Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £18,010,000, 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, 1933, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Ministry of Labour and Subordinate Departments, including sums payable by the Exchequer to the Unemployment Fund, Grants to Associations, Local Authorities and others under the Unemployment Insurance, Labour Exchanges and other Acts; Expenses of the industrial Court; Contribution towards the Expenses of the International Labour Organisation (League of Nations); Expenses of Training and Removal of Workers and their Dependants; Grants for assisting the voluntary provision of occupation for unemployed persons; and sundry services, in-chiding services arising out of the War.
§ Mr. LAWSON
Before the Minister of Labour proceeds to open the Debate, may I ask for your Ruling, Sir Dennis, as to the scope of the Debate? On the Supplementary Estimates, we sometimes find that the Debate is very narrow, but as this is a very large sum, £18,000,000, it would seem desirable that there should be a very wide Debate. May I also point out that within the experience of the House for the last two or three years there have been on such occasions almost full-dress Debates, particularly when large sums have been asked for? May I ask for your guidance?
§ 3.55 p.m.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It is a well-established rule of procedure in this House on Supplementary Estimates that the discussion is strictly confined to the purposes for which the Supplementary Estimate is required, but there is some slight exception and elasticity about that rule where the sum is very large in proportion to the original Estimate. In this case, Subheads F. 2 and F. 3, which really work together as one for the purpose of the Debate, result in a very large increase 770 upon the original Estimate. Therefore, so far as those are concerned, I propose to allow practically as wide a Debate as could take place under those particular headings on the Vote for the original Estimate. Hon. Members will, of course, recollect that they cannot discuss matters requiring legislation, that they cannot discuss matters which would come under another Minister's Vote, and that they cannot discuss matters which would come under some other heading of the Ministry of Labour Vote. There is a third heading M.M. which is for a new Service entirely. That will be open to discussion in the ordinary way as a new Service, within the limits of the particular circumstances for which the Vote is asked.
§ Mr. THORNE
In regard to paragraph 1, on page 6, a number of subjects are mentioned. Am I to understand that we are not entitled to discuss any of the headings of that particular paragraph?
§ The CHAIRMAN
Those headings are the headings of the entire Vote. The Debate cannot be spread over those headings. It must be limited to the particular subhead under which a Supplementary Estimate for these moneys is required.
§ Mr. THORNE
Paragraph 1 refers to money that is to be granted to the International Labour Office. If so, surely we are entitled to go into that matter.
§ The CHAIRMAN
No. The hon. Member is mistaken. It is a Supplementary Estimate for the amount required by the Ministry of Labour. The matters mentioned in paragraph 1 at the top cover the whole of the Estimates of the Ministry of Labour. Those Estimates have been dealt with already. This is only a Supplementary Estimate because the amount of the original Vote was not sufficient. The Debate on this Supplementary Estimate must be confined to the particular matter which has made the Supplementary Estimate necessary.
§ Mr. LAWSON
May I thank you for your Ruling in the matter. We realise that we cannot discuss matters affecting legislation. There is, however, one point on which I should like your guidance. Recently we had a Debate lasting three days in which all the parties pooled their ideas on the question of unemployment. Would it be possible under your Ruling to ask for an explanation from the 771 Government as to what they propose to do about those proposals and what decision they have arrived at?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member was good enough to intimate to me a moment or two ago that I might be asked for information on that point. I have taken the opportunity, as far as I could, of refreshing my memory in regard to that Debate, and I think it is quite clear that, speaking generally, the whole of the various proposals made during that Debate were proposals which could not possibly be discussed on this particular Supplementary Estimate because legislation would be required.
§ Mr. T. GRIFFITHS
You have stated that we cannot discuss matters requiring legislation. There are some industries, the iron and steel industry and the tinplate industry, for instance, that are ready to adopt the six-hour day. I know that that would require the intervention of the Minister with the Whitley Council in regard to proposals for getting the unemployment benefit that is now paid to workmen, if they are to work four instead of three shifts. I want to make certain what proposals the Minister is prepared to take into consideration. I recognise that this matter would require legislation, but I hope that there may be an opportunity of bringing it before the Minister.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member has definitely ruled himself out by saying that it will require legislation.
§ 4.1 p.m.
§ The MINISTER of LABOUR (Sir Henry Betterton)
As you, Sir Dennis, have pointed out, this Estimate is for a very large sum, £18,010,000, and you have been good enough to intimate the scope within which this Debate must be confined. I need hardly say that I will do my best to adhere strictly to your ruling. The three items which make up this large sum of £18,010,000 are, first of all, an additional sum of £12,600,000, which is required for transitional payments; secondly, a sum of £6,400,000, which is required to make up the Deficiency Grant to the Unemployment Fund; and, thirdly, a small, but, I think the Committee will agree by the time this discussion is ended, an extremely interesting sum of £10,000, which is to be devoted to grants for 772 assisting the voluntary provision of occupation for unemployed persons. Then, at the end of the White Paper it will be seen that there is a set-off of £1,000,000, which goes in remission of the larger sum which would otherwise be required. I will deal quite shortly with these various items in that order.
The original Estimate for transitional payments was the sum of £41,750,000. That with the additional sum now required makes up the sum of £54,350,000. The Committee will, of course, ask at once, and be entitled to ask, and I am forced to give an answer, why this large addition sum is now asked? The answer is a. perfectly simple one. We estimated, perhaps too optimistically if you like, on an average live register of something between 2,400,000 and 2,500,000 persons in the present financial year, and we estimated that of that number something like 800,090 would be in receipt of transitional payments. The average live register for the eight months from April last to November exceeded the figure, and, in fact averaged something like 2,777,000. As a consequence, the number of 800,000 which we had estimated as the figure of those likely to be in receipt of transitional payments on the average, reached in fact a number of over 950,000.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Does that figure include those in transitional benefit, but who are not actually receiving transitional payment? Does it include those who have been turned down?
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
The actual number receiving payment. The result of the higher live register has been two-fold. More persons, as a result, have remained in the transitional class, and more have dropped out of benefit and claimed transitional payments. The second large item of £6,400,000 is the item under the head of Deficiency Grant. The original Estimate for the Deficiency Grant was £3,100,000, and the total now required is £9,500,000. The Committee will remember that the Deficiency Grant is the amount which is necessary to balance the Insurance Fund itself, and it is the difference between the amount paid out for insurance benefit, administration, and the amount of the interest on the debt on the one hand, and the amount received in contributions on the other hand, that is, of course, the contributions received from the three 773 parties to the tri-partite agreement—the employers, the employed and the Exchequer. These two sums of £12,600,000 and £6,400,000 to which I have referred make up a sum of £19,000,000, but, as I stated a moment ago, there is a set-off of £1,000,000, and the reason why there is this set-off is because unemployment has been greater than we anticipated, and, therefore, the amount paid in contributions by the State has been less than we thought and indeed hoped, that it would be.
The Committee will, of course, remember that the amount of contribution by the State is one-half of the joint contributions of the employers and employed. It was estimated that the joint contributions of the employers and employed would be £40,300,000, and that the contribution of the State, therefore, would be £20,150,000, but it is now estimated that, owing to the fact that unemployment is more than we hoped it would be, the joint contribution will not be £40,300,000 but £38,300,000, or £2,000,000 less. It follows, therefore, that the amount of contribution by the State will be £1,000,000 less than was estimated, and that explains the £1,000,000 to which I have referred as a set-off. That leaves, of course, the very formidable figure of £18,000,000, and the reason why we have to find this Supplementary Estimate is perfectly simple. It is beyond question that the progressive deterioration of world conditions which we hoped would be arrested, and of which we saw signs of being arrested at the time the Estimates were made, has gone on, and the improvement has not materialised. How serious that deterioration in world conditions has been I will show in a moment. That we could entirely escape the influence of it was, of course, impossible, and that we should, to some extent, come in for the backwash was quite inevitable. On the other hand, that we as a country have escaped its worst effects is equally undeniable, and I say, without any hesitation, that this result has been due to our own efforts and to our own sacrifices. For this, both the country and the Government are entitled to take the fullest credit.
The second reason why this large sum is required is because we have definitely and deliberately abandoned the policy of borrowing. There is not the least doubt, 774 I think, and it will probably be agreed in all quarters of the Committee, that one of the reasons for the crisis with which we were confronted 15 months ago was the fact that it had become obvious that we had for years past been spending out of revenue something that was really capital, and, under the guise of borrowing, we had obscured the position in which we were. I will first give a rather interesting illustration of the statement I have just made. On the figures I have before me, I find that, prior to the year 1929–30, that is, only two or three years ago, the total charge on the Exchequer was something like £12,000,000 a year. On this Estimate, combined with the main Estimate, the charge this year will be £83,000,000. During that period, it is true, the live register has increased to rather more than double, but it has not increased to anything like the extent as would be suggested by the difference between £12,000,000 and £83,000,000. Whereas the contribution of the employers and employed persons has been increased by one-third, borrowing has been stopped, and the Exchequer has, of course, been called upon to bear the whole cost of the transitional payments. When we are sometimes told that the charge for unemployment should be a national charge, I think it is too often forgotten how vast is the proportion of the cost of unemployment which is, in fact, at this moment being borne nationally, and by the national Exchequer.
I have said how serious has been the deterioration in world conditions which has taken place since these Estimates were prepared, because, as everybody knows, Estimates are always, and must always be, prepared some time before they are presented. Taking the figures in this country alone—and I would like to make a present of the 170,000 with which I shall be confronted in a moment —if you take the actual live register, that is, the last figure, and compare it with what it was near its peak at some date in September, 1931, the live register in this country shows a slight drop. I make no point of the fact that it is a slight drop, any more than I would make any point of the fact had there been a slight rise, because when you are dealing with figures of this magnitude, it really means nothing if there is rather less or rather more in any given month. But what I do say is that these figures show that, on 775 the whole, we are holding our own, and things are not worse.
If you consider the position in Germany, and compare the figures with the corresponding figures in this country, you will find that the figures of unemployment—and they are kept very accurately in Germany—have increased by about 1,000,000. In the United States of America, where the figures are not kept so accurately and carefully as far as I know, and where we must rely upon estimates which may or may not be correct, it is estimated that at the present time there are in the United States about 10,000,000 persons unemployed, whilst the index of employment, which is perhaps a more dependable criterion, has gone down from 70.9 to 59.9, taking the figure of 100 for the year 1926. If you take another test you will find that the value of the exports of this country, in the last 11 months, compared with the same period last year, has gone down by 6.9 per cent., in the United States by 35.7 per cent., in Germany by 41.1 per cent., in France by 37.3 per cent. and in Italy by 33.3 per cent. If you look at the volume of exports from this country during the first nine months of 1932 you will find that they are slightly greater than they were for the corresponding period of 1931. What is very relevant to this Estimate is that this country has held its own while there has been a progressive and serious deterioration in every other country in the world; I am not talking of our own Dominions, but of the countries of Europe and America.
The second reason why we want this large sum is, of course, that we have abandoned borrowing. If we had gone on borrowing on the conditions as they were about 18 months ago instead of taking this £9,500,000 out of revenue we should by this time have borrowed another£67,000,000, and the debt at this moment would have been the prodigious total of £182,000,000. The Committee will see what would have been the result if we had not faced the financial realities of the situation last year and done our best to meet current expenditure out of revenue. In spite of the necessity for this Estimate we have, as compared with September, 1931, made savings in outgoings of something like £30,000,000 a year. It will be 776 remembered that at the time when we finally stopped borrowing we were borrowing at about the rate of £1,000,000 a week. If I may summarise what I have endeavoured to put before the Committee I would say that this large sum is necessary because unemployment has not gone down, as we hoped it would. In view of the experience of the rest of the world we are entitled to find legitimate satisfaction in the fact that we alone amongst the nations of the world are maintaining our position in face of the most formidable economic situation with which this country has ever been confronted. I want to say one word on the last item in the Estimates.
§ Mr. LOGAN
Before the Minister of Labour leaves that point may I ask for an explanation with regard to the grants to the Unemployment Fund for transitional payments and the relative cost of administration, which is put at £12,600,000 additional I should imagine that any further costs of administration have been provided for, and I want to know whether this £12,000,000 is an additional Estimate or is it included in the costs of the administration and, if so, what part of the Estimate of £54,000,000 is for unemployment grants and what proportion is for administration expenses?
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
I think it will he more convenient if detailed questions like that put by the hon. Member were answered by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary at the end of the Debate. The last item in the Estimate is for £10,000, and I imagine that it is an item about which there will be no dispute in any part of the Committee. It has been obvious to everyone for some time that there has been a most remarkable growth throughout the country during the last few months of a desire to assist unemployed people, a desire, a growing desire, to find them some occupation which will preserve their morale and possibly contribute something to their own well-being. On this point I agree with every word written by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in a foreword to a pamphlet entitled "Unemployment and Opportunity," published by the National Council of Social Service. This is what the right hon. Gentleman wrote:I am glad to write this foreword of appreciation of the human effort being made 777 by men and women of all parties, creeds and churches, on behalf of the victims of the cruel, pitiless unemployment which curses our land.Later on the right hon. Gentleman says— and I want to emphasise the point—There is no competition with ordinary employment. The mending of clothes and boots is done for themselves and would go undone but for the organised effort to provide the opportunity. Neither is there any question of sending out partially trained men to undercut trained men in the labour market.I entirely agree with those statements. The right hon. Gentleman was a little suspicious the other day that in some way we proposed to ride off from our responsibilities under the cloak of this movement. Nothing is further from my desires or intentions. Nothing will persuade me to attempt to make any kind of political capital out of what we are doing, and nothing will persuade me to attempt to avoid our responsibilities in other directions. I say that quite frankly because the right hon. Gentleman raised the point the other day, and I want to make it as clear as I can that as far as I am concerned there is no intention of using this for political purposes, or for attempting to avoid our responsibilities. But it has been made clear to us that the various attempts which are being made would be greatly increased in value if they could get some guidance from some central body. We were anxious to do all we could to encourage this movement, and at the same time preserve its essential voluntary character. We wanted to find some central body which would collect and distribute information, which would stimulate and guide these voluntary efforts on behalf of the unemployed. The Committee will realise that where you have these large number of efforts being made all over the country the same mistakes might be avoided if there was a central organisation to give guidance to them. Therefore, we had to consider, if this was a useful plan, and I think it is, what we ought to do.
There were two alternatives before the Government. One was to set up an ad hoc Committee for the purpose, and, the other, to make use of some existing organisation. After the most careful and anxious consideration I came to the conclusion that it was better to utilise an existing voluntary organisation, because if we set up an ad hoc committee for 778 the purpose it would be said at once that it was merely the creature and agent of the Government, and we might go far to lose that voluntary spirit which we all want to encourage. Therefore I have asked, and I am glad to say they have accepted, the National Council of Social Service to undertake this work. I am satisfied that they do fulfil the requirements which are necessary, and for this purpose they will be the central national body. The National Council do not regard it as part of their functions to initiate schemes of work or occupation. They are there to help localities in setting schemes on foot and, therefore, it is clear that they will need a staff to help them in this work. As they are doing this at the suggestion of the Government it is only fair that we should contribute to the cost, and that is the explanation of the sum of £10,000. Let me emphasise what was emphasised by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in the pamphlet, that the workshops which these men are starting, and which may be started in future, are valuable as a means of occupation, and should be encouraged, but those who run them should be careful to see that they do not compete with ordinary trade activities. The sale of any articles manufactured under these conditions which interfere with regular employment may arouse apprehensions in quarters which in themselves are not in the least hostile to the efforts of unemployed men to find some employment.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Is it the intention of the Government, by regulation or decree or in any way, to make that a condition of receiving either transitional benefit or standard benefit, that is to say, is serving on any of these jobs under these schemes to become in any way a condition for receipt of unemployment benefit?
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
I am glad to say that the answer to that question quite definitely is in the negative.
§ Mr. DAVID MASON
With regard to the sum of £10,000 mentioned, what exactly are the duties to be performed for expediting these schemes?
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
I can deal with that question at some length if the Committee are interested. The object of this grant is to enable the National Council 779 of Social Service to assist these people to help themselves in the various schemes that have already been started. They may assist in several ways. The sending down of a representative might go a long way to help particular localities to avoid mistakes that have been made by other localities. It may enable those in a locality to start a scheme which otherwise would not be started at all. I can give the hon. Gentleman three or four examples of the schemes which have been started. In some places there have been established clubs, with recreation rooms, where unemployed men and women can meet and play games and so forth. In other places, and sometimes in the same place, there are small workshops started, where men can repair their own or their families' boots or clothes or furniture, and can make small objects in wood or metal for their own or others' use. In other places the form which the activity has taken has been the laying out of playing-fields or recreation-grounds. In other places there are schemes for conducting physical training classes, and for the organisation of games and sports. Associated with this effort and affiliated to it is the scheme for the encouragement of allotments, which is so honourably associated with the Society of Friends. These are examples of the sort of thing that is going on all over the country, and the sort of thing we want to help in every possible way.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
Yes, that is so. I hope I have explained why this very large sum of over £18,000,000 is asked for. It is obvious that until the causes which make for universal economic disturbance and consequently world-wide depression, are removed, there must be a continued terrific strain on the financial 780 resources of this country; but in spite of all the criticism made upon it, I believe that our system of insurance has proved of real strength to this country at this time, and has enabled us to alleviate the lot of the unemployed in a manner which would not have been found possible without it, and has not been found possible in any other country.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100. In spite of the right hon. Gentleman's extremely disarming manner I think that on this occasion even those behind him must feel that this is a very bitter pill for them to take, as it certainly is for the Committee as a whole. In view of the earlier statements that were made, and the prophecies based upon figures which were given by the right hon. Gentleman and supported with exhilaration in the earlier days of this Government, one would naturally have expected that we were rid of this kind of thing. The right hon. gentleman has informed the House that we have done away with borrowing. Yes, but he is going to the Treasury and saying, "Give me £18,000,000." He has informed the House that the figure upon which his original estimate was based was 2,400,000 unemployed monthly, but the actual average has been over 2,700,000. That is the total of those receiving payment.
§ Mr. LAWSON
We take it just as the Register. This figure is a 370,000 average above the Government's own estimate. It shows that at any rate things have not gone exactly as the Government anticipated or in accordance with their claims in the early days of office. The saddest thing of all is that the figures month by month are worsening, not merely in the general average on the Register, but in an alarming way in the permanent unemployment section. Month by month the figures of the permanently unemployed go up. The worst feature of all has appeared only this month. The numbers of these men, what are known as the standing army, are increasing by leaps and bounds. Until 1931 we were in a position to say—I was in a position to say at Geneva on behalf of the then Government and I think the 781 right hon. Gentleman's own colleague said—"It is true that there are 2,000,000 unemployed, or 2,500,000 unemployed, but it is also true that they are a continually changing element and there are never more than about 100,000 who have been unemployed for 12 months or more." That was true until 1931. The last analysis that was made in that year showed that the number who had been unemployed for 12 months or more was 120,000. Only a week ago the Parliamentary Secretary informed this House that the total of 120,000 had leaped up to 480,000, men and boys mainly, who had been unemployed for 12 months and more.
That is the most menacing fact that has appeared since this terrible unemployment problem appeared in this country. It is a fact that requires very close consideration to-day. Those of us who live in the areas of the heavy and basic industries know that the bulk of that increase in the standing army of unemployed is in those areas. In face of that fact the Government and the Rouse ought to be considering much graver and more drastic remedies than merely giving £10,000 to the National Council of Social Service. I agree with all that the right hon. Gentleman has said about the estimable work that many of these people are doing. I have seen some of the work that has been done by such organisations as the Friends in different parts of the country, and, as has been said, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has written a foreword to a pamphlet on the subject. We certainly did give our warmest support to the work that these organisations did. But we warn the Government that if the Government think they are going to shove their responsibilities for remedial work on to these voluntary bodies, the Government will have our hostility.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I heard what the right hon. Gentleman said, and I have something else to say on that point. directly these voluntary bodies may be in danger of being involved in a backwash if there is a tendency on the part of the right hon. Gentleman and the Government to shove their problems on to these voluntary bodies. We are not 782 the only people who suspect the danger of the Government pushing their problems on to voluntary bodies. The Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance even in the Majority Report showed much concern on this question of voluntary bodies, for they state on page 336:For all classes of workers and especially for the younger, we think that something may be hoped for from the co-operation of voluntary societies…but the situation is too serious to permit of reliance upon voluntary effort alone. We think it is most strongly desirable that, in relation especially to young persons up to say 21 or even 25 years of age, the Minister of Labour should be under a statutory obligation, either independently or in co-operation with local authorities, to provide suitable courses of instruction such as now obtain in relation to applicants under 18 years of age.They go on to say that they think the Minister ought to co-operate actively with education authorities throughout the country for that purpose. I think it is also relevant to the subject under discussion to refer to what the Commission say about allotments. I think the Government made a very grave mistake there and the Royal Commission say that the Government made a mistake. Not only have they made a mistake in regard to the allotments themselves but they have made a far greater mistake in not following up that method of dealing with the problem once they had got some little amount towards doing so. The Royal. Commission say:In 1931 the Ministry of Agriculture by a net expenditure of about £26,000 including administrative costs were able to aid about 64,000 unemployed, or partly employed allotment holders in England and Wales to obtain seeds, tools and fertilizers. The grant allocated for 1931–2 was withdrawn as a measure of economy"—I ask the Committee to note this passage in the report—The Society of Friends, however, stepped into the breach, raised voluntary subscriptions and by a net expenditure of about £18,000…were able to aid about 62,500 men. This admirable service retrieved the situation created by what we are bound to regard as a shortsighted and unfortunate retreat by the central Government.They go on to say:We are informed that there is a large potential unsatisfied demand, checked in many areas by lack of land.They express the strong opinion that, not voluntary bodies, but the Government ought to be responsible for the development of the allotment side. I should say 783 that one of the most serious mistakes made by the Government when they began their economy campaign was to take away that nominal sum. When they did so they not only took from some thousands of men the opportunities of getting seeds and other requisites but they stopped what promised to be a great movement at its outset and damped the enthusiasm for it at the very beginning.
The biggest factor, however, which we have to consider in this Estimate is the additional £12,500,000 for transitional payments. The standing army of unemployed of which I have spoken, numbering some 500,000, are people who have been out of work for 12 months and more. To it I understand from the right hon. Gentleman we have to add something like another 500,000 in order to get the total number of those receiving transitional payments. The Government first took from these people 10 per cent. of their benefit which amounted to £12,500,000. Then, calculating on saving another £10,000,000 or £22,500,000 in all, they submitted these people to the inquiry into means or what is known as the means test. The Government of course from the very outset of the administration of transitional payments professed that they wanted to deal with these people generously and justly, but we saw at one stage what the country felt about that administration. Masses of people felt not merely that the administration of the means test was imposing great hardships but that its fundamental principle was wrong.
Whether it be right or wrong, great masses of the public held that view and many who held that view were in no way connected with the advanced movement and could not be said to be associated with the Labour or Socialist movement. They were sometimes people of very moderate views; people in the churches and people belonging to all sections of society. In some cases they were people who were very remote from the actual lives of those who are subjected to the means test, but throughout the length and breadth of the land these people gravitated together to make their protest against the means test. It is true that for the moment there is a kind of silence but I warn the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee against taking that as an indication of the spirit which prevails 784 among the people or of the attitude which is taken throughout the country towards the operation of the means test.
The real view of the Government I suggest was indicated in their suppression of the public assistance committees in one area where I think the right hon. Gentleman will admit—although he differed from two or three of the local committees on a matter of interpretation—the administration, at least, was efficient. That was in the county of Durham. Generally, all over that county, I think the administration was efficient and I certainly never heard it challenged. The most that the right hon. Gentleman himself has done in the House of Commons, or I understand in his meetings with representatives of the Durham public assistance committees, has been to charge them with making, in two or three local areas, their own interpretations which did not agree with his interpretation. The fact remains that one of the few areas in this country which was quiet, where there was satisfaction, at any rate where there was no uproar and no public criticism, was that county and it is the very place to which the right hon. Gentleman has sent his commissioners. I ask the Committee to note this fact, because it is going to be material in the future to Durham, and I assure the Committee that in the long run it is going to have [...] found effect upon general sentiment throughout the country. There were 360 people there doing this work for nothing and giving their time freely to it. The right hon. Gentleman sent in a commissioner and two sub-commissioners who immediately appointed about 10 chief officials in various areas and sub-areas.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I do not know any of them, but I know that the commissioner himself is to have £1,200 a year.
§ Mr. LAWSON
Then, of course, they have what is called cost-of-living bonus in addition to those salaries. There are 10 area officers with salaries ranging from £200 to £500 a year and, as I stated the other day, rumour has it that the cost of the administration of that area by the 785 commissioners will be about £20,000 a year. I have been told since that I am wrong and that that is quite a moderate estimate. Whether it is or not, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry in answering supplementary questions has stated that no matter what it costs, the cost will be offset by the savings— savings which, of course, are going to come out of the people concerned. What kind of people are these savings to come from? The right hon. Gentleman may be interested to know the conditions under which these people are. Whether he can do anything or not remains to be seen.
I received a letter on Saturday which indicates the state of affairs in that area. It is, I would remind the Committee, an area like South Wales and parts of Scot- land and other areas which are known as depressed areas. It is an area which both materially and socially has been sapped for the last ten years. Indeed it is amazing that the results which I am about to mention have not been seen before now. If anyone make inquiries there now they will be amazed at the lamentable conditions to which things have come. I do not like to have to plead the existence of conditions of this kind every time I stand here, but I find it necessary to impress the facts upon hon. Members as well as I can, because it seems to me that, outside of these areas, the real position is scarcely known even to public men. You can go to-day to the churches and elsewhere and see the people who formerly would have made any sacrifice in order to pay their way. They are not doing it to-day. There is a stringency such as I have never known. Take the case of treats and all kinds of little social functions that are carried on for various classes of people. It is quite clear that the coppers which once went to make those activities possible are not available now. That 2s., represented by the 10 per cent. on the unemployment benefit, carried right through to the transitional payments, has had a marked and a dreadful effect upon the people concerned.
Here is a man who writes to me and asks me to bring his case under consideration in the House of Commons. He says that he has been receiving£ 11s. 3d. transitional payment. He has himself, a 786 housekeeper and four children for whom to provide. He has been receiving the full amount of transitional payments. He was receiving 16s. for a disabled soldier's pension, in respect of wounds and shell-shock. The Commissioner has now reduced his transitional payment from £1 11s. 3d. to £1, and he has the 16s. for his pension, so that the man has actually had more than half his pension taken away. But let the Committee listen to this sum that the man puts in his own pathetic way. He says he has a rent of 8s. 3d.; he pays his housekeeper 7s. 6d.; he pays 3s. insurances; boots and clothing, 2s.—and this is with four children—local, 3s.;butcher, 2s. 6d.; groceries, 14s.—that is, for six of them for the week—and gas, 6d. That brings his outgoings to £2 0s. 9d., and he is left, after the Commissioner's award, with an income of only £1 16s. I happen to know that that kind of thing is only an indication of the policy which is being pursued. The Commissioner has to get at least £20,000 a year. The hon. Gentlemen says that he has to offset his expenses, and he has to get them out of people who have lived soberly and pursued a doleful, penurious kind of life, so patient and so fine. If that is an indication of the Government's policy, I should really like a record of what is going on in this country in remote places where labour has not much representation. It would be interesting.
The Minister of Labour is a very great asset to the Government. As a matter of fact, that courteous, imperturbable temper of his, which enables him to get through where other Ministers would have a lot of trouble, would be a very useful asset, I have sometimes thought, in dealing with the American Debt. He always makes us think he is giving us something instead of taking something from us. He has done the same thing with regard to the means test. He says that he is desirous of being generous and does not want to see anybody hurt. Yet he has installed commissioners in Durham, and they are to take their costs out of the people, who are sadly burdened and suffering tremendously, as they have been doing for years already. They are doing that not alone, but in common with other areas of that kind. There are some 80,000 unemployed in Durham, and on Mersey- 787 side, including Liverpool, I believe, there are about 168,000 of them.
I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman, who is going to allow commissioners to operate in this way, ever takes it into his head to inquire into what is happening in those places where there are no Labour representatives. It would be a story worth hearing, and it certainly is an explanation of that spurt and upheaval that took place just about the time when the House assembled. Let not anybody run away with the idea, whatever this Government may do, that that outburst was merely manufactured by Communists. They played upon what was there already. As a matter of fact, I sometimes think that, because their object is so obvious, they rather tend to act as a brake upon those who feel very strongly on this matter. As one who does riot like to see trouble, I warn the right hon. Gentleman that there is a spirit abroad in the country, where the means test is being operated, that sometimes makes me fear a spontaneous converging of forces throughout this country; and if those people begin to march, they will not be dealt with so easily as were the last lot, when they were organised by the Communists.
What are the Government going to do, apart from the means test? Are they simply going to fold their arms and say, "We are waiting till something turns up," or, as someone said the other day, till they are turned down? They have no policy at all. I remember that the Conservatives boosted migration, and we were so eager to try anything worth trying that we helped them. It failed. Then they tried transference, but that is now done or just about done. The Government are now trying tariffs. Will anyone dare to say, in face of this request for £18,000,000 to-day, that tariffs are going to do anything worth while for this country? It would appear, at any rate, as though the last 15 months have been a fairly good test of that policy. It may make some slight improvement, but the fact remains that there are bigger and much more fundamental things at work than that, which the Government of the day must face ultimately—great, deep-seated changes, rushing men out of factory and workshop and field on to the roads increasingly, so that, as I say, we 788 now have these 500,000 who have been idle for 12 months or more.
The Government really must get a policy to deal with this situation. Recently there was a three days' Debate in this House, and it was in some respects very encouraging. Members of all parties made their proposals and put them into what was called a pool. There was a time when I thought there was going to be a kind of Pool of Siloam, where, they say, people were healed, but apparently it has turned out to be a Dead Sea. The Government have no answer, and so they sit, without any policy, without any proposals, practically shutting down the Unemployment Grants Committee, giving no encouragement at all, not prepared to help the local authorities, bringing a restrictive spirit to bear upon people who are and have been unemployed for a considerable time; and so they carry on, hoping that something will turn up, with no policy at all.
When we sat over there, we were challenged almost every week with what we were doing or not doing. At any rate, we could plead that we did what we could as far as public works were concerned. We were a mere handful compared with the present Government, who have a majority of almost 500, with their own way and their own policy, and we are told that they are a combination of geniuses. I believe the Prime Minister thought, or at any rate the general impression was given, that it was a kind of team of all the talents. I ask the right lion. Gentleman if, in all his long experience of this House, he has ever seen the House so depressed, so lacking in hope, as it is at the present time.
It is true, as the right hon. Gentleman said—and he is entitled to use the argument—that, compared with many other countries, we are comparatively prosperous. I sometimes get a kind of gloomy satisfaction out of the sayings and doings of some of those people whom I used to hear at Geneva. I never forget that a great English newspaper opened its columns to a French professor to attack the Labour Government. He wrote article after article, and they were afterwards turned out in book form and appeared upon the bookstalls in almost every country in Europe, entitled "Britain's Crisis"; and statements have appeared in the "Times," too. That professor who 789 wrote upon Britain's crisis is now open to have a very enjoyable time writing upon France's crisis; and I am not unaware of the position of America. But let not this House be blind to the fact that the Government have no policy to meet the very grave situation that exists in this country, a situation which is getting worse, in that the permanently unemployed section is growing by leaps and bounds, while that standing army which is mainly composed of boys who are out of industry almost once and for all, is also growing.
The Government must do something in the face of a situation of that kind. I hope they will continue and develop their remedial work. I know that here and there the Ministry of Labour are doing first-class cork. If any hon. Members were to go to some of the training centres that are operating in different parts of this country under the Ministry of Labour, I think they would be very much surprised at what they would see there. Those who are pessimists might visit some of those centres to find some little inspiration. I do not believe that any voluntary organisation can do half as well the class of work that the Ministry are doing, say, at Bishop Auckland and places of that description. We, as the party of the working-class forces throughout the country, will not be content with the granting of £10,000 to assist the voluntary organisations, and we shall certainly be hostile to the Government if they do not give effect to what the right hon. Gentleman said to-day and carry out his promise of developing their own work.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Sir ARTHUR STEEL-MAITLAND
The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) has appealed to me to say whether I have ever seen this House in so depressed a state of mind with regard to unemployment and the state of affairs generally. I am sure that he himself this afternoon was a prophet of pessimism. I can only say to him that he is in good company. If he looks through the records of English history, he will find that as long ago as the early 1800's William Pitt saidThere is scarcely anything around us but ruin and despair.The hon. Member talked in the same vein as William Pitt. Shortly after that, Wilberforce said: 790I dare not marry, the future is so dark a and unsettled.I think that the hon. Gentleman has already entered that state, or he might have refrained from it like Wilberforce. Lord Grey, in 1819, said that he believed that everything was tending to a convulsion. That is exactly what the hon. Gentleman is thinking to-day. Disraeli, with rather less than his usual foresight, said in 1849:In industry, commerce and agriculture there is no hope.Lastly, the Duke of Wellington, almost on the eve of his death, thanked God that he wouldbe spared from seeing the consummation of ruin that is gathering around us.The hon. Member is therefore in good company with his pessimism, but events in their cases disproved that there was any real need for pessimism to that extent. I think that there is good reason to believe that our future will not be quite so dark as the hon. Member imagines.
I am very surprised at the comparatively scant justice that he has done to the organisations of voluntary effort. I am familiar, as he is, with much of the excellent work that is being done by organisations actually under the Ministry, but it is inconceivable that it cannot be supplemented by voluntary effort of the kind that is being organised at the present moment. I had my own experience of it last Saturday in my constituency. In the largest town in the division there is a representative of the Ministry who does his work very admirably and at the same time shows a real sympathy with the unemployed. He organised efforts to start playing fields, and then obtained the cooperation of a public-spirited individual who is manager of one of the banks. Between them they set to work, and in the end got the co-operation of the town council. Last Saturday I was asked to open a self-help institute which they had organised. It might have been the one to which the Minister referred. A house was put at the disposal of the organisation by the Education Committee, and there men can pass their time in mending their boots and clothes and in making articles of wood, and there is a general room in which they can gather as a club. Attached to the house is a piece of ground. In that work, the organisation 791 has the help and the friendly co-operation of other citizens of the town. The hon. Member knows as well as I do that it is not only a lack of money, but the feeling on the part of unemployed men that the country and society have no longer any real use for them that helps to depress and, indeed, to demoralise them. It is just that kind of centre, together with similar voluntary associations, which will, I believe, be of immense value to all those who have a chance of making use of them. I do not believe for a moment that that kind of effort should supersede the responsibility of the Ministry and the Government for dealing with the problem generally, but in this as in other respects there is certain work that can be done by the co-operation of volunteers, without diminishing the responsibility of the Government, to keep up the morale and the condition of those who are unemployed.
I would like to pass, within the limits of this Vote, to some of the broader aspects of the problem with which we are concerned, and to make some remarks about certain of them which I think have either not been mentioned hitherto or not had sufficient attention drawn to them. The Minister of Labour drew attention to the fact that the position in this country had deteriorated less than in other countries. He might have put the position a great deal stronger. There has been a general deepening of the whole trade depression throughout the world, but it has been much less marked in this country than it has been in other countries besides those that were mentioned by the Lord President of the Council a few weeks ago. I believe that he mentioned Germany and the United States. I think that I may say without fear of contradiction that no country in Europe has stood the strain of the last year of deepening depression in the way that this country has done. The ordinary statistics of unemployment vary so much in different countries that they cannot be compared, but, if the figures in the same country now and 15 months ago are taken, it can be shown how in each of the great nations of Europe outside this country the position has deteriorated much more than it has done here.
There are figures which are more properly comparable. I do not propose 792 to weary the Committee with details of them, but I will take the figure of production, which in itself is a test of trade, and look at the statistics of the fall of production since 1928. Taking the figure of 1928 as 100, the production in Germany has fallen to 53, Austria to 62, Belgium 62, Canada 61, United States 59, France 74, Poland 53 and the United Kingdom 89. In other words, the fall has been infinitely less here. I say at once, and I challenge denial, that some meed of thanks for that has certainly to be given to the Government for, in the first place, balancing the Budget, and in the second place, safeguarding the home market. I cannot but believe that if the home market had been left entirely unprotected when all the other manufacturing countries were looking for somewhere to shoot their surplus production, the position here would have deteriorated far more than it has done.
On the other hand, may I point out one fact which has not been sufficiently recognised. Our comparative well-being, while it is due in some measure to the Government, is due predominantly to our Edwardian fathers and our Victorian grandfathers, whom people are generally inclined to look upon with half-amused condescension. I am referring to the income which we are getting from the foreign investments that were largely made in those days. At the present moment, our income from foreign investments is much less in money than it was before the slump began, but I am told that we are still getting £150,000,000 a year from that source, and, of course, the volume has not fallen nearly so much as the actual amount as measured in money. I would ask the Committee, and I would beg the Government, because it has a very important bearing on the future, to note the inference that can be drawn from that. An immense amount of food and raw material represented by the income from these investments is coming into the country, as, so to speak, a free tribute from the other countries of the earth—Dominions and foreign countries alike. The receipt of that tribute has kept up the standard of living in this country and has given employment without which the unemployment figures would have been infinitely worse. It is difficult to calculate how much employment is given by £1,000,000 793 worth of goods, but, broadly, I should say —though it must be something of a guess —that our unemployment figure might well have been 1,000,000 greater than it is if it were not for the receipt of the income from our foreign investments.
Again, I would beg attention to the inference from that. This income has helped us in our time of need, but what is going to happen if and when the world depression as a whole is lifted? There is an essential duality in this problem. Attention was drawn to it by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), and I do not think that it has been sufficiently realised. We have two unemployment problems. There is the extraordinary unemployment from which we are suffering at this moment together with practically all the other manufacturing nations of the world. We have also the problem of the future. If and when the depression rises, as there are signs that it is likely to rise, unless folly prevents it, during the next 12 months, to what are we going to return? Shall we have done anything to remove the hard core of unemployment from which we suffered during the nine years before the big depression began? It is by this that the success or the failure both of this country and of the Government will ultimately be measured. We can be thankful that we are suffering less than other countries. At the same time, when we look to the future we have to realise that we received that income from foreign investments during the years before the slump began, and unless we take special pains to prepare for the future, as well as take measures for the present, we shall go back to the same state of affairs in which we were before 1929.
In view of that, may I briefly deal with one or two special questions? One is the question of economy. It is a delicate subject, in some ways, with which to deal. I always feel that it is almost better to be convicted of petty larceny that not to admit the universal validity of economy in every case. Therefore, I am not certain if what I shall say will be popular. I am sure of one thing; there is a true economy and there is a false economy, and a greater amount of nonsense has been talked in the sacred name of economy 794 than on almost any other subject. I would ask that at some time or another, not necessarily to-day, the Government should tell the people of the country exactly what should be done in the matter of spending and of economy, because it affects the question of unemployment here and now as well as in the future. Take, first, the case of spending by individuals. I believe it is the public duty of any individuals who have some money left to them after meeting the demands of taxation or who have some employment to spend it with confidence. The more useful the object on which they spend it the better, no doubt, but, broadly speaking, if people have money they should spend it and spend freely. If anyone doubts that let them consider the converse of the case. Suppose that everybody who had any money buttoned up his pockets the more closely and was the more careful of it. That would mean that trade and employment, which go limping along as it is, would stop altogether. If the view I have put forward is the right one, I beg of the Government to say so, and to appeal to those people who can put repairs in hand, who can put any useful work in band, who, indeed, can spend money at all, to take confidence and do it now.
Next there is the case of Government spending. Here the situation is different, because the problem is largely psychological. A period of depression like this is different from ordinary times, and for that one reason, if for no other, it would seem to be necessary that the Budget should balance, because of the general doubts and misgivings which otherwise are spread abroad and which in themselves cause trade to become worse. On the other hand, if the Budget is balanced, what is the proper test of what the Government expenditure should be? The question of imposing fresh taxation should be judged by whether the expenditure by the Government would be greater than the expenditure by the private individual. I think the contrary would prove to be the case. There ought to be economy to avoid fresh taxation, because under such a discouragement the expenditure by private individuals would be less than would be represented by the sum taken from them in taxation; but when it comes to economy in existing ex- 795 penditure the position amounts to this: "Would you, the individual, spend more if the Government cut the national services down?" That is the test by which it should really be judged. That is the test by which we ought to act in a time of depression. It would be a benefit to the country as a whole if we could be given a clear lead as to what the duty alike of public authorities and of individuals ought to be.
We ought also to prepare for the future when the world slump lifts, as I think it will in the course of the next year. I have never thought it would be a short slump. I have always thought it would last four years. There are signs, however, that it ought to lift now, if we take joint action with other countries and unless there is folly on the part of the Governments concerned. Our Government ought to keep an eye on what our position will be when we come out of the slump. What, for example, ought to be done as regards the raising of prices. We are all convinced, I think it is a commonplace now, that the general level of prices should be raised, and action is being taken with other countries, including the United States and Germany, to get it raised. The raising of prices should not, however, be a unilateral action by this country. In that respect the position resembles the disarmament problem. Members on this side of the House have been willing to forward the cause of disarmament, but have always quite rightly asked that other countries should go forward with us at the same time. In the same way, in the matter of raising prices, we should ask other countries to move with us.
I noticed the other day a statement by a member of the Government that the doctrine of cheapness in this country had been finally abandoned. I hope to goodness it has not. It would be a vast mistake. Of course, there are some kinds of mistaken cheapness. Take a simplified instance like the following. An unemployed man receives about £50 a year in unemployment benefit, and therefore 20 unemployed men would receive about £1,000 a year. It would be a mistaken view of cheapness if the Government were to place abroad an order for some article which it would 796 take 20 men a, year to make, in order to secure a saving of £200 only over what it could be made for in this country, because they would leave 20 men here out of work for a year. No doubt it was that kind of cheapness which the person who denounced the policy of cheapness had in mind; but, from the point of view of the future, it would be a gross misconception to allow prices to rise in this country alone, overlooking what it may mean to us if we forsake the doctrine of cheapness. That great core of unemployment before the War—running to between 1,000,000 and 1,500,000 persons—was due primarily and predominantly to the fact that there was a falling off in our foreign trade. The reason for that was due to one thing and one thing only, that we did not manufacture at a price which, article for article, would enable us to compete with our rivals in foreign markets.
I aim heartily glad of the arrangements with the Dominions which will develop trade relations between us and them—I have always stood for that policy all my life—and yet I am quite sure that the man who thinks we can conceivably live on trade with the Dominions only, however much we may develop it, is letting his zeal run away with his discretion and his enthusiasm run away with his judgment. We cannot afford to neglect the question of costs of manufacture, and therefore we must consider the future together with the present at a time like this, and the preparations for the two should go on together. It is no good having great Debates in this House on the question of whether we are to have a, tariff or not to have a tariff. We must ascertain what is the best level of a tariff, because clearly there is a tariff level above which it will hurt us to go, whereas if we fall below it the tariff will not be adequate. We must consider what the proper level should be; otherwise, we shall find we are raising the level of prices in this country, and in that way injuring our capacity to compete with other countries.
There was an event some time ago, to my mind of quite first-class importance, which I believe was not generally known at the time. It raises a question of policy, namely: what should this country do supposing proposals are made to us by other countries 797 to have what I may call a low-tariff ring? I am informed on what I believe is absolutely true authority that some 15 or 16 months ago there was a readiness on the part of Germany and of Italy to join us in a low-tariff ring, of which one condition was that there should not be a tariff exceeding 10 per cent. between any members of the ring, that other nations should be invited to join, and that we should be able to give preferences to our Dominions within that limit. I do not know how far and in what particular respect that would not fit in with some of the recent Agreements with the Dominions. Subject to that consideration I would ask the House to say whether we should be prepared to say "Yes" or "No" if such a proposal were made again. As an old Tariff Reformer I would say "Yes," without any hesitation whatsoever, because I have an innate belief that our people can compete with those of any other nation under Heaven if they have a fair chance of competing.
We must prepare, and I think that preparing means that a new view of the situation must be taken by industry, and by all the parties to industry. As was said by the right hon. Member for one of the divisions of Glasgow, industries need to put their house in order. I think there should be intermediate credits, something between a bank overdraft and a debenture. I have actual instances in my mind where these have succeeded. If industries could be encouraged to put their house in order by such measures the placing of orders for new machinery would in itself bring help to the heavy industries, which most need it at this moment. We should also require art infinitely freer production on the part of the unions. If we had that, it is my belief that we could face the future with confidence, because I feel that even with the higher rates of wages in this country our productive capacity would enable us to compete with any other country under Heaven. I believe this particular depression will lift within the next year, but, unless we look to the future as well as to the present, we shall find ourselves back in the old groove we were in for those eight long years. If, however, we only take ourselves in hand, we shall have the prosperity for which we hope and which we have not had since the War.
§ 5.44 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. EVANS
We have listened with interest to the speech of the right hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland), who is an acknowledged authority on economic problems, but, while he was-citing the observations of distinguished statesmen of the past, I could not help, thinking that conditions have changed a good deal since their day. Many of the crises during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were rather easy to overcome. We were then very largely the world's workshop. We had the monopoly in a large number of markets. Circumstances arose whereby those markets were temporarily closed to us, perhaps from governmental policy or because of a temporary loss of purchasing power. but those markets were still available. It is fairly easy to analyse the methods whereby we emerged from those financial crises. I imagine that most of us, in the grip as we are to-day of exactly the same conditions, would rather pooh-pooh the doleful prophecies of those statesmen. Circumstances to-day have changed very considerably. We are no longer the world's workshop, and we no longer have control over markets, except perhaps to a limited extent within the Empire. Industrialisation has become widespread. I suppose that the background to the study of our present industrial depression would be a consideration of facts such as these: From 1913 to 1925, the world's population increased by about 5 per cent. and the world's production of foodstuffs increased twice as rapidly, by 10 per cent. The world's production of raw materials increased five times as rapidly, 25 per cent. From 1925 to 1929, there was the same tendency, although in a less pronounced measure. The world's population increased in that period by 4 per cent., foodstuffs increased by 5 per cent. and raw materials by 20 per cent.
That is the world situation. The production of finished goods has been rather greater than the production of raw materials. The production of foodstuffs has increased much more rapidly than population; the production of raw materials has increased still more rapidly than population. On the side of finished goods, the production has been very much greater. The conditions of recovery are not what they were when those pronouncements were made. It is very gratifying—I say this very sincerely—to find 799 that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth has hopes for an immediate recovery. Frankly, I would say, without impugning the authority, for which I have a very high respect, of the right hon. Gentleman, that I seem to remember the annual statements of general managers of great banks and financial corporations: "we have touched bottom," "the tide turns," "before another year dawns recovery will have come." I sincerely hope that the prophet of this afternoon is a true prophet in contradistinction to those prophets who have made their annual pronouncements at bank gatherings.
I want to emphasise a point that was made by the right hon. Gentleman, one which, as he rightly said, has been made more than once by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). We have two unemployment problems. There is the unemployment which has ensued from the world conditions which I have tried to describe and from the disproportionate increase in the production of foodstuffs and raw materials. Then there is our own unemployment problem. May I cite the case of South Wales, the district which I know best? In the last 10 years, something like 242,000, or over a quarter of a million people—I will not press the accuracy of my figures—have left South Wales and have migrated to other industrial centres. Even if you could have a recovery of the industries in South Wales to the 1929 level, you would still have something like 70,000 unemployed, representing the surplus industrial population. It may be that world conditions will improve. On its physical side, civilisation has solved the problem of production, and civilisation on its physical side is the creation of new wants. On those two sides we have solved our problem, but the monetary machine has broken down. The first task of civilisation, unless it is to collapse completely, is either to repair the old machine or to make a new one.
There you have the crux of the situation on a world scale. I still think that even if you solved that problem, because of the vast increase in producing capacity we should still have in this country a residuum of 1,500,000 people unemployed. Coal will never see 800 prosperity in the old form to which we have been accustomed. There are many other industries which cannot recover because of the very nature of the world situation. I want to stress the point which the right hon. Gentleman has made that we must plan ahead. I find, upon looking at the Estimates, that we are voting a sum of £18,010,000 on account of unemployment. The £10,000 is a contribution to the finding of work. Has it not been the saddest commentary upon our statesmanship that, throughout all these years, we have been doling out millions in respect of unemployment and so little in respect of employment?
The Minister this afternoon, in his very lucid and disarming statement, in asking the Committee for this Vote, enumerated some of the causes for the revised. Estimate. He seemed to me to enumerate all the causes except the correct one, so far as this country is concerned. One of the reasons why we are being asked for £18,000,000 is, I suggest, that there has been a serious contraction of expenditure upon public works. I might cite the case of my own constituency, that is represented in a more personal way by another hon. Member. Next Thursday, I shall he going there to assist in the opening of a community house. A public-spirited gentleman has given us a house. We are going to gather there the unemployed from the little town of Carmarthen, where we have nearly 1,000 unemployed. We have collected over a hundred pounds, and we shall probably give some sort of training to those people, in boot-making and so forth. At the same time, some 200 yards away from the house, there is a bridge. I asked a question about that bridge in this House the other day. It is a bridge that provides a vital link on a great trunk road between east and west Wales. It was destroyed, more or less, by floods. The Ministry of Transport in their munificence gave us money to provide a temporary bridge. The local people pressed for a two-way bridge and Messrs. Dorman Long submitted a tender for a two-way bridge, but we should have had to spend another £800, and, instead of £3,000, our bridge would cost £3,800. "Ah," said the Ministry of Transport, "these are days of financial stringency"—
§ The CHAIRMAN
May I call the hon. Member's attention to the fact that he is now trespassing upon the Department of another Minister, namely, the Minis- try of Transport? The Vote that we are discussing is a matter only for the Ministry of Labour. I must ask him to confine his remarks to the crux of the question.
§ Mr. EVANS
I apologise. The point I wished to snake is that for another £800 a two-way bridge could have been provided, but that owing to the restrictions of a certain Minister whom I shall not mention, the £800 was not forth- coming. Already £1,200 has been spent in controlling the traffic. It would give the Committee a considerable amount of pleasure this afternoon if, instead of voting £18,000,000 for unemployment, we voted at least £10,000,000 of that sum to provide the people with work.
Your Ruling, Mr. Chairman. has rather cramped my argument. We had a three days' Debate upon unemployment, and some of the contributions, I suggest, were of very great value. Before we vote £18,000,000, I would very much like to know whether the Minister of Labour proposes to act upon any of the suggestions that were made. Are we going on, year after year, voting doles for unemployment? Are we going to pursue this policy? Maybe the depression will lift, but only to a, partial extent, and we shall still be faced with a problem of providing for the needs of a million and a half people. Is that the limit of the Government's statesmanship? Are the Government, year after year, going to ask, either in the Budget, in the first Estimate or in a Supplementary Estimate, for millions of pounds to subsidise unemployment, or are they going to undertake the big task of statesmanship? Are the Government going to plan? Are they going to provide people with employment? In South Wales there are 70,000 people who will probably never find themselves back in their old vocations. What are we going to do? The spending of 802 money in developing and in planning industry is money well spent.
In the tinplate industry, in my constituency, there is a temporary improvement., which is not going to last very long. To explain the position fully I should have to go beyond the boundaries of this Debate, although if I have your permission, Sir Dennis, I am quite prepared to do so. Much of the improvement of which I speak is essentially of a temporary character. The kind of thing that has been happening is that the tinplate industry was linked up with the iron and steel works. The banks have brought pressure on the steel works to reduce their overdrafts. The tinplate works hitherto were kept going on foreign steel. I am not citing fanciful things. These are actual things about which I am quite prepared to give the Parliamentary Secretary data. The manager of the steelworks said to the banks, "We cannot carry on. We cannot meet your demand for a reduction in the overdrafts because the tinplate works buy foreign steel." The banks said, "How can you expect us to help you if your own tinplate works keep going on foreign steel? Why do you not compel them not to use foreign steel?" They are doing it temporarily. If I were a betting man, I should be prepared to enter into a mild gamble with the Parliamentary Secretary that quite a number of the works which are now opening will only open for a short period. I hope he is right, but, with the pool system that is operating to-day, if the tinplate industry is to be rationalised, a large number of the inefficient works will have to close down. At the moment they are being rationed to the extent of 60 or 70 per cent.
If there are to be—and this is the judgment of those who undertook the industrial survey—70,000 people in South Wales who, however much trade may improve, will never find themselves back in their old form of employment, what is to be done? Are they to be allowed to become demoralised? The Lord President of the Council the other day made a moving appeal. He spoke of youth, and said that youth had to save civilisation. He said that there was a menace from the air, and that we had to create in youth a conscience—that youth was to make up its mind that it would never use these lethal weapons and thereby 803 destroy civilisation. There are hundreds of thousands of youths in this country who have never done a day's work, who have been frustrated in their hopes, thwarted in all their aspirations. What is being done for youth? We listened a few days ago to a discussion in the House about what happened 10 years ago, but, frankly, I do not think that youth is much concerned about the yesterdays of 10 or 12 years ago; youth is concerned with to-day and to-morrow; and youth, frustrated in its hopes, has a right to ask that it shall be given a chance—the discipline of work, the chance of self-realisation. Youth has a right to fling back in the teeth of the old men this answer: "If you want us to save civilisation, give us a civilisation that is worth saving."
Nothing is more tragic than the treatment of youth. It is proposed that we should vote £10,000 for the Council of Social Service. I would gladly vote £10,000,000 to organise work for youth. Every lad who is unemployed, every lad who is thwarted in his ambitions, becomes a potential enemy of society. How can he be prepared to do his best for civilisation when civilisation treats him so shabbily, when it denies him the right of self-development? If this Vote is pressed to a Division, we shall vote for the Government, but we shall vote this £18,000,000 with no great pleasure. We would not withhold a single halfpenny from the funds to provide the unemployed with amenities, but we should rejoice very greatly if the Government asked us to vote many millions more for the purpose of organising work. The policy of Protection which has been launched in this country—whether wisely or unwisely does not matter—carries with it a natural corollary. If you are going to protect the home market, if you are going to jeopardise your overseas sales, you ought to develop your own resources. That seems to me to be the logical sequence of a policy of Protection. What is being done with agriculture? What is being done with the development of our native resources? I should like to see something more than an allotment scheme. It is not nearly enough to have a smallholdings policy; you must also have a means whereby those whom you settle on the land have marketing facili- 804 ties. I should like to see the Government guaranteeing capital for canning factories, and assisting in the settlement of people on the land, not merely by buying the land —
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
If that subject arises in Supply at all, it appears to me that it would arise on the Ministry of Agriculture Vote.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR (Mr. R. S. Hudson)
The Unemployment Grants Committee has lapsed, and, therefore, I take it, cannot now be discussed.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I think that that is so. I do not know if the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. R. T. Evans) was here at the beginning of the Debate, but the Chairman then ruled as to the limits of the items covered by the Supplementary Estimate. I have given the hon. Member a good deal of latitude, and he is now getting beyond the limits.
§ Mr. EVANS
I am very much obliged to you, Captain Bourne, for that latitude, and I will not transgress further. The point that I had in mind was that the £10,000 to which I have referred might be very considerably enlarged, and might be administered, not by a voluntary body, but by a central ad hocgovernment body. That. was the point that I was trying to make, but I will not press it in view of your Ruling.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
On a point of Order. Should we not be entitled to argue that, instead of £10,000, the amount ought to be, say, £100,000, and should he administered by the local authorities and not by this voluntary body, the Council of Social Service? Surely we can argue as to how the money which is asked for should be spent?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The right hon. Gentleman is, of course, quite right. It was not that part of the hon. Member's argument to which I was calling attention, but the part in which he began to 805 deal with the administration of the Agricultural Land (Utilisation) Act. That is a matter for the Ministry of Agriculture, and not for the Ministry of Labour. To argue as suggested by the right hon. Gentleman, provided that it did not involve legislation, would be perfectly in order.
§ Mr. EVANS
I submit to your Ruling, and will conclude by appealing to the Government not to be content merely with subsidising unemployment, but to utilise their resources in order to provide people with work. In view of the world situation, and the likelihood that a very large number of our population will never again find employment in their old vocations, I say that we should plan ahead, that we should develop our own resources, and should follow a policy which is the natural corollary of the Protectionist policy which we have adopted. That is the appeal that I make to the Government—that they should not be content merely with voting £18,000,000 for unemployment, but that they should plan ahead in order to develop our resources and restore to youth and to others who have grown old in unemployment, something of their self-respect, and to check the degradation which seems to be creeping over our population.
§ 6.9 p.m.
§ Mr. TINKER
I always admire the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. R. T. Evans), on account of the fervour that he is able to put into his speeches. In putting the case of South Wales, he has put the point that I have in mind, for Lancashire is as hard hit as South Wales. We have a surplus population of unemployed, and, even if we get back to the conditions of 1929, we shall still be left with 150,000 who will never get work. We ask the Government, what are they preparad to do in such circumstances? Although this is a Supplementary Estimate, I listened to the speech of the Minister to hear what plans the Government have for helping us out of this difficulty; but the right hon. Gentleman only reiterated what he said in his speech on the 4th November. He then said that we had done remarkably well as regards balancing the Budget, and that we were doing better than other countries, but the only suggestion he could make was that we should wait for something to turn up. He did tell us that we might look to charity of 806 some kind for help in the future. I wondered whether he had forgotten what he said on the 4th November—that we had had 12 years of this problem, and had tried 17 methods, which he enumerated.
Have the Government lost hope in their own policy to such an extent that they intend to turn to private charity? I wonder whether the Minister meant that or not. To my mind it shows that the Government, after 18 months of trial, can offer no solution for the unemployment problem, and are beginning to feel that they have failed. If the only thing that they can suggest is to leave the matter to private resources, that suggests to my mind abject failure. It is too tragic for Members on this side to have to listen to that kind of thing from the Government. We expected something more tangible. I do not depreciate the value of private help; I want it to continue; and I should not have objected if the Government had offered a larger sum than they have, though I might have felt some objection to the method. I do not know what the putting of this body in charge of the funds really means. I am told that one of the men in charge of it is a member of the other House, and certainly not a friend of ours. I shall be glad if the Parliamentary Secretary, when he comes to reply, would explain more fully what this body is, who is in charge of it, and what its position in relation to the Government will be when it has dealt with this £10,000. Will it be responsible to the Government for the method by which it has dealt with this money? I had a letter the other week from another charitable institution—the Salvation Army: I dare say other Members have had similar letters—telling of the extremely good work that it is doing, and I was wondering whether the Government had given any consideration to the question of enlisting the help of the Salvation Army, which, as I think, everybody will admit, is doing spendid work in all parts of the world, at the cost of great sacrifices both of time and of labour.
When we were dealing some time ago with the Transitional Payments Bill, I brought to the notice of the Minister the question of family means, and cited cases in my own constituency in which young men, and in some cases young women, left their homes in order that by doing so they might get transitional payments. 807 I do not know whether it was owing to my speech on that occasion, or whether the Ministry already had it in mind, but since then certain action has been taken. I have here a statement issued by the Lancashire County Council to the area of Leigh, which I represent in the House. In that statement they instruct the public assistance committee to pay close attention to these young men and women who have left their homes. They are laying it down, under the instructions of the Ministry of Labour, that these people are not to have transitional benefit if they were not entitled to it before they left home. I want the Parliamentary Secretary to let us know whether instructions have gone out from his Department to deal with this point. If so, I criticise their action very strongly. When they speak in the name of charity, as they have done to-day, where is the charity in the mind of the Government? They try to take from the household or from the individual the means of sustenance. These men and women have not left home without some regard to their position. They have done it because they did not want to live on their people. They set out to strike a course in life on their own, and the Minister comes along and says, "No, that is defeating the object that we have in view, and we cannot allow it to go on." If that is the kind of thing for which the Government are responsible, it is up to us to do all we can to retard its progress.
I am glad we are opposing this Vote, if only for the purpose of getting a full discussion. It may seem paradoxical to oppose a grant for the unemployed, but we are bringing to the notice of the House and of people outside how we feel on the matter. We shall condemn the Government on every opportunity for the way they are dealing with the unemployment problem. They deceived the people by saying that, if they were given power, they would improve social conditions, and 18 months afterwards we are no better off. It is a standing disgrace to the House of Commons and to the country. Men have been arrested and found guilty of inciting the unemployed, and we hear of unrest being created by the action of foreign countries. If we keep a large body of men unemployed and tell them that they have to depend on charity 808 for sustenance, it will not require any foreign source to stir up the feelings of our people.
Last week we had a speech from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West. Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain), who had been personally investigating the conditions under which many of his constituents lived, and he made the remark that, if it was he who had to suffer, there would be no telling how far he would go, and, with all his training and tradition, and with all his loyalty to the country, he could not stand it and he would burst his bonds. There are thousands of people with the same kind of feelings, and I am wondering what they will say when they realise that the Government can hold out no hope at all, but that we must fall back on charity. Charity is very good in its way. Last Saturday in my constituency they had a flag day to provide the unemployed with boots for Christmas. It was a case of the poor helping the poor, because the vast majority of them are hardly able to keep body and soul together. How long do the Government expect citizens of that kind to be kept down? It will not require any outside source, Russia or anywhere else, to cause such an outburst as will not be easily quelled. I make an earnest appeal to the Government, with their enormous majority, not to sit supinely doing nothing at all.
§ 6.21 p.m.
§ Mr. RHYS
I know that the Government have been very much preoccupied in the last year with matters of very great importance, such as India, Geneva, Lausanne, and the American debt, and have not had the time to devote as much attention to the grave problem of unemployment as we should like to have seen. I am not addressing my remarks to my right hon. Friend who, I know, has paid the closest attention to the problem, but I wish generally to express die feeling that one finds growing up in the country, and which one can hardly help sharing oneself in some degree. We are faced with an expenditure of £83,000,000 for unemployment and 3,000,000 unemployed. I echo the remark of the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) that there is a feeling of great events on the move. Events are very often greater than men. Men may not always be able to control 809 these great world forces that are at work. There are 30,000,000 people out of employment in the world, but I want to con fine my attention to those in this country. One can always be amazed at the patience of the unemployed. I have known many of them. I am very closely in touch with the division that I formerly represented, and I meet these people and talk to them in their houses. It seems to me a revelation of what human fortitude can be. I believe we have to adopt an attitude rather more concrete than that which is being displayed to-day—spending money without having power, under the present-law, to use it to the best advantage.
I should like to place before my right hon. Friend some suggestions that might possibly be carried out in the existing state of the law. The Minister very rightly alluded to the great necessity of encouraging voluntary co-operation. In the South of England there is almost a feeling of guilty shame at the number of unemployed. Although it is in no sense a distressed area, the figures are much higher than we arc accustomed to. We are seeing voluntary schemes for the relief of unemployment headed by local authorities and rallied round handsomely by the inhabitants of the districts. I am assured that you could almost absorb your unemployed in the South of England throughout the coming winter. There are schemes that could be put into operation which would in no way conflict with normal work. It would be a wrong step to take the work of the ordinary contractors or, in these days of great economy, to embark on work which would involve the purchase, say, of land, for a new road, because a great deal of money would go into the pockets of the owners of the land. Money should be spent in such a way that the greatest possible proportion goes in wages. We have in the South of England large numbers of schemes which could easily be put into operation if it were possible to allow the unemployed to do such work while drawing their benefit and not to be considered to have gone to work, because they would not be competing in the labour market in the ordinary sense. They would work a short week, and possibly have just a little less money than they would get if they were in ordinary employment. I admit that this could not be done with any degree of success in the North. I also see that, if it is necessary in the 810 future to modify the existing practice, it would be difficult to legislate for the South of England separately from the North, but I will ask my right hon. Friend to visualise the possibility of such a situation arising that he might have to deal with this position, or retain to himself the power of dealing with it, sectionally and completely under his control. I regret that I am precluded by the -Rules of Order from making one or two suggestions which I believe would be of value.
There is a strong and growing feeling that, if the Government will take a firmer line, they will get a great deal of support. The House of Commons to-day is supporting proposals which, possibly, even a year ago it would have thought not in accordance with its old, preconceived ideas. I ask the Government. to grasp the nettle boldly and not be afraid of new proposals from whatever source they may come. We are not hide-bound. If the party opposite, or the party below the Gangway, can produce a good proposal, the younger Tories are not in the least going to shy at the plan because of its source. I believe that we can all contribute to the common stock of knowledge. Everything to-day is in the melting-pot, but the one thing which stands firm in the melting-pot is the need for action. We can explain, it is true, that world conditions are 1 per cent. better here or 1 per cent. better elsewhere. Every Member of the House knows it to be true and can appreciate it, but the people who do not appreciate it are the people who are not in a position to do so. Therefore, I merely rose to place before His Majesty's Government the feeling which is growing in that direction, and to assure them of the wholehearted support of Members of this party to any proposal which they may wish to bring forward.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Mr. J. JONES
For the last 42 years I have been interested in the matter of unemployment, and I am very sorry to discover that some of the old notions which used to prevail in those days still seem to survive. The problem has been growing in intensity all through that period. There is not a man out of work in Great Britain to-day who is not a direct descendant of the people who were out of work 40 years ago. The same system prevails. The only difference is that it has become more intensified as the years have gone by. 811 We are not talking now about a temporary problem, but one which has become a permanent part of our civilisation. At the beginning of the Twentieth Century we were living in the midst of a new economic revolution. In the Eighteenth and the Nineteenth Centuries we were trying to solve the problem of production, and, as we have proceeded in the direction of trying to solve that problem, we have intensified man's power of production to such an extent that to-day there is a surplus amount of labour in every country of the world. The human element has become less, and the mechanical element has become more. We have annihilated space. We have harnessed science to the machine. We have almost conquered the air, and we have bridged the ocean. [An HON. MEMBER: "We have not conquered the air yet."] Yes, even a lady has conquered the air within recent days, like some of the Tories have done.
We have reached the stage when we are absolutely face to face, as a result of our own activities, with the fact that we have produced so much wealth that people are starving for the want of it. We have more wealth than the people have an opportunity of consuming, and here we are to-day in the House of Commons trying to discover a way out of our difficulty. A Government composed of all the geniuses of modern politics, men picked from all schools, and no schools, of economics, have come along and told us that the mountain has been in labour, and that now we have the mouse. The mouse consists of £18,000,000 to subsidise the unemployment fund, and £10,000 to throw a little bit of sugar to the bird—charity. No wonder one of our greatest satirists described charity as conscience money which the rich man pays for the robbery of the poor. It is the giving of a little to save a lot. "Keep them quiet" has been the argument of some of our friends. If something is not done immediately to alleviate the position of the workers out of employment something might happen. They might begin to lose their temper. They might begin to upset things. It will not be like it was a few months ago when men threatened to come to the House of Commons and hold a mass demonstration. It is said that the people in the mining districts, in the iron 812 districts and in other districts will rise in a state of revolutionary fervour. I do not believe it, however, for in my opinion people will not fight for what they want. I have seen it so often. The only kind of fight to make use of is common sense and perfect organisation.
You can get your schemes through your social bodies whoever they may be. We have them in the East End of London. If charity could solve the poverty problem, the East End of London would be a veritable paradise. Left, right, in the centre, and all round the circumference of the East End districts, there are charitable organisations of all kinds. What is the situation? I say, frankly, that you have brought up a school of people to look to charity as a way out of their difficulties. It is not charity for which we ask. Those of us who try to represent East London constituencies ask for justice. Justice can never be done as long as we have a system of society based upon the exploitation of the poor by those who own their means of livelihood. That is the situation which prevails to-day.
We are faced with an international situation. We are told that there are 20,000,000 people unemployed. When the National Government were elected 15 months ago I thought that all those problems were at last to be tackled. How have they tackled them? The real number of unemployed to-day is greater than when they came into office. They have turned some of the burden over to the local authorities. In West Ham we have to find another 1s. in the out of the rates to pick up the derelicts which the Government have thown off the Employment Exchanges. If one multiplies that fact, it will be found that at least 250,000 men and women have been transferred from the Employment Exchange to the public assistance committee. What do the Government offer? A kind of thank-offering for Christmas—"Peace on earth and good will to men. Here is £10,000 to keep you quiet." As far as some of us are concerned, we say that that will not do. We know very well that what we can do in this House does not amount to much. We can only say what we are at liberty to say, and we can think what we like. But I venture to say that the Government are simply asking for it, if they think that we can get over our 813 economic and social difficulties in regard to the matter of unemployment by insulting the intelligence of the people with the things which they are suggesting this afternoon. I know some of the charitable workers in the East End of London. There is the Salvation Army. I belong to a Church which does as much in that direction as any of them, and does not talk about it. As regards the country, the Catholics, as far as their means will allow, do as much as any particular Church.
It is not as if you were giving something out of your own private benevolence. The problem is too big to be handed over to the tender mercies of any charitable organisation. Social problems can be tackled only by a conscientious public opinion. The public opinion with which we wish it to be tackled is the conscientious public opinion of an organised nationality. The people are a community, whatever their differences may be in politics, religion or anything else. They are one nation. We are our brothers' keepers. Whether we like it or whether we do not, economically, politically or socially we are all members of the same family. While 3,000,000 of our fellows are unemployed, we are going off at the end of the week to enjoy our Christmas holidays and to have five weeks or more for leisure, pleasure or perhaps business capacity or opportunity. How do we stand in relation to those people who have no opportunity and who do not know whence their Christmas dinner is coming unless it is provided by private individuals, friends or relations who may be able to assist them?
We are the people who are supposed to decide the national policy. What is the national policy? It is no consolation to me to listen to the speech of the Minister when he says, "Thank God we are not like those other people. There is more unemployed in America, in Germany and in other countries than there is in Great Britain." What has that to do with it? We are supposed to be masters in our own house. Last year the Government gave us a kind of programme which they were to adopt to alleviate the situation, and all we have this afternoon is Dead Sea fruit—Tariff Reform introduced on a wooden leg. It has not reduced the number of the unemployed, and it will not. The more it is tried the worse will its performance prove to be. 814 It was suggested that economy would save the situation. Has it? You have saved the pound, but have lost your souls. It is said that you have saved the pound, but, as far as the workers are concerned, they have lost it because they have been £2,000,000 down in wages during the time the Government have been in office owing to the reductions forced upon them, and sometimes voluntarily accepted. If that is all that the Government can do, how can they go on justifying themselves to the people? They have an overwhelming majority of 11 to 1. They work in two shifts, and they can turn out and vote us down by 11 to 1 every time of asking. What have they to show during this period of unexampled power? There has been no Government in modern times with such a majority. And yet there is the greatest number of unemployed in the country.
It is not only the loss of employment. It means loss of soul and of the understanding of manhood and womanhood which has compelled men and women to do things which otherwise they would not think of doing. One talks about the increase of crime among juveniles. What is the main cause of it? I could take any hon. Member to-morrow morning into the district where I live and show him where school children are turned out and are compelled to go to the factories on the chance of obtaining work. They are children who ought to be at school, but because they are 14 years of age they are compelled to muster outside the factories on the off-chance of getting a day's or half-a-day's work, if they are lucky. They are growing up in those conditions. Some of the young people have been out of work for four years, and in fact have not had any work to do since they left school. Do hon. Members wonder why criminality is growing among juveniles? For a Government to suggest £10,000 and private charity at a time like this is insulting the intelligence of the great masses of the people of the country. Is this the best that they can do? I believe that most of the Members of the House on both sides are honest in their expressions of opinion, and that they want to do something for the unemployed in reality in order to remove the burden and give hope to those people in the future. Believing that, I ask where is there an indication from the Government Benches which is likely 815 to give one any idea of enthusiastic support for the policy which the Government are now putting forward? There is no policy. There is bankruptcy of ideas. They are strong in numbers, but weak in the head. There are no proposals from them. It is their responsibility, not ours. I remember reading a report of a Royal Commission on Labour in 1886. That is a long while ago. Schemes were proposed then, schemes are in the pigeon-holes of the Government Departments in Whitehall. If some of those schemes had been carried into effect, they might have made this country richer in the economic sense, but they had not to be touched because they would cost money. When it is a matter of oil concessions in The East, or when it is a matter of extending the influence of British capitalism in other parts of the world, even at the risk of going to war we are prepared to rattle the sabre.
We ought to do something far more than is proposed by the Government today. Plenty of schemes could be brought forward. The pigeon-holes ought. to be searched. The best brains of the country ought to be brought into conference even though they may not be in this House. They ought to be brought in and asked to make suggestions as to what the Government might do. Instead of that, we have this miserable mouse which has been produced this afternoon money to keep the unemployed from starvation and £10,000 to be handed over to social organisations for the purpose of trying to alleviate the situation temporarily. The time has arrived when the Government must deal with the situation from the standpoint of a permanent solution. They must get down to brass tacks. The situation is becoming more and more serious.
As mechanical apparatus develops, more and more people are thrown out of work. As we apply scientific methods for producing, the more people are thrown on the scrapheap under our present system. We need to correlate our industrial improvements side by side with the human material. If we do not, the problem of unemployment will become more serious than it is. Now is the time for the Government to propound plans for the future. Up to now we have had nothing. All that we have heard is that we should vote for the National candidate, and everything in the garden will be lovely. 816 The people voted for them, and we have tried them and found them wanting. Everything in the garden is not lovely. The Minister of Labour can get very little consolation from the speech he has made to-day, and I hope that to-morrow when he reads it in the OFFICIAL REPORT he will be sorry that he ever delivered it.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Mr. CROSSLEY
The hon. Member who has just spoken said that he wanted to get down to brass tacks. He also said that we have saved the pound and lost our soul. I want to bring him to brass tacks over the latter statement. If we had allowed the pound to go down where it might have gone, the inevitable result would have been that we could not have paid for the food which we bought from abroad. The disaster which that would have meant for his constituents, I leave him to imagine. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson), who spoke for his party, said that he had never seen a House that was so depressed. I do not know whether he expects us to be very happy. We are looking out on a world which, if it is not in a state of chaos, is in a state approaching chaos. Only a little time ago the Prime Minister said that there is no France, there is no Germany, there is no America, there is no Great Britain; there is only a world and a system crumbling around it. We are looking out on that world. We are looking on trade restrictions, difficulties of trading in every country. Does the hon. Member expect us to be very happy?
A distinguished predecessor who sat in the Chair of this House once told the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) that he could fall back upon two things, religion and philosophy. It would be very agreeable to fall back upon philosophy, the sort of philosophy of Berkeley. W. B. Yeats wrote of Berkeley:And God appointed Berkeley, that proved all things a dream,That this pragmatical, preposterous pig of a world, its farrow that so solid seem,Would vanish on the instant if the mind but changed its theme.But our minds cannot so easily change their themes. I suggest to hon. Members in all parts of the Committee that the statement which the Minister made to-day has been completely misunderstood. I will not say that it has been wilfully 817 misunderstood, but it has been misunderstood by accident. The hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. R. T. Evans), who spoke for the Liberal party, said that there were two sides to this question. That is true. There is the side of finding work for the unemployed and the side of alleviating their daily life. He gave certain figures. He said that we were voting £18,000,000 for unemployment, and he would rather that we had been providing £10,000,000 for employment. In that case, the figures would have been something like this. We should have been voting £10,000,000 for employment and, in addition, we should have been voting £16,500,000 for unemployment. No country's finances can stand that sort of economics. Anyone who looks at the next few years and who tries to imagine for a moment the appalling difficulty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in estimating his taxation, must realise that we have really to get down to brass tacks on this subject.
I want to say a few words with regard to the proposal to give £10,000 to the National Council for Social Service, an initial grant towards the inauguration of a campaign of social service in this country. I have gone into this question as far as I have been able. I have been into several of the centres, and I would ask hon. Members opposite not to regard them as charity. They are not intended as charity. They are intended, as the Prince of Wales put it, as the recognition of an obligation by all the people in this country who have not been driven to desperate economic plight to help those who, through no fault of their own, have been driven into an almost desperate position. It is a recognition of that obligation, and there is all the difference in the world between that and charity. In the centres I have seen men making things for themselves. I have seen a man making a cabinet for his house. Could he possibly have had that cabinet if he had not been able to buy his materials at cost price, and been able to spend his time working with tools, keeping his hand and his eye in, instead of going the hopeless round of the unemployed, going to the Employment Exchange, standing at the street corner, staring at a blank wall? That is the agony of it to-day.
In my constituency at this moment there are 17 men meeting in the mayor's 818 parlour at the town hall, and they are going to try to take the 12 wards and to organise them by twos for centres of activity. Those centres are each going to contain, if we can raise enough money, an occupational side, where they will be able to supplement the grant that they get, and what they make with their own hands. The recreational side will also provide papers and books, and also a place where they will be able to hold lectures. We have large numbers of people who have expressed themselves willing to help and to give lectures, or to give instruction in physical training. Why should we not use this time of extreme hardship to produce good results? Why should we not use this time to produce the spirit of craftsmanship and to renew our craft industries? We have largely lost our craftsmanship owing to the excessive division of labour, but there is a chance here to restore that craftsmanship which used to be our national pride. Why should we not in this time of difficulty take the opportunity of inculcating those habits of physical fitness among our people which any hon. Member can see if he goes to Sweden? It would be a grand thing if our people were as fit as the people of Sweden. I do not think that these things are impossible of achievement. I do think that such works as these can be achieved by the hearty co-operation of the people of this country who have a sense of their obligation towards the unemployed, and that co-operation cannot possibly be considered as charity.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. ERNEST YOUNG
Most of the hon. Members who have taken part in the Debate seem to have been caught in a network of fatalism. I have never accepted the theory enunciated by the Prime Minister that we are compelled for ever to have this great surplus of unemployment. In a discussion on this Vote we seem, to be missing the essential purpose for which the Vote is to be granted. The proposal to grant £10,000 for recreational and other purposes is a good thing of its kind, but the real problem we have to face, and one which becomes more acute as the days go by, is that while we have unemployment on the scale which exists at the moment it will continue to create unemployment and the problem will become worse instead of better. The hon. Member who has just sat down made a 819 little criticism of the speech of my colleague the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. R. T. Evans) in which he suggested that he would like to see a large amount of the money providing labour rather than providing what is called the dole. I believe he was right in that suggestion, because one finds from experience, especially in the industrial areas, that if you provide a certain number of people with work you increase their spending power, and that reacts throughout the whole area and ultimately throughout the whole country.
We who come from the industrial areas suggest that the Government should, first of all, approach the local authorities, and give them some power to spend money towards bringing about the revival of employment. The nation lives largely on foreign trade, which we are unable to get at the present moment. We believe that the local authorities, with their intimate touch with the people, are the best people first to be approached. The problems are local. If hon. Members had a real conception of the way in which members of town councils and public officials are harassed on their doorsteps by people who arc clamouring for an opportunity to work, I think it would be realised that the recovery of employment has to begin locally. A Government Department is necessarily rather unwieldy and cumbersome. A local authority acts much more quickly, and is far more efficient.
While it is wise to have a long-term plan to deal with agriculture and problems of that kind, if we are going to stem the increasing volume of unemployment, a start must be made locally. A number of local authorities in the North are combining to present a petition to this House, asking that help should be given them in these days of stress. I only hope that when that petition is presented, some assistance will be given them, to prevent the problem becoming even worse than it is to-day. In some of the Northern centres we have from 40 per cent. to 60 per cent. of the population unemployed. As one hon. Member has said, we are not only losing the wealth which might be produced by the large volume of unemployed people, but we are demoralising the generation of young men and women who have never 820 been given the opportunity to work, and have an instinctive fear of work. I remember, in my own election campaign, having a special meeting for young men and women. An older man came to me afterwards and said that I would never get votes from these young people if I threatened them with jobs. It was rather an exaggeration, but those who have associated intimately with the younger generation cannot help seeing that these young people are more disinclined to work the longer they are denied employment. But we ought not to be too fatalistic. The first thing to do is to arrest the continued decline. The point at which to start is in the areas of the local authorities. The machinery is there, and plans are available. Long-term schemes must take a long time to begin. The local authorities, if they have money, can put their schemes into operation in a single week. I hope the outcome of this Debate will be that we shall see the urgent necessity of doing something at a time like this, and that the Ministry will do it as quickly as possible.
§ 7.1 p.m.
I join in supporting the Amendment as a protest against the Government's inactivity in dealing with this problem. After listening to the discussion for some time, I think that a lot depends on how this question is approached. I have always contended, as a member of this community, that I have one moral and proper right. That is the right to work. If work cannot be found for me, even by the State itself, then the State should be responsible for maintaining me and those dependent upon me until work is found. We are faced with proposals which make no endeavour to find men employment. At half-past three o'clock this afternoon I went with a deputation to the Ministry of Health to ask one of its Departments to deal with the question of an essential water supply for a mining district which has developed since 1929. It is a district where the rateable value is exceedingly low, and a water supply is bady needed. A scheme has been formulated. We hoped that the Government would give financial help, which would have made provision for unemployed men. We were told that no financial help is given to schemes of that kind.
821 The Government sit contented while 3,000,000 people are unemployed. They are not likely to find employment for one person. We could understand this if we were living in some countries, but we are living in the richest country in the world. I can see no reason why the Government should shed their responsibility for finding men proper work or maintenance—either the one or the other. Even in the state of our finances, bad as they are to-day, if we take the national income last year, it can make full provision for decent maintenance. The Government's activities all over the country, in dealing with transitional benefits for the men who have, unfortunately, had to go to the Poor Law, are interfering with the calm judgment of men who understand the conditions in the various districts. The Government arc replacing the activities of such men by commissioners, and are taking the commissioners' salaries out of the unemployed men. In our own West Riding of Yorkshire we have been threatened already that, unless there is restriction in the transitional benefits, it is possible that some of the powers of the committees will be taken away and commissioners put in the place of those committees. We are sitting here discussing this matter practically on the eve of Christmas, the birthday of our greatest Leader, who, when He came on earth, stated that He came to make life more abundant.
There is no Member of this House who will contradict the. statement that in the last 25 years production has increased tremendously, through scientific development, and that we have a surplus of nearly all the needs of life. That surplus cannot make its way to the unemployed men owing to the low payments they are receiving. Since the present Government took office—instead of encouraging and developing schemes essential and ncessary in all parts of the country to employ men—they have prevented local authorities from going forward with very necessary and essential schemes. We have had in Yorkshire two epidemic outbreaks owing to the absence of a proper water supply. We have tried this afternoon to get a proper water supply in a district where the local ratepayers cannot stand the burden. It is also necessary in that district to find men employ- 822 ment, and we are told that the Government have made no provision for such schemes. We make no apology for supporting this Amendment. We think that the Government stand condemned in the eyes of their own supporters. They made promises 12 months ago when they were sent here with a huge majority. They have had 12 months' test, and they have done less to cure unemployment, and less to alleviate the suffering of unemployed men and their families than any Government during the last 10 or 15 years. It is on these grounds that we support this Amendment, and I want to remind the Government that although the unemployed have kept peaceful, and their conduct has been admirable, yet there is a point where human nature sometimes revolts and rightly so. I think there are many Members of this House who, if they were in the ranks of the unemployed, would feel that the suffering they were undergoing would justify then in making demonstrations. We feel that the Government could have done more with their huge majority to develop industry and to allow the local authorities to go forward with essential and reasonable schemes. We support the Amendment as a condemnation of the Government's action in this matter, which is already admitted to be one of the greatest failures.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Colonel BROADBENT
It is more than 18 months since I was first elected to this House, and this is the first occasion on which I have taken any of the valuable time of this Chamber. I felt, however, this afternoon when we were discussing such an important question, that I must briefly state my view. I would like, in the first place, to congratulate the Minister of Labour for the very clear statement he made at the commencement of this Debate. I feel that everyone must be greatly pleased with the advance that the exports of this country have made during the last 12 months. I am sure that, if it had not been for a wise Government bringing certain measures to bear, we should have been in the same position as foreign countries, whereas, compared with them, we are very much better with regard to our exports. One can realise that the policy of the Government is a long policy. It is a policy to 823 provide employment by reducing overhead charges, and by reducing taxation. In my view, that is the only way in which unemployment can be permanently reduced. The Government, I am sure, are on the right lines in pursuing that course. No doubt, the action of America in demanding the payment of the instalment this month has retarded the work which the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government have been endeavouring to accomplish. President Hoover on the eve of America entering the War said:We shall have made untold millions out of the woe and swelter of Europe. The money which has come to us from these people is money in trust, and unless America recognises this trust she will pay dearly for its possession.Not only is she paying dearly for that money she got out of the "swelter of Europe," but everyone in this country is paying dearly to-day. The sooner the policy of the British Government—a policy which they have advocated so long—is accepted, the better it will be for everyone. To-day public works have been mentioned, and I agree with many of the speakers that it is very much better to pay for labour than it is to pay in doles. I would like to suggest to the Government that some of the works which have been undertaken, and which are. nearing completion—some of the roads and bridges up and down the country—should have been completed. It is better to pay wages than doles, as long as the work is of utility, and it is to be useful for the country. My own constituency is a purely cotton one. We have over 31 per cent. of people unemployed, and the sooner we realise the position of the cotton trade the better, I think, it will be for the country. There is not the same demand for cotton now, and there is keener competition.
During the last two years over 20 mills in my own district have closed down, and the machinery taken away. There is no come back for those mills. I would not like to say what is the actual percentage but I think that roughly 50 per cent. of the cotton trade has gone for ever. The Manchester Chamber of Commerce is making a valiant fight for the protection of this industry. May I appeal to Members of the Opposition, and to trade union leaders throughout the 824 country, that it is the duty of everyone to see that those who should be employed in this country are not kept out of employment by the unfair competition of countries which tolerate conditions which would not be allowed for moment in this country? Our people cannot live in the same way as Asiatics. Therefore, I appeal to everyone, no matter to what party he may belong or what his policy may be as regards Free Trade or Protection, to do his best to protect the British working man from suffering through the competition of Asiatic labour.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. GRAHAM WHITE
May I be allowed to congratulate the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Colonel Broadbent) on the speech with which he has just favoured the Committee. We have listened to him with great interest and shall be glad to hear him again whenever he thinks fit to address us. I do not propose to deal with the major portion of the Vote—namely, the sum of £18,000,000. We regret the necessity for having to vote such a sum, and we hope, whatever line, or lines, the Government are pursuing in order to promote employment, that this will be the last time we shall have to deal with a Vote of this magnitude. I desire to make one or two observations on the Vote for £10,000, because there appears to be a wide misconception as to the purpose of this sum. I have asked myself whether I should not have been better pleased if it had been larger, but I think it is sufficient for the purpose in view. It would not, of course, be sufficient for some of the purposes for which some hon. Members have thought it was intended. I welcome it because it is evidence that we are now realising the fact that idleness ought to be turned into a great opportunity to those who are unable to obtain work. In the Book of Ecclesiasticus you will find these words:The wisdom of learned men cometh by opportunity of leisure, and he that hath little business shall become Wise.Those are wise words, and, if we had acted upon them, the wisdom of this nation, as a result of the last 10 years, would be great indeed. The nation has neglected that opportunity, there has been a profound waste of human intellect and activity. This Vote is a recognition of that fact. There is a new spirit among the unemployed of this country. Hon. 825 Members have referred to manifestations of this new spirit in different forms. The spirit which I have in mind is a spirit which shows itself in a desire to do something for themselves, not looking to Governments to help them, but a profound interest in doing something to keep themselves fit. The unemployed are saying that they are not going to tolerate the degeneration of their bodily and mental fitness and, let the Government do what it will, they are going to do what they can to keep themselves right. The result is that there is springing up, almost spontaneously, in different parts of the country and in different forms a new movement which is expressing itself in various forms in various quarters. The hon. Member for Silver-town (Mr. J. Jones) spoke about charity. This movement would be killed by charity. The hon. Member I am afraid does not realise what he is talking about. This movement would be killed by patronage. One hon. Member appealed for a larger sum and urged that local authorities might give considerable sums for its development. The unemployed do not want local authorities in this matter, and a larger sum would be quite beyond the point.
Let me deal with the specific purposes for which the money is required. It is obvious that this is a spontaneous movement, not a political movement, and I associate myself entirely with what the Minister of Labour has said, that it is a movement out of which no one should seek or obtain political capital. From my own observations politicians are somewhat suspect: they are not. particularly wanted in the movement. In my belief it is a movement of great importance, and when we get back to normal conditions it has in it the elements of something big in our national life. It, may remain, when the problem of unemployment has become much less serious than it is, as a constructive and educational element in the social life of this country. It is quite clear that in a movement, arising in different parts of the country, led by different people of different classes of society, a. movement which takes different forms, mistakes will be made, and it is desirable that there should be a pooling of information as far as possible. Any organisation must not be thrust upon this movement, 826 because the essence of it is that it should be voluntary. But where experience has been gained there should be machinery to make that experience available for those who may be starting out on these adventures. It is for this purpose that this sum of money is asked, and I welcome it, as the beginning of a movement which may be of great importance.
As to the actual machinery I rather regret that the Minister has taken the course indicated. Several bodies have experience of this work, and have been instigators and pioneers in different parts of the country. The Society of Friends have been of great value, the British Institution of Adult Education have also done valuable work, and The Educational Settlements Association have held conferences and have tried to pool the information and experience they have gathered. I need say nothing of the value and experience of the National Society of Social Service, it is well known, and also the great influence it wields. But in my view not one of these bodies is of itself the ideal body for carrying out the work. The Minister of Labour has told us that he has given careful consideration to the suggestion that an ad hoc body should be appointed. He has information which is not available to the ordinary private Member and no doubt he has considered the matter in all its aspects, hut in my view, while each of these bodies have had valuable experience, there is not one which is acceptable to all the bodies of unemployed in all parts of the country. That leads me to the conclusion that it would have been better if the Minister had drawn from the experience of all these bodies and had appointed an ad hoc committee to deal with the matter.
I have seen something of this new movement, and I know the extraordinary benefits which are accruing to the unemployed. I have not visited any of these places, because politicians, as I have said, are not above suspicion, but let me give one example of the benefits resulting from the voluntary association of unemployed persons. I had the pleasure 10 days ago of listening to a most admirable orchestra concert played by musicians who have been out of work through the introduction of the "talkies," under a voluntary conductor, and who were playing together in this way instead of moping within the walls of their own 827 homes. That is an example of what can be done. In some cases the movement is taking a most unusual course; and it is certainly highly interesting. One finds, for instance, that an unemployed man receiving 15s. 3d. a week is asking whether he cannot make his income a good deal more than that. He perhaps cultivates an allotment or is proceeding by methods which take him further than that. He may go down to the sidings and get his own coal instead of sitting by his own fireside. It is in such directions as these that the unemployed are beginning to work, and all these directions are beneficial. The real significance and importance of this movement is that it is an attempt to organise the labour of the unemployed on a voluntary basis.
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken approached the question of this grant of£10,000 from a different angle than mine. I smiled at his remark about the man going down to the siding.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The hon. Member said it was all to the good, and I therefore thought he associated himself with it. I view this grant of £10,000 with a great deal of suspicion and a good deal of hostility. I hope I shall not he considered too critical in my remarks. I admit that the motive behind the people who are helping this movement is a human motive. They are people who feel that they are not doing their duty in allowing this unemployment to go on without interesting themselves in the question in some way or other. Their motive is one of human decency and sympathy with less fortunate people. Those of us who are critical of the movement admit that. But let me examine the movement itself. The Minister read from a pamphlet in which he quoted the Leader of the Opposition with approval. The Leader of the Opposition in a foreword to the pamphlet said that the movement must not run counter to or interfere with the ordinary labour that men and women have to do now. The Minister agreed with that proposition. What is happening? In different parts of the country 828 unemployed men are being taught to mend their own boots and clothes, and in some places, in Falkirk for instance, they are being taught to bake their own bread. In Falkirk it has been laid down strictly that if men bake their own bread they must not interfere with the trade of the bakers outside.
In all these schemes for baking bread, mending clothes, mending boots and doing one hundred other jobs, it is said "After all, the men may as well do that as idle away their time. It is not had that they should meet together and do these things." In some districts sports associations are formed. I have not much criticism of these. But take the case of the man who is taught to mend his own boots and those of his family. Can anyone stop a man who is able to mend his own boots from immediately thinking that he can mend other people's boots as well? You can no more keep him from entering into the old game of competing with someone else than you can keep science from moving forward. Of course, the man will do it; as soon as he acquires the knowledge he will apply it. It is a thing which must be constantly watched. It will drive men to work in places and under conditions more harmful than idleness. The moment a man learns how to mend his own boots, he will want to mend other people's boots and will want to sell his labour. He has no capital to rent a shop or to buy a machine. In his desire to acid to his income by mending boots he will do the work in his own house. It will become a sort of factory, without the supervision and knowledge of the factory inspector. That is what is happening.
While in this movement there is decent, human sympathy, while the sentimental motive behind it is good, what happens is that once this instruction is started those who receive it cannot be controlled, and they soon begin to compete with other people's work. If the Minister can tell me of any way by which people who do this work can be kept within the four walls of a little unemployment factory, I shall be pleased to listen to him, but in every one of these movements, poor people who are trained enter into competition with other people and very often drag those other people down to a lower level. There is another great danger to the unemployed in this movement. I asked the Minister when he was speaking 829 whether he intended to make the receipt of unemployment benefit conditional on acceptance of this kind of work. The right hon. Gentleman said "No." It is true that he has no regulations or bylaws in operation now, but when this movement gathers strength it will not end where it started. I see behind this movement something that in a year or two will become compulsory before a man can receive unemployment benefit.
The grant of the £10,000 has been heralded as something done. The hon. Member who spoke last said it was not patronage. What is it but patronage? Well-to-do people, well disposed people, I admit, are coming along and saying to other men and women: "We will give you financial help, moral help, to do this." It is the patronage of unfortunate people by well-to-do people. We have been told that politicians are suspect in the movement. They are not the only people who are suspect. I rather resent the suggestion that politicians are less honest than other people. They are just about the same as other folk; they may be better or worse. The judges sit on the bench and criticise the politicians. Heaven help the country if they measure out politics the way they measure out justice.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I wish the hon. Member would face realities. What is it now but patronage? Go to a district where the movement has not been started. There is no money available. The well-to-do people provide the money. That is patronage. Naturally, they want to see that the money is spent properly, and they become the leading people of the movement. There is one thing I cannot understand about this business, and it is a subject on which I seem to get at loggerheads with most people. One hears references to the moral deterioration of the unemployed. I do not know whether I am mentally constituted in a different way from other people, but I do not agree with one word that is said about moral deterioration. I was born and bred among the poorest element in the population, and I live among them yet. I mix with them and do not go anywhere else, and not only myself, but my wife and my family too. I cannot see any of this deterioration. There are 830 certain persons who no doubt meet the unemployed fairly regularly and who see their bad boots and bad clothes and their gaunt pale faces, and who talk about "deterioration." If they mean that the unemployed are deteriorating physically owing to lack of food, then I agree. Anybody who knows what it means to try to live on 15s. 3d. a week knows that these people must suffer from lack of food. That is the deterioration—not the moral deterioration which is sometimes suggested.
Then there is all this talk about work being uplifting. I have worked from 6 o'clock in the morning until half-past five at night. I have had to make a railway journey to my work, miles away from my home which meant leaving the house at half-past four in the morning and getting home at eight o'clock at night. Was that uplifting? It was uplifting to this extent, that the only thing which a man who, was working like that could think of was the Saturday afternoon off when he got blind drunk and spent the week-end in an orgy which was not creditable either to himself or anyone else concerned. Even yet I cannot see the force of this talk about the great moral uplifting influence of the work which these people have to do.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) can tell hon. Members about what goes on among these men at the docks, about the quarrelling and snarling and the competition to get jobs and the mean, low things which men will do to get jobs. If there was an income for the unemployed sufficient to keep these men in decent circumstances, you would find that the man who decided that he was not going to take part in that kind of thing would very often be a better moral type than the man who would engage in the meannesses which are often necessary to get such work. I have in my Division hundreds who have never worked since they left school. Some hon. Members speak about the problem of the 31 per cent., but in my Division we have men who have been out of work for 10 years. I know men who are married and have two children and who have never worked in their lives and they are good men, good husbands, good fathers, clean intelligent citizens. Then we find supercilious people, who have always had assured incomes, talking about deterioration.
831 These men do not need this £10,000 patronage from Parliament. If you give them an income they will make good use of their lives; they will do it better than you can do it for them. Some of them will take to religion. Very often these men have strong religious instincts. If they have a chance they will try to get to understand all about their religion. They will take up other subjects; they will try to understand Imperial questions. Some of them, who want to do so will take allotments. Some of them will want to play the violin. Others will want to play football. They will utilise their time better than any other person can utilise it for them. They will form voluntary associations or will make use of their religious connections or their trade union connections to provide themselves with opportunities and what they need is certainly not patronage from people however well disposed who talk about their deterioration. They could stand for Parliament, and, if they did so, they would do it with credit. What they need is income and, given income, they will make life decent and happy for themselves and all connected with them.
Some hon. Members talk rather glibly about deterioration, but I think the test in this respect, as in many respects, is the care of children. To-day in every big centre in the country offences against children and cases of ill-treatment of children are rapidly decreasing. Is that a proof of deterioration or loss of moral? People talk about the gambling craze and there is a gambling craze, but what is the motive behind it? The motive behind it is good. If a man cannot get an income in any other way the gambling craze presents him a chance of getting what every man in this Committee, I am sure, thinks is desirable, namely, the means of obtaining the decencies of life for his family. Those who are out of work just as much as those who are in work, want to care for their children. I view with great suspicion the provision of this £10,000. You are doing what you have done in the past. You are proposing to train certain groups of men and the very training which you give them means that they will drift into unregulated competition with their fellows which are presently at work.
To turn to another point in the Minister's statement, he told us that trade 832 was not so bad as one might think. But what does this Estimate represent? It is an Estimate for £19,000,000 more for these purposes, but the most significant point about it, although mentioned by the Minister, has not been dealt with in this discussion. The Government have saved £1,000,000 on stamps. That means £1,000,000 in ninepences, and each nine-pence represents a week's work. That figure means that the work available for the people went down by millions of weeks more than is represented. There is another astounding thing in this connection. The hon. Member for Chesterle-Street (Mr. Lawson) put the point extremely well when he said that the number of those who have been more than 12 months out of work had risen from 120,000 to 420,000, in round figures. There is another figure which ought to be remembered—the figure given by the Minister, of the number on transitional benefit. That number we are told has increased by roughly 150,000.
It is becoming clearer and clearer that there are hundreds of thousands of men who will never work. When I hear statements about public works schemes and road making and so forth I am irritated not because these things in themselves are bad—if the nation wants a road let the road be built—but because they are so small, and you have this 500,000 who may never work again. I am not at liberty on this occasion to discuss the rival theories of individualism and Socialism and I am not going to do so, but the indictment which I make against the Government is that they are running this system and not me and my colleagues and not the Labour party. To these people who are suffering under it, the awful thing is not unemployment but poverty, and the great indictment against the Government is that they are making the same people carry the whole burden of poverty. What have these 500,000 people done that they should have to bear the whole consequences of the failure of your trade? Everybody admits that it is not their fault and that it is due to world conditions, or to what used to be called the economic blizzard—though that phrase has passed out of use and we are looking for a description of something more permanent than a blizzard.
Why should these people permanently bear the burden? It is said that this 833 country cannot spend any more money than is being spent on the unemployed. Well, even admitting that, why should this half million people be sentenced to bear all the burden? If you come to the conclusion that they are of no use, then say that you intend to kill them—because that is what you are doing now. You are not feeding them, and they are dying by slow and gradual means of one kind and other. If you have no intention of feeding them, then say so. But if we are to have an unemployed army of this kind then at least let us all share the poverty. Do not resort to the mean and miserable shift of making a half million or a million people bear all the poverty. Share it out. By the present procedure we are asking these people to bear the whole brunt of the battle.
There is one other aspect to which I wish to refer. I would like to ask the Minister how much in this Estimate represents costs of administration. We have never yet got from the Minister actual facts about the cost of administering the means test. We have always been put off. What are the actual costs of the means test? I cannot speak for the whole country, but I can speak for what I know, and I say that you are setting up a very costly administrative machine. I had to smile at the right hon. Gentleman talking about the virtues of paying out of current revenue and not borrowing. He has very seldom done it, and he does not do it half as well as the Dominions Secretary. He buttons up his jacket and chucks out his chest and says, "We have stopped borrowing." He and I, I hope, have got beyond that stage. He knows that all the other Governments have borrowed and that none of them intended to repay. There is no difference between their borrowing and his paying. None of them intended to pay the money back at all, and he knows as well as I do that his most capable officials were all waiting for that period when the whole thing would be repudiated. There was no virtue in either borrowing or in paying out of revenue, because every Tory knows that if you borrow, you get to the point where you cannot repay, and therefore it has to be met out of current revenue.
The great tragedy of this Vote is that it represents £19,000,000 for extra unemployment benefit. It has been said that it represents payment out of current revenue, but all the payments are out of 834 current revenue. The workmen's contributions are out of current revenue, so are the employers', and so are the State's contributions. You may jumble it up, and cross-circuit it, and make as much argument about it as you like, but in the end it has got to come out of the gross productivity of the nation. This Vote represents the tragedy of an increase in the numbers of people without a decent income in this country. Its figures for transitional payment show decent men and women being harassed by a cruel means test, and in the nature of things that test must become more cruel. The virtue of the transitional payments is that they save money. Everyone knows that next year, when wages fall still further, with the railwaymen and so on, there will be less for the means test to save, because wage rates will go down, and what will happen then? The same sum will need to be saved, and it only means that a more strict administration will be entered into.
We view this estimate of £10,000 for voluntary efforts with the gravest suspicion, and I will certainly vote against its being granted. We think the unemployed do not need charity from anyone. We think they need decent social justice. Give them the conditions and the income that other people possess. They are as good as any other section of the community, and I want to say that, so far as I am concerned, and I hope so far as the unemployed are concerned, they will not take patronage of any kind from any section of the community, but will insist on their rights as citizens; and if the nation cannot find them decent work to do, then the nation should be compelled to find decent means of support for them.
§ 8.6 p.m.
§ Mr. SLATER
The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) can always be relied upon to introduce subjects which are interesting, and to-night he has brought out particularly the likely effect of granting this £10,000. He has also put down a great plank of argument on the inadequacy of the amount which is now given as unemployment benefit or transitional payment. I do not think there is a Member of this House who would not readily, if we could afford it, grant additional assistance to the unemployed, but I would like hon. Members who have spoken to-day on what is, after all, a miniature Vote of Censure on the Government to 835 realise what was the position a year ago. When the National Government took charge, we were undoubtedly in a position of gravity with a far-reaching influence, not only on the standard of life in this country, but on its continued existence as an industrial nation. It is not a question of giving more to-day. We on the Conservative back benches are anxious that we may not have to give less. I am, therefore, rising largely with a message of sympathy in the distressing conditions in which the Minister of Labour finds himself in having to come to this Committee for this very large Supplementary Estimate.
We have heard many views put forward as to the reasons for this large amount being necessary, and suggestions have been made as to how the Government might give more freedom to public authorities to spend money. I wonder whether hon. Members really think His Majesty's Government are deliberately blocking wise spending by local authorities. I do not believe they are, but I believe in, and ask them to maintain, a policy of not allowing local authorities to create such expenditure as will place a burden on the industries of this country, either directly or indirectly. Let us think for a moment of what the great conflagration of the War meant in its effects on the industrial life of this country. It is computed by economists that something like £50,000,000,000 were spent on the War by belligerent and nonbelligerent nations. But how has the War left us? It has left us under a huge burden of taxation, arising out of an increase in the National Debt, which is having the most harmful and destructive possible influence on every phase of our industrial production, and creating an increase in costs by the wasteful expenditure of local authorities. It is putting on to the backs of our industrialists every day a handicap in finding further foreign markets, which is reflected—whether it be the case of a boot manufacturer, a woollen manufacturer, a shipbuilder, or a motor car manufacturer—in the aggregate of products that we are producing.
There is such a large measure of taxation, when you come to compare the proportion of taxation in the completed article, that you find us greatly handicapped against countries like Germany, which have practically wiped out their 836 internal indebtedness and which are now going to be free, if the Lausanne Conference is finally ratified, to have a position, vis à vis ourselves, that is a menace to our manufacturers. We come back, if we are judging this thing rightly, to one important matter about which people who are managing industries in this country are really concerned. First of all, we must admit that science has forged ahead and produced machines which have the power and the result of putting people out of work, but is it finally going to be a detriment to humanity? There are great social changes coming over this world, but there is one great social question of East and West which I venture to predict is the gravamen of all future planning of our national industry.
We cannot sell anything from this country except the manufactured articles which are the products of our great basic industries, and we find that while in Europe there are many countries, few of them can take those goods. There has been the development of industry there along with our own, and if we look out for the possibility of marketing the products of the labour of those who are engaged in these great staple industries, we find greater and greater difficulties in the way of securing a definite and permanent avenue for placing those goods. Then we look at the East, that great concourse of people, 1,000,000,000 souls, who do not understand why since the War silver has "gone pot," if I may use the expression. They do not understand why we have been trying to sell our services out to them at 100 to 300 per cent. more than pre-war, and they, as a reward for their services in their own occupations, have not had a half of 1 per cent. increase in their wages with which to buy our goods. Is it to be wondered at that there is an atmosphere for Gandhi and that there is strife in China? I do not wonder at it.
Those who have a heartfelt interest in the industrial life of this country and who are looking ahead to find an output for our industries, recognise that we cannot go down to the standard of life of the East nor bring the life in the East up to the standard of life here. There are great hazards there to be bridged. Can we ever bridge this great gulf by making things dearer? Is not the gravamen of our position that we must go on and on bringing down the cost of motor cars, 837 cotton goods and everything else, so that we can bring back the great purchasing power of the East. That is the real plan of British industrialists. We have to recognise that we must create new industries. I might go so far as to say that what are luxuries to the bulk of us to-day may become necessities to-morrow. The whole future of our country lies in our power to create new industries. We are not behind in this, and England is not second to any country. There is a message of hope if we reflect on the development of the radio, the gramophone, artificial silk and many other things. It is a message of hope that we are not backward, but we need more of such development.
We are having a good deal of discussion to-day because the Government are having to foot a bill which they inherited. From whom was it inherited? The industrialists of this country, who knew the position in which we were 10 and even 20 years ago, saw machines going to all parts of the world and being manned by labour which was rewarded by anything from one-fifth to one-tenth of what we paid to our workers, to rob us of the markets we had and to enable the countries to which the machines went to become a menace in their power to export. I need give only one instance, Japan. Machinery superior in its modernity and equipment to our own was sent out there and it was manned by cheap labour. The industry in Japan was managed without individualism. The individualism of the past may at this juncture be one of the greatest curses we can have in modern business. We have to take regional and large views. Japan has narrowed the cotton industry down to four or five units and built up a pyramid on machinery which we have provided from Lancashire, until her production not only satisfies her own wants, but spreads over the Malay States, Africa, Kenya and every part of the world, where she is undermining our own markets.
How are we to meet that position? There are certain big bastions to which the Government must stick. They must see to it that on no account will they allow taxation, which is already crushing our power to compete, to be increased. They must never forget the burden to 838 industrial life of the high proportion of national and local taxation. We want to give a message of hope and encouragement to the Government. The Minister of Labour gets lots of kicks, but he has handled the means test in a commendable way. We must acknowledge that the working man who is willing to work and cannot find it becomes an obligation to the State. I do not shirk that responsibility in the least. I plead with hon. Members of the Opposition to realise that it is not by way of increasing what is already overburdening that we can help the unemployed. It is not by putting further burdens on industrial life that we shall get back to prosperity. We shall only do it by looking facts in the face and by seeing the intolerable burdens under which industry is groaning and by helping industry to produce as much as it can.
I entirely agree with those people who are against a reduction of wages. I do not believe that that is the avenue out, but rather that with higher wages we shall get an improvement, though there must be production commensurate with the higher wages. To increase production, we must apply all our technique and science and all the energy we have at our command. Industry is the foundation on which this country must either progress or go back, and we must give it all the assistance for which industrialists are pleading. We must give it adequate protection in its own markets. If it is worth protecting at all, industry is worth protecting adequately. If we do that, if we see that the industries that we have created are protected and those who have been engaged in them are given the opportunity again to be employed under fair competitive conditions, we shall make a gigantic step forward towards relieving the Government of the great burden of many of the unemployed who are calling upon them for the dole. I suggest that the Government are carrying out a policy of sanity, and I commend them for the tenacity with which they are hanging on to their programme of national economy, so that taxation in this country may not be a burden to those whose means of livelihood are dependent on the policy of the Government.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ Mr. BATEY
With very much of what the last speaker said I agree. I was interested in his plea for a development of trade, and I only wish that he had carried his argument to the Government and said to them, "Tell us what you are doing to help trade." Speeches in this House will not go very far unless we press the Government to help forward the development of trade. He said the Government are pursuing a sane policy. There, I completely disagree with him. So far as unemployment is concerned the Government are pursuing one of the most insane policies that any Government could carry out. Just after the formation of the National Government the Lord President of the Council said they would be judged by what they did for unemployment. If this Supplementary Estimate, presented after they have been 15 months in office, is to be the criterion by which they are judged—well, it is not a very happy Christmas box for the Government. There can be no question that this Supplementary Estimate shows the foolishness of their policy in the administration of unemployment insurance, shows their failure to deal with unemployment, and makes crystal clear the fraud that occurred 12 months ago. The hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Slater) said we could remember 12 months ago. We can indeed remember 12 months ago, and this Supplementary Estimate shows the absolute fraud of the last General Election. That election was brought about by the large sums of money the Treasury had to pay to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. At that time the Treasury were finding £52,000,000 a year for it. This Estimate shows that they are now finding £83,000,000 a year—an increase of £31,000,000, after a crisis and a General Election which threw a party out of power. There can be no question that it was the Treasury payments to the Unemployment Insurance Fund that caused that crisis. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking at that time, said:There was a widespread impression in foreign countries not confined to any one country in particular, that the root of the financial trouble in this country was the condition of the Unemployment Insurance Fund. They were convinced that unless the Government of this country did intend to make the necessary reform in that fund by putting it on a proper insurance basis 840 it was quite probable that confidence would not be restored.Now, after 15 months, the fund is still in the condition it was then. There has been no attempt to organise it properly, and it is costing the Treasury £31,000,000 more. The Labour party are entitled to an apology from somebody.
§ Mr. BATEY
And damages. I want to examine this Supplementary Estimate, because not -only is it interesting but it has its lessons. There are three items in it which I wish to consider; first, the item of £12,600,000 for transitional payments and the relative cost of administration; second, the payment of £10,000; and, third, the saving of £1,000,000. In regard to the saving of £1,000,000, I agree with the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) that it is a meaner thing than the means test. To save £1,000,000 by cutting unemployed workmen in huge numbers completely off the fund is no credit to the Government. If they can find any credit in it they are welcome to it. I came in to-day while the Minister of Labour was speaking, and did not hear the early part of his speech, but I was in time to hear his account of the £10,000 which is to be given to a charity organisation. One of the worst ways of dealing with public money is to give it to a private charity organisation. I am not surprised at their action, although only a fortnight ago the Parliamentary Secretary said this in reply to a question regarding the National Service League:The Government attach the greatest importance to the development of these voluntary efforts, and has invited the council to act as the central national body for this purpose. I should make it clear that the work is essentially voluntary and unofficial, and the council will not be in any sense an agent of the Ministry."—[OFFCIAL REPORT, 28th November. 1932; col. 472, Vol. 272.]We did not believe at that time that there was any thought of giving public money to this organisation. The plain inference from what the Parliamentary Secretary said was that no money would be given, because it was a purely voluntary service. Still, some of us knew even on the day the Parliamentary Secretary answered the question that things would not rest there, and when we come to look at the personnel of this National Service League, to see who is the presi- 841 dent and who are the committee, and note among them so many wives of Members of the Cabinet, we are not surprised at this £10,000 being in the Supplementary Estimate. The President of the League is the Marchioness of Londonderry.
§ Mr. HUDSON
I am afraid the hon. Member has got two entirely different things muddled up. The grant is £10,000 to the National Council for Social Service.
§ Mr. BATEY
I am glad of that contradiction, and I am glad that the Parliamentary Secretary has stopped me from going any further. I thought that it was the League which had been started under the patronage of the Prime Minister. One concluded that it was the same, and one apologises for anything that one has said in regard to that League. My experience of the unemployed is that they do not want charity. They want maintenance. We on this side stand, and have always stood, for work or maintenance. We consider that when the Government on the one hand are reducing unemployment benefit, they should not, on the other hand, give £10,000 to a charity organisation in order that they may help the unemployed. That is not the way to deal with the unemployed. Besides, this is an innovation. The Minister of Labour told us in his last speech that no less than 17 methods of dealing with the unemployed had been tried. One disagrees with many of those methods. I had no faith in transference, and I had not a great deal of faith in training, although training was much more important than transference. Some of the things that have been started and to which the Government are lending their countenance will not help the unemployed, nor are they the things that the unemployed need. When the Minister was speaking on the last occasion he said:We have started an experiment, it is true on a small scale, but we have started it to see whether it will be of any use, and I think it is extremely promising. It is the experiment of physical training for young unemployed men."—[OFFCIAL REPORT, 4th November, 1932; col. 2151, Vol. 269.]842 The Minister mentioned that again to-day. For the Government to encourage physical training where young lads may learn boxing is an insult to the unemployed. I confess that I have never been enthusiastic about the work of a very important, well-meaning organisation that is helping the unemployed with allotments. The money that is given to the unemployed ought to be diverted into the one channel of relieving the unemployed directly, and not by these side ways. The money ought to be devoted to that, and private charity ought to be left alone. I have a letter from an unemployed man in which he deals with this aspect of the question. The letter is worth taking notice of. It says:What have our politicians done to cure unemployment? They have advocated allotment development, road making and various other schemes. Cold comfort for the skilled craftsman to be told that there might be a chance for him to raise cabbages later on. Probably the crowning achievement of the politicians has been to provide rest rooms for the unemployed. Rest rooms, mark you, for men itching for work. Draughts for fingers quivering for a crinkling wage packet. Dominoes to distract the mind from hungry wives and kids. What Gilbertian mockery! What hell is this?The Government are completely failing, in turning their attention to assisting this charity organisation in order that the charity organisation can assist the unemployed. I believe that a much better way is for all the money that the Government can afford to be given to the unemployed directly, and not through any charity organisation. If the Government can afford to give money to the charity organisation, they ought to increase the unemployment benefit which they reduced. They ought to bring the unemployment benefit back to the old figure. So much of the money of the Unemployment Fund in the past has been devoted to one side show or another, instead of being given directly to the unemployed. I notice that the Supplementary Estimate says that the £10,000 is an initial cost. I want to ask the Minister whether the Department have in their minds that this £10,000 will not be sufficient. When a Department have an "initial cost" in an Estimate, it seems to suggest that before we know where we are the Department will be along again with a far bigger demand. The Minister might tell us what his Department have in their minds, whether the £10,000 is only a start and whether, be- 843 fore the winter is over, they will have to increase it and give very much more than £10,000?
I want to say a word or two more in regard to that part of the Supplementary Estimate which deals with £12,600,000, a figure which includes grants for transitional payments and the relative cost of administration. I want rather to press the point which was put by one of my colleagues, the hon. Member for Chesterle-Street (Mr. Lawson) this afternoon. The increasing costs of administration of the Unemployment Insurance Fund reflect no credit upon the Conservative Government. It was in 1927 that the Conservative Government took steps to increase that cost. They increased the cost of the court of referees four times. They took steps to increase the cost for the umpire's court four times. When a Conservative Government is in power, it never seems to hesitate about the cost of administration or what administration means. The steps that have been taken simply show a recklessness on the part of the Department and no care for what is going to be the cost of administration. For the Government to have appointed a first commissioner in Durham at £1,200 a year is simply wicked. In addition to the £1,200, there is subsistence allowance and other expenses. We would like to get to know what the actual costs of the Commissioners are for the short time they have been in Durham. I venture to say that, when we do get the total bill, the House will be staggered at the increased cost of administration, which was unnecessary, and due to the recklessness of the Department. There is £1,200 for the chairman, £700 for each of the other commissioners, and £600 and £700 for the chief clerks.
If, as my hon. Friend said to-day, rumour is correct, and the cost is anywhere near £20,000 a year, we know that thesecommissionersare bound to set themselves to save over £20,000 a year, because they will know that, unless they save more than their costs, they will not be kept. It simply means, therefore, that they are going to rob the unemployed in Durham in order to save their salaries and expenses. That is a principle which ought never to be encouraged, and which even a National Government should be above encouraging. Money has been saved already in a way that is not creditable to the commissioners. I have a case 844 here, that of an ex-service man who has a son 18 years of age at work. In one week that lad's wages were only £1 1s. 8d., and in another week £1 4s. 9d., and the off-takes which are deducted at the colliery office, including National Health and Unemployment Insurance contributions, amount to 3s. 2d. a week. Nevertheless, this man tells me that the clerk who was hearing the case —he did not see the commissioners—refused to take those off-takes into consideration.
§ Mr. DICKIE
The hon. Member knows that that case is sub judice. The case, which is in my constituency, has been submitted to the Ministry of Labour, and I am not sure that the hon. Member is quite entitled, in the circumstances, to refer to it.
§ Mr. BATEY
I cannot allow the hon. Member to dictate as to what I shall refer to. In this case the clerk refused to take into consideration the off-takes, amounting to 3s. 2d., although they ought to be taken into consideration by the commissioners. The Minister of Labour says that he has no power over the commissioners, that the commissioners' decision is final. I agree that the rules laid down for the public assistance committees say that their decision is final, and presumably those rules apply also to the commissioners; but, if the Minister has no power, as he says, to interfere with the decision of the commissioners, why should he interfere with the decisions of the public assistance committee? It was because the Minister interferred with the decisions of the public assistance committee that the public assistance committee is no longer acting, and the commissioners are substituted for it. So long as the Minister claims the right to take the extreme step of supplanting a public assistance committee if it does not give decisions in keeping with what he considers they ought to be, then he has the right to insist that the commissioners also shall either do what he wishes or be removed. The Minister is not justified in leaving the commissioners to themselves. This is, perhaps, the first time that we have had the chance of discussing the appointment of commissioners in Durham—a step which, in my opinion, is not a wise or a good step.
§ Sir JOSEPH NALL
On a point of Order. Does the appointment of commissioners in supersession of a public assistance committee arise on this Vote for expenditure on unemployment benefit?
§ Sir J. NALL
Do I understand that the hon. Member is objecting to the lessened cost of administration?
Mr. BAT EY
No; I am objecting because the appointment of commissioners means an increase in the cost of administration, and in my opinion the cost of administration of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, even before they were appointed, was ridiculous. The cost of administration of the Unemployment Insurance Fund is far too high. There are over 100 men getting over £1,000 a year, and it is there that we might save in the cost of administration; but, instead of doing that, the Government are taking a deliberate step that means a big increase. If they look back at the early days of the administration of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, they will find that it was administered in those days just as well as it is now, and at much less cost. I am not sure that the Department would riot be wise to get their minds back to the old rota committees, before we had the courts of inquiry and the Umpire's courts, with deputy-umpires, as we have now. At times like the present, the Department is not justified in taking any step that increases the cost of administration. One is bound to come back to the other position and ask the Minister what can be done to lessen the army of unemployed. They have done nothing for 15 months. In spite of everything that has been said at that Box, we are no farther forward than when the Government took office. I urge them to spend the Recess in seeking out some way of helping the unemployed to get back to work, because in my opinion that is the best way to reduce these Estimates.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Captain FULLER
I was rather surprised to hear the hon. Member deprecate the action of the Government in providing this, small sum of £10,000 to assist a social organisation in the work of alleviating the conditions of the unemployed. Last month I asked the Government to give a lead in the matter. I am not so presumptuous as to suggest that they took the slightest notice of what I said, but it is gratifying to know that they have taken this step to assist one of the national social organisations in this great work. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) deprecated the fact that this sum and the efforts that these associations are making are nothing more than the patronage of the rich. That is perfectly absurd, because there is no class of the community that helps the poor and distressed so much as the poorer classes. I read not long ago that all the policemen in one town in the South of England had agreed to make a voluntary contribution to local unemployment works and schemes,
I for one welcome the action that the Government have taken, although the sum is out of all proportion to the work that has to be done, and I should like to see it very greatly increased. All the organisations that are working in this connection are, in my view, a manifestation of the nation-wide recognition of the seriousness of the problem and the desire on the part of our people to do something for those unfortunate ones who need help. I should like to ask the Government if it is not possible for them to do something with unemployment insurance itself. We are paying £120,000,000 or more a year in unemployment relief, and we arc actually putting no one into work. Surely it is not outside the wit of man, or of a Government Department, to utilise the money to put people in work instead of leaving them in idleness. I read this morning that it was likely that on 1st January 6,000 more agricultural labourers may be put out of employment because the farmers are unable to pay them the statutory wage. Surely this is a case where the relief that will have to be paid eventually might be used in some way to assist them. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade last week was horrified that anyone should make. 847 such a suggestion. He envisaged employers making a wrong use of this money and so taking the whole advantage.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman that this cannot be done without legislation.
§ Captain FULLER
I bow to your Ruling, Sir. I merely suggested that it might be done. I want more than anything to speak of the disappointment that I have always felt, in these Debates on unemployment, at the fact that we have never considered what are the causes underlying this great economic evil. I cannot remember an instance when we went into the matter thoroughly. We have always been satisfied with the discussion of the ameliorative measures that have been taken. I should like to suggest that one of the main causes of unemployment is the fact that we have been indiscriminately lending abroad for so long. I mention this, because I am somewhat alarmed at the idea that has been suggested on all sides of the House that one way out of our difficulty is to start lending again. In order to fortify my argument, I suggest that we should look for a moment at the trading accounts of one or two other countries. In 1931 the Argentine exported to us £52,000,000 worth of goods and took £14,000,000 worth. Australia exported to us £45,000,000 and took £14,000,000. Canada exported £32,000,000 worth and imported from us £20,000,000 worth. New Zealand exported £37,000,000 worth and took £11,000,000 worth.
We shall be told that these countries have been struggling to obtain a favourable balance of trade, but that is a spectacle which every country is supplying the world with at present. Every country is struggling to get a favourable balance of trade although such a thing is impossible of attainment. If you have a favourable balance in one country, you must have an unfavourable balance somewhere else. As a matter of fact, we ourselves are engaged in this endeavour to obtain a favourable balance of trade. The papers have recently been making great play of the fact that we have reduced our unfavourable balance by something like £80,000,000 or £90,000,000. Of course, nothing of the sort has happened. The reasons which actuate ourselves and these debtor countries are opposite, be- 848 cause they are endeavouring to pay interest on their borrowings from us, and we are endeavouring to obtain a favourable balance of trade, so that we can carry on the traditional policy which we have followed for the last 150 years of lending abroad. The fact is reflected in the efforts in which every debtor country in the world is indulging. In the first place, we find them all striving to decrease their imports, and, of course, if they are successful in this, it is obvious that they are going to injure our own export trade. In the second place, they are striving to increase their exports, and, if they are successful in that, it is obvious that their goods exported to this country are going to compete with our home market and so create unemployment. The third manifestation is that they are all, almost without exception, raising still further high tariff walls to prevent foreign goods from entering their country. We must recognise, when we realise this, that the fact that we were able to obtain any tariff concessions at all at Ottawa is nothing short of miraculous. Everyone, in fact, is engaged in the same process.
Every debtor is endeavouring to manufacture for export in order to pay interest charges on investments, and, as a result, apart from all the other causes of the world depression, such as the maldistribution of gold, prices are still further depressed and unemployment results in every country in the world. Exports must be made somehow by the debtor countries. They have these obligations to meet, and meet them they must or default. In many cases it has become immaterial to them whether they export for profit or not, and, as a result of all this, we see that most remarkable phenomenon of dumping arising. The effect on our own trade and people because we have followed this policy of indiscriminate foreign investment has been quite serious, and is obvious. In the first place, we were so busy producing for export in order to obtain a favourable balance of trade that in consequence we had to accept the import of foreign foodstuffs. That policy was successful and probably more advantageous than the food that we could have produced here. But later, after we had made further investments in those countries and so assisted in their inflated develop- 849 ment, it became necessary for them to produce more agricultural produce for export, and, as a result of that policy, we see in our own country to-day the distressing feature of practically the ruin of our whole agricultural industry.
The whole case does not rest there, because our pendings have continued, and, consequently, further interest obligations have arisen. Almost every country in the world is developing into an industrial country, because that is the only way in which they can produce sufficient goods for export in order to meet the interest charges on the investments made in their country. The Government should look into this matter. I put it forward as my small contribution to the problem of unemployment. I am not so much concerned with the administration of the Unemployment Acts or anything of that nature, but I want to see the causes tackled at their roots. There is something much more important than the maldistribution of gold, the War, and Reparations and Debts. I hope that the Minister will be able to persuade his colleagues to take an impartial look at the question and to investigate it. I am fully confident that, if he does so, he will receive the same surprise as I did. I do not confess to be an economist. As a very back bencher, I, like every other back bencher, have opportunities for listening and thinking on a very generous scale. I have been endeavouring to discover the root causes of this problem, and I now put forward the suggestion that they are, in very large measure, the effects which indiscriminate, misguided and undirected investment abroad is now having on the employment of our people at home.
§ 9.10 p.m.
§ Major PROCTER
I was amazed at the criticism by the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) of the modest salaries paid to the commissioners, especially in view of the very high salaries paid to the officials of the county council which is under Socialist control. I am not unmindful of the fact that his constituency is somewhere in the neighbourhood of Chester-le-Street, and it is not many years ago that, owing to the abuses which took place in that constituency, commissioners were found to be a very cheap investment in comparison with the 850 magnificent Poor Law relief given before. The hon. Gentleman is unmindful of the fact that the National Government were not elected to pass popular Measures, but to do the things which are right. It is obvious that that is the distinguishing mark between his party and ours. The National Government do that which is good for the next generation and not for the next election.
§ Major PROCTER
Not long ago in West Ham it was necessary to appoint commissioners because under Socialistic control the ratepayers got into debt to the tune of some £2,000,000. There were a great number of unemployed there, and as soon as they appointed a commissioner unemployed to the number of some 60,000 obtained work. If there is this outcry against the means test and against the administration of unemployment benefit because they are to be in the hands of Government officials, what will be the outcry when every department in human life in this country is put under Government officials?
§ Major PROCTER
The hon. Member was not present during the time that the hon. Member for Spennymoor was complaining that these things were being put into the hands of Government officials. I would also like to remind the party opposite that we are rather tired on this side of the House—
§ Major PROCTER
I am not going to be led aside. We are tired of it being made out that we have no sympathy with the unemployed. If it, were possible to increase the scale of benefit, if the financial situation of the country permitted an increase of benefit to any degree, we on this side of the House, equally with those on the other side, would vote for that increase. The hon. Gentleman knows well that only a year ago the Unemployment Fund was getting into debt at the rate of £1,000,000 per week. It was for that reason, not because of the amount that was paid to the unemployed, but because of the lack of confidence and the lighthearted way in which the Labour 851 party dispensed public funds, that we lost our national credit. It was the reason people abroad were taking their money away from our banks, and the reason there was a crisis. [An HON. MEMBER: "Was there a crisis?"] Yes, there must have been a crisis, because I cannot understand any Cabinet Minister on the other side giving up his salary if there was not a crisis. It was a crisis which resulted, not only in the overthrow of the Labour party, but in the overwhelming return of a sound and sane Government, content to do the right thing rather than the popular thing. That Government turn away from the passing trivialities of the hour and the vote-catching methods of hon. Members opposite and do that which is for the good of this country, not simply this year but for years to come.
I strongly resent the campaign throughout the country which seeks to make out that we are wicked capitalists, whose aim is to crush the poor, who have no sympathy for the unemployed; that we are on the side of the masters and do not care a hang what happens to those people who at this moment are looking through a mist of tears at their bread and butter problem. If there is to be any imputing of motives, may I remind hon. Members opposite that they have a child's view of the whole situation. They have the view of the child who is always asking its father or mother for a penny or sixpence. I suppose the child thinks that the father or mother is a very cruel sort of person if they do not give it what it wants, although they have to balance their accounts.
The party opposite, by the indiscriminate folly of their policy and clamour are producing a spineless race of young men and young women, who will look to them to feed them instead of relying upon their own efforts. When I fought in West Ham I went to one house and knocked at the door. The man who answered the door said: "What do you want?" I replied: "I have come to ask for your vote." He replied: "You are not of my party, lad." "Why not?" I asked. "Well," he replied, "before your party came in, I got £3 5s. a week and did nothing, and now I am only getting £2 14s. and I have to work three days a week for it." That is the sort 852 of mentality which is produced by the indiscriminate use of public money. History records that Rome fell just in that way, with the exception that in those days the Roman senators, in order to get the votes of the people, gave away their own money. The modern way of getting votes is to give away public money.
While I approve of what the National Government have clone in this matter, I hope that we shall try to carry on the same policy in order to get our people back to work. I am glad to say that the Government's policy is producing its effects in my own division. The Government's firm policy in India has resulted in some 5,000 men and women finding jobs. They could not find work so long as there were men going to that division and saying: "Hands off India"; "Hands off China." At the same time their policy was putting hands off the Lancashire cotton mills. I hope the Government will pursue a firth policy, in India, because it is only by firmness—
§ Major PROCTER
The Government's policy has resulted in the reduction of unemployment, and that has resulted in a diminution of the number of men and women who require transitional payment. Less sums will be required in future for unemployment benefit, particularly in my own area, if the Government can see their way to permit the Colonial trade in cotton goods to be the monopoly of this country. If we could get the trade with our Colonies, if we could co-operate with our Colonies in the same way that France is co-operating with Algiers, and America with her Colonies, we could solve the unemployment problem so far as the cotton trade is concerned, and we should then not require unemployment or transitional payment. If by the united wisdom of the legislatures of Europe, America and the world we could come together for about six months and decide upon a six-hour day—
§ Major PROCTER
I hope that by endeavouring to restore trade, as the Government have already restored confidence, we shall require less money for these purposes, and that we can go forward steadfastly to make the lot of the unemployed better than it has been in the past. I rejoice in the fact that the standard of life of the unemployed in England to-day is higher and has more amenities attached to it than the standard of life in other countries. I hope the Labour party will help in these matters and that, by trying to stop strikes and the demonstrations that are going on up and down the country, which are diminishing our credit, they will make it possible that less and less money will be required for unemployment. Less money will certainly be required when we restore prosperity, and I hope that they will help us to do that.
§ 9.23 p.m.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I regret very much that the Debate to-night has not aroused more interest in the Committee. I blame no one in particular and no party in particular, but I should have thought that a Debate of this kind, the last we shall have for seven weeks, concerning the wellbeing of probably 3,000,000 or more of our people, would have elicited more anxiety on the part of hon. Members who represent industrial areas to put the case for their constituents. I cannot think that anybody is satisfied with the condition in which the country finds itself. We are all agreed that the position is very difficult and very critical and that nothing of any permanent value is being done. I should like also to remind the Committee that it is no use discussing this question as if it was a post-war question, something which has come into our lives as a consequence of the War. The problem that we are dealing with to-night, transitional payments and unemployment benefit, has been discussed and legislated about for the past 25 years.
A great deal has been said to-night about the future, and getting back to certain conditions. I do not want to get back to those conditions. I lived through the pre-war period of active politics mainly concerned, as far as my constituency goes, with the problem of unemployment. Now people are taking sonic satisfaction to themselves because in that part of East London from which I come the latest researches prove that 854 there are only a quarter of a million people living below the borderline and that the poverty of those people arises largely through unemployment. I cannot but feel that if the House of Commons would really sit down and consider the problem we might be able to answer the hon. Member who a little while ago asked as to the causes of unemployment and that we could come to some sort of agreement about them. You cannot go on expending money merely keeping people alive. You are not keeping them in decent physical health, but are just keeping them alive. You cannot go on with that sort of policy and expect the country to be prosperous or peaceful.
The fact is that most of us agree about one or two things. We agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Ardwick (Captain Fuller) that when he spoke about foreign investments and foreign trade he put his finger on one of the weak spots of the present situation. I am afraid I shall not be allowed to elaborate it, but I would like to point out that the people responsible for it are the people who saw an advantage in taking money out of British agriculture and investing it in factories in this country for the purpose of exporting in exchange for the raw materials to countries outside. We are now faced with the fact that we cannot take payment for the loans which we have granted because we cannot take it in the only manner our debtors can pay, and we shall never return to the position where we were able to draw from invisible exports something between £300,000,000 and £400,000,000 a year. But that is only part of the problem that this Government and any other creditor Government. would have to deal with.
To-night we are dealing mainly with how we shall treat the victims of this business. The problem we are discussing is not fundamental; it is administrative, and, although the Chairman has allowed some latitude, I do not myself feel that I want in any way to abuse that privilege. So I come back to the subject of the Vote. We have moved a reduction to-night, not on one issue only but on the whole issue of this Vote, because we want to challenge by our vote —be we few or many—the whole principle under which transitional payment is being administered. We deny altogether that, 855 even though it has been handed to the Poor Law authorities, it need be administered in what we consider to be a, cynical and brutal manner. When I was first a Poor Law guardian many years ago it was always laid down to me by people who were not Socialists and who thoroughly disagreed with me, that it was a cardinal principle of the old Charity Organisation Society that if you assisted individuals at all you must assist them thoroughly and give them the full means of maintaining their physical, mental and moral efficiency. That was the underlying principle on which the Charity Organisation Society founded itself. I say that in London the London County Council has founded itself on exactly the reverse principle, and that is the principle of destitution and of just giving enough to keep people alive. I live in the centre of my division, and it has only to be known that I am at home for an hour or two and my house is beseiged. I see people in the morning and on Saturday and Sunday, and I see them coming backwards and forwards to this House, and I tell this Committee that you are crushing the physical life out of thousands of people in Bow and Bromley. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] The hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Molson) knows nothing about it.
§ Mr. MOLSON
I have sat on the public assistance committee which administers the Poor Law in your constituency.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
If I had sat on that committee, I should be ashamed to stand up in this House and say so. If the hon. Member administers relief in Bow and Bromley, let him go down to the people there, and I will go with him. If he likes to bring additional persons, who are neither Tory, Liberal, nor Socialist, they can come too, and I will stand by their judgment. If he likes to bring a doctor, I will stand by the doctor's judgment as to the conditions in which my people are condemned to live. If I were guilty of that sort of thing, I should be ashamed to hold my head up.
§ Sir WILLIAM RAY
As the right hon. Gentleman has made this statement, would he oblige the House by stating the average diminution in the amount granted in London to-day in comparison with the amount when he and his friends were in office?
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The hon. Baronet, with the ingenuity of which he and his friends are capable, makes a challenge to me which he knows is totally beside the mark. No, the average in London has nothing to do with the question. You compare the average in Poplar to-day with what it was before you took over, and you will know that you are starving the people in comparison with what they got.
§ Sir W. RAY
The right hon. Gentleman ought to know that in five divisions in London the amount paid is a few pence less and in five divisions a little more than it was in the old days.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The hon. Baronet is again dodging the issue. I am speaking about the Poplar area and the East End area generally. He merely takes a figure which he knows has no relation at all when you come to compare like with like. If you take the Eastern area and compare the amount paid per head to the persons receiving relief before the London County Council took over and the amount paid now, you find that the London County Council boasted of the £10,000 which was being saved per week.
§ Mr. HUDSON
The Ministry of Labour has nothing to do with the relief paid by the London County Council.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The point I am making is that the Department can, if they please, tell the London County Council that, instead of starving my constituents, they should give them adequate maintenance. The Minister has the power if he has the will.
§ Mr. MOLSON
If I may interrupt the right hon. Gentleman on a point which we all admit is quite out of order. Since he has been making these accusations against the public assistance committee and about the reductions in relief, may I point out to him that, if he takes into account the fall in the cost of living, there has been no reduction in Poplar, at least up to a few weeks ago when I ceased to be a member of the board?
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The hon. Knight cannot have it both ways. At the General Election he brought out a long statement showing how much he had saved by replacing the wastrels of Poplar. You cannot save except at the cost of the stomachs of the babies of Poplar. That is one reason why we are going to vote for the reduction of this Estimate. We want more money rather than less. Then look at the manner in which poor people are being harried by the policy which this Vote represents. It has to deal with transitional payments, and we have now come to a point, which no one would have regarded as possible until the present Government came into office, when we say to the unemployed man: "You shall live on the amount of unemployment benefit." The Government have made it a sort of standard rate, whereas before they came in local authorities would put a little extra and give people a chance of getting some sort of standard of life, some measure of existence which was rather better than that prevalent to-day.
The Government have imposed on children, on grandparents, on widows, on all the members of a family, a responsibility which hon. Members have said the nation cannot afford. If the nation cannot afford to bear the burden of unemployment, why should families have to bear it? Why should you say to the poor: "You must maintain the poor?" That is another reason why we are going to vote against this Estimate. While we have been talking here, the Prime Minister who is too unwell to be present has spoken across the ether through the microphone. The microphone is becoming very much like the pulpit—the coward's castle. You cannot reply. If the Prime Minister is going to make a statement on national policy as regards unemployment and is unable to make it himself in this House—we would prefer that he was in good health—then it should be made by a responsible Minister of the Government, so that the House of Commons can discuss it. The Prime Minister is reported as having said that prolonged poverty had closed all reservoirs whereby 858 such things as clothing could be provided. These, he says, must be provided. In that case, why not set about the work and provide the clothing. When we say it we are told that it is sob-stuff. The Prime Minister is also said to have stated that gifts of clothing and much money were required. It is a pretty fine thing when the Prime Minister of this great nation, with all this poverty and misery in the land, allows us to be discussing this paltry Estimate, while he is appealing to the charitable public to find the necessaries of life for millions of our people.
The Minister of Labour said that the National Council of Social Service were not to be used to do the work which government ought to do. If the people are in need of clothing and food, of any of the necessaries of life, it is the duty of the Government to find the money, and to find it without stint. I wrote the foreword to the pamphlet of the National Council of Social Service because I was asked to do so by Sir Wyndham Deedes, and I would write it again. I have no feeling about it; but, if the Prime Minister of this country, or other people, is going to use that as a means of staving off the responsibilities of the Government it is a most discreditable and despicable thing to do. It is just using the good deeds of men and women in order to save the Government finding the money. We are not so poor as that. An hon. Member spoke about the crisis last year. I thought that no one outside a mental asylum believes now the stupid lie that the expenditure on social services produced the European crisis. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told you the story of what led up to that crisis.
§ Major PROCTER
I said that it was the state of mind which the Labour party has produced, the lack of confidence, which caused the crisis, not the amount paid.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I will not insult the intelligence of the hon. and gallant Member by thinking that he imagines anything of the kind happened. We had no responsibility for what happened, no responsibility for the financial lunatics who borrowed money on short terms and lent 859 it on long terms. Therefore, when I am told that it was the lack of confidence in the Labour Government I say that it was the lack of confidence in the financial sense of the City of London which brought about the crisis. That was what brought about the crisis, and everyone outside Bedlam knows it and admits it. Apparently, the hon. Gentleman opposite believes in the Prime Minister appealing to public charity to take care of the poor of the country, and he imagines that that will produce confidence abroad. How can it produce confidence abroad if it is said that this great rich nation cannot afford to give warm clothing to the poor, cannot afford to give food to the children, cannot afford to give all the maintenance that the children need, and that therefore the Prime Minister must be instructed to make a Miserere appeal to the people through the microphone? Nothing so disgraceful has happened before.
The difficulty about supporting any proposal that the Government may make, however rational, is that one never knows the sort of use they will make of it. In listening to this discussion tonight I am rather doubtful as to what the end of this business of training and workshops is to be, because if it is to be held that by training or by workshops the Government are going to find a means of absorbing these men in industry, we know perfectly well that they will do that only at the expense of people who have not been through these workshops. The scheme does not create a single new job. It is worth the while of the Committee to devote a little time and thought to the subject. We have been told of all these schemes that have been tried in regard to unemployment. Those of us who were in the House in 1925 or 1926 will remember that a commissioner was sent down to Wales, and I believe into Durham, to investigate the conditions and to report. They were under the leadership of Sir Warren Fisher. Out of that Commission there came the demand for transfers and everybody pinned his faith to transfers. The idea was to shift people out of the congested areas into less congested areas. As a result huge numbers were shifted into the East End of London, and this was the extraordinary consequence: Under this transference scheme men from South Wales and Durham helped to rebuild the West India Dock, while navvies 860 and other similar men who could have done the work were walking about the streets of East London seeing the work taken out of their hands.
Now we are all told, "Let us go in for training again." We have had one test of training under the Ministry of Labour, and we know well that it has failed, because it is impossible to find enough jobs for those who are trained, and when jobs are found it is only because other men are displaced. That must ever be so. There are people who imagine that if you write to certain well-known persons and tell them about wanting a man, it will help unemployment to get a man from him. Nothing of the kind. You get your man through the particular people who register him, but you do not add to the volume of employment. A man would have been got whether you had written to anyone or not. That is the danger of pinning faith to this National Council of Social Service as a means for doing anything effective for the unemployed, with the exception of one thing, and that one thing is the one reason why I give it any support at all. I did give it very hearty support because, rightly or wrongly, I have been working for Socialism and trying to do my day's work at the same time, and in doing the every-day job one is bound to be inconsistent with Socialist principles. One cannot administer Socialism within a capitalist system. I admit that quite fully.
The only thing that you can gain by giving men the opportunity of decently using their leisure or their hands in any way is that you do—here I differ from my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan)—to some extent preserve what is called their personality. I must say that my experience in the East End of London is that it is a terrible thing for a man to feel day after day that he is not wanted. That is especially so in the case of the young man. I have seen young men and young women start off in absolute revolt, and I am seeing them gradually sink down and become quite content, not content in the sense that they have conscious contentment, but simply that they have given up hope. If anything can be done to keep hope in them I want to do it. It is because think this movement will to some extent do that, that I give it whatever measure 861 of support I have given it. But it is no use thinking that along those lines you are going to do anything really effective in dealing with this problem, which is much more fundamental. I also want to say that I do not want the unemployed to become contented with unemployment. I do not want to have a hand in keeping them quiet. I want them to be in conscious revolt in their minds against the conditions that doom them to live partly on charity.
Is there any of us here who would like to have to wear second-hand clothes? It is not a matter for a joke, but a very serious matter. We are all talking about preserving personality, and the one thing that robs a man of personality is the feeling that he is dependent on someone else, either for his daily bread or his clothes or anything else. I do not want, even at my age, to be dependent in that way, and I should hate to think that any of my children or grandchildren would become dependent in that way. What is not good enough for me is not good enough for other people. Therefore I cannot think that it is right that we should be at all satisfied with the grant of £10,000 to this Council. I do not think the Government have put enough money down for this purpose. I wish we could discuss the Agricultural Land (Utilisation) Act, but we are forbidden. I used to belong to an organisation called the Vacant Land Cultivation Society. The Society of Friends has taken over that work very largely. It would have been a magnificent thing to have developed that scheme as far as possible, even in London and other great towns. I believe it could be done, and that the men who cultivate the allotments with their wives and their children would be able at least to get a little higher standard of life than they are getting now. Further, they would be keeping themselves in something like fitness.
A little time ago I went to Barking just outside London, in Essex, and I was surprised to find that one of the new councils there had got hold of some land and were using it for the unemployed. I think the same thing is being done at Woolwich with the co-operation of the Minister of Labour. Anyone who has seen that work will agree that it is splendid. Why should the Government not put £50,000 or £100,000 into this Estimate to assist work of that kind 862 which would give men a chance of raising their standard of life? I have just been informed that the Prime Minister in his broadcast statement also said that landowners could give waste land for allotments. Why "waste" land? Why could they not give some of the decent land for allotments. We might have playing fields. Then we are told that no personal ownership or hope of personal gain should stand in the way. Let them, then, hand back some of the good land which they have. We should not give these poor chaps the worst kind of land on which to exercise their strength in digging. I plead with the Minister to tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he requires a much bigger sum than this, not merely to put people into workshops or rest rooms but to give them the opportunity of growing food. The Prime Minister also says that we must find new ways of employment. I am sorry that he did not get someone to make that statement from that Box and we might have asked what new ways of work were being made available.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Yes, he is ill, but he can go up and down to Lossiemouth. If he can do that, it is a shame that he is not here.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I am not saying one word in criticism of the Prime Minister on the ground that he is not here or suggesting that he is not ill. My criticism is that a statement of national policy should be made through the microphone and not from that Box; and if the Prime Minister is too ill to make a statement in the House, it should be made by the Lord President of the Council or someone on his behalf. I am sorry that he is not here. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland) amused us by quoting what Disraeli said, and what Pitt said, and what the Duke of Wellington said, about 100 years ago when they were prophesying red ruin. I only want to say in reply that it is no use trying to argue that during the 100 years that have passed since then, the masses in this country, except for the social services of which you are now robbing them, have enjoyed a decent standard of living. All the slums which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for 863 West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) deplored the other day came into being during the palmy days of capitalism in the 19th century. Those grand glorious times produced all the evils with which the generation before this tried to deal and it seems to me, facing the conditions of to-day, that no one in the world can imagine that with capitalism we shall be able to get through the difficulties surrounding us.
The right hon. Baronet knows that while we may think it very foolish of those distinguished statesmen to have made those statements, yet had it not been for the discovery of steam power and machinery inventions, and the fact that the whole world was open for exploitation by Britishers, the conditions of this country would have been even worse than they are under the capitalist system. But I would ask the right hon. Baronet when he next speaks on this subject to do what the Prime Minister in his wireless message has not done and that is to tell the country and the world the immediate steps which he proposes to take to remedy the present condition of things. We have put forward our proposals and he laughs them to scorn. If he is going to stand by the capitalist system, and reliance on foreign investments, reliance on competition between nations, reliance on the financial system that has brought us where we are, will he tell us—but not to-night—how he proposes to adjust that system in order to meet the present or the future situation of the world? The world is in its present plight because machinery and science has given us such power over nature and such power of production that, within capitalism, we cannot deal with that production. I challenge the right hon. Baronet when he next speaks to tell us how capitalism can deal with that huge production. You can only deal with it when you discover means of distributing it. In our own country there are millions of people in semi-starvation and in need of that production but they are denied it because nobody can make a profit out of the business. You have to substitute the principle that production shall be for use and not for private profit.
I read an article recently by an hon. Member, I think one of the hon. Members for Bristol, about young men in this House of Commons. I enjoyed that article very 864 much but if the hon. Member and other younger Members will allow me to repeat to them what I said a year ago, I do not understand them in coming to this House and allowing themselves to be blanketed as they are. I have a great respect for them and I am only sorry that I am not as young in years as they are. Here in our own country, all my lifetime, since I have been able to think and read and speak I have had to deal with poverty and unemployment—my own and other peoples—and I have seen people denied the right to live. I do not want to feel, and I do not believe, that you are any more careless about them than I am, but what is wrong is that you will not start thinking about it from the very foundation, you will not look at the thing as it really is. If you did, you would see, I am sure, as I see that there is no way out by this patching up, by trying to dominate people abroad, by trying to keep people quiet by charity or any other means. I hate doles as much as anyone here, but I have helped to give away more doles probably than any other individual. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Yes, and I have done it, because everybody has a right to food anyhow, under any conditions, and I would do it all over again. I want to appeal to the young men and the young women. Never mind what we are doing inside this House. Get into a Committee room and hammer out a policy that will deal with this question, that you can take to the unemployed and say, "This, and this, if done, will remedy your condition." Until you do that, you have no business to find fault with us who think we have a remedy.
§ 10.7 p.m.
§ Mr. HUDSON
We have had a number of speeches—[Interruption]—including an admirable maiden speech, if I may say so, by the hon. and gallant Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Colonel Broadbent). It may be for the convenience of the Committee if I deal with one or two of the points that have been raised in the Debate before going on to deal with the actual question of the Supplementary Estimate. May I take first the various points that have been raised with regard to the National Council of Social Service and the grant of £10,000 we are proposing to make to them. I have been asked about this grant. It is a grant for this year at 865 all events. It is in the nature of an experiment, and, though, of course, I cannot commit the Chancellor of the Exchequer for next year, I have no doubt that if adequate use is made of it this year, there will be a strong case for asking for similar assistance next year. The hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Rhys) put several questions about voluntary work. If I followed him correctly, I think that legislation would be necessary in order to make some of his suggestions possible, but I can promise that if he will come and consult me, we will see to what extent his suggestions can be adopted within the framework of the existing legislation.
The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) was rather doubtful about the advantage of this policy of helping the National Council of Social Service, because, apparently, he was afraid that men at the occupation centres would be taught a trade which they would subsequently use to try to under-cut men already in those trades. I do not think there is any real danger of that occurring, because the centres are much more in the nature of occupational centres, and I doubt very much whether it will be possible in any one of these centres to teach a man sufficiently well to enable him to set up on his own efficiently and compete against a man who has served a proper apprenticeship in his trade.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The Prime Minister to-night stated over the wireless that this is an attempt on a national scale to find new ways of employment.
§ Mr. HUDSON
I think that covers most of the points that were raised with regard to the National Council of Social Service. The hon. Member for Chesterle-Street (Mr. Lawson) made a number of points. He started off by saying that one of the disturbing elements in the situation to-day was the steady rise in the numbers of persons who had been out of employment for a, considerable time. He said that this phenomenon started in 1931. If he will allow me to say so, he is not quite accurate there. It started as far back at 1930, and I shall say a 866 word or two about that later on, because I quite agree that this rise is one of the most disquieting symptoms of the present composition of the register. He went on to suggest that it was a pity that we should have taken over the administration of Durham, because he claimed that the administration under the county council was efficient, that there was no public criticism, that everyone was satisfied, and that people were quiet. Well, we should not have taken it over, as he knows perfectly well, if they had been carrying out the law, and it was with extreme reluctance and only after repeated efforts over a period of 12 months to get the local authority to carry out its statutory obligations that we were obliged to put in Commissioners.
The hon. Member went on to quote the case of a particular man who had been given a transitional payment of only £1. Naturally, I cannot be expected to comment on that case without having an opportunity of seeing the full particulars, but I have a few illustrations of the type of case that the Commissioners have already found out to exist in Durham county, and I venture to think that the Committee will agree with me, when they hear these cases, that it was well that we put Commissioners in. The first is the case of a single man, whose father had £1,600 invested, four cottages worth £600, one house worth £230, and was living in his own. Nevertheless, that single man was being given, though he was living at home, 10s. The Commissioners, quite rightly, I personally think, have decided that he is not in need of any assistance at all. [An HON. MEMBER: "How old was he?"] He is 21 years of age.
Next is the case of a man, with a wife and daughter, who had £262 in the bank and who was the owner of four flats, valued at £600, and he had been receiving £1. The commissioners, again quite rightly, I think, determined that he is not in need of any assistance from public sources. Another case is that of a man whose father had £1,450 invested, and owned his own house. Nevertheless, he was receiving 15s. 3d. before we put the commissioners in, and again the commissioners have decided that he is not in need of any assistance from public funds. These are the sort of cases which we are discovering, in respect of which the commissioners will achieve substantial savings 867 which will go some way towards paying the extra cost involved by their appointment.
§ Mr. LAWSON
Will the hon. Gentleman tell the Committee for how many people these commissioners are administering?
§ Mr. HUDSON
I have not any figures yet, but if the hon. Gentleman will repeat his question, I shall no doubt be in a position to give him the information.
§ Mr. HUDSON
I will consider the matter, but I do not think that it is at all necessary. The cases were known to the local authority and they were cases that the local authority had decided. There is no doubt about the facts and hon. Members will, I hope, take my word for them.
§ Mr. HUDSON
The hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) referred to instructions that had been issued by the Lancashire County Council to its public assistance sub-committees, and asked whether that had been done with our approval. It was done with our full approval. The substance of those instructions was that where a single person had left home with the sole object of receiving transitional payments as a result of leaving home, the local authority were not to make him any determination at all. The hon. Member for Gorbals asked for the cost of the administration of the means test. The estimate for the year is £3,350,000, of which £750,000 represents repayments to local authorities. The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) suggested that the cost of administration of my Department was excessive. All I can say is that the rise in the cost of the administration has not been in any way proportionate to the rise in the size of the live register, and a good deal of the rise is due to the added complications introduced by legislation that was passed by the late Government in 1930 and 1931.
§ Mr. HUDSON
Not without notice, but it did not introduce so many complications as the 1930 and 1931 Acts. We have also been asked in the course of the Debate why we are asking for a Supplementary Estimate of £18,000,000. I think that my right hon. Friend explained the matter very fully, but perhaps the Committee will forgive me if I briefly run over the causes again. Every Department at the beginning of the calendar year has to make an estimate of its probable expenditure during the financial year beginning the 1st April. We had, I think, probably the most difficult task to perform this year of any Department in any year because we had to try and forecast the course of unemployment during the year. To do that we had to try and make an accurate guess of the course of home and world trade. The figures of unemployment during the last 12 months show that it was almost impossible to forecast the course of unemployment in figures for a month, let alone a year in advance.
We had two alternatives before us. We could either have taken a very gloomy view and budgeted for a live register of 3,000,000, or we could have taken the course which we did and assumed that the signs of improvement that were noticeable when we made our estimate were likely to continue, and budget for a figure of about 2,500,000. We were perfectly aware of the risks we took, that if we budgeted for 2,500,000 and trade did not improve, as we hoped, we should have to come to the House to ask for a very considerable Supplementary Estimate. We thought that, on the whole, we were justified in assuming that figure, for not merely had we experience in our own country at the time of a steadily decreasing figure of unemployment, but abroad also, in countries that were our chief competitors and our chief markets, the figures were falling. If, on the other hand, we had adopted the alternative of being on the ultra-safe side, and had assumed a figure of 3,000,000, we should, I think, have laid ourselves open to the well-justified criticism that at a time when confidence was one of the most important necessities for the restoration of world 869 trade we had gone out of our way to try to kill that confidence in our own country by taking an excessively gloomy view of our prospects. We therefore decided, rightly I hope the Committee will agree, on the lower figure.
Perhaps I might digress here to suggest that it is quite probable that if over the next two months unemployment takes the ordinary course, we may see a seasonal fall at Christmas and a further rise to a peak somewhere in January or February. If that rise does take place, no undue significance should he attached to it. There is one final thing I would like to say on the subject of the figures. This Supplementary Estimate of £18,000,000 is entirely due to a larger live register than we had anticipated, and in no wise due to our having failed to secure the economies we anticipated and hoped for. In actual fact the economies we have secured are substantially greater than those that were anticipated; they are at least £30,000,000. This question of economy brings me to a point on which I would like to dwell for a moment.
The economies are greater than we had anticipated owing to the composition of the live register. In actual fact more people had drawn 26 weeks' benefit than we thought probable, and, as the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street said, the existence of this steadily growing figure of persons who have been out of work for a long period is definitely disquieting. When the country has suffered unemployment such as we have had for the last three years it is inevitable that the number of people who have been out of work for a considerable period will increase, but the situation is producing for the first time in our history a state of affairs in which it is no longer true to say that the hard core of unemployment is comparatively small, and that the army of unemployed are a constantly changing body of men and women. It was true till about 1930. Up to that time the figure was never more than about 100,000, but by September, 1931, when we took office, though there are no exact figures available, it is probable the figurehad grown to something like 500,000. The figure has undoubtedly continued to grow since, although the actual numbers are difficult to arrive at owing to the change in the method of counting due to transitional payments.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman. Do I understand him to say that the figures are 500,000 people who had been out of work for a year and over in 1931? The hon. Gentleman gave me some figures in answer to a question, and he said that the people who had been unemployed for a twelvemonth and over were 120,000 in 1931.
§ Mr. HUDSON
It is very difficult to get the exact figure, because the number of people receiving transitional payment —let us put it that way—when the Labour party went out of office had already reached 500,000, and it is probable that a very large proportion of those had been out of work for 12 months. The exact figure I do not think we shall ever be able to get. The disturbing factor is that it has been rising steadily month by month, whatever the figure is. This phenomenon of the steadily-rising hard core of long-term unemployment, although it is disturbing, is not peculiar to this country. It is being found in practically all the industrial countries of the world, and the conclusion seems almost inevitable that it is a product, in some degree, of the relatively very rapid progress in technical improvements both in industry and agriculture.
In connection with a conference that is shortly to be held at Geneva, some very interesting figures have been collected and have been issued as a book by the International Labour Office in Geneva. This has only just reached us and we have not had time to consider it carefully, but I have no reason to believe that the figures are inaccurate. They give us food for serious thought. In Germany, for example, it is said that from 1920 to 1929 the output per person employed rose by 33 per cent. in coal mines, 50 per cent. in the iron and steel trades and 67 per cent. in coke works, and so on. Similar figures, with which I will not trouble the Committee, hold good for the United States and slightly less startling ones for others of our competitors on the Continent. Although no exact figures for Great Britain are available, it seems probable that the increase in productivity per person employed in this country rose to a considerable extent, although not to the same extent as on the Continent, and that that increase in productivity has continued, even during the depression of the last year.
871 The conclusion drawn is that in most of the industrial countries, while progress in technique of production has been rapid, there has been in most countries no corresponding increase in the rapidity with which the displaced persons are absorbed into new industries. In other words, mechanisation and rationalisation seem to have meant an increase in productivity in industry and agriculture, while it meant a gradual decline in the employment of man power. I would warn the Committee that these are at present only broad generalisations, and that we have no exact figures in England to show the extent to which they are true, but they indicate a state of affairs which is sufficiently serious to warrant detailed examination. So far as this country is concerned, what we can say is, that rationalisation of heavy industries tends to produce a disproportionate reduction in the number of men employed, while the secondary expanding industries employ far more women and children than the contracting primary industries. I only mention these tendencies in modern industrial organisation because I think that the time has come when serious consideration will have to be given to seeing whether some solution, either national or international, can be found for the definite human tragedies that are involved.
The hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) said that the Government had become discouraged, and several hon. Members opposite suggested that we had done nothing. In fact, I think the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street asked, "What will tariffs do?" I propose to give the Committee a few figures showing what tariffs have done. My right hon. Friend quoted some figures showing how our relative position had been maintained. The figures which I am going to give show the number of persons employed in certain groups of industries. They indicate the experience in those industries during the two years for which hon. Gentlemen opposite were in power, and also the subsequent history of the same industries in the 12 months or so that we have been in power. Taking first the cotton industry, in the two years 1929–31 the increase in unemployment was 181,000, while the decrease during the 872 last 12 months has been 126,000. In the woollen industry, the increase under the Labour Government was 49,000, and the decrease under our administration has been 43,000. In general engineering, the increase under the Labour party was 113,000, while in our case an improvement of 7,000 has been shown. Taking the whole of that group together, the increase in unemployment in the two years 1929–31 was 572,000, while the improvement in the 12 months for which we have been in office has been 263,000.
§ Mr. DAVID GRENFELL
Will the hon. Gentleman give the comparable figures for shipbuilding and house-building?
§ Mr. HUDSON
I have not the figures for shipbuilding. The figure for building is among those for the second group of industries, for which I shall be glad to give the figures if desired. In this group, in the two years 1929–31, the increase in unemployment was substantial, and, although the increase has continued during the last 12 months, it has not been on the same scale. In the building trade, the increase in unemployment under the Labour Government was 89,500, while the increase during the last 12 months has been 84,000. I am afraid that that is no consolation at all to hon. Members opposite.
Perhaps I might say a word which will be of interest to the Committee on the point raised by the Leader of the Opposition about the failure of the transfer policy. It is true that in 1926 a committee was appointed, under Sir Warren Fisher, to see whether anything could be done to expedite transfer from depressed areas to non-depressed areas. One of the interesting things that was discovered as a result of the last census was the unexpectedly great progress that had been made, without any Government assistance, in the transfer of population. I think the Committee will realise, when they have heard the figures, that the perfectly ordinary normal transfer of population has gone on to an extent which no Government could possibly have undertaken. In South Wales in 10 years there was a net loss by migration of 242,000 persons, in Durham and Northumberland a net loss of 207,000 and in Cheshire and Lancashire a net loss of 873 154,000. On the other hand, the southeastern counties, including Greater London, gained during the corresponding period no fewer than 615,000. Similar figures are forthcoming in detail. But the interesting point is that, in spite of that enormous increase of population in London and in the Home Counties, there was not a corresponding increase of unemployment. The average unemployment, for example, in the country to-day is 22 per cent. I find that the average unemployment in London is only 11 per cent. Therefore, in spite of the fact that there has been this tremendous internal migration of the population from the distressed areas to the south-east of England, it has not meant that there has been any corresponding increase in unemployment in the south-east of England but that, on the contrary, the experience of the south-east of England has been better than that of the rest of the country.
It is legitimate to sum up the situation in which we find ourselves as follows. It is, unfortunately, quite idle to deny—I should he the last to do so—that the position of the country has not made the progress that we expected. Some part of our fortunes are within our own control. The larger part at present are outside our control, in the shape of international factors, and it is those international factors which have deteriorated in the last two months. I have here a publication issued by the International Labour Office giving the latest figures for the world as a whole and I find there that, without exception, every single other important country, including our chief competitors, is definitely worse off than at this time last year. My right hon. Friend gave us some figures. Let me supplement them. During the first 10 months of this year German imports fell by 33 per cent. and exports by 41 per cent. In France the respective decreases are 32 and 37 and in the United States 37 and 35, whereas in our case the value of imports decreased by 17 per cent. and the volume of exports show actually a slight increase. In other words, in a time when the United States, France and Germany have virtually seen their export trade reduced to ruin, ours, on which we are vitally dependent, has been maintained and slightly increased. A 874 year ago the order of importance in exports of merchandise was the United States first, Germany second and ourselves third. To-day the order is ourselves first, the United States second and Germany third. I commend this Supplementary Estimate to the approval of the Committee.
§ 10.40 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I could not allow this opportunity to pass without congratulating the hon. Gentleman on the masterpiece that he has just delivered. It is the most wonderful thing that ever I have listened to yet. The position is worse from the point of view of unemployment than that which has ever been experienced before in general, but in every detail there is a marked improvement. Taking it as a whole, the position is simply damnable, but analyse it into its separate parts and every important industry in this country shows an improvement. But above all, the thing for which we have to thank God is that nearly every other country in the world is worse off. I felt that it was the duty of the Committee at that point to stand up and sing, "Rule Britannia," because we have only 3,000,000 unemployed and the Germans, Americans, French, Italians and everybody else are going rapidly into a state of starvation. Seriously, I think that this is the first time that ever I have heard a Minister come forward asking for a Supplementary Estimate of this magnitude without making some intimation to the rest of the country as to the further steps they propose to take to try to cope with the problem of unemployment. We are presented with this tremendously big bill, and there is not a single proposal put forward, and not an indication of any thought being directed towards the end of coping with the cause which has brought about this great increase in unemployment. I want the Minister to consider that the increasing unemployment which he has to report, as compared with the period before the means test and the economy cuts, is the direct and definite result of the combination of economy cuts, means test operations, and reductions in working class incomes. [An HON. MEMBER: "And high Income Tax."] I do not believe that high Income Tax has influenced the situation in the least.
Sir NAIRNE STEWART SANDEMAN
Is the hon. Member aware that when 1s. was taken off the Income Tax the unemployment figures went down by 200,000?
§ Mr. MAXTON
I do not want to quarrel with my hon. Friend, because the position is difficult enough without personal recriminations. I think that my hon. Friend will agree that the time when industry was at its best in this country synchronised with the time when the Income Tax was at its highest. I hope that that is not denied. I am speaking from memory. My recollection is that in the last years of the War and the year immediately after the conclusion of the War, employment was at its highest in this country, and the Income Tax was also at its highest.
§ Mr. MAXTON
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North St. Pancras (Captain Fraser) says that it was uneconomic. Frankly, I do not know the meaning of the word—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—and in that I am glad to say I have the approval of the whole of the Committee. I do know that during that period the working class had a sense of security which they have never had since. They were getting their breakfast, their dinner and their tea; they were paying their rents, and they were getting their entertainments. If that is uneconomic, I do not understand the meaning of the word "economy." National economy, in my view, means maintaining a social system that enables all your people to live in a reasonably comfortable way, and that they did during the years when Income Tax was at its highest, because employment was at its best. [An HON. MEMBER: "That was because of the War!"] An hon. Member says that that was because of the War. I am not arguing now, and it would not be in order on this Supplementary Estimate to go into the causes of it, but if that is the suggestion, it might provide some excuse for the Government. If another war is to be the solution of the problem, I believe the
§ Government are doing something in that direction.
§ I return to the point from which I was diverted, and I suggest to the Government this serious consideration that if you apply a national policy which aims at making the home market the important market, as against the foreign market, then at the same time you must take steps to see that that home market is a really effective one. If at the same time that you shut yourselves into your home market you take deliberate steps to destroy the purchasing power of the masses of the people who constitute that home market, then you must take certain vital factors into consideration. You must recognise the point made by one hon. member about the increased productivity of labour. If all these three factors are added together, namely the limit of the home market, the limitation of the purchasing power of your own people, and the increased productivity of each unit of labour, you are bound to have increased unemployment. [An HON. MEMBER: "No!"] One hon. Member alone dissents from that point of view, but I am sure that if he tries to make good his point he cannot do it to the satisfaction of the Committee.
§ If you are to sell goods you must have people to buy them, and if you reduce people to one dead level of poverty, they cannot buy. It is your ordinary common people who have to be your market, and if you destroy that market your trade must decline. I prophesy that if that policy is pursued the Government will have to come forward very shortly for a bigger Supplementary Estimate than they are asking for to-night. The bigger the Supplementary Estimate they ask for unemployment the better I shall be pleased. because it is only when they realise the logical conclusion of their own policy that the mind of the House will finally turn towards finding a real solution of the problem.
§ Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £18,009,000, be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 31; Noes, 216.877
|Division No. 29.]||AYES.||[10.50 p.m.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)|
|Banfield, John William||Cripps, Sir Stafford||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)|
|Batey, Joseph||Daggar, George||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)|
|Buchanan, George||Edwards, Charles||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Lunn, William||Price, Gabriel|
|Hicks, Ernest George||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Jenkins, Sir William||McEntee, Valentine L.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Maxton, James||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Milner, Major James|
|Lawson, John James||Parkinson, John Allen||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Greene, William P. C.||Penny, Sir George|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Albery, Irving James||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro',W.)||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Pybus, Percy John|
|Apsley, Lord||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Raikes, Henry V. A. M|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Hales, Harold K.||Ramsay, T. B W. (Western Isles)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Ztl'nd)||Ramsden, E.|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Hanley, Dennis A.||Ratcliffe, Arthur|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ray, Sir William|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Hartland, George A.||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenn'gt'n)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Bernays, Robert||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Reiner, John R.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Bower, Lieut-Corn. Robert Tatton||Hornby, Frank||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Horobin, Ian M.||Robinson, John Roland|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Horsbrugh, Florence||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Rosbotham, S. T.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks., Newb'y)||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. r.||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Burghley, Lord||James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Janner, Barnett||Scone, Lord|
|Burnett, John George||Jennings, Roland||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Campbell. Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Carver, Major William H.||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Castle Stewart, Earl||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Slater, John|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Chalmers, John Rutherford||Law, Sir Alfred||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Clayton, Dr. George C.||Law. Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Soper, Richard|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Liddall, Walter S.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Copeland, Ida||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Llewellin, Major John J.||Storey, Samuel|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Cross, R. H.||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Mabane, William||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||McCorquodale, M. S.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Templeton, William P.|
|Denville, Alfred||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Drewe, Cedric||McKie, John Hamilton||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||McLean, Major Alan||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Magnay, Thomas||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Elmley, Viscount||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Martin, Thomas B.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Mitcheson, G. G.||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||White, Henry Graham|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B, Eyres||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Moreing, Adrian C.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Morrison, William Shepherd||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Muirhead, Major A. J.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Nail-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Womersley, Walter James|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Glossop, C. W. H||North, Captain Edward T.|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Nunn, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Goldle, Noel B.||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Mr. Blindell and Commander|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Pearson, William G.||Southby.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Peat, Charles U.|
Original Question Put, and agreed to.