HC Deb 16 March 1932 vol 263 cc291-421

The following Amendments stood upon the Order Paper:

In page 4, line 11, to leave out from the word "the," to the word "cereal," in line 14, and to insert instead thereof the words "first day of March in each."—[Mr. Turton.]

In line 11, to leave out from the word "the," to the word "cereal," in line 14, and to insert instead thereof the words "end of each month in each."—[Sir P. Harris.]


Will the first Amendment, which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) include the following Amendment that stands in my name and in the names of several of my hon. Friends? The words are almost the same, and they raise a principle which is very important.


I am afraid that when I have put the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), to leave out the words from the word "the" in line 11, to the word "cereal," in line 14, once the Committee has decided that those words shall stand part of the Clause, it will be impossible for the hon. Baronet to move his Amendment. Therefore, I think he had better raise his point on the Amendment to be moved by the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton. Both Amendments include the same question, namely, the leaving out of certain words.


I beg to move, in page 4 line 11, to leave out from the word "the," to the word "cereal," in line 14, and to insert instead thereof the words "first day of March in each."

This Amendment would not complicate the working of the Bill to any extent. Whilst I do not want to enter into the merits or demerits of the Amendment Which stands in the name of the hon. Baronet the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris), it seems to me that his Amendment would cause a great deal more complication in the working of the wheat quota scheme than would be caused by my Amendment. As our objects are the same, perhaps the hon. Baronet and his Liberal friends will consider the advisability of supporting my Amendment. I fear that the hon. Baronet may be in some danger of cumbering the working of the Bill and by so doing breaking what he is trying to embrace. My Amendment would achieve an important alteration. Under the Bill as it stands the farmer will receive as deficiency payment the difference between the guaranteed price and the average price reached throughout the whole year by farmers in different parts of the country. Whether it is a quantitative average price or not we do not know, but from what the Minister said on the Second Reading I think we may assume that it is a quantitative average price.

My Amendment is to limit the difference between the market price and the average price to wheat sold between the 1st August and the 1st March. The Minister will acknowledge that nine-tenths of the wheat in this country is sold between the 1st September and the 28th February, but under the Bill we have a delay in the ascertainment of the average price for four months in respect of nearly one-tenth of the whole quantity of wheat sold. The first object of the Amendment is to give an earlier assurance to the farmer of what he is going to receive for his wheat. He will know at the beginning of March what will be the average price of wheat for that year, instead of having to wait until some time in August or September—five months later. The question of assurance is of great importance to the farmer.

The great difficulty about the wheat quota is the delay that will be experienced by the farmer in learning what he has earned by the growing of his wheat. The question whether the anticipated supply exceeds or not the actual supply will not be determined until the August after the August which follows the sowing of the wheat, that is, two years later. Similarly, the expenses of the Wheat Commission, whatever they may be—I accept the Minister's statement that they are likely to be very small—will not be known by the August after the sowing of the wheat in respect of which they have been expended, but until two years later. In relation to the ascertainment of the average price a similar consideration will apply, unless the Minister accepts my Amendment. The average price will not be known until the August following the August after the wheat has been sown. I would like the Minister to weigh carefully the importance of assurance. I am not overstating the position when I say that the two things the agricultural industry requires most to-day are assurance and reassurance. That is what we failed to obtain during the office of the last Socialist Government, and it is that assurance and reassurance that we expect to obtain from the present Minister of Agriculture.

The second point which I should like the Minister to consider in connection with the Amendment is the price that will be obtained for wheat between the 1st March and the end of July. That price is not really the price normally compared with the value on the sale, but something more. The wheat has been kept from the harvesting in September and October until March, and that price contains therefore a certain amount which has to be added for interest on the money that the farmer has not, received during that time, and also for the cost of storage of the wheat. Not only is the price enhanced by the addition of an amount for storage and interest on the money but also because the wheat decreases in weight considerably between the time of harvesting and any time after the 1st March. There is a considerable difference between the price of 30s. per qr. in November and 30s. per qr. in March. A quarter of wheat in November is a great deal less than a quarter of wheat in March, and, as the farmer who receives 25s. or 30s. per qr. in November is going to be penalised as against the farmer who receives 30s. per qr. in March, I hope the Minister of Agriculture will give some attention to the Amendment, and, if possible, accept it. If he does so, it will make the wheat quota scheme much simpler. Everyone who wishes well to the wheat quota scheme prays every night that it will be made simpler. If the Amendment is accepted, it will give some assurance to farmers that they will receive a quota payment which will be more truly representative of the actual price of wheat at that date and at the later date. For these reasons, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will do what he can to meet the wishes of a great many farmers in the Ridings of Yorkshire.


The hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) has said that farmers pray every night that this Bill will be made simpler.


I did not say the farmers.


I am going to suggest that there are many farmers and millers who pray every night that it will be made more just—and that it is the purpose of the Amendment I have put on the Order Paper. It may be said: What do I know about agriculture. [Interruption.] I guessed that that was in the minds of some hon. Members. There is not much green about Bethnal Green, but as they have elected me every time it does not suggest that the electors are green. It may surprise some hon. Members to know that for some years I sat for an agricultural constituency. I put down my Amendment at the request of a number of small farmers and millers. It is an attempt to make the Bill more workable and more just in the distribution of the bonus. I understand that the Minister of Agriculture did, in fact, consider the alternative suggested in my proposal. Under the present scheme the average price of wheat is calculated over the whole year. I am suggesting that it should be struck each month. That is what a good many small farmers and millers desire. It does not need any great study to see that the distribution of the bonus would be much fairer if it was worked out on a monthly average.

I have worked it out for a calendar year—not the wheat year. Take 1931. The average of that year would be 25s. 6d. for every quarter of millable wheat, and if the machinery of this Bill had been operating, if the bonus system had been in existence, the deficiency to be paid to the growers of millable wheat would have been about 19s. 6d. per quarter. In 1931 the price varied considerably, from 21s. 4½d. to 30s. 4½d.—a difference of 9s. Under the Bill the man who received 21s. 4½d. for the wheat actually sold would under the proposed bonus system get 40s. 10d., but the man who sold his wheat at 30s. 4½d. would get 49s. 4½d. The First Commissioner of Works argued that this was a very desirable thing, and the Minister of Agriculture contended that it would encourage farmers to grow the best quality wheat. I am assured that in practice very different forces are operating. The Corn Trade Association admit that the monthly average would work out fairly in practice. It may be argued that if farmers are assured of 45s. per quarter there will be a tendency to sell earlier, but anyone who has any practical experience of farming will know that there are many things which operate in order to bring about the exact moment at which farmers consider it desirable to dispose of their wheat. There is the question of threshing for the straw; and small farmers very often desire to have ready cash. The large farmer can wait for his money, but the small farmer who lives from hand to mouth and who may have a mortgage on his farm must realise as soon as possible in order to get cash.

Viscount WOLMER

And sometimes the rats get at it.


That is an incentive not to hold back wheat, and it strengthens my case for earlier sales. Last year, 1931, farmers were able to face rats, financial and otherwise, and were able to get better prices for their wheat. I am not pretending that I am an authority on this matter. I am putting the case on behalf of people who have strong interests in this matter, and I think the Minister should consider whether it would not be more just to have a monthly average. There is the question as to the clerical work involved; whether it is not simpler to have one yearly payment. There is no suggestion in my proposal that the bonus should be paid except at the end of the year. I am credibly informed that on the whole it would be easier to keep accounts and to operate the Bill if the monthly average were adhered to and if the particulars of these transactions were returned each month—in other words if you dealt with these transactions over a series of months instead of on a yearly average. I think it is arguable that, on the whole, less clerical work, less organisation and a smaller staff would be involved in operating the scheme on a monthly than on a yearly average. However, I do not press that point. We know that whatever happens a lot of organisation will be involved. This big powerful cumbersome machine cannot be worked without a large staff and a lot of hook-keeping. If we are setting up a machine of this kind in order to spread our benefactions among the agricultural community, does it not seem reasonable and fair that we should pay as much attention to the small farmer as to the big farmer? If we are going to make these demands on flour millers and other sections in order to help the wheat-grower then we ought to be sure that the money distributed will go where the need is greatest.

The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Sir John Gilmour)

The first of these two Amendments which I understand we are discussing together seeks to make the Minister determine the average market price in each cereal year on the sales of wheat between 1st August and 1st March. It is true that a good portion of the wheat crop is sold in that period, but of course there is a considerable proportion sold after that period, and frankly I think it. would be unwise to tie the Minister down to that period. What happens? It is clear a certain part of the wheat sold later in the year does command a higher market price than that sold in the earlier parts of the year. If this wheat were not taken into account in fixing the market price for the season, the practical effect would be to make the season's market price lower than it would otherwise be. One of the obvious results of that would be a further call upon the payments which would have to be made on the flour. I think that statement more or less accurately describes what would happen in that particular case.

The other Amendment refers to monthly calculations. Of course, all the various possibilities of dealing with this problem have been fully discussed in the conferences which have taken place. The hon. Member for South West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) explained very properly that he had put down the Amendment on behalf of certain interests who wished to have an explanation. It is obvious that to have to operate machinery of the kind suggested would immensely complicate the problems which lie before the Wheat Commission. There is another aspect of the question to which I attach considerable importance. We want to ensure that we shall retain every incentive to better cultivation and to the better presentation for sale of the parcels of wheat which are brought to market. If the system suggested in this Amendment were adopted, a great part of the incentive to better production and better marketing would be swept away. For these reasons and for the over-riding reason which I mentioned in the first instance, I am unable to accept the Amendment.


I hope that the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) will not press his Amendment, to which I am opposed for a reason which is the opposite of that given by the Minister. The Minister based his case on the assumption that it would increase the total amount of liability and therefore tend to add to the quota price charged on each sack of flour. His argument was on the assumption that the distribution of sales over the year would be unaffected by the change if it were made. Generally speaking, the price realised after 1st March, other things being equal, is higher than the price realised before 1st March. Accordingly, realising that, everybody would say, "Let us hold back until after 1st March because we shall have a deficiency payment based on the deficiency between the standard price and the average price up to 1st March." Therefore, there would be a general hold-back, the amount of British wheat offered on the market would be diminished, and a higher average price would prevail in the earlier part of the year. That would have the effect of reducing the deficiency payment, and, therefore, all the people who sold after 1st March would do worse than they are doing to-day. That argument, as I say, is quite contrary to the Minister's argument. We are both speculating on what human beings may do in particular circumstances and neither of us can say positively who is right, but, if I am right, then it is the farmer who is going to suffer under this arrangement, and I hope accordingly that the hon. Member will withdraw his Amendment.


We on thin side find ourselves for once in agreement with the Minister, without either agreeing or disagreeing with the argument of the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams). We think that it would be unwise to divide up the year for the purpose of determining the price. As human frailties would enter into the scheme of things if the year were divided in the way suggested, we think that it would tend to dislocate the Minister's series of anticipations. I would like to say, however, that I am rather surprised to hear the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) talk about the colossal proportion of wheat sold from the farms during any period of the year. I think he spoke about 90 per cent. from the farms being sold between September and the end of February. I do not know to what he refers. In fact, only a modest proportion of wheat is sold at all from the farms during the 12 months. Perhaps the hon. Member is not aware of the decline in sales from farms. For the whole cereal year 1930 less than 25 per cent. of the total wheat grown in this country was sold off the farms. Instead of the 90 per cent. referred to by the hon. Member an having been sold between the commencement of the cereal year and the end of February, we find that for the first 27 weeks of the present cereal year only one-tenth of the total produce was sold from the farms in this country.


What I said was that 90 per cent. of the wheat sold as from the farms—that is under this Bill—was sold in that period.

4.0 p.m.


Unless the Bill is going to create a revolution in methods of selling one must realise that a very small proportion will be sold in that way. Perhaps it would be as well if I gave the figures. The produce for the present cereal year was estimated to be 20,230,000 cwts., while the sales from the farms were 2,247,000 cwts. in 27 weeks. Therefore, the arguments of the hon. Gentleman with regard to the rapidity with which sales take place are not borne out by the facts. We are convinced that if the right hon. Gentleman accepted this Amendment, it would dislocate the whole intention of the Clause, with which we do not agree, but, at least, we appreciate that the better the machinery the less dislocation is likely to take place.


I am very glad that the Minister is not going to accept the Amendment put forward by the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris). I do not feel at all sure that it would benefit the very people whom it sets out to benefit, namely, the small people who sell most of their wheat in the autumn. I do not know, either, that the price then as compared with the average price of the year would be really an advantage to them. The Minister did not give very much encouragement to the idea put forward by the hon. Baronet that it would not cost any more. I am inclined to think that it might cost a very great deal more, and we have got to remember that the farmer has to pay the cost. If the cost of working this Measure is increased it will reduce the 45s. and the amount of deficiency payment. I think that that argument alone is quite sufficient to meet the Amendment which was proposed by the hon. Baronet, and, therefore, I am very pleased that the Minister is not going to accept it.


In view of what the Minister has said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move, in page 4, line 16, after the word "average," to insert the word "area."

There is a consequential Amendment later on the Order Paper, also in my name, and if my proposal were carried, the Clause would read: the Minister shall, after consultation with the Wheat Commission, by order prescribe the price which he determines to have been the average area price obtained by registered growers in the specified areas of the United Kingdom. Everybody knows, of course, that prices paid for wheat vary very considerably at different times of the year, and for a great many different reasons. The quality is the chief determining factor, but there are all sorts of other reasons which enter into it—distance from or proximity to a mill, the demand for a particular variety of wheat and the particular period of the year in which the sale is effected. If one turns to the trade papers at the present moment, or the files of the "Times" on Wednesdays and Saturdays, when the current market rates are quoted, we find that to-day the prices vary from 25s. or 26s. for wheat of millable quality to 29s., 30s. and even 32s. That is necessarily so, because, of course, the quality varies very largely according to the district in which the wheat is grown, and I suppose that the quality, and therefore the price, depends more, or quite as much, upon the area and the soil as upon the farmer and careful cultivation.

The highest price obtainable for homegrown wheat is that obtained for yeoman wheat, which, for the most part, is now produced for the purpose of milling the National Mark flour. That particular wheat commands a figure several shillings a quarter higher than that which can be obtained, say, for squareheads' master which, of course, as everyone knows, is inferior. But you cannot possibly grow yeoman wheat anywhere and everywhere; it is very particular as to the nature of the soil in which it is grown. I suppose it is true to say that there are plenty of districts in this country where it would not grow at all, however skilful the cultivator, and the soil of a great many areas, even when highly scientific methods are employed, will not yield anything except a wheat of quite inferior quality for milling purposes, and will yield only a flour that is weak, moist and deficient in proteids, and so on, and necessarily, therefore, has a lower market value. But in those districts the farmer, of course, will obtain for his product a lower price, and it will not be his fault. Farm he never so skilfully, he will not obtain the price for his wheat that a farmer in a more advantageously situated area will obtain.

The Bill purports, as I understood from the introductory speech of the right hon. Gentleman, to encourage cereal farming, and to give every farmer an equal security, or approximately equal security, and equal inducement to grow millable wheat. Then why should the man who happens to be tilling one particular class of soil get a disproportionate reward as compared with the man who is tilling another type of soil? If you take the average nationally in order to determine the amount of subsidy which any given farmer is to receive, it will mean that certain farmers, through no fault of their own, whose methods are quite as efficient as, and perhaps even more efficient than, farmers in another area, they will receive a much greater reward than their colleagues. We suggest that that is inequitable, and will certainly not make for that contentment in the countryside at which the right hon. Gentleman is aiming. I am quite aware that the nature of the soil varies not merely as between area and area, and district and district, but, of course, even between field and field and acre and acre. The First Commissioner of Works knows that you may be able to grow admirable crops on one slope in the countryside, and yet on the other side of the slope you can grow scarcely anything. Broadly speaking, these differences will be reduced to a minimum if you will take a specified area as your unit, instead of the national area.

Given normal and efficient farming, there are certain districts which can be classified from the wheat value point of view. You can even denominate them by a percentage figure. One area is 100 per cent., another 75 per cent., another 50 per cent., another 20 per cent. and so on, but, in any case, our Amendment asks that the average price on which the subsidy depends should be based on specific areas, and not on the country as a whole. If the plan in the Bill as it stands becomes law, it will mean that in some districts, for example, parts of Lincolnshire, Essex and so on, will secure a higher total reward, not because, as I said just now, their farmers are better, more skilful or more scientific, but merely because they happen to be cultivating a different soil. The remuneration under the Bill, if the present scheme remains, will bear no necessary relation to the capacity or the scientific methods of the farming. Under this Bill, some farmers may make tremendous profits, some may make moderate profits and some, even though first-class agriculturists, will make no profits at all on their wheat farming, and may even continue to make losses.

I noticed in last Sunday's "Observer" that Mr. Garvin, who is a very staunch but very discriminating supporter of the present Government, remarked that as a result of this Bill there will be "grotesque inequalities of profit as between individual growers," and he went on to say that if this sort of thing remained, "the game will not prove worth the candle." I am bound to say that I agree that the disproportionate amount of profit which some people will make, under the Bill as it stands, is unreasonable and unfair, and I agree also that the Amendment, by itself and of itself, will not be sufficient to remedy or to equalise those inequalities. But it will do something in that direction. It will help to rationalise the Bill, and make it less unjust as between farmer and farmer, and area and area. There is, for example, the area where yeoman wheat can be cultivated. If our Amendment is accepted and the subsidy is based on area rather than on the average for the whole country, then the farmer who cultivates yeoman wheat will get a higher price for his product in the local free market, but he will get a smaller subsidy. In the same way, the man whose land cannot grow yeoman wheat, but can grow wheat of a good millable quality, though not first-rate wheat, will get a lower market price but a higher subsidy. In that way you will equalise these differences which, we suggest, are a blot on the Bill, even from the Government's own point of view.

According to the report of the Agricultural Economic Research Department at Oxford, the better situated farmers, while thoroughly efficient, may find at the present time that the actual cost of production of wheat is only about 4s. per quarter above the current marketable price. They also report that there are other farmers equally efficient, whose farms, perhaps, are not so completely mechanised because of the nature of their farms, owing to undulations and so on, whose deficiency above the world price is as much as 12s. per quarter at the present time. On the one hand, the man whose costs of production are 4s. above the world price, if the subsidy amounts to 10s., will make a profit of about 10s. a quarter, whereas the other man, an equally good farmer and maybe an even better farmer, will continue to make a loss as heretofore—not such a big loss, but still a loss. You can divide the country into prosperous areas, where the farmers get satisfactory or even excessive remuneration, and other areas, where they will be depressed and ill-rewarded, as they have been ill-rewarded, and we suggest that if you take a specified area average instead of the national average, these differences will, as it were, be ironed out to a large extent, and you will get a much juster distribution of the subsidy.

There is one other argument, which I do not suppose will appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, but it does appeal to many of us on this side. If you study the writings of any economist, from Adam Smith and Ricardo down to the very latest doctrinaires, while many of them disagree on many matters, they all agree that the profits of the cultivation of agricultural land which are dependent on superiority of soil go to the landlord as rent and not into the pockets of the cultivator, ultimately. Every economist agrees on that point, and if this Bill is a Bill for the subsidisation of landlords, well and good, leave it as it is, on the national average, but if it is for the benefit of the farmer and the cultivator as such, then calculate the average on the area rather than on the whole of the countryside.


I wish to support the Amendment. This Bill is for the purpose, we are told, of putting the farmer in this country on something like an equality with farmers in other parts of the world. It is said that our farmers cannot compete successfully with those of other countries because of the better natural conditions for growing wheat in those other countries, and, therefore, in order to give our farmers a chance, we should subsidise them. If that argument is sound, that a certain part of the world can grow its wheat better owing to superior climatic conditions, what reason is there against our subdividing this country so that the conditions here may not vary in certain parts? If one part of the country gets better climatic conditions than another, that other part ought to get the same advantage.

There is another argument which I have heard used in this House, about the different conditions obtaining in different parts of the world. Sir Martin Conway, speaking at one time in this House, said, I believe, that there were four places on earth that he called about the most ideal places for persons to live in. One of those places was in the South of England, and the other three, I believe, were in a part of New Zealand, a part of Canada adjoining the United States, and a part of Japan. Taking this country, if we have one part which is an ideal spot for a man to live in, it may be possible that we have in this country certain parts where it is much better to grow wheat than in other parts, and if this Bill is meant to give fair conditions to the person who is doing his best to produce, there can be nothing to he said against the argument put forward by my hon. Friend in his Amendment. We are trying to improve this Bill, if we can. There may be arguments against it, as I have heard mentioned by an hon. Member behind me in the course of conversation, to the effect that it might cause people to grow wheat on land that is not suitable for it, but we want to give equal opportunities, and I think there is a good case for taking areas instead of the whole country.

We know that in mining the conditions vary, and we say that the miner in any part of the country is entitled to the same wage as the miner in any other part of the country. Because the coal seams are thicker in one part, it does not mean that the miner is working any harder than the man who is working in a, thin seam. We have never yet got the people of this country to accept that point of view, but it is sound logic from the Socialist point of view, and therefore we are trying to prevail on the House of Commons on the lines of the Socialist ideal, that if a man has given of his best, he should not be deprived of the same advantage because Nature has not been kind to that part of the world. We say that you should give him what he is entitled to because of the labour that he has put into his work, and that is why I support the Amendment.


The hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker), who has just sat down, said that his ideal is to remove inequalities. The fact is that geology in this country is fundamentally unjust, and nothing that this House of Commons can do can make a heavy clay into a light loam or sand. It simply cannot be done. We have to accept the world, not as if it was created as an ideal Socialist world of equality, but with the inherent and fundamental inequalities which God has given us and from which we cannot escape. The Mover of the Amendment imagines that it is practicable to delimit this country into areas where the conditions will be the same, but it is quite impossible. I remember going with my Noble Friend the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer), on his farm in Hampshire, and seeing there very different varieties of the soil, even on that one farm. There was one heavy clay field at the bottom of the valley, which was identical with the type of land you find in Essex, or with which I am familiar in parts of the Ouse Valley, or in parts of Norfolk, and of the East Riding of Yorkshire.

You get inequalities all over the country. In almost every county, you have a series of geological lines, of varying widths, crossing the county boundaries, and the attempt to carry out this Bill on the basis of delimiting areas is utterly and absolutely impracticable. If this Amendment were carried, it would remove one of the most valuable features of the Bill, namely, the incentive which is given to each farmer to get the best possible market price for his individual parcel of wheat, and it would tend to discourage the adoption of the best technique, not so much in production, but in marketing. I thought the whole House agreed that that was the most important feature to keep in the Bill, but in the Socialist attempt to make all things equal, the only thing we should do would be to do away with the very incentive—


The right hon. Gentleman should not misrepresent me. I said that where a man is willing to give of his best, he should be entitled to equality of treatment.


It is a case of doing your best on two different types of soil. You might work at harvest time in one part of England where it rains heavily and in another part where there is bright sunshine, and you cannot re- dress that inequality. It is impracticable, in an Act of Parliament, and the hon. Member knows it. You can give of your best in both cases, but the results will be different owing to outside circumstances which man cannot control. The Amendment would remove that free incentive to better marketing, and would destroy one of the fundamental principles of the Bill, namely, to ensure that there should be a variation in price between greater efficiency and less efficiency. For these reasons, the Government regard his Amendment as quite out of the question.


The right hon. Gentleman has given us a new interpretation of geology and has ignored the fundamental fact that this country is the most fortunate of all countries in having, for its size, a greater variety of geological features than any other country in the world. The great advantage that we possess here is that we have all these geological formations and all kinds of surfaces. The right hon. Gentleman not only deduced the wrong lesson from his geological data, but I am afraid that his political dissertation suffered also, and I would invite him closely to inquire into his theological interpretation. It is no use blaming the divine Being for the variety of conditions in this country; and the right hon. Gentleman is not consistent, because in this Bill the Government are trying to level up a variety of conditions compared with other countries in the world, whose geological conditions are different and whose climatic conditions are different too. It is not only a question of geology or of climate; it is a question of transport, a question of skill, a question of mechanisation and of the blessed word "rationalisation." All these questions are involved in this Amendment.

The right hon. Gentleman really has not met the case put up so well by my hon. Friend the Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) and my hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) in his very practical approach to this question. After all, there is to be a deficiency payment which will vary considerably as between person and person. Consequently, the farmer who will have done his work to the best of his ability, exercised all his skill, and expended his capital in the improvement of his cultivation will take his certificate to the corporation and say that he has received 25s. for his wheat, and he will in that case receive 20s. per qr. as a subsidy from the Wheat Commission. Another farmer, with equal skill and industry, will have sold his wheat at 27s., and he will get only 18s. as a subsidy. But the right hon. Gentleman and those who sit with him, and who have devised this scheme, have made it quite certain that under the Bill, up to a figure of 45s. per qr., every farmer will receive the same perfect equality. They are the equalitarians, not we on this side. It is the Conservative party who are the Bolshevists, the people who want to bring universality And uniformity into everything that is done.

4.30 p.m.

We, on this side, think there is a case for the taking of district by district, because one finds, in reading the reports of the wheat markets, that in certain parts there will be a price which bears a certain proportion to the world price, and then one will go, say, to Norwich and find that that price bears a different proportion to the world price, and if he goes farther North, he will find that there is constant variation in prices between the different centres in this country. Rents have been mentioned. Are those who claim to represent the farmers going to allow this subsidy to be paid in every district of this country with the certain knowledge that the inexorable law of rents will give the landlord a large or small proportion of the subsidy given to the farmer according to the conditions prevailing in the district where the land is cultivated? We on this side believe that a case has been made out for a, variation of the price, not as between farmer and farmer, or county and county, but as between area and area; that at least eight or ten separate areas where there is a constant disparity in prices should be formed; that those areas should be taken separately, and the amount of deficiency payment in each should be assessed on the prices paid within each in order that every farmer in the country should be given, as near as could be calculated, the same measure of assistance, and in order that none of this money which is to be provided by the consumers should be given to add to land values and make the landlord rich without benefiting the farmers or the agricultural workers.


I cannot refrain from adding a word in regard to the landlords. Of course, the rent naturally varies according to the goodness and richness and productivity of the soil. Therefore, it is quite ineffective to seek to interfere in that direction. I should like to refer also to what has been said by the hon. Members for Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) and Leigh (Mr. Tinker) with regard to what Providence has arranged in differences of soil, and to point out to the hon. Members that Providence has endowed those who till the soil with brain power. It is, therefore, up to the man who has the soil to make the best possible use of it. That is, of course, entirely different from the case of the coal miner. If hon. Members will bear these things in mind, it may modify their views.


The hon. Member for Horncastle (Mr. Haslam) knows as much about coal mining as many Members on this side are accused of knowing about agriculture. The last remark which he has made would not be received with acclamation by either owners, or managers, or workers in coal mines. He said that it is known that the rent varies on farms with the productivity of the soil. I naturally agree with that proposition. The hon. Member will also agree with the proposition that it depends on the law of supply and demand; that the more people want a farm, the higher the rent, and the fewer the people, the lower the rent. If you guarantee a very large price for the products of the soil of farms you will get a greater demand for the farms, and therefore a rise in rent. If you take farms in a district where wheat can be grown which will fetch above the average price, and will, therefore, always get, with the subsidy, a higher price than 45s., you will tend inevitably to create a greater demand for the farms in that district, and therefore rents will go up. I think that the hon. Member will agree that that is an ordinary economic law which no one can defeat, however much he may try.

The proposition of the First Commissioner of Works seems to be, as far as I can understand it, that the part is greater than the whole. He agrees that there are large diversities in the charac- ter of land in the country, and that owing to those diversities some farmers will be put into a more or less advantageous position, which per se is undesirable because he wants them to be put into a position of advantage or disadvantage not, because of the nature of the land they work, but because of the marketing they do or of the villages they perform. He wants them to be rewarded according to their own efforts. I venture to suggest that the differences between types of land in a particular part of this country are less than the differences in the whole of the country. [An HON. MEMBER: "No!"] An hon. Member says "No." It seems to me to be an extraordinary proposition that if you take one part of the country you will find more differences than if you take the whole country. That is, as I have suggested, the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, that the part is greater than the whole. I do not think that that is sound scientifically, or that the right hon. Gentleman thinks it is.

If he agrees with that, clearly you will get nearer to your desiderata of eliminating this factor of difference of soil by taking areas rather than the whole country. You will get a truer reflection of the reward which you want to give for the labour and skill of the farmer irrespective of the site of the land. For instance, take the Eastern Counties and compare them with the Thames Valley. Wheat is grown in both areas, but in differences in type of soil there is obviously some range in the Eastern Counties and some range in the Thames Valley, but the Bill will make the Eastern Counties and the Thames Valley uniform. Take the case of Scotland. You are going to bring Scotland in with the

East Coast and the south of England, which is not fair to Scotland. If you adopt the suggestion which we put forward, you can treat Scotland as an area for wheat-growing and fix a price for Scotland. As it is, of course, it is one of the rare cases in which the generosity of the Scot will be compelled to be shown to the Englishman, because the Scot will buy the bread, but the Englishman will grow the wheat. The Secretary of State for Scotland will find that he has let the Scottish consumer in for subsidising the English farmer.

I am sure that he would like to try and rectify that by making Scotland an area for wheat growing so that the Scottish prices, which very often vary very considerably from the prices, for instance, in the eastern markets of England, will be taken as area prices, and the difference between them and the guaranteed price will be fairly paid to the Scottish farmer and not because of some equalisation over the whole country. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that, if he wants as far as possible to reflect a true reward for the energy and skill of the farmer, he will get a better criterion if he takes areas than if he takes the farmers over the whole country. There are undoubtedly differences in soil and climate in the different areas, especially on the two sides of England, and by taking these separately you will get la fairer criterion of the actual reward. We therefore press the right hon. Gentleman to consider this Amendment as a valuable addition to the Bill.

Question put, "That the word 'area' be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 35; Noes, 291.

Division No. 107.] AYES. [4.40 p.m.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Groves, Thomas E. Price, Gabriel
Attlee, Clement Richard Grundy, Thomas W. Salter, Dr. Alfred
Batey, Joseph Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Thorne, William James
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Tinker, John Joseph
Buchanan, George Hirst, George Henry Wallhead, Richard C.
Cape, Thomas Jenkins, Sir William Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David
Cripps, Sir Stafford Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Daggar, George Kirkwood, David Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lawson, John James Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Edwards, Charles Leonard, William
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Logan. David Gilbert TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) McEntee, Valentine L. Mr. Gordon Macdonald and Mr.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Parkinson, John Allen John.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Albery, Irving James Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nhd.) Anstruther-Gray, W. J.
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.
Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton) Ganzoni, Sir John Martin, Thomas B.
Bailey, Eric Alfred George Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Millar, Sir James Duncan
Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Gledhill, Gilbert Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Balniel, Lord Glossop, C. W. H. Milne, Charles
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Gluckstein, Louis Halle Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey Goldie, Noel B. Mitcheson, G. G.
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Molson, A. Hugh Eisdale
Beaumont, Hn. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.) Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.
Bernays, Robert Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)
Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B. Greene, William p. C. Moss, Captain H. J.
Boothby, Robert John Graham Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Muirhead, Major A. J.
Boulton, W. W. Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro',W.) Munro, Patrick
Bower, Lieut. Com. Robert Tatton Grimston, R. V. Nation, Brigadier-General J. J, H.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)
Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorke, E.R.) Gunston, Captain D. W. Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Guy, J, C. Morrison Normand, Wilfrid Guild
Briant, Frank Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. North, Captain Edward T.
Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Hales, Harold K. Nunn, William
Broadbent, Colonel John Hanley, Dennis A. O'Connor, Terence James
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Harris, Sir Percy O'Donovan, Dr. William James
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks.,Newb'y) Hartland, George A. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Browne, Captain A. C. Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenn'gt'n) Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.
Buchan, John Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle) Pearson, William G.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Peat, Charles U.
Burghley, Lord Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Petherick, M.
Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsf'd) Peto, Sir Basil E.(Devon, Barnstaple)
Burnett, John George Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Pickering, Ernest H.
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Pike, Cecil F.
Caine, G. R. Hall- Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.
Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Holdsworth, Herbert Pybus, Percy John
Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley) Hope, Capt. Arthur O. J. (Aston) Raikes, Henry V. A. M.
Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge) Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Hopkinson, Austin Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)
Carver, Major William H. Hornby, Frank Ramsbotham, Herwald
Castle Stewart, Earl Horobin, Ian M. Ratcliffe, Arthur
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Horsbrugh, Florence Rea, Walter Russell
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Howard, Tom Forrest Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Chalmers, John Rutherford Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Edgbaston) Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Remer, John R.
Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.) Hurd, Percy A. Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.
Chotzner, Alfred James Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip
Christie, James Archibald Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Clarke, Frank Iveagh, Countess of Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Clarry, Reginald George James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Robinson, John Roland
Clayton, Dr. George C. Jesson, Major Thomas E. Rosbotham, S. T.
Colfox, Major William Philip Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Ross, Ronald D.
Colville, John Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan) Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Conant, R. J. E. Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Rothschild, James A. de
Cook, Thomas A. Ker, J. Campbell Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.
Cooper, A. Duff Kerr, Hamilton W. Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Copeland, Ida Kimball, Lawrence Runge, Norah Cecil
Courthope, Colonel Sir George L. Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R. Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield,B'tside)
Craven-Ellis, William Knight, Holford Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Salmon. Major Isidore
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Law, Sir Alfred Salt, Edward W.
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.) Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Cross, R. H. Lees-Jones, John Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Crossley, A. C. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard
Dalkeith, Earl of Levy, Thomas Scone, Lord
Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Lewis, Oswald Selley, Harry R.
Davison, Sir William Henry Liddall, Walter S. Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Dawson, Sir Philip Lindsay, Noel Ker Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Denman, Hon. R D. Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe Simmonds, Oliver Edwin
Drewe, Cedric Llewellin, Major John J. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Duckworth, George A. V. Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A.(C'thness)
Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel Lloyd, Geoffrey Skelton, Archibald Noel
Duggan, Hubert John Locker-Lampson,Rt. Hn. G. (Wd.Gr'n) Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Loder, Captain J. de Vere Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Eady, George H. Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Eastwood, John Francis Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Eden, Robert Anthony Lyons, Abraham Montagu Smithers, Waldron
Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E. MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick) Somerset, Thomas
Elliston, Captain George Sampson McConnell, Sir Joseph Somervell, Donald Bradley
Emrys-Evans, P. V. McCorquodale, M. S. Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.
Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.) McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Everard, W. Lindsay McKie, John Hamilton Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
Falle, Sir Bertram G. Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton Stones, James
Fermoy, Lord McLean, Major Alan Strauss, Edward A.
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Strickland, Captain W. F.
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Fox. Sir Gifford Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Fuller, Captain A. G. Marsden, Commander Arthur Summersby, Charles H.
Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n.S.) Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend) Wills, Wilfrid D.
Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby) Warrender, Sir Victor A. G. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford) Waterhouse, Captain Charles Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles Watt, Captain George Steven H. Womersley, Walter James
Titchfield, Major the Marquess of Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour- Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley
Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.) Wells, Sydney Richard Worthington, Dr. John V.
Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement Weymouth, Viscount Wragg, Herbert
Turton, Robert Hugh Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey) Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull) Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.) Sir George Penny and Captain
Austin Hudson.

I beg to move, in page 4, line 16, after the word "price," to insert the words: calculated upon a quantitative basis. If the Amendment were inserted the Sub-section would read: ….. the Minister shall, after consultation with the Wheat Commission, by order prescribe the price which he determines to have been the average price, calculated upon a quantitative basis, obtained by registered growers throughout the United Kingdom. …. The purpose of the Amendment is to make it perfectly clear that the average price shall be calculated upon the quantity of wheat that is actually sold at, that price. I do not suggest, nor would I dare to presume, that my Amendment is the only or even the best way of meeting the point that I wish to meet. I have been led to understand, and I hope correctly, that the principle of the Amendment may be accepted by the Minister, but I understand also that the opinion is held that the words of the Clause already convey the meaning that I desire the Amendment to convey. I respectfully submit that the words of the Clause, particularly to a man of my rural intelligence, are somewhat in doubt. My Amendment is moved for the one purpose of clearing up that doubt. The average price and the manner by which that average price is calculated are very material matters to the wheat producer, for at the end of the cereal year the fanner will receive a deficiency payment, which will represent the difference between the average price and the standard price of 45s. in the Bill. The higher the calculated average price is, the less will the farmer receive for his produce. It is, therefore, clear that the farmer is materially concerned that the average price shall be kept at a fair level.

What the farmer wants is that the average price shall be the price at which he himself sells his wheat during the whole of the year. It has already been stated this afternoon that a large proportion of British wheat goes on the market in the early parts of the cereal year, during the autumn and early winter. Some 50 per cent. of British wheat is sold before Christmas, and 75 per cent. is sold before March. Why does the farmer sell the bulk of his wheat at these times? Unfortunately the farmer of to-day has not too much money, and in the early autumn he has to meet his harvesting expenses and his Michaelmas rent. Therefore it is often essential that he should thresh his wheat at the earliest possible moment in order to meet these costs. Early threshing reduces the cost. Hon. Members opposite have been rather fond of talking of the inefficiency of the British agriculturist, and have said that he should be able to produce his corn and other foodstuffs at a lower cost. It is cheaper for a farmer to thresh his corn early, and stacking and thatching are then cheaper. Financially the farmer's interest is to thresh his corn from the field itself.

Hon. Members opposite often ask, too, why does not the British farmer go in for further mechanisation? And they point to the machines used in Canada and elsewhere, which cut and thresh the corn at the same time. If those principles were applicable to British agriculture—I do not think they are—the result would be still earlier delivery of wheat. There is a third reason why the farmer sells his wheat early. That is the damage that is done by vermin, rats and mice, in stacks of corn. As soon as the corn is put into stacks the rats and the mice get there, and they rapidly increase. By the month of April or May they have been known to consume half the wheat left in a stack. Therefore the farmer cannot keep his wheat in the stack until the later months of the summer. The result of all this is that during the autumn and early winter there is a surplus of British wheat on the market, more than the market requires. The price is depressed below the world average price. I have known it to go down nearly to a figure of 10s. below the world average price.

But quite the reverse takes place in the later summer months. There is little or no British wheat for sale, and the demand for it, for the making of biscuits and so on, in which British wheat is essential, is very constant. The supply is limited, with the result that the price of wheat in those later months rises to as much as 10 per cent. above the normal average world price. The farmer cannot take advantage of that high price; he cannot hold his wheat until June or July. I oppose absolutely the statement of the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) that the farmer would hold his wheat from the market. The farmer cannot hold it till June or July. The climate will not allow it to be stacked, and the vermin would eat it. Therefore the farmer must put it on the market. If equal weight is to be given to the small quantity that is sold at the high price during the summer months and to the large quantity sold during the autumn months, the average price of wheat for the year will be unduly high.

I would like to make this point absolutely clear. If there are 3,000,000 or 2,000,000 quarters of wheat sold during the autumn months at a low figure, and only 2,000,000 quarters sold during the late spring or summer months at a high figure, and if the average of the two figures is taken, it will not be just to the British farmer. If the British farmer sells 2,000 quarters of wheat in September at 25s. a quarter, and sells 200 quarters in July at 35s., his average sale price is not 30s., the average between 25 and 35, but the average is 25s. 6d. The purpose of the Amendment is to see that the quantitative basis is accepted, that the average price shall depend on the quantity that is sold at that price. I ask that the principle of the Amendment should be considered by the Minister, and I hope that he will accept it.

5.0 p.m.


This Amendment is designed to make it clear that the deficiency figure will be arrived at on the fairest possible basis. If the average sale price of the farmers' wheat is arrived at by taking the price week by week or month by month with no regard to the quantity which is sold at any particular price, a very unfair average will result. In an ordinary year it is true to say that the great bulk of the home-grown crop is sold in the first part of the cereal year, that is, just after harvest, with the consequence that the price is then abnormally low. The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) said that this had not been the case during the past two years, and I agree with him that the past two years have not been ordinary years; they have been very abnormal years. For two reasons in particular the price of wheat has not followed the ordinary rules. One is that the world price has fallen so much that the farmer has been exhausting the remainder of his capital in trying to hold up his crop in the hope of selling it at a figure which will pay for the cost of growing, and the other reason is that in many cases the farmers were so much misguided as to expect that the late Socialist Government would do something to make wheat growing pay. At the other end of the cereal year there is a comparatively small quantity of wheat left to sell, and as the demand from the biscuit makers and others is still there the price rises considerably.

Unless quantity is taken into account in assessing the average price we may easily see in the future 5,000,000 qrs., possibly, being sold in the first nine months of the cereal year at an average price of 30s., and perhaps 500,000 qrs. sold in the last three months at an average price of 40s. The majority of the farmers would need 15s. a qr. to bring their money up to the standard price, but in the case of the comparatively small quantities sold at the higher price they would receive only some 12s. 6d. If I may use a simile to make my point clearer, their case would be not unlike that of a man who draws a starter in the Irish Sweepstake and sells half the interest in his ticket for £1,000, and, finding as time goes on that the chances of his horse are more fancied, sells the other two quarters for £1,000 each; and then, if the horse wins, it were said by the purchasers of the quarter shares in his ticket: "We are taking no account of the fact that it is a quarter of your ticket we bought, we are taking account only of the price we gave for it—in each case it was £1,000—and, therefore, we will divide all the profits in the proportion of a third to each." If that were to happen, I think the gentleman would probably visit the totalisator next time; and, in the same way, if no account were taken of the quantity of wheat sold the farmer would feel that he had not had a fair deal.

It is very easy to theorise and to say that the supply of wheat must be sold evenly throughout the year, but we are not dealing with a theoretical case, but with practical things, and I am certain that in the coming year it will be absolutely impossible for the majority of the farmers to hold up their crop and sell it at the back end of the year; for, apart from the disadvantages which would arise through loss of weight and the depredations of vermin if they were to keep it, most of them have already exhausted their capital and their credit. Weekly wages and harvest money have to be paid, and the money can only be found by selling their crops. If this Amendment were accepted a man who sold at over and above the average price, either through having good wheat or by better marketing, would get a greater reward without so much penalising of those who are forced to sell their crop earlier, and it would tend very much to make the sellers, as they became better able to do so, sell their crops more evenly over the year, resulting in a greater stability of prices.

Surely it would be simple to devise some scheme for arriving at the average on a quantitative basis. One could multiply the quarters sold each week by the average price at which they were sold, add those figures together at the end of the year, and divide the result by the number of quarters sold, and that would give a much fairer figure as the average price. The greater fairness to be achieved is a strong point in favour of the Amendment, and when there is added to it the advantage of encouraging the farming industry and better marketing I trust that any lingering doubts about the wisdom of the Amendment will disappear. In fact, I almost expect the support of the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter), who is taking such a very active interest in this Bill, not because he will have been influenced by my argument about the Irish Sweep stake, but because I think he will be satisfied that this Amendment is in no wise detrimental to that great agricul- tural industry of Bermondsey of which he spoke in such glowing terms, namely, the stuffing of quails. For all these reasons, I hope the Minister of Agriculture will be able to accept the Amendment.


I can assure the hon. Member for Leominster (Sir E. Shepperson) and the Noble Lord who has just spoken that I have looked into this Amendment with considerable sympathy. The Noble Lord, who has delighted us with a speech delving into the intricacies of the Irish Sweepstake, said that what he desires is to arrive at the average price on the fairest possible basis. That is exactly what I hope this Clause does. The Bill as at present drafted leaves it to the Minister to calculate the average price over the cereal year after consultation with the Wheat Commission, upon which body will be the most experienced representatives of the farming interests and of the milling and purchasing interests. I cannot see how any calculation undertaken to arrive at the average price could be made upon other than a quantitative basis, and I would assure the supporters of this Amendment that the Bill does provide for that possibility; in fact, in my judgment it ensures it. The procedure proposed in this Amendment. would be much too definite, would tie us down too much. The calculations will be made upon a quantitative basis, and will be made after consultation with and upon the advice of those practical people who are dealing with the problem. It may be that in the result we shall achieve something short of the highest perfection, but I believe our objects are the same. I fear that I cannot accept the Amendment in the terms in which it has been moved.


May I put one question? I presume the right hon. Gentleman will not take the present existing "Gazette" average price, which, I understand, is not calculated on a quantitative basis.


Oh, no. I shall arrive at the average price after consultation with the Wheat Commission.


Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us more or less precisely how he is going to calculate the average There are many hon. Members anxious to know.

Viscount WOLMER

I would like to thank the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture for his reply, which appears to me to be entirely satisfactory to those who support the principle of this Amendment. Its object is to make it clear that the average price will be calculated on a quantitative basis. The Minister has told us that he is going to calculate it on a quantitative basis, and as he has to fix the average price that is good enough for me. We now have his assurance that the price is to be fixed by him on the basis which we have asked for, and, that being the case, the Amendment is clearly unnecessary, and I hope that my hon. Friend will not press it.


I really do not see why it should not be stated definitely in the Bill that it is to be calculated on a quantitative basis. I cannot think why the Minister must go round consulting with farmers and millers before making what is really a simple mathematical calculation. I am entirely in agreement with the Mover of the Amendment, who made a straightforward and fair proposal, and I cannot see that it is beyond the wit of the draftsman to include it in the Bill.


In view of the very clear statement of the Minister of Agriculture, for which I am deeply grateful, that the average price will be calculated upon a quantitative basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.


Is it the pleasure of the Committee that the Amendment be withdrawn?



Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.


I beg to move, in page 4, line 24, after the word "means," to insert the words: in relation to the cereal year ending on the thirty-first day of July, nineteen hundred and thirty-three. This Amendment is moved as a preliminary to a further Amendment in my name—In page 4, line 24, at the end, to insert the words: and 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. In moving this Amendment, I admit straightaway that possibly it is not perfect, and that the method suggested is not the best, but probably the Minister could suggest something far more to the liking of everybody if he chose to do so, and I hope he will. The first object of the Amendment is to make the Bill a temporary and not a permanent one. We had an assurance from the Secretary of State for Scotland when he replied to the Debate on Second Reading, but I have not yet seen anything definite in the Bill to say that it is a temporary Measure. We have admissions from some of the representatives of the farmers that the Bill is a lottery, and if it is going to be a lottery, as was suggested by the Noble Lord the Member for Peterborough (Lord Burghley), I hope it will be a lottery for a short period. I want to see temporary assistance given to the farmer during this time of severe depression, but I do not want him to get into the habit of relying upon a high price obtained by law from the consumer. I want this to be a temporary arrangement to put the farmer on his own feet. The Amendment really arose out of correspondence in the Press in the name of the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor), who is supporting the Amendment. That correspondence has given rise to considerable Debate on the question of an annual reduction in the amount to be received by the farmer.

The scheme is to assist the farmer where advisable, and I say where advisable because I agree that there are at least half-a-million acres, if not more, in this country that must remain under wheat. What we want to see, if the Minister can arrange it, is that by reducing the grant annually he assists the farmers either to improve their methods of cultivation where the land must remain under wheat, or to change to other methods of cultivation where they want to do so. I agree with the hon. Member for Cambridge (Sir D. Newton) when he said that agriculture is a complicated cycle. We realise that and we also realise that the land in the Fens of England is the finest in Europe for wheat growing, and must be retained for wheat growing, but we cannot agree altogether with the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) in wanting to see so much mechanisation. In this country you cannot fill up ditches and pull down hedges, owing to climatic conditions. The climate is variable, and there must be drains, and so we can never carry mechanisation to the extent that it operates in other countries.


I really must protest against the observation attributed to me. I am sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent me. I have never suggested extensive mechanisation.

Lieut.-Colonel SAND EMAN ALLEN

I am sorry if I have misrepresented the hon. Member. Somebody said it, and I thought it was the hon. Member.


An "extension of mechanisation," I said, but not universal mechanisation.

Lieut.-Colonel SAN D EMAN ALLEN

I suggest that the Minister can reconstruct this Clause himself so that it will achieve the object which we have in view at the end of three years. I recognise the fact that, unless there is a level 45s. for three years, there are certain wheat farmers who would never get the benefit of it, because it would upset the rotation of their crops. I ask the Minister to introduce this Amendment so that at the end of three years you will get a, crop which will bring this Bill to an end. I have explained this point very frequently, and, as there are other hon. Members who wish to speak upon the Amendment, I will conclude my speech.


I do not approach this question in any spirit of antagonism as I happen to have previously sat in this House as a representative of an agricultural constituency. I think my right hon. Friend the Minister will recollect the trouble we had in Scotland with regard to the subsidy we offered in 1928 to farmers to put land under the plough; a proposal to which they objected and voted against. We must help agriculture, but we ought to give that help in such a way that the farmer will learn to "earn his corn" like other people have to do. I, as a resident in Scotland, am riot so much interested in the quota for wheat as with other cereals and products, which I think might very properly be dealt with. One of our largest farmers in East Lothian, who, I may mention, was a former Member of this House, and is a very distinguished authority on agriculture, has turned his land mostly over to the production of vegetables and yet this county is noted for producing the heaviest head of wheat in Great Britain. I support this Amendment, as though I naturally admit that agriculture must be encouraged, I do not like to feel that it is being encouraged at the expense of other forms of husbandry.

Compared with the amount of wheat obtained from the Empire and other countries, the wheat produced in this country is infinitesimal. Anyone who has travelled in Canada and has seen the conditions and organisation there must know that we have no chance of competing with such countries on equal terms. Moreover, the fact that the climate of this country is changing has to be recognised, and anyone who has had experience of Scotland during the last three or four years will remember the difficulties which have occurred in regard to the ripening of crops. Each year we have had a very wet spring or early summer which has left the land cold and has resulted in abnormally late harvests, which Scotland does not normally get until September; and the result has been a succession of bad seasons, and in many cases the crops have been left standing, not having been fit to harvest. I think therefore that much more should be done to concentrate on other lines than wheat; and, without wishing to criticise the general purport of this Bill, I wish to press that some form of reduction in payments should automatically take place, which would stimulate agricultural activities and development in other directions.

Lieut.-Commander AGNEW

In rising to address the House for the first time, I should like to ask for the kind indulgence of hon. Members. It is not usual for an hon. Member to make a first contribution to the Debate upon an Amendment in Committee, but the Amendment which we are now considering, and the principle of which I am supporting, affects the whole character of the Bill. It converts it from an expression of permanent agricultural policy into a Measure designed to give temporary assistance only to one branch of the industry which so urgently needs it. It cannot be denied that wheat farmers do need immediate help, but such help should be in the guise, not of placing their particular form of husbandry on a sound economic basis, because I believe that that is impossible, but rather in order to avert the national calamity which would arise if hundreds of thousands of acres of land went out of cultivation to utter waste. If we are giving arable farmers temporary help, and in the meantime we make a survey of the whole position regarding wheat, what do we find? We find that we are up against certain incontrovertible facts that cannot be got round by any Bill.

Let us look at this question first from the point of view of the world's quantity of wheat. The world's crop in 1922 was 490,000,000 bushels, and in 1931 it was nearly double that amount. Between 1909 and 1913, if we take the basis as 100, we find that the world increase in cultivation in 1930 is 127, or an increase of 27 per cent. If the world situation causes dismay when we consider the quantity, how much more does it cause us dismay when we consider the position with regard to the Dominions, with whom we are more intimately connected. In India there is likely to be a great scheme for the extension of irrigation, and it is believed by experts who have studied the position in India that that will tend towards a vastly increased acreage for wheat. It may fairly be assumed that the wheat growers in India will take advantage of the extension of irrigation.

Between 1920 and 1930 Australia has doubled her acreage under wheat; Canada has increased her acreage by 40 per cent., and South Africa by 25 per cent. Dismaying as these figures may be, they are even more so from the point of view of whether there is any money in it or not, and that is a thing we have finally got to consider. I find, after consulting the trade returns, that we imported, in 1929, 111,000,000 cwts., the value of which was £57,000,000. In 1931 we imported 119,000,000 cwts. at a value of only £30,000,000. The bottom was knocked right out of the market, and I believe that it is largely because of the greatly increased production in the last few years that the bottom is not only out of the market now, but is likely to remain out. It is on account of that fact that I would like to suggest, with due respect to the Minister, that he is fighting a losing fight.

My method of attack would not be the same as that which is advocated on the benches opposite. These are compelling reasons for giving up what we may call the historic crop. It is no longer regarded as the pivotal crop except by those who study the documents in the pigeonholes in the Ministry of Agriculture, and, of course, those who grow wheat. The effect of this Amendment will be that wheat growers must either, as the guaranteed price is falling periodically, gradually modernise their system, by mechanisation, to the increased charges which they will have to meet—I do not wish that course to he taken, because the modernisation of wheat-growing will mean a great loss of employment—or the farmers must take timely warning as the price goes down against them and adapt themselves, in the meantime, to take advantage of the benefits which we are expecting under the Government livestock policy about which we are shortly to hear.


May I offer my sincere congratulations to the hon. and gallant Member for Camborne (Lieut.-Commander Agnew) upon his maiden speech? I would like to ask you, Captain Bourne, whether in discussing this Amendment, which is the first of a series, I should be in order in discussing the question of the proposed sliding scale?


I think it will be for the convenience of the Committee to take on this Amendment a general discussion upon the sliding scale.

5.30 p.m.


This Amendment, I understand, is moved by hon. Members with a variety of motives. If I understand it aright, one motive is that there should be no wheat growing of any kind in this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Whether that be so or not, at any rate, the view is expressed that to bring assistance to wheat growing at this juncture is unwise, and that the agricultural community should turn their minds to other methods of production and cultivation. Some hold that mechanisation is the proper method of dealing with this problem, while others say that in any case we must have some power of forcing those who are in agriculture at the present time to turn over and alter their methods, to cheapen production, and to seek other fields. I have tried, in all these discussions and in announcing the Government's main agricultural policy to make it clear that this wheat Bill is only a part of the whole agricultural policy, and I would like the Committee to realise that the methods by which we have approached this subject have been dictated by the view, which is held, I am sure, by a large number of agriculturists in the House, that, while it may be appropriate that there should be a limit upon the amount of land used for wheat production, it is right, in order that there may be a balanced form of agriculture in this country as a whole, that the land which is still suited, and perhaps as well suited as any other land in any part of the world, for the production of wheat, should be used for that purpose. That view has dictated the policy which this Bill proposes to carry out. The theory of the sliding scale, if I understand it aright, is gradually to discourage this cultivation—[Interruption] The Noble Lady the Member for Sutton (Viscountess Astor) says "Hear, hear!"—

Viscountess ASTOR

No! I am an old bird; you cannot catch me.


At any rate, the view of the Government is that within certain limits we should encourage the growing of wheat in this country. Those limits are imposed at the one end by acreage, defined in the Bill by the 6,000,000 quarters, and at the other end by the price. Whether these theories are right or wrong as to the necessity of more economical production of wheat, or its production in certain areas and transfer in others to the production of other agricultural products, is it not clear that we must, in these present times, when the financial condition of this branch of the industry is probably worse than that of any other branch give some definite help to it to meet and tide over its problems? If that be so, and supposing that we are anxious to see people use improved methods or to adopt mechanised methods in certain districts, or to take advantage of the research into the quality of the wheat sold and used, is it not clear that that cannot be done in one year, and probably not even in three years?

The Government have decided that it is right to give a definite promise to this branch of the agricultural industry that, for three years definitely, they can rely upon a certainty of dealing with this problem, and that at the end of those three years power should be taken to set up a committee to inquire into the whole problem and report to the Minister, when Parliament will decide. I would say quite frankly that at the present time one cannot forecast how prices are going to fluctuate, or what the kind of conditions will be, even within the next three years, but that we are definitely giving to the farmer the benefit of this certainty for three years. If, at the end of the three years, there are new circumstances, it is right that they should be examined. That is the view of the Government.

We again say that the question must be governed by the price, which, in fact, is going to be a, very dominant factor in what the producer does. If it is not going to pay him, obviously he will not go on in that line, but will do as hon. Members desire, and turn over to other methods of production. The hon. and gallant Member for Camborne comes, of course, from a part of the country where the intensive cultivation of vegetables, flowers and fruit is of enormous importance. Is it to be supposed that this price is going to induce people in that part of the country to turn over to wheat cultivation? I do not believe it. Be that as it may, in the Government's opinion it is right that we should give a definite undertaking for a period of time, and that at the end of that period the subject should be reviewed. In my opinion, any method of dealing with it by a reduced scale and vanishing amounts would not achieve the object of every one of us. It is right that we should give a definite undertaking that we would then review the price.


The right hon. Gentleman, as one might have expected, has failed to justify his non-acceptance of this Amendment, because the alleged intention of the Government is by no means recorded in the body of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman has said that this section of the agricultural industry ought to have temporary assistance, and we are inclined to agree, but we beg to disagree with the method proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. He tells us that no one can prophesy what prices will be in the next two or three years, and that three years is a short enough period for which to guarantee this particular price. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that three years' assistance is necessary for a particular section of a particular industry, why does he not insert a period of three years in the Bill?

He says that this is part of the Government's agricultural policy. Surely we are entitled to know whether it is a permanent part of the Government's policy. If it is, I entirely agree with the observations made by the supporters of the Amendment. We fear that there may be more reasons than one for this apparently permanent legislation. It may not be out of place to suggest that three years from to-day we may be on the eve of a General Election. That General Election may be contested as the General Election of 1923 was contested, when the Conservative party promised the agricultural industry that, if returned to power, they would guarantee it a certain price for its commodities or for wheat in any case. I recall the fact that the wheat growers in the East Riding of Yorkshire guaranteed to the agricultural labourers that, if the Conservative party were returned to power and gave this subsidy on wheat, they would increase the labourers' wages by 6d. a week. That was awfully generous on the part of the farmers. Fortunately, the Tory party were not returned to power, but this three-years suggestion which is embodied in Subsection (2) of Clause 2, and which, after all, is the only indication that the policy may not be a permanent part of the Government's agricultural policy, may have been timed in readiness for a subsequent General Election.

I want to repeat what has been said already, namely, that we recognise that some acreage must be under wheat, if not for the sake of the actual grain itself, for the reason that wheat is a very valuable by-product on the farm. Therefore +he right hon. Gentleman, when he suggested that some hon. Members thought that no wheat ought to be grown, misunderstood what hon. Members had said. We suggest that wheat will continue to be grown in this country, but, under normal conditions, in smaller quantities than was the case in the last century. We recognise the variations in the geological formation below and the structure of the land above, and we know that even at this moment, whether the right lion. Gentleman desires it or not, some mechanisation is actually in operation in this country; and we know that, if the Government are prepared to guarantee a standard price permanently, those farmers who have the necessary capital behind them will not hesitate to mechanise their farms. There will be more mechanisation rather than less, because of the encouragement which the Government are giving to mechanisation; and, when mechanisation is in operation on a large scale, whether it be desirable or otherwise, it can be demonstrated beyond doubt that less labour will be required instead of more on the land of this country.

We suggest that merely to leave Subsection (2) as it is, so that a committee of three may be appointed and may examine the economic conditions of agriculture, will mean that Parliamentary pressure will determine whether the Bill shall be permanent or otherwise. Therefore, we are entitled to claim that a definite limit should be fixed to the term of the Bill, and that a sliding scale should operate, not, as the right hon. Gentleman said, as a warning to farmers to go out of wheat production altogether, but as an invitation to farmers to make the best possible use of the land at their disposal. Where wheat for the purpose of the grain can be grown economically, it ought to be grown, and where wheat must be cultivated because of its value as a byproduct we say it might well be grown, but not at the expense of other sections of the community who are infinitely worse off than many farmers in this country. The Conservative Government have often said that when dealing with other people's money they ought to be much more careful than when dealing with their own, and I do not think it is out of place to remind the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee that tens of thousands of mine-workers in this country, who will be called upon to pay higher prices for their flour and their bread under this Bill, scarcely know to-day where their next loaf is coming from. There are thousands of miners who never have the opportunity of working regularly, who are only working half-time—


Can the hon. Member tell us how many agriculturists have gone into the mines?


If the hon. Gentleman asks me how many have gone into the mines during the past six years, the answer is, "None," because of the Coal Mines Act, 1926. I know that very many agricultural labourers would go into the mines if they had the opportunity, because of the very small wages that they receive for their work in agriculture. The point that I am making is that we do not object to avoiding excessive losses temporarily, but we object to burdening permanently a huge section of the community who scarcely know where their next meal is coming from, even in exist-Mg circumstances before the passing of this Bill. I submit this in justification of the proposed sliding scale. The 10s. per cwt. means approximately an increase of 331 per cent. over pre-War prices, while the average increase for all agricultural produce is 22 per cent. Will the right lion. Gentleman tell us what is the special virtue in wheat? Why should wheat growers be guaranteed 331 per cent. increase over pre-War prices while the price of other agricultural produce has only increased by 22 per cent.?

That is a question that ought to be answered, because, while it is obvious that in the first three months of the present cereal year only a tenth of the available wheat has been sold, the remainder either being surplus or having been consumed on the farms for poultry, pigs and the rest, under the terms of the Bill the farmers will want to sell all their wheat so as to obtain the deficiency payment and it will result in this curious freak of business. People who at present would not sell their wheat because of the terms of this Bill will sell it to obtain the deficiency payment, and then they will have to buy back the wheat that they have sold at the price that it is obtaining for poultry purposes. That will bring in more officials, more commission agents and middlemen, and these miserable miners and the rest are going to be called upon to pay the price.

All sorts of things may be forgiven for a period of 12 months, but the right hon. Gentleman will not give any guarantee that after three years, when the farmers have had a real opportunity of changing over from one form of production to another, mechanising where mechanisation is necessary for the purpose of wheat cultivation, they must make the best of their land and not depend upon a subsidy from the consumers of bread. For these reasons, the Government ought, after a period of three years, to bring some degree of prosperity back to the nation or otherwise they misled the electorate last October. If they feel, therefore, that in a period of three years they can bring back industrial prosperity, which always brings agricultural prosperity along with it, there is no reason why they should not accept the period of three years for the operation of the Bill with a sliding scale, which will compel the farmers to do what ought to have been done voluntarily a long time ago. For these reasons, we feel that the right hon. Gentleman would carry the House with him if he fixed a definite period and accepted the sliding scale of payment so that the agriculturists, with the rest of the unfortunate employés in the industry, would be self-supporting instead of relying on Government assistance as they have done for the past quarter of a century.

Viscount WOLMER

I think there would be a great deal more in the argument advanced by the supporters of the Amendment if 45s. was a price that was going to make the people who are growing wheat rich men. Of course, it is intended to do nothing of the sort. That 45s. merely takes us back to what the price was when the Conservative Government went out of office in 1929, and farming was not in a very flourishing condition then. The farmers were just holding their own. They were not discharging men from the land in the way that men have been discharged during the last 18 months. They were just holding their own and were just able to keep in employment thousands of men who are now out of work.


Is the Noble Lord not aware that in 1929 the farmers enjoyed the benefits of the De-rating Act, and is he not also aware that the terms of this Bill give agriculturists a proportionately higher price for wheat than for any other agricultural commodity?

Viscount WOLMER

That has nothing to do with the point. It is true that the Conservative Government de-rated land in 1929, in the teeth of the opposition of hon. Members opposite. That was the first step that we took to meet the storm that was then gathering over agriculture. We lifted that burden off the shoulders of the farmers. It proved not nearly sufficient assistance to meet the unparalleled fall in prices that took place during the next two years. When hon. Members ask that we should start chopping little bits off this guaranteed price every year, that would defeat the whole object of the Bill.

Anyone who has studied the agricultural problem recognises that this country is primarily suited for a livestock agricultural policy, and, if our farmers had the requisite capital and the requisite protection, together with a marketing organisation such as this Government is promoting, we should be able to switch over to a livestock production policy very quickly. But it is impossible to ask farmers in the Eastern and Southern Counties, who are practically bankrupt, who really do not know how they are going to find wages to keep their men in employment till next harvest, to embark capital in livestock, in erecting the necessary buildings—a great many of them are their own landlords—and to make that new departure in a branch of farming of which they have not the expert knowledge that they have in regard to cereal production. It is mere mockery to ask these men to switch over to a new form of farming in such circumstances. It is all very well for millionaires to write to the papers and tell farmers how they ought to invest their capital in new developments of farming. The difficulty is that the farmers have not any capital left to invest. This guaranteed price is in the nature of a glass of brandy to a sick man and the sick man has to have a good drink of brandy before we can return to more permanent remedies.

The hon. Member opposite is under a complete misapprehension if he thinks that farmers in most cases will have made so much money out of this 45s. during the next three years that they will then have accumulated enough surplus capital to enable them to buy a herd of cows or other livestock. You will not get your switching over to livestock production that way. You will get it, I hope, by the development of the Government's marketing schemes, by the protection that the Government's fiscal policy is going to give us and the gradual changing over—it cannot possibly be done in three years; it will take much longer than that—from cereal production to livestock production. During that time the sensible thing, and the most economical thing, is to keep those farmers in being in the form of agriculture to which they are accustomed, giving the maximum of employment to the labourers who have lived in those villages and on those farms all their lives.

Surely that is a practical policy in a period of crisis, and it does not lie with hon. Members opposite to hold up their hands in holy horror at the idea of a subsidy being given to an industry in distress. How many millions has the coal industry received from subsidies, and how many millions have been given to the building industry? [An HON. MEMBER: "Sugar-beet!"] The beet sugar subsidy is very small compared with what has been spent on the other industries. Over £100,000,000 has been spent on the coal mining and building industries since the War. Therefore, when you are giving protection to practically every other branch of industry, it is a silly thing to try to cut down this assistance when you are merely restoring your corn prices to what they were on the eve of the great economic collapse, and that is the minimum price at which farmers in the South and East of England can continue to give employment to their labourers.


The Noble Lord made some observations as regards prices in 1929, and he says—it is a familiar argument now—that we are only getting back to the same state as in 1929. In the same breath, he admits that since that date there has been a cataclysmic fall in all prices. Is the farmer, then, although he pays lower prices for everything else, to be put on the same basis as 1929 as regards the articles that he sells?

Viscount WOLMER

I used the expression "cataclysmic" fall in regard to agricultural prices. It has been far greater in the case of wheat than of any other commodity.

6.0 p.m.


I appreciate that it is more in the case of wheat, but what we are discussing at the moment is whether the subsidy should gradually decrease in amount, and not whether there should be a subsidy or not. The Noble Lord really cannot substantiate his case of what he calls going back to the state of 1929, unless he means to put the farmer back in the state of paying the same prices for all the goods he buys as he paid in 1929, which is not the case today. On the very argument which the Noble Lord has put forward, 45s. is too high. It is clearly proved by his own statement. In addition to that, as he admits, since then the farmer has benefited to the extent of a very large sum by derating. Does the Noble Lord agree that the rates shall come back if he has 45s., the same price as in 1929, and the price which, he admits, enabled him to carry on at that time with the wages at the rates they then were? He said that he did not make great profits, but he was able to carry on. I do not imagine that the Noble Lord suggests that the subsidy should be so arranged that the farmer should make great profits. I presume that all he asks is that it should be enough to enable him to carry on. It should be the glass of brandy to the sick man, and not a large and massive banquet. If the Noble Lord wants the farmer back to the stage in which he was in 1929 and is satisfied with that, I suggest that it is clear that 45s. is too high, and that the farmer ought to pay his rates in future. Then we shall get him back to something like the position in which he was in 1929.

The Noble Lord said that it was mere mockery to ask the farmer to invest money in a new branch of farming in order to change over. Surely the farm is the farmer's business? Is it to be suggested that the State has to provide the capital for farmers to change over their business If the Noble Lord believes, as I understand he does, in private enterprise, surely it is the duty of private enterprise to supply its own capital. Or is private enterprise to be for ever the suffering child of the State and draw a continuous subsidy until it has a sufficient accretion of capital to turn over to a new form of farming which will pay better? The Noble Lord must make up his mind whether he really believes in private enterprise or in the socialisation of farming. I can understand, if he believes in the latter, that you should put the responsibility upon the State for providing adequate means for the change-over. Perhaps if we took the next three years' subsidy at £6,000,000 a year and provided £18,000,000 in capital for the purpose of financing the change-over, we could make a very material change-over in a comparatively short time. Why we object so much to the fixation of the subsidy for a number of years without any diminution is because we believe it is going to militate against the change-over which is happening at the moment.

The book which was written by a Noble Lord, and to which the Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) referred, shows quite clearly that even in the Eastern Counties there has been a gradual change over from cereal and wheat farming to fruit and vegetables and other things of that sort—a change over which has paid the farmers in the area. We are afraid that if you offer a subsidy which, on the face of it, is perpetual, you will stop that process of change over, and even do worse than stabilise, because it will create more wheat farming in this country than there is at the present time, and we believe that that would be unwise. There are areas, it is true, where wheat farming is almost a necessity for the cultivation of certain types of land. At least, as far as has been discovered at present, there is no satisfactory substitute for it. In those areas wheat-growing must continue. It may be that some temporary assistance is necessary while the change over even in those areas is being brought about, because although wheat growing may be necessary, it does not mean to say that you have to sell wheat as a cereal crop. You may use it yourself for the purpose of the production of meat, poultry or other things on the site where it is grown, without selling it. We very strongly support the proposal that it should be made perfectly clear that this is not a permanent subsidy, and that an inducement should be given to carry on with the present tendency, which is to change over from cereal production to vegetables, fruit, meat and other things, by having a diminishing price so as not to give any inducement to increase the wheat acreage.


I hope that the Committee will support the most admirable speech of the Minister in reply to the two speeches made earlier in support of the Amendments. The claim of these Amendments is that it should be a temporary measure or a sliding scale.

Viscountess ASTOR

Hear, hear!


I am glad to have the Noble Lady's agreement upon that point. We shall not agree later probably. With regard to the sliding scale, I notice from what has been said, and from the proposals on the Amendment Paper, that the sliding scale in the minds of its advocates is to be a diminishing one, and not an increasing one. In any case, the idea seems to be that the sliding shall be all one way. I can only read one thing from that. It is an absolute admission that all the sliding has been one way for a long time, and that agriculture is now so bad that there is no hope of it being any better, and consequently they say that the slide should be that way. The real argument in regard to the question of the Measure being temporary is provided in the Bill itself. There is the right of control by the acreage and by the price, and I believe that the price is the real condition which will show whether the Bill should be temporary or not. The real justification for this or any other Bill is the conditions under which the industry is working at the time. I am confident that if the conditions were so to improve that the guarantee would no longer be required, the farmer would be the last man to ask for the continuation of the Measure. [Interruption.] I say that for one reason only. Under the Bill, the farmer is to get two payments, and he does not know what the second payment is to be. If conditions so improved that he could sell his wheat at a paying price, which would he, or any other trader, prefer—to receive the whole of the payment, or to receive the first payment? Of course, he would prefer to know the price he was to receive, provided it was an economic price, than to take a price which did not pay him and have the hope of a second payment which would bring back some of the loss he sustained on his first sale.

I suggest that in the minds of some people, the real objection to the Bill and the real reason for putting forward these wrecking Amendments, for that is all they are—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] We all have a right to our own opinions. I am giving hon. Members the right of their opinion, and I prefer to accept my own opinion. Some hon. Members will not agree when I say I believe that some of these Amendments are put forward with the idea of wrecking the Bill, because there is a fear in the minds of some people that the principle underlying the Bill is going to reduce the possibility of gambling in the futures of wheat which has been such a curse in the past. An hon. Member who spoke from the opposite benches said that he objected to the Bill because it was going to put an increased price on the loaf. It is not true. Assuming that it was true and there was a slight increase on the loaf, say, to the collier, as mentioned by the hon. Member, what would the collier prefer to do? Would he prefer to pay a farthing or a halfpenny more for the loaf of bread and retain his job, or that another man should leave the countryside and go into the town to do his job, or the job of somebody else? I am aware that since the passing of the Seven Hours Act, no agricultural labourer has been taken into the pit, but agricultural labourers have gone elsewhere. I cited the collier only because he was cited by the hon. Member opposite. All other workers would be in the same position, because hundreds of them have lost their jobs simply because men who should be employed on the land have gone into the towns and taken jobs away from them.

It has been said that the price mentioned in the Bill is too high, having regard to the cost of production. Although the price would probably be higher than the pre-War price, it must be remembered that the costs of production for the wheat producer are so much higher. The cost of labour—and I am not making any charges against labour—in agriculture is 110 per cent. higher than it was before the War. [Interruption.] It is a fact. If you take into consideration the shorter hours, it is 170 per cent. more than it was before the War. I am not demanding that it should be less, but something should be done for agriculture to enable the farmers to pay those wages and to continue employing men at their proper occupation. The Bill will give some assistance in that direction. It is suggested, particularly in the book to which reference has been made, that this country should turn almost entirely to stock, and that wheat-growing should be discontinued. The nature of the soil in many instances makes this impossible. There are large tracts of land where there would be no water for stock. The industry itself has not the capital, the country has not the capital to lend to the industry, and it is impossible for this to be done. I hope that the Committee will see the wisdom of supporting the Minister in the statement which he made in reply to the Amendments, and that we shall be allowed to have this Measure as long, and only as long, as the conditions demand that it should be retained.

Viscountess ASTOR

I am sorry that the Minister of Agriculture is not here, because I think that he made a very unfair remark about those of us who are moving these Amendments. He said that the purpose of this Amendment and of those who moved it was to do away with wheat entirely. There is not one word of truth in it, as he must know if he knows anything about certain of our views on the subject of agriculture. I am also sorry that the Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) has left, because he was most offensive in some of his remarks, but he was well dealt with by the Leader of the Opposition. I will leave that matter in order to refer to the question of millionaires and what they do with their money. It is not a question of what millionaires are doing with their money. It is a question of what the Government are doing with the people's money, which is a far more important question for the House of Commons than the question of what millionaires do with their money. I would like to say on that score that if the Noble Lord had listened to another Noble Lord, we might have had a constructive Bill brought before the House at this moment dealing with the whole of agriculture instead of this piecemeal Measure to deal with one section, which many of us think is fraught with real danger.

This subsidy, which we now call a deficiency payment, is really, to be honest, a dole. I believe in plain words when you come to deal with plain facts. We want to be certain that it is a temporary dole. None of us would dispute that there is need for a temporary dole for the wheat farmers. We do not grudge it in the least. We agree with the Secretary of State for Scotland who said that he supported the wheat quota because it was a temporary Measure. If he wants to be perfectly certain that it is a temporary Measure, he will have to back this Amendment. He referred in most pleading words and most flowery language to the position of the farmers. He said that it was A temporary lifebuoy thrown to the farmers who have been caught at a more serious disadvantage than other farmers by the slump in prices."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1932; col. 1074, Vol. 262.] Let the Committee be certain that it is a lifebuoy and not a life loser for the National Government, or a sinker. That is what it may turn into. Let hon. Members take warning that if we do not make this a temporary Measure, it may cost them their seats in three years' time. Many of us agree that it is necessary to give the farmers help, but we want it to be temporary. I voted for the Second Reading of the Bill, but I cannot vote for the Third Reading unless I am absolutely convinced that it is only a temporary Measure. It is either temporary or permanent.

Why do we want the subsidy to be reduced year by year? Some of us think we know something about farming, or we are interested in farming. Being interested in and knowing about farming are two different things. A great many people are interested in farming, but it is obvious from the farming failures throughout the country that all farmers do not understand farming. We know that there are farmers who can grow wheat at 45s. a quarter or even 40s. a quarter. It depends entirely upon the conditions. Some of them have adopted up-to-date methods and are growing wheat at under 40s. a quarter. We want to encourage those farmers all we can. The purpose of our Amendment is that if the farmers know that at a definite time the dole is going to be stopped, then those farmers who cannot make wheat-growing pay will turn their attention to other forms of agriculture.



Viscountess ASTOR

There is pig breeding, sheep breeding, poultry keeping—hundreds of things. Suppose they do not do that, does the hon. and gallant Member think for one moment that the urban areas are going to vote every year from £3,000,000 to £6,000,000 to keep up farmers who cannot make farming pay. Does the hon. and gallant Member think that that is an economic proposition and one on which he could go to the country and fight? Try it. The purpose of the Amendment is to help the farmers, but we want to give a fair warning to those farmers who cannot make Wheat-growing pay during the next three or five years, that they must turn their attention to something else.


Is the Noble Lady prepared to see agricultural land go derelict?

Viscountess ASTOR

No, the Noble Lady is not prepared for that. It is because the Noble Lady has listened to people who are thinking of agriculture as a whole and not thinking only of the wheat-growing areas, that she has adopted her present attitude. I want to make an appeal to the Committee, as one who represents an urban constituency. [Interruption.] Do not put me off; I have been sitting waiting a long time. I want to explain why it is important that we should not give a permanent dole to the wheat-growing farmers. On the Second Reading of the Bill I was very much struck by a maiden speech made by the hon. and gallant Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Captain Heilgers). [Interruption.] Yes, and when I start to fight I fight beyond the last ditch. I mean business. I do not withdraw Amendments. The hon. Member said: The reason why farmers are jumping at this opportunity of selling their wheat at 45s. is not so much because of the profit as because they have grown so tired of selling at an enormous loss. This Bill means that there will he one more crop besides sugar-beet which the farmer can now sow, knowing that it will not he a gamble, and that he will get a definite price and a definite market for it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1932; col. 1019, Vol. 262.] "A definite price and a definite market." We know that that is what the wheat areas want. But they want not a definite temporary price, but a definite price for an indefinite time. Is the Committee prepared to vote for that?



Viscountess ASTOR

I very much doubt whether the Committee is prepared to vote for an indefinite period of dole to farmers. I would advise hon. Members to go slow on the question of doles. A permanent dole turned out of the House hon. Members who supported the last Government. The hon. Member whose speech I have quoted referred to the beet-sugar subsidy. Let hon. Members look at the beet-sugar subsidy. What has that subsidy cost. Are any of us pleased with that subsidy? It has cost £30,000,000. It cost £8,000,000 last year. I am not a member of that section of the Conservative party which the Noble Lord opposite represents. We have known Tories, even when they have seen what the beet-sugar subsidy was costing, promise to increase it and to increase the acreage of sugar-beet. I do not belong to that section of the Tory party, and I am certain that new National Members do not belong to it. Do hon. Members really and truly believe that any Government can afford to go on paying £8,000,000 a year as subsidy for beet-sugar, in view of the fact that it has cost us £30,000,000 all told? What good has it done? How many men has it put on the land? We who are thinking about British industry want to put people on the land and not to put money into the pockets of foreign investors. That is what the beet-sugar subsidy has done. We have to go very slow in regard to subsidies, and the House of Commons must be very careful about it.

The Minister of Agriculture referred to three years. Three years is going to be rather a, testing time for this National Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Yes, but I believe in the National Government. One hon. Member says: "Nobody would know it." The best kind of wife is the wife who tells her husband the truth, and not the one who agrees with everything he does or says. It is because I believe in the National Government that I do not want to see it make a national mistake. The Minister of Agriculture referred to three years. Suppose the price is 45s. per quarter for wheat. At the end of three years you will have raised up a vested interest in the wheat industry for which you will be responsible, and can you not imagine the political pressure that is going to be put on in three years time? Can you not imagine hon. Members going to the country and saying: "Why is it that the price of wheat is up and that the price of bread is up?" They will say that it is because of the wheat subsidy.

We are perfectly willing, and I think all sections of the country are willing, to make sacrifices to help certain sections of the farming industry, and we could defend it in our constituencies, but we are not willing to help indefinitely by an Act of Parliament an industry that cannot stand on its own legs. I say to hon. Members: "You do not know how dangerous it will be at the end of three years. It will be a real danger for everyone." That is why I beg the Government to accept the Amendment. If the Government do not accept the Amendment, I ask hon. Members to have the courage to vote against the National Government, in order to save it from itself. We are told by the Government that what is needed is a national policy. That is true. That is what we want in that section of the party to which the Noble Lord refers. The Noble Lord gave the whole case away. He said: "Look where the farmers were five years ago!" The trouble with the Noble Lord is that he is always looking backward and never forward, whereas the Noble Lord that I am following is always looking forward and never backward.

We want from the National Government a national policy. We want a policy that will take in all branches of industry. I would tell hon. Members who are interested in agriculture that they are not going to get from any Government more than a certain amount of money for agriculture. The majority of us represent urban areas, and those areas are not going to vote more than a certain amount for agriculture. Therefore, if you have from £3,000,000 to £6,000,000 a year subsidy for wheat, and £8,000,000, as was the case last year, for beet sugar, what becomes of the other forms of agriculture? How are you going to help them? One hon. Member said that he did not believe in subsidising private enterprise. Those who are interested in Parliament know that Parliament has to do a great deal for farming, but we want to have a policy with a vision.

It is no good calling the payment in the Bill "deficiency payment." It is a dole. Where do hon. Members think the money is coming from? We know that the money for the wheat subsidy is not coming from the stars. It is not coming from heaven and it is not coming from the millers' pockets. It is coming out of the pockets of the people who buy bread. [HON. MEMBERS: "Come over here!"] I would not like to be found with you. I prefer to stay where I am. There is one thing in the Conservative party that I like, and that is that they allow you to have complete freedom of thought and action. I admit that you do not get very far in it if you are independent. It is the same with all parties, but some of us are in public life not for our own benefit, but because we are deeply interested in public questions, and we are prepared to vote against our party and to fight against our party when occasion demands. Then taunts are thrown at us by the Noble Lord. We do not mind, because we have vision. We go right along.

The Government think that in this Bill they are going to please the farmers. If any Government succeeds in pleasing the farmer they will do for the farmer more than the farmer's Maker has done for him. Although the farmers are the most pleasant people in the world, they are the most difficult to please. If there is rain they plead for sun, and if sun is sent they plead for rain. As a National Government we must have a national policy to cover the whole of the farmers, and not by this dole to give an indefinite subsidy to a certain section of farmers. I am very sorry that the Government will not accept the Amendment, and I hope that hon. Members will not listen to what the Government say on this point. Let them cast their minds to their constituencies and let them cast their minds three years ahead. It is because I have never seen a House with so many promising young men in it—[Interruption.] It is perfectly true. I think we have in this House a very rare thing. We have hon. Members with a national conscience. I believe they want to serve their country in the best way they know. In my opinion, they will be serving their country to-night if they make the National Government yield on this point, and agree that this national dole is to end in three years' time.

6.30 p.m.


I wish to refer to one point only out of the many that have been raised on this Amendment, and that is whether the production of wheat in this country should be encouraged or not. There is general agreement in the Committee that any encouragement that is given should not be of an indiscriminate nature, but, as the Minister has pointed out, there are very efficient checks in the Bill itself. There are checks with regard to the ascertained quantity, and also with regard to price, and in the opinion of many hon. Members they will be sufficient to prevent wheat growing on land unsuitable for the purpose. But when we come to the wider question, as to whether the growing of wheat on land suitable for the purpose should be encouraged or not, there is a considerable divergence of opinion. Reference has been made to the immense production of wheat in other countries, to the steady fall in price and to the probability of a long period of low prices. It has been suggested that we should not assist wheat growing in this country to struggle against that state of affairs.

May I remind the Committee that history shows that population tends to overtake food supply? There is a period, it may be long relatively to the life of any one of us but short relatively to the life of the nation, when population will again overtake the food supply, and countries like our own, which cannot produce enough to feed their own population, will find themselves in an exceedingly difficult position. Taking that longer view I hold strongly that it is the duty of this Government and of any other Government of this country to encourage agricultural production of all kinds, having regard to the suitability of the land in each case. In the particular case of wheat I hold that, whatever the cost and however long it goes on, we ought to maintain the production of wheat on land suitable for the purpose as an object of national importance. I disagree entirely with the view taken by the Noble Lady, that we should regard it as only a temporary measure. I am not frightened of the element of the towns. It is an object of grave national importance, and should be pursued as such. I do not believe that the people of this country, when it is explained to them will object to paying something for a national purpose, to maintain the growing of wheat on land really suitable for the purpose as part of the national policy of this country.


The Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) wants to help agriculture, and she wants to help it—she and her family of promising young men by refusing a subsidy on wheat. The remarkable thing about her speech was that it was received by uproarious cheering from those who do not want to help it at all. [Interruption.] The Noble Lady wants to help it by diminishing the assistance given by the State to wheat growing. I recognise her sincerity in the matter.

Viscountess ASTOR

I believe, and there are a great many people who believe it, too, that there are certain areas which will grow wheat, and grow it properly under mechanical methods. That is very important; but I do not believe that there is any section in any part of the country which believes that we can afford to keep up an industry which cannot pay its way. Surely the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me in that?


I do not think that the great farming industry can pay by itself: we have to protect it, and protect it as an industry. That has been my view all along. The Noble Lady wants to reduce the area of wheat, for farmers to turn to something else. I want a well-balanced agricultural policy; I want to encourage all branches of farming. I pleaded and voted for it the other day, but I did not notice that the Noble Lady was with me in the Lobby.

Viscountess ASTOR

I was not here.


I submit that it is a little unreasonable for the Noble Lady to object to this protection, even though it is piecemeal. I should much prefer a general scheme of agricultural protection. I cannot conceive a sound country with industrial protection and without agricultural protection. I pleaded for the protection of stock-raising, but I and those who voted with me were unable to carry it. It is no good driving farmers to some other branch of the industry unless you give them some assistance and protection in that branch of the industry. It is unreasonable to object to half a loaf because you cannot get your piece of cake. I would much rather see a general scheme of protection for agriculture, but I take the present proposal, which deals with one section only, and, so far as it goes, I want there to be some certainty about it. Farmers have had quite enough of uncertainty and quite enough of fair warnings. I want to give cereal farmers a fair chance of putting the land to the best use and seeing what they can get out of it.

I want good farming. I agree that in some cases mechanical appliances may cause a small amount of unemployment, but you do not develop employment by forcing the use of labour where other methods are more economical. I want cereal farmers to know that for a certain number of years they are sure of their position. The urban electors have been mentioned. Even if there is an increase in price. I do not think that they will object. It is no good saying that you want to protect agriculture unless you are prepared to say that there must be an increase in price. An overwhelming majority of the electors at the last election voted in favour of the National Government, knowing that agricultural protection would be brought in. I am quite sure that the Noble Lady wants to protect agriculture, but she wants to do it in her own way, and this protection to a branch of agriculture does not meet With her views.

Viscountess ASTOR

The right hon. and gallant Member says that he wants to protect agriculture, but he knows that this is a dole, not protection. Is the right hon. and gallant Member prepared to keep on doling out to other branches of agriculture in the same way as is done in the case of what? Does he think that the urban electors will agree to that?


That is a perfectly fair question. I am prepared to give protection to the whole of agriculture, and I think that the Noble Lady is, too. I do not think that she wants things to go on as they are, and I submit that now that the country is changing and we are to have industrial protection we cannot refuse it to agriculture. I ask her to consider whether it is reasonable to turn down a particular proposal just because she likes something else better. It is better to take it as far as it goes, and then ask for something more.


I am considering whether I will withdraw the Amendment but I should like to make my position quite clear. I am satisfied with the explanation given by the Minister, that this Measure is not permanent, and that at the end of three years it is to be reconsidered. That is why I am considering withdrawing the Amendment. I should like, however, to make one or two observations. I resent the insinuation that this is a wrecking Amendment—

The CHAIRMAN (Sir Dennis Herbert)

If the hon. and gallant Member desires to withdraw he can give his reasons for doing so but he cannot go into the merits of the proposal.


I am satisfied with the Minister's explanation that the Measure is a temporary one and, therefore, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.




The difference between the right hon. and gallant Member for Ripon (Major Hills) and the hon. Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor) is one of rather vital importance. The right hon. and gallant Member, like most of his colleagues, is still in a kind of panicky state in which he is handing out doles to this and that interest without any broad, general outline as to what is meant by their agricultural policy. Whether one believes in it or not, the Noble Lady is putting forward a national policy for agriculture.


I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent me. It is a general policy that I want.


The whole point of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's speech was that you must take what you are given and be thankful for small mercies; that you should be glad to get a half cake from the Government, and that it is only the beginning. But he himself pointed out the difficulty which he and his friends were in, when the same question arose with regard to meat. They could not get any clear policy from the Government and they voted against the Government. Now the Noble Lady is in the same position. At the stage which we have reached in the consideration of this subject, we must look at the broad question of the future of agriculture and it is quite irrelevant for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to make a Second Reading speech about Protection and about whether the electors voted for it or not. I am not going to argue that point. The point at issue here is how much or how little should wheat-growing in this country be encouraged. The hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Lewis) took the view that a certain amount of wheat-growing was necessary in this country. I am inclined to agree, but he put it from a curious point of view. He put it on the ground that the food supplies of the world, sooner or later, were going to be overtaken by population and that it was necessary that we should grow wheat for food. I doubt very much whether you could materially affect the production of wheat, from the point of view of bread supply, by encouraging home-grown wheat.


The hon. Gentleman, I am sure, will not mind if I suggest that the time has arrived when the development of this discussion on to lines rather wider than the Amendment ought to stop.


With great respect, Sir Dennis, I submit that my point is germane to the Amendment. The Amendment raises the question of whether this subsidy ought to be a continuous subsidy, at a fixed rate, or whether it ought to be a temporary subsidy. That issue entirely depends on the pitch to which you wish to see cereal cultivation in this country developed and that is a matter which can be argued, though I agree not at great length, on this Amendment. I maintain with the hon. Member for Colchester that a certain amount of wheat-growing is necessary in this country, but the question arises: Is there not a danger of encouraging too much wheat-growing and hindering the proper economic future of agriculture in the turn-over? Hon. Members have argued that this price and the amount fixed in this Bill are sufficient to keep it down, but I have evidence from a big firm which deals with farmers all over the country that already there is a return to wheat cultivation. I think that that is an extremely dangerous and wasteful thing. It will be agreed that there is only a limited amount of capital in this country which you can put into the industry and a very great mistake will be made if we put all that money on the wrong horse by putting it all on wheat.

Agricultural experts, I think, are agreed that wherever possible it is desirable to have that change-over in agriculture of which we have heard. At the present time, in this Bill, you are offering the farmer a certainty—a certain price for a certain crop. In anything else which you have done there has been some element of uncertainty, and this offer of a definite sum will bulk larger than anything else in the eyes of agriculturists, and if you are going to make it permanent, you may bring to a halt this very desirable process of the changeover. I am not denying that it is very difficult to make the turn-over, particularly after the lean years which the farmers have experienced, but is the light way of encouraging the turn-over by guaranteeing a price for a product which you do not want to grow—[HON. MEMBERS: "Who says so?"]—in order that the farmer may then have enough money to turn over to the thing which you do want to grow. It seems to me that that is an entirely wrong proposal. I could understand a temporary Measure to give support during the turn-over, because it is found necessary to do so for a time, and I could understand such a Measure being backed up by whatever provisions you choose to make in regard to credits and so forth in order to bring about the turn-over. But when you have shorn the proposal of that temporary character—and we have heard nothing as to what other proposals are going to be made—then you are, in effect, as the Noble Lady has said, giving a dole. You are giving a dole as a certainty to the farmer to do what is not wanted in agriculture at the present time.

I am getting very tired of Ministers of the National Government coming here, week after week, and month after month, and throwing us these ill-considered bits of legislation which do not form part of any well thought-out national plan, and which do, in fact, represent yielding to clamour. I believe that there is great scope for a, well thought-out and properly integrated agricultural policy. I suggest that we are not getting that and that this suggestion of the Noble Lady, at least, will prevent greater harm being done by this Measure.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 54; Noes, 305.

Division No. 108.] AYES. [6.54 p.m.
Adams, D. M, (Poplar, South) George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) McEntee, Valentine L.
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton
Attlee, Clement Richard Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Magnay, Thomas
Bernays, Robert Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot
Briant, Frank Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Groves, Thomas E. Morris, Rhys Hopkin (Cardigan)
Buchanan, George Grundy, Thomas W. Nathan, Major H. L.
Cape, Thomas Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Parkinson, John Allen
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Price, Gabriel
Cowan, O. M. Harris, Sir Percy Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cripps, Sir Stafford Hirst, George Henry Thorne, William James
Crossley, A. C. John, William Tinker, John Joseph
Daggar, George Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Wallhead, Richard C.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Dickie, John p. Kirkwood, David Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Edwards, Charles Lawson, John James Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.) Logan, David Gilbert
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Lunn, William TELLERS FOR THE AYES
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Viscountess Astor and Lieut.-Com
mander Agnew.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Colville, John Grimston, R. V.
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Conant, R. J. E. Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.
Albery, Irving James Cook, Thomas A. Gunston, Captain D. W.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nhd.) Cooke, Douglas Guy, J. C. Morrison
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M, S. Copeland, Ida Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Craven-Ellis, William Hales, Harold K.
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)
Aske, Sir Robert William Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Hanley, Dennis A.
Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe Croom-Johnson, R, P. Hartland, George A.
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenn'gt'n)
Atkinson, Cyril Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Bailey, Eric Alfred George Davison, Sir William Henry Haslam, Henry. (Lindsay, H'ncastle)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Dawson, Sir Philip Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.
Balfour, George (Hampetead) Denman, Hon. R D, Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)
Balniel, Lord Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Donner, P. W. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Drewe, Cedric Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Duckworth, George A. V. Hornby, Frank
Beaumont, Hn. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.) Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel Horobin, Ian M.
Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B. Duggan, Hubert John Horsbrugh, Florence
Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn) Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington,N.) Howard, Tom Forrest
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Eales, John Frederick Howltt, Dr. Alfred B.
Bird, Sir Robert B.(Wolverh'pton W.) Eastwood, John Francis Hume, Sir George Hopwood
Blindell, James Eden, Robert Anthony Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)
Boothby, Robert John Graham Edmondson, Major A. J. Hurd, Percy A.
Borodale, Viscount Ednam, Viscount Hurst, Sir Gerald B.
Boulton, W. W. Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E. Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Elliston, Captain George Sampson Iveagh, Countess of
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Elmley, Viscount Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C)
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Emrys-Evans, P. V. Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)
Bracken, Brendan Entwistle, Cyril Fullard James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Jennings, Roland
Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Jesson, Major Thomas E.
Broadbent, Colonel John Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.) Joel, Dudley J. Barnato
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Falle, Sir Bertram G. Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields).
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks., Newb'y) Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Ker, J. Campbell
Buchan, John Fox. Sir Gifford Kerr, Hamilton W.
Burghley, Lord Fuller, Captain A. G. Kimball, Lawrence
Burnett, John George Galbraith, James Francis Wallace Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. F,
Burton, Colonel Henry Walter Ganzoni, Sir John Knight, Holford
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Gibson, Charles Granville Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton
Caine, G. R. Hall- Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Lambert, Rt. Hon. George
Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Gledhill, Gilbert Law, Sir Alfred
Campbell, Rear-Admiral G. (Burnley) Glossop, C. W. H. Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Gluckstein, Louis Halle Lees-Jones, John
Carver, Major William H. Glyn, Major Ralph G. C. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Goff, Sir Park Lennox-Boyd, A. T.
Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City) Goldie, Noel B. Lewis, Oswald
Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Liddall, Walter S.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Gower, Sir Robert Lindsay, Noel Ker
Chalmers, John Rutherford Granville, Edgar Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-
Chamberlain. Rt. Hn. N. (Edgbaston) Grattan-Doyle. Sir Nicholas Llewellin, Major John J.
Chotzner, Alfred James Graves, Marjorie Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick
Christie, James Archibald Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Lloyd, Geoffrey
Clarry, Reginald George Greene, William P. C. Locker-Lampson. Rt. Hn. G. (Wd.Gr'n)
Clayton, Dr. George C. Grenfell, E. C. (City of London) Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)
Colfox, Major William Philip Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley),
Loder, Captain J. de Vera Petherick, M. Somervell, Donald Bradley
Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bilst'n) Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Pike, Cecil F. Soper, Richard
Lymington, Viscount Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H. Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.
Mabane, William Power, Sir John Cecil Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Pybus, Percy John Spencer, Captain Richard A.
McCorquodale, M. S. Raikes, Henry V. A. M. Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.
MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich) Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
McEwen, J. H. F. Ramsay, T, B. W. (Western Isles) Stones, James
McKie, John Hamilton Ramsden, E. Storey, Samuel
McLean, Major Alan Rea, Walter Russell Strauss, Edward A.
Macmillan, Maurice Harold Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter) Summersby, Charles H.
Macquisten, Frederick Alexander Reid, David D. (County Down) Sutcliffe, Harold
Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Reid, William Allan (Derby) Tate, Mavis Constance
Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Renwick, Major Gustav A. Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Martin, Thomas B. Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.) Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U. Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Thorp, Linton Theodore
Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Robinson, John Roland Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Millar, Sir James Duncan Ropner, Colonel L. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.) Rosbotham, S. T. Turton, Robert Hugh
Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Ross, Ronald D. Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Milne, Charles Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Milne, John Sydney Wardlaw- Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A. Wallace, John (Dunfermilne)
Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Mitcheson, G. G. Runge, Norah Cecil Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside) Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-
Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.) Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury) Wells, Sydney Richard
Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.) Salmon, Major Isidore Weymouth, Viscount
Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Salt, Edward W. Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Moss, Captain H. J. Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham) Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Muirhead, Major A. J. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Wills, Wilfrid D.
Munro, Patrick Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Scone, Lord Windsor-Clive, Lieut. Colonel George
Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth) Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. Wise, Alfred R.
Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld) Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell) Withers, Sir John James
Normand, Wilfrid Guild Shepperson, Sir Ernest W. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
North, Captain Edward T. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Womersley, Walter James
Nunn, William Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A.(C'thness) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley
O'Connor, Terence James Skelton, Archibald Noel Worthington, Dr. John V.
O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D. Wragg, Herbert
Ormiston, Thomas Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A. Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine,C.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Pearson, William G. Smith Carington, Neville W. Captain Austin Hudson and Lieut.-
Penny, Sir George Smithers, Waldron Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward.

I beg to move, in page 4, line 24, to leave out from the word "the," to the end of the Subsection, and to insert instead thereof the words:


Cereal year ending: Price per hundredweight.
July, 1933 Ten shillings.
July 1934 Nine shillings and eightpence.
July 1935 Nine shillings and fourpence.

Cereal year ending: Price per hundredweight.
July, 1936 Nine shillings.
July 1937 Eight shillings and eight-pence."

Question put, "That the words 'price of' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 293; Noes, 46.

Division No. 109.] AYES. [7.4 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.) Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Bernays, Robert Burghley, Lord
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B. Burnett, John George
Albery, Irving James Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn) Burton, Colonel Henry Walter
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.) Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Cadogan, Hon. Edward
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Bird, Sir Robert B.(Wolverh'pton W.) Caine, G. R. Hall-
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Blindell, James Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Boothby, Robert John Graham Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)
Aske, Sir Robert William Borodale, Viscount Caporn, Arthur Cecil
Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Carver, Major William H.
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J.(Kent, Dover) Bowyer, Capt. Sir George F. W. Cautley, Sir Henry S.
Atkinson, Cyril Bracken, Brendan Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)
Bailey, Eric Alfred George Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)
Balniel, Lord Broadbent, Colonel John Chalmers, John Rutherford
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Brocklebank, C. E. R. Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgbaston)
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Chotzner, Alfred James
Christie, James Archibald Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.) Raikes, Henry V. A. M.
Clayton, Dr. George C. Hume, Sir George Hopwood Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)
Colfox, Major William Philip Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)
Colville, John Hurd, Percy A. Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Conant, R. J. E. Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Ramsden, E.
Cook, Thomas A. Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd) Rea, Walter Russell
Cooke, Douglas Iveagh, Countess of Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Cooper, A. Duff Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Reid, David D. (County Down)
Copeland, Ida Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe) Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Craven-Ellis, William James, Wing-Com. A. W, H. Renwick, Major Gustav A.
Crookshank, Col. C. de Wind (Bootle) Jennings, Roland Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Jesson, Major Thomas E. Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Croom-Johnson, B. P. Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Crossley, A. C. Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Robinson, John Roland
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Kerr, Hamilton W. Ropner, Colonel L.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Kimball, Lawrence Rosbotham, S. T.
Davison, Sir William Henry Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R. Ross, Ronald D.
Dawson, Sir Philip Knight, Holford Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Dickie, John P. Law, Sir Alfred Runge, Norah Cecil
Donner, P. W. Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Drewe, Cedric Lees-Jones, John Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)
Duckworth, George A. V. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Salmon, Major Isidore
Duggan, Hubert John Lewis, Oswald Salt, Edward W.
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington,N.) Liddall, Walter S. Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Eales, John Frederick Lindsay, Noel Ker Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth Putney)
Eastwood, John Francis Llewellin, Major John J. Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Eden, Robert Anthony Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick Savery, Samuel Servington
Edmondson, Major A. J. Lloyd, Geoffrey Scone, Lord
Ednam, Viscount Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.) Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E. Loder, Captain J. de Vere Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Elmley, Viscount Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Lymington, Viscount Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Mabane, William Skelton, Archibald Noel
Essenhigh, Reginald Clare MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.) McCorquodale, M. S. Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Falle, Sir Bertram G. MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Seaham) Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Smithers, Waldron
Fox, Sir Gifford McKie, John Hamilton Somervell, Donald Bradley
Fuller, Captain A. G. McLean, Major Alan Somerville, Annesley A (Windsor)
Ganzoni, Sir John Macmillan, Maurice Harold Soper, Richard
Gibson, Charles Granville Macquisten, Frederick Alexander Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Gledhill, Gilbert Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.
Glossop, C. W. H. Martin, Thomas B. Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
Gluckstein, Louis Halle Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.) Stones, James
Glyn, Major Ralph G. C. Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Storey, Samuel
Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Strauss, Edward A.
Gower, Sir Robert Millar, Sir James Duncan Summersby, Charles H.
Granville, Edgar Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.) Sutcliffe, Harold
Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Tate, Mavis Constance
Graves, Marjorie Milne, Charles Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Milne, John Sydney Wardlaw- Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Greene, William P. C. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Grenfell, E. C. (City of London) Mitcheson, G. G. Thorp, Linton Theodore
Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale Todd, Capt. A. J- K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Grimston, R. V. Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Turton, Robert Hugh
Gunston, Captain D. W. Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Guy, J. C. Morrison Moss, Captain H. J Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Muirhead, Major A. J. Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Hales, Harold K. Munro, Patrick Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd) Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth) Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Hanley, Dennis A. Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld) Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Hartland, George A. Normand, Wilfrid Guild Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-
Harvey, George (Lambeth,Kenn'gt'n) North, Captain Edward T, Wells, Sydney Richard
Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle) Nunn, William Weymouth, Viscount
Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) O'Connor, Terence James Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Wills, Wilfrid D.
Henderson, sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford) Ormiston, Thomas Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A. Wise, Alfred R.
Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Pearson, William G. Withers, Sir John James
Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge) Penny, Sir George Worthington, Dr. John V.
Hornby, Frank Petherick, M. Wragg, Herbert
Horobin, Ian M. Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilst'n)
Horsbrugh, Florence Pike, Cecil F. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Howard, Tom Forrest Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H. Mr. Womersley and Commander
Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Pybus, Percy John Southby.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton
Attlee, Clement Richard Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot
Briant, Frank Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Grundy, Thomas W, Morris, Rhys Hopkin (Cardigan)
Buchanan, Georgo Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Nathan, Major H. L.
Cape, Thomas Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Parkinson. John Allen
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Harris, Sir Percy Price, Gabriel
Cowan, D. M. Hirst, George Henry Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cripps, Sir Stafford Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Thorne, William James
Daggar, George Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Tinker, John Joseph
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Kirkwood, David Wallhead, Richard C.
Edwards, Charles Lawson, John James Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.) Logan, David Gilbert Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Lunn, William Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) McEntee, Valentine L. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. John and Mr. Groves.

I must call the attention of the Committee in all parts of the House to the fact that on the next Amendment—in page 4, line 24, to leave out the word "ten" and insert the word "eight"—I cannot allow a repetition of the arguments which were used on the last Amendment. The discussion will have to be confined very strictly indeed to the difference between 10s. and 8s.


I beg to move, in page 4, line 24, to leave out the word "ten," and to insert instead thereof the word "eight."

We object to this subsidy on principle, and while we have endeavoured all the way through, on the Second Reading and in Committee, to oppose the subsidy in all its forms, I gather that we are now to be confined to a discussion, of the merits of 8s. as against 10s. in this connection. The Minister of Agriculture has told us, with his usual courtesy, time and time again that he has at the back of his mind some wonderful plan for the revival and reorganisation of agriculture in this country, and we should very much like to know, before we come to a final judgment on the merits of these figures, more as to the character of the other pieces of legislation which are to be joined up to this to make the plan complete. The right hon. Gentleman this afternoon told us that this was an instalment, and that while it is only a small thing, there are much better things to come and that everybody would be satisfied when the whole plan had been worked out. We object to business being done in this way, and we object to the reorganisation of agriculture if it is to be done on, these terms. We say that this Bill is a plan to subsidise the uneconomic use of land.


The hon. Member is doing exactly what I said could not be done.


I shall do my best to avoid getting into further conflict with you, Sir Dennis, but I hope I may be allowed to refer to the danger of establishing these precedents and of following precedents of this kind.


No, I think not. The question is whether the figure should be 10s. or 8s. It is not a question of precedents.


We are told that this proposal is to pay 10s. a cwt. for wheat of a certain quality, and we suggest that that sum, which means 45s. a quarter, is too high. The deficiency payment which is to be made will run to a very high figure, and we suggest that the smaller standard price of 8s. per cwt., or 36s. per qr., should be substituted. I hope I shall be allowed to refer to the present market prices, because, in estimating the adequacy of the figure which we propose, we have to have regard to the present condition of the market and the prospect of prices for next season's crop. In looking over the papers this week, I find that futures for June and September stand at about 26s. per qr. That is the price at which it is estimated that wheat will be selling in June and September of this year. Indeed, wheat can be contracted to be sold now at that price for June and September next.

If that is the average market price, and the standard price is to be 45s. per qr., it will be necessary under this Bill to present every registered grower of wheat with the average sum of 19s. per qr. for all the wheat grown by him and sold under the terms of the Bill. That figure is much too high, and we think that a very much lower price would give immediate advantage to the farmer and all the encouragement that he requires to maintain his present volume of production and indeed to increase it. We have been told that the intention is to grow a maximum of 27,000,000 quarters of wheat and that that wheat is to be grown on 1,800,000 acres of land. We are told that that wheat cannot be grown unless we guarantee this standard price of 45s. for this year, and the indications are that the market conditions will remain very much the same for the years immediately ahead.

The hon. and gallant Member far Cam-borne (Lieut.-Commander Agnew) referred to the enormous stocks of wheat in the wheat producing countries of the world, which he said amounted to 900,000,000 quarters. That is more than four times the annual consumption of this country. If that enormous quantity of wheat is in stock, and the world production goes on, the tendency will be for lower and lower world prices and, consequently, the need for a larger deficiency payment to be made in this country. In calculating the value of a quarter of wheat, we have to have regard to the quantity of wheat that can be grown, on an average, on an acre of land, and while I failed to get the agreement of the Minister when I referred to these figures previously, he knows quite well that we can grow in this country anything from four to five quarters of wheat, or from 32 to 50 bushels, on an acre of land. If that is so, and I do not think it will be denied, these proposals make a deficiency payment on present prices of 19s. a qr., and it will be seen that this Bill proposes to make a subsidy of from £4 to £5 on each acre of wheat cultivated.

We have heard a great deal of proposals to encourage agriculture, and especially to encourage arable farming. I remember the Lord President of the Council referring in a very eloquent speech, in Plymouth, I think it was, in 1023, to the need for redressing the balance between agriculture and industry, and he went to the election in November of 1923 with a proposal to pay to the farmers £1 an acre on all arable land throughout the length and breadth of the Kingdom. He did not. stipulate that the farmer should grow wheat, or barley, or oats, or any particular crop; he was to get £1 an acre for all the land broken up by the plough and cultivated by arable methods. Mark the difference between the £1 which was deemed to be sufficient in 1923 and the price offered in this Bill. The farmer is to grow wheat under this Bill, not for £1, not for £2, but for an average of £4 an acre, and in many cases, on good land and with good cultivation, the farmer will be able to get nearly £5 on every acre of land so cultivated.




The right hon. Member must restrain his impatience. The farmer working on good land, with good cultivation methods, growing a crop of from 35 to 40 bushels of wheat, will be getting a bonus of nearly£5an acre under the Bill as it stands. We think that that is too much and that it is an encouragement to the use of land not suitable for wheat growing. We have no objection to allowing suitable land to he used for wheat. Indeed, we recognise that our position cannot be sustained, and that we shall have to give way. Same measure of subsidy will have to be given, but we propose a smaller measure, and I want to ask the Minister to examine our proposal to substitute 36s. for the 45s. per qr. in the Bill. I want to show that that is indeed a generous allowance to make. If the price of wheat in June and September is to be in the neighbourhood of 26s. a qr. under our proposal of a smaller figure the farmer would still be getting 10s. a qr. in the form of a deficiency payment or bonus on the wheat that he grows.

We believe that we are making a generous payment and starting in the right way. We want to start carefully. We want to keep the end of the furrow in sight. We do not want to go to the far end of the furrow and then have to look back to see the way along which we have come. If, by starting at 8s. per cwt., it is found by experience that wheat growing cannot be profitably carried on in this country, if the farmer does not respond to the encouragement given him and does not appreciate the generous measure of assistance given by our proposal, it will not be too late two or three years from now to assess a new subsidy and reach the higher figure now proposed in the Bill. We want to test this and to start carefully. Farmers usually are careful people, and those who represent them in this House should be careful people too, if they want to represent in Parliament that careful fraternity. We ask them to join with us in giving the farmer some measure of assistance, a safe and moderate measure of assistance, and instead of 10.s. per cwt. we propose to make it 8s.


This Amendment raises the narrow point as to whether the price should be 8s. or 10s. per cwt., or 36s. or 45s. per quarter of 504 lbs. In coming to our decision, we have had the opportunity of studying all the records of research by such bodies as the Oxford Agricultural Economics Research Institute and the reports of a great variety of officers collected by the university, as well as the farm costings made by the agricultural economists attached to each advisory province of England and Wales. Mr. Alexander, who wrote an article on this subject, states that the maximum deficit in the cost of growing an acre of wheat is £2, which in fact represents 10s. a quarter.

7.30 p.m.

It is quite clear, from such examination as one has been able to make of this matter, that in favourable circumstances wheat can be grown at a cost of a little more than 6s. a cwt., after allowing for the value of the straw. Straw, I think, can be fairly put in at something like 20s., but any attempt to calculate the average figure is rather dangerous in view of the very wide range of circumstances and conditions under which wheat is grown, and the great variability in yield; but from the figures to which I have referred, an average cost in the neighbourhood of 9s. per cwt., if allowance is made for the hypothetical value of straw, is as near as it is possible to get; or 10s. per cwt. If allowance is not made for the value of the straw, which is not included in the market price of wheat. I have had these problems investigated very carefully from a great many different angles, and in all the circumstances we have come to the conclusion that 45s. is a proper figure. In these conditions, the House will realize that we cannot accept the Amendment.


We have been told by people who are interested in farming that, unless we are very careful in the payment of the subsidy and in the fixing of the standard price, we shall have wheat grown on farms that are altogether unsuitable. There is, however, a funda- mental point that we are apt to forget. The biggest contribution that is to be made to the provision in this Measure will come from the poorest people in the State.


The hon. Member must remember what I stated to the Committee at the beginning, that I cannot allow a discussion of that nature to proceed on this Amendment. The hon. Member must confine himself strictly to the question whether the amount shall be 10s. or 8s.


May I ask whether it is in order to discuss the merits of the question whether the consumer should pay on the basis of 10s. or 8s.?


Certainly not. The hon. and learned Member will realise that, while certain matters may be quite relevant to this particular Amendment, if they have been already discussed on the Amendment immediately preceding, I cannot allow them to be repeated on this Amendment.


I accept your Ruling, of course, but I contend that, in fixing a figure that must be drawn from the pockets of somebody, it is important that the pockets of the people who are paying ought to be considered when the price is fixed. Wheat has been sold in this country during the last harvest at a figure where 8s. additional subsidy would have been a very paying proposition to the farmer. We are told that the idea is not to prolong wheat growing in districts where the soil is not suitable, but to give growers a fairer subsidy until they can change their direction of production. Therefore, we consider that the proposed figure is exorbitant, and that the figure which we propose will meet the situation.


There are many of us who, so far from being in sympathy with the Amendment, are doubtful whether the price of 45s. is sufficiently high; and, if we have refrained from pressing our views, it is only because we are anxious to expedite the passage of the Bill. The Amendment proposes to reduce the price from 45s. to 36s. a quarter, which the hon. Member who proposed it regards as generous. The Committee will remember that, under the Corn Production Act 10 years ago, the price was fixed at 68s. It is true that at that time our currency was very much inflated, and no one would wish that commodity prices should return to the level at which they stood at that time. But all sections of the Committee are agreed that we ought at least to restore the price level to where it stood in 1929, and many of us would wish to go further and bring it back to the level of 1925. In that year the price of wheat was round about 50s., and yet the condition of arable farming in England was by no means prosperous. I make no criticism of the price proposed in the Bill, but I am gravely doubtful whether it will continue to be in harmony with the price level for so long a period as three years. That danger would be increased if the Amendment were carried.


The importance of this Amendment is very great, because the figure which you put in for the standard price depends upon the way in which you look at the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that the figure for the standard price is the key figure, so far as he is concerned, in controlling the amount of wheat which is sown in this country. He is relying almost entirely upon this figure of 10s. in order to regulate the acreage which is grown under wheat. We believe that by putting the figure as high as 10s. he will induce ton large an acreage. From all the indications one can get in the country, there seems to be an inclination for a number of farmers to start growing wheat on land which has not hitherto grown it. We are afraid that with a figure as high as 10s. that tendency will be accentuated. The figure which the right hon. Gentleman has just stated as the figure given by Mr. Alexander in the paper on the cost of wheat growing was 10s. a quarter; that is to say, that the present loss was 10s. a quarter, not the price which it costs to grow on the average. That is exactly the figure which we are proposing by a subsidy of 36s. and that is why we propose it.

As we understand it, this Bill is a lifebuoy to the farmer; it is not intended as a permanent means of locomotion. If it is merely intended, as we have been told, to make up the losses which the farmer is suffering by growing wheat, the average loss which is to be met is 10s. That is exactly the figure which, by giving 8s. as the standard price instead of 10s., will be supplied by our Amendment. I do not understand the right hors. Gentleman's argument, because he seems to have based his figure on 10s., which means 20s. a quarter. On the figure which is shown in the quotation which he gave us it should be only 10s. a quarter, and how he justifies an extra 10s. I do not appreciate from his argument. I should have thought from the figures he gave us that he himself made out an excellent case for fixing the standard price at 8s. It will be sufficient on the average to prevent any farmer who is growing wheat on land that can be reasonably used for that purpose making any loss at all.

Surely the consumer cannot be asked to do more than to protect the farmer on his wheat crop from a loss, because he has got his other crops. As the right hon. Gentleman said, even the straw was not taken into account in the figures which he gave, but that is part of the crop, which, if it were marketed as it is in Holland for making straw boards, would be a much more valuable crop than it is now. I ask the right hon. Gentleman how he justifies from the figures which he has given to the Committee any figure higher than that which we have put forward. Unless we can get some better justification than the figures which he has quoted, we shall divide in favour of the Amendment.


I am amazed at the Opposition moving this Amendment, because they must surely agree that there is no use fixing any figure at all unless it is to be an effective one. All experience is against the figure which they suggest. Any figure that is fixed should be adequate so that an agricultural wages board can operate to enable the worker to get a decent minimum wage instead of causing unemployment. In 1917 we had this prices problem before us, and the House then decided that the minimum figure of wheat that would enable an agricultural wages board to operate was 45s. We are fixing now in this Bill the figure we then adopted, and we set up the agricultural wages board in consideration of that figure.


Does the hon. Member suggest that the circumstances as regards world prices were the same in 1917 as to-day?


The figure of 45s. did not relate to 1917; it related to the concluding years after the War. The important point is not that that is an absolute figure appropriate to wheat, but that it is an appropriate figure in relation to the payment of the minimum wage which was put in the Bill of 1917, that is, that the minimum appropriate to 45s. was 25s. a week. That means that the agricultural wages board, if it operated at all, was to pay something above 25s., and that 45s. was deemed to be the price which would only allow it to operate to the extent of something like 5s. above the minimum of 25s. If we bring the price down to 36s., we are dooming the agricultural worker to a continuation of the old conditions.


I might have been inclined at one time to accept 8s. instead of 10s., but I was converted from 8s. to 10s. by an interesting speech last Friday in which the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) advocated that we should go back to the 1929 price level. When his change is so rapid between Friday and Wednesday, even he cannot expect to get his party to go into the Lobby with him.


The hon. Member does not appreciate the difference between the present circumstances when we are not back on the 1929 level, and the circumstances that will arise if we alter our currency policy so as to get back to that level.


What I do appreciate is that a quibble on Friday and a quibble to-day do not make the hon. and learned Gentleman's chances any better.


I have listened to the speeches made in support of the Amendment, but it appears to me that they have all omitted the one point which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman). The hon. Member said it was useless to have a price fixed at all unless it was to be effective. That is the whole

point of the matter. Would the price of 36s. be effective or would it not? It is quite clear from the experience of the past, from the fact that the area under wheat has not increased in times when the price was even higher than 36s., that the figure of 36s. would not be effective even under the conditions of to-day. One hon. Member who supported the Amendment said that the object of fixing the lower price was to encourage the farmer to change to some other kind of agriculture. If that is the reason for the Amendment, one can understand it, but that is a different reason from the reason originally given, and it is certainly not one that the House as a whole would support, or one that even the other Members of the hon. Gentleman's party would support, because the one object that the House has in view is to get an effective price in the Bill.

I think that those who have supported this Amendment from the point of view that the difference in price will obviate hardship upon those who have to provide the money, are perhaps forgetting that the present conditions are not likely to continue for ever. I have heard it said that the very low prices which we are experiencing to-day will in all likelihood continue for a large number of years. I do not think that anyone who is concerned with the wheat trade will care to prophesy in that way. It may be that there is a very large supply at the moment, but it is more than likely, as there have been big fluctuations in wheat in the past few years, that we will have fluctuations again, and the burden will not be anything like as heavy as that described this afternoon. I hope the Committee will agree to fix a definite price which will enable the farmer to make a living on suitable wheat land and at the same time not encourage production on unsuitable land.

Question put, "That the word 'ten' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 260; Noes, 41.

Division No. 110.] AYES. [7.49 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds,W.) Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Aske, Sir Robert William Balniel, Lord
Alexander, Sir William Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.) Atkinson, Cyril Barclay-Harvey, C. M.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M.S. Bailey, Eric Alfred George Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Gunston, Captain D. W. Pearson, William G.
Bird, Sir Robert B.(Wolverh'pton W.) Guy, J. C. Morrison Penny, Sir George
Blindell, James Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Petherick, M.
Borodale, Viscount Hales, Harold K. Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'ptn,Bilst'n)
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Hanley, Dennis A. Pike, Cecil F.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Hartington, Marquess of Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.
Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.) Hartland, George A. Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle) Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)
Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Broadbent, Colonel John Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Ramsbotham, Herwald
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Ramsden, E.
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks.,Newb'y) Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Rea, Walter Russell
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hope, Capt. Arthur O. J. (Aston) Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Burghley, Lord Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge) Reid, David D. (County Down)
Burnett, John George Hornby, Frank Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Burton, Colonel Henry Walter Horobin, Ian M. Renwick, Major Gustav A.
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Horsbrugh, Florence Reynolds, Col. Sir James Phil
Caine, G. R. Hall- Howard, Tom Forrest Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley) Hume, Sir George Hopwood Robinson, John Roland
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Ropner, Colonel L.
Cassels, James Dale Hurd, Percy A. Rosbotham, S. T.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Ross, Ronald D.
Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City) Iveagh, Countess of Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A,
Chalmers, John Rutherford James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgbaston) Jennings, Roland Runge, Norah Cecil
Chotzner, Alfred James Jesson, Major Thomas E. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Christie, James Archibald Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Russell,Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)
Clayton, Dr. George C. Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Colfox, Major William Philip Kerr, Hamilton W. Salmon, Major Isidore
Colville, John Kimball, Lawrence Salt, Edward W.
Conant, R. J. E. Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Cook, Thomas A. Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Cooke, Douglas Law, Sir Alfred Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard
Copeland, Ida Law. Richard K. (Hud, S.W.) Savery, Samuel Servington
Craven-Ellis, William Lees-Jones, John Scone, Lord
Crookshank, Col. C.de Windt (Bootle) Leighton, Major B. E. P. Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Croom-Johnson, R. p. Liddall, Walter S. Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)
Cross, R. H. Lindsay, Noel Ker Skelton, Archibald Noel
Crossley, A. C. Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Llewellin, Major John J. Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick Smithers, Waldron
Dawson, Sir Philip Lloyd, Geoffrey Somervell, Donald Bradley
Denman, Hon. R. D. Loder, Captain J. de Vere Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Soper, Richard
Dormer, P. W. Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Drewe, Cedric Lymington, Viscount Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Duggan, Hubert John Mabane, William Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
Eales, John Frederick McCorquodale, M. S. Stones, James
Eastwood, John Francis McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Storey, Samuel
Eden, Robert Anthony McKie, John Hamilton Strauss, Edward A.
Edmondson, Major A. J. McLean, Major Alan Sutcliffe, Harold
Elliot, Major Rt. Hon Walter E. Macmillan, Maurice Harold Tate, Mavis Constance
Elmley, Viscount Macquisten, Frederick Alexander Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Magnay, Thomas Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Entwistle, Cyril Fulfard Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Maningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Thorp, Linton Theodore
Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Martin, Thomas B. Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.) Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Fox, Sir Giffard Millar, Sir James Duncan Turton, Robert Hugh
Fuller, Captain A. G. Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Ganzoni, Sir John Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Wallace, Captain D. E. (Nornsey)
Gibson, Charles Granville Milne, Charles Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Milne, John Sydney Wardlaw- Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Gledhill, Gilbert Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Glossop, C. W. H. Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-
Gluckstein, Louis Halle Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.) Wells, Sydney Richard
Goff, Sir Park Moss, Captain H. J. Weymouth, Viscount
Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Muirhead, Major A. J. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Gower, Sir Robert Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Wills, Wilfrid D.
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Granville, Edgar Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'id) Wise. Alfred R.
Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Normand, Wilfrid Guild Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter North, Captain Edward T. Worthington, Dr. John V.
Greene, William P. C. Nunn, William Young. Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Grenfell, E. C. (City of London) O'Connor, Terence James
Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Grimston, R. V. Ormiston, Thomas Mr. Womersley and Mr.
Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A. Shakespeare.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot
Attlee, Clement Richard Groves, Thomas E. Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)
Batey, Joseph Grundy, Thomas W. Morris, Rhys Hopkin (Cardigan)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Parkinson, John Allen
Buchanan, George Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Price, Gabriel
Cape, Thomas Hirst, George Henry Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Janner, Barnett Tinker, John Joseph
Cowan, D. M. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Wallhead, Richard C.
Cripps, Sir Stafford Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Daggar, George Kirkwood, David Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lawson, John James Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Edwards, Charles Logan, David Gilbert
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Lunn, William TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) McEntee, Valentine L. Mr. John and Mr. Cordon
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton Macdonald.

I beg to move, in page 4, to leave out lines 25 to 38.

The object of this Amendment is to remove the Sub-section from its present place, and to insert it at the end of the Clause, with Amendments to enable the committee of three to take into their consideration not only the price, but the limitation of the maximum anticipated supply. I think it is clear that in this Bill we are in considerable measure dealing with uncertain ground. It is, in fact, an experimental Bill. Only the course of prices and the actual development of policy in the next three years will show what should be the proper price to fix; but, similarly, only the actual working of the Bill and indeed the working of the whole of the Government's agricultural policy will settle what is the right amount of wheat to cultivate in this country, and what price the nation can afford for that amount of cultivation. It may be said that this Amendment is unnecessary because the fixing of the price does automatically fix the acreage; that is to say, if 45s. is the right price for 6,000,000 qrs., that will be equivalent to a price of 44s. for 6,500,000 or 7,000,000 qrs., as the case may be; and that therefore by adjusting the price in relation to a fixed acreage or fixed output you get the same result. I respectfully submit that that is not quite the same thing.

8.0 p.m.

It may be true that if wheat can be grown at 44s., then to fix 45s. for 6,000,000 qrs. may enable you to grow 6,500,000 qrs. at a satisfactory price, but it is not quite the same thing, because if, as a matter of fact, the whole 6,500,000 qrs. are not grown, but only 6,000,000 qrs., owing perhaps to the interest taken in other crops, then the public will be paying up to 45s. for the growth of the 6,000,000 qrs., which as a matter of fact require only 44s. In that case an unnecessary payment would be made. On the other hand, it is also possible that in the course of years the conclusion may be come to that this country cannot afford to grow so much as 6,000,000 qrs. at any price at which wheat can be grown here. The figure might have to be 50s. and the desired total might have to be less than 6,000,000 qrs. In that case, again, to fix the price lower than 50s. might not secure the quantity which it is desired should be grown. The only way of arriving satisfactorily at both the quantity wanted and the price to be paid is to give the committee power to consider the matter from both aspects. As a matter of fact, they are bound to consider it from both aspects, and if the Minister, as he is bound to, wants to consider ultimately the question of acreage as well as the question of price, he must have recourse to precisely the same kind of advice to help him. Therefore, it ought to be within the power of the committee to make recommendations both as to the supply and the price. Behind both these questions lies the bigger question of policy, which obviously the Government must preserve in their own hands, namely, how much they are prepared to spend, or to ask the consumer to spend, upon the maintenance of an adequate wheat acreage. While reserving that main issue of policy I think the Minister would be helped and not hindered in making his scheme as suitable as possible to the needs of agriculture if he gave the committee authority to make recommendations to him regarding the supply as well as the price.


The right hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment desires, as I understand it, that the committee when they are considering the problem at the end of three years, shall consider not only the question of price but the question of area. In answer to that, I would say that I think it is the price obtainable by the grower which will effectively determine the area grown, and the price is really the important matter for the consideration of the statutory committee. They can inquire into all the details and can make a recommendation. To ask them to review the question of the maximum quantity as well would be to introduce unnecessary complications. It would extend their inquiry from questions of fact to questions of policy, which really ought to be settled other than by such a committee. I realise that this is a matter which is of considerable interest to many of my hon. and right hon. Friends, but I would say to them that I think it would not be wise to give these powers to the statutory committee, and in the circumstances I cannot accept the Amendment.

Amendment negatived.


I beg to move, in page 4, line 25, to leave out from the word "that," to the word "the" in line 26.

The purpose of this Amendment is to provide that instead of the appointment of the committee which is to be set up under this Sub-section being deferred until 1935 it should be appointed on the passing of this Bill. This Amendment is one of series we have on the Paper which have for their object the abolition of the committee in order to give the Minister the right to fix the standard price. A period of three years without reconsideration of the standard price is too long. I think that is recognised by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), because he has an Amendment to reduce the period from 1935 to 1934, making it two years instead of three years. We might ask why the year 1935 was fixed. Is it anticipated that there will be no alteration in the general economic conditions and the condition of the agricultural industry before then, because the committee must take those factors into account? The Minister and his colleagues must have very little confidence that there will be any improvement between now and 1935; otherwise they would agree to a reconsideration of these prices when the general economic conditions and the condition of the agricultural industry improve.

The Government, in the first Session of the new Parliament, have introduced Measures dealing with agriculture, such as the Horticultural Products (Customs Duty) Bill, and imposed a revenue tariff of 10 per cent. upon agricultural products imported into this country from countries other than the Dominions and the Colonies, and now we have this wheat quota. Yet, in spite of all these concessions to the agricultural industry, the standard price is to continue for three years. It would appear that there is very little prospect of the agricultural community getting any advantage out of this legislation until 1935. Can the agricultural community expect no improvement until that date? Is the Minister of that opinion? If the Minister thinks they will get an improvement he should agree to the Amendment.

While I do not desire to anticipate the other Amendments which appear on the Order Paper, which are consequential upon this one being passed, I would like to say that we feel that there is no necessity for a committee to be set up to deal with this question of price, as the Minister and his staff are quite capable of dealing with it. When we sat on the other side of the House we were continually chaffed by the Minister and his colleagues about the number of committees which the Prime Minister of that day set up. There were some 70 or 80 commissions and committees. The present Minister of Agriculture is now following in the wake of the Labour Government—it is the same Prime Minister—and instead of undertaking a duty which is really a departmental duty, wants a committee to be appointed in order to make recommendations.


I should like to be quite clear on this point. There is an Amendment on the Paper dealing with the question of committees. I rather understood from the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) that that Amendment was consequential on the one he is moving. If that is the case, the discussion can be taken on this Amendment, but the subsequent one cannot be discussed.


I endeavoured to point out in my opening remarks that this Amendment was really one of a series which had for their object the abolition of the committee. We feel it would be better that the Minister should have this responsibility, instead of its being handed over to a committee.


I think that on consideration it will be seen that it would not be advantageous to accept this Amendment. As I understand it, this is one of a series of Amendments which, if carried, would deprive the Minister of the advice of this committee. I would point out that this committee is of an executive character, with a specific duty to perform, and is not of the nature of those committees to which the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) referred, and about which we may have chaffed him—possibly quite rightly. It is clear that we have decided that the farmer is to have the advantage of a, fixed price for the next three years, and that it is only at the expiration of that period that a change is to be made, but there is an ad vantage in inserting a date such as March, 1935, as the last date by which the Minister must appoint a committee. As to the other part of the Amendment, I must resist it.


Although we scarcely expected the right hon. Gentleman to accept this Amendment, the excuses given for not doing so are so lame and weak that they really do not constitute any reason at all for his action. The question we are considering is so vital to the millions of consumers in this country that it ought not to be placed in the hands of a committee of three. The Ministry of Agriculture is one of the best bodies in the country for giving information upon this subject. The officials of the Department give advice every week over the wireless. They know the quantity of seeds grown and roots planted and everything else appertaining to agricultural life. All this information is constantly before the right hon. Gentleman's Department. Therefore, it is not necessary to set up a committee of three to supply information to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Not long ago the right hon. Gentleman gave me a reply to a question in which I asked him how many marketing schemes had been produced or were in course of preparation under the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1930. He said that only one marketing scheme was in course of preparation. It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman ought to be the one person, with the assistance of his departmental officials to keep him in touch with the economic movement in the industry, who should be held responsible. He ought to be the inspiration for promoting marketing schemes for wheat or any other agricultural products. He should be the person responsible for determining whether there should be a reduction of the standard price, or whether it should continue for another 12 months. Even if a committee of three persons were appointed, they would receive their information from the Ministry of Agriculture. I am convinced that the Department over which the Minister of Agriculture presides knows all the movements which are taking place in agriculture, and there is no reason for setting up another committee which would merely tell the right hon. Gentleman second-hand what he can learn first-hand from his own Department. This committee, if it is set up, would only constitute an excuse for the right hon. Gentleman not doing anything, or accepting or rejecting any recommendations which they might make.

I do not think that the Minister of Agriculture did himself justice when replying to this Amendment, and no doubt he is relying upon the 550 supporters behind him to do just what he wills. For these reasons, I think the Minister should reflect before he rejects this Amendment. The proposals of this Measure will affect the consumers of bread in every part of the country. The right hon. Gentleman has a highly efficient and capable staff at his disposal, and he ought to make the recommendations himself, and accept full responsibility instead of leaving these matters to a committee of three. Instead of waiting until 1935, the right. hon. Gentleman ought. to start in 1932 and 1933, and indicate to the recipients of these doles in the meantime that, unless they set up co-operative marketing schemes for all their commodities, and use the best machinery available, they ought not to receive the promised assistance, and they ought not to invite the consumers of bread throughout the country to pay a permanent subsidy to a body of people who refuse to make themselves efficient.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out to the word 'March,' in line 25, stand part of the Clause.

The Committee divided: Ayes, 242; Noes, 39.

Division No. 111.] AYES. [8.23 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Gledhill, Gilbert Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Glossop, C. W. H. Normand, Wilfrid Guild
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Gluckstein, Louis Halle Nunn, William
Albery, Irving James Goodman, Colonel Albert W. O'Connor, Terence James
Alexander, Sir William Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.) Granville, Edgar Ormiston, Thomas
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.
Aske, Sir Robert William Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Pearson, William G.
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Greene, William P. C. Petherick, M.
Atkinson, Cyril Grenfell, E. C. (City of London) Pike, Cecil F.
Bailey, Eric Alfred George Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Grimston, R. V. Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)
Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J. Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)
Balniel, Lord Gunston, Captain D. W. Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Guy, J. C. Morrison Ramsbotham, Herwald
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Ramsden, E.
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Hales, Harold K. Rea, Walter Russell
Beaumont, Hn. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.) Hanley, Dennis A. Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Bird, Sir Robert B.(Wolverh'pton W.) Hartington, Marquess of Reid, David D. (County Down)
Blindell, James Harttand, George A. Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Boulton, W. W. Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle) Renwick, Major Gustav A.
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E.R.) Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Hope, Capt. Arthur O. J. (Aston) Robinson, John Roland
Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge) Ropner, Colonel L.
Broadbent, Colonel John Hornby, Frank Rosbotham, S. T.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Horobin, Ian M. Ross, Ronald D.
Browne, Captain A. C. Horsbrugh, Florence Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Buchan, John Howard, Tom Forrest Rothschild, James A. de
Buchan-Hepburn, P, G. T. Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.
Burghley, Lord Hume, Sir George Hopwood Runge, Norah Cecil
Burnett, John George Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Hurd, Percy A. Russell,Hamer Field (Sheffield,B'tside)
Caine, G. R. Hall- Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Iveagh, Countess of Salt, Edward W.
Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley) Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Caporn, Arthur Cecil James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Cassels, James Dale Jennings, Roland Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard
Castle Stewart, Earl Jesson, Major Thomas E. Savery, Samuel Servington
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Scone, Lord
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Edgbatton) Kerr, Hamilton W. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Chotzner, Alfred James Kimball, Lawrence Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Christie, James Archibald Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Clayton, Dr. George C. Lees-Jones, John Simmonds, Oliver Edwin
Colfox, Major William Philip Leighton, Major B. E. P. Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)
Colville, John Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Skelton, Archibald Noel
Conant, R. J. E. Liddall, Walter S. Smith, Louie W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Cook, Thomas A. Lindsay, Noel Ker Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Cooke, Douglas Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Cooper, A. Dull Llewellin, Major John J. Smithers, Waldron
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootie) Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick Somervell, Donald Bradley
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Lloyd, Geoffrey Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Croom-Johnson, R, P, Loder, Captain J. de Vere Soper, Richard
Crossley, A. C. Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Dalkeith, Earl of Mabane, William Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.
Dawson, Sir Philip McCorquodale, M. S. Stones, James
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. McEwen, Captain J. H. F Storey, Samuel
Dickie, John P. McKie, John Hamilton Strauss, Edward A.
Drewe, Cedric McLean, Major Alan Sutcliffe, Harold
Duggan, Hubert John Macmillan, Maurice Harold Tate, Mavis Constance
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington,N.) Macquisten, Frederick Alexander Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Eales, John Frederick Magnay, Thomas Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Eastwood, John Francis Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Eden, Robert Anthony Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Thorp, Linton Theodore
Edmondson, Major A. J. Marsden, Commander Arthur Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Ednam, Viscount Martin, Thomas B. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Elmley, Viscount Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Turton, Robert Hugh
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Millar, sir James Duncan Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.) Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.) Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Fermoy, Lord Milne, Charles Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Fox, Sir Gifford Milne, John Sydney Wardlaw- Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Fuller, Captain A. G. Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.) Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-
Ganzoni, Sir John Moss, Captain H. J. Wells, Sydney Richard
Gibson, Charles Granville Muirhead, Major A. J. Weymouth, Viscount
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Wills, Wilfrid D. Wise, Alfred R. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George Worthington, Dr. John V. Mr. Womersley and Lord Erskine.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) McEntee, Valentine L.
Attlee, Clement Richard Groves, Thomas E. Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot
Batey, Joseph Grundy, Thomas W. Morris, Rhys Hopkin (Cardigan)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Parkinson, John Allen
Buchanan, George Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Price, Gabriel
Cape, Thomas Harris, Sir Percy Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Hirst, George Henry Tinker, John Joseph
Cowan, D. M. John, William Wallhead, Richard C.
Cripps, Sir Stafford Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Daggar, George Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Kirkwood, David Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Edwards, Charles Lawson, John James
George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Logan, David Gilbert TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Grenfell, David Roes (Glamorgan) Lunn, William Mr. Duncan Graham and Mr.
Cordon Macdonald.

I beg to move, in page 4, line 25, to leave out the word "March," and to insert instead thereof the word "September."

In moving this Amendment, which stands on the Paper in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Spark-brook (Mr. Amery), I should like, if I may, to include the following Amendment, also in the name of my right hon. Friend—in page 4, line 26, to leave out the word "thirty-five," and to insert instead thereof the word "thirty-four." Perhaps I can best explain the Amendments reading a few lines of the Subsection concerned. As at present drafted, the words are: Provided that, not later than the first clay of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-five, the Minister shall appoint a committee of three persons, who, after considering general economic conditions and the conditions affecting the agricultural industry, shall report to the Minister as to the desirability of making any alteration in the standard price. The alteration which I and my friends desire to make is to substitute for the 1st March, 1935, the 1st September, 1934. The object is not, like that of the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) and his friends, to shorten the period for which the farmer may receive the 45s., but to give him longer notice of any change that might be made. The Committee will no doubt realise that the crop which is to be reaped in August, 1935, may, if it is winter-sown, be sown in the latter part of 1934, or, if it is spring-sown, in the spring of 1935. The words of the Sub-section are "not later than the first day of March," but, if the Committee is appointed so late as the 1st March, an alteration might be made in the price received after the crop was actually sown and in the ground; or, if the crop were spring-sown, the farmer would have ploughed the land and made his plans, and then might be faced with an alteration of the price. It is in order to case over this little point that the Amendment is moved, and I very much hope that the Minister in charge will look at this matter sympathetically, as I am sure he must agree that it is of the greatest importance that the farmer should have adequate notice of any change in the standard price.

The whole object of the Bill is to ensure that the farmer shall know where he is when he sows his crop, and have the knowledge that for his crop of wheat he is going to get a stable price. Therefore, I claim that the Amendment would more fully carry out the object which the Minister declares he has in view, and I hope it will be favourably received in order that at the time of change of standard price the farmer may have ample notice of such change.


I appreciate the arguments in which my hon. Friend has furthered his Amendment, but it appears to the Government that it may well be an advantage that ample time should be given for the setting up of this committee, and it would be a mistake to limit ourselves to its appointment in the month of September. I am not sure that, if you were so to limit it, if you take into account the time the committee would take undoubtedly to make its considerations, that the month of September would meet the point that my hon. Friend has in view. The 1st day of March, 1935, is only the last day upon which the committee may be appointed, and it may well be that the Minister will find it more convenient that it should be appointed earlier. On the whole, the Government are of opinion that it would be better to give more latitude rather than less with regard to the date of the appointment of the committee and I would, therefore, ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.


I do not. gather how the hon. Gentleman thinks he is getting more latitude. I gathered that he does not propose to alter the date of August, 1935. Therefore, the period for consideration, as the Bill stands, is between March and August. The hon. Member proposes that the committee shall be appointed earlier, so that they will have time from September to August to consider it. Therefore, he is giving more latitude and more scope and more opportunity for deliberation. I should have thought the Minister's argument was in favour of acceptance of the Amendment.


When I spoke of latitude, I meant that the Committee, when appointed, should have a maximum of knowledge and information, and it may well be that the extra six months might give them a great deal more solid foundation to make recommendations as to what might happen in the following August.


Why, because you appoint a committee a few months earlier, do they get less information?


Because, presumably, the committee, when it is appointed, immediately sets about doing its work and finishes it as rapidly as possible.

Amendment negatived.


I beg to move, in page 4, line 29, after the word "industry," to insert the words: including wages and other conditions of employment. This paragraph provides for the appointment of a committee of three to inquire into two main considerations. Firstly into the general economic considerations. That is to say they may take into account the whole economic condition of the country. They can inquire into coal, cotton, shipbuilding, imports, exports, and everything connected with business and commerce, because the term "general economic conditions "includes wages paid, profits made by the employers, the transactions of insurance companies, banking firms and all the rest of it. They can take all these considerations into account. They can take something else into account—the conditions affecting the agricultural industry. They can take into account what effect the Horticultural Products Act may have had by way of encouraging the products of home farming. They can discuss what effect the provisions of this Bill may have had with regard to providing an incentive for the agricultural industry. They can discuss the landlord's and the farmer's positions. They can discuss every conceivable subject except the one in which the House of Commons ought to be interested, and that is the conditions of employment and the wages and hours of labour of the poor farm worker himself. That is typical of this Government. This is a Government of landlords, capitalists and profiteers. The party that runs the present Government, with a few exceptions—the exceptions are going to be greater after the speech delivered in another place to-day—may be divided into three branches, the Farmers Union, the Federation of British Industries, and the Federation of Manufacturers. [Interruption.] Were it not for the Trade Union Congress, the poor agricultural labourer would still be living in the feudal age.

The agricultural labourer and his conditions ought to be subjects of inquiry and report by this Committee as well as the two other considerations that are mentioned. We are not, in the Amendment, asking the Committee to say whether the wages are good or indifferent, whether the hours are too long and whether there are holidays with pay. All we say is that these considerations ought to be taken into account by the Committee of three. That is not asking too much, and I cannot see any Member of any party bold enough to oppose the Amendment. [Interruption.] The hon. Member is not as optimistic as I am. What in fact are the conditions of employment in the agricultural industry? I speak with a little feeling on this subject because I have been a farm servant myself. [An HON. MEMBER: "A long time ago."] Not long enough to forget the conditions under which I worked, and, if the hon. Member had worked for three years on a farm, he would never forget it either.

Let me come to the point that ought really to have the consideration of the Committee of three. There is an Act of Parliament on the Statute Book to pro vide the agricultural labourer with a minimum wage, but I am informed on good authority that the poor fellow is so disorganised—[Interruption]—I never make those silly interruptions when the hon. Member speaks. I try to behave myself in the House of Commons as becomes a Member of my party. This is a point which really concerns the Government of whatever political colour. I am informed that there are labourers in some parts who are not getting the wages provided for them under the law. Let me make the point clear. It is not sufficient, in my experience as a trade union official, to say that the law ensures a minimum wage to workpeople unless there is organised power among the workpeople themselves to enforce the law in regard to that minimum wage. It is even possible for them to be working below the minimum wage provided by law. That is the case in some of the agricultural districts of the country. The point about wages ought therefore to be borne in mind by the Committee of three.

The other day when I was in a certain part of England—these things never hap pen in Wales apparently but always in England, by the way—I was informed that in one county the number of tied cottages had doubled during the last 20 years or so. That is an extraordinary position. I assure Members of the Government, whatever they may think about anything else I may say, that the man living in a tied cottage really is in bondage. I was brought up in a tied cottage and I know exactly what it means. Those hard days have gone by now, of course. In the days that I remember, if you lived in a cottage owned by the farmer you had to belong to the same church or chapel as the farmer himself. That sort of thing, happily, has passed. There was a time when, if you lived in a tied cottage, you had to vote as the farmer or the landlord told you to vote, and in spite of the ballot he had a strange way of finding out how you voted. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman's predecessors knew something about that. [Interruption.]

We have been told in the course of the discussion on this Bill that a great deal of unemployment exists among the agricultural workers. That is a very sad thing indeed. I think that every party in the Committee will regret that fact. I am glad that the Lord President of the Council has come into the Chamber because he lives in a beautiful part of the countryside of England and will know more about the subject probably than most of us. The point I wish to make is, that the Committee of three are, according to the provisions of the Bill we are discussing, only to consider the economic conditions of the country and the farming industry; they are not called upon under those provisions to take any account at all of the conditions under which the 750,000 agricultural labourers live in this country. That is an omission which ought to be made good by the Committee this evening.

I was about to deal with the problem of unemployment in the agricultural industry. I remember the time when the countryside was denuded of a large number of young men who went into the coalmines of this country. That day has gone, but still we are told that agricultural labourers drift into the industrial districts for some unknown reason. I think that the main reason—I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill at the moment will agree with me—is that the conditions of life, in spite of the better wages, are, on the whole, more pleasant in the urban districts than in the countryside. I do not think that those of us representing industrial constituencies in this country have ever taken sufficient note of this very important fact. Show me the man who does the most important work in this world, and I will show you the man who is the worst paid. The further you get away from the production of the necessities of life, the better payment you receive. That is a strange thing. Some day—it will not matter what political colour we may wear—society will have to face the fact that the agricultural labourer was here before the first coalmine was sunk, or the first factory built. In fact he was here before the words "National Government" were ever coined. But in spite of the fact that agricultural labourers are nature's first workmen, arid that they produce the most necessitous things in life, they are still the worst paid in practically every country in the world. I have always admitted—and I am very pleased to admit it, although I did not know it until I had travelled as I have done in the last few years—that the conditions of employment in the fields of this country are better than those in most countries which I have visited. But that does not say that we cannot make them better. It has always been my view that the better conditions of employment in the fields, the factories and the mines of this country are here because the organised labour movement in this country is stronger than in any other country of the world. That is the main reason.

I regard the Amendment as a very important one indeed. I should like this Committee to bear in mind just for once in all these discussions about payment to the farmer, the growth of wheat, whether English or any other, the poor chap who follows the plough, who works in the field, and who deals with the livestock. I confess that I do not like him to be forgotten in our discussions. I have met decent landlords and I have met good farmers, but hon. Gentlemen will know that it is true when I say that in spite of all that can be said about landlordism and farmers of this country there are a few who have forgotten all standards of honour towards their workpeople. [An HON. MEMBER: "In all industries!"] I admit, in all industries alike. It is because of that that I wish the Committee to bear the facts I have stated in mind. We are moving the Amendment on behalf of the agricultural workers, and not against the interests of the landlord or the farmer. I ask the Committee again to bear in mind these men and women who are working in the countryside. The Bill, in my view, will be nothing short of a tragedy, unless that section of the community is taken into account in our discussions.


The speech of the hon. Member certainly contains much which, I think, every section of the Committee will appreciate, namely, that we should bear in mind that the primary producer of food and raw materials has had, particularly in recent years, the worst time of all, and it is up to society as a whole to ensure that the producer of food has a rather better show in the future than he has had in the past. Therefore, there is very general sympathy with the idea behind the Amendment. The position of the Government is that we are satisfied that the Amendment is abundantly covered by the words in the Bill, and that to insert the additional words would be to limit the inquiry of the committee instead of widening it. Wages and conditions of employment are certainly covered by the words "conditions affecting the agricultural industry."

What is the object of the committee It is not to make a social survey, but to advise the Government, and eventually Parliament, on possible variations in the standard price. In order to advise the Government on that question, there are three main factors which the committee—it will have to be an expert committee—will have to consider: First, world prices and the trend of world prices in the three years before it makes its report; secondly, the costs of production in this country, and what changes have taken place during the three years' experiment in the costs of production, in which wages are bound to be a most significant factor; and, thirdly—a factor which must be borne in mind by the committee if they are to make any report on their terms of reference—the conditions of employment in the agricultural industry aid how they are likely to be affected by any change in the standard price. It would be quite impossible for the committee to make any report on what should be subsequently the standard price without setting out very fully what are the wages in the wheat-producing industry. I admit that the committee may have to go into certain other things, including, probably, surveys in different parts of the country into what has been the effect of the operation of the Act.

I am further advised that the inclusion of the suggested words would have a very limiting effect, in that when you put in an Amendment of this kind, dealing with one element in the cost of production, you thereby, according to the legal interpretation of Statutes, exclude others. It is most desirable that we should not fetter this impartial committee when it is inquiring into the costs of production and the effects of the working of the Act, by a limiting Amendment of this kind. I am fully satisfied that the objects which the hon. Member has in mind will be covered. I do not say that they will go into the question of tied cottages, because they will have other things to think of, but in regard to wages, prices, and the costs of production, those are undoubtedly covered in the words of the Bill, and that is why the very wide words in the Bill have been adopted.

9.0 p.m.


I rise to support the Amendment, and I am somewhat surprised at the interpretation which the Minister has put on the words in the Clause as it stands. It seems to me that the Committee may recommend a change in the standard price, and that may mean that all the benefit will go direct to the farmer who is producing the wheat. Perhaps different wording might be moved on the Report stage, in which case it might be advisable to withdraw the Amendment, but up to the present time what has been said by the Minister does not convince me that we can put the interpretation upon the words that he suggests. I say that with diffidence, because I am not a legal man, but I have had much to do with settling wages for different classes of workpeople, and I have always found in my negotiations that, unless it was definitely specified in an Act of Parliament that wages and conditions should be considered by any committee or other body that might be considering the matter, we were generally ruled out of court by the arbitrator or any other person hearing the case. I have not had the same experience in regard to agriculture as my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment. I happen to have been more unfortunate. I went into farm service at a very early age and got the sack after 10 days, and I have not been very anxious to go back to it. The farm labourer is the one central man on the farm. You may have a good landlord and, of course, there are good landlords, and one is always pleased to meet them, and you may have a good farmer—I do not decry the farmers, because I believe that in the farming classes of this country there is some of the finest farmers in the world; I have had many dealings with them and have seen their activities—but however good the farmer may be for directing purposes, unless he has good men to till his land and do what is necessary, the farm will become valueless.

In this Bill there is no real provision for the essential man on the farm. I listened to the Second Reading speech of the Minister of Agriculture and I have listened to the speeches of hon. Members supporting the Government during the Second Reading and Committee stages of the Bill. They have all expressed the view that this Bill is in the interests of the agricultural industry, but they have been concerned with the landlord and the farmer and have left out the other man—the important man. Our Amendment seeks to put him into the Bill, not in an elaborate way but in a small way. We ask that the Committee should consider the man's wages and conditions of employment when they are considering the working of the Act. Surely that is not asking very much, because when it has been done I expect the business will have to go through an ordinary process of decision as to whether his wages should be this amount or that amount, and whether his conditions should be so and so. The Government would be doing a real service to the agricultural labourer by giving him some small right to be included in the Bill.

A large number of hon. Members have been elected not only by the votes of the farming community but by the votes of the agricultural labourers. It would be fair to say that the largest proportion of votes in a rural constituency consists of agricultural labourers. We are told that they have pinned their faith to those who support this Government. It is not the first time that they have done that, and what has been the result? If the agricultural industry is in a bad state, I would remind hon. Members that, much as they may try to blame the Labour party for what happened during their two years of office, the supporters of the present Government have controlled the agricultural industry for 200 years. Now that they have got the industry into its present position an attempt is being made to extricate it from the desperate situation into which they have driven it. We desire that not only the farmer and the landlord but the agricultural labourer should be assisted. It may be said that the farmer cannot afford this and that. That has been the cry ever since I can recollect anything. This is not the only Government that has tried to do something for the farmer. Every Government since 1900 have told us that they would do something for the agricultural industry—


I am afraid the hon. Member is now getting wide of the Amendment. The point is whether the committee shall or shall not in their consideration include "wages and other conditions of employment." We cannot go into the question of benefits to agriculture.


Thank you, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, for having been so good to me so far. I was coming to that point. I was about to say that during all the discussions we have had the farm labourer has been very seldom mentioned. Here is an opportunity for the Committee to show its appreciation of the work and help of these men in this national industry. If the First Commissioner of Works will make further inquiries from the Law Officers of the Crown I think he will find that unless this is specified in the Bill the Committee will not have the power to take these points into consideration.


The hon. Member for Westhougbton (Mr. B. Davies), who moved the Amendment, divided the Conservative party into three categories—the National Farmers' Union, the Federation of British Industries and the Manufacturers' Union—and an hon. Member by way of retort suggested that the party represented by the hon. Member consisted entirely of the Trades Union Congress. I certainly am not in any of the first three categories. If I am in any category at all it is in the trade union category. Everybody knows that the Bar is a close trade union. One of the conditions of getting on in that union is that you should know something about your job, and if I do not, at any rate I have been an apprentice long enough to offer a modest suggestion. The only reason for this Amendment is that it has provided the hon. Member and other members of his party with an excuse for making most eloquent and touching appeals on behalf of the agricultural labourer in order that the country may suppose that they have a monopoly of sympathy for him. That is an excuse which I must pass because it has enabled us to enjoy, as we always do, an eloquent and moving speech from the hon. Member for Westhoughton.

But coming back to the question of the law, I entirely agree, with all respect, considering the source of his advice, with the construction put on the Clause by the First Commissioner of Works. It is so widely drawn that I cannot conceive any member of the Bar or any judge of any tribunal for a moment accepting the interpretation which the hon. Member for Westhoughton puts upon it. He suggests that under the Clause as it is drafted the committee are entitled to consider everything except the wages and conditions of employment of the agricultural labourer. I hope he will not think that I am being rude when I say that such an interpretation, from the point of view of a lawyer, is absolute nonsense. You might just as well say that if the Clause said that the committee should consider a map of England that it was necessary to insert the words "including Yorkshire," or that if the committee must consider the question of trade unions, that it was necessary for the miners to insist on the inclusion of the words "Miners' Federation." The fact of the matter is that, so far from making the chances of the agricultural labourer better by inserting these words, you positively imperil them.

I do not know that I can go quite as far as to say that when you include in a general description one particular specified item you necessarily exclude every other. It may be rather rash to advance that proposition, but I do say that where you do in a general description proceed to include some particular example you run the risk that the Clause may then be construed on the principle of ejusdem generis, and in this case the committee would be entitled to take into consideration the wages and conditions of employment and other matters of the same sort and nothing else, whereas the Clause, drawn, as it is, so widely, obviously includes every condition of the industry, including, of course, wages and conditions o: employment. It is not only that the committee are entitled to consider these things. The Clause reads: three persons, who after considering general economic conditions.… It is therefore their duty, and I cannot imagine any court of law which would uphold them if they said that they were excluded from their consideration.


I do not know how many lawyers we have in this present House of Commons but I think we have more this time than ever before. If the matter is so clear as the hon. and learned Member suggests then clearly there is not going to be much work for the lawyers and I can see them being out of a job and coming on the trade union. We are not quite satisfied with the explanation of the Minister. There is no real objection to including these words. So far we have not got much satisfaction from the Government and if these words make no difference at all then I think they should grant us this concession. The money to be paid under this Bill is called a deficiency payment. We call it a dole. My mind goes back to 1925 when the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council saw fit to pass through the House of Commons a subsidy to the mining community. I was one of those who accepted it with open arms, believing that it was for the good of the industry. What happened?


I think we had better not discuss that subject.


It is just by way of an illustration, and you are very generous Mr. Deputy-Chairman with hon. Members who are not accustomed to the intricacies of Committee. I was trying to point out that we were badly let down because very little of that £23,000,000 got down to the mining community. In this Bill we are paying £6,000,000 in deficiency payment and we are anxious that some part of it at least shall get down to the person who is entitled to it. We think that the Committee should consider the wages and conditions of the farm labourer, and if this is made quite clear in the Bill we should be more satisfied than we are. Our intention is to protect the farm labourer and if hon. Members opposite are equally sincere in that intention they will give all the support possible to this proposal. I have heard them belittling our efforts to protect the farm labourer. On this occasion they can show their own sincerity by supporting us in inserting these words which, we are told, will only strengthen the intention of the Bill.


I do not see eye to eye with the hon. and learned Member for Swindon (Sir R. Banks) on the legal interpretation of this sentence. It seems to me that although the phraseology used here may be intended to cover conditions in the industry, the wording looks as if it dealt only with conditions external to the industry. I see that one of the Law Officers for Scotland is in his place, and I suggest to him very few people would refer to wages as "a condition affecting the agricultural industry," though wages might be referred to as "a condition in the agricultural industry." I certainly consider that the use of the word "affecting" indicates conditions external to the industry itself, which have their reflections and effects upon the industry. That interpretation is rather emphasised by the preceding words, "considering general economic conditions and." When these phrases are linked together they seem to mean conditions of the class of tariffs or matters of that kind. I do not think that any lawyer reading these words could say with certainty that the internal conditions of industry were intended to be dealt with by this advisory committee. I naturally accept what the right hon. Gentleman has said that such is the intention of the Government, but I think if he consults his legal advisers again as to the possibility of the words being capable of two interpretations, they will tell him that the matter is open to doubt. I do not say that the actual words of the Amendment should be inserted, but I think it would be no harm to include some words which would indicate clearly that the internal as well as the external conditions of the industry are to be considered by this body. If the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to consider some such proposal between now and the Report stage, probably my hon. Friend the mover of the Amendment will be satisfied.


We are quite prepared to consult the draftsman again and to take further legal advice, but we are satisfied that these words cover the intention of the Government which is that the committee should deal with costs of production and that would include the consideration mentioned by the hon. Members opposite. If questions of the probabilities of employment and costs of production including the cost of labour in the industry are not covered by the committee, they ought to be covered. We were advised, however, that the wording should be made as wide as possible, but between now and the Report stage we will look into the matter again.


I am very glad that we have had this discussion. In view of the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman and in view also of the fact that we too will consider the point between now and the Report stage, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move, in page 4, line 30, after the word "Minister" to insert the words: as to the effect of this Act on the price of flour and bread, and". This Amendment speaks for itself. In view of the experimental nature of this legislation, which has been referred to by hon. Members who support the Bill, it is of the utmost importance that whatever this Clause means it should be quite certain that the committee which is to be set up to advise the Minister should have in its purview the price of flour and bread and whether that price gees up or down. The Committee will appreciate that if we are to see the full effects of this Bill the advisory committee should be able to look at the price of flour and bread at the time of coming to a, decision and should be able to say whether the standard price laid down in the Bill is stemming the ebb in some manner if the price is going down—whether it is tending to check a lowering in price, or actually increasing the price. In view of the-failure of the Amendment which was supported so forcibly by the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) I submit that this Amendment which seems so innocent is the last thread of the curtain which is to stand between the consumer and the cold wind. The Amendment would seem to have no possible harm from the point of view of the supporters of the Bill unless, indeed, in the event of a rise in price owing to the standard price laid down in the Bill, there was some reason for hiding the facts, and I am sure that the Minister would not be willing at any time to hide the facts. I submit this Amendment therefore for the right hon. Gentleman's serious consideration.


This Amendment ignores the fact that there is already in existence the Food Council set up by the Board of Trade. It is the duty of that body to look into just this kind of problem, and it would be foolish to try to over-ride it. Let me remind the Committee that the persons who are to be selected to deal with these problems and to report upon the circumstances and costs of production and the like, must properly be people with knowledge of agricultural matters and they of themselves would not be the most suitable tribunal to investigate the particular subject which the hon. Member is anxious should be investigated. There is no reason to suppose that the work which the Food Council is at present carrying on, and has been carrying on, will not be continued. Indeed, I think the hon. Member's anxiety is quite unnecessary, and I am unable to accept the Amendment.


I think the Minister himself has shown the necessity for the Amendment. He trotted out the Food Council. Now the Food Council has to teal with profiteering. Their business is to take up cases where it is considered that, owing to economic forces or legislation, bakers or millers have been unduly profiteering. The right hon. Gentle an went on to say that the members of the new committee would be agriculturists who would go into these problems from an agricultural point of view. We want these problems explored not merely from the point of view of the farmer and the agricultural labourer, but from the point of view of the consumer. There is a real and serious danger, especially after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, that that long suffering person the consumer—I will not say will fall between two stools—will be forgotten and left to the mercy of two committees, neither of which is really going to be made responsible, the Food Council and the committee of three whose main duty it will be to deal with the interests of agriculture.

There has been a great mystery as to where this dole—to use the harsh term used by the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor)—or this money is to come from. The Noble Lady rightly says it cannot come from heaven like manna. It must come from somebody, and it is clear that it will come from the taxpayer, because this is neither a Finance Bill nor a tax. Who is to pay it? One could start a very interesting competition by offering a prize to anyone who finds out who will pay this £6,000,000. It is clear it will not be the farmer. The miller will have the first responsibility, and will necessarily pass it on to somebody. I presume he will pass it on to the baker, and the baker will make the public pay. Is it reasonable or unreasonable to ask that after three years experience this committee of three should be charged with the duty of telling this House who pays the £6,000,000? That is what we want to secure by this Amendment. I have been studying the report of the Imperial Economic Committee and I congratulate the Government on bringing out their report of the wheat situation at this psychological moment. They point out, on page 54: British and other European millers use a mixture of different wheats in their grist in order to maintain as far as possible uniformity in quality of flour and bread. They go on to say: In general, soft wheats have a smaller proportion of gluten than hard wheats, but there is no direct relationship between gluten contents and strength.' Owing to the lack of gluten, however, bread made entirely from soft wheats does not rise satisfactorily. What we want to know is whether the result of this Bill and the fact of the miller being required to buy this millable wheat from the farmer will be to alter the character of the bread, because English wheat will be put into the mixture, or will that have no material effect? In 1930 there 'was only 9.1 per cent. in the British miller's mix.


I must point out that the Amendment deals with the price, and not with the quality.

9.30 a.m.


I quite agree, and I will not touch on that point any further. We want to know whether, as the result of the Bill and the fact that the percentage may be increased, prices will go up? It may be, of course, that none of this wheat will go into British flour, but that it will merely mean a subsidy to poultry foods. In that case, of course, the whole position is materially altered, and I think we are entitled to know after three years' experience how far in practice this Bill will affect the price of bread. If after three years' experience the committee say that, somehow or other, by ingenious contrivances and by shifting the burden here, there or somewhere else, it has not affected the price of bread or flour, the whole of the case goes by the wall, and Members of the Government will be justified up to. the hilt. On the other hand, if after three years we should prove to be correct in our forecasts, and it is shown that this Bill in practice means a tax on the greatest necessary of life, namely, bread, and a tax which is, therefore, borne by the poorest in the land in a greater percentage than by the well-to-do, there will be an unanswerable case for the modification, alteration or abolition of this Bill. I attach the greatest importance to the Amendment, and I am sorry the Minister dismissed it so callously, and regarded it as merely a, trivial matter. I can assure him that not only the success of this Bill but largely the success of the Government will be judged by how much the burdens of the poor can be shown to have been increased by the action of the Government. Therefore, I hope these words will be accepted, and, if not, I hope my hon. Friends will press the Amendment to a Division.


The hon. Member who has just spoken suggested there was some mystery as to who was going to pay for the levy, and he even went so far as to say it would be very interesting to offer a prize and get answers from authoritative sources as to where the money was to come from. There is no mystery at all about it, and there is no. need to offer a prize. If the Minister simply likes to consult the trade papers of the corn trade, the millers and the bakers, he can get the answer, and a very unequivocal answer it is. They all agree with one voice that it is the consumer who has to pay. The tax is going to be passed on to the consumer. The Minister's reply to this Amendment is that there is a Food Council in existence which has been set up by the Board of Trade for the very purpose of making inquiries into matters of this sort.

I happen to know something about the position of the Food Council and the price of bread. The Food Council has considered this question on several occasions. It has required the bakers and others to submit figures, and they have snapped their fingers at the Food Council and refused to produce figures. They have gone further, and when the Food Council has stated that a particular figure was a fair, reasonable and just price for bread at any specified period, the bakers, in conjunction with the millers, have again snapped their fingers at the Food Council, and have fixed the price actually higher than that which the Food Council has declared to be reasonable. That has been the case right down to a very recent date and, as a matter of fact, the price of bread is only standing where it is in most of the great towns because of the existence of the co-operative societies whose competitive operations on a large scale have kept the price down to its present level. Were it not for the existence of the co-operative societies, in most towns the price of bread would be at least one halfpenny per quartern above the present price. I will go further and say that in towns where there is no co-operative society, the price is actually now one halfpenny or a penny above the rates which prevail in other areas where the co-operative societies have a large membership and a large trade.

I hope the Al Mister, after all, will see his way to accept the Amendment, and we shall then have what will have a great deal more influence in the country than a, mere pronouncement of the Food Council, namely, a report on the whole subject, and on the proper price of bread in relation to the levy, brought before this House, as a consequence of which a great deal more publicity will be given to it, and there will be an opportunity of creating a larger volume of public opinion on the matter. I am certain that the price of bread will rise. As a matter of fact, the unfortunate baker is obliged to raise the price of bread by a halfpenny a quartern if the price of flour to himself goes up by 3s. 6d. or 4s. A mere mathematical calculation will show that he would lose very heavily indeed if he did not raise the price by a halfpenny when flour was so advanced.

Speaking with a very intimate knowledge of the finances of a number of big bakeries in the Kingdom, I say that even a small change like 2s.—and the Minister talked about 2s. 6d.—might completely overthrow the financial balance of many of the large bakeries if they were not able to pass on that sum. It is not a question of profiteering at all, but of the continued solvency of the bakers. A baker who is conducting operations on a very large scale, if he did not pass on a rise in the price to him of 2s. or 3s., would easily make a deficit on the year of £100,000 to £150,000, and his financial stability would be absolutely destroyed. He would have no option but to pass on this levy to his customers, and we desire that the greatest possible publicity should be secured as a result of the operations of the Measure in respect to the price of bread.


If the Minister is bringing in a bad Bill, he cannot disguise the fact that he is a good man. He has revealed his honesty in the statement that he has made about the nature of the Advisory Committee. He said that by its very nature that committee would be concerned with certain interests, not of the consumers at all, and we are very grateful to the Minister for making that statement, because it shows in a remarkable way the grave danger of this Bill. I think it is a pity that in this House a small increase in the cost of bread has been talked about as if it makes no difference at all, when in fact it makes an enormous difference. Unfortunately, to the great majority of people in this House an increase in the price of bread matters nothing personally. Poor though I am, it does not make a great deal of difference to me, and I do not think there are many poorer Members in this House than I, but there are many poor people in this country to whom the very slightest increase makes an enormous difference. It is essential that this Advisory Committee should from the outset take into consideration the needs of the consumer, and at a later stage I believe that an opportunity will be given for us to alter the nature of the committee, so that it shall contain representatives of the consumers. I do not know why the baking and consuming interests should not be on the committee, and I beg the Minister to accept the Amendment.


I cannot help thinking that the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) has been rather hard on the Minister, who distinctly stated that he would consider the Food Council and that the object of the Food Council was to inquire into these things. Similarly, the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) said that traders and other persons had flouted the Food Council, but the Minister did not say that he was going to flout the Food Council, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will take all these things into consideration, because he is not entirely to be bound by this committee of three. He has distinctly said that there was the Food Council, and no doubt if the Food Council could show that this Measure had definitely increased the price of flour and bread, that would be taken into consideration.


I hope the Minister will reconsider this Amendment, because, after all, it goes to the heart of the whole Bill. Otherwise, the Bill may, I think, very properly be described as a dear food Bill. If the Government are so confident that it will have no effect on the price of bread, there cannot be any objection to putting in these words. They are very confident that the effect will be infinitesimal, but there are many other authorities, and the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) has given an illustration to show that 2s. or 3s. would make a very great difference. I believe that the Bill will have an effect on the price of bread, and probably that is the reason why the Government will not accept these words. But if, on their own showing, this is not a dear food Bill, why not accept the Amendment? If this Measure leads to an increase in the price of bread, we shall be entitled, and hon. Members opposite also will be entitled, to say that we pointed out in this House that the Bill would increase the cost of bread and flour.


There are two observations that I should like to make. One is that if you accept the Amendment, you will have on the committee of three people who are experts in the price of commodities, and what you want are experts on agricultural economy to study this question. My second point is that the Minister promised that, as this Bill was coming before us in three years' time, this House would then be capable of looking after the price of bread.


I do not quite appreciate why the Minister has referred to the Food Council. He said, "There is the Food Council. "We knew the Food Council was there, but what relationship has it to the Minister? As far as we know, it has no relationship whatsoever to him. Does he suggest that he is going to consult the Food Council before he makes any order under this Clause, or does he suggest that this committee will consult the Food Council? If not, what is the good of referring to the Food Council? Can the Minister tell us whether anyone is going to consult the-Food Council at all under this Bill? I presume that his silence means that no one is going to consult them. In fact, I am now convinced that no one is going to consult the Food Council, and, therefore, his reference to them seems to be just a little bit out of place on this Amendment, because if nobody consults them, one can hardly expect them to have any very great effect on the Minister's order which is going to be made as provided at the end of this Sub-section.

We are anxious that when the Minister comes to make an order he should have before him information as to the effect of the Act on the price of flour and bread. Whether he gets it from this committee or from the Food Council, we do not very much mind, but if he really refers seriously to the Food Council as a factor, is he prepared to put into this Clause the words "after consultation with the Food Council"? We are getting so many assurances of things that the Minister will do that we are beginning to get nervous. His memory may be strained. Would it not be better for him to write some of them down, and have them in black and white? It would be so much easier for the right hon. Gentleman to remember that he said that he would consult this. body and that body if it were in black and white in the Act of Parliament. We suggest that unless this reference of the Minister to the Food Council is merely camouflage, he should put into this Clause a statement that he is prepared to consult the Council before he makes an order so that he may ascertain what the effect has been upon the price of bread and flour.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 46; Noes, 263.

Division No. 112.] AYES. [9.46 p.m.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Aske, Sir Robert William Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) McEntee, Valentine L.
Attlee, Clement Richard Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro',W.) Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton
Batey, Joseph Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Groves, Thomas E. Morris, Rhys Hopkin (Cardigan)
Buchanan, George Grundy, Thomas W. Parkinson, John Allen
Cape, Thomas Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Pickering, Ernest H.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Price, Gabriel
Cowan, D. M. Hirst, George Henry Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cripps, Sir Stafford John, William Tinker, John Joseph
Daggar, George Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Kirkwood, David Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Edwards, Charles Lawson, John James Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Logan, David Gilbert
George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Lunn, William TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Sir Percy Harris and Mr. Mallalieu.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Dawson, Sir Philip Joel, Dudley J. Barnato
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Denman, Hon. R. D. Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Ker, J. Campbell
Alexander, Sir William Donner, P. W. Kerr, Hamilton W.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.) Drewe, Cedric Kimball, Lawrence
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Duckworth, George A. V. Knight, Holford
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Duggan, Hubert John Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton
Atkinson, Cyril Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Lees-Jones, John
Bailey, Eric Alfred George Eastwood, John Francis Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Eden, Robert Anthony Lennox-Boyd, A. T.
Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J. Edmondson, Major A. J. Liddall, Walter S.
Balniel, Lord Ednam, Viscount Lindsay, Noel Ker
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Elliston, Captain George Sampson Little, Graham, Sir Ernest
Barclay-Harvey, C. M, Elmley, Viscount Llewellin, Major John J.
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Emrys-Evans, P. V. Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick
Beaumont, Hn. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.) Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Lloyd, Geoffrey
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Loder, Captain J. de Vere
Bird, Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.) Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.) Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.
Borodale, Viscount Everard, W. Lindsay MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)
Bossom, A. C. Fermoy, Lord McCorquodale, M. S.
Boulton, W. W. Fox, Sir Gifford McEwen, Captain J. H. F.
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Fuller, Captain A. G. McKie, John Hamilton
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Ganzoni, Sir John McLean, Major Alan
Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.) Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Macmillan, Maurice Harold
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Gledhill, Gilbert Magnay, Thomas
Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Glossop, C. W. H. Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest
Broadbent, Colonel John Gluckstein, Louis Halle Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Marsden, Commander Arthur
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C,(Berks.,Newb'y) Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Martin, Thomas B.
Browne, Captain A. C. Granville, Edgar Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Buchan, John Graves, Marjorie Millar, Sir James Duncan
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)
Burghley, Lord Greene, William P. C. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Burnett, John George Grenfell, E. C. (City of London) Milne, Charles
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Milne, John Sydney Wardlaw-
Caine, G. R. Hall- Grimston, R. V. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Mitcheson, G. G.
Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley) Gunston, Captain D. W. Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Guy, J. C. Morrison Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)
Carver, Major William H. Hales, Harold K. Moss, Captain H. J.
Cassels, James Dale Hanley, Dennis A. Muirhead, Major A. J.
Castle Stewart, Earl Hartington, Marquess of Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Harttand, George A. Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Edgbaston) Harvey, George (Lambeth,Kenn'gt'n) Normand, Wilfrid Guild
Chotzner, Alfred James Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle) North, Captain Edward T.
Christie, James Archibald Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) O'Connor, Terence James
Clayton, Dr. George C. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Clydesdale, Marquess of Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Ormiston, Thomas
Colfox, Major William Philip Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.
Colville, John Hope, Capt. Arthur O. J. (Aston) Pearson, William G.
Conant, R. J. E. Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge) Penny, Sir George
Cook, Thomas A. Hornby, Frank Petherick, M.
Cooke, Douglas Horobin, Ian M. Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilst'n)
Cooper, A. Duff Horsbrugh, Florence Pike, Cecil F.
Copeland, Ida Howard, Tom Forrest Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Pybus, Percy John
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Hume, Sir George Hopwood Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)
Cross, R. H. Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Crossley, A. C. Hurd, Percy A. Ramsbotham, Herwald
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Iveagh, Countess of Ramsden, E.
Dalkeith, Earl of Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Rea, Walter Russell
Davies, Edward C, (Montgomery) James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H. Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Jesson, Major Thomas E. Reid, David D. (County Down)
Reid, William Allan (Derby) Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell) Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Renwick, Major Gustav A. Shepperson, Sir Ernest W. Thorp, Linton Theodore
Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip Simonds, Oliver Edwin Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U. Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness) Turton, Robert Hugh
Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Skelton, Archibald Noel Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Robinson, John Roland Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D. Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Ropner, Colonel L. Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam) Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Rosbotham, S. T. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.) Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Ross, Ronald D. Smith-Carington, Neville W. Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) Smithers, Waldron Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A. Somervell, Donald Bradley Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-
Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor) Wells, Sydney Richard
Runge, Norah Cecil Soper, Richard Weymouth, Viscount
Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E. Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield,B'tside) Southby, Commander Archibald R. J Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury) Spencer, Captain Richard A. Wills, Wilfrid D.
Salmon, Major Isidore Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Salt, Edward W. Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde) Wise, Alfred R.
Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham) Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland) Womersley, Walter James
Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Stones, James Worthington, Dr. John V.
Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard Storey, Samuel Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Savery, Samuel Servington Strauss, Edward A.
Scone, Lord Sutcliffe, Harold TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Selley, Harry R. Tate, Mavis Constance Lord Erskine and Mr. Blindell.
Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)

I beg to move, in page 4, line 30, to leave out the words "making any alteration in," and to insert instead thereof the word "reducing."

I do not want to pursue an argument that was so effectively made by the Noble Lady the Member for Sutton (Viscountess Astor). The foundation of her argument was that this was a temporary subsidy to tide over the difficult times in agriculture, particularly among the growers of wheat. We want to make it clear in the same way that there shall be no idea of suggestion to the farmer or the agricultural industry that this committee of three should have any power to recommend an increase or even a retention of the present rate of subsidy.




The hon. Member says "Shame." If the hon. Member had the chance he would make the subsidy 65s. That shows how important it is to get the words of the Amendment into the Bill. If by any chance the present Government continued for three years they might get intoxicated with power and appoint a committee of three whose main duty it would be to see that a larger and not a smaller subsidy was given. So I suggest that it should be an instruction to the committee of three to consider "reducing" the subsidy, and if possible bringing it down by a considerable amount. All reports show that there is every prospect of wheat remaining at something like its present level during the next few years. With the development of mechanisation, with the use of the combined reaper and thresher and the opening up of new wheat lands in Canada and Australia, the low level at present prevailing seems likely to continue. Any idea of continuing indefinitely a subsidy of this character is to be deplored. The subsidy can only be justified as a temporary expedient. I do not attach any magic to the word "reducing," but some word of that kind should be Inserted in the Bill. The committee of three should have regard to the principle of wiping out the subsidy gradually, and removing this burden from the shoulders of the miller and the State.


The Amendment supposes that we are to forecast without any real knowledge what is to be the situation three years hence. It would preclude consideration by the committee of the actual circumstances, whether the cost is to be up or down. We may express a pious hope that the cost may be down, but to say that the committee shall not consider the circumstances would be absurd, and I cannot accept the Amendment.


Would the Minister give this Committee any guarantee that there is in his mind, or that will be in the Bill, a provision that 10s. per cwt. is a fixed maximum, or whether, as has been suggested, there is a possibility of increasing as well as reducing the figure? We see no limiting words in the Bill anywhere. Is the 10s. intended to be the maximum?


Quite clearly it is a maximum for the first three years. All I say is that the committee of three will have to consider the whole of the cir- cumstances, and they must not be limited to "reducing." On the facts of the case the figure may be up or down. Everybody may hope that it may be down. It will come before Parliament, and Parliament will be able to say whether it agrees.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 236; Noes, 40.

Division No. 113.] AYES. [10.3 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Everard, W. Lindsay Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Fox, Sir Gifford Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Fuller, Captain A. G. Normand, Wilfrid Guild
Alexander, Sir William Ganzoni, Sir John North, Captain Edward T.
Allan, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.) Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. sir John O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Aske, Sir Robert William Gledhill, Gilbert Ormiston, Thomas
Atkinson, Cyril Glossop, C. W. H. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.
Bailey, Eric Alfred George Gluckstein, Louis Halle Pearson, William G.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Goldie, Noel B. Penny, Sir George
Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J. Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Petherick, M.
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,Bilst'n)
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Pike, Cecil F.
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Graves, Marjorie Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.
Beaumont, Hn. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.) Greene, William P. C. Pybus, Percy John
Bernays, Robert Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Grimston, R. V. Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)
Bird, Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W) Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Borodale, Viscount Guy, J. C. Morrison Ramsbotham, Herwald
Bossom, A. C. Hales, Harold K. Ramsden, E.
Boulton, W. W. Hanley, Dennis A. Rea, Walter Russell
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenn'gt'n) Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle) Reid, David D. (County Down)
Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.) Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Reid, William Allan (Derby.)
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Headlam, Lieut.-Col Cuthbert M. Renwick, Major Gustav A.
Broadbent, Colonel John Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks.,Newb'y) Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge) Robinson, John Roland
Browne, Captain A. C. Hornby, Frank Ropner, Colonel L.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Horobin, Ian M. Rosbotham, S. T.
Burghley, Lord Horsbrugh, Florence Ross, Ronald D.
Caine, G. R. Hall- Howard, Tom Forrest Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney,N.) Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.
Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley) Hume, Sir George Hopwood Runge, Norah Cecil
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Carver, Major William H. Hurd, Percy A. Russell, Harriet Field (Sheffield,B'tside)
Cassels, James Dale Iveagh, Countess of Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Castle Stewart, Earl Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Salmon, Major Isidore
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H. Salt, Edward W.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Jesson, Major Thomas E. Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Christie, James Archibald Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard
Clayton, Dr. George C. Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Savery, Samuel Servington
Clydesdale, Marquess of Ker, J. Campbell Scone, Lord
Colfox, Major William Philip Kerr, Hamilton W. Selley, Harry R.
Colville, John Kimball, Lawrence Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Conant, R. J. E. Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Cook, Thomas A. Lees-Jones, John Shepporson, Sir Ernest W.
Cooke, Douglas Leighton, Major B. E. P. Simmonds, Oliver Edwin
Cooper, A. Duff Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)
Copeland, Ida Liddall, Walter S. Skelton, Archibald Noel
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Lindsay, Noel Ker Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Cross, R. H. Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine,C.)
Crossley, A. C. Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Somervell, Donald Bradley
Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery) McCorquodale, M. S. Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Davies, Maj. Geo.F.(Somerset,Yeovil) McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Soper, Richard
Dawson, Sir Philip McKie, John Hamilton Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. McLean, Major Alan Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Donner, P. W. Magnay, Thomas Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Drewe, Cedric Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)
Duckworth, George A. V. Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
Duggan Hubert John Marsden, Commander Arthur Stones, James
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Martin, Thomas B. Storey, Samuel
Eastwood, John Francis Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Strauss, Edward A,
Eden, Robert Anthony Millar, Sir James Duncan Sutcliffe, Harold
Edmondson, Major A. J. Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.) Tate, Mavis Constance
Elliston, Captain George Sampson Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Elmley, Viscount Milne, Charles Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Mitcheson, G. G. Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres Thorp, Linton Theodore
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.) Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Moss, Captain H. J. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.) Muirhead, Major A. J. Turton, Robert Hugh
Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey) Weymouth, Viscount Womersley, Walter James
Wallace, John (Dunfermline) Whiteside, Borras Noel H. Worthington, Dr. John V.
Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend) Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay) Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock) Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Warrender, Sir Victor A. G. Wills, Wilfrid D. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Watt, Captain George Steven H. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward
Wells, Sydney Richard Wise, Alfred R. Mr. Blindell.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Lunn, William
Attlee, Clement Richard Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Batey, Joseph Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) McEntee, Valentine L.
Briant, Frank Groves, Thomas E. Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Grundy, Thomas W. Morris, Rhys Hopkin (Cardigan)
Buchanan, George Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Parkinson, John Allen
Cape, Thomas Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Price, Gabriel
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Hirst, George Henry Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cowan, D. M. John, William Tinker, John Joseph
Cripps, Sir Stafford Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Daggar, George Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Kirkwood, David Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lawson, John James
Edwards, Charles Logan, David Gilbert TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Sir Percy Harris and Mr. Mallalieu.

I beg to move, in page 5, line 12, to leave out the word "twenty-seven" and to insert instead thereof the word "thirty-six."

In the Bill there are two factors controlling the acreage which will be put under wheat in the future. One is the price, and I will not deal with that except to say that to my mind the controlling factor of price would be adequate without any other control whatever, because if the price is one at which the farmer can grow wheat profitably he will do so, and if it is not he will not do so. But in the Bill there is another control, and that is a limitation of the acreage to be grown. I wish to increase the limitation of 27,000,000 cwts., which is the figure in the Bill, to 36,000,000 cwts., thus providing for additional acreage. If any limit is to be placed in the Bill the present one is far too low; and that is not assuming that all land which is suitable for wheat cultivation will be cultivated as wheat land. It is impossible to say what area should be placed under wheat; that will have to be left to the farmer himself to decide, and it will be decided, as I have said, largely on the question of the price; but from those who have first-hand information I am led to believe that 6,000,000 qrs. is too low a figure, and that it would be very much better to increase it, if there is to be a limit.


This Amendment raises the question of the acreage. I would point out that the present limit in the Bill represents 5 per cent. of the average crop of 1,800,000 acres. As I explained in my Second Reading speech, we desire to place a limit upon the acreage, because, in the first place, taking pre-War years, we thought 6,000,000 qrs. represented a sound figure. Anything we do to increase that 6,000,000 qrs. increases the levy on flour, and we are not prepared to go above 6,000,000.

Amendment negatived.


I beg to move, in page 5, line 20, to leave out the words "seven and a half," and to insert instead thereof the word "ten."

This Amendment should be read in conjunction with the next Amendment standing in my name on the Order Paper—in line 21, after the word "will," to insert the words "represent wastage or." I think 10 per cent. is the usually accepted figure.


The hon. Member may discuss the two Amendments together.


I think 7½ per cent. is the figure which is generally accepted as necessary for seed purposes, although if we took the figures of the parable when the crop was increased 50-fold or 100-fold that percentage might be considerably decreased. In the case of some of the recent scientifically developed varieties, the yield would be greater. In addition to deductions for seed purposes, a percentage ought to be set aside for wastage. We have heard to-day from hon. Members opposite a great deal about the destruction of wheat caused by vermin, and there is no doubt that, what- ever precautions the farmer takes, however careful he may be and whatever means he may adopt to rid his farm of vermin, he cannot wholly succeed, so that a certain percentage of wastage from that cause alone is inevitable.

There is also wastage from other causes, such as birds, damp, rain and so on, and I have gathered, from conversations with persons farming on a big scale, that they consider that a minimum figure for such wastage is somewhere in the neighbourhood of from 2½ per cent. to 5 per cent. It may be, and commonly is, very much heavier than that, and from 2½ per cent. to 5 per cent. is really an under-estimate of the amount that ought to be allowed. I suggest that it is not right that the bread consumer should have to pay, as it were, for wheat that is not there, or has actually been lost or destroyed, it may be through no fault of the farmer, or, possibly, through the fault of the farmer. If the figure be raised from 7½ per cent. to 10 per cent., it will still be an underestimate of the real position. This Amendment proposes that the Minister shall take the figure of 10 per cent. when he is calculating the anticipated supply for the cereal year.


It is not possible to accept this Amendment, and I think the reason will be seen when I explain the situation. In the first place, I think that everyone would agree that 7½ per cent. is the appropriate figure for seed throughout the country. Each year an account will have to be taken, not only of wastage, but also of other wheat which is not fit for market, and it will be the duty—


Is the Minister referring to millable wheat, or to non-millable wheat?


When one speaks of the anticipated supply, it implies the quantity available for market, and necessarily excludes the quantity which will not be so available. Obviously, that covers such questions as wastage. To try to stereotype this at a definite figure would be unsound, even from the point of view of the object which I understand the hon. Member wishes to achieve. I am satisfied that we must allow for the amount of wheat wasted, and that an account must be taken of it, so that the figure ought to be left movable.


I do not quite understand, from what the right hon. Gentleman has said, how this is going to work. The Minister has to estimate, I understand, the quantity of home-grown mill-able wheat. That, obviously, will not include wheat that is not of millable quality, whatever that may be according to the definition which we shall hear later on. But, in making his estimate, he is clearly going to include that portion of the millable wheat which is used for seed—that is 7½ per cent. He is going to include that in the first instance, and then he is going to assume that 7½ per cent. is deducted for the purpose of arriving at the seed. When he makes his estimate, he will presumably estimate what has not yet bean threshed out; therefore, there will be in his estimate not only the seed wheat but also some wastage wheat, some millable wheat, which in fact will never get to the market. Suppose that, in making his estimate, he assumes that there will be 30,000,000 cwts. of millable wheat, he will take off his 7½ per cent. and reduce it to 27,750,000 cwts. That 27,750,000 cwts., if he has been accurate in his estimate of 30,000,000 cwts., will never in fact be marketed, because there is bound to be at least 2½ per cent, wastage, so that, if he wants to arrive at an accurate figure, he really admits, by the deduction of the 7½ per cent., that he has to make a deduction for seed, and he must inevitably make a similar deduction for wastage that must occur if he is going eventually to arrive at an accurate figure, unless he is going to say, "Although I know wastage will occur, yet I am going to pay on the basis that it will not occur."

What we ask him to do is to accept the fact, which he cannot get out of, that there must be wastage and, if he is going to make his guess at the anticipated supply without deducting a figure for wastage first, to make a deduction for wastage after he has made his guess at the anticipated supply. I feel certain that he will agree that it is a perfectly accurate thing to do to make the deduction for wastage, unless he assures us that, when he first makes his estimate of anticipated supply, he is going to take the wastage out. [Interruption.] Then why does he not take his seed out in anticipation [Interruption.] So is the wastage of millable wheat. You can make your anticipation on the basis of only anticipating what will actually be sold as millable wheat. That we understand. In that case, you do not take 7½ per cent. for seed. If you are going to estimate the total quality of millable wheat available but not sold, you must make a deduction for the seed, but you must also make a deduction for the wastage that, will occur between the time when you make your guess at the anticipated supply and when it actually gets on to the market. Unless you make that deduction, your anticipated supply will always be greater than the actual amount that is sold by the amount of the wastage. I do not think it is possible to get out of that. Once you admit the position that deduction for seed wheat has to be made from your anticipated supply, you must also make the deduction for wastage. Otherwise, if you are going to anticipate your supply only anticipating what is going to be sold on the market, you do not want either deduction but, if you have one, you must have both, and we ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider that before Report and see whether it is not really logical either to have both things deducted or neither in making the anticipation.


I do not think we are very far apart. As I understand it, we are all alive to the fact that we must make an allowance for wastage. What we demur to is being tied down definitely to 2½ per cent. I am quite willing to look into it between now and Report.

10.30 p.m.


The hon. Member for Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) wishes to make the 7½ per cent. 10 per cent. What are the facts? The average yield of wheat is four quarters, or 32 bushels, and the amount of seed sown is two bushels per acre. Therefore, the figure of 61 per cent. will be used for seed in this country. Upon those figures, I submit, the Minister has adopted the right and correct figure in 7½ per cent.


In view of the final reply of the Minister and his undertaking to consider the matter between now and the Report stage, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


Does the hon. Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb) desire to move the next Amendment, in line 23?


Yes, Sir.


I must ask the hon. Member to bear in mind his previous Amendment and to differentiate this Amendment from it, and not to repeat the discussion which took place on the previous Amendment.


I beg to move, in page 5, line 23, at the end, to add the words: Provided also that not later than the first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-five, the Minister shall appoint a committee of three persons who, after considering all available evidence in regard to the increase or diminution of the area under wheat cultivation in the United Kingdom shall report to the Minister as to the desirability of making any alteration in the aforesaid maximum figure of the anticipated supply and if that committee make to the Minister a recommendation that the maximum figure should be altered the Minister may by order substitute for the figure aforesaid as from the first day of August, nineteen hundred and thirty-five, such figure as may be specified in the Order, but the order shall be provisional only and shall have no effect until confirmed by Parliament. I am obliged to you, Sir Dennis, for giving me advice, and I shall be very pleased to follow it. The Amendment is really an alternative for the previous Amendment. The Bill now gives a maximum of 27,000,000 cwts., and the Amendment which I propose will have the effect, although the 27,000,000 cwts, still remain, of giving the Minister the right, on the recommendation of the committee, to propose to the House that, if circumstances should arise and it was necessary, there should be an increase in the area allowed to be planted with wheat. It would be an advantage, because it would not leave the Bill so absolutely rigid with regard to the area, it would give the Minister a certain amount of freedom and would avoid the necessity of an amending Bill when the Measure becomes an Act.


I wish to support the Amendment. Our Amendments on this Bill are for the purpose of making the Bill more useful and to strengthen it in order to obtain what is desired by those in whose interests it has been brought forward. The Amendments moved by hon. Members opposite are for the purpose of weakening the Bill and that is the difference of outlook of hon. Members opposite from the outlook of hon. Members on this side. The purpose of the Bill is to make up a deficiency of payment to the grower of wheat up to a figure of 45s. We wish to help the Bill to attain that end and therefore we desire to give a power in the future to the committee to increase the figure from 27,000,000 cwts to some higher figure of what may be considered to be the anticipated supply. The Committee must recollect that for many years wheat growing has not been a paying proposition, and that the acreage under wheat has decreased considerably. The Bill is going to help the wheat-grower, and it will increase the acreage under wheat for the good of the country. When that happens I desire power to be given to the committee still to carry on the good work of the Measure, and to increase the figure for which we now ask.


I appreciate the interest of my hon. Friends on this matter, but, as I understand the Amendment, it would, in effect, mean the setting up of an additional committee to that which we have already instituted, and indeed the Committee of this House has already decided that the 6,000,000 quarters shall not be dealt with by the committee which we have already brought into force. Therefore, I regretfully tell my hon. Friends that I cannot accept the Amendment.


With regard to the restriction of crop, I would ask the Minister to realise that he is legislating for depressed agriculture. In the future we hope to have an agriculture which will expand, and if the Amendment were accepted it would give an opportunity to the agricultural industry to look forward to something on which to strengthen and build up this side of farming. If we have no provision of this sort in the Bill, we shall cramp the industry inside a circumscribed area. It will not have an opportunity of expanding, but if, on the other hand, the farmers who have an opportunity of working under this Bill can show to the country and to our friends in the Labour party, very definitely, that they are in a position to produce wheat as well as and better than the rest of the world, then, if that prophecy comes true, they ought to have an opportunity of coming to this House, on the recommendation of an impartial committee, and of showing what they can do. If they have demonstrated their ability to do that, they deserve the attention of this House being directed to an expansion of the industry.

The main object of the Government is to give further employment to our people, and if we can find in this industry an opportunity of employing more and more people, I submit that the Minister ought to give very careful consideration to an Amendment of this sort. It is as Amendment which leaves this House the full power, after a recommendation has been made, of coming to a definite decision. I hope that between now and the Report stage a serious consideration of the Amendment may be made and that an opportunity will be afforded to agriculturists of expanding their industry, if they prove their efficiency to the whole nation.


I would appeal to the Minister not finally to close his mind to the subject raised by the Amendment. I hope that we may do something in this Bill which may avoid the necessity of amending legislation later on. It is true that the fixation of 45s. as the standard price does in fact regulate the quantity. The Bill does not say that if more than 27,000,000 cwts. are available what is in excess will not attract payment in respect of what we call the deficiency payment; it will do so, but as the production of available wheat goes beyond the 27,000,000 cwts. the net effect is really to reduce the standard price. If we assume that the present costs of production remain unaltered, and if we assume, as we are entitled to assume, that the fixing of 27,000,000 cwts. is in relation to the 45s., having regard to the existing costs of production, the Minister would be right in asking what is the need to have an inquiry into the quantity, because an inquiry into price automatically fixes the quantity.

I will not go into the arithmetical argument, because it is obvious, but I will ask the Minister to consider what may arise if an entirely new condition exists in regard to the costs of production. Earlier in the Debate certain hon. Members spoke about mechanisation. Some were nervous because they thought that mechanisation would diminish em- ployment. I entirely dissent from that point of view. I have never believed that an increase in the efficiency of production diminishes employment. I am certain that, in the long run, it increases employment. The only way that mankind rises from the mud is by increasing his production.


The hon. Member is getting a long way from the Amendment.


I was trying to illustrate my point. I was following an argument which was made earlier in the Debate, when you were not in the Chair, and I apologise for trespassing. If mechanisation alters permanently the costs of our production in relation to the costs of production in other countries, then the formula which relates the 45s. to the 27,000,000 quarters is broken, and, if that situation arises, it is much better that a committee should revise the position in the light of the new circumstances. I have no desire to press the Government at this stage, but I hope the right hon. Gentleman will examine that aspect of the problem before the Report stage.

Amendment negatived.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill."


I am sure that hon. Members will not complain if we make one or two observations before we part with Clause 2. There are one or two points upon which we desire a reply from the Minister of Agriculture. Let me first of all draw his attention to what we have been witnessing during the last half hour. Hon. Members representing agricultural divisions have clearly indicated that although the Bill is designed to increase the acreage under wheat by approximately 50 per cent. they are not satisfied and are demanding more. They are not content with the price fixed in the Bill; they are demanding more. We are, therefore, somewhat apprehensive as to the net result of this Bill when outside pressure will become a dominating factor. We regret that the right hon. Gentleman has not seen fit to limit the period of the duration of the Bill, except to say that at the end of three years the position will be reviewed. Anything up to £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 is to be placed at the disposal of agriculture, but the right hon. Gentleman is unwilling to limit its duration. He was also disinclined to accept a sliding scale on the standard price, but we learned later on during the evening, when an Amendment was moved by a section of the Liberal party, that the Minister has reserved the right at the end of three years to increase the guaranteed price by 10s. per qr. We have therefore every reason to be apprehensive as to the actual outcome of the Bill.

In regard to the suggestion that the extra price of the loaf would fall on the consumer, the right hon. Gentleman replied that there was the Food Council on one side, to which an appeal could always be made. The right lion. Gentleman on Second Reading said that the net increase in the cost of the loaf would be almost infinitesimal—that there might be an increase of a farthing for some weeks of the year and for the rest of the year, practically no increase at all. Here are the figures of the Food Council, the body to which the right hon. Gentleman himself has referred. In 1925 the Food Council fixed what they described as a maximum scale of reasonable bread prices. When the price of standard flour, per sack of 280 lbs., was 20s. to 24s., the reasonable price of bread was to be 6½d. per quartern loaf; when the price of flour was 24s. to 28s. it was to be 7½d. per quartern loaf, and when the price of flour was 28s. 6d. to 32s., 7½d. per quartern loaf. The present price is 26s. 6d., and if under the terms of the Bill the increase of 2s. per bag takes place then according to the Food Council another halfpenny would be reasonable and we should have a 7½d. quartern loaf. Everyone who has studied the Bill knows that 2s. will not be the maximum but that it may well be 3s. 6d. per bag, and, therefore, on the basis of the Food Council's figures, a minimum of a halfpenny a loaf will be put on the quartern loaf as a result of the Bill.

The right hon. Gentleman failed to reply to a point which I submitted earlier. I said that the guaranteed price gave a 333 per cent. increase on the average which existed between 1911 and 1913 for the price of wheat. Will he tell us why he guarantees 33⅓ per cent. for one agricultural commodity when for the whole range of agricultural commodities the average is only 22 per cent. over pre-War figures? We fear that giving a bigger in- crease for wheat than for any other commodity is likely to divert activity in uneconomic directions instead of the reverse. The right hon. Gentleman has informed us that the committee which is being set up will be of an economic nature. Will he tell us something of the constitution of the committee, who they are likely to be, where they are likely to be drawn from, and what their functions are going to be? Under Sub-section (2) of the Clause their powers are almost unlimited in the sense that they will be able, after three years, to recommend an increase in the guaranteed price of 10s. per cwt. Before giving a blank cheque to a committee of that kind we ought to know something more about it than we do. These points call for a reply from the right hon. Gentleman. I hope he will recognise that hon. Members on these benches are apprehensive of an increase in the cost of living of their constituents, who in many cases are living in dire poverty. In these circumstances, we are entitled to have some justification for the policy of the Government.

The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Major Sir Archibald Sinclair)

I should like to assure the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken that not even he or any of his friends could have been more careful in considering the possibility and the risk that this Bill might conceivably involve an increase in the cost of living than the Government have been. That is a matter which at once received our most careful attention, and it is only as the result, not merely of long thought, but of the most careful calculations of all the expert advisers we have been able to call into consultation, that we are able to come to this House and say confidently that this will not have the evil effect which the hon. Member apprehends in the cost of living. He said that if you took the price now it is possible, if there was a rise of 2s. in wheat flour, it might raise the cost of the 4-lb. loaf by a halfpenny and the 2-lb. loaf by one farthing. That is true, because the hon. Member takes it at this moment. The fact remains that the price moves in brackets of 4s., and you have to take, not merely the particular situation in which we find ourselves at this moment, but the situation over the whole year. We have applied these figures to the situation as it would have been last year, if the Bill had then been in operation, and I repeat what my right hon. Friend has said, that if this Bill had then been in operation, the actual difference to the price of the 2-lb. loaf would have been one farthing in 11 weeks out of the 52 weeks.


Can he say how much that represents in pounds—how many million pounds of subsidy?


Obviously, I cannot give that by a process of mental arithmetic while I am standing on my feet. I can only assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that these calculations have been very carefully considered, and, if the Bill as it now stands had been in operation last year, it would have had the result that in 11 weeks out of the 52 weeks bread would have been one farthing more on the 2-lb. loaf. It was put very well by the hon. Member for Maldon (Colonel Ruggles-Brise) when he said the difference would be that a fall in price would come a week or two later than it would if there were no quota scheme and a rise would be a week or two sooner. Then the hon. Member asked me about the constitution of the committee. Frankly, I cannot tell him that now. It is very early days to think about that as the committee is not going to function for three years. It will be a matter on which the House will be entitled to be consulted and which could be raised on the Minister's salary. It will be a matter on which there will be neither any possibility nor any desire on the part of my right hon. Friend to conceal information from this House when the time comes. The hon. Member said, as we have heard more than once, that this will be a kind of protection for inefficiency. There can be no greater incentive than this Bill offers to those who wish to take advantage of modern methods of cultivation and to progress along those lines which many of us, perhaps not all of us, think will be the only lines on which cereal cultivation in this country can be securely based—the line of mechanisation.


Perhaps the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will note the point I made, namely, that the guaranteed price is 33⅓ per cent. in excess of the average between 1911 and 1913 for wheat, while for all other agricultural commodities the average price is 22 per cent. in excess of the average between 1911 and 1913. My point is, therefore, that because of the guaranteed price in the case of wheat being higher than that of all other agricultural commodities, we may divert the farmer into wrong directions.


You have two safeguards. You have the price and the acreage. If too many farmers come in and too much of an acreage is grown, then the amount of the deficiency payment is lowered and the individual farmer is no longer able to obtain the full benefit of the guaranteed price. Then the hon. Member referred to the question of the increase of over 50 per cent. of the acreage of wheat now planted, but he has taken the very lowest year, almost, in the history of the country. He has taken a year after a whole series of years of acute depression and grave difficulty in the industry, and the maximum which is provided for under this Bill of 1,800,000 acres of wheat is by no means excessive, having regard to the history of wheat cultivation and of cereal farming in this country, and, having regard to the number of acres in which it is difficult to dispense altogether with wheat as one crop in the rotation, I think the estimate of 1,800,000 acres is not by any means excessive.

The hon. Member referred to the question of limiting the period and the sliding scale. For my part, I am quite convinced that this Measure will be a temporary Measure, and I will give the hon. Member my reasons. It is a matter of opinion, based upon an appreciation of the facts of the situation. You have, on the one hand, the possibility that prices may rise. If prices rise, as they rise, these quota payments are gradually extinguished, and if and when the price should reach 45s., the quota would be gone. On the other hand, prices may fall, and if prices fall, if you have masses of wheat falling in at very low prices. If mechanisation develops, if you have, as a result of the incentive provided in this Bill, a great development of mechanisation, and if you have a large number of farmers who will be able to reduce their costs to some of the figures that have been mentioned, at that point obviously, in three years' time, when this new com- mittee begins to sit and it finds that a large section of the British cereal farming industry have managed to base themselves upon mechanisation, and produce at this sort of price and make a huge profit out of the Measure, then no one would continue this Measure, no House of Commons could face doing so.

11.0 p.m.

The temporary character of the Bill is quite clear for those reasons, unless, contrary to the views of hon. Members opposite, the economic situation remains static, which is most unlikely. If it does, there may be a case for the continuance of the Bill, but I agree that there is no conceivable likelihood of that. The hon. Member is very apprehensive, and hon. Members opposite have been appealing to us to give undertakings that the Bill shall be temporary, and so on. But it is they who ought to be giving the undertakings. Let them take a little heart. Let them not be so depressed. I do not underestimate the importance of caution, though many of us thought that the Labour Party when in office overdid that virtue. Do not let them make the same mistake in Opposition. Let them show a little more boldness. They surely might give some of these assurances with a little more self-confidence. At any rate, I feel sure that the case which my right hon. Friend has urged at every stage in the discussion on this Clause has commended itself to the Committee. Dr. Addison, the late Minister of Agriculture, was himself devoted to the principle of this Bill, and I am sure that Members in all parts of the Committee will unite in helping to pass it.


I was rather surprised at the right hon. Gentleman talking about caution after his recent speech in Scotland. I just want to say this in order that there may be no mistake. The Bill does not incorporate any principle, as far as I know, that was laid down by Dr. Addison. It defies all the principles that were laid down by him by giving a blank cheque for a subsidy, whereas any scheme which he ever put forward of which I ever bad any knowledge was one that was most carefully fenced round by protective measures for all classes of the community, and was essentially temporary in its nature with a declining scale of subsidy at different periods. It, is that which is one of the main criticisms which is being levelled at this Clause, not only by members of the Labour party but by instructed members of the National party—people who are instructed because they know something about farming. I notice that the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has throughout these Debates been at great pains to persuade himself that this is a temporary Measure, but he has not persuaded anyone else as far as we can make out. He has not persuaded the Minister of Agriculture, and he might start charity at home by trying a little persuasion there. Nor has he persuaded any of the Tory Members that this is a temporary Measure.

Really, if he wants to convince people that he is right, why does he not put into the Bill some perfectly clear statement that it is a temporary Measure, and let Parliament decide at the end of a period whether they want another one like it. That is a perfectly simple and honest way to do matters, but the right hon. Gentleman will not persuade us or the country by giving us ingenious arguments to show why this Bill must, because of economic circumstances, and because of this, that and the other, come to the end at the end of a certain period. If he believes that it ought to be of a temporary nature, why does he not put a provision in the Bill?

I asked him if he could give us a figure of how much this farthing a week on the

loaf for 11 weeks amounted to. As I worked out rapidly the figures that he gave us, it means that somewhere between four-fifths and three-quarters of the subsidy is to be paid by the bakers and millers, and only one-fifth or one quarter, on his calculation, will be paid by the consumers. From what we have heard and seen in the Press which deals with the interests of the bakers and millers, they do not seem so far to have accepted the view that they are going to supply four-fifths of the subsidy. I should be surprised if even the eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman can persuade them that they, and not the consumer, are going to be the main charitable source for the farmer. because if it is only a farthing for 11 weeks that the loaf is going up, on the figures of the Minister, on an increase of 2s. 7d. per sack in the price of flour, if you equate this out you will find that about four-fifths of the total subsidy of £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 will have to be paid by the miller or baker. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to use his persuasive powers and make them realise what a great benefit they have now been given the opportunity of conferring on the community.

Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 266; Noes, 41.

Division No. 114.] AYES. [11.6 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Brocklebank, C. E. R. Dawson, Sir Philip
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks., Newb'y) Donner, P. W.
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Browne, Captain A. C. Drewe, Cedric
Alexander, Sir William Buchan, John Duckworth, George A. V.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.) Buchan-Hepburn, p. G. T. Duggan, Hubert John
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Burghley, Lord Duncan, James A.L.(Kensington, N.)
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Eastwood, John Francis
Aske, Sir Robert William Caine, G. R. Hall- Eden, Robert Anthony
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Edmondson, Major A. J.
Bailey, Eric Alfred George Campbell, Rear-Admiral G. (Burnley) Ednam, Viscount
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Caporn, Arthur Cecil Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.
Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J. Carver, Major William H. Elliston, Captain George Sampson
Balniel, Lord Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Elmley, Viscount
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgbaston) Emrys-Evans, P. V.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Christie, James Archibald Entwistle, Cyril Fullard
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Clayton, Dr. George C. Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blk'pool)
Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.) Colfox, Major William Philip Essenhigh, Reginald Clare
Bernays, Robert Colman, N. C. D. Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Conant, R. J. E. Everard, W. Lindsay
Bird Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.) Cook, Thomas A. Fermoy, Lord
Blindell, James Cooke, Douglas Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst
Borodale, Viscount Cooper, A. Duff Fox, Sir Gifford
Bossom, A. C. Copeland, Ida Fuller, Captain A. G.
Boulton, W. W. Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Ganzoni, Sir John
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Cross, R. H. Gledhill, Gilbert
Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald Crossley, A. C. Glossop, C. W. H.
Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.) Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Gluckstein, Louis Halle
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Dalkeith, Earl of Golf, Sir Park
Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery) Goldie, Noel B.
Broadbent, Colonel John Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Goodman, Colonel Albert W.
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Marsden, Commander Arthur Salmon, Major Isidore
Greene, William P. C. Martin, Thomas B. Salt, Edward W.
Grenfell, E. C. (City of London) Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Grimston, R. V, Millar, Sir James Duncan Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard
Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.) Savery, Samuel Servington
Gunston, Captain D. W. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Scone, Lord
Guy, J. C. Morrison Milne, Charles Selley, Harry R.
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k) Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Hales, Harold K. Mitcheson, G. G. Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Hanley, Dennis A. Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Hartington, Marquess of Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Simmonds, Oliver Edwin
Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n) Moreing, Adrian C. Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)
Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle) Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.) Skelton, Archibald Noel
Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Moss, Captain H. J. Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Muirhead, Major A. J. Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Newton, Sir Douglas George C. Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Hope, Capt. Arthur O. J. (Aston) Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth) Somervell, Donald Bradley
Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge) Normand, Wilfrid Guild Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Hornby, Frank North, Captain Edward T. Soper, Richard
Horobin, Ian M. Nunn, William Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.
Horsbrugh, Florence O'Connor, Terence James Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. O'Donovan, Dr. William James Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.) Oman, Sir Charles William C. Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.
Hicks, Ernest George O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)
Hume, Sir George Hopwood Ormiston, Thomas Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A. Stones, James
Iveagh, Countess of Pearson, William G. Storey, Samuel
Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Penny, Sir George Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
James, Wing-Com. A. w. H. Petherick, M. Sutcliffe, Harold
Jesson, Major Thomas E. Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bilston) Tate, Mavis Constance
Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Pike, Cecil F. Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H. Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Ker, J. Campbell Pybus, Percy John Thorp, Linton Theodore
Kerr, Hamilton W. Raikes, Henry V. A. M. Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Kimball, Lawrence Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich) Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R. Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) Turton, Robert Hugh
Lees-Jones, John Ramsbotham, Herwald Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Ramsden, E. Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Rea, Walter Russell Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Liddall, Walter S. Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter) Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Llewellin, Major John J. Reid, David D. (County Down) Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick Reid, William Allan (Derby) Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-
Lloyd, Geoffrey Rentoul, Sir Gervais S. Wells, Sydney Richard
Loder, Captain J. de Vere Renwick, Major Gustav A. Weymouth, Viscount
Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Lymington, Viscount Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Robinson, John Roland Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon S.
McConnell, Sir Joseph Ropner, Colonel L. Wills, Wilfrid D.
McCorquodale, M. S. Rosbotham, S. T. Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Ross, Ronald D. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
McKie, John Hamilton Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) Wise, Alfred R.
McLean, Major Alan Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A. Womersley, Walter James
Macmillan, Maurice Harold Runge, Norah Cecil Worthington, Dr. John V.
Magnay, Thomas Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury) Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward
and Lord Erskine.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro, W.) Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton
Attlee, Clement Richard Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot
Batey, Joseph Grundy, Thomas W. Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)
Briant, Frank Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Morris, Rhys Hopkin (Cardigan)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Parkinson, John Allen
Buchanan, George Harris, Sir Percy Price, Gabriel
Cape, Thomas Hirst, George Henry Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Tinker, John Joseph
Cripps, Sir Stafford Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Daggar, George Kirkwood, David Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Lawson, John James Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Logan, David Gilbert
Edwards, Charles Lunn, William TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Mr. John and Mr. Groves.
Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) McEntee, Valentine L.

I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

I wish to ask the Minister how far he intends to go to-night. We have made very good progress with the Bill to-day. Perhaps the Minister will tell us how long he intends to keep the Committee sitting to-night.


I do not intend to ask the Committee to sit till a late hour, but we must make progress with the Bill. If we make some progress with Clause 3 to-night, we shall have so much less to do to-morrow. Of course I am anxious to meet the wishes of the Opposition, and I would suggest that we should sit until somewhere about midnight.


Is it not possible for us to adjourn now? If the Opposition decides to oppose, very little progress will be made with Clause 3. I think that the best way to make progress is to consult the Opposition and see if some arrangement cannot be arrived at to make progress on Clause 3 to-morrow. Clauses 1 and 2 are a great proportion of the Bill and are very contentious portions. Clause 3 does not contain so much of importance. There has been very little opposition to-day; in fact, the Opposition have been assisting. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to adjourn the Debate now, and let us make reasonable progress to-morrow.


If we make progress on Clause 3 down to the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter)—in page 5, line 40, to leave out from the beginning to the end of line 7, page 6—I shall be content.


I beg to ask leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.