HC Deb 01 October 1931 vol 257 cc676-93

2. "That a sum, not exceeding £7,000,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1932, for Advances to the Road Fund."

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."


The House will remember that when we debated these Supplementary Estimates in Committee nearly the whole time was taken up in discussing the Ministry of Labour Estimate, and the discussion on the Road Fund was curtailed. We registered our strong opposition against this Supplementary Estimate, and if there were time, we would continue to express ourselves in that sense, but we desire to use the time at our disposal to-night for the Road Fund, so that we shall formally express our opposition by dividing against this Estimate.


Towards the end of the previous discussion, I put a question to the Parliamentary Secretary, his answer to which has caused much perturbation among ex-service men and especially among those organised in the various branches of the British Legion. It referred to the question of pensions being taken into consideration by the public assistance committees in assessing the needs of those men and to the treatment that badly disabled ex-service men had previously been receiving at the hands of the Employment Exchanges. With regard to pensions, we were told by the Parliamentary Secretary that the public assistance committees would deal with these according to their practice hitherto. That means that there will be no uniformity of treatment of ex-service men by the committees. The pensions were, after all, given for disabilities incurred during war service, and were in the nature of something entirely separate from the ordinary family income. After all, the pensioner needs extra nourishment, and, if he has an artificial limb, there is extra wear and tear on clothes. The disabled man's ability to work is affected and his net earnings are very much less than those of his fellow workman who is sound in limb and health, which makes it more difficult for him. For these reasons pensions are necessary. The ex-service man was told during the War that his pension would not be taken into account in fixing wages, and that it should not be taken into account in fixing maintenance. Maintenance is something which affects the whole family, and yet the family is to be penalised in this way. I make a special appeal to the Minister on this question. I know that the right hon. Gentleman has powers to deal with these matters, and even if he says that he cannot deal with them a word from one of his colleagues would make it possible for a circular to be sent round to the public assistance committees which will have to deal with ex-service men's pensions. I would remind hon. Members that we fought the Huns because we were told that they had torn up a scrap of paper, and now the Government propose to tear up a. scrap of paper in regard to a matter which affects the livelihood of the men who fought for this country during the War.

11.0 p.m.

I will now turn to the case of the badly disabled ex-service men who cannot possibly get employment because of their special disability. In reply to a question I was told that no distinction was going to be made in regard to any class of the community in connection with these reductions. It is about 14 years since these men made their great sacrifice, and now they are asked to make another sacrifice. The limbless man is in a different position from other ex-service men. The man who has lost an arm is not wanted in ordinary industries. For such men light jobs are very few and far between. I have known eases of men with artificial limbs walking about searching for a job to such an extent that congealed blood has been found on the rim of the bucket of the artificial limb. In some cases these poor men have become incapacitated searching for work, and because of that they are told they are not eligible for benefit. I want to make a strong and urgent appeal on behalf of many ex-service men whom I know personally, and with whom I come into contact in my own city and in various parts of the country. In the great national crisis in 1914, the young manhood of this country responded to the appeal to their manhood, their chivalry and their patriotism. During that crisis the young manhood of this country were weighed in the balance, and were not found wanting. Many people may have thought that they were mistaken, and they themselves may have thought that they were mistaken, but during that time of crisis the young manhood of this country responded to the call of the country in her hour of need. Will the country let down these young men in their hour of need? You have your crisis in the Government and in the nation, but in the homes of these men, who have suffered untold hells and agonies because of what they did for their country, there is suffering and poverty—[Interruption.] The Government can ease their burdens; it can make their sacrifice not quite so hard as it otherwise would be; and I appeal to the Government to see if, in the Orders-in-Council which they are going to make, they can make some provision for the protection of these men who protected them in the hour of need. If they do not, all I can say is that, as we fought the Germans in 1914, so we will fight the Huns at home in this battle

that is in front of us. Instead of the bomb we will use the ballot; instead of the bayonet we will use our eloquence on the platforms of this country; instead of slogans about killing Huns, we will have slogans: about making for our fellows who suffered in the last War, and for their children who will follow them, a better England than you have made for them.


Is not there going to be any reply?


On a point of Order. Am I not entitled, considering the unsatisfactory nature of the reply that we had on the Committee stage, to some reply now? This is a very important question. These men for whom I am pleading have made great sacrifices.

Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

The House divided: Ayes, 214; Noes, 127.

Division No. 516.] AYES. [11.4 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Colfox, Major William Philip Gower, Sir Robert
Albery, Irving James Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock) Granville, E.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Llverp'l.w.) Colman, N. C. D. Greene, W. P. Crawford
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) Colville, Major D. J. Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M.S. Cooper, A. Duff Gunston, Captain D. W.
Aske, Sir Robert Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.
Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent,Dover) Cranborne, Viscount Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)
Atholl, Duchess of Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)
Atkinson, C. Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Hanbury, C.
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey Gainsbro) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Balniel, Lord Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Harris, Percy A.
Beaumont, M. W. Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Davidson, Rt. Hon, J. (Hertford) Haslam, Henry C.
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Davies, Dr. Vernon Henderson, Capt. R.R.(Oxf'd, Henley)
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P,
Blindell, James Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller
Boothby, R. J. G. Dawson, Sir Philip Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Denman, Hon. R. D. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney.N.)
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Hunter, Dr. Joseph
Boyce, Leslie Dixey, A. C. Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. sir Aylmer
Bracken, B. Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert Hurd, Percy A.
Briscoe, Richard George Duckworth, G. A. V. Hutchison, Maj-Gen. Sir R.
Broadbent, Colons) J. Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Iveagh, Countess of
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks,Newb'y) Eden, Captain Anthony Jones, Llewellyn-, F.
Buchan, John Edmondson, Major A. J. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Elliot, Major Walter E. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Elmley, Viscount Jones, Rt. Hon. Lelf (Camborne)
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.M.) Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston)
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Falle, Sir Bertram G. Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)
Caine, Hall-, Derwent Ferguson, Sir John Kindersley, Major G. M.
Campbell, E. T. Fielden, E. B. Knox, Sir Alfred
Castle Stewart, Earl of Foot, Isaac Lamb, Sir J. Q.
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Ford, Sir P. J Lane Fox. Col. Rt. Hon. George R.
Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.) Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Galbraith, J. F. W. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)
Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton Ganzoni, Sir John Llewellin, Major J. J.
Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.) Gauit, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey
Christie, J. A. George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Long, Major Hon. Eric
Clydesdale, Marquess of Gillett, George M. Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Lymington, Viscount
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Glassey, A. E. McConnell, Sir Joseph
Cohen, Major J. Brunei Glyn, Major R. G. C. Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)
Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Rawson, Sir Cooper Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)
Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Held, David D. (County Down) Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South)
Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Remer, John R. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Makins, Brigadier-General E. Rentoul, Sir Gervais S. Sueter, Rear-Admiral M f.
Margesson, Captain H. D. Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.
Marjoribanks, Edward Richardson, Sir P. w. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y) Thomson, Sir F.
Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Thomson, Mitchell, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Millar, J. D. Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S. Rosbotham, D. s. T. Todd, Capt. A. J.
Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Ross, Ronald D. Train, J.
Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T, C. R. (Ayr) Salmon, Major I. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Morrison, W. S. (GIOS., Cirencester) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Muirhead, A. J. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Nail-Cain, A. R. N. Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Savery, S. S. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Scott James Wells, Sydney R.
O'Connor, T. J. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. White, H. G.
Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington) Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Oman, Sir Charles William C. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (Caithness) Womersley, W. J.
Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Skelton, A. N. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Penny, Sir George Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam) Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Perkins, W. R. D. Smith-Carington, Neville W. Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavlst'k)
Peters, Dr. Sidney John Smithers, Waldron Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Power, Sir John Cecil Somerset, Thomas TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Pybus, Percy John Somerville, A, A. (Windsor) Sir Victor Warrender and Major
Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Southby, Commander A. R. J. Sir George Hennessy.
Ramsbotham, H. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (File, West) Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Noel Baker, P. J.
Adamson, w. M. (Staff., Cannock) Groves, Thomas E. Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Alpass, J. H. Hall, Capt. w. G. (Portsmouth, c.) Owen, H. F. (Hereford)
Ammon, Charles George Hardie, David (Rutherglen) Palin, John Henry
Arnott, John Hardie, G. D. (Springburn) Palmer, E. T.
Attlee, Clement Richard Haycock, A. W. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Ayles, Walter Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bliston) Herriotts, J. Potts, John S.
Barr, James Hint, W. (Bradford, South) Price, M. P.
Batey, Joseph Hoffman, P. C. Quibell, D. J. K.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Hopkin, Daniel Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Benson, G. Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Ritson, J.
Bowen, J. W. Isaacs, George Romeril, H. G.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Jenkins, Sir William Salter, Dr. Alfred
Broad, Francis Alfred Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)
Brockway, A. Fenner Kelly, W. T. Sanders, W. S.
Bromley, J. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Sawyer, G. F.
Brooke, W. Kinley, J. Shield, George William
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield) Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Shillaker, J. F.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Lawson, John James Simmons, C. J.
Buchanan, G. Leach, W. Sitch, Charles H.
Burgess, F. Q, Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Cape, Thomas Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Charleton, H. C. Longbottom, A. W. Stamford, Thomas W.
Clarke, J. S. Longden, F. Stephen, Campbell
Cocks, Frederick Seymour McElwee, A. Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Cripps, Sir Stafford McEntee, V. L. Strauss, G. R.
Daggar, George Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Thurtle, Ernest
Dalton, Hugh MacNeill-Weir, L. Vaughan, David
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) McShane, John James Viant, S. P.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Watkins, F. C.
Day, Harry Mansfield, W. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Marcus, M. Wellock, Wilfred
Dukes, C Marley, J. Welsh, James (Paisley)
Duncan, Charles Mathers, George Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Dunnico, H. Maxton, James Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Ede, James Chuter Messer, Fred Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Egan, W. H. Middleton, G. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Freeman, Peter Mills, J. E. Young, Sir R. (Lancaster, Newton)
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Milner. Major J.
Gossling, A. G. Morley, Ralph TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Gould, F. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Hayes.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin.,Cent.) Mort, D. L.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Muggeridge, H. T.

Second Resolution read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."


This Supplementary Estimate passed the Committee stage without any discussion, and on this occasion I do not propose to detain the House at any length upon the points which it raises. It should be understood, as I explained earlier, that the difficulty with which we are faced in part in connection with the finances of the Road Fund is very much related to the raids upon the Road Fund made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. Moreover, it must be remembered that the income of the Road Fund is burdened with certain charges, including a large fixed sum comprising the rural road grant the block grant or the Exchequer Contributions Account, so that the money which is left for the ordinary purposes of the Road Fund is limited. The Financial Secretary, on Clause 20 of the Finance Bill, said that he condemned wholeheartedly the policy of borrowing which had commenced with this fund, and, of course, the Supplementary Estimate is brought up because the powers given under the Finance Act to borrow to the extent of £10,000,000 are being repealed under the Finance (No. 2) Bill, which the House has been considering.

The Financial Secretary said that it was as wrong to borrow for this fund as it was to borrow for the purposes of unemployment benefit. I should have thought that there was a distinction between expenditure upon unemployment benefit and expenditure upon this work, which is largely capital in character. The virtue of the Financial Secretary is only skin deep. What he is really doing and what the Government are doing is wringing money out of the taxpayer from current taxes, which they will advance to the Road Fund, and which the Road Fund will have to repay in due course, presumably with interest charged, although that is not made clear in the details. The Supplementary Estimate says that the advances are repayable out of the future income of the Road Fund. What does it mean? It means that in this financial year we are going to raise by taxation an additional £7,000,000 and advance it to the Road Fund, and the Road Fund must pay it back; so that, instead of borrowing in the ordinary way, we are going to lift the money from the taxpayers of the country in the current revenue year, advance it to the Road Fund, and have it paid back if the Road Fund is able to do it. What is that but borrowing under another name and by another process, and that process a little more painful to the taxpayer today, because, by borrowing, we could have spread it over a further number of years so far as the liability of the taxpayer is concerned?

We shall divide against this Motion to indicate our dissatisfaction with the method of finance which has been adopted. I suppose that on this occasion, as on previous occasions, we shall find Liberal Members deliberately voting against a method of financing road works for which they stood at the General Election. In vain have we asked them to state how they defend this action of the Government, which is such a flat and direct contradiction of the virtues of borrowing which they impressed upon the Labour Government time and time again, and on which they fought at the last election. I suppose this little swallow of Liberal principles to-night will be a minor swallow compared with the vast swallowing of political principle which, we understand, the Liberal Ministers have already undertaken in the interests of their seats and in the interests of their offices. Therefore, this relatively minor straining at the gnat to-night is small compared with the bigger swallowing and the bigger straining which are to be imposed upon them by their predominant associates. In the Division which will follow we shall remember that members of the Liberal party, who a few months ago were condemning the Labour Government because they would not borrow £200,000,000 for road and bridge purposes, will now support their Tory masters—and they are their Tory masters—in reversing the decision of the Labour Government not to borrow £200,000,000, and in borrowing the humble sum of £10,000,000. The Division will witness a triumph of the Tories over the Liberals and the humiliation of the Liberals in the presence of their Tory masters, who are going to control them electorally and politically as far as their future is concerned.


When one has to introduce an Estimate which is full of figures, dull and difficult to understand, it is a pleasure to follow one's predecessor, who is determined to embroider his speech with a certain amount of political swan song. The right hon. Gentleman and those who sit with him have taken upon themselves the office of tipsters. Time will show whose swan song it is. In introducing this Supplementary Estimate —I apologise for coming down to such mundane things—we shall gain nothing by referring to the raids which were made on the Road Fund so long ago. I sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman into whose shoes I have stepped—such as they are—and I could wish that we had now the odd millions which have been removed, as I have always been very enthusiastic about road and transport matters, but on that point we might let bygones be bygones.

In introducing this Supplementary Estimate, I should like to clear up a confusion which seems to exist in certain parts of the House between the Supplementary Estimate of £7,000,000 for the current year and the figure of £7,800,000, which has been fixed by the Government as the amount by which Road Fund expenditure is to be reduced in the next financial year. Hon. Members are confusing these two figures. The figure under discussion this evening, £7,000,000, is not cut, it is a Vote, the amount of money which we require to carry on road works. The figure of £7,800,000 is in another category and represents the amount which the Government have fixed as the amount of the reduction in the expenditure in the next financial year.

In Section 36 of the first Finance Act of 1931 powers were taken for the Treasury to advance to the Road Fund a sum not exceeding £9,000,000 during the present financial year, in order to meet the estimated deficit on the fund at the 31st March, 1932. It was the intention that this sum should be borrowed by the Treasury, but as a result of the Government's decision that the Budget must be balanced it follows that the sum required to make up the deficit on the Road Fund for the present financial year must be voted by the House as a Supplementary Estimate instead of being borrowed by the Treasury. The sum originally estimated as being necessary for this purpose was £9,000,000. In the light of the economy in highway expenditure which has now been decided upon it is hoped that a sum of £7,000,000 will suffice, and this is the amount of the Supplementary Estimate for which the Government now ask. I know many hon. Members would like to speak on this Estimate, and in view of the short time that is available I will not occupy any more time.


I can quite understand the right hon. Gentleman being anxious to wind up his speech with such a short explanation for reasons other than that of time, and I should not inflict myself upon the House but for the fact that for two-and-a-quarter years I had the honour of acting as secretary to the all-party Committee of this House, including Liberal Members who helped considerably in that work. I do not want to bring in Conservative Members because I am anxious to make an appeal to Liberal Members and I feel Lat it is no use trying to soften the adamant hearts of Conservative Members. I make no apology for bringing to the notice of the House once again, not the Liberal yellow book, but the book bearing the imprint of the Leader of the Liberal party. I only want to emphasise one line in that famous pledge, which winds up by saying that the plans, already referred to by the ex-Minister of Transport, will not add one penny to national or local taxation. May I drive that point home, for one moment. I would not like to think that the Liberal party, when they got their votes at the last election, did not believe this outrageous promise and pledge. I wish to ask them to vote with us in the Opposition, and against this reactionary proposal by their National friends. They may say that since that pledge, two-and-a-quarter years ago, times hate changed. I believe they have, but they have not changed in this respect, that, if all these grandiose schemes were not to cost a single penny to rates or to taxes, the thing stands to-day as it did then. The National Government, speaking through the mouth of the Home Secretary, the prominent spokesman of the Liberal party, acknowledged last week that these plans would accentuate unemployment. Very well, then, if the plans, as laid down in this book, will not cost the country one penny in rates or taxes, why not proceed with them now to relieve the accentuated unemployment? They say, "But the Budget must be balanced! "What does it matter if the Budget is balanced or not, since the ratepayers and taxpayers will not be charged a single penny? "We must maintain the Gold Standard." What does it matter, since the plans do not affect the rates or taxes. Even if we have slipped off, or been pushed off, the Gold Standard, it is more important, as the right hon. Gentleman, the Home Secretary, said last week, that we should practice economy. I maintain that, since the plans do not affect the rates or the taxes, by a single penny, it does not matter whether we are on the Gold Standard or not. I beg Liberal hon. Members of the National Government—I have no patience to appeal to the Socialist Members—to be true to their consciences. This Liberal book, which I have used to such advantage that I have recently had to rebind it, will, if they vote against the proposals, be a rod that will send them to the bottom of the Bay of Biscay.

A great deal of waste by traffic congestion has been caused by this National Government, which set out to promote economy. In commercial affairs, the waste is spread over a large number of people. It has been computed that in Greater London, at least £25,000,000 is squandered by time and energy through congestion of traffic. Envisage the loss to this country! It is the wrong policy to bring before the House. The number of motor vehicles is now 2,250,000. In some areas, more than 5,000 tons of traffic pass over given places every day. The weight carried on our roads has increased 20 times during the last 10 years. I need not mention the 7,000 killed and 15,000 injured on our roads. That is nothing to a National Government. I pay tribute to the work of the ex-Minister of Transport. He has done his best to make British roads safe for democracy. The hon. Gentleman opposite alluded to his own position as occupying the boots of the ex-Minister—or was it the shoes? I am not sure, because his metaphors were so mixed with embroidery and swan songs that I became a little muddled during his remarks. But he will have to go a long way before he is able to fill the shoes so worthily occupied by his immediate predecessor. I am sure that he himself will be the first to acknowledge it.

A grave misconception, however, existing in various parts of this House is that the roads of Britain have been brought to perfection. While giving credit for all that has been done, any motorist who uses the roads knows that it will be many years, in the case of our second-class roads, before all the thousands of corners, obstructions, and narrow parts can be eliminated and things made satisfactory. Here we have a National Government, more reactionary almost than any Government which has preceded it, taking the step which is here proposed, and being aided and abetted in it by the Liberal party, who were so progressive in September, 1921. I warn the Minister that he, as a member of that Government, in pursuing this policy, is making things extremely difficult for those of us who represent industrial areas. I have been acting as chairman of the County Roads Committee in one of the most progressive counties in this country, although not the largest. It is a county where there is a Labour majority, which speaks for its intelligence. We have been complimented by the Minister of Transport on our zeal. Although our industrial areas are sorely distressed and we have found it difficult to get the shilling rate which was our contribution in relation to the splendid grants approved by the Labour Government, we have been able to do much. We have not, it is true, been able to put in all the work that we would have liked, but as regards our 15,000 unemployed we have kept the wheels turning. Men have come to my house hundreds of times, often before breakfast, begging me to exercise my influence to get them work. Some have sent their wives early in the morning to plead for them. They have shown intense eagerness to get the work and our committees have been able to select just a few here and there for employment on these schemes, but, as I say, that kept the wheels turning. These men carried on while they had any hope of employment, while they had that hope which Springs eternal in the human breast they kept going and we were able to say to them: "Wait a while, your turn will come." Now you are destroying their chance of that turn. You are stopping the wheels. Mark my words—much as I love peace and much as I advocate peace, I come from South Wales, where the material is very inflammable. Our people are religiously minded. A spark will start a flame of revival or a flame of revolution, and this National Government is the greatest ally to Communism that we have had for many years. I beg of the Liberals who are present and of the Minister himself to save us who have these responsibilities from having to deal with this difficult situation. If it does arise, through you and you alone, sitting on those Government benches, the blood will be on your heads.


I wish to obtain from the Minister a, statement of his intentions with regard to the Humber Bridge, but before doing so I wish to congratulate the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Vaughan) on being one of the very few whom I have come across recently who have shown any satisfaction or pleasure with the late Government. I want to ask the Minister whether any of the £7,000,000 which is being asked for now is to be earmarked for commencing the construction of that great work which has been designed across the Humber. The Bill giving authority to construct that bridge was passed without a Division in this House, and it will show a rather lamentable lack of continuity of policy if nothing is done to further that great work now. A very large sum of money has been spent on the project already. When the idea was first brought before the late Minister of Transport, not only did he, to use a colloquialism, jump at the idea, but he offered a very large sum of money to further the scheme.

That Bill not only obtained its Third Reading in this House without a Division, but it was subjected to the most searching criticism in the Private Bill Committee, from which it emerged triumphantly. It was decided on all hands that it was a most necessary work and one upon which the funds obtained by the taxation of road vehicles could well be employed, and it is a great pity that that work should now be held up. I wish to obtain from the Minister a definite statement of his intention in regard to this work, and to ask whether it is intended to carry on with it, or whether facilities will be given for carrying over the legislation which has been passed so that what has been spent on legal expenses should not be thrown away.


I am very pleased to hear the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for North West Hull (Sir A. Lambert Ward), and I shall look with interest to see if it is supplemented by his vote in the Lobby. I doubt very much whether the Minister will be able to give an answer to satisfy any reasonable being that the bridge will be started within a reasonable time. The predecessor of the present Minister of Transport made a generous offer towards the bridge, and his Government endorsed that offer, but it is obvious from the introduction of this Estimate that the scheme, which would cost about £2,000,000, is not now included, and therefore I want to see whether that very eloquent speech in favour of the bridge is going to be supplemented by action. I have no doubt as to how I shall vote and as to what the attitude of my party will be in the matter. The bridge was originally proposed as a mean, of communication between the north and south sides of the Humber. That is obvious. It was undertaken because of the great difficulty of finding employment. I understand that hon. Members opposite have abandoned that idea and think that it is waste of money to undertake work of that description. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman really meant what he said, he will vote with us in the Lobby, and come on our side of the House.


If hon. Gentlemen on either side of the House representing the City of Hull vote against this Estimate, the effect will be that they are voting against money being spent for roads and bridges. A few days ago we had a discussion about this important project and as far as I can gather from the speeches of the last two bon. Members, neither could have been here or have read the OFFICIAL REPORT. On that occasion I said: It is now understood that the promoters, after full consideration, have come to the conclusion not to press forward a request for powers to be granted during the present Session, and they appear to take that view that in present circumstances some postponement of the work is inevitable."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th September, 1931; col. 121, Vol. 257.] The Ministry of Transport has offered no opposition. This decision has been taken by the promoters, and the elo- quence used in advancing the cause of the bridge might well be directed to another quarter.


Surely the hon. Gentleman is unconsciously misleading the House. The dilemma of the promoters is that if this Parliament breaks up this Bill will go. They are seeking a Resolution to continue it in the next Parliament or the next Session at the point at which it has reached. That is a different thing from the promoters withdrawing it.


The point raised by the hon. Gentlemen representing Hull is that the Ministry of Transport has refused to go ahead with the scheme. This is not the case. We are anxious to support promoters in carrying the Bill forward from one Session to another.


Will the hon. Gentleman state whether, if the Corporation

of Hull and their associates are willing to go forward, the Minister will provide his portion of the finances?


That is a purely hypothetical question. We have already stated that in regard to work and expenses incurred with our approval on a scheme which has been suspended, we shall bear our proper proportion of the cost, and that rules in the case of the Humber Bridge.


Whatever the Members for Hull on this side and on that may say, and whatever the Minister and the ex-Minister may say, there are still a lot of people in Lincolnshire who are opposed to this project.

Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

The House divided: Ayes, 189; Noes, 85.

Division No. 517.] AYES. [11.45 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut-Colonel Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxfd,Henley)
Albery, Irving James Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M.S. Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Hudson,Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)
Aske, Sir Robert Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer
Atholl, Duchess of Dairymple White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.
Atkinson, C. Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)
Balfour, Captain H. H. (Lot Thanet) Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Kindersley, Major G. M.
Bainfel, Lord Dawson, Sir Philip Lamb, Sir J. O.
Beaumont, M. W. Denman, Hon. R. D. Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert Llewellin, Major J. J.
Birchall, Major Sir John Oearman Duckworth, G. A. V. Loaker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey
Blindell, James Dudgeon, Major C. R. Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)
Boothby, R. J. G. Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Long, Major Hon. Eric
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Eden, Captain Anthony Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Edmondson, Major A. J. Lymington, viscount
Boyce, Leslie Elliot, Maj or Walter E. McConnell, Sir Joseph
Bracken, B. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s. M.) Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Briscoe, Richard George Falle, Sir Bertram G. Margesson, Captain H. D.
Broadbent, Colonel J. Ferguson, Sir John Markham, S. F.
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y) Fielden, E. B. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd
Buchan, John Foot, Isaac Milne, Wardlaw, J. S.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Ford, Sir P. J. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Ganzoni, Sir John Muirhead, A. J.
Caine, Hall, Derwent George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Nail Cain, A. R. N.
Campbell, E. T. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Castle Stewart, Earl of Gillett, George M. Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Glassey, A. E. Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Glyn, Major R. G. C. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton Gower, Sir Robert Owen, Major Q. (Carnarvon)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn.Sir J. A.(Birm.,W.) Granville, E. Penny, Sir George
Christie, J. A. Greene, W. p. Crawford Perkins, W. R. D.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro W.) Peters, Dr. Sidney John
Cobb. Sir Cyril Gunston, Captain D. W. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H, Power, Sir John Cecil
Cohen, Maj or J. Brunei Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Pybus, Percy John
Colfox, Major William Philip Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Colman, N. C. D. Hanbury, C. Ramtbotham. H.
Cooper, A. Duff Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Rathbone, Eleanor
Courthope, Colonel Sir G, L. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Rawson, Sir Cooper
Cranborne, Viscount Haslam, Henry C. Remer, John R.
Rontoul, Sir Gervals S. Skelton, A. N. Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield Hallam) Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor
Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y) Smith-Carington, Neville W. Ward, Lieut. Col. Sir A. Lambert
Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Smithers, Waldron Warrender, Sir victor
Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell Somerset, Thomas Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Rosbotham, D. S. T. Southby, Commander A. R. J. Wells, Sydney R,
Ross, Ronald D. Stanley, Lord (Fylde) White, H. G.
Salmon, Major I. Stanley, Hon. O (Westmorland) Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South) windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen) Stuart. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Womersley, W. J.
Samuel, Samuel (Wdsworth, Putney) Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Savery, S. S. Thomson, Sir F. Wright, Big.-Gen. W. D. (Tavitt'k)
Scott, James Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington) Todd, Capt. A. J. TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement Major Sir George Hennessy and
Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (Caithness) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon Viscount Elmiey.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Alpass, J. H. Hardie, David (Rutherglen) Owen, H. F. (Hereford)
Amman, Charles George Haycock, A. W. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Arnott, John Hayes, John Henry Potts, John S.
Ayles, Walter Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Price, M. P.
Barr, James Herriotts, J. Quibell, D. J. K
Batey, Joseph Isaacs, George Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Bennett, William (Battersea, south) Jenkins, Sir William Ritson, J.
Benson, G. Kelly, W. T. Romeril, H. G.
Bowen, J. W. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Sanders, W. S.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Kinley, J. Sawyer, G. F,
Broad, Francis Alfred Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Shield, George William
Brockway, A. Fenner Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Shillaker, J. F.
Brooke, W. Longbottom, A. W. Simmons, C. J.
Buchanan, G. Longden, F. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Cape, Thomas McElwee, A, Stephen, Campbell
Cocks, Frederick Seymour McEntee, V. L. Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Daggar, George MacNeill-Weir, L. Strauss, G. R.
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Mcshane, John James Thurtle, Ernest
Dukes, C. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thamyten) Toole, Joseph
Duncan, Charles Mansfield, W. Vaughan, David
Dunnico, H. Marcus, M. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Ede, James Chuter Marley, J. Wellock, W Hired
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Mathers, George Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Freeman, Peter Maxton, James Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Messer, Fred Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Gossling, A. G. Morley, Ralph Young, Sir R. (Lancaster, Newton)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)
G rented, D. R. (Glamorgan) Noel Baker, P. J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Mr. B. Smith and Mr. Charleton.

Resolution agreed to.

Back to