§ 3.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Greenwood
I beg to move,That this House deplores the fact that over two million persons are workless, views with grave concern the evidence of widespread and serious malnutrition, is of opinion that an immediate improvement in their standard of maintenance is urgently necessary, and regrets the continued failure of His Majesty's Government either to produce definite plans for the provision of work and wages under the present system or to initiate a policy which recognises that the problem can only be solved by the application of socialist principles.We are moving this Vote of Censure because we believe there is a feeling, not confined to this side of the House, of grave concern at the enormous army of unemployed which is increasing and because of the social consequences which flow from this large social unemployment. I should like to ask the Government today to answer two specific questions: First, do they intend to take any further steps to ameliorate the lot of the unemployed; and, secondly, have they any considered plans with the object of providing socially useful work for these people? Usually, in these Debates on unemployment we ask for bread, and we are given a lump of statistics by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour. Judging by the size of his portfolio today we shall probably get them again. But statistics, however comforting they may be to the right hon. Gentleman, do not bring comfort to the workers or give them any new hope.
The hearts of the people of this country and other countries have recently been touched by the sorrowful plight of political and racial refugees—and quite rightly. But what of the 2,000,000 industrial refugees in this country, young workers, juvenile workers, now on the threshold of life, and that large number of elderly workers whose chance of a foothold grows more slender as time goes by? Schemes are being worked out for the permanent settlement of refugees in various parts of the world. It is quite right that it should be so. It is a recognition of the fact that we are our brother's keeper in the last resort. But what about schemes for resettling our own unemployed, our kith and kin, in industrial life again? Cannot we touch the hearts of the people as deeply for our own folk as they have been touched by the misery and sufferings of exiles from other lands? 1946 On grounds of humanity and justice the outcasts, whether they are political, racial or economic, must be re-established and strengthened so as to play again a full part in the life of the community in which they dwell. There is a parallel between the refugees who are one of the gravest problems to-day and the unemployed, and it is a close parallel The conscience of mankind feels that these outcasts ought to be treated generously and honourably. That claim we make on the part of the unemployed workers of this country. No mere ambulance work is sufficient. First aid is not enough. We ask that all our people, whether employed or unemployed, should be kept in health and strength, and that the unemployed should be brought into active work of national value.
What is the situation to-day? We have an army of over 2,000,000 people out of work. We are getting to a position now where we shall always have, in good times as well, a standing army of 2,000,000 unemployed. Even rearmament is not keeping pace with the recession of trade, and we shall become accustomed, as indeed we are, because of economic tendencies, to this enormous number of people for whom work is not available. The right hon. Gentleman will probably try to put the best face on his figures. He may try to explain away some of the gravity of the situation. He may do something to soften the rather harsh outlines of this grim spectacle. But whatever complexion he may put on the figures, it is true that because of unemployment a substantial number of our men, women and children are suffering diabolically. Unemployment to-day stands at almost exactly the same figure as in January, 1936, that is, three years ago. In the interval it has fallen, but it is creeping up again.
Two million unemployed, one out of every six or seven unemployed for over a year, a proportion of them even more, unfortunately, for many years. The majority of the people who have been out of work the longest, there is no doubt the Minister will tell us, are people over 45 years of age, not all of them old men, but men who to-day are really in the prime of life and still capable of useful service to the country. At the other end of the scale are juvenile workers unemployed at an impressionable and formative time of life but finding no proper 1947 outlet for their energies. This is not a situation which we can regard with satisfaction. It means that we are not making full use of our human resources. It means that human energy is now being allowed to run to waste. Not only so, but unemployment brings poverty in its train, and poverty is as great an enemy of freedom as dictatorship, because poverty tends to break the spirit, it saps human vitality, it impairs health and vigour. Unemployment through poverty, through the malnutrition which follows poverty, through that mental strain which comes to every unemployed worker at home—these things to-day are causing death, disease and disability.
In recent months there have been published two books which I commend to Members of the House. The first, by R. M. Titmus, is entitled "Poverty and Population," and its sub-title holds a wealth of meaning, "A factual study of contemporary social waste." The other book, entitled in simple language, "Men Without Work" is a report by outstanding economists and social students made to the Pilgrim Trust, whose standing on matters of this kind no one will question. The Archbishop of York, whose words may be accepted if mine are not, says this in his introduction:The report shows the existence of such a state of affairs that acquiescence in existing activities as a policy for the present cannot be tolerated, and as a policy for the future may be exceedingly dangerous.Let me read to hon. Members two short quotations from this book. One is as to the effect of unemployment on children, and it is written in carefully considered language:The immediate effect on the children is not necessarily as serious as might appear, though we shall record below our impression that there is a greater degree of ill-health in the large families, which must come partly from the circumstances in which they are living. All of us were agreed that in most unemployed families the parents, and in particular the wives, bore the burden of want, and in many instances were literally starving themselves in order to feed and clothe the children reasonably well. But the indirect effects on the children are of course very great. They are inevitably growing up to accept low material standards and growing up in an atmosphere of strain. Both these factors are going to play an important, though as yet not a precisely calculable part, in their lives.Then this sentence is pregnant with meaning: 1948It will not be surprising if many of them feel that their future, to use the words spoken by one of the unemployed men in the sample to one of us, is to 'stand behind their father in the queue.'That outlook is grim, and I should imagine distasteful, to every one in this House. Then there is a reference to an investigation by a Glasgow doctor, published in the "British Medical Journal." He examined a group of 1,000 insured sick people to find out why it was they were incapacitated from work. He found that in approximately one-third of the cases the reason for the incapacity was not organic but psycho-neurotic; in other words mental trouble causing physical disability. The report states:Doctor Halliday's view is confirmed by that expressed to us by the medical officer in one of the places visited. His opinion was that the principal effects of prolonged unemployment on the health of the unemployed men themselves were a subtle undermining of the constitution through lack of physical exertion, the absence of physical stimuli, insufficiently varied diet, worry, and the emergence of abnormal psychological conditions characterised by disabling fears, anxieties and sympathetic physical conditions, functional disorders and the like.He gave a number of striking examples of local men who had been apparently normal when in work but had gone to pieces after being unemployed for several years. The report goes on to quote a number of cases of that kind. We are entitled to ask, what are the Government proposing to do to meet this situation? Clearly degeneration, disease, disability and abnormality must be stemmed if men are to be saved from decay, whatever it may mean in sacrifice, in care and forethought. My submission is that something more must be done. Idle men, idle land and idle plant present a tragic spectacle which is intolerable. It is a confession of our failure to marry these three agencies of production together. For that we claim to have a solution. A solution has not yet been adopted by the National Government.
To-day we see British shipbuilders sending their ships to be broken in foreign shipyards. We even see them getting new ships built in foreign shipyards, whilst berths in our own shipyards are empty. The Mercantile Marine is an essential auxiliary of the Royal Navy, and it is high time that the Government took a hand in the problem of securing the 1949 efficiency of our Mercantile Marine. Moreover, the various sections and schools of thought in the cotton industry are allowed to continue to wrangle whilst our premier manufacturing export industry is allowed to languish. Land is permitted to go out of cultivation whilst farmers are harassed perpetually by changing Ministers of Agriculture. That Department of the Government is rapidly becoming the grave of political reputations.
During recent years, as most Members of the House know, in many parts of the country thousands of acres of land have been under water. In some districts there has been the depressing sight of flooded fields stretching as far as the eye can see, whilst the Minister of Agriculture fiddles about with his pettifogging food Orders and devises more and more forms for the bewilderment of the farming community. That, I think it will be admitted, is a true description of a large number of the activities of the Minister of Agriculture. Further, the people of this country are anxious that every possible step should be taken to protect the civilian population, and especially the women and children, in the event of war. During the crisis, trenches were hastily dug and allowed to become waterlogged and derelict. In spite of the proved value of deep shelters in Spain the Government still continue to waver in their policy on this important matter.
Amid all this mess and muddle and delay the Government permit a serious profiteering ramp to continue, which means that the nation's resources are being dissipated instead of being properly utilised for constructive purposes. Whilst all these things are taking place there are great forces working in our economic system. According to a Memorandum of the Royal Economic Society, the increase in physical output per operative in this country from 1930 to 1935, that is five years, was 27 per cent. for all industries. The greatest increase was in the engineering trade, where the output per operative employed increased by 57 per cent. [HON. MEMBERS: "Higher."] I quote what is a reasonable estimate from an authoritative source—57 per cent. increase over five years, an increase which is still going on. One is entitled to ask, what is to be the end of all this? The statements that I have made are undeniable. What has been done? So far as I know, in spite of these repeated 1950 Debates on the subject, next to nothing has been done. Who is responsible for this state of affairs? There opposite lies the responsibility—a miserable, melancholy set of Micawbers always waiting for something to turn up. The one thing that has turned up is rearmament, and rearmament is no solution to the problem. I hope that so far I have carried the House with me, although there may be a slight difference of opinion on the question of the dilatoriness of the Government.
Hon. Members on these benches believe that the situation calls for far-reaching action which, although hon. Members opposite may find it difficult to stomach, must be on Socialist lines. In our Motion, we condemn the Government because they will not give us a plan of their own within the four corners of this tottering Capitalist system, nor will they accept the only conceivable alternative. They must do one or the other. If they cannot produce a plan of their own to deal with the problem which is destroying the morale of hundreds of thousands of our people, then they must deal with it under our plan. It is not my business to give the Government a policy, but I propose to devote a few moments to putting ideas into their heads.
The problem of the unemployed is primarily a problem of man-power. The figures I have quoted with regard to the rationalisation and mechanisation which, have been going on for a long time, go to show that in normal circumstances we shall never again require the same amount of man-power. In other words, we have to think in terms of organising for leisure. Labour should enjoy the advantages which accrue from greater productivity, and, therefore, should not be called upon to work so long. There should be a shorter working life; people ought not to go into industry so early and they ought to be permitted to retire at a lower age than they do. There should be a shorter working week and a shorter working day, there should be holidays with pay, and there should be the abolition, as far as possible, of overtime. These things are beginning to come, but only as a result of terrific pressure from the trade union movement, and against the will of the employers' organisations. It is clear that if this problem is to be tackled, we must regulate the available labour power in. the country in accordance with the 1951 demands for its use, and that means following, to a greater or less degree, according to the colour of the Government in power, the policy I have outlined.
I suggest to the House that one way of tackling the problem would be to increase the purchasing power of the masses, by giving better wages all round and more generous allowances. I fear that may be described as taking from the rich to give to the poor, but it would be productive economically, for it would divert money from less socially advantageous uses to more socially advantageous uses, and would lead to an expansion in the area of employment. We must organise for foreign trade, which we are not doing now. For years the cotton industry has been starving. The different sections of the industry cannot agree, and the Government, to save the industry, ought to impose their will on it. Something on those lines, and some organisation of our foreign trade in other directions, must come. Then, it is inevitable that, in order to meet this situation, we should have that minimum of nationalisation which we on these benches regard as being immediately essential, as the one way of organising our resources with an eye to the public good, and regardless of the individual interests of shareholders. We believe it is only in that way that the unemployment problem can cease to be the menace that it is to-day.
There are, then, the immediate piece of work for which hon. Members in all parts of the House have pressed on different occasions. It is a crying shame that we have good land that is not being properly used. That is not in the national interest, and steps ought to be taken to see that, whether there be peace or war, our basic national asset is more fully utilised. To do that we ought to put into operation now a large scheme of land drainage. Nothing is more distressing, to those of us who travel to the North of England after the House rises on Fridays, than to see, during the winter months mile after mile of land deluged with water and rivers overflowing, when we know that all this could be avoided. There is a great deal to be done, from the point of view of the national interests, in the improvement of our ports and harbours, 1952 our roads and transport. There is an enormous amount still to be done on that work which, however regrettable it may be, we have to face—the protection of our civilian population in time of war. I do not believe that 10 pill-boxes are going to be the solution of the Lord Privy Seal's troubles. He will have to think in rather more ambitious terms, terms that will involve some employment of labour, which will be of value to the nation.
Nothing less than a programme on these lines will save this country during the coming years. Those years will be difficult ones, whether we keep the peace or whether we drift into war. If there should be war, this large-scale organisation on national lines would become inevitable. During the Great War, we had a slab not of real Socialism, but of a sort of bastard Socialism. If war should come again, we should start, off with more than that; and in that case, preparation ought to be made now and steps taken to meet the situation. If we keep the peace, then when the world slackens down and finishes the arms race, we shall be confronted with an unparalleled situation, a situation which mankind has never known before. It is not one nation, but the whole world, that is rearming, and when this rearmament finishes, when the world is crushed below the weight of the armaments it has produced, impoverished beyond description, what will be the economic situation of this country and the world? There will be no foreign markets for us and no home market either, and with foreign trade gone and poverty at home, we shall have a very lean time.
In the Debate on the King's Speech about 16 months ago, I made a forecast that the unemployment figure would reach 2,000,000 by the end of last year. As I said then, if a trade depression comes, as it must do, unless steps are taken beforehand, at the end of the most gigantic rearmament programme the world has ever seen, one will have to think not in terms of a peak figure of 3,000,000 unemployed which we had in the last depression, but a figure of 5,000,000, 6,000,000, 7,000,000 or even 8,000,000. That is a situation which calls for preparation now. In a Debate on unemployment in March last year, I quoted from a number of authorities to 1953 show that schemes to deal with a situation of this sort cannot be improvised. One cannot do what is necessary in a fortnight or in six months; the schemes, if they are to he properly developed and co-ordinated, can be completed for full and effective action only in two or three years.
The situation calls for action now. Whether we are able to dispel the war clouds or whether they gather more, we shall have to face a situation of considerable difficulty which will demand a very substantial re-orientation of the policy of the Government and the policy which they have hitherto followed. I say to the right hon. Gentleman and to those who intend to speak in the Debate that we do not intend to be put off by academic debate, nor are we going to be choked by the right hon. Gentleman's statistics. I have tried, in reasonable language, to put what I regard as a serious case. Hon. Members in all parts of the House are perturbed about the situation. Whatever their political affiliations may be, no public, representative men can look with pleasure on the enormous army of our fellow citizens who are in these circumstances. Therefore, we are entitled to receive an answer to the case that will be put from these benches. It is no good telling us that the position is not quite as bad as it looks on paper. What we want to know is simple. I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour, and whoever else may reply for the Government, to give us an answer to the question, "What are the Government going to do now?"
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ernest Brown)
The right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) began his speech, as indeed he ended it, with a reference to statistics. It so happens that on the last occasion on which we debated this question, just before the Christmas Recess, when the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) opened the Debate, I made a speech in which I did not use any statistics, and directly that Debate was over I was asked why I had not provided certain statistics. I am afraid, after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon, that I am bound to produce statistics, for it is quite clear that, although there is no difference in the country or in the House about the gravity of some sides of this problem, 1954 the problem cannot be stated in the terms in which the right hon. Gentleman stated it. To take one sentence only, he referred to "a standing army of 2,000,000." Only statistics will show that that statement has no relevance to the real issue. [Interruption.] I hope this afternoon we may be able to treat these grave issues quietly, and that I may be able to put the case, because there is no body of men in the Kingdom who are so closely in touch with all the unemployed in the whole of Great Britain as are the Ministry of Labour, both at headquarters and at the exchanges, in every part of the Kingdom, every day, every week, every month, all of us; and surely, when a challenge of this kind is made, I may be allowed to answer it in the ordinary way of debate.
§ Mr. Brown
The hon. Member misunderstands me. I am pointing out that what I am doing is to produce the knowledge accumulated by the Ministry of Labour and its officials in order to prove that the way in which the right hon. Gentleman has stated the case has no relevance to the gravity of the real problem, namely, when he says there is a standing army of 2,000,000 unemployed. That statement is constantly made—and there are a great many people outside who do not read the detailed analyses produced by the Ministry of Labour from month to month—on platforms, and all over the country, in one form or another. The right hon. Gentleman put it in that form, that there is a standing army of 2,000,000 unemployed. I say there is not, and I will prove it with the aid of as few statistics as I can. But before I do that, I will make a quotation from a letter from a number of very able and socially minded gentlemen which appeared in the Press on 8th February. It was advocating the formation of a new society for service and reconstruction, and they put it in another form. They spoke ofThe question whether citizens will tolerate much longer the spectacle of 2,000,000 men decaying in idleness while urgent national work remains to be done.I submit at the very beginning of this Debate that I am entitled to take up the right hon. Gentleman's statement, in the light of that statement outside, and to 1955 prove to the House, as I can, that that does not state the case truly. If we are to face the really grave issues of the problem of some half-million unemployed, we must really understand what we have and what we have not to do in setting this case before the public and in laying such plans as we may wish to set forth. The last return was dated 16th January and gave the figure of 2,039,026. That is not a standing army. As a matter of fact, we took our next count on Monday last, and we know already from the payments made week by week that when the next figures are given they will not be 2,000,000. I do not make that as a debating point, but to show that it is not a standing army. There is a standing army in it, but it is not a 2,000,000 standing army, nor is it anything like a 2,000,000 standing army. We have neither to legislate for nor even to administer in respect of a standing army of 2,000,000, and there is the less excuse for the right hon. Gentleman making the statement that he did, because he reads from month to month the full communiqués which the Ministry of Labour produces. It is quite true that in normal times it is only the larger papers which set out the communiqués in full. It has been my good fortune for two and a half years of my period of office to have unemployment going down, and when unemployment is going down you will not have even a mention of the story at all in large numbers of newspapers. Some newspapers regularly mention it, but I am making a general statement, which any hon. Member can verify for himself by going through the files of the national Press. But when you get a situation like this, when there is a dramatic, round figure which can be fixed in the mind and which will make a good headline, then it is given, and I do not complain, because every Minister of Labour is only too glad to get any sane scheme at work on solid economic foundations which will put more men, women, and young people to work.
But let me show why I said that the right hon. Gentleman has no excuse for his statement. It is because, in this communiqué each month, we set out precisely the duration of the period for which these unemployed people have remained without work. Let me give the figures for the last month, which have already since the last count, changed, in some cases by hundreds of thousands.
§ Mr. Brown
The hon. Lady does not seem to understand that every week of the year there are thousands of jobs finished and new thousands beginning, and our statistics cover people who are moving from job to job in the course of a month amounting to hundreds of thousands. Now let me give the facts. The last table shows that of the total of 2,039,000 there were 289,000, that is, 15 per cent., who had been without work for 12 months or more; there were 1,436,000, or 77 per cent., who had been without work for less than six months; there were 1,187,000, or 63 per cent., who had been out of work for less than three months, and 906,000, or 48 per cent., for less than six weeks. The House will, therefore, see at once from those figures that the overwhelming majority of that number are not a standing army at all, and indeed they fall into four groups.
§ Mr. Brown
But it is not a standing army of 2,000,000, neither is it 2,000,000 "decaying in idleness." The 2,000,000 fall into four groups. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is 2,000,000 out of work."] No, it was 2,000,000 who were registered on the day of the count, and they fall into four groups. The first is a very large group, the group of those who were passing from job to job quickly and did not need Government action, save perhaps for a few days the benefits to which they have contributed. There is therefore no need for the Government, or any Government, Socialist or non-Socialist, to take action for that very large group. The next group is the group who ask for two things.
§ Mr. Brown
The right hon. Member for Wakefield did not want to be overwhelmed with statistics, and the moment I begin to give them his friends want more. Perhaps I may take the happy mean and make my speech in my own way. The second group is the group who have been out longer than the first group, but who want two things, and they get them. They want to use all the placing machinery, working from day to day, of the Ministry of Labour in order that they may be put as quickly as may be in touch with employers who have jobs for them.
§ Mr. Brown
I know, and I may point out that last year there were nearly 3,000,000 placings through the exchanges. The other thing that they require from the Government is the benefits to which they have contributed. The third group is the group of those who have been without work or wages for shorter or longer periods and who may or may not be wanted in their own industry. They require from the Government one of three things—either any action that can be taken, and may be deemed desirable by Parliament, in order to help the recovery of their old industry, or they require things to be done to help them, if they are, as some of them are, unskilled men, to be fitted for jobs in other industries which were not theirs previously, or, thirdly, they require that if their industries are those industries about which my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will speak—because a great section of our problem is rooted in the international scene and not in the home scene and is connected, as the right hon. Gentleman's speech itself showed, with the three great exporting industries of coal, cotton, and shipping—if action cannot be taken there, they desire to know one of two things, either whether they can be transferred from where they live, because there is little hope of recovery there, to jobs elsewhere, or whether or not action can be taken to induce new industries to be set up in those areas in order to diversify their chances and opportunities of work.
§ Mr. Brown
I have already made that quite clear and given to the House and the country the actual facts once more in the light of this Debate, and I welcome the chance to do it here, because people who did not read the communiqué last month will read some of the figures now and will understand that the kind of statements that really make for confusion in the public mind and not for aiding the unemployed are not justified when the facts are analysed. The fourth group is the group about which the words of the right hon. Gentleman will be echoed in 1958 every part of the House and of the country, namely, that group of long-term unemployed who have been out of work for months and months. There have been in recent years about half-a-million of them, but there have been many changes inside that figure. It is not the same half-million persons, and it is that particular section of the register to which the Government have been applying all their energies and about which I shall be able to show the House we have done a great deal.
The right hon. Gentleman, in a short passage at the end of his speech, put what he considered to be a practical policy. I will not repeat what has been said in previous Debates on that subject, except in general terms, but when one looks at the Amendments on the Order Paper to-day one finds that certain things which used to appear as practical policies have now disappeared. For years there was a cry for housing; for years there was a cry for telephones and other works of that kind. They do not appear now in the Amendments on the Order Paper, because in recent years unparalleled and successful efforts have been made in directions of that kind. Indeed, on the calculations which I gave the House in March, in detail for each section, the public works carried out by Government direction or by local authorities with State grants amounted in the last year for which we have a full calculation to £300,000,000—a sum out of all proportion to the special efforts made when the right hon. Gentleman himself was a Cabinet Minister, and when special efforts were being made along the lines which he now suggests would be a solution.
I would like to say this—that there is a change in the number of long-term unemployed which must be, to all who have studied the figures, very gratifying. It is this. The construction work done over a period of years by the Government is having this effect, that we are now dealing with a smaller number of long-term unemployed than we have had for years. When we deal with those who have been out of work for more than 12 months, we find that the peak number since we got the figures in this form, was reached in May, 1933, and that was 483,000. In January, 1935, it was 387,000; in January, 1936, it was 376,000; in October,1938, it fell to the lowest figure of 275,000 and there has been, since then, a slight 1959 rise to 289,000. That means that inside this part of the problem which has exercised the minds and hearts and consciences of all who have given much thought to it, a great change is proceding, and I claim that part of that change is due to what the Government have been doing in many constructive directions and in none less than the training of unskilled men for semi-skilled jobs. I was delighted to see on the Order Paper more than one reference to training because it enables me to point out to the House, as we rarely get a chance of doing, what has been and is being achieved in this direction.
One of the major troubles of the unemployed men in districts where unemployment has been grave for many years is lack of skill. In 1920 a beginning was made in dealing with it. In 1925 an effective beginning was made and for 14 years we have been building up, first slowly then more quickly, a series of training centres. There are now four kinds. First there are the Government training centres which train improvers for semi-skilled trades such as light engineering and also building. Then there are instructional centres for unskilled men and in the last two years we have also tried a certain elementary basis of training in semi-skilled work so that the men who do not grade up to the standard demanded by those who have examined them, for training, get another chance after they have had 12 weeks in the instructional centre. Then, if they desire they can volunteer for the other centres. So successful has this been that demands have come from all parts of the country and some most interesting letters have come from Manchester and other parts of Lancashire.
The House will understand that the nearer you get to the higher grades of craft the more difficult the problem becomes. I saw in an article the other day a demand for greater drive with regard to this problem, and I could not help remarking that the real need in regard to training is discretion. First we had to break down prejudice; then we had to build up a series of training centres, and then we had to get the instructors. Finally we had to get the confidence of the unemployed men and the only way you could get that, was by 1960 proving to them that you could do what you said you would do, namely, train them efficiently up to the standard required and then, when no one could guarantee them jobs, see that they got Jobs. [HON. MEMBERS: "That is the trouble."] It shows the need for statistics, and the hon. Lady opposite who smiles is very likely confusing two things. She is confusing the Government training centres with the instructional centres about which I have to tell a different story. But with regard to the Government training centres let me give the House the facts. I do not think they have been given in recent years. For the whole period, from the beginning of the scheme in 1925 up to the end of December last the total number admitted to training was 109,426. Of that number 81,893 completed the course and of the latter number, 73,172 or 89 per cent. found work or were placed in employment. [HON. MEMBERS: "For how long?"] If hon. Members could see the letter bag of the Ministry full of letters of thanks from men who have been given this semi-skill and have gone into good jobs, they would know that from districts where prejudice was once very strong there are now coming demands for the multifarious jobs available in the new factories and light engineering works—the new jobs which are the other side of that rationalisation problem to which the right hon. Gentleman referred in his speech.
§ Mr. Maxton
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the 100,000 who are trained came out of his long-term standing army of unemployed?
§ Mr. Brown
The answer is that, of course, they came out of the ranks of the unskilled and large numbers of them would be out of the standing army of unemployed. It is only when a man has been out of work a long time that he comes to ask about training or training is offered him. As long as there is a chance that he will get back to his regular job in his own locality, the question of training is not mentioned to him and there is no need to do so. The system of constructive training is designed for that purpose. At the moment we have 16 Government training centres and 8,739 training places, 4,000 of which are reserved for training soldiers about to leave the Army. During 1938 nearly 14,000 unemployed 1961 completed courses of training, and of these 12,031 passed into employment. On 2nd February there were in training in these centres 7,594. At this moment we are training nearly 8,000 men from no skill to semi-skill.
It is to be remembered that we have all the time to keep two problems in mind. First, there is the question of the likelihood of finding vacancies when the man has been trained. The second thing is not to overfill the ranks of an industry to the detriment of the craftsmen in that industry. That is why I have said that the utmost discretion has to be used, and the House will understand that while we were successful in placing in the engineering and the building trades this vast number of unskilled men in semi-skilled jobs, the same is not the case in Scotland. Although we have a training centre at Springburn, trainees are not accepted in certain trades because there is so much prejudice against them and they are placed over the Border when they have completed their courses. I hope that the rapid success of this scheme will break down the last lingering vestige of prejudice and that we may be able to do more and more in order to tap this root of long-term unemployment, namely, lack of skill, This is a much more effective way of doing it, although perhaps not so spectacular as some of the plans which are advocated in general terms without having been worked out practically.
What about the instructional centres? The story there is not the same. All who have had to do with the problem of men who are long out of work will understand why and hon. Members who represent areas where thousands of men have been out of work for a long time, will also understand. We have 20 residential instructional centres and two non-residential and at any given time we have over 4,000 places in the centres. Our trouble here is that we are dealing with men who could not pass the test for the centres which train for skill. It is a question of unskilled men and fit men. It is a very difficult problem and since competition for unskilled jobs is much greater than for skilled jobs, the problem of placing is an infinitely harder problem. So I cannot report to the House that the percentages which were placed from the Government training centres can be paralleled in the 1962 case of the instructional centres. The figure goes up and down. The highest I saw was 40 per cent. 18 months ago, and I should be taking a fair average if I were to say that we place about 30 out of every 100 in jobs after they come from these centres.
§ Sir Percy Hurd
The right hon. Gentleman has not given the figures of those who passed through these centres.
§ Mr. Brown
That, again, is over 100,000. During 1938 the number who completed training courses was 16,644 and of that 3,037 were either placed in jobs or transferred to the Government training centres. Of course, there are some who because of regaining fitness were able to get jobs nearer their own locality when they returned. There are two sides to that problem. We have other forms of training centres. We have what are known as local training centres. It was pointed out to me when I was in South Wales two years ago that there was great difficulty in getting men from Wales to go to centres like Birmingham, Bristol, Park Royal or Slough and it was suggested that if we had training centres in Wales itself we might get a response locally. So we set up two local training centres in South Wales with a short preparatory course, and we were encouraged by those two centres because a large proportion of those who went through the 12 weeks' course, volunteered to go to one of the big general centres and we have now five local training centres, We have just agreed to set up a local training centre in Liverpool and there are demands from Manchester and the Lancashire area about which we are in the final stages of making a decision. The House may take it that this regular, definite, constructive training work is work which has had a vast effect upon this core of unemployment. [An HON. MEMBER: "Vast?"] When I talk about 100,000 men trained and 80,000 men as vast, they do form a large army. At any rate, if the hon. Member does not think it vast, I shall look for his co-operation in extending the system and breaking down any further prejudice there may be against it.
§ Mr. James Griffiths
Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that what he is doing in South Wales is to train men and 1963 send them away? When is he going to make work for them there?
§ Mr. Brown
The hon. Member knows that we have done a great deal to bring work to South Wales, both in the provision of Government factories and in setting up a trading estate at Treforest. At any rate, these are practical things and not abstract Socialist principles which do not show how we are to get one man a job. I have given the House the statistics many times. I have them here and can repeat them, but I do not want to. The House can rest assured that we shall be guided in our recruitment for all the training centres according as we see vacancies in which to put the men when they are trained, because my own conviction, firmly rooted after four years of experience, is that the best advocate for training is not the politician but the man who gets a job because of the training he has had at a centre. If I could see ways in which to get more jobs for those men who go to the instructional centres, who are unskilled men, I should be happier as the percentage grew larger and larger.
§ Mr. Jenkins
We have now more than 2,000,000 unemployed—more than we have had for three years. With all the training, the number of unemployed is greater. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what he is going to do with them instead of prattling away about statistics in this way?
§ Mr. Jenkins
When we ask for statistics it is about matter on which we want information. The right hon. Gentleman has been giving us details of training about which we are fully aware. He has spent an enormous time on doing so. Why does he not settle down and answer some of the questions put to him by my right hon. Friend and discuss the real solution of this problem?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Colonel Clifton Brown)
It would be better if the Minister were allowed to carry on with his speech.
§ Mr. Brown
I will not be distracted by these interruptions from describing other forms of activity of a constructive nature in regard to training. Great extensions have been made in the care and guidance of juvenile unemployed. There is a wider system than ever before of vocational guidance which local authorities, working in combination with the Ministry of Labour, carry out, and that is having its effect. Under the compulsory powers under which junior instructional centres are established juvenile unemployed attend courses, and there is no doubt that those who have watched the development of these centres would welcome the raising of the age, which is now 16, to a higher age.
§ Sir Edward Grigg
My right hon. Friend said that the juvenile instructional centres were carrying on to the age of 16. In the latest report of the Commissioner for the Special Areas for England the statement is made that it is carried on to 18.
§ Mr. Brown
He is talking about the Special Areas, but my hon. Friend is quite right. The hon. Gentleman has a scheme on the Paper for training young people. I, therefore, thought that I might draw the attention of the House to the statistics so that the House may know what the position is with regard to these young people. The hon. Gentleman's Amendment refers to training in centres of youths between the ages of 18 and 21. I have made an inquiry to find 1965 out what the industrial effect of a scheme of this kind would be. All I desire to do now, in advance of any explanation of the Amendment, is to lay before the House the facts about that particular age group. The total of those aged 18, 19 and 20 is 1,060,000. The total insured last July when the last exchange of books was made was 860,800. Of these 81,000 were unemployed. Of course, a large number of these will be people going into other jobs. If we take the groups of 16 years of age and upwards, we are dealing with 1,900,000 and 1,557,000 respectively. The House will see that in any discussion of a problem of this kind what a formidable industrial problem is involved. The recruitment is generally through the exchanges for the training centres and every effort is made to bring before those who have been a long time out of work the advantages of training. I am glad to say that hon. Members in more than one part of the House have recently been giving great help in recruiting young men who have little prospects in their own areas to take training, which, of course, involves their going to jobs away from their homes. Let me turn to the wider issues. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I make no apology to anybody for the time I have taken in describing this great piece of constructive work.
§ Mr. Maxton
I have never objected to the right hon. Gentleman giving statistics. Can he give us the ages of the various groups in the 500,000 of long-term unemployed?
§ Mr. Brown
That is a little unreasonable at a second's notice, but I will gladly provide the hon. Gentleman with such figures as are available. In the last three years we have had the age groups analysed of applicants for assistance and claimants for benefits twice a year, once in May and once in November. These I will let the hon. Member have after the Debate. The right hon. Gentleman opposite is concerned about the young men and the elderly men, but the House will do me the justice of realising that at the moment when unemployment was at its lowest in the early days of 1937 I made inquiries into this probelm. There was then no sign of a break in primary prices and of the rising employment. It is clear to me, as it is to anyone who examines the problem, that the moment you deal with this grave problem of men who have 1966 had no work for a long time you are up again special problems in the areas where the reduction of employment, owing to the contraction in export trade, has left thousands of men in an area without an alternative employment in other industries.
When we have said all we can say about this problem the major issue rests abroad. Two things, political tension and a drop in primary prices, had the effect of stopping what had been the marvellous recovery of 1933–37. Two years ago the late Secretary of the Inter-National Labour Organisation, in his annual report, produced a chart on which two lines were drawn. The first traced the course of manufacturing production in 1929, when the slump began, to 1932. The second traced primary production in that same period. The line marking the curve of manufacturing production from 1929–32 went down steeply like the roof of a house. The line of primary production went straight across the paper with only minor variations. When I examined it for the purpose of discussing the problem at Geneva I said that there ought to be another line to which the industrial workers of the world and the employers had not yet paid enough attention, that is, the line of primary prices. That line would be found to be even steeper than the line of manufacturing production.
I notice that the hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) mentions in his Amendment the state of agriculture. When unemployment was dropping and employment was increasing regularly, when I was able to produce figures for seven successive months showing an increase of employment, what happened? The hon. and gallant Gentleman's leader appeared at the Bar of the House with a petition about the rise in the cost of living. There is no reference in any of the declarations to the cost of living now. Why not? Because the cost of living is going down. I want quietly and very earnestly to say one word to all Members of the House, and that is that I believe the right hon. Gentleman opposite would serve his party best, and we should all be serving the country best, if we could change the mind of the industrial populations of the world about the level of primary prices.
§ Mr. Brown
I will tell the hon. Lady what it means. It means that when the right hon. Gentleman talks about rationalisation, when he talks about machinery and the new machine power, he has to face the fact that the industrial section of the world's population numbers some 800,000,000 and the primary production section of the world's population numbers some 1,200,000,000, and if he wants to solve his problem with his new machine, and to get it running fully, we shall have to reconsider the standard of primary prices in relation not merely to the agriculturists and the primary workers, but to the purchasing power of these primary workers in the industrial realm. So I hope that the next time there is a Change—
§ Mr. Brown
There will not be that change for a long time. This very Motion shows it. It is not a single-point or a double-point Motion, but a Motion with one point here and one point there. When I look at the general level of primary prices and begin to see a betterment I shall know quite well that the wheels of industry will begin to revolve more quickly in this country and that unemployment will go down again.
I have taken longer than I intended, but I would say these other few words. The first is that we have been dealing with defence. The fears of those who looked at the huge programme three years ago were that we should have grave trouble in finding the skilled labour. At the moment, although we are now approaching a point of difficulty, we have never had a grave, large scale shortage, we have had no difficulty that we have not been able to settle locally between the employers, the unions and the employment exchanges. When dealing with great defence works it is quite fair to spread the work as we are now doing, with a policy of not merely guaranteeing to give the maximum amount of employment in the maximum number of factories but of spreading it so that it will have an effect in some areas where there is wider unemployment. In addition to that, I would point out that the announcements already made in connection with civil defence by the Lord Privy Seal mean that £20,000,000 is to be expended upon domestic shelters, an outlay which is being borne entirely by the Government. That 1968 will itself provide a great deal of employment, more particularly in some parts of the steel industry which have been particularly depressed, and there will be a vast amount of constructive work both for skilled and unskilled men in connection with that part of the policy which consists of strengthening basements and other suitable buildings bath as domestic shelters and as communal shelters. I am glad to tell the House that my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal is at present in touch with the representative organisations of employers and workers in the industries concerned with a view to seeing that this work is organised on the widest basis
I must say one word upon deep shelters, although the right hon. Gentleman did not mention that point. My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal will be making a statement about that matter later, and it is premature to ask for details at the moment. Let me say this before I sit down: There is no question that the problems to be solved in connection with long-term unemployment resolve themselves into two. The first question is whether or not in the absence of a revival of their old trades we can replace the lost chances of employment for men in their old areas by introducing new industries there. The Government have made great efforts in the Special Areas, as the House well knows.
§ Mr. Brown
Secondly, we are quite sure that this constructive policy of equipping with skill men without skill and seizing chances for them as the openings come, coupled with a policy of allaying tension abroad and securing peace for the world, is the surest way of getting a betterment of the unemployment situation.
§ 5.22 p.m.
Major Lloyd George
The first part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was extremely interesting and informative, but the criticism I would make of the rest of his speech was that while he gave us a fairly clear idea of what the problem is he did not go any further. It has often been said that figures will prove anything, and by the time he sat down we did not know what they proved, but it would be extremely difficult, especially in a constituency like mine, to persuade people who have been unemployed for so many years that the situation is as nice as he tried to make out. I am glad that we have had another opportunity of a Debate upon unemployment. Nearly all the earlier elections that I fought were fought on the policy of unemployment, but of late unemployment has taken second place in the House. First place has been occupied by Debates upon foreign affairs. I am not minimising the importance of having full discussions upon foreign affairs, but I think it is necessary to remind the House that foreign affairs are taking the first place, not because of any fundamental improvement in the internal situation but because of the serious deterioration in the foreign situation.
When the Government came first into office we had a League of Nations with most of the powerful nations of the world members of it and shortly after there was a Disarmament Conference sitting to discuss the limitation of expenditure upon armaments. To-day we find that the League of Nations counts for very little in foreign affairs, and that the nations of the world are spending upon armaments probably three or four times as much as they did at that time. Everybody will agree that that is a change for the worse, and this Government must accept a very large share of the responsibility for that change. It is a change which is bound to have a profound effect upon the domestic situation in this country in the future, as it is having to-day. The right hon. Gentleman explained in great detail how the numbers of the unemployed were made up. Surely the best thing we can do is to compare the situation—never mind about how the figures 1970 are drawn up—in 1931 with the present day. I take 1931 because that was the year in which this Government was produced to put things right. There was then an unemployment figure of 2,600,000—that was the average for that year. To-day the figure has gone back to the 2,000,000 mark. Expenditure was then £850,000,000. This year, for the first time since the years of the War and immediately after the War, we are back in the region of a £1,000,000,000 budget. Income Tax was then 4s. 6d. It is true that it went up to 5s. after the crisis. It is now 5s. 6d. The National Debt is up and is going higher. The visible adverse trade balance, which was one of the most important things talked of then, was £400,000,000, and this year is very near the figure of £400,000,000.
Can anybody look upon that comparison with any satisfaction? It is true that there are improvements in certain directions, but we must realise that such improvement as there is is not confined to Britain. Take one country which is rearming like we are. Germany had an unemployment figure of something like 6,000,000 in 1932. To-day it has practically no unemployment. Indeed, I see by the Press, whether it be true or not, that they are importing labour from other countries. In any case they have only a very small number of unemployed at the present time, and according to their own figures their industrial production has gone up enormously. Whether that is a proper comparison or not is not my point. My point is that they have also made great reductions in their unemployment and that such improvement as we have here is not due to anything in particular which the Government have done.
There are two things for which this Government has been responsible—Protection, and rearmament on a scale never before seen in peace time in this country. I want to examine for a short time the effects of Protection upon the position of this country. In 1931 we were told that the trade situation was serious, that there was an adverse trade balance of £400,000,000 and that we were being ruined by imports from abroad. I would point out, in passing, that in 1929 the imports were something like £360,000,000 greater than in 1931 and the unemployment figure was about 1,400,000 less. To-day, after all the protective measures we have passed, the visible adverse trade 1971 balance is practically the same as it was in 1931. Hon. Members opposite may refer to this as a "Free Trade shibboleth," but I would say that everything that has happened in the last five years has confirmed my view that the sooner we get back to Free Trade the better. Everybody on the other side of the House sees it now. We say that when you reduce imports you reduce exports. I ask hon. Members opposite to look at our trade figures for the last 10 years. They will find in every single instance that when imports have gone down exports have gone down. Further, they will find that as imports have gone down unemployment has gone up, and, curiously enough, that when imports have gone up unemployment has gone down. That is proved by every year during the past to years. I dare say that the same would be true if I went back to the War or even to the years before the War, although I have not gone back beyond 1931. To-day, unemployment is back to the 2,000,000 figure, despite the fact that the Government are spending about £300,000,000 on armaments this year more than they spent in 1931. Next year, as we now know, that figure will be very considerably increased. Even with that extra cost of armaments—
§ Mr. Charles Brown
Does not the hon. and gallant Gentleman's figure suggest that neither Free Trade nor Protection would cure unemployment?
Major Lloyd George
I do not care what system you have in this country, whether it is Socialist or Capitalist. You have to have one or the other, either Free Trade or Protection, and I say that, as a part of our economic system, I prefer Free Trade to Protection, although I do not say that either would be a complete cure. Despite the expenditure on armaments in this country to-day, even the industries which are concerned with armament manufacture are not doing too well. There is an increase in unemployment in coal mining, there are fewer furnaces in blast to-day; there are 16 per cent. fewer shifts being worked in iron and steel manufacture and there is a substantial increase in unemployment in the engineering industry. We are entitled to ask where the money is going. I hope that it is not going the same way as the money given to agriculture. Why is it, when there is an increasing expenditure upon 1972 armaments, that in industries concerned with armament manufacture there has been an increase in unemployment and a decrease in the number of shifts worked?
The object of the Debate is to urge the Government to realise that something is fundamentally wrong. I would refer the Minister of Labour to his more enlightened days. He fought an election in 1929 on the issue of providing work for the unemployed; I would remind him that when he did so unemployment stood at 1,300,000, and that to-day the number is 2,000,000, or slightly over that figure. We urged, and he joined us in urging, the Government of that day to proceed with schemes for the relief of unemployment. [An HON. MEMBER: "He has burned his boats since then!"] I was talking in 1929 to a friend of mine who is in the shipping business. We were discussing what was then the serious unemployment situation, and he said to me: "You will look back upon 1929, next year, as one of the boom years." I must say that I was a little surprised, but the figures next year were up by nearly 600,000 or 700,000. That was, of course, the beginning of the great slump.
Like the right hon. Gentleman who spoke from the Opposition Front Bench I fear that we are becoming accustomed to this state of affairs. We all, unfortunately, have friends who suffer from chronic ill-health and who, when we meet them and ask them how they are, say with great courage: "Oh, all right; it's the old complaint." It's progress is slow but none the less fatal. Are we sure that we are not in the same position in this country? We refer to unemployment as the old complaint, without realising the effect it is having upon the vitality of this country. In 1937 I was told not to be gloomy when I moved an Amendment on behalf of my party. Some of the words of that Amendment regretted that the Government were not taking adequate steps to provide against the possible diminution of employment. The figures have increased by 600,000 or 700,000 since I moved that Amendment. I was told by the President of the Board of Trade that there was no justification whatever for believing that there would be a recession. He did not believe in its imminence, and the Government had constantly in mind steps to prevent a recurrence of the. tragic years 1929–30. I 1973 would remind the Government that the Federation of British Industries to-day have pointed to the fall in the Board of Trade Index of production, which in 1930 was barely half that of the same period in this year. Surely there is a beginning of the recurrence of the tragic years to which the President of the Board of Trade referred. To face facts is no more a proof of gloom than to ignore them is a proof of courage and statesmanship. It is vital that the Government should face the present situation. There is no lack of proposals, and they cannot complain that there is. Proposals have come from many quarters of the House; some of them have been examined but hardly any of them adopted.
I regret that the Opposition have put the last sentence into their Motion. When you label remedies by party names you raise other issues, very controversial issues, too. After all, there must be definition. If you nationalise the electrical supply, is that Socialism? If you give permission to the State and the local authorities to buy waste land to reclaim it, is that Socialism? Is it Socialism to have a better road system or to improve our rural water supply? It is important that we should have definition. The result of bringing that sort of thing in is that, instead of concentrating upon practical issues, you all get into a controversy as to whether the remedy is the Socialist one, the Conservative one or the Liberal one.
I am aware that the sentence was put in probably for internal reasons, and I do not think that is any concern of this House; certainly it is not of great concern to the country outside. [An HON. MEMBER: "Wait till the General Election."] I am entitled to my own opinion about that, but even after the election nobody on the Opposition Benches supposes that a Labour Government could, within 12 months, nationalise everything in this country. You must proceed step by step, and that is the opinion of the right hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Front Bench. The question is, what practical steps one can take now? I do not care whether the suggestion comes from these benches, the Opposition Benches or from the Government supporters. Surely the best we could do would be to take a little of the best of all of them, as long as they have some relation to the practical thing that we want to do.
1974 The first thing I suggest, and about which I hope there is agreement on all sides of the House, is the necessity of the revival of our export trade. The export trade figures to-day, even with the recovery, are not within £200,000,000 of what they were in 1929. You can increase your export trade in only one of two ways, either by reducing your tariffs or by subsidising your exports. I hope that the Government will not start on the latter slippery slope, because it leads to a very much worse disease. By reduction of tariffs and by negotiation is the better way, and I appeal to the Prime Minister to show in this direction some of the enthusiasm he shows in going to other countries. I suggest that he should show more concern to have with other countries economic discussions which will have an important bearing upon the foreign situation. I beg him to be as keen upon economic relations with other countries as he has been upon international political relations.
Another proposal which has been put forward is related to agriculture, and I am sorry that the right hon. and gallant Member who is now Minister of Agriculture is not here. I understand that he has an engagement that he could not possibly avoid, and I would, therefore, be grateful if somebody would convey to him one or two observations I want to make. I am personally glad that he has been appointed to that position because he is a man of energy and knowledge. He said a thing that satisfied me very much; he said he was certain that we could put 1,000,000 more people on the land in this country. I hope that he will not try to do that by subsidies. Taking sugar, meat, wheat and milk, this country has, since those schemes began, spent £113,000,000 upon the agricultural industry. Nobody would mind that expenditure if it had assisted the industry, but the net result has been that fewer people are now on the land, more acres are going out of cultivation annually and farmers are concentrating on their first-quality land and leaving the second and third qualities derelict.
It is all very well if it is necessary to put a patch here and there, but if one is patching a pair of trousers and the fabric is rotten, it is not the slightest use putting patches except for temporary purposes, because sooner or later there will be a rent somewhere else. A very 1975 remarkable letter appeared in the "Times" this week by a gentleman who says he has looked after 250,000 acres during his lifetime. One or two points which he makes are worthy of our attention. He says that it is a curious fact that no one attempts to deal with the facts of the present system in the agricultural industry, but, by some sort of artificial stimulation supplied by the Government, to bolster up the present state of affairs. He refers to the uneconomic division of the land, lack of capital which is vitally important, the extremely wasteful methods of sale and distribution of home agricultural produce and the occupation and ownership of land, and he asks the Government, before they decide upon a long-term policy, to have a thorough inquiry into all those matters, to satisfy themselves as to them and then to proceed with their long-term policy instead of with the patchwork business which we have seen during the last few years.
I would like to mention one thing further to the list given in that letter—the marketing system. There may be all sorts of excuses and reasons given, but I would like to ask why it is that this country, with the finest market in the world for agricultural produce, is so sorely beset by oversea producers who, in many cases, have great disadvantages as to distance? Why do the Government not consider how oversea producers can send food here sometimes over thousands of miles of sea? I would remind the Government that those producers do not produce their goods on the quay at Buenos Aires, Sydney or Wellington. The produce has to be collected, brought to the railhead, taken hundreds of miles down to the coast and then shipped across the sea. It has then to be distributed in exactly the same way as English agricultural produce, and in many cases over greater distances.
Why is it that all those costs can be borne successfully by the overseas producers, whereas our own people cannot farm profitably, even though they are close to the customers' doors? The right hon. Gentleman begged me not to support any more petitions about food prices. I wish I were satisfied that we had an intelligent marketing system in this country, because you would then have a rise in prices to the producers without any increase to the consumer. You 1976 would make the industry profitable. When cabbages are rotting on the farms while you have to pay substantial prices in London for cabbages there is something wrong with the system. Nobody objects to ordinary fluctuations of price, but the only cure that is suggested by the farming industry in to raise prices artificially; in other words, to legislate for shortage instead of encouraging greater consumption. There are ways of doing this. I think a close examination into the organisation of foreign producers would be well worth the while of the Government, and I hope they will look into that matter very carefully.
I know that the Prime Minister has his umbrella as a symbol. I suggest to him without offence that he might beat it, if not into a ploughshare, into a scythe and hand it to his right hon. Friend whom I should like to see concentrate upon its use as one of the most fruitful methods by which he could reduce unemployment in this country. It has got to be done, and it can be done. We are told that it will cost money. I remember that, when my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) produced a scheme some time ago, in which a loan of £200,000,000 was suggested, it was stated in a Government White Paper that it would involve serious financial dislocation, that the idea of any works involving expenditure on such a scale would be received with apprehension, and, instead of causing industry to expand, would be only too likely to cause it to contract. I wonder what the gentleman who wrote that thinks when he reads the newspaper to-day. There is this to be said for that loan, that it would have been for productive expenditure, while, although rearmament expenditure is necessary, no one will say it is productive. I do not find that there is very much comment about this loan to-day for the purposes of an admittedly wasting asset, but I remember the protests that were made when a comparatively small sum was required for an object which would have increased the wealth of this country. Since the War, we have spent on unemployment £1,500,000,000, probably £100,000,000 per annum. What capital sum would that represent in interest and sinking fund? Imagine what could have been done for this country not with the whole of that sum, but with a portion of it. It would have re-equipped 1977 our industries, it would have put agriculture on a much sounder basis, and, in doing so, would have increased the wealth of the country, instead of doing what we have done with this money, namely, maintaining hundreds of thousands of men in idleness which eventually leads to deterioration, and finally to what we so often find to-day—absolute hopelessness.
§ Sir P. Hurd
Was not a large part of the money spent on the very subjects for which the loan of £200,000,000 was suggested, namely, housing, telephones, roads, and so on?
Major Lloyd George
I was saying that much more could have been done. I am not suggesting that nothing has been done, but, as the answer to us was that there was not the money, I am pointing out that the money has been wasted, and that the only result has been deterioration of our people. If the Government would show by some action that they really appreciate what this problem means, they would not only add to the wealth of this country, but, even more important, they would add enormously to the defensive strength of the country, by showing these people, whom we have neglected for so long, and whom, incidentally, we are now asking to volunteer for the defence of the country, that at any rate it is a country worth defending.
§ 5.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Brooke
A new Member would, I think, keep silence in this House almost indefinitely if he were to consult, not exactly his own choice, but his own qualifications. A consciousness of humility must affect every Member who addresses this House for the first time, and I can sincerely say that I would not have presumed to speak to-day but for a profound feeling that every home in this country which is suffering by unemployment is looking daily to each one of us to do whatever in him lies.
The Motion which we are debating has, to my mind, a weak start and a vague ending. It starts weakly, because "deplore" is not the word that I should use with reference to the 289,000 people who, as the Minister has said, have been out of work for more than 12 months. I find that, not deplorable, but intolerable. The Motion ends vaguely because it uses "Socialist principles" like an incantation. The House will have 1978 noticed that "Socialist principles" are put down as a kind of alternative to "the provision of work and wages." I do not know whether that was intentional, but certainly it is candid. What, after all, is going to win orders for British shipyards, for our factories and workshops, great or small? Is it the repetition of political phrases, or is it the application of businesslike brains?
I have the honour to represent a London constituency of all classes of people, such as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) was describing in this House yesterday—people who are largely dependent on the trade and commerce of London. I am here to speak for them. They have not forgotten how trade fell off, how staffs had to be cut down, when right hon. Gentlemen opposite were last in office; and, although I know the stagnation of many homes in the South Wales valleys, although I know those windswept villages of West Durham which the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) must be proud to represent, although I have stood beside the almost silent harbour of Maryport, thinking to myself that it would be good if the House of Commons were sometimes to meet in such places as that, yet I never feel the personal catastrophe of unemployment so keenly as when I see it driving down a man who has given his heart and work to trying to establish his wife and family in a position of some independence in the world—when such a man sees all his hopes dismissed because the firm in whose service he has made good has suffered some reverse, and because other employers have more jobs to offer to young bachelors than to uninsured married men watching their savings dwindle away till they vanish.
The sadness and national wastefulness of it have been dwelt on often enough in this House. What are here and now the main impediments to getting this figure of 2,000,000 down? I would say there are three: the risk of war, the growth of lethargy, and the limiting conditions by which we still allow ourselves to be restrained when attacking the problem. Of the constraining effect of war upon trade and industry I need hardly speak, save only to say that no logical mind could support a Vote of Censure on the Government moved by a party whose own coming into office would do more than 1979 almost anything else to paralyse Europe with the apprehension of war.
As to the growth of lethargy—acquiescence—we are all in danger of that. We are all a bit too accustomed to numbering in millions. It affects every part of this House. There would not have been so much light-heartedness on the benches opposite earlier in this Debate if that over-familiarity had not been affecting us all. What reasoned answer are we to give when foreigners suggest that the persistence of this great national problem is a national dishonour? I know from experience how the vigour of my own mind blazes up when I go down monotonous streets, and see men sitting on doorsteps, and shuttered shops; but I would ask, what hon. Member has not felt the temptation to forget, when he or she passes on again to hopeful, lovely England? And there is a lethargy of unemployment, too. The House must surely know by now—the Minister emphasised it again to-day—that, of the 2,000,0000 unemployed, only some 15 per cent. have been out of work for long times; but those are the men whose future should haunt us. The 1,000,000 who have been out for less than six weeks have passed through the fire quickly. They may be hardly singed. But our pride in our country must still have a hollow spot in it, unless we can prevent the deterioration of will power, if not of character, which is inseparable from unemployment of that long duration. I call to mind a phrase in Sir William Beveridge's first book on unemployment, written 30 years ago, in which he describes the cardinal principle of social policy as beingto make youth adventurous and age secure.With regard to those 289,000, that is what I would stress. I would submit that, with regard to the hardest of the hard core, no solution is going to be effective unless it is firmly based on these two facts: that the older man who has been long out of work can recover his powers quickly if he is given the chance to return to some kind of activity akin to what was his before, even though he may be genuinely unable to adapt himself to any other form of life, and that there is many a young man in this country who will grow up to be nothing but a bad citizen, scraping 1980 a livelihood from the Employment Exchange, thinking of little else but cheap forms of amusement to take his mind off the monotony of inertia, unless we can introduce him to some kind of activity which will not only discipline his working day—that the instructional centres can do—but also evoke those enthusiasms of his which are stunted.
I spoke of the limiting conditions under which we think and work. With national Defence, we have got rid of those. Had anyone dug trenches in the parks 12 months ago, the House can imagine the cries of "vandalism" that would have gone up. By now we recognise that anything requisite to make this country secure must be done, whatever measures, whatever money, this House is called upon to vote. That is established with national Defence. Subject always to the prior claim of Defence, I submit that our attitude towards unemployment should be exactly the same.
In 1934 we broke away from one restriction. This Government's predecessor—not a Socialist Government—took the first step in applying special treatment for the benefit of the distressed areas. In 1937 we broke down another restriction. The principle that public money must not be used to assist private industry was deliberately subordinated to the greater principle that industrial development in those areas must be fostered. Suppose we assume now that, whatever are the impediments, this country must launch a fresh assault upon the enemy of unemployment, because Britain in these things is not accustomed to fail.
There are long-term measures and short-term measures which I am going to be so bold as to suggest. In submitting them to the House I am not ignorant of their cost, but cost is relative to value, as we know with rearmament. The White Paper which the Government published yesterday must have cured all of us of any idea that we can much mitigate unemployment by devoting a few, more millions to any form of public works. It will not be done that way. The course of employment in the next few months is going to be conditioned almost entirely by the state of Europe. The finest help that we can give to the unemployed in these months is to assist the Prime Minister in his efforts to avert the risk of war. But, within that statement, I would beg consideration 1981 for certain definite steps. The time, in my opinion, is now for a national service corps of voluntary enlistment. The time is now, as it has never been till this moment, when large amounts of Government work of national importance are ready to be done. This is the one plan which offers an opportunity of evoking those stunted enthusiasms. It offers the chance of a service with status and with civic appeal. Knowing this country as I do, I cannot believe that such a plan would in any way handicap recruitment for the armed forces. I am certain that it would be responded to. But there are three essentials. It must be altogether different in conception from the Government instructional centres—which, within the limits of their purposes, are well-devised; I am speaking of something vastly greater, different in kind. The first essential is short-period enrolment with optional renewal for further service, because the whole House knows that one of the impediments to volunteering for a training centre is the belief that three months later a man may be stranded again, little better off. The second essential is that there must be some badge of recognition, and the third essential, inspirational leadership.
Next, I would invite attention to the fact that there are over 400,000 women registered as unemployed, at the same moment as there exists a pressing shortage not only in domestic service but in another profession which we are going to debate in a few weeks time in this House, the nursing profession. I am not fool enough to imagine that a woman factory worker can be turned into a nurse or a cook-general. My point is that tremendous mal-direction of careers in girlhood is going on, and I am not prepared to admit that a national shortcoming of that kind will not yield to fresh constructive thought and collective reason.
I would plead, thirdly, for a further release of constructive reason against two very human special aspects of the unemployment problem. One is the case of the man with a large family who finds it hardly worth while to take work in his unskilled occupation. He can draw from the labour exchange just enough for his children to live on. If his dole were cut down their health would be injured; if it is left unchanged there is no financial incentive whatever for him to take work. I plead for vivid consideration of that 1982 problem, to ascertain whether there is any means, other than a system of family allowances, whereby it can be solved. It cannot be left where it is at present.
I would plead, too, for consideration for the older men among those 289,000 who have been long out of work. When I have walked over those scarred mountains above the South Wales valleys, and looked down on the industrial litter which man has left, and thought of the millions of pounds that are being paid out to people in those valleys for doing nothing, I cannot believe that human ingenuity is unable to save these older men from eating their hearts out in idleness until they die. I plead for periods of local work to be made possible, in the Special Areas particularly, definitely for men over a certain age who have been many months out of work. I know the policy of the party opposite. I know that hon. Members opposite will say that there should be pensions at 60. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) said the time was due for a shorter working life. When we see other nations abroad deliberately lengthening their working life in order to compete with us, I doubt whether this is the time for shortening ours. But I concur entirely that the problem of the older men is one which needs special and distinctive attention.
There are regions of this country which are intrinsically unstable in the character of the employment they afford. I would beg for investigation of these regions which are, by the character of the local employment, specially liable to give rise to a distressed area situation. That is how the present distressed areas arose. In parts of the country we had dense populations almost wholly dependent on one unprotected industry or group of industries. It was an insurance risk, and we left it uncovered; and now we are having to pay millions of money for salvage purposes when the damage has been done. I look to the Royal Commission on the Geographical Distribution of the Industrial Population to focus public attention on this point, and to recommend appropriate measures for dealing further with it. Some body associated with the Government is needed which will keep the industrial prospects of each region of the country constantly 1983 under review. The location of industry cannot be determined, but it can be influenced, in the national interest.
May I give a comparison? For years past Ministers responsible for Imperial Defence have had in their minds a map of the Empire. They have been familiar with the Imperial danger zones, and they have constantly constructed or modified policy to meet situations threatening to arise. I beg for a similar economic survey of the British Isles, so that every Minister responsible for the economic and social prosperity of these islands will be furnished in his mind with a similar map, an industrial map, from which he can foresee and take preventive action with regard to those regions which have it in them to degenerate into Special Areas of the future. In that way, out of our experimental efforts to help the Special Areas which we now know, there may in the future arise a new technique of administration, co-ordinating all the services of government, so that we may henceforth be able to set about mitigating mass unemployment by foresight, and not by salvage.
I would like to express my thanks to the House and to the Minister for listening to me so courteously. I would not have dared to speak at all, if I did not know the difficulties fairly thoroughly, and if I did not believe that they can be overcome, not by votes of censure, but by national determination and bold thought.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Lansbury
My first duty is to congratulate the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Lewisham (Mr. Brooke) on his maiden speech, and to say that none of us has any right to complain when he intervened this evening, because he has proved by his speech that he has given a considerable amount of thought and attention to this problem. I am sure that in future Debates he will be heard with the same attention and interest with which he had been heard to-night.
I want to deal very largely with the situation in regard to the unemployed, and to say what I think could immediately be done for them. Everyone in this House, and everyone in the country, I feel sure, would agree with me when I say that we have reached a very terrible 1984 pass when the unemployed—and they cannot be in any way blamed for it—and also this House have to fall back on an appeal for more armaments and more A.R.P. work as a means of alleviating the unemployed. To-day 700 men in my division have been engaged on trench work in and around the borough of Poplar. The unemployment figures of the right hon. Gentleman would be up by that 700 men in my division alone if it were not for the Defence business. Everyone of us knows that there is no return on that expenditure. The Prime Minister has said that such expenditure is madness. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) has also described that expenditure in rather similar terms. There is agreement among all of us on that statement, and it should give us some pause while we are discussing, and thinking of, this question that we should have been brought to such a pass of madness when men, and even myself, are rather glad to think that men in my division are getting something more than the miserable dole during these days.
But I cannot help feeling that the right hon. Gentleman might have paid more attention to the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate when he asked that we should consider and plan ahead for the day that will come, either after a war, which all of us hope, pray and believe will not take place, or when an end comes to this terrific expenditure. It is certain that this expenditure, whatever happens at the end, will leave all the countries of the world more or less beggars, ourselves included. As on the last occasion when I spoke just before Christmas, I can see no organisation in the country which is really looking ahead and planning for that time. I regret very much that the right hon. Gentleman devoted so much of his attention to the statistical part of this question.
I am glad that the President of the Board of Trade is here, and I would have liked to have seen the Secretary for Overseas Trade here also. I do not think that we shall settle international trade by an economic war of any kind. The Secretary for Overseas Trade stated at that Box that we were rich enough and powerful enough to stand up to a long fight, if it became necessary. I would like to see us take the line proposed by M. van 1985 Zeeland, who was appointed by this Government and by the French Government to investigate all the questions concerning international trade. In spite of all the difficulties, the Governments that are prepared to come to such a conference should be invited. It is said that the totalitarian States would not come, or at least that this is not a good time to invite them. Personally, I would invite them now however difficult it might be, and I believe that they could be persuaded to come. But supposing I were wrong in that assumption, I suggest that the other Governments—the Balkan, Scandinavian, American and the Dominion Governments—should be brought into a conference to discuss the new economic conditions in the world.
There is no hon. Member in this House who will not agree that the world conditions to-day and the national conditions are entirely different from those which prevailed before the War, or at any other time of which we have had experience. Despite the tremendous productive capacity, the producer of agricultural goods to-day cannot get a living in this country or on the Continent of Europe. We are confronted with the poverty problem in excelis, and it is in regard to that problem, with which the Government do not appear willing to deal, that I should like to make a few remarks. It may be said that if my political friends were on the Government side of the House they could not deal with the national situation and the defence problems, which take up a tremendous amount of time. I agree that that is so, and that they could not in present circumstances do other than the Government are doing, taking into account certain principles and ideas of international relationships. I ask now, as I did on the last occasion when I spoke on this subject, that the Government should set aside one, two or three of their Members to take this particular problem in hand, both nationally and internationally. I agree with those who say that the international situation is tremendously important. You cannot deal with that situation sectionally, by the Federation of British Industries, for instance, making an agreement here and the mineowners making another agreement. What is needed, as M. van Zeeland suggested, is that the nations should come together and find a means of sharing the resources of the markets of the world.
1986 Nobody denies that the resources of the world should be placed at the disposal of the nations on proper equitable terms. No one will deny that there are abundant unsatisfied markets, untouched, to-day. Everywhere throughout the world we find that situation. Even in the United States of America, rich and powerful as that country is, in the Dominions and in our own country, and throughout Europe there are unsatisfied requirements. When we look at Asia, we find that the markets are illimitable. A leading man in the United States said to me three years ago: "Mr. Lansbury, if Great Britain and the United States were disinterested enough they could save both China and Japan, if they went into the questions which concern them, not as to who is going to get something, but what each could give, in order to develop that great country of China, and give the Japanese an opportunity of expansion also." I know it will be said that it is no use reasoning with these people, but the man who made that statement was a person of substance. If I mentioned his name hon. Members would pay a great deal of attention to him. Mr. Cordell Hull has said that in Asia and everywhere else we must either trade or have war. I am appealing that we should at least make an effort to get trade going, instead of drifting into danger as we are at the present time.
If the Government say that they are too busy on the business in which the House supports them, they should either get some new Ministers for the job, or appoint some of their other members to pay special attention to the position. It is not right, fair or just that M. van Zeeland should have been sent through Europe and over to America, with a colleague, and that he should take so much trouble to produce that very wonderful analysis of the world situation, and make suggestions, and nothing is done about it. I make one further plea to the Government, that they should reconsider the whole question. I ask that we should invite every nation to come to the conference. If certain nations will not come, then let the conference be held with those who will come, so that we can let the world know that we have some other international policy, in addition to a policy which everybody in this House says is madness.
I must now say something with regard to the division which I represent because, 1987 living where I do, it is my duty to meet my friends and to discuss conditions with them. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to hurl statistics at me. We did the same thing when we were on that side of the House, and he was the one man who again and again pulverised us with the power of that magnificent voice which he possesses. I could not match him at any time, and I certainly could not match him now if I tried. He knows as well as I do that the problem of the young man is not settled by the training centres. They go there and they get a job, but many of them come back again. He knows perfectly well that the statement about the six weeks and the 2,000,000 static army of unemployed, is not true. They are not the same men every day. I would ask hon. Members and any right hon. Gentleman how they would like a month's involuntary holiday, with no pay, in the winter, and then another in the autumn. How would they like two months' deduction from their salaries and having to live with their families on the unemployment pay which is provided? The right hon. Gentleman's statement begs the question and proves the truth of the statement that you can make figures prove anything. When the right hon. Gentleman was speaking I was reminded—I am not applying it to him—of a statement by Mr. John Burns, that figures cannot lie but that liars can figure. That is a statement which all of us should remember when we are using figures, and the right hon. Gentleman should remember it particularly.
I should like to call attention to certain matters about which a large number of my friends in my division are worried, namely, the waiting period, the payments by the Unemployment Assistance Board and the application of the means test. Do not let us try to ride off by saying: "You know that you once said so-and-so," or "You know what you said on another occasion." Let us face up to the position. I will give two cases. The first case is that of a man, his wife, three dependent children and one boy earning money. The Unemployment Assistance Board give them £2. 1s. 6d. The boy's wages are 16s. When rent and other necessary expenses are deducted there is 7s. 1d. per head left on which to meet the cost of light, heat, household ex- 1988 penses, travelling expenses, clothing, pocket money for the boy, and food. It does not matter what the Labour Government did. We were a rough old lot if you like, but the responsibility rests with the Government now. It rests with the right hon. Gentleman, who was one of our severest critics. He is on the Government side now, and he must defend the position, but he cannot do it. He will not stand up and say that this allowance is enough.
I know what it costs to bring up a child, and I know what it costs to keep myself. I am just as virtuous or vicious as anyone in this House. I do not smoke, I am a teetotaller, I hardly ever go to a play and I never go to the dogs, but I have never enough money. I have a good appetite and I put away good food. If my children when they were young, or if my grandchildren to-day had to live as some of these poor people live, I should go mad. Here is the other case. The facts have not been given to me by the unemployed people themselves but by friends who run a social welfare service. There is a man, his wife, one dependent child and two earning children. The Unemployment Assistance Board allows 19s. and the wages of the earning children are 34s., which makes a total for five people of £2 13s. The rent is 7s. 4d. They live in what the visitors describe as appalling tenements. The travelling expenses are 3s. weekly, and clubs 6s. 2d., and when the rent and other expenses have been deducted there is 9s. 1d. per head per week left for light, heat, coal, expenses of the earning children, household expenses, clothing and food. I could give other cases, but I do not propose to do so, because the figures which I have given speak for themselves. It is true that when I first came to this House people got nothing of this sort. It is true that over and over again we have raised the amount and sometimes we have cut it down a little. It is true that 100 per cent. more is given than when I first spoke in the House on this subject in 1910, but since then the conditions have changed, our ideas of values have changed. Nobody wants to go back to the old workhouse system, and nobody will say that our country cannot afford to pay these people more.
My next point is that of the aged people. I ought to be able to speak with authority on this subject. I have not been 1989 bothered by the old people until the last year or two, but now I never attend a meeting either on weekdays or Sundays but old people come to me and beg me to say when I think something more will be got for them. From the point of view of increasing consumption it would pay the nation to give more to the aged people. Therefore, I plead for them. I spent last week-end speaking in Cornwall and Devonshire. I have not often met fishermen face to face but I met them on Saturday and Sunday at St. Ives and Penzance, and elsewhere. It is an impertinence on the part of anyone to start talking of what a fine lot of men they are. There they stood with nothing to do. What do you think they asked me? They asked me whether I could explain why agriculture was subsidised, while fishing, an important industry, was left almost to starve. I could not answer except by saying that probably there were more people in agriculture who had votes than there were in fishing. These men told me a pitiable story of how after they had caught the fish it was carted away to Grimsby and came back to them, and that the price they got for it was next to nothing. They asked what my friends were going to do, and in an inferential way what I was going to do. I said that whenever I got the chance I would put in a word for them in the House of Commons, and I am putting that word in now.
But there is a much more serious thing. You have all heard of the disaster at St. Ives. I was with the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Beechman) a good deal during last week, and I know that he would not desire, nor would any of us desire, to make party capital out of death. These men who went out with the lifeboat were imbued with the one idea of saving life. One fisherman, who must have been nearly my own age, as we sat talking in the rest-room they have put up for themselves said, "You want us to wait until Parliament passes legislation." I said "Yes, you cannot get it in any other way." "Well," he said, "in 1858 a scheme was brought forward to give us a harbour ehre which would have saved not only those men's lives but the lives of many who have been shipwrecked on this coast." And as he was speaking I remembered a speech which the present Lord Runciman delivered in this House, I think in 1930 or 1931, in which he told 1990 us of the harbours around the coasts which needed to be dealt with. Nothing has been done. It is not the fault of any individual hon. Member; it is the fault of this House collectively, perhaps because we have never realised that this is such a tremendous problem for the fishermen who are among the best of the race. When the great disaster took place on the coast of Lancashire years ago the editor of "Punch" wrote a magnificent poem about the men, which haunted me all the time I was in the West during those three days. This is how he concluded his poem:When in dark nights of winterYou hear the tempests roar,And hurricanes go sweeping onFrom valley to the shore;When nature seems to stand at bayAnd silent terror comes,And those we love the bestAre gathered in their homes;Think of our Sea-girt IslandAn harbour where alone,No Englishman to save a lifeHas failed to risk his own.Then when the storm howls loudestPray of your charity,That God will bless the LifeboatAnd save the warriors of the sea.Charity and love are of no use unless they are transformed into deeds. This country can, if it will, build these harbours around our coasts. This country can, if it will, give the very best safeguards to these men, and it is for this that I appeal to the right hon. Gentlemen the President of the Board of Trade, the Minister of Transport and the Prime Minister. I also talked with men on the land, and all of them asked why Great Britain cannot recover the derelict land? "Why cannot Great Britain, instead of storing up wheat all over the world grow it at home and store it here? We can exchange our labour for the labour of men in the towns and industry." I do not claim that it sounds very feasible without a great deal more explanation, but I want to finish by asking this question. The hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) and others have rather complained about the word "Socialist" in the Motion. Is not the whole country socialistic to-day, even if it is not Socialist? None of the greatest industries, from agriculture to shipping, can stand alone. If Mr. Gladstone or Mr. Cobden were to come back to-night they would be petrified if they knew what the Government were doing to-day for trade and industry. You will have to 1991 take the other big step and produce food to eat, clothes to wear, and build houses for people to live in, not for private profit.
§ Mr. Eden
I am sure that all sections of the House have listened with appreciation to the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), for he always contrives to express our problems in terms of human values, values which perhaps have too little weight in the ordinary cut and thrust of debate across the Floor of the House. Whatever view some of us on this side of the House may have about the actual terms of the Vote of Censure, there is no one, I am confident, who has any complaint that a Debate on this subject should be taking place at this time. There has been some controversy about figures. Perhaps we have all been guilty on occasion of speaking loosely, but I think the Minister of Labour made his point about the size of the standing army of the unemployed. But whether the army is standing or fluctuating it is still an army, and the Minister of Labour made no attempt to disguise this. No one can doubt that the problem is not only serious, but is increasingly serious, for reasons which I will give to the House in a moment. Had it not been for the daily anxiety regarding the international situation this House and the country would be infinitely more preoccupied about the domestic unemployment situation than it is, and it will, therefore, do no harm if we concentrate our attention on this problem rather more than we have done.
The Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley) refers to the importance of international trade and the extension of that trade as a remedy to meet the present evils. I think we shall all agree that it is the best remedy, but we shall also have to admit how unpromising are the hopes of any great alleviation of our unemployment problem from an expansion of our export trade. The hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) referred earlier this afternoon to the decline in our export trade, and he gave figures showing that there had been a decline of £200,000,000 between 1929 and the present day. At least it will take some time to make up that leeway. I would like to say to the President of the Board of Trade that we 1992 welcome the firmness of the declaration made by him and the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department in reference to the new form of competition which we have to meet. Some little time ago attention was drawn to this in the House and some people thought we were unduly alarmist, but I am convinced that in the immediately forseeable future this country will have to meet a new form of competition in its export trade. I wish it was not so. I entirely agree with the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley that if everybody would join and put into force the van Zeeland Report everybody would be much better off, but, unfortunately, there are some who cannot be convinced of that. How far we should be justified in seeking to place ourselves alongside those who would promise to put that report into practice and doing so is another question. Personally I have sympathy with what the right hon. Gentleman said. The fact is that this new form of competition and the practice of certain Governments which is deliberately directed to limit trade to channels which will hinder rather than help an expansion of world trade.
The subject upon which I wish to speak particularly, the one aspect of this unemployment problem which unhappily has too many aspects, is the question of the younger unemployed. This is not a question of statistics, and I am not going to give the House any figures at all. Nor is it a question of the work-shy. Given decent conditions and fair opportunities there is no problem of the work-shy in this country. But it is a problem of deterioration, and if it is allowed to continue it will reach a point where, through no fault of the men themselves, you will have a problem which will be virtually insoluble. We shall all agree that it is a reproach to us that there should be tens of thousands of young men unemployed in this country to-day. It is a loss to our national strength. Putting aside altogether the question of human suffering, it is a loss of national wealth. All countries have had this problem in one form or another. They have had it in the United States of America, where they have sought to solve it by means of what are known as the Civilian Concentration Corps camps, about which hon. Members know much more than I do. I do not propose to go into any dissertation on these camps. I was fortunate enough to see 1993 one. It is a useful reflection for us that these camps were much criticised when they began but are now, I think, universally accepted. The criticism has almost died down.
Another feature about them which does not apply here is that not only are they voluntary, but there is a waiting list for these camps. I am not going to advocate that we should adopt the methods of the United States. The conditions are not the same and like methods would not apply, but I should like to put it to the House whether some parallel attempt might not be made here. The Government announced the other day that 50 holiday camps were going to be constructed. Everyone welcomes that, and probably they would welcome it more if there were even more holiday camps. Is it not conceivable that in their construction we should be able to appeal for the voluntary enrolment of a certain number of these young unemployed specifically for that work? Would it not be reasonable to suppose that a plea of that kind would meet with an answer? I know I shall be told—and it is true—that it will take longer to build the camps if you ask that a certain number of these young unemployed should work on them. Perhaps all the camps cannot be so constructed, but we have to face the problem of the deterioration that is taking place, and it is not unreasonable to propose either that some of these camps should be built by this labour or that the contractors should be asked to offer terms to a certain proportion. [An HON. MEMBER: "What terms?"] At the normal rate of pay. I hope it will not be thought that I am suggesting cheap labour. We have this immediate problem of the large number of young unemployed, who are deteriorating, because perhaps they have never had any work to do. All I ask is that they should have a chance to do some of this work.
There are other things than the building of camps that could be done. There are questions of amenities. In the industrial parts of America they are beginning to carry out important schemes for beautifying cities and the approaches to them. Why should that not be done to some extent here? Why should not industrial towns be given an appearance better than they have to-day? We have 1994 a certain number of schemes by the Special Commissioner—notably there are some in Tyneside—but there is no reason why what is being done for Tyneside and other special areas should not equally be done for the country as a whole. That seems to me another aspect.
I come to a third. This is, I know, more difficult still. We have this problem of the large number of unemployed and we have the fact that the training centres are absorbing only a small number. We have at the same time a housing problem of urgency in London, in Glasgow and in Tyneside. We are all conscious that it is essential to protect the labour of those normally engaged in industry, but does it really pass our wit to devise methods by which we can carry out special housing schemes in a number of areas? We have to face the question of finance but the deterioration in quality of these men is the most costly thing that can happen to the nation. Is it inconceivable that we can have a special scheme for which there shall be recruited men, especially among these sections of the young unemployed population, to carry out, for instance in parts of London, Glasgow or Tyneside, housing schemes which otherwise would not be practical for some time to come? It is obvious what the difficulties are and the conditions that would have to be imposed but there is a further development which might possibly be carried out. I do not see why we cannot have our own four-year plan, as it were, for this unemployment problem, a plan which would comprise construction such as the construction of these camps, what we might call amenity schemes and special housing schemes, to meet needs which are well known to all of us. In the end democracy, like every other form of government, is going to be judged by results. Recently I, and no doubt many Members, have had opportunities of studying reports of what is being done in some other countries, besides sometimes seeing it myself, and I am convinced that we have to find some method of dealing with this problem far more fully than anything that we have been able to achieve so far.
I should like to say one word on the educational aspect of this unemployment problem. I wonder whether the time has not come for us to re-examine the question of making some use of the Fisher Act 1995 of 1918. Except for three cities, that Act was never actually put into force. The only part of the country where it still has any application is Rugby. [Interruption.] If my right hon. Friend is so enthusiastic about it I might ask him—no one could do it better—if he could not make representations in a certain quarter so that perhaps the value of trying to enforce that Act on a national scale might be reconsidered. Even more important is the question of technical education. I do not know how many Members happened to notice a speech by the President of the Board of Education the other day, in which he said two startling things. He criticised the backwardness of this country in its facilities for technical education of all types and he went on to give a parallel. He said that in 1937, under the system of training and apprenticeship of one of our chief competitors. 850,000 young workers were receiving part-time technical education in working hours, and he gave the parallel figure in this country as 30,000. There are about 10 times that number who receive it out of working hours, but the question is whether the proportion receiving such education in working hours should not be higher than at present. It must surely give us cause to consider when we find that under the other system which we dislike so much they are giving so much time in the day's work to education, the time being taken out of working hours.
I may be told that it is no good asking for more technical education because at present there are not the facilities, and I believe that to be true, but I would ask the Government to consider whether those facilities should not be provided on a more extensive scale than hitherto. Some 40 years ago, when the industrial outlook was a very anxious one, Lord Rosebery speaking at Birmingham, told his audience that there were three things that they should practise—independent thought, political training and a divine discontent. I believe that divine discontent is what we should practise now. Perhaps some of us would not mind if it were not too divine. I take that sentence to mean that what is required is a healthy ambition, a continuous battle against complacency, which is the most insidious and the most fatal disease from which any State can suffer. A nation which is never 1996 satisfied is fulfilling at least one of the conditions towards progress.
I noticed, perhaps above all in the United States, this drive, if you like, of the younger generation, at any rate a spirit which you can sum up by saying that they are determined in that country that what was good enough for their fathers shall not be good enough for them. That seems to me to be exactly the kind of spirit that we have to capture. The nation looks to us to deal with these immediate pressing problems, of which unemployment is by far the most serious, and it is our duty to offer the best we can in practical proposals, because it is the duty of Parliament to find a solution.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Maxton
I have listened with very great interest to the various speeches that have been made, and I have a feeling that on the Government side they have all been an evasion of the central part of this Vote of Censure rather than an attempt to answer it. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has made a series of interesting proposals for modifying the evil effects of unemployment and for palliating the conditions of a certain number of the unemployed, and with some of his proposals I am not disagreeing, but the main attack of the supporters of the Vote of Censure is that the Government, after nearly eight years of unlimited Parliamentary power, with the right to bring forward any scheme they desire and put it into operation, have made no inroad whatever on the central problem of unemployment. They say that is not because many of the devices that the Government have adopted or carried out were bad devices, but because the general system upon which the industrial, financial and commercial life of this country is now run does not provide, in these days, a satisfactory and efficient mode of carrying on a nation's business. They say that if we are to get rid of the problem of unemployment and the attendant problem of poverty that goes with it, it must not be by following devices, but by fundamental changes in the whole national structure. I notice that there are on the Paper Amendments from different quarters. There is one from the hon. Member for Southampton (Mr. Craven-Ellis), who recognises the problem, but instead of Socialist principles, he calls for the rebuilding of Britain; and there is one from the hon. Member for 1997 Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Harold Macmillan) who calls for reconstruction on new principles.
To-day, we have not had an answer from the Minister of Labour. He made a speech in which I am sure we were all tremendously interested; he made a speech which would have been a good speech on the Ministry of Labour Estimates, but it was not a reply to a Motion of Censure. The right hon. Gentleman quoted many statistics, and I do not complain about his doing that, but I noticed that he omitted one very striking figure. On nearly every occasion in the past on which he has stood at that Box to speak on unemployment, he has told us that although the unemployment figures were very high, the numbers in employment were steadily increasing. He did not tell us that to-day; he was completely silent about that figure which he has used so effectively in the past. I want the Minister who replies to the Debate to tell us what is the position with regard to that figure. Is it a fact that we have now reached the point where not only is there a large unemployment figure, but the numbers of those going into employment, instead of increasing, are decreasing?
The right hon. Gentleman divided up the statistics into different categories—those unemployed for over six months, those unemployed for less than six weeks, and so on. Those statistics are very interesting, but they are no reply to the Motion of Censure. All the right hon. Gentleman's attempts to minimise the figures at the same time increase their significance, because every time the right hon. Gentleman tells us that out of the 2,000,000 there is a number who have not been unemployed for a very extended period of time, he simply proves that in the course of one year, while there are 2,000,000 unemployed people, there are far more people than that who have been affected by it. The probabilities are that in the course of any year there are 5,000,000 people, with their families and dependants, who have this terror coming on to them. Although I would not like to call that a standing army, it is certainly a potential army of 5,000,000, always in training for unemployment, who know what unemployment means, and who have to adjust their standards of life while in employment to the knowledge that unemployment is not very far away from them. That is a terrible thing.
1998 The National Government came into power in 1931 with three or four mandates. First, they came into power to get rid of the profligate Labour Government that was spending money right and left. Well, to use an Americanism, the Labour Government did not know nothing about the spending of money compared with the present Government. Secondly, they were put into power to maintain our currency and finance on a sound and solid gold basis. They tumbled off that. Does the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade not accept that?
§ Mr. Maxton
That is not the point. The National Government came into' power for that purpose; there were no other reasons for their existence. I admit that when they fought the election, they claimed that going off the Gold Standard was one of their greatest achievements; but when they came into power, when they were created, when they were brought out of the void, it was for the purpose of preserving the Gold Standard basis for our currency. That went. The Government were also put into power to get rid of unemployment—I see that the Chief Whip seems to object to that statement. As a matter of fact, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is about the only Member of the original Government who has been in steady employment since then. Perhaps that is due to the superior system of education in Rugby. The Government had, as their big device, tariffs, which I can remember for 40 years as the great panacea. I wish that the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) were in his place beside me, because his faith in tariffs and his prophecies as to what the establishment of tariffs could do are absolutely unlimited. According to him, everybody was going to have, not merely one job, but two or three jobs, and always at two or three times the wages to which they had been accustomed.
I say that the Government have done the things that they had in mind, and some things that they had not in mind; they have fired every shot they had in their locker; and yet there are 2,000,000 unemployed to-day. Public money is being poured out to an extent that the Labour Government would never have 1999 dreamed of daring to do. Imagine the howl that would have gone up from the Conservative Opposition—perhaps "howl" is not the word to use of a Conservative Opposition—imagine the barrage of petty sniping that would have gone up from the Conservative Opposition Benches if the Labour Government had proposed to spend one-eighth of the amount that was intimated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer this week as being the new Defence Loan. The big attack on the Labour Government was that the Unemployment Insurance Fund debt had gone up to £120,000,000. The great financiers and economists of the Conservative party were horrified by the idea of a debt of £120,000,000. That is one way in which they have developed since then; they are not so easily horrified by a debt. They have become tough and hardened. I remember that a year or two ago, Lord Horne, when he was the right hon. Member for Hillhead, said, in referring to the spending of these tremendous sums, that this nation could take it in its stride. The Government are proving that. I do not know where the money comes from. These things are a mystery far beyond me. At a time when we have 2,000,000 people living on the most miserable standards of life, the Chancellor has only to put a notice in the newspapers and out of the pockets of the people in the City are handed hundred of millions for war, and nobody is horrified. Yet they were horrified at the idea of a debt of £120,000,000 on the Unemployment Insurance Fund for the purpose of maintaining a much larger section of the community than ever operated in the City of London in daily bread.
I say that the Government have exhausted every possible political idea they had. They can go no further. We did not hear a single idea from the Minister of Labour as to any further developments, there was no suggestion that there might be a little more money for the unemployed. There was not a word about the position of the old-age pensioners, whose position is closely allied with this whole problem. There was only the very academic utterance that somehow or other the position of the primary producers must be examined. There are 1,200,000,000 agricultural workers in the world, and 800,000,000 industrial 2000 workers, and we have got to give our attention to these 1,200,000,000 agricultural workers. Undoubtedly, there is a point there. But the Minister of Labour should not treat us as though we were just a debating society of which he is the chairman. This is not a pleasant Sunday afternoon gathering at a Baptist or Wesleyan church; this is the British House of Commons, in which the right hon. Gentleman is a responsible Minister. If it be that the 1,200,000,000 agricultural workers of the world, the primary producers, the fundamental wealth producers, are at starvation level and cannot make a living, what is to be done about it?
I want the right hon. Gentleman to go a stage further. I want him to tell me how many of these 1,200,000,000 agricultural workers and primary producers are living in the British Empire. How many of them are men with coloured skins? How many of them are living in terrible conditions? How many of them are in India? What has been done during the life of the present Government to raise the standard of living of the peasant workers in India? How many of them are in Africa, how many are in Jamaica and the West Indies? For how many of them are we, as a Parliament, definitely responsible? A big proportion of those 1,200,000,000. When I was recently in South Africa I saw natives there who were paid 4s. a month for agricultural work, in a country that is simply teeming with wealth and with great potentialities for turning out more wealth. What is being done about them? Where is the attempt being made by this Government, who are responsible for the British Empire? Surely the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade will not deny that. Have they thrown the Empire overboard now?
§ Mr. Maxton
I know enough about that. I know these men were in the Dominion of South Africa and that the Parliament of the Union of South Africa is responsible, but they are worse in the Protectorates. But surely the Minister will not run away on the Dominion business, because that was another of their great achievements that was going to produce results—the Ottawa Agreement. Are 2001 the Dominions out of that? Is the Union of South Africa out of that, or Canada out of that, or Australia, or India, or Newfoundland? Surely you are not going to start denying your responsibility there also? Here we are, with no attempt, no organised, serious attempt, to raise the standard of life of the primary producers in various parts of the British Empire, although the Minister of Labour, speaking for the Government, tells us that the position of the primary producer is a fundamental matter in the approach to this problem.
An hon. Friend says that they have appointed a new Minister of Agriculture, but, frankly, I do not see a Minister of Agriculture in this country making a success of the organisation of British agriculture. He may be able to satisfy the farmers, though I think that is very doubtful. If the three Scotsmen who preceded him in the office of Minister of Agriculture could not satisfy them, I have grave doubts about an Englishman succeeding. But his chances of making a successful British agriculture are but frail, if the big production of the world is going to be done on the cheap, with sweated coloured labour, and under almost slave conditions. The British agricultural worker, I hope, will never be able to get on to a competitive level of life that will enable him to produce commodities at the prices at which that type of labour can do it. British agriculture, therefore, is only going to be put on a basis temporarily, by subsidies drawn from other and more profitable parts of the national economy.
I think I have covered, and not unfairly, the operations of the present Government since they came into power, and they have been a Government for eight years. They have never made any impression on the unemployment problem at all. There have been fluctuations, ups and downs, admittedly, but the fact that there are these ups and downs shows that they have nothing to do with the Minister who happens to be sitting at that Box. If there was a general, steady improvement, we would give him the credit for it, or if there was a general tendency downwards, we could put the blame on his shoulders, but when the thing moves about, up and down, and all over the place. it is evident that it is happening for reasons that have nothing whatever to do with him, but for reasons that have 2002 to do with the basic principles upon which the people opposite are trying to run the industrial system of to-day, which may have had a relation and a reality and a justification in the past, but which are completely inapplicable to the existing situation. Basically, hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite believe in a poverty society.
§ Mr. Magnay indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Maxton
The hon. Member must not shake his head. I know he does not want them to be too poor. I know the hon. Member very well. He would not like to see anybody too poor, and he would like to see the unemployed better off, but he believes in a state of society in which the big mass of the people have just got enough.
§ Mr. Maxton
Well, I may be mistaken about the hon. Member, but the general attitude and the general philosophy of those who sit on that side of the House, whether the hon. Member throws it overboard or not, is that the world is a place in which the big mass of the people live in poverty. But then there are the Tories, only a few, living in affluence. These are the lords and masters, and in between there are a few who are neither too high nor too low, but just kept there to warn people who are on the top that they may go down, and to entice people who are underneath to believe that they may go up. That is the standard of society that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite believe is fore-ordained. But you have now reached that period in our economic evolution when you cannot have the world running any longer on a poverty basis, and you have to start right away and make up your minds that your first attack on all your problems—trade problems, international relation problems, arms problems—is to make a frontal attack on poverty wherever you find it.
I say to the right hon. Gentleman, and I would say to the Prime Minister if he were here—I have not made myself difficult about his operations in foreign affairs; indeed, I have made any amount of difficulties for myself by not trying to make some for him—that his attempt to talk to the dictators about disarmament is just rubbish, and the Chancellor's intimation the other day is an indication that they recognise it. The attempt to 2003 talk to them about foreign trade and competitive trade is just nonsense also. What you cannot talk to dictators or to anybody else about is the condition of their people. Go to the rulers of the various countries in Europe, Asia, and America, dictatorial or democratic, and discuss for five minutes the condition of their people. They will find that, whatever the form of government is, the mass of the ordinary folk are living under damnable conditions. They can put their heads together and see whether they cannot try to do a measure of economic and social justice to the populations of the world, and along that line I believe there opens up an avenue towards decent world relations between the nations, towards peace and security, and towards an opportunity for a decent life for ordinary folk.
§ 7.40 p.m.
It is difficult to follow the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton). The House always listens to him with great attention, but I would like to ask him, having listened to the whole of this Debate from the start, whether he thinks his speech has made any contribution to the solution of the problem which is before us this evening. The right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) made a point, with which I think most hon. Members agreed, that there is a drift in this country to what is loosely called Socialism. The right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) and others have made attempts, some of them perhaps feeble, to face the immediate situation. Then comes along the hon. Member for Bridgeton and makes a great speech, which everybody enjoys listening to, but I venture to say that he did not offer one iota of contribution as to how to solve this unemployment problem, not in 10 years' time, not when he has brought about a revolution, but next week; and it seems to me that it is next week or to-morrow that we have to find the answer to our problem.
§ Mr. Maxton
I would remind the hon. Member that this is a Vote of Censure Motion. This is not the day on which James Maxton helps the Government out of their difficulties. One must make the appropriate contributions on the appropriate occasions, but I do believe that my proposal that the Government should turn their attention to the poverty 2004 problem in our own land was a constructive proposal, and the only constructive proposal that is worth making.
§ Mr. Cartland
I have only known the hon. Gentleman once come to the assistance of the Government. That was in September last, and I then strongly disagreed with him. For different reasons, I disagree with him to-night. I do riot disagree with him when he says that really what we are discussing to-night is the question of poverty. Where I do disagree with him is when he says that we have to consider all these questions in a particular way because it is a Vote of Censure Motion. I cannot help feeling—I quite agree with the Amendment put down by my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley)—that you are always going to be handicapped in any solution put forward, because if what is put forward on this side will not be considered by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and what they put forward we here cannot consider, then I see neither a solution of this problem, nor any salvation for the country.
I cannot help feeling that this Debate is taking place in circumstances very different from those in which many of the Debates which we have had in the last three years have taken place. Unemployment has suddenly become a popular subject, and it has really become popular only because, as my right hon. Friend said, of the recent rise of 280,000, which has put the figures above the 2,000,000 mark. When I say "popular," I am talking about the newspapers outside, not about this House. I am not seeking to minimise the position at all—I should be the last person to do that—but, frankly, there is nothing so unusual in the fact that this particular rise has taken place, a rise perhaps caused by the increase in unemployment in the building and distributive trades, which always takes place at this time of the year. But, supposing the figures had not gone above the 2,000,000 mark, but had kept just below it, so that they did not give headlines to the newspapers, would there then have been as much interest shown in them outside the House as there is to-day?
The hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) made a very good point when he talked about unemployment becoming "the old complaint." At what moment is it thought that the people of this country will say, "This 2005 cannot go on," just as there came a certain moment when the people said, "Disarmament cannot go on any longer"? I ask hon. Members, has that moment come now, or are we still in the position of talking about unemployment as the old complaint. The tragedy is that if we had made a determined effort 10 years ago, or even five years ago, the hon. Gentleman opposite would not be in a position to make the speech which he made tonight. It is a sobering thought that only once since 1921 has the percentage of unemployment to the insured population fallen below the figure of 10.
I wish to address two questions, one to the Government Front Bench and the other to hon. Members opposite. I put this question to the Government. If to-day we were discussing an unemployment total not of 2,000,000, but of 3,000,000 or 4,000,000, what policy would they bring forward to deal with the situation? To me it seems just as bad to be discussing a figure of 2,000,000 as a figure of 3,000,000 or 4,000,000. I think the degree of unemployment has ceased to matter. We ought to be fair to the Minister of Labour. My right hon. Friend has done as much as, if not more than any other Minister of Labour could do, with his present powers. If we take what he has done in regard to Special Areas and in other directions, we shall find that he has done as good a job of work in his office as any other Minister of Labour could have done. Sometimes I think he has proceeded too cautiously. His hobby is sailing. Sometimes I feel that he does not seem to realise that we have already passed the age of steam and entered the age of electricity, and I should like him to move a little faster, but, on the whole, he has done as well as anybody else could have done in that office. I would put this question to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. Does he seriously think that we can continue to try to solve the problem on the present lines? I do not believe that you can make much impression on the real problem unless you start off with a complete re-thinking out of the problem itself, and what we are doing to solve it.
Now I want to put a question to hon. Gentlemen opposite. I want them to face this point. Is it now just a question of the distribution of wealth? My hon. 2006 Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Harold Macmillan) in his book makes the point that the limit of the taxable capacity of the nation would be reached long before a decent minimum standard of life could be satisfactorily provided for everybody in this country. If we accept that view it seems to me that it is not a matter of deciding how a particular amount of capital is to be distributed at any given moment among the people of the nation. The system is not static; it is elastic, and I say that the only advantage in the capitalist system is that it does change and is changing more and more rapidly. I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) who implied that he did not know what Socialist principles meant; whether you have private control or State control of industry depends really on this—first, that it should be efficient, and second, that it should provide the greatest amount of benefit to the community.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) said we were witnessing the break-down of the Capitalist system and that unemployment was only a symptom of it, but I do not regard this problem as the symptom of a tottering capitalism. On the contrary, I envisage it as a first sign of a new society. Our failure at the moment is how to use and how to appreciate unemployment. Reference has been made to the fact that there is a shortage of labour in some countries, into which labour has to be imported. I say we ought to be thankful for and pride ourselves on the fact that we have this immense reserve on which we can rely. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I say that, in principle, we ought to be thankful for it, because the ultimate problem in the new society to which we are approaching is one of leisure. But the immediate problem is how to cope, at once, with the accumulated results of the last 15 years of which we have evidence in the distressed areas and in the 300,000 men who have been out of work for more than a year. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield produced figures to show how increased productivity will, in fact, add to our complications. Increased productivity in itself will cause more unemployment. I believe that the ultimate problem can only be met by remembering all the time that the background to leisure must be savings plus 2007 security, and the solution of any unemployment problem is suitable provision for leisure. As to the solution of the ultimate problem, I would like to see now—at once—inquiries started into the possibility of a proper, adequate pension scheme which would enable more people to retire at an earlier age. The problem will be upon us in five or 10 years. We still have time to consider the problem, but we ought to take steps now on the lines that I have suggested, bringing in the big insurance societies to see how they can help. I do not believe that we can delay much longer.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said we should have a four-year plan. Why cannot we have such a plan? There is the arms programme. We had about three years ago a White Paper which laid down a particular programme. It was elastic and designed to suit the needs of the time, but the point was that you knew what the position would be at the end of the first year, at the end of the second year and at the end of the third year, and you knew more or less the sort of provision at which you were aiming. I believe that we have to begin at once, by laying down a definite programme which could be started to-morrow. Who can work and who cannot work? Who is immediately available for work and who requires training? We have to face the fact that there are some people whom we should have to pension off for life, but to do so would be cheaper and far more honest and far more appealing to those whom you want to bring into your scheme than the present method. It would be far more appealing to those whom you want to get to your training centres, if it were felt that you were dealing with them on a definite programme and that each category of people would be cared for properly.
So much for the personnel side. What about the industrial side? There are the needs of agriculture, and there is this essential fact, that at each step in your programme, all efforts ought to be focused on production. The serious thing at the moment is that we have a decline in production, a decline in the volume of exports and a decline in the amount of new money which is going into industry. I agree that you have to rely principally upon trade expansion to provide employ- 2008 ment for the great bulk of the people. In this connection I am glad that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is to reply to this Debate to-night because, in his own way, he has done as much for employment in this country since he has been at the Board of Trade, as the Minister of Labour has done in his Department. I do not think my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has had half enough praise for his part in bringing about the Anglo-American Agreement, and I do not think that he and the Secretary for the Overseas Trade Department have had enough praise or enough support for what they are doing in the encouragement of our export trade. I would like to see my right hon. Friend moved from the Board of Trade.
§ Mr. Cartland
I would like to move him again and I wish to move him up. The point is this. I do not believe you can hope to solve unemployment if you always tackle it from the social end, which is through the Ministry of Labour. You have to combine the social side, which is the lesser side of the problem, with the economic side, which is concerned chiefly with the encouragement of export trade. But you are not going to get export trade going properly if you ignore or neglect any aspect of industry. You cannot concentrate only on markets abroad. You have to remember the men at home and the men who will be coming into the factories later. Therefore, I go back to a suggestion which is an old one but winch, I am sure is right, namely, that you should have, in some form, a committee of economic defence, and I suggest that my right hon. Friend is the man to occupy the position of chairman of such a committee.
A body of that kind would have to survey our export trade not merely from the point of view of selling our goods abroad but also from the point of view of bringing the people into industry to produce the goods at home. There is a remarkable tendency in this country for people to go more and more into transport and the distributive trades and what are called miscellaneous services and not to go into the manufacturing side of industry. That is the sort of tendency which ought to be guarded against, and 2009 my right hon. Friend, in the position which I suggest, would have power to deal with that aspect of the question. Frankly, there is no good in talking about helping the export trade, unless the Minister has powers which would enable him to cope satisfactorily with every kind of competition. I was a little disappointed this week when my right hon. Friend, in reply to a question regarding the possibilities of competition with the motor trade in this country, said it was not expected that the first competing motor-car could arrive in this country earlier than two years hence. Two years is not a long time in which to build up your defences against competition of that sort. Everybody knew for the last 18 months that there was likely to be a decline in shipping and now suddenly it has come upon us. I know that there is an inquiry going on into the matter, but these things ought to be under survey all the time and nothing ought to take us by surprise in our trade organisation.
I wish to add only one more point. Obviously we are about to have a decline in certain trades. It is agreed that increased productivity is the only answer to that. We have to encourage new industries; I do not mean new industries brought on to trading estates, but new inventions. We must bring forward all the inventive powers of the modern age so that they can fill up the gaps as old industries die out. I cannot help feeling that there is some sort of stifling of inventions. I wonder whether my right hon. Friend's attention was drawn to a paragraph in the report of the Special Areas Commissioner for Scotland, in which he says:I have felt for some time that more might be done to help new and experimental processes. At the present time the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research can assist in the laboratory side of a new process.And he goes on to suggest that a scheme should be devised to foster new enterprises in such a way as to encourage new experimental processes. We should see, both by research in the early stages and then by experiment in the later stages, that new inventions are brought forward and that they get a chance of helping to provide our people with a livelihood.
Anybody who has taken part in Debates on unemployment knows how ideas are shovelled up to the Treasury Bench, and sometimes I feel that from 2010 there they are shovelled into pigeon-holes and there allowed to remain. I am sure that the Front Bench realises that everybody in the country is ready for any sacrifice, any effort, to help cure once and for all, not the normal fluctuations of unemployment, but the real unemployment problem. I urge the Government to think it out again, from the leisure not the unemployment angle, from the production not the work angle. If they can do that and can give us a new inspiration, they will find a new solution.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Hayday
As I listened to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour giving his discourse and reciting his statistics, I wondered what consolation the out-of-work man could get from it. I wondered what his opinion of it would be, what solace, what satisfaction, what benefit was coming his way. As I watched the Minister build up, cathedral-like, I could not help feeling when he had finished that he had given us only a tin-hut output. All that he said would not provide one job more for those who are unemployed. He did not inform us, although he gave us enough statistics, of the number of those who are unemployed, who had never had a job of work since they left school, and who are now in adult age. His figures related only to those who had been out of work for 12 months or more. He did not say how many had been unemployed for five or six years. He gave us through his statistics a kind of picture gilded to hide its ugliness, but the spectre still showed its grim reality through the gilt which he was endeavouring to plaster on when speaking of the numbers who had been provided with employment through training and occupational centres. That is not dealing with the problem or the subject mentioned in the Vote of Censure. It is simply a report to the House of the ineffectiveness of the Labour Ministry and of the laxity of the Government in tackling a problem of this magnitude.
It is all very well to speak in terms of hope and encouragement by quoting figures. It is necessary to go through the stern reality of suffering before one can fully realise all that it means in its deadening and depressive effect to those who come within the ambit of the unemployed. Although the 2,000,000 unemployed are not the same people all the time, that 2011 figure nevertheless represents from 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 people during the period of one year. To say that these who are unemployed for three months out of the 12 are not part of a permanent army of 2,000,000 unemployed does not relieve the misery and hardship that have fallen to the lot of those affected. It is obvious that the social structure of society is sadly failing. It is in no way run in the spirit of humanity or equity. It is simply a harsh system that leaves in its trail the residue of those who have served the country and more deserve to have sustenance placed at their disposal in order to keep mental and physical fitness than many who are making profits out of the exploitation of the reserve army of unemployed, and who use that reserve to cheapen what labour they do bring into employment so that they may secure enhanced profits. It may be asked what the Government can do for immediate remedial purposes. I have a cutting here from a prominent daily paper of about six months ago, which saidWe have 1,800,000 unemployed, yet there is so much work to do. We need wide roads, better homes for our people, new schools for our children, sufficient armaments to keep us in security; our waste lands need ploughing up, our farms need rebuilding, water supplies need to be laid to hundreds of villages and thousands of homes. There is so much to be done, and we have 1,800,000 unemployed capable of doing it.That is from the "Daily Express" six months ago, but there are many items that could be added to that list. Is it not strange that in order to maintain capitalist prejudice and prestige in society, we have suffering through floods in winter and suffering through drought in summer, as though nature and science withheld from the people those essentials for life? Nature gives in abundance, and yet we prefer to have unemployed than to employ people in preserving nature's bountiful gifts. It is not natural that there should be idle men with the consequent suffering to their homes, their wives and children and the deterioration that sets in. I say frankly from the Floor of the British House of Commons that if the system of society waged war against me to the extent not only of depressing my standard and my outlook, but of crippling the opportunities of my children and of adding to the worries of my wife, I would 2012 be justified in taking whatever steps were necessary to war against that society in order to see that my children had food and education and that no unnecessary worries were forced on my wife while I was willing to work and provide through legitimate labour for their well-being. Deny a man that right and you deny him God's gift, which you have no right to do.
The present Government are responsible for much of the unemployment. I remember fighting for years at the International Labour Conference at Geneva when proposals for a 40-hour week were being discussed, and when the Government had an opportunity of throwing its weight in with the great American people, with France and with many other countries in order to have an international convention for a 40-hour week to deal with the unemployment problem. We found that America, France and many other big countries supported it, but the British Government representative, acting on instructions, opposed it. If there is sympathy for the unemployed there ought to be a hatred of the conditions that create unemployment, and everything should be done to remove the obstacle in the way of improving the position. It was estimated that a shorter working week would in this country, even allowing for the increased application of science to production and all the arrangements that would take place in order to increase output, affect nearly 250,000 people.
The argument was "Why should we do it? Employers of labour would have to meet the increased cost and it would be so heavy that it would be more likely to add to the number of the unemployed than to diminish it." To-day we are told that we want to see world trade developing, yet the Government would not co-operate in appeasement in the field of unemployment by agreeing to adopt a shorter working week in common with those other countries. We left France to apply it, and that left France handicapped in the world's markets. America did adopt it. It is true that America has a big unemployment problem, but since 1931 or 1932 they have put into employment 8,000,000 people who were then unemployed. The shorten working week and the increased spending power which have come with increased wages have created a much larger demand for labour.
2013 We are now talking about the organisation of our leisure. We have men of 45, 50, 55 and up to 60 who are scarcely likely to be absorbed into employment again. Why should they be left constantly idle and with an inadequate sustenance allowance when the Government might have put into force a law giving two weeks holiday with pay instead of one week? If that were done I have calculated, though I admit it is purely a speculative calculation, that it would bring into employment 250,000 to 300,000 of those at present unemployed, even when allowance has been made for the fact that one-third of the working class already enjoy an annual holiday with pay.
Then there is the question of roads. There are thousands of miles of roads which could be opened up in this country—not only great arterial roads but subsidiary roads and branch roads opening up the agricultural areas. We have the men capable of doing the work, and the cement and road material are ready to hand right along the route. Accompanying that work would come a demand for iron and steel for building bridges. As to the provision of air-raid shelters, it is no use the Minister of Labour saying, "We are giving orders for all these temporary shelters "—those tin sentry boxes. If we are to go in for real home defence why not have deep air-raid shelters? We have the labour. It is not necessary to transport it from town to town or even from village to village. The labour is available at almost any centre in the country where people are signing on for unemployment benefit; and we have the materials also. By building deep, permanent shelters we should be adding to the security of the civil population who are jittery and nervy because of the flood of sensationalism portraying possible aggression from outside, and be absorbing into employment many thousands of the unemployed. We put down a little tin hut and give pictures in the papers to show the effect of a bomb exploding somewhere near it and say "It is all safe." Something more useful ought to be done.
Then there is the contribution which extended education might make to solving the problem. At one end of the scale there are men, the responsible heads of families who are unemployed and at the other end of the scale children going into the industrial world to add to the competition there. Firms and companies wait 2014 for the lists of children who are leaving the elementary schools in order that they may engage them as cheap labour, and for every one they take in at that end of the scale they put out somebody else at the other end. Here are two points which the Government might consider. The old age pension, even the contributory pension, should be much greater than it is, allowing a man and his wife to take their rest and ease away from the competitive industrial life. When a man reaches 60 or 65 he should have the opportunity of receiving that pension on condition that he goes out of the industrial field, leaving room for more of the younger generation to be taken off the unemployment registers. Even if we kept the school children out of industry for only one year longer we should create vacancies for somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 workers; I believe that is the number of those who leave school annually.
By doing that we should, on the one hand, be assisting to educate and equip the younger generation—we should be keeping them out of the factories at an age when their little bones are scarcely set, and before they have any worldly ideas at all—and, on the other hand, we should be bringing into employment those who at the moment are going down in the social scale, losing their self-respect and becoming despondent. In the industrial quarter of any constituency people are watching the gradual decline of the unemployed man day by day, week by week, and month by month. At first there is an attempt to keep up self-respect. Though the soles of the shoes may be worn out the tops are kept polished; though the clothes are threadbare they are kept clean. The clothing of the children is kept spotlessly clean, though there may not be sufficient of it and it may not be of good quality. But gradually despair comes over these people, until they come to the pitch when they do not care a hang. And why should they?
The Government can speak lightly of hundreds of millions when it is a question of building up weapons to destroy life. They know that they have only to ask for the money at a certain rate of interest and that loans are at once over-subscribed, and that there is more in reserve. Why should we not ask for money to be utilised to build up life? Men, women and 2015 children properly housed, decently fed, reasonably clothed, and well educated are pioneers and crusaders for world peace of greater value by far than the politicians or the dictators or the "higher-ups" of whom an hon. Friend spoke. It is not patronage they want. If you cannot find work for them you will have to find adequate maintenance, but that is not represented in the measure of financial support they now get. When they have gone through their unemployment benefit period, qualified by stamps, and have been passed on to the Unemployment Assistance Board, they are not far from the time when they become no longer serviceable or likely to be reabsorbed into employment, and they come to the public assistance committee, to break down. All the time when we are talking about figures and shedding crocodile tears of sympathy, they are on the road to the grave.
I have said before in this House that if you put to me on the scales human life versus money wealth and you say that you have only so much which can be given for human sustenance I say, to blazes with your calculations on the money side of the scale. My balance, my calculation, my support and my backing, by right of good human thought, and because of what is due to these people, must always be on the side of the human element. It demands that you be not too complacent. Do not nestle back comfortably and say: "It is only for tonight" At the moment in this House there are only 30 or 40 of us, but when the Division comes there will be a difference. I have often thought when I have been walking home through New Palace Yard and have seen the cars there, that the price of one of those cars would keep a family for five or ten years. New Palace Yard will be full of the cars of people who will come here to vote, machine-like, in support of the Government, but who have not heard one word of the argument, reasoning or logic or made one contribution to the Debate. They will vote like deadly machines. Even hon. Members opposite who have been criticising the Government for their shortcomings will, nevertheless, support that Government when the crack of the whip is sounded. It is all done to maintain the prestige of Capitalism, even though, in doing it, you have to condemn thousands, nay millions, 2016 of our own people to a life which Christians ought not to be permitted to live.
§ Sir E. Grigg
I am one of those who, when the time comes this evening, will certainly support the Government. I shall not do so, in spite of the ridicule which has been directed to this quarter, merely as a loyal partisan of my side. I shall not do so because I dissent from the first sentence of the Motion which is before the House, but because I do not believe in the remedies which the party above The Bangway are at present putting forward. I am convinced on the other hand that the Government have the opportunity now, which they can take, of doing something definite and absolutely effective to reduce the incidence of this terrible problem of unemployment, in one special particular, that of the youths. It is about that aspect of the matter which I should like to speak.
Whatever comments hon. Members above the Gangway may make on the smallness of our numbers present, there is no question that Members of this House, without exception and without respect of party, are most deeply concerned about this problem of unemployment. The course of the Debate has shown that to be so, and it has shown that hon. Members are also particularly concerned with the problem of the youthful unemployed, to which problem I should like to address myself now. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour was good enough to refer indirectly to the Amendment which stands on the Paper in the name of some of my hon. Friends and myself, and to give certain statistics on the subject, for which I am grateful, because I should not have been able to secure them without his help. I should like to say a word about them. The Amendment on the Paper deals with the problem of unemployment among youths under the age of 21, and I will come in a moment to the specific proposal which those who have put down the Amendment had in mind. In the first place, let me call attention to the awful gravity of the figures.
The number of youths of the age of 18, 19 and 20 years of age at the present time is just over1,000,000. More than 81,000 of them among the insured population, that is to say, 8 per cent. of the youth of 2017 18, 19 and 20 years of age, are unemployed. However you look at that situation it is a most terrible thing that 80,000 of our boys of those ages—they are really only boys—are going into life with that awful sense of hopelessness and of being pariahs, outcasts, a class apart, which we know arises in them. There has been much evidence on the subject of the moral effects of unemployment, not only on the old people but even more upon the youth, and I think the Government should address themselves to this problem of youthful unemployment without delay at the present time.
My own belief is that this part of the problem can really be solved, if we get agreement on the steps to be taken, and it is upon those steps that I would ask the attention of the House for a few moments. I want to deal with a form of organisation known now throughout the world as youth work camps. They have been established in many parts of Europe and in the United States. It is chiefly about the American example, the successful example of another great democracy, that I shall speak. Let us not suppose, however, that these camps originated in America. They did not. The first youth work camp was established by a Swiss pacifist very soon after the War. At his own cost, he brought together boys from both sides who fought in the War, and set them to work in a camp in a devastated area in France to repair the devastation. That was the beginning of the youth work camps.
The plan since then has been very widely followed. It was followed, for instance, in the German Republic long before the Nazi régime came into being, and successive Republican Governments in Germany supported this organisation. The objects of the camp were there defined in a rather characteristic German way as:To combine work with education, to remove the impracticable tendencies of the intellectuals and to prepare the youth of Germany for life and work.That is an admirable definition of the aims of camps of this character. I believe that, if a system of that kind is to be successful, it must fulfil four very practical requirements. In the first place, it must take a substantial number of youthful candidates for unemployment off the labour market for a time, if it is seriously to relieve the problem of unem- 2018 ployment. In the second place, it must not be a system which caters solely for the unemployed, but a system which brings the unemployed into comradeship with those who have not suffered these disabilities—which brings them, so to speak, into the family. I believe that that is enormously important from a moral and social point of view.
§ Mr. G. Griffiths
Would the hon. Gentleman propose to bring into a compulsory camp of this kind the unemployed youth who has not drawn anything from the Employment Exchange? Would it include everyone, whether coming from an Employment Exchange or not?
§ Sir E. Grigg
If the hon. Member will listen, he will find that he will get an absolutely full answer on that point. In the third place, I think these camps must be of a character to strengthen the country, and not merely to create a further drain upon its resources and wealth, and, in the fourth place, they must not compete with normal employment. In the United States, camps of this character were strongly advocated by Mr. Roosevelt, against great opposition, in his Presidential campaign in 1932. As we all know, he won that Presidential election, and he introduced his plan very soon afterwards. The plan was approved by Congress—both by the Senate and by the House of Representatives—in 1933, and the camps were established forthwith. The objects, as defined in the President's order setting up the camps, are as follows:To relieve acute conditions of distress and unemployment in the United States, and to provide for the restoration of the country's natural resources and the advancement of an orderly programme of public works.There was great opposition to these camps at first, not only from the Republican side but from the President's own Democrat followers. It was said that they would be military in character, and would tend to bring the trainees in them under an undemocratic military discipline. But, as the camps showed their value, all that objection died down, and when a straw vote was taken in 1935, 18 months after they had been set up, it was found that they were approved by a majority of over 82 per cent. Moreover, as the camps have gone on since that time, their educational value has been increasingly emphasised and stressed. What I shall have to say about their results is quoted largely 2019 from a study of them made by an educational authority, Dr. Harby, of Columbia University, New York, who made a special study of these camps from the educational point of view, which he published last year.
Perhaps I may say just a word about what these camps are. I have not had the advantage of being in the United States since they were set up, or I should certainly have gone to see them. I think my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said he had actually seen such a camp. I give a description of them from Dr. Harby's book. Normally these camps are set up for a company of 200. They are made of solid wooden buildings built in a square on a pleasant rural site round a kind of village green. One side is taken up with the sleeping quarters of the men, there being generally five dormitories for 40 apiece, with shower baths and so on behind. On another side of the square is the mess-room, on the third the recreation room, and the fourth side is taken up with offices, infirmary and so on. That is roughly the set-out of the camp. They are under the control of the Army Department, and every company is commanded by a captain and two lieutenants appointed by the Army Department, but the non-commissioned officers are appointed from the men in the companies, and they are named leaders and sub-leaders. They carry out something like the normal duties of noncommissioned officers, although the character of the military discipline is not in any way forced, and, of course, the camps are not under military law.
The rations are Army rations, but at a rather higher rate, and the hours of work are six a day. The men wear uniform—a woollen uniform in winter and a drill uniform in summer, with the badge of the corps on the collar. Pay in the camp is 30 dollars—£6—a month, of which the men are bound to remit 22 dollars 50 cents to their families. The work done by these companies in the Civilian Conservation Corps consists of conservation work, dams and drainage, afforestation, roads and tracks, work in the national parks, and certain other varieties of work of that character. The value of the work which they are calculated to have done in the first two and a half years—I have not the figures for any later period—was 2020 £115,000,000. That was actually the calculated value of the work they had done.
§ Sir E. Grigg
It was particularly chosen as work which would not have been carried out at all on normal commercial lines. Dr. Harby is very striking in his comment on the results. With regard to physical health, he says that the men gained on an average from 7 to 12 lb. after their period of six months, and the comments of the Department of Labour, which are fully supported by Dr. Harby, are, I think, worth reading to the House. The Department of Labour says:Thousands of actual case records reflect the fact that the C.C.C. men have returned to their homes definitely benefited physically and mentally; their outlook towards the future is brighter; their sense of self-reliance and their ability to adjust themselves to economic conditions is stronger. It is the consensus of opinion … that the ultimate results of Emergency Conservation Work will prove of lasting value, not only to the men of the C.C.C., but also to the entire nation.Dr. Harby also summarises the contents of a great many letters addressed to him by men who had passed through these camps, and those also are interesting. This is the kind of thing summarised: an increase in confidence; improvement of personality; feeling of independence; feeling of self-reliance; and so on "It is all on those lines. I think the House will agree that that is an experirnent—[An HON. MEMBER: "Which we do not want."]—which deserves some study here. When hon. Members above the Gangway say that they do not want it, I hope that they will at least listen to an argument about it, becaues they have been asking for practical schemes, and some of us believe that this is really a practical way of dealing with the worst of all the problems of unemployment, namely, juvenile unemployment.
We, of course, have camps, as well as training and occupational centres, but they are not at all on the scale of those which have been set up in the United States, nor have they quite the same object. The object of getting various forms of useful public works in these camps, is something quite different from what we have done. The chief defects of our camps are, I think, these. In the first place, they do not in any way relieve the labour market; they merely take a small num- 2021 ber of people to be trained. Secondly—the greatest defect of all—they must, of necessity, treat the youths who go into them as a class apart, who have to have special training of that kind because they have the misfortune to be unemployed. To overcome that, as far as I can see, there is only one way, and that is to make camps of this character part of our national system of education at a given age, and take all youths into them without distinction at that age. That, I believe, is the only way of bringing the unemployed and the rest of the nation together at that age in a system of comradeship.
I suggest that this form of training should he made absolutely universal in the nineteenth year. To simplify the organisation and reduce the cost, there should be two periods of something under six months each in every year, so that it would be possible to take the youths in their nineteenth year in two divisions. The camps would then be continually in existence, and it would be possible for the staffs to have a summer and a Christmas holiday. The figures quoted by my right hon. Friend show that at present boys of 18, 19 and 20 number just over 1,000,000, but those of 16 and 17 are larger annual classes. They were born just after the War. They number well over 400,000 each year. Therefore, these camps would very soon deal with 400,000 boys in their nineteenth year-200,000 in each part of the year.
§ Sir E. Grigg
Just under six months—a little over five months. As to the work they would do, there is, in the first place, a great deal to be done in connection with A.R.P. My right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) spoke about using organisations of youth in building camps for the billeting of children on holiday. That would be an admirable scheme, and there are many other necessary works to be done under A.R.P. Another thing which would not run in any way counter to private enterprise is the reconditioning of land that has become derelict. This would assist us to grow food in the event of war. Another would be drainage and the prevention of floods; another, the improvement of water supplies; and another would be afforestation—because 2022 everybody who has examined the timber problem of this country knows it is a national weakness at present. Another—for special purposes—would be, as in the United States, roads. Finally, I think that in this country some of these camps might be held on board ship, because on our seaboard many youths would rather do their training afloat, and they might turn out a valuable reinforcement to the Mercantile Marine.
Among all those objects I have not mentioned Defence, but I come to it now. Is there to be any military training in these camps? In labour camps, no. My idea is that the training should be absolutely non-military in the great majority of these camps. The main object is not military in any sense. But I do not think Defence should be excluded from the forms of national work which the youths in these camps should be permitted to undertake if they choose to do so. If there were youths prepared to volunteer for Territorial training they might be permitted, up to a number approved by the War Office, to do training in that form. The general purpose of the camps is not military.[Interruption.] I know that criticism will be made, but that is not what occurred. This has helped the unemployment situation in the United States; it has not made it worse. The cost of this scheme would be about £15,000,000. There would be some saving on unemployment relief, and, of course, if my suggestion with regard to Territorial training for volunteers were adopted, there would be some strengthening in Defence.
I come now to the point which is likely to be more controversial than any other, though I do not see why it should be. If these camps are to be universal, like elementary education, then, like elementary education, they must be compulsory. Compulsion is already adopted for educational purposes in this country up to the age of 16 In the Special Areas the unemployed have to do compulsory training up to the age of 18. There is surely, therefore, no new principle introduced when I suggest that not only the unemployed but all the youth of the country at that age should do a period of camp training in their nineteenth year. It is the same principle, the educational principle, applied to the effort to deal with the problem of the unemployed. But when I say "universal," I mean 2023 that boys of all classes, including boys at public schools, should go through these camps, and that there should be no exemptions whatever, except for reasons of health. I think it would really be a fine gesture that the more fortunate should join the less fortunate in these camps in trying to deal with the awful problem of unemployment. It is said that this is going to be a handicap to education. I find that difficult to believe. In France all the boys do two years military training. It is difficult to maintain that the average Frenchman is less educated than people of other nations. It is going to be a handicap only if some youths go and some do not. I feel very strongly that youths who leave their jobs in order to do their training in these camps should be entitled to go back to their jobs as soon as the training is over. I do not think that it is easy to overestimate the advantage of a system of this kind as a means of bringing the unemployed youth together into comradeship with the nation as a whole.
§ Mr. Silverman
What kind of comradeship can possibly result from bringing together for a short period a number of people, the majority of whom would have nothing whatever to go to at the end of the period, and the minority of whom would go back to wealthy homes?
§ Sir E. Grigg
I think that the hon. Gentleman cannot remember the experience of the late War. At any rate, my experience was that living and working together established an extraordinary comradeship which has not ceased to be strong even during the many years that have since passed. I believe that working together for a common cause brings people together in spite of differences of position, wealth, and so on. It may be possible to maintain the contrary, but have absolute faith in the fact that when all the youths of the nation live together they establish a comradeship with one another, and I should not allow, if I could possibly help it, youths who had passed through these camps to go away to be unemployed. They should have the right to re-enlist if they were not going to a job. In the United States of America many enlist for long periods. I believe most sincerely that this would show that democracy can establish a comradeship of service for constructive work in peace as 2024 well as, what we know it could always do, in the conduct of a war. I hope that all parties may come to agree that this is a really practicable way of dealing with the worst part of the problem which the House is considering this evening.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Sir Stafford Cripps
I am not going into the subject-matter of the camps which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) has just done, but I want to deal with more general considerations. I do not think that anybody who has been watching events and the course of industry could have been surprised at the increase in the figures of the unemployed this month, but we have to recall that, side by side wih that increase, there is the greatest expenditure of public money that has ever happened in peace time in this country. I shudder to think what would happen if we were so fortunate as to find ourselves able to discontinue our rearmament. Unemployment would immediately shoot up and we should be in the depths of the most appalling depression, against which no measure of any sort or kind has been taken. In fact the Government to-day are relying on the continuance of the rearmament programme and nothing else to keep down the figures of the unemployed; to keep them within the limits that can be dealt with by the Unemployment Assistance Board, including their accumulated reserves, which are now being used up. Nothing is being done at all to ensure the security of the workers in peace-time occupations.
When the present Government first came into power in 1931 there was a promise that some sort of permanent measure of improvement would be brought about, giving greater security to the workers of this country. We were told that marvels would be performed by the tariff policy and that wonders would he accomplished for the distressed areas. To this end everybody, but more especially the poorer part of the community, were asked to tighten their belts, and those belts have been kept pretty tight ever since, at least, as far as the unemployed are concerned, as tight as the means test can pull. The loosening, such as it has been, that has been apparent has been a loosening of profits in the industries protected at the expense of the consumer 2025 very often, or where some form of organised security has been planned for the sake of increasing profits. It is this expansion of profits which has sometimes been referred to as increased prosperity by Ministers and others. The argument that, if profits were to increase, the unemployed would be automatically absorbed into industry, which we so often heard in the early days, has been shown once again to be the useful mistake of the ruling classes in this country. We are now being told on all sides that there is to be a recession in industrial activity. It is a much nicer word than the word "slump" In fact to-day we are already in a slump in which its worst incidence is being cloaked by the rearmament programme.
The worst feature of the situation is that while the Government have busied themselves, it is quite true, in a very inefficient way with rearmament, they have done practically nothing to deal with the problem of non-munitions employment. The normal peace situation has been entirely ignored, and yet I imagine that probably everybody in this House hopes that the most important part of our lives in the future will be lives of a peaceful kind. I fully realise that that is not likely to be the case if the present Government remain in office and continue upon their disastrous policy towards war. It is because the Government have done nothing that we are again discussing the problem of unemployment.
During the last few weeks a very brilliant campaign has been carried out by the unemployed to call attention to their plight once more. I think that that is necessary because there are so many of us all over the world to-day that some people are apt not to notice the tragedies at our own doors. We have, generally speaking, reached such a state of disintegration of civilisation that both governments and people are apt to look for an increase of employment only to those industries which are industries of war, or such things as air-raid precautions, or some such scheme as the artificial regimentation of people in camps for the purposes of providing work. It is the result, I believe, not only of the tragedy and uncertainty of the Government in their foreign policy, which is bad enough, but equally of the attitude of mind that professes to believe that we 2026 can induce prosperity and wealth by introducing restrictions of every kind into our production.
We know from past experience in history that the only time when this system which we are trying to operate will get rid of unemployment is during a war. We cannot do it nowadays by war preparations, and I hope that nobody in this House looks upon war as the real solution of our unemployment problem. I am as firmly convinced as anyone else in this House that there will never be an ultimate solution of the evils either of unemployment or of war until we change that system which is misruling so much of the world to-day from the economic point of view. In normal political times I have been willing to sit back and watch the ineptitude of the National Government bringing about their own disintegration, as inevitably they must, when they will be replaced by a Socialist Government. To-day, however, in my view, the circumstances are too tragic and too urgent to allow of that course being pursued. Added to that there is the danger that this Government will play the old trick on the electors of calling for national unity in the time of crisis. Not only are the peoples at this moment in our own country, and indeed in almost every part of the world, suffering from unemployment and like evils, but there is a certainty that the tendencies which are showing themselves only too plainly in the actions of this Government will lead to an intensification of those sufferings and tragedies of the people if the people so foolishly allow reaction to remain in power in this country.
There is, too, another vitally important aspect of this situation, on which I have often spoken in this House, and which becomes more urgent every day. Democracy itself is at stake all over the world, and it will, I believe, survive only if we can make it effective. To be effective it must be quickly responsive to the choice and the reasonable demands of the electors as a whole; to-day it is not. It responds only to the interests of a very small class, far smaller than the unemployed. The 2,000,000 of unemployed, with their families and dependants, and those who through the means test have to contribute directly to their support, must number at least 5,000,000 to-day. Then there are all those others who are 2027 jeopardised in their livelihood by short-time employment. The small class for whose benefit the National Government act do not number as many hundreds of thousands as the unemployed do millions.
Profiteers in armaments may be highly satisfied with the results of our democracy. Some of the better-to-do beneficiaries under the various schemes of doles for industry, doles for the land, or Protection, may be happy and comfortable enough, but the great mass of people to-day are protesting against one thing or another that the Government are or very often are not doing. An apathetic and hopeless democracy becomes an easy prey of totalitarianism, and of the dangers to this country and its democracy there can be nothing worse than the apathy which has recently been shown in the political field. To cure that apathy and to safeguard our democracy we have to make the people believe that that democracy can and will give them the things to which they are rightly entitled. A large section of these people whom we have to convince are the unemployed and their dependants.
It is no use putting forward the argument that guns are more necessary than butter, when those who like the butter see so many others living in the lap of luxury and enjoying the delights of the profiteer's paradise. The argument does not ring true when the Press reports case after case of enormous dividends being paid upon the swollen capital of munition manufacturers, and the workers will not accept the argument that their wages cannot be increased, or that their hours and conditions must be worsened, or that they must remain unemployed, and suffer in their unemployment.
If the Government were prepared to put into operation that principle of equality of sacrifice which they used so skilfully in order to persuade the workers to sacrifice their standards in 1931, they could initiate whole schemes of public works for peace-time occupation. There would be no paucity of schemes in the distressed areas or elsewhere. Designs have been worked out of schemes to improve the standards of the workers in every conceivable way, in education, housing, and other matters. There is not one hon. Member who could not point to dozens of works that are required in his own con- 2028 stituency, and who would not admit their urgent necessity if he thought that the means were there to provide them. It always comes back to the same thing—how is the money to be provided? And it is hereunder that there lies the contrast between the two limbs of the final sentence of the Motion that we are discussing. It calls upon the Government to do one of two things—either to produce definite plans for the provision of work or wages under the present system, or to initiate a policy which recognises that the problem can be solved only by the application of Socialist principles. The latter alternative is certainly one that I should vastly prefer, but the chances of the Government initiating that policy are, I am afraid, somewhat visionary and rather remote.
At the present time and in the present state of public and electoral opinion, which is more immediately conscious of the dangers to our democracy and our freedom than concerned with Socialism and its revolutionary changes of our social and economic system. I feel that the chances of getting the second of the the two methods suggested brought into actual operation, are the more remote of the two. I therefore come to consider the first alternative and the financial difficulties which have to be encountered. No one ever thinks of these difficulties when it is a question of war or preparation for war, but when it comes to a question of providing for the poorest of our own people the things that they urgently need, then the more comfortably-off can always produce a hundred reasons why we should not spend the money on these useful things. They are the very first people to urge the outpouring of unlimited wealth on the merely destructive things that are necessary for war.
We are now told that there is to he an increased loan of £800,000,000 for munitions. No one has suggested that it cannot be done. Indeed, everybody seems to take it as a matter of course. Why not make it £1,000,000,000 and have £200,000,000 for peace-time improvements? It is the wicked refusal of the Government to finance peace-time developments in our social services, with the adequate and necessary control that must come with any planned scheme, that makes it impossible to bring alleviation to the problem of unemployment; a problem that must be solved in the long 2029 run by Socialist methods, but which undoubtedly can be alleviated short of complete Socialism. I am convinced, having in view the obvious danger of the breakdown of democracy if we allow the present state of affairs to continue, that the most urgent matter is to use those methods that will partially, at least, alleviate the present evils, and at the same time save the democratic forms of Government in this country. Only so shall we ever have an opportunity of bringing about the complete solution in which I and members of the Labour party also believe.
The difficulties that face the country are to-day sufficiently large, both internally and externally. These difficulties will have to be faced by a Government that intends to preserve the democracy of this country. Hiding its head in the sand may be an excellent performance for an ostrich, but it is not very good for a democratic Government. After eight years of inefficiency and ineptitude by those who were once so loud and violent in their condemnation of the Labour party for its failure to remedy these very evils of unemployment, it must be obvious to the country that they cannot look with any hope to this Government. There are, however, a great many things which could be done within the present system if only those in office were prepared to face all our domestic difficulties with the same financial generosity that they are prepared to display over the foreign dangers, for the creation of which they were largely responsible. Some years ago a distinguished trade union member, Mr. Ernest Bevin, wrote a pamphlet entitled "My Plan for 2,000,000 Workers." In it he said that the plans would fit into the framework of the existing economic system, and he went on to say:I do not claim that these proposals will solve unemployment, but they are workable, they can he made effective at once and, given the will, they should make a tremendous contribution towards easing the problem.It is the will that has been proved to be lacking in the present Government every time that this problem has been approached, and it is a sheer waste of time to continue to urge every kind of scheme upon Ministers, who will always invent arguments to reject them, not because the arguments are valid but because they do not want the schemes. Indeed, their view of society seems to be one in which there will always persist great 2030 wealth and great poverty side by side. Now it is urged that the cost of armaments is so great that we cannot afford any schemes to help the unemployed. In the last Parliament, when that excuse was not available, I remember that when time and again these schemes were pressed on the Government other financial excuses were put forward—we could not afford it—as a good reason for not carrying them through. There are none so hopeless in these matters as those whose political deafness prevents them from hearing the genuine complaints of the people of the country. I believe the Government take the view so tersely and improperly expressed by a London magistrate the other day, when he said that in his view the unemployed and their demonstrations were just a bore.
On the other hand, there are immense numbers of people in this country to-day who, although not yet converted, as I hope they may be, to the full-blooded Socialist programme, have got the will to see that something really effective is done to employ the unemployed upon useful work for the country. If we could join that body of people to the convinced Socialists we should, I believe, be able to make our democracy both active and effective for the immediate carrying through of a programme which would cover this and many other urgent problems. By so doing we should strengthen our democracy so that it would become the means for bringing about the ultimate solution we desire. People can hardly wonder that the electors may get disgusted with democracy if it never gives them the things to which they are so obviously and admittedly entitled, and which instead protects the profits and the inefficiencies of the small section of the community which is behind the National Government.
I have not the time to reiterate the many excellent proposals which have been put forward by the Labour party and by others for employing the unemployed upon useful work. They are all on record and available to any Government which has the will to see them carried through, and has the courage to get the finance to carry them through. That Government, if and when it comes into power, will earn the gratitude of the people of this country, that is to say, the large majority of the people, not perhaps of the profiteers and others with a 2031 similar outlook, because it will be the object and the duty of that Government to curb the selfishness of a small class for the benefit of the people as a whole. However much I personally believe that Socialism is the proper and ultimate remedy, I am firmly convinced that the people of this country are supremely anxious to get rid of the present Government, and are not prepared or anxious to wait until all are convinced of the Socialist view.
If the machinery of our democracy can be made to produce a real result, the people will take fresh heart and will be prepared to give democracy every protection from Fascists attacks, whether they come from abroad or more insidiously at home, and will be prepared to do that without conscription. What the people are looking for is not a particularist Government, not even a Government cloaked under the camouflage of "National," although in reality it represents nothing more than the vested interests of land, finance and industry. They are looking for a true Government of the people which will protect them and will face all the evils of unemployment not with crocodile tears and excuses or capitalists' selected statistics, but with measures which are practicable and which can be financed if the will and the desire to carry them through are there. The true moral of this Debate is that those many elements which are sick and tired of this Government should combine together and replace it at the earliest possible moment.
§ 9.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Magnay
I will not follow the hon. and learned Member in all that he has said, except to note, what I am sure the House will have noted with great interest, that "Socialism in our time" is not the horse which is going to win, and that the hon. and learned Member is not going to be the jockey on that horse. Whether it is going to be the inevitability of gradualness we shall have to wait and see, but I notice that the atmosphere behind the hon. and learned Member when he was speaking was very subdued and quiet, not at all of a piece with the fervent ejaculations which have characterised his meetings in the country. To talk of democracy and the electors as if they were two separate entities is to me sheer nonsense. Democracy in by-elections recently in all kinds 2032 of constituencies has avowed its continued support of the National Government. Being a democrat I accept that verdict, and I do not see why the hon. and learned Member, with all respect, should refuse the verdict simply because it is not in accordance with his feelings. I have no doubt that many times in the High Court of Justice he has received a verdict which has not been to his liking, but he has had to accept it, and it may be that a consideration which has helped him to bear it has been the magnificent fee which he, no doubt, received.
I respect very much the temper of the Debate to-day. It seems to me that hon. Members in all parts of the House feel grave concern at the present position of unemployment. We remember that when the unemployment figures reached the 1,000,000 mark how shocked we were. I regret that there is not the same reaction to-day, now that it has reached over 2,000,000. I desire to say a word of appreciation of what the National Government have done for the unemployed in my own district for this reason. There were 10,000 on the dole, as it is called, when I was elected in 1931 and Mr. Ernest Bevin was defeated. That meant 20,000, you might almost say, in opposition to me, and I never funked the means test. I told them that when there was public money expended there must be public oversight and control. I would rather be defeated than budge from that elementary matter of justice and expediency. Now we have 5,000 or 6,000 unemployed—far too high, but considerably less.
Mr. W. Joseph Stewart
Is the hon. Member aware that in his division there are 10,000 unemployed, equal to 32.5 per cent. of the insured population?
§ Mr. Magnay
That can easly be proved, and we will see who is right. In fact, things are better and because kindhearted folk are getting more clear headed, they are less panicky. They are not afraid of experiments. They are riot hypnotised by experts. The unemployment question may be a great disaster or may prove a great opportunity. But I propose to talk about the causes of unemployment and not so much about the results, which I think are far too much talked about in these discussions. We are faced with this problem—not an insoluble one. Some think that rationalism 2033 is the cure to enable us to increase our export trade, to plan to increase our share in the world's trade by selling more cheaply than our foreign rivals. We know the method far too well on Tyneside—lower costs, closing down redundant factories, standardising materials and products, concentrating on selling organisations, and, therefore, you get increased production per worker and therefore a limited market, which means less employment by restriction of output.
The consequence is that we see places like Jarrow made derelict areas by methods of rationalisation. Then we have other things, like Protection and Free Trade, advocated. We have the moneylenders' and investors' injunction to produce more. This view assumes that the real credit of the community is its productive capacity, instead of the fact that it lies in its purchasing power, as I see it, and only when those two factors are placed closely together and inter-related—productive capacity and purchasing power—can we get true health in industry. Orthodox experts tell us that history shows that the main economic problem has been production—more and more production—how to wring subsistence from the granite fist of nature. "He who does not work shall not eat." But nowadays we must rid ourselves of the obsession that this unemployment problem is one of finding work. It is nothing of the kind. That way lies failure and inevitable war abroad.
May I suggest what seems to me to be the answer to this great problem? It is to insist that we find a way by which the reasonable demands of men and women for goods and services shall be the deciding factor in a policy of production, and that we adjust our theories and work and money to that end. Just as an engine-driver knows that he has to get a head of steam to pull his load and get to his destination in the required time, just so it is not beyond the wit of statesmen that they should know the needs of the community. The other course suggested by the Fascist and Soviet method of compulsory labour is utterly alien to our people and intolerable. Right and wise protection yes, but compulsion never. To put it another way, if our sole aim is to keep everyone between the ages of 16 and 60 in full employment, eight hours every working day, the latest order of the dictators of Soviet Russia and the German 2034 nation is the way we should go. But that would be no good. Man is a living soul and not a cog in a machine. This ill-distributed and lop-sided leisure proves that we have never given this problem the foresight and the insight that we ought to have done. Our people will never agree to the methods adopted in Russia and Germany. But do not let us be too impatient with Russia and Germany. They were Czar-ridden and Kaiser-ridden until nearly 20 years ago. They do not know what liberty means as we know it. Our forefathers bought our freedom at a great price 300 or 400 years ago, and it is not comparable to talk about conditions in Russia and Germany. There is no parity between them. It is a complete contrast.
As I see the problem, we are trying to do the impossible. We are insisting that industry should do two contradictory things—be more and more efficient, and at the same time continue to provide as much work as efficiency saves. The more efficient you become in industry the more unemployment. People still talk about production being the end of the problem. It is not difficult, therefore, to realise how this dilemma has arisen, and how slow we are to admit our error and face up to it as we ought. The dilemma before civilisation, as I see it, is really choosing one of two things, one, the right and just use of the achievements of applied science, so that it may be easy for our people to live, and, on the other hand, an insistent economic conflict between communities who are not allowed to discard the old outworn theories which belong to a condition of what is called scarcity and unremitting toil.
It is not an easy problem to solve, I admit, but it can be solved if, as a nation and as individuals, we do the most difficult thing for any nation or individual to do, that is, give up our difficulties. The key to the door is on our side, and we can go out at any time. If we wish to solve the problem, we can do so. I am not thinking the East Londoners who have demonstrations in Trafalgar Square. If the Press only had the sense to stop reporting their activities and taking their photographs, they would never think of doing these things. It is simply demonstrations that they are after. I am thinking, as I am sure we are all thinking, of the decent folk up and down our land, of the decent folk in my constituency, who want to live decent lives. 2035 I conclude as I began, not only by thanking the Government for what they have done, but wishing them God-speed in all their efforts to solve the problem.
§ 9.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Shinwell
In the course of this Debate one inescapable fact has emerged. From every quarter of the House, with the sole exception of the speech of the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Magnay), dissatisfaction with the Government's policy on unemployment has been freely expressed. Seldom, indeed, has the Government received such cold comfort. Whatever may happen at the conclusion of the Debate, the Motion of Censure has been amply justified. Moreover, that uneasiness is not confined to hon. Members, but is expressed with brutal frankness in the columns of the Press, in trading circles, and in quarters which usually are friendly disposed towards the Government. That cannot be denied. If there should be any doubt regarding the mood of critics outside the House, let me quote from the "Observer" in which it was stated:We have 2,000,000 unemployed, and an unusually large proportion of them in the building industries. That they should have to be maintained in idleness at the public expense when there is so much work of public importance craving to be done must point, in the eyes of foreign onlookers, to something like paralysis of the political brain.The observation "paralysis of the political brain" can refer only to the Government. It is a severe indictment, and it is richly deserved. Moreover, on our trading position and the plight of British industry, the "Colliery Guardian," a periodical devoted to the interests of the coalowners, offers some illuminating observations. In the current issue, they say:It is deplorable that industries like coal, cotton, iron and steel, and shipping, which for many years were the mainstay of our prosperity, should come cap in hand to the State. We may ask whether the coincidence of these supplications does not warrant a complete reconsideration of our trade policy.It is not quite clear what is meant by a reconsideration of our trade policy, but these observations are an indication of their concern about the position of British trade. This is the atmosphere in which the Debate has been conducted, and it is in a large measure attributable to the proved incompetence of the Government. 2036 Out of the mouths of their own supporters they are condemned.
I understand that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, who is to follow me, is to devote the substance of his observations to the subject of British trade, and in those circumstances, I propose to ask him a few questions, because there are certain matters on which hon. Members ought to be enlightened. What is the Government's policy for a revival of our key industries? Have they made up their minds as regards assistance to the shipbuilding industry and the mercantile marine, and if so, what form will it take? Is it to be further subsidies, or are these industries to undergo a drastic reconstruction, in other words, to put their house in order? Is financial assistance to be conditional upon some measure of control and effective coordination within those industries? What of the coal trade and the export position in that industry? May we have further details of the Anglo-German agreement that was recently concluded? In particular, may we have information as to whether there will be a general allocation of markets? Finally, I ask the right hon. Gentleman—and I hope he will vouchsafe a reply—what of the subject of oil from coal, which is a fruitful source of employment? Upon all these matters we are entitled to be enlightened.
The Motion of Censure has had a twofold effect. To begin with, it has disclosed the complete inability of the Minister of Labour to deal with the problem. Hon. Members opposite have thought it desirable to offer an Amendment, which is itself a Motion of Censure. It is obvious that the Minister of Labour is overwhelmed by the gravity and size of the problem. In his speech—if I may say so, a disastrous political effort—he ignored every element of any consequence in the situation. He said not a word about fluctuations in trade. He seems never to have heard about trade cycles, booms and slumps. Nor does he appreciate the devastating effect of technological development in industry. What was the result? When he passed to a consideration of alleged constructive measures, he passed the buck to the Lord Privy Seal, for the only proposal of a constructive character that emerged from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was that relating to the provision of steel 2037 shelters, which are to cost £20,000,000. What can £20,000,000 do in relation to this problem? How many men will it employ, and for how long, and who are the men to be employed? Are they the men for whom the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon expressed such concern?
I think we are entitled to a little more information as to the constructive plans that the Government have in their possession to deal with this problem. What has become of the five-year plan? Have the local authorities replied to the appeal which was addressed to them by the Minister of Health, and with what result? I hope the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade will have something to say on this matter. I know of several local authorities which have addressed communications, with detailed schemes involving considerable expenditure, to the Ministry of Health. What was the purpose of the appeal to the local authorities? Was it merely a subterfuge, a shelving of the difficulty? If it was, it was unfair to the local authorities, to the unemployed, and to hon. Members of this House. I hope we shall be duly informed as to the real intentions of the Government in this respect.
I shall also, like the Minister of Labour, say something about the figures of unemployment. The Minister reminded me of those stage illusionists who contrive, by a feat of legerdemain, to make articles vanish into thin air. So with the unemployment problem and the figures relating to that problem. As he juggled with those figures, I almost thought the problem had vanished and that there was no longer any reason for our admonitions. The Minister of Labour declared that in fact the number of unemployed persons in the country is not 2,000,000 or in excess of 2,000,000. I take him on his own ground, and for the purposes of my argument I accept the figures adduced by the right hon. Gentleman. Let us say there are only 1,000,000, or 750,000, or 500,000 unemployed. If so, the problem has been reduced to manageable proportions, and the Government have not a shred of excuse for their neglect of it. If the right hon. Gentleman had come before the House this afternoon and had declared, on the basis of his statistical information, that there were 5,000,000 persons unemployed, that might have 2038 been regarded as a very difficult problem, but according to the right hon. Gentleman there are actually only 500,000 unemployed. That is the hard core of the problem, and that is the grave situation with which they are called upon to deal. If the right hon. Gentleman cannot deal with a matter of 500,000, what hope is there if the unemployment figures should be increased?
I venture the opinion that censure such as is embodied in our Motion is fully warranted. The right hon. Gentleman sought to prove that the Government had accomplished a great deal. He spoke of the Government bending their energies to the task, and he argued that many schemes had been advanced. Suppose we agree. Then how is it that, in spite of all those schemes, of that abundance of energy, and of the right hon. Gentleman's exuberance, fortified by millions of pounds, there remains such a large number of unemployed? Does it not mean that the problem cannot be solved by the methods adopted by the Government? Will the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade answer that? In spite of all your efforts, all the things you have bragged about, all the things you have talked about on public platforms, all the things said about your accomplishments in the leading articles of your own newspapers, the problem remains, an indication of defeat, of incapacity, or, if you like, of unwillingness to take the appropriate action, and all that warrants censure. So the conclusion that I reach is that if the Government have declined to provide a remedy, they deserve to be censured. On the other hand, if in spite of all their efforts the problem will not yield, they still deserve censure, because they prove themselves incapable of devising remedies for its elimination. There is no escape.
The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour has frequently boasted of the sums spent in relief of unemployment. I think he said, in a speech the other day, that he had to deal with round about £80,000,000 per annum, a very large sum. I am not going to examine and analyse the figures. They are true enough. Let us concede the point that an abundance of public money is being spent in relief of unemployment, but despite this the problem assumes large proportions, and can it provide even a partial solution of the problem? The right 2039 hon. Gentleman did not say anything about the sums spent in relief of industry and in derating, amounting to something like £30,000,000 a year, and in grants from the Imperial Exchequer to local authorities in lieu of their losses, nor did he say anything about subsidies and other assistance, amounting in all to round about £40,000,000. I am going to tell the right hon. Gentleman and the Prime Minister that in point of fact there is as much spent by the State in relief of industry as there is spent in providing relief for the unemployed. But the remarkable thing is that, in spite of the relief to industry—take, for example, the argument that derating would be a contribution to the solution of unemployment—in spite of subsidies and other assistance, and in spite of all the money spent in the way of unemployment relief, the problem remains.
Now let me make the position of this party abundantly clear. If there is no work available, either through the failure of the Government or because privately-owned industry is unable to provide it, then we demand that the unemployed should be maintained in a more adequate and satisfactory condition than at present. Their sufferings are admittedly great, and there is ample evidence of malnutrition in their homes and that where destitution was once spasmodic it is now chronic. Therefore, we demand remedial measures of relief on a higher scale. Does the Minister of Labour, or does the President of the Board of Trade, or does the Prime Minister, or do the whole Government bag-of-tricks justify the present scales of relief or of benefit? If so, on what ground? Are the scales sufficient? If hon. Members opposite believe that, will they get up and say so? I ask the question again, Are the scales sufficient? There is no answer. If the scales are insufficient, is it not time that the Government raised them, or is it that the nation cannot afford more?
Is that the reason why the scales are at their present low level? What have the Government to say about that? Do the Government take their stand upon the payments made during the Labour Government's period of office? That point has frequently been urged. But after all this is a National Government, a Government of all the virtues and all the talents, quite unlike an inferior Labour 2040 Government in a minority position. One expects more from such a Government. There is no justification for the present scale. We know that these are not the real objections. Is it that they believe that unemployment allowances should be lower than wages? But why? If wages are too low why not raise them? That is a means of escape from the difficulty. Raise wages by 20 per cent., and raise unemployment benefit and allowances by 20 per cent. I venture the opinion that the unemployed for the moment would be content, and that 20 per cent. would be of material assistance.
I wish to say a few words about the Amendment which is on the Paper in the names of certain hon. Members opposite. It suggests an all-party effort. It recognisesthat prolonged unemployment is an urgent problem the solution of which can best be approached by all parties in combination.Does that represent confidence in the Government? It asks furthermore for a committee of inquiry. Are these hon. Members then dissatisfied with the Minister of Labour? I said at the beginning that the Amendment denoted a Motion of Censure on the Government and I repeat that statement. Clearly if in order to deal with this problem—and for the moment I do not argue the point—it is necessary to take it out of the hands of the Government and put it into the hands of a combination of parties, then there is grave dissastisfaction with this Government. I hope it will be registered to-night in the Division Lobby.
Something is said in the Amendment which has been put down by hon. Members opposite about modification of the basis of old age pensions, but we all know that that is mere humbug. That is the jam to make the pill more palatable. Let me tell hon. Members opposite what they are actually proposing to do. They are proposing to introduce industrial conscription, to compel young persons to accept work under penalty of having their allowances taken from them. All this talk about labour camps and putting young persons on to building schemes is part of the game. I say, frankly. to hon. Members opposite that if they proceed in that direction they will encounter opposition not only in this House but from the whole trade union movement of this country. Why impose industrial conscription if you are afraid to introduce 2041 military conscription? Will hon. Members opposite face that question? In any event it does not remove the evil of unemployment; it just forces men to work. How long is that work to last and at what rates will it be paid? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) urged, in this connection, that men employed in this way should be paid proper rates. If I may say so with great respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I wish he had been as good a social reformer when he was a Member of His Majesty's Government as he is now.
Moreover will this compulsory system apply all round? Will it apply to the unemployed at the other end of the social scale? For there are two kinds of unemployment, one associated with poverty and the other with riches, and the one is just as much a danger to the State as the other. They are both indictments of present-day society. Therefore, although the Amendment on the Paper is critical of the Government, its substance will command no support on this side. Our Motion of Censure is justified if only because of the mood of hon. Members opposite, but we go much further. We justify our Motion because the Government have frequently given assurances that unemployment would be tackled. They have repeatedly declared that conditions were improving. When we predicted further depression they said we were Jeremiahs. In spite of all the talk about assisting the Special Areas, they have, in all, spent about £16,000,000. They have refused to take the advice of the Special Areas Commissioner on several matters. They have relied upon arms production as a means of finding work. They have refused to assist in reducing working hours. They have done nothing to take the older workers out of industry. Finally, they have claimed credit when the unemployment figures were reduced, so that when the figures are increased they must accept the blame.
Great play has been made with the reference to Socialist principles embodied in our Motion. If hon. Members sneer at this, let them show how capitalist principles can solve the problem. Do hon. Members opposite wish to solve the problem? If so, what stands in the way? If they have no desire to deal with it, then clearly they must not stand in the way of other proposals. I challenge them 2042 to face the problem. We shall not prevent them. But it is dishonest to pretend that within the limits of the present system they can grapple with unemployment and yet refuse to do it. That is the position of hon. Members opposite. Unemployment is no new phenomenon as hon. Members opposite appear to think. It existed long before the international situation worsened. It existed long before the last War. I can recall it in 1897 when I was a mere boy. I experienced it in a most intense form in 1904, and I can recall unemployment riots in 1908. Moreover, we had unemployment when this was a Free Trade country and it lingers on, in spite of tariffs and restrictions. Undoubtedly to have fewer restrictions on international trade would be of considerable assistance, but another change in our fiscal policy cannot remove unemployment. It cannot alter the fundamental contradictions in society which constitute the main cause.
Of course we recognise that by the adoption of certain devices we can mitigate the harsh effects of unemployment. That has frequently been urged upon the Government by hon. Members on this side. A vast amount of public work could be undertaken. The flooding of the countryside could be boldly tackled. National Defence measures undoubtedly could temporarily absorb some thousands of workpeople. Much remains to be accomplished in the sphere of housing. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington spoke to-day about housing as if it were a novel panacea, as if we had never heard of it before, and as if it were a discovery. Indeed, all the discoveries made by hon. Gentlemen opposite were made by hon. Members on this side years ago.
Moreover, there are many possibilities in the field of agriculture to be exploited. Land can be forced into sale and into use. Industry can be co-ordinated and the benefits of rationalisation should be used, not to provide more profit for shareholders, but to meet the cost of reducing the working hours. Overtime should be more effectively regulated, for some work too long hours and some too few. We must redress the balance. We must make retirement from work at an earlier age coincide with a reasonable pension. These are all ameliorative proposals. If applied they may do good. But why not apply them? If we had a Government with 2043 any imagination, if they were not wedded to ideas which modem society should have discarded long ago, and if they were not, to put it bluntly, a stuck-in-the-mud Government, constructive schemes could be readily adopted which would help to lighten the load that the unemployed must now bear. As our Motion indicates, we must proceed much further along the road if the problem is to be removed.
Members have asked what is meant by Socialist principles. I shall be happy to inform them. Firstly, there is what I venture to describe as the maximisation of production; that is to say, the utilisation of all our resources in land, labour and machinery in order to raise the standard of living to higher levels. There is already enough to go round, but if the standard is to be raised we must produce more efficiently and without waste. We should recognise a minimum standard of existence, and this is the natural corollary of a minimum wage. There must be a more equitable distribution of wealth—and here I would venture to reply to the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Cartland), who said that the mere distribution of wealth would not solve the problem. I agree, but a more equitable distribution of wealth, partly by means of taxation and, in the main, by the elimination of profits, would vastly contribute to a solution of the problem under review. In addition, the available work estimated for the nation's requirements should be distributed over the largest number of people, even if it meant a drastic reduction in working hours.
I come to another Socialist principle. Competition in industry should be eliminated and in those industries where the national interests were affected they must be nationally owned. Nor ought we to ignore the control and direction of investments—a most important principle. In the sphere of foreign trade, with which the right hon. Gentleman is called upon to deal, instead of conducting trade wars we should try to promote agreement for the allocation of markets. I know that something has been done along those lines, and in all modesty I would point out that I had something to do with promoting the Anglo-Polish Coal Agreement in 1932. I believe that that was one of the first efforts in that direction. These 2044 are all Socialist principles. If hon. Members dislike them there is only one alternative. They must demonstrate how it is possible to remove the terrible evil in some other way. They cannot be allowed to stand still. What is mote, we shall not permit them to escape from the consequences of their own foolishness.
The unemployed and their dependants are anxiously awaiting the result of this Debate. They have been patient, even passive, but it must not be assumed that they will always be so tolerant. If hon. Members opposite had suffered from prolonged idleness accompanied by poverty they might appreciate how the unemployed feel about it all. Some of us have experienced both, and I say frankly that we did not like it. What we detest for ourselves we detest for everybody else. If hon. Members opposite could feel as the unemployed do they would not be so quiet. There is no excuse for unemployment in a country with so much wealth, such vast resources, so much ingenuity and so much sympathy.
This problem can be solved, and some day it will be. Then it will be asked why we were so incompetent, or, it may be, so unwilling to bring together the idle men, the idle land and the idle resources of this great nation so as to remove the terrible malady which is steadily and ruthlessly eating at its heart. Of course, the Government will defeat this Motion. Hon. Members will dutifully roll up and make a brief appearance in the Division Lobby. They may regard the result as a great triumph for the Government. It will be no such thing. It will not even mean a defeat for the Labour Opposition. It will just represent another defeat for the unemployed, throwing them once more into the abyss of despair to go on living lives of idleness imposed on them by a crazy capitalist system, if, indeed, we can call it a system, and downed, as long as this Government remains in power to bitter impoverishment. Our Motion may be defeated, but the problem will remain, and the responsibility will rest upon the shoulders of those Members who, in spite of their fears and their criticism, failed to sum up enough courage to vote against the Government.
§ 10.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley
I am sure that hon. Members who sit behind me are glad that the Opposition have used the Parliamentary 2045 method of a Vote of Censure in order to enable us to have a Debate on unemployment. To some of my hon. Friends, after seeing so many days in past months spent in discussing countries all over the world, it has come as a refreshing surprise that the Opposition remembers this country. It has been my fortune in many Debates since I occupied my present office to speak after the hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell), and I say frankly that it is a pleasure because his speeches are always vigorous, eloquent and original. I will say that I enjoy his speeches as much as he enjoys them himself. But he does very often lay himself open to a vigorous retort, and to-day certainly there is no lack of opportunities in his speech or in the terms of the Motion which he has supported. He has referred to that part of the Motion which deals with Socialism. I must say that, both from the circumstances in which it was put down and the lack of vigour with which it has been explained, I regard it as less of a challenge to our benches than as a shibboleth for his. No doubt the Whips will watch very anxiously in the Division Lobbies to-night to see whether they answer to this shibboleth with the pure accent of Limehouse or with a slight West Country burr. But hon. Members cannot be surprised if Members on this side who, after all, have studied Socialism, who have taken it seriously—
§ Mr. Stanley
Perhaps I have not read as many books as the hon. and learned Member, but I have read a number of books upon Socialism and have taken it seriously, even if I disagreed with it. I sympathise with hon. Members who say that the present system is outworn, that nothing we can do under it can really cure this problem, and that nothing can put it right but a radical change, the introduction of a new system based upon new principles—I do not agree with that view, but I can understand it; but what I cannot understand is to find people still saying that nothing can be done except on Socialist principles and yet declaring, "We will postpone it for five years in order to obtain an electoral advantage." I cannot understand the view of the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps), who in the course of his speech said the circumstances are too tragic for Socialism.
§ Mr. Stanley
Surely hon. Members on this side cannot be blamed if we are confused as to whether hon. Members really believe that Socialism and Socialist principles are the only possible cure for unemployment, in which case they must press it and nothing else, or whether they believe they can adopt what they call panaceas and postpone this great relief. I want to-night to deal with this very serious subject which we are discussing.
§ Mr. Stanley
I have been up for only five minutes, and the right hon. Gentleman really cannot expect me yet to have answered all his questions, but I want to deal with a serious subject in a serious way, and I will attempt to give an answer to all the major questions and problems which have been raised by the Motion. We have had an extremely interesting Debate. There are some suggestions which, perhaps, fall outside the general line of the theme which I am going to try to develop and to which, therefore, I will not reply to-night.
On one suggestion by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) I would like to say a word. He stressed the importance of technical education. Some two or three years ago, when I was President of the Board of Education and he was my colleague in the Cabinet, I, too, was impressed by the importance of technical education, and I made a survey of the requirements in the way of buildings and equipment which I thought were necessary to bring this country up to the proper standard of technical education; and the proper standard of technical education for this country is a standard as good as that in any other country in the world. I completed that survey and I told the local authorities, with the authority of the Government, that we were prepared to sanction schemes which would cost £12,000,000 in order to fill in the gaps which were revealed by that survey and to bring the facilities for technical education up to what I considered the right standard. I am afraid that the appeal we made to the local authorities and the money we placed at their disposal have not met with the response that I thought 2047 would certainly be forthcoming from the local authorities, who, I thought, would realise with me the overwhelming importance of the provision of education of that kind. I have no doubt that the President of the Board of Education will continue to urge them to complete a task which, although not dramatic, is one of the most important that can be undertaken for the future of industry in this country.
I hope that hon. Members will forgive me if in my remarks this evening I address myself almost entirely to the question of trade. I feel like apologising for mentioning trade, because we have had so many speeches this evening on a higher plane. All the interesting suggestions that were made, questions of pensions, increased benefit, of labour camps, training for the unemployed and technical education, are out of proportion unless you put them against the background of trade. Do not let us pretend. The things that we are discussing are important, are essential, to deal with the hard cores that that left, but the background of employment must always be normal trade. Everything else that we want, all our plans for better and longer education, for better pensions, for improved social conditions, for amenities, depend in the long run upon trade. Therefore, of course, although I quite agree that an increase in trade itself may leave the corners untouched and difficulties still to be faced, you cannot sweep out those corners or deal with those difficulties except on the solid basis of trade.
We are running the risk of the normal accusation of complacency against anyone who tries to present not only the black, but the brighter side, of any problem. While not minimising the problems or trying to detract from their difficulty or urgency, I suggest that it is no good exaggerating the defects or the difficulties of the moment. Not only is it not any good, but it is actually harmful, because there are the psychological as well as the purely economic elements about trade. The right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate gave the impression that the whole country during the last year had become sunk into poverty. The hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) mentioned that at the end of 1937 in the Debate on unemployment, when he had predicted for 2048 the year 1938 most gloomy consequences, I told him that he was too pessimistic about it. I, too, should like to quote to the House, not the prophecy I made at the end of 1937, but the review that somebody else made at the end of 1938. The statement begins:What is the best news about the British people in the year 1938? The answer is easy. The best news is that during the year the material standard of life rose. Poverty, the foremost public enemy, was forced to give more ground.In order that there may be no doubt as to the authority of that, it comes from a leader in the "Daily Herald." It goes on to give the credit to the trade unions. I do not mind to whom the credit is given. We ail have our own opinions; I am quoting this about the facts. It goes on to say:The cumulative gains in wages have established new records. The total paid in wages this year was certainly more than £60,000,000 higher than in 1936. That money has meant a lot in solid human happiness. It has paid for holidays and for more and better food, and for new clothes and for that extra bit of schooling. It has lifted the lines of anxiety from many a housewife's brow, and solved the puzzles of many a father.I put that against the authority of the right hon. Gentleman. What are the facts of the course of trade during the past year? I have never denied that in the autumn of 1937 there was the beginning of a recession in this country. I think the causes of are not obscure. It arose from conditions in America, and from the consequent fall in commodity prices, which affected international trade, and naturally had its results here. But I think it is not sufficiently realised here that this latest recession in America, the one that began in the autumn of 1937, was just as severe in its extent as the depression during the great slump—that, in fact, their unemployment rose to higher figures than they had known in the original great slump; and it is interesting to note that, in comparison with the depths of the depression which the United States suffered at the beginning of last year, the recession in this country, as hon. Members opposite will agree, has not compared in severity or extent with the depression of 1929–31 [Interruption.] It was, I think, in consequence of three deflationary factors all happening to coincide. [Interruption.] I could perfectly easily answer these questions. but I have a great deal to get through, and 2049 should like to be able to present a considered argument. I will not weary the House with statistics of the course of trade for the past year, but let me put this general proposition, which I do not think anyone will dispute, that, after a considerable, but not extreme, recession of trade at the beginning of the year, the curve in the summer flattened out, and from that time it has either been steady or shown a slight tendency to rise.
Before I go on to discuss the future of trade and the problems that we have to meet in general, I should like to say a word or two about three particular industries to which references have been made in the Debate. With regard, first, to the cotton industry, last year, of course, was a disastrous year for cotton. The fall in the value of our exports of cotton piece goods was, I think, something over 27 per cent., but it is interesting to know that the fall in the value of the exports of our principal competitors, the Japanese, was as much as 30 per cent. Therefore, to a considerable extent, it was a world, and not a national, cause which affected our cotton export trade. But, from the fact that that fall in commodity prices obviously hits first the consumers of cotton goods, who are largely the producers of primary commodities, that factor, which affects all the world, creates for us special difficulties.
The House is aware that at this moment the cotton industry is engaged in taking a ballot on what is known as the Cotton Enabling Bill. I should like to explain the Government's attitude and my attitude on that Bill. We have already stated in public that, with the support of the majority of the industry, we shall introduce this Bill and ask Parliament to pass it. I want to make quite plain why we have adopted that attitude. There has been no question of our trying to shelve our responsibility, and leaving the decision to the industry and not to the Government. This is an enabling Bill. The Bill itself, when passed into law, does practically nothing. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman said, "It was never intended to." I cannot think why, in that case, he has come to me on several deputations, accompanied by members of his union, asking me to do what I could about the Bill.
§ Mr. Tomlinson
I would like the Minister to understand that I did not interject, and that I do not hold that opinion.
§ Mr. Stanley
I apologise to the hon. Member. I heard somebody say, "It was never intended to." I can only assure him that it is intended to do something. But it is an enabling Bill. What its result depends on is the schemes afterwards passed by the industry, within the scope of the Bill. Therefore, unless the industry is in support of the Bill and is prepared to support whatever is done under the Bill, it would be wrong to ask the House of Commons to waste time in passing it. But I am, and always have been, in favour of a Bill of this kind for the cotton industry of Lancashire. A long time before there was talk of this Bill or before there was a Joint Committee, I said that one of the principal things needed for Lancashire was not the protection of the minority but the protection of the majority. I hope that Lancashire, with its great problems to face, will see the wisdom of a Bill of this kind, which will enable that amount of reorganisation to be carried out which alone will enable the industry to keep, and indeed recapture, its share of the market.
With regard to what we have done in trade agreements, I have, during the time I have been at the Board of Trade, negotiated only one, that is, the American Trade Treaty. That trade treaty, in regard to cotton, linen and wool, secured the greatest benefit of any of the trade agreements. Then there is the negotiation with India. I wish that that negotiation could have been ended earlier, but it must be concluded within a few weeks, because by April the present agreement must lapse. His Majesty's Government have always made it clear that they would not be prepared to sign any agreement which did not make some satisfactory arrangement for the future of the Lancashire cotton industry. Another matter to which the Government attach some importance is the formula of "spun woven and finished" in the Argentine. That has been the subject of long negotiations between the two Governments. I heard only to-day that the Argentine Government have agreed now to that formula and that a decree to that effect has been issued and signed to-day.
2051 I would now say a word about shipping and shipbuilding. We have to look at the question of shipping not only from the point of view of economics, of employment, of profits, of exchange, important as all these things are, but we have to look at it from the point of view of security as well. It is because of that, and for no other reason, that the Government have to consider this as a matter of great urgency. The present condition of shipping is not as bad and as acute as it was in 1934, when the previous shipping subsidy was introduced. Even the shipowners who came on a deputation to place their case before me put it in this way, that, whereas in 1934 they were faced with imminent collapse, they are faced after the prosperity of 1937 with a grave setback which leaves the industry unprofitable to-day, and which promises, if nothing is done, to lead to a gradual and, of course, in the end, an accelerating decline in the industry.
§ Mr. Stanley
I am talking about the shipping industry at the moment, and not shipbuilding. The industry has suggested to me certain remedies and the Government are now considering them. We are pressing on with it as a matter of urgency. At present there are many different problems and many points of view have to be taken into consideration. It was only this morning that I received a deputation from the unions concerned, and I think that they are just as entitled to have their point of view taken into account as that of the owners. It is a matter of extreme urgency, and we wish to announce our decision as soon as we can. I should like to add one comment. It is not only upon the Royal Navy which has turned this country from an island into an Empire; it is upon the merchant fleet as well.
We have seen in the course of our economic history a great many industrial changes—the disappearance of the iron and steel industry in Sussex, the wool industry of Norfolk, and a great part of the tin industry of the West country, and we have been able to survive them all. But there is one great industrial change in this country which I think we could never survive, and that is the decline and disappearance of our merchant shipping. 2052 As regards shipbuilding there again the position has been, since the autumn of 1937, disastrous. It is not only due to subsidised competition in foreign countries, because the state of the shipbuilding yards in a comparison between ourselves and Germany, is no worse than it is between ourselves and Sweden, where no subsidies at all are paid. I think this is a case where the expenditure on our rearmament, though it may put people in work in one place, does have the effect of putting people out of work in another. Undoubtedly one of the major causes has been the rise caused by the rearmament programme which has put our costs out of line with continental costs. If you can do something for shipping, then shipbuilding automatically in course of time will come right too. [An HON. MEMBER: "Free Trade!"] That would be all right if you could afford to wait, hut although the Government are concerned with the questions of unemployment and financial loss in shipbuilding, they are also concerned at the loss of security which comes from this great decline in our shipbuilding and at the potential loss, therefore, of the skill of the shipbuilders.
Therefore, the securing of a ship almost immediately is worth two or three ships five or 10 years hence. This aspect of the situation has to be considered in solving a very difficult problem. You have at the same time to consider the question of the reserve of tonnage. From the point of view of security, if you build one ship and as you build it you scrap another, although you have modernised your fleet, the net gain of tonnage is practically nil, so the net gain in security is diminutive. Therefore, consideration of the problem must include the question of a reserve of tonnage which would not be used for ordinary economic purposes but would be there in the case of emergency. If in 1934, when we were concerned with plain economics, the motto was "scrap and build," to-day, when we are concerned with security, the motto is "lay-up and build."
I shall devote the remainder of my time to the more general questions of trade. I am not going to deal to any extent with the home market, because, on the whole, it is not the home market—
§ Mr. Shinwell
We have been very patient with the right hon. Gentleman, 2053 but I should like him to answer several of the questions which I put to him. I asked what the Government intend to do about shipping and ship-building, coal and other industries. He has analysed the position very cleverly, and I take no exception to what he has said, but what are the Government going to do about it?
§ Mr. Stanley
I have already told the House, not only to-day but in answer to questions, that we are going to make an announcement as soon as this very difficult problem has been thoroughly examined and decided. The hon. Member himself was to have come on a deputation to me this morning, representing the trades unions. Would he have liked to think that I had come to a decision on the shipping and ship-building question before I had met that deputation from the trades unions?
§ Mr. Shinwell
Let me inform the right hon. Gentleman that we were asked almost at the last moment to come on this deputation, although it was not a matter which directly affected hon. Members on this side of the House; but over and above all that, the right hon. Gentleman has had submissions made to him for a long time on these subjects, and he has taken no positive action.
§ Mr. Stanley
I will leave the matter there. Those hon. Members who have some idea of the complexity of these problems will gather from what I have said to-night that the Government are treating this matter earnestly and urgently, and a decision will be announced at the earliest possible moment. I shall, I am afraid, have to curtail the remarks that I was going to make on some of the more general trade problems. I shall not say very much about the home market, because the home market has not experienced the same difficulties in the past year that we have had in the export market. It is, above all, in the export market that we can see the causes of the recession in trade and the increase of unemployment.
I would, however, point out in regard to the home market, that the White Paper shows that we are going to spend this year another £175,000,000 upon defence. That in itself will be important in the ultimate result by the indirect good it brings. Expenditure on defence is not, of course, of the same value as expenditure on those public works which have been pressed from all sides of the House many times 2054 in the past and in the present, but in the immediate future the effect on employment and the circulation of money by people being put into work is exactly the same. It seems to me that those who believe in public works as a solution of the unemployment problem are here in somewhat of a dilemma. We propose to spend this year another £175,000,000. I think that in the Yellow Book, which was principally initiated by the father of the hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) the sum suggested for dealing with unemployment was £100,000,000. The Labour party when they were in power initiated schemes, to be completed in something like four years, at a total cost of £192,000,000. We propose to spend this £175,000,000 in one year. According to the calculation that was made in connection with the Yellow Book, the expenditure of £1,000,000 would put 4,000 people into work for a year. Therefore, an expenditure of £175,000,000, on that calculation, is going to put into work this year something like 700,000 people.
I want to devote the remainder of my time to the question of the export trade, because there I believe lies the greater part of our present difficulties and there, I believe, lies the greater part of our hope for the future. If we can hold and increase our export trade during the coming year, when at the same time we have this expenditure at home, we can, I believe, make effective inroads on the number of the unemployed. But it is idle to contend that I or anybody else can at the present moment present a ready-made solution for every aspect of our export trade. We are faced with great new problems and the solutions we have to make are largely experimental. Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War said:This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.The problem before us to-day is whether the economic world can survive with half the nations operating on a rather diluted liberal economy and half of them operating on a closed economy. We in this country believe that the continuance of our export trade lies in a free economy which we want to make safe; other countries, equally sincere, believe that the benefit to them lies in a closed economy, and they also want to make it safe. We have to try and find some way of adapt- 2055 ing our system to both these types. Let me first deal with the free economy countries. We have pursued in the past and shall in the future what is the easiest way of having an increase in trade, and that is the method of bilateral treaties. There are some interesting figures for last year as to the value of bilateral treaties. During last year, a year of falling exports, our exports to Empire countries fell by 6.7 per cent., our exports to trade treaty countries by 9.3 per cent., and our exports to all other countries fell by no less than 20.1 per cent. It shows that in a time of recession of trade our export trade to Empire countries through the Ottawa agreements and to those countries where we have trade agreements, stands up much better than our export trade does to those countries with whom we have no trade agreement.
The right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) wishes us to put into effect the van Zeeland Report. I should like to see it done, but only when the circumstances of the world are such as to give it an opportunity of success, and looking round the world to-day I cannot believe, nor would the author of the report himself believe, that conditions are such that a calling of a world conference to discuss a general lowering of tariffs would have any chance of achieving any result but an ignominious and disastrous failure.
A word about the effect of totalitarian economies on our markets and trade. It is clear that with your closed economy States, your totalitarian States, the method of tariff bargaining is useless. You gain absolutely nothing in a treaty which gives you a reduction of tariffs. When one of these closed economy countries can manipulate the exchanges, its quotas and licences, the whole benefit of tariff reduction can be rendered nugatory. That is the result on their markets of bilateral treaties. In neutral markets it is a fact that by their system they can put the whole power, not only of any particular industry but the whole power, of the State behind any one article of export and push it into any one market. It is not so much what they have done, because in the past year German exports, for instance, have fallen by exactly the same percentage as ours. It 2056 is not what they have done but what they could obviously do if they used this weapon capriciously, recklessly and extravagantly. It is the feeling that, without safeguards, any industrialist might wake up and find his particular market ruined for him overnight that makes people here so alarmed about the possibilities of this new totalitarian competition.
§ Mr. Stanley
I was asked about shipping, on which I have spoken, and about cotton, on which I have spoken, and and about the coal agreement with Germany, to which I am coming.
§ Mr. Greenwood
It is perfectly simple. I asked two straight questions. Does the Government mean to do anything to ameliorate the lot of the unemployed now, and have they any plans for getting these people into work?
§ Mr. Stanley
The House will realise that the discussion on trade and what we can do for its assistance is the answer. The hon. Gentleman says we want a trade war. We do not want a trade war. What we want is, as he said, agreement. We want to find out if it is possible for our economy to find a modus vivendi with these totalitarian States or whether we can do nothing but fight them with their own weapons. We want an agreement which will give them and us a fair share of markets, which is what the hon. Gentleman wanted to see done. We are going to try to negotiate this agreement because it will help us, but we believe it will help Germany, too. We do not believe that undercutting will be of benefit to either side. The negotiations will be difficult and lengthy. It cannot be solved by sweeping formulae. It is a matter for consideration by every individual interest, but I do not despair of success. The Anglo-German coal—not agreement but reconciliation of views, because an agreement, when come to, must embrace all coal producers—that amount of agreement between them is a measure of the possibility of the success of this method and, if it succeeds in this instance, it may lead us to a new technique.
So far I have dealt only with the question how we can get our fair share of trade. That is an important question, 2057 but there is a more important one still, and that is how big is going to be the cake that we are going to share. I have often heard speeches in the House complaining about the barriers to trade of tariffs, quotas, and restrictions of one kind and another. To-day, there is one barrier which overtops all others, and that is the fear of war. One can surmount a tariff, one can adapt oneself to a quota, but the fear of war, acting upon the human brain and human energy, lays its paralysing hand upon the whole of business activity. I believe that this country has got rid of the economic maladjustments of the end of 1937 and the beginning of last year, and is ready for a real move forward. It is largely the existing tension which keeps it in check.
§ Mr. Stanley
I must observe that speakers from the Front Bench opposite were treated all the time with the greatest courtesy by hon. Members on this side. I believe that the whole country is ready for a move forward if this tension could be removed. Now, there are countries which we hear vociferously complaining that the hardships, sacrifices and poverty in their countries are all caused by economic encirclement of them, by their lack of colonies or by their shortage of raw materials, and because of that they make demands and state requirements. I venture to say that if all those countries' demands were granted, and if they got from the granting of those demands all that they expect, they would do less to add to the wealth, happiness and pros-
§ perity of their people than they would do if they did what they could do by a single stroke of the pen, and that is to help to remove the tension which they have helped to create. I believe that in these dark days it may be foolish to be optimistic, and certainly it is dangerous to be a prophet, and it may be disastrous to be both; but certainly, during the last few weeks, there has been a general feeling of a lightening of the tension, a feeling which has been reflected almost instantaneously in the reports I get from the various business centres. It may be optimistic to prophesy what solid basis that feeling has. I, for one, believe it has some solid basis. At any rate, I know it is our intention and desire to provide a solid basis for it. It is the Prime Minister's life work, and for that reason, if for no other, I ask the House to support the Government by rejecting this Motion.
§ Mr. Attlee
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he read the Motion? He has not addressed himself in the slightest degree to the Motion of Censure, but has merely given an academic essay, ending with a talk on foreign affairs.
That this House deplores the fact that over two million persons are workless, views with grave concern the evidence of widespread and serious malnutrition, is of opinion that an immediate improvement in their standard of maintenance is urgently necessary, and regrets the continued failure of His Majesty's Government either to produce definite plans for the provision of work and wages under the present system or to initiate a policy which recognises that the problem can only be solved by the application of Socialist principles.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 146; Noes, 344.2061
|Division No. 37.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Cape, T.||Frankel, D.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Cassells, T.||Gallacher, W.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Charleton, H. C.||Gardner, B. W.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Chater, D.||Gibbins, J.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Cluse, W. S.||Gibson, R. (Greenook)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Cooks, F. S.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)|
|Banfield, J. W.||Collindridge, F.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Cove, W. G.||Grenfell, D. R.|
|Barr, J.||Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)|
|Bartlett, C. V. O.||Daggar, G.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)|
|Batey, J.||Dalton, H.||Graves, T. E.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Hall, G, H. (Aberdare)|
|Benson, G.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hardie, Agnes|
|Bevan, A.||Day, H.||Hayday, A.|
|Broad, F. A.||Dobbie, W.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)|
|Bromfield, W.||Dunn, E. (Ruther Valley)||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Ede, J. C||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)|
|Buchanan, G.||Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Hicks, E. G.|
|Burke, W. A.||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)|
|Hollins, A.||Maxton, J.||Stephen, C.|
|Hopkin, D.||Messer, F.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Jagger, J.||Milnar, Major J.||Stokes, R. R.|
|Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Montague, F.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncaster)||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|John, W.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Thorne, W.|
|Jones, J. J. (Silvertown)||Nathan, Colonel H. L.||Thurtle, E.|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Kirby, B. V.||Oliver, G. H.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Kirkwood, D.||Parkinson. J. A.||Viant, S. P.|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Pearson, A.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Lathan, G.||Poole, C. C.||Walker, J.|
|Lawson, J. J.||Price, M. P.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Leach, W.||Pritt, D. N.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Leonard, W.||Quibell, D. J. K.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Leslie, J. R.||Ritson, J.||Westwood, J.|
|Logan, D. G.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Lunn, W.||Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Sanders, W. S.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmors)|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Sexton. T. M.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|McGhee, H. G.||Shinwell, E.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|MacLaren, A.||Silkin, L.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Maclean, N.||Silverman, S. S.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|MacNeill Weir, L.||Simpson, F. B.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Marklew, E.||Smith, E. (Stoke)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Marshall, F.||Smith, T. (Normanton)||Sir Charles Edwards and|
|Mathers, G.||Sorensen, R. W.||Mr. Paling.|
|Acland-Troyts, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Channon, H.||Entwistle, Sir C. F.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Errington, E.|
|Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W.||Chorlton, A. E. L.||Erskine-Hill, A. G.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Christie, J. A.||Everard, Sir William Lindsay|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Fildes, Sir H.|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Sc'h Univ's)||Clarry, Sir Reginald||Findlay, Sir E.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Fleming, E. L.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Fox, Sir G. W. G.|
|Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Coltox, Major W P.||Fremantle, Sir F. E.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Colman, N. C. D.||Furness, S. N.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Colville, Rt. Hon. John||Fyfe, D. P. M.|
|Balniel, Lord||Conant, Captain R. J. E.||Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk N.)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.|
|Barrie, Sir C. C.||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Gledhill, G.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (Wst'r S, G'gs)||Gluckstein, L. H.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Cox, H. B. Trevor||Goldie, N. B.|
|Belt, Sir A. L.||Critchley, A.||Gower, Sir R. V.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N.||Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)|
|Barneys, R. H.||Crooke, Sir J. Smedley||Grant-Ferris, R.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Granville, E. L.|
|Blaker, Sir R.||Crossley, A, C.||Greene, W. P. C (Worcester)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Crowder, J. F. E.||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Cruddas, Col. B.||Gridley, Sir A. B.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Davidson, Viscountess||Grigg, Sir E. W. M.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeevil)||Grimston, R. V.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Davison, Sir W. H.||Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake)|
|Bracken, B.||De Chair. S. S.||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||De la Bère, R.||Guinness, T. L. E. B.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hambro, A. V.|
|Broadbridge, Sir G. T.||Denville, Alfred||Hammersley, S. S.|
|Brooklebank, Sir Edmund||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Hannah, I. C.|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.)||Dodd, J. S.||Harbord, A.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Doland, G. F.||Harvey, Sir G,|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Donner, P. W.||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)|
|Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Dorman-Smith, Maj. Rt. Hit. Sir R. H.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)|
|Bull, B. B.||Dower, Lieut.-Col. A. V. G.||Hailgers, Captain F. F. A.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Drewe, C.||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.|
|Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.||Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-|
|Butcher, H. W.||Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Hepworth, J.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A.||Duggan, H. J.||Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)|
|Caine, G. R. Hall.||Duncan, J. A. L.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Dunglass, Lord||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Eastwood, J. F.||Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Holdsworth, H.|
|Cery, R. A.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Holmes, J. S.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Ellis, Sir G.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Hopkinson, A.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Emery, J. F.||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lf'st)|
|Hudson, Rt. Hon, R. S. (Southport)||Moreing, A. C.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Hulbert, N. J.||Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwish)|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry||Smith, Sir Louis (Hallam)|
|Hunloke, H. P.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Hunter, T.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirenester)||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald|
|Hurd, Sir P. A.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hutchinson, G. C.||Munro, P.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.||Nall, Sir J.||Spears, Brigadier-General E L.|
|James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Spens. W. P.|
|Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Nicholson, G. (Farnham)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|Joel, D. J. B.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Stewart, William J. (Belfast, S.)|
|Jones, L. (Swansea W.)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Storey, S.|
|Keeling, E. H.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Palmer, G. E. H.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Peake, O.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Kimball, L.||Petherick, M.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Lambert. Rt. Hon. G.||Pilkington, R.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Lancaster, Captain C. G.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Latham, Sir P.||Porritt, R. W.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Lees-Jones, J.||Procter, Major H. A.||Thomas, J. P. L.|
|Leech, Sir J. W.||Radford, E. A.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Leigh, Sir J.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||Titchfteld, Marquess of|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Ramsbotham, H.||Touche, G. C.|
|Levy, T.||Ramsden, Sir E.||Train, Sir J.|
|Lewis, O||Rankin, Sir R.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Liddall, W. S.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmln)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Lipson, D. L.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Turton, R. H.|
|Little, Sir E. Graham-||Rayner, Major R. H.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Llewellin, Colonel J. J,||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Lloyd, G. W.||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Reid, Captain A. Cunningham||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Loftus. P. C.||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Mabane, W. (Huddersfteld)||Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)||Warrander, Sir V.|
|MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|M'Connell, Sir J.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)||Watt, Major G. S. Harvie|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Rosbotham, Sir T.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|McKie, J. H.||Rowlands, G.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Macnamara, Lieut.-Colonel J. R. J.||Ruggies-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Magnay, T.||Russell, Sir Alexander||Willoughby de Eregby, Lord|
|Maitland, Sir Adam||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Salmon, Sir I.||Wise, A. R.|
|Markham, S. F.||Salt, E. W.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Marsden, Commander A.||Samuel, M. R. A.||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.||Sandeman, Sir N. S.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Maxwell, Hon. S. A.||Sandys, E. D.||Wragg, H.|
|Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Medlicott, F.||Scott, Lord William||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitoham)||Selley, H. R.|
|Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Shakespeare, G. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)||Captain Margesson and|
|Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Shepperson, Sir E. W.||Lieut.-Colonel Kerr.|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Simmonds, O. E.|