§ 4.32 p.m.
§ Sir Irving Albery
I beg to move, in page 17, line 39, after "purposes," to insert:and where such facilities are provided by way of short-term loans, the rate of interest charged shall not exceed 1 per cent. over bank rate.The point of this Amendment is obvious. It deals with the rate of interest that should be charged. To make out the case one must understand, or at any rate discuss, what kind of financial assistance can be given under the Clause. When first I saw Clause 24 I thought it was one of the most hopeful Clauses in the Bill. It gives the Government complete power to do almost anything they think necessary to help agriculture to raise quickly the production of foodstuffs in this country. They can provide the necessary appliances and the finance. There is no limit to what they might be able to do if they considered it necessary. So far as I know, it is impossible for any industry, and less possible for agriculture than for any other, to increase its productive capacity without an outlay of capital. I was therefore very disappointed on the Second Reading when I heard the Secretary of State for Scotland limit and qualify the intentions of the Government with reference to the use of the Clause.
He said, among other things, that it was not intended to supersede—I gathered that it was not intended to extend—the sources at present available for short-term credits. I do not know that the present short-term credits have been very widely used. There are difficulties. If it is granted that, in taking a short time to get a bigger agricultural production in 1002 the near future you must put more capital into the industry, it is obvious that further finance must be provided. Perhaps the Minister will argue that many of the Government's proposals, including this Bill and those which have already been passed, will assist the agricultural industry financially. That is true, but more capital for the industry will be provided only in the course of some little time. It will take two or three years before the agricultural industry can be better off financially as a result of the arrangements which the Government have already made. If they want a larger agricultural production in the immediate future the Government have to make it possible for that unfortunately large number of needy farmers in this country to spend the money which is necessary to get the appliances which they need upon a far wider scale than that suggested by the Minister in his Second Reading speech.
On that occasion, the Minister mentioned that such credits as they were prepared to give were to be made on a commercial basis, and he suggested a rate of interest of 5 per cent. I was particularly sorry to hear him say that. Many of us feel, in present conditions when the bank rate is at 2 per cent., that the banks could lend money on good security to farmers at a rate of interest less than that which is allowed at present. If it is to go out from this House from a Minister of the Crown that he regards 5 per cent. as a suitable rate of interest for the Government to arrange for the farming industry, what hope has the ordinary farmer who goes to his banker and asks for his interest to be reduced to 4 per cent. or, where the security is good, to 3½ per cent., a rate which, in some cases, would be quite justifiable?
As to the Amendment, it is difficult for me to see my way clearly, because of your Ruling, Sir Dennis. The Amendment is part of a series, of which one or two are in front of this one and one follows. They really hang together. You have not called some of the earlier Amendments. You possibly judged them to be out of order on the ground that they might increase the charge. I should like respectfully to submit that, in my view—for what it is worth—it is doubtful whether those Amendments would increase the charge. Clause 24, as it is drawn, seems 1003 wide enough to enable the Government to do almost anything it desires in regard to agriculture. If that be so, I can only hope that the Government will reconsider this matter and that, later in these proceedings, we may have a statement from the Government Front Bench that the Government are prepared to make use of Clause 24 to a much wider extent than the Minister mentioned and that 5 per cent. was never intended to be anything like a standard or an example to be followed in other directions. I should like the Committee to bear in mind that, some time ago, it was considered necessary that the railways should do certain work for the public welfare and that a large loan was put out on that occasion and guaranteed by the Government at 2½per cent. At the present moment, we want the agricultural industry to do something for the public welfare, and we should and could give it every possible financial facility.
The last point is, who is to lend this money to the farmers? I suppose that the agricultural committees will sanction the loan and recommend it and then, presumably, the money will be given by the banks, who will get the 5 per cent. If that is to be the procedure, it is practically lending the money at 5 per cent. with a Government guarantee, and therefore, the Government cannot avoid responsibility. If the Government are to provide this money, they should do so on more favorable terms.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Colville
The Clause enables funds to be provided for a scheme, but it does not lay down the scheme. It would be unwise to accept a limiting Amendment, even if the Clause laid down the whole of the rates of interest, because the Clause would then not give sufficient power to enable Ministers to take such action as was necessary. That action would be taken by means of a scheme. The scheme that is in mind for England and Wales does not contemplate a loan of cash, but the purchase by agricultural committees of the requisites necessary for the farmers' ploughing-up campaign or for the financing of services, such as harvesting, that have to be undertaken by outside contractors. In cases where the agricultural committee is satisfied that these services are necessary it enables the 1004 farmer to have them. The farmer has then to make an agreement with his committee regarding repayment.
My hon. Friend expressed the opinion that a rate of interest of 5 per cent. was too high. I am prepared to dispute it. I do not think that, as a commercial rate, it is too high. The difficulty, in my experience, with a farmer or a small business man, is not the 1 per cent. or 2 per cent. of difference in the rate of interest of the loan, but the fact that he cannot get the money or the service at all. The whole purpose of the Clause, and of any scheme made under it, is to get the services performed. My hon. Friend shakes his head. Does he agree?
§ Mr. Colville
If the total cost of the services was £40 or £50 or something of that sort, one would see the importance of being able to get the services carried out or to get the requisite supplies. The Government wish to frame a Clause to enable them to make schemes and to try to meet the clamant and urgent need, and in my view the clamant and urgent need is not the very small amount which would be represented by the difference between 5 and 3½per cent. but the fact of making the services available. So I hope the Clause will not be limited by any limiting Amendment.
§ Mr. Ridley
If the requisite service was a service of labour, and the farmer could not without financial assistance afford to employ the requisite service of labour, how would the Clause help him?
§ Mr. Colville
I was thinking rather of a contractor perhaps providing a tractor. Then it can be done, because the committee can arrange for the service and arrange to be recouped for the amount spent on it. But also it would be largely used, in my judgment, in the provision of equipment for the purpose of the ploughing-up campaign. It is desired that the Scottish farmers, equally with those in England, should be able to overcome any difficulties occasioned by lack of funds and credits, but there are differences between the two countries as regards the law, and also perhaps in banking practice, and in dealing with the farming community banking practice is a little difficult. Discussions with the banks in Scotland are proceeding and, when they get a little further, I shall lay down the 1005 lines of the scheme for Scotland as quickly as I can. A number of banks cater for the small farmer. I am anxious not to dry up sources of credit but to find an opportunity for farmers who cannot, through bad luck, get facilities at all and put them in the position of getting facilities. I hope my hon. Friend will see that to limit the Clause in the way he suggests, though it might on the face of it seem beneficial, would not really be advantageous. We would rather leave it in the way it is left, as wide as possible, to enable the Minister to frame such schemes as may be necessary to help this particular aspect of agriculture.
Mr. De la Bère
My right hon. Friend mentioned facilities. Will he tell us, if these facilities are to be made available, why the little man and the little woman should not receive the facilities together at as low a rate of interest as would be given to other concerns which engage in helping forward the prosecution of the war? Why should they have to pay more? It does not seem equitable. I do not think there is any answer to it but I shall be grateful if he would give me an answer.
§ 4.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Spens
I am bound to say that I share the dissatisfaction of my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery) as to the explanation that he has received in regard to this Clause. I have not the slightest doubt that, as far as the larger farmers are concerned, and those who have financial resources behind them, the Clause will not have any operation whatever. They have probably got their financial arrangements and they are in a condition to carry out what the war agricultural committees require them to carry out without having recourse to the Clause. But what is happening in a county where large estates have changed hands in the last quarter of a century and the farmers are still suffering for the prices that they have paid for their farms and have never been able to earn sufficient to pay off their mortgages? They are being called on to plough up land and do a number of other things, and the question immediately arises how in the world can they do if? Their banks will not give them any other facilities.
§ Mr. Colville
This will in fact enable them to do it. The only point at issue is the rate of interest.
§ Mr. Spens
Their present borrowing facilities are of no use to them whatever. They are still in debt to their banks. In my part of Kent most of them are still up to the hilt in overdrafts, and they are probably in debt to their merchants. Then comes the Clause in this Bill on which we are all relying to help them. It is true that the arrangement is that there is to be finance, provided either direct by the Government or through the banks supported by the Government, in order to secure that there shall be tractors, machinery or services so that they can get the necessary work done. But what I am not clear about is what they are to be called upon to pay back, and that is the thing that is going to concern them. As I understand it, the machinery is not to be theirs. Presumably they are not to be called upon to pay back the capital cost of the machinery. The machinery is to be used on their farms. In fact it is being used by contractors all round using Kent. My house, which stood in green fields eight months ago, is now surrounded by ploughed land. I can hardly see grass anywhere. That has been done by contractors coming in and charging for their service in ploughing up, and a very reasonable amount has been charged provided the farmer has been in a position to pay it.
I understand that these small men are to be called on to pay out of the proceeds that come as the result of ploughing up, or whatever the agricultural operation is. What are they to have to pay? That is what we all want to know. I beg the Minister to make crystal clear to the farmers what they are to be expected to pay under this scheme. I apprehend that they are to have to pay back a fair sum for the use of the machinery or the services given them by the agricultural committees and, in addition, probably a sum in respect of interest on the capital sums which will have to be provided for the agricultural committees to buy the tractors, machinery and so forth which the agricultural committee is in possession of. [Interruption.] I am told that I am all wrong, and I am delighted to be told so, but I do not understand, and I have a feeling that possibly other Members may not. I believe this can be made a good Clause, and I do not honestly believe it makes very much difference whether the 1007 depreciation sum that they have to pay is calculated at 2½, 3, or 5 per cent. What we want to understand is how the scheme is to work and what they are to be asked to pay. Are they to be asked to pay a reasonable sum for the service and the machinery, plus a sum which will be called interest or depreciation, calculated at some reasonable rate? Naturally, if it were calculated at a lower rate than that mentioned by the Minister, every small man in the country would be pleased, but we want to know what he is to be asked to pay, when he is to be called upon to pay it, and how the amount is to be calculated. If the Minister will answer those questions, we shall all understand the Clause very much better.
§ 4.55 p.m.
Miss Lloyd George
The Secretary of State for Scotland said that the important point about the Clause and the Amendment was whether the farmers would be able to secure their requisites and services under the conditions laid down in the Clause. I think that everyone on all sides would be willing to stand or fall by that. It is, of course, the only thing that matters, and it is a thing of vital importance. But what hon. Members feel, I think, is that they are not going to be able to obtain their requisites or services on the terms offered in the Clause. The farmers are being asked to undertake a task of national importance. They are as anxious as any other class of the community to do their part in the national effort, but nothing is more certain than that, unless the Government give them more favourable credit, they will be totally unable to carry out their task and you will not get the increased production of food that you are anticipating.
§ Mr. Colville
I am not clear what the hon. Lady means by giving more credit. This is a proposal to give credit to those who cannot get it. The only point is whether it is going to be charged for too heavily, but that is a matter for adjustment. It certainly makes credit available. That is the whole point of it.
Miss Lloyd George
The whole point is the terms on which you are going to give them credit. The difference between us is that the Government think they will be able to get their credit to secure their 1008 requisites and services, without which you cannot make the land productive or increase food production, at a rate which is obviously in excess of the rate proposed in the Amendment. The Secretary of State has certainly not told us that he is going to agree to the rate of interest that the hon. Member has proposed. You are not going to get the job done on the terms. The hon. Member for Evesham (Mr. De la Bère) has also pointed out that the Government lent £26,000,000 at 2½per cent. to the railway companies some time ago in order to reorganise themselves in the national interest. Here you are going to lend at 5 per cent. in war-time to an industry which is absolutely vital to the national interest. You are going to lend at 5 per cent. to an industry which has been neglected for years and which is so impoverished that it cannot carry on without Government subsidies. The hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last quoted instances that he knows of small farmers who are heavily mortgaged and who are in some cases unable to get credit because the dealers are closing in on them, and in some districts agriculture is in the hands of the banks and the dealers, and it is to this section of the community that the Government come along and say, "We have a very big job of work for you to do in the national interest, a job of work which may be vital to the final decision of the war, and we offer you 5 per cent. to assist you to do it."
The right hon. Gentleman said that he had not yet formulated a scheme for Scotland, but I think that his right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture must have formulated his scheme for England and Wales, because I have here the circular letter which has been sent out from the Ministry to the war agricultural committees, which lays down the conditions under which they should be allowed to have credit. The right hon. Gentleman, I understood, said that there was no definite figure fixed for the rate of interest. Well, this letter makes it quite clear that the rate of interest is 5 per cent.
§ Mr. Colville
I said the scheme would provide proposals for a rate of interest, and I think I went on to say that all these schemes will be examined with the Treasury. I am sorry if I said there was not a figure fixed in the scheme. There is.
Miss Lloyd George
The scheme at any rate is perfectly clear as far as England and Wales are concerned. And not only are the farmers to be charged 5 per cent. but what are the terms they are to get? First, taking the fanner's undertaking to repay, he has to promise to repay the cost of the requisites, including insurance and freight, plus interest between the date or dates on which payments are made to suppliers and the date of repayment. Secondly, there is to be an authorisation in appropriate cases for deduction of the debt from the milk cherub or wheat deficiency payments where milk or wheat form one of the major sources of cash receipt on the firm; and thirdly, the fanner must assent to the reduction of the outstanding debt, in default of repayment at the due date, from moneys, such as subsidies, capitation grants or sums payable for farm products by the Government, and that includes, of course, payment for fat cattle and sheep as well. So the Chancellor of the Exchequer is making quite sure that what he gives with his right hand he takes away with his left. He is making absolutely certain of the terms of repayment.
More than that, a very important point is the period of time of the loan. I think it is true to say that in no case under the scheme is the period of time to exceed 12 months, that, in fact, the farmer has to repay when he is in receipt of the product of the succeeding harvest. That takes no account at all of the question of whether it has been a good harvest or a bad harvest. He has to pay at the end of the harvest after he has had the loan and, if he is unable to pay, his milk subsidy, or his meat subsidy, or his wheat subsidy, upon which at the moment he is literally depending, is going to be taken away. Those seem to me to be extremely hard terms. And, after all, the Government are giving this money as a loan on something which is absolutely secure. Unless the farmer is on the verge of bankruptcy, the Government are bound to get back its money, and in a very short time.
I thought when I originally read this Clause that its object was to assist the farmer to carry out the Government's scheme, to increase the production of food, but I cannot see how it is going to assist the farmer to any extent, if one judges by this scheme which has been 1010 produced for England and Wales. The right hon. Gentleman may be able to produce a better scheme for his own country, but this is the scheme, as I take it, which is to be given to the farmers of England and of Wales, and I am absolutely convinced that it will be completely useless. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but I would like him to tell the House how many farmers will be able to take advantage of it, or to whom it will be of the slightest assistance. I think that, unless he is prepared to accept the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman, or something of the kind, or unless he is prepared to tell us that this letter which has been sent out as the policy and scheme of the Government will be withdrawn, then I cannot think that this Clause will be of any assistance at all.
§ The Chairman
May I say one word on this before we go any further? The Debate has necessarily extended beyond what one would expect to be properly in Order on this Amendment. I am making no complaint of it, because I think it was inevitable that it should be so. It means that goods and services, whatever they are, which are to be supplied come down in the end to the provision of money, and therefore create the question of the rate of interest on that money if the Government are to recover all that money. What I want to call the attention of the Committee to—and, as I say, I am making no complaint—is that, perhaps necessarily, the Debate has developed into a general Debate on the Clause, and I hope the Committee will consider that it is for their convenience to deal with it in that way, and that if I make no attempt to curtail this Debate, so long as it is relevant to the Clause, when we have disposed of this Amendment we should regard ourselves as having disposed of the Clause and there will be no further Debate on that.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Williams
I was rather surprised to hear the Secretary of State for Scotland make his reply to the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery), which obviously left every Member of the House in a great deal of doubt. The right hon. Gentleman knows exactly what is intended by the Minister of Agriculture. He knows exactly the limitations that they have placed upon these goods and 1011 services. He knows the limit of the amount of money or goods and services combined which will be provided for on every farm. He will correct me if I tell him what in my view the scheme is, because it is clear the Committee ought to know. Is not it clear, after the agricultural executive committees have been advised and guided as to the administration of the scheme, that when a farmer requires seed there is no ready money, when he requires ploughs there is no ready money, and for every commodity which he needs on his farm no agricultural executive committee can make these purchases until an inquiry has been made and the farmer has entered into an agreement to pay the cost? If the farmer requires the services of a tractor there is no ready money, and no agricultural executive committee can supply the tractor. If the farmer requires the services of a threshing machine there is no ready money, and no committee can send along the threshing machine and pay the contractor's fee.
The limit of goods and services available to each farmer is £50, and this Amendment declares that instead of a rate of 5 per cent. interest the rate shall be 1 per cent. above bank rate. We will reduce it to its lowest common denominator. Suppose that £50 in goods and services is provided for a farmer, the agents of the Minister then pass the bill on to the war agricultural executive committee. Assuming that the £50 is outstanding for 12 months at 5 per cent. the interest charged to the farmer will be 50s., but if the interest were reduced under the terms of this Amendment the charge would be 30s. Therefore the Amendment would save each farmer who takes advantage of Clause 24 just £1 per annum.
§ Sir I. Albery
Will the hon. Member allow me to intervene so that there may be no misunderstanding? As hon. Members are well aware, it is not always easy to get Amendments put down and get them called. I do want to get a lower interest for farmers, but the Amendments were put down in order that I might raise the point that everything can be done under Clause 24, and practically nothing will be done.
§ Mr. Williams
I am not complaining of the hon. Gentleman's Amendments, 1012 but I was just trying to explain what the scheme involves and how it will work out.
§ Mr. Colville
I do not want the hon. Gentleman to base his argument on a wrong figure. As to the £50 limit, that is what the committee can do without reference to the Minister.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ Sir J. Lamb
The Clause would be adequate as it is except for one reason, and that is the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman in introducing the Bill. There is nothing in the Bill about 5 per cent., and I did not want it in the Bill, but my right hon. Friend when he introduced the Bill suggested 5 per cent. or a commercial rate. Five per cent. is not a commercial rate, at least it is not one the farmers can pay. As he has already mentioned 5 per cent., I think that this Amendment should be put in, because 1 per cent. above bank rate is a great deal nearer that which a farmer can pay than 5 per cent. With regard to the £50, as I understand it, the committees can lend up to £50 without reference to the Minister, but above £50 they must refer to the Minister and get sanction to that.
§ Sir J. Lamb
I believe that the Clause as it stands is absolutely adequate. I believe it was a slip made by the right hon. Gentleman in mentioning 5 per cent. when he introduced the Bill. I ask him now to accept 1 per cent. or 2 per cent. above bank rate, simply to rectify the wrong impression he gave to the country when he suggested such a high rate of interest.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Williams
I think the whole Committee is agreed on one or two things. The first is that it is absolutely essential to grant, not a little new credit, but a very great deal of new credit to agriculture. Those of us who have a long and unfortunate connection with agriculture know that very well. As far as this Amendment is concerned, I have every sympathy with my hon. Friend opposite in his wish to see agriculture obtain credit at a very low rate of interest, and obviously if he can persuade the Government to give a considerable amount of credit at low interest to any 1013 particular agriculturist it will do something to help him through his present difficulty. As far as I can understand, at present you are imposing on the agricultural committees the rather invidious job of saying who is, and who is not, to have the money. Up to £50, they can do it of their own accord, and after that another body will deal with the matter.
I am not quarrelling with this, but there are a considerable number of farmers who would find it a very valuable help if they could get up to £50, even if it were only for buying seed. We should give the Government credit for doing that. But the farmers need help, not only in buying seed, but also, in many cases, for buying or hiring tractors, and for paying wages between now and the time when they get their harvest. If the agricultural committees are able to deal with amounts up to £50, we should be told, either during the Debate or at the appropriate time, how we, as Members of this House, can be quite sure that the farmers are going to know that, beyond the £50, money will be fairly easily available for them.
I should like to refer to the very interesting and charming speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George), who showed great knowledge of the subject. She said that agriculture had been greatly impoverished for some time. Unfortunately, we are only too well aware of that; but I should like to remind hon. Members that it is not much good always pouring a little water into a bucket if the bucket has no bottom. The reason for this impoverishment is not only the lack of good prices, but also the fact that for the last 30 years you have been draining money out of agriculture.
§ Mr. Williams
Of course, I was not intending to follow that up, Sir Dennis; I was merely using it as an example, to show how thankful we should be for the benefit we are getting at the present time. When we are reminded of the impoverishment of agriculture, we should remember who were the originators of that impoverishment, by their tax on agriculture.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Morgan
I would ask whether, in attempting to deal with the credit position in agriculture by a comparatively 1014 small and limited Measure, we should not be damaging that position, rather than improving it. You are going to make an instrument which will be a first charge on a man's enterprise. You may find the merchants, as a result, inquiring whether a man has secured such a loan. Then, if he finds that that is the case, the merchant will know that the first £50 or £100, as the case may be, of that man's return from an uncertain harvest is charged with some other body; and he may be very unwilling to advance further credits to such a man—certainly to the full extent of the man's credit. I see many merchants coming to a farmer and requiring him, before they will give him a new account, to go to the committee and get them to guarantee the account.
§ Mr. Morgan
No, but I want to put certain considerations before the Minister. As the Debate proceeds, we discover new features about this transaction. We discover that the committee are entitled to give up to £50, subject to very little in the way of conditions.
§ The Chairman
I would ask the hon. Member not to discover matters which have nothing to do with the Clause. I do not see anything there about creating a charge.
§ Mr. Morgan
With deference to your Ruling, Sir Dennis, the term "charge" is used in the Bill, and reference has been made to the fact that the man's income from milk or beef or other products will be charged by the committee in order to liquidate the amount of the loan. That has been said, I think, by the Minister in explanation of the transaction. Obviously, in such a case this will be a first charge. I can see damage being done to the already unsatisfactory system of credit for the farmer. Such a security, supported by the committee, enabling the committee to make a charge upon the debt—
§ The Chairman
I do not want to interrupt the hon. Member more than is necessary, but I have pointed out that the whole question of charging has nothing to do with this Clause. The hon. Member's only defense now is to refer to other parts of the Bill.
§ Mr. Morgan
I will say only that I wonder whether by attempting, in this quite praiseworthy way, to deal with the problem of credit, the Government may not actually damage the position of the person desiring credit, without meeting the views of a lot of people who believe that the credit position as a whole needs to be properly tackled.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Boothby
I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb) cannot have read the scheme already issued with regard to England and Wales, which definitely fixes a rate of 5 per cent. He thinks the scheme is first-class, because he fondly imagines that the farmers will get credit, up to an apparently unlimited amount, at 1 per cent. If he is under that delusion, both he and his farmers will get a rude awakening in the near future. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland was a perfectly good prophet when he indicated that 5 per cent. would be the rate charged. As for Scotland, we shall have something to say before such a rate of interest is applied there. I do not think my right hon. Friend will get away with 5 per cent. from that country, and I do not think that he believes so himself. That may indirectly benefit the farmers of England and Wales also. For the life of me, I cannot see why 5 per cent. should be charged for a loan of this kind for a period of 12 months only, when you consider the general state of credit, and what the Government can borrow for.
I agree with the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. J. Morgan) that the interesting point about this Clause is, what effect it may have upon the general credit of the farmers. A large number of the farmers are in the hands of the banks, and, in many cases, of the merchants. When I say "in the hands," I do not mean that the banks and the merchants are exercising an unfair, Shylock grip on them. I merely mean that substantial credits have been granted to them in recent years by the banks and merchants, without which they could not have carried on. I am sure the banks and the merchants will look at the Clause somewhat critically, and say, "What effect will it have on the general credit position of fanner A and farmer B? Does 1016 it take precedence over credits that we may have given to them?" When they examine the scheme, they will say that it does take precedence.
§ Mr. Boothby
No, I am suggesting that it is unwarrantable to make the terms so stringent; to fix such a high rate of interest, and to insist on repayment in so short a period. The position of the farmers would not be affected if the terms were reasonable, but I suggest that the terms for England and Wales—we have not had those for Scotland—are not reasonable. I say, first, that 5 per cent. is too high, and, secondly, why are the terms of repayment so very severe, and for a period of 12 months only? The hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) read out from the proposed scheme, going into the greatest detail.
§ Mr. Boothby
I am quite sure that we shall all be greatly assisted if the First Commissioner, when he comes to reply, will go, in more detail, into the question of what these terms will be. We got very valuable information from the hon. Member for Anglesey. What justification can the Government put forward for charging 5 per cent. for a very short term loan? What do they pay for Treasury Bills at the present time? This is a credit, extended to farmers for doing perhaps the most important work that can be done in this country at the present time. I am sure that the feeling of the House is that 5 per cent., for only 12 months, is an exorbitant rate to charge farmers who are doing this vital national work.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mrs. Tate
There are one or two questions in respect of which I would be very grateful if I could have a reply. It seems to me that I am not alone in not fully comprehending the conditions under which money is to be loaned under this Clause. The hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) has indeed enlightened us very considerably, and—I speak for myself—has alarmed us very greatly by the details which she has given of the scheme for England and Wales.
1017 While I fully support what the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) said when he asked whether a further extension of time could be given, I would ask whether, under this Clause, implements are to be provided for the farmer upon payment of certain moneys. If the scheme is successful—and the right hon. Gentleman's whole contention is that the scheme will be successful—there will be a tremendous call upon certain farm machinery. If you own machinery it is entirely in your own hands when you do specific pieces of work, but if you hire machinery it is in the lap of the gods, especially to-day, as to whether the machinery will be available to do the work at the exact moment that it is possible for you to do it, either on account of labour or of the weather.
My knowledge of the present position with regard to the availability of farming machinery does not give me complete confidence that, if the scheme is responded to as the right hon. Gentleman assures us it will be, the machinery will in every case be available for the man who wishes to loan it at the moment at which he could make use of it, and yet he might involve himself in borrowing money at a usurious rate of interest. I find it difficult to control my language. Although I agree that you may borrow at 5 per cent. for certain things, even while we are sitting here this afternoon farmers all over the country are losing their capital. At this very moment, think of how many pigs are being slaughtered, and how many chickens, which were the farmer's capital and existed a few hours ago, no longer exist. That is his capital, and the industry in many instances is bleeding to death. That is not an exaggeration as the Minister of Agriculture told me the other day when I spoke of the slaughtering that is going on all over the country. He said I was exaggerating, but nothing that I have heard in the West Country in the last few weeks could lead me to retract one word or make me believe that I was in any way exaggerating. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman believes me when I say that I wish that I could have done so. I have not done so. None of us knows how far the slaughtering of livestock has to go.
At the present time we realise that we are up against very great difficulties.
1018 We have to realise the position in which it has placed the farmer, and that his capital assets are going, and his credit facilities are already closing in upon him and are no longer available. This Bill, as the hon. Member for East Aberdeen, and the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. J. Morgan) pointed out, instead of helping him may indeed make it even more difficult for him to obtain credit. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, and I await the explanation. I personally could never agree to 5 per cent. interest. I must know the conditions under which there can be an extension of the loan, and be assured that the machinery will be available for the farmer at the time that he requires it.
§ 5.35 p.m.
Mr. De la Bère
I shall not be long, as I understand there is an arrangement with the party opposite to endeavor to get this Bill through as soon as possible, but, having regard to the great importance of it, we must not omit discussion of any of the important conditions. I for one would never dream of agreeing to 5 per cent. under this Clause. Credit is a fundamental necessity for agriculture, and it is vitally necessary that we should have creditor enable us to secure the maximum amount of food. When I read this Clause, I had some hopes that something was really going to be done, but I was soon to be very considerably disillusioned. What has taken place? I know what has taken place. The banks have been round very quietly, and the whole thing has been arranged without the House of Commons knowing one word about it. That is the cause of all our troubles to-day. Poorer and poorer grow the farmers and richer and richer grow the banks. That is an issue do not want to pursue, but it is true that the cause of all this is that the banks are not prepared to make their war effort for this country in the same way that the farmer is prepared to make his effort to grow food in times of national emergency. That is the plain and very unpleasant truth. If it were not the truth, how is it that we cannot have a reasonable rate of interest, perhaps 3 per cent.? But no, we have been told that it is to be 5 per cent. From whence could it have come? It could only have come from that quarter.
§ Mr. Boothby
May I ask my hon. Friend whether he does not realise that it is the Treasury that forces the bank?
Mr. De la Bère
I always give way to my hon. Friend because I have great regard for him, but I do not think that that is quite the point. I have put down two Amendments to this Clause, which I understand are not to be called, and I have to bow to your Ruling, Sir Dennis, as indeed we always do, but I am sorry, because those Amendments deal specifically with the very point which my hon. Friend has just raised, as to whether this should not be done under Treasury guarantee at not more than a half per cent. over the bank rate. But I will not deal with that as I might be out of order.
The question with which I want to deal is a very important one. I refer to the question of loans to railways of £26,000,000 at 2½ per cent. In 1935 we gave a loan to the Railway Finance Corporation of just over £26,000,000 at 2½ per cent. and the whole of that money was guaranteed, both as to principal and interest, by the Treasury. Let us see who these people were. There were four directors of this Railway Finance Corporation of £100 registered capital. They were four directors of the Bank of England. If these powerful people, the Bank of England and railway directors, can secure for themselves this money why then should not agriculture, which is trying to help the country forward to get the maximum output of food, and indeed to save this country, not have money at an equally favourable rate, guaranteed both as to principal and interest? I would ask the House to consider whether we could not all really get together. We are of different parties all round, but one day we may wake up to find that these little party differences matter nothing at all. It is England that matters, and the getting of food and the winning of the war.
Mr. De la Bère
I shall never consent as long as I am a Member of this House to the farmer being charged 5 per cent. for money, especially as there is not the faintest or remotest possible excuse whatever in war-time for asking him to pay it.
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Ramsbotham
Perhaps it may assist our proceedings if I intervene at this moment to elucidate one or two points that have arisen during the 'discussion of the last hour or so, and perhaps explain, 1020 as well as I can, what is the object of the Clause which we are in fact discussing. The primary purpose of this Clause is to assist the ploughing campaign. In the great majority of cases the farmers who are putting land under the plough are able, in the course of business, to provide seed and tackle, either out of their own resources or through the accommodation to which they have been accustomed in the past. And there are, and will be, no doubt, a number of small farmers who will not be in that position. I envisage the case of a small farmer being called upon to plough up five or 10 acres. He will say to the war agricultural committee, "I am very sorry, but I have not the resources to purchase the seed for this purpose and the machinery and tackle, and my credit is not good enough to enable me to borrow the wherewithal with which to acquire these requisites." The committee will say, "Why worry? Wearer empowered by a Clause in this Bill to procure for you the seed which you need and the ploughing tackle which you require, so that you can go ahead and be in just the same position as the majority of other farmers who are able to procure these things for themselves." That is the primary object of this Clause.
It has been said during the Debate that it was unfair on the small man when you provide him with these requisites in the way described to charge him 5 per cent. for the accommodation instead of 3 per cent. I will make two observations with regard to that. There is a 2 per cent. margin as I have already indicated, or whatever phrase is used. I want to examine that proposition in a moment. In the first place, I am inclined to agree with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Spens) that what is important not merely to the small farmer, but to any farmer is not so much the rate of interest that you pay, provided it is not an extortionate rate, but a margin of 1 or 2 per cent. on the ploughing tackle employed, as the prices you get and the security that you have for the sale of your produce.
Perhaps the Committee will bear with me if I give an instance to illustrate that point. I am dealing with the ordinary small farmer for whose benefit this Clause is primarily designed. I am taking the example of one ordered to plough up 10 acres of grassland in order to grow wheat upon it. The cost of producing the crop 1021 might be put at £9 an acre. The farmer would receive a ploughing subsidy of £2 an acre, so that the net cost would be £7 an acre, or £70 for the 10 acres. If he borrowed money on a year's credit at 5 per cent. he would pay £3 10s. interest and if he borrowed at 2½ per cent. it would be £1 15s. If he borrowed at 3 per cent. it would be slightly more. If we take these two figures, something between £3 10s. and £2 10s., and compare them with the wide margin of what he is going to receive for his wheat, he has spent, on my calculation, £70. If we take the average wheat crop on 10 acres he would receive £100, that is, a £30 margin. It may not work out quite like that because of the weather, but I am not using the wholly extravagant language about the appalling burden which is placed on the small man. The first point I want to make, in regard to what has been said about the interest of 5 per cent., is that I do not think it matters as much as all that.
Mr. De la Bère
The real point is that there is no justification for it. It does not matter whether it is £3 10s. or £2 10s., why should he pay that 5 per cent.? It is no good illustrating with figures without taking into account the weather and other conditions. What my right hon. Friend has said is absolutely valueless.
§ Colonel Burton
Farmers would like to know are these loans to be registered or in any way disclosed to the public, or will they be kept privately between the borrower and the War Agricultural Committee?
§ Mr. Ramsbotham
My hon. and gallant Friend interrupted me on the point which has excited his curiosity. If you are going to make special terms for a small farmer, what is going to be the attitude of every other farmer? The majority of farmers in this country avail themselves of the ordinary commercial forms of credit. In certain cases where a small man does not possess that credit he is going to be given facilities to borrow at 5 per cent. Supposing it were 3 per cent. I think every other farmer would legitimately say, "Why should this concession be given solely to my neighbor of whose farming capabilities I have never thought much? He has not worked as hard as I have and why should we go on paying the ordinary rate while this man gets an especially low rate of interest?"
§ Mr. Ramsbotham
When I see the difference on the figures I have given I say the need is not desperate.
§ Mr. Ramsbotham
It will apply to the small farmer who cannot provide the requisites to plough up the land that he ought to plough. If we are going to do that we might say that the only way of doing justice to the whole farming community is to give the same terms to every farmer whether he is credit-worthy or not, and reduce the rate of interest to 3 per cent. That is logically the position, but it is a big undertaking and involves another form of subsidy for the farming community.
§ Mr. Ramsbotham
I quite agree. That is the general atmosphere in which we ought to regard this proposal and the purpose for which it was designed. The hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey (Miss M. Lloyd George) asked about the period of repayment. This is stated in the scheme which is now in the hands of the war agricultural committees and I will arrange for a copy to be placed in the Library. Normally the farmer is expected to discharge his debt as soon as he receives the proceeds from his succeeding harvest, but the payment period may be extended. That seems to be reasonable.
Earl Winter ton
The right hon. Gentleman seems to have been assuming all along that the farmer will necessarily get a crop of wheat. My experience of newly ploughed-up land is that it often produces no crop at all. What is going to be the position in this event?
§ Mr. Ramsbotham
If my Noble Friend is right we might just as well abandon the whole ploughing-up scheme. We must assume it is going to meet with a measure of success; otherwise it will be a disaster. I think that the hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey will agree that the terms are not unreasonable and that it is not unreasonable that the proceeds of milk or wheat subsidies should be earmarked to repay what the farmer has had from the State. I would like to say, in conclusion, that we are aiming at good, stable prices on which farming it will 1023 not only secure credit, but also get cash in hand, so that it is no longer a borrower. I do not think it makes for good farming to encourage, by cheap credits, a large amount of borrowing. We are aiming at providing a good solid foundation with stable prices for each man if he has good credit. For the small man who is in difficulties it provides a fair and satisfactory solution.
§ Mr. Boothby
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think the terms which he read out are so stiff that they are bound to affect the general credit of the small man? You are practically putting a lien on every subsidy he receives from the State. Why not make the terms easier and the time longer?
Mr. Henry Harlem
I do not quite understand, from the figures the right hon. Gentleman gave, the example that a small man should get a £30 crop. Is this after the loan has been repaid?
§ Mr. Ramsbotham
You cannot farm at all without money. This is for the farmer who has not enough credit to carry out the extra obligations imposed upon him by the scheme.
§ Mr. Ramsbotham
That is the primary object. If a farmer cannot carry it out, the Government will say to him, "Do not worry. We will finance the means for you to do it, and it is only reasonable that you should pay us back out of the proceeds of what you have earned." That is the whole proposition, and I do not think there is anything unfair about it.
§ Earl Winterton
The right hon. Gentleman seemed to assume that my question was extraordinary. What is to be the position of a farmer, small or large, who, having borrowed money on the security of a crop, gets no crop because of a bad season? Is he going to be allowed time for repayment? We ought to be assured 1024 on this point. This is quite a different thing from a subsidy; this is a loan secured on something which might not eventuate.
§ Mr. Ramsbotham
I do not think my Noble Friend quite appreciated the point I made in my opening remarks. I explained that in particular cases the payment period may be extended.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Loftus
I listened with great interest to the speech of my right hon. Friend. I confess I think the Clause as printed is quite admirable. When read it first I thought its powers were so wide that it could be of immense assistance to agriculture and the production of food. But listening to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland on the Second Reading and, still more, to the speeches delivered to-day, I find this large, generously worded Clause shrinking into very meager dimensions. The Secretary of State for Scotland said the Clause was so drawn that schemes could be framed in the widest possible terms, but every reference made to the scheme already framed shows that it is in an extremely narrow form. We have heard to-day that assistance under this Clause is confined entirely to work ordered by the agricultural committee to be done in connection with the Government's general scheme for ploughing-up. I think the words are,Comply with the orders and directions issued by the War Agricultural Committee.The first anomaly that strikes me is this: Money is advanced for specific work to comply with the orders and directions of the war agricultural committee but the liability, the repayment, is a charge on the whole production of the farmer. We have heard about this 5 per cent., but that is not the main point. I criticize, not the Clause, which is adequate, but the scheme. We have had a most interesting Debate on the scheme circulated by the Ministry to the war agricultural committees, and I do suggest that this Committee should have had that scheme issued to them. Every Member should have had a copy of it so that we could have thoroughly discussed the subject. I therefore enter a protest under that head.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. W. Roberts
I want to pursue the point which the hon. Member for Don-caster (Mr. J. Morgan) and the hon. Mem- 1025 ber for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) raised. I am afraid that their arguments may be misunderstood. They suggested that the operation of the scheme may have the effect of damaging the credit of farmers with those persons with whom they may normally have been getting credit. I think that may be the case; and it is one of the reasons why I enthusiastically support the Amendment. In the scheme you say that a farmer must go to the war agricultural executive committee and say that he cannot get credit anywhere else, and he has to assure the people from whom he borrows that he comes to them as the last hope, that he has exhausted his credit at the bank. When he has done that you lend to him not at the same rate as he could have got from the bank, if the bank manager thought that he was credit-worthy. What have you done with that man? His merchant finds that he is taking a loan at a rate which he could have got from the bank.
§ Mr. Colville
The point is that he cannot get credit, and I cannot see any other way of financing the operation of the scheme.
§ Mr. Roberts
I hope I may be allowed to develop my argument. The farmer has got his loan and gone away. It will become known that he has got a loan and, therefore, everybody to whom he owes money will regard him as having admitted that he cannot get credit anywhere else. By taking a loan from the war agricultural executive committee he has admitted that he cannot get money anywhere else. If you make a small alteration in the scheme and reduce the rate of interest to, say, the same rate of interest as that of the bank, you do not destroy the confidence on which a great deal of credit is built up. After all, how is the war agricultural executive committee going to establish that the man could not get a loan anywhere else? In the scheme it is laid down that a farmer has to satisfy the committee that he cannot get credit anywhere else, but it is laid down that in no circumstances must the committee verify his statement by going to his bank or his merchant.
§ Mr. Colville
The scheme is for the man who cannot get credit, and I cannot see how a proposal to reduce the rate of interest is going to help.
§ Mr. Roberts
I certainly want to give the small farmer credit and on a much wider scale than is proposed. I suggest that by the condition which you have imposed, and by saying that you do not wish to interfere with existing sources of credit by charging a rather higher rate of interest, you are unreasonably destroying the credit of the farmer to whom you give a loan. I think you should set about the matter in a different way and say that you wish to reduce the rate of interest on loans to farmers at the present time, as they are far too high. They have to pay sometimes as much as 10 to 15 per cent. I received a remarkable document the other day from a machinery firm with whom I have done business for a long time, the largest firm in the district. In a bill they enclosed a note to this effect:The international situation has entirely altered the whole basis of trade and has made it necessary for all merchants throughout the country to require their customers to discharge their accounts promptly.That is the sort of thing they are sending out on the first occasion on which they render their account. They are giving no credit now. I was speaking the other day to an auctioneer who happens to be a farmer as well, and asked him what he paid for credit. He said that he had been paying cash in his fanning operations and that by the bonus he had received for cash he had saved 9½ per cent. I want to bring that 9½ per cent. down to 5 per cent. or 3 per cent. in order to help the farming industry. If you had a scheme which would deliberately reduce the general rate of interest and provide for fresh short-term capital in the industry you would not destroy the credit-worthiness of any farmer to whom you lend, and you would put some fresh vitality and life into the farming industry and do a great deal to make the ploughing campaign a real success.
§ 6.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Butcher
I feel that the Debate has shown that very little is done by this Clause. When I read it first I had a feeling that here was an opportunity, in. time of national emergency, to bring as much credit at a reasonable rate of interest to the farming community as would enable them to produce to the: maximum at the present time. I was sorry to hear from the Secretary of State for Scotland that the Clause is to be confined to those who are credit-worthy 1027 where credit was not available through the normal channels, and this afternoon we have had a further explanation of the Clause from the First Commissioner of Works. We have learned that there are further limits imposed by the scheme, of which at present we know very little. The First Commissioner of Works pointed out that this was merely to deal with a small amount of land; a small number of farmers who may be required to plough up a small amount of land under the Government's ploughing-up scheme. It is not worth wasting a lot of time about. All we are doing is to provide money from the national Exchequer when the banks, with expressions of patriotism running through the speeches of their chairmen, are not prepared to trust the farming community to the amount mentioned in the Debate—£70.
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Silverman
I am not a farmer nor have I any agricultural experience. My only right to intervene in the Debate is the duty on every Member of the Committee to try and understand matters on which he has to vote and to exercise judgment upon them. I have listened with great interest to the Debate and I propose to offer one or two observations on one aspect of the matter which I do understand, and that is the question whether the rate of interest should be 5 per cent. or 3 per cent. I have heard the whole of the arguments on that point and listened with great attention to the Minister's reply. He never attempted to bring his mind to a consideration of the arguments in favor of a lower rate of interest. When I examine the arguments which he addressed to the Committee it is apparent that he has never examined the matter with any seriousness at all. He made two points. The first, that the amount in dispute would be very small. He said that if you calculate the difference between what it would cost a farmer at 5 per cent. and what it would cost him at 3 per cent. the difference was so small that we need not bother about it. From what I have heard it seems to me that even if it is a small amount it may with more advantage go to the farmer than to the banks. The farmer is entitled to the benefit.
The First Commissioner of Works went on to say that the standard price was so fixed as to more than cover the amount 1028 of the difference; in other words he said, "Do not bother the farmer about the difference, the consumer will pay, there will be a rise in prices in order that the banks may get the extra 2 per cent." That is not a good reason to me, and it is even less a good reason when we come to the second argument of the First Commissioner of Works. Having proved to his own satisfaction that the difference is infinitesimal and nothing to worry about, he went on to say that if you grant the small farmer this advantage, which is infinitesimal, then all other farmers will want it too and you will create a lot of confusion, jealousy and trouble. The Minister cannot have it both ways. If the difference is small it cannot have these important effects upon other people. If it is infinitesimal it will not disturb anybody. If, on the other hand, it is such as to lead other fanners to want it the Minister must abandon his argument that there is nothing in it at all. The arguments advanced by the Government in opposition to the Amendment are not serious arguments at all and I hope the Amendment will be pressed to a Division.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Sir I. Albery
I want to say only that in moving the Amendment I wanted to get certain questions raised and to know the intentions of the Minister of Agriculture. The Amendment itself, especially in view of the use to which the Government propose to put the Clause, is of very little importance. The matter has been well debated and I hope that the First Commissioner of Works will draw the attention of the Minister of Agriculture to what has been said and that we may hope that greater use will be made of the Clause than is at present proposed. If greater use is made of the Clause it obviously must involve more capital, and then more attention will be paid to the necessity for a cheaper rate of interest for the agricultural community. In these circumstances I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Colonel Clifton Brown)
The hon. and gallant Member must understand that if he rises to speak the Amendment can under no circumstances be withdrawn.
The hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery) has said that this is a small matter. There are 1029 250,000 farmers in this country. Of those farmers, 175,000 are small men. My right hon. Friend said that it was reasonable to suppose that £70 might be borrowed by each of them under this Clause, and therefore, the amount borrowed might be £11,000,000. On £11,000,000, the difference between 3 per cent. and 5 per cent. is £250,000, which sum would be taken out of the profits of the farming community. That is not an insignificant sum. I ask the Government to be generous in this matter. They are asking the small men to take a certain amount of risk, for it is not certain that they will get bumper crops out of the first year's results of ploughing up. In asking the farming community to do this extra work which is so greatly needed at this time, I hope the Government will be generous to them.
§ 6.16 p.m.
I should like to associate myself with the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery). The Debate has been a very useful one, and has justified the Amendment being put on the Paper. I should like to say a few words on the question of what the effect of this scheme will be on general credit. Some hon. Members have expressed the view that it will have bad effect, but I do not agree with that view. I have been told by dealers, machinery makers, and so on, in my part of the country that they have so many debts on their books that they do not know what to do. They cannot advance any more money because they are in difficulties themselves. Consequently, if some of their clients who may owe them money are able to obtain credit under this scheme and as a result of obtaining that credit are able to show a profit at the end of the year—my right hon. Friend gave as an example a small man who could show a credit balance of £30 at the end of the year—the result may very well be that some of the people to whom they owe money will ask them to settle up the bills, and that will bring about a general relief. Therefore, I do not think the scheme will have the effect of drying up credit. It may have the effect of giving the farmers more credit. In the past, there have been cases where the giving of credit has dammed up other 1030 sources, but I do not think that will be so in this case.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher
The Government are trying to give the impression that they are doing something to help the farmers when, in fact, they are not doing anything. This proposal is one of the most amazing proposals I have ever heard. If a small farmer is in such a plight that he cannot get credit it is proposed to give him credit in such conditions as, in the ordinary way, he would get from other sources. The idea is that, by giving him this credit, he will at the end of the year be able not only to pay the 5 per cent. interest, but have a very nice margin left to him. If the position were as simple as that, what would prevent him from getting credit? In my opinion, the proposal simply plays with the question. Are you going to tell a small man who is in difficulties to plough up a certain piece of land, to keep the accounts in connection with it and the sales of products from it completely separate from all his other business, to make it a separate part of his business, and to clear up the accounts on it irrespective of what happens with regard to the remainder of his business? If any small farmer is put in such a position, it will place a further burden on him and make his position more impossible. I have never heard of anything so absurd as this proposal, from the point of view of offering assistance to small men. If the position is to be that the piece of land in question is to be treated in the general accounts and then at the end of the period the farmer has considerable margin of profit, it is obvious that, being in such a position, he would be able to get credit through the ordinary sources, and there would be no necessity for a scheme of this sort. The only justification for having such a scheme would be if it was going to assist those in real difficulties to get out of their difficulties and not produce a situation in which, after they had ploughed up a piece of land, they would be in greater difficulties than before.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 98; Nose, 144.1033
|Division No. 22.]||AYES.||[6.24 p.m.|
|Adams, D. (Consent)||Garro Jones, G. M.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Ridley, G.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Riley, B.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Ritson, J.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Barr, J.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Shinwell, E.|
|Bartlett, C. V. O.||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Silverman, S. S.|
|Batey, J.||Hardie, Agnes||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Beaumont, H. (Batley)||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Benson, G.||Horabin, T. L.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Bevan, A.||Isaacs, G. A.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Jackson, W. F.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buckrose)||Kirkwood, D.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Buchanan, G.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Stephen, C.|
|Burke, W. A.||Lathan, G.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Leonard, W.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Charleton, H. C.||Leslie, J. R.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Chater, D.||McEntee, V. La T.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Cluse, W. S.||McGovern, J.||Thorne, W.|
|Cocks, F. S.||MacLaren, A.||Thurtle, E.|
|Collindridge, F.||Maclean, N.||Viant, S. P.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Marshall, F.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Maxton, J.||Watkins, F. C.|
|De la Bère, R.||Messer, F.||Wadgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Dobbie, W.||Milner, Major J.||White, H. Graham|
|Ede, J. C.||Montague, F.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncaster)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Foot, D. M.||Noel-Baker, P. J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gallacher, W.||Oliver, G. H.||Mr. Wilfrid Roberts and Sir|
|Gardner, B. W.||Parker, J.||Percy Harris.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Etherton, Ralph||Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)|
|Anstruther-Gray. W. J.||Everard, Sir William Lindsay||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Fildes, Sir H.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Fyfe, D. P. M.||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Gower, Sir R. V.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Peake, O.|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Plugged, Capt. L. F.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Pym, L. R.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.||Grigg, Sir E. W. M.||Ramsbotham, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Grimston, R. V.||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Hammersley, S. S.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Brass, Sir W.||Hannah, I. C.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Robertson, D.|
|Broadbridge, Sir G. T.||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Russell, Sir Alexander|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Salt, E. W.|
|Cary, R. A.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Samuel. M. R. A.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Sandeman, Sir N. S.|
|Channon, H.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Schuster, Sir G. E.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Jennings, R.||Scott, Lord William|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Joel, D. J. B.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Colville, Rt. Hon. John||King-Hall, Commander W. S. H.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Leech, Sir J. W.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Critchley A.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Levy, T.||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Little, Dr. J. (Down)||Somerville, Sir A. A. (Windsor)|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Storey, S.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||McKie, J. H.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Magnay, T.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Denville, Alfred||Making, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Drewe, C.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Duncan, Rt. Hon. Sir A. R.||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.||Touche, G. C.|
|Dunglass, Lord||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Train, Sir J.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge)||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Waterhouse, Captain C.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Webbe, Sir W. Harold||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.||Womersley, Sir W. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Williams, C. (Torquay)||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.||Lieut.-Colonel Kerr and Mr. Munro.|
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.