§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Mr. BATEY
I beg to move, in page 1, line 7, after "manufactured," to insert "under State ownership and control."
My task in moving the Amendment has been made much easier after the Debate and the Division which have just taken place. The House has just decided on a vote to give £9,500,000 to the shipping industry, and last night it voted £1,500,000 to India, £11,000,000 voted in two nights. Under the new industry to be set up in regard to the extraction of oil from coal, £11,000,000, if used under State ownership and control, would bring new life to the coal industry. We do not agree with the Government in encouraging this new industry to be exploited by private enterprise. We want the new industry to be owned and controlled by the State. It is an industry with big possibilities, and we believe that if the State owned and controlled it it would prove to be a real remedy for the position of the coal industry at the present time. I have three main reasons for moving the Amendment in favour of State ownership and control: (1) that the Government are allowing this new industry to be exploited by private enterprise, (2) that it is being divorced from the coal industry, and (3) that this action will not prove a cure for unemployment in the mining industry. On the 17th July last the Prime Minister made a statement in the House which raised exceedingly high hopes in the country of a cure for unemployment in the mining industry. May I remind the Committee of the words he used?This particular plant which we have in mind will be capable of producing … 30,000,000 gallons a year, and will consume 350,000 tons of coal a year, giving employment to over 1,000 miners, in addition to the employment in connection with the plant."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th July, 1933; col. 1533, Vol. 280.]That statement raised high hopes that this new big industry would come to the relief of unemployment in the mining industry. High hopes were raised in the distressed mining areas where huge num- 1912 bers of miners were unemployed. They believed that they saw in the words of the Prime Minister some immediate solution for unemployment in their industry. Imperial Chemical Industries are erecting the plant, but it will not be completed until July, 1935. From July, 1933, when the high hopes were raised, until July, 1935, is a long time for the unemployed miners to wait. When we are looking forward to July, 1935, it seems a long way off even from to-day. If the unemployed miners have to rely on what was promised last July they will have to wait a considerable time before there will be any help for them.
We urge State ownership and control of the new industry because we want it to be properly developed. If we are to wait for more than another year before anything arises in that new industry it means that we shall have too long to wait. If the State would take the new industry in hand it could be developed far more quickly. For some time it has been proved that the extraction of oil from coal, either under the low temperature carbonisation process or under the hydrogenation system, is a commercial proposition. Seeing that it is a commercial proposition we hold that it ought to be developed with a view to helping unemployment as rapidly as possible. We press for State ownership and control because we believe that this new process is going to be captured by private enterprise and become a monopoly, and we oppose monopolies. When there is a danger of a monopoly in this country we believe that it is far wiser and safer to have the undertaking under State ownership and control rather than have the monopoly in private hands.
The new industry will be a monopoly because the cost of the plant is so heavy that scarcely any other company will be able to find the money to put down the plant. Imperial Chemical Industries are putting down a plant which will cost £2,500,000. There are very few companies, if any—certainly they are very rare—that could afford to put down a plant costing £2,500,000. One of the troubles in the coal industry to-day is that so many colliery companies are extremely poor and cannot afford any large expenditure upon the extension of their present plant or in connection with any new industry. Therefore, Imperial 1913 Chemical Industries will have a monopoly, because no other company, as far as I can see, will be able to spend so much money upon plant for extracting oil from coal under the hydrogenation system.
Imperial Chemical Industries will have an advantage over any other competing industries, even if there were any other competing industries that could find the money for the plant, in the fact that they have the patent rights for the royalties. When the Labour Government were in Office and there was a Labour Minister of Mines I put a question to him, because I had seen a report in the Press about the International Hydrogenation Patents Company. This is what the Minister said in regard to the International Hydrogenation Patents Company:The company has not been registered in this country but has its headquarters on the continent and as is to be expected in a company of this kind its directorate is international. Imperial Chemical Industries, Limited, have a particular interest in the patents rights in this country.Therefore, it seems that Imperial Chemical Industries in beginning the new undertaking under the hydrogenation system have an interest in the patent royalty rights, and we ought to know what amount of royalties they will pay to the International Hydrogenation Patents Company. If the new industry was State owned and State controlled there would be no concealment regarding the royalties paid. So far we have been unable to find the royalties to be paid by this company to the international company. The House is entitled to the information; it should be known, so that any company which desired to commence this process would know the amount of royalty they would have to pay. I hope the Secretary for Mines will be prepared to tell us the amount of royalty which Imperial Chemical Industries will have to pay to the international company.
I further submit that under State ownership and control this new industry would not be started independent of the coal industry. When the Government made their first announcement the impression was that this new industry would help the mining industry. A much better way would have been for the State to take over the ownership and control so that it would not be run independently of the coal industry. Imperial Chemical 1914 Industries is away from the coal mines. We want this new plant at the collieries. If it was started in connection with our coal mines the revenue derived from coal would help to build up miner's wages. That has always been our hope, but under this Bill that hope is being destroyed. The extraction of oil from coal under the hydrogenation process is being commenced away from our collieries, and once that is the case there is no hope for the mining population. Also, if this new industry was State owned and controlled the State would pay a fair price for the coal. We know that a company like Imperial Chemical Industries will want cheap coal. As a matter of fact, it has been stated in the Press that their hope is that they will be able to get coal at a cheap price. Cheap coal means low wages to the miners. We object to coal being supplied to any industry at a price which means low wages for our people. There is no hope for the miners under this Bill unless the House agrees that this new industry should be State owned and controlled, neither is there any hope for better wages; and there is very little hope from an employment point of view.
We are told that Imperial Chemical Industries will be able to produce 30,000,000 gallons of oil per year, which will take 350,000 tons of coal, and give employment for 1,000 miners. With nearly 400,000 miners out of employment 1,000 miners is a mere fleabite. We want a development on a far larger scale, and we believe it could have been done, and would have been done, if the Government had taken over the control of this new undertaking. To-day the estimate is that this company will use 350,000 tons of coal and give employment to 1,000 miners, but it may be that before the plant is finally erected developments in the use of machinery may mean that they will not need 350,000 tons of coal or employ 1,000 miners. That has been our experience in the iron and steel trade, in gas undertakings and in electricity undertakings. Because these undertakings are privately owned we have been dragged at their heels; and our pople have suffered. This could be avoided if the new industry is owned and controlled by the State.
In the iron and steel trade the coal consumed in 1920 was 30,500,000 tons, but in 1932 it was only 12,000,000 tons. The same experience occurs in gas under- 1915 takings. The amount of gas sold between 1920 and 1932 increased by no less than 54,000,000 cubic feet, whilst the amount of coal consumed by gas undertakings decreased in the same period by 500,000 tons. It is the same in the case of electricity undertakings. Since 1921 the output of electricity has increased by over 165 per cent., while the quantity of coal used in generating electricity has increased by only 37 per cent. We cannot afford, with the huge number of miners at present unemployed, to continue to rest upon private enterprise. We are bound to plead for State ownership and control. We believe that the only cure for unemployment in the coal industry is State ownership and control, and that it is also the only cure for low wages. When we have such an opporunity as this, the commencement of a new industry which may develop into an enormously big industry, I urge the House not to allow it to go into private hands but to take their courage in both hands and insist upon this undertaking being owned and controlled by the State. In an evening paper to-day I read a speech of the Prime Minister at the Crystal Palace in which he said:Every step the Government are taking has been a safe step in the whole scheme of progressive evolution.I do not know whether the Secretary for Mines is prepared to say that the handing over of this new undertaking to private enterprise is a progressive evolution or not. I would not call it progressive evolution. In my opinion it is a step backwards. Experience ought to have taught us that in a new industry like this, so big with possibilities, an industry that could be so much to the mining industry, the only guarantee for the mining industry is for the new industry to he owned and controlled by the State.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Mr. T. SMITH
I beg to second the Amendment.
Whatever the opinion the House may have on this matter of public ownership versus private ownership, we can all agree that the mining industry is in need of some outlet for its coal. The output for 1933 was between 75,000,000 and 80,000,000 tons less than in pre-war days. I hope that no one will try to 1916 prove that this Bill is likely to restore prosperity to the mining industry. The Bill gives for a number of years a preference of not less than 4d. a gallon—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain Bourne)
The hon. Member is now dealing with a subject that could more appropriately be discussed on the Third Reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. SMITH
With all respect I intended to link up my arguments straight away with the Amendment. A preference is given of not less than 4d. a gallon for the specific purpose of encouraging the production of oil from coal, and the difference between us is as to how best to exploit the new industry. It has been argued that the preference will encourage the production of coal to the extent of many millions of tons a year. I think that that estimate is exaggerated, and that the most we can expect is to increase the production of coal by 2,000,000 to 3,000,000 tons a year when this industry is fully developed. We are not discussing the relative merits of public ownership as against private ownership in the wide sense. We are discussing an Amendment which says that the production of this oil ought to be publicly owned instead of privately owned. This preference is given not merely to the hydrogenation process; it is given to the production of any light hydrocarbon oil, whether from coal, shale, or peat or from the derivatives. That being so, we think that the process could be exploited better under public ownership than under private ownership. When this matter was discussed in Committee we were told that our proposal was not acceptable for certain very definite reasons. One of the arguments used against public ownership is that private ownership is prepared to take risks that public ownership would not permit. Having some knowledge of the progress of certain processes which this Bill is designed to encourage, I am entitled to say that it would have been a good thing for many investors in this country if there had been less risk taken and more thought given before people were asked to subscribe their money.
I am one of those who agree that there is a future for the extraction of oil from coal. I think that if the matter is 1917 properly tackled we can increase the output of raw coal for this purpose by many tons, but I am in doubt as to whether private ownership can do it. If you are to have the hydrogenation process, low temperature carbonisation, shale, peat and many other processes all left to their resources to make the best of their own concerns without taking into account the national requirements, we are likely to have the same competitive muddle as we have had in the mining industry and other industries.
On the Second Reading of the Bill the Secretary for Mines quoted two resolutions passed by the Miners' Federation of Great Britain. Those resolutions were quoted in order to show that the Miners' Federation was speaking with two voices. The Secretary for Mines quoted one which stated that while welcoming the decision the federation urged public ownership. The second was that the Miners Federation viewed with concern the decreased production of coal and welcomed anything that would encourage the production of more coal. I hope the Secretary for Mines will not misunderstand the attitude of the Miners' Federation. The miners are deeply concerned with this and other matters, because they see the deplorable state of the industry; but since the Second Reading of this Bill the federattion has issued a statement which has received a good deal of publicity. It is called "A Plea for a National Fuel Policy," and in that very excellent booklet, while dealing with certain phases of losses of coal output, the federation urges that what is necessary in this country is some national planned fuel policy dealing not merely with the extraction of oil from coal, but also with the question of pulverisation and things of that sort, which this Amendment will not permit me to discuss.
Therefore we say that the difference between us is as to how best to exploit the position. The Secretary for Mines stated that the story of the production of oil from coal read like a romance. I think there is a future for it, but that you must have some national plan and not higgledy-piggledy production. There must be foresight and control. It is because we believe that that can be ensured better under public ownership than 1918 under this Bill that we bring forward this Amendment.
§ 9.3 p.m.
§ Sir WILLIAM WAYLAND
The question is private ownership versus public ownership. Can either of the two hon. Members who have spoken point to any industry that has been handled by the State and has been a great success?
§ Sir W. WAYLAND
The Post Office. Sitting opposite there is the most up-to-date Postmaster-General. In spite of that, we know perfectly well that if we want to develop an industry we have to leave it in private hands. What can the State do in this respect? There are already one or two patents, or three or four, in connection with low temperature carbonisation of coal and hydrogenation. There will be 20 patents yet, for this thing is only in its infancy. Is the State going to take the risk? What would the state do? It would start an installation, and that installation in 10 years' time would be just as advanced as it is to-day. Take the case of competitive companies. You are bound to have competitive companies. What is the result? There is striving to get the most perfect process possible. In that striving they are going to develop the industry to a far greater extent than the State would or could do. Therefore, considering the importance of this industry I think it would be fatal for the Government to undertake ownership and control. The Mover of the Amendment mentioned that there are about 400,000 miners unemployed. Unfortunately we know that many of those men will never be employed again in that industry. We are getting beyond the stage of coal being the only means of obtaining energy and the longer we live the less coal we shall see used. The production of other substances from which energy can be obtained is at present only in its infancy. We want to try to use as much coal as we can—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member seems to be getting rather far from the Amendment. I understood the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) to argue that if this industry were under State control more miners would get back into work, but I did not understand him to go into the general troubles of the coal industry.
§ Sir W. WAYLAND
I accept your correction, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I say, in conclusion, that I am confident, if this new industry is left to private competition and development, firstly that it will not cost anything like what the hon. Member has suggested as regards installation, and secondly, that it will progress far in advance of anything that the State could achieve.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. TINKER
The hon. Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland) asked the pertinent question, could we point to any State undertaking which had succeeded. But we are in the age of private enterprise. The question which he ought to ask is, "Has private enterprise succeeded?" If he asks that question I refer him to the discussion here earlier this evening which showed that the shipping industry, having failed under private enterprise, has had to come to the State for millions of money to enable them to carry on. The hon. Member asks us has public ownership succeeded or not. What we are asking for is a trial. In the whole history of these islands public control and state ownership have never had an opportunity. We are now considering the starting of a new industry. We on this side believe that the time has come when oil must be produced from coal. We believe that we should no longer tolerate the sending in of oil from overseas to this country to deprive our people of their work.
Recognising the facts we agree with the extraction of oil from coal. There is common agreement so far. Then comes the dividing line. This Government, composed largely of those who are termed National representatives, but who to our minds are Conservatives, feel themselves called upon to bolster up private enterprise. They say that this new industry must be put under private control and that all the advantages must be given over to private enterprise. But if private enterprise sets up large plant under the direction of the State and at the end of five or 10 years finds that it cannot succeed, then it will be in a position to come here and say: "We took State protection, believing that this process would be a success; it has not been a success; we have built up large plant believing that the State was behind us, and we have shareholders with money invested in it." The old cry will be 1920 heard about the widow's mite and about the people who have small sums invested and there will be the usual appeal to the Labour benches and we shall be asked not to throw those people on the scrap heap. If I were then a Member of this House I should feel bound to say, "Yes; you were given that power by the State and the State cannot now leave you in the lurch."
We want this new industry to be placed under State control at the very start so as to avoid that possibility. Personally, I think it will be a success and I want the benefit of that success to come to the State. I do not want private enterprise to have two chances—first the chance of succeeding with the backing of the State and getting away with the whole of the profits, and second, the chance of putting all the responsibility on the State in the event of failure. I want the State to have all the advantage instead of being called upon later to hand out money to private individuals who have set up plant under State protection. The House would be well advised, on those grounds, to decide that the State is to take full control at the outset. All the evidence points that way. We find industry after industry reaching a position in which it cannot survive and it would be unwise at this stage to hand over a new industry like this to private ownership. I hope we shall be able to persuade a sufficient number of Members to back us in this matter of ensuring that the benefit of this new industry shall go to the State and to the coal industry, and that it shall not be used merely for the profit of private enterprise.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ Mr. ROBINSON
I have listened with great interest to the three speeches in support of the Amendment. I can agree with them only in one particular—that the proposition to produce oil from coal is a good one. I disagree with them entirely in the suggestion that it should be run by the State. I do not agree with nationalisation and that is what their proposal means. They say they want a trial for public ownership. I say that this new industry is too precious a heritage to be entrusted to their hands. The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) objected to the present proposal because he said it created a monopoly. But there is no monopoly. We have more than one company in the field already. Imperial Chemi- 1921 cal Industries, Limited, are building one big plant but the Low Temperature Carbonisation Company has announced that it is going to put two more new plants. Surely that is not monopoly. The only complaint which the hon. Member can have is against the Patents Act which says that if a scientist makes an invention he has, on taking out the necessary patent, the right of exploitation of that particular invention for a certain period of time. Surely, that is another matter entirely.
The hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith) did not agree with the Mover of the Amendment. His complaint was not that there is monopoly, but that we were going to have the scandalous competition of private enterprise, with one firm fighting against another. Surely, monopoly would come only if the concern was handed over to State ownership. It may be that this industry will want cheap coal but there is in operation the Coal Mines Act which regulates the price of coal and this new industry could hardly get behind that whatever it does. Hon. Members apparently want to take the factory away from Billingham and put it by the side of the coal mines, and run the two industries together. That proposal inevitably involves the nationalisation of the mines as well as of the new industry. The hon. Member objected to the proposal because he said it was in the hands of Imperial Chemical Industries, Limited, or private enterprise hands, which would mean low wages. I entirely disagree. If the hon. Member will carry his mind back over the space of a year, he will realise that the very firm which is taking the lead in this new enterprise was the first big concern in the whole of this country to give a lead and increase the wages of its workpeople. When an industry is put in such hands, I believe this House can look forward to its successful pursuit.
§ 9.16 p.m.
§ Mr. D. G. SOMERVILLE
I am certain the House will not consider the Amendment, because as an Amendment it has no standing whatever. If the Amendment were accepted, there would be State ownership in this industry. One hon. Member said that the Opposition wanted an opportunity of seeing what State ownership could do in this country. Unfortunately, during the War we had many such opportunities, with the result 1922 that to-day we are paying enormous taxes. Many industries were nearly bankrupted and many others were reduced to penury owing to State ownership and direction in the War. I have, however, the strongest possible objection to this proposal from the Government benches. They are trying an entirely experimental thing, a process which has been operated in Germany at great expense to Germany, subsidised by the German Government—
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
I accept your Ruling, of course, in view of which I cannot pursue the subject, but I would ask all hon. Members to vote against the Amendment, as I am certain that it would not help industry and that it would not help this new enterprise which is proposed to be started.
§ 9.18 p.m.
§ Mr. CHARLES BROWN
I had no intention of intervening until the speeches of the hon. Members behind me. I am certain that the defenders of private enterprise find themselves in extraordinarily great difficulties in these days. The proposal before us is a suggestion that there shall be State ownership and control of a new industry which many people expect to develop out of this hydrogenation process. Hon. Members behind me have obviously forgotten that this new industry cannot even be started without State assistance. The very basis of the proposal now before the House is the giving of a preference on oil produced from coal, and there you bring in at once, in regard to what you hope will be a major capitalist enterprise, State assistance.
§ Mr. BROWN
That may very well be, but all defenders of private enterprise in the House are coming along day after day requiring State assistance for private enterprises that are breaking down. We have already had a long discussion to-day about two great shipping companies that have been fighting each other to their mutual destruction, and now they have to combine in order to survive. To combine, they have to have the assistance of the State, and for the life of me I cannot understand how the defenders 1923 of private enterprise can get up in their places when such a proposal is before us and talk in the way they have done about private enterprise. On every side now we are having to call in the assistance of the State where private enterprise all about us is breaking down completely, but there is a special reason in regard to this process why we should have State enterprise and control.
I have said before that I do not entirely agree with those who think that out of this you will get a considerable volume of employment for the coal industry, especially at an early date, although you may do in the distant future. I do not believe the Government are backing this process because they anticipate that they will largely increase the volume of employment in the coal industry. I think they are backing this process for an entirely different reason: they want in certain circumstances to have a home supply of oil. They want a supply of oil produced in this country in certain eventualities, and those eventualities are possible war in the future. I want to say most emphatically that that being, in the opinion of some of us, the main motive prompting this proposal, it is not right that it should be left in the hands of a private undertaking. It is essential, if we are to have real control of the thing, that there should be State ownership and control of it.
Let us remember that Imperial Chemical Industries, Limited, is an international organisation, and I think everybody will agree that as you attempt to commercialise this process, you inevitably make fresh discoveries. That is how discoveries are made and how improvements in industrial undertakings come about. Practical men at work in this plant which is going to be put up, through their practical, every-day experience, will inevitably make new discoveries, which, under the proposals now before the House, will be the property of an international organisation like Imperial Chemical Industries, and they may be of vital importance in the future. Whatever may be the position of those of us on these benches, hon. Members opposite always tell us that they are prepared to do anything in the interests of the defence of this country, and I suggest to them that if they will give consideration of this kind to the Amendment, many of them ought to 1924 follow us into the Division Lobby on the Amendment.
§ 9.23 p.m.
§ The SECRETARY for MINES (Mr. Ernest Brown)
The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) will not expect me to accept the Amendment, nor to be drawn into a discussion in the very wide field as between public ownersihip on the one hand and private enterprise on the other. That field is much too wide. We might talk for weeks and never meet. He will not tempt me either to he drawn into a discussion in the terms in which he stated it. He knows very well from our discussions upstairs that he always states this problem as if it were merely a question of one company and one particular process. We are not asked to do what he suggests. The Amendment suggests that we should insert, "under State ownership and control." The practical effect of the Amendment would be to limit the preference accorded under the Bill to motor spirit manufactured under State ownership or control, not merely in terms of one process, namely, hydrogenation, but any process from coal, shale, peat, or products thereof. The Amendment asks, not for the nationalisation of some particular monopoly or some particular process, but for the nationalisation of all kinds of undertakings to which the manufacture of motor spirit is only ancillary.
Take, for instance, benzol. This Amendment would refuse the preference to all the gas companies who scrub their gas and produce benzol by that process. The House will see that we could not possibly accept any such Amendment as a practical proposition. The fact is that hon. Members opposite are, in the jargon of the Army, "going through the motions." They are putting up their plea in general terms that, if only they had the power, or this House would take the power, to put the whole of these processes under national control, we should achieve some more rapid and better result, not only for the country but also for the coal industry, than would be achieved by the proposals of the Government in the Bill. We join issue there with hon. Members on the other side; we do not agree with that proposition.
More than that, in the one publicly-recorded report of the discussions of the 1925 Labour party on this subject with regard to the process of hydrogenation, namely the speech of Mr. Thomas Johnston, delivered at Bannockburn, which has been quoted in this House during a previous discussion, the meeting was not then discussing public ownership at all. Bannockburn is a name of great historical interest, and perhaps an appropriate place for Mr. Johnston to make that speech; because, if this Amendment were carried, it would undoubtedly be the Bannockbum of any proposal to get oil from coal by hydrogenation, by low temperature carbonisation, or by any other process. The fact is that they were not discussing the question of public ownership; they were discussing the formation of a public utility company in conjunction with the Imperial Chemical Industries. That might have had some relation to reality; this has no relation whatever to reality. The nation has no right in the patents. The nation has taken no risk in any of these processes at all; the risks have been taken by private enterprise.
I should have thought that, even from their theoretical point of view, the last type of undertaking that the Labour party would wish to see nationalised in an experimental stage would be an undertaking of this kind, where so much depends on research, on the particular kind of individuals who handle the process, and where—as all those concerned understand—we are making the experiment, whether in one process or the other, with a determination to see whether or not we can attain on a commercial basis what we all want. That which hon. Members in all parts of the House agree that we want is the maximum amount of oil which can be obtained from a national source. When the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) puts forward these pleas and hopes, he is merely "going through the motions." He and his friends have said, both inside and outside the House, that if only he and they had his and their way, it would be best for the development of the process and for the fulfilment of some of the high hopes which he and they have put forward.
I must remind the House that these hopes have not been raised from this Box or by the Government. We, including the Prime Minister, have said from the be- 1926 ginning and right through the whole of the discussions, that we regard this preference as necessary for the full development of this process. It is a vital thing for the country to see that this new process of hydrogenation is tried out. If it is successful, as we believe it will be, it will be potentially one of the biggest things that have been done in the history of this land. I have no doubt whatever that, if this Amendment were a matter of practical policy, the process would fail. I have equally no doubt that, if it were admitted as a practical policy by the Government of the day, no success would have been achieved and no spokesman would have been standing at this Box in support of this or any other process to-day. I ask the House to reject the Amendment.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Mr. GORDON MACDONALD
No hon. Member on this side has ever asked or expected the Government to accept this Amendment. We certainly did not. Those of us who considered this Bill upstairs realised that the Government would not accept this or any other Amendment. We found that this Bill is the result of agreement with bodies outside this House, and that all we are asked to do in this House is to ratify pledges given outside. The Minister is not in a position to accept any Amendment anywhere. Our explanation is very simple. We want this new industry to be an orderly industry, and under this proposal it will be nothing of the kind. Oil will be produced from coal, shale and peat, here, there and anywhere. There will be no control, no orderliness. In our opinion that is not the way in which to encourage a new industry. The statement was made that the Government were not concerned with that matter. I am somewhat surprised that the Minister should argue that he is not concerned about that, and that all the Government are concerned about is that oil should be got from coal. We are concerned about that, but we know that if the process is to be allowed to go along in this higgledy-piggledy way, it will ultimately not be an advantage to the nation or to the mining industry.
We have always been told that the production of oil from coal will be a great thing for the mining industry. The miners believe that; they think that this is going to be the salvation of the mining 1927 industry and a boon to the miners themselves. We know, however, that before it can benefit the mining industry it must be under State control. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, when winding up the Debate on the previous Bill, said that the relation between Government control and industry was a question which must be seriously considered in the near future. Here is a very fine opportunity of doing that. Here is a new industry; not an old one. Shipping was discussed as an old industry which had failed under private enterprise and for the continuance of which State assistance was essential. This is a new industry, and we say that, before giving it the chance to fail, as many industries have failed in private enterprise, we should see that it starts off under public control.
I noticed, in reading some of the pre-war Debates, that the present Prime Minister was then dealing with a similar question. The money business before the House dealt with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. I am not quite sure that the Minister of Mines has discussed this question with the Prime Minister. This is what he said:I think the Government will be very well advised to keep its eye upon this process, not merely for the purpose of stimulating them by buying some of the product, but for the purpose of actually acquiring possession of substantial coalfields, erecting the necessary plant for the production of fuel and for the production of oil fuel, and the laying of the necessary pipe line to bring the oil to the various depots where storage takes place, and also, I think, in the interests of the country, the Government will be well advised in this way to enter the competitive market with the monopolists for the by-products like petrol and so on, in order to protect
|Division No. 147.]||AYES.||[9.36 p.m.|
|Banfield, John William||Groves, Thomas E.||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Batey, Joseph||Jenkins, Sir William||Price, Gabriel|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith. Tom (Normanton)|
|Buchanan, George||Kirkwood, David||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Daggar, George||Lawson, John James||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Leonard, William||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Dobbie, William||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Edwards, Charles||Lunn, William|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Mr. John and Mr. D. Graham.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke||Aske, Sir Robert William||Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Blindell, James|
|Albery, Irving James||Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Balniel, Lord||Boyce, H. Leslie|
§ the consumer against the further operations of these gentlemen, from whom we have experienced so much bitterness and loss during the last five or six years."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th June, 1914; col. 1167, Vol. 63.]
§ I hope that the Prime Minister still holds some of the opinions which he used to hold in days gone by. If he does, he could not possibly support the Minister of Mines in this proposal.
§ I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. C. Brown) is right. One of the ultimate purposes of this proposal is to make it possible, if it should be needed, to produce oil in this country; as he suggested the main purpose being in case of war between this country and some other country. If that should be one of the ultimate purposes, surely he must agree that this is the strongest possible argument for this concern to be under public ownership and public control. Why should the country have to be dependent on private enterprise? The hon. Member for East Willesden (Mr. D. G. Somerville) referred to the experiences of the War. He must have forgotten that the only reason why private enterprises were taken over here, there and everywhere in this country during the War was that it was essential for the welfare of the country. Public ownership saved this country during the years 1914–18, and, in our opinion, public ownership, and nothing else, will save this country from its present chaotic condition. I therefore ask the Minister to reconsider his decision on this question.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 29; Noes, 162.
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Robinson, John Roland|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Hornby, Frank||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Burnett, John George||Horobin, Ian M.||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Ca[...]orn, Arthur Cecil||Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Carver, Major William H.||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Christie, James Archibald||Law, Sir Alfred||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Leckie, J. A.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Cooke, Douglas||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Copeland, Ida||Levy, Thomas||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Liddall, Walter S.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Crossley, A. C.||Loftus, Pierce C.||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||MacAndrew, Lt.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Denville, Alfrad||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Spens, William Patrick|
|Dickie, John P.||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Stones, James|
|Drewe, Cedric||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Storey, Samuel|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Magnay, Thomas||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Dunglass, Lord||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Edge, Sir William||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Margesson, Capt Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Tree, Ronald|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Mills, Sir Frederick (Layton, E.)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Gledhill, Gilbert||Munro, Patrick||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Nall, Sir Joseph||White, Henry Graham|
|Goff, Sir Park||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||Nunn, William||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Grimston, R. V.||O'Connor, Terence James||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Palmer, Francis Noel||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Pearson, William G.||Womersley, Walter James|
|Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Z'tl'nd)||Petherick, M.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Hammersley, Samuel S.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Harbord, Arthur||Radford, E. A.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'oaks)|
|Hartland, George A.||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Rea, Walter Russell||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Commander Southby and Dr.|