§ 7.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Emery
I beg to move,That, whilst recognising the value of the efforts of the Government to stimulate industry and find employment, this House is of opinion that there is urgent necessity for an immediate development of practical and constructive proposals towards the co-ordination of man-power and industrial policy in order to assist in the proper distribution of employment and to ensure employment to able-bodied unemployed workers.The Debate of last week confirmed, if any confirmation were necessary, the opinion that the problem of the unemployed, particularly at a time when so much national work is being done, was a matter of great concern to all sections of the House. I feel that the Debate last week did some good. Many admirable speeches were made, and many constructive proposals put forward. But in bringing this Motion forward to-night, I hope the House will not regard the time as wasted, but will look upon it more as an indication of persistence in dealing with a question which is itself persistent. If we can commence at the point where we left off last time, we may make some progress. I am of opinion that a complete remedy for unemployment cannot be found by the adoption of any of the many schemes which were referred to by Members last week. It can be found only by tackling the root cause of our loss, of trade, and by a far more comprehensive outlook, examination of our industrial position and co-ordination of all the forces, industry, agriculture and finance, which go to make up our national economic strength. May I say, as regards the Amendment which has been tabled by the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald), that any of the suggestions which I shall make are subject to the maintenance of the voluntary principle and the observation of trade union rates and conditions. I do not propose to cover quite the same angle as was touched upon previously, but to try to open up an avenue which might afford an opportunity for constructive suggestions for the solution of this problem, 464 which I believe is the concern of every Member of this House, irrespective of his political opinion.
Most people will have been impressed by the speech of the Minister of Labour last week, in which he set out in some detail the efforts which the Government had made and were still making to maintain and stimulate industry at such a level as would keep most of our men employed. No one, on this side at least, would be little those efforts, because without them it is apparent that the number of men unemployed would be considerably greater than it is. I agree that to speak of 2,000,000 unemployed does not give a fair picture of the situation. There always has been, and always will be under the present insurance system, a large, fluctuating number of men and women passing from work to work who merely register for unemployment benefit. It is the other case, of people who have been out of work for six months or more, with which we are primarily concerned. It is this number which should tax our minds in the effort to discover first the cause of industry's inability to absorb that man-power.
Most of us will agree that the only place for the workless in this country is in the ranks of industry, and that industry should function to its fullest degree, with as little assistance as possible from the Government in the way of subsidies, because it is only in proportion as industry so operates that we can calculate the progress of our national wealth. If it were possible to state exactly the number of men and women employed on schemes directly financed by the Government, such as those in the Special Areas and in industries financed by subsidies, and the number employed through the acceleration of the rearmament programme, we should have the true perspective of the surplus of man-power to industry's requirements. That position would reveal the extent of our loss as a productive nation. I do not think that I should be wrong if I estimated the figure at 3,000,000. In addition, it must not be forgotten that there is another army of over 100,000 men who arc on the public assistance list, not being regarded as right to be included in the Ministry of Labour figures because they are not within the scope of the Unemployment Act. We must not forget, also, that there is another great block of black-coated 465 workers who are on neither of the lists, but are always oscillating between independence and charity, with a heroism which is none the less real because it is secret.
Therefore, the problem assumes its correct gigantic proportions when we take away the props which have been generously provided by the Government, a position which reveals the fact that our normal industrial requirements are capable of absorbing only something like 75 per cent. of our man-power, leaving a balance which must be the responsibility of the Government and which is being dealt with at the present time through a system of insurance benefit or by stimulating in various ways industries in certain areas. It is, however, the fact that this responsibility has not been tackled in a way that many of us think it ought to have been tackled by the Government, that is giving great cause of uneasiness on these benches, whose concern it is to maintain and strengthen the social system in which we live. In the present unhappy position it would be fatuous to deny that our present system reveals imperfections and weaknesses which must be remedied if the structure is not to crack or collapse under the strain, and if democracy is to maintain itself against its challengers.
I am not prepared to admit that we of this generation are incapable of solving this problem. It is a problem only as long as we allow it to remain so without facing it. I am confident that it can be removed, and by measures which will not involve any departure from the principles of democracy, but which would rather strengthen its ideals and realisations. What, then, should be our first step in this direction? As I have said, there can be no spectacular cure, such as putting the workers on to road-making, land drainage, and so on. On the contrary, while such schemes may have their place in the general plan, we must build an organisation stage by stage which will have some permanence in our system. First, it is necessary to strengthen and fortify the productive structure by all the force in our power, and enable it to absorb considerably more than the 75 per cent. which it is doing at the present time.
It is a truism that prophecy is dangerous, but surely it is not recklessness which in the face of these facts prompts 466 us to try to visualise and try to meet the exigencies of the future. If we take such a survey of the world situation to-day, what can we say is likely to happen within the bounds of reason? Peace, first of all, is admittedly the greatest blessing to mankind, and it is universally hoped that the persistence of the Government in seeking and fostering peace will be successful. Obviously, without peace the whole basis of our life, social, economic and political, is missing. Even if peace be only threatened, as we have seen, there is destroyed that confidence which is essential to the progress of industry and world trade. I believe we are in for a long period of peace, but I am not so optimistic in regard to the economic world. Signs are not wanting; in fact they are very much in evidence to-day, that events are shaping themselves which may make the world ring with the violence and strife of economic war.
The German Leader has said that Germany must export or die, and Germany and other nations are proving that by their actions. The same dictum applies to this country. It is not practical economics for any nation to go on selling abroad and never buying. Efforts to create a favourable balance of trade in one country must correspondingly produce an unfavourable balance in others. Those countries which are trying by heavily subsidising the manufacture of their goods are realising that, and that if it is persisted in, it must bring the fatal retaliation which in turn must have the effect of lowering the standard of living in all countries. With this realisation there must come the demand for a conference. While we hope that agreements may limit the strife I feel that we as a nation must organise to meet the intensification of the struggle to secure world trade in the next few years.
Compared with other nations, we are very strong in resources, particularly in finance, but finance is not the only factor in the struggle that is coming. In the organisation of man-power for the purposes of productive industry, and even for national necessities, we are a long way behind other countries, who will be our biggest competitors. Therefore, our first effort must be to prevent the wastage of man-power which is now taking place, and we must so organise that in combina- 467 tion with further rationalisation and reorganisation of some industries, particularly agriculture, we may be able to present a formidable front. The task, however, must be attempted on far more ambitious, energetic and stronger lines than ever before, finding a wider field for experiment and initiative and creating and using for the purpose of strengthening not only our industrial structure but the moral and physical well-being of the nation. The Government must play a leading part in this rejuvenation, and there is an equal responsibility resting upon the industrialists, and even upon the workers.
I do not want to be pessimistic. On the contrary, I have every faith in the ability of my own countrymen to meet successfully the challenge that is coming, but it means taking our coats off, and I mean that literally so far as the unemployed are concerned. It may even call for the adoption of many unorthodox methods by the Government in dealing with some industries and in the creation of others. Orthodoxy has been on trial for a long time, and it would be disastrous, owing to the character of the nations opposing us, if we were to allow our future policy to be determined by the needs of the less worthy or by the slowness of the lame.
One notes with some interest that steps are being taken in the directions I have indicated, and recently there appears to have been an awakening by our industrialists to the fact, as never before, that they are on trial against the new technique of the totalitarian countries. The Federation of British Industries are to consult with their German colleagues on international trade, and one welcomes a visit of the President of the Board of Trade to Germany for the purpose of trade talks. One also welcomes the opening up of negotiations with Russia for the same object. Such conferences will undoubtedly do some good. In another direction I observe that our Export Credits Guarantee Department are favouring the granting of loans or credits linked to exports, a procedure which is bound to be helpful, particularly if with it an organisationis created for the selling of the products of the borrowing country in the markets of the world.
It is in these directions and many others familiar to the House, that hope 468 lies in revising trade agreements, too, certain countries should definitely be told that in proportion as they buy from us will they be allowed to sell to us. In the opinion of many, much could be done by a re-examination of the Most-Favoured-Nation Clause. Our traders must also recognise the fact that some export markets have been lost and will never be regained, and that in some industries and enterprises we should be able to expand our output of many specialised goods. Take, for instance, the low level of motor car exports for a long time. The position is absurd, especially when we consider our skill in construction and our advantageous opportunities in the Empire markets. There are many other commodities where the high quality of British workmanship would sell them abroad. In our exports of electrical goods, one of the most rapidly growing trades, we are well behind other countries. We are also behind in general engineering, the chemical industry and others.
In spite of the trading methods of some countries in trying to wrest trade from us, much can be done by the industrialists to improve our position, and by enterprise in opening up new markets. In the home markets, too, there is great need for stimulating an industrial policy which to be effective must possess the essential elements of co-ordination. Sectional interests are rampant. Industries are working in separate compartments, without any great regard for one another. The manufacturer and the farmer, for example, very rarely, if ever, meet in conference. We need a policy that will reorientate itself to the home market, a policy that will carry the good will and interest of the industry in our immediate efforts to make all the necessary adjustments, and one that will regard as an essential and vital element in all its calculations the human side of the industrial problem, with its constantly increasing numbers of unemployed. That policy should pay special regard to the character and quantities of our imports, and should concentrate on the effort to check any undue increase. Agriculture looms largely in this respect, and we know that unemployment is not divorced from agriculture. I suggest that it is only when we feel satisfied that the industries have done everything they can in the markets of the world and in the home market that 469 the balance of unemployed labour should become the responsibility of the Government. When one reflects on the figures of our constantly declining exports and our constantly growing imports how can one be satisfied that industry is doing all that it can?
One objection to this proposal may be that ii such a reorganisation of industry were carried out we should still have the unemployed with us. I am prepared to admit that, but I suggest that the number would be nothing like it is at the present time. It is with that rest that I consider the Government should deal, upon far more organised, systematised and human lines than is the case at the present time, and on lines which will ensure work at wages instead of either public assistance or unemployment benefit. Sir George Gillett, Commissioner for the Special Areas of England and Wales, has drawn attention to the valuable services which district commissioners have rendered to local authorities. He says that while there was close contact with the areas they were able to co-ordinate the work of economic and social development much better than they would have been able to do bad they left the local authorities to approach the Government along orthodox channels.
I think that it is necessary that the whole country, and not the black spots only, be covered with this system of district commissions. It should be divided into areas, with selected men in control even with plenary powers if necessary, and it should have sub-divisions into regional districts in close contact with the Ministry of Labour, industrialists, local authorities and trade unions. The commissions would be able to survey the industrial prospects of each district and the position and types of labour available. They would also have a knowledge of the local schemes of work which were necessary. Such schemes might be those with which local authorities were not able to proceed normally, owing to capital cost, or be of an urgent character such as building air-raid precaution shelters and other defence necessities. The commissioners would extend the trading centres to cover all areas, and would introduce more instructional centres. Greater effect would also be secured in the juvenile centres if they were controlled by commissioners in conjunction with the local authorities. The whole 470 field of labour, juvenile, middle-aged, and of the older types, would come under this review. The commissioners would have powers to deal with the local situation, and surplus labour between the ages of 18 and 30 years which had been unemployed for six months or over would be put to work on local schemes.
I will not weary the House by going into the details of the schemes of work which offer themselves in every town in the country, but housing, land drainage, roads and many others have their worth and no one denies the necessity for them. Most of those activities we expect to be taken by normal industry. To attempt to accelerate them now would not only have a reaction but, I am afraid, would not even be considered as a cure in themselves for the unemployment position today. It is often overlooked that in many of the national schemes of work skilled and semi-skilled labour is necessary to a fairly high degree, and as those types of labour do not represent our trouble it is impossible to absorb unskilled labour on these schemes beyond the limit of skilled labour available. Consideration of these larger schemes of work must not be ruled out, but I would prefer that it took its proper place in the larger survey of the prospective work to be undertaken in conjunction with the general trend of industry over the next few years, to which matter I referred earlier.
By the contacts they would be able to create the commissioners should be able to form reliable forecasts of the activities and the output of the main industries. They would be able to say what industries were likely to progress and what were likely to dwindle and, in the latter case, they should have the power to regulate the new workers. They must be placed in the position of distributing employment between areas in a way that would cause as little hardship as possible to both sides, and they should have power also to allocate new industries to places where labour was available—or at least to make satisfactory arrangements for the transfer of the labour to the factories. Younger men must be trained and drafted into the more modern and progressive industries such as motor, civil electrical and aviation engineering. [An Hon. Member: "And mining."] I suggest that with such a field of opportunity we ought never to allow young men under the age of 30 years to be a charge on public funds.
471 At the end of the scale we should probably have a number of unemployed. I have already suggested that the commissioners should have power to put men between the ages of 18 and 31 years upon local schemes of work after the men's insurance benefits had been exhausted. They could etxend their work to other age categories, as other local schemes came forward and as finances were better.
There is hardly any limit to that class of work, if our towns are to be made healthier, happier and brighter than they are to-day. I know that the Government are doing a great deal at the present time in this respect. I feel that they are doing too much, so far as they are accepting a load which could be eased by the industrial structure if all essential factors were brought into harmony. I feel confident that if our industries were to get down to this job, the expenditure on the nation's surplus labour would not throw too heavy a burden upon the common finances of the country.
It may be thought that all I have said is in the academic strain and that any possibility of so increasing employment as to absorb the larger part of the unemployed through industrial channels, is purely idealistic; all I can say is that I have at least given my opinion and that it is my effort to face a situation which cannot be allowed to continue. It may be said also that any scheme for the reorganisation of industry may lead to further displacement of labour, but if that happened it would, I am convinced, be only temporary and until the new technique of economic planning could apply itself to the fresh setting which would be created. The fact that wages have increased in the last five years by almost £100,000,000 a year is due to the great extent of the rationalisations which have already taken place and is proof that if more were done in that direction the result would be good.
I am conscious that the suggestions I have made may be said to touch only the fringe of the forces which would be involved in such a national rejuvenation. For instance, I have not dealt at all with the need for a policy of cheap and abundant money or with the necessity of a monetary policy which would stabilise the purchasing of money. Both of them are vital factors in the co-ordination of 472 our national forces, but time does not permit me to go into detail on those aspects. Unemployment is admittedly a disease of our social system and we can effectively deal with it only by treating the whole body, economic and politic, and not by any method of palliatives or soothing syrup. I am confident that a cure can be effected. That cure may be unpalatable to certain interests, but, failing its application, we stand to be judged as failures in the art of good government.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Lees-Jones
I beg to second the Motion.
May I at the same time express our thanks to my hon. Friend for giving us another opportunity of discussing the question of unemployment, after the Debate we had last week. This Motion is likely to give rise to concrete suggestions—I will not say to cure but at any rate to alleviate unemployment, and it makes the discussion somewhat different from that of last week. Last week's Debate served a most excellent purpose in bringing to light certain reasons for the high rate of unemployment to-day and enabling Ministers to state what the Government's long-term policy was and their method of carrying it out, but it must be appreciated that this programme will take a long time to bring any results.
We ought to turn our minds to steps which we can take immediately and which will come into operation and show results in a much smaller space of time, especially with regard to those men who have been unemployed for six months and over, and who are the chief people to whom my hon. Friend referred in his speech. Experience has taught us that there are certain industries where there is little or no unemployment and that there are those in which the degree of unemployment varies from a low figure to a high figure. It is the people who are unemployed in the latter class of industry to whom we ought to pay our particular attention. I do not refer to palliatives such as road-making, and anticipating work which we know will be done by local authorities at some time, because they are largely blind-alley occupations. Not every man who is thrown out of work is strong enough to do road work. I consider that our only hope is in training young fellows, some of whom have 473 not had an opportunity of working since they left school, and others who have been thrown out of work.
In the "Situations vacant" columns of our newspapers you will find numerous occupations for which hands are required, and it seems curious that we should have 2,000,000 people drawing out-of-work pay who are unable to turn their hands to the various jobs which they see in those daily papers. It occurs to me, therefore, that a lot of these young people ought to have an opportunity of being trained. It will cost a lot of money, but in spite of armaments and one thing and another, I do not consider that that fact ought to prevent us from spending it, and for these reasons. The taxpayer is complaining bitterly because he is spending a lot of money every year in providing out-of-work pay for many hundreds of thousands of unemployed. If training centres were opened, although they would cost a good deal of money the taxpayer would be getting a better return for it. More important still is the effect that it would have on the mind of the unemployed man. He feels it derogatory—and I quite appreciate his feelings—in having to queue up week after week for out-of-work pay. He is bound to some extent to lose his self-respect, but in being in a position to get a good job his self-respect would come back, and he would become physically fit. He feels—and I have spoken to many unemployed men—that he has no place in society at the moment. If he were given the opportunity of a job or of getting back to work, even if it was only to do some training for a job, he would feel that he was part and parcel of things in general.
Training centres are all right as far as they go, but they do not go far enough. Very many more are needed, and all areas in the Kingdom should be covered. I cannot see why an area which has, say, 1,000 unemployed men, should have any preference over an area which has, say, only 100 unemployed men. The 100 men have as much right to work and live as the 1,000 men, and if we are to place training centres in the areas where these 1,000 men are, why not provide training centres in places where the 100 men are? We should be overcoming a tremendous difficulty by doing so, in that the men themselves would not have far to go to their training. They would be 474 able to live at home among their own people.
I agree with my hon. Friend that more commissioners ought to be appointed. I appreciate that some of my views may seem revolutionary. Whether they are revolutionary or not, does not worry me in the slightest. All that I am thinking about is the welfare of the great proportion of these 2,000,000 people who are out of work and who ought to have work. There ought to be at least one commissioner appointed for each county who, in his turn, might have regional assistant commissioners, and who, in their turn, might have the assistance in various areas of that region of representative industrialists and trade unions as well. The training centres could, I believe, very quickly turn out semi-skilled men from the unskilled material entering these centres. I would stop unemployment relief entirely while the men were in the training centres and pay them instead a wage which would be agreed upon between the commissioner, the industrialists and the trade union representatives.
There are other methods, too numerous to mention, of finding useful work for these men, and among these I might mention the agricultural industry. I know from my own investigation that many farmers cannot put their farms to their full use, not that they have any fear of not being able to sell their produce, but because they cannot afford to pay the wages fixed under the Act which provides for minimum wages. I do not see why the farmers should not have their wages bill subsidised. I am aware, again, that that is in direct opposition to many of the things which I have been taught, and I appreciate that there may be other people who will say, "Why pick out farming? Why not turn to other industries?" Turn to as many industries as you will, if you can find men jobs, but I have mentioned agriculture purposely because it is one of the basic industries of this country. Everybody is shouting for more production at home and reduced imports of foodstuffs. There, I think, is an opportunity for utilising the farms to the fullest extent and of expanding the subsidising of wages to other industries if so desired.
I have been asked what I would do with the unskilled men. How would I find work for them? I consider seriously that the ranks of the unemployed might be 475 permanently lightened considerably if the major portion of the work that they could do could be reserved for them, instead of importing any unskilled labour, which in many cases works only sufficient long to qualify for unemployment pay and then leaves the job for others from the same quarter to come and take it up to the exclusion of our own people. I have not gone into great detail, but if the suggestions of my hon. Friend and myself are worth anything, it is not beyond the wit of the Minister of Labour and his staff to cut out the chaff and leave something which might be useful in relieving—I will not say curing—the unemployment problem.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Macdonald
I shall be expressing the opinion of the House if I extend to the Mover and Seconder of the Motion our sincere congratulations. They have stated in a moderate manner and with great lucidity and candour their reasons for moving the Motion. I do not know what were the feelings of other hon. Members when the hon. Member for West Salford (Mr. Emery) announced that he would call attention to unemployment. I had rather mixed feelings of admiration and sorrow for him. I admire the courage of a supporter of the Government in calling the attention of the Government to unemployment. I am sure he has not had too pleasant a time since, and no doubt the Chief Whip and other Members of the Government have been on to him for transgressing in this way and creating embarrassment for the Government. When I saw the Motion on the Order Paper I did not think it quite expressed the hon. Member's own feelings about unemployment. He and the Seconder of the Motion are Lancashire Members like myself, and there are very few Lancashire Members in any party who are satisfied with the policy of the Government in regard to unemployment. There may be some who are more satisfied than others, but Lancashire Members are dissatisfied.
I do not think that the first sentence of his Motion is the hon. Member's own: it has been suggested by somebody else. I do not think he wants to praise the Government for what they have been doing in the matter of unemployment; I am certain that if he had expressed his own feelings he would have condemned 476 them. He also suggested that he was in sympathy with the latter part, but he did not mention the first part of our Amendment on the Paper—in line 1, to leave out from "That," to "there," in line 2, and to insert:in the opinion of this House, subject to the maintenance of the voluntary principle and the observance of trade union rates and conditions.The hon. Member seems anxious to hand a bouquet to the Government and asks us to be thankful to the Government for the manner in which they have handled unemployment. That is asking too much. I heard the hon. Member for West Salford speak on the 1st of this month in support of our Motion dealing with public assistance, and it must be said for him that he was in the Lobby supporting his speech. He told us on that occasion that in Salford £30,000 a year went in supplementing old age pensions, equal to a rate of 6½d. in the £. I was not surprised to find him in the Lobby supporting our Motion. But in Lancashire we cannot feel grateful to this Government. The cotton industry has been neglected in a most disgraceful way. There have been references to it in every King's Speech for years, but very little has been done for the industry. In the last King's Speech there is this reference:The difficulties of the cotton industry are engaging the attention of my Ministers, and proposals which require legislation are before them.That was in November, 1938, and in February, 1939, the proposals are still before them. When the Prime Minister was asked whether he could undertake that they would be brought before the House before Easter he could give no such undertaking. The cotton industry has suffered more than any other industry in the country since the Government took office. Only last year the export of cotton piece-goods was £12,000,000 lower than the year before. In fact, the export of cotton piece-goods last year was almost identical in value and amount with the exports in the year of the great cotton famine 70 years ago. And yet we are asked to recognise the value of the efforts of this Government. It cannot be done as regards the cotton industry. If I turn to agriculture, the only difference I find is that agriculture has received more public money than the cotton industry. It has received scores if not hundreds of millions of pounds in the last 10 years, 477 and to-day there are fewer men working on the land than when the Government took office, and a much less acreage under cultivation. And we are asked to recognise the value of the Government's efforts.
I turn to shipping, building, and mining. It is claimed that the Government have done something for mining. What have they done? We have 60,000 fewer men in work to-day than when the Government took office, and were it not for the indirect result of the armaments programme; the mining industry would be in a very parlous position to-day. I do not think we ought to recognise the value of the efforts put forward by the Government to stimulate industry. It is difficult to assess the value, direct or indirect, of rearmament in finding employment, but if we could assess its value I think we should find that all that has been done has been to reduce the number of the unemployed. We are not prepared to agree that the Government arc to be complimented on their activities to deal with unemployment.
As to the second part of the Motion, I can hardly believe that the hon. Member for West Salford had anything to do with its drafting. I feel that it has been handed to him. It is the type of Motion which the hon. and gallant Member for Midlothian and Peebles, Southern (Captain Ramsay), or the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour in his more degenerate days would have introduced. It is typically Fascist in its way of dealing with the problem. It pays no regard to trade union rates of pay, and no regard to trade and conditions or to housing. It is the Hitler method of dealing with unemployment. I do not know whether the Parliamentary Secretary was consulted about the drafting beforehand. He has to reply and he may have had some idea of the terms of the Motion. We cannot agree to the latter part of the Motion. So far as the first sentence is concerned, it can remain there. I recognise the value of the Government's contribution as nil; indeed, it is something worse. I am not concerned about the first sentence, but I am about the second part, and that is the reason why I suggest we should insert something about trade union rates and conditions.
I was very pleased to hear the hon. Member for West Salford say that he was in sympathy with and was prepared 478 to accept that part of the Amendment; but when I listened to his constructive proposals, I was far from being satisfied, for if the Government adopted every suggestion that he made, the unemployment problem would still be very far from being solved. I maintain that we cannot deal effectively with the unemployment problem on the lines suggested by the hon. Member. I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. Lees-Jones) say that he has rot much patience with suggestions for making a road here or widening a road there, since that affords only temporary relief. I agree with the hon. Member. I remember that on the construction of the Liverpool-Manchester road, a fine piece of work costing some £3,000,000, quite a number of men were employed, but all those men are out of work row.
Such work alleviates the position, and when a job of that kind comes along, there is keen competition among the unemployed. If a vacancy is advertised, there are 100 or 200 applicants. But one cannot go on making roads for ever. I agree with the proposal contained in the Amendment on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. Herbert). The waterways of this country have been seriously neglected. In coming down from the North, one passes mile after mile of good canals now in disuse. The deepening and widening of those canals would be a good piece of public work, but it would not last very long, or employ many men. The beautifying of Britain is a job that ought to be done by this Government and by any Government, and something ought to be done immediately to remove the drab-ness from many of the industrial areas. But on those lines there is no solution of the unemployment problem; when all those things had been done, the real problem would still remain.
In winding up the Debate which took place last Thursday, my hon. Friend the Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) made a number of constructive proposals, and I do not see any hope of solving the problem of unemployment if those proposals are disregarded. What is the problem? I can speak for the mining industry, and other hon. Members can speak for other industries. In the mining industry, the problem is mechanisation. Work that was previously done by human 479 labour is now being done by machines. It has been said time and again in the House that for every thousand people who find work on the lines suggested by the Mover and Seconder of the Motion, several thousands are thrown out of work in the same period because of mechanisation. We can never catch up with mechanisation. The mechanisation of the mining industry has putout of work thousands of miners. I do not complain much about that, for I have a feeling that mining ought to be done by machines and not by men. I do not care how soon the day comes when men do not have to descend into the bowels of the earth and face the dangers and risks of mining.
But as soon as there is mechanisation, a problem is created, and that problem is how to deal with the displaced labour. The methods which hon. Members on this side advocate for dealing with that problem are not the same as those suggested by the hon. Members opposite. We have no objection to the work which they propose being done, for it is necessary work, but it deals with the problem only partially. Our method is different. If the number of workpeople required to work in an industry is reduced because of mechanisation, then the amount of work to be done by each worker ought to be reduced. The unemployment problem cannot be solved in any other way. Year in and year out we have suggested that method, and the Government, in their international policy at Geneva, have made it difficult, and in their home policy, they have hindered every effort that has been made in that direction. It is only on those lines that unemployment can be abolished.
Of course, I think that an effort should be made to restore the cotton industry in Lancashire. Greater exports of cotton would be a good thing for Lancashire, and a general improvement in the export trade would be a good thing; but let it be remembered that other countries also are trying to increase their exports. An economic war is going on. Herr Hitler is not the only person who says, "We must export or die." That is said in almost every country in the world. The economic war is going on, and only agreements can stop it. Trade rivalry and efforts to sell cheaper than other countries are hopeless. The Government 480 have not been too successful in international agreements with regard to trade and their efforts at Geneva have been very unsatisfactory. At the International Labour Office they have not done much to improve the atmosphere in the economic sphere.
I submit that, first of all, we must face the real cause of the trouble. It is that machinery is now doing work which formerly was done by human labour-That is the main cause of the trouble, as every hon. Member knows; and the only way of dealing with it is on the lines suggested by hon. Members on this side. I was very pleased to hear the Mover of the Motion say that the present social system is behind all the trouble. I agree with him. I should be surprised if any man from Lancashire disagreed. Lancashire has seen this to a greater extent than most counties, because Lancashire was an industrial county at a time when many counties that are now industrial were agricultural. However, the hon. Member did not suggest that this social system should be changed. He did not suggest that it should be abolished and replaced by a better system. He wants to keep this social system; he wants to go on trifling with the unemployment problem under this system. I suggest that if we insist upon trade union rates and conditions being observed in the case of the unemployed when they are found work under this system, we shall never solve the unemployment problem. I sometimes wonder whether people who support the present economic system dare to solve the unemployment problem. Let hon. Members imagine what would happen if there were more jobs than workers. If that were the position, the authority of the employers would disappear. I remember that during the War, when I worked in a colliery, there were more jobs vacant at the colliery than there were colliers in the neighbourhood. We had no difficulty in geting our rights then. After the War, I worked at the same colliery, but at that time there were more workers seeking jobs than there were jobs vacant, and we could not get our rights.
I am not sure that the supporters of the present economic system are anxious to have a situation in which there are more jobs than workers; for they know that their power in industry depends upon 481 there being more workers than there are jobs. Sometimes I suspect their willingness to solve the problem. If there is a willingness to solve it, I am convinced it can be solved. Hon. Members on these benches believe that it is essential to change the economic system. We are convinced that it is only by replacing the present system of production for private financial gain by a system of production for the national welfare that we shall be able finally to solve the unemployment problem. In the meantime, there are some things that ought to be done. There is a Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, and I wonder whether a similar office in the industrial and economic sphere would not be a good thing. I find support for that view from a rather unexpected quarter—an article in the "Daily Mail" written by a writer, who is well known, although not as an economist. I know him better as one who broadcasts very well on sporting events. His name is Howard Marshall, and he has a paragraph here which puts that point rather effectively:A national problem must be dealt with on a national basis instead of by commissioners with limited authority. We should have a Minister for national reconstruction, a Minister with Cabinet rank, who would co-ordinate the work of all departments, a man, I suggest, of the calibre of Sir John Reith"—he would, naturally, make that suggestion—who would take unemployment by the scruff of the neck and shake some sense into it. This implies national planning of industry which is the logical approach to a national problem. To deal sectionally with unemployment is manifestly absurd. To segregate the unemployed in Special Areas is psychologically and practically unsound. The whole country is a Special Area and upon this simple fact the attack must be based. A Minister for reconstruction—that is out first need. Let him crack the whip, democratically, of course, but with such vital force that this bogy will fade away before him.I think that suggestion is worthy of consideration by the Government. For them to deal with unemployment in the same way as they are dealing with the possibility of war would be very effective, and in my opinion we ought to have such a Minister with Cabinet rank. I find that another friend of mine, my hon. and Seamed Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) also rather expressed my own feelings on this question in the Debate on Thursday last. He put it this way: 482It is the wicked refusal of the Government to finance peace-time developments in our social services, with the adequate and necessary control; hat 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 run by Socialist methods."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1939; cols. 2030–31, Vol. 343.]I agree with my hon. and learned Friend in that statement. I think he puts the position quite clearly and I was very sorry that, having said that Socialism was the only hope of solving the problem, he then suggested that we might consider putting Socialism into cold storage for a while. That did not make very much appeal to me, and when he said that it was necessary to do this in order to enable certain democratically-minded people to support democracy, I was still more doubtful. What he conveyed to me was, that there were sections of people in this country who would prefer Facism without democracy to Socialism with democracy. I am not so sure that he is not light in that, but for myself I prefer not to put Socialism into cold storage. Since, as he says and as I agree, the only hope of solving the problem is Socialism, our clear duty is to stick to that policy. I beg to move the Amendment.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Dennis Herbert)
The hon. Member did not indicate at the beginning of his speech that he was moving the Amendment on the Paper, and I did not understand that he was doing so, but I must tell him that I do not select his Amendment at this stage of the Debate.
§ Mr. Lawson
May I ask, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, on what ground you refuse to select the Amendment since the Mover of the Motion has; agreed to accept it?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
There is absolute power in the Chair to decline to select Amendments and that without giving reasons. In this cast I had every intention of selecting this Amendment, but I gather that there is a general desire in the House to have a discussion on the Motion, and the Amendment would narrow the Debate very considerably if accepted now.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ M. Kingsley Griffith
I join in the congratulations which have been offered to the Mover and Seconder of the Motion. I liked particularly the way in which they faced the problem and did not try to mini- 483 mise it. We heard from the Minister of Labour the other day an analysis of the figures of unemployment which, I have no doubt, had a certain value, but which would seem to have had the object of trying to persuade the House that the unemployment problem was not really there or at any rate not in the measure in which we thought it to exist. I find the hon. Member for West Salford (Mr. Emery) referring to the inability of our industry at present to absorb more than 75 per cent. of the labour available. That is a very strong way of putting it, and the hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. Lees-Jones), who seconded, referred to 2,000,000 unemployed as the figure which we had to face. I am glad that the subject has been tackled in that way and that there is no pretension about it.
I find myself in considerable agreement with the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald), except in the specifically Socialist parts of his speech at the end, but I cannot blame him for having played his signature tune as the band faded out. I am prepared to do the same for myself at the beginning of my speech. That is to say, I am bound to regard the present employment situation as a very considerable condemnation of the Government's policy of tariffs. That is what people would expect me to emphasise and I do so. That is my signature tune. It is almost pathetic now to remember the extravagant promises that were made by certain of the more ardent advocates of tariffs, like the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) and others, about the tremendous revolution in the unemployment situation which would be brought about as soon as we abandoned the Free Trade system. This is not the occasion for an elaborate analysis of the position in that respect, but the keenest supporters of tariffs must be a little disappointed at the unemployment figures to-day after all these years in which they have had a free hand in the imposition of their favourite remedy.
I am not, however, asking or expecting the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, who will reply, to embark upon a disquisition and an argument about Free Trade and tariffs, any more than about capitalism and Socialism. I think it would be unreasonable to ask the Government on a Debate 484 like this, to abandon all the principles on which, after all, they were elected, and to adopt a completely different system. I think it is more practical to address oneself to-night to what the National Government, elected on the mandate which they received, can reasonably be expected to do. On those lines, I find myself, like the hon. Member for Ince, unable to subscribe to any very hearty congratulations on the value of the efforts of the Government to stimulate industry and find employment. To what do they amount? I have mentioned tariffs and their results. They would, I suppose, also point to the Special Areas Act. I am not denying that the provisions of that Act have had some value for the areas in which they operate. I live on the border of a Special Area and I am, at least, aware of how uncomfortable it may be to be just outside a Special Area, to get all the disadvantages belonging to a depressed area and to find special advantages being given to another area just over the border.
I say this in all seriousness. Let not the Government imagine that in the Special Areas legislation and the provisions made under it, they are increasing the net amount of employment. They are not doing so. They are just wheeling it about from one part of the country to another. That may be a valuable thing to do in certain circumstances. If you are considering the problem merely as one of location of industry, and if you say "London is too much populated," or "There are too many people in the Midlands; let us have more in South Wales and in Durham"—then, something might be done by the Special Areas Act to assist, in some small measure, in the redistribution of population. But most emphatically it is not a contribution to the total amount of employment. Let us suppose you start a new boot factory on a trading estate. That may be supplying a certain amount of labour in that district. It is probable that it will have an adverse effect, however, in some adjoining district, except under one condition, a condition of the very greatest importance. If, at the same time, you are so far increasing the purchasing power of the people as a whole that they can afford to buy more boots, then perhaps you can take up the production of the new factory without impairing the employment in the old one, but only upon that condition do 485 you produce any net increase in the total volume of employment.
The kind of thing that I have in mind —and I am not expecting the Parliamentary Secretary to deal in any detail with a point of which I have not been able to give him notice—is a particular new employment started in the North-East area. I am informed on the best authority that there is now being started at Hartlepool, by a Dutch firm, a new concrete factory with the special advantages that may be enjoyed in that area. Now there are already, I am told, 29 factories in that area working in the same line of business, and some of them, some which I specially have in mind, are in that Tees-side area, Middlesbrough and Stockton, which does not enjoy any of the adventages of the Special Areas, and they are therefore faced now with subsidised competition.
From my point of view, this is not a very satisfactory way of dealing with the problem. It is once again merely moving employment about, and it is moving it about actually inside the same area, where the unemployment conditions are substantially the same, and it is not even what the Minister of Labour originally intended when he started the Special Areas Act legislation. He intended, I imagine, from his own speeches, to start alternative light industries in districts which mainly depended on heavy industries. This is not anything of that kind: this is merely bringing one other competitor into an already overcrowded field. But once again I would say that if the Government had some programme on foot, some well-conceived programme worked out ahead, by which they knew that they were going to be able to absorb all the productive capacity of the 29 existing factories and of the new one as well, that would be an altogether different thing, and no one would find me objecting to it. But I see no such prospect at the present time, and although, as I say, I am not expecting the Parliamentary Secretary to deal with this to-night, perhaps he will allow me to send him the information that I have, in order that he may consider it. I mention it in the present Debate merely as an instance of the limitation of this kind of Special Areas Act legislation when you consider it as a means of actually producing a net increase of employment.
486 What are the other stimulants? There is the stimulant of armaments. I must refer here to a speech made by the President of the Board of Trade in winding up the Vote of Censure Debate the other night. It would be unreasonable to expect him to be here or; this occasion. I wanted to interrupt him when he was actually speaking, but as; his time was short, I did not think it fair to do so. He challenged my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) on the whole policy of spending money to increase employment. He went back to our 1929 programme, and he twitted my hon. and gallant Friend and said, "Well, your party was; then proposing an expenditure of only £200,000,000, and they expected that each million pounds would promote an employment of 4,000 men, on the average." Then he said, "Look at us. On armaments we are spending so much more than £200,000,000 that we must be doing very much better than you ever hoped to do." That sounds very reasonable on the face of it, as a matter of arithmetic, but there is an underlying fallacy, and that is, that when you are driven to put your main national effort into armanents—a most regrettable necessity, as I think everybody will agree —you have to face the consequence that, although you may be giving employment by every million pounds that you spend on armaments—and I am not denying that you do—the very causes that force you to build those armaments are undermining the confidence and the enterprise of all the rest of your industries. The result is that you are losing on the swings what you are making on the roundabouts the whole time.
Therefore, the employment that is provided by armaments is never to be regarded as a net gain in the employment of the country. It may even on the whole yield an adverse balance. I am bound to say that I like to seek comfort where I can, and the converse of that argument is this, that perhaps when our need for armaments passes, as I pray God it may, one need not necessarily anticipate that the whole of that surplus labour will be thrown on the market it once. One may have reason to hope that when that great burden is lifted, confidence may be restored so far that in a short time we may devote in more profitable directions what we are at present devoting to the purposes of destruction. That perhaps is 487 going rather farther into the future than any of us would care to do. I am not denying that as long as the armament process is continued, I shall be very glad to pluck out of "this nettle, danger" such employment at least as I can get out of it, and I am certain that a really comprehensive grasp of the needs of the safety preparations against air raids will and must lead, if it is undertaken in a sufficiently courageous spirit, to a very great deal of employment, employment of a mixed character, employment in the iron and steel trades, in concrete and other trades, and also to a great deal of unskilled labour in the actual preparatory work. [Interruption.] I believe that the miners are at least in this position, that generally any great increase in general activity is likely to be reflected in some degree in employment in the mining industry.
I am not as contemptuous as were the Seconder of the Motion and the hon. Member above the Gangway of expenditure of the type which they chose as an example, namely, expenditure on road construction. I think it is not altogether a satisfactory way of dismissing this kind of employment to say, "Oh, well, it employs a certain number of men, but when you have finished your roads, they are all out of work again." That kind of argument applies also to shipbuilding, for example. I always hear it said on Tees-side that the most melancholy day is the day when the ship is launched, because that means that the job is over. In jobs where you have a continual demand for a staple product which is immediately consumable, as, for example, foodstuffs, tobacco, beer, or anything of that kind, of which the consumption is pretty regular. you can depend on a regularity of employment, but there are other kinds of work, such as capital construction, the creation of machinery, the building of ships, roads, and things of that kind, in which you come to the end of one job necessarily, and you have to wait for another, but if trade is booming, you generally find it comes along.
I have mentioned ship construction, and I think that in any consideration of the prospects of employment the matter of the construction of tramp shipping should be taken most seriously into consideration. On this matter I am almost 488 prepared to say what, as a Liberal, I hate to say, that I hardly mind what it costs. The preservation of a sufficient shipping fleet to supply our most elemental needs is just as much a part of our armament preparations as anything that we can possibly do. The conditions at the present moment, as anybody who has studied the figures knows, is perfectly appalling. The amount of unemployment among boiler-makers and others who depend on that industry is shocking. They are skilled men, and if they are left out of work too long they will melt away as skilled labour does. This is a matter which should be taken most seriously into consideration. I need do no more than mention the question of the storage of pig iron, because the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Mr. Edwards) has made the subject peculiarly his own and he has mentioned the matter recently in the House.
All these things can be done. Beyond them the restoration of the export trade remains one of the main lines of approach. I agree with the necessity of concluding as many trade agreements as possible, and I think that the Washington Agreement is one of the best things the Government have done. There is one special point in the export trade which I should like to mention. I mentioned it to the Secretary for Overseas Trade when he was introducing the Export Credits Bill. It seems to me that in China, oppressed as that country is with many misfortunes, there is a great opportunity for the industry of this country. China, which has closed her ordinary avenues of trade communications to the east, is looking to the west. She has made a road in the direction of Burma and she plans a railway in that direction too. When I asked the Secretary for Overseas Trade whether under the export credits scheme credits could be made available without which, of course, no such work could be undertaken, he told me that he thought that operation was too large to be contemplated under the provisions of that measure and that it would require special legislation. He did not close the door in any way. He did not intimate that the Government had shut their minds against prospects of that kind. They would be very short-sighted if they did.
There we have an industrious nation. China contains a large proportion of the human race. The Chinese have suffered 489 conquest and misfortune again and again, but they have always come round. If they are looking in our direction, we should be ready, in their interests as well as our own, to answer the call. I believe that there are these practical things which may be done without in any way going against the principles held by hon. Members who sit on that side of the House. I offer them in a constructive spirit and I hope that we may get some response before the end of the Debate.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Hamilton Kerr
The hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. K. Griffith) referred to the importance of our export trade. Napoleon once called this country a nation of shop-keepers, and our strength to-day is as much as ever it was in our trade and industry. Therefore, we look with particular satisfaction to the fact that a Government mission is about to travel through Europe to obtain better trade facilities for our industries. I would like to devote my main argument to two points which the hon. Member for West Salford (Mr. Emery), in his admirable speech, laid before the House. He stressed the importance of the co-ordination of man-power and the distribution of employment. What is the essence of the problem of unemployment? It is the mal-adjustment of the labour force to changing conditions. The export trades, such as cotton and coal, have declined, while home trades, such as motor cars and artificial silk, have increased. Labour has moved from the north to the south and the Midlands, and new factories have arisen round the new centres of population. I am certain that the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Health and the Board of Trade have numberless statistics dealing with these facts. It would, therefore, be comparatively easy to co-ordinate these into a national survey.
If we have to tackle a problem like unemployment it is easier to look at the picture as a whole rather than in pieces. When we look at the picture as a whole we can lay our fingers on the bad spots and say that these are our immediate objective and the problems which we must sooner or later deal with. A national survey is all the more opportune in these days because the needs of national defence are altering day by day the entire national economy. The once defence against the bombing plane is dispersion. We have begun to realise this. We have 490 decided to move parts of Woolwich from their exposed position on the Thames estuary to Lancashire and South Wales. We are making plans to evacuate hundreds of thousands; of women and children from our great cities should war come. We are making plans to divert the vital food convoys to the western ports of England where they would be comparatively safe from the menace of air bombing. This policy of dispersion is bringing countless new problems in its train. Let me give an example from the last War. Six ships carrying 27,000 tens of cargo were diverted from London to Plymouth. To unload those ships in Plymouth took three weeks instead of the normal one week, owing to the lack of labour facilities, and that at a time when every ship which escaped the track o1 an enemy torpedo was of vital service to the Allies. Owing to lack of transport only 9,000 out of the 27,000 tons reached London. The rest was disposed of locally.
It has been calculated that if Bristol were to be a source of supply for London the Great Western Railway would at once have to increase its rolling-stock by 140 engines, by no fewer than 12,000 carriages, and by 1,200 insulated containers. If war broke out and convoys carrying foodstuffs for our civil population and raw material for oar industries were diverted at a minutes notice to western ports, much development work would have to be done there. There would have to be more warehouses, more docking space and more opportunities for transport. This development would give us a chance to employ many men in our building trades. Then there is the question of the defence of our great cities against air attack. If you fly over many of our great cities you will see beneath you row upon row of narrow streets where the houses are often built back to back. Imagine high explosives and incendiary bombs raining down on those crowded areas. Imagine ambulances and fire brigades attempting to reach their destinations, many of them in streets blocked by huge bomb craters and flooded by burst water mains. What a target for an enemy bomber; a bait box of helpless tortured humanity. I am told reliably that all German "owns are to be decentralised in the course of the next few years. The population of Berlin is about 4,000,000, and by 1950 it will have been reduced to 1,000,000. The Nazi autho- 491 rities are driving great thoroughfares through the crowded areas so that the traffic, even in the greatest emergency, will not be impeded. Factories are being decentralised, taken from the centre of the city, and set in open spaces and surrounded at suitable intervals by the living houses of the people engaged there.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I can see the relevancy of what the hon. Member is saying. But I think he is getting too much into details which are rather far from the subject in a short Debate.
§ Mr. Kerr
I was coming rapidly to my point, that these were vital objectives which should be carried out in the near future and would give employment to our people. I was coining to the suggestion that there is ample work in London in decentralising our various centres of production and, above all, in creating open spaces.
§ Mr. A. Edwards
As I shall probably not have an opportunity of intervening in this Debate I should like to draw the attention of the hon. Member to a reply given by the Minister of Transport to a question of mine in which I raised this very point, and he refused to take any action to dissuade the Port of London Authority from spending £10,000,000 upon extending their accommodation.
§ Mr. Kerr
I regret that I was not here to hear the answer of the Minister of Transport. I am trying to make the point, with which I think the hon. Member agrees, that it is necessary in the interests of public safety to create open spaces in our great towns, and that what is wise from the health point of view in time of peace is also wise from the safety point of view in time of war. There is also ample work for people such as builders temporarily thrown out of employment, to build highways leading out of London. If London is to be an efficient front line trench in the next war surely it is a vital necessity that its communications should remain unbroken. But we have allowed our great arterial highways, like the Great West Road, to be silted up with ribbon development and with factories as well. What will happen in war as a result? With convoys coming into London with food from the western ports, with lorries carrying out the women and children who 492 are being evacuated, with buses taking hospital cases from the first-line dressing stations to base hospitals, there will be tremendous confusion. There is much useful work that can be done in ensuring that these new roads are kept free and are developed so that London can be fed and maintained in time of war.
To come very briefly to my conclusion, a national survey at the present moment would give us a tremendous number of very vital objectives. We should have slum clearance schemes, the provision of open spaces, the construction of deep air-raid shelters, the construction of holiday camps to be used for evacuation purposes in time of war, and we should have a great development of our western ports, so that, should the emergency come, transport would not be hindered. I believe it was La Rochefoucauld who once saidThere is no situation, however bad, which does not allow an able man to derive some profit from it,and I believe that this question of preparation for defence, bad as it may seem to us, may nevertheless be a blessing in disguise if it leads us to replan our national economy on healthier and more practical lines.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) rose——
§ Mr. Tinker
May I ask for your guidance on this point, Mr. Deputy-Speaker? It has become a growing practice for the Government speaker to speak before the conclusion of a Debate. In this instance there has been only one speaker from the Opposition benches. I ask you whether it is right for the Government speaker to reply before the case has been put from the Opposition benches. I want to raise my voice in protest against it because this practice is growing and Private Members' time on Private Members' days is being taken by the Government——
§ Mr. Tinker
—who intervened before the case has been put from this side. I want your guidance because——
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I cannot allow the hon. Member to go on in that way. What he is trying to say appears to me to be a criticism of the Chair, and that I cannot allow. If the Government representative chooses to speak now it is probably because he thinks it is for the convenience 493 of the House. It is not a case in which the Government representative is to wind up the Debate. This is a Private Member's Motion, and I think the natural and proper arrangement which I should carry out so far as it lay in my power would be to call for purposes of winding up the Debate somebody supporting the Mover of the Motion.
§ Mr. Tinker
Perhaps you have not the power now, but I am raising this objection so that Government speakers——
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I need hardly assure the hon. Member or the House that I have no wish to curtail discussion.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I shall be here until the conclusion of the Debate and take careful note of any points which are raised from any side of the House.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
May I interrupt the hon. Gentleman? He must know very well has we like to get answers to the questions which we put during the Debate. This Debate will be reported in the Press——
§ Mr. Fleming
On a point of Order. Is it in order for an hon. Member to address questions directly to a Minister?
§ Mr. Garro Jones
The Minister has been good enough to give way to me and I am making an appeal to him. He has a perfect right to speak now, but it is a very long-standing practice in this House, going back for 50 years, that the Minister should wait until the case has been put. We know very well that there are some advantages in the matter of Press reporting for the Minister to get up to reply before it is very late, but the most important factor is the Debate across the Floor of the House, and I do appeal to him to recognise the ancient practice and to remember that Members desire answers to their questions.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
May I ask for your guidance. Mr. Deputy-Speaker? I understand that if the Amendment to the 494 Motion, which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald), is moved, that after that, discussion must be confined' strictly to the two points in that Amendment, and I take it that it would undoubtedly limit the contribution which I hope to make to this discussion if I were to speak after that Amendment had been moved.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That is so. Directly the Amendment is moved the discussion will have to be confined strictly within the limits of that Amendment.
§ Mr. Lawson
If the Minister himself would delay answering me moving of the Amendment would come a little later than we have anticipated.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
It is rather unfortunate that hon. Members should apply to me to join in, in making these arrangements regarding the Debate. One of my difficulties in allotting time before II o'clock to the different groups in the House arises from my having to make provision for two speeches by the Mover and Seconder of a narrowing Amendment at some time or other; but in this case the Debate is on a Motion by the Mover and the Seconder of the Motion, and it is they who have first claim on the House. If I were given to under stand that the Amendment would be moved only shortly or formally at the end, it might assist the Debate very considerably from that point of view.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I am sure that no Member on any side of the House will quarrel with my hon. Friend the Member for West Salford (Mr. Emery) who has introduced this Motion to-night. I can assure the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) that far from having any desire to inflict on the workpeople of this country a lower standard of wages than the normal trade union rates, I have nothing to quarrel about as regards the object of the second part of his Amendment. I might suggest, in passing, that it seems a little unfair to see my sinister hand in the failure to include those words in the Amendment. Nor, I am sure, would any hon. Member, least of all the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. K. Griffith), expect mo this evening, within the limits of this Debate, and in my position as Parliamentary Secretary, to give answers to questions involving high policy or problems affecting 495 the world-wide situation. I can assure the House that no one regrets this Motion, least of all my right hon. Friend and myself. There are some who say that the problem of unemployment is so vast and of such world-wide extent that no Government in this or any other country can do much to diminish it. I do not myself take that view. I believe there is a considerable amount of constructive work that can be done quite apart from efforts to revive the export trade, and I hope before I sit down to make one or two suggestions on particular aspects of this problem which may be of interest to hon. Members.
My hon. Friend who proposed the Motion started by stressing the fact that mainly in a revival of the export trade lies the solution of this problem. The hon. Member for Ince said that only trade agreements will help. It is not for me to recount the various trade agreements that have been made by this Government. That was done in part by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade on the occasion of the recent Vote of Censure, and he was indeed himself censured afterwards in some organs of the Press for talking about the export trade in relation to the problem of unemployment. I do not intend to-night to incur similar censure but I do hold that in a revival of our great export trade and the cultivation of some part of the untapped market at home lies the surest hope for the unemployed.
But before I leave this particular problem, the question of ordinary trade, I desire to draw the attention of the House to this fact. Though unhappily to-day we have once more passed the two million mark for the number of those out of work —or rather we passed it in the month of January—if we compare the situation today with the situation when we last had 2,000,000 unemployed in February, 1936, there are actually to-day 750,000 more people in work than there were on that occasion. That is apart from the number of agricultural and other workers who are newly insured under the Acts. The main service that this Government can render to the country is so to increase the stabilising forces of the world that ordinary trade may revive. I must confess that although I believe the trading estates have a great future before them no one could fail to be impressed by the fact that 496 the temporary setback in trade last January threw out of work in the Special Areas alone four times as many people as at present employed in the new industrial undertakings in the Special Areas. That is no condemnation of the trading estate as such, but it ought to make this House hesitate before it discards any useful weapon for the revival of ordinary trade. The hon. Member said that subsidies, if found necessary, should be applied. They have been applied in the case of those industries whose survival is of national interest. Then he said—this is a contention with which no one can deny—that even allowing for the greatest possible revival of the export trade at this moment and the happiest situation for ordinary trade, we may still have a problem of unemployment or under-employment at home with which we shall have to grapple. We cannot wait until the whole world is entirely at peace. I have no wish to-night to diminish the importance of that side of the problem but there are two particular aspects in this question with which I believe hon. Members would like me to deal. My right hon. Friend in the course of the last two years and more has himself focused attention on the problem of the elderly worker and the problem of the young unemployed man and I think I should fail in my task if I sat down to-night without making some contribution to both those problems. To deal effectively with those classes it may well be that they must be regarded as social problems which cannot be dealt with on strictly economic lines. If so, and if the country came to that conclusion, it would have to be admitted among other things that preference should be given in filling vacancies for work to certain types of unemployed chosen primarily for social reasons, and as it is no part of the intention of the Government that people should be given work below agreed rates, this might well add to the cost of the work in hand, and, when considering the pro-proposals of the Government in regard to camps or any possible proposals that may be put before the House to see that certain sections of the community get an opportunity of work on those schemes, we ought also to bear in mind that any possible increase in the cost will be more than off-set by the social advantages that will accrue. Any policy of that kind, pursued logically and successfully, will in- 497 volve an even greater use of the employment Exchanges than at present for filling vacancies on contract work or work of oilier kinds.
In my personal capacity before I was translated to my present office I have always wished that the bulk of the recruitment of industry should be done through the Employment Exchanges, which are in touch with the problem in each district and can make sure as far as possible that the work provided in a district primarily aids the people in that district itself. I think it may be of interest to the House if I remind it that the Contracts Co-ordinating Committee have agreed as follows in the case of contracts of the value of £500 or over:The contractor shall notify the appropriate employment exchange as and when any additional labour is required to carry out this contract. Contractors are not precluded from seeking to obtain workpeople by other means also, but they are requested to inform the employment exchange without delay of any vacancies so filled.The House will appreciate that though there is an obligation in that case on Government contractors to notify vacancies, there is no obligation on them to take their workpeople through the exchanges.
In regard to those two particular problems of the elderly worker and the young unemployed man, the problem of the elderly worker in this country is closely allied to the problem of long-term unemployment. That is why it is a matter of gratification—and where there are cheerful signs they ought to be stressed— that in the figures for January of this year those who have been out of work for 12 months and more actually are only 15 per cent. of the workers unemployed— the lowest figure since 1933. Previously a much larger proportion than that have been out of work for a period of 12 months. At the present time only 15 per cent. of our people now unemployed have been out of work for 12 months or more, and as these are not entirely, but largely, elderly workers, there has obviously been an improvement, due no doubt to the skilled man and the experienced worker coming once more into his own.
But none the less there are other factors which must be brought forward, not least the fact that at the date of the last inquiry 60 per cent. of those male applicants for benefit or allowances who had been out of work for two years or more 498 were aged 45–64 years, and 70 per cent. of those who had been out of work for over five years were in the same age group. Those people do represent a real hard problem, and I am not attempting to-night to diminish it.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Would you not take up the question of the Admiralty discharging men on account of age and thus increasing this problem?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
There are some occupations for which unfortunately elderly people are not suitable, but any suggestions that the hon. Gentleman wishes to bring to the attention of my right hon. friend I am sure will be looked into. The House will have noticed that a week or two ago, at Geneva, this question of the elderly worker was raised at a meeting of the Governing Body of the International Labour Office, and I should like to take this opportunity of saying that, having attended a meeting of the International Labour Office last summer, I am convinced that much useful work can be done, not only in the realm of international understanding, but also in helping to solve our own problems, by the interest which has been displayed in this matter then;. There was a remarkable unanimity at the meeting of the Governing Body. When the United States workers' delegate proposed that the problem of the elderly worker should be investigated by the International Labour Office, the representatives of the three groups reported complete unanimity, and the British delegate took a strong line in giving an undertaking that we in this country would help in every way possible to make the inquiry a success. It is the intention of my right hon. Friend at an early date to issue an invitation to the trade unions and employers' organisations, to help in this inquiry, so that, if possible, really practical results may ensue. I have not time on this occasion to develop at any length other and purely administrative measures which exist whereby the problem of the elderly unemployed is being looked after.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but this is a most important matter. Are we to understand that the sole contribution that the Government are making to the problem of the elderly worker and the person who has been unemployed for a long time is to conduct an inquiry of an international character?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Certainly not. One other contribution has been this: As recently as April, 1937, those who had been out of work for 12 months and more formed 25 per cent. of the total number unemployed, whereas to-day they are only 15 per cent., and, as many of them are elderly workers, that is a very valuable contribution. It will interest the House to know that we propose to collaborate very vigorously with the International Labour Office in trying to see that good results ensue.
The second problem is the problem of the young unemployed man. Attention has recently been focused on this problem, partly by means of a correspondence which was started in the "Times" newspaper by a most valuable letter from Sir Malcolm Stewart. Sir Malcolm Stewart has many advantages and great experience. I do not suppose that the Opposition will count it an advantage when I say that he is a constituent of my own, but, none the less, I feel that, in spite of this handicap, as it may be regarded, his views will be listened to with attention in this House. This is a very grave problem, but the fact that it is a limited problem, and perhaps susceptible to real practical treatment, makes it not insoluble. No one can feel happy, at a time like this, to see from last year's report of the Unemployment Assistance Board that some 52,000 male applicants of the Board, between 16 and 34 years of age, had been out of work for 12 months or more; or—an even worse story —that some 21,000 of them had been out of work for three years or more.
As the House knows, various training facilities are provided by the Ministry of Labour, but I appreciate that it is extremely difficult to convince people of the value of training unless they are reasonably certain of getting a job at the end of their period of training. I fully appreciate that fact, but, all the same, I do not agree that it is a happy situation when, with the whole country to draw upon for the instructional centres, we cannot, at our centres throughout the whole country, keep 4,000 places or so full during the winter months. I noticed, in an Amendment which was on the Order Paper last week, but was not moved, when the Debate on the Motion of Censure took place, one or two references to the question of persuasion to under- 500 go training, and I think it may be of interest to the House if I let them know —many hon. Members know the situation already—what the conditions are under which persuasion is or is not exercised at the moment in order to get people to undergo training.
With regard to unemployed juveniles between the minimum age for entry into insurance and the age of 18, they may, as the House perhaps knows, subject to certain important qualifications, be required to attend an authorised course of instruction, and, if they fail to attend in accordance with the requirements, they are liable to be disqualified for the receipt of unemployment benefit if they are over 16 years of age. In the case of juveniles between 14 and 16, in respect of whom dependant's benefit is paid, dependant's benefit may be disallowed for a refusal to undergo training. This procedure, whereby benefit can be withdrawn from a juvenile who refuses a course of instruction, or dependant's benefit may be refused for the same reason, does not apply to unemployment assistance, which can be paid in spite of refusal on the part of the juvenile to undergo instruction. I hope that what I have just said will meet one or two of the uncertainties in the minds of some hon. Members such as perhaps were envisaged in the Amendment which was on the Order Paper last week. With regard to adults, the position can, I think, be easily and briefly stated. It is a condition——
§ Mr. Harold Macmillan
On a point of Order. May I ask, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, whether this is material and in order, in view of your recent Ruling on the Motion, which deals with very wide questions of co-ordination and constructive proposals? Are not these detailed points more suitable for raising on a Supply Day, on the Estimates for the Ministry of Labour?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
It is not for me to say whether they are suitable. That may be a matter of opinion. They are not irrelevant to the terms of the Motion, and, therefore, they are not out of order. That is all I have to decide.
§ Mr. Macmillan
I was asking for guidance in view of the Ruling that you gave when the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. H. Kerr) was speaking.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
In that case I thought that what the hon. Member was saying was outside the Motion.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I assure my hon. Friend that I will not elaborate that point very much, but I think it is rather important from the point of view of the proper co-ordination of man-power for which this Motion asks. I must, I think, in order to complete this part of my speech—I am not going to develop it much further—just draw attention to the fact that during the Debate on the Unemployment Bill in 1934 a pledge was given by the Minister of Labour that the fourth statutory condition for the receipt of unemployment benefit would not be used to compel adults to take a course of training. As the House perhaps knows, this condition is now enforced in a way different from the way in which it might have been applied. I believe it is the will of the House that a very vigorous effort shall be made in order to see that the younger unemployed have every opportunity of taking work. Attention is at this moment being focused on the question of camps, air-raid precautions and similar activities, and I am sure it will meet with general approval when I state that those who will be responsible for these camps will in all probability be asked to give a preference, in the recruitment of labour for the building of these camps, to young men who have been out of work for a considerable time. If it costs more, I feel sure the country will agree that the increased cost will be amply made up by the real social advantages that will result.
From time to time in this Debate a number of Members have suggested that more public works should be instituted. I do not intend at any great length to recount the lessons that were learned when public works were instituted on a large scale by the Labour party. The hon. Member for Ince cited the Manchester— Liverpool road, and suggested that it did not do more than give temporary employment to a number of people. But I must remind him that proposals of that kind formed the main part of the programme for dealing with the problem of unemployment with which his party was confronted. I suggest that there are different sorts of public works. There is a difference between public works which take the form of wondering whether a 502 certain municipality needs, say, a new town hall, and deciding that it does in order to give employment, and the sort of work which no one can fail to notice in many parts of the country, which stares one in the face and is crying out to be done. The hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson) knows, I hope, quite well that I myself have tried to display some interest in the welfare of his own town in connection with that particular matter, in order to see what can be done to put idle hands to work that obviously needs doing.
The Mover and the Seconder of the Motion suggested that there should be further commissioners, presumably on the lines of the Commissioner for the Special Areas, who should take the whole country within their purview. The policy of the Government has been to weight the scales towards the Special and other distressed areas, but there is only a limited amount of new work to be given out, and the spectacle of innumerable commissioners competing for work for their own districts is not one that would appeal to people who are anxious to see work given where it is most needed. I would remind hon. Members that the recent proposals of the Government are designed to bring some form of succour to areas, other than Special Areas, of heavy unemployment.
With regard to the general question of the location of industry, I could not make a formal announcement, when the whole subject is under review by the Royal Commission, but I hope the Commission will report soon, and the matter will then be carefully considered. As to the need for a central authority, I would point out that this is quite a different matter from the institution of commissioners in every county. An hon. Member asked that we should have Government training centres in every part of the country. He will realise, I am sure, that the very success which these centres have achieved has been due to the fact that they have been able to send into employment a strikingly high percentage of the men attending them —about 90 per cent. last year. To create more applicants than it would be within the capacity of the market to absorb would be to bring the whole system into disrepute. The whole: question is under constant review and new locations for centres are being surveyed. I thank the House for the attention they have given 503 my remarks, despite their dislike for my somewhat early rising, and I thank the hon. Member for bringing forward this Motion. I am sure hon. Members to whose wise observations I shall not be able to reply, that I shall ponder on them afterwards.
§ Mr. R. J. Taylor
I understand the hon. Member to say that those who will be responsible for the camps will give special preference to young men in the work of building these camps. Does this mean that middle-aged men will be excluded?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Certainly not. There will be a considerable amount of labour available, but it having been recognised that the problem of young men who have been out of work for a long time does exist, this opportunity will be taken of giving them work.
§ Mr. Taylor
If there is to be a preference for young men, does that not mean the exclusion of older men?
§ 9.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Lawson
We welcomed the prospect of this Debate, because it seemed that for the first time for years the House was getting a little concerned about unemployment, but since the Parliamentary Secretary spoke I have felt no satisfaction at all. The hon. Member who moved the Motion will now know just how we felt last week when we moved our Vote of Censure. Now hon. Members on that side have moved a Vote of Censure—for that is what it amounts to—and the hon. Gentleman has not given them the honour of a reply. We are used to it, but I wonder what the hon. Member opposite will think of the speech which has just been made, which was supposed to be in answer to his Motion. Last week neither the Minister of Labour nor the President of the Board of Trade attempted to answer the Vote of Censure. If they had attempted to attack our Motion it would have been some satisfaction, but the Minister then made a speech like that of the hon. Gentleman to-night, which, as the hon. Member for Stockton (Mr. Harold Macmillan) has well said, might be appropriate to a Supply Day but has nothing to do with a Motion of this kind. The Government, apparently, does not care about unemployment at all. I understand that 504 the Prime Minister is delivering a speech in the country to-night, in which, I gather, he is making an important declaration on unemployment. If that is so, I wonder that he did not make it here last week; and I wonder why it is that the hon. Gentleman, speaking for the Ministry of Labour, should, in dealing with a Motion of this kind, recite facts that anyone could get out of the Ministry of Labour's Report.
Why is the Prime Minister making a statement to-night? Is it that at last the Government are becoming conscious that the country is concerned about unemployment? Is it because of the long barrage of questions and speeches from this side of the House, in which we have tried to draw attention to the parlous condition described by the hon. Member who moved the Motion? Is it because the country is becoming alarmed at the state of great masses of our people? The hon. Member who moved the Motion and gave us an opportunity, for which we are grateful, of discussing this matter, made certain suggestions with reference to the President of the Board of Trade and the Secretary for Overseas Trade going to Germany and Russia. That may be making a contribution, but we have had trade agreements for years affecting a great many industries, and what is the result? My hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) said that there are 60,000 fewer miners in the mining industry. I have looked up the figures, and there are 123,000 fewer miners in the industry than there were in 1921. The cotton industry must have dwindled by almost half in the last few years, in view of the unemployment among its operatives. The hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. K. Griffith) gave us a description of what is happening in the shipbuilding industry. That is happening in every great industry in the country because of the increase of machinery. It has been going on for years.
The Minister of Labour convinced himself, though he did not convince the House, that there are fewer than 300,000 people who constitute the standing army of the unemployed. The chief of the Unemployment Assistance Board says that out of 570,000 under the Board 430,000 have been idle more than three months. That relates to those for whom the Board caters. The Parliamentary Secretary ought to know, certainly his 505 staff knows, that if he takes the people who have been idle under three months or under six weeks there are tens of thousands who have been idle for years but have been working 30 weeks, under the plan of the local authorities, and when they have worked 30 weeks, although they have been idle for five years, as many of them have, they come under the three months unemployment figure. Everybody knows that there are great industries in a similar position. It is safe to say that in the under six weeks figures there are at least 100,000 who have been idle for years, if one examines their record. I should not spend time on this matter except to show how futile is the kind of argument that there are only 280,000 who really compose the standing army of the unemployed.
§ Mr. Lawson
No, but the Minister of Labour used the argument to such effect last week that a great many of the Government newspapers used it in support of him. There is one further fact that has not been mentioned to-night. The hon. Member said that the burden fell unduly heavily upon the Special Areas when the unemployment figures increased. There is another way in which it falls unduly heavily upon the old and the new Special Areas, including Lancashire. The Poor Law relief figures have gone smaller in the last year, and a good deal has been made of it, but in every Special Area and in Lancashire those figures are going up. Since 1931 the increase upon the Poor Law authorities has been 286,000 each year, and the bulk of the burden is falling upon the authorities that can least bear it. That gives an indication of the condition of great masses of our people.
The Commissioner of the Special Areas is very much alarmed, and he has made reference to the Royal Commission that is sitting with regard to the distribution of the industrial population. I wonder when the report of that Royal Commission will be available. In his last report, the Commissioner for the Special Areas said:It is to be hoped that even in advance of the report of the Royal Commission on the Distribution of the Industrial Population something may be done by voluntary means to curb the tendency for new industries to establish themselves in the London area.No attempt, apparently, is being made to get the report of the Royal Commission 506 or to do any thinking as to what may be done in face of this terrific problem. The Government practically insulted the Opposition in the last Debate, and it has now insulted its own supporters. They have been entrenched for years, but public opinion is at last blasting them out of the trenches. How much longer are hon. Members going to stand this kind of thing? I am certain that the country will not stand it much longer. I trust that when the Prime Minister speaks to-night it will be understood that if he is going to deal with unemployment it will be along the lines of work and wages, as suggested by my hon. Friend. There is to be no Hitler business in this country in handling the unemployed. I say that because there are those on the opposite side whose only contribution towards the unemployment problem is to make suggestions that more often are Fascist ideas. If the Prime Minister is making a declaration, we ought to see something done about men who have been suffering for years, particularly in areas like Wales, Lancashire and Durham. I trust also that if the Minister of Labour attempts in future to reply as the Parliamentary Secretary has done to-night, the House of Commons will reply in a very unusual manner instead of in the courteous way that has been shown towards Ministers in the last few months.
§ 10.3 p.m.
§ Major Sir George Davies
I was sorry that the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) opened his otherwise interesting speech in the way he did. One reason is that he does not seem to realise that this is the last Wednesday for Private Members' Debate, and it is not an occasion for a Minister to reply particularly to the Motion which has been moved, even from these benches. I am sorry also for a second reason. I have listened for nearly 16 years to a long series of Debates on the question of unemployment, and my mind goes back to those earlier days when it could never be discussed without arousing the most violent party feeling. Those of us who have been in the House for a long period will remember the late Mr. Tom Shaw saying on this subject that he could not be expected to produce rabbits out of a hat. I also remember when the rural landscape was disfigured with posters stating that unemployment could be cured. The party of which I am a 507 Member have been guilty in the same way. When the figures of unemployment have gone down, we have said that it was entirely due to our Government, and when they have gone up, we have said that it was due to international causes.
I had hoped by the way that the Debate had been conducted—until the hon. Gentleman just intervened—that this evening we were at last considering this matter from the national and not from the party point of view. My hon. Friend is quite right in saying that in all quarters of the House and the country people are very gravely disturbed at the position of employment and unemployment in this country. The other night the Minister of Labour dissected the figures to show what was and what was not the reason for the increase and what was the size of the standing army of the unemployed. In the situation now facing us I suggest that all that is beside the point. We have a great blot on our industrial escutcheon in these 2,000,000 people who are not in work. I have no brief for Mr. Hitler or for the system in Germany, but when he came into power he said that one of the things he was going to do was to do away with unemployment, and he has done so to such an extent that he is now importing labour from a neighbouring country into the industries of Germany. The question of how he has done it is for the moment immaterial. [Interruption.] Yes, it is immaterial to the point I am trying to make, which is that he has made a great impression on public opinion in Germany that he has carried out this undertaking of his. We have dissected this matter for long enough. We are all responsible —all the parties in the country, and none of us have managed to deal with the core of the problem. That is a matter for a certain amount of national shame. It is true that the hard core is of those people who have been for long years breaking their hearts in hopelessness, and those on the threshold of life whose only knowledge of contributing to the industrial activities of the country is to wait until Friday and then to go round to the employment exchange. Those are two national tragedies.
This matter cannot be treated on purely economic lines. It is uneconomic to subsidise houses so that people who could not otherwise afford to do so can live in 508 a more expensive house than they would normally be able to afford. But does anyone suggest that such a tiling was not justified up to the hilt and that we had to do it? This problem is psychological, and not economic. From the common sense point of view we must admit that there will always have to be a certain reservoir of unemployment. Our statistics are so complete in this country over such a long period of years that they include large numbers of people who are not normally regarded as unemployed, but who come in to our calculations and swell our figures. The other point is that with a constantly elastic system of industry there must be a reservoir to be called upon when business is good and activity is rising, as compared with times of moderate recession, not necessarily of slump. To cover that point is exactly why we established our unemployment insurance system, which is the envy of every other country. But after years of hope we have to admit that we have been unsuccessful, and that we still have those two running sores on the body politic, namely, those who have been eating their hearts out year after year, and the young people who have never learned what it means to give a week's work for a week's pay.
I appeal to my hon. Friend to recognise that this is a psychological question. It is not a question of statistics. We like to regard ourselves as one of the foremost industrial countries in the world from many points of view, but we find ourselves defeated by this problem. The nation is ready to have its determination and enthusiasm fired to deal with it. I appeal to those upon our Front Bench to recognise that the time has come in those two aspects of the problem to disregard statistics and to concentrate on the psychological position in which we are carrying as dead weight human beings who are losing all hope. There is a loss to the wealth productivity of the country, to take even that sordid point of view. Only yesterday we were dealing with the terrible question of those enormous and astronomical loans for the needs of the present emergency, and yet out of the industrial reserves of this country we are still carrying along 2,000,000 who are out of work.
I appeal for something which will tackle the problem from the psychological point of view, and which will appeal to the imagination of the country, whether it 509 is by the co-ordination of the industrialists or whatever else it may be, just as we are waiting to have our imaginations roused on a definite programme of air raid precautions and national defence. I am not so bold as some of my hon. Friends who have spoken in this Debate as to attempt to suggest in detail what should or can be done because that is not my task, and it would be an impertinence of me to make concrete and definite suggestions. I speak from the general point of view. I believe that we have been tagging this problem along for long enough, and that the time has come when the country will respond to a psychological appeal which will inspire their imagination and arouse their enthusiasm.
§ 10.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Leslie
We have seen no sign yet of Government effort to find employment, and the increasing gravity of unemployment is a measure of the Government's futility. In the Debate last Thursday we waited in vain for any indication of the Government's plans for dealing with the situation, but both the Minister of Labour and the President of the Board of Trade avoided the main point of the Debate. Hon. Members have endeavoured to make capital out of the number of workers who are in employment, but it was very significant that no mention was made of that figure in the speech of the Minister of Labour last week. I think the reason is obvious, because we now have the figures and they show 184,000 fewer people in employment in January than in December, and 50,000 fewer than a year ago. Considering the increased population those figures are very serious.
Unemployment unfortunately increases monthly, but apparently the Government accept that increase as inevitable. One-time staple industries, such as mining, shipbuilding, engineering, cotton and fishing, are much depressed. In the Press to-day we can see a lament because of the number of shipyards that are practically idle. On Tees-side we have one of the best-equipped shipyards in England, but to-day seven out of eight of its berths are empty. I saw in the Press this morning that only two men and 20 apprentices are employed in that yard, some 2,000 fewer men than in 1914. In the last War we lost a third of our shipping; the next 510 war will be more serious because of aerial bombardment. We must remember that there are 5,000,000 more people to feed. So long as we have to rely so much upon overseas supplies for our food an adequate mercantile marine is necessary and is essential as an adjunct to the Navy. At the present time the United States are building mercantile vessels as an adjunct to the United States Navy. In the last War the Navy commandeered something like 2,000. We cannot expect in the next war, as we did in the last War, to rely on the Basques to help us.
There are two very significant events which show the need for trade improvement. The railway companies are appealling for a square deal to remedy a position which they say is due to declining trade. Take the attitude of the engineering firms against giving an increase of wages to the engineers. The engineering firms declare that the trade decline has already begun. Employers are quite well aware that the arms boom cannot last, and the Government so far have given no indication of any plans to meet the downward trade cycle. Unless rumour be a lying jade we have the Unemployment Statutory Committee believing that by 1942 we shall have at least 2,750,000 unemployed. I note that the Government are under the delusion that trade prosperity will return, but I am afraid that we cannot again hope to be the manufacturing nation of the world, because during the War all countries were thrown upon their own resources, and those countries now manufacture the goods which we formerly supplied.
Ministers time and again have derided suggestions for public works. We do not propose asking the unemployed to dig holes and fill them again, but to engage in public works that are absolutely necessary to the prosperity of this country. At the present time there are thousands of acres of land under water. A commission some years ago reported that by having a proper system of land drainage in this country, it would be possible to employ almost immediately 50,000 men and to find work for them for at least 12 months. In the mining districts there are flooded mines. In my division there is a mine with a pumping machine that pumps 2,500 gallons of water a minute 900 feet high. Other mines which have been re-opened during the past two years can work only the top seam and millions 511 of tons of coal are going to waste because of the flooded condition of the mines. There are harbour improvements that could be carried out, and which are certainly very essential to us as a maritime nation. We saw it stated in the Press the other day, when those brave lifeboat-men at St. Ives lost their lives, that if a response had been made to their constant agitation for harbour improvements their lives might have been saved.
If one takes the question of housing, there are to-day 347,000 building operatives wholly unemployed. We were told by the Minister of Health in a Debate a few months ago that houses to be let were being built at the rate of 140,000 per annum. It has been computed on excellent authority that it will take at least 10 years at that rate to meet the housing needs of this country. In Durham alone 33,000 houses are needed to meet the housing requirements of the people, and by 1942 all houses are to be de-controlled, and if the housing needs are not met by that time, it will mean that house rents will be increased.
Unemployment is receiving special attention at Geneva, and it is good to know that the Parliamentary Secretary pays some tribute to the work that is being done there on the question of unemployment. But, unfortunately, with the connivance of the British Government they have now cut down the staff of the International Labour Office at Geneva and so are handicapping them in their work. Unemployment is no longer considered to be an act of God but the action of men. Scientific devices are constantly being introduced to increase production. We contend that the scientific devices ought not to be used merely as wage-saving devices, but as labour-saving in the real sense, and that is by a reduction in working hours.
What is the attitude of the British Government at Geneva to this question of reducing hours? They have always opposed a reduction of hours. On Friday next we shall give them an opportunity of dealing with this question as it affects domestic occupations, where there are no international obligations and no foreign competition. I hope the Minister of Labour will rise to the occasion and support our Shops Bill. Other countries have certainly set an example, so far as working hours are concerned. The United 512 States have not only raised the age of entry into industry to 16 but have reduced the hours in certain industries to 35 and in others to 40, and by that means have been able to absorb over 5,000,000 of their unemployed. The British Dominions have also given an object lesson to the mother country in this respect. And take poor Czecho-Slovakia. Before the Nazis came 750 factories worked a 40-hour week, but nobody knows what it is going to be now that they are under Nazi tyranny. Some time ago Sir Charles Mander, speaking to the Incorporated Sales Managers Association, declared that a 40-hour week in this country would absorb at least 250,000 of our unemployed.
Foreign competition is constantly trotted out as the bogy which prevents the Government agreeing to a 40-hour week by international agreement, but that cannot be said so far as domestic occupations are concerned. While unemployment is increasing we find that overtime in many firms continues. The chief factory inspector in his report last year showed the amount of overtime imposed upon boys and girls in the Midlands and the South of England. It is a shocking state of affairs that men and women, boys and girls, should be working overtime when numbers of people are unable to obtain employment. Durham is stated to be the black spot of English unemployment. The increase during November was 2,000; that means that there are 60,000 workers in the county unemployed. I take it at that figure because in September the number of unemployed was 58,940. Apart from the Team Valley Trading Estate very little has been done to help industry in the county of Durham. In reply to a question I put to the Minister I received an answer which showed that only 759 have been found employment and that most of them are mere children. That is what the Government have done for one of the distressed areas.
I contend that the distressed areas, with their derelict villages, stand as monuments to the Government's neglect. There is an alarming increase in sickness and mortality in those areas. I hope that the Minister of Health is thinking of the position there. In Durham, the male death rate is 20 per cent, over the average for the whole country, and while the birth rate is the highest, it is significant that the death rate of mothers and babies is the 513 highest. What do the Government intend to do about this? Have they any plans for finding work for the unemployed? If so, why do they not reveal them to the House and the country? The Labour party have a plan: it is to plan the resources of the nation in the interests of the national wellbeing. That is the only effective policy for achieving real prosperity. I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from "that," to "there," in line 2, and to insert instead thereof:in the opinion of this House, subject to the maintenance of the voluntary principle and the observance of trade union rates and conditions.
§ 10.27 p.m.
I beg to second the Amendment.
The latest figures of the register of unemployment present a serious problem to right-minded men and women in this House and in the country. These tragic figures constitute an overwhelming indictment of shameful neglect. They cannot be explained away by bad weather or by any other excuse which the Government spokesman put forward. The outstanding fact is that the total of work-less is the highest since January, 1936, at a time when the Government have been telling the people that we are in a boom period and have prosperity, and when we have a huge rearmament programme and the nation is asked to mobilise all its resources for National Defence. The increase in unemployment affects the whole country——
§ Mr. Speaker
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Lady. The hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Leslie) moved an Amendment dealing with the maintenance of the voluntary principle and the observance of trade union rates and conditions. Of course, the moving of that Amendment narrows down the whole Debate to those particular points; and the hon. Lady may not go into the whole question of unemployment on this Amendment.
I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Speaker. As a newcomer to the House, I am not acquainted with the Rules of Debate.
§ Mr. Fleming
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Does your Ruling mean that any hon. Member who speaks subsequently to the hon. Lady must also keep within the limits of the Amendment?
§ Mr. Speaker
Undoubtedly. The moment we get on to the Amendment we can deal only with the questions raised in the Amendment.
§ Mr. Markham
Is it not a fact that the previous speaker mentioned such things as mortality rates, and so on?
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Leslie) was speaking on the general question and moved the Amendment at the end of his speech.
§ Mr. Fleming
Further to my point of Order. I understood from the Ruling of Mr. Deputy-Speaker that this Amendment was not accepted. Has it now been accepted by you?
§ Mr. Speaker
I did not understand that. I understood that my Deputy said that he proposed to select the Amendment.
§ Mr. Lawson
May I say that I thought the House was quite clear on the point that Mr. Deputy-Speaker did accept the Amendment?
I feel that as regards the maintenance of the voluntary principle and the observance of trade union rates and conditions, there is a vast deal of work which could be carried out under those heads and without going into the matter further I shall content myself with seconding the Amendment.
§ 10.31 p.m.
§ Rear-Admiral Beamish
I find myself not in disagreement with the Amendment, and, personally, I see no real reason why in the difficult position in which we find ourselves the voluntary principle and trade union rates and conditions should not be observed, but I do not propose to follow that point except to say that everything which I have to put to the House is subject to that idea.
§ Mr. Speaker
As there seems to be a desire in the House to continue the general discussion, perhaps the best course would be to get the Amendment out of the way now. If it is the wish of the House I will put the Amendment now.
§ Rear-Admiral Beamish
Will that prevent me from suggesting later certain means whereby such principles may be 515 carried out, and dealing with certain types of work, and so forth?
§ Question proposed, "That the proposed words be there inserted."
§ 10.41 p.m.516
§ Question put, "That the words proposed be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 89; Noes, 90.515
|Division No. 41.]||AYES.||[10.33 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Hambro, A. V.||Rankin, sir R.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, WJ||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Rosbotham, Sir T.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Hepworth, J.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. at Lin.)||Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Smith, Sir Louis (Hallam)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Beechman, N. A.||Holdsworth, H.||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Barium, W. W.||Holmes, J. S.||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Bull, B. B.||Hunloke, H. P.||Spens, W. P.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Hunter, T.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|Channon, H.||Keeling, E. H.||Strauss. H. G. (Norwich)|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Christie, J. A.||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Cox, H. B. Trevor||Lancaster, Captain C. G.||Thomas, J. P. L.|
|Crooks, Sir J. Smedley||Lees-Jones, J.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Turton, R. H.|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Liddall, W. S.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|De Chair, S. S.||Lipson, O. L.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Denville, Alfred||Maxwell, Hon. S. A.||Watt, Major G. S. Harvie|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Medlicott, F.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut-Colonel G.|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry||Wise, A. R.|
|Fleming, E. L.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Munro, P.|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley)||Perkins, W. R. D.||Mr. Emery and Mr. Hamilton|
|Grigg, Sir E. W. M.||Ramsden, Sir E.||Kerr.|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Parker, J.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Hayday, A.||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Pearson, A.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Price, M. P.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||John, W.||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Banfield, J. W.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Roberta, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Barr, J.||Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Sexton, T. M.|
|Batey, J.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Shinwell, E.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Kirkwood, D.||Silkin, L.|
|Benson, G.||Lathan, G.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Broad, F. A.||Lawson, J. J.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Bromfield, W.||Leach, W.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Logan, D. G.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lunn, W.||Stokes, R. R.|
|Collindridge, F.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpath)|
|Daggar, G.||McEntee, V. La T.||Thurtle, E.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||McGhee, H. G.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Macmillan, H. (Slockton-on-Tees)||Viant, S. P.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||MacNeill Weir, L.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Markham, S. F.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Marshall, F.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Foot, D. M.||Mathers, G.||Westwood, J.|
|Gallacher, W.||Messer, F.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Milner, Major J.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Montague, F.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncaster)||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Muff, G.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Noel-Baker, P. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Oliver, G. H.||Mr. Leslie and Mrs. Adamson.|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Paling, W.|
§ have had considerable difficulty with the Amendment, and I hope I shall be in order in speaking on the general question of unemployment. I am aware that it is one of the most complicated of our problems, and I know of no problem of517
§ which there have been more disappointments and more failures.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. and gallant Member is now going back to the main Question. The Question before the House now is the acceptance of the Amendment.
§ Rear-Admiral Beamish
I wish to speak against the proposed words being inserted. In doing so I should like to point out that the Opposition have been bitterly critical, perhaps naturally enough, although their bitter criticism is a deplorable thing. It is not conducive to anything which is likely to help this problem. If I had my way I should enlist the sympathies and the aid and the advice of the Opposition in such a matter. We are spending millions on rearmament for the safety of ourselves and the good of posterity. I should like to see us spending more money——
§ Mr. Lawson
On a point of Order. May I ask what the position is now in view of the Amendment having been carried? May I draw the attention of the Chief Patronage Secretary to the fact that the Government have been defeated? [Hon. Members: "No."] If a Motion of congratulation to the Government moved by one of its supporters is defeated and that is not a Government defeat, I do not know what is. May I ask the Chief Patronage Secretary what he proposes to do?
§ 10.42 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Captain Margesson)
As the House will recognise, this is a Private Member's day, and as such I and those who function with me in the Whips' Office have no official business to perform. It is a free vote of the House; it is for hon. Members to do what they may wish on an evening such as this. Therefore, the honour or the prestige of the Government is in no way involved. The hon. Member asked what the Government proposes to do about it. I have just said that the Government as such is not involved, and, as far as I am concerned, the Debate will go on until those hon. or right hon. Members who wish to speak have exhausted their right of speaking, or until the Clock reaches 11, when a Division can be taken on the question which I understand is now before the House, that is to insert the words: 518in the opinion of this House, subject to the maintenance of the voluntary principle and the observance of trade union rates and conditions.That is the Question which is before the House, I understand. The question which was put to the House just now was, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part," and the Motion that they stand part was defeated, and the Question which Mr. Speaker then put to the House, and on which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Lewes Division (Rear-Admiral Beamish) got up to speak, was to insert the words which stand upon the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) and the hon. Lady the Member for Dartford (Mrs. Adamson). It is that Question which is now before: the House to decide, and if I am asked what the Government propose to do about it the Government will——
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) rose to a point of Order, and I have not yet had a chance of saying anything about it. The Question before the House is that, certain words having been deleted, other words should be inserted. That is the Question before the House.
§ Mr. Wedgwood Benn
May I ask for your guidance, Mr. Speaker, as to what is the ordinary practice of the House? What has happened is that a Motion moved by a Government Member expressing satisfaction with the Government has been defeated. The Chief Whip's explanation of that is that when the House is left free from pressure from the Government Whips it votes against the Government. Is it not a fact, and a matter of ordinary practice, that when such a direct rebuff has been given to the Government the Minister in charge usually moves the Adjournment of the House?
§ Mr. Speaker
Private Members' Motions are not a question for the Government. They are a matter for the House itself.
§ Mr. Lawson
May I draw your attention to the fact that the Government 519 Whips openly, in the House, brought pressure to bear upon the hon. Member who moved the Motion in order to take a Division?
§ Mr. Fleming
On a point of Order. May I ask this, for the guidance of the House and particularly of those who wanted to take part in the original discussion? I take it that the House has now decided that we should leave out from "That" in line 1 to "there" in line 2, and on examining my Order Paper I fail to see that word "That" appearing at all in line 1. The word "That" is in line 2. How can we leave out of line 1 what does not appear in line 1?
§ Mr. Speaker
The Question before the House is that the words
in the opinion of this House, subject to the maintenance of the voluntary principle and the observance of trade union rates and conditionsshould be inserted at the beginning of the Motion.
§ Mr. Fleming
I was taking the words which appear on the Paper. Are we entitled to raise the point as to where these words appear in the actual Motion?
§ Mr. Speaker
I am sorry the hon. Member cannot understand me. The words in the original Motion which are left out are:whilst recognising the value of the efforts of the Government to stimulate industry and find employment, this House is of opinion that.Then follows the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald).
§ Mr. Thurtle
On a further point of Order. How many points of Order may an hon. Member raise before you stop him on the ground of irrelevance?
§ 10.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
In reference to the point of Order raised by the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street(Mr. Lawson), you, Mr. Speaker, have ruled that if the Motion is defeated that involves no reflection on the Government, but may I submit to you that where that applies to a Motion which seeks to commend the 520 value of the Government's efforts for dealing with unemployment, and where that part of a Private Member's Motion is rejected, that involves a direct Vote of no confidence in the Government for this reason, that now we have left out of this Motion words which state that the House recognises "the value of the efforts of the Government"; which means that the House declines to recognise the value of the efforts of the Government, and therefore declines to recognise the use of the Government in the House at all? Surely in those circumstances it is incumbent upon the Government to say what action they propose to take to meet the situation?
§ 10.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Turton
I disagree with this Amendment for one good reason As far as I can see, it would not cover very essential work that could be done to remedy unemployment. I allude to work in connection with agriculture. As hon. Members opposite will perhaps remember, they themselves were responsible for the passing of the Agricultural Wages Act, which means that the wages of agricultural workers are not limited by trade union rates, but the agricultural workers have a far better protection in the Agricultural Wages (Regulation) Act and, so far as I can see, we are by this Motion saying that agricultural work cannot be used to remedy the great problem of unemployment. For the last 15 years there has been a great diminution of labour on the land, and we on this side of the House have tried to do what we can to get those 277,000 men back to agriculture.
The Socialists have not taken up the same position. Their candidate for the Ripon Division has said that his way of dealing with agricultural problems is to give the farmer a blow under the chin and then throw cold water upon him. I do not know whether the Socialists in the Ripon Division believe that that will ever remedy unemployment—[Interruption.] It is unfortunate that the Socialists, in bringing forward their Amendment to deal with unemployment, should entirely —[Interruption.] If hon. Members wish to carry on a conversation, I hope they will go to their usual abode in the House to do so. I was saying that it is unfortunate that their party should neglect 521 the great problem of the rural areas and the problem of the relief of unemployment by agricultural work. I listened with great care to the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, but both their speeches, unfortunately, were short, and did not deal at all with the problem of how to put men on the land. When we are told that the Land Drainage Act is quite inoperative, that was because of the difficulties which were put in the way by the party opposite. I believe there is a great opportunity of relieving unemployment by putting men on this work, and I welcome the decision of the Government to give grants for that purpose.
§ Mr. Lawson rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent and declined then to put that Question.
§ Mr. Turton
I hope very much that the House, when it considers this problem, come to the same view as myself. I
§ should like to sec an Amendment to the proposed Amendment moved, to lay down that in that case also the wages should be regulated by the Agricultural Wages Act passed in 1924. I do not know whether I should be in order in moving such an Amendment.
§ Mr. Lawson rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Mr. Turton
If I am not, may I put another argument as to the reason why I do not believe that these proposed words will meet the case?
§ Mr. Lawson rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 111; Noes, 135.523
|Division No. 42.]||AYES.||[11.01 p.m.|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Griffiths, G. A. (Hamsworth)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Adams, D M. (Poplar, S.)||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Paling, W.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Groves, T. E.||Parker, W.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Pearson, A.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Price, M, P.|
|Asks, Sir R. W.||Hayday, A.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Barr, J.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bellenger F. J.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Sexton, T. M.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Shinwell, E.|
|Benson, G.||John, W.||Silkin, L.|
|Bromfield, W.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Simpson, F. B.|
|Burke, W. A.||Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, E. (Slake)|
|Collindridge, F.||Kirby, B. V.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Daggar, G||Kirkwood, D.||Sorenson, R. W.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Lathan, G.||Stokes, R. R.|
|Day, H.||Lawson, J. J.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Dobbie, W.||Leach, W.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Logan, D. G.||Thurtle, E.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Lunn, W.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Viant, S. P.|
|Evans, D. 0. (Cardigan)||McEntee, V. La T.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Fletcher. Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||McGhee, H. G.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsand)|
|Foot, D. M.||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Watson, W. McL.|
|Frankel, D.||MacNeill Weir, L.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Gallacher, W.||Marshall, F.||Wait wood, J.|
|Gardner, B. W.||Mathers, G.||Williams, E, J. (Ogmore)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Messer, F.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Georgo, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Milner, Major J.||Wilson, C. H. (Altercliffe)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Montague, F.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncaster)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Muff, G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Mr. Emery and Mr. Lees-Jones|
|Acland-Troyta, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Beechman, N. A.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Baldwin-Webb, Col, J.||Bernays, R. H.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Boothby, R. J. G.|
|Alien, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Boulton, W. W.|
|Broadbridge, Sir G. T.||Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Brooke, H. (Lewitham, W.)||Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Bull, B. B.||Holdsworth, H.||Rankin, Sir R.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Holmes, J. S.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hunloke, H. P.||Rosbotham, Sir T.|
|Channon, H.||Hunter, T.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Hutchinson, G. C.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Christie, J. A.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Keeling, E. H.||Smith, Sir Louis (Hallam)|
|Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk N.)||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald|
|Cox, H. B. Trevor||Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Crooke, Sir J. Smedley||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Spans, W. P.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Lancaster, Captain C. G.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Liddall, W. S.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|De Chair, S. S.||Lindsay, K. M.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lipson, D. L.||Thomas, J. P. L|
|Denvilte, Alfred||Llewellin, Colonel J. J.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Lloyd, G. W.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Donner, P. W.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Touche, G. C.|
|Duggan, H. J.||McKie, J. H.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest||Turton, R. H.|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Markham, S. F.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Maxwell, Hon. S. A.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Fleming, E. L.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E,||Medlicott, F.||Watt, Major G. S. Harvie|
|Fyte, D. P. M.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley)||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||Moreing, A. C.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Greene, W. P. C, (Worcester)||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry||Wise, A. R.|
|Grigg, Sir E. W. M.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Hambro, A. V-||Munro, P.||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Peake, O.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hepworth, J.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Mrs. Adamson and Mr. Leslie.|
Question, "That this House do now adjourn, put and agreed to.
§ Question again proposed, "That the proposed words be there inserted."
§ Lieut.-Commander Agnew rose——
§ It being after Eleven of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.