HC Deb 13 July 1931 vol 255 cc99-127
Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND-TROYTE

I beg to move, in page 11, line 1, to leave out Sub-section (1).

We have now dealt with the clauses of this Bill which make arrangements for the appointment of Boards and the starting of schemes. These Boards have been given great powers over the agriculturists of the country and it is now proposed to set up a Consumers' Committee to interfere with the work of the Boards and a Committee of Investigation to look after the Consumers' Committee. This Amendment deals with the Consumers' Committees, and, in my opinion, those committees are unnecessary and undesirable. When considering the necessity of setting up these committees we must consider what happens to a scheme before it reaches the stage at which a poll is taken. First the scheme has to be approved by the Minister, and in Clause 1 of the Bill it is laid down that he must consider any objections and representations made to him by people affected. A short time ago the Solicitor-General said: The Minister will take all steps to ensure that anyone who is affected will be duly heard before a scheme comes into force. It is obvious that consumers will be among those affected. Then the scheme has to pass both Houses of Parliament and it is again certain that hon. Members will consider the interests of consumers. It is not until after this that a poll is taken and a Consumers' Council is set up. We have also to consider the effect which other legislation passed by this House may have in regard to these matters. Those who support the formation of these committees do so because they fear that the boards will try to exploit the consumer. May I point out at the present time that the Consumers' Council Bill is being considered by a Committee, and if that Bill passes and the Consumers' Council is set up, it is bound to cause overlapping and interfere with the work of the consumers' committees which it is proposed to set up under this Bill.

7.0 p.m.

Both those committees will be considering the same subject. Those who support the formation of these committees evidently believe that the boards will exploit the consumers, but it will not be in the interest of the boards to do this, and, in fact, it will not be possible. They will not be able to do that, because it is well known that agricultural prices are regulated by world prices. If any attempt were made to exploit the public, I am sure it would fail, and in the end the boards would have to accept the world price of any particular article. I think that the Minister would be wise to accept this Amendment, because the fact that the consumers' committee will be set up will make it very unlikely that anyone will start a scheme at all. We do not know who is going to sit on the committee. The only certain thing we know about the composition of the committee is that one member shall be appointed after consultation with the Co-operative Union. It is most objectionable that a body in such close touch with a political party should be given privileges of that sort. Presumably the members of this committee are going to be paid. We do not know how much, although we do not want any more £7,000 a year appointments. They will have to earn their money in some way, and the only way they can do it is by interfering with the scheme. For these reasons, it would be to the advantage of the Bill to have this committee taken out.


I beg to second the Amendment.


The hon. and gallant Member has given no effective reasons why this committee should not remain in the Bill. If we assume that these committees have nothing to do except to interfere with other people's work, there might be some reason for it, but, as a matter of practical life, that is not what happens nor what will happen under this Bill. What we do is to set up a board of producers, and give them considerable power over the marketing of their produce and over their fellow-producers. When Parliament sets out to create organisations of that kind, trading in the interests of themselves and their fellow-traders, it behoves us to accompany those extensive powers, which have the force of Statute when they come into operation, with fair and reasonable safeguards for the consumer and other persons. It is almost inconceivable that Parliament would grant such extensive powers without such safeguards.

The only objection which the hon. and gallant Member brought forward was that there is another Bill in Committee upstairs which deals with kindred topics. This particular proposal, however, is of a very special kind, and relates to the operations of the boards carrying out the schemes approved under this Bill. This consumers' committee has, in itself, no powers, but will send in a report to the Minister who, if the case is made out, will send the matter for action and advice to the more important committee which deals with complaints generally and which is dealt with in the next Subsection. This consumers' committee is set up because it is manifest that we must have provisions which will safeguard against any unfairness to the consumer, and which will maintain the support of instructed public opinion. The view of the Scottish National Farmers' Union on this provision is the right and sound view. They are very anxious that it should be in the Bill, because they say it is vital to the interests of the producers that they should maintain the confidence of the general public. You must, therefore, have associated with these proposals some machinery by which the general public as consumers may secure a hearing for any complaint they may have cause to make. It is obvious that a Bill of this kind with great powers should be accompanied by such safeguards, and the hon. Member has not adduced a single reason why this committee should not remain in the Bill.

Viscount WOLMER

The Minister has not adduced any very strong reason why this Sub-section should remain in the Bill. He seems to think that the consumers' committee is vital to this scheme. Personally, I have the greatest distrust of the Socialist theory that the whole world can be regulated by a series of committees—one committee to watch this and one to watch that. The next Subsection appoints a committee to watch the consumers' committee. Like the old tag about big fleas and little fleas, a whole series of committees is being instituted by this Bill and other Bills by which the whole course of our lives is to be regulated. But, if these boards are to make a success of their work, they should be given as free a hand as possible. If they abuse the powers given them under this Bill, there is a consumers' committee to which these complaints can be brought, and that is the House of Commons, which is the consumers' committee of the nation.

I would much rather give the new boards a free hand with the knowledge that, if they abused it unreasonably, then the matter would undoubtedly be ventilated in this House by any Member of Parliament solicitous for his constituents interests. This consumers' committee is superabundant, is not required, and is likely to be vexatious to the working of the boards. What appears to be much more likely is that the mere fact that there is to be this committee with powers to look at all the accounts of every board and to examine them in detail will have a deterrent effect upon the formation of the boards. Therefore, if my hon. Friend presses this Amendment to a Division, I shall vote for it. The only good thing about this Sub-section is that its effect is to remove any regulated product from the ambit of the Consumers' Council Bill. That, however, is not much satisfaction to us, because the Consumers' Council Bill will never reach the Statute Book.


The Noble Lord appears to entertain the objection, which was stated in another place on a famous occasion by the great Lord Eldon, who said, when asked to set up an inquiry, that he objected to all inquiries on the ground that, once an inquiry opened, you could not tell what would be inquired into next. The Noble Lord began by a very quiet enunciation of this principle before he glanced at the work of this proposed committee of which he seems to have serious apprehensions in certain respects. The matter is a simple one. This committee is intended to watch the operations of these boards from the point of view of the consumers affected by their work. I cannot imagine any more reasonable arrangement. It is the sort of arrangement we have frequently adopted in modern legislation, and I cannot understand the apprehensions and fears entertained about this committee. I am certain that those outside, who expect to benefit from the working of these boards, would like to have some committee such as this to which they can look for the protection of their interests. It is not suggested that there is any essential conflict between the work of the producers' boards and this committee, and some such review of the work of the pro- ducers' boards should be provided, because it is common knowledge that complaints, which may be entirely unreasonable, are levied from time to time against the operations of statutory bodies. It is entirely in accord with modern legislation that some body should be provided to review those complaints. The proposal is reasonable, and is an essential supplement to the scheme which the House has already accepted. It provides that opportunity of revision and of consideration of complaints which people will expect to find in this Bill when it comes into operation and, therefore, the proposal is one which might reasonably be approved by the House.


I agree with the Amendment, and consider that this provision is a redundant one. I cannot agree with the Minister when he says that the consumers' committee would receive the support of the consumers. Of whom are these committees generally composed? Invariably of cranks. You get a few old maids who put themselves forward, and with a few men cranks you get your committee constituted. The ordinary consumer never thinks for a moment of offering his or her services. You are going to set up a number of committees throughout the country, supported by a number of permanent officials whom they must engage, and who will cost a considerable amount of money, doing no good and not receiving the support of the consumers. The success of a scheme like this must lie in its simplicity, yet here you are placing body after body between the boards and the Minister. What is the necessity for it? Why not simplify this Clause in this way? There should be no one between your co-operative societies and the Minister, but the Minister should delegate to the local authorities powers to receive complaints from the consumers, which could be sent up to him, and he would deal with them in exactly the same way as he would have to deal with them through the consumers' committee. My plan would not only make the right hon. Gentleman's scheme more efficient, but would save a considerable amount of money. The country has no confidence in these committees, and I certainly think that it will be a great mistake, and will imperil the Bill, to include such a Clause as this.

Brigadier-General CLIFTON BROWN

I am sorry for the Minister, because I believe that, if he could bring forward an organised marketing scheme on business lines, he would not need a consumers' investigation committee, but the truth is that this is part of the price that he has to pay to the co-operative movement, who will not have the Bill without it. Really, however, it has nothing to do with the Bill, and, from the point of view of organised marketing, it takes the gilt off the gingerbread. There is no doubt that people will be more suspicious of going into a scheme if they know that any scheme can be turned down by a consumers' committee than for any other reason. The committee who investigate complaints will certainly investigate complaints as to price and quality before anything else, and, when they are doing that, they will hold up as an example the foreign imported article, over which there is no control as regards price, so that it will be hardly worth entering into a scheme at all. As has been shown already by my hon. and gallant Friend, the consumer has ample protection in the election of the board, the publication of the scheme, and the Minister's power of sanctioning the scheme or not as he thinks fit. That seems to be ample protection for the consumer, without putting further top-heavy burdens on the conduct of business which will do more to stop these schemes coming into operation than anything else that the Minister can do.


I only intervene for the purpose of advancing one consideration, which I hope will enable us to conclude this matter. I would appeal to the hon. Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland), in view of his recent distinguished experience, to revise his opposition to the proposal in the Bill. He himself has just been presiding over a committee which I am sure was not composed of old maids or cranks. It was a very business-like committee, which has dealt with consumers' complaints about blended butter and so on, and it has presented a most excellent report, upon which I hope to take action as soon as possible. The hon. Member has rendered a distinguished public service, and the last description that I would apply to the committee over which he presided, and which inquired into this very grievance, is the description which he himself has used. I feel sure that on second thoughts he and his friends will withdraw their opposition.


This House has already passed a Bill very similar in many respects to this Agricultural Marketing Bill, namely, the Coal Mines Bill, which gave greater powers than are given in this Bill, but in that case it was not found necessary to provide any Consumers' Council or committee. Is the agricultural industry more dishonest than the coal industry? If not, I would ask the Minister in all reasonableness to withdraw his objection to this Amendment and allow it to go through. The Bill will receive a great deal more support if these ridiculous committees are not set up throughout the country. There is already ample provision in this respect, and I would beg the Minister not to spoil the Bill for the sake of this particular point.


I must confess that I am quite unconvinced by the arguments of the Minister regarding this Amendment. He does not seem to me to have given any explanation of what these committees are going to do, or what is to be the nature of the complaints from consumers which will be investigated. I cannot see that these committees will be of any use whatever. If the right hon. Gentleman had included in the Bill our original proposal for the control of foreign imports, I could understand that there might be some sort of argument for this provision, because it might then have been said that there would be a monopoly in this country if foreign imports were controlled, and that, therefore, the consumer's point of view ought to be safeguarded. In the present circumstances, however, it seems to me that there is an automatic brake on the alleged rapacity of producers, because, if the board should fix prices too high, the immediate effect would be that they would be undersold by the foreign imports. It seems to me, therefore, that in the present situation the consumer is absolutely protected, that these committees will be quite useless and very expensive, and that to set them up would be a very great mistake.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word 'and' in line 18, stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 252; Noes, 150.

Division No. 388.] AYES. [7.21 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Matters, L. W.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Groves, Thomas E. Messer, Fred
Addison. Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Grundy, Thomas W. Middleton, G.
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Mills, J. E.
Alpass, J. H. Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Milner, Major J.
Ammon, Charles George Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Montague, Frederick
Arnott, John Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Aske, Sir Robert Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Morley, Ralph
Attlee, Clement Richard Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Morris, Rhys Hopkins
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Hardie, David (Rutherglen) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Hardie, G. D. (Springburn) Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)
Barnes, Alfred John Harris, Percy A. Mort, D. L.
Barr, James Hastings, Dr. Somerville Muggeridge, H. T.
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Haycock, A. W. Murnin, Hugh
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Hayday, Arthur Naylor, T. E.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Hayes, John Henry Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Benson, G. Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Noel Baker, P. J.
Birkett, W. Norman Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Bowen, J. W. Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)
Broad, Francis Alfred Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Owen, H. F. (Hereford)
Brockway, A. Fenner Herriotts, J. Palin, John Henry.
Bromfield, William Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Palmer, E. T.
Bromley, J. Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Brooke, W. Hoffman, P. C. Perry, S. F.
Brothers, M. Hollins, A. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Horrabin, J. F. Phillips, Dr. Marlon
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Isaacs, George Pole, Major D. G.
Buchanan, G. John, William (Rhondda, West) Potts, John S.
Burgess, F. G. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Price, M. P.
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Pybus, Percy John
Caine, Hall-, Derwent Jones, Rt. Hon Leif (Camborne) Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Cameron, A. G. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Rathbone, Eleanor
Cape, Thomas Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Raynes, W. R.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Charleton, H. C. Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Cluse, W. S. Kelly, W. T. Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Ritson, J.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Kinley, J. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Compton, Joseph Kirkwood, D. Romeril, H. G.
Cove, William G. Knight, Holford Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Cowan, D. M Lang, Gordon Rowson, Guy
Cripps, Sir Stafford Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Salter, Dr. Alfred
Daggar, George Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park) Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Dallas, George Law, Albert (Bolton) Sanders, W. S.
Dalton, Hugh Law, A. (Rossendale) Sawyer, G. F.
Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Lawrence, Susan Scurr, John
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Lawson, John James Sexton, Sir James
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Leach, W. Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Duncan, Charles Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Sherwood, G. H.
Ede, James Chuter Lees, J. Shield, George William
Edmunds, J. E. Leonard, W. Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Lewis, T. (Southampton) Shillaker, J. F.
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Lloyd, C. Ellis Shinwell, E.
Egan, W. H. Logan, David Gilbert Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Longbottom, A. W. Simmons, C. J.
Evans, Major Herbert (Gateshead) Longden, F. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Foot, Isaac Lunn, William Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Freeman, Peter Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B. (Keighley)
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) McElwee, A. Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) McEntee, V. L. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Gibbins, Joseph MacNeill-Weir, L. Sorensen, R.
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley) McShane, John James Stamford, Thomas W.
Gill, T. H. Malone, C. L' Estrange (N'thampton) Strauss, G. R.
Gillett, George M. Manning, E. L. Sullivan, J.
Glassey, A. E. Mansfield, W. Sutton, J. E.
Gossling, A. G. March, S. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Gould, F. Marcus, M. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Markham, S. F. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Gray, Milner Marley, J. Thurtle, Ernest
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Marshall, Fred Tinker, John Joseph
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Mathers, George Toole, Joseph
Tout, W. J. Welsh, James (Paisley) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Vaughan, David West, F. R. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Viant, S. P. Westwood, Joseph Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Walker, J. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood) Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Wallace, H. W. Wilkinson, Ellen C. Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Watkins, F. C. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline). Williams, E. J. (Ogmore) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Wellock, Wilfred Williams Dr. J. H. (Llanelly) Mr. William Whiteley and Mr. Paling.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Everard, W. Lindsay Muirhead, A. J.
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Ferguson, Sir John Nall-Cain, A. R. N.
Albery, Irving James Fermoy, Lord Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Fielden, E. B. Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Fison, F. G. Clavering Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Atholl, Duchess of Ford, Sir P. J. Peake, Capt. Osbert
Atkinson, C. Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Penny, Sir George
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Galbraith, J. F. W. Perkins, W. R. D.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Ganzoni, Sir John Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Ramsbotham, H.
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Glyn, Major R. G. C. Rawson, Sir Cooper
Blindell, James Gower, Sir Robert Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.
Boothby, R. J. G. Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Boyce, Leslie Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Bracken, B. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Gunston, Captain D. W. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Savery, S. S.
Buchan-Hepburn, p. G. T. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Scott, James
Butler, R. A. Haslam, Henry C. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Campbell, E. T. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Smith, R. W. (Aber'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Carver, Major W. H. Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Chapman, Sir S. Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)
Christie, J. A. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Cobb, Sir Cyril Hurd, Percy A. Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Colfox, Major William Philip Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. Thompson, Luke
Colville, Major D. J. Inskip, Sir Thomas Thomson, Sir F.
Cooper, A. Duff Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Todd, Capt. A. J.
Cranborne, Viscount Kindersley, Major G. M. Turton, Robert Hugh
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Warrender, Sir Victor
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Wayland, Sir William A.
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Wells, Sydney R.
Dalkeith, Earl of Llewellin, Major J. J. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Long, Major Hon. Eric Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Lymington, Viscount Withers, Sir John James
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Macquisten, F. A. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Maitland, A. (Kent, Feversham) Womersley, W. J.
Eden, Captain Anthony Makins, Brigadier-General E. Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S. Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Elliot, Major Walter E. Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)
England, Colonel A. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s. M.) Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Major the Marquess of Titchfield
and Captain Euan Wallace.

I beg to move, in page 11, line 18, to leave out from the word "Trade" to the word "to" in line 19.

The words I propose to omit are and, as to one member, with the Cooperative Union. We are here setting up a consumers' committee, which is being chosen by the Minister in consultation with the Board of Trade. There is no mention at all of an outside body with whom the Minister should consult. He is choosing this com- mittee of consumers, and it is put into the Bill that he shall consult the Cooperative Union. There is no question of any antagonism to the Co-operative Union on my part. Hon. Members opposite in Committee apparently imagined that some of us objected to these words because we objected to the Co-operative Union being represented on these committees. We want the Minister to be free to choose the best people that he can get. He is almost bound to choose one or two members of the Co-operative Union. They obviously represent a very large block of consumers. There can be no question of opposing the appointment of any representatives of co-operative societies, but we bitterly resent this inferiority complex which compels certain members of co-operative societies to go whining to the Minister and asking to be put on, because it assumes that the co-operative people have not people of sufficient character and ability to be there on their own merits. We know they have people of sufficient merit, and any Minister, in looking to the interests of the consumers, would be bound to consult with them. We resent putting into an Act of Parliament these few words which compel the Minister to go to them whether he wants to do so or not. If the Minister would give us a concession on this point, he would give many people a feeling that he was trying to make the committee, which none of us particularly want, as wide as possible, composed only of the most suitable people. I am sure these people will be on already, as representing co-operative societies, and it is wrong that you should choose them in this way when there are very many other societies that you could put in, and I do not want any Minister to be tied down in the way that these words ties him.

Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND-TROYTE

I beg to second the Amendment.


I was wondering, when the hon. Member got up, what arguments he would bring forward for his proposal. He says representatives of the Co-operative Union will be selected in any case, and yet for some reason he wishes them not to be mentioned. I gather that the co-operative consumers in his own district are hurt at this mention of their organisation.


The Minister is putting words into my mouth. I say that, as a representative of a big constituency, I resent that any society should be named when they would naturally get there on their own merits.


That is one of those explanations which is a distinction without a difference. For some reason, the mere mention of the name is objectionable to the hon. Member, because he thinks that somehow or other it suggests an inferiority complex. Why the mention of an organisation should be indicative of an inferiority complex, whatever that may mean, I cannot understand. I should have thought it would be the opposite. The Board of Trade is mentioned, but it was never put up to me that that was a reflection upon them or suggested that they were suffering from an inferiority complex. These arguments do great credit to the hon. Member's ingenuity. I did not expect it. He has a very thin case. In fact, he has no case at all. This is a consumers' committee, and surely, if there is an organisation which represents a vast number of consumers, it is reasonable that we should look to it to secure some representation on this committee, and that is all that we have done. We have said that, out of the six persons other than the chairman, one shall be appointed, not as a member, not as a right, but merely after consultation with the Co-operative Union. We shall simply require to consult this organisation of consumers. It seems to me a sensible thing to do. We do this kind of thing in setting up all kinds of committees. We mention bodies which are particularly appropriate. Why not mention co-operative consumers? I do not think they wish to blush unseen any more than anyone else, and it is only right and proper that we should mention this which is, after all, a very influential representative body and not a trading body at all. The Co-operative Union is specifically put down, because it is not a trading body, but represents the cooperative organisation. It is quite a proper proposal. I congratulate the hon. Member on his ingenuity, but I am entirely unconvinced by his arguments.

Colonel ASHLEY

The right hon. Gentleman says, if it is right and proper to consult with the President of the Board of Trade, why not consult with are Co-operative Union as to the appointment of members. It is obvious that the two cases are not analogous. You consult with the Board of Trade because there is a Consumers Bill before Parliament, of which the President of the Board of Trade is the directing head. It is true that the First Lord of the Admiralty is in charge of the Bill, but it is the President of the Board of Trade who is directing operations all through the Bill. Therefore, if you have to get co-ordination between this committee and the Consumers' Council, obviously the Minister of Agriculture must consult the President of the Board of Trade before he appoints the personnel of the committee. There is no analogy between that and the Co-operative Union. I strongly object to this proposal, because it is so unfair. Either leave out the mention of any bodies or put in a great number whom you have to consult, but to pick out a body, which is politically joined to the Labour party, which you should consult and deliberately to leave out all representatives of private interests seems so purely partisan that it ought not to be allowed to pass without some comment.

Of course, the reason, apart from the idea of placating co-operators generally, is that the First Lord of the Admiralty is a very distinguished member of the Co-operative party and was for a long time their secretary. He takes good care, when a Bill like this comes in, to say to his friends in the Cabinet, "Do not forget the Co-operative Society when you mention the people to be consulted." It is wrong, because you are doing something for a political end which ought not to come into a Bill of this kind. These committees ought to be appointed on the responsibility of the Minister, subject, of course, to consultation with his colleagues, specifically or implied. If you begin consulting everyone, you will get yourself into a tangle. It is far better to leave out consultations with anyone at all. I object, therefore, on general principles to this, but I think it is more unwise than usual because you are singling out one form of distribution and enterprise and leaving out all other interests.


I do not follow the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, and I do not think he has informed himself with his usual care. As far as I understand it, the Co-operative Union is not affiliated to any political party. I have thousands of co-operators in my division. I shall be corrected if I am wrong, but I feel sure I am not wrong. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman's argument is baseless.

Colonel ASHLEY

Does the hon. Member say the Co-operative Society does not support the Labour party?


I say it is not affiliated to the Labour party at all, nor, for that matter, is the Co-operative party, as I understand it. Indeed, the opposite is the case, and there are many hundreds of co-operative societies which refuse to be affiliated even to the Co-operative party for political purposes. It is not only a false, but a dangerous ground for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to take. I cannot conceive any body of consumers whom it is more fitting to have represented on a board of this kind than co-operators. I rise, however, to get a little information from the Minister. In this Clause we are told that the body to be selected is the Co-operative Union. In Clause 19, which deals with the application of the Bill to Scotland, there is a difference, and I do not understand the difference. Sub-section (3) says: For the reference to the Co-operative Union there shall be substituted a reference to a co-operative organisation of consumers. I do not know what the distinction is. I understand that there is a Scottish cooperative society. I do not understand why, if that body is meant, it should not be mentioned. As to the reason why in the English application it should be the Co-operative Union, which is not a political body, and in Scotland it should be a co-operative organisation of consumers the House would like to have some light.


The right hon. Gentleman said he did not see any reason for this Amendment. I cannot see why these words are put in. It is a most ridiculous complication and is quite unnecessary and would give rise to a sort of idea that there was an intention to give a free advertisement to a body which is, of course, not officially, at any rate, affiliated to the Labour party, but that is not the fault of the Socialist party. In the circumstances, it is thought proper to give a free advertisement to a body of this kind, a large number of whose members, I think, do not want it. From what the Minister said, apparently he regards it as quite certain that the Minister would consult this body whoever the Minister might be, and, at any rate, I gather that he intends to do so himself. But, if it is a case of the Minister wanting advice from this body as to the suitable people, why should he only be allowed to consult them in regard to one nominee? It is true, as the Minister said, that there are Sections in other Acts, but they are Sections to the effect that the Minister shall make appointments after consultation with somebody or other.

Will the Minister tell me why he is only to consult this body in regard to one of six nominees? Does it mean that he intends that the Minister shall appoint one nominee of that body, and, if so, why does he not say so? If he wants the advice of that body, why should the advice be limited to one member of the Committee? The Clause as it reads is absurd. The Minister has a right to consult any body. Apparently, he is so convinced of the importance of this body that it is certain to be consulted by any Minister, and, if it is as valuable as that, why should it not be consulted with regard to all the members of the Committee instead of only with regard to one?

I suggest that the Minister cannot find a single precedent in any Act of Parliament for a Clause of this kind. In the first place, it provides that he has to consult, not with the president or the committee of the body, but with an enormous body. He cannot get the advice of the Co-operative Union. He can get the advice perhaps of the chairman, or the president, or the secretary, or some official of the union, but he cannot get the advice of the union. Is he going to cause the Co-operative Union to hold a meeting in order to decide upon the advice that is to be given to the Minister? I do not think that he can find a single case where, in a body of this size—a body of six members—the Minister is only obliged to consult an outside body in regard to a single member. If the Minister will consider this matter a little further, he will agree that it is much better to leave out these words altogether and to rely upon the Minister doing the proper thing, if so it be, in consulting this body as well as other bodies of equal importance in connection with the appointment, not only of one but of all the members of this body.


I want to be sure that I heard the Minister correctly when he stated that the special reason for consulting with the Co-operative Union was because the Co-operative Union was purely a consumers' co-operative society and had nothing to do with anything else. I understood him to say that just now, and perhaps he can inform us whether it is correct or not?


The hon. Member must have misunderstood me if he thought that I said that. I said that it represented the greatest organisation of consumers in the country, but, of course in some branches there are many other activities. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] There is no news in that, surely. I said that as it was a very important, and, I believe, the greatest, representative organisation of purchasers and consumers in the country—by far the largest—it is perfectly reasonable that it should be mentioned. I can supply the hon. and gallant Member with the precedent he requires, because under the Coal Mines Act passed by this House in 1930 it is specified that the National Board shall consist of certain persons, some to be appointed after consultation with the Mining Association, the Miners' Federation, the Federation of British Industries, and then it goes on: And each of the following bodies as to one, that is to say— The General Council of the Trade Union Congress; The Co-operative Union; The National Confederation of Employers' Organisations.


That is the whole number.


We are consulting an outside body for one member.


I am afraid that the Minister has rather forgotten what he stated. The reply he gave, certainly in the first speech just before he sat down, was that the principal reason that he had chosen this body was because it was purely a consumers' body. Those were the words that came to me, and I shall look in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow with the greatest interest to see what was said. The last statement is quite different. I have asked this question because of the point which was raised by the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown). He put his finger on the point, because when we come to the Scottish Clause we find that it is not the Co-operative Union in Scotland which is to be consulted, but a co-operative organisation. I do not propose to discuss my Amendment which will come on later if it is called, but I merely want to know if that is what the Minister means?


It is really an important point. It was not cleared up in the discussions in Committee as far as I have been able to gather from reading the OFFICIAL REPORT.


That point does not come up until we get to Clause 19, and there is a specific Amendment on the Paper dealing with it. I understand that in Scotland they are in a more forward position with regard to co-operative organisation in some respects than are we, and therefore a wider form of words has been put in with regard to Scotland in order that they may have a wider application owing to the development in that country of a much better scheme of

the various forms of co-operative organisation than that which we have in this country. I think that the specific point raised by the hon. Member will be reached when we get to the Amendment, and I will ask one of his fellow countrymen to reply.


If a representative of the co-operative societies sits upon a committee, how can he discharge his duties without those duties conflicting with the interests of co-operative societies? When a committee considers the price of flour, the representative of the co-operative society, which is the largest milling institution we possess, cannot help but have conflicting interests and therefore will be a most unsuitable person to sit upon the committee.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 255; Noes, 143.

Division No. 389.] AYES. [7.56 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Cowan, D. M. Haycock, A. W.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Cripps, Sir Stafford Hayday, Arthur
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Daggar, George Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Dallas, George Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Dalton, Hugh Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)
Alpass, J. H. Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)
Ammon, Charles George Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)
Arnott, John Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Herriotts, J.
Aske, Sir Robert Denman, Hon. R. D. Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)
Attlee, Clement Richard Dudgeon, Major C. R. Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)
Ayles, Walter Duncan, Charles Hoffman, P. C.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Ede, James Chuter Hollins, A.
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Edmunds, J. E. Horrabin, J. F.
Barnes, Alfred John Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)
Barr, James Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Isaacs, George
Batey, Joseph Egan, W. H. John, William (Rhondda, West)
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Evans, Major Herbert (Gateshead) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Foot, Isaac Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)
Benson, G. Freeman, Peter Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)
Birkett, W. Norman Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Bowen, J. W. Gibbins, Joseph Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston)
Broad, Francis Alfred Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley) Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)
Bromfield, William Gill, T. H. Kelly, W. T.
Bromley, J. Gillett, George M. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Brooke, W. Gossling, A. G. Kinley, J.
Brothers, M. Gould, F. Kirkwood, D.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Knight, Holford
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Gray, Milner Lang, Gordon
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)
Buchanan, G. Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Law, Albert (Bolton)
Burgess, F. G. Groves, Thomas E. Law, A. (Rosendale)
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) Grundy, Thomas W. Lawrence, Susan
Caine, Hall-, Derwent Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Lawson, John James
Cameron, A. G. Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)
Cape, Thomas Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Leach, W.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)
Charleton, H. C. Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)
Cluse, W. S. Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Lees, J.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Hardie, David (Rutherglen) Leonard, W.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour. Hardie, G. D. (Springburn) Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Compton, Joseph Harris, Percy A. Lloyd, C. Ellis
Cove, William G. Hastings, Dr. Somerville Logan, David Gilbert
Longbottom, A. W. Palin, John Henry Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B. (Keighley)
Longden, F. Paling, Wilfrid Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Lunn, William Palmer, E. T. Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Perry, S. F. Sorensen, R.
MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Stamford, Thomas W.
McElwee, A. Phillips, Dr. Marlon Strauss, G. R.
McEntee, V. L. Picton-Turbervill, Edith Sullivan, J.
MacNeill-Weir, L. Pole, Major D. G. Sutton, J. E.
McShane, John James Potts, John S. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Malone, C. L' Estrange (N'thampton) Price, M. P. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Manning, E. L. Pybus, Percy John Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Mansfield, W. Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Thurtle, Ernest
March, S. Raynes, W. R. Tinker, John Joseph
Marcus, M. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Toole, Joseph
Markham, S. F. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Tout, W. J.
Marley, J. Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees) Vaughan, David
Marshall, Fred Ritson, J. Viant, S. P.
Mathers, George Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich) Walker, J.
Matters, L. W. Romeril, H. G. Wallace, H. W.
Messer, Fred Rosbotham, D. S. T. Watkins, F. C.
Middleton, G. Rowson, Guy Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Mills, J. E. Salter, Dr. Alfred Wellock, Wilfred
Milner, Major J. Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen) Welsh, James (Paisley)
Montague, Frederick Sanders, W. S. West, F. R.
Morgan, Dr. H. B. Sawyer, G. F. Westwood, Joseph
Morley, Ralph Sexton, Sir James Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Morris, Rhys Hopkins Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Mort, D. L. Sherwood, G. H. Williams Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Muggeridge, H. T. Shield, George William Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Murnin, Hugh Shiels, Dr. Drummond Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Naylor, T. E. Shillaker, J. F. Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Shinwell, E. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Noel Baker, P. J. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Simmons, C. J. Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Owen, H. F. (Hereford) Smith, Frank (Nuneaton) Mr. Hayes and Mr. William Whiteley
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Kindersley, Major G. M.
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Lamb, Sir J. Q.
Albery, Irving James Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Eden, Captain Anthony Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)
Atholl, Duchess of Edmondson, Major A. J. Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest
Atkinson, C. Elliot, Major Walter E. Llewellin, Major J. J.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) England, Colonel A. Long, Major Hon. Eric
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.) Lymington, Viscount
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Everard, W. Lindsay Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)
Beaumont, M. W. Ferguson, Sir John Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Fielden E. B. Margesson, Captain H. D.
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Fison, F. G. Clavering Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S.
Boothby, R. J. G. Ford, Sir P. J. Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Boyce, Leslie Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)
Bracken, B. Galbraith, J. F. W. Muirhead, A. J.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Ganzoni, Sir John Nall-Cain, A. R. N.
Broadbent, Colonel J. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Gower, Sir Robert Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Butler, R. A. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Peake, Capt. Osbert
Butt, Sir Alfred Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Penny, Sir George
Campbell, E. T. Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Carver, Major W. H. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Perkins, W. R. D.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Gunston, Captain D. W. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Ramsbotham, H.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Rawson, Sir Cooper
Chapman, Sir S. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.
Christie, J. A. Haslam, Henry C. Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Cobb, Sir Cyril Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Rothschild, J. de
Colfox, Major William Philip Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.
Colville, Major D. J. Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Cooper, A. Duff Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Courtauld, Major J. S. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Cranborne, Viscount Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Savery, S. S.
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Hurd, Percy A. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Inskip, Sir Thomas Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Dalkeith, Earl of Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Stanley, Lord (Fylde) Turton, Robert Hugh Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey) Womersley, W. J.
Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton) Warrender, Sir Victor Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Thompson, Luke Wayland, Sir William A.
Thomson, Sir F. Wells, Sydney R. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Todd, Capt. A. J. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay) Captain Sir George Bowyer and
Major the Marquess of Titchfield.

I beg to move, in page 12, line 21, to leave out paragraph (c)

Under Sub-section (4), the Minister, having appointed a consumers' committee proceeds to appoint a committee of investigation. After the committee of investigation has brought something to the notice of the Minister, the Minister may, if he thinks fit, do certain things, and one of the things that he may do is contained in paragraph (c), namely: in the event of the matter being one which it is within the power of the board administering the scheme to rectify, may by order direct the board to take such steps to rectify the matter as may be specified in the order, and thereupon it shall be the duty of the board forthwith to comply with the order. The reason why I move to delete the paragraph is that here we have direct power given to the Minister to interfere with the operations of the board. It is one of the Mussolini touches, of which we have had several in the Bill. In connection with an Amendment earlier this afternoon in regard to an inspector of the board being allowed to have access to the land and buildings of a regulated producer, the Minister hotly repudiated the suggestion that there was anything bureacratic, or anything that savoured of business management of the farms from Whitehall. In paragraph (c) the Minister is taking upon himself the very kind of power which he deplored earlier today. He will be able to come to a decision and then compel adhesion to his decision on any matter affecting the scheme. He can enforce his own sweet will upon the board. It is not in the interests of any scheme that the Minister should be entrusted with such wide powers. I do not know whether he happens to be an accomplished horseman, but he seems to be trying to ride two horses at once. He says that the Bill is to raise the price to the producers, and now we are dealing with a Clause which will operate in precisely a different direction. I hope the Minister will be a skill- ful equestrian, otherwise he will come a very serious cropper.

Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND-TROYTE

I beg to second the Amendment.


I do not think the hon. and gallant Member has realised that the purpose of paragraph (c) is to prevent more drastic action. There are three alternatives. In the first place, the Minister may, under paragraph (a), make such amendments in the scheme as he considers necessary, if the matter can be rectified by amendments. Secondly, under paragraph (d), and this may be regarded by the hon. and gallant Member as the Mussolini touch, he may revoke the scheme. Thirdly, under paragraph (c), he may effect such a change in that part of the administration which it is complained about as will rectify the subject matter of the complaint. Paragraph (c) seeks therefore to prevent the Minister having to use a more drastic power. The hon. and gallant Member referred to the Minister's own sweet will. It is not quite that. The Minister can only take action on the recommendation of the committee of investigation. He need not act on that recommendation. He has to consult the Board of Trade, if he intends to take action. Then he has to give the producers' board 14 days notice. Further, such an order as is contemplated under paragraph (c) has to be laid before each House of Parliament, and there is an opportunity of stopping its proceeding further. Therefore it is not a question of anything being done simply by the Minister's own sweet will.

The hon. and gallant Member said that my hon. Friend is trying to ride two horses at once. We are endeavouring to give the producers a considerable amount of control, but there comes a point where there must be some control for the consumers. It has been suggested that the interests of the producers and the consumers are diametrically opposed. The kind of complaint that may arise may be that of favouring one lot of con- summers as against another, or one lot of producers against another. There may be many matters of complaint without bringing the consumers and the producers against each other. We want some alternative to having to revoke a scheme. The power which is given in paragraph (c) is very closely guarded. Of course, if the Minister's action was objectionable it would be possible for those who were opposed to the scheme to take action and have it revoked. Under this paragraph, it is not a case of acting with a sledge hammer.

Viscount WOLMER

We discussed this matter and also the Clause at great length in Committee. We enter our protest against paragraph (c). This is a case where the investigation committee have recommended that the board should do something and the board has definitely refused to do it. The board is simply the trustee for the registered producer. It is in the same position as the board of a company, which is responsible to its shareholders. Here is something which they are asked to do and which they cannot bring themselves to do in loyal fulfilment of their trust, and paragraph (c) empowers the Minister to order them to do it, and then they are obliged to do it. That is acting unfairly towards the board and towards the Minister. It is asking the Minister to do a most invidious thing, to force the board to do something which they cannot reconcile with their duty.

It is possible that the order of the Minister under this paragraph may be one that will prejudice the solvency of the scheme. He may order the board to reduce the price of their regulated product, but in doing so he would have no

financial responsibility or liability. The whole of the financial liability would fall on the registered producers. Therefore, it is grossly unfair that the Minister should have this power, without any responsibility for the result that might ensue. It would be very much better, if the board cannot work the scheme satisfactorily and equitably, that the Minister should come to Parliament and ask for the scheme to be wound up. It is impossible to control the actions of the board at every step in the way the Government are trying to do, with the consumers' committee, an investigation committee, and the Minister being armed with powers to put his oar in whenever he thinks fit. It would be much better to give the board a free hand and to wind up the scheme if they cannot deliver the goods. This policy of tinkering interference is one that places both the board and the Minister in an unfair position. It is true that there is a Parliamentary veto on the Minister's action, but it may happen that if the Minister's action is taken during the Recess that Parliament will not have an opportunity of reviewing the matter until the following November. During that time it is quite possible that the action might place the board in a position of insolvency. We cannot regard this proviso as in any way a satisfactory guarantee that the powers conferred upon the Minister may not be used with the greatest prejudice to the fortunes of the board.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 246; Noes, 106.

Division No. 390] AYES. [8.16 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Birkett, W. Norman Compton, Joseph
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Cove, William G.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Bowen, J. W. Cowan, D. M.
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Broad, Francis Alfred Cripps, Sir Stafford
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Bromfield, William Daggar, George
Alpass, J. H. Bromley, J. Dallas, George
Ammon, Charles George Brooke, W. Dalton, Hugh
Arnott, John Brothers, M. Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)
Aske, Sir Robert Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)
Attlee, Clement Richard Brown, Ernest (Leith) Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)
Ayles, Walter Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Denman, Hon. R. D.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Burgess, F. G. Dudgeon, Major C. R.
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) Duncan, Charles
Barnes, Alfred John Caine, Hall-, Derwent Ede, James Chuter
Barr, James Cameron, A. G. Edmunds, J. E.
Batey, Joseph Cape, Thomas Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Edwards, E. (Morpeth)
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Cluse, W. S. Egan, W. H.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)
Benson, G. Cocks, Frederick Seymour Evans, Major Herbert (Gateshead)
Foot, Isaac, Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Freeman, peter Lees, J. Romeril, H. G.
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Leonard, W. Rosbotham, D. S. T.
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Lewis, T. (Southampton) Rowson, Guy
Gibbins, Joseph Lloyd, C. Ellis Salter, Dr. Alfred
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley) Logan, David Gilbert Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Gill, T. H. Longbottom, A. W. Sanders, W. S.
Gillett, George M. Longden, F. Sawyer, G. F.
Glassey, A. E. Lunn, William Scurr, John
Gossling, A. G. Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Sexton, Sir James
Gould, F. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Gray, Milner McElwee, A. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne). McEntee, V. L. Sherwood, G. H.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) McShane, John James Shield, George William
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Malone, C. L' Estrange (N'thampton) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Groves, Thomas E. Manning, E. L. Shillaker, J. F.
Grundy, Thomas W. Mansfield, W. Shinwell, E.
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) March, S. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Marcus, M. Simmons, C. J.
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Markham, S. F. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, G.) Marley, J. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Marshall, Fred Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Mathers, George Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B. (Keighley)
Hardie, David (Rutherglen) Matters, L. W. Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Hardie, G. D. (Springburn) Messer, Fred Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Harris, Percy A. Middleton, G. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Mills, J. E. Sorensen, R.
Haycock, A. W. Milner, Major J. Stamford, Thomas W.
Hayday, Arthur Montague, Frederick Strauss, G. R.
Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Sullivan, J.
Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Morley, Ralph Sutton, J. E
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Morris, Rhys Hopkins Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Herriotts, J. Mort, D. L. Thurtle, Ernest
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Muggeridge, H. T. Tinker, John Joseph
Hirst, W. (Bradlord, South) Murnin, Hugh Toole, Joseph
Hoffman, P. C. Naylor, T. E. Tout, W. J.
Hollins, A. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Viant, S. P
Horrabin, J. F. Noel Baker, p. J. Walker, J.
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Wallace, H. W.
Isaacs, George Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Watkins, F. C.
John, William (Rhondda, West) Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Owen, H. F. (Hereford) Wellock, Wilfred
Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne) Palin, John Henry Welsh, James (Paisley)
Jones, Morgan (Caarphilly) Paling, Wilfrid West, F. R.
Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Palmer, E. T. Westwood, Joseph
Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Perry, S. F. Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Kelly, W. T. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Phillips, Dr. Marlon Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Kinley, J. Picton-Turbervill, Edith Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Kirkwood, D. Pole, Major D. G. Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Lang, Gordon Potts, John S. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Price, M. P. Wilson C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park) Pybus, Percy John Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Law, Albert (Bolton) Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Law, A. (Rossendale) Raynes, W. R. Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Lawrence, Susan Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Leach, W. Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Ritson, J. Mr. Hayes and Mr. Charleton.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Forestier-Walker, Sir L.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Chapman, Sir S. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.
Atholl, Duchess of Christie, J. A. Ganzoni, Sir John
Atkinson, C. Colville, Major D. J. Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Cooper, A. Duff Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Courtauld, Major J. S. Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter
Blindell, James Cranbourne, Viscount Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Boyce, Leslie Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Haslam, Henry C.
Bracken, B. Dalkeith, Earl of Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.
Broadbent, Colonel J. Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)
Brown, Brig. Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Dixey, A. C. Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)
Butt, Sir Alfred Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.
Campbell, E. T. Eden, Captain Anthony Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.
Carver, Major W. H. Edmondson, Major A. J. Hurd, Percy A.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. England, Colonel A. Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Everard, W. Lindsay Inskip, Sir Thomas
Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Penny, Sir George Thompson, Luke
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Thomson, Sir F.
Kindersley, Major G. M. Perkins, W. R. D. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Lamb, Sir J. Q. Ramsbotham, H Todd, Capt. A. J.
Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby) Rawson, Sir Cooper Turton, Robert Hugh
Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Rentoul, Sir Gervais S. Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Llewellin, Major J. J. Reynolds, Col. Sir James Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Long, Major Hon. Eric Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Wayland, Sir William A.
Makins, Brigadier-General E. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Wells, Sydney R.
Margesson, Captain H. D. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart Womersley, W. J.
Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Scott, James Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Muirhead, A. J. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Nall-Cain, A. R. N. Smith-Carington, Neville W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Captain Sir George Bowyer and
Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld) Stanley, Lord (Fylde) Captain Austin Hudson.
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.