HC Deb 25 July 1934 vol 292 cc1815-95

Again considered in Committee.

[Captain BOURNE in the Chair.]

Question again proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £38,903,900, be granted for the said Service."

5.15 p.m.


As I was saying, we are becoming a more aged country. I wish to pass from these rather general figures and statistics, which might well be known more widely, to the specific point. There are now in this country more than 743,000 people over 64 years of age occupied. There are nearly 100,000 over 75 years of age and 200,000 between 70 and 75. Among this group unemployment is far heavier, as would be expected, than it is among those in the prime of life. I am obviously not suggesting that these persons should be with drawn from industry. I merely give the figure for what it is worth in order to put the thing in perspective, and to show, for example, that if we withdraw all those over 55 from industry there would probably be 1,000,000 vacancies. Without any knowledge of what is in these Commissioners' reports, I think the time has come to look ahead at the question of old age. I suggest to my right hon. Friend that he should consider very carefully the possibility of a retirement on pension. A proposition was put forward by Sir Oswald Mosley years ago and we are told the Department turned it down because the figures were all wrong. It has also been suggested by a great many people since. My suggestion is roughly on these lines, that something equal to the standard benefit be applied to those between 55 and 65—


I think that that would require legislation.


I will not go into any further details, but may I suggest that there are very nearly 300,000 persons who come within these age categories who are unemployed and are drawing transisitional payments. I think, therefore, that the benefit which would accrue would be very considerable. I think that something like one-tenth of the present unemployment could be attacked and that the cost would be infinitesimal, because, if some proposals of this kind were adopted, it would be very largely offset by savings in ordinary standard benefit and transitional payments, and to a small extent in public assistance. Anyone who has had experience of Poor Law work in the old days knows that if a man over 55 came for relief he was not asked questions. You said to him, "Good luck to you." Suppose a man of this age be a carman with four children, what is to be done with him? He cannot get into the habit of driving automobiles, and his life's work is pretty well done, so far as industry in many callings is concerned.

This is not a grandiose scheme to solve the unemployment problem. It will attack a percentage, and I put it at 10 per cent. The means test does not apply to people in this category, and I believe there are sound lines which could be followed in relation to the ordinary old age pension scheme. I dare not go any further, because I shall trespass on the Ruling of the Chair. It must be remembered that we are dealing with men in declining industries and that the chances of reemployment are very small in the distressed areas. It will be an enormous help in re-organising the basic industries of coal, cotton, shipping, and iron and steel if we can deal not only with the problem of redundant spindles and machinery, but also with the redundant personnel in the old age categories. As an hon. Member opposite said, we are beginning to organise exports, imports and basic industries, and I do not think we can leave employment to take care of itself. I am not unmindful of the fact that the Ministry of Labour placed a large number of persons last year in agricultural and industrial employment, but I think the time has come for a much closer co-operation between the Ministry of Labour and organised industry. In large numbers of industries at present there are retirement schemes dealing with pensions and so forth.

The time has come to talk about the concentration of employment in age groups. I know that this is unpopular, and I believe that the Parliamentary Secretary thinks there is very little in it. I would implore him to re-examine it. We cannot go on in this higgledy-piggledy way any longer with the extraordinary anachronism of old age in employment on the one hand, and people in the prime of life, when the expenses of a growing family are most serious, being, as it seems, permanently denied the opportunity of employment, on the other. I do not believe in making a national institution out of able-bodied unemployment and health insurance to work very much better, and would make the new Assistance Board's task very much simpler, because there is a limit beyond which the board could not go in tackling able-bodied unemployment. There are a large number of persons whom many of us would like to see brought into the unemployment insurance scheme, because they are indistinguishable in many ways from the able-bodied unemployed. We make an arbitrary arrangement, but we admit, and the Minister admits, that there is no real difference between these persons beyond the fact of their locality. No insurance scheme, and I go further and say that no assistance board, can deal with the depressed areas in a practical way because the thing has become unmanageable.

It is for that sort of reason that I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should reconsider the question of age groups, I know it is not a thing to be clone wholesale, but taking industry by industry—though I think the pension scheme must be carried through on a national basis—and the unwanted leisure which has been thrust on the heads of families while schools are putting out quite a number of raw recruits from 14 to 18. I know the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) often reminds us that juvenile unemployment is small, and to a certain extent that is true, but that is not the problem. The problem comes beween 18 and 22, and afterwards. Some of us want to see some withdrawal from the labour market of those between 14 and 18, because we think that will help that position.

I say again, with other hon. Members, that we realise the difficulty of publishing these reports, and also the difficulty of publishing parts of the reports without publishing the whole of them, but it would be a good thing for the Government and the country if we were taken further into confidence about the facts, because we should not then have so many wild things being said from both sides of the House and in the country. Grotesque things are being said about unemployment and the unemployment figures, and I cannot believe that those gentlemen who have been giving their time to this subject during the last three months have not found out many new facts. An hon. Member opposite said that there was greater rigidity of labour, owing to lack of mobility, but in the so-called industrial depressed areas the facts are different, because with the development of motor transport a man unemployed in a mine can go to work 10 or 15 miles away in a new mine, and that facility is revolutionising the whole position. In Scotland that is not the problem, but the general depression of the heavy industry economy, and its results on trade, and that makes all the more important my suggestion about dealing with old age. Therefore, I come back to the one single concrete suggestion, because it is no good talking about the problem unless we can say something definite. We are getting the beginnings of a post-war Cabinet, and I am sure hon. Members on all sides of the House will back up the energetic prosecution of the new and very difficult task to which post-war Britain has called my right hon. Friend during the last few weeks.

5.33 p.m.


The right hon. Gentleman, assisted by his Parliamentary Secretary, will probably not be at a loss to reply to some of the charges which have been made. The charge of official complacency, by the way, was not made from these benches, but by an active supporter of the Conservative Government, who has thereby prevented that charge being made by those who are looked upon as being capable of such things. I do not propose to follow that hon. Member in his reference to high policy and complacent officials or official complacency. As representing a distressed area, I say that the Government can have all their high policy and their surplus and their reports if only they will give us, in the distressed areas, immediate relief. Reference has been made to the need for the publication of the Commissioner's reports and to the promise of the Government to deal with their recommendations. It is understood that some of those reports are ready. The "Times" had a letter this morning from Sir Rhys Williams expressing the hope that the reports should be published, and although I admit that I have expressed the opinion that I have yet to be convinced that the Government can expect any information from those Commissioners which they had not already in their possession, let me pay a tribute to Sir Wyndham Portal, the Commissioner who visited the area in which I live and which I have the honour to represent. No one could have been more patient in listening to the statements made by representatives of the different organisations in the Abertillery area.

It is a very unpleasant thing for an active business man to have to listen to the observations of a professional politician, but he did it with considerable credit to himself and great credit to those who sent him. It could not have been a very pleasant task for these gentlemen to be brought into personal contact with distress such as they had only the faintest idea existed, especially in some of the mining valleys of South Wales. My reason for saying the Government have the information in their possession already and cannot expect much more is based on what was learned in the surveys, the results of which were published only in 1932. In the "Times" of last Friday there is an article by Professor H. A. Marquand, who was the bead of the staff which prepared the survey for the South Wales area. It shows that conditions are getting considerably worse in South Wales, and that article ought to be some incentive to the Government to announce their policy, in view of the fact that we shall soon be breaking up for the Recess and that our people will in all probability experience another winter even worse than last winter. The Professor says: Coal mining is the chief industry and employs about 40 per cent.—in 1923 it was 52 per cent.—of all the insured workers in employment in that region. In 1930, the last complete year before the survey was made, the output of coal was approximately 46.000.000 tons. In each following year the output has fallen, and last year was only three-quarters of what it was in 1929, while exports were only two-thirds of what they then were. I hold the opinion, for what it is worth, that there is no hope for South Wales with a bankrupt mining industry. In that article reference is made to the need for the introduction of new industries as the only possible alternative to permitting the decay to continue. The establishment of new factories in South Wales may assist us to ease the position, but will not remove all the unemployment in that area. The Government are doing very little on the lines of the suggestion made by Professor Marquand. According to the figures supplied by the President of the Board of Trade on 1st May of this year, 463 new factories, employing 25 or more workers each, were opened last year, and in addition there were 95 extensions. The extensions and the new factories gave employment, it was said, to no fewer than 29,500 persons. Those statistics were unsatisfactory in my opinion, because 409 factories had been closed down in the same period and we were not told the number of -persons who became unemployed but I will not pursue that point.

Out of the 463 new factories, 220, or nearly a half, were erected in Greater London and only two in South Wales. It would be of interest to those who come from South Wales and Monmouth to be told where those two factories were erected. There were two out of a total of 463. The number of persons employed in the 220 factories in the Greater London area was 13,450. The number employed in the two new factories in South Wales was not in excess of 450. There is optimism over more persons being in employment and the improvement in trade, and I do not grudge the Government any credit to which they are entitled in that respect, but the conditions in South Wales are worse than ever. In the course of his article in the "Times" Professor Marquand says: Our 1931 estimate of a surplus of 40,000 was made at a time when unemployment was less than it is to-day; and it was made on the assumption of a return to the 1929 level of output in coal mining and the other basic industries. To-day the surplus is greater than it was in 1931 and the social effects of prolonged unemployment are more apparent and even more deplorable. He goes on to say: Nothing short of vigorous State action can check the waste of splendid human material and the wearing down of the spirit which have gone on for so long. I have already said that South Wales will in my opinion be non-existent without a resuscitation of the coal mining industry in some form or other. If we want to ascertain the degree of distress in some of these areas there is no more reliable guide than the number of meals provided free for the children in our ele- mentary schools. In my area, in 1931, 931,602 meals were supplied to school children, and in 1933 the number had increased to 1,166,039. Since 1921 no fewer than 6,091,000 meals have been supplied to the children in a part of the division I have the honour to represent. Reference was made by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Curry) to the insured population in his area who were unemployed being in the region of 52 per cent. I am in an urban area where 62 per cent of an insured population of 7,000 is unemployed.

I desire to stress a new point in connection with the depressed areas, which is not only true of a part of my division but is generally true of all such areas in Great Britain. Migration may be a good and desirable thing for those fortunate enough to secure employment elsewhere, but the burden is increased for those who remain in the area. Let me give an illustration in connection with the General Exchequer Grant payable in the Abertillery Urban District. Under the Local Government Act of 1932 it consists of a capitation grant based upon the estimated population—and other conditions. In my area on 1st April, 1930, it was calculated at the rate of 151 pence per head of the population. Since then that figure has been reduced to 145 pence. Instead of that grant realising £20,662, as it did in 1931, it only amounted in 1934, to £19,067, a reduction of £1,595. The demands of a depressed area are as great as and even greater than others, but they have a decreased income to meet the increased demand.

I am not at liberty to cover some of the points which have been submitted to Government Departments, but I am entitled to express the opinion that, from the point of view of the distressed areas, insufficient consideration has been given to the points upon which agreement has been reached by the Urban District Councils' Association. Four of those points are well known to Members of the Government, and propose, in order to relieve distress in those areas for the period, that there should be a reduction in rates of interest charged by the Public Works Loans Board, a reduction in house rents of subsidised schemes, an increase in Exchequer grants and a spreading of the burden of poor relief over the whole country. I would direct the attention of the Minister to a case which has come to my notice in my division. The late Minister of Labour, in his annual report last year, made reference to the number of vacancies filled by applicants from districts other than those in which the work was available. Those cases are on the increase; we take no exception to them, and some of us are very grateful for them, but it is very necessary that an accurate statement of the conditions of employment should be made to applicants before they leave their homes, especially when the applicants are boys under 16 years of age.

The case to which I refer is that of three boys who were sent by the Abertillery Employment Exchange to work at a brick works about 12 miles from Bedford. Notwithstanding that they were 16 years of age, the boys were paid the handsome sum of 6d. per hour, and they were expected to work 52 hours per week. During a discussion upon this Vote on the 21st of this month, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour made a reference to the 40-hour week Convention, and said that there was no reason to believe that 40 represented what was required any more than 36 or 42. I would like to know if he is disposed to include 52 hours for boys of 16 years of age? I am informed that the boys commenced work at half-past six in the morning and remained at work until 5 o'clock in the afternoon. That period included meal times, breakfast being provided two hours after the start of the day's work. For boys living in a depressed area to commence work without food is nothing short of a scandal. The boys were lodged in a large brick-built bungalow with persons with whom boys of that age should not be allowed to associate. They had to pay Li for lodgings and keep, which left them with three or four shillings per week for what was inaptly described as "pocket-money."

Because of these conditions, the boys walked 12 miles to the Bedford Exchange in order to lay a legitimate complaint not only in regard to the conditions under which they worked but those in which they were expected to sleep. They were told by the manager of the Bedford Exchange to go back to work. Their parents were informed of the conditions, and the fathers went to Bedford and brought the boys home. Particulars of the conditions which I have related have been sub- mitted to the Abertillery Employment Exchange. I am laying no complaint against the manager of the Abertillery Exchange, but I am complaining about the information which was sent by those who were responsible for inviting applicants from Abertillery to fill vacancies in the brickyard under those scandalous conditions. Something should be done in such cases, especially when they concern boys who do not object to leaving their homes at so young an age.

An article which I was interested to read in the "Times" of the 20th of this month bears on the case. I make no apology for reading from this leading article, in view of the particulars of the case which I have just submitted to the Committee. It said: It is pretty safe to say that any English discussion of English national characteristics would give pride of place to a sense of fair play. To foreign critics we may on occasion be a nation of shopkeepers ' or 'perfidious Albion.' But a warm and hearty determination to give and receive fair play is far more conspicuous among our national traits than far-sightedness, acquisitiveness, skill in bargaining, or political adroitness. Other nations are prone to put down our success in winning and holding an Empire to these more intellectual and cold-blooded qualities. In our own judgment it is far more largely due to that instinct for seeing, hearing and understanding the other side which is at the root of that vague notion of ' fair-play.' One of the other names of that instinct is the sporting spirit '—the tendency to take the part of the under-dog, the desire to give every man his say and his chance, however much the odds and the general opinion may be against him. There is certainly no English conception of fair play or of justice in expecting boys of 16 years of age to leave a depressed area in order to accept employment under those scandalous conditions.

I have another instance of a young man in my division who was sent to work after having had a miserable six weeks' or six months' training as a bricklayer.; When he got to the place of work he was asked whether were his tools. He had not been supplied with the tools necessary for the position. He came home, and the Employment Exchange submitted his case to a court of referees in order to compel him to return money that had been given to him by the Exchange to undertake employment in another district.

The Minister draws attention in his report to some interesting facts. Refer- ences have already been made to one or two of them. He points out that June, 1933, in comparison with June, 1923, shows a contraction in employment in the productive or basic industries of nearly 1,000,000 people, while in the lighter or service industries during the same 10 years there has been an increase of 1,300,000 in the number of persons employed. He points out also that during the period there was a decrease in the mining industry of more than 537,000 persons, and that in the distributive industries there was an increase of over 593,000. In the miscellaneous services there was an increase of over 219,000. In commenting upon these statistics, and in relation to others, he said: This is perhaps one of the most striking features of the employment history of recent years. There was nothing striking about those statistics in the observations made by the Parliamentary Secretary when this matter was under discussion. He said: I do not regard it as in the least unsatisfactory that more time and labour should be devoted to the distributive, decorative and electrical trades, and so forth. I regard it as evidence of a wider distribution of interest over the lives of many people, so that the ordinary man gets a wider enjoyment out of life. You cannot sustain people who are unemployed upon mere decoration, nor by a distribution of articles which they may desire and deserve but cannot purchase. The Parliamentary Secretary also stated: That is not necessarily a thing which has to be deplored, for surely economic progress consists in the satisfaction of more and more human wants, and it is only possible to achieve that increased satisfaction of human wants by reducing the amount of time and labour devoted to producing the primary necessities of life. When you release more time and labour for the secondary necessities of life, you are able to widen the general life of the people."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st June, 1934; cols. 681-82, Vol. 291.] Is the Parliamentary Secretary quite certain that the old theory of alternative employment is inapplicable to the present situation Is he sure that those rendered idle by improvements in the methods of production will be compensated by permanent employment in the auxiliary services? If he is, it might be possible for him to estimate how long it will take to absorb all the unemployed under the improved methods of production. The Minister does not appear to be quite so confident of that as the Parliamentary Secretary, because he states in his report: These changes would be sufficiently important if they indicated merely that employment has moved away from some industries to other industries of which the nature, for the most part, is vastly different; but there seems, in addition, to be some possibility that the centre of gravity of employment is shifting from production to services. My own opinion, if these figures show anything, is that they show the extent to which the productive capacity of the industries of this country has developed. It constitutes part of our indictment of the existing economic system that it is cheaper to produce an article than it is to Bell it or distribute it. If the Parliamentary Secretary is correct, then he is not aware of the statement which is to be found in the "Times Trade Supplement" of 23rd July, 1932, that between 1913 and 1928 the increase in output per head of workers employed in 30 principal industries in Great Britain was 33 per cent., and the increase in employment was 2.2 per cent., or less than the increase in population. The expectation that by mere transfer of the surplus labour from productive industries it will be absorbed in the auxiliary services cannot be borne out by the facts.

What do the Government propose to do on behalf of the people who cannot save themselves, but who are simply vegetating in the depressed areas of Great Britain? What is their policy? Are our people to experience another winter similar to, if not worse, than that of last year? You can have all your auxiliary services; what we demand is immediate belief for the people whom we represent in the depressed areas of South Wales.

5.59 p.m.

The MINISTER of LABOUR (Mr. Oliver Stanley)

This is not the first time during this Session that the Estimates of the Ministry of Labour have been under review, but on the previous occasion on which they were discussed they were presented by my predecessor, Sir Henry. Betterton, who was able to present them with a knowledge which he had acquired over many years in the Department, and which it would be idle to pretend to rival. The standard of courtesy and humanity which he showed during his term of office will be handed down as a tradition in the Ministry of Labour, and by his successors, whoever they may be. I am sure that all of us here, irrespective of party, will join in wishing him success in the arduous and important task that he has undertaken.

I share the sorrow of the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) at the fact that my first task in representing the Ministry at this Box should be to defend my salary, because the reduction of £100 which he has moved would pretty well take up all that I have so far received. I think my hon. Friend will agree with me that, although the Ministry of Labour Vote has become almost the automatic vehicle for the discussion of this great problem of the derelict areas, it is not by any means the most convenient one. My hon. Friend has had the opportunity of seeing the work and of knowing the powers of the Ministry of Labour from both sides of this Table, and it is extraordinary what a difference that short distance makes in the view that one takes. He knows also how many of the large questions which have been touched upon during the Debate this afternoon are outside the administrative limits of this particular Department, and it is for that reason that I am forced to decline, for instance, the invitation of my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton (Mr. Macmillan) to discuss all the very many factors which, I quite agree, have to be considered in the formulation of any long-term policy. Some years ago my hon. Friend and I, as members of a group which was irreverently called by other Members of the House, of Commons the "Young Men's Christian Association," took part in writing a book, and I can assure him that, with the added experience which years have brought to us, I shall be only too glad of his advice and help in this task. My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. K. Lindsay) invited me to look further at old age; but as I gather from you, Captain Bourne, that that requires legislation, I am not permitted to do so. It is obvious, therefore, that any reply to the Debate That we have had so far must be in general terms; but I hope that hon. Members will forgive me if I attempt some short analysis of the problem that we are discussing, because I think it has its bearing both upon the appointment and upon the task of the commissioners who have been in these derelict areas.

I am not sure, as a matter of fact, that the term "derelict areas," although we have become accustomed to use it, is a very good one. I am not sure that it really conveys a very true picture of the problem with which we have to deal. In the first place, the word "derelict" rather gives one the impression of, say, the devastated regions of France after the War—whole areas laid waste, where reconstruction was a necessity, and where no signs of life could be found. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have much closer experience of these areas than I have, will agree that on the whole that would be an untrue picture—that not only does the derelict area, so called, shade off into more prosperous areas around it, but even inside the worst areas spots will be found where some particular industry or some particular pit maintains its vitality and gives life to the neighbourhood. In addition, there is the very important point, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock referred, of the increased mobility which modern transport has given to the inhabitants of a particular locality, and which, therefore, keeps the locality alive even if the particular spot in which they live may be industrially dead.


While that may be the case as far as the mines are concerned, the areas around some of the steelworks, like Ebbw Vale and Dowlais, are absolutely derelict.


I am not denying that you may find inside South Wales or in Durham areas which are derelict, and to which none of the exceptions I have mentioned may apply but I am saying that you cannot put down either South Wales or Durham, or the other areas which we are considering, as areas which are completely dead in the same sense in which we think of the devastated areas of France. Further, I am not sure that we are wise in insisting too much upon the term "area," because we must, after all, remember that the responsibility of a Government is not to places, but to people—it is not to particular areas, but to the populations in those areas. The whole history of economic development in this and other countries has been that of fluctuations in the prosperity of particular areas. As the advantages—physical, geographical and so on—of an area wax or wane, so its prosperity increases or falls; and it will, I think, be agreed that it would be impossible for any Government, so long as industry has any connection, either in its production or in its distribution, with geographical or geological features, to standardise the prosperity of an area. It is the same when you come to deal with particular industries. There again the whole economic history of the world has been that of the rise and fall of particular industries, and the whole history of any civilised nation has been that of the inevitable decline of the heavier industries as its civilisation has become more and more complex. The figures, to which some reference has been made in the course of the Debate, which deal with this subject, are extremely illuminating. If we take, as our two test months, the month of June, 1923, and the month of June, 1933—a period of 10 years—actually during that period there was an increase of nearly 500,000 in the number of insured people in employment; and that was a period in which, as is shown in the Ministry of Labour Report, the number of people employed in coal mining had decreased by 537,000, in general engineering by 109,000, in shipbuilding by 87,000, and in iron and steel by 75,000.

It is quite clear that the normal economic process which we have learned to expect has been working, and that, as labour is relieved by the easier production of, and the reduced demand for, the commoner necessities of life, so that labour has been absorbed by the more intricate requirements of a more advanced civilisation. A decrease of 500,000 in the coal-mining industry has been replaced by an increase of 600,000 in the distributive trades, a decrease in iron and steel by a comparable increase in the electrical trades, and so on. Although, of course, that change-over may create, and does create, in certain areas and in certain industries, very grave problems and very heavy stresses, yet I do not think one is entitled to regard it as an unhealthy symptom of a developing civilisation; and I am sure that it would be not only unwise, but impossible, for any Government to attempt to fight against 'an economic tide of that kind and try to standardise at any time the prosperity of this or that industry. The responsibility, not only of this Government but of any Government, is to its people. The responsibility of the Government is not to maintain the level of employment in an area or in an industry, but to find employment for its people wherever and however it can be found.

After having made that preliminary analysis, I want now to pass to the main question—the question how far the Government are entitled to say that any general trade revival will provide a cure for the particular problem which we have been discussing this afternoon. Are we entitled to regard this problem of the derelict areas, not as a separate problem requiring separate treatment, but simply as part of that main problem which must face 'any Government—the problem of the trade activity of the country? One thing, I think, is quite clear, and that is that, whether or not a general trade revival is a cure for the problem of the derelict areas, it is certainly a condition precedent. What suggestions have been thrown out during the course of this Debate for some solution of that problem? How can you deal with the problem, not of the area or of the industry, but of the population within it?

First of all, you can find work for those people where they are. There are only two ways of doing that. Either you can revive, if possible, the industries which already exist—and that, clearly, is part of a general trade revival; or you can absorb some portion of the unemployed by setting up new industries in those particular areas. Of course, a great deal of discussion can go on between economists as to whether on the whole that is a national advantage or not. One person can point to the fact that in the industrial areas of, say, South Wales, dwellings have already been provided for the workers, and also the social services and municipal activities which would have to be provided in the different areas to which those new industries might be attracted; and it may also be said that, if you deliberately encourage industries to go to places where they are farther away from their consuming centres, and where the cost of transport is higher because the distance is greater, that is a permanent charge upon the national economy, and in the long run has to be paid for by the depressed areas themselves. But, whatever force there is in those arguments, whatever may be said in favour of an industry going to Slough or in favour of its going to Durham, it is no good even beginning to argue until you have conditions in which a new industry is going anywhere at all. It is no good talking about setting up new industries in depressed areas until you have conditions of confidence, of belief in development, of general prospects of successful enterprise under which new industries will set up anywhere in Great Britain at all.

Then there is a further consideration. There may be—indeed, I think it is better to face the facts and say that there will be—people in those areas with whom you will find it impossible to deal by either of these methods. There may be people in places where it is not possible either to set up new industries or to revive old ones, people whose age, health or general experience makes it impossible, and, indeed, unfair, to demand that they should be transferred elsewhere. The alternative, of course, to the provision of work for people in the areas in which they live is the provision of work for them elsewhere—the policy of transference which has been carried on now for a considerable time by the Ministry of Labour, and which has resulted in a large number of the people from these depressed areas finding new hope and new lives elsewhere; and I rather regret that my hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar) raised those two cases with regard to transference—publicity for which can only have the effect of making young men nervous of such a policy—without having given me some notice of them, and giving me an opportunity of verifying the facts and being able to put before him the other side of the case. Naturally, now that the facts have been raised, I shall investigate them and let him know the results.

I am sure that on all sides of the House we are anxious to promote a policy of this kind. We are anxious to find new life and new hopes for the people in these areas. A visit which I recently paid to a Government training centre was the most hopeful thing that has happened to me for a considerable time. Most of the trainees, I think, came from South Wales. It was quite clear that they were interested in their training, and were desperately anxious to get the jobs which they were certain were waiting for them at the end. There is nothing that so irritates as that kind of ill-informed criticism—which, I am glad to say, is very rarely heard now in this country, but which is sometimes made abroad—that the unemployed in this country do not want work. You have only to pay a visit to a centre like that to see the energy with which people submitted themselves to the essential discipline and to the training of an industrial centre simply because the prospect was held out to them that submission to the discipline meant the chance of a new start and of permanent work. I am glad to say that in that particular centre, of 400 people who completed their training during this year, so far only five have failed to secure a job.

But I am afraid there is still a class for whom we shall not be able to find work in the place where they live, and whose age and condition make it unfair to expect them to start a new life somewhere else. It is clear that we have first of all to ensure to them a tolerable, physical life for the future, but I am not certain that, when we have done that, we have really done all that is expected of us, or that the mere possibility of physical existence for the rest of their lives is all that they are entitled to ask. We have to go beyond that and bring into their lives some sense of dignity and utility, some sense of feeling that they are of use to themselves and to the community. However we are going to do that, it is no good closing our eyes to the fact that it will cost money, that it will be a burden on someone, that it will, in fact, be a burden upon the people in the other areas. If the people in the other areas are to be in a condition to bear that burden, you must have a certain measure of trade activity.

I have elaborated that point at some length because I deny that the years the Government have been in office have been years wasted in dealing with this problem. On the contrary, I say it is the revival that has been brought about by the Government during those years which alone has made such a, discussion as we have had to-day even possible. It is all very well for the hon. Gentleman to say that we have wasted these two years and have done nothing for the distressed areas. I am sorry that he brought in the National Council of Social Services on the ground that we have used that as a cover for our inertia.


I did so when the Government first took this action because I thought they were wrong and I think so still more now.


If the hon. Gentleman has done it twice, I am doubly sorry. There was a reason for the Government assistance to this body. It was with no idea of shirking or hiding their essential responsibility. It was because the Government felt, as I think most individuals feel, that if there is anything that can be done to make the lot of these people more tolerable, it is the duty of everyone to assist in doing it. But, when the hon. Gentleman accuses the Government of having done nothing for two or three years, what did his Government do? If he had been standing at this Box and had been challenged by the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) as to what he had done for the derelict ares, what answer would he have been able to make? The hon. Gentleman went on to say that the instances that he gave of the expenditure of public money did not affect the position at all in a fundamental way. The question I should have asked, is, "What did he do in a fundamental way in the two years when he was in office?" The answer, of course, is that he did nothing to deal with the problem. I am not blaming him, because the economic conditions under which the Government were in office made a solution of dm problem impossible. It was a time of declining trade and increasing unemployment all over the country, and staggering finances. You could not set up new industries, because there were no new industries to set up. You could not transfer people, because there was nowhere to transfer them. You could not assist the lives of the people in the localities, because the burdens that you were putting on other areas were rapidly turning them into derelict areas. I deny that these three years of Government activity, as far as the depressed areas are concerned, have been wasted. They have indeed created the conditions under which alone any attempt to deal with this problem becomes possible.

Now, having shown conclusively that a revival of trade activity is an essential condition precedent to any solution of this problem, we have to proceed to the much more difficult question whether it can possibly provide a cure. Certainly the figure which has most struck my imagination, in looking through all the figures which I have been consulting, is the figure of the increase in employment between September, 1932, and June of this year. In September, 1932, the effect of the Government's policy was just beginning to be felt. Till then all that had been achieved was a slowing down of the decline which had been going on continuously for two years. In September, 1932, the decline was arrested and the upward movement began. In that period of less than two years 1,019,000 more people found employment. That is a figure of impressive magnitude, and shows that in those months a trade revival of really considerable proportions has taken place. I think it is idle, and I am sure hon. Members opposite would not wish, to deny the fact.

But in connection with figures of that kind, staggering as they may be, and comforting as they may seem at first sight, there are certain disquieting signs, because examination of the figures of unemployment shows how very unequal has been the incidence of the undoubted improvement that has taken place in those 18 months. You have a great group of areas covering a field of heavy industrial employment, where the decline in unemployment has been very great, and where the resultant residue of unemployed has not entirely disappeared, but no longer presents a problem of really striking gravity. For instance, in greater London the unemployment figure now is only just over 8 per cent., in Middlesex it is only just over 5 per cent., and in Surrey, 5.5 per cent. If you take some of the smaller towns round the London area, in St. Albans there is only 2 per cent, of unemployment, in Watford 5.2 per cent., in Luton 1.8 per cent. and in the whole of Bedfordshire only 3.2 per cent. If you go further afield, to the great industrial towns in the Midlands, you find in Birmingham an unemployment percentage of only 7.5, and in Coventry 8.2.

It is clear that, so far as areas such as those are concerned, the general trade revival has been enough to reduce the unemployment problem to comparatively modest proportions. It is true to say that even in the areas that we are par- titularly discussing to-day, in Durham, in Cumberland, in South Wales and in certain districts of Scotland, this revival has had some effect, though of course a very much smaller one, upon the general employment situation. Unemployment in Durham, for instance, has fallen in the last two years from 41 per cent. to 33.8, Cumberland from 35.7 to 26.2, Glamorgan from 42.5 to 38.4, Monmouth from 42.4 to 38, and Lanarkshire from 32.1 to 27.4 per cent. It is when you take particular districts or towns inside these so-called derelict areas that the inequality of this improvement really manifests itself. Where great districts have seen their unemployment problem almost solved, where even in the worst districts there has been an improvement, you get these smaller areas where the situation has not only not improved but actually, during that period of really considerable revival, has deteriorated. I do not think I need trouble the Committee with instances of that kind. There is the case of Bishop Auckland in Durham or. Maryport in Cumberland, towns such as Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil, Mountain Ash in Glamorgan, or Abertillery in Monmouth, Hon. Members are only too well acquainted with the facts. It is just the areas which we are now considering that have gained least from the undoubted revival of trade in the past two years and, whatever feelings one might have on first seeing the figures of 500,000 more people in employment since ten years ago, a close consideration of these figures and a realisation of the position of some of these areas would forbid us any complacency in the way we view the present situation or any confidence that in the immediate future any general trade revival, however continuing, however steady, would provide an immediate or a satisfactory solution for the problem that we are discussing.

It seems to me, in view of these facts, that the Government sent out these commissioners to the distressed areas at exactly the psychological moment. It would have been idle to send them out before the trade revival was so established that one could say that the conditions were such that a real attempt could be made to deal with the problem. It would have been dangerous, in view of the figures which I have just quoted, to delay any longer the sending of those commissioners. I may here make this point in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton, that the commissioners were appointed not by the Minister of Labour but by the Government. They report to the Government and their reports will be considered by the Government and, of course, any action taken will be action by the Government.

The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street has questioned the necessity for sending the Commissioners. He said that there were plenty of available data already, and in support of that assertion he instanced one particular publication which was brought out in 1932. I should have thought that the mere fact that the latest collection of statistics which he could quote upon a particular area was already two years out of date was in itself some justification for the collection of new materials and facts. But it is not only a question of the Commissioners going out and getting facts. Even if those facts could be collected by somebody else, the important thing is the possibility of seeing the facts through those new eyes; and the obtaining of their personal reactions on what is really a problem of persons. We are not only dealing with areas and industries but with people, and I believe that we get the best light on the real needs and the real difficulties of these people not only by facts and figures but by personal contact as well.

I am going to use the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street as a witness. He once did me the honour of giving me a book which he had written about life in a mining district. So far as I know, that book did not contain a single figure, it had no appendices and there were no statistical data; but I learned more from that book about the needs and difficulties of the miners than ever I could have learned from a Royal Commission's report. I only emphasise the fact that the problem before the Government is a problem of people and not of area, to reinforce the argument that the best way to get information upon that subject is by personal contact. I believe, indeed, I know, that the Commissioners have performed the task allotted to them with sincerity and assiduity. The hon. Member complained that they have been so long doing it. I do not believe that they could have done it in less time. Tributes have been paid to their co-operation with the local authorities, and their readiness to hear and to talk with every representative of public opinion and every possible giver of information in the district. The whole effect of their visits would have been spoiled if, half way through their seeing the local authorities, they had to say: "We are sorry; we cannot see any more, otherwise the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street will say that we are taking too long about our inquiry." I believe that they have performed their task in a really efficient way, and all the reports have now been received or are expected within a few days.

Now I come to the question of publication. It was definitely stated at the time when the Commissioners were appointed that their reports would be treated as confidential. They have written their reports on that understanding, and it would be clearly impossible at this stage to go back on the definite promise that was given to them and to treat now as public what they had been assured would be treated as confidential. I am perfectly certain that the only way to get the full value out of their personal observations was to make their report of a confidential nature. It is no good pretending that we should talk so readily or write so freely for publication as we do to.a person whom we can trust and who we know will keep our communication secret. If your remarks are published, if our statements are published, there is a possibility that they will be misunderstood, or that they will be taken out of their context and in some way or other be twisted into something we never intended them to mean. If we want, as we do want, from these Commissioners the fullest and frankest advice upon the local conditions, there was no other way of getting it than by treating their reports when received as completely confidential.


In the event of the Commissioners themselves agreeing that their reports should be published, will the Government reconsider the matter?


That is a hypothetical question. The matter has been treated as settled, and I, therefore, have no authority from the Commissioners to answer for them. I certainly believe that any suggestion that their reports should be treated as public matter would be resented, above all, by the Commissioners themselves. I am asked about the publication of certain facts or figures which might be taken out of the reports. I subkait to the Committee that the most unsatisfactory way of all is for the Government to publish bits of a report. The effect is that people say that the Government have taken out bits which suit them best and have put them forward for publication. It is, of course, clear that when the time comes to debate this matter it will come on the opportunity which, I believe, the House prefers, and that will be the decision of the Government to take action upon the reports. Then, in supporting their action and in defending their policy, they will necessarily make use of a great deal of the information contained in these reports.

I think that it is unnecessary further to elaborate a defence for the confidential nature of the reports. Behind the demand for publication, there does not really lie a desire to see what is in the reports, because the hon. Member who presses for the publication, the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street, says he knows already everything that the commissioners can report. It is a fear, a suspicion, that the sending out of the commissioners was nothing more than a smoke-screen, that it was just an attempt to keep this House of Commons quiet for three months until we get hon. Members away on their holidays. I can give the Committee the assurance that it was not the intention of the Government to use the sending out of these commissioners and the awaiting of their reports merely as an excuse for delay. The Government sincerely hope that from these reports will emerge something of real value, and that with the assistance of the reports they will be able to undertake what no other Government, whether a Government of hon. Members opposite or of hon. Members on this side, have so far been able to do, and that is some real work upon the solution of a problem which is as complex as it is difficult.


I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for answering the first question I put about the statement of fact. I gather by inference from his statement that when the Government do consider the reports, and they have made up their mind what they will do upon them, there will be a statement of policy in the House. Quite bluntly, what I am asking is: Are the Government going to do this business themselves or leave it to the Unemployment Assistance Board?


If that is the question which the hon. Member puts, I cannot answer it now. I do not know what the reports are going to recommend. I do not know, therefore, whether any steps that we are able to take will be steps which are appropriate to the Government or which are appropriate to the board. But I do say that the appropriate opportunity which the House would most look for in order to discuss this matter is not some general statement, even if such statement were supported with figures taken from the reports, but the time when the Government announce the action which they are going to take upon the reports.

I regret that I have already occupied the Committee so long. I have confined myself entirely to this extremely important subject, although other points have been raised. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary is going to reply and he will deal with the other points in due course. I close with this last observation, that I can assure the Committee that the sending out of the commissioners was not to delay action. The Government are fully aware of the seriousness of the problem. We hope to get from the reports real assistance, and that it will be possible for us to add to the other achievements of this National Government the achievement of being able to tackle this desperate problem.

6.42 p.m.


The right hon. Gentleman made the remark that he hoped to deal with this problem with the sympathy and the humaneness which characterised his predecessor. We believe that the sympathy and humaneness of his predecessor will be continued by the right hon. Gentleman, but we want something far more than sympathy. We have had sympathy for a long time, and we believe that the time is overdue when we ought to have some action. Summing up the whole of the right hon. Gentleman's speech to- night, if his speech means action, then I do not understand the word. It seems to me that we are to be just as far advanced when the House adjourns for the Recess as we were at the beginning of the year. The right hon. Gentleman began by saying that the term "derelict areas" was not the appropriate term to use. Perhaps areas may not be derelict, but certainly "derelict villages" is a correct term to use, because we have in our distresssd areas mining villages which are really and absolutely derelict, where collieries have been closed for many years, where there is no other chance of employment and no prospect of work. If the appropriate word is not "derelict," then one has a difficulty in understanding the word.

It is not sufficient for the Minister to ask what the Labour Government did when they were in office. He knows that when Labour sat on the Government side they did not sit there with the majority possessed by the present Government. The Government to-day have a sufficient majority to carry into effect any policy that they wish. Labour had not that opportunity. Therefore, it is not sufficient for the Minister to shelter himself behind the argument as to what Labour did or what Labour would do to-day if they were in office. I should like to repeat an argument that was used by my hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson). Why were these inquiries necessary? Why were they undertaken? When the Minister of Minister of Labour announced that Commissioners were to be appointed to go to the four areas, I asked in a supplementary question: Will the Minister tell us what use there is in making an investigation like this when the Government already have all the information? Is it not simply wasting time? "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th April, 1934; col. 1102, Vol, 288.] Fourteen weeks have elapsed since the Government made that announcement, and we are in the same position to-day as we were then. We are justified in saying that it has been nothing but wasting time. To appoint Commissioners to go to distressed areas and collect information, when the Government had all the information they wanted was a mere excuse for pretending that they were interested in these distressed areas and they were simply using the appointment of these Commissioners, and using their time, until it was not possible for the House of Commons to have the reports or discuss them, or decide upon any policy emanating from the reports. When my hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street was referring to the two gentlemen who have gone to Durham, I interrupted and said that we were no better than either of them. I did not mean that to be a, reflection on either of the gentlemen who went to Durham; all I meant was that the Government were prepared to use as an excuse anyone who went to a distressed area as a justification for doing nothing. These Commissioners were appointed on 19th April, and the Durham Commissioner started on 1st May. The Minister of Labour has said that they have wasted no time. I have no hesitation in saying that as far as the Commissioner for Durham is concerned, it has been a part-time job. If the Government had been really anxious to have the inquiry completed for the House to discuss the reports before the Adjournment, they could have done it, but there has been delay again and again.

The Minister has attempted to justify the non-publication of the reports. I submit that it is not fair to those who have given all the help they could to the Commissioners. They have met local authorities, deputations and everyone has been anxious to give all the help possible, and as quickly as possible, and they have a right to know what is going to be done with their proposals and suggestions. It is not fair to say that it would not be right to publish these reports; it is not fair to those who have made suggestions. They should be able to know whether they have received that consideration which they believed they would receive.

It was quite unnecessary to send Commissioners to distressed areas. On 4th June the Commissioner for Durham told the Press that his problem was to find employment for 147,000 unemployed-137,000 males and 10,000 females. He also said that there were in Durham 60,000 who had been unemployed for less than one year, 24,000 who had been unemployed for more than one year and less than two years, 22,000 who had been unemployed for more than two years and less than three years, 22,000 who had been unemployed for more than three years and less than four years, 9,000 who had been unemployed for four years and less than five years, and about 9,000 who had been unemployed for more than five years. He knew his problem; he knew the number of unemployed and how long they had been unemployed. The last time the Prime Minister addressed his constituents, in May, he said: There are Commissioners going round now. Were the districts really derelict or could new forms of industry be brought into them? The Prime Minister, it seems to me, had in his mind the bringing of new forms of industry into derelict areas. Here is the commissioner who knows his problem and here is the Prime Minister talking of the remedy. If they are both satisfied, one of the problem and the other of the remedy, why the delay? I submit that there is no justification for delay. The delay is only to get this House to rise, and once the Recess has begun nothing more will be done until the winter. When the Government come forward with their proposals in the winter we shall discover that no employment will be found, no attempt will be made to set up new industries, and the people in the derelict areas will be in the same position this winter as they were last winter. The Minister of Labour rather boasted that there was more employment to-day than previously, and he quoted some districts in Durham to show that unemployment was not quite as bad as it was in 1932. If the Prime Minister had been present, I was going to direct his attention to three exchanges in his own division where things are worse, where there is more unemployment. In one district, the Hordern district, the percentage of unemployment in December, 1931, was 4.7; to-day it is 10 per cent. At Windgate, in December, 1931, the percentage of unemployment was 28.5; in June, 1934, it was 42 per cent. In Seaham Harbour, the percentage of unemployment in 1931, was 13.3; in June this year, it was 22.1. The Minister of Labour may say that there is not quite so much unemployment, that while the coal mining industry may have suffered other industries have benefited, but here in the Prime Minister's own division are figures which justify taking action very quickly.


That is exactly what I said. The figures for Dunham as a whole show a slight improvement, but there are spots in that area, and in South Wales, where the position during that period is actually worse.


For once we are agreed. There are spots where the position is worse, and the Prime Minister's own division is one of the places where the position is worse. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street in what he said regarding social services. We are entitled to raise this matter because the National Council of Social Services have received three grants from the Treasury, £10,000 in 1932, £25,000 in 1933, and £40,000 in 1934, a total of £75,000. What better are the unemployed in the distressed areas from this money spent on social services? The Minister of Labour promised to publish the report of the council, but so far one has not received it. I say that the Government are simply using the National Council of Social Services and the Personal Service League in order to justify doing nothing themselves. When the Government are prepared to do so much for other industries, where those who are receiving the money can always be relied upon to support the Government, we are entitled to ask that they should publish the reports of the commissioners and also should be prepared to act upon them and do something to help the distressed areas. There is no question of shipowners voting against the Government, and they have been well repaid by the Government. Farmers have never voted Labour, and they have been well repaid. Miners, as a rule, do not vote Tory, and, therefore, they are being left in the cold as far as this Government is concerned.


May I remind the hon. Member that a prominent shipowner on Tyneside was a Member of this House representing a Labour constituency in Newcastle, and that one of the principal members of the Social League is the largest landowner in Northumberland?


One swallow does not make a summer. Take it through and through, my statement stands. I argue that because miners as a rule do not vote Tory, do not support the National Government, it is no reason why they should be starved as they are being starved now. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street also raised the question as to how the unemployed in Durham are being treated at the moment. We understood that everybody was going to have the 10 per cent. restored. In the County of Durham a, single man in lodgings, it does not matter how old he is, if he is over 21, is receiving only 16s. per week. A woman is receiving only 14s. per week. Both of them are being robbed of is. a week by the Government, because it is no good the Government attempting to shelter behind the Commissioners in Durham. A hint from the Government that the Commissioners should pay full benefit and the benefit would be paid. A single adult, 18 or over, living with parents or relatives, receives only 10s. a week. We are entitled to complain of the Government treating our people like this. These unemployed men and women are entitled to the full benefit if anybody is entitled to it, and our complaint is that the Government are robbing them of is. a week, which means so much to them.

I believe that poverty—and we see an abundance of it in our distressed areas—is the result of misgovernment. I believe that the Government have the power to remove that poverty. As a matter of fact, I believe that if we had a Government with the will to do it, we need not have one miner in this country idle at the present time. Our distressed areas could be altogether different from what they are, only the Government have no interest in them. They have no interest in the mining classes, and our distressed areas are in their position largely because of the policy of the present Government. They would not be in the position they are if the Government had not pursued a tariff policy. Because of the tariff policy of the Government, our people are called on to starve and to suffer. If the Government had the will—they may have the sympathy—to help the distressed areas, they could do it. There is only one consolation that we have. After all, the working classes have the power to alter this kind of thing. One trusts that when the time comes they will use that power to put in a Government which will legislate on their behalf.

7.5 p.m.


I should not have intervened if it had not been for the speech made by the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey). After the Minister had spoken I thought that the criticisms of the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) had been fully answered, but it appears that they have not been. The hon. Member for Spennymoor has blamed the present Government for not having cured all the unemployment in the country. I think that I am right in saying that he said that if the Government had had the will they could have cured all the unemployment


No. In the mining districts.


In the mining districts. The only thought that springs to my mind is, What was the position of the late Government? Were they incapable or did they not have the will? They cannot have it both ways.

As Member for one of the distressed areas, I have naturally been taking a pretty close interest in the activities of my particular commissioner, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The hon. Members for Chester-le-Street and Spennymoor wanted to know what necessity there was to send commissioners to inquire into the condition of those areas. Both have emphasised the fact that reports have been published comparatively recently on the conditions in those areas. That is quite true. In fact, in my area a. report was published—I think in March, 1933—and it was a very capable report prepared by two very skilled economists belonging to Manchester University. But surely it must be obvious that if the Government desire to do what they can for an area, they cannot base their operations upon reports produced by people who are not responsible to the Government or for any portion of the Government's work. Surely the Government must satisfy themselves fully before they make any attempt to do anything in the way of spending public funds or encouraging public activities; and it seems to me that it was essential that these commissioners should have been sent.

I know that the first thing which springs to one's lips in the usual way which one's idle thoughts do come out is that everybody knows the conditions. I thought that I did know the conditions in my area very well, hut I have been impressed by what I have learned since my particular Commissioner started work, not because he has disclosed to me in any way what he has been doing, but because I have been vitalised a little more. If I may without egoism, I would like to rub this point in. Two years ago, after pretty close consultation with persons deeply concerned in one industry in my area, an industry which is found almost entirely in my area except for a small amount in South Wales, the iron-ore industry, I made a definite proposal to the Government. One would have thought that I knew all about it. So far from the Government doing nothing, the Member of the Government who is responsible has been working pretty hard, and constant inquiry has been going on in the last two years. During those inquiries I have learned a very great deal, and with each successive deputation which I have had the privilege of bringing to London to discuss this matter 'with the responsible Minister, I have learned some more. I am sure that the Commissioner for my area, having made his inquiries on the spot and having, with an unbiased mind, seen all these people, knows more about that particular industry than I do. I am sure that his mind has been directed in an unbiased manner and he is acquainted with all the facts and circumstances connected with that industry.

Hon. Gentlemen opposite said that everything was known. That statement was not correct. Everything is not known, and I am very grateful indeed to the Government that they have seen fit to appoint the Commissioners. I am looking forward to something very definite being done. So far from joining in any criticism of the Government—and it is not often that I get an opportunity of being wholly on the side of the Government—I heartily congratulate them on having had the courage and insight to send these Commissioners to the distressed areas, and I only hope that when the reports are presented, the Government will find it possible to act on the suggestions made. It would not be proper to make any surmise as to what the contents of the reports will be, but I do not agree with my hon. Friends opposite when they say that the reports should be published. The Commissioner, very naturally, in getting his information, must have received a very large amount of purely confidential information. I have had that myself in my own little investigations. What I am far more concerned to see than the publication of the reports is the action which is to follow the reports.


The hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that the House will not meet until October or November, and very quickly we shall be right in the midst of winter. Does he not think that whatever action can be taken ought to be taken at a much earlier period?


I myself regret that we have not been able to get the reports presented any earlier. I am judging only from what I know of the activities of may own Commissioner, but I know that he has been very fully occupied indeed. I have watched his comings in and goings out with a great deal of interest, because he has been disguised not a very successful disguise. But I have watched his activities with interest, and I can assure my hon. Friends that certainly my Commissioner has been very actively engaged all the time, and I do not see how it would have been possible for him to present his report any earlier. It is a pity. But may I suggest that if on receiving these reports during the Recess the Government decided that some particular work was necessary, there would be no particular obstacle to their getting on with that piece of work. I am sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite would welcome the news that certain activities had been started. The mere publication of the report has no connection with it at all. What may hon. Friend is really worrying about it that the report has not been presented as early as he and I would have liked.

The question of a long-term policy is a very important matter, but I should very much regret if in this matter of the distressed areas the Government allowed themselves to be delayed further by too great a consideration of their long-term policy. We want at the present moment the short-term policy to deal with the very vital matter of the people in the distressed areas and their present conditions. I am quite prepared to have the Government considering their long-term policy afterwards, but we do not want any expert economists and very deep thinking to put influence on the Government which will have the effect of switching them from the immediate affairs of the distressed areas on to the prolonged consideration of what shall or shall not be their long-term policy.

I was a little disturbed by one thing that my right hon. Friend the Minister said. I do not think he really meant it to be taken as I took it, but he did seem to imply that there was little hope for industry until we had a general revival of trade activity. Of course in one way that was perfectly true, but surely it is claimed that Governmental action, Governmental policy, has had an effect in reviving industry, and we are hoping that there will be an application of policy and of our methods to this question of the distressed areas, which will have the effect of re-establishing, in great measure at any rate, the industries of those areas. I know that the question of the transference of labour is one which has necessarily engaged a great deal of attention, but I would remind the Minister that it is not all to the good—I am speaking more particularly of my own district—to take people from districts like mine, where nature is very kind and very beautiful, when they can possibly be re-established in their own industries there in comfortable little townships with no slums, and to force them to go into the crowded areas to engage in other forms of industry. I do hope that the Government will do all that it can, by the application of National Government policy, towards keeping these men as far as possible in their own industries. It is not altogether a question of a general trade revival.

I do not want to go into specific cases. I understand that the Parliamentary Secretary is to reply, and he knows far more about this subject than I do. But there is an industry there which is suffering from the general industrial conditions, certainly, but very largely from foreign competition, and the application of the tariff principle of the National Government to that particular industry might very well re-establish that industry in a measure of real prosperity, and save us from the necessity of having to move the people belonging to that industry from their charming little townships, and conveying them to places in the Black Country perhaps, or here to swell the mass round about this great Metropolis of ours. I would very much regret it if every possible effort were not made to keep our industries in their own par- titular areas. Of course if that is not possible, if as a result of the inquiries made the commissioners show that it is not possible in a large number of cases, we have definitely to face the prospect of keeping the people idle in their own places or making some effort to remove them to areas where they can work. I disagree entirely with hon. Gentlemen opposite who think that time has been wasted, that it was unnecessary to make further inquiry. In contra-distinction to them I believe that the Government is making a very real effort, and that there will be a result coming from the reports of the commissioners.

7.20 p.m.


I want to draw the attention of the Committee to a point which has not been raised in the Debate. We have had many speeches on the question of the distressed areas, but the subject I want to deal with is the relationship of the Ministry of Labour to the International Labour Office in Geneva. This is rather an important point. For the most part Members of the House of Commons have very little experience of the working of the International Labour Office, and certainly in many respects are unaware of its importance in labour matters. The International Labour Office is part and parcel of the Versailles Treaty. At the end of the War it was thought that the workers, the common people who did the world's work and had fought for their countries, should receive a higher standard of life and a better social service. As far back as the Washington Convention of 1919 we did attempt to put into operation a 48-hour week for the whole of the countries which came within the treaty.

I have had some experience of the working of the International Labour Office. In 1924, and again in 1925, I was in Geneva 'as an adviser. The first thing that always struck me in connection with the work of the International Labour Office was the supreme importance of the position of this country and of the views put forward by those who represented the British Government. It must be remembered that this country had already taken the first place so far as social legislation was concerned. Because the industrial revolution came earlier here this country had done certain things so far as factory legislation was concerned. Many countries have still to come up to our standard. But I suggest that if there is one country more than another which stands to gain by bringing the other nations of Europe up to our level, it is this country. In all my experience as a trade union official for many years, I have been faced with the argument over And over again that a good deal of the social legislation of this country was unfair, because other countries did not observe these particular conditions.

My complaint, and the complaint of the Trade Unions Congress and of those interested in the International Labour Office, is that within the last couple of years or so there has been a distinct move on the part of those who represent the British Government at Geneva, not to help to improve the conditions of labour in Europe generally, but rather to retard improvement, to oppose conventions and to put back the clock in many respects. For instance, this year at the International Labour Office the question of the, 40-hour week was considered. The charge made by trade unionists is that the British Government representative most openly took up the side of the employers and backed up their arguments, and further that, not content with voting against the Convention, there was an attempt to prevent the matter being discussed in 1935. Although it is to the credit of the other Governments 'and their representatives that that idea was defeated, the fact remains that the British Government, instead of making any attempt to set a lead on the hours question this year at Geneva, rather tended to put back the clock.

Then in 1931 we had the example of the Coal Mines Hours Convention. I am certain that had the Labour Government remained in office that Convention would have been ratified, but when the National Government came into power difficulties were put in the way of ratification, and by reason of these difficulties, which could have been dealt with within the text of the Convention, the Conference held in June to discuss that Convention failed. The ratifying of a Convention which would impose the same conditions of labour in all the countries where the labour was employed, is a most desirable thing and one for which almost any British Government should work, especially so far as the hours of labour is concerned. It is on the question of the hours of labour that there is some possibility of getting uniformity in all kinds of trades and industries. It is true that you cannot deal with the question of wages internationally in quite the same way, but you can deal internationally with the question of hours of labour. My complaint and the complaint of the Trade Unions Congress is that the National Government have apparently embarked on a policy which supports the view of the reactionary employers of all countries rather than realises that the best interests of this country and even of the employers of this country would be served if we got some uniformity of working conditions.

Take the question of overtime. At the 1933 Geneva Conference a Resolution was passed, for which the British Government representative voted, which asked all governments to take measures for limiting to the utmost exceptions to the 40-hours week. The French Government did something in that direction, but the British Government seems to have contented itself with merely consulting the employers and the workmen. There is a great gulf between the Government's professions and its attempts to realise them. Here is a point which must receive very serious consideration. We have heard to-day that in spite of the fact that the volume of trade is probably now as great as it was in 1929, we have double the number of people unemployed, and the reason for that can be stated in the words of Lord Trent, who in a speech at Nottingham on 7th June said: The unemployment problem was thought by many to be due to the present monetary system, but the most obvious point in his mind was that the proportion of machines to men had steadily increased. Machines did not buy food, clothes and chemical products but men and women workers did and when human beings were replaced by machines, purchasing power was reduced until those people were again employed. The point has been made before but it is worth reiterating, that the time has come when we must realise that there is no excuse for having large numbers of people working long hours, while others are doing no work at all. The international limitation of hours of labour is a task and a problem calling for statesmanship of the highest quality. It is a work which would repay itself in the good which it would bring to this nation and to the world. It seems to me that we have a just cause of complaint against the Government on the ground that they have made no effort at Geneva to impose a limitation of hours, although the best interests of this country would be served by an international convention of that kind. It is said that if we reduce the hours of labour and if the workers demand the same wages for the shorter hours, something dreadful will ensue and that more people would be put out of work than would be brought into work by such a course. But that kind of argument has been used in reference to every reform of working hours or conditions. What we must recognise is that we cannot hope for any reduction in the number of unemployed by an increase in trade, because, day by day and year by year, the machine is displacing more and more men and women workers. The Minister may disagree with me but if he does I think the facts are against him.

I take another fact. The Government were sympathetic to a proposed convention for the abolition of fee-charging agencies but now they refuse to ratify the convention although such agencies have been abolished in other countries. As one who has considerable experience in these matters, I am convinced that these agencies represent one of the grossest and meanest forms of exploitation of poor and distressed people. The Committee would, I am sure, be surprised to know that even here in London an agency of this kind will secure a man a job for which he receives 10s. wages and will then charge him 2s. 6d. as a fee. Some of these poor people will pay as much as a week's wages or even more to one of these agencies for a job and all sorts of abuses are involved. There is even the possibility of one of these agencies getting a man discharged from a job after he has been in it for a week, on some pretext or another, in order that they may have a chance of putting another man into the job and securing another fee.

If the Government believe that the International Labour Office serves a useful purpose they ought to do something to ratify some of the Conventions which are passed there from time to time. In 1925 the Convention abolishing night baking was opposed by the British Government but received the necessary two-thirds majority at Geneva.No steps at all have been taken to implement that Convention. I hope it may turn out that I am not correct in my view, but I have the impression that there is a certain amount of friction and that there is a feeling on the part of the Government which might be expressed thus. "It is all very well passing these things at Geneva but when we come back here we are not going to act on what has been done there." My own opinion is that the International Labour Office could be made a great and useful agency for removing some of the well-founded complaints of industrialists of this country against the conditions of labour among their competitors on the Continent. It could be used as an instrument for raising the status of the workers all over the world and for ensuring that all the competing industries should start at some reasonable level. It is not fair for instance that the British employer should have to give his people a 48-hour week when his competitors in Czechoslovakia are working their people 70 or 80 hours a week.

In the International Labour Office the British Government has tremendous power, prestige and influence. It ought to use that power, prestige and influence in favour of Conventions which would bring about uniformity in working conditions between all the different countries which subscribe to the Treaty of Versailles. It appears to me that the feeling has got abroad in connection with these matters that, however sympathetic the various Governments may have been in the days immediately following the War with the idea that the common peoples of the world were deserving of a better outlook in life and were entitled to a square deal, those Governments are now gradually but surely ranging themselves on the side of the great industrialists whose belief is that the interests of industry come first and wages and conditions of labour a long way behind. I suggest that the historic role of the British Government in these matters is that of giving a lead. We ought to say to the other countries concerned, "We have set up a certain standard in Great Britain; we ask you to come up to our level and we are prepared to help the work of the International Labour Office in bringing other nations up to that level." I believe that the present Government have a case to answer on the ground of their failure in this respect. They went to Geneva prejudiced against the possibility of a 40-hour week unless it involved also a 1:eduction in wages and they presented arguments based on that ground.

Eventually, the question of uniformity of hours of labour and a drastic reduction of hours of labour, will have to be faced by all Governments. The machine is displacing human labour and the work will have to be distributed among those who are willing to do it. We cannot continue to keep 2,000,000 unemployed in this country while millions are working 50, 60, 70 and even more hours a week and little girls of 14 are employed from 8 in the morning until 8 in the evening in our great factories. When we talk about reduction of hours of labour we are frequently told,' "While our Continental, competitors are working their people all the hours that God sends, what can we do? We have already set an example to the rest of the world." My answer is that by means of the International Labour Office there is a chance of bringing a good many of our European competitors into line and my complaint against the Government is that they appear more anxious to fight the battles of the employers than to recognise what is in the best interests of the country as a whole.

If the International Labour Office is not to become a mere farce, if we are to continue contributing £60,000 a year towards its expenses let us attempt to get some value out of it by making it work in the interests of the working people of this country and of the whole world. The question of the redistribution of labour is not going to be settled from a national outlook. It can only be dealt with internationally. Labour problems are more international in character to-day than they have ever been in history. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us some assurance that the International Labour Office is going to be used for the purpose for which it was created. Bitter feelings have been aroused in trade union circles this year by the attitude of the British Government's representatives. We are not complaining of those representatives personally. They are men whom we like and respect, and they were only carrying out their instructions. The responsibility lies upon the Government and I hope the Government will realise that, while the employers have arguments the workmen have arguments too on these matters, and that it is the business of a Government, not to take sides but to try to hold the balance fairly and do justice to both, remembering always that the interest of the nation as a whole is bigger than the interests of the employers or any other section concerned.

7.40 p.m.


I followed with great interest the remarks of the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield). He is respected for his opinions but I was surprised that a man of his calibre in presenting his case should have put the cart before the horse. He suggested that we should come to an agreement with the employers of labour in foreign countries to reduce the hours of labour internationally. Before we can do that, it seems to me, we must ask foreign employers to bring their standards up to our level. If we followed the hon. Member's line we might find ourselves in the same position as the Durham miners. Some time ago the average hewer in the North of England worked six hours at the coal face, but in order to bring about uniformity they were changed from six hours to something nearer eight hours which they are working at present. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) will bear me out when I say that the hours of the hewers in Northumberland and Durham are not as good to-day as they were 20 or 30 years ago.


That was due to a Tory Government.


I do not care whether it was a Tory Government or a Liberal Government or what kind of a Government it was. I am pointing out that there is a grave danger, if we begin interfering with hours and conditions in foreign countries, of bringing our own people down to their level. I am keenly in favour of hours of labour being reduced all round. I believe that in time it would get a. lot of our own unemployed into work, but we cannot bring our hours down to 40, when in foreign countries they are working 50, 60 or 70 hours a week. If the foreigners desire to work with this country in an international agreement let them bring their hours and their wages to our level. We have put our house in order or are trying to do so. Let them do likewise, and we shall be prepared to welcome them, but, until they have something to offer, it is the case that good old Britain as usual is being asked to give everything and get nothing in return. I think a great deal more time might be spent in watching how the various municipalities in this country are dispensing transitional payment.

I have in mind a case in my own constituncy, Newcastle, where it has been declared by the officials that it would be illegal to give workers on transitional payment more than 24s. a week. It may be so, but it seems to me very much like the case of a judge who has the power, if he likes, to give a man a very severe sentence for a very small offence, or, on the other hand, to give a very minor sentence for a very serious offence: That is the position in Newcastle-on-Tyne. There are means known to us all by which the transitional payment could be brought up to the full amount of 26s. They are very simple. It could be done in two different ways, by raising Poor Law relief or standard benefit. It has been said by the authorities that they have no ground for raising it. I can only suggest that they do not wish to raise their parish relief. With all due respect to the Newcastle Corporation and to the members of it who are all keen sighted, hard-headed north countrymen, very blunt and honest, 1 must say that in this they are making a very grave mistake indeed. If they were to raise the Poor Law relief to bring it up to such a figure that transitional payment could be paid up to 26s., they would only be doing what is absolutely necessary in places like Newcastle-on-Tyne.

The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street some time ago made use of words which were howled at in. this House, that the condition of out-of-works to-day is worse than it was two or three years ago. I think I know what he had in mind. It is not that those who are out of work to-day are receiving any less, or that the price of food is any more, but a man who has been out of work for a year or two years can possibly stand the strain because he has certain resources. When he has been out of work three, four or five years there are no blankets in the house, no sheets, no crockery, the furniture has gone down the street to uncle's and stays there, and the entire household falls to pieces. When a man has been out for five years he is in a desperate position. Indeed, when a man has been out for two years he is in a desperate position. I do not belong to the party of the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street, but I respect the remarks made by him. Anyone who lives among workmen as I have done can appreciate the difficulties, and I know that some of the most extreme cases in the North of England are among workmen whom I am proud to call my friends. They are in conditions in the City of Newcastle in particular in which I would not keep my pigs. A question was put by the hon. Member for Wallsend (Miss Ward) some time ago to the late Minister of Labour, Sir H. Betterton, who made the following reply: I have been asked a specific question by the hon. Member for Wallsend, and I think the Chancellor made the point perfectly clear in his Budget speech the other day. He pointed out that the maximum rate of transitional benefit terms was regulated by the rate of standard benefit, and he reminded the House that, as the standard rates of benefit are going to be increased, it carried with it a corresponding increase in the maximum rate of transitional benefit. The hon. Member for Wallsend asked how it would he computed. The answer he gave is perfectly clear. Whenever the circumstances permit of the new maximum, the new maximum will be paid. I have it also in my mind that, on a certain occasion, the Prime Minister made a statement from the bench opposite. Referring to the propaganda being used by the Socialist party of that day relating to the 2s. paid for the child, I think I am correct in saying that the Prime Minister pointed out that this 2s. did not mean that they were debarred in certain circumstances from giving more. I think that is still within the memory of the House. The position is this We have in Newcastle a distressed area, one of the hardest hit areas in the whole country, and with all due respect to the Member for Chester-le-Street, or the Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) or any other division in Northumberland, Durham or elsewhere, I will say this, and they will agree with me, that the conditions under which they live in Newcastle-on-Tyne are more onerous than in any other portion of the North-East coast. Rents are higher in Newcastle than anywhere else. I do not know if the Committee will credit it, but there are people in Newcastle paying as much as 8s. for a coal cellar whitewashed.


Does the local council permit that?


I do not know if they do, but, if they permit a sate of transitional payment less than the majority of people think should be paid, we must not be surprised if they permit that sort of thing. As I have pointed out, there are two ways by which Newcastle Corporation, if they so desired, might raise the payment of transitional payment to 26s. a week, but it seems they are following the line of least resistance and hiding themselves behind the fact that they are perfectly legal and entitled to abide by the decision. Nobody disputes that, but, as I have said before, the Exchequer are offering them a present of money, and they will not take it, which leads us to believe either that the exchequer of Newcastle Corporation is low or their outlook is too narrow, or they are too mean to increase the Poor Law relief to the figure to which the people of Newcastle, I believe, are entitled. I have taken up the matter with one or two of the ratepayers in the town. Naturally, the ratepayers are the people most likely to be affected by the raising of Poor Law relief, and the shopkeepers to whom I have spoken have looked at it in this way, that whatever is given to the men out of work is money placed in circulation in the town and not outside, and it is money well spent.

I know the position of the Minister of Labour in connection with cases of transitional payment, and I am not going to ask him to reply to this at all. I do not think it fair that any corporation should shelter itself behind the Minister of Labour. They must face the mistake, and I think they should do a generous act. It is not a question of climbing down. It is only a great man who can climb down, a poor-spirited man refuses to climb down even when the odds are against him. In this case the feeling of the whole North-Eastern area is against this payment of 24s. a week when our people are in a worse position than those in any other portion of the North-East Coast, and, if the Newcastle Corporation will try to be magnanimous and put their house in order, what they lose on the swings they will gain on the roundabouts.

7.56 p.m.


I have listened with interest to the last speaker. I regret that I cannot follow him, because, while one is in great sympathy with him, it seems to be a purely domestic matter. He has already stated that he does not require the Minister to refer to it. I sincerely regret personally that the rate of payment in Newcastle does not correspond with that of other constituencies on the North-East Coast. I rise to-night to offer a few remarks regarding the general question that has arisen in this distressed areas discussion. I see the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) just leaving, and I want to say that I was very much interested in the speech which he made. While he did not contribute anything to the distressed areas, he did show the involved nature of a settlement of the unemployment problem in the districts not only in the North-East Coast, or the distressed areas, but throughout the country and throughout the world. It is that involved nature of the problem which calls for a good deal of thought and care.

I welcome very much the appointment of the commissioners for one or two reasons. For many years in this House I have been endeavouring to draw attention to the nature of the problem of the distressed areas. Those who have been located in the South have not hitherto appreciated our problem. I think it is fair to say that with the setting up of these commissioners the problem of the distressed areas has taken on a new significance. I should like to say, from my own personal point of view, that when I knew these commissioners were appointed I felt very much like the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson), who said, "Why set up these commissioners when we have all the information necessary?" I was inclined to say the same thing myself. But I believe the majority of Members of this House have been brought round to the opinion that their information was not so complete as it might have been. If when I tried to get an analysis of unemployment in Sunderland, I had been asked by those associated with my constituency why we have such a large volume of unemployment, I should have said that it was entirely due to shipbuilding. I think that would have been a reasonable reply, but the truth is that, when you begin to analyse the figures, even for a constituency like Sunderland, you find that shipbuilding alone does not account for 50 per cent. of the unemployment that we have there. There are other problems in an area like Sunderland. The problems of Sunderland and Newcastle are dissimilar. They are dissimilar between the Tyne and the Wear, and between the Wear and the Tees, and, in view of the involved nature of these problems, I am satisfied that these Commissioners have been sent to investigate the full extent of these problems. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) says that it is a waste of time.


The Minister is carrying on the old policy.


I hope that there will be a substantial policy formulated by the Ministry itself. There will have to be. I would like to go a step further than that which has been suggested by many hon. Members to-day. For many years I have been interested in the policy of this Government and of previous Governments. I am not going to refer to any individual Government. I believe that the fiscal policy of this country for many years has been wrong. I believe that we have arrived at the culmination point. At present we are suffering acutely, particularly in the heavy industries of the country. If they are to be reorganised on lines which have proved through the years to be mistaken, the policy will be a complete failure. However, I would say to the Minister that it is very encouraging to find distinct indications of better times in the heavy industries. No one can deny that conditions are better in the iron and steel industry and that unemployment has decreased very materially. [An HON. MEMBER: "In Sunderland?"] Not in Sunderland, because we have no iron and steel industry, but on Tees-side and elsewhere. No one can doubt, even in the coal industry, that, notwithstanding what the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) has said, in recent months there has been a distinct improvement. If we had not had trade agreements the coal industry would have been infinitely worse. It may be some little time before we reach the turning point in shipping and shipbuilding, but I welcome the statement of policy of the Government regarding shipping and shipbuilding because both industries are intertwined. Even there, however, the problem is an involved one. It must be remembered that in the shipping industry, on which shipbuilding really depends, there has been no line of agreement until recent months. The problem is difficult so far as Sunderland is concerned, because we can only build a certain type of vessel. I am very hopeful that the pronouncement the Government have recently made will be productive of good, and that there will be a quick and distinct reflection in an improvement in the shipping industry.

The hon. Member for Wednesbury spoke about the displacement of labour by machinery. That is true to a large extent in almost every industry, and particularly of the shipbuilding industry. To-day that industry has been entirely revolutionised by new means, methods and machines. All these problems are so involved and far-reaching that even when the reports of the Commissioners are presented, I would not wish the Government to come to a too hasty conclusion on the matter. We who represent the heavy industries on the North-East Coast are very anxious that the reports should be presented as quickly as possible, but I hope that when they are presented the Government will take a reasonable time in which to come to a decision and will bear in mind the involved nature of the problems which I have tried to indicate. I hope that when they have had time to confer and to come to a conclusion upon the reports their action will be decisive, ample and quick. I would forgive the Government for delaying the matter even until we re-assemble if I could feel sure that when we came back some effective measures would be taken to deal with the distressed areas. The hon. Member for Gorbals may shake his head, but I have sufficient confidence in the Government to believe that they are feeling the impact of the great question of the distressed areas, and, judging by their actions in the past, I am confident that something will be done, and it is in the hope that something of a substantial nature will be done that I have ventured to take part in this Debate.

8.7 p.m.


In rising to take part in this discussion, I wish to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westmorland (Mr. Stanley) on being promoted to the office of Minister of Labour. It would appear from the developments in the different Departments in which he has served during his career as a Parliamentarian that he is what one may term in modern phraseology "a live wire," but when I saw the announcement in the Press that he was to be appointed to his present position I felt rather sympathetic towards him, because I wondered whether there would be any job left for him to take over. The passage of the Unemployment Act has really done the right hon. Gentleman out of a job, because his Department are left with practically very little to do. There is a Statutory Committee to deal with increases or decreases in benefits, and to decide what particular class of persons are to be eligible for coming within the ambit of the Act. There is also the Unemployment Committee, of which the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor has been appointed chairman, who are to take charge of the men who pass out of standard benefit and come on transitional payment. Therefore, the only thing which is now left for the right hon. Gentleman to do is to see that contributions are paid every week by the employer and the employed. He will simply be the Minister to gather in the money, and somebody else will see to its disposal. Nevertheless, I think that he will be quite capable of doing that job in a satisfactory way, and I wish him God speed in his work.

I want to deal with points raised by the hon. Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Denville), and the hon. Member for Sunderland (Sir L. Thompson). The hon. Member for Central Newcastle deplored the fact that the Newcastle Public Assistance Committee were not putting the amount of transitional payment at a higher figure than 24s. But the hon. Member was one of those who voted in favour of giving that committee that power. He voted for the Bill which eventually became an Act giving such authorities the power to do the very thing of which he now complains. Probably it may have slipped his memory, or he may have regretted what he did on that occasion. At some time in our lives we make mistakes and try to rectify them, and there is something to be said for actions of that kind. His complaint, however, is really too late to be of any benefit, because that matter has passed out of the ambit of the Committee into the hands of the Unemployment Committee set up under the new Act of Parliament. Special committees will be appointed in different areas to deal with persons on transitional payment.

The hon. Member referred to the hours of work on the Continent and in this country, and he gave, as an illustration, an account of what happened in the Durham mines. I do not know as much about Durham mining as my hon. Friend the Member for Spennymoor and my hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson), but I had the opportunity of working in Durham mines for some time. When the Eight Hours Act was passed in 1910 Durham miners generally were prepared to make sacrifices so that the young boys employed in the mines at that time could have the advantage of more reasonable hours. But when the Seven Hours Bill passed through this House the Durham miners fell into line with the rest of the miners in the United Kingdom.


The six-and-a-half hours for coal hewers were not interfered with until after 1926, when the Eight Hours Bill became an Act.


I was coming to that point. As the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street reminded the Committee, the Durham miners were compelled by law to come under the eight hours arrangement. I wish to emphasise that the sacrifices which coal hewers made in Durham were largely and primarily for the benefit of the boys employed in the mines, and to keep in step with the other members of the Miners' Federation. The hon. Member for Sunderland raised two points with which I wish to deal. He said that the trade agreements have been beneficial to the mining community, but a good deal depends upon what year he bases his figures. If he takes 1932 as his basis, there has been a slight improvement, but, if he takes it from October and November of 1931 he will find that these agreements lowered the amount of coal which we were able to send abroad.


I said that had it not been for those agreements the coal trade would have been worse than it is at present.


I agree, but even with the completion of these agreements the coal trade is not in the position in which it was in 1931. Anything that we have gained under the agreements, therefore, is less than what this Government had previously lost. On the question of the Commissioners, the hon. Member for Sunderland and the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) had what was in a sense a wordy contest, but it was hardly that because one was shaking his head and the other was vehemently protesting. One welcomed the appointment of the Commissioners, and the other was against it. I agree with the hon. Member for Gorbals that in one sense the appointment of the Commissioners followed the practice which we experienced from the Prime Minister when he was leader of the party to which I belong. We used to be twitted by hon. Members opposite about the number of Committees and Commissions which he set up, and the present Postmaster-General was an adept at keeping count of the number which had been appointed.


The hon. Member must not judge the present Government by the defectiveness of the Labour Government.


Bad as the Prime Minister was at that time, he has got worse instead of better by association with the National Government. That is why the hon. Member for Gorbals was suspicious about the selection of these Commissioners to the distressed areas. I agree, on the other hand, with the hon. Member for Sunderland that, if they do not do any good, they cannot do any harm. The right hon. Gentleman who has been appointed for the Cumberland district has made a searching inquiry, and he has explored every avenue, to use the phrase of the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs. He has approached his work sincerely, and he has interviewed everybody from whom it was possible to get any information. Therefore, when he makes his report he will be able to bring before the Government the very serious and deplorable situation that exists in the distressed areas of Cumberland. The hon. Member for Central Newcastle-on-Tyne naturally said that his was the most distressed area of the country. The hon. Member for Sunderland replied that everything goes to Newcastle. I think that the figures would show that we are worse than Newcastle, because there are plenty of villages in my county where 75 to 80 per cent. of the people are unemployed.


The point I was trying to make was that in the towns of Cumberland such as Frizington, Cleaton, Egremont and Wath Brow the rates are so much less than in Newcastle, and that therefore Newcastle was more distressed in that respect.


May I remind the hon. Gentleman that it is a few years since he was in Cumberland. He used to be a source of amusement to us at one time, and he gave us good value for our money. It is a long time since he was there, and methods have considerably changed since then. Taking everything into consideration, the fact remains that this percentage of men are unemployed. I find it difficult to make up my mind where they are going to be employed again. The district mentioned by the hon. Member for Central Newcastle-on-Tyne is an iron ore district which produces the best haematite ore in the country. It does not pay the steel employers to mine it, and consequently our men are out of work. I understand that the Minister of Labour has announced that the Government have not made up their mind whether the reports of the commissioners will be submitted to Parliament. I think it will be a mistake if they are not. Although the Government may find that they cannot carry out all the suggestions that may be made by the commissioners, their reports may contain certain suggestions which may encourage employers of labour in other parts of the country to start new industries. That would be a great help to districts like mine, because I believe the solution of the problem of the distressed areas will largely he found in the starting of new industries.

I need not tell the Minister of Labour the qualifications of my particular district; he knows them, for he comes from an adjoining division. He knows that we have plenty of water for everybody who wants to come; transport is reasonable good; there is a long seaboard; and the railway facilities are not bad. I think, therefore, that there may be something in the commissioner's report which may be an inducement to employers of labour to start industries in that area. If employers never get to know what the commissioners think there can be little hope of progress coming through their action.

The hon. Member for Sunderland urged the Government not to be too hasty in their consideration of the reports but to give them full consideration. I do not think he need worry about that. He can rest certain that it will be some weeks or months before we hear of any Government decision on the subject. I appeal to *the Minister of Labour, with all the responsibility which he has, to use all his influence with the Cabinet to get these reports dealt with as speedily as possible, after fair consideration, of course. Speaking for my own area, the people there are looking forward with hope to what may emerge from the reports of these commissioners. I have tried not to damp their hopes, but still I have told them that probably their expectations will not be realised. For myself, I hope that something will come out of these inquiries, but I do not expect too much, because it is a very difficult problem, and will need a lot of thought to solve it, and I am rather afraid that with our present competitive system it will be nearly impossible to solve it. Anyhow, I still appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to expedite action on the reports.

The question of hours of labour and the attitude taken up by the British representatives at the International Labour Office has been raised. We set ourselves up to be the most advanced and progressive country in the world, and there may be some justification for thinking so. We deal with our difficulties and grievances by different methods from those of other countries. We fight them out in our own way, generally across the Floor of the House of Commons. There are never any bombs flying about while we are discussing our problems. It is a paradox, however, that immediately our representatives—who are representatives of the Government—go to these labour conferences on the other side of the channel they take up the same attitude as the representatives of Continental countries, in that the only thing they can agree upon is either an increase in the hours of labour, or allowing the hours of labour to remain as they are.


Before the hon. Member begins chastising the Government on the question of the 40-hour week policy, will he see what he can do to bring foreign countries down to the 47-hour week which we are now operating?


The hon. Member asks me to try to make foreign Governments do something. I cannot make our own Government do what I want. I have no voice in the councils of foreign Governments, and I am powerless. I can only talk to the Government of my own country; I cannot talk to the Governments of other countries. But there is no doubt that everybody in the trade union movement and the workers generally were amazed at the attitude taken by the representatives of this country at the conference in Geneva. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, before the next conference is opened, to give serious attention to the question of lowering the hours of labour, either by the day or by the week, as one method of providing a solution of the unemployment problem.

8.31 p.m.


The few remarks I have to make on this Vote will be somewhat varied, and I want to say at the outset that I regret that I heard no more than the last few sentences of the speech of the Minister of Labour. He will excuse me if I do not join in the general congratulations which have been extended to him on his appointment. I want to be quite frank. I prefer to wait until I see results before I offer my congratulations. Despite the good-humoured remarks of the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Cape) about losing prestige, the Minister in my opinion has become head of a Department where he will exercise immense power over the lives of a great mass of the common people of this country. A Conservative colleague of his who is still a Member of this House said that when he was offered the post of Minister of Labour he rejected it because he thought it was not in keeping with his standard of Cabinet rank. I know of no post more onerous, or one which carries with it so many difficulties and, at the same time, such a great responsibility. The new Minister is a young man, comparatively speaking, for Cabinet rank, and in his new post he will be judged only on one standard, and that is the amount of human decency and human happiness he can conevy to the mortals with whose care he is charged. Therefore, at the moment I will neither congratulate him nor condemn him, but say that I wait to judge him on results.

Among one or two points I have to raise there is one of small importance to which I trust the Under-Secretary may reply. In England the trade boards have offices and inspectors throughout the country. In Scotland the head office is in Edinburgh, whereas the industrial population of Scotland is mainly in Glasgow and the Clyde Valley. With the office in Edinburgh nobody in the whole of that industrial belt has access to the office. Edinburgh has its own characteristics but it cannot claim to be in the industrial belt. For every person covered by a trade board in Edinburgh there are nearly five in the industrial area in the west. Nevertheless, the Minister of Labour of Labour has refused to set up an office to which people could go in order to make legitimate complaints under the trade board section. I earnestly ask him to review the position not merely in Glasgow but throughout the country.

What is the position now? A person who wishes to make a complaint ought to have facility for doing so easily, should not be asked to undergo risk that can be avoided, and should not be liable, or even run the risk of being liable, to persecution because of making legitimate use of the law of the land. That person at the present time has to go or to write to an Employment Exchange. I have nothing but respect for the managers of Employment Exchanges, and I do not share the view which was put by a Conservative Member that they show a lack of courtesy. I have had as great an experience as most hon. Members of Employment Exchange managers from one end of the country to the other. Exchange officials ought not to do this work. In a large number of cases, the person does not want to make a complaint but merely wants advice and guidance, but there is nobody to give it. It is indefensible for there not to be an office of the trade hoard in a great city like Glasgow, to which must be added Paisley, Motherwell and Coatbridge. The cost would not be much, and surely the Employment Exchange building in Glasgow could spare a small room. In a teeming population like that it ought to be easy to find a place. It is not fair to the managers of the exchanges that they should have to handle this class of case, not that they have not the capacity, but that it is beyond their scope. The great mass of cases relate to female labour, and, if offices of the kind for which I am asking were established, it would be easy for a working girl to go there. She does not want to risk her job, but she wants decent treatment. I trust that the Minister will provide access for these people, and particularly in Glasgow, because it is a shocking scandal that no office of a trade board exists there. I hope that an office will be established at an early date.

I turn from that subject to the subject of the Commissioners. I have no faith in them. The head of the Government which appointed them used to be a member of the Labour party. When I was in the party, whenever we asked him to do something realistic he appointed a committee. Now it is not a committee, but a commissioner. You cannot always use the same word, and this word makes a little variety, but it means the same thing. There is nothing in these Commissioners. I remember Viscount Snowden, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, talking about an economy committee and saying that he could write their report in 10 minutes before they had sat. Such committees do not report upon the facts which are known by nearly every student of British politics. The Government have access to a mass of information, and it is an insult to the intelligence of the people to send out commissioners who are not necessarily more capable than the average Member of this House. One of them was sent to the North-East Coast, and it is assumed that after a few months tour he is coming back with great ideas about how things are to be put right. There are men of capacity and intelligence on the North-East Coast who could write everything about it without waiting. A Commissioner was sent to Scotland, but there are men already there, of the same Political philosophy as the Government, who know the conditions very well.

The charge against the Government is not that they are not publishing the reports. Ten minutes after they are published the reports will be forgotten. People pay little attention to reports. Consider how many reports have been published during all the years that we have been Members of this House, reports that were demanded, and waited for with bated breath. When they were published, the House spent 10 minutes on them, and afterwards nobody looked at them. All this waste is an excuse to keep things going for another few months. The Commissioners will make their reports, and the Cabinet and the Prime Minister must consider them. The Prime Minister will say that they must be considered well, and that we must not proceed to build upon them two bricks at a time, but only one brick; that you cannot build on shifting sands and that you must have a solid foundation. You can never get beyond that, and it takes a long time. The difficulty of getting something done takes longer still, and of course, nothing is done. If I were to ask half-a-dozen hon. Members in this House what they thought ought to be done, they would tell me, and their view would be based upon conviction. There is nothing marvellous about the Commissioners, who are just ordinary men who have been visiting these places.

The charge against the Government is that their action was contemptible. The one thing that differentiated the Prime Minister and Viscount Snowden who, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, may have been reactionary, was that Viscount Snowden did things without delay, and would come and brutally face up to a situation. This is the old policy of the Prime Minister, which he adopted when he was a member of the Labour party, of shift, delay and wasting time—anything, provided that you do not ask him to do something at the moment; and yet at the same time he conveys to the British people that he is doing something. He wants the best of both worlds.

I am not asking that the reports should be published; I do not think they will be of any value at all. As I have said, the Government have already access to a mine of information. They have the divisional controllers of Exchanges. It may be that they are Exchange workers, but they are men Who, on the North-East Coast or in Scotland, are travelling about day after day and interviewing business men. They know and understand the problems, and, if the Government had wanted reports, they could have got just as intelligent reports from these men, without all this marching about by commissioners—I saw one of them down in Wales—as though they were supermen who could visit that part of the country for a day or two and come back with a remedy. For 12 years, to my own knowledge, we have had Governments, every one of them admittedly just as honest and as capable as this Government, who have been examining this matter without being able to find a solution, and to say that someone is going to visit Wales for two or three days and come back with a solution is an insult to the Government.

The problem has baffled the present Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour. In my view it is not unduly flattering him to say that he is at least as capable as, if not more capable than, these Commissioners, and if he could find a solution for the problem he would do so, but it has baffled him. He has travelled Cumberland, using his intelligence and his knowledge, and he is now in the Government; and to say that a Parliamentary Private Secretary who has not had the experience that he has had can tour two or three towns and come back with a solution is an insult to the intelligence of the House of Commons and a reflection on the Government of which the Prime Minister is the head.

The hon. Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Denville) has raised the question of transitional payments in Newcastle. The matter was brought to my attention, because I am chairman of the union, and we have a fair number of men affected by it. What these ordinary men cannot understand is this: Three or four men, who had been employed for most of their lives by, I think, the Wallsend Slipway Company, have been out of work for four or five years. Their wages were roughly about the same, and their work was very similar. One or two of them live on one side of the river, and the others, by accident, live on the other side; and, while those who live on the one side receive transitional payments of 26s. for a married couple, those who live on the other side get—from the same fund, from the same Government money—only 24s. Is there anybody who can defend that?

I know that the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary will say that they have no control, that the local authorities have the power to pay the same amount of relief as they were paying to, an able-bodied person. But that is only true comparatively speaking. If a local authority paid such low benefits as to bring terrible hardship, physically and mentally, to the population, the hon. Gentleman and the Government would be in duty bound to interfere, even although there might be technical difficulties in doing so. The hon. Gentleman may use against me the analogy of Rotherham, but ordinary men cannot understand why, when a local authority tries to give to human beings something more, the Government have all the power that they need, yet, if it is a case of taking a shilling or two from the poor in Newcastle, they have no power. I know that the Parliamentary Secretary will argue against me with great skill and capacity, but that is no reply to the common people. The test applied by the population is not the quick passing of arguments across the Floor of the House of Commons, but how the common people understand it, and they cannot follow this.

I do not want to carry the matter further, but, if Newcastle wanted to pay it, they could pay it. This legality which has been found is a trick. There are cases where the disparity is even worse, and normal men ask, why can a thing be done here with impunity and refused there with impunity? The Minister is not without his persuasive power in a hundred and one directions, and all that he needs to do is to see the town clerk and these other legal luminaries. One of the great things about the law of this country is the marvellous way in which it can accommodate itself to a situation. All that the Minister needs to do is to tell them that this is doing nobody any good, that it is causing rank ill feeling, that it is unjust, and that it has got to be settled. If the Minister of Labour, the Parliamentary Secretary and the officials would bend their minds to it, they could see that Newcastle does what every decent man, whether Liberal, Tory or Labour, wants them to do.

I want now to raise a subject which has been raised before, namely, the "not normally in insurable employment" provision, because I think that something ought to be said about it. Here again, although we may play with words, although we may be good debaters and well able to find answers to one another, common men find difficulty in following us. For good or ill, Parliament has decided, in the new Act, to abolish the "not normally in insurable employment" provision. When the new Act becomes law, that provision will cease to exist. I do not think that the Minister will dispute that. The ordinary man cannot understand why it is decided that "not normally insurable employment" is to be abolished. If it had not been for the delay in bringing into operation Part II, which is not connected with "not normally" in that sense, it would have been the law. But Parliament has said that it must go. Why, then, is it being practised now? In my native city, so far as I know it, its operation is growing less, but in other parts of the country it is growing a great deal more. I have had cases brought to my notice in one or two places in Scotland where it is ghastly. The senior Member for Dundee (Mr. Dingle Foot) gave me yesterday two or three cases of men treated under this provision where there was no defence for them being flung out because of "not normally." The Minister is new to the job, but the Parliamentary Secretary knows that it is now being used as a new means of testing "not genuinely seeking work." The executive committee of my union has been faced with the problem of supplying men. There has been an increase in the building of aircraft. Our unemployed now are beginning to be confined to two sections, either the young man who has just entered the trade or the man who has been unemployed for two or three years. The employers find it almost an impossibility to get them. The men in the shop do not help him. The curious thing is that a man in a job, if he knows that he is going to be dismissed, will get a job, more easily while he is at work than when he is out of work.

Who can blame a man if at the end of four years his steps become slow and his actions become dull? Even there he is subject to "not normally." He is cross-questioned as to where he has been searching for work. He is asked if he has been looking here and there, if he has been to this place and that. I have a case from Campbeltown, where distilleries have been closed and some coopers have been refused. They have been asked what they have done to look for a job outside. When a man has been unemployed from three years to five years, the onus is not on the Exchange to disprove it, but on the man to rebut the presumption. He is in worse position than a, criminal. This poor devil five years out of work has to rebut the evidence of a, State Department. "Not normally insurable employment" is being twisted in a way it was never meant to be. When "not genuinely seeking work" was abolished, "not normally" was used for two categories, namely, people who had followed an occupation of £250 a year, or people who had,started business on their own account. When "not genuinely seeking work" was abolished, the figures for "not normally" rose by leaps and bounds, because in the case of those who had been for a long time unemployed, it took the place of "not genuinely seeking work." The ordinary man cannot understand why, in this period when we are waiting on the new Act, the Government cannot see that the wishes of Parliament are given effect to. Is it asking too much that this objectionable Clause shall be wiped out. The Minister of Labour or the Parliamentary Secretary may say that they have no power, that the Act is the Act and that the statutory authority, the Board of Referees, etc., must be allowed to judge. I submit that the Minister has power. Let him say that the words "not normally" shall be interpreted as was intended. He could to-morrow issue to his insurance officers an instruction that Parliament by design, by wish intended that the "not normally" provision should finish. That could be done to-morrow. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will take note of my remarks and will do what he can. In his Department there will not be great spectacular things done as in the Ministry of Transport, where the Minister gets great and glaring headlines in the popular Press, because of certain things. In his new Department there will be little popularity, but what he does will have its reflection in the homes of the people and on what he does in this respect will depend his greatness or his lack of it.

9.7 p.m.


The appeal of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) was directed to the Minister asking why an Act which the House has passed has not been put into operation before the date fixed. In the early part of his speech the hon. Member blamed the Government for having appointed Commissioners to visit the distressed areas. He was a little inconsequent in that part of his remarks. He pointed out that there were many people in the North-Eastern area, in South Wales and other distressed areas who knew all the conditions intimately and were capable of advising the Government. Therefore, he asked why four or five gentlemen had been selected as Commissioners to visit the districts. The answer seems to be obvious. It is because it was a very reasonable method of collecting the opinions of precisely those people who know all the local circumstances. The Commissioners have gone there to study the conditions on the spot. They are not deaf and dumb and they are not blind. They are perfectly capable of gathering the opinions best worthy to be heard and conveying those opinions and their own impressions to the Government. That is why the Commissioners were appointed. Complaints have been made that the reports are not, to be immediately published. I very much doubt whether the Government would have got these gentlemen to give their time and to go there to collect information if it had been understood that the moment they had made a report, before the Government had had time to consider it, it was to be made public to all the world and no doubt would provide political platform ammunition for Members of the Opposition.

The hon. Member for Gorbals said that he did not congratulate the Minister on his elevation to his present post. Neither does any other man in the House. He has undertaken a position in the Government which is not only one of the most onerous but one of the most honourable and requires the greatest devotion, the greatest courage and the greatest ability. Of all the appointments that have been made to the Government, the one that gives the most general satisfaction not only in the House but everywhere where the right hon. Gentleman is known, is the appointment that has been made of the new Minister of Labour. He is following in the footsteps of one who served admirably for years in the Department, and he deserves and has the good wishes of every Member of the House. I say to him: "On, Stanley, on." I believe that he will go from height to height and will reach very high office in the future.

May I mention two speeches which were made earlier in the Debate? The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) and the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Cape) both spoke about the International Labour Office, and accused the Government not only of being unsympathetic to a general international 40-hour week but of representing only the employers' view. The hon. Member for Wednesbury said, quite candidly and very truly, that in his opinion it was possible to regulate hours of labour internationally but he did nit believe that you could regulate wages internationally. Those two questions are absolutely inseparable. Unless we want to give away a still further advantage to our competitors who are already far below our standards of living and our rates of wages, we cannot agree to any regulation of hours without regulation of wages. Until we get a levelling up of wages we cannot have a universal level of hours. The two things absolutely go together.

I will give an illustration to show how impossible it is to deal with the question of hours by itself, while with regard to wages we continue to pay relatively to Europe the highest rate, and other nations continue with their lower rates. If we are to maintain our standard of living and to have our people here capable of buying the products of industry, we must not reduce remuneration. If we were to agree to a smaller number of hours and leave our foreign competitors free in the matter of wages and only bind them in the matter of hours we should give them a further advantage in competition with this country and throw more people out of work here rather than help to find employment. The illustration to which I have referred shows the hopelessness of dealing with the question of hours alone in face of competition from the Far East. The fact only became known to me yesterday.

We have the competition of Japan in industrial matters and the competition of China in agricultural products. For liquid eggs, of which we hear so much, I am told that the Chinese peasant is paid only one penny per dozen. He works all day on his poultry farm to produce eggs at one penny per dozen to go down to the factory at Shanghai, where they are sterilised and put in tins and sent here. In the face of that sort of thing how in the world are we going to deal internationally with the question of hours when there is this huge disparity in wages which, on the admission of the hon. Member for Wednesbury, we cannot tackle in the international field through the International Labour Office? I promised only to speak for a very short time because there are other hon. Members who desire to take part in the Debate, which has been interesting although not largely attended.

9.15 p.m.


The Committee, I am sure, will agree that the Debate has been of considerable interest and that some points have been put forward which will require careful consideration by the Minister before he can give what will be considered an adequate, or satisfactory reply. In the first place I want to deal with the right hon. Gentleman's statement with regard to the commissioners. He has put the Committee in rather an awkward situation. He said that if the Government were to publish the reports of the commissioners it would be a breach of faith. I agree that it would be a breach of faith if the Government led the commissioners to understand on their appointment that any reports or statements made by them would be confidential. Even if such an arrangement was not made on their appointment, if nothing of that kind was considered. I would agree that even then it would be a breach of faith if the Government were to publish the reports without first consulting the four commissioners. But the Government must bear in mind that these four commissioners have submitted very important information to the Government, at least I assume that to be the case. The Minister of Labour says that these reports are to enable the Government to frame a policy. Cannot the Government ask the four commissioners if they are prepared to agree to their reports being published, or if there is anything in them of a confidential nature, any information given to them by the people whom they consulted which they might wish to withdraw, could be deleted before the reports were published. The money that has been spent on these investigations has to be voted by this House, the expenditure will have to be met out of some Vote, and I think that Parliament should have what they are paying for.

As the Minister of Labour is now in his place, may I congratulate him not upon the onerous and hard position in which he has been placed but upon his elevation to Cabinet rank'? That is the matter upon which we must congratulate him. We sympathise with him because of the many occasions upon which he will be put through it by hon. Members in regard to the administration of his Department. Some time ago a committee was set up to inquire into finance and industry. It made a report, but the evidence was not published. I put several questions to the Prime Minister asking whether it was intended to publish the evidence and the reply I received on several occasions was, "No, there were many matters of a very confidential character in the evidence submitted by outstanding financiers of the country, who appeared before the committee." I pressed the matter, and one day the Prime Minister rose and said that it had been decided to print the evidence in two volumes, and now anyone can buy them through the Stationery Office or can go through the questions and answers 'An one of our libraries. Cannot the same thing be done here? Have the Commissioners been asked whether they object to their report being published? If not, why all this secrecy, why all this appearance of something very confidential, something which, if it were revealed, might bring the National Government tumbling down in wreck, ruin and chaos?

I sometimes wonder what the Government really consider to be derelict areas. I have a case of a young lad in a training centre in my own division who wanted to be transferred to a district in which certain work was being done, on a grant of money by the Government, one of the conditions of the grant being that a proportion of those employed on the work should be taken from a depressed area. He got the reply that my division was not a distressed area. I got the same reply in answer to my question, but yet a Commissioner is sent down to my district to make inquiries. Are these Commissioners inquiring into the conditions in derelict areas or depressed areas? In any case, the result is to be locked fast in the archives of the Government and the House of Commons is to be denied any information, unless it is put forward as the future policy of the National Government. The Minister takes up the attitude not that the House of Commons is not entitled to the information but that it would be a breach of faith. I have given an instance where, after reflection, the evidence given before a much more important committee was published, and I suggest that the same thing should happen in this case.

In spite of the fact that there has been some slight improvement in trade, conditions are not as good as they ought to be. As the Minister himself admitted, the trades which are showing an increase in the number of people employed are trades which cannot be considered as vital, by which I mean industries upon which in the past the well-being and the material wealth of this country were considered to depend. Trades such as coal mining, iron and steel, shipbuilding, shipping and the docks do not show any great material increase in the number of those who are employed. One significant fact stands out, almost blinding you with the force with which it strikes you, particularly in these days when a Disarmament Conference is going on and one reads in every newspaper of its breakdown and of nations starting a race of re-armament in order to be ready if another war breaks out. The curious feature is that in the Twenty-first Abstract of Labour Statistics one of the trades which shows a most beneficial advance is the industry which is concerned with explosives. The unemployment figure has fallen from 15.8 per cent. to 3.6 per cent. Twelve out of every hundred who were unemployed have gone back. It shows how the panic of a future war affects this particular industry. The Minister smiles, but may I suggest to him that those who may suffer from these explosives will have less cause to smile than he appears to have?


Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will ask one of the hon. Members who represent mining constituencies whether explosives are not used for other purposes than warfare.


That may be true, but the Minister should bear in mind that there is not an increase in those going back to work in coal mining to warrant the increase in the numbers of those returning to work in the explosives industry. If he knew anything about mining—I dare say that his knowledge and mine are about equal—he would know that there are fewer explosives used in mining to-day than were formerly, so that that particular interjection of the Minister does not cut much ice. In shipbuilding there has been no material reduction in the number of unemployed. The same thing is true with regard to marine engineering. It is true that electrical engineering shows some slight reduction, and constructional engineering, which deals with up-to-date methods of constructing buildings, shows a very material reduction. But there, again, you are not dealing with the primary manufacturing industries of the -country. Taking Lanarkshire and the West of Scotland in the industries in which our people are mainly concerned, there has been practically no diminution in the numbers of unemployed. As a matter of fact, the figures which I received from the Minister a short time ago ought to show that perfectly clearly. The number of unemployed persons in Scotland was 325,972 on 14th May, 1934, as against 364,618 on 22nd May, 1933, a reduction of only 38,646 for the whole of Scotland. The percentage reduction for England was much larger. The number of unemployed in England was 1,997,438 on 22nd May, 1933, and 1,561,770 on 14th May, 1934, a reduction of 435,668.

There may be a diminution in the numbers of unemployed, but one can find that diminution only in places like Birmingham, Coventry, London and the counties surrounding London, which are not affected in the same way as South Wales, North-East England, and the industrial belt in the Clyde Valley and across to Stirlingshire. These are places which show that a very marked depression still prevails. When the Minister tried to take some credit to the Government for the policy which they had put into effect as being responsible for the reduction of unemployment, I think that he was taking too much for granted. After all, the reason why there are so many ships laid up, why so few ships are being built and why dockers are idle, is the fiscal policy of the Government. It has been responsible for the depression in shipbuilding, coal, and in all those things which affect shipping, the loading of ships and the building of machines.

I submit that the Amendment which we have put down has been justified by the attitude adopted by the Government and by the continued condition of the country. It is rather unfortunate that the Minister's first appearance at that Box should be to answer what is practically a Vote of Censure, but he will re alise that it is not he, the individual, against whom it is directed, but against the administration of his Department. Having taken upon his shoulders the work of the Ministry of Labour the right hon. Gentleman assumes responsibility for that Department and must answer for those things which have been going on in the Department during the past year. Therefore, we feel that we are justified in taking this matter to a vote and in testing the feeling of the Committee upon it, because of our dissatisfaction with the replies received from the Ministry, the Minister's attitude regarding the Commissioners, his refusal to publish their reports, and the general conduct of the Department.

9.36 p.m.


We have listened to a very interesting Debate. The speech of my right hon. Friend this afternoon regarding the important question of the reports of the investigators in the distressed areas leaves me very little indeed to say on that particular subject. I will, therefore, spend as much time as is available in endeavouring to deal with one or two other points that have been raised. The hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Maclean) endeavoured to illustrate the damage that was being done by picking out the explosives industry. If I understood him correctly, he desired to suggest that although, as far as the men in that industry are concerned, it was a very good thing that the percentage of unemployment had been decreased, nevertheless the fact that the percentage of unemployment had been reduced seemed to the hon. Member to indicate that they had found employment in providing munitions of a future war, and that that implied condemnation of the Government. There are in this country at the present time 12,500,000 insured persons, and I am sure the Committee will be interested to know that the total number of insured persons employed in the explosives industry is the very large number of about 14,000. An interesting thing, in connection with the hon. Member's argument, is that when his party was in office the number employed in that industry was about 17,000.


Is it not the case that in the statistics that are published by the Ministry of Labour the percentage is given as exactly what I have stated?


But that merely shows bow dangerous it is to take percentages and not to take the total figures. I am quoting from the "Ministry of Labour Gazette." The hon. Member proceeded to use the argument that he used a short time ago in the Debate on the Estimates, when he said that although it was quite true that some of the distributive trades had increased employment, nevertheless what he called the vital trades had really not benefited at all under this Government. I shall not weary the Committee by going through them all, but in the course of the last 12 months the following are the figures of decreases in unemployment in what the hon. Member calls toe vital trades. The improvement in coal mining is 26,000; in engineering, 70,000; metal trades, 33,000; iron and steel trades, 26,000; shipbuilding, 22,000; building, 36,000. That is a total improvement of over 200,000 during the last 12 months in the trades that the hon. Member quite rightly calls vital trades.

The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) in his opening speech said that our fiscal policy had done no good to the coal trade, that on the contrary it had done considerable harm. I think we are perfectly entitled to ask what the policy of Free Trade under the Labour Government did for the coal trade. This is the answer: Whereas when the Labour Government took Office and the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street stood at this Box the number of unemployed in the coal trade was 204,000, when he left Office, or just before, it had risen to 379,000. To-day the number is 358,000, and as I explained the other day in the Debate on the Estimates, while the number to-day is not showing a very appreciable improvement, nevertheless the men at work are working more shifts per week and are, therefore, earning better wages than they earned last year.


But the hon. Gentleman cannot question the figures from his own official "Gazette," which show that in June of 1931 there were 840,000 miners engaged in the mining industry and that to-day there are 771,000.


I am not denying that there has been a slight fall in the numbers, but it is nothing compared with the fall that took place under the Free Trade Administration of the hon. Member. The hon. Member for Chesterle-Street and the hon. Member for Newcastle Central (Mr. Denville) talked about the restoration of the cut. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street specifically asked what the Commissioners in Durham were doing, and the hon. Member for Newcastle Central complained about the action of the Newcastle authority, and questioned whether their statement was correct and whether they were acting legally. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street was under some misapprehension. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer made it quite clear, as far as transitional payments were concerned, that as they were based on need there would be no automatic increase of 10 per cent.

As far as the legal question is concerned there is no change. The Order in Council has remained in operation. It lays down that a man applying for transitional payment shall be treated in all respects as though he was applying for public assistance, and the position at present is that with the raising of the rate of standard benefit those local authorities whose public assistance scales are as high as or higher than the new rates of benefit are entitled, where the need of the man requires it, to make determinations at the full rate. Any local authority is, of course, perfectly entitled to raise the scale either wholly or in part if it is found inadequate. I understand that in fact the Newcastle authority has raised its Poor Law scale, although not to the same height as the rates of benefit. The Newcastle authorities are undoubtedly acting strictly legally and are applying the same standards to applicants for transitional payments as to applicants for public assistance. Hon. Members opposite in the course of the Budget Debate said that in that case the concession to the transitional payment class was purely illusory, that the £3,600,000 which was allocated for that purpose by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Budget would not reach the applicants. That was the accusation made.

I would start off by reminding the Committee again that the Chancellor of the Exchequer said there would be no automatic 10 per cent. increase. But what we are concerned to see is that the additional £3,600,000 does reach the pockets of the persons receiving transitional payment. That, I am sure, is the desire of the Committee. We have had special inquiry made as to the results of the payments made in the week ended 14th July, that is the second week after the new rates of benefit came into operation, and I am sure the Committee and hon. Members opposite in particular will be glad to learn that the average rates paid over the whole country have increased by 8 per cent. or nearly the 10 per cent. represented by the £3,600,000. As these figures relate only to the period ended 14th July, and there were determinations current which had been made by the local authorities before July, the Committee may rest assured that, taking the country by and large, the intentions of the Chancellor are in process of being carried out and that the £3,600,000 will find its way into the pockets of those for whom it was destined by my right hon. Friend.


Is it not the case that there is an ever-increasing number of claimants for transitional payments, and that you might easily spend the £3,600,000 upon the additional payments caused by that increased number,


No, Sir, I was careful to cover that point by saying that this was the average rate of payment.


Will the hon. Gentleman deal with the position in Durham?


As regards Durham, I understand the position to be that the Commissioner has raised his scales in a number of cases and that, in particular, the single man to whom reference has been made, has been raised from 15s. 3d. to 16s. I am informed that it is by no means a rigid rule and that where a single man has special requirements which justify the payment of the full rate of 17s. instead of the 16s., that, in fact, is being paid.


Is the 16s. not a rigid rule?


No, I am informed by the Commission that it is simply a guide and that, wherever the circumstances justify it, the full rate of 17s. can be paid and is being or will be paid.


Are the Government accepting responsibility for that?


That is a matter entirely for the administration.


May I ask the Parliamentary Secretary a question?


I must ask hon. Members to allow me to proceed as the time is limited. The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) raised one or two points about the 40-hour week convention. He said that the prestige of Great Britain stood very high at Geneva and that he thought it of supreme importance that an attempt should be made to raise the standards of other countries up to the standard of this country. I agree, but I am certain that what is equally important is that the standard of this country should not be lowered in the process and that is what might have been the result of the proposals put forward by the representative of the Trades Union Congress at. Geneva this year.

There can be no shadow of doubt about the fact that the great majority of the other countries represented at Geneva desired a work-sharing convention pure and simple with no regard to wages at all. The concern of the other Governments there was to try to cover up the fact that they had no adequate unemployment insurance or poor law system, by getting their people to share out the work irrespective of wages and the majority of the workers on the Continent were prepared to do that. Any convention embodying that provision would have resulted in a definite lowering of the standard which has been won in this country as the result of the years of work, not least by the trade unions. When the hon. Member for Wednesbury accuses us of taking the side of the employer against the workman, I do not think he realises what happened. What happened was that we defended the interest of the British working man against the misguided advice of many of their leaders. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] What I have said is quite clear from the report of the proceedings. Hon. Members have only to look at what happened.

I wonder how many hon. Members have thoroughly studied the wording of the Convention itself. The original draft Convention provided that these hours of work should not apply to any establishment with less than seven workers. That would have made the Convention in- applicable to a large number of establishments in this country and to a much greater number of establishments abroad. After some discussion the representatives of the British workers saw that fact and opposed the provision and the British Government representative backed them up and secured its deletion. No sooner had we secured it, than many other Governments concerned said the Convention in that case was of no use to them and, when it came to voting on the first Article, as amended, these other Governments abstained, there was no quorum and the Convention fell through. Yet this is the Convention that we are accused of having opposed in the interests of the employers.

Let me return to the question of these investigators' reports. Hon. Members will know that the very detailed surveys referred to by the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street, go back to as long ago as 1931. One of the interesting things which came out of these surveys and a feature common to them all is the fact that in the years before 1929 a great deal of the surplus population of areas had gradually drifted away and found work in other and more prosperous parts of the country. So much so was this the case that, to take South Wales as an example, that area in 10 years lost 242,000 persons by migration. Scotland lost 200,000, Lancashire lost 130,000, and Durham and Tyneside had lost the amazing figure of 123,000 in the four years preceding 1929. [HON. MEMBERS: "Population?"] Yes, population, showing that there was a gradual drift away from those areas and a gradual absorption of the population by the more prosperous areas of the country. That was a process that was commented on by the Industrial Transference Board and was helped to a great extent by the Government up to 1929. But it is clear that in order to enable that to happen the rest of the country have to be more or less prosperous.

Hon. Members opposite cannot escape their share of responsibility for the present position of the distressed areas. Let me remind them of these facts. In 1929 when we spoke of distressed areas, South Wales was regarded as one of the black spots. It had then a percentage of unemployment of 21.5 whereas the whole of the country had less than 10 per cent. It was in those conditions that we got that drift of population of 240,000 away from South Wales. What happened between 1929 and 1931? As a result of the trade depression which accompanied the administration of hon. Members opposite, we found when we took office in 1931 that the average percentage of unemployment over the whole country had risen to 21.2. In other words, the unemployment position in the country in 1931 was as bad as it had been in South Wales in 1929 when South Wales was regarded as a black spot. It can be imagined, in face of that fact, whether there was any chance of getting the population out of these derelict areas. My right hon. Friend mentioned as one of the favourable elements in the situation the fact that since September, 1932, 1,000,000 insured persons had found permanent wage-earning occupation. But there is an even more striking figure, and that is the number of men who have been out of work for over a year—the so-called "hard core of unemployment." The hard core of unemployment in the last 13 months, the number who have been out of work for a year or more, has decreased by nearly 80,000, and it is that evidence of an improved situation in trade that led us to believe that at last the time had come when there was some reasonable hope of making an impression on the distressed areas.


How many have gone on to the Poor Law?


None; they have found work. The hon. Member said: "Why make these new inquiries when we have the information" Since the surveys were written in the course of the summer of 1931, the whole fiscal system and agricultural policy of this country have been changed. The hon. Member talked about the revival of industry, but the whole trend in industrial development has changed. There are questions of land settlement, afforestation, the problem of local government services, of local finance, the development of social services in these years. All these things have radically changed in the last three years, and we therefore require, as my right hon. Friend has said, the personal knowledge of these investigators whom we have sent. There is also, of course, the point made by the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey), that of the information volunteered by so many public bodies, commercial, social and municipal, in the depressed areas. Surely he would be the last person to suggest that all this advice should be rendered nugatory because there was no time to consider it. On the contrary, I think the investigators are to be complimented on the fact that they have carried through so quickly the onerous task laid upon them, and I will end by repeating why my right hon. Friend said to-day that we hope, and certainly intend, that as soon as the reports are in no avoidable delay will take place in considering them both individually, and in their relation to each other, and to the problems of the rest of the country. I confidently hope that before the autumn we shall be in a position to announce some results of our consideration.


May I ask whether the Minister of Labour, or the Govern-

ment, will ask the commissioners if they have any objection to the reports they have made being published? This is a very important matter to the country, and I ask if this question can be answered.


I think my right hon. Friend explained this afternoon very fully that it was announced at the very commencement by the late Minister, when the names of the investigators were given, that the reports were to be reports to the Government and would be of a confidential nature. I think the Government must stand by that statement.


The Parliamentary Secretary said that he hoped the Government would be in a position to make a statement of policy before the autumn. Does that mean before the House reassembles, before the King's Speech, during the Recess?


I am sorry if said "before the autumn"; I meant in the autumn.

Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £38,903,000, be granted for the said Service."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 57; Noes, 330.

Division No. 348.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Mander, Geoffrey le M.
Attlee, Clement Richard Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Milner, Major James
Banfield, John William Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Owen, Major Goronwy
Batey, Joseph Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) Paling, Wilfred
Buchanan, George Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Parkinson, John Allen
Cape, Thomas Grundy, Thomas W. Rea, Walter Russell
Cove, William G. Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Cripps, Sir Stafford Harris, Sir Percy Salter, Dr. Alfred
Curry, A. C. Janner, Barnett Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Dagger, George Jenkins, Sir William Tinker, John Joseph
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Kirkwood, David White, Henry Graham
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lawson, John James Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Dabble, William Leonard, William Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Edwards, Charles Logan, David Gilbert Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Lunn, William Wilmot, John
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) McEntee, Valentine L. Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) McGovern, John
Gardner, Benjamin Walter Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Mainwaring, William Henry Mr. G. Macdonald and Mr. Groves.
George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Mallalleu, Edward Lancelot
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Aske, Sir Robert William Barclay-Harvey, C. M.
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Balllle, Sir Adrian W. M. Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar
Albery, Irving James Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.) Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J. Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.) Balfour, George (Hampstead) Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Belt, Sir Alfred L.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Bainlel, Lord Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel
Bernays, Robert Glossop, C. W. H. McEwen, Captain J. H. F.
Blaker, Sir Reginald Glucksteln, Louis Halle McKie, John Hamilton
Bllndell, James Goff, Sir Park Maclay, Hon Joseph Paton
Bossom, A. C. Goldie, Noel B. McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)
Boulton, W. W. Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Macmillan, Maurice Harold
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Gower, Sir Robert Macquisten, Frederick Alexander
Bower, Commander Robert Tatton Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.) Magnay, Thomas
Boyce, H. Leslie Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Maitland, Adam
Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald Graves, Marjorie Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest
Bracken, Brendan Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Mannigham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.
Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.) Greene, William P. C. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Grenfell, E. C. (City of London) Marsden, Commander Arthur
Brass, Captain Sir William Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Martin, Thomas B.
Broadbent, Colonel John Grimston, R. V. Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Gritten, W. G. Howard Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. Meller, Sir Richard James
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Gunston, Captain D. W. Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)
Burnett, John George Guy, J. C. Morrison Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres
Burton, Colonel Henry Waiter Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Moreing, Adrian C.
Butt, Sir Alfred Hales, Harold K. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)
Caine, G. R. Hall- Hammersley, Samuel S. Munro, Patrick
Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly) Hanbury, Cecil Nall, Sir Joseph
Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Hanley, Dennis A. Nall-Cain, Hon. Ronald
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Carver, Major William H. Harbord, Arthur Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)
Castlereagh, Viscount Hartland, George A. North, Edward. T.
Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City) Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n) Nunn, William
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) O'Donovan, Dr. William James
Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring) Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Orr Ewing, I. L.
Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Patrick, Colin M.
Clarke, Frank Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Pearson, William G.
Clarry, Reginald George Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford) Penny, Sir George
Clayton, Sir Christopher Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Perkins, Walter R. D.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Hepworth, Joseph Petherick, M.
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, B'nstaple)
Colman, N. C. D. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,Bliston)
Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Holdsworth. Herbert Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.
Conant, R. J. E. Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston) Power, Sir John Cecil
Cooke, Douglas Hornby, Frank Pownall, Sir Assheton
Copeland, Ida Horsbrugh, Florence Procter, Major Henry Adam
Courtauld, Major John Sewell Howard, Tom Forrest Pybus, Sir John
Crooke, J. Smedley Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Radford, E. A.
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Ralkes, Henry V. A. M.
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Hume, Sir George Hopwood Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)
Cross. R. H. Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)
Crossley, A. C. Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Ramsbotham, Herwald
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Ramsden, Sir Eugene
Culverwell, Cyril Tom Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Rankin, Robert
Dalkeith, Earl of James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Rathbone, Eleanor
Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery) Jamleson, Douglas Ray, Sir William
Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovll) Jesson, Major Thomas E. Reed, Arthur C, (Exeter)
Davison, Sir William Henry Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Reld, James S. C. (Stirling)
Dawson, Sir Philip Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan) Remer, John R.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Renwick, Major Gustav A.
Denville, Alfred Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Dickle, John P. Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West) Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Robinson, John Roland
Drewe, Cedric Kerr, Hamilton W. Ropner, Colonel L.
Drummond-Wolff, H. M. C. Knox, Sir Alfred Rosbotham, Sir Thomas
Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Ross, Ronald D.
Duggan, Hubert John Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Roes Taylor. Waiter (Woodbridge)
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Leckie, J. A. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.
Eastwood, John Francis Leech, Dr. J. W. Runge, Norah Cecil
Edge, Sir William Lees-Jones, John Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)
Edmondson, Major Sir James Leighton, Major B. E. P. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter Lennox-Floyd, A. T. Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)
Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey Lewis, Oswald Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)
Elliston, Captain George Sampson Liddall, Walter S. Rutherford, John (Edmonton)
Elmley, Viscount Lindsay, Kenneth (Kilmarnock) Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)
Emmott, Charles E. G. C. Lindsay, Noel Ker Salmon, Sir Isidore
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe- Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.) Llewellin, Major John J. Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard
Fermoy, Lord Lloyd, Geoffrey Savery, Samuel Servington
Fleming, Edward Lascelles Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd. G'n) Scone, Lord
Fox, Sir Gifford Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.) Selley, Harry R.
Fraser, Captain Sir Ian Loder, Captain J. de Vere Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Fremantle, Sir Francis Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Fuller, Captain A. G. Mabane, William Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)
Galbraith, James Francis Wallace MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G.(Partick) Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Ganzonl, Sir John MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Shute, Colonel J. J.
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John McConnell, Sir Joseph Simmonds, Oliver Edwin
Gledhill, Gilbert McCorquodale, M. S. Skelton, Archibald Noel
Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-In-F.) Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- Wardlaw-Mllne, Sir John S.
Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F. Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dlne,C.) Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart Wells, Sydney Richard
Smithers, Sir Waldron Summersby, Charles H. Weymouth, Viscount
Somerset, Thomas Sutcliffe, Harold Whyte, Jardine Bell
Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East) Templeton, William P. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Soper, Richard Thompson, Sir Luke Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E. Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Southby, Commander Archibald R. J. Thorp, Linton Theodore Wills, Wilfrid D.
Spencer, Captain Richard A. Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.) Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H. Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford) Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Spent, William Patrick Touche, Gordon Cosmo Windsor-Clive. Lieut.-Colonel George
Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde) Tree, Ronald Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland) Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L. Womersley, Sir Walter
Stevenson, James Turton, Robert Hugh Worthington, Dr. John V.
Stewart, William J. (Belfast, S.) Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Strauss, Edward A. Wallace, John (Dunfermline) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Strickland, Captain W. F. Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull) Captain Sir George Bowyer and Captain Austin Hudson.

Original Question put.

The Committee divided: Ayes, 342; Noes, 58.

It being after Ten of the clock The CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 14, to put severally the Questions, That the total amounts of the Votes outstanding in the several Classes of the Civil Estimates including Supplementary Estimates, and the total amounts of the Votes outstanding in the Estimates for the Revenue Departments, the Navy, Army and Air, be granted for the Services defined in those Classes and Estimates.