HC Deb 13 March 1934 vol 287 cc204-71

3.46 p.m.


The first Amendment that I select is that which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. E. Williams)—in page 1, line 17, to leave out "one halfpenny," and to insert "three farthings."


On a point of Order. We were hoping that you would call the Amendment which stands in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson)—in page 1, line 16, to leave out "thirty-two," and to insert "thirty-four." It may be that your reason for not selecting that Amendment is that there was a Debate on the subject in the Committee, but, if that be so, may I call your attention to the fact that very largely that was not a Debate on the Amendment? What happened was that we found ourselves in what we thought was a legal difficulty, and the rest of the morning was spent in discussing that legal difficulty. I was wondering whether, in view of that fact, and of the comparatively short time that was spent on the Amendment in Committee, you could see your way to reconsider your decision and call the Amendment now.


If the hon. Member is asking me why I did not call the Amendment to which he refers, I have come to the conclusion, after some years' experience, that, as power has been given to me to select Amendments without giving reasons, that is the safest plan to pursue. I may say that all Amendments are considered very carefully by myself before I come to a decision, and one of my objects is to give effect, as nearly as I can, to the wishes of the different parties who are concerned with the Amendments on the Paper. Mr. Edward Williams.


Would you allow me to say another word or two on the point of Order? We were relying on the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson) being called, because it raises a question which in our view is very important. We are charging the Government with breaking the present Act of Parliament, and we thought that we were going to have an opportunity to-day of dealing with that matter. By not calling upon that Amendment, you prevent us from raising that point, which is most important to us. It deals with the present Act of Parliament.


The hon. Member must not make a speech on the Amendment which I have not selected. I have already called upon the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. E. Williams). I have taken all those matters into consideration in coming to a conclusion, and I am afraid I cannot alter my mind. Mr. Edward Williams.


On a point of Order. Last week, on the British Hydrocarbon Oils Bill, when it was considered in the House, we were limited to two Amendments, and to-day again we are limited to two Amendments. Surely that is not going to become the practice? The fact that the Lord President of the Council wants to get his Bills through is no reason why we should be deprived of the right of Debate on the Report stage. We feel justified in asking that you should reconsider your decision in regard to these Amendments, and especially in regard to that of the hon. Member for Wigan and another Amendment further down on the Paper.


I have considered the question several times and have finally come to the decision that the first Amendment that I can take is that standing in the name of the hon. Member for Ogmore. I propose to take in conjunction with that the Amendment next but one on the Paper—in page 2, line 19, at the end, to insert: Provided that if at any time during the continuance in force of the principal Section as amended by this Act the Board of Trade are satisfied that the conditions in the industry are such as to justify an increase in the sum payable into the fund, they may by Order provide that, as from the date of the Order, the sum shall be equal to one penny a ton of the output of the mine, and this Sub-section shall have effect as amended by such Order. I think it would be for the convenience of the House that the two should be discussed as one and that we should have a Division on each, if so desired.

3.51 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 1, line 17, to leave out "one halfpenny" and to insert instead thereof "three farthings."

On the Second Reading the Minister advocated the claims of the Bill on the ground that a halfpenny is all that the industry can actually afford. I am sure the majority of Members present realise that this is one of the meanest of all the Bills that have ever come before the House. We have never been confronted with anything so meagre and so mean as taking from the industry the penny which has obtained for many years and inserting a halfpenny. We have pressed for the continuation of the levy at the present figure in order that our recreation schemes and social facilities may continue, but, failing to obtain that, we are moving this Amendment hoping that the Minister will agree to a compromise. Our case is so reasonable that we can hardly believe that he will refuse it.

During the last few months many Ministers speaking in the country have intimated that there is some restoration of trade and that a substantial number of unemployed persons have been re-absorbed in industry, and they have referred to some improvement in the mining industry. They cannot have it both ways. If there is any evidence of improvement in the mining industry, they ought to discard this recommendation of the Committee. We have to assume that relevant factors were taken into consideration when the Committee made their recommendations, and the one relevant factor was that the economics of the industry were such that they could hardly have continued the payment of the penny. If, however, the conditions of the industry have improved, the Government, in the light of their own assertions, ought to be prepared to accept this Amendment. The levy of a penny is an infinitesimal fraction of the cost of production, and I am amazed, on an analysis of the ascertainments, that we should have had this recommendation. In reading the speeches in the Committee upstairs one feels that no one is really comfortable and happy about the reduction, and that they really look upon it as one of the most mean and miserly things that the Government was doing.

South Wales is paying practically 8½d. per ton in royalties though, of course, that is substantially above the average of the British coalfields, but that 8½d. is not referred to at all. Nothing is being done to reduce the enormous tribute that the industry has to pay to people who are rendering no service whatever. In addition, the cost of the salaried staff has substantially increased as compared with pre-War days. Threepence a ton is paid in directors' fees, including managerial expenses. That is a substantial increase upon the pre-War figure. Further, while those figures tend to increase, the amount paid in rates is substantially reduced. Under the De-rating Act relief amounting practically to 3d. per ton has been received. To that extent the industry has been subsidised by the Treasury in block grants or other forms of relief at the expense of increased valuations upon other property in the coalfields. The levy is one of the most insignificant items of burden that fall upon the industry and should have been the Very last to be touched. This is a direct attack to cripple one of the finest pieces of social machinery ever introduced to alleviate the very grave lot of the miner, particularly when he is hemmed in in the mining valleys.

I am hoping that we may be able to persuade the Minister and Members of the House to accept this Amendment. Although the farthing may seem infinitesimal, it would bring a substantial measure of amelioration and comfort to a very large number of our people. If the levy is reduced from a penny to a halfpenny, we gather that the sum which will be available for the 20 districts in South Wales will be about £203,000 a year, that is, roughly, about £10,000 per district. It is impossible to complete the schemes which have been commenced, and it will certainly be impossible to open up recreation schemes in mining villages where, up to the moment, little if anything has been done. Reference has been made to the recommendations of the committee, and to statements made by one of its members, the nominee of the Miners' Federation. I think that if the report is looked into, it will be agreed by the Minister and most Members of the House that those statements included a very significant proviso, namely, that if the levy was to be reduced from a penny to a halfpenny, the other halfpenny should accumulate in the fund so as to become a nucleus for miners' pensions or something of that kind. We should not object to a reduction to a halfpenny if the miners were to have something by way of social amelioration, or pension, or something that would be of pecuniary or social advantage to them, but the Government in this Clause are really destroying one of the very best pieces of social machinery that we have had to alleviate the lot of the mining community in this country in post-War years. It is really one of the meanest and most disgraceful things any Government could do.

There can be no argument on the ground of costs. Any coalowner who rises in this House and has the audacity to say that the farthing would have any appreciable effect in relieving the depression in the mining industry would be making an absurd statement. One knows that if the costs of production were reduced by a farthing, it would have no effect either upon the home market in any class or grade of coal, and certainly no effect upon the export market. I do not want to deal with the question of selling prices, although it is significant in this respect. It is known that the coalowners have not been, shall I say, greatly concerned in increasing the selling price of coal. If it were opportune and in order, one would be able to prove that for the last 10 years they have deliberately set about a policy of cutting prices in order to benefit gasworks, from which they were able to obtain substantial profits, and to sell coal at cheap prices to electricity concerns, from which they have also been able to reap enormous profits. In other words, subsidiary undertakings have been making enormous profits, while the mining industry has been virtually brought to bankruptcy. While the miners have been unable to rise above the minimum percentage, coalowners interested in gas and electricity undertakings have been making substantial profits, so that there has been no effort to increase the price of coal. It is a paying proposition to sell coal at a very cheap price.

Therefore, when they argue that this farthing would enable them to reduce the costs of production, and consequently reduce prices and so sell more coal, it is really a most fatuous argument. This farthing may mean about £100,000 a year. That additional amount for distribution in the various districts would enable the miners, after leaving eight hours of darkness, gloom and danger in which they have to do, perhaps, the most arduous of all tasks of men in this country, to play bowls or tennis, or enjoy whatever the schemes may provide for them, to go to their institutes to play billiards, and at least to get away from the mentality of their drab, dark life. I am, therefore, hoping that all Members present will see the justice of our claim. The Amendment merely adds one farthing per ton to the 210,000,000 tons of coal produced, in order that the gloom may be partially removed, and a little more joy brought to the drab life of the mining folk of this country.

4.9 p.m.


If one goes through the whole of the committee's report as to the desirability of continuing the welfare work, one ought, I think, to come to the conclusion that in the minds of the committee there was a belief that there was sufficient welfare work still remaining to be done to warrant the full penny being paid for many years yet. Every conclusion, every paragraph almost, in which reference is made to that particular aspect of the matter bears out that contention, and yet, in spite of all, the fact remains that a reduction from a penny to a halfpenny is recommended. Moreover, the ways in which the halfpenny is to be spent will leave such a small amount for local conditions of welfare that it will be almost negligible. We are told that it is to go on for 20 years, and that that would be an advantage. I do not know whether that is so or not, but some of us hope that it will go for that period and longer. Even if the penny were continued for 20 years there would still remain some welfare work to be done.

Not only is the sum cut down to a halfpenny, but more is to be taken out of the halfpenny than out of the penny before. The amount that will go back to local people will not permit of more than a very small amount of welfare work. Let me try to prove my case. It was said in the last Debate that in South Yorkshire most of the welfare work had been done. Take my case in Bentley, where I am on the committee. The money due to us for the last three years has not been paid, because there is no money in the fund. So that out of the halfpenny, when it comes, we have to claim money due to us for the last three years. We have had none yet, because there have been so many claims by various districts in South Yorkshire. There has not been nearly enough money to meet those claims, and they have had to ask for our claim to stand over until others have been paid, and until certain other money has been accumulated before helping us to go forward with our work.

So far from welfare work having been done, our trouble in Bentley is not that we do not know on what sort of work to spend money, but that there are so many things requiring to be done that we are falling out between the coalowners, the welfare side, and the various sections of the workmen's side as to which should have precedence. Some years ago we wanted to build a hall. We had actually bought the land. We also wanted a swimming bath there, but, owing to the cost of the scheme, we had to drop it, and adopt a scheme at rather less than half of the original cost, because the money was not there. We built the hall and decided that we would build an open-air bath, but had to scrap that because there was no money. We provided playing-fields, and have been wanting for years to raise the level so that they could be played on in winter particularly, but we have not been able to do it, because there is no money. Then the men want to provide aged miners' homes for the many aged miners in Bentley and district, but we have not been able to do it, because there is no money. The colliery company are not against us spending the money in the direction we want to spend it, but they want some of the money allocated to us to be spent in providing pit-head baths also. The men want the pit-head baths, and the owners are willing to provide the land and the water, but there still remain some expenses connected with it. We have been hoping against hope to receive money for this object, in addition to the other things which we want, and that we might find it possible to allocate a small proportion of the sum due to us to enable us to go on with the provision of pithead baths.

Another question which we have in mind is that of convalescent homes, which was discussed on Second Reading and in Committee. It is a very necessary provision for people working in such a very dangerous occupation as that of the miner. We have provided for them in Yorkshire. It says in the report that the number of convalescent homes provided is still very small and that there remains a large amount of work to be done in this direction. I wonder how much can be done on the small amount given to many people in that direction? We are doing something in Yorkshire, but not as much as we want to do. We are proud of what has been done, but one of the greatest detriments, even in connection with the provision which we have made, is that the people whom we send, in the main have nothing with which to go to the convalescent homes. They want clothes and a certain amount of money. Whether it be the husband or the wife, the father or the mother, they like to go with something in their pocket. We have found scores of cases—and I dare say throughout the whole of South Yorkshire there are probably hundreds and thousands of cases—where people are willing to go to convalescent homes, and have been recommended to go, and it has really been essential that they should go, but they are not able to go because they cannot provide the necessary clothes.

Those are the things which we want in Bentley at the present moment. Hon. Members must not tell me that if we continued with the full penny for the next 20 years we could not find ways and means of spending the money, and doing it very creditably. To say that welfare work has largely been done and that there is no need to spend money in the future, is to be guilty of talking sheer nonsense in view of the needs which still remain. I saw a demand which had come from Durham on this question. They had gone to the trouble of sending round to every mining welfare committee asking them to send in their requirements for the next few years and also to send in schemes which had been started but which had not been finished. Each of those local committees went into the thing very carefully, and when the schemes were finally sent in it was found that they were such as to warrant the penny being paid for at least another 12 or 14 years. From every angle one looks at the business, the necessity for the penny being continued instead of reducing the amount is proved up to the hilt.

A subsequent Amendment asks for something which is contained in the first recommendation of the Committee, namely, that if the time comes when the industry finds itself in a better economic state than at the present moment, the Board of Trade should have power to increase the halfpenny, or the three-farthings—I hope that the Minister will accept the three-farthings which we are moving—to the full penny. I submitted on the Second Reading—and I submit again—that the question of the economic state of the industry did not come within the terms of reference of the Committee, and yet the main reasons advanced by the Committee, for the reduction from a penny to a halfpenny is the economic state of the industry. One of the employers' representatives in his minority report suggested that in his opinion the condition of the industry did not warrant a single halfpenny being paid in the future for welfare work, but that it was outside their terms of reference and they could not discuss it. That is the opinion of the employers' representative on the committee in his minority report. Yet in face of that fact the main recommendation said that they wanted the benefit to be reduced to a halfpenny mainly because the condition of the industry did not warrant a penny being continued.

The first recommendation stated that, owing to the present economic depression, the output levy should be reduced to a halfpenny per ton of coal raised, and that it should be continued for 20 years, but if and when the financial state of the industry improved the amount should be increased. I ask the Minister, in view of that particular recommendation and of the fact that they are putting in a halfpenny because of the recommendation of the Welfare Committee, to put in the other proviso that if and when the state of the industry permits the amount should go back to the original penny. Our subsequent Amendment will provide for that. It is not asking the Minister for a great deal when, if he cannot give us the three-farthings or anything in the direction of increasing the halfpeny, we say that at least he should concur with the first recommendation of the Committee and accept our Amendment saying that when the condition of the industry improves, we shall return to the penny.

4.23 p.m.


I rise to support the Amendment because I think that it ought never to have been necessary to make the proposed reduction, and I object even more strongly to the making of the reduction at this particular juncture. The Government are not only placing their supporters once again in a very difficult and invidious position, but they are supplying fresh arguments to those who are continually saying that the only cure for the evils in the industry is complete and absolute nationalisation. Why do the Government propose to take away one-half of the money available for this beneficent work?

Here we have the greatest of our industries, with the exception of agriculture, employing 720,000 miners, producing 210,000,000 tons of coal every year of the value of £130,000,000. It has a separate Department of State to itself, and every quarter the Department issues statements on the result of its activities. I have the latest one here, and it is very similar to almost all the other reports which have been issued during the course of the last few years. It makes extremely dismal reading. It sets out in the same depressing terms the low wages of the workers, low profits, and, in some of the districts, no profits at all, and shows that, as far as the whole of the country is concerned, there is a loss of 5d. per ton on the whole of the 42,000,000 tons of coal mined during the quarter. While this has been going on the three partners in the industry, the Government, the Mining Association, and the Miners' Federation have gone on wrangling over this matter like three characters in Mr. Milne's delightful book of children's stories, Eyore, Piglet, and Winnie the Pooh, sitting behind closed doors, aimlessly and endlessly discussing how to stop lions, tigers and the bears from stealing their dinners, and then when they find no dinner left for any of them finally quarrelling violently among themselves as to whose fault it is that they have to go hungry. And that is the position as I visualise it.

It may be said that it is wrong in a selected industry that part of the proceeds of the industry should be set aside for the special purpose of social amelioration, but I think the House will agree that it has long been conceded that the mining industry is in a special and particular position as far as this matter is concerned, and that the general provision made by the State has never been adequate in so far as the needs of the workers and their families are concerned. Having accepted the principle, it is sheer folly to curtail the fund which has enabled this beneficent work to be carried on and which would have enabled it to be carried on in the same way for a very much longer time were it not reduced. Speaking within the ambit of my own experience, the work of the Miners' Welfare Committee has been the most beneficent of its kind ever undertaken in any industry. It is the biggest and most far-reaching in its moral social influence of any similar work that I have ever known to have been undertaken.

The Government propose to curtail that work by taking away one-half of the levy. I have always found it extremely difficult to understand that attitude. I have followed with close attention, not only in this House but upstairs in Committee, the speeches made by the Secretary for Mines, and I stand here to-day unconvinced either as to the necessity or desirability for it. It has been claimed that so much has been done already that it is no longer necessary to maintain the levy at a penny. That could only be said by those who were not familiar with the conditions in the mining villages before the work of the Welfare Fund was undertaken. Those of us who know these villages realise that there remains a tremendous amount of social work to be done before we can hope to be able to claim in any way that we have overtaken the evil consequences of 100 years of social injustice. That is the position as far as the mining villages are concerned. The fact that so much has been done has no validity. Less than a fortnight ago I had the privilege of looking at one of the schemes in the north of England. I was profoundly impressed by what had been done and by what the administrator who accompanied me told me yet remained to be done.

I will turn to the economic argument, it is said that industry cannot afford this sort of thing. I am prepared to admit that in the present state of the industry, and in face of the fact that the industry needs relief, nothing should be done which is likely to retard it. I have never been able to understand the attitude of the owners who speak as if the levy was a charge on profits, and that if the penny disappeared their position would be greatly improved. The penny per ton is a charge upon the industry, and, if it were wiped out entirely, all that would happen would be that there would be one penny per ton more which would remain of the proceeds, which are divisible in the proportion of 87 per cent. to wages and 13 per cent. to capital. Therefore, all that the owners are seeking to obtain by this reduction is 13 per cent. of one halfpenny per ton. The owners have little to gain so far as this proposal is concerned. While I fail to understand why the Government should have introduced the Bill, I also fail to understand why hon. Members opposite should describe it as an owners' Bill, as was done in Committee. I cannot see how the owners are going to benefit in any way from it.

The penny per ton welfare levy can come from one place only, and that is the difference between the cost of production and the selling price of coal at the pit-head. There is no other place from which it can come, and it is here that we are able to place our finger on what I might call the weak spot in the organisation of the industry. Here we are also able to expose the fallacy that the reduction to one halfpenny will help in any way towards the recovery of the industry. We are able to show, I hope, that there are better, speedier and more effective ways of maintaining the prosperity which we all desire, whilst bringing the levy up to its original level. As I have already said, the reduction to one halfpenny will not help the industry. The House is entitled to ask me, "If the halfpenny reduction will not help, what will?" Some two years ago in a Debate on the Mines Act, 1930, almost the first speech that I made on the mining industry in this House, I pointed out that there was a very large volume of production on which the pit-head selling price could be raised substantially without doing the slightest harm to anyone. I exempted the great basic industries, the export trade and the transport services, which the the handmaidens of industry.

From the summary, it is clear that coal is being sold below the cost of production. Why is it that the mining industry should be continually made the Cinderella of industry? Why should it be regarded as being the only industry which, as a normal state of things, cannot give either decent wages to its workers or a fair return to the shareholders? Why should the public utility concerns be allowed to buy their coal below the cost of production? The index figure for the cost of living to-day is 140, but the index figure for the selling price of coal is only 124, and one of the reasons for that is that these great concerns are buying their coal far too cheaply. The Minister is asking the House to consent to one halfpenny being taken from the levy. I ask the House to note that the public utility concerns use 26,000,000 tons of coal a year, which is only 12½ per cent. of our annual production of coal. Yet an increase in price of only 4d. per ton on those 26,000,000 tons of coal would provide the £430,000 which the Minister is seeking to take from the welfare fund. Spread over the whole of the community that extra cost would mean a very slight increase in the supply of gas and electrical energy. The increase would be so negligible that no one would know it was there.

I have no patience with the chairmen of these public utility companies who make a practice at their annual meetings of complaining that they are paying far too much for their coal. In my opinion, they are paying far too little. They ought to be paying at least one shilling to one shilling and sixpence more at the pithead. It is the pithead prices that we want to get at, because it is only by increased prices at the pithead that the miners and owners themselves can possibly hope to get advantage. The Government would be better employed in bringing that about than in seeking to cripple the work of the Welfare Fund for the sake of a halfpenny reduction. We do not need to be told of the very depressing period through which the mining industry has been passing. On the other hand, the public utility concerns are in a privileged position. They are protected by the Government because they provide something which is universally required, they fix their own prices. If the hon. Members will look at any financial newspapers, they will see that the £100 stock of these companies stands at £130 or £140, that their £l shares stand at 25s. to 30s., and that they pay dividends of from anything from 5 to 8 per cent. What a contrast from the dismal and dreary columns about the coal and iron companies. One would need a microscope to find such companies whose shares stand at par or which have paid decent dividends for many years past, and yet the public utility concerns are not national wealth-producing concerns such as the coal mines.

Another source of supply for which the industry does not receive adequate payment at the pithead is domestic fuel. The mining industry receives nothing like adequate payment for the 25,000,000 or 30,000,000 tons of coal used domestically every year. That coal is not the coal which is referred to in the Summary as sold at average prices of 13s., it is graded coal and the price varies at different pitheads in different districts and may be anything from 15s. to 20s. There is a huge gap between the pithead price and the price the consumer pays. Since I came to London I have been astonished to find that the price of domestic coal here is about 150 per cent. over the price that is paid at the pithead. There are, of course, various directions in which the halfpenny reduction in the levy could have been obtained on the costing side, but I prefer to indicate the direction in which more revenue could be brought to the industry in order that, if the levy is to be reduced to one halfpenny, it may be brought back to the original figure as speedily as possible.

Let me turn to the retrospective effect of this legislation. I am well aware that all Governments find themselves forced on occasion to resort to this sort of thing, but it is a vicious practice and not one that ought to be encouraged. In this case, it places the supporters of the Government in a very difficult position. The report was published in January, 1933, and in April the Government announced their intention to implement the report. The law to-day is that the levy is one penny; yet without any authority or sanction from this House every colliery company in the country in making its financial adjustments has made provision for welfare levy at one halfpenny only. That is a very grave departure, and the result is to place some of us in a very difficult and very awkward position.


Are we to understand that the mineowners have already deducted the halfpenny?


In actual practice it is somewhat difficult to follow. Those who sat on the committee upstairs will remember that the Minister acknowledged that this matter had been settled in advance, but to keep himself within the law he had been pressing for payment on account on the basis of one penny. We who would like to see the levy maintained are placed in the position that we have to vote for a reduction of the levy or to be accused of attempting to place on the shoulders of the various companies a burden for which, on the assurance of the Government, they have made no provision, which they would have great difficulty in meeting and which might conceivably force some of them into liquidation. That is a position in which the Government ought not to place us. The Secretary for Mines has told us that he is demanding payment on account on the basis of one penny. He is bound to do that in law but his references to the difficulty of obtaining payment seem to indicate something wrong in the method of collection. If the levy is a legitimate and a lawful charge on the proceeds of the industry it ought to be collected in the same way as any other charges of a purely commercial character. Monthly invoices should be rendered and payment obtained regularly on a given date after receipt of the statement of account, as is done every day in every colliery company's office in the country in ordinary buying and selling.

There is only one other matter to which I would refer. Along with some of my Liberal colleagues my name is on a Private Member's Bill to provide pensions for aged miners at the age of 65. It is a Bill which we had hoped to introduce and one on which we had hoped the Government would give us some encouragement. We hoped that as the other more urgent needs which had to be met by the fund were satisfied we should be in a position to earmark part of the Welfare Fund for this very laudable purpose. With the passing of this Bill that hope vanishes, and I see no alternative but that we shall have to withdraw our Bill. I should be of a mild, gentle, humble and forgiving nature if I felt grateful to the Government for that, and I hardly think that either the Government or the Secretary for Mines will expect us to thank them for it.

I am sorry to find myself in conflict with the Secretary for Mines, but I shall find myself compelled to support the Amendment. I appreciate the difficult position of the Secretary for Mines and the Government in view of the announcement of the 5th April, but I can see no reason for the reduction and no reason for the retrospective effect of the Bill, and I feel myself bound to support the Amendment. I hope that the Minister will reconsider his attitude in regard to the Second Amendment. The industry has been passing through a very difficult period of depression, and I hope that in a short time there may be an opportunity for giving back the halfpenny which he is now taking away. I hope he will take power to do that, and thus remedy the damage which perhaps unwittingly he is doing to-day.

4.46 p.m.


The two Amendments which the House is now considering go to the root of the Bill and cover the question of the amount of the levy and its period. Perhaps as one of the Inquiry Committee I might be allowed, shortly, to indicate some of the reasons which made the Committee recommend, as a temporary measure, that the levy should be fixed at a halfpenny. We were told by the mineowners that they considered there was no case for the continuance of the levy at all, but the miners representatives, on the other hand, were strongly in favour of a penny. When the report was issued the owners' representative, who did not sign the main report, recommended that for the remainder of the quinquennial period one-fifth of a penny should be paid and for the remainder of the twenty years one-eighth of a penny. The Committee, with great reluctance, came to the conclusion that there was a case temporarily for a reduction of one halfpenny, and in this Mr. Alfred Smith, the miners' representative concurred on the understanding that pensions were excluded. What were the reasons? In the first place, you had the fact that the fund was to be extended for a definite period of 20 years, and, in the second place, the undoubted fact that the cost of carrying out welfare schemes was less now than was the case when the fund was first started. A halfpenny levy would go very much further now than 12 years before. In addition, we were also in a period of very bad trade indeed. For all these reasons, and as a compromise in order to get a report which we could send to the Government, we felt that temporarily there was a case for a reduction of one halfpenny. Has anything happened since then—the report was signed, 14th December, 1932—to make one change the view then expressed?

The two Amendments now before the House are well worthy of consideration because they go some way towards carrying out one of the recommendations of the Inquiry Committee that, if and when the industry could bear it, when it was prosperous once more, the amount should be raised to one penny. I maintain that the position in this direction has been substantially strengthened since the report of the committee was issued. In the first place, we are told frequently and loudly enough by the representatives of the Government that industry is improving, and there is no doubt that that is true. Presumably, in two or three years more of the National Government they think, no matter what we on this side may think, that there is going to be abounding prosperity all over the country. If that is so, then the industry will undoubtedly in the course of a few years be in a position to revert to the penny. There is no doubt that there is plenty of work for the penny to do; the committee had not the slightest doubt about that. The second reason is that the Secretary for Mines proposes shortly to bring before the House a Coal Mines Bill, one of the features of which is that there shall be power to fix selling prices. That is a nice thing for the industry, to some extent they have it now, and they will be able by using that power to maintain the price of coal, or to raise it, and presumably make increased profits. That clearly suggests that they will be in a better position after that Measure is passed to pay one penny instead of a halfpenny.

There is a third point. I cannot feel a great deal of sympathy or patience with mineowners who still obstinately resist the tendency of the times and do everything in their power to prevent rationalisation, which most people outside the industry feel to be absolutely essential and vital and a normal procedure in that industry as in others. They are resisting the efforts of the Reorganisation Commission who are suggesting amalgamation in various coalfields. If they are standing against the tendencies of the times, they deserve considerably less sympathy than if they were showing a readiness and willingness to fall in with schemes of rationalisation and scientific development in the industry.

Those are the reasons which make one look favourably on these Amendments. In the discussions which have taken place in Committee and in the House efforts have been made to enable the recommendation of the committee to be carried out, that at the right moment, when prosperity returns, the levy should be raised once more. We have two before us now, one raising the levy to three-farthings and the other a new Clause, which will give the Secretary for Mines power to raise it when he thinks proper. I have also a new Clause on the Order Paper, which is not to be called, dealing with the same subject. It goes a little further and suggests that either House of Parliament by a negative Resolution could destroy any proposal of the Government in that direction. There is also another alternative method in the Amendment that I have down, which also is not going to be called, that the rate should be a halfpenny for three years, from 1932 to 1934, and that it should be raised once more to a penny for the remainder of the 20-year period.

In supporting one or other of these Amendments, I feel that I am acting in accordance with what was in the mind of the Inquiry Committee, and that in passing one or other we shall in effect be carrying out the recommendation which they made. I hope the Secretary for Mines will be able to indicate that he is able to accept one or other of these Amendments. With regard to the second Amendment giving the Minister power by order to raise the levy, the alternative to that is a fresh Bill. We all know what that means. It is putting an unnecessary obstruction in the way of dealing with this matter when the time is ripe. Surely hon. Members will agree that if the coalmining industry is prosperous once more it is only right and fair to raise the levy to one penny again, and, if that be so, why not make the process as simple and as easy as you can. We know the claims of competing legislation in this House, and the delays and difficulties and obstructions there will be in this House or in another place. It makes the possibility of proceeding on this line difficult and remote. If hon. Members are sincere in desiring to see the levy raised, surely it will be wise and reasonable to adopt the procedure laid down in the second Amendment. I hope that the Secretary for Mines will indicate that he is able to accept it.

4.57 p.m.


I seem to be the first Member to rise in support of what I imagine will be the attitude taken by the Secretary for Mines on the Amendments which are now under discussion. I am sorry to find myself in the opposite camp to the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Dickie). On previous occasions on mining matters we have been in agreement. I was a member of the Standing Committee but I did not take any very active part in its deliberations because I started, a priori, in favour of the general intention of the Bill, and I was anxious to find out where the opposition came from and its nature. Almost every line of the Bill was roundly and resonantly opposed by the stalwart representatives of the official Opposition, but I do not imagine that the Secretary for Mines was unduly impressed. He must have anticipated that opposition. He may have been more impressed by the fact that other Members of the Committee, who do not belong to the official Opposition, were only half-hearted in their support of some of the proposals in the Bill and expressed doubt as to how they would work. The first Amendment before the House is similar to the Amendment moved by the official Opposition upstairs, that this is not the time and there is no reason why the levy of a penny should be reduced to a halfpenny. I find that there is sympathy for that point of view amongst hon. Members who are not officially classified as Members of the Opposition, but on analysis they are Members who spend much time in connection with welfare work or represent constituencies where the mining communities are segregated and isolated, and where welfare work has been of the utmost benefit. I do not deny that; but as against that there are other hon. Members who do not represent the mining industry, or who represent areas in which mining is only part of the industrial operations, where the miner is not necessarily secluded and segregated and where in his leisure hours he meets his fellow workers in other industries on common ground.

May I make an inquiry as to the case put forward so forcibly and so eloquently by hon. Members, who say that there is much more welfare work to be done than can be done if the levy is reduced from one penny to a halfpenny. I would like the Secretary for Mines to give us some statistical information on the subject. I say with due respect that I think the case of the official Opposition to the Bill this afternoon was a little exaggerated and that it lost some of its potency on those grounds. When the Bill is described as the meanest act that any Government at any time in any civilisation has ever done, etc., etc., it is worth while to point out that the proposed levy of halfpenny per ton is relatively a greater tax upon the industry than was the penny originally imposed in 1920. At that time costs were three times as high, and so were prices. If my figures are correct, in 1920 the pithead cost per ton of coal was in the neighbourhood of 37s., whereas to-day it is in the neighbourhood of 13s. Similarly, taking costs as a whole, if today the index figure is 100, the index figure in 1920 was 300. So it is a little difficult to substantiate the statement that this reduction is one of the meanest acts that could be perpetrated.


Will the hon. Member give the price of coal in 1926 when the levy was maintained at a penny?


I have not those prices, but I do not think they would affect my argument.


The prices in 1926 were not very much different from what they are to-day.


I think I am right in saying that the pithead price of coal in 1920 was 37s., and that to-day it is 13s.


I do not dispute that.


The other argument I have set out to deal with is this: It is said that if there is to be improvement in the industry and an increase in tonnage that makes the present Bill even more iniquitous. But that is a double-edged argument, because if there is to be an improvement in the industry, if the tonnage of coal is to be increased for instance from 208,000,000 to 258,000,000 tons, the more tons of coal that are produced the more money there will be with the halfpenny levy.

It seems to me that during the deliberations on the Bill there has been a disposition to treat the coalowners rather as the villains of the piece. The Bill has been described as a colliery owners' Bill and, to use a familiar phrase, as a sort of coalowners' ramp. I hold no brief for the coalowners. I am not one myself. But I do think that in all fairness some justification for the statement should be given. So far as I know the coalowners have never been disposed to take a narrow view of this welfare levy. In 1920 they acquiesced in the proposal. Again, in 1925 they agreed to a continuation of the levy for a period of five years. That was at a time when for some years already the owners had been paying practically all the costs of this levy, despite the fact that it was originally intended that with the operation of the wages agreements the cost of the levy would be borne partly by the owners and partly by the miners.

During the last few years, when the industry as a whole has been running at a loss, these contributions by the owners have had to be paid out of capital. In Standing Committee the Secretary for Mines referred to the difficulty which certain colliery owners had had in making their contributions, for in doing so they in effect had had to increase their overdrafts at the bank. In contrast with the difficulty which the mining industry, the owners, have had in meeting these contributions in recent years, I think it is in order to refer very briefly to the financial position of the fund itself. Without going into any details and without adding any opinion of my own as to what remains to be done—that is what I want the Secretary for Mines to give a little advice upon—I am informed that after every contingency has been taken into account there is still in the fund an unallocated amount of £660,000 in the districts and £160,000 in the central fund. Those two amounts are equivalent to four and a-half years' and two and a-half years' expenditure, respectively, at the rates of payment required under the Bill. If that is the case, and in view of the present depressed condition of the industry, the Secretary for Mines was right in following the advice of the Departmental Committee in reducing the levy from one penny to one halfpenny, and to-day there is no case for an increase.

As to the second Amendment, which I am presently disposed to oppose, while I personally agree that a period of 20 years for review is too long, I should say it is only fair to both parties concerned that there should be a fixed period, and that if the amount of the levy was to be altered during that period it should not be done merely at the dictatorial whim or order of the President of the Board of Trade, but should be done only after due and proper consideration by this House. For these reasons I am not prepared to support either of the Amendments under discussion.

5.8 p.m.


I wish to support the Amendment. After the Bill has been discussed on Second Reading and in detail in Standing Committee it is difficult to make any new proposition. From the speech of the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Dickie) I gathered that he does not anticipate that the Government will accept either of the Amendments. I am not permitted, I assume, to deal with the point raised by the hon. Member. Neither am I entitled to labour the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Mr. E. Williams), that is the very low price at which the coalowners are selling coal now. But there are plenty of statistics available in the proceedings of this House which prove that the industries to which the coalowners are selling coal are making between £6,000,000 and £10,000,000 a year profit, and that on the other hand the owners are making considerable losses, as was emphasised by the hon. Gentleman opposite. I would point out, however, that if the coalmining industry is not a paying proposition that is not due to the miners, but is due to those who control the industry, because figures show that they reduced the price of coal to other industries from 35s. a ton to the paltry 13s. a ton to which reference has been made.


Let me repeat what I meant to point out. I hold no brief for the coalowners, but that does not come into the present argument. So far as this Bill is concerned we are not empowered to dictate what the coalowners shall do.


I am prepared to accept the admission of the hon. Member, that he holds no brief for the coalowners, but there is no more capable apologist for the owners in this House than the hon. Member. No one expected when he rose that he would advocate the claims of the miners. I think the coalowners can be complimented on the presence here of a Member who says that he had no brief for them. They have not sent a better advocate to this House than the hon. Member. The fact that there is no money in the industry is due, not to the miners, but to those who own the industry. We see in the newspapers expressions of regret because of the number of miners who lose their lives in order to provide comfort for other sections of the community. Yet here we are discussing whether a miserable penny per ton should be reduced to a halfpenny on grounds which, in my opinion, are the most flimsy that have every been argued in this House. The whole case for the Bill and the arguments which constitute the opposition to the Amendments are based on the Departmental Committee's recommendations. Anyone would think that the recommendations of that Committee were of Divine origin. There are in existence commissions' reports that have not been acted upon by the very individuals who are now defending the recommendations of the Departmental Committee, simply because the recommendations of the commissions which have the effect of benefiting the class of the community that this Bill seeks to penalise.

The Secretary for Mines appears to be very optimistic as to the quantity of coal upon which the halfpenny will be paid, namely, an output of 210,000,000 tons this year. In my own opinion, for what it is worth, there is no justification for that optimism. Even the improvement that has taken place in the first three months of this year compared with last year is, according to the official statement of the coalowners in South Wales, simply a seasonal improvement. The unbounded optimism of the Secretary for Mines, in my opinion, has no justification. I do not believe that the output this year will be in the region of 210,000,000 tons. But, if there is justification for that optimism, then there is no reason why he should oppose these Amendments. We ask for their acceptance on the ground that the condition of the industry might improve. I emphasise the point already made, that considering all the regard shown for the recommendations of the Inquiry Committee, hon. Members opposite should bear in mind that one of these Amendments incorporates a recommendation of the Committee because on page 72 of their report they say that the figure per ton should be increased if and when the financial state of the industry permits, while on page 73 it is stated that the output levy should be reduced to a halfpenny per ton of coal raised, but that if and when the financial state of the industry permit the amount should be increased. The Secretary for Mines should, therefore, accept at any rate one of these Amendments, for two reasons. One is his own unbounded optimism and the other is the fact that the very Committee whose findings he defends suggest that when the financial condition of the industry improves the levy should be increased to one penny.

The simple proposition embodied in these two Amendments is that a slight increase should be made in the levy from a halfpenny to three farthings. At the same time we deplore and protest against the reduction from one penny to a halfpenny. The sums of money allocated from this fund have considerably improved the appearance of many mining towns and villages. The industrial and commercial greatness of this country has been largely secured by the production of coal, but few industries have contributed more to the creation of drab and dreary towns and villages than the coal industry. Evidence of that is to be found in the fact that few coalowners reside in the areas where the mines exist and also in the hundreds of unsightly heaps of rubbish to be found in the mining districts of Great Britain. No section of the community is more entitled to improvements such as are required in those areas than the miners. Representing a mining division, I should be the last to deny that considerable improvements have already been effected by the Welfare Fund—which explains our opposition to the reduction from a penny to a halfpenny and our support of these Amendments. In my division some beautiful grounds have been laid out with money received from the Welfare Fund and some exceedingly good tennis courts now cover a place formerly occupied by rubbish heaps resulting from mining operations.

In scores of other places in my division and other mining divisions great improvements could be made. To reduce the sums available for such schemes is to arrest a necessary and laudable work. To accept the Amendment which provides for a slight increase, would be to assist in the promotion of such schemes. What hope is there, especially in the depressed areas, of these desirable improvements if the fund is depleted? Recreation grounds are required in all parts of the country. In my division efforts are now being made by unemployed miners to secure a piece of ground on which they can indulge in the harmless game of football. That in my opinion is the best means of keeping our unemployed in the condition in which we all desire to see them. It is sheer hypocrisy to say that we desire the reconditioning of our unemployed, if no advantage is taken of the possibilities of keeping them fit and in a satisfactory state of health. They can no longer look to the local authorities to assist them in creating the means of mental and physical improvement. That is admitted even by the Government in so far as they have made grants to the areas which many of us here represent.

What are the reasons for reducing the levy? It is true that the coalowners wanted one-eighth of a penny but that is a matter of policy. It was not because of the inability of the mining industry to pay the penny that they made that demand. The owners did as they always do when negotiating with the representatives of the miners. They asked for more than they expected to get and they suggested a reduction to one-eighth of a penny in anticipation of their friends the Government assisting them to get a reduction to a halfpenny. We are told that the industry cannot afford it. I would emphasise the point made by the hon. Member for Consett that the wage agreements in every part of Great Britain provide for the levy to be entered as a factor in the cost of production, so that 85 per cent. of this miserable, paltry penny is paid by the men whose claims we contend should be considered.

In no single instance have the owners complained of their inability to pay mining royalties. From 1920 to 1930, the period during which this levy has been imposed, they have paid to the royalty owners no less a sum than £70,000,000. To the Welfare Fund up to 31st January this year they have paid only £11,000,000. They say they cannot continue to pay to the fund but they do not complain of having had to contribute £70,000,000 in royalties. In 1932 royalties of over £4,500,000 were charged on the industry compared with a little over £838,000 in respect of the levy. Royalties varying from 6d. to 1s. 6d. per ton were never objected to by the coalowners on the ground that the industry could not afford them, but continual complaint has been made of having to pay the miserable penny per ton to the Welfare Fund. I am not disposed to follow the hon. Gentleman who made a calculation as to the variations in the costs in the mining industry and the price of coal caused by one halfpenny per ton. He is a better mathematician than I am but I would call attention to some observations which were made in the Committee on this Bill. The statement has not been controverted that a halfpenny is only 1 per cent. of the cost other than wages and less than one-third of 1 per cent. of the total cost of the industry.

Let me give another reason and again I cite South Wales as an example. We have had for many years complaints from the coalowners that the local rates chargeable on the industry have been too high. In 1925 the local rates represented 6.75 pence per ton. In 1933 they were reduced to 1.34 pence per ton. If the industry could afford to pay a Welfare Fund levy of one penny when the local rates represented 6.75 pence per ton, obviously it should be easier for them to pay it in 1933 when the rates only represented a charge on the industry of 1.34 pence per ton. These are interesting statistics which the hon. Gentleman might consider in connection with his own observations. There is no complaint now of the charge in respect of rates but we have this objection to the penny per ton Welfare Fund levy. You can concede anything to the coalowners and they will still complain. I think the only time when the coalowners of this country did not complain was when, in 1921 to 1930, they had a subsidy of £30,376,000. That is the only way to give them complete satisfaction. The resuscitation of the industry will not be accomplished by this reduction in the levy. The Secretary for Mines in defence of the reduction has emphasised the extension of the period during which the halfpenny will be paid. In my opinion the extension of the period is a poor substitute for the penny levy. A more fanciful, flimsy, unreal defence could not be imagined, and I hope that all hon. Members here will support these two Amendments.

5.25 p.m.


I oppose the Amendment. I am not a coalowner nor have I any interest in the coal industry. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nor a miner!"] I am just coming to that. I represent a constituency in which there are a great many miners and I presume that hon. Members will allow me to express my view upon this matter as I see it. I have done my best to follow this Bill closely and I cannot understand the opposition to it which comes from the Socialist party. When all is said and done it was the Labour Government who set up the Chelmsford Committee, and it is not for the Labour party to blame the National Government for implementing the recommendations of that committee. Much has been said about the Bill being retrospective in character but what about the Finance Bill? What about Supplementary Estimates? Every time a Minister comes to this House to ask for a Supplementary Estimate, is not that equally retrospective? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Certainly it is. The only difference is that in that case Ministers are asking the House for more money. In this instance the Minister is asking the House to give him less money. As regards this Amendment and the reduction to a halfpenny per ton, can anyone say that from a strictly business point of view the proposition in the Bill is bad policy? Can anyone say that from a business point of view it is bad to exchange one penny per ton for five years, for one halfpenny per ton for 20 years?


There is no assurance that at the end of five years the penny would cease.


The hon. Member knows that when this levy was first introduced it was for five years. Then it was continued for five years, and again for a further five years and at the end of that period it would have come to an end. I submit that it is not a bad exchange to give up one penny for five years in order to get one halfpenny for 20 years. After all, this is to go on for 20 years. A lot has been said in the past about this fund having a very large balance, and I think one hon. Member said it was a matter of several hundred thousand pounds. The reason is obvious. It is because there was no certainty that the fund would go on, and under those conditions you could not budget ahead as you would have done if it had gone on for a considerable period of years. That is why a large balance was kept in the fund. For these reasons I feel myself compelled to vote against the Amendment. I view this matter, I hope, quite openly, and I have tried to follow it carefully. As I have said, I have no special knowledge of the coal trade, but it seems to me in the circumstances impossible to do anything but vote against the Amendment.

5.31 p.m.


We support this Amendment because we are attached to the mining industry, and while it is true that the first Act was passed in 1920 for five years, it is also true that we in the mining industry expected that that Act would be continued for a much longer period, and I would like to remind the last speaker that other Acts of Parliament have been continued. In 1912 the miners' Minimum Wage Act was passed or three or five years, but it has been continued under the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill ever since, and it is likely to go on for a number of years yet. It is a jolly good Act and ought to continue, with improvements, for a long while.

We have heard a good many reasons given for the introduction of this Bill. The Secretary for Mines said on the Second Reading and in Committee that this Welfare Committee was set up by Mr. Shinwell and that that was a good reason why the National Government should legislate on the lines of the Committee's report. I think it would have been far better, as I said at the time, if, instead of setting up the Committee as Mr. Shinwell did, he had put the responsibility of rejecting the penny on Members of the Standing Committee who were in a majority in 1930. However, that Committee sat and reported, and we must remember that they reported on lines exactly like those laid down in our second Amendment, namely, that whenever the economic position of the mining industry is such as to justify an increase, the penny should be restored. The hon. Member who spoke above the Gangway said he held no brief for the coalowners of this country, but he put their point of view very well indeed.

In order to understand clearly our attitude towards these Amendments, one has to have regard to the history of the miners' welfare levy. It was instituted in 1920, after an inquiry by the Sankey Commission, when the most appalling conditions in the mining districts received publicity in nearly every paper in this country. There is no doubt that in the days when the mining industry was prosperous, even in pre-War days, when 1s. 6d. a ton profit was being made and £13,000,000 and £14,000,000 a year were being made, there was scarcely any welfare work done at all. I repeat that, as a body, the coalowners of this country have never been in favour of welfare work, and the very fact that it had to be embodied in an Act of Parliament in 1920 is sufficient proof of that.

There are two questions to be answered. The first is, Has the work in the districts been so completed as to warrant a reduction in the levy from a penny to a halfpenny? The second is, Is this easement for the mining industry likely to make any difference? As to the first, those who asked the Secretary for Mines to give statistics and evidence with regard to the work that wanted doing ought to read the report. Anybody who reads that report impartially and with a desire to get at the truth must admit that it shows conclusively that there is a lot of work that yet needs doing. Take, for example, indoor recreation and social activities. The Committee state that while it is true that there are 660 different places which has received grants for indoor recreation purposes, there are approximately 100 mining localities which have received no grant from the fund for any kind of recreational purpose, and in addition there are about 100 mining districts which have received no grant for purposes connected with indoor recreation. The Committee go on to say, on page 29 of the report: It is important that the right kind of welfare facilities should be provided for the coming generation. They go on to indicate that there is a need for the establishment of a number of clubs where the boys in the coalfields will be able to meet together. Then they say that there are scarcely any properly equipped gymnasiums. Those who have had anything to do with underground work will know that it is not work that the weakling usually stands for long. The work is hard as well as dangerous, and it requires strength, so that I can well understand the Committee urging that in every colliery district there should be a properly equipped gymnasium.

As to outdoor recreation, the miner is a man who likes outdoor recreation. We have had Prime Ministers who from that Box have told the House and the country that the miner in his support of football and cricket and all kinds of pastimes was one of the best. We believe in outdoor recreation. The Committee go on to say that while a great deal has been done since 1920, there is still a lot to be done both for children and for adults, and they advocate more playgrounds and a kind of seaside holiday camp. All through this report it is shown that there is plenty of room for the spending of the penny per ton rather than merely a halfpenny.

As to health facilities, we find that some districts have done fairly well with regard to convalescent homes, but that others have not. Lancashire desided to spend the bulk of their money on the provision of a very fine convalescent home in the Blackpool area, but the mere fact of doing that means that they have left undone a great deal of internal welfare work. With regard to Yorkshire, we have now three convalescent homes—one at Rhyl, one at Scalby, and one at Lytham—and we are finding them exceedingly popular institutions. The demand is so great that we are having to curtail the visits of men and to refuse scores of applications because we have not the necessary accommodation for them, so there is still plenty of work to be done in that direction.

Again, when you talk about convalescent homes, do not forget that there is somebody else in the coalfields besides the man and the boy. There are the miner's wife and daughters, and there is still plenty of room for convalescent homes which they can visit periodically. Those of us who have had some little experience of mining conditions remember that one of the bravest souls in the house was the mother who had to look after three or four people working underground, who often had to be up at four in the morning drying clothes and getting the lads off to the pit. The strain and the anxiety of these hard times is having a very serious effect on the miners' wives and daughters, and convalescent homes ought to be established in every district in the country. There are still eight mining districts where no convalescent homes are provided, yet we have had Members getting up here and defending the reduction of the levy from a penny to a halfpenny. Let me say to the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Dickie) that his speech to-day was one of which he should be proud, one with which I know that a good many of his colleagues who represent mining constituencies agree; and I hope the effect of that speech will be to rally in the Division Lobby sufficient of his colleagues who represent mining areas to carry at least one of these two Amendments.

With regard to the second question, as to the cost, this question always leaves me cold. For anybody to suggest that this reduction from a penny to a halfpenny will make any material difference to the mining industry is to ignore the facts of the situation. We had a discussion in Committee, in which the hon. Member for North Leeds (Captain, Peake) frankly admitted that he was a mine-owner and that he was going to defend this reduction from the mineowners' point of view. He went on to use an argument that I have always regarded as the historic argument, an argument that, so far as the mining industry is concerned, goes back for almost a century. Whenever any reform has been suggested in the mining industry, the argument has always been, "Yes, we would like to do it, but we are sorry we cannot afford it." You can trace that argument right through mining and workmen's compensation legislation. When in 1896 the Workmen's Compensation Bill was being discussed, a coalowner in this House said that the first Workmen's Compensation Bill would not only close pits, but would cause colliery companies to go into liquidation, destroy friendly societies, and bring ruin to the mining industry generally. As hon. Members know, those wierd prophecies have never been fulfilled, and to talk about a halfpenny per ton relieving the mining situation is entirely to ignore the facts.

There are charges on the industry that are far greater than this welfare levy. The charges for health and unemployment insurance cost between 2d. and 3d. per ton in a county like Yorkshire. Can anybody say when any hon. Member who is a mineowner has protested against that being a burden on the industry? Not one of them has raised his voice against it. Take, for example, the question of mining royalties, which cost roughly 5d. per ton. When they tell us that royalty owners pay 70 per cent. back into the National Exchequer, we reply that they are not telling the truth, because every time we have raised this question of mining royalties we have always been told that there were widows and orphans who were dependent on them for their living, and the House knows that with a royalty owner drawing £200, £400, or £600 a year that 70 per cent. does hot go back to the Exchequer by way of taxation. If you want to reduce costs still further—it is true that you cannot reduce wages any further, as they are far too low now—for heaven's sake do it from another source than the welfare levy.

As the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar) said, salesmen on the exchanges will give 6d., 9d. and 1s. a ton away in order to secure a contract. The moment they find they have made a bad bargain, they go back to the colliery and try to cut costs down by a farthing or a halfpenny a ton. The coalowners will have to deal with the selling price of coal. There is another item for remuneration of directors, general managers, mine managers and secretaries, which amounts to twice the amount of the welfare levy. The hon. and gallant Member for North Leeds justified this expenditure on the ground that in pre-War days the mines paid their technicians too little, and that they now paid higher salaries. That is true, but some of us suspect that a good deal more expenditure is included under that item than is warranted. Two questions have to be answered—First, is the work sufficiently completed to warrant a reduction of the levy? I think the answer is that there is still plenty of work to be done. Secondly, will this reduction from a penny to a halfpenny ease the mining situation materially? In my opinion it will not, and I want to appeal to the Secretary for Mines to accept the Amendment to make the levy three-farthings, or the Amendment which will bring it to a penny when the economic position of the industry warrants it.

The Secretary for Mines in Committee was very stubborn. I told him in Committee that while I disagreed with him in his policy, I admired him for his adaptability. He has been able to adapt himself to anything that the National Government have wanted done. He has defended this Bill as if it were the law of the Medes and Persians, and has not relaxed in any way. When he makes his prophecies as to what is going to happen in the mining industry, we on this side only hope that they will be trie. He reminds me of a lad who was employed at the pit where I worked. We had an average output of 900 tons a day. If we got 902 he said we were doing well, but if we got 898 he said we were doing badly. When I read the speech which the hon. Gentleman made at the weekend, in which he said there had been an increase of 1,000,000 tons per month as compared with last year, I thought, "What progress when we remember the awful decline that has taken place!" I also remember the hon. Gentleman's speech at Worksop when he talked of our exports to Iceland having increased by 50 per cent. I thought, "What a cold outlook for our coal trade if we had to depend on that!" We hope his prophecies will come true, and that he will be big enough to accept the levy of three-farthings and let the good work of the Miners Welfare Fund in the coalfields continue as the Act of 1920 expected it would.

5.49 p.m.


I support the Amendment, and endorse the appeal which has been so eloquently and persuasively made to the Secretary for Mines by the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith). I support the Amendment because it is a backward and retrograde step to curtail the facilities which exist for increasing the very meagre social amenities of our mining villages which are made possible by the welfare fund at its present level. Speeches have been made this afternoon by hon. Members who represent mining constituencies. I represent a division which is in the heart of the Durham coalfield and I know something of the very bad and, indeed, sordid conditions which exist in many of the villages. I deplore any step which may be taken, as it will be taken under this Bill, to minimise the possibilities of improving the conditions of those villages. I appreciate the difficulties of the coal trade and the difficult times through which the industry is passing, but I must not forget that many of the drab and sordid conditions to which I have referred were caused and created by the cupidity of mineowners in the past, and I cannot blind myself to the fact that in years gone by every possible penny of profit was extracted from the industry without any regard to the amelioration of social conditions. Even so, I am not basing my judgment on arguments of that kind.

In coming to a conclusion on these Amendments, I have endeavoured to weigh up the two main considerations, namely, the unquestionable and admitted necessity of relieving the mining industry in its present difficulties, and the equally unquestionable and admitted desirability of improving the conditions in mining villages and providing the miners and their wives and families with some degree of those modest amenities of which they should not be deprived in this age of civilisation. After careful thought, my decision has unhesitatingly come down on the side of the men and their wives and families. I do not underestimate the financial advantage of even a fraction of a penny per ton to the mining industry in its present plight and in its efforts towards recovery, but I am not convinced that the infinitestimal advantage which will accrue to the industry by this halfpenny reduction justifies in the slightest degree the partial scrapping of that social amelioration which the Welfare Fund makes possible.

It is useless to say that the bulk of the work has already been done. The figures and the statements of the hon. Member for Normanton are sufficient to show that there is a great volume of work still to be carried out. Greater care may have to be exercised in the expenditure of the money which is obtained by this levy in order that waste should be reduced to an absolute minimum, but that is, after all, a matter of administration, and can be dealt with by the committee. I have definitely come to the conclusion that this proposed reduction ought not to take place, and that it is not justified by any statement, fact or figure which has been placed before the House. The retrospective effect of the Bill causes me real concern, and I would ask hon. Members to give it careful consideration, and to give this legislative departure careful scrutiny before blessing it with their vote. Speaking as a member of the other branch of that profession to which the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) belongs, and of which he is such a distinguished member, I deplore this action on the part of the Government in presenting him with both hands with such a marvellous and wonderful precedent for any future possible mischief which may occur to him.

5.56 p.m.


The Secretary for Mines will realise from the number of speeches in support of the Amendment the feeling of the House against the reduction of the levy. There have been only two speeches from the other side, and both were not very emphatic in their feeling on the matter. The gist of one of them was, that while the Secretary for Mines was in difficulties, they as Members of a National Government felt they ought to do something to help him out. There are one or two points in the Bill which it is well worth while emphasising. Those who have followed this question know how the levy began. Just after the War we were getting a lot of sympathy in the mining communities, largely because of the patriotic feeling shown by them during the War. No body of men exceeded the devotion of the miners to the welfare of the country, and largely because of that it was felt that something ought to be done to ameliorate the conditions under which they were working and living. The Government of the day decided that a welfare fund should be set up for that purpose, and no one will deny that the levy has done good work.

Some hon. Members have said that many of the coalowners do not remain in the neighbourhood of their mines to see what happens. Those who have made large profits out of the industry are fortunate enough to get away from the surroundings. Anyone who knows mining conditions, however, will realise the sordid conditions under which miners have to live. Mining devastates the earth. Among the coal there is a vast-quantity of material that cannot be used, with the result that we get in every mining village big dirt heaps which from time to time burst into fire spontaneously owing to the nature of their make-up. The drab circumstances of the people who live near those heaps can be realised. The heaps give off sulphur fumes, and I have known many times when on the direction of the wind depended the question whether life would be tolerable at all and when if the fumes were blown in one direction, the people had to get away from them. Such are the conditions that have caused attention to be directed to the mining areas. When we get examples, as we did this afternoon, of speakers who try to defend the cutting down of the levy, one wonders if they realise what it will mean to the miners. The levy has been a great asset to them in relieving their burdens and making life more tolerable for them. We on these benches put forward a plea that the House should realise what this welfare work means to people in the mining districts.

We are cutting down this levy by 50 per cent. To speak of cutting it by a halfpenny does not sound very much; 50 per cent. sounds much more. The halfpenny levy will bring in about £416,000, but of that sum £216,000, roughly, will be taken to help to put up baths—which is an object with which we agree—and £20,000 goes towards research, so less than half of the £416,000 will be available for the districts to help in establishing the better conditions which I have been describing. We are asking that the levy shall be increased by one farthing, which would give us £208,000 on top of the £200,000. I do not think anyone can realise what that additional farthing would mean to our people. I would like to know on what grounds people are trying to defend the present position. Do they think that the farthing for which we are asking would be the means of saving the coal industry, by assisting the coalowners to get markets for their coal? I do not think anyone would say that. Do they think that all the requirements of the miners have been satisfied? Anyone who has read the Report of the Committee set up by the late Secretary for Mines will realise that there are a thousand and one schemes waiting to be put in operation when funds are available.

Another argument put forward by one hon. Member is that the miners have done very well, that the welfare levy would have passed out in five years' time; but we do not accept that view. The welfare levy was given, first, for five years, then continued for a second five years, and a further five years after that, and it is a possibility, nay a probability that it would have gone on yet another five years, until all the claims had been satisfied—indeed I could see no end to it at all. So we have not got the better of the position. I fancy that any House of Commons would have continued the levy. I cannot understand the present attitude of the Secretary for Mines after his Second Reading speech, when he said: There is no question whatever that the work they have done has made a wonderful difference to our mining villages since 1920. It is one of the greatest pieces of social reform of our time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February, 1934: col. 1400, Vol. 285.] After that statement I cannot understand him defending a reduction of the levy by 50 per cent., and I can only think he does so—and I am giving him the best of the position—in the belief that the money we are getting at present for welfare work is meeting all our needs. But I would tell him that this work of social reform is not yet completed, and that he is in honour bound to continue it with a larger grant than is provided by this halfpenny. He has paid visits to mining villages from time to time and seen the work which is being done, and must have noticed the urgent need for it to be extended. Up and down the country there are many mining villages, and districts surrounding mining villages, which require the grave attention of the Government, and much could be done by this welfare levy.

We are asking for very little; we are making no big demand on the House or the mining industry. I hope hon. Members will realise what the miners themselves are already doing. I think few people realise the stoppages already made from the pay of the miners. I have a list from a colliery in my district, in January, 1934. This is what the men are paying from their scanty wages to try to help themselves and for various other calls upon them: National Health Insurance 9d. per week, Unemployment Insurance 10d. Many people think the miners are paying nothing towards the baths, but they have to pay when baths are put in, and it is money well spent and nobody begrudges it. At this pit they are paying 4d. a week towards the baths. Towards the permanent relief club, which assists them in times of accident, because the compensation payments are not sufficient, they pay 6d. A small fund has been created to take them to the welfare centre at Blackpool if they are in distress, and to that they pay 1d. per week. For the institute they pay another 1d., and for hospitals they pay 3d. Another thing which hon. Members may not realise is that the oil they use in their oil lamps is not given them free; they pay 1d. per day for that. These items total, in the case of the ordinary day wage hands 3s. 3d. per week—which has to be paid out of earnings for, on an average, five days a week. The piece-rate workers have to pay more—4d. for every pick shaft and 6d. for check weighing, so they pay 4s. 1d. per week out of their wages. They have to pay to this welfare levy. Let it not be thought that the welfare levy comes out of the coal owners' pockets; it does nothing of the kind. The men themselves pay 85 per cent., as against 15 per cent. from the coalowners; but we are quite prepared, and so are the men, to pay their quota on top of what they are paying already. They do not object to paying when they know they are receiving value for money. When I can put forward the case that men who are paying 4s. 1d. per week in stoppages are asking to be allowed to pay a little bit more I think the House ought to agree to it and say to them: "Go on with your good work. If you think it necessary, we as a House of Commons will help you to carry it out."

6.10 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir ARNOLD WILSON

I have listened to the whole Debate, and am anxious not to repeat any arguments used in favour of the second Amendment on the Paper, which I support and for which I shall go into the Lobby, but I may be permitted to review one argument used by the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander). He suggested that we should withhold our sympathy from the coalowners on the ground that they were in conflict with modern tendencies in the matter of rationalisation. I do not think aspersions on those who oppose modern tendencies come well from those who sit on the Liberal bench. I cannot follow the arithmetic of the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Dickie) when he claims that the penny or halfpenny is not, in fact, being paid by the mineowners but, for the most part, by the men. As long as losses are being made on the ascertainments, the whole of the penny, or halfpenny, will fall on the coalowners.

The Bill seems to me to conflict with the general policy of the Government in regard to housing and welfare as a whole. We are pressing forward with a great programme of housing and welfare in order to improve hygienic conditions in every town and village, and nothing has contributed more to improvements in the isolated areas in which mining villages are mostly situated than the operations of this Welfare Fund. All the evidence I have collected from training centres in the past few months tends to show that young men, whether miners or the sons of miners, who come from areas where welfare work has been thoroughly established are malleable, easy to train and to divert to other occupations. I have had such evidence again and again. On the other hand, the managers of training centres say that young men from mining centres which have not been touched by welfare work are far more difficult to handle. They are fit for nothing except to remain as miners, and cannot be effectively transferred to work in other parts of the country. This is not the time to cut off even half the stream of money which has fertilised these valuable oases in which employers and employed have, as the late Sir Donald Maclean said, met for so long on equal terms. I do not say that we can do all that is asked for now, but I plead with the Minister to put into the Bill provisions which will enable his successors to do more at some subsequent date.

This brings me to the so-called constitutional point. I have applied my lay mind to it, but I can see nothing in it, and I cannot think that the right hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) will find any consolation in the discussions on this Bill if and when he desires to press forward along the lines described on other occasions, both inside and outside this House. Miners live in isolated communities, and their isolation has repeatedly been an embarrassment to the nation as a whole. That position has been broken down in the last few years more by Welfare Fund work than by any other single agency. Education has done little to break it down, even better communications have done comparatively little, but the work of the Welfare Fund—and I speak from the experience of a number of visits—has done an immense amount in that direction, and it seems a cruel thing to cut it off. I am reminded of the final words of Lord Chancellor Bacon's essay on Colonies: It is the wickedest thing in the World to forsake and abandon a Plantation once in Forwardnesse. That is an overstatement. We are not destroying the fund, but slowing it down, and I feel that as there is a tremendous crusade going on for housing and other improvements we should remember that this fund is one of the major weapons in the hands of the Government for the amelioration of the conditions of rather more than 1,250,000 persons.

6.15 p.m.


Having listened to the Debate, I am certain that if an individual whose opinions were neutral were to come here he would decide that there was no course left to the Minister of Mines other than to accept the Amendment. An Amendment was never more mildly moved, and I hope that the Government do not misunderstand. Behind the miners' case is the whole organisation of the men, who are the operatives in the industry. The hon. and gallant Member for Hitchin (Sir A. Wilson) said that we had to remember that in England and Wales the colliers were far removed from big industrial centres. It is exactly the same in Scotland. What has brought me to my feet is my personal experience on Sunday last. It was a wild, miserable, raw day, and I went for a walk in the country. Four miles out from Glasgow I was astonished to see on the road a number of colliers going to their work. They worked at the Queensly Colliery. I made inquiries. I am going to tell the House about the type of man for whom I am appealing to-day. They are the same type as those in regard to whom this House rang with praises during the War. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) when Minister of Munitions said that the miners were the backbone of Britain and the watch-dogs of civilisation. I will tell the House how they are treated now. In the Queensly Colliery, North East of Glasgow, and on the Glasgow-Edinburgh new road, about 100 men are employed, and they are working seven days a week. They are unorganised. Not one of them, surface man or miner, is organised in that colliery, and the result is that the surface men are receiving four different rates of wages, which vary from 4s. 6d. per day.


On a point of Order. Is it relevant to discuss the wages of miners on this Bill?

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain Bourne)

I myself was finding it a little difficult to reconcile the arguments of the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) with the Amendment which is now before the House.


I think that the hon. Member is trying to show the need for some amelioration of the workers' conditions.


I am showing the actual conditions. I have sat here since Question Time, and have watched everything that has been going on. I will endeavour to keep within the bounds of your Ruling, Captain Bourne. Those wages range from 4s. 6d. to 6s. 8d. per day. Think of that. It is because I have seen those men that I am anxious that the Minister of Mines should step in with his welfare scheme to help to remedy the conditions. The colliery to which I am referring is miles away from anywhere. There are no houses within miles of it. It is away out in a country district, far removed, as it were, from human habitation. Those men have to go out in all kinds of weather. It is all right for individuals who are well-fed, well-clothed and in a comfortable job to smile when I am telling them about the conditions. These are the men who stood between the comfortable boys and the War. None of them was of the officer class, but they were the fellows who worked and held the trenches. They are allowed only time-and-a-quarter for working on Sunday. They are young men 18 years of age who have to work out in all kinds of weather, and in the mountains, where they get 2s. 9d. per day.


The hon. Member must raise questions of wages with the Minister of Mines on some other occasion. He is quite entitled to argue that it will be desirable to provide welfare for those men and that if this Amendment is not carried, that welfare cannot be provided.


At the colliery about which I am speaking there is no welfare centre. I am trying to give the House a picture of the actual conditions which I have seen—I who was comfortable, and whom they resented coming to them because I was so comfortable-looking. They resented anyone coming to them. That proves how essential it is to do something for them. It is our duty to do what we can to raise their standard, and I am trying to show the House how far down the social scale they are. I can remember the time before we had welfare centres, and when the colliery owners of Scotland built the rows, which are still there, where there was no lavatory accommodation. I raised a question with the Secretary of State for Scotland at the time and got a Royal Commission in regard to a case in Stirlingshire which is still in existence, and where 200 families were living for whom no provision had been made and no amenities whatever provided, any more than if they had been wild beasts. A Noble Lady a Member of this House demanded to know the name of the owner of those houses, but the Speaker said that that did not arise. I had the next question, and I told the House that the name of the owner of the houses was Sir Adam Nimmo, the colliery owner of Scotland.

What do you see at the Queensley Colliery? After I had spoken to the men, I addressed them as they were going down. I went up to the cage and asked them if they had any idea of a better life, and if they ever went down to the welfare centre at Tollcross, Glasgow, from where I came. They said, "No," and that they had no time to go to any welfare centre. They said, "Don't you try to stop us working on Sunday, because we need all the work we can get." I can remember the day when a Member of this House, who is still a Member, declared that the miners were lazy, and I told him from these benches that he was a liar. This is proof of it. Coming up the cage were two highly skilled men—"brushers" they are called. A brusher is a highly skilled man who is working at the most dangerous occupation at which a man can work in this country. I looked at them and saw that they had been working in water up to their knees, and that they were lashing with sweat.

I asked them how much they got for working all day on Sunday from 7 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon without a break—hard, slavish, murderous toil. They said, "Nine shillings each,"—for working all day on Sunday. Those are the conditions that prevail in the mines at the present time. That colliery is within the constituency of the hon. Member for North Lanark (Mr. Anstruther-Gray), and I told him that I intended to raise this question. I could go on long enough, and so could every man who has the welfare of this country at heart. We ought to stand here not to appeal to, but to demand of the Minister of Mines, because those men were promised everything during the War. They were to get "a land fit for heroes to live in"—that again is from a speech by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. It is only heroes who can exist in such circumstances as those which I have described.

I know that the Minister of Mines is one with us in this, and that his sentiment is with us. It all comes down to sentiment. The whole of the welfare scheme is sentiment. Sentiment is the most powerful influence left for good in humanity. It is the one thing about which they cannot say to us, "You have your price; you are doing this because you will be paid for it." Sentiment is something higher. I appeal to the Minister of Mines, when we are seeing a little more clearly as far as unemployment and the depression are concerned, to consider whether we could not extend the right hand of friendship to individuals who are far removed, in many cases, from their fellow men. Hon. Members should realise that the majority of miners have not the wherewithal to purchase something which is very valuable to-day and which is accessible to tens of thousands of people, and that is a wireless receiver. The miner cannot afford wireless.

Through unification and organisation the men have been able to afford welfare centres. Everyone who is in the habit of going to the mining areas—and I have visited practically every mining area in Britain—knows the change that has taken place. In the 40 years that I have been connected with the trade union and Socialist movement, I can well remember when great mining villages had absolutely no counter-attraction; the people's lives were solely spent in work and sleep. Under those conditions there were individuals who would say hard things about the miners, the miners' lives, and so on. But a distinct change has taken place, because now the miners have formed one of the most powerful organisations in the world, the Miners' Federation of Great Britain. I think of my great fellow-countryman, Bob Smillie, and of the fights that he put up on behalf of the miners to get welfare centres and to get better conditions, but we are still able, as I am, to state truthfully the hellish conditions that still exist in the mining industry.

Let it be remembered that the colliery which I have described, and which has no welfare centre, belongs to a powerful Scottish combine. It belongs to the Steel Company of Scotland. The Steel Company of Scotland can well afford to do justice by those miners in regard to a welfare centre, but it was essential, as far as I was able to see, that the House and the country should just get an inkling—that is a good old Scottish word—of what is actually taking place in the mines at the moment, that it is not all bread and roses. There are no roses; it is bare bread; and nobody in this House knows that better than the present Minister of Mines, with all the knowledge that he has been able to gather since he took on that high and responsible post, apart from his own personal inclinations as a man and a Christian. I appeal to him on behalf of those miners, those members of the working class who have had the intelligence to send us here—because again we have to remember that nothing was done for the working-class until the working-class sent working-class representatives here to defend them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] The workers of this country, like those of every other country, have never got anything until the workers' representatives demanded it.


The hon. Member is now going far beyond the Amendment.


I am just finishing. I hope that the House will treat this matter very seriously. It is no use whatever our coming to this House, and the House of Commons is no use unless we are able here to make some impression on the Minister. If what we state is not true, the House will know it, and we shall be turned down; but, if what we state is irrefutable, and if the Government turn a deaf ear to it, then it is no use our coming here. It is supposed to be the Constitution of Britain, and the idea of the House of Commons that we should come here and reason together, and we of the Opposition will give our contribution in order that the Government may get the benefit of the knowledge that we have in contact with the folk whom we represent. My last word is this, that I hope the Minister will not simply rise and give us a sterotyped reply, but that he will seriously consider the interests of the miners as well as of the mine-owners.

6.30 p.m.

The SECRETARY for MINES (Mr. Ernest Brown)

I can assure the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) that the Government have seriously considered this question. They considered it very seriously before they came to their decision. The hon. Member appeals to me personally. I have listened to every word that has been said in the Debates here and upstairs with the closest attention, understanding, as the hon. Member does, that the House of Commons is the place where representatives make their views known on both sides. I am not going to belittle anything that has been said on behalf of sentiment. Anyone who did that would be unwise. It was a very brave man who said that sentiment was the toughest thing in the world and nothing else was iron. I would remind the House, however, that sentiment may not only be powerful for good, as the hon. Member said, but it may also be powerful for evil. There is nothing more disastrous than ill-applied and unregulated sentiment.

In this case we have to consider a worthy sentiment affecting all Members of the House, whether they support the Government or the Opposition—the sentiment that affected the late Lord Chelmsford, the Chairman of the Committee of Inquiry, the sentiment that affected my late right hon. Friend Sir Donald Maclean, who was one of the first, in the course of the proceedings of the Standing Committee in 1931, to raise this very issue. If the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) asks me how I reconcile what I said on the Second Beading about the good work that the Welfare Fund has done with my support of this Bill, I would reply in the words of Sir Donald Maclean. The House would not have gathered that this Bill is the product of a report from a Committee of Inquiry set up by a Labour Government and by a Labour Minister—not, as is sometimes suggested, because he was trying to get out of a technical difficulty in Committee, but because, as he himself said both in Committee and on the Floor of the House, of the rather grave difficulties with which the industry was confronted and the difficulties in the collection of the levy. Sir Donald Maclean said: I approach this subject with a good deal of impartiality. I will mention two or three impressions that are left on my mind. There is absolute agreement that the industry itself is in a very serious financial position. All expenditure, however desirable it might be, should be brought within, not the ambit of bare necessity, but of what is really useful. I hold the view that the expenditure under this fund cannot be measured in terms of the actual expenditure itself. It has been of enormous value to the industry taken as a whole. Parliament has been thoroughly justified in the experiment that it has made. After making that statement, and paying that tribute to the good work that the fund had done, he went on to discuss the economic issues and what has been discussed several times this afternoon, namely, the disputed point whether the men pay or whether the owners pay, which depends entirely upon where the level of wages may be in a given ascertainment. He went on to say: However desirable that might be"— that was the doing of certain things to which he had been referring— I do not think it is practicable, and we have to make the best of the position as we find it. One side says a farthing and the other a penny, and there is on the Conservative benches a proposal that it should be a halfpenny. There is another suggestion that there should be a moratorium for a year. These are indications that some measure of agreement is really practicable. I have a suggestion to make myself. First of all, I should vote against a shortening of the period for the renewal of the fund. Five years is the right and proper thing, but, within that five years, surely there is a possibility of accommodation? In prosperous times no one would desire to see that penny whittled down at all."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee, C), 19th March, 1931; cols. 523–4.] His proposal was that for a period of years the levy should be reduced to halfpenny. That suggestion was not made because he was not a man of sensitive heart and understanding. I quote him because he must be neutral now—he has passed to the great majority. He was facing the facts; Mr. Shinwell faced the facts; the committee of inquiry faced the facts, and the Government have faced the facts. The facts are that, in the present economic circumstances of the industry, the advice that the Government give to the House in this Bill, and the reason why I cannot accept the Amendment is that it is proposed to reduce the levy to halfpenny and to continue it, not for five years, but for 20 years. Hon. Members opposite have made it clear to-day, as they have on other occasions, and as I expected them to do, that the Miners' Federation objects to the reduction to a halfpenny. But the owners object equally strenuously to the level of halfpenny, and even more strenuously to its continuance in a Bill of this kind, as far as one Parliament can bind another, for 20 years. The fact is that, taking all the circumstances into consideration, the Government have made up their minds.

All the speeches this afternoon have proceeded on the assumption that it is perfectly easy to make a levy of one penny, and perfectly easy to collect it; but, as the Minister responsible for the statutory duty of collecting it, I assure the House that it is not easy. It is one thing to quote averages. Averages are very useful for getting a general idea about many things, but there are few things more misleading than averages when they are applied to a difficult and complex situation like that of the coal industry, with its 1,500 separate undertakings. What may be a bagatelle to one undertaking is a very serious financial liability to numbers of others, and if hon. Members opposite, or hon. Members like my hon. Friend the Member for Consett (Mr. Dickie), were sitting where I am now, they would have to face the fact that, first of all, there has been an increasing lag in the collection of the contribution for the last periods during this great depression; and, secondly, that, although it is true, as I said upstairs in Committee, that no single mine, as far as we know, has been closed down, nevertheless it remains true that the Secretary for Mines, in the present distressed state of the industry, is constantly faced with applications for a period in which to pay; and, more than that, when that period is over, he is faced with the position that heads of undertakings come to him with all their accounts, showing that they have large overdrafts, that they are behind in other payments, and that they owe to the Welfare Fund an accumulated amount, sometimes over two or three years. Then the Minister has to make the grim decision whether, if he issues a writ in accordance with his statutory duty, the effect of the issue of that writ will be to cause the whole undertaking to close down and throw hundreds of men out of work. It is not by any means so easy to collect the levy as is calmly assumed by those who, quite rightly, put these arguments on the ground of very worthy sentiment.

Let me now come from the general down to the particular, and answer the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Paling) on the subject of Bentley. The hon. Member is generally so accurate, and speaks on this subject from so much practical knowledge, that I did not understand, when he made his pointed appeal about Bentley, how he could inform the House that nothing had been done for Bentley.


I did not.


I understood him to say that there had been no allocation for pithead baths for Bentley. If the hon. Member will turn to the report of the Welfare Committee for 1933, he will find on page 104, in Appendix 4, this statement: For pithead baths, Barber, Walker & Co., Ltd., Bentley:

Grant from the Bath Fund £25,744
Grant from the District Fund £6,256"


That does not contradict what I said. I said that we had been discussing for years, first of all that we have had no allocation now for nearly three years from the district fund and we are in debt to that extent, and, so far from having nothing on which to spend it, we had so many things, that we had been falling out as to which should have the first preference. The colliery has been asking for money from the district fund for years past, and has only now succeeded in getting money from the new fund.


The hon. Member said more than that. He quoted the Bentley case and based a general argument on that experience. But the figures I have quoted show that there is no question of the scheme being held up for lack of funds. The commencement of the building is being delayed pending the settlement of certain technical questions in connection with plans, fencing and other things.

An hon. Member asked whether I could advise the committee whether there was work remaining to be done. Of course, there is a good deal of work remaining to be done, but that is not the issue. The issue is whether we are making provision for sufficient funds to enable the work described by the late Sir Donald Maclean as work which is brought within the ambit, not of bare necessity but of what is really useful. I have given the answer to the House, and I will add a statement of what is going to happen if the House gives the Bill a. Third Beading. The hon. Member talked about my boundless optimism, but my optimism was carefully bounded by the actual facts of the last three months, no more and no less. He may say that I have boundless optimism, but that does not make it so. Looking ahead, with the information that I have of what has happened in the last quarter of last year and the first two months of this, I do not think anyone is optimistic in thinking we shall go up instead of going downhill.


I sincerely hope that the hon. Gentleman is right.


At the end of the year we shall see who is right. Taking an output of 210,000,000 tons, the receipt from the output levy will be £437,500. The estimated income from the Royalties Welfare Levy will be about £190,000. The interest on this basis will bring in about £21,000, making a total income of £648,500. At present there is a balance in the fund a considerable part of which is definitely allocated. The amount not definitely allocated at the end of February last was £815,650, but in respect of a substantial part of this amount provisional arrangements for its allocation are under consideration. While this balance remains, it is earning interest, and to that extent the income of the fund will exceed the figure of £648,500 already referred to. In the period during which the balance of £815,650 is being spent, the amount made available for welfare will be materially increased. Assuming that the balance were spent over the next five years, there would be an annual expenditure during that time of well over £800,000 on schemes not yet submitted to the Welfare Committee, and thereafter the amount available for welfare work would be nearly £650,000. In addition, there is a further sum of £20,500 available annually from endowment funds provided by the Welfare Committee for research work and for scholarships. How in the face of that could anyone call this a mean and meagre Bill, as the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. E. Williams) did?

In the judgment of the Government there is adequate provision in the Bill and in the accumulated fund to do all the work that is really necessary at the present time. When hon. Members raise the question of pithead baths, this Bill makes provision for a programme for 20 years of £375,000 a year for pithead baths. The answer to all the general speeches that have been made is surely this, that the Labour Government were faced with the problem. Mr. Shinwell planted the tree, and this House now has to make up its mind about the fruit. On the whole, we think that the Committee's report was a wise one, justified on the facts, and I must ask the House, therefore, to reject the Amendment.

6.50 p.m.


I have never heard a more one-sided Debate in the five years that I have been a Member of the House. We have just listened to the thirteenth speech on this Amendment, 10 being in favour of it and three against. But it is not only the number of speeches to which I want to refer. I think the Minister must agree that the quality of the speeches also has been heavily against the Bill. He has had three Liberal, one Conservative and six Labour speeches, all of which I felt were very convincing for the Amendment. My hon. Friend the Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith) referred to the Minister's adaptability. I should prefer to call it audacity. Whatever reasons the Prime Minister may have had for offering him this position, I am satisfied that audacity was one of them. He says we must face the facts. That is just what we are doing and what he refuses to do. He tells us that the Amendment must be rejected, because of the consequences to the industry. He asks the House to believe that, if it were accepted, it would ruin the industry. That shows that he knows very little about the industry. The cost of producing a ton of coal, apart from wages, is over 4s. 6d. per ton. In the items of cost there is one to which he has never yet referred. I want to know, if the Government is in earnest about doing something to assist the mining industry, why they select this one item of cost in preference to all others?


I might ask the same question about your Government.


I am asking why this Government singles out this item of cost, and the answer is because the Labour Government did not single it out. They left the penny where it is. They did not attempt to reduce it and, when I asked why this Government does it, I am told because the Labour Government did not reduce it. The Minister cannot make out his case. He refers to the Report. I sat on the Committee for 18 months, and I defy anyone to read the Report through and find any reason in it for reducing the levy to a halfpenny. This is what happened. We sat through a very trying period. We were appointed before the financial crisis in 1931. We sat through the whole period of the cuts. Naturally, many members of the committee felt the position very seriously as regards the general condition of the country and they allowed themselves to be influenced, not by the position of the miners' welfare, but by the general feeling of depression. The work that is recommended could not be done in 20 years at a halfpenny per ton. The Minister knows it and, if he does not, all his advisers do. The hon. Gentleman talks about the difficulty of collecting the money. In 13 years approximately £13,000,000 has been received from the welfare levy. We have outstanding today £100,000 of bad debts accumulated over 13 years, and the Minister says that he is experiencing great difficulty. Look at the lag in payments. He must know that there is no lag in payments except for certain collieries which are paying a royalty of 6d. per ton. Then we are told that they are experiencing difficulties in paying the penny. Of course they are. If this is the item of costs which they resent most—and it is—they will naturally create the maximum difficulty in the collection of it in order to influence the Government.

I want to know why the Minister cannot accept this farthing in so far that he specifies the value of the farthing for special purposes in the Bill. Not only does the Bill reduce the revenue by 50 per cent., but 50 per cent of the reduced revenue is specified for special purposes and, therefore, you are reducing it by 75 per cent. We ask for this farthing, which will double the amount of general welfare work. I can never understand the Minister for Mines. He professes great sympathy for the mining population, but sympathy to be of any value must be shown in practice. Here is an opportunity of saying, "We as a Government thought a halfpenny was the right figure. You and the Miners' Federation have clamoured for a penny. You have shown a reasonable spirit. You have come forward and said you will accept three farthings." Yet he makes no response in order to get a reasonable compromise. He says he has carried out the findings of the committee. The second Amendment is almost word for word the recommendation of that committee.


There is a great difference between the two. The recommendation is that the penny shall be restored when the condition of the industry permits it, but it does not suggest that the Minister by order has the right to impose the extra halfpenny, and the Amendment does.


I will read both the Amendment and the recommendation of the committee, and let the House decide for itself. Here is the Amendment: Provided that if at any time during the continuance in force of the principal Section as amended by this Act the Board of Trade are satisfied that the conditions in the industry are such as to justify an increase in the sum payable into the fund, they may by order provide that, as from the date of the order, the sum shall be equal to one penny a ton of the output of the mine, and this Sub-section shall have effect as amended by such order. Here are the words of the committee: But, if and when the financial state of the industry permits, the amount should be increased. I want to know what is the essential difference between the words on the Order Paper and the words of the report. If that is the only argument that the Minister can use, he is on very weak ground indeed. The mining industry is in a very depressed condition, and the Government are making serious efforts to improve it. We think that those efforts may succeed, and we think that they may bring back prosperity. If their own gallant efforts should succeed, will they allow the Miners' Welfare Fund to participate in the increased prosperity? We simply say, "Make a provision; six years is a long time, and during that period the mining industry may improve. If it does, make it possible in this Bill for the Miners' Welfare Fund to share in that prosperity."

Then we are told by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Sir A. Baillie) that when we get prosperity the fund will prosper. He thinks—obviously he does not know anything much about the mining industry—that the only way to get prosperity in the mining industry is to increase output. Coalowners on that side of the House will tell him that this is not necessary. I am not sure that increased output is necessary in this country to-day. Prosperity can be brought back to the mining industry without an increased output. If we can get it back that way, well and good; at all events, increased prosperity may not mean an increase in the fund. Increased output may mean that, but it is necessary to realise that the mines are approaching their maximum output, and the mineowners know that there will be no substantial increase. No one knows better than the hon. and gallant Member for North Leeds (Captain Peake) and the hon. Member next to him that the prosperity of the mining industry depends very largely on the way in which the prices are manipulated. If this prosperity which has been sought so earnestly by the Government should be secured, then, we say, give this fund a chance.

I will not argue on sentimental grounds, although I have never seen any reason for cheapening sentiment in this House or outside. The miners' welfare work is, however, incomplete in every direction, and welfare work is a work that should never be retarded. If it is retarded, it almost ceases to be welfare work. To be real welfare work, the quicker it is done the better. Why, therefore, does the Minister refuse to touch anything else, and single this out? I can give him the answer. We are much afraid that the Government have come to an understanding with the coalowners on this question, and the position to-night is that they cannot accept any Amendment, no matter what arguments are brought in favour of it.


There is no shadow of foundation for that statement.


The Minister may say that, but we in the Miners' Federation happen to know that there is no body of employers in this country who are in closer touch with the Government than the coalowners. If this House were to vote on the argument as they have heard it to-night, the Vote in the Lobby would be as strongly in favour of this Amendment as a large number of the speeches have been. We know, however, that whenever the Labour Government proposed some step which we could not, as back benchers, accept, we were torn between our loyalty to our Ministers, whom we believed to be doing their best in a difficult task, and the necessity for holding our own opinions. The hon. Members who have heard those arguments, convinced though they must be that the Amendment ought to be carried, will troop behind the Ministers into the Lobby and vote against it. That is a course of conduct which I admire; I went into the Lobby in the same circumstances many times myself behind the Labour Government, and I could never refuse to vote for any proposal of theirs. I recognise, therefore, how difficult it is to persuade hon. Members to vote against the Government, but I do appeal to them, in view of the importance of the miners' welfare work, to support our Amendment.

7.5 p.m.


Having sat all through this Debate, I make no apology for keeping the House even at this late hour in order to continue discussion on a subject which concerns the vital interests of so many men in this country. Although there may not be a great many hon. Members who represent miners, yet there are a great many miners in this country, whose welfare must be the first consideration and interest of many of us. This Bill seems to be based on two hypotheses. The first is concerned with certain obvious interpretations of the Mining Commission, which lays down that for the moment the mining industry is unable to bear the burden of this penny. Those of us who represent mining constituencies in all parts of the House would foe prepared to agree to that assumption. We agree with the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Sir A. Baillie) that the industry has often paid these contributions out of losses in past years. We also agree that for some time to come the industry may not be able to bear further burdens. I hope, however, that the Minister will be able to make some statement which will do him rather more justice and will make it easier for those who are his supporters to justify him before the many miners who will call us to account, and call this Bill to account before very long. Is it impossible for him to make some statement? I do not ask him to accept the second Amendment, but to make some statement to show that he believes, as we believe, that there is no reason why this alteration to one halfpenny should be permanent.

That brings me to the second premise on which this Bill is drawn, and which the Minister emphasised in his speech. That is, that the miners' welfare work is evidently practically done, because there is so much accumulative money that is practically undistributable. I do not know what hon. Member representing a mining Division will have the effrontery to rise and tell me that all the miners' welfare work in his Division is satisfactorily accomplished. I am prepared to dispute that with any mining Member who may be in this Chamber. I believe that, if you come to the question of miners' welfare, you will find that the problem has not been scratched. It is one thing to make curling rinks and football grounds, but, to my mind and in the opinion of many of my friends with whom I have discussed the subject, some needs of the miners are far more fundamental than such etceteras as the object on which the Welfare Fund has been spent.

The essential needs of the miner are the essential needs of his home. We have heard a lot about the miners' wives. There is no reason to go into sentimentalities, but the essential comforts and needs of the miners' homes are the first consideration. There are many mining villages in which people have to go 50 to 100 yards in the snow to get water from a tap or to find sanitary conveniences. Anyone who says that the Welfare Fund of the miners has been fully employed is talking arrant nonsense or deliberately misrepresenting the situation. May I, therefore, ask the Minister whether, in the first place, he is satisfied that the calls upon the fund are really such as to meet the real needs of the miner's welfare, taking his home life into consideration; and whether, in the second place, he will be prepared to recommend that the fund shall contribute to improving the miners' housing conditions?

Some people may say that this is not the business of the Government, but of the mining companies. I beg, with great respect, absolutely to disagree. This country, in the first place, is doing what it can to improve and ameliorate housing conditions. In the second place, there is no colliery that is putting water and sanitation into its houses as a matter of charity, or giving the miner anything in any way. All colliery Members will bear me out when I say that the men have to pay practically full value for everything that is done for their comfort. We are agreed that this money, of which 85 per cent. belongs to the miners and 15 per cent. belongs to the owners, could not be better spent than in improving the miners' conditions. Whatsoever proportion of it is spent on improving sanitation and the conditions of their houses might be set off to the credit of both miners and mineowners. The miner will get his house at less rent than the increased rent that they charge him now, and the owner will be saved capital expenditure proportionately.


The hon. Member is under a misapprehension, for housing was definitely excluded from the principal Act, and his argument can hardly be in order, Mr. Speaker.

Captain RAMSAY

I know, but my point to the Minister is that if he makes any alterations in this Act, the correct alterations are not to reduce money because the Act does not do what it should, but to make the Act do what it should and use the money in doing the proper thing. On that point I should like to say to my right hon. Friend that I hope that if he makes further alterations

in the Bill, he will bear in mind the real need, and not any arbitrary drafting of the Act, and not make the Act his grounds for reducing the contribution, which is already, in the opinion of a great many people, not giving the essentials which are needed for the miners' welfare.

Question put, "That the words 'one halfpenny' stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 272; Noes, 65.

Division No. 158.] AYES. [7.12 p.m.
Acland Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Croom-Johnson, R. P. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Cross, R. H. Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard James, Wing-Corn. A. W. H.
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colonel Charles Dalkeith, Earl of Jesson, Major Thomas E.
Albery, Irving James Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C. Joel, Dudley J. Barnato
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.) Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery) Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Dawson, Sir Philip Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Doran, Edward Kerr, Hamilton W.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Drewe, Cedric Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Duckworth, George A. V. Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel Lambert, Rt. Hon. George
Barrle, Sir Charles Coupar Duggan, Hubert John Latham, Sir Herbert Paul
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Law, Sir Alfred
Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.) Dunglass, Lord Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Blaker, Sir Reginald Eady, George H. Levy, Thomas
Blindell, James Eastwood, John Francis Lewis, Oswald
Boothby, Robert John Graham Edmondson, Major A. J. Liddall, Walter S.
Boulton, W. W. Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey Lindsay, Kenneth Martin (Kilm'rnock)
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Elmley, Viscount Lindsay, Noel Ker
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Emrys-Evans, P. V. Lloyd, Geoffrey
Boyd Carpenter, Sir Archibald Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)
Bracken, Brendan Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Loder, Captain J. de Vere
Brass, Captain Sir William Flelden. Edward Brockiehurst Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.
Broadbent, Colonel John Ford, Sir Patrick J. MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Fox, Sir Gifford MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd, Hexham) Fraser, Captain Ian MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Fuller, Captain A. G. Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)
Buchan, John Gibson, Charles Granville McEwen, Captain J. H. F.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Gillett, Sir George Masterman McKle, John Hamilton
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Glossop, C. W. H. McLean, Major Sir Alan
Butler, Richard Austen Gluckstein, Louis Halle McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C. Macmillan, Maurice Harold
Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly) Goff, Sir Park Macpherson, Rt. Hon. Sir Ian
Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Goldle, Noel B. Macqulsten, Frederick Alexander
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest
Carver, Major William H. Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Castlereagh, Viscount Grenfell, E. C. (City of London) Marsden, Commander Arthur
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Grigg, Sir Edward Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)
Cayzer. Sir Charles (Chester, City) Grimston, R. V. Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J.A. (Birm., W.) Gunston, Captain D. W. Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd S. Chlsw'k)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale
Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.) Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres
Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric Hammersley, Samuel S. Morgan, Robert H.
Christie, James Archibald Hartington, Marquess of Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Hartland, George A. Mulrhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.
Clarke, Frank Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n) Munro, Patrick
Clarry, Reginald George Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Nail-Cain, Hon. Ronald
Clayton, Sir Christopher Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Pctersf'ld)
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. North, Edward T.
Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford) Nunn, William
Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Hepworth, Joseph O'Connor, Terence James
Conant, R. J. E. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Cook, Thomas A. Hore-Belisha, Leslie Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.
Cooke, Douglas Hornby, Frank Palmer, Francis Noel
Cooper, A. Duff Horne, Rt. Hon, Sir Robert S. Patrick, Colin M.
Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Peake, Captain Osbert
Cranborne, Viscount Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Peat, Charles U.
Craven-Ellis, William Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg) Perkins, Walter R. D.
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Hurd, Sir Percy Peters, Dr. Sidney John
Crooke, J. Smedley Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Petherick, M.
Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Pybus, Sir Percy John Shaw, Captain William T. (Fortar) Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B'wlck-on-T.)
Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich) Simmonds, Oliver Edwin Train, John
Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Skelton, Archibald Noel Tree, Ronald
Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Rawson, Sir Cooper Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam) Tufneil, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter) Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.) Turton, Robert Hugh
Reld, James S. C. (Stirling) Smithers, Waldron Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Remer, John R. Somervell, Sir Donald Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Renwick, Major Gustav A. Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East) Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U. Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Rickards, George William Southby, Commander Archibald R. J. Wells, Sydney Richard
Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L. Weymouth, Viscount
Ropner, Colonel L. Spencer, Captain Richard A. Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A. Spens, William Patrick Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde) Wills, Wilfrid D.
Runge, Norah Cecil Stanley, Hon. O. P. G. (Westmorland) Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Stevenson, James Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside) Stones, James Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury) Stourton, Hon. John J. Wise, Alfred R.
Rutherford, John (Edmonton) Strauss, Edward A. Withers, Sir John James
Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l) Strickland, Captain W. F. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Salmon, Sir Isidore Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Worthington, Dr. John V.
Salt, Edward W. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton. Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.
Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Summersby, Charles H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart Sutcliffe, Harold Sir George Penny and Mr.
Savery, Samuel Servington Tate, Mavis Constance Womersley.
Allen, William (Stoke on Trent) Groves, Thomas E. Owen, Major Goronwy
Attlee, Clement Richard Grundy, Thomas W. Paling, Wilfred
Batey, Joseph Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Parkinson, John Allen
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Ztt'nd) Rathbone, Eleanor
Buchanan, George Harris, Sir Percy Rea, Walter Russell
Cape, Thomas Jenkins, Sir William Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Rothschild, James A. de
Cove, William G. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cripps, Sir Stafford Kirkwood, David Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Daggar, George Lawson, John James Thorne, William James
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Leonard, William Tinker, John Joseph
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Logan, David Gilbert Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Joslah
Dickie, John P. Lunn, William White, Henry Graham
Dobble, William McEntee, Valentine L. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Edwards, Charles McKeag, William Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton Wilmot, John
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzle (Banff)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Mander, Geoffrey le M. Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)
George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Martin, Thomas B.
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Maxton, James. Mr. John and Mr. C. Macdonald.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Milner, Major James

I beg to move, in page 1, line 19, at the end, to insert:

"Provided that if at any time during the continuance in force of the principal section as amended by this Act the Board of Trade are satisfied that the conditions in the industry are such as to justify an increase in the sum payable into the fund, they may by order provide that, as from the date of

the order, the sum shall be equal to one penny a ton of the output of the mine, and this sub-section shall have effect as amended by such order."

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 71; Noes, 272.

Division No. 159.] AYES. [7.23 pm.
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Dickie, John P. Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Attlee. Clement Richard Dobbie, William Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)
Batey, Joseph Edwards, Charles Harris, Sir Percy
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)
Buchanan, George Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.) Janner, Barnett
Cape, Thomas Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Jenkins, Sir William
Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
Cove, William G. George, Megan A, Lloyd (Anglesea) Kirkwood, David
Cripps, Sir Stafford Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Lawson, John James
Daggar, George Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Leonard, William
Davits, David L, (Pontypridd) Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Logan, David Gilbert
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Grundy, Thomas W. Lunn, William
Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Paling, Wilfred Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
McEntee, Valentine L. Parkinson, John Allen White, Henry Graham
McKeag, William Pybus, Sir Percy John Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Williams, Dr. John H. (Lianelly)
Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Rathbone, Eleanor Wilmot, John
Magnay, Thomas Rea, Walter Russell Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)
Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot Roberts, Aied (Wrexham) Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzle (Banff)
Mander, Geoffrey le M. Rothschild, James A. de Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Maxton, James. Smith, Tom (Normanton) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Milner, Major James Thorne, William James Mr. John and Mr. Groves.
Owen, Major Goronwy Tinker, John Joseph
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Doran, Edward Lambert, Rt. Hon. George
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Drewe, Cedric Latham, Sir Herbert Paul
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Duckworth, George A. V. Law, Sir Alfred
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colonel Charles Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel Laighton, Major B. E. P.
Albery, Irving James Duggan, Hubert John Levy, Thomas
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.) Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Lewis, Oswald
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Dunglass, Lord Liddall, Walter S.
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Eady, George H. Lindsay, Kenneth Martin (Kilm'rnock)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Eastwood, John Francis Lindsay, Noel Ker
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey Lloyd, Geoffrey
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Elmley, Viscount Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)
Barrle, Sir Charles Coupar Emrys-Evans, P. V. Loder, Captain J. de Vere
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.) Essenhigh, Reginald Clara MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)
Beit, Sir Alfred L. Fleiden, Edward Brocklehurst MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)
Blaker, Sir Reginald Ford, Sir Patrick J. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)
Bilndell, James Fox, Sir Gifford Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)
Boothby, Robert John Graham Fraser, Captain Ian McKie, John Hamilton
Boulton, W. W. Fuller, Captain A. G. McLean, Major Sir Alan
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Gibson, Charles Granville McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Gillett, Sir George Masterman Macmillan, Maurice Harold
Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald Glossop, C. W. H. Macpherson, Rt. Hon. sir Ian
Bracken, Brendan Gluckstein, Louis Haile Macqulsten, Frederick Alexander
Brass, Captain Sir William Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C. Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest
Broadbent, Colonel John Goff, Sir Park Margesson, Capt, Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Goldle, Noel B. Marsden, Commander Arthur
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham) Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.) Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Buchan, John Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Grenfell, E. C. (City of London) Milne, Charles
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Grigg, Sir Edward Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chlsw'k)
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Grimston, R. V. Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale
Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly) Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres
Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Gunston, Captain D. W. Morgan, Robert H.
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Carver, Major William H. Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Mulrhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.
Castiereagh, Viscount Hammersley, Samuel S. Munro, Patrick
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Harbord, Arthur Nail-Cain, Hon. Ronald
Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City) Hartington, Marquess of Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Hartland, George A. Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Birm, W.) Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n) North, Edward T.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Nunn, William
Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.) Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) O'Connor, Terence James
Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofrle Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Christie, James Archibald Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.
Clarke, Frank Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford) Palmer, Francis Noel
Clarry, Reginald George Hepworth, Joseph Patrick, Colin M.
Clayton, Sir Christopher Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Peake, Captain Osbert
Cobb, Sir Cyril Hore-Bellsha, Leslie Peat, Charles U.
Cochrane. Commander Hon. A. D. Hornby, Frank Perkins, Walter R. D.
Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Peters, Dr. Sidney John
Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Horsbrugh, Florence Petherick, M.
Conant, R. J. E. Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.
Cook, Thomas A. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Pybus, Sir Percy John
Cooke, Douglas Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg) Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)
Cooper, A, Duff Hurd, Sir Percy Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Rawson, Sir Cooper
Cranborne, Viscount Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Craven-Ellis, William Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Reld, James S. C. (Stirling)
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Remer, John R.
Crooke, J. Smedley Jesson, Major Thomas E. Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Joel. Dudley J. Boroato Rickards, George William
Cross, R. H. Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan) Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Cruddas. Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Ropner, Colonel L.
Dalkeith, Earl of Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West) Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C. Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.
Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery) Kerr, Hamilton W. Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger Runge, Norah Cecil
Dawson, Sir Philip Lamb, Sir Joseph Quintan Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)
Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L. Turton, Robert Hugh
Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tsids) Spencer, Captain Richard A. Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury) Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H. Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Rutherford, John (Edmonton) Spens, William Patrick Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l) Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Salmon, Sir Isidore Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland) Wells, Sydney Richard
Salt, Edward W. Stevenson, James Weymouth, Viscount
Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham) Stones, James Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart Stourton, Hon. John J. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Savery, Samuel Servington Strauss, Edward A. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. Strickland, Captain W. F. Wills, Wilfrid D.
Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Simmonds, Oliver Edwin Stuart, Lord C. Crichton. Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Skelton, Archibald Noel Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D. Summersby, Charles H. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam) Sutcliffe, Harold Wise, Alfred R.
Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.) Tate, Mavis Constance Withers, Sir John James
Smithers, Waldron Thomson, sir Frederick Charles Worthington, Dr. John V.
Somervell, Sir Donald Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.) Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor) Train, John
Somerville, O. G. (Willesden, East) Tree, Ronald TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement Sir George Penny and Mr.
Southby, Commander Archibald R. J. Tufneil, Lieut.-Commander R. L. Womersley.