§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ 4.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I think that this Motion affords an appropriate occasion for ventilating the grievance that hon. Members on this side feel, and that we might avail ourselves of the opportunity to indicate precisely what is in our minds, not only as regards Clause 1, but as regards every Clause in the Bill. We have indicated on a previous occasion that the Bill, taken as a whole, is of a very pettifogging character—
§ The Chairman
The hon. Member has said that he thinks that this is an occasion for discussing the advisability, not only of Clause 1, but of every Clause in the Bill. He cannot, however, do that on Clause 1; he must confine himself to this Clause. Moreover, as he knows, he cannot on this Motion make what I should describe as a Second Reading speech on the Bill.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I have no intention of making a Second Reading speech. What I had in view was that we could at this stage indicate our dissatisfaction with the whole procedure, and indicate at the same time what we thought of the Bill as a whole. I wish to say something of the malice of the Government. The Government deliberately framed the Financial Resolution on the Bill itself in order to curtail discussion. Whether that means that they are unable to face up to the 1461 criticism of the way in which they are dealing with the Special Areas, I do not know.
§ The Chairman
I have already intimated that the Committee on this Bill cannot discuss the policy of the Government in introducing, or drawing as they have done, the Resolution as a whole. The hon. Gentleman must remember that we are now in Committee on the Bill. He must confine his remarks in accordance with that fact.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am at a loss to understand what is in your mind, Sir Dennis. Am I to understand that I am to be prohibited from leading up to an argument which I propose to present as regards this particular Clause? Surely I must give reasons why I approach this Clause in a critical sense. I cannot understand why, in addition to the curtailment on which you have given a decision, we are to be prevented from expressing our opinions on any of these Clauses now before the Committee.
§ The Chairman
I cannot allow that to pass. I did not specify any particular point to which I objected, but the hon. Gentleman's opening has led me to give a warning to him and to the Committee as a whole as to the scope of this Debate. The hon. Gentleman is quite in a position to understand the exact meaning of what I said and to know that this is not an occasion on which he can debate the policy of the Government in bringing in a Resolution in the form in which they have brought it. I have no wish to interfere unfairly or hardly with the introductory remarks of hon. Members leading up to an argument which is relevant, but it would be of some assistance if right hon. and hon. Members would indicate what their arguments are going to be.
§ Mr. Shinwell
It does seem to me that we are being placed in a still greater difficulty because of your observations, Sir Dennis. Here is a Clause which provides for a continuation of the Special Areas Act. Surely we are entitled at this stage to discuss whether or not it is desirable to continue the Act, what special advantage will accrue to those people in the Special Areas if the Act is continued, and all matters which are relevant to these considerations. The Chairman indicates his assent, so I find, for the first time since the Committee began, that I am on 1462 the right side. That being the position, let me say at once that, irrespective of the provisions contained in this Clause, for a continuation of the Special Areas Act, the problem in the Special Areas will finally remain untouched. The Government's approach to this problem is all wrong. They are providing for the continuation of an Act which has been proved to be no solution of the problem and has left a vast amount of unemployment where it existed. Apart from the provision of a few million pounds and the preparation of certain schemes, no substantial measure of relief has been brought to the areas concerned.
I wish to make one or two short points in this connection, and, at the same time, to indicate to the Committee the kind of proposal which hon. Members on this side of the Committee would advance in order to deal with the problem. It is true that we cannot discuss the matter generally at this stage. We are precluded, therefore, from entering into all the aspects of the problem. But we can say this, that in the Special Areas, taking them by and large, the problem arises from the existence of two main factors. The first is the application of science to industry, which has steadily displaced labour in those areas. The second consists of the low wage standards and the consequent low level of purchasing power. There have been discussions on the Second Reading of this Bill in regard to the need for attracting new industries to the Special Areas. Suggestions have been made from time to time regarding possible measures of relief that might be afforded to industrial concerns in order to attract them to Durham, South Wales, and elsewhere. It has been suggested that the reason why industries are attracted to the South, particularly the Greater London area, is because of the existence of an ever expanding market.
Speaking for the moment of the North East area, there exists there as great a market, in fact and potentially, as in the Greater London area. There is a vast population ready to purchase consumable and other goods, but they are precluded from doing so because of the absence of adequate purchasing power. My submission is that, if purchasing power could be increased in the North Eastern area, in South Wales, Cumberland and the depressed areas of Scotland, that in itself would be sufficient to attract industrial 1463 undertakings. It has often been said that where the money is, industrialists and traders will go. There is very little money, particularly among the working classes, in the North East and in South Wales and Cumberland. But the Government have done nothing, either in this Bill or in any other piece of legislation, to take the necessary steps to increase purchasing power.
A book has just been published by Mr. Rowntree, in which he observes, from information gathered by earnest investigators, that the minimum amount required to provide a man and his wife and three children in the urban areas of this country is 53s. a week, and in the rural areas 41s. a week. I challenge the Minister definitely: can he say that in the Special Areas of Durham, South Wales, Cumberland and Lanarkshire the average wage of the working classes approximates to that figure? I think it is right to say that the amount of wages earned by the average breadwinner in those areas approximates more nearly to 40s. a week. That is very much less than is required for a bare minimum of existence. Mr. Rowntree has pointed out that 53s. a week in the urban areas and 41s. in the rural areas provides the barest minimum, provides almost nothing for those so-called luxuries which, according to the modern standards of living, have now become the necessaries of life. The Government having failed to approach the problem in that fundamental fashion, neither this nor any other Clause of the Bill, nor the Bill itself, is likely to be of great value to the people in the distressed areas.
Turning to the other aspect of the problem presented by the application of science to industry, what is the position in the North-East? In spite of all that the Government claim to have done, unemployment on a large scale, particularly among the mine-workers, persists. In spite of trading agreements with the Scandinavian countries, the production of oil from coal, all the so-called relief afforded by the Commissioners, and all that has been said about the construction of trading estates, the mass of unemployment, particularly among the mining community, remains as it was. Why is that? It is because more and more—and the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of 1464 Labour is conscious of the fact—it is possible to produce large quantities of coal with less labour than before. In those circumstances, what is the use of pretending that a mere trading estate here and there, the reconditioning of streets and roads in some parts of the Special Areas, or the provision of relief for industrial undertakings in the form of Income Tax abatements, and relief from what are called excessive rating burdens, will suffice to deal with this problem? These are our main submissions.
In connection with the continuation of the original Act, which provided for assistance to industrial undertakings, I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour a question. He has made a great deal in his speeches here and elsewhere about the provision of a trading estate in the Team Valley. I read in a newspaper yesterday that already a food factory had been established on that trading estate, and that in addition over 30 industrial concerns had signified their willingness to commence operations. That statement, which is not unlike statements that appeared in the Northern Press in connection with the possibilities of that trading estate area, gives rise to an optimism which is not consistent with the facts of the case. I passed by the Team Valley Trading Estate yesterday, just after reading the paragraph to which I have referred, but I looked in vain for signs of activity. [AN HON. MEMBER: "It was Sunday."] I am not speaking of active operations. I wanted tangible evidence of activity on six days of the week, and not on the seventh. I saw no evidence of that sort. There were no factories of any kind, as far as I could see. How long is it going to be before these trading estates are in actual existence, employing men and women and absorbing the unemployed population?
The public have been misled as regards the Government's intentions. We have heard a great deal about public expenditure in connection with the Special Areas. Millions have been bandied about. The right hon. Gentleman himself, on the Second Reading, spoke of £12,000,000 that were to be expended. Nothing like that has been spent. I doubt whether more than between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000 has actually been spent. It matters very little to the people in the Special Areas whether this Clause stands 1465 part of the Bill or not. Generally speaking, there is no new measure of relief and there is nothing in what the Government propose which will provide a permanent solution. If the Government had provided a scheme which, though fell far short of what we desire, laid down principles which might have been utilised in the future for the purpose of meeting the difficulty that is bound to eventuate, our objections would not have been as strong as they have been, but there is neither principle contained in the proposals nor actual relief, at all events of the kind that we regard as necessary. Therefore, we do not regard the question whether the Clause should stand part as being of the slightest value to the people in whom we are interested.
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Macmillan
This Clause continues in operation the original Special Areas Act of 1934. Perhaps before we decide to continue that legislation it is worth while considering whether it has achieved anything or whether it is worth while continuing it in its present form. From time to time this question becomes one of great Parliamentary interest, and at such times the Government as a whole are roused, partly by their opponents, but still more by their supporters, into some kind of action. I notice that when the legislation actually comes on neither the Leader nor the Deputy Leader of the House thinks fit to attend our proceedings. I should be the last to depreciate the value of the Minister of Labour, but still he is what is called a junior Minister, and none of these great men thinks fit to attend our Debates on this very important topic. This Clause continues the fabric and the structure of the original Act. The Act came into being as the result of pressure from the "Times" newspaper, which sent a correspondent in the summer of 1934, and his startling reports stirred interest and even touched the hearts of many outside distressed areas. As the result of those articles Commissioners were appointed. Unfortunately, they had to do their work hurriedly. They were asked to make rapid reports for immediate action. Governments are always going to take immediate action and always forget about it a year or two afterwards, but they have to have the reports in by a fixed time owing to the fact that grouse mature by 1466 12th August, a fact which governs the whole time-table of Parliament and has led to holidays and other things taking place in August. So it was impossible for the right hon. Gentleman who was the Commissioner for the North-East of England to visit the South part of Durham as well as the North. He said in his report that it was only the time factor which prevented him from going to the Tees as well as to the Tyne.
The Act has gone on year after year with no real basis in theory, no careful investigation, no formula to define an area—a formula of the rate of unemployment relative to the population, which some Departments of the Government are only too anxious to devise on other topics. It could be devised much more easily than the famous formula which the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench denounced from this seat month after month in the De-rating Act. Ever afterwards we have had the structure of this Act, which I think is fundamentally wrong, and in any case has never been defended by any logical argument at all. The Lord President of the Council took a great interest in it. I cannot say that he contributed anything to the drafting of the Clauses or to the construction of its framework, but he explained that it was a laboratory experiment. There was to be for a year or two an experiment in a few selected areas and, as it was a laboratory experiment, it did not very much matter what kind of specimens were experimented upon so long as you had some kind of specimen. After a year or two the Government would come forward and give us legislation based upon this year of experimentation and research.
The House accepted that view. My friends accepted it. We thought it was not what we could have wished. We should have liked more done. We thought the information was available, but we looked forward, after this period of incubation, to the final hatching of their schemes. The only result of this long laboratory experimentation was the proposal to continue the Act unamended in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. Now, as the result of further pressure by Members still young enough to risk their political future, the Government gave in again, and we were promised a new piece of legislation which would reveal the whole plans of the Government for 1467 dealing with the problem. So we have this Bill in which Clause 1 says, "Go on with the old Act as you are." The rest of the Clauses add a few areas. They extend the experiment with slight modifications to another area or two. Of course, they took the precaution so deliberately to use the rules of procedure of the House as to reduce our Debates to a farce and put the Chairman into the position of being the unwilling executioner of every possibility of an Amendment—
§ The Chairman
I would ask the hon. Member not to attach any adjective implying willingness or unwillingness on the part of the Chairman in the discharge of his duty.
§ Mr. Macmillan
—so to use the procedure of the House and so to draw the Financial Resolution that no Amendment could be made to these areas and almost nothing could conceivably be done under these new powers. They still maintain the structure of the original Act which came into being in this chance way.
I hope that the Minister of Labour will not be content. I realise that there is nothing we can do. We have to pass this Bill before May. Clause 1 is the main structure of the Bill. We are in the hands of the Minister. He has the House completely tied up by the Financial Resolution and by the time factor. I beg him not to be content with this treatment of so great a subject. We know that he occupies a position of grave difficulties. It has not been an easy position. It is not a position that one would suppose he would take on willingly. I beg him not to put himself into the position that he will have to be promoted. The fate of the Minister of Labour is hard. The right hon. Gentleman came to us in the belief that he had courage and power. We know that he took opportunity in discussions last year to urge for wider measures, and we ask him not to be content with a Bill which really repeats the old structure, with some minor alterations. Let him take a much more comprehensive view and, if it is impossible in this Session, at least let him give us next Session some wider treatment than this, which does not satisfy the demands either of the Opposition or a great number of hon. Members on the Government side.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ Mr. E. J. Williams
When the Special Areas Bill came before the House in 1934, I and my colleagues said that we regarded it as a piece of Government bluff, and I am certain that hon. Members who to-day represent the Special Areas, and particularly those who were in the House in 1934, will agree that the statement then made was correct. In making that statement we advanced certain arguments. We had seen what the Government had done during the previous three years. We had seen that their economic policy had brought some relief to certain places, but the Special Areas, largely depending upon the export market, had been severely prejudiced by the Government's economic policy. We argued that tariffs and restrictions and the other measures that had been adopted by the Government in restriction of trade had prejudiced the export areas which depended upon an expanding market. Special attention was then drawn to the coal trade. During the last Debate the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to the major causes of distress in the Special Areas and mentioned the mining industry. During the last few years the mining industry has gone from bad to worse, particularly that portion of the industry that depends upon the export market. Even during the last 12 months things have not been tending to improve.
Hon. Members will agree that the statement of my hon. Friend the Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) in regard to the introduction of science and all kinds of mechanical devices in the mines is correct. The Government policy has tended to create deeper pools for depression. When reference is made to the Tyneside we find that the conditions there are wholly attributable to the fact that there is less carrying trade to-day, and that the export areas, whether in coal or in shipping, have been substantially impaired by Government policy. The Government realised that they were bound to impair the areas that were depending on the export markets and that those areas were going from bad to worse. They were faced in their own ranks with substantial agitation in the last Parliament and they were compelled to endeavour o meet that discontent in the Special Areas by bringing in the Special Areas Bill. They had already impaired the export areas in a trade sense, and they had also taken from those 1469 areas millions of pounds by certain of their measures. It was the distressed areas that were directly affected by the legislation that the National Government placed on the Statute Book in the Economy Act of 1931. They took from the Special Areas, because of the preponderance of unemployment there, by the application of the 10 per cent. cut in benefits, and by the means test, millions of pounds from the family income which had previously been received from the Treasury.
Deliberately, the Government had impaired the Special Areas by depriving them not only of their trade but of their purchasing power. Having done that, they placed at the disposal of the Special Areas £2,000,000 from the scores of millions of pounds which they had taken by the application of the means test and by the 10 per cent. cut in unemployment benefit. They then came along with the sop of £2,000,000 in order to attempt, as they said, to make good the damage that had been done by their own policy in previous years. Reports galore have been presented to the Government not only by their own investigators but by impartial persons holding professional positions which cannot be considered of a party political nature. Reports have been presented by the universities, by the Commissioners, and by representatives of the Government, each one of which indicated the immensity of the problem which the Government had to face. But the Government has run away from every one of those reports. My colleagues and I, supported by other hon. Members, believe that the reason why Sir Malcolm Stewart resigned was because the Government were not prepared even to attempt to ameliorate the condition that was going from bad to worse in those areas.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer was correct when he said that the mining industry in itself presents substantially the problem of the Special Areas. The last report presented—not to the Government, but it is a valuable report—by the University College of Cardiff, indicates the enormous problem with which we are faced in South Wales and in a like degree in other parts of the country. It is estimated that about 50,000 miners cannot be reabsorbed in South Wales alone, and cannot be absorbed in any other industry that the Government will endeavour to 1470 establish either by trading estates or in any other way in South Wales. It seems obvious to hon. Members on this side of the House that that should be so. Last week we had figures given of the enormous productive capacity per man-shift in the mining industry. During the last 10 years the productive capacity has increased by more than 20 per cent. The output per man-shift of the industry is now 23 cwt. compared with 16.6 cwt. in 1925. Therefore, we can calculate the actual cause of the increasing unemployment in the mining industry. In 1925, 900,000 persons were employed in the mining industry, and to-day only 727,000. In South Wales alone 315 pits have gone out of commission since 1924, and in the country more than 1,000 pits have gone out of commission. What attempt is being made either by the Government or by hon. Members who support the Government to face up to that problem? Those pits have gone out of commission never to restart.
In addition to that problem, the introduction of machine mining is increasing the output per man-shift so rapidly that we can postulate that within the next five years, two men will produce the same quantity of coal as three men are producing to-day, just as three persons today are producing the same quantum of coal as was produced by four men 10 years ago. There is such a rapid acceleration in the increase of output that there is no possibility of a person rendered idle by machine mining being reabsorbed in the mining industry.
There are two means by which we ought to face up to the problem. It is ostensibly a purchasing power problem, but instead of facing up to it and increasing either unemployment benefit or removing the means test the Government are not even prepared to adopt a kind of sliding scale that would increase the unemployment benefit in consonance with the increase in the cost of living. They are even permitting a continual contraction of purchasing power in the Special Areas. The cost of living is increasing whilst the measure of payment is a state amount. Their policy is leading to ever greater depression in the Special Areas. This matter was referred to last week when we discussed malnutrition. We stressed the point that the cause of malnutrition is shortage of income. We used 1471 the phrase quite accurately, that as the income increases the cost of living increases too.
§ The Chairman
I must ask the hon. Member not to pursue that matter too far, but to bear in mind that his argument should be addressed to Clause 1.
§ The Chairman
That is so, but the hon. Member must realise that what I am referring to is that while he is at liberty to refer to the general policy of the Government he cannot go into detail on these matters.
§ Mr. Williams
I have no desire to widen the Debate. I want to show why we are opposing Clause 1. We do not think it deals with the problem of the Special Areas at all. It is the mechanism of the Bill, but will do nothing to meet the needs of the Special Areas. In dealing with the problem of malnutrition one would have thought the Government would have realised the need for increasing unemployment benefit to wipe out what is the most abominable thing ever placed on the Statute Book of this country—the means test. That would really be a contribution.
§ Mr. Williams
In relating this matter to purchasing power I submit that we have a right to advance to the Committee the means by which purchasing power can be attracted to these areas.
§ Mr. Williams
That is what I am dealing with. I contend that it has no substance at all; it is a mere sham, and that the Debates on the Special Areas have been nothing but a farce. The Special Areas are just permitted to linger and decay; nothing has been done by the Government to solve the problem. The Government are quite determined that this shall be the last Measure which shall come before the House and this is probably the only opportunity we shall have of discussing the Special Areas. Last 1472 week a statement was made by the Minister of Health in regard to the block grant. In reply to a: question by the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar) the right hon. Gentleman said that £426,000 had gone into the Special Areas. That was considered by the Minister of Health and also by the Minister of Labour as being a substantial contribution to the Special Areas. Surely, we have a right to call attention to the fact that out of the enormous sum of money which was supposed to be contained in the new block grant less than £500,000 is going to the Special Areas, and on examination it will be found that the most distressed areas are faced with certain arrears which prevents them obtaining the benefit of that grant.
The Government should realise the true nature of the problem. There are 50,000 persons idle in South Wales alone. Whole communities are decaying. There is no prospect of their being absorbed in industry again. It might seem to some hon. Members that I should be delighted that a portion of Woolwich Arsenal was coming to South Wales. In reply to a question as to the number of persons who would be employed we find that it is only 350, and so far just a few bore holes have been driven. Nothing has been done, and nothing will be done to absorb the enormous number of persons who are idle in the mining villages. Something more than this will have to be done before the Government can hope to satisfy some of their own supporters, let alone hon. Members on this side who for the last few years have been expecting something much more substantial than is contained in this Clause. Children are ill clad and ill shod, and mothers are in dire need of the elementary necessaries of life. That is the case in South Wales and elsewhere.
Nothing is being done on a large scale to meet the ravages of this situation. Our young manhood is decaying before our eyes. When I meet some who worked with me in the mines, just about my own age, I find them old men, haggard at 55 and 60, because of the years they have been idle, unemployed, living a life of despair and without hope. This is what the Government should realise, but nothing in the Bill is being done which will help these people. The Government are hoping that their rearmament programme and the spending of £1,500,000,000 will solve the problem. 1473 It will not; the problem will remain. It may bring trade of an ephemeral nature to certain districts but it will not touch the Special Areas. The Government are taking from the Special Areas by the means test every year more than is contained in this Bill. By the household means test they are taking more out of the wages fund every year than they are making as a contribution in this Bill. In fact, that is the ostensible purpose of the means test.
§ Mr. Williams
I am endeavouring to show the inadequacy of the Bill. I am not showing how the means test applies, or presenting the details of cases which come to me week after week. I am dealing with the general principle, and I hope the Government will realise that there will be no satisfaction at all in the Special Areas by simply setting up trading estates which may absorb a few hundred men while thousands of men are being rendered idle in the mining industry. Last year one pit closed in which 650 persons were employed. The Government may point to the splendid benefits which are being brought to the Special Areas by trading estates employing a few hundred persons, yet at the same time many thousands of miners are being rendered idle in the Rhondda Valley alone. This is not the way to tackle the problem. We say that new purchasing power must be brought to these areas. You must expand the effective market, and the effective market is the capacity of the people to buy goods. When that capacity has been enlarged we shall have industries set up producing goods, and business men will realise that the people have the means to purchase the goods which are produced.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Mr. G. Hardie
In discussing this question the difficulty exists of the difference between what is known as a distressed area and what is known as a Special Area. That difficulty is felt very often by hon. Members who have to take part in these Debates. A distressed area seems to have a claim which gives her second place in some things and first place in others. A continuance of the 1934 Act must bring out all the arguments for the inclusion of those areas which can justify a claim by 1474 their unemployment figures and the ever increasing number of what are called rejects; that is people who are outside either of the two funds. These rejects are men who can never hope to be re-employed. The advance of science has made it more and more difficult to give further hope in that direction. It is said that we are on the point of a boom in trade, but in the city of Glasgow the number of people registered as unemployed is 87,804. Surely such a number of registered unemployed justifies a claim to be included for consideration.
I have heard people in Glasgow speak of that city as being the second city of the Empire. That is true in a certain sense. But to say that because it is the second city of the Empire, its poverty should be smothered up and its dignity retained by not observing that poverty, is to me the most putrid kind of snobbery which one could conceive. The position in the city of Glasgow becomes more serious every day. We have heard a great deal about placing industries here and placing them there, but that is not so easy as it sounds. Having had some industrial experience, I realise that one cannot shift industries as one can men on a chessboard, and I realise the relation of one industry to another and particularly an industry's relation to its basic raw material. The reason for the increasing poverty in the city of Glasgow is that it is surrounded by industrial areas which have been depressed for many years. If the Government had had any foresight, there would not have been that depression in the city of Glasgow. The Government had not the foresight to see the present demands for coal and iron and steel. They allowed the blast furnaces of Scotland to go out of operation by the dozen. Only by intervention from this side of the House have they been stopped from destroying blast furnaces at Coatbridge which were recently reconditioned.
§ The Deputy - Chairman (Captain Bourne)
The hon. Member's remarks are rather wide of the Clause. He is entitled to argue that Glasgow should be included under the Act, but not to go beyond that.
§ Mr. Hardie
I was trying to give reasons why the surrounding districts increased the poverty of the city of 1475 Glasgow, thus strengthening my argument for the inclusion of Glasgow in the Act. I will try to keep within your Ruling. If we had in Glasgow the usual stream of iron and steel trade into our docks and the usual stream of iron and steel into our merchant places, a great many of the registered unemployed in the city would be employed. We are told that the tendency of industry to come South in some ways destroys certain areas of opportunity. I have taken the trouble to go round the districts in London which have been giving special inducements to businesses to come South, and I have had some conversations with the owners of those businesses. I asked them why they came to London, and the average answer was that when they bring their businesses down to Edmonton or to some place easily reached by motor car from the City, they can superintend the work and still have a contact with the City, thus saving the salaries of managers and under-managers.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I do not see the connection between the hon. Gentleman's argument and the question whether the Special Areas Act should or should not be continued for the period stated.
§ Mr. Hardie
As we are discussing the reason for taking new industries to the Special Areas in order to give employment to people who are now unemployed, I thought I would be in order in quoting the reason given by these men for bringing their businesses from the Special Areas.
§ Mr. Hardie
Other speakers, prior to your coming into the Chair, have been dealing with all those things. It is a most unfortunate thing that I generally start to speak when there is a change in the Chair. There ought to be a record somewhere so that you could hear what is being said. In Scotland, 56 coal pits have been closed recently, and now, following on the closing of those pits, all the industries in Glasgow, and in Scotland as a whole, are affected. We have been told that the reason we may not discuss certain Amendments is that the Financial Resolution fixed the amount of money, which could not be increased. What difference would it make if other 1476 areas were included? I cannot see the difference. I had always understood that it was not the distribution of the money, but the amount of it that governed the Rules of the House, that one could not increase expenditure, but could say how and where it should be spent. I hope that in his reply the Minister will give some information on those lines.
I wish to make a further appeal on behalf of the city of Glasgow. I have in my hand a publication from that city giving the public assistance department's statistics, and at a glance it is possible to see from what the city is suffering. If there be a reason for giving Glasgow special consideration, it is the real poverty which exists there. I am not speaking of the sort of poverty which leads people to go about cadging, but of the poverty that one can see in the eyes and faces of the men, women and children of Glasgow. Do hon. Members realise what it means to go into areas where one used to be a workman and to see men of one's own age, with families, whose eyes and faces reveal their suffering? They do not ask anything from you, for they are still too independent. The statistics from the schools of the weight and height of the children show the evil effects of a lack of proper food. These men want to escape from the eyes of those who are dependent on them and who know that every day their fare is to be bread and margarine. The reduction of resistance which is caused by a lack of proper food is increasing and will increase still more in the future. It will he necessary to pay in the health rate for some sort of repair work, and that repair work will be very costly. It would be better that the Government should realise the position now. Let them cease troubling about stupid formulas, and deal with poverty and distress where it is found. In that way they will give some justice to all.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Smith
Unfortunately we are trammelled in this Debate by the Money Resolution and the Bill which is before us. Within the limits of this Clause, I shall try to produce evidence to show that the Bill is an evasion of Government responsibilities. In areas with which I am familiar, it is common for the unemployment percentage to be anything between 30 per cent. and 50 per cent., yet these rural and urban areas are not 1477 to receive the benefit of this Bill. I shall try to produce evidence to show to the Minister that certain suggestions should be considered for inclusion in the Bill, and I hope it is still not too late for him to consider them. As a result of the Government's administration of the 1934 Act, and in view of the fact that, relatively speaking, the situation in certain areas is as bad as it ever was, and in some areas worse, one would have thought that the Bill now before us would have been a distinct improvement on the old Bill and would have dealt with the situation in a more fundamental manner than is now proposed.
If I understand it correctly, the 1934 Act gives power to the Commissioners to extend, initiate, organise and assist other areas outside the areas laid down in the schedules of the Act. Last night I was reading the report, and I was astonished to find a large number of cases in which the Commissioners, especially one Commissioner, differed from the Minister of Labour with regard to certain matters. Seeing that that was the position, one would have thought that the Commissioners, when they deemed it was in the public interest to do so, should have had power and authority to draw the attention of the Cabinet to certain areas when the Minister did not agree with them. I have a letter sent to me a few days ago which I will read to hon. Members:Dear Sir, Please say a word for Congleton in the House of Commons when you get another chance. A third of our men are permanently unemployed, and we have been a depressed area over a year, but nothing is done for this area. When you are next time mentioning certain districts, say a word for us too. Why not a Government factory to find work for this area? This area seems to be a forgotten area. Yours respectfully, 10 Congleton Unemployed Men.Congleton is not in my constituency, and the reason I quote that letter is that Congleton is an urban district typical of a large number of urban districts with which I am familiar in the North Staffordshire area, in many parts of Lancashire, particularly within a 20 miles radius of Wigan, and in the constituency represented by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies). More and more these districts are being forced to appeal to the Nuffield trust. I have a number of letters prepared by chambers of commerce and urban district 1478 councils appealing to the Nuffield Trust to do something on their behalf. The Nuffield Trust has replied to them, stating that the activities of the Nuffield Trust are strictly limited to the Special Areas scheduled in the 1934 Act. Thus we find that the areas for which I am speaking are cut off from all benefit. My main point is that these areas ought not to be forced to seek charity. They are suffering because of increased production in other areas and because the masses of the people are not given the opportunity to consume the goods which could be produced if those unemployed men were at work. Charity is humiliating and degrading. For these men and women, who are as good as any in this land, to have to depend upon charity is degrading and they ought not to be put in that position.
The hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. C. S. Taylor), with his good nature, his fine sentiments and his good feeling, suggested during the week-end that a certain part of South Wales should be adopted by Eastbourne. That is good, but it ought not to be left to individuals to suggest treatment of that character. It ought to be a national responsibility. We are all called upon to pay our rates. If men and women are unemployed and unable to get their livelihood by employment, they have still got to pay their taxes towards maintaining the Army and Navy and the administration of the country. It is a national obligation and responsibility on them. Therefore, we say that this National Government is evading its national responsibilities in this Bill. Those people have to accept the responsibility of paying their share of the taxes, and, therefore, the nation ought to accept the responsibility of treating them in a dignified way instead of forcing them to seek a livelihood by accepting degrading charity.
There is a working-class dignity. We hear a good deal of talk about the need for maintaining dignity. There is also a dignity amongst working-class men and women. They like to have decent shoes and clothes so that they can look other people in the eyes. But in these areas one sees first the shoes begin to go, then the clothes begin to go, then they begin to stoop, and slowly but surely the manhood is sapped out of them by conditions such as those which have been prevailing in these areas during the past 10 1479 years. Therefore, I say the Governmen's responsibility is to mete out justice to these people. The Government's responsibility is to provide them with the right to live. It is the right to live for which they are asking. They want justice, not charity. They do not want to be referred to the Nuffield Trust, or to seaside resorts for their maintenance.
These men and women are feeling isolated. I have letters in my possession which show they are feeling, more and more, that the country is not bothering about them. They feel like the untouchables in India. We hope even at this late hour that the Minister will consider altering this Bill in order that the areas for which we are speaking—areas which have an unemployment percentage as great as the areas in the Schedule—shall be included. That is not only our opinion but also the opinion of the "Times," which said in a leading article on 19th January of this year:It would be fatal if the Government Bill were to embody a compromise between the general view that new and drastic action is necessary and the particular view which lingers in some quarters that these areas should be considered as economic cemeteries, the character of which may be made more pleasant by planting a few flowers and straightening up a few tombstones and employing a new sexton or two, but cannot be radically changed. The conditions of the Special Areas is a challenge to the efficiency of the Government and of the democratic system itself.It is not a Socialist paper which says that, but the "Times," which, generally speaking, is a whole-hearted supporter of this Government. The area for which I am speaking particularly at the moment is an ideal centre for development. It has vast resources of coal and limestone; it has one of the best railway centres in the country; it has the Trent and canals, and everything that would facilitate the development of calcium carbide factories and all those things. But the Government are excluding it from these provisions. I want to ask the Minister before it is too late to extend this Bill and widen its provisions in order that those districts which feel themselves isolated, which have unemployment rates of anything between 30 and 50 per cent., shall have the right to be treated in a national way, just as this House treats other matters.
§ 6.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Kingsley Griffith
I want to say a few words from the point of view of the area which I represent. I think I am in much the same position as the hon. Member who has just addressed the House with such force and effect. I find myself, with my people, on the edge of a distressed area—a part of it and yet not in it according to the law. That is one of the most disadvantageous positions in which any district could possibly be placed. I have put our case before the Minister. I know that he is familiar with my arguments, and has heard with sympathy the reasons why I believe Middlesbrough and indeed the whole of Tees-side, should be included in the Measure. I do not intend to indulge in mere repetition, but only to recall, as I am bound to do on these occasions, that we owe our non-inclusion to the mere physical accident that the Secretary for Overseas Trade when he was investigating this question on behalf of the Government had not sufficient time to visit our area. That is a very human reason from the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's point of view—and I admire immensely the work which he did—but it meant a very insufficient basis for a Schedule to an Act of Parliament which, as I foretold at the time, was going to affect all subsequent legislation on this subject. Assuming that we are out, for good reasons or bad, as I am bound at present to assume, what reason can there be why any Member from Middlesbrough or district should, from his own local point of view, desire to see the Measure extended? What inducements have we to seek inclusion? What good news is it going to mean to us?
I do not want to take up a "dog-in-the-manger" attitude and say that I am going to vote against benefits being distributed, because the people whom I represent are not participating in them. I know that the Minister Las a very effective way of using speeches of that kind. He argues: You say that these proposals are no use, and then you make a great protest when you are not included in them. We have heard that argument a good many times and probably will hear it again, but I would remind the Minister that we have all seen men standing in queues waiting for a pitiful kind of dole. That does not mean that they consider the dole adequate. But if it is all 1481 there is for them, they will hold out their hands for it together with the rest, and I say that these proposals, as they affect those who are on the borders of Special Areas and are influenced by the same conditions as the Special Areas while not included in them by the Schedule, are not only useless but definitely detrimental.
In the area which I know there is one main industry which, thanks to certain artificial conditions, is working to a considerable extent of its capacity. Yet it leaves out some 8,000 persons who have no prospect of being absorbed in that main industry, and have no hope except in the introduction of light industries. Take the case of anybody who wants to start a light industry and who has been persuaded to turn his eyes in the direction of the North-East. He takes a ticket at King's Cross and starts in the right direction, but he has been given every inducement not to change at Darlington, not to go to the Tees-side, but to continue his journey in the direction of Newcastle and Gateshead. That is doing us actual and positive harm. I wish no harm to Newcastle or Gateshead. I am glad to see them get all they can, so long as it is without detriment to my area. But the artificial inducements which are now being offered elsewhere are definitely drawing work away from us.
That is the case put forward by the Tees-side Development Board. That body does not consist exclusively of members of my party or the Socialist party. It has members of all parties. Indeed, a very prominent member of it has been invited to stand against me in the national interest. I do not know whether he is going to accept or not, but I am sure that he is considering, as I am doing now, the interests of the district. I have it from the Tees-side Development Board that their activities are being stultified by proposals such as those before us. Just when they thought they were getting a chance to bring industries to the district, they have seen the opportunity taken away from them. They tell me that they have had definite information about an industry which was considering establishing itself in our district and which has gone to another place because we have not been included in these proposals. That is a serious position. We have to consider the thousands of people who are still out of work. What hopes have they? It is not merely a matter of 1482 nothing being done for them; it is that they are not being treated equally with others who are in the same position. It may be said that my speech is an argument against any kind of Special Areas legislation. It is not that, but I say that Special Areas legislation which selects areas for special treatment without any proper consideration of the right basis on which those areas should be delimited, is calculated to damage those people who are, as we are, on the borderline.
I hope the ears of the Minister are not yet closed to such pleas as I am making. It is an urgent appeal on behalf of these borderline districts which are now getting the worst of both worlds. Many of them are associated in the public mind with this question. Owing to the great efforts of my predecessor in the representation of West Middlesbrough the late Mr. Trevelyan Thomson, Middlesbrough is so associated in the public mind. It was from us that the appeal for the Special Areas first came. We have in a sense the reputation of being a place which is badly off so that it needs special assistance, but we do not get the special assistance. Thus, making, as I say the worst of both worlds, we are in a position in which no district ought to be placed. We ask that our claim should be considered on its merits and that when the Government have made up their mind that there are parts of the country whose unemployment is so great and whose prospects of obtaining re-employment are so small that special measures require to be taken, those special measures ought to be directed to every area which needs them and not restricted to areas chosen on a purely artificial basis.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Batey
Clause 1 of this Bill proposes to continue the 1934 Act until the expiration of the new Act, and it is proposed that the new Act, this Bill, shall expire on 31st March, 1939. It may be that I shall have the opportunity of moving that it shall be 1938 instead of 1939, but at the moment we have no hesitation in seeking to bring the 1934 Act to an end at once, and if we could, we would equally defeat Clause 1 and end the whole business at the end of May, 1937. The Special Areas Act, 1934, has been in operation for 2½ years, and to us, coming from the Special Areas, that Act has been an absolute failure. While it has been in operation for 2½ years, we believe that 1483 that has been two years at least too long. This new Bill raises no hopes for us. The 1934 Act simply gave powers to one person to deal with the Special Areas, but the new Bill brings in three persons. The Commissioner plays a part, the Treasury may play another part, and the Minister of Labour also comes into the picture. There is an old saying that "too many cooks spoil the broth," and there is just the possibility that, with so many taking part in this new Measure, there will be very little hope that benefit will come to the Special Areas.
The Commissioner is given power in the new Bill to let factories. What that can mean one cannot tell, but it seems to me that he has some factories in his waistcoat pocket that he can let out. He has power to make contributions to new undertakings by the relief of rent, Income Tax, or rates for five years; he has power to make a grant towards the repair or improvement of streets; and he may contribute towards the expenses of field drainage. There, it seems to me, the Commissioner's power ends, without the slightest hope of doing anything more than has been done for the Special Areas, which has been practically nothing. The Treasury comes into the picture, and if a site is found, it can give financial assistance to the company, but there seems very little hope there. The Treasury may also provide financial assistance by way of loan to any new industrial undertaking. One will watch that with interest, and I hope that we may not be disappointed with that provision as we have been with all the rest. The Minister of Labour has power to certify a neighbourhood where there is severe unemployment. Seeing that the new Bill does so little, I repeat that we should have no hesitation in ending the 1934 Act at the end of May this year and in allowing the new Bill to drop altogether.
Coming from the Special Areas, I want to argue to-night on this Clause that under the 1934 Act South-West Durham has received no benefit, and there is no prospect, if the Act is continued or the new Bill comes into force, of South-West Durham receiving any benefit in the future. The boom in trade has not touched South-West Durham. Even the Minister of Labour, speaking, I think it was, on the Second Reading of the Bill, said of South-West Durham: 1484Members who have read the report presented to the Commissioner by Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners will know from that frank report that South-West Durham shows no improvement at all.The Minister of Labour has to confess that after 2½ years of the Special Areas Act South-West Durham presents no improvement at all.
I have taken out al the index for unemployment five Employment Exchanges in South-West Durham and have found that at Bishop Auckland the percentage of unemployed was 39.5 in March last, and in the previous month it was 36.6. Unemployment is increasing there. At Cockfield, another Exchange, the percentage of unemployment was 37.1 in March and in February 33.7; at Crook, in my own area, the percentage of unemployment was 30.4 in March and in February it was 29.6, an increase of unemployment there also; at Spennymoor in March this year the unemployment was 21.4 and in February it was 23.7; and at Shildon, also in the Bishop Auckland division, in March the percentage was 38.8, and in the previous month it was 37.5. In those five Employment Exchanges there has been an increase of unemployment, and we have found no benefit whatever from the Special Areas Act.
When we compare those figures with London, we find that London had only 7.3 unemployment in March and 7.3 also in February. Birmingham had only 4 per cent. in March, and in February it had 4.2, so that when we compare those Exchanges in South-West Durham—and I have taken them as covering the greater part of the area—with either London or Birmingham, I submit that we have ground for complaint against the Special Areas Act, because it has done so little for us. There was issued in February a Press statement that is worth while reading. It was issued by a very responsible person in the North of England, on 6th February, 1937 and it says:The main question for all areas (in South-West Durham) except Weardale is still what is going to happen to the immense coal deposits now largely abandoned and submerged … We have had the expert opinion of two well-known mining engineers. Both say that South-West Durham's stores of coal are practically inexhaustible … Today they are actually importing coal into South-West Durham, and in big quantities, yet hardly big enough to meet the demands. Gas companies and other big users of coal in the area are experiencing much difficulty 1485 in getting their full demands met. Great quantities of coal used at the coke works in Crook are being brought by rail from South Yorkshire. Much of the household coal burnt in the district is having to be brought from the Birtley area. A good deal Of coal consumed in Shildon is brought all the way from South Yorkshire. There are instances which might be multiplied, and it seems to denote a regrettable, if not chaotic, state of affairs, and these large workless mining communities, in many cases with 10 years of dreary unemployment behind them, ponder and wonder.We are scarcely any better off to-day than we were when the first report was made on the depressed areas, and it is wise for the Committee to remember that the Special Areas Act was brought forward, not because the Government wanted to do it, but because reports had been given by four Commissioners on the distressed areas and that those Commissioners were appointed because of the pressure of the Press. The Government would not budge, so far as the Special Areas were concerned, until the Press took the matter in hand, and the "Times" sent a correspondent up to Durham. That correspondent, in an article on 20th March, 1934, before the first four Commissioners were appointed, stated:There are parts of Durham where one feels, strongly and sometimes angrily, that London has still no conception of the troubles that affect the industrial North.One could repeat the same words to-day. Neither London, nor the Government, nor any Minister in the Government seems to realise the condition of the industrial North. They gave us this Special Areas Act in 1934, and here we are to-day not in the least better off than we were then. "The Government can think over this question as much as they like, but there is only one way to deal with it, and we have been arguing that one way in this House for years. What should be done in Durham, and especially in South-West Durham, is to have some of the coal pits re-opened. I put a question to-day to the Secretary for Mines, asking him how many coal pits in Durham were producing coal in 1920 and how many this year. His answer was that there were 256 pits in 1920 and that this year there are only 199. He told us at the same time that there were employed in the coal pits in Durham, in 1920, 171,600 men, and that to-day there are only 112,800 men employed.
There are, therefore, 57 fewer pits working in Durham than in 1920, and 58,800 1486 fewer men employed. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer was speaking on the Second Reading he gave five ways which he said were in his mind for dealing with the Special Areas. The first was to revive the old industries and the second was the setting up of new industries. I think that the Chancellor hit the nail on the head, for what is most needed in the Special Areas is to deal with the old industries. After all is said and done, the Special Areas question is a mining question, and what is needed is to deal with the coal trade. Is there any justification for 60,000 fewer men being employed in Durham, or for South West Durham being in the position in which it is, with so many pits closed and, as far as one can judge, no appearance of the coalowners wanting to re-open them? I sometimes wonder whether lack of capital is not really responsible for the closed pits. We often in a jocular mood ask, "What did Gladstone say in 1860?" I was re-reading the life of Gladstone during the Recess, and I came upon these wise words which he wrote to Lord Northcote in 1862:Capital and labour are in permanent competition for the division of the fruits of production. When in years of war, say, £20,000,000 annually are provided by loans, say, for three, five or 10 years, then two consequences follow. First, an immense fictitious stimulus is given to labour at the time, and thus much more labour is brought into the market. Second, when that stimulus is withdrawn an augmented quantity of labour is left to compete in the market with a greatly diminished quantity of capital. Here is the story of the misery of great masses of the English people after 1815, or at, least a material part of that story.What truth there was in that statement! Lack of capital is responsible for so many pits in Durham being closed.
§ Mr. Batey
I am trying to argue that we are no better under the 1934 Act. Under that Act the Commissioners have power to deal with South-West Durham. One of the troubles in that district, apart from the closing of the pits, is that water is getting the upper hand. It will, therefore, be very difficult to reopen the pits and the water is a danger to the other pits. The Commissioner has dealt with that problem in South-West Durham, but so far we are no better off. We would 1487 like to know whether there is any proposal in this Bill to meet that situation. There is no justification for our pits being kept closed. There is an immense demand for coal which can scarcely be satisfied, and with that demand it is the duty of the Government to take some action. I am going to argue later that we should have a Cabinet Minister with power to deal with that question and to open these pits.
We are told that the expenditure on munitions has been a help, but it has not benefited South-West Durham by a penny. We are also told that a trading estate has been started near Gateshead, and we have actually had a report in which it was suggested that men in South-West Durham would be able to find employment at the trading estate. It is ridiculous to expect men to travel 30 miles from South-West Durham to Gateshead. There is, therefore, no hope for us from either the expenditure upon munitions or the trading estate. Then the Minister of Labour has told us that he proposes to set up an executive committee in South-West Durham. I get amused at the setting up of these committees. We see so many of them, but they do nothing. He is a long time setting the committee up, for it is many weeks since he made the announcement. Even when it is set up, however, it will simply leave us where we are. This executive body is to consist of three members and it is to be known as the South-West Durham Improvement Association. The name is the best thing about it. It sounds so well and looks so well, and when you first see it you think there is some hope there. The duties of this body will be to investigate the economic possibilities of the area—
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Will the hon. Member point out under what provision of the Act, which this Clause proposes to continue, that proposal will come?
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Not necessarily at all. I cannot find anything in the Act of 1934 which will enable the Minister to set up this body. I am afraid the hon. Member cannot discuss it now.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
At the moment we are not discussing the new proposals. We are discussing the proposal to continue the Act of 1934, and there is nothing in that Act which enables the Minister to set up a body of this sort. Although I agree that the hon. Gentleman will be entitled to discuss it, he must find a more appropriate occasion on which to do so.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
It is clear that whatever the Minister may have done, it does not arise under the 1934 Act. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that the proper moment to discuss this question is when the Minister's Estimates are before the House.
§ Mr. Batey
We will have another try before this sitting finishes, because this is the only hope we have in South-West Durham. There is no hope in continuing the 1934 Act, or in the present Bill. The only hope before us is the Minister's proposal, so that we shall have to discuss it sooner or later. The 1934 Act has been of no use to us in South-West Durham and I suggest that the Minister should get the Cabinet to agree to something altogether different. We said in 1934 that the Act would be of no use, and our words have proved to be true.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Bevan
I rise to continue the discussion with some timidity, because the atmosphere earlier in the Debate created the impression that there was some antagonism between the Chair and the Committee. It would be surprising if it were not so, because we have been put in a position of such difficulty that we would not be surprised if the Chair considered that we were making an attempt to enlarge the discussion beyond the limits that have been ruled by the Chair. It would be difficult to have a Clause which would afford a wider discussion than the Clause we are considering, because, if we were to defeat the Clause, the whole structure of legislation which deals with the Special Areas and the Bill before the 1489 Committee would collapse at the end of May. The purpose of this Clause is to continue the apparatus that was established in 1934.
I submit, therefore, that we are entitled to pass in review the machinery set up by the Government in the Act of that year, and to show that the machinery has failed in its avowed purpose, and ought to be allowed to collapse and machinery of a different kind put in its place. Had it not been for the atmosphere of mutual suspicion in which this Debate unfortunately started it would be perfectly proper under a Clause of this description to discuss it, because if we were discussing this under the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, for example, we should have a very wide discretion.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
If the hon. Gentleman is appealing to me, so far I can see no objection to any statement he has made. As long as he confines himself to the Act of 1934 he is perfectly in order.
§ Mr. Bevan
I was merely endeavouring to disperse the atmosphere of suspicion and to stake out my claim for what I propose to say. I will remind the Committee of the history of this legislation. It has been suggested that this legislation had its origin in the Act of 1934. That is not so. This legislation had its origin in the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1934. I would like to read the First Clause of the second part of the Unemployment Insurance Act. Under that Act a board was set up, and Clause 1 (2) of Part II says:The functions of the board shall be the assistance of persons to whom this part of this Act applies who are in need of work and the promotion of their welfare, and in particular the making of provision for the improvement and re-establishment of the condition of such persons.The Minister of Labour was asked what was the meaning of the language in that part of the Act because it was very wide, and he replied:It is intended by us that the board shall be entrusted with the welfare of those persons who are in the Special Areas.They were then called distressed areas. He said that the provision of their welfare shall be restricted in no fashion, but that if it were necessary for the Board to provide employment, it would do so. Many defenders of the establishment of the Board at that time in this House 1490 defended the Bill on the grounds that here we were establishing an instrument which would, without interference, from day to day have the responsibility of looking after these people. To confirm that the then Minister of Labour who is now President of the Board of Education used these words, referring to a portion of the Bill:The Sub-section also goes on to point out the relationships with other bodies, first of all with the Unemployment Assistance Board, who have a very special interest in this matter, not only because they are made, by a subsequent Clause of the Bill, a sort of residuary legatee of the functions of these Commissioners if and when Parliament decides to terminate the experiment, but also because, in the Act which was passed this summer, the Unemployment Assistance Board, in addition to its duties with regard to transitional payments, was charged with the general welfare of the unemployed. "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd December, 1934; col. 1253, Vol. 295.]So that when the Government first approached this problem in 1934 it was understood that the scheme they had in mind at that time was to entrust the Unemployment Assistance Board with precisely the functions the Commissioners now exercise, because under the Act of 1934 no limitations of any sort are imposed on the Unemployment Assistance Board and there is nothing in either the Act of 1934 establishing the Commissioners and defining the Special Areas, or the Bill before the House, that could not be discharged by the Unemployment Assistance Board itself. Let me at once protect myself against any misunderstanding; I am not pleading that the Unemployment Assistance Board is the proper body to deal with a job of this kind. All I am saying is that the first thought in the minds of the Government when they first approached this problem was that that was the body to deal with it. Why did they not proceed? Because the first important act of the Unemployment Assistance Board made that body so unpopular and revealed such incompetence and incapacity, I hope that the Minister does not deny that, because it was admitted by his predecessor, in so many words, that the Unemployment Assistance Board charged with this function behaved so unsympathetically and revealed such a lack of understanding of the problem, both on its human and its social side, that they dare not allow the Board to discharge this wider function, and it was in consequence of this, under 1491 pressure from the House, the Press and the general public, that the Government were forced to appoint Commissioners. They appointed them, but they never intended that these Commissioners should be permanent. We are now in 1937. We have had this experiment for three years. It was never intended either at that time or since to be the means which the Government are to use as the means of dealing with this problem permanently. It was always regarded as of a temporary nature, as an experiment. Here is the language of the Minister of Labour in moving the Second Reading of the Bill:Yet the sort of work which is to be inaugurated by these Commissioners in certain areas, and which, if successful, can be extended by other bodies to the country as a whole"—and lower down it was suggested that the Commissioners should embark upon experiments, and when those experiments had been proved successful it was intended that they should be embodied in the general legislation of the country. In other words, the Commissioners were never regarded at any time as the chief executive of the Government's plans to deal with this problem, but merely as pioneers, to expose the possibilities of the situation, and, having exposed them, to pass their functions over to the Unemployment Assistance Board. That is what is meant by the term "residuary legatee." These Commissioners could break fresh ground, be more experimental; and because these gentlemen would be of such a free-lance nature, it was desirable to appoint them, but the real job would be discharged by the Unemployment Assistance Board.
What body do the Government propose to establish in place of the Unemployment Assistance Board which it was their intention should be the permanent body, because, obviously, in amending the Act of 1934 we are merely dealing with the experiments. We are not dealing with the plan itself, and if, therefore, neither the Act of 1934 nor the Bill is the plan, where is the plan? The Minister of Labour at that time showed how ambitious his intentions were, because he went on to point out that one of the main ways of approaching this problem was by the proper distribution of leisure. He said: 1492The leisure that you have to-day is ill-distributed and ill-supported, so we call it the problem of unemployment, and we say it is a terrible thing, and so it is, but, if and when, under whatever scheme it may be, that passes away, the problem will not go. It will only change its name, and it will become then a problem of leisure."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd December. 1934; col. 1265, Vol. 295.]The problem of the distressed areas in some form or another will still remain but one of the ways of dealing with it is by the redistribution of leisure. I would like to know from the Minister of Labour—and the House is entitled to know—if the proposal now before the House is only in the nature of an experiment, and is not intended to be part of the permanent plans of the Government, what his plans are for dealing with the problem, because there is not an hon. Member in any part of the House who is contented with the line which the Government are taking.
To reveal the complete absence of general strategy on the part of the Government, I should like to give an illustration. A little while ago—I think it was at the time of the Jubilee—the South Wales Miners' Federation approached the South Wales coalowners for a paid holiday on that festive occasion. The coalowners said that they could not do it, but what they proposed to do was by subscription from their members to make a gift of £50,000 towards the establishment of a pensions fund in the coalfields, provided, of course, that the miners' contributions would be forthcoming and a satisfactory scheme would eventually be evolved. The miners agreed to give £20,000, so there they were with £70,000 with which to start off, and we thought, "Here is a good nucleus of a fund, and we will try to get the men over 65 out of work and put the men under 65 in their places. In other words, we will bring about that desirable distribution of leisure which the Minister of Labour suggested was one of the permanent ways of dealing with this problem." To show the absence of general plan on the part of the Government, how utterly they lack any general strategy, the committee responsible, the officers and executive of the South Wales Miners Federation, evolved a scheme which, I think, meant a contribution of 6d. a week on behalf of the men by the employer and by the men themselves. They said, "Obviously 1493 we cannot make this contribution towards taking the older men out of our industry unless we can have some guarantee that the Unemployment Assistance Board will not be relieved of some of its burdens."
§ Mr. Bevan
The Act of 1934 was contemplated by the Government at that time as an experimental Act, and we are now being asked to continue it and to agree that it is a satisfactory way of dealing with this problem. I am dealing not with this or that provision of that Act, but with the whole scheme. We are entitled to indict the whole scheme and to suggest that it is not adequate to deal with the problem, and as an illustration I am showing how we have to deal with unemployment in South Wales because the Government are unable to embrace it within this scheme. I am only too anxious to conform to your Ruling, Captain Bourne, but it is necessary that we should expose the limitations of this debate, otherwise we are going to find ourselves ham strung all along the line and able to utter only generalisations. The South Wales Miners' Federation said, as the Commissioners have said, that it is desirable that the Government should regard certain unemployed people as being permanently unemployed either on account of their age or the long periods during which they have been unemployed, and that those people should be lifted out of the labour market. A deputation met representatives of the Ministry of Labour—I do not know whether the Minister himself met them —and the Ministry of Health and the Unemployment Assistance Board and asked, "If we, under our scheme, give 10s. a week to a miner over 65 years of age, and take him out of employment, will that 10s. a week be taken into account in assessing—"
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I cannot see that that question can possibly be affected, whether this Clause remains in the Bill or not.
§ Mr. Bevan
I am not dealing with the merits of this way of treating unemployment, because that would be out of order, but am simply pointing out that under the existing Act, which we are asked to continue, the Government are 1494 not developing a plan to deal with unemployment in the distressed areas. I am showing the limitations of the plan which under this Clause the Government are asking us to perpetuate. If we vote against the Clause and reject it then the Act is dead, and if the Act dies some other form of Act will be necessary. I listened to the Ruling given by the Chairman, and I think I am entitled to suggest that there are alternatives which the Government ought to adopt. I am not arguing negatively against the Act, but positively on behalf of alternatives which could be advanced if the Act were dead. I was merely using this as an illustration, and had almost reached my conclusion. In answer to that deputation the Unemployment Assistance Board, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Health stated that under existing legislation the Board must take into account—and so must public assistance committees—any moneys which become part of the resources of a household. Therefore, that scheme has fallen to the ground, no progress is being made with it, because if the men made contributions towards pensions for their aged parents those pensions would be taken into account and unemployment assistance to other unemployed members of the family would be reduced. That is the position. Does the Minister deny it In all parts of the House it must be agreed that we are facing a very serious problem. In the distressed areas we have thousands of unemployed men over 65 years of age, and a very large number of younger and middle-aged men out of work.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The hon. Member is now getting perilously near discussing the merits of what he himself agreed would not be in order.
§ Mr. Bevan
I think I am entitled to ask the Minister whether it is a fact that now, in 1937, he and his colleagues still impose upon themselves statutory limitations which prevent them from giving effect to proposals adumbrated by the Minister of Labour in 1934. If that is so, the Government are not, in this proposal, deploying any general attack on the problem of the distressed areas, but merely passing shadow legislation through the House of Commons, with the idea that once having got it through they will not be bothered again for a very long time; and yet at the same time that they 1495 are doing this they are administratively frustrating substantial solutions of the problem in the distressed areas. We are inclined on these occasions to use strong language, but how does the Minister expect us to describe the attitude of the Government? All along their attitude has been that of people looking at a natural catastrophe, like an earthquake, a storm or a flood. They have been urging people in different parts of the country to adopt towns in South Wales or on the North-East Coast.
I have had some experience of what that adoption means. I met a young fellow with whom I used to be at school. He is now a heavy fellow, standing about 6 feet 2 inches in height and weighing about 15 stone, and he was walking along the street in a pair of tennis shoes, running shorts and a blazer. I said, "Where an earth have you got those things?" He answered, "I have been adopted." Those things were his share of the surplus from the South of England. They had been sent by a town which had adopted one of the South Wales towns. That is characteristic of the sort of thing that must happen as a result of the way the Government are dealing with this problem. This is not a case for charity, but a case for organised, sustained, social attack, and that is what the Government have not undertaken. A large proportion of the plan in the Bill involves private charity. I mention this only in passing, because it would be out of order to deal with it at length, but I have heard that the Government have contracted out of their duty to give grants, and I understand that the same committee is going to administer the Nuffield Trust as administer the finances of this Bill, so that a public benefactor, because he is rich enough to make a contribution, is going to determine the direction of our legislation. The whole of this legislation is ill-conceived, and I am sure I am speaking the minds of hon. Members on this side of the Committee when I say that in place of this ill-advised pre-war method of dealing with this problem we should prefer to see the whole Act collapse and create a vacuum, because in that vacuum we might be able to put something better. I hope that my hon. Friends will vote against this Clause, because if it is defeated we shall have an opportunity, which we have never had before of putting 1496 forward a concrete scheme bold and comprehensive enough to deal with this most stubborn problem of the day.
§ 7.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Maclean
The Debate has had this peculiarity, that everyone who has taken part in it has spoken from this side of the Committee, either from above the Gangway or below it. No hon. Member on the Government side has seen fit either to defend the Bill or to attack the Minister. The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. H. Macmillan) spoke, but what he said was in no way complimentary to the Act or to the Bill. As no Members on the Government side have defended the Bill one must imagine that they are in no way enamoured of it or interested in the subject. Had they even been satisfied with the operations of the Act which we are asked to continue they would have been heard extolling it to the skies in reply to the criticisms from these benches. I rise again to take up what may be regarded as a favourite subject of mine. I have been asking for some time that Glasgow, of which I represent one of the divisions, should be included in this Bill, and on the Order Paper appear a large number of Amendments which I drafted and put down with other Members' names to them besides my own—with the consent of those other Members—with the set object of getting Glasgow included.
It is a peculiar thing that the second largest city in the country, which is reckoned to be the second city of the Empire, has the largest number of unemployed of any city in this country and also has the largest number of people in receipt of poor relief. It has not been scheduled as a distressed area, and yet it forms the centre of three counties each of which has been described and set apart by the Commissioners as a Special Area. The Government have paid attention neither to the recommendations, the suggestions nor the criticisms of the Commissioners whom they themselves appointed. Those Commissioners went into the areas to investigate, and they put the result of their investigations into reports which contained certain Appendices, in which were set out figures, and statements which were made by people who were interviewed. The curious feature is that the Appendix which contains particulars relating to investigations in Glasgow was suppressed 1497 from the first report issued by the Commissioners, and has never been published. All my requests to have it published or sent to Members of Parliament as a typewritten document were unheeded by the Government until two years after the publication of the first report. I was then informed that a typewritten copy of the Appendix dealing with Glasgow was to be placed in the Library, but the figures upon which the report had been based were by that time of no further use for the purposes of criticism.
Glasgow is not a Special Area, but it is bounded by three counties which are Special Areas. In a short time a Pro, visional Order Bill is likely to come before this House from the city of Glasgow, in which it is proposed to extend the boundaries of the city by taking in certain territory from two of the counties on the boundaries, with the consent of the county councils in question. If that is approved, a curious situation will arise, because people who are presently living in certified Special Areas will be taken into a city which is not a Special Area. The Commissioners make certain startling statements in their report, but the Ministry of Labour and the Government have ignored the recommendations of the Commissioners with regard to the city of Glasgow. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Arthur Rose said, in his report upon Scotland:It will be noted that this idea includes the city of Glasgow … In this connection the present investigation has clearly shown that the lot of those in the urban districts who are unlikely to be absorbed into industry is often far more serious … than those who are situated in the depressed villages … The justification for including Glasgow and other large towns in the investigation is that their burden is increased by the extent to which they attract labour from other districts, in spite of the depression of their own industrial units.Then he goes on, on page 225:It is also understood that a large proportion of the industrial transference so far effected has been from Lanarkshire"—that is, a Special Area—to districts such as Glasgow, which are officially classified as not depressed … Many persons have been consulted on this point and there is general agreement that the City of Glasgow forms the centre of a single depressed area and shares its burdens to a very material extent.… As would be anticipated the greatest problem is found in parts of Lanarkshire and it is impossible to exclude the City of Glasgow.… It is impossible to escape the conclusion that Glasgow and West 1498 Lanark (with parts of Renfrew and Dumbarton) is an industrial unit rendered so compact by interdependence of the principal industries and by modern transport facilities that no part can be affected for good or harm without reaction to the whole.In these very definite statements, Sir Arthur Rose sets out his opinion that Glasgow should be included as a Special Area and accepted by the Government as such, yet the Government bring in the Financial Resolution, upon which the present Bill is based, so tightly drawn and skilfully conceived, that no Amendment could be moved to it or to the present Bill. Most of the Amendments put forward would be of a constructive character if they were embodied in the Bill, and would lighten the burden of a number of districts, but they are certain to be ruled out of order. The Chairman of Committee had no option in doing so. We do not, and cannot; place the responsibility for ruling the Amendments out of order upon the Chairman, nor upon you, Captain Bourne, but we place it upon the Government. They instructed the draftsman in the drafting of the Resolution, and it was their spokesman who explained the Financial Resolution at the Government Box. It was their Whips who herded their supporters into the Lobby to vote for the Resolution. They must take the responsibility for any further distress which may be caused in the country as a result.
I notice that the Secretary of State for Scotland seems amused. As a representative of the same city with myself he should know the state of affairs existing in the city of Glasgow. He represents a division in which are some of the worst slums in the city, and at the Employment Exchange in that division there is probably the third largest number registered in the city of Glasgow. He ought not to sit there and smile at any statement which I make with regard to the incompetence of the Government to deal with the matter which is before the Committee. It is not merely a question of unemployment, but of unemployment assistance. The Unemployment Assistance Board are supposed to take over all those people, and it was expected that cities which had formerly borne the burden would be better off, but that is not the case with Glasgow. We are being left with those whom the Unemployment Assistance 1499 Board cannot take over under the Unemployment Assistance Act, 1934. It is estimated that there will be between 3,000 and 4,000 people, with dependents, left upon the Poor Law authorities or the public assistance authorities in Glasgow, when the final individual is taken over by the board.
During the last five years, the number of able-bodied persons chargeable to the ordinary Poor Law has more than doubled. Many people have exhausted their own savings and, in the case of elderly people, their families have been unemployed for so long as to be no longer able to contribute towards the maintenance of those people, as was pointed out by the Scottish Board of Health, in the report referred to. That is the Secretary of State's own Department. According to a statement issued by the Glasgow Corporation, Glasgow contains 40 per cent. of the ordinary poor of Scotland and one-third of the unemployed in Scotland. It goes on:As well as the increase in the number chargeable there has been a corresponding increase in the expenditure on ordinary poor relief. This has risen from £1,018,196 in 1930–31, the first year in which the corporation became the responsible authority, to £2,017,266, for the year 1935–36, an increase of almost £1,000,000 in the five years, additional poor relief paid to those who are not receiving unemployment benefit nor receiving unemployment assistance from the Unemployment Assistance Board.That city, with that burden, is being refused the right, possessed by other cities and towns, to be scheduled as a depressed area, the right that anything which they do in the way of providing work for the unemployed shall be assisted by the Government. If Glasgow undertakes anything of that kind, it has to tax the citizens. The unemployed have to bear, in the rent they pay, part of the burden of that taxation to pay for providing work for the unemployed. The Secretary of State smiled a few moments ago when I mentioned Glasgow. I have represented it longer than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) and I have lived in it longer than he has. I know its people better. One thing I do know about Glasgow is that were the people able to obtain work there would be very few in receipt of public assistance. They prefer to work in the shipyards, the engineering shops, the 1500 clothing factories, the carpet-weaving factories or the railway shops, places where they were formerly employed, but which, on account of the depression, have either closed their doors or are now working with depleted staffs.
Those are the men and women for whom I am speaking, and for whom the Secretary of State for Scotland should be speaking in the Cabinet, where he has some influence and power. As long as he sits on that Front Bench and Glasgow is left in its present circumstances, the right hon. Gentleman must bear his share of responsibility for the situation, and must be answerable to the people of Glasgow for what is being done by the Government. The situation which I have described, backed up, as my statement is, by the report of the Commissioners, and supported by the figures which I have quoted, issued by officials of the Glasgow Corporation, is sufficient indication that the Act which we are seeking, to continue has proved of no avail in checking that condition of things. But for the Government's rearmament programme, there would have been scores of thousands more unemployed in the country, there would have been thousands more on public assistance, and thousands more seeking employment and unable to find it. It is a fictitious boom that we are now having. Five years from now, if world trade does not improve, this country will be deeper in the depths of unemployment and depression than it has been in the past five years. I do not know what the Government are doing to find a way out, or what plans they may have in order to provide against the coming depression when the present rearmament boom is over.
We, of course, are getting our share of the employment that it provides, but, as I have already told the House, in the heavy industries and in the mining industry, where men have been unemployed for several years, not through any fault of their own, but through redundancy, through the closing down of pits, the transference of workshops from the Clyde to parts of England, or the closing down of the shipyards on the Clyde, if men who have not worked for years were given a job to-morrow morning in the colliery, the engineering shop or the shipyard, by the end of the day their hands would be torn and bleeding after handling the tools that 1501 they have not been accustomed to handle for the last four or five years. It takes time to work them in, and the employer to-day does not want to wait for a man's hands to become hardened again so that he can use his skill in fashioning what he used to fashion and prove himself an able craftsman. The employers will not wait for that; they want men who can walk into the yard and produce the full output on the first day that they are started on their job.
Therefore, I suggest that the Secretary of State for Scotland should inform the Cabinet that this Measure which they are proposing to continue will not have any greater effect in the next two years than it has had in the past two years. Before those two years have elapsed, they may find it necessary, not only to scrap the Measure which they are continuing, but to scrap a great many more of their so-called ideas in regard to the treatment of the unemployed and of the depressed and Special Areas, and to try some new plan of up-building industry in this country and giving to the men and women who are unemployed something to look forward to, something that they can take up with dignity, something that will provide for them a living such as they are not getting at the present time.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Cape
When the Special Areas Bill of 1934 was passing through the House, I and others on these benches pointed out to the then Minister of Labour how insufficiently that Measure would meet the needs of the Special Areas. The Bill eventually became an Act, and, according to Clause 1 of the present Bill, the Act of 1934 is to be retained and quoted as the original Act. That appears to me to mean that everything that may be done after the passing of the present Bill will have to be in strict conformity with the Act of 1934, which lays down the general principles on which the Special Areas shall be dealt with. We said at that time that we thought the Bill would scarcely touch the fringe of the problem.
Some of us who have had many years' experience in these so-called Special Areas could see no likelihood of any benefit to those areas from the passing of the 1934 Bill, and I regret very much that our prediction has come true. I represent one of the Special Areas, and I say without any fear of contradiction that not one new industry has come into that area 1502 since the passing of the Act of 1934, nor have any of the old industries been revived. Any help that we have got in that area has been largely by way of sewerage schemes, water schemes, and small schemes of that kind. These are certainly necessary in themselves for the benefit of the community, but there is no permanency, as hon. Members will understand, in schemes of that kind. In Cmd. Paper No. 5386 it is stated that in West Cumberland, on 26th November, 1934, there were 13,530 persons unemployed, while on 25th January, 1937, there were 13,246 unemployed, so that during the two years for which the Act has been in operation West Cumberland has gained nothing from it.
It is fair to say that since those figures were issued the Whitehaven pits have been reopened, but I venture to assert that they have not been reopened as a result of the passing of the Act of 1934, because any assistance that the company have received financially from that Act has been infinitesimal. Therefore, I hope the Minister is not going to say that the reopening of the Whitehaven collieries represents something that has been done under the Special Areas Act, 1934. It has been done by a large iron and steel company which I believe belongs to Scotland and has its chief offices there. That is the only old industry that has been reopened in West Cumberland since the passing of the Act of 1934.
So far as new industries are concerned, there are mills just outside my division which have been reopened, but there again the owner has received no assistance from the Special Areas Fund. The only help that he has received has been some contribution through the Commissioner towards paying some of the fares of girls who have to come long distances to work in these particular mills. Therefore, if we receive no more benefit from the new Bill than we have received from the original Act, we shall not be much better off. I would rather that the Minister told us straight that the Government would do nothing further. That, at any rate, would settle the minds of those who are looking forward to every new development in Parliament with reference to the Special Areas as if it is going to bring some relief. They are hoping against hope. The Commissioner has been hoping; everyone has been buoyed up with the idea that something would 1503 take place. We have had a Deputy Commissioner in that district since 1934, but he left us about a week ago. Whether he left in disgust at what has been done by the Government, or because he felt that he could not do anything more, I do not know, but another man has come to succeed him. There is one thing about the new man, and that is that he cannot do any worse than the other one.
I have been informed, and I think the information is reliable, that several people have made endeavours to establish factories in that area, but cannot get any financial relief or help of any kind to enable them to do so. Indeed, some correspondence has been passing between myself and a gentleman who has been for a long time desirous of starting a factory in the neighbourhood of Maryport, which has 53 or 54 per cent. of the people who are unemployed in that area, but there does not seem to be any possible chance of anything being done. The district is largely dependent on the coal mining industry, and it appears to me that neither the Commissioner, nor the financiers who govern S.A.R.A., nor the Ministry of Labour, is giving any help to anyone coming into that area to start new industries. This gentleman informs me that he has approached various Departments, and has invoked all the machinery set up by the Act of 1934, with a view to trying to establish a factory in that area—not a large one, but an undertaking which, he is prepared to say, would grow. He has a market for the goods that would be produced. But he is unable to proceed because he cannot get some small assistance from the Government towards starting this industry in that locality. I see no reason to doubt what he says, for he has given me his name and address and all his antecedents, and seems to be an extremely reliable person. He just wants some slight assistance towards a site for his factory, or some place that he can recondition and make into a factory suitable for his purpose.
I cannot see much change in the present Bill from the original Act of 1934. In a sense, I would rather the Minister told us that the Government cannot do anything for us; for there is nothing worse than to lead an unemployed man to believe, without real ground, that in a short time he will be fully employed 1504 and enabled to make a livelihood by the skill of his hands and brain. I am speaking from experience. Many years ago I was one of the unfortunate unemployed. It was before the Unemployment Insurance Act came into operation. It was a trial that I would not wish to undergo again. The most disheartening thing about it was that someone said to me, "You be sure to go to such-and-such a place, and I guarantee there will be work for you." I tramped miles buoyed up by the thought that I should get work. When I got there, there was nothing doing, and I was only dispirited and disheartened. The unemployed men of today feel just the same as I did then.
I want the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland, who, I hope, is making notes of what I am saying, to put these matters before the Minister of Labour when he resumes his seat. I want the Minister to give us some idea as to whether or not it is the Government's intention to make an endeavour to do something for that distracted and distressed area called West Cumberland. We want no charity. I do not want our men to be dependent on charitable organisations or institutions, nor distressed districts to be dependent on adoptions by towns or districts in other parts of the country. While I do not want to throw any discredit on those organisations or efforts, I must say that our people prefer work. If they are forced to resort to the help of charitable organisations, it is because they need help to sustain life, but in their hearts they feel they would rather be earning sufficient to maintain themselves and their families by honest toil than have to depend on the good will of other people. If the Bill goes through, I hope the Government will bend their energies more sincerely to practical efforts to help the Special Areas, and that such aid will be given that in three, six, nine or 12 months we shall be able to say in this House that this Bill has done some good for the Special Areas.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Price
Representing one of the distressed areas which has not hitherto come under the operations of the Special Areas Act, I am vitally concerned as to whether this Act is to continue, and, if so, under what conditions it is to operate. Because of what the Act has failed to 1505 do hitherto, I am reluctantly coming to the view that we on this side of the House would be right to refuse to vote for Clause 1 of the present Bill in order that the 1934 Act might, at least temporarily, be put out of action, so that the Government should be made to face up to the position and deal with it in the way we want. Under this Clause, the Act is to continue until 1939. Having regard to what has happened, that is two years too much. The Act is on the Statute Book for the purpose of dealing with the unemployed problem. Up to now it has lamentably failed to deal with the main aspect of it.
An eminent economist, Sir William Beveridge, has recently analysed the unemployment problem. He divides the unemployed into three classes. There is seasonal unemployment due to temporary changes and seasonal movements in industry, and there is unemployment caused by the ups and downs of trade, home or foreign. For the moment there is less unemployment in these two classes than a few years ago. Seasonal unemployment, it is true, is always with us. That kind of unemployment cannot be dealt with by any legislation we can think of. But the second class of unemployment mentioned has, owing to the world trade situation, somewhat improved. The third class of unemployment is due to permanent changes in industry. It is with that kind that we who represent the Special or distressed Areas are mainly concerned. It is due, of course, to permanent world changes, such as the development of textile manufacturing industries in the Far East and India, which has seriously injured Lancashire. It is due also to changes in the use of fuel, and to mining developments abroad which have affected the coal export trade. Those, it is true, are difficult matters which cannot be dealt with under a Bill of this kind, but that fact surely supports all the more the case for dealing with unemployment by trying to attract new industries to the Special Areas.
We have a hard core of unemployment which can only be dealt with by radical measures, and by the Government taking some direct action by way of controlling movement and direction of industry. Measures for the stimulation of the export trade do not come under the 1934 Act, and it would be out of order to discuss them under this Clause. The important 1506 point to which I wish to direct attention is that considerable development has taken place in small engineering industries in certain parts a the country only, particularly round London. They have not developed in those areas where they might have made some impression on this hard core of unemployment. Very serious effects have resulted from this. There has been concentration of industry round about London. From the point of view of defence, that in itself is an important matter which ought to be considered. The destruction of amenities in the rural parts of the south and southeast of England resulting from that concentration is a matter which cannot be left out of consideration either. This development has taken place in a planless way, and speculators have been able to make large sums of money by it.
The main thing to consider here, however, is that under the 1934 Act the Special Areas have been to a large extent deserted. I am not speaking without the support of people not connected with us on these benches. The Special Areas Commissioner in his Second Report pointed out that it was high time that something was done in this matter. It is true he stated expressly that the Government could not be expected to direct industries to go into certain places, but he did say that the Government could very well hinder and make it difficult for industries to go into the districts where their excessive development was socially harmful. He was supported at different times by the "Times," which in special and leading articles pointed out that industries if they went into certain districts, could not expect that they would always find various social services, roads, amenities and services of all kinds such as gas, electricity and so forth provided for them. Those provisions are already there in the Special Areas, and if they have to be provided in the new areas the State has to incur very considerable expense, and not only the State, but local authorities. Perhaps it is more a case for local authorities than for the State.
It has been pointed out in these articles, and by the Commissioner for the Special Areas, that it is quite possible for the Government, in co-operation with local authorities, to take steps to make it more difficult for these industries to go into areas where they are not wanted and to direct them to go into the Special Areas, 1507 where this hard core of unemployment could be dealt with. But the 1934 Act did not deal with it. That is one of its grave failings. Nothing that has hitherto been done shows any signs of the Government dealing with it in that way at all. All they have done is to appoint a committee to inquire into it. But all the evidence is known. We have had a surfeit of inquiries and it is now, surely, time to take action. My constituency has had absolutely no advantage at all. The only so-called advantages that we have got so far is that there are certain facilities for our unemployed young people to leave the district. We say, "Thank you for nothing." We do not want our young people to have to leave the district when all the facilities are there for them to remain. There are schools, roads, railways, gas and electricity. Why should the district be left to go derelict, and why should people be sent to areas where these public services are not to be found when, if the Government controlled the movement of industry, this situation would not arise.
Many of my hon. Friends have shown how unemployment has been caused by the introduction of machine cutting in mining. That is true also in my constituency, which is not a Special Area but only a distressed area, the only advantage of which is that it is allowed to send its young people away more cheaply. Between 2,000 and 3,000 miners in the Forest of Dean have been rendered permanently unemployed in the last 10 years. Nothing that is proposed shows any signs of any change. The quarrying industry has gone. Forest of Dean stone, once valuable commercially, is no longer of the use that it was owing to the development of the cement industry. All the time pressure is being put on local authorities to improve drainage and to build more schools, and yet we see the industrial and economic basis and the rateable value, on which alone these improvements can rest, slowly slipping away from us. There is nothing under the 1934 Act which would have helped to bring in fresh developments in the mining industry. We have large deposits of iron ore lying underneath the coal, which were worked many years ago. Now, owing to world conditions and better prices, there is an opportunity to revive it. That cannot be done without de-watering the old mines. 1508 There is nothing in the Act to enable the Commissioners to assist in the de-watering of the mines and, under private capitalism, unless there are sufficient inducements for profit, we shall never get the work done.
I feel it my duty to call attention to the grave deficiencies of the Act, and to call upon the Government to realise the situation as far as the distressed areas as well as the Special Areas are concerned. It is difficult to put a geographical limit to the conditions caused by this hard core of unemployment brought about by industrial changes in the last 20 or 30 years. Many of my hon. Friends have suffered from unemployment in their day. I may have been born in more fortunate circumstances than some of them but I have seen men whom I had to do with when I was a young man prematurely aged owing to years of unemployment. I am glad that the opportunity has at last been afforded to us to point out the inadequacy of the legislation that the Government has passed. The Government should realise its responsibility for scientifically controlling the movement of industry. If it cannot direct new industries to go into certain areas, it can at least make it difficult for an industry to develop in an area where it is not wanted, and indirectly force it to go into districts where there are the men, the communications and public facilities. For that reason alone we should be fully justified in voting against the Clause in order to make the Government face up to the position and improve the 1934 Act along the lines that we wish. Only by that means will it deal with the lard core of unemployment.
§ 8.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Kelly
I have tried to make out why we should support the continuation of the 1934 Measure. If we supported the Clause it would mean giving approval to the Act and, strive as one may, one cannot find in it anything that is going to deal with the problem with which we are faced, not only in the Special Areas but in all parts of the country. I sometimes hear people making a comparison between one part and another, between sections of Lancashire and the areas mentioned in the Schedule to the Act of 1934. Whether unemployment can be counted in a very high percentage or whether it is mentioned as a small percentage, it means misery 1509 and human destitution for families concerned in it. We have laid it down in this country that people must have an income, and then we take little care to see that they have the opportunity of obtaining that income. We have laid it down that, as far as the bulk of the people are concerned, they must find some fellow citizen who will utilise their services and in return pay them a few shillings for whatever they have been engaged in producing. That being so, instead of thinking in terms of the appointment of a couple of Commissioners, which is what was meant by the Act of 1934, and the setting up of trading estates, more regard should be paid to the providing of an income for those families for whose services industry and the commercial pursuits of this country have no longer any need.
One would imagine that trading estates are something new. I have known of one in Manchester for the last 40 years—Trafford Park. I do not think that anyone will suggest that the providing of a trading estate, where works may be planned or erected, is going to solve this acute problem of unemployment and the treating of human beings as of no further use to society. I can find little more in the Act of 1934 than an investigation by the Commissioners, and to suggest to the people affected that they are to have their difficulties eased and are to have an opportunity of obtaining an income with which to maintain themselves and their families by anything that is provided in this Measure, is holding out something about which they will be very speedily disappointed. I have wondered what is to be done if we are going to consider that the provision of employment in the service of some particular individual is to be the only means of obtaining the income with which people can purchase the necessaries of life and be able to maintain themselves.
We are endeavouring to-day by invention and the application of science to get rid of as much human labour as possible. In the various trades and occupations, in engineering, the chemical trades, the glass industry, the textile industry, we are producing more than ever we produced before, and with a less number of people engaged in that production. How are the proposals which are before us to-night going to deal with that particular side of the problem, where we are likely to have 1510 more and more people turned away from the factories, the workshops and the offices? In the offices to-day we are making every endeavour to get the work performed without calling upon human effort and the human hand and brain being engaged in it.
If there is in this Measure anything that is of advantage, why is it restricted to certain areas? If it is likely to prove of some advantage in providing employment and income for families which are to-day without employment and income, why is it not extended? Unemployment is not confined to the areas mentioned in the Act of 1934. Unemployment and something just as serious, under employment, short time, is operative in many areas. What about the districts of Yorkshire and Lancashire where with wonderful patience the people have tolerated their inadequately low wages by reason of unemployment and underemployment during the last 10 years? Their patience is surprising and difficult to understand. I do not look upon it as a virtue on their part, but as something of a vice that they are prepared to submit to such conditions as those to which they have submitted during those years.
In looking at this Clause, in which we are asked to agree that there is something of advantage in the Act of 1934, I cannot see in it that there is anything which touches the problem of unemployment and the serious problem of under-employment, and the misery and want that attaches to so many families. We have referred to the adult section of the population largely to-day, but there is a serious problem with regard to the young people. The Commissioners appear to think that by transferring these young people from their own districts into large cities and towns, and so getting rid of the problem from one district, they are doing something to ease or to solve the problem. Much as I want to see our people employed and our young people not allowed to deteriorate, this method, unless it is very carefully safeguarded and provision made not only for wage payments but for their care throughout working time and afterwards, contains dangers more serious than if they were left in their own particular districts. The break up of family life which is taking place in so many of these areas is not a credit to the Government or to any who are in control of industry and commerce. I cannot see 1511 that in this Clause we are doing anything which will help in the solution of the problem, and I hope to have the opportunity of voting against it.
§ 8.37 p.m.
Mr. W. Joseph Stewart
I desire to intervene for a few moments in the Debate to deal with a Clause which continues the Special Areas (Development and Improvement) Act of 1934. I have always thought that the name given to that Act was a misnomer. Up till now, as one who resides in a Special Area, I have been unable to see any appreciable good that has accrued to us as a Special Area by the operation of the Act. Under it Commissioners were appointed to do certain work. They were to be responsible to certain Ministers of the Crown for making certain investigations and certain suggestions, with a view of bringing some amount of relief to areas which were termed "Special." It is interesting to note the suggestions which were made by the Commissioners to deal with the Special Areas. They included the allocation of industry, the question of transfers, afforestation, new industries, pensions for aged workers, the equalisation of the poor rates, oil from coal, and drainage works. I suggest that if these recommendations of the Commissioners had been put into operation by the Government the Special Areas to-day would not be in the condition in which they are.
Let me deal with one or two of the suggestions made by the Commissioners. Take the question of afforestation. It has been suggested that in England and Wales, in the near future, 200,000 acres more would be under afforestation giving employment to 2,000 workers and finding permanent holdings for 1,000 people, at an initial expenditure of approximately £1,650,000. I was interested in this suggestion, and as one domiciled in the North-East part of England I thought that some of the work would come to Durham County, and that it would find employment for a number of our unemployed. My hon. Friend the Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Sexton) put a question to the hon. and gallant Member for Rye (Sir G. Courthope) and the reply was that although the Government contemplated doing this work, so far as afforestation was concerned not an acre was to be put down in Durham. I wondered what had led the Government to 1512 come to the determination that nothing should be done for afforestation in the County of Durham.
Then there is the question of the trading estates in the Team Valley. It has been suggested by supporters of the Government that the introduction of that trading estate would bring a great measure of relief to the whole County of Durham. I suggest that if we do get a measure of relief it will not extend far outside the Team Valley itself, and in my view the setting down of that estate in that particular place does not to any appreciable extent meet the problem which is vexing us in the County of Durham. Another suggestion of the Commissioner was in connection with the question of transfer. Time and again the right hon. Gentleman has eulogised the work that has been done in the direction of finding work for the youth in the depressed areas. Let us look at this a little more closely. As one who is greatly interested in the general conditions under which people are living in the Special Areas I know that these transfer schemes are playing havoc with the whole life of our people.
What are we doing in Durham? We are spending hundreds of thousands of pounds in providing social services, educational service, health services and all the other matters which are so necessary for the everyday life of the community, and our youth, when they reach the age of 16 and 17, are being transferred to another county in order to find work in places which have never spent one penny on the social services which have been necessary to make these boys and girls fit to enter industry. Taking that into consideration it is grossly unfair to any county that their youth should be transferred from the area which has done so much to provide the social services necessary in the general interests of boys and girls, to another area altogether. It is said that the Government contemplate in their rearmament programme to spend large sums of money in South Wales, Scotland and Lancashire, and approximately £400,000 in Durham County. I am not so much concerned with that, but what I am concerned with is the setting down of industries in the Special Areas which will not last for the two or three years during which the rearmament boom is going on, but which will turn out the commodities necessary in the lives of our 1513 people years after we have finished with the rearmament boom. We cannot have that unless the Government realise their responsibility and do something worth while in that particular direction.
We have heard from the Government Benches in the last few months great satisfaction expressed by responsible Ministers in regard to the volume of men and boys who have been placed in employment during the last year. Let us consider the position in Durham. This question was touched upon by my hon. Friend the Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey). There is in that small area a pocket of unemployment amounting to about 12,000. We have been to told by the Commissioner for the Special Areas that unless industries are introduced, there is nothing for those people to do but to go back to agriculture. I ask the right hon. Gentleman how long he anticipates it would take in a special part of Durham County to put 12,000 unemployed people on the land? It could not be done in less than 20 or 30 years. Therefore, the suggestion does not meet the problem that is facing South-West Durham at the present time. Figures have been quoted concerning the Bishop Auckland, the Shildon and the Spennymoor areas, but let me refer to the North-East coast, where we are supposed to have a great measure of prosperity under the Government's rearmament plant.
At Jarrow and at Hebburn, through the grouping of the two Employment Exchanges, there is an unemployment figure of 32.8 of the insured population; in the Boldon area it is 28.3, in South Shields 33.2 and in Sunderland 29.8. Prosperity may have reached the upper regions of the Tyne, but it is not having any appreciable effect as far as Wearside is concerned. The Government ought to be concerned about the location of industry, which is their great responsibility. During 1935, 488 new factories were started in England and Wales; 213 of them were established in Greater London and only two in the Special Areas. There were 182 extensions to existing industries, but only six in the Special Areas. Surely the right hon. Gentleman cannot suggest that that gives him a great measure of satisfaction. Factories are going into one area, and the Special Areas are being left to take care of themselves. The Commis- 1514 sioner suggested that the Government should go into the question of hydrogenation and low temperature carbonisation with a view to making us less dependent upon the importation of foreign oils. Nothing has been done in that direction by the Government. The only thing we are to have is the suggested industry in South Wales. Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with that condition of things? He cannot be, if he is honest and if he has the desire to do what he can on behalf of people who are not in a position to help themselves.
Let me return to the situation in South-West Durham. Not long ago I put a question to the right hon. Gentleman about pit drainage in that area. The Commissioner made certain suggestions under the 1934 Act. He told us in a report that something should be done to drain that vast area in South-West Durham. He suggested the appointment of a mining engineer to study the question and to make a survey to find out exactly the conditions prevailing in that area. We were told in the report that there are approximately 13,000,000 tons of coal waterlogged in South-West Durham, but the Government are not doing anything to make that coal accessible. Moreover, water from that area is percolating to the deeper seams towards the North-East and is becoming a danger to the men who are working in collieries at a lower level in Durham County. What are the Government prepared to do? Will they face the responsibility and not leave it to the Durham County Council?
The Commissioner said that the Government ought to bring a measure of rating relief to a county such as Durham and that there ought to be a revision of the block grant. In the Memorandum to the Financial Resolution, we were told that the block grant would bring a great measure of relief to Durham and that our allocation under the revision would bring us £254,000, less £26,000 because our unemployment figures had gone down. Let us examine how this affects Durham. The poor rate in Durham is 8s. 4¾d. in the £, compared with an average for the country of 2s. 11½d. In 1931, when the National Government came into office, there were in Durham County 48,549 persons receiving Poor Law relief at an annual cost of £891,489. In 1931, after five 1515 years of rule by the National Government and after the 1934 Act had been in operation for two years, that figure had increased from 48,549 to 67,900 persons in receipt of Poor Law relief, with a total expenditure of £1,128,894, a weekly increase of £7,300, equal to approximately £350,000 a year. To meet that £350,000 additional expenditure, we get £254,000 through the revision of the block grant. That ought to tell the right hon. Gentleman whether or not the revision of the block grant has brought any measure of relief to Durham County.
The Commissioner called attention to mining conditions in Durham. In 1924, we had in Durham 174,756 miners working, with a wages bill of £21,600,000 and an output of 36,690,000 tons. Last year there were 101,401 men working, with an output of 31,148,000 tons and a wages bills of £10,440,994, 5,551,000 tons less, a wages bill of half and 73,335 less miners employed. Rationalisation and mechanisation have turned our men on to the streets in Durham. I ask the right hon. Gentleman what the Government are prepared to do to find work for this vast army of unemployed miners in Durham County. The Commissioner suggested various means. He said, for instance, that there are in industry to-day approximately 700,000 people bordering on 65 years of age. He said that we should increase the amount of the contributory pensions to take these aged people out of industry and make room for the energy which is wasting at our street corners—a very wise suggestion. There is the recommendation of the gentleman who was appointed under the 1934 Act to bring a measure of relief to the unemployed in Durham and various other parts of the country.
Are the Government prepared to do anything in that direction? Are they willing to get down to the problem and try to find a solution of it? Are they willing to make a grant from the National Exchequer to help those aged toilers who have done so much in their years of service to make this country what it is, to provide them with adequate pensions in the evening of their lives, and at the same time to find work for the youth of our land which is at present wasting in idleness? Surely, it is not an impossible 1516 task for the Government. They anticipate finding £1,500,000,000 for armaments in the next five years. If they can do so, it ought to be possible to find a few millions to provide pensions for aged workers. That would to an appreciable extent help in solving one of the most vexed problems of our time. It is suggested in the 1936 report of the Commissioner that men who have been out of work for more than five years should go off the register. If that were done what would the Government do with those people who have been out of work for more than five years? Have they a scheme for dealing with these people? There is nothing in the Bill which indicates a solution of the problem of the Special Areas. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell us what the Government anticipate doing for those areas. Are they going to do anything worth while, or are they simply going to leave the people to work out their own salvation? Surely, the Government ought to face their responsibilities. It is their job and they have a duty to get down to it, and to do something to help those who in present circumstances, are not able to help themselves.
§ 8.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
There is an old Parliamentary saying to the effect that time is always the enemy of the Government, but that, of course, applies only to a Government which wants to do something. This Debate has illustrated the fact that when a Government wants to do nothing, time is its best friend. No one con imagine that this Debate would have been conducted in this atmosphere, if it had taken place, say, just before Christmas. Then the Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer), the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Cartland) and other hon. Members opposite were conducting one of those spectacular rebellions against the Government, with dummy rifles and blank ammunition, which were intended to convince the country that they had some care for these distressed and neglected areas.
§ Mr. Cartland
I do not think the hon. Member would have had this Bill before him, if we had not taken the action which we did take.
§ Mr. Ede
That is the point to which I was coming. The Government, realising that they must throw one more 1517 passenger to the ravening wolves, threw over a part of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill to the Noble Lord and the hon. Member who has just interrupted, and they were satisfied. Then this Bill was produced. Will the hon. Member who is, I hope, going to participate in this discussion, tell us what has reconciled him and his friends to the Government?
§ The Chairman
I must remind the hon. Member that we are not now discussing the Bill, but Clause r of the Bill.
§ Mr. Ede
If we take the Clause with which we are dealing and which continues the existing Act word for word, could there be found any greater condemnation of the original Measure than the fact that it is not now possible, in the view of the Government, to omit a single district from the Measure as originally introduced? The areas that were then put in with such meticulous care were not included as a reward for good conduct. There is a list in the First Schedule of certain county boroughs, including my own constituency, followed by certain boroughs and urban and rural districts in the county of Durham. Then there are one borough, two urban districts and a rural district in Northumberland, several districts in Cumberland, and also some in Monmouthshire—the names of most of which I can spell, but none of which I can pronounce. There are a few similar districts in Glamorgan, and so on.
Even taking rural and urban districts with small populations, after two years of the original Act, the effect has not been such as to improve their condition sufficiently to suggest that they can be regarded to-day as other than Special Areas. Indeed what the hon. Member for King's Norton and his friends were particularly keen about was to get certain other districts brought into the First Schedule to share in such benefits as there are in being regarded as Special Areas. But that has not been done. Those districts are left as places apart, with the tacit confession as shown by leaving them in the Schedule that nothing has been done materially to improve their condition. My hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. W. Joseph Stewart), whose constituency includes parts of the county borough of 1518 South Shields, gave the figure of unemployment for that county borough as 33.2 per cent. Will anyone say that, after South Shields has been included as a Special Area for more than two years and there is nothing better to show for it than that, the continuance of this Act can be regarded as anything that is likely to give great hope to such an area? When we come to the Second Schedule, which sets out the provisions as to the Commissioners and their proceedings, is there anything that should commend to this Committee the continuance of these provisions which have proved so lamentably wanting during the past two years? Take the third provision in the Second Schedule:Each of the Commissioners may appoint such officers and servants as he may, with the consent of the appropriate Minister and of the Treasury, determineMy hon. Friend the Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) alluded to this trinity as if it were a holy one, working in some sort of unity.
§ Mr. Ede
I did not say that the hon. Member described it, but that he alluded to it as if it were a holy one. I am bound to say that in my experience we have generally found that the Minister and the Treasury have been acting rather to retard the Commissioner than in co-operation with him. We have desired all along that the Commissioner should be released from the restrictions imposed upon him by the Minister, and that in fact it would be better that there should be a Minister in this House directly responsible for the administration of this Measure than that there should be a Commissioner in the relationship to the Minister that I have just described. Then let us take No. 6:The Commissioners may, with the consent of the Treasury, accept any gift or bequest, and may apply any such gift or bequest, or the proceeds thereof, for the purposes for which it was given or bequeathed, being purposes within the functions of the Commissioners.Have there been any other gifts than the one that was given by Lord Nuffield? Is there any reason to believe that there may be some persons who, despairing of life under this Government, might depart for another world and leave their worldly goods to the Commissioner to enable him 1519 to do something in this matter? Is there any reason for suggesting that this Act, when repeated in the present Measure, will have anything beneficial for the districts which have been under its administration for so long? How can we really test what the effect of this Measure has been? There is only one way in which we can test it, and that is by the condition of the people who are in the areas. During the debates on physical training in this House, I mentioned to the House the feelings that were aroused in me when I was at a prize distribution in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Spennymoor, and I made a statement with regard to the physical condition of the children whom I then saw as compared with the physical condition of the children whom I more generally see at prize distributions in the South of England. The President of the Board of Education then undertook with such avidity to make an anthropometrical survey of those children at Spennymoor and of two schools in Surrey, that I began to think that I had made a mistake.
I do not intend to weary the Committee with many of these figures, but I merely adduce them as illustrations. If we take boys in secondary schools, my experience throughout the country is that boys in secondary schools come in the main from the families of the better-paid artisan class and the lower ranks of the clerical class, including some of the children of the small tradesmen in the various towns and villages. I think, going right through the country from one end to the other, those are the kind of children that one finds in these schools. Hon. Members will recollect the agitation that was created some few years back when my friend Dr. Addison sent his daughter to a county secondary school in Middlesex. It was rather thought that it was wrong that a man who was a Minister of the Crown at the time should avail himself of the benefits of a municipal secondary education service. I take it, therefore, that these are children coming from homes representing about the same social stratum in each of the districts.
The boys in Spennymoor at 12 years of age—there were 32 in the group—measured 55.3 inches in height, and a similar number of boys in Surbiton averaged 57.2 inches, or approximately 1520 two inches difference, and approximately that difference in height remains for each years of school life up to the age of 17. The girls of 12 in Spennymoor were 57.1 inches in height, and in Woking they were 58.7. At 17 years of age the girls in Spennymoor were 62.9 inches in height, and in Woking they were 65.2. A similar, regular disparity throughout the ages is shown in the weights, and when I come to the weights of girls, I find that the girls of 17 in Spermymoor weighed 117.2 lbs. and at Woking 130 lbs. I do not intend to do more than use those figures as an illustration of the point that I am making. At the end of two years of the working of this Act, I find, through a comparison that came to me quite casually, this deplorable situation, showing these very considerably worse conditions of children of the same social stratum in Durham as compared with those in a county where unemployment and distress are practically non-existent.
The Commissioner for the Special Areas has, I believe, done his best. Certainly his reports have shown that he is by no means satisfied with the efforts that the Government have been making, but I hope that the Minister, if he intends to continue this Act, will see to it that the proposals that any future Commissioner puts before him will receive greater attention than those that have come to him up to the present. I believe that the real purpose of the Act which we are renewing by this Clause has been lost sight of by the Government. The hart. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. H. Macmillan), in one of the discussion which we had just before Christmas, read us a very interesting passage from a speech made by the Lord President of the Council when he was Prime Minister, when the Bill was first being introduced. The carefully delimited areas under Commissioners were to be regarded as test tubes within which experiments were to be carried out for general application throughout the country where distress might exist. All that excuse for this Act has disappeared. These Special Areas remain the hard, insoluble core of unemployment, as the figures given by my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring, which I do not wish to repeat, demonstrated. There has been there no perceptible improvement, in spite of the general improvement of trade and the boom that 1521 has been given to certain areas by the Government's armaments programme.
This Measure has been a failure and will remain a failure, and if the spirit of last December still animated some Noble Lords and hon. Gentlemen who ought to be behind the Minister to-night, but who have been mainly conspicuous by their absence, it would still be regarded by them as valueless. I did see the Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot come in for a few fleeting minutes. I tried to time him by the clock, and I think that he has been in for eight minutes during this discussion. I understand that he is now carrying on a flirtation with the Mothers' Union instead of with the Special Areas. I am beginning to wonder how long he will have to desert us before we shall have grounds for thinking he has decided to divorce us. It is a great disappointment to those of us who thought that there was in the minds of hon. Members opposite some real feeling for the distressed areas to think that this Debate has been going on for nearly five hours and that the only nominal supporter of the Government who has ventured to intervene in the Debate has been the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. H. Macmillan). His support of the Government, as usual, was less apparent than it might have been. We have not had from any quarter of the Committee a word of support for the Government. During a large part of the evening the right hon. Gentleman has had behind him only the hon. Member for Bromley (Sir E. Campbell) and the hon. Member for West Derby (Mr. Fyfe). That is some indication of the interest that is being taken in the Special Areas. The sham fight before Christmas has served its purpose. Hon. Members and Noble Lords can go to their constituencies and say what they did then, but now that it comes really to doing something for the Special Areas which will mean not merely repeating the old Measure but giving real hope and encouragement and a real opportunity to them, they have been conspicuous by their absence and their silence to-night.
§ 9.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Sexton
We are asked by Clause I to acquiesce in the continuation of the Act of 1934. Acquiescence usually means satisfaction. I dare not acquiesce because I have on many occasions made a pledge to my constituents that I shall oppose its continuation. I have been in- 1522 structed to voice the opinions of those constituents in the House of Commons. They are of all political parties and all creeds; they are concerned with industry, both masters and men, and they are connected with trade unions; and not one of those I have met is satisfied with the 1934 Act. Therefore, I dared not, even if I wanted to, acquiesce in the passage of Clause 1. Not only are my constituents and I dissatisfied, but the Commissioner himself expresses his dissatisfaction too. In his third report, in paragraph 9, he says:It has to be admitted that no appreciable reduction of the number of those unemployed has been effected.Referring to one of the schemes with regard to which he made a recommendation, namely, that of the Severn Bridge, he says:Its rejection filled me with dismay.In paragraph 15 of the report he touches the core of the problem. He says:I was criticised for making, in my first report, recommendations for the application of some wider measures, such as the taking of youths from 14 to 16 out of industry and giving them a practical and intensive physical training, the reduction of working hours, holidays with pay, etc., but I was not, and am not, conscious that my responsibility to the areas should be confined to suggestions relating solely to direct local treatment.In the same paragraph he states:It was further stressed that the hope of bringing relief, which would probably accrue slowly, lay in the simultaneous application of many remedies, both national and local.In paragraph 16 he says:I am still of the opinion that the principles then stated"—that is, in his first report—hold good to-day, and if, without committal as to their specific application, they had been more readily recognised as a logical conclusion when my first report was debated, encouragement would have been given to those seeking increased help for the Special Areas by the evidence of progressive thought, even if action tarried.Not only, therefore, are my constituents and the Commissioner against the continuance of the 1934 Act, but I find that the great national paper, the "Times" for 8th March is not satisfied either. In the leading article, the "Times" says:Investigation after investigation, experiment after experiment lead to the same conclusion, that besides the application of unconventional principles—upon which the First Commissioner for the Special Areas insisted—there must be an attack all along the line to eradicate the misery and the depression of the 1523 areas and to bring them back to economic vitality and their people to happiness.The "Times" further states:An emergency programme of rearmament will be limited in duration, and when it has been completed the industrial structure it has sustained may again be without support … Large areas and large communities are little, if any, better off than before the defence expenditure began … People and productive capacity are alike going to waste, and there is a canker in the social system. Parliament cannot be content merely to deplore the fact and vote relief. Not relief any longer, but remedy must be the watchword.The same has been said by the Commissioner, for he himself has pointed out that most of his recommendations are palliatives, and that to tackle the question properly we had to tackle the roots of it. It has often been said in the House that there is no cure for unemployment. There is a cure. Common sense is the cure. We have to apply common sense to mechanised industry and reduce the number of people working eight hours a day. Twenty-five or 3o years ago an eight-hour day was our aim, but surely there has been such an improvement in industry since that time that we can now apply our minds to something less than an eight-hour day. The only way to cure unemployment is to spread the work over all the people of the country by shortening the working day, shortening the working week, shortening the working year and shortening the working life by a later entry into industry and a later dismissal from it. I have called to my aid the Commissioner and the "Times." I shall now call to my aid the "Evening Standard" of 2nd March. In their leading article they said:In our view the plan is not only inadequate but grounded in a failure to appreciate and combat the basic problems.
§ Mr. Sexton
Once again palliatives are left on one side and the basic problem has to be tackled. My constituency is not content; the "Times" is not content, the "Evening Standard" is not content; the Commissioner is not content. I wonder if the Government are content? It seems like it. Do they acquiesce in it? Is there no defender of the faith among them? Or is it that they have no faith to defend? We have heard nothing from them to-night all through this long Debate. They are evidently perfectly 1524 satisfied, but I would like to take them to the Special Areas and I have the honour of representing probably the worst part of the Special Area of the North-East. The hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. W. Joseph Stewart) mentioned afforestation, but in South-West Durham, not a tree has been planted and not an unemployed man has been given work.
I have talked here about calcium carbide. Nothing is being done. All we have had is a surfeit of surveys. Commissioners have come and Commissioners have gone and the area is as derelict now as when they came and went. The people are tired of Commissioners and surveys. The Commissioners have passed like a phantom and left behind these villages without heart and without hope. They have tried to write over South-West Durham "Ichabod"—"the glory is departed." But I tell this House and the country that the glory of South-West Durham has not departed. The glory remains in the people and in the mineral treasure of these parts. The Government have done nothing for these people, who are tired of the commissions and surveys which have been held. Like the Lady of Shallot:I am half sick of shadows,and like a character in Addison's "Cato":I am weary of conjectures.All that we can get is a report from a commission which condemns South-West Durham to be killed. There are worse things than death and in "Measure for Measure" Shakespeare tells us it is not the size of the living thing that dies which matters:The sense of death is most in apprehension; And the poor beetle, that we tread upon, In corporal sufferance finds a pang as greatAs when a giant dies.—And if you pass a sentence of death on South-West Durham it may be a small area with only 11,000 people unemployed, but you are causing a pang there as great as if your great City of London was dying. It will give me the greatest pleasure to go into the Lobby against this Bill.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Cartland
I did not mean to speak on this Clause, because I have one or two points to raise later, although I sat 1525 here from 4 to 7.30. I put that in for the information of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). I felt that the best thing we could do would be not to waste time, nearly five hours, discussing whether Clause I should stand part of the Bill, and that is why no Member on this side of the House rose to continue the Debate. There is really no need for the enormously long discussion we have had on this Clause.
§ Mr. Cartland
We should do much better and give greater assistance to the Special Areas by getting on to discuss the Amendments which are in order. The hon. Member for South Shields suggested that a number of hon. Gentlemen on this side who took a certain course of action last December were now satisfied with this Bill. I think he is quite mistaken. I do not think that any of us is satisfied with this Bill, and if he had heard the speeches made on the Second Reading he would have realised that a large number of us were greatly dissatisfied with this Bill if it had been brought forward as the only Measure of the Government to deal with the Special Areas, said that it was unfortunate that this Bill was brought forward by itself and not as part of the general scheme, and I pointed out that if this Bill was part of the general scheme, one of many points in a general programme, there would be nothing particularly wrong in the actual proposals which are contained in this Bill. Clause I might not have been incorporated in the Bill at all and that would have made no difference to the Bill. This Clause is a continuation. I object to it because virtually it is the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill over again.
I do not think that hon. Gentlemen opposite are justified in calling into account the sincerity of hon. Members on this side in regard to the distressed areas. I do see a small measure of help for the Special Areas in this Bill. I do not pretend that I see much, and I ventured to say that on the Second Reading and that this was the wrong approach to the problem. I said that this was a special industries problem. But this is some measure of help. It may put 300 men back to work. The Government have not given any figure, but let us take a minimum figure. If it will put 300 men back 1526 to work I am prepared to support this Bill. The hon. Member for South Shields has no justification for saying that we were satisfied with this Bill as a cure for the problem in the Special Areas. The Special Areas problem can only be dealt with, as the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. E. J. Williams) said earlier, when we deal with the basic industries in those areas. This is not an attempt to deal with the basic areas, but it is some attempt to meet the requests which have appeared in every report on every inquiry, that light industries should be started in those areas. The Government have brought forward this Bill and say "Here is some answer to that demand," and I suggest that hon. Members opposite are wrong in opposing every Measure brought forward to assist, in however small a way, the distressed areas. If every Measure passed in the last three years had been combined in a single Bill, we should all have said, "This is a fairly bold attempt to deal with the problem; it is because the work has been done piece meal that it has been opposed so strongly. This Clause for continuing the Special Areas Act might to all intents and purposes have been included in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill.
§ Mr. Bevan
If the Clause were rejected the whole Act would die. If the hon. Member is not satisfied with the Government's narrow approach to the problem, the most effective way of showing his disapproval would be to kill the principal Act, and then the Government would have to bring forward a much more comprehensive scheme.
§ Mr. Cartland
As the Government are determined, as they have said over and over again, to continue the Special Areas Act, 1934, I say, let us at least tack on this addition. I agree that it is only an addition, but I would rather have this addition made to it than see it rejected altogether. I fail to see any advantage in the hon. Member's proposal to destroy the Act, and thus put a stop to any possibility of people being put to work, on an off-chance of something which he knows is impossible.
§ Mr. Cartland
Of course I do not, but what the hon. Member found fault with was my statement that Clause I virtually continues the Special Areas Act and might have been included in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. He said that he would like to see the whole Act dispensed with and a new approach made to the problem, and I think we are agreed on that, but I say that now is not the time, that it is not possible now. That is an attempt by my right hon. Friend to try to improve the Special Areas Act, and small as it is hon. Members opposite would really serve their purpose far better by trying to get the Bill through rather than spend all this long time in debating the Clause. I only rose to say these few words because the hon. Member for South Shields suggested that hon. Members on this side were thoroughly satisfied with the Bill as it is as an approach to the whole problem. We are not, but we feel it is better to welcome some sign of activity—[Laughter.] Hon. Members are entitled to laugh if they think it gives them any pleasure. It is better to welcome some sign of activity from the Front Bench than to block any attempt which is made by the Government. The hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Sexton) said nothing would ever come from the Act. Surely that is not the sort of approach which should be made to the question. Let us welcome any attempt that is made, from whatever quarter it comes, to deal with this problem.
§ Mr. George Griffiths
Does the hon. Member suggest that this is a brutally frank Bill, because he asked the Government last December to give him a brutally frank answer over this job.
§ Mr. Cartland
My question to the Government at that time was whether they proposed to do anything, or whether they proposed to do nothing. I said that if they proposed to do nothing they would continue the Act in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. However much hon. Members may cheer the observation of the hon. Member for South Shields, the Government did not continue the Act in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, and if this Bill has resulted from the 1528 action taken last December, then that action was justified. The Government have done something. It is some attempt —I do not say it is as much as I should have liked, but, then, I am not sitting on the Treasury Bench, but here.
§ 9.41 p.m.
§ Mr. S. O. Davies
The sporting spirit on this side of the Committee must congratulate the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Cartland), so far as this Debate is concerned, on the extraordinary courage he has shown in ignoring the muzzling order which was obviously issued at the beginning of to-day's sitting. The hon. Member shakes his head, but a silence, an oppressive silence, has characterised the other side of the Committee during this Debate. The statements made by the hon. Member were, as I am sure he will agree on reflection, the strongest condemnation of this miserable Bill which could have been made in this House. His speech was nothing but a series of apologies for and half condemnation of this Bill, and that is one of the reasons why I congratulate him on his courage in making himself the one and only voice from that side of the Committee. The Debate has gone on for nearly six hours. I notice that the Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) has at last made up his mind to grace this Debate. I do not know whether he is also a victim of the muzzling order, and whether he can be provoked into addressing the Committee and stating honestly his opinion of this continued exhibition of gross and abject failure on the part of the Government.
I had no intention when I entered the House to-day of participating in the Debate. Merthyr Tydvil has never been short of orators and of orations among the Government supporters. I have said comparatively little in the House about the conditions in my constituency, because I detest debating in terms of comparisons between one Special Area and another; but the exhibition given to-day by supporters of the Government, who have obviously been told not to speak in this Debate, of abject and ignominious grovelling to an order of that kind—[Laughter.] Oh, yes, hon. Members may laugh, but their action gives the lie to the protestations of sympathy which we have heard from that side of the House. 1529 Here is an opportunity for Government supporters of bring to an end what every one of them knows is a hopeless approach to this profound and difficult problem. I wish to bring into this House once again the point of view of the unemployed. I agree with what has been said by my hon. Friends particularly the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) that a larger approach, and not merely helping one Special Area as against another, is required. The Minister has used the difficulties of one Special Area to destroy the arguments and appeals on behalf of other Special Areas.
I appeal to hon. Members opposite to act according to their convictions. As the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Cartland) told us, in apologising for the presentation of such a miserable addition to the Special Areas Act as is before us to-night, he and his Friends know very well that the problem depends upon the control, direction and location of industry, and the introduction of new industries to the Special Areas. There are industries which have no existence in this country to-day. I am not going to tell the Committee that conditions in my constituency are worse than in any other parts of the country. I am sure that hon. Members know very well the degree of unemployment that exists there and the length of time for which it has existed; and that in the 12 or 14 years during which mass-unemployment has existed, the Government have not placed one unemployed person back at work. Nothing has been done, except to induce thousands of young men and women to leave Merthyr Tydvil for other parts of the country.
I would like the Minister and those who support him on those benches to appreciate what passes through the mind of the unemployed in such an area. They read in the Press to-day complaints of a scarcity of coal and coke, yet the unemployed in that constituency know that tens of millions of tons of coal are present there which have never been mined. I have seen unemployed men in my constituency, who were refused access to those coal seams, passing my doorstep on wintry days going to the ash heaps, the piled-up debris turned out of the colliery. They were going to get a bit of something to burn, to keep a fire on their miserable hearths. While the newspapers who support the Government have been talking 1530 about a scarcity of coal in some parts of the country, many hundreds of these men, descendants of generations of miners, are refused access to the splendid seams of coal which are there.
What contribution can the Minister or any Government spokesman make to justify such a cruel condition of things as that which faces an unemployed person? He may have been unemployed for five or eight years and be hungry for work, but the Bill makes no contribution to his problem. It does not touch it or raise the slightest hope; it even destroys any hope that the man might have entertained. The Press of the country is very vocal about a scarcity of pig iron, yet while they are lamenting, the unemployed of Merthyr Tydfil and Dowlais see one of the greatest and most historic steelworks in the world blasted and razed to the ground. What answer is there to the privations that these thousands of workmen are experiencing month after month? Rhetoric, speeches, promises, protestations of sympathy, deputations, delegations and visitations of all kinds from Members of this House to my constituency have been futile. Hon. Members who know what natural and local resources are needed for the reconstruction of industrial life cannot but make unfavourable comparisons with the piece of almost useless paper that the Committee are called upon to consider. It offers nothing to the people who, in their enforced and unhappy leisure time, are willing to consider anything which promises a hope of work and of improved conditions in their locality.
We are told that this country imports some of the most precious and necessary products to-day—products of especial and urgent use, not only in contributing to the vast armament programme, but in many other important phases of the industrial and technical life of this country. We are told how extremely important these products are in the industrial life of the nation, and it is known that not a pound of them is being produced in this country. Experts go to various districts and tell the people that in their locality Nature provides all the natural resources that are necessary to produce products of that kind. But there is nothing in this Bill that holds out any hope for those areas. The Minister told us not so very long ago that, of all the Special Areas in this country, of all the 1531 counties and county boroughs, Merthyr Tydvil was the only one that not only did not show a reduction of unemployment, but in fact showed an increase of unemployment, while some apparent change for the better—I say apparent, because I am not able to judge whether it really is, so—had taken place in other parts of the country.
Further, these unemployed people are told that in some parts of the country, where unemployment hardly exists, new industries are being established, as we know is the case in and around London, and the first question that is put to any Member of this House in a distressed area is: What are the insuperable physical, economic and human difficulties that prevent these new industries being established in the Special Areas? Have not this Government who are doling out subsidies at the rate of scores of pounds every minute of the 24 hours, who have doled out so much to the employing classes of this country—have they not the power, have they not the legal or moral right to direct the establishing of these industries in localities where the people who have their homes and social amenities there could be placed in employment? I cannot find any answer at all to those questions. No Member of the House—and I assume that this applies to Members on both sides—cares to tell his people, who are so anxious and hungry for work, the brutal truth about some of these matters. Those people exist very largely because they are buoyed up with hopes of a future far more happy than the unhappy past that they have gone through. The unemployed in this country have been let down cruelly since the Act of 1934 was passed.
Some of us who come from Special Areas have vivid memories of the optimistic speeches that were delivered when the Bill was first presented to the House. We have not forgotten the optimism of the Lord President of the Council and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who used language that caused many Members of the House to entertain hopes that something would be done that would be different from what was done in the past. They told us how the Government were not going to be tied down by any orthodox plan of capitalist economy, how they were going to face up to the problems in these areas, and how they 1532 were prepared, in the language of the Lord President of the Council, to spend an unlimited sum, if need be, in order to place the Special Areas on such a footing that no Government need be ashamed of their existence in this country.
The unemployed in my constituency have been cruelly let down. I can speak for them because I have lived most of my life among them, and I say without fear of being honestly contradicted that there has been no human reason, no insuperable obstacle in the way of reviving industrial life in that constituency. It is still splendidly rich in natural mineral resources, and there are still there, as I have said, the descendants of generations of industrial workers. They still have their homes, they still have their local government functioning, they still have their social amenities, and, above all, they still have tho0 traditions which can only be born and perpetuated in a highly industrialised part of the country. Longing, as I do, for some improvement in the lot of these people, there is nothing in the present Bill that can give me even the faint remote hope that the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Cartland) apparently has of being able to do something. I can hold out absolutely no hope to my constituents on the basis of the Measure that is before the House to-night. On my conscience, stripped of any partisan spirit that I have, I cannot go back there to-morrow and tell them that in the Measure which has been carried through the House of Commons there is the faintest spark of hope for the unemployed of Merthyr Tydfil. I can see none. Perhaps the Minister an convince me to-night that I am wrong. I doubt whether he can, but, when he is answering the appeal that I am making to the House, will he please try to read the thought that is passing through the minds of the unemployed that they feel bitterly the disappointment that they have had through the many years that they have been unemployed? They cannot be persuaded that it is beyond the wit of men, beyond the power of an honest, determined, progressive Government in this country, to help them. They refuse to believe that an honest Government cannot re-establish their lives once again, and permit them to make a contribution to the material well-being of this country such as they have made so magnificently in the past.
§ 10.5 p.m.
§ Viscount Wolmer
The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. S. O. Davies) has accused us on this side of being muzzled. No one has asked me personally or any of my friends, so far as I am aware, to refrain from speaking in this Debate. The only reason we have not intervened is that we have no sympathy with the object of hon. Members opposite, which, judging from their speeches, is apparently merely to make party capital out of this Debate. We are with them entirely in any action which is going to help the Special Areas, but we are not going to be associated with them in any attempt to make party capital out of a great national tragedy. If hon. Members opposite had approached this problem in a national spirit instead of a party spirit we should have made more progress.
§ Viscount Wolmer
The Opposition can approach a problem in a national spirit, but hon. Members opposite have used this opportunity to make a party score against the Government. They are fully entitled to avail themselves of that opportunity, but those of us who have a genuine anxiety about this problem are not going to associate ourselves with tactics of that sort.
§ Mr. S. O. Davies
Does the Noble Lord suggest that this Measure will be an adequate and effective instrument to deal with the Special Areas?
§ Viscount Wolmer
I am discussing Clause 1 of the Bill and the question before the Committee, which is that the Special Areas Act be continued. We on this side of the Committee hold that it is necessary to continue that Act and quite unnecessary to discuss the matter as long as hon. Members opposite have discussed it. That Act is the foundation-stone of all that has been done for the Special Areas. Frankly, if I had drafted the Bill it would have gone somewhat farther, but I recognise that this Bill is a very real contribution towards the solution of an unprecedented problem, and it is this Government—and this Government only—that has done anything for the Special Areas. When hon. Members opposite were in office they never did 1534 anything of this sort to help the Special Areas. Those of us who have been prepared to make bold experiments in regard to the Special Areas are not going to be so blind as to fail to recognise the very substantial contribution which the Government has made in that direction.
My attitude towards this Bill is practically the attitude of Oliver Twist. I am thankful for what I get, but I want to see further experiments made. I am not going to decry the Clause which we are now discussing, because it is perfectly obvious that the machinery of the previous Acts must be continued for the Government to proceed with the further new inducements and experiments which they are making in this Bill. A great deal depends upon the spirit in which this Bill is carried through. There is ample scope in the Bill for energetic action, and I hope that the Minister will use to the full the opportunities which it gives. The hon. Member opposite shakes his head. We on this side of the Committee are prepared to trust the Minister and the Government to use to the full the powers they are asking for in this Bill.
The Bill goes on the principle of giving inducements to new industries to go into these Special Areas. That is what is wanted. Clause 1 continues certain advantages and inducements already established. Subsequent Clauses add greatly to those inducements. We shall be able at a later stage to discuss whether those inducements are sufficient or not, but the whole policy of the Bill is to give increased inducements. That is the most practical approach to the problem. There are only two approaches: One the policy of inducements and the other the policy of planning. We have the first-mentioned policy in this Bill, and the Minister has given the assurance that we are going to explore the policy of planning. A Royal Commission is to be appointed. Hon. Members opposite sometimes legislate first and find out the facts afterwards. I hope the Minister will appoint a Commission very soon, but that is not the matter we are discussing in this Clause. If hon. Members are going to vote against the continuation of the Act, they will be voting for the scrapping of the Special Commissioners and all that they have done.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am sorry to interrupt the Noble Lord. He provokes interruption. Has he not himself declared over and over again that the 1934 Act is woefully inadequate? Has he not also criticised the Government in respect of the provisions of the present Bill? If that is so, why does he complain when hon. Members on this side criticise what they have done and what they are proposing to do?
§ Viscount Wolmer
It is perfectly true that I said that the Act that is continued by the Bill is inadequate but the object of the Bill is to add to it. When hon. Members opposite ask me to vote against this Clause which means the repeal of the Act, that appears to me to be contrary to common sense and merely playing the party game and I am not going to associate myself with that at all. Much good work has been done under the Act. I believe the situation demands something further and in this Bill we have something further. I believe the Government are going to use to the full the unprecedented powers that they are taking. I am going to do everything I can to support and encourage them in this good work. I am not going to join in a party attack upon them nor hinder them by trying to repeal the good work already done.
§ 10.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Leslie
The hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Cartland) told us that he and his friends were not satisfied with the Bill and the Noble Lord informs us that if he had had the drafting of it it would have been something different, and he would like it to go further. In the name of common sense, if they are not satisfied with it why did they not put down Amendments to improve it? The County of Durham should have been a Special Area under the 1934 Act, but, unfortunately, two very important places were excluded. I refer to Billingham and Stockton. It was hoped that the present Measure would assist them, but, unfortunately, the conditions laid down will exclude both from much needed help. Schemes that are part of the development of a growing industrial area cannot be carried out without Government assistance. Billingham was one of the losing areas under the block grant. That has since been rectified to a very moderate extent. In the district there is a well-equipped shipbuilding yard, one of the 1536 best in the country, but up to the present it has not secured a single Government contract. If it were fully employed it would give employment to at least 3,000 men. So far the only way in which it has been kept going is by orders from Russia for 11 oil tankers. If it had not been for those orders, hundreds of men would be unemployed.
The parish council of Whitton, driven desperate because of the distress in the area, has appealed in vain time and time again for something to be done for the stricken village of Stillington. They have asked the Government if they could not lay it down that foreign firms starting factories and workshops in this country should go to the Special Areas. Again, we have complained that there are no training centres in these Special Areas. There is only one in the whole county. If new industries are to go into the Special Areas, naturally the firms will want to know whether there is labour available. That is one reason why we have asked for training centres to be established. One reason given why no assistance could be offered to Whitton Parish Council was because of its proximity to Billingham, but Stillington is eight miles distant from Billingham and there you have blast furnaces closed down and at Port Clarence 10 blast furnaces have been scrapped. Now I believe the Government would welcome the idea of having plenty of blast furnaces to get on with their armaments programme. The Imperial Chemical Industry's works at Billingham have provided employment for a good number of people, but they do not cater for all the unemployed in the district, and we say that it is unfair to penalise places like Stillington because of the Imperial Chemical Industry's works, eight miles away. Twelve months ago the Whitton Parish Council took this matter up with the Minister of Labour, who wrote to me as follows:As you are aware, the area covered by the Council is not included in the Special Areas as defined in the Special Areas (Development and Improvement), Act, 1934. Whilst I fully realise that there are places outside the Special Areas, as defined in the Act, in which unemployment is severe, and am not unmindful of the particular difficulties experienced in such areas, you will appreciate that the extension of the operations of the Commissioner for the Special Areas to include every area throughout Great Britain which could justifiably claim to be suffering from severe unemployment would lead to a serious dispersal of effort, and might well gravely 1537 prejudice the value and success of the Commissioner's work. The plan which the Act established was intended to be experimental.We are told that the Act of 1934 was intended to be experimental. Surely it is now out of the experimental stage. Why, therefore, not help areas like Stockton and Billingham, which require help?In so far as the experiments are shown to be of value, it will be possible at a later stage to apply them to other parts of the country if this course should be justified by experience.We on this side of the Committee believe that it has been justified by experience, and that something ought to have been done in this Bill to include Stockton and Billingham and other adjacent districts. If the Government are really desirous of bringing succour to the unemployed they will extend their efforts to the Tees-side district.
A statement has been made to-night about the effect of the prolonged unemployment in the distressed areas. It is very significant that tuberculosis is most prevalent in South Wales and in Durham, particularly in the case of young women between the ages of 15 and 25. When we last discussed this problem we were told by a representative of the medical fraternity that the reason for the increase of tuberculosis among young women between the ages of 15 and 25 was due to the modern habit of slimming.
§ Mr. Leslie
I was trying to show that the effect of the Government's ineptitude in dealing with the distressed areas has caused under-nourishment and this terrible increase of tuberculosis, and that slimming is not due to a modern habit but really to lack of proper nourishing food. It is high time that the Minister of Labour took that into account and did something more effectively for the Special Areas, and particularly for areas like Stockton and other districts on Tees-side, which require help.
§ 10.25 p.m.
§ Sir Stafford Cripps
I should not have intervened in the Debate but for the speech of the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer). He rather attracted me by his reference to himself and his friends as Oliver Twists, and their 1538 association in the Bill with the Minister of Labour rather casts the Minister of Labour for another Dickensian character —the Artful Dodger—and the Minister, I think, is justifying himself in the habits which that gentleman had in his behaviour in this Bill as regards the depressed areas. But I want particularly to deal with the Noble Lord's statement about not making party capital out of a great national tragedy. It has been the uniform practice of the Conservative party to make party capital out of every conceivable thing that they can, Jubilees, Coronations, whatever it may be, they have uniformly used them for party purposes; and they are doing it to-day. It is the worst kind of cant for the Noble Lord to get up and make the sort of statement he did. Indeed, it is only when the Conservative party are afraid of political discussion that they try to side-track matters of this importance—as they, did unemployment assistance—by saying that it is a great national problem on which we must put aside all party considerations. One has only to carry that a little further and one arrives at the state of mind of Hitler and Mussolini, who have finally succeeded in taking everything out of party discussion. The test of democracy is how much you can keep within the range of party discussion in order that it may be decided by the contending parties in the political field.
§ Viscount Wolmer
May I remind the hon. and learned Member that there are two ways of making party capital. One is the way to which we have listened this afternoon by hon. Members opposite, and the other is by making real contributions to the Debate.
§ Sir S. Cripps
I hope to continue the discussion on a constructive basis during the course of the evening. I also want to deal with the Noble Lord's statement that although the old Act is admittedly entirely inadequate to achieve the purpose it set out to achieve, yet it is necessary to continue it as the foundation of some new structure we are to build. I should have thought that there was no worse foundation than something which is wholly inadequate, and its inadequacy, as the criticisms of the Noble Lord have shown, do not merely arise from the fact that it does not go far enough, but arise primarily from a consideration of the facts which led up to the passage of the Act 1539 in 1934. In that year this problem already had existed for a considerable period of time, and great pressure was put on the Government year after year that they should do something to meet it. They had had special commissioners, commissioners, inquiries and committees finding out upon what basis they should attempt to deal with the problem. They came to the conclusion, in 1934, that they were so uncertain as to how to proceed that it would be necessary for them to inaugurate by legislation a period of experiment in which a particular method of administration could be devised for these Special Areas and in which the areas were to be strictly limited in their configuration; and that they would judge, as a result of those experiments, how they should permanently tackle the problem. I can imagine nothing more inadequate as the foundation of that permanent legislation than the special administration which was set up for experimental purposes alone. It is largely because of that wholly inadequate foundation that we desire to remove the foundation and to compel the Government to put something more adequate into its place.
I think it was the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Cartland) who said that he could not understand why, although the 1934 Act had been a bad Act, we desired to remove it, because he would have thought that we should have accepted the doctrine of the lesser evil and have accepted this as better than nothing. Surely any sensible person approaching this problem and having to deal with a Government such as the present one, which always adopts the lesser evil—which generally turns out to be the bigger evil —must by now have come to the conclusion that if the Government are allowed to continue to nibble at this cherry they will never, in fact, bite it, and that to continue to allow them to go on with an experimental Measure, which is what this Bill and this Clause mean, is really to stop them from making any fundamental approach to this problem, such as professedly the hon. Member himself desires. The reason why we want to defeat Clause 1 is that if it is defeated it will compel the Government, in the existing circumstances, to approach the problem in a more fundamental way. It will not allow them any longer to get away with excuses such as the right hon. Gentle- 1540 man, the "artful dodger," invents from time to time, and they will come down to the problem which the Noble Lord has stated to be the problem, that is to say, as to whether they are going really to plan on a national scale in order to deal with an evil that is not limited to the so-called Special Areas of this country.
One of the drawbacks of the 1934 Act is that it is limited to certain Special Areas. It may have been that, for experimental purposes, that was a convenient way of conducting the experiment, but what conceivable excuse is there today, after the experimental period, to cut out from the benefits, if benefits there be, areas where unemployment and distress are even greater in some instances than in the Special Areas themselves? That might have been justified as a matter of convenience in experimental administration in order that the Commissioner might have a limited area to deal with, but if this is intended by the Government to be some contribution to the permanent solution of this problem, the whole of the justification for a limitation of the Special Areas must entirely disappear. Then the Noble Lord raised an interesting question on the relative merits of what he called inducements and planning. The Act of 1934 which we are asked to perpetuate proceeds on a basis of inducements and State charity combined. Sums of money are given to Commissioners for distribution as largesse to this or that society or body which may, by the expenditure of the money, manage to employ a certain number of people for a limited time. Nobody thinks that such a scheme could ever conceivably be anything but the merest palliative.
Other methods are attempts by the Commissioner to induce private enterprise to go into those areas in order that manufactures may be started there and that men and women may be employed. A system which depends on inducements must inevitably cut across the principle on which private enterprise is run. Why should you give a boot manufacturer, say, special terms because he is prepared to manufacture boots in Wales or Durham? It is not because of any incident in the boot industry that you do so. It is in order to try to deal with a national, social problem, which is the employment of the people of Wales or 1541 Durham. If you attempt to deal with that problem by the indirect method of inducing a particular boot manufacturer, for instance, to manufacture in that area, you will inevitably upset the balance between one lot of manufacturers of boots and another lot of manufacturers of boots. We have already heard complaints that the new benefits offered to private enterprise are not fair to established manufacturers who already have factories in areas where they cannot get those benefits, and obviously there is a great deal to be said, within the present system, for such complaint. At the best all you can do by this method is to draw away some manufacturers from other areas. Nobody suggests that these inducements are intended to lead to the start of new industries which could not otherwise be started. All that is suggested is that where a new industry would in any case be started, these inducements will take them to one area rather than another.
As against that, the constructive system which is suggested for dealing with this problem, instead of the method which we are asked to perpetuate by Clause 1, is a system of planning. If you insist on the preservation of capitalism you can still plan by compelling your industries to go to the areas where the social necessities of the nation instruct you that they ought to go. There is not a Member, I think, who would not say that at present it is highly desirable, from the national point of view, that new industries should go to the Special Areas, to the areas where labour, housing, educational facilities, roads, drainage and transport, are already available, and where duplication of such services will not be required, as it will be if they go to some new area, like the area around Oxford. There, industrial developments have led to a demand for a completely new social structure, for new churches, schools, halls, houses, and so forth, but those very services already exist in the distressed areas, and the factories might just as well have been put down in South Wales or Durham or Sunderland.
What is it, I ask the Noble Lord, that prevents the taking of this step of planning where you are to put the industries? What is there to prevent the Government saying that, because the national interest demands it, they will insist upon factories being put here or there? If it 1542 comes to a question of defence, they say it already. They say, "We insist on a factory coming here, or there, because the national interest demands it." Why, when the national interest demands it for dealing with this grave national problem, cannot the Government take precisely the same step? I am not suggesting that by so doing they will solve this problem of unemployment, but they would certainly do a great deal more to alleviate it than they are proposing to do by this Bill Eventually, of course, there will he no solution of this problem until steps are taken to make a greater utilisation of the capacity for production which this country possesses. At present we have the artificial stimulus of the rearmament programme. I suppose that everybody would agree that the shorter the period of that stimulus, the more shall we all be pleased, and the sooner rearmament becomes unnecessary and has to be com pletely stopped, the lower the standard of the armament manufacturer, the more will everybody be pleased, because it will mean greater safety and security both for the world and for this country. When that time comes, as come it must eventually, before or after a war, we shall again be faced with precisely the same problem that we have always been faced with before—How are we to utilise our productive resources, how are we to get the coal from the mines and the people in the houses who cannot afford to burn fires at present; how are we to get the cotton manufactured goods from Lancashire to the people who cannot afford to buy shirts and underclothes and other things made of cotton?
That problem, which is the basic and fundamental problem, is not dealt with by the Act of 1934 at all. There is not even a pretence of dealing with that, the fundamental problem, and neither would that be dealt with by the mere planning of the location of industry within any capitalist system. If the Noble Lord wants a constructive suggestion, I may suggest to him that he tackles the problem, first of all, from the point of view of how best to get a full utilisation of our productive resources. That necessarily implies that we must have some economic system by which the consumption of the mass of the people of this country is raised very much higher than it is to-day, a thing which may occur momentarily in the boom periods of capitalism and then 1543 die down in the depression that follows. Even in a period such as the present, there is an actual falling in the real consuming power of the people, because prices are rising more rapidly than wages, so that we are not getting any nearer a solution. We may momentarily, by some such scheme as the 1934 Act, get an appearance of a few more thousand people employed in the distressed areas, but hundreds of areas where the distress is as great will not be dealt with at all. We may, by the few small additions in the present Bill, increase those thousands by a few hundreds. I think the hon. Member for King's Norton suggested that 300 would be the outcome of the present Bill.
§ Sir S. Cripps
My estimate would be a little higher than that of the hon. Gentleman, but there is nothing much in it, and we need not dispute about it. Even if we got a small increase in employment, this scheme is not even pretending to deal with the problem on a fundamental or permanent basis. It is only pretending to do something till March, 1939, just two years, and what is going to happen at the end of the two years? I remember asking someone in America, just at the time when President Roosevelt raised his 5,000,000,000 dollar loan for the assistance of the unemployed in America, what would happen at the end of that period of time, and he said, "Oh, we will raise another 5,000,000,000 dollars." That is precisely the position here. At the end of this period of time the Government and the country will be no further on as regards the solution of this problem. I have hope that, because this Bill does not offer any constructive suggestion to the solution of the problem, the Committee will turn down this Clause and compel the Government without a Royal Commission to bring forward something which will serve us as a permanent basis for dealing not merely with the Special Areas, but with the whole of this problem as it exists throughout the country.
§ 10.46 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Brown
After nearly six hours' Debate the Committee is asked to make what is an important but very simple decision. That decision is whether or not 1544 the Act of 1934 is to be continued. That is the sole issue before the Committee. It was stated by two hon. Members at the beginning of the Debate. The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. H. Macmillan) put it in the form of a question. He asked, was it worth while? The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) put the issue in the form of a statement. He said the fact was that if this Clause were defeated the whole machinery and apparatus which are based upon the Act of 1934 would fall to the ground. I do not wish to quarrel with either question or statement. I tremble to think what time I should have to occupy were I to attempt to deal with the innumerable issues that have been raised on this simple issue in the course of the last six hours. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Hon. Members know what they would think of any Minister who said any unnecessary word in defence of his own Bill. [Interruption.] I have listened in silence for six hours, and I hope that the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees will permit me to make my speech in my own way.
No one grudges hon. Members opposite any opportunity to raise these issues and to bring the facts as they see them about this problem before the House and the country. They divide themselves into half a dozen groups. The first is related to the causes underlying what is called "the problem." The issues that have been stated have been very far reaching. The Committee will not expect me to deal with them at length now because we had them stated and restated scores of times in the last few years. We have discussed the questions of the coal industry, of rationalisation and of mechanisation, and we have discussed all the incidental results of the great movements which are taking place not merely in this country—which do not solely affect the areas concerned in this Bill—but throughout the manufacturing world. These causes have been debated over and over again, and the Committee would not expect me to go into any reply about them, because the question with which we are dealing is whether it is worth while to extend the Act of 1934.
The second group concerns the state of the areas. There, again, the Committee is familiar with facts and, more than that, the Government have made 1545 certain that the House should be aware of them. It is sometimes overlooked by hon. Members who quote passage after passage from this, that and the other report, that it is out of moneys provided by Parliament and mainly through machinery provided by Parliament that we have the mass of information that we have got' so that the House and the country is able to understand the serious nature of this problem. Indeed, I noticed in the course of the afternoon that one of the statements I myself made in the course of a Second Reading speech about the comparative weight of unemployment in the various areas was itself quoted as the principal example of the difficulties of the situation in certain areas now. Those who try to pretend, as some hon. Members have in this Debate, that nothing has been done, misrepresent the whole situation; those who would give the country to believe that there has been no improvement have forgotten that the White Paper laid before the House and digested by the country makes it perfectly clear that, apart from certain sections of the areas affected by the Act of 1934 and Clause 1 of this Bill, there has been a very great improvement in the Special Areas. I was able to give the House recently a figure which I will repeat here, namely, that in the last two years in the Special Areas it is my calculation that there are 100,000 more jobs.
§ Mr. Shinwell rose—
§ Mr. Brown
If the hon. Gentleman does riot mind, I have listened with great patience, and I would prefer to make my speech in my own way. The speech to which I have referred not only made that statement, but justified it with details, and if any hon. Member wants to know the basis of my claim, I have only to refer him to the last Debate on this subject in which I took part. I pointed out to the House on a previous occasion that when Members from South-West Durham talk about the state of South-West Durham they themselves quote the statements made by me in this House showing that the Government are well aware of the difference there is between South-West Durham and other areas compared with the improvement which has taken place elsewhere.
§ Mr. Brown
The hon. Member knows more than that. Besides, hon. Members opposite should be the last to complain of another examination, for they have only just completed their own examination. But I am not referring to examinations of that kind but to an expert examination. The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) will remember putting a number of questions to me as to when that report would be published. Now it has been published I gather that he does not care much about the contents.
§ Mr. Brown
The hon. Member did manage to discuss it. We have had repetitions of statements made before about the history of the Act of 1934. The hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. K. Griffith) stated that the reason why certain areas were outside was because of the time pressure on the Commissioner for that particular area. That is an incomplete statement, that is, as regards the report, but it was the Government who drafted the Bill and not that particular Commissioner. It was stated in the report that there were other considerations in view, and one of them is that in making an effort of this kind one has to take into account how far one can widen the sphere of operations without dissipating the effects which it is desired to secure.
I have listened to speeches asking not that the Act should be scrapped but that 1547 other areas should be included in it. One of the reasons put forward for that request is a new one; it has never been given before, so far as I can remember these debates. Members have taken the view that their constituencies ought to come within the ambit of the Act because they know it has worked well, and to-day they have taken the line that they will vote against the Bill if their areas cannot be included because they feel that the things which will be done later if this Act is continued may perhaps do damage in their areas if they are not included. That is quite a new argument in the course of these discussions. We have heard appeals to come in from Glasgow, from Tees-side, from Congleton, from the hon. Member for Sedgfield (Mr. J. R. Leslie) and other Members. Surely the very fact that these Members have in the last 12 months made repeated demands to the Government that their areas should come within the ambit of the Act is sufficient to enable this Committee to make up its mind as to whether it is worth while continuing the Act. No one can have watched the work of the Special Commissioners in the areas and not understand that that work has been of the utmost value to those areas. Anyone can sum up the figures, which I need not repeat to-night. The Commissioners have made commitments up to nearly £11,000,000 for those areas for works of development and improvement.
§ Mr. Brown
Hon. Members are very fond of talking about millions. They found it much easier to talk about millions when they were in office than to spend them effectively and to get results. No one who has listened to the Debate and has weighed the arguments can have been unaware of the uneasiness in the minds of hon. Members opposite as to how a vote against Clause 1 would be regarded in their constituencies, which know that the Act of 1934 has been of great advantage to them, and therefore they have engaged in a long Debate covering the history and causes of every conceivable issue affecting the Special 1548 Areas on the very simple and direct point of whether or not we ought to continue the Act of 1934. I suggest that any study of the White Paper and of the debates on the Financial Resolution and on the Second Reading of this Bill will have proved to the majority of the Members of this Committee that the Government were right in deciding to continue the Act.
§ 11 p.m.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Had the right hon. Gentleman had the courtesy to give way when I desired to address myself to one of his observations it would be unnecessary for me to intervene now. All that I want to do is to deal with two points which he mentioned. The first is that he stated in his speech, not for the first time, that as a result of Government policy more than 100,000 men had been found employment in the Special Areas. This is not the time to challenge the general range of Government policy, but I would challenge the right hon. Gentleman. Does he say that 100,000 more men have been found employment as a result of the provisions of the Act of 1934? One would have gathered from his speech that that was so.
§ Mr. Shinwell
We are discussing the adequacy or otherwise of the Special Areas Act. The right hon. Gentleman stated that £11,000,000 had been placed at the disposal of the Commissioner, but he admitted that no more than £3,000,000 had been spent. In opening the Debate I said that between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000 had been spent; the right hon. Gentleman now confirms what I said. Does he pretend that anything like 100,000 men have been found employment in consequence? Has it not been stated over and over again on Government Benches, and by the President of the Board of Trade and others, that £1,000,000 will find employment for not more than 3,000 men? If £3,000,000 has been spent, employment will therefore have been found for 9,000 men in the Special Areas. That completely demolishes the extravagant claim made by the right hon. Gentleman.
The other point is that the right hon. Gentleman said that the causes relating to this problem had been argued re- 1549 peatedly in this House. I assumed from that that he deprecated any further discussion, as though the matter has been settled. If it be true that we are aware of the causes, mechanisation of industry, the low level of purchasing power, the parlous condition of the coal industry, our export trade and the like, when are the Government going to produce the remedies that are necessary? Is it pretended by the right hon. Gentleman that there are in the existing Act, or in the provisions of the proposed Act, the requisite remedies for the problem as the right hon. Gentleman himself understands it? In short, no attempt has been made, nor is one being made now by the Government, to face up to the actual causes of the present problem as it besets the Special Areas.
That is our reply, briefly stated, to the hon. Member for Ring's Norton (Mr. Cartland) and to the Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer). The hon. Member for King's Norton made an apology, and no more. One can understand that. He is on the Government side, and no doubt on occasion, in spite of rebellious instincts, he must be subservient to the Front Bench on that side. He said, in stating his views regarding the inadequacy of the existing proposals, that if these provisions were part of a scheme he could the more readily support them. He assents to my interpretation of his argument. That is our case. You cannot deal with this vast problem in a piecemeal fashion. It can only be dealt with, not as regards South Wales, or Merthyr Tydvil, grave as the problem is in that area, or Durham, or Cumberland; it can only be dealt with in a comprehensive and planned fashion as regards the whole of the Special Areas, and, in addition, those areas which sooner or later will be in precisely the same predicament.
I have only one further submission to make. I represent a constituency in the County of Durham. Grave as the problem is throughout the Special Areas, there is one locality in the County of Durham which is more gravely affected than any other part of the Special Areas. I refer to South-West Durham. Recently a report was submitted to the right hon. Gentleman and made available to hon. Members and to the country, from which we 1550 were able to gather that South-West Durham was to be abandoned to its fate, that it was regarded as a derelict area; there was no hope, no outlook, no promise, nothing at all. There is—and this again is a substantial part of our case against the Government and this Clause—there is nothing in the old Act, and certainly there is no single provision in the proposed Act, which can in any fashion deal with the problem of South-West Durham. What, then, is the Government's remedy? The fact is that the Government have no remedy. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) has said that the Government were relying on their rearmament programme, on what they call prosperity. I presume that what they understand by prosperity is preparation for war. That is not our conception of prosperity. Not until the working classes of this country are regularly employed at congenial labour with good wages—and wages are far from good now—not until they are blessed with real and permanent, security, can we say there is prosperity in this country. There is no question of prosperity either under the old Act or in the existing Bill, and for that reason I advise right hon. and hon. Members beside me to vote unanimously against the Clause standing part of the Bill.
§ 11. 11 p.m.
§ Mr. Batey
I could not understand the answer of the Minister of Labour to my question. I asked how much had been spent. The Minister replied, "Nearly £3,000,000." But in an answer which he gave to me on 4th March he said there had been spent £2,040,000. How has the Minister made that into £3,000,000?
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 218; Noes, 114.1437
|Division No. 145.]||AYES.||[3.50 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Duggan, H. J.||Lloyd, G. W.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Duncan, J. A. L.||Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.|
|Allan, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Elliston, Capt. G. S.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Scot. U.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Elmley, Viscount||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F|
|Assheton, R.||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.|
|Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Errington, E.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.|
|Balniel, Lord||Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Markham, S. F.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Findlay, Sir E.||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Bernays, R. H.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Gluckstein, L. H.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Goodman, Col. A. W.||Moreing, A. C.|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Gower, Sir R. V.||Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry|
|Boulton, W. W.||Grant-Ferris, R.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Granville, E. L.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.|
|Brass, Sir W.||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Nicholson, G. (Farnham)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Bull, B. B.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Hamilton, Sir G. C.||Patrick, C. M.|
|Butler, R. A.||Hanbury, Sir C.||Peters, Dr. S. J.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Hannah, I. C.||Petherick, M.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Harvey, Sir G.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Cary, R. A.||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Pilkington, R.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle)||Plugge, Capt. L. F.|
|Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan.||Rankin, Sir R.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Hepworth, J.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Channon, H.||Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Rayner, Major R. H.|
|Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Reid, Captain A. Cunningham|
|Chorlton, A. E. L.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Remer, J. R.|
|Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Holdsworth, H.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Holmes, J. S.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Hopkinson, A.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Salt, E. W.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs)||Hulbert, N. J.||Sandeman, Sir N. S.|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Hunter, T.||Sandys, E. D.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Savery, Sir Servington|
|Crossley, A. C.||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.||Scott, Lord William|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Selley, H. R.|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Keeling, E. H.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A|
|De la Bère, R.||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Doland, G. F.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Donner, P. W.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Levy, T.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Drewe, C.||Liddall, W. S.||Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Lindsay, K. M.||Spens, W. P.|
|Dugdale, Major T. L.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)||Thomas, J. P. L.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Stewart, William J. (Belfast, S.)||Touche, G. C.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Strickland, Captain W. F.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Walker-Smith, Sir J.||Wise, A. R.|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Sutcliffe, H.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.||Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.|
|Tasker, Sir R. I.||Warrender, Sir V.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Tate, Mavis C.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)||Watt, G. S. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)||Wayland, Sir W. A||Sir George Penny and Lieut.-|
|Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward.|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Harris, Sir P. A.||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Hayday, A.||Ridley, G.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Ritson, J.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Hopkin, D.||Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Sanders, W. S.|
|Banfield, J. W.||John, W.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Sexton, T. M.|
|Batey, J.||Jones, J. J. (Silvertown)||Shinwell, E.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Kelly, W. T.||Short, A.|
|Bonn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Bevan, A.||Lathan, G.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Burke, W. A.||Lawson, J. J.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Leach, W.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Lee, F.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cove, W. G.||Leslie, J. R.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Dagger, G.||Logan, D. G.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Lunn, W.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Day, H.||Macdonald, G. (Inca)||Stephen, C.|
|Dobble, W.||McEntee, V. La T.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||McGhee, H. G.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Ede, J. C.||McGovern, J.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Maclean, N.||Thorne, W.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||MacNeill, Weir, L.||Thurtle, E.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Mathers, G.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Gardner, B. W.||Messer, F.||Viant, S. P.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Montague, F.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Muff, G.||Whiteley, W.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Paling, W.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Parker, J.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Potts, J.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Price, M. P.|
|Hardie, G. D.||Pritt, D. N.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Groves and Mr. Charleton.|
Resolutions agreed to.
|Division No. 146.]||AYES.||[11.13 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Fleming, E. L.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Fox, Sir G. W. G.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Furness, S. N.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Patrick, C. M.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Gledhill, G.||Penny, Sir G.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Gluckstein, L. H.||Peters, Dr. S. J.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Petherick, M.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Grant-Ferris, R.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Pilkington, R.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Balniel, Lord||Grimston, R. V.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)||Radford, E. A.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Guinness, T. L. E. B.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Hannah, I. C.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hepburn, P. G. T, Buchan-||Remer, J. R.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Hepworth, J.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Brass, Sir W.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Brooklebank, C. E. R.||Holmes, J. S.||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Brown, Rt.-Hon. E. (Leith)||Hopkinson, A.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Bull, B. B.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Salt, E. W.|
|Burghley, Lord||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Butler, R. A.||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Hulbert, N. J.||Scott, Lord William|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Selley, H. R.|
|Cary, R. A.||Hunter, T.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)||Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Channon, H.||Jones, L. (Swansea W.)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Clarke, F. E. (Dartford)||Keeling, E. H.||Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.|
|Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Spens, W. P.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Stewart, J. Henderson (File, E.)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Storey, S.|
|Courthope, Col. Sir G. L.||Latham, Sir P.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Leckie, J. A.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Liddall, W. S.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Lindsay, K. M.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Davies, C. (Montgomery)||McCorquodale, M. S.||Thomas, J. P. L.|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Touche, G. C.|
|Doland, G. F.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Donner, P. W.||McKie, J. H.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Magnay, T.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Drewe, C.||Maitland, A.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Dugdale, Major T. L.||Markham, S. F.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Maxwell, Hon. S. A.||Watt, G. S. H.|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)||Wells, S. R.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Emery, J. F.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.||Wise, A. R.|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Moreing, A. C.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)||Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.)||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry|
|Everard, W. L.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Fildes, Sir H.||Nail, Sir J.||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert|
|Findlay, Sir E.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Ward and Mr. James Stuart.|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Bevan, A.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Banfield, J. W.||Broad, F. A.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Barnes, A. J.||Bromfield, w.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Batey, J.||Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)|
|Ammon, C. G.||Bellenger, F. J.||Burke, W. A.|
|Cape, T.||Hayday, A.||Price, M. P.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Chater, D.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Holdsworth, H.||Ridley, G.|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Hopkin, D.||Riley, B.|
|Daggar, G.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Ritson, J.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Day, H.||Kelly, W. T,||Rowson, G.|
|Dobbie, W.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)|
|Dunn, E. (Rothar Vallay)||Lathan, G.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Ede, J. C.||Lawson, J. J.||Shinwell, E.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Leach, W.||Silkin, L.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Lee, F.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Leslie, J. R.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T, H.||Logan, D. G.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Foot, D. M.||Lunn, W.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Frankel, D.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Gardner, B. W.||McEntee, V. La T.||Stephen, C.|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||McGhee, H. G.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||McGovern, J.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Gibbins, J.||Maclean, N.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Thurtle, E.|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||MacNeill, Weir, L.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Marshall, F.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Griffith, F. Kingslay (M'ddl'sbre, W.)||Mathers, G.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Messer, F.||White, H. Graham|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Montague, F.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Groves, T. E.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Oliver, G. H.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Hardie, G. D.||Paling, W.|
|Harris, Sir P. A.||Parker, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Harvay, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Potts, J.||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. John.|
§ 11.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
Hon. Members behind me are full of fight, but we are conscious that the right hon. Gentleman has had a long sitting and, full of sympathy for him, we wish to keep him fresh for to-morrow's Debate. We, also, want to be present to-morrow in good trim and condition so that we may be able to absorb anything we are likely to receive. In view of the fact that we have had a good debate, it seems to me that it is appropriate to report Progress and resume the Debate, perhaps, on some more favourable occasion.
§ 11.23 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Captain Margesson)
At Question Time to-day the Prime Minister was asked by the Leader of the Opposition for what purpose the Eleven o'Clock Rule was to be suspended, and he replied that we were suspending it in order to secure the Committee stage of the Special Areas Bill and two minor Orders. At 22 minutes past 11 o'clock we have disposed only of Clause 1, and although there has been a very full and ample discussion on that Clause, the Government might have expected more substantial progress than has been made. Therefore, it would not 1554 be asking too much of the Committee to sit a little longer in order to make more substantial progress. I understand that the outstanding points of the Committee stage are not of the same magnitude as the one which we have disposed of. However, the hon. Member has reminded the Committee that to-morrow is an important day and all hon. Members want to have their minds and intellects as fresh as possible to withstand the strains which may be placed upon us. If the Committee stage were resumed on some other day it might be possible to dispose of it without a protracted sitting. The Committee knows that the Bill has to be on the Statute Book within a certain date, and I do not think there is a desire in any quarter of the House to see the Bill killed. At the same time, the Government find themselves in a rather difficult position with regard to time, and this is a proposition I make to the Committee for their consideration: that the Government should agree to accept the Motion to report Progress, on the understanding that on Thursday, after the discussion of the Committee stage of the Budget Resolutions has been disposed of, we should resume this Committee stage on the understanding that we sit until we get it. I do not honestly think that the discussion should be very protracted and that we should be able to get the Committee stage without a very late sitting. I hope the 1555 suggestion will commend itself to the Committee.
§ 11.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Attlee
The Parliamentary Secretary has made a very conciliatory statement. The difficulty in which the Committee finds itself is due to the way in which the Money Resolution has been drawn. It is impossible to say how long the Debate will last. However I think the suggestion that has been made is the best way of meeting the situation and will commend itself to the feeling of the House.
§ 11.28 p.m.
§ Captain Margesson
I quite understand the position of the right hon. Gentleman, and also that of the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway. I think the Committee in general appreciates the understanding, and we shall resume the Committee stage on Thursday evening, and that the Government will have to ask the Committee to sit in order to obtain it. On that understanding, and on the understanding that we dispose to-night of Orders Nos. 2 and 3, I will accept the Motion to report Progress.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.