HC Deb 19 June 1939 vol 348 cc1959-74

11.0 p.m.

Mr. Burgin

I beg to move, in page 4, line 34, to leave out from the first "of," to "or," in line 35, and to insert: stocks of that article or of any other article which can conveniently be used for or in connection with the production of that article. This Clause is the Clause which deals with stores. You can avoid excessive use of shipping, as the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. E. Smith) has just asked, very largely by building up stores in advance, and you can build up stores by several ways. You can take the stores on Government account, keeping them in Government warehouses, or you can encourage industry to carry rather greater stocks and stores than in normal times. It may well be that a combination of both methods is the most sensible to adopt. The Clause as drafted refers to industrialists storing articles which they deal in or normally use, and it has come to my knowledge that in a great many manufactories there is usually an alternative supply of raw materials; so besides asking the manufacturer to store the article that he normally uses, I want him to have power to store the article that he only abnormally uses. I want the alternative articles to be stored as well. One of the instances would be sulphuric acid, which you can make either from pyrites or from sulphur, and I want power for a manufacturer of sulphuric acid to be able to store a stock of either of those commodities. There is no guile in this Amend- ment. It is merely a redrafting which widens the power of storage to enable an industrialist to keep more than one raw material instead of merely the material in which he normally deals.

11.2 p.m.

Mr. Garro Jones

Before we assent to any extension of this power, I shall be glad if the Minister will tell us what safeguard he proposes to introduce against the making of a profit on these transactions. I am sorry to have to mention a word which is generally so unpopular on the other side, but suppose a firm lays in a vast stock of commodities and they appreciate in value. What is the position then? On the other hand, suppose they depreciate in value. The usual procedure would be that if they depreciated, the firm would come to the Minister to reimburse them for their losses, but if they appreciate in value, the Minister never takes any share of the, profits. Surely it is not sufficient to give a bare power to the Minister to make grants or loans to enable manufacturers all over the country to carry increased stocks of every kind of commodity without making some provision for the method by which the accounts are to be kept as between the Minister and the manufacturer. I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman has some very good ideas on the point, but I am afraid that such ideas, unless carefully checked by the Committee, will operate to the benefit of the holders of the stocks rather than of the Government Department. It seems to me that this is the very first question that arises on this Clause and one to which the Minister might have given some attention.

11.4 p.m.

Mr. Burgin

The hon. Member quite rightly said that such considerations might arise on the Clause, but they do not arise on this Amendment. On the Clause as a whole they may very likely be apt. All that I am asking is that instead of stocks in which a manufacturer deals, it should be any stocks of that article or of any other article which can conveniently be used. I pointed out that my desire in moving this slight Amendment was to give rather greater powers, and no question of accounts or of losses or gains arises on the Amendment, as such.

Mr. Garro Jones

If the Minister were asking in the Clause for £4 and then proposed an Amendment in which he asked for £6, surely we should be entitled to ask him why he asked for £4 or £6. He is asking for an extension of powers which have not been approved, and before we give him any extension which would commit us to the principle of giving powers at all we are entitled to ask for safeguards.

11.6 p.m.

Mr. Gallacher

Is it not possible that firms might confine their profiteering to goods covered by the term "any other article"? It might not be the article that the Ministers desires, but "any other article" essential to its production. When the Minister suggests that there may be stores of these other articles in the hands of potential profiteers we suggest that they should be controlled in such a way that huge fortunes may not be made out of them as was the case in the last War.

Mr. Pritt

I should like to put a point which will apply to the Clause whether it be amended or un amended. I think the Minister will agree that the Clause is intended to provide, on any reasonable construction, that the Minister will have no interest whatever in the stocks and no authority under the Clause to pay people money in respect of their losses or to ask them for subscriptions in respect of their profits. I understand that is the clearly expressed policy, but I should like the Minister to consider the natural tendency when there is any form of storing for there to be a large increase in the value of the goods held, generally far offsetting the cost of storage and interest.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

In page 4, line 36, leave out "thereof," and insert "of that article or such other article."

In line 37, leave out "so held," and insert "held by him."—[Mr. Burgin.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Garro Jones

Will the Minister now be good enough to give us some explanation upon the point which I raised previously?

Mr. Burgin

I am indebted to the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) who, I think, has rightly divined the intention of this Clause. The operations which I foresee under this Clause—though I do not want it to be taken that my explanation is completely exhaustive and I will look into the matters which have been raised—are these: that in addition to the power to acquire and the power to store already given by Clause 2 it would be desirable that industry generally, either of its own volition or by inducement, should carry much greater stocks than it normally would carry, and carry, very likely, in this country. There are some great international concerns which could carry stocks on either side of the Atlantic, and it may be that if freight were paid or storage charge ware paid or an interest charge or some financial arrangement were made whereby there was, not a loss merely on movement of the material, it might be a sensible arrangement that stocks greatly in excess of the normal should be carried in this country, and to that extent render any convoy arrangements less necessary in time of emergency. My idea was that as there are certain stocks which will require to be turned over, taken out and put back, it would be reasonable that, where an industrialist was carrying a great stock of that kind, because he knew it was the Government's wish that he should, the indemnity for turning the material over should be paid by the State. My contemplation is that the sort of payment that is made gives no sort of interest whatever in the ownership of the stock, and no interest in its accretion or its fall, but merely a power to indemnify the industrialist against either an extra freight, an extra warehousing or an extra storage. If the Clause has a wider power, I will look into it and inform the House later, but on the information before me that is the full extent of the powers intended to be attributed by the Clause.

11.12 p.m.

Mr. Pritt

I am obliged to the Minister for putting more clearly than I did the view I formed of the Clause, and in that view it is a most dangerous Clause in the natural operation of commercial motives, we will say. People will be considering at some stage whether it will be a profitable enterprise to store goods, or carry a larger stock, not only in the hope of selling them but also in the hope of reaping, possibly, an immense profit on the turnover when the emergency comes and when honour and freedom are at stake no price is too high for the goods you are selling. The joke is not original but it is a good one. This really makes it worse, because it says to the section of the commercial community which might naturally be embarking on such storage, "All you have to do if you want to make a little more is this. Get together and decide to let the Government understand that you are not encouraged to store. Our heart bleeds for our country and our dividends and we feel we would like to do some storage, but would you please buy the warehouse for us?"The Government says, "We are so sorry to think they cannot build their own warehouses. We will build them for them." When the Government has built the warehouses, which will probably become their property, they will proceed to put the stuff into them at £1 a ton and it will come out in six months' time, when the Government's foreign policy has caused a war, and they will sell it at about £1 a ton. Nothing whatever of that profit will come, in any shape or form, to the country, except, of course, that at some stage, towards the end, of the War, the Government will pass something in the nature of an Excess Profits Duty legislation. This Clause, nicely and truthfully explained by the Minister, should be called not Payments by Ministerfor creation of reserves but "Additional provisions for ramp."

11. 16 p.m.

Mr. Harold Macmillan

The explanation which has been given by my right hon. Friend will, I hope, at a later stage, be supplemented by a little more detail about the exact wording of the Clause. We all understood under a previous Clause that the Government had power to purchase and store articles of any kind. This Clause would be quite clear if it were entitled: "Improvement of facilities, etc., storage." I understood my right hon. Friend to say that what he had in contemplation was the actual keeping of goods, either in this or in another country and not the augmentation of stock or the financing of enter- prise, and not the sharing in the risks of loss or the making of profits, according to the ultimate price at which the goods were sold.

This Clause is very widely drawn, and it would be very helpful to businesses if we could have by the Report stage a little more detailed account of how this very general Clause is intended to work. I happen to know that a number of enterprises are anxious to co-operate with the Government on the Clause, and not to do the nefarious things to which the hon. and learned Gentleman has just referred, in his allusions to private enterprise. The Clause may be expected to do useful work, because in addition to the powers which the Government will acquire on their own account, there will be great importance in the storage of the different ranges of commodities which are ordinarily produced in commercial work which the Government would not be able to buy or store, or even to know much about in the ordinary way. I ask the Minister to give us at a later stage a statement of how the Clause is expected to work, and afford us more protection against the fears which have been expressed.

11.19 p.m.

Mr. Benson

This matter must be very carefully looked into. If an industry increases its stocks at the instance of the Government and then a fall occurs in prices, unless it has been made abundantly clear that the industry is carrying all the risks of price variation, that industry will be in a very strong position to come to the Government and say that it is entitled to some compensation. In those circumstances I do not think that any Government could resist such a demand, unless the position had been made abundantly clear that price variation up or down is at the risk or advantage of the storing industry. It must be made clear that, if price variations downwards are to be met out of Government funds, price variations upwards must flow into the Exchequer. We cannot enter into an arrangement of "Heads the Government lose; tails the storer wins." I hope that between now and Report the Minister will think out some formula which will safeguard, not only the question of ramp, but the equal danger of misconception on the part of storers that they are undertaking the storage at the risk of the Government.

11.21 p.m.

Mr. Lees-Smith

The discussion has revealed a great problem which is raised by the Clause. The Minister has not argued about the problem, but has recited rather casual facts. I think the Committee are entitled to a fuller explanation of how it is proposed to deal with the possible dangers before we part with the Clause.

11.22 p.m.

Mr. Burgin

I am indebted to the Committee for the help they are giving me in regard to this Clause. Hon. Members will appreciate that, when you set up a Ministry and take powers, a conscientious Minister cannot say without due reflection what is the full ambit of those powers. Certain fears have been expressed in regard to these powers, and it would be easy for me to trace those fears to their logical conclusion and find out whether they are misplaced, but for the moment I have only given the reasons for the Clause and the instances it is intended to cover. Some of these transactions have actually occurred, and there are instances where this enabling power is going to prove extremely useful in effecting what we desire, namely, an arrangement that, in return for payment of storage and indemnity, and the charges merely for the actual man-wage cost of handling, an industry will carry, at its risk—nothing could be clearer—certain abnormal stocks of material.

I do not want, across the Table, to give any assurance on which I am not absolutely certain, but I will give the Committee this assurance, that between now and Report I will work out the framework of possibilities under the Clause, and will give the House a series of illustrations showing the different types of cases which would be possible under the Clause. As I conceive it still, the Government do not take an interest in the ownership of the article. [Interruption.] An hon. Member says, "That is just the point," but it has the great advantage that an immense sum of national money may be available for defence instead of for a deal in commodities, and it may very well be, if an industry is patriotic enough to deal with the extra commodities which the Government require, that there are greater national funds left for some more immediate purpose. With that assurance I ask the Committee to accept the Clause as a necessary Clause in the opinion of those who are endeavourng to achieve the very object which hon. Members have in mind, namely, the production of greater supplies, and the Amendment I have moved merely widens it so that it may extend to articles with which industrialists can conveniently deal.

11.24 p.m.

Mr. E. Smith

I should like to ask the Minister a question with regard to what will happen if the Clause is agreed to and the storage is provided for, and the State pays a certain percentage towards the storage. Supposing that the commodity stored is metal, when the State requires that metal, will it, as a result of the payment, have a priority of claim on that metal in preference to ordinary commercial users?

Mr. Burgin

That, of course, is a very proper question, and the position should be made perfectly dear. The hon. Member is quite right. It is no use all these additional stocks being carried by the Ministry, and not being there when the Ministry wants them.

Mr. Pritt

Perhaps the Minister will consider the possibility of express power being taken, where necessary, not only for making a bargain about the availability of stocks, but for making a bargain about the price of stocks?

11.26 p.m.

Mr. Gallacher

I am not at all satisfied with the Minister's statement. He asked, why should we spend money on commodities when patriotic employers are pre pared to supply the necessary storage? When the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) spoke about the possibility of commercial trickery and profiteering, an hon. Member below the Gangway said he did not think the commercial interests would engage in those nefarious enterprises. But we have experience, and very rich experience— though not so rich for us as for those who profiteered. I would remind the Committee that the Minister and those associated with him are very anxious to en courage profiteering—

The Deputy-Chairman

That is quite out of order. The imputation of unworthy motives cannot be allowed.

Mr. Gallacher

I will try to make good any remarks I may make. We have in this Clause provision for storage, or the improvement of the facilities available for the storage of goods. The Minister is empowered to make a grant for the erection of new premises for storage purposes. But it is not long since a proposal was made by a firm to produce commodities on a non-profit basis. The Minister who was responsible, when he opposed the proposal at that Box, gave as one of his strongest arguments against it that if the offer were accepted our first responsibility would have been the building of additional facilities for producing the commodities concerned. So, because there was an offer to produce on a non profit basis, the Government refused to give it any consideration.

The Deputy-Chairman

I would remind the hon. Member that he is going beyond the Clause. He is discussing the production of goods.

Mr. Gallacher

But you must agree that the principle is the same. The principle involved is the improvement of facilities. The Government refuse to give grants for additional facilities where there are no profits, but are prepared to give grants for additional facilities where profits are to be obtained. I suggest that, while at the moment it might save the Government spending money in the buying of commodities, if the Government used their money to erect the necessary premises on their own account, and not to erect premises for a private employer or for the big combines, who can and will, in such circumstances, push up prices— if the Government were to use this money to erect their own premises and increase facilities for storage under their control, I guarantee that later on the saving that would be obtained would repay them over a hundredfold for the money that they had spent. That would save us from spending money in buying commodities.

At the moment the Government are spending money, but think of what they will have to spend later on when the Minister has to get his commodities under conditions such as I visualise, where you have all the centres for the storage of commodities formed into a powerful combine charging their own prices. I say to the Minister and to this Committee that if money is to be spent as suggested in this Clause for the erection of premises for storage purposes, the Government themselves should spend it in building their own storage centres. In no circumstances should this Committee allow, or even contemplate for a moment, public money to be used to build new premises for private employers, so that they can store goods for the specific purpose of making large profits later on. That is, obviously, the direct path to the worst kind of profiteering—profiteering not even on their own capital but on capital supplied by the Ministry. The Committee must object to that.

Mr. Pritt

On a point of Order. May I ask for your Ruling, Colonel Clifton Brown? I think that you ruled that the Clause was designed to encourage storage, and not production. Will you look at the words: The Minister may … make payments by way of grant or loan— (a) to any person producing, dealing in or having control of any article … for the purpose of inducing the augmentation of the stock. Does not that really amount to this, that you may encourage people actually to produce more goods as long as you are encouraging them to produce more goods for the purpose of carrying on storage?

The Deputy-Chairman

As a matter of fact, that is correct. I was perhaps a little hard when I gave my Ruling, and I am much obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman.

11.33 p.m.

Mr. Poole

I should like the Minister to clear up one point on this Clause. What check has he on the usage of the accommodation which is provided either by way of grant or loan from the Treasury? Has he any method of control and of assuring that it shall be used only for a specific purpose? May I put this proposition which, I think, he will appreciate by virtue of his late position as Minister of Transport. I gather that one of the bodies that he will be able to assist by way of grant or loan will be the railway companies, and that one of the articles of stock which the railway companies may be required to increase in order to provide the necessary accommodation for increased commodities may be rolling stock. Will the Minister tell us in what way he proposes to safeguard the position that the rolling stock provided under the terms of this Clause shall be used only for the specific purposes for which the grant or loan is provided? It will be exceedingly difficult for the Minister to know exactly what is happening to such a flexible thing as rolling stock. It is undesirable that public money should be expended, and even railway companies subsidised, to provide rolling stock for this specific purpose, and the railway companies be left free to use the stock for whatever purpose they desire.

Mr. Burgin

When we come to Clause 5 the hon. Member will see that there is complete power to obtain returns as to storage facilities and as to the use made of such facilities which will give me the information and control about which he has asked.

11.35 p.m.

Mr. Garro Jones

While I appreciate the expression of intention on the part of the Minister, I am certain that he realises chat that has nothing to do with the effect of the Clause. I hope my hon. Friends will signify their opposition to the proposal. It has been inadequately thought out. Whatever the right hon. Gentleman may think, he need not scoff at my remarks, because he has confessed that it was inadequately thought out, and if he will bear with me I hope to convince him. If this Clause is not administered extremely carefully it will be looked upon as a veritable speculator's dream. If I wanted to buy rubber, I could purchase an enormous quantity by paying to some commodity broker 1 per cent. cover for a month or two months. The same applies to tin and almost every commodity of which the Minister seeks to obtain storage under this Clause.

I came across a case the other day where the Air Ministry had placed a large order for a certain commodity with a certain firm. I will not name them. Later, the order was cancelled and the firm put in a claim against the Air Ministry in respect of the large quantity of commodities which they had laid in stock in order to meet the requirements of the Air Ministry. Naturally, there was a considerable amount of delay while the matter was being discussed, and during that period the commodities appreciated to such an extent that the firm were able to abandon their claim against the Air Ministry because they had made a larger profit on the appreciation of the commodity than they would have made if they had turned the commodities into manufactured goods. So it will be in this; case if the right hon. Gentleman docs not administer the Clause very carefully.

Sir P. Harris

What about losses?

Mr. Garro Jones

I am prepared for the participation of the State in losses as long as they take profits. What I object to —and we have had examples almost every week—is the State shouldering losses and declining positively to participate in the profits. What is the penalty in the Clause? Suppose I go to the Minister and I lay in a stock of 1 tons of rubber or tin and I make a false statement, the penalty is £1. That is a totally inadequate penalty for an offence which may enrich the offender to the extent of £5, or more.

I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to take the Clause back and redraft it in some other form. If he wishes to give some inducement, let him consult the insurance brokers. It might be possible by paying, say, a 1 per cent. underwriting fee to underwrite these commodities against any loss. Ten per cent. should be ample. If he is going to build up vast stocks on the basis of grants or loans, with no security specified for the loan, suppose he lends a firm £2, in order to induce a substantial storage of a certain commodity, and they lay in the stock. Time passes and then these vastly swollen stores are thrown on the market at a loss, and the firm comes to the Minister and says: "We are sorry. You lent us £2,, but we have lost more than that amount on realisation of the stock which you induced us to hold. We are not able to repay that amount." I very much doubt whether the Minister would make a very great fight against that claim. Therefore, I appeal to him to take the Clause back and redraft it. Meanwhile, I hope my hon. Friends will vote against the proposal.

Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 169; Noes, 88.

Division No. 182.] AYES. [11.4 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Goldie, N. B. Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Palmer, G. E. H.
Albery, Sir Irving Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Peake, O
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Gridley, Sir A. B. Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Pilkington, R.
Apsley, Lord Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.) Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Aske, Sir R. W. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H. Ramsbotham, Rt. Hon. H.
Assheton, R. Hambro, A. V. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Hannah, I C. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Baxter, A. Beverley Harmon, Sir P. J. H. Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T P. H. Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle) Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Heilgers, Captain F. F. A, Remer, J. R.
Beechman, N. A. Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Richards, G. W. (Skipton)
Bernays, R. H. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Ropner, Colonel L.
Boulton, W. W. Herbert, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Monmouth) Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Holdsworth, H. Rowlands, G.
Boyce, H. Leslie Holmes, J. S. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.
Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness) Horsbrugh, Florence Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Russell, Sir Alexander
Brawn, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Hunloke, H. P. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Hunter, T. Samuel, M. R. A.
Bull, B. B. Hutchinson, G. C. Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Bullock, Capt. M. James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Selley, H. R.
Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L. Jarvis, Sir J J. Shakespeare, G- H.
Cartland, J. Ft. H. Joel, D. J. B. Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Cary, R. A. Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Kerr, Sir J. Graham (Scottish Univ.) Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Kimball, L. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J
Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead) Lancaster, Captain C. G. Spears, Brigadier-General E. L
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Lees-Jones, J. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Leach, Sir J. W. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Cox, H. B. Trevor Leighton, Major B. E. P. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Craven-Ellis, W. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Sutcliffe, H.
Crooke, Sir J. Smedley Levy, T. Thomas, J. P. L.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Liddall, W. S. Thorneycroft, G. E P.
Crowder, J. F. E. Llewellin, Colonel J. J. Titchfield, Marquess of
Cruddas, Col. B. Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Culverwell, C. T. Loftus, P. C. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. I..
De Chair, S. S. Lyons, A. M. Wakefield, W. W.
Dorman-Smith, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir R. H. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Drewe, C. MacDonald. Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hal!)
Dugdale, Captain T. L. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Duggan, H. J. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Warrender, Sir V.
Duncan, J. A. L. McKie, J. H. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Dunglass, Lord Macnamara, Lieut.-Colonel J. R. J. Watt, Lt.-Col, G. S. Harvie
Eastwood, J. F. Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest Wells, Sir Sydney
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Manningham-Buller, Sir M. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Elliston, Capt. G. S. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Entwistle, Sir C. F. Markham, S. F. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Erskine-Hill, A. G. Medlicott, F. Wise, A. R.
Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Womersley, Sir W. J.
Fildes, Sir H. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) York, C.
Fox, Sir G. W. G. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Fremantle, Sir F. E. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Furness, S. N. Munro, P. Lieut.-Colonel Kerr and Mr.
Fyfe, D. P. M. Nall, Sir J. Grimston.
Gledhill, G. Nicolson, Hon. H. G.
Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Acland, Sir R. T. D. Gallacher, W. Lawson, J. J.
Adams, D. (Consett) Garro Jones, G M. Logan, D. G.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Macdonald, G. Ones)
Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford) George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) McEntee, V. La T.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. McGhee, H. G.
Banfield, J. W. Grenfell, D. R. Maclean, N.
Barr, J. Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Marshall, F.
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Hall. G. H. (Aberdare) Maxton, J.
Benson, G. Harris, Sir P. A. Messer, F.
Bevan, A. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Milner, Major J.
Burke, W. A. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncaster)
Cape, T. Isaacs, G. A. Noel-Baker, P. J.
Cocks, F. S. Jagger, J. Parker, J.
Daggar, G. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Parkinson, J. A.
Dalton, H. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Day, H. John, W. Poole, C. C.
Dobbie, W. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Pritt, D. N.
Ede, J. C. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Ridley, G.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Kirby, B. V. Roberts, W. (Cumberland. N.)
Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales) Kirkwood, D. Robinson. W. A. (SI. Helens)
Fleteher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Lathan, G. Seely, Sir H. M.
Frankel, D. Sexton, T. M.
Silkin, L. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-la-Sp'ng) Wilmot, J.
Silverman, S. S. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Simpson, F. B. Tinker, J. J. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Sloan, A. Watkins, F. C. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe) Watson, W. MoL. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Smith, E. (Stoke) Welsh, J C. Mr. Mathers and Mr. Adamson.
Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly) White, H. Graham
Stephen, C. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)

CLAUSE 5.—(Power to require returns of stocks, etc.)

11.48 p.m.

Mr. Burgin

I beg to move, in page 5, line 7, to leave out "storing."

I will deal with this Amendment and the following Amendment together. I think that with a short explanation, the Committee will agree to accept these Amendments. In the Second Reading Debate, the hon. And learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps), to whom I am indebted, pointed out that this provision could have been better drafted. He pointed out that if we limited the power to get information to the storage of articles which the persons normally dealt in, we should not have the power, for example, to use any railway shed for the storage of wheat. At the time, I intimated to the hon. And learned Gentleman that I thought he had scored a point, and that I would have the matter looked into by the draftsmen. The draftsmen agree with the hon. And learned Gentleman, and therefore, the Clause has been revised to make it entirely general, and by application, I can obtain a return of storage available of a perfectly general character, regardless of the articles for which the building is normally used. That is obviously a sensible power and one that the Committee will desire me to have, and I am indebted to the hon. And learned Member for East Bristol for enabling me to have the matter put right.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

In page 5, line 26, at the end, insert: (3) The Minister may by notice in writing require any person who has under his control accommodation suitable for the storage of any articles required for the public service to make periodical and other returns, at such times and containing such particulars as may be specified in the notice, as respects—

  1. (a) the nature and extent of that accommodation;
  2. (b) the period for which any part of that accommodation is already required and the purpose for which it is required; and
  3. (c)the facilities available for making use of the accommodation."

In line 3, leave out "two," and insert "three."—[Mr. Burgin,]

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.