HC Deb 20 May 1931 vol 252 cc2160-3

This Act shall continue in force until the thirty-first day of July, nineteen hundred and thirty-three, and no longer, unless Parliament otherwise determines.—[Mr. C. Williams.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


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

I think the Government will accept this new Clause. It merely extends the time for the expenditure of this money to two years. We all know that this is an emergency Measure for the purpose of spending a large capital sum on the telephones. The only justification given for this capital expenditure, which amounts to over-borrowing at a time when we are heavily over-borrowing already, is that it will be a means of using up a certain number of the people who are out of work and will develop the telephone system. The Government think that the telephone system is very good indeed, because the other day they pointed out that for practical purposes we were the third telephone nation in the world. It is clear that so far as the Government are concerned, if they believe in themselves to the same extent as they talk about themselves, we shall in two years have a telephone, system superior to that of any nation in the world.

On the other hand, there is this point. It is possible—and we are all hoping that it will be so—that in the course of two years we shall see a trade revival and that we shall then desire to get money back into real trade rather than into the telephones. The telephone assists trade, but it does not open up and develop new industries in other countries. For that reason, I think that in a small Bill such as this, which is not really controversial, you might lay down a small limit when you have a tremendous over-borrowing according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I think the Government will be able to accept the limitation laid down in the new Clause, because at the end of the two years they will be able, if it is necessary, to increase the programme of development by coming to the House again. I do not think it in any way compels the too-hasty expenditure of money. Under the Bill, as I understand it, it means that the Government can spend up to £32,000,000 in the two years. They have a surplus over from the time before, and it is rather more than the £32,000,000 that they want. I do feel that in such a position as we are in to-day, with a totally unknown expenditure in the

future, and vast borrowings in past years, it is essential in the interests of the national finances, when you are giving a Government Department great power for spending money, that you should lay down a definite and clear limit.


I am not quite sure whether the hon. Member who moved the new Clause fully sees its effect. So far as I can see, the only result would be that the raising of this sum and loaning it to the Post Office would be limited to the 31st of July, 1933. Therefore, the effect would be that if the sum had to be borrowed it would be borrowed in two and not three years. He seemed to indicate that we were making severe inroads on the borrowing powers of the country. This would restrict and not assist it. If we wanted it we should get it in two years, and, if we wanted any more, we should have to come back to Parliament. This Bill is founded on the principle of a former Bill. I remember when this formula was first introduced by the right hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir W. Mitchell-Thomson), and the principle was that, if we wanted more, we should come to the House again. There is no point in this new Clause, and the Government cannot accept it.

Viscount WOLMER

I support this new Clause for the reasons given by my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams). The Postmaster-General has outlined a three-year programme which I regard as absolutely inadequate. I want him to spend the money in two years. If this new Clause is passed, he will not be forced to spend the money, but he will be given the chance to spend it, and he or his successor will be forced to come back to Parliament to give an account of how. the development had been going on.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 44; Noes, 114.

Division No. 258.] AYES. [1.25 a.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut-Colonel Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Dugdale, Capt. T. L.
Albery, Irving James Broadbent, Colonel J. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) Campbell, E. T. Greene, W. P. Crawford
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton Gunston, Captain D. W.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Christie, J. A. Hartington, Marquess of
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Colfox, Major William Philip Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)
Bracken, B. Colville, Major D. J. Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.
Briscoe, Richard George Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)
Inksip, Sir Thomas Pybus, Percy John Warrender, Sir Victor
Lamb, Sir J. Q. Remer, John R. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart Womersley, W. J.
Lymington, Viscount Skelton, A. N. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Thomson, Sir F. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
O'Connor, T. J. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of Mr. Smithers and Mr. Charles
Penny, Sir George Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey) Williams.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Jenkins, Sir William Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) John, William (Rhondda, West) Rowson, Guy
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas Sanders, W. S.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Kelly, W. T. Sawyer, G. [...].
Alpass, J. H. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Scurr, John
Arnott, John Kirkwood, D. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Attlee, Clement Richard Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Barr, James Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park) Shillaker, J. F.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Lawrence, Susan Simmons, C. J.
Benton, G. Lees, J. Sitch, Charles H.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Leonard, W. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Bowen, J. W. Longden, F. Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Brooke, W. MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Buchanan, G. McElwee, A. Stephen, Campbell
Burgess, F. G. McKinlay, A. Strauss, G. R.
Caine, Hall-, Derwent McShane, John James Sullivan, J.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Mansfield, W. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Charleton, H. C. Marcus, M. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Clarke, J. S. Marshall, Fred Thurtle, Ernest
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Mathers, George Tinker, John Joseph
Daggar, George Maxton, James Townend, A. E.
Dallas, George Messer, Fred Viant, S. P.
Dalton, Hugh Mills, J. E. Walkden, A. G.
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Milner, Major J. Wallace, H. W.
Ede, James Chuter Morley, Ralph Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Edmunds, J. E. Muff, G. Wellock, Wilfred
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Murnin, Hugh Welsh, James (Paisley)
Gibbins, Joseph Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley) Palin, John Henry Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Gill, T. H. Paling, Wilfrid Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Glassey, A. E. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Gossling, A. G. Phillips, Dr. Marlon Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Potts, John S. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Grundy, Thomas W. Price, M. P. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Quibell, D. J. K. Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Hayes, John Henry Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Herriotts, J. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. B.
Hicks, Ernest George Ritson, J. Smith.
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Romeril, H. G.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report the Bill, without Amendment, to the House."


On a point of Order, may I respectfully ask whether you have put Clauses 3, 4 and 5 to the House?


The hon. Member had better look at another Bill. There are only two clauses in this one.

Bill reported, without Amendment; to be read the Third time To-morrow.