HC Deb 11 March 1936 vol 309 cc2215-78

7.39 p.m.


I beg to move, That, in view of the failure of the capitalist system to provide the necessary standard of life for vast numbers of the population or adequately to utilise and organise natural resources and productive power, and believing that the cause of this failure lies in the private ownership and control of the means a production and distribution, this House declares that legislative effort should be directed to the gradual supersession of the capitalist system by an industrial and social order based on the public ownership and democratic control of the instruments of production and distribution. Until a clay or two ago I did not know that I should find myself at this Box to-night speaking upon this subject. Hon. Members will have noticed from the Order Paper that my hon. Friend the Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) was to have spoken on a Motion in his name dealing with Armament Profits, but unfortunately, owing to the very serious illness of a member of his fatuity, it is not possible for him to he here to-night. I can assure the House that he felt keenly about his subject, and if it had been possible he would have been present to move his Motion. If not so many years ago people had been told that the division in polities to-day would have been one between Capitalism and Socialism, they would hardly have believed it. At that time Capitalism seemed to be on a very firm basis. Hardly anybody ever dared to question it, and it looked as if it might go on almost for ever. But to-day a very different state of things has arisen. In this House, for generation upon generation, Liberals and Tories have had no division on this question of Capitalism, and there are no divisions between them to-day. Any divisions have been more superficial than real, and they have certainly not been upon the economic state of society as it exists to-day. Since that time there has grown up in this country a Labour movement which is now the second largest party in the State. A new cleavage has arisen. The Labour movement believes that the capitalist system must inevitably go if the ills to which society is prone to-day and from which our people suffer are ever to be remedied. We do not think that these evils can be remedied within the present system. They are fundamental, and before they can be got rid of so that our people may have a decent standard of life and a chance to enjoy the products of their labours, the capitalist system must be superseded by a system of society known as Socialism.

In the last 150 years the human race has gained such a control over productive forces that, if these were properly utilised, we could produce an all round abundance for everybody. I think that everybody accepts that fact to-day. We are often told that we are suffering from over-production. Thousands of people believe it, but we Socialists do not believe it. We prefer to say that the trouble is one rather of under-consumption, and that while there may appear to be a surplus here and there, there is really no surplus. If the wants of the people in this and every other country were supplied, instead of there being over-production, there would be thousands of millions of pounds more of goods required than exist at the present time. There would be a tremendous shortage. We are told that there is over-production, and when one studies appearances it looks like it. We read of an abundance of fish being dumped back again into the sea because it could not find a market, or being sold for manure at less than £1 a ton, of wheat being grown in such huge quantities that it is used as fuel for locomotive engines, and for the purpose of feeding pigs, and of 19,000,000 acres of cotton in the United States being ploughed up. We are told that since 1933, when the restriction on the production of coffee began to take effect, no fewer than 36,000,000 bags of coffee have been destroyed. We have been informed in our own papers that just outside Liverpool thousands of cases of oranges have been clumped into the sea because a market could not be found for them, and that on the Clyde milk has been poured into the river. We have been told that in America 2,000,000 pigs and about 6,000,000 head of dairy cattle have been slaughtered and deliberately destroyed. We are told that there is such a glut of various materials that we have to put schemes of restriction into practice. We have been discussing for years restrictions upon rubber, tin, copper, tea, and a host of other commodities. We have had the great and mighty efforts of the Minister of Agriculture to place restrictions on things coming into this country, on all kinds of foodstuffs, which the ordinary people consume. We can read of the immense strides which have been made in productive capacity as compared with a few years ago. In the years immediately after the War immense strides were made in the production of all commodities which people want to consume. Let me give a few quotations: Take the brickmaking worker. Yesterday, with simple tools, one man, in an eight-hour day produced 450 bricks. Inventions were busy again. The modern brickmaking machine was evolved and the 450 bricks grew to 320,000 for a day's output. In 1879, 41,695 men produced 3,070,875 tons of pig-iron in the United States. In 1929 24,960 men produced 42,613,983 tons; in the matter of loading two men displace a former 26. The glass worker, as an individual working in a team to-day, and aided by a wonderful machine co-operatively fashioned, can produce fifty-four bottles to every single one of yesterday's production. The girl bank clerk with the Automatic reckoners deals with 60,000 ledger entries in an hour, and displaces 60 other clerks. Three employees with a machine can produce 700,000 cigarettes in a day: they displace 697 men. Twenty-four men daily carbonise 400 tons of coal, producing 7,000,000 cubic feet of gas instead of 44 men producing 4,000,000 cubic feet. I could go on. We have a world full of possibilities in the production of commodities of everything that mankind wants, and yet in the midst of all this we are faced with widespread poverty in nearly every country in the world, and in this country in particular because we are more directly concerned with it. The productive capacity of the world is gaining to such an extent that if there were no barriers, no restrictions in the way, it is sufficient to provide every man and woman in the world with a much higher standard of life than we have yet dreamed of. Yet in the face of this condition we have poverty existing which is almost appalling in this the richest, or at least the second richest, country in the world. It is something at which to marvel. It is no uncommon thing to read in our newspapers such a case as this: A poignant tragedy of the wife of an unemployed man, who starved herself to provide food for her children and then took her own life was revealed at a St. Pancras inquest yesterday. … Dr. W. J. O'Donovan, who made a post-mortem examination said that Mrs. H—was definitely in the first stage of starvation. I have other cases here. You can find them in all newspapers, and for every one which appears in the Press there must be thousands which do not appear. It may be said that these are exceptions, but whether they are exceptions or not such cases ought not to be possible in present day circumstances in England in 1936. Indeed, it ought to be a sheer physical impossibility for anyone to starve to death or suffer from malnutrition. But it is the capitalist system which, in spite of all this seeming abundance, allows men and women to starve to death in the year of Christian civilisation 1936. We have had a lot of discussion on what is called malnutrition, and one famous scientist Sir John Orr has made a statement upon it. I think we are threatened also with a book on it giving us a lot more information. But he says that practically 20 per cent. of our population have not sufficient food. That means that with 45,000,000 of population, 9,000,000 of them are suffering from malnutrition, from shortage of food, and this in a world of abundance and in a day when we are dumping fish into the sea or making manure of it, destroying coffee and cotton and lots of other commodities.

A year or two ago a committee was set up to advise the Cabinet or to make an inquiry into this question of malnutrition. It included prominent scientists in this country. It made a report and submitted it to the Cabinet. We have asked for the report to be published, but have never got it. We are told, and I believe there is some truth in it, that the report is of such a damning character, that malnutrition exists to such an extent, that the Cabinet and the Government are afraid to publish it. However, we are gradually getting at the truth in other ways. One of the most ironical things I have ever heard in this House was during a discussion which took place on the question of malnutrition, when the Ministry of Health, in the face of the existence of this malnutrition and despite the possibility of getting rid of it, made the suggestion that only so many calories and proteins were necessary to maintain life. It appeared to me that the Ministry of Health was concerned not with distributing the abundance which exists to those people who are starving but was actually busying itself with calculating how little they could give them, how little a man required in order to live if he was fed scientifically. That appears to be the attitude of the Minister. Working-class families are not given to considering this question from a scientific point of view. They like the best quality of food and plenty of it, and then the calories and proteins can take care of themselves.

On the question of malnutrition and semi-starvation and its effect on the people, it has been found that the average height of English public schoolboys of 11 years of age was 151.1 centimetres, and of the same number of boys in the Glasgow elementary school 138.5 centimetres. In other words, public schoolboys, who are well fed and well nourished, had 10 per cent. more height than schoolboys of a similar age in the poorest schools of the country. That is another aspect of the question of malnutrition under this great beneficent capitalist system, which can produce the necessaries of life at such a rate that we do not know how to get rid of them. The very machinery itself is clogged with the abundance of the commodities it produces and yet children are starving and are unable to build up a physique which is necessary for them because we have not found the way, under this present system, to give them even the bare necessities of life. A year or two ago the medical officer of health for the City of Newcastle presented a report in which he set out the results of an inquiry into the physical health of children between one year and five years of age. Of a number of children examined he found that 36 per cent. were unhealthy physically unfit. What an indictment of the system of society under which we live to-day. In this area more than one out of every three children was found to be unhealthy or physically unfit. He also says that this is preventable because when he examined children from a richer area the same amount of ill-health and physical unfitness did not exist. In his opinion it was clearly a case of malnutrition, and was clearly preventable.

Then there is the question of wages. The wages of millions of our people today are barely sufficient to keep body and soul together. If we go back 50 years and realise the amazing progress that has been made in productive capacity and then consider the relatively small amount of increase in the wages of the workers one is amazed. We had a dispute in the coalfields shortly before Christmas. For eight or nine months we were busy telling the people of the poverty which existed among the miners, one of the hardest jobs and one of the most dangerous jobs in industry. Men were earning less than 45s. per week; and the people of this country were so sympathetic towards the miners that in a number of cases they agreed to pay more than the contract price for coal because they were so ashamed and so shocked at the low wages paid. What capitalism could not or would not do for the miners was left to the generosity of the British public to do. But there are thousands now who are receiving little or no addition to these miserable and shockingly low wages. In Durham and in South Wales there is a very small addition. In a number of districts the wages have been so low for years that they have had to put into operation what is called a subsistence wage of 6d. per day, because it was admitted that the wages which certain people were receiving were so low that they could not keep up the physical health necessary for their work unless it was increased by this 6d. per day subsistence allowance. And this is in capitalist England, the second richest country on the face of the earth, and under a system of society of which hon. Members opposite boast.

The same thing applies to agriculture. The first industry of importance in any country is the growing of food. We have had Debates galore on the subject. Farmers and landowners are being paid millions of pounds in subsidy out of public funds, but, in spite of that, the agricultural labourer remains at about 31s. per week. Everyone should be heartily ashamed of such a state of things under the capitalist system. There is a Bill now before a Committee, the Unemployment Insurance (Agriculture) Bill, under which they get 14s. for a man over 21 years of age and 7s. for his wife. Under the Unemployment Insurance Act the figures are 17s. and 9s. respectively. It would appear that 14s. per week for a man and 7s. for his wife is sufficient in the case of agricultural labourers. In other words, the agricultural labourer gets a shockingly low wage to start with and then is to be penalised in his unemployment allowance because of this low wage. That is in capitalist England. That is the utmost that capitalism can do for him. The child of the agricultural labourer was to have been allowed less than the child of any other unemployed man. He was to have had only half a crown, compared with 3s. for any other child. The amount has been raised. The Government have been generous enough to increase the amount by 6d., to 3s. What have hon. Members opposite to say about a state of society which imposes such conditions as these in 1936? The cotton industry is in a somewhat similar condition. I was reading the other day in the "Daily Herald" about the wages of weavers. It takes the wages of a man, his wife and his children to keep the house going in the cotton districts. It is the same in the shipping industry. Only within the last week or two have the wage cuts of 1931 been partially restored to those engaged in shipping, in spite of the millions that have been given to the shipowners. That money has not found its way into the pockets of the workers.

There is another significant aspect of this question, and that is the number of people in receipt of out-door relief. The figure has increased tremendously compared with what it was a few years ago. In 1935 there were 1,537,000 people on the Poor Law. In 1931 the number was 995,000. Between 500,000 and 600,000 more people were on the Poor Law in 1935. That means that the poverty of the people was so extreme that in very many cases, in addition to the low wages that they were receiving or in addition to their unemployment allowance they had to resort to the Poor Law for relief. It was said at an election some years ago that one of the best barometers of the prosperity of the country was seen in the number of people who were on or off the Poor Law. If that is the barometer, the prosperity of this country must be shockingly bad, because the number of people on the Poor Law is greater than in living memory.

Then there is the question of the number of unemployed. The figure is over 2,000,000. What is capitalism doing about that? Here are 2,000,000 people refused a job, admittedly getting hardly sufficient to keep body and soul together, with no hope, no prospect. Hon. Members opposite apparently believe that under this system this figure must be accepted as normal. That condition of things prevails even when we are supposed to have had a boom in trade. In 1924 there were 1,500,000 people unemployed, and it was then said that the figure was abnormal. If that figure was abnormal, what about to-day's figures? The total has been up to 3,000,000. In spite of all the efforts of the Government in the way of tariffs and in spite of the work which has been found by the manufacture of the implements of war, it is still at the figure of 2,000,000. Is capitalism satisfied with that? Ever since the War there has been this huge army of unemployed, and evidently those who believe in the capitalist system are coming to accept it as a figure that must remain.

What a state of things—20 per cent. of the people without sufficient food, 1,500,000 on outdoor relief, 2,000,000 unemployed, millions receiving wages which are hardly sufficient to keep body and soul together. That is capitalism in 1936. Let us look at the question from the angle of the national income. The latest figures that I have are for the year 1928, but I am informed that there has been no appreciable difference since that time in the percentages. The annual income of the country in 1928 was £3,760,000,000. One-half of one per cent. of the work available population took 16 per cent. of that income, 9 per cent. took 29 per cent., 15 per cent. took 16 per cent., and 75 per cent. of the population took 39 per cent. Three-fourths of the population for their work took slightly more than one-third of the total income which had to be divided among them in wages. Do hon. Members who believe in the capitalist system regard that as an equitable distribution? Is there any wonder that the capitalist machine, with its vast potential capacity, is gorged and cannot function, even though people are starving? If a bigger proportion of the national income went to the wage-earning classes as purchasing power, what would become of the goods in the shops and the factories? They would disappear and the wheels of industry would once again fly round. Hon. Members believe in a system of society in which a small percentage of the population take nearly two-thirds of the income. We are paying for that condition of things, with the result that with our capacity to produce, with a huge productive force, we are not allowed to work, and people are not allowed to consume as they ought to do. We have widespread, rampant poverty in the midst of these tremendous potentialities.

The profit-making motive is at the bottom of it all. No matter how useful or necessary a commodity may be to the life of the people if it does not pay a profit to the people w ho own and control industry you cannot have the commodity. I used to work in the coal-pit, and I know something about coal. The collieries of this country are privately owned. Coal is a necessity. During the War when the Government wanted us to produce more coal, they said that coal was the life blood of the nation, that it was the basis of the commercial prosperity of the country. What has happened this winter? During the cold weather of the last eight weeks there have been hundreds of thousands of homes where people have been sitting in rooms without a fire, shivering in the cold, while millions of tons of coal have been stacked in every coal yard and on every railway siding, and 350,000 coal miners are unemployed, while others who are employed are working short time and drawing poor wages. There is plenty of raw material in the earth. If the coal industry was properly organised in a proper state of society the collieries could be worked to full capacity, yet people are shivering and starving to-day. It does not matter how necessary coal is for the life of the people, if it does not pay the coalowner a profit to get it, people can starve, as they do. Private profit is the motive, and this misery is the price that we have to pay for it.

In the 1924 census of production Capitalism revealed another significant feature. It transpired that there were 21,000,000 people gainfully occupied but the amazing figure was that of that 21,000,000 slightly over 8,000,000 were engaged in productive industry. The number of people engaged in the distributive industry alone had increased by over 2,000,000 since the War. In other words, for every two people engaged in productive industry nearly five people were engaged in other occupations, in the luxury occupations or distributive occupations and in some cases parasitic occupations, in the sale or transport of the things that the two people made in productive industry. I used to hear it said during Socialist propaganda on the soap-box: "Who will do the dirty work under Socialism?" It seems to me that the supporters of Capitalism will have to ask themselves that question. If things go on as they are there will be nobody to do the productive work. If the capitalists would only examine their own system of society and look at that angle of it, they would learn a lesson or two.

Our productive forces are halt, lame and prevented from working as they ought to do. Large as our output is it is nothing compared with what we could produce if the system of production was properly organised. In the last 15 years there have been three Royal Commissions on the coal mining industry and each Commission has condemned almost in toto the methods employed in the coal mining industry. In 1931 an Act was passed doing certain things. It gave the coalowners power to put their own house in order, but they have not done it. Despite the condemnation of the three Commissions, despite the voluntary power given to them to put their own house in order, they have not done it, and we are paying the price for that, as we saw just before last Christmas when there were so many underpaid miners, while the coal of the domestic consumer stood at a shockingly high price. If the coal industry were properly organised the consumption could be enormously increased. He would be a bold man who would say that if the people were given liberty to consume all the coal they wanted there would not be an enormous increase in the consumption of coal.

The same thing applies in almost every-other industry. A few months ago the position of the steel industry came up for consideration on the question of tariffs. The steel industry was in such a wretched condition that even Members of the Government who believe in capitalism told the steel manufacturers: "You cannot have this tariff protection unless you put your house in order. In other words, your industry is in such a state of disorganisation that we who believe in capitalism will not help you until you help yourselves." The same thing applies in regard to cotton. For two or three years efforts have been made to get the cotton people to put their industry in order. They pay shockingly low wages, and efforts to induce them to agree to a certain principle of reorganisation has failed. The other week a Bill was brought forward with that object in view and it was nearly lost when it came before the House. What about agriculture? The Minister of Agriculture has been pouring money into agriculture as if he were pouring it down a sink. What difference has it made? He would be a bold man who would say that, with all the regulations, Acts of Parliament and all the subsidies given to agriculture, agriculture is well organised for better production. Chaos still exists.

When this question was discussed last in 1924 certain speeches were made, and I have taken the trouble to look at them. It was argued then that capitalism was the best system of society for the same reasons that are advanced in the Amendment on the Order Paper to-night. The Amendment says that the abolition of private interest in the means of production and distribution would impoverish the people. Heaven knows, if impoverishment would be greater under Socialism than under capitalism there would be some reason to condemn Socialism, but there is not a single justifiable reason that can be found to prove that. The Amendment also says that the House is unalterably opposed to any scheme of legislation which would deprive the State of the benefits of individual initiative. Individual initiative. I have heard that argument for over 20 years. Does that apply to the Post Office Hon. Members opposite have praised very highly in recent weeks the initiative that the Post Office is showing. Would not all those interested in industry to-day like their industries to be paying the profits that the Post Office has been paying for a good many years past? Does the hon. Member believe there is a lack of initiative in the Post Office? Is there any lack of initiative in the gas industry, which is largely under municipal control? Is that part of the industry which is under municipal control being conducted worse than the private companies supplying gas? Does not the same apply to electricity? If hon. Members will study the reports, they will see that the figures prove this to be true and prove that the municipalities give better conditions of service, better commodities and pay better as well. In other words, the industries to which I have referred are well organised, and they are organised for use rather than for profit.

The question of Russia was also raised on that occasion and I have read the statement then made by Lord Swinton. The whole of his argument was the failure of Socialism in Russia. I received two books from the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. M. Samuel), the one entitled "Back to Bellamy" and the other "The Great Experiment." After reading his statements about the Five-Years Plan, I had the best laugh I had had for a long time. If ever statements were disproved by facts, the statements contained in that book are. I dare say that the hon. Member is a firm believer in Capitalism, for he has been brought up in it.

But what is the position in Russia to-day? If Lord Swinton had an opportunity of standing at that Box now, I wonder whether he would use the same arguments? Has either the first or the second Five-Years Plan been a failure? Lord Swinton argued that the Russians themselves, although believers in Communism, had been compelled to give the land of Russia to the peasants, thus creating millions upon millions of little capitalists. That is not the case to-day. At the present time the collective farms are engaged in co-operative production. Even capitalists in this country are beginning to realise that the success in Russia has been so amazing that they must sit up and take notice of it. What was given to this House in 1924 as an example of disastrous failure has been proved in the years that have since elapsed to be a great success. Hon. Members, even on the Liberal benches, may argue that in Russia the standard of life is not half as good as it is in this country. Probably that is so, but at the present rate of progress in Russia, it will not merely be as good as ours in a year or two, but will surpass ours. What is still more important is that every increase in the productive capacity in Russia is for the benefit of the consumers, who are themselves the producers. In this country an increase in productive capacity goes to a tenth part of the population, which is largely represented by hon. Members on the opposite benches.

In view of all this, we say that there is no case against Socialism. We say that Capitalism has failed and that it stands indicted at every turn. We believe that hon. Members will be so ashamed of it and so ashamed of its effects in this country at the present time so far as poverty is concerned, that they will support our Motion.

8.19 p.m.


I beg to second the Motion.

Although most of us on these benches regret that the hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) is not here to move his Motion, I am satisfied that the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Paling) put down his Motion. He has spoken very strongly about what is taking place in capitalist Britain and he has not spoken too strongly. Those of us who represent more or less mining constituencies know to our sorrow what is taking place. We know that there is far too much poverty both in the homes of those who are out of work and in the homes of those who are fortunate enough to have a job. During the last few weeks we have had Debates in this House concerning the Special Areas, and I think that sufficient evidence has been brought forward by my hon. Friends to show that that which the Government have suggested as a remedy in those areas is entirely inadequate. There are other areas in the country which, although not defined as Special Areas, are certainly distressed areas, and have to maintain more than their fair share of unemployment and poverty. Whatever differences may exist on the latter part of this Motion, I think there is not an hon. Member in this House who can deny the statement contained in the first part, which refers to the failure of the capitalist system to provide the necessary standard of life for vast numbers of the population or adequately to utilise and organise the natural resources and productive power. My hon. Friend in moving the Motion referred to the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. M. Samuel). The hon. Member for Putney believes in Capitalism. I have read with very great interest a series of articles which he has written and which has been published in a Glasgow paper, and I have read with no less interest and with very much amusement his books en-tit led "The Great Experiment" and "Back to Bellamy" I venture to suggest to the hon. Member for Putney, and to the hon. Members who have put down an Amendment to the Motion, that they cannot deny that Capitalism has failed to give vast numbers of the population a decent standard of life, and what is true to-day was true in pre-war days.

In pre-war days there was plenty of unemployment, and the difference is that then the gaps between one job and the next job were shorter than they are now. In pre-war days, when markets were increasing, if a man lost his job in one pit he had a reasonable chance of getting another job within six weeks in some other pit; but to-day, when a man becomes unemployed, he does not know when he will be able to get another job. Anybody who cares to read the current issue of the Ministry of Labour Gazette, and will look at the relative ages of those who are out of work, will agree with me when I say that there are tens of thousands of people who have very little probability of ever getting another job. That is a terrible situation, and it is not due to Socialism, but to the failure of Capitalism. As the hon. Member for Wentworth said, the basis and object of Capitalism is to secure profit. When business men sit down to consider a commercial possibility, they do not say that the people in a given locality are in need of work and that they will find work for them. They consider whether there is a reasonable chance, if they invest money, of getting a return on that capital, and the employment of labour is a secondary consideration.

One aspect of Capitalism was not touched upon by the hon. Member for Wentworth, and it is the power given to employers to close down industries when they wish to do so without having any regard to the social consequences of their action and without having any regard to what will happen to whole communities of people. There can be no doubt that that is a side of Capitalism that has played havoc with the lives of many people during the past 10 or 12 years. Again, if one looks at Capitalism from the point of view of the finding of work for multitudes of people, one will find circumstances of a nature which not even hon. Gentlemen opposite could justify. I ask those who oppose this Motion what they suggest as an alternative, and what they suggest should be done to remedy the situation in the industrial: parts of this country? The Government have done nothing to deal with that situation. In 1931 they were elected as a National Government and in 1935 they were re-elected. On the second occasion they altered their tactics so far as unemployment is concerned. Instead of putting on the hoardings the numbers of people out of work, they did the contrary, and started advertising the fact that there were so many more people in industry than a year or two before. The Government's tariff policy, although it has helped some industries, has certainly injured others. An attempt has been made to prop up Capitalism by giving subsidies directly from the State to shipping, agriculture and other industries. A policy of tariffs and quotas has been pursued but has not remedied the-situation. We now have the right to ask that something of a more fundamental character should be done to deal with the distress which is all too prevalent in the country.

Consider the position in the mining industry. I believe that this country will be driven by sheer economic necessity to nationalise the mines. Taking a bird's-eye view of the present position in the industry we find that there are roughly 700,000 employés which is nearly 500,000 less than there were 12 years ago. At the same time the productive capacity of the individual miner is greater than it has ever been before. This is largely due to changed methods of production, increased mechanisation, the introduction of coal-cutting machines, pneumatic picks, conveyors and so forth. These changes have played havoc with the numbers employed. Large numbers have been thrown out of work and left without a ten-to-one chance of another job?

What is the remedy? We say there ought to be a reduction of the working day to a seven-hour day, bank to bank. That would enable numbers who are now out of work to be re-employed. When a demand for shorter hours is advanced the coalowners' reply is that the industry cannot afford a shorter working day. One of the reasons which they give for its inability to do so is the fall in prices, due to cut-throat competition which has compelled colliery companies to find cheaper ways of production. When one group of pits has indulged in these cheaper ways others have been compelled to follow suit, and there has been no advantage to anybody. It has almost been to the mutual disadvantage of coal-owners and workers. We say also that there ought to be better pension schemes for aged workers. It is a scandal that, when an industrial worker has spent 30, 40 or perhaps 50 years in an industry, he should be denied a decent pension to enable him to spend the autumn of his life in something like security. But when that demand is put forward the same reply is forthcoming. We are told that neither the State nor the industry could afford it. If the mining industry were properly organised under public ownership, if mines, minerals and ancillary industries were publicly owned, it would be possible so to organise the industry as to give a shorter working day, higher wages, and better conditions. It would be possible to go in for more direct selling, to readjust pit-head prices and to employ more men in the industry.

On the question of mines nationalisation, there has been a great change in public opinion during the last. 10 years. If in 1925 any hon. Member had suggested that a National Government, composed largely of Tories, would ever definitely announce from that Box their intention of nationalising royalties, it would have been regarded as impossible. But that is the situation to-day. It is the intention of the Government, we are told, to nationalise the minerals of the country. Time will show what kind of Bill will be introduced by them, but they have accepted the principle. They have done so because the Reorganisation Commission has stated that the private ownership of mineral wealth is retarding their amalgamation schemes. I submit that we shall also be driven by economic necessity to nationalise the pits.

If there is one thing more than another which separates hon. Members on this side from hon. Members opposite it is this. We believe that the present social order is not the best social order we could have. We stand for big fundamental changes in the social order—for what is commonly known as Socialism. There was a time when that word frightened people almost out of their wits. To-day Socialism is discussed in nearly every constituency in Britain. We make no apology for saying that we fought our election campaign on that programme. We asked the people for a mandate to bring about these big changes, and 8,000,000 people voted for us. It is true that we have not a majority but we have those 8,000,000 behind us who know that we stand for a Socialist objective. Hon. Members opposite are more concerned, even at Election time, with denouncing Socialism than with putting forward their own programme. Time and time again, during the General Election, National candidates without attempting to defend the record of their own Government or to give an exposition of their own programme, engaged in denunciation of the Labour party's programme and told the people what was going to happen if the Socialists were returned. This Amendment states— the abolition of private interest in the means of production and distribution would impoverish the people and aggravate existing evils. It is hardly possible to aggravate existing evils in this country. We who believe in Socialism are prepared to preach it in season and out of season. We believe in it and the people who voted for us believe in it. Those who support private enterprise ought to be prepared to defend their doctrine. It would be interesting to hear from them what they propose to do to deal with the poverty which exists to-day, in the midst of plenty, throughout this country. The Tory party never was a social reform party. I defy anyone to say that the Tory party was ever. the party of social reform. Nearly all the social reforms we have had in this country have been preceded by agitation from the Labour movement, both industrial and political. Before the first Workmen's Compensation Act you had it. Both before and after the War it was only when you were prepared to agitate that you got anything. The same remark applies to the wages system. I heard an hon. Member opposite say the other day that capitalists were being frightened away from certain districts by Socialist agitation.

The fact of the matter is that if the working people of this country had been quiet, they would have had a worse standard of life than they have to-day. There is not an hon. Member opposite who can tell me when the employers of this country willingly conceded a wages advance or were prepared to admit that they could afford a wages advance. The miners, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth said, had to put up a national campaign to get a wages advance, and the most they got was a shilling a day, some of them less than that, and in one district nothing, in spite of the fact that their average wage is £2 4s. 6d. and that they have tens of thousands of their people going home with less than £2 a week. It was only when the workers were organised in trade unions that they began to make real progress. They did not make it because capitalism wanted them to make it; but in face of capitalist opposition. Therefore, we are pleased that the hon. Member for -Wentworth has brought this Motion forward.

We say definitely that the main cause of the people's poverty is the private ownership of the means of life, and knowing that we have almost solved the problem of production, knowing that the factories and workshops are packed with the very things the people need, and that the only reason the people have not got them is that they are too poor to buy them back, we believe there ought to be a reorganisation of society based on the public ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange. Even though this Motion may be defeated tonight, we shall go on propagating our views in season and out of season, in this House and in the country, until such time as we get from the people a mandate to carry those views into effect.

8.38 p.m.


I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: this House, believing that the abolition of private interest in the means of production and distribution would impoverish the people and aggravate existing evils, and that far-reaching measures of social redress are being accomplished without overturning the present basis of society, is unalterably opposed to any scheme of legislation which would deprive the State of the benefits of individual initiative. The hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith), who has just resumed his seat, challenged Members on this side on the deterioration which he said had taken place in the conditions of life in this country under the capitalist system. I would suggest to him and to the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Paling), with all due respect, that this year of grace 1936 is not a very good year in which to say that, considering that when the National Government took office in 1931, after two years of Socialist administration, the condition of this country was very deplorable indeed and that since then, as every Member of this House will admit, great advances have been made. The hon. Members for Normanton chided the capitalists, as he calls us, for not having made any contributions towards the welfare of the working people. He said that any advances which had been made had come as a result of agitation from his own party. That is news to me. I thought that in a democratic country which for some time past has been governed by the Liberal party and the Conservative party, with occasional intervals of the Socialist, party, any movement towards social progress should be regarded as due to the opinion of that democracy as a whole and no attempt should be made to pin it on to one section of the community alone. Anyhow, leaving that where it is, I am prepared to stand on the ground that, wherever the agitation came from, the Acts nearly always came from the Conservative and Liberal parties.

The hon. Member for Wentworth took the same line and adopted the same tactics as his illustrious forbear did 13 years ago. He described the lamentable condition of the country, he sought out every conceivable unhappy event which has happened, and he pinned the whole thing on to the capitalist system. He dealt with over-production and under-consumption, starvation, malnutrition, under-payment of wages, over-payment of capital, the unemployment position, and so on. In every point which he made, I can assure him that, as far as I am concerned—and I am a fervent believer in what he describes as the capitalist system—I am entirely in agreement with him, and every Member on this side feels the same. It is not to the advantage of the capitalist system that there should be malnutrition or underpayment of wages. Anybody with only my own very elementary knowledge of business knows very well that the greater and the quicker your distribution, particularly if it goes through wages, and the more rapid the industrial circulation, the greater the advantage even to the capitalist alone. But many of the troubles from which we admit we are suffering to-day are definitely traceable to world conditions following the most extraordinary period the world has ever passed through from 1914 to 1918, which completely inverted the ordinary state of international trade and left this country, which is dependent at least to the extent of 60 per cent. on what it can sell abroad, in a disorganised condition.

May I at this point express my strong belief that wealth is the result of production and that production is of no use to anybody unless somebody else will buy it. We cannot solve our difficulties by the distribution of cash or pound notes. It is no good setting up printing presses and thinking that by paying people more money we can solve our difficulties. We have to set the people to work, and we have to give them markets for what they produce, and that is and has been our great difficulty ever since the War.


Where are we going to get the markets if our people have not got the purchasing power?


My point is that, inasmuch as the people in foreign countries have entirely changed their economic policy, due either to impoverishment following on the War or else to a new policy of self-containment due to fear of war, those markets have gone, and the people in this country who used to produce for those markets are now left without the power of earning wealth. We cannot satisfy those people by the distribution of money alone; we have to give them work. Let me say one thing from the point of view of profits. I believe, and I think it is an accepted fact, that invested money, which is the result of work done in the past, has the right to a return if it is put into industry, in the same way that labour has the right to a return. We have these two forces in industry, the investor and the worker. Only under prosperous conditions, where profits are being earned, can both these parties get a fair deal. I welcome the trade union movement in this country; everybody on this side of the House always has—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh !"] Certainly, we had a lot to do with bringing it into being. The trade union movement can only live under conditions of prosperous industry. It is up to the unions to negotiate for an increase in the standard of living of the people they represent, and they can only do it within a prosperous industry.

One point interested me intensely in the two speeches made by the hon. Members opposite. They did not mention co-operative societies, in which a great number of their followers will be found. The co-operative society is a completely capitalistic institution. I defy any Member on the other side to demonstrate that it should not be regarded as founded upon and working through the capitalist system. It works very well, and I hold a high regard for it. The phrase "capitalistic system" has been used, and I have been warned by the hon. Member for Wentworth that I must not mention "individual initiative." I intend to do so, however, because I believe that under that system we get the freedom of the individual and his power to use his initiative. The law that a man reaps where he sows is a rather hard law, but, as an ordinary man who has to earn his living, I am prepared to stand by it. It gives a great stimulus to the evolution of men and women because, unfortunately, 90 per cent. of our time is spent working in order to live, in order to provide ourselves with the necessities of life, and in order to make progress and to reap rewards. If there were no stimulus in that respect there would be a big gap in the lives of many of our citizens. There are over 10,000,000 people employed, and my argument affects every one of them. I believe that the capitalist system is fundamentally democratic and that it is essential to a democratic Government, because it gives every man and woman an opportunity, if he or she excels in labour and ability, to get ahead.

Another great aspect of the capitalist system is its adaptability. Various suggestions were made by the hon. Member for Wentworth as to what could be done and should be done. I should like him to cast his mind back over the last years of our industrial and economic history, and to ask him whether he would not agree with me that the system which has been in operation throughout that period has been responsible for enormous changes in our social structure. It has produced the wealth which has paid for most of our social amenities. In the last four and a-half years there have been enormous strides in health, education, housing and the like. Capitalism is not receding. There are many more small capitalists than there were some years ago, and their number is always increasing. During the terrible years of the War and since, this country has kept its head above water. Our people have suffered terribly, but the country has kept its head above water more than any other nation, except some of the small Scandinavian nations. It is the only big powerful exporting country which has kept its head above water, and that is largely due to the fact that we were not panicked out of our system of capitalism into a dictatorship or into Communism or something else.

We are now approaching a new phase. An industrial revolution, like most other revolutions in this country, comes by night almost, and people do not know what has happened until it is over. In the last few years enormous changes have been going forward in industry and in the point of view of people towards industry. That is why the capitalist system is good; it can change in conformity with the ideas of the people. This new phase, which is demanded by the people of the country, is that industry should re-organise itself as was done in the iron and steel industry; that the units of industries must think nationally; that as national industries they must get in touch with their consumers and keep in touch with them; that as national industries they must have closer relationships with their workpeople; that as national industries they must get into touch with their opposite numbers in other countries. All these things are being done, in some cases slower than others. The cotton industry and the coal industry are lagging in this process, and in order to stimulate them the Government have been prepared to help them through statutory powers given to a majority.

The iron and steel industry affords a typical example of what is happening in industry and what the people of this country demand. It was not badly organised when it received tariffs. It was nearly down and out for the lack of tariffs. It is no good saying to a man desperately ill from loss of blood, "You are a miserable specimen, you have made terrible mistakes," but, we should say, "We will give you strength again, and when you are strong you will have to see to it that you lead a proper life." That was said to the iron and steel industry, and since it received tariffs that industry has accomplished a great measure of reorganisation. It is in touch with its consumers, it is in touch with the steel cartel on the Continent, and it has done more through that reorganisation to help to set on foot the movement which, I believe, is going a long way towards the solution of many of our international difficulties. Only industries which are still activated by the individualist or capitalist system can do that. The position would be intolerable if the State were in control of the iron and steel industry, and had to negotiate with the other countries of the world in that industry.

Then there is all that is happening in agriculture. It is an experiment, and my friends tell me that this and that which is being done for agriculture is wrong, but as an experiment and as a start the movement is in the right direction. Farmers should organise and sell their products better, and consumers should organise and get into touch with the farmers. Distribution should be improved and farming made into a paying proposition. If it is necessary in the early stages of these operations to pay a subsidy I am in favour of it. There are occasions when this individualist system has to be put on one side. There are the circumstances of war, when the country cannot afford the time, and time is the factor, to continue individualist production and the State has to take control. There are other circumstances which, in my opinion, require special measures. In the distressed areas we have a condition of affairs which is not susceptible to the ordinary economic factors of our system to-day. I have no hesitation in making that admission, nor would any other Member on this side of the House.


I suppose the hon. Member would admit that conditions there are the result of the activities of the system he is defending?


I do not admit anything of the kind, because the coal, iron and steel, shipbuilding and cotton industries are depressed on account of world conditions over which we have no control. I live in a distressed area. My constituency is just outside it, unfortunately. [HON. MEMBERS: "Unfortunately?"] Unfortunately because, under the Government's policy at the moment, some of my works do not get contracts which otherwise they might get. That is why I said "unfortunately." But, apart from that, I am most anxious to find a solution for the troubles of the distressed areas. I have heard hon. Members laugh loud and long at the Chancellor of the Exchequer because he said it would take 10 years to deal with that problem. I have yet to hear any proposition from that side of the House which is going to take any shorter time. One way will cure it in time, and that is the ordinary evolution of the capitalist system, the gradual accumulation of trade, which will seep into those areas and have permanent results. But I agree that time is a factor in that case and that we cannot wait while the ordinary economic factors operate.

In conclusion I would say that every trouble has been pinned on to the capitalist system. We have been told that the Socialist system would cure our troubles, but I have yet to learn what exactly is the Socialist panacea. What are their suggestions? Where has Socialism been tried out and where has it been successful? As far as I know the pure Socialism which hon. Members opposite have in their minds has only been tried in some of the small city states of ancient Greece, and there not for very long. [An HON. MEMBER: "Russia !"] The Russian system, I understand, is not one on which hon. Members base their Socialism. I have always understood that; perhaps they will put me right if I am wrong.


The hon. Member said a few minutes ago, and I entirely agree with him, that the Scandinavian countries have been doing very well. He is surely aware that there are Socialist Governments in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.


I appreciate that, but I know also that the economic policy of those countries is not based on Socialism. As far as I know Socialism has never been tried out. It is ill defined and has not been tried out. The only places where it, is being tried are the totalitarian States — Germany — [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—Italy and Russia, where there is the domination of a dictator either in person or by a. political caste. [HON. MEMBERS: "Do not blame us for that!"]. I am not blaming hon. Members for anything. I appreciate the fact that they have never had an opportunity of putting Socialism into practice in this country, and that is probably why we have been able to carry on.

One last point about Socialism. I fought the last election not, as an hon. Member suggested, by denouncing my Socialist opponent, but by trying to put my own point of view. One very good reason for that was that I could not discover what his policy was. But I did discover one thing from the party as a whole—that socialisation, in their sense, meant State-ownership of the means of production and distribution and of the banks. The banks are not mentioned in this Motion. I understand that Socialism, in order to be effective, must be complete. You cannot take it by easy stages. You cannot apply it to rich men first, and then gradually get lower and lower in the scale until finally, you are dealing with the man who has savings in the Post Office Savings Bank and the man who has a small house which he has bought out of his savings. If you are to have Socialism, it must be universally applicable to rich and poor alike. It is a principle. It is not a sort of try-out which you can apply here and there and not somewhere else.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), when talking about the Services, said that anybody in the Services was like somebody on a moving staircase, because without any effort one way or the other they slowly went up. He said that no new devices were being discovered, and that it required an outside mind. I do not agree with regard to the Services, but I agree that if we had Socialism we should all be on that moving staircase. We might go up to a certain point, but get no further. I am reminded that a staircase goes down sometimes. In fact, it has to go down in order to go up. I move the Amendment because I hope that the House will refuse to interrupt what must be admitted to be the great progress which we have been making, in a system which has been tried out, is capable of change and is very easily affected by public opinion. I ask the House to continue that system and not to allow the cold and rigid hand of State ownership to check the progress we are making and to plunge us back into chaos and confusion.

9.8 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment, and, in doing so, I ask that indulgence of the House which I know is always accorded to a newcomer. Perhaps I have the right to add a few words to this Debate, as I have the honour to represent not only one of the largest but, as it happens, one of the most anti-Socialist constituencies in the country. I think it was the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith) who mentioned the Election. In the last five years, the people of Southend-on-Sea have voted overwhelmingly for the National Government and against a change of system, and my Socialist opponent at the last Election polled only 55 more votes than her predecessor in 1931, an increase which is not even in proportion to the growth of the population.

The hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Paling) said, or implied, something about Capitalism receding. I should have thought that it was more apt to say that Socialism is receding. I see signs of dissent on the benches opposite. Thirteen years ago, a similar Motion was moved in this House by Mr. Snowden, and a similar Amendment was moved from these benches. What has happened to Socialism in the intervening years? At that time Hungary had already had a socialistic experiment and a Socialist form of Government. After a series of excesses, that experiment was renounced, and I have never met a Hungarian who was anxious for its return. Munich, a city of which I know something and, which is a peaceful, pleasant city, was by an unexpected turn of history, suddenly given a Socialist Government for several months. It was unexpected both by Government and governed alike. I do not think that even the sternest critic of the Nazi régime would like to restore the conditions that existed in those months. He would agree that they are much better off now.

What about Italy? Italy had a growing Socialism with lock-outs and strikes. Then came the experiment of Fascism. When the Debate took place 13 years ago, Fascism was then only au experiment in its initial stage. Whatever you may think of it, you must admit that Fascism is now a dominant force in European politics. One wonders what has become of the Socialists in Italy? History has repeated itself in Germany very recently. The socialistic republic in Germany was unable, for reasons that we perhaps do not understand, to hold the affections or respect of the German people, and it led to Hitlerism and Naziism, and so contributed its share to paving the way to what is called the German problem.

Take the case of America and Canada, practical and democratic countries. If the remedy, as hon. Gentlemen say, is so efficacious, why have the particularly democratic and practical countries never seriously taken up Socialism, even during the dark days of depression when mankind naturally turns to other thoughts and other theories? It is only in Spain that the theory of Socialism is growing. I do not think that any of us would care to exchange his lot with that of the average Spaniard. Throughout history, Spain has always been one of the most backward countries in Europe.

I was much moved by the eloquent speech of the hon. Member for Wentworth and the ills which he recounted, but I could not make out how the remedy he suggested was going to cure such ills, which we all deplore. I do not believe that there is a very great difference, in this country, in ideals and in patriotism between hon. Members of one party and hon. Members of another. There is only a difference in method, and I think it can be maintained that our methods are more efficacious if less illusory. If that be not so, why is it that when a country tries a socialistic experiment it rarely does so a second time? I should be grateful if hon. Members opposite would point out places where socialistic experiments on a large scale, such as were suggested by the hon. Member for Wentworth, have been carried out with comparative success, and have satisfied the anticipation of those responsible. On this side, we can point many well-known instances in which such experiments have failed dismally. We have only to look at the United States which, in 1916 bought the major part of the Mercantile Marine. Since then they have been trying to get rid of it. Unfortunately, their experiment in Socialism has cost America the almost astronomical figure of £670,000,000 which I believe, if rumour is to be credited, is something like three times as much as we are about to spend on our defences.

In Canada, the situation is very much the same on a smaller scale. In Australia, as hon. Members know, an effort at State control of shipping was made. That unfortunate experiment brought disillusion and debt, and the Australian taxpayer was left with a debt of £15,000,000 on his shoulders, which he was loath to pay and almost incapable of paying. In France, where they did much the same thing the figure is considerably higher. It has been estimated that State control of shipping has cost the French Republic £43,000,000, in addition to the annual loss which it involves. There is another point of view, which, perhaps, is not so important and that is the point of view of the ordinary traveller or user of these services. If any hon. Member had occasion as I had, to use the railways in America immediately after the War, he will have rejoiced, as I did, when they were handed over to private ownership.

As the House is aware, in Canada at this moment there are two rival railways, The Canadian National Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway, the latter of which is well known for its generous treatment of its employés, and has done much for the development of the Dominion. I think that, if anyone wanted to consult his comfort and convenience, there is little doubt on which of those two systems he would travel. I have travelled on both. Nor do I believe that the railwayman on the Canadian National Railway feels that he is any more free, or a better fellow or more self-respecting, than his relative or neighbour who happens to work on the Canadian Pacific Railway.

I know that hon. Gentlemen opposite are fond of referring to the Post Office as the ideal of Government efficiency and of the way in which State services can be run, and I agree with them, but, with all possible respect to my right hon. and gallant Friend the Postmaster-General, I do not think anyone would maintain that the telephones in this country, or in France, are any better than, or as good as, they are in the United States, where they are privately owned. There are many instances of a similar character.

I realise, however, and we all realise, that the condition of the workers in these industries is far more important than the convenience of the casual traveller. The condition of the workers is a problem of very great importance. I know of one company that employs about 4,000 people, paying them good wages, giving them free medical attention and assistance of every kind, giving them free sick benefit throughout the time of their incapacity for work, and, when they retire from the business, giving them a pension, which is continued to their widows should their widows survive. I happen to know, also, that there are several thousand people on the waiting list wishing to be employed by this company. Would hon. Members suggest that the vast number who are employed, in Lord Nuffield's great works, would be any better off if they were working for a State-controlled company? Would they suggest that these people, happy in their mode of life, would wake up one morning with a feverish glow of exultation if they found that they had suddenly become servants of the State? I do not think so.

It is difficult, of course, for us to gauge the conditions of people under a Socialist State, because we have only the example of Russia by which to judge; that is the only place in the world which is socialised on a large scale. Lord Passfield has said that the standards of life of a Russian worker have not yet come up to the standards of a British working man when he is at work. That is a very mild utterance. I could find many quotations from people who would sympathise with hon. Members opposite. I found one the other day from Mr. Muggeridge, an ex-Communist, who says: I say—and no unbiassed person who has lived in Russia can contradict me—that most Soviet workers and their families today are living entirely on bread rations; that they taste, from one month's end to another, neither meat, nor butter, nor sugar, nor vegetables; that their housing conditions are more abominable than the most abominable slums in England. … All their waking time they are terrified— terrified of the G.P.U.; terrified of one another; terrified that they will lose their ration cards; terrified that they will be refused a passport; and will be driven away from the corner in some room or cellar where they are at least allowed to sleep in peace. None the less their lot, as compared with the peasants, is privileged, luxurious and happy. I should think that the lot of the ordinary British working man under an individualistic competitive system is far better than that. The competitive spirit, no doubt, has its unpleasant phases, but, nevertheless, it achieves great results, and I am afraid it is so deeply engrained in human nature that not the whole Socialist party, nor even 10 Socialist parties, would ever quite eliminate it.

If a system such as is embodied in this Motion were brought into being, what would happen? It seems to me that it would crush ambition and stifle individual enterprise, that it would crush all liberty and all individual development, and would add monotony to the lives of millions and misery to the lives of many. That is what would happen if the scheme were a success, but the fact must always be faced that it might be a failure. Then all the time would have been wasted, millions of money would have been spent, millions of people would have been thrown into unemployment again, and there would be a degree of industrial dislocation that would take a generation to rectify. That is what would happen if the system were a failure, while, if it were a success, it would bring about a standard of civilisation such as we read of in the works of Maeterlinck and Fabre on the life of the higher insects.

We must consider, not whether the scheme suggested in this Motion would be better for one section of the community, but whether it would be beneficial for the whole community, and I personally believe that it would not be. I cannot see how any one section would definitely benefit by a system like this. Indeed, it would bring about a condition of life which would be infinitely inferior to that which we now have in this country, which, I am glad to say, is the last refuge of democracy. Moreover, would not this proposed change run the risk of bringing about a dictatorship? I have read some of the speeches of Socialist doctrinaires, who have told us what they are going to do. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander) himself said a year or two ago that the danger of a dictatorship from the Left was as great as that of a dictatorship from the Right—that the danger was as great from Socialists as from Fascists. If this theory were put into execution, whether it were a success or a failure, I think that one inevitable result would be a reaction, and a strong reaction, for, in a country like England, where the centre always governs in the end, too great a push towards, say, the Left would result in people going to the Right, and too great a push to the Right would result in their going to the Left. I should have thought that the last thing hon. Members opposite would have wanted to bring about would be the possibility of a dictatorship from either side. I cannot think that the Motion which has been proposed to-night would in any way bring about better conditions in this country.

9.26 p.m.


I am sure that the House would unanimously wish me, in conformity with its usual custom, to tender our congratulations to the hon. Member on his maiden speech. It is not often that such a privilege falls to one who himself is a new Member of the House. I do it with sincerity because of the tone in which the speech has been delivered, the excellent way in which the hon. Member's views have been phrased, and although I cannot be expected to agree with his arguments, I think I may congratulate him on having stated them as cogently as anyone holding the same views could do. Having said that, the hon. Member will forgive me if I say that I do not intend to follow him in the whole of his remarks. The House will be sensible, as I am, of the circumstance that the general tenor of his address has proceeded on lines that suggest to me that he is impressed with the idea that to-night it is Socialism that is on trial. It is not Socialism that is on trial; it is Capitalism that is being impeached and Capitalism that must be defended.

I am glad to know that the Mover of the Amendment—and I do not think anyone on the benches opposite will take a different line—rightly agreed with practically everything that has been said by the Mover of the Resolution in his indictment of the conditions of poverty, unemployment, malnutrition, and general lack of opportunity for people to lead a full and generous life, that exist in this country. I do not think that any Member will deny the existence of poverty on a widespread scale. But we are entitled to ask what are the causes of that poverty, and of the system which produces and distributes wealth in such a way as to produce the lack of satisfaction of human needs which is associated with the expression poverty. That the system has broken down and failed to justify itself is evidenced by the existence of that poverty. I think it will be admitted that that poverty is not due to any lack of wealth. It cannot be denied that we have the men and the material, in sufficient numbers and quantities, to make up that deficiency if it existed. We have men, material and natural resources capable of supplying all the needs of our people. It has rightly been pointed out by the Mover of the Resolution that there is some barrier between that abundance and the poverty which is widespread and intense.

The hon. Member who moved the Amendment seemed to cast doubt on the suggestion that poverty was so widespread that we needed to change the system because of it. There was a time in this country when there was no such widespread poverty, when we had nothing like the resources of men and materials which, employed in association with natural resources, satisfy the needs of our people. One can go back to the Middle Ages when undoubtedly, if there was no great wealth on the one hand, there was no great poverty on the other, when there was abundance for all. Even though that abundance may be admitted to have been a rude abundance, it was sufficient to satisfy the needs of the people according to their standards, without any of the grinding toil, the feeling of insecurity, and the petty persecutions menacing their freedom which are associated with industrial conditions to-day.

There are hon. Members on the other side who should be more familiar with history than I am because of the larger opportunities they have enjoyed, who will know that I speak the truth when I refer to that age when an agricultural labourer in 15 weeks' work could earn sufficient to provide himself, his wife and his family with all they needed for the year. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] The hon. Member may call it rubbish, but if he would do me the honour of consulting the historian of work and wages in this country, Professor Thorold Rogers, he would find that it is not my opinion I am putting forward, but the opinion of a man who has given mind and time to the study of these questions. There was a time when there was no such thing as widespread poverty in this country.


Was that under the capitalist system?


Certainly not. With the coming of the industrial revolution, with the multiplication of our powers over nature, with the development of invention, with the application of forces inducing nature to provide us with a greater abundance for less expenditure of energy, with the coming of immense wealth on the one hand, we began to see the appearance on the other hand of a widening and deepening poverty. It seems to me that this process has gone on and developed and intensified to such a degree that the time has come now when we might at least pause and ask ourselves why is it? If we do that we may be able to find the answer to the paradoxical situation which sees poverty existent in the midst of plenty and the threat of war overhanging us notwithstanding a people almost universally-minded towards peace. We shall discover in the system that hon. Members opposite defend, and we attack, the causes both of that poverty and of that threat of war. It will be agreed that poverty is not due to any lack of wealth quite as readily as it is apparently agreed that poverty exists.

It seems to me, then, that if poverty exists in spite of an abundance of wealth the next step that we have to take is to try to ascertain what there is that stands between the people who are experiencing that poverty and the wealth which will satisfy their needs and drive away their poverty. We had an inkling of the answer to that question when an hon. Member who spoke on the previous Motion of the great distress in the coalfield, particularly in Durham, which he spoke of as one of the wealthiest little corners in the world, received from the hon. Gentleman who spoke for the Government the satirical response that "You cannot sell Durham coal by rhetoric." I quote that not criticise it but to show the idea that lies in the minds of the defenders of the present system, who can conceive of no other object in the matter of producing wealth except to sell that wealth. That is the sole object with which capitalism as a system allows the wheels of industry to turn at all. Its object is production, not to satisfy the needs of the people, not to meet the demands of consumption, but to sell with the ultimate object and result that the sale shall produce a profit for those who graciously permit others to produce but have not provided, as a reward for their labour in production, the means whereby they can buy.

Here it seems to me we have the kernel of the evil, this production for sale instead of production for use. If commodities were permitted to be produced to satisfy human needs, at least we should dispense immediately with a good deal of the poverty that prevails at present. We have been told that there are hundreds of thousands of families which during the last few months have been shivering in their hovels, which it would be an abuse of language to call their homes, because of their inability to buy coal. There are thousands of miners unemployed who, if they had been permitted to go down into the bowels of the earth, would work, even, without wages or reward of any kind, but would be only too glad to win that coal for the satisfaction of the need of their unfortunate brethren of their own class who without that coal could hardly keep life within their bodies. Capitalism is responsible for the circumstance that people shiver in cold while coal which would warm their bodies is in plentiful abundance and those who would are not permitted to secure it. It is not only coal. The same thing applies in the matter of clothing. I have been developing some measure of cynicism during the last few weeks, while sitting in the Committee that is discussing the question of how to dispose of what are called redundant spindles. I ask myself: Is there such a thing as redundancy of coal when people have empty grates in their homes and want fuel and cannot get it? Is there such a thing as a redundancy of spindles and looms so long as a single human back remains insufficiently clothed? What stands between the utilisation of these natural resources and the manpower which would turn them into commodities which would satisfy our human needs? Nothing but capitalism which says not only that these things shall not be used for the satisfaction of their own desires unless a profit can be made thereby but says they shall not be employed for the satisfaction of the needs of our own people.

I am not so ignorant of economics as not to understand and appreciate the necessity, so far as some commodities are concerned, to exchange them in the markets of the world but, if it is not capitalism, what is it that has choked up the channels of trade and exchanges and prevented other people as well as our own from having the enjoyment of them? What the Parliamentary Secretary meant when he said you could not sell Durham coal on rhetoric was that coal should not be produced unless it could be sold. If he had followed up that line of thought he would probably have reminded us, what we do not need to be reminded of, that under capitalism you cannot dispose of your coal unless foreign markets are available. But surely in our own market with the unsatisfied needs of our own people, not only for fuel but for food and for clothing, there is a market which, if it cannot yield a profit to the individual controller of industry, he ruthlessly closes but which, nevertheless, might be turned to the use of satisfying the needs of the common people who are willing and anxious and capable of satisfying their needs and those of their kith and kin but are not allowed to do so because a profit cannot be made. It seems to us that that is all wrong. Before we can alter it we shall have to ask how it comes about that the 10 per cent. of the population that the Mover of the Motion spoke of as appropriating 66 per cent. of the whole of the wealth produced are able to do that. Quite rightly he suggested that we have for present purposes solved the problem of production. Hon. Members opposite will admit that. The problem that we are faced with now is the problem of distribution.

If you cannot get markets to dispose of what you call your surplus commodities, you at least have an unsatisfied need at home for food, fuel, clothing and shelter, but the same barrier is raised between those unsatisfied needs and the willingness of people who would satisfy them if they had the means whereby they might be satisfied from our abundant natural resources. How does it come about that this is possible? It is because no one can produce any wealth at all without access to the things that are necessary to produce it. My hon. Friend the Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) would say that the first thing to which to have access is land. The next thing is machinery. No individual has any right, natural or moral, whatever might be said about his legal rights to claim individual possession of any of these things. These things which are needed for the satisfaction of our human needs are not the product of any individual effort. Land, of course, is not the product of any individual or collective effort, which has regard to the circumstances of its natural productivity. It is the providential gift of God to us all. Heaven knows by what right, but I strongly suspect by the right of might, the major part of it has been appropriated. I know that I can say that much about a large proportion of the territory round the town in which I happen to reside. Hon. Members who sit in this House know something about the wholesale way in which the common lands of the common people were enclosed without justification.

But more important than that in these days—at least it will attract the attention of hon. Members opposite more—is the question of industrial machinery. None of those things can be said to be individual products to-day. I put the proposition to the House and ask any hon. Member to deny the accuracy of the statement, that all things which we call wealth to-day are not individual but collective products. The yield of Capitalism out of which springs all the defects of modern society that we condemn in our midst, that which is collectively produced is individually appropriated. Ten per cent. of the people take 66 per cent. of the whole of the products, which is more than they can possibly consume for themselves or find markets in the world for the disposal of the surplus. There was a time when those markets were available. Capitalism over-reached itself, and seeking to take more and greater profits than it could possibly extract from its markets here at home, sought to exploit the markets of the world. In doing so it incidentally taught other people the same kind of exploitation. Having taught them how to play that game, they have played it as successfully as, and, in some cases, more successfully than, their original instructors.

To-day we see the sad example of the consequences of Capitalism, of its extreme, insane folly, looked at from the point of view of safeguarding home industries and the development of home prosperity, crying because they have killed the goose that lays the golden egg in connection, for instance, with the textile industry of Lancashire. What has killed the textile industry of Lancashire? We are told that it is foreign competition. Yes, but who taught the foreign competitor his business, who supplied him with the surplus capital invested there, all the more readily because it found cheaper labour to exploit than the labour it was possible to exploit at home? And who sent the men, and the machinery and the capital out there? The cotton masters of Lancashire of a generation ago; and now their sons are weeping and wailing and talking about redundant spindles and redundant looms because they themselves have killed, by their over-reaching themselves, the flourishing textile industry that once was part of the backbone of this country. It is the same with every other industry as well.

We suggest that, having located the cause of poverty, not in any lack of wealth but in the failure justly and equitably to distribute it, having located that failure in the circumstances that those who would distribute it equitably are not allowed to do so because the private ownership of wealth necessarily falls to the private ownership of the instruments for producing wealth, we suggest that having located the cause of the disease, without any quackery, the obvious remedy is to cure the disease by the removal of the cause. That is what we are coming to. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may fume, fight and propagate against it, but notwithstanding all that they may say or do, the irresistible circumstances bound up in economic tendencies are driving them eventually in our direction. There can be no mistake about it. They are recognising their own failure to such an extent that practically all the legislation about which I have heard anything in this House since as a new corner I first entered its portals, has been devoted to the patching up of that old system.

What is all this talk about depressed areas? The more you advertise the depressed areas, and the more you lament the consequences flowing from the existence of these depressed areas, the more you indict the system responsible for their existence. It is necessary to organise the land, the material and the machinery of the country in such a way that the goods will be delivered to the people of the country. You have had control of it ever since the industrial revolution. It is this which leaves you with the festering sores that tell of your failure to deal with the trust that you have had placed in your hands, and of which the people of this country in their trustfulness have been foolish to allow you to continue in possession too long.

Turn your eyes to the mining industry. It is useless and insufficient to talk about the loss of foreign markets as being responsible for the decay of the mining industry to-day. If not the Capitalism of this country it is the Capitalism in other countries which is responsible for that. It is the Capitalism which is worldwide and which knows only patriotism for that with which its interest is associated and from where its profits and dividends are extracted. Is it coal? It is an evidence of the disastrous failure of Capitalism that has had control. Is it cotton? It is evidence of the disastrous failure of Capitalism which has been responsible for its decay. Is it shipbuilding? You surely do not charge the Socialism of this country for the pass to which you have brought shipbuilding in this country. Is it engineering Is it any one of the great basic industries of this country of which we used to boast so proudly and which now lie in rack and ruin, and which you are seeking this and that means to patch up by subsidies here and there and by imposing restrictions upon supplies, in order to secure those profits which you have not the business ability to extract from the industries you have ruined? Is it these things that tell of the success of Capitalism? There is your indictment, in the decaying industries of which you alone have had responsible control since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

A greater indictment still than the decay of industry is the decay of men. You do not pause to realise the significance of this until you are confronted with circumstances that give greater cause to fear that your individual and class interests are in danger. When circumstances like those of the past weekend arise, you not only begin to think about the need for men to work for you, but about the need for men to die for you. It is then that you begin to look around you?

Commander BOWER

And you find them on this side.


It is the decay of men and the wrecking of homes for which you have been responsible. When hon. Members opposite lament the decay of skill among those who formerly they used to boast were the most capable workmen in the world, it is they who have to share and to bear the sole responsibility. That is the condition to which they have brought this industry, which gives the men no opportunity of keeping that skill by practice in productive industry. It is they who are responsible, not only for the decay of industry but for the decay of men. Their system having failed it is time to apply a fresh system, not in a hesitating manner, for the elimination of methods of competition and the substitution of methods of co-operation, methods which the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Peat) said he admired. The time has come to substitute that communal system which exists in the cooperative movement for the system of private ownership and control which exists in the capitalistic concerns of this country. On that basis and on that basis only can we recover our prosperity and give to each and every man, woman and child a free and full life.

Hon. Members opposite need not fear that freedom will be endangered. What freedom exists under the capitalist system? Freedom has its roots in economic circumstances. Who controls my bread controls my liberty and controls my life. What economic security is there for the average individual to-day, called into the workshop when profits promise to result and cast out on to the scrap heap unwanted when it suits the system. Redundant spindles and redundant men, scrapped more remorselessly than you would scrap a worn-out horse. You find a corner in the paddock somewhere for your favourite worn-out mare, which has served you well, but for the human beings who have wrought and toiled that you might live in luxury, there is no corner in the paddock for them. The only corner that is reserved for them is the paddock that is called God's acre. A corner six feet by three feet is reserved to contain all that remains of them when life has left their bodies.

Economic security does not exist today, even for your own class, much less for the working class. It does not exist for the capitalist. He may be a millionaire to-day and a pauper tomorrow. Such is the cannibalism of the capitalist system that it preys upon its own kind as remorselessly as it preys upon the working class. There is no real freedom for us and no real freedom for you in the capitalist system. We know from bitter experience how true the lines are, ending with the words: Bread is Freedom, Freedom Bread"! Individual initiative never did give its best when inspired only by the motive of material gain. It has never had the right encouragement. That can only come about when society recognises the sordidness of its material standards and assesses value not for what is given but what is got. Some day we shall have to change all that, but you must give men liberty first; give them their economic freedom, and then they will discover that social freedom which inspires to social service. I believe sufficiently in the inherent goodness of human nature to believe it to be true that if you give them liberty, encouragement to give of their best to society, they will create and give of their best for the enrichment of mankind at large.

These are the ideals that we set before us; and I would remind hon. Members opposite that ideals far from being impracticable things are the only things that are practicable when you give them an opportunity of proving themselves. In their lack of ideals hon. Members opposite sneer at us. Who boasts of his lack of ideals boasts of his intellectual bankruptcy. We are proud of our ideal. If you recognise the validity of our ideal—you say that you share with us the ideal at which we are aiming—then give our ideal its opportunity and it will unquestionably organise its own machinery for its realisation, and in doing so the biggest barrier to human progress that has ever existed will be destroyed, because the capitalist system will be moved from the path of human progress.

10.3 p.m.


I should like to call attention to the terms of the Motion. It says that: Legislative effort should be directed to the gradual supersession of the capitalist system. That is not the programme of the Socialist party. It is the system of which Lord Snowden spoke when he was addressing some of his disciples before the 1929 election and complained that if the Socialist party went on as they were doing it would take 2,000 years to get Socialism. Then they made him their Chancellor of the Exchequer. I was present in this House, although not a Member of it during a debate nine or ten years ago and again in 1928 on somewhat similar lines to the present discussion. I well remember the duel between Sir Alfred Mond, as he was at that time, and Mr. Snowden. I remember also, a somewhat similar debate, which was almost fit for a mock parliament, in which Mr. Saklatvala took a prominent part. He was the only Communist in the House at that time. I wish the present Communist Member of this House were here. Perhaps he would confirm what Mr. Saklatvala said. Mr. Saklatvala was at great pains to show that the Post Office as run in this country is not a Socialist institution, and that the tramways, transport and the Broadcasting Corporation were not Socialism, had nothing to do with it, and had no genuine bearing on Socialism.

The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) once produced a joint manifesto with the late Mr. A. J. Cook, which said that Socialism had nothing in common with Capitalism, but that it had to do with human beings, and sometimes hardly that. There can be no doubt that they have nothing in common. They are quite different things, and in spite of the newly-wed affinity between the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) and the Socialist party, he would no doubt confirm that fact. What has happened under the present system in the last 70 or 80 years? We all know that Karl Marx was over here for a number of years and sat in the British Museum, wearing out his trousers and his temper. He hated the English people like poison—and poisoned them. What has happened since? Since that time enormous progress has been made. I have only to quote men like Benjamin Turner or the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). Speaking at a Labour party conference in Birmingham the right hon. Member invited all those who felt depressed to go to any public school, a school in a slum district and look at the children, from the babies to the boys and girls in the upper classes, and pessimism would fly away. I could give many other quotations, but there is not time. But look at what Capitalism has done in regard to magnificent local hospitals and the development of social services such as were unknown when the right hon. Gentleman was a boy, and before he had turned his mind to politics. Have the social services been reduced since 1928, when the last Debate of this sort took place? Not at all. They have been increased. Has the purchasing power of the pound declined? Not at all. It has been increased. Although wages have declined some £400,000,000 or 500,000,000 since the days of inflation, the purchasing power of the pound still enables the public to buy bigger quantities than before of the necessaries and even of the luxuries of life.

Let me refer to Sir Walter Citrine. When Socialists tell the truth they show that there is no need for Socialism, but when Socialists talk Socialism they seem to think that there is no necessity to tell the truth. Sir Walter Citrine gave a whole list of improvements in the condition of the people and in the social services of this country, and pointed out the untruthfulness of the argument that the poor are getting poorer and the rich richer. He described the efforts of the trade unions to protect the workers, and their success, which we all acknowledge, but he gave a long list of improvements, just as the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley did, a most wonderful list. We all admit that there is not perfection in this world, but we say that this is evidence from hon. Members opposite that things are not so bad in this country.

Hon. Members opposite have chaffed me about a book of which I was a joint author, in which the conditions in Russia are described. If the Russians had said that they were going to do certain things, no matter what the cost in human suffering and in human life, no matter how long they took they were going to do them, it would have been all right; but do not call it Socialism. They have always condemned the industrial revolution in this country, they have always condemned mass production. They have always condemned piece work. I have been at Socialist meetings and have asked questions about piece work in Russia. Socialists say that there could not be any piece work in a Socialist country, but I have made the speaker inform his audience that there is piece work in Russia and more speeding up than in this or in any other country, a speeding up of a most disgraceful kind. Everything that they have condemned the Russians are now doing. They said that they were going to do away with the middleman and produce a model man. They have only produced a muddled man. There is more lack of planning in Russia than anywhere else. They have failed in quantity, quality, time, cost and in the human factor. That is not the standard of life which our people want. And do not let us say that it is Socialism, and try these experiments. There is no plan whatever from the Party opposite. I can demonstrate that by what they say about the distressed areas. Look at what is said in the report of the General Council of the Trades Union Congress in respect of the distressed areas. At the congress at Margate a committee reported: In their opinion large-scale unemployment would continue for a considerable period of time. They could see no series of work schemes or economic readjustments in the near future, whether introduced by a Conservative or a Socialist Government which would absorb the majority of workers who are at present deprived of their livelihood. What is the hurry for Socialism? Why cannot we go on working with the Capitalist system which has produced the many benefits mentioned by Socialists themselves Then there is Mr. Ernest Bevin who, much to his honour, said that he did not pretend and the General Council did not pretend, that within their brains they could produce remedies for the depresed areas. I know that hon. Members opposite do not like Mr. Ernest Bevin or the speeches which are made by Sir Walter Citrine, but, after all, these men are their paymasters, they are the employers of the Socialist party. They have them on a string. I wish I had the eloquence of the hon. Member who sat for Tottenham in the last Parliament.

The members of the Socialist League have done the country a great kindness, an act of humanity, in pointing out the dangers of the situation and what would happen. Those who have read "The Problems of a Socialist Government" and Mr. Mitchison's "The First Workers' Government," with its certificate of merit from the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps), from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), from Lord Passfield, from Mr. Cole—who I believe is economic adviser to the Socialist party—and others, will realise the nonsensical things which they say about Capitalism and Socialism. If hon. Members opposite understood them, they would laugh as I do. I will tell the House the sort of things these gentlemen recommend and hope will happen. Here is one of them. They declare that the Socialist Government will exploit the natives of South Africa for gold, and, having declared that capitalists are not entitled to their savings from foreign investments, they declare they would continue to exploit the foreign workers to pay them the interest instead. Of course, hon. Gentlemen opposite would be very pleased at that, but would the workers of other countries consent to be exploited by them and get nothing in return? The late Mr. Wise, who was the Socialist party's expert on banking and who wanted to nationalise banking, said they would try to retain London as the banking centre of the world to make profits out of the rest of the world.

Perhaps the best of the whole lot, to anybody who knows anything about it, is this one. Professor Cole is a gentleman who writes books costing 7s. 6d. or 15s. more often, I think, than he sells them. This is my final illustration of the nonsense that is talked by these professors and intellectual gentlemen. In his books "The Next Ten Years in British Social and Economic Policy," he says: As industry passes under public control, and inequalities of wealth are removed, the State will need to adopt new methods for securing the requisite accumulation of capital, and the development of company reserves suggests what forms these new methods can take. Now, what on earth that means or how any country can know what profits it is going to make in the next year—well, as anybody who has ever been in business will know, that statement is most ridiculous. And these are the people in whom our friends opposite pin their faith absolutely and utterly. The Communists and Socialists are all of the same breed.


I object to that.


I am glad to see our Communist is with us. What is the difference? The Communist is a gentleman who thinks that he can bring about Socialism by a bloody revolution. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The Socialists in this country think they can bring it about by bleeding taxation. I propose to illustrate that by a reference to the programme of hon. Gentlemen opposite. According to their own Chancellor of the Exchequer that programme was to cost an extra £1,000,000,000 a year in taxation. I heard them complain yesterday that £300,000,000 extra was to be spent on defence but they themselves proposed a programme which was to cost £1,000,000,000 a year. Lord Snowden himself declared that was Bolshevism run mad. In this Motion they have taken up a false position. They have taken, as they always do, only one half the balance sheet. They have overlooked all the good things to the credit of capitalism and trotted out all the bad things which everybody knows and acknowledges.

As I see a representative of the cooperative movement in his place, I would merely add this. I have always maintained and always shall maintain that the co-operative movement in this country is a good capitalist institution. But it could not pay any dividends in a Socialist country. It has never paid any dividends in Russia. The co-operative societies have never succeeded in Russia. They have been eaten up, as has been the case in every other department of the Russian system, by bureaucracy in the most violent and disgusting manner. The societies have either been suppressed or, as they say in Russia, "liquidated." The experience of the co-operative movement in Russia is not a good recommendation for Socialism. Nor are the results of Socialism in Russia generally such a recommendation, because the masses of the people there are in a state of poverty which is almost unexampled and every plan has failed, as to quantity, quality, time and cost. I say "Let us stick to what we have got and to the system which has produced enormous benefits." If any hon. Gentleman opposite can show me a railway train, or an omnibus which has been produced "for profit and not for use," I shall be glad to know of it.

10.25 p.m.


I am sure the whole House joins with me in regretting that the hon. Member for Roth-well (Mr. Lunn) is not here to move his Motion, particularly when we know the sad cause of that inability. I am sure also that the whole House is grateful to the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Paling) for introducing the subject which he has introduced. It cannot but be of advantage to the House to have an opportunity of discussing across the Floor a subject which is of such importance and which bulks so largely in our electoral campaigns in the country. The reason why I rise to say a few words in support of the Amendment is that I do it out of friendliness to hon. Members opposite. Nobody could have sat through this Debate and heard the eloquent speeches made by those hon. Gentlemen who have so eloquently deplored those faults in our social system which have yet to be remedied without feeling that there was a great and a sincere desire on their part to contribute of their best towards a solution of the difficulties which still afflict society. It went to my heart to hear all this ingenuity, public-spiritedness, and intelligence wasted and thrown aside on this quack remedy of Socialism. It is like the melancholy spectacle of the sincere seeker for health who gets turned aside in his endeavours by the allurements of some advertisement for a patent medicine.

I am fortified in that view by the method of presentation of the case that we have had from hon. Members opposite. They have adopted precisely the method that you see adopted in the patent medicine advertisements, namely, a series of startling descriptions of physical illness. "Do you have spots in front of your eyes?" "Do you feel a sense of fullness after meals?" By this lamentable painting of only the darkest side of our social picture, and refusing for a moment to look upon the bright side, they hope we shall be scared by the terrific contemplation of those horrors into swallowing their particular cure.

When I come to the Motion, I find a certain sense of difficulty in following precisely its meaning. The hon. Member who moved it so eloquently speaks of the capitalist system, and I suppose those words convey a clear impression to his mind. I wish they conveyed as clear-cut an impression to my mind. It is easy to see that he is contrasting in this Motion two systems—one the system which he wishes to replace and the other his own system of public control and ownership. Now that is a system that exists on paper. It has been worked out as a complete theory, and he would have us assume that this other system, the capitalist system, against which he wishes to contrast that one, is a theoretical system of the same kind. But in this Motion he is comparing two quite unlike things. One, the Socialist system of public ownership and control, is a system in a theoretical sense. It has been imagined and written out, but the capitalist system is not a theory of action at all. It is, in fact, simply the way in which humanity, in spite of the arguments of hon. Members opposite, has chosen to conduct its own affairs in all countries and for all time. The system of the private ownership of the means of production and distribution has undoubtedly characterised the whole of our economic history of which we have any record at all.

The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Marklew) spoke of a golden age just before the industrial revolution in this country, when there was a great deal, as he told us, of simple contentment and security, a time which he contrasted unfavourably with the present time. But in that time before the industrial revolution there were these very features which are inveighed against this Motion. There was this private ownership and control of the means of production and distribution. There was not then any social order based upon the public ownership and democratic control of the instruments of production and distribution. If the hon. Member instances that period as a period of relative prosperity and contentment, the whole of his argument goes when he asserts that our present distresses are due to the absence of something that was absent then. The capitalist system is of no such recent origin. When we are asked to do away with private ownership of the means of production and private enterprise, which have characterised the whole history of humanity from its earliest start, we are asked to make very sweeping changes. The speeches of hon. Members opposite pointed to the evils of the present system, evils which are inherent in our civilisation, and I would not minimise them, although I would like to say a word on the other side. I do not think, however, that a single speech completed the logical process which this Motion asks the House to accept, namely, that these difficulties are due to the private ownership of the means of production. No speech proved that those difficulties would be in any way removed or palliated if we were to adopt the system of public ownership and control which is recommended in the Motion.

It would be very true to say that the Motion accuses Capitalism and that it is not Socialism which is on its trial. When we are dealing with a matter of this kind involving public affairs, hon. Members cannot ask the House to accept a Motion which destroys the present basis of society unless the House has a clear idea of how society is to be worked in the absence of that system. It is, therefore, idle to attempt to consider this question without knowing what hon. Members opposite would put in its place. When I look at the Motion a little further I see that there are two elements in the system which is recommended, and I would say a word about them because I do not think we are as far apart as may be thought. First, there is a question of public ownership. It is true that in this country the means of production are owned privately. The farmer owns his equipment and his stock; the journeymen workman owns his tools; the private person owns the shares in companies; and the bigger companies own the means of production. If one considers the distresses of our times—and we may be thankful they are no worse—we find that the real grievance of the people is not that there is so much private ownership, but that there is too little.

There is not an hon. Member who does not agree that the innermost desire of the great bulk of the population would be met if private property were owned more extensively. What we want is not less private ownership, but more of it, and it seems an extraordinary remedy that would have the effect of destroying all the ownership that exists. It is clear that the Motion proposes public ownership, and it may be supposed that if the public owns something each member of the public has some sort of shadowy ownership in it.


The public own a road, own a sewer, own a water supply and the use of those services is open to us all. Those are services provided by the collective effort of the community and we all share them and own them.


In that sense we all own underground railways or railway companies. [HON. MEMBERS: "No !"] I ask the right hon. Gentleman to follow my argument. I started by saying there was too little private ownership and proceeded from that to say that if you have only public ownership you have no private ownership at all, and instead of meeting the desire of the people to own property you defeat it.


If you own a road that does not mean that you can take away pieces of it.


I own many things in a public capacity. I own the Post Office—the right hon. Gentleman and I own the Post Office—but let either of us go to a post office and try to get a halfpenny stamp for nothing and we shall see how shadowy is the ownership. These Motions calling for the public ownership of property really mean the dispossession of all people who own property at the present time and the handing of it over to other people. We used to be told that "God gave the land to the people," but these Motions calling for the nationalisation of the land mean, really, taking away the land from people, large and small, who own it now, and giving it to the Civil Service.

To come to the question of public control. It is wrong to say or to assume that the present system is devoid of public control. That might be so if hon. Members were contrasting in their own minds their own system of public ownership and control with some fancy system where laissez faire runs riot and there is no protection from the full blast of the most doctrinaire mid-Victorian Liberalism. Under our present system we have a great deal of public control. If the right hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members opposite are going to visit upon me and my friends the sins of the fathers of the mid-Victorian period they have come to the wrong place. He ought to approach those hon. Members of the Liberal party who sit on the benches in front of him. We have always tried by factory Acts, trade union Acts and other Measures of the kind to give some measure of public control to mitigate the full harshness of economic Liberalism.

I can tell hon. Members that they will never find this Government slack or behindhand in imposing any sort of public control which may be necessary in the public interest. But I gather that does not satisfy hon. Members. They wish the public control of industry to go further than merely guarding a framework in which it can act. They wish it to extend to management, they want the public to conduct the management of these businesses. That they can never do. The public can never manage a business any more than the public can speak down the telephone. Public management in that sense will have to be done by some man or woman whom you appoint to do the job for you. If hon. Members will be kind enough to follow me in what I am saying, they will see that if you have public control in that sense all you have done has been to change one boss for another. You have pat in the place of the private manager a manager who is a servant of the State. You have exchanged King Log for King Stork. Are you any better off? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] Hon. Members seem very certain, but I am not so sure.

Let us see how we stand at the present time. If there is a dispute with the management of a company at the present time because that management is abusive or tyrannous, you have always the State to come to, but if the management were also the State and if the one universal employer were the State, that State, if you went to it with a grievance, would be judge and advocate in its own cause, and I very much doubt whether the liberty of the people of this country would be what it is to-day. I would ask hon. Members who are proposing this great change to consider another point. No hon. Member has not, at one time or another, received information from a constituent about a hard case relating to a pension or some other payment out of public funds. Hon. Members, particularly those who have been in office and have had to administer some of those hard cases, know how you get a case where, if the money were your own, you would give the money without a moment's hesitation, because there is ale feeling that the woman, say, has had a hard time and deserves assistance. If you are a public servant, and it is not your money but the money of the public with which you are dealing, you must not go outside your regulations or you will be false to your trust. What does that mean? It means that in the present system of private ownership, wherein a man can deal with his money, within limits, how he likes, an elasticity and a mercy are imparted to society which would disappear entirely if it were tied up in the swaddling bands of regulations. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is not true of the manager of a multiple firm !"] The manager of a multiple firm can always get authority to deal with a hard case in a way in which a public servant cannot.

The efficiency of a publicly-managed business is left entirely out of account by hon. Members. Hon. Members always seem to proceed on two assumptions, neither of which is completely true. The first is that we have solved the problem of production, and that we shall go on automatically and for ever producing in our present volume. If it be a fact, as is supported by hon. Members on this side, that a privately-owned business has a great advantage in economy and efficiency of production, and if it be true that a publicly-owned and managed business falls short in that efficiency of production, I would ask hon. Members to consider that they have not to deal with a static volume of production, but they have to take steps to maintain that volume before there can be any form of public distribution. The trouble is that, by the drastic changes that are proposed, you might easily have such a shrinkage in production that the problem of distribution would become merely academic.

This country has made its own experiments in government. Mankind, ever since the dawn of its history on this planet, has been trying to devise political means of living together, and all sorts of political expedients have been tried. Not one of them has been free from blemishes, imperfections, injustices and wrong, but I venture to say that the system in this country, with all its faults, shows that we have achieved at this moment a state of society which, although it has many faults, still provides, so far as the great comforts of civilisation are concerned, freedom from force and fraud, freedom from hunger—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Let hon. Members remember their history—freedom from oppression, liberty of speech, liberty of conscience and liberty of religion such as no other society has ever paralleled. Yet we are asked at this moment to accept the Socialist basis of the exercise of public control.

I would ask hon. Members to notice that the Motion which has been moved to-day is in the identical terms in which it was moved 13 years ago by Mr. Snowden. When we consider the events that have taken place in those 13 years, and consider the fact that they have not imposed upon hon. Members opposite the alteration of one syllable of their Motion, I think that, having regard to the passage of time and the momentous events that have occurred, it will be agreed that hon. Members opposite are a good second to Rip Van Winkle. What does this Motion involve? It involves the totalitarian State. Whenever people get themselves into the habit of considering that the State is more important, wiser, or better than the men and women who compose it, they are on a declivity which leads irresistibly to dictatorship. I hope the House will ponder long before it accepts any Motion of this kind. We have nothing to learn from these new methods of government; we have more order and liberty here than anywhere else in the world; and I hope the House will reject a proposal that we should, at this of all times, abandon the free system under which our greatness has grown and under which alone our liberties can be preserved.

10.47 p.m.


I have only asked for a few minutes in which to close this Debate, because I did not wish to take up the time of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House on a private Members' night. I am sure that my decision has been justified by the admirable speeches to which we have listened. This has been a typical House of Commons Debate—a good-tempered and temperate Debate, which neither the pleasantries of the Financial Secretary nor the provocations which were shot out by the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. M. Samuel), like the quills upon the fretful porcupine, could disturb. But any foreigner who might be here, and who might imagine, from the good-tempered chaff from one side of the House to the other, that there were no very grave issues underlying our discussion, would be much mistaken, because there is a vast cleavage of attitude between those on the opposite side of the House who think that what has been and is to-day must ever be—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—and those who, on this side of the House, think that essential changes have got to be made in the industrial system of society if this country is to preserve its position and if the cracks in the social system, which recent Debates have disclosed more and more clearly, are to be got rid of and a whole social system introduced in its place.

There are two things upon which, apparently, the whole House on both sides is agreed. The first is that very grave evils are displaying themselves in our system at the present time. The second is one which is perfectly clear to all of us, and which was enlarged upon by the Financial Secretary, namely, that, whereas the system of Capitalism, though in a changing form, has been with us for a considerable time, Socialism has not yet been put into concrete form at all. I make an exception of the case of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics because we all recognise that experiment is very new, and I am not going to dogmatise as a result of that experiment. But I would like hon. Members opposite to contrast their attitude towards the system in that country to-day with what it was 10 years ago. To-day they are wondering to what extent it is going to succeed, whereas 10 years ago there was scarcely one hon. Member on that side who did not prophesy that within 10 years the whole system would have broken down. I admit that that system has not existed long enough to enable us to obtain a complete picture of what is taking place there.

It is true that Socialism is a work of imagination—[Interruption]—because it has not yet been put into practice. But that is no reason why it should not be put into practice. If hon. Members opposite had gone on the principle which is represented by their jeers to-day they would still be living in the conditions of primitive man, and they would not have attempted to make any of the experiments that man, in his determination to progress, has made, and which some man saw in imagination before the more laggard of his fellows were prepared to take that step in advance. It is only recently that circumstances have arisen which make Socialism the inevitable thing which it has become. Time was when the capitalist system, unfair as it always was to a large section of the people, was comparatively successful. As the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Peat) said, it provided individual initiative and it did deliver the goods. It went on producing more and more, and people said that capitalism had only to go on for a little while before everyone would have what they should have to satisfy their full needs of life. It has only been in the last decade or quarter of a century that the prophecy has been belied. When capitalism produced more and more, instead of all the wants of humanity being satisfied it has simply resulted in the unemployment of men and women and the rusting of machinery which could not be used. Therefore we have come to a stage that no one fore-saw, when capitalism, instead of delivering the goods, is creating unemployment and the disuse of machinery. We are having all kinds of Bills like the Cotton Bill to dispose of what is supposed to be redundant machinery. We are having all the proposals of the Minister of Agriculture for preventing that abundance which otherwise would be for the benefit of mankind.

There is a second change which has taken place only in recent years. It is true that in the earlier stages capitalism consisted of a great number of small competitive units and resulted in considerable individual initiative. But all that has changed. Capitalism to-day does not consist of a large number of small competitive units. It consists of a smaller and smaller number of what are very nearly monopolies and the initiative has to a very large extent gone. The really capable founders of the capitalism of the nineteenth century have been replaced by two sets of people. In the first place there are the salaried managers, who are not owners in any sense of the word, and in the second place there are the investors, who are more and more divorced, as the hon. Gentleman himself has good reason to know, from the actual control of industry. Therefore, the changeover from the existing form of capitalism to control by the community is a very much smaller one than it ever was in those old days. The Financial Secretary said he pitied the people who became the servants of the State. I should think that falls rather ill from him. He certainly does not regard it as a disadvantage to be employed by the State.

But there is still another change that has taken place in quite recent times that makes a very great deal of difference. I remember quite well when the one thing that employers asked was to be let alone. The Financial Secretary pointed out that that was largely the plea of the Liberal school of thought. But every employer, whether Liberal or Conservative, took the view, "For Heaven's sake, leave me alone. I am quite able to manage my business for myself." Is there a single large industry to-day in which the employers are saying the same thing. One industry after another is coming to the Government cap in hand asking for financial support and assistance in order to run their business. The Minister for Agriculture comes here almost every day with some proposal to regulate and to give quotas. The Financial Secretary himself brings forward orders under the tariff scheme. The President of the Board of Trade asks us to find subsidies in order that the shipping trade may make adequate profits. There is a well known motto in British tradition that he who pays the piper calls the tune. It may be that under the present Government private Capitalism can get away with having the piper paid for it and calling the tune at the same time. It will certainly not be allowed to do that for very long.

Finally, I say that we are coming to a time when everyone is recognising that industry has to be planned. The present system works out badly. As the hon. Member for Darlington frankly recognised there is need for planning and for State intervention so far as the distressed areas are concerned. Experience is that there cannot be planning by those who are running industry themselves. The only body that can really plan industry must

be the community, and what we have to choose is this: Either we as a community have to be planned for and controlled by the trusts, or we have to have the planning and controlling and the ownership of those trusts. Between those two alternatives the House will have to decide.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 100; Noes, 121.

Division No. 91.] AYES [11.0 p.m.
Adams, D. (Consett) Hardie, G. D. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Adamson, W. M. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Riley, B.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'Isbr.) Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Ritson, J.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Hicks, E. G. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Barnes, A. J. Jagger, J. Rowson, G.
Batey, J. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Sexton, T. M.
Benson, G. John, W. Short, A.
Broad, F. A. Kelly, W. T. Silverman, S. S.
Buchanan, G. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Simpson, F. B.
Burke, W. A. Kirby, B. V. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Charleton, H. C. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Cruse, W. S. Lathan, G.
Cocks, F. S. Lawson, J. J. Sorensen, R. W.
Daggar, G. Leach, W. Stephen, C.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Lee, F. Stewart, W. J (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Leonard, W. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Leslie, J. R. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Logan, D. G. Tinker, J. J.
Dobble, W. Macdonald, G. (Ince) Viant, S. P.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) McEntee, V. La T. Walkden, A. G.
Ede, J. C. Maclean, N. Walker, J.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) MacMillan, M. (Western Isles) Watkins, F. C.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Mothers, G. Watson, W. McL.
Frankel, D. Maxton, J. Westwood, J.
Gallacher, W. Messer, F. Whiteley, W.
Gardner, B. W. Milner, Major J. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Garro-Jones, G. M. Montague, F. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Gibbins, J. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.) Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Muff, G. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Naylor, T. E. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Grenfell, D. R. Oliver, G. H. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Parker, H. J. H.
Groves, T. E. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Potts, J. Mr. Paling and Mr. T. Smith.
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Pritt, D. N.
Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Cross, R. H. Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmou'h)
Alien, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd) Cruddas, Col. B. Holdsworth, H.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil) Holmes, J. S.
Aske, Sir R. W. De Chair, S. S. Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Dodd, J. S. Hudson. Cant. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Duggan. H. J. James, Wing-Commander A. W.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Duncan, J. A. L. Joel, D. J. B.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)
Baxter, A. Beverley Ellis, Sir G. Jones, L. (Swansea. W.)
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Elliston, G. S. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)
Boulton, W. W. Elmley, Viscount Lamb, Sir J. O.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Emrys-Evans, P. V. Leckie, J. A.
Boyce, H. Leslie Erskine Hill, A. G. Leech, Dr. J. W.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Everard, W. L. Little, Sir E Graham-
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Foot, D. M. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Fremantle, Sir F. E. Lloyd, G. W.
Bull, B. B. Furness, S. N. Loftus, P. C.
Burghley, Lord George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Lumley, Capt. L. R.
Cary, R. A. Gibson, C. G. Lyons, A. M.
Christie, J. A. Gridley, Sir A. B. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)
Clarke, F. E. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) McKie, J. H.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Grimston, R. V. Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Hannah, I. C. Magnay, T.
Craven-Ellis, W. Hartington, Marquess of Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Markham, S. F. Remer, J. R. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Sutcliffe, H.
Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick) Ropner, Colonel L. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Moreing, A. C. Rothschild,.1. A. de Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. Rowlands, G. Wakefield, W. W.
Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Salt, E. W. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester) Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney) Wallace, Captain Euan
Nall, Sir J. Scott, Lord William Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Seely, Sir H, M. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Orr-Ewing, I. L. Selley, H. R. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Perkins, W. R. D. Shute, Colonel Sir J. J. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Petherick, M. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Radford, E. A. Southby, Comdr. A. R. J. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.) Womersley, Sir W. J.
Ramsden, Sir E. Storey, S. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Strickland, Captain W. F.
Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. Peat and Mr. Channon.

Question put, "That the proposed words be there added."

The House divided: Ayes, 114; Noes, 101.

Division No. 92.] AYES. [11.10 p.m.
Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Gridley, Sir A. B. Petherick, M.
Alien, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd) Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Radford, E. A.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Grimston, R. V. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.
Asks, Sir R. W. Hannah, I. C. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Hartington, Marquess of Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Remer, J. R.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Holdsworth, H. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Holmes, J. S. Ropner, Colonel L.
Baxter, A. Beverley Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Rothschild, J. A. de
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Rowlands, G.
Boulton, W. W. James, Wing-Commander A. W. Salt, E. W.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Joel, D. J. B. Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)
Boyce, H. Leslie Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Scott, Lord William
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Jones, L. (Swansea, W.) Seely, Sir H. M.
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Lamb, Sir J. Q. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Bull, B. B. Leckle, J. A. Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.
Burghley, Lord Leech, Dr. J. W. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Cary, R. A. Little, Sir E. Graham- Storey, S.
Christie, J. A. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Lloyd, G. W. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)
Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Loftus, P. C. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Craven-Ellis, W. Lyons, A. M. Sutcliffe, H.
Cross, R. H. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Cruddas, Col. B. McKie, J. H. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil) Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees) Wakefield, W. W.
De Chair, S. S. Magnay, T. Wallace, Captain Euan
Dodd, J. S. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Ward, Lieut-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Duggan, H. J. Markham, S. F. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Duncan, J. A. L. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Ellis, Sir G. Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick) Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchln)
Elliston, G. S. Moreing, A. C. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Elmley, Viscount Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Womersley, Sir W. J.
Erskine Hill, A. G. Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Everard, W. L. Nall, Sir J.
Fremantle, Sir F. E. Nicolson, Hon. H. G. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Furness, S. N. Orr-Ewing, I. L. Mr. Peat and Mr. Channon.
Gibson, C. G. Perkins, W. R. D.
Adams, D. (Consett) Dobble, W. Henderson, J. (Ardwick)
Adamson, W. M. Dunn, E. (Bother Valley) Henderson, T. (Tradeston)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'Isbr.) Ede, J. C. Hicks, E. G.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwelity) Jagger, J.
Barnes, A. J. Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)
Batey, J. Frankel, D. John, W.
Benson, G. Gallacher, W. Kelly, W. T.
Broad, F. A. Gardner, B. W. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.
Buchanan, G. Garro-Jones, G. M. Kirby. B. V.
Burke, W. A. Gibbins, J. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.
Charleton, H. C. Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Lathan, G.
Cluse, W. S. Green, W. H. (Deptford) Lawson. J. J.
Cocks, F. S. Grenfell, D. R. Leach, W.
Dagger, G. Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Lee, F.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Groves, T. E. Leonard, W.
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Leslie, J. R.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Logan, D. G.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Hardie, G. D. Macdonald, G. (Ince)
McEntee, V. La T. Richards, R. (Wrexham) Viant, S. P.
Maclean, N. Riley, B. Walkden, A. G.
MacMillan, M. (Western Isles) Ritson, J. Walker, J.
Marklew, E. Robinson. W. A. (St. Helens) Watkins, F. C.
Mothers, G. Rowson, G. Watson. W. McL.
Maxton, J. Sexton, T. M. Westwood, J.
Messer, F. Short, A. Whiteley, W.
Milner, Major J. Silverman. S. S. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Montague, F. Simpson, F. B. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.) Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe) Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
Mutt, G. Smith, E. (Stoke) Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Naylor, T. E. Sorensen, R. W. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Oliver, G. H. Stephen, C. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Parker, H. J. H. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Potts, J. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Mr. Paling and Mr. T. Smith.
Pritt, D. N. Tinker, J. J.

Main Question, as amended, put.

The House divided: Ayes, 84: Noes, 72.

Division No. 93.] AYES. [11.18 p.m.
Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Gibson, C. G. Nicolson, Hon. H. G.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd) Gridley, Sir A. B. Orr, Ewing, I. L.
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Petherick, M.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Grimston, R. V. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Hannah, I. C. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Baxter, A. Beverley Hartington, Marquess of Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portem'h) Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Remer, J. R.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Holdsworth, H. Ropner, Colonel L.
Boyce, H. Leslie Holmes, J. S. Salt, E. W.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Scott, Lord William
Bull, B. B. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Seely, Sir H. M.
Burghley, Lord James, Wing-Commander A. W. Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.
Cary, R. A. Joel, D. J. B. Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Leckle, J. A. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Leech, Dr. J. W. Storey, S.
Craven-Ellis, W. Little, Sir E. Graham- Strickland, Captain W. F.
Cross, R. H. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil) Lloyd, G. W. Sutcliffe, H.
De Chair, S. S. Lyons, A. M. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Dodd, J. S. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Duncan, J. A. L. McKle, J. H. Wakefield, W. W.
Ellis, Sir G. Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Elliston, G. S. Magnay, T. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Elmley, Viscount Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Erskine Hill, A. G. Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick) Womersley, Sir W. J.
Everard, W. L. Moreing, A. C.
Fremantle. Sir F. E. Morison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Furness, S. N. Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester) Mr Peat and Mr. Channon.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'Isbr.) Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Potts, J.
Barnes, A. J. Jagger, J. Pritt, D. N.
Benson, G. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Ritson, J.
Broad, F. A. John, W. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Buchanan, G. Kelly, W. T. Rowson, G.
Burke, W. A. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Sexton, T. M.
Cocks, F. S. Kirby, B. V. Silverman, S. S.
Daggar, G. Lansbury, Rt. Hon, G. Simpson, F. B.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Lathan, G. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Lawson, J. J. Sorensen. R. W.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Leach, W. Stephen, C.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Leonard, W. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght.n-le-sp'ng)
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Leslie, J. R. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Ede, J. C. Logan, D. G. Tinker, J. J.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Macdonald, G. (Ince) Viant, S. P.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Maclean, N. Watson, W. McL.
Garro-Jones, G. M. MacMillan, M. (Western Isles) Westwood, J.
Gibbins, J. Marklew, E. Williams. E. J. (Ogmore)
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Mathers, G. Williams T. (Don Valley)
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Maxton, J. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Grenfell, D. R. Messer, F. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Milner, Major J. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Groves. T. E. Montague, F.
Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Ha'kn'y, S) TELLERS FOR THE NOES —
Hardie, G. D. Oliver, G. H. Mr. Paling and Mr. T. Smith.

Resolved, That this House, believing that the abolition of private interest in the means of production and distribution would impoverish the people and aggravate existing evils, and that far-reaching measures of social redress are being accomplished without overturning the present basis of society, is unalterably opposed to any scheme of legislation which would deprive the State of the benefits of individual initiative.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

  1. ADJOURNMENT. 17 words
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