HC Deb 06 April 1932 vol 264 cc149-53

Order for consideration, as amended, read.


I beg to move, "That the Bill be re-committed to a Committee of the Whole House."

This step is being taken because we discovered during the Committee stage that, according to the Rulings of the Chair, many new Clauses we desired to move were regarded as being outside the scope of the Measure. It appears that the only possible way of bringing those new Clauses forward is to secure the re-committal of the Bill with an Instruction to the Committee to deal with such points as have been omitted. This Bill is intended to provide considerable financial guarantees, which may amount to £6,000,000, and to extend the area under wheat from 1,250,000 acres to 1,800,000 acres. The Government are, therefore, doing something very tangible for wheat growers. That may be the wisest course to pursue, though we beg leave to doubt it, but as the Government have made up their minds to do so much for wheat growers we think they ought to agree to set up a committee to watch the movements of flour and bread prices during the next year or two. Such a procedure would be the only guarantee producers would have that they would not be exploited even beyond the exaction of the £6,000,000. A committee ought to be set up to watch flour and bread prices and the Board of Trade be empowered to take action to safeguard the consumers of bread and flour. We feel, further, that as the farmers are to get £6,000,000 without any safeguards either as regards methods of cultivation or distribution the workers in the industry are entitled to an assurance that they shall have some share of the benefit in their wages. Further, we think there is no real necessity, as the Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) said in Committee, that the guaranteed price of 45s. a quarter should be increased before guarantees in other forms are demanded.

Another point is that we ought to be doubly safeguarded against the landowners taking advantage of the wheat subsidy. It may be argued that there is no real reason to fear that they will do so, but I am one of those who think that the tempter is always the bigger criminal, and we ought not to tempt even landowners. If it is the farmer who is really down and out, he is the one person we ought to assist. We want to protect the farmer against increased rents or other impositions by landowners, and we ask that instructions may be given to the committee to take steps to safeguard the nation against any part of this £6,000,000 going into the pockets of the landowners, who are rendering no service to the general community. A fourth reason why we are asking for the recommital of the Bill is that if events should prove that certain farmers are making excessive profits out of it the Government ought to re-examine the whole position. The hon. and gallant Member for the Maldon Division (Colonel Ruggles-Brise) smiles at the suggestion, but if the figures of the Oxford Statistical Department can be relied upon a guarantee of only 4s. a quarter is required at the moment to make wheat growing a paying proposition, whereas under this Bill we are guaranteeing £1 a, quarter. That being so it is not at all unlikely that excessive profits will be obtained in certain parts of the wheat-growing areas. If our fears are not well founded there will be no need for the Government to act.

As the poorest of the poor will be the biggest contributors to this pool of £6,000,000, at least they are entitled to know that they are not to be unduly exploited by people making excessive profits. Finally, I repeat that as the Government are providing a shelter for the farmer and treating him very generously indeed, they ought to be equally generous to the consumer, and we ask that the prices of flour and bread, wages of agricultural employés, rents and excessive profits may all be made the subject of instructions to the Committee.

The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Sir John Gilmour)

I confess that I was a little surprised when I saw this Motion on the Paper this morning. I think the House will realise that the Government have taken special care to give to the Opposition in this House every possible facility for the discussion of the Bill. It is true that under a previous Measure dealing with import duties, in order to secure the necessary rapidity to deal with forestalling, the Guillotine was used, but in this case we have deliberately abstained from using the Guillotine. Further, may I remind the House that on no single occasion during the discussions in the Committee stage was the closure moved. The Government recognise that the Opposition is small in numbers, and it has not been the desire of the Government at any time to deny to them their proper right of opposition. I am one of those who fully recognise the value of criticism; indeed, I am grateful to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite for the temper and the tone in which they have received this Bill. On this occasion, I wish to say that this Motion is entirely uncalled for.


My hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. Williams) has moved this Motion not because we are complaining that we have not had opportunities to move Amendments, but because we desire to discuss matters which cannot be discussed unless our Motion is adopted.


I understand that this Motion has been moved in order to enforce specific points. One point is the appointment of a flour and bread prices committee. The second point is to make better provision in regard to the wages of persons employed in agriculture. The third is to secure provisions for the regulation of rent of agricultural holdings and the profits of registered growers. May I point out that there is in existence at the present time a Food Council, and that council is, in fact, inquiring into the prices of flour and the cost and profits of baking in London. A Bill was introduced by the Labour Government called the Consumers' Council Bill which never reached the Report stage. Clearly, the machinery exists to-day to inquire into these problems, and in fact that is what is being done. Therefore, the necessity

Division No. 136.] AYES. [3.28 p.m.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Cripps, Sir Stafford Grithffis, T. (.Monmouth, Pontypool)
Attlee, Clement Richard Daggar, George Groves, Thomas E.
Batey, Joseph Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Grundy, Thomas W.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Duncan. Charles (Derby, Clay cross) Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Buchanan, George Edwards, Charles Hicks, Ernest George
Cape, Thomas George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Hirst, George Henry
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Holdsworth, Herbert

for further inquiries does not really arise. The question of agricultural wages was debated in this House and in Committee, and it is clear that you could not, in justice and fairness to the agricultural labourer, try to deal with that problem in one close section. I suggest that those who are taking an interest in the problem, and who desire to see what we hope will be greater prosperity for the agricultural industry, will see that the labourer gets his fair and proper share. I suggest to those interested in this matter that that can be properly done under the machinery of the wages boards which exist at the present time. It is essential that that should be done through the existing machinery, because only then can the interests of the agricultural labourers as a whole be properly safeguarded. With reference to the question of rent, we have in existence the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1923, which gives protection to the tenant against any arbitrary raising of rent. When you are giving protection to the labourer, with a possibility of increasing his remuneration, is it conceivable that you can deny to the owner the right of protection against arbitrary treatment, and the right to have a fair and reasonable return for enhanced prosperity? Another point which has been raised is the suggestion that there is to be undue profit made by certain farmers in certain areas arising out of this legislation. There are numerous safeguards against that possibility in the Bill. There is to be a revision at the end of three years, and there is a limit of 6,000,000 quarters. For the whole of those points which have been raised by the Opposition there is a sufficient check in the Bill, and there is no necessity for the Motion which has been moved and which, as far as the Government are concerned, must be resisted.

Question put, "That the Bill be recommitted to a Committee of the Whole House."

The House divided: Ayes, 54; Noes, 221.

Jenkins, Sir William McGovern, John Thorne, William James
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Tinker, John Joseph
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Malialieu, Edward Lancelot Wallhead, Richard C.
Kirkwood, David Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.) Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Maxton, James Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Lawson, John James Owen, Major Goronwy Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Leonard, William Parkinson, John Allen Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Logan, David Gilbert Pickering, Ernest H. Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Lunn, William Price, Gabriel
Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Roberts, Aled (Wrexham) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
McEntee, Valentine L. Salter, Dr. Alfred Mr. Duncan Graham and Mr. John.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Fuller, Captain A. G. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Ganzoni, Sir John Milne, Charles
Allen, Lt.-Col. J, Sandeman (B'k'nh'd) Gillett, Sir George Masterman Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Gledhill, Gilbert Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale
Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J. Gluckstein, Louis Halle Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)
Balniel, Lord Goff, Sir Park Muirhead, Major A. J.
Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey Gower, Sir Robert Munro, Patrick
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B.(Portsm'th, C.) Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)
Bern, Sir Arthur Shirley Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) North, Captain Edward T.
Bernays, Robert Grimston, R. V. Nunn, William
Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. O'Connor, Terence James
Blindell, James Guy, J. C. Morrison Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.
Borodale, Viscount Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Patrick, Colin M.
Bossom, A. C. Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Peake, Captain Osbert
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon) Pearson, William G.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Peat, Charles U.
Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald Hamilton, Sir R.W.(Orkney & Z'tl'nd) Penny, Sir George
Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Hanbury, Cecil Petherick, M.
Broadbent, Colonel John Hanley, Dennis A. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Harris, Sir Percy Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bilst'n)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks., Newb'y) Hartington, Marquess of Pownall, Sir Assheton
Browne, Captain A. C. Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Procter, Major Henry Adam
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Purbrick, R.
Burghley, Lord Hornby, Frank Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)
Burnett, John George Horsbrugh, Florence Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Howard, Tom Forrest Ramsbotham, Herwaid
Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)
Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley) Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Held, William Allan (Derby)
Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg) Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Hurd, Percy A. Robinson, John Roland
Castle Stewart, Earl Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Rosbotham, S. T.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Ross, Ronald D.
Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City) Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan) Rothschild, James A. de
Chalmers, John Rutherford Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Ruggies-Brise, Colonel E. A.
Chotzner, Alfred James Kerr, Hamilton W. Runge, Norah Cecil
Clarke, Frank Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Clarry, Reginald George Knebworth, Viscount Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)
Clayton Dr. George C. Knight, Holford Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Cobb, Sir Cyril Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Colville, John Law, Sir Alfred Sandeman, Sir A N. Stewart
Conant, R. J. E. Leckle, J. A. Savery, Samuel Servington
Cooper, A. Duff Leech, Dr. J. W. Scone, Lord
Courthope, Colonel Sir George L. Lees-Jones, John Selley, Harry R.
Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Leighton, Major B. E. P. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Cranborne, viscount Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Crooke, J. Smedley Levy, Thomas Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Crossley, A. C. Liddall, Walter S. Simmonds, Oliver Edwin
Culverwell, Cyril Tom Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Davison, Sir William Henry Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G.(Wd, Gr'n) Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Dawson, Sir Philip Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.) Somervell, Donald Bradley
Denville, Alfred Loder, Captain J. de Vere Soper, Richard
Doran, Edward Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Drewe, Cedric Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)
Duggan, Hubert John Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Stones, James
Eady, George H. McKie, John Hamilton Storey, Samuel
Eden, Robert Anthony Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton Strauss, Edward A.
Edge, Sir William McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston) Strickland, Captain W. F.
Ednam, viscount Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E. Macquisten, Frederick Alexander Tate, Mavis Constance
Elliston, Captain George Sampson Magnay, Thomas Templeton, William P.
Emmott, Charles E. G. C. Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Essenhlgh, Reginald Clare Margesson, Capt. Henry David R. Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Fermoy, Lord Marsden, Commander Arthur Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Fleiden, Edward Brocklehurst Martin, Thomas B. Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Fox, Sir Gilford Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Todd. A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Fraser, Captain Ian Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.) Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull) Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.) Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock) Womersley, Walter James TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Watt, Captain George Steven H. Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff) Major George Davies and Lord
Whiteside, Borras Noel H. Worthington, Dr. John V. Erskine.

Bill, as amended, considered.

  1. NEW CLAUSE.—(Service of documents and power to require statutory declarations.) 234 words
  2. cc153-99
  3. CLAUSE 1.—(Provisions for securing to growers of millable wheat a standard price and a market therefor.) 18,231 words, 4 divisions
  4. cc199-213
  5. CLAUSE 2.—(Determination of "ascertained average price," "standard price," and "anticipated supply" of home-grown millable wheat.) 5,910 words, 3 divisions
  6. cc213-23
  7. CLAUSE 3.—(Quota payments by millers and importers.) 4,717 words, 2 divisions
  8. cc224-30
  9. CLAUSE 4.—(By-lairs of the Wheat Commission.) 2,208 words
  10. cc230-43
  11. CLAUSE 5.—(Provisions for securing payment of quota payments in respect of imported flour, and pre-entry of export flour.) 5,682 words, 2 divisions
  12. cc243-9
  13. CLAUSE 7.—(Adjustment of surpluses and deficiencies in Wheat Fund.) 2,979 words, 2 divisions
  14. cc249-71
  15. CLAUSE 8.—(Provisions as to Millers' Quota Fund.) 9,448 words, 4 divisions
  16. cc272-5
  17. CLAUSE 10.—(Power of Wheat Commission to obtain information.) 1,471 words
  18. cc275-8
  19. CLAUSE 11.—(Regulations to be made by Minister.) 1,100 words