§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
There is a similarity between this Bill and the Bill that we have just passed, in that they are both concerned with a rate and a date. Otherwise, there is no connection. I will make clear the circumstances which led to the introduction of the Bill. In 1931 Mr. Shinwell, then Secretary for Mines, on behalf of the Labour Government was proceeding with his Bill to extend the levy for five years, 1398 but there was very grave difference of opinion in the industry about two things, first, the amount of the levy, and, secondly, its duration. That difference of opinion also became acute in Standing Committee C[...]upstairs. The miners took the view that the levy should remain at one penny and the owners thought that it should come down to one farthing or perhaps one-eighth of a penny. It was recognised by Mr. Shinwell that in the economic condition of the industry there was a case to be examined, and it was a grave case. I will read Mr. Shinwell's words later.
The late Sir Donald Maclean had made a suggestion that between the penny on the one hand and the farthing or one-eighth of a penny on the other a compromise might be arrived at, and that compromise became the compromise of the majority of the Welfare Inquiry Com- 1399 mittee's report, and is embodied in this Bill. Sir Donald made a speech, to the terms of which I may refer later if necessary, and suggested that a compromise might be accepted, but Mr. Shinwell could not accept it. Speaking in Standing Committee C, on the 24th March, 1931, Mr. Shinwell said:I would say to my hon. Friends, and particularly to those who represent mining constituencies and are interested in the mining industry, that there is a case for very careful consideration of the whole question of administration, the amount of the fund, and, more particularly, whether the fund should be of a permanent or of a temporary character. I could expand my remarks considerably on that head were it necessary to do so, because I have very decided views about it. It appears to me, if I may say this in passing, that if you have to deal with a fund of a permanent character, for one thing you do not require to impose the same amount of levy, and it is possible to reduce it; and, moreover, you can plan ahead, having the assurance that the fund at no time is likely to be thrown out of gear."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee C; 24th March, 1931; cols. 565–6.]That statement preceded his announcement that he was willing to appoint a committee of inquiry to go into the question at issue, into the records of the fund, its administration, the condition of the industry with regard to the amount of the levy and cognate matters. That committee had the great advantage of the chairmanship of the late Lord Chelmsford, whose passing hon. Members much regret. He rendered great public service, and one of his last public services was the chairmanship of the committee of inquiry. It will be within the recollection of hon. Members that for many years he was chairman of the Welfare Fund Committee, and it was under his chairmanship that much of the beneficent work of the fund was accomplished. It also had the advantage of the presence of three hon. Members of this House, the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald), the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) and the Noble Lord the Member for Weston-super-Mare (Lord Erskine), who doubtless will be able to give us their own views on the matter.
Let me, as briefly as I can, outline the material facts regarding the record of the fund. The Miners' Welfare Fund was originally constituted under Section 20 of the Mining Industry Act, 1920, 1400 which provided for a levy of one penny on every ton of coal produced. The levy is collected by the Mines Department, and I assure hon. Members that if it is disagreeable to impose taxes it is sometimes much more disagreeable to have to collect them. It is not so easy to collect them as is sometimes assumed. The duty of allocating the money is left to the Miners Welfare Committee, which is appointed by the Board of Trade with representatives from both sides of the industry. The levy was originally imposed for five years, and was extended by the Mining Industry (Welfare Fund) Act, 1925, for another five years, and again extended for a similar period by the Act of 1931. The present Bill extends the period of the levy for 20 years from 1932, when the Report was written, until 1951 inclusive. That is the meaning of the 16 years; it is 16 years plus five years, or altogether a period of 21 years from the beginning of 1931.
Just a passing reference to another Act, which is not germane to our discussions but which imposed a levy in regard to pithead baths. In 1926 the Conservative Government in Part III of the Mining Industry Act imposed a new levy upon coal royalty owners of 1s. in the £ on the annual value of mineral rents, and the money produced by this levy is specifically earmarked for the provision of pithead baths until the Board of Trade otherwise decides. The total amount raised, including interest, by both these levies was in December last about £13,850,000.
§ Mr. BROWN
I have not got them separately, but I can get them in a moment. This is, of course, a domestic concern of the coal industry. It is a tax imposed on the industry by Parliament for the purposes of the industry and no public money is involved. There is general agreement as to the great work done by the Central Welfare Committee and the District Advisory Committees. There is no question whatever that the work they have done has made a wonderful difference to our mining villages since 1920. It is one of the great pieces of social reform of our time. I have the figures separately now, and I may just as well 1401 give them. The output levy has raised £11,314,889, and the interest has been £1,151,659. The royalty levy has raised £1,383,000; a total of roughly £13,850,000. The question of an alteration arose in regard to the rate of the duty and the date of its duration, and the inquiry committee which considered the matter took into consideration the grave economic condition of the industry. I do not want to be polemical but I say that if the condition of the industry was grave in 1931, grave enough for the Labour Government to set up a Committee to inquire into the matter thoroughly, how much more grave is it now when we have completed the worst year the trade has known for many years.
There are really grave reasons behind the introduction of the Bill. Let me try to make three things quite clear. First, that the recommendation of the majority of the inquiry committee was that the levy should be reduced from 1d. per ton on output to ½d., and that the period should be extended for 20 years. With that recommendation the hon. Member opposite did not agree, nor did his colleague on the committee; the mine-owners' representative wanted to go further the other way. However, the general body of opinion, including the chairman, made that recommendation. The second recommendation was this. There have been certain technical difficulties in the administration of the fund for certain particular purposes of welfare, and those who have been administering them were never quite sure whether they were statutory or not. They have been desirable and generally agreed upon; no one has objected and they have been operated from the beginning of the fund. The inquiry committee recommended that they should be made statutory so that in future there would be no doubt as to their legality. That recommendation is adopted in the Bill.
The third recommendation was this. While the district committees which aid the Central Welfare Committee by initiating ideas have had four-fifths of the fund at their disposal, the Central Welfare Committee have always had control. The Chelmsford Committee, therefore, recommended that the committees should remain, but, in view of the reduction in the output levy, that it should no longer be divided as it has been divided, that 1402 is, one-fifth for general purposes and four-fifths to be used in the districts, but that the money should be consolidated in the hands of the Central Welfare Committee, although the district committees should continue. The Government have not seen their way to agree with that recommendation of the committee. We have produced our own solution, which I will endeavour to explain to the House.
It is generally agreed that the outstanding remaining purpose to be fulfilled is the provision of pithead baths. They have worked a revolution wherever they have been adopted, and the extremely able staff of the Central Welfare Committee has been able to prepare new designs and improve constantly, until those who have seen the recent baths will agree that they are indeed a wonderful social production. It is agreed that their interests should be safeguarded. That is one of the reasons which led the Chelmsford Committee to suggest that there should be no longer a division as between one-fifth and four-fifths to general purposes and the districts respectively. They also thought that the interests of research should be safeguarded, and if hon. Members will look at a reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. G. Nicholson) last Tuesday they will find a complete analysis as to how the money has been spent on research. A great deal of this research work has been done in connection with health and safety—especially safety, the testing of wire ropes and things of that kind—and it has proved to be of the utmost value to the mining community.
The Bill provides three things: The levy from 1932 shall be at the rate of a halfpenny a ton and shall continue until 1951, that is 20 years at a halfpenny instead of four years at a penny. The district committees shall remain in operation and shall not see their funds consolidated, but the interests of the pithead baths on the one hand and of research on the other shall be safeguarded by the statutory allocation of certain sums to both those purposes. There is to be a definite programme of pithead baths for 20 years. That will absorb £375,000 per annum. Since £196,000 came from the royalty levy last year the balance will come from the output levy. In order that research shall continue in an adequate way 1403 £20,000 definitely is to be allocated to that purpose each year. Therefore before any division is made between the central committee and the districts the programme of pithead baths and research will be safeguarded. There will be £375,000 for the one purpose and £20,000 for the other. That will be a statutory allocation before any division is made.
§ Mr. BROWN
No, it is an annual sum, £20,000 for research and £375,000 for baths. Clause 1 of the Bill provides for the extension of the period of the output levy to 20 years, as recommended by the committee of inquiry. Clause 2 provides for the reduction of the levy from a penny to a halfpenny a ton, from and including the levy in respect of the output of 1932. The committee of inquiry's recommendation that it should start from that period is being carried out and made legal by the Bill. Sub-sections (2), (3) and (4) of Clause 2 make the necessary provision for the collection of the levy partly in view of the retrospective effect of Subsection (1). Clause 3, I understand, presents some difficulty. Take first Subsection (1). The effect of it is to bring such things as canteens within the scope of the pithead baths scheme. Canteens have proved to be a very popular, almost an indispensable, adjunct of pithead baths. Where they have been provided it has been at the expense of district funds, sometimes with other help. If hon. Members will turn to Section 17 of the Act of 1926 they will find the words:Accommodation and facilities for taking baths and drying clothes.It is proposed to bring canteens within the scope of that Section. It will be remembered that one of the recommendations of the Chelmsford Committee for amendment of the fund was that the existing statutory division of the proceeds of the output levy into general and district funds should be done away with, and that the Miners' Welfare Central Committee should have complete discretion in the matter. Let me give their reason for that. They recommended this, not because they under-estimated the value of the work of the district committees, but because they thought a re- 1404 duction of the output levy from a penny to a halfpenny would not leave enough money available under the old system to provide for the pithead baths programme without trenching on the districts funds. It was that which was our problem, and it is on that point that we find a solution in the Bill.
The committee regarded the pithead baths programme as by far the most important object of expenditure in the future, and they did not want to risk any interference with it as a result of opposition from individual districts. We found, when we came to discuss the committee's recommendations, that there was very strong, if not unanimous, opposition on the part of the district committees, both of the owners and of the men, to the abolition of the statutory provision as to the division of the output levy referred to above. Up and down the country everywhere there was one plaint, "Do not leave us with merely advisory powers. Do not take away the four-fifths of whatever sum is left if you decide to cut the levy down to a halfpenny." The Government felt it was necessary to seek an alternative solution: of course there is a widely felt opinion in the industry on other grounds against the abolition of the district funds. I do not think that anything that has happened in the last 20 years has made for more good will in the industry than the operations of the district committees.
Look then at Sub-section (2). It requires the welfare committee to set aside each year at the outset such sums from the current output levy as will raise the total sum available for pithead baths expenditure in that year to £375,000. That is for 20 years, coinciding with the period of the levy, and it is sufficient to ensure that the full pithead baths programme will synchronise with the lifetime of the levy and be completed within the 20 years. A similar provision is proposed with regard to research expenditure, for which an annual sum of £20,000 is to be set aside. That is on a slightly different basis from the baths expenditure. The £20,000 is not intended to supply all the requirements of research. It will be possible out of the residue of the central fund, after these allocations have been made, to make up the research contributions to the necessary annual amount without exhausting the general fund. The 1405 research fund has also the advantage of an endowment fund of £259,000 and annual interest comes from that. After these initial earmarkings, the balance will continue to be divided as before—one-fifth to the central fund, and four-fifths to the districts. This solution carries out the intention of the inquiry committee, that is to say, it makes further specific provision for pit head baths expenditure; it also maintains the district committees and provides funds for welfare work in the districts. Hon. Members may ask to what sum will this amount? I have prepared some figures and I shall be glad to give any hon. Member from any district the figure for his own district, that is to say a rough estimate of what would happen after the division had been made, in the case of a particular welfare committee. This would be too large a document to print in answer to a question, but if any hon. Member expresses a wish for detailed information I will see what I can do to meet him.
The total effect is as follows. The provisional statement of estimated receipts for 1934, and the appropriation thereof to the district and central funds and the baths and research funds respectively, shows the following. Output levy for 1933, £430,000; appropriation for these two purposes £216,000, leaving a balance of £214,000. The royalties welfare levy is £179,000. That is entirely for baths. Interest on investments is approximately £43,000, a total of £652,000. The residue to be divided among the districts on this basis will be £171,200, plus interest £31,500, a total of £202,700. That will leave the central fund with £42,800, which is the one-fifth, plus a sum of £11,500 interest on investments or, altogether, £54,300. Of the total of £652,000 the district fund will get £202,700 and the central fund £74,300. Then, taking the baths fund you get £196,000 the appropriation from the output levy, plus £179,000, the result of the royalties welfare levy, making a sum of £375,000 earmarked for that fund. The research fund receives £20,000.
The district funds may have some additions to that. If the output goes up they will be increased. If the ouput goes up and therefore the royalties levy goes up, a smaller sum will have to be appropriated each year to make up the baths 1406 fund to £375,000 that being a fixed sum. What we have to find out of the output levy is only a sum sufficient each year to bring the fund up to £375,000. The committee's report was based on an output of 200,000,000 tons. Our calculations are based on an output of 210,000,000 tons. If the output goes up, the levy goes up and the district funds and, of course, the central fund will benefit. I am happy to say that the prospects just now are a little better than they have been. I will not prophesy but I think I may be able to show at the end of this year the first increase that we have seen for three years. At any rate I hope so, and the district fund will not only have the sums I have indicated on this basis, but any additional sums due to rising output plus a further additional sum because of the smaller allocation necessary for the baths fund if the royalty levy rises to more than £179,000. They will further have the interest on their own sums added to that.
Sub-section (3) of Clause 3 is to give effect to the third of the committee's recommendations and to bring within the scope of the welfare fund certain classes of persons about whose eligibility there has been some doubt in the past. Hon. Members will see that this Sub-section is declaratory and that it is retrospective in effect. If things have been done in days gone by the legality of which is dubious this declaration will make them legal. It also declares that education as well as technical mining instruction, as provided for specifically in the original Act, shall be brought within the legal scope of the Measure. As regards the classes of persons to be included paragraph (a) brings ex-miners within the scope of the fund.Persons who have ceased to be employed as such workers by reason of age or disability.
§ Mr. BROWN
No. Paragraph (b) of the Sub-section covers unemployed miners and (c) the dependants of such workers. We had the curious technical position previously that if a miner became unemployed, technically he could be refused permission to play in the welfare football team or even on the football ground, and, if there was a dance in the welfare hall, a miner's daughter might not be allowed 1407 to go there with her miner sweetheart or brother. I do not say, of course, that such cases actually arose, but technically I believe that was the legal position, and the point is now made clear by the Sub-section. The effect of these proposals is to interpret the original definition of the scope of the fund and its allocation. The question of non-vocational education, which I have already mentioned, is dealt with by the words "the education of such workers." That legalises what has in fact been the practice but does not go any further.
I think I have now covered all the provisions of the Bill, and I hope I have made them clear. If not, I may, with the leave of the House, reply at the end of this discussion to any general case which is put up, or to any specific points which hon. Members may raise. I can assure the House that we disagreed with the committee of inquiry only after grave deliberation. They worked hard and long, as indeed the issues warranted, but we felt that if the district committees were to continue to operate it would be impossible to take away the four-fifths. We have tried to secure the maximum benefit from the output levy in the present economic condition of the industry. We have made it clear that this is not a five-year programme. It is a long-term programme which will enable the committees, whether district or central, to plan welfare work on ampler lines than they have been able to do up to the present and with better perspective. I hope the House will agree that we have done our very best to meet the main demands of welfare, consistent with the recommendations of the inquiry committee and that the case recognised by Mr. Shinwell in 1931 is indeed a grave case. Before I sit down, let me say that I understand I led the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) to believe that it would not cover pensions. I understand that that is not so.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. G. MACDONALD
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
I should like to make a protest on behalf of the Opposition against this Bill being brought in at this time to-night. We think that that very fact goes to show 1408 that the Government do not consider the Miners' Welfare Fund as of any great importance, otherwise they would have made far better provision for the Debate on this Bill. I want to associate the Opposition with the very well deserved tribute paid by the Secretary for Mines to the late Lord Chelmsford. We on this side also appreciate what he did for the Welfare Fund, and we on the committee of inquiry all realise that had it not been for his patience and his great tact, no report could have been submitted. There was never a committee of inquiry where the differences were so deep as on this committee. I remember well the last meeting of the committee, and had it not been for Lord Chelmsford, we should have submitted five separate reports to the Secretary for Mines, but Lord Chelmsford insisted on more agreement, and he succeeded in getting more agreement, with the result that we only got roughly four different reports.
I did not quite agree with the Secretary for Mines in regard to the setting up of that committee. He tried to impress on the House that it was set up because Mr. Shinwell had realised the gravity of the situation. But that is not quite correct. What actually happened was this: The Liberal party of those days, as usual, placed the Labour Government in a difficulty, and we understood that if we did not agree to a committee of inquiry, they would not support the penny. They told us that not only on the Floor of the House, but several times in Committee, with the result that, in order to get the penny, to which we thought we were entitled, we compromised, and the Secretary for Mines of those days agreed to appoint a committee of inquiry, not because he thought it was necessary, but because he was yielding to Liberal pressure, a thing that was done many times during that Parliament.
With regard to the Minister's speech, I say quite frankly that he has given us a very lucid explanation of a rather difficult problem, and he has removed from our minds one or two doubts. We thought, in the first place, that this Bill was going to abolish district funds, but he has made it quite clear that it does not. We also thought the Bill did not make it possible for pensions to be supplemented out of the welfare fund. We, on this side, now take it for granted that district funds are not to be abolished, 1409 and that pensions or superannuation schemes can be supplemented out of the welfare fund; and in so far as that is made clear, it removes some of our initial objections to the Bill.
We object to the retrospective character of the Bill. I have not been in this House very long, but I have been here sufficiently long to realise that Ministers have generally stood up and strenuously resisted any suggestion of retrospective legislation, especially if it concerned workmen in the mining industry. We were told that that was impossible, but here we have the Government themselves bringing forward retrospective legislation, and when the Minister tries to use the committee of inquiry as a justification, let me remind him that it was never the intention of the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) that this should operate in this way. It is true that he signed that report, but I am certain he never intended that this should operate in the way it has done. Therefore, the Minister has not got the majority of the committee behind this recommendation. We resisted it there. We felt that whatever was to happen to the fund, it must start from the date of the passing of the Act here. In Lancashire throughout 1933 I find that we have made deductions of a penny per ton for welfare purposes. Now we are told there is going to be a refund to the mine-owners in Lancashire because of this Bill, and I want to make our protest against the retrospective character of the Bill.
We oppose the reduction of the levy. First of all, it both restricts and retards welfare work, and there can be no justification for that. In fact, I feel that my colleagues on the committee were not very consistent themselves in supporting that proposal. Throughout this document they stress the need for welfare work in every direction. They tell us times out of number that this ought to be done, that that ought to be done, and that the other ought to be done. I will refer only to two things, and I will take two short paragraphs from the report. I will take, first, indoor recreation and social intercourse. We are told by the committee on page 26 of their report:We consider that there should be adequate facilities for indoor recreation and social intercourse at every place where an appreciable number of miners live, before the intentions of the 1920 Act in respect of these matters can be said to have been 1410 met, and it is clear that there is still a good deal of work to be done in this direction.They then go forward and say, with regard to boys' clubs, on page 30:We should like to see boys' clubs established all over the coalfields.About a month ago His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester paid a visit to Lancashire and went right through Lancashire with the sole purpose of advocating the establishment of boys' clubs. He tried to persuade us members of the welfare committee in Lancashire that it was essential, yet here we have the Government coming forward and making it impossible. The House must realise that this Bill is the end of all welfare work in general. His Royal Highness advocated very strenuously that we in Lancashire should support the establishment of boys' clubs, but this will make it impossible. Then the committee again pronounced very definitely that they thought much needed to be done in regard to outdoor recreation. They state on page 32:There would appear, therefore, to be a good deal yet to be done in respect of outdoor recreation, though we feel that the purposes of the Mining Industry Act, 1920, cannot be said to have been met as long as there is not some provision, with due regard to local needs and existing local facilities, for outdoor recreation in every mining community of appreciable size, both for children and adults.That again stresses the need for welfare work, and at the end of those sittings it is surprising that any member of that committee could suggest that we should reduce the levy from a penny to a halfpenny and handicap every piece of work that we suggested wanted doing. However, it was done. We are told that pithead baths are very important and that this Bill makes very special provision for them, and that we ought to remember that. We, on this side, have been sufficiently long connected with the mining industry to realise the value of pithead baths. We have never minimised their value, but we are not going to support a Bill which, though making special provision for a baths fund, does it at the expense of general welfare. We are told that the royalty levy does not bring in sufficient to provide baths. If the Government treat this question as an item in costs, and say that it is our duty to reduce those costs, we think this is 1411 the last item, apart from wages, that ought to be reduced.
When I go through the various items of costs I find some startling figures. I will take the Lancashire figures for 1931 and 1932, the last complete years, and give three items. The figure for "other materials and stores consumed" in 1931 was 10.47d. and in 1932 10.99d., an increase of over ½d. The remuneration of directors took 3.28d. per ton in 1931 and 3.47d. in 1932. For some unknown reason that figure went up nearly ¼d. Wagon charges increased from 7.06d. to 7.43d., an increase of a ½d. It is interesting that the wagon earnings decreased from 4.88d. in 1931 to 4.53d. in 1932. The earning capacity went down, but the cost went up. All these items are far more costly items than welfare, yet the Government do not say a single word to the owners and ask them to make reductions in these heavy items. The Government do not say to them, "Before we agree to them you must reduce every item to its lowest minimum." Instead of that, they try to reduce the costs of the mining industry by saving a ½d. on welfare. I remember when Evan Williams gave evidence before us, and I am sure he will not forget the cross-examination of the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander). He told us that this welfare levy had been a cause of collieries finding it difficult to continue. When he was asked if he thought that royalties were a heavy item and whether there should be a reduction there and when he was asked if he would agree to a penny a ton on royalties in order to safeguard the Welfare Fund, he edged in his reply.
We say that the Welfare Fund ought not to be used to save the royalty levy. If the royalty levy at the present figure of 5 per cent. is not sufficient to make adequate provision for pithead baths, we say that it should be doubled or trebled. The right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) mentioned this matter in his report of 1925 on page 209. Speaking of the royalty owners and pithead baths, he said:In view of the fact that their income from royalties is largely dependent upon the labour of the miners, it is legitimate to require them to join in the measures which are regarded as necessary for the miners' well-being. A mineral owner has a moral obligation to aid the well-being of the 1412 population that works his minerals, in the same way that a landowner has a moral obligation towards the population that works on his estate.They recommended a 5 per cent. levy on royalties. If experience has proved that that levy is insufficient, our contention is that there is no case for reducing the welfare levy first and then allocating a definite sum from that reduced levy for bath purposes, thereby saving the royalty levy and at the same time crippling general welfare work. We say that if the Government found it difficult to deal with pithead baths in the way they think baths ought to be dealt with, their clear duty was not to place pithead baths on the Welfare Fund, but to increase the royalty levy and secure sufficient money from that source so that the industry would not be handicapped in any way. We can only come to one conclusion, namely, that the reason that the Government took this course was that they are not prepared to stand up to the mineral owners. They prefer to rob the miners and their dependants of the little welfare which they have enjoyed and which they ought to enjoy.
We had some genuine uneasiness as to whether this Bill makes clear the question of pensions. We looked through the Bill from beginning to end and found that the provisions are not sufficiently enlarged to provide pensions. We are, therefore, relying entirely on the Minister's statement on that question so that if, for instance, we in Lancashire, with a balance of £180,000, feel it necessary to allocate all or any of that to pensions or superannuation purposes, there is nothing in this Bill to prevent us.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
Let me make that quite clear. I said that after the Bill is passed there will be nothing legally to prevent an allocation of the output levy to pensions. That is a different thing because, as the hon. Member knows, the over-riding power in this matter, whatever the district, lies with the Central Committee.
§ Mr. MACDONALD
Does this Bill make any difference as regards the position of pensions from what existed previously?
§ Mr. BROWN
The point is that when the Bill is passed there will be no difference except that it is clear in this Bill that legally there is nothing to prevent 1413 the use of the output levy for pensions. The over-riding power and authority with regard to the allocation of this levy still is with the Central Committee.
§ Mr. GODFREY NICHOLSON
A year ago I asked my hon. Friend a question as to whether some of the Miners' Welfare Fund could be applied to the Northumberland Miners' Relief Fund, and the reply was that it would be ultra vires. Will the same apply to an allocation for pensions?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Dennis Herbert)
I would remind hon. Members that this is a Second Reading Debate.
§ Mr. MACDONALD
We had the impression on this side of the House from the Minister's statement that pensions would be a proper object for this fund. Now he tells us that the position is exactly as it was prior to the Bill being brought in. It was then legally quite a proper object, but the Central Welfare Committee for ten years had resisted it. They may resist it in future, but this Bill does not say whether they shall or shall not. We protest that the Bill does not make it definite and legal in the sense that the Central Welfare Committee has no right to resist it. It is legal to provide convalescent homes and recreation grounds, and we think that the Bill ought to make it clear to the Central Committee that they have no more right to resist allocations for pension purposes than they have to resist allocations for miners' convalescent homes. There should be no dubiety on the question. We in Lancashire have not spent a penny except on miners' convalescent homes, our purpose being to get a good nucleus for pensions for a superannuation fund. Some time ago a private Member's Bill was brought in to allocate a part of the money standing to the credit of the Welfare Fund to pensions. I find that was supported by seven Liberals of varying colour and one Conservative. Our position is that the Bill now before the House ought to make it definite that pensions do come within its scope. The only question of importance to us is the allocation of the fund. The Minister appeared to tell us, when interpreting Sub-section (3) of Clause 3, that the definitions there constitute an improvement for us. Miners' homes are definitely provided for, but what earthly 1414 good is that when the Bill itself has so reduced the money for general welfare purposes that no miners' home can be built?
On no ground can a case be made out for this Bill. Only a person opposed to miners' welfare in general can support the Measure. Miners' welfare in general cannot be carried on by the Bill. We are told that there is an allocation of £170,000 among 25 districts, and that therefore general welfare work can go on, but we say that the fund as now constituted does not provide adequately for the future needs of welfare work in any district, though the needs are great. If more hon. Members knew the conditions in mining districts and realised the drabness of mining life they would appreciate the need for welfare work. It is granted that since 1920 much has been done, but more remains to be done, and it cannot be done with a levy of only one halfpenny per ton. The fact that the Bill extends the duration of the fund for 16 years is, to us, an advantage, because before the end of 16 years we on this side of the House will sit on the opposite side, with a great majority behind us, and we can then deal with the Miners' Welfare Fund. But, for the moment, let us make it clear that we oppose this Bill because it retards and restricts welfare work, because it deals with one of the items that ought not to be dealt with—except last—as an item of cost, and because it does not make it possible for any district where owners and men agree to make provision for a superannuation scheme or a pension fund.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. MILNE
This Bill makes provision for payments out of the Welfare Fund for the purposes of research. I have read the report of the Departmental Committee and listened to the speech of the Secretary for Mines, and I am still completely at a loss to understand why any money whatever should be taken from the Welfare Fund for this purpose. I know I shall be told that the object is a statutory one, and that the research is strictly confined to research for safety purposes. I do not suggest for a moment that research should be discontinued, quite the reverse. In order to secure the safety of the men working underground the expenditure cannot be on too liberal a scale. But when I look at this report I find that the Committee tell us there is 1415 an immense amount of work still to be done. Apparently the work is starved for want of money. The Committee go on to tell us that in Germany, in America and, I think, also in France, a great deal more in spent on research than is expended in this country, and I ask the question, Why place this burden on the Welfare Fund?
The Welfare Fund is in chronic financial difficulty. I think I am right in saying that since its establishment 14 years ago an immense sum, amounting, if I mistake not, to something like £750,000, has been appropriated from the fund for this purpose. When I look again at this report I find that it is accompanied by a minority report, and I see that Mr. Alfred Smith expresses a view which I am bound to say seems suspiciously like common sense. He says that in his view the purpose of research is not one which ought to come within the purview of such a scheme as miners' welfare. The State already recognises its duty in this respect. The State has established and maintains a brigade of inspectors, and in addition to that the Treasury has, for a number of years, made an annual grant. Though it is a meagre grant of £1,750, pitifully inadequate, one values it because it is a species of token payment. It is an admission that the State recognises its liabilities in this matter. I congratulate the Secretary for Mines on having secured the continuance of this annual grant, but why does he not ask for more? How can be justify these proposals? Why pillage the Miners' Fund?
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ Mr. JOHN WALLACE
I should like to congratulate the Secretary for Mines on the somewhat unique achievement of introducing two Bills on one day, and doing it with the clarity and precision which characterise all his speeches in this House. I listened very closely to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald), but I thought he seemed to cast a somewhat unworthy reflection upon one of his own party who was Minister for Mines and a Member of this House. My conception of the Labour party is not that of a body of Members who could be domineered over by the Liberal party. He has told us that what the Liberal party said to 1416 Mr. Shinwell was: "Stand and deliver," and that Mr. Shinwell immediately went on his knees and said he was sorry he had spoken. That is not borne out by this report, where Mr. Shinwell clearly says that he appointed this Departmental Committee to find out.what remains to he done, and whether the scope of the fund and the existing machinery for its administration as defined in that Section and as developed in practice are satisfactory for the future.I have no doubt the statement of Mr. Shinwell was well considered and wholly unrelated to the Liberal party, who, I think cannot be blamed at any time for exercising any undue influence in this House. I was very much in agreement with my hon. Friend regarding the retrospective effect of this legislation. We are informed that now there is a statutory obligation for the continuance of the Welfare Fund for 16 years from this date, but I am at a loss to understand how to regard that as reliable, because at the present time there is statutory obligation for the fund to be continued at the old rate until the end of 1935. While I quite understand that this very unfortunate matter must be considered in relation to the state of the industry, I am extremely sorry that the proposed legislation is to be retrospective.
I know something about the depressed condition of the coal-mining industry, and I think that hon. Members of the Labour party cannot leave that fact out of their calculations. Even making full allowance for that, I do not like to feel that there is any possibility of going back upon the promise which was made that the same rate would continue until the end of 1935. The beneficent results of the Welfare Fund are known to us all. Several quotations bearing upon that have been given to us. As one who represents very important coalfields in Fife-shire, I should like to point out that, however liberal is the provision that may have been made for the future, the result of the cut of 50 per cent. will have a very startling effect upon Fifeshire, because it is a very drastic reduction. So far as Fifeshire is concerned, the estimated sum will be reduced from £24,000 to £8,000. That is a very serious matter.
So far as the work which has been outlined is concerned, I do not think that those who are connected with the administration of the Welfare Fund had 1417 any idea of legislation of a retrospective character coming along in the near future. The consequence is that they had made provisions for various schemes, but not having the benefit of the 1d. per ton from 1932, they adjusted their programmes and arrangements were made which will have to be cancelled. I regard that as very unfortunate. I do not know what may happen to this Bill in Committee, or what changes the Minister may agree to, but I hope that it is not too late for the retrospective element to be reconsidered.
I have referred in a sentence to the depressed condition of the industry. We know about that at first hand in Scotland. About a week ago I listened to a broadcast on the question of the coal trade, given by one of the greatest living authorities upon coal mining, Mr. C. C. Reid, director of the Fife Coal Company. If the facts are as he stated, they have a most direct relation to a reconsideration of the amounts which should be paid for this Welfare Fund. It was very striking to hear in this broadcast that Scotland in 1880 produced 20,000,000 tons of coal and employed 75,000 people. Those figures were doubled in 1913, but after 1926, the year of the great coal stoppage, the downward trend began. To-day in Scotland, production of coal has fallen tremendously. It is now down to 28,000,000 tons, and the number of people employed is 85,000, as compared with 140,000 in 1913. These are very serious facts, and they cannot be overlooked in connection with the contribution required from the mineowners towards the fund.
Associated with those facts was the startling statement made by Mr. Reid that the whole of the coal produced in Scotland for the last six years has been produced at a loss of approximately 4d. per ton. In dealing with the subject which we have under discussion, the disastrous state of the coal trade has to be taken into account, but I wish to be fair to the miners, than whom there is no finer body of working men in our country. We know what the result of the Welfare Fund has been, and how much still remains to be done. One has only to read the Report to have an indication from the Members of the Committee themselves of the great possibilities of the future in relation to 1418 this fund. For that reason, and whatever decision may be ultimately reached regarding the amount per ton to be paid by the mineowners, I hope that the retrospective element will be reconsidered. I will listen with very great interest indeed to the reply of the Secretary for Mines.
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ Mr. T. SMITH
The hon. Member for Dunfermline (Mr. Wallace) congratulated the Minister on introducing two Bills upon the same day. That may be unique, but I thought I detected in the attitude of the Minister a change in regard to this Bill, as compared with that in which he moved the first Bill earlier in the day. In moving the Second Reading of the Bill dealing with hydrocarbon oil, the Minister rather suggested that the process with which it dealt would increase the output of coal in this country, and with that I agree to some extent. When he dealt with the financial results of the second Bill, I noticed that he calculated the output as something in the region of 206,000,000 tons.
§ Mr. SMITH
I think I am right in saying that calculation each year is based more or less upon output being something like stabilised around that amount. The Secretary for Mines started off by saying what is now almost the usual thing when a Bill is being introduced; he referred to what the Labour Government did from 1929 to 1931. We have been accused of having done nothing, but when an Act of Parliament which was passed by the Labour Government comes up for discussion, the National Government justify their action by what we did or omitted to do. It was said that the then Secretary for Mines agreed to the appointment of this committee. That is true, but it is also fair to say that there was a real reason why Mr. Shinwell should have agreed to that. As the House will remember, this Bill was hotly debated upstairs, and one hon. Member who sits opposite me, together with Colonel Lane Fox, who was then Member for Barkston Ash, told the Committee quite clearly and definitely that they were not prepared to agree to the continuance of the 1d. per ton. I remember that Committee very clearly. We were told that 1419 the coalowners were prepared to agree to the continuance of a farthing a ton; we were told by Conservative Members that they themselves were prepared to agree to a halfpenny a ton, and we were also told that unless we agreed to a committee, the passage of the Third Reading of the Bill would not be a very smooth one. In those days, of course, we were in a minority. My personal opinion, which I expressed at that time, was that it would have been far better for Mr. Shinwell to challenge the Committee on the continuance of the penny than to concede the appointment of the committee.
§ Mr. SMITH
It was not so much a question of trusting our friends as one of strategy. I think I can speak the mind of the hon. and gallant Member opposite by saying that if he had had to decide between the continuance of the penny per ton for another period and voting for the reduction of that penny per ton, he would have had no difficulty in choosing, because politically he would have known that he would be doing something which he would regret, and, secondly, because the hon. and gallant Member himself knows how valuable this penny per ton has been to the miners in the various coalfields.
Although it is true that the committee was appointed, we must not take it for granted that everything a committee reports is the best possible thing. We remember the appointment of the Commission that originally started the penny per ton. The Sankey Commission of that period held a very thorough investigation into the conditions in the mining industry, both industrial and social, and the nation was so astounded in 1919 at the bad conditions in the various mining districts that it accepted whole-heartedly the idea of a penny per ton being levied for welfare purposes. No one in this House will disagree with me when I say that this welfare fund has been almost a magic penny per ton. My only regret with regard to it is that it was not in operation when I was a lad working in the pit. In those days there were scarcely any facilities for anything apart from going to your work and from it. The houses were bad and there was no 1420 recreation. That penny has made a wonderful difference. Some districts have concentrated on the recreation side: they have laid down bowling-greens, cricket-pitches and playing-fields for children, and have done wonderfully good work. Others have gone in for convalescent homes; in Yorkshire, while we have not a home the size of the one at Blackpool, or one so nicely situated as the home at Tallygowen in South Wales, we have put in at Scarborough and other places convalescent homes worthy of all the effort that has been put into them.
While we quite agree that there has been a tremendous amount of good work done by this penny, we on this side of the House are not satisfied that there is a real reason for the reduction to a halfpenny. When the penny was first put on, it was calculated to bring in £1,000,000 per year with an output of 240,000,000 tons. The output has now fallen to between 200,000,000 and 210,000,000 tons, and there has been a loss of revenue to the Welfare Fund from that fact alone. Now, although you are going to extend the operation of the levy, you are going to reduce the revenue by half. We on this side of the House are not prepared to agree to that. We say that the work is not yet completed; there is still plenty of work that needs doing in the various mining districts. There is plenty of welfare work that needs doing in the Lancashire coalfields which we think warrants us in asking for the continuance of the penny.
There is another side to this penny. The Secretary for Mines did not make the position quite clear with regard to the use of some portion of this levy for giving pensions to aged miners. I wish the committee had brought in a unanimous report on the lines of the evidence submitted by the Miners' Federation, in which I believe they advocated not a reduction of the penny to a halfpenny, but an increase of twopence per ton. The House will agree with me when I say that conditions in the mining industry are very different to-day from what they were some years ago. You have a large number of people who have been discharged between the ages of 55 and 65 and who, on account of reaching that age and also of the machinery which has developed, have got the impression that the mining industry will never absorb them again. 1421 We feel that the mining industry ought to be in a position to assist aged miners. Never forget that most of these men started in the mines at a very early age; they have worked nowhere else but in that industry; they have reached the age of 60 and are cast on one side. We think that is wrong. We think we ought to have the money to provide a decent pension scheme for these men. I am not trying to say that even the extra halfpenny would give us all that we need for that purpose, but in these days every little bit helps.
Giving credit where credit is due, there are some colliery owners in this country who are big enough and wise enough to try to institute pension schemes for their own collieries, and I should be the first to congratulate them, as I always have done, on the work that they are doing. Consider the position of a man who leaves work at 65 years of age. If that man and his wife can be guaranteed 30s. per week for 52 weeks in the year, with the knowledge that it is going to be there as long as they live, that man is quite content. He is happier than if he had to go down the pit three or four days in some weeks and then come home with less than 30s. There are some colliery companies who have endeavoured to do it, and all credit must be given to them. I only wish, and I only hope, that those hon. Members who are attached to colliery enterprises will keep in mind, until we get the State to accept the responsibility for aged workers generally, those colliery works which have done their best to establish pension schemes for all their employés. It is very necessary and worthy work.
Let me conclude by saying that I hope the Secretary for Mines will not misunderstand us when I say that we are bound to oppose this Bill. We feel that its provisions are inadequate; we feel that there is still plenty of work that needs doing in many colliery districts, and we feel that we are justified in asking for the continuance of the penny. When we hear so much about the economic position of the industry, we have to bear one or two things in mind. It is perfectly true that to-day the mining industry is in a bad way, but it is also true to say that in pre-War days, in 1913, when there was no welfare work, when there was scarcely a pit in the country with baths, 1422 it was making a profit of 1s. 5½d. to 1s. 6d. per ton. Even though we hear from the coalowners about how badly the industry is doing in these days, we still remember that, when they were making a handsome profit in pre-War days, they never went out of their way to admit it or to do general welfare work.
From the point of view of pithead baths, it is true that we have made a big step forward. I remember the agitation in the early days for pithead baths. I remember with what jubilation we saw in 1911 that this House had provided, in Section 77 of the Act of that year, for the possibility of pits getting baths. I remember that in those days many miners were not favourable to baths, and some of us who are now on these benches had to face a great deal of criticism from the older men, who honestly and sincerely believed that baths were detrimental to health. One has to bear in mind the nature of the occupation. Men went down the pit, and had to strip; they had to take off everything but a pair of short drawers. They had to work hard, and there were men who honestly believed that, if they came out of a hot mine into the cold air and went into a bath, it might tend to give them a chill. I am pleased to say that to-day that idea is non-existent in the mining industry. But Section 77 was never put into operation, because the House put a maximum sum to be paid by miners for the upkeep of the baths.
With the coming of the voluntary welfare scheme and the tax on mining royalties, pithead baths have been put up more rapidly during the last two or three years than ever before, and the Secretary for Mines was not exaggerating when he said that the latest kind of bath erected is almost a wonder. I have seen a good many of them. I am bound to say that they meet a real need, and they are appreciated, not merely by the men, but by the women. Many of us remember when we used to have to come home in our pit dirt, and, in houses that had no baths, get the dirt off as best we could in order to attend a meeting of a public body; and we know the amount of work that the women had to do owing to the dirt that the men brought in from the pit. I have heard many miners' wives almost bless the time when their 1423 husbands could leave the dirt at the pit, and from that angle I do not think the Secretary for Mines was exaggerating.
We are, perhaps, one of the most backward European countries in regard to this matter of providing baths. I hope hon. Members will not misunderstand me when I say that. I have seen pithead baths in other countries long before we had pithead baths in this country. Indeed, in Germany, I remember going into Krupp's pit at Essen and watching with admiration the men coming out of the pit, getting washed, and going home clean; but at that time, 10 years ago, we had very few pithead baths in this country. We think that more progress should be made with regard to baths. I estimate that every pit that needs a bath will not get it inside the next 25 years; indeed, I think that at one time it was calculated in the Mines Department that it would take 35 years to give every pit decent washing accommodation. Personally, I think that the provision of baths ought not to be dependent on this levy of ½d. per ton; I think that the matter ought to be distinct from the general welfare work. It is because we know that there is still work to be done in the coalfield that we believe that the cutting down of the amount of the levy is a mistake, and we shall endeavour to the best of our ability and opportunity, as the rules of the House and the rules of Committee procedure permit, to get the House and the Committee to accept our point of view. While appreciating all that has been done in the welfare sense, we feel, knowing what still remains to be done, that the House ought to continue the 1d. a ton, and, therefore, we are bound to oppose the Bill.
§ 9.41 p.m.
§ Captain PEAKE
I cannot quarrel with the provisions of this Bill; it represents very closely the views which I advocated to the Standing Committee in 1931; but I am a little hurt by the disclosure by my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) of the reasons which moved Mr. Shinwell to appoint this Departmental Committee of inquiry. I followed the late Sir Donald Maclean in appealing to Mr. Shinwell at that time to try to settle this question by agreement. The miners were standing out for the full 1424 1d. per ton, while the owners were standing out for ¼d., and I remember suggesting that they might very well split the difference and fix the levy at ⅝d. per ton. I made an earnest appeal to Mr. Shinwell on those lines, and I must confess that I did not know until to-day that it was not on account of my appeal, but on account of the fact that Mr. Shinwell could not trust his colleagues on the Liberal benches, that the Departmental Committee was appointed. I remember my hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) saying during the proceedings that, if it came to a vote on the question of the 1d., he would unhesitatingly vote for the whole 1d., and, therefore, if something else was being said last year, it is very difficult to understand.
The first criticism that is made is in regard to the reduction of the amount of the levy. When I saw the personnel of this committee, the last thing I expected was that they would recommend this reduction, because my hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton had onnounced that he was in favour of the 1d., and I knew that my hon. Friend the Member for Ince was a member of the Executive Committee of the Miners' Federation—I understand that he is so no longer—and there was also Mr. Alf. Smith representing the miners. Therefore, it did not appear to me to be very likely that there would be a majority report in favour of a reduction to ½d. I should like to compliment my hon. Friend opposite on having the courage, on going more closely into the facts, to signing a report advocating the smaller amount.
It is too late now to re-open the merits of the expenditure of the Miners Welfare Fund, but I would like, in justification of the figure of ½d. a ton, to refer to the minority report of Mr. Alf. Smith, of the Miners' Federation. Mr. Alf. Smith, in that report, recommended that the fund should continue indefinitely at the same rate, namely, 1d. per ton, and that the Act of 1920 should be amended so that, where districts were desirous that their contributions should be used to supplement any pension scheme, that should be allowed. In his second paragraph he said:In the event of pension schemes not being allowed, I recommend that the out put levy shall be reduced from 1st January, 1933, by a ½d. a ton.
§ Captain PEAKE
I quite accept that. I am now quoting from the minority report of the official representative of the miners upon this departmental committee. Everyone has the greatest sympathy with this question of pensions for aged miners, but you have to consider the cost. We are fortunate in having in this report an estimate by the Government Actuary of the cost of pensions of only 10s. a week at the age of 60, and you see that, as more and more miners come into pension rights, the figure reaches approximately £4,000,000 a year. I do not suppose that hon. Members opposite would advocate a smaller pension than 10s., and the cost would work out at 5d. upon every ton of coal or, in terms of wages, 2s. 6d. per week for every man employed. I do not see much possibility at present of getting a general scheme of miners' pensions adopted. There are individual collieries where miners' pensions are given, but it is obviously impossible for a general fund, to which all miners and all owners contribute, to allocate money towards pensions of miners employed only at individual collieries. If you are going to have an allocation towards pensions at all, it has to be through a general scheme covering at least the whole district; otherwise, it is extremely unfair.
I think it is an admirable thing that the levy is stabilised for 20 years. It will enable the committees to plan in advance and it will stabilise welfare work. I am pleased that my hon. Friend is providing definitely for a fixed sum annually for the provision of pithead baths, which have been rather too much neglected by the welfare committees. They have collected in all over 11 years £13,000,000, out of which only £2,500,000 has been spent upon pithead baths; that is to say, only an average of £220,000 a year. I am very glad that my hon. Friend is going to push on this work at a far greater rate in the future than it has been carried on in the past. This fund has brought the two sides of the industry together in a way that they have never been brought together before. It has even influenced the tone of the Debates in this House on mining questions. We do not seem to have quite the same bitterness that we used to have three or 1426 five years ago, and I hope, even although hon. Members opposite go into the Lobby against the Bill, the work in the districts will continue uninterrupted and with as good a spirit in the future as in the past.
§ 9.51 p.m.
§ Mr. MANDER
I think the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) was a little hazy in his historical memory of the events of the last Parliament when he attempted to throw the blame for the appointment of this Committee on the Liberal party. My recollection—and it has been corrected by what we have heard to-night—is that it was due in large part to appeals made by the Conservative party and to threats of Tory obstruction that he finally gave way and consented to the appointment of the Committee. I have no doubt the hon. Member finds it very convenient to have a Liberal party at hand which he can blame for all his misdeeds and shortcomings. As a member of the Committee, I spent a very happy two years going into all the work that has been done by the Welfare Fund, and I was able to see the magnificent work of a social, human kind that is done to bring many things into the lives of the miners which they ought to have had before but which the owners had entirely failed to provide on their own account. Travelling, as we did, throughout Cannock Chase and other areas, seeing the many magnificent schemes that had been laid out there, and seeing the provision that had been made, starting with the children right up to old age, one could not help being immensely impressed with the wonderful results coming from the establishment of the Welfare Fund and desiring to see it continue for as long a period as possible and in as effective a form as one possibly could.
I should like to join in the tributes that have been paid to the Chairman of the Committee. The fund owes an immense debt to the work that he did for so many years, and I am sure he was an inspiration to us and a most kindly guide throughout all our difficulties and difference in so far as they may have existed. This Bill is the result of the recommendations of that Committee, but I cannot regard it as an acceptance of those recommendations. Two main points are recommended: first of all, the ½d. reduction and then the abolition of the district funds. 1427 The hon. Member for Ince signed this recommendation and omitted to include it in his dissenting minority report, and must, therefore, be held to be fully in accord with it.
§ Mr. MACDONALD
I had better read ray own reservation.The receipts from such a levy, even at the reduced rate of a ½d., would be sufficient to make it unnecessary to abandon district funds.
§ Mr. MANDER
I do not think that is quite good enough. The hon. Member said:While fully appreciating the reasons, as set out in the Report, which prompted the majority of the Committee to make these recommendations, I am unable to accept the first, and it would be necessary to make the third more comprehensive to meet with my approval.He says nothing whatever about the second, which deals with the district committees. I do not wish to say a word in criticism of the admirable work done by those committees, which are non-statutory and voluntary committees. Employers and employed have come together and have thrashed out many admirable schemes for their particular districts. They have done work which is beyond praise, but it was inevitable, as they were to a very large extent limited by the circumstances of their existence and their position, that they should only be able, in formulating their plans, to envisage their own particular coalfield. They had no expert advice. They had their own very excellent ideas, but they were limited in the way I have described.
We thought that, arising out of the circumstances of the case, and for no other reason, it was desirable that all the schemes throughout the country should be surveyed from one centre, and that the advice and experience available at headquarters should be placed more fully at the disposal of the committees in different parts of the country. I am sure that the existing system is uneconomic. It is not as effective and as efficient as it should be, and we look forward to a position in which you will still have the inestimable services of the district committees in an advisory capacity working sympathetically and in a friendly way with headquarters and availing themselves of the expert advice which 1428 every month is becoming more widely used. At the same time, I fully recognise that, having existed for a number of years, certain vested interests have grown up in these committees. People on both sides have become accustomed to carrying out this kind of work, and, human nature being what it is, they are very reluctant to give it up. I regret, all the same, that this recommendation of ours was not accepted, because I think that it would have made for the more efficient management of the funds which are available.
In this connection I attach enormous importance to one of the recommendations which we made, and that is, the establishment of paid organisers in different districts. I know that this may be misunderstood and not be popular, but in these days of increasing leisure it is becoming clearer to us all the time that you need expert advice. We do not wish to send superior people into the coalfields to tell the miners what they have to do and how they have to do it. But we want people who know the coalfields and who have been specially trained in the kind of work going on under the Welfare Fund to advise those who are doing the work on the spot. I feel that we must pay special attention to one matter. A very large sum of money—I think about £8,000,000—has now been spent on these various schemes, and there is no existing organisation for seeing that they are kept going. There is a danger of some of them lapsing and falling into disuse altogether, because there is no one on the spot keeping up the interest and seeing that the funds necessary for keeping the schemes going are made available. All who are experienced in welfare work outside the mining industry know that you want someone to help very busy people who have other work to do, and keep them up to scratch and, in a friendly and human way, to continue incentive and interest. Also you want them to plan out the future.
With regard to the recommendation about the reduction of the fund to a halfpenny, I was astonished to hear the Secretary for Mines say to-night—and what I understand to be the case—that, whereas up to the present time anything in the nature of pensions has been illegal, yet the Bill for the first time 1429 will make pensions legal. There is no question at all about it, if one studies the words carefully in Sub-section (3) of Clause 3:purposes connected with the social wellbeing …. persons who have ceased to be employed as such workers by reason of age or disability.That, for the first time, makes it possible for the Central Miners' Welfare Fund, if they think fit, to promote schemes of pensions. We did not recommend that pensions should be brought into effect, and if I had thought for one moment that the Government would have brought in a Bill making it possible to use the fund for pensions schemes, I should not even temporarily have consented to a ½d. reduction, because it is perfectly fantastic. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Leeds (Captain Peake) dealt with the question, and there is no need for me to repeat it. He pointed out what an enormous sum of money would be required to build up any pension scheme on a pension basis. No one is more anxious than I am to see a pensions' scheme in the mining industry, and it is essential that this should be brought into existence; but it really is not fair to tie it up to a scheme of this kind. The amount of pension that you could give out of this fund would be very small, and would inevitably take away some of the money which should be used for the main schemes of social welfare, which would not otherwise be provided.
On those two grounds, I feel very strongly that, while we want a pension scheme, it would be most unwise to permit any diversion of the Miners' Welfare Fund to such a purpose. I am interested to note, as my hon. Friend pointed out, that the miners' representative on the committee, Mr. Alf Smith, entirely agreed with that view, and only consented to the ½d., as I did, because it was understood that pensions were to be excluded. As a signatory of the Report, I should also like to say that we never contemplated for a moment that there would be any retrospective legislation, and that the 1d. would be calculated until such time as an Act was passed reducing it to a ½d. With regard to the reduction of the fund to a ½d., there is no doubt that when you take everything into consideration, in- 1430 cluding the very poor state of the mining industry, there was a case for a general compromise to get an agreed report for a reduction to a ½d. for a period, provided we excluded pensions.
I would point out, as attention has not been called to this phase in the Debate to-night, that in dealing with this question the committee say that the ½d. reduction should take place, and, if and when the financial state of the industry permits, the amount should be increased. I attach very great importance to that fact. It was not put in simply as a gesture. It was seriously intended, and I very much regret that the Bill does not include any provision by which the Secretary for Mines for the time being, if he thinks the state of the industry permits it, can by using an order to come before this House, raise it again to the sum of 1d. I propose if the Measure receives its Second Reading to move in Committee a Clause which will make it possible again to raise the levy to 1d. when prosperity returns, without having to go through the procedure of a Bill in this House, and all the delay and difficulties which such a proceeding means. We signed the report in December, 1932, and it is now February, 1934.
We have been told a good deal by Members of the Government in the last few months—and no doubt my hon. Friend the Secretary for Mines has not failed to play his part—of the wonderful success of their efforts in reviving the trade and industry of this country. I think that the country is begining to get a little tired of this continual patting of themselves on the back. They cannot have it both ways. They cannot go round the country saying: "Look how wonderfully we have revived the industries of this country," and then come to this House and say: "This particular industry is in such a poverty-stricken state, even after two years of our incomparable administration, that we are obliged to ask for a reduction of the levy to one-halfpenny." My hon. Friend has almost persuaded me that the mining industry, under his vigorous administration, has reached such a state that the halfpenny might be restored. I do not know that he has entirely done that, but certainly he has tended in that direction.
As a signatory of the report I am very disappointed to see the Bill in its present form. I am unable to vote for it, because 1431 I do not consider that it is in any adequate manner an acceptance of our recommendations. First of all, the district funds which we desired to see abolished are not going to be abolished and the reduction of the levy to one-halfpenny is going to take place under circumstances which we never contemplated. If, as we know now, pensions are to be included in the scheme in the future, there should be no reduction of the levy. Therefore, on that point the Government have failed to accept the recommendations of the Inquiry Committee.
§ 10.7 p.m.
§ Lord APSLEY
The difficulty that I find in supporting the Bill is that, while the contribution of the colliery owners to the Welfare Fund is being reduced to one-halfpenny a ton, the contribution of the royalty owners to pit-head baths is being left exactly at the same figure. I cannot understand why, in equity, that should be the case. I do not mean to imply that the royalty owners whom I have met and known are not agreeable to provide needy contributions to this very excellent work in regard to pit-head baths. We had an excellent speech from the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith) on the subject of baths. There was difficulty at the start with the older miners, who did not wish to have baths, while the younger miners were not quite certain, and I think the controversy is not yet settled, so far as the actual effects of the baths on influenza, cold and other epidemics are concerned; but there is a growing feeling and a growing wish for these baths. They are in every way beneficial so far as the comfort and well-being, I will not say the health, of the miners is concerned.
The royalty owners are only too proud to have been able to subscribe their portion to this great work, but in equity I think hon. Members will agree with me that there is no justification for such a levy in their case. An hon. Member might write a book, a firm of publishers might publish it, and the author would look forward to drawing royalties on the sales for years to come, if the book proved successful. It would be a gamble.
§ Lord APSLEY
Yes, but there his work ends. After that the hundreds or thousands of volumes which the public might demand would entail work by day and night standing at the printing presses, work of sub-editing and the rest of it. All that would be part of the publisher's work. The writing would be the work of the author while the work of publishing would be that of the publisher. Exactly the same argument applies in regard to royalty owners. If hon. Members will only look into the history of the mines of this country, and the romance of their origin, they will know that in almost every case it was the royalty owner who started the mine. Nobody believed him. He may have said that he had been told there was coal on the land, or that some friend had told him there was coal or iron. He believed it, and backed his opinion and gambled. In many cases he lost and his family was ruined by the attempt to develop a mine where the seam turned out not to be a sufficiently good proposition. But when the royalty owner succeeded, naturally he hoped to receive a reward. That was the impulse that led to the development of our mines.
There is a body of opinion in favour of the nationalisation of royalties. I should like those who are in favour of that idea to know exactly what takes place in Australia. Since the Government there took possession of all royalties, mineral development, with the exception of coal, which is only a fraction of what it might be, has been practically at a standstill. I have travelled over the country and seen deposits of coal, iron and some of the new metals and minerals in sight, lying in the ground, with nobody to develop them. There is no incentive to develop them. The Government will not do it. No Government department is going to start a highly speculative enterprise which may result in failure. No Government department will take the risk of doing such a thing. It is the individual who does it, and he either wins or loses.
That is the part that the royalty owner has played in this country. He has played the same part as the author of a book. If it is a good book he succeeds, but if it is a bad one he loses his money. The same with the royalty owner. In 1433 equity only, I say nothing about humanity, there is no real reason why the royalty owners should contribute to a Miners' Welfare Fund any more than there would be reason for an author to contribute a tax to the Government out of his royalties to pay for reading rooms or wireless sets for employés of publishers. So far as humanity is concerned I am sure that every royalty owner is only too willing to play his part in helping the well-being of the miners who are working on land which is his, but they have a right to say that other parties should pay a fair proportion. If the royalty owners have to pay the same proportion as before, why should not the colliery owners continue their proportion, too?
Judging from my own experience in other matters, I think it would be advisable if the men themselves paid a small contribution, however small. I have found that where the men pay something they have a feeling of ownership of anything that is provided, a feeling that it is theirs, and they are proud of it. They get more benefit from it, whether it may be a sports club, baths or anything else, if they have contributed something towards it. Once there is a feeling of ownership among the men they become more interested in it. A small contribution, therefore, would be a benefit not only to the men but to the various undertakings of the Welfare Fund.
There is one further point that I should like to make, and that is, that if the royalty owners are to continue to pay the same proportion as before, some concession ought to be made to them in regard to Income Tax and Surtax. Possibly hon. Members have not realised that the money that the royalty owners pay to the fund is not allowed to be deducted from Income Tax and Surtax. I cannot see why that should be the case. It should be made a statutory condition that any money that is paid in any form of taxation should be allowed to be deducted from Income Tax and Surtax. This is not money which the royalty owners themselves ever see. They are glad to pay it, so long as it is devoted to a good purpose, but why should the onus be placed upon them of paying Income Tax and Surtax on money which is expended on behalf of the Miners' Welfare Fund and also on money which is devoted to the Mineral Royalties' tax of 1s. in the pound. 1434 If that matter could be righted it would be only justice. If not, I honestly confess that from the point of view of the royalty owners I find it very difficult to support a Bill which is in favour of the colliery owners and does not consider the royalty owners.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
I have been listening to the Debate expecting that an hon. Member from some part of the House would explain that the deduction in the levy is made really in the interests of the coal miners. Whenever any reactionary proposal is brought forward we are told that it is in the interests of the workers engaged in the industry, and I have been expecting someone to trot out that contention this evening, but so far no hon. Member has had the impudence to say it. The hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) seemed to argue that the reduction of the levy from one penny to one halfpenny is in the interests of the Welfare Fund, that it would be better off with one halfpenny than with a penny. I may be suffering from a disability from which other hon. Members are immune, but that is what I gathered from his speech.
§ Mr. BEVAN
The hon. Member said that he hoped the activities of the Welfare Fund would go forward with undiminished vigour. I heard that fall from his lips. How the Welfare Fund is going to go forward with undiminished vigour when half its blood is drained away I do not know. The hon. Member, of course, made a typical Liberal speech. We could not gather whether he was supporting or opposing the Bill. What we know is that he went to the committee as one who was supposed to be a champion of the Welfare Levy Fund, and was used there by the Conservatives as a decoy duck. Now, apparently, he is a plucked pigeon. The truth is that the difficulties in which we are now are the direct consequence of the reactionary mood which came over the Liberal party towards the end of the last Parliament. In mining legislation the Liberal party became most reactionary and we are now getting the full benefit of the panic into which they got. They were able to turn out the Government whenever they 1435 wished, and while the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was urging the Government to the most extreme measures his followers were pulling the other way. In order to avoid an unpleasant situation the then Minister of Mines, Mr. Shinwell, resorted to the strategy of setting up a committee, but Mr. Shinwell took the protestations of the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton at their face value and put him on the committee thinking that he would be a champion of the penny.
§ Mr. MANDER
Are we to understand that the Secretary for Mines in the Labour Government endeavoured to pack the Committee?
§ Mr. MANDER
Did he not also make the mistake of putting on the Committee Mr. Alf Smith as the Miners' representative?
§ Mr. BEVAN
There is no doubt at all about that. I have not the least hesitation in saying that the appointment of Mr. Alf Smith on the Committee was a first-class blunder. It will be observed, on the other hand, that the Miners' Federation gave evidence to the Committee making it quite clear that the miners stood for a 1d. levy and dissociated themselves from the report of Mr. Alf Smith. My point, however, is that Ministers in future will never want to rely upon these cardboard men who are painted to resemble iron, and who, whenever it comes to the firing line, will always quail and let them down.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I have already said that the conclusion we must come to is that Mr. Shinwell, as the Minister for Mines, having the best interests of the miners at heart, was favourable to continuing the 1d., but he was faced with a Parliamentary situation in which he had at that moment to dodge the issue. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that. He tried to defend the miners from a re- 1436 actionary House of Commons. The complexion of the House of Commons has now changed and there is no one here now who, by strategy or dodging or in any other way, will save the miners. That is the position. What we have to discuss here is whether this House is going to protect the miner or the coalowner. No one has dared to suggest till now that this reduction from a 1d. to a ½d. is in the interest of the miners, but we have had the speech of a coalowner to tell us that the reduction is in the interest of the coalowner, and as this is a coalownrs' Parliament Members will go into the Lobby, of course, and vote for the Bill.
Whenever a commission or committee is appointed hon. Members quote the findings as though they possessed Papal infallibility. That is a point of view which is making me tired. The duty of a commission is to collect and classify information in a form in which it is easily acceptable. A member of a commission is no more able to make a sound judgment on the evidence than is a Member of Parliament who has access to the same evidence. I am entirely unmoved by the fact that any commission came to a certain conclusion. The members of a commission must buttress their conclusions by evidence and facts. If they do not so buttress their conclusions they leave me entirely unmoved, and they ought to leave Members of this House unmoved, unless we are to abrogate our functions as Members of Parliament. I ask hon. Members to address themselves to the fact, not that the commission recommended a reduction from 1d. to ½d., but to the reasons advanced for the reduction. I suggest, that if they read the report they will see that the reasons for the reduction are inadequate.
I sat on a welfare committee for many years and I have an intimate personal knowledge of the local administration of this fund. When I know that the South Wales district committee have had schemes for many years aggregating £176,000 and had only at the last ascertainment £8,000 to distribute, I find it difficult to believe hon. Members when they say that the purposes for which the fund was set up have been achieved. Think of the circumstances in the mining industry. It is the districts where these industries are situated which have to pay the highest price for industrial activities. 1437 The steel industry and the coal industry in Great Britain have made veritable industrial hells of almost all the places where they are situated. Yet a very large proportion of the wealth of this country has been produced in those centres, in South Wales, in the industrial parts of Lancashire and Scotland, the North-East Coast, Durham, and Northumberland. Look at Lancashire!
§ Mr. BEVAN
The hon. Member's aesthetic sense has given way under his environment in Lancashire. I would ask hon. Members to visualize the circumstances in these mining villages. If this was necessary in 1921 it is even more necessary now. In 1920 and 1921 and for a few years afterwards, unemployment in the mining industry was comparatively small, but now we have over 300,000 unemployed. In these villages the men are hanging about the streets and have nowhere else to go except the local welfare centre. Their homes are very often unpleasant in the extreme; indeed, I could say harder things than that. We have never caught up with the industrial revolution. We have never got rid of the legacy of bad housing from the industrial revolution. We were starting to deal with it in many of the mining districts, but just as the local authorities were becoming more enlightened and were creating more amenities, unemployment overtook them. Their financial resources have been gravely reduced and the process of improvement has been arrested. Surely this is a moment at which money for amenities in the industrial areas is required more than ever. If any hon. Member will come to my district he will see hundreds nay thousands of men of all ages from 14 to 50, and even up to 70, walking about the streets in the harsh winter climate with nowhere to go except the billiard room or the library, or the games room of the welfare institute. Many of the institutes are 1438 miserably inadequate and in debt. We had hoped that if a Bill were brought in to deal with the Welfare Fund, even if the fund could not be increased, the things upon which it could be spent would be increased. These men are caught up there, they cannot escape, they cannot go somewhere else, they do not live on the borders of cities. They live 20 or 30 miles away from the nearest cities, where the public libraries and museums and picture galleries are. They cannot get at them, and I would therefore urge hon. Members to look upon this question with a little more sympathy than has been evidenced in some quarters to-night. I would also ask hon. Members to realise that the reduction from a penny to a halfpenny is not necessary in the interests of the coalowners themselves. No one can prove that this halfpenny per ton gravely embarrasses the mining industry. Nobody has the cheek to put that out. It certainly does not embarrass one owner as against another, because they all equally have to bear it. It no more embarrasses the mining industry than the 10d. per week for unemployment benefit embarrasses them. It bears equally upon all, so that each competitor is in the same position as his fellow. The only point that could be made is that it increases the price of a ton of coal by a halfpenny or by a penny, but are we to be promised that if this halfpenny is taken off, the coalowners will reduce the price of coal by a halfpenny per ton? Do we understand that?
§ Mr. BEVAN
The deficiency payment is largely the fiction of an agreement. A coalowner can be making a rate of profit higher than the average rate of profit returned on capital, and still show a deficit. This business of the deficit has nothing to do with the economics of the industry. If the coalowners themselves are not embarrassed in competition one with another, because they all have to bear it, and if the argument advanced is that this increases the price of coal to a level where they cannot sell the same quantity in competition with gas or oil, do we therefore understand that the Secretary for Mines has a guarantee from the coalowners that if this Bill is passed, the coalowners will reduce the price of 1439 coal by a halfpenny per ton? I would like him to answer that question. Do we understand that the coalowners claim that these charges increase the average price to a point where the same quantity cannot be sold?
I would like the Secretary for Mines to tell us if that is so. I will sit down for him to answer. He does not answer. If consequently the reduction is not going to be passed on in the price of coal, it is a halfpenny per ton for the coalowner's pocket. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the ascertainments?"] The ascertainments go to show that the coalowners have failed to make up their profits to the extent of 15 per cent. of standard wages, but they still make profits in many cases. All that I want hon. Members to admit is that this is a Bill to take a halfpenny per ton from the welfare of the miners in order to increase the owners' profits by a halfpenny per ton. As long as that is admitted, I do not mind. Then we are clearly on the ground that this House of Commons, having to choose between the welfare of the miner and the welfare of the coalowner, chooses the welfare of the coalowner.
§ Sir A. BAILLIE
In order to clarify my position in regard to the welfare of the miner and of the owner, I should like to say that in my particular village in Scotland the Miners' Welfare Fund has been devoted entirely to building a cinema theatre, which has no reading room or any other facilities of that kind, and at which a miner, if he goes, pays exactly the same as I do. I merely ask for my own information whether the miner in my district has benefited by the erection of a cinema theatre.
§ Mr. BEVAN
It may be that he benefits because there was no cinema in the village before. That has happened in many cases. It has happened in quite a number of cases also that a cinema has been established for the purpose of providing revenues for the maintenance of the institute. Many of the district committees favour the development of commercial enterprises in connection with their institute, because they provide adequate funds for its maintenance. The miners cannot afford to buy books in any large quantity or equip rest rooms and games rooms, so they have to have billiard rooms and cinemas in order to provide 1440 funds for the maintenance of the other facilities.
§ Mr. BEVAN
So we are coming to understand that this is a Bill not only in the interests of the coalowner but in the interests of private enterprise in general. It is a Bill to support the cinema proprietor as well as the coalowner. The fact is, however, that instead of the profits of the cinema going to the cinema proprietor, they go to provide books for the miner.
§ Mr. BEVAN
The workmen in the hon. Member's village would be only too delighted if the district fund gave them a grant to attach a library and games room on to the cinema building. In many instances they have not been able to do it. I have known instances where an institute has been set up and could not be maintained because of lack of funds, and where it would have been better if a cinema had been built first and an institute afterwards. These, however, are committee points, and if hon. Members want to amend the Bill in that respect they can easily do so. That is no reason for reducing the welfare levy to one halfpenny. It is only a reason for modifying the administration of the fund. It is not a reason for reducing the money at the disposal of the fund. Hon. Members should realise that if this Bill goes through it will practically destroy the welfare fund. It will work out at £8,000 per district, for general welfare purposes; £202,000 per year among 25 districts. To all intents and purposes the General Welfare Fund will disappear. In this Bill £175,000 a year is being taken for pithead baths. That is a staggering proposition. Pithead baths ought to have been provided in Great Britain, as on the continent, at the expense of the owners years ago. We are the most backward country in Europe in that respect.
We had a speech to-night from a royalty owner in which he spoke of the romance of royalty owners. His speech was a romance, for it had nothing to do with the facts. There are coalowners 1441 who have accumulated vast fortunes by destroying every vestige of beauty in the valleys of South Wales, and who, instead of spending their money on rebuilding the townships and the country which they have destroyed, gain a reputation for benevolence by doing settlement work in the East End of London. There are families of royalty owners and coalowners who do not live in the places they have uglified, and when we argue that such places ought to be improved by the expenditure of more money they come to the House with a mean, miserable Bill to take away from the miners the funds they have been using to make their lives a little brighter—for which the miners, as an hon. Friend reminds me, pay.
This Bill is part of the redemption of the promises made to men who went to France in 1914. They were made as a consequence of the Report of the Sankey Commission. Indeed, the industrial workers of Great Britain generally were promised that if they played their part during the War they would receive their reward afterwards. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) made moving speeches, at a time when he represented Tories as well as Liberals, in which he said he was going to create a land fit for heroes to live in. He made speeches in this House to justify the welfare levy on the ground that during the War the miners had done their duty like patriots, and that the very least we could do was to try to repair the ravages which wealth-building has made in the mining districts. Some things have been done in that direction, but now you are going back on our promises and dishonouring our pledges. You extracted from the miners at that time the most devoted heroism and said you would give this in return. You are now taking it away by this mean and miserable device. Only those men and women who have not been brought up in a mining village could be guilty of doing it. Only those who live away from the industrial areas upon which they depend for their fortunes could do a dastardly trick of this description.
Hon. Members astonish me when they support a mean action of this kind. These amenities make all the difference between tolerableness and hell for many of our own people. Men have been thrown out of the mining industry at 45 and 50 years 1442 of age, with no prospect of work there or anywhere else. The only comfort they have is to go and smoke a pipe and play a game of chess or draughts or billiards, or read a book, in the welfare room. The young people have little else. If the House cannot come to the rescue of the mining industry, is it too much to ask that it should not do a mean thing like this to the miners? I ask hon. Members in all parts of the House whether they would not feel a little bit more decent and a bit better if they went home this evening after having rejected this Bill? If they give the Bill a Second Reading they ought not to feel very recent people, because they are only making more despairing, more drab and more grey the lives of a community who have been dealt hard blows in the course of the last 15 or 20 years. The miners of Great Britain do the most hazardous work in the most unpleasant and disagreeable conditions. They live in the most unpleasant and disagreeable districts, and they are among the worst paid of the industrial population. They deserve better treatment at the hands of their country than they are getting, and it is a mean, dishonourable and un-English thing to come to this House and take a halfpenny which is doing some little to make their lives more tolerable.
§ 10.46 p.m.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
I hope that the House will now be ready to come to a decision. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I want to answer one or two of the questions that have been put to me.
§ Mr. BROWN
I said that I intended to answer one or two of the questions. The first point is about the pension fund, and it was put to me by the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander). In the original Act the legal difficulty was not because of the fund, but because of the definition of the word "workers," and the problems arising out of that definition to which the Committee have very clearly made reference, caused us to redefine "workers." It is the result of that redefinition of "workers" and not because of any specific provision in the Bill that I made the answer that pensions cannot be excluded as one of the objects of the Bill. "Workers" are redefined here. Hon. Members will understand that the 1443 Committee has complete control as to the decision. If hon. Members will turn to page 61 of the report of the Departmental Inquiry of 1931 they will see the following:Our view on this point is that miners' welfare in the sense in which that expression is generally understood and the question of superannuation are two distinct matters that should not be confused or brought together in the same scheme. The fund was set up to provide welfare facilities for miners; a great deal of evidence has been submitted to us to show how much still requires to be done to make these facilities complete, and, until they are complete, we do not think that any part of the fund should be allowed to be diverted from its original purpose. This is not to say that we do not fully sympathise with the desire for superannuation schemes, but we think that if such schemes are to be provided by means of a levy it should be a special levy, particularly imposed and ear-marked for that purpose.Later on, the same paragraph says this:Had we received evidence that there was a general desire on both sides of the industry for the Miners' Welfare Fund to be used to provide pensions, we should have had to regard this as evidence that the present work of the fund had been largely done, but even this would not have altered our view that as a matter of principle a Welfare Fund and a Pensions Fund are different things and should he kept separate, and in actual fact the evidence we received showed—I hope that the House will take notice of these words—definite opposition to the proposals on the part of the owners, no universal feeling about it on the workmen's side (though certain districts strongly favoured it) and much to indicate that if pensions were provided from the fund it could only be at the expense of other important welfare work.I think that that makes it quite clear that the Bill does not specifically alter the situation. It is in the definition of "workers" that the legal position is altered. I want to say a word about the point raised by the hon. Member for Dunfermline (Mr. J. Wallace). He raised the question of retrospective legislation. He is under some misunderstanding. It is only retrospective in one regard. Nobody who watched the passage of the Bill of 1931, or who has listened to the varying accounts of the Committee stage being given to the House by hon. Members of different parties during the present Debate, would have imagined that the Bill went through with the idea that the penny 1444 was for five years without qualification. It was for five years subject to the appointment of the committee of inquiry set up by the Labour Government. What the committee recommended was that, beginning with the 1932 levy, it should be ½d. It is only a matter of practical difficulty that has delayed the Bill until now. An announcement was made as soon as the Government had studied the report with the evidence and made up its mind, and heard representations about the matter. As soon as that was done the announcement was made, and it was made quite clear that legislation would be introduced and the position made regular and statutory. So, in the sense of five years, there was no retrospective legislation.
§ Mr. J. WALLACE
Am I wrong in stating, as I did in my speech, that there was statutory authority for paying the penny per ton to the end of 1935?
§ Mr. BROWN
Yes, there was, of course, and there is now, until this legislation is passed. But the Government have made it perfectly clear by the announcement of their intention eight months ago, and this legislation is the result. It was only the practical difficulty that caused the delay. I think the House would be interested in the explanations that have been given of Mr. Shinwell's mind both as regards the setting up of the committee and the appointments to the committee. I can only say that the impression left on my mind is that when Mr. Shinwell reads the verbatim report of the speeches in this Debate, he will say, "Save me from my friends! I will go further, and point out that I gave the House a quotation from his original speech in the Committee stage not with any polemical idea, because I have tried in dealing with this matter not to raise party points, but because this is real history. My hon. Friend in his quiet and impressive way, and my hon. Friend in his more vigorous and rhetorical way, both said the same thing. The Labour Members passed it to the Liberals below the Gangway. The hon. Member for East Wolverhampton, who said that we must not have it both ways, and he, who seems to think that he has a monopoly of having it both ways, passes it on to the Conservative party. Hon. Members must not take it in that way. We do not take it from the hon. Member for Normanton 1445 (Mr. T. Smith) or the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) as though they were the only exponents of Mr. Shinwell's mind, of his tactics, of his methods of appointing committees, or otherwise. I have already quoted from his speech on the Committee stage of the Bill; I will now quote the speech he made when he had got through the Committee stage, on the Third Reading of the Bill before the House. Hon. Members on the Opposition side will give Mr. Shinwell credit for telling the House of Commons then what he really thought. After joining in the tributes which had been paid to the Welfare Fund, he said:I was anxious that the activities of the fund should not be arrested. At the same time, several hon. Members were apprehensive regarding the scope and administration of the fund and expressed doubts as to whether it was desirable in the interests of the industry, particularly having regard to the economic position, to raise, as they described it, so large a sum of money in any given year. I responded to the mild criticism that was offered, and I believe succeeded in convincing the Committee that to interfere with the finance of the fund at this stage would throw the scheme out of gear, and would not only be resented by the mining community but would not be in accordance with the wishes of the House when the Act was passed. At the same time, I share the apprehensions of hon. Members regarding the future of the fund. For that reason, I promised to conduct an investigation by means of a committee to be set up, and to ensure that the committee would report as quickly as possible.Nothing could be clearer than that. Then I will leave it to the judgment of the House and the judgment of any fair-minded man the question of who correctly represents what Mr. Shinwell actually said to the House. My answer is that that arose from the facts of the industry, from the facts of the ascertainments, from the fact of representations, from the fact of the strong division of opinion in the industry—[Interruption.] The hon. Member is very found of making rhetorical suggestions, but this Bill is objected to as strongly by the owners, because they think the ½d. is too much and the period of 20 years too long, as it is by hon. Members opposite because they think the ½d. is too little and the period too short. I come now to Mr. Shinwell's apprehensions, which he expressed in Committee and on the Third Reading, and which were borne out by the evidence given before the committee, the report of the committee, and the 1446 facts of the ascertainments in the present economic state of the industry. If Mr. Shinwell was entitled to feel apprehension in 1931, is not a Minister of Mines entitled, after the worst year that the industry has known in post-War times, to feel apprehensions about the economic state of the industry now, and to say that this is a reasonable proposal having regard to the state of the industry?
§ Mr. G. MACDONALD
May I ask what objection the Government have to asking for an increased contribution from the royalty owners?
§ Mr. BROWN
The answer is that, as my hon. Friend knows, that is a separate issue, which is defined in terms of a separate Act, and, as a member of the Welfare Committee, my hon. Friend knows that that was outside the committee's terms of reference. We are dealing with the situation arising there, and my hon. Friend has heard one Member of the House express an entirely different opinion from the royalty owners' point of view. Only one other material point has been raised. It is said that general welfare work will stop, but that again, of course, is just rhetoric. With the sums that I have indicated to the House, plus the interest available, this Bill does three things. It provides a 20-year programme and £375,000 a year for pithead baths, while £20,000 is allocated under the Bill for research, plus £12,400 which is the interest on the Endowment Fund of £259,000, plus £1,750 from the Exchequer, plus such other contributions as the Central Welfare Committee might feel inclined to make out of their share of the residue, and the residue, plus the interest and other sums, will amount to roughly £250,000 a year for 20 years, or £5,000,000 in all.
§ Mr. BROWN
Certainly, but I pointed out that, taking interest and other sums, it is roughly true to say that the amount would average about £250,000 a year for 20 years, or £5,000,000 in all, to be spent on general welfare work. No thoughtful man on any side of the industry would do anything to cripple welfare work. Mr. Shinwell's speeches prove that he felt apprehensions, and his Committee's report showed that those apprehensions were well founded having regard to the 1447 state of the industry. I can claim to-night that the Government have done their very utmost to produce a fair solution of the problem, and, in doing so, to safeguard every interest of this great and beneficent fund.
§ 11.0 p.m.
§ Mr. CURRY
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) made a speech of great power and force which I am sure had a great effect on all who heard it, but I feel that, when he sees the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow, he will regret the way he opened that wonderful discourse, because he told us that, when the Labour party were faced with a situation they dodged it and then proceeded to appoint a committee which the Minister deliberately packed and then complained that the evidence that had been submitted had been considered rather more on its merits than they had anticipated. He will allow me, as an admirer of his, to say I think he would render greater service to his party even than he does if he had omitted that allusion to a previous Parliament. As a newcomer to the House I think things are improving as we go along. The Minister has given us a very interesting and illuminating speech, but he left me rather dissatisfied with the explanation as to why the proposals of this Bill are retrospective. The fact, as I understand it, remains that there was a statutory duty resting upon the Department to collect this levy up to the present time, and it is to me rather a disconcerting thing if the executive anticipate the sanction of Parliament in this way. It is very dangerous to anticipate that events are going to go along and leave duties unperformed for as long a time as two years in the hope that you will be able to put yourself right by subsequent legislation. I think that method deserves the strongest protest. It is a violation of our constitutional practice and it should not be allowed to pass without the very strongest protest by His Majesty's Commons.
I want to examine what the Bill really does. I can speak at first hand of some of the work which the Welfare Fund has enabled to be done, because I have lived all my life in a mining district and have moved about among the homes of the miners. When I am faced with a Bill that 1448 deprives the fund of a portion of its revenues, I feel that we should not forget the tremendously good work which has been done in the last 10 years and which is now to be curtailed. I would direct attention to a passage in the committee's report:We have made it clear in the preceding chapters that there is still a very considerable amount to be done before the great work which was instituted by the Mining Industry Act of 1920 can be said to have been carried out with a reasonable degree of completeness.If the work that was then visualised cannot be carried out, it is obvious that, if this Bill passes, the further work that was anticipated will never be attempted. Speaking of the reduction of the levy, they say:This will mean a considerable restriction in the welfare facilities provided in many directions and the delaying of the provision required in some places for a good many years.It requires a lot of argument to take the responsibility of passing this Bill in the face of the general laudation which this work has received to-night. Even the Minister in making out his case that the industry was very seriously situated overlooked the fact that unemployment in the mining industry within the last two years has decreased. I understand that there are fewer miners unemployed than was the case in 1932 when this committee reported.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
May I point out to the hon. Member that those figures depend upon the relation of the regularly employed to those who are only partially employed or temporarily stopped, and the calculation should be made with that reservation. If he will join an examination of the comparison of the number of shifts worked with those figures he will see the reason for that.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
If the hon. Member would look at the figures which relate to the men on the colliery books, he will find that there is an increase of 3,500.
§ Mr. CURRY
If we cannot accept figures given by the Minister in questions, I cannot base myself on a higher authority. My general point against the Bill can be briefly stated. Quite apart from reducing the amount of levy, the time has come when we must widen the scope of the fund. There are all sorts of things which need doing, if the mining areas of the country are to be brought up to anything like modern requirements. Those of us who are personally connected with these industries cannot forget that in these post-War days we have to make up a leeway of a 100 years of neglect. That is the plain, simple position.
There is a lot of talk about pensions, and I do not really know what is the position. As far as I understand the Bill, the Central Fund will be empowered legally to contribute to pensions schemes, but it will be practically disabled for want of money. I think that that is a fair statement of what is being done. In the County of Durham—there are hon. Members above the Gangway who can bear me out—a superannuation fund was started by voluntary effort of the miners themselves. Having subscribed for years out of their hard earned wages, thousands of them are to-day left without a pension for which they have paid. There is no community in the country which has developed its social consciousness to look after the aged in the way the mining community has. If the scope of the fund is being widened in order to give the committee statutory power to contribute to this sort of thing, it is merely a mockery of suffering to deprive the committee of the ability to exercise that privilege.
When the Minister made the statement to-night about the power of the committee to contribute to pensions, he did not appreciate what would be the result of such a rule The hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) told us that in Lancashire they were refusing to spend 1450 on ordinary welfare work in order to develop or accumulate a nucleus out of which to start a pensions fund. In the old days when proposals came forward, the Central Committee were enabled to say: "We have not the power; it is ultra vires." In future they will be unable to say that, and the pressure from the district committees for pensions out of the Fund will not only retard but will prevent the general welfare work that has been going on. If we are to visualise the Welfare Fund administering the pension needs, then the proposal should not be to reduce the levy but to increase it in order to produce a practical scheme. The fund was started, as the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) said, as the result of the Sankey Report, which has been a matter of high controversy with us who carry on public work in the mining areas. We know the Sankey Reports, six or seven of them, almost word for word.
The main Sankey report was issued at a time when the whole of the industry was a mass of discontent, and the discontent grew; certainly it was not allayed up to 1926, when the great stoppage came. Since then, a new temper seems to have come into the mining industry. The men and their leaders have struggled and striven to create a condition and a temper which will enable peace within the industry to be maintained, and I think it is politically unwise at a time when everything is quiet and everybody wants peace in the industry, to take back 50 per cent. of the most valuable concession which has ever been given to the industry; a concession which was given at the height of discontent. On grounds of practical interest the Bill cannot be substantiated. On grounds of political wisdom, it must stand condemned, and I appeal to the Minister, even now, to take back the Bill and have another discussion with those who are concerned. The Bill will leave behind it in the mining fields a tremendous sense of disappointment and grievance. For the practical use that the Bill is, it is no good contemplating the trouble, disappointment and suffering which it would entail.
§ 11.15 p.m.
§ Mr. PALING
The one outstanding feature of the Debate has been that there has not been a single whole-hearted supporter of the Bill, including even the 1451 Minister and one of the signatories of the report. When the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) was speaking I was hoping to hear some good reasons why the penny should be reduced to a halfpenny but I did not hear one, and the hon. Member signed the majority report in favour of the reduction.
§ Mr. PALING
I am afraid that I cannot follow his correction. The Secretary for Mines is also half-hearted in his support of the Bill—I have heard him support other things much more vigorously—and I am wondering whether it is possible for him to withdraw the Measure and bring forward something much better. The Secretary for Mines argued that the Bill was justified on the report of the Committee of Inquiry. I have read the report. It gives a clear and definite statement of all that has been done, but the last thing it does is to provide good reasons for reducing the levy to ½d. It says:It would be possible to spend money almost indefinitely before it could be said that the social well-being, recreation and conditions of living of the mining community had been exhaustively provided for in every conceivable direction.That is not a bad start. It goes on to discuss the facilities which are supposed to be provided for outdoor recreation and social activities, and says:We find, however, that four districts have had no buildings of this kind from the fund, and a fifth only one, while the evidence we receive from 16 other districts, excluding some of the larger, showed that about 100 of their mining communities of varying sizes have as yet received no grant from the fund for any recreational purpose, about 100 more no grant for the purpose of indoor recreation or meetings.I leave that and come to the provision of institutes and billiard halls, and it must be remembered that the levy was intended to provide for the women and children as well. In this connection the committee say:In so far as women are concerned there has been no provision whatever up to the present, and if any provision is to be made it must be made out of moneys provided in the fund.Also in reference to institutes and halls it says: 1452No doubt in a large proportion of the institutes and halls social entertainments of various kinds are frequently organised for both sexes, but so far as their daily use is concerned many of them have no place which women can be expected to use, nor are they encouraged or desired to do so.In regard to the younger generation, and this is one of the main features, the Committee says:We believe, moreover, that more important than anything else is the provision of the right kind of welfare facilities for the coming generation. Little has hitherto been done in this direction apart from the provision of playing grounds for the very small children.As to outdoor recreation it says:Altogether about 630 different places have had grants for outdoor recreation purposes, many of them, however, too limited facilities which cannot be said to have met the local needs.Another important feature is that one of the main things for which it was intended to provide was the health and well-being of the miners, and their health particularly. Among other things they expressly encouraged district committees to spend money on such things at convalescent homes, and on hospitals too. But the amount that has been spent is small in comparison with what the Committee thinks ought to be spent. For instance the Report states:But in eight districts no convalescent facilities are being provided from the fund.It has been estimated that in the districts which have provided convalescent home facilities from the fund, whether ticket schemes or otherwise, the proportion of men employed who have obtained admission varies from 1.9 in Ayrshire to 1 in 56 in South Wales. The number of accidents in mines is tremendous. I have never seen any evidence in this respect, but I do not think it is wrong to state that probably the mining community, not only the men but their wives, need convalescent facilities more than any other community in the country. In spite of that need, little has been done, as is indicated in the Committee's own Report. The Report states:In view of this, the facilities already offered in most districts which provide any at all seem reasonably complete, for only in the two Yorkshire districts, Durham, South Staffordshire and South Wales, is the chance of each worker getting admission to a home less than once in 19 years.1453 There is only provision now to provide one chance in 19 years, and they state that this may be considered reasonably complete compared with the lack of facilities everywhere else. If there are empty beds in the homes it is not because there are not people to occupy them. One of the difficulties is getting the wherewithal to go—the clothes and money.
Then there is the question of research. It has been stated that a greater amount is to be taken out of the halfpenny than was taken out of the penny in the past for research purposes. I am not against research. The report states:The money expended on health and safety research in this country is even at the present time less per man employed in the industry than that expended in the United States, Germany or France.But in view of the fact that more money is to be spent out of the halfpenny than out of the penny, it means that the amount left for recreational facilities is very small indeed.
Next there is the question of trained leaders. The report states that every community ought to have its trained leader to help it to make the best use of its leisure hours. If our people are provided with the facilities and with a little money, they know how to spend their time. It is not necessary to train them in the use of leisure. I am afraid that what is in mind is training the miners, as the soldiers were trained to do the goose-step, and to try to regiment them into being glorified boy scouts and that kind of thing. There is another suggestion here—and this also has to come out of the halfpenny. It is that there should be about 15 trained people employed as organisers. The hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) was in favour of that, and said that these people could go to the districts and help to co-ordinate the work. I was on the South Yorkshire Welfare Committee and am still a member of the local welfare committee in my own district. We never found any difficulty in that respect. If there were any difficulties about planning or architecture, or anything of that kind, we always had at our disposal the help of the central authority in London. My experience shows that there is no necessity whatever for these 15 people, or for paying £15,000 in salaries. This again, 1454 as I say, has to come out of the halfpenny, where nothing previously came out of the penny, in that respect.
Lastly, we come to what I think is the real reason for the reduction. If we take the evidence given in the report we must come to the conclusion that the committee more or less say: "We agree that good work has been done, but much more remains to be done, and some of the work that remains is urgent and necessary, and in order to enable us to get on with it we propose that the money available should be cut down by 50 per cent." That sums up the committee's report. Then they state, towards the end of their report, that the reduction of the levy, for the present at all events, should give appreciable relief to the finances of the industry. I very much question whether that matter comes within their terms of reference. They were asked to look into the work of the welfare committees and not into the question of whether the industry could afford to pay for it or not. But, having said that much further work is necessary, and that there is work for the penny levy, they boldly and definitely state, as the main reason for a reduction, that the finances of the industry are in a parlous state. I ask the Secretary for Mines to look into the question of whether these people have not exceeded their terms of reference and whether they are in order at all in making any such recommendation.
In view of what the hon. Gentleman will excuse me for describing as his rather half-hearted support of his own Bill, I wish to suggest to him that perhaps he will find it possible, after what has been said, to take it back. I ask him to remember that the miners have come through a very tough time in the last 10 years. Our wages have been reduced to the minimum and have been there for years and seem likely to stay there for some time. Our hours have been increased. Our local standards at nearly every pit in the country have been attacked and in many cases broken down. At Geneva only a few months ago, where we hoped to secure an Hours Convention, our National Government played a big part in spoiling that Convention. A few weeks ago we came to the Government with the modest request that a National Wages Board should be set up, and we met with something in the nature 1455 of a refusal. This is the sixth thing we are asked to give up—the facilities that have been provided and the money that has been so well spent—in face of the fact that so much remains to be done. I ask the Minister of Mines to keep these things in mind, as well as what his own people have said about this Bill to-night, and their attitude towards it, and to see whether he cannot withdraw it and let the penny remain.
§ 11.31 p.m.
§ Mr. MOLSON
I apologise for speaking so late, but I have sat through the whole Debate, and this is the only way of indicating that even the most faithful supporters of the Government will at last insist on making their voices heard on nights when the Eleven o'Clock Rule has been suspended. With regard to what has fallen from the last speaker, there has never been at any time any undertaking that the Miners' Welfare Fund should exist for all time. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) made a very great point in his eloquent speech that this was somewhat going back on a bargain that had been made with the miners. There was never any undertaking at all except that there should be a levy for a period of five years. That period has already been extended for a further period of time, and is now being extended for a period of 20 years. I think it is unfortunate that those who claim to represent the miners should make claims which are entirely devoid of any substance and justice.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
There certainly was no explicit promise made, but it was said that this levy was introduced in order to remove from the mining villages certain conditions which were regarded as blots. Those conditions still remain, and until they are wiped out the promise remains undischarged.
§ Mr. MOLSON
Any statement as general as that cannot be brought forward as an argument against this Bill. The whole of the evidence in the report—as is known to those of us who live and work in mining areas—is that a very great deal of work has been done by this fund in the past, and it may be said that in many parts of the country, like South Yorkshire, the bulk of what it was intended that the fund should do has 1456 already been done. As far as the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Paling) is concerned, he referred to this report as showing that the money had been well spent. The fact that there is at present in Lancashire, as was pointed out by the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald), no less than £180,000 unspent, and the fact that in the general administration of the fund by the district committees, there is in the whole of Chapter 16 of the report most extraordinary evidence of inefficiency and waste, show that there is not now the urgent need for expenditure upon these welfare works that there was 10 years ago, and that there was urgent need for the appointment of a committee to go into the whole matter and to investigate the administration of the fund.
One of the recommendations of the Committee was that the district fund should be done away with and that the whole of the proceeds of the penny or halfpenny should be paid into the central fund. I am glad that the Government, finding that the opinion of the industry is, I think, almost unanimous upon this subject—I think it is in my part of the country—have decided not to accept that recommendation. I think the recommendation was put forward for another reason, and that was in order to obtain greater control over the expenditure of money. It has been largely because the district committees were not guided by expert advice and because the Central Council had not a skilled organisation to enable it to check the proposals that were put before it from the localities, that so much money has been wasted. I am sorry that in his final speech the Secretary for Mines was not able to tell us whether the various other recommendations of the Committee which do not require legislation but which have a great bearing upon the way in which the fund is to be administered in future, and whether the recommendations for greater centralisation are going to be carried out.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
That is in the discretion of the Central Welfare Committee after their consideration of the Report.
§ Mr. MOLSON
There are two respects, although I support the Bill as a whole, in which I hope the Secretary for Mines will be prepared to accept amendments. 1457 The first is with regard to the question of pensions. I confess that I still do not fully understand exactly what the position is to be. There was a very weighty recommendation from the whole of the Committee, except the hon. Member for Ince, who said that in their view the Welfare Fund had been established for certain welfare purposes, and that it should not be extended to pensions. I think that if the actual proceeds of the fund are going to be diminished to put upon it some charge which has not been on it in the past, it is of very doubtful wisdom.
There is also the question of the reduction of the levy. The hon. Gentleman has explained that the Government made it clear some time ago that it was their intention, if the Committee recommended a reduction in the levy, that it should take place soon. It seems to me that from a legal point of view and also from the point of view of this House, it is not possible for us to take the view that the Government should announce in advance
§ that it intends to make some change in the law. It is for us to take the view that until the Government have come to us and obtained our assent to a change of that kind the old law must obtain and remain in force. So, while generally approving of this Bill, not with enthusiasm, because no one desires the fund should be diminished, but recognising the grave position of the coal mining industry at the present time, and seeing that there is not now the same urgent need for expenditure upon welfare schemes that there was in the past, I support the Bill. On the Committee stage, however, I should certainly vote in favour of Amendments which will prevent it from being retrospective and which will, in the matter of pensions, eliminate all possibility of any of the diminished fund being used for that purpose.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 150; Noes, 49.1459
|Division No. 93.]||AYES.||[11.50 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Erskine-Boist, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Albery, Irving James||Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Mitcheson, G. G.|
|Apsley, Lord||Fraser, Captain Ian||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Fuller, Captain A. G.||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Peake, Captain Osbert|
|Balniel, Lord||Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Penny, Sir George|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||Peters, Dr. Sidney John|
|Bateman, A. L.||Graves, Marjorie||Petherick, M.|
|Blindell, James||Greene, William P. C.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bliston)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Grimston, R. V.||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Hanbury, Cecil||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Harbord, Arthur||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Hartland, George A.||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Harvey, Major S. E (Devon, Totnes)||Remer, John R.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Heligers, Captain F. F. A.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsf'd)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Burghley, Lord||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Hornby, Frank||Ross Taylor, Waiter (Woodbridge)|
|Burnett, John George||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Salmon, Sir Isldore|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Levy, Thomas||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Llonel||Mabane, William||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Spens, William Patrick|
|Dunglass, Lord||McCorquodale M. S.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Stones, James|
|Elmley, Viscount||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Storey, Samuel|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.||Tree, Ronald||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Sutcliffe, Harold||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Tate, Mavis Constance||Turton, Robert Hugh||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'oaks)|
|Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles||Wells, Sydney Richard||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Thorp, Linton Theodore||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)||Sir Victor Warrender and Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Batey, Joseph||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Milner, Major James|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Cape, Thomas||Groves, Thomas E.||Paling, Wilfred|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Price, Gabriel|
|Curry, A. C.||Harris, Sir Percy||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Daggar, George||Holdsworth, Herbert||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Janner, Barnett||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Dickie, John P.||Jennings, Roland||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dobbie, William||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on. T.)|
|Edwards, Charles||Lawson, John James||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Lunn, William||White, Henry Graham|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Magnay, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. John and Mr. G. Macdonald.|
Question put, and agreed to.