonel RUGGLES-BRISE
I beg to second the Amendment.
My hon. and gallant Friend who moved the Amendment suggested to the Govern- 1256 ment that they should leave out this part of the Bill and devote the £11,000,000 which is to be spent under it to some object more fruitful in benefit to agriculture, and the Minister interjected a query as to the direction in which this money might more profitably be spent. Of course, it is impossible to go into that question at length, but I might, in passing, suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that this £1,000,000 might be more fruitfully spent in one of several ways. To start with, I suppose he has not forgotten that the sugar-beet industry is faced with a great financial deficit, and he might help in that direction. Has he forgotten that the Royal Veterinary College is falling down? Perhaps £50,000 of that £1,000,000 might well and a great deal better have been applied to that particular purpose. Is he aware that wheat growing at this moment is wholly unprofitable and that £1,000,000 might have gone some way at least towards ensuring to the British farmer a more remunerative price for his wheat? I could go on, but these things leap to the mind at once.
To come back to the Amendment, I desire to frame my remarks rather in a series of questions to the right hon. Gentleman. I regret to have to do this, but, in view of the fact that during the protracted stages in Committee it was significant that we were never able to obtain clear and satisfactory replies from the right hon. Gentleman as to what his and the Government's intentions are in regard to this Bill, it is necessary to do it. I will start by asking this simple question: What is the purpose of this Clause, which proposes to set up farming on a large scale? There might be three purposes, and the first might be to give employment to more people. The State might say: "We will take over a large area of land for the express purpose of farming on a big scale and employing a very large number of people." Or they might say: "Our purpose in the first instance is not so much to give extra employment as to increase the volume of output, of production, in this country from our soil." Or, thirdly, there might be this object—to produce foodstuffs from the soil of this country at a lower cost.
I wonder which of the three is the true object in the right hon. Gentleman's 1257 mind. This third object, that of producing food at a lower cost, is unfortunately in almost direct conflict with the other two purposes, because, if you are going to produce food at a lower cost, it is certain that you will have to use a lower ratio of employment, and under the Jaw of diminishing returns it is clear that when we are operating at a very low level of prices, as we are at the present time, in order to produce at a lower cost it will be unprofitable to spend a great deal of money to secure a higher volume of employment. In order to get an answer from the right hon. Gentleman, I would put this to him: In introducing this Bill to the House, he based his claims for large-scale farming on two books. One was a book recently written by Professor Orwin.
§ Lieut. - Colonel RUGGLES - BRISE
At all events, the right hon. Gentleman thought the book I have mentioned worth bringing in to supplement the other arguments.
§ Lieut. - Colonel RUGGLES - BRISE
The other was an extract from the Selborne Report. It bas been pointed out in Committee upstairs, and very truly, that the right hon. Gentleman's quotation from the report was one taken, as an extract, from the context, and that the authors of that report expressly stated that when that report was read by anybody of an inquiring mind, no one particular portion should be taken out of its context. The right hon. Gentleman has committed the very mistake which the authors of the Selborne Report begged him not to make.
If his object is, as I assume it must be, to show the farmers of this country how to produce foodstuffs at a lower cost, in order that they may compete more successfully with their foreign competitors, one is driven to this corollary, that by so doing he will increase rather than decrease unemployment, which is hardly a desirable object at this moment. If, on the other hand, he is completely successful in showing the British farmer how to produce foodstuffs at a lower cost, will he have conferred a benefit on the British 1258 farmer He is now having a terrible struggle to compete with the foreign competitor, and he is to have an added competitor in the shape of the State competing against him with his own money.
The second question that I should like to address to the right hon. Gentleman has already been dealt with by my hon. and gallant Friend the Mover of the Amendment, and I will not dwell on it except to recapitulate the point. What is the form of farming in which the right hon. Gentleman intends to indulge? Surely he might tell us that. I have been at a loss to understand why he has been so reluctant hitherto to let us know what he really has in mind. Does he intend to go into large-scale farming by grouping together several large arable farms and by continuing the present methods, or is it his intention to convert these arable farms into one large prairie farm operated by machinery on a large scale? Or does he intend to make a great cattle ranch over a part of England, or to go in for milk production on a large scale? If the last-named, may I remind him that there is no lack of milk now in this country? Or is it pigs, or poultry, or potatoes that he has in mind? He has not told the House, he did not tell the Committee upstairs, and the country is completely at a loss to know what the right hon. Gentleman has in mind; and I contend that it is not right that this House should give permission to the Government to spend this vast sum of money until we do know the direction in which it is going to be spent.
Again, what is to be the size of the farms which the right hon. Gentleman intends the Corporation to operate, and where are they to be? It is true that during the course of the Debates in Committee we had a reference from the right hon. Gentleman to the thousands of acres of land which would be suitable in the Welsh hills, but he did not tell us how many of those thousands of acres he intended to take over, nor did he tell us what he was going to use them for when he had acquired them. He left us again completely in the dark. But may I point out that in this country at this moment there is really no size of farm of which we have not numerous examples? We have examples of every kind of farm, from the smallest to the largest. The right hon. Gentleman reminded the 1259 House, I think on the Second Reading, and certainly in Committee, of the large-scale farms in Lincolnshire run by Dennis Brothers, about which we have heard so much, and in fact he quoted, in his speech on the Second Reading, a passage from the book by Professor Orwin as follows:I can point to a book published a few weeks ago by Professor Orwin, who points to a very considerable number of highly successful large-scale experiments where the man had the capital and the courage to undertake them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1930; col. 1894, Vol. 244.]That entirely destroys the right hon. Gentleman's case for the State now to take a hand in large-scale farming. It is quite unnecessary. Unless he is going to demonstrate to the farmers of this country that there is a form of farming which nobody has yet tried successfully, then this £1,000,000 which he is asking us to vote for this experiment cannot be justified.
What is the purpose underlying this particular proposal of large-scale State farming? If the right hon. Gentleman cannot give us a satisfactory answer, if he cannot tell us the real purpose which he has in mind, the form of farming which he intends to operate, or what is the size of farm which he has in mind, then indeed the House is at a loss to know the purpose underlying this particular part of the Bill. Is it that he intends, under the guise of coming to the assistance of agriculture, to put in the thin end of the wedge and give the opportunity to the State to acquire large tracts of the land of this country? One is tempted to think that it must be so, in the absence of the right hon. Gentleman's assertion to the contrary, and in the absence of an explanation of the purpose for which he requires this very large sum of money. Is it that the State, having acquired large tracts of the land of this country, will then proceed to go in for production and, by stages, eventually go through all the stages of distribution, exchange, and sale, until the State has got its grip on the whole of the agricultural production of this country? It may be that that is the purpose, and in the absence of a satisfactory reply from the right hon. Gentleman, I think that that is the conclusion to which the House will come.
§ Dr. ADDISON
One part of the hon. and gallant Member's speech did betray imagination, lively imagination. I wish he had applied the same valuable quality to a consideration of the Amendment. He saw in this £1,000,000 some deep-laid plot which had been hatched somewhere in my grey matter, whereby the State, for £1,000,000, is going to evolve some sinister system to bring into its hands all the agricultural land of Britain and the production, distribution and exchange of all agricultural products. He certainly has a lively imagination. I do not think, however, that the picture which he drew calls for a reply, and I will leave it and try to deal with what is actually before us. I thank the Mover of the Amendment for his friendly reference to our interchanges upstairs, in which I am sure that his colleagues as well as my colleagues on this side will readily agree that he rendered a material, friendly and useful contribution.
As I listened to the arguments directed against our proposal, I tried to fit them in to the usual arguments which have been adduced from the dawn of history against any attempt at improvement, and I find them identical with any arguments that I can recall. They are the kind of objections that would have been brought forward against the spinning jenny or the steam engine. The proposal is wrong because it is new. The only reason why it is wrong is because it is new. The next objection is the amount involved—£1,000,000. I was in the House of Commons when we voted a considerable sum of money, very wisely, for the encouragement of irrigation of cotton growing areas in the Sudan.
§ Dr. ADDISON
Well, what is this that we are now voting? It is a vote of £1,000,000 to the corporation to use for a certain purpose. We voted a very much bigger sum of money to the Sudan Corporation, or to the body that preceded it. I am not objecting to that Vote; I approved of it. It justified itself. Were we told then, where the irrigation 1261 channels were to be? Were we told then that the House of Commons was not to vote that money unless it knew exactly the acreage of land that was to be irrigated, what was going to be the cubic capacity of the channels, and the rest of it? Of course not. But when it comes to asking for £1,000,000 to help to improve the cultivation of the soil of Great Britain, I am asked to say months or years in advance where the farm is going to be, how big it will be, if it is going to be grass or pigs or anything else. Every detail is to be provided for the House of Commons in advance when it is a question of £1,000,000 for the land of Britain. But hon. Members will vote millions if it is for some great experiment abroad, without making the absurd demand for all these particulars in advance.
§ Dr. ADDISON
The hon. and gallant Member asked where the farm was to be and how large it was to be. I say with the greatest possible respect that if we put that kind of a question in advance with regard to any public enterprise, we should never have had any public enterprise. I am being asked to do the impossible. I propose to set up a corporation, which will be as experienced as I can get it, charged with a duty, and I would never dream of tying them in advance as to precisely what they are going to do, any more than I would have tied the men who were charged with developing irrigation in the Sudan. I am asked to say what is the justification for this scheme, this very modest enterprise, as compared with many others. We are told—the hon. Member who moved the Amendment referred to this objection—that it means the mechanisation of the countryside, and a reduction in the amount of agricultural labour. We are told that agriculture is declining. We know that vast areas of land are going out of cultivation. Surely, then, it is a well-justified enterprise to see whether we cannot devise methods for preventing land from going out of cultivation. If we do that, we shall not minimise the labour employed on the land, we shall be keeping it there.
Take a particular case, which I expect several hon. Members will know, the large-scale grassland experiment for out- 1262 door milk farming in Wiltshire. That is a very interesting and novel experiment covering, I believe, 2,500 acres, of which 1,800 acres are grasslands. The promoters of that scheme set about the novel use of the land on a large scale. They applied mechanised methods to milking. They adopted a wholesale way of doing the job. What was there on the land before, and what is there there now? There were practically no persons employed on the land before, the land was practically derelict, whereas to-day it is giving a living to 22 or 24 families. If that can be done in one place, why cannot it be done in another? The hon. and gallant Member challenged the wisdom of our proposal by saying that this sort of thing is happening everywhere. We cannot expect, the hon. and gallant Member would never expect, that an enterprising farmer, who is farming successfully on a large scale, would agree to have his accounts opened to the public. We could not expect him to give, in pamphlets or otherwise, the precise details of manuring methods, crop methods and other details. Will it not be an advantage if, by various means, we can multiply these experiments and can have an arrangement whereby the whole of the details are made freely and fully available to those whom they ought to interest? That is what we are aiming at. We could not expect it from a private individual.
I must confess that I am prejudiced by my early training in the fact that the kind of objection that is brought against this proposal is the objection that has always been brought against any experiment. If I were to tell the hon. and gallant Member that his logic is the logic of the troglodytes he might resent it; but really if we were to apply his logic to any proposed improvement we should still be living in caves. He really is applying the principles of the troglodytes to this proposal.
Let me give a practical illustration—I cannot mention the name publicly but I will supply the hon. Member with the particulars. It is the case of a farmer now operating an arable acreage of 4,301 acres. Of that acreage 2,451 were corn, 897 potatoes; and the other various crops. In addition there is a considerable acreage carrying 2,000 sheep, 2,200 pigs, 450 cattle; and so on. We have had the accounts examined and so 1263 far as I know they appear to be correct. This land is being farmed by a farsighted and enterprising man with plenty of capital, and the permanent labour which was on that land before he took it was 34 per cent. less than it is now, and the casual labour 80 per cent. less. In regard to wages, the average standard wage in that area is 32s. per week, but taking the average earnings of three typical types of workmen on this farm for 52 weeks—he has introduced the system of piece-work—the earnings averaged 43s. 2d. per week, instead of the average county rate of 32s. That is a case where the thing is being done on a large scale and the result is not that the agricultural population is diminished but that there is more employment and better wages. Why should we not try and make this more available than it is now for the enlightened agricultural community? I can imagine no reason why we should not; and no reason has been advanced yet. We have had the doctrine of the troglodytes, but we have not yet had any reasons against doing this thing wisely and carefully.
What applies to enterprises in grassland cultivation also applies to the introduction of up-to-date methods and large-scale methods in other types of farming. An important ingredient for making agricultural methods more successful is to carry them more through to the end, that is to say, to get hold of the various processes because the waste between the actual product and its market is prodigious. In the case of large-scale operations it is possible in the case of milk to see that there is a sufficient unit of milk production to keep the creameries supplied, and this applies to other branches of agricultural production. Since this proposal was assailed in the House of Commons I naturally have thought a great deal about it and explored still further the justifications for it. My considered opinion is that if I had not introduced this proposal it would be a serious defect in the Bill.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
We must certainly admire the courage of the Minister of Agriculture for his courageous speech in circumstances of his temporary ill-health. I hope he will soon recover. He has made a vehement and from his point of view a very courageous speech, and I 1264 hope his throat will be none the worse for it. He has given me sufficient material to which to reply, and I will therefore refrain from asking him any questions. It is the first speech in which he has shown his hand on this matter, and I hope to be able to convince the House that really he has missed the main points of our doubts and criticisms and that he himself is guilty of serious contradictions and confusion of thought, which quite frankly, the country can ill afford from any Minister of Agriculture to-day.
Before I deal with the main arguments which arise let me clear away from the mind of the right hon. Gentleman some of his illusions. His first illusion is that those who doubt the wisdom of asking this nation to spend one million pounds upon experiments on large scale farms are opposing it because it is new. We do not recognise it as new. You can get examples from this country and many others of large scale farms, but we say that this is not the direction in which it is desirable, either from a scientific or food growing point of view and, above all, from a sociological point of view, in which England ought to travel. We hold that this Clause, and particularly these two words, outlines a policy which is wholly in the wrong direction and wholly contradictory to Part II of the Bill, which we believe to be the right line of advance; that is, towards smaller scale farms and the division of large holdings rather than the creation out of a number of small farms of these new great prairie farms.
I will give the basic reasons which lead me to these conclusions. The Minister said that we were troglodytes. He can go to his research stations and to the Ministry and find out whether they are convinced that I am a troglodyte and opposed to scientific experiment. I am not, and never have been. In fact, I am entirely the reverse. But I do maintain quite sincerely that this experiment, so far from being what he calls an improvement, so far from being likely to achieve the objects which those of us who care about the progress of agriculture have at heart, is likely to be an experiment in the opposite direction, and a definite dis-improvement of British agriculture. Let me take the case which he has given to 1265 the House of 4,301 acres of arable land. In spite of the fact that the so-called percentages of employment have gone up in recent years, I just wonder whether the number of people employed on that farm including the proprietor and his central staff as well as the casual labour and the permanent labour, totalled as much as it would if those 4,301 acres were divided into 80 50-acre farms.
§ Dr. ADDISON
The right hon. Gentleman will be interested to learn that the men employed are actually more than were employed before. Moreover, I am sure that a great deal of this land would be quite unsuitable for the kind of subdivision the right hon. Gentleman has indicated.
§ Mr. ORMSBY - GORE
It would probably be necessary to divide the land into farms of different types. In any case I hold that adding acre to acre, with English conditions as they are, is a step in the wrong direction. Whatever Professor Orwin may say or Sir Daniel Hall, who has been much the most prominent person we have heard recently on this issue, the whole trend, where the geological and climatic conditions permit, should be towards the smaller family farms. Let us take what the Minister has said. The right hon. Gentleman has stated in effect, "I am not going to table many details. I am just going to give you a few examples, and I am going to leave the Corporation free to do the best they can in view of all the circumstances, and I am not going to tie them down." What are we saying in the Amendment? "We do not want you to tie them down; it is you who are tying them down to the words 'large scale'. Cut out those words and your million pounds will be spent upon all varieties of farms, and we hope more upon the small grassland farm, more upon the smaller type of experimental and object-lesson farm than upon these grandiose-prairie farms."
Let me deal with the type of scientific argument that is used in favour of these developments. You do reduce costs of production, but at the same time you do decrease yield per acre. Whereas in England the aim of British agriculture is to secure maximum yield per acre, wherever this mechanised large-scale business has been adopted, the object of it has been to work more economically 1266 rather than to produce the maximum. That is certainly the whole method in the Argentine, in Canada and in some of the large-scale farms that have been tried in this country. Let us see how it is proposed to be done now. What is the argument? In order to grow cereals at a profit in England, against the competition of Canada, Australia, the Argentine and America—the competition of home-grown cereals is even more difficult against Canada and Australia than against most foreign countries—you will have to cheapen immensely the cost of production and you will have to do two things: you will have to cut out all animals on the farm and to go in literally for land liming, and nothing but chemical fertilisers and nothing but cereal crops, one after the other; and above all that you must not consider the bushels per acre but you must consider the cheapness of working.
Think what that means to England. It means cutting up the whole character of our farming where the land was enriched by animal husbandry. I believe Professor Orwin is fundamentally wrong in soil science, and if an attempt is made to do what has been foreshadowed, you will have what is yearly becoming more apparent, namely, that in the long run British soil under arable cultivation must be perpetually enriched, not with chemical manures, but with the types of manures which provide humus. You cannot possibly succeed in the long run on his basis. Sir Daniel Hall, in a mast interesting broadcast only a week or two ago—he is the scientific adviser to the Ministry—adopted, in the main, Professor Orwin's theory, though he did not necessarily advocate large-scale farming or even maintaining cereal cultivation on a varying scale, but he advocated the cutting out of all root crops and the abolition of any attempt to grow, in rotation with corn crops, swedes, mangels, turnips or any crop of that kind, even leguminous crops.
He advocated that policy because, he said, it is not so much the cereal crops but the root crops that are keeping up labour costs. There is probably no place in the world to day, except in the highly-protected countries, where wheat has paid its way. In Canada, the Argentine and Australia wheat is to-day being grown at a loss. Obviously that cannot go on indefinitely, and Governments all over 1267 the world will sooner or later have to combine to stop it because the position to-day is perfectly impossible for the producers in every country in the world. Sir Daniel Hall advocates the cutting out of the root crops because, he says, the root crops are more expensive in labour and involve more labour than purely cereal husbandry, and the whole burden of that broadcast and of the advice given by the scientific adviser to the Ministry was to reduce labour and labour costs. He prefaced his broadcast by saying that when he began farming in this country a sack of wheat paid the week's wages of two weekly labourers, and that now the sack of wheat would only pay half a labourer for a fortnight and that the position had radically changed.
He admitted that, on certain land, cereals were desirable in the national interest, but he said that the all-important thing was to cut out all root crops and to have something like Professor Orwin's proposal, namely, two or three successive years of arable cultivation followed by two or three years of grass lands, even if those grass lands meant practically no return at all, because, during those three years when the land was under grass, the labour cost was cut out altogether. Our view is that the whole of the argument of the economists advanced in favour of endeavouring to apply large-scale farming in England, are—whether they say so on the face of it or not—based on a supposition that the one thing to do is to prairie-farm England, to reduce labour as far as possible, and, above all, to reduce the variety of crops and to alter the elaborate and, I believe, in the long run, the right system of continuous variable rotation. So far from believing that this would be an improvement, I say it would be a disimprovement. I say that it is not new and that it is an experiment which it would be undesirable to make.
Let me deal with the other argument of the right hon. Gentleman. He says that unless he does this with Government co-operation it is impossible to get at the costings and the accounts. That has not been the experience of leading agricultural economists and I do not believe that it is the experience of the right hon. Gentleman's Department. I have heard leading agricultural economists describe Professor Orwin's accounts as most unscientific and unreliable but undoubtedly 1268 the right hon. Gentleman can get very accurate accounts. Accurate accounts are being obtained year by year as to costings. They show that the agricultural depression at the moment is not due to the methods of production adopted in this country. It is not due to the size of the holdings in this country. It is due to the fact that this is the market which is most frequently upset, which is least stabilised and is most open to hostile economic forces. That is the basic reason why land is going out of cultivation and that is the reason why you can experiment under these proposed words, for year after year, but until you tackle the fundamental problem of stabilising prices for agricultural produce in this country, to the producers in this country, you cannot get a real advance in British agriculture.
To my mind the right hon. Gentleman has overlooked the basic conditions in this country in regard to these types of cultivation. I speak only for myself when I say I am not one of those who believe that there is a great future for wheat farming in this country. In fact, I take the view that, if we are to continue wheat farming in this country, in present circumstances, it can only be done by means of subsidy and devices like the quota. But, taking the long view, it seems to me that, owing to the climatic and above all the geological conditions of this country, compared with the great plains of Canada, the Argentine and Australia, the growing of wheat in this country, at a profit, even on large-scale farms will be increasingly difficult as time goes on. Why? I go back to the fact, as I see it, that the parent wheat plant of the world, to which all our domestic and elaborately hybridized wheats go back, grows under what conditions? It grows on the slopes of Mount Hermon in Syria, half the year under snow and the other half the year in brilliant and continuous sunshine and it is harvested—or rather there in those mountains where it is a wild plant the grains fall to the earth—under climatic conditions in which no rain ever falls. Those are conditions almost identical with the conditions in the great prairies of Canada and minus the snow, almost identical with conditions in Australia. Broadly speaking wheat is grown there under conditions analogous to those which I have described.
1269 As long as British wheat, either artificially, by the action of the State, or naturally by the cost of transport or world shortage of production—which is not likely to obtain again for many years—had an element of Protection which maintained its price; as long as England was ahead of other countries as regards a particular variety of high yielding wheat—in which respect other countries have been catching up on and are now almost passing us—it was possible to grow wheat in competition, but now you have to face the fact that the capricious, variable, humid climate of England is not suitable for large-scale wheat forming. Above all, there is no part of England where we can have large-scale farms like there are in Russia, in the Argentine, or in America, where there are great stretches of land all more or less of the same physical type and consistency. Look at the geological map of England—for geology is the basis of agriculture—and compare it with the geological map of Canada or the United States or Australia or the Argentine. The map of England is a great mosaic of colours, and every few miles, if you go by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway or the Great Northern Railway, you go from strata to strata; there is no common continuous stretch such as is found in the vast acreages of those new arable continents. What does that all point to? That British agriculture must be absolutely diversified, and must change from locality to locality, and even with the seasonal changes of years as the cycle of variable climatic conditions comes round.
Above all, let us always remember that the first object of British policy in regard to agriculture—and it comes so easily first that there is nothing that ought to be put as a close second—is the maintenance of the maximum number of human beings in the rural life of England. Owing to our over urbanisation, our whole civilisation is unbalanced, and the first sociological need for which the State ought to make sacrifices is the maximum number of human beings per acre on the land. The next point is that we can never compete in the markets of the world—or even in our own markets unless that market is controlled by the State—in those great mass-production products of agriculture. We can only compete in quality, and I think that we shall only 1270 compete in quality, and particularly in the quality of our stock. Stock farming and stock production of all types of animals is the most fundamentally important thing of British agriculture. Is it desirable or necessary, in order to pursue that policy, to have nothing but large-scale farms? Has not the secret of our success in stock farming been rather the opposite?
As the third abject of policy, we should do the best we can to keep the maximum area in this country under mixed farming, and not be led by theorists into advocating single types of farming, whether it be pure dairying or pure cereal cultivation. I am perfectly certain that what has made for progress, for invention, for such resources—and I believe that there are still great resources in our agricultural community and agricultural life—has been mixed farming. Looking to the future—it may be many generations hence—I believe that in all countries of the world, even in the prairies of Canada and the Argentine, in the long run all farming will tend sooner or later, even in the tropics, to mixed farming. Meanwhile, we have a great national asset in our mixed farms and I deplore the inclusion of these words "large scale" 9.0 p.m. because I think that this is an experiment on the wrong lines and in the wrong direction. I hope that the Committee, irrespective of party, will support us in objecting to these words, and will give to any agricultural corporation not a tied hand, but a free hand, to decide on what size and on what scale any experimental farms are to be instituted under this Bill. I am convinced that the right hon. Gentleman, in this matter, has been wrongly advised, that he is seeking a wrong purpose; and I hope that the agricultural community, who know a good deal and who have an instinctive dislike and dread of this policy, will continue to do their best to convince the right hon. Gentleman that along these lines there is no solution of the real agricultural problems to which he should be turning his attention, and that he is really wasting money, energy and time in endeavouring to convince the country that this is the sort of thing which should be done.
The speech of the Minister of Agriculture has not removed any of my doubts about the two words which we want to remove from the Bill. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that he is not quite so original or ahead of the times as he thought he was while he was making his speech. I take the view of my right hon. Friend who has just spoken that our correct advance in agriculture is along the lines of getting the maximum yield of production, whether it be in stock, in crops, in milk, or in eggs. It would be infinitely better, if we had a certain sum available to be spent for agricultural purposes—which I can assure the right hon. Gentleman is very badly needed—that it would be better spent on small farms, on research, and on increasing production, rather than on any idea of trying experiments in prairie farming in this country. Our objection to these two words is not technical, but purely practical. We wish to assist the right hon. Gentleman and the Government to fulfil two of the many pledges which they made at the last election. One of the pledges was that they wanted to get as many people back on the land as possible, and the other was that they were going to make farming pay, both of which have been incorporated in the Title of the Bill. We consider that by removing these two words we shall be helping the right hon. Gentleman in his endeavours.
To look at it from the practical point of view, we have to ask ourselves three questions with regard to this idea of large-scale farming. First, is it going to good from a research or experimental point of view; second, is it going to help employment, and is it really going to settle a larger number of people on the land; and third, will the Government get value for the money and prove that farming can be made to pay? To take the first question, there is no necessity for having experimental work on such a large scale as is presupposed in the Bill. Research and experimental work are better carried on on a smaller scale over as large a variety of products as possible. The second question is: Is it going to have any effect on unemployment, and is it going to do what we all so much desire, that is, maintain a larger rural population in this country? Here, I think, the right hon. Gentleman gave 1272 us an extraordinarily foolish example. He said that people who oppose new ideas like large-scale farming would have opposed the introduction of the spinning-jenny because it was new. If only he knew anything about the cotton industry, he would know that one of the main reasons for the trouble in that industry at the present time is the dislike of the introduction of new machinery, arising from the fear that it will reduce unemployment. And that will be the inevitable result of having large-scale farming carried on with all sorts of mechanical appliances. If it is going to pay it must inevitably reduce labour costs and reduce the number of men employed.
Then we come to the question whether we shall get value for money, and it is here that we come to our fundamental objection to the whole of the Socialist agricultural policy. Here, again, the right hon. Gentleman, if he is going to honour us with examples, must select them more cleverly. He instanced the fact that we were ready to grant millions of pounds to the Sudan while being reluctant to grant £1,000,000 to British agriculture. He quite forgot that in the case of the Sudan it was inevitably going to be a financial success, because we were to grow there a definite product for which there was a world demand and which we could sell at a profit.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I think the hon. Member will bear me out in saying that not one penny was actually paid to the Sudan by the British taxpayer. It was a guarantee of a loan, and as the business has been a success no call has ever been made in respect of the guarantee, and not a penny has been paid out.
Yes, the whole point in regard to that loan was that the business was going to be a success, because there was a definite demand for the product. In the present instance, we are to go in for large-scale farming in the arable areas without having done anything to get a price which will cover the cost of production. The right hon. Gentleman showed by his rather thoughtless example the complete fallacy of dealing with agriculture without touching the question of prices. The right hon. Gentleman complained, I thought rather peevishly, that we were demanding too many details, and said he preferred to 1273 leave the details to the corporation. But I think the House has a perfect right to have at least a rough outline of some of these details before the Bill passes from it. If the right hon. Gentleman has any ideas on the subject whatsoever, we want to know what sort of large-scale farming operations he intends to carry on. Is he going into those spheres of agriculture where things are fairly prosperous at the present moment? Is he going to try milk-farming on a large scale? If he proposes to turn a lot of the small farms into one large farm he will be doing something that is little short of criminal. On the other hand, if he intends to have large grazing farms in those parts of the country which are suitable for grazing then it is perfectly obvious that he must be turning men out of employment, and I do not see any useful object in allocating money for that purpose. And if he is going to try large-scale farming operations in arable areas it will be an absolute waste of public money. Everybody knows that it is a case of the larger the farm the larger the loss, at the present time. People are unable to produce crops at prices which show any profit at all.
We object very strongly to many things in the first part of the Bill, but there is nothing to which we object more strongly than to this proposed large-scale farming. There is nothing political behind our objections, they are purely practical, because we cannot see that the experiment will do any good. If £1,000,000 is to be given to assist farming there are many better ways in which it could be given. We do not believe this plan will bring any men back to the land or prove to us that farming can be made to pay. We do not believe that this Bill, although we approve of many parts of it, will be of any real benefit in dealing with the agricultural problem, because once again the Government have missed the crux of the whole matter, and that is the question of prices. Until we have the courage to be as original as the Minister of Agriculture tries to make out that he is, and unless we are prepared to launch out on new lines, agriculture in this country is never going to prosper. We can only hope that before it is too late, the right hon. Gentleman will realise that this large-scale farming is not a sensible proposition and will delete those two words from the Bill. My only 1274 other hope is that if he fails to do so he will set up a corporation which has enough sense to see for itself that the scheme can never pay and will use the money allotted to it for more useful and profitable purposes.
§ Mr. OSWALD LEWIS
The Mover of this Amendment said he desired to test the opinion of the House as to the desirability of forming large-scale Government farms for experimental and other purposes. I gather from the speech of the Minister that that is what the party supporting him desire. It is curious to note how Socialists are always struggling to progress backwards. That has been true of them since the days of Jean Jacques Rousseau, and it is true of them to-day. Just as Rousseau wanted to go back to a primitive state of life, the charms of which existed principally in his own imagination, so the Socialist Members of this House desire that we should go back to a style of farming which might have been suitable were this a young and undeveloped country. I do not know where the Minister got his notion of large-scale farming from, but if he had studied other countries he must surely have been struck by the fact that though a new country may have started with very large farms, as the country has developed so the tendency has been for the size of farms to be reduced. That can be seen clearly in the Argentine, where the big cattle ranch is gradually giving way to the smaller though still large arable farm; and as the districts get more settled these big farms are, in turn, being split up. In this country we have long outgrown the stage of the big farm, generally speaking. Over the centuries we have developed a system of farms of a varied size, suitable to our country and suitable to our peculiar needs. There is something farcical in the idea that at this time of day we should endeavour to set up large-scale farms to show how farming should be carried on. Hon. Members opposite may think it is progress, but I think it could be much more fairly described as an endeavour to put back the clock.
The Minister was somewhat indignant at the suggestion that he should be asked at this stage to explain the type of farming which he and his friends propose to undertake on these large-scale farms. 1275 The right hon. Gentleman said that it was unreasonable to ask him to give us all the little details of what the corporation would do, but there is a great difference betwen giving all the little details and telling us nothing at all. Surely the Minister of Agriculture or one of his colleagues can tell us what types of farming they have in mind. Have they thought the question out. One or two suggestions have been made as to the possibilities of this change. May I ask whether there is anyone on the Government Front Bench who can say whether it is proposed to carry on large-scale pedigree breeding operations. All over the world you will find British pedigree stock imported almost regardless of price, which does not seem to suggest that there is much scope for instruction in the matter of breeding pedigree stock in this country.
If the suggestion is that we should go into any mass production of cereals, surely that conception arises from confusing the economic laws which affect a factory with those which affect a farm, because there is no parallel to be drawn between the conditions. You cannot compare the management of a factory, where you diminish your overhead costs, with the law of diminishing returns which operate in farms where, when you get a certain crop and you attempt to screw a bit more out of it, your crop will cost you more and not less per unit to produce. If we are to have large-scale farming, it can only be done by ignoring, to some extent, the difference between the land in different districts, very often in different farms, and in different fields on the same farm. If an endeavour is made to cultivate in the same way crops growing in fields which differ in their nature, the result can only be a wasteful method of production.
I will make only one other suggestion as to the possible use of large-scale farms, and that is that they might be used for growing fruit and vegetables. If that is done, surely that will be using public money to provide a form of competition against the growers of vegetables and fruit in this country who are, to a large extent, small growers. I should have thought that it would have been a much more useful proposition if some method had been suggested by the Minister for 1276 protecting the existing small owners, who grow fruit and vegetables, from the competition which they already have to face from other countries, than to suggest the setting up of further competition against them in this country. [An HON. MEMBER: "Tariffs!"] I am afraid that a discussion on tariffs at this stage would not be in order.
We have also to consider how it is proposed to manage this enterprise. We want to know who is going to manage these large-scale farms. We are told in the Bill that something less than half of the directors of the corporation are to be people who know their business, and something less than half must have had practical experience of agriculture. I wonder who the others are to be? Apparently they are not to put any money of their own in the concern, and if we look at Clause 1, Sub-section (2, b), we shall observe that they are to be paid. Consequently, the Minister will be able to issue an advertisement: "Soft job going. No experienced agriculturist need apply." As to the cost of the experiment, the Minister of Agriculture spoke very lightly of £1,000,000. When we reflect about the large sums of money which the Minister of Agriculture has laid as a burden on this country in the matter of housing, naturally we do not expect him to regard £1,000,000 as being a very serious matter, particularly when it is somebody else's money.
In regard to this discussion about large-scale farming, the Minister spoke as though it was a new thing, and he suggested that we objected to it on that account. Surely the right hon. Gentleman does not suggest that large-scale farming is a new idea, because it is not. We know where it has been tried elsewhere, and we know the result. It was tried in Queensland, and for the year ending 30th June, 1928, when privately-managed concerns in Queensland were making money out of precisely the same operations, the Government-owned large-scale farms made a loss of over £1,250,000. The limit to the loss on large-scale farms will be determined by the amount of money that is put into them.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
The Minister of Agriculture has practically stated that our objections to this Clause are based upon our objections to the right hon. Gentle- 1277 man's views on other subjects. I would like to remind him that there are many hon. Members on these benches who have had a good deal of experience in agriculture. For the right hon. Gentleman to suggest it is really the novelty of the proposal which is causing us to distrust it, is to say something obviously foolish. There is nothing new about large-scale farming. There is an attempt by a Minister—possibly a weak Minister, without much knowledge, and driven very likely by enthusiastic and over-bearing officials—to adopt a plan suggested by one or two fanatics, and which has never been proved a success in any other country in the world. Those who look on this as the worst part of a very foolish Bill and a disastrous waste of money which might otherwise be spent well on agriculture in other directions, are serious in desiring to help agriculture, and regard it as a mistaken policy. The right hon. Gentleman has reminded us that there is a great deal of derelict land in this country, but he does not suggest that he is going to use it for large-scale farming. He complains that we have asked for details. We have asked that he should give us some sort of idea of the plan he has in mind, and we are not satisfied with his merely saying, "Never mind, I can set up a corporation and get the very best men I can, and they will see it through."
When the Minister gets the corporation, he must have some idea of what he is going to turn it to. What use can a corporation of that kind possibly be in achieving success, in the way suggested, with institutions such as those trotted out so regularly for inspection by the Under-Secretary for Scotland and others? I am getting tired of hearing about that wonderful poultry farm he mentioned. The Under-Secretary told us it was the only instance of large-scale farming of which he knew in Scotland. That is a curious argument in view of the fact that this wretched system is not desired by that country, judging by what has been said by representatives in the House this evening. How can you expect that the sort of body you will get as that corporation can possibly have the same success that these very special inlividuals have had with their own particular knowledge? Some who have made these farms a success are very exceptional 1278 men. They are not men who will go about getting Government jobs, or men whom the Minister will get in the corporation by merely offering them big salaries. When you do get a collection of men in the corporation, they will never have the same success which an individual with one will and brain can have, as has been proved in several cases. I see nothing but failure. The whole experience of this country and many others is that a good individual can beat a good committee any day. We had an experience in the West Riding of the complete failure of a very capable body who ran a demonstration smallholding which was shortly afterwards handed over to an individual and then made a remarkable success. A capable individual will always beat any committee, however able they may be.
It has been mentioned that this experiment is bound to create unemployment and put men off the land. It might be worth while taking the risk if there was any corresponding advantage, but when you see nothing but failure, losses and waste of money, which might have been spent to greater advantage on agriculture in other directions, you have no right to risk the further disadvantage of creating more unemployment. We are fully entitled to ask the Minister where he is going to have these large-scale farms, when he is going to have them and how he proposes to run them? He has no right to complain that we are asking for too much detail. The House is entitled to know a good deal more than he has told us. We have been trying in Committee and in this House to get him to give us some idea what his policy is and what are his intentions. We believe he is merely following a vague plan based upon the report of the Selborne Committee. Everybody knows that that was a time when a good many rather unwise and foolish schemes were being suggested, and there were many men—and I speak with great respect for the author and chairman of that committee—whose minds were rather off their balance. Everybody knows the moment of the greatest sanity in this country was certainly not in 1921. I will conclude by saying that a project of this sort, based upon the report which emanated in the year 1921, and supported merely by one or two otherwise unsupported theorists, 1279 like Professor Orwin and others who supported his scheme, is not one which the Minister is justified in bringing before this House without showing more knowledge of what he himself wants and intends, and without supplying us with a good deal more information.
§ Major MUIRHEAD
My general complaint against the Government is that whatever they do they create uncertainty. Their measures are uncertain, and the way they are put before the country is uncertain. At the very time when we want certainty in our national life, the Government, by everything they propose and do, seem to lead to greater uncertainty throughout the country. This particular Bill is no exception to that rule. Upstairs and downstairs and wherever we can, we have been pressing the Minister of Agriculture to tell us with some degree of certainty the sort of idea he has got in view, and what the Bill is going to do, and how the Bill will operate, not in any detail but in more general outline than its actual wording. We have never had an answer. I join certainly with the humanitarian motives of the right hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) in not wanting to put a greater strain on the voice of the Minister to-night. But I have no hesitation in asking a question, first, because he is not here so he will not have to answer it; and, secondly, because a fairly short experience of this House has taught me that, however many questions may be asked by however many people, there is no obligation whatever, moral or otherwise, for anybody to give an answer. In a way I can see the Floor of the House littered with asked and unanswered questions in the Debates of the last two days, so I have no hesitation while sympathising with the Minister's illness, in asking my question.
I ask the right hon. Gentleman exactly the same question which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Maldon (Lieut.-Colonel Ruggles-Brise) asked earlier in the Debate. It is a question which not long ago in a Debate upon agriculture I asked myself in a general way. What is the real ultimate object of this Bill? Is it to produce more stuff, or to produce stuff at a cheaper cost, or to put more people in employment on the land? 1280 If you can combine all these three things, well and good, but anybody who starts on a Bill like this has got to face up to the question, if any one of these things conflicts with the others, as to what order of precedence he is going to give to them—as to which is to go to the wall first and which is to go to the wall last. The Minister hedges; he dances from one to the other, and tries to get the best of all three worlds. He is like a racehorse owner who says, "I do not exactly know which horse is going to win, but I think I shall occupy all three places." About that question, which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Maldon and myself have both asked, there is nothing very original, because it was put very plainly and forcibly in the Majority Report of the Agricultural Tribunal of 1923.
The report of that body receives comparatively little attention. It was a very interesting report, though I do not say it was very convincing, because, although there were only three members of the Tribunal, they contrived to produce pretty long majority and minority reports. There was a great deal of interesting matter in that report, but the report is completely disregarded by the Minister of Agriculture, who always goes back to the Selborne Report. He is like a sort of kangaroo in reverse. He takes a great jump backwards and lands on the Selborne Report, having jumped right over the unfortunate Tribunal of 1923. That question, as I have said, was put by them with very great force, and, if the right hon. Gentleman has not already read their report, I would recommend to him the reading of it. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Richmond (Captain Dugdale), in very moderate language indeed, said he thought that this Bill was what he called a curious mixture. If I might borrow from my hon. Friends opposite a phrase which I am afraid is now rather hackneyed, but which, after all, they started, it is a dog's breakfast. There are large-scale scraps for the large dog, small-scale scraps for the small dog, and then, in Clause 3, there is a sort of reclaimed scrap for all the dogs in general. This all adds to the general uncertainty of the situation.
I want to take up another point which was made just now by my right hon. 1281 and gallant Friend the Member for Barkston Ash (Colonel Lane Fox), and that is the taunt which is always being hurled at us that we object to these various provisions because they are new, that we say they are wrong because they are new. They are not new. I do not know whether the Minister has founded—he says he has not founded—his Bill on Mr. Orwin's latest book, but there is a most remarkable similarity of ideas and language between the two. Their ideas, so to speak, have "clicked." Therefore, I do not apologise for making a certain amount of use of Mr. Orwin's name and of some of his arguments. His book, or at all events the common idea between him and the Minister of Agriculture, is at the bottom of this Bill. It is no use blinking the fact that Mr. Orwin has big-scale organisation on the brain. First of all, some six or seven years ago he came out with his book on the nationalisation of the land, and it was grandiose in the extreme. Then he has come out with his recent book on "The Farming of the Future," and there is a very interesting thing which he has written still more recently. I have here an extract from the "Church Times," in which it is said that, in the December number of the Chichester Diocesan Gazette, Mr. Orwin advocates a sort of large-scale reorganisation of the diocese. [Laughter.] This is not funny; it is serious, because of the very wide wording of this Clause. It speaks of:large-scale farming- operations and otherwise.Under the very wide and ill-defined powers which the corporation are to possess, they might buy a rural deanery and recondition the clergy, and there would be nothing to stop them in the wording of this Bill.
Going back to Mr. Orwin and his book on "The Farming of the Future," he quotes three instances. It is part of his argument that this idea is not completely new, but that it has been tried before. Let us take the three instances that he gives. The first is that of Mr. Prout. He is dead, and his scheme is abandoned. Then there is Mr. Bayliss, and he is forced to admit at the present moment that he is not making a profit. The third instance is that of Mr. Chamberlain. Mr. Chamberlain has a farm within a few miles of my home. There is no question 1282 of Mr. Chamberlain farming land that is likely to go out of cultivation. He farms on exceptionally good land, the last sort of land that is ever likely to go out of cultivation. You can make almost any farming system do on Mr. Chamberlain's land. I give him full credit for having done as well as he can, but there is this point. I give it openly as merely secondhand information, and I do not want anyone to accept it as anything more, but I am given to understand that Mr. Chamberlain quite recently has considerably reduced his labour staff. I think it would be worth the while of the Minister of Agriculture to investigate as to whether that is true before he is ready to take this last example out of Mr. Orwin's book, the example of Mr. Chamberlain, and treat it as something on which he can found his Bill. As I say, I do not give it as information that I have myself; I admit openly that I have it at secondhand. Mr. Orwin collected his data some little time ago, perhaps at the beginning of last year. If his ideas have been used in framing this Bill, they would have to be recast in the light of the disastrous fall in the price of wheat that has taken place within the last nine months.
I would like to say one thing about the traditional size of the English farm. Mr. Orwin comments on the fact that it is extraordinary how, over a long period, the traditional size of the English farm has, one season after another, remained more or less the same. There is one reason for that. It is not troglodyte, or stick-in-the-mud, or anything like that, but there is a factor which I do not think is given half as much importance in these Debates as it deserves, and that is the old and rather humorous question of the British climate. I often wish, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that, when we are having these agricultural Debates on day, you could order a portion roof to be removed—preferably other side of the House—
§ Major MUIRHEAD
That would introduce this really practical factor into our Debates. The reason why the English farm has remained more or less of the size that it is, is not so much that the English climate is good or bad, but that 1283 it is uncertain. One of the great features of large-scale production and management is that a man engaged in industrial affairs can sit down with a good deal of certainty and make out his plans some way ahead, knowing that for the most part he can carry them through with a feeling of certainty, at all events for several weeks ahead. A farmer, be he ever so clever or keen on large-scale management, cannot do that. He is limited very definitely by the uncertainty of the English weather.
Imagine a farmer on a Sunday evening trying to map out his work for the week. He may take every precaution he can. He may have heard the weather reports on the wireless, he may be a student of Buchan's cycles, he may have noted the behaviour of the sheep, he may have observed the motions of the cows, and, before he goes to bed, he may have consulted that specious prophet after the event, the piece of seaweed on the wall: and then, having invoked all the aid of science and superstition, the whole thing may be shattered suddenly and drastically the following morning by an unexpected change in the weather. Then, unless there is someone on the spot with a sufficiency of knowledge and a sufficiency of authority to make a sudden change, to switch the labour from one thing to the other, there is a tremendous economic loss through people, and carts, and horses, and tractors hanging about, or moving from one end of the farm to the other.
The difference between the intelligent farmer and the slow kind of man who cannot adapt himself at a time like that is amazing. If you put it into pounds, shillings and pence you would find a most stupendous financial difference. Consequently, however big you make your farm, with the English climate—you might make it 5,000 or 15,000 acres—you have in the end to come down to managerial units of a certain limited size, because you must have on the spot, for a certain limited acreage of land, a man of sufficient experience and authority to make a quick, and very often a drastic, adjustment and so, however much you may think you are going to get advantage from these very large aggregations of land, you will always be limited in the end by that factor. It is not merely troglodytism which has kept 1284 our farms of the size they are, but the very material limiting factor which the uncertainty of the English climate imposes on them.
We are anxious that this Bill should not encourage a mad sort of rush to large-scale farming and, therefore, throw people off their balance as regards the real merit of middle-scale mixed farming. An hon. Member who preceded me stood up for moderate mixed farming. I am a great believer in it myself, and one of the things I am frightened about is that this Clause, with its large-scale farming, will throw people off their balance and deter them from pursuing what I still believe to be the real true course of farming. The Minister said the great thing was to see these agricultural experiments through to the end. That is exactly it. It is because we doubt the end, and doubt the success of it, because we believe the Minister does not visualise in any way what the end is likely to be, or what he really wants it to be, because we believe the true end, the rehabilitation of English farming, can be achieved much better by other means, that we support the Amendment.
The House is really carrying on this Debate under considerable difficulties. When we were discussing the Scottish question, we had the advantage of hearing the opposite point of view put from the Government Benches, but discipline has now been re-established. There is no longer any attempt to appeal to reason. The authority of the Government is to prevail, and the Pope does not want any justification for the inspired words which are embodied in the Bill. The argument that we have had from the Minister is that, as money has been spent on other objects, whether we have a good purpose in spending it on agriculture or otherwise, we are called upon to pour it out. He said we had spent £5,000,000 on developing cotton growing in the Sudan, and he seemed to think that was an argument for spending money on any object which, on his authority, might seem worth while in connection with agriculture. That money in the Sudan was well spent, because it was voted only after careful and expert inquiry.
That is not the case with the proposals that we are now discussing. The right 1285 hon. Gentleman, in the Committee stage, seemed to think it was a reason for spending this money that other people had wasted money. He based his case on the fact that Mr. Hatry had been put in prison and said he did not know how much public money was lost there. We surely ought to adopt a more careful scrutiny of the objects on which we spend public money than can be justified by a comparison with those who come up against the criminal law in City ramps. The function of the House of Commons is to spend the money of which they are the trustees when returned to govern the country. The money that is wasted in the City is put in the power of those gamblers who break the law, by speculators with their eyes open, and really in these matters of public expenditure we are bound to see that we are not going to waste money, but are going to get really good value.
Our case against this large-scale experiment is that it is not a promising form of expenditure, and we all know that in present times we are up against great financial difficulties, and less than ever is there any justification for spending money on anything but necessities. We are certainly not justified in wasting money on unpromising experiments. If you go about the country and talk to agriculturists, you will not find any practical man who has any use for this large-scale experiment. We know quite well, and they know quite well, that any useful experiment is tried out at present. I will not mention names. These pioneers are familiar to all who are in touch with agriculture. Most of these large-scale experiments are carried out under the best scientific advice and with the advantage, which the Government would not possess, that the promoters keep the object of profit in the first place. I do not believe there is any better school for efficiency, no better trial for the best methods, than the school of necessity, when people are risking money which they cannot afford to lose.
The special experiments which seem to be in view, the only experiments that have been mentioned which have not already been tried out, are experiments in what are generally known as prairie methods of cultivation. The reason they have not been tried out is that practical 1286 men have seen them in operation in other continents and under other climatic conditions and are convinced, without any trial, that they are not applicable to our special conditions. I remember when I was occupying the post now occupied by the right hon. Gentleman, discussing this matter in great detail with the leaders in the farming industry, and I suggested, on the advice of the technical experts who, no doubt, advise the right hon. Gentleman, that something might be gained from the mechanical development of the extensive cultivation on the other side of the Atlantic. I am satisfied that this has been very thoroughly considered by those with whom I discussed it, but, as a matter of fact, they did agree to go out and examine the matter from the special standpoint of British application and to give me a report.
They gave very strong grounds for the view that our climate was so absolutely different from the climate where these extensive methods were tried. The value of our land under our overcrowded conditions was so much greater than in these vast prairie tracts. The problem of drainage so completely transformed the condition of agriculture that the overseas methods were not applicable. We know that for generations past our heavy rainfall has caused a large outlay upon the draining of the land. If you are going to have great tracts of land under mechanised cultivation that enables the small output of man-power which is necessary in Canada, you have to fill in these open drains. You have to face a very heavy capital expenditure upon which, I am satisfied, there is no conceivable chance of an economic return. I was also convinced by those who were in a far better position to judge than I could ever hope to be from a technical point of view, that in our climate and under our conditions, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) so conclusively pointed out to-night, cultivations are necessary which are entirely inapplicable to the extensive methods in other countries.
The only real authority backing the view with any justification for pouring out large sums of public money upon this kind of experiment is to be found in the very interesting writings of Pro- 1287 fessor Orwin. He has thrown doubt upon the value of mixed farming, and he has argued that because we are so threatened in our economic return by the output of specialised agriculture in other parts of the world, we ought to try to adapt those specialised methods. The whole purport of all these arguments is that we must lower costs. Anyone who has read his book must know that the only suggestion which he makes for lowering costs in this connection is the reduction of man-power. It is a growing realisation that it is vital to the nation, quite apart from any shortsighted considerations of pounds, shillings and pence in this particular connection, to keep our present population on the land. We cannot afford more rural depopulation. If we have money to spend, we had much better spend it upon keeping up agricultural employment rather than upon experiments with a view to reducing it.
This Bill has as one of its main objects the purpose, which I support, of bringing people back to the land. I most of all oppose the proposal for experiment
§ on large-scale farming because I believe that if it has any positive result, it must be contrary to the other tendency of this Bill to try to bring people back to the land. The Minister would improve his Measure if he would cut out this provision. Far from interfering with the main purpose, it would greatly help. I oppose the Clause to allow large-scale farming for three reasons, first, because I am convinced it will be a waste of money; it will be spent upon research which, if it is not done at present, is only left on one side because practical men know that it is not worth while. I oppose it because it is not likely to prove anything of value; and, lastly, because, if it should prove what it sets out to prove, I believe it would have the fatal result of encouraging still further rural depopulation, and would decrease employment on the land.
§ Dr. ADDISON rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 242: Noes, 157.1291
|Division No. 98.]||AYES.||[10.3 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Clarke, J. S.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Cluse, W. S.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Compton, Joseph||Haycock, A. W.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Cripps, Sir Stafford||Hayday, Arthur|
|Ammon, Charles George||Daggar, George||Hayes, John Henry|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Dallas, George||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)|
|Arnott, John||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Dickson, T.||Herriotts, J.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Dukes, C.||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)|
|Ayles, Walter||Duncan, Charles||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Ede, James Chuter||Hopkin, Daniel|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Edmunds, J. E.||Horrabin, J. F.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Edwards, C. (Monmonth, Bedwellty)||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)|
|Batey, Joseph||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Hutchison. Maj.-Gen. Sir R.|
|Bellamy, Albert||Evan, W. H.||Isaacs, George|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Elmley, Viscount||Jenkins, Sir William|
|Benson, G.||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Blindell, James||Forgan, Dr. Robert||Johnston, Thomas|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Freeman, Peter||Jones, F. Llewellyn (Flint)|
|Bowen, J. W.||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Gill, T. H.||Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Gillett, George M.||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)|
|Bromfield, William||Glassey, A. E.||Kelly, W. T.|
|Brothers, M.||Gossling, A. G.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)||Gould, F.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Kinley, J.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Kirkwood, D.|
|Buchanan, G.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne).||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George|
|Burgess, F G.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Law, Albert (Bolton)|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddlesbro' W.)||Law, A. (Rosendale)|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Lawrence, Susan|
|Calne, Derwent Hall-||Groves, Thomas E.||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)|
|Cameron, A. G.||Grundy, Thomas W.||Leach, W.|
|Cape, Thomas||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Lees, J.|
|Chater, Daniel||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Church, Major A. G||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Lloyd, C. Ellis|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Palin, John Henry||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Paling, Wilfrid||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Longden, F.||Palmer, E. T.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Perry, S. F.||Snell, Harry|
|Lunn, William||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Sorensen, R.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Phillips, Dr. Marion||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Stephen, Campbell|
|McElwee, A.||Pole, Major D. G.||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|McEntee, V. L.||Potts, John S.||Strauss, G. R.|
|McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)||Price, M. P.||Sullivan, J.|
|McKinlay, A.||Pybus, Percy John||Sutton, J. E.|
|Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Quibell, D. J. K.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
|McShane, John James||Rathhone, Eleanor||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Raynes, W. R.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Richards, R.||Toole, Joseph|
|Marcus, M.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Tout, W. J.|
|Markham, S. F.||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Townend, A. E.|
|Marshall, Fred||Ritson, J.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Mathers, George||Romeril, H. G.||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Matters, L. W.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Walker, J.|
|Melville, Sir James||Rowsun, Guy||Wallace, H. W.|
|Messer, Fred||Samuel Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline).|
|Middleton, G.||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Millar, J. D.||Sanders, W. S.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Milner, Major J.||Sawyer, G. F.||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Montague, Frederick||Scrymgeour, E.||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Morqan Dr. H. B.||Scurr, John||West, F. R.|
|Morley, Ralph||Sexton, Sir James||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Mort, D. L.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Shield, George William||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Muff, G.||Shillaker, J. F.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Muggerldge, H. T.||Shinwell, E.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Naylor, T. E.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Winterton, G E. (Leicester, Louqhb'gh)|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Simmons, C. J.||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Noel Baker, P. J.||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Sitch, Charles H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Oldfield, J. R.||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.|
|Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||T. Henderson.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cranborne, Viscount||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Albery, Irvinq James||Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l.,W.)||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd,Henley)|
|Allen. Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J.(Kent, Dove[...])||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hurd, Percy A|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Atkinson, C.||Davies, Maj. Geo F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)|
|Baillie-Hamilton. Hon. Charles W.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Dawson, Sir Philip||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Dixey, A. C.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Duckworth, G. A. V.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Eden, Captain Anthony||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Llewellin, Major J. J.|
|Bird. Ernest Roy||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Long, Major Hon. Eric|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Boyce, Leslie||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)|
|Bracken, B.||Ferguson, Sir John||Marjoribanks, Edward|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Fison, F G. Clavering||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Ford, Sir P. J||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Buchan, John||Ganzoni, Sir John||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.|
|Butler, R. A.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Nicholson. Col. Rt. Hn.W. G. (Ptrst'ld)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Grenfell, Edward C (City of London)||O'Connor, T. J.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Chamberlain.Rt Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.)||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Penny, Sir George|
|Christie, J. A.||Hacking, Rt. Hon, Douglas H.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Cockerill, Briq-General Sir George||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Hanbury, C.||Reid, David D, (County Down)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Remer, John R.|
|Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||Smithers, Waldron||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Reynolds, Col. Sir James||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.|
|Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Ross, Major Ronald D.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Ruggles-Brise, Lieut-Colonel E. A.||Stanley, Lord, (Fylde)||Woyland, Sir William A.|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Salmon, Major I.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Tinne, J. A.||Withers, Sir John James|
|Savery, S. S.||Todd, Capt. A. J.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)||Train, J.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne,C.)||Turton, Robert Hugh||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)||Captain Margesson and Major the|
|Marquess of Titchfield.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words 'large scale' stand part of the Bill."1292
§ The House divided: Ayes, 239; Noes, 161.1293
|Division No. 99.]||AYES.||[10.13 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Gillett, George M.||McElwee, A.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Glassey, A. E.||McEntee, V. L.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Gossling, A. G.||McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston>|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Gould, F.||McKinlay, A.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||McShane, John James|
|Arnott, John||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro'W.)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Marcus, M.|
|Ayles, Walter||Groves, Thomas E.||Markham, S. F.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Marshall, Fred|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Mathers, George|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Matters, L. W.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Maxton, James|
|Bellamy, Albert||Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)||Melville, Sir James|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Messer, Fred|
|Benson, G.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Middleton, G.|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Milner, Major J.|
|Bowen, J. W.||Haycock, A. W.||Montague, Frederick|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hayday, Arthur||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Hayes, John Henry||Morley, Ralph|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Bromfield, William||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Mort, D. L.|
|Brothers, M.||Herriotts, J.||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Muff, G.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Hopkin, Daniel||Muggeridge, H. T.|
|Buchanan, G.||Horrabin, J. F.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Isaacs, George||Noel Baker, P. J.|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Jenkins, Sir William||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)|
|Calne, Derwent Hall||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Oldfield, J. R.|
|Cameron, A. G.||Johnston, Thomas||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, F. Llewellyn (Flint)||Palin, John Henry|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Paling, Wilfrid|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Palmer, E. T.|
|Church, Major A. G.||Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)||Perry, S. F.|
|Clarke, J. S.||Kelly, W. T.||Peters, Dr. Sidney John|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Pethick-Lawrence. F. W.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Phillips, Dr. Marion|
|Compton, Joseph||Kinley, J.||Picton-Turbervill, Edith|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Kirkwood, D.||Pole, Major D. G.|
|Daggar, George||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Potts, John S.|
|Dallas, George||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Price, M. P.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Pybus, Percy John|
|Dickson, T.||Lawrence, Susan||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Dukes, C.||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Duncan, Charles||Leach, W.||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)||Raynes, W. R.|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Richards, R.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lees, J.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Lewis. T. (Southampton)||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Egan, W. H.||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Ritson, J.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Logan, David Gilbert||Romeril, H. G.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Longhottom, A. W.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Foot, Isaac||Longden, F.||Rowson, Guy|
|Forgan, Dr. Robert||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Samuel Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Freeman, Peter||Lunn, William||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham. Upton)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Sanders, W. S.|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Gill, T. H.||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Scurr, John||Sor[...]nsen, R.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Sexton, Sir James||Stamford, Thomas W.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Stephen, Campbell||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Shield, George William||Strauss, G. R.||West, F. R.|
|Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Sullivan, J.||White, H. G.|
|Shillaker, J. F.||Sutton, J. E||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Shinwell, E.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Simmons, C. J.||Thurtle, Ernest||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)||Tinker, John Joseph||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Sitch Charles H.||Toole, Joseph||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)||Tout, W. J.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Townend, A. E.||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Lounhb'gh)|
|Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||Walker, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Snell, Harry||Wallace, H. W.||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.|
|Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)||T. Henderson.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)|
|Albery, Irving James||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-s.-M.)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Everard, W. Lindsay||O'Connor, T. J.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Ferguson, Sir John||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent,Dover)||Fison, F. G. Clavering||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Ford, Sir P. J.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Atkinson, C.||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Remer, John R.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Ganzoni, Sir John||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch't'sy)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Ross, Major Ronald D.|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Salmon, Major I.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Boyce, Leslie||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Savery, S. S.|
|Bracken, B.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Hanbury, C.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham)||Hartington, Marquess of||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Brown, Brig-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Buchan, John||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd,Henley)||Somerville, A. A, (Windsor)|
|Butler, R. A.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Cadonan, Major Hon. Edward||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Hurd, Percy A.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hutchison. Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth,S.)||Iveagh, Countess of||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.)||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Tinne, J. A.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Christle, J. A.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Train, J.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Lamb, Sir J. O.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Locker-Lampson. Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Long, Major Hon. Erie||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D, (I. of W.)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||MacLaren, Andrew||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Daikeith, Earl of||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Marjoribanks, Edward||Withers, Sir John James|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Dixey, A. C.||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Major the Marquess of Titchfield|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||and Sir George Penny.|
Mr. R. W. SMITH
I beg to move, in page 2, line 6, at the end, to insert the words: 1294Provided that the affairs of the corporation as regards Scotland shall be administered, controlled, and managed by a subcommittee of the board, which shall hold its 1295 meetings in Scotland, and such sub-committee shall have the right to co-opt additional members to the extent of one-third of its number.Much of the time this evening has been taken up by the question as to whether Scotland should be excluded from large-scale farming. We felt that Scotland should be excluded, but the House has seen fit to include Scotland in these operations, and that is why I am proposing this Amendment. In Clause 1 provision is made for the conduct of large-scale farming by a Board of Directors, which is to be comprised of at least five members and not more than 10. When this question was before the Committee upstairs I moved an Amendment that a certain proportion of these directors should be Scotsmen, or Members who understood the conditions of farming in Scotland. That was defeated, but we moved another Amendment to the effect that a sub-committee, somewhat on the lines of this Amendment, should be set up to manage affairs in Scotland. I rather gather from what has been said that the Government look with some favour on the proposal of a Committee in Scotland to manage large-scale farming, and I am glad that at last we have persuaded the Government to adopt this method. I understand, however, that the Minister of Agriculture is unable to accept the Amendment as it stands on the Paper, and has suggested that he should consult with us and propose a form of words which would meet our approval. It is rather strange that we should have to wait until this late hour in the proceedings of this Bill in order to discuss the interests of Scotland.
In the Committee upstairs I raised the question of the proper representation of Scotland, and the Secretary of State informed me that the interests of Scotland were very dear to his heart and would be safeguarded. After those words it is rather extraordinary that we have had to wait until the Report stage, and that it was necessary for my friends and myself to put on the Paper an Amendment again drawing attention to this matter. In Standing Committee the Secretary of State said that adequate representation on the Corporation would be assured to Scotland. We find no such representation provided for even now. On the question of a sub-commitee to manage the 1296 affairs of Scotland the Minister of Agriculture said:We can have a friendly discussion with respect to the management of the affairs of Scotland as it is raised in the later Amendment. …. I cannot give an undertaking at this stage that we will accept these words, because clearly they would not be workable, but at the same time, in the event of special arrangements being made in Scotland, I am perfectly willing to consider whether we can meet the hon. and gallant Member at a later stage in the Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee B), 27th November, 1930; cols. 92 and 93.]I do not know whether my friends were approached by the Government with reference to these arrangements, but at any rate I have heard nothing about it, and that is the reason for moving this Amendment. We have a very strong case here for Scotland. If we are to have large-scale farming in Scotland we want it to be managed by people who understand Scottish agriculture.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment is perfectly correct in saying that an undertaking was given that an effort would be made to find a suitable form of words which would meet the desires of hon. Members in every part of the House. It has not been a very easy matter to get a form of words which would cover the real power in Scotland while at the same time vesting the financial control in a corporation which would require to have negotiating powers and borrowing powers with the banks. After considerable discussion we have reached what I understand is agreement among the representatives of all parties and, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I shall read the suggested Amendment:In Clause 1, page 2, line 14, at the end, insert the words:'(c) Provide for the administration and management of the operations of the Corporation in Scotland by means of a committee of the directors, acting in consultation with such number of persons, having practical experience of agriculture in Scotland, as may he specified in the Order.'If hon. Members opposite withdraw their Amendment, which could not possibly be agreed to, we are prepared to move an Amendment in that form which I understand would be generally acceptable.
§ Major ELLIOT
The good will of the Government in desiring to meet our case is recognised by us. We realise that there is a desire to meet the will of the House, as expressed in several quarters, but the House as a whole has had no opportunity of considering the form of words suggested by the Under-Secretary. Subject to the usual considerations, to which a manuscript Amendment must be subject, I, personally, think that the Government have made a serious effort to meet our position in this matter. There are one or two points to which I draw attention. For instance, our Amendment suggests that the committee should meet in Scotland, but I do not see any proposal in the manuscript Amendment suggested by the Under-Secretary to that effect. At the same time, I think that the Mover of the Amendment now before the House would be willing to withdraw, in consideration of the genuine attempt of the Government to produce a form of words agreeing to the delegation of these duties, as far as Scotland is concerned, to a Scottish sub-committee. I wish to make it clear however that I have had little opportunity of considering the suggested Amendment and I have had no opportunity at all of considering it in conjunction with my Friends. The Under-Secretary makes the point that this committee must be subject to ultimate financial control vested in the corporation. We propose to move further Amendments providing that our eleven-eightieths proportion should be reserved for the operations in Scotland.
§ Major ELLIOT
If the hon. and gallant Member were as enthusiastic for the interests of his native country, as we are for the interests of ours, he would not have so many grievances in general. We are protecting the interests of our country and I am sure that he, as an enthusiastic nationalist, will not object. Financial control is, of course, fundamental to the real authority of this sub-committee and we desire that financial control, as regards the Scottish proportion, should be vested, as far as possible, in the subcommittee. We also desire that, in some way or other, possibly in the Order, the Scottish Office should indicate that the meetings of this body are to be held as far as possible in Scotland, either in the 1298 capital or in some of the areas where it is proposed to conduct these operations. We attach importance not only to the consultation of experts who will be available in Scotland but would not be available at all or would only be available with difficulty in Whitehall but also to the influence of the atmosphere which they will enjoy when sitting in the country to which their operations have reference. We know the effect on those about to engage in such discussions of the mephitic influence of an all-night journey in one or other of the admirable expresses running between here and Scotland.
§ Major ELLIOT
That, at any rate, is something better than the London fog. Those of us who have experience of London know that one of the reasons for the rapid conclusion of the Indian Conference was the desire of those who took part to escape before they were all poisoned. The desirability of some such body as is suggested to deal with the problem in Scotland is now accepted in all parts of the House. The Government have shown a sincere desire to meet the spirit as well as the letter of the Amendment, and in the belief that that is the desire of the Government, we shall be willing to withdraw the form of words of our Amendment. The Government, however, have left themselves a certain amount of discretion in the fact that they are going to specify by order certain of the conditions under which the subcommittee will work. I hope that the Government will pay attention to the request which we have made that, as far as possible, the sub-committee shall enjoy financial autonomy, and that it shall have a geographical location in the country which it is to administer. With these conditions, I think that it will be possible for my hon. Friend to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Several HON. MEMBERS rost—
§ Major ELLIOT
I have specifically refrained from withdrawing the Amendment myself. It was moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Aberdeen (Mr. R. W. Smith), who has not withdrawn it, but I understand that at a later 1299 stage he will ask leave to withdraw, giving up the opportunity to the House to voice its opinion in the meantime; otherwise, we shall be able to do nothing until we come to the manuscript Amendment of the Government. Manuscript Amendments always involve a certain amount of difficulty as compared with Amendments which appear on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It seems to me reasonable that we should not discuss an Amendment which is going to be withdrawn.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Does it follow that it will be withdrawn unless we can understand, if you allow us to do so, what is the exact implication of the Government Amendment? What would appear, subject to your Ruling, to be wise is for the meaning of the Government alternative Amendment to be made clear before the hon. Member who moved the present Amendment withdraws it.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Obviously, if there is an Amendment before the House, the House is at libertly to discuss it. I was only making a suggestion that it seems to me reasonable not to discuss an Amendment which, after it has been discussed, is going to be withdrawn. I understood from the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot) that his hon. Friend would withdraw it.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Further to that point of Order. I wish to draw attention to the fact that there is not a Scottish Member amongst those who are desiring to continue this discussion. They are all English, although this is essentially a Scottish question.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
As this is a matter in which England is involved I should be very much obliged if I might be allowed to argue on that point. I object to the Amendment before us and to the Amendment suggested by the Government, unless England is to get some consideration. As far as I can gather, Scotland is to be allowed to set up a separate committee to work these large-scale farms in Scotland. They will have real power, though there is a provision that the financial control is to be placed in the corporation. I ask that the same conditions shall apply in England, and unless I get consideration from the 1300 Government I and other Members will persist in our demands. Scottish Members, by their persistence throughout the day, have got what they want for Scotland, and I think that it is time we stood up for England. Member after Member has argued about the necessity of Scotland being dealt with on a different plane, and this is the last chance we shall have of insisting on a similar committee for England. Scotland will have some Members upon the English authority, and there is a danger, if there is a Scottish committee, that they may say: "We do not believe in large-scale farming for Scotland, but if it is to be tried let it be tried in England."
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
That is right. They will say that it should be tried in England, and if found to be a success there it can then be adopted in Scotland. That is the way we are being treated, and I think it is time we put a stop to this state of things. I intend to oppose this Amendment, and I hope English Members will support me until we get satisfaction. Why should we in England be at the mercy of the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Under-Secretary?
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
May I endeavour to remove what it, perhaps, a legitimate enough apprehension in the mind of the hon. and gallant Member and some of his friends. In the Bill as it now stands a corporation is to be set up of not more than nine persons, and the dominant partner in this House will expect to have the larger proportion of the members of this corporation. Apprehensions have been expressed on behalf of Scottish agriculture that its interests may not be safeguarded on that corporation in administrative matters and in the details of any operations which are conducted in Scotland. All that we propose is that in the case of any operations which are to be conducted in Scotland there shall be a Scottish committee of persons of practical experience of agriculture in Scotland who shall—
Mr. R. W. SMITH
Naturally, we want to get this matter placed on a proper footing, and really the blame does not rest with us. It was admitted by the Government that they intended to deal with this point. Only last night the Government came forward with this suggestion. I am trying to facilitate the work of the Government, and in order to save time I am ready to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It is not unusual for an Amendment to be withdrawn and a similar one moved in other words.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I would like to point out what is the choice before the House. Is it whether we should vote for the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Central Aberdeen (Mr. R. W. Smith) or whether we should vote for the manuscript Amendment which has been read out by the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland? It is quite clear that if the choice is between those two alternatives, there are a good many hon. Members on this side who object to this Amendment being withdrawn until they are given to understand what is the exact meaning of the Amendment suggested by the Under-Secretary. I am anxious to clear the position, but I am uncertain as to what the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland means by his proposal. The remarks which the hon. Member made in his second speech seem to have been inconsistent with the actual terms of the Amendment which he handed in a few minutes ago.
It appears to me that what was really proposed by the Under-Secretary was that members of the Corporation should act in consultation with certain individuals who were to be conversant with Scottish agriculture. If there is any meaning in these words it is that certain members of the Corporation should ask for the opinion of members conversant with agriculture in Scotland, but that there would be no obligation on them to abide by that advice. Further, they would have afterwards to refer to 1302 the Corporation and the Corporation might then take any decision they wished. That was quite inconsistent with what the hon. Gentleman was saying as to there being a Scottish Committee to deal with it. It is only for that reason that some hon. Members on this side were unwilling to allow this Amendment to be negatived until they had had a chance of examining a little further the alternative to be accepted in its place.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I beg to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
In view of what the hon. Gentleman has said I suggest to the Government that we should adjourn the Debate now as I understand another Bill, to which there is no opposition, is to be brought forward. We can then see the alternative Amendment, and hon. Members on this side will be able to know which one they prefer.
§ Dr. ADDISON
It really is not quite fair, seeing that two hours ago it was arranged in the usual way that we should submit alternative wording. These words were drawn up with those in charge of the Amendment and accepted as a fair alternative. I think, in view of the understanding that was arrived at, it might be accepted now as a substitute, that the House should allow us to put it in the Bill, and then we could adjourn. It really is extraordinarily difficult on any occasion to make arrangements if they are to be thrown over afterwards.
§ Sir J. LAMB
On a point of Order. I want to ask, in view of the fact that we are asked to substitute something which we have never seen for the wording on the Order Paper, whether it would be possible for another Amendment to be accepted by you, Mr. Speaker, later on, if we agree to the withdrawal of the Amendment of the hon. Member?
§ Major ELLIOT
I understand the Motion before the House is that the Debate should be adjourned, and it is on that motion that I am speaking. None of us would desire in any way to throw over or even to be negligent of any arrangement come to in the usual way. The Under-Secretary will agree that it was only during the Division that he was able to hand me the words agreed upon by the Government, and he will also 1303 agree that those words to some extent concern not only Scotland but also England, and there has really been very little time to consult the English Members upon it. The desire of us all is that some such words should be added to the Bill and some arrangement come to whereby it would be possible to see the words first. It would be really for the convenience of the Committee to see the words upon which hon. Members are asked to give a decision. The time is very short, and it would meet the general convenience if the Debate were terminated on this occasion, and if it were possible for me to give an assurance to the Minister of Agriculture that no factious opposition or delay would take place on the re-commencement of the Debate. We could clear the matter up in a very few minutes. I think it would be the desire of the House, as a whole, that we should not finally part with the wording as it is on the Paper before having a chance of seeing the alternative I can give an assurance on behalf of my hon. Friends that, at the very earliest stage after the re-commencement of the Debate the matter would be disposed of and that the Minister would lose no time by so doing. I do not know whether it would be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to speak again in that sense, or whether some other Minister could say whether this course of action is agreed to.
§ Dr. ADDISON
If I may speak again by the leave of the House, I must say that this is an arrangement with which I do not remember to have been faced before, and I am rather taken by surprise. If I understand that the undertaking of the hon. and gallant Member can be made good, on that understanding I will accept the arrangement, but it must be an understanding, and he and the right hon. Gentleman opposite must be parties to it, that, if we adopt this suggestion, we shall be able to dispose of this matter in a very short time. On that understanding I will accept the Motion, but I hope that it will be an understanding.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
I desire to protest in the strongest possible way against what I regard, or what, at any rate, some years ago would have been regarded, as most unparliamentary procedure on 1304 the part of the right hon. Gentleman, in attempting to dictate to the House what should be done as the result of some arrangement between himself, two or three of his colleagues, and two or three Members on the benches on this side of the House. There are plenty of us on this side who have been watching this Debate with considerable interest, and we do not see why we should abdicate our rights and our duties as Members of Parliament and see this matter rushed through without our being able to consider it. So far as regards the question of an understanding that there is to be no factious opposition when this matter is discussed again, I for my part am quite willing to give that undertaking; but I do think it is very necessary that, when a Motion to adjourn the Debate is made in such a way as this, a protest should be made against what has occasionally happened, namely, an attempt to take away from the body of this House as a whole their rights and duties, and to delegate them to a Minister, a couple of his colleagues, and two or three Members on the other side of the House.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
I join with my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Sir D. Herbert) in his protest, and in everything else that he has said. It is monstrous that the Government, having hopelessly confused the business of the House, should expect us to accept an Amendment which we have never seen, coming on a minute or two before Eleven, and then, after the appalling way in which the Minister has treated many of us, try to make us pledge ourselves that we will take no further interest in this matter, which is vital from the English point of view. I do not think it is possible to emphasize too strongly that on these occasions there should either be a definite clean-cut arrangement, or that, until such an arrangement is made, the ordinary back-bench private Member should have a fair show and a fair look-in. It is evident, from what has been happening during the last few minutes, that an attempt has been made by a few Scottish Members to get something inserted into this Bill. Whether they are right or wrong we have not had the chance of finding out. While we are disposing of one Amendment, another Amendment is thrown at our heads which we have never even seen. That creates 1305 a state of confusion that I think any Member of the House, whether above or below the Gangway—
It being Eleven of the Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate lapsed without Question put, and the Debate stood adjourned.
Debate to be resumed upon Monday next, 2nd February.