HC Deb 11 May 1936 vol 312 cc117-37

7.59 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 8, line 23, to leave out Subsection (1), and to insert: (1) There shall be charged on the Consolidated Fund in each year of the present reign such sums as may be required for the payment of pensions already granted or hereafter to be granted to persons who by the performance of duties to the public, or by their useful discoveries in science and attainments in literature, the arts, or learning, have merited the gracious consideration of the Sovereign and the gratitude of their country; but the sums so charged for the grant Of new pensions shall not in any year exceed four thousand pounds. Subject to the provisions of this Sub-section Sections five and six of the Civil List Act, 1837, shall continue to apply. It will be seen from the names of hon. Members who have been kind enough to put their names to the Amendment that this is a non-party affair. It is one of those small matters in which all sections of the House will be glad and proud to take a part. I hope that we may even move that immovable organ the bowels of the Treasury. When I mentioned this matter first I received a reply from the Chancellor of the Exchequer for which I thank him. It is not necessary, I hope, to justify what I may call the spiritual foundation of this proposal, in the British Parliament, the heart of the British race, which has spread its language, literature and learning throughout the civilised world and beyond. I should like to make one or two practical points in connection with the Amendment. The first point is that we should increase the annual sum available for Civil List pensions for persons who, in the words of the Amendment (which, with a few slight alterations, I have taken from the Act of 1837): by the performance of duties to the public, or by their useful discoveries in science, and attainments in literature, the arts, op learning, have merited the gracious consideration of the Sovereign and the gratitude of their country. At the moment the sum fixed by the Act of 1837 is £1,200 and this Amendment proposes that that sum shall be increased to £4,000. May I say at this stage that it is such a rare thing for a private Member to be able to propose the increase of a grant of public money recommended by the Ministers of the Crown, and to be in order, that I hope the Committee will take advantage of it and press their rights to the fullest possible limit, especially as we find ourselves at the dinner-hour, when, as we know, anything may happen.

My practical points are these: The Chancellor of the Exchequer in his interesting speech in proposing the Financial Resolutions which are the foundation of the Bill mentioned that owing to the generosity of His Majesty and the sagacity of His Majesty's Government a saving of £36,000 or £37,000 was being made on the Civil List this year. I suggest that out of that saving some small sum at least might be devoted to the purposes mentioned in this Amendment. Secondly, when this sum of £1,200 was fixed in 1837 conditions were very different from those of to-day. To take an example, the Civil List of Her Majesty Queen Victoria was £385,000. To-day, very rightly and properly, the Civil List is £410,000 and in the last reign it was £470,000. But the figure of £1,200 for artists and others remains the same. Other figures have altered. In 1837 the population was, I think, about 15,000,000; to-day it is about 40,000,000. The revenue then was not £80,000,000; to-day it is something like £800,000,000. In those days these, I suppose, were the only Government pensions granted. At the present time we rightly grant something like £40,000,000 in pensions, and the sum I suggest—£4,000—is only one in 10,000 of that figure. Apart from that the struggle for existence in the artistic world was not, I think, so severe in 1837 as it is going to be next year, 100 years later, in 1937.

Having regard also to mechanical inventions which come about every year and which can in the twinkling of an eye sweep aside a livelihood, especially in the domain of music and painting, it will be seen that everything has changed since 1837, when this figure was fixed, except this figure. In fairness I should like to say, because I do not like to discredit my country unnecessarily, that things are not quite as bad as they appear. The figure of £1,200 is not, as some people think, the total figure distributed in pensions every year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, I think, will tell you that the total figure distributed every year is more in the neighbourhood of £20,000. This £1,200 represents what is given in new pensions every year. Well, £20,000 is not a figure which staggers me when it is devoted to this purpose, and especially when it is compared with the total figure of £40,000,000 paid in pensions otherwise.

I suggest that no civilised country having once accepted, as we have accepted, the principle of distributing pensions of this kind, would be satisfied that it was doing its duty and serving that principle sufficiently by distributing only £1,200 in new pensions every year—a sum which comes down to £60, £80, never I think more than £100, in individual cases. For the satisfaction and the reassurance of hon. Members who rightly fear reckless distribution of public money, who perhaps are not satisfied with all modern manifestations of the arts, and who may think of casual benefactions for crooners and composers of foxtrots and so on, I would say that there are after all statutory qualifications for these pensions. There must be merit, there must be service and duty.

I am not suggesting that everyone who dabbles in the arts and fails through laziness or any other cause should be benefited by the State in this way. I think it is the Prime Minister who decides who shall receive these pensions, and that is a guarantee that they will be properly allocated. Nobody, I think, need fear that the money will be improperly disposed of. It may be said, of course, that in some years there will not be a sufficient number of applicants who are worthy to receive these pensions. I think it is very possible that may be true in some years, although I am bound to say I could almost make a bet that this year and in most years of my life I should be able to find sufficient people to lead to the Prime Minister and say, "Here are worthy people to receive these benefactions from the State."

If there is any difficulty of that sort the answer is that it is not necessary to spend this money every year. I think it very likely that the contemptible smallness of this figure has in many cases prevented people coming to the Crown and applying for pensions. Somebody may say that, after all, there are benevolent funds and charities in various branches of the arts. So there are, but I do not think the State should evade obligations by referring to the existence of private charities. We must remember, too, that we are at the beginning of what we all hope will be a long reign, and whatever sum is fixed this evening will be fixed for the whole reign. I do not know what will happen before the end of the reign. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and his successors, pursuing the course of taxation so familiar to us all, may find the springs of charity, which are already running low, running dry. Then perhaps these pensions will be the only resource to which the recipients of them may turn.

I hope that no Member of the Committee will think that, because of my connection with what I hope I may call an art, I am thinking only of literature or writing and journalism. Indeed I am thinking more of music and painting, as I think the people engaged in those arts are people who at present need consideration even more than those in other forms of art. And apart from art there is science and research. Imagine a man like Professor J. B. S. Haldane—not that I suggest he is in any need of a pension or ever likely to be—but imagine a man like that, surrounded by his devoted assistants, continuously exposing himself to all sorts of perilous experiments, shutting himself up in, glass cases, consuming poisons, exposing himself to extraordinary dangers to discover cures of diseases, imagine a man like that who goes too far in that kind of experiment and finally finds himself unable to pursue that kind of work. What a terrible thing it would be that that man should not be able to go to the head of the State and say, "Sir I have done this for my country, give me a few pounds with which to end my days."

I do not think I can add anything more, except to say that it is an old-established habit in this country to neglect if not to despise the artist until he is rich and successful, until he is fashionable. Then we cannot say or do too much for him. That was never a good habit. I am not pleading for those who are successful. I am pleading for those who have laboured faithfully and well in the field of thought, in the field of research, in, the field of creative art, who find at the end of it all that they have gathered nothing for themselves except perhaps the memory of a short-lived fame. It is on behalf of those people that I ask the compassion of this House and of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.


May I ask whether this will include legitimate drama?



3.12 p.m.


I would like very briefly to support this Amendment, which is one that must appeal to Members of all parties. I should like first of all to congratulate our official humorist in this House on being the only private Member who has ever been able to get round the most rigid rule of the Treasury—so rigid that no one ever believed it possible to move anything that would in any way impose a charge on public funds and free us from the iron grip of the Treasury. I feel sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will by sympathetic to this Amendment. Britain does so little officially for artists, scientists, men of letters and those who labour in the realm of the mind. After all, artists and scientists are not often good business people. It often happens that authors of books that have been successful, or of songs that have been sung round the world, or composers of music which has enriched the heritage of the nation, have found that the profits made were made by the publishers. I have in mind a very great novel for which the authoress received exactly £50.

It is a fact, I think, that in history we largely remember countries because of great names in science and literature. I do not think this country, particularly in this age when we are spending so much on arms, should be remembered by its poor treatment of artists. I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer would like to have the opportunity of paying something more than the petty sums that have been mentioned. Almost every general in the last War received in one year more than has been paid to some of the greatest of our scientists who gave their life and strength to preserving life, and who at the end were left with so little. I need only mention Sir Ronald Ross, who did such great work in the investigation of malaria and tropical diseases and ended his life in pain and suffering because of the work he had done. Yet very little was done for him until the very end.

It seems strange that pensions given to those who destroy life should be more than pensions given to those who help to save life. I do not want to make these cheap distinctions, but I think the scales are weighted perhaps a little too much on the side of convention. No doubt hon. Members know of people who have given great service in literature and art to this nation who may not be really in need of this pension to keep a roof over their heads, which is practically all that a Civil List pension does, but to whom it would be of assistance. It may be said, and said truly, that the miner who risks his life gets no civil pension and only 10s. a week. I represent a mining constituency and I know that the worker in the mine, whose life and labour has been portrayed by novelists and poets, would be the last person in the world to think that their small pensions should not be augmented in this way. I appeal to hon. Members behind me to support this modest Amendment, which is designed to help some small deserving cases.

8.17 p.m.


May I add one word on behalf of my colleagues on the Select Committee? It would be desirable if the Chancellor of the Exchequer could see his way to meet the suggestion. The original amount of £1,200 was fixed when the finances of the country were in a totally different position from that of the present time. Those who have given their lives to literature and art of various kinds demand some recognition from the State. What is being done at the present time is exceedingly small for a country as rich as ours. We have supported the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the proposals which form the subject of the Civil List, and we hope that he will recognise the feeling there is in the House and throughout the country and will find it possible to accept the Amendment.

8.18 p.m.


The proposal has been put before the Committee in very persuasive terms by the hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. Herbert) and the hon. Lady, and the subject of it appeals to anybody who reflects on the sort of considerations which have been adduced by the two hon. Members, but I am afraid that I must ask the Committee to reject it, and I will explain why. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) knows that although they are called Civil List pensions they are not on the Civil List, and when he says that there is a great deal of feeling in the House and in the country I must say that there has been no evidence of it. It was reserved to the hon. Member for Oxford University to discover this point. He was the only one who raised it on the Financial Resolution, and he got not one single hon. Member to support him. Apparently, he was then under the impression that £1,200 was the total amount of pensions paid out in any single year, but he has learned since then that £1,200 is the annual amount which is available for new pensions in any particular year. In fact, the total amount which is now being paid out in these pensions is somewhere about £23,000 a year.

It is alleged that there is a demand for these pensions which ought to be satisfied, and which presumably would be satisfied if the Amendment was carried. I am not prepared to say that you could not find a number of deserving cases of persons to whom pensions of this kind might be awarded if the amount available was increased, but I do say that there have been increasing difficulties in recent years in discovering a sufficient number of persons who can meet the conditions of need and merit, and, therefore, if the amount was increased and was utilised you would have to relax the tests which have been applied for selecting recipients for these pensions.


Has not the difficulty rather been that the tests have been made very stringent and extremely conventional because the actual amount is so small?


I will not enter into an argument on the point because I have not made any search into the particular conditions which are attached to each case, but I can give the Committee the information I have, and which still remains unaffected by what the hon. Lady has said. I said that you would have to expand your field, you would have to relax the conditions. It may be said that it is time they were relaxed, but that does not affect my argument. If you are to find suitable recipients for this in- creased amount you would have to relax the conditions which have hitherto been imposed. That may be a good thing. But in that case how do you know that £4,000 is the right amount to fix? On what is the figure based? It is purely arbitrary. On the Financial Resolution the hon. Member for Oxford University took the simpler course of doubling the existing amount, and said that we ought to pay £2,400 instead of £1,200. Now, he has put it up to £4,000. Why? Why not £5,000? Why not £40,000? The hon. Member says that he is not staggered by £20,000. Why does he stop at £4,000? The figure of £1,200 a year given in new pensions has already meant a figure of £23,000; and if you put it at £4,000 it is quite probable that the total would run into £50,000 more than it is now.


I will tell the right hon. Gentleman why I put the figure at £4,000, which I am prepared to justify at any time. I thought the right hon. Gentleman would have the decency to meet me half way, and if he halves the £4,000 he will find that is just about the figure I mentioned.


I shall not argue with the hon. Member about the term which he applied in this case, for he is still comparatively new to the House, and does not seem to realise the control which on these occasions is exercised regarding the things which are said on one side or on the other. My argument is quite a serious one. The figure which the hon. Member mentioned is purely arbitrary, and I feel certain that all the arguments which have been used by the hon. Member and by the hon. Lady opposite could be applied with equal force if the total amount were raised to £4,000. It would still be possible to find many more people deserving of assistance. Although it is perfectly true that the figure was fixed a long time ago, when the finances of the country, as the hon. Member opposite said, were in a very different position from what they are now, I would remind the Committee that at that period taxation was infinitely lower than it is now.

Although I am not prepared to say that it is not possible to make out a good case for increasing this sum, I put it to the Committee that at is extremely hard to state in a convincing way that any particular sum is the right one to apply, and that, moreover, this would be an extremely difficult time at which to increase the sum, in view of the fact that at the moment we are putting fresh taxation on an already highly-taxed people. There would have to be a much better documentary demand for these particular pensions than it has been possible to produce at the present time, if an additional sum was to be justified. I am certain that the acceptance of the hon. Member's Amendment would merely mean that there would be a fresh demand for further pensions, and that there would be fresh grievances cropping up from people who would not be as well treated as these people would be. So far as I know there has been no agitation during, say, the last ten years, to the effect that the sum devoted to this purpose is not sufficient. I very much doubt whether there is a better reason in this case for this particular increase in the sums that are disposed of by the Treasury than there is in dozens of other cases in support of which I am sure the hon. Lady would be very eloquent if she could think of them at the moment. I must ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.

8.28 p.m.


I am sure the Committee has listened carefully to the Chancellor's very weighty arguments and that it appreciates how difficult it is for him to find money in view of the additional taxation which is now being placed on people. I would, however, appeal to the Chancellor to consider whether he cannot, between now and the Report stage, go into this matter again with a view to discovering whether it might not be possible to make some small increase in this amount. It does not seem to me that it would be necessary to have any relaxation of the conditions in which the pensions are granted. If the amount available were increased it does not in the least follow that it would all be used in the year. I urge upon the Chancellor that, although there may have been no popular agitation, there is considerable feeling in the Committee that it would be a generous gesture if some small concession were made. I am sure the Committee would be pleased if the Chancellor could give some assurance that between now and the Report stage further consideration will be given to this very small matter.

8.29 p.m.


I may be only a new Member, but I am quite sure that if I were convinced that I had trespassed against any Rules of Order or even the etiquette of this place, I should be the first to apologise. I am, however, bound to say that I have not heard anything which persuades me that the expression I used just now was not justified. The word "decent" means "becoming," and I am surprised that the Chancellor of the Exchequer of this great country, the heart of the British Empire, should think it decent—that is, becoming and seemly—to stand up and speak in the cold and callous way he has about this very small help for which I have asked for a very large and important body of the community. The right hon. Gentleman asked me why I first asked him to double the sum. In my first speech I spoke extempore and suddenly, and that thought came to my mind. When I looked into the matter I saw that it was not nearly sufficient, and I mentioned the sum of £4,000 because I thought he would look into the matter in the manner in which most Chancellors of the Exchequer do, and say, "I cannot go as far as this gentleman suggests, but I will meet him half way and make some small concession." I am surprised that he is not ashamed not even to go as far as that. If he is offended by that I am very sorry, but I am quite prepared to say it again.

The right hon. Gentleman used the most extraordinary argument that I have ever heard, when he said that even if the sum were £4,000, £5,000 or £50,000 it would still be an arbitrary and imperfect figure. Good Heavens, what are the other figures in this Bill? Is not every limit fixed in a Bill arbitrary, and could not the same argument be made against it? I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his great intellectual powers, should venture to offer such an argument as that. As for this matter of there being no evidence whatever to show that there is a real demand for these pensions, and the statement that if the sum were increased it would be impossible to use it, I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman on what evidence he bases that argument As I said in my remarks just now, I would guarantee myself, if the sum were increased to the amount I suggest, to lead by the hand worthy people who come within the limits of the present conditions and present them to the Prime Minister, and to say, "These are men and women who have done good service to this country in these departments of national life and they deserve to have this assistance now in the declining years of their lives." I may be ruled out of Order and forfeit the respect of right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench, but it is disgusting the way in which this modest little suggestion has been received—disgusting, I will say it again.

I have not come here from a manufacturer's office or from the rich parts of this world. I have grown up in the departments of life for which I am now pleading. It is all very well to say "Say it in Punch," but this is not a joke. The life of the artist may be glorious while it lasts, but it is short-lived, precarious and insecure, as are the lives of those for whom hon. Members opposite speak. The artist is not like a man with a factory, a man who builds up an office or a business, or owns land, who can go away and leave it to fructify. The artist is his own factory, his own office, his own raw material, his own foreman, his own manual labourer, and there is no allowance for wear and tear of machinery and plant. It is all in his head. If something happens, if there is a change of fashion, a new mechanical invention, illness in the family or something else, all is finished. The last hope of many who have carried across this country and across the world the name and fame of England in the arts, in literature, in science and so on, is this small pension which, as I say, is insufficient now, and ought to be increased.

I am bound to say that I am very disappointed and entirely unconvinced by the right hon. Gentleman's remarks, and I propose to press this to a Division. I hope I shall be supported by many sections of the House. Let us private Members get together, for this is one of the rare occasions upon which we are able to put down an Amendment increasing a grant of public money proposed by Ministers of the Crown. They have produced very few reasons why that increase should not be made. I hope we shall all stick together and press the Amendment to a Division.


Do that with poor people's pensions too.

8.35 p.m.


I want to appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I am sure that my success in the appeal will be all the more hopeful after the courageous speech that has just been addressed to the right hon. Gentleman by the hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. Alan Herbert). Some of the arguments used by the Chancellor are a little difficult to accept. For instance, if the argument is to be used that taxation is becoming onerous to the point of making us super-economical in the administration of the State, if that is the argument that is to be used now, it does not convince very much when one recollects the vast amount of the subsidies that have gone out in other directions. After all, £40,000,000 odd went to beet sugar and other things that one could mention. We are not saying to-night whether or not these things were worthy objects on which to spend these vast fortunes, but I think the Chancellor, in his heart of hearts, must admit what has already been stated by my hon. Friend and colleagues. Some of the most worthy citizens of the State have not been great social successes, and, indeed, in a life like ours, when men attempt to do something of a scholastic, or of a philosophic, or indeed of a scientific nature, when they are scholars and keep aloof, because of the calling of their vocation, from the mere purpose of making money in this life, what do we find? They give out, their raw material passes, and they find themselves claimants on the State for charity.

If we had a country that really appreciated the finer things of life, we should not be making this appeal to-night. If there is anything that has impressed me with regard to the developments in Russia, it has been on this very point, that the Russian Government have indeed developed a distinct regard for the scholars and the students who have advanced Russian culture in that country. All that I can do tonight is to join in this appeal. I do not believe for a moment that if the Chancellor were left free, he would, of his own wish, turn down this appeal which we are making. He knows that there are a great many other people in this country who to-night are nothing more than paupers, but who have rendered great service to the State in the past, and it is wholly unworthy of the intellect of this country that these people should be suffering as they are to-night. If there is a possibility of something being extended to them, at least to keep them away from this awful anxiety and constant dread of being without a house over their heads, we should not let the opportunity go by.

I can assure the Chancellor that I could give him the names and addresses of people to-night who are worse off than men on the dole. Here is the awful tragedy of it, that these people have to keep up outward appearances and to make things look bright outside, but we know their inner lives and the suffering they undergo. If we have any regard for the intellectual accomplishments of those who have contributed so much to the State, they should not be allowed to pass the end of their days in this way. I wish the Chancellor of the Exchequer would give me as much sympathy in this appeal as I had for him on Thursday last, when he was making his speech on this Bill. It may be that he is barred within the compass of the Bill—I do not know; it may be that it is a political indiscretion even to raise the matter on this occasion, but it is the only opportunity that we have of making this appeal, and if, as has already been said, it is possible on the Report stage for something to be done, may I appeal to him at least to consider it?

I am not saying very hard things about him or about his functioning as Chancellor of the Exchequer, because I believe that there are influences at work which check the free action even of a Chancellor, but I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to-night to reconsider the appeal which we are making, in the hope that something will be done and that it shall not be said that an earnest appeal was made in this House on behalf of these men and women and that it was callously turned aside. It is not so much charity as the redemption of a debt which intellectual people or intelligent people owe to these men and women who are suffering from poverty because they have devoted themselves to their calling, but who might have been living comfortably if instead, they had converged all their energies and abilities upon money-making.

8.42 p.m.


On a point of Order. May I ask for your Ruling, Sir Dennis, in view of the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mabane) and the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might be induced to reconsider his opinion and to do something on the Report stage? I want to know whether I am not right in supposing that we cannot, on the Report stage of a Bill, increase or vary a charge on the Exchequer, in which case it would be impossible for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to do what he has been requested to do, so that a decision on the figure should be made now.


What the hon. Member says is perfectly true.

8.43 p.m.


I think it is necessary to bring the Committee to realise that the appeal was not, as was stated just now, carelessly turned down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Chancellor, when he brings out his Budget, has had very great expert advice and experience, and on that he brings out his Budget. If there is any carelessness, I do not think it is so much on the part of my right hon. Friend as possibly on the part of my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Mr. Alan Herbert), who suggested the sum of £4,000. He may be more or less correct in that sum, but he may equally be entirely wrong in his calculation. I remember very well that on the London County Council we had an education bill for something like £1,000,000, and the Opposition moved an Amendment suggesting that that sum should be doubled. The Chairman of the Education Committee pointed out that the sum for which he was asking was the result of calculations as to how much he required for teachers, for schools, for books, and the whole bag of tricks necessary for the education department; and when the Opposition proposed that that sum should be doubled, they were asked on what basis they made their calculation, and they said exactly the same as my hon. Friend has said—"If I had the money, I could spend it."

I am sure that all of us have very good cases which we could put before the Chancellor of the Exchequer, either for such people as are mentioned here, or for others. I myself would put forward a claim for a little bit more for playing fields and various other things. I am not in the slightest blaming my hon. Friend, who, I have no doubt, is perfectly genuine in his ambition to try to help these people. I am pointing out, however, as a business man, that the Budget is a business statement. It is made up on, business lines, and if anybody moves an Amendment to increase the charges he should be able to say, "I know of 10 people"—


I have said so.


The hon. Member has also said that he could bring as many more as the Chancellor wished. I have no doubt that he could, but does he know that there is a sufficient number to be able to receive this extra £4,000. The hon. Lady the Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) has said that artists are not business men. I am a business man, and I would never come to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and ask for any money unless I could tell him what it is to be spent upon.


The hon. Member would not come under this Amendment, for it only applies to people who have made useful discoveries in science and attainments in literature and the arts.


I would not claim in any event. I am a very modest Scotsman. The right hon. Member is a Scotsman, but not so modest. I think that we might reasonably ask the hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. Herbert) not to press the Amendment until another year, when he will have gone into the matter more thoroughly and be able to place a specific figure before the Chancellor.

8.48 p.m.


I wish to disillusion those who may be under any misunderstanding that those who sit on this side of the Committee are supporting the Amendment. The majority of those whom we represent have to contribute towards the pensionable rights which they get at the age of 65. It may, perhaps, be justifiable for a Member representing a University to move such an Amendment as this on behalf of those who have had the advantages of a university education. While we on this side may also have a regard for artistic and literary matters and for those who give the results of their genius to the world, we could suggest other methods to enable them to get their deserts at the end of a long life. I have some recollection of participating in what was termed a reform of the Copyright Law. Other instances in the arts could be quoted in which the artists should not sub-let their copyrights to other organisations that take advantage of them, but should organise in. their own self-defence.


On a point of Order. May I point out that the principle of this Amendment—


I would warn the hon. Member that there is very great objection to an hon. Member attempting to rise to a point of Order in order merely to make a point in the Debate.


I beg your pardon, Sir Dennis.


If artistic and literary men and women could bring about a scheme of their own by setting aside a percentage of their copyright fees to a fund it would overcome many of their difficulties. It would be akin, perhaps, to the levy on coal, for artists and writers are producing something, and a levy on their productions could be used for a fund to help them at the end of their lives. Many of us on this side do not want to appeal to the Chancellor to soften his heart, but would rather support him in his opposition to handing out public money ad lib., as is suggested in this Amendment.

8.52 p.m.


I was very impressed by the case put forward by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in defence of the conclusion at which he has arrived. That case was that, if an increased amount were granted, it would be necessary to alter the conditions under which these grants are made. It must be obvious that, once that door were open, no one would know the extent to which the Chancellor would find himself committed. During the years I have had the honour of being a Member of Parliament, I have had two cases presented to me; both received consideration and they are enjoying the benefit of pensions to-day. That experience causes me to arrive at the conclusion that when a case is made which complies with the conditions laid down, there are adequate funds available to meet the pension. Indeed, the Chancellor has said that sometimes they have difficulty in finding the men and women who are eligible for these pensions. Those who are in favour of the amount being increased should at least come to the House and be prepared to give facts and figures about cases of people for whom it is not possible to grant pensions.

8.54 p.m.


I listened with some regret to the speech made by one of my colleagues on the benches above the Gangway. My only interest in politics has been the defence of those who render great services to the State throughout their lives for very poor rewards, if any reward at all, and who, at the end of their lives, receive nothing for all their years of service. I do not yield to my hon. Friend in my sympathy or advocacy of such cases, but I think it would be a wrong sense of proportion which allowed us to be preoccupied with these things—though rightly occupied—to such an extent as to blind us to the need of other persons whose claims upon the State, if not greater, are at any rate not less. One of the stock arguments used by those who are opposed to the political creed of my hon. Friends and myself has been, "What would you do under Socialism for the arts? How would you deal with individual enterprise in music and painting? You cannot nationalise that, or collectivise that, or Socialise that." The Chancellor to-day gave us the converse of that argument. He is saying that the only individual enterprise which the society he defends is right in rewarding is the enterprise of those who act not primarily for any social or national benefit but merely to feather their own nests. Those persons in whom individual enterprise is the very life blood of their work, and whose life work is of more social than private importance, are the very exponents of private enterprise whose claims the Chancellor is not prepared to consider at all.

Notice was taken of the reply made by Russia to that kind of argument, but it is not only Russia that is concerned, because I think I am right in saying that this is the only country in Europe which makes no contribution whatever towards individual artists in their years of struggle. In most European countries the State is only too ready to lend them a helping hand in their early, struggling days, when the public ear has not yet been won, if some Ministry of Fine Arts or some other Ministry can he convinced that to lend a helping hand would be of national benefit. The hon. Member for Oxford University is not asking the Chancellor to go so far as that. He is content to allow artists to make their own way and win the public ear for themselves, but is saying that when they have done it and when, for some reason not within their own control, their livelihood has gone, that then, within the narrow and rigorous limits of the present regulations, they should be able to make their claim on the State for services rendered to the State—not for high rewards, not for anything munificent, but merely for something to enable them to pass their remaining days in something other than absolute penury.

If anything is said about the number of the claimants I should be content to take the hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. Herbert) at his word when he said that he could bring forward cases; but apart altogether from the number of cases there is the question of the amount of the pension. We have been told that in no circumstances is the pension above £100 and it may be as low as £40. Even if we limited the number of applicants one could see a case for increasing the amount of the pensions. The sum which has been asked for may be arbitrary, but when was this Committee ever asked to persist in an underpayment because any attempt to fix a higher payment was arbitrary? That is hardly an argument which does justice either to the intelligence of the right hon. Gentleman or to the opinion which he has of the intelligence of the Committee. I think this is a claim which both inside and outside this House must command very general sympathy, a claim the justice of which must be conceded in principle. The cost to the Treasury would be so very small that the Chancellor might consider it favourably at a time when he is asking the House to spend enormous sums of money on destructive purposes.


I wish to apologise to you, Sir Dennis, if I put forward a point of Order in an improper manner, and I must apologise also to the hon. Member who was speaking at the time, but I wanted to point out that I felt the remarks he was making were not really relevant to the principle which we have accepted. I have done my best to give what facts and figures there are in support of my Amendment, and I do not know what more I can do. To mention prominent people by name might be very embarrassing.


Do I understand that the hon. Member put forward a case?


I put my case before, I think, the hon. Member came into the House. I should like to say to hon. Members opposite that I thank them for their support, and say also that I was surprised to hear from them a single voice against my proposal. In this matter we are all together. They plead for those who are, as they always say, the producers of wealth, and in this case I am pleading

for the producers of enlightenment, laughter and happiness, and therefore I am not surprised that we should be together. I do not ask the right hon. Gentlemen to think once more before he rejects this Amendment altogether. Whether it succeeds or not, if I have support in the Committee I shall press it to a Division, because I regard it as a matter of fundamental importance. As an hon. Member has said so well, the attitude of the State to art and science in this country is a disgrace to the country. This is only a small matter that I have raised, but it is as a footnote to the whole issue, and I wished to bring it forward publicly and prominently, although I should be the last person to suggest that there should be the last person to suggest that there should be any obstruction or delay to this Bill.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 185; Noes, 110.

Division No. 175.] AYES. [9.4 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Dawson, Sir P. Lamb, Sir J. Q.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) De Chair, S. S. Leckie, J. A.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Denman, Hon. R. D. Leech, Dr. J. W.
Albery, I. J. Gorman-Smith, Major R. H. Lees-Jones, J.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd) Dower, Capt. A. V. G. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Dugdale, Major T. L. Levy, T.
Aske, Sir R. W. Duncan, J. A. L. Lewis, O.
Assheton, R. Dunglass, Lord Liddall, W. S.
Atholl, Duchess of Eales, J. F. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J.
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Eckersley, P. T. Lloyd, G. W.
Balfour, Capt. H. H.(Isle of Thanet) Edmondson, Major Sir J. Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Balniel, Lord Ellis, Sir G. Lyons, A. M.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Elliston, G. S. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.
Beit, Sir A. L. Emmott, C. E. G. C. Maclay, Hon. J. P.
Bird, Sir R. B. Erskine Hill, A. G. Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.
Blair, sir R. Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Manningham-Buller, Sir M.
Blindell, Sir J. Everard, W. L. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Bossom, A. C. Fleming, E. L. Markham, S. F.
Boulton, W. W. Fremantle, Sir F. E. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Bower, Comdr, R. T. Fyfe, D. P. M. Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)
Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W. Ganzoni, Sir J. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)
Brass, Sir W. Gluckstein, L. H. Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Goldle, N. B. Moreing, A. C.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Goodman, Col. A. W. Morgan, R. H.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Gower, Sir R. V. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)
Bull, B. B. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.
Butler, R. A. Gridley, Sir A. B. O'Connor, Sir Terence J.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Grimston, R. V. O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Cartland, J. R. H. Guinness, T. L. E. B. Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Gunston, Capt. D. W. Palmer, G. E. H.
Channon, H. Guy, J. C. M. Peake, O.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Hannah, I. C. Penny, Sir G.
Clarke, F. E. Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Perkins, W. R. D.
Clarry, Sir Reginald Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Pilkington, R.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Ponsonby, Col. C, E.
Cobb, Sir C. S. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Pownall, Sir Assheton
Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J. Holmes, J. S. Procter, Major H. A.
Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh,W.) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Ramsbotham, H.
Craven-Ellis, W. Hume, Sir G. H. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Hunter, T. Rayner, Major R. H.
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Jones, sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Crowder, J. F. E. Kerr, J. G. (Scottish Universities) Reid, W. Allen (Derby)
Culverwell, C. T. Kimball, L. Remer, J. R.
Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil) Kirkpatrick, W. M. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Ropner, Colonel L. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen) Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge) Smithers, Sir W. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Rowlands, G. Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe) Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Warrender, Sir V.
Russell, A. West (Tynemouth) Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, E.) Wedderburn, H. I. S.
Salmon, Sir I. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.) Wells, S. R.
Salt, E. W. Strickland, Captain W. F. Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T H.
Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Sanderson, Sir F. B. Tasker, Sir R. I. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Scott, Lord William Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne) Wragg, H.
Selley, H. R. Titchfield, Marquess of Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree) Touche, G. C.
Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar) Tree, A. R. L. F. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Shepperson, Sir E. W. Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L. Commander Southby and Captain
Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. Turton, R. H. Waterhouse.
Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D. Wakefield, W. W.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Naylor, T. E.
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Oliver, G. H.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Hardle, G. D. Owen, Major G.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Paling, W.
Amman, C. G. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Parker, H. J. H.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Banfield, J. W. Holland, A. Potts, J.
Barnes, A. J. Hopkin, O. Pritt, D. N.
Barr, J. Jagger, J. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Batey, J. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Rltson, J.
Benson, G. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Bevan, A. John, W. Rowson, G.
Broad, F. A. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Seely, Sir H. M.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Shinwell, E.
Burke, W. A. Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Short, A.
Charleton, H. C. Kelly, W. T. Silkin, L.
Cluse, W. S. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Silverman, S. S.
Cocks, F. S. Lathan, G. Simpson, F. B.
Compton, J. Leach, W. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Cove, W. G. Lee, F. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Leslie, J. R. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Daggar, G. Logan, D. G. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Dalton, H. Lunn, W. Thorne, W.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Macdonald, G. (Ince) Thurtle, E.
Dunn, E. (Bother Valley) Macdonald. Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Tinker, J. J.
Ede, J. C. McEntee, V. La T. Viant, S. P.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) McGhee, H. G. Watkins, F. C.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Maclean, N. Watson, W. McL.
Foot, D. M. MacNeill, Weir, L. White, H. Graham
Gallacher, W. Mainwaring, W. H. Whiteley, W.
Gardner, B. W. Mander, G. le M. Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)
Garro-Jones, G. M. Markfew, E. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Marshall, F. Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
Gibbins, J. Mathers, G. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Green. W. H. (Deptford) Milner, Major J.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Morrison, Rt. Hn. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.) Mr. MacLaren and Mr. Alan Herbert.
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Muff, G.

Resolution agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule agreed to.

Preamble agreed to.

Bill reported, without Amendment; to be read the Third time To-morrow.