§ 3.46 p.m.
§ Mr. DALTON
I beg to move,That this House takes note of the Reports of the Commissioners for the Special Areas and expresses its profound regret at the inability of His Majesty's Government to produce any effective policy for dealing with the fundamental causes which have rendered whole areas derelict or for bringing any substantial measure of relief to the victims of these economic circumstances.His Majesty's Opposition take this occasion to censure His Majesty's Government for their shocking failure in the so-called Special Areas. It has apparently been supposed that, because the Government have re-christened distressed areas as Special Areas, they have advanced a stage towards some solution of the problem. I have the honour to represent in this House one of the most distressed areas in the whole country, containing as fine a body of men and women as can be found anywhere in the land. To represent those people here is one long heart-ache and one long tale of hope deferred. In my constituency, and in the surrounding area included within the Bishop Auckland Employment Exchange area, more than 50 per cent. of the insured population is unemployed, and of those unemployed more than 80 per cent. have had no work for more than one year. There are, indeed, in this area a number of smaller areas, within which more than 90 per cent. of the whole population is; and has long been, unemployed. There was a recent discussion in the Auckland Rural District Council in which complaint was made because certain jobs of work had been given to men who had been unemployed for less than five years. That is a measure of the standard of human needs which has been imposed by events upon people in that part of the country. Mr. Malcolm Stewart, the Government's Commissioner, in November last told the Press that most of the boys attending the Bishop Auckland Juvenile Training Centre showed signs of ill-nourishment, particularly, he added, the younger boys. That is the measure of the care which is being taken under this regime for our citizens of to-morrow.
I turn to the Special Areas as a whole. The three Special Areas in England and Wales contain 7 per cent. of the population of this country, but 20 per cent. of the unemployed. Greater London 1024 with three times the population of these three Special Areas has only half the number of unemployed. In the Scottish Special Area more than 25 per cent. of the insured population are unemployed, and nearly half of those who are wholly unemployed in that Special Area have had no work for more than a year.
The years are lengthening out. The Special Areas are full of men in middle age who have almost given up hope of ever finding work again. The Special Areas are full of young men who have never worked, through no fault of their own. The Special Areas are full of children who have never seen their parents come home from work, children who in their games play by turns at being the Means Test Man, a familiar figure in the Special Areas. Yes, the years are lengthening out in the Special Areas, and in those lengthening years everything is wearing out, patience, hope, health, boots, clothes, bed linen, pots and pans. All without replacement. Through years, gallant women in these areas have been starving and stinting themselves in order, somehow, to feed their men and their children. Through years that has gone on, and we ask how much longer is it to go on? How much longer are the Government going to remain ineffective in face of this problem? How long are these things to last?
There was no improvement last year in the Special Areas. In regard to the three Special Areas of England and Wales the Commissioner reported:The registered unemployed last year declined by 26,000.But this decline was almost exactly offset by the fact that 22,000 persons from these areas migrated in search of work else where. Therefore, there was no real improvement within the Special Areas with respect to unemployment. If we take the number of those wholly unemployed, there was an increase in West Cumber land and South-West Durham, a miserable petty decline of less than 8.000 on the year on Tyneside, a bare 4,000 in the rest of Durham, a bare 3,000 in South Wales and less than 9,000 in Scotland. Therefore, the situation in the Special Areas though-out last year remained stagnant and stationary, with an ever-increasing strain upon ever-dwindling resources. The local authorities in these areas have battled manfully against terrible odds. They 1025 have succeeded in maintaining so far their social services at a worthy level, but financially these local authorities are very near the end of their tether.
The latest recruit but one to the National Government in this House is to pronounce the policy of the Government. I hope that he will have something fresh to tell us. The National Government have sent three gifts to the Special Areas. The means test was the first, the Unemployment Act was the second, and the Special Commissioners were the third. I speak to-day only of the third. What has the Special Commissioners done? I believe the Commissioner for England and Wales is doing his best, but he is cribbed, cabined and confined by red tape, regulations and restrictions. He has publicly complained of these. The Commissioner for Scotland seems to be a more complacant kind of man, more of a "Yes" man. The word "satisfactory" occurs rather too often in the reports of the Commissioner for Scotland. In any case, what have these Commissioners accomplished? Nothing but a few pathetic little odds and ends, a few men settled on the land in one corner of some special area, a little sewage improvement here, a new swimming pool there, little odds and ends, utterly inadequate both in scale and conception to the problem before us. It is like trying to cure a cancer by taking pills—no better.
What would we have the Government do? Best of all, to resign. Best of all, to hand over the job at which they have failed, to other hands. If, though it is unlikely, we carried our Motion to-night, that would be the fortunate sequel to this Debate. Failing that, as the second best, what would we have the Government do? To make a plan to restore the Special Areas and to carry out that plan with speed and vigour. [HON. MEMBERS: "Have you a plan?"] Yes. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is it?"] If hon. Members will do me the honour to be patient, per haps before I sit down I shall give them some glimmering. [An HON. MEMBER: "Only a glimmer?"] Into dark minds I know that bright light must come. Since hon. Members invite me to make a suggestion, I would begin by suggesting that they should read a short but very worth while pamphlet published by the Hogarth Press and written by Mr. Thomas Sharp, who is well known to all who study these matters as an authority 1026 on Town and Country Planning. The pamphlet is entitled "A Derelict Area —a study of South West Durham coal fields." But the argument in the pamphlet applies equally to other Special Areas.
Here is an area already intensively developed for industrial purposes, with a network of railways and roads, a power supply capable of unlimited extension, a male labour market where at present there is a huge supply and no demand, a female labour market that has never been properly utilised. All these essentials for industrial prosperity await an organisation that will utilise them. It is surely more sensible "—Here is the beginning of the plan and here is the glimmer—to rehabilitate this already industrialized region and regions like it, than to continue to industrialise new areas in other parts of the country. But that is exactly what is not happening. Why? The answer lies in the strange fact that in twentieth century England the poor are forced to keep the poor. Surrey is wealthy. Its poor rate is 1s. 4d. Durham is in dire poverty. Its poor rate is 8s. 10d. Eastbourne is the home of the unemployed rich. Its rates are is. Jarrow is the home of the unemployed poor. Its rates are 18s. 3d. In these circumstances there is nothing remarkable in the fact that new industries avoid the distressed areas and that even existing industries escape from them if they can.If the present Southward drift of industry continues, before long the whole of British industry will be gathered in an ever-expanding ring around Greater London—Greater London which in time of peace is a geographical abortion and in time of war would be a death-trap for millions. The sooner we reverse this drift and take proper steps for the geographical dispersion of our industry and for putting back industry into the Special Areas, the better for our national health and for our national security. I continue by quoting again from Mr. Sharp's pamphlet:It is but the barest justice that the burden of poverty should be equally distributed over the whole country. But action will need to be more positive than that. The Government should offer special inducements to new industrial concerns to establish themselves in the derelict areas. It should itself set the example by opening up works of its own there; and if inducements and encouragements fail, then it should enforce an industrial planning scheme that will direct us out of the muddle and misery of present unplanned and uncontrolled enterprise.'These are the two points on which I 1027 desire to concentrate this afternoon. There are other points which many of my hon. Friends behind me will no doubt take up and develop later. The two points to which I wish to apply myself are first of all the question of rating with particular relation—
§ Mr. DALTON
I would remind my hon. Friend who says "Hear, hear" that in these derelict areas all values, including land values, have been practically destroyed. Let him get that clearly into his head.
§ Mr. DALTON
The problem in these areas is to bring in new values from outside. In the second place I desire to concentrate attention upon State control of the location of industry. First, as regards the unequal burden of rates. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who is now the Secretary to the Department of Over seas Trade made a report in 1934, at the request of the Government, on the North-East depressed area, and in that report he wrote very clearly and definitely as follows:The unequal burden imposed by high rates due to unemployment should be re moved. Apart from the fact that the present situation does not appear to be defensible on grounds of equity or logic, its effect upon the depressed areas is not constant but cumulative.The hon. and gallant Gentleman made this practical proposal in his report:The remedy which would achieve the best results would be to grant from the Exchequer such further relief as would re duce the cost of public assistance still falling upon the rates to the average level obtaining throughout the country.That is the proposal of the present Secretary to the Department of Overseas Trade. He is still a member of the Government, and I hope that the Government have been seriously considering his proposal that the burden of rates should be so adjusted, by means of a modification of the block grant or by a special grant in addition to the block grant, that that part of the rates which is due to public assistance should be reduced in these areas to the average level for the whole country. The hon. and gallant 1028 Gentleman is absolutely clear and explicit in his recommendation on that point. To that I have nothing to add. But a further question has now arisen regarding rates, because of the success of the railway companies in securing a declaration from the courts diminishing, and in some cases completely wiping out, their rate liabilities. This raises a special and urgent problem. The County Council of Durham is under an obligation, by this judgment, to repay £60,000 to the London and North Eastern Railway Company, which company, moreover, is to be entirely derated for five years from 1st April, 1936; and a similar situation arises in other Special Areas in regard to other railway companies.
I submit that the Government should shoulder these repayments itself, certainly in the Special Area, and, it is open to argue, in the country;as a whole. Further more, if it is indeed the present law that a great railway cony any has less liability to pay rates than one small land owner, less liability than one small shop keeper, less liability than one small householder—because that is what it means—if a great railway company has less liability to pay rates than thousands of poor people struck by trade depression in these Special Areas if that be the law, the law is monstrously unjust and must be changed. This legal decision has thrown into a clear light the injustice of the present rating law.
I turn from the rating question to the other matter, the location of industry. This I regard as fundamental to this discussion. It is essential to bring new means of livelihood into the Special Areas. "Have you a plan?" asked an inquirer opposite a, little while ago. I said, "Yes, Sir," and I quote from a declaration made by the Labour party at their last annual conference:No approach to a solution of this tragic human and economic problem is possible without deliberate State interference with the location of industry and the introduction of suitable new industries into these areas to create new sources of employment and additional rateable value. An out standing example of this policy would be the introduction of new publicly-owned plant in the mining areas for the extraction of oil and other by-products from coal.The Lord President of the Council has witnessed the introduction of such a plant, privately owned, in a constituency that once was his and is his no longer.
§ The LORD PRESIDENT of the COUNCIL (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald)
Billingham is not in Seaham.
§ Mr. DALTON
I was not speaking of Billingham, but of the new plant at Sea-ham Harbour. Will. the right hon. Gentleman now, therefore, do his best to use such influence as he commands for the opening up of similar plant else where? We emphasise the importance of this type of new industry, and in addition, afforestation should also be specially stimulated in the depressed areas; and under present conditions a number of other industries, especially light industries, should be established in these areas rather than elsewhere. Do hon. Members opposite accept the desirability of a policy of this kind? Perhaps they do not all accept it. If not, for the strengthening of my case I will quote again from that admirable report of the Secretary to the Department of Over seas Trade. The hon. and gallant Gentleman there says:The introduction of new industries into the area under investigation is of major importance, since it would provide a much needed improvement in the industrial balance, and in this connection the light industries have a special employment value, since they belong generally to the large labour and small capital group.He goes on to state:The first practical step in this direction would be taken by exercising a measure of control in some form of the national planning of industry.Here again the hon. and gallant Gentleman in that report was considerably in advance of the practice of, the Government. Positive State action is necessary if these new industries are to be brought into these old areas. Without positive State action all the well-meant activities of local Development Boards will be im potent, and all appeals addressed to private employers will be quite useless. The Prime Minister has made several such appeals. He made one during the General Election and he has made them at other times. They have fallen on deaf ears. Most of the employers do not even take the trouble to answer letters addressed to them by the Government's Commissioner. Mr. Malcolm Stewart has re corded in his last report that he addressed 5,800 letters to large firms whose names had been given to him by the Federation of British Industries and other associations of employers. He addressed 1030 to them a questionnaire in an endeavour to interest them in the distressed areas. Of those 5,800 there were 4,100 who had not even the courtesy to send a formal acknowledgment of the letter. Can it be a matter of surprise that the Com missioner recently stated in the Press:I must confess to a keen sense of disappointment at the result of the circular I sent out to 5,000 large firms who might, I thought, help in some measure to solve the difficulty with which the nation is faced. The majority of those I addressed did not even send a formal acknowledgment of my letter.That is a discreditable response and it emphasises the fact that if new industries are to go into these old areas positive State action is necessary. What positive State action could be taken? We must move to the root of the matter. In future there should be a system of Government licensing of sites for all new factories. It should be laid down that a new factory in this country shall only be erected on a site which has been approved by some form—I do not want to go into details—of National Planning Commission appointed by the Government. The Government should definitely intervene in deciding whether a new factory shall go to Durham or South Wales or Cumberland or Scotland, or whether it shall be allowed to cling on to the outskirts of Greater London, in Hertfordshire or Essex or Middlesex. Until the Government take positive control in that way over the location of new industries you will not get the flow of new means of livelihood into the distressed areas.
If it be said that this is a revolutionary proposal and as such is terrifying to hon. Members opposite, I am assured that in the Irish Free State, not a Socialist community whatever else we may say of it, this power already exists and is exercised, and I believe it exists and is exercised in a number of other countries. I have a letter from a friend of mine who is in business, who tells me that a firm with which he is acquainted recently desired to set up a factory in Dublin, in order to get behind Mr. De Valera's tariff wall. The firm was told by the Department of Trade in the Free State that Dublin was full up, and that if the firm wished to establish a factory in Ireland it must go to a certain named area where in the judgment of the Free State Government industrial development 1031 was more necessary. To that named area the firm went, and has started production. I am not at liberty to disclose its name, but I challenge denial of the fact that in the Irish Free State this practice obtains and is in operation. The Free State Government decides where new factories shall go. I submit that the Government of this country should take a like decision.
These proposals in regard to rating and the location of industry are plain and practical, and would be important and cumulative in their effects if they were adopted. In substance they are proposals which, I repeat, have been recommended by one who is a Member of the present Government and, broadly speaking, are in line with the suggestions made by the Commissioner for England and Wales. By these means—I do not speak of any other means; I will leave other means to be explored by subsequent speakers—some thing could be accomplished even by the present Government and even within the present framework of capitalism to deal with the problems of the Special Areas.
§ Sir PATRICK HANNON
The hon. Member has referred to a Government guarantee. Does he propose that there should be the placing of industry, and that the Government should guarantee its economic success?
§ Mr. DALTON
Speaking for myself I have no objection to a Government guarantee provided that the community gets value for it. The objection we on this side of the House have taken to the system of Government guarantees hither to prevailing is that the private concern takes all the advantages and the community does not share in the asset created. If, however, the community is to share in the asset created, then, for my part, I have no objection to a guarantee. I should like to submit this special consideration in the case of light industries as distinguished from the heavy industries. The development of trans port facilities and the cheapening of electric power allows them to be located within a comparatively wide area according to the choice of those who are in charge of them. If you get entering into Special Areas a stream of new industries, including light industries, trade will bring trade, and secondary employment will follow, and many of these areas, even 1032 judged from the narrowest profit-making point of view, without any Government guarantee being involved, would become profitable as the entry of these light industries proceeds. Light industries are less tied to a particular location than heavy industries. I want to emphasise that point. As to a Government guarantee, personally if I could bring new livelihood and wages into these areas, I would not boggle at a Government guarantee for a term of years, provided that the community shared in the advantages resulting from it.
§ Mr. DALTON
Yes, I say that, even within the present framework of capital ism, if the two lines of policy I have been advocating were adopted by the Government—the equalisation of the burden of the public assistance rate throughout the country, and deliberate Government control over the location of new factories—then, even within the present framework of capitalism much could be done towards the restoration of these special areas.
But if it were the public interest, and not private profit, which was the criterion of economic action, the problem of the Special Areas would have been solved years ago by a deliberate replanning of these areas on the basis of a network of co-ordinated public enterprises, operating on public land and publicly-owned natural resources, including minerals. This problem could have been solved long ago. Surely it would then have been clear that it does not pay the community that great numbers of people should continue year after year without employment and, through no fault of their own, without making any contribution to the national wealth. It does not pay the community that such a state of affairs should continue, with an ever-declining standard of life in these areas, and ever-declining hope. It is surely clear that, if we view this matter from the point of view of the public interest, both human and economic values are being irretrievably destroyed, as long as we have the shameful spectacle continuing, year after year, of abandoned coal-pits and rusting machinery ringed round with abandoned communities and rusting human lives.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MacDONALD
The hon. Member in moving the Motion began by a slight exercise of his imagination and asked the House what would happen if the Government had to resign to-night. I have listened to his speech and to his plan, which, by the way, is not his own, and I have listened to the very carefully guarded conditions which he attached to his observations about providing finance in order to induce light industries to go north. I have listened to his views regarding rating and the railways, and I am bound to say that if what the hon. Member has said is put alongside all the reports, the actual work, and the definite proposals made by the Commissioner, the Government Commissioner is much more revolutionary than the hon. Member, and certainly much more practical. The hon. Member said that he had a plan to rehabilitate the Special Areas. He did not bring it forward. He read from a pamphlet, which was very doubtful, and after giving details of the two points with which he dealt, he said that if that was not going to be successful, the Government ought to be compelled to make it a success. Is this the plan, is this the mind, is this the programme, which is going to be put against that to which I am going to refer as a new hope for the Special Areas? The Special Areas have been made already far too much the subject of political capital.
The hon. Member spoke about rating. A revision of the block grant is due next year, and he can rest assured that the point of view of the Special Areas will not be lost sight of in the general review. He referred in very condemnatory language to a legal decision that has been given in regard to railway rates. He knows perfectly well that that is not yet a final decision, and that certain points are still under consideration. It would be quite improper for me to make any comments upon a matter which is to receive further examination. We have some regard for the independence of the judiciary of this country and consider as very objectionable the practice of interfering through political functions with the work and responsibilities of the judiciary. Nobody shares that view, I am sure, more than the hon. Member himself. He asked us whether we had a plan. It is perfectly 1034 clear that we have a very decided plan, comprising various sections, in every one of which during the last six months, according to the report, substantial progress has been made in their evolution. Is it not the case that one of the characteristics of a Special Area is that it is very dependent upon certain industries which have been peculiarly and specially hard hit during many years of unemployment?
§ Mr. R. MacDONALD
If those in Special Areas who are beginning to see a glimmer of hope, were asked what they thought about tariffs they would regard that interjection as very ill-informed. But let us get on. The Government have had the situation under their observation and active survey ever since they came into office. Hon. Members opposite have not made themselves acquainted with the special provisions which have been made in trade agreements to open up closed or semi-closed markets where other exports have been in competition with British exports.
§ Mr. R. MacDONALD
Surely the Polish Agreement and the French Agree ment are beneficial to South Wales. They were negotiated for the purpose of making the demands upon the labour of British miners more ample than they have been before. Tariffs themselves contain the possibilities of such agreements. Without tariffs these agreements would never have been made. But for these agreements and planning by the Government, certain of these coalfields would have been in a more serious condition than they are to day. What has happened in the case of the shipping industry on the North-East Coast, struck hard as it was by bounties, by illegitimate competition, by the general falling-off in international trade and by the building of ships by other countries, to mention the chief reasons why certain strips of the North-East Coast fell into such a bad way? The other day I heard from an old friend of mine there that things are looking up, thanks to the activities of the Government—the subsidies for shipping, the scrap-and-build subsidy and the other steps which the Government have taken to increase the 1035 volume of international trade and to benefit the shipping of this country.
The special circumstances of the Special Areas cannot be divorced from the general condition of the country as it was when we found it—[An HON. MEMBER: "When you left it!"] —although those who believed that I was right would not follow me. I say rightly that the Special Areas cannot be dissociated from the general position of the country, and the National Government, on the admission of everybody, have so handled the affairs of this country that its general condition is better than the general condition of any economic rival from one end of the earth to the other. The policy of the Government is to secure that the general economic and industrial condition will be improved, because that improvement is bound to filter into the Special Areas and give them a new life. I would, however, beg the House to study very carefully the warnings given by both the commissioners that the work they have under taken is not work that can give quick results. Its purpose is to reinvigorate the industrial and social life of these communities, where deterioration is swift but restoration is slow.
The Motion on the Paper is a confession of bankruptcy both of ideas and of practical suggestions. When I was Prime Minister I received many deputations from, and held many conferences in connection with, the distressed areas, as some hon. Members opposite know perfectly well. They know that I agreed completely with the eloquent descriptions which they gave of the conditions. They will also remember that, when the facts regarding conditions were found out as far as possible, invariably I turned and said to them, "I would like you, if you will, to answer me one straightforward, simple question, and I do not want you to answer me now, but to consider it and communicate with me. The question is: 'What would you do if you were in my place?' "I wanted to be able to use the practical knowledge of people living in the areas. The report of the two Commissioners which hon. Members have in their hands is far more advanced, is more thorough and is more radical in its conception than any suggestions ever made to me by those who are continually criticising us without giving any help.
1036 There is one thing, however, which I think it is perfectly clear has been for gotten to-day by the Opposition. It will be remembered that when the Government decided to appoint the two Commissioners, they asked for a Vote of £2,000,000. The Government made it clear that the £2,000,000 was a Vote on account, and was not a limiting Vote at all. Since then the Government have made the same statement time after time, and said that the Commissioners were free to exceed that amount if the plans developed and required that it should be exceeded. That declaration had no effect on the propaganda and misrepresentation that have been indulged in ever since the Commissioners were appointed. The Commissioners now report that they have approved schemes involving grants of over £3,000,000 for England and Wales and £850,000 for Scotland, and, as is known, an Estimate on account of that expenditure of £3,000,000 is to be presented to this House very shortly. More over the Commissioners not only report that they have approved these schemes, but state that they have always considered schemes on their merits and with out regard to a maximum financial limit. There must be a misunderstanding some where, but there, was never any misunderstanding on the part of the Government or of the Commissioners who were spending the money.
§ Mr. R. MacDONALD
The House has already voted £2,000,000. The Commissioners have committed themselves to £4,000,000 and the Vote is to be for £3,000,000 in order to enable them to go on.
§ Mr. R. MacDONALD
I think there is some confusion on this point. The House has voted £2,000,000 on account. The commissioners have committed them selves to just over £2,000,000 in England and Scotland. A Vote is to be put before the House to enable the £3,000,000 to be placed at the disposal of those who are dispensing it. The discussion will not take place on the basis upon which I am standing at the moment. 1037 When the Paper is published, and the Vote is put forward. the House may be certain that everything will be in proper financial order.
Another point of which a great deal has been made is that the Commissioners have been constrained and restrained by red tape and departmental interference. All these schemes have difficulty in starting, but I understand that now that corn-plaint has been removed, and, so far as I am able to see, it does not occur in the reports, but exactly the opposite.
I would like now to deal with the plan. My hon. Friend left out a very important initial principle of the plan. He began by talking about the removal of industries. But we arc doing more than that, arid this is my first quarrel with the imperfections of his scheme. He knows that in South Wales and in Durham one of the greatest threats tending to make even dark conditions more dark is the failure to get industries into those places. It is not merely their failure, but Mr. Stewart's failure to get employers even to be civil. That is a most deplorable experience, and I think it is right that those employers should understand how the House of Commons regards their con duct or lapse of it in this matter. But that is not the beginning. The beginning is with those who threaten to remove the works that are there now, and the first part of our plan is to stop that. The best example I can give is Mr. Stewart's ultimately successful attempt to keep the Ebbw Vale Ironworks in existence. Those who produce plans from the other side do not seem to be aware that one of the most important features in connection with the Special Areas is that we should do all we possibly can to keep in those areas everything that has been started there. I want to say at the same time that the Ebbw Vale Ironworks was kept open owing to the influence of the Commissioner, with whom the Government are co-operating. A very important tinworks, which was about to be removed from another part of South Wales to Lincolnshire, is to remain in the district. I am not taking any more credit for that than is proper, but I do say—and the House knows it, and everyone of our critics knows it—that had there been no special Government policy effectively applied to deal with the circumstances of the Special Areas, the Ebbw Vale works would not have been opened and that 1038 tin works would have been removed. We shall certainly persevere in our attempts, and as I shall show presently, we hope that the local authorities and the people themselves in the areas will help us in removing the obstacles that are in our way.
I come to the second part of our scheme, which is the preparation for the reception of the new industries. The hon. Gentleman opposite can have as much Government power and authority as he likes, but even with all that force at his disposal he cannot get new industries to come into certain parts of these Special Areas that have been allowed to go to rack and ruin, where the conditions, the foundations, the sites, the facilities for new industries do not exist and cannot be supplied by the new industries themselves, individually or separately. That is our second stage. The hon. Gentleman and his friends will find that a considerable part of this second stage is taken up with reports of how clearances of sites are going on. As a matter of fact, the clearing of sites is the first substantial step of new industry in progressing from special hardship to ordinary trade. In the case of the Special Areas the first thing necessary is to keep the old industries there, and the second thing is to prepare for the new industries, and that is being done with great energy under the auspices of the Commissioner. Water frontages have to be put in order, slag heaps removed, new roads made, clearances effected, railway and transport facilities provided. This kind of work has been mainly confined to the North-East Coast up to now, but it is also being undertaken in South Wales. Moreover, the very fact that the old industries have ebbed away has caused the means for carrying them on to be woefully neglected. Thus it comes about that in places like Whitehaven, Maryport, Dumbarton and the Tyne, harbours have to be reconditioned, water depths made and similar work, done. That work is now being pushed ahead. Without it, you can whistle for new industries, but they will never conic. That work done, you have opened the door for the introduction of new industries.
There is another matter which has occupied attention in connection with the light industries for a very long time, and that is the possibility of using collective money for the purpose of pro- 1039 viding the common capital required for trading estates. The form of the proposal is that the cheap money that has been made available by the policy of the Government can be used for this purpose of encouraging new industries. I know that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have been discussing that problem, and it has been very hard to find a solution, even to find a solution sufficiently well worked out to justify public money being risked in making an experiment. I am glad to say that we have got to that stage. A plan for creating trading estates has been worked out and the Government are at the moment considering certain points in regard to its extension to providing facilities for new capital for working the estates. I am authorised to say that the matter is being very carefully examined in the same way as the decisions which preceded our arrival at this point were examined and approved and accepted.
The estates are, not to operate for profit, but are to be in the nature of public service companies, for the specific purpose of encouraging those inclined to start new industries in those areas. The method of service will be to clear sites that are suitable and sites that are rapidly being made suitable, to provide factory and workshop buildings and equipment, including power, and to let them out on lease. I am profoundly convinced that once we can get that plan into working order we shall find that we have done what is absolutely necessary, if we are to compete with districts like Slough and others in the West of London and bring light industries into special areas like Durham and South Wales, more particularly taking advantage of those places where there is a fairly good hinter land of population. Both South Wales and Durham provide that condition. There is another example of bringing into operation novel and unorthodox ideas which are very difficult to make practicable but which are of importance in any comprehensive scheme of planning for dealing with the Special Areas. The first experiment in this respect is to be made on the North-East coast where the selection of sites to be purchased is already well in hand. Negotiations are also going on in South Wales, and the Cumberland Development Council is considering whether the 1040 plan, with modifications, can be applied to Cumberland.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
I have a very wide field to cover, and if the hon. Gentle man will make a note of his points and put them later, he be answered in due time. It has been said that the Government have been pressing upon employers to found Industries in the Special Areas. Now tile Government themselves propose to adopt the recommendations which they have been pressing upon private employers and to place important orders and plan new industries within those areas in the course of the development and execution of their rearmament scheme. I wish to make it clear that in deciding the areas where this work is to be carried on, rigid considerations as regards the military and strategic suitability of the districts have to be taken into account and also fairness to the normal industrial districts. The House may take it that the Special Areas will receive every possible benefit from this rearmament programme. The Prime Minister has already announced, with regard to ship building, the ideas of the Government, and in the placing of contracts, the distressed areas may rely upon their needs and facilities being kept in mind. In fixing the location of aerodromes and air stations those areas will also be specially considered. Strategic considerations must, of necessity, govern the location of fighting units. There are, how ever, air stations such as depots which can be placed in more remote areas, and in dealing with this point the Air Ministry have authorised me to say that they are carefully considering whether it is possible to establish new stations within those areas. For example, in South Wales there appears to be an opportunity for locating a station which should attract a consider able quantity of civilian labour, and steps have already been taken to investigate possible sites with this end in view. Further, the Government have come to a definite decision that a new Government factory which will be required in the carrying out of the rearmament programme will be located also in South Wales. I am able to say that the site has already been decided upon. I am 1041 Afráid, however, that at this moment no indication of its position can be given.
There is our statement—to retain as much of the industry which you have now got in those areas as you can, and to prepare the way for new industries. We have found that there is a group of objections on the part of outside manufacturers to coming within these Special Areas. Those objections are small, taken separately, but are formidable when taken together. They refer to such matters as amenities, possibilities of foundations and so forth. There is the first stage of your new industry. To secure the employment of labour, clearly you must provide the facilities that arc required. Then you come to the second stage—that of getting the industries into the areas. The Government have shown faith and their confidence in the Special Areas by making the announcement which the House has heard, and even though it is in general terms, let there be no mistake about the execution of the promise. The Government are prepared to show their confidence and their trust.
Hon. Members find that in the report a very serious warning is made, and any body who is studying this problem realistically and has a genuine desire to see some way through it, will have been impressed by that warning. It is, that under the conditions of production, the production of coal and so on, no one dealing with this problem will have to overlook the questions of training arid transference. They have to be faced, and they will be faced. In order that the dangers of transference—and nobody is more aware of the dangers than I am—may be minimised almost to a vanishing point, special preparations should be made for the reception of the transferred men, special allowances made, special facilities given for the transferee, special arrangements for his reception and so on, not by charity, but by training, which everybody who has himself been transferred—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] —Yes, I have been transferred myself, and I know the great value of a friendly hand, and I know that the great mass of people would be willing and are indeed anxious to be transferred from where there is no prospect to where there is a prospect. During the past 12 months we have very considerably improved the conditions of transference of transference—
§ Mr. MacDONALD
—so that they may have a future of independence and confidence and not merely one of dependence. I believe the spirit of our people is still such as will respond to the first alternative and reject the second. And that is going on.
The great new industry that we all seem to strain after is the new industry of going back to the land. Here again I would refer hon. Members of this House to these reports. Some of us have been working at these problems for years, and I say without any chance of being challenged that the programme, the conception, the push behind the paragraphs on the land in the two reports before us has carried that problem, that desire, that impulse to a length that has never before been reached in this country. I am not going to refer to the details, but, combined with the Land Settlement Association and its great activities, its many sided activities, and its very wise provisions, the rapidity and size of the individual settlements, the Land Settlement Association has brought this generation very much nearer to a large, successful land settlement than anything hitherto done has brought it.
Then there is afforestation, the afforestation of 200,000 acres of land. The hon. Gentleman chided us that we had done nothing specific of that character, but this is 200,000 acres of permanent employment for 2,200 families —[An HON. MEMBER: "One thousand"]—and that is but the beginning. The hon. Gentleman opposite really must not become too reckless and careless in his accusations, because nobody knows better than he how difficult it has been to bring these proposals to their present practical stage, and whether it is 1,000 or 2,000 families connected with the forests, the asset goes on growing, and very soon a very substantial asset will be added to our national wealth and a very substantial element added to our rural population.
Here is our plan. It is to find people new employment, new occupation, men transferred from industries in districts that are going derelict to industries in districts that are fully alive; transference developed, land settlement united 1043 with afforestation; and going on in the meantime taking steps to increase the general sound health of the industry of the country. When that programme is fulfilled and that plan is carried through, then even the hon. Gentleman opposite would not venture to put on the Order Paper of the House of Commons such an absurd resolution.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ Mr. KINGSLEY GRIFFITH
I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down was so indignant with the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) for introducing this Vote. I have heard the right hon. Gentleman himself introduce just such Motions in the old days of 1928 and back them up with just such arguments, but not with quite so much substance behind them. The right hon. Gentleman changes more in his manner, in his outlook on life, by passing from one of those Boxes to the other than any man I have ever known. When he is standing at this Box, nobody is more full of censoriousness, if I may say so, at the lack of measures taken for the good of the unemployed, but when he is standing at the other Box, then there is an air almost of complacancy. I think I am entitled to use that word. I do not use it lightly, but just see what he said about shipbuilding. Anybody listening to his speech—and I am within the memory of the House—would have come to the conclusion that shipbuilding was really looking up and prosperous. I would ask him to look at page 32 of his own Commissioner's report, which does recognise that there is an improvement:It is expected that during the present year the tonnage under construction in the country … will rise to about 750,000 tons —foreshadowing an output of, say, 650,000 tons for the year.It goes on:While this is a welcome improvement, it must be pointed out that these figures are less than half of those ruling in 1929, and that it would be unwise to look for ward with any confidence to any substantial increase on the 1936 figures during the next few years.I am not accusing the right hon. Gentleman of trying to deceive the House in any way, but he only sees that part of the picture which pleases him, and to the awkward facts reported in a document like this he does not think it worth while to draw our attention. I call that complacency, and it is not in a mood like 1044 that that I think these problems ought to be faced. To do him justice, the Com missioner has not faced these problems with a complacency of that kind. I can not lay down this document without a profound feeling of respect for the man who prepared it and, considering that he has given his services quite freely, also a profound feeling of gratitude for his services and for the work that he has done. He is up against a great deal of difficulty, and really I do riot think the right hon. Gentleman can dispose of the latter by saying that all obstacles to the Commissioner's activities have been swept away. Some of the obstacles to his activities are contained in the Act which appointed him. He is only appointed for a very limited purpose, and there are a great many things that he can not do. He himself complained bitterly of those limitations, those statutory limitations, in his first report. Indeed, that first report was ore long wail of the things that he would like to do and the things that he cannot do because of the limitations on his powers.
He has also been hampered, as he admits, and as is generally recognised, by the lack of interest in the Special Areas on the part of industry in general. That is clearly laid down on page 6, and on page 15 he points to the difficulty of finding capital for new industries. Whether it is due to those difficulties or not, the results are disappointing in the extreme, and I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman does not face the matter more frankly and say that he too is disappointed with them. If I thought he was disappointed, I should be much more willing to believe we were likely to get something done in the future, but he seems so pleased; and pleased with what? The figures have been read out by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland—the figures for December, 1934, June, 1935, and December, 1935—and I need not re peat them. He gave the totals; I will give the percentages. The December, 1935, figure shows an advance of 1.5 per cent, on June and 2.3 on December. This is not very magnificent progress as a result of the Government's major policy in dealing with the Special Areas, and it has to be qualified by these figures with regard to transfers.
This is most significant. The 26,000 total increase quoted by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland is really wiped 1045 out altogether, because not only do we find that 22,000 were placed elsewhere during 1935 the Ministry of Labour or by voluntary organisations—that is on page 28—but if hon. Members look at page 34, they will find in addition that many others, through the ordinary channels, through their friends and relatives or private registry offices, also found employment in other parts, and when you add them to the 22,000, the 26,000 really has practically nothing left. So the Com missioner himself says. He faces the matter, and he says, on page 28:Indeed, if it had not been for the transference schemes … during 1935, there would during the year have been little decrease in unemployment in the Special Areas.That leads me to the point: How are we to regard transference? The right hon. Gentleman who made the last speech seems quite content to have transference as one of the main parts of his policy, and so, to do him justice, does the Com missioner, and that is one of the features of the Commissioner's report which made me most gloomy. He says—and I want to do him justice and to give his side of the case:There are opponents of transference who are carried away by excess of sentiment"—Perhaps that is my position—and shut their eyes to the hard facts of the situation, and there is a danger that, if they had their way the benefits of transfer would be denied to thousands of young persons who would be deprived of a fuller, healthier, and happier life.Of course, if any of us were faced in our own constituencies with the transfer of John Jones or William Smith, for whom we thought we could find a good job somewhere else, we would not hesitate to ask the Ministry of Labour to help him get that job. If, however, we regarded it, not from the point of view of one individual, but from the point of view of the process which is going on in regard to a whole community, with regard to, say, Bishop Auckland or Merthyr Tydfil or Middlesbrough, we could not help feeling it a matter of grave anxiety if we saw those who should be the support of the future prosperity of the area being taken away to other places. The individual problem may be solved by transference, but the problem of the area becomes worse. After all, whatever bad times these places have been through they 1046 have their history, their pride, their hopes, their homes and their social services; they also have their wish, if I may quote the speech to which we all listened yesterday, to be "worthy of the heritage which is ours." Can they be worthy of their heritage if they find some of their best workmen, particularly some of their brightest juveniles—because these will be the ones to be chosen—taken away in increasing quantities to other parts of the country?
It seems to me that there are two ways of helping the distressed areas: one is to bring work to the areas, and the other is to drain the areas of men and put them in work in other parts of the country. The first is far preferable, and the second is only the last policy that should be adopted. There is all the difference in outlook if work is brought to an area. What you are saying then is, "The ship is leaking, all hands to the pumps"; but if you adopt transference as the main policy you say, "The ship is sinking, all hands to the boats."
§ Mr. R. MacDONALD
I did not call transference my main policy. "New industries" is the policy I desire.
§ Mr. GRIFFITH
I was not so much trying to put what I said upon the right hon. Gentleman, as calling attention to a passage in this report in which it appeared to me that the Commissioner was being driven back more and more upon transference. If it is inevitable he must do it, but it is a most gloomy fact to have to face. The test of success in a Special Areas policy which I should apply is whether it enables the Special Areas to take into employment their present population with its normal increase. Judged by that test, I think we have to say that the policy at present adopted is a failure. On page 28 of the report we find that the insured population in a single year has gone up by 12,000 in the Special Areas. Then there is the frank statement with regard to the 22,000 or more who have been transferred.
Suppose transference is taken as nothing but the last remedy for solving the problem of the Special Areas. I will push it to a ridiculous extreme because it sometimes tests one's proposition. Sup pose the Ministry of Labour had succeeded in transferring everybody from the Special Areas, except 10,000 insured persons all of whom were employed. We 1047 should then be able to say that the percentage of unemployment had gone and that, therefore, the areas were the most prosperous parts of the country. That would, however, be obviously untrue. I have taken the extreme instance in order to show that wherever we are getting what appear to be favourable figures which are only brought about by taking transference into account, we know that the figures must be on a false basis. On the figures there is failure, and a failure after the expenditure— I have heard it quoted in various ways by the first speaker and by the right hon. Gentleman —of £3,500,000. I am dealing only with England and Wales, and I am taking the figure from page 102 of the report. I am not suggesting that that money has been thrown away or that it has created no employment. A part of it was spent on social services which would not directly produce employment. It is not to be despised on that account, however, for one of the problems is to keep the unemployed in health and spirits during their period of unemployment.
The work-producing part of the scheme is quite considerable, but in spite of that the drift goes on. In spite of all these efforts the drift away from these areas goes on. In spite of these efforts the Special Areas are not succeeding in keeping their population in the homes which they know. Even with regard to the individual who gets a good job, it is a tragedy to be taken away from the people he knows to another part of the country. It may not perhaps be so in the case of Scotland, for Scotsmen are sometimes regarded as congenital migrants to other countries, but with regard to the people with whom I am familiar it is only by a tremendous wrench that they are brought to another part of the country. I suggest, therefore, that though you may be able to show an imposing total, you have not, as the result of this expenditure, solved the problem. I am almost bound t) say that you are hardly beginning to solve it.
I am not saying that there are no valuable suggestions in this report. If I were making my own list, I would include some of these things, but I believe that the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland was right in beginning with the weighting problem. I am one of those who still unrepentantly believe, although 1048 I have been told to the contrary by the Government Front Bench many times, that the House was given to understand that the whole burden of the able-bodied unemployed was to be taken over by the State. Members in all parties supposed that. They may have been wrong, but, at any rate, I think that it ought to be done. If it is not done directly in that way, some large concession—I was glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman does not close the door to hope in that direction—with regard to the weighting formula should be made in this direction, although I should not be satisfied with out the whole burden being taken over.
I ask that the restrictions on the Commissioner should be removed. The restriction that he cannot undertake schemes to which another Government Department is allowed, to contribute is a statutory condition of his appointment. I do not think that that works well. The way it works is that the Government Departments will not undertake schemes and the Commissioner cannot, with the consequence that work of the kind which the Commissioner pointed out in his first report remains undone. I also want a real extension of national development. The North-Eastern Housing Association is a useful step, although we realise that it is only represented by a token Vote of £100, for the simple reason. I conclude, that it is not actually operating. All this is in the future and we do not know how far it will be made a living reality.
I am glad to see the proposals with regard to sewerage and sewage disposal. The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland was inclined to take this too lightly, but I am glad to see that the commissioner is becoming sewage-minded. It is not a very pleasant idea, but those who have contributed to our sanitary conveniences are the greatest benefactors of the human race. This is the kind of work to which, I think, the attention of such a commissioner can very properly be directed. We on these benches have often been twitted because the suggestions we made were for kinds of work which do not produce ail immediate revenue. I am glad to see that the com missioner does not take so narrow a view, but takes the view that you can have dividends in health as well as in money. I welcome that expenditure of £642,000, and hope that it will be a prelude to more on the same lines, and that many 1049 other things and social improvements of that kind, which we on these benches have put forward in campaigns which have not been too successful, may be taken up as far as the commissioner's powers allow.
I am not sure that I understand the right hon. Gentleman's explanation in regard to the industrial estates and the financial organisation, both of which are features in the report of the commissioner. The right hon. Gentleman treated them as if they were one and the same problem, that is to say, that we were to have industrial estates and were to supply public money for running them. That is not how the commissioner puts it. Ho considers the establishment of trading estates as something which he has already decided upon within his own powers. He says:The First Trading Estates Company will be established in the North-East.That is something already done. When, however, he deals with the financing of new or expanding industries on page 15, be treats is as something which is to be. He says:There is no need here to examine at length the reasons why difficulty is experienced in obtaining capital to finance new industries in the special areas. The all-important fact is that the difficulty exists and is the subject of constant representation from each area.He goes on to point out that the provision of money of this kind is outside his powers, and that he cannot do it from the Special Areas Fund. I should like to know from the Minister of Labour whether there are, in fact, as the Commissioner puts it, two distinct proposals, or whether there is only one, and whether the Government will assent to the recommendation of the Commissioner which he made on the 26th July that a special fund should be created.
I come to the vexed question of preferential buying. It is going to be much more important in future, as the right hon. Gentleman has pointed out, be cause when the Government's armament programme comes forward there will be a great deal more in the question. I have so far spoken from the point of view of these benches and of the Special Areas generally. I have now to speak from the point of view of Middlesbrough and Tees-side. Unless Middlesbrough 1050 speaks through me or my colleagues its case may not be put at all. I say frankly that this arrangement of preferential buying, this use of the Clause which appears on page 17 of the Report—preference being given other things being equal to firms in the Special Areas as de fined in the First Schedule to the Special Areas (Development, and Improvement) Act, 1934 "—as the test by which to decide preference, is causing the most appalling in justice. The reason is that the Special Areas were never properly and scientifically defined in the first place. We have only to look at that excellent Report of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who now represents the Department of Overseas Trade, which is an admirable Report except in that respect. His reasons, at the top of page 70, for not taking Middlesbrough and Tees-side into the Special Areas for the purpose of his Report is not really worthy of him. Some of the reasons which he adopted really do not count. We hear it said that Billingham is in that area and that it has benefited accordingly, quite ignoring the fact that when that industry was established at least 2,000 people were brought with it—quite rightly, because they came from other works which were closed down. It is not to be sup posed that we get all the benefits from that industry. The most important thing is that the governing reason was that if Tees-side—were taken into the field of inquiry, there could be no valid argument against including also the Cleveland district of Yorkshire and thereby considerably extending the time required to complete the Report.Of course, Cleveland ought to have been brought in, but the fact remains that we are now confronted with a Schedule to an Act of Parliament which professes to define what the Special Areas are, and is now being made the basis of operations infinitely more important than anything done under the Act itself, although that Schedule is the result of the hon. Member who was then Civil Lord of the Admiralty and who was conducting those investigations not having time to get to Middlesbroug hand Tees-side. He was right to make his Report on the information he had, but to base legislation on a report which is admittedly incomplete is ridiculous. Middlesbrough and Tees-side is an integral part of the North-Eastern 1051 District. It was so treated in all previous inquiries, including the Board of Trade industrial inquiry in 1932. If we take the test of unemployment, the percentage of unemployed workers to insured men is 32 per cent.—a very considerable amount. At the time the Wallace Report was produced the figures for Great Britain were 16.1 per cent., for the Tyne and Durham as a whole 22.2 per cent., and for Middlesbrough 43 per cent. I admit that Jarrow was a good deal worse, with well over 50 per cent., but one cannot judge by extremes.
Therefore, I claim that Middlesbrough and Tees-side has every title to come into that area. What is happening now is quite ridiculous. Constructional work is being undertaken right at our doors, work which Middlesbrough workers have been doing for generations and the kind they know, and yet the work goes to a Scottish firm because the tenders were just the same and, other things being equal, the distressed area firm in Scotland got the contract. I say that this is a grave in justice, and that as long as such a distribution of the preferential orders goes on one cannot wonder that people in Middlesbrough and Tees-side will prefer chat the whole system of preferential orders should be swept away altogether, because they would then have a chance of getting their tenders accepted. I should be very sorry to see the whole system scrapped, but I want to see it sensibly administered, and I say that here we have a case which is crying out for redress, and I hope it will at least get the attention of the Government.
I do not apologise for having said that much on behalf of the district I represent, and I hope that other Members for districts similarly situated will make their voices heard. I come back to the main question, to the terms of this Motion. After reading it carefully I cannot find a single word in it with which I am not bound to agree, and while giving credit to the Government and to the commissioner for what has been done—I do not want to belittle anything done for the good of these areas—we on these benches must hold that the operations which have been undertaken are absolutely out of proportion to the great magnitude of the problem. It appears to us that the magnitude of the problem has not yet been properly appreciated, and for that reason 1052 we are bound to associate ourselves with this Motion.
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ Mr. DAGGAR
Those of us on these benches who represent Special Areas are pleased to have another opportunity of dealing with this problem. In my own constituency are three areas which are scheduled as being "special," although I consider the words "depressed" or "distressed" would be a much more accurate description of them and more in conformity with the actual conditions which exist; but accuracy nowadays is not a virtue of politicians. In dealing with this problem I shall bear in mind the two reports of the commissioner for England and Wales, both of which, in my opinion, are reports of a sincere, courageous and optimistic individual, one who appreciates the difficulties in the Special Areas, some of which are insurmountable. In my opinion their condition is part of a much larger problem, which cannot be solved either by training camps, schemes of reconditioning, grants to local authorities, or allotments and settlement schemes, and certainly not by cookery classes. More unconventional methods must be employed, although the Government will not agree with this.
But whatever our views may be on the policy of the Government during these years, we nevertheless appreciate the activities of the commissioner, and I want personally to thank him for what he has been able to do in the division which I have the honour to represent. Despite the fact that his activities have been restricted and hampered, he has succeeded in distributing the miserable, paltry £2,000,000, each pound of which is bound up with red tape and obsolete Govern mental procedure, in spite of what the Lord President of the Council has said. The commissioner himself says:Whilst they may not actually hamper the freedom and initiative of the commissioner so far as making proposals is concerned, they do result in restricting his powers to carry these proposals into effect.We are indebted to him for the time he devoted to organising the exhibition at the Charing Cross Underground Station, and those who visited that exhibition must have been impressed by the poster in which it was pointed out that the Special Areas are among the principal industrial areas of England and Wales, the cradle of our national prosperity. 1053 Although only 7 per cent. of the total population of the country lives in these districts, nearly 20 per cent. of the unemployed live there. Greater London, with three times the population, has scarcely more than half as many unemployed. It is still difficult to impress the nation, and even the Members of this House, with the suffering and misery which still exist in these areas. I propose to produce plenty of evidence in support of that observation: the exhibition to which I have referred, the two reports of the Commission and also the Motion which we have under consideration to-day. I have before me a report of a speech by a lady who, as far as I have been able to ascertain, is not a member of the party to which I belong, Lady Williams of Miskin Manor, who recently addressed the Central Unemployed Club in Pontypridd. She said:The Government doctor said there was no undernourishment in the distressed areas, and the Government believed, but she and Mrs. Baldwin had experimented in the Rhondda Valley, where they started a scheme for the distribution of food to necessitous mothers, and the result was simply startling. There were 20 more women alive this year than there would have been if last year's death rate had gone on.I take it that it is unnecessary to remind hon. Members that the Mrs. Baldwin referred to is the wife of the Prime Minister, and if anyone should be in doubt as to the suffering that still exists in those areas my advice to him is to consult the wife of the Prime Minister. What is true of the Rhondda Valley is equally true of every Special Area in South Wales. There is no more reliable evidence to demonstrate conditions in those areas than the number of children who are fed in our elementary schools. According to the statistics, the number of authorities which provided meals for children attending our elementary schools in 1919–20 was 118 and in 1933–34 192, an increase of 74 in the 15 years. During the same period the total number of meals provided showed an increase of 63,000,000—from 6,000,000 to 69,000,000. The number of children fed had increased during the the same period from 75,000 to 414,000.
The annual report of the Chief Medical Officer of the Board of Education, from which those figures are taken, states that between November, 1931, and March, 1935, the number of children receiving free meals had doubled and the number 1054 receiving free milk had increased five times. With regard to the provision of meals for school children, the expenditure by local education authorities on this item, to be met by grants and rates, increased between 1932 and 1933 by over £44,736. As I have said, in my division three areas are scheduled as Special Areas. In one of them, under the super vision of the Abertillery education authority, the number of meals provided for children in elementary schools in 1927 was a little over 242,000, and last year it had increased to more than a million. With an average attendance of 5,791 in the elementary schools there had been an increase during the period mentioned of 810,789 meals over 810,789 meals.
In the adjoining village of Blaina, according to the report of the medical officer of health, there was a death-rate of 118.8 per thousand among infants under 12 months of age, which compares with an average death-rate of 59 per thousand in England and Wales of 80.8 in Durham and Tyneside and 78.3 for South Wales. The figure for Blaina, 118.8, compares with 89.1 in 1933, 85.8 in 1932 and 64.25 in 1931. The medical officer of health, who happens to be a lady doctor, points out in her report that the majority of deaths occurred in homes where the father was unemployed. It maybe, she pointed out, that the under-nourishment of the expectant mother and the harassing conditions of the home had contributed to this factor.
In order to ascertain conditions in these areas, we have had a surfeit of reports. We had the report of the Industrial Transference Board in 1928. In 1931 we had another, and we had the report of Sir Wyndham Portal in 1935. We have had two reports by the present Commissioner, one in 1935 and the other in 1936. In 1928, eight years ago, the Industrial Transference Board issued their report, in which they stated:The future of large sections of the population, if they remain in those areas, is most precarious.Quite recently, on 14th February this year, we were discussing in this House improved methods of defence. How can you expect those who live in these areas to be interested in the defence of the results of seven, eight and nine years of industrial depression? Many hon. Members would not live in those areas, but, our people have to live there on a 1055 miserable 17s. per week. They have nothing to defend but their poverty. When we ask the Government what they propose to do with the problem of the depressed areas, we are informed that we must wait until their general trade policy matures, and that they have placed a paltry £2,000,000 at the disposal of the commissioners. I wish to direct the attention of the House to an article which appeared in the "Times of 8th July last year, entitled" The Industrial Drift; a problem of our time." It is very interesting to note the observations of the writer in view of the optimistic observations which have just been made by the Lord President of the Council. They writer points out that, as a result of the trade agreements, South Wales has not only received no benefit, but has been penalised in regard to the export of coal. The writer says: "The pacts have to some extent meant robbing Peter to pay Paul on the North-East Coast." He also makes another pertinent observation in regard to the policy of the Government when he says that there are four counties, Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, which have benefited, as the result of subsidies, to the extent of £11,000,000 a year, while only a paltry £2,000,000 has been distributed among the Special Areas in the whole of England and Wales.
In the two reports of the commissioner for England and Wales, approval is given to afforestation. That is important, not that it would solve the problem of unemployment, but because it will partially restore the national beauty of those areas which have been destroyed by un restrained commercialism and unhampered industrialisation; areas in which, in the words of the commissioner,without the application of some unconventional principles,the residents will be allowed to decay and eventually die. In this connection the commissioner's efforts are restrictive, because, as he states, of difficulties anticipated in acquiring the land necessary for a programme of voluntary purchase. He proposes, according to his statement in the last report, to exercise his powers of compulsory purchase. I make no apology for saying that if I were clothed with authority, it would not be compulsory purchase but compulsory expropriation of the land.
1056 The Motion before the House directs attention to the Government's inability to produce a policy to deal with the causes responsible for the distressed or Special Areas. The Commissioner points out the chief cause of depression in those areas, namely, the decay of the basic industries, coal, iron and steel and ship building, and he says:It is open to doubt … whether such improvement as can he expected in the near future in the heavy industries and development of the lighter industries, even on the scale which has prevailed recently outside the Special Arers, can result in an adequate improvement [...]n the employment position in the Areas.Those observations of the Commissioner bear out the statements that have been made from these benches on more than one occasion that unless something be done to revive the mining industry in South Wales in some form or other, the whole of South Wales will inevitably become a Special Area. He shows that in South Wales during the period from December, 1934, to December, 1935, the number of registered unemployed was reduced from 156,748 to 142,636 or a reduction of 14,112. At that rate, it would take 19 years to solve the problem of the depressed areas in South Wales, and even that decrease was due to the transference of the unemployed in South Wales, which means, not a solution of the unemployed problem, but a distribution of the unemployed.
In his last report, the Commissioner points out what we have repeatedly declared from these benches. He said:As regards the heavy industries, a factor to be borne in mind in assessing future capacity for employment, in conjunction with the prospect of increased production, is the generally increased efficiency of operations, arising from mechanisation and improved organisation, which is likely to lead to a decrease in the number of those employed.That statement is borne out by facts that should be known to every hon. Member. The amount of coal cut by machinery in Great Britain in 1929 was only 28 per cent., but in 1934 it was no less than 47 per cent. of the coal cut by machinery in Great Britain. The increase in South Wales has gone from 9 per cent. in 1929 to 15 per cent. in 1934. The Commissioner emphasises that observation by pointing out that in December, 1935, compared with December, 1934, the out put of coal in 'South Wales had increased 1057 by 122,900 tons and was produced by 14,800 fewer men. That is true of all the industries in Great Britain.
In 1934, as compared with 1933, there was an increase of 14,000,000 tons in the coal and that increase was produced by 900 fewer men. There is nothing in the policy of the Government that indicates that they arc even prepared to deal with the effect of increased production of coal in this country. The Industrial Transference Board, to which I have already referred, pointed out:a further possibility of reducing the number of people in the depressed areas who will have to seek their livelihood in other places, lies in the creation of alternative employment in the areas.Mr. Malcolm Stewart is keenly disappointed with regard to the result of his suggestion for the establishment of new industries in the depressed areas. Reference has already been made to that matter, but there is no reason why it should not be placed on the records of the House. When a communication was sent to 5,892 manufacturers, 4,066 did not reply 1,313 submitted negative replies and 64 answered at least one question in the affirmative. That result entitles the Commissioner to make the observation that industrialists are, in the main, indifferent to the Special Areas.
We have a distinct recollection of the observation made by the Prime Minister himself in Dundee on 29th November, 1935, in which he said:If the Government makes it possible for people in industry to do far better than they could have dreamed of doing four years ago, the least those people can do is to see that when they have new works to put down, they put those new works down either in Durham, Lanark, South Wales, or in corresponding places where work of that kind would be a godsend.He also made an observation, to which none of us could take exception, when he said:From every point of view, from the point of view of our very civilisation, I regard the introduction of new industries in some of those areas as being the most important work, and the best work to which a British citizen can devote his capital and his brains for the benefit of his fellow men.But no employer in this country has shown any evidence of being influenced by that necessary suggestion of the Prime Minister. On Tuesday of last week, as a result of putting down a question, I 1058 was informed by the President of the Board of Trade that in the three years' 1932–33–34 the number of factories that had been opened in this country was 1,581, and that South Wales had had seven out of that number. The number of persons employed in those factories was 122,650, we were told, and South Wales had 645 of those people. There is no satisfaction to be found in those figures for South Wales.
I regret that in this second report emphasis is not laid upon the suggestions contained in the Commissioner's first report. He said:It is essential that all excess burdens of the Special Area should be placed on the broad shoulders of the nation.That is to be found in his first report. In his second report he suggested that there should be a reduction in the hours of work, a raising of the school-leaving age and increased pensions at 65 years, sufficiently high to make retirement possible without dependence on other sources. I have stated on many occasions that there is not much hope for South Wales until the mining industry is resuscitated in some form or another. In 1923 there was an output in South Wales of 45,000,000 tons of coal. Last year that had been reduced to 35,000,000 tons, a decrease of over 10,000,000 tons. We exported 30,000,000 tons of coal from South Wales in 1923. Last year only half of that amount was exported, namely, 15,000,000 tons. Until, however, something is done by this Government, I claim that our people in the meantime are entitled to much better benefit than they have been receiving during the last three or four years. The Lord President of the Council, on 10th February, made a speech in which this statement is to be found:He had one or two little cards up his own sleeve.I am more interested in trying to find out what is in the head of the present Prime Minister than in finding out what is up the sleeve of a man who, we are pleased to know, is no longer Prime Minister of this country. We are always talking in this House about the transference of labour, which in my opinion is simply another name for the distribution of the unemployed. It is not a solution of the problem. The Commissioner in his first Report showed that between 1921 and 1931 there had been a decrease of 75,587 1059 in the population of the Special Areas, and in the middle of 1935 he stated that there had been a further estimated de crease of 23,309. A total of 98,896 persons left the depressed areas. The decrease is worst in the depressed areas of South Wales. I live in a part of Monmouthshire where there are occasional conferences of representatives of only seven distressed areas, and I find that, since 1921, there has been a decrease of 20,145 in the population of those seven areas, while in three of them in my own division there has been a decrease of 11,256. Last Thursday the Minister of Labour, in reply to a question I put to him, stated that 8,407 men, women, boys and girls were transferred by the exchanges from South Wales. He also stated that the number of persons who transferred on their own account is not known, but is believed to be considerable. We are justified in assuming, from the number which can be ascertained of those transferred through the exchanges, that something like 12,000 per sons have left the Special Areas in South Wales. At this rate the problem will be settled either by migration or by death.
§ 6.4 p.m.
The hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar) made a moving and eloquent speech, but it seems to me that the Debate so far has shown a great absence of any constructive policy from the Opposition. Chiefly they have asked for help from the Government, and they ought to be very thankful that we have a Government that is able to help, instead of one that cannot do anything for them at all. The hon. Member mentioned certain devices for the spread of employment that were suggested in the 1935 Report of the Commissioner, and I feel that the present Minister of Labour must seriously consider those devices. Probably he is already in conference with employers and representatives of labour to see whether hours can be shortened and employment given to more people, but I should welcome some word from him to-day or to-morrow, because I should like to see such devices applied in a manner which will not upset the equilibrium of industry.
In this matter of the Special Areas there seem to me to be two methods of approach. In the first place, there is the transference method, and, secondly, there is the moving of industry into those 1060 areas. So far, the transference method has been really the only cure for unemployment in those areas; 26,000 persons have found employment, and of these 22,000 were transferred. I hope that the Government will shortly be turning their attention to the setting up of new industries in those areas, because I feel that the Government are to a certain extent responsible for the location of industry. In the days of Free Trade the heavy industries came to South Wales because of the facilities for the import of ore from abroad, but tariffs made it possible for them to move elsewhere and use British ores. In pages 15 and 16 of the 1935 Report of the Commissioner some possible reasons are stated which might prevent the establishment of new factories in Special Areas, and those reasons must be faced.
Coming from South Wales, I do not apologise for speaking for South Wales, because I feel that the time will shortly come when the Special Areas will have to compete one against another for the entry of trade and industry into those areas. South Wales has an energetic development council, but I should welcome the presence of more employers on that council. At the same time I feel that industrialists would like an assurance from the representatives of labour in South Wales that they were willing to co-operate with them for their own good and for the good of Wales. After all, industrialists corning to a Special Area must consider the conditions there. They must be assured, first of all, that other industrialists will welcome them; secondly, that sites and amenities are available; thirdly, that by coming to South Wales they will not risk having to pay higher wages when they are starting a new industry; and, lastly, and most important, they must be assured of that co-operation on all sides which is essential to the starting of new industries. It would be a sad event if Wales could not say to the industrialists of the rest of Great Britain that it was able to cater for new industries coning into its areas.
Industrialists coming to an area wish for some confidence about the future. It is suggested in the report that the Government might help in some way by guaranteeing the security of investments in those areas. Tie trading estates which are about to be set up will, I think, attract new industries and will attract 1061 industrialists, but they must have some knowledge of the Government's long-term policy. In 1934 the commissioners were sent out to examine this problem, and they located these Special Areas irrespective of any local authorities' boundaries; and it seems to me that the great trouble in the future will be the co-ordination of the money paid to the local authorities in the Special Areas. The Commissioner appointed in 1935, Mr. Malcolm Stewart, is limited as regards the application of his finances; he can only apply the money to Special Areas. His term of office also is limited.
I think it should be said from this side of the House, in view of the fact that the county councils of South Wales represent the policy of the Opposition, how very difficult the position of those councils is. They try to help to relieve the poverty which is overwhelming the whole area; they try to bring help and relief to the people in their districts, to give them some hope, and to mitigate the feeling of despondency and despair which we know exists in the special areas. They have tried to help the unemployed, and have tried to create educational facilities in those areas, so that the younger generation will not suffer through having been born in these special areas. In spite of that, they have been accused of extravagance, and it has been said against them that they have not balanced their budgets; but I maintain that the position of these councils is such that it is perfectly impossible for them to balance their budgets. Their rates have gone up to an extent which is causing the special areas to spread through the administrative counties, so that, instead of their being a small sore, the whole body is becoming diseased. This is negativing any good that the Commissioner may do in finding employment in the special areas, because more and more people are becoming unemployed in the immediate vicinity. It seems to me that this is a question which must be faced.
As was mentioned by the hon. Member for Abertillery, the Commissioner in his 1935 Report said that the excessive burdens of the special areas should be placed on the broad shoulders of the nation, and the hon. Member for Abertillery should be thankful that the shoulders of the nation are sufficiently broad under the present Government to bear some of these responsibilities. At 1062 the same time, the Commissioner, on page 101 of his 1936 Report, mentions certain expenditure by the Commissioners on industry, on health, on housing, on agriculture, and on voluntary local administration schemes. These various objectives could be carried out by the local authorities themselves if they were able to do so. But what worries me, and, I think, must be worrying other Members of the House, is the question where all this is leading. If a hospital is built, if a road is improved, if a sewage scheme is put in, where is the money to come from to pay for them in the future? Are we not adding to the rates by these very activities for which now we are paying? In Appendix IV of the 1936 Report there is a reference to works of public utility undertaken by local authorities in special areas, towards the cost of which grants have been approved. I welcome this, but I wonder whether in some cases local authorities will not be led into these commitments because of the grants that have been promised, and whether the result will not be to add to the rates when the Commissioner ceases to operate. The important question is, who will keep up these undertakings in the future; are they to be an extra expense and what is going to happen in those areas? I would remind the House that, in the Debate on the 23rd July last year, the Minister with out Portfolio said:The local authorities in these areas who are not able, by reason of their financial position, to bear their ordinary share of that expenditure.He went on to say:Are you going to take over those functions from the local authority and finance them wholly by central authorities or are you going to pay to the local authorities a much higher rate of grant in the Special Areas than you would pay in an area which was not a Special Area but which was in a financially unfortunate position? Is this House prepared to discriminate to that degree?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd July, 1935; col. 1788, Vol. 304.]The question has never been answered, and I hope we shall have an answer in the near future if not to-night, as to how far the Government are prepared to discriminate. It is a very great question. You will have administrative areas within which are Special Areas. The Commissioner can only apply the finances to these Special Areas. Who will keep up the work that he has initiated in the years to come? We hear the rather 1063 modern phrase "long-term policy." In my short experience of the House the short-term policy of various Departments is far too apt to be a policy of subsidy rather than of initiating something to work into a bigger policy which is a long term policy. I hope the Government will seriously consider this great decision put to the House by the Minister without Portfolio in 1935. Those councils are now in the position that they cannot balance their budgets, and they are trying to do certain services. Their income is non existent. They are in the same position as hospitals appealing for funds: the more they are in debt the more they appeal to the National Government for help. That is a very dangerous position, because it means that there may be great trouble, and perhaps disaster, in time to come. I hope that this money will be spent constructively as part of a long term policy and not only in areas which cannot accommodate industries and which may close down altogether. We are now perhaps, making a sewage scheme in some locality which in years to come will not be used. It would be far better not to carry out the scheme but to help a new industry in some other place where it can he of use to the community as a whole. This is a vote of confidence in the Government and I have confidence that the Government will carry out and continue the policy that they have already initiated. It has helped industry in other parts of the country and I hope that in this Special Areas problem it will face these very serious facts. Schemes of afforestation and land settlement are a help, but none of these things can be dealt with until the administrative areas of the Special Areas are financially sound. I therefore ask the Minister seriously to consider my plea, because I feel certain that the Government can do it.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. WHITELEY
I listened with great attention to the speech of the Lord President of the Council, expecting that at last there was going to be some declaration of Government policy, but at the end of his speech I think every one felt that we were pretty much left in the same situation as we have been in during all these years, and that there is likely to be nothing effectively done, except that we may hope that before the end of the Debate the Minister of Labour may give 1064 us a little more hope. The report of the Commissioner, while being an excellent portrayal of the situation, shows that he is left without the essential power to become what it was intended that he should become when he was appointed, a Minister for the purpose of endeavouring to create employment for the unemployed in the Special Areas. When you examine the report you find that 90 per cent. of it is in connection with matters which the local authorities could have done just as effectively in co-operation with the various Departments of State, and, when you realise that, it is just as well to keep in mind that the Government, if they are going to do anything for the Special Areas ought to give the Commissioner very much more freedom than he possesses at present to enable him to concentrate on planning organisation so as to find real avenues of ser vice for those who arc unemployed. I should like to see him regarded as a Commissioner for employment rather than, as is indicated in the report, a welfare officer or a Charity Commissioner. He is entitled to more recognition than he has apparently had. There has been mood deal of concentration on the training of the unemployed, but we are apparently training them before we take the first essential step, which is to find creative work for them when they have been trained. What on earth is the use of spending money on training people if you are not also laying your plans for finding that service when they are ready to engage in it?
There has also been reference made to transference. The Commissioner is very candid. He tells us that, from the point of view of showing a definite reduction in the unemployment figures, his work appears to be a failure. He says that all that has been done is to transfer groups of families from Special Areas or distressed areas to other areas. The effect of that is that you are taking the best families from the Special Areas and transferring them to others and leaving the Special Areas more derelict in con sequence of the transfer. I want the Minister to look at it from this point of view. Take the North Coast, Scot land, Wales or Cumberland. If you have any people that you desire to make use of in those areas, you can make use of them in those areas doing the same kind of work as you are doing in other parts 1065 of the country to which you are transferring people. There is land and I am confident that there are opportunities for poultry breeding, egg producing, pig producing and so on in the Special Areas, just as good as you will find in other parts of the country. We want the Minister to concentrate on that and not leave the Special Areas with the old and infirm, becoming derelict areas which will probably be unable to revive if this is allowed to go on much longer.
I want to draw attention to the establishment, of a housing association in the North-East under the Commissioner, which of course follows on the 1935 Act. It is having rather a bad effect in this sense, that many of our local authorities, which have done such excel lent work in the past, are feeling that their control is being taken away from them altogether. I want the Minister of Health to keep in mind that the elected representatives in these areas ought to be allowed to retain control of the schemes that they have brought and will bring into operation in the future. Then there is the question of the disappearance of the works departments which have been set up under many of our local authorities, some of them very excellent and successful. The local authorities feel that, if these housing associations are to be established, and to be made successful, it will be a very good thing if the Minister will take into consideration the use of existing organisations, comprising works departments, in carrying out the programmes that they have already formulated.
Another important matter is in connection with the dissolution of these housing associations. If anything goes wrong and an association has to be dissolved, there is in the memorandum of association a Clause which states that the property may be transferred to the Council or any other organisation having similar objects to the housing association. I feel, as many local authorities do, that that should read that the property shall be transferred to the Council. The houses are in the areas of the local authorities and we feel that they ought to be transferred to the local authority and not to some kindred organisation which also may get into difficulties and create further trouble in the future. Another important matter is whether it 1066 is essential that there should be a linking up with the housing associations by the local authorities before they can become entitled to rate relief through the Commissioners. Many local authorities do not like the idea of losing their control. A further important point is whether they are going to lose this rate relief.
Finally, I want to draw the attention of the Minister of Labour to what I consider to be the basic thing in this report. Mr. Malcolm Stewart has been quite frank. He says he finds that it is extraordinarily difficult to attract industry into these Special Areas, and he gives the causes. One of them is the fear of labour troubles. The question of rates has been dealt with by earlier speakers. Mr. Malcolm Stewart, in order to overcome what he believes to be a difficulty, is introducing what is termed "a trading estate," but this is not sufficient to alter the existing situation in the Special Areas. As to labour troubles, I would ask whether there are more labour troubles in the Special Areas than in any other part of the country? The time has come when there should be a definite declaration that there is no more likelihood of labour troubles in the Special Areas than in any other parts of the country, if industrialists will deal with their workers in the way they ought to deal with them.
The question of high rates cannot be overcome by the Commissioner, and the Government should face that fact. It is a national problem. The Government have gone so far in dealing with the matter under Part II of the Unemployment Act. They have established Com missioners to deal with the question of public assistance. It is, apparently, the idea of the Government that public assistance ought to be equalised through out the country. If that is their idea, then frankly, if the citizens in the Special Areas are to be treated the same as the citizens in the other parts of the country, the time has come when the Government should definitely face the matter and bring about an equalisation of the rating system of the country. That may be a big step to take, but I will suggest a step a little short of that, one which is the natural thing to do because of the work which they have already done. The Special Areas are not responsible for 1067 unemployment. They did not create unemployment. The people there are just as much citizens as the people in other parts of the country. It is a national problem, and there ought to be an equalisation of the public assistance rate throughout the country, in order to re move the present obstacle out of the way of the Commissioner, because he cannot help industry unless it is removed. The Special Areas will be able to stand on their own footing and overcome many of their difficulties, if that problem is dealt with as early as possible.
If there is a definite desire to plan and organise industry in the Special Areas, the commissioner will be enabled to have a good deal more freedom and to concentrate upon the real purpose of finding creative work in co-operation with any organisation that may be set up by the Government for the purpose of planning and organisation. I say frankly to the Government that, if they will use their power to give a lead in that direction, the Special Areas themselves will respond in full measure.
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Sir Kingsley Wood)
I want to intervene in the Debate only for a few minutes in order to deal with the question put to me by the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. Whiteley) concerning the problem of housing in these areas. I can assure him that, like all my predecessors and the whole House, I am mindful of the considerable overcrowding problem in the Special Areas, and of the real need there is for houses at low rents. I also appreciate the difficulties of the local authorities in relation to the financial aspect, and particularly their special difficulty in making the necessary financial contributions to enable this work to be done. The local authorities have experienced great difficulties in connection with housing in these areas. I want the authorities concerned to know that I appreciate their difficulties, and that, in the proposals which the commissioner and I have made, there is no possible reflection at all upon their endeavours or upon the work upon which they have already been engaged. It is because of these difficulties, and especially those of a financial character, which have been experienced by the local authorities in these Special Areas, that 1068 an association has been set up by the commissioner to enable houses to be pro vided to meet the needs of the areas for the abatement of slums and overcrowding without involving the local authorities in any further expenditure out of the rates.
I would remind the hon. Member for Blaydon and the House that, where a local authority carries, out its statutory obligation in these matters, it is called upon, as a condition of receiving the Exchequer subsidy, to make a contribution from the rates. Contributions are, in the first place, £3 15s. a year for 40 years for each house built, and, in the second place, a sum varying up to a maximum of £2 10s. a year for 20 years for each house built. Where a local authority enters into an agreement with the housing association, the ordinary Exchequer contribution will be payable to the association from the local authority, and the Commissioner has the power—and he has already expressed his intention of doing it—to make grants not exceeding the amount, of the statutory rating contribution. That will enable houses to be built at suitable rents, which will be approved by the local authorities and by myself. In other words—and I commend this to the hon. Gentleman and to all those who are concerned with housing work in the Special Areas—the association will help to secure the provision of much needed houses, and thus, I hope, bring about a marked improvement in the condition of the areas. It will not only bring about an addition to the number of houses in an area, but, what is equally important to the local authorities, it will enable this to be done without imposing a charge upon the rates of the district. If I were asked to put it shortly in terms of pounds, shillings and pence—and I want the authorities in the district to appreciate this point—the effect of the work of the association will save each local authority concerned from the obligation of providing an annual sum, the capital value of which is about £80 for each house built under the Act of 1930, and about £35 for each house built under the Act of 1935. That is a very considerable contribution.
I agree with the hon. Member for Blaydon, who spoke in perfectly proper terms about the matter, that the success of the scheme will largely depend upon co-operation between the local authorities and the association. I am very anxious, 1069 as I believe is the Commissioner and all concerned, that the co-operation between the local authorities and the association shall certainly be close and harmonious. I am very glad indeed to be able to tell the hon. Gentleman, because I know that he is anxious to see better housing conditions in these areas and that he appreciates the difficulties as far as finance is concerned, that the association intends to make arrangements with each local authority with which they deal for the management of the houses that are built. This, I think, is a very considerable step in the direction desired by the hon. Gentleman.
§ Sir K. WOOD
There will be a joint committee of management for the houses built. I appreciate the natural feelings of the local authorities in this matter, and I believe that that will go a considerable way towards helping them. There will, no doubt, be some adjustment required in the arrangements under which houses are built in the district as far as the public works departments of the local authorities are concerned, but I do not think there will be much difficulty with regard to the workmen associated with the works departments of those authorities. This proposal, if the work of the association is carried out as we all desire it to be, will probably mean more employment in the building industry in the area. It is certainly desirable, as I am sure the Commissioner and the association will agree, that any such adjustment that may be necessary should be carried out with the minimum of disturbance of those engaged in the work. I promise the hon. Gentleman that I will bring this particular matter to the notice of the Commissioner in order that it may be discussed between the association and individual local authorities. He will agree, I think, that it is a problem which can best be tackled in each individual case.
The hon. Gentleman also asked about the dissolution of these associations. I hope that the dissolution of this particular association and of the association with which the hon. Gentleman is connected in the mining industry will be a long way off. I realise that he wants these associations to be in proper form 1070 and properly organised, and I hope that we need not anticipate any question of dissolution for some considerable time to come. From the point of view of the Ministry of Health, I want this association to do good work in connection with local authorities and to put up more houses in those areas. I want to see the greatest possible co-operation between the local authorities and the housing association in this area. Everybody desires to see better houses in this very difficult part of the country, and I hope that the operation of the association will meet with considerable success. It offers real opportunity for housing improvement in that area, and certainly it will be a very great relief from the point of view of the local authorities.
We have in the north-eastern area a combination of districts with very serious housing problems, and the financial position of the local authorities there renders it difficult to meet the need without imposing a serious further burden on the ratepayers. But I am glad to think that an arrangement has now been made which will enable those difficulties to be successfully overcome without im posing any further burden on the rates. I hope that in a comparatively short time we shall not only see the number of houses built considerably increased in those areas, but, what is equally important, that we shall find an increased amount of employment provided for persons engaged in the building of houses.
I have dealt I think with the points raised by the hon. Member. He put his question with a view to getting these matters cleared up, and in order to in form the local authorities. I know that I can rely upon him and other hon. Members concerned in this matter to make what, I think, is a promising experiment successful, seeing that it is one which gives every prospect of bringing further housing assistance to the area, and further employment in the building trade.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Sir ARNOLD GRIDLEY
In rising to address the House for the first time, I am reminded of a saying upon which I have been brought up:Here is a place where many talk but few listen.I shall note whether that observation of a cynic is true or not, but this I do know, and I am encouraged by it, that 1071 when a new Member rises to make his maiden speech, he is treated with fine courtesy and patience from every quarter of the House. We are debating a problem which is baffling, and of those who, like myself, have some intimate knowledge, through having lived in some of the depressed areas, there can be none who is not desperately anxious to find a solution for the heart-breaking problems of these areas. I would ask hon. and right hon. Members opposite to believe that we on this side have this matter every bit as much at heart as they have.. When I hear inside, but more often outside the House, extravagant statements, vehemently made, I wonder whether those who exaggerate have really feelings as sound and as deep as those who express their views more moderately. Exaggeration of a good cause never yet improved it. Here, we have hard facts to deal with that are much more impressive than merely sob-stuff. We have hard facts enough and we know, or we ought to know, the primary causes for the difficulties of the depressed areas.
There are three primary causes. First, emigration. It is not too extravagant a claim to say that if emigration from this country had proceeded in the post-War years at the same rate as it did in pre-War years, we should not have half the problem with which to deal that we have in our depressed areas to-clay. Therefore, it is a good thing that quite recently a committee has been set up to examine afresh the possibility of resumed emigration. Although our Dominions, Colonies and Dependencies have every right to shape their own policy, it may not be amiss to remind them that unless they help us by absorbing some of our people and employing them out there, we may be compelled to put more and more of our people on the land, and thereby diminish the quantity of the primary pro ducts of life which we can take from our Dominions overseas. The second difficulty has been the chaotic condition of the exchanges. There can be no possibility of world international trade revolving again until the great industrial nations have met and brought about, in whole or in part, some method of stabilising the exchanges. The third difficulty has been that during the War other countries were forced to enter upon the 1072 manufacture of goods which we formerly exported to those countries in large quantities. They have continued so to manufacture, and I fear that it is too much to hope that we shall ever regain the whole volume of the business which we lost during the War.
These three difficulties are causes which were beyond the control of the Government of the country or any other. Some of the remedies are also outside the control of any Government, though some of them are inside. We are entitled to ask the Opposition what alternative plans they have. So far in the Debate I have heard but two, one which deals with the equalisation of rating and the other the control of the location of new industries. It is most significant that both those suggestions have been borrowed from this side of the House. If there is no better plan to come from our hon. Friends opposite, I think this Vote of Censure is one which they are not entitled to put on the Order Paper. It is no use coming forward with the old plans which have been twice rejected, namely, nationalisation of production, distribution and exchange, and it is no use making the same reply as was once made, not many years ago, by the Minister of Labour, Mr. Shaw, who, on being criticised be cause he had produced no scheme to benefit the unemployed, retorted: "How do you expect me to produce schemes like rabbits out of a hat?" I suggest that the hat is as empty to-day as it was then. If I may respectfully make a suggestion to hon. Members opposite, it would be to remind them that it is only the foolish and the dead who never change their opinions. Instead of looking for a new heaven and a new earth, it is better to try to make the best of and to improve those we already have.
The remedies suggested in the past by the other parties have been rejected because they have been impracticable, or merely patchwork, or temporary, and did not seek to find permanent remedies for lengthy troubles. In my view the surest solution that we can find for the problems of the Special Areas to get our existing industries as fully accupied as we possibly can and to establish new industries there. I would here refer to a suggestion made by the Mover of the Vote of Censure as to some method of control in the location of the new industries. I go far with him in the views lie expressed, 1073 but there is a great danger that if we attempt to dictate to those who contemplate new industries where they shall go, we may repel instead of attract. There fore, if anything can be done—and I think it can be done—in the way suggested, it should be by guidance rather than by restriction. By guidance I feel sure that a great and beneficial result is probable.
May I illustrate the importance of that point by telling the House a story, the interest of which I hope will enable hon. Members to say that the telling has been justified? I would ask the House to dismiss as merely incidental the fact that I happened to have been concerned in it. Towards the latter part of the Great War we were running short in this country of an essential material for the manufacture of explosives. The Government had decided to put down a national factory for its production. It had to be produced from the air by electricity, and the explosives department had prepared a plan for putting down a large works in the part of the country to which, perhaps, I had better not refer more particularly. When the scheme was ready it had to be remitted to me because I was then concerned with advising the Government Departments on questions which involved the use of electricity for power purposes. In this case something like 20,000 horse power of electricity was required. I saw when the papers were forwarded by the Explosives Department that the location they intended had several objections to it. I had to turn down that scheme and say that the works must be placed else where. They were naturally extremely annoyed and gave me one week in which to find, if I could, a better site. By the use of lengthy telegrams my Department were furnished with several alternative sites within 48 hours, and the following day it was possible to take the officers of the Explosives Department to a new site which, when they examined it, they admitted was such as could not have been bettered had they searched the whole of this country. The works were, therefore, established on the alternative site, and after the War they became part of the Imperial Chemical Industries group.
The place to which I refer is Billing-ham, and to-day it is astonishing that out of the planting of that small acorn such an enormous tree has grown, for these works cover a larger area than the whole of Middlesbrough, and employ 1074 between 10,000 and 15,000 people, many of whom—and this is the point—are drawn from the adjacent distressed towns, Thornaby, Stockton, and Middlesbrough, and would not otherwise have found employment. There is an example of guidance of a proposed new industry, and I feel certain that if the Government will only set up some form of tribunal through whom should filter all proposals for the establishment of new industries they may be guided to the parts of the country where we desire to find work and employment; whereas if industry is allowed to please itself, they may find that although another 500 industries establish them selves in other parts, only 11 per cent. of them are located in the distressed areas. I therefore agree wholeheartedly with the Mover of the Motion that much can be done if the proposed new industries of the future can be wisely guided.
Before I conclude, may I pay a tribute to the Minister of Labour for the way in which he and his Department carry out the duties of what I consider to be the most harassing ministerial post that any Minister can possibly occupy? There was a time when the right hon. Gentle man and I did not see eye to eye with one another when he was seeking, years ago, the suffrages of the electors in the Rugby division of Warwickshire, and I happened to turn up a few days ago an extract from a newspaper which had these headings:Attack on Sir Arnold Gridley.Mr. E. Brawn Tilts at Scarborough Speech.Die-hard Hounds and the Red Fox.The die-hard hounds had long been seeking the trade union fox, and at last had found a huntsman in Sir Arnold Gridley, who was willing to put on the red jacket and sound the 'view-hallo' after the red fox—[Loud laughter]. He wondered whether the Tory M.F.H., Mr. Baldwin, was quite so ready to follow the Scarborough 'View-hallo' and the call of the bugle when he heard Sir Arnold Gridley's speech.I was not a die-hard in those days and I am not now, but we find ourselves much closer together than we were then. We have grown older and, if not wiser, we have grown mellower. I have been impressed as I have watched with the critical eye of a new Member how the Minister of Labour and other Ministers show a grasp of detail and a readiness in reply to questions and in debate which give an indication of the intense work 1075 and devotion which they give to the duties of a thankless office; and I would like to pay this simple and sincere tribute to the work that has been done in the Department of the Minister of Labour and leave the Minister to reply, as he will later on, to the attacks which may yet have to come.
May I now thank the House for the patience and courtesy with which hon. Members have listened to me and conclude with this? Can we not, in seeking to find a solution for our distressed areas, for the country, for the Empire of which we are a part, and indeed for the whole world, base our work upon that great Commandment which was given to mankind some 2,000 years ago, and to which, if we will, we can give a great impetus in the years ahead, namely, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."? To do that in a practical way is, as I conceive it, the opportunity and the duty of this House, and of every Member of this most democratic governing assembly of any country in the world.
§ 7.9 p.m.
§ Mr. F. ANDERSON
It falls to my lot to extend the usual courtesy of this House to the hon. Member who has just sat down. I noticed that he brought in hats. I think that that is very appropriate, for I understand that he represents a constituency which makes hats. He spoke also of electricity. I hope that he will put some electric shocks behind the Government, so that they will get something done for the distressed areas. I represent one of the distressed areas, the West Cumberland district. I listened very carefully to the speech which was made by the Lord President of the Council, and I summed it up this way: It was all a case that these matters are having serious and careful consideration. I think that we are entitled to ask, after the length of time since the Commissioner was appointed, how far are the Government prepared to take actual action on this serious question? We have heard that they are planning certain things. I want to suggest, with all respect, that until the Government take control of the development of new industries it is impossible for them to plan in any shape or form. They are not masters in their own house, because while good ambulance work is being 1076 done by the Commissioner at the present time, you have works which are closing down and industries which are increasing their production with less labour, and therefore how can you deal with that situation as long as you do not control it from the beginning?
We are entitled to know from the Government how they intend to tackle this problem in a serious way. In the district of West Cumberland, out of a total of 35,400 insured persons, there were on 16th December, 1935, 14,400 who were unemployed, approximately 40 per cent. Ambulance work will not make any serious inroads into the solving of the difficulties which these 14,000 people are having at the present time. Some of these men have been unemployed for a goodly number of years. In addition, there are some of our children who have left school and have never done a day's work. This problem is a human problem, in addition to being an economic one. We find that with all the consideration, all the influence that has been used by the Commissioner, and all the efforts that have been put forward by the Government, only seven new factories have been opened in the distressed areas out of 478 new factories which have been opened outside. The Government should face up to this question squarely. They should ask themselves whether they are getting a real return for the work they are doing. There is no alternative way but for the Government to take some step in the form of licensing new industries to make them go into the distressed areas.
My hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar) spoke of what had been done in his own district. I think that it shows that the constructive proposal which was put forward by the spokesman on this side has not yet been replied to by the Government as to why it cannot be done. The Government have tried persuasion, and it has failed absolutely. Therefore other steps should be taken. What injustice can there be in saying to those people who desire to set up new industries and to develop their capital resources, that the distressed areas of this country have a call upon them? It is only by Government effort that the work can successfully carried through. The steps which the Commissioner has taken so far in his limited 1077 sphere have failed to secure what the Government thought they would secure when they set up these Commissioners in the various areas.
I have said that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite can be summed up in this way, that all matters were having serious consideration. I come now to a question which is near and dear to the hearts of West Cumberland men, the iron ore industry, which has been under consideration more or less by the Government for five or six years, and I under stand is still under their consideration. I want to know why it is not possible for more English ore to be produced. Why should the imports of Spanish ore considerably increase while we have thousands of our iron ore miners walking the streets, and have been doing so for a considerable time. Some of my constituents ask me various questions, and I propose to put them to the Government with the hope of eliciting some kind of reply. They want to know how far the particular interests responsible for the use of foreign ore are influenced by ownership or partial interest in foreign ore mines. That is a logical question. When they can see millions of tons of foreign ore coming into the ports and towns of West Cumberland, and they themselves walking the streets, they naturally ask why this should occur, especially when it has been under the consideration of the Government for some time. They also ask the difference in the cost of production of iron ore in Spain, including rail and sea freight charges, as against the all-in-cost in this country. They want to know whether it is the price which stands in the way of the use of more English ore. These are some of the questions which my constituents put to me.
Let me put this direct question to the Government. Has the question of iron ore production in this country been examined by an expert body? By that I mean a body free from all particular interests in any shape or form. If that has not been done, I think a useful purpose would be served if this matter were considered by experts solely and absolutely upon its merits. There are research bodies for iron and steel and other commodities. Why cannot you have a re search body to deal with iron ore? The people in West Cumberland think that 1078 there is something behind the use of this foreign iron ore, that there is something more than meets the eye, and they believe that if an examination were made on expert lines there is a possibility that the furnaces which can be developed to meet the needs of foreign ores might equally be developed to meet the needs of English iron ore. Some time ago a deputation was received by the Secretary for Mines but up to now, so far as I am aware, no definite reply has been received. There is another problem which has been engaging the minds of the people in the West Cumberland district of late. From figures which have been supplied by the Secretary for Mines they find that from 1920 to the end of 1934 nearly £1,000,000 has been taken in royalties from the iron ore mines of Cumberland.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
It does not work out at that, it works out at 13.49 pence per ton. They are asking whether these royalties have any effect on the iron ore coming from Spain; whether the royal ties are a deterrent on more English ore being used, and whether they have caused the iron and steel people to go more in the direction of developing their furnaces to meet the needs of imported ore. If this £1,000,000 had been spent for the starting of new industries and reviving old ones West Cumberland would not be in the situation it is to-day. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury told us the other night that a clearing house is being set up to deal with payments between Spain and this country. If a clearing house can be set up to deal with a matter of this kind then, surely, a system can be evolved whereby a clearing house might deal with the ore produced in the West Cumberland area. This is a human as well as an economic problem. In his report the Commissioner says:In the meantime it is imperative, in the interests of those living in the areas, to develop the policy of industrial transference as far as possible.How is it possible to tackle the question of transference when you have over 14,000 people in West Cumberland out of work? It is a stupendous problem which should be tackled in some other way. In regard to transference the Commissioner also says: 1079I regard it as one of the essential measures for dealing with the problem of unemployment in the areas.How it can be one of the essential things I do not know. The better way would be to establish new industries in these areas. It is all very well for people to talk about men being transferred from their homes, but what about the parents who are ordinary wage-earners? What is their position when their son or daughter has to leave home and they are deprived of the small earnings upon which they have to depend to some extent? That is the human problem, and it applies to the poverty-stricken person as well as to the better-to-do. But, apparently, that side of the question has not been thought about; it is not referred to in the Report. From that standpoint we should not seek to develop the transference proposal so as to make human labour meet the needs of capital, but to make capital meet the needs of human labour. There are special human issues in these areas which are very acute for the people who live in them, and especially for the growing children. It is possible to put off the building of factories and the starting of new works by an unwilling administration and leave an energetic successor to pull up the loss of time, but growing children will not stand still, and no promise of future prosperity, even if realised, can ever restore to the children of to-day the strength which they ought to be developing now. It takes 20 years for a child to grow into a man or woman and, there fore, time is a very pressing factor. For schemes to benefit the Special Areas "this year, next year, some time, never," will not do. I ask the Government to take strong action and do something more and greater than they have done so far, especially for the area of West Cumberland.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ Colonel Sir GEORGE COURTHOPE
My only object in rising is to refer to the part which forestry may play in the problems of the Special Areas. The Lord President of the Council in his speech mentioned that the programme of afforestation consisted of 200,000 acres and the establishment of 1,000 forest workers' holdings in 10 years. This will give a direct increase of employment on an average to 2,200 men and will cost in 1080 the first year £200,000, and in subsequent years £350,000, in addition to the forestry grants which are made at present. It may be said that this is a small contribution for forestry to make. Let me assure hon. Members that if the Forestry Commission were given a completely free hand and a blank cheque it would be four years before they could make any addition to the programme which has already been drawn up and received Treasury approval. The reason is that however keen you may be to plant on the maxi mum scale you must start by organising the collection of seeds and see that your nurseries are ready for the raising of young plants, and it is about four years from the time you: tart before you can plant a young tree:n a plantation. We have, however, been able to make some sort of start straight away with surplus plants in existing nurseries. There is a small surplus of plants lined out which will be available in the coming year and there is in the seed beds a larger surplus of seedlings which will be available in the following years. Some months ago we made arrangements for the collection of the necessary seed, which will come from the woods in British Columbia and other parts of the world. As hon. Members know, it is not possible to collect cwts. of good seed without good organisation.
§ Earl WINTERTON
Does what the hon. and gallant Gentleman say also apply to clearances? Is he aware that in a part of the country which I know well, the Forestry Commission has been in possession of land for 12 years and has not cleared it yet?
§ Sir G. COURTHOPE
My Noble Friend may be right, and I do not know the particular case to which he refers. But a start is being made with the clearing of ground which will be planted as soon as the seeds and plants are ready, and a start has been made with nurseries in connection with the Special Areas. Although one would like a good deal more to be done, it must be recognised that there are limitations because of the time it takes for a plant to grow. There has been a great deal of wild talk—not I think in this House, but elsewhere—about the millions of acres of bare land and the millions of unemployed, and it has been asked why these men should not be put on the land to grow trees. It would take four years to bring this about. [An 1081 HON. MEMBER: "You have just finished four years."] No. The Forestry Com mission started, in the first place, by making a survey of the Special Areas, and it was found that we can reasonably hope in the course of 10 years to add, in or close to the Special Areas, 200,000 acres over and above our normal forestry lands, part of which are already in the Special Areas.
§ Sir G. COURTHOPE
These 200,000 acres are all within the three Special Areas of South Wales, West Cumber land, Tyneside and Durham, or within 15 miles of them.
§ Sir G. COURTHOPE
The figures I am giving refer to England and Wales. In Scotland the position is a special one, because the land within a reasonable distance of the Special Area in Lanarkshire does not contain more than a very small portion which will grow trees. There is a great area under afforestation in the more distant parts of Scotland, but nowhere could we find land specially adapted for the growing of trees in or close to the Special Area.
§ Mr. W. ROBERTS
How much of the land to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman referred is within the Cum brian Special Area?
§ Sir G. COURTHOPE
I cannot reply to that question. I shall have a word or two to say about that area in a, moment, because there are special considerations in connection with it. The point I want to make is that there is a natural limitation to that which we can do, but once a plantation has been started in a place where trees will reasonably grow it is a permanent contribution to employment in the depressed area, because as woodlands approach maturity so do they give year by year an increasing volume of employment. I will illustrate that by informing the House of our actual experiences as Forestry Commissioners. Some years ago we took over from the Commissioners of Crown Lands various woodlands, including the Forest of Dean, which is now a 1082 fully organised, mature forest, part of which comes in for felling every year, part of which is replanted, and so on. Every thousand acres of that whole area gives employment to 39 whole-time workers. That is the maximum. If the same criterion is applied to a property which we have already in Northumberland it will be found that by the time it is planted up there will be over 2,000 whole-time men working in the forest, quite apart from everyone else who will be indirectly employed in the villages which will spring up in the neighbourhood.
Before leaving the question of the natural limitations, there is one other remark I wish to make. We would have liked to have put our plantations as near as possible to the centres of the Special Areas where the larger number of people have to work, but it will be agreed on all sides that our woodlands must be placed where they will have a reasonable chance of successful growth, and it is useless to attempt to start plantations in a bad, smoky atmosphere. It is equally difficult, if not useless, to start them in areas where a considerable mining subsidence has interfered with the natural drainage of the land. While considering those limitations, we will put the plantations as near as possible to the centres to which we are trying to bring some opportunities of employment.
I would like now to say a few words concerning the forest workers' holdings. The essential features of these holdings are that we guarantee to every holder a minimum of 150 days of paid work in the forests. We provide them with holdings as cheaply as we can, and they work on these holdings in their spare time, which is mostly in the summer. The great majority of the men on the holdings, of which there are already over 1,250, are actually employed full time or very nearly full time, but the guarantee is for a minimum of 150 days.
§ Sir G. COURTHOPE
The minimum wage is 35s. a week, and wherever possible we institute a piece rate which will give them at least 25 per cent. above that amount. There is on these 1,250 holdings a population of just over 5,000. One point which indicates that the forestry workers' holdings are a success is the 1083 following: All of them have been set up in recent years—the Forestry Commission only obtained authority to start such holdings about 12 years ago—and every one who came into the holdings was entirely without capital. There may have been a few exceptions, but I do not know of them. At the present time the holdings have nearly £50,000 worth of livestock among them. That indicates a sound position and it is a system to be encouraged. We propose to establish, and have the authority to establish, 1,000 more of these holdings in connection with the Special Areas.
Generally speaking, we must get our land and plan out our plantations so as to be sure of giving employment before we bring the workers to the places in question, but in Northumberland we are in the fortunate position of having a very large area of land acquired for planting where we have already started and where we can speed up our normal planting programme, thus giving a good deal of additional employment. This land is in two districts, Fielder, in the North Tyne Valley, and Redesdale, which is a few miles to the east of it. We have already started an additional 62 forest workers' holdings in the North Tyne Valley and 19 new ones at Redesdale. The plans outlining have been approved and the detailed plans and specifications are now being prepared. We are going ahead with that work and shall get the families in as soon as possible. This will be followed, as soon as may be, by the establishment of other groups of forest workers' holdings in the other areas.
There is one thing concerning which I want to make an appeal to hon. Members in all parts of the House: it is that they should help the Commission by creating a favourable public opinion in the districts in which we are working. That is very necessary, because wherever we go we always find a certain number of people who would rather not have any trees. That is particularly true in the neighbourhood of populous centres, where there is a great dislike to enclosures of any kind. There is to be found in the neighbourhood of industrial towns a consider able amount of land suitable for the planting of forest trees; the public have no definite rights to this land, it does not produce anything, and consequently it has not been to anyone's interest to stop 1084 people wandering about on it. If plantations are to be established on such land, it is absolutely essential that it should be enclosed during the early years of growth of the trees. Rabbits, hares, deer, sheep and cattle must be kept out, and it is even advisable in the early years of the plantation, when it is very in flammable, to keep people out also. It is astonishing how much damage may be caused by the careless throwing away of a match, or by a picnic fire which is not properly stamped out. The House may indeed be astonished to know that, although we are only at the beginning of March, during the last few weeks £12,000 worth of plantations have been burnt out in the Forestry Commission's area. Last year's growth of bracken was dry and was set fire to by cigarettes or matches carelessly thrown away, and the result was that we lost that amount in a few weeks. During the last few years many thousands of pounds have been lost in that way. I only mention this with a view to emphasising the necessity for protecting young plantations and keeping picnickers as well as animals away from them. Later on, when the trees grow up and there is a clean forest floor underneath them, the risks are not so great. I do hope, however, that Members in all parts of the House will try to create a favourable public opinion in the direction of which I have spoken.
§ Mr. KIRBY
With regard to the creation of a favourable public opinion, is the Forestry Commission doing any thing towards creating interest among buyers of timber, such as colliery owners? We produce from thinnings such things as pit-props, which are said to be more expensive than those produced abroad, and they are said to be not so good.
§ Mr. KIRBY
I did not wish to do that, and I beg your pardon. The second question I want to ask is in connection with the plantations. Is the Forestry Com mission taking steps, together with the various authorities controlling the plantations, to ensure the proper and efficient disposal of the other products of thinnings such as rustic woodwork, wood wool and so on, which is so indifferently carried out at the present time?
§ Sir G. COURTHOPE
All those things are being considered. We have been in 1085 communication with coalowners in various coalfields for a number of years and we have now got general acceptance for the home-grown pit-props subject, of course, to proper specifications. We are also finding useful markets for those other by-products to which the hon. Member has referred. Nothing of that kind has been neglected. Returning to the need for public opinion and referring to definite areas, I would say that it is especially necessary that we should have the assistance of a favourable public opinion in some parts of South Wales where we have had much difficulty as a result of objections to enclosures. We have not been able to utilise some of the best forest land in Wales, not because the public have rights over it, but because they have been in the habit of wandering over it and wish to continue to do so. In an emergency such as this, hon. Members ought to help to create a public opinion which will tolerate the necessary en closures and enable us to give more employment.
In the Cumbrian area, to which reference has been made, there is an amenity difficulty in connection with which we also want the assistance of public opinion. There has been a very strong expression of opinion in the Lake District and surrounding districts against increased afforestation in that area. A very large proportion of the plantable land, by which I mean land really suit able for establishing woodlands, within the reach of the West Cumberland Special Area, comes, more or less, within the Lake District. We are exceedingly anxious to study and consider the amenities in every way. We have a permanent advisory committee and we have been in consultation with the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, but we have not yet succeeded in creating a public opinion within the Lake District—I use the name in its widest sense—favourable to planting. We could, of course, use compulsory powers, but it is much better to proceed by agreement rather than by compulsion.
§ Sir G. COURTHOPE
Personally I think that properly planted trees would be an improvement to any district, but a large number of people do not want the 1086 rugged beauty of the Lake District to be broken and changed by the introduction of large numbers of trees. It is an opinion which I do not share but it exists. It would help the Commission's work in the Special Areas if a public opinion favourable to planting could be created, with the assistance of hon. Members. By these means and with their help, I really think we shall succeed, not only in giving a substantial and growing volume of employment, but also in establishing a rural population, which nothing but forestry will establish, and at the same time adding to the beauty of many parts of our land.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
I am sure the House will thank the hon. and gallant Member for his informative speech. Can he tell us the total number of men employed, over the whole of the schemes under the Commission?
§ Sir G. COURTHOPE
From memory I would say that the number of people whom we now employ varies at different times of the year from something like 3,800 to something like 7,000. That is on the existing programme. Our normal programme would plant 200,000 acres in the next 10 years. The special programme would double that and we can see our way, straight away, from the beginning, to employ an average of 2,200 additional people in the Special Areas.
§ Mr. E. J. WILLIAMS
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman give the names of the parts of South Wales where there is opposition to afforestation?
§ Sir G. COURTHOPE
I think perhaps it would be injudicious to do so. I will explain to the hon. Member later if he wishes.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Mr. HARDIE
It does not seem to be generally appreciated that Scotland is also concerned in this Debate. The hon. and gallant Member for Rye (Sir G. Courthope) who is always interesting on the subject of forestry, made some re marks about the land of Scotland and I wonder whether I caught him aright as saying that Scotland was not so suitable for afforestation as England.
§ Mr. HARDIE
Those who know the tract covered by the old Caledonian Forest will realise the possibilities of Scottish land in this respect. Where trees have been grown before, trees can again be grown and the part of Lanarkshire referred to, once carried the heaviest trees of the Caledonian Forest when that forest stretched right across to Ayrshire. We still have trees, some of them nearly 80 feet high, survivors of that old forest. I do not seek to create difficulties or make unnecessary criticisms, but I think it is always well to know from the people who are native to a land what that land can produce. No man, however skilled in afforestation, can go to a district and say in a day or two what that land is capable of growing. Taking into account the relative acreage of the two countries, Scot land has a larger area suitable for tree planting than England.
§ Mr. HARDIE
I am glad to have made that point clear, because I find when I go into the report of the Scottish Com missioner for the Special Areas that it is not only dull and dreary but that it contains nothing that could even be insinuated to be a suggestion of any kind. When the Lord President of the Council finished that lamentable havering homily to which we listened to-day, I felt that if there were two men who could sing a duet in unison, they were the author of that report and the Lord President of the Council. They both seem to lack know ledge of and interest in the things with which they are dealing. Their minds go off wandering in a sort of morass of words that do not bear any meaning and when they find that they have gone beyond all pause—even of a colon or a semi-colon— they go wandering on and in the end hide their heads in the sand like ostriches. I have never seen anything so lamentable as this report on the Scottish Special Areas. I should have associated this gentleman who is acting as Commissioner in Scotland with some knowledge of industry, but if he has such knowledge he has taken great pains to hide it in regard to the work which he is doing.
We are now busily creating new Special Areas in Scotland. I should have thought that one of the Commissioner's chief duties would be to prevent any further areas of the country falling into that category, but what do we find? The Glasgow papers on Saturday announced that 1088 the Phoenix Tube Works in Rutherglen in Lanarkshire were closed, which means that that area has lost its last metal industry. This is due to what is called the Corby vertical development. Works in Coatbridge and Wishaw are also to be closed. No reason has been advanced why those works should be closed. To day we have been talking as a House of Commons about planning. I want to make it plain that we cannot plan effectively inside the capitalist system. This combine called the Corby combine does not take cognisance of any local conditions anywhere and does not know any local people anywhere. In those three areas the local authorities in the past have spent huge sums and undertaken great financial responsibilities in building houses, making roads, drains and main sewers, and providing water supplies in order that the workers in those works should have somewhere to live. But a capitalist combine takes no cognizance of those facts. Whit is to happen to those areas, when the works are taken away and the workers left without employment The local authorities will have the financial responsibility for the houses, roads, sewers and so forth. I thought the Commissioner would have drawn the attention of the Government to those facts. They will have to be faced.
What are the Government going to do about these areas? Have they had any hand in the Corby business or not, or have they no control over the Corby type of combination? If so, why do they talk about control of areas? We have heard speeches to-day which would suggest that in some mysterious way there were people with new industries just waiting to bring those industries into the special areas if only they could get the sites. Would it not be manly to tell the country all about these new industries? On the first day of this Parliament the Prime Minister spoke about building factories in order to attract new industries. But it is impossible to build prospectively for industries when you do not know what kind of industries they will be. If you do not know what kind of an industry is coming, you cannot design a. building to take it. I was more than surprised at the Prime Minister, because I thought his industrial knowledge would have prevented him from making such a statement.
1089 Now I come to the question of the manufacture of distressed areas. The Government are already placed, in places like Glasgow, in serious financial difficulties by this looking aside and not looking straight in front. When I put questions in this House regarding the relations between the closing of these three works and Corby, there never comes any reply, intelligent or unintelligent. If we are to be subjected to the power of capitalism to disorganise area after area, in order that it may concentrate somewhere else, where there were no houses, drains, or roads when they started there, I charge the Government with having not only been neglectful, but culpable in design in the matter of closing down these works at Wishaw, Coatbridge, and Rutherglen, where huge sums have been spent on housing and all such amenities and where now the works are to be closed down. To-day we are told the Government want to plan. How can they plan under capitalism when the capitalists have the power to say, "We will take away these works, no matter what the local authorities have spent; we claim the right to do this with what we call our own "? You cannot organise industry under such conditions.
To-day, for the first time in this House, I felt a little flattered. Flattery does not come very often to any Member of this House, but I felt flattered to-day. I can remember that my first speech in this House in 1922 was to draw the attention of the then Government to the question of what could be done with coal in regard to oil and petrol production, and I remember being sneered at from all sides of the House, yet to-day the main theme in regard to reconstruction has been the question of what can be extracted from coal. We are now being told about the great success of the place called Billingham, but how much of that is success, how much of it is reality, how much of it is on a real competitive business basis? The capacity to do what they are doing to-day has existed for over 20 years, as I know from practical experience. This ought to have been done 20 years ago, but see how long it takes to get the ordinary mind of the civilian, especially the political civilian, to work. Whenever you put the political mind right up against something that is really' technical, there is trouble, and yet 1090 technical knowledge must be had before you can get it through, and if you do not understand it, you are bound to fail.
What have you been doing in regard to this thing called oil from coal? You have been doing the very same thing as you have been doing in Scotland by shutting down works where there are all kinds of amenities for the workers and' taking this thing to Billingham. Why? Because you had not the power of capitalism. The scientific treatment of all coal should be done in the coal areas. There are a hundred reasons why that should be so, but I will not go into them, because I know the House does not like technicalities, but in regard to Scotland it is time the Government tried to give an answer to these questions which I have been putting since I came back here in the present Parliament. I want to know what is the relation between Corby and the taking away of these three works to which I have referred. I want to know where the sense comes in of appointing a Commissioner who is sup posed to deal with the Special Areas while at the same time you allow further distressed areas to be created.
I hope that in this Debate, protracted as it is, the question of rates will not be forgotten. We have heard to-day about taking work into distressed areas, but if the rates are 25s. or 26s. in a Special Area, and you have another area where the facilities are equally good but the rates are only 5s. or 6s., do you think the capitalist will come into the area where the rates are 25s.? Not a bit. It is all nonsense, all slithering, slavering nonsense. You ought to deal with the rating system. If you had an investigation into it, you would soon find that the one way to get equivalent attractions anywhere was to have equalisation of rates, and that no area should escape its responsibility for what is national. We have Glasgow to witness to-day, for we get letters saying that every move made by the Government in regard to payments out is always to relieve the national Exchequer and to place more upon the local rates. Very much depends on this question of rating, and unless we come to some system whereby we can get a real level of rates throughout the country, we shall have this new competition in regard to areas.
1091 It is all very well talking about an area. I felt really sorry that day when I heard the Prime Minister talking about building new works, as if he was putting up a box in a tree so that birds could come and nest in it. Under the capitalist system, if any of them can make a profit out of anything, they will very soon be in it. The moment profit is to be seen, you will find them there, and they will not consider the working men's conditions in the Special Areas. They will pay no attention to the Government, but they will go where it is best for themselves. I hope that whoever replies for the Government will keep all these things in mind.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ Lord DUNGLASS
I had thought it a pity that Members of the Opposition should have been unable to resist the temptation of mixing a debate on the Special Areas with a Vote of Censure, but, except for one period of wanderings and excursions, if I may label it so, by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton), in which he went so far afield as to gather the means test as a brick to hurl at the Lord President of the Council, I think hon. Members will in general agree that from the opposite side of the House have come many constructive suggestions. That is surely right, but after two years now of constant and repeated debates on this subject, I think the House has a right to expect something more than a mere repetition of the plight which exists in the depressed areas, and to ask Members on all sides of the House to contribute some constructive proposals. I want to devote myself to one or two of the problems before us—the problem of the location of industry, which was raised by the hon. Member who opened the Debate, and the problem of transference, which was raised by the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. K. Griffith) and several other Opposition speakers.
Before doing so, however, I want to call attention to one rather significant omission. Those of us who were in the last Parliament will remember that Parliament deliberately inserted two functions which the Commissioners should fulfil. One was the social and physical regeneration of the areas, and the other was their economic revival. The omission 1092 to which I want to call attention is that practically nobody to-day has paid any attention to the very important task of physical and social regeneration in these areas. Parliament at that time thought that the physical deterioration after long unemployment was likely seriously to prejudice the industrial recovery of these areas. I do not want to dwell on this point too long, but anybody who reads the catalogue of provisions which the Commissioners for these areas have been able to make under the heading of sanitary services and other measures of social improvement, will realise the varied work that has been done, of the greatest value to those areas.
There are two objections from hon. Members opposite, as I understand it, and the first is that this work should be done either by the Ministry of Health or by the local authorities. Anybody who has any experience of practical administration in a depressed area where the rates are high will know that there are many services of great worth which would, unless they were assisted in some such way, fall into the no man's land between the local authority and the central Department. There is one other objection that is raised, and it comes from the small party who are represented now below the Gangway opposite by one of their Members. That objection is that it is wrong to provide public money to subsidise voluntary bodies which give voluntary social service. Whenever that point is made by the Opposition, I cannot help remembering this: They say that these bodies show militaristic characteristics, and I can never help reminding myself and hon. Members opposite that the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) him self was one of the strictest disciplinarians in the Territorial Army in his early days, and he has been able to survive that and is really a better Socialist now than all those who are together on the benches above the Gangway opposite.
May I turn to the second part of the Commissioner's functions, which is the economic revival of these areas. Progress is slow. That point was made by the last speaker on the Opposition benches, but did anyone expect that it could be any thing else? It is not a n unfair interpretation of the Commissioner's report to say that though he feels able to initiate schemes of development and improvement within the areas, he does not, within the 1093 terms of the Act, feel himself able to pave the way to any large-scale revival. That is used as an argument by hon. Gentlemen on the Socialist benches in order to urge that the Commissioner's powers should be increased. That leads to the idea of an industrial dictator, but is it really practicable for the Commissioner to be so decontrolled? The answer must be "No," for the unchallengeable reason that any proposals of general application, which must have wider re- actions outside the Special Areas, must be the responsibility of the Government.
Although this must mean that the Commissioner's work cannot be spectacular, it has two important and practical functions. The first is the re- equipment of areas in preparation for industrial revival, and the second, to which I attach importance, is to advise the Government. It would be a mistake to under-estimate the importance of that function, for the Commissioner is the only man in the areas who is able to take a detached view of the problem and who yet has an intimate knowledge of it. He is probably the only man in the areas who can see the problems there in proper relation to the wider issues outside. Therefore, on both counts—that of social regeneration and that of industrial revival—the Commissioner should be kept in office. If that be so, and if my reasoning be right, it is an obligation upon this House to re- turn again and again, as the hon. Member for Springburn (Mr. Hardie) said, in search of a larger remedy. Any remedy that can be produced would naturally fall under two distinct headings. There is the possibility of bringing industry into a depressed area and there is the other possibility which was touched upon by the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough of taking people out of the areas and giving them work elsewhere. I want to make a definite proposal to the Government under the second heading.
Perhaps I may be allowed to pause to say a word about the location of industry, which is of great interest to hon. Members opposite and was raised by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland. This proposal for the compulsory location of industry is attracting increasing attention, particularly by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I sometimes 1094 wonder whether they realise the full implications of it. The promotion of industrial enterprise is a risk, and the final choice of an industrial site must always depend on one or more economic factors. It may be in proximity to raw materials or to ancillary trades; or it may be the difference in the original purchasing price or the cost of maintenance. It may be the attitude of labour, or it may —and I think this is a factor which is becoming more and more dominant—be the contact with oversea and Dominion buyers. It may he all or any one of these factors. The industrialist estimates his chances, and as a result he invests his capital and probably appeals for public subscriptions.
If the Government then come along and forbid him putting his factory in the place which he has decided is the best, and forbid him enjoying the conditions under which he can operate, what is the position? The Government would seem to me to be taking two risks. Either the industrialists will give up the enterprise, in which case there is the real risk of the factory being taken to some other country; or the industrialist will agree to go to a depressed area and probably, for some reason, his enterprise will fail. Then he will go to his shareholders and say, "The Government insisted that I should take my industry into a de pressed area; they are, therefore, responsible for the mess we are in, and it is up to them to get us out." I cannot see how hon. Gentlemen who argue for the compulsory allocation of industry can get away from that.
§ Lord DUNGLASS
A trading estate is an inducement for industries to go into a depressed area, but that is a different thing from compulsion by licence. For the Government in a competitive country like Great Britain, which depends on the profits of industry to keep a huge industrial population on a high standard of living to put difficulties in the way of industrial enterprise is to place on its shoulders a great responsibility. The course of wisdom and truth is that the Government must at all costs avoid com pulsion and take every step they think fit in order to induce industry to carry on their enterprise in the Special Areas.
1095 I want to face the question, raised by many hon. Members, of transference because they have told us that that is a policy of despair. It seems to me that that conception arises from a misunderstanding of the industrial conditions and prospects of many of the distressed areas. Although one would not suggest that transference should be the main line of attack upon the unemployment problem in the distressed areas, it must be remembered that a common feature in each of these areas is the existence of the coal trade. Hon. Members will do well to read Mr. Stewart's report, in which he sets out as clearly as it can be put the difficulties in the way of increased employment in the coal industry. Anybody who knows that industry can say with certainty that there will be a permanent surplus of labour to its needs. We may absorb our steel workers and many engineers and shipbuilders, particularly in view of the naval replacement programme, but there will be that permanent surplus in the coal trade to deal with.
Transference is nothing new. The Ministry of Labour have carried it on for some time. In the first nine months of 1934, 5,000 men and 3,700 women were transferred; in the first nine months of 1935, 9,000 men and 3,500 women were transferred. That is a solid achievement, and it represents substantial progress and much experience gained, but I would ask hon. Members to note one or two features. The first is that it is, of necessity, mostly a transference of single men and women, and the second is that a condition of transference in this case is that there should be a guarantee of work ready at the other end. It is necessarily, therefore, as the hon. Member for Spring-burn said, a slow process in relation to the whole problem of unemployment in the distressed areas.
The question I wish to deal with is, Can transference of this surplus in the coal industry be speeded up? I think it is clear that it could be accelerated, given a scheme which embraced two new conditions. The first is that the unit to be transferred should be the family rather than the individual, and the second condition is that, as a substitute for the guarantee of work at the other end, there should be "a reasonable anticipation of employment." I have sometimes thought that the case is already made for a large- 1096 scale transference, with the family as the unit, from areas of high unemployment like, let us say, Durham to areas of low unemployment in the Midlands. Some places in Durham have a percentage of unemployment as high as 35 to 40 per cent., while in places in the Midlands it is probably as low as 5 per cent. One area is an area where industry is stagnating, the other an area where it is developing. In one area the unemployed personnel is unchanging, in the other area the circulation of employment is moving ahead. One is an area in which the child leaving school faces a life with no prospects, and the other is an area in which a deter mined youth or man c in get beneficial employment.
§ Lord DUNGLASS
The hon. Member is indulging in an intelligent anticipation of what I was going to try to tell him. I think it is true to say that in very many cases the transference of a family from a depressed area would mean everything in the world to that family, and the inconvenience which would be caused in the area in which there was very little unemployment would, at worst, be only to give the people there slightly more intermittent employment. It is represented to me, and I believe it is a decisive objection at present, that this proposal would raise such a sustained objection in the industrial areas in, let us say, the Midlands that the transference which is being carried on at present by the Ministry of Labour would be seriously prejudiced. But we may yet have to risk it.
There is, however, a, scheme which I should like to put forward to the Under-Secretary as shortly as I can, which has almost as great value but is not, I think, open to the same objection. A feature of the development of this country in the last decade has been what I may call the urbanisation of the London counties. That does not quite express what I mean, and so I shall have to put it into a few more words, but it is certainly true that anybody in business in London who makes a little money is less and less inclined to live in London and migrates some 20, 30 or 40 miles from London. In the areas there you will find, especially 1097 if you fly over that part of the country, that villas and small houses have sprung up with a mushroom growth in the last few years. If the position is closely looked into it will be found that from April to September all those houses are continuously occupied, and occupied at week-ends all through the year, and that there is a very definite and extensive demand for a certain type of labour—and here is the point which I should like to commend to the hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. Logan)—which can roughly be said to be covered by the term "domestic service of every kind." The scheme which I propose is that transference should be started on a large scale for groups of families, 50 to 100 families at a time, to be housed in those six or seven London counties, the families to be housed as close as possible to each other so as to overcome reluctance on their part to leave their old homes and to diminish the sense of loneliness on arrival.
I believe that it would be safe in this case to do away with the necessity for the guarantee of work, because I think it would be found that the demand for that kind of labour was such that one could confidently predict that work would be found for most of the family for most of the year. I would point out to hon. Members opposite that I am referring to domestic service in its widest form, and that it would find employment for the girls as well as the younger boys. I should not particularly worry whether the householder himself found employment, but I should insist upon its being a condition of the scheme that some half-acre or so of land should be attached to each house, so that in case the occupier did not get work he could cultivate vegetables and fresh fruits, for which there is always a ready market in those London counties. I do not like to mention numbers, because it seldom pays to do so, but from such investigation as I have been able to make, and only in an amateur way, I believe there would be room for some 2,000 or 3;000 families, transferred from mining areas, in the three counties of Kent, Surrey and Sussex alone, and there are other counties too.
The scheme seems to me to have at least one merit, and that is that it could be carried on without any fear of prejudicing the industrial transference which is being undertaken by the 1098 Ministry of Labour, because it is of a different kind. I apologise for keeping the House so long, but I was anxious to put forward this suggestion. So far as the Government's policy with regard to Special Areas is concerned, it seems to me that while there is no large remedy they will have to keep an open mind and very often to take unconventional methods, but as far as they have gone I give them not a grudging, automatic sup port but a support which I can give with complete confidence.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Miss WILKINSON
I wonder if the last speaker will take the trouble to read his speech in the OFFICIAL REPORT? It seemed to be the most extraordinary collection of proposals, and I listened to it with growing wonder. The Noble Lord said that you must not make any compulsory provision to prevent new industries being dumped into counties where there is no particular need for them, but where it is cheap, leaving whole areas derelict. You must not interfere with the sacred rights of capital. Instead you must bribe them to remain certain areas. If they do not accept the bribe it is, according to the Noble Lord, just too bad. When it comes to the workers, you can root them up, 50 families at a time, and dump them just anywhere you like.
§ Lord DUNGLASS
I do not want to interrupt the hon. Lady, because I have already spoken for too long, but I would like to make it clear that a scheme of transference such as I have in mind must be voluntary and not compulsory.
§ Miss WILKINSON
That explanation only accentuates the curious unreality of the Noble Lord's point of view.. I suppose if you are born the son of an earl that is the sort of thing you think about. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, really, because although the Noble Lord is a charming person he has not the remotest idea of what it means to be living on the means test or to go along to the Employment Exchange and be told, "You can form part of a group that is to be transferred. It is completely voluntary, but if you do not go your dole is stopped." That is voluntary, is it not? There is no trouble for the capitalist who is transferring his money. He has not to uproot his home or his traditions or anything else like that, but in the case of the workers you will have a kind of modern 1099 slave gang, except that it will be rather worse. You were under compulsion to look after your slave gang, but there is no compulsion to look after these unfortunate people whom you propose to dump down anywhere. I wonder what the inhabitants of Kent, to whom it is proposed to make the gift of these large groups, will say. There is plenty of unemployment in Kent, I can assure the Noble Lord.
I wish some of the people who talk like this would come and see what the problems of the distressed areas really are. There is Lanark; how often do you go and what do you do when you get there How many of its men and women do you visit? I will give the Noble Lord credit for trying to suggest something. He did not merely indulge in airy optimism, like the Lord President of the Council and the Minister of Health. One of the difficult problems of the Special Areas is the well-intentioned optimism of those who talk about them. I am glad that the Parliamentary Secretary is here, because this must be one of his problems. I had a newspaper man to see me when I was in my constituency this week-end, and when I made some comments about the Special Areas he said quite gaily: "Our instructions are to be optimistic. We must not say that these areas are derelict or depressed. We call them special, and we must be optimistic. The general desire is to create confidence." What is the result? It is seen in a small way in a letter I received this morning from a well-intentioned female who said she had in tended to send boots and clothes to the Special Areas but she understood, because of the speed that was being made in the armaments programme, that everybody had now got work.
I make no apology for dealing exclusively with my own constituency, Jarrow, where the hon. Gentleman has just been. I deal with Jarrow partly because we are all dealing with our own particular cabbage patch, and partly because it has the unenviable reputation of having the highest unemployment rates of the country, and it is rather time that that fact was brought to the notice of the Government. We are suffering terribly from the determined atmosphere of well-intentioned optimism. I am glad to see the hon. Member for Guildford (Sir J. Jarvis) in his place, because I propose to 1100 mention his name. I think he must have suffered from this same wild optimism of well-intentioned people. When the hon. Gentleman purchased the "Olympic" to be broken up in Jarrow, the banner head lines across the newspapers stated that 1,000 men were to be employed on this ship. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman committed himself to any figures like that, but the Parliamentary Secretary was in the town recently inquiring into the number of men actually employed to date and—I shall stand corrected if the figures I give are wrong—we were told that 130 men were now employed, and that 150 would probably be the highest figure. It is playing with men's hopes to produce continual statements that there are 1,000 men to be employed on a scheme Eli e that. I am not denying the usefulness of employing 130 men, but for the sake of truth and reality I want to prick these glowing bubbles that are obscuring the facts of the situation.
Tiny little schemes are being talked about to-day. I was present at the meeting of the North-East Development Board on Saturday morning. The proceedings of that Board are confidential, but it is breaking no confidence to report, because the statement has been published in the newspapers, that the chairman, Lord Ridley, who is a supporter of the present Government, said that the Com missioner's Report was playing with the matter because it made no proposal for any large-scale reorganisation. I have his actual phrases here. He said:There is no coherent effort to treat the problem as a whole. It is nibbling at little pieces of it.I am not blaming the Commissioner. We ought to have an extra Prayer added to the Service for the Day, and to include in it the Minister of Labour and the Commissioner for the Special Areas, because if any two people need our prayers it is those two unfortunate gentlemen. We might chuck in the Parliamentary Secretary while we are about it.
All these areas are heavy industry areas. They are areas of great masses of men in great masses of employment. These are not handicraftsmen; these are not men who can be taught embroidery, or rustic woodwork, or something like that; these are the mass employments on which the prosperity of Britain in the 1101 past has been founded. I make no apology for mentioning again in this House the murder of Jarrow's six ship yards in the interest of National Securities, Limited, which is the Bank of England, which is the financiers of the City of London, who, on the basis of rationalising the steel trade, have simply cut the throat of this industry and have practically out the throat of the town.
Now a new and possibly hopeful enterprise is being suggested. There is a suggestion, there is a possibility, there is a scheme—one hardly knows which exact word to use, there is such an atmosphere of mystery over the whole thing—for opening a steelworks at Jarrow; but no body can get any real information. Publicly one sees tremendous optimism—one hears of radiograms within a year and every fit man in Jarrow being employed; but when you see people privately there is a great deal of humming and ha'ing, and they are not quite sure. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether, if he or his Minister is going to reply, he is going to tell us what is the real trouble? Apparently the money can be got; there is no doubt that the site is there.
The Commissioner is talking about developing the trading estate at Gateshead —he is talking about roads and power and building factories—as it were, arranging, as one of my hon. Friends has said, the boxes for the birds to nest in. But here is a site, here is the labour, here is everything that is needed; what is the nigger in this particular wood pile? Can not we once, in the whole of this Debate, get down to something like brass tacks, and find out what really is stopping this industry? Is it a fact that the Government have so helped the steel combine on Tees-side that Lord Furness is saying that he is going to have no competitors on Tyneside? If that be the truth, let us know it. It is ever so much better that we should know the truth than that there should be banner headlines day after day and week after week in the newspapers, buoying up these men with a belief that these things are going to happen. Is Lord Furness saying that this thing shall not happen? That is what we want to know. And, if he is saying that it is not going to happen, does that mean that the Government, who have created a practical monopoly in the steel trade by an enormously high tariff and a quota on 1102 the top of that, and have thereby given the steel trade everything that it wants, are now going to say that Lord Furness is going to have the monopoly of that steel trade, and only Tees-side and the firms he controls are going to have the orders? That is what we want to know, and it is about time that we knew it. Honestly, it is very much better that we should know it than that these men should be kept on tenterhooks, so that every time one goes into the Division one meets desperate men who are simply hanging on and asking, "Have you heard anything yet? Is it true that the steel works are going to be opened?" It is simply a tragedy to have to meet these men when no one knows anything at all.
The horror of it is that works are drifting away. The latest news is that the galvanising works are going. Are the Government doing anything to stop that, or are we to face the fact that, once industry starts going, the whole area becomes unpopular and everything drifts away? I really do say to the Minister that we have had just about enough of sympathy and soothing optimism in this area. Ten years have gone by, and what this area is suffering from is the policy of the Conservative Government, what ever kind of title it ties round its neck—the policy of a succession of Conservative. Governments. The policy of tariffs, the policy of quotas, the currency policy, all these things have hit just these trades. What are the Government going to do? It is no use sending along a nice amiable gentleman from the Forestry Commission who talks amiably about employing 39 men to plant 1,000 acres. I have added up what it means, and it means 63 men from that particular area. What does that amount to when there are 80 per cent. unemployed in Jarrow? Are we on this side really to take this sort of thing patiently. It is just fiddling with the problem, and everyone knows it; and we have to sit here and pretend that Members on the other side of the House: are talking sense.
Take the trading estate. What is the basis of it? Again there is a committee, and that committee, as far as regards its personnel, is as good a committee as any can be. It is a hand-picked committee of the best type of industrialists in the area. Every single one of them is an expert business man and knows what he is talking about. What do they say? 1103 They say that it is impossible to talk about this trading estate really developing into anything worth while in less than 30 years. Is this trading estate offered by the Government as a practical contribution to the immediate situation? One of the biggest industrialists, a man who is an expert in his own job and who has built up one of the biggest and most successful businesses in the North, talks about 50 years.
As a matter of fact, the Government have not tackled even the implications of these trading estates. They are going to be enormously expensive. Not only are roads and power to be provided, but factories are being built, apparently quite irrespective of what trades are coming there. The phrase used is that a factory is to be built, and then the employer, whoever he is, has only to provide special machinery. I am a trade union official, and I deal with many machine trades, and I know from my own experience that to suggest that a man can take over a ready-made factory shell, and put in machinery to fit it, is fantastic. But even so, even on the most optimistic basis, it is going to take three or four years even to get the site cleared, the roads made, the power installed. Think how long it took to make Wembley.
But the powers of the Special Commissioner end in 1937, and there is no guarantee to anyone that this gigantic bribe to industry is going to continue after 1937. At present we are dealing with a Special Commissioner who is sympathetic, we are dealing with a man who in honour is pledged up to the hilt on these trading estates, and will do his very best to bully, persuade and cajole the Departments concerned. But what is to happen after 1937? I have talked with business men in the North-East about the situation, and they say that, after Mr. Stewart has gone, they will be left at the mercy of the Treasury. One knows what that means. There was not a single fact in the somewhat nebulous contribution of the Lord President of the Council. He very rightly heaped a great deal of credit on the Special Commissioner but he did not give any guarantee that there would be any sort of stability in the Commissioner's office.
Now let us take the question of grants to local authorities. In this report there 1104 is a long list of grants given, suggested and recommended to local authorities. There is a good deal of complaint from the larger towns that schemes that they have been pressed to produce have been turned down on the ground that Newcastle, for instance, was well able to borrow to meet the cost of its own schemes. On the other hand, there is a list of grants which have not been taken up because the area is too poor to do it. So it works out this way, that if a town is sufficiently wealthy to take up the grant, it does not get it, and, if it does get it, it is too poor to take it up. We are told that we are not making constructive suggestions. It is extremely difficult for us who thoroughly disbelieve in all the assumptions on which the present system is built to make constructive suggestions for the better working of a system which is breaking down before our eyes. We do not regard Socialism as a sort of Utopia, a mild kind of fad, but as a business proposition. But I ask you, even on the system that the Noble Lord the Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass) seemed to think the best possible, whether you can continue to run it on the basis of bribing firms to come to the Special Areas? The mere fact that you are trying to bribe them suggests to a business man that there is a catch in it somewhere. It seems to me that the time has arrived when the Ministry of Labour ought to have the same kind of powers that are given to the Minister of Transport. This House has settled than ribbon development has gone so far that we have to put an end to that sort of danger to life and limb and have some constructive planning of our roads and our transport facilities.
Is it asking too much of hon. Members opposite, who used to believe so firmly in laissez faire but who have scrapped it all now and have used quotas, licences and tariffs for preventing goods from coming into the country, to go a step forward and say that, as they are given special privileges, so they have some responsibilities and they must submit to some curtailment of their liberty within that privileged ring that has been created for them? In the name if common sense, why should we not declare a definite area around London, say 30 or 50 miles, and treat it as a built-up area, and say that no further industry shall be started in it 1105 unless a definite case can be proved that only in that area can those works be profitably run? The usual argument is that within an area of, say, 50 or 100 miles round London, there are 16,000,000 of population and that it is probably the best market in the world. But within 125 miles of Newcastle, which includes the whole of the Special Areas of the North, there are 16,500,000. It is not only a question of putting them near London.
I have recently seen steel works which have been dumped down in a perfectly beautiful area of Worcestershire, for no particular reason at all, and have turned it into an industrial slum, while you have other areas which are industrial slums already panting for those very works. What argument is there for saying that firms shall not go into these already over developed areas and shall continue to follow the fashion and draw away the industrial blood from these Northern areas? One important matter is the cost of transport by rail and road. If you are going on this system of a gigantic bribe to industry, would it not be better, in stead of building these riotously expensive trading estates, which you do not know that anyone will come to when you have got them, which are being fantastically built up for something that may happen, to take the empty factories that exist already and use your bribes for making some arrangement for road and rail transport? I fail to see that the trading estates are going to do anything at all. That is why we are engaged in a Vote of Censure on the Government.
An hon. Member opposite said we were indulging in sob stuff. There has not been a sentence from these benches of sob stuff. We have made practical business propositions. From the other side we have had flights of imagination which suggest that factories are built in the clouds and have no connection whatever with solid earth. The Government can not ride off on that, because we represent here people who, if not starving—perhaps they would kick up more fuss if they were starving—are just kept on the level which makes things barely bearable and are fed with a great deal of hope and optimism which, in effect, says that it will all be better in future. That is very cruel. I appeal, for what it is worth, to the Parliamentary Secretary—not that he has much power—to ask his Minister and 1106 his Cabinet when they are to come for ward with some really practical proposals. I know that we shall be told during the next fortnight that the £300,000,000 armament proposals will settle the whole problem.
In this connection I again refer to the North-Eastern Development Board. I am not giving the House anything out of the Socialist book, but telling them what business men say. One of the men there said that in 1913 it took 20 men three weeks to do the manholes on a certain ship, and that to-day a lad, with the aid of modern mechanism, could do the work in three days. Is the £300,000,000 armament proposal going to solve this problem, do anything for the sterile shipyards of Jarrow, or break down the position of Lord Furness in getting the highest possible profits which he can wring out of his Tees-side mono poly? After the Government have done all this, at the end of the three years, what then? These are the things about which we are concerned, and for Members of the Government to go on the platform month after month and declare that everything is well and good on the basis of a temporary building boom and a £300,000,000 armaments programme, is a case of deceiving the country, and they know it. Anybody who looks at the facts knows that that is the case. The situation in the Northern area is getting worse. This is the position with which we have to deal outside the actual armaments circle. Nothing has been said on the benches opposite that touches the centre of the problem. They are dealing with the fringe of it, and with the details. We on this side, and employers of labour in the North, and the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Magnay) know that this is the position.
§ Mr. MAGNAY
The hon. Lady has spoken far too long, and it is not fair to me, as I was present at the Development Board the same as the hon. Lady.
§ Miss WILKINSON
I have been speaking exactly 20 minutes, and I make no apology. The time has come when these things have to be said, and I in tend to say them. Hon. Members on the opposite side have drivelled on and on uttering optimistic remarks. This is the position which has to be tackled, and I hope that the hon. Member for Gateshead will be the next speaker, so 1107 that he can back me up in what I have said. These are the facts of the North-East coast, and they have to be stated in this House, because we want some satisfaction from the Ministry of Labour and the Government.
§ 9.10 p.m.
§ Mr. W. ROBERTS
There is one point to which I wish to draw the attention of the House. We should draw a distinction in this Debate between the work that has been accomplished by the Special Com missioners, and the part that the Government have played in it. I regard the work which has been done by the Special Commissioners of considerable value considering the very great limitation of their powers. As to the general policies which have been put forward, it has been suggested that a big programme of public works might solve the problem. This has been ruled out. The Commissioners have not been able to carry out such a programme owing to the statutory limitatiotas placed upon them. The land, considered a possibility by some people, has been ruled out by reason of difficulties into which I do not wish to go this evening. The development of the heavy industries, the Commissioners point out, is unlikely. Transference is a possibility in which they have done valuable work, and lastly there are social services of various sorts. It should not go out from this House that we under-estimate the value of the work that has been done in promoting various types of social services. The hon. Lady the Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) will agree with me that to make it possible for the wives of unemployed men who perhaps have never had a holiday in their lives to have a holiday away from the distressed areas, even though it is a small thing, is at least valuable.
After listening to what has been said from the Government side this after noon, I believe that this House will be come a depressed area if there is not any greater hope. The various possibilities I have suggested having been ruled out, there remains only one possibility which is of practical and immediate application. It is, as the Commissioner for England and Wales has pointed out again and again in his report, the development of light industries in the Special Areas. We should have a definite report as to the position of the Government on the 1108 vital question of whether they are or are not prepared to make it possible to start small industries in the Special Areas. The application was made on 26th July last, and is it asking too much, therefore, that the Government should have made up their opinion by 2nd of March of the followitng year? If rot, what are the difficulties which stand in the way of the Government making up their minds? The general principle that to assist private enterprise is undesirable has been cast aside a hundred times by the present Government in subsidies here, there and everywhere. If it is eight to subsidise housing, why is it wrong to subsidise some other light industry which could be established in the distressed areas? The Commissioner has made a definite application. He has reasoned this thing out very carefully and clearly in his report. I will quote a sentence from his report to bear out what I have said,Universal agreement as to the need of directing and developing in the Special Areas, fresh industries, particularly of the lighter type.and again,The all important fact is that the difficulty of obtaining finance exists and is the subject of constant representation from each area.If this question has been the subject of constant representation to him from each area, I think we are entitled to a definite answer from the Government to-night as to what their policy is going to be upon it.
There is one further point which I should like to mention. Some of us who are connected with agricultural districts in the North of England which border on the, Special Areas believe that an enormous amount of valuable work can be done in reconditioning the land in the North of England. We have listened to an interesting speech from the hon. and gallant Member for Rye (Sir G. Courthope), speaking on behalf of the Forestry Commission. That is one side of the work to be done. There is an immense amount of electrification work in the rural districts, land drainage, fencing, arterial draining, but all this work, or much of it, is at tin present time de barred from the activities of the Special Commissioners because of the Clause that no private enterprise and no private individual may receive benefit from the, assistance which the Special Commissioners give. All I can say is that if by 1109 statutory limitations the Commissioner is prevented from carrying out public works and. any work which might assist private enterprise then, except the type of social service which he has carried out, there is very little else that he can do.
If the view of the Government really is that these districts are derelict, and that transference is the only way that their problems can be solved, I suggest that it is indeed a very dark day for the Special Areas, and that the sooner we know that that is the policy of the Government the better. We do not wish to be left in the North of England as a sort of high and dry waste left behind by the tide of migration to the South. I do not believe that it is for the good of the North of England or of the South of England that such a state of affairs should exist. I believe that the great spreading industrialism around London is neither good nor satisfactory for this district, nor is it satisfactory for the North, from which many of the workers came. I appeal to the Government to give us some indication to-day that the plain moral of the Commissioner's report is that unless he is given greater powers, especially powers to assist light industries to be established in the North, his work is done and there will be no object in continuing his appointment for a further period.
§ 9.18 p.m.
§ Sir REGINALD CLARRY
As one of the Government supporters in South Wales and Monmouthshire I very much regret that a Vote of Censure has been moved, because although I am in very great sympathy with a large portion of the wording of the Vote of Censure, I shall vote against it. I agree with that portion which "expresses profound regret at the inability," etc. On the question of the fundamental causes underlying the present situation a good deal of analysis is required to know what are the fundamental causes of the present distress in the Special Areas. They are very many and diverse, and the Opposition are as much to blame for those conditions as the present Government or anybody else. In 1929–31 they had the opportunity of making suggestions and carrying out schemes, but I think they made matters worse. Therefore, I think a Vote of Censure to-day is both stupid and unnecessary and I shall vote against it, although, as I have said, I have very great sym- 1110 pathy with it and have little fault to find with the basic fact that we should strongly criticise the Government in regard to certain features of the situation in the depressed areas.
I turned up last night a speech made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in November, 1934, and I was much struck by certain words that he used in dealing with the distressed areas at that time. I will read them, because it is very important that the Government should be brought back to that position. He said in reference to schemes in general and the handling of them:The application of all the necessary and proper safeguards which are usually brought into operation when considering the expenditure of public money, is a procedure which is neither appropriate nor adequate to the special conditions of these areas.He went on to say:Diseases desperate grownBy desperate appliance are relieved,Or not at all.Although in the present case we need not describe the disease as desperate, it certainly is sufficiently exceptional to merit exceptional treatment. What we want here, as it seems to us "—that is, the Government of the day—is something more rapid, more direct, less orthodox if you like, than the ordinary plan."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th November, 1934; cols. 1995–6, Vol. 293.]I accuse the Government of showing no indication of any special treatment in the Special Areas. They have tinkered with the problem in smallish ways, and although I do not think that it is within the bounds of possibility to tackle the fundamental causes, I do suggest that the Government have not dealt as they might have done with the problem. Take the question of coal. I am speaking particularly for South Wales and Mon mouthshire, where the coal problem is the basic problem for that depressed area, particularly to the lessened export of coal. It has been suggested in this House—I have suggested it within the last 12 months—that the advisability of subsidising the exports of coal was worth consideration. I know that there are difficulties. If it was easy, there would be no question about it. Difficulties are made to be overcome, and the advantages would he great for every additional ton of coal brought to the surface in 1111 South Wales and Monmouthshire and exported. The advantage would be not only to the collier and the district but to all ancillary work, transport, docks, handling, shipping, ship-repairing and so forth. I would remind the Government that that suggestion has been definitely made on the Floor of the House. Surely it deserved the courtesy of a reasoned reply. I should call that something in the nature of that "exceptional treatment and not in the orthodox way described by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That suggestion I submit is worthy of consideration. Then there is the question of hydrogenation.
§ Mr. GALLACHER
If the hon. Member is in favour of subsidising the export of coal, why not propose a subsidy on the consumption of coal in this country? There are any number of people who cannot afford to buy coal.
§ Sir R. CLARRY
For the simple reason that we want to increase the export trade of coal in South Wales and Monmouth shire. If we subsidise home consumption we should not be doing that. I am suggesting that the whole problem is worthy of consideration. With regard to hydrogenation, that has surely gone beyond the experimental stage. It is in the nature of an entirely new industry. There can be no question here of the Government helping competitive industry. Here is something entirely new to South Wales and Monmouthshire. Everything necessary is available there. Raw materials, transport and markets. That, surely, is something worthy of that exceptional treatment to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred. It is something to be argued about, but we have heard neither argument nor reason from the Government why nothing has been done in that direction. I am only just sketching out different suggestions, because I do not wish to take up too much time.
There is the question of taking new industries to the depressed areas. South Wales and Monmouthshire is an area—we cannot blink the facts—which to new industrialists has a bad reputation, rightly or wrongly. A bad reputation can be translated into £.s.d. as regards new capital. There should be financial inducement to capital to go to that area 1112 which could overcome the money value of the disadvantages. There has been no attempt in that direction. Suggestions have been made on the Floor of the House in that respect which, if examined care fully, would at least be productive of practical proposals for bringing new capital to such an area, whether by way of a guarantee of interest for a period until the industries that are being built up are productive, or by way of the subsidising of wages. We are entitled to expect exceptional treatment and I have not seen that exceptional treatment.
We have heard to-day that it is contemplated that the Government will pre scribe that certain work for the depressed or Special Areas shall be given in connection with the rearmament programme. I would go a step further. I would make it a condition of the contracts for any work in connection with rearmament that a certain proportion, which could be easily calculated, should come from the distressed areas. We arc entitled to ask for special treatment. That is surely an avenue for special treatment. With regard to the question of docks and trans port we have excellent skilled workers who, unfortunately, have done only a few days work per annum for the last five or six years. Why cannot we get some of the Government repair work in South Wales? I know that certain questions arise as to size, capacity and ability for the carrying out of this work in South Wales. I have written on many occasions to the Admiralty and have argued pointing out that this work could be done from the point of view of the size of the docks, the capacity and the ability. It is a question for them of keeping their own dockyards going. We ask for special treatment.
There is a very strong feeling, stronger than ever before in South Wales and Monmouthshire, that something in the way of special treatment should be done at once. Party differences are being sunk and a very large meeting of the most important people in South Wales and Monmouthshire has been called for one day next week in order to pass a resolution asking for the appointment of a Cabinet Committee to look into this question. It brooks no delay, and I do re quest again that the special treatment promised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer 18 months ago should be put into force without further delay.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I have not taken part in these debates before, because I do not sit for a constituency in a Special Area, and those of us in that position have felt that the representatives of the Special Areas were entitled to the first and the chief say in the discussion of these problems. But these are problems in which other Members of the House not only have a right but a responsibility to take an interest and to try to make a contribution, and I rise to-night very shortly to say that I share the feelings of anxiety to which voice has just been given so eloquently by my hon. Friend who just sat down. Of course we cannot vote for a Vote of Censure on the Government whom we support moved by an Opposition with whom we cannot agree in any important principle. But I hope that the Government will not take the fact that they will get the full vote of their party and supporters in the Lobby to-night as an indication that their supporters are happy on this question, because I can assure my right hon. Friend that a great many of us have a very strong feeling that the Government are not doing all that might be clone towards the solution of this terrible problem, and we would like to see them tackle the problem in a number of matters, one or two of which I shall endeavour to indicate to-night.
When I say that, I do not want to minimise in the slightest degree the excellent work which we all admit the Government have done. There has been splendid work done in the Special Areas under the Special Commissioners. I think that on these lines, as far as the problem can be tackled locally, it probably is being tackled locally as well and as efficiently as possible. Also I do not wish to minimise in the least the great improvement in national trade that the Government have brought about, the stability which they have restored to the national finances, and all that. That great work we all remember. But this problem can not be solved in the Special Areas them selves. It is a national problem and has got to be tackled as a national problem; and the mere fact that the Government, by sound financial policy and a tariff policy, have produced a great improvement in trade and in our national finances, does not in the least absolve them from the duty of considering whether or not there are a number of special measures of a national character which they ought to 1114 take towards solving this particular question.
What distresses me is that the Government seem to have come to an end of their ideas in this matter. They seem to be going on as if the steps which they have already taken were adequate to solve the problem and will in time solve it. I do not believe that that is the case at all. It seems to me—and I think to many other Conservatives also—that the special nature of this problem requires special measures, new ideas; and I submit that in the two reports of the Special Commissioner you have a number of very important new ideas which I should like to see given effect to by the Government. Let me, in the first place, make a plea for the location of industry. I agree to a very large extent with what was said by the hon. Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson). The Conservative party is not afraid of planning. Laissez-faire has been abandoned, I think, by all parties, even the Liberal party; and the adoption of a tariff system commits us to the principle of the location of industry.
What is the object of a tariff system? It is so to plan industry that factories come into your country instead of remaining in foreign countries. I want to go a step further. Using the tariff system and the powers of the Government I want to see if we cannot to a certain extent—I admit it cannot be done in every case—so plan that these factories, as far as possible, are put up in places where the national interest requires. That is a task which ought not to prove impossible, which ought to be attempted and which it seems to me the community has a right to be consulted about. Take a concrete case, a rather extreme case I admit, but a case which is an example of what is now going on all over the south of England. Take the erection of the great Ford works at Dagenham. What has that meant to the community? Mr. Ford decides to have a factory at Dagenham. It may be a good thing or a bad thing for the national interests, I am not discussing that, but he decides to have a factory at Dagenham, and he does not consult the Government or the community in any shape or form. That decision means that the community have to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds in building new houses and hundreds of thousands of 1115 pounds in building new roads and sewers. They have to build new schools and new churches, every sort of facility has to be provided by the community because Mr. Ford decides to set up his factory at Dagenham. I admit that it gives work, but I think the community in such a case is entitled to take counsel with Mr. Ford as to whether Dagenham is the most suitable place, taking into account all the necessary considerations, private and national, for the erection of his factory.
What has happened at Dagenham is now happening all round London in regard to much smaller factories, but the sum total of the result is, in fact, many times greater than what happened at Dagenham. The community has been called upon to expend millions and mil lions of pounds because factory owners and employers and capitalists have decided to put up their works round London. I should like to see an advisory committee appointed on the lines of the Tariff Advisory Committee, a committee of independent, impartial, business men of the same type and character and public reputation as the members of the Tariff Advisory Committee, and that every capitalist putting up a new factory should be required to satisfy this committee that he is putting it up in a locality best suited to the national interests. I should like to make erectors of new factories show cause why they should not go into the distressed areas, the Special Areas, I should like to have asked Mr. Ford why he could not have put up his factory on Tyneside where many of the facilities which have had to be provided for him around London were waiting, and where people were waiting for work.
I do not in the least agree with my Noble Friend the hon. Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass) who made such an eloquent speech this evening, that if the Government undertook this responsibility they would also have to undertake the responsibility of guaranteeing profits to the shareholders. On the contrary. At the present moment if anybody puts up a factory the State requires him to fulfil certain conditions. People are not allowed to put up factories which are insanitary, or which cause a nuisance to their near neighbours, and this would only be adding one more condition, and, to my mind, a very reasonable and proper condition, that the State should also be 1116 satisfied that the general location of the factory was in the national interest. Again it is only carrying the principle of town planning one step further. We are having the whole country town planned in little sections. We must follow a logical and consistent policy in this matter. Once you start to plan, you must plan completely. I submit that the principle which the Special Commissioner laid down in his first report is one which ought to have the support of the Government, as it has, I believe, the support of a majority of Members of the House.
If we do nothing in this matter it is easy to see what is going to happen. London is growing and growing to an extent which certainly will not be good for the welfare of the country as a whole. I wonder if hon. Members have considered the influence of the grid system on the growth of London. It is probably one of the most potent factors in the case. In the days of old factories had to go to the north where the coal and power were. Now, with the electric grid, we can bring the power wherever it is wanted. The amenities of London are much greater than the amenities of Northumberland, and a capitalist's wife would much rather live near London than near Newcastle. The effect of this power distribution will be that London will continue to grow and that, I submit, is unhealthy from a national point of view. From the strategic point of view London is the most vulnerable city in the country, and it is exceedingly unwise that all our factories should be concentrated in London. From the point of view of the health of the inhabitants and the problem of feeding and equipping, this great area cannot be allowed to grow in the unrestricted manner it is. That is one of the most important recommendations which the Special Commissioner has made, which I personally regret very much the Government have not adopted.
There is another one, even more important, and that is his proposal in regard to the practical and physical training of the adolescent youth. That is a tremendous idea, a most important suggestion, and, speaking as a hide-bound Conservative, I am not in the least afraid of it. You have to take new steps and big steps, and special steps, to deal with this problem. Of all its aspects the most tragic and the most serious is the terrible moral effect on the unemployed youth. 1117 The youth of this country is the most priceless possession of all its valuable possessions, and when we are presented with a concrete plan under which schools are to be built in which these young men are to be given a training, which is going to equip them for better service to the community, a plan which is put forward by a practical business man of the eminence of the Special Commissioner, I say that it requires more than the careful attention of the Government. It would have the enormous advantage not only in taking many thousands of young men temporarily out of industry, thereby making more room for those in middle life, but would give them the great advantage of a practical training, a healthy life, medical care, which they do not get now and which they sorely need, and also give them discipline which would be of benefit to them.
I am aware that the Government have accepted the principle of this Measure in the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1934. I think the principle of the Special Com missioner's proposal may be found in that Act, if it were being carried out, but as any hon. Member can see if he studies the second report, or if he has personal knowledge on the matter, the Act is not being carried out in that respect in many parts of the country. Again, I beseech the Government to take this aspect of the question seriously in order to show that they know that where the local authorities are not carrying out the Act in that respect, it is up to my right hon. Friend to ginger them up. That is what he is there for, and, if I may say so, there is no one who is more capable of gingering them up than is my right hon. Friend. If my right hon. Friend is really earnest and if the Government are really earnest in this respect, why cannot they carry out the recommendation in the second report of the Special Commissioners that the unemployed youths in the instructional centres should be given a guarantee of a year's employment after they leave those centres? That is not an extravagant or a very difficult proposal. The Government could surely find work for these young men in schemes of national utility within or without those areas. It is not as though their numbers were overwhelming, but they are most priceless material which is now being allowed to rot and decay. It would be well worth while the Government taking special and exceptional measures to preserve this material.
1118 Another principle which I would like to see the Government support is that of shorter hours of labour. I believe that is a direction in which we as a nation shall have to move in the, years to come. Mechanisation will drive us in that direction, and quite rightly so. Mechanical improvements are enormously to the benefit of the consumer, who gets his goods cheaper; they are to the benefit of the employers; and they must also be—and I want to make them so—more to the benefit of the wage-earners. The House will perhaps be interested in the practical experience I have recently had in this matter. A great firm with which I am connected, the firm of Boots in Nottingham, instituted a five-day week in their big factory a year ago. I am not for one moment suggesting that because a firm in that particular position was able to carry out this experiment successfully it can be immediately applied all round to all industries, for that would be an absurd suggestion; but I would like to tell the House that, although our experience is that that measure to a small extent increased the cost of production, the improvement in the health of the wage-earners was so great that it compensated many times over for any additional cost that the firm had to bear in introducing the five-day week. I would like to see the Government do what it can, not by compulsory legislation, not by trying to fit square pegs into round holes, not by fastening on to industries hard-and-fast laws which will hamper them, but by following some other method, to further the movement either for a five-day week or for fewer hours of work.
For instance, I would like to see the Government institute the five-day week in the Post Office. Here is an under taking which is making a handsome profit, which has always prided itself in the past on setting a good example—I do not say it has always done so, but it has prided itself on it—to other employers. I would like to see the Post master-General set an example to other employers in that respect, and see whether he and the Government cannot help industry to take a step forward in the direction of a shorter working week. That would improve the health of the nation, it would pass on some of the benefits of mechanisation to the wage-earners, and, incidentally, it would provide more employment.
1119 I was very glad to hear to-day that the Government are to carry out the ideas put forward by the Special Com missioners in regard to trading estates. I think hon. Members opposite are making a very great mistake when they pour scorn on that proposal. In view of the great work that has been done for their localities by trading estates which have already been started in other parts of the country, surely it would be a great mistake not to try that proposal in some of the Special Areas. All I wish to say on that score to-night is that I hope that when the Government establish these trading estates they will make them attractive, and will take a long view. I am afraid the Treasury may be tempted to insist on an immediate economic return. I venture to say that no private company, in starting a trading estate or an enterprise of that sort, would expect an immediate return. The Government ought not to expect a return from the capital expended for a number of years, but if the estates can be made attractive, and if industries can be attracted to them, the Government will obtain a very ample return in years to come and every penny of the money spent will be repaid.
I was also glad to hear that the Government are proceeding with their re search into the fuel question, but here again I think the Government are open to criticism for not having carried out that research more vigorously in the past. When one considers what a vastly important asset coal is to the nation, when one considers how our industrial life has really hinged on coal in the past, and when one considers the threat to coal in the future, from water-made electricity, from oil and from other inventions, I say the Government ought to spare no effort and to grudge no money in doing everything they can to bring the use of coal up to modern requirements by scientific development. This is one of the aspects where, I think, the Government have handled the matter in a lukewarm fashion; it has half-handled the matter and there has not been the necessary drive and punch. That which has been done by Imperial Chemical Industries is splendid work, but this re search has been going on for a number of years and the results achieved up 1120 to date have been very small. I hope that when the Minister of Labour replies to-night he will be able to assure the House that there is to be an important development in that respect, for as long as the Government sit there, with reports such as those from the Special Commissioner not fully explored and not fully utilised, so long will they excite the anxiety and indeed the anger of some of their warmest supporters.
I know the Special Commissioner has been criticised for touching on these big national aspects in his report and not confining his suggestions to the Special Areas, but I think the whole House and the community are under an obligation to him for having taken the broad view of the question and for having given us these very valuable and practical suggestions. I do not think that these matters can be dealt with by a Commissioner or by any industrial dictator. They are matters which must be handled by the Government and dealt with by legislation. If the Government will only go forward and tackle these problems bravely, if they will not be afraid of making experiments, I am sure they will have behind them the whole-hearted enthusiasm of all those who support them, and will gain credit in the country. This question has to be tackled as the Government are now, at long last, I am glad to think, tackling the re armament question. It has to be tackled thoroughly and with proper regard to its national aspect. We have not tackled it in the past with the energy which is required, but I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to do so in the future. If he does I feel sure that this House will stand by him.
§ Mr. MAGNAY
On a point of Order. I wish to ask your direction, Mr. Speaker, on a question of order or Procedure. Five Opposition Members from the North of England have been called to day and not one of us on this side, from that area. We number 14, and we had deputed three of our number to speak, if possible. I do not blame you, Sir, or your colleagues, but it seems a strange oversight that the men who do know something about what we are discussing should not be called to speak on behalf of our constituents, who must think that we are a lot of dumb dogs who never even give a bark.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member has risen to put a point of Order, but, strictly speaking, no point of Order arises. The fault lies in the old difficulty of too long speeches.
§ 9.59 p.m.
§ Mr. GEORGE HALL
We welcome the intervention of the Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer). His speech makes it difficult to under stand why he cannot see his way to go into the Lobby with us this evening on this Vote of Censure. He has completely justified the Vote of Censure. He has said that the Government are not doing all that might be done to deal with this terrible problem. We agree with him. He has also said that the problem is a national one and that the Government seem to have come to an end of their ideas of how to deal with it. That is the reason for the Motion. As regards the question of the allocation of industries, I think we may leave the Liberal Minister of Labour to deal with the Tory Noble Lord on that matter. But we agree with the Noble Lord in regard to geographical planning, the shorter working week and ninny of the suggestions which he put forward, though these do not represent the final solution of the terrible problem which confronts us. The hon. Member for Newport (Sir R. Clarry) said he was to some extent in sympathy with the Motion, but, like the Noble Lord, he cannot see his way to support it in the Division Lobby. The hon. Member comes from a district which is depressed and he must know that the general opinion among his constituents and among all those who live in the valleys of South Wales, is that the Government are very largely responsible for the terrible conditions existing in those areas.
§ Mr. HALL
I say they are responsible, and I shall endeavour, as far as possible, in the course of my remarks to prove it. I think the most disappointing speech in the Debate was that of the Lord President of the Council. An hon. Member in a maiden speech, said that only foolish men and lead men did not change their opinions. One might apply that saying to the right hon. Gentleman during the last five or six years, because we have had the same kind of statement 1122 from him all the time that he has been Prime Minister or Lord President of the Council in this National Government. The majority of hon. Members are very disappointed at the Government's handling of this problem and that disappointment is felt, not only among hon. Members opposite. It extends to sup porters of the Government in the country. A gentleman who is not unknown to the hon. Member for Newport, namely, General Tulloch, recently said:I am a Conservative of pronounced views and work hard for the National Government but I say candidly that the present Administration is not doing its duty by the distressed areas.A well-known daily newspaper in South Wales, always a supporter of the present Government stated recently:The problems of the South Wales industrial area cannot he suitably grappled with except by an organisation serving the region as a whole and giving unremitting attention to its needs and to the diversity of remedial measures to which it is necessary to resort.It goes on to say that the time has surely come when the Government must be made to recognise their responsibility in this matter. I do not know whether hon. Members have read the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) at the annual meeting of the Great Western Railway Company last week. There we had an indication, not from an hon. Member on this side but from a right hon. Gentleman who has supported the Government in and out of season, of what the situation is in the Special Areas. The problem of the Special Area is not new. Eight years ago the Transference Board was appointed to deal with it and at that time the problem was not early as acute as it has become during the last four or five years. When the Transference Board was appointed, the percentage of insured persons unemployed in the county of Glamorgan was 24 per cent.; to-day it is 35.9 per cent. In Monmouthshire it was 19.9 per cent.; to-day it is 33.3 per cent. In Durham in 1928 the unemployment percentage was 21 per cent. and to-day it is 33.3 per cent. In Northumberland it was 16.7 per cent. and to-day it is 25.1 per cent. From then until the present some recognition has been given to the problem. Those of us who were in the House when the present Chancellor of the Exchequer dealt with the question of de-rating will remember the speeches 1123 made on that occasion. One would have imagined from them that when industrial hereditaments were relieved of 75 per cent. of their rates the unemployment problem would be solved. Then we had tariffs aid still we have not only the problem of the special areas but 2,200,000 persons unemployed, after four years of tariffs.
It would be well to deal briefly with the conditions in the Special Areas, seeing that I have the honour to represent one of them in this House. Conditions in the Special Areas can be understood only by those who are living in those areas and who are in constant contact with these people who are suffering so badly. A deadly blight appears to hang over these areas, which were the foundations of our industrial life and now are devastated. Mountains of wealth have been taken from these districts. A race of proud people made that wealth possible, and these people, some of the finest and bravest men in this country, are now communities of men and women without hope. Some have been unemployed for a period of 10 years, and all their reserves of money and spirit have disappeared. I myself have seen strong men weep with the hopelessness and helplessness of the situation. Young people who have never known their father work, because there was no work for him to do, are doomed to live in idleness in conditions which become every day more and more depressed. They will continue to grow up without knowing regular work, or the satisfaction of regular or adequate meals, or the opportunity of creating a home and rearing a family in conditions that permit of full self-respect and a sense of responsibility.
It was with those conditions that the Commissioner was appointed to deal, and we say that the attitude adopted by the Government fails to deal with these conditions. Last week I had occasion to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour to the fact that of the young people attending the juvenile instructional centres in four centres in South Wales, 57 per cent. were suffering from malnutrition, all for the reason that there was no work available for their parents. I claim that that situation is not being met. It certainly was not being met in the speech to which we listened from the Lord President of 1124 the Council this afternoon. The Lord President said that coal was the basic industry in these Special Areas, and he said, "Let us see what the Government have done for the coal industry." He said that trade agreements had been responsible for giving the coal export a privileged market. I stand here to-day to deny the fact that the trade agreements entered into by this Government have given the coal export trade privileged markets.
Do hon. Members realise that the export of coal from this: country last year was lower than it has been at any time during the last 30 years, with the exception of periods of industrial dispute or during the period of the War? The Lord President of the Council referred to the trade agreement with France with regard to coal. France always has been the most important coal export market for this country. One out of every four tons of coal exported from this country before the War found its way to France, and the four near European countries—France, Germany, Italy, and Belgium—took almost one-third of the coal exported from this country. Let us examine the position as compared with 1930. In that year the coal exports from this country amounted to 54,874,000 tons; in 1935 it was 38,714,000 tons, a reduction of 16,000,000 tons. To France in 1930 we sent 12,900,000 tons of coal; in 1935 we sent 7,000,000 tons. The reduction is most marked in our export to Belgium. We sent to Belgium in 1930 3,400,000 tons; last year we sent 630,000 tons.
To those four countries alone in 1935 as compared with 1930 we have lost a market for no less than 15,000,000 tons of coal, and I ask the Minister of Labour, who was Minister of Mines, how the coal ex port trade of this country has benefited from trade agreements. The 15,000,000 tons of coal lost in exports to the four countries which I have mentioned would provide employment for 60,000 miners, in addition to the subsidiary employment on railways and docks which have been so bitterly complained about by others. The right hon. Gentleman may state that had it not been for these trade agreements, the coal export trade would not be as high as it is at the present time. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the fact that our greatest competitors in the coal export trade of this country have, without trade agreements, already re- 1125 gained their export trade, not to the 1929 level, but some to the 1928 level. Ger many last year exported 26,770,000 metric tons, where in 1930 she exported only 24,380,000 metric tons. Poland is exporting nearly the equivalent of the 1929 export, whereas Belgium has exceeded it, and in no case can it be claimed that tariffs or trade agreements have benefited the coal export trade of this country. Rather have they aggravated the situation and have made it very much more difficult, not only for the Government, but for the Commissioner as well.
The right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council suggested during his speech that we should go and ask the people in the Special Areas what they thought of the National Government. I was going to suggest that he ought to know, but as to what the Government think of the Special Areas, we might examine the position in South Wales during the course of the last General Election. In South Wales, a Special Area, the Government were ashamed to put their candidates to defend their policy. A whole block of industrial constituencies sent their Members of Parliament back to this House with unopposed returns, and only in three of the constituencies in the Special Areas in South Wales were there contests. The Government sent women to two of them, and they both lost their deposits. They sent a young Tory from London to the other, and he almost lost his deposit.
Captain ARTHUR EVANS
Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House how many Welsh National Government Members who were in the last House lost their seats at the General Election?
§ Mr. HALL
I am not so sure that the hon. and gallant Member will come back next time, not that we desire to wish him very much harm. I have no doubt that the people of Cardiff have read the speech of the right hon. Member for Hillhead who has always given support to the Government's tariff policy. What did he say about the effect of the policy of the Government on South Wales? He said that in 1929 the import and export trade of the Bristol Channel amounted to 1126 £38,000,000, and in 1935 to £21,000,000. [An HON. MEMBER: "What was it in 1931?"] The right hon. Gentleman did not give the figures for that year. He thought 1929 was good enough for him, and it is good enough for me. The hon. and gallant Member for South Cardiff (Captain Evans) and the hon. Member for Newport have been inundated with letters asking them to see that the threat which the right hon. Gentleman made at the annual meeting of the Great Western Railway Company is not carried out. He said that owing to the falling off of the export and import trade the docks in the Bristol Channel were not now remunerative, and that unless there was an in crease in dock dues one of those very important docks would have to be closed. That is what the Special Areas are to hope from the Government's policy.
South Wales is a large steel and tin plate producing area. The right hon. Gentleman the Lord President referred to Ottawa. The tinplate trade in South Wales has very little for which to thank Ottawa. In 1932 the export of tinplate from South Wales to foreign countries was nearly 300,000 tons. In 1935 it was just under 150,000 tons. The export trade to British oversea, Dominions and Colonies has increased by just over 20,000 tons. That means a total loss of ex ports of tinplate from South Wales alone of something like 130,000 tons. Here is the problem of the Special Areas. There are 40,000 fewer men employed in the coal mining industry in South Wales as compared with the time the National Government came into existence. This more than aggravates the problem with which the Commissioner has to deal. Here are the older industries to which I have referred, and nothing has been done to rehabilitate them. The Government have taken no action to bring new industries into operation. As far as I gather from the speech of the Lord President, the Government do not propose to do anything to bring any pressure upon industrialists to bring new industries into the Special Areas. I do not know what the Government expect to be done if they leave it to the good will of the Industrialists to decide in their own way. It must be remembered that in the Com missioner's report it is stated that 5,829 questionnaires were sent out to firms whose names were supplied by the Federation of British industries and 4,066 did 1127 not even have the courtesy to reply. I shall not deal more fully with that aspect of it.
I wish to join with my hon. Friends who have paid a great tribute to the courage and the work of the Commissioner for Special Areas. He has done very good work. Our complaint is that he has not done sufficient, but that is not his fault. The limitations imposed upon him by the Act which decided his appointment crippled his efforts, and after the first report, which he submitted last year, there was very little inducement for him to make similar recommendations, seeing the way that that first report was received by the Government. I well remember the Minister of Labour, in a Debate in January, suggesting how easy it was for recommendations to be made but how difficult for action to be taken; and not only that, but how much time did he spend in endeavouring to prove that certain figures given by the Commissioner were given without due consideration? Those dealt with voluntary retirement at the age of 60. I think the Commissioner has every cause of complaint at the way in which he has been treated by the Government and it needs a man of great courage, such as he has, to continue this work, which is so essential for the Special Areas, for though we regard it as heart-breaking work, it is necessary to bring to the notice of the House and the country from time to time, as he is able to do, the conditions in the Special Areas.
The Debate this afternoon has to a large extent centred about the question of transference. The Lord President of the Council said that he pinned his faith very largely to transference to solve this problem. We repeat the question: Where is there a single employment exchange area which has not got its percentage of unemployed? In London there are 230,000 unemployed men. One hon. Member referred to the transfer en bloc of hundreds of families into certain centres. Those men will transfer them selves if there is security of employment for them. Prosperous Birmingham has nearly 30,000 unemployed, and the men on the spot always have preference when there is a job of work going. I was pleased to hear the Lord President of the Council say they were going to make 1128 transfer easy. Hon. Members on this side of the House representing Special Areas could bring some horrible cases of the way in which men who have been transferred from the Special Areas into other parts of the country have been treated. There is not the provision for the receiving of these young people, and there certainly is no guarantee of employment after they have found occupation for a very short period. Numbers of them have to make their way back to the Special Areas as best they can. Some thing much more drastic even than is contained in the Commissioners' report will have to be done to deal with this terrible problem.
Hon. and right hon. Members opposite agree that the problem of the Special Areas and the unemployment problem generally is the most urgent national problem. It can only be solved by a great national effort. Men are not out of work because of plague, famine, drought or fire, but because they cannot be employed at a profit. The Commissioner has made his reports. He has again brought the facts to our notice—a tragic story. His recommendations do not go as far as we would like them to go, but it is evident that he has gone too far for the Government. The Commissioner pleads for action. What is the reply of the Government? Are we to lead the great effort which should be made to deal courageously with this great and urgent problem? Shall we break through this steel bar of orthodox finance Shall we consider more the men than the question of money? While Governments have changed, the advisers of the Governments are still there, and are to a very large degree responsible for advising the Governments in this important matter.
I fear there is no hope, as far as the Government are concerned. Members of the Government are resigned to the situation. The Chancellor of the Ex chequer said quite recently that we could not look forward with any confidence to a reduction in unemployment to comparatively small figures within the next 10 years.
§ Mr. HALL
It was not four years ago. Then again, we had the report of the Statutory Committee last week which indicated that, as a result of their economic 1129 committee which had been considering the situation, they could see no prospect of a reduction in the percentage of un employed to any extent below what it is at present. The Government go floundering on. I beg the Government to do something with this problem. Do not drive the people in the Special Areas lower into the depth of despair than they are at present. They have been disappointed. They did look for some succour when the Commissioners were appointed, and they are even more disappointed than they were then. I ask the Government—I beg of them, plead with them—to do something more than was promised in the speech given by the Lord President of the. Council. I support without any hesitation the Vote of Censure upon the Government for their in activity in this very important matter.
§ 10.27 p.m.
§ The MINISTER of LABOUR (Mr. Ernest Brown)
The whole House has listened, as it always does, with the greatest sympathy to the hon. Gentle man. No member on the Government side has to complain of the earnest attempt made by any Member of the House on any side to provoke thought and feeling about this grave matter. Certainly, no Minister of Labour has for a single day been unaware of the feeling about such a situation as is to be found in the areas which are now called Special Areas. Matthew Arnold said that a serious view of life is the first mark of a true poet. The Minister of Labour in any Government, whoever he has been, in the last 10 years, has never lacked that qualification, even if he has no other qualification to be a poet, for the Minister of Labour is bound by virtue of his office to take a serious view of this problem. The Minister of Labour in the National Government has taken a serious view of it and so have the Government, as the course of this Debate shows.
I have listened to scores and scores of Debates on what used to be called the depressed areas, and several about the Special Areas, and I have always analysed the speeches into three types. There were the political, those which had a social meaning and those that attempted to deal with the economic and industrial conditions and problems. Having sat through nearly all this Debate, I can fairly say that there have been 1130 fewer purely political speeches than in any other Debate that I have ever heard. It is interesting to notice that the purely political notes were almost entirely confined to the first speech and the last. I do not want to say that the hon. Gentle man unduly stressed the political note, although, as I think I shall show before I have done, he was not quite fair in his rhetorical references to the Government and to what they have been doing and are doing with regard to these areas. Nor do I think he was quite fair in his presentation of what, after all, is the central problem, the problem referred to by the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar) as insurmountable. I noted that word, and shall remember in future that the hon. Member himself referred to the problem of certain coal-mining valleys as insurmountable. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's references to the coal trade and the policy of the Government with regard to it were as fair as is usually his way when he is arguing a case concerning economic and industrial matters.
Let me answer one or two specific questions which have been put to me in the course of the Debate, before attempting to deal with the points which have been made by hon. Members and finally summing up, as far as I can, the whole picture, which is a very different picture from that with which we had to deal in July, 1935. We have been asked about the £3,000,000. As the House will know, the original Vote was for a sum of £2,000,000, and the House is now to be asked, in the main Estimate for the Treasury, to add another £3,000,000, making a total of £5,000,000 to be avail able for work in the Special Areas. The hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. F. Anderson) asked about iron ore. I think that his approach to the problem has not been quite the one which was usual from Cumberland. I had some personal dealings with this matter, and when, as Secretary for Mines, I saw deputations from Cumberland, the argument was not the one which he put forward to-day. The complaint was about foreign imports—
§ Mr. BROWN
I know that the hon. Member was not here then, but he will understand before I have finished that 1131 there is not merely a Government problem, but a Cumberland problem, and there is great difference of opinion in Cumberland as to what can be done and how it ought to be done. The suggestion which the Cumberland representatives made, and with which the Government were asked to deal, was that we should make it compulsory that a certain proportion of Cumberland ore should be used in the steel works on the East Coast of England. We examined that suggestion, and found that to carry it out would entail a very heavy increase in the cost of steel per ton, amounting, I think—I am speaking from memory and without verification—to about 5s. a ton.
The hon. Member referred to the royalties. We called a conference of all concerned, and it was found possible to do two things—to attempt to bridge the gap between the cost in Cumberland and the addition to the cost of the steel that would be involved, by asking the royalty owners to agree to lower the amount of their royalties voluntarily; and to attempt to make arrangements with the railway companies for a reduction of rail way rates. I must say to the House, since the hon. Hember mentioned the question of royalties, that, if he inquires in Cumberland, he will find that the royalty owners met all concerned in a very handsome spirit, in order to try to solve the problem in that way. It is only fair to say that to the House. More than that, arrangements were being made between the iron and steel industry and the railway companies about railway rates. When I left the problem the situation was that the difficulty was not here in London—the difficulty was that there was a difference of opinion in the industry in Cumberland. I will call the attention of my hon. and gallant Friend the Secretary for Mines to the suggestion which the hon. Member has made, and ask him to get in touch with the hon. Member and see whether any further developments have taken place since the ones to which I refer.
The hon. Member for Springburn (Mr. Hardie) had something to say about Scotland and, although I am not personally responsible for the work of the Scottish Commissioner, I will say a word or two about it. First of all he dealt with the removal of some works from Rutherglen, from Wishaw and from 1132 Coatbridge to Corby and he asked whether the Commissioner had anything to do with it. This transfer was determined prior to the appointment of the Commissioner and the determining factor was the availability of suitable mineral deposits, a physical feature of undeniable importance. Such moves from Scotland are relatively few. The number of persons in employment has risen in Scotland in the last four years by approximately 74,000. With regard to the hon. Member's remarks about the general report of the Commissioner, the report is a powerful proof of the energetic steps that he has been taking. Schemes so far approved for the special areas in Scotland amount to a total estimated expenditure of £1,724,191. Towards this expenditure the Commissioner has undertaken to contribute from the Special Areas Fund a sum of £851,402. As the report shows, these sums cover industrial development, public works, land development and social services. Sir Arthur Rose is, in addition, pursuing plans for an industrial training estate on modern lines in the heart of the area for which he is responsible.
The Commissioner has also proposed the creation of an organisation to pro mote the economic development of Scotland. This proposal is receiving the sympathetic consideration of the Secretary of State, and he hopes to be able to make an early statement on the subject, which will be received with interest throughout Scotland. Reference has been made to the placing of contracts. During 1935 the Service Departments placed con tracts in Scotland to the value of more than £6,000,000, a very large proportion of which inured to the direct benefit of the Special Areas. In this and other ways the general policy of the Government is having a cumulative effect on the well-being of the Special Areas in Scotland, and I am to be able to tell the House that the figures of unemployment fell from 98,957 at the beginning of 1935 to 82,589 at the end of the year. The pessimistic rhetoric of the hon. Member about the work of the Special Commissioner is not justified either by the facts or the figures.
The speech of the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton), who opened the Debate, was very interesting, because I noticed a difference of 1133 atmosphere. There is a difference of atmosphere in the actual terms of the Motion as compared with that of July last. There is no repetition of the words "utter futility" about the policy of the Government. I was rather surprised at the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. K. Griffith). He said he could find nothing in the Motion that ought not to have his support. I think the drafts men of the Opposition will be very pleased. But the hon. Member is always fair. He said at the close of his speech, having made certain charges against the Government, that he was bound to admit that a good deal of very fine work had been done. It ought to have convinced him that it is better to say to the Government that they were doing well, and should go on and do better, than to join in censuring them by being caught by a Motion of this kind. The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland was very interesting. He gave a most admirable account of the state of the areas, and there is no Member of the House who will yield to the hon. Member in appreciating the state of the areas, and the tragedy involved, in the matter of figures on the unemployment register composed, as we all know, of the lives of men, women and children and their happiness. But when he was challenged as to what policy he himself had to suggest, I was very interested because he produced a pamphlet. I do not know how much it cost.
§ Mr. BROWN
I will spend is. 6d. on it, although I doubt whether it is worth it. I will add it to my collection. I have a wonderful collection of books, from Socialist and semi-Socialist circles, and what I notice about them is that every two years the suggested policy changes. The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Macmillan) also writes books.
§ Mr. BROWN
I will deal with that too. There have been not only Yellow Books, but many other coloured books. I will say to the hon. Member for Stockton, since he interrupts, that he has now taken the place of those who used to produce yellow books, brown books and green books, and, let me tell him, I noticed one change between those books and his 1134 books. A respected and very brilliant Member of this House, the late Mr. Charles Masterman, used to say, whenever we came to a really difficult and knotty problem, that there was only one thing to do—appoint a Committee. He said, on one occasion, that he found that, in making an analysis of a full six months' work, that we had aranged for at least a dozen Committees, and that it seemed to him that when we went into knotty problems we proliferated Committee'. The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees does not talk about Committees, he specialises in boards, and then more boards.
§ Mr. MACMILLAN
The right hon. Gentleman appoints Commissioners, and then does not carry out their recommendations.
§ Mr. BROWN
The hon. Gentleman is not quite so rational in that remark as he is when he sits down quietly and studies proposals. I feel I want to say what was said by a very brilliant essayist the other day about the 18th century philosophers, that they lived in the age of reason, but this philosopher pointed out that it ought to be said rather, that they lived in the age of credulity for the reason that while they professed to apply reason to problems, they had an un limited faith in the perfectibility of human nature, so that the topics they wrote about were not based on firm ground. With all respect to the hon. Member, when he says very foolish things about the Government and about the Minister of Labour, I would say that, although I buy his books and read his books and attempt to profit by them, I think that he has an unlimited faith in the possibilities of what boards can do to solve the great problems with which we are confronted. The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland produced from his pamphlet, written by Mr. Sharp, two ideas, and two only. One was about rating and the other about the allocation of industry. I was surprised that he should have thought that those two ideas are a sufficient policy for the Special Areas.
§ Mr. BROWN
The hon. Member was asked for a policy and that was what he produced. The fact is, as he knows, that the fringes of this problem are now yield- 1135 ing to treatment, not merely by the policy of the Government, through the Special Commissioners, but by the activities around the shipbuilding centres and by the wonderful improvement in the iron and steel industry. There remains the problem to which the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) and others have referred, namely, the problem of the coal industry. There has been no policy advocated from the other side of the House to-day for the rehabilitation of the coal industry. It has been most marked that the one policy which hon. Members opposite used to claim as being the policy for the rehabilitation of the coal industry has not been advocated to-day, namely, the nationalisation of the industry. It is remarkable that in regard to that industry there has been no mention in the whole Debate, by those who have been pressing the Government through the past 18 months, of the steps that the Government are going to take in regard to that problem. The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees, if he had spoken, would have referred to this matter, because in the books about the coal industry which he and his friends have published they have said this:We must make this industry efficient, and we must do it by the method of concentration, by unifying mineral royalties and by great schemes for central selling.There has been no mention in the Debate of the fact that the Government have made it plain to the House that they in tend to give the Reorganisation Commission powers, that they intend to unify mining royalties and that they intend to establish a comprehensive system of central selling in the coal industry.
§ Mr. BROWN
It has been definitely said by hon. Members opposite that there have been no steps towards a solution from this side. Let it not be over looked that the moment you start to concentrate on an industry of this kind the first effect will not be easy for the coal industry. At the moment we are governed by an Act which was passed by the party opposite when they were in power. [An HON. MEMBER: "We have never been in power!"] Call it what you will. People who sit on this side are always in power, if they know how to use it, and we do know how to use it. The 1136 right hon. Member for Hillsborough who interrupts, has come back to the House in a very belligerent mood, but we for give him, because he has been absent for five years. I have no doubt that a few years more in the House will restore him to his own genial self again and that he will not be as belligerent as he is now.
Let me point this out to the House about the coal industry, for this is the crux of the economic problem in the Special Areas. The Act of 1930 was in two parts. Part I was an attempt to spread the work over the largest number of units, not necessarily the largest number of men. When the hon. Member for Aberdare talks about mechanisation, I do not think he has fully realised the effect that the spreading of the work over the largest number of pits has on the number of men—fewer men, more shifts per week, in more pits. Side by side with that policy was the other policy of centralisation. The House will have to face the fact that, having asked for centralisation, having desired an efficient industry, the first result is bound to he not that of increasing employment in the mining areas but rather the reverse. I have ventured to say that because I think it wanted saying in this Debate.
I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Newport (Sir R. Clarry) has overlooked the fact, when he puts in his plea in terms of the export trade for an export bounty, whether such a bounty would do for the export trade of South Wales, or anywhere else, what hon. Members ask. All over the world, price in the bulk of the market is the determining factor. In pre-War days if you had the coal at the right price you could get the market. But that is not so now. The hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) when he was Secretary for Mines saw the first foreign quota put on against our coal in July, 1931. When he was tackled by the hon. Member for Spenny moor (Mr. Batey) about why he allowed this, he said, rightly, that that was decided by the French Government because of their economic internal necessities. When we look at the world coal trade in 1936 we see that the great bulk of the export trade in coal is tied up owing to the internal policy of a number of Governments, some of them not democratic in character, and that, the fragment that remains free from restriction and can be 1137 got if the price is right—that is the lowest price—is a very small segment of the total trade.
§ Mr. G. HALL
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that to enable the German export coal trade to reach the figure at which it is they have to sub sidise it to the extent of 6s. 6d. a ton?
§ Mr. BROWN
That may be so, but the hon. Member also knows, when he quotes the German figures, that the figures do not reveal the whole position. The great increase in German exports and the great decrease in South Wales exports have come about through the Italian trade. The hon. Member knows as well as I do that long before the operation of sanctions our export trade to Italy was becoming a trickle, because Italy was not in a. position to make the financial arrangements to pay for the coal. Germany, through her own internal arrangements and her relations with Italy, was able to make arrangements which were not possible to us or any other nation in Europe. When we look at the mining industry, the Goverment have done a great deal. There is not a coalowner in the East of Scotland or on the North-East Coast of England who will not pay a tribute to the former Secretary for Overseas Trade (Lieut.-Colonel Colville) for the work he did regarding the Scandinavian market. Before that policy was entered into the coalowners and those concerned were asked whether, if this had an adverse effect, they would still go on with the trade agreement. The answer was "Yes, because we can more easily handle the other situation than we can that in the Baltic."
As to the financing of small traders, there is a substantial divergence of opinion as to whether a provision for additional financial facilities for small traders in Special Areas would really be used to any appreciable extent in view of the facilities already existing. The Government, however, are willing to give the suggestion a trial and are engaged in the study of detailed proposals. As in many of these matters legislation would, it is thought, be necessary, and if this proves to be so early progress will be made in order to secure the necessary power. With regard to the location of industry, the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) 1138 did not quite accurately state the position as regards Dagenham. The London County Council had taken great masses of people there from the East of London long before a factory was placed there. I have taken a personal interest in the social welfare of Dagenham for many years, and I know that before a factory was put there many thousands of people had been moved from the East End of London, who had no possibility of any work where they were and who found work by being moved to outer London.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I did not say that the Special Commissioner made that suggestion; it was the suggestion I made myself for consideration. I said that the Special Commissioner raised the question of location.
§ Mr. BROWN
The right hon. Member's question was so phrased that it left the impression on my mind that the Special Commissioner recommended the provision of a central body. There is nothing to prevent an industry going to a particular location and the Government are doing all they can to induce industries to go to the Special Areas and are willing to pro vide facilities. In regard to the question of the hon. Member for Abertillery about nursing mothers—
§ Miss WILKINSON
Really, we are here discussing Special Areas and the right hon. Gentleman proposes to deal with details like this. It is an insult to the House. The right hon. Gentleman has said nothing yet.
§ Mr. BROWN
The interjection of the hon. Member will not prevent me answering the courteous question put by the hon. Member as to what was being done for expectant mothers. The Commissioner has offered a sum of money to be used in supplying special food to expectant mothers in certain selected districts in Special Areas. I hope this will prove to be a great success and will for ward the cause the hon. Member has at heart. We have been asked what the 1139 Government are doing. Let me tell the House in a few sentences. First of all, take the Special Commissioner's work. It is interesting to notice that all the work of the Special Commissioner is considered by some hon. Members as though it was not part of Government policy, although the Special Commissioner was appointed by the Government in pursuance of a definite policy. In the appendix to his report hon. Members will find that in regard to Tyneside the Government have sanctioned 68 schemes of public work, for South Wales 65 schemes, for West Cumberland 18 schemes, and, with regard to the contracts made under agreement with the London Passenger Trans port Board and the railways under the recent Acts, contracts are to be given, all other things being equal, to firms in the Special Areas. [An HON. MEMBER: "Nonsense !"] The hon. Member for Middlesbrough does not think it is non sense, for he recently headed a deputation which said that this particular preference is being used to the detriment of other areas, and has provided work for the Special Areas which ought to have gone to Middlesbrough. It is also true that the Government give preference in
§ placing their contracts, all other things being equal, to the Depressed Areas. [Laughter.] Hon. Members who laugh show that they have not applied their minds to the problem—
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Captain Margesson)
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
Question put accordingly,
That this House takes note of the reports of the Commissioners for the Special Areas and expresses As profound regret at the inability of His Majesty's Government to produce any effective policy for dealing with the fundamental causes which leave rendered whole areas derelict or for bringing any substantial measure of relief to the victims of these economic circumstances.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 154; Noes, 357.1143
|Division No. 80.]||AYES.||[11.6 p.m.|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Kirby, B. V.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Lathan, G.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Foot, D. M.||Lawson, J. J.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Frankel, D.||Leach, W.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Gallacher, W.||Lee, F.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Gardner, B. W.||Leonard, W.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Garro-Jones, G. M.||Leslie, J R.|
|Banfield, J. W.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Logan, D. G.|
|Barnes, A. J.||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Lunn, W.|
|Barr, J.||Gibbins, J.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)|
|Batey, J.||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||McEntee V. La T.|
|Bellenger, F.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||McGhee, H. G.|
|Benson, G.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||MacLaren, A.|
|Bevan, A.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Maclean, N.|
|Broad, F. A.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Bromfield, W.||Groves, T. E.||MacNeill, Weir. L.|
|Brooke, W.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Mainwaring. W. H.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Mander, G. le M.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Hardie, G. D.||Marklew E.|
|Buchanan, G.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Marshall. F.|
|Burke, W. A.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Maxton, J.|
|Cape, T.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Messer, F.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Milner, Major J.|
|Chater, D.||Hicks, E. G.||Montague, F.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Holdsworth, H.||Morrison Rt. Hon. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.)|
|Compton, J.||Holland, A.||Morrison. R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Cove, W. G.||Hollins, A.||Mutt, G|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Hopkin, D.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Daggar, G.||Jagger, J.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Dalton, H.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Parker, H. J. H.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||John, W.||Potts, J.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Price, M. P.|
|Day, H.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Pritt, D N.|
|Dobble, W.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Quibell, J. D.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)|
|Ed[...], J. C.||Kelly, W. T.||Riley, B.|
|Ritson, J.||Smith, E. (Stoke)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)||Watson, W. McL,|
|Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)||Smith, T. (Normanton)||Welsh, J. C,|
|Rothschild, J. A. de||Sorensen, R. W.||White, H. Graham|
|Rowson, G.||Stephen, C.||Whiteley, W.|
|Salter, Dr. A.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Seely, Sir H. M.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Sexton, T. M.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Shinwell, E.||Thorne, W.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Short, A.||Thurtle, E.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Silverman, S. S.||Tinker, J..J.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Simpson, F. B.||Viant, S. P.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)||Walkden, A. G.|
|Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)||Walker, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Sir Charles Edwards and Mr. Paling.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Clarry, Sir R. G.||Fyfe, D. P. M.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Ganzoni, Sir J.|
|Albery, I. J.||Cobb, Sir C. S.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.|
|Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W.||Colfox, Major W. P.||Gledhill, G.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir G. P.||Glucksteln, L. H.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Colman, N. C. D.||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J.||Goldie, N. B.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Goodman, Col. A. W.|
|Apsley, Lord||Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff(W'st'r S.G'gs)||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)|
|Assheton, R.||Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)|
|Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Courthope, Col. Sir G. L.||Gridley, Sir A. B.|
|Astor, Visc'tess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Craddock, Sir R. H.||Grigg, Sir E. W. M.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Cranborne, Viscount||Grimston, R. V.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Craven-Ellis, W.||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Critchley, A.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hun. F. E. (Drake)|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col, J.||Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Crooke, J. S.||Guest, Maj. Hon. O.(C'mb'rw'll, N. W.)|
|Balniel, Lord||Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Guinness, T. L. E. B.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Gunston, Capt. D. W.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Cross, R. H.||Guy, J. C. M.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Crossley, A. C.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Crowder, J. F. E.||Hamilton, Sir G. C.|
|Belt, Sir A. L.||Cruddas, Col. B.||Hanbury, Sir C.|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir E. N.||Culverwell, C. T.||Hannah, I. C.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Harbord, A.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovll)||Harvey, G.|
|Blaker, Sir R.||Davison, Sir W. H.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Dawson, Sir P.||Heligers, Captain F. F. A.|
|Borodale, Viscount||De Chair, S. S.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.|
|Bossom, A. C.||De la Bèere, R.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-|
|Boulton, W. W.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hepworth, J.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Denville, Alfred||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A, F.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W.||Dodd, J. S.||Holmes, J. S.|
|Bracken, B.||Donner, P. W.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Hore-Bellsha, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Dower, Capt. A. V. G.||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Drewe, C.||Howitt, Dr. A. B.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Hulbert, N. J.|
|Bull, D. B.||Dugdale, Major T. L||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Duggan, H. J.||Hunter, T.|
|Burghley, Lord||Duncan, J. A. L.||Hurd, Sir P. A.|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Dunglass, Lord||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Dunne, P. R. R.||James, Wing-Commander A. W.|
|Butler, R. A.||Eales, J. F.||Jarvis, Sir J. J.|
|Butt, Sir A.||Eastwood, J. F.||Joel, D. J. B.|
|Caine, G. R. Hall-||Eckersley, P. T.||Jones, L. (Swansea, W.)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Edge, Sir W.||Keeling, E. H.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)|
|Cary, R. A.||Ellis, Sir G.||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Elliston, G. S.||Kimball, L.|
|Cautley, Sir H. S.||Elmley, Viscount||Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Emery, J. F.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Latham, Sir P.|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Hugh||Entwistle, C. F.||Leckie, J. A.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br.W.)||Errington, E.||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)||Lees-Jones, J.|
|Channon, H.||Everard, W. L.||Leigh, Sir J.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Findlay, Sir E.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.|
|Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Fleming, E. L.||Levy, T.|
|Chorlton, A. E. L.||Fraser, Capt. Sir I.||Lewis, O.|
|Christle, J. A.||Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Liddall, W. S.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Furness, S. N.||Lindsay, K, M.|
|Little, Sir E. Graham-||Porritt, R. W.||Spender-Clay, Lt.-Cl. Rt. Hn. H. H.|
|Liewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Power, Sir J. C.||Spens, W. P.|
|Lloyd, G. W.||Pownall, Sir A. Assheton||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Locker Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Procter, Major H. A.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|Loder, Captain Hon. J. de V.||Purbrick, R.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Loftus, P. C.||Radford, E. A.||Stewart, William J. (Belfast, S.)|
|Lyons, A. M.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Storey, S.|
|Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||Stourton, Hon. J. J.|
|MacAndrew, Lt.-Col. Sir C. G.||Ramsbotham, H.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Ramsden. Sir E.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.)||Rankin, R.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|McEwen, Capt. H. J. F.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|McKie, J. H.||Rayner, Major R. H.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Maclay, Hon. J. P||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Maitland, A.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Taylor, C S. (Eastbourne)|
|Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Remer, J. R.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Manningham Buller, Sir M.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)||Thomson Sir J. D. W.|
|Maxwell, S. A.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'derry)||Touche, G. C.|
|Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Train, Sir J.|
|Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Rowlands, G.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Runclman. Rt. Hon. W.||Lieut.-Com. R. L.|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)||Turton, R. H.|
|Mitcheson, Sir G. G.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.||Salmon, Sir I.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Moreing, A. C.||Salt, E. W.||Wallace. Captain Euan|
|Morgan, R. H.||Samuel, Sir A. M. (Farnham)||Ward, Lieut Col. Sir A. L. (Hu11)|
|Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)||Ward, Irene (Wallsend)|
|Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.||Sandys, E. D.||Wardlaw Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Savery, Servington||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Munro, P. M.||Scott, Lord William||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Nail, Sir J.||Selley, H. R.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Shakespeare, G. H.||Wells, S. R.|
|O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)||Wickham Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)||Williams, H G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Palmer, G. E. H.||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Patrick, C. M.||Simmonds, O. E.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Peake, O.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Peat, C. U.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.||Wise, A. R.|
|Penny, Sir G.||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Perkins, W. R. D.||Smithers, Sir W.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Peters. Dr. S. J.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)||Wragg, H,|
|Petherick, M.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, E.)|
|Pilkington, R.||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.||Captain Margesson and Sir James|
Question, "That The Question be now put," put, and agreed to.