§ The following Amendments stood upon the Order Paper:
In page 1, line 6, to leave out the words "any cereal year," and to insert instead thereof the words:
the next three cereal years."—[Sir P. Harris.]
In line 6, after the word "year," to insert the words:
in which a scheme of unemployment insurance for agricultural workers is in operation,"—[Mr. Lunn.]
In line 6, after the word "year," to insert the words:
after the Agricultural Wages Board established under the Agricultural Wages (Regulation) Act, 1924, has been vested with power to revise any decision of an agricultural wages committee established under that Act."—[Mr. G. Hall.]
§ In line 8, leave out the word "registered."—[Mr. Remer.]
§ The CHAIRMAN
The first Amendment on the Paper, standing in the name of the hon, Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) is out of order. The Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) and the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) are not selected by me.
§ Sir STAFFORD CRIPPS
On a point of Order. May I ask whether we are not to have the Amendment dealing with the Agricultural Wages Board because it is out of order or because it is not selected?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have said that I have not selected it, but I have a very strong opinion that it is out of order.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The same remark applies to that as I made to the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) just now.
§ The CHAIRMAN
If the hon. Member will put down an Amendment I will consider it, but it is not for me to advise him where to introduce it and I think it may be very difficult for him to introduce an Amendment to the effect he desires which would be in order.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
On a point of Order. Is this not exactly the type of Amendment which was put down on the Education Bill in the last Session, when it was stipulated under that Bill that it should not come into operation until an Act had been passed authorising expenditure out of public funds upon certain conditions as regards non-provided schools. Is not this Amendment in exactly the same form as that Amendment, which was allowed?
§ The CHAIRMAN
Not unnaturally I have considered that precedent and had it in mind, but I think the two cases are distinguishable, and without committing myself to any observations on what happened on a past occasion, I feel no doubt in regard to this matter.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I gather that it is a question immediately of selection as against absolutely ruling the Amendment out of order. The difficulty is to find a place in the Bill where this matter can be raised. As you have said, it may not be in order, but if it be in order is not this as effective a place as any in which to insert the Amendment? I put it down as an Amendment to this part of the Bill on the precedent of the Education Bill.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It may be a matter of opinion as to what is the best place in which to endeavour to do what the hon. Member wishes, but I am quite clear in my own mind that the Amendment he has put down is one which I ought not to select. The next Amendment, in the name of the hon. Member for Maccles-field (Mr. Remer), is one of a very large number of Amendments the main object of which, I gather, is to eliminate the Wheat Commission from the Bill and substitute the Minister. In the circumstances I think it would be better not to 1821 call this first Amendment, which is really of a drafting nature, but to take the discussion on the Amendment of the hon. Member in which he proposes to leave out the words "from the Wheat Commission."
§ Mr. TURTON
I beg to move, in page 1, line 8, after the word "shall," to insert the words "be entitled to receive."
This is purely a drafting Amendment. There are two phrases in this sub-section which propose to enact certain things subject to provisions in the Act, and in putting down this Amendment it was my intention later to move an Amendment to remove the latter one, in line 15, which reads:subject to the deduction to be made under the provisions of this Act relating to administrative expenses.If the Clause was made to read:be entitled to receive, subject to the provisions of this Act, and of any regulations or by-laws made thereunder,it would obviate any necessity for having any further reference to deductions. It is a very small matter, but, if the Minister could see his way to accept this Amendment, the Clause would be far more simple and more intelligible to the ordinary man who reads it.
§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Sir John Gilmour)
I confess that I cannot understand what is the intention of the hon. Member in moving this Amendment. I presume that he has moved it for the purpose of better drafting, but I have come to the conclusion that the Amendment would not achieve that end, and therefore I cannot accept it.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
It seems to me to be a desirable beginning to try to get this Bill into something like a phraseology that will mean something to the ordinary person who is expected to read it. I appreciate that the Minister of Agriculture would be embarking upon a considerable task if he tried to produce a Bill which had some meaning to the ordinary farmer, but I would like to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to one important consideration. This Bill is going to become part of the law, and everyone is presumed to know the law. There are a number of penalties set out for people who act contrary to the law. 1822 In these circumstances, surely it is essential that the Bill should be made as simple as possible, so that even the least intelligent farmer, before he is put into prison for contravening this Act will have an opportunity of understanding what it means. The hon. Member who moved this Amendment is a far better judge of the mentality of the farmer than I am, and he says that in order that the farmer may understand this provision the words which he has proposed should be inserted. Surely we are not going to have a first Clause which the farmer cannot understand.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
I have had some experience of farmers and lawyers, and, if I may be allowed to give my opinion, I should say that farmers are quite as able to understand the law in this respect as lawyers. The farmers in this country are quite as intelligent as other people, and I think it is a pity that the proceedings this afternoon have started with the insinuation that the farmer is not able to understand ordinary language. I do not think the insertion of these words would do any harm, because they would concentrate attention on the fact that the farmer was entitled to receve this benefit. For this reason, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether he cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I am afraid that I cannot accept the Amendment. I think it is clear that the farmer will be able to understand what is meant, because he will get the by-laws, which will be clearly understandable by all farmers.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. REMER
I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, to leave out the words "from the Wheat Commission."
This is the first of a, long series of Amendments which are mainly consequential, and although they look a formidable list I assure the Minister of Agriculture that they are in no way obstructive, but are intended to be constructive. It is my view that in order to give a home-grown quota for wheat there is no necessity for the elaborate machinery provided in this Bill. There is really no necessity for setting up the Wheat Com- 1823 mission or the Flour Corporation on the lines provided for in the Bill. I am in favour of a quota, but I am opposed to any sort of Dominion quota such as that which has been suggested in other quarters. It seems to me that the elaborate machinery of this Bill has not been devised to secure a quota for home-grown wheat, but with the idea of bringing in the Dominion quota which nobody wants in this country. It was for that reason that on the Second Reading I abstained from voting for the Bill. I believe that the Measure, as drafted, contains a good deal of elaborate machinery which is not wanted, and which is not required to provide a quota for home-grown wheat. It has been stated that this Bill will not be a charge upon the taxpayer, but officials will be required to put the Bill into operation, and they will have to be paid by somebody. I object to the method which has become the practice in recent years as in the case of the Road Fund, the Insurance Fund, and other funds, of increasing the number of officials. Now we are providing a Wheat Fund, which, although it is not a charge on the taxpayer, will come out of the pockets of the people. Therefore, I think we ought to be very careful to see that this policy, which can only be described as robbing Peter to pay Paul, and finds this money by some backhanded manner rather than by a straightforward method from the taxpayer, should be dealt with in a straight, clear manner, and prevent this horde of officials from being brought forward. I am sure that anyone who looks at the elaborate machinery must realise that a great deal is going to provide unnecessary worry and unnecessary expense to the farmer in filling up various forms, when he ought to be doing very much more valuable work in ploughing his fields. For that reason, it would be easy for the right hon. Gentleman to provide a very much simpler scheme, which would be quite clear and not cause this enormous expense in providing officials.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Now that the hon. Member has explained his scheme, I am not quite sure that I can accept the Amendment. It seems to me that the effect of this scheme would be that the levy would have to be payable to a Minister of the Crown, and therefore it would 1824 be, in effect, creating a charge which is not done under the machinery of the Wheat Commission. In those circumstances, I am afraid that I cannot put the Amendment.
§ Sir PERCY HARRIS
On a point of Order. Would it be possible to substitute some other machinery than that of the Wheat Commission?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think that might be so, but I am scarcely called upon to express an opinion. Another Amendment might be considered.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
If we do not leave out the words "Wheat Commission," we shall be bound to work under the machinery of the Wheat Commission.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid that the hon. Baronet is rather late in considering this matter. I am afraid that I cannot deal with a number of complicated Amendments which are not only not on the Paper, but are not even submitted in manucript yet.
§ Mr. REMER
Possibly I may have been in error, but, in order to save time, I was trying to give the tenor of the whole of my Amendments on the Order Paper, so that I would not be obliged to give a detailed explanation of all of them as they came up. If I may be allowed to do so, I will put in other Amendments in manuscript between now and the time when they will be reached.
I beg to move, in page 1, line 12, after the word "him," to insert the words "for the purpose of milling."
This Bill was originally intended, I think, to give payments on a quota system for English wheat grown for a special purpose, and it is true, as has been already admitted, that the cost of the loaf is likely to rise as a result of this quota system. In that case, I think that the Minister ought at least to give some protection to the general public that the wheat shall reach, in due course, the loaf of bread. It is stated in this Clause that the grower is to receive a payment for 1825every hundredweight of such wheat of his own growing sold by himand we ask that, after that statement, it shall be made clear that it is wheat "for the purpose of milling." I am afraid that unless the Minister is prepared to insert these words, there will be big possibilities of trafficking in this business, where the wheat quota may be paid for, and the wheat will not find its place in the loaf, or into the millers' hands. Therefore, I think that we are entitled to say that if a wheat quota is established, and payment has to be made to the farmer for wheat growing—a payment which ultimately comes out of the pockets of the poorest in the price of their bread, and the poorest, we know, will pay heaviest—we have a right to say that the wheat we pay for shall be for milling purposes, and no other.
There has been no statement made during the Debate on this Bill that there has been any difficulty with regard to millable wheat for stock feeding. In circulars to Members and in statements at many farmers' meetings, they have asked that there shall be no duty put on imports of feeding stuff for cattle and poultry, and, therefore, there has been no difficulty in the selling at a fair price wheat that has been used for that purpose. Consequently, if the Bill is truly to give assistance to farmers for millable wheat for bread-making and for flour, there ought to be some safeguard that we are paying no money on wheat that is sold and used for other purposes. We ask the Minister to insert these simple words, which will give an assurance to the public that there will be no payments unless the wheat is of a millable kind. It makes no difference to the wording of the Bill, except that it gives this security.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
This Amendment raises an interesting problem. No doubt the Bill in its original form had a quota. We were all to be bound to eat bread containing English wheat. That was the original proposal, but the millers would have none of it, and it is common knowledge that, owing to the resistance of the millers, the quota has disappeared except as a word in the Bill which is used to camouflage a tax. But there is no quota in it. There is not to be any English wheat in our bread. We are merely going to pay a contribution to farmers in order 1826 to encourage them to keep arable land under wheat. I think my hon. Friend opposite is justified in moving his Amendment, because it will throw a flood of daylight upon the real situation. I am informed by practical millers and by members of the wheat organisation that not more than 1 per cent. of British wheat actually goes into bread, and that is only in the country mills. It is not suitable; it is too damp. [Interruption.] I am being educated by agriculturists. I have a number of documents here from experts, and there is the Noble Lady opposite who is married to an expert; and expert opinion supports my argument. The bulk of English wheat is used for one or two purposes, mainly for poultry and for turning into flour for biscuits. British biscuits, apparently, like British flour, but British bread does not. It is too moist, and I am told that the whole of our machinery of our port mills would have to be scrapped if they are to be required to use a considerable percentage.
If this Bill is a quota Bill, if it is a Bill to encourage the use of British flour, the words of the Amendment ought to be accepted. If they are not, the whole scheme is exposed as being neither more nor less than a subsidy from one set of consumers to a small favoured section of wheat growers in this country, and a tax upon millers and bakers who are using not British wheat, but wheat imported from abroad. If the Amendment were carried, I believe that the Bill would be unworkable. Certainly all this elaborate machinery would go by the board, because the millers and the bakers would not work it, and the Bill would have to be withdrawn. So that it is an interesting Amendment, and I shall be interested to hear whether the right hon. Gentleman is ready to accept it. If not, in spite of the jeers, I think that the millers will prove to be right, and the wheat federation will be justified in their reports that it is not practicable to grind British wheat in the principal flour mills of the country.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
Is it the hon. Member's contention that we are being practically taxed £6,000,000 in order to provide an increased amount of chicken food?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I cannot accept this Amendment, because, obviously, it would be impracticable in working. May I remind the Committee that this is a Wheat Bill, and that there are large numbers of farmers who at present sell their wheat in the open market to corn merchants, and who have no idea when the corn merchant buys that wheat for what purpose it is going to be used. All that the farmer is concerned with is that he shall sell wheat of a millable quality, and he will get the certificate only if it is of that quality. It is also essential that we should not interfere with that very large market for the poultry industry of this country, and one of the essences of this Bill is that the free market remains, and that the farmer can sell his wheat for the poultry market and for other similar purposes. There is one other point which those who are so tender about the interests of those who have to pay in this matter might well remember. If this Amendment were carried, it would very probably, in my judgment, depress the price of the wheat, and, obviously, the only result in practice would be to make a levy on those for whom hon. Members are expressing so much concern. On ail these grounds, I think it is perfectly clear that the Committee would do well to reject this proposal.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ The following Amendments stood upon the Order Paper:
§ In page 1, line 12, to leave out the word "that," and to insert instead thereof the words "in the first."
In line 19, at the end, to insert the words:
and each year thereafter such deficiency payment less one shilling."—[Mr. H. Morris.]
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think I am right in thinking that this Amendment and a later one in the names of the same hon. Members go together, and I suggest that the two Amendments should be discussed together, because it is possible that, un less they were taken as one Amendment, the first Amendment might be out of order, since it might have the effect of making the Bill a temporary Measure.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
You have interpreted my intention correctly. I wanted this Amendment to be taken with the second Amendment to which my name is attached, with those of others of my hon. Friends, and which provides for a sliding scale. In the discussion on the Second Reading of the Bill, a general desire was expressed that the machinery of this Bill should be carefully controlled, and it was pointed out that it was to be a temporary expedient to tide over a particularly difficult time. I noted that the Secretary of State for Scotland, in his very interesting speech, accentuated the temporary character of the Bill and the fact that its purpose was not to encourage farmers to go on growing wheat, and certainly not to encourage, more farmers to grow wheat, but to enable them to get over the effects of the economic blizzard due to the catastrophic fall in prices, which brought about something little short of disaster to them. The arable farmer is entitled to every assistance that it is possible to give him, so long as—
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
The hon. Baronet will help some of us here if he will tell us exactly which Amendment he is moving.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
I beg to move, in page 1, line 12, to leave out the word "that," and to insert instead thereof the words "the first."
I understand that a discussion is to be allowed on this Amendment together with the later Amendment to which I have referred—In page 1, line 19, at the end, to insert the words "and each year thereafter such deficiency payment less one shilling"—which raises the principle of a sliding scale. We appreciate that at the present moment, after the sudden fall of prices, all the castings of the farmer have been upset. Farmers who have laid down fields of wheat naturally did so on the assumption that prices would be on something like the level of the last few years, but the general trade depression, which has been reflected in the price of wheat and other commodities, has caused great economic loss. It has been suggested by many of the farmers' best friends that this proposal should be a merely temporary one, and that the subsidy year by year should gradually disappear, because it is generally recognised that the land of this country, under modern conditions, would be far better 1829 utilised for the production of milk and the growing of vegetables, and that, although some land is recognised as more suitable for wheat production, every opportunity should be given to farmers to change over. I take it, from the speech of the Secretary of State for Scotland, that this is a warning notice, an opportunity to give them time. If this fall in prices is to be permanent, if the economic level of wheat is to remain as it is, obviously it would be placing too big a burden on the public and on the consumer to ask them to subsidise the wheat growers for all time, at any rate on a scale such as the present price of wheat would involve.
In the discussion on the previous Amendment, I was asked the very pertinent question Is this a subsidy to the poultry breeder—to the producer of eggs? If I have read correctly the various reports I have received, the answer to that question is in the affirmative. The bulk of this wheat is not to go to the mills, is not to be ground into flour in order to make bread, but is to be used to feed poultry. That is a very good purpose, and we want wheat to be grown for that purpose, but we do not want to subsidise it at the expense of the great mass of the people who spend such a large percentage of their income on bread. Therefore, we desire to provide at this early stage in the Bill that year by year this subsidy should decrease by one shilling. It is not a large amount, but it indicates an acceptance of the principle. I think that that is the desire of the Government, and I would suggest that this is the right place at which to put in this Amendment, aria that it will save a good deal of opposition if the principle of the sliding scale is accepted.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I expected that the Minister of Agriculture would be good enough to reply to the very eloquent speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris). I thought that, since the right hon. Gentleman is a Scotsman, the fact that this was a question affecting shillings would bring him to his feet. Perhaps if we talked in sixpences he would be a little more eloquent about the subsidy. The point which has been raised by the hon. Baronet is one of real substance. There is only one fault that I can find in the Amendment. If 1830 it were carried and became, part of the law, the subsidy would decline by one shilling per annum, but, if we had a Labour Government in absolute power in two years' time, we should want to repeal the whole of the provisions of the Act. In the main, I think that the Amendment ought to be supported, and I think I may say, on behalf of my hon. Friends here, that, if the hon. Baronet presses it to a Division, we shall vote with him I will give my reasons for saying that.
The explanatory Memorandum on the Bill clearly lays it down that 10s. per cwt. shall be, paid, and the figure of 10s., apparently, is going to remain for good, until a new Parliament alters or amends the Measure or repeals it entirely. I am sure that the Minister of Agriculture does not want the farmers of this country to secure any monopoly behind this wheat quota provision. I think I shall appeal to his sense of honour when I say that it is not the intention of the Government to allow farmers to take undue advantage of the provisions of the Bill, and to say to themselves, "We are safe now for good. We shall get the 10s.; we need not take any initiative; we need not do anything more than we have done in the past; the 10s. is safe, and, consequently, our banking accounts are safe as well."
I should imagine that the Minister of Agriculture himself, for the purpose of making this Measure effective, could use this graduated subsidy, decreasing by one shilling per annum, as a lever to bring agriculture in this country up to the standard that it ought to reach. The fear that some of us have in regard to all these subsidies—I am glad to see that the President of the Board of Trade is here—our fear with regard to all these subsidies for sugar beet and the rest, and the quotas, Customs duties and so forth that are being imposed in this country, is that some people will hide behind these provisions, and will never have anything to spur them on to do anything better. A reduction of one shilling per annum will be some incentive—
§ Mr. HERBERT WILLIAMS
On a point of Order. The whole of these speeches are in support of a proposal that the subsidy should decline cumulatively by one shilling a year, but, as I read the Amendment, that is not the proposal. The Amendment says that in the one year 1831 one shilling shall be taken off, and no more thereafter.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not think that that is a point of Order. The question of the meaning of the Amendment is one with which the hon. Member can deal in Debate in due course. The two Amendments, of course, are being discussed together.
§ Mr. DAVIES
The hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) will pardon me if I say that this is not the first time that he has interrupted me when I have been speaking. I make it a habit to listen to all the good things that are contained in his speeches, and perhaps he will bear with me in like manner. I thought I was quite within the ambit of the two Amendments when I argued that the intention of the Amendment which we are now discussing is that there shall be a diminution of one shilling per annum until the whole of this subsidy is wiped out in 10 years. That, I think, is the intention of the Amendment. In discussing these two Amendments together, we are naturally tied down to certain limits of Debate, but it is true to say that, if there is one industry in this country that requires an incentive to march with the times, it is the industry of agriculture.
We on these benches are told that we know nothing about agriculture, but I happen to have got as near to agriculture as any person in this House. I started my working life as a farm labourer, and it is not possible to get very much nearer to it than that. I think I know the farming community fairly well, and I should say that in some respects there has been very little change in the work of the agriculturists of this country for the last quarter of a century, or even half-century. When the farmers are getting by this Bill a subsidy on the lines suggested in the Explanatory Memorandum, the State ought at the same time to use some incentive to bring the agricultural industry of this country up to date. For that reason I trust that the Minister will give us some sort of reply, and will say what there is in principle against accepting this Amendment, which seems to me to be one of the most reasonable Amendments on the Paper.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I raised what I thought was a legitimate point of Order, but you ruled, Sir Dennis, that it was not so. I raised it because, while speeches have been made in support of the proposal that the deficiency payment should be diminished progressively by one shilling per annum, the Amendment, as I read it—and I have read it several times, and have discussed it with some of my hon. Friends—indicates that a deduction of one shilling would be made in the second year, and that thereafter the amount would always be one shilling below the original level. Therefore, it would not be a sliding scale at all, and, accordingly, I suggest that the speeches which have urged a sliding scale, on an Amendment which proposes a new fixed level one shilling below the original level, are not relevant to the subject under discussion.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
The words are these:and each year thereafter such deficiency payment less one shilling.and so forth.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Even if the words "and so forth" were in, it still would not me-an that, because "deficiency payment" is defined in a specific way. From that deficiency payment you deduct one shilling and you do not deduct anything else if the Bill lasts for 100 years. I think the Committee ought to reject an Amendment which neither the Mover nor the supporters understand.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
My task appears to have been made more simple. I cannot accept the Amendment, and it should be fairly clear why that is so. As I understand it, the theory is that the grower of wheat shall get the full ten shillings in the first year and thereafter there should be a reduction of one shilling. I do not think the Government are wrong in taking the view that it is far wiser definitely to settle that the farmers shall know for certain for the next three years what they may expect, so that they may reorganise themselves, if that is possible, and at the end of this three years provision is made for the whole circumstances, which no one can foresee at present, to be considered. From the monetary point of view, and indeed from the whole movement of world considerations, no one can 1833 forecast with any certainty what is going to happen within even a limited period. The decision that the Government have taken has been to encourage the farming community by giving them a certainty for the next three years with a clear possibility of a revision at the end of that period. These Amendments, so far as I have been able to consider them, do not appear to provide for the standard price being re-stabilised after the third year, and their effect would be to continue to operate indefinitely, and that, of course, would conflict with the provision in Clause 2 (2), enabling the standard price to be re-stabilised after the third year by Provisional Order and deny to the House that proper opportunity, in my opinion, of reviewing the circumstances. I am unable to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I rather regret the right hon. Gentleman's reply, particularly in view of his statement on the Second Reading, as follows:Before I sit down, may I say to the agricultural community that this places in their hands an opportunity which, if they do not use and operate it to their own advantage, will be to their own detriment."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1932; col. 978, Vol. 262.]Clearly he must have had in mind that this was an opportunity for agriculture, provided by the consumers of wheat with a considerable sum of money unconditionally over a period of time, so to reorganise themselves that, where wheat could be grown economically, they could continue to concentrate upon wheat. Where, however, it was necessary and wise to transfer to some other form of cultivation, then during the interval between the commencement of the Act and any fixed date three or five years ahead the right hon. Gentleman issues a word of warning. "Here is an unconditional sum of money. We hope that agriculturists will take advantage of this so to Reorganise themselves as to be in a position at the end of a period of time to stand on their own feet without any further protection from the State." Now he tells us, if we were to do anything to-day that would create uncertainty, it would be damaging to the agricultural industry. The Secretary for Scotland, supporting this indirect tax upon the people's food, made one or two observa- 1834 tions which are important and which ought to be repeated. He said:Nobody has suggested, as far as I know, in supporting the Bill that it is along the lines of cereal farming that the revival of agricultural prosperity will come. It is not my idea and I do not think it is the idea of my right hon. Friend.Is it not fair to assume that the right hon. Gentleman had in mind that the interregnum should be used by agriculturists so to re-adapt and re-organise themselves as to prepare at the end of a period to be able to care for themselves without any subsidy from the State? He went on further:Only recently a correspondent of the "Times" urged that there should be no limit imposed but that in his view it would be unreasonable that it should extend beyond a period of 10 years which is rather longer than I should give it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1932; col. 1074, Vol. 262.]It is true that he proceeded later on to make reference to Clause 2 (2) where some sort of committee may be set up which may give a report, not on the activities of the farmers, but on the economic conditions affecting the agricultural industry, but not necessarily wheat growers. There is no sort of guarantee that at the end of three years there is going to be a real review of the terms imposed in the Bill.
It may be that individually the farmer is as efficient as any farmer on the Continent, but it is not so much efficiency under the old order of farming that is necessary in 1932. It is efficiency in. the twentieth century sense that must dominate the agricultural life of the country if we are to maintain our agricultural population. Many people, though certainly not Members of the Opposition, regard agriculture as one great industry. We recognise it to be numerous industries all linked up one with the other. We recognise, also, that, while wheat may not be an economic proposition at the moment, live stock, dairy farming, fruit and poultry farming may be sound economics for the farmer. We should never object to avoiding excessive losses for the efficient farmer. We should not hesitate to help the farmer to transfer from one method of production to another. But we should never, I hope, guarantee for an unlimited period an unlimited amount of money without demanding from the farmers that 1835 they utilise their land to the best possible advantage during any temporary period. While, apart altogether from cereals, we are importing £230,000,000 worth of meat and live stock generally, fruit and vegetables, there are ample opportunities for the farmers during the period of three years so to reorganise as to make themselves capable of carrying on without any permanent unlimited subsidy.
I hope the right hon. Gentleman, if he wants to carry the nation with him, will reconsider his decision. If, as he states, the urban population is now anxious to help agriculturists, he ought at least to try to satisfy our urban populations that safeguards and guarantees will be embodied in the Bill and that, for the money they expend and the investment that they make, a return will be forthcoming in improved efficiency on modern lines, transferring from one method of cultivation to another, increasing, if they can, our rural population and doing the things for which this Bill is supposed to be designed. Unless the right hon. Gentleman is willing to do that, I am afraid we are obliged to support the Amendment. While agriculture in some form may be assisted, no Government is justified in giving an unlimited subsidy without any sort of terms whatever.
§ Mr. DAVID MASON
The Minister opposed the Amendment on the ground that he desired to give certainty. We support the Amendment because we recognise that the Bill is diverting the energy of farmers to wheat production by artificially stimulating it and, if we gradually reduce the subsidy, only the wheat that is necessary will be produced and the energy of the farmer will not be diverted to the production of wheat, for which I think many experts will agree this country is not suitable, but they will concentrate on what is more suitable, and that will be to the advantage of the country in general. I object to subsidies and I support the Amendment, because it leads to a reduction of the subsidy, and a smaller subsidy is better than a large one. I fail to see the substance in the right hon. Gentleman's argument that we should oppose the Amendment because it gives certainty to the farmer. Surely he does not want by taxing consumers, to divert farmers 1836 from that which nature and everything else has given them an advantage in doing for the benefit of themselves and the country to do that which is not conducive to their advantage and to that of the country.
I hope he will reconsider his decision. It does not invalidate the Measure. The object is to induce farmers to do that which is in their own interest. The effect of gradually reducing the subsidy will be that the farmer will improve his methods of farming and will not produce wheat if it is more profitable to produce barley or other cereals, but will concentrate on that which nature and his own abilities make him most likely to succeed in. I am sure my hon. Friend will support the suggestion of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. R. Davies) if he is prepared to go to a Division. This is not in any sense an attack on the Bill. It is not a wrecking Amendment but a constructive Amendment. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider the matter before Report.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
I think that the speech of the hon. Member who moved the Amendment requires some answer. If the speech had been in support of the proviso in Sub-section (2) of Clause 2 it would have been admirably to the point and certainly in order. The speech was devoted to trying to show that there should be some limit to the period during which the farmers should have security. The Minister of Agriculture has already pointed out that the proviso to Subsection (2) of Clause 2 makes it clear that the fixed contribution to be made to the farmer for growing the wheat is strictly limited to a period of three years. The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams), when he referred to that proviso, emphasised that the Minister may appoint a committee, but in Acts of Parliament, drafted by Government Departments, the word "shall" rarely appears, but is put in this Bill to make it absolutely mandatory. At the end of three years a committee must be appointed because "the Minister shall appoint" it, and not only that, the Committee "shall report." Therefore, the period of security and certainty for which those of us who represent agricultural constituencies ask is strictly limited under the Bill to three years.
1837 I entirely agree with the point which the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) has made, that the Amendment does not provide for a sliding scale diminution, and also with the objection raised from the Front Bench opposite, that, if it did mean that, it would protract and not diminish the period of certainty, the Amendment would substitute for a period strictly limited to three years an indefinite period which might go on for many years as long as the 10s. held out. I have not heard any speech, including the speech of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. D. Mason), in support of the Amendment which has either been appropriate to the Amendment or which has not been in opposition to the case of the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris). It is necessary to point out to the Committee that already the Bill fully provides for the principle which is desired in the Amendment, namely, a limited period of control. The farmer will be judged, undoubtedly, at the end of three years by the opportunities he has taken in order to obtain the full advantage of the Bill. That is why the Bill is drafted in its present form, and in those circumstances what is the purpose of the Amendment, unless, as it appears from the speeches to be, it is purely destructive?
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
On a point of Order. There seems to be considerable confusion as to whether the second Amendment—in page 1, line 19, at the end, to insert the wordsand each year thereafter such deficiency payment less one shilling"—is one which means that you take one shilling off and no more, or whether it means paying a graduated sum. If you consider that the Amendment means graduation, will it mean that certain Amendments in pages 416 and 417 dealing with the question of graduation will fall to the ground without discussion? I should like to know whether we are having a full discussion on graduation now or whether we shall have it on a later occasion.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not think that I can give any definite Ruling as to what will happen to later Amendments upon the Paper as long as the discussion continues on the particular Amendments 1838 which are now being discussed together. The correct construction or interpretation of the words proposed to be inserted by these Amendments is not a matter which I have to decide. I may consider such a question for the purpose of considering whether an Amendment is in order or not, but it is for hon. Members to make up their minds what an Amendment means or to express the different opinions which they may hold as to the correct meaning of it.
§ Mr. COVE
If the Amendment does not allow us to discuss the sliding scale portion because the Amendment does not include that principle, is it in order for the discussion to range over the question of whether we should have a sliding scale or not? If it is a flat rate 1s. deduction during the period of its operation, and does not include the sliding scale principle, are the Committee in order in discussing the principle of the sliding scale?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not quite see that that is a point of Order for me to decide. Certain hon. Members have discussed the Amendment upon the basis of it meaning one thing, namely, a sliding scale increasing every year, and other hon. Members have taken a totally different view as to the meaning of it. The discussion or the decision to which the Committee have not yet come upon this Amendment may have a bearing upon later Amendments, and I am certainly not going to give any Ruling on later Amendments upon a hypothetical suggestion as to what may happen.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
Will it be in order for Members of the Committee to discuss upon this Amendment the principle of a sliding scale, the diminution of any subsidy?
§ Sir P. HARRIS
I understand that the Amendment in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for West Birkenhead (Lieut.-Colonel J. Sandman Allen), to which my name is attached, on page 417 of the Order Paper—in Clause 2, page 4, line 24, at the end, to insert the wordsand in relation to each subsequent cereal year during the continuance of this Act a price per hundredweight less by five and one-third pence than the standard price applicable to the preceding cereal year,"—which raises the question of the sliding scale, has been ruled out of order. If 1839 that Amendment were to be called, it would be a convenient place at which to have the discussion.
§ The CHAIRMAN
No Amendment on page 417 has been ruled out of order yet or will be ruled out of order until the time comes.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Frankly, the hon. and learned Gentleman has put me in some difficulty, and that is why I have been careful to say that I will not decide a point of Order upon Amendments which come later until the time comes. In my opinion, the actual wording of the two Amendments under discussion would have the result of decreasing the payments once and once only. They do not, in my opinion, effect a sliding scale arrangement at all.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
The difficulty we are in is that Amendments have been put clown dealing with the important principle of the sliding scale. Another Amendment of a different nature has been moved in the Committee, and the discussion has tended to range over the same principle. The point upon which we require guidance is as to whether our only opportunity of discussing the principle of the sliding scale is upon the present Amendment, or whether the Amendments dealing with it will be called. As it is a question of your selection and not a matter of order, may we ask for your guidance?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I certainly shall be most anxious, as I always am, not to shut out the discussion of any Amendment involving a definite question of principle. I have already said that I do not think that I can properly be asked to give a Ruling upon those later Amendments at the present time. But I have gone further than that, and I have said also what is my personal opinion as to the construction to be placed upon those Amendments. I must ask the hon. Member to rely upon that and upon my endeavouring to give the Committee every possible opportunity later on of discussing questions which hon. Members would like to discuss.
§ Mr. D. MASON
With all respect to your Ruling, I understand you interpret 1840 this Amendment as only affecting the production for one year.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is not a Ruling, as the hon. Member would have realised if he had heard exactly waht I said.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That was not a Ruling. In regard to what was likely to be the conduct of the general Debate of the Committee in the future, in order to guide hon. Members and to assist them if possible, I told them, for what it was worth, my view of the correct construction of the Amendment. The hon. Member himself or any other Member of the Committee may differ from that construction and place his own construction upon those words.
§ Question put, "That the word 'that' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee proceeded to a Division.
§ Sir A. Lambert Ward and Lord Erskine were nominated Tellers for the Ayes, and Sir Percy Harris and Mr. Holdsworth were nominated Tellers for the Woes; and the Tellers having come to the Table it was stated by Sir A. Lambert Ward that a Member who had not been nominated had told during part of the Division.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I understand that of the Members appearing at the Table one of them was not telling throughout the whole Division. The Division must, therefore, be regarded as void. I will put the Question again.
§ Question, "That the word 'that' stand part of the Clause," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I beg to move, in page 1, line 15, to leave out the words "deficiency payment," and to insert instead thereof the words, "wheat subsidy."
There are many definitions of what a deficiency is and what the word "deficiency" means. So far as this Bill is concerned we think that the words "wheat subsidy," would define clearly that money is being given to agriculture. [Interruption.] We are satisfied that "deficiency payment" is not a term that ought to be used in these circumstances, and that in the interest of plain, honest truth the words "wheat subsidy" ought to be substituted. [Interruption.]
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must ask hon. Members at the Bar of the House and elsewhere to maintain order and make less noise.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
It is desirable in the interests of the Debate that we should make our points as quickly as possible. In seeking to exclude the words "deficiency payment" and to substitute the words "wheat subsidy," we think that the term which we wish to substitute is plain and understandable. After all, this is a wheat subsidy Bill, and that ought to be the name given to it in the Bill. Whether the Act will have a long life or a short one makes no difference. The right hon. Gentleman ought to stand up to what is his real intention and to let the country, the farmers and the consumers know that he is giving a wheat subsidy for a period. If he will do that, the necessary warning will be issued. There are many people who are against providing unconditional subsidies. The acceptance of our Amendment would be a warning to agriculturists and everybody else.
§ Mr. COVE
I should like to say a few words on this Amendment, not only in the interests of truth but in the interests of the farmers as well. The word "deficiency" has many meanings. I have been at some pains to go to the Library and have a look at Webster's Dictionary, and when I read out what the word "deficiency" means the right hon. Gentleman and those who are supporting this Bill will realise the very great dangers in incorporating such an ugly word in the Bill. What does Webster's Dictionary say? The word "deficiency" may mean a "deficiency of blood." I do not suppose that hon. Members opposite will charge the farmers with a deficiency of blood. Then it also says:Marlborough was so miserably ignorant that his deficiencies made him the ridicule of his contemporaries.The word "deficiency" has a very awkward meaning on occasions, and I suggest that in the interests of the farmers it would be a good thing if it was cut clean out of this Bill. I do not suppose that the right hon. Gentleman would like one to say that this is a "deficiency payment" for blood, a deficiency payment for ineffectiveness, a deficiency payment for bad farming. I do not like to think that the Government had any of these suggestions in their mind when 1842 they put the word in the Bill, nor do I think that they meant to cast any slur on the mental capacity and character of farmers by any direct or indirect suggestion. Therefore, I suggest that t he right hon. Gentleman should take this word out and put the word "subsidy" in its place. What does Webster say about the word "subsidy"? When we come to this definition we are getting at the truth. We cannot get it out, of the Government; and we do not get it in the Bill. What does Webster say?
§ Mr. COVE
It says that to subsidise means:to furnish with a subsidy; to purchase the assistance of by the payment of a subsidy.Now we are getting at the truth. This is a payment not only to put agriculture on an economic basis but a payment for the assistance of the farmers in a political party sense. Webster also says that to subsidise means:To aid or promote as a private enterprise with public money. A sum of money granted by one state to another as to a friendly power.The "friendly power" in this case is the National Farmers Union. Frankly, I do not think that the farmers will object to the word "subsidy" going into the Bill. They are plain, blunt Englishmen, and do not mind calling a spade a spade. Why should the Government object? It is very important in Bills of this kind that the exact meaning of the Government should be stated in blunt and unequivocal terms. This is a subsidy. It is a payment out of the pockets of the consumers to aid the farming industry, to aid a friendly power on the side of the Government, and in the interests of verbal veracity and clarity, and in the interests of political purity, the Government should accept the Amendment. It will not alter the Bill in any material provision. The money will still go into the pockets of the farmers, the consumers will still have to pay it, and the price of bread will still go up. But it would make it perfectly clear to the people of this land exactly what the Government are doing in this Bill.
§ The FIRST COMMISSIONER of WORKS (Mr. Ormsby-Gore)
The hon. Member has made quite clear the purpose for which this Amendment is 1843 moved. It is entirely a window-dressing proposal. It is moved for purely political purposes. I am not in the least afraid of the word "subsidy" if it would read appropriately here in the Bill. But as a matter of fact it would not; and it is absolutely essential that the words "deficiency payment" should be used because they express the scheme of the Bill, which is to provide for a payment, to make up the deficiency between whatever is the market price available and the standard price laid down in the Bill. That proposal cannot be expressed in Parliamentary language in any other way. The hon. Member has been searching into Webster's dictionary and has given us some definitions of the word "deficiency." The word "deficiency" in the Bill is used in an adjectival manner, whereas he quoted it when used as a noun. It is used in connection with the word "payment" in the Bill, the word "payment" is clarified for the purposes of this Bill by the word "deficiency," in order to make it clear what is happening and how the "deficiency payment" is to be arrived at by the calculations necessary in the subsequent provisions of the Bill effecting that purpose.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
We are at any rate delighted to get the admission of the First Commissioner of Works that this is a subsidy, and nothing but a subsidy, and entirely a subsidy. We hope that the rest of the country will realise it. While the right hon. Gentleman does not desire to have it on the face of this Bill, nevertheless we are glad to have had his admission.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
The hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) should know that a subsidy means something which comes direct from the Government, but whether he knew it or not the object of this Amendment is to try and make it appear in the Bill that the Government are paying a subsidy to the farmers. By keeping the words in the Bill as they are we show clearly that there is no subsidy coming from the taxpayers. Whether this is a deficiency payment or not does not matter at the moment—I am not discussing that—but it is not a subsidy in the ordinary sense—it is not a subsidy out of Government funds.
§ Mr. TINKER
I agree that we ought to have the scheme stated in plain terms. Our intention in moving this Amendment is that as this Bill must go through—I do not deny that for a moment because the Government with their enormous majority can carry any Measure they desire—the people should know exactly what they are paying. They will have to pay this tax, or subsidy, or deficiency payment. The question is, Can we put it in the plainest possible terms? The words "deficiency payment" may not convey to the people the fact that they are paying a subsidy to the farmers, but if the word "subsidy" was used they would know exactly where the money was coming from and where it was going. Our intention and desire is to let the public know exactly what is happening, and we think that the word "subsidy" would suit our purpose better.
§ Mr. TURTON
While I do not want the Minister of Agriculture to accept the word "subsidy" because this is not a subsidy in any shape or form, I would ask him to consider whether the word "deficiency" is the correct word to use in this connection. In the Bill it is described asa payment. … representing. … the difference (hereinafter referred to as the price deficit.'The proper term to use, I think, is "difference payment." There are two objections to the word "deficiency." By some farmers it may be considered to have some connection with the bankruptcy court or a mental institution. As to the bankruptcy court, farmers are unfortunately in such a state, owing to the last Socialist Government, that many of them are faced with the bankruptcy court, and as to the mental institution it may be that some farmers are rather apprehensive about it. Two predecessors of the right hon. Gentleman at the Ministry of Agriculture under a Socialist Government have described the farmers as inefficient, and it is not all farmers who are quite so well instructed as to know whether the opposite of being efficient is deficient or inefficient. I would ask the Minister to consider some change.
§ Major GWILYM LLOYD GEORGE
In regard to the charge that this is a window-dressing Amendment, the same observation might be made against the Government in bringing forward this Bill. 1845 In the Memorandum it is said that it is introducedto provide wheat growers … with a secure market and an enhanced price for home-grown wheat of millable quality, without a subsidy from the Exchequer.I cannot see the difference between "subsidy" and "deficiency payment." The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) does himself less than justice when he says that a subsidy comes direct from the Exchequer. Where does the Exchequer get the money? Whether you call it a "subsidy" or "deficiency payment" makes little difference to the man who has to pay; whether it is a deficiency payment or a subsidy it will have to come out of the pockets of the taxpayers.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. J JONES
I represent a constituency consisting mainly of people who will not pay the subsidy directly but will certainly pay it indirectly. The majority of them have to earn their breakfasts before they can eat them. Every halfpenny on the loaf of bread means to them something more than a State subsidy; it means a tax upon their stomachs and their children's stomachs. As is well known by those who care to know anything about it, the poorer people are the larger the family generally. Every increase in the price of the main article of their diet means a tax. We have heard people protesting against the Income Tax. Do they understand what it means to a man with a wife and six children to keep, to have to pay what is in effect an Income Tax upon a small income? That is particularly the case with the casual labourer of the type that I represent—a man who is doing well if he gets three days' work a, week and is now averaging only about one day's work a week.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That makes the hon. Member's task very much easier, because he has only to discuss the word by which it is called or proposed to be called as appearing on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. JONES
That is what I am doing. Whether it is described as a direct subsidy from the State, as in honesty it ought to be described, or as an indirect tax on an article that the people have 1846 to consume, is all the same to the consumer, for he will have to pay. It would be more honest to call the payment what it really is, a subsidy from the state, guaranteed by law. The State lays down the law that a certain amount of money has to be found, whoever may find it. We know from experience who will find it. The common people will have to pay the bill at the finish. No one else can pay. I have not studied the dictionary as some of my comrades have done, because I have never had the chance. I have had to study picks and shovels instead of dictionaries. Hon. Members may quibble as much as they like about the meaning of words, but the Bill really means that the State has given a guarantee to an industry. Once an industry is given a privilege how is it to be taken away? We have had some experience. It will probably mean about 50 years of hard struggle to take the privilege away. Why are the Government not straight and honest with the people? Why do they not tell the people what is meant? The Government mean to subsidise agriculture, and in this case the farmer is used only as a tool. The real intention is to improve the value of land for the landowner—[Laughter.]. Oh, yes; hon. Members may laugh, but we know what has happened in every case in which we have passed legislation dealing with the land. The unfortunate person at the bottom has always been used as the instrument to make the thing popular, and the other people have run away with the swag.
§ Mr. MICHAEL BEAUMONT
The hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) said that it was a matter of no importance to the people who paid whether it was called a deficiency payment or a State subsidy. I suggest that there is a considerable difference. In the case of a State subsidy, administered from the Treasury, the money that is paid has to filter its way from the tax-collecting machinery to the Treasury, and some of it sticks on the way, and then it has to filter its way down again—[Interruption.] The people who collect the 1847 taxes and administer them have to be paid. This is a deficiency payment and not a subsidy, and 100 per cent. of the money is going to the people who will receive the payment.
§ Question put, "That the words 'deficiency payment' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 305; Noes, 45.1849
|Division No. 97.]||AYES.||[5.38 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Doran, Edward||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Dower, Captain A. V. G.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Albery, Irving James||Drewe, Cedric||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Duckworth, George A. V.||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Duggan, Hubert John||Lees-Jones, John|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Dunglass, Lord||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Eady, George H.||Levy, Thomas|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Eden, Robert Anthony||Lindsay, Noel Ker|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd. Gr'n)|
|Balley, Eric Alfred George||Ellis, Robert Geoffrey||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Elmley, Viscount||Loder, Captain J. de Vere|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander|
|Balniel, Lord||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Lymington, Viscount|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Falle Sir Bertram G.||Lyons, Abraham Montagu|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Mabane, William|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Fox, Sir Gifford||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Beaumont, Hn. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Magnay, Thomas|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Glossop, C. W. H.||Maitland, Adam|
|Blindell, James||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Goldie, Noel B.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Gower, Sir Robert||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Marjoribanks, Edward|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Greene, William P. C.||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Millar, Sir James Duncan|
|Buchan, John||Hales, Harold K.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Buchan-Hepbu[...]n, P. G. T.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Milne, John Sydney Wardlaw.|
|Burghley, Lord||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)|
|Burnett, John George||Hanbury, Cecil||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Hanley, Dennis A.||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
|Caine, G. R. Hall.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Morgan, Robert H.|
|Carver, Major William H.||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsf'd)||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)|
|Castle Stewart, Earl||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Morrison, William Shephard|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hepworth, Joseph||Muirhead, Major A. J.|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Hillman, Dr. George B.||Munro, Patrick|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Nail-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.|
|Chalmers, John Rutherford||Hornby, Frank||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Horobin, Ian M.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)|
|Chotzner, Alfred James||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Normand, Wilfrid Guild|
|Christie, James Archibald||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||North, Captain Edward T.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Nunn, William|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Cooke, Douglas||Hurd, Percy A.||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Peake, Captain Osbert|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romford)||Pearson, William G.|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Peat, Charles U.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Iveagh, Countess of||Penny, Sir George|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Petherick, M.|
|Cross, R. H.||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Crossley, A. C.||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Potter, John|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Ker, J. Campbell||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Kimball, Lawrence||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Denville, Alfred||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Dickie, John P.||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Donner, P. W.||Knebworth, Viscount||Ramsden, E.|
|Rankin, Robert||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)||Train, John|
|Rawson, Sir Cooper||Skelton, Archibald Noel||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Rea, Walter Russell||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Reid, David D. (County Down)||Smithers, Waldron||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Remer, John R.||Somervell, Donald Bradley||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.||Somerville, Annesley A (Windsor)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip||Soper, Richard||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour.|
|Robinson, John Roland||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Ropner, Colonel L.||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Rosbotham, S. T.||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Ross, Ronald D.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.||Stones, James||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Runge, Norah Cecil||Strauss, Edward A.||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||Strickland, Captain W. F.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Russell, Richard John (Eddlsbury)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Salmon, Major Isidore||Sueter, Roar-Admiral Murray F.||Withers, Sir John James|
|Salt, Edward W.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||Sutcliffe, Harold||Womersley, Walter James|
|Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Tate, Mavis Constance||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Savery, Samuel Servington||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Scone, Lord||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Thompson, Luke|
|Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Thorp, Linton Theodore||Sir Victor Warrender and Lord|
|Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Erskine.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Batey, Joseph||Grundy, Thomas W.||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Briant, Frank||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Buchanan, George||Hirst, George Henry||Price, Gabriel|
|Cape, Thomas||Holdsworth, Herbert||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Cove, William G.||Jenkins, Sir William||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Thorne, William James|
|Daggar, George||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Wellhead, Richard C.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kirkwood, David||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|Edwards, Charles||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Lawson, John James||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Leonard, William|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Logan, David Gilbert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Lunn, William||Mr. Duncan Graham and Mr.|
§ Sir JOSEPH LAMB
I beg to move, in page 1, line 15, to leave out from the word "representing" to the word "the" in line 17.
The words which I wish to delete are:subject to the deduction to be made under the provisions of this Act, relating to administrative expenses.The object of the Amendment is to transfer the liability for the payment of the expenses from the deficiency fund to the Wheat Commission itself. As the Bill is drafted the deficiency payment would be subject to deductions and one of the deductions would be in respect of the expenses incurred by the Wheat Commission in administering the Act. I wish to remove a feeling of uncertainty which is in the minds of agriculturists at present as to how much of this 45 shillings they are going to receive. I am not going into the merits or demerits of the word "deficiency," about which we have already heard so much. If I 1850 wanted to discuss any word in this connection it would be "deduction" and not "deficiency" and I think I should not require a dictionary so much as a ready-reckoner in the consideration of that matter. But, as I say, there exists a great deal of uncertainty as to the amount of the expenses which are likely to be charged upon this fund. There are not only the expenses of the Wheat Commission but the expenses which the Commission can allow the Millers Corporation to incur. We know that there is always a, fear of the unknown and we would like to hear from the Minister his anticipation of what this expenditure is likely to be. On 6,000,000 quarters I calculate that a penny a quarter would bring in £25,000, but a very much larger sum may be required. We do not know whether it will be £25,000 or £50,000. The Bill gives no indication of what the expenses are likely to be.
1851 There is another question connected with the subject matter of the Amendment and that is the question of responsibility is in the hands of the Wheat Commission. The producers who are entitled to the deficiency payment, whatever it happens to be, after these deductions have been made, are certainly to have a deficiency in the matter of representation. It would be out of order for me now to enter upon a discussion of the representation provided for in the Bill. That subject will arise later, but I think I may point out, incidentally, that the representation of the producers on his Commission is four out of 14. The responsibility and the power of control do not lie in the hands of the representatives of the people who are entitled to the deficiency payment whatever it may be. The expression "guaranteed price" has been frequently used. Whatever this price may be it cannot be properly speaking termed a guaranteed price. You cannot have a guaranteed price unless you know what deductions are to be made from it. A guaranteed price which is liable to unstated and unknown deductions is not really a guaranteed price at all.
I should say that I move this Amendment entirely in the interests of the good work which the Bill is designed to do. It is not my object to criticise the Bill. I support the Bill strongly and I do not wish to increase the difficulties of the Minister in passing a Measure like this, which is necessarily, complicated. But the right hon. Gentleman's own words were that the farmers under the Bill would know what they could expect. I would point out to him that they do not know what they are to expect when they do not know what the deductions are to be. This fund is liable to other deductions to besides those for the expenses to which I have already referred. Where the wheat produced is above the maximum, deductions will be made on that account, but I do not include that in my comment because that is a matter which is to a certain extent within the power of the farmers themselves. The responsibility in that case lies with them. I do not think however that expenses over which they have no control should be placed upon it. Whatever price is fixed should be outside the question of the cost of administration.
1852 If the Amendment is carried, it will mean that the deductions from the fund will only be those for which the farmer himself is liable. The administration will be the liability of the Wheat Commission who have the right and the power to collect the fund for making the deficiency payment. Whether the deficiency is larger or smaller, the responsibility does not rest with the producer but with those who are administering the scheme. I hope the Minister will see the justice of the claim which I am making and in which, I may say, I am backed by the whole of the agriculturists. [HON. MEMBERS "Oh!"] Yes I can say that in making this request, I have behind me the whole of the organised agriculturists and, the agriculturists are very well organised at the present time. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will give careful consideration to my proposal.
§ Sir ERNEST SHEPPERSON
I wish to support the Amendment. I hope it will be possible for the Minister to give us some information as to the estimated cost of administration. As the Mover of the Amendment has pointed out, there is considerable doubt among the agricultural community upon this point. Some think that these administration expenses may mean a matter of shillings per quarter, but I hope and trust that they will only amount to a matter of pennies per quarter. A statement from the Minister on the point would, I think, do much to relieve the fears of the agricultural community.
The Amendment raises the whole question of who is going to pay these administrative expenses. As the Bill stands, they will be paid from the Wheat Fund and the Wheat Fund is made up of the quota payments made by the millers. Therefore, it might be assumed that the millers quota payments would bear this cost. But is that really so? The main object of the Bill is to give the wheat-grower a standard figure of 45s. per quarter. That figure is made up, in the first instance, from what the wheat-grower sells and supplementary to that and at a later date there is a deficiency payment representing the difference between the average price made by the farmer and the standard figure. It is from the Wheat Fund that the cost of administration is going to be met. Therefore I submit that the wheat-grower who 1853 is to receive less in deficiency payment owing to these administrative expenses will really be bearing the cost of administration. Those who pay the piper have a right to call the tune. The control of this administration and the control of the Wheat Commission and their appointment, should be, more and more, placed in the hands of those who pay, that is the wheat-growers of the country.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I wish to congratulate the two hon. Members who have just spoken on their unblushing audacity. Here are the farmers about to get a subsidy out of the pockets of the consumer and they will not even pay for the machinery to get that subsidy. I do not think it is necessary to say any more, but I thank the hon. Member for Leominster (Sir E. Shepperson) for his last remark, that those who pay the piper have the right to call the tune. We shall bear that remark in mind during these discussions. As the consumers of this country are going to pay the piper, or in this case the farmer, I think they have a right to call the tune as to the way in which the farmers carry on their business.
Lieut.-Colonel J. SANDEMAN ALLEN
I wish to oppose this proposal. I submit that the millers are paying the piper. The millers have told the Government that they intend to do all they can, so as to avoid passing the amount on to the consumers. If, however, they have to pass it on, it is between the millers and the consumers as to who is paying the piper. I agree that whoever pays the piper ought to call the tune, but in this case it is certainly not the farmer who pays the piper. He is the man who is going to benefit from this Bill, and the man who is going to benefit ought to pay the expenses. The farmers say that they can make a profit at 45s. a quarter. If that is the case, then these expenses will be put against their profits for Income Tax purposes, and they will get something back in that way.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Viscount WOLMER
The speech of the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) is typical of the attitude of the Socialist party towards agriculture. Because there is a Bill introduced to help farmers, because we are redeeming our promises 1854 to help agriculture, because we have been suggesting an improvement of the machinery of the Bill to increase the advantage which the farmers will get from the Bill, the hon. Member wonder6 at our audacity. I can only wonder at the audacity of any hon. Member opposite in speaking on agriculture at all, after their record on this question.
§ Viscount WOLMER
We did a great deal more in those five years than hon. Members opposite accomplished during their tenure of office, and we shall do a great deal more during the next five years. I hope very much that the Minister will give sympathetic consideration to this Amendment, for two reasons. In the first place, it seems to me that it will make for economy, because, so long as the administration expenses can be taken out of the contribution that the millers have to make, those very businesslike people will have no interest in keeping the administration expenses down, but if any increase in the administration expenses is going to increase the levy that is being made on the millers, then we shall have their very active interest to reduce those expenses to a minimum. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb) pointed out, it will be quite impossible for the farmers to influence the administration expenses, and I want to make it everybody's business to make those expenses as small as possible.
Secondly, I think this concession, which I hope will not be very expensive, would cause very great satisfaction among the agricultural community, because farmers want to know what the price is going to be. At present they have not the slightest idea what the administration expenses will amount to, and I should think that even the Minister himself will find it rather difficult to give us a firm estimate. This Bill has commanded the enthusiastic support of practically everybody who has studied the agricultural problem. The Government have not fixed a high price for wheat, and quite rightly so, and they have limited the wheat acreage, again, I think, on perfectly correct principles; but let us keep to the principle of giving to agriculture something that is definite, so that the farmers 1855 may know that within the acreage of wheat that is permitted they will be assured of the guaranteed price.
After all, when we have advocated this policy, we have laid the greatest stress on the guarantee and on the importance of the farmers knowing where they were. Therefore, I suggest that it would be a very graceful concession if my right hon. Friend could meet us on this point, and I hope it would not be a very expensive one. If proper economy is observed, it ought not to be a large matter of £ s. d., but the acceptance of the Amendment would make for economy and, at the same time, give a greater sense of security to the farmers and greater encouragement to them to do what the Government are anxious that they should do. Therefore, I hope that either now or on Report, if my right hon. Friend cannot do it now, he will see his way to meet us in this respect.
§ Mr. TINKER
The Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) commented on my hon. Friend the Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) being audacious. I think he is right in mentioning that, because in his own capacity he has been audacious in dealing with matters about which he does not know very much. He got into the Post Office business, and he was certainly audacious, because from time to time he has wandered there and has got off very lightly with it. He commented upon our being audacious in speaking about agriculture, but all that we are seeking to do is to protect the consumer. We may not know as much about agriculture as do hon. Members opposite, but we do know when we are being put upon, and in this matter we think we are. The Government are giving a large subsidy to the agricultural people, and this Amendment means that the deficiency payment shall be increased, so that, whatever the cost of administration may be, it shall be a further burden on the price of wheat. That is what it means, because what the agriculturists are asking is that this item shall be exclusive of what they shall get back; and, if that is so, it means an extra price on whatever the consumer has to pay.
The hon. Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb) would be very pleased if he had heard the comment of my hon. Friend the 1856 Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey), who said, "The hon. Member for Stone is a very decent chap." I said, "He is, if he gets what he is after." He is very bland and very nice, but beneath it there is something more for the agricultural people that he is after. We say that the agricultural community have done very well indeed under this Bill. They may seek to put the extra burden on the consumer, but it is the last straw that breaks the camel's back, and I would advise them to let well alone and not to ask for more. I hope that the Minister will not contemplate giving way any further to his friends on this matter. He may have a desire to do so, but I think he will be very unwise if he gives way any further on this Bill. What the agricultural people are getting is quite sufficient, and it ought to satisfy them at least for the time being.
§ Mr. TURTON
I support the Amendment on lines different from those of the hon. Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb), who moved it. I want to ask the Minister whether, if you take out these words, there will be any alteration in the meaning of the Clause at all. The Clause reads:every registered grower shall, subject to the provisions of this Act and of any regulations or by-laws made thereunder, be entitled to receive from the Wheat commission in respect of every hundredweight of such wheat of his own growing sold by him in that year, not being wheat harvested before the year nineteen hundred and thirty-two, a payment (hereinafter referred to as a deficiency payment') representing"—Then you have this new and, in my view, redundant limitation:subject to the deduction to be made under the provisions of this Act relating to administrative expenses.So long as you have in the Bill Subsection (6) of Clause 9, surely that is a provision of the Bill, and if I am right on this purely drafting point, I would appeal to the Minister to take out the sentence that, in the view of so many speakers, is so very unpleasant and obnoxious and, in my view, also redundant.
§ Mr. REMER
Some reference has been made to the piper playing the tune. It is my regret that there is any tune to pipe at all. I believe that the effect of the Bill, as drafted, is that the adminis- 1857 tration costs will be so much deducted from the price which the farmer will get that he is going to be very much disillusioned. Therefore, I appeal to my right hon. Friend to see if he cannot find some way in which he can simplify the Bill and make those costs less than they are at present, and in that way bring the cost to the farmer very much lower than it is. I hope that he will respond to the appeal that was made by the hon. Member for Leominster (Sir E. Shepperson) to give some indication as to what calculation he has made of the amount that will be deducted from the price that the farmer will get, in order that he may have some kind of guarantee as to the price that he will receive under the Bill.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
No doubt the Committee is anxious to realise what this burden may impose upon the farming community, and with that anxiety I have, of course, great sympathy. On the other hand, I think it is clear that, on consideration, the expenses of this scheme ought to be found out of the moneys which are being provided, and that there is a real incentive to economy by this proposed step. I would admit at once that, if it were in fact going to take away very large sums from the deficiency payment, then indeed the farming community might have anxiety. I cannot, of course, make any definite anticipation of what the total expenses may be, but let us assume that in this matter the administration of the Wheat Commission and the other administration in the localities must depend in no inconsiderable measure on co-operation between the farming community, the Millers, and the corn merchants. It will be an incentive in every local district to keep down the cost of administration, which will be apparent to every member of the farming community, and it will, I am sure, be right that those representatives who are on the Wheat Commission should be made fully aware of what those expenses are required for. Not only so, but this House will, in the long run, have all those accounts audited by the Auditor-General and will have them brought before it.
I cannot make any definite estimate, but let us assume certain figures for a moment, in order that we may see the kind of thing which might take place. If, for example, the cost of administration 1858 amounted to £30,000 per annum, the deduction from the deficiency payment for an anticipated supply of the full 6,000,000 quarters under the Measure would be one and one-fifth of a penny per quarter; if the expenses were as high as £40,000 per annum, the deduction would be one and three-fifths of a penny per quarter. Every £5,000 of expenses would represent one-fifth of a penny per quarter, and if the expenses should rise to such a high figure—I emphasise this point—as £50,000, the deduction from the deficiency payment would be only two-pence per quarter, which is less than two-fifths of 1 per cent. of the standard price.
I do not think that, if it is within the measure of what I have said, the farming community would honestly feel that they had a grievance. I hope that what I have said will show that the farming community need not have any undue apprehension as to great extravagance; and, on the other hand, that a large part of the administration of the Measure, without imposing costs, is in their own hands, and that it will depend on their own acts in the administration of the Wheat Commission and of the details in the localities whether those costs are high or low. In these circumstances, I am afraid that I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon his one manifestation of strength. May I say to the representatives of agriculture that we regard them as the most ungrateful men on any side of the House. The Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wollner) made reference to audacity; he would stand in a very high position if we were to rear up Members for their colossal audacity; he would be very nearly at the top of the tree. He made reference to "all this expense" to the farmer, and the hon. Member for Leominster (Sir E. Shepperson) said something similar. In point of fact, they know full well that every single penny piece that is paid to the Wheat Commission is extracted from the pockets of the consumers. Not a single penny is paid by any agriculturist, except so far as he happens to be a consumer of wheat bread. If the right hon. Gentleman had accepted the Amendment, it would merely have meant a further imposition upon the 1859 consumers of bread. After giving the farmers an unknown sum, anywhere between £5,000,000 and £6,000,000 per annum, it is actually suggested that when they receive their money the Minister of Agriculture shall compel the consumer to pay for the stumps which they affix to their receipts. That is the last word in audacity and meanness. When the Noble Lord talks about the Socialist Government of the past two years, he ought not to blind himself to the fact that after the Conservative party and their colleagues, the Liberal party, had been in office for more than 100 years, agriculture, so they now tell us, is in a worse plight than it ever was.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The Noble Lord said that in 1929 the Conservative Government did something for agriculturists. We are willing to confess that they did. They granted several million pounds in the removal of their rates. The Labour Government may not have succeeded in many things, but no lion. Member can deny that more time was spent in attempting to deal with the agricultural problem in the two years between 1929 and 1931 on the question of drains, utilisation of land, and agricultural marketing—all things that the Noble Lord says are absolutely necessary to-day—than was spent in the preceding Parliament. There is no hope for agriculture unless we have a policy of co-operation and marketing. The Minister of Agriculture is justified in rejecting this Amendment, and he would be justified in privately talking very seriously to the hon. Gentlemen who support it.
§ Sir J. LAMB
May I thank the Minister for his statement, which is the first indication we have had of the size of the sum. We hope that his figures will prove to be a correct forecast of what the expenditure is likely to be. In view of his statement, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
I suggest that the Minister of Agriculture should make these deficiency payments as near round figures as possible. Otherwise, the House will be asked to find book-keepers and clerks for the farmers, because it is traditional that they are unable to keep books even for Income Tax purposes. If this sum goes into fractions, we shall be faced with a demand for book-keepers for them. Farmers have had all the help to which their enterprise has entitled them in the last few years. There is plenty of audacity when it comes to agriculture; the farmer always comes with both hands open. All the time that I have been in this House, he has taken everything he can and has given nothing in return. I make this suggestion as a practical contribution to the problem that lies in front of us.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. TURTON
I beg to move, in page 2, to leave out lines 1 to 11.
The object of this Amendment is to remove a deduction greater in amount than the deduction about which we have just been speaking. The reason for the deduction proposed in this proviso would appear to be two-fold. The first reason is a financial or budgetary one.The second reason for fixing, by the anticipated supply, a limit upon the quantity of millable wheat to rank for deficiency payments is that it will constitute one of several safeguards that must be used to prevent the exploitation of the scheme by dishonest persons. Farmers, merchants and millers are as honourable a class of men as any other class in the country, but in every flock there are black sheep."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1932; col. 96S, Vol. 262.]I am quoting the Minister's words on the Second Reading of the Bill. I will ask him to reconsider those words, and to consider whether it is just to tax a certain number of farmers in order to avoid fraud. If the only reason for this anticipated supply deduction is to prevent fraud by dishonest persons, I would suggest that it is very hard that the white sheep should be taxed for the black sheep. The real check on the amount of acreage that will be planted under wheat under this Bill is the price. The Minister has fixed a very fair price at 45s., and it will mean that wheat can only be grown on suitable land. I ask the Minister to give the farmer a chance 1861 with that price, and to let him plant his wheat on any acreage that he so desires. No farmer will become a millionaire on 45s., and it will do no harm to the national interest if more than the anticipated supply of 6,000,000 quarters is planted.
The anticipated supply is framed in two ways. It is first framed as the limit of 6,000,000 qrs. production. It is also framed on an anticipation of the Minister of what the supply will be in a particular year. I ask the Minister to take that provision out of the Bill. If you want to have a limit of anticipated supply in this Bill at all, surely the simplest and most economical way of going about it is to have a limit of production of 6,000,000 qrs. To anticipate the supply for every year is not the function of the Minister of Agriculture; it is the function of a fortune-teller. It will save a great deal of Departmental expense if the anticipated supply is arrived at by limiting the acreage to a particular figure. In winding up the Second Reading Debate on the Bill, the First Commissioner of Works said:One of the designs of this Bill and one of the reasons why its phraseology may appear on the face of it to be somewhat complex, is because we have endeavoured to build up and to start a quota system with a minimum of Government control and Government interference."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1932; col. 1238, Vol. 262.]The cumbrousness of these lines 1 to 11 is partly due to the fact that the Minister is to fix this anticipated supply every year and to have the power of refixing it at a later period of the year. It is very hard on the farmer to be penalised if the Minister makes a mistake in his anticipation. If the Minister goes wrong by 500,000 cwts., as he well might, it will mean a considerable difference to the pockets of the farmers The farmer has been told that he is being given an assured price at 45s. Let us give him that assured price, and not one that is being chopped and changed about owing to the acreage that other farmers in other parts of the country are growing. We are content that the farmer shall have an average price, and we are content, after the Minister's explanation, that he shall have the expense of the Wheat Commission deducted from what he receives, but this third deduction is most unjust and uneconomic.
§ Mr. REMER
It is a practical impossibility for anybody, even though he be an expert in this matter, to anticipate what a given crop of wheat shall be. I have been informed by a well-known authority in the Liverpool corn market that there are many people walking barefooted in Europe and the United States because they have tried to anticipate what the wheat crop of the world will be. I do not want the right hon. Gentleman or anybody who succeeds him to be in that unhappy position. Not only may the anticipation be wrong, but it is almost certain to be wrong one way or the other. Therefore, this proviso is particularly unfair to the farmer. The right hon. Gentleman in his Second Reading speech made reference to the necessity of mechanised farming and better harvesting and so forth, but this proviso will discourage better methods of farming and will be against any encouragement of enterprise.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I submit that the term which has been used in these Debates in connection with wheat-growing is unscientific and in some respects inaccurate. We have spoken of unsuitable land. There will be a large area of land suitable for wheat-growing which will not be affected by this Bill at all. I under-stand that the actual estimates made of the amount of land it will be necessary to use for wheat-growing in an average year, if we are to grow the amount of wheat which would be covered by the deficiency payment, or subsidy, would be 1,800,000 acres. I am informed in private conversation by my Noble Friend the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) that during the War the maximum acreage which grew wheat in this country was 2,000,000 acres, and even then we were not able to make use of the maximum area of land which is suitable for wheat-growing. I would like to mention the case of a district with which I am familiar, where I live, the county of Sussex. In the days of prosperous wheat-growing, and right up to the early eighties, there were thousands of acres of heavy land in Sussex under the plough growing wheat, and good wheat. The heavy clay of Sussex is suitable for wheat-growing. The reason why it has gone out of cultivation is that the cost of growing wheat on that land is so heavy; but that does not mean that the 1863 land is not suitable. It is land which, taking one season with another, grows extremely good wheat, but it cannot be grown at a price which can compete with the price of wheat from other countries.
Therefore, a great deal of land will not come under wheat which could grow wheat, and I think it is important to point that out, because many accusations have been made, in a friendly and chaffing manner, by hon. Members opposite that farmers are going to get a great deal out of this Bill. Undoubtedly they will, but it is only fair to say that the Bill will not stimulate wheat-growing in the way in which it is stimulated in France. I know France and French agriculture probably as well as any Member of the Committee now present, and I have seen wheat-growing there on what would be regarded as most unsuitable land in this country. Under this provision which it is sought to cut out there will still be a great deal of land perfectly suitable for wheat on which it will not pay to grow wheat at 45s., because if it is heavy land it requires a lot of working, a fine tilth is necessary, which means a great deal of working and more expense than one can afford with the price at 45s. a quarter. If the Committee really want to see a large supply of wheat grown in this country, and to utilise for wheat land similar to that on which it is grown in other countries, there will have to be a bigger subsidy. Most astonishing suggestions have been made—I will not say from what quarter, because the Noble Lord who made them is not a Member of this House—that England is unsuitable for wheat-growing. There never was such nonsense. It is one of the most suitable countries for wheat-growing. As the Minister himself could tell us, and as other agricultural Members know, we grow more bushels per acre than any other country. I think it right to point that out, although I support the Government against the Amendment, because it is unfair to suggest, on the one hand, that farmers are getting an uneconomic subsidy, or that, other things being equal, should it happen that there was a world shortage of wheat, it would be impossible to increase the wheat acreage here beyond anything contemplated here.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
The effect of passing this Amendment would be that even if 1864 registered growers sold a larger quantity of wheat than that prescribed as the anticipated supply, there should be no pro rata reduction of the deficiency payments. I understood the hon. Member for Thirsk (Mr. Turton) to say that he agreed that this matter should be controlled by price, and, in fact, it is, and it is because of that that we must resist this Amendment. The anticipated supply which has to be declared is not a matter of pure chance, and its accuracy or lack of accuracy will depend on the measure of co-operation among those who are working this scheme. The farmers have to be registered, and have to give an account of what they are growing, and there are ample opportunities for the Department to ascertain the acreage. The figures will be checked from time to time, and that check continues and is made effective after we know the result of the harvest. Therefore, I think it is clear that an estimate of the anticipated supply can be accurately made.
The hon. Member referred to some remarks which I made on the Second Reading, and suggested that this step which we are taking was adopted as a safeguard against the possible exploitation of the scheme by dishonest persons. If the hon. Member will look carefully at what I said in that speech, he will find that the reference to dishonest trading was not limited in any way to the farming community. I made it perfectly clear that there are black sheep, but we are dealing here not only with farmers but with merchants and millers. Any dishonest arrangement can only be made between two parties, and such dishonest arrangements would have to be made either between two farmers or between a farmer and a miller or a farmer and a corn merchant. It is essential that there should be certain safeguards against any such procedure, and in the circumstances that is a real reason why we should have this regulation. But there are other primary and financial reasons, and in all the circumstances the Committee will realise that I am unable to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I do not think the Minister of Agriculture has been fair in his endeavour to explain away the accusations made by the hon. Member for Thirsk (Mr. Turton). I have read every word of this Bill, and I must confess 1865 straight away that as yet I fail to understand the meaning of this part of it. I have even gone to the length of translating the whole Bill into Welsh.
§ Mr. DAVIES
The Noble Lord is not sufficiently educated. This part of the Clause is about the most complicated statement I have ever seen in print. I was born in the countryside, and I know old farmers in Carmarthenshire. I see that the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. R. T. Evans) is in his place, and I would like him to ask any farmer in his division if he can explain to him what this means. Even if he translated it into Welsh, the farmer would not understand it. A. Bill which is not understandable by those whom it is intended to benefit ought to be rejected. But we are not dealing with that point at the moment. The Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) made an excellent contribution to this short Debate. He told us that while land may be suitable for growing wheat, it is quite possible that it will prove uneconomic to grow it even at 45s. a quarter.
§ Earl WINTERTON
That was not my point. I said there was land on which it was possible to grow wheat, but that the price of 45s. would be too low owing to the cost of working. But I am making no complaint.
§ Mr. DAVIES
I do not think I have misrepresented the Noble Lord. I understood him to say, that whereas the land would be quite suitable for growing wheat, whether it could be grown profitably at 45s. a quarter was another problem. That is a very important point. He added a splendid sentence when he said that this Bill will not, of itself, stimulate wheat-growing. I accept that statement. In my view, that is one of the main faults of the Measure, If the farmers are going to take advantage of this Bill, and at the same time think they can hide behind it in the matter of their farming methods, they will be wrong. The right hon. Gentleman has always 1866 said that unless the farming community bring their methods up to date and extend mechanisation on the farms, this Bill will be of little avail.
I do not know how much the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Remer) knows about agriculture, but he said that it would be practically impossible to administer this part of the Bill. I do not know that its administration will be impossible to those who understand it. I confess outright that I do not understand exactly what this proviso means but, with that explanation, I believe I am right in saying that if the Amendment for the deletion of those words were accepted, it would give an opportunity to the farmer to grow more wheat than the right hon. Gentleman is providing for. I do not understand the right hon. Gentleman's contention that it is quite easy to anticipate the wheat crop. I know a little bit about farming. The climatic conditions in this country are very variable, and—
§ Mr. DAVIES
—to say in advance what the supply of wheat is going to be, will be a very difficult thing. I would like to see the man who can say in advance what will happen to the wheat even when it has been sown. For my part, I think it would be wrong to give an additional advantage to wheat growers by deleting these words. As the Bill is so bad in every other part, I do not want to make it worse by deleting the words.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I heard an observation from the First Commissioner of Works an this question which rather alarms me, because I did not appreciate that it was in the Bill, and that is that the anticipation would be made after the wheat year in which the wheat had been grown.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
As I understand it, the estimate is to be made before it is grown, but after it has been sown—after the Autumn wheat has been sawn, but before the Spring wheat is sown, and before any of the crop has been reaped. I would like the right hon. Gentleman to make it clear as to when he is going to make an anticipation of what?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I will answer the hon. and learned Gentleman. In my Second Reading speech I said:The Minister is required, after consultation with the Wheat Commission, to prescribe about the beginning of each cereal year, beginning on 1st August, the quantity of home-grown millable wheat of their own growing which he anticipates will be sown by registered growers during the year. The Minister is also empowered to vary his estimate by Order before the end of January following, when he naturally will have at his disposal a great deal of further information both as regards the acreage and harvest results."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1932; cols. 967–8, Vol. 262.]
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
I understand that the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell) wishes to move the Amendment standing in his name in a somewhat modified form.
§ Mr. DAVID GRENFELL
I beg to move, in page 2, line 11, at the end, to insert the words:Provided also that 25 per cent. of the amount of deficiency payments which a registered grower is entitled to receive under this section shall be distributed by the registered grower in equal shares among any persons employed by him in agriculture as a bonus over and above the rates of wages those persons are entitled to receive under the provisions of the Agricultural Wages (Regulation) Act, 1924, and any sum recoverable under this Sub-section by a person employed by a registered grower shall be recovered summarily as a civil debt.I will make one or two observations in order that the Minister may understand the extensive scope of this Amendment. Deficiency payments are defined by the Bill asthe payments representing the difference between the average market price of homegrown millable wheat as ascertained at the end of each cereal year, and a standard price of 10s. per cwt.I propose by my Amendment that 25 per cent. of the deficiency payments shall be divided in equal parts between all the agricultural labourers working on the wheat-growing farms. I maintain that the claim we are making is a very reasonable one. The Government are making most generous provision for the farmers. The payments proposed will run to a total figure this year at present prices of between £5,000,000 and £6,000,000. No one can foretell what the deficiency pay- 1868 ments will be in future years; they may be larger or smaller, according to the world price of wheat. Under the Bill it is proposed to pay between four shillings and five shillings per cwt. to the wheat grower in the form of a subsidy. The Government have declared that their intention is to encourage wheat growing, and the Minister of Agriculture has made provision for deficiency payments for an average amount of 27,000,000 cwts. The intention of the Bill is to increase the acreage growing wheat to 1,800,000 acres. The Minister has told us that the percentage of millable wheat is somewhere about 85 per cent., and it is intended under this Bill that deficiency payments shall be made on 27,000,000 cwts. of wheat, amounting to £13,500,000 per annum. It is calculated that under this arrangement the farmer will receive £8 per acre for his wheat farming.
I want to examine that point, because all that is to be given to the farmers. There is no provision for the agricultural workers. We know that those sitting on these benches cannot prevent the passage of this Bill, but we believe the growing of wheat is entirely uneconomic. If the country is to provide £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 in subsidies for wheat growers we contend that at least part of that money should be paid to the agricultural workers, about whom we hear so much from hon. Members opposite. There is not a Member of this. House who has not referred in passionate tones to the agricultural worker, his hard lot and small wages, and his liability to unemployment. We are now putting hon. Members to the test, and this Amendment provides them with an opportunity of demonstrating their practical sympathy with the agricultural labourers. At the present time they are very badly paid. Their wages are determined by agricultural committees in each county; and the average is not much more than 30s. per week; in fact there are some counties where the wage is less than that sum.
I am asking the Committee to make provision for some addition in the form of a bonus to the wages of the men engaged in this industry. Under this Bill the farmers are given a guaranteed price and farming will become, in the matter of wheat-growing, a sheltered industry. That shelter will give the farmer a guarantee, but nothing is to be done for 1869 the agricultural worker. Shelter is to be given to the employers, but nothing is provided for the workers who are as much interested in this question as the farmers. The farmers are to receive a shelter of £5,000,000 or £6,000,000, and if some hon. Members of this Committee had their way the shelter would be raised to £15,000,000 or £16,000,000. I can foresee immense changes in the methods of cultivation. I feel sure that there will be large-scale cereal farming where machinery will be employed, and I want hon. Members to consider carefully, when disposing of this subsidy, whether we are doing the right thing in neglecting the agricultural workers who will do the work whatever methods are employed.
I calculate that upon a farm of 1,000 acres, worked by machinery, it will be possible to grow wheat at £4 per acre all-in cost. Under this Bill the average payment for an average crop of 35 to 40 bushels per acre will be £8 or £9 per acre, and the cost of cultivation need not exceed half that sum. In that case the farmer will receive in clear profits between and £4 per acre, or a sum of about £4,000 a year from a farm of 1,000 acres. That farmer may employ 40 to 50 workpeople whose wages are fixed at about £80 a year.
All I am asking by this Amendment is that where a farmer makes a profit of £3 or £4 an acre through subsidies, the agricultural workers should be given 25 per cent. of that amount in addition to their wages. By this Amendment hon. Members opposite will be given an opportunity of voting for additional wages for agricultural workers, thus showing their sympathy for them. We ask hon. Members opposite, in common justice to the agricultural workers, to whom they have promised so much, to support this Amendment, in order that they may be able to go back to their constituencies and tell the agricultural labourers that they have done something to redeem their promises.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I was attracted by the hon. Member's suggestion and, if he would modify it later in the Bill, he would meet with a great deal of sympathy from this side of the Committee. If he would give us a guaranteed price somewhere in the neighbour- 1870 hood of 60s., we should be quite prepared to say that the whole of the addition should go to the agricultural labourer. The idea he threw out that the consumers in this country should unite patriotically to contribute to an increased wage for the agricultural labourer was an attractive one and, if the Labour party would put that in the forefront of their programme, it would have a sympathetic and dispassionate examination from all quarters of the House. The answer to his proposal is that it cannot be done on 45s., for the simple reason that the farmers cannot out of that price afford to pay higher wages than are being paid at the present moment. Anyone who knows anything about the countryside knows that hundreds of agricultural labourers are being turned out of work to-day, because farmers cannot continue to employ them even at the miserable wage of 30s. This Bill, like the whole of the Government's policy, is going to help the agricultural tabourer, because it is going to do what hon. Members opposite promised but did not fulfil—make farming pay. If you make farming pay, you give more work for agricultural labourers. This guaranteed price for wheat is going to enable farmers to employ men now out of employment, though it will not enable them to pay higher wages. If hon. Members opposite would agree to a higher guaranteed price, it would enable a higher wage to be paid to the agricultural labourer.
§ Mr. TINKER
I support the Amendment. Even the Noble Lord thinks there is some substance in it, but he wants us to give the farmers some more benefit before they will give anything at all. We want this benefit to be shared with the labourers, whether the amount is big or small. It must be remembered that £6,000,000 is going in that direction. If hon. Members opposite speak for the agricultural community, then surely that includes the agricultural labourer. They argue that it will increase work, but we argue that the wages are very low, and that some of the benefit should go to the labourer. It is argued that the whole community will benefit, but, whether the benefit be big or small, let a portion go to the agricultural labourers and thus show that we are willing to do something for them. If you say that the benefits are to go to the whole of the agricultural community, we shall look upon it much 1871 more favourably. If you show you intend to do this, there will not be so much opposition to the further stages of the Bill. If we meet with no response, and if the Minister cannot see his way to help us in this, then there will be unrelenting opposition to the Bill. If this Amendment be passed it will show that it is not the intention of the farmers to have all the benefits themselves. All classes should be considered in this Bill, and we are giving hon. Members opposite one great opportunity to show that they are really in earnest in their desire to benefit the whole of the agricultural community.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
Hon. Members opposite must not assume that the Government or hon. Members on this side are out of sympathy with the idea that workers in the agricultural community should get their fair share of the improved conditions which we hope this Measure will bring. If I turn to the particular method by which this Amendment proposes to achieve it, I am certain that, on consideration, hon. Members will realise that it is not calculated to produce the results they desire to see. It is perfectly certain that in farming there are a great variety of methods of cultivation even between different farms. It is practically impossible to calculate which individual has been employed on one particular aspect of production. If you say that, irrespective of whether the individual has been employed on that work or not, individuals on a particular farm should get this benefit, what will be the justice of that compared to those on a farm alongside where no wheat is grown? Let us look at the wider repercussions of the Amendment In England and Wales there are wages boards at which representatives of the workers put their case. See how it would affect this work if particular individuals were to get no benefit from this bonus. I take a different view from hon. Members opposite, and look forward to the operation of this Measure in areas where wheat-growing is of great importance, in the belief that it will have great repercussions in those areas and, by leading to increased cultivation will give increased employment to the workers.
The Mover of the Amendment talked about mechanical operations in farming. 1872 If mechanical operations are to be carried out to any extent, you are going to have less of an agricultural labourer and more of a mechanic, and the mechanic will demand higher wages. In fact, you are going to reduce the number of people in that industry. I am quite prepared to see experiments and mechanical developments, but I am not one of those who think that is going to take place all at once, nor would it be desirable. The whole idea of this Amendment, based as it is on the laudable idea that the worker should get some benefit from this Bill, is misguided. I believe that the worker will get his benefit through the machinery which exists by which he has the opportunity of putting his case. I cannot believe that, when these better times come, there is any reason to suppose from the past records of that machinery that his demands will not be carefully and reasonably considered. In the circumstances, I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. COVE
Apparently, from the statements of the right hon. Gentleman and the Members behind him, the interests of the farmers are to be safeguarded in this Act of Parliament, but, when it comes to the interests of the farm labourers, they are left in the realms of faith and hope. Nothing definite is to be given to the farm labourers, who do not appreciate the sympathy and kind words which have poured out from the benches opposite to-day. What they want is a statutory guarantee that they will get something out of this Bill. This Bill guarantees an enhanced price to the farmer, and it is logical and reasonable to say that, if the farmer is to have a guaranteed price for his wheat, the same legislation ought to provide a guaranteed wage for the farm labourer. Although it may not appear in fullest detail, that principle is involved in this Amendment. I always understood that one of the arguments of the Protectionists—and this is a very complete and monopolistic form of Protection—was that protection for the employer would also produce protection for the worker and that, if there was a guaranteed price given, a guaranteed wage would necessarily flow from that. We see from the attitude adopted on the benches opposite that they are not concerned about the farm 1873 labourers at all, but only about their own particular friends, the fanners. Although they use a lot of words, yet, when it comes to deeds, they are absolutely inactive as far as the farm labourer is concerned. This Bill not only gives the farmer an enhanced price, but provides him with a secure market. That is the finest and most complete form of protection one could have, a secure and protected market 'with a price provided by the legislature of this country. In spite of that, the Government refuse to come to the aid of the farm labourer.
I have just been reading an interesting passage in Mr. A. H. Hurst's book, "The Bread of Britain":British capital has fertilised the American prairie, and British shipping has carried the resulting wheat supplies to the world. The world level of wheat prices was permanently reduced and cheap bread became the basis for the great industrial wealth of Europe in the 19th century.One of the purposes of this Bill is to protect the farmer against the effects of capital invested abroad, if cheap bread has come to this country through the investment of British capital. You are preventing that in this Bill, and, if you are doing that as far as the farmer is concerned, it is reasonable that the farm labourer, too, should have his place in this Bill. I cannot understand why the Tory party on this occasion will not give some real earnest to the workers themselves of the economic effect of Protection. If they really want to demonstrate to the workers that a complete form of monopolistic protection is good for that industry, why not test it out and say: "We are so certain of this and so sure of its good economic effect in this industry, that we will not only provide a guaranteed price and a secure wheat market, but we are prepared to say that part of the good effects shall go into the pockets of the workers in that industry"?
The fact is that right hon. Gentlemen opposite know very well that Protection here, as elsewhere, will not have the beneficial effects, as far as the workers are concerned, which they claim. In Protection there are no higher wages for the workers, there is no greater employment for the workers. I challenge the right hon. Gentleman opposite to demonstrate to us how, if this Bill is going to be left as it is, without any definite protection for the farm labourer, the farm labourer 1874 is going to receive one single penny, either in the form of higher wages or of increased employment. I defy any hon. Member opposite to show to us in any reasonable manner that this Bill will give employment to one additional farm labourer. We have been told that the benefit will not come in the form of higher wages, but that the farm labourer will benefit because, instead of being out of work, he will have employment. Will any hon. or right hon. Gentleman show definitely, to the satisfaction of any reasonable Member of the House, that one agricultural labourer will get work because of the application of this Bill? I am amazed that the right hon. Gentleman and Members behind him should have to face, as it were—the impudence—to come down here and provide a guaranteed price and a secure market for the farmer, and refuse to take a single step to get a secure home for the farm labourer, or to get the standard of life of the farm labourer raised.
In this Bill there is neither security of employment nor a decent standard of life for the farm labourer. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to refute that statement, let him adopt this Amendment. That is the practical way to do it. If he does not agree with the exact wording. If there are certain small technical difficulties, I am sure my hon. Friends are prepared to re-word the Amendment, so long as the principle is embodied that the farm labourer shall get some beneficial result from the application of this Bill. Hon. Members, however, do not care a twopenny toss about the farm labourer; all that they care about is the profit that is to be put into the pocket of the farmer. This is purely a farmers' Bill; it is a profiteering farmers' Bill; it is a Bill which is going to exploit the community by raising the price of bread. Unemployed men and their children in my Division will have to pay for this £6,000,000. People who cannot afford to pay for it will have to pay for it. As has been said over and over again, it means taxing the staple article of food in the working-class homes of this country, and yet it is supported by the bard-faced men behind this National Government—and I include in that term even the Secretary of State for Scotland.
1875 It is amazing to me how any Member who calls himself a Liberal can resist an Amendment of this kind. I cannot understand how they remain in a Government which is setting up the most watertight, monopolistic form of Protection that you can think of. The farmers are to have a guaranteed price, a guaranteed market, and nothing to worry about. They are going to be immune from world causes, and, indeed, the more disadvantageous the world causes are, the more they will get and the more they will be protected. And the Government are refusing this opportunity of doing one small bit of justice and decency as far as the agricultural labourer is concerned. This Government, as I said on the previous Amendment, is the friend of its friends. It looks after the farmers for political reasons, and does not care what the conditions of the farm labourers are. The objections which have been urged against this Amendment show clearly and definitely that there are only words for the farm labourer, but there is money in the Bill for the farmer.
§ Mr. ROSBOTHAM
I come from Lancashire, which is a county of small holdings for which this Bill will do very little, but as a farmer, and one who is keenly interested in the agricultural worker, and as one who has employed more farm workers per acre than any hon. Gentleman opposite, and has treated them well, I know the value of the agricultural worker, and I am supporting this Bill because under it I look forward to seeing an eventual benefit to the agricultural worker from the enhanced price. How is the farmer going to pay the workers' minimum wage if he has not the money with which to pay it, and what is the value of the argument that the workers' representative should go to the wages committee if there is no money available 1 I have not taken out the actual figures, but I should say, as a rough estimate, that this Bill will bring benefit to at least 1,000 people in the rural parts of my own county, because I come from a county where the minimum does not become the maximum in agricultural wages; but in the wheat-growing counties in the East of England there is not the money in the industry with which to pay the agricultural worker, and it 1876 is for that reason that I support the Bill. If hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are sincere in their wish to do something for the agricultural worker, why are they opposing this Bill? If they are in earnest about it, and if there is not some political motive behind this Amendment, they would support the Bill wholeheartedly and let it go through, so as to bring benefit to the agricultural districts as soon as possible.
§ Dr. SALTER
We on this side of the Committee have never been opposed to subsidies as such. We have always recognised that, in any far-sighted scheme of national planning or national reorganisation, the subsidy may be a necessary temporary factor while the change-over process is taking place. But we have always said that, if subsidies are given by the nation, they ought to be accompanied by very special and specific conditions. If the matter were in the hands of the party for whom I am speaking, we should certainly insist upon quite a number of conditions. We should insist, first of all, that any subsidy paid must be provided by those best able to bear the cost. That is certainly not the case in regard to this Bill. In the second place, we should accompany the subsidy by control, in order to ensure that the national money was not wasted and frittered away, as it was notably in the case of the Coal Subsidy. We should insist, further, that those who receive profits should not make abnormal or excessive profits. I see an hon. Member on the Front Bench opposite smiling. I will come to that point, and will give him some cases in a moment which, perhaps, may alter his opinion.
Another condition which we should certainly lay down would be that any person to whom a subsidy was paid should he required to pay proper wages to his employ£s, and that, of the amount which he received from the nation, a proportion should be earmarked for those employ£s. This Amendment endeavours to ensure that the agricultural labourer shall re ceive at least something out of what is being paid. The Noble Lord opposite, who is not now in his place, said that farming even under this Bill was not going to pay, and that in these circumstances it was not possible to expect that the farmer, although subsidised, would be able to increase his labourers' wages; and 1877 the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Rosbotham) said just now that, although these proposals would improve conditions, it was not possible on the whole to expect that the labourer would receive additional remuneration.
§ Dr. SALTER
I understand the hon. Member thinks that that will happen eventually. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman opposite who was smiling just now ever reads the reports that are issued by the Agricultural Economics Research Institute at Oxford. That Institute lately has repeatedly issued studies with regard to the economic position of farmers who have been carrying on arable farming by up-to-date methods. A new pamphlet has just been issued, called "High Farming," by Mr. C. S. Orwin, Which deals with the case of a farmer farming 250 acres of arable land without stock. He crops all his land with the aid of artificial fertilisers, and—and here I would like the attention of the hon. Gentleman who was smiling just now—
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Mr. Skelton)
I was not smiling. Unfortunately, I was not listening to the hon. Gentleman. I greatly regret it.
§ Dr. SALTER
The pamphlet states that the farmer in question can make his farming pay, and it should be noted that all these accounts are audited by the experts of the Agricultural Economics Research Institute. At 25s. a quarter he covers his costs, and at 32s. a quarter he is quite satisfied with the profit he makes. Now he is to receive 45s. a quarter under this Bill, and, if you please, this man, who gets that additional profit, is not to be required to pay anything extra to his labourers. The answer offered is that the improvements all round are going to be such that the labourer will be able to go to the county wages board.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Does the report from which the hon. Member is quoting state whether any agricultural labourers are employed on that particular farm? I understood that all agricultural labourers had been eliminated, and that the farm was completely mechanised.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Dr. SALTER
Not in the case of that particular farm. I also notice, in the current issue of the "Nineteenth Century," a very interesting article by Lord Astor, in which he declares that he knows a wheat farm where tenant A, using horses and some 30 to 40 men, had to go out of business, but the present tenant, B, with machinery and four men, has done so well that he is negotiating for another farm. If he is doing so well at present prices, what is the position of that man going to be with wheat at 45s.? I know a farm very well where a considerable quantity is grown, but not for the purpose of making a profit on the wheat. It is grown chiefly for the purpose of procuring straw for the strawberry fields in the neighbourhood. That farmer is doing handsomely on his cereal farming. We are now going to give him a bonus on top of that of a good many shillings, and there is to be no proportionate share allotted to his labourers. That is grossly unfair. Further, we are told that the labourers remedy is to go to the wages board. That is quite illusory in a very large number of cases. Some farmers will make an abnormal profit, but they will probably be the exception. The wages board will take cognisance only of the general condition of the whole of the farmers in the district. They cannot issue an order for improved wages on any particular farm or in any one area. They have to issue an order that is common to the whole county, and it will mean that these unfortunate labourers will have no remedy, but that the whole of the enhanced profit will go to the farmer concerned.
The Minister said, among other things, that it was impossible to say which among the number of men employed on a mixed farm were engaged in producing wheat and, therefore, it was not reasonable to allocate the money to particular labourers. I understood that the argument was that the whole of the operations upon a mixed farm were interlocked, and were all more or less dependent and contingent each on the other and, therefore, there was no real reason why there should be differentiation as between one group of labourers on a farm and another. The right hon. Gentleman also said that, as the result of the Bill, there would be repercussions in the area, and there would 1879 be increased employment for the workers. In my judgment, there will be no increased employment if there is air extension of cereal farming. I believe, on the contrary, that there will be a very considerable reduction. In certain districts of East Anglia already there have been local conferences between farmers in adjacent areas with a view to amalgamating farms and extending the arable area so that mechanisation on a Large scale can be profitably introduced. It will mean, in effect, the wholesale depopulation of those areas so far as the working population is concerned. My hon. Friend who moved the Amendment spoke of fewer men being employed to the 1,000 acres. I was brought up on my grandfather's farm in Devonshire, where 10 men to 100 acres on a mixed farm was the normal proportion. Later it became three to 100 acres. I suppose to-clay it is probably nearer two, averaging throughout the whole country. With cereal farming in Canada, under complete mechanisation—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I think the hon. Member is travelling rather far from the Amendment. He is giving us a discourse on farming in general.
§ Dr. SALTER
I was endeavouring to show that the position of the agricultural labourer was now going to be worsened, and that the threat of unemployment was to be for ever hanging over his head, and that in those circumstances it was only fair, reasonable, just and equitable that some sort of compensation should be given him by means of an addition to his wages. In Canada, a few years ago, the normal number of persons employed to the acre in arable farming was one per 1,000 acres. The official statement given us the other day by the ex-Minister from Canada, who addressed the Empire Parliamentary Association, was that it was at present one man to 1,600 acres. In the United States the reports of the Wheat Board state that in the prairie farms of the Middle West the figure was one to 2,000 acres, and certainly in Russia it is one to between 3,000 and 4,000 acres. That means that, if you are going to have any general extension of cereal farming, you are not only not going to employ more men on the land, but you are going to employ fewer, and you 1880 are going to aggravate the rural unemployment problem to that extent, and thereby to worsen the agricultural labourers' position.
I know something at first hand of the miseries and sufferings to which the ordinary agricultural labourer is subject. He has not merely a miserable wage. He has, for the most part, a very wretched home, sometimes picturesque on the exterior but hopelessly inadequate and uncomfortable in the interior. The supply of rural cottages is shamefully inadequate and, with all these disabilities and discomforts, this man is the very backbone of the agricultural industry. You are going to do something for the employers, but you propose to do nothing for the men. In common decency this House ought to give the labourer not merely a hope, not merely some remote prospect of sharing in the subsidy, but a definite guarantee that he shall have a proportion by passing the Amendment.
§ Mr. EVERARD
I am surprised at the lack of knowledge of hon. Members opposite on all agricultural problems. I am not in the least surprised that there is not a single agricultural division, as far as I know, which sent a Member of the Labour party to the House. [Interruption.] I am delighted that there is one, and I should like to hear him speak. Hon. Members opposite do not seem to realise that they are now trying to get away with their own neglect when they were themselves in office. If our suggestion had been adopted that the agricultural labourer should get a fifth of the benefit of the Act passed by the Labour party, there is not an agricultural labourer who would not be doing very well to-day. They are simply endeavouring now to pass over their own neglect when in office on a purely political issue such as this. There is only a certain amount of money in any industry and, if that money is not. in the industry, wages cannot be paid, and anything that tends in any way to increase the capital or spending capacity of the agricultural or any other industry tends to improve the lot of the workers.
The Minister pointed out quite plainly the impossible position that we should be in if the Amendment was adopted. It has been suggested that the workers on wheat-growing farms should receive some 1881 proportion of the subsidy that is given to that type of industry. We might go all through industry. What about an industry which has a 10 per cent. tariff? What about the other side of the agricultural industry in which you have a higher tariff 7 You have one farm growing wheat, another growing malting barley, subject to duty, another growing hops, subject to duty, and others growing other types of produce subject to different duties. Are we really to suppose that a certain proportion of all these benefits is to be allocated and given direct to the worker?
I am surprised that hon. Members have not more faith in their trade union leaders. I have always understood that the Act passed by the Labour party for looking after the wages of agricultural workers was operating very fairly. In most districts, as far as I know, farmers and workers work it with the greatest unanimity. It is probably the one good Act that the Labour party have ever passed. They are now going back on it. They are now telling us that they have not advocates who, when times are better, will be capable enough to go before these tribunals and put the case of the agricultural labourer for a higher wage. It shows the shallowness of the arguments put forward by the Opposition. I have yet to understand that there is any suggestion that the landowners might possibly receive the rents which they have not been receiving before. There are all sides to the industry. There are the landowners, the farmers and the workers. When times are good, they all share alike, and they are all prepared to take their share of the bad times. Hon. Members opposite want to pile up taxes on the land and to do anything they can to destroy the landowners. There is no suggestion that the landowners should receive anything. They know that the landowner has very few votes and the labourer has a good many. They are making a very great mistake. The farm labourer has much more common sense than to be taken in by any Amendment of this sort. I shall have the greatest pleasure, as representing a large agricultural industry, in supporting the Government on this occasion and in supporting the Bill, because I believe it is going to find increased employment for the workers and to bring more money into the industry and improve its lot.
Unless this Amendment be accepted, the Bill will fail to carry out the object for which it was introduced. We have been informed that it is designed to help agriculture. Is the way to help agriculture simply to impose a levy on the bread very largely of working people in order to enrich one set of people engaged in the industry? It is said that there are the agricultural wages boards to deal with the position of the labourer. I would point out that the Government have already reduced the inspectorate by six. The money with which we are dealing here is not money independently earned. The charge is to be levied upon the general population of the country. When any industry, agriculture or any other, comes to the State for a subsidy we have a right, not only to show sympathy for the people engaged in the working of the industry, but to see that they get a fair share of the subsidy paid to the industry. The Minister has suggested that hon. Members on his side of the Committee have sympathy with the Amendment and with the agricultural labourer, but I would remind him that the agricultural labourer has been living on sympathy for the last 200 years.
I remember in 1925 getting the support of a very large landowner in this country when the de-rating Bill was under discussion. I suggested at that time that unless there was some protection for the farmer the landowner would deprive the farmer, by increased rents, of the benefits that the Measure was to bestow upon agriculture. In dozens of cases in this country after the passing of the Act farmers were called upon to pay increased rents. Lord Strachie himself admitted that after the Act was put upon the Statute Book, unless they gave some real protection, the landowner would derive the full benefit of it. I not only ask for the insertion of the Amendment to secure a real percentage of benefit to the agricultural labourer, but I would put in an Amendment to prevent the increase of rent, as, I believe, some of the farmers will get a surprise here. I am not disputing the fact that there are some good landlords, but there are some bad ones, and I believe that the farming community will find that rents will go up unless the Bill is amended so as to prevent the landlords from fleecing the 1883 farmers in respect of the benefits under the Measure.
We say in the Amendment that the agricultural labourer who has been living upon sympathy for centuries shall be given the same guarantee for which my hon. Friend asked when he moved his Amendment this afternoon. He said that the farmers wanted a guarantee not for a year or three years but a lasting guarantee of security. He had the audacity to ask for that. We ask that some little benefit shall be given to the agricultural labourer, who, when all is said and done, is the backbone of the agricultural industry. There are many multiple farmers we can very well do without, but we cannot do without the farm labourers. The Government and their supporters from agricultural districts who have come to the House of Commons as a result of the votes of a large majority of agricultural labourers refuse the Amendment which simply asks that 25 per cent. of the £6,000,000 shall go into the pockets of the agricultural labourers.
What is the condition of the agricultural labourer to-day? Has there ever been a time in English farming when the agricultural labourer has had his conditions improved by the good will of farmers or of landlords? Never, until he became organised did he get anything like a reasonable wage at all, and he has lost part of that wage in recent years. We contend that if the community have to make a contribution to agricultural advancement and protection, the agricultural labourer should be entitled to receive a reasonable share in the distribution of the money to be contributed. The Minister, in speeches which he has made in the country while the Bill has been in contemplation, has given indications that benefits should be given to the agricultural worker, and I appeal to the Committee, in fairness to the people upon whom the Government are going to make levy in respect of this Measure, to accept the Amendment and to let the agricultural labourer see that at last he is to get some reasonable benefit out of the large sum of money which is to be obtained from the people. We have had an Amendment refused this afternoon to limit the levy in respect of wheat used for bread. Surely, if we are to be called 1884 upon to pay a tax in respect of food for poultry, cattle and stock the agricultural labourer ought to be given a reasonable guarantee that he and his family shall have some reward as a result of this form of protection. I hope that hon. Members will realise their responsibility to the agricultural labourer and will accept the Amendment.
§ Miss MEGAN LLOYD GEORGE
Many hon. Members on the other side of the Committee have told us that farmers cannot afford to pay higher wages to labourers, and I know that in certain instances it is undeniably true. They cannot do so because prices are so bad. Under the Bill a guaranteed price of 45s. is to be given. The Noble Lord said that they could spare nothing out of that to increase the wages of their labourers, but are hon. Members opposite quite certain that the whole of that increase of price is going into the pockets of the farmers? I am not so certain that it is. I would far sooner see an increase in the wage of the labourer than an increase in the rent of the farmer. It seems to me that the principle underlying the Amendment has gained sympathy from Members in all parts of the Committee, and also the sympathy of the right hon. Gentleman himself, but I would like to see something more practical than sympathy. I agree that the Amendment in its present form is impracticable. I cannot think of any court that could adjudicate upon this issue.
At the same time, I do not find myself agreeing with some of the objections of the Minister. He said that if you give an increase to the labourers on the wheat farms you will be doing an injustice to the workers upon other farms, and that it will have its effect upon them. I think that if we increase their wages it will have an effect upon labourers on other farms; I think it may have the effect of raising their wages also. At the moment we know that there are many areas where the labourers get higher wages than those in others, not because farmers are farming more profitably there, but because those areas are in the vicinity of towns, and you have to pay your labourers higher wages or they would go into the towns. Therefore, the wages are higher in sympathy with the wages in the towns. I think that that form of sympathy is much more 1885 helpful than that of the right hon. Gentleman.
He also says that you cannot give this increased wage to the labourer on the wheat farms without doing something for the others. Well, the party opposite have had an opportunity before of doing something for the agricultural labourers as a whole. When the De-rating Act was before the House agricultural land was relieved of all rates, but the labourer still had to pay rates on his cottage, which he could ill afford to do. I think that the Amendment is thoroughly impracticable, but I hope that some means may be found by which the labourer will get a larger share of the benefit than is being given him at the moment. The Noble Lord said at an earlier stage of the Debate that the Labour Government had failed to make farming pay. I certainly hold no brief for the late Labour Government, but it seems to me that the policy of the present Government is to make farming pay whatever it costs, and I hope that if that is the case at any rate the labourer, the lowest-paid worker in industry, may be allowed to have some share in the benefits.
§ Mr. NALL-CAIN
I have listened this evening to various hon. Members on the other side of the Committee who have spoken about the Bill and several points have struck me. We have often heard that the Bill only applies to a very small part of the farming problem. We heard this evening from the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) that in Canada and in Russia in some parts there was only one farm labourer to 4,000 acres. It has been said that wheat farming is a small part of the whole of the farming of this country, I believe about 4 per cent. If under mechanisation there is to be one farm labourer to 4,000 acres, the Amendment can only apply to one-tenth of 1 per cent. of the farm labourers in this country.
Several speakers on the opposite side have talked of agricultural landlords, and I claim that I can say something about agricultural landlords because I am one myself. From my farms I receive at the present time no rent at all, and I do not mind saying that if farming was more prosperous I should be entitled to receive some rent—it might not be a high 1886 rent—towards paying for repairs in respect of those farms. The Bill will go a long way towards helping the agricultural labourer, but it is a question now of farmers being able to carry on at all. If the farmer is enabled to carry on he will continue to employ his agricultural labourers, and, perhaps when he is more prosperous, he will be able to give them better wages.
I am told that wheat farming costs as much as £9 an acre. That may not be the case under a mechanised system such as that mentioned by the hon. Member for West Bermondsey, but, if the farmer spends £9 an acre upon wheat and sells four qrs. at 25s. a qr., he will get £5 back and lose £4. The Bill will just enable him to hold his head above water and to make both ends meet. It will not make him a millionaire quickly. I can assure hon. Members opposite of that. But, instead of giving up his farm and allowing the land to become derelict, he may be able to carry on and employ agricultural labourers. Hon. Members on the other side have also poured compassion upon agricultural labourers for the poor cottages in which they live, and have spoken of the very great scarcity of such cottages. In the village in which I live, before the War there were 23 cottages occupied by agricultural labourers, and now there are only three. There are any number of cottages, but you have to make farming pay in order to enable the farmer to employ agricultural labourers, and then perhaps the agricultural labourers will be able to live in those cottages, especially in my village.
Various hon. Members opposite have said that cereal farming is going to reduce the number of labourers employed on the land. I think that that statement is contrary to almost every statement made by anyone connected with agriculture. If you have prosperous cereal farming you will have more people employed upon the land. I do not think that the system of Russia would be very palatable to the people of this country either in farming or in any other way, but if the hon. Member for West Bermondsey wishes to have one agricultural labourer to 4,000 acres—
§ Mr. NALL-CAIN
The hon. Member and his Friends usually admire Russia, and that is the system in Russia. Therefore, if he wishes to have the smallest possible number of agricultural labourers employed in this country he had better develop the system of Russia, and he will then have one labourer to 4,000 acres. The Amendment, which would apply to an infinitesimal number of agricultural labourers, according to the statement of hon. Members opposite, would make the Bill of no advantage to the farmer. I do not think we should get any more wheat grown in this country, or any more agricultural labourers employed, or that the wages board would be able to fix wages at a higher rate than at the present time. I shall have great pleasure in going into the Lobby to record my vote against the Amendment.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he cannot do something for the agricultural labourers. The Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) told us that the Bill is going to make farming pay. It is a very extraordinary way to make farming pay to give it £6,000,000. One could make most businesses pay provided one gave them enough money. Because the basis of this Bill is a subsidy to the farming community, as we understand it —not to the farmers only, but to the farming community—by the consumer, vicious though the system may be, we ask that, if the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends really believe that the agricultural labourer is entitled to something, they should give him in this Bill a guarantee of some sort. It may be that the right hon. Gentleman will say that the Amendment is not a practical way of doing that. If so, what does he offer us in its place? Will he set up a central committee for the wages boards, in order that the decisions of the local committees may he reviewed? Will he introduce unemployment benefit for the agricultural labourer, under the scheme which has been 'nearly completely worked out, and use this 25 per cent. for the purpose of assisting the unemployment fund for the benefit of the agricultural labourer?
Does he think that it; would be enough to say to the farmer: "We will not 1888 make any enactment for you, because we are sure the consumer will look after you. We will not pass a Bill that you are to have £6,000,000 a year, because the consumers are a kind, charitable lot of people, and I am sure that if you ask them they will give you a little more for your wheat. They know how hard up you are." That is not sufficient. No farmer would be content with that expression of sympathy, and we say that the agricultural labourer is not to be expected to be put off with a mere expression of sympathy. He is entitled, if the right hon. Gentleman means what he says, to some form of protection in this Act of Parliament, and we ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell us whether or not he is prepared, in one way or another—we leave the choice of the manner to him—to give the agricultural labourer some guarantee that out of this £6,000,000 that the consumers are asked to supply to the farming community he will get some benefit. If he will give us that guarantee, we will consider withdrawing this precise Amendment.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I have listened to a large part of the discussion. The hon. and learned Member who has just sat down says that the Bill is giving something to the farming community. That is our view. It is giving something to the farming community as a whole. The hon. and learned Gentleman and his friends ask that there shall be some definite wording put into the Bill which will ensure to the labourers a fair remuneration for their work under the conditions which exist in the industry. This House has given already to the agricultural industry, in past legislation, the machinery to deal with that problem. It is machinery which only applies to England and Wales. We have other methods of dealing with the question in Scotland, and as a result the circumstances of the labourers in the north are, on the whole, quite as good as, and in many cases better than, those of the labourer across the Border. But the fact remains that the machinery exists to enable the representatives of the labourers and the employers to meet.
The hon. and learned Member spoke about giving unemployment benefit to the agricultural labourer, but we are looking forward not to less employment but to more. In any case, I would point out that 1889 that matter is sub judice. It is being considered by a commission, and it would not be proper, nor is it possible, for me to express any opinion as to whether that should or should not be given to the agricultural labourers. All I can say is, that it is admitted on all sides that the proposal in the Amendment is unworkable. I am sure that I am speaking the minds of the great mass of the farming community when I say that they are perfectly willing, as they have shown themselves willing in the past, to be fair and reasonable in this matter. We have seen the farming community going through the most difficult times, and although there have been some reductions they have not been general, and they do not apply to every county in either England or Wales. Great consideration has been shown to the labourers, and in many cases, although the hours may have been altered, the wages have not been reduced. It would be a great disservice to the farm labourers if this Amendment were accepted.
§ Mr. GEORGE HALL
The reply of the right hon. Gentleman is disappointing. I had hoped that he would have followed the precedent laid down in the Corn Production Act. When that Act was introduced in 1917 its object was to bring about a higher production of corn by guaranteeing a price. A guaranteed price is allowed for in this Bill, in order to stimulate production. When the Corn Production Act was introduced the Minister of Agriculture pointed out that it was unfair to give a guaranteed price to the farmers, without securing a better wage for the farm workers. The wages board was not dealt with at all in the Corn Production Act. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes, it was!"] I stand corrected. It was provided for. The Corn Production Act guaranteed price lapsed in 1921, but the wages board remained. The wages of the agricultural labourers, however, have varied from 1921 up to the present time. A list was published recently showing that there have been substantial reductions in wages as a result of the operations of the Agricultural Wages Board. In 1924, we asked for a central board which should have an opportunity of revising the wages which were reported by the county committees.
The position under this Bill is that a sum of £6,000,000 is going to a section 1890 of the farming community in this country. The right hon. Gentleman has consulted the farmer, the millers, the landlords, and the corn merchants, all of whom are going to get an advantage out of the Bill, but not the agricultural labourer. We think that the agricultural labourer should have the same guarantee in the Bill as the farmer. Reference has been made to the fact that there is an Agricultural Wages Board. Statements have been made during the last month or two that the right hon. Gentleman since he came into office has reduced the number of inspectors under the Agricultural Wages Board, by six. The result is that the few inspectors at present employed have more than they can do in seeing that farmers are paying the wages which they are expected to pay under the Agricultural Wages Board. Surely, when £6,000,000 of the consumers' money is going to a very small section of the agricultural community the least that should be done is to give some guarantee to the labourer that he will be protected to such an extent that he will share in the advantage. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to give further consideration to this matter. We are not tied to the terms of the Amendment. My hon. and learned Friend stated that if the right hon. Gentleman would give some definite guarantee that at some stage in the proceedings on this Bill further consideration would be given to this aspect of the question, we would withdraw the Amendment, but we shall offer opposition unless some guarantee of that kind is given.
§ Mr. DENMAN
One material point arises out of the speech of the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) with which I must deal, and that is his reference to the Corn Production Act. That Act is the reason why I shall vote against the Amendment. The whole purpose of the Corn Production Act of 1917 was to make a balanced settlement in the agricultural industry. On the one hand it provided for a guaranteed minimum price, which was 45s. in its later years, and on the other hand it set up not only an Agricultural Wages Board, but a minimum wage, specified at 25s. Twenty-five shillings was deemed to be the proper wage that could be afforded by an industry receiving 45s. for wheat. We know the history of what happened. The guaranteed price was dropped, the wages board system remained and the wages board system has 1891 gone on very awkwardly, uncomfortably and partially ineffectively ever since, because there has not been any guaranteed price to balance any suitable wages board rates. The purpose of this Bill is to restore the balance that was set up in 1917. I think it was very foolish to drop it. By restoring the balance we are doing a real service to the agricultural labourers as well as to the whole countryside.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
I have listened to the Debate and have heard from the Government Bench the reiteration of the argument that this Bill will eventually do something to alter the conditions of the agricultural labourer. I see no guarantee whatever for that; nor for the statement that farmers are going to benefit. The condition of farm labourers in those areas where farming pays is not very much better than in those areas where it does not pay and where county committees are the arbiters of wages. I am not accepting the proposition that farming is a non-paying industry. I fancy that it could be demonstrated very easily that many farmers have made fairly substantial profits, and according to the evidence given by experts those who are farming with brains and on scientific lines can pay wages and make profits with wheat and cereals at a good deal less in price than the figure stipulated in the Bill. I admit that farm labourers might get some advantage if they had the power; but that is precisely what they lack. Everybody will get something out of this Bill if they have the power to get it. Landlords may get a rise in rent. They will get it because they have the power. Farm labourers will not get a rise unless they have the power. They are badly organised, and there are many farming districts where a good deal of the spirit of the serf still lingers, a good deal of fear, and a good deal of terrorism still exists. I do not believe that leopards change their spots, and under this Bill anyone will get precisely what they have the power to get and no more.
The other day there was the case of a man who on arriving at a certain age got 10s. pension, and immediately it was deducted from his wages. When he objected he was told that he could get 1892 out of a tied house. The tied house system, still remains, and is responsible for a good deal of the fear and terror which exists in farming districts. If subsidies are to be granted, if prices are to be guaranteed, then I desire to see something done for the bottom dog in the industry. I am not opposed to subsidies; they may be very useful and necessary, but at any rate there should be an opportunity for all to participate and share. In this case the consumer is paying and the farmer is profiting, the landlord will probably profit, the gentlemen who come in between will probably profit, because the Bill does nothing to organise agriculture on its productive and selling side. All those who have the power will profit, but the bottom dog, the labourer, the man who goes in fear of his cottage and his job, is the man to whom no guarantee whatever is given. He may get some advantage; he will be exceedingly lucky if he does. If the Amendment is accepted there would be at least a chance of his sharing in the money which the consumer is going to be compelled to pay under this Bill.
§ Mr. McENTEE
The Minister of Agriculture has made no adequate reply to the Debate. He referred to the fact that machinery is there for dealing with the wages of the agricultural labourer. But that machinery is not operating as well as it might, and as it would have done but for the right hon. Gentleman's own act. He has taken away some of the protection given to the farm labourers by reducing the number of inspectors. He has taken away six inspectors, and the farm labourer is therefore in a worse position to bargain with the farmer than before. The argument put forward in favour of the Bill is that the agricultural industry generally is not paying, has not paid and cannot pay, under existing conditions, and that this subsidy, which is to be taken out of the pockets of the consumer and given to agriculture, will enable it to pay. If the consumer is to be asked to put £6,000,000 into the industry I think, if he were asked to express his opinion, he would certainly desire that this £6,000,000 should be equitably divided among those engaged in the industry.
The Minister of Agriculture apparently does not desire to give anything to the 1893 farm labourer. He has consulted all sections of the industry except the most important, the farm worker, and having ignored him in the past he now proposes to add insult to injury and to see that he gets nothing out of the £6,000,000, which is to be handed over to those sections of the industry which are well protected and which have demonstrated their power to the right hon. Gentleman and to the Government. The agricultural labourer ought to know that as regards this £6,000,000 the Minister of Agriculture is determined, as far as he can, to see that no part of it goes into the pockets of the agricultural labourer. The Agricultural Wages Board has been operating all along and will operate in precisely the same way after the Bill becomes an Act. It operated unfairly before, but it will operate still more unfairly in the future because there will be six fewer inspectors
§ to look after the interests of the agricultural labourer. He placed his confidence in the National Government by returning the present party to power, and he has a right to know what protection the Government propose to give him and his wife and children under this Bill. It is as well that he should be told definitely by the Minister that, whereas the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to give protection to every other section of the industry, he cares nothing for, and is prepared to give nothing to, the agricultural labourer.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 47; Noes, 276.1895
|Division No. 98.]||AYES.||[8.27 p.m.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Batey, Joseph||Grundy, Thomas W.||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Briant, Frank||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Price, Gabriel|
|Buchanan, George||Hirst, George Henry||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Cape, Thomas||Holdsworth, Herbert||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Janner, Barnett||Thorne, William James|
|Cove, William G.||Jenkins, Sir William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Daggar, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Kirkwood, David||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lawson, John James||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Edwards, Charles||Leonard, William||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Logan, David Gilbert|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Lunn, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Mr. Duncan Graham and Mr.|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Groves.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Broadbent, Colonel John||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Davison, Sir William Henry|
|Albery, Irving James||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Denman, Hon. R. D.|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Denville, Alfred|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Burnett, John George||Dickie, John P.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Butt, Sir Alfred||Drewe, Cedric|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Duckworth, George A. V.|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Carver, Major William H.||Dunglass, Lord|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Eastwood, John Francis|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Eden, Robert Anthony|
|Balniel, Lord||Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring)||Ellis, Robert Geoffrey|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Elmley, Viscount|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Christie, James Archibald||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Clarry, Reginald George||Emrys- Evans, P. V.|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Bernays, Robert||Collins, Sir Godfrey||Fox, Sir Gifford|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Cook, Thomas A.||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Cooke, Douglas||Gillett, Sir George Masterman|
|Blindell, James||Copeland, Ida||Glimour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Borodale, Viscount||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Glossop, C. W. H.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Gluckstein, Louis Halle|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald||Cross, R. H.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Crossley, A. C.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Greene, William P. C.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Salt, Edward W.|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Hales, Harold K.||Martin, Thomas S.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Scone, Lord|
|Hanbury, Cecil||Meller, Richard James||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||Millar, Sir James Duncan||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Hellgers, Captain F, F. A.||Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Hepworth, Joseph||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Hillman, Dr. George B.||Morgan, Robert H.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hattam)|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Hopkinson, Austin||Muirhead, Major A. J.||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Nail-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Hornby, Frank||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Super, Richard|
|Horobin, Ian M.||Newton, Sir Douglas George C.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Howard, Tom Forrest||Normand, Wilfrid Guild||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||North, Captain Edward T.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Nunn, William||Stones, James|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Palmer, Francis Noel||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Peake, Captain Osbert||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romford)||Pearson, William G.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Penny, Sir George||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E.A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Petherick, M.||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Thompson, Luke|
|Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Pike, Cecil F.||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Kimball, Lawrence||Potter, John||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Train, John|
|Knebworth, Viscount||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P,||Ramsden, E.||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Rankin, Robert||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Levy, Thomas||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Lindsay, Noel Ker||Rea, Walter Russell||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Llewellin, Major John J.||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Remer, John R.||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Robinson, John Roland||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Mabane, William||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)||Ropner, Colonel L.||Wise, Alfred R.|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Rosbotham, S. T.||Withers, Sir John James|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Ross, Ronald D.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|McEwen, J. H. F.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Runge, Norah Cecil||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Russell, Hamer Field (Shef'ld, B'tside)|
|Magnay, Thomas||Russell, Richard John (Eddlsbury)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Maitland, Adam||Salmon, Major Isidore||Lord Erskine and Mr. Womersley.|
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I beg to move, in page 2, line 21, to leave out the words "the Wheat Commission," and to insert instead thereof the words "any registered growers."
This Amendment and the Amendment which follows it on the Paper—in line 22, after the word "representation," to insert the words "through the Wheat Coinmission,"—go together. These Amendments bring us out of the area of highly contentious matters, to the question of the working of this Clause. As we see 1896 the Clause here, we do not appreciate what its actual operation is going to be. This Sub-section (3) is intended, apparently, to allow the Minister to make an Order, on the representation of the Wheat Commission, that a certain quantity of the stocks held by registered growers after June should be purchased by the Flour Millers' Corporation. Therefore, the operation appears to start with the recommendation from the Wheat Commission. In the first place, we are not at all clear as to how the Wheat Commission is to collect the necessary 1897 information. We suggest by this Amendment that the registered growers ought to start the chain of circumstances which will ultimately lead to their being able to sell their own wheat; that they should be the people to inform the Wheat Commission of the fact that they have stocks in June for the sale of which they require, the Minister to make an Order. We suggest that the Wheat Commission should collate that information and pass it on to the Minister who will then be able to make whatever Order he considers proper—or else, as we suggest in a later Amendment, he will be compelled to make an Order that a certain quantity is to be purchased.
Unless the operation starts with the registered growers themselves, it is difficult to understand how any particular registered grower is going to get any assurance at all that any of his surplus will be purchased. It seems impossible that the Wheat Commission, every June, should send a vast army of officials through the country to inspect every farm and holding to see if there is any wheat left in the ricks or in the barns. But unless they do so, under the provisions as laid down in the Bill at present, there will be a serious danger of stocks in particular areas being overlooked when June comes. It may be that in certain areas, owing to marketing conditions or other circumstances, there will be disproportionate stocks as compared with other areas. It may be that one farmer will have very large stocks compared with another farmer in the same area. We do not understand how the Wheat Commission is going to collect all these facts at the beginning of June in each year so as to be able to tell the Minister who has stocks and who has not, and so as to be in a position to ask the Minister to make an Order that Mr. Jones's or Mr. Smith's or Mr. Robinson's stocks should be purchased up to the extent of 12½ per cent. of the total amount which has been anticipated for the year.
When we come to the actual operation of the Clause, apart from the general consideration that one wants the surpluses taken off the hands of the farmers, we see the need for some method by which each individual farmer will know that his share of surplus wheat will be bought by the Flour Millers' Corporation. It will be no comfort to farmer A, to 1898 know that farmer B has had the whole of his wheat purchased. He will want to know if the amount laid down for the area means that half of the stocks in the district—half of farmer A's stock, half of farmer B's stock and half of farmer C's stock—are to be bought. Unless the impetus comes, in its origin, from the farmers themselves; unless they make a communication saying that they desire these surpluses which they have at the beginning of June to be taken up, thereby giving the information and making the request to the Wheat Commission, so that the Wheat Commission can pass on both to the Minister, we do not see how there can be any effective or fair operation of this purchase of surpluses as between one farmer and another. We suggest that the method indicated by the Amendment is the only fair way of dealing with the matter as between farmer and farmer. These two Amendments taken together would make it incumbent on the registered growers themselves to take the initiative and then for the Wheat Commission to pass on that information to the Minister with the request that the Order should be made.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
If this Amendment were carried, it would alter the whole arrangement of the scheme. I must point out that the Wheat Commission is the body upon which the Minister wishes to rely for advice. The Wheat Commission will have upon it representatives of the various interests concerned, and—
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
These two Amendments leave it to the Wheat Commission to make the recommendations, but they only put the initiative on the registered growers, who will have to go first to the Wheat Commission and give them the information, but the Commission will then have the initiative in making the recommendation to the Minister.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
As I understand it, the effect of the Amendment would be to pass on sporadic requests; not regulated requests, but individual requests. Obviously, the machinery under the Bill must entail by-laws and regulations, and it does entail a measure of organisation among the registered farmers. To begin with, upon your Wheat Commission you have individuals representing the farmers directly, you have in the country the organised bodies of the 1899 Farmers Union, and, above all, you must have local committees existing in the various areas. Every one of these individuals who are growing wheat and who are going to get any advantage out of the Bill must be registered, and it is the intention that the Wheat Commission shall be the Minister's advisers upon all these matters. Therefore, the registered purchasers, whether millers or corn merchants, will have to check, under their rules and regulations, the progress of the purchases and the amounts which they know are in the countryside; and it is through that channel, through the local committees of farmers and registered growers, that the information will come into the Wheat Commission, will be collated there, and will be passed on to the Minister.
It would be very inconvenient if, as I understand the Amendment, this information would not only go through the Wheat Commission, but it would be sent in the case of perhaps a single sporadic individual, or a small group in some outlying part of the country, at odd moments, and so on. I do not think the view which I express is contrary to the desire of the hon. and learned Gentleman, because it is through the Wheat Commission that the Minister will be bound to work. It is through the good organisation of producers and purchasers that that information will go to the Wheat Commission as the best channel, and I am satisfied that that is the proper way to deal with it. Therefore, I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
The right hon. Gentleman seems to have omitted a highly important transaction on the part of the registered growers. The right hon. Gentleman will know, during the current year, the prospective yield, and the Wheat Commission will have some idea of the sales at a given time, but the registered growers will, some of them, be holding back for what they conceive to be a better price, and others will be selling day by day and week by week. When the 1st June arrives, notwithstanding all the anticipations and all the prophecies that have been made by the Department, by the Minister, or by the Wheat Commission, neither of whom will know exactly what quantities have been sold immediately prior to June, surely 1900 the registered growers will have a much better idea at that moment than the Wheat Commission itself. If the registered growers were obliged to make representations to the Wheat Commission at a given date, that ought really to be the start of the chain of circumstances that ultimately leads the Minister into making his order.
I am reminded by my hon. and learned Friend that should the Wheat Commission make the recommendation, it might very well be that a large number of registered growers would be ignored and the order made, because of the Wheat Commission and the Minister not having the day-to-day information relating to sales from each one of the multifarious registered growers. If the right hon. Gentleman would obviate the registered growers, some of them in a small way, simply giving their wheat away just prior to June, so as to make doubly sure that they will get rid of that proportion which may be left on their hands, he should accept the Amendment. I think it would improve the machinery and in no way dislocate the ideas of the Department or of those with whom the right hon. Gentleman has been in contact. There cannot be any body of persons comparable with the registered growers for initiating a move that will ultimately lead to the Millers Corporation purchasing a proportion of the surplus, and it would work out much more equitably if the registered growers made representations to the Wheat Commission, for the Commission would then, in the last week prior to their making representations to the Minister, actually know the exact amount of surplus, not only over the country as a whole, but the proportions, say, in Essex, in Lancashire, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and elsewhere. If the initiative came from the registered growers instead of from the Wheat Commission, I think it would work out to the satisfaction of the growers and would in no way rob the Commission of the duties which will devolve upon them.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
The right hon. Gentleman said that this was a matter which would be dealt with in by-laws to he made by the Wheat Commission. Under Clause 4 of the Bill, we have set out the power to make by-laws, and while I agree 1901 that the specified details of by-laws are not to interfere with the generality of the powers, there is nothing about this particular question in the by-laws. They deal only with the matter of price, and we want more explanation as to how this will work. Unless some representation is made, I do not know what will happen. Supposing there is in existence more than the 12½ per cent. which they are to buy, how is it to be determined which particular parcels of wheat are to be bought and which are not to be bought?
As far as I can make out, they have only some vague statistical record, which says that there is in existence a certain amount, but they have no applications made by particular people; and there seems to be no reason why some people should not be left out altogether. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to say that this will all be organised. That is precisely what is not provided for in the Bill. He has not said that there is to be a proper organisation; he has merely said that there may be organisations or that he contemplates the possibility of organisation under the Marketing Act. It is precisely because it is so vague that we are endeavouring to supplement the Bill and that we require more explanation as to how this matter will work in practice as regards the individual farmers and the individual parcels of wheat.
§ Colonel RUGGLES-BRISE
I visualise something of this sort: Towards the latter end of the cereal year the Wheat Commission, having, as it will have, an exact record of all the millable wheat which has been brought to market and sold up to, say, April and May, will find that, for some reason or another, the amount which has been sold in the market falls a great deal short of the anticipated supply. The Wheat Commission will next begin to make inquiries as to the reason for that, and as to the localities where the wheat is still in farmers' hands and has, for some reason or other, not gone to market, or, if it has gone to market, has not been sold. In that event, the Commission will have got all the information and will be able to place its hands quite readily on the spot where there was an accumulation of unsold wheat. It would report to the Minister that in a certain area there were thought 1902 to be so many thousand quarters of unsold wheat of which the farmers wanted to dispose, and for which they could get no market. The Minister, acting on the advice of the Commission, would then be able to act swiftly in good time in order to be able to give the Millers' Corporation notice that it had to take this wheat over in the next six or eight weeks before the end of the cereal year. The hon. and learned Gentleman is trying to start the process of getting information one stage further back, but, under the Bill as it must work in effect, the Wheat Commission will have knowledge of the whole situation all the way through. The hon. and learned Gentleman is trying to implement something which must already be done under the provisions of the Bill.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I am obliged to the hon. and gallant Member for his explanation, but I still think that there is a stage with which he has not dealt. Take the case where there are 1,000,000 quarters in excess left over. That is more than 121 per cent. of the anticipated supply for the year. Therefore, it is impossible for the whole of the 1,000,000 quarters to be brought under the provisions of the Bill. Someone has to select which of those million quarters are to be bought. I do not see that there is any machinery of any kind in the Bill, or any power to make by-laws, to enable anybody to decide that farmer A shall not have his wheat bought and that farmer B shall have his wheat bought, or to compel the Corporation to buy 50 per cent. of farmer A's wheat, 50 per cent. of farmer B's, and 50 per cent. of farmer C's.
§ Colonel RUGGLES - BRISE
The Millers' Corporation will have the power to instruct agents to purchase wheat for them. The Minister will, by Order, on the recommendation of the Wheat Commission, tell the Millers' Corporation in an area, "We want you to take x quarters of wheat." The hon. and learned Member assumed that the 12½ per cent. would not absorb the whole of the available supply. In certain years there will be unsold wheat in farmers' hands, and some farmers will have to have a portion of their wheat left over.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
Are all the farmers to have a fair proportion left over, or are 1903 some to have the whole left over and the others have the whole of theirs bought?
§ Colonel RUGGLES-BRISE
The corporation will instruct its agents to buy so many hundred quarters from one area and so many from another—
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Colonel RUGGLES-BRISE
The corporation have to buy this wheat. Suppose that there is 100 per cent. unsold, and they are ordered to take 90 per cent. of it. They would obviously say, in a fair way, "We will get from one district so much, and from another so much," taking 90 per cent of the available quantity from each district.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
That may be all right for the district, but a farmer in the district might find that none of his wheat was bought, while his next-door neighbour had the whole of his bought.
§ Colonel RUGGLES-BRISE
Short of taking the whole of the surplus, I do not see how you can avoid that.
§ Colonel RUGGLES-BRISE
I do not think so, because it would be unfair to the registered grower who did not apply. One grower who sent his application in time would have his wheat taken off his hands, but the grower who did not put in his application in time would get his wheat left on his hands.
§ Colonel RUGGLES-BRISE
The other way is the fairer, for you would find out the supplies taken over the various districts.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
—and trying to organise the universe and telling everybody what they should do and ordering them to do it. Surely the boot is on the other foot, because, of all the mad pieces of Socialism, the organisation under this Bill really takes the cake. It is all left 1904 to by-laws to be drawn up later on. We have had an explanation from the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Measure, and from the hon. and gallant Member who understands the Measure; we have had admirable explanations of what is intended. I only wish we had those corn-growing farmers, who are supposed to benefit from the Bill, listening to the Debate and trying to find out what they are to get out of it. It is obvious that what they are going to get out of the Bill is a, strong tip to be in with the Millers' Corporation. If you are in with the Corporation and have a cousin who is one of those multitudinous agents who are going round to keep the Wheat Commission properly informed of the exact amount of wheat sold in every village in East Anglia, then you may get your wheat bought. If you are not in with it, you will not.
Imagine the state of affairs if this Amendment is not accepted. You will get all the small men who have no pull left with the wheat on their hands. The Millers' Corporation is not going round to the small man with the half-dozen bags and buy his small amount. It will go where it can get the largest supply. It will take the lot from the big farmers, and the little farmers will be left with their surpluses. Does the hon. and gallant Member really support leaving it entirely to the flour millers to say whose wheat they shall buy? Is it to be left to them alone? You are leaving it to them to decide whose wheat shall be bought at the standard price and who shall be left to carry the baby. I make the hon. and gallant Member and the Treasury Bench a present of this piece of Socialism, admirably suited for denunciation at the next election.
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill really visualises what is going to happen to poor old East Anglia when it is in operation. I think he and his colleagues imagine that everything will be organised to perfection, the registered owners acting like one man under the inspiration of some genius of a farmer, and the millers acting with the solidarity of a trade union. They have a purely imaginary picture of what England will be like. They do not know these people; they do not live among them. There will be an immense amount of jealousy 1905 between different people, not only between purchasers and sellers, but also among all the unfortunate people whose wheat may or may not be sold at the advantageous figure. I knew this Bill would strike a few "snags" as soon as it came into operation. We have seen Bills like this before. There was the quota Bill for films—[HON. MEMBERS: "The Coal Bill!"]—which did not work, of course, but which provided lots of occupation for inspectors and the like.
Now we have this Bill, doing things on a much larger scale, and much better advertised and better boomed. All the farmers in the country know that the wheat growers are to get something, and the wheat growers think they will get something—and will find that they do not—and bread will go up in price. A large number of the unemployed will be absorbed into the Wheat Commission, or find work as agents of the Wheat Commission or as agents of the millers; and the statisticians will be constantly getting out figures showing how much farmer Giles has sold out of his 13 bags of British malleable wheat. [Laughter.] I was thinking of the iron and steel industry. The statistics will be all right, although the pronunciation was wrong. The unemployment problem will be solved by turning all those who are really well educated into inspectors under this Act.
§ visualise what will happen. I am going to visualise what already happens. The miller does not go to the grower and ask him to sell. It is the grower who goes to the miller, and the man who will have the wheat left on his hands will be the man who has not threshed it and offered it for sale, or the man who has deliberately held it, if there is, unfortunately, at any particular time, a surplus over that which the Minister has ordered to be absorbed. The hardship will not be as great as is imagined, because after the first year the wheat will still be eligible for subsidy in the second year.
§ Sir J. LAMB
It will be "eligible for the benefits of the Bill," if that will suit the Noble Lady, in the second year. So there really is not the hardship which has been anticipated. Whatever hardship there is will fall upon those who have refused to thresh and offer their wheat, or who have deliberately held it.
§ Question put, "That the words 'the Wheat Commission' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 269; Noes, 41.1907
|Division No. 99.]||AYES.||[9.10 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Denman, Hon. R. D|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Denville, Alfred|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Dickie, John P.|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Burnett, John George||Drewe, Cedric|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Butt, Sir Alfred||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Dunglass, Lord|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Eastwood, John Francis|
|Balley, Eric Alfred George||Carver, Major William H.||Eden, Robert Anthony|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Castle Stewart, Earl||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Ellis, Robert Geoffrey|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring)||Elmley, Viscount|
|Balniel, Lord||Choriton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Christie, James Archibald||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Conant, R. J. E.||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Cook, Thomas A.||Fox, Sir Gifford|
|Bernays, Robert||Cooke, Douglas||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Copeland, Ida||Gillett, Sir George Masterman|
|Blindell, James||Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Bossom, A. C.||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Glossop, C. W. H.|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Gluckstein, Louis Halle|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Rower, Sir Robert|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Cross, R. H.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Crossley, A. C.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Greene, William P. C.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Grimston, R. V.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Salmon, Major Isidore|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Magnay, Thomas||Salt, Edward W.|
|Hales, Harold K.||Maitland, Adam||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Ztl'nd)||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Hanbury, Cecil||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Scone, Lord|
|Harris, Sir Percy||Martin, Thomas B.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Hepworth, Joseph||Meller, Richard James||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Hillman, Dr. George B.||Millar, Sir James Duncan||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-In-F.)|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tfd & Chisw'k)||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Hornby, Frank||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Horobin, Ian M.||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Morgan, Robert H.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Howard, Tom Forrest||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Muirhead, Major A. J.||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Munro, Patrick||Soper, Richard|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Nall-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Newton, Sir Douglas George C.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Normand, Wilfrid Guild||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)|
|Hurd, Percy A.||North, Captain Edward T.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romford)||Nunn, William||Stones, James|
|Iveagh, Countess of||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|James, Wing Com. A. W. H.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Janner, Barnett||Palmer, Francis Noel||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Patrick, Colin M.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Peake, Captain Osbert||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Pearson, William G.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Penny, Sir George||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Petherick, M.||Thompson, Luke|
|Kimball, Lawrence||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Knebworth, Viscount||Pike, Cecil F.||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Knight, Holford||Potter, John||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Train, John|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Lees-Jones, John||Ramsden, E.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Rankin, Robert||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Levy, Thomas||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Lindsay, Noel Ker||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Renter, John R.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Llewellin, Major John J.||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Robinson, John Roland||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Ropner, Colonel L.||Womersley, Walter James|
|Mabane, William||Rosbotham, S. T.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)||Ross, Ronald D.||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward|
|McLean, Major Alan||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||and Lord Erskine.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Batey, Joseph||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Price, Gabriel|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hirst, George Henry||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Buchanan, George||Holdsworth, Herbert||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cape, Thomas||Jenkins, Sir William||Thorne, William James|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cove, William G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Kirkwood, David||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Daggar, George||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lawson, John James||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Leonard, William|
|Edwards, Charles||Logan, David Gilbert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Lunn, William||Mr. Duncan Graham and Mr.|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Groves.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Nathan, Major H. L.|
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I beg to move, in page 2, line 26, after the word "order," to insert the words:made before the end of the cereal year.I am anxious to find out something more about the working of this Subsection. It provides:If in the month of June in any year after the year nineteen hundred and thirty-two the Wheat Commission make a representation to the Minister that it is expedient that any stocks of home-grown mill-able wheat then harvested, being wheat sown during the last preceding cereal year, should be bought, by the Flour Millers' Corporation, the Minister may by order require that Corporation to buy from the registered growers specified in the order such part of those stocks as remains unsold.I suppose it is intended that the Order should be made forthwith, and that the Flour Millers' Corporation should purchase before the end of the cereal year. The Sub-section does not provide for that, and it is not provided that the Order shall be made at that particular moment. Consequently, the farmer will have no guarantee, and his wheat may be held over from time to time. I think the Clause will be made a little more workable by inserting the words, "made before the end of the cereal year."
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I quite agree with what the hon. Gentleman has said, and I am prepared to accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I beg to move, in page 2, line 28, to leave out the words "specified in the Order" and to insert instead thereof the words:to whom the order relates.I move this Amendment in order to avoid duplication of printing, and to simplify the procedure.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
It will probably relate to both, but it will be a matter for the Wheat Commission to decide how best t) carry out the Order.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I have an Amendment on the Paper to insert in line 28, after the word "order," the words "by name or district." I would like to know if my Amendment will be in order if we adopt the Amendment under discussion?
§ Mr. ATTLEE
The Minister has already told us that the agents would be instructed to buy here and there, and now we are told that the districts are to be specified in the Order. That suggests quite a different procedure. I understand the procedure now is to be by a specific Order telling the Flour Millers' Corporation to buy from farmer A or farmer B.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
This proposal refers to the schedule of growers prepared by the Wheat Commission. The schedule will be served with the Minister's Order, and that will avoid unnecessary expense. That is the reason why this Amendment is necessary.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Is it the intention to name the registered grower or growers? The words "to whom the order relates," which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to insert, leave the matter still rather nebulous. Unless the specified grower is named as an individual registered grower, then clearly there is something missing. I suggest that, in addition to the words now proposed, the words in a later Amendment, namely, "by name or district," ought to be put in; otherwise the Millers' Corporation will have power to select, first of all, the district and then the individual from whom they may or may not choose to buy any of the surplus wheat held over. If the right hon. Gentleman is unable at this moment to accept the addition of those four words, will he not think about it between now and the Report stage, so that every registered grower will know, on seeing the order which is made, whether his surplus will remain a surplus or will be purchased by the corporation?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
May we not have some explanation of what the actual practice will be? As the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill is not quite certain what course will be pursued, perhaps we might get the hon. Member for the Stone Division (Sir J. Lamb), who is the real father of the Bill, to tell us what precisely is intended. An order is going to be issued by the Minister to the millers and the Wheat Commission to buy wheat up to a certain amount. As I understand it, that order is to contain the name of the person from 1911 whom the wheat is to be bought, and the district. Then the flour millers are to buy a certain proportion of that man's wheat, assuming there is a surplus—say, nine-tenths of farmer A's wheat, nine-tenths of farmer B's wheat, and so on throughout the district. That does not seem to be very practicable from the millers' point of view. There may be an odd number of sacks that will not divide up well. There will be perpetual doubt as to whether a man who is said to have so much wheat in hand has not, since the last information was available, sold part of it, so that he now has less, and the whole sum thus falls to the ground.
What is to happen if the information is not absolutely up-to-date? Surely it is not intended that the Ministry is to specify the name of the farmer? That, surely, is going to be left to the option of the purchasers. Until we are clear whether it is to be the millers' organisation that is to decide where they are to get the total amount of wheat they have to buy, or whether they are to have detailed instructions as to how much of each man's wheat they are to buy, we really are not capable of understanding how the Bill will work. I do not believe that right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Bench can say which of these courses is to be pursued. It never struck them that there was a difficulty. They have always looked on this thing as dealing with organisations and counties, and saying they will take 90 per cent. of the wheat. This question of having A's wheat or B's wheat is a very different proposal. You cannot know how much they have got at the moment. It is impossible to buy from each a stated quantity, and I do think we should know whether we are to tie the hands of the purchaser to buy so much from such and such an individual, or merely to tell them to buy so much from the whole district. It is obvious that the latter course will be the one actually followed. If it is, it will mean unfairness between one farmer and another if the purchasers buy all the supplies from the 'big man, and leave the small men with small quantities of wheat on their hands. We ought to have from those who understand what they intend the Bill to be some explanation as to how this system of purchasing will take place. We have a, further Amendment on 1912 the Paper to add the words "by name or district" which will raise the point again, but it would simplify matters if we had a clear understanding upon it now.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
it is quite simple. The procedure which the Minister is required to take in making an order under the Sub-section is as follows: It requires the corporation to buy unsold stocks. It will be for the Minister to give the order, specifying the date when it shall come into force, the period within which the wheat is to be bought, the price, and the area to which the order relates. As it stood originally, it led to a long list and unnecessary printing, but what will, in fact, happen is that there will be a schedule prepared by the Wheat Commission which will give all the detailed information as to the order, which will refer to the schedule of registered growers and stocks of wheat which will be prepared by the Wheat Commission. These will have to be submitted to and approved by the Minister. It is entirely a matter of convenience in administration.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
May I ask how the Wheat Commission are to know exactly what stocks are in the hands of particular individuals? Will it be done by inspection? Do we understand there will be inspectors going down and finding out exactly what stocks of wheat are in the hands of any particular farmer? That is very important, because the order is practically bound by the 12½ per cent. regulation, and therefore they must have exact knowledge of what the stocks are, and must not only know the exact totals, but also exactly the districts they are in and the individual hands they are in.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
It is clear that every farmer who takes advantage of the Bill must be registered, and a record of what he is going to grow and is actually growing will be in the hands of the Wheat Commission. Not only that, but there will be a very real incentive to all farmers to see that the Wheat Commission are supplied with adequate information. If the Wheat Commission have any reason to think stocks are being held up unduly, they have power to send down to the district and see whether the machinery there is working properly, and, if it is not, why not. The essence of the whole scheme is that there shall be orderly 1913 marketing before you come to the period of the last two months. If there is not orderly marketing, then, of course, the Wheat Commission will be in the position to know that there is not.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
From the returns which are made; from the individual returns which come in through all the organisations which the Wheat Commission will have at their disposal, and from the ordinary returns which are available to the Ministry of Agriculture as to the wheat area under cultivation. All these figures are available to them. They will not be without that knowledge. The Bill, of course, depends on the co-operation and the assistance which the farmers' representatives in each district give to the Wheat Commission as to whether these things work adequately or not. It is in their hands, and the responsibility will rest with them. Anyhow, the machinery is sufficient to entail that the fullest information will be in the hands of the Wheat Commission, and the Commission will advise the Minister.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
It would be a pity to look at this provision purely from the point of view of the farmer. There are two points of view. Apparently there is some doubt as to whether the farmer will find this machinery to work entirely satisfactorily, and I understand that the millers and the corn trade associations do not view these provisions with favour. I have here a telegram from the National Federation of Corn Trade Associations, which reads as follows:Wheat Quota Bill. Liverpool's objections: First to the provision for millers taking over tail end of crop throughout the Bill. The free market for millable wheat will take care of the whole of the crop.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
I shall be very pleased to let the hon. Member see it. There is nothing private or confidential about it. The address is "Exchange Chambers, 28, St. Mary Axe," and it is signed by the Secretary. The telegram came from Liverpool, and was addressed to the London branch of the National Federation of Corn Trade Associations.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not know what the hon. Baronet is proposing to say, but it seems to me that the telegram which he has read has nothing to do with this Amendment.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
I was going to say that the fact that this Federation objects from the point of view of the millers rather suggests that it is in the interests of the farmers, who by this means get security that the balance of their wheat will be purchased.
§ The CHAIRMAN
We are not discussing the Clause, or any particular Subsection of the Clause. If the hon. Baronet will look at the Order Paper, he will see that the Amendment before the Committee proposes to leave out the words "specified in the order," and to insert the words "to whom the order relates."
§ Dr. SALTER
I am at a loss to understand the working of this machinery. Clearly the amount of wheat to be put. chased at the end of the season is governed by the figure of 12½ per cent., that is to say, 12½ per cent. of the total bulk of wheat that has been grown in the country. Suppose that there is more left over. Is every farmer to have his unsold wheat purchased, or a part of his unsold wheat purchased; or are only some farmers in certain areas to have their surplus taken over by the Wheat Commission? That is certainly not clear from the wording of the Bill, and I would defy anyone to say, by looking at the Bill as it stands, how the machinery is going to work. If certain farmers in certain areas are to be favoured in this way, why should they be picked out and relieved of their surplus, while others are left with their surplus on their hands? Who is to determine the question, and on what principle is the determination to be made? I should like the Minister to give us a clear understanding as to whether every farmer will have either the whole or a portion of his unsold wheat purchased by the Commission, or whether only some farmers are to be dealt with in this way.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I am at a loss to understand the object of the Minister's Amendment, now that we have had his explanation of what is going to happen. Originally it was said that he would buy from the registered growers specified in the Order. I now understand him to say 1915 that the names of the growers are going to be specified in a communication to him from the Wheat Commission, but that it will be expensive to print them. I cannot really imagine that the right hon. Gentleman is moving this Amendment because it is expensive to print a list of names in an Order. That seems to be too much even for the National Government's economy. If that is not the case, and if the names are going to be specified, why alter the words of the Clause, unless it is the right hon. Gentleman's intention not to have the names specified? The words "to whom the Order relates," which he now proposes, may mean anything or nothing. The original words did mean something. They meant that in the Order there was to be a list of all those registered growers whose stocks were to be purchased by the Flour Millers' Corporation, and anyone whose name appeared in that Order would then know that he had the right to require the Flour Millers' Corporation to purchase his wheat. Suppose that that is not done. Suppose that the Minister makes an Order that all the wheat, say in Lancashire, is to be bought by the Flour Millers' Corporation. How will the farmers there know? They have to be in a position to sue the Flour Millers' Corporation for this money.
This is creating a debt between the Flour Millers' Corporation and individuals, and, unless the extent of that debt—that is to say, whether it is to cover 100 per cent. of their wheat, or 90 per cent., or whatever may be the percentage—is specified clearly and distinctly in the Order, where is the farmer to get any proof of his right to recover that money from the Flour Millers' Corporation? If the Flour Millers' Corporation refused or fail to buy, the farmer has the right to recover the money. The wheat goes to the Wheat Commission, the Flour Millers' Corporation pays the money to the farmer, and the Wheat Commission, I suppose, sells the wheat and makes a profit; but there must be some document Which the farmer can produce to a court of law as a proof that the Flour Millers' Corporation were required to take over so many quarters of wheat from him and have failed to do so. Unless his name appears on the face of the Minister's 1916 Order, I do not understand from the Minister where the farmer is to get that evidence that he is entitled to recover the money from the Flour Millers' Corporation or evidence as to how much wheat is covered. In the absence of such evidence the court would say, "This does not necessarily cover your wheat. All that it says is, 'Wheat in Lancashire up to a certain amount.' It may be your neighbour's wheat, and not yours. You cannot prove that there was any requirement here to purchase your wheat." I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give some certainty as to the means by which he is going to proceed under this Clause.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I thought I had done my best to make the matter clear. This Amendment is for the purpose of avoiding unnecessary expense in printing these returns which have to come before Parliament. There will be submitted to me from the Wheat Commission a schedule giving all the necessary details which will be required in any practical circumstances. It will be their business to provide that schedule. The names and addresses of individual growers will not be in the Order; they will be in the schedule. The schedule will be the working part of the operation, which will be used by the Wheat Commission. It is quite unnecessary that it should be published in the Order. I wish to avoid the unnecessary expense of printing a list which might run into anything from 10 to 50,000 names and addresses. It is not a matter for this House; it is a matter for the orderly working of the scheme under the Wheat Commission. The Order will refer to the schedule, and will be governed by it. That is the sole object of this Amendment, and I do not think that the House need feel that there is going to be any material difficulty over this problem. Of course, as I said before, orderly marketing is one of the essential parts of this scheme. That must be driven home to all the farmers and their representatives. The scheme has been discussed in many conferences and accepted by the representatives of the farmers and the men in the industry, and they are satisfied that it will work.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
The whole scheme has been discussed day in and day out. This is done for simplification. It is done, I am certain, within the knowledge of those who are mainly concerned, and the scheme has been accepted by the representatives of the farmers and everyone concerned.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It may assist the Committee if I remind them what we are really discussing. The Minister quite properly explained the proposed system in reply to a request to him to explain the Amendment, but we are now only considering the question whether the words should be "specified in the Order" or "to whom the Order relates." I do not think that Amendment will affect the question that has been referred to so much as to the purchase from farmers proportionately or otherwise. If that matter is to be discussed at length, it must be somewhere else than on this Amendment.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
We want to find out what exactly is the meaning of this Amendment. Under Sub-section (6) the right hon. Gentleman is setting up a right of action in the farmer to recover, as a debt due to him, a sum from the corporation if the corporation fails to purchase a certain amount of wheat. Therefore, it is important to know what the farmer is going to have to rely upon. It must be an Order. The Order must state the name of the farmer and the quantity of wheat that the corporation is to be forced to purchase from him. Therefore, surely, it is vital to us to know exactly what the schedule is going to be. Is it to set out a list of names of farmers saying that the corporation must buy from A so many quarters, from B so many and so forth? We want to know that, because it is not merely that they have to buy all the wheat. They have to buy a certain proportion if it is over 12i, per cent., and it is difficult to see how that machinery is going to work. The right hon. Gentleman cannot ride off by saying that he has discussed the matter with farmers. I should like to know whether he has discussed it with lawyers.
§ The CHAIRMAN
May I ask the hon. Gentleman to consider whether the question he has asked will be affected in the very slightest degree whether this 1918 Amendment is carried or whether it is not?
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I should have said it is very essential to the question of specification. "Specified in the Order" means that the Order is to contain certain definite names. "To whom the Order may apply" is a perfectly generalised thing. It may apply to all the farmers in Yorkshire. I do not think that will give a right of action on which a farmer can go to a court of law. It has to specify definitely the name of the farmer, the amount, and so forth, if Sub-section (6) is to be any protection to the farmer.
§ Dr. SALTER
I should like to ask whether every farmer in the country has the right to have a portion of his surplus wheat purchased or whether there is to be picking and choosing.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is just the point that cannot be dealt with on the Amendment. I cannot allow the question to be constantly repeated as I could not allow the Minister to deal with it in reply.
§ Mr. McENTEE
May I ask a question on a legal point? The right hon. Gentleman has made reference on several occasions to the schedule, which, I assume, will contain the names of the farmers and the quantity of wheat. Will the farmers concerned in the Order have access to the schedule to enable them to know what the responsibilities of the Commission and the Millers' Corporation are to them? If not, it will be impossible for them to produce evidence in a court of law in a claim for payment for stock which in their opinion ought to have been purchased from them.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am in a difficulty about supporting or opposing the Amendment, because it is obvious that it has been introduced by the permanent officials with the idea of making the Bill a little more workable. If it is carried, the whole machinery of the Clause will be simplified and the cost of administration will be cheapened, and I am in favour of that improvement. But I have not the slightest sympathy with the farmers, and I do not care whether they are able to get their money or not. Whether the Committee agrees with me or with the farmers, the Ministry should make 1919 up their minds how they are going to operate and what they are going to do. This is a vital Amendment. It is a question what this liability will mean. If the words are left in, "specified in the Order," we shall have to have in each Order an enormous list of farmers and their holdings. I think the right hon. Gentleman said 50,000 farmers will have a finger in the pie. Good luck to them. If these words are left out, they will not have a finger in the pie. They will be left to an unprinted, unpublished' schedule for the basis of any claim to reimbursement by the Millers' Association. Is that the law?
I think we really ought to be conducting our Debates with some Law Officer present. This is an extraordinarily difficult Bill for a layman to understand. The only lawyer we have had taking part in the discussion has been my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps). He places an interpretation on the Bill which is fatal to the farmers' rights to claim their money. Is he right? Evidently the permanent officials have discovered that there is a snag in the Amendment that they have put forward. In view of the entire inability of the Front Bench to explain what the law will be if their Amendment is carried—we knew what it was originally—we might ask them either to withdraw it or to adjourn till we get a legal explanation of the position. We could do with one evening off, as we have had so many afternoons off on Fridays, instead of sitting up all night. It will give the Government a chance. They have not read the Bill yet. They have not thought it out. They have not had the case made out for their Amendments. If we adjourn now, they will have their chance, and we shall have the benefit of the advice of the other hon. Member for Bristol.
Lieut.-Colonel SANDEMAN ALLEN
The Opposition have been worrying themselves about leaving out the words "specified in the order" and yet I see that the next Amendment on the Paper in the name of Members of the Opposition is to leave out these very words.
I understood that the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) objected to the words "specified in the order" being taken out of the Clause.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
May I make it clear? The right hon. Gentleman opposite is moving to take out the words "specified in the order" in order to insert the words "to whom the order relates."
I understand that, but I thought that the objection of the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol was that you were not going to have the names specified in the order and you were taking out those words.
§ Mr. HOLFORD KNIGHT
There is a, general desire in the Committee that we should get on with the business. The Front Bench opposite under the inspiration of the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) has wasted a quarter of an hour in raising unnecessary points. There were two points made by the hon. and learned Member, if I understood him rightly. He first of all imagines that in the Amendment proposed by the Minister the order will not be clear, but I suggest to the Committee that the insertion of the words "the person to whom the order relates" are about as clear an indication of the purport of the order as you can find. Secondly, the hon. and learned Gentleman, on the spur of the moment, without due reflection, suggests to the Committee that if the order is made in this form it will place the farmer who thinks that he has a claim against the authorities hereafter in a difficulty. The hon. and learned Member knows as well as anybody in the Committee that if a farmer in such a case makes a complaint, he has merely to produce the order prepared by the Minister showing that he is the person to whom the order relates, which is the foundation of his claim. With the greatest possible respect, have we not exhausted this matter?
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I should not have intervened but for the statement of the hon. and learned Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Knight), and now I am afraid it will be necessary for me to occupy the time of the Committee in 1921 explaining to him what the right hon. Gentleman has said, because he has, apparently, not yet appreciated it. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister has told us that the order is not now going to contain the names of any registered growers at all, and that that is why the alteration is being made in the words. The order, therefore, on production in a court of law, will not show anybody to whom it relates at all.
§ Mr. KNIGHT
If, as will be the case under this Amendment, an order specifies the person to whom the order relates, surely that will be evidence of any claim.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
The hon. and learned Gentleman has not yet appreciated what the right hon. Gentleman the Minister has said.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
If the hon. and learned Member will listen, I will repeat what the right hon. Gentleman the Minister said, and the Minister will correct me if I am wrong. The object of the making of this alteration is that the order should not specify the names of the registered growers. That is not to be done, and that is why the words are being changed from "specified in the order" to the words, "to whom the order relates." There will be no published document showing the names of the persons from whom the Flour Millers' Corporation are required to buy wheat. Therefore, if a farmer requires, under Sub-section (6), to prove that he is one of those people, and therefore has a right of action under that Clause against the Flour Millers' Corporation, he will not be able to do it by producing an order which makes no reference to it. We say that it would be much better to have an order which did make reference to it, and then he could produce it and would be able to say "I am John Jones. I am mentioned in the order, and that gives me my right to sell my wheat." The hon. and learned Gentleman does not appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister has said that that is exactly what is not going to happen.
§ Mr. KNIGHT
It is obvious that if an order is made it will show the person 1922 to whom it relates as provided by the words of the Amendment' now before the Committee. [HON. Modems: "No."] We are now discussing the Amendment to leave out the words "specified in the order" and to insert "to whom the order relates." That is the business before the Committee. I am suggesting that if those words are substituted, the order will clearly show to whom it relates.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
This shows the difficulty of lawyers reading the Amendment without reading the Bill. It is very unfortunate for the Committee that the hon. and learned Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Knight) did not come away from his dinner earlier and study the Bill before making his speech. Let me read how the Clause will run:may by order require that Corporation to buy from the registered growers to whom the order relates"—that is the whole lot of them—such part of those stocks as remains.Under the Clause as amended, no individual is mentioned at all. There is no schedule. There is nothing. It is simply left as a general instruction that they areto buy from the registered growers to whom the order relates such part of those stocks as remains unsold.If the hon. and learned Gentleman had come into the Chamber earlier and listened to the speech of the Minister in charge, he would have learned what was intended. [An HON. MEMBER "What is meant by the change?"] I entirely agree with the Minister. In the Clause as it originally stood the order had to contain and specify the names of every farmer concerned and the amount that had to be bought from them. As it originally stood, the order would have led to an enormous amount of work, including the printing of 50,000 names. It would have meant an impossible amount of work even for the vast organisation which the Bill is to set up. Therefore, it has been altered. The specification is done away with, and there is to be no order specifying in detail. All that they are to do is to instruct the Millers' Corporation to buy so much wheat in the district according to the original schedule. That schedule is to be the basis of any action by any individual farmer, and it must be published and known in the district, otherwise the farmers will have no data.
1923 I suppose the Amendment is intended to save the expense of printing the Schedule. I think, the Amendment means that the Schedule will not be published, and that there will simply be a private list supplied to the Millers' Corporation, saying where they can buy their stuff. With that list before them, they will buy where they like. They will buy from those people who are their friends, who will find their stocks purchased, while those who are not their friends will find that their stocks are lest on their hands. I do not know whether it is intended to publish the Schedule or not. I cannot get an answer. If it is to be published, it might as well be specified in the Order, and printed there. I do not know whether it will be written and posted on the church doors. If you have to print you might as well print in the Order as publish it on the church doors. If you are not going to print it at all, the Schedule becomes a private document, known only to the Millers' Corporation, and you will be doing a great injustice to those farmers whose stocks are not bought, while the stocks of their neighbours are bought.
§ where we ought to be able to get a true definition and where there ought to be no legal question unanswered. Someone ought to be able to give a definition. People outside are expected to be able to understand the House of Commons, although inside the House we are in a quandary because no Law Officer of the Crown has been able to give us a definition. Can we not have a Law Officer present, seeing that two legal gentlemen have given opposite opinions and that the Minister who introduced the Amendment is in a quandary? I am in a quandary. I do not know which way to vote. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Hon. Members must understand that I have not come into this House as part of a huge machine. I am not tied to a National party. I am a Member of a party that moves rightly. This is not a National party. It is a Labour party. It has not changed its name. We know where we are. I have a right to ask that we should have a legal definition given by one who is paid to define, when Ministers who introduce Bills do not know what they mean.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 43; Noes, 291.1925
|Division No. 100.]||AYES.||[10.9 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Batey, Joseph||Grundy, Thomas W.||Price, Gabriel|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Buchanan, George||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cape, Thomas||Hirst, George Henry||Thorne, William James|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Jenkins, Sir William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cove, William G.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|Cowan, D. M.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Kirk wood, David||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Daggar, George||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lawson, John James|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Leonard, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Edwards, Charles||Logan, David Gilbert||Mr. Duncan Graham and Mr.|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Lunn, William||Groves.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Brown, Ernest (Leith)|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks., Newb'y)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.|
|Albery, Irving James||Bernays, Robert||Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Burnett, John George|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Butt, Sir Alfred|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Blindell, James||Caporn, Arthur Cecil|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Bossom, A. C.||Carver, Major William H.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Castle Stewart, Earl|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (P'rtsm'th, S.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Broadbent, Colonel John||Christie, James Archibald|
|Balniel, Lord||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Clydesdale, Marquess of|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey||Janner, Barnett||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Ramsden, E.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Rankin, Robert|
|Cooke, Douglas||Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Copeland, Ida||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Ker, J. Campbell||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Crott, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Kimball, Lawrence||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R||Remer, John R.|
|Groom-Johnson, R. P.||Knebworth, Viscount||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.|
|Cross, R. H.||Knight, Holford||Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip|
|Crossley, A. C.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Robinson, John Roland|
|Davies, Ma. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Denville, Alfred||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Rosbotham, S. T.|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Lees-Jones, John||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Dickie, John P.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Donner, P. W.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Doran, Edward||Levy, Thomas||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Drewe, Cedric||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Duncan, James A. L.(Kensington, N.)||Llewellin, Major John J.||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Dung lass, Lord||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Salmon, Major Isidore|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Salt, Edward W.|
|Eden, Robert Anthony||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Samuel, sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Edge, Sir William||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Ellis, Robert Geoffrey||Mabane, William||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Elmley, Viscount||MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Mac Andrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Scone, Lord|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||McKie, John Hamilton||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||McLean, Major Alan||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Fox, Sir Gilford||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Magnay, Thomas||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Maitland, Adam||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Mailalieu, Edward Lancelot||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Soper, Richard|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Martin, Thomas B.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)|
|Granville, Edgar||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Greene, William P. C.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Stones, James|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Meller, Richard James||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Griffith. F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Millar, Sir James Duncan||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Hales, Harold K.||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Sutciiffe, Harold|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Moore-8raba2on, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Morgan, Robert H.||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Thompson, Luke|
|Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Hanbury, Cecil||Muirhead, Major A. J.||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||Munro, Patrick||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Harris, Sir Percy||Nall-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.||Train, John|
|Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Newton Sir Douglas George C.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Normand, Wilfrid Guild||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Heneage, Lieut. Colonel Arthur P.||North, Captain Edward T.||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Hepworth, Joseph||Nunn, William||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Hillman, Dr. George B.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Holdsworth, Herbert||Palmer, Francis Noel||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Patrick, Colin M.||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Peake, Captain Osbert||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Hornby, Frank||Pearson, William G.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Horobin, Ian M.||Peat, Charles U.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Penny, Sir George||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Howard, Tom Forrest||Petherick, M.||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Pickering, Ernest H.||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Pike, Cecil F.||Womersley, Walter James|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Potter, John||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romford)||Pybus, Percy John||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Iveagh, Countess of||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Captain Austin Hudson and Lord|
§ Proposed words there inserted.1927
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I beg to move, in page 2, to leave out lines 33 to 37.
I think the Minister realises that this is a very friendly Amendment. The proviso which I seek to omit will get him into difficulties all the time. What is the effect of it? The trouble arises where you have an amount of homegrown wheat in excess of the 12½ per cent. Sub-section (3) states clearly that the Flour Millers' Corporation is—to buy from the registered growers specified in the order such part of those stocks as remains unsold by them when the order comes into force ….The question is, how is the selection to be made between the various people concerned? That is what will get the right hon. Gentleman into difficulties. If the Corporation had to buy the whole lot the right hon. Gentleman could specify the lot, but he has to specify an amount which is not to be in excess of 12½ per cent. I do not know what he is going to do. Let us suppose that the amount left over in June is something like 14 or 15 per cent. It is left over as separate parcels of wheat in the hands of various farmers. How is the selection to be made? The right hon. Gentleman is not going to specify names in the order. How is he going to distinguish between the people who are to have their stocks bought and those who are not? The right hon. Gentleman had better accept the Amendment, leave out the 12½ per cent. and leave the obligation on the Corporation to purchase the whole of the stocks.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
If this Amendment were accepted it would mean that the millers would have to buy the whole of the stocks, irrespective of ordinary marketing. I understand that one of the objects of hon. Members opposite is to see that there shall be ordinary marketing, but this Amendment would be one of the surest methods of preventing ordinary marketing. Upon what basis has this scheme been arranged? It has not been done without some knowledge of the circumstances which have attended the ordinary marketing of grain over a long period of years. It is quite clear that unless there is some abnormal holding up of stocks by farmers during the ordinary period of sale this 12½ per cent. is more than ample to cover the stocks that will remain unsold. It is right that the farming community should understand 1928 that it is not to their advantage to hold up stocks unduly, but that they should carry out these operations in the ordinary way and with due regard to the fact that in June and July the Bill gives them the certainty that 12½ per cent. of the whole of the anticipated supply will be absorbed and no more. I think, in the circumstances, the Committee will realise that this proviso is a proper safeguard.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I quite appreciate the fact that the right hon. Gentleman regards this proviso as a proper safeguard, but I do not see how it works. The first part of Sub-section (3) as it now stands, lays down that the Flour Millers' Corporation shall, if the Minister makes an Order, purchase such parts of these stocks of the registered growers as remain unsold by them—that is the registered growers—when the Order comes into force. That cannot be less than 100 per cent. of the remaining stocks. They have to purchase all the stocks that remain unsold by the registered growers. Supposing that the whole of these unsold stocks is more than 12½ per cent. of the total anticipated supply of the year, how does the Minister propose to regulate the dealings of the Flour Millers' Corporation with the farmers? They have to buy all that the farmer has. They are made to do so by the Order. But they are also told that they cannot buy more than 12½ per cent. of the total anticipated supply. How are they to know when they go to a farmer's premises, how much of that farmer's wheat they have to buy? They are told they have to buy all of it, but at the same time they are told that they must not buy more, in the total, than 12½ per cent. of the anticipated supply. Does it mean that in the case of the first dozen farmers they buy the lot, and, that when they find that they have bought nearly enough, they do not buy any more and that the remaining farmers are left with their stocks unbought? If the right hon. Gentleman is going to have a provision that the whole of the unsold stocks have to be bought, he cannot afterwards put in this limitation of 12½ per cent. of the anticipated supply, because the two things do not read together. No one will know which of these two factors is to be the determining factor—whether it is to be the whole of the unsold stocks, or some percentage calculated on the basis of 12½ per cent. of the anticipated supply.
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
I quite agree that this is a Clause which will be difficult to operate, but it seems to me that the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just spoken is more royalist than the King. He is trying to give even more to the farmers than the Minister of Agriculture is trying to give them. If these lines are left out, there will be no limit to the obligation of the corporation as to the amount of stocks that they will have to buy. This is a limiting Clause; it is a Clause to protect the obligations of the Millers' Corporation, and I am surprised that the Mover of the Amendment wants to be more generous to the farmers than does the Minister himself.
§ Mr. D. GRENFELL
I do not think the Amendment is more Royalist than the King, or more generous to the farmers than is the Minister himself. If there is nobody to buy this wheat, you will induce the farmer to sell his wheat at the lowest price in order to get rid of it, and then it will require a higher subsidy on the part of the Wheat Commission. The price to be paid may be less than the standard price. The Commission has power to buy at less than the standard price, and that is a check on the farmer. I want to help the Minister, because if the Bill has to be passed, we want to make it a workable Measure. We want to be quite sure that the farmer is not left with his wheat on his hands when he has made every reasonable effort to sell it. There are two parties to every sale, and I do not think the farmer should be penalised if no buyer has offered him a decent price for his wheat. I think the Minister will see that our intentions are friendly and that we want to improve his Bill.
Lieut.-Colonel J. SANDEMAN ALLEN
In my view, the Amendment, if carried, would tend to increase the amount of wheat to be grown in the country, and that is one of the things that I rather oppose. In fact, the Opposition themselves do not wish to see any increase in the amount of wheat that is grown in this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Well, I will quote the speech of the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) who, speaking in this House on the Second Reading of the Bill, said: 1930English-grown wheat is totally unsuited for modern bread-making, and is not used used for that purpose except to an absolutly infinitesimal extent."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1932; col. 996. Vol. 262.] If that is the point of view of the hon. Members, why move an Amendment which will assist in increasing the acreage of wheat to be grown in this country?
§ Sir E. SHEPPERSON
I consider that in this case the Opposition are making a mountain out of a molehill. The hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee), in moving the Amendment, seemed to me to be moving an Amendment that will have no foundation or use at all. The British farmer, whatever else he is, is not a fool, and he is not going to retain his wheat and allow it to be destroyed by vermin or to lose its moisture until the month of June. I am confident that when this Bill passes, there will not be 12 per cent., there will not be 5 per cent., of British wheat for the millers to absorb in the months of June, July and August.
§ Dr. SALTER
I want to ask the Minister a question which I put on the previous Amendment when I was out of order. I want to know definitely whether under this Clause every farmer will have the right to have either the whole or a portion of his wheat that is not sold purchased by the Flour Millers' Corporation. Will every farmer have that right or only some farmers? If the wheat of only some farmers is to be purchased, on what scheme is the picking and choosing to be carried out? Is it to be by area or according to the total amount which the farmer has on his hands?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
The limit of 12½ per cent. will be well known, and it is clear that if farmers hold up wheat in excess of 12½ per cent. of the total crop of the year, they will run the risk of not getting the whole of it purchased within that year. That is certain, and I repeat that that can be avoided by orderly marketing. The records of the areas and the experience that the trade has had in this matter make it perfectly clear that nothing like 12½ per cent. is left upon the farms in ordinary circumstances. If that be so, as I believe it to be, there is no reason to suppose that any difficulty will arise in this matter. It is clear that there is no guarantee to certain individuals if they exceed their limit of 12½ per cent., and there will be some who will not have it purchased in the year.
§ Dr. SALTER
If less than 12½ per cent. of the total wheat produced in the country in the cereal year is unsold at the end of the cereal year, will the Millers' Corporation be required to purchase the whole of the unsold wheat of every farmer?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
The Wheat Commission will of course obtain the information where all the outstanding wheat remains. It will be their duty to advise the Minister, and the Order will specify what wheat is to be purchased. If it is within the 12½ per cent., I have no doubt that it will be purchased.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Dr. SALTER
I beg to move, in page 2, line 42, to leave out the words "in the area to which the Order relates and".
I move this Amendment to obtain some information from the right hon. Gentleman. We want to know what are the areas referred to and how they are to be determined. Are they market areas, or county areas, or areas like those in proximity to a port mill or a country mill? As the Clause stands, it might operate unfairly as between one district and another, or between one group of farmers and another as, for example, in the case of a higher price being obtained by a farmer close to a country mill than by a farmer some distance from a country mill.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
The effect of this Amendment would be to require the Minister to fix a uniform price for the whole country as a basis of the Order regulating the price to be paid for the unsold stock. That would really be unworkable, because in practice the price for home-grown wheat varies considerably in different parts of the country in relation both to the demand for and to the quality of the wheat; and therefore it is very necessary that the Minister should be at liberty, on the advice of the Wheat Commission, to fix different prices for the wheat marketed in different areas, according to the quality and the local conditions.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
The Bill says:In the area to which the Order relates.Suppose that it is an Order to purchase the surplus in the United Kingdom, as it may well be. Will that mean that the price will be the same for the whole of 1932 the United Kingdom, or is it intended that within the ambit of a single Order different area prices will be fixed, because if so I suggest that that cannot be done under the words as they now stand and that they will require Amendment?
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
We are getting back to the discussion we had on a previous Amendment. The words to which the Order relates refer to a document, to a schedule, which will include both names and areas. It may in one category include areas and in another only names, and vice versa. The words are deliberately wide in order to enable the Order that comes to Parliament to have reference to a document that may be flexible and variable in character.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
The Minister of Agriculture has told us that the Order will not have the names in it. We now understand that they will go into the Order.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I said quite clearly that the Order has reference to a document which is not the Order but is the schedule deposited with the Wheat Commission, which will be sealed by the Minister and will be the governing document. That is the whole object of the Amendment we passed just now. Instead of having a rigid document printed as an Order before this House we shall have a document drawn up by the Wheat Commission and presented to the Minister and sealed by him which will permit of greater flexibility than would a rigid Order of this House.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. D. GRENFELL
I beg to move, in page 3, line 5, to leave out the words "and market conditions."
It is provided in the Clause that the wheat shall be bought at such prices as may be determined, according to quality and market conditions. We would like to know whether the Minister is to strike a bargain or whether farmers are to be invited separately and individually to go to a number of markets with varying prices where he can play them off one against another, as will be within his power as a purchaser. Supposing the right hon. Gentleman has the power to buy 12½ per cent. and there is a surplus 1933 of 20 per cent. Is he going to use his power as a buyer with authority to buy less than the whole quantity to play off the farmers one against the other, or will he meet the farmers in a spirit of fairness and pay the full value? The Minister should say to the farmers who have not sold their wheat, "We will pay so much"—the average paid to those who have sold their wheat earlier in the year. That would be fair, having regard to the fact that they have retained their wheat and run the risk of loss of weight and of its being infected by vermin. The Minister ought to tell us what is in his mind. Is he going to beat the farmers down or penalise them because they find themselves in this position? On the other hand, if there is a shortage of wheat is the farmer to be in a position to benefit by getting an abnormally high price because be has withheld his wheat instead of selling it? What do these words "marketing conditions" signify, and how far do they permit the Minister to pay an unduly high price or jeopardise a farmer's chance of getting a fair price?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
These words are intended as a safeguard both for the registered growers and the millers. The theory is that it shall be worked through a free market. The intention is that if the free market price of wheat varies up or down after an Order has been made in the later period, the price at which the wheat is bought by the Flour Millers' Corporation shall have regard to any such rise or fall during the period in which the Flour Millers' Corporation are allowed to buy wheat. In a period, say, of 10, 15 or 20 days, it is conceivable that it might be found by the buyer for the Flour Millers' Corporation that the price of wheat in the open market had risen, in which case the registered growers who sold their wheat under the terms of the Minister's Order might get less than the ordinary price. On the other hand, if the market price generally went down after the Minister's Order took effect the millers, on their side, might be prejudiced if they were being compelled by the growers to buy the whole of the unsold wheat at a higher price than the market price. Therefore, I think that this machinery gives a reasonable and proper deal. I hope in 1934 these circumstances the Amendment will not be pressed.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
We appreciate what the Minister means, but may I suggest that it would be better to use some other words and refer definitely to the free market price, because market conditions one immediately imagines mean conditions under which the wheat is marketed—that is the particular market conditions under which the farmer is selling his wheat. If this proposal is intended to mean the free market price, the right hon. Gentleman might consider making that point quite clear on the Report stage; otherwise, I am afraid farmers and others will not understand what it means.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
In view of what the hon. and learned Member has said, I promise to look into this point.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I beg to move, in page 3, line 7, at the end, to insert the words:Provided that upon the determination of the price for any such wheat a certificate shall be supplied to the registered grower stating the quality thereof.These words are needed because of the Amendment which follows on the Paper in the name of the Minister of Agriculture. The right hon. Gentleman is proposing to put in a new Sub-section instead of Sub-section (5), which deals with the position which may arise if within the period within which any wheat is required to be bought by an order made under the Sub-section, objection is made on behalf of the Flour Millers' Corporation that any of the wheat is not of the quality according to which the price had been determined. When it comes to a decision as to whether or not the wheat is of a quality according to which the price has been determined, it will, obviously, be necessary to have some record of what that quality was, as otherwise it will be all in the air as regards determining whether it corresponds to the quality which was promised—in other words, whether it was up to sample.
Therefore, if there is to be a valuation in the first stage under Sub-section (4) there must be some record kept of what the basis of that valuation was, in order that it may be challenged under Subsection (5). I suggest to the right hon. 1935 Gentleman that, either in the words that we put forward, or in some other words, there must be provision for the keeping of a record of the quality of the wheat sample upon which the price was fixed, in order that when the dispute arises, if it does arise, with the Flour Millers' Corporation, there will be on record a certificate as to what that security was, and the basis upon which the price was fixed, and that certificate will, of course, form the foundation of the case, either on the one side or the other, that the wheat is or is not up to quality.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I do not think this Amendment is really necessary, for this reason. The by-laws which the Wheat Commission are going to make under Clause 4, in the case of voluntary agreement between the farmers, and the provisions of Clause 1 (6, b), dealing with disputes, which I propose now to amend, will provide for the issue of certificates of millable quality to registered growers upon the determination of the price of the wheat sold to the Flour Millers' Corporation under the Minister's Order, so that there will be, in fact, a certificate of the sale of the wheat, and I believe that will meet what the right hon. Gentleman wants.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I beg to move, in page 3, line 8, to leave out Sub-section (5), and to insert instead thereof the words:(5) If, within the period within which any wheat is required by an order made under this section to be bought, objection is made, in such manner as may be provided by the by-laws of the Wheat Commission, by or on behalf of the Flour Millers' Corporation, that any of that wheat—This Amendment is to deal with the subject of disputes, and it makes it clear that if within the period within which any wheat is required by an Order made under this Sub-section to be bought objection is made, in such manner as may be provided by the by-laws of the Wheat Commission, by or on behalf of the Flour Millers' Corporation, that any of the wheat does not meet the three conditions set out, the matter shall be determined by arbitration. I believe that covers all disputes which may arise.
then if it is determined by arbitration in accordance with the said by-laws that the wheat objected to is not home-grown millable wheat the order shall cease to have effect as respects that wheat, or if it is so determined that the wheat objected to, though home-grown millable wheat, is of lower quality than that, according to which the price has been determined, the requirements of the order shall be deemed to be 1936 complied with as respects that wheat if it is bought by the corporation at such lower price as the arbitrator may allow.
- (a) is not home-grown; or
- (b) is not millable wheat; or
- (c) is not of the quality according to which the price has been so determined as aforesaid;
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I beg to move, in page 3, line 22, after the word "corporation," to insert the words "made within that period."
The effect of this Amendment will be that, if the Flour Millers' Corporation ask for an extension of time in which to buy wheat which they may be required to buy under an Order of the Minister, they shall apply for such extension within the original period specified in the Order. This is desirable in order to secure promptitude on the part of the Corporation in dealing with the Ministers Orders.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I beg to move, in page 3, line 23, to leave out from the beginning to the word "that" in line 25, and to insert instead thereof the words:(b) either that no objection that the quantity is not a quantity of home-grown millable wheat has been duly made in accordance with the provisions of the last foregoing sub-section or that the quantity has been determined in accordance with those provisions to be a quantity of homegrown millable wheat; and(c).Sub-section (6) of Clause 1 provides machinery for enforcing the Minister's Order in the unlikely event of willful default on the part of the Flour Millers' Corporation in complying with an Order. While it is not expected that this machinery will have to be imposed, such a provision must be made in the interests of the grower.
§ Amendment agreed to.1937
§ Further Amendment made:
In page 3, line 27, leave out from the word "at," to the end of line 31, and insert instead thereof the words:
the price determined or allowed in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this section."—[Sir J. Gilmour.]
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I beg to move, in page 3, to leave out lines 39 and 40, and to insert instead thereof the word "Crown."
I move this Amendment in order to get an explanation from the right hon. Gentleman of what seems to be an unprecedented procedure in the history of this country. An Order is to be made that A shall purchase certain goods from B. If A fails to do so, B can bring an action against A and recover the money, and thereupon the goods are forfeited, not to the Crown, as would ordinarily be the case, nor do they go to the person who has paid for them, but they go to some third party who has nothing to do with the matter. We know that very odd things happen under the aegis of the present Government, but does the right hon. Gentleman seriously intend that such a perfectly comic state of affairs shall be set up under an Act of Parliament? It seems to be a most extraordinary precedent. Either the wheat ought to go to the Flour Millers' Corporation when they have been made to pay for it—and there does not seem to be any reason why it should not go to them, unless they are to be treated as felons; or, if they are to be treated as felons, it ought to go to the Crown, and not to some third party. I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that it is quite an irregular proceeding in every way to order under an Act of Parliament forfeiture of goods from a subject, except to the Crown.
As far as I know, there is no instance of a forfeiture of this kind occurring. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman at least to preserve the respect which I am sure he has for the Crown by doing in this case what has always been done for the Crown before.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman would not expect me to do other than preserve my respect for the Crown. I am going to invite him to preserve the interests of the consumers. If the Amendment were carried 1938 I think the effect really would be to cause a loss to the consumer. The proceeds of the sale of any wheat that may be forfeited to the Wheat Commission as the result of a possible default on the part of the Millers' Corporation will go into the Wheat Fund and thus reduce the amount of future quota payments. The Amendment would be to the disadvantage of consumers and users of flour, which I am sure is not the hon. and learned Gentleman's object.
§ Mr. D. GRENFELL
The right hon. Gentleman does not justify himself by saying this is a matter of expediency and an advantage to the consumer. This is setting up an association with power to carry on trade and, in case of a dispute, when the dispute has been adjusted, this body is to take over the property in dispute. This is really Bolshevism. It is not a gradual transition from Capitalism to Socialism. The Tory party set up their Soviet institutions with a jump. We really protest against this power being given.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
In view of the right hon. Gentleman's willingness to make the constitution flexible, a thing that we also may want to do in our turn, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I beg to move, in page 4, line 3, at the end, to insert the words:(7) Any wheat of a registered grower's own growing, which is bought by the Flour Millers' Corporation in accordance with the requirements of an order made under this section, pursuant to a representation of the Wheat Commission, or which is forfeited to the Commission under the last foregoing sub-section, shall be deemed for the purposes of Sub-section (1) of this section to have been sold by that grower in the cereal year in which the representation of the Commission was made.This is the former Sub-section (5) amended to cover the case of wheat dealt with under an order by the Minister under Clause 1 (3) requiring the Flour Millers' Corporation to pay for the stock. The effect of the Amendment is to make all such wheat eligible for the appropriate deficiency payment in the cereal year in which the Wheat Commission made its representation to the Ministry under Clause 1 (3).
§ Amendment agreed to.1939
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
I have moved this Motion in order that we might obtain a statement from the Government as to how far they intend to go to-night. I observe that Amendments are being accepted very rapidly, and I do not know whether that betokens an accommodation. It is now past Eleven o'Clock, and it is usual, when the Committee is discussing matters of this kind, to have a statement from the Government as to how far they intend to continue the sitting. Do they intend to take Clauses 2 and 3, or will they be satisfied with Clause 1. If there is any arrangement, I should like to know what it is. With what progress will the Government be satisfied, and what do they think will be a reasonable hour for the Committee to rise?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I would ask the Committee to agree to proceed to finish Clause 1, and then to proceed with Clause 2 down to line 21, which will leave over the main question of the sliding scale to be discussed on the next occasion?
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
Will not the right hon. Gentleman, in view of the very rapid progress which has been made, be satisfied with Clause 1 and allow us to start afresh on Clause 2, with fresh minds, fresh brains, and fresh instructions on the next occasion? I am sure that we shall not really do anything of great value by going beyond Clause 1 to-night. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman's reasonableness on this occasion will be helpful in getting the Bill through.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I am anxious to meet the wishes of the Committee, but I had hoped that we might have taken the first Sub-section of Clause 2. I do not think it would take very long.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
All the Amendments appear to be ruled out, and therefore we are not likely to gain anything.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I have no intention of pressing the Motion, and, in view of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman and his reasonableness, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider the hon. and learned Member's point and be satisfied with Clause 1 to-night.
§ Mr. COCKS
I support the appeal, because, after all, the right hon. Gentleman must admit that there has not been the slightest obstruction to-night. We have been as helpful as we possibly could. We could have opposed the Clause for a much longer period had we wanted to do so, but we have tried to help him. He can, no doubt, see the jaded faces, not among the Opposition specially, but among Members in all parts of the Committee, and I appeal to him for the sake of humanity to be satisfied with Clause 1 and not go any further to-night.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I will respond to that suggestion by saying that I am very anxious to meet the Committee, and I will agree.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
In view of the very kind suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, it is not our intention to detain the Committee for more than a few minutes. We regret that no provision has been made for the workers. We have submitted what we thought was a justifiable claim on behalf of the agricultural workers, asking first for their inclusion in an unemployment benefit scheme before this Bill becomes law, and, secondly, asking that some safeguard or guarantee should be put into the Bill in order that they shall get a small share of the benefit that will be derived by the farmers under the Bill. We are disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman would not go so far as to tell us that although he was unwilling to accept our Amendments he would do something to establish a central wages board with powers to supplement the present inspectors so as to ensure that the Agricultural Wages (Regulation) Act, 1924, would be carried out and to indicate his good will towards the workers in the industry.
We are disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman would not agree to give a most effective warning to the farmers by clearly indicating that there is a time limit in the Bill. If that had been done the farmers would have been no less responsive than any other section of the community, and the subsidy would have been accepted as a sum of money to tide them over a certain period, after which 1941 they would have been able to carry on in an economic fashion without further assistance from the State. Further, the financial assistance to be given is described as "deficiency payment." We think it would have been more consistent with the dignity of the Government if they had given this financial assistance its right and proper name—a subsidy. We regret that the right hon. Gentleman has not seen fit to accept the many proposals that have been submitted from this side of the House. We shall endeavour to improve the Bill throughout the remaining stages, but we object to
§ the principle embodied in the Bill and shall vote against Clause after Clause. Our objections, however, will be put in such a way as to avoid wasting the time of the House. We differ in our principles, and it is legitimate for every party to put forward what it conceives to be best in the interests of the nation as a whole. We are very glad at the tone of the Debate to-day, but because of the reasons which I have stated we shall vote against the Clause.
§ Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 281; Noes, 50.1943
|Division No. 101.]||AYES.||[11.14 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Davison, Sir William Henry||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Donner, P. W.||Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)|
|Albery, Irving James||Doran, Edward||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Duckworth, George A. V.||Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Duggan, Hubert John||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Jesson, Major Thomas E.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Dunglass, Lord||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Eastwood, John Francis||Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Eden, Robert Anthony||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Ker, J. Campbell|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Ellis, Robert Geoffrey||Kerr, Hamilton W.|
|Balniel, Lord||Elmley, Viscount||Kimball, Lawrence|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. H.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Knebworth, Viscount|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Bernays, Robert||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Everard, W. Lindsay||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Fox, Sir Gifford||Law, Sir Alfred|
|Blindell, James||Fraser, Captain Ian||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Borodale, Viscount||Ganzoni, Sir John||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Lees-Jones, John|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Glossop, C. W. H.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Levy, Thomas|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Goldie, Noel B.||Lindsay, Noel Ker|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Llewellin, Major John J.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Gower, Sir Robert||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'ndsw'th)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Greene, William P. C.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks., Newb'y)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Lyons, Abraham Montagu|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Grimston, R. V.||Mabane, William|
|Burghley, Lord||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Guy, J. C. Morrison||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Burnett, John George||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hales, Harold K.||McEwen, J. H. F.|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||McLean, Major Alan|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hanbury, Cecil||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Carver, Major William H.||Hanley, Dennis A.||Magnay, Thomas|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Hartington, Marquess of||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.|
|Choriton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Christie, James Archibald||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Mayhaw, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Hillman, Dr. George B.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Cooke, Douglas||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Millar, Sir James Duncan|
|Copeland, Ida||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)|
|Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Hornby, Frank||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Horobin, Ian M.||Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Mitcheson, G. G.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Howard, Tom Forrest||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
|Cross, R. H.||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Morgan, Robert H.|
|Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Rosbotham, S. T.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Muirhead, Major A. J.||Ross, Ronald D.||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Munro, Patrick||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Nall-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Runge, Norah Cecil||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E.A.(P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|Newton, Sir Douglas George C.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Normand, Wilfrid Guild||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Thompson, Luke|
|North, Captain Edward T.||Salmon, Major Isidore||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Nunn, William||Salt, Edward W.||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Train, John|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Palmer, Francis Noel||Savery, Samuel Servington||Turten, Robert Hugh|
|Patrick, Colin M.||Scone, Lord||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Pearson, William G.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Peat, Charles U.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Ward, Lt.-Cot. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Petherick, M.||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bilst'n)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Pike, Cecil F.||Skelton, Archibald Noel||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-In-F.)||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Procter, Major Henry Adam||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Pybus, Percy John||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Somervell, Donald Bradley||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Soper, Richard||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Ramsbotham, Herwald||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Ramsden, E.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||Womersley, Walter James|
|Rankin, Robert||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Remer, John R.||Stones, James||Wragg, Herbert|
|Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Robinson, John Roland||Strauss, Edward A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Strickland, Captain W. F.||Sir George Penny and Mr. Walter Rea|
|Ropner, Colonel L.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro',W.)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton|
|Batey, Joseph||Grundy, Thomas W.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Buchanan, George||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Cape, Thomas||Harris, Sir Percy||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Hirst, George Henry||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Cove, William G.||Holdsworth, Herbert||Price, Gabriel|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Janner, Barnett||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Daggar, George||Jenkins, Sir William||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|Edwards, Charles||Kirkwood, David||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Lawson, John James|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Leonard, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Logan, David Gilbert||Mr, Groves and Mr. Duncan Graham.|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Lunn, William|
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again," put, and agreed to.—[Captain Margesson.]
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.1944
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.