HC Deb 08 February 1938 vol 331 cc913-59

It shall be unlawful for a number of coalmining undertaking to amalgamate by voluntary agreement unless the Commission are satisfied "that in effecting such amalgamation due regard will be had to any representations made by any local authority in the area, or by the Commissioner for the Special Areas, with respect to existing social facilities and works, such as transport, roads, schools, housing, places of entertainment, lighting, water supply, and other facilities and works, and that the wage standards and conditions of labour of the persons employed in such undertakings will not be prejudicially affected, and that provision will be made for the transference or absorption of workers who may be displaced as a result of the amalgamation.—[Mr. R. J. Taylor.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

5.46 p.m.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

Voluntary amalgamation is the principle in this Bill, and the Commission may take action if sufficient progress is not being made with the amalgamation. It is very little consolation to those who are affected by voluntary amalgamations and are thrown out of employment to know that it is being done voluntarily instead of by compulsory action. The Clause which I move has been fairly extensively debated on a previous occasion. There is a very vital principle at stake. In these days of amalgamation and rationalisation, we are rapidly coming to the time when we must face up to the problem of what is really the best, cheapest and most efficient way in the national interest to produce a given commodity. I can quite understand that even under voluntary amalgamations, it may be cheaper by a few pence per ton for the colliery company, as a result of amalgamation, to produce coal from a certain mine or mines by a few pence per ton. That is not the real cost as far as the nation is concerned. When we consider the number and extent of the health services for which local authorities are now responsible, the local authorities should, before there is a voluntary amalgamation, have the right to submit a case to the Commission, and that the weight of their evidence as to the ultimate effect upon a particular district should be taken into effect before the Commission agreed to a voluntary amalgamation. The same may be said in relation to the Commissioner for the Special Areas with respect to transport, roads, schools and housing, etc.

The Clause provides that if an amalgamation is consented to, the wage standards and the conditions of labour of the men in the district should not be prejudicially affected. That is very important as far as the men are concerned. There have been one or two operations which have taken place in the county of Northumberland not in regard to amalgamations, but reorganisations. Instead of the coal being brought by the railway company, the colliery company, being in possession of the necessary land, have put down their own lines and brought the coal from "A" colliery to "B" colliery. There has been surplus labour at "A" colliery because the washing, cleaning and screening has been done at "B" pit. The men at "B" pit, with probably very small additions, are able to deal with the coal brought there from "A" pit. It is true to say that the coal is being produced more cheaply than it was before, but the wage standards of the people at "A" pit have been considerably affected because of the numbers thrown out of employment as a result of the alteration that has been made. That sort of thing applies where you have amalgamations in respect of which pits are taken over and probably some of them are closed down. Some of the men may be absorbed at the pit that has taken over their old pit.

It is not good enough to say that the wages of a man have increased unless you take the whole of the factors into consideration. We have a means test in operation in this country. See how the wage standards are being affected as far as the means test is concerned. Take the case of two men dismissed because a pit has been taken over by an amalgamation. One of them is able to obtain work under the new company, but the other is rendered idle. They are living at home. The man who is working is earning fair wages, but his brother, if he has exhausted his standard benefit, has to make application to the Unemployment Assistance Board, and in consequence the wages of the working brother are taken into consideration. If the brother's wages are sufficiently high, the man's application to the Unemployment Assistance Board is disallowed. The effect undoubtedly is that the income of that home is reduced as a result of the voluntary amalgamation. The wage standard here is reduced by 50 per cent. I would like to give the following illustrations, as I notice that I am still in order. A man working in our district for many years exhausted his standard benefit. His son came home and obtained work in the district, earning decent wages at the bricklayer's rates. His father was put out of benefit altogether, and the son had to keep the whole family. That is what I mean as having regard to wage standards.

The Chairman

The hon. Member is now beginning to indulge in saying things which make me begin to have serious doubts about the Clause being in order.

Mr. Taylor

I suppose that I can go on as long as there are doubts about it. Later in the Clause it says: provision will be made for the transference or absorption of workers who may be displaced as a result of the amalgamation. That is a very important part of the Clause. There have been innumerable instances where men have obtained work, but their wives and families had to be left behind while they went into lodgings. The Clause provides that the Commission, when considering voluntary amalgamations, shall see that proper provision is made in this connection. I hope that I have made the point very clear. We are arriving at a time when it is not good enough for industry, by some rationalisation or re-organisation, to bring in a machine which will throw out a certain number of men and then tell the State that it must keep them. By the introduction of this Clause, I believe that we should take the first step towards safeguarding the men affected by either compulsory or voluntary amalgamation.

5.58 p.m.

Mr. Peat

It strikes me that in moving this new Clause Members opposite may have omitted what seems to be rather an important feature. The hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. R. J. Taylor) said that it was high time that the industry was informed that by improving its productive methods, machinery and so on, it could not throw men out of employment and say to the State, "You must look after these men." The point that strikes me is that the main duty of industry is to the vast mass of consumers in this country who are working men and women, so that its products are made available to them at the lowest possible cost, consequent upon a decent return to capital and to labour. If you are going to say to an industry that a pit, although it is uneconomic and an expensive pit to run and has, at the pithead, a carefully built-up local organisation of roads, sewers and the like, and a population which cannot take any other form of employment, must not be closed down but, under an amalgamation scheme, must be kept going, the first result in modern industry to-day would be to raise the price of coal over the whole area.

That would have two effects. It would put money into the pockets of the more efficient pits and take more out of the pockets of the people who purchase coal. I am in favour of controlling the price of coal so that it does no more than give a reasonable return to all employed in the industry and no excessive profits on investments, but I would stress the danger of this rather loose talk about keeping uneconomic units in existence for the sake of circumstances which have now become redundant. As far as the industry itself is concerned, its duty to the consumer is to produce at the lowest possible cost. When you have established what is an uneconomic pit or concern, by no means an easy proposition, are you going to the coalowners in Durham and tell them that they must increase the price of their coal in order to look after various communities in the south-west of Durham where the pits are completely worked out and full of water? Are you going to say to the existing mines that they must look after these men? Where are you going to draw the line as to what is economic and uneconomic? It is very difficult.

It is a much better proposition for the consumers of this country that the State should take charge of these communities and look after them. If the State takes charge, then the Surtax payer and the Income Tax payer will have to bear a large proportion of the cost, and it will not mean a steady reduction in the standard of living to the poorest classes of the community owing to what I consider to be an uneconomic price level, which would have to be maintained in order to keep in existence uneconomic pits.

6.3 p.m.

Mr. Batey

I am rather sorry to hear the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Peat) opposing this new Clause. He does so purely on financial grounds, whilst we are supporting it on humane grounds. I know he has a knowledge of the southwest part of the County of Durham and I think that knowledge should be sufficient to tell him that the time has come when something should be done to prevent areas like those in South-West Durham being created in the future. The hon. Member says that it is a matter for the State to take over when employers have left a district in the derelict condition of some of the areas in South-West Durham. I think it is the duty of the State to take over the coal mines and prevent such districts being created. I regard the new Clause as raising the most important question that can be raised on the Bill. The questions of royalties, amalgamations and selling prices are not so important as the subject raised in the new Clause. It brings us face to face with things of which we have experience. We have seen collieries stopped and districts left derelict, and it is because of what we have seen through voluntary amalgamations that we jump at this opportunity to urge upon the House that when voluntary amalgamations take place the people who are displaced should receive some consideration.

What arguments can be used against such a proposition? We suggest that before amalgamation is allowed to take place the local authority shall be entitled to make some representations. The local authority has spent very much on roads, schools, water and sewerage, and there can be no possible argument against their having the right to make some representations before amalgamation closes down a colliery. We also suggest that the Commissioner for the Special Areas should have the right to make representations. When we have discussed questions affecting the Commissioner for the Special Area, we have been told that one of his duties was to beautify the district. Those who have owned the collieries have left ghastly pitheads and dismantled collieries; they have left the place in ruins, and we appointed the Special Commissioner and gave him as one of his chief duties to beautify the districts, to remove these pitheads and make the place more attractive.

In the new Clause we suggest that the Commissioner should make representation. After his experience of the last few years we think he could make many useful representations before a voluntary amalgamation closed any pit. Another important provision in the new Clause is that if voluntary amalgamation is going to close a colliery some provision should be made for the transference of the people. In the county of Durham committees who have examined some of our villages have suggested that the whole of the colliery village should be demolished—villages where people have lived during the whole of their lives! A committee appointed by the Commissioner suggested that in South-West Durham three of these villages should be completely demolished.

The Deputy-Chairman (Captain Bourne)

I am afraid that is not relevant to the Clause now before the Committee.

Mr. Batey

The Clause suggests that the Commissioner should be able to make representations and that transference should take place. I am bringing before the Committee the question of mining villages which it is suggested should be demolished, and the question of transference.

The Deputy-Chairman

Whatever may be the case of these villages it could not be affected by this Clause. The Clause cannot deal with things which have happened.

Sir S. Cripps

Is it not in order for an hon. Member to give illustrations of what has happened in the past and what he wishes to avoid in the future?

The Deputy-Chairman

If the hon. Member gives it as an illustration he is in order, but that is not what the hon. Member was doing.

Mr. Batey

It was more than an illustration. Perhaps I have not made myself clear, but when I have done so I think you will agree that I am in order. I was dealing with what is in the new Clause about transference, and I was saying that I could not agree with transference as carried out by the Ministry of Labour. The suggestion in the new Clause is that when voluntary amalgamation takes place it should be one of the duties to see that the men in the villages are transferred. I regard the question of transference in the new Clause as a very important proposal, and I suggest that the time has come when voluntary amalgamations should not take place or people be able to stop any colliery when they please.

The Deputy-Chairman

I must remind the hon. Member that my predecessor gave a warning before he selected the new Clause that he was extremely doubtful whether it was in order, but he gave the Committee the benefit of the doubt. I share his doubt, and if the discussion develops into a Debate as to whether amalgamations should or should not take place it becomes quite clear that the Clause it outside the scope of the Bill.

Mr. Batey

I do not intend to carry it so far. I say that when a voluntary amalgamation takes place they should not have the power to close any pit they please simply because they think the pit is uneconomic. I know small pits which under amalgamation have been closed straightaway, and yet those small pits have served the village in which they were situated. I want them to be kept going as long as possible. The hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Peat) talked about uneconomic pits. Some of us believe that the better pits should help to keep the poorer pits going. It is no argument to say that because there is an amalgamation you should close the poor pits.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member is now getting very close to the point when I shall have to rule that the Clause is out of order. This is merely a question whether before the Commission sanction an amalgamation certain representation should be made. If the hon. Member is going to suggest that the Commission should not have power to close pits I shall have to say that the Clause is outside the scope of the Bill.

Mr. Batey

I do not wish to get outside your Ruling, Sir, but it would be wise for the Committee to bear in mind that when your predecessor in the Chair first intimated that he might have to reconsider whether or not this new Clause was in order, he was asked to indicate just where we should be out of order.

Mr. Bevan

Further to your Ruling, may I ask for your guidance? Would it be in order to argue that the Commissioners, in considering a voluntary amalgamation, ought not to proceed with it because it would result in the closing down of a colliery or collieries and the withdrawal of social facilities from persons in that area?

The Deputy-Chairman

I do not think that is in order on this Clause. That point was argued on the question of compulsory amalgamations, which is obviously where it comes within the scope of the Commission. It would be to some extent in order to deal with the point in connection with the modification of the powers of the Commission. There is no obligation to go before the Commission in the case of a voluntary amalgamation.

Mr. Batey

I do not intend to give an excuse for this new Clause being ruled out of order, because I regard it as being far too important. Even if the Debate is a narrow one, I hope it will continue. I do not want to see, as I have so often seen of late years, the closing down of collieries, with the result that the people in the villages are left in an unhappy condition. I hope that the Committee will treat this proposed Clause in a serious way, and that it will be added to the Bill.

6.18 p.m.

Mr. Mander

I think the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Peat) went much too far when he suggested that if this Clause were added to the Bill, it would result in a number of uneconomic pits being kept in existence. To my mind, that would not be the result, but it would ensure that if certain pits had to be closed down, provision would be made for the transference or the absorption of the workers displaced as a result of the amalgamation. The hon. Member for Darlington stated a rather hard view when he said that the only matter that ought to be considered was whether an amalgamation would produce coal at the cheapest possible rate, without consideration being given to the social effects. No doubt that was the view 100 years ago, 50 years ago, or even more recently, but it is becoming less and less the view in the industrial world at the present time.

Mr. Peat

I cannot allow the hon. Member to make that statement without challenging him. What I said was that efficiency in industry was more important for the workpeople of this country than anything else, because it meant that their standard of life would be as high as it could be; and that if uneconomic pits—

Mr. Bevan

What are they?

Mr. Peat

I would not like to make a statement on that now—if uneconomic pits had to be closed down, they should be a charge on the State, and not a charge on the industry.

Mr. Mander

I do not wish to misrepresent the hon. Member in any way, but if he reads his speech to-morrow, I think he will see that he said that the only consideration was the production of coal at the cheapest possible rate. That is a sentiment which I challenge, for I do not believe it is the view which Parliament takes with regard to any industry in which it has any form of control. At the present time, we desire that the financial side, as well as the human side, of any amalgamation shall receive equal consideration, although I should have thought that the human side was a good deal more important than the financial side. In passing legislation of this nature, we ought to make every safeguard, as this Clause endeavours to do, to maintain the social conditions at any rate at their present standard. I have in mind two things for which the Commission, under this Clause, would have regard in the case of an amalgamation. The Commission would very likely say, "What arrangement have you made for the miners who will be displaced as a result of what you are doing?" I know of cases in other industries where, when there have been amalgamations, a definite scale has been laid down and people have received so many weeks', months' or even years' wages in accordance with the number of years' service which they have given.

The other instance is drawn out of the past. It is known that all over the Black Country of South Staffordshire there are many very ugly pit mounds, which are now to a great extent being levelled out for housing purposes. I suggest that in future the Commission ought to bear that matter in mind, and say to those who are promoting an amalgamation that before it can be allowed to take place, they must make some arrangement to see that those ugly pit mounds are not left behind, as they have been in the past. Even if an amalgamation appears to be sound and good from the point of view of the shareholders, I think it ought not to be permitted if it will involve any degradation in the standard of life in the neighbourhood. It is because this proposed Clause offers some prospect of safeguarding the position on those lines that I heartily support it.

6.22 p.m.

Mr. Pritt

This is a very important Clause, and in the discussion of it we are given good illustrations of the varying forms of capitalist outlook on any sort of industrial organisation at the present time. There are two ways of looking at the matter. One is that which the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Peat) may perhaps disclaim when I attribute it to him, although I think it was the essence of his speech; it is the sort of outlook which causes people to say, "Let us look at the money side of it; let us see whether more money can be made for the shareholders and whether coal can be supplied, generally speaking more cheaply; and if so, do not let us worry about anything else. If, in the course of running our capitalist system in that way we throw off workpeople and leave them sitting in villages where there is no work to do, let the State carry the burden of maintaining them in that luxury which is the lot of the unemployed."

That, of course, is a step forward in capitalist development, because in the old days the capitalist said, "Do not let the State maintain those workpeople, do not worry about them; let us go on seeking profit and nothing else, and for Heaven's sake, do not let the State interfere." Now, at any rate, they have got to the point of saying, "Whenever anything is profitable, by all means let us have it; when we talk about uneconomic pits and uneconomic prices, do not let us think of happiness, or even of houses and water supply, but of the market price of coal and the difficulties of the owners of the pits; and let the State take some part—it can have the wrong end of the stick and take over the burden and wastage."

The other way of looking at the matter—apart from the commonsense thing, which we do not expect the Government to do, of making the industry, which is vital to the community, belong to the community and be properly administered by it for the advantage of the whole community—is that which is embodied in this new Clause. If we must continue to have this industry in private hands, let us, at any rate, see that when it seeks to amalgamate coalmining undertakings for its own profit, some opportunity shall be given for making it consider to some extent the true wealth of the country. Let us, at any rate, see that amalgamation does not simply mean getting a profit or selling coal cheaply, but shall also mean that the industry shall consider the whole balance of convenience. Let it be remembered that a village is in itself wealth, that in it are skilled coalminers who are in themselves wealth, and that if their lives are made a misery, they will cease to be an asset and become a liability. That would be a sensible and humane thing to do.

It may, perhaps, occur to hon. Members opposite, if they will look at things broadly and not narrowly, that that is the best way of conserving the wealth of the country for which they profess to have some regard, because they believe that for a few years longer they can keep nearly all of it in their own pockets, instead of having it properly distributed in the true interests of the community. I venture to suggest that hon. Members opposite who propose to vote against this Clause should read it and consider what they will vote against. If they vote against it, they will be saying, "It shall be lawful, right, proper, expedient and beneficial for coalmining undertakings to amalgamate by voluntary agreement whatever they like, and if anybody says anything about existing social facilities and works, it shall be sentimental nonsense, to which no regard shall be had by any such undertakings; and if anybody says anything about transport, roads, schools, houses, places of entertainment, light, water supply and other facilities and works, it shall be up-to-date nonsense of the sort that shall not be tolerated; and people shall go on amalgamating their coal-mining undertakings with the express sanction of this Committee, which indicates to them that it is a jolly fine idea to lay whole areas of the country waste by, for their own profit, amalgamating a number of coal-mining undertakings with express disregard of all those considerations." In the same way, should they be considering for their own greater profit and their future baronetcies and peerages the amalgamation of a number of coal-mining undertakings, they will have the sanction of the right hon. Gentleman and his able and efficient Secretary for Mines and all the serried ranks of hon. Members sitting opposite, to the number of 18 or 20, and all their fellow hon. Members in the Smoking Room, if they expressly disregard wage standards, conditions of labour, and the transference and absorption of workers, and they will be putting up one more little monument to selfish anarchy, and putting a few more nails in the coffin of capitalism.

6.29 p.m.

Mr. Ede

I should not have intervened in this Debate had it not been for the speech of the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Peat). It is refreshing in one sense to hear the doctrine of the old Manchester School being advocated by so sound a Protectionist as the hon. Member. His concern in this matter is about the price of coal to the poor. Is it not really astonishing that that consideration should be put forward by a Member of the party which, during the last five or six years, has so greatly increased the price of every commodity used by the poor, and has said that that is the reason for the various tariffs and orders which they have introduced?

Mr. Peat

Will the hon. Gentleman include coal among the things which he says have increased in price, and will he tell us where the increased price of coal has gone?

Mr. Ede

The Chair indicated that this Debate would have to be confined within narrow limits, and if I could follow the line indicated by the hon. Gentleman I should have pleasure in doing it, but it would somewhat extend the length of the Debate if I were to attempt to discuss where the increased price of coal has been going during the past few months, especially the large increases which have been asked by the coalowners of the public utility undertakings. The hon. Member said it was far better to let the poor have cheap coal and let the Super-tax payer keep the disinherited coal miner in the mining village. That is not a travesty of his argument, but they are almost his exact words. That is where we differ from him, because it means that private enterprise is to determine the allocation and extent of the burden that the public have to carry. We say that in these days the public should be entitled to have some voice in both the allocation and the extent of the burden of poverty that they are expected to carry.

I regard this new Clause as very valuable because it asserts in definite and direct terms what the Commissioner must take into consideration. Consider what is happening in part of my constituency which covers the borough of Jarrow. The hon. Member for Guildford (Sir J. Jarvis) is well aware of the position of affairs there. A particular industry decides that it will amalgamate into a smaller number of units the productive enterprises that they have, and the amalgamation throws a district entirely derelict, presenting the State, the county council and borough council concerned an appalling social problem and leaving them to deal with it. This Amendment asserts that before that kind of thing is perpetrated in the coal industry there shall be constituted some public tribunal which shall decide whether in the interests of the State as a whole economic regeneration is being effected. They may before amalgamation takes place suggest such provisions for solving or assisting to solve the economic difficulties that are created as shall be just to all the parties concerned. I was surprised that a Member representing one of the boroughs in County Durham should take the view that was put forward by the hon. Member for Darlington. I do not think he did himself justice. I believe he remembered he was an accountant and forgot he was a Member of Parliament when he made his speech. The clear dividing line between the attitude of the two sides of the House on this matter was shown in the broad, human view taken by my hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Mr. R. J. Taylor), and the narrow view, more reminiscent of the view of the party that sits in attenuated numbers below the Gangway 100 years ago, of the hon. Member for Darlington.

6.35 p.m.

Mr. McLean Watson

I do not share the alarm that some Members have on the subject of amalgamations. I have seen many voluntary amalgamations in my area, and while it is true that some of them have had ill-effects, others have had the opposite effects. I have seen colliery after colliery absorbed by a large concern in my area. It is true that within a few years of an amalgamation pits have been closed. On the other hand, I have seen a colliery taken over that was looked upon as a small concern which had a hard struggle to keep going. I have seen such a colliery taken over by a big concern and developed into a big colliery. The absorbing company had the capital with which to sink to lower seams and to equip the colliery in a better fashion than it had been equipped before. Instead of a struggling colliery, we now have a big colliery under that concern. You can, therefore, have both ill and good effects from voluntary amalgamations.

I support the new Clause because of the instruction that is proposed to be given to the Commission. The Commission ought to have regard to the interests of the local authorities before an amalgamation takes place and before pits and even whole collieries are closed down. The local authority should have the power to make representations to the Commission. There is also the point of view of the man who is displaced and thrown out of employment. In my area where collieries have been closed down young men who were living in the neighbourhood have had to go miles to get work in other collieries. That affects their wage standards because they have bus fares to pay and additional expenses compared with those who are living in the neighbourhood of the collieries. There is, however, no work for the men who have worked 10 or 20 years for the colliery which is closed down. These are the individuals to whom we refer as the hard core of our unemployment problem in the mining areas. There is no opportunity for them to get work even if they are prepared to travel considerable distances.

I hope we shall get some encouragement from the Secretary for Mines, because where voluntary amalgamations have been undertaken the colliery concerns have shown little or no concern about the men who were thrown out of employment as a result. What I have said raises the point mentioned by the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Peat) about the closing of inefficient collieries. It might be assumed that when a big concern took over a small struggling colliery the first thing that would happen would be the closing of that inefficient pit; yet by a little readjustment and by the expenditure of a little more money the pit has been made efficient. Unless, therefore, one knows the whole circumstances one can hardly tell when a pit is inefficient or uneconomic. It stands to reason, now that all the shallow seams are being worked out, that, in order to carry on, collieries have to sink to lower levels and put down deeper shafts in order to get the coal, but the bigger concern is the concern that can carry out such work. From that point of view there is something to be said in favour of amalgamations even on voluntary lines. I supported the principle of compulsory amalgamation, but we have had a considerable amount of voluntary amalgamation in my area, and if rumours are true we have not reached the limit yet. I believe that before this Bill becomes an Act we shall have an even bigger voluntary amalgamation in several of the coalfields of this area.

If there are to be voluntary amalgamations in future I hope the Commission will lay it down that more consideration is to be given to the displaced men than has been given before. There would have been less feeling among the miners had colliery concerns given more consideration in the past to the men displaced. It is not enough to say, as the hon. Member for Darlington said, that after a colliery concern can no longer employ the men it is the duty of the State to look after them. That would have been all right if the State had been getting the benefit from the working of the coalmine, but as the colliery owners had been getting the benefit of the labour they employed, it is not right that they should be able simply to say to the men, "We do not require your services any longer. You can live as you like; you can either go to the parish or live on your savings or struggle along as you like; but, as far as we are concerned, we have finished with you." If there had been less of that sort of thing on the part of colliery owners in the past there would have been less feeling against amalgamation, even on voluntary lines. I hope the Commission will lay it down that not only are public bodies to be protected, but that the miners are to have more protection than they have had in the past.

6.45 p.m.

Mr. David Adams

We have not yet heard from the Secretary for Mines, and I am very hopeful indeed, being of an optimistic nature, as are many of my colleagues here, that the Government are about to grant what is asked for in this Clause, and I shall be grievously disappointed if such is not the case. Indeed, I can imagine that a special remit has been sent from the Cabinet with reference to this Clause, for one need not be greatly concerned in public affairs to recognise that the question of derelict areas and derelict men is one of the most important which is being dealt with at the present time. This question is involved closely and intimately with the preservation of industry where it is located and where it can be developed upon more humane lines. Derelict areas and derelict men have cost the State, both nationally and municipally, many millions of pounds sterling, and an enormous amount of suffering.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member cannot stretch his speech on this new Clause to cover the whole question of the distressed areas.

Mr. Adams

Then I would say that we disagree with the argument of the colliery owners that in the nature of things amalgamations will be beneficial. They are not necessarily beneficial. One has heard again and again of industries being amalgamated and attempts being afterwards made, in some cases successfully, to revert to decentralisation because the larger units have not been so successful as had been contemplated. The hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Peat) took the purely economic view that any industry must be made to pay, and that is understandable, but to-day the State is stepping in and taking an interest in industry, and in this Parliament and in the last Parliament we have seen very great benefactions given to industry.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member must confine himself to the new Clause. We cannot allow the consideration of a new Clause to be used as an opportunity to make Second Reading speeches.

Mr. Adams

I am sorry, Captain Bourne, to digress in this way, and it seems to me that if I cannot enlarge and extend my arguments to prove what I am endeavouring to demonstrate, it will be difficult to add anything to what has already been said. No part of the country may suffer more from amalgamations, either voluntary or compulsorily, than Durham, and having suffered in the past what we are asking is that in the event of amalgamations being suggested by the colliery owners the local authorities and the Commissioner for the Special Areas should be consulted—though I rather hesitate to mention the Commissioner, in case I am out of order, although his name does appear in the new Clause—as to what the effect socially of such an amalgamation will be. The closing of a colliery, or a few collieries, may create a derelict area, and the Commissioner, who has been called into being by this Parliament with a view to remedying a state of affairs already created, ought clearly to be consulted in such circumstances.

We contend that the day has passed when wage questions and standards of employment can be entirely ignored by the community. I had the pleasure of mentioning in the House recently certain amalgamations in which compensation was granted to displaced engineers, and I do not see why similar protection should not be accorded, in the event of amalgamations taking effect, to those who have been employed in any pits which it is proposed to close—as long as the Government decline to deal with the question of redundant labour as affecting colliery undertakings, as long as boys go into our coal pits—

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member is again wide of the Clause.

Mr. Adams

Very well, Captain Bourne; it seems about impossible to please you so far as this Clause is concerned. I want to assert, finally, that the local authorities ought to have consideration in this matter. They are to be called upon to undertake very heavy expenditure as a result of amalgamations. The Commissioner is entitled to be considered, and the wage-earners ought to have full and complete consideration, and if proper provision is not made by law that they should be protected automatically we say that under this Clause such protection can properly for the first time in our history be accorded to those who suffer from the amalgamation. We ask that this new Clause should, therefore, have the support of the Committee not only upon economic grounds, but upon the grounds of broad humanity.

6.52 p.m.

Mr. Tinker

I have been somewhat irritated by the laughter which has come from the other side while the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. David Adams) has been putting his case. After all, it is a serious subject, and if he did get into conflict with the Chair it was not because he was not attempting to put his case. It comes very hard that there should be this joking, and the hon. Member opposite is one of the worst I know for that kind of thing.

Mr. H. G. Williams

I only laughed because the hon. Member said he was an optimist, which seemed an unusual role for him.

Mr. Tinker

It ill becomes the House of Commons to seek amusement out of a case of this kind. When amalgamations take place there is not only the economic factor, the purely financial issue, to be considered, but the case of the people who are affected by the combination and may be thrown out of work, and all we ask is that when amalgamations do take place some regard ought to be given to their interests. If an amalgamation will bring almost desolation to a vast number of people, steps ought to be taken to prevent that happening. I have always recognised that under our present system it is difficult to stop amalgamations, but when we see what has happened it is our duty to bring this matter to the notice of the House. If we cannot prevent amalgamations we say that some regard should be given to the transference of the people affected. If an amalgamation is to take place and 200 or 300 people will be thrown out of work, regard ought to be had to whether they can be transferred to some other part of the country before any collieries are closed under the amalgamation. That is all we ask.

Perhaps the time is not opportune, perhaps hon. Members opposite say we have no need to deal with that question yet, but they cannot go on creating derelict areas by degrees without calling upon their heads some show of feeling from the electors. That is bound to happen, and the electors, so far from assisting us to do what we are attempting to do in a constitutional manner, may end by asserting themselves in a more determined fashion. I ask hon. Members opposite not to add to the trouble by making fun of us. I want them to treat this matter seriously and reply to our arguments. If they say that it cannot be done let them prove to us that it cannot be done.

6.55 p.m.

Mr. E. J. Williams

Last night we heard a number of speeches, particularly from the benches opposite, criticising the power of monopolies in deciding prices, especially for certain industrial consumers. Much the same idea arises here, because it may be in the hands of a board of directors to decide whether a community shall live or die, for that is what it virtually comes to. The hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Peat) used the term "uneconomic pit." It is possible for efficient concerns to strangle completely certain small concerns, or to bring them to such a state of mind that in order to exist they will agree, somehow, to amalgamate with the larger concern. During the last 9 or 10 years we have had any number of examples of that in most of the coalfields, probably a greater number in South Wales than anywhere.

At the moment a by-election is being fought in Pontypridd. The whole of that community depended upon five or six pits. The Great Western Colliery Company held, I think it is true to say, a greater measure of good will, particularly in the international market than any other concern in South Wales, but that concern was partially—some part of it—was practically driven into liquidation, and although the nominal capital was £300,000 it was finally purchased for about £35,000. The whole of Pontypridd became a derelict area. Practically 40 per cent. of the people normally engaged in the mining industry are totally idle. Close by we have the Treforest Trading Estate. I do not want to extend the Debate and when we were discussing this before we were dealing with the powers to amalgamate compulsorily certain undertakings, while here we are dealing with amalgamations depending upon the volition of the concerns, but I wish to point out that more than £1,000,000 has already been spent at Treforest in order to find work for a few thousand persons at the outside. The State has incurred that enormous liability in order to find work for that very small proportion of persons rendered idle through amalgamations and liquidation.

Before we create any other distressed area, and the closing down of a pit is, in fact, the creation of a distressed area, surely the community in the area should have the opportunity of presenting then-case to the Commission, in order to place before the Commission the enormous amount of social capital which will be affected by the closing down of the pit or undertaking. In quite a large number of constituencies there has been experience of what I may call the distressed areas problem. Wherever a pit is closed down it means taking away the complete income of a number of households. In other words, the eggs are all in one basket. There is just one breadwinner. The daughters are seldom engaged in service. The total income of the house is affected and they are made destitute. Often they have to depend upon the community, which is already in a bad state financially. Glamorgan and Monmouthshire are two counties where the ravages of amalgamation have taken place to a larger extent than perhaps in any other part of the country outside Durham. The local authorities are mulcted in very heavy Poor Law charges. It is for that purpose that we are pressing the Clause.

There is another feature. It is possible for directors to close a concern in which the miners may enjoy relatively good conditions. In most mines piece-work obtains, particularly for the hewing of coal. Price lists have to be made for the purpose and, where the price list yields a fairly reasonable wage, a pit is closed in order to lower the wage level of the whole of the undertaking. There are very many examples of that in South Wales and elsewhere. Surely every effort should be made to see, particularly in potentially distressed areas, that the community is not robbed of a legitimate purchasing capacity, after price lists have been properly negotiated, because at the whim of a directorship they may close a pit, lower the wage level of the whole area and deprive certain businesses of a market for their goods because of the ever contracting purchasing capacity of the area. All those things ought to be taken into consideration, and they will some day have to be taken into consideration if the House is to face up to the great problem of the Special Areas which exist and which may be created if employers of labour are given free play at any time to do precisely what they like with those whom they employ. It is for the purpose of partially prohibiting that and dealing with what might be the effects arising from amalgamation that we are pressing the Clause.

7.4 p.m.

Mr. Shinwell

When the question of compulsory amalgamation was considered on Thursday last it was made clear that the reduction of mining undertakings would inevitably lead to the closing down of some pits. The President of the Board of Trade agreed that a case had been made out on behalf of local authorities who were primarily concerned in the closing down of pits which affected their social services and general amenities, and similarly on behalf of those who were likely to be displaced. He agreed that provision should be made to enable local authorities and other interests to make representations to a Select Committee of this House. We persisted in our Amendment and were defeated, but we still press the importance of making prevision in the case of voluntary amalgamation because, although some procedure may be applied arising out of some provision which will emerge on Report capable of dealing with the consequences of compulsory amalgamation, there is no provision which enables the Minister, or the Commission, or Parliament to deal with the consequences of voluntary amalgamation. If, as the result of voluntary amalgamations, over which this House has no control, local authorities and mine workers suffer, what is to be done? The question deserves to be stressed, because it is very doubtful whether there will be much development in the way of compulsory amalgamations at all in view of the procedure that the right hon. Gentleman is going to apply, and of the fact that the arrangements preceding compulsory amalgamation are hedged round with all kinds of restrictions and limitations. Voluntary amalgamation will certainly be stimulated by the Commission if there is no prospect of compulsion being applied.

If pits are closed down what is Parliament going to do? The procedure referred to on Thursday does not apply to voluntary amalgamations. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman is not prepared to accept our Clause, has he any alternative to offer? Can he give an assurance on behalf of the Commission that before any voluntary amalgamations occur they will inquire into the possible consequences? If he believes that in the case of compulsion it is a matter for Parliament and a Select Committee, is he prepared to give an assurance that the Board of Trade will not permit voluntary amalgamations to take place until there has been an inquiry? That is a very modest proposal. What struck me as very remarkable in my experience at the Mines Department in 1924 and in 1930–31 was that colliery owners could close down their pits as and when they pleased irrespective of the consequences to the local authority, to the community at large and to the miner. What happened in consequence of that freedom to close down? Local authorities sent their representatives on deputations to the Mines Department, as I have no doubt they do even now, and the Miners' Federation and other interests concerned sent their deputations, as no doubt they do at present. I am sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman is fully seized of the difficulty that presents itself. If colliery companies can close down whenever they please, and adversely affect the whole life of the community, that is not merely a matter for the community concerned or for the mine workers. It is a matter for the whole industrial life of the nation.

If you denude an area of its only industry, what is to be done? This question bears very heavily on the problem that confronts the distressed areas. I doubt whether there would be a single distressed area in the country of any importance if it were not for the closing down of colliery undertakings. It is because colliery areas, which are the real distressed areas, have been denuded of their industrial life that we have the distressed areas, which cause Parliament so much concern. This is an appeal based on human grounds. We have to concern ourselves, not so much with the industrial as with the social and human values. We cannot afford to allow local communities to suffer in consequence of the liberty which is permitted to the mining or any other class of undertaking to amalgamate and thus to close down some of their concerns.

I make an appeal to the hon. and gallant Gentleman. Voluntary amalgamations are not protected by the provisions of the Bill, to which his right hon. Friend referred last Thursday. There is no safeguard. Mining undertakings may amalgamate, may reduce the number of pits employed, may throw out of employment large bodies of men and disturb the life of the community. All those things may happen—indeed, in our view, they are bound to happen. What is the answer of the hon. and gallant Gentleman? As no other safeguard is provided, and as there appears to be no suitable alternative, I hope, in the circumstances, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will accept the proposed new Clause.

7.16 p.m.

Captain Crookshank

Perhaps I may say at the outset that the Committee should be ready to make a decision on this matter, which has already been discussed on a previous occasion. The principle of the proposed new Clause seems to be that if two or more undertakings wish to come together on a voluntary basis, it shall be contrary to the law for them to do so unless the Commission, which is not a party to the amalgamation, is satisfied that certain considerations have been borne in mind for the amalgamation to be effected. As the hon. Gentleman has said, there is a very intense human problem. Everybody recognises that to be the case, because of specific instances. There may be a case where the shutting down of a colliery undertaking, a shipyard or a mill, causes considerable local dislocation and consequent social difficulties to the community involved, and everybody recognises that there must be many cases in consequence of that sort of policy being put into effect. I must ask the Committee to bear in mind, however, that the coming together of two or more undertakings, whether voluntarily or compulsorily, does not of itself involve those consequences. It does not mean, for instance, in the coal industry, that a pit will be closed. Maybe, the amalgamation is effected in order to prevent a pit being closed.

Alternatively, it may very well be that although the amalgamation takes place to-day or to-morrow, no pit is closed down for five, 10 or 35 years. It is not so easy to deal with the intense human problem which the hon. Gentleman mentions, and which we have in mind just as much as he has, even though we do not say so all the time. It is not so easy to deal with it if one bears that sort of aspect in mind. The hon. Gentleman said, quite rightly, that it is surely of very little consequence to a man who has been thrown out of work as the result of a voluntary amalgamation for him to know that it was done voluntarily. There, again, we must not lose sight of the fact that amalgamation, whether voluntary or compulsory, even though it be followed by the closing of a pit, is not the sole cause of unemployment, which may very well arise from improved internal organisation of one pit, by the adoption of more up-to-date machinery, by the concentration of production or more intensive working in the pit itself. Unemployment caused in that way has nothing in the world to do with amalgamation, and may bring about just those social difficulties which the hon. Gentleman described.

To accept the new Clause would be to deal Only with a very small fringe of a very large problem; indeed, I am not sure that it does not raise those very questions which have been so much in the mind of the Government and which have now been remitted to the Commission on the Location of Industry—which no doubt will have to bear in mind a good many of these considerations. That is why I say that this new Clause touches only a very small fringe of a very large problem with which, no doubt, in course of time, Parliament will be concerned. The question here is whether the consequence of amalgamation is the closing of a pit, and, as I have indicated to the Committee, that by no means necessarily results. Hon. Gentlemen are saying in this proposed new Clause that the mere fact of amalgamation means the closing of pits, and that the Commission should have to be satisfied about so and so, because if there is an amalgamation and a pit is closed as a result, there may be a very adverse effect upon the local community. As I have said, the adverse effect may come to the community as the result of a pit being closed down to save bankruptcy or the exhaustion of seams. The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) was probably right in his point of view in explaining that the proposed new Clause was not providing against something which he wished to have happen, and that he did not want to see the closing down of collieries. Of course, no one does, but it is inevitable that it should happen.

We come back to the position with which the hon. Gentleman ended. He said, suppose that, after the passage of the Bill, there are voluntary amalgamations: should nothing be done through the Commission to consider the larger social and employment problems? My answer to that is one which he anticipated, and it is that although we are giving to a statutory body compulsory powers, Parliament attaches to those powers a specific limitation, and that to try to translate that same idea into the field of voluntary amalgamation would be to do something for coal which would not be confined to coal and would be part of a very much larger problem. Any kind of undertaking may wish to amalgate with any other, and the consequence of doing so in the wider field may be just as serious as in this narrower field of coal. If that be a principle which Parliament wants to adopt, Parliament must consider it upon a far wider ground than in the form of a new Clause to the Coal Bill because it is not specifically a coal problem. Parliament may say in the future that unless somebody considers the effect upon transference or employment, no amalgamation shall take place; but I cannot agree to introduce this vast new principle into a Bill dealing with coal when the principle has not been thoroughly thought out.

Mr. W. Joseph Stewart

Why not make a beginning?

Captain Crookshank

If you give to the Commission, as you would in the terms of the Clause—I am not quarrelling with the drafting, but this is inherent in what is proposed—power to say that it shall be unlawful for undertakings to amalgamate unless the Commission is satisfied on such and such grounds, you are in effect, whether you intend it or not, putting a power of veto into the hands of the Commission. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen wish to do it.

Mr. Shinwell

The President of the Board of Trade agreed to put power into the hands of Parliament in the case of compulsory amalgamation to say that before the Commission agreed to compulsory amalgamation certain conditions laid down by Parliament must be complied with. Why not apply a similar principle to voluntary amalgamation?

Captain Crookshank

In my view there is a world of difference between cases where compulsion is exercised and where amalgamation has happened in the normal course of things. Parliament gives powers to the Commission to exercise certain duties. I see a very great difference between the two. The point I was making is that if it is inherent in the proposed new Clause that nobody shall voluntarily amalgamate unless the Commission is satisfied with this and that, you put upon the Commission the power of the veto. Then, however good the reasons are for giving them that power, you give the Commission power of veto over the voluntary organisation of the industry. This would be going against the decision of this House that the Commission shall not be responsible for the financial running of the industry. That seems to me a lucid reason why the proposed new Clause should not be adopted. It would make the Commission far more responsible for the financial and day to day running of the industry than Parliament decided it should be. Beyond that, to insert a Clause of this kind applying to voluntary amalgamation of collieries—while the case on general human grounds is strong in respect of the difficulties of local communities—would have a very much wider application. I suggest to the Committee that the Clause should not be inserted in the Bill.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Shinwell

May I put it to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that his argument amounts to this: Whereas the Commission are authorised to take action under the Bill in case of compulsory amalgamation, they are not empowered to take action in regard to voluntary amalgamation? Therefore, the case is not on all fours. Let me put this point to the hon. and gallant Gentleman. If the Commission, in the course of their investigations, find that there are very great difficulties in the way of compulsory amalgamation of mining undertakings, but that it is practical to stimulate voluntary amalgamations, as indeed they were empowered to do under the Act of 1930, and that voluntary amalgamations would help, would the hon. and gallant Gentleman not agree that the obligation which is thrust upon the Commission applies as much in the case of voluntary amalgamations as in the case of compulsory amalgamations? If that is so, why not accept, if not the proposed new Clause, a proposal which amounts to this, that just as last Thursday the Committee decided, on the advice of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, that in the case of compulsory amalgamation Parliament should have the final word, so in the case of voluntary amalgamations Parliament should have, if not the final word, something to say before the amalgamation was carried through?

7.32 p.m.

Mr. Edmund Harvey

I believe there are many Members of the Committee who regret that the hon. and gallant Gentleman, although he spoke of his sympathy for the human distress involved in some cases of amalgamation, did not see his way to offer some alternative to this new Clause which he is unable to accept. He objected to the proposal in the Clause that it was applying to the case of voluntary amalgamations in the mines a principle which is not applied elsewhere, but surely we are engaged in what amounts to a reorganisation of the mining industry, an industry which is in a position of peculiar privilege in certain respects and is governed by Acts of Parliament in a way that no other industry is, and the mineowners are given under this Bill a position of special privilege and monopoly. It is therefore reasonable, surely, to say that an industry which is so set apart by its nature and by the position given to it by Parliament should have special provisions to deal with these cases of voluntary amalgamation.

I do not consider that we can avoid voluntary amalgamation or that we should try to do it, but in carrying through amalgamations that may be necessary and desirable, it is, I believe, the desire of a very large number of Members of this Committee and of a very great number of citizens in the country that the human rights of the workers and the effects of amalgamation upon the well-being of the community should be borne in mind. It is surely not too much to ask of the Government that, in passing this great Measure, they should definitely lay it down that it is the duty of the Commission to have regard to those interests. I wish therefore to appeal to the Minister, who has given no response hitherto to the appeals that have been made to him for some alternative, that he should indicate at least the possibility that at a later stage of the Bill some words will be inserted, if not a new Clause, which will safeguard the position of the worker and of the local communities whose life is bound up so largely with the existence of the mines, from the terrible effects that may come upon them if the sole criterion in amalgamation is financial success from the point of view of money returned to the mining undertaking. I believe that that is the desire of many Members of this Committee.

7.36 p.m.

Sir H. Seely

I think the Minister might have given us some reasons why he cannot put something in the Bill to deal with this problem. It is not, as he said, introducing a new principle of amalgamation in other industries, that you have got to have in mind this question about local authorities, but in Part II of this Bill the functions of the Coal Mines Reorganisation Commission are taken over by the new Commission, and that is to facilitate voluntary amalgamations, which are submitted to that organisation. Therefore, it does not seem to me that it is quite putting a new principle into other amalgamations that may come about in other industries, that you are building up something new. You have said you are going to do something to meet the case of a similar Amendment dealing with compulsory amalgamations, and I feel that something should be done which would not create some new principle in regard to these voluntary amalgamations, because this is an industry that has an arrangement for so-called voluntary amalgamations which are submitted to a Commission.

7.38 p.m.

Mr. S. O. Davies

The Secretary for Mines has obviously not attempted to answer the case submitted in favour of this new Clause. He tried to justify his attitude by telling the Committee that if this were done for coal, it would be expected that the same should be done for other industries in this country. He knows very well that in some respects no industry in the country can be compared with coal mining. Once a colliery is closed down, the chances are overwhelmingly against that colliery being reopened. I am told that a factory, however, may be kept closed, unused, for three, six, nine, or twelve months or longer, and that still that factory could be re-started almost at 24 hours' notice, but the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows very well that the average colliery that is closed down for three months is, generally speaking, doomed for all time, that is, as we are able to appreciate time in the coal-mining industry, so that there is no analogy there at all.

A previous speaker made a very apt point indeed, and may I add to his appeal that possibly before the Committee disposes of this question some measure of protection may be provided, not merely, as has been said, for the miners who may be engaged in a particular colliery or group of collieries, but for the whole of the communities that are, in so many of our coal-mining areas, particularly in South Wales, absolutely dependent upon the continued working of a colliery or group of collieries. If I were disposed to localise this problem, I think South Wales represents some of the most terrible tragedies that have been associated with the industrial life of this country, particularly in regard to coal mines. There we have a number of communities entirely dependent upon coal mining, and the closing down of a mine is, not infrequently, on the ground that such a colliery may be uneconomic. One hon. Member urged the Committee to oppose this new Clause on the ground that it might be setting a premium upon the continued existence of uneconomic collieries.

Possibly more nonsense has been talked in this House around that phrase of the uneconomic pit or colliery than on any other phase of the coal-mining industry. There are many on these benches, and I can see one hon. Member elsewhere, who have spent some years in coal mines. We know that there are periods in the history of a coal mine when, as the result of the temporary absence of profit such a mine may be regarded as being uneconomic. The deciding factor is the question of whether or not profits are being made, but some of us have had experiences of collieries being uneconomic, not because the coal seams are inferior, not because the labourers in them are not making the same response as in other collieries, but owing to wicked mismanagement and blundering in the working and opening-up of such collieries. I could speak from experience—

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member had better relate his experiences on some more suitable occasion.

Mr. Davies

I do not intend to elaborate my experience. I simply made use of that phrase in case anyone in the Committee would care to challenge the statement that I had just made. As the result of the way in which collieries have been mismanaged, we are seeing the starkest tragedy overwhelming communities that have no hope of any other kind of work than coal-mining. The Secretary for Mines knows very well that we need not take up the time of the Committee in elaborating these tragic matters. He knows very well that certain amalgamations have very little that could be argued to their advantage but a great deal that could be said to their disadvantage and condemnation. All that we are asking is that before any of these voluntary amalgamations be permitted in the future, the social and human consequences shall be appraised and weighed in the balance, in order that the Commission can be satisfied that the disadvantages do not far exceed any advantages that can be claimed on their behalf.

The Secretary for Mines, at least by implication, admitted to-night that there may be strong human grounds for this Clause being embodied in the Bill. If that be so, the least that can be done in order that these human grounds may be considered is to accept the Amendment. There are Merthyr Tydfils, Rhondda Valleys, and Dowlais in different parts of this country, and the sufferings of the people, their disappointments, their bitter experiences and their poverty are the consequences of amalgamations which have been inspired by doubtful profit-making and by ignoring human considerations. In view of the fact that there appears to be some small measure of recognition on the part of the Government that there may be some justification for the new Clause, we hope that the Clause will not be completely ignored but that it will be weighed carefully by the Government. If that be done, I am certain that the decision will be that something on the lines suggested in the Clause should be embodied in the Bill.

7.47 p.m.

Mr. Gordon Macdonald

I want to put one practical consideration to the Secretary for Mines, and I hope he will consider it worth while to reply again. In my division there will be in days to come some voluntary amalgamations, and there will need to be also some compulsory amalgamations. What this Clause asks for is that there should be the same treatment for those who are displaced or in any way embarrassed by amalgamations, whether voluntary or compulsory. I should like the Minister to con- sider the position in my division of one village where an undertaking is closed down because of compulsory amalgamation. The President of the Board of Trade told us last Thursday that he is prepared to give consideration to the consequences of an amalgamation of that character. The miners in that village and the local authority will be given the opportunity of consultation which we are asking for in this Clause. In another village in my division there will be a voluntary amalgamation. I want the Minister to realise what my position will be in visiting those two villages. I shall have to explain that in the case of the village where compulsory amalgamation has taken place Parliament has decided to give consideration to those who are adversely affected, but in respect to the other village where a voluntary amalgamation has taken place I shall have to say that Parliament has decided that it shall not receive the same consideration.

The Secretary for Mines said that there is a difference between the two cases. He said that since compulsory amalgamation is imposed by this House as the result of an Act of Parliament, Parliament is responsible for the consequences and is compelled to give some undertaking; but since voluntary amalgamations take place without that consideration, we are not entitled to give the same undertaking. He is skating on very thin ice in this matter and the miners in my division do not appreciate these nice distinctions. I could understand his argument that if an undertaking such as we ask was given in regard to voluntary amalgamations, similar undertakings might be asked for in respect of voluntary amalgamations in other industries. I see the force of his argument, but it is weakened when we bear in mind what happened last Thursday when, after great pressure had been brought to bear from every party, the President of the Board of Trade promised to give consideration to the question before the Report stage. Is the Minister not prepared to give a similar undertaking as regards voluntary amalgamations as was given by the President of the Board of Trade regarding compulsory amalgamations?

I hope he will not tell us that there would be difficulty with other industries, which might make a claim in days to come. We are dealing now with a specific industry and with a question which was dealt with in a certain way last Thursday as regards compulsory amalgamations, and I cannot understand the Secretary for Mines trying to make the distinction. As a result of the Bill, when it becomes an Act, there will be voluntary amalgamations in different parts of the country, during the two years in which those voluntary arrangements can be made before compulsory amalgamations can operate. I would ask the Minister to give us the same undertaking for voluntary amalgamations which has been given for compulsory amalgamations.

7.52 p.m.

Mr. G. Griffiths

After the statement by the Secretary for Mines I wonder whether he understands the Clause. He said that this matter is only the small fringe of a very large problem. It may be the small fringe of a large problem to him but it is not a small fringe to the local authorities and the localities that will be affected. My mind goes back to villages and townships in my division where a quarter of a million pounds have been spent in the building of houses, not by a colliery company but by the locality. Some of those districts are already fairly highly rated. If under voluntary amalgamations they are not to be allowed to put their case, where is the trouble going to end? I have been in my constituency and have met some of the miners who are following this Bill very keenly. I attended my own council the other day, where they had been discussing Part I of the Bill from six o'clock until nearly 10 at night. They said to me: "George, There is nothing in that Bill for us," and they asked me to watch the amalgamations under Part II. Not only did the men put this view to me, but the managing director of a colliery wrote to me and said that they did not want compulsory amalgamations, and that if they had voluntary amalgamations then the township that would be affected should have an opportunity of putting its case before the amalgamation takes place. That is all that we ask for in this Clause.

With respect to that part of the Clause which asks that wage standards and the conditions and standards of the persons employed in such undertakings will not be prejudicially affected, I could give cases which came to my notice before I was elected to this House, where there were voluntary amalgamations and pits where strong trade union branches existed were closed because the men had stood out for a good price list. Other pits belonging to the same voluntary amalgamation which were not as strong from the trade union standpoint and had not stood up for a good price list were not closed. No one outside the mining community understands what price lists men, but we in the industry know that it is necessary to be vigilant, because there has been filching in regard to prices. Some of our men have had experiences Wednesday after Wednesday when the deputy has come round and wanted to cut down this price and the other price, but generally the trade union activities have been able to maintain the prices. We are asking that the standards of wages shall not be affected.

I am sorry that the hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) is not present, because I want to refer to a pit that had been voluntarily amalgamated by his business concern. The pit was in a little village that was fairly prosperous, but the pit was closed down and has been closed for five years, with the exception of keeping the pumps going. That has been done because there was a good price list made at that pit and the company could get coal cheaper from a pit five or six miles away. The local authority had put up a considerable number of houses there, and now the place is practically derelict. This is a great problem to the people in my own township, where I live, and the people there are watching it very closely. They have a strong trade union branch there and have maintained price lists since 1926, which cannot be said of many pits.

My last point is in regard to the transference or absorption of workers who are displaced. In voluntary amalgamations in the past they have not cared a pinch of salt about the men displaced. Where there has been a strong trade union branch and they have maintained price lists and a pit has been shut down, they have not taken the men on at other pits. The men have been turned away, and the next day the company have started other men from districts perhaps six miles away. We look upon this matter with the greatest amount of caution. We ask that in voluntary amalgamations the men who have served the company before the amalgamation should have the first chance of work with the same company elsewhere.

I am amazed that the Government are not prepared to accept the new Clause. If the Clause had come from the Government Benches the Government would not only have given it consideration but probably the Secretary for Mines would have said: "We think this is a very nice, reasonable Clause, and on behalf of the President of the Board of Trade and myself I may say that we are prepared to accept it." We do not want sympathy to be shovelled out to us and then to be told when the test comes that the Government cannot accept our Amendment. We ask for a favourable consideration of the Clause, because the matter in question is causing great concern to the mine-workers who have given the best part of their lives to the industry.

8.0 p.m.

Mr. Jenkins

; I agree with the hon. Member for the English Universities (Mr. Harvey) that the Minister's reply was unsatisfactory. There can be no doubt about that, because the Minister has put himself in precisely the same position as the colliery company which in relation to amalgamation considers only the narrow point of view of its own interests. Colliery companies have confined themselves to that one consideration in the case of previous amalgamations and the Minister is now taking up exactly the same attitude. Surely it is the duty of the British Parliament to take into consideration all the social questions involved in a matter of this kind and the Minister ought to have regard to the wider issues with which we are concerned. The Minister to-night has given a point-blank refusal to our request and his argument is something like this: There is mechanisation in the mines and that displaces men; we know also that amalgamations will take place. Thus, there are two blacks, says the Minister, in effect, and we want to make a white out of them. But he did not advance one reason why we should not give consideration to the interests of the nation and to the wider social questions involved when he was opposing the proposed new Clause.

May I give a case from my own district? The colliery in which I began work is a small colliery now employing 600 men, but there are two villages dependent on it. Sooner or later, Monmouthshire collieries will be amalgamated and it may be that that colliery will be closed and those two villages left derelict. That will impose a charge on the nation although the colliery company may get away with a slight advantage for the time being. We see in Merthyr Tydfil at the present time a result of amalgamations and removal of works. It is a standing example. How many millions of pounds of State money have been poured out in that case? It seems to me that the Minister is not prepared to take any step in reference to the matter dealt with in our proposals. He says that it would be dangerous to do so. But there is a well-known precedent for doing something of the kind proposed in the new Clause. In the Third Schedule to the Railways Act of 1921 there is a provision that every existing officer, as from the date of amalgamation or absorption, is to become an officer or servant of the amalgamated company. There is a provision by which in the case of voluntary amalgamations, the amalgamated company has to make provision for every servant displaced by the amalgamation.

We do not go as far as that, but we ask that some authority should give consideration to all the factors involved, and the Minister's reply is "No." That is a completely unreasonable attitude. It is not in the interests of the nation and Parliament will do a wrong thing if it allows colliery companies to consider only the question of whether or not they will be able to save a 1d. or 2d. or 3d. a ton by closing down certain collieries, when we know that the closing of those collieries will render villages derelict, and deprive people of their livelihood. On Thursday last, when we were discussing compulsory amalgamations, the suggestion was put forward by the President of the Board of Trade that there should be a Parliamentary Committee for the consideration of points that would arise in connection with those amalgamations. My hon. Friend the Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) has now made that proposal to the Minister in regard to voluntary amalgamations. So far, the Minister has turned down that proposal. Is the Minister's attitude not an anti-social one as far as these amalgamations and their consequences are concerned? Is he considering only the welfare of individual companies? Has he no respect for those communities which may be left derelict by amalgamations?

All we ask is that full consideration should be given to these matters, and I think we ought to have a more satisfactory reply than has been given to us up to the present. It is no good saying that this proposal does not go far enough. It is at any rate a step in the right direction and the Minister has not advanced any argument to show why that step should not be taken in the interests of the workers and the communities concerned. Local authorities ought to have some status in this matter. For years we have been considering problems of the kind that arise from amalgamations. We call them by all kinds of names. We refer to Special Areas, and distressed areas, and all the rest of them. These problems arise from bad organisation in industry, and if these amalgamations are persisted in without any consideration being given to the interests of the people concerned and the larger questions involved, we shall continue to do damage such as we have already seen in so many mining areas. I ask the Minister to reply to the suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Seaham. This is a tremendously important matter and ought not to be treated lightly by him. He ought to give us a definite reply one way or the other. If he is not prepared to meet our demand, the obligation rests upon him to give more substantial reasons for his attitude than he has given so far.

8.8 p.m.

Mr. Sexton

When my hon. Friend the Member for Consett (Mr. David Adams) described himself as an optimist a smile went round the Committee. I suppose if I call myself a simple unsophisticated country-lover hon. Members will find occasion for amusement. But my lot was cast for many years in green pastures and beside the still waters, and it was not until I came to this great city of London that I realised that such a valuation could be placed upon human life as that which is exemplified in this Bill. The various owners concerned have all been considered except one. The owner of the minerals is to be safeguarded and compensated and the owner of the mine is also to be awarded compensation, but the man who owns the labour which is put into the working of the mine is ignored and given no consideration under this Bill. The local authorities are also to be left derelict. I have said that I come from a country district. I should explain that it is the derelict area of South-West Durham. If I were to enlarge on the condition of that area I should doubtless be pulled up by the Chair, and I will only refer to the number of mines which have been closed in that area during the last few years—not all by amalgamation but some by amalgamation.

Between 1917 and 1937 the number of mines has been reduced from 91 to 79. The rateable value has fallen and yet the social services have to be kept going by local authorities, and if amalgamations are to continue and if local authorities are to be saddled with further burdens of this kind, they will soon be worse than bankrupt. Not only are the local authorities and the miners affected. The workers generally in those districts are also affected. Much has been said, and I endorse every word of it, about the miners' welfare. We have also to remember that when the miners are out of work tradesmen and people in shops cannot pay their assistants and are compelled to discharge some of those assistants. Not only the miners but shopkeepers and tradesmen are concerned in this matter. In the district to which I refer the number of men engaged in the mines alone, has been reduced from 33,300 to 22,400. We ask that something should be done. The Secretary for Mines said that our proposal only touched the fringe of the problem. Has he forgotten the historic case in which if the hem of the garment were touched, inspiration followed. I suggest that if the Government would only touch the fringe, as we ask them to do in this case, inspiration might come to them and enable them to deal with the problem as a whole.

8.11 p.m.

Mr. Ridley

I cannot think that the very forceful speeches which have been made from this side of the Committee are not going to produce a further reply from the Government. I have seldom listened to a speech which was such a negation of both fact and logic as that which we heard on behalf of the Government. The hon. and gallant Gentleman appeared to think that if Parliament established any sort of control over voluntary amalgama- tions, it would be a revolutionary principle. My hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Jenkins) has made an interesting reference to the Railways Act, 1921. The existing railway companies cannot engage in voluntary amalgamation without legislative permission and authority and if they came to Parliament for that authority, Parliament would attach to it a provision for compensation against displacement or worsened conditions of employment. My hon. Friends have not yet made their claim in this matter as high as that, but they are making a claim which is in line with the provisions of the Railways Act, 1921.

The Government's attitude on that point is the negation of fact. The negation of logic is more perplexing. The Minister seems to assume that every compulsory amalgamation agreed to by the Commission will be, or is likely to be, against the public interest, and that, therefore, there must be some appeal against it to a Select Committee of both Houses. He seemed at the same time to assume that voluntary amalgamation over which the Commission has no control, will be in no case against the public interest and that there is no need for any sort of public control over them. Does any hon. Member assume that no voluntary amalgamation can ever have any undesirable characteristics into which public inquiry ought to be made and in regard to which there ought to be public control? I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the Government's desire is that the mining industry should evade every form of public inquiry and control by hastening on with their voluntary amalgamations so that they will escape the provision promised last Thursday.

Then the Minister in another so-called argument against the Clause said there were other causes of unemployment than amalgamations, and that these were unavoidable causes. Is it any justification for not dealing with an avoidable cause to say that you cannot at the same time deal with an unavoidable cause? Surely the reasoning should be in the opposite direction. If there is a cause of unemployment over which Parliament can exercise some control, however small, it ought to exercise that control. I add my voice in this Debate in the hope that the Minister even now will see the logic of the arguments put forward from this side, and will provide some assurance that will satisfy my hon. Friends.

8.15 p.m.

Mr. Garro Jones

A great many arguments have been put forward, and, if the Minister persistently declines to answer them, we must draw our own conclusion that no effective answer to them can be made. In these circumstances it would be a pity to allow the Debate to end without reviewing briefly the true reasons why the Government are unwilling to accept the Clause. The fundamental point at issue is whether, where amalgamations take place in industry—whether compulsory or voluntary it matters not—the same provisions of just compensation should apply to the labour that is displaced as to the capital which is injuriously affected. I have noticed, in all these half-hearted Socialistic Measures which Conservative Governments reluctantly put forward, that whenever there is any proposal to expropriate or injuriously affect a money interest there are invariably the most elaborate provisions for compensation for the capital affected or displaced. It is only of late years, under the strongest and most sustained pressure, that the Government have ever recognised that labour displaced is entitled to the slightest consideration.

The Minister believes that in opposing this new principle he is opposing a revolutionary principle, but in point of fact he is doing the exact opposite, because the strongest argument against the principle of compensating capital is the argument that, when labour is displaced, compensation is invariably refused. I wonder what a coal miner will think when he sees the arguments used to condemn him if he feels reluctant to compensate a capital interest that has been displaced. How much ink has been spilt in criticism of those who in the past have advocated that policy. It is no part of the policy of this party to-day; we wish to compensate equally the labour and the capital interests; but in the past, when the word "confiscation" has been mentioned, the newspapers have been full of criticisms, the hoardings have been placarded with the words "Confiscation is Robbery." What will a coal miner think, as he comes out of a mine which has been compulsorily or voluntarily amalgamated and closed down, if he sees this criticism against the confiscation of capital? What argument of natural justice can be adduced to show that labour displaced is not entitled to compensation equally with capital displaced? There is no answer to this Clause in common justice, and the reason why the Minister is not able to accept it at present is that it will drive him up against the inevitable conclusion that natural justice in industry at the present time can only be accorded by a thorough-going system of Socialism and State control of industry. We are moving steadily towards that end, and the Minister will be forced to acknowledge it before many years have past.

8.20 p.m.

Mr. James Griffiths

The Minister has given a point-blank refusal to this Clause. No doubt he will put on the Whips and the Clause will be defeated, and this will be the last occasion on which we shall be able to raise this matter effectively during the passage of the Bill. I want to add one suggestion. When there was a revolt on the other side, twice during the past week, two things happened. On the occasion of the first revolt, with regard to compulsory amalgamation, the Government caved in. They surrendered to a number of people who represent but a tiny fraction of the number represented by those who have spoken from this side to-night. We shall not forget to tell the country that they surrendered to a vested interest but are deaf to the appeals of large masses of the people. The other revolt was on the part of people not quite so important—the small industrial consumers, whose voices we heard last night. The Minister did not surrender to them, but he did the next best thing. We were told that he and the President of the Board of Trade met the Central Mining Association, and that, while the Government could not surrender any more, they had had very specific assurances from the Mining Association that such-and-such things should be done. They were read out here yesterday.

I want to suggest to the Secretary for Mines that, if we are defeated on this Clause, he should once more go and see the coalowners, the people who will be responsible for voluntary amalgamations, who may, indeed, be already busy considering them, not perhaps in London, but in the mining areas. I would like to see all discussions on the amalgamations of collieries held in the mining villages, so that people could be taken round and shown what the consequences would be if they go on with it. Will the Secretary for Mines approach the coal-owners and ask them to give him another pledge that they will not proceed with any scheme of voluntary amalgamation until they have consulted the Commission and satisfied the Commission that in the voluntary amalgamation there will be the same protective provisions, meagre as they are, that there will be in the case of compulsory amalgamations? I do not think that that is asking too much. The Minister has been to the coalowners to satisfy those on his side who are supporters of money, wealth and privilege. Will he now go to the coalowners and ask them for a pledge not to carry through any voluntary amalgamation unless the same protection is given as is accorded in the case of compulsory amalgamation? Unless he is willing to do that, we shall again remind the country that he went to see the coalowners at the request of the financiers, but will not go to see them at the request of the people.

8.23 p.m.

Sir S. Cripps

I would ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman to give an answer on the suggestion which has just been put forward, and which seems to me to be eminently a reasonable suggestion. He went to the coalowners to get them to do things, which he said yesterday could not be put into the Bill, for the benefit of certain interests. Is he willing to go to the coalowners, in the interests of the miners and the local authorities, to get from them, if he can, some undertaking that in future amalgamation schemes there will at least be consultation with those who will be affected? The matter is one of very vital importance. This is the last occasion that we shall have of putting into the Bill a single mention of any sort, kind or description of the mining community or the local authorities as being interested in the mining problem of this country. So far the Bill is absolutely blank as regards any such interests. As far as the Bill goes, they might not exist. We have tried uniformly to get protection for these people inserted, somewhat on the lines of the very elaborate protection that is provided for other interests. If that cannot be done, will the Minister tell us whether he will at least approach the coalowners and see if they will give some form of guarantee?

8.25 p.m.

Captain Crookshank

Of course, I am always prepared to consider any suggestion made in debate, and I will consider it.

Mr. Shinwell

On the question of compulsory amalgamation, it was agreed by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade to bring up the matter on the Report stage. Will the Minister agree to bring up this matter on the Report stage after he and his right hon. Friend have given proper consideration to it?

Captain Crookshank

I will think over what is to be done.

Mr. Shinwell

Do I understand that, in accordance with what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), the hon. Gentleman will consider it and bring it up on the Report stage?

Captain Crookshank

Hon. Members must be reasonable. The suggestion was made to me on the spur of the moment, and I said that I will consider it.

Sir S. Cripps

How can we get to know what the hon. Gentleman has decided? Will he reply on a question, or will he tell us on Report?

Captain Crookshank

There will be an opportunity to let hon. Members opposite know.

8.28 p.m.

Mr. Shinwell

This seems such an important matter that I feel we might have the presence of the President of the Board of Trade. In order to ensure his presence, I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

The Chairman

I cannot accept that Motion.

Mr. Shinwell

May I, with great respect to you, Sir Dennis, point out that during the whole of this Debate we have not had any word from the right hon. Gentleman himself, although the Debate has run on for several hours. In view of submissions made by my hon. Friends, and, I may add, by hon. Members on the other side, who have sympathised, at all events, with the sentiments expressed in the Clause, the right hon. Gentleman might have been present.

The Chairman

The hon. Member has made his point. I am afraid I cannot accept the Motion.

Captain Crookshank

After all, we have had a very long discussion on this matter and I think that perhaps the Committee is now ready to come to a decision on this Clause. We have had a great number of speeches, and the case has been very fully put. Right at the end of the discussion an hon. Gentleman put to me the question of whether I would consider discussing a matter with the colliery owners. I said that on this, as on other matters, I am always prepared to consider the question. I will see that an opportunity is given for letting hon. Members know my decision. Now, I suggest that we should leave this point, as there are a number of new Clauses of great interest which still await us.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Lansbury

What I cannot understand is why there should be any difficulty about the Minister telling us that he will reply to a question put to him as to the result of his conversations with the coalowners. Surely he can say, yes or no?

Captain Crookshank

I said there would be an opportunity, and I will repeat that, in order to please the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Lansbury

No, I do not want to be pleased. What we want is that the President of the Board of Trade or the Secretary for Mines shall consult with the owners, in the same way as they consulted on a previous occasion, but this time on the proposition that we put forward, and that they will inform hon. Members of the result of those conversations.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 129; Noes, 207.

Division No. 87.] AYES. [4.57 p.m.
Adams, D. (Consett) Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Oliver, G. H.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Parker, J.
Adamson, W. M. Groves, T. E. Parkinson, J. A.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Price, M. P.
Banfield, J. W. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Pritt, D. N.
Barnes, A. J. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Quibell, D. J. K.
Barr, J. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Ridley, G.
Ba,ey, J. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Riley, B.
Bellenger, F. J. Hollins, A. Ritson, J
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Hopkin, D. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)
Benson, G. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)
Bevan, A. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Sexton. T. M.
Broad, F. A. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Shinwell, E.
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Simpson, F. B.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Buchanan, G. Kelly, W. T. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Cape, T. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)
Charleton. H. C. Kirby, B. V. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Chater, D. Kirkwood, D. Sorensen, R. W.
Cluse, W. S. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Stephen, C.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Lathan, G. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Cocks, F. S. Lawson, J. J. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Cove, W. G. Leach, W. Thorne, W.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Lee, F. Thurtle, E.
Daggar, G. Leonard, W. Tinker, J. J.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Leslie, J. R. Viant, S. P.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Logan, D. G. Walkden, A. G.
Day, H. Lunn, W. Walker, J.
Dobbie, W. Macdonald, G. (Ince) Watkins, F. C.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) McEntee, V. La T. Watson, W. McL.
Ede, J. C. McGhee, H. G. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Maclean, N. Westwood, J.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Mander, G. le M. Wilkinson, Ellen
Frankel, D. Marklew, E. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Gallacher, W. Marshall, F. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Gardner, B. W. Maxton, J. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Garro Jones, G. M. Messer, F. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Gibson, R. (Greenock) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Muff, G. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Naylor, T. E. Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Mathers.
Grentell, D. R. Noel-Baker, P. J.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Channon, H. Denman, Hon. R. D.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Denville, Alfred
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.) Dodd, J. S.
Assheton, R. Christie, J. A. Doland, G. F.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Clarke, F. E. (Dartford) Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H.
Atholl, Duchess of Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead) Drewe, C.
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Clarry, Sir Reginald Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Clydesdale, Marquess of Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)
Balniel, Lord Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Dugdale, Captain T. L.
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Colfox, Major W P. Duncan, J. A. L
Barrie, Sir C. C. Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Dunglass, Lord
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Conant, Captain R. J. E. Eckersley, P. T.
Beechman, N. A. Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Edmondson, Major Sir J.
Bennett, Sir E. N. Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Ellis, Sir G.
Bossom, A. C. Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs) Elliston, Capt. G. S.
Boulton, W. W. Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Elmley, Viscount
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Emery, J. F.
Brass, Sir W. Cox, H. B. Trevor Emmott, C. E. G. C.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Craven-Ellis, W. Entwistle, Sir C. F.
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Critchley, A. Errington, E.
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Crooke, Sir J. S. Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)
Burton, Col. H. W. Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C Everard, W. L.
Butter, R. A. Crossley, A. C. Findlay, Sir E.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Culverwell, C. T. Fox, Sir G. W. G.
Cartland, J. R. H. Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Fremantle, Sir F. E.
Carver, Major W. H. Davison, Sir W. H. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Dawson, Sir P. Gluckstein, L. H.
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) De Chair, S. S. Grant-Ferris, R.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Do la Bère, R. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.
Greens, W. P. C. (Worcester) MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G. Seely, Sir H. M.
Gredley, Sir A. B. McCorquodale, M. S. Shakespeare, G. H.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Maclay, Hon. J. P. Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)
Grimston, R. V. Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Magnay, T. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)
Guinnoss, T L. E. B. Matins, Brig.-Gen. E Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)
Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. K. D. R. Smith, L. W. (Hallam)
Hambro, A. V. Marsden, Commander A. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham) Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Harris, Sir P. A. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Harvey, Sir G. Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.) Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.
Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Storey, S.
Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)
Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Morgan, R. H. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Hepworth, J. Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Higgs, W. F. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Tasker, Sir R. I.
Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon) Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H. Tate, Mavis C.
Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S. Nicholson, G. (Farnham) Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Holdsworth, H. O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Holmes, J. S. Orr-Ewing, I. L. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J Palmer, G. E. H. Titchfield. Marquess of
Hopkinson, A. Patrick, C. M. Touche, G. C.
Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L. Peat, C. U. Train, Sir J.
Howitt, Dr. A. B. Perkins, W. R. D. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Petherick, M. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Pickthorn, K. W. M. Tufnell. Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Hume, Sir G. H. Pensonby, Col. C. E. Turton, R. H.
Hunter, T. Porritt, R. W. Wakefield, W. W.
Kurd, Sir P. A Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Hutchinson, G. C. Procter, Major H. A. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Jarvis, Sir J. J. Radford, E. A. Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Rankin, Sir R. Warrender, Sir V.
Keeling, E. H. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Waterhouse, Captain C.
Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Rawson, Sir Cooper Watt, Major G. S. Harvie
Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Reed, A. C. (Exeter) White, H. Graham
Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.) Wickham, Lt.-Cot. E. T. R.
Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F. Ropner, Colonel L. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Lamb, Sir J. Q. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge) Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Leech, Sir J. W. Rothschild, J. A. de Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Lees-Jones, J. Rowlands, G. Wise, A. R.
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R. Withers, Sir J. J.
Lewis, O. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Liddall, W. S. Russell, Sir Alexander Wragg, H.
Lipson, D. L. Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury) Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Lloyd, G. W. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Salmon, Sir I.
Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Salt. E. W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. Cross and Major Herbert.
Division No. 88.] AYES. [8.31 p.m.
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Parkinson, J. A.
Adams, D. (Consett) Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Price, M. P.
Ammon, C. G. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Pritt, D. N.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Hayday, A. Quibell, D. J. K.
Banfield, J. W. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Ridley, G.
Barnes, A. J. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Riley, B.
Barr, J. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Ritson, J.
Batey, J. Hollins, A. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Hopkin, D. Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)
Benson, G. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Seely, Sir H. M.
Bevan, A. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Sexton, T. M.
Broad, F. A. John, W. Shinwell, E.
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Silkin, L.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. CS. Ayrshire) Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Simpson, F. B.
Buchanan, G. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)
Cape, T. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Charleton, H. C. Kelly, W. T. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Chater, D. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)
Cluse, W. S. Kirby, B. V. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Kirkwood, D. Stephen, C.
Cocks, F. S. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Cove, W. G. Lawson, J. J. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Leach, W. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Daggar, G. Leonard, W. Thorne, W.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Leslie, J. R. Thurtle, E.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Logan, D. G. Tinker, J. J.
Day, H. Lunn, W. Viant, S. P.
Dobbie, W. Macdonald, G. (Ince) Walkden, A. G.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) McEntee, V. La T. Watkins, F. C.
Ede, J. C. McGhee, H. G. Watson, W. McL.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Maclean, N. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Marshall, F. Westwood, J.
Fletcher, Lt. Comdr. R. T. H. Mathers, G. White, H. Graham
Frankel, D. Maxton, J. Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Gardner, B. W. Messer, F. Wilkinson, Ellen
Garro Jones, G. M. Milner, Major J. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Gibson, R. (Greenock) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Nathan, Colonel H. L. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Noel-Baker. P. J. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Oliver, G. H.
Grenfell, D. R. Owen, Major G. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Parker, J. Mr. Groves and Mr. Adamson.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Cower, Sir R. V.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Grant-Ferris, R.
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Cranborne, Viscount Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Tha[...]) Craven-Ellis, W. Gridley, Sir A. B.
Balniel, Lord Critchley, A. Grimston, R. V.
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Gritten, W. G. Howard
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Crooke, Sir J. S. Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake)
Beechman, N. A. Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Guinness, T. L. E. B.
Bernays, R. H. Croom-Johnson, R. P. Hambro, A. V.
Birchall, Sir J. D. Cross, R. H. Hannon, Sir P. J. H.
Blair, Sir R. Crowder, J. F. E. Harbord, A.
Boulton, W. W. Culverwell, C. T. Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.
Boyce, H. Leslie Dawson, Sir P. Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.
Brass, Sir W. De Chair, S. S. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. De la Bère, R. Hepworth, J.
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Denman, Hon. R. D. Higgs, W. F.
Bull, B. B. Denville, Alfred Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.
Bullock, Capt. M. Doland. G. F. Holmes, J. S.
Burton, Col. H. W. Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H. Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.
Butler, R. A. Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Dugdale, Captain T. L. Horsbrugh, Florence
Cartland, J. R. H. Duncan, J. A. L. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)
Carver, Major W. H. Eastwood, J. F. Hume, Sir G. H.
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Edmondson, Major Sir J. Hunter, T.
Channon, H. Elliot, Rt Hon. W. E. Hutchinson, G. C.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Ellis, Sir G. James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.
Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.) Elliston, Capt. G. S. Jarvis, Sir J. J.
Christie, J. A. Emery, J. F. Keeling, E. H.
Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead) Emmott, C. E. G. C. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)
Clydesdale, Marquess of Erskine-Hill, A. G. Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)
Colfox, Major W. P. Findlay, Sir E. Lamb, Sir J. Q.
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Fox, Sir G. W. G. Law. R. K. (Hull, S. W.)
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J. Leech, Sir J. W.
Cooke. J. D. Hammersmith, S.) Gluckstein, L. H. Lees-Jones, J.
Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Ponsonby, Col, C. E. Storey, S.
Lewis, O. Porritt, R. W. Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.
Liddall, W. S. Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Lipson, D. L. Procter, Major H. A. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Little, Sir E. Graham- Radford, E. A. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M Sutcliffe, H.
McCorquodale, M. S. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Tasker, Sir R. I.
Maclay, Hon. J. P. Rawson, Sir Cooper Tate, Mavis C.
Magnay, T. Rayner, Major R. H. Thomas, J. P. L.
Makins, Brig.-Gen. E. Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Manningham-Buller, Sir M Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Titchfield, Marquess of
Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool) Touche, G. C.
Markham, S. F. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry) Tree, A. R. L. F.
Marsden, Commander A. Ross Taylor, w. (Woodbridge) Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M. Rowlands, G. Turton, R. H.
May hew, Lt Col. J. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R. Wakefield, W. W.
Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Mills, Major J. D. (New Forests) Russell, Sir Alexander Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Morgan, R. H. Salmon, Sir I. Warrender, Sir V.
Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Salt, E. W. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Samuel, M. R. A. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. Sanderson, Sir F. B. Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Nall Sir J. Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H. Savery, Sir Servington Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Scott, Lord William Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Orr-Ewing, I. L. Selley, H. R. Wise, A. R.
Peat, C. U. Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree) Withers, Sir J. J.
Perkins, W. R. D. Smith, L. W. (Hallam) Womersley, Sir W. J.
Peters, Dr. S. J. Somervell. Sir D. B. (Crewe) Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Petherick, M. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Pickthorn, K. W. M. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Pilkington, R. Spens. W. P. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Plugge, Capt. L. F. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd) Major Herbert and Mr. James