I have received a manuscript Amendment from the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones), but I am not quite certain of its relevance. Perhaps the hon. Member will be good enough to explain it.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
As I understand it, Clause 1 deals with payments from and to the Exchequer in respect of milk sold or used for the manufacture of cheese. The question I wish to raise is how these payments are to be vouched for.
I think the Amendment is in Order. I was not quite certain of the hon. Member's intention.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. JONES
I beg to move, in page 1, line 8, to leave out the words:by means of such evidence as may be prescribed.I presume these payments will be checked by the Milk Marketing Board's officials in the ordinary way. Is it not a fact that, as the Bill now stands, in practice, neither the Minister nor, indeed, the Comptroller and Auditor-General can investigate the accounts or the records of those payments? I presume they will undoubtedly be certified by the auditors of the board themselves. The question is what power there will be for their precise verification. I take it that this power can only be obtained by means of regulations which will be drafted by the Minister. 1809 In Clause 7 (3) the power is given to ascertain the amount repayable to the Exchequer, but there does not seem to be any power given to the Minister or anyone else to ascertain the correctness of the original payments. It is clearly an accounting point vis-à-vis the Ministry and the Public Accounts Committee. It is a point of some substance from the point of view of the House of Commons. We are now setting up all sorts of boards, and it is important that we should have power vested in the Comptroller and Auditor-General to ascertain somehow with precision how these original payments have been made and whether they have been properly so made. If the right hon. Gentleman can give me some assurance on that score, I shall be very glad indeed. I rather thought that the words that I am proposing to omit had reference to regulations that he may be contemplating in accordance with Clause 7 (3).
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Elliot)
I think I shall be able to satisfy the hon. Gentleman, who is a, member of the Public Accounts Committee, and who naturally desires to preserve the authority of his Committee—
§ Mr. ELLIOT
Of the Committee as the eyes and ears of the House—that there is no point arising here. The difference between this and the Clause to which he refers is the difference between lending and recovering a £5 note. There are meticulous provisions laid down as to how payment is to be recovered, but it is not necessary for us to specify in what form the loan of the £5 is to be made, because on that I have to satisfy fully the Comptroller and Auditor-General. On being satisfied, Ishall out of moneys provided by Parliament pay to the Board.That is to say, all those sums would have to appear in my Estimates. I shall be fully responsible for them. The Comptroller and Auditor-General would certainly not be satisfied with the certificate of the officer to whom the money was being paid. I can assure the hon. Member that the point that he 1810 desires to secure, namely, the control of this House over these advances, is fully met.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
May I pursue the point a step farther? I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that the Comptroller and Auditor-General will have power to check these payments in every respect. As I see it, under this Clause the Comptroller and Auditor-General will not have power to send his officers into the premises of any of these people and call for the examination of their papers in respect of payments from the Exchequer.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I think I can assure the hon. Gentleman that he will have all the powers, because he can say to the board, "Unless you give me all the access to your information that I desire, I shall not pay over the money." He, therefore, retains complete power, and, if any Member of the House asks me on what evidence the money was paid out and whether it was bona fide expended, I shall have to satisfy the House, under the seal of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, that in fact these payments were properly made, and the responsibility will fall upon the tried and trusted financial machinery of the House and the Exchequer of showing that no such payments are made unless upon evidence which will satisfy the Comptroller and Auditor-General and any Member of the House who cares to question such payments.
§ 8.53 p.m.
§ Sir FRANCIS ACLAND
The words proposed to be omitted are "by means of such evidence as may be prescribed." In Clause 13 one gets a definition of "prescribed," namely,'Prescribed' means prescribed by regulations made with the approval of the Treasury,and by the Ministers concerned. The Treasury is thoroughly accustomed to helping the Minister to make regulations regulating the payment of public moneys to persons other than public Departments and is certain to see to it that the matter is done properly and that the Comptroller and Auditor-General has proper supervision of it. In view of this definition of what "prescribed" means, we may be certain that there is no risk in the matter.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Sir STAFFORD CRIPPS
In Clause 7 it has been necessary to put in a whole lot of provisions as regards powers of inspection and powers of entry, penalties for making wrong returns and all the rest of it, and those same things surely will be wasted under Clause 1. Surely, it is not right for the Minister to prescribe by means of regulations such things as penalties when they are not laid down in the Act. When it says the Minister may prescribe so and so, we give the Minister a general power in these matters. Where Parliament desires to give the Minister the powers which are expressly stated in Clause 7, I think it is very undesirable that, if similar powers are required in this Clause, they should not be dealt with in the same way. You should not in one ease merely leave it to the Minister to prescribe such matters as regards right of entry into premises, penalties for sending in false returns and all the rest of it. If it be necessary, right and proper to do it in detail under Clause 7, it is equally necessary, right and proper to deal with it under Clause 1. Would not the easiest thing be to apply the procedure of Clause 7 to the returns that were required under Clause 1 so as to give the Minister power to use the powers of Clause 7 for the purpose? He need not prescribe the form, but give him the powers of Clause 7 for the purpose of enforcing the form he wishes to prescribe under Clause 1. It is really the difference between prescribing the form and giving powers. Under Clause 7 we give the powers necessary to implement the inquiry into the form. It does not seem to be right to leave under Clause 1 the power to the Minister to prescribe the powers of implementing. It may be quite right to leave him the power of prescribing forms, which is obviously a convenient matter for him to prescribe. We ought now to give the Minister the powers he requires to implement and prescribe the form.
§ 8.57 p.m.
It is rather difficult for the Committee to be seized of the full implications of the manuscript Amendment. I know the lines along which, in these matters, the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. M. Jones) works, if not in other matters, and I am certain that the point he is making is one which 1812 ought to be considered a little further. I ask the Minister not to close his mind between now and the Report stage in order that those who perhaps have most technical knowledge on this point may consult together so that there may be no trouble in the future. My right hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Sir P. Acland) said that the case was met already under the provisions prescribed in Clause 13, but the approval of the Treasury is not necessarily one with which we are in accord. We are not talking about Treasury powers, but the powers of this House in regard to this matter, and which are not always the same. If the Minister will tell us that he will consider the matter further I am sure that it will satisfy everybody.
§ 8.59 p.m.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I have very great pleasure on a financial matter such as this to give the fullest assurance that I will look into it to see the exact bearing of the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend opposite. It is not always easy to grasp the full implications of a manuscript Amendment. On the point raised by the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps), I would say that in the later Clauses of the Bill we are dealing with the recovery of money and the making of grants of money. It is clear that when we have money in our hands and are passing it over we may prescribe the most rigorous and meticulous regulations and be sure that they will be carried out. When we deal with the less difficult matters we can prescribe every step we desire, whereas when we are dealing with more speculative business such as the recovery of money we have to collect information and have power of entry and have to create new offences, though we do not like it, which are punishable by fine. The recovery is a different matter altogether from the granting of money, but I shall certainly look into the matter and see whether it is desirable and possible to meet my hon. Friend.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
I am quite satisfied, in view of the discussion which has taken place, that the subject I have raised is one of some substance, and the Minister has met us very handsomely by undertaking to inquire further into the 1813 matter, and with that assurance I shall be most happy to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper:
§ In page 2, line 8, to leave out "month," and to insert "of the twenty-four consecutive months."—[Mr. Elliot.]
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Sir B. PETO
On a point of Order. The Minister is about to move his Amendment to insert the words "of the twenty-four consecutive months" in place of the word "month." These words are related to the words which follow in lines 9 and 10 of page 2 of the Bill, namely:March, nineteen hundred and thirty-four, and the beginning of April, nineteen hundred and thirty-six.The next Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) and other hon. Members proposes to limit the operation of the Bill to 1935 instead of 1936. If the Minister's Amendment be carried, it will put out of order the next Amendment on the Paper, and I should like to ask whether there is any reason why the manuscript Amendment of the Noble Lady the Member for Kinross and Western Perth (Duchess of Atholl) to substitute "twelve consecutive months" for the "twenty-four consecutive months" to be proposed by the Minister should not be acceptable to the Chair, thus protecting the further Amendment in her name and that of some hon. Members opposite. Otherwise, I do not see how that Amendment can be moved.
§ 9.2 p.m.
It is obvious that, if the words proposed to be inserted are inserted, the next Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) and other hon. Members—in page 2, line 10, leave out "thirty-six" and insert "thirty-five"—must fall in consequence of the decision already taken by the Committee. It will be competent for Members to discuss the question of "twenty-four" on the Question, "That those words be there inserted." If the Committee decide to insert the words, there is nothing else to be done. I think that the discussion could be taken on 1814 those words quite easily, or else we could have the discussion on the question to leave out the word "month." Obviously, we can only have one discussion, and I am in the hands of the Committee as to what is the most convenient course.
§ 9.3 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
We had thought of handing in a manuscript Amendment on the lines of that of the Noble Lady so that we might discuss the point in connection with our Amendment on the Order Paper. It was clear to us, that whether we handed in a manuscript Amendment or not, we could only have one discussion. Fearing as we do the hoards of Members who are in the precincts of the House, we do not expect our Amendment to be carried, but we do not mind on which Amendment discussion takes place as long as it serves the same purpose.
§ Sir B. PETO
It is extremely desirable that words such as the Minister proposes should be inserted. It will make the Bill read very much better. Therefore had we not better have the discussion on whether it shall be "twelve" or "twenty-four"?
§ 9.4 p.m.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
There are several other Amendments which follow upon this one from a drafting point of view. It is desirable in these matters to clear up the Bill as we go along. I suggest to my hon. Friend the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) and other hon. Members that it would be better to have a discussion on the question, as you put it, Captain Bourne, "That those words be there inserted." We can raise the general issue on that question, and, if the Committee so decide, we can proceed to the consequential Amendments throughout the Bill which stand in my name and which cannot be inserted if we adopt the word "twelve" instead of "twenty-four."
After listening to the discussion, I think that the simplest thing to do would be to leave out "month," and then on the Question, "That those words be there inserted," for the Noble Lady to move to leave out "twenty-four" and to insert "twelve." We could have a full discussion on whether the "twenty-four" should stand part, and, if the words "twenty-four" stand part of the Amendment, it will become the consequential 1815 Amendment throughout the Bill. I think that that will be the simplest way.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I beg to move, in page 2, line 8, to leave out "month," and to insert "of the twenty-four consecutive months."Queston, "That the word 'month' stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, to leave out "twenty-four" and to insert "twelve."
This is a question to which I referred on the Second Reading of the Bill. I am very glad that my right hon. Friend has come to the assistance of the milk industry in what is a very severe emergency, and is making this advance, but it is an advance which has to be repaid if the price of milk products rises more than one penny above what is fixed as the standard price. As I said on the Second Reading of the Bill, I feel that a more effective method, and one which would have a more permanent effect than this temporary advance, would be the exclusion of butter which is largely responsible for the tremendous fall in the price of butter in recent years. I sent figures to my right hon. Friend, which I worked out month by month for the last two and a-half years from the Board of Trade returns, giving the average price at which butter had come in from the different importing countries, the Dominions and foreign countries, and he must have observed that whereas in 1928–29 the price of Russian butter was much the same as the price of Australian butter—
The Noble Lady is arguing that the period of the advance should be 12 months and not 24 months. I cannot see that the imports of Russian butter would be affected by that.
Duchess of ATHOLL
My argument is, that if we make this advance, which has to be repaid if butter rises above a certain price, the industry will tend to stabilise the price just below the price at which repayment has to be made. That is human nature and we have to 1816 take account of it, whereas, if I am accurate in saying that these imports have a serious effect upon prices, then if we exclude them we shall be able to get a much more substantial price for butter and one that will be more permanent and will not entail an advance. I believe that is the best way to deal with the matter, and I do not want to see the Minister, in the generosity of his heart, imposing for a longer period than is necessary this system of giving an advance, because the advance will have to be repaid if prices rise above a certain level, which would mean a future burden on the industry. Moreover, fear of that eventuality will have the effect of keeping the price at a certain level, which will prevent the industry from getting a rise to the full extent. Therefore I suggest that the price-cutting factor should be excluded.
When I mentioned this matter the other day the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland was not able to give me a reply, but he has now given me a written reply, and I do not think it is satisfactory. He personally dismisses the proposal by saying that the quantity of butter coming in from Russia is too small to have any effect. That is the argument advanced by hon. Members opposite. It is possible to make that argument on the surface, but the point has been put to me repeatedly by people in the trade that even a small quantity of butter coming on to the market at a cut-throat price does have an extremely disorganising effect. Although Russian butter imports into this country are not nearly so great as the imports from Australia, New Zealand or Denmark, Russia is the fourth largest supplier of butter. She is a much bigger supplier than she was a few years ago. In 1928 the imports from Russia amounted to 300,000 cwt. and last year the total was 500,000 cwt. In the first three or four months of this year the imports had grown four times compared with the corresponding months of 1932. The cut in price is not 1s. or 2s. but from 20s. to 40s. a cwt., and the price goes lower and lower.
I do not think that this argument arises on the Amendment. The Amendment is to cut down the period of the subsidy to one year. I do not think the question of Russian butter arises on that.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I have moved that the period during which the advance may be made should be limited to one year in order that we may not have these restrictive imports affecting butter prices in this country. By limiting the period of the advance it will lessen the burden that will have to be met under certain circumstances, a burden which those concerned will find it extremely difficult to bear. My desire is to restrict the imports which are keeping down butter prices.
§ 9.11 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I support the Amendment moved by the Noble Lady but for very different reasons from those which she has advanced. On the Second Heading of the Bill I made some reference to the speech of the Noble Lady. While I do not wish to enter into a discussion on the merits of butter from Russia, Denmark or elsewhere I would remind the Noble Lady that, despite the four-fold increase of imports of Russian butter this year as compared with a previous year, for the first four months of this year there was only 1 lb. of butter imported from Russia against 40 lbs. from elsewhere. It may be that a small quantity imported from anywhere has an effect upon prices. If so, why not the imports from New Zealand or Denmark or anywhere else? It seems to me that a comparatively small amount of imports of butter from any one country can have little or no effect on the dairying industry of this country.
Our reasons are very different from those of the Noble Lady. We are anxious to limit this so-called advance to 12 months, not because we are anxious that the Government should impose fresh duties upon imported butter—already those who consume butter in this country are paying a duty of three halfpence on the imported butter from foreign countries, and three halfpence a lb. is a considerable sum for poor families—but because, and it can be demonstrated by facts and figures over and over again, if, as the result of artificial restriction of any kind, you force the price of butter up to a certain point you will not only not achieve the result you are seeking but you will deny a very large number of people of the privilege of buying butter. The consumption of butter will be reduced to an abnormally low level, because of the use of butter substitutes, 1818 and that will not help the dairying industry. We are anxious to restrict this proposal to advance £1,750,000 for two years, to one year. First of all, we think the problem is not so much to help manufacturing milk as to increase the consumption of fresh, pure, liquid milk. The longer we advance funds for the purpose of subsidising milk so long shall we ignore the real problem which is facing the dairying industry in this country.
It is proposed to advance £1,750,000 during the first year; during the second year the amount is an unknown quantity. We believe that if advances are made for two years the Department will not attempt to provide an alternative solution by an increase in the consumption of liquid milk. Unless we can increase the consumption of liquid milk, far in advance of the present consumption, this temporary policy will leave us, at the end of two years, exactly where we are today. If we restrict the subsidy to 12 months the Department and the Milk Board will be obliged to provide an alternative policy for the consumption of surplus milk. We have suggested in previous Debates that opportunities exist for feeding school children and nursing mothers, but however the consumption is increased the only possible way of providing a lasting solution for this problem is by increasing the consumption of milk. During the 10 months which will be at his disposal and during which nearly £2,000,000 will be advanced, an alternative policy ought to be produced, the Ministry and the Milk Board should be able to settle down and find a way of increasing consumption. The longer we delay the production of such a scheme so long shall we hesitate to apply a settled policy to this country. We have also to remove the fears and anxieties which exist in some quarters in regard to the purity of our milk supplies and make it worth while for people to transfer their affections from beer to milk, or from any other liquid commodity.
The Committee will be generous to the dairy industry if it sets apart a sum of £1,750,000 for 10 months and at the same time invites the industry to organise a scheme whereby they can facilitate and increase the consumption of milk in our elementary schools. The board have almost unlimited power. They can cut down their distribution costs. They can 1819 organise a scheme to supply elementary schools with milk for consumption at absolutely the minimum cost of distribution. I do not propose to give the right hon. Gentleman the details of such a scheme, but the Committee is entitled, when £2,000,000 of the taxpayers' money is being handed over to a section of the agricultural industry, to expect that something will be done in return. A two years' policy is bad, because it will not inspire the industry to do for itself what it really ought to do. We are also in fear and trembling that the result of a subsidy for two years will mean a greater rather than a less output, and will, therefore, mean a larger instead of a smaller surplus. The right hon. Gentleman has never hinted up to the moment at what he expects will happen in the next two years, and I hope he will tell us what he thinks the position will be at the end of that time. The taxpayer will have been responsible for £3,000,000 or £4,000,000, and as this is an advance, perhaps a gift, it is highly speculative as to whether any repayments will be made, we are entitled to know what is likely to happen at the end of two years. Does the right hon. Gentleman expect to be able to produce a policy, a bigger policy. Unless he can assure us on this point we shall be obliged to support the Amendment.
§ 9.21 p.m.
§ Sir B. PETO
I desire to submit in a few words the reasons why I support the Amendment of my Noble Friend. At first blush it might seem strange that hon. Members on this side should be proposing a limitation on the generosity proposed by the Minister of Agriculture to find a certain amount of public money for 24 consecutive months so far as manufacturing milk is concerned. I do not think this is a subsidy for manufacturing milk, that is not a proper statement of the case. The subsidy is to reduce the levy which people who supply liquid milk have to pay, therefore, it is a subsidy for the encouragement of liquid milk, and without some such measure the supply of liquid milk, which the hon. Member for the Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) desires to see supplied in much larger quantities to school-children, would be liable to dry up altogether. What we want to get at is the particular reason for the 24 months. It is fairly clear that the period for this loan subsidy comes to an end in 24 months 1820 when the Ottawa Agreements relating to the importation of milk products from the Dominions will be reconsidered, and when a fresh scheme based on a restriction of Dominion imports can be substituted for a scheme of a Government loan subsidy.
The reason I support a reduction of the period to 12 months is this. There are measures which the Government are free to take now which will not impinge on the markets for Dominion dairy products, and which, if put into force, would obviate the necessity of finding public money for a period of more than 12 months. I do not want to go into any details which you, Sir, have ruled out of order with regard to importation from any one country or another. Suffice it to say that, broadly speaking, we have imports from foreign countries in regard to which in most cases we are completely free. In the case of the imports from Soviet 'Russia we have special liberty under our Trade Agreement to cut them off' altogether if we so choose. These imports, particularly those from Soviet Russia, are the imports which are injuring the dairy industry. I do not wish to put that in any more detail or to incur the slightest risk of your calling me to order. It is necessary to say that, because, from the fact of our being supporters of this Amendment at all, we do not want to limit the support that the Government shall give to the dairy industry, but we wish to suggest that the loan subsidy has to be repaid by the industry itself as early as possible. If in the next 24 months we arrive at any period of increased prosperity at all, we do not wish it to be nipped in the bud. That would be the very worst method that could possibly be adopted. The loan is justified as a temporary expedient. I should like to see it limited to 12 months, because the Government have other methods open to them, namely, dealing with imports of dairy products which are causing distress to the industry in this country.
With regard to the arguments put forward by the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams), I am convinced that if he wants more and cheaper liquid milk he must recognise the fact that the dairy industry must be made profitable. If he wants cleaner milk, it is a costly thing to provide; if he wants the herds cleaned up, it has to be done by the people who own the herds, and so he 1821 must secure that the milk consumption from those herds shall provide a reasonably profitable market. Otherwise, any scheme that is tried will be bound to fail. I cannot, therefore, go very far with the hon. Member in his reasons. I want the Minister to consider seriously that 12 months is long enough to arrive at some practical proposals that will not cause the taxpayer even a probable expense, but will bring a certain problematical amount of revenue into the country, not from Import Duties but from an increase in the output of the industries themselves. You cannot collect Income Tax unless the people of this country can make an income. Therefore, any measure calculated to increase the prosperity of the dairy industry should be made not at the expense of the taxpayer or by anything that will cause a reduction of the money brought into the Revenue. Considering the many problems with which he has to deal in connection with agriculture, 12 months will give the Minister long enough not only to turn round but to find a better method than is proposed by this Bill.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ Captain HEILGERS
The hon. Baronet said that the Measure was only justified as a temporary expedient, and he therefore wishes to make it only for one year. If, however, it is a temporary expedient to cover the position to-day, it must go on as long as the Ottawa Agreements continue as at present, and as long as we feel the effects of those Agreements. There is a glut of butter and cheese at very cheap prices coming into this country to-day as a result of the Ottawa Agreements, and it is probably quite right that the people in the towns should get cheap food in that way. I have no grumble against that. So long, however, as they are getting it and getting an unfair advantage at the expense of the producer, then the producer should get the compensating advantage that he is getting under this proposal, and for at least two years.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ Mr. HENDERSON STEWART
I suppose that it would be possible to take the steps that the hon. Baronet suggests within 12 months, and from that point of view I suppose that he is justified in supporting the Amendment. No one, however, who appreciates the international 1822 position of this country conceives that the hon. Baronet's suggestion for cutting down these supplies wholesale is a practical proposition. I therefore pass to the reasons offered by the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams). I share the desire to have more effective measures provided for increasing the consumption of liquid milk, but I do not see how that can be done within 12 months, and I take the view that at least two years is necessary. Nevertheless, in supporting the Minister against this Amendment, I wish to impress upon him the feeling that is common in many parts of the country and is shared by a great many of us who are supporting him, that more effective steps ought to be taken to increase the sale of liquid milk. I know that there is to be a grant of £500,000 for publicity, but my information from a very authoritative source, is that the whole of that half-million will be spent on the penny per child for increased school consumption.
The hon. Member had better raise that point when we reach the Clause dealing with it.
§ Mr. STEWART
Other hon. Members have been explaining their reasons for supporting one or other of the two Amendments. I was trying to do the same, but I certainly bow to your ruling.
§ 9.33 p.m.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I am sure that we must all admire the ingenuity with which my hon. Friends in all parts of the Committee have advanced arguments dealing with, I will not say all the countries from China to Peru, but certainly with a very wide geographical and an even wider economic range. I should like the Committee to come back to the simple problem of whether this assistance should be given for one year or two years. I would impress upon my hon. Friends in all parts of the House that nothing raises more enthusiasm among hon. Members than the suggestion of planning in the abstract, but that nothing is more certain to bring down on us their condemnation than planning in the concrete. Does anybody suggest that the steps necessary to alter the full incidence of milk consumption in this country can be put through in twelve calendar months, or that the great change over from one source of supply to the other can be accomplished during that time?
1823 My hon. Friend the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) did me the honour of saying that within less than twelve months I could certainly work out a scheme. I have devoted myself to this problem for considerably more than twelve months, and here is a scheme. I have studied the relation of foreign to Dominion supplies and the bearing of both of them on the food consumption of the people of this country, and the bearing of low prices of food on the level of consumption—these things have been my daily care for a long time past. I assure the hon. Member that it is not possible within the next twelve months to work out a scheme for a regulated supply unless by persuasion. Persuasion has been tried to the utmost, and the Dominion countries, which we can only persuade and argue with and not compel, have not found it possible to come within any such scheme.
Therefore, we have to deal with the facts as we find them. As my hon. Friends have pointed out, we are not able to deal with those facts which we have, until the expiration of 24 months, and it is for that reason that the proposals run for that period. Less than that will not do for the objects desired by my hon. Friends on this side. As for the objects desired by my hon. Friends opposite, I am sure that they themselves would be the first to realise that you could not in 12 months carry out the wide and sweeping schemes which they have in view. The Milk Board is only in its infancy, and it is facing a number of tremendous problems. It is impossible to prophesy that the conditions in 12 months will be so simple and satisfactory that it will get rid of all its problems. When I propose two years, my only fear is that it will be too short a time in which to grapple with these tremendous problems, but I am willing to stand upon and defend the theory of two years.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I assure my hon. and learned Friend that annual Votes have a much better chance of being repeated in the House of Commons than Votes which have to be reviewed at the end of a period longer than one year. An annual Vote is simply a subsidy without any more ado.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
An annual Vote continually renewed is most difficult to interrupt. It is much easier to review a Vote where the period is such a period as two years, and there is much more chance of bringing it to an end. I would beg of the Committee not to halve the assistance which we propose to bring to the industry. The conditions which affect the industry now will affect the industry until the end of 24 months, and I ask the Committee to approve of that period.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ Mr. DAVID GRENFELL
The right hon. Gentleman struggled manfully to reach common ground with us but I submit that he has failed. Although he claims that he has fallen in with the desires of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) in regard to the planning of industry, he has failed to reveal even the promise of a plan in the Bill before the Committee. He has frankly asked the Committee to give this industry a subsidy. It is a kind of dole which the Minister is supporting here and the Noble Lady opposite complains because it is to be taken out of the taxpayers' pockets.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I did not refer to the taxpayer. I was raising the point that if these products rose above a certain price repayment would have to be made and it would result in an additional levy on the producers of liquid milk.
§ Mr. GRENFELL
Our complaint is that the Minister is not bringing forward a plan for making the agricultural industry prosperous on its own footing. He is asking us to extend a subsidy over a period of two years and he has indicated that he may come back again for a further subsidy for another two years. There is no indication in the Bill or in what has been said by the Minister that he is getting down to a definite plan for the reconstruction of the milk industry.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
Is it not the contention of the hon. Member for Don Valley that unless the consumption of liquid milk is expanded the schemes will not be successful? In this Bill we are proposing 1825 plans, running up to four years in one case, for expanding the consumption, and I do not think it quite fair of the hon. Member when he has the Bill and these plans before him, to say that I am bringing forward no plan at all.
§ Mr. GRENFELL
The Bill starts with this temporising proposal. If the Minister says that he is coming directly on to proposals for encouraging and increasing the consumption of liquid milk we shall express our view on that part of his plan in due course, but this is a proposal intended to satisfy the farming population until the Ottawa Agreements come to an end. It is, openly, a sop to the farmers and has no reconstructive element in it at all. It is simply to keep them quiet until the Minister decides what he is going to do after the Ottawa Agreements expire. But is he satisfied that when the agreements expire he will not be bound up again by similar conditions which will require further obligations to be undertaken by the Government which he represents? We would much prefer that the Minister should take his courage in both hands in dealing with this so-called surplus production. There is really no surplus production, but there is considerable under-consumption of milk. That is the disease which the right hon. Gentleman has to remedy, and until he finds a remedy for it he will simply be paying out money, collected unwillingly from the taxpayers, to the farmers in the form of a subsidy or a bribe to carry on the industry.
§ The House of Commons would be ready to support the Government, if the Government said they were prepared to encourage the consumption of liquid milk. There may be a few people who would resent the idea that milk should be given to the children, but I think they are very few. The conscience of the country has been thoroughly roused on this question. As regards this Amendment, 12 months is a long time in the right hon. Gentleman's political life. His death-sentence as a Minister may be decreed and carried out before 12 months have passed. We ask him to be satisfied with the 12 months which it is proposed to give him to-night, and that he should devote it to making a proper plan for the reconstruction of the industry which will add to the consumption of liquid milk and expedite the improvement of the quality of the milk. He will find that there will be no opposition on this side of the House to such bold plans. The opposition which does come from this side is only because the Minister is not, we feel, tackling this job as he ought to tackle it.
Duchess of ATHOLL
May I say that I am satisfied with the Minister's statement, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment to the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the word 'twenty-four' stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 214; Noes, 48.1827
|Division No. 284.]||AYES.||[9.44 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Albery, Irving James||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Dickie, John P.|
|Alexander, Sir William||Browne, Captain A. C.||Dixey, Arthur C. N.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Drewe, Cedric|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Burnett, John George||Drummond-Wolff, H. M. C.|
|Apsley, Lord||Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Edge, Sir William|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Edmondson, Major Sir James|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Carver, Major William H.||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Elmley, viscount|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Clayton, Sir Christopher||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Colfox, Major William Philip||Fraser, Captain Sir Ian|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey||Fremantle, Sir Francis|
|Bernays, Robert||Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Fuller, Captain A. Q.|
|Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)||Copeland, Ida||Ganzonl, Sir John|
|Blinden. James||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Gledhill, Gilbert|
|Borodale, Viscount.||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Gluckstein, Louis Halle|
|Boulton, W. W.||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Crossley, A. C.||Granville, Edgar|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Grimston, R. V.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Scone, Lord|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Martin, Thomas B.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Hammersley, Samuel S.||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Hanbury, Cecil||Mayhew. Lieut.-Colonel John||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Milne, Charles||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Hartland, George A.||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Mitcheson, G. G.||Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine, C.|
|Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Moreing, Adrian C.||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Walter||Morrison, William Shepherd||Soper, Richard|
|Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Hornby, Frank||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Howard, Tom Forrest||Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid||Spens, William Patrick|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Nunn, William||Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||O'Connor, Terence James||Stones, James|
|Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Storey, Samuel|
|Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Palmer, Francis Noel||Summersby, Charles H.|
|James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.||Patrick, Colin M.||Sutclifle, Harold|
|Jamieson, Douglas||Peake, Captain Osbert||Templeton, William P.|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Pearson, William G.||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Petherick, M.||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Tree, Ronald|
|Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Pike, Cecil F.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Purbrick, R.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Pybus, Sir Percy John||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Radford, E. A.||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Wills. Wilfrid D.|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Lewis, Oswald||Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Liddall, Walter S.||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Windsor-Clive. Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Lindsay, Noel Ker||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Llewellin, Major John J.||Rickards, George William||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Ropner, Colonel L.||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Wragg, Herbert|
|MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'oaks)|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Runge, Norah Cecil||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Captain Austin Hudson and Major|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||George Davies.|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Salt, Edward W.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke||Grundy, Thomas W.||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Milner, Major James|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Ztl'nd)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Batey, Joseph||Holdsworth, Herbert||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Janner, Barnett||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Cape, Thomas||Jenkins, Sir William||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merloneth)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Edwards, Charles||Kirkwood, David||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Lawson, John James||White, Henry Graham|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Leonard, William||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Logan, David Gilbert||Wilmot, John|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Lunn, William||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Mainwaring, William Henry||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Mr. John and Mr. G. Macdonald.|
§ Proposed words there inserted:
§ 9.52 p.m.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 19, after "Parliament," to insert:not exceeding five hundred thousand pounds in each year.I admit at once that it is a very vulnerable Amendment, because I have no means of knowing that that is the figure 1828 which should properly be inserted, but also I know that the Minister does not know either, because on an earlier stage of the Bill he said that it was almost impossible to make any estimate. For all that, I think, in passing a Measure of this kind, we ought to insert some figure. I do not mind if it is a little more than the right hon. Gentleman thinks to-day may be necessary, so long as we do not give the Government a completely blank 1829 cheque, which is what we are doing. I am rather shocked at the Minister of Agriculture coming down first with a Money Resolution and then with the Bill itself and not inserting a figure. Some two years ago he was Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and there he always had the most careful concern for the most meticulous management of the national finances, and now he appears to have become a classic example of gamekeeper turned poacher. I have looked at what he said in an earlier Debate, and we have some sort of figure, because on the Committee stage of the Financial Resolution, when dealing with the figures of the guarantee, he said:The expenditure in the first year should not exceed £1,000,000; but as there are two unknown factors it has been thought prudent to budget for a maximum expenditure of £1,500,000 to £1,750,000. As to the second year, I do not think it is necessary to make a forecast now."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st May, 1934; col. 3S0, Vol. 290.]I must say that those are rather startling words to come from the Front Bench of a Government whose prime function, after all, was to restore our national finances, but I will take my right hon. Friend one step further in what he said himself:It has been thought prudent to budget for a maximum expenditure of £1,500,000 to £1,750,000.Where is the budgeting? There is no figure inserted in the Bill and there is no figure in the Money Resolution, and yet he talks of budgeting for a maximum expenditure. I am shocked when he goes on to say that it is not necessary to make a forecast now. He might have said it was difficult or impossible or impracticable or unwise, but surely it is always necessary to try and know how much any scheme is likely within reasonable limits to cost. I see that there is another Amendment on the Paper which puts the maximum sum at £4,000,000. That figure, I take it, is what has been gathered from remarks made from time to time from the Front Bench. We all admit the extraordinary difficulty of giving an accurate figure. It stands to reason when you are dealing with a problem of this kind, but I beg the Committee to bear also in mind that in the Second Reading Debate the Minister said this when dealing with the first Clause:The Minister for this purpose is a composite body consisting of myself and the Secretary of State for Scotland acting together, with the approval of the Treasury. 1830 There is no danger of the two of us getting into a corner and writing out enormous cheques on the Treasury without consent."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th June, 1934; col. 1128, Vol. 290.]That, again, is rather a dangerous line to adopt because it would seem from that that the function of the Treasury is to be a spending department, and that is the one thing which this House is always trying to prevent. The Treasury is supposed to be in control of expenditure, and is surely not to be consulted in this way on the actual spending. Its job is to check the actual amount of expenditure, and I do not think that can be considered a complete safeguard. I do not think the case needs very much development because it stands quite obviously in the form of the Amendment. I do not stick to £500,000 at all. I hope the Minister will not answer on the point of the amount.
I want him to try and put in some figure so that if the figure is likely to be exceeded, at any rate in the second year, there should be an opportunity for Parliamentary discussion. We have had schemes of assistance before. The wheat scheme was one of the most successful because that set a maximum, and while it is not a charge on Exchequer funds, the public at large know the maximum amount which can be diverted into the fund. The sugar beet subsidy, on the other hand, did not have any sort of maximum, and while I should be the last to criticise the beneficial effects of that policy as a whole, coming from the part of England that I do, yet I am certain that if we had known when the scheme was first passed what we knew to-day, it would never have been passed in the form in which it was, because there was that possibility of an almost unlimited expansion, which may or may not have been a good thing from the grower's point of view, but which, from the point of view of the taxpayer, was one of the contributory causes of the crash with which this Parliament is called upon to deal.
Therefore, I beg the right hon. Gentleman to try and devise some figure. I put in £500,000 because it sounded a good figure. I do not think it is necessarily right, but I want the right hon. Gentleman to say that there will be a maximum. Otherwise, there is, as was pointed out in earlier Debates, the great risk of more 1831 and more production instead of a check. As I understand, the general object of this policy is to try and abolish surpluses and gluts. It is quite possible that it might be found difficult not to increase production under these various schemes. Therefore, I do press the right hon. Gentleman to cast his mind back to the sort of feelings he would have had two years ago when he was at the Treasury if the then Minister had proposed a scheme of this kind, and try and blend the caution which he used to show with the imagination which he is exercising to the great advantage of the agricultural industry to-day. I ask him to combine with that the caution which is not only the characteristic of his own race, but of the school in which he was trained in the other Department over which he presided with such success. I ask him to be very careful before he or anybody else on the Front Government Bench asks the House to pass a blank cheque.
§ 10.1 p.m.
§ Sir F. ACLAND
As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) has not emphasised the particular figure he names as constituting the point of his Amendment, but rather the principle which underlies it, namely, that the House should not vote blank cheques, I shall save time by speaking to his Amendment and not moving my Amendment—in page 2, line 24, at the end, to add:Provided that such payments, together with any payments made under Sections two and three of this Act, shall not in the aggregate exceed the sum of four million pounds.I do, of course, attach a little importance to the figure. My figure is arrived at by doubling the £1,750,000, which is one of the more precise figures which the Minister has used, and given him a margin of £500,000. I attach a great deal of importance, and I believe many Members of the House do, to there being some limitation in the Bill and some figure named. It does not mean that that should be the final figure, but it does mean that, if the Minister sees that the computation he has made is likely to result in the figure being exceeded, he would have to come back to the House. I think from the point of view of any Chancellor of the Exchequer that is the businesslike way of dealing with these 1832 subsidies. The Minister ought to be able to calculate a figure. He knows what the figure for April has already been. I asked him to give that figure, but he has not seen his way to give it. It must already have been calculated, and that figure might give some guidance of what the figure for the rest of the year is likely to be. At any rate, the principle of limitation of subsidy is surely a good thing, and if we gave him the maximum he has named with a margin that ought to satisfy anybody.
§ 10.3 p.m.
§ Major HILLS
It seems to me that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland) forgets that we are in a crisis in the milk business, and in a crisis we have to give a free hand to somebody. I sincerely hope the Minister will not accept the Amendment. It is not a case of saying, "You shall spend so much money and no more." The real fact is that we have to save the milk industry, and if we subsidise the price of manufacturing milk it is known that that affects the price of liquid milk; and unless that price can be underpinned and upheld by the higher price for manufacturing milk, there will be no milk problem at all to talk about. The condition is far more serious than the right hon. Member for North Cornwall appears to realise, and I hope the Minister will not agree to any' limitation of the amount to be spent.
§ 10.5 p.m.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I have been appealed to by my hon. Friends on both sides of the Committee for a more precise figure. I will try to give the basis of my calculation. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crook-shank) said that I ought to be able to give some sort of figure, so I will give him the statistical basis upon which I am working. Roughly it is this: Assuming that 180 million gallons of milk qualify for the advance, two-thirds of which come in the summer period and one-third in the winter period, the sum required, on the basis of the present cheese price of 3½d., is about £1,000,000. It is, therefore, clear that the suggested figure of £500,000 would be inadequate. But I agree that my hon. and gallant Friend said that he was not wedded to 1833 his figure. He said "Put in some figure." That request was repeated by my right hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland), who wished to give a global figure for the two years. Let me give this further calculation. If the cheese price fell to 2½d. the amount required would be over £2,000,000. The cheese price would have to go to over 4½d. before the provision of £500,000 would suffice. It is very difficult to forecast the course of the cheese market. It has, especially for a period of two years, oscillated very widely in the past, and it may oscillate again in future.
If I put in a high figure it would be blazoned all over the country that the House of Commons had voted £5,000,000 for the relief of the milk industry, and if that £5,000,000 were not expended there would be a feeling of betrayal in the minds of the dairy farmers. I cannot imagine anyone who would spend more time in denouncing us than my ton. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie) if the amount spent was only £4,999,999. We are working under the terms of the Financial Resolution, which decided upon a guarantee of 5d. in the summer and 6d. in the winter. Unless we put in so high a figure that there is no possibility of it being reached, we are going against the previous decision of this House on the Money Resolution. If we put in a figure so high we, firstly, stultify a decision which would come to mean nothing, and in the dairy industry we raise hopes which will not be fulfilled. Therefore I hope that it will not be necessary for my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough or my right hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall, to press this principle to a Division. A limitation had already been conceded, in the limited price, the price of 5d. in the summer and 6d. in the winter. In the later stages of the Bill there are no limitations as to price but as to global sums. I hope that with that explanation it will be possible for my hon. and gallant Friend not to press the Amendment, with whose principle as an ex-Financial Secretary to the Treasury I heartily sympathise.
§ 10.11 p.m.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I can appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's difficulty. When you start giving wholesale subsidies to private enterprise, of course people are 1834 always apt to accuse you of not giving them as much as they expect. I rejoiced in the pleasant interchange between the right hon. Gentleman and his Scottish friends about the odd threepence. But I do not agree with the proposition that it is impossible in a Bill of this sort to lay down some kind of limitation. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Major Hills) suggested that this was a sort of period of crisis, and I can understand that in a period of crisis any Government may want, and should be entitled to get, and future Governments may want and will be entitled to have, a free hand. As regards matters of this sort we shall look to the right hon. Gentleman to see that the hand is free. This, however, is not a question of crisis but of planning. The right hon. Gentleman has said that he has to look ahead and plan for at least two years, but so far a the question of the quantity of excess is concerned what is he planning? Is he planning to reduce his surplus by keeping the same quantity of production but getting more liquid milk consumed, in which case the 180,000,000 gallons will be reduced, or is he planning to increase his milk production so as always to have a surplus of 180,000,000 gallons for manufacture? I have not heard anything from the right hon. Gentleman as to what his plan is regarding the quantity of milk to he produced.
It is very important, when we are considering the amount of money, to insert some figure, because otherwise we run the risk that every amount by which the liquid milk consumption is increased will mean a total increase in production. I shall be interested to hear whether he contemplates, as in the figure he has given us of 180,000,000 gallons going on for two years, that the extra liquid milk that he hopes to be consumed under the other parts of his programme are coming from extra and fresh production, or whether they are to be a transference from what is at present manufactured to liquid milk. We do not believe in this subsidy on manufactured milk, and as this is a convenient way of voting on a reduction of the subsidy to £500,000, we shall certainly support the Amendment.
§ 10.14 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. EVANS
We think it is desirable to place some limit on the amount of subsidy which will be pro- 1835 vided, but I quite appreciate the difficulty of the Minister in assessing that figure, because there are so many incalculable factors. I would remind the House, however, of a case which illustrates the importance of the point we have been trying to make. I have been reading the account of the Debate on the subvention to the coal industry in 1925, when the Prime Minister of the day asked for sanction for a subvention of £10,000,000. In the Debate which followed the introduction of that Resolution exactly the same kind of objection was raised as has been put forward today, or perhaps it was a demurrer rather than an objection. The whole thing was left more or less in the air. It was estimated that £10,000,000 would be required to put the coal industry on its feet, and the House, I think with some reluctance, accepted the figure of £10,000,000, but the conditions were somewhat undefined and in the upshot that £10,000,000 grew to £26,000,000. Though we on these benches have put down an Amendment to limit the amount to £4,000,000, we appreciate fully, as I have said, the difficulties which arise from the existence of so many incalculable factors; but while representing an agricultural constituency and very anxious that stability should be introduced, I appreciate that it is no use launching a scheme of this kind without some sort of certainty as to the future. I appreciate the difficulties of defining a limit, but I would warn the Committee of the situation which arose in connection with the coal subvention.
§ 10.17 p.m.
§ Mr. OSWALD LEWIS
I regret that the Minister has not seen his way to put a definite figure in the Bill, but having regard to the explanation he has given us I hope that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough
§ (Captain Crookshank) will not press his Amendment. Although I do not agree with the complete argument put forward by the Minister he has shown that he is alive to the necessity for control and that there are, in fact, some limits to the expenditure.
I only rise because the Minister inadvertently heard a somewhat muttered interjection on my part in regard to this point. I think he suggested that if there were any limit put upon the sum mentioned in the Bill we should have all the dairy farmers in Britain up in arms to-morrow against the Board of Agriculture.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I very much regret that my hon. Friend has not fully appreciated my point. If there was any muttering, possibly it was on my part, but I said that if we voted a considerable sum and did not spend it, all the dairy industry would be against us, and that if we inserted a limitation the dairy industry would again be against us.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
On a point of Order. May I ask, Sir Dennis, if you propose to call the last Amendment. In page 2, line 24, at the end, to add:Provided that such payments, together with any payments made under Sections two and three of this Act, shall not in the aggregate exceed the sum of four million pounds.I do not wish an opportunity to debate it, but we should like to vote on it. This Amendment does seem impracticable; but the one at the bottom of the Paper we should like to divide upon.
§ The CHAIRMAN (Sir Dennis Herbert)
I took the trouble to make some inquiries beforehand, and it is not my intention at the moment to select that Amendment.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 45; Noes, 207.1837
|Division No. 285.]||AYES.||[10.19 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Kirkwood, David|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Lawson, John James|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Leonard, William|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grundy, Thomas W.||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick|
|Batey, Joseph||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Ztl'nd)||Lunn, William|
|Cape, Thomas||Harris, Sir Percy||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Holdsworth, Herbert||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Janner, Barnett||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Jenkins, Sir William||Milner, Major James|
|Edwards, Charles||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merloneth)||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Tinker, John Joseph||Williams, Thomas (York., Don Valley)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|White, Henry Graham||Wilmot, John||Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
|Williams, David (Swansea, East)||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Gledhill, Gilbert||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Alexander, Sir William||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Goff, Sir Park||Peake, Captain Osbert|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Goldie, Noel B.||Pearson, William G.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Apsley, Lord||Granville, Edgar||Petherick, M.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Grimston, R. V.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Hammersley, Samuel S.||Pybus, Sir Percy John|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Hanbury, Cecil||Radford, E. A.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Hanley, Dennis A.||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Bernays, Robert||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Blindell, James||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Borodale, Viscount||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Walter||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Rickards, George William|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Howard, Tom Forrest||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'ld., Hexham)||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Burghley, Lord||James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.||Salt, Edward W.|
|Burnett, John George||Jamieson, Douglas||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Scone, Lord|
|Campbell. Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Ker, J. Campbell||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Carver, Major William H.||Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Lewis, Oswald||Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine, C.)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Liddall, Walter S.||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Colville. Lieut.-Colonel J.||Llewellin, Major John J||Soper, Richard|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Copeland, Ida||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Spens, William Patrick|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Stones, James|
|Crossley, A. C.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Storey, Samuel|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||McKie, John Hamilton||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Templeton, William P.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Dickie, John P.||Martin, Thomas B.||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Tree, Ronald|
|Drewe, Cedric||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Drummond-Wolff, H. M. C.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Milne, Charles||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Edge, Sir William||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Edmondson, Major Sir James||Mitcheson, G. G.||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Moreing, Adrian C.||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Elliston, captain George Sampson||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Elmley, Viscount||Morrison, William Shephard||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Wragg, Herbert|
|Fraser, Captain Sir Ian||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Nunn, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Maior George Davies and Commander Southby.|
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ Mr. OSWALD LEWIS
I beg to move, in page 2, line 24, at the end, to add:Provided that if the total quantity of such milk produced during the twelve 1838 months ending the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-six, exceeds the total quantity of such milk produced during the twelve months ending the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-five, the amount per gallon paid to 1839 the board shall be proportionately reduced, so that the total sum paid in respect of such milk produced during the twelve months ending the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-six, shall not exceed the total sum paid in respect of such milk produced during the twelve months ending the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-five.The Minister, by refusing the Amendment moved by the Noble Lady the Member for West Perth (Duchess of Atholl), is insisting on getting these advances for two years; and, by resisting the Amendment moved by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank), and the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland), he has refused to put any definite figure in the Bill limiting the liability of the taxpayer with regard to these advances. I submit that these two circumstances, taken together, strengthen the case for this Amendment, the effect of which would be that, in the second year for which advances are to be provided, the amount actually found in the first year may not be exceeded.
It has already been pointed out, and, indeed, it was frankly stated in the Memorandum on the Financial Resolution, that an accurate forecast could not be given of the liability in the second year, and we were reminded this evening that the Minister himself, in the Debate on the Financial Resolution, said that he did not consider it necessary now to make a forecast of the second year's liability. It seems to me that in those circumstances a very strong case can be made out for some limit to this unknown liability in the second year, particularly because the whole policy as so far outlined by the Minister must have a tendency to increase the production of milk and that tendency, which, if it materialises, is likely to add to his difficulties in two years time, would be to some extent corrected if milk producers knew that during the second year they could not get a greater total sum than they do during the first year and, therefore, if there is an increased output the actual amount per gallon would be reduced.
There is a very good precedent for the principle involved in the Amendment in what has actually happened under the Wheat Act. The result of the operation of the Wheat Act for the period to 31st 1840 July, 1933, showed that because of this limiting provision the deficiency payment had to be reduced. In fact, instead of getting 4s. 6.86d. the wheat producers got a wheat deficiency of 4s. 5¼d. per cwt. It is clear that that must operate as an automatic check to the tendency under present conditions to increase the production of wheat. I would urge on the Minister the desirability of some similar check against an increase in the production of milk. There may be considerable practical difficulties in the actual wording of the Amendment. I should be satisfied, if he cannot accept this exact limitation, if he will endeavour to find some alternative automatic check to increased production which would produce a similar effect. The Minister by various things that he is doing, and the House by various things that it has agreed to, is tending to increase the trouble from which we suffer of there being too much milk available. By some such check as this that tendency might be automatically got over. There is the further advantage that there will be a definite limitation to the amount that the taxpayer will have to find during the second year.
§ 10.35 p.m.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Mr. Skelton)
My hon. Friend proposes, as a limitation to the production of milk, that the amount to be paid for in the second year shall be not more than the amount produced in the first year.
§ Mr. SKELTON
The Amendment is based upon the fear that the policy may greatly or substantially increase the amount of money, therefore, as my hon. Friend said, tending to increase the trouble. It was said in the earlier stages of the Bill that we do not anticipate, and I think for good reasons, that these proposals will increase the amount of milk. In the first place, they are not sufficiently financially attractive to do so. They will have only a stabilising and not a stimulating effect. The analogy which my hon. Friend draws with regard to wheat is not a true analogy, because the deficiency payment was of such a 1841 figure as seriously to detract farmers from growing wheat. We do not think that there is the same risk of increase as might have arisen under the Wheat Act. For physical reasons it is a much slower process to increase the milk supply than the wheat supply, and those reasons in combination make us feel that the risk which my hon. Friend fears is not a practical risk.
He asks that we should consider whether any provision can be made against the kind of increase which he fears. On behalf of my right hon. Friend, I would say that we will consider very carefully again whether the arguments which led us to believe that there will not be an increase in the next few years are sound, and if we have any reason to doubt the soundness of the arguments which lead us to believe that this provision will not result in an increase, we will consider whether any possible increase is likely to be of such a nature as to demand any such limitation as my hon. Friend suggests. I would say to him and to the Committee that it is not in any sense the language of the Amendment which causes us difficulty. It is the belief that, taking the whole circumstances of this particular case into account, the increase my hon. Friend fears will not take place, and for that reason I ask him not to press the Amendment further.
§ 10.39 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Has not the Under-Secretary flown in face of all the experience since 1925 in suggesting that any guaranteed reasonable price will not produce an increase in the article? Is he aware that between 1925 and 1932 the output of milk increased by no less than 300,000,000 gallons without any guarantees at all? It might be argued that farmers in the livestock producing areas transferred to dairy farming, and various other suggestions might be advanced, but at least one thing can be advanced with certainty, and that is, that dairy farming is constantly improving in efficiency. Improved breeding, improved pasture and so forth have increased the yield per cow year by year. That is a normal and natural way of improving the yield without increasing the number of cattle. Unless the Under-Secretary can satisfy the Mover of the Amendment that the Government have definite and specific information to guide them in their calcula- 1842 tions, we must agree that at the end of two years from now, assuming that the normal rate of improvement in yield continues, without any increase in the herd, there will be an increase in output.
I think the Government might well have accepted the Amendment, because in another part of the Measure there is some effort to increase the consumption of liquid milk. Unless some limitation is put upon the amount available for subsidy an extraordinary situation will be created at the end of two years. If the increased output does continue the law of diminishing returns would follow and during the 13th, 14th, 15th and up to the 24th month the dairy farmers would act upon the known results and output would have some relation to the known manufacturing sales and liquid demands. I think the Government ought to have accepted the Amendment, and we feel obliged to support it.
§ 10.42 p.m.
§ Sir F. ACLAND
I do not want to fight this Clause right through, but I want to (make a point which I think is a good one. On the assumption that the Committee want to accept the principle underlying the first three Clauses, the case for the acceptance of the present Amendment is that the subsidy is to be varied by two factors. One factor is the amount of milk, but the major one, surely, is the cheese prices. If in the second year the cheese prices happen to be a good deal lower than in the first year, it will be unfair to farmers to say, "We will only give you the same subsidy as in the first year. As a matter of fact, your need for a subsidy may have been very small in the first year because cheese prices may not have been so low, but in the second year the need for subsidy is very much increased owing to the collapse in the cheese prices." Therefore, I suggest that the Amendment strikes at the framework of the first three Clauses of the Bill.
§ 10.44 p.m.
§ Captain WATERHOUSE
When the Minister is reconsidering the matter, I hope he will bear in mind that this scheme varies in one very material way from the wheat scheme, in that the wheat scheme gives a subsidy for all wheat produced, while this only gives a subsidy to one particular category of milk, and one 1843 which is so unprofitable to the farmer that there is no incentive to increase the production at the price. Furthermore, I hope he will bear in mind that the Milk Board already have the power to restrict production.
§ 10.45 p.m.
§ Captain HEILGERS
I want to make this point in answer to the hon. Member for the Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams). It takes roughly three years before a cow can produce a calf, and I do not see why we should be anxious as to what is going to happen at the end of the second year.
§ Mr. OSWALD LEWIS
After the explanation of the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ 10.46 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Will the right hon.' Gentleman explain this point? The object of the Bill is to subsidise 180,000,000 gallons of manufactured milk. In the Bill there are proposals to increase the consumption of liquid milk during the two years when we are subsidising 180,000,000 gallons of manufactured milk. If the policy is a greater consumption of liquid milk, are we to understand that that demand will be supplied by an increased output, or will it be met by drawing upon the 180,000,000 gallons? If not, are we going to increase the output of milk? I realise the point made by the hon. and gallant Member that it takes some time to increase our herds; we all know that. I think the right hon. Gentleman should tell us what are his expectations and desires in regard to the price of dairy produce, and how the 180,000,000 gallons of milk will be dealt with; whether he proposes to meet any increased demand for liquid milk by increased production.
§ 10.48 p.m.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I hope, in the first place, that an increased consumption of liquid milk will be drawn from the surplus of manufactured milk. That would be the desire of the Committee, including the 1844 hon. Member for the Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams), for various reasons one being that the more manufacturing milk we can divert into liquid consumption the less will be the burden on the remaining liquid milk and there will be thus an opportunity of the whole of liquid milk coming down in price. If that happens we shall have broken the vicious spiral we are in, the low price for manufacturing milk coming in upon the other end of the balance to which liquid milk is attached.
The greater the consumption of liquid milk, the less the levy for condensed milk, for chocolates and so on, and thus you get an economic price. If we can succeed in getting an increased consumption of milk then I think we can go ahead with increased production. I hope that the increased consumption will come out of the manufacturing surplus, the industry put on an economic basis, and then we can transfer the whole to milk production.
§ 10.50 p.m.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
This is the main Clause of the Bill. In regard to what the Minister of Agriculture has said, I understand that his objective is to get rid of manufactured milk in this country, that he wants to help the cheese industry and the ancillary industries which the hon. Gentleman told us the other night were so essential for the good of the countryside and should be maintained fully in their operation. I do not know where the Ministry of Agriculture stands on this. The hon. Gentleman says that the object of the Bill is to keep cheese and other industries alive. The right hon. Gentleman gets up and says, "We hope that the present supply of milk will all go to liquid consumption and that none will go to those industries."
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
The right hon. Gentleman said that he hopes that all this milk will be drawn in to liquid milk consumption, and when it is all drawn in we shall be in a position to go forward with increase of production. If the hon. Gentleman looks in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow he will find that that is exactly and precisely what the Minister said.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
The right hon. Gentleman says "No." One is not allowed 1845 to bet in this House, but if one were, I should not mind taking a wager that if he looks in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow he will find those words.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
Would the right hon. Gentleman correct it, then, and say what he means with regard to this?
§ Mr. ELLIOT
It is surely most undesirable that we should continue half-penny-chopping across the Floor of the House on this general question. I said that I hoped that an increase of consumption of liquid milk would take place, and that the increased consumption would, in the first place be drawn from the manufacturing milk in this country. I did not say that I hoped that the whole of this milk would be drawn in, because I do not think that that is economically possible, since there is a large surplus, a considerable portion of which would go into manufacture.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for correcting me, but I think he will find that that was not what he said. What I particularly noticed him to say was that when all this milk has come into the liquid milk market, then we shall be able to go forward with increasing production, and not until that point has been reached. Now the right hon. Gentleman is contemplating what is called the summer flush; that will go into manufacture, but there will not be any excess to go into manufacture during the winter months. Therefore the objective at which we are aiming under this proposal is to reduce the amount of milk that goes into manufacture, and so reduce the amount of the subsidy that is paid under this Clause.
We object under this Clause to the whole system of subsidising manufactured milk. We believe that if milk is to be subsidised at all it should be subsidised for the purpose of liquid milk consumption and that you would in that way the better remove the milk from the cheap market which, it is said at present, is tending to undermine the price of liquid milk. The other night the right hon. Gentleman said that we could not do that, because everybody would demand that the liquid milk that they obtained should be sold at the cheaper price. We do not accept that argument, and we believe 1846 that this is going about subsidising in the wrong way, if indeed subsidising is the right policy at all. Of course, it has this merit as against the wheat subsidy system, that in this case the subsidy falls upon the direct taxpayer and not upon the consumer, as it does in the wheat subsidy. We are grateful to that extent to the hon. Gentleman for seeing that the Income Tax and Super-tax payer will substantially provide this subsidy rather than the consumer of milk. We agree that he has discovered in that a much better principle than was incorporated in the Wheat Act.
This is an attempt to apply a system of re-distribution of national wealth by means of subsidy—by direct Government payment—which might be successful if it were operated in a Government-controlled industry, but which, operated in an industry still under private control, will lead the right hon. Gentleman into inevitable difficulties. At the end of the two years he will be forced either to go on with the subsidy or to take some other method of giving a profit to the producer. He may, of course, contemplate handing over the baby to another Government which will arise in about two years' time. Perhaps that is why he has fixed 24 months as the period for the subsidy. Perhaps he does not expect to have to face the House with regard to the next one. But it looks more like as if he were contemplating taxing Dominion imports at the end of the 24 months. No doubt that is really his policy, so that at the end of 24 months, when he has a free hand again, with the taxation of Dominion imports, he will then make the consumer pay by increasing the price of dairy produce, by creating scarcity, by keeping out Dominion produce and, in that way, attempt to get out of his subsidy. As far as we can see, he has no definite plan, unless it be that, and that seems to us an unsatisfactory solution of the problem of milk production. We believe that when all this money has been paid away in subsidy the milk industry will not be in any substantially better position than it is in at the present moment.
§ Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 213; Noes, 47.1849
|Division No. 286.]||AYES.||[10.58 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Fremantle, Sir Francis||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Fuller, Captain A. G.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.|
|Albery, Irving James||Ganzonl, Sir John||Palmar, Francis Noel|
|Allen, Lt.-Col, J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Pearson, William G.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Gledhill, Gilbert||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Apsley, Lord||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Petherick, M.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Goff, Sir Park||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Blist'n)|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Goldle, Noel B.||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Granville, Edgar||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Grimston, R. V.||Pybus, Sir Percy John|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Radford, E. A.|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Bernays, Robert||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)||Hammersley, Samuel S.||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Blindell, James||Hanbury, Cecil||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Borodale, Viscount||Hanley, Dennis A.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Rickards, George William|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Bracken, Brendan||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Walter||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Brown, Brig,-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Howard, Tom Forrest||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Salt, Edward W.|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Burghley, Lord||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Burnett, John George||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Scone, Lord|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Jamieson, Douglas||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Carver, Major William H.||Ker, J. Campbell||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine, C.)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Soper, Richard|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Liddall, Walter S.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Spens, William Patrick|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Copeland, Ida||Llewellin, Major John J.||Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Stones, James|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Storey, Samuel|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Galnsb'ro)||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Crossley, A. C.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Cruddas, Lieut-Colonel Bernard||McCorquodale, M. S.||Templeton, William P.|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Thompson. Sir Luke|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||McKie, John Hamilton||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Tree, Ronald|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Dickie, John P.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Drewe, Cedric||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Drummond-Wolff, H. M. C.||Mayhew, Lieut,-Colonel John||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Duncan. James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Edge, Sir William||Milne, Charles||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Edmondson, Major Sir James||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Mitcheson, G. G.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Moreing, Adrian C.||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut-Colonel George|
|Elmley, Viscount||Morrison, William Shepherd||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Wragg, Herbert|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'oaks)|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Nunn, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Fraser, Captain Sir Ian||O'Donovan, Dt. William James||Captain Austin Hudson and Commander Southby.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke||Cripps, Sir Stafford||Grundy, Thomas W.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Edwarde, Charles||Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Harris, Sir Percy|
|Batey, Joseph||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Holdsworth, Herbert|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Janner, Barnett|
|Cape, Thomas||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Jenkins, Sir William|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Mainwaring, William Henry||White, Henry Graham|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Kirkwood, David||Milner, Major James||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Lawson, John James||Pickering, Ernest H.||Wilmot, John|
|Leonard, William||Rea, Walter Russell||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzle (Banff)|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Lunn, William||Rothschild, James A. de||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)||Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Tinker, John Joseph|