§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. BENJAMIN SMITH
I beg to move, in page 26, line 33, to leave out Sub-sections (1) and (2).
861 The obvious effect of the Clause, as it stands, is to take from the Minister of Transport the powers to build and maintain roads and to borrow money on the security of the Road Fund and to hand over the whole of the taxation on motor vehicles and petrol to be used for general taxation purposes—no doubt to be used at some future date for the somewhat grandiose arms policy of the Government. The Minister of Transport under the Roads Improvement Fund Act of 1909 was given the powers to build and maintain roads and to borrow money on the security of the Road Fund. These powers are still held by the Minister, under the Roads Act of 1920, but they have never been exercised either by the Minister of Transport or the Roads Board, obviously, because the Treasury, taking a different view from that of the House of Commons, have steadily prevented the exercise of those powers to which their consent is necessary.
This Clause is a Treasury measure drafted in order to carry out something different from what the House of Commons by resolution has approved, and also to alter the law of the land in a manner which has not been approved by the House of Commons by taking this power from the Minister. Under Sub-section (1) of the Clause the power of the Minister to make advances to or in conjunction with highway authorities is limited. It will have the effect of making expenditure either on new construction or on the maintenance of roads subject to the consent of the Treasury in future, and it seems to me that, as far as the roads are concerned, it will do away with the necessity of having a Minister of Transport at all. The making of new roads will be left entirely in the hands of the Treasury.
The Treasury are taking over in this way a lucrative form of revenue which is growing rapidly. If we take the period of 10 years from 1926 to 1935 we find that the number of omnibuses in use has grown from approximately 40,000 to 47,000, and the number of goods vehicles from approximately 257,000 to 435,000. In the same period, the mileage of classified roads has increased by 11.1 per cent. The number of motor vehicles per mile of classified roads has increased from 34.6 in 1924 to 59.2 in 1935. If we take into account all roads, the user per mile by vehicles has increased from 7.4 to 14.5, or 862 approximately doubled. The Royal Commission on Transport in 1930 recommended that in future two-thirds of the cost of the highways should be borne by the motorists, yet in 1930–31 the motorists paid £40,000,000, or a sum equivalent to the annual cost of the whole highways system. The Salter Commission in their report stated:We consider that the total contribution payable should be equal to the current expenditure on roads. That expenditure is estimated at £60,000,000.The fact is that the present taxation on motor vehicles from all sources, that is motor taxation itself and taxation on petrol, crude oil and lubricating oil and so forth, is equivalent to a sum of £71,149,000 per annum. It has risen to that figure from £55,741,000 since 1932, or an increase of £15,408,000 in five years. All of that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is taking power to incorporate in the general taxation of the country. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) as Chancellor of the Exchequer instituted the Road Fund he gave, for what it was worth, the pledge that the revenue from the taxation on motor vehicles should be used for the sole purpose of creating new roads and maintaining existing roads. It has been my province since to lead one or two deputations to Chancellors of the Exchequer. One of these was received by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) and we were assured by him that no Chancellor could pledge his successor. But at a time when the unemployment figure in the country is so high and when the development of roads is so essential, to take this power from the Minister of Transport and put it into the hands of the Treasury is, we think, a retrograde step by the Government and one which is likely to militate against the efficiency of our road system.
I hope that whoever replies for the Government will indicate what is to be the policy of the Government once they secure control of this fabulous sum—I think it is not too high a description of it—of £71,000,000 per year. Are they going to follow out the policy of increasing the mileage of roads in order to meet the increasing demands of motor traffic? Will they deal with existing roads in such a way as to render them safer both for pedestrians and motorists? Will they 863 maintain the policy which has hitherto been followed by the present Minister of Transport? One is at a loss to understand how the Minister has come to acquiesce so easily in this raid upon his revenue and this removal from him of powers which obviously ought to belong to him. Incidentally, it is curious to notice that the Minister himself should be absent from the Committee on this occasion. I think it is essential for the proper discussion of this matter, involving as it does such large sums of money, that the Minister should be present to speak in defence of his Department. We feel it to be his duty to be present and to take part in the discussion. For the reasons which I have already stated I commend this Amendment to the Committee.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. W. S. MORRISON
The hon. Member for Rotherhithe (Mr. Benjamin Smith) realises, I am sure, that the acceptance of his Amendment would destroy the whole Clause. Though he selects two Sub-sections for execution, the death of those two Sub-sections would destroy the whole structure of the proposal, and indeed the hon. Member's speech showed that that was really his purpose because, as I understand him, he objects entirely to the financial change which is here proposed by the Government. He complained of the absence of the Minister of Transport. The fact is that this Clause does not deal in any way with the policy to be applied to roads or with the duties of the Minister of Transport. It merely makes a financial change in that it provides that in future the revenues of the Road Fund are no longer to be met by the proceeds of certain licence duties but are to be provided out of moneys voted by Parliament. It is therefore, a matter for the Treasury and not a matter which raises large issues of road policy. The hon. Gentleman seemed to feel apprehensive lest this change would remove the power to construct roads which is vested in the Ministry of Transport by the Development and Road Improvement Funds Act, 1909, and I gathered it was in this respect that he feared that the change would involve some curtailment of the powers of the Minister and of his status in regard to this matter. If the hon. Gentleman will look at Sub-section 864 (1, a), he will find that the operative words are:there shall be paid into the fund from time to time out of moneys provided by Parliament such sums as the Minster of Transport may, with the consent of the Treasury—
§ Sir PERCY HARRIS
Why does the hon. and learned Member drop his voice when he says "with the consent of the Treasury"?
§ Mr. MORRISON
If I used a fittingly trivial tone of voice, it was because these words involve no change at all. Treasury consent is necessary at the present moment for the operation of the Road Fund, and this Clause involves no change in the practice. The paragraph goes on:determine to be required for the purpose of making advances to or in conjunction with highway authorities under Section eight of the Development of Road Improvement Funds Act, 1909, and for other purposes of the fund.Those other purposes of the fund include all the purposes of the fund, and the fact that this change is now being made from a separate fund fed from particular taxes to a fund fed by moneys voted by Parliament, involves no change of policy in regard to roads or the actual working of the Road Fund or the Ministry of Transport itself. I do not think that the Committee would take it kindly from me if I were to attempt on this Amendment to rehash the old arguments for this change. No doubt in the course of our discussions on the Clause we shall have an opportunity of bringing in many matters which are considerations of importance in this question. In the meantime, I have tried to answer the arguments of the hon. Gentleman and, as his Amendment would destroy the Clause, I have no option but to refuse it.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
The Financial Secretary said that this change did not alter the running of the fund. Can he explain Sub-section (2), which takes away the power to borrow? That is vital.
§ Mr. MORRISON
That does not at all alter the policy and the working of the fund. The power to borrow as it at present exists is very small, about £200,000 a year. The reason for that provision is that now that the money is to be provided by Votes, the appropriate 865 security for any borrowing will not be the Road Fund, but the Consolidated Fund, and, in so far as borrowing powers are altered by this change, it improves the security.
§ 6.6 p.m.
§ Mr. HERBERT MORRISON
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
I do this because the Committee is faced with an extraordinary situation. It has been the common practice in the House and the Committee, when dealing with matters on the Finance Bill which affect the Ministry of Transport and its work, for the Minister of Transport to be on the Bench with representatives of the Treasury. Often he has been asked by the Government Whip to be in charge of the particular Clause which affects the Ministry. We are now dealing with a matter which not only affects the Minister of Transport, but brings the axe down on the Minister's neck. It affects his control of the Road Fund. We are very glad to have the Financial Secretary to the Treasury with us. He is doing his best and he is a competent expounder of these matters, but it is clear from his rather halting speech that he is not entirely familiar with the operations of the Ministry of Transport. We say that the proposal to abolish the Road Fund, which has existed ever since the Road Development Act of 1909, is clearly a first-class issue of Ministry of Transport policy, and the Minister ought to be here. Presumably, the Minister has been consulted and has acquiesced in this change. If he has—and one must assume that he has—he is jointly responsible with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The Minister of Transport ought to be here with his Parliamentary Secretary, and we say that it is a positive scandal that the Committee should be discussing this Clause with only the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on the Bench. Indeed, the Chancellor ought to be here as well, but no doubt he is fully occupied in conducting the business of the Foreign Office. Are we to understand that the Treasury now, through the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has not only swallowed the Foreign Office, but has swallowed the Ministry of Transport as well? It is elementary courtesy to the Committee and an elementary duty on the part of the Minister of Transport to be here 866 when this vital matter affecting the whole future of his Department and its functions is under discussion. The Committee ought to refuse to go on until the Minister of Transport is here. Therefore, as a protest against this contemptuous attitude to the Committee, I move that the Chairman do report Progress.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
I entirely endorse what the right hon. Gentleman has said. I have vivid memories of many discussions on Clauses in the Finance Bill affecting the Minister of Transport, and it has always been left to the Minister to defend and explain the effect of the increase or reduction of any taxes affecting transport. I am inclined to think that the explanation is very simple, and that there is no mystery about it. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Transport is ashamed of this particular proposal. He has been robbed of his power. He is now going to be tied entirely to the coat-tails of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Money is to be doled out in small sums according to the whim of the Chancellor and to the financial pressure at the Treasury. It is a distinct betrayal of pledges given not only to the House, but to the motor industry. The very least that ordinary common courtesy demands is that the Minister of Transport, who is the responsible Minister, should be in his place to defend his submission to this direct attack on his Department.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ Mr. BEVAN
On no single occasion when this matter has been discussed do I remember seeing the Minister of Transport on the Front Bench. We have had several discussions on it. We had a general discussion, in which I had the honour to take part, on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill. We had discussions on the Resolutions before that, and on no occasion was the Minister present on the Front Bench. This is not treating the Committee with respect. If the contention is that it is not necessary for the Minister of Transport to be present because this is purely a Treasury matter, it is answered, not by the Amendment before the Committee, but by the last paragraph in the Clause, which surely demands that the Minister be present. Under that paragraph it is proposed to transfer to the Treasury a sum of money 867 which is outstanding on the Road Fund. We want to know from the Minister of Transport why that surplus is on the fund at all. Are we not entitled to ask him? He was asked on a previous occasion when he was not here to answer the question. The Liberal National Members ought to raise their voices in support of their champion. [Interruption.]
I am very glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman has now appeared. It would have been much more graceful if he had come voluntarily and had not been dragged here reluctantly by the Motion to report Progress. However, I do not suppose that my right hon. Friend now proposes to press his Motion. We will leave the matter where it is in order that we may get on to the much more important matter of discussing the Amendments to the Clause. I have noticed expressions of apprehension on the faces of the right hon. Gentleman's immediate supporters. He will be expected to provide some justification for his election to the chairmanship of that section of the Government's supporters. The first chairman has passed by the way, and the right hon. Gentleman is now in the ascendant in the councils of his party. That is easy for him because there are not many of them and, such as they are, they are not very eminent. Nevertheless, we are expecting to hear from him the reason why, although there has been clamour all over the country for new roads, although there has been a heavy casualty list on the roads, he nevertheless finds himself with this nest-egg which the Chancellor can raid at the end of the year. I can assure him that not only this Committee but the country will be listening anxiously for his explanation this evening.
§ Mr. H. MORRISON
I am sure that both the Minister of Transport and the Parliamentary Secretary were gratified by the unusually cordial reception they met with on entering the House, and as the purpose of my Motion has now been achieved, and they have bowed to the will of the Committee, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word 'and', in line 38, stand part of the Clause."868
§ 6.16 p.m.
Miss LLOYD GEORGE
We have been told this afternoon that the change to be undertaken is purely a financial change and will not affect the road policy in the very slightest, but I think most hon. Members who listened to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and noticed that very significant chopping of the voice of which he was guilty, will have realised the significance of it. The Chancellor said some time ago that there was no longer the same necessity that there was in the early days of motor traffic to remind the public of the need for new roads. Unfortunately, that is only too true. The number of accidents and casualties is a very grim and ever present reminder of that need. It is almost incredible that during the last 10 years the number killed and injured on the roads of this country was in the neighbourhood of 2,000,000, only 500,000 less than the numbers from this country killed and injured in the Great War; and there seems very little indication from this year's figures of any substantial improvement in those casualty lists. I believe the figures for the last Whitsun holiday were slightly higher than last year's, and that the figures for the first 23 weeks of this year arc 2 per cent. higher than for the first 23 weeks of last year, and this in spite of the fact that the Minister has been making unprecedented efforts and has been facing the situation with a courage which I think most hon. Members greatly admire.
This is the very moment, when the figures are showing no substantial improvement, that the Chancellor has chosen not to raid but to ransack the Road Fund. We are told that great concern is felt at the Ministry of Transport, and we can well believe it, because this problem is responding so slowly to the very many efforts made to solve it. We have been told the reasons for the high accident rate, but I do not believe that sufficient emphasis has been laid upon the road factor. It is obvious that this must play an enormous part. Think of the increase in the number of motor cars. In 1909, when the Road Fund was first started, motor vehicles numbered about 143,000. In 1935 there were 2,500,000, and yet the road system of this country is substantially the same. It may be said that a great deal of money has been spent on the roads, and that is true, but I still say that the road system is substantially 869 the same, because we, cannot say that we have constructed a new road system, as they have in Italy, in Germany and in America, to cope with this new traffic.
The roads of this country were never meant to carry vehicles going at 40 to 60 miles an hour, or to carry that very large proportion of heavy traffic which used to go by rail and now goes by road. When people talk of the money spent on the roads they forget what a very high percentage of it goes for maintenance simply. It is something like £31,000,000 this year; and the expenditure has been more or less at that rate for several years past. We have been told by the Royal Commission on Traffic that the cost of maintaining old roads is considerably greater than that of maintaining new roads which have been built for modern traffic on solid foundations.
In the Road Fund there is a revenue which was specifically raised for the purpose of making and maintaining a road system capable of carrying this new traffic, but that revenue is now to go into the common national fund. We are told that we need not feel concern about that, that it is only a financial change, and that all that can happen is that the money available will now be limited only by the will of Parliament. That is what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said. I think we may as well say quite honestly that for the next year or two at any rate the money will be limited by the will of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whatever the position he then happens to occupy. What is his attitude likely to be on this problem? I will quote what he said, because he always makes his attitude perfectly plain not only to himself and his colleagues but to the country.
I do not subscribe to the theory that you can measure the safety of roads by the amount of money you spend on them. The proof of that is to be found in the fact that the more that has been spent on roads the larger has been the number of accidents.I suppose the more we allow the roads to fall into disrepair the fewer accidents there will be. He comes to this astonishing conclusion:If you make more roads you make more opportunities for accidents."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th April, 1936; col. 788, Vol. 311.]The Chancellor has evidently changed his mind since last year, because he then 870 said "I do not deny that by the expenditure of money you may perhaps increase safety on the roads." Evidently there has been a very great change of attitude, and I wonder what has occasioned it. I am rather inclined to think it is the enormous liability we are about to under take in respect of armaments. The Chancellor said that Parliament will vote all the money that is necessary and that the Road Fund will not suffer in any way from the taking away of the £5,250,000, because that money could not be spent any way. I am delighted that the Minister of Transport is now in his place, because I am hopeful that he will confirm in every particular that statement of the Chancellor and, indeed, I challenge him to do so. It will be very reassuring to us if he does; but is the Minister honestly prepared to say that if some of that so-called surplus were spent on widening main roads—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
I would point out that the Amendment now before the Committee does not affect the £5,250,000.
Miss LLOYD GEORGE
I bow to your Ruling; but I would put this further point. The Minister has launched a national safety campaign. He has asked every county to submit to him plans for a safety campaign. In December of last year I think 20 county councils in rural or semi-rural counties asked the Ministry of Transport for a retention of their percentage grants from the Road Fund because they could not undertake their part in this safety campaign unless they got further assistance from the Road Fund. Indeed, they said they could not undertake the programme which was essential if their roads were to be brought up to the minimum status of national safety prescribed by the Minister of Transport himself. The Minister received a deputation from those 20 county councils. I cannot say that he was very sympathetic, but I can say that he was very receptive, and there is a world of difference between those two attitudes.
I think he was evidently impressed by the case made by the county councils, because when a few months later they again approached him he said he would be prepared to receive a deputation. I do not think that was an empty invitation, because he asked them to provide him with a detailed statement of the expenditure 871 involved in works of improvement and construction which they considered should be undertaken. It is interesting that he asked for all these details. He said he wanted it, "in order that the deputation may produce the very best results." That was in April, before the Budget. After the Budget, when the counties were waiting for the date for the deputation to be fixed, they received a letter from the Minister saying that the Government had come to the conclusion that it would not be possible to give any further assistance, and that it was very little use the deputation coming up at all. I do not think the Minister would have asked the county councils to go to all that trouble to provide detailed information if he really had proposed to turn them down. I am not prepared to think that he would treat local authorities in that way. But there was definitely a great change in the attitude of the Minister between those two dates, and I can only think that the one thing that made him alter his mind was that in the interval the Budget had been introduced.
What is the position of those 20 counties to-day? Six of them say that it will be absolutely impossible for them to proceed with the improvements they must undertake if they are to conform to the minimum safety standard set up by the Minister, unless they are given a larger grant. Three counties say they cannot undertake them at present, if ever. It is not that those counties are not anxious to co-operate. Of course they are anxious to do so, but they are totally unable to do so; their burdens are far too heavy. In many cases the highway rates are intolerably heavy. This will mean serious gaps in the national safety programme. There will be black areas. Some of those black areas are in rural counties, but they are also holiday centres, where there is a great congestion of traffic in that peak time of accidents, the holiday season. I could quote one example in the 20 counties, and hon. Members could quote many other examples of places where new roads, wider roads, are urgently needed, and it is fantastic to say that if the money were there it could not be usefully spent. I hope very much that the Chancellor, under pressure from the Minister, will relent and alter his mind upon this most vital and important matter.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Captain Sir WILLIAM BRASS
I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport has appeared upon the Treasury Bench, because he might be able to explain to us exactly what the future provision will be for the roads of this country. I was disappointed when the Financial Secretary told us that things were not going to alter as a result of what has been done. There is a certain amount of apprehension in the country that the road system may be starved in the future. I hope that the Minister will explain what is going to happen, now that the Road Fund is to disappear. Whenever new developments have been required on the roads, such as new bridges to be built or roads enlarged, the Ministry of Transport, before being able to give grants to local authorities, has had to go to the Treasury for consent. I hope that what my hon. and learned Friend said just now is not correct.
I hope, as a result of the action of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that in future the Minister of Transport will be able to produce Estimates, and a proper road programme which he has worked out at the Ministry of Transport for the whole year, in exactly the same way as the Admiralty Department comes to the House with a programme and Estimates for the future. The Admiralty do not have to go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and say that they want to build a new battleship, and the Chancellor does not turn round and say that they can build only a submarine or a destroyer. That is what happens at the present time with the Ministry of Transport. If the Treasury have considered that the grants asked for by the Ministry of Transport are too much, they have not allowed the Ministry to do what they wanted to do in the way of road improvement. I hope that in the future the Minister of Transport will be able to come to the House in the same way as any other Department, and submit his Estimates and a programme for the year, and that we may have some arrangement whereby the roads of the country will be improved, not only from the point of view of traffic but from that of safety, as the hon. Lady has just said.
All the main roads of the country should be national roads. They should 873 be taken over by the Ministry of Transport and paid for and improved by the Ministry through the Treasury. The programme for their development should be worked out by the Ministry of Transport, and a grant in toto given to the Ministry in order that that development might take place. That is a point with which I think the Minister of Transport might deal when he is explaining exactly what his future position will be as Minister of Transport vis-à-vis the present position with regard to the Treasury.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Mr. EDE
I hoped that the Minister of Transport would have responded to the evident desire of the Committee that he should take part in the discussion. I do not think that anyone, other than the Minister of Transport, knows exactly what he will be in the resurrection. We understand that there is to be a resurrection, and he may take on a more glorified body than has hitherto adorned him. Noticing his absence from the House for so long, I was not at all sure that he was not entering into some more exalted position in the Government that now happens to be vacant. The President of the Board of Trade said the other day that all Members of a party had a past, but I rather gather that the Minister of Transport is more concerned about the future. When one thinks about the past of some Members of the Government, perhaps it is as well to draw a decent veil over it.
One quite realises the poignancy with which the hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) spoke, because she and this fund are children of the same father, and it well became her to shed a sisterly tear over the grave of our late departed friend. I can only hope that some of the merits she ascribed to him will be present in the mind of the Minister when he replies. Unlike most of the merits ascribed to the dead on the tombstones, these are true as well as eulogistic.
I desire to put to the Minister the point of view of the local authorities with regard to this matter. Hitherto, we have regarded the Road Fund as a sort of measure of the minimum available from national resources for our transactions during any given period. If this fund vanishes, we have no such assurance with regard to the future. It is true that there is a slight surplus in the fund 874 which attracted the Chancellor's attention to the anomaly of the fund's existence, but, on the whole, the local authorities have regarded the fund as the measure of the resources that were available for them. The fund has had the great advantage as an indicator that it has grown with the volume of the work that it has had to discharge. That volume has now so increased that a great deal of the money that was spent a few years ago has produced works that are hardly adequate for present purposes.
The other night, the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Strauss) said a few unkind words about a child of my own, the Kingston By-pass Road. I gather that it is not now regarded with very great favour by those who travel along it. I come along it fairly frequently myself, and I always thank God when I have got to the farther end of it without disaster. It is only a case of a good child who has turned out rather badly, owing to having excessive burdens placed upon his concrete conscience. Now, with the aid of the Minister of Transport, we have started on the task of transforming his whole character by giving him a dual road track. That will bring him back again into favour with those who have to use the road. That is true not only of that road, but of a good many of the roads which were regarded a few years ago as the last word in road construction. We have recently passed the Ribbon Development Act, and that again will throw a heavy burden upon national resources for the smooth movement of traffic. We cannot expect a good many of the areas which will have to operate that Act to be prepared to use it with great effect, unless they are encouraged to do so by the Minister.
I have recently been in Scotland, and I have been appalled by the way in which the new by-pass roads and arterial roads, especially the one from Edinburgh to Glasgow, are being destroyed as traffic routes by the indiscriminate growth of ribbon development. Closely adjoining Edinburgh there is a series of bungalows placed by the side of that great road, and each has a motor garage, larger, in some cases, than the bungalow. What the state of traffic on these roads will be, on whatever day of the week it is that the Financial Secretary and his Sabbatarian friends allow the Scotsmen to go on it for pleasure purposes in a 875 motor car, I cannot contemplate, when we remember the situation on some of the English roads on Sunday morning.
All these matters are engaging the earnest and anxious attention of the great highway authorities from one end of the country to the other. We are now faced with the fact that, as far as we can gather from this Clause of the Bill, and the two Sub-sections whose omission my hon. Friend has moved, we shall have to depend upon an annual statement in the Budget to know what we shall have available for us. We have been asked by the Minister of Transport to submit a five-year programme. That was part of a great scheme at the General Election, thought of just before the nation went to the poll. Now the fund from which we expected that great scheme would be financed, is wiped out. Local authorities have had bitter experience of sudden changes of policy after they have been asked to set their hands to extended programmes of public works. In 1931, local authorities were left with the problem of settling the contracts into which they had entered for land, and they were unable to get any contribution from the Treasury towards a final settlement of those claims.
I hope that the Minister of Transport will explain to us that all is well in his Department in respect of the proposed scheme, and that the local authorities may rest assured that they will have as easy an access to him as in the past, and his specific assurances for being able to carry out the long-term programmes which they have been led to think during the past few weeks were possible. We can hardly expect the Minister to get up and tell us that something which takes power away from him is an improvement upon the scheme which left him master in his own household, and I could not expect the Minister of Transport, of all people, to say that. I hope that he will be able to reassure the great local authorities of the country, the county and county borough councils, that, in the proposed rearrangement, their five-year programme is absolutely secure and that they lose no assurances; and that both the Minister and his successor will see that it is necessary to fight the Treasury to ensure that arrangements 876 which were entered into under the old status of the Ministry shall be carried out in the new conditions.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Mr. Hore-Belisha)
I respond at once to the invitation of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), and give to the local authorities throughout the country the assurance for which he asks. When I entered the House of Commons and received such a warm reception, it was being explained to me by my hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) that I was the victim of an assassination. If that were a true construction of the procedure, my hon. Friend ought to have been satisfied with my absence, because it is not usual for those who are the victims of assassination to explain why they have had their throats cut. That is a duty which sometimes falls upon the slayer. In point of fact, however, the position is different. My hon. Friend made a speech which was a complaint of the present procedure. She related how local authorities were not getting all that they might expect under the existing system. If that be so, my hon. Friend ought to be the last to complain that a change is being made. All that is happening is that a democratic control of the Road Fund—which, I would remind my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Sir W. Brass), is not being abolished—is being established.
An Estimate containing every possible detail that it can contain will be presented to Parliament. It will contain particulars of maintenance grants, of improvement grants, and all those miscellaneous particulars which are capable of being included in an Estimate of this kind. In the result, the hon. Lady's eloquence, which under the present system does not suffice to get any increased amount of money, will be powerful, on the occasion of the discussion of the Estimates, to secure that the will of Parliament shall prevail, and it will be possible for the views of Anglesey, as of every other constituency in the country, to be laid frankly before the House and to have their usual effect. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I personally have no complaint whatever to make of the change of procedure; in 877 fact, I say to the Committee that I think I shall be better off under the new procedure. My Vote will be in exactly the same position as every other Vote in a democratic Constitution, and it will be for the House of Commons to determine what shall be done in the future with regard to the roads. But I have an advantage over all other Departments, for I have a guarantee, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given to the House, that the five-year programme will in no sense be restricted. It happens to be the biggest programme that has ever been submitted in respect of a similar period; the submissions total over £100,000,000. Whereas, therefore, I am now restricted by revenue, in future the revenue will no longer be a restriction upon me, but only the will of Parliament itself.
§ Captain STRICKLAND
If the House should not consider that enough money is being provided for the roads in any one year, will it be within the power of the House to ask for an increased Vote on the Estimate?
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
The ordinary procedure will prevail. An Estimate will be laid before Parliament, and hon. Members will express their views upon that Estimate. Under the present system they have no opportunity of doing that. If there should be a unanimous desire on the part of the House that the resources of the country should be granted in greater measure for the purposes of the roads, the Government, with their usual sensitiveness to public opinion, will take note of that desire. Under the present system there is no opportunity at all for hon. Members to discuss the Road Fund Estimate.
§ Sir W. BRASS
Will the Minister in future, as at present, have to submit to the Treasury all the little separate things for which he wants grants, or will he in the future, as I suggested in the course of my remarks, be able to do the whole thing over a year, and make a proper plan at the Ministry of Transport?
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
Every existing Government Department is under the control of the Treasury. I am under the control of the Treasury now. I cannot embark on my own initiative, subject to no control whatever, on vast schemes of 878 expenditure. I have to obtain the consent of the Treasury to the main lines of my expenditure, but certain limits of latitude—and I do not suppose there will be any change in this position—are allowed to the Minister of Transport in the expenditure of money. I have not suffered from any unnecessary or unreasonable restrictions by the Treasury; they have allowed me a very considerable latitude. In theory, every Minister is subject to the Treasury, and in practice also, within such limits as the Chancellor of the Exchequer lays down. There will be no change. My hon. Friend seems to think that for every halfpenny I have to spend on road schemes I have to go to the Treasury, but that is not the case. The Chancellor of the Exchequer limits me on broad lines of expenditure, and any unusual demand is, of course, submitted to the Treasury.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
Of course, one would go to the Treasury on matters of an unusual character, but there are certain broad limits of expenditure which are allowed to me. Of course one goes to the Treasury for matters outside those limits, and that procedure will continue. That is the case with every Government Department. No Minister has the right to spend money without Government control, and I could not conscientiously claim to be put in that position. On the whole, I shall be better off, and I would like local authorities to be assured—and this is the assurance I was asked to give—that they will not be restricted under the new procedure any more than they have been restricted under the old. In fact, they are more fortunate to-day than they have ever been within living memory, because they have been invited to submit their plans under the five-year programme, and no reasonable claim which has been justified on merits has been rejected. They may be reassured that there will be no restraint upon them within the limits of the five-year programme. I hope, therefore, that the House will be satisfied, as I am satisfied, that the new procedure is an improvement on the old, and ought to receive the approval of a democratic assembly.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. H. MORRISON
Could the Minister tell us, for the guidance of the Committee, where the power of the 879 Minister himself to build roads survives in this Clause, because we are not at all clear about it? Indeed, we are informed that it is in fact repealed.
§ Mr. W. S. MORRISON
Sub-section (1, a) of Clause 27 says:there shall be paid into the Fund from time to time out of moneys provided by Parliament such sums as the Minister of Transport may, with the consent of the Treasury, determine to be required for the purpose of making advances to or in conjunction with highway authorities under section eight of the Development and Road Improvement Funds Act, 1909"—
§ Mr. BENJAMIN SMITH
That is not the question that my right hon. Friend submitted. The question is whether the power of the Minister himself to build roads under the new scheme has not been taken away.
§ Mr. MORRISON
The hon. Member was just a little too quick. The words which are relevant, and which answer the question, are those just short of which he stopped me:and for other purposes of the Fund.
§ Mr. H. MORRISON
I am bound to say that we are not clear about this business of the Minister being able to build roads. There was a specific provision in Section 8 of the Development and Road Improvement Act, 1909, where Sub-section (1) reads as follows:The Road Fund shall have power, with the approval of the Treasury.…(b) to construct and maintain any new roads.We are not satisfied that that power survives in Clause 27 of the present Bill. To suggest that the words "for other purposes of the fund" would include an important point of positive policy that had been laid down by Parliament seems to us to leave the situation in the greatest doubt. Consequently, we would like the Government to consider, between now and Report, whether that power is really covered, and, if not, whether they will bring forward an Amendment with a view to providing specifically that that power shall survive.
It may be that the Government do not themselves intend to build roads, and it is not certain that any other Government will wish to do so, but it is highly likely that some Government, taking the view 880 of the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Sir W. Brass), who considers that national through roads should be maintained directly by the State, as is done in certain other countries, might wish to do it, and it is of the greatest importance that the House should not part with this Clause or the Bill unless it is satisfied that the Minister of Transport of the day will retain freedom to do that. He might wish to do it on the rather big scale proposed by the hon. Member for Clitheroe, or he might wish to do it as an experiment, or he might have to deal with a very "sticky" local authority that was not doing its duty, and might wish to penalise it by withdrawing part of its grants and to build the road out of the money he had withdrawn from the local authority for not properly discharging its highway functions. It would be a pity if the Minister were weakened in negotiating with local authorities as to what they should do on the one hand, and, on the other hand, it would be a pity if the Minister's power to build were withdrawn, in case either this or some other Minister should wish, either on grounds of general policy such as those advanced by the hon. Member for Clitheroe, or as an experiment, to build directly.
At any rate, it appears perfectly clear that the borrowing powers of the Minister are explicitly repealed by the Clause, and again I cannot understand why the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in framing the Bill, should wish to withdraw a permissive power which might be available to the Minister in certain circumstances. I am not an enthusiast for borrowing for the sake of borrowing. My dislike of the capitalist system and its attendant usury is so firmly implanted in me that I grudge every penny of interest that is paid to any financier. But we are living in a world that is far from perfect, and there might be circumstances in which, to deal with an acute issue of unemployment, or for the purposes of big and urgent road improvement schemes that were beyond the immediate capacity of the fund—or of the revenue, because the fund is now gone—it might be desirable to borrow. It is clear from the Clause that that power of the Minister to borrow is specifically repealed, and, as far as we can see, there is no substituted power whereby the Minister may have the advantage of using the fund.
881 There is another minor repeal which is covered by these Sub-sections, and which is mentioned in Part I of the Third Schedule to the Bill. The various specific purposes for which moneys may be paid out of the Road Fund are recapitulated in the Schedule, including the rather curious position whereby the national fund is used for expenses connected with the control of London traffic. The reason is that the Minister has preferred to make London a Crown Colony in this respect, and national funds must pay the price. In the Third Schedule, paragraph 3, an exception is made:but not including such expenses incurred in disseminating knowledge or otherwise informing the minds of the people with a view to promoting safety on roads as are referred to in Sub-section (1) of the said Section 115.The Committee will observe the charming language used in this paragraph. The language is my own, torn from the context of the 1930 Act. I was charmed when I got past the Parliamentary draftsman and incorporated in a sober British Act of Parliament the words "disseminating knowledge or otherwise informing the mind of the people." It is true that the powers were restricted to keeping them safe on the King's Highway. But why should that power be repealed? I know the Chancellor is tight for money. He is collaring all the money he can for the purposes of destruction. But this costs very little. I am not sure that it has cost anything so far, because the Minister has not availed himself of this provision. But surely in relation to injuries and fatalities on the King's Highway powers should be retained whereby money should be available to the Government in order that they may spend money in disseminating knowledge or otherwise informing the minds of the people with a view to promoting the safety of the roads. Either directly or through the National Safety First Council that power should be retained. I know the Minister's difficulties. He is only a Liberal member of the Government, and has to behave himself, but I am surprised that even a subordinate Liberal Member of the Government should have so capitulated that that power should have been repealed.
§ Mr. MORRISON
It looks so to me in this Schedule, which sets out the purposes for which expenses may be met out of moneys provided by Parliament, and at the end says: "but not including such expenses" etc. I may have made a mistake, but I cannot see that I have. I have no doubt that the Chancellor, with his closer knowledge of this Bill, may be able to prove that I am wrong. If he can show that the power survives somewhere else, that may be the case. The Minister of Transport pleaded for the big change in the name of democracy. We are always pleased to hear the Government's adherence to these principles, but we cannot see that this is an improvement from the point of view of democratic control.
As the Road Fund existed, it was collected from the users of the highways for a certain purpose. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) when he inaugurated the Road Fund, did it on the basis that motor transport had increased the cost of maintaining and constructing highways, and he said to the users of motor vehicles that it was fair and proper that they should be specially singled out for taxation in order that these additional costs might be met by the local authorities and the State might be in a position to make grants to the local authorities. He did it not so much as a favour to the users of motor vehicles, but as a justification for singling them out for a special form of taxation. He said it was true that in certain respects this was a new principle, but in return for it he would give them better highways, and the money should be used specifically for the construction of new highways and the maintenance of highways in good condition. That pledge was given repeatedly.
It has been the case that the Treasury have held the view ever since that the quasi-autonomous position of this fund was constitutionally wrong, and they wanted to get hold of the revenues of the fund so that they could play ducks and drakes with it, as they can with taxation on beer, tea and tobacco, the Income Tax and so on. They wanted to get it under their control, but so long as there was a special fund on the basis that the users of motor transport were providing the money, the motor transport people had a prima facie claim on 883 the fund. It was not always worth much, because by pressure on the Minister in Governments other than the Labour Government, the Minister could be persuaded to put on the brakes, and then when there had been an accumulation of money in the fund the Treasury swooped on it and cleared the surplus. The right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) did it first. It was done later by another Chancellor. The present Chancellor has done it with great vigour. The Minister of Transport has acquiesced every time, and is doing so now.
So long as there was a special fund for which there was special statutory provision, the bargaining power of the Minister of Transport was infinitely stronger than it would have been if it had been ordinary revenue going into the general Exchequer pool. Whenever a Chancellor raided the Road Fund he had to do it as a specific operation. He had to try to defend himself, and he had to show cause why the fund should be raided. Consequently, the Minister of Transport was in a stronger position as the protector of that fund. We have seen the Treasury acquire £5,000,000 a year out of the fund as a theoretical luxury element in motor taxation. That was a technical breach of the promises of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. It is bad enough for the right hon. Member to break his own promises, but it is perhaps worse for other people to break his promises for him. For the purposes of future use I withdraw that at once. It was a purely theoretical consideration that £5,000,000 was a luxury element in motor taxation. The Treasury wanted the £5,000,000 first and found the reasons afterwards. To that extent money which was raised for the repair, maintenance and improvements of highways and bridges was diverted from that purpose and used for the purposes of general revenue.
I am surprised that the Minister of Transport should say that this process is democracy, and that he is in a stronger position than he was before. The motor taxation duties are collected by the counties and county boroughs. They will come to the Treasury and stay there. They do not go back into the Road Fund. When the Budget is being prepared the Chancellor has to decide how much money shall be allocated for the purpose of maintaining, improving and constructing 884 highways and bridges. I have no doubt that he will consult with the Minister of Transport and will say "How much do you want?" The Minister will say, "So much." Then what happens? What happens to the President of the Board of Education. He says to the Chancellor that he wants so much, and the Chancellor says, "I am sorry you cannot have it."
I am not grumbling. If the Chancellor was drawn from this side of the House he would have to say the same to a lot of people. Then the bargaining starts and at the end of the day the Chancellor says, "You can have so much and no more." If the President likes he can go to the Cabinet and have an argument about it, but before he goes he can work out his chances of beating the Chancellor. The Chancellor is going to win every time, and the Minister of Transport will have to take what the Chancellor will give him. He will have no moral authority to argue that so much came into the Road Fund and the onus is on the Chancellor to prove why he should take so much out of it. That is the position. In the one case he is the guardian of a fund which is set up by Statute, and the Chancellor has to make a case for raiding the fund. In the new circumstances the Chancellor has the money and the Minister goes as a supplicant, asking for as much as he can get. The Chancellor is the top dog, and he means to be the top dog over the Minister of Transport, the Foreign Secretary and everybody else he can. It is no good obscuring the point. It is for the purpose of putting the Road Fund more meticulously and carefully under the control of the Treasury. I do not deny that whenever the Minister of Transport, in this Government or in our own, wanted to spend substantial sums out of the Road Fund he had to go to the Treasury each time. I got on very well with the Treasury—I have no bias or bitterness—till the crisis came; but it is a totally different matter when you are going for sums which are part of the general Exchequer, part of the general funds of the Chancellor, where you have to make your case for the money far more severely than you would in other circumstances, instead of the Chancellor having to make a case why he could raid the fund. This is a very big and serious change. It is a departure from the policy which the House has upheld ever since 1909.
885 The proposal is regarded with much apprehension by all those concerned with motor manufacture and the use of motor vehicles. The Government cannot make concessions easily on financial Measures, and the Whips are usually active in maintaining the majority on all these things, but this is a weakening of the rights of the motoring community and a weakening of the status and position of the Minister of Transport. The motor and transport world is worried and apprehensive about it, and I think they have every right to be. I beg hon. Members opposite to remember that it is mostly Conservative voters that they are upsetting, that it is their own friends who are greatly concerned about it, and they ought to pause before they let the Government get away with this. It is true that the Minister has his five-year programme, and it may go on. I am not sure that the programme in the aggregate is a bigger one than mine in my more limited period of office. He has his five-year programme, but there were five-year programmes before the Labour Government and, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer wanted the money, he did not hesitate to interrupt them. The right hon. Gentleman has learned by now that, if in the middle of his five-year programme the present Chancellor is still in office and wants the money, he will take it. He will not worry about inconveniencing the right hon. Gentleman. So there is no guarantee whatever that the five-year programme will go on, and there is less guarantee after this change is made than before. For these reasons, and in these circumstances, I hope the Committee will support us in the omission of these two Sub-sections.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ Captain STRICKLAND
I think it came to the Committee as a surprise when the Financial Secretary to the Treasury announced, with all the solemnity of which he is capable, that the passing of this Clause would make no difference to the Minister of Transport. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has, not for the first time, stood up for the motor industry and road users in the way that has gained him the respect of transport users, who have regarded him as a friend of their cause. We on this side are somewhat in a difficulty with regard to any opposition that we could offer to the passing of these 886 Sub-sections, because I think it is fundamentally sound that the Road Fund, as it existed, and in all the circumstances in which it was created, and for the special circumstances from which it was created, was an anomaly in our taxation, and the Chancellor has done the right thing to incorporate the whole of the taxation under his own wing. For that reason alone I shall give my support, representing, as I hope I do to some degree, the transport users of the country, to the passing of these Sub-sections into law.
But when the Financial Secretary to the Treasury says it makes no difference to the standing of the Road Fund, I part company with him. I think it makes a very considerable difference both to the Minister of Transport and to the Road Fund itself. We are brought right up to this fundamental fact that, whereas when the Road Fund was formed there was a specific case for placing a special form of taxation on one particular form of industry for a purpose which would be for the benefit of that industry, when you cease to absorb that amount of money into the fund for that purpose and place it under the general Exchequer, you are brought face to face with the answer that must be given, an answer with which, I hope, the Chancellor will deal in his reply. Why should special taxation be imposed any longer on road transport? In the old days when we wanted roads, and wanted money to be devoted to the roads, as we all thought it was going to be, the road transport user was content—I do not say that anyone is ever too willing to pay taxation, but he was content to bear more than his share of his upkeep of the roads because he knew that he was imposing burden on his fellow-citizens which was unfair and inequitable as long as the roads needed the money.
Now we are parting with the Road Fund as such, and it is only a quibble to say it is still in existence. It is now only the name of an office. It is only some depot through which the benevolence of the Chancellor can flow. It may be true that the Ministry of Transport is to be the cashier who does the actual paying of it, but it is only the channel now, and no longer the main principle of the taxation. If it is right in principle to tax transport as a luxury, as something to be specially picked out, 887 I claim that there has to be a reorientation of taxation so that all forms of transport shall be taxed equally for the general purposes of the Exchequer, and no longer shall the anomaly be continued by which road transport has to pay out of its pocket to subsidise its rival, to help it to lower the charges on its goods and destroy the road transport industry. That is one of the great differences that the passing of these Subsections is going to make.
There is another thing which is very serious and which constitutes a very grave difficulty. The Minister of Transport told us that the Estimates would be laid on the Table, that the whole power of the House would be unfettered and that, if the House wanted £50,000,000 for roads, it could have it. Can it? If money is wanted for the building of schools or any other purpose the Chancellor says, "We cannot possibly put anything more on Income Tax." He will say to the Minister of Transport, "Instead of £50,000,000, you will have to take £25,000,000," and the Minister's Estimate is £25,000,000, and the House says, "No, it is essential for the safety of our roads and the welfare of our transport system that £50,000,000 should be paid." When we have the assurance that the House is to have full control of the road programme, it is not true because if the House wants to raise the £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 to £50,000,000, it is not within its province to do it. It has no power to spend the additional sum on the roads which it knows so well that it wants. That is another essential difference in the change over of the Road Fund that is taking place, because, before, the Minister could bring the programme before the House and outline what he was going to do and the House could say, "This is not enough. We want a new road from London to Portsmouth to relieve traffic and make the roads safer," and we could have debated it. That power now passes, unless we try to get rid of the Minister of Transport by reducing his salary on his own Vote. That is why it is not true to say that the position is not altered by the passing of these Sub-sections.
I was delighted, as I am sure many on both sides of the Committee were, to hear that we were to have as full an estimate as possible of the manner in 888 which the money was to be spent. That will be a great advantage. It will be an improvement on the past. How many Members are in possession of any clear information of what the five-year plan means? How many of us know to what extent the Exchequer is going to be committed with regard to the five-year plan? One feels very much this constant niggling process of dealing with this highway authority and that, bargaining here and bargaining there and missing the great purpose of what is wanted, as was pointed out by the hon. Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George), great main roads to take the traffic that is passing on them, not for the benefit solely of those who organise motor transport but for the benefit of every man, woman and child, the great main roads which should be being built now, but which are not being built. We might just as well say that the whole of the money that we have spent on Belisha beacons, safety crossings, signs and warnings has been utterly wasted, because casualties have not dropped to any appreciable extent. Indeed, those who know the roads and know the difficulties and dangers of driving know that, with an active practical motorist at the head of affairs, many of the signs could easily be abolished, including the very latest, the "Major Road Ahead. Halt" sign, which will lead to disaster after disaster. I hope the time will not come when the Minister, who assures us that he is satisfied that he is in no inferior position will feel convinced that he is shorn of the power that he has had in the past by the passing of these Sub-sections.
This position can be remedied to a great extent. If we have, as we ought to have, the sympathy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a real, determined attempt to spare the utmost that he can to make our roads fit the traffic and not our traffic fit the roads, to institute a system of highways under some central board which can co-ordinate the existing loose items that we see existing in all the petty local authorities dotted over the country into one great scheme, which is going to cost a tremendous lot of money, but which will repay itself time and time again by our roads becoming safer; if he is prepared to deal with the roads, not because of the amount of money that they will cost, but will remember the pledge given to the motor industry that this fund 889 should be used only for the roads; if he is prepared to go on with this programme, realising that he is not drawing the money from the general body of the people of this country; but from one particular source; if he is prepared to spend that money in the way in which it should be spent, I do not think we shall regret the handing over of the Road Fund to and the collection of the taxation by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But if he sets his face against this great improvement, and if he is niggardly in the grants that he is prepared to make and hampers the work of the Minister of Transport, I am sure that this House, irrespective of party, will rise and condemn him for his parsimony. If you were to look around the country to-day, at the Home Office, the Foreign Office, and other offices, so far as they affect this country, I doubt whether you could find any more important subject than that of our road transport, the safety of the roads, affecting as it does the lives, the happiness, and the security of our people. I think the office of the Minister of Transport should be that of a Cabinet Minister, and—
§ Captain STRICKLAND
I bow to your Ruling. I am afraid I have been led away by my enthusiasm for this subject. I hope we shall have an assurance from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he will endeavour to do his utmost to make our roads complete and safe and to achieve what I think the whole country wants, namely, some Central Board to control our roads, their building, their lighting, and their safety. If we have him and the Minister of Transport working together, I am sure he will receive the support of all those to whom transport means so much.
§ 7.33 p.m.
Major LLOYD GEORGE
If the hon. and gallant Member for Coventry (Captain Strickland) wants the things which he says he wants, if he wants the roads of this country in the condition in which he and the motorists want them, a very good preliminary step would be for him to vote for this Amendment, because if this opportunity is lost, it will be a very long time before he sees what he wants. We have heard to-day from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that this 890 Amendment would destroy the whole structure of what is proposed. That is practically why I support it. We have heard speeches from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to-day from the Minister of Transport himself, giving various views on the effect of this new proposal with regard to the Road Fund, and as far as I can make out from those speeches, it will make no difference at all to the roads of this country. Well, somebody is going to lose something over it, and having read the speech with which the Chancellor introduced his Budget, I gathered that he was short of money. That, we more or less knew, but he practically justified this procedure in regard to the Road Fund, because, he said, he had to get money somewhere. If the right hon. Gentleman has to go to the Road Fund for more money, it is not a very difficult thing to see that the Minister of Transport will have so much less money with which to do the things that he wants to do than he would otherwise have had. Why do they not say straight out that they are taking money out of this fund, which Parliament, in its greater wisdom in the days gone by, decided should be allocated to a specific purpose, for purposes other than those for which it was allocated? Is not this the real position? Then not let us have these expositions as to how it will have no effect on the present programme, and so on.
The Minister said to-day, in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George), that there would be no restriction beyond the present five years plan, but there are many county councils in this country which cannot undertake a five years plan at the present time, and the right hon. Gentleman must know that a good many of the borough councils are incapable of carrying out the plan as he suggests they should. I have mentioned before my own county, which, out of a total rate of 14s. in the £, has a highway rate of 8s. 6d., and it is impossible to expect a county of that sort, which is not the only one by any means, to spend a lot more money on roads. To say that the roads of this country are not going to suffer by this procedure is quite absurd, because it is obvious, from our own experience, that much more necessary work could be done. The Minister admits that they are necessary, or he would not have asked for their proposals, but they cannot be 891 carried out because there is not sufficient money coming from the Exchequer to assist them. That is the present position.
The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said on a former occasion that the more money was spent on roads the more numerous were the accidents, and an hon. Gentleman quoted the Kingston by-pass. May I point out that the Kingston by-pass is one of the things that could have been improved by the expenditure of more money? There are other arterial roads out of London which are a perfect model—and I should like the Chancellor to see them—where the houses are 50 yards away from the road, where there is a grass verge in between, and footpaths for pedestrians, well away from the roads, separated by railings, and one-way traffic. It is an amazing thing to me that at the present time we are not allowed to go on our railways because of the danger involved. I would far, rather walk across the average railway than across the average arterial road. A train at any rate goes on a line that you can see, but on an arterial road you avoid one line of traffic and fall into another. It seems to me that the Kingston by-pass is a very poor argument to advance, because there are other things entering into that problem that destroyed the object of the by-pass. The Kingston by-pass was created to avoid a congested area, but owing to the laws of this country we have succeeded in creating another congested area to add to the first. It is no good saying that expenditure on roads has made that possible, but there are other things, just as important, that I cannot expect this Government to take much note of.
There is one other point that I would like to make, and it is a point that has already been raised, in regard to the inequity of this system of taxation under the present arrangement. On the whole the system of taxation of this country is designed to put the burden on the backs of those best able to bear it, but here you have a section of the community—and I do not agree with the right hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) that it is confined to the Conservative party—which is taxed specially. Why should any one section of the community be taxed for general purposes? It is quite contrary to our general system 892 of taxation, and I think I am right in saying that this is the only body of taxpayers in history that ever proposed that they themselves should be taxed. I believe I am right in saying that they themselves proposed this tax, but they only did so on the understanding that the whole of the proceeds would be devoted to the purpose of the roads.
I reminded the right hon. Gentleman, the last time I spoke on this subject, that the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain), speaking on behalf of the whole Conservative party when the Petrol Tax was brought in, asked a specific question of the then Chancellor of the Exchequer: Was the money obtained by this tax going entirely to the upkeep of the roads, or was any of it going to the Imperial Exchequer? He said that on the answer which they got would depend whether or not they supported it, that if the whole of the money was going to the roads, the party for which he spoke would support it, but that if any of the money was going to the Imperial Exchequer, they would oppose it tooth and nail. That was the position in 1909, and here you have a body of people who incidentally have to pay their ordinary taxation and rates like everybody else, who have a special tax levied upon them to provide them with roads adequate for the enormous demands made upon them. We all know of instances where essential works cannot be carried out because the money is not available. The Minister, we know, would be only too glad to sanction far more expenditure and to give better grants to poorer districts if he had the cash. That is the real reason. The Chancellor of the Exchequer wants the money, and he is taking it by this method. It is unjust, because if he wants more money, he ought to put more taxation on the people as a whole and not take it from one particular section, who only allowed this tax to be put on, and indeed themselves suggested it, because it was to deal with a problem which they themselves had created. For these reasons I shall certainly support the Amendment.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Major J. HERBERT
I should like to follow the hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) in regard to the inequity of taxes on motor users, and it is because of its inequity that I support the proposal in Clause 27 893 of the Bill. After all, the taxation raised from motorists last year was about £70,000,000, and out of that sum £30,000,000 came from licence duties and £40,000,000 from the Petrol Tax. The whole of the discussion to-day has been about the Road Fund, or, in other words, about the £30,000,000, and so far no mention whatever has been made of the Petrol Tax. To my mind, it is hardly logical to talk about the smaller sum and not to mention the greater. I welcome this Clause, because I feel that by this amalgamation no change does in fact take place, except for the better. After all, when the Road Fund was in existence, it was difficult to debate road questions at all, but now we have an undertaking that they can be debated on an Estimate. The May Committee on National Expenditure reported a long time ago on this question, and in paragraph 296 they stated:The Road Fund has come to be regarded by successive Governments as a convenient means of financing grandiose projects without the inconvenience of obtaining Parliamentary approval and providing for the cost in the annual Budget.Therefore, it is much more democratic to have some method by which this House can control the expenditure and can have Estimates brought before it. The May Committee, at the beginning of the same paragraph, also proposed the abolition of the Road Fund and placing expenditure on road grants on the annual Votes of Parliament. The fact of the matter is—and this is of great importance—that ever since 1909 the Minister of Transport and the Road Fund have been under Treasury control, and they will so remain, but this House will also have a. measure of control. The new arrangement will enable the Chancellor of the Exchequer in subsequent Budgets completely to alter the system of the taxation of motorists. If, however, we stick too rigidly to the Road Fund and the present system of taxation payment into that Fund, we shall be tying the hands of the Minister to an extent which will not be wise. Possibly, some other method may be devised in order to make the effect more equitable on those who use the roads.
By the proposed amalgamation it seems to me that the Minister of Transport will be able to make a plan ahead and to be much more certain of obtaining the money for which he asks. He can make 894 an arrangement at the beginning of the financial year with the Chancellor of the Exchequer rather than be dependent upon what is coming in through a particular fund. I hope that in the very near future the great difficulty of the block grant and the allocation of moneys to local authorities will be remedied in quite a different way, namely, by certain trunk roads being taken over from those local authorities so that they may be used for the benefit of the public. I realise that I cannot develop that point. For the two reasons that I have given, I welcome this Clause in the Bill.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Mr. G. STRAUSS
I congratulate the hon. Member who has just spoken for being original in his argument and suggesting that the Minister of Transport will have more money to spend on the roads under the new arrangement than he has had before. That is not only an original but a startling suggestion, and it obviously cannot be borne out. The Debate has shown that there is a general fear among all parties that, whatever the theoretical justification for this change may be, and whatever the constitutional arguments may be, the real effect of bringing the Road Fund under the sole control of the Treasury will be less money spent on the roads. That opinion is held in all quarters, and that is the main argument against the proposed change. That must be the logical consequence of the change, because during the coming years the Chancellor of the Exchequer expects to spend a large amount of money on armaments. His will be the final and almost the only word in future in deciding how much money is to be spent on the roads, and the tendency on his part all the time must be to spend as little as possible on them, because the less he spends on the roads the more he will have for other purposes. Consequently, consciously or unconsciously, in carrying out his duties as Chancellor of the Exchequer he will have to obstruct to some extent the carrying out of road improvement schemes. He will be anxious to have as big a share as possible from the Road Fund for general taxation purposes, so that he will not have to put up the Income Tax and the other taxation of the country more than is necessary.
It is a pity that the Minister of Transport came into the House rather late in the Debate and that he was not here 895 when the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the previous occasion was giving his reasons and explanations in regard to the change. The main claim made by the Minister of Transport to-day was contradicted entirely by the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the previous occasion. What are the two chief justifications for the change put forward to-day by the Minister of Transport? He said that we should get the fullest details of Road Fund expenditure. By that statement he presumably means that we are going to get as much in the future as in the past. His second claim was that as a result of the proposal a democratic control of the Road Fund is being established. That is very different from what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said when the matter was before the House on 28th April. I asked him this question:I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer this one question. At the moment there is published annually a very full report of the Road Fund account—the amount which came in and what was paid out—in considerable detail. Under this new arrangement will there be as full an account published as is published at the moment"?The Chancellor of the Exchequer went very far in replying to that question. He not only replied to it directly but he stated the consequences. He said:I can only answer by leave of the House, but I should imagine not. The account to which the hon. Member refers was in order to allow the House to preserve some measure of control over the expenditure of the Road Fund. Now, it will be able to control it in the usual way."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th April, 1936; col. 810, Vol. 311.]In other words, the control which the House has had up to now over the Road Fund is going to disappear, and we shall have only that measure of control which we have over the general expenditure of the country under the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Yet the Minister of Transport comes along to-day and tells us that a democratic control of the Road Fund is being established under this proposal. How can he justify that statement? In the existing circumstances where the Minister of Transport is responsible for the Road Fund the House has a certain control over the fund, because there is a special Minister responsible for it, but when that fund becomes lost in the mass of Departmental expenditure of 896 the country which comes under the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the control of the House of this particular fund, if it is not entirely lost, will very largely disappear. Therefore, it is ridiculous to justify the proposal by saying that we are going to establish a democratic control over the Road Fund. What is happening is that the control of the House and the control of the country over the fund is being very largely, if not entirely, lost by the proposal before us. Once the change is brought about it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to go back to the present state of affairs. I oppose the proposal on two grounds, that it will in effect mean under this Government less money will be spent on the roads, and that the House, instead of having control over this very vital expenditure, is quite definitely and obviously going to lose it.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I propose to speak only for a few minutes, because the main argument has been traversed and we are waiting to hear what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to say in reply. Having considered this matter on several occasions, quite apart from the £5,500,000 now being taken from the Road Fund, I hold the view that on general theoretical principles the proposal of the Government can easily be justified. It does not seem to me that there exists on constitutional grounds, or on grounds of general financial practice, any justification for leaving a particular form of taxation in a particular fund. I believe there will be general agreement on these benches that there can be no exception to that principle, but that is not the ground on which our Amendment has been moved. If we could be satisfied that the expenditure upon the roads was as much as the country could afford and as much as Parliament demanded, and that the expenditure on the roads was a just proportion of the general expenditure of the Government, the Amendment would not have been moved, and there would have been no opposition to the Government's proposal.
The reason why we fear the proposal is that in the inevitable tug-of-war between a spending department and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a valuable lever is being taken out of the hands of the spending department, especially when that spending department is one where 897 larger and not smaller expenditure is required. Everybody is alarmed by the list of casualties on the roads, despite the efforts of the Minister of Transport. Everyone will concede to him that in the last few years he has applied himself with very considerable energy and intelligence to this problem. No one could charge him with being lackadaisical or with sitting on his job. He has been an exceedingly active Minister of Transport. If he, with his drive and energy, still has to hand over £5,500,000 to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with this weapon in his hand, how much more helpless will he be when it has gone? It is no use the Minister trying to convince the Committee on that point, because no one will believe him. It will be wasting the time of the Committee for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to suggest that the Minister of Transport will have more money in the future than in the past and that there will be no limitation upon him, whereas there is now a limitation by the extent of the fund. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has to answer the question, how is it that there is a surplus on the fund which he has raided, and what evidence is there that he proposes to turn over a new leaf? The assumption is that that surplus would not have been there had he not successfully resisted the Minister of Transport.
If, on the other hand, the Minister of Transport says that that is not the ca-se, then he must explain how it is that with all this need for increased expenditure on the roads and in view of the fact that four or five county councils cannot afford to conform even to his minimum programme, there still remained that surplus on the fund. I am not asking this question in a captious spirit. The hon. and gallant Member for Monmouth (Major Herbert), who used the argument that he wanted the Road Fund money to go into the general Exchequer because more money would be available, is a member of the Monmouth County Council, of which I was a member for some years. He knows very well that that county council is unable to conform with the minimum requirements of the Minister of Transport, because they have not the money. He knows that the same thing is true in Glamorganshire, Pembrokeshire and many rural counties. He knows that it is true of Durham and Lanarkshire and 898 many areas which are badly hit by industrial depression. It is no use the Minister of Transport making offers of 50, 60 or even 75 per cent. grants, because those county councils are unable to assume any additional financial responsibility.
We have been told by the Minister of Transport of schemes which have met with his approval, and we say that those schemes should receive 100 per cent. grants. He has not been able to comply with our request. Why? It is not because it has not been the practice to make 100 per cent. grants. A 100 per cent. grant was made in respect of a highway in Scotland and also in respect of roads in South Wales some years ago. I want to know what has happened in the past between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Transport which has obviously given the Minister of Transport a disadvantage in the combat; or is he suggesting that, in fact, he has never made proposals to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give us additional grants? We are entitled to a reply upon this matter because we are deeply involved. Over and over again attempts have been made in this House during the last few years to try to get additional grants for the distressed areas, and I make no apology at all to the Committee for raising on this occasion what appears to be King Charles's head.
The Government have insisted on a number of occasions that they are attempting to meet the problem in every way that is open to them. There is one way open to them. I do not suggest that it is a perfect thing in itself, but surely it is reasonable for the county councils who cannot find the funds themselves to meet the programmes which the Minister thinks are necessary to say to the Minister of Transport: "Will you give up a grant sufficiently large to enable us to carry out these works?" The Minister has hitherto said: "No." Why has he been compelled to say, "No"? Is it because he cannot persuade the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Treasury, or because he has never made the suggestion? One of them is the guilty party. Who is it? Is it the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or is it the Minister of Transport? If it is a conspiracy between them, as my hon. Friend suggests, the outlook is alarming. Once having re- 899 moved this audit or check upon his efforts, this means of ascertaining what his activity is like, the conspiracy in the future will be infinitely more intimate, without any opportunity on our part to check up what he is doing.
If I do not get a reply, we shall have to put our own construction upon it. My construction is that the Minister of Transport is a young man eager, ambitious and anxious to justify his appointment. Faced with one of the most stubborn problems with which any Minister has ever been faced, and one which arouses the universal anxiety of the people of the country, he is engaged in a daily tug-of-war with the Treasury to try to get the use of the revenue of the fund, and failing by £5,500,000 last year to do it. If that picture is a correct one, the House ought not to weaken the Minister, who has already been revealed by the figures as too weak to obtain the money necessary to discharge his job. I am not speaking derogatively or saying that the Minister has fallen down in his job, because the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Financial Secretary and the Treasury are in a position of very great power and influence, and particularly the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is not only himself a very determined man, but he occupies a very high position in the party which mainly supports the Government. The Minister of Transport has a very bad time indeed in his tug-of-war. I suggest, therefore, that in these circumstances a weak Minister ought not to be further weakened, and we ought to leave him with this power. I ask the Committee to insist upon this, particularly as the roads of Great Britain produce daily tragedies which might easily have been avoided were there a great and a more intelligent expenditure upon the roads. The matter has been discussed upon several occasions, and we are entitled to hear from the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Minister of Transport which of them is the villain of the piece in this matter.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Major NEVEN-SPENCE
Hon. Members who have spoken have been looking at the question from the small end of the telescope, and their gaze has been concentrated upon the effects of this Clause 900 on the great arterial roads. I want to look at it through the other end of the telescope and see where these roads end. [An HON. MEMBER: "In the cemetery."] We see all over the country a great network of unsatisfactory district roads, and the hon. Member opposite was anxious to know, as he seemed to fear, whether this was the result of less money being spent upon the roads as a whole. I am not conconcerned with that matter, but I am concerned that the money should be more equitably spent than it is at present. The difficulty that has arisen since the 1929 Act has been that the amount of money that it has been possible to raise for expenditure on district roads is very small indeed. I would quote the example of my own parish in which there are 10 miles of roads to be kept up. The product of a shilling rate in the parish is £70, and out of that money certain salaries have to be paid, and graveyards, to which the hon. Member opposite referred, have to be kept up, and we are left with roughly £3 per mile of road to keep up roads which are subject to motor transport. This is a ludicrous sum. The trouble all over Great Britain at the present time is that these district roads are steadily deteriorating. The people who live at the end of these roads as as much entitled to be considered as the people who make use of the great arterial roads.
There are many hamlets to which there are no roads. I can quote such an instance. Thirty years ago there was a place in the East of the Island of Unst in which 10 families were living. Repeated requests were made for a road into the district. No road was put there, and to-day there is not a living soul in the place. There were 10 small holdings inhabited there at one time. These roads are nobody's baby. The Ministry of Transport will have nothing to do with them. The county councils have nothing to do with them, and these districts do not know where to turn for help. If we can appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we shall have a reasonable chance of our case being heard. It is because of that which gives us the chance which we have not at present, that I shall most certainly vote against the Amendment.
§ 8.9 p.m.
We have had such a wide and general Debate upon this Amendment that we may fairly be said 901 to have covered the whole Clause, and I do not complain of that, because at some time or another in the course of our discussions upon the Clause we certainly ought to debate the general principles, but I only hope, therefore, that we shall remember that we have gone over the ground pretty thoroughly, as the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) has said, and shall not repeat the experience, as we have a long road to follow before we arrive at the end of our Debate to-morrow evening. Some rather small matters have been touched upon, and I do not want to spend much time in answering them. I will not follow the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale in his fancy picture of tugs-of-war between my right hon. Friend and myself, because although some rumours have reached me, I can assure him that the National Government always works harmoniously. The hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss) tried to find some little inconsistency between the answer which I gave him the other day and the account which my right hon. Friend gave of the estimate which will be presented under the new system. There is no inconsistency whatever. The hon. Member asked me whether the practice of producing a road fund account would be continued and I said, "No." That, of course, is because it will no longer be required. If he means not the account, but the report which the Minister of Transport has in the past given of his activities, of course, there is no change there. That still remains part of the duties of the Minister of Transport by Statute. I would point out that it refers to matters which have already occurred and not to the future, and what the House wants to know is rather what is to happen than what has happened in the past.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison), in his endeavour to calculate the amount of change which is produced by this Clause, read into it and into the Schedule a great deal more than, in fact, it contains. Assuming, as I must do, that he meant seriously what he said, I must give him a serious answer. The object of Sub-section (1) and the various paragraphs of the Sub-section are to separate those parts of the expenditure which have hitherto been borne out of the Road Fund into parts which in future will be more properly 902 borne on the Minister's Vote, and parts which will still remain on the Road Fund. Those parts which are not specifically removed from the Road Fund and are incorporated in the Minister's Vote by paragraphs (b) and (c) and Part I of the Schedule, still remain in the Road Fund. The right hon. Gentleman is in error in supposing, therefore, that these are repealed because they are not transferred to the Minister's Vote. He dwelt with much fond paternal affection on the words in the Schedule:but not including such expenses incurred in disseminating knowledge or otherwise informing the minds of the people.and seemed to think that because those words showed that those expenses were not among the expenses which, according to the reading of the Schedule, were to be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament instead of out of the Road Fund, they could no longer be incurred. That is an entirely unwarrantable assumption. There is no alteration whatever in the powers of the Minister in the matter. The powers remain, and the money will be provided as hitherto from the Road Fund and will not be transferred to the administrative expenses of the Department to which, of course, they do not belong.
§ Mr. H. MORRISON
It is possible that I may be wrong upon matters which are somewhat technical, but my recollection is that the power to spend money for the purpose provided for in the Road Traffic Act, 1930, was charged upon the Road Fund. Am I not right in assuming that the Road Fund ceases to exist and that, therefore, this is a charge upon moneys provided by Parliament?
That is the fundamental error into which the right hon. Gentleman has fallen. The Road Fund does not cease to exist. What ceases to exist is the method by which the Road Fund has been fed up to now. The Road Fund will continue, but instead of being provided out of the proceeds of the licence duties, it will be provided out of Votes by Parliament. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at paragraph (a) he will see that the "Fund" is to be fed by moneys provided by Parliament, and the Fund referred to is, of course, the Road Fund.… from time to time, out of moneys provided by Parliament, such sums as the 903 Minister of Transport may, with the consent of the Treasury, determine to be required …Even a cursory reading of the Clause will show the right hon. Gentleman was in error in suggesting that the Road Fund would be abolished.
§ Mr. H. MORRISON
What I am not clear about even now is why in the list on page 32 in the Third Schedule some items are to be treated in one way and other items treated in another way.
These are merely administrative expenses. It is more a matter of book-keeping than anything else; but the particular expenditure on publicity does not come under that category. With regard to borrowing on the security of the Road Fund, it is obviously inconsistent that the Minister should retain power to borrow on the Road Fund under the new method by which the Road Fund is to be maintained. The right hon. Gentleman also seemed to think that the Minister's power to construct new roads has been repealed. There again I give him the most definite assurance that no such thing has taken place. There is an Amendment on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) to leave out certain words in paragraph (a) of Clause 27, and substitute the words "purposes of" which I propose to accept, not because I think it is necessary, but I imagine it will be put forward on the ground that as the Clause is drafted it may be thought that purposes not specified were no longer remaining in the Bill.
The hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) asked why a particular section of the community should be taxed for general purposes. Why not? Is not that the case of any section of the community? Can the hon. and gallant Member point to any tax which is borne by the whole of the community and not by a section? This revenue is part of the general revenue of the country, and the fact that it is borne by particular people or was the subject of certain understandings, does not give them a vested right to the produce of the tax for all time. The hon. and gallant Member used the phrase, perhaps inadvertently, that 904 these users of the roads only consented to be taxed on certain conditions. Surely no section of the community has a right to say that it has consented to be taxed?
Major LLOYD GEORGE
My point was that if moneys raised for specific purposes are not to be used for those purposes then, if money is required, it should be raised in the ordinary way.
You have to raise a certain amount of taxation, which varies from time to time, and people will always have different ideas as to the distribution of taxation. The people who use the roads are now a considerable proportion of the population, and if they were relieved from some part of the tax they would find that they would have to pay very much the same amount of taxation only in a different form. The point which hon. Members who are supporting the Amendment have to answer is, what justification is there for erecting the Minister of Transport into a position quite different from that occupied by any other Minister? When hon. Members say that the Minister of Transport will have to come to the Treasury and fight with the Treasury for the expenditure of money on necessary forms of expenditure, in what respect will his position be different from that of any other Minister who presides over a spending Department? I can assure hon. Members that every Minister thinks the expenditure of his Department is necessary and can make out an extremely good case for it. The Treasury are not acting for the benefit of the Treasury but for the benefit of the community as a whole. They have to consider the whole amount of money which is to be spent and how far the taxpayer is able to bear it, and if the aggregate demands of Ministers are more than the taxpayer can reasonably be expected to find the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to make such representations as he can to various Ministers to abate their requests.
The question has been put by many hon. Members as to how far this proposal is going to reduce the amount of money which will be spent on the roads; and probably that is the consideration which weighs most heavily with those people who are interested in matters concerning the roads. The hon. Member for North 905 Lambeth was quite wrong in saying that the Minister of Transport could not get more money under these proposals than he got under the old system. I have not committed myself to the statement that he will get more money, because that depends on the circumstances of the time and the will of Parliament. Nobody can be dogmatic as to how far the amount of money under this new proposal will vary from the amount which would have been spent by the produce of a single tax. One thing is certain—no one can say that the produce of the tax is going to vary according to the needs of the roads. It will vary according to the number of vehicles which pay the tax.
No, I think not. The Estimates of the Minister of Transport are based upon commitments which are entered into a long time before the money is spent. The virtue of the five-year programme is that local authorities are able to make their plans a long time ahead. Road projects cannot be carried through in a few weeks; they require a great deal of preparation and take a long time before they can be completed. I am not saying whether the Road Fund will in the future be larger or smaller than it would have been if the present system had been continued, but what I do say—I say it with particular emphasis at a time when the country is embarking upon an enormous and necessary expenditure of money on armaments—is that it is a monstrous thing to make an exception in one particular case and say that in considering how far the expenditure of the country shall be distributed among the various Departments which make demands on the Treasury, the Minister of one Department shall be taken out of the purview of the Treasury altogether, that they shall not be allowed to say
§ that this Department too must pay its contribution or, if there is more money to spend, that it shall have its share of the extra money. This is merely to bring this Department into the same position as other Government Departments, and it seems to me that the case for it is absolutely overwhelming.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. de ROTHSCHILD
I have listened with great interest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but it does not seem to me that he has adequately answered the point put by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George). My hon. and gallant Friend pointed out to the Chancellor that the tax is contributed by the road users and that it ought to be used for their benefit. The Chancellor said he wants to put the Ministry of Transport into the same position as other Government Departments. I would point out that all the other Government Departments deal with general matters, whereas the Ministry of Transport deals only with roads and road users.
Would the hon. Gentleman say that the Ministry of Education deals with general matters and not with education?
§ Mr. de ROTHSCHILD
Certainly. The Ministry of Education deals with the education of all the children of the country, whereas the Ministry of Transport is in an exceptional position in that it deals only with a certain section of the population. It is for that reason that we urge that the taxes levied upon road users should go only for the benefit of those people.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out to the word 'and,' in line 38, stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 225; Noes, 131.909
|Division No. 235.]||AYES.||[8.30 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Bernays, R. H.||Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Birchall, Sir J. D.||Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Blaker, Sir R.||Bull, B. B.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Blindell, Sir J.||Bullock, Capt. M.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Bossom, A. C.||Burghley, Lord|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Burton, Col. H. W.|
|Assheton, R.||Bracken, B.||Butler, R. A.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Campbell, Sir E. T.|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Brass, Sir W.||Cartland, J. R. H.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Carver, Major W. H.|
|Belt, Sir A. L.||Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Cary, R. A.|
|Cazalat, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Holmes, J. S.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br.W.)||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Chamberlain. Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Hopkinson, A.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Channon, H.||Hore-Bellsha, Rt. Hon. L.||Rankin, R.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Christle, J. A.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Rayner, Major R. H.|
|Clarke, F. E.||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Hulbert, N. J.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk N.)||Hunter, T.||Remer, J. R.|
|Cooke, J. O. (Hammersmith, S.)||Jackson, Sir H.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh,W.)||Jones, L. (Swansea, W.)||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Craddock, Sir R. H.||Keeling, E. H.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'derry)|
|Critchley, A.||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Crooke, J. S.||Kirkpatrick, W. M.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Lamb, Sir J. O.||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Latham, Sir P.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Cross, R. H.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Leckie, J. A.||Salt, E. W.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Lees-Jones, J.||Sandeman, Sir N. S.|
|Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil)||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Levy, T.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.|
|Dawson, Sir P.||Lewis, O.||Selley, H. R.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Little, Sir E. Graham||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Denville, Alfred||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Shaw, Captain W. T (Forfar)|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Lloyd, G. W.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Dower, Capt. A. V. G.||Loftus, P. C.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)|
|Duggan, H. J.||Lyons, A. M.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, E.)|
|Dunglass, Lord||M'Connell, Sir J.||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Eckersley, P. T,||MacDonald, Rt. Hon M. (Ross)||Spender-Clay Lt.-Cl. Rt. Hn. H. H.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Spens, W. P.|
|Emery, J. F.||McKie, J. H.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Maitland, A.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|Everard, W. L.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Fildes, Sir H.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Findlay, Sir E.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D R.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Fleming, E. L.||Markham, S. F.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Fraser, Capt. Sir I.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Ganzonl, Sir J.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Gibson, C. G.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Gluckstein, L. H.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Touche, G. C.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Mitcheson, Sir G. G.||Train, Sir J.|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Moreing, A. C.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.||Turton, R. H.|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Guest, Maj. Hon. O.(C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)||Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Munro, P.||Wallace, Captain Euan|
|Guy, J. C. M.||Nall, Sir J.||Ward, Irene (Wallsend)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.||Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Hamilton, Sir G. C.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Hannah, I. C.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Wells, S. R.|
|Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle)||Peake, O.||Wilson, Lt.-Col Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Peat, C. U.||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Hellqers, Captain F. F. A.||Penny, Sir G.||Wragg, H.|
|Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Hepworth, J.||Petherick, M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Pilkington, R.||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward|
|Herbert, Captain S. (Abbey)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||and Captain Waterhouse.|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Radford, E. A.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Buchanan, G.||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Burke, W. A.||Frankel, D.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Cape, T.||Gallacher, W.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Cluse, W. S.||Gardner, B. W.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Compton, J.||Garro Jones, G. M.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Cove, W. G.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)|
|Banfield, J. W.||Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)|
|Barnes, A. J.||Daggar, G.||Glbbins, J.|
|Barr, J.||Dalton, H.||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)|
|Batey, J.||Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Green, W. H. (Deptford)|
|Bellenger, F.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Grenfell, D. R.|
|Benson, G.||Dobble, W.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)|
|Bevan, A.||Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)|
|Broad, F. A.||Ede, J. C.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)|
|Bromfield, W.||Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Groves, T. E.|
|Brooke, W.||Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||McGhee, H. G.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Hardie, G. D.||MacLaren, A.||Shinwell, E.|
|Harris, Sir P. A.||Maclean, N.||Short, A.|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Marklew, E.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Mathers, G.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Maxton, J.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Holdsworth, H.||Messer, F.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Holland, A.||Montague, F.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Jagger, J.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Muff, G.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Oliver, G. H.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Owen, Major G.||Thurtle, E.|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Parker, J.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Parkinson, J. A.||Viant, S. P.|
|Kelly, W. T.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Walker, J.|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Potts, J.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Kirkwood, D.||Price, M. P.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Lathan, G.||Pritt, D. N.||Westwood, J.|
|Lawson, J. J.||Richards, R. (Wrexham)||White, H. Graham|
|Leach, W.||Ritson, J.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Lee, F.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Leonard, W.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Leslie, J. R.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Logan, D. G.||Rothschild, J. A. de|
|Lunn, W.||Rowson, G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Salter, Dr. A.||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Charleton.|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
§ 8.36 p.m.
Major LLOYD GEORGE
I beg to move, in page 26, line 38, after "cease," to insert "save as hereinafter provided."
This Amendment is to be taken in conjunction with Amendments which appear later on the Paper, and as we have had a fairly full discussion already on the principle which it covers, I do not propose to detain the Committee further than to say that it represents an attempt to save something out of the wreck.
§ Mr. W. S. MORRISON
I am in a little difficulty about this Amendment. It is obviously intended as a drafting Amendment to prepare the way for something which is to follow, but the hon. and gallant Member has not indicated precisely to what provision it is intended as a prelude. In the circumstances, it would not be possible for me to accept the Amendment.
Major LLOYD GEORGE
There are several Amendments later on the Paper which relate to this point but the important words at this stage are, "save as hereinafter provided." Later on it is proposed to insert several provisions which would have the effect already indicated. For example, there is an Amendment on page 1012 of the Order Paper—in page 27, line 31, at the end, to insert a new Sub-section (3).
§ Mr. EDE
I suggest that the Amendment might be taken in conjunction with the Amendment on page 1011 which proposes, in page 27, line 11, at the end, 910 to insert a proviso, the effect of which would be to guarantee to the Ministry of Transport and, what is still more important from my point of view, to the local authorities a definite sum of money for this purpose.
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)
I was under the impression that the hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) was moving his Amendment in conjunction with the Amendment—in page 27, line 5, after "eight," to insert:and for the purpose of the payment of interest on, and the repayment of, the principal of any money borrowed under section thirteen.If it is to be taken in conjunction with the Amendment to which the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has just referred, then it is out of order, because that Amendment would increase the charge.
Major LLOYD GEORGE
The Amendment which I have just moved is obviously one which would have to be made as a preliminary to any of the subsequent Amendments in the names of myself and my hon. Friends. The hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has mentioned one. I mentioned another. To any of those Amendments these words would be essential.
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN
The Amendment on page 1012—in page 27, line 31, to insert a new sub-section (3)—would also increase the charge, and in also out of order.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. W. S. MORRISON
We are in a difficulty because, obviously, I cannot accept these word; "save as hereinafter provided" at this stage, if no variation of the provisions of the Clause as it stands is to be accepted by the Committee later. In that case these words would make nonsense of the Clause. On the other hand, the hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) is at a disadvantage because he and his friends have later Amendments on the Paper which depend on these words. May I suggest as a convenient course that he should now withdraw this Amendment? Then if the Committee, later on, accepts any of the Amendments proposed by himself or his hon. Friends, which would make these words "save as hereinafter provided" necessary at this point, they could be inserted on the Report stage. It is obvious that we cannot have an intelligent Debate on the words "save as hereinafter provided."
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN
I must point out that I am precluded from calling any Amendment which does not make sense and these later Amendments would not make sense unless these words had been inserted. I suggest that the hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) should link this Amendment with the Amendment in page 27, line 5, to which I have already referred, which would, at any rate, be in Order.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. R. ACLAND
I beg to move, in page 27, line 3, to leave out from "the," to "section" in line 5, and to insert "purposes of."
The Minister has already intimated that he will accept this Amendment, because he has said that it is intended that the Minister of Transport shall still have power to construct roads. That however does not follow from the Clause as it is now worded. Section 8 of the 1909 Act gives the Minister power inter alia to construct new roads. What does this Clause allow the Minister to do in respect of his power to construct roads? As it stands it allows him, with the consent 912 of the Treasury, to make advances to highway authorities under Section 8 of the Act of 1909. If Sub-section (1, a) of the Clause stopped at "1909" it would be clear that the Clause specifically excluded the power of the Minister to construct new roads. The Financial Secretary however called attention, at an earlier stage, to the words which follow:and for other purposes of the fund.Those are vague words. There are many purposes which one could mention, such as the making of bridges, the conduct of safety campaigns, the lighting of streets, the putting up of signs, and so forth. It is our contention that those words would be taken as applying to purposes of that kind and would not be capable, in themselves, of contradicting the specific words in the earlier part of the Clause which in our view exclude the power to construct roads. The paragraph as amended clearly puts it within the power of the Minister to determine that sums are required for the purpose of constructing roads.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
Some of my hon. Friends have their names down to this Amendment, and I had my name down to an Amendment which is intended to have a similar effect. I am glad that the Chancellor has accepted the Amendment because, in spite of what the Financial Secretary said earlier and what the Chancellor himself said, it is exceedingly doubtful whether under the words as they appear in the text of the Bill the power conferred on the Minister of Transport himself to construct and maintain roads would exist. It is true that that power might be read into the words of the Bill. But in view of the fact that the power of making advances to or in conjunction with highway authorities is singled out in the text of the Bill, it is very doubtful whether, if the text stood as it is printed, the courts would agree that the power of the Minister himself to construct and maintain roads would remain. If the Amendment is to be accepted, as I understand, there will be no doubt that all the powers that are included in Section 8 of the Development and Road Improvement Funds Act, 1909, will be perpetuated in the new form.
§ Mr. W. S. MORRISON
The Government propose to accept the Amendment. We are advised that the same effect is 913 obtained by the words now in the Clause, but I understand from the Debate that there is widespread misgiving on the subject, and we think that that misgiving will be cleared away if we accept the Amendment, which places it beyond a shadow of doubt.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 8.49 p.m.
§ Mr. BENSON
I beg to move, in page 27, line 22, to leave out paragraph (d).
The object of this Clause has been portrayed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as an attempt to introduce financial orthodoxy into the heretical position of the Ministry of Transport. Whether that be so, or whether he was merely covering up the robbing of a hen-roost, I do not know, but his defence was that he wished to be financially orthodox. It is for similar reasons that I move the deletion of this paragraph. Although appropriations-in-aid may be very convenient for Ministers, 'they are very undesirable from a strictly financial point of view. They are undesirable because under the drafting of the original Act which permitted appropriations-in-aid, it was held by a Speaker that no reduction could be moved to an appropriation-in-aid. The result is that every penny that goes in appropriations-in-aid is taken outside the control of Parliament. That is bad. The expenses and salaries of the Ministry of Transport in this year's Estimates are about £800,000. The appropriations-in-aid in the Estimates are £700,000. That is a very large proportion of the salaries and expenses to be taken outside the control of the House. It is financially unsound, and I cannot see any serious argument why we should adopt this unsound method of appropriations-in-aid. Because of the urge towards financial orthodoxy which the Chancellor has shown in this Clause, I hope that the Financial Secretary will carry it one step further and make it an exemplary Clause for all future Chancellors to follow.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. W. S. MORRISON
I thank the hon. Member for his explanation because I was at some loss to divine the motive which prompted him to move to leave out this paragraph. I find that it is the laudable motive of following the strictest canons of financial orthodoxy. I am afraid I cannot go so far as the 914 hon. Member along the straight and narrow road that he would have us follow. The Committee will understand that the main change proposed in this Clause is the transference of this fund to votes instead of taxation. With the Road Fund in its previous condition of being fed by specially designated revenues, it was natural that any fees should come into the fund. Now that the specially designated revenues are not to go into the fund, the question arises what should be done with these particular fees. They are fees charged for various purposes, and we propose in the Clause to take them into the Vote as an appropriation-in-aid.
I am prepared to admit what the hon. Member said about appropriations-in-aid. In general, they are a common feature of most Votes, and Parliament cannot move reductions to them for the simple reason that the money has to pass into the Exchequer on account of the Vote. It is open to Parliament, however, to reduce the main Vote if it thinks that the appropriations-in-aid are excessive. We find the same thing being done by various Departments, such as the Public Trustee Department, where fees are charged and applied as appropriations in-aid to the Vote of the Department. It is the same with the Patent Office and the Companies Winding-up Department of the Bankruptcy Court. All fees charged are treated as appropriations-in-aid, and when we are faced with the problem of how to dispose of these fees I think we should do well to follow those precedents. That purpose would be defeated if we accepted the Amendment, and therefore I regret that I cannot do so.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
This is a matter of very great importance and I do not wish the analogies which the hon. and learned Gentleman has put forward to pass unchallenged. With very great respect to him, they are very bad analogies. The Public Trustee Department is a trading Department and the fees charged are assessed deliberately to pay the cost of the Department, and the same thing applies more or less to the Patent Office and to the Land Registration Department. They are bad examples, and I am sorry the Financial Secretary gave them, because either he has been misled, 915 which I think is probable, or he is misleading the Committee. It may be convenient for book-keeping purposes to let these fees go to this particular Department, but it is not a trading Department, but is doing great local government work. It is not run for a profit and does not collect fees on that basis. The hon. and learned Member, who is usually very well-informed, and whose examples are usually above suspicion, is in this case very much in error. The only excuse is that he has had a very long afternoon in the Committee and has had to defend some very bad legislation, and is driven partly by fatigue and partly by despair to bring forward very bad analogies.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN
I do not propose to call the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) and other hon. Members, to insert a new paragraph (e), unless it can be shown that it is necessary.
§ 8.59 p.m.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
May I be allowed to explain that it is a very simple Amendment, and that the purpose of it is to ensure that any balance left in the Road Fund at the end of a financial year shall not be taken by the Treasury but left at the disposal of the Road Fund in the following year. It may be that certain works are started in the course of a year, and, as all who have served on local bodies know, for various reasons it may not be possible to complete that work during that year. The money will have been allotted for that specific purpose, and the Amendment would secure that the money was retained in the Road Fund and carried on past the end of the financial year. We have had an interesting Debate on this fund, and I do not wish to take up time, but I think the Financial Secretary will agree that there has been a genuine suspicion that adequate sums of money may not be granted for the improvement of roads, etc., under the new arrangement, and if this Amendment could be accepted—
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN
Before the hon. Member can move the Amendment it will have to be proved that it is necessary. I do not think the case put up has shown that the position 916 is very different from that which arises in other Departments. Each financial year is a unit in itself.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
If you are thinking of ruling the Amendment out of Order, Sir Charles, may I submit that there is a considerable difference between balances which are surrendered and balances which are not surrendered? There are two classes of Votes. Votes which are annual and the unspent balances of which are surrendered to the Treasury at the end of the financial year, and other Votes, such as certain colonial development grants, where the unspent balances are not surrendered. Whether the Amendment is accepted by the Government or not there is a, distinction, and I submit that the point is one which is worthy of our discussion.
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN
In view of what the hon. Gentleman has said I propose to call the Amendment.
§ 9.3 p.m.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
I beg to move, in page 27, line 27, at the end, to insert:(e) any moneys standing to the credit of the Road Fund at the end of any financial year and unallocated or unspent by the Minister of Transport out of such Fund shall be carried forward to the credit of the Road Fund as at the commencement of the next succeeding financial year and any such moneys may be applied by the Minister of Transport together with the income of the Road Fund in that year for the purposes of Section eight of the Development and Road improvement Funds. Act, 1909, and for other purposes of the Fund.
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
In arguing the point of Order, I have already had an opportunity of pointing out the very definite distinction which exists between these classes of Votes. In some cases it is the practice for the House to vote sums of money which are to be spent during the year and any balance which is unspent at the end of the year is returned to the Exchequer and ceases to belong to that particular service. If Parliament wishes that service to be continued it has to vote the money afresh from the Exchequer in the following year. There are other services in which the money provided by the House remains in the hands of the Department, even if the whole of it has not been spent in the financial year. It is of great importance in the case of the Road Fund 917 that there should not be a return of the unspent balances to the Treasury at the end of each year. Hitherto, as the Road Fund has not been dealt with in the way which is now proposed under this Bill, the money has remained in the Road Fund until the Treasury has definitely moved that it should be taken out, an example of that being the £5,250,000 which is to be taken out this year. We feel that if the money is kept in the Road Fund it will give the Minister of Transport greater assurance as to his position, and give even greater assurance to the local bodies which are counting upon that money being available for them, though no doubt the Treasury would not fail to implement the commitments of the Department. The principle which, as I have said, has been adopted in the case of certain Colonial grants does seem to be applicable to this case, and I hope the Financial Secretary will accept the Amendment.
While I am on my feet there is a quite important point which I should like to raise, a point which I think has a direct connection with this Amendment. In the financial statement for the year it has been the practice, ever since the days of the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) as Chancellor of the Exchequer—in the year 1926 I think—to differentiate between ordinary revenue and self-balancing revenue. The sums which have appeared in the self-balancing revenue have been the sums required to meet the Post Office expenditure and the motor vehicle duties allotted to the Road Fund. I want to take this opportunity, because the question is closely associated with the question of what is to be done with the balance of the Road Fund, to ask the Financial Secretary whether he is yet in a position to say that the practice is to be continued substantially in its present form. He may want to consult his right hon. Friend because he may not have considered the point in great detail, but if he could give me an answer now I should be very much obliged, because it is an important point. If the balances are to be surrendered, it is clear that the item as it has been shown hitherto in the financial statement for the year would be improper, and there would have to be a change.
§ 9.7 p.m.
§ Mr. W. S. MORRISON
This Amendment, which has no reference to the point 918 of Order which was decided, is, for the purpose which hon. Members have in view in moving it, not required. There are certain statutory funds with balances which are sometimes, or practically always, retained, but they appear on the Votes very much as appropriations-in-aid for the service next year. It is proposed to follow that precedent, in the case of the Road Fund under the new dispensation, and not to surrender the balance to the Exchequer at the end of the year, but to carry it, forward into next year. That is the convenient course which is followed with similar funds. It would be undesirable to make special statutory provision to follow this practice in the case of this fund, because it might then be argued that as it had been found necessary for Parliament to make special provision for this fund, there was some invalidity attaching to the practice with the other funds.
One other question put by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) I would answer. He remarked that the Road Fund has hitherto appeared in our financial statement under the category of a self-balancing fund. My opinion on the question which he asked me is governed by the words of Sub-section (1) of the Clause, which says:the liability to issue sums out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom to the Road Fund under Section two of the Roads Act, 1920, and any power to make advances to, or to borrow on the security of, the Road Fund, shall cease.It seems to me that, thereafter, the produce from the taxation, that is, the revenue, of the Road Fund, will cease to be paid to the Road Fund direct, but will go into the Exchequer, and will then have to be voted by Parliament out of the Exchequer to the Road Fund. The conclusion I have formed is that it will no longer be a self-balancing fund, in the sense in which the Post Office is, because it will have no revenue of its own, but only such revenue as Parliament gives it. I would ask the hon. Member for this reason not to press the Amendment, because it is the intention of the Government to follow the course which has been followed in the case of those funds to which he referred, namely, to follow the practice considered proper in those cases and not to surrender the funds.
§ 9.10 p.m.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
To any other Chancellor the words of the Financial Secretary would sound sweetly reasonable, but we have many precedents, and we know that this fund has been a convenient nest-egg for this Chancellor and for his predecessors. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) started the game. It has been said that the money voted for this Department should remain in the fund, but inevitably a hard-pressed Chancellor will he inclined to divert it to other Departments and for other purposes. I would impress upon the Financial Secretary and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport the peculiar character of the fund. The Minister of Transport is a partner; he alone does not find the cost of most road improvements. A percentage of the money invariably has to be found by local authorities. Long negotiation has to go on as to the character of an improvement, the width of the road, the place for a bridge and the kind of bridge that it is to be. We have many precedents for that too: Waterloo Bridge, London Bridge, Charing Cross Bridge, the bridge at Hull and many other bridges. The same applies to roads.
I understand that the Minister of Transport will make Estimates for his requirements for the year. He will review the need for road improvement, for new arterial roads and the construction of bridges, and will estimate that so many miles will be required. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Treasury will carefully scrutinise the Estimates and cut them down. From what we know of the Treasury, there is not the slightest doubt about that. The Estimates will finally be passed and come before this House to be approved. Either because of the long negotiation or because of the failure of the Minister to approve of a scheme, the whole of the money will not be spent. The purpose of the Amendment is to see that, should the money not be spent, we shall be sure of having a statutory guarantee that the money will be an extra amount over and above the Estimate for the following year, so that schemes which have been delayed and hung up because of the dilatory action of the Minister of Transport, or by the breakdown of negotiation between the Department and local authorities, should not be held up for want of funds. Looking at the history of the fund for many years, we say it 920 is very important that Parliament should make it clear that once the Estimates are passed and schemes are approved in principle, the money should remain there and be available next year, over and above any schemes worked out for the succeeding year.
§ 9.14 p.m.
§ Mr. W. S. MORRISON
I should like to persuade the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) to withdraw his Amendment. It has been stated that unless there is a, statutory guarantee a Chancellor of the Exchequer may be tempted to raid any balance in the fund. If the Road Fund were a separate entity there would be some temptation to raid it—[HON. MEMBERS: "And you did it!"] If now the Chancellor of the Exchequer were to raid any balance in the fund, it would be his own henroost that he would be raiding, for he would be abstracting a sum which otherwise would go as an appropriation-in-aid of the fund.
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
I understood the Financial Secretary to say that there was no need for this Amendment because it was not only the intention of the Government, but it would be the result of carrying the Clause as it stands, that the money would not be surrendered, because the Road Fund is in a similar position to other funds in the case of which the money is not surrendered. If that be so, it makes no difference whether the proviso is in or not. I understand also that, if the Chancellor thought there was any advantage in raiding the fund on any particular occasion, he would have equal power to do so whether the proviso were in or not. Is that so?
§ Mr. MORRISON
The answer to both the hon. Gentleman's questions is in the affirmative, and I would again point out the disadvantage of a statutory enactment with regard to this fund, which might cast doubts on the validity of our practice with regard to other funds.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 9.18 p.m.
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
I beg to move, in page 27, line 32, to leave out Subsection (3).
921 This Clause does two things. It abandons the existing machinery of the Road Fund, and, by Sub-section (3), it transfers to the Exchequer from the fund this year the sum of £5,250,000. In fact, the Sub-section contains the raid on the Road Fund for the coming year. The matter has been fully discussed, and I do not propose again to enter into the arguments. I merely move the Amendment in order that we may specifically register our opinion on this part of the Clause.
§ Mr. W. S. MORRISON
In view of the terms in which the right hon. Gentleman has moved the Amendment, he will not expect me to attempt to controvert his arguments. I think he has moved the Amendment merely as a protest against what he considers to be a wrong course of action. I understand that he proposes to press the Amendment to a Division, and in that case he will not accuse me of any discourtesy if I do not make a speech on the matter.
§ 9.20 p.m.
§ Mr. E. DUNN
I desire to stress the position of the local authorities in regard to this matter. I am not certain whether the Committee fully appreciates how the local authorities stand. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) that the Amendment is merely to leave out the Sub-section which takes over the £5,250,000 from the fund, but I want the
§ Committee to realise the position of an authority like the county council of the district which I have the honour to represent. In the West Riding of Yorkshire, the rate for highway purposes within the last 12 months is 3s. 3d. in the £ for county purposes, while for the area of my own authority the rate is 2s. 9d., making 6s. in the £ which has to be found for the maintenance of highways in the county and in that district. Not only have we seen a constant raiding of the Road Fund—I fully appreciate that in this case it is simply taking the balance into the Treasury—but I think we are entitled to protest on behalf of the small local authorities, where one-third of the rate levied in their areas in past years has been entirely for highway purposes. If the money which in successive years has been taken from the Road Fund by the Government had been usefully spent by the local authorities, I doubt very much whether the rates would have been as high as they are at present and a they have been for years past. I am violently opposed in principle, despite what has been said, not only to the raiding of the fund, but to taking under the cloak of the Chancellor himself the whole of the activities of the Road Fund, and I protest most strongly against it.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 232; Noes, 125.923
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||McKie, J. H.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Magnay, T.||Salt, E. W.|
|Guest,Maj. Hon. O.(C'mb'rw'll,N.W.)||Maitland, A.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Sandeman, Sir N. S.|
|Guy, J. C. M.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.|
|Hamilton, Sir G. C.||Markham, S. F.||Savery, Servington|
|Hannah, I. C.||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.||Selley, H. R.|
|Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||May hew, Lt.-Col. J.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Fortar)|
|Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Hepworth, J.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Herbert, Captain S. (Abbey)||Mitcheson, Sir G. G.||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Moreing, A. C.||Somerveil, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Holmes, J. S.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, E.)|
|Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Hopkinson, A.||Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)||Spender-Clay, Lt.-CI. Rt. Hn. H. H.|
|Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Munro, P.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Nall, Sir J.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Hulbert, N. J.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Hunter, T.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Jackson, Sir H.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|James, Wing-Commander, A. W.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Jones, L. (Swansea, W.)||Patrick, C. M.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Keeling, E. H.||Peake, O.||Touche, G. C.|
|Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Peat, C. U.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Penny, Sir G.||Turton, R. H.|
|Kirkpatrick, W. M.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Petherick, M.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Latham, Sir P.||Pilkington, R||Wallace, Captain Euan|
|Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Leckie, J. A.||Radford. E. A.||Ward, Irene (Wallsend)|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Lees-Jones, J.||Ramsbotham, H.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Ramsden, Sir E.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Levy, T.||Rankin, R.||Wells, S. R.|
|Lewis, O.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Little, Sir E. Graham-||Rayner, Major R. H.||Williams. H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Reid. Sir D. D. (Down)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Lloyd, G. W.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Locker-Lampson, Comdr.O. S.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Wragg, H.|
|Loftus, P. C.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Lyons, A. M.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'nderry)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|M'Connell, Sir J.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Sir James Blindell and Commander|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.||Southby.|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Division No. 236.]||AYES.||[9.23 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Burghley, Lord||Dawson, Sir P.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Burton, Col. H. W.||Denman, Hon. R. D.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Campbell, Sir E. T.||Denville, Alfred|
|Albery, I. J.||Cartland, J. R. H.||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Carver, Major W. H.||Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Cary, R. A.||Dower, Capt. A. V. G.|
|Assheton, R.||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Channon, H.||Dugdale, Major T. L.|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Duggan, H. J.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Christle, J. A.||Duncan, J. A. L.|
|Balniel, Lord||Clarry, Sir Reginald||Dunglass, Lord|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J.||Eckersley, P. T.|
|Belt, Sir A. L.||Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Edmondson, Major Sir J.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Cooper, Rt.Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh.W.)||Elliston, G. S.|
|Blaker, Sir R.||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Emery, J. F.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Craddock, Sir R. H.||Emmott, C. E. G. C.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Craven-Ellis, W.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Bracken, B.||Critchley, A.||Everard, W. L.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Crooke, J. S.||Fildes, Sir H.|
|Brass, Sir W.||Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Findlay, Sir E.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Fleming, E. L.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Cross, R. H.||Fremantle, Sir F. E.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Crowder, J. F. E.||Ganzoni, Sir J.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Cruddas, Col. B.||Gibson, C. G.|
|Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Culverwell, C. T.||Gluckstein, L. H.|
|Bull, B. B.||Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil)||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Davison. Sir W. H.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Kelly, W. T.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Foot, D. M.||Kirkwood, D.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Frankel, D.||Lathan, G.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Gardner, B. W.||Lawson, J. J.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Garro Jones, G. M.||Leach, W.|
|Barr, J.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Lee, F.|
|Batey, J.||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Leonard, W.|
|Bellenger, F.||Gibbins, J.||Leslie, J. R.|
|Benson, G.||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Logan, D. G.|
|Bevan, A.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Lunn, W.|
|Broad, F. A.||Grenfell, D. R.||McEntee, V. La T.|
|Bromfield, W.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||McGhee, H. G.|
|Brooke, W.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Maclean, N.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||MacMillan, M. (Western Isles)|
|Buchanan, G.||Groves, T. E.||Marklew, E.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hall. G. H. (Aberdare)||Maxton, J,|
|Cape, T.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Messer, F.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hardle, G. D.||Montague, F.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.)|
|Compton, J.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Cove, W. G.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Muff, G.|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Daggar, G.||Holdsworth, H.||Owen, Major G.|
|Dalton, H.||Holland, A.||Parker, J.|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Jagger, J.||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Dobble, W.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Potts, J.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Price, M. P.|
|Ede, J. C.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Edwards. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Jones, H. Haydn.(Merioneth)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Ritson, J.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)||Smith, E. (Stoke)||Watson, W. McL.|
|Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)||Westwood, J.|
|Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)||Smith, T. (Normanton)||White, H. Graham|
|Rowson, G.||Sorensen, R. W.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Salter, Dr. A.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Seely, Sir H. M.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Sexton, T. M.||Thurtle, E.|
|Shinwell, E.||Tinker, J. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Short, A.||Viant, S. P.||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Mathers.|
|Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)||Walker, J.|
§ Question put, "That the clause as amended stand part of the bill."926
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 238; Noes, 128927
|Division No. 237.]||AYES.||[9 34 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Dower, Capt. A. V. G.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)||Lloyd, G. W.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.|
|Albery, I. J.||Dugdale, Major T. L.||Loftus, P. C.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Duggan, H. J.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Duncan, J. A. L.||Lyons, A. M.|
|Assheton, R.||Dunglass, Lord||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield).|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Eckersley, P. T.||M'Connell, Sir J.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||McKie, J. H.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Elliston, G. S.||Magnay, T.|
|Balneil, Lord||Emery. J. F.||Maitland, A.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Erskine Hill, A. G.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Everard, W. L.||Markham, S. F.|
|Blaker, Sir R.||Fildes, Sir H.||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Findlay, Sir E.||Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Fleming, E. L.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)|
|Bracken, B.||Ganzoni, Sir J.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Gibson, C. G.||Mitcheson, Sir G. G.|
|Brass, Sir W.||Gluckstein, L. H.||Moreing, A. C.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Munro, P.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Neven-Spence. Maj. B. H. H.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Grimston, R. V.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.|
|Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Bull, B. B.||Guest,Maj. Hon. O.(C'mb'rw'll,N.W.)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Burghley, Lord||Guy, J. C. M.||Patrick, C. M.|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.||Peake, O.|
|Butler, R. A.||Hamilton, Sir G. C.||Peat, C. U.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Hanbury, Sir C.||Penny, Sir G.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Hannah, I. C.||Perkins, W. R. D,|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Petherick, M.|
|Cary, R. A.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Pilkington, R.|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Hepworth, J.||Radford, E. A.|
|Channon, H.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Herbert, Captain S. (Abbey)||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Christle, J. A.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Holmes, J. S.||Rankin, R.|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Hopkinson. A.||Rayner, Major R. H.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Hore-Bellsha, Rt. Hon. L.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh,W.)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Craddock, Sir R. H.||Hulbert, N. J.||Remer, J. R.|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Hunter, T.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Critchley, A.||Jackson, Sir H.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Crooke, J. S.||James, Wing-Commander A. W.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Jones, L. (Swansea, W.)||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'nderry)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Keeling, E. H.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Cross, R. H.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Kirkpatrick, W. M.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Salmon, Sir I,|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Latham, Sir P.||Salt, E. W.|
|Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil)||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Leckie, J. A.||Sandeman, Sir N. S.|
|Dawson, Sir P.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lees-Jones, J.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.|
|Denville, Alfred||Levy, T.||Savery, Servington|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Lewis, O.||Selley, H. R.|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Little, Sir E. Graham-||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Shaw, Captain W. T. (Fortar)||Strickland, Captain W. F.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Shepperson, Sir E. W.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.||Sutcliffe, H.||Wells, S. R.|
|Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Tasker, Sir R. I.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Smith, L. W. (Hallam)||Tate, Mavis C.||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe||Touche, G. C.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, E.)||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.||Turton, R. H.||Wragg, H.|
|Spender-Clay Lt.-CI. Ht. Hn. H. H.||Wakefield, W. W.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Spens, W. P.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)||Wallace, Captain Euan||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (w'm'l"d)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)||Commander Southby and Dr.|
|Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.||Ward, Irene (Wallsend)||Morris-Jones.|
|Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Muff, G.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Grenfell, D. R.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Owen, Major G.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Parker, J.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Potts, J.|
|Barr, J.||Hardie, G. D.||Price, M. P.|
|Batey, J.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Bellenger, F.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Benson, G.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Ritson, J.|
|Bevan, A.||Henderson T. (Tradeston)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.,|
|Broad, F. A.||Holdsworth, H.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bromfield, W.||Holland, A.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Brooke, W.||Jagger, J.||Rowson, G.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Buchanan, G.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Burke, W. A.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Cape, T.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Shinwell, E.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Short, A.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Compton, J.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cove, W. G.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Kirkwood, D.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Daggar, G.||Lathan, G.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Dalton, H.||Lawson, J. J.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Leach, W||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lee, F.||Strauss. G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Dobble, W.||Leonard, W.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Leslie, J. R.||Thurtle, E.|
|Ede, J. C.||Logan, D. G.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Lunn, W.||Viant, S. p.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||McEntee, V. La T.||Walker, J.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||McGhee, H. G.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||MacLaren, A.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Foot, D. M.||Maclean, N.||Westwood, J.|
|Frankel, D.||MacMillan, M. (Western Isles)||White, H. Graham|
|Gardner, B. W.||Marklew, E.||Whiteley. W.|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Maxton, J.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Messer, F.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Montague, F.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Gibbins, J.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Ha'kn'y. S.)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Morrison, R. C (Tottenham, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Groves and Mr. Mathers.|
§ Clauses 28 and 29 ordered to stand part of the Bill.