HC Deb 18 July 1939 vol 350 cc335-54

10.45 p.m.

Mr. Alexander

I beg to move, in page 29, line 31, to leave out "either by way of grant or."

We regard the omission of these words as being important. In the Debate in Standing Committee I raised a number of what I thought were pertinent questions asking for information, to which the Minister endeavoured, to the best of his ability, to give answers, and where he answered the point I certainly do not wish to go over the ground again. We are asked here to vote £ 60,000 a year for 20 years, additional to the £ 32,500 already paid, to this bankers' corporation for the purpose of enabling them to meet the charges on their debentures. It seems to us quite reasonable that that money should be advanced not as a grant but as a loan. The Minister will probably answer, "We have put in the words by way of grant or loan,'" but I am certain that if those words are left in it will be the grant procedure which will be followed and not the loans procedure. The bankers will see to it that they get State money with which to guarantee the payments to be made upon the debentures they have issued. I could say a great deal upon this subject, but I do not wish to go over the arguments which I used in Committee upstairs and I hope that in the circumstances the Minister will be prepared to say that we should move in this matter by way of loan and not by way of grant.

10.47 p.m.

Mr. J. Morgan

Whatever action the House may take in this matter, I hope hon. Members will not feel that this is an agricultural reform. It is a pure gift of public money to banking interests who have failed to give the agricultural industry any satisfactory credit facilities in the last years. A few years ago leading banks found themselves loaded with securities in the shape of farms which had been mortgaged to them. They did not like this particular type of security, and they loaded it on to the country in this Agricultural Mortgage Corporation at five per cent., and rendered the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation incapable of provid- ing any effective credit to farmers and it could not earn enough money out of farming to pay its debenture interest. Now they appeal to the Treasury, and the Treasury are going to supplement out of public funds the deficiency in the interest payments from the farming industry. This Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, with the interests functioning through and behind it, has made it impossible to get proper credit facilities, and it is a most undesirable business that we should be handing out money to banking interests to support debenture holders in this way. In any case, if we want the Corporation still to function we can loan them the money for the time being in the hope that their business may improve, that credit facilities to farmers may function more satisfactorily and that we can rescue for the Treasury the amount now advanced. In any case let hon. Members understand perfectly well that, whether they vote for a grant or a loan, they are voting not in the interests of agriculture but to give the bankers of this country "a nice leg up."

10.49 p.m.

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

I am afraid that I cannot follow the hon. Member for Don-caster (Mr. J. Morgan). I entirely disagree with his appreciation of the situation; but that is another story. The question of whether this money should be given by grant or by loan or whether, as the Amendment suggests, it should be by way of loan only, raises a fundamental difference between this side of the House and the Opposition. We consider that there should be elasticity; that the matter should be left to the judgment of the Treasury. It is for the Government to decide whether it shall be by loan or by grant, and there are precedents for this. It has been done before in the case of the Development and Road Improvement Fund, which authorised the Treasury, on the recommendation of the Development Commissioners, to make advances, either by way of grant or by way of loan. Another example is the Colonial Development Act, 1929. Naturally, the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation will not always need grants, but you cannot tell what the conditions will be in 20 years' time. You do not know what is going to happen then. In 20 years' time the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation will be able, if the market is good, to redeem their debentures. It would be a misfortune when that time came if they had a tremendous debt, and were not able to redeem and to borrow on better terms. Therefore, it is considered best to leave this at the discretion of the Treasury.

Mr. J. Morgan

The Minister in reply to me dismissed my suggestion as being unfounded. I want to ask him, Is it not a fact that this grant or loan is to enable the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation to pay the debenture holders in full, and are not those debenture holders, in fact, mostly the leading bankers?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

The debenture holders are the ordinary public.

Mr. Morgan

Mostly bankers.

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

That I simply cannot say. I do not believe they are. But, anyway, the debenture holders are protected by a sum of money at the present moment at the disposal of the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation. This will not make any difference to the debenture holders over a period of years.

10.53 p.m.

Mr. T. Williams

I do not want this House and hon. Members opposite in particular to imagine that, because we are making it possible to grant to this Agricultural Mortgage Corporation £ 60,000 per annum for the next 20 years, that means that this is going to be a good, credit scheme for agriculture. The right hon. Gentleman knows that quite the contrary is the case, and I only rose to make that clear. Ten years since we gave this organisation £ 10,000 per annum for 10 years towards administrative expenses. We are now to give them a further £ 60,000 per annum for 20 years, and it is perfectly true, as my hon. Friend says, that this is safeguarding the interests of debenture holders, rather than safeguarding a really good, solid credit scheme for agriculture. For these reasons, I hope my hon. Friends will not hesitate to vote against it.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 219; Noes, 124.

Division No. 249.] AYES. [10.37 p.m.
Adams, D. (Consett) Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Poole, C. C.
Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford) Hardie, Agnes Price, M. P.
Adamson, W. M. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Pritt, D. N.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A, V. (H'lsbr.) Hayday, A. Quibell, D. J. K.
Ammon, C. G. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Ridley, G.
Banfield, J. W. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Riley, B.
Barnes, A. J, Hills, A. (Pontefract) Ritson, J.
Barr, J. Isaacs, G. A. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Batey, J. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Beaumont, H. (Batley) Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Rothschild, J. A. de
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. John, W. Shinwell, E.
Bevan, A. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Silkin, L.
Broad, F. A. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Simpson, F. B.
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)
Burke, W. A. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Sloan, A.
Charleton, H. C. Kirby, B. V. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Chater, D. Kirkwood, D. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Cocks, F. S. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Sorensen, R. W.
Collindridge, F. Leach, W. Stephen, C.
Cove, W. G. Lee, F. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Leonard, W. Stokes, R. R.
Daggar, G. Logan, D. G. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Dalton, H. Lunn, W. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Macdonald, G. (Ince) Thurtle, E.
Dobbie, W. McEntee, V. La T. Tinker, J. J.
Dunn, E, (Rother Valley) McGhee, H. G. Tomlinson, G.
Ede, J. C. MacLaren, A. Viant, S. P.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Maclean, N. Watkins, F. C.
Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Marshall, F. Watson, W. McL.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Mathers, G. Welsh, J. C.
Gallacher, W. Messer, F. Westwood, J.
Gardner, B. W. Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncaster) Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Garro Jones, G. M. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Nathan, Colonel H. L. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Naylor, T. E. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Grenfell, D. R. Noel-Baker, P. J. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Oliver, G. H.
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Paling, W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Parker, J. Sir Richard Acland and
Groves, T. E. Parkinson, J. A. Sir Percy Harris.
Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.) Pearson, A.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead) Emery, J. F.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Clydesdale, Marquess of Emmott, C. E. G. C.
Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Emrys-Evans, P. V.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Colfox, Major Sir W. P. Entwistle, Sir C. F.
Apsley, Lord Colman, N. C. D. Erskine-Hill, A. G.
Aske, Sir R. W. Colville, Rt. Hon. John Everard, Sir William Lindsay
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Conant, Captain R. J. E. Fleming, E. L.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Fox, Sir G. W. G.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Fremantle, Sir F. E.
Beechman, N. A. Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Furness, S. N.
Bernays, R. H. Craven-Ellis, W. Fyfe, D. P. M.
Boothby, R. J. G. Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.
Boulton, W. W. Crooke, Sir J. Smedley Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Cross, R. H. Goldie, N. B.
Boyce, H. Leslie Crossley, A. C. Gower, Sir R. V.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buckrose) Crowder, J. F. E. Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)
Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness) Davidson, Viscountess Grant-Ferris, Flight-Lieutenant R.
Brass, Sir W. Denman, Hon. R. D. Granville, E. L.
Broadbridge, Sir G. T. Danville, Alfred Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Doland, G. F. Gridley, Sir A. B.
Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.) Donner, P. W. Grimston, R. V.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Dorman-Smith, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir R. H. Gritten, W. G. Howard
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Dower, Lieut.-Col. A. V. G. Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.>
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Drewe, C. Hambro, A. V.
Butcher, H. W. Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Hannah, T.G.
Carver, Major W. H. Dugdale, Captain T. L. Hannon, Sir P. J. H.
Cary, R. A. Duggan, H. J. Harbord, Sir A.
Cayzer,, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Duncan, J. A. L. Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Dunglass, Lord Haslam. Sir J. (Bolton)
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Edmondson, Major Sir j. Heilgers, Captain F. F A.
Christie, J. A. Ellis, Sir G. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.
Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Snadden, W. McN.
Hepworth, J. Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge) Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald
Higgs, W. F. Morris-Jones, Sir Henry Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Hogg, Hon. Q. McG. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Stewart, J. Henderson (File, E.)
Holmes, J. S. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W, S. (Cirencester) Storey, S.
Horsbrugh, Florence Munro, P. Strauss, H. C. (Norwich)
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Nicholson, G. (Farnham) Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)
Hume, Sir G. H. Nicholson, Hon. H. G. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Hunter, T. Orr-Ewing, I. L. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Hurd, Sir P. A. Palmer, G. E. H. Sutcliffe, H.
Hutchinson, G. C. Peake, O. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Jarvis, Sir J. J, Perkins, W. R. D. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Jennings, R. Peters, Dr. S. J. Thomas, J. P. L.
Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Petherick, M. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Pickthorn, K. W. M. Thorneycroft, G. E. P.
Keeling, E. H. Procter, Major H. A. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Kellett, Major E. O. Purbrick, R. Touche, G. C.
Kerr, Sir John Graham (Sco'sh Univs.) Radford, E. A. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Kimball, L. Raikes, H. V. A. M. Turton, R. H.
Lamb, Sir J. Q. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Wakefield, W. W.
Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Rankin, Sir R. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Leech, Sir J. W. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Ward, Lieut.Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L, Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury) Warrender, Sir V.
Liddall, W. S. Reld, J. S. C. (Hillhead) Wayland, Sir W. A.
Lindsay, K. M. Remer, J. R. Webbe, Sir W. Harold
Lipson, D. L. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Llewellin, Colonel J. J. Ropner, Colonel L. Wells, Sir Sydney
Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S. Rosbotham, Sir T. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Loft us, P. C. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry) Wickham, Ll.-Col. E. T. R.
Lucas, Major Sir J. M. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
M'Connell, Sir J. Rowlands, G. Womersley, Sir W. J.
McCorquodale, M. S. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A. Wragg, H.
McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Salmon, Sir I. Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
McKie, J. H. Salt, E. W. York, C.
Macnamara, Lieut.-Colonel J. R. J. Samuel, M. R. A. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Manningham-Buller, Sir M. Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Schuster, Sir G. E. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Marsden, Commander A. Selley, H. R. Lieut.-Colonel Kerr and
Maxwell, Hon. S. A. Shakespeare, G. H Captain Waterhouse.
Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Division No. 250.] AYES. [10.55 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Grant-Ferris, Flight-Lieutenant R. Palmer, G. E. H.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Granville, E. L. Patrick, C. M.
Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Peake, O.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Gridley, Sir A. B. Perkins, W. R. D.
Apsley, Lord Grimston, R. V, Peters, Dr. S. J.
Aske, Sir R. W. Gritten, W. G. Howard Petherick, M.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Guest, Maj. Hon.O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.) Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Barrie, Sir C. C. Hambro, A. V. Procter, Major H. A.
Beamish, Roar-Admiral T. P. K. Hammersley, S. S. Purbrick, R.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Hannah, I. C. Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Beechman, N. A. Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.
Bernays, R. H. Harbord, Sir A. Rankin, Sir R.
Bird, Sir R. B. Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Boothby, R. J, G, Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Boulton, W. W. Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Boyce, H. Leslie Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Remer, J. R.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buckrose) Hepworth, J. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Braithwaite, J. Gurnay (Holderness) Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.) Ropner, Colonel L.
Broadbridge, Sir G. T. Higgs, W. F. Rosbotham, Sir T.
Brocklebank. Sir Edmund Hogg, Hon. Q. McG. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.) Holmes, J. S. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Horsbrugh, Florence Rothschild, J. A. de
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Rowlands, G.
Butcher, H. W. Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.
Carver, Major W. H. Hume, Sir G. H Ruggfes-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.
Cary, R. A. Hunter, T. Salmon, Sir I.
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Hurd, Sir P. A. Salt, E. W.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Hutchison, G. C. Samuel, M. R. A.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Jarvis, Sir J. J. Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Christie, J. A. Jennings, R. Schuster, Sir G. E.
Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grimtead) Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Selley, H. R.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Shakespeare, G. H.
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Sheppereon, Sir E. W.
Colman, N. C. D. Keeling, E. H. Snadden, W. McN.
Colville, Rt. Hon. John Kellett, Major E. O. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Kerr, Sir John Graham (Sco'sh Univs.) Storey, S.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Kimball, L. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Lamb, Sir J. Q. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Craven-Ellis, W. Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)
Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H, Page Leech, Sir J. W. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Crooke, Sir J. Smedley Leighton, Major B. E. P. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Cross, R. H. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Sutcliffe, H.
Crossley, A. C. Liddall, W. S. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Crowder, J. F. E. Lindsay, K. M. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Davidson, Viscountess Lipson, D. L. Thomas, J. P. L
Denman, Hon. R. D. Llewellin, Colonel J. J. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Denville, Alfred Looker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S. Thorneycroft, G. E. P.
Donner, P, W. Loftus, P. C. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Dorman-Smith, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir R. H. Lucas, Major Sir J. M. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Dower, Lieut.-Col. A. V. G. M'Connell, Sir J. Turton, R. H.
Drewe, C. McCorquodale, M. S. Wakefield, W. W.
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Duggan, H. J. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Duncan, J. A. L. McEwen, Cast. J. H. F. Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Dunglass, Lord McKie, J. H. Warrender, Sir V.
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Macnamara, Lieut.-Colonel J. R. J. Wayland, Sir W. A.
Ellis, Sir G. Manningham-Buller, Sir M. Webbe, Sir W. Harold
Emery, J. F. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Emmott, C. E. G. C. Markham, S. F. Wells, Sir Sydney
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Marsden, Commander A. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Entwistle, Sir C. F. Maxwell, Hon. S. A. Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Erskine-Hill, A. G. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Everard, Sir William Lindsay Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel C.
Fleming, E. L. Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge) Womersley, Sir W. J
Fox, Sir G. W. G. Morris-Jones, Sir Henry Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Fremantle, Sir F. E Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Wragg, H.
Furness, S. N. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Fyfe, D. P. M. Munro, P. York, C.
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C. Nicholson, G. (Farnham) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Gower, Sir R. V. Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Captain Waterhouse and
Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Orr-Ewing, I. L. Captain Dugdale.
Acland, Sir R. T. D. Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Bartlett, C. V. O.
Adams, D. (Consett) Ammon, C. G. Batey, J.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Banfield, J. W. Beaumont, H. (Batley)
Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford) Barnes, A. J. Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.
Adamson, W. M. Barr, J. Bevan, A.
Broad, F. A. Henderson, T, (Tradeston) Pritt, D. N.
Buchanan, G. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Quibell, D. J. K.
Burke, W. A Isaacs, G. A. Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)
Charleton, H. C. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Chater, D. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Ridley, G.
Collindridge, F. John, W. Riley, B.
Cove, W. G. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Ritson, J.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Jones, A. G. (Shipley) Roberts, W. (Cumberland. N.)
Daggar, G. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Robinson, W. A. (St. H[...])
Dalton, H. Kirby, B. V. Shinwell, E.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Kirkwood, D. Silkin, L.
Dobbie, W. Leach, W. Simpson, F. B.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Lee, F. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)
Ede, J. C. Leonard, W. Sloan, A.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Logan, D. G. Smith, E. (Stoko)
Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Lunn, W. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr, R. T. H. Macdonald, G. (Ince) Sorensen, R. W.
Gallacher, W. McEntee, V. La T. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Gardner, B. W. McGhee, H. G. Stokes, R. R.
Garro Jones, G. M. MacLaren, A. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Maclean, N. Thurtle, E.
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Marshall, F. Tinker, J.J
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Messer, F. Tomlinson, G.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Morgan, J. (York, W.R.. Doncaster) Viant, S. P.
Grenfell, D. R. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Walkins, F. C.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddlsbro, W.) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N) Watson, W. McL.
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Nathan, Colonel H. L. Walsh, J. C.
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Naylor, T. E. Westwood, J.
Groves, T. E. Noel-Baker, P. J Whitelty, W. (Blaydon)
Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.) Oliver, G. H. Wilkinson, Ellen
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Paling, W. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Hardie, Agnes Parker, J. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Harris, Sir P, A. Parkinson, J. A. Windsor, W. (Hull, C)
Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Pearson, A. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Hayday, A. Pethick-Lswrenoe, Rt. Hon. F. W. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Poole, C. C. TELLERS POR THE NOES. —
Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Price, M. P. Mr. Anderson and Mr. Mathers

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

11.3 p.m.

Mr. T. Williams

Consistently throughout the Committee and Report stages of the Bill, we have expressed our point of view on the six items embodied in the Measure. On the Second Reading we did not oppose the ideaof subsidising as a purely emergency measure, and we are also not opposed to the provision of £ 1,250,000 for the purposes of an agricultural machinery reserve, again as a purely emergency measure. But on the question of price insurance for oats, barley and sheep, we were doubtful from the first, in the absence of any costing system or basis of financial calculation, as to the wisdom of Parts I, II and III of the Bill. From the very beginning we have had no figures, facts or calculations to guide us as to whether the oat susbsidy is generous, super-generous or less than generous, and every hon. Member in the House would have to vote blindly if he had to vote for or against Clauses 1 to 8.

The Minister and several of his hon. Friends have said from time to time that there is a scheme of price insurance. There is no such thing as price insurance in a scheme of this description. It is a price guarantee once the standard price falls below 8s. a cwt. There are no premiums paid; therefore, it cannot be an insurance scheme. While the Treasury guarantee the price if it falls below 8s., they do not recoup themselves if it goes above 10s. The same observations apply to barley and sheep. Therefore, these three schemes are merely financial guarantees to the producers of those commodities. We have had no basis of calculations as to how the Minister determines the cost to the Treasury. We know no more about the matter than we did before the Second Reading.

Clause 9 is an extraordinary Clause, and an extremely dangerous precedent. I can imagine, if the mining industry, the shipping industry, or some other industry had suffered a setback, from causes over which they had no control, and a Labour Government had introduced a Bill to grant a subsidy of £ 3,000,000, what howls of execration there would have been from the Conservative benches, condemning the dangerous precedent of making retrospective payments. Here, this Government is creating such a precedent for the crop of oats and barley for 1938. We do not know whether the farmer was efficient or not; whether the land was cultivated to the best advantage or not. All we know is that, because the farmers became unruly, the Government dismissed the Minister of Agriculture and appointed another, who was compelled to do something for that section of farmers who produced barley and oats. He was compelled to introduce not only the Clauses dealing with the future, but also Clause 9, which is retrospective. To say the least, it smells badly of politics. It envisages another General Election, and is not far removed from Tammany politics. The Mortgage Corporation is dealt with in the Measure. We cast a vote against that, and I will not dwell on it now.

This Bill may, because there is so much potential money behind it, do a certain amount of good in certain parts of the country, but the principles of the Bill are very unsound. When I recall the Debate that took place from 4 o'clock to 7 o'clock this evening, when hon. Members opposite refused point-blank even to make a gesture to the agricultural labourers although they are so ready to make payments to the farmers, both for the future and for the past, I feel that it does not redound to their credit that they should be so anxious to help farmers and so unwilling to help agricultural labourers. I could very readily cast half a dozenvotes against the Bill but because we are not anxious to prevent either the Minister or the Conservative Government from falling into the grave that they are digging for themselves, we shall not oppose the Third Reading.

11.11 p.m.

Mr. Boothby

The hon. Member has talked about Tammany politics and suggested that the Measure had been introduced for the purposes of the next election. I started an agitation for a subsidy on oats long ago, in fact even before the last election. It is seven years since my hon. Friend the Member for Central Aberdeen (Sir R. W. Smith) and myself first raised this question— seven years of hard labour— to get a square deal for oat growers. I rise for the purpose of thanking and congratulating my right hon. Friend on the Measure that he has successfully piloted through. I maintain, whatever the hon. Member opposite may say, that if you are going to subsidise one form of cereal crops it is only fair to subsidise all. For the last four, five or six years I have seen subsidised wheat from England sold in the markets of my own constituency in unfair competition with oats, which is the only cereal crop in my constituency. [Interruption.] What I am arguing is that it is quite unfair to select arbitrarily one cereal crop and subsidise it heavily at the expense of the taxpayers and leave out all other cereal crops, because there are many farmers in many parts of the country who, for reasons over which they have no control, cannot possibly grow wheat.

The hon. Member asked whether this subsidy was excessively generous or not generous enough. I suggest that it is fair, and I think it will be found to be so. I would also suggest that to use the word "subsidy" in connection with these special payments in respect of certain classes of agricultural produce is as much a misnomer as to use the word "insurance." I do not believe that these payments are either subsidy or insurance. They are the price very properly paid under existing conditions by the general taxpayers to the agricultural community for the benefit of cheap food for the working classes from all over the world.

While Members opposite are entitled to criticise from time to time any given payment in respect of any given agricultural commodity, they are entirely wrong to oppose the whole of these grants in principle because, if they were not paid under present conditions, and if foreigners were allowed to dump their surplus from all over the world without let or hindrance, within a matter of two or three years the agricultural industry would be down and out, and I do not think they would wish to see that any more than Members on this side. Thus the Scottish oat grower at long last has got a square deal and, whatever criticism may come from the party opposite, it will be many a long year before the essential features of this Measure are removed from the Statute Book.

11.15 p.m.

Mr. Quibell

I was wondering, when the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) was speaking, what had happened with regard to wheat, and what would have been the condition of the wheat growers of this country if something had not been done for them. While the state of depression in Scotland may have been great, it must be generally recognised by anyone who knows anything about the East Anglian wheat grower that he has also been in a very depressed condition.

Mr. Boothby

I have never suggested that the East Anglian wheat growers ought not to have had the subsidy, but I said that my oat growers ought to have had it.

Mr. Quibell

I accept that explanation. We are now considering the Third Reading of this so-called Agricultural Development Bill. The introduction of the Government's long-term agricultural policy has been repeatedly urged from all sides of this House, and I gather, from the discussion which has taken place, that on all sides, and particularly on this side, none of us is particularly satisfied with the result of the introduction of this Bill. I express the hope that it may bring such prosperity and confidence to this great industry as will secure for the toilers in rural England that standard of life which, we are agreed, their skill and industry merit.

I propose to offer a few comments on the proposals in the Bill. The Minister claims that it will secure stabilised prices for the three commodities mentioned, and I hope that that will be the case. I feel, however, that I must reiterate the statement I have made on several occasions in this House, and which has been made by hon. Members on one side or the other here to-day, that this Bill, which the Minister has stated would be the final Bill dealing with agricultural commodities, by no means represents the final solution of agriculture and the countryside. If we could achieve this result, we should have gone a long way towards arresting the constant drift from the countryside to the towns, thus depriving agriculture of its best men. When a recision takes place it also increases as a consequence the unemployment problem in the large industrial centres. This drift from the villages to the towns is largely caused by the low wage system, bad housing and a lack of proper social amenities in our villages. For that reason, we have not yet been able to promote a properly balanced agricultural economy, and, in so far as this Bill is a serious attempt to fix a price level for certain commodities, it will be welcomed by the agricultural areas of the country.

We must stop this drift from the countryside. It can be done in a satisfactory manner only by securing for the worker higher wage standards, better housing and other social amenities, and this can be placed on a secure foundation only by giving to the producer a proper and economic price for his produce. The farm worker has received constant and continuous service from me for over 20 years both in this country and in this House, and I shall continue to serve him until his wage level is raised at least to that of the general labourer. Figures have been quoted during the Debates on the Bill with respect to the wills which indicated that some farmers have done fairly well. In my division recently one farmer left £ 65,000. Like every farmer and everybody else who passes on, he had to leave behind him all that he had.

Mr. MacLaren

If he took it with him it would melt.

Mr. Quibell

One would think from the remarks that are made that it is a bigger sin for a farmer to leave £ 65,000 than for anybody else to leave that amount. The banker who toils not, neither does he spin, makes money; but the farmer must not or should not. That man gave a lifetime of service. He was one of the best farmers in England, farming two farms. He had been a farmer between 40 and 50 years. I have no complaint to make of any farmer in such circumstances provided he pays proper wages and farms on a high standard. I considersuch a man as one of the greatest friends to the country. On the other hand there are men who would be prominent if there were a standard price for rubbish. The gentleman in question made his money out of good farming.

Mr. MacLaren

Why subsidise him?

Mr. Quibell

Why subsidise us in coming here? He was an exceedingly good farmer. I never knew a better. He was a knowledgeable man. During the last five years he sent me his balance sheets, which I have in my locker, showing that he was losing money. He gave up farming three years before his death, and he had been losing money year after year. [Interruption.] It would be a bad job if men like him died early. Other people might well be spared. He kept proper books and accounts and had prepared proper balance sheets. From my own experience of him I know that he was a very efficient farmer.

Something has been said about costs. Let me submit something that comes near home. I have balance sheets for the past five years for my own Co-operative Society's farms. We have two of the best farms. There are no farms better equipped. A committee with practical farming experience looks after the management and there is a manager second to none. These are the results. In 1935 there was a loss of £ 239 7s. 5d.; in 1936, a profit of £ 35 8s. 2½ d— some result for farming nearly 800 acres— in 1937, a profit of £ 225 16s. 8d.; in 1938, a profit of £ 91 16s. 10d.; and in 1939, a loss of £467 10s. 10½ d. — a net loss for the five years of £ 353. I am bound to accept these figures; anyone must accept them; they are beyond question. As a matter of fact, we have had these farms for nearly 20 years, and as far as the opinion of the farming committee and many others is concerned, if you ask whether farming pays and whether any costing system can bring a profit into a balance sheet which is not there, they will say that it cannot be done because farming is at the mercy of the elements, the vagaries of the seasons, to such an extent that a farmer never knows when he plants what he is going to reap. I do not think that my friends of the Labour party are really against the principles of the Bill. It may be that they are dissatisfied with the details, but I hold in my hands a pamphlet which we issued only last week saying what the Labour party would do. I hope they will, I am proud of what is their declared intention: To pay stabilised prices for farm produce so that a fanner may know in advance just what he is going to get. I do not disagree with that; none of us disagrees with it; and so we say that to the limited extent to which this Bill fulfils that intention, it must make a contribution in the direction indicated in the pamphlet. The value of the Bill is that it establishes for the first time a standard price for three agricultural commodities. The principle of the Bill of standard prices, has been accepted by us in that pamphlet.

Farming is a balanced process of production which you can easily overspecialise and upset. Mixed, and not specialised, farming is the only method of agriculture for this old country of ours. No industry is so subject to price fluctuation due in some measure to unorganised marketing, chiefly caused by the small producer, the vagaries of nature and the world price of agriculture products. (Interruption). I hope the hon. Member will give me the same order as I gave him.

Mr. T. Williams

Will the hon. Member allow me —

Mr. Quibell

I think I have the Floor of the House. There is, therefore, in my view an overwhelming case for bringing the products covered by the Bill, oats barley and sheep, into some scheme for ensuring minimum prices for these products. To plough up grass land may be a good thing, but after it has been ploughed up it is essential that, as far as the products are concerned, there should be a price level put on them. I want to remind the Minister that the imposition of fines and penalties for growing certain products, restrictions and marketing are considerations which he should bear in mind in dealing with the problem of ploughing up grass land.

The first time I was privileged to speak in the House, I appealed to all sections of the House to pool their resources in a common endeavour to remedy the appalling conditions which then prevailed in the countryside. That was ten years ago. I do so once more, and I trust that, by our united efforts, we may rebuild this industry on a more secure foundation so that it may give a higher standard of life to the labourers and a fair return to all those who invest either their lives or money in this all-important and vital industry.

11.31 p.m.

Mr. Snadden

I do not wish to take up the time of the House for more than a few minutes, particularly as I had an opportunity of speaking in the Second Reading Debate and in the Committee upstairs, but I should like to make one or two observations on the Bill before it goes to another place. I am afraid that we Scotsmen are sometimes not too lavish in our praise, but I think I can say that the Scottish farmers do appreciate the very earnest efforts that are being made by the Minister of Agriculture and the Secretary of State for Scotland to bring settled conditions to the agricultural industry. I would not like it to be felt that the Scottish farmers do not appreciate that. Moreover, I think I can also say that they are very sensible of the many difficulties which confront the Minister.

With regard to the Bill, I should like to make two observations. First, I think that in the cereals section of the Bill, the Minister will attain his object, and in so doing, he will render a great service. Apparently hon. Members opposite have convinced themselves that when the Bill becomes law the fanners will wax fat on a rich feast of subsidies. I think that is very far from being the case. All that the Bill does is to put a bottom in the market and to give something on which to fall back should prices collapse. It does not guarantee a profit. With regard to the sheep section of the Bill, I appreciate the intention of the Minister to put a bottom into the market for sheep. I feel that there is some confusion about this part of the Bill. The point I wish to make from the Scottish point of view is really a national one. I do not know whether hon. Members realise that the true source of our sheep supplies is to be found on the high hills. There is the nursery from which the fertile valleys and plains draw their supplies, and here Scotland is interlinked with England, because we supply the half bred sheep for the English pastures.

I am a little apprehensive whether any benefit which may come from this scheme will in practice find its way to the key men on the high hills, who are the source of our supplies. If the high hill men, who are the key men, are not to get any benefit, then sooner or later there will be no sheep in Scotland. I ask the Minister, when he makes a review of the position at some future date and goes into the question of where the subsidy goes, to consider the position of the men at the source of our sheep supplies in Scotland. The last point I wish to make is in regard to the imposition of a "ceiling" figure in connection with the sheep section of the Bill. The figure is fixed on a basis of total sheep population, and it is variable with price levels. I have two complaints to make about that. One is that of the total sheep population, less than one-half can ever come under the scheme at all. The other is that price levels are governed largely by the volume of imports. I again ask the Minister, when the situation is being reviewed after the Measure has been put into operation, to consider the practicability of imposing a ceiling figure based on the actual number of sheep presented for certification, and variable only by reason of any excessive supply coming from the home producer. I think it is reasonable that the home producer should have first place in his own market.

11.37 p.m.

Sir R. Acland

I cannot help feeling that, as a general rule, when a speech made from this side of the House is received with whole-hearted applause from the other side, it is a sign that somebody has gone astray. I have in my short experience noticed that a certain number of agriculturists have the idea that the whole duty of a politician is to see how much money can be provided for agriculture. I have also found a certain number of candidates and speakers of the Opposition parties who thought that if they could make speeches more Tory than the Tories, then the agriculturists would reward them with votes. I believe that to be a complete misconception. We have voted for the Second Reading of the Bill and we intend to vote for the Third Reading in support of the principle contained in the Bill which was described by the Minister in the words "Something must be done for the farmers." The Minister cannot complain that we have not tried to do even more for the long-term interests of agriculture by the Amendments which we put down, and none of which he has been able to accept. But I cannot help feeling disappointed with the Bill as it stands.

For year after year under one Minister after another temporary Measures have been introduced and, as in the case of the Milk Bill, reintroduced, and over and over again we have been assured that each one is positively the last temporary expedient. One Minister after another has given us the impression that there was great mental concentration going on behind the scenes, and that a great permanent policy for agriculture was being devised. This year a new Minister was. vouchsafed to us with a tremendous flourish of trumpets and we were told that all this Governmental cerebration was coming to a head under his administration. He made a speech in response to a private Member's Motion in which great things were promised to us. No Minister has ever started with more good will from the industry or from both sides of the House. Expectations were kept up from month to month. We were told that the Government were thinking, that they were consulting, that they were investigating, that they were turning over every conceivable stone. Then we had, at long last, the Second Reading of this Bill which the Minister introduced in these words: I think the House will agree that the Bill covers so wide and varied a field, and that it may well give Members an opportunity of examining our agricultural policy as a whole. Then at the end of an interesting speech he said: Our policy aims at restoring agriculture to a state of permanent stability and well- being which will enable it to fulfil its proper part in our national life." — [OFFICIALREPORT, 15th June, 1939; cols. 1561 and 1589, Vol. 348.] On 11th July, on the Committee stage upstairs, the Minister of Pensions said: This Bill is only a temporary Measure to deal with the present situation, and is not the occasion to go into the big question." — [OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee D), 11th July, 1939; col. 179.] The Minister of Agriculture himself today said that this Bill must be regarded as no more than just a finishing-off of the patching process which has been going on for eight years. The Bill does not touch marketing or the grading of produce, it does not help our home industry to catch up with the twentieth century methods of marketing which our competitors have learned, it does not reduce the cost of production of any agricultural product by a single penny piece, it does not prevent the abuse of land by those who do not cultivate it properly, it does not touch the vested interests who batten on the farmer, whether in selling to or in buying from him, there is no insistence that a single penny should be passed on to the worker, and we have not been allowed to prevent the whole of the benefit from the Bill being passed on to the landlord. All the great problems still remain. There have been eight years of Governmental thought, and still all the great problems of agriculture remain unsolved. I hope that the Minister realises that if he is to go down to history as the man who really brought British agriculture round the corner from its position of difficulty, before very long he will have to do something very much better than anything that we have before us to-night.

11.42 p.m.

Captain Heilgers

I am sorry the hon. Member for Brigg (Mr. Quibell) has gone out, because I should like to have expressed to him my congratulations on his courage in exposing the farming losses of Co-operative Societies. I, too, having seen the balance-sheet, of Co-operative Societies farms, and know that in what he said he spoke the honest truth.

Mr. J. Morgan

I also am sorry my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg (Mr. Quibell) has gone out, but he did tell me that they had paid 4 per cent. on the members capital in each of those farms before the final figures were struck in all the accounts.

Captain Heilgers

The figure which the hon. Member gave of £ 453 loss last year was not one which would encourage people to farm to-day. I want, however, to refer to one problem which has had very little attention during the passage of this Bill, and that is the question of barley. I regret very much that no definite scheme for barley has been decided upon, and I want to ask the Minister to be careful, when he is dealing with the scheme for this year, that he makes allowance for the heavy carryover of barley that has been left from last year. I want further to ask him, when he is dealing with the scheme which I anticipate will come into operation the year after next— the minimum quantity scheme— to make sure that the percentage of English barley used in the mash tun is as high as possible. I say that because although the brewers have used in the last three years 54, 57, and 64 per cent, respectively of the English barley crop, and that is quite a creditable effort on their part, in keeping with the gentleman's agreement, yet even when they used 64 per cent, of the English barley available, that was not sufficient, and a much bigger percentage will have to be used in the mash tun if justice is to be done to the English barley grower. We in East Anglia are very grateful to the Minister for what he has done to give us price insurance for the three commodities of oats, barley, and sheep, which have been particularly hard hit in the course of the last year. They are all commodities which affect the light land farmer, and I believe that this Bill will bring very good results to both the farmer and the farm worker.

11.45 p.m.

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

I think the Government have every reason to be satisfied with the general reception of this Bill, not only by this House but by the agricultural organisations and the agricultural press. I should like to take the opportunity of thanking the Opposition for the assistance they have given in getting the Bill through the House in so short a time. I am not going to say that they have spared us in their criticisms, but there has been no attempt to "stonewall" the Measure, because I think they realise that something must be done for agriculture. The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) did not like the phrase "price insurance" but I think the price insurance within the level of the limits we have tried to strike in the Bill is the type of price insurance which the public would be prepared to pay in order to keep agriculture going and maintain our acreage under the plough, and at this time especially we have felt that it was a real duty for us to do so.

It has been said by the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir R. Acland) that the measures taken in the Bill are only temporary and probably do not mean very much. I can tell him that so long as this Government is in power they will be permanent. On more than one occasion it has been said that there are dangers in putting on these subsidies, because a calamity may come which would cause the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say that no more could be paid out under them, but I do not think that will be so, because 1 believe the country does now realise what agriculture means to it and how vital a part it plays in our general economy. If in a time of economic stress agriculture were the only industry which had been guaranteed a profit out of State funds the public might, indeed, consider that that was a little hard, but by these subsidies we are not guaranteeing a profit, only trying to save our farmers from the type of losses which, had they continued, would cripple farming. We hope to enable them to get their profits by other means than subsidies, that is, by trying to correlate the supply to the demand— which is a feature of the programme of the party opposite— the proper regulation of imports, and so on. We are also trying to bring about such efficiency measures as will be of real help to farmers. The hon. Member for Barn-staple does not admit that there are any, but if he scratches a little deeper below the surface he will find that genuine efficiency measures are at work.

We again express the hope that the Bill will give confidence to agriculture, and that, in conjunction with the other measures which have been taken, it will enable farmers to face the future with confidence, which is essential to the industry. I also hope— indeed, I go beyond hope— that it is going to assist the agricultural worker to get his fair share of the benefits. If we can do this then, indeed, we shall have cause to be satisfied.