§ 5.10 p.m.614
§ The Chairman
I ought to direct attention to the next Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Bridgewater (Mr. Croom-Johnson)—in page 3, line 6, at the end, to insert:Provided that the scheme shall include provision for a right of appeal by any person aggrieved on the ground that he has not been approved as a supplier to such body and in such manner as shall be laid down in the scheme.I think it would be convenient to discuss these two Amendments together and then, if necessary, the second Amendment can be put, without discussion, for the decision of the Committee.
§ Mr. Williams
I move this Amendment in consistency with the action which I have taken on many Bills in the last few years when those Bills were designed to enable somebody to say to somebody else, "Thou shalt not work in this or that occupation." I believe in the preservation of the principle of freedom. Every citizen should be entitled to his chance in any industry or profession in which he likes to engage. Until recently he was so entitled. One could enter even the professions of medicine or the law, subject to certain qualifications and the observance of certain rules of behaviour. This paragraph provides that the scheme may prohibit the payment of contributions in respect of lime or basic slag purchased from any person other than an approved supplier. Clearly the scheme will lay down the conditions under which a person may become an approved supplier, but certain persons who have been in this business before may be deprived of the status of approved suppliers. That, I think, is wrong.
On the other hand, I realise that if we grant subsidies in respect of certain commodities those commodities will need to be carefully defined according to certain standards, percentages and so forth. Accordingly there may be people who will not apply the scheme, and the appropriate penalty on such people is that they should be taken off the list. In that case, the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Croom-Johnson) may be a better solution than my proposal. My proposal is that in no circumstances shall anybody be entitled to decide by whom this subsidised material is to be supplied. I am indifferent as to the form in which the rights of the individual are protected, as long as they are protected, but I want to 615 make sure that we are not putting out of business a number of perfectly innocent ordinary citizens who are trying to earn their living.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Croom-Johnson
I am opposed to the Amendment which has been moved by my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams), and the reason why I am opposed to it is, first of all, that this scheme is to provide for the distribution of public money, and accordingly it seems to me that there must be some safeguard under the scheme as to whose hands the money goes through. There is a second ground, which, from the agricultural point of view, I am informed, is much more serious, namely, that the term "lime" does not necessarily mean the same thing in every place, neither does it mean that every farm or holding will be benefited by the kind of production which would be of great assistance even to a neighbouring farm, much less so to a farm or farms in neighbouring counties. Accordingly, it is of the most vital importance, not merely that the individual to whom the money goes should be, from that point of view, an individual of whom, broadly speaking, we may approve but we want to be certain that the commodity which he supplies is supplied in accordance with the necessities of the particular farm or holding on which the stuff is to be put on the land. I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that there is the possibility, to say no more, where public money is involved, that you might conceivably, in no doubt very rare instances, get cases in which an inferior article has been supplied, it may be by some agreement or shutting of the eyes, and there may be some possibility of public money not really achieving the object for which it has been voted. I do not think that that would be a very frequent instance, but the scheme must, I submit, deal with such a possibility, and if my hon. Friend succeeded in getting this paragraph cut out, that danger would not be safeguarded at all. That being so, I am, as I have said, opposed to this Amendment.
But there is a case, I think, for seeing that the individual who is not put on the approved list has some sort of protection. Again, this may be a very rare instance, but one must visualise the possibility, for example, of a small corn 616 chandler in a country town finding himself not on the approved list. The word will get round in a moment of time, and he will not be able, perhaps, to succeed in carrying on the rest of his business because it is known that he is not on the approved list for one particular commodity, and as a result of this people will look down their noses at him, or even, as a pure matter of convenience, desiring to have one supplier for all the things of the type which they are going to use instead of two or three, they will take their custom elsewhere. In those circumstances I have put down an Amendment in an attempt to meet the difficulty. I have purposely put it down without saying in terms to whom such an appeal ought to go, again for two reasons. The first is because, possibly, when the scheme has been drawn up and considered in great detail, it may be that the appeal tribunal would be a different tribunal in different districts or different parts of the country, but also for another reason.
I suggest that possibly the Minister himself may examine this question of an appeal and see whether we should have an appeal throughout the country to the same tribunal, and, if so, I would suggest that the appeal should be to the agricultural committees which were set up under the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1923. Those Members of the House who are interested in those bodies will see, if they look at Section 57 and other Sections of that Act, that there is one difficulty. I understand that in some counties there is no agricultural committee, and in those circumstances it may be that the appropriate tribunal to consider appeals would be the Minister himself. I put those two points for consideration. I hope sincerely that the Committee will not pass the Amendment of my hon. Friend and that favourable consideration may be given in due course to my Amendment.
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Holdsworth
I hope the Minister will accept one or other of these Amendments. The principle which we are continually laying down in this House as to the restriction of a person's freedom to buy and sell what he likes is getting us into a very dangerous position. We have had questions only to-day about cases in which we are taking away, bit by bit, a person's freedom. I read a speech the other day by the hon. Member for 617 Elland (Mr. Levy), talking about all these boards that have been set up and asking what it would be like under a Socialist Government. It would be impossible under any Socialist Government for them to create more hoards than has been created during the past six years, or more restrictions on individual freedom. No Socialist Government would do it. There is less danger of their doing it than we have found during the past six years. Here we have another case of saying that "A" shall be able to sell lime and basic slag, but that "B" shall not. I remember raising a question about the producers of potatoes, and we caused a storm in the country over it. Licences were taken away from men who for 30 years had been conducting a legitimate business.
I am not convinced. even by the hon. and learned Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Croom-Johnson), and I appreciate his point that where public money is being given away you should perhaps have some sort of control, but I am not certain that control will make even for efficiency of distribution or for cheapness of the material. It does not by any means follow that because you have got control you will get cheap prices. I am still an individualist, and I still believe in competition, because it gives you greater efficiency and, in the end, the cheapest price. Very often, outside this Chamber, people say, "Holdsworth, you are quite right," but when the bell rings, all, like a flock of sheep, follow the Government. In fact, I think that more and more this House is developing, as I said the other day, into a complete set of automata. Let us have some provision here to prevent the possibility of cases arising in which, because a man has not got curly hair, for example, he is crossed off the list for providing lime or basic slag. I take the opportunity every time, there is a further restriction of private enterprise, of sounding a warning note that, although we express pious sentiments about freedom and time and time again protest about dictatorships in other countries, we are really becoming the slaves in this country of a bureaucracy.
Week after week we are proving it on almost every subject that comes up. You will find restriction after restriction, and here are the people who conduct elec- 618 tions and say, "For Heaven's sake, send us back to Parliament to safeguard democracy and freedom against the bureaucracy of Socialism." I agree with the sentiment, but let us be sincere in what we say, and follow it up. I have a great admiration for the Minister of Agriculture, and I have read many of his speeches challenging the autocracy that would be created by a Socialist Government, but let him make a little practical contribution to the theories that he has preached and at least accept one of these two Amendments.
§ 5.26 p.m.
§ Mr. W. S. Morrison
I think, if I may say so, it was a convenient course that you suggested, Sir Dennis, that we should discuss these two Amendments together, because, although their subject-matter is not exactly identical, yet at the same time they cover a certain amount of the same ground. I find it to be a very favourable omen for the success of the Bill, which aims at increasing the fertility of the soil, that somehow or other no Amendment can be moved without the discussion on it branching out and proliferating into a variety of far-reaching economic arguments. We have had, for example, from the hon. Member for South Bradford (Mr. Holdsworth) a warning note which has been uttered with serious emphasis for some time by him. He does manage to combine, in a way which is peculiar to himself and his hon. Friends, a desire for securing Government assistance with a dislike of the machinery by which alone that can be effected.
§ Mr. Holdsworth
I am speaking for myself, but let me say that I have never voted for one penny of subsidy out of public funds for anything since I have been in Parliament.
§ Mr. Morrison
If the hon. Member will consider the various meanings of the word "subsidy," I think he will find that by this tenet of his he has precluded himself from voting for something like 80 per cent. of the legislation which has been passed by this House during the past 20 or 30 years. I appreciate his stubborn independence and his desire to see the freedom and independence of the individual maintained, a desire for which has also been expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams). It would be a bad day for us if 619 that independence ceased to survive in our midst, but 1 would also state that the economic conditions in this country and in the world at large have altered very considerably in certain important respects since the doctrine of which he is so eloquent an exponent first became popular. The fact is that control in many branches of Government activity is absolutely necessary. There is always a variety of people who would like to control things, whether they be agents of the State, as here, or other persons, and we find it in this case clearly necessary, as is recognised by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Croom-Johnson), that if we are to have assistance from public funds, there should be some machinery for seeing that it is dispensed in a frugal and honest fashion.
For that reason, I feel that I could not accept the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon, but at the same time I think there is a great deal in the case that has been put forward by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bridgwater. I think there might arise, in exceptional circumstances, some possibility of injustice or grievance if a man were removed from the approved list of suppliers for no proper cause, either through inadvertence or in some other way. The Clause itself gives power for the scheme to contain proper appeal provisions, because it states that the scheme may:prescribe the conditions subject to which persons may become or cease to be approved suppliers.It is easy under the shelter of those words to provide some proper method of appeal. My hon. and learned Friend is, I think, conscious of the difficulty of saying at this stage what the proper method of appeal should be. I gladly undertake that in the scheme there shall be provisions for an appeal of some sort. I should favour an appeal to the Minister in all cases, for he is responsible to Parliament. If a person is improperly left out of the list of approved suppliers, he should have the right of appeal to a Member of this House who is responsible to Parliament, so that there shall be adequate publicity given to the case and the reasons for the decision can be justified on their merits.
§ Mr. Morrison
It is not a question of subordinates at all. What I apprehend will happen is this: It is intended that any supplier of these materials who is prepared to abide by the understanding as to price shall be entitled to be an approved supplier. There is no question of excluding anyone on any ground except that he is not conforming to the arrangements, for example, by holding up the price too high, or for some other reason of a commercial character. In case there should be anything of this kind I think that it would be wise to provide an appeal to some authority to secure the ventilation of the facts and to secure that nothing is done in the darkness or round the corner, but that everything is administered openly in the public interest.
§ Mr. Croom-Johnson
Will my right hon. Friend consider the desirability of putting in on the Report stage some words which will draw the attention of those who will draft the scheme to the fact that a right of appeal ought to be contained in the scheme itself. The words to which the Minister has called attention are very wide, and even a little vague, and if there could be words inserted at a later stage to include the right of appeal there will be no danger of that right being overlooked by anybody when the scheme is drafted.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Foot
While we appreciate the reply of the Minister, there is a further suggestion that I would like to make. The Minister has given us to understand that he may favour an appeal to the Minister, but before there can be an appeal there must, of course, be a tribunal of first instance. That is to say, the appeal must be from either the Fertility Committee or a branch of the committee. Will it not be possible to include in this scheme not only provisions for an appeal to the Minister or to some other suitable tribunal, but some procedure whereby, before a question of appeal arises, any person whose right to be an approved supplier is in question shall have the opportunity of being heard by the committee or the tribunal of first instance, whichever it may be. It will be unfortunate if we have the kind of procedure in which a man may find himself in the position of being suddenly struck off the list or not put on the list without any reason given for it, and he may 621 have to incur the trouble and even possible expense of an appeal to the Minister.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Mr. W. S. Morrison
I will gladly consider what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Croom-Johnson) has said, but my view remains that the words are wide enough to enable this provision to be made, and I have undertaken to see that it shall be in the scheme. With regard to the point of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot), I would urge him not to take too legalistic a view of the problem. I do not think that it is a question of appearing before a tribunal of first instance and a tribunal of second instance and so on. What I anticipate will happen is that a man will apply in the ordinary way to the committee, and if they do not answer his letter, or if they tell him they will not put him on the list, he can have the right of going to someone else and pointing out the reasons why he should be on the list. That is what I have promised should be done.
§ Mr. Morrison
That would be a matter for consideration in due course. The object we have in mind is to ensure that no injustice is done.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. A. V. Alexander
It seems that the Minister has gone some way to meet the grievance of hon. Members who have put down these Amendments, but what is worrying me is how far the House will be informed by the Report stage of the exact words which are to be used. Under a subsequent Sub-section all these schemes or regulations will merely be laid before Parliament and will become operative within 28 days unless there is an annulling resolution. The Minister is aware that in that procedure it is impossible to get an Amendment made which may be vital to those of us who want to secure that in the selling of these things for private profit the regulations are not used to set up monopolies. It is the setting up of monopolies for private profit that we object to, and not the regulation of an industry that requires regulation. If we are to be able to check 622 such monopolies we ought to have the thing properly safeguarded before the Bill leaves the House. Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake that on the Report stage he will tell us exactly what are the words he proposes to put in the regulations?
§ Mr. W. S. Morrison
All I can undertake to do is what I have said that I will do. I will gladly see between now and the Report stage whether any additional words are required in the Bill. My own view is that they are not, but I will undertake to secure that there shall be an appeal to the Minister.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. H. G. Williams
I have been converted by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Croom-Johnson), that his Amendment is better than mine, and I will ask leave to withdraw mine. I am not satisfied, however, that the Minister has decided on the right course. I would press him to put words in the Statute to make sure that there is no doubt. The assurance which he has given us is only binding on him, for it cannot bind his successor in the drafting of the regulations. It is not enough that he should give an assurance that he will make sure there is a right of appeal in the scheme. We must have words in the Statute which make it clear that there shall be a right of appeal, and I would strongly urge my right hon. Friend to do that on the Report stage. I rather gather he will consider doing that, and having regard to that, I beg to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ Mr. W. Roberts
I beg to move, in page 3, line 12, after "information," to insert:including the cost of production and distribution.In moving this Amendment I have not in mind so much the case of basic slag as that of lime. The two things are produced in different ways. Basic slag is produced by mass production by large firms and is sold over large areas at much the same price irrespective of the distance from the point of origin. It will be easy for the Fertility Committee to come to a conclusion as to what is a reasonable price for basic slag, and I take it that it will be roughly one price for the whole 623 country, with allowances for differences in cost of carriage. That is not the position with regard to lime. I move the Amendment with a view to asking the Minister in what way he envisages the fixing of the price above which a subsidy will not be payable. Does he intend to fix a national price? If that is his intention, there is no doubt that price will very soon tend to become the minimum price at which lime in its various grades will be sold to the farmer.
Lime is a bulky article, and for that and other reasons it is manufactured reasonably near to the point at which it must be consumed. It is, in fact, a local rather than a national trade. Does the Minister anticipate that the price for lime will be fixed locally? If so, on what basis will it be fixed, because the cost of production in different districts varies enormously? The type of raw material varies, the method which is applicable varies with the variation in the raw material, and the cost of materials also varies. I would like to ask the Minister, therefore, in the interest of economy on the part of the State and in the interest of farmers, whether it is proposed to work in fairly small areas or whether it is proposed that the prices shall be fixed for large areas or even the whole country? There are rapid developments taking place in the production of lime, and it is possible that with new appliances the costs will be reduced considerably. For these reasons I ask the Minister how he anticipates that the maximum, which will certainly become the minimum price, is likely to be fixed?
§ 5.44 P.m.
§ Mr. Ramsbotham
I appreciate the point of the hon. Member's Amendment and his desire to prevent any undue rise in the price of lime, which desire we profoundly share. He will see that paragraph (b) of the first Sub-section says that the Fertility Committee may prescribe conditions as to the furnishing of information and the production of accounts, books and other documents. These words are wide enough to cover the point which the hon. Member has in mind. The words he suggests are really unnecessary in view of the general terms of the Sub-section. As he knows, there is always the danger, when inserting other words, of producing a result different from that which was intended, and it might 624 limit the effect of the Clause instead of extending it. The actual object of the Clause is to give protection against prices rising above the level which we have negotiated. As my right hon. Friend has said previously, an agreement has been reached to proceed on the basis of 1st May prices, and approved suppliers will clearly have to supply at those prices. When the hon. Member asks me whether it is a national price or a local price, I would remind him that there are many grades of lime, varying not only in chemical content but also according to whether the lime is ground or in lump, burned, slaked and so forth, and that is a matter which we ought to leave to the Land Fertility Committee to deal with.
I do not think we could have a schedule of these prices in an Act of Parliament; we must leave it to the Fertility Committee, bearing in mind that the 1st May prices are to be the stable point for the time being. If any suppliers do not satisfy the Land Fertility Committee that they are complying with the undertaking, then such suppliers will run the risk of being removed from the approved list, and would lose all sympathy in being; so removed. I hope the hon. Member will be content with this explanation and realise that we have here a common-sense and satisfactory way of dealing with the matter. Our object is precisely his object, and I think it will be achieved under the wording of the Clause as it stands and the arrangements we have made. He also wishes that information should be obtained about the cost of distribution. That is a difficult matter, depending on road or rail haulage charges, or farm cart distribution, and it might involve a long investigation. I understand his point is covered by the general character of this Clause, and as he realises, I hope that we have the same objects in view, I trust that he will not see fit to press the Amendment.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Paling
I am inclined to agree that the words of the Clause are sufficient to enable us to get all the information required, but I rather gather from the Minister that so long as prices remain as they are and do not go up nothing will happen, because there will be no reason to ask for the information. But what is to happen if there is a huge increase in production and the price of lime goes down? If in 12 months time the production has 625 doubled itself, is it not reasonable to suppose that the price will go down? In that case will the Land Fertility Committee have power to ask for information, to ask for the accounts of the suppliers and to call for a reduction in the price of lime below the figure of 1st May?
§ Mr. Ramsbotham
I do not take the view that the fixing of prices on the 1st May level fixes them for ever. I think that the power given in this Clause to obtain information from the accounts, and so forth, will give the Land Fertility Committee access to the prices of the approved suppliers, and that it is legitimate to say that in the event of the price of lime falling, or certain suppliers quoting a lower range of prices, the Fertility Committee would have power to negotiate fresh terms. There is nothing in the Bill which will tie us for all time to the particular prices of 1st May. At the same time we must remember that if charges for fuel and labour go up it will be equally competent for the approved suppliers to put forward a case that they cannot maintain the 1st May prices; but whether they succeed or whether they do not we do not take the 1st May prices as being fixed indefinitely.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Sir F. Acland
I beg to move, in page 3, line 40, after "slag," to insert "other than lime contained in sea-sand."
Although I am formally moving this Amendment I do not think I shall need to trouble the Committee with it if the Minister can give me an assurance that the words in the Bill which refer to lime "produced outside the United Kingdom" will not apply to sea-sand. That is technically produced outside the United Kingdom, though not outside territorial limits. It is mostly sea shells, is sand rich in calcium carbonate.
§ Mr. Ramsbotham
I think I can give the right hon. Gentleman the assurance for which he asks. I do not think he wants to go collecting sand on the Dogger Bank. That being so I can give him the assurance he wishes.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.626
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ Mr. W. Roberts
I beg to move, in page 4, line 2, to leave out from "promoting," to the first "of," in line 4, and to insert:a survey of grassland, including rough grazings, to ascertain the needs of such land for drainage, improvement by manuring including the use of lime and basic slag or by ploughing of and reseeding with suitable grass seeds and for research, investigation, and instruction as to the best means.I hope that the Minister will give careful consideration to this Amendment, because it covers something more than a mere change of words. The policy outlined in the first part of the Bill has been heralded as a great policy which will revive the fertility of our land. The problem of grassland is a very great problem in this country, but in this Bill we are dealing with a very small section of the problem as a whole. We are dealing with the results of scientific work which was done about 50 years ago. Since that time a great deal more scientific work has been done in connection with the improvement of grassland. The value of slag was really established by Professor Somerville and Professor Gilchrist in experiments in Northumberland in the 'eighties or 'nineties. This Bill does something to encourage the use of basic slag, which was demonstrated 50 years ago to be very desirable, but since then there has been the work done at Cambridge on the nutritional value of certain types of grass and the work done at Aberystwyth by Professor Stapledon, whose work has really revolutionised the whole of grassland farming.
The reason I have put down this Amendment is that I should have been out of order if I had tried to introduce into this thin and shadowy Bill, thin and shadowy as a means of establishing grassland fertility on a sound basis, such as is outlined by Professor Stapledon, any proposals which would have made this into an "Aberystwyth Bill" if I may call it that; but one can at least suggest that the Land Fertility Committee should not be merely a publicity agent for lime and slag, though that is what it is as the Bill stands at present. It has got to sell more lime and slag, it has to promote research, investigation and instruction in the use of lime and basic slag as a means of promoting the fertility of the soil. I want that com- 627 mittee to be given a great deal wider scope. I hope they will start by increasing the fertility of the ideas on the Government Front Bench, and that they will be working on ideas of how the fertility of grassland can be developed by a more forward policy than that which is outlined. I am not asking for a larger contribution than is already provided in the Clause. I do not know what the estimate of the Minister is as to the amount of money which will be provided by this levy, though it cannot be very much.
A survey is what is required at the present time. A great number of partial surveys are being carried out. Professor Stapledon has undertaken one in Wales, which is of value as far as it goes. A survey has also been made recently by private initiative and at private expense in the northern counties. I do hope, therefore, that it will be possible to allow the Land Fertility Committee much wider scope than they would have under the present terms of the Bill. I will not go into details, but as the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Mr. Acland) said on Second Reading, we must first drain the land if we are to use lime or slag at all, and we require some more intimate knowledge of what land requires drainage. Secondly, we have to ascertain the needs of the land for a more radical policy of liming and dressing with basic slag. I have tried both.
The liming-slagging policy is an exceedingly slow way of improving fertility, but the Stapledon method of ploughing up and reseeding with heavy green seed is a very much faster and better way. Liming and slagging will do something, but there are now tractors for breaking up moorland which will make a revolution. I can give one example from Aberystwyth where, 800 feet above sea level, there is cultivated land, which was moorland a few years ago. These things can be done, and the improvement of grassland fertility furthered. I ask the Minister to accept the alterations in the wording of the Clause.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Williams
I hope that, whatever happens, the Minister will have nothing to do with the Amendment, which asks for a survey. We know that there are types of mind which imagine that if you have a survey of a thing 628 you can solve the problem. If the Amendment were agreed to, we should first of all have a survey and then, presumably, a report. It would take a long time and a nice lot of officials, and then you would do something. The words which the Amendment wishes to cut out are such as will immediately get more research, more investigation and more instruction as to the use of lime. The Amendment, as it stands, would mean only delay. Some people cannot help delaying things, and wishing to delay them. In the Bill, the Minister is actively providing instructions in the use of lime and doing everything to help it. For that reason, I hope that nothing will induce the Minister to give way to the very seductive speech, which, whatever else it might do, would take us still further from the prompt action which the Government are taking so well in other ways.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Price
I fail to see why this Amendment should not be accepted nor why the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) should say that it is not likely to assist the scheme of the Bill. Surely a survey could go hand in hand with the general scheme of the Government's policy. The hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts) has done a useful thing in calling the attention of the Committee to the importance of grassland survey. I am particularly interested in the words at the end of the Amendment:and for research, investigation, and instruction as to the best means.All that is very important, because whether it is slag, lime or superphosphates, unless the land is treated in a certain way, the best results will not be obtained. There is no doubt that the cultivation of pasture is now as scientific as the cultivation of arable land. The breaking up of the grassland at certain times of the year is all-important for airing the heated layers of the soil. Unless that is done, no matter how much lime you put upon the land, you will not have the proper effect. Research, investigation and information, more and more widespread, as to the proper means by which cultivation takes place, are all-important. All good farmers follow a regular process in this matter. They use basic slag, then they tooth-harrow the ground, and very often cross-harrow in 629 January or February, then they give it a top dressing, and, finally, they roll. It is very important to continue research and the spreading of information about the land of this country, along with the county council agricultural committees, who are doing excellent work on those lines.
I am not so enamoured of the idea of the widespread application of Professor Stapledon's methods to the whole country or about ploughing up grassland that has been down since the Middle Ages or Tudor times. It does not seem to me to be a very wise move. No doubt there are many barren uplands which could be treated in that way, but even so one has yet to know what the cost of production is and the cost of maintaining land in this condition, and whether the returns are worth while. For all that, I am glad that the hon. Member has raised the point, and I hope that the Government will consider it.
§ 6.8 p.m.
The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Wedderburn)
The hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts) is seeking to impose a lengthy and burdensome task on the Land Fertility Committee. I could not help thinking that if, for example, the hon. Member for South Bradford (Mr. Holdsworth) had grassland, and the Committee came and made a survey of it and told him his needs in regard to drainage and for improving the land by manuring, and gave him advice as to the best means of reseeding with suitable grass seeds, and all the rest of it, he might almost have reason to object to the bureaucratic methods of the Committee, and he would probably feel, as many of us would feel, that research and investigation are very much more likely to get results by the adoption of the method of Professor Stapledon at Aberystwyth than by such methods as that. The hon. Member's methods would not be appropriate, precisely for that reason which would most exactly appeal to the hon. Member for South Bradford, that there is here no money subsidy involved at all and no payment from public funds. The money is to be collected by a levy, which may be anything up to 2d. per ton from the approved suppliers who are producers of lime and basic slag and from persons receiving contributions under this part of the Act.
630 The hon. Member asked me how much we expected would be got from the levy. We do not think it will ever be likely to exceed £10,000. For that money you could not do very much in the way of a survey of the grassland of the country, and if you could, I think the Committee would agree that it would not be fair on the individuals who had paid the levy and who were primarily concerned about liming and slagging, that the money which they had contributed should now be used for very much wider purposes. I think it is better that the Committee should be given this limited task to concentrate upon and not to be sent about all over the country to make every kind of suggestion. We should give them this limited sum for this limited purpose.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I beg to move, in page 4, line 18, to leave out from "Treasury," to the end of the Clause, and to insert:and any such scheme shall cease to have effect on the expiration of a period of twenty-eight days from the date on which it is made, unless at some time before the expiration of that period it has been approved by resolution passed by each House of Parliament, but without prejudice to anything previously done thereunder or to the making of a new scheme.I do not want to take more melodramatically than is justified the constitutional point which I think to be involved in the Amendment, especially as earlier the House showed some slight tendency to be melodramatic about a point of whose importance and even existence I do not think one could be quite certain. The object of Part I of the Bill is to authorise an indefinite amount of money to be spent for an indefinite amount of slag and lime, to fix the conditions upon which anyone may or may not deal in those commodities, including conditions about prices and inspection of books, to discourage almost to the point of prohibition their importation and to do other things, especially under paragraph (1) which are very vague. Very wide and loose powers are being hereby delegated to the Minister.
For the purposes of my argument it does not matter in the least whether this is the best of all conceivable Ministries and, in this Ministry, the Minister of Agriculture is the flower of that lily-white flock. We could entirely trust the discretion and the good intentions of the present Minis- 631 ter; how little that matters was shown by the earlier Debate; for instance, when the Minister told us that it was difficult here and now to say what sort of appeal there should be, or when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillsborough (Mr. Alexander) was very anxious for more details, in an apparently laudable desire that the co-operative societies should not get a monopoly of selling these things, as in some parts of the country they have of buying milk, I do not think it is logically clear that powers so wide and loose as these must necessarily either be delegated or be not delegated. The thing is not so absolute.
There is the question "sub modo?" —under what conditions the thing ought to be done. If one looks at earlier Statutes dealing with more or less similar matters, one finds three sorts of general conditions which might be imposed in circumstances of this kind. The first is that the Minister can start his scheme, and, once it is started, it runs on unless either House passes a negative Resolution. That is the method of the Bill as drafted. And now this also. I assume that these schemes would not come within the scope of the Rules Publication Act, because the Minister will not be issuing rules, but a scheme. One of the ways in which House of Commons control is disappearing is, if I may borrow the expression used by the Minister earlier, the proliferation of new verbalisms. Orders and regulations are nowadays replaced by schemes, and arrangements, and devices, and heaven knows what. Under the Bill as drafted the scheme runs on indefinitely unless the House at any moment says "Stop." The second possible method is that we might have roughly the conditions which are required by the Agricultural Marketing Acts, under which draft schemes are laid before the House, and remain merely draft schemes, becoming effective only if an affirmative Resolution is passed. There is, no doubt, a number of sub-varieties, but in general the third possible method is that suggested in my Amendment. I am quite prepared to believe that, as it stands, the Amendment possibly might not do. For instance, some words might be needed saying that the 28 days should be Parliamentary days, and, in view of the particular date 632 that we have now reached in the Parliamentary and farming year, it might require that or other alteration; but the general point is that, while it would still give the Minister the practical certainty of getting his scheme, it would at least necessitate some Parliamentary co-operation in the scheme beyond the mere passing of the Bill after half a day's Debate on Second Reading and a day's Committee discussion. It would give Parliament some control over the scheme, and not merely over the making of the scheme possible.
Of the three possible modes in which the Minister might be authorised to legislate in a delegated way, perhaps the second, namely, that of the Agricultural Marketing Acts, would be the most logical in this case; but I think there might be an official answer to the effect that that would be hardly feasible without such delay as would, owing to the date we have reached in the farming year, mean postponing the operation of the scheme for a year. Therefore, I put down the third form, which I copied, with insignificant verbal alterations, from the Import Duties Act. The general principle is that, when powers of legislation, and, indirectly, as we have seen from what was said earlier this afternoon, of taxation, are being entrusted to a Minister with only the minimum general conditions, as laid down in this Bill, the House ought to insist upon a specific explanation why such an extremely small amount of Parliamentary control is appropriate in that particular case. The necessity for some such explanation seems to me to go to the root of the acceptability of a Bill as a whole, and, therefore, might perhaps in a way be more appropriate to a Second Reading Debate; but when for any reason that case has not been developed on Second Reading, the only method that seems to he left to us is to put down some such Amendment as this, in order that the Minister may have an opportunity of explaining why, in the case of any particular Bill, the minimum of Parliamentary control is appropriate. Unless we are convinced that the minimum is appropriate, we ought to insist upon more than the minimum.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Williams
This is a very old point; it has been debated ten thousand times in this Chamber, and I do not intend to occupy more than a very few 633 moments in putting my point of view with regard to it. I should be quite happy with the negative Resolution as provided in Sub-section (2), but for the fact that national funds are being made available for private purposes. There may be a subsidy of £1,000,000 per annum, or £1,500,000, or some figure of that order, and for that reason private Members are entitled on occasion at least to express a point of view with regard to a scheme which has been produced by a committee set up by the Minister. The scheme may be a very good one, or it may be less good, but in any case Parliamentary control, in the last analysis, is right and proper, and I think that, wherever Treasury money is being handed to private firms, for no matter what purpose or object, it is proper that Parliament should retain some measure of control. I know the right hon. Gentleman will say that Parliament still retains control, since within 28 days a prayer can be offered against the scheme; but that is a most ineffective method, since these prayers always come on after 11 p.m., which is a very inappropriate moment at which to discuss financial business. For that reason I think that, while we are continuing to hand out subsidies for this, that or the other purpose, which may be good, bad or indifferent, at least such control as Parliament can preserve to itself ought to be preserved. For these reasons I shall be quite willing to support the Amendment.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Sir John Withers
I, also, desire to support the Amendment. I do not suggest for a moment that the Minister of Agriculture is a dictator in disguise, but I certainly think that this is a matter which ought to be very carefully looked at by Parliament. If a prayer is laid on the Table, as a rule no notice is taken of it, and I think that, when it is a question of the expenditure of public money, an affirmative Resolution ought to be necessary.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Foot
The issue that we have to decide on this Amendment, which I support, is whether the House should demand an affirmative Resolution before the scheme can come into effect, or whether we should be content with the negative Resolution proposed in the Bill. Both procedures are, of course, familiar to us. 634 Both occur in a number of Statutes, and we should all agree that this is a question which must be decided in each case on its merits according to the importance of the particular scheme. But I think the House can seldom have seen a case in which it was more obviously desirable that we should demand an affirmative Resolution. As everyone realises, the scheme that is to be made under this Clause will be very far-reaching.
It will involve, first, the payment of public money in unlimited quantities—because no limit is mentioned in the Clause; secondly, it will involve a determination of who shall and who shall not be entitled to carry on the occupation or business of a supplier of these commodities; and, thirdly, as the Mover of the Amendment pointed out, in paragraph (f) there is power to prohibit the payment of contributions in respect of lime or basic slag produced outside the United Kingdom. If such a prohibition were put into force, it might easily amount to a complete embargo on imports, and might result in a difference between the prices of the commodity produced at home and of that produced abroad. I am not discussing whether that would be right or wrong in the circumstances, but it is a considerable power to give. I do not think that even the Import Duties Advisory Committee has power to recommend a complete embargo upon any form of imports. These are only examples which are stated in the Clause, but the Clause is what I might term a generality Clause. Its first words are:Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions of this Part of the Act.We are, therefore, proposing to set up a committee which will have very wide powers indeed, and the functions mentioned in Clause 2 of the Bill are practically unlimited. The point to which I would draw the attention of the Committee is that there is no kind of safeguard here such as is contained in the Agricultural Marketing Acts. I agree that the schemes are rather different in their nature, but the Agricultural Marketing Acts provide that, in the case of a scheme like a marketing scheme, which is going to affect a large number of people, a draft scheme must first be drawn up. Then there is an inquiry, where anybody who is concerned, or may he concerned, 635 by the operation of the scheme, can make their representations, and the Minister has to take those representations into account before he lays an Order before Parliament. I am not saying that this scheme would be quite in the same category as agricultural marketing schemes, but it, too, is likely to affect a large number of people, notably suppliers of lime or basic slag, and those people who will be affected will not have the safeguard that is given to other people who are affected by agricultural marketing schemes. That is another example of the very wide and general powers which it is proposed to confer by this Clause. Therefore, I submit to the Minister that this is a case in which it is obviously essential that, before the scheme can become permamently part of the law, it should receive the affirmative assent of the Houses of Parliament.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Macquisten
I support the Amendment. The Clause as it stands is an attempt to take advantage of the old maxim, "Possession is nine points of the law." It does not seem to be necessary to lay down that the scheme shall not come into operation unless this great machinery of Parliament devotes an evening to its discussion, but at any rate the scheme should be put before Parliament in such a way that it can be rejected more or less summarily. It is like "contracting in" and "contracting out" in the trade unions. In the case of the former, you are not in the soup until you are put into it, but the Bill puts you in the soup to begin with, and leaves you to get yourself out.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. W. S. Morrison
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten) has formed a different opinion from that which I hold as to the effect of this Clause upon the persons concerned. The hon. and learned Member seemed to think that this was a Clause which in some way would put the suppliers of slag "in the soup," to use his expression. I do not see how offering to pay half the cost of what a man is trying to sell can have any such effect upon him. The only conceivable way in which a man might be affected harshly would be if supplies were wrongly 636 withheld. It is not at all like the Marketing Act, where the majority could coerce the minority unless there was control. I agree that the question ought to be looked at on its merits to see whether or not the affirmative or negative method of proceeding is the right one. The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) would admit that there is a case for a negative procedure. In some cases it is appropriate, but I think his criticisms would apply to practically any scheme to which a negative resolution procedure has been applied in the past.
Let us see how the matter stands. Let me take as my text the words of the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. Williams) that it is essential to keep Parliamentary control. With that I agree. Let us see how Parliamentary control may be lost. It may be lost by an excessive delegation of powers to the executive. That I would admit. It may be lost by abandoning control in a wrongful manner. But there is an equally powerful method, and that is to clutter up Parliament with intimate administrative details, absorbing its time on detailed matters and thus diverting its energy and attention from the great matters of life, liberty, public safety and justice which are, after all, its first concern. That is the justification for the delegation of legislation, in order that Parliament should not be asked to pre-occupy itself with administrative details. I would ask the Committee not to take the view that these arrangements fall within the category where an affirmative Resolution is appropriate. We cannot spend money except on lime and slag. The general lines of the fertility scheme are set forth. If you come to the last element of the problem, on which great emphasis was laid by Members supporting the Amendment, that the amount of money that can be spent is not definitely stated, it is a very common thing in legislation to say that Ministers may spend such sums as are required for this or that purpose. The check there is not in a Resolution, affirmative or negative, but the whole control of Supply which the House exercises. Any sum spent would need to appear in the Estimates and the responsible Minister could be cross-examined as to why he has spent so much. In matters of Supply, whether enough or too much money has been spent, it has its own 637 venerable procedure to safeguard it. That is not a question for either affirmative or negative Resolution. There is Treasury control and the control of the House by the Public Accounts Committee and the Auditor-General. When one considers that the objects on which the money is spent are defined, and that all that is delegated are the merest details of the arrangement, this is a proper case for a negative Resolution.
But there is one objection to the Amendment with which I must acquaint the Committee. If I were to accept it, all this part of the Act would cease to have any effect by 28th August at the latest, because the days would have run out and there would have been no Resolution passed. The only alternative would be to delay the preparation of the scheme until we passed the Resolution some time after we reassembled. It is a practical point but one of great urgency. We want these subsidies applied this autumn, without losing a year or a harvest, which would otherwise be the case. In all the circumstances of the case it is the proper thing for us here to delegate this legislation within these limits, and let those to whom it is delegated get on with it and be responsible to Parliament in the long run, and Parliament within 28 sitting days can bring the whole thing to a conclusion if it so desires. In all the circumstances, the Committee
§ would be well advised not to support the Amendment.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Alexander
The practical difficulty could be at least got over, but the Minister appears to be determined not to accept the Amendment at this stage. The real fact is that he is getting away from the ground that is really covered by the Amendment, and which really is the main reason why the hon. Member was justified in moving it. To all intents and purposes the scheme does not merely provide for a subsidy for fertility, but it makes very far-reaching marketing arrangements as far as the commodities that are to be subsidised are concerned. Before that scheme is finally put into operation there is every whit as much case for the submission of an affirmative Resolution to the House as in the case of an ordinary marketing scheme. I hope that hon. Members who have put the case to the Minister will stick to the Amendment and press it in the Lobby.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 167; Noes, 124.639
|Division No. 271.]||AYES.||[6.41 p.m.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Grigg, Sir E. W. M.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Crossley, A. C.||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Cruddas, Col. B.||Hannah, I. C.|
|Balniel, Lord||Culverwell, C. T.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||De Chair, S. S.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Heilgers, captain F. F. A.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Denville, Alfred||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Drewe, C.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-|
|Blaker, Sir R.||Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Hepworth, J.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Higgs, W. F.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Holmes, J. S.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Ellis, Sir G.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Emery, J. F.||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Burghley, Lord||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Hurd, Sir P. A.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)||Hutchinson, G. C.|
|Butler, R. A.||Fildes, Sir H.||Jones, L. (Swansea W.)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Keeling, E. H.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Furness, S. N.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)|
|Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Ganzoni, Sir J.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Channon, H.||Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley)||Latham, Sir P.|
|Christie, J. A.||Gledhill, G.||Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)|
|Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Leckie, J. A.|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Goodman, Col. A. W.||Lees-Jones, J.|
|Conant, Captain R. J. E.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Crooke, J. S.||Grant-Ferris, R.||Levy, T.|
|Lewis, O.||Pilkington, R.||Thomas, J. P. L.|
|Liddall, W. S.||Radford, E. A.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Lloyd, G. W.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Touche, G. C.|
|Looker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Ramsbotham, H.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Ramsden, Sir E.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Turton, R. H.|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Wakefield, W. W.|
|McKie, J. H.||Remer, J. R.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Maxwell, Hon. S. A.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Royds, Admiral P. M. R.||Watt, G. S. H.|
|Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Russell, Sir Alexander||Wayland, Sir W. A|
|Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Morgan, R. H.||Salmon, Sir I.||Wells, S. R.|
|Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Samuel, M. R. A.||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Selley, H. R.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Munro, P.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. A.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)||Wragg, H.|
|Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Peake, O.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Peat, C. U.||Tasker, Sir R. I.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Perkins, W. R. D.||Tate, Mavis C.||Mr. Cross and Mr. Grimston.|
|Petherick, M.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Parker, J.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Price, M. P.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Ammon, C. G.||Holdsworth, H.||Ridley, G.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Hopkin, D.||Riley, B.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Jagger, J.||Ritson, J.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Barr, J.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Bellenger, F. J.||John, W.||Rawson, G.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)|
|Broad, F. A.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sanders, W. S.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Kelly, W. T.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Buchanan, G.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Shinwell, E.|
|Burke, W. A.||Kirby, B. V.||Silkin, L.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lawson, J. J.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Leach, W.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Lee, F.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cove, W. G.||Leonard, W.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Leslie, J. R.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Daggar, G.||Logan, D. G.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Dalton, H.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Stephen, C.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||McEntee, V. La T.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Dobbie, W.||McGhee, H. G.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||MacLaren, A.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Ede, J. C.||Maclean, N.||Thorne, W.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Thurtle, E.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Mander, G. le M.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Marshall, F.||Viant, S. P.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Mathers, G.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Frankel, D.||Maxton, J.||Walker, J.|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Messer, F.||Watkins, F. C.|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Milner, Major J.||Westwood, J.|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Montague, F.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Muff, G.||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Naylor, T. E.||Woods, C. S. (Finsbury)|
|Groves, T. E.||Noel-Baker, P. J.|
|Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Oliver, G. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Harris, Sir P. A.||Paling, W.||Mr. Wilfrid Roberts and Mr. Foot.|
Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ 6.49 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Williams
Would the right hon. Gentleman, in a single sentence, tell us to whom the money collected under paragraph (a) will be paid? What particular 640 body will be set up for the purpose of spending the money, or are we to understand that, the money having been collected by the Land Fertility Committee, it will be handed over to the agricultural research station already in existence; or is it intended to set up a totally new body to deal with this money?
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. W. S. Morrison
I think I can answer the hon. Member. The sums to be paid under these paragraphs may be of a limited character. I take power for the Land Fertility Committee to institute researches into the use of substances. It may be that, under central supervision of this lime and basic slag, some trouble of a particularly technical character may present itself for research and investigation. I apprehend what would happen would be that, if such a problem presented itself, the Land Fertility Committee in nine cases out of every ten would employ existing research workers engaged at some station for this additional work, but it might be that, if it were a matter that would take a longer time, they would find it more convenient to engage a man for the purpose of conducting the research in this direction. I cannot visualise the future with sufficient accuracy and clearness as to be able to give a categorical answer to the question of the hon. Member, but the idea is that they should use the money in the most practical and economic fashion for the researches which might be required.
§ Mr. T. Williams
Are we to understand from the reply of the right hon. Gentleman that once these twopences are collected the Land Fertility Committee will themselves take charge of the fund and administer it according to the arrangements set out under the scheme?