§ 3.47 p.m.
§ Mr. W. Whiteley
I beg to move,That, whilst this House appreciates the work of the Commissioners for the Special Areas, it profoundly regrets the continued failure of His Majesty's Government to recognise that the plight of these areas is but an indication of the unstable foundations of the present system, and that more fundamental measures are required to enable them to take their proper place in the economic life of the nation and bring to their afflicted communities a definite prospect of reviving industrial activity.The opening sentence of the Motion expresses appreciation of the work of the Commissioners for the Special Areas, and I notice that the Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson) agrees with us on that point. But there we part. Our Motion expresses regret, as it is bound to do, that we still have in this country a huge army of unemployed. One of the most tragic things in the report of the Commissioner is the statement that there are still 80,000 men of 45 years and upwards in the Special Areas for whom there are no future prospects. Those 80,000 men have in their day served industry and have been responsible for adding their quota to the national wealth. Now they have used up whatever resources they may have had, and day by day they are getting into a more derelict condition because they have not the necessary means to maintain their homes in the state which they would desire. It is a real tragedy, especially when one realises that we are living in a period of boasted prosperity throughout the country. These people, when they have an opportunity of expressing themselves, ask, "How is it that the House of Commons can vote very readily £1,500,000,000 for the creation of arms and leave us absolutely neglected?"
The report shows that an abundance of machinery has been created during the last few years to deal with this problem. We have trading estates, a Special Areas Reconstruction Association, development boards, housing associations, the Nuffield Trust—I was going to say site companies, but after the right hon. Gentleman's reply yesterday to a question I shall have to put that into the singular and say site company; land settlement societies, the National Council of Social Service, trade 1364 and industrial development associations; and numbers of other associations and societies have been created in order to deal with this problem. Many of them are merely of a charitable kind. The Commissioner has expressed his opinion that:It is not now so much new organisations that are required, but 12 months of steady work in order to see whether it is possible, with the powers already granted, to make an impression on the considerable numbers of unemployed still left in those districts.The report goes on to show that after careful scrutiny many of these organisations have been doing effective work, but the point is that there is no co-operation between or co-ordination of these various bodies. My colleagues and I in the northeast have for a long period been stressing the point that there should be some central control, some co-ordinating body, in order to make the work of these societies more effective. The machinery is there, but none of them know what the others are doing, and we say that it is essential, if we are to give that attention which is necessary to these areas, that there should be some central control. We expected that when Lord Portal was made Chief Industrial Adviser, this would have been remedied, and that he would have concentrated on seeing that the whole of the industrial development of the country was brought under review, and all these organisations co-ordinated in order that the work might be much more effective than it has been up to the present time.
I want to take the opportunity of referring to the north-east coast and to the trading estate that has been set up in that area, because there is in this report a glowing picture of the trading estate which is much marred by at least one part of the area. We are told that £500,000 has been spent on this estate up to date. The report sets out that the setting is an ideal one, that they have prepared the best possible type of road, that there are good lighting and sanitary arrangements, and that there are rural amenities and freedom from smoke. Every social need is being brought into the estate, and if it has not already been met, it is the intention to meet it in future. When I read the report I made a comparison with the colliery districts in some of our areas. I am certain that if the same energy and the same spirit of enthusiasm had been put into the existing 1365 areas, with their existing social services, there would have been a much better picture to portray than we are able to portray to-day. The aim of this trading estate is to collect 40,000 workers together. Twenty-two factories are already completed, 10 are in course of construction, and 24 are in prospect. The Commissioner says:It is probable, however, that the chief factors in the success which has so far met the company's efforts in encouraging industries to the estate, have been the proximity of a fine body of labour, male and female, adult and juvenile, and the high character of that labour.That dispenses with those people who say that in the Special Areas the labour does not meet the necessary requirements. Our point is that this trading estate simply touches one end of a vast area and that there is, in the Commissioner's words,a great need for concentration on other parts of the particular area.He also said:It is imperative that the standard of municipal services should be kept up and the amenities of the district improved, both by the removal of hideous eyesores and by help rendered to the many social agencies working among the men, women and children.The Commissioner has been brought to realise that a tremendous amount of money has been spent on new social services, on the creation of new communities, and that in the rest of the area the social services which have gradually been growing over a long period of years by the efforts of the local authorities are now being allowed to deteriorate because there was not the proper opportunity of maintaining them as they should be maintained. I repeat, that if the same efforts had been made over the whole area as are now being made in that particular section, we would have had a different story to tell to-day.
The Commissioner also recognises that on the north-east coast one of his great problems is south-west Durham, to which a good deal of attention is paid in the report. It is singular that, in spite of the prosperity which the country is enjoying, in spite of the fact that the coal trade is increasing, and that the steel industry is going at full pressure, this particular area is absolutely stationary. I want to direct the attention of the House to the important fact that in the southwest Durham area there is an ideal centre 1366 in Bishop Auckland, with Tow Law and Crook on one side and Spennymoor on the other, for the Tees and Wear Valley. It would make an ideal centre if there is the desire and determination to bring that district back to economic life. It can be made more beautiful than the trading estate because the estate has limitations, and it can be brought to a better state that any trading estate can possibly be. It has been pointed out in past Debates that there is a great need in this area for a central pumping scheme to drain the water-logged coal seams. It is an ideal area for the establishment of plant for the production of oil, and in these days, when the Government consider that oil is essential for the purpose of any future crisis, here is an opportunity of taking that enterprise into consideration. It is an ideal part for the establishment of motor works, because it is a great centre and links up various parts of the country.
The mineral resources in Weardale and Teesdale are of great value from the national point of view. You have lead, ganister, winstone, limestone, barytes, and iron ore found in those two valleys that have not yet been exploited to the full or in some cases have not even been touched. Then too, as any hon. Member knows who has seen the area, it is an ideal part for schemes of afforestation, and you have all the social services there, so that it would not cost anything like the same amount of money to bring them into full being, as it were, as to create new and expensive social services as is being done, say, in trading estates. Therefore, we say that if there is a desire on the part of the Government to do so, they can bring that derelict part of our Special Areas back again into the economic life of the country, and there are abundant opportunities for doing so. We argue that it is the duty of the Government to concern themselves primarily with the problem of creating work. The Special Commissioner has stated that an Improvement Association has been started in that area, but I suggest, in view of the many societies and organisations already there, that that is rather superfluous.
I turn now to the question of the reduction of unemployment and the improvement of employment itself. The Commission states:During the 12 months unemployment has fallen in the areas by 25.6 per cent., of which 1367 only a comparatively small part was due to transference out of the areas. The greater part of the improvement is no doubt due to national and international causes, but it is encouraging to find that the Special Areas have participated in no small measure in the general economic recovery of Great Britain.He goes on later to state:The Government armament programme has undoubtedly contributed to the recovery of the Special Areas.This raises two very important questions, the first being the Special Areas and the other the direction of industry. Transference, of course, affects the Special Areas very much, and although it is true that the Commissioner has expressed his opinion that the peak of transference has been passed, when you turn to Appendix VI of his report you find that during the 12 months under review 42,975 persons have been transferred from these areas, so that it is really tragic from the point of view of those areas. You cannot continue to lift blocks of that kind out of the Special Areas and hope to revive them in the near future. It is impossible. The Commissioner draws attention to the fact that once more there is a demand for skilled miners in the country. I suggest that out of those practically 43,000 people there will be a vast number of skilled miners who have been taken from the Special Areas and who cannot now lend their skill to the important basic industry of mining in this country.
With regard to the transference of boys, we have the cry all over the mining areas that boy labour is nearly impossible to get, but I am not so sure that it is not a good thing that boys are being transferred if it is for some better occupation than mining, because mining under present conditions really is not a fit occupation for lads. This nation must make up its mind what it is going to do about the mining industry in the future. There ought to be established a proper system of training, and these lads ought to know something about the value of the getting of coal. They ought not simply to be thrown into a mine and told to make the best of the situation in which they find themselves, but there ought to be a proper system of training and a proper understanding and knowledge of the value of coal, not only to this country, but to the export trade of the world. Far above that, however, there ought to be an incentive created for the lads of this country 1368 in the mining areas, to know that they are going to enjoy better conditions in their work, higher wages, and, what are still more important, much shorter hours than they have to work at the present time. We can quite understand that the present-day young life of this country is not going to put up with the drudgery that young life had to undergo in days gone past.
On the second point, the Commissioner is very definite. He says:This is a question which lies very near the root of the problem of the Special Areas. The Government cannot, in my view, especially since the introduction of tariffs and quotas, evade all responsibility for the location of industry.That is a very definite statement. I am one of those who, although I may be wrong, have taken objection to the Special Areas Act from the commencement, because I foresaw that it would lend itself to the creation of jealousy between the various areas as to whether or not they had got their fair share. We say that this matter is so important that not only the Special Areas, but the distressed areas, about which we shall hear something today, in Lancashire and other parts, and those areas part of which is scheduled as special and part of which is excluded—we say that the time has come when you must take the whole of the country into your consideration to see that the economic life is equalised as far as possible. It is essential, if you are to do that, to appoint a Minister for the Direction and Development of Industry, that he might co-ordinate all the services existing in this country and that he might have a survey of the whole picture and see that the natural resources of the country are being used to the best advantage of the whole nation.
There has been some talk in recent days about a slump that might occur in the early future. The Prime Minister himself, in answer to a question on Tuesday, told us that we were in a far better position to-day than we have been since the days of the War to meet a circumstance of that kind. The Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence followed that up with a speech in which he told the country that we might look forward with hope that for the next five years the armaments programme will be sufficient to prevent any slump in the prosperity of this country. Well, here is an opportunity for the Government; they 1369 have five years in front of them, according to that statement. I was reading the other day a speech made by the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, at the County Hotel, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on 3rd December, in which he said:The latest bogy of the Opposition is that we in England must be prepared to face a great slump within the next few months. There are in Eastern countries birds called vultures, with an uncanny sense of knowing when a sick animal is going to die. When they see the sick cow in a field they fluster round waiting for it to expire. The Opposition seem to be at the present time in the position of rather anaemic and ignorant vultures waiting for the cow of prosperity to expire.I thought to myself that here was a Member of the National Government who ought at least to understand the conditions under which his fellow-citizens are living. Within a very short distance of where he was speaking he could have seen the evidence of the vultures, not of the Opposition, but of the Government; he could have seen those vultures stripping his fellow citizens of their very flesh in time of prosperity, and not waiting for that time to expire; he could have seen the effects of that vicious household means test; he could have seen the confiscation by his own Government of the increase in wages of boys and girls because they have rendered a further year's service; he could have seen all that if had cared to see it, and then he would have been able to understand who were the real vultures in this country at the present time. There is no Opposition that has ever sat in this House of Commons which has done a greater work than the present Opposition in the endeavour to formulate plans for the establishment of security in the home life of the people. We are concerned about our nation and about the economic life of our people, and we will at all times use every endeavour to see that greater security is brought to the homes of the people of this country.
There are people—unfortunately, a very large number—in this country who enjoy comfort and security and who sit quietly back and say, "Well, there is unemployment benefit provided, there is public assistance provided, there are the activities of the Unemployment Assistance Board, there is National Health Insurance, there are widows' and orphans' pensions, and there are old age pensions; what more can these people want?" No man or woman in public life who enjoys 1370 comfort and security in any measure is entitled to sit idle. They should use all their energies to see that there is established in this country a system of society that brings a reasonable amount of security and comfort to every fellow-citizen in the land. The Commissioner in his opening phrases brings that picture clearly before our minds. He says:During the last 30 years important measures of social reform have been passed, whilst at the same time the whole of the old Poor Law system has gone into the melting pot, and a social conscience has been aroused which demands a fuller life for the worker and a greater measure of security for his old age.I hope the hon. Gentleman who has put down an Amendment to our Motion is listening to these words because, in my opinion, the Commissioner in that passage tells him very definitely that his Amendment is an absolute fiasco as a method of dealing with the present situation. The purpose and policy of our Motion and of our activities, and our only concern, is the development of a fuller life for the worker and a greater measure of security in the homes of our people. If the Government have not already realised the fact, they must now realise that private enterprise has failed to establish security in any shape or form and has been compelled to ask for doles, quotas, tariffs and all kinds of things to enable it to keep going. When the Government realise that fact, as they should realise it by now, then it becomes their duty to face the problem of unemployment and poverty and malnutrition, and to face it in the same spirit and with the same enthusiasm as they face the danger of war.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Mainwaring
I beg to second the Motion.
May I draw attention to one aspect of the Motion which has been so ably moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr. Whiteley)? We ask the House to express its regret at the continued failure of His Majesty's Government to recognise the plight of the Special Areas. We do not charge the Government with being the cause of the plight of the areas but we hold that the Government are responsible for the continued existence of the people under those conditions. Further, the Motion indicates our belief that the cause is the unstable foundations of the existing system. Neither this Government nor any other Government is 1371 responsible for the unstable foundations of the system, but any Government which dares to remain in office under present conditions makes itself responsible for the continuance of those conditions.
We are fortunate in having before us the report of the Commissioner for the Special Areas. Unfortunately, however, for the Commissioner he has deemed it part of his duty to sing a hymn of praise to the Government. He regards himself as one who is proud to serve this Government, the most able Government, apparently in his view, that the country has ever had, and in his report he invites us to consider how wonderful are the provisions which the Government have made. He says that some of the methods employed by the Government in dealing with the situation are "both novel and interesting," and that never before has a Government clothed a Commissioner with such powers as he is clothed with now. In view of those words one would expect to learn of equally wonderful results. The Commissioner enumerates the considerable powers which have been given to him and the inducements which have been offered to other people to assist him. According to him, the Government assist with rent and with rates and with relief from Income Tax and Defence Tax; that they are prepared to buy sites, to build factories and to establish trading estates and that they are planning an areaon lines which have sometimes been discussed but never before attempted.In fact, according to the Commissioner's description, the Government are doing everything, except inducing business people to appreciate the blessings which they are conferring on the areas and providing work for the people. We are told that the policy of the Government and of the Commissioner is based upon bringing work to the workless. That, we are told, is the real cure. It is also the real test of their policy, and it is upon that test that I wish to judge them. The Commissioner has evidently deemed it necessary that he should write up his defence of the Government. He forgets, it seems to me, that his real difficulty is that of justifying himself, the office which he holds and the policy which he represents. He is not, of course, without hope. He hopes some day "to persuade potential capitalists" that the people of 1372 the depressed areas are far from being depressed, that they still have an urgent desire and need to work and to provide an ample supply of labour, and to provide, also, a unique opportunity for business men who seek commercial and industrial expansion. But that is only a hope.
What the Commissioner has not realised, apparently, is that the first people to be convinced are the Government. He must convince them that pious hopes and expressions of opinion will not avail. Further, he has to realise that what he has to say and his manner of saying it, will not satisfy the people of the Special Areas even if it should bring any solace to the Government. What does he say about the condition of the Special Areas at the end of the first year of his term of office? There are very high-sounding phrases, some of which have already been quoted by my hon. Friend. For instance, he says:The 12 months under review have witnessed a great improvement in the economic position in all the Special Areas.We shall seek evidence of that later.Unemployment has fallen in the areas by 25.6 per cent. of which only a comparatively small part is due to transference.I propose later to show that the exact opposite is the case. But the Commissioner admits thatall is not well with the areas.For that concession we are truly thankful.There are still many spots which have hardly been touched by the returning tide of prosperity but hope has returned.I should like to know where. It is not in the Rhondda Valley. I do not know where the hope is unless it be in the mind and the heart of the Commissioner himself. [An HON. MEMBER: "Tyne-side."] Tyneside can speak for itself, and, fortunately, it has voices on this side of the House as well as on the other side. The Commissioner goes on to say:The measures initiated are contributing materially to the improvement of those areas.He gives the grounds for that statement, one of them being that there is a substantial fall in unemployment in the areas and I note specially the following remark:The largest proportionate improvement has taken place in South Wales.I regard these passages in the report as a serious challenge to those who represent 1373 the Special Areas in this House. They challenge us upon the conditions which exist in our own districts and upon the statements which we have made here on behalf of our people. On the other hand, they invite conclusive proof of those statements. What then has the Commissioner been able to do? He agrees with Sir Malcolm Stewart in stressing the necessity of finding additional influences to aid in the proper location of industry. He points out the necessity of maintaining the social amenities in the areas, and even in some cases of adding to them. He refers to the maintenance of social services, but what else does he promise? Can he even find support for those suggestions from other Government Departments? Are we in the Rhondda, for example, likely to find his opinion that the amenities and social services of that area should be maintained and improved, being echoed by the Minister of Health? Are we likely to find the necessary assistance to that end being provided by the Ministry of Health? We hope that, some day, they will make a contribution in that respect.
The Commissioner goes on to point out what happened in 1936. According to the Board of Trade survey, the number of new factories in Britain in that year was 551, and of those eight were in the Special Areas, one being in South Wales. The number of factory extensions in that year was 201 of which three were in Special Areas. While there was a total increase of eight factories in the Special Areas in that period, six factories were closed down in those areas. The report for 1937 has not yet been issued, but is there any hope that the position of affairs in 1937 will be better than that indicated by the figures for 1936? Indeed, the Commissioner bluntly and simply states his own impression as the result of his own efforts to secure new industries for the Special Areas. He confesses that the most hopeful thing that he has seen is the replies given, not by undertakings which desire to go to the Special Areas but by undertakings which have not gone there, explaining their reasons.
This is what the Commissioner regards as hopeful. Out of 400 cases of light industries, factories and workshops whose owners did not choose to go to the Special Areas, 222 replied that they had found convenient premises elsewhere; 57 replied 1374 that they found suitable labour elsewhere and 23 replied that they had got cheap land and low rent and rates elsewhere. They find that there is nothing in the Special Areas offered to them by the Government which would induce them to go there. What hope is there, having regard to the provision made by the Government, that the next 400 cases will not follow suit? What reason has the Minister for hoping that any of the next 400 will go to the Special Areas, if the first 400 have failed to respond to the wonderful inducements provided by the Government? But that is the sort of thing from which the Commissioner takes hope. If the Commissioner accepts those replies as explanations of the reasons why industrialists keep away from the Special Areas, where are the vaunted inducements provided by the Government? The Commissioner goes further and says:In certain villages work is never likely to be available on the scale it was in the past and the man can safely settle down as an unemployed pensioner.I ask the House to ponder on the meaning of that sentence. I know hundreds and thousands of men who began the settling-down process in 1923, and who are still settling down.In a limited number of cases men are to be found quite, content to live on the measure of relief they receive. The number may not be large but it is there, and has to be considered.There we have a real picture of the depressed areas, and there is no hope for these people. These men are said to be settling down to attain pensionable age. If the Commissioner had had half the desire to describe the conditions which he has obviously painted out for the Government, what a picture we should have had. Imagine all these men going on to pensionable age. What for? To enter a stage where they will have less provision than they have now. In these Special Areas 80,000 men, over 45 years of age, many injured, are engaged in the settling down process. Whatever may be said of the average working man in this country who may enjoy regular employment and regular wages, whether the wage be large or small, it may be said that at least some of these men have an opportunity, with regular employment, of being able to make some small provision for themselves by the time they reach the age of 65. The provision may be niggardly, it may be only £5 in the local co-operative stores; 1375 but these unemployed men who have been settling down for the last 20 years, have nothing to settle down to from year to year and are going into lower levels of degradation. Physically and in their homes they are becoming merely skeletons.
The attainment of pensionable age is the greatest horror that these men can ever meet. Even if they attain it, it is something not to be welcomed. No workman, whatever his employment may be, welcomes the age of 65, but to these people that age is a perfect horror. What is being done towards providing them with something? Trading estates have been referred to. One trading estate in South Wales, at Treforest, is to serve that great area. The number employed there on constructional work in May, June and July was 500 men. When the constructive work is over, those men will have finished. They are not likely to continue to work on the Treforest trading estate, because the type of factory that is going there will not want men, but only boys and girls. The same tendency will be found everywhere. The best part of £1,000,000 has been spent at Treforest, and I question very much whether they will get the £1,000,000 back. The probability is that when these jobs are completed there will be fewer adults employed there than there have been in the constructive process.
The South Wales District Commissioner gives an equally depressed impression about this area. He talks rather gloomily about the situation, and winds up one part of his report by saying:If these conclusions be accepted and it is found impracticable to introduce new industries to absorb the surplus population, then a Commission should be appointed to report on further action to be taken in respect of the future of these districts.Apart from the human problem, it will be necessary to review the financial position of the two councils of Rhondda and Pontypridd. Pontypridd, situated at the lower end of a valley 12 miles long, has an insured population of over 50,000, at least one-third of whom are unemployed. In that small area one-fourth of the total unemployed in the county of Glamorgan are to be found. There is growing up in that area a tremendous social problem both for the old and young. The 1376 problem is growing so rapidly that this Government will not be able to withstand the pressure to take some action in regard to it.
Those who support the desire to maintain the present system have at least the responsibility of seeing that everything is done to remove the fear of want and privation from the people of this country. If they believe that it is the best of all possible systems, then the responsibility is upon them of providing work for those who require work, and giving them the knowledge that they are contributing something useful to the society to which they belong. In the absence of that provision the unemployed are definitely entitled to adequate provision and maintenance. What has been done on the trading estates that gives us any hope? I invite the Minister to attempt to tell us whether our fears are groundless. Let him produce conclusive proof, not to me personally—I am speaking on behalf of 14,000 unemployed in Rhondda. Those 14,000 want to know where the hope is, where the work may lie, and when it is likely to come to them. Are the factories going to give work to unemployed men? Is there an inducement provided for potential capitalists, and will the provision at Treforest ever touch the Rhonddas? It does not do so at the present time, and there is not the slightest indication that it ever will.
The Government have failed up to now to bring work to the area. They have failed to give adequate assistance to the local authorities. They have failed to arm themselves with the powers necessary to accomplish these tasks. They have failed to give real inducement to would-be or actual industrial capitalists. They have failed to provide adequate support for the unemployed. They have failed to provide children with adequate nourishment. They have failed to provide for the aged they themselves condemned to live in idleness up to the age of 65, and who will then be compelled to fall back upon pensions. They have failed everywhere and in every direction. They have neither grasp of the problems, nor power to conceive plans bold enough to deal with the job, nor courage to carry them through.
Let me remind the House of what has been done in South Wales. The register of the unemployed of 14 years and over 1377 at the exchanges within the Special Area of South Wales—I will only give the round figures in thousands—show that the wholly unemployed in October, 1935, were 135,000; in 1936, 122,000; and in October of this year, 90,000. That is a considerable reduction. The temporary unemployment figures in the same three years were: 1935, 17,000; 1936, 18,000; and 1937, 8,000. The percentage reduction of wholly unemployed for 1936 was 10 per cent. and for 1937 26 per cent., while the figures for temporary unemployment for 1936 represented plus 7 and for 1937 a reduction of 57 per cent. These figures, seemingly, indicate a great improvement and may well be used, as they have been used, to attempt a complete justification of the Government and of the claim that they have the courage and energy to pursue the difficult tasks before them.
In the Commissioner's report we find that in South Wales the registered unemployed of 14 years and over in October, 1936, totalled 141,000, and in September, 1937. 98,000. Of those there were wholly unemployed within the Special Area in October, 1936, 120,000 and in September, 1937, 91,000. The percent age of unemployed in relation to insured workers in the area fell from 34.9 in 1936 to 24.4 in 1937, while the number unemployed was reduced by 30.5. As is explained in another place, the unemployed in South Wales from October, 1936, to October, 1937, fell by over 42,000. That, presumably, is the basis for the encouraging report presented by the Commissioner, but only a small part of it was due to transference. This reduction of 42,000 in the number of the unemployed is primarily due to economic recovery in the area. The Commissioner specifically states that only a small part is due to transference. He states that there has been:a great improvement in all the special areas. During the 12 months unemployment has fallen by 25.6 per cent., of which only a comparatively small part was due to transference out of the areas.I want to examine that statement. The population of South Wales is estimated to have fallen in 1936 compared with 1935 by over 18,000, and for 1935 compared with 1934 by another 12,000. I make bold to say that 1937, for the same cause, will prove itself a record year in that respect. The Commissioner 1378 has deemed it well to draw attention to the falling birth rate in these areas. He points out that it has fallen by over 12 per cent. and that the natural increases in the population on account of births exceeding deaths has fallen from 23,000 in 1931 to 15,000 in 1936, or over 31 per cent. The explanation is also provided in the Commissioner's report, although I doubt whether he has been aware of it, that there were in the Special Areas generally in May, 1937, 197,000 unemployed, divided into three age groups. Those between 18 and 34 years totalled 71,000; those between 35 and 54 totalled 84,000, and those between 55 and upwards, 42,000. In the numbers in each of those three groups as compared with the previous year there was a decrease of 37,000 in the first group, or 34.6 per cent.; a decrease in the second group of 24,000, or 22.7 per cent.; and a decrease in the third group of 5,000, or 10 per cent. The fall in the birth rate in these areas is due to the fact that the groups from which births were to be expected have been withdrawn. Therefore, births could not be expected to occur in the same way. As time goes on these districts will become more and more populated by aged people and such children as may be capable of existence on the limited employment still available in the area.
Coming back to South Wales, I want to show our division of the unemployed by groups. The 71,000 unemployed in July of this year were distributed according to periods of unemployment as follow: Those who had been unemployed up to three months, 15,192; unemployed from three to six months, 6,834; from six to nine months, 5,406; from nine month to one year, 4,950; from one to two years, 10,336; from two to three years, 7,039; from three to four years, 5,029; from four to five years, 4,302; five years and over, 12,397. That is an illuminating set of figures. The two large groups of unemployed are in the first category, those out of work up to three months, who may be regarded as but temporarily idle, and in the last category, those who may be regarded as suffering permanent unemployment. The big mass of those in the last category are over 55 years of age, and consist of those who are told they can settle down and prepare for the arrival of the pensionable age. How would the middle groups of these have fared had South Wales not lost in the 1379 last three years a population of from 60,000 to 70,000 or had there not been removed by transference more than 40,000?
There is an aspect of the problem to be indicated by further figures which the Commissioner supplies for all other Special Areas. There are to-day, in the Special Areas, of men between 18 and 20 years of age, 6,500 idle; from 21 to 24, 18,000; from 25 to 34, 46,000; from 35 to 44, 43,000; 45 to 54, 41,000; 55 to 59, 21,000; and 60 to 64, 20,000. In the year 1935–36 the groups from 55 years of age upwards were reduced by 1,254, or 2.6 per cent. of their number; but in this last year they have been reduced by 5,022, or 10.6 per cent. Why have they been reduced? The Commissioner suggests in his report that they have found work, but I question that, and I am going to suggest that the majority of the 5,022 have gone out of those age groups because they have reached the age of 65 years. In those two last groups of 20,000 odd men each there is ample scope for improvement in the unemployment figures during the next four years and nine years, because in the next four years 20,000 of those poor devils must become pensionable—and they will be deemed to have found work, because they will have gone off the unemployment register—and in the five years that follow there will be another 21,000 going off as aged men.
How has there been a reduction of 42,000 unemployed in South Wales? It is quoted as evidence of the rehabilitation of our devastated areas and the speed with which economic recovery is taking place in the waste spaces of the earth. There has been a reduction of 42,000 in the unemployment figures in South Wales. Where have the unemployed gone? First of all 12,735 have been removed officially by the exchanges, and the exchanges are aware of 8,754 who found work for themselves, making a total of 21,489 who have gone out of the area. The total reduction for all areas is 42,000, and South Wales has contributed 21,489. That is a full 50 per cent. of the total reduction which the Commissioner refers to as "a small part of the recovery due to transference." Secondly, the number of temporary stoppages in that area has been gradually reduced. Collieries worked more regularly, and thus gave regular 1380 employment to large numbers of men who were previously subject to periodic unemployment. The unemployment figure on that account dropped from 18,832 in October, 1936, to 8,157 in October, 1937. We must, therefore, add this 10,000 to the 21,000 to whom I have already referred, and then we have accounted for 31,000 to 32,000 out of the 42,000, and still not a single man has been found a job as a result of anything which the Government or the Commissioner has done. Next there are the 5,000 who have attained the pensionable age—half of these in all probability would be from South Wales—so we can claim as well that a large number have become pensioners. They have to be added in the same manner.
If we have regard to all those who have been accounted for by official transferences to the exchanges, to the thousands who have migrated on their own account, to the reduction of temporary unemployment in the mining industry, to the numbers of men who have reached the pensionable age, and to the absorption of more workers by the mining industry—due to the present comparative boom, which has absorbed 5,000 to 6,000 men in the last 12 months, though neither the Government nor the Commissioner can claim credit for this recovery in industry—then for how many men can the Government claim to have provided work? I say that in the main, and with very few exceptions, this reduction of 42,000 can be accounted for by circumstances and conditions which are apart from anything which has been done by the Government or the Commissioner.
The mining Members of the House will know that in our work underground we are from time to time beset with the difficulty of finding storing places for rubbish, and quite a common saying among the miners is, "Well, throw it about and try to lose it." Some of it is lost in that way—it goes out with the coal. That is the policy which the Government have adopted towards the unemployed—throw them out, spread them out, try to lose them. The presence of 60,000, 80,000 or 100,000 unemployed in Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire would form a very high percentage in relation to the figures of insured workers there. In one exchange area in the Rhondda Valley there are 40 per cent. of unemployed, a very high figure; it 1381 would probably have been 100 per cent. if there had been no transference. But if we take the 40,000 unemployed from South Wales and spread them over London and the Midlands, among the vast insured populations there, it will have no appreciable effect upon the percentages shown by the Ministry's figures.
In this way the Government lose the unemployed. It matters nothing whether those men find jobs, or, because of that, that other people come out of jobs in London and elsewhere, because the percentage figures will not be appreciably affected. The Commissioner, in his zeal to outline the virtues which he assumes for the Government, has forgotten to say anything to justify himself. Has he got anything to say? Has he provided work for any large number of people in the Special Areas? I do not want to say that he is responsible for the failure, but I should like him to come here and say frankly and fearlessly that he has failed. I should like him to make an honest admission of his failure and not attempt to paint the lily, as he has done. His real anxiety to see things done should have compelled him to come down much more definitely in favour of wider powers than he possesses at present. Having failed to deal adequately with the problem by providing work, attention is then turned to methods of alleviating the problem, and to the question of how to make unemployment endurable; how to train unemployed men and women to subsist and be content upon allowances which are far from adequate.
Charity in one form or another provides the means for that. I do not desire to condemn the efforts of individual men and women in their efforts to relieve the sufferings of their fellows, but we are discussing a State policy for a grave social evil, and I say that to rely upon semi-State and semi-official charity as a means of alleviating conditions in the depressed areas as wholly inadequate and altogether wrong. There are plenty of well-intentioned men and women in this country who think they are rendering the best possible service in this manner, but charity applied to an individual's necessities is one thing, and charity applied to a community is quite a different thing. The charity that is applied to the depressed areas is simply a smoke-screen devised for the purpose of hiding the fact 1382 that the Government have made hopelessly inadequate provision for them in other ways.
I say again to those who would defend the system under which we live and seek to preserve it, that it is upon them that the responsibility devolves for providing work for these people. At least they must attempt to do what those who are advancing the claims of another system say can be done. Capital is on its defence. We are arraigning the capital system, and all who support it are upon their defence. It is up to hon. Members opposite and the Government to take into their hands the powers which we say are necessary. If they do not attempt this job and fail to take the powers which are requisite to deal with this job adequately, we would ask them to turn on one side and let another body of men and women come over on that side to use their powers definitely to apply a new set of economic principles to the problems which we are discussing to-day.
§ 5.1 p.m.
§ The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ernest Brown)
The House has listened with interest to two speeches which were different in their method of presentation and in their emphasis. I could understand the hon. Gentleman the Member for Blaydon (Mr. Whiteley) moving this Motion, but from the terms of the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Rhondda (Mr. Mainwaring) I was quite amazed why he seconded it, because it opens with a tribute to the Commissioners. It is true that it is not a very full-throated tribute, but it is a tribute, for the terms of this Vote of Censure are strange. They begin:Whilst this House appreciates the work of the Commissioners for the Special Areas…The hon. Member for Blaydon, with his usual frankness gave them a meed of appreciation for the work which has been done, and he outlined a number of efforts that have been made by the present Commissioner and Sir Malcolm Stewart, his predecessor, backed and financed, of course, by the Government, and realised that there was a great deal to be said about the results. As for the hon. Member for East Rhondda, who seconded the Motion, certainly I did not discover in his speech any appreciation at all of the work done by the Commissioners for the Special Areas. Indeed, his 1383 speech mainly consisted of a super-analysis of the figures of unemployment with a view to discovering what has been achieved in the Special Areas, and an abstract and theoretical prophecy that under some system, which he certainly did not describe, and of which we have never yet seen even the rough blueprints, things would be different from the present position.
As I stand here to-day I cast my mind back two-and-a-half years and remember the first Debate which I had to face on the question of the Special Areas, within three weeks of my becoming Minister of Labour. I think that the atmosphere of this House, the tone and burden of the speeches that have been delivered, together with the report of the Special Commissioner, and more than that, the critical articles which have been written by able men who concerned themselves long years ago with the Special Areas, are all proof that the House as a whole and hon. Members opposite, and critical observers outside, agree with the Commissioner upon one thing, that we are in the happy position, taking a broad, general view, of being able to report a great improvement, not merely in the last two-and-a-half years, but especially in the last year. It would be quite untrue to present the Commissioner's report as if he were merely trying to make out a case for the Government of the day. One of the risks which the Government had to take in undertaking this great experiment was the frank and free expression of opinion by the independent official appointed, and no fairminded Member of this House who has read any of the successive reports of Sir Malcolm Stewart and Sir George Gillett can fail to understand that they have approached their problems with a sense of very great gravity, and have made recommendations without either fear or favour as to what the Government might think or not think, or as to what the political effects might be.
The fact is that the Special Areas Acts have proved that they were conceived wisely and were well founded, and the Special Commissioner himself points out that what is now needed is not so much a new and intensified experiment, but steady, deliberate, and energetic work to make the plan which they have put into operation bear full fruit in these areas. It is very significant that, whereas up to 1384 three years ago it was justifiable, so says one of the ablest commentators on this subject,to beg the country for concentrated effort all along the line, the need being so great and so wide that the risk of misdirection of effort was small in comparison, now and henceforth the task is to spread the recognition that the gloomy mentality of universal depression must be abandoned and that many of the needs are being met, that many of the problems are being overcome and that many of the places indeed are returning more or less to normal conditions.That is from an article written by that very able correspondent of the "Times" who, years before the official paper of the Opposition began to move in this matter, called the attention of the country to what was happening as long ago as 1928 in some of these areas. The broad general situation which we have to review to-day, and in face of which the Motion of Censure is moved, is that the problem is now much narrower in scope than it was in 1934. That is not to say that much more does not remain to be done. The areas now have within them three types of communities. There are in the Special Areas communities which have attained a higher level of prosperity. There are some townships in Special Areas whose unemployment figures are lower than the average unemployment figures of the country. [An HON. MEMBER: "Where?"] Consett in Durham and Stanley in Durham. The hon. Member challenges the statement which I make, and directly I have given him a correct answer from memory, he shifts his ground. I might tell him, and I stand by it, that there is no Member who can compare figures of 1932, 1933 and 1934 and to-day and deny that the Consett area is a prosperous area.
§ Mr. Brown
I have listened to previous speeches, and there is plenty of time for the hon. Member to speak before n o'clock. I shall be misleading the House if I suggest that that was a broad general statement that could be applied to all areas. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) knows me well enough to know that I would not mislead the House on this issue or indeed on any other issue. But the fact remains that there is quite a number of areas now and townships in the Special Areas which are rejoicing in a higher level of employment, and where the unemployment figures are below the general average of 1385 the unemployment figures of the country. [An HON. MEMBER: "Some are higher."] If the hon. Member will allow me to make my speech in my own way, I will try to give all the facts. The second type of community is the township where there has been a steady improvement in employment and not merely a lowering of the unemployment figures. The hon. Member for East Rhondda, in his analysis of the unemployment figures, has missed one thing. The real trend in any particular district must be taken in terms not merely of those unemployed but of those employed, derived from the figures of the insured population—
§ Mr. Brown
—the records of which are given to us by the annual exchange of unemployment books. I would point out to the House that there is a large number of townships which, while it would be untrue to say that they approach the general national average, do show a steady and real improvement, not merely in a lowered rate of unemployment, but in an increase of employment within those townships. There is the third type, happily a declining group, and one much smaller than it has been at any time in the last four or five years, namely, the group of townships which show little or no improvement in these areas. That is the broad general picture, but if we are to see that general picture, we must see it not merely in terms of the figures which are given with regard to unemployment, but we must look further than that.
We may sum up the employment issue in this way. First of all, let us take the unemployment figures. In November, 1934, the live register in the Special Areas was 441,926, and at the 18th October this year the total live register was 265,952, so that we have now 175,974 fewer on the live register than three years before, 157,177 fewer than two years before, and 86,027 fewer than the year before. I take the present year's figure and analyse it with regard to areas, and the reduction, as compared with a year ago, in West Cumberland is 3,324, and in Durham and Tyneside 30,442. And I would add that contrary to popular impression the general improvement for Durham has been slightly more than that for Tyneside, and it is not the case that Tyneside has improved more than Durham, as I have found popularly supposed. In South Wales the figure is 1386 42,552, and in Scotland 9,709. [Interruption.] There is an interjection, and it is the usual one. In the examination of the insurance position with regard to the exchange of books, we say that that is not so. The best estimate that I am able to make, based on the year's exchange of books this July, just available, is that there is an increase in the numbers in work in all the Special Areas of at least 100,000 since July, 1936. I will give an additional figure to try and help the hon. Member for East Rhondda with regard to Wales. The estimated number of insured persons aged 16 to 64 in employment in Wales in 1936 was 425,000 and in 1937 484,000 showing an increase in the number of insured persons between 16 and 64 in employment from June, 1936, to June, 1937, of 59,000, and these figures do not include agriculture.
I do not want for one moment to belittle the effect of transference in certain townships, but I should be surprised if it is found to be a record this year, official or unofficial. There has not merely been a trek out of the Special Areas, but, because there has been an improvement in some of the Special Areas, there is a trek back by some of the people who came out of those areas. Last night I presided at a concert given in London by boys and girls from the Special Areas, a programme arranged by themselves. What are the facts? They are that there were fewer this year who went through the hostels in which after-care is given than went through the year before, because some of the boys and girls have been going back, and there have been fewer coming forward.
It has always been the policy of the Employment Exchanges in finding work to do one of three things; find a job in the area, if the job is there; find a job near the area if there is not one in the home township; and only if there is no job available to seek an opportunity for young people, and indeed for others, to find that happy thing, healthy work, elsewhere. The transference policy is not pursued for the sake of transference, but because it is a great contribution to human well-being. The figures that I have given about the insured population will show to the hon. Member for East Rhondda that he will need to go a good deal further with his analysis before he can destroy the solid basis of improvement that is recorded in this report.
1387 The second thing that I want to say is that the first part of this Motion makes it clear that the Opposition themselves are well aware that the efforts of the Commissioner are bearing fruit. I welcome the appreciation expressed in the Motion, and I will say something before I sit down about its reaction upon the Motion of Censure. I welcome it because I think the whole House would like to pay a tribute to the two successive Commissioners for England and Wales—my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland will no doubt say the same thing about the Commissioners for Scotland—which is that they have performed and are performing unique, difficult, and arduous services with conspicuous ability and public spirit. The results have been shown not merely in the facts recorded in the Employment Exchanges, in terms of employment and of unemployment, but in the atmosphere of hope that is in these areas, or in nearly all of them, and which has been reflected in this House and in the Motion on the Paper.
Let us look for a minute or two at some of the varied and interesting work which this most able report of the Commissioner makes available to the House. The trouble in trying to convey these facts is that the subject is so wide that no man could do it except in a speech of inordinate length. I will content myself by putting certain facts before the House in as succinct a form as I can, so that the details may be brought out and made available. First of all, the late Commissioner, Sir Malcolm Stewart, came to the conclusion that the main thing that remained to be done in these areas was the provision of facilities and inducements for new industries. Unlike every previous Motion of Censure that has been put forward from those benches in the past, in this Motion there is no attack upon any particular practical plan that has been, and is being, carried out by the Commissioner and by the Government through him. Secondly, so far from suggesting any clearly defined line of policy for the betterment of those areas, the Motion of Censure is, in the conception at its end. abstract in the extreme and vague both in form and in content.
What has been done about new industries is in itself a very interesting story, especially about the provision of 1388 facilities and inducements for new industries. I might go further and say that one or two of them are likely to be regarded as great romances in the years to come. I could wish that some hon. Members opposite, in their endeavour to belittle the efforts of the Government and of those who are working for the Government, would not try to paint the colours so dark, because, as a matter of fact, a great many of the efforts that are being made tend to be nullified, as has been pointed out by more than one observer, by the very atmosphere of depression that emanates from their speeches. Let us remember, when we are talking about the Team Valley and Treforest—and the Secretary of State for Scotland will talk about Hillington—that 18 months ago we were talking of virgin land on which no work had been done. Now we are facing achievements which no Member opposite who knows the areas and has been to those spots will be inclined to belittle.
Take Team Valley. Eighteen months ago it was a site; to-day it has been laid out and is much more than a site. It is a site which is being equipped rapidly with every modern facility that industry could desire to have. All who have watched this rapid growth carried out with such great skill have been impressed. Hon. Members opposite talk about planning; this is planning, not theoretical planning, but real planning, with a view to achieving practical ends.
§ Mr. Whiteley
Our point is: Make that a success, but in doing so, do not leave the other places so long neglected that it will be impossible to do anything with them.
§ Mr. Brown
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me, when, in a moment, I shall have completed this part of my speech, to prove that that is precisely the policy that is being pursued. Take Team Valley; there are roads, railways, trading facilities, and factories. It is as great a 1389 marvel in construction as it has been fine in conception. The latest report is that there are 23 factories built and occupied, 25 ordered or in construction. Since it was virgin soil in September, 1936, no one can deny that great energy has been used in furthering this great conception.
§ Mr. Brown
At the moment there are 1,255 employed in development and construction and 725 employed in the factories in the Team Valley Estate. [Interruption.] Hon. Members are never satisfied, but they will be happier a year from now. If they put down a Motion of Censure and talk as they have been talking this year, they will find that there will be more factories occupied and more persons employed. I warn them that their expressions of opinion about trading estates are not wise, from their own point of view. After all, the trading estate at Team Valley is doing something that badly wanted doing in the North of England, which has rather tended to underestimate the value of light industries in the last half-century. The chief value of this great project is not merely for the citizens of Newcastle-on-Tyne, Chester-le-Street, and Gateshead; it is an object lesson that, given facilities and properly constructed and well-equipped factories, those who are responsible for new industries can be attracted.
The most remarkable fact brought out in the report of the Commissioner is that, while he was entitled, under the unique powers given in the Act passed this year, to offer help by providing capital and factories and making financial contributions, at the Team Valley he has, up to the moment, only in one case had to make a financial contribution. That is a remarkable fact for Durham to appreciate. In answer to an hon. Member for South-West Durham, I said that we were doing precisely what he asked for. He asked what we were doing.
§ Mr. Brown
The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) is not so vocal as he used to be. The people of Spennymoor do not worry as much as they used. The last percentage figure that I saw was 18, and we will do better than that, if he will be patient and will give us a 1390 little assistance. Let us take Durham. It is true that in South-West Durham an association has been set up and provided with funds. For what purpose? So that they may select likely places for industries to come to, and prepare them and make ready.
§ Mr. Brown
I have a very clear recollection of a great peroration made by the hon. Member asking us to acquire sites, but that was in 1934 or 1935. The fact that the Commissioner has only in one case had to make a financial contribution in the Team Valley means that he has the maximum reserve in terms of facilities to give any particular industry which he may think is the right kind of industry to come to South-West Durham and occupy a site when cleared. It is a very important point, as the House will appreciate—whether hon. Members opposite appreciate it or not—that the provision of this trading estate on Tyneside is itself a magnet to which, I have no doubt, in the years to come, just as at Slough and elswhere, industries will be attracted, because there are properly conceived, planned, and executed facilities, in terms of factories, and everything that industry wants. So here, the same effects will follow.
Take Treforest. The latest report is that three factories have been built and occupied, 13 ordered or in construction, and 736 people employed in development and construction, and, in the three factories which are occupied, 64 persons are now employed. As to Hillington, the Secretary of State for Scotland will no doubt deal in his speech with the progress that has been made there. [Interruption.] I should have thought that the fact that factories are there would have been welcomed, and that the only comment would be a desire to see more rapid movement and a growing employment roll. I have no doubt that the hon. Member for East Rhondda takes a deep and personal interest in this matter, because when 340 acres are occupied with fully equipped factories, there will be opportunities for some of those unemployed in his area, at the lower end of the Rhondda, to find work which has not been previously available in that area.
They present many advantages. They broaden the basis of the industrial structure of the districts in which they are set 1391 up; they provide new types of work; they give variety of employment; they provide wage-earning opportunities for women as well as men; they add to the wealth-producing powers of the areas undertakings which send their products to other markets than these older industries, and so make new contacts. They afford the best possible insurance against such an industrial decline as that which caused to-day's trouble; they prevent areas from being looked upon as places where industry has ceased to live; they bring new hope to the homes of men and women whose outstanding need is this very healing power of work.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies
Before the right hon. Gentleman passes from the question of trading estates, can he tell the House something about the possibility of the establishment of a site company in Lancashire?
§ Mr. Stephen
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it necessary also to give some details with regard to Hillington?
§ Mr. Brown
Perhaps that question might be asked in the course of the Debate, so that details may be given by the Secretary of State for Scotland. I am not responsible for the Special Areas Commissioner in Scotland. My right hon. Friend will reply to the Debate, and he will be the proper person to whom to address questions about the Scottish Special Areas.
With regard to West Cumberland, a development company has recently been formed, financed by the Special Commissioner, and has already contracted for a factory at Millom. The position there is not quite the same as in the case of the trading estates, but certain sites are under consideration there, and, of course, the development company will go ahead, financed, as I have said, by the Commissioner. The point put by the hon. 1392 Member for Blaydon has not been overlooked by the Commissioner, for, quite apart from the trading estates, industrial sites are being acquired and prepared at Llantarnam, Dowlais, Cwmbran and Merthyr, while at Sunderland, on Wear-side, the Commissioner has acquired 17 acres at Pallion, which will be laid out by the North Eastern Estate Development Company and prepared for factories so equipped that industries may be attracted to Wearside as well as to Tyneside.
It is impossible, in the course of one speech, to give anything like a bird's-eye view of the whole of the work which the Commissioner's Office is carrying out on behalf of the Government. Perhaps I can best summarise it by dealing with the question of finance and stating his commitments in regard to expenditure at the moment. I well remember, in the first two Debates in which I had to take part on this issue, being taunted by hon. Members opposite about the meagreness of the sums available. The figure of £1,000,000 was quoted, but it was explained to the House that that was only a token figure, and that there was no limit. The speeches, however, persisted. The House will have noticed that there has been no return to that charge to-day, and for this reason. The commitments of the Special Commissioner for industry and industrial development amount at the moment to £3,781,000; for health to £4,323,000; for housing to £642,000; for land settlement and agriculture to £3,251,000; for local amenities under voluntary schemes, £54,000; for other measures of social improvement, £745,000; for subsistence production schemes for elderly men, £87,000; and for other activities, £17,000. The total of his commitments up to the end of October is nearly £13,000,000, of which £4,000,000 has been expended.
I have pointed out to the House that there are variations in inducements. With regard to the demand of the hon. Member for Blaydon for increased centralisation of administration, the House will recall that we have a number of methods for assisting new enterprises. There is the Special Areas Reconstruction Association, popularly known as S.A.R.A.; there is the voluntary Nuffield Trust; there are Treasury loans available under the Act of last year. What is wanted is not greater centralisation. All the efforts of the Government have been directed, first 1393 to close co-operation among those responsible for these developments of financial operations; and, secondly, to the short-circuiting of excessive control at the centre. We have succeeded in doing that in two ways. In the first place, the bodies concerned have members who are members of all three. There is the closest co-operation, and on our part we have set up an inter-departmental committee which meets regularly in order to see that decisions which it is desirable should be made quickly are not held up Mr. John Benn, in a letter to the "Times" yesterday, referred to this particular point, and I venture to give his own comments upon it. He writes:It is proposed that a centre for the control 'of the various agencies concerned with the areas should be established. One of the drawbacks of central government activity is that, being concerned with public policy on a large scale, every step must be guided by precedent and related to possible reactions over the whole field. Hence speedy decisions are seldom possible. The various agencies set up for the Special Areas have so far escaped this handicap. Having had negotiations with the Commissioner's Office, the Trading Estates, and one of the Development Boards, as well as with the Nuffield Trustees, I can assure Labour critics that all these agencies are working with a common policy. The present consultations between them appear to be adequate, and any rigid control' might hamper the freedom of each to experiment, which is a valuable feature of the existing arrangements.The people who live in or near Crook in South-West Durham are very well aware of the necessity of these activities in their area, and of the results that are beginning to accrue from these efforts of private enterprise. Here is one industrialist who has persuaded many others to go to a distressed area, and his own testimony is that these efforts are working out satisfactorily. The Special Areas Reconstruction Association has agreed in principle to 105 loans to the amount of £548,650, and the capital to be provided from other sources in connection with these loans is £940,240, or a total of £1,488,890. With regard to Treasury loans under the Special Areas (Amendment) Act, 1937, the chairman of the Advisory Committee is Lord Portal, who is doing magnificent service in this matter. In seven months the Treasury has agreed in principle to advance £732,500 to 11 undertakings which have a total capital of £2,455,000. I have no responsibility for the operations of the Nuffield Trust, but will give to the House the latest facts as they have 1394 been given by Lord Portal about its operations. He says:Of the total number of loans to industries that have been agreed in principle up to date, the Nuffield Trust has helped 57 of the larger type of industries. This variety of financial help has been found of the utmost assistance, and I have no doubt whatever that, without each one of the varying types of financial help, we should not have achieved what we have now—a growing movement of new industries to these special and distressed areas.The House has often been told about the number of Government factories, and I will not repeat what has been said about them, but hon. Members will like to know how the regulation with regard to preference being given to Special and distressed Areas, all other things being equal, with respect to Government contracts, is working. During the last year or more, from 1st April, 1936, to the end of October, 1937, in the Special and distressed Areas contracts have been placed amounting to £83,718,200, of which almost £50,000,000 is in the areas which are Special Areas.
I have been asked about other areas outside the Special Areas. The House knows that there was a Section in the Act which provided that on local initiative site companies might be set up to attract industries to areas which were not within the Special Areas Act and special arrangements were made for them. The facts about Lancashire, asked for by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), are as follows: All the preliminary arrangements for the formation of the Lancashire Industrial Sites Company, Limited, have now been made and the formal registration of the company will be completed immediately. The company will have power, in its memorandum of association, to provide sites for factories in any area in Lancashire or in the adjacent parts of neighbouring counties to which Section 5 of the Act may be applied. No representations on behalf of areas have yet been received, but it is understood that the Lancashire Development Council, under whose aegis the site company has been founded, have the matter under active consideration, and that a meeting of their constituents will be held early in January, 1938, to decide with respect to which areas representations will be made. Local authorities are members of the Development Council, 1395 and it is understood that they will be invited to make the actual representations, so that we may look for an application to the Advisory Committee from Lancashire at no distant date. I understand also that discussions are proceeding which may lead to the formation of a site company which may operate in any area in Wales to which Section 5 of the Act applies.
It is very interesting to see the types of towns that have shown interest in this section of the Act. In Wales, for instance, such places include Anglesey, Holyhead, Flint, Wrexham, Pembroke, Montgomeryshire, East Carmarthen, Neath, and Cardiff; while in England interest has been shown in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in the Forest of Dean, and in North Staffordshire. At the moment we are awaiting the results of local discussions and we shal look forward with great interest to see whether the formation of a site company in Lancashire will prove an incentive, to those who are discussing individual initiation in other areas, to carry out similar work which will enable those hard-hit areas outside the Special Areas to take advantage of the Act.
I have left myself no time to talk about land settlement, afforestation, and the other most impressive facts brought out in the Commissioner's report, but I would like to say a word about the Motion itself. The Motion reveals, first of all, an agreement that there is a remarkable improvement and an undeniable advance. The Motion shows approval of the Commissioner's efforts. Approval is given because of the advance that has been made. The Motion reveals an absence of any new or original idea of a practical nature. Anybody who reads the particular Labour documents produced on this problem will agree, I think, that they have only succeeded in getting together a number of ideas that somebody else had thought of. In my judgment, this Motion is a pretence, because it seems to advocate some magical Socialist plan which would quickly deal with the results of new forces and modern changes in contracting industries. No one who has followed the fortunes of the coal or the cotton trade in Great Britain would believe anyone who said he knew of any abstract panacea for the problems which result from the contraction of those great industries.
1396 Under Socialism, is industry to remain a static thing, at political command, and is all adaptation to be resisted? The tone of speeches outside this House by Members of the Opposition would lead one to believe that, in some strange way, no man would ever find himself unemployed under a Socialist system of organisation, and, at the same time, they seem, while always professing to be forward-looking, resisting the results of science, manufacture and new discovery. We look at industry from a practical point of view. We have been justified in the last few years in the unique experiment made by the Government in passing the Act of 1934, which appointed the Commissioner and I do not understand the logic whereby hon. Members put down a Motion praising the Commissioner and censuring the Government which appointed him, gave him power, provided him with facilities, and financed the efforts to which hon. Members pay their tribute to-day. I have no doubt that this Motion reflects the satisfaction in the hearts of hon. Members opposite at the good work that the Government have done, and I have no doubt that they will say in their hearts to us, as the House will say to us, "Go on doing that good and energetic work that you have done for the last 12 months"
§ 5.48 p.m.
Major Lloyd George
Before the right hon. Gentleman addressed the House, it was my intention to vote for the Motion. After he has addressed the House, it is still my intention to vote for the Motion. The right hon. Gentleman has given us his interpretation of what the Motion is. As I understand it, it is a condemnation of the Government, because of their failure to appreciate the real nature of this problem. I should have thought it would have been obvious from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman that the Government still do not understand the nature of the problem. The Prime Minister certainly does not. The right hon. Gentleman said what an absurd thing it was to condemn the Government but at the same time to praise the Commissioner. I see nothing illogical in that. I see nothing to complain of in anything that has been done by any of the Commissioners, whom I have had to approach on various occasions. The Commissioners are doing only what they can. 1397 Their powers are extremely limited, and no body of Commissioners, with the powers and resources which they have behind them, could possibly tackle the question that we have in the depressed areas. The right hon. Gentleman knows that very well.
Neither by act nor by speech, certainly not by the speech to which we have just listened, have the Government shown that they appreciate the problem they have to tackle. I remember the Prime Minister, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking on the first Special Areas Bill that we had to bring in. He said that he regretted that the Special Areas had not partaken of the improvement which was general throughout the country. I do not see why they should have been expected to. It shows, to me at any rate, that the real nature of the problem has not been appreciated. The Bill which was then brought in was to deal with those areas alone, whereas those areas did not contain the whole problem. The only purpose, as far as I can see, of this Measure was to take away some of the more painful symptoms. There is no suggestion that this, or any other Measure, is going to take away the real causes. I opposed that Bill, as other Members did, because we felt that it was trifling with one of the most serious problems with which this country has ever been faced.
The fundamental causes of the fact that we have got depressed areas are well known to the Government. They were well known to the Government in 1931, and they are to-day; and those fundamental causes remain, whatever measures of this character are passed by the Government. The fundamental cause of the fact that we have depressed areas in this country is the loss of our export trade. Everybody knows that. The Government knew it. I remember the Prime Minister, when the original Tariff Bill was brought in, standing up here and giving us the reasons why the first National Government was formed. I do not know whether he felt called upon to give an explanation, but he did give the reason. He said, among other things, that our position was due, not to increased imports, but to loss of exports. The purpose of the Government, he said, was to secure a favourable balance of trade. Then he went on to make what seemed to me the delightful remark, that 1398 we wanted expanding exports and contracting imports. They acted on that.
The results of trying to obtain expanding exports by contracting imports are available in the trade returns of this year. We find that in the first 11 months of 1931 our imports were £785,000,000 and in the first 11 months of this year £935,000,000, and that exports have recovered very much more slowly than imports. As to the balance of trade, which the Government were returned, apparently, to put right, this country has the worst adverse balance that it has seen since the War, with the exception of 1926, which was the year of the great coal strike. This is the highest adverse visible balance we have seen since the War. What are the Government going to do about that? This is the result of the effort to contract imports and expand exports. Since 1933, there has been a general improvement in which this country has shared. Unemployment has decreased in the country, but the Special Areas still remain the centre of very heavy unemployment. It is not surprising, in view of the fact that, as everybody knows, the reason that we have depressed areas is loss of exports. The figures show that recovery of exports is nothing like so much as the increase of imports, despite the fact that the Government took measures to stop imports.
There has been recently a much greater improvement in the Special Areas. To what is that due? Has there been any sudden increase in our export trade which makes us think that those depressed areas are recovering in the only natural way in which they can recover? I do not think the trade figures indicate that there has been any such improvement. I said before in this House, and I repeat it here, that a very large part of the improvement in the Special Areas is due to the rearmament programme; and it is a far greater part than many hon. Gentlemen think, if we take the improvement both directly and indirectly. If we take coal, which would not be recorded as being for rearmament purposes, we all know that in South Wales they are selling coal to people to whom they have never sold it before. There is not a shadow of doubt that far and away the greatest influence in this boom has been the rearmament programme. The right hon. Gentleman denied it before, but it cannot be a coincidence that, at the same time as he 1399 admits that large orders were given for this purpose to the Special Areas the biggest decline in unemployment took place.
I remember that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, when I put this to him before, said that it was absurd to suggest that the sum spent in the depressed areas on rearmament orders could have been responsible for more than a small proportion of the decrease in unemployment. That may be the case for the country as a whole, but not in regard to the Special Areas. There was an expenditure in this direction of £52,000,000 last year in the Special Areas alone, and this year, I believe, the expenditure is at the rate of £58,000,000. There has been an improvement of 178,000 in the unemployment figures since that expenditure started. What is the estimate of the number employed permanently per million pounds spent in this country to-day? It used to be 4,000, directly and indirectly, but on armaments you cannot put it so high. Let us assume that it is half that figure. You spent £52,000,000 last year, and that means over 100,000 persons employed.
The right hon. Gentleman the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence made a speech the other day, which I confess I found it extremely difficult to understand. I wish he were here now, so that I could ask him to explain what he meant. He told us that £278,000,000 was spent in 1937, which was an increase of £165,000,000 over the highest year since the War. Next year, I understand, we are going to spend between £320,000,000 and £340,000,000, and apparently there is still more to come. The Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence went on to say that when he surveyed the list of undertakings, many of which were still in course of erection, for increasing the rearmament programme, he would have to multiply by three or four times the number of men and women employed to reach the full capacity of the programme. I would like to know what on earth that means. What is going to be multiplied, the number of people taken from the Special Areas or the numbers of unemployed? Where are they coming from? Are they coming from the people engaged in legitimate industry at the present time or from the ranks of the unemployed, and, if so, how many skilled men are 1400 there in those particular ranks? There are many things about this matter which I do not understand. We have had this Measure for over three years, and we have had an enormous expenditure on rearmament.
The Special Area that I represent was built for no other purpose than armaments and is the one place in this country whose unemployment is practically the same as when rearmament was started. Factories have been put up in parts of the country which have no connection whatever with armaments, and yet one would have thought that when there is a programme it would be better to send it to places which have been concerned with nothing else. That is one of the things that I find difficult to understand. Can anybody on that side of the House suggest that the problem of the Special Areas will be anywhere near solution at the end of the rearmament programme? After all, the greatest rearmament programme which this country carried out was in the last War. We had no unemployment and we had no Special Areas during the War, yet our Special Areas are largely due to the War.
There is no doubt whatever that the War hit our export trade to such an extent that our former customers in days gone by were compelled to look after themselves, and when the War finished and we could supply them again, they had to protect their own industries. That is one of the results of the War. Although we had no unemployment or Special Areas then, no one could say that was due to abundant prosperity in this country. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that at the end of this rearmament programme the Special Areas will be in any better position than they are to-day or before the rearmament programme started? In the fierce competition with which we are faced to-day it is no assistance to trade when other manufacturers are able to supply articles at their door steps without competition at all. An enormous amount of skilled labour is engaged in making goods, not for the benefit or profit of this country, but in a wasting asset like armaments.
I am afraid that after this armaments programme is finished we shall be faced with not only a Special Area but an intensified Special Area. There is no real attempt being made by the Government 1401 since they came into office to get to the bottom of the problem of depressed areas. Every speech and every Measure show that they had never appreciated it before Mr. McKenna the other day made a speech in which he said that of the production capacity of this country 35 per cent. was for foreign consumption, and that had now dropped to 15 per cent., and the home market had made up the difference. If the making up of the difference by building armaments at the rate of £300,000,000 a year is a good way of encouraging prosperity, I have yet to learn a lot. In so doing you may be making up for a loss in foreign trade, but it is an expensive way of doing it.
With regard to the instability of the present system, can anybody in any quarter of the House deny that the economic system in this country is unstable at the present time, with 5 per cent. of the people on the soil and 95 per cent. not on the soil? This matter has been referred to many times as an inverted pyramid. No one can deny that a pyramid of that sort is unstable. The point to remember is that in a country like ours, which is so dependent upon international trade, you get prolonged unemployment for many months, as you have in the Special Areas to-day. One of the important duties of the Government is to do everything they can to broaden the base of that pyramid in order to secure greater stability. The fundamental causes of the depression in the depressed areas remain to-day as much as ever they did.
I remember being told in the first report that even if we returned to conditions as they were in 1929, there would still be 120,000 people surplus in the labour market in Wales alone. There were 1,150,000 unemployed in the last quarter, and to-day it is 1,500,000. Those are questions which should be tackled, and the Government have not tackled them; the problems have to be faced sooner or later. It is only by vigorous pursuit of a policy to secure freer trade throughout the world that we can make the greatest step forward to restore prosperity in the depressed areas, and by a really energetic effort to find profitable employment for those people who have been so long out of employment. Nothing which I have heard from the Government benches has indicated that the Government realise that that is 1402 a problem which they have to face; I have not the slightest hesitation in supporting this Motion
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Austin Hopkinson
I must admit that I was rather surprised by the speech to which we have just listened. I never thought that I should hear one who represents the point of view of the Free Trader talking as he has done with regard to the dangers of adverse balances. I think the hon. Member was deprecating the fact that the adverse balances had gone up all round.
Major Lloyd George
I was pointing out that the Government and the Prime Minister were supposed to put the matter right, and that, in fact, the matter was worse than it was before.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I think it is a horrible thing for a Free Trader to suggest that a so-called adverse balance is undesirable.
Major Lloyd George
The hon. Gentleman has no right to go on with his statement. The Prime Minister was supposed to put the matter right, and the thing which I had regarded as a fallacy had failed.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
The hon. Member informed us that he was going to vote in favour of changing our present system of organisation. I do not think he can contradict it. It certainly seems to me to be rather an inconsistent point of view to be adopted by a party which, through all its history, has been strongly opposed to State Socialism.
I would like to call the attention of the House in the first instance to the tone of this Debate. This Debate is one of a long series over a long period of years, and the thing that most of us will notice more than anything else is the changed manner in which these Debates are being carried on. I remember those days, going back to 1926 and before, when any discussion on a subject of this sort meant, on the one side, many cruel words, and from the other side much noise and sometimes bitter resentment. Those days, thank goodness, are past. It seems to me that when we can conduct a Debate on a subject such as this in such an atmosphere as that prevailing now, we may agree that one who led this House for many years, and who has recently gone from us, had succeeded in one at least of 1403 the main objects to which he devoted himself.
My intention in putting the Amendment on the Paper was merely to help hon. Members opposite to keep to the most interesting point in the Motion—whether an alteration in our organisation of industry would solve the problem of the depressed areas in a way better than that adopted by the existing Government of the country. I hope hon. Members opposite will not for a moment think I am endeavouring to prove in any way that the policy of the Government is a very wise one which is going to meet with a very great deal of success. All will admit that the policy of the Government will not solve the problem, that it is admittedly no more than a mitigation of the hardship and that the Government are just as aware any one one else that they can merely lessen the problem, but they cannot solve it entirely.
I should like to take South Wales by way of example, since the problems of South West Durham, Cumberland, and Scotland are not nearly so acute as the problem of the coalfields in South Wales. In the other districts we can see daylight. There is nothing in the geographical situation and in the habits and the character of the people in those districts which distinguishes them from the rest of the industrial population so widely as the geographical position of South Wales distinguishes it from other parts of the country. Therefore, I propose to confine my remarks to the problems of the coal valleys of South Wales. Hon. Members who are not so familiar with that part of the country as I am would do well when considering these matters to study the geographical conditions first. The whole of the South Wales coal area is a gridiron, a series of deep, narrow valleys running north and south through mountains of very considerable height, with cross valleys midway down, and then a more level area on the top of the valleys. You have a series of valleys starting on the east with Blaenavon, and then come Abertillery, Ebbw Vale, Tredegar, Rhymney, Aberdare, Senghenydd, the Rhondda Fach and the Rhondda Fawr. These valleys are very deep and narrow, and that is really the fundamental difficulty in dealing with the problem of the depressed area of South Wales.
1404 I flew over these valleys some time ago and I never fully appreciated until I saw them from the air how extremely difficult is the geographical problem of South Wales. Each of these valleys is narrow and long. There is room usually for two lines of railways, a road and two rows of houses, and then, if the valley expands a little, there is just room to put up the buildings of the collieries. So narrow are they that the waste from the pits has to be taken right up to the top of the mountains on each side of the valley, because there is no room for it in the valley. How are we going to establish any known form of industry in these valleys, apart from the coal industry itself? Before coal was mined there was practically no population at all in these Welsh valleys. They are not suitable for cultivation and the hills are practically barren moorland. With the exception of one or two market towns which have been used from time immemorial, there were practically no inhabitants whatever in these barren valleys at a period almost within living memory.
It was known at a comparatively early date that immense deposits of coal lay under the soil, but it was only with the development of the steam-engine and steam-boiler for navigation purposes that anybody thought it was worth while mining in this area for coal. South Wales steam coal has one remarkable property. If you put it in an ordinary domestic grate it puts the fire out; it is coal that you cannot burn in an open fireplace, and, therefore, for a long time it was regarded as being of no value at all. But the development and improvement of the steam-engine and the steam-boiler for navigation purposes made it worth while to open up the South Wales coal area, and the whole prosperity of the South Wales coal industry—I am sure hon. Members from South Wales will bear me out in this—has been due to the fact that a higher price could be obtained for the best South Wales steam coal than for steam coal produced anywhere else in the world. What are the conditions now? Even within the last few months the conditions have been such that the price of "Admiralty large" coal in South Wales—the best quality steam coal in the world—was actually lower than the price of steam coal produced in the North of England. That is a most unprecedented state of affairs, and naturally 1405 disastrous to those whose prosperity depends on the South Wales coalfield.
But it is the geographical position of South Wales which is probably the main cause of the depression in South Wales, and is the chief difficulty in any endeavour to restore a form of prosperity by the introduction of other industries. Hon. Members in all parts of the House, in an endeavour to find a remedy for the problem, have suggested from time to time that new methods of utilising the coal on the spot might bring a certain measure of relief, but they have confined their attention to the possible distillation of coal by new methods, or of hydrogenation, so as to produce, as the main product, oils of various sorts, and particularly oils suitable for the internal-combustion engine. I think that the South Wales valleys are not very suitable for that form of relieving the economic tension which exists there, and that probably there is much greater hope for a revival of the South Wales coal trade in the upper parts of these valleys from methods other than title distillation of coal.
It seems to me that we have neglected research and experiment in a very promising direction, that our efforts have been diverted, to my mind wrongly, in the direction of distillation before we have investigated fully the possibility of pulverised fuel. Let me put it as simply as possible—this is rather a technical subject. I think there should be a partial distillation of the raw coal as it is taken from the mines and a distillation of a certain proportion of volatile hydrocarbons, which could be extracted without the expenditure which is necessary if you are going to produce the lighter oils for the internal combustion engine. Then there is the residuum, which would be to all intents and purposes pure carbon which could be pulverised on the pit bank. Then the question of the transport of the fuel must be tackled. To my mind there is no scientific or technical impossibility in using a pipe line to pipe pulverised fuel over long distances, just as oil fuel is pumped over gigantic distances in the new world and in the old world. It is simply a matter of a few scientific and practical brains devoting themselves to finding out what is the best method of transporting pulverised fuel, and we might then see a state of affairs where every one of these silent valleys would be able to work the coal up to the top end of the 1406 valley as economically as they now work coal at the bottom end.
There is no question that these valleys have died out from the top end in nearly every case, and that in nearly every case it has been the transport charges which have made the trade which has remained come down and down the valley ever nearer to the sea. The valleys have been dying out from the top end. I throw out this suggestion to hon. Members opposite, who now are taking a very deep interest in these scientific and technical problems, as being more likely to win back prosperity for their valleys than the suggested distillation of coal.
But the unhappy fact remains that in the meantime it is most unlikely that any considerable amount of new industry can ever be introduced into these valleys. Speaking from memory, I think it is Treforest which represents the "farthest north" for industry, since beyond that point there is practically no open ground and you have that portion of the country which is in no way suitable for factories or mills of any kind. You get places where there is not enough level ground, for hundreds of square miles. There is to my mind a tendency perhaps to exaggerate the material troubles of the inhabitants of these areas and neglect the moral troubles of the same unfortunate people.
Hon. Members opposite may not believe me, but I have been at times in my life short of food, and, judging by my personal experience, it is far less damaging to a man to go for a considerable period short of food than it is to go for a similar period short of work. In other words, we ought to concern ourselves far more with the moral and intellectual deterioration which may follow, and perhaps not pay so much attention to their physical condition or their material prosperity. Those who are familiar with the families and inhabitants of these valleys will have remarked on the fact that there has been a most extraordinary adjustment on their part to the most appalling conditions. It has always been a matter of surprise to me to see the countenances of the people in Brynymaewr, Tredegar and Dowlais. The great asset of the human race has been its power of adaptation to terrible conditions. In fact, that is the only reason why the human race has survived to the 1407 present time. I have seen the men and women in these valleys, and I defy anyone to say that they look desperate and dangerous, people who might raise a bloody revolution at any moment. They look unhappy, but they do not look as unhappy as one might have expected, knowing the conditions under which they live.
What, to my mind, is the serious thing is that we are getting in these valleys a large number of men and women who have given up hope. To overcome a moral and intellectual difficulty of that sort, the Government, as a government, is practically powerless. It can only be overcome by real sympathy and help, and the presence on the spot of men and women from other parts of the country. Those noble men and women who have for so long been doing their best, sometimes not wisely and sometimes mistakenly, to let the inhabitants of these devastated areas understand that they regard them as flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone—these people, I think, are perhaps doing more than any government, with the best will in the world, can ever do to mitigate the worst conditions in these areas. I feel myself that duty, and I dare say other hon. Members feel the same, but we find that our time is occupied with other things. Yet I never pass through these valleys without feeling ashamed of myself that I am not living among these people and contributing as far as is possible to mitigate their troubles.
Let me now come to a more controversial side of the question, but one which, I think, should be considered. I look at the form of the Motion of Censure, and in the first place it is pleasing to see the generous appreciation which the first part of the Motion gives to the efforts of Sir George Gillett and those who work with him. It is extremely pleasant to see an official Opposition showing a generous spirit of that sort. But I am not quite so pleased with the remainder of their Motion. To my mind, one of the causes of the present condition in the depressed areas is the very system which they put forward as the one most likely to prevent the trouble in the future. It is a common thing for those in a position similar to myself to put down all the troubles in the South Wales coafield to the fact that 1408 there have been labour disputes of considerable extent in the past in that coalfield. I have heard it said again and again, and possibly it will be said in the Debate to-night, that the troubles are due to the coal stoppage in 1926, which ruined the export trade, and that therefore these unfortunate people brought these troubles on themselves, and must stew in their own juice. Undoubtedly the industrial troubles in the South Wales coalfields have contributed in some degree to the present position, but the exaggeration to which I have referred is altogether absurd and unbalanced.
The main causes of the depression in South Wales are two. First—and quite unavoidable—the discovery of the internal combustion engine, and the discovery that not only could oil be used in the internal combustion engine, but that for navigational purposes it was immensely more convenient than coal for burning under the boilers. That discovery undoubtedly meant that the great prosperity of former times in the South Wales coalfield would never again be enjoyed. But I think the more important cause was that very system of Socialism which hon. Members opposite are now advocating. After all, when a country is engaged in war for its life, as we were during the Great War, the first thing it does, if it has any sense, is to introduce State Socialism straight away. During a war, a country should be run purely as a Socialist commonwealth, as we ran this country from 1914 to 1918, and incidentally for which we are paying to this very day. A country must introduce State Socialism if it is to fight a war on such a scale, because Socialism is merely the easiest, simplest and most effective device for getting the stored up capital resources of the nation turned into income and pouring it out like water, which is exactly what one wants to do in time of war.
After some years of Socialism in the coal industry when the coal control was finally brought to an end in 1921, the average loss per ton on every ton of coal raised in this country was 3s. 11½d. That affected all districts, but the export districts were particularly hit, for the reason that we had been living under a system of State control and Socialism, as far as the coal industry was concerned, and the one thing which it had been impossible to do was to put up the price of 1409 house coal to an economic level. The Government had to keep the price of house coal low because the people who bought it represented millions of votes. But manufacturing coal was quite another matter, since the employers who bought coal for their works did not represent anything like the number of votes that was represented by the users of household coal. Therefore, we had the extraordinary anomaly that, under that Socialist system, the worst qualities of steam coal were being sold at a very much higher price than the best qualities of house coal.
But that was not the end of the story, as far as the export industry was concerned. In order to meet the gigantic loss that was involved in selling household coal at very much below the cost of production, the industry put up the price of export coal to fantastic levels, so that, I believe, steam coal c.i.f. Genoa for the Italian railways was at one time being sold at £13 a ton. One of the results of that was that the Italian railways were electrified as fast as possible, thus cutting that market off for ever. That is a system which hon. Members opposite want to see reintroduced, a system of State Socialism which destroyed our foreign markets far more than any of their strikes destroyed them. The whole point of my argument is that it is not the wickedness of the South Wales people, who insisted on going on strike because they did not like the conditions which were offered to them, but this system which has been their curse, a system which hon. Members opposite now say they want to reintroduce because it is the only system which can get the industry out of its difficulties.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Maxton
I am glad that the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson) finished on that note. When he was dealing, with expert knowledge, with the special problems of the coal industry, there was not a controversial note in his remarks, and he made a valuable and interesting contribution on something which he knows something about; but when, in conclusion, he described the state of affairs between 1914 and 1918 as being State Socialism, I understood for the first time his tremendous antagonism to Socialism. Evidently he had been under the impression all these years that what happened between 1914 and 1918 was 1410 Socialism, and that being so, I do not blame him for being a very keen anti-Socialist.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
The only difference between Socialism then and Socialism as it is now, is that one had to go abroad to get shot then, whereas under modern Socialism one stays at home and gets shot.
§ Mr. Maxton
The hon. Member went abroad and was not shot. He has remained at home since to pursue his obnoxious political activities, and still remains alive. It may be possible for us to make fundamental changes in the existing economic order and still have the priceless privilege of having the hon. Member in our midst. It is just possible that, as he escaped the great European War and as he has got away with his anti-Socialist propaganda up till now, he may still win through, stay alive, and give us the benefit of his technical knowledge, while keeping very silent about political matters.
In saying that I support the Motion of Censure, I want to make my position plain at the beginning. The Minister of Labour, in opposing the Motion, said that it was a Motion of confidence because in it a polite tribute is paid to the Commissioner for the Special Areas and that therefore, if the Opposition are prepared to pay a tribute to the work of the Special Commissioner, they are also paying a tribute to the work of the Government which appointed the Special Commissioner. If in this House we have got to the stage that one cannot have a little act of courtesy towards men who have entered the public service voluntarily in order to do what they believe to be valuable work, and who give unpaid service in investigating a problem, it will mean that if I say a good word for a postman or a policeman in the course of a speech, I shall thereby be paying a tribute to the Government in power at the time.
I wish to make it clear that I am prepared to say publicly that these men, in undertaking this particular job, have no doubt desired to serve the nation, to do something for the nation, and to do something for its unemployed. To that extent, I am ready to express appreciation of their services. But I think that the job that they have done has been futile. I think that the approach to the problem which was represented 1411 by their appointment was a wrong approach, and that to-day the Opposition are entitled to move a Motion of Censure of the Government. In 1937, after this House has been dealing with this problem for nearly 20 years, the central core of the problem remains exactly as it was, and we are getting exactly the same apologies from the Minister of Labour to-day as we have had during the whole of the 16 years during which I have sat in the House and listened to one Minister of Labour after another juggling with figures and proving to us that, as compared with such and such a date three years, five years, or six years ago—according to what was the favourable point of comparison—the position was infinitely better. For 16 years we have listened to that, and the problem still remains the same, unchanged in its major aspects.
Twenty years of unemployment is a long bit out of one man's life. There are people who have never been clear of the sufferings arising from unemployment during the whole of that period of 20 years. In some areas there are people whose homes during that period have never been free from the sufferings caused by unemployment. All that the Commissioners have done has no more than scratched the surface of the problem. It is not enough for the hon. Member for Mossley to talk about State Socialism as being the cause. If his suggestion is that the period of 1914 to 1918 was State Socialism, if he says that it was the State that was responsible for fixing the price of coal to the Italian railways at £13 a ton, it is not true. It was the mine-owners who were responsible for that.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
It was not the State which was directly responsible, but the fixing of the price of household coal at a preposterously low level made it necessary for the industry to recoup some of its losses by charging an excessively high price in the export market. The reason for the low price of domestic coal was purely political, which is always the case in any country where the Government has control over an industry.
§ Mr. Maxton
Frankly, I do not believe that there was that average loss on domestic coal at that time. My hon. Friends know of one of the biggest coal merchants in the West of Scotland who 1412 has sold coal in every corner of Europe on a large scale. The Secretary of State for Scotland may know him. He has been the biggest public benefactor that we have had in the City of Glasgow. He has spent millions on the Universities and on benevolent activities of one sort or another, all that money being got out of selling coal, particularly during that period of State Socialism. I am certain that no Socialist or any form of State Socialism would dream of presenting one man with £1,000,000 of profit. If the hon. Member calls that State Socialism, I am going to say that the activities of the Special Areas Commissioners are also State Socialism.
§ Mr. Maxton
I understand that the hon. Gentleman was approving the activities of the Commissioners?
§ Mr. Maxton
The hon. Member first told us that State Socialism is a necessary way of carrying on a war, that it is the thing we must first have when the country is at war and the existence of the State is involved. Now he is telling us that when we are faced with an obdurate social problem which is not being ameliorated in any way by the operation of private enterprise, which, in fact, is going from bad to worse under private enterprise, then again State Socialism must come in to mitigate the evil. He is coming along. We have only to cut out State Socialism—when? When profit is to be made on a large scale by someone or other; then the capitalists do not want the State to come in. It is to come in only when there are dangers and difficulties which they cannot solve. When things are running smoothly and profits are being made, they want the State to be kept out of the way, but as soon as there are difficulties they want the State to be brought in to fight wars, or to prevent bankruptcies, or to mitigate the sufferings of the people that might become so severe as to cause uprising and upheaval.
That is the view of the Opposition as expressed in this Motion. They do not talk about State Socialism. They talk about the failure of the Government to recognise that the plight of those areas is 1413 but an indication of the unstable foundations of the present system. Does the hon. Member deny that the foundations of the present system are unstable?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I am not going to interrupt the hon. Member. I am very interested in what he has to say.
§ Mr. Maxton
The Speaker has repeatedly told us that the Debates in this House should more and more take the form of answering the speech that went before.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
If that is the view of the Chair, it puts me in a different position. I suggested that when there was a war on, we had to adopt a system of State Socialism. I also suggested that it would be possible to deal with the depressed areas by a similar system. It might be worth mentioning that during the War I was working under a system of State Socialism for 24 hours a day at 1s. 10d. a day and my keep. If that system were applied to the depressed areas, we might restore them without difficulty.
§ Mr. Maxton
Those strenuous conditions, of which I would never approve, may have had permanent effects on the hon. Gentleman's general health. I hoped that there was general recognition now that the foundations of the existing social order are unstable. There is recognition of it periodically on Wall Street and on the London Stock Exchange. There is recognition of it among the directors of all the big companies of this country who are perpetually showing signs of panic and funk that the whole system will slip from underneath them. I read, among other things, the financial columns of the more important daily newspapers. I do not take the trouble to keep cuttings or quotations, but the general impression that is left on my mind during the last three or four months is that the people who are primarily responsible for running the capitalist system of society are living from day to day in a state of general funk because the old principles that enabled them to guide themselves in the manipulation of markets and the selling and buying of shares are rules of thumb that are of no use in the existing situation. I attended the other week a meeting of trustees of a certain foundation that had before it the investment of £500,000. The discussion arose whether gilt-edged 1414 securities with a sure but certain low return were better than industrials with a somewhat higher but not so secure a return. The one man in the meeting who had the biggest knowledge of that particular kind of work, as it was his practical day-to-day work, asked whether there was anything which could be relied on as being sound and solvent. I notice that in conversation even the phrase "as sound as the Bank of England" has dropped out.
Therefore, I say that there is justification for the charge of the Opposition that the foundations of the present system are unstable and that all the supporters of the existing system are more and more coming to the State to get them through difficulties of one kind and another. Is that denied? In the earlier days of my experience in Parliament the view expressed from those benches with Conservative Ministers in charge was that this was just a passing phase, a temporary phase arising out of the War and the post-war disturbances. It has taken more than 16 years to get them to realise that it is not a passing phase, and they have not fully realised it yet. They have not fully realised that they are now going through a period of fundamental change and that if the change is to be a good and beneficent one for mankind. Governments have to get in front of the problem instead of trotting along behind it. Up till now no Government has done that. The Minister of Labour used to sit behind me on the back bench, and, as a critic in these Debates for the best part of 12 years, he was one of the most energetic and efficient Members in denouncing the Government for refusing to handle this business on a large scale and in a fundamental way. To-day he is the principal apologist, and in his apologies more confident and more blatant than his predecessors.
I was struck with one phrase that the right hon. Gentleman used. He said that what is needed is stern, energetic, concentrated, strenuous, consistent effort all along the line. We have heard other statesmen on that bench who could pile up adjectives which all meant nothing at the wind-up. Bearing that phrase in mind, I take up the report of the Special Areas Commissioner for Scotland, and I find that he has granted £1,700 to the Boys' Brigade, £4,800 to the Association of Boys' Clubs, and £4,800 to the Girl 1415 Guides Association. The Minister's phrase was "stern, energetic, concentrated, strenuous, consistent effort." Then I turn round to find what they have done in the way of getting actual employment, and I see four pages taken up with grants to local authorities for sewerage schemes. I have no doubt that the communities that are having these special grants for sewerage schemes are glad to have them and that a certain amount of employment is being given. I have no doubt that in time they will produce improvement in the general health of the communities in which they have been received. But to paraphrase the well-known saying, Man does not live upon sewerage alone. We cannot build up a great prosperous national industry purely on sewerage. Looking at the Scottish effort as detailed in the report of the Commissioner, we have propaganda, sewerage and girl guides.
I want my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to tell me whether he thinks that this is doing anything to solve the fundamental problem. The trading estates have been produced to-day as a wonderful scheme, but what is that scheme? It is an attempt to drive private enterprise to take on in certain localities the running of an industrial concern which their own business sense would restrain them from taking on if they were not to have Government support and subsidies. We on this portion of this bench have taken the line always on this matter that, unless you are prepared to have the nation assume responsibility for organising, directing, stimulating, and developing the whole of the industrial life of the nation, you need not attempt any of these half measures. What the State could have done 20 years ago, and what it can do now if you are not prepared to take responsibility for organisingyour industrial life from top to bottom is to see that the men, women, and children suffering unemployment, or from unemployment, for whom you can find no useful job in your industrial system, have from week to week, month to month, and year to year an income which will enable them to live in decent comfort.
I used to believe, but my experience has led me to discard the view, that long-continued unemployment meant moral or intellectual deterioration. It does not unless it is accompanied by a lack of the 1416 ordinary material things of life. I have personal friends, my intimates in Scotland, who have had long periods of unemployment who are maintaining their moral and their intellect and are finding useful activities and finding ways of working, just as many wealthy men in this House not compelled by their personal circumstances to do anything for the sake of getting a living come here and find other jobs, to which no remuneration is attached, and thereby get moral and intellectual training for themselves. The Special Commissioner for Scotland, who has an unpaid job, is maintaining his moral in doing it. My friends in one of the Special Areas are maintaining their moral character and intellect every bit as well. They are both doing it on resources which are not provided by their own efforts. My friends are doing it by resources provided out of public funds, and there is nothing demoralising in it except that they are doing it on 17s. a week—a threatened 17s. a week, a 17s. that they can never count on as secure, a 17s. which, after the expiration of a certain time, means that they are going to be held up by means test people and their mothers, sisters, cousins, and aunts living in the same house will have their incomes dragged into the pool to see whether they should really have 17s.
We have taken the view that what a Capitalist State could and should do is to meet their needs and put their weekly allowance on a decent basis which would enable them to live decently and keep physically fit. But you will not do that. You have told us all along that you could not afford it. A very big proportion of the money that comes back to the unemployed men comes out of the pockets of the employed men, but so does the income of the landlords and all the rest. The unemployed man is no worse in that respect than myself or the Noble Earl or the Secretary of State for Scotland. The Noble Earl is maintained by the efforts of working people.
§ Mr. Maxton
You are both friends of mine. Do not quarrel. All that we have ever asked of the Government at any time is that unemployed men should receive a decent income and if, instead of these fantastic schemes upon which you have spent money with a minimum of results, 1417 you had devoted the money to the decent maintenance of the unemployed, their expenditure would have helped to improve the general employment position of the country. I heartily support this Motion of Censure. The present order is on an unstable foundation, and new foundations have to be dug. I do not say that the Government have to accept a Socialist basis for a new social order. It would be the job of Socialist Governments to establish a Socialist society. I am not asking a National Government elected to defend Capitalism to put a new society on Socialist foundations. What they must do is to find other foundations, if they can, which are stable, and to tell us what the foundations of the new order are.
To-day, admittedly, the old order's foundations are shaking. What is the new order to be? Are we going on into a society in which liberty is preserved, in which people are going to have an opportunity of working regularly under decent conditions? Are we going to move into a society in which men are going to have an opportunity of leading decent lives, getting all the health and pleasure and interest that can be got out of life, or do the Government of the country tell us in 1937 that there is no new order coming, that we have just to continue living on this unstable, rocky foundation, that we are going to have our lives vexed by perpetual scares, panics, collapses, and crises, and that a huge proportion of our fellow citizens are to be compelled to live in abject poverty and disgrace? If the Government have any other message than that to give us, let them give it. A large proportion of the members of the Government have been in responsible office steadily since 1922. The Prime Minister has been in one position or another in every Government during that time except the two short Labour Governments. He has had experience, they have had experience, the Secretary of State for Scotland has had experience. What are they going to do to take this load off our mind? What are they going to do to try to remove the misery, doubt, and uncertainty of the people of the nation? Are they going to continue to tell us, as they have told us for the last 16 years, that they are making academic inquiries into the nature of the problem and taking stern, energetic, concentrated, strenuous, consistent action all along the line? That is not 1418 enough. They have to produce results—and results mean the solution of the unemployment problem—and not come here and tell us that the figures to-day are better than they were in October, because we know perfectly well, and they know perfectly well that the figures in February may be infinitely worse than the figures in December.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Major Oscar Guest
Notwithstanding the terrible forebodings that we have heard, I still propose to try to start a factory in a distressed area, and I should like to put the point of view of one who is trying to start work in one of these Special Areas. It seems to me that there are a number of things that help and a certain number that hinder. To begin with, I should like to pay a tribute to the Government Departments which have assisted us in the comparatively small venture that we have undertaken. The Ministry of Labour, the Special Areas Commissioner, and the consulting engineers have all done their best, and more than their best. When I say that within six months of starting the project we shall see, in the first weeks of January, the wheels of a factory moving, that is a tribute to the Government which has assisted us in going into the district. It is an answer to the Motion of Censure when they say that these Departments are unco-ordinated, waste time, and do not give assistance. It is interesting to compare that site in Dowlais with what it was a year and a half ago. It was then undoubtedly a ruined and devastated site. Now you will see some 40 or 50 acres of level ground, with drains, electric light, heat, power, water, and gas laid on and roads and railway sidings. It is, surely, now a site which industry can reasonably come to and not have to be bribed to come to. It is by these methods that we are beginning to attack the problem of unemployment in the distressed areas. I should like to pay a tribute to the assistance that we have received from everyone in the locality, regardless of any political views that they may have.
I regret that it is thought necessary to have a Motion of Censure on the subject. It is, surely, a question on which all parties are agreed and ought to work together. A Motion of Censure on a subject such as this is unhelpful from the 1419 point of view of the manufacturer considering whether he will go to a site in a distressed area or will not. I should also like to make a point with regard to the slump which hon. Members opposite tell us is imminent. If it is a risk to go to a Special Area in good times, it is" a greater risk when there is going to be a slump. If they want us to go to the distressed areas, I wish they would not tell us every morning that there is going to be a slump. If we have a spirit of confidence, and not a spirit of fear, we are more likely to get industry moving in those areas. At Dowlais there is room for many more industries. We want to encourage industries to go to such areas. We want to encourage them to believe that they can succeed in those areas.
As regards industries which have already been started in the Special Areas, it is extraordinarily important that they should be able to carry on and to stand on their own feet. Nothing could be worse than that industries, having been started in the areas, should be compelled to close down after a period of working. The advice which I am tempted to give the Government on that point is that they should pay attention to the question of the training of labour. I believe that it is on the amount of trained labour available in the areas that the success or failure of many of these enterprises will depend. I should like to see training colleges for labour established, to which boys and girls could go immediately after they had reached the school-leaving age. I know there are some local training colleges, but I think students cannot enter them until they have reached the age of 18 to 21. Why should they not take in students from the age of 15 onwards? Three, four, or even five years' training is necessary to turn out a reasonably good mechanic in one of the light engineering industries with which it is proposed to replace the heavy industries which have passed away from so many of these areas. A young person cannot be trained for one of those industries in six or nine months, but if we had training colleges to which the young people could go on leaving school, it would mean that trained labour would be available for any industry which was established in those parts.
1420 In South Wales, a district about which I have learned a little, a great deal has been done. It is natural that there should be a certain amount of impatience, but in a year or two we hope to see results. I feel that the sooner these areas cease to be advertised as depressed areas, the sooner will they cease to be depressed areas. Nothing frightens industrialists so much as talk about fundamental changes and political arguments of that kind. If we want to tempt industries into these areas, the fact should be made known that the areas in question are practicable places for the establishment of light industries, that there is plenty of labour there, that the labour has been well-trained, and that sites have been found by the Government. But we ought not to hear so much about the distress in the areas, about everything being in a bad way, and about the people there being in the forefront of the political arena. Whatever may be said about the planning of industry generally, our present job is to deal with what is under our noses and get industry started in the places where unemployment is rife. I submit that it is by increasing confidence that we shall induce industries to go to these areas, and produce that improvement in the unemployment figures which all parties desire to achieve.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Kirby
I am sure the House has been impressed by the manner in which both sides of the case has been advanced in this Debate and that there are many hon. Members who, like myself, desire to express particular satisfaction with the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the Motion. The Motion of Censure itself and the speeches have dealt with the general position in the Special Areas. I desire to extend the scope of the discussion a little and to raise the question of the Government's inattention—to put it mildly—to those places which have a high percentage of unemployed, but are outside the scheduled Special Areas. I draw the special attention of the Minister of Labour and the House to Lancashire as a case in point. The Minister must know that in Lancashire we have a great deal of unemployment. Many towns and villages which are not recognised as Special Areas have anything up to 70 or 80 per cent. of their male population unemployed. One case has been brought 1421 to my notice, of a small place with a population of 7,000 and only about 120 persons in insurable employment. Other places like Blackrod, Aspull, West-houghton, and many others can be called to mind—all small towns which are very distressed yet are receiving no encouragement and no attention from the Government under the scheme at present covering the Special Areas.
We have in the cotton industry unemployment to an extent that has never been known before. One of my hon. Friends only to-day received from the managing director of a number of cotton concerns in Lancashire information to the effect that during the past three months there has been a heavy deterioration in the trade. Perhaps my hon. Friend and neighbour the Member for the Exchange Division (Sir J. Shute) will be able to tell us something about it. The employer to whom I refer is running his mills with about two-thirds of the employés engaged, and he makes the assertion that, generally speaking, throughout Lancashire only about half the employés are at work. The same thing can be said about the collieries. It is well-known that in many parts of Lancashire, particularly in the Wigan and West-houghton districts, many pits have been closed. They have not been closed merely as a temporary measure, because they are being dismantled, and we have come to the conclusion that the probability is that they will never be opened again. At the same time we have thousands of spindles being broken up, with the result that the people who have been thrown out of work in the cotton trade are not very hopeful about being able to go back to that trade again.
Something was said earlier in the Debate—I think by the Minister—about employment in the cotton trade in reference to juveniles. I think that to-day juveniles to a very large extent are refusing employment in those mills where there are vacancies because of the bitter and terrible experiences of their parents who have worked in those mills. If conditions in Lancashire were investigated, I think it would be found that there are from a dozen to twenty places with a very high degree of unemployment about which the Government are doing simply nothing and to which the Special Areas Reconstruction Act does not apply. I draw special atten- 1422 tion to the city of Liverpool. While Liverpool is not recognised as a distressed area—certainly not as a Special Area—we have there the largest solid block of unemployment to be found in any part of the country, including any of the Special Areas scheduled under the Act. On 18th October this year there were in Liverpool 58,724 men unemployed, 9,397 women, and 4,828 juveniles, making a total, for Liverpool alone, of 72,949. Those figures are taken from the "Labour Gazette" of November, 1937. That is not a new state of affairs. This is not something which has come upon Liverpool in recent weeks. These figures represent the average state of affairs in Liverpool for the past 10 or 15 years. The trade boom so often spoken of and the rearmament programme have made no appreciable difference to the unemployment figures in Liverpool, and we have come to the definite conclusion that, under the present policy of the Government, Liverpool has little hope for the future.
There are differences of opinion as to the reason for this very heavy unemployment in Liverpool. One reason is the serious decline of exports, both of cotton and coal, which has thrown so many of our transport workers, seamen, and dockers out of work. Then there was the removal to London of the head offices of several shipping companies under the policy of rationalisation which was followed a few years ago, and there was also the removal from Liverpool to Southampton of the principal trans-Atlantic passenger traffic. Also playing its part in this downward trend in Liverpool, we have had the introduction by the present Government of tariffs and quotas and import duties. On aop of that we have the very unfortunate trade dispute with the Irish Free State. We were told only yesterday or the day before by the President of the Board of Trade that no steps had been taken in recent months or were being taken to bring about a settlement of that dispute. These are all causes of very heavy unemployment in Liverpool and on Merseyside generally, and we submit that the Government must, to a very large extent, take responsibility for the difficult situation in which Liverpool finds itself to-day.
In addition to the distress, misery, and suffering resulting from this heavy unemployment, we are also concerned about the fact that it is driving up our rates 1423 and possibly keeping new industries from coming to Liverpool. Our rates have been very high because we have had to maintain over a long period many unemployed, including a large proportion of able-bodied unemployed. The Liverpool Corporation through the Distressed Areas Committee and the Association of Municipal Corporations has approached the Government, and I believe has interviewed the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Minister of Labour concerning the heavy cost of maintaining the able-bodied unemployed. The Government in a recent Measure decided, in principle, to take over the maintenance of the able-bodied unemployed, and it was expected in Liverpool that a heavy burden, amounting to 3s. or 4s. in the rates, would be taken off the backs of the Liverpool ratepayers. But we found when all these cases were gone into that, for one reason or another, the Minister of Labour, through the Unemployment Assistance Board, refused to take over 3,700 cases which we looked upon as being definitely within the category of able-bodied unemployed. These 3,700 cases are costing Liverpool £205,000 in a full year, or near to 8½d. in the £ on the rates, and that is on the top of all the unemployed cases which we have already relieved by public assistance as part and parcel of what we look upon as a portion of our proper work.
In addition to that, we have 37,000 persons drawing ordinary public assistance as ordinary Poor Law cases, and the cost of this amounts to about 2s. 3d. in the £, making 3s. altogether for these unemployed. Liverpool is in a very sad plight, and all classes of ratepayers are demanding that the burden should be made lighter for them. We see the Government making some small contribution for the expenditure on boy scouts and girl guides, but we insist that their duty is to tackle the problem that really matters. We want them to go into the places where there is a heavy degree of unemployment and to determine that, by all the means at their disposal as a Government, industry and commerce shall be made to flow into those areas in order that this great mass of poverty can be lightened and the ratepayers given a real chance to breathe. I could say much more about these matters, but I 1424 appreciate the fact that hon. Members representing other districts, and particularly other speakers from Lancashire, will want to make a plea on behalf of their own localities, and therefore I conclude by asking the Government to pay some attention to what I have said in regard to the plight of Liverpool.
§ 7.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Cartland
I do not think we have ever had a Debate on the Special Areas when we have not had speeches putting forward the particular claims of Liverpool or Lancashire in a most admirable way. The hon. Member for Everton (Mr. Kirby) has followed that tradition. Indeed, I think the value of these Debates is that although we survey the problem as a whole we also get speeches which give the position from the local point of view.
Anyone who has listened to the Debate will agree that it has not proceeded on the normal lines to which we have been accustomed. That is partly due to the fact that we have as its background the report of the Special Areas Commissioner and the report of the Unemployment Assistance Board. There is a third report, and that is the report on the iron and steel industry. The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) suggested that the foundations of the present economic system were unstable, and the argument he advanced in favour of sweeping away the present system was that we should be able to provide a fuller life for the people under some new system. But the hon. Member said that it was essential to preserve liberty. We could solve the problem of unemployment in this country as it has been attempted to be solved in other countries, but at the loss of liberty and freedom. When we talk about the foundations of the present system I believe that the real foundation is the human individual and the human individual's desire for freedom to express his personality. Whatever you do with your economic system, and whatever you do to produce a superb economic state, if you are going to do that at a loss of human personality, then you will destroy civilisation which is the very thing you want to preserve. Judged by these standards the capitalist system is the best system, although it is not perfect, that can be designed or has been devised up to the present time.
1425 I could not help feeling after listening to the boxing bout between the hon. Member for Bridgeton and the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson) that they were both shadow-boxing; one erected a bogus Socialism and the other a bogus Capitalism, and they knocked each down in turn. It did not seem to me that either of the pictures which they drew had any relation to reality. I cannot help feeling that all the critics, and especially the critics who have brought forward this Motion, are criticising a system which does not actually exist. They talk of the capitalist system as though it were static. It is not. It is always changing and facing new problems; and these new problems have to be met by new methods. One lesson that we are able to draw from the report of the Special Areas Commissioner is that the special plans which the Commissioners have been putting into effect cannot be proceeded with very much further. My own view is that, although the report is better and more optimistic than any issued in the past, with all the powers that the Commissioner has, he cannot do very much more on the same lines. I do not think that he can do much more in the way of trading estates and so forth.
The important part of the Commissioner's report is in the first passage, in which he says:In these relatively small districts are to be found conditions that present in an acute form problems that are awaiting solution in all parts of the country.Except for the small pockets, to which the hon. Member for East Rhondda (Mr. Mainwaring) referred, such as the towns at the top of the Rhondda Valley, certain districts around Pontypridd, and, for example, in Kidsgrove in the Potteries, the problems of the Special Areas are exactly the same problems which we are facing in other parts of the country, even in the most prosperous parts. Those problems are three in number—a social problem, a problem of capital and a problem of labour. The social problem arises from the fact that we are trying out in the Special Areas the policy which has been described as "scattered factories." We are saying that there is no reason, having regard to the need for raw materials, why certain factories should not be put here, there or anywhere. I expect that the Royal Commission on the Location of Industries will report 1426 somewhat on those lines, that there is no reason why this or that manufacturing industry should not go into a particular district.
The whole process of modern industry is militating against the very method that we are trying out. The whole process of modern industry is towards large conglomerations and not towards scattered industries, separate plants on the trading estates or in different parts of the country. The latest figures that I have are for 1930 when 40 per cent. of our workers were working in large plants. And the process has gone on; I suppose the figure is well above 40 per cent. at the present time. These large industrial concentrations in themselves are creating markets and an even more dangerous problem which may be described as the problem of urbanisation. Those who have read the report of the Special Areas Commissioner will have noticed the remarkable statement in regard to the difficulties of transport. The report says:From three exchange areas alone over 1,300 workers are travelling distances of over 10 miles each way to work.That statement relates to South Wales. It is a great problem, but it is not a problem which applies merely to the Special Areas. I will give one example of what is happening in, I suppose, the most prosperous part of England, the district which I represent. The Corporation of Birmingham have built a town as big as Shrewsbury, with 35,000 inhabitants, which has virtually no railway service. Let me give another example from my own Division, where there is a very large factory which employs 20,000 people. Only one-tenth of that number, about 2,000, live at all close to their work. Over 1,000 come from the suburbs and districts of Greater Birmingham, and travel right across the city a distance of from six to 12 miles. Some 2,500, or one in eight, come from small country places and villages anywhere from within a radius of within 12 to 18 miles. Another 1,000 have journeys of from 15 to 18 miles by special omnibuses from their homes to work, and back again at night; 120 come from Worcester, and 700 from Redditch, while three gentlemen come 60 odd miles every day to work. I give that example to show that this problem is more acute in the most prosperous district of England than it is in the Special Areas. The attention of 1427 the Commissioner has been drawn to it, but it is certainly a national problem and one which it behoves the Government to try to solve.
There is the problem of capital. We have been reading in the newspapers, particularly this year, of the importance of savings, especially of small savings. Since 1929 the principal source of investment, which in the past has been the savings of rich people out of their incomes, has entirely dried up, and practically the whole of the savings from which investment flows are being provided either by obligatory savings funds, or by savings of trading profits which go back into the industry from which they are made, or by small savings. These three classes of savings upon which the country is having to depend more and more for investment, prefer the satisfaction of security rather than the excitement of speculation. Yet it is to the desire for speculation that we are going to appeal for investment in the small factories on the trading estates and for the future development of small industries. In regard to this problem two questions must be asked: How long can consumption expenditure be maintained by expenditure of our capital; and, if we have the tendency on the part of the small saver to save in bad times and not in good—if one looks at the small savings returns we find that in 1931–32 the savings were far higher than in prosperous years—how far is it possible to use these small savings as a means of pumping into the country increased purchasing power?
The third problem, that of labour, involves the whole problem of transference and the direction of labour. In this respect the position of the building trade is particularly interesting. If we take the South-east region of England, we find that one out of every five or six men of the insured employed is in the building trade. In the Midlands the proportion is one in 14, and in Wales only one in 18 or 19. In the last 14 years in the Midlands district employment has practically doubled in the building trade, having increased from 60,000 to 120,000. In Wales it has only increased from 23,000 to 25,000. There is, therefore, an ample field for employment in the building trade in Wales, but it may mean that we shall have to draw the building operatives from other districts. How far will it be possible 1428 to attract labour into those districts where it is most needed and into the industries where it is most in demand? These are three national problems, which have been brought to light by what has happened in the Special Areas, to which the Government must try to find an answer, not only if we are to solve completely the problem of the Special Areas but prevent a serious dislocation of industry arising in other parts of the country.
I think there is some cause for optimism, but there are one or two indications of what seems to me to be an extraordinarily dangerous situation. If we compare 1923 with 1937—an interval of 14 years—we find a deep contrast in the balance between the manufacturing industries and the distributive and transport trades and the miscellaneous, which are principally recreational trades. We find that, whereas in 1923 only 4.7 per cent. of the insured population were in what I call recreational services, that percentage had risen to 6.7 in 1937, and the percentage of those in the manufacturing industries dropped in the same period from 51 to 47 per cent. It may be that what the Government are doing will give us some opportunity of attracting more labour into the manufacturing industries, where greater security is to be found than in these other and lighter trades. Again, if we contrast the years 1929 and 1937 it will be seen that there has actually been an increase of 200 per cent. in the insured population which has gone into the recreational services. The hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) said the system under which we are living was unstable because it was based upon a wrong employment situation, there being so many more people employed in the manufacturing industries than in agriculture, but surely it is equally dangerous to have an unwieldy proportion of our people engaged not actually in manufacturing but in the provision of amenities like entertainment, hotel services, and in the distributive trades and so on.
These all seem to me to be great national problems, but I do not believe they are fundamental problems, and I do not believe that we should be solving them by blowing up the existing foundations of society, as the hon. Member for Bridgeton suggested. I believe we have got to recreate a new form of structure on the existing capitalist foundation; that 1429 new form of structure I think was most admirably described in the report of the Import Duties Advisory Committee on the future position of the iron and steel industry. I hope the House will forgive me for quoting it, but it expresses what seems to me to be the future construction of the whole system under which we are living far better than I can express it:Industry should be encouraged to continue to work out its own organisation and frame its own policy, in co-operation with some body representative of the State in so far as wider issues affecting public interests are involved, so that there may be a full and fair trial of the possibility of combining individual responsibility and initiative on the one hand with co-ordinated and cooperative action and full recognition of the over-riding importance of the National interests on the other.That should be the policy which the Government should adopt towards the industrial problems of to-day. We shall still have to deal with the "pockets" of depression. I see that the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. E. Smith) has just come in. I have been mentioning the position at Kidsgrove. That is a "pocket" which will have to be dealt with by some drastic surgical operation.
I will only say, in conclusion, that in considering all these economic problems and the solutions for them we must never forget the human factor. Sometimes I cannot help feeling, when listening to Debates, that one is apt to forget that in the end it is the man and the woman in industry with whom one is concerned. When we see what has happened in some of the Totalitarian countries I am frightened lest, in the desire for greater production and cheaper goods, we may forget that though we may turn human beings into machines we shall not in that way bring them happiness, nor give them any of those things which make life really worth living. It is tremendously difficult to keep the balance between super-efficiency in industry and the preservation of the human personality. It is a tremendous problem, but I believe we can solve it; but only if we remember that it is the human desire for freedom which is at the basis of the capitalist system and which at all costs we must preserve.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Welsh
I feel that the House has heard the speech of the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Cartland) with a considerable amount of pleasure, and with 1430 a lot of his speech I can agree, but I think he has missed one fundamental thing, namely, that if we do not pay attention to increasing the consumptive power of the people while allowing the productive capacity of industry to increase, we shall always have this problem of unemployment with us under whatever system we live, whether we call it Capitalism or by any other name. The will to consume is there. Our people could consume far more than they get at the present time, but they lack the purchasing power, and that gap between consumption and production will have to be reduced. I do not think the Capitalist system can ever solve the unemployment problem, because it is based on production for private profit. That is fundamental to it, and if the hon. Member wants to change the foundations of Capitalism, then it will not be Capitalism after he has done so. We on this side are seeking to transform the present system into a Socialist system, while at the same time preserving the freedom of the individual and seeking to give him opportunities to develop his personality. The present system is destroying the personality of the people wholesale.
I wonder how far it would alter the economic and political outlook of hon. Members opposite if they had been brought up in circumstances where the consumptive power of a family was always greater than the means for meeting it allowed. I wonder how they would feel if they had had the experience which I underwent recently. A few years ago one of best friends became unemployed. He had been putting by a little, week by week, towards the education of his eldest boy, and then the slump came, and unemployment. He had married late in life, and was reaching, or had reached, middle age, and he knew that it was almost impossible for him to get back into industry again. Only a few weeks ago I saw them fishing his body out of the river. Things like that make all the difference in the outlook of the men and women who come to this House to speak upon social questions. Such things cannot be forgotten when once they have been experienced. I do not say this in any offensive sense, but I can understand the Capitalist system appealing to the hon. Member for King's Norton as being the best system in the world. It has been the best system for him, and in 1431 many ways it has been good to me, but that does not alter the fact that the problem with which we are faced now has been brought about by the fact that our productive power has run on to such an extent that we cannot bridge the gap between production and consumption.
Listening to the right hon. Gentleman who was replying to the speeches of the Mover and the Seconder of this Motion, I was struck by the amount of complacency which he displayed. I do not use that word merely because it has become fashionable to apply it. It seemed to me that he was the very essence of complacency and self-satisfaction. In the metaphor that appeals most to me he resembled a child's toy balloon bouncing down the street, being blown by the wind and filled by the wind as well. He claimed that a great deal had been done towards improving the position in the Special Areas. I wish to speak about a Special Area in the county which both he and I represent, in which there has been no improvement, as judged by the figures of his own Department. The hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) said that he represented a Special Area in which there had been no improvement. Not only is there no improvement in the Special Area of which I am going to speak, the county of Lanark, but things are infinitely worse there than they were in 1931. It should be remembered, too, that out of that Special Area of Scotland, which comprises Lanarkshire, Dumbartonshire and parts of Ayr, Renfrewshire and West Lothian, has come more wealth during the last 150 years than out of the whole of the rest of Scotland put together. Yet that is where the most intense poverty exists to-day.
That is a terrible reflection upon the way in which we have organised our society. The position there is not so much due to the fact that the Government are not doing anything fundamental. I do not think they are willing to do anything because it would disturb the economic structure which they are seeking to preserve, and as long as the people send them to Parliament to continue that system, then the people will have to pay the price, although it becomes pretty hard on us who go home at week-ends to come into contact with people whom we 1432 have known all our days who are willing to embark upon changes and see things going on there the same as ever.
I should like to quote a few figures to which the Secretary of State for Scotland might give his attention when he comes to reply. In the Lanarkshire county area there has been, between November, 1931, and November, 1937, a decrease of 20,855, or 46 per cent., in the number of insured workers. That does not seem to indicate any great improvement. That does not indicate that the wave of prosperity has reached that Special Area in Scotland. If we take the figures of the Employment Exchanges, it is true that they show patches here and there where there has been an improvement in employment. In Coatbridge, Lanark, Larkhall, Motherwell, and Wishaw there have been slight improvements—in the Coatbridge area, I believe, an improvement of 500 additional workers—but there have been decreases in Airdrie, Cambuslang, Carluke, Hamilton, Lesmahagow, Shotts, and Uddingston. Hamilton has lost 1,480 insured workers in that period, although it was a period in which there was prosperity in the heavy industries. Uddingston, which is in the centre of my division, has lost 1,700 insured workers, or 19.7 per cent. of the insured workers in that village. These are very difficult figures to square with the claim that is being made, that there is a wave of prosperity overspreading the industrial areas. Slow death is creeping over the industries in that locality, and an acceleration of decay threatens the people in those areas.
Taking the mining industry, the one with which I am most intimate and about which I do know a little, let us compare it with coal-mining throughout the whole of Great Britain. There has been a tremendous increase in the number of men employed in coal mines, something like 300,000 since 1921. In Scotland it is much more pronounced. During the period 1921 to 1936 the number of mines at work in Great Britain decreased from 2,500 to 2,080, a decrease of 420. In Scotland over the same period the number decreased from 535 to 391, a comparatively higher decrease considering the size of the population. Nationalisation has worked even greater havoc from 1931 to 1936. The coal cut by machinery in Great Britain increased from 23,039,000 1433 tons to 125,670,000 tons. In Scotland the percentage is greater because they were unfortunately placed in such a position that they had to accept rationalisation more quickly than other districts. At the present time 79 per cent. of the coal cut in Scotland is cut by machinery. In the county of Fife alone 88 per cent. of its total output is cut by machinery. There is no part of the whole world, America excepted, where one will find such a high percentage of machine-cut coal as one will find there. This system is largely eliminating labour.
How can labour be eliminated, thus preventing men from earning wages, at the same time expecting them to keep up the same purchasing power? The more one eliminates labour by machinery, the more one cuts down wages, and the more one cuts down wages the more one limits the spending power of the people. We not only have the mining industry, but I can also refer to a case where we had three large iron and steel concerns in operation only a few years ago. Only one is now operating. Two of them have been eliminated through rationalisation; one was bought and dismantled and put out of production altogether. With the new machinery we can produce far more than we could years ago. It is the same story. This resolution has brought about the fundamental clash that inevitably takes place when we deal with this question of poverty, unemployment, or call it what you like—it is the same social economic problem.
The Government have started a trading estate in Hillington. Lanarkshire is a badly depressed part of the country. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State knows that there is room in Lanarkshire for a trading estate instead of going to Hillington. That is a part of the country where the greatest amount of misery, starvation, hunger, and unemployment exists to-day. It is beautiful, open and empty country where sheep and cattle graze. Some of the congested population should be brought out into the air, and if Government factories were built there, they would be strategically better placed. The present system is breaking society and all this dead weight of misery is continuing more and more.
In a few days we shall go to our own home circles to hold the Christmas festival. We shall be surrounded by our 1434 families, and we shall be giving presents to bring delight to each other. When we sit down to the family dinner there will be ghosts for many of the people who know these things. There are hungry children, and there are outcast women. Some of us will probably see one of our dearest friends being taken out of the river. These tragedies are continuing. I know it is not fashionable to talk like that in this House. There are those who say they do not want sentiment, but this is the most sentimental institution that I know. This supposed dislike of sentiment is for many their defence against sentiment. It is a thin veneer which British people possess, and yet they are moved more by sentiment than any other people I know. I ask you to consider those figures and facts in relation to this Special Area. It is worse off to-day after the boom than it was in 1931; it has less insured workers at work. Many of them have gone away through transference. If we are to continue like this, using them as we do, we may have greater tragedies than there have been
I read a report of a speech by the right hon. Gentleman either yesterday or to-day in which he made some allusion to self-government in Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman knows a number of influential people in Scotland who do not know all the ins and outs of the Government and who are animated with a desire to see this canker of Special Areas disposed of. What they really desire is a self-governing machine which will enable them to have more power over their Special Areas and their own problems. The Government do not want to have another Ireland on their northern flank as they have on their western flank. The northern part of the island is the only unconquered part of the United Kingdom. The Special Areas in Scotland need our attention; they are worse off to-day after all the treatment they have received, and something more fundamental in the way of changes must be made if a brighter prospect is to be brought about.
§ 8.11 p.m.
§ Mr. F. Anderson
I am speaking for the West Cumberland Special Area, and I do so with the consent, assent and cooperation of the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Cape), because I shall be speaking about a part of his constituency. 1435 In the first place, I notice that the Minister of Labour made only one particular reference to the Special Area of West Cumberland, and in making that reference he mentioned the fact that there was a likelihood of one new factory being constructed in the south portion of that area. I shall return to that in a few moments, but I will say that, so far as we are concerned in the Special Area of West Cumberland, we find that in Mary-port there are still 38.9 per cent. unemployed.
In passing, I would say that this is the town in respect of which Lord Portal appealed for assistance among the industrialists of this country. West Cumberland possesses the highest percentage of unemployed of any of the Special Areas in England or Wales, although not the biggest number. Lord Portal appealed to the good will of industrialists of this country to do something to help this area in regard to unemployment in the Maryport district. Why is it that, in spite of all that is supposed to have been done, as yet not a single factory has been established in the place with the highest unemployment, the town of Mary-port? I think that question should be answered by the Government. Why is it that in the place with the next highest percentage, Cleator Moor, the figure of 34.9 per cent. unemployment still remains? As far as West Cumberland is concerned, we have nothing of a substantial character for which we can thank the Government, except, perhaps, in grants towards sewage schemes and other social services of various kinds, but in no single instance have the Government been responsible for introducing industrial enterprises. Whatever has been done, has been by other people.
There is a large number of men in West Cumberland who are over 40 years of age, and I ask the Government what hope these men can have, since they are never likely to be employed again? There are huge dumps and slag heaps in the beautiful county of West Cumberland; why have such men not been put to work to remove those dumps? No appeal would be needed to anybody, so why should those men not have been provided with this useful employment which would make the area more attractive to industrialists who might be likely to go there? That is not 1436 the responsibility of anybody but the Government, and here is a way in which men of 40 years of age and over could be helped substantially, and useful employment be found for them in their present predicament. A site company has been set up in the area with the object of building factories. As an engineer has been appointed in the area to build the factories, I suggest that it would be better to do it by direct labour than by contract labour, because a larger percentage of employment might result. In West Cumberland we have had good results from the employment of direct labour.
I find that an unusual term is being used in the Commissioner's endeavours to introduce industrialists into the area. When you go to the Commissioner's department for a factory they say: "We cannot put up a factory for you unless it is a standard factory." I never heard the term" standard factory "mentioned in this House at any time when this question was being discussed. [Interruption.] I should be glad to have the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, because I believe that I can put matters to the Government, arising out of my experience, that call for an answer. Site companies have been established and there is a particular reason for classing them as site companies. The idea was to put up a factory here and there, according to requirements, but if the desired factory is outside the standard type of factory, the Commissioner's department will not agree to it. How will the Government encourage industries to start in these areas, in those circumstances?
I gave an illustration of an industry requiring 250,000 gallons of water an hour for 24 hours a day. How can the Government expect that industry to go to an area where there is plenty of water, if it is properly harnessed, if the industry is not allowed to have the type of factory required for the work? How far are the Government responsible for introducing the policy of the standard factory? I want to know the position, in respect of inducements. Is it a fact that the Department will negotiate only with a company when formed, in respect of inducements, or are the Government or the Commissioner's department in a position to negotiate with an individual or individuals before a company is formed, with 1437 the object of securing a new industry for the Special Areas?
The next point affects particularly the area of the hon. Member for Workington, and relates to the Maryport Harbour. Here is another instance in which there has been procrastination, and where the Government have had it in their hands to take action by putting Maryport Harbour in order. Nevertheless, during the whole of the period, the same position has prevailed. What are the Government doing to put that harbour absolutely in order and thus encourage industries who want to use the dockside to come to West Cumberland? I know of two instances in which, had the harbour been in order, there would have been inducement to find a site in the district. Unfortunately the Government say: "First get the industry and then put the dockyard in order," but I say it should be the other way round:" Put the dockyard in order and you will then get industries for the area."
Then there is the question of the West Coast Road. The Minister of Transport paid a visit to this area, I think it was on 2nd July. So far as I am aware, there has been no actual development in any shape or form with the West Coast Road through West Cumberland. When anyone comes into the area to view it from the standpoint of establishing an industry there, almost the first question they ask is, "What are your transport arrangements?" Our answer has to be that they are so-and-so, but we hope to get so-and-so. The Minister of Labour told us that there was hope. I hope that the Government are going to show that that hope, so far as the West Coast Road is concerned, will before very long become an established fact.
I also want to speak with regard to agriculture and its relation to the factory. Up to the present moment, so far as I am aware, the Government, through the Commissioner, have said that there can only be small holdings, either on a co-operative basis or on the ordinary basis. A short time ago it fell to my lost to introduce some people into the area for the purpose of establishing a pig-breeding industry and a bacon factory, but up to now I must say we have not had the encouragement from the Commissioner's Department that one would expect to 1438 receive, especially for an industry of that character. I would ask the Government to look at this question of agriculture, not simply from the point of view of production from the soil or the production, say, of pigs, but from the point of view of what can be done in the direction of factory life in connection with that production. Really good work can be done in an area like West Cumberland.
We are told in the report that two industrial officers have been appointed to help and encourage and bring new industries into an area. I want to ask how far they have been responsible for bringing industries into any particular Special Area, because, so far as West Cumberland is concerned, I am not aware of a single instance in which they have been instrumental in bringing new industries into our district. I think that at least they should be able to justify their appointment, because I understand that they have to be people of very wide business experience. If my information is correct, I am not too enamoured of the appointments, because, so far as these people are concerned with making sure that new industries shall come into the area, if the Government only do as much as they have done during the last 12 months to encourage new industries to come into the Special Area of West Cumberland I am convinced that West Cumberland will still have the largest percentage of unemployed in the whole of the Special Areas of this country. I would ask the Government to oil the wheels a little more than they have done so far, to set the wheels in motion, so that in our district, where men have been unemployed, as they have been in South Wales, for many years, at least some of our men may have more hope than they have had up to the present.
§ 8.30 p.m.
I regret that I was not present to hear the opening speech of the Debate, but I gather that some appreciation has been expressed of the work of the Commissioner for the Special Areas, and I should like to add my meed of praise to him, and also to the Minister of Labour and his officials. So far as the detailed work of the Ministry of Labour is concerned—and I imagine that this applies to the whole country, and not only to the Special Areas—I have found it to be deserving of every commendation.
1439 I want, however, to turn, because I think that perhaps by now my own Government will appreciate that I am never quite satisfied, to one or two points of detail on which I shall be very much obliged if later on I can have a reply. I want to deal first with the statutory services of the Special Areas. We have on Tyneside a voluntary body called the Tyneside Council of Social Service. It is non-political, that is to say, all shades of political opinion are represented on it. I may say in passing that among the vice-presidents will be found the hon. Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) and myself, which I think is perhaps an indication of its non-party character. It does, if I may say so, a very great deal of valuable work, and it does it in the interests of the community as a whole. I have just received its annual report, in which there is one sentence which gives cause for anxiety, and to which I should like to draw the attention of the Government. It says:The voluntary, and to some extent the statutory, social services of the area have suffered from prolonged industrial depression to a degree which cannot be remedied in a brief space of time.I would like to ask the Government whether they would undertake a detailed examination of the social services which exist in the Special Areas? Some time ago I was dissatisfied with some of the social services which are operating in my constituency, and I went to the Ministry of Health and asked whether an inquiry could be made into those social services. I find the Ministry of Health, though I do not always agree with them, a sympathetic body, and an inspector was sent down, a survey was made, and the Minister made certain important recommendations. Among other things, he recommended that an assistant medical officer of health should be appointed; that certain alterations should be made in the practice of the public assistance committee with regard to the provision of extra nourishment for people who required it; and that more attention should be paid to the maternity services. In fact, over a very wide range of social services the Minister made very important recommendations. Some of them have been carried out by the local authority; some of them will be carried out in the future; some of them have not been carried out by the local authority; but my point is, 1440 and I venture to say it a little diffidently, that, if I had not raised that specific question of social services with the Ministry of Health, they would have been left to be carried on under very inadequate conditions. It seems to me that if, after examination in one place, the Minister of Health is satisfied that such recommendations are necessary—and I know that his colleagues on the Treasury Bench will agree with me that the Minister of Health does not make specific recommendations unless they are essential—it seems to me, in conjunction with the very important statement made by the Tyneside Council of Social Service, that the statutory social services should be examined.
I am a Northcountry woman, and it seems to me sometimes, with regard to voluntary services, that if anything happens to you in London you can always get assistance. If you want to get assistance for medical appliances, or to get your teeth looked after, or anything like that, you can get it in London. [Interruption.] I would remind the hon. Member that a certain proportion of the money for social services comes out of the Treasury, but I am not going to be side-tracked, and I would add that I am always willing to give Labour Members credit to which, I think, they are entitled. In London, you can get many more voluntary organisations and much more voluntary assistance. That assistance comes, not out of the Treasury or the rates, but from sympathetic people of all parties. It seems to me that in the Special Areas we have fewer people on whom to draw, fewer resources, and, I regret to say, greater needs. It is very important that these social services, both voluntary and statutory, should be examined.
There is another question to which I want to refer. As hon. Gentlemen will be aware, special feeding for expectant mothers has been carried out on an experimental basis through the National Birthday Trust Fund, and I was very interested to see, in a letter to the "Times," the following:During 1935–37, 10,384 mothers received special feeding, the maternal death rate being 1.63 per 1,000 births. Only one death from sepsis occurred in the whole series of cases. The number of mothers in the same areas not included in the distribution was 18,854.…The maternal death-rate in this group was 6.15 per 1,000 births, and the number of deaths from sepsis was 46.It seems to me that that requires the most careful investigation, and I do not 1441 really see why, because I happen to be a very warm supporter of the National party, I should not say that there must be, at any rate, very grave grounds for consideration of this problem. I should be very glad to receive an assurance from the Treasury Bench that that will be carefully looked into, and if the obvious conclusion that one draws from those figures is found to be the right conclusion, I hope my party will see that provision of special foodstuffs is extended to every mother, not only in the Special Areas but in other parts of the country. There should be no stint where maternity services can be strengthened.
I am not altogether satisfied that plans are being made for the future with regard to what is going to be done with the people in work when the rearmament programme comes to an end. Nobody can be more appreciative of the setting up of the trading estate on the North-East coast than I am. I know it is going to be a valuable acquisition to my part of the country, and I am certain that within a reasonably short time there will be sufficient factories to absorb a considerable number of the people unemployed. But that does not alter the situation. The people are now being drawn from the unemployed ranks, and if they are being absorbed into the trading estate, there will be no room later for the people who will be thrown out when rearmament comes to an end. Also the skilled workers from our shipbuilding industry are not necessarily going to obtain the right type of employment in the trading estate.
I find myself in conflict with the Board of Trade over this. They do not agree with me, but that does not prevent me from trying to fight a battle if I think it is right. I suggest that it would be in the interests of the country if we had a more detailed classification of imports. It seems to me highly improper that there has been no classification in detail of the imports which might reasonably have been manufactured here. The Board of Trade argue that if it were an economic proposition to establish factories for products that we do not now manufacture here, they would be immediately established by the manufacturers. I quite agree. But I would emphasise that it is possible that, when the manufacturers have decided on the factories and that reasonable profits can be made, they have also made up 1442 their minds where they are going to establish their factories, and it would be better if we could make suggestions before they have become hidebound in their theories, and we might start certain industries before they have decided on them themselves.
It seems to me reasonable that there should be a systematic investigation into the imports to this country. We have an excess of imports over exports. If we took a small proportion of the excess it would not alter the fundamental position between imports and exports, but it might make all the difference in the world to the position of the Special Areas. I would suggest, with all the emphasis I can produce, that it is vital at present that we should be in possession of all the facts. I feel in some difficulty about this Special Areas question, because it is always argued by the Minister of Labour, and I should like to hear more from the Minister of Health and the President of the Board of Trade. If I had to choose to which Minister I should address my remarks, it would not be the Minister of Labour. The Minister of Health and the President of the Board of Trade have always done good work, and I have found them willing to inquire into the smallest details of the work of their Departments, and I would like to hear something of the problem of the Special Areas from them.
The Special Commissioner in his report referred to the difficulty sometimes of getting replies from the local authorities in relation to propositions dealing with the various demands which he may make upon them. Sometimes local authorities do not quite appreciate all the help that they might get from the Special Commissioner. If a local authority finds any difficulty in putting forward a plan for site clearance or in negotiations with the industrialists who are the interested parties, they are sometimes a little diffident about seeking the pressure which can be exercised by the Special Commissioner. It is no good telling me, coming as I do from the North of England that, in relation to the establishment of the new steel works at Jarrow, the Government have not exercised a great deal of pressure, but the Government—and we all agree that pressure has been exercised, and we are delighted about it on the Tyne—might exercise a little more pressure when other 1443 people put forward suggestions. I hate to say it, but sometimes, when there is a great deal of public criticism not only in this House but in the country, the Government do take a little more trouble than they do when an ordinary backbencher like myself raises problems. I do not wish to say anything further. I have not tried to make an unduly critical speech, but I feel that there is a great deal more to be done, and I hope that the Government will take notice of what I have said.
§ 8.47 p.m.
Mr. W. Joseph Stewart
I rise to intervene in this Debate for a very few minutes. I do so not merely to criticise, but with a sincere desire that, as a result of the Debate this afternoon, a greater amount of attention will be focused upon the problem of the Special Areas, not only in this House, but in the country generally. I hope that in the near future more will be done to help the Special Areas to rehabilitate themselves than has been done during the last few years. I listened very intently to the speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour, and in that part of his speech referring to Durham County I was very much interested. As I sat here I came to the conclusion that the Durham which the right hon. Gentleman depicted was different from the Durham that I left on Monday morning, because he converted that county from a desolate area to an appreciable extent into a land flowing with milk and honey, and I wondered what miracle had been wrought to bring about such a vast change.
I would like to place the position of Durham County before this House this evening and try to show, by facts and figures, that during the last few years in certain directions the condition in Durham has got appreciably worse under the reign of the National Government. In 1931 we had 48,594 persons in Durham receiving Poor Law relief, entailing an expenditure of £891,481. In 1936, after five years of National Government rule, the number of persons had jumped from 48,594 to 67,900, and the expenditure for Poor Law assistance from £891,481 to £1,128,894; and this year, although there may have been a fall in the number of persons in receipt of Poor Law relief, our figures of expenditure will be £1,275,278, 1444 equal to a poor rate of 8s. 4.2d., against an average in the country of 2s. 8d. in the £. During 1936 we paid in Durham, as I have said, £1,128,894 for Poor Law assistance, for unemployment benefit there was paid £839,135, and for transitional payments during the same period £2,581,971, making a total during that year, in an area with less than a million inhabitants, of £4,550,000, equal to over £4 10s. per head of the population. Surely, in the face of those figures, there is no person on the other side of the House who can, by the greatest stretch of imagination, suggest that an appreciable measure of prosperity has come to Durham County as a whole. We in Durham do not want standard benefit, transitional payments, or public assistance. What our people want in their tens of thousands is work and the chance to earn wages and help to maintain their wives and families.
This Government, in a time of prosperity, and when we are supposed to have a trade boom, ought to be able to cope with the situation and see that more is done in the near future than has been done in the past for these people who at the moment are not in a position to help themselves. I would suggest, in the first instance, that the Government ought to deal with the question of the location of industry, and I submit that up till now thay have not done their job as they ought to have done it in that particular direction. I have some figures from the Board of Trade survey dealing with the question of the location of industry for the years 1932–1936, and that survey shows that nearly 2,200 factories were opened, providing employment for 200,000 persons at their inception, and after two or three years that figure rose to 250,000. Two-fifths of these factories were established in the Greater London area and about one-fifth in the North-West of England.
Greater London got 1,190 new factories giving employment to 95,250 persons, and North-East England got 218 new factories employing 31,350 persons. Nearly one-quarter of the factories were engaged in the clothing group of industries, 13 per cent. in the textile group, 10 per cent. in the engineering group, 10 per cent. in the timber working group, and the light metal working trades, the manufacture of foods, paper and printing, and mixed groups accounted for the bulk of the 1445 remainder. In the clothing group over half were set up in the Greater London area, in the engineering group more than half were set up in the Greater London area, and in the timber working group two-thirds were in the Greater London area, while the same area accommodated nearly 40 per cent. of the new factories in the food group and about two-thirds in the printing, paper and miscellaneous groups.
I want to contrast the North-East coast with the area of Greater London. In 1935, 213 factories were set up in the Greater London area, giving employment to 19,650 persons; in 1936, 261 factories were established in the Greater London area, giving employment to 20,050 persons. During these two years 474 factories were set up, employing 39,700 people, in the Greater London area. Take Durham, Northumberland, and the North Riding of Yorkshire. In 1935 five new factories were established in these areas, giving employment to 2,450 persons; in 1936, 16 new factories were set up in these areas, employing 4,600 people, a total of 21 new factories, giving employment to 7,050 people, as against 39,700 in the Greater London area. Much has been made by the Minister of Labour of the trading estate in the Team Valley. Outside the Team Valley I cannot see how this trading estate is going to help the other parts of Durham to any appreciable extent. The Minister also dealt with what is going to be done for South-West Durham. I submit that up to now the National Government have done nothing whatever for that particular area. They have left South-West Durham to take care of itself. In his report, which has just been issued, the Commissioner, dealing with South-West Durham, says:The problem of the oldest part of the coalfield mainly in South-West Durham has recently received more of the attention which its seriousness undoubtedly deserves. Although most of the health services give some temporary relief and grants from the Special Areas Fund enable considerable development to be made in the field of social services, the only permanent treatment which was applied was that of settlement on the land, the Durham County Council before the appointment of the Commission had been for some time active in its experiments in this field.When we last debated this question it was pointed out that Sir Malcolm Stewart, in his report, voiced the opinion that if we wished to deal with the problem of 1446 unemployment in South-West Durham, the people must be brought back to the land. I submit that at the rate at which you can place people on the land it will take, with an unemployment figure of 9,000 and 10,000, at least 20 or 30 years to place them on the land. Therefore, if South-West Durham has to wait for a measure of salvation until we are able to put people back on the land, there is very little hope of anything being done for them in the near future. The Minister of Labour said he was satisfied with the condition of things in Durham generally. I have some figures for Durham and Tyneside for September of this year, and I find that in Durham County there are 47,937 persons, or 18.6 per cent. of the insured people, unemployed. On Tyneside there are 54,664, or 20.8 per cent. of the insured population, unemployed; that is, a total of 102,579. These percentages of insured persons unemployed—18.6 and 20.8—must be compared with an average for England and Wales of 10.1 per cent. The Bishop Auckland area is in South-West Durham. In that area in September of this year there were 33.1 per cent. of the insured population unemployed, in the Shildon area 32.2 per cent., and in Jarrow, which is supposed at the moment to be somewhat prosperous, 27.2 per cent. of the insured population unemployed. In South Shields, a county borough, there are 27.7 per cent. of the insured population unemployed, and in Sunderland, another county borough, 23.1 per cent.
Surely, in listening to those figures, which are authentic, neither the Minister of Labour nor the Parliamentary Secretary can say that he is in any way satisfied with the conditions which now prevail in Durham County. We have in Durham to-day 12,971 persons who have been unemployed for one year, but less than two; 5,974 for two years but less than three; 4,509 for three years but less than four; 3,369 for four years but less than five; and 9,910 for five years or more; that is to say, a total of 36,733 people who have been unemployed for more than a year. If we get those figures at a time when we are supposed to have a boom in trade, when we have the armaments programme to the fore, and when large numbers of people are being employed, what will happen when trade declines? I suggest that the last state of Durham will be worse than the first.
1447 I was interested to read on page 26, paragraph 95, of the report submitted by the Commissioner, that in 1937, persons over 55 years of age are not being absorbed in employment. In Durham, the Tyneside, and South Shields, in the decrease in unemployment during this year, 55 per cent. took place in the 18 to 34 age groups, while 8.7 per cent. in Durham and Tyneside and 6.5 per cent. in South Wales took place among men aged 55 years and over. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary: What is the Government's policy for dealing with persons who have reached the age of 50 and over? The position in Durham is that those men go to a colliery office, a shipyard, or a factory, and ask for employment. They are asked their age and how long it is since they were employed. They reply that they are 50 years of age or over, and perhaps that it is five or seven years since they worked; and they are told that there is no job for them and that they are not wanted.
I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to visualise, if he can, the position of those men, who have worked perhaps 45 or 50 years in industry and who have given their best in the interests of the country of which they are citizens. They offer all that they have, their labour, and nobody wants it. What a position for any man to be placed in. He can go home, and within the four walls of his own home he can think the problem out for himself, and he can come to only one conclusion, that at the age of 50 or 55 nobody wants him outside his own family circle. Surely, the Government have some proposal to make for dealing with that class of persons. Surely, the Government can come forward with some scheme that will bring a little hope into the lives of those people who have given their best and who are unemployed through no fault of their own, but owing to the breaking down of the Capitalist system.
I wish to deal for a few minutes with the question of transfers. Hon. Members opposite have said on more than one occasion that transfers have not intervened to any appreciable extent in the reduction of unemployment in the Special Areas, and that not many people have been transferred during the last few years. From 1932 to the first half of 1937 there were transferred out of Durham, 17,745 men, 7,224 women, 5,800 boys, and 5,618 1448 girls, making a total of 36,387 people transferred out of Durham in four and a-half years. This system of transference has helped to break up the home life of our county, and altogether it is very undesirable.
In Durham, the county council spends over £4,000,000 annually on social services—education, health, and kindred services which are necessary in the life of the people. We spend this money on the boys and girls who pass through our elementary and secondary schools. When they reach the age of 14 or 15 plus, they leave school, and there is no employment for them. What happens is that they are transferred to other counties and enter industries in areas that have never spent a penny on the social serivces that were necessary to bring them from infancy to the age of 14 or 15 plus. I submit that by doing that, a gross injustice is being meted out to Durham as a county, and that the best is not being done for our young people. They are taken away from their homes at an age when they ought to be under parental control. There have been many instances where boys and girls, through no fault of their own, have been stranded in counties to which they have been sent by the Ministry of Labour and various associations.
I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to deal with the question of the location of industry, and in doing so to remember that Durham has electrical power, skilled and unskilled labour, good rivers, docks and harbours, and a large population which only desires purchasing power to make industries a success there. I ask the Government to see that as far as possible there are introduced into Durham at an early date factories which will turn out shoes, clothing, foodstuffs, and so on, which would be absorbed practically to the extent of 90 or 95 per cent. by the people domiciled in that area if they had the necessary purchasing power. There is no getting away from the fact that the Government have neglected their duty as far as the Special Areas are concerned. They may view the position with smug satisfaction, but that does not alter the fact that through their "do-nothing" policy and their neglect of these areas, the people there are abandoning hope and have come to the conclusion that nobody cares whether they sink or swim.
§ 9.16 p.m.
§ Sir Henry Fildes
This is a very interesting Debate, but we have received very few suggestions as to what would be a good remedy for the condition of things indicated by hon. Gentlemen opposite. We have had a reiteration of the distressed condition of affairs in various parts of the country, but it is idle to deny that a good deal has been done. When the Minister replies he will be on very safe ground, because the present Government have done a great deal more to meet these conditions and difficulties than was ever done in the period from 1929 to 1931. A committee was appointed by the Prime Minister, with the Prime Minister as chairman, in 1930, but it did not meet for four months. Then Dr. Addison, the Minister of Agriculture, put up a scheme for bacon factories, but they were not found to be workable. All sorts of schemes have been put forward, and I invite hon. Members opposite to remember that there was a period when the late Member for Derby and Sir Oswald Mosley were responsible for dealing with unemployment. We all know that they did not find the subject very easy of solution. It is, therefore, ungenerous for hon. Gentlemen opposite to get up one after another and talk as if this Government had done nothing. A good deal has been done, and it should not be forgotten that there are 1,500,000 more people in work than in 1931. I mention these facts so that we can get a reasonable view of the position and not talk as if nothing had been done.
§ Sir H. Fildes
I am just coming to that. I am one of those who are really tired of hearing about these distressed areas and how little they have been prepared to do for themselves. An hon. Gentleman has been speaking about Maryport and asking what the Government were doing about the harbour there. There are hundreds of people drawing unemployment benefit in Maryport. Why not get these people organised and get them to repair their own harbour, rather than wait for the Government to step in? God helps those who help themselves, and if more were done in that direction, it would be a practical way towards solving 1450 the problem. The hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) asked about my own constituency. I have a great grievance there. In my opinion, the whole policy of distressed areas and the way in which they are dealt with is wrong. I have in my constituency a little community of 200 people in which the parson, the policeman, the publican, the postman, and the undertaker are the only people who are employed. If I were a mile over the border, I should be a Special Area and should get some help. In Dumfries we used to have tweed factories, and the last of them is going out of existence. A private Member for such a constituency can get no help if he goes to the Government, but those who are labelled with the magic words "Special Area" can get anything they want.
I would ask hon. Members to bear in mind a remark made by the hon. Member for Wallsend (Miss Ward), who touched a vital point in dealing with this problem. When the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) launched his scheme of unemployment insurance, a new condition of things arose in the relation of the State and the workers. We said, and no one would go back on it now, that if the trade unions fixed a rate of wages at which it was not possible for the world to take a man's product, the man should be entitled, if he was married and had two children, to 32s. a week. Therefore, unless we are to have national bankruptcy, work for our own people becomes the first and essential duty of any Government. It does not take a man with an Oxford education to scatter corn on the ground and to clean out a hen coop. We are bringing in from abroad vast quantities of eggs and hens. My Free Trade friends tell me that they are cheaper, but if you add the price that you are paying to the peasant abroad for his eggs and chickens to the price that you are paying to men at home for not cleaning out hen coops and not scattering a bit of corn, you are paying dear for your eggs and chicken.
I have been in the Leicester, Hinckley, and Nottingham area, where one sees hundreds of girls lined outside the Employment Exchanges wearing, in many cases, foreign-made stockings. They want to get cheap stockings, but if you add to 1451 the price of the stockings that are manufactured abroad the price that is being paid for the girl at home for not making them, the stockings are very dear. I support the remarks of the hon. Member for Wallsend that the Government should examine carefully the question of imports into this country, find out what we could make here, and take steps to see that these things are made in this country. The only alternative eventually will be national bankruptcy, because we cannot maintain these millions of people out of work; it is such a strain on our national finances.
I would like to see the whole of the machinery which has been set up to deal with the distressed areas withdrawn. The distressed areas have had a very good innings, but what about the people of Dumfries who are suffering quietly, paying little, and getting nothing? We are told of the millions that Durham has had, but look at the rest of the people of the country. In parts of Dumfries there are 22 per cent. of unemployed, but we cannot get help because we are not scheduled as a Special Area. In common fairness all this business of the distressed areas should be scrapped, and the measure of the needs of each town or area should be the measure of the assistance. It is ridiculous to draw an imaginary line and to deny help to people who are a mile outside a particular area. Hon. Members opposite have been very voluble and very clever in stating their case. They have been most effective in drawing attention to their little Special Areas, with the result that they have received financial assistance and help in all sorts of ways which other areas equally needful have been denied.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ Mr. W. A. Robinson
The hon. Member supported the hon. Member for Walls-end (Miss Ward) in her statement that what people want is work. In my opinion there are a million people who will never work again under the present system. This mechanised age is producing thousands of people who can never hope to find employment. Whether we like it or not, we have to educate our people and teach them how to spend their leisure in this great machine age. Let mankind derive all it can from the machine. Let the machine do the work, let it lessen hours, but educate our 1452 people in the way to enjoy their leisure. The problem of the distressed areas will never be properly solved until the Government accept full and complete responsibility for the able-bodied unemployed. The Minister spoke in tones of immense jubilation of the fact that there had been brought into existence a coordination of financial and industrial interests all working with smoothness to a great common end, to import new industries into the distressed areas. Let me tell the House about one of these great financial interests and how it is working, with Government knowledge. I challenge the Government to deny this statement. I hope the Secretary of State for Scotland will pay attention to it. The House will listen, if the Minister does not.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Elliot)
I can hear every word that the hon. Member is saying.
§ Mr. Robinson
Eighteen months ago a subsidiary financial company engineered from the Bank of England, with a prospectus signed by five important persons, sought to gain and was promised by the Government financial assistance for the creation of a company of glass-makers. Behind it was a German glass manufacturer. The Government had promised to subscribe to it and to let its name appear as guaranteeing the loan; I am not very good at figures, but I believe the amount that was to be called for was a capital of about £50,000. That was quite inadequate and the Government were threatened with exposure in the House for preventing a German company bringing a new industry into the country with national money supporting the venture. The Government won at a price. The price of their victory was to insist that Pilkington's, one of the finest glass-making firms in the world, opened a glass works in Wales, while they could have produced 50 times more in their present works at St. Helens. They did not want to harass the Government, and they agreed to build a factory which was not wanted.
1453 The Minister of Labour says they have introduced a new glass factory in Wales, and he is quite satisfied. Can the Secretary of State for Scotland deny the truth of my statement? If the Minister cannot deny it, will he tell the House that the Government are continuing the same practice and are bluffing the House and bluffing the people of the country by saying that they are introducing new industries when, behind the scenes, there is trickery of the kind that I have described? This is a serious matter, and we do not intend to allow any ribaldry or any satire which may be uttered against Members on these benches to deter us from raising it. We are determined to prove our case and to harass the Government until they do something for these areas.
I will not attempt to quote figures to show the distress in Lancashire. Too many figures have been quoted to-day. A knowledge of the hearts of the people is sufficient to enable us to appreciate the present situation. The Government are simply depending on a temporary boom in trade. They are not attempting to plan against the slump which is bound to come at a very early date. They are permitting the people to be fooled, but they will only be fooled temporarily. This Motion has been moved to-day, in no spirit of recklessness or vote-catching. It is a sincere expression of opinion from which this House and the people outside may understand that we are determined to harass this wretched Government until they do the right thing by the distressed areas which we represent.
§ 9.38 p.m.
§ Colonel Clifton Brown
I had intended to be a listener on this occasion, but as I happen to represent a distressed area like many hon. Members opposite, I, too, should like to put in a word on behalf of my constituency. I was interested in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Fildes), but I cannot agree with him. It seems to me that the problem of the distressed areas is one which requires and which ought to have special attention from the Government, and I must register my disagreement with his view that all this Special Area legislation is wrong. I was even more interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. W. J. Stewart). I will not say that I disagree 1454 with him entirely, but I see things from another point of view. He put forward what I should call a very fair view of what many men in the County of Durham think of the present situation. He ended his speech with a complaint about transference. He said that the people in the counties of Durham and Northumberland felt that when the young men were taken away from there and sent elsewhere, it was unfair to the parents and to the county. Personally I do not take that view.
While I would never push transference to extremes, it seems to me that if these young people can get work elsewhere, it is better for them to go elsewhere and get the work, and having been elsewhere they will return to the counties of Durham or Northumberland all the better for that experience. I think too that probably when other counties have had some experience of them there will be a wider appreciation of how good the Northumbrians and County Durham people are. I do not agree, however, with those who consider that it is easy for these young people to go elsewhere. I know it has been said that people like myself who have gone to public schools and people in that class of life find it easy when they are younger sons to go out to Canada or Australia to make their way. I put it to the House that it is easier for younger sons in that class, who have been accustomed to going to public schools and to leaving home periodically, to make the journey to Canada or Australia than it is for these young people to leave their native county. The young person who has spent all his or her life in a mining village, who has possibly never even been as far as Newcastle or Durham, finds it a much bigger undertaking to go suddenly to London or the South of England. The fact that so many of them are going shows that they want the work, but I know it is a big strain on both parents and children. As I have said, however, I believe they come back to their native county all the better for the experience.
Now I come to the major point made by the hon. Member. He gave us a long list of figures showing how distressed was the county of Durham. I live in the North-West corner of the county, not very far from Consett, and I know that if I am looking for a man to employ I cannot find one. The change in the Consett area 1455 and in that corner of the county where I live has been extraordinary. The lead mines are working now and any other men available are taken up with work on the roads. But the problem is not the same in South-West Durham. I realise that, there, the coal seams have gone. The population cannot shift, and there is no work left for them. The problem is really more a problem of transport than anything else. It is probable that we shall never again see the amount of work available there, which existed when the mines were flourishing, but if we could provide housing elsewhere or provide transport, many of these men around Bishop Auckland and South-West Durham might be employed elsewhere. I commend to the attention of the Government consideration of these problems of transport and housing.
I turn from the county of Durham to my own constituency, and there one finds a problem which has not been touched on by the Minister at all. There is a village, I think, in the constituency of the hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Sexton), called Tow Law. That is a derelict place with very little future. I have in my constituency a village which is in just the same position, called Halt-whistle. The hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. R. J. Taylor) used to oppose me there. These are villages from which the coal-mining industry has gone, and there is no other work available. They are black spots. What is the Ministry doing about them? In the report of the Special Areas Commissioner these villages are only mentioned once. The only reference to them is to the effect that they had a military summer camp there last year and that next year they may have another. But what is the plan of the Ministry for dealing with these black spots? They are little circles of distress which have not been touched by the present improvement.
I think it time the Government made a special survey of places like Haltwhistle. It is no good leaving them as they are, steadily getting worse and their inhabitants losing all hope. Such measures as have been taken have actually damaged such places. The Government established the Team Valley Estate and provided special advantages for industries going there, and when those ad- 1456 vantages are available in Team Valley, who is going to start an industry in places where there are no such advantages? Who is going to bring an industry to a place like Haltwhistle when Government money has been spent in attracting industries to Gateshead? As the position there has been definitely worsened by Government action, surely it is up to the Government to see what can be done for such villages as I have mentioned.
I was distressed by the Minister's statement when I heard nothing definite about the older men. Those of us who are acquainted with these decimated places know that they are being left with nothing but the older men, with large families. These men have no special training and no special aptitude in getting other work, and are apparently left high and dry. I recognise that the report of the Commissioner tells us that that is one of the problems which he thinks requires attention. We ought to have a statement from the Minister of Labour saying that he is approaching this problem and has a plan and hopes to do something for these men. As far as I can see, the best way is to put them on the land. They are most of them expert, gardeners. I employ one of them. He was unemployed for seven years and was 50 years old when I took him. I got him from a distressed area in my constituency. What a miner does not know about gardening is scarcely worth knowing. I used to have to buy a lot of my vegetables, but I never buy any now, and very often have many to sell. Therefore, that miner of 58 has done very well.
Although I have criticised the Government, I would not minimise the great improvement that has taken place throughout the area. I am not fearful of the future. Rearmament has had its effect. There are many jobs which have been postponed on account of rearmament. Many road works for which we have been waiting in the North have been held up, and I presume they will come on when rearmament slackens down. The great bulk of rearmament is bound to go on for three or four years yet on Tyneside, thereby providing work. I look forward with hope to the future, and if the Minister will do something for my particular distressed village, Haltwhistle, I shall be very pleased.
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Price
I want to deal with one subject which has been only partly dealt with to-day. We have been speaking about Special Areas and distressed areas, but we have not said anything about those areas which are likely to become very distressed areas and even Special Areas before a few more years have past. I would call them potential Special Areas, and my constituency is one of them. Although at the present time there is employment of a kind there, and unemployment is less, I undertake to say that the prospects of that area are infinitely worse than those of South Wales. South Wales has lost many of its markets through industrial changes, but South Wales at least has its coal. In the Forest of Dean we may have some markets, and the trade with them may be somewhat better than it was a year or two ago, but we have only a very short life because of the wasting industrial asset upon which the whole of our industrial prosperity, such as it is, has been built.
Unless we are very careful, unless we plan for the future, we shall see distressed areas and industrial black spots scattered about in areas where we do not see them now. This is a very serious matter, in view of the fact that there has been attracted into areas like the Forest of Dean a considerable industrial population. In my area the local authorities have been induced, and even pressed by the Government to spend money on public works of all kinds, housing, sewage schemes, etc., and are still being pressed to do so, although the whole industrial basis upon which the rateable value is fixed is going to disappear before a few years are up. That is very serious. My hon. Friend the Member for King's Norton (Mr. Cartland), with much of whose speech I agree, seemed to show that this is a question to be dealt with nationally. You cannot take the distressed areas and deal with them one way and the Special Areas and deal with them another way, and leave other areas untouched. Many speeches from the other side of the House have admitted that fact in one way or another.
This situation is the more serious in view of the fact that the indebtedness of the local authorities is increasing. In the Forest of Dean the indebtedness is nearly £500,000 for public works and housing, 1458 and a further £300,000 is being demanded by the county council and Departments of the Government, to bring the sewage and housing schemes up to date. There was a very interesting article in the "Times" recently on this subject. The "Times" seems to have taken a line rather of its own in this matter. I will quote one short passage:It is rash to encourage further house building where a natural term is set to the life of existing industries, unless plans are made to bring new means of livelihood within the reach of the people.That is a perfectly sound point of view. It is not only of the Special Areas and of the distressed areas but of the other areas which are the potential black spots of the future, that we must think. The question of attracting new industries must be faced up to. We must see to it that there is not a concentration of light industries in one spot, a question which we discussed last Wednesday week. We have to see to it that the concentration in one area does not prevent the filling up of the industrial vacuum in other areas. It is not merely a question of attracting industries under such Acts as the Special Areas Act, but measures must be taken to deter industries from going to those places where they are not wanted. I will not pursue the matter further except to say that there are two things the Government must see to: (1) The artificial distinction between Special Areas, distressed areas and other areas must be done away with, and the problem must be dealt with nationally; (2) There must be an industrial survey of the country to see where the industrial black spots of the future are likely to develop. Finally, if we are going to try to attract new industries to the Special Areas and those areas that are likely to be black spots in the future, we must take steps to prevent them from going to areas where they are not wanted. That means far greater public control of industry than the Government seem inclined to take, but if they really mean business, they will have to tackle that question in the future.
§ 9.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Attlee
My hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr. Whiteley) moved this Motion in a speech which showed detailed knowledge of the problem of one of the distressed areas, and the hon. Member for East Rhondda (Mr. Mainwaring), who seconded, developed the characteristic 1459 features of the problem in another distressed area. I am not a representative of a distressed area. I want to deal rather with the problem of which those distressed areas are only examples. I thought the Minister of Labour, in replying to the Motion, tried to prove too much. The work of the Commissioners was never considered to be a complete answer to the problem of the distressed areas. That proposal was put forward definitely as something experimental. If one reads the speeches made at the time, it will be seen that the present Prime Minister and others indicated that an experiment was being applied to certain Special Areas in order to get special experiments carried out. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman rather defeated himself, because he tended to put up an answer to this Motion by saying, "We are doing one thing here and a little bit there. We have got the Team Valley Estate, and we have something else at another place." He really took on a bigger burden than he can possibly carry, and I thought showed a certain lack of proportion.
The right hon. Gentleman made a great feature of the amount of money being spent. He added it up and brought it to £13,500,000, a considerable sum. [Interruption.] Yes, that was the total of the commitments; they have spent only £4,000,000. With a population of 2,750,000 in those areas, that works out at only £5 a head on commitments, and this is not a question of temporary relief, but of the introduction of new industries. What has been done does not amount to as much as he tried to make out, and he was a little unwise to stress it so much. We have in our Motion frankly recognised that good work has been done by the Commissioners. A vast amount of ambulance work is needed in dealing with an old problem like this. The reports, which I read with great care, record many extremely useful activities, some of them State, some of them municipal, some of them in joint working between State and voluntary organisations. I think it is unfortunate, when the Opposition did recognise the good work which has been done, that we should have been treated to a kind of paean of triumph from the Minister of Labour. He imagined that fact to be an admission that nothing more needed to be done, and I think that there, as elsewhere, he showed a very great lack 1460 of proportion. The Commissioners show a much more sober spirit. The English Commissioner does not claim to have done more than assist in the solution of the problem, and in his report there is a full recognition of the effects of the neglect in the past.
We in our Motion have concentrated on one of the major problems of the present day, the problem of instability. The Minister of Labour did not really deal with the main problem, only with particular instances; but instability is the outstanding feature of the present industrial system. In a disorganised and competitive community like ours there is, first, the instability which affects individuals. We all know instances of it, and the distressed areas are full of them. It is the instability which attaches to the conditions of all who depend upon their labour for their livelihood. There is the fear lest something personal, or something quite impersonal, may suddenly take away from them the whole possibility of earning a livelihood. It may be a technical change, it may be a change in markets, or it may be a decision by some body of capitalists that a little more profit can be made elsewhere. Every time that happens there is a greater or smaller loss to the community; every time there is a weakening of one cell in the body politic.
What we are asking the Government to give more attention to is the problem of the sudden destruction of the economic basis of whole communities by a change in industrial conditions, and that is, in its present form, a comparatively new problem. I grant that in the past we have had instances of trading leaving a district, and other changes have occurred. The more settled a community is, the more deeply the roots of the people are driven into a particular area; the more developed a civilisation is the greater the severity of the change. We had the example given to-day by the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson) of the change from coal to oil. A decision by some capitalist concern may wreck a village, a town, or even a whole region. That condition was recognised some time ago, but it has not been faced. Our complaint is that the Government are not really facing that problem. It is not our case that industry should be made completely static; there must be change, but 1461 the point is that if we want to avoid serious loss, there must be foresight and planning for that change.
I was re-reading to-day a speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). Whatever else he may be, he is a man of vision and able to put things in a vivid way. I was re-reading the speech which he made when he was introducing the Derating Bill, in which he showed very clearly the kind of double loss that occurs owing to this instability. He said:We frequently see industry shifting outside heavily rated areas and starting afresh, with needless capital outlay, in green meadows, without population or communication, and then they demand motor roads, they demand new houses.Then he pointed to the other side, to the loss of social capital invested in the old areas, and said:Here it is that the working people have their homes, their institutions, their schools, their churches, their chapels, their recreations, their shops, their gas and water connections. How much better to bring industry back to the necessitous areas than disperse their populations at enormous expense and waste.The right hon. Gentleman was putting the problem, and the remedy he proposed then was derating, but I think it is common ground that derating failed to cure the distressed areas. To use the phrase which he is fond of, one has to think of "the years which the locust hath eaten" since 1927. What has disturbed the people of the distressed areas? The point that I would stress here was made just now by the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Price), and that is that we are dealing with an immediate problem, but at any time that problem may come to us in a new form. We have at the present time a considerable shifting of industry due to the great development of armaments. When this armament race comes to an end, we shall be left with new Merthyr Tydfils, with new derelict areas up and down the country.
This country is full of small pockets of unemployment some small and some large. There are areas in Lancashire which are quitte as depressed as any of the other depressed areas. Therefore, this is a problem in connection with which we cannot say, "Here we have a problem of these areas, and a Minister of Labour and his Commissioners are going to deal with it." It 1462 is a continuing problem arising out of modern conditions. One has to remember that there is a special feature of these areas; that is, the undue concentration of particular industries. When we have large munition works we may get exactly the same thing coming up again. From these benches we have again and again stressed the need for industrial planning and localisation of industry. I say that this country to-day is suffering because our advice was ignored. The point is brought out very well in the Commissioner's report. Sir Malcolm Stewart constantly stressed the need for considering the social as well as the economic effects of the localisation of industry. Sir George Gillett says:The Government cannot, in my view, especially since the introduction of tariffs and quotas, evade all the responsibility for the localisation of industry. Social, as well as strategic, causes will drive the Government to abandon the laissez faire attitude which has been prevailing up to date.The Import Duties Advisory Committee is to be the independent body to review the schemes of the Iron and Steel Federation from the point of view of their social incidence and the general good of the country. This is a new line for this Committee. He says that if this had been recognised 15 years earlier, much suffering might have been avoided. I am looking back to the speeches which were made when the Import Duties Advisory Committee's suggestions were set up. I find in one of my own speeches and in a speech by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) that we raised this point which the Commissioners are putting forward. If you are going to plan your industry and tackle these problems, there must be some kind of plan from the national angle and not merely the angle of private property. I think experience has shown that a great mistake has been made. The Secretary of State for Scotland, who was then Minister of Agriculture, took the same attitude as Lord Runciman.
Dealing with the Amendment on the Paper of the hon. Member for Mossley, I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is more in favour of our Motion than the views put forward by the hon. Member for Mossley. The right hon. Gentleman thought he was denouncing Socialism, but actually he was denouncing Elliotism. Elliotism is much more like the policy carried on between 1914 and 1918. The 1463 right hon. Gentleman illustrates the difference between Socialism and capitalist collectivism. In our view the Government has never really faced up to the real problem of planning in this country. The work of the Commissioners only touches the fringe, and it deals largely with results. It is dealing with evils that have been subsisting now for a large number of years, and they have now gone very deep. You must always consider the length of time for which a problem has been endured to observe the real way of approaching it. It is a mistake to think these problems are isolated. The hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Fildes) compared the efforts made by the Labour Government in a time of world-wide economic depression with the efforts made by a Government which says that it has restored prosperity.
The Commissioners point out the small fraction of new industries which have gone to the depressed areas, but there is yet the other side of the picture. You cannot deal effectively with depressed areas unless you also deal with the non-depressed areas. The North London area is swollen with industries eating up the fields of Middlesex and extending into Hertfordshire. It is the other side of the picture of a neglected South Wales and a neglected North-East Coast. The hon. Member for Mossley, in his interesting speech, pointed out that these problems could not be dealt with effectively without full Government control. He would like to go back to old-time individualism. That, of course, is not the view of the Secretary of State for Scotland. The hon. Member for Mossley objected very much to some plans which were made in the war, which, he said, resulted in coal being sold at an uneconomic price. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland, when he was Minister of Agriculture, put forward a number of schemes to allow various products to be sold at prices which, according to the hon. Member for Mossley, are quite uneconomic. The right hon. Gentleman believes that industry and agriculture should be organised with some form of planning for the benefit of the community. You cannot plan effectively to deal with depressed areas or other Special Areas if you do not deal with the Special Areas as a 1464 whole. That plan cannot be left even to Sir George Gillett or to the Import Duties Advisory Committee. This is a matter which requires the direction of the Government.
In order to deal with these areas you must not have regard solely to a private profit basis; equally you must not have regard solely to the economic side. You must consider also the social and cultural side. Again, you must consider the strategic side. In this respect, these six years show a terrible neglect of realities on the part of the Government. We have already had the sorry figures given with regard to the distribution of new industries. First of all, Sir Malcolm Stewart tried gentle persuasion and appealed to public spirit. I remember Lord Baldwin making a statement from that Box, but it met with a blank refusal. Now we have Sir George Gillett trying to get these industries in by various tempting offers. The sum total is that only a very small trickle of new industries is coming into the distressed areas. There has been no vigorous drive to build up essential industries in those areas.
We look back and think of the time that was wasted over the Jarrow question, of the time being wasted to-day over the question of calcium carbide, of the very slow development of oil from coal, and of all the major schemes that have been hung up for years. It is obvious that no Commission can provide the remedy. The Minister has always been in the unhappy position of having to answer in this House but of not being able to do anything. It is not the function of one Minister or company. The working of the Defence programme shows the same lack of planning. Armament establishments are being put down in most exposed places, aerodromes stuck down in all kinds of places for reasons one may suspect but cannot find out, food supplies still concentrated in a few very vulnerable ports, a transport system that is very vulnerable in the event of war, and vital arteries like canals and great bridges like the Severn and others about which nothing is being done.
Fundamental problems are not dealt with at all. The fundamental problem of all these areas is the coal industry, which has been sick for 20 years. Every now and again a poultice has been applied, but the sickness has never been fully dealt with. If only that industry could be set 1465 on a new basis, it could give service to the whole community, so that, until we had all the coal we wanted, no miner should go idle. Until we utilise our coal resources and build up our whole fuel industry on a basis of a proper return for the men who do that work, we cannot get a proper recovery of the depressed areas.
We therefore say that the line of approach has not been sufficiently vigorous and has not been directed to deal with the urgent problem. We asked and we ask that there shall be a special Minister for the depressed areas. We do not believe that the problem of the depressed areas can be dealt with by just one Minister, but because the problems are so ingrained in the depressed areas they need a special effort. We say that the question of the distressed areas underlies the whole conception of how to deal with the economic life of this country. That means definite Government. planning. I do not think that the enormous human loss which you have in the depressed areas is yet sufficiently realised. My colleagues on these benches have, with great emphasis, again and again pointed out what is the actual position of the men and women in those areas, but we see that nothing has been done, and still there is tragedy stalking there. I refer above all to the tragedy of the older men, a question which has not really been tackled.
This is not a question of old men, but of men of 35 to 45, and 45 to 55, men who have a great deal more life in them yet, men of the War generation. A great many of that generation were killed; these are the survivors of the War generation, and I think it will be unfortunate if we now allow another great part of that generation—perhaps I am prejudiced, because it is my own generation—to be wiped out. Unless, however, we can get something far more practical for dealing with these older men, we shall have a continuous tragedy in the depressed areas. This is one of those problems that are not susceptible to indirect action. It is extraordinarily difficult to get employers to take these older men; Government action is needed for finding work for these men. Above all, there is the continuous low standard of life throughout these areas, under the means test, especially in view of the rise in the cost of living, is creating a terrible problem.
We are told every now and again from the benches opposite that there is a 1466 danger of another war. I believe hon. Members have ceased to say, "If there is another war"; they now say, "When the next war comes." I prefer so say "if," in the hope that it will never come, but, if that other war comes, you will want all the men in this country. You are already paying a very heavy price for the malnutrition which makes many people inefficient for war service; you will find in the depressed areas a vast number of people who are unfit for peace service. There is one final point that I would like to make. I was interested by what was said by the hon. and gallant Member for Hexham (Colonel Clifton Brown) with regard to the difficulties of transfer. I think that at times we are apt to forget the close ties that bind people in communities, and the enormous difficulty of uprooting them and taking them right away.
There is one thing which I would like to impress upon the Minister, and which should always be present in the minds of all of us. It is that these islands contain, not one nation, but three nations, the English, the Welsh, and the Scots. While, economically, Britain is a unit, and any attempt to make the three countries economically independent is only the dream of a few nationalists, perhaps foredoomed to failure, yet I suggest that political and cultural considerations forbid our giving the sole, paramount weight to mere considerations of economics. In considering the distribution of industry in this country, it may be a little more profitable to produce or manufacture in England than in Wales or Scotland, but that is thoroughly unsound from the point of view of the interests of the country as a whole. The strength of this country lies in its diversity, not in its uniformity. Our natural heritage is enriched because we have these three nations. It is one of the most serious features of the problem of the depressed areas that, whereas in England the old-established depressed areas on the North-East Coast and in Lancashire and Cumberland are to some extent set off by the fact that you have your Yorkshire and your Southern England, in Wales the great weight of the population is in these depressed areas in South Wales, and in Scotland you have that industrial belt which is suffering from depression.
1467 Although you may think that Scottish culture and Welsh culture are being retained in the highlands and hills and mountains of those countries, yet I think it would be an extreme danger to this country if we were to allow what would be a grave economic inequality between the three nations of these islands. The transference to England of boys from Wales and from Scotland on any large scale is not merely a matter of uprooting some individuals or some families; it means that you are gravely jeopardising the national life of Wales and of Scotland. The economic depression of a nation is apt to lead to a spirit of discontent and the attribution of all the ills from which those people suffer to the fact that they are united to a country better off. The continued success of the three nations in Great Britain is an object lesson which the world needs very much to-day, and it would be a tragedy if we failed to get the right economic relationships between them. It is my view that the Government have failed to grapple with the major problem of which the depressed areas are only an example, and that is, that in the modern world you cannot allow economic action to depend on the whims of private individuals. You must, by planning, see where goods can be best produced in such a way as not to help one part of the country at the expense of the rest. Whatever may be done—and a good deal has been done by the Commissioner—there still lies this obligation on the Government, which they have not fulfilled, to deal with the fundamental disharmonies of the economic situation.
§ Mr. Elliot
I think we can sympathise with the feelings of the Philistines, when they brought a prophet to crush the Israelites and then found that the prophet had blessed them, because to-night the Opposition, having brought a Motion of Censure against the Government, have spent their time praising the actions of the Government, and then saying that the Government should have gone further than they have done. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) went a great deal further. What he was specially interested in was national planning and a tariff, and he reproached us with it that the Commissioner had said that, owing to the loss of 15 years, great suffering had been caused. What was the right hon. Gentleman doing 1468 in 1922? Was he co-operating whole heartedly with us in our attempt at planning, to set up a tariff and to create a filter for goods, which he now commends to the House as a good policy, and which he says should be carried further? In 1922—
§ Mr. Elliot
I think we all remember the date of the Protection election, and I think that if we look up the right hon. Gentleman's speeches, we shall not find those whole-hearted declarations in favour of a general tariff. The Opposition have done their utmost to smash up national planning whenever we have brought any proposal forward, and it does not lie in their mouth to claim that we have not done enough on those lines. The right hon. Gentleman wound up with a most eloquent passage, with which we all agree. He referred to the three nations, and said that each had their own contribution to make to our national life, and that, in seeing where industry can be established, we should consider the interests, not only of one part of the country, but the best interests of the whole of our national life. The hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. W. A. Robinson) objected to the diversion of a glass factory to Wales.
§ Mr. Elliot
I put it to the right hon. Gentleman in the terms of the famous statement once made about the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and the late President Wilson. It was the accusation that he had bamboozled the President of the United States so thoroughly that when the time came to debamboozle him he could not do it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limehouse has bamboozled his followers so thoroughly that now that the time comes to debamboozle them, the hon. Member for St. Helens objects. The same thing may be seen in the remarks which were made by the hon. and gallant Member for the Pembroke Division (Major Lloyd George), who tried to bamboozle and debamboozle himself during the course of a single speech—it was a most remarkable thing—by saying, "Of course, what we want is to restore our export markets, to sweep away barriers, 1469 and to do away with all these obstacles to international trade which are now going on." He wound up with an eloquent plea that agricultural production should be fostered, stimulated, and expanded in this country. He knows as well as anybody that there is nothing that can spread greater alarm throughout the world as a whole, and certainly throughout the countries with which we are in the closest tirade relationship now, than the indication that a vigorous policy of agrarian protection, and of intensified industrial protection, is about to be carried on in this country.
§ Mr. Elliot
Very well, the hon. and gallant Member is able to deceive himself in three ways. The Chief Whip says that he is now trying to rebamboozle himself. I have had some experience of this. [Interruption.] I have argued across the Table with the greatest master of this case that exists in this country, or perhaps in the world—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. We have argued this case out very thoroughly, and I do not think that anybody will deny, certainly none of the Members interested in agriculture will deny, that, without agrarian protection corresponding to industrial protection, of which the right bon. Gentleman the Member for Limehouse is now so strong an advocate, it would be possible to maintain or to extend the industry of agriculture in this country.
§ Mr. Elliot
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limehouse and the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Pembroke Division did not advance the main arguments which we have heard during the Debate, because the odd thing about this Debate is that, apart from a certain grievance between the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson), the Debate has been carried on with an air of a real Council of State, that is to say, with the examination by the House of Commons as a whole of a difficult problem in a remarkably calm atmosphere and free from any kind of animosity. Although the right 1470 hon. Gentleman the Member for Lime-house may not have noticed it, the hon. Member for the Mossley Division tried to withdraw his Amendment, and when he asks what my view will be on the Amendment, my view is exactly that of its promoter. I do not intend to vote upon it to-night.
§ Mr. Elliot
Of course the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) has his own private way of bamboozling himself, which I should have thought was quite enough for him to get on with. The argument put forward to-night is that not merely the relatively minor works of the Special Commissioner, however important, should be undertaken, but that further work of greater and more fundamental importance to the nation should be carried out. It is natural that hon. Members who have spoken and reviewed some of the specific points should ask for information with a desire to further the policy of doing all we can for these Special Areas. The hon. Member for Bridgeton, for instance, said it was a mistake to give any assistance to the social services from the Special Commissioner, and he waxed eloquent about the assistance that is being given to the Boys' Brigade and the Girl Guides. Is it a matter of such small importance that the assistance to the social services, which comes to about £200,000 out of a total of £3,500,000, is to be gibed at in the House of Commons? I do not think so. The hon. Member for Bridgeton spoke about his friends who were carrying out voluntary work in the Special Areas, but if none of his friends are officers in the Boys' Brigade or in the Girl Guides, or do not hold any sort of post in any of the social services of this country, I am amazed at his exclusive visiting list.
§ Mr. Elliot
The hon. Member spoke about sewerage and how bad it was to make those grants. I think that to clean up the Clyde from end to end is a work which it is highly desirable to carry out. The hon. Member and his friends have been eloquent on more than one occasion about the squalor and misery of the surroundings of Clydeside and about the impossibility of bringing people to this 1471 area when there is an offence to the eye, the nose and the ear. Surely we all know that the Clyde was a standing scandal, and a thing which no one could regard without aversion, and for the first time we are going to have the Clyde cleaned up. I am reminded of the words of Disraeli that a policy of sewerage is certainly not a policy upon which the Conservative party should turn its back. [Interruption.] I am trying to point out that it is by such things as this that we are trying to bring about what we all desire in the distressed areas.
I notice the hon. Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) sitting there, very respectful. [Interruption.] I will withdraw my remark if it is regarded as being in any way derogatory on my part to pay her a compliment. I was going to quote some references to the trading estates which were made at the time they were being talked about. The hon. Lady was extremely cutting about them. She brought her technical knowledge into play to prove to the House that the trading estates would be of no use and would not be brought into existence for many years to come. She said:I am a trade union official, and I deal with many machine trades, and I know from my own experience that to suggest that a man can take over a ready-made factory shell, and put in machinery to fit it, is fantastic "—How we can all hear the echoes of the hon. Lady's voice—But even so, even on the most optimistic basis, it is going to take three or four years even to get the site cleared, the roads made, the power installed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1936; col. 1103, Vol. 309.]
§ Mr. Elliot
I am surprised at the hon. Lady's exaggeration. I could take the hon. Lady to Hillington, where, from the grass roots up, we have laid out many factory sites, and where two factories are already in operation.
§ Mr. Elliot
I am quoting the site of which I have experience. Besides, it was not one trading estate alone to which the hon. Lady referred; she made a general accusation that such estates would be utterly impossible for many years to 1472 come. For her to try to ride off by reference to the special conditions existing at the Gateshead site is no reply to my argument. I can only say that whatever may be the position at Gateshead, if she will come to the Clydeside I will show her a trading estate which has been developed in a much shorter time than three or four years. I am sure that the hon. Lady is as far wrong in regard to Gateshead as she is in regard to any other of the trading estates.
§ Miss Wilkinson
How many people are employed on the trading estate to which the right hon. Gentleman is referring?
§ Mr. Elliot
There are 850 employed in erecting factories and between 50 and 60 people at work in factories. If the hon. Lady will wait three or four years, I shall be able to show her a very considerable number of people at work. With regard to planning, the hon. Lady made some references to the question which I would not like to quote to the House. It would not be fair to do so, because it is mixed up with some denunciation of the Noble Lord the Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass); but if the hon. Lady is not careful, I will quote it again. There will be plenty more occasions on which this quotation will be extremely appropriate if the Opposition continue to move Motions demanding more planning and more moving of the population about the country.
§ Miss Wilkinson
The right hon. Gentleman is talking a great deal, but he is not telling us how many people have been got to work. Let him get down to the figures.
§ Mr. Elliot
The hon. Lady must not be so extremely sensitive in the matter. I should be ready to give her all the quotations and figures she wanted if there were time. I will give some of the industries which are represented on the trading estate or which have inquired about the special provisions. There are 40 factories planned already, and only to-night the Commissioners have decided, because of the success of the estate, to extend the number very considerably. I have a list of 20 or 30 factories which have been attracted to the Scottish Special Areas. They include factories concerned in the manufacture of shoes, furniture, building materials, clothes, shop fittings, electrical articles, asbestos, cement, and so on.
§ Mr. Elliot
I have already given those figures. The estate will ultimately employ some 12,000 to 15,000 persons. The hon. Lady is very difficult to satisfy. It is not only on one estate, but on many estates where these works are being erected, and they are not merely in Scotland alone. The hon. and gallant Member for North-West Camberwell (Major O. Guest) gave the House an interesting example of an estate in his knowledge where he himself is going to undertake the development of a new industry. It is true that it may not be large—perhaps a matter of 150 people—but adding all these things together, they make for employment and that very diversity of industry which the hon. Member for Lime-house recommended to us so eloquently in his speech.
We have stood for the general policy of the absorption of labour, and on our general policy we are prepared to put our record against that of hon. Members opposite. None of us forget that when they were in office one man lost his job every minute, and the figures worked up to two men every minute towards the end of their time. It is not only that general policy which is under discussion to-night, but the problems of the Special Areas and the steps that have been taken for their relief.
The hon. Member for Bridgeton put some general questions to which I should like to reply at the end if I have time. But I wish to deal first to some extent with questions of other hon. Members. The hon. Member for Everton (Mr. Kirby) and some other Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Fildes), spoke of the plight of areas which are not Special Areas which, either from the point of view of the percentage of unemployment or from the point of view of geographical proximity are close to areas which are getting assistance. It shows how far we have come in these Debates that this question can be raised at all. When the distressed areas were at their worst nobody thought of questioning that assistance should be given to them. The position of the distressed areas in many cases has modified very considerably, and now the question arises whether it is desirable to stress so much the needs of the statutory Special Areas or to consider also the claims of other areas. I 1474 claim that it represents the success of the Government's policy and not the failure of it that Members should now ask whether we do not think that there are other areas now requiring attention.
§ Mr. Elliot
I sit for a Glasgow Division, where we are in the same position as Liverpool, and, of course, I am not satisfied with the position there or in Liverpool. Of course, further measures will have to be taken and are being taken to deal with it. I am now dealing with the point that there are areas, black patches, where little improvement has come to pass and where, unless special measures are taken, it will be impossible for improvement to come in the near future, or even at all. An hon. Member gave figures and said that the position was worse in the Special Areas in Scotland, and more particularly in the Lanarkshire coal area, than in 1931. My figures do not square with those that the hon. Member gave. They show that there is a larger number of insured persons in that county than in 1931 and that the percentage of unemployment, which was 33 per cent. in 1931, has fallen to 17 per cent. in the current year. There is a conflict of figures. I am always glad to examine any figures given me by the hon. Member, but I merely put it to the House that there are other figures which ought to be taken into consideration.
§ Mr. Elliot
I say that there were in October, 1931, 514,630 insured workers in the county and in October, 1937, 532,280, and the percentage of unemployment had fallen from 33 in 1931 to 17 in 1937. These figures present a different aspect which also should be kept in mind. The hon. Member challenged the Minister of Labour, who said that there were areas, even in the distressed areas, where the position had improved so that the index of unemployment was actually lower than that for the country as a whole. I could give a case in Renfrew where the percentage of unemployment has fallen to 3.7.
§ Mr. Elliot
Yes. The hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Anderson) put some questions to me, more particularly as to whether the Commissioner could negotiate with a company, if it was formed, or with a private individual. A final agreement can only be made by the persons who carry on the industrial undertaking, but the Commissioner is free to discuss the position with individuals who would be concerned in the management if it were established. The hon. Member for Wallsend (Miss Ward), in a most interesting speech, brought up several points which more directly concerned the Minister of Health. On the point about the statutory social services in the area and whether they have suffered from the depression, I shall certainly discuss with the Minister of Health her suggestion that a special inquiry can be made into conditions in the area. The point as to the special nourishment of mothers is also, of course, one of the points of policy of the Government in connection with the Milk Bill which will shortly be laid before the House.
The hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Stewart) came back to the question of Durham and asked whether it would be possible to bring men back to the land. If and when the hon. Member and his friends are willing to extend to the producer on the land the same reasonable remuneration that they claim so consistently for the worker underground. [Interruption.] I know it is an unpopular thing to stand up for reasonable remuneration for the primary producer, and the hon. Member for Seaham and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander) know the sort of campaign that was launched against me in Glasgow on this very point. We are not prepared to take any lectures from hon. Members opposite on the primary producer. We know that, in theory, they are willing to give reasonable remuneration to the primary producer, but as soon as he looks like getting anything they are loud in their denunciations.
The arguments brought forward by the hon. Member for Bridgeton were, I think, arguments to which the House will desire me to refer. He asked first whether there was any hope, whether there was any 1476 improvement, and whether the great productive power of modern industry was being used for the benefit of the people. He further asked us what was our philosophy in this matter, what were our ideas, and for what were we asking hon. Members to vote in the Division Lobby to-night. It would be folly for me to attempt to give any details or statistics showing the improvement in general conditions, but I have here a document which the hon. Member knows well. It is the report of the medical officer of health for the city of Glasgow, in which he will find striking figures as to the improvement in the conditions of the poorest of the young people in that city which has taken place, even in the lifetime of the hon Member and myself—and neither of us is yet an old man.
He asked what was the underlying philosophy in the policy of the Government. First of all, our policy is a policy of security, and we say that we have been able to further that policy through the social services, which we have developed at least as well as any other country in the world and better than some countries. Secondly, we desire through security and trade to bring about the very things which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limehouse desired, that is, to provide that the people should not be swept away by the hasty decisions of this or that group either within our own country or outside it. Thirdly, we wish to do our best to work under conditions which will enable the second industrial revolution to avoid the errors of the first. In the first industrial revolution, a great outburst of wealth admittedly led to great social and moral evils from which we are suffering still to-day. We desire to make sure that in the second industrial revolution, the worst of these evils are got rid of. They can be got rid of in time, but nobody can get rid of evils entirely and all at once.
The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), in a most eloquent speech, only last night referred to the evils which arise from proletariat dictatorships as well as other dictatorships of one kind and another. [Interruption.] There is no danger that I will talk out the Motion. I know at least as much about Parliamentary procedure as the hon. Member for Seaham. But I do not want this Debate to close without saying that we wish to go forward to a properly organised 1477 democracy, in which people will have property as well as security. That is the task which lies before this party in the future. That is the desire of the National Government, and it is a desire which we believe will be helped and not hindered if the House rejects the Motion of Censure which is before us to-night.
That, whilst this House appreciates the work of the Commissioners for the Special
Areas, it profoundly regrets the continued failure of His Majesty's Government to recognise that the plight of these areas is but an indication of the unstable foundations of the present system, and that more fundamental measures are required to enable them to take their proper place in the economic life of the nation and bring to their afflicted communities a definite prospect of reviving industrial activity.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 140; Noes, 352.1481
|Division No. 64.]||AYES.||[10.59 p.m.|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Groves, T. E.||Paling, W.|
|Adams, O. M. (Poplar, S.)||Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Parker, J.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Price, M. P.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Hardie, Agnes||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Banfield, J. W.||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Ridley, G.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Hayday, A.||Ritson, J.|
|Barr, J.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Batey, J.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)|
|Benson, G.||Hicks, E. G.||Sanders, W. S|
|Bevan, A.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Sexton, T. M.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hollins, A.||Shinwell, E.|
|Bromfield, W.||Hopkin, D.||Short, A.|
|Blown, C. (Mansfield)||Jagger, J.||Silkin, L.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Silverman, S. S.|
|Buchanan, G.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Burke, W. A.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Cape, T.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Chater, D.||Kirby, B. V.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kirkwood, D.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Lathan, G.||Stephen, C.|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Lawson, J. J.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Daggar, G.||Leach, W.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Davidson, J. J. (Mryhill)||Lee, F.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Daviss, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Leonard, W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Leslie, J. R.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Day, H.||Logan, D. G.||Viant, S. P.|
|Debbie, W.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Walkden, A. G.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||McEntee, V. La T.||Walker, J.|
|Ede, J. C.||McGhee, H. G.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||McGovern, J.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||MacLaren, A.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Foot D. M.||MacNeill Weir, L.||White, H. Graham|
|Frankel, D.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Gallacher, W.||Mander, G. le M.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Gardner, B. W.||Maxton, J.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Messer, F.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Milner, Major J.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Montague, F.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Nathan, Colonel H. L.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Naylor, T. E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Mr. Mathers and Mr. Adamson.|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Blaker, Sir R.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Boothby, R. J. G.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Bossom, A. C.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Balniel, Lord||Boulton, W. W.|
|Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W.||Barrio, Sir C. C.||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Baxter, A. Beverley||Bower, Comdr. R. T.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Beamish, Rear-Admiral T P. H.||Boyce, H. Leslie|
|Amory, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Bracken, B.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Lon.)||Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Brass, Sir W.|
|Assheton, R.||Beit, Sir A. L.||Briscoe, Capt. R. G.|
|Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Bennett, Sir E. N.||Brocklebank, Sir Edmund|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Birchall, Sir J. D.||Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Bird, Sir R. B.||Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)|
|Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Blair, Sir R.||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)|
|Bull, B. B.||Gower, Sir R. V.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.|
|Burghley, Lord||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Markham, S. F.|
|Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.||Grant-Ferris, R.||Marsden, Commander A.|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Granville, E. L.||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M|
|Butcher, H. W.||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Maxwell, Hon. S. A.|
|Butler, R. A.||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.|
|Caine, G. R. Hall.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Grigg, Sir E. W. M.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Cartland, J. R H.||Grimston, R. V.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)|
|Cary, R. A.||Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)||Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)||Mitcheson, Sir G. G.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N. W.)||Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Guinness, T. L. E. B.||Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Moreing, A. C.|
|Channon, H.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.||Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)|
|Christie, J. A.||Hannah, I. C.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry|
|Clarke, F. E. (Dartford)||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)|
|Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Harbord, A.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Hartington, Marquess of||Munro, P.|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Harvey, Sir G.||Nall, Sir J.|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Nicholson, G. (Farnham)|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.|
|Conant, Captain R. J. E.||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.|
|Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk N.)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. A.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. A, Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs)||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Herbert, Capt. Sir S. (Abbey)||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Higgs, W. F.||Patrick, C. M.|
|Cox, H. B. Trevor||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Peake, O.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Peat, C. U.|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Holmes, J. S.||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Crooks, J. S.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Peters, Dr. S. J.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Hopkinson, A.||Petherick, M.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Cross, R. H.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Pilkington, R.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Plugge, Capt. L. F.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Porritt, R. W.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Hulbert, N. J.||Power, Sir J. C.|
|Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Hunter, T.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Hutchinson, G. C.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Dawson, Sir P.||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|De Chair, S. S.||James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Rankin, Sir R.|
|De la Bère, R.||Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Denville, Alfred||Jones, L. (Swansea W.)||Rayner, Major R. H.|
|Dodd, J. S.||Keeling, E. H.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Doland, G. F.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)|
|Donner, P. W.||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H.||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Drewe, C.||Kimball, L.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Latham, Sir P.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Duggan, H. J.||Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)||Rowlands, G.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S. W.)||Royds, Admiral P. M. R.|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Lees-Jones, J.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Leigh, Sir J.||Russell, Sir Alexander|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Levy, T.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Lewis, O.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Liddall, W. S.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Lipson, D. L.||Salt, E. W.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Little, Sir E. Graham-||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Emery, J. F.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Sandeman, Sir N. S.|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Lloyd, G. W.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Loftus, P. C.||Sandys, E. D.|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Lyons, A. M.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.|
|Errington, E.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Savery, Sir Servington|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Scott, Lord William|
|Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)||McCorquodale, M. S.||Selley, H. R.|
|Everard, W. L.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Fildes, Sir H.||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Fleming, E. L.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Fox, Sir G. W. G.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||McKie, J. H.||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Furness, S. N.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'if'st)|
|Ganzoni, Sir J.||Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley)||Macquisten, F. A.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Gledhill, G.||Magnay, T.||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)|
|Gluckstein, L. H.||Maitland, A.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Smithers, Sir W|
|Somerset, T.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)||Wells, S. R.|
|Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.||Titchfield, Marquess of||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Spears, Brigadier-General E L.||Touche, G. C.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Spens. W. P.||Train, Sir J.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)||Tree, A. R. L. F.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.||Wise, A. R.|
|Stewart, William J. (Belfast, S.)||Turton, R. H.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Storey, S.||Wakefield, W. W.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Stourton, Major Hon. J. J||Walker-Smith, Sir J.||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan||Wragg, H.|
|Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Strickland, Captain W. F.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Warrender, Sir V.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.||Waterhouse, Captain C.||Captain Margesson and Lieut.-|
|Sutcliffe, H.||Watt, Major G. S. Harvie||Colonel Kerr.|
|Tasker, Sir R. I.||Wayland, Sir W. A|
Question put, and agreed to.