HC Deb 01 December 1942 vol 385 cc1026-120
Mr. Pethick-Lawrence (Edinburgh, East)

I beg formally to move, at the end of the Question, to add: And, while welcoming the declaration of the United Nations endorsing the principles of the Atlantic Charter, humbly represent to Your Majesty the urgent necessity of Your Majesty's Advisers reaching practical conclusions, in co-operation with the United Nations, to fulfil these undertakings, and taking the necessary legislative and administrative action to implement without delay the pledges given to Your Majesty's subjects in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Arthur Greenwood (Wakefield)

I rise to support the Amendment to the Address moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh {Mr. Pethick-Lawrence). There are some people in this House, as well as outside, who hold opinions that the post-war planning should be relegated to post-war days. I profoundly dissent from that point of view, a point of view which fails to appreciate either the urgency or the complexity of the vast range of interrelated problems which will face the world and every nation in it, whether they are belligerents or not. To leave the gigantic tasks of preparation until the days when we shall be overwhelmed by the rush of events would inevitably lead to mess and muddle, to the postponement or possibly to the destruction of legitimate hopes, and might end in a bitter disillusionment which might, in this country, have ugly means of expression. It would be a grave breach if, having destroyed the spirit of Fascism abroad, we found this country in the hands of what some people would call a strong Government to deal with a chaotic situation created by lack of adequate preparation and thereby to sow the seeds of a new Fascism in our own midst. Moreover, in a wider field we cannot tolerate the possibility of a leaderless world, at the end of the war, submerged under those difficulties, bleeding from its wounds and without definite plans for its future. I therefore welcome the opportunity of a discussion, which can only be regarded as a preliminary to a long series of discussions on the problems which will face us in the future.

I believe that it is vital for another reason to reach conclusions during the war as to our post-war policy and to take steps to implement those decisions from now onwards. I feel that there could be no finer way of maintaining and strengthening the morale and fortifying the spirit of the people than by the Government giving proof of their determination to apply the principles to which they subscribed in the Atlantic Charter. This war, to the common man, is a war to safeguard the spirit and the institutions of freedom, not merely for their present value, but because of the hopes they hold for the future. President Roosevelt's Four Freedoms—the Atlantic Charter, the Anglo-Soviet Treaty, the Draft Wheat Convention, and the conclusions of the New York Conference of the International Labour Organisation a year ago—do not visualise a return to pre-war days. Humanity, as General Smuts said, many years ago, is on the march; it marches forward, it does not intend to retreat. There are two words graven on the hearts of the overwhelming mass of men and women, "Never again." These words have a twofold meaning. They mean, in the first place, that mankind will not tolerate in the future acts of aggression which let loose slaughter and suffering and disturb the orderly march of democratically-minded folk forward towards the goal of wider freedom. Secondly, these words mean that people have made up their minds that never again will they submit to the social and economic evils of the past poisoning the wells of democratic life in the future.

On the day that the Treaty of Versailles was signed, towards the end of June—s8th June, I believe—in 1919, General Smuts issued a Memorandum. He concluded it with these words: Our Allied peoples must remember that God gave them overwhelming victory, victory far beyond their greatest dreams, not for small selfish ends, not for financial or economic advantages, but for the attainment of the great human ideals for which our heroes gave their lives and which are the real factors in this war of ideals. Those were brave and noble words, spoken by one of the world's greatest men, a man whose integrity and sincerity none will question. Never again must we, through weakness, timidity or selfish interests, fall so far from grace and so far short of attainment as was the case after the last great war. It would be the basest treachery if the statesmen who survived the war were to act as though declarations made during the struggle had served their purpose and could be cast aside after the victory had been won.

The minds of men and women in the Forces and in all walks of life are turning with greater intensity and anxiety towards the future. They want to feel satisfied in their hearts and minds that the world will not be littered after the war with the crumbling promises made during the war. Woe betide this land if our magnificent young generation on the threshold of new life have to face their future cynical, embittered and frustrated because of our failure, our neglect of the responsibility which this generation has undertaken during the period of the war. It is the duty of His Majesty's Government and the United Nations to begin unfolding the map of the future, and I hope we shall hear during the course of the Debate what progress has been made in the vast field of reconstruction planning. I hope the Government will take their courage in their hands and not shrink from facing the real issues which are rearing their heads. I hope, also, that they will not be unduly alarmed at the prospect of controversial discussion. I have already referred to this matter in the House. The avoidance of controversy must mean the preservation of the status quo and resistance to change. Such a situation I cannot find it in my conscience to accept. It would mean the repudiation—for a time, at any rate—of the pledges already given. They could only be fulfilled by a forward-looking majority in Parliament. They would, on the assumption which appears to have determined the present Government's cautious attitude, be liquidated or atrophied if a Government of standfasts were to become responsible.

My attitude towards the war is known, and needs no defence. I wish very earnestly to maintain and strengthen the national will to victory through the maintenance of national unity. I realise quite clearly that in the circumstances of a Coalition Government it must proceed within itself and by agreement, and agreement is, naturally, not always easy to reach. But the Government must not hide behind the smoke-screen of non-controversy. The test, surely, must be, not whether proposals are controversial, but whether they are necessary and desirable in the national interest. It is the Government's business to lead and to make proposals for the future which honourably fulfil, so far as it is within their power, the promises that have been made. Those of us who desire intensely to see these promises carried out must, therefore, press the Government to face their responsibilities with courage and with determination, and that ancient prejudices shall not stand in the way of changes needed by new circumstances and new times.

The most immediate duty, in my opinion, at the end of the war would be to come to the succour of the over-run peoples whose plight to-day is so pitiable. They will need without a moment's delay food, clothing, footwear and medical aid. This responsibility must rest primarily with those nations which have not suffered invasion and subjection, and the help they give must be given generously and swiftly. At the end of the last great war, unfortunately, adequate arrangements had not been made; adequate arrangements were not in operation until a full year after the end of hostilities. This time, when greater problems face us—which I have not time to develop now—we must be ready. Organisation of the collection and distribution of the necessary supplies will be a very great task, requiring the collaboration of the countries of supply and such representatives as are available of the over-run countries. It will necessitate the speediest effective administration and the establishment of some sort of United Nations organisation.

I planned when I was in office a staff college where men and women of the Allied nations, including representatives of responsible volunteer agencies with the necessary knowledge and experience, could be trained in co-operation for the important and vital duties of bringing life and hope to the oppressed peoples and enabling them to restore their normal life. Some such international reconstruction service there must be, first, to assist in providing regular distribution of the necessities of life, and, second, to create the conditions under which the free peoples can begin to build their own free institutions, not the least of which will be those working-class organisations which have suffered so bitterly at the hands of the Axis Powers and without whose democratic assistance the new Europe will never work on democratic lines. Ambulance work and the necessary police work will not be enough. Never has mankind suffered such material destruction as in this war. The power of modern Weapons of war and the pursuit of the scorched-earth policy have resulted, and will continue to result, in enormous devastation.

It will be the duty of those nations who have escaped the worst to come to the aid of those peoples who have experienced the worst. And so, from the immediate human tasks, we pass to the next phase, that of giving the peoples rescued from the horrors of the Gestapo and Nazi rule the opportunity of re-establishing themselves so that they can, by their own will and by their own effort, begin to lay the foundations of the life they would wish to lead. The United Nations, stretching over the Seven Seas and spreading over the globe, must, in the spirit of the Atlantic Charter, work for the realisation of the fundamental unity of mankind. I never remember so much meaning and so much hope compressed into such few words as President Roosevelt's simply stated Four Freedoms. Maxim Litvinov said at Geneva some years ago that peace is indivisible. So is human progress, and so is prosperity. We cannot profit out of the misery and poverty of our neighbours; we cannot profit out of their insecurity and their fears.

The world, vast and unknown in the days of Cabot and Christopher Columbus, is now but a small unit in the universe. The increasing numbers and speed of surface craft on the seas, the swiftness and range of the world's aeroplanes, the modern facilities for inter-communication have made the earth but a small spot in God's structure, so small indeed that now there is no room in it for the animosities of the past, or those policies of the past, which divided rather than united mankind. Therefore, when mankind has bound and healed its wounds, it must begin to tread down the evils of narrow nationalisms and outworn imperialisms and to work for the prosperity of all rather than for the prosperity of the fortunate few through the exploitation of the many. There will need to be, under the authority of the United Nations, organised agencies of various kinds working creatively on these large political, economic and social tasks. I have not the time on this occasion to develop the need for the early revivification of the constructive sections of the League of Nations, the I.L.O., and the Health and Economic Sections of the League, or for the co-ordination of world transport, including civil aviation, or other similar and very large questions. Still less have I time to dwell on the larger aspects of the political government of the world in the future, or even on particular aspects of it such as the relation of the democratic nations to Colonial territories.

There is one phase, however, of our future problems to which I should like briefly to address myself. This period of war has witnessed the passing of an economic epoch. The Atlantic Charter, the Lend-Lease Agreement, the Wheat Convention, the Anglo-Soviet Treaty, are the first milestones on the road to a new epoch. We are now passing from the era of the economics of scarcity, and may, if we choose, pass into the era of the economics of abundance. The underlying principle of all these declarations—and I know that some of them are open to varied interpretations—is co-operation in place of the competition of the past. Reading between the lines of these documents it is clear that the terminology of the nineteenth century is quite inapplicable to the conditions in the middle of the twentieth century. The old conceptions of free trade and protection, for example, do not square with the economic facts of to-day. Certainly, in their nineteenth century crudity, they hold out no hopes for the future. To my mind they have little in common with the two-way policy of Lend-Lease which has been adopted during the war to enable the free, fighting nations to achieve their common war purposes. I believe this enlightened policy, embodied in Clause 7 of the Lend-Lease Agreement, must find a permanent place in the post-war world for the attainment of the common peace aims, that will make this, to use the illuminating phrase of Mr. Henry Wallace, "the century of the common man." Who is there who would deny that the principle of ability to contribute, so effectively operated in wartime, is no less wise and desirable for the common good in times of peace?

I do not believe that at the end of the war the world must inevitably face a generation of penury. One way to ensure it would be for the industrialists to squeeze the life out of the primary producers of the world. After all, the great majority of mankind still live on and by the land. To impoverish them by a policy of uneconomically low prices deprives the minority of mankind of all real prospect of prosperity. The Draft Wheat Convention, which I think, in passing, is inadequate as regards its relief provisions, is a pointer to the new policy which I think must be applied to other basic natural products if we are to secure a steady flow of them to meet the needs of mankind without alternating gluts and shortages, and to assure the producers of reasonably stable prices at a level which yields to them the standard of life to which they are properly entitled, and by so doing to provide markets for the output of those engaged in industry. That is why I assert that prosperity, like peace, is indivisible, and why therefore the good of the world depends upon the progress and prosperity of its parts.

The world does not lose, it gains, through the progressive improvements of the standard of life of the peoples, wherever they live, whatever their colour, whatever the state of their economic development. Freedom from want, therefore, must be the cardinal aim of the future as a means to prosperity for all. In this direction the I.L.O. and the Economic Section of the League, both of which are alive and survive the political structure, have a great part to play. But I believe we must go much further in the direction of economic collaboration. The fundamental reason why poverty need not be the lot of mankind is that there are still extensive tracts of territory rich in natural resources which have hardly been tapped, if tapped at all. The real problem is how to make them available for the common benefit. I do not believe myself that it can be effectively solved by letting loose concessionaires, or allowing the virgin regions to be overrun by hordes of financial freebooters. What, in my view, the world must face is the establishment of what I would call an International Development Board, with a parallel Finance Board, to assist in the economic reorganisation and development of the war-stricken, impoverished and under-developed countries. Unable to aid themselves, these countries should be able to look to some authority to advance the means whereby they can add to the world's resources, and at the same time increase their own prosperity. Plans for that assistance to them should be worked out now by the United Nations, in co-operation with the countries which will require aid at the end of the war, not merely to get rid of the ravages of the war but to set their feet on the path to a new prosperity which they never enjoyed in the past.

To sum up this aspect of the problem, it seems to me that there are three stages of economic reconstruction; first, immediate succour to those in dire need, secondly, at the same time, steps towards their rapid rehabilitation through the period of convalescence, and, thirdly, the early establishment of machinery for the long-distance development of the world's economic resources for the good of all, and the House will, I am sure, be glad and interested to learn of the progress that has been made by the United Nations with their plans in these directions. I will not at this stage of our discussions embark on the complex political problems which will arise as the war draws towards its victorious close. Indeed the wider issues of the future to which I have referred have already occupied a good deal of my time, but it seems to me to be necessary from my own point of view, having given some thought to these problems, if we are to get a true presentation of the problems involved, to emphasise first the world aspect. Internal conditions in all countries will be largely determined by the general world lay-out. I have tried to stress my view that we are all now "members one of another." It is said that one's man meat is another man's poison, but one nation's subjection is not another's salvation, nor are the poverty and degradation of some nations consonant with the true prosperity of other nations, even the greatest and the most powerful.

I now turn to the home front. The tasks of the turnover of our war industries to peace-time purposes, accompanied by the demobilisation of the Forces, are tremendous. They bristle with a wide range of different problems, with which my right hon. Friend now is fully familiar even if he does not know all the answers. These problems could not really be outlined, let alone discussed, in a two days' Debate, but there is a side of it to which I wish to refer. The view is held in some quarters that, on the order to cease fire, all the controls and restrictions imposed during the war will be thrown overboard. I firmly believe that that way lies disaster. It would inevitably result, where goods were in short supply—and many will be then in short supply—in scarcity for the poor, high prices for the well-to-do and another bagful of ill-gotten gains for the profiteers. It would result, I am certain, in panic and chaos in the industrial transformation. It would hamper the proper and orderly change-over in our industry to an active peace basis. Two can play at that game, and, if such a mad policy were followed by other countries, confusion and chaos must follow and all hopes of implementing the economic understandings which have been reached during the war will be destroyed for a generation, and perhaps longer, to the disadvantage of the world at large. I assert that; so long as the abnormal conditions of war-time persist and are carried into the armistice period, so long the major controls must continue to operate. I am now expressing a view which will not meet with the general consent, but I believe that experience may well show that some of those controls may be an essential element in our new, economic structure. On the other hand, personal restrictions, where security reasons for their retention cease to operate, should be removed as quickly as possible and my right hon. Friend relieved from many anxieties. Any attempt, therefore, to fling away as a whole the body of controls which has been built up, and to scurry back to the old catch-as-catch-can methods, would be suicidal, and I earnestly hope that the Government will not listen to the clamour of those interests which have forgotten nothing in the past and learned nothing in the present and can only see the future as a return to the days they knew before the war.

Three questions were referred to in the Gracious Speech on which I should like to touch. We are informed that the Government have the question of education under urgent consideration. I welcome the statement. Educational legislation is long overdue. Education Bills are few and far between, and the lag between existing legislation and the new needs is so wide that only a bold advance can adequately meet the situation. We have, I fear, been slow to appreciate that the greatest asset of a nation is its growing generation, for they are its future parents, its future workers, and its future citizens, and on that rests the future quality of the nation. I hope, therefore, that the President of the Board of Education will present before long a Bill worthy of the opportunity to give the country the finest educational system in the world. There are three published documents which are somewhat inter-related and in certain aspects closely inter-related—the Barlow Report, the Scott Report and the Uthwatt Report. No doubt Occasions will be found for much fuller discussions of these important statements than is possible in this short Debate. It should, however, be said now that the proper utilisation of land and the space available to us in this country, as well as the proper use of coal, power and transport resources, cannot be adequately debated without raising the question of land ownership. I am afraid that there are elements in this House which would regard that discussion as controversial. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] In that case we shall be happy to receive subscriptions on the signing of our membership cards.

The success of the schemes which are involved in the proposals arising out of these Reports depends on the character of the central authority to be established. In my view it ought not to reside in a single Department. There should be a National Development Board presided over by a Minister free from departmental responsibilities and composed of the Ministers whose Departments are concerned with various aspects of national development. The location of industry, the preservation of the best agricultural land for agricultural purposes, national parks, transport, housing, schools and hospitals—this wide range of problems cannot properly be dealt with within any one Department. After all, there is a difference between an architect and a master mason. The architect is presented with the first problem, and he is the man who should work out a plan. The Board which I suggest, representative of the Departments concerned, could lay down the major principles and the policy to be followed. It would then be the duty of responsible departmental officials to co-operate with one another in applying them to the many complex problems which will arise. Questions often do arise between Departments and some of them are often controversial, but the vast majority of them are settled by agreement. I feel that these proposals would provide a workable set-up for dealing with our internal devolopment in all its ramifications after the war. In fact, I had an ambition to be chairman of that development board in more difficult days.

The third home front problem to which I wish to refer is that of social security. When I invited Sir William Beveridge to undertake his arduous and vital task—and I offer my personal thanks to him for his great services. [Interruption.] I have not seen the Report, but I believe that Sir William Beveridge is a man of vision and imagination—

Mr. MacLaren (Burslem)

He is getting married.

Mr. Greenwood

What I had in mind in inviting Sir William was the fulfilment in large part of the pledge given regarding freedom from want. I wish to see adopted a general plan which would secure for all—not for a single class of people—freedom from want in adversity, however that adversity might be caused, whether through lack of work, through sickness, through disability, through bereavement or through old age. Sir William Beveridge's Report, which I have no doubt will be bold and far-reaching and will form a basis for discussion, perhaps the finest the world has ever seen, will put the country under a debt of gratitude. Had it been in our hands to-day or over the week-end, I doubt whether we should have been in a position to give a considered judgment upon all the many complex problems and proposals with which it undoubtedly deals. It will be studied as a matter of urgent duty by all sections of the movement that I represent. I hope that the Government will give early and sympathetic consideration to my object in asking Sir William to go into the matter namely, social security for all, and that in the New Year the House may have an ampler opportunity than the present Debate affords to consider this important and constructive document. Now that hell's foundations are beginning to quiver, it is right that we should look forward to the future. But we must march forward towards the light of a new day. I wish to remind the House of memorable words spoken by Mazzini: Education, the fatherland, liberty, association, the family, property and religion—all these are undying elements of human nature: they cannot be cancelled or destroyed, but every epoch has alike the right and duty of modifying their development in harmony with the intellect of the age, the progress of science and the altered condition of human relations. Hence, democracy, informed and enlightened by these ideas, must abandon the path of negation; useful and opportune so long as the duty before us was that of breaking asunder the chains which bound mankind to the past; useless and barren now that our task is the conquest of the future. If it do not forsake this path, it can but doom itself to perish—as all mere reaction must perish—in anarchy and impotence. This great war is being fought for "the conquest of the future," so that men may live in freedom and light and not "in anarchy and impotence." To that this country is pledged. That pledge must and shall be kept.

Major Sir Edward Cadogan (Bolton)

It is obvious. Sir, that a great many hon. Gentlemen shared my ambition to catch your eye, and this circumstance may indicate not only that the subject matter of the Amendment is of universal concern, but that there may be a considerable number of expert planners in our midst. If my assumption is correct, I would like at once to assure the House that I lay no claim to be numbered among the prophets. I will, therefore, confine my observations to a criticism of the policy of planning rather than to its technique.

While I am quite prepared to allow that the particular functions of the new Ministry of Works and Planning, as far as they deal with present and urgent needs, are of very definite value, and while I am quite prepared to concede that much of the planning which is engaging the attention of other Ministries, such as the Board of Education, is unexceptionable, I believe that in the Government's long-term policy it is in the rather more visionary proposals that there are grounds not only for criticism but also for apprehension. When we are informed of all that the various Ministries are engaged upon for after the war, I cannot help envying the Government their optimism, in which I shall not be expected wholly to share. Their own forecast seems to be to pre-suppose conditions subsequent to the cessation of hostilities rather more favourable to the exercise of their activities than are likely to be fulfilled. We who lived through the last war can bear testimony to the exactly similar proposals made by those who subsequently endeavoured but lamentably failed to carry them into effect.

But this analogy will, no doubt, be challenged by those who argue that we shall have profited by the mistakes and the miscalculations of our forerunners. I hope we shall, but I cannot help in the first place observing that I do not think that human nature is likely to have undergone a very marked change in the last 25 years, and I am left wondering whether the planners have taken human nature sufficiently into account in building up the new order which we all earnestly hope will materialise. I must also remind hon. Members that we have made during the war many mistakes identical with those which we made during the last war, and so when hon. Gentlemen wax enthusiastic about the wonderful new England which is going to be built up on the devastation and ruin of the second great world war, in contrast with that which emerged from the last, I cannot help being reminded of Dr. Johnson's definition of second marriage—"The triumph of hope over experience." The gloom with which that quotation has been received suggests to me that perhaps it has gone home.

Mr. Messer (Tottenham, South)

We did not think it in good taste.

Sir E. Cadogan

It is a quotation from the great lexicographer, of whom I have been a great student. A great deal of what Dr. Johnson said was true, and therefore not in good taste, but I shall continue to quote from Dr. Johnson and to tell the truth so long as convenient opportunities present themselves to me. To judge by the public speeches and the correspondence we have read in the Press, there are not only a very great number of persons who consider themselves amply qualified to meddle with the universe, from the great arch-planner Sir William Beveridge, whose Report we have been asked to implement before we have seen it in print, to the humble little scribbler who contributes from Upper Tooting his pathetic contribution to the general pool of ideas of world planning. Everyone who comes along with a plan regards it as sacrosanct; to criticise it is blasphemy and stamps one only as a reactionary Philistine. It has often happened to me in the House of Commons that I have been criticised for opposing a Measure, generally a Private Member's Bill, when in truth and in fact I have only been opposed to the stupid method by which the desirable object proposed was to be achieved. It is a very old Parliamentary trick, rather a dirty one; but I am not going to have it said that I am against planning because I criticise the methods of planners. I am just as anxious as anyone else that we should plan for the post-war period, but as a Member of Parliament whose vote, I hope, is far more powerful than any planner's pen, when I examine the plans of the more infatuated enthusiasts, I certainly reserve to myself perfect freedom not only to criticise but to condemn, if need be, the methods I consider we should not employ. We often hear of the "blueprint stage" of planning. I hope there will not only be a blue-print stage but also a blue-pencil stage. Bear in mind that if there is want of due consideration, if your plans miscarry, the effect will be just as calamitous as any defeat on the field of battle.

My criticism of the Government's planning is that it does not seem to be in the proper sequence. The trouble with certain planners is that they start at the wrong end. They are even now hoodwinking the public with all sorts of elaborate schemes of ideally-constructed cities, national parks, green belts, gargantuan arterial roads, free public school education for all, free meals for all, and all the rest of it. They do not seem to appreciate, or they are too obtuse to understand, that there are two conditions precedent to the fulfilment of all those beautiful day-dreams. The first is to discover some more effective substitute for war as a means of settling international disputes than has been devised by the wit of statesmen hitherto. It is of no avail to set about physical reconstruction until we can improve upon the League of Nations. What will be the merit of rebuilding the Guildhall, or the Wren churches, if they are going to be blown over again a few years hence?

Mr. MacLaren (Burslem)

To give more work.

Sir E. Cadogan

Is it within the range of possibility that all our building will have to resemble that strange structure which has recently been erected upon the Horse Guards Parade? That would be standardisation with a vengeance. Let us put an end to war before we make plans of that sort, and such a happy issue out of our afflictions is not likely to be fulfilled in the twinkling of an eye, and certainly not so long as our men of science, instead of applying their intelligence and their energy to the cure of malignant disease, are fully engaged upon inventing higher and more powerful explosives, a task in which they seem to be singularly successful. Until we fulfil this condition precedent, a considerable number of our young men will, instead of being engaged on constructive work and development work, still have to man the Navy, the Army, the Air Force and the munition factories. Have the Government taken that probability into consideration when calculating what resources will be available for them to carry out their short-term policy? This brings me to the second condition precedent which must be fulfilled before we start smearing the whole of England with ferro-concrete and tarmac. There must be a definite and immediate planning of our finance and industry and commerce. That will not be exclusively a national enterprise. The problems of currency, exports, tariffs and kindred questions will have to be settled by the whole civilised world in conference. Does anyone suppose that is going to be a swift, perfunctory process? Until we know where we are financially and commercially, it will surely be futile to talk about picking up the City of London by the scruff of its neck and depositing it somewhere else. A distinguished figure in the shipping world observed to me the other day that the trouble of the planners is that they seem to fail to appreciate that unless we can get our trade and industry and commerce well and truly planned first, there may even be a danger that we shall not be able to feed the 40,000,000 of population that inhabit these islands. When there is the possibility of a shortage of food after the war, it seems madness to talk of all the luxuries and the amenities which are going to be available to all classes, free, gratis and for nothing, when the war is concluded.

It may be that the people of this country will even be hungry. When they are asking for bread and are offered nothing more appetising than the Bressey plan, it may be that those hungry people will become angry. We know from historical precedent that a hungry and angry people are something to be reckoned with. I want to know, and we all want to know, whether the Government have any comprehensive scheme for planning our trade. I should like the Minister in charge to answer that question. Are we to revert to the position of the inter-war period when every country was struggling for an export surplus at the expense of every other country, with the resultant high tariffs, exchange manipulation, subsidies and widespread unemployment? Have the Government any proposals for regulating the distribution and exchange of products by international settlement? Have the Government any plan for the stabilisation of agricultural products, manufactured goods and raw materials? If not, any attempt at resettlement will achieve very little. How is it proposed to raise the standard of living, not only within our own boundaries but in other countries? Have the Government any plan or policy for the remuneration of services rendered? From the Debate we had recently upon wage policy, I should say that the Government have no such policy. If they have not, we shall continue on our road to inflation. These are the kinds of plans which must take priority of those upon which Ministers and others at present seem to be exclusively engaged.

Before I resume my seat I would like to say a word on one special aspect of physical reconstruction. There seems to be some danger of over-centralisation. I can, of course, see that there must be control, co-ordination and direction from Whitehall, unfortunately, but it seems essential that those who dwell in the towns and the rural areas affected should have some voice in how their own localities are to be planned. It will otherwise be difficult to reconcile the attitude of the Minister or the permanent official in Whitehall, who cannot see the trees for the wood, and that of those who live in the areas which are being dictated to, and who cannot see the wood for the trees. I am certain that no Government that flouted local feeling in these matters would survive a week. Perhaps the situation might be easier if we could get away from the obsession of standardisation. After all, the great variety of our country is one of its charms, but standardisation might merely reduce us to a low level of drab repulsiveness. It has been well said that you cannot standardise excellence but only mediocrity. I have no doubt that some of the planning may be overdone. I think it is already creating in the minds of various citizens a feeling of apprehension and insecurity which is not good for the morale of the nation. To threaten all our institutions with revolution or extinction will not make the problem of resettlement any easier.

Finally, I appeal to the Government to give the House some assurance that before everything, good, bad and indifferent, is thrown into the crucible of the Minister of Works and Planning, Parliament will be allowed to exercise some vigilance over what is fashioned out of the material and, still better, to have some control over what is to be scrapped and what is to be salved from the melting pot. Everything that is archaic is not necessarily defective and valueless because it is archaic. Hitler has already wrought sufficient destruction on our ancient monuments; let us have, hold and cherish as many as remain. No doubt we shall be well advised to discard all those outworn physical and moral values of an unregenerate past, but if anyone will be good enough to explain to us which they are, I might comment that I am just as much against high ecclesiastical dignitaries sitting in judgment on our banking system as I should be against Mr. Montagu Norman attempting to revise the Athanasian Creed. Whoever is in charge of our destinies after the war, whatever Government may be in power, whatever revolutions may be effected and whatever measure of success or failure may attend their efforts, we shall certainly need some inspiration. That, I believe, can be drawn only from the age-old traditions and institutions which it is at once the privilege and the duty of democracy to retain.

Sir Geoffrey Shakespeare (Norwich)

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bolton (Sir E. Cadogan), as he always does, has introduced a breath of realism. I want to follow his example and to confine my remarks to one or two of the main and fundamental issues connected with physical reconstruction. There have been three Debates in another place on this subject, and the issues are ripe for development in the House of Commons. We ought to have more days to debate them. I should like to start by congratulating the Government on securing the production of the Scott and the Uthwatt Reports. They are absolutely first-class documents. I do not wish to deal with the Scott Report now. The Uthwatt Report is a model of what reports should be. The problems dealt with in it are exceedingly important, although few people in the country are conversant with them. I do not pretend to be. The legal history of every issue discussed is set out with brilliant condensation. It really is a model Report.

I wish I could congratulate the Government on the way they have handled this problem in the last two years, in regard to machinery. They started by making a fundamental mistake by taking planning away from the Ministry of Health. I should have thought it was obvious to anyone who has had long experience that, as the local authorities are, in the main, both housing authorities and planning authorities, it must lead to delay and difficulty if the local authorities had to go to one Department for one thing and another Department for another. It happened that the present Minister of Health was the only Minister who knew both about housing and about planning, and that must have been the reason why they took planning away from him and gave it to a Department and to a Minister, Lord Reith, who knew nothing about them. As soon as he started learning his job he was sacked, and somebody else was put in—Lord Portal—who had to learn the problems from the beginning. To make matters worse, the Paymaster-General was appointed, and you can see him skirmishing down Whitehall, street fighting against all the Departments that deal in any way with planning. He has had responsibility without power. I am sure this lay-out will not do. It is absolutely fantastic. It is time that an end was put to this higgledy-piggledy—if I may borrow the phrase of my colleague the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Strauss)—and we had a wide vista of rational planning for the future. May I also join with my hon. Friend in what he said about the planners? I am sure the present lay-out and elevation will have to end, and end quickly, and some Minister of Planning be appointed with a department, and that department and he be subject to challenge in the House.

It is no good thinking that you could have a commission which would take this out of the hands of Parliament. That would never do. If you want to bring in the planners, you can bring them in on an Advisory Council. I have no objection to a commission managing a financial estate. It may be useful. Let me warn the Paymaster-General that whenever planners start talking about the beauty of the countryside a wild light comes into their eyes, and there is no sin they would not commit. If he must have planners on his Council, I advise him to choose a few good economists who can add a little freezing mixture into those boiling solutions which have been concocted by the planners.

Mr. George Griffiths (Hemsworth)

Could there not be a few working women On the job as well?

Sir G. Shakespeare

Certainly. Let me now come precisely to the main issues of the Uthwatt Report. They are so vital that I make no apologies for focussing the attention of the House on these very practical issues, because on the judgment of the new Minister of Planning on these issues the home of every citizen depends, the rent he pays depends, and the whole condition and progress of post-war reconstruction depend. There are four main problems in the Uthwatt Report. First of all, there is the acquisition of development rights; secondly, a betterment levy; thirdly, compulsory powers for the acquisition of land; and fourthly, the powers of local authorities in built-up areas, particularly great areas like London. I will touch on each of those matters.

As regards the acquisition of development rights, without going into elaborate details, the scheme provides that all development rights in land shall vest in the State, if they lie outside built-up areas, on payment of fair compensation, and such vesting is to be secured by the imposition of a prohibition against development otherwise than with the consent of the State, accompanied by the grant of compulsory powers of acquiring the land itself when it is wanted for public purposes or for approved private development. From the point of view of planning this is, of course, excellent and it is ingenious, because it enables the planners to do what they have always wanted to do, and that is get rid of the mischief of shifting values. Suppose that around London you wanted to have a wide green belt, the land could be sterilised under a scheme, but if that is done at present all the values attaching to that land may shift on to the adjoining land, sending up the value of that land and making development more difficult. Therefore, if you acquire all the development rights in all land, from the point of view of planning you collect in from the areas to which the values have shifted and you pay out compensation to the areas which have been sterilised—the green belt. It is a very attractive proposition.

Mr. MacLaren

Will the hon. Gentleman first of all define what is a development right and then say how it is valued?

Sir G. Shakespeare

I would direct the hon. Member to the Uthwatt Report.

Mr. MacLaren

The matter is an important one, and I must press the hon. Gentleman for an answer.

Sir G. Shakespeare

It is the right to use your land for any purpose you like in conformity with a scheme.

Mr. MacLaren

And how do you arrive at the value?

Sir G. Shakespeare

Surveyors can do so. It will be very difficult to do, and I do not differ from the hon. Member in that respect. Although this scheme helps the planners, I am extremely apprehensive as to its results on development, for the following reason. Without going into details, the basis of compensation in the Uthwatt Report results in the owner of land being compensated with a sum which will be about one-third of the amount he would get if he now sold his land in the open market. I am not arguing whether that is just or unjust. It may be justice without mercy. I simply say that if, as a result of these proposals, you offered an owner of land one-third of what he would now get, there is this result. It is one thing to disappoint a man in his expectations. If an owner of land does not develop his land and you deprive him of the right of development, you set a value on it and give him compensation, and it may well be that he would never have developed the land, so that, therefore, he gets something he never expected to get. That is one proposition. It is, however, quite another proposition to apply the same principle of compensation to all current contracts and transactions, because if that is done, it shatters values immediately, and reduces by two-thirds the security on which all housing is financed. One hopes that after the war there will be an enormous amount of development going on all over the country.

If this proposal as regards the acquisition of development rights came into effect, you would start by shattering values, upsetting confidence, and creating uncertainty. There might be scores of millions of pounds advanced by banks, insurance companies, individuals, housing associations and solicitors based on the value of the land. All those loans would be hanging in the air, because you would have reduced by two-thirds the value of the land on which the advances were made. I do not believe the way to secure the intensive development which we all want is to start by destroying confidence. I do not say these difficulties are insuperable, but I bring them to the notice of the Paymaster-General so that he and the Government can reflect on them.

The second doubt I have about the development rights proposition is that once the owner has been compensated for the loss of his development rights—and the Report says that the average value of development rights should be about £200—he has the bare site value left, the average value of which, the Report says, should be about £40. The owner has been compensated for the loss of the development rights, and he has no further interest in development. Indeed, he may be rather aggrieved: he has got less than he thought he should have got; and, thereafter, he is not interested in disposing of the site value of his land. Therefore, in almost every case of development the private developer will have to go to the central authority, as is suggested in the Report, to ask them to exercise compulsory powers to secure the prime land. This is a completely new principle, as far as I can see, in practice or in law: to exercise compulsory powers—and, indeed, the Report says that compulsory powers should be granted for approved schemes—in favour of one kind of individual against another.

The third apprehension that I have about development rights is this. As my hon. Friend the Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) recognises, the question of valuation is going to be one of extreme difficulty. You cannot calculate your global sum of compensation—which the Report puts at £180,000,000 less deduction—and distribute it, until you have made the most careful surveys of all the land in the country, to make quite sure that it goes to the owners of land who had, in fact, some development rights. I asked two surveyors how long that valuation—and it is an entirely hypothetical valuation—would take. One said five years, and the other said 10 years. At a time when the nation is crying out for a maximum housing effort and the rehousing of families, I wonder whether you are going to help development if, in the first place, you start by shattering values and destroying confidence, and, in the second place, you embark on a scheme which for five or 10 years must stop all development. Until the valuation is made there is no basis of value on which ordinary transactions can take place. I submit those three points to my right hon. and learned Friend and the Government for their consideration. I beg them not to slow down development in the name of the preservation of beauty, because if they do a frightful Nemesis will overtake them at the hands of millions of families who will be condemned to continue to live in their vile surroundings.

May I say a word about betterment value? I do so with great tredipation, because I know how my hon. Friend the Member for Burslem feels on this subject. I ask him to be patient for a few minutes. This betterment value, if there is any confidence left after the development rights scheme has been embarked upon, will absolutely shatter that remaining confidence. If I have apprehensions about development rights, I have none about betterment value; because I am convinced that it would absolutely slow down development. In the first place, again, it introduces an element of uncertainty into all building development, because neither the developer nor the prospective tenant has the slightest idea of what future developments are likely to be. Imagine that I have an estate in the country, in nice surroundings, and offering a fine prospect. Tenants will come there, away from the congestion of cities. Under the new scheme, I can, of course, only be a lessee; and I can offer only an interest that I myself enjoy. I cannot offer freehold ownership. The magnificent system of housing development financed by the building societies is completely changed. You cannot offer a freehold piece of England to an owner-occupier again. You may offer only a lease. There is magic in freehold ownership, but the word "lease" has sometimes an ominous ring. I do not say that you cannot educate your public to a new conception: one has seen the leasehold system in the Hampstead Garden Suburb, for example; but it will take a lot of education.

Suppose I am trying to develop an estate. My tenant says, "What is the value of my lease; what have I to pay for it?" I do not know what sort of development will take place in the neighbourhood. It may be that a tube will go out there, that an industry will be located there, or that a new garden city will be put there, and, against my will and the will of my tenants, a new value will be created. When a tenant comes in he wants to know what his obligations will be. Now you are threatening to put upon him a tax which is contrary to the principle of every other tax I know—that is, that you pay out of income received or for services rendered. This tax is to be paid every five years on the increased value of the site, in respect of a hypothetical betterment which puts no money in the pocket of the person paying the tax, and which very often he dislikes. You are violating the fundamental principle of taxation in forcing the tenant to pay this rather vicious capital tax amounting to 75 per cent. of the increase of the site value. I am convinced that that will kill all development.

Do not think that I am reactionary. I am a passionate housing enthusiast. Those who were with me in this House during the great slum crusade will perhaps agree that I am a practical housing enthusiast. I was then associated with Sir Edward Hilton Young, now Lord Kennet, who never got the credit due to him for what he did. We rehoused nearly 1,000,000 slum dwellers in five years, as compared with 200,000 who had been rehoused in the previous 50. While that was going on we provided homes for 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 persons who were rehoused by private enterprise, by the sort of activity of which I have been speaking. We have got a brilliant building organisation in this country; and the success of that five years was entirely due to the fact that the local authorities were working to the full on what they could do—slum clearance—and private enterprise was working to the full on what it could do. We shall need both. If you create conditions in which private enterprise cannot do it you will do a great disservice to millions of families.

On the question of the compulsory acquisition of land, the Uthwatt Report is admirable, with one small exception, that you can never exclude from the value of land that part that arises from public demand. If you do, you shatter values straight away; for example, you would shatter 80 per cent. of the value of the land in Scotland. I do not think it is worth doing. With that exception the arrangements for speeding up the purchase, of land and doing away with all cumbrous machinery are absolutely first class, as are all recommendations in the Report which apply to built-up areas. The essence of that is that all developing, planning and housing authorities should be given the widest and fullest powers of purchase. Take London as an example. It was useless in the old days proceeding to clear the slums and just taking out the eyes in London. You wanted to purchase whole areas and re-develop as if no houses were on the site. That was why in the 1935 Act we suggested the principle of redevelopment areas, and we included it in the 1935 Act. We hope that that would be the method of advance in the future, and I am delighted that the Uthwatt Committee has come down in favour of that redevelopment method. After a long experience I am convinced that that is the only method of dealing with built-up areas. I hope sincerely that we may at a later time get an opportunity of discussing it, for I have very firm ideas of how a great deal of delay can be cut out of the process. These developments, although the total loan charges may frighten the Treasury, after a generation have paid for themselves. It has been one of the tragedies of modern times that in London there has only been one development by, public authority in 30 years, at Kingsway. Do not let the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Treasury or the Government be afraid of the cost of redeveloping great areas in our towns and cities.

Sir Francis Fremantle (St. Albans)

That pays for itself, does it not?

Sir G. Shakespeare

It pays for itself. I have stated that whatever the cost of values in the built-up areas, a local authority is not debarred from buying land and building the best kind of flats. It can, whatever the cost of land values within built-up areas, provide modern accommodation in flats at rents which the working class can afford. I will not develop that point. The Government must, at the first opportunity, first of all announce the machinery of planning and development, and secondly—I do not say that they have to do this in a week or even in a month—they have to let all the developing authorities know the view of the Government on the questions of compensation and betterment and every related problem. I hope that in coming to a decision on some of the main issues of the Uthwatt and Scott Reports they will be guided by common sense and practical experience and will be able to compensate the planners with a leaven of common sense. If they do that, they will come to a right judgment. Above all, as regards London, they have to get the authorities to agree on a plan and all the legal preliminaries started in advance. That is vitally important. Once the Government announce their decision upon all these matters, we can save years of time, even in war, if we overcome all the legal preliminaries in dealing with these great areas. We can be in a position when the war ends, I believe, to tackle the problem quickly and urgently once the planning authority—the L.C.C.—has swept away the jungle of all the preliminaries. It will then be in a position to start building after the war is over. No time must be lost. It will be the greatest opportunity that the Government and the country and all local authorities have ever had. I honestly think that we have a tremendous chance in the next 10 or 20 year; of making an England nearer the England we would desire to see. The process of reconstruction and redevelopment itself will provide so much work and employment that it may well be the central pivot of the whole post-war prosperity.

Mr. Ridley (Clay Cross)

I hope the hon. Member for Norwich (Sir G. Shakespeare) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his consideration of the Uthwatt Report. I do not do so for one or two reasons, the major reason being that there will be a separate and a much wider opportunity for that examination. It would be entirely ungenerous of me if I did not say, however deeply we may differ from the hon. Member's conceptions, that it would be a good thing if, in the subsequent consideration of a very complex problem of this kind, some other Members of the House gave as much consideration to it as the hon. Member has evidently given. I desire to make one or two comments on the speech made by the hon. and gallant Member for Bolton (Sir E. Cadogan), but as he has now left the House I propose to restrict myself to the point of saying, I hope seriously, that if his speech reflects the mind, the temper and the mood of his political asso ciates in the face of our post-war problems, we shall not on this side of the House travel that road very far. He seemed to take the pessimistic interpretation of history and generally to subscribe to the description of the Conservative party as being a party so conservative that it failed to recognise its own conservatism.

I got up to support the Amendment and press for more precision as to the practical conclusions of the Government in peace and post-war development. I propose to deal with only one small segment of the very wide field dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood). I do not disclaim altogether, limited and inadequate though they may be, the references to post-war problems contained in the Gracious Speech. They at least reflect the growing confidence in our great national effort, and they are a recognition that we must prepare now for some of our post-war problems, for nothing can excuse us if in this field we are caught unawares and unprepared, as in fact we might be. It is only a few months ago since the Prime Minister in this House said, with a little of his customary jocularity, that in 1918, when the war ended, nobody was more surprised than the War Cabinet. There will be no possible excuse, in my view, for being caught like that this time, and I beg my right hon. and learned Friend the Paymaster General to be aware of the necessities of the situation.

I express no opinion at the moment about the Beveridge Report in its rumoured terms, but however generally acceptable the recommendations of the Report may prove to be, it deals with only one, and seeks to deal with only one, aspect of our post-war problem. It seeks to ensure that in distress a citizen shall have a larger measure of social help. But in the matter of unemployment, which is the real test of good society, it must be our purpose so to organise humanity that we minimise in that matter the need for social help. I do not take the view that on the morrow of the armistice all we shall need to do will be to apply the blue prints of an earthly paradise, for peace hath her problems no less pronounced than war. We shall have to face the needs of a Europe, starved, famished, scorched, ridden by disease and pestilence, and a world in which over a very wide area there is severe social dislocation. These needs may involve for a time equally severe limitation of supplies. I do not mind that much, so long as in whatever limitation is to be experienced there is a burden of complete equality, but if there is aroused for a moment a suspicion that there is inequality in that experience, the fuse will be well alight.

But this condition can, and must, be only temporary. We must plan against it, and it is the burden of my plea that in planning we must plan for a new society and not for a re-establishment of the old one, with all the cruelties of that society which were all around us in the dreadful years between the two wars. We were living in a world that could give us more food than we could eat, more clothes than we could wear, and more houses than we could live in, yet we condemned thousands of fine, decent people to go hungry in a world of plenty. We made them search in vain for the necessities that could have been in glut supply. The new society must have as its purpose the satisfaction of the needs of many and not merely the acquisitive instincts of the few. The housing of our people is a need of urgency and gravity. In my constituency there are two rows of houses, still occupied, that are reputed to have been built temporarily for George Stephenson's labourers. But the replacing of the ugly and inconvenient by the attractive and convenient must not depend entirely upon the materialistic views of the speculative builder. It must be a great social purpose, and to its achievement our people must be urged to bend their energies with as much devotion as we have seen during the past three years.

But they will only do that if they can be convinced that their work is in pursuit of social purpose and not in pursuit of the improvement of the balance-sheets of limited liability companies. I know of no more cruel irony than the sight which presented itself to us in this country during the pre-war years. Millions of people were insufficiently fed, and millions of acres were inadequately cultivated. In the last few years, in the stress of war, we have seen great changes. Our soil is nearing its maximum output and should be so maintained. Our agricultural policy in post-war years will necessarily be guided by some international considerations and agreements, but I suggest that none of them will prevent us from tilling every acre of our agricultural soil for the purpose of creating foodstuffs with which to prevent hungry, unemployed men from gazing despairingly at the barren acres of our countryside. We must plan immediately to satisfy the primary needs of shelter and food and then call our people to a new effort in the building of a new social fabric, a fabric in the creation and maintenance of which they will be encouraged to devote their energies—in other words, to give all to a good society instead of, at the point of grim necessity, trying to extract from a bad one. We must plan for a socialist and not for a capitalist objective. Along that road, in my view, this House must travel willingly or unwillingly. Some steps are so, imperative that they must not, be avoided or delayed. Industry for the creative purposes of peace must be subject to the same social control as has been found necessary for the grim necessities of war.

In this connection I specially mention credit and investment. Here indeed is the heart of our problems. It must not again be possible for great privately-owned corporations, in the sphere of finance, to have power and authority greater than that of the State itself. The guidance of credit into productive and socially useful channels is a matter of primary importance, and I beg my right hon. and learned Friend to deal with it boldly. But we must go further than that. There have been many Debates in this House about what is called nationalisation. I have seen Members shudder at the mere mention of the word, but an extension of this field of State activity is inescapable. I will use as an illustration an industry with which I am familiar. We shall be faced in the post-war world with a choice between a privately-owned railway system so financed as to make it incapable because of its financial structure for it to modernise itself and therefore make an adequate contribution to the life of the community, and a railway system, publicly owned so that it can be modernised and made a real artery of life and trade. There are other industries of which the same assertion could be made, and if my right hon. and learned Friend thinks along these lines—as I hope he does—I hope he will advance along that path and insist on the removal of whatever barriers may be found in his way to present this point of view to the House. I believe that if we neglect this point of view we do so at our peril. In the post-war world I want to see an orderly democratic society constantly expanding the happiness of its people and being courageous in the methods it uses.

Finally, in this connection I wish to make a personal appeal to the Prime Minister. I am aware of my right hon. Friend's many grave preoccupations, but his voice now has, throughout the world, an authority almost unequalled in the long history of British politics. He has brought us from gloom and despair to the exhilarating enjoyment of great achievements. I am very conscious of, his very many grave preoccupations, but he can now, if he will, say the word that will make it plain to all people that, having retained the instruments of political democracy, we mean to use them with energy for the achievement of great social purposes.

Captain Digby (Dorset, Western)

As this is the first time I have had the privilege of addressing the House, I hope hon. Members will accord me the indulgence which I believe is customary on such occasions. Our first task to-day must be to win the war as speedily as possible. I particularly realise that the first charge on Ministers' time must be the conduct of the war? and questions related to it. I also fully appreciate that at a time like the present it would be inopportune to try and introduce detailed measures for reconstruction which might give rise to controversy which would divert attention from the war. I also realise there is a difficulty that it is not very easy, even now, to foresee exactly the kind of world conditions which we shall have, to expect. But I think it is most necessary that we should be thinking about what will happen after the war, and that we should have in our minds the kind of world we want to set up afterwards.

There seem to me to be two aspects of reconstruction, the international and national, and although these two are very different and should be kept apart in our minds, I feel we should recognise how closely interwoven the two are. For example, in the last 100 years or so this country has lived primarily by its export trade, and yet, in the years immediately preceding the war, there was a growing tendency in all parts of the world for increasing industrialisation in all countries, even in countries which had been agricultural up to that time, with the result that markets were harder to retain than they had ever been before. Unless some measure is taken about this by the consent of nations, presumably the same tendency will continue after the war. So we have to ask ourselves the very relevant question: How are we to continue to earn our living as a nation?

I am all in favour of equal access to the trade of the world. That is a very good principle. But one must, I think, be careful to make certain reservations in this connection. We have to admit the fact that different standards of living prevail in the different countries of the world, and economic agreements will have to take full account of that factor unless tremendous trouble is to be caused. If the industry of this country, which is relatively adaptable, needs certainty as to the future, how much more so does not agriculture, which is a special interest to the constituency which I represent? Agriculture has suffered all too long from uncertainty, and as the prosperity of agriculture is bound up with that of the rural districts, the rural districts have, in turn, suffered very much. I, therefore, feel it is most important that we should apply the principles of the Atlantic Charter concerning improved labour standards and economic, advancement to the country districts just as much as to the towns, where economic reward is greater and opportunities are so very much more various.

When we come to this question of equal access to the trade of the world, I think the House will agree that we cannot possibly apply that to mean that the British farmer has to compete on equal terms with the Canadian prairies, any more than we expect those who earn their living by cotton in Lancashire to compete on equal terms with the cotton mills, for example, in Japan, where I have seen girls working and thinking they were adequately paid on only 1s. 2d. a week. But there are other countries where wages are even lower, and where there is considerable industrial aptitude which is bound to be developed in the years after the war. One of the big factors at the time of the outbreak of the war was the drift from the land. Figures can be produced to show what was happening, but what was, I think, more convincing than any figures was to go oneself to country villages, from house to house, and there one would see very clearly that the younger men were being drawn away to the towns, and the villages had come to consist of an extremely large proportion of older people. That is a state of affairs which I hope something will be done to check, and I believe it is something which can be checked if it is tackled in the right manner. Furthermore, I believe that this war may be a very great opportunity to do that. The war has broken into the lives of a great many men, especially among the younger men, and there must be many in the Services and in other forms of employment which they did not occupy before who are asking themselves what they are going to do after the war. If they think that rural districts are to go on declining, it is not very likely that they will want to go there, but if they know that the Government are to do all they can to revive the prosperity of rural districts, I feel that this drift from the land can be successfully checked.

I would like to say a word or two about the Scott Report, which I have read with very great interest, as I think it sets out in a most attractive way rural problems which I have been mentioning. I was interested to see that at the beginning of the Report it was found necessary to say that the Committee were unable to subscribe to the view that the countryman is inferior to the townsman. It seems to me a very unfortunate thing that that kind of thing still has to be said in 1942. I admit I am prejudiced—I am a countryman—but I do not feel we can make that distinction when dealing with the welfare of the country as a whole. I welcome the analysis of problems which the Scott Committee set out, and there were very many points there, I thought, which were very good and needed making, and which I know will be widely read. I feel sure in my own mind that the Scott Committee were right in thinking that one of the primary causes of the decline of the agricultural districts was the inadequacy of local housing. In that respect I feel that their recommendations have a lot to be said for them, especially with regard to the provision of electricity at cheaper rates in the country districts.

The Committee go on to speak of the revival of village life. That is a very good thing indeed, but it seems to me that they rather make the assumption that, by reviving village life to a greater extent, country people will no longer take any interest in the towns. That, I do not think to be the case. Although village life is of the greatest importance, and although it is most important that village halls should be provided in every village, as is advocated among the recommendations, which I fully endorse—a most important thing—at the same time the town has and will continue to have its attractions. I am afraid that, as far as young people are concerned, we cannot expect whist drives to act as a substitute for the cinema, and therefore I think it is a pity that more was not said about rural communications. My experience in my constituency has been that a number of the villages complain, or did before the war, about the inadequacy of bus services, and I was only able to find a very fleeting reference in the whole of the Scott Report to the question of bus services. I hope the Government will bear in mind this very real problem for small, isolated communities; even if it might involve some expense upon the Exchequer.

I have dwelt at some length on the application to agriculture of post-war reconstruction, because it particularly affects my part of the world, but obviously it is bound up with the wider problem of national reconstruction and the much wider problem of international reconstruction. International reconstruction is a thing which it is very difficult to discuss at the present moment. Just as I feel that in the countryside we have, through the war, a great opportunity to change things after the war, so in the international sphere we have a great opportunity to re-plan the world in agreement with the other United Nations more in the fashion that we should like to see. The Duke of Wellington once said, "My rule always was to do the business of the day in the day." Sometimes I think it best to consider the business of to-morrow, and I feel that, if we consider the business of to-morrow just as we do that of to-day, it will help a great deal in our post-war policy.

The Paymaster-General (Sir William Jowitt)

It falls to me in the first place to congratulate the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Western Dorset (Captain Digby) on the magnificent way in which he has got through the ordeal of the first speech. To him it did not seem to be an ordeal at all. He has brought to our Debate some of the charm of his native county of Dorset, and I hope that we shall hear him on many future occasions.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), who supported the Amendment, said, this is the first of many Debates which we shall, no doubt, have on reconstruction. It is the beginning of the beginning. May I suggest certain principles to which I, at any rate, shall always try to adhere in the course of our reconstruction Debates? The first is this: I believe we must always remember that victory, complete and unqualified, is the necessary foundation for any reconstruction work at all. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted by talk of reconstruction from the stern task of securing that victory. In the second place, all talk of reconstruction is a mockery if the world is to remain hereafter under the constant fear of aggression. A system which secures us from aggression, whatever the cost, must be built up if we are to have any effective reconstruction. Thirdly, let us by all means be completely realistic in our approach to reconstruction problems. Let us face up to the difficulties, which are very great, frankly and squarely, because, though the difficulties are great, I firmly believe that the opportunities are even greater. Fourthly, I shall by throughout to avoid slogans—Homes for heroes, wars to end war, the promised land, land of promises and the like—for after all, better times will be won not by slogans, but by the enterprise and the efforts of the common people. Lastly, when I hear some of this criticism of the idea of planning I believe that the greatest asset that we have, or have ever had, is the character and the ability of our own people. Planning is good if it enables our own people to develop their own personalities. It is bad if it reduces us all to the level of ants in an ant heap.

It is difficult for a man to grow to his full stature, mentally, morally or physically, if he lives in a slum, if he is undernourished, if he is diseased or if he is half educated. If, therefore, by good planning we can remove some of those evils and bring about some system of social security, we need not fear that our people will lapse into a dull, drab uniformity, like the Hitler Youth. On the contrary, we shall enable our citizens each to develop his own personality and individuality, and we shall rear a race of free men fit to rule in a democracy.

That mention of social security leads me to say this. The House is to receive to-day the Report of Sir William Beveridge. I myself received it a day or two ago, and I think it falls to me on behalf of the Government, I think I may say on behalf of the House, indeed I think I may say on behalf of the nation, to thank Sir William Beveridge for the untiring work which he put into his Report. The ideal of social security is one to which all thinking men and women will subscribe. What steps can we take in the immediate future towards the attainment of that ideal? We must survey his work not in isolation, but as a part of our reconstruction work as a whole. He covers a vast field, he proposes sweeping changes, and it would be foolish to suppose that the Government can here and now make any pronouncement of their views upon these matters. [Interruption.] We prefer to read and consider the proposals before we make a statement about them, and Members in all quarters of the House would be well advised to follow that example, to spend time in studying what he says and to consider his proposals in relation alike to finance, to industry, to the maintenance of international security as well as to our social services generally. We shall lose no time in embarking upon a close examination of his proposals. In the meantime, I shall be ready on behalf of the Government to receive any representations which persons interested may desire to make. I should hope that early in the New Year Members of the House will be in a position to discuss the main questions raised in the Report. When the Government have had the advantage of hearing their opinions expressed in Debate they will be able to indicate to the House their general attitude.

Sir Percy Harris (Bethnal Green, South West)

The right hon. and learned Gentleman used a phrase which is capable of wrong interpretation when he said he would be prepared to receive representations from persons interested. Does he mean vested interests?

Sir W. Jowitt

I mean from anybody who can throw a useful light on the proposals which are being considered.

Mr. Granville (Eye)

The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that the Government will consider the Report. Does he mean that the Government received the Report only in the last few days, or have they had the Report for a week or so, and has there been a critical examination?

Sir W. Jowitt

We received the Report only in the last few days. A part of the Report I received only the day before yesterday.

Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)

The Minister said that the Government will give their decision after they have heard the discussion in the House. Shall we not get a deliberate statement from the Government on their attitude to the Report as an introduction to the Debate?

Sir W. Jowitt

No, Sir; surely the suggestion I make is a sensible one. The House is a very mine of practical experience and information on these subjects. Why should not the Government come to the House, not shirking the issue, but asking the House to help us by telling us what their experience is on these difficult problems, and in the light of that discussion coming to the conclusion which they think right?

Mr. Greenwood

May I put it this way, because this is what I would prefer—that early in the New. Year there will be a fairly reasonable opportunity, before the Government have made up their mind, for the House to express its considered opinion after giving the matter proper thought?

Sir W. Jowitt

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. That is just what I had in mind. I am afraid that I have a large area to cover, and I think it would be useful to the House if I were first to give a brief sketch of the post-war position as it seems to us likely to develop, pointing out the difficulties and also indicating the opportunities. Then may I tell the House the machinery which we have adopted in order to try and think out the answers to some of those difficulties? Finally, may I select some of the problems—and it must be an arbitrary selection, because there is not time to deal with more than certain of the problems on which we are working—and make a few observations about them?

I start with a sketch of the post-war position. It seems obvious that however the war ends the immediate post-war period must be one of acute difficulties. The extent to which our people and our industries have been mobilised for war is far greater than it was in the last war, and the transformation of those industries from war to peace cannot be easily accomplished. There will be for a time, but not for a long time, shortages of all kinds of war materials which will prejudice the change-over. However skilfully we plan, these difficulties are bound to arise. They will call for the utmost tolerance, good temper and unselfishness on the part of all sections of the community, and the House can help by preparing the country for them, but making it quite plain that this period will not last long. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wake-field asked a question about rationing and control. So long as these shortages last, we regard it as inevitable that we must continue with a system of rationing so as to ensure that what is available is fairly shared. Moreover, it is out of the question that all the measures of control which have been necessary to direct our whole national resources to the war effort, covering as they do every form of industry, manpower and raw material, can be immediately relaxed.

Clearly we can lay down no hard and fast rules. Each measure of economic control and the question of its continuation must be looked at in the light of the post-war circumstances. Otherwise, the difficulties of the transition will be multiplied, and essential raw materials and resources will not be directed, as they should be, to turn our economy over speedily from war to peace. I believe that there is a psychological difference between this war and the last. After the last war nearly everybody was saying, "Let us get back to 1913." I am by no means so sure that everybody will say now, "Let us get back to 1938."

Sir Herbert Williams (Croydon, South)

Was not a large difference that we were able to buy bananas and a few odd things like that in the last war?

Sir W. Jowitt

I have a great deal of ground to cover, and I am trying to deal with serious issues. Facing this thing realistically, there will be one other danger hanging over our heads. That is the danger of inflation. In a situation in which there will be a shortage of consumer goods and a large amount of pur chasing power competing for a small supply, we have all the classical conditions for inflation. Let me say a word as to my understanding of this complicated question of finance. Most of us will agree that finance must no longer be our master. It has to be our servant, but let us not forget that a servant may be ill-treated or over-worked. All our plans must be subject to the limitation of our financial resources.

Mr. Woodburn (Stirling and Clackmannan, Eastern)

Would not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that there is a distinction between financial resources and economic resources and that there are limitations only to economic resources?

Sir W. Jowitt

There are limitations to all kinds of resources, and we shall not be able to do everything at once. I do not believe it is realistic to think that you can step straight from the rigours of war into a world of abundance. You must take first things first and try to find by good management an order of priorities which reflects the priorities of the national needs. If we do this properly we may reasonably hope that the resources for the execution of our plans will become available at a steadily mounting rate. I must not be taken as meaning that we must, in order to avoid inflation, take the opposite course of deflation. The one does not cure the other, any more than you can cure a burn by a frost-bite. I think it will probably prove desirable to maintain so far as we can our existing price structure, so as to avoid the consequence of disequilibrium which must arise from any rapid alteration of that structure. After the war there will be an immense demand for capital goods and consumer goods alike in this country and throughout the world. As soon as we have got over the temporary difficulty caused by shortage of raw materials and as soon as we have turned over our plant from war to peace production we shall be ready to play our full part in meeting the pent-up demands of our own people and of the rest of the world. This should result in years of very good employment, during which we shall have the time to perfect our plans for keeping our industry and employment at a high and stable level.

After the people of this country have experienced the benefit of brisk employ ment in two wars they will not accept the view again that a large volume of unemployment is inevitable. We have learned much in the last 20 years, and it should not be beyond our powers, by a combination of methods, to achieve far greater success than in the past. We have had trade cycles, booms and slumps. Nothing seems to be more certain than that if you allow an artificial, unregulated boom to take place, it will be followed in a few years by an artificial, unregulated slump, artificial in its origin but real enough in its consequences. In the past, when the first sign of slump became obvious, everybody drew in his horns, everybody ceased his expenditure, with the result that the slump became worse. I believe, as the right hon. Gentleman said, if we can only see that the primary producer receives, and continues to receive, a fair return for that which he produces, we might go a very long way to breaking this trade cycle; and if notwithstanding our efforts the slump shows signs of coming we shall then—not in the boom times, but then—embark on our schemes of capital construction so as to secure a steady level of employment.

I have always felt that war has this advantage over peace. In war you have a perfectly simple direct objective, the defeat of the enemy, and everything which stands in the way of that objective is put ruthlessly on one side, but in peace-time the objectives are so diverse, so different, one does not know which to aim at. I myself suggest that the objective we ought to aim at is the maximum employment of our people, and that to that end all our policies should be subordinated. We should allow nothing to stand in the way of our success in the fight against unemployment. The more efficient our industry becomes the more likely we are to succeed in that fight. If we can produce adequately we can consume adequately, and if we consume adequately we can produce adequately.

The difficulties that have arisen in the past are not difficulties of production but of distribution. We have been in the past a creditor nation paying for our supplies of food and raw materials in part by exports, in part by services such as shipping, and in part receiving them as interest on our overseas investments. Our investments have been depleted, our shipping, at least for a time, has been seriously reduced. Yet we shall continue to need a supply of raw materials from abroad, and producers of those raw materials, if they want to sell them, as they certainly will, must take payment for them in exports. No nation can in the long run import unless she is prepared to export, and equally no nation can in the long run export without being prepared to import, unless she is prepared to upset the whole world economy. And we must realise this simple truth. The more prosperous other nations are the more prosperous we shall be ourselves. We must aim deliberately at improving the standard of living not only in this country but throughout the world in order that consumers abroad may be able to buy that which we produce. We must pursue on expansionist policy. It will not be enough for industrialists to follow the methods of their fathers or their grandfathers. Industry must be on its toes; it must show the same energy and activity as our armies in North Africa.

But, given freedom from fear of aggression, I suggest to the House, and I am not being unrealistic, that the prospects of an increased standard of living throughout the world are almost unlimited. Think of Russia being able, assuming you get a satisfactory system against aggression, to devote to the services of peace all those vast energies she has had to devote to the service of war. Think of China, waking from her long sleep, and, under her great leader, looking forward to years of peace, order and good government. Think of India, with the leaders of India settling among themselves and for themselves their great political problems and being able to pay attention to improving economic conditions. Think, too, of our Colonial peoples—and surely the last word in Dominion trade has not been said.

The misuse of science has got us into this trouble, and the right use of science has got to get us out of it. I believe we must become as a nation more scientifically-minded, prepared, whatever industrial system we may adopt, to adopt scientific methods and to aim at the greatest efficiency in those methods.

Sir H. Williams

May I ask whether that is the reason why the Government only have two Members with a scientific training?

Sir W. Jowitt

The problem which I have been putting to the right hon. Gentleman who began the discussion does not concern ourselves alone. It plainly concerns the whole British Commonwealth of Nations. It concerns that group which we have come to know as the United Nations. Indeed, it concerns the whole world, but in the first place the idea of the United Nations holds out the greatest hope for the construction of a system for the future. Collaborating in peace—as we have already collaborated in war—to banish the possibility of aggression, and then, in a world freed from the fear of aggression to build up, by joint action, a higher standard of living through the world, is the task which the United Nations should undertake. We have signed the pacts to which the right hon. Gentleman referred—the Atlantic Charter, the Mutual Aid Agreement and the rest—and they point the way, but they have to be worked out in far greater detail.

We have given much preliminary thought and work to these matters, and we are ready, and indeed are anxious, to press on with these discussions with our Allies. We are confident that, given good will on all sides, these discussions will lead to international collaboration of a kind which will carry the United Nations over the grave difficulties of the years immediately following the war and will lay the foundations of a new era of international trade. That is what we hope, and to that we are prepared to make our contribution. It is a great satisfaction to us to know that the International Labour Office, which has developed since the last war, has not only maintained itself but has functioned with great efficiency during this war. In working out schemes for raising international standards, His Majesty's Government will continue to collaborate with that organisation. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs hopes to deal particularly with these aspects of reconstruction in the course of the Debate at our next Sitting.

That is a sketch of the post-war world as we see it—temporary difficulties, a period of very good trade and a very fair prospect of reaching and holding a very great advance in our standards and the standards abroad. Now let me tell the House the machinery we have adopted in order to try to do some of those things. I am not a Minister of Reconstruction. There is no single Minister who could take sole charge of reconstruction problems. The problem is so vast that I doubt whether any one man ever lived who could tackle it. My task is merely to try to organise and co-ordinate the work of reconstruction which is being carried out by various Departments of State. Departments and their Ministers are immersed in immediate war measures, and it was thought desirable that there should be a Minister, standing a little apart from the immediate conflict who could consider all post-war problems as a whole before those problems become actual problems of day-to-day government. I am, therefore, head of an organisation which co-ordinates the views and anticipations of Departments about post-war problems. I should make it quite clear that my position in no way derogates from the responsibility of Departments to their Ministers.

I preside over a Ministerial Committee. We try to work out practical schemes of reconstruction to which effect can be given in the first few years after the war. We presuppose in our plans a social and economic structure designed to secure equality of opportunity and service among all classes of the community. We do not confine ourselves to domestic problems. We must have regard to the economic needs of the various nations and, in particular, to the problem of adjusting the free life of small countries in a durable international order. To assist us, We have two official committees, one external and one internal, composed of highly placed and experienced civil servants. So far as my own staff is concerned, it is relatively small. It consists of ten or a dozen people as I am able to avail myself of the knowledge and experience in the possession of other Departments. Nearly all problems can be classified as falling primarily within the province of one particular Department. When any given problem comes up in our survey we ask the Department primarily concerned, in the first instance, to prepare a paper analysing the problem and suggesting methods of dealing with it. That paper then comes before the appropriate official committee. May I say that the work of these official committee's is most valuable? I can say that because the scheme was started by the right hon. Gentleman who is sitting opposite me. The idea is that you should have that problem, which is set out only from a departmental point of view, looked at from a much wider point of view from all angles, by experienced people. When that is done, and it is most valuable that it should be done in that way, it is passed on to the ministerial committee. If we come to a conclusion of sufficient importance it is then passed to the War Cabinet for approval.

Mr. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us whether any major decisions have already been taken?

Sir W. Jowitt

I am coming to some of the actual problems. If the hon. Member will wait, he will hear one or two of them. I have described the machinery. May I make it plain, when I am asked about my plans, that when any particular scheme comes to fruition it is for the Minister primarily concerned to announce it to the House? He will get the ha'pence, but he will also have to bear the kicks. When he gets the ha'pence I shall like to think that the Ministerial Committee did something in the way of winter digging which has enabled him to harvest his crop. When he gets the kicks I shall bear them with that degree of fortitude which is appropriate in a colleague's troubles. There are instances where you cannot say which is the primary Department. For instance, with forestry, which I have been looking into, there is no Department primarily concerned with forestry. There is also demobilisation, which is the concern of many Departments—the three Service Departments equally. You can hardly say there is any Department primarily responsible. In those cases I take the role of what I call the primary Department.

That is the machine. Now I shall turn to some specially selected problems. The first I take is one that was mentioned in this Debate, and I take it first because it may come upon us even before the war ends. It is the problem of the Occupied Countries. Many countries have been occupied, and I beieve that, on the whole, the occupation has been more ruthless and more brutal than any occupation recorded in history. The condition of some of those countries to-day is appalling and is likely to get even worse. Millions of people have been deprived not merely of the necessities of civilisation but of the necessities of life itself. "Plague, pestilence and famine," from which we pray to be delivered, will be stalking through those countries. The people are deprived of their transport, their industries and their machines. Their medical services have been sometimes uprooted and sometimes destroyed. Not only Christian principles but elementary principles of common sense make it incumbent upon us to do all we can to put these things right and to do it at once.

More than a year ago, an inter-Allied Committee was set up in London to work out plans for European post-war relief. The preparation by the Allied Governments of their estimates of requirements is now well advanced. Since that Committee was set up, the war has extended to the Far East, and the relief problem now becomes a world-wide problem and not merely a European problem. Discussions have been initiated with the United States Government, which is represented on the London Committee, as well as with the Dominion Governments, and there is general agreement that the United Nations must be fully ready to meet the problem, when the time comes, as the first step in the restoration of economic conditions after the war. Consultations are now proceeding as to the best method of achieving that common purpose.

I come now to a different topic which will come upon us immediately the war ends—demobilisation. It is quite obvious that we must prepare plans for demobilisation in advance. They cannot be extemporised. It is obvious, secondly, that any scheme of demobilisation must be subject to military needs. No fighting man can expect to be demobilised at all if and so long as his services are required for some definite military purpose. Subject to that, the broad principle on which we have drawn up plans is this, that discharge will be based in the main on age plus length of service. I do not want to say more about this at this time, because I think hon. Members will agree with me that it is probably undesirable to get into a demobilisation discussion at this present stage of the war. If I may use a golfing metaphor, I think it would be a glaring case of taking our eyes off the ball. What I would suggest is this. It is all a matter of time, but in good time and in due course we may disclose to the House the plans we suggest in order that they may be subject to discussion and debate and in order that we may see to what extent, if at all, those plans need amendment in the light of that discussion. It is of the greatest importance, first of all, that our scheme should be fair, and secondly, that it should be recognised as fair, because unless it is so, the scheme, however subtle and clever it may be, will not be followed. I would add that in our plans we have not overlooked the question of education and training for the young whose educational careers were interrupted by the war. Neither have we forgotten the disabled. We owe it to them to see that special provisions are made for them. We have got all those matters under detailed review.

Then, of course, after demobilisation, we have to get the workers back into peace-time industry. Therefore, we have come to the conclusion that we must survey the industries, industry by industry, because there is no one common problem that applies to all industries. Different industries have different problems. The structure of industry will not fit into one common mould. In some cases, perhaps, we should run the industry as a national concern, using possibly the method of the public corporation. In other cases the system of unlimited and free competition may serve us best. There are intermediate forms and types of structure between these two extremes. So long as the consumer is adequately guarded and is not crushed between the upper and the lower millstones, and so long as absence of competition is not used as an excuse for and does not lead to inefficiency, the Government will be very ready to take part in these discussions. For my own part, I feel quite convinced that in the future the points of contact between the Government and industry need to be strengthened.

Mr. A. Bevan (Ebbw Vale)

Are we to understand that the Government have taken no decisions on these matters at all?

Sir W. Jowitt

I am myself about to engage in discussions with the representatives of Industry and the Trades Union Congress on these questions, together with the question of the export trade. No, we have taken no decisions with regard to any particular industry at the present time. We want, before we do so, to hear very clearly what the industries want, how we can best help them. They are studying their own problems and they are likely to be able to judge their own problems better than we are.

The export trade is, of course, a matter of great importance, because we shall always be dependent upon getting a substantial proportion of our food and raw materials from abroad. It must provide in the future as in the past a considerable source of employment for our people. That involves very energetic action by our own producers, and I hope it will involve this, too—I hope international co-operation will be forthcoming, so that we can secure an equitable distribution and orderly marketing of world supplies, so as to avoid the excessive variations in the prices of primary products which, from time to time, we have suffered from in the past Of course, it may well be that some of the export industries we used to rely upon in the past are no longer open to us to the same extent. We shall have to rely on technical advance, and the capacity of the human race to adjust itself to new conditions, to get out of that difficulty. Capital must be ready to seek new opportunities and labour must be prepared to be more fluid. The Government must be prepared to help in both directions. My hon. Friend the Secretary to the Department of Overseas Trade is presiding over a Committee of officials and business men on this question of the export trade, and we hope to receive their report shortly.

Mr. Shinwell (Seaham)

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is touching a most important topic, namely, the rehabilitation of our export trade. I think he might amplify a little what he has said. He said the Government must assist in both directions, meaning as regards providing the capital and providing for the fluidity of labour. As regards the first matter, have the Government any plans in mind as regards assistance to industrialists in regard to the export trade? When the right hon. and learned Gentleman says the Government "must," is that an exhortation to the Government or is it his own intention?

Sir W. Jowitt

I said two things. First, that capital must be ready to seek new opportunities, and secondly, that labour must be prepared to be more fluid. I said the Government must be prepared to help in both ways. The actual help they are giving at the present time is this. First of all, they are entering into discussions to see what they can do to help. At the present time industry and industrialists are very much concerned with the war effort, and we are constantly up against the difficulty that if we ask people to switch over from that and give their time and attention to these baffling post-war problems, they say they can do it only at the expense of what they are doing now. Therefore, we have to proceed with caution and tact and at the same time with determination; and I think the most practical thing we can do is to go through this survey of the various industries and to make it quite plain that we as a Government are quite ready to listen to any representations from industries concerning their problems of the future. I am sorry to deal with these subjects very briefly, but the trouble is that we are debating the whole field of reconstruction, and there are so many problems. That problem alone would afford ample material for a day's Debate, but I must pass to the next problem.

I want next to say somthing about housing, because it is obvious that in our plans for the future that must be given a very high place. Tremendous need arises for the repair of war-damaged houses, and for the building of a large number of dwellings of the right kind in the right places for those who have lived in slums or overcrowded houses, for families separated by the war, for young, couples who have married since the war started, and for others. If we are to get right down to it and to avoid delays, much preparatory work must be done before the war ends, such as the acquisition and surveying of sites and the preparation of lay-out plans. That is the background against which we are examining this problem. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health has his Central Housing Advisory Committee, and, in co-operation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, who is responsible for the rural aspect, he is busily assessing the needs and preparing ways and means of meeting them, just as my Noble Friend the Minister of Works and Planning is busily dealing with such problems as those of raw materials. I have not been unmindful when studying the Scott and Uthwatt Reports that housing raises the whole question of the acquisition and development of land. Housing in Scotland raises problems of great magnitude and complexity, and to these my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is already giving the most active consideration.

That leads me to a few words about the Barlow, Scott, and Uthwatt Reports. I cannot say more than a few words, although each would be worthy of a separate Debate. All three advocate, though not in precisely the same terms, the establishment of a central planning authority. The Barlow Report discussed the geographical distribution of the industrial population and analysed the effect on our urban population of the industrial spread between the two wars. The Scott Report called for the rehabilitation of rural England. Then came the Uthwatt Report, with its two problems of compensation and betterment. All those reports performed a very useful service. I shall select one of them to-day—time forbidding the rest—and say something about the Uthwatt Report.

That Report raised four main propositions; first, the machinery of the Central Planning Authority; second, the acquisition by the State of development rights in all undeveloped land outside built-up areas; third, the conferment on local authorities of wide and simple powers for the compulsory acquisition of land; and, last, a periodic levy on increases in annual site values. Some of these matters have been considered by our Ministerial committee and passed on by them to the War Cabinet, and I am able to-day to announce certain decisions. With regard to the first point, the central machinery, the Government have been giving consideration to the recommendations in the recent reports of the committees presided over by Lord Justice Scott and Mr. Justice Uthwatt in regard to the constitution of the Central Planning Authority.

Both Reports rightly attach great importance to the correlation of Government policy in regard to town and country planning with the policies that are being pursued in agriculture, transport, industry and labour, public utilities, etc., policies compendiously described by the Scott Committee as "national organisation" and by the Uthwatt Committee as "national development," and both recommend the appointment of a Cabinet Committee for the purpose, under a specially nominated senior Minister as chairman.

The Government fully accept the need for such correlation. It would not be appropriate for me to say anything at this stage which might bind this or future Governments to final acceptance of the Committees' view that this correlation could best be carried out by a Committee of Ministers presided over by a senior Minister. It is also relevant that, as the House is aware, the consideration of future policy in reconstruction matters is already proceeding under the supervision of a Committee of Ministers over which I preside, though all decisions of major importance arrived at by that Committee are submitted to the War Cabinet for their approval. In the initial stages it will naturally fall to that Committee to deal with the preparatory work which will be carried out during the war for bringing a national policy in regard to the control of the use of land (including town and country planning) into close accord with the general economic and social programme.

With regard to the machinery for the control of the use of land and the administration of town and country planning, the Government have come to the conclusion, after giving full weight to the views expressed by the Scott and Uthwatt Committees, that in a matter so vitally concerning the lives and interests of everyone in the country the fullest measure of direct responsibility to Parliament must be maintained, and that executive responsibility must rest in England and Wales with a Minister of Town and Country Planning and in Scotland with the Secretary of State for Scotland. In view of the increased responsibilities which will attach to the post of Minister of Town and Country Planning in the future, and of the importance of the Minister being able to devote the necessary time and attention to his task, the Government have decided to ask Parliament to constitute a separate Ministry of Town and Country Planning in England and Wales, under a separate Minister. This Minister will be a Member of the Ministerial Committee already referred to. His main function, in association with the Departments concerned, will be to ensure that the translation of the agreed national policy into terms of land use and physical development is conceived as a single and consistent whole.

While they have not felt able to accept the recommendations of the Scott and Uthwatt Committees for placing the main responsibility for the control of town and country planning in the hands of a permanent Commission, the Government fully recognise the value of a permanent body of this kind as part of the machinery of the new Ministry. In then-view, there will be important functions for which a permanent Commission, acting under the Minister of Town and Country Planning, would be the most appropriate body, in connection, for instance, with the acquisition of development rights, if some such scheme were to be adopted. There are, no doubt, a number of other matters, such as the management of property, which could be usefully delegated to a Commission. In the legislation to be submitted to Parliament, therefore, the Government contemplate making provision for the appointment of such a Commission to assist the Minister of Town and Country Planning.

Sir H. Williams

What is now to happen to the Ministry of Works and Planning, which has had three different titles in about three months?

Sir W. Jowitt

The necessary adjustments will be made. This constitutes a separate Ministry of Town and Country Planning.

Sir H. Williams

But what will happen to the Ministry of Works?

Sir W. Jowitt

It will go on.

Mr. Bevan

I think the whole House will have welcomed this decision by the Government; but will the Government undertake, as an additional Ministry is being appointed, a reconsideration of all the Government machinery, to abolish some of the redundant Ministries? If we have many more Ministries, the whole House of Commons will be in the Government.

Sir W. Jowitt

I look forward to the day when I shall see the hon. Member associated with me. The second question is the acquisition by the State of development rights in all undeveloped land. We have as yet come to no conclusion on that very difficult problem. Our investigations are proceeding, and we shall welcome any representations—no doubt, we shall receive them—to see whether we should advance on these lines or on some similar lines or on different lines altogether. With regard to the third point, which is very important, the Government are proposing, in forthcoming legislation, to confer wide and simple powers on local authorities for the compulsory acquisition of land. It is, of course, no good having the powers unless you have the wherewithal to exercise the powers. The Government consider that local authorities, when preparing their schemes, should have in mind the objective that they should ultimately become self-supporting.

This aim may not always be possible of achievement, at any rate for some time, and the extent to which schemes are not self-supporting will no doubt vary with their nature and general objectives. We shall be prepared to discuss with local authorities the extent to which, and the manner in which, assistance can be afforded by the taxpayer towards specific purposes forming part of the new plans in association with the assistance which is already given for such purposes as housing, schools or roads.

In regard to the fourth point—a levy on increases in annual site values—we have come to no conclusion. That is probably a highly controversial matter. At any rate, it cannot become effective for some seven years. In any case it is not so urgent as the other problems.

Mr. Messer

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman contemplate any change in the form of local authorities?

Sir W. Jowitt

I am not going to attempt' to deal with that now.

Sir Joseph Nall (Manchester, Hulme)

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman answer rather an important question relating to town and country planning? He will be aware that of some 56,000,000 acres already within the purview of existing legislation, some 26,000,000 acres are already the subject of plans in preparation or in draft, and are these plans already prepared or in draft to be thrown overboard, or will they be considered?

Sir W. Jowitt

We certainly hope we shall be able to make use of all the existing plans. There are a few other problems I am selecting. I shall not attempt to say anything about health to-day. My right hon. Friend has had under active review all the health and hospital services of this country. He has made one statement, not long ago, and in due course I expect he will have something further to say. But I do want to say something about the whole policy of food and nutrition which underlies this. Surely, here we have learnt something during this war. The Ministry of Food has built up an organisation which has given us a distribution of food so organised as to secure the proper feeding of all classes to a degree never before achieved. Means have been devised for getting the food to the people in the best condition, in the right proportions, with a minimum of waste and with little regard to the extent or the size of the individual consumer's income. We have acquired, what is perhaps more important than any piece of administrative mechanism, a new sense of corporate responsibility. We are satisfying the basic needs of even the humblest individual citizen. Works canteens and British Restaurants in ever-increasing numbers are being installed to provide for Working people an opportunity of having a hot meal during working hours. Never before has so much attention been given to the food requirements of mothers and young children as in these war years. Thoughtful people ask, "Is it only in a period of war that special priorities are to be provided for workers, mothers, young children and infants? Is it conceivable that what has been done to keep our people in good health and good heart in a period of food shortage shall cease to be done when supplies become abundant again?" I for one cannot believe that the wise development which has taken place in the last few years should be abandoned after the war is over.

Closely connected with food comes agriculture. What of the question of agriculture? It is a matter of common sense and common prudence for our own safety and our own well-being that we should never allow agriculture to drift back. My right hon. Friend announced a temporary policy on 26th November, 1940, which was to hold the field until some permanent policy could be worked out. We have been giving very close attention to formulating a satisfactory, permanent post-war policy. Of course, it is a problem which covers a very wide field, and it has to be considered in connection with other studies and considerations of national policy. They must take time, especially as many of those engaged on them are also engaged on urgent wartime work, but we have made considerable progress. My right hon. Friends the Minister of Agriculture and the Secretary of State for Scotland hope that they will be in a position early in the New Year to embark upon preliminary discussions with the industry. The fisheries have also been under review. We have been studying the post-war condition of the fishing industry. As regards herrings, a committee is now investigating the post-war prospects, and as regards white fish the closest consultation is being maintained between the Departments and the fishing industry so as to try and put the whole industry on to an economic basis after the war.

I pass to say something for a very few minutes about another topic—forestry. I cannot leave the home front without saying something about forestry.

Sir Joseph Lamb (Stone)

Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman leaves agriculture, will he assure us that consultations with the Dominions and other countries will also be carried out at the same time?

Sir W. Jowitt

Certainly, Sir, it would be quite wrong to think that you could settle your agricultural policy in isolation. The whole problem has to be fitted in and considered as part of a concerted whole and as part of the reconstruction work as a whole.

Mr. Granville

With regard to the reconstruction of the agricultural industry, does it mean that only the farmers' union will be consulted or does it mean that the workers' union will also be consulted?

Sir W. Jowitt

I can leave that in the thoroughly competent hands of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, who will consult whoever should be consulted on the matter. I am very ready to give way to hon. Members, but I have such a vast field to cover, I have already been a long time, and I want to be as short as I can now. But I want to say something about forestry. We now have had two wars, and in two wars we have come to realise the extreme danger of our position by reason of the fact that we are so entirely dependent upon the import of timber from abroad. That is so in time of war. We have had Commissions and Committees sitting on this matter. We had in 1908 a Commission recommending a planting programme of 150,000 acres a year, and if only we had planted 150,000 a year from 1908 we would have—assuming, and it is a big assumption, that we had the necessary knowledge to do it—been in a very much better position than we are now. In 1917 we had the Acland Committee, again set up under the stress of war, and it was thanks to that Committee that the Forestry Commission was established, although the recommendation of that Committee of the planting of some 20,000 to 30,000 acres a year spread over something like 80 years was a much too small programme and was dealt with in a much too leisurely manner. Even assuming we are going forever afterwards to live in times of peace and there is never going to be another war or a difficulty of imports in war does not arise, common prudence would call upon us to ask ourselves, "Are we quite sure we shall be able to get the timber?" We were spending something like £65,000,000 a year on timber imports before this war, and even if we are prepared to go on doing that, can we get it? We do not aim at autarchy. We do not want to become self-supporting; we want to see whether we are going to get our timber. Can we disregard the warnings we have had? The Acland Committee pointed out the danger of a world shortage, and a sub-committee of the Imperial Conference repeated the warning in 1926. The Economic Section of the League of Nations as recently, I think, as 1932 pointed out the danger, and no one with any knowledge of this subject has ever said that these are mere alarmist rumours.

What are we to do? The Forestry Commission, although its work has been small—its grant has hopped about from year to year, sometimes high and sometimes low—has rendered extremely valuable service. It is, however, impossible to run a Forestry Commission on these lines. You must have a programme, be it large or small, to which you must adhere in good times and bad alike. Nevertheless, the Commission have demonstrated that no country in the world is more suitable for growing timber than our country, and they have also established a school of forestry in this country which is as good as any school of its kind in the world. Perhaps some hon. Members may have experienced the difficulty we had in the last war when working with English-grown pit props. If there was such a difficulty, if they were not up to the mark, it was because they were not grown under the best silvicultural methods. All that is now finished. We grow them as well as anywhere else in the world.

As I have said, what are we to do? We have this danger in war and we have it in peace. As there are plain warnings that in time of peace we may have difficulty in getting the goods we want, as we grow timber as good as anywhere in the world and have a school of forestry as good as anywhere in the world, the Government have come to the conclusion that we must, after this war, embark upon a really vigorous forestry policy. We have given instructions to the Forestry Commission that so far as they possibly can, and as soon as they possibly can, they must take all necessary steps to get ready to go in for this programme as soon as the war ends. We have not worked out the precise details of our programme; it must be worked out as part of our reconstruction programme, but we are prepared and determined to embark upon a vigorous forestry policy, a policy which, I am sure, will commend itself to the House as a whole.

Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)

Have the Government decided to put this Commission under a Minister who will be responsible to this House?

Sir W. Jowitt

That has not been considered, but it is one of the matters which is bound to come up for close review. I am appalled at the length of time I have taken and at the vast number of topics I still have to discuss, but I think any survey such as this would be incomplete if it did not make at any rate a passing reference to the question of the organisation and development of our utility services. Each of these problems is receiving the attention of the appropriate Minister to see whether any alteration should be made and, if so, what line the alteration should take. Take, for instance, electricity. I think everybody who thinks about it agrees that something should be done, although in the past there have been acute differences as to what that something should be. The McGowan Committee reported in 1936 and called attention then to what they described as "the complicated and in many cases uneconomic structure" of the industry. Yet the structure has not been altered. I say quite frankly that I am not in favour of change for the sake of change, but I believe there would be a large measure of agreement in all sections of the House with this proposition, that no vested interests and no politics, be they local or national politics, should prevent the business of electricity supply being organised on the most efficient possible basis. I believe that one of the most important means of helping our industry in the future is to provide it with cheap power, and the best chance of doing that is to see that your industry is so constructed as to be as efficient as it possibly can be.

As regards water supply, we have had this problem under the closest review. Before the war, the Milne Committee had been appointed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health and had made a series of recommendations, which came to this House in the form of a Bill from another place a few days before the outbreak of war. This Committee has been asked to get together again, to consider the whole problem, because if, as I hope, we intend to improve our rural conditions by putting in water supplies and proper sanitation, let us remember that it will make a very much larger demand on our available water. It is quite obvious that this must be carefully worked out and thought out, and, therefore, my right hon. Friend has asked that Committee to complete their recommendations so far as they can, as soon as they possibly can.

Mr. Levy (Elland)

Does not adequate water supply in this country involve the need for main drainage as well?

Viscountess Astor (Plymouth, Sutton)

Does it include the provision of running water?

Sir W. Jowitt

We are most anxious to bring that about. I agree that the problems of water and drainage are closely linked. I have selected some of the problems to try and show the House what we are trying to do. I could have gone on to some 50 others, but if I had done so the House would have been very impatient with me.

Mrs. Cazalet Keir (Islington, East)

Does not my right hon. and learned Friend intend to say something about the future educational programme of the Government, because it is fundamental?

Sir W. Jowitt

I intended to conclude with that. I wanted to clear up these matters first and conclude with education, which, I agree, is fundamental. Many of the problems I have indicated and discussed depend for their solution on international action. They must be held in suspense until we know whether we can or cannot come to satisfactory arrangements on the lines I have indicated.

So far as Wales is concerned, I have appointed a Welsh Advisory Council under the chairmanship of Principal Rees. I have kept in touch with their work, and I feel confident that they will give me most valuable assistance. In the same way I should like to be kept closely in touch with the opinion of Members in this House in regard to many of these matters so that I may know on what lines we might try to tackle some of these problems.

Now I want to conclude by consideration of the problem which I believe lies at the root of all our reconstruction problems and which is a sure foundation for the future, namely, education. During the last war the Fisher Act was a millstone—a milestone [Laughter]—a millstone round the neck of ignorance and a milestone in the way of education. I hope that in this war a Butler Act may prove another step along the road of advance because my right hon. Friend has had many discussions on the educational needs of the post-war world with representatives of the local education authorities, teachers, Churches and other bodies. There is no field of reconstruction in which there is a wider measure of agreement as to the need for educational advance or as to the main lines that advance should follow. The first task of any scheme of educational reform must obviously be to put the full-time schooling of the child on a sound basis. A satisfactory settlement of the necessary antecedents to educational progress is not quite so simple as is sometimes imagined, but my right hon. Friend's progress has been considerable, and there is good cause for hope that a measure of agreement may be reached, though the time is not yet for the House to take decisions, because there are many details still to be settled. I hope that at a very early date my right hon. Friend will have an opportunity of describing to the House the main topics under discussion.

One aspect particularly concerns me. My right hon. Friend has asked me to advise him upon the units of local education administration; that is to say, the question as to the desirability of retaining separate local education authorities for elementary and for higher education respectively, and I am to receive evidence in due course on that topic from the associations of local authorities. I would only say this: In all this question of the differences which exist, and the prospect of agreement to-day, I hope that all these differences will be reconciled in the interests of the nation's children, and that a measure of agreement will emerge which will give us an education system of which we may be really proud. In Scotland the particular problem I mentioned about the separation between the two units of education authorities does not arise, but my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has this subject of education very near his heart, and he is reviewing all aspects of the Scottish educational system. One of his declared objects is that training in citizenship shall take its proper place in post-war education.

I have done my long review, and though it has been very long I can plead two things. First of all, the task is an immense one; and, secondly, this is the first time I have had an opportunity of describing to the House at all the technique and the machinery which we have adopted to try to come to a solution. I said before that I did not think our problems would be solved by slogans. I am equally confident they will not be solved on the principle of "Wait and see." We shall need the best contribution which all parties and all sections of this House can make. May I say that I believe that underneath all our superficial differences, having regard to the experiences we have gone through together in this war, there is a deep underlying unity of purpose? I believe we are all of us determined to try to build up a better and happier Britain in a better and happier world. It will not be an easy task. It will need consideration, good will, unselfishness—if we can get it, international co-operation—but for my part, while I am quite realistic, I feel that if this nation can show those same qualities which it showed in those darkest days, we shall pull through to better days and happier times.

Sir Cyril Entwistte (Bolton)

I desire to dwell upon one aspect of our reconstruction. I think that the aspect of our future foreign trade is fundamental to any of the schemes which we all desire. I think we are apt to overlook, in the full employment which we enjoy to-day under war conditions, the position in which the country was before the war. It is not only axiomatic, it is a commonplace to observe that the country depends on the maintenance of a certain quantity of exports if it is to live at all. The pre-war position was that we had an adverse balance of trade. That position will have been aggravated very much when we come to the end of the war. We have had to sell a large part of our foreign investments and our revenue from shipping will probably be reduced. In addition, we shall be faced with the increased industrialisation of those countries which before the war were our best customers for manufactured goods. Take the trade in which my own constituency is mostly interested—the cotton trade. That was and still is the largest export trade, but it is only a small fraction of what it was 10 or 20 years ago. There are two reasons for that. One is the development of the cotton industry in India, and the other increased competition from Japan. There is no doubt that in our Dominions, and in other parts of the world, owing to the stress of war, there will be an enormous increase in machinery and in the capacity of these countries to produce for themselves the goods which they formerly bought from us, and the position which will face us after the war, when there will be a big depletion of stocks, will be a very alarming adverse balance of payments.

What is the Government's proposal for dealing with this position? Unless we can export sufficient to pay for our necessary imports of food and raw materials, none of the schemes of reconstruction which we all desire will be possible. The Paymaster-General has told us that reconstruction will depend for many of the things of which he has spoken on international co-operation, and he pointed out that it is essential, if international trade is to be prosperous, that countries shall regard it as an obligation and that if they want to export they must also be prepared to import and vice versa. I suggest that it is vital that the Government should be taking immediate steps at this time towards attaining this necessary international agreement on this vital factor.

What was the position in international trade in the pre-war years? Some countries had export surpluses, notably the United States of America. I know we have had an anlysis of the causes that led to the world depression of 1929–31. It has been analysed time after time and various causes have been given for it, but in my opinion the most important cause was the alteration in the respective positions of creditor and debtor nations which had resulted after the 1914–18 war and the fact that, due to that war, the United States had developed a large export surplus. For a time she was willing to lend this surplus, but unfortunately she lent in certain directions, such as Germany, where there were so many defaults that she went to the other extreme and passed the Johnston Act which forbade any loans. Great Britain built up its trade prosperity on export surpluses, but we always played the game and those export surpluses were always lent for the purpose of developing different portions of the world. The export surpluses which the United States was not then prepared to take in the form of imports of goods, resulted in a large transference of gold to the United States which deranged the whole monetary system of the world. Other nations also tried to develop export surpluses, but most of them did so under conditions of extreme and violent competition in the neutral markets of the world, and there developed a trade warfare which was also one of the main causes of war.

I submit that we have come to a stage in the world to-day when it is not possible to allow economic factors to work their own will under the free competition of nations which have enormously different standards of living. It is no good telling the manufacturers of Lancashire that by buying new machinery and reorganising themselves better they will be able to compete in the neutral markets with Japanese cotton manufacturers who not only have the latest machinery and an industrious people, but are paying probably one-fifth or one-tenth the wages which the manufacturers in Lancashire are paying. There is no possible basis on which Lancashire can compete with manufacturing conditions of that kind. What is the remedy? We often hear that we have to find some cure for poverty in the midst of plenty. We hear about the coffee and other articles which have been produced in surplus of the needs of the world and thrown into the sea. On the other hand, every one admits that the potential capacity of the world to produce is not now in excess, nor is it likely to be in excess for generations, of the actual physical capacity of the world to consume that production. How is it then that we are faced with this position of enormous potentiality, taking the world as a whole, and an apparent inability under existing conditions to absorb that potentiality?

It is very difficult to find one simple cause for a result which has arisen, probably, from centuries of complex causes, but I think the main reason why the world is in this position is a non-recognition of what I think ought to be recognised as a fundamental fact, and that is that every nation if it wants to sell goods must also be prepared to buy goods. Let us suppose that that was the general rule of the nations of the world; and that they could do it in any way they liked, could do it under a Socialist system or under a capitalist system, do it by controlling their trade in whatever way they liked. Let us suppose they all agreed—and nations do enter into agreements. I am going to lay particular stress in a moment on the Wheat Agreement in which this country, the United States of America, Australia and Canada have entered into certain obligations which necessitate domestic measures being taken which are not yet settled but which they undertake to carry out. If each country entered into an obligation with the other countries of the world so to arrange its domestic affairs that its exports and imports will balance—and in exports I of course include the invisible items with which we are all familiar—then I think it follows irrefutably that provided each country were prepared to buy as much as it sold, the world could produce to its utmost capacity and there would not be any surpluses.

Sir H. Williams

Do I understand that the hon. Gentleman desires therefore to prohibit all export of capital, which, of course, involves the necessity of having a so-called surplus of exports?

Sir C. Entwistle

My hon. Friend has asked about the export of capital. In the remarks I have made I want to eliminate money transactions. I am speaking of the balancing of exports and imports, and I said you would include in exports invisible items, but not movements of capital.

Sir H. Williams

An export, of capital is an export of a lot of capital goods, not an export of money. Therefore, that involves that the exporting countries must have an excess of exports over imports.

Sir C. Entwistle

If my hon. Friend will have patience I will deal with that point. With regard to the export of capital in the form of goods, which he says must of necessity be a surplus of exports over imports, I suggest that the only satisfactory way in which that could be dealt with would be under international regulation. We have heard how in the Wheat Agreement surpluses are to be taken care of by an international committee for the purpose of providing wheat for depressed or backward countries such as China and also the enemy-occupied countries, which will be so denuded of food. If in the past a country had a surplus of exports which it wanted to get rid of it was able to export that surplus under loans or credits and so on, which you may call an export of capital. They have generally been loans, which could be put an end to at any moment, as was the case in the United States which I have mentioned and then one immediately got a derangement of the monetary system. Why should not those surpluses be dealt with in an orderly and regulated manner by an international development commission which should have actual practical schemes of world development in countries like China and India, where these things are properly organised, and where there will be a complete distribution of any surpluses which are available on a basis of full employment? That is the satisfactory way of dealing with surpluses; but there must be an acceptance of the general rule that a country, except to the extent that its surpluses will be absorbed in a regularised way by a world development commission, must accept the obligation of balancing its imports and exports.

If that is done, however much science may increase the capacity of production and however much the machine develops, at no time will you be faced with the position of a production and supply of goods in excess of the available demand. [An HON. MEMBER: "It never happens."] Oh, yes, it does. You get them in excess of the present purchasing power. What has happened under the laws as they worked in the past? Supply is immediately in excess of the apparent available demand, and then there has to be a steep fall in prices before any of that increased quantity can be absorbed under existing purchasing power. You may say that that would be all right if it ended there, but under the system by which industry was carried on by these countries, it did not end there. Every industry was then making heavy losses and could not go on. Bankruptcy was facing the whole of the industrial system, which was forced to adopt the remedy of restricting trade to try to get rid of those very surpluses which have depressed world prices. It is this blight of the unregulated surpluses, for which there is no available demand under existing channels of purchasing power, which causes world slumps and world depression of prices.

We ought to try to ascertain the fundamental cause of the ills under which countries have suffered in the past. I submit that if countries are under an obligation to purchase as much as they sell, you will get rid of the trouble, but you want machinery for facilitating countries to buy as much as they sell In my opinion that machinery has already been provided for us in an agreement to which very little allusion has been made in this House, but which I consider to be one of the greatest achievements of this Government, and that is the International Wheat Agreement. The significant thing about that agreement is that its initiation came from the United States of America. It is clear that I am advocating international co-operation, and the reason why I am advocating it now and why it has to be considered during the war, is that there will be no other opportunity for bringing about world agreement with desirable aims such as will arise at the end of the war, when the United States, the British Empire and the Soviet Government of Russia will have been the main authors of the victory of which we are all so confident.

The United States of America is one of the countries where one would naturally expect the greatest difficulty in getting recognition of the principle of balancing exports and imports, because they have a large surplus of exports. But from all the public declarations that have been made by President Roosevelt and Mr. Cordell Hull, it seems to be quite clear that, as far as the official view of the United States Government is concerned, there is a substantial recognition of this basic principle, and at any rate a desire for a sympathetic approach towards it. That does not mean there will not be great difficulties in their getting the consent of the United States industrialists, but it is important that they have made a wheat agreement which recognises that the production of an article that enters into world commerce, and one of the greatest of them, namely, wheat, is internationally regulated. The production is regulated on the basis of the existing capacity of these countries. The proportion in which the production shall be allocated between the main wheat producing countries is arrived at, and then adequate machinery is set up for building up stocks and surplus stocks and for making these surplus stocks available to meet the needs of countries like China and India where the purchasing power is in a very low condition. If you have similar international product agreements with regard to the main products that enter into the foreign trade of the world, you will get a substantial basis of countries balancing their imports and their exports.

You will, of course, have a large quantity of specialised manufactured goods about which you will not need to have world product arrangements, but they will be subject to that one fundamental condition of all foreign trade—that countries must balance their imports and exports. In my view, these principles should be recognised and there should be international product committees for taking the potential consumption of the world of all those commodities which enter largely into foreign trade, not on the basis of any former pre-war agreements with regard to commodities, known as international cartels which were all on a restricted basis, but on the basis of full employment in the industries producing those articles that enter into commerce—an amicable arrangement with regard to the proportions in which the product will be produced between various countries and then an assured disposal of that production by the recognition of the fundamental principle that a country must buy as much as it is prepared to sell. Another fact which must be recognised is that when you have arrived at these international product committees, there must be a stabilised price for the commodity over a given period. I know that the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams), who is perhaps one of the most violent individualists in the House, hates everything I am saying, because he dislikes anything in the nature of an agreement or a regulation, but can anyone doubt that if you had stabilised prices for the main products which enter into the commerce of the world, it would be an inestimable benefit to the world as a whole?

Sir H. Williams

Would the price of potatoes be the same in a year when there was a glut as in a year when there was a shortage?

Sir C. Entwistle

No, the price would not be fixed in that way. It might only be fixed for one year, or for two years, or it might be fixed for six months. The factors will then have to be redetermined. But there will not be this glut if you have surpluses properly regulated, and channels available for their distribution. I was pointing out the advantage of having a stabilised reasonable price for the commodities which enter into world trade, instead of a scramble and cut-throat competition.

Sir Alfred Beit (St. Pancras, South East)

How can this international commission dispose of these export surpluses better than anyone else; and will not the fact that they have large stocks have an equally depressing effect on the market?

Sir C. Entwistle

No. This international commission would make a percentage levy on the export trade of every country. That is a common form provision in rationalisation agreements in industries in this country to-day. There is nothing unusual about it. A great many industries have recognised the tremendous advantages to be obtained from a fund which is able to purchase surpluses and dispose of them. Let us assume a stabilised price in a commodity which enters into international trade. Let us take cotton goods. Can anyone doubt that if the Lancashire cotton trade knew that it had an assured market for a given quantity of cotton goods at a price, even if that price were lower than the average price that had been obtained in the past, the very fact that they had an assured market with an economic price would enable them to plan for their own home production on lines which had never been possible before? It is only on such lines that there is any hope for the export trade of this country, the future prosperity of this country, and the prosperity of the world. One would think from the interruptions I have had that I was suggesting something very revolutionary, Utopian, or unpractical, but all I am pleading for at the moment is that we should adopt, this International Wheat Agreement which the Government have entered into with the United States and other wheat-producing countries as a model for other agreements with regard to other main products in international trade. The firs' article to the Wheat Agreement has these words: The Government agree that this requires the adoption and pursuit of national and international policies aimed at a fuller and more efficient use among nations of human and natural resources, and thereby a world expansion of purchasing power. Recognising, therefore, that much that is called for transcends the scope of the wheat agreement, and requires action on a broad international basis.… So there is a recognition by the United States, this country and other countries concerned that the Wheat Agreement is only a stepping-stone, and that similar international action is necessary for increasing the world purchasing power, to enable a vastly increased world production of goods to be absorbed by the world as a whole. I think the Wheat Agreement took a long time to negotiate. It was by no means easy to negotiate. But that does not mean that 20 or 30 or 50 more such agreements cannot all be done simultaneously. The representatives of the trades concerned could all meet at the same time. You would not want the same numbers on each of these committees. I appeal to the Government to see what can be done, by approaching the other Governments, with a view to entering into as many agreements on the lines of the International Wheat Agreement as they can at the earliest possible moment. Having done that I hope they will carefully examine the implications of that wide agreement and of the principle which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Paymaster-General himself enunciated, that if trade is to continue on orderly lines and if the world is to be prosperous, as it is capable of being, it can only be done on the mutual basis of give and take and that countries which want to sell are prepared to buy. They have to recognise that as an international obligation, and I am sure that with the influence of the two great nations—if we can get the United States of America to agree on the problem—the rest of the world will be prepared to follow. If that is recognised as a fundamental principle then there is something to be said for the possibilities of the future prosperity of the world, and the old cry of poverty among plenty will be rendered unnecessary in the future.

Mr. Graham White (Birkenhead, East)

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bolton (Sir C. Entwistle) will forgive me if I do not follow him on the special theme which he has made the subject of his remarks. In connection with all these international agreements which we may make, we must remember that the overriding document is the Atlantic Charter. I would remind hon. Members that there is a Tin Control Agreement, which should be looked at very carefully. It is already the basis of some suspicion and doubt in this connection.

The House has welcomed this Amendment as giving an overdue opportunity for discussing Britain's war aims and peace aims. Everyone who heard him will, I know, be grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Paymaster-General for his exhaustive survey of the whole situation, and with most of the statements he made and his forecast for the future, I think, very few people will quarrel. I am bound to say that it is a little disappointing at this time to find that in a survey of a field of that magnitude there are still only four decisions which have been taken, and two of these were negative. Now that this Debate has taken place it is not only important from the point of view of our people at home, but it is also of the utmost consequence in America, in Soviet Russia and in all the Allied countries that it should be clear beyond doubt that present unity in war aims is an essential condition of Allied unity at the end of the war. That is why I welcome the Debate to-day. Do not let it be said that Britain's war aim is Britain's best-kept war secret. We do hear that said, and it is important that that sort of sentiment should disappear.

My right hon. and learned Friend was by no means exaggerating the difficulties we should find before us from now onwards. It is quite true, as he said, that everything will depend upon co-operation but we do not need to be reminded that when the war comes to an end we shall be confronted with a situation the like of which man has never seen before. In the first place, we shall have a nation of 90,000,000 from whom truth and reality have been carefully concealed for 10 years. What will those people do when they are disillusioned? In addition, can anybody estimate what will be the effect upon the state of Europe when the mass martyrdom of mind and body which has been inflicted on the occupied countries ceases and the most elementary emotions of hatred are given free play? It must, indeed, create a grave and difficult situation. It will require not only leadership of high quality and tolerance to a remarkable degree but it will also require a very much wider understanding of the issues which are involved by the peoples at large, than has been shown up to the present time.

We have travelled a long distance since we were told that Britain's war aim was to beat Hitler and destroy all his works. I very much doubt whether the people of this country realise that in future all our affairs will be foreign affairs. I see that groups of industrialists and others have been considering problems of reconstruction after the war as though they will be free to work very much as we in the past. I entirely agree that the sole responsibility cannot lie on this House. If I were speaking in Hyde Park I would say to people, "Do not leave it to the 'know-alls.' They cannot do everything; you must take a hand yourselves in these transactions. It is not possible for the reconstruction and regeneration of this country to be carried through by those whose sole business it is "to know rather than to act." It is of the greatest importance that the people should realise that whereas at this moment, there is one supreme aim—to win the war—when the war is over there will be a magnitude and diversity of tasks of every variety for everyone of public spirit. I do not believe anybody will quarrel with the four principles which my right hon. and learned Friend laid before the House as the basis of reconstruction. First, he said, there must be complete victory. There is nobody who has any doubt about that.

The second conclusion was that we should not get very far unless we could really depend upon freedom from fear through some organisation which will place power and authority behind the hands of justice. Then my right hon. and learned Friend dealt with machinery and, lastly, said that no reliance should be placed upon slogans. I think one ought to place reliance on slogans a little higher in the list, because there is no more misleading thing than a slogan. It is seldom realised that the most effective slogan is one which makes the least contribution to the solution of the practical problems which are in hand. He is quite right in saying that in the problems we are attempting to deal with, and the manifold difficulties which will confront us after the war, we shall get no help from slogans.

We can get no help from wishful thinking, but only from hard work and clear thinking. Also, unless people are seized of the importance of their individual contribution, we shall not necessarily succeed by means of adroit measures in this House. It is only if we can succeed in securing, not only leadership, but a people anxious to be led, anxious to make their own individual contributions, that we shall come through the difficult times ahead of us. I am sorry that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has left the House. I was on the point of making a very helpful suggestion that he might take into consideration. At this time of the year the financial pundits are always busy looking for expedients to help to relieve the finances of the country. I was about to suggest, when the Financial Secretary precipitately left, that he might very well devise a scheme of graded taxes upon slogans of various degrees for the reduction of the national debt. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary of the Board of Education will be good enough to pass the suggestion along. I think there is a good deal in it.

On what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said regarding planning in relation to industry I think there will be different opinions, but at all events a considerable measure of agreement. I think I speak for a large majority of people in this House when I say that all our post-war planning must be planning for freedom, planning in fact for what our people in all the Services—

Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)

Is that a slogan or not?

Dr. Edith Summerskill (Fulham, West)

It is not dangerous, anyhow.

Mr. White

I was proceeding to say that my hon. Friend must plan for freedom, that is to say, that all our machinery, all our policies, must be continuously and consciously devoted to an extension of, freedom, what, in fact, our Forces are fighting for, and for what, with our Allies, they are making such immense sacrifices at the present time. If we do not follow that policy consciously and continuously we may very well, if we listen to this or that group, seeking to manage some section of our common life for us, approach the totalitarian State without in the least realising where we are going. We must work consciously and continuously for democracy, bearing in mind the terrible example of the totalitarian State.

One announcement made by my right hon. and learned Friend will, I think, give satisfaction so far as it goes; that is the statement that there is to be a central body for planning and a Minister of Town and Country Planning. That is a matter of the very greatest consequence, because from one end of the country to the other there are local authorities who are waiting for decisions on this point in order to get on with their work. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) in the course of his observations said he felt there were a great many people who thought that all planning and policy-making should be put off until the end of the war. I do not think there are very many people like that, but there is one policy which cannot be left until the end of the war, because if the matter is left until the war is over it will never be done at all.

That is a comprehensive scheme for dealing with unemployment. It is also the most important of all the plans psychologically. I am sorry the right hon. and learned Gentleman was not more forthcoming in what he said on that matter. There is nothing that would put greater heart into everyone concerned than a plain statement from the Government that they believe that a policy of full employment is possible and are determined to work to that end. Experience in the last few years ought to teach us that it is possible. There is nothing more ridiculous than to say that if we are spending £12,000,000 a day for war and destruction, at least we can spend £6,000,000 for the glorious purposes of peace. Nothing could be more futile than observations of that kind. But if we are to look at the problem in its proper dimensions, we can see great possibilities in the light of the experience of the last two or three years. In 1938 the total expenditure from private and public savings on capital goods was £900,000,000. It was a year of rather indifferent employment. In the light of recent experience it would appear that, had the national income at that time been raised by 10 or 15 per cent., that is to say, if the expenditure had been increased to £1,250,000,000, we should have had a state of employment very much greater and bordering upon full employment. There is nothing impossible in it if we are prepared to pay the price. We have to pay the financial price and the price of much greater mobility of labour, and to get rid of many of the restrictions which have hampered our national life and development in one way or another in the past.

I should like to refer to what I, and I think my Friends, think should be the policy of full employment after the war. I think not only that democracy requires a long-term policy, but they ought to see very clearly before them the ideals of the immediate future. If I had the responsibility for directing post-war policy, I should wish to see that the rebuilding of Britain in all the aspects of rebuilding which the right hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned—housing, rehousing, public building for every form of human requirement—should be set on foot. Let us keep that vision before us, and let the people see it clearly. If we set that process on foot, there is no reason why in three or four years we should not employ for 20 or 25 years twice as many people as we employed in the building trade in 1938. Think of the immense ancillary employment in a multitude of other directions that it would create. I wish that we could have had from my right hon. and learned Friend a more positive statement of intentions with regard to employment. It would have done much to remove the anxiety, doubt and cynicism which are in the minds of very large numbers of people. I saw a document the other day which had written across it, "What is to happen to me after the war?" It was an alleged complaint from a serving soldier. That is not the way to serve the serving soldier. We in this House can do something to clear the way. I do not think that questions of that kind are in the minds of serving soldiers. It is rather what they are going to do after the war, and we should do what can can to set them on their feet in times to come and to help them to create a Europe and a world fit for human habitation. On all these grounds there is room for optimism.

My right hon. and learned Friend reminded us that there would be a great demand for capital for purposes of industry and development. This is a matter which interests not only industry but the consumer. I would quarrel with him a little on this question, because he seemed all through his speech as though he were talking of industry from the producer's point of view. We need a policy of expansion, turning our backs on the policy of restriction which obtained for 15 years before the war, a policy which was not, as is so often said and, I think, wrongly said, due solely to a desire to make great profits. It was more often a device for the purpose of avoiding what appeared to be inevitable and substantial losses. We must get away from that policy of restriction in both our domestic and international trade. We must have a policy of expansion in the interests of consumers.

I would ask my right hon. and learned Friend whether he would, as an immediate practical step towards post-war policy, set on foot a continuing inquiry into the effects of the present heavy rates of taxation and Excess Profits Tax upon the future position of industry. I am not making any plea for reducing the Excess Profits Tax, but, as far as I can make out, the Treasury are woefully neglectful of the effect on the capital market after the war of the constant draining away from industry in the form of taxation of the money which would normally be put on one side for the renewal of plant and machinery. That is a matter of great importance which is not generally recognised. I know one plant which will require millions of money to be spent on it when the war is over. Let me tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Paymaster-General that it will be quite impossible under present conditions for industry to find those sums of money unless some such expedient as a development of the Trade Facilities Act is adopted. I am not mentioning that in the interests of any industry but simply stating it as a fact which I believe, and I invite the Treasury to set up an inquiry into that aspect of the matter.

Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)

The hon. Gentleman will not forget that industry does expect to receive back and will receive a substantial part of the payments under Excess Profits Tax.

Mr. White

I am obliged to my hon. Friend. He refers, I take it, to the "cushion." If he is referring to the 20 per cent., I would remind him that that is less 10s. tax, and that the capital requirements of industry as a whole will be out of all proportion to the 10 per cent. left. That 10 per cent. will be quite insignificant. It will not be a difficulty which will confront industry alone but the nation as a whole, and it is a difficulty which must be faced.

Another aspect of the matter which I would mention is that in any future development of industry from overseas the headquarters and sales departments of businesses will not be centred in London or in this country if taxation is at a level which is very much higher than it is in other countries. That is another matter which I should like remitted to the inquiry, because it is one of immediate urgency. What would happen to the engineering industry and the engineering profession in this country if mining businesses which now have their headquarters in London were driven away because taxation was so much higher here than in other countries? This is another matter for international co-operation, and I ask the Government to take action with regard to it. I leave it there now, because I have already spoken much longer than I had intended.

When the wave of violence which has advanced over Europe and submerged the possibility of decent life passes away, we shall have to reshape our courses, and there will be an opportunity, the second opportunity in a lifetime, of trying to make a better world. We failed after the last war. There was an uncontrolled movement, a clever combination of cash and crooks which killed the idealism with which people were imbued at the end of the last war. In the present state of Europe and after what it has been going through, we can only pray, after the efforts which have been made by ourselves and our Allies, that, on this second opportunity, we may not fail as we did before.

Mr. Craven-Ellis (Southampton)

Before the hon. Gentleman sits down, may I correct him—

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Bowles.

Mr. Bowles (Nuneaton)

I do not often have the privilege of addressing this House, but I am grateful for the opportunity of doing so now. I listened with very great interest to the rather long speech of the Paymaster-General, and I came to the conclusion, in which I agree with the hon. Member who has just spoken, that it was difficult to find any positive evidence as to any decisions yet come to by the Government. We have had several Ministers of Reconstruction, commencing with my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood). For the last two and a half years we have had a Minister of Reconstruction inquiring and inquiring. Apparently, committees are still being set up to go on making further inquiries. It seems to me, the war news being as good as it is, that the war might come to an end much earlier than the Paymaster-General would like and that he will not have his plans ready if the war comes to an end in the next 12 months.

Was there anything in his speech that would give comfort to the soldiers or to the great mass of the people in the working classes, who remember, or who have been told, of the great mass of unemployment which existed in this country two years after the last war? Towards the end of Coalition Government days, the number of registered unemployed in this country was not less than 3,000,000. Those facts are not forgotten by the great mass of the people. They do not forget what they came back to, when the industries were very largely being glutted by reparations imports or imports of shipping from Germany, and that for many years the mass of unemployment that existed undermined the morale of large numbers of people. Had I spoken before the Paymaster-General made his speech, I would have said that about half our industrial population was cynical and half hopeful about after-war prospects. When they read his speech to-morrow they will no doubt look at it carefully, and they will be disappointed. I imagine the proportion of cynics will go up from 50 per cent. to 75 per cent.

From speaking to people in my constituency and from what I learn at meetings I address, I know that nothing is likely to raise larger cheers than to promise that you will do everything you can to see that the world is not the same as it was after the last war. Cheers are an indication of some kind of feeling. On Friday last I heard on the wireless, after the Secretary of State had addressed the Foreign Press Association, the B.B.C. go out of its way to report that his reference to General de Gaulle was received with very great cheers. The Government are prepared to use cheers as an indication of the popular view. There is nothing that will enthuse people more than a promise that you will see to it, if possible, that the old world will not be repeated. Of the 25 per cent. or 50 per cent. who, I think, are hopeful and without the cynicisms of the older generation, it would be disastrous if they were let down in any way. It is the duty of this House, which is made up of elected representatives of the people, to see to it that this war is not fought in vain as the last war very largely was.

People are fighting Fascism and to get rid of the bad conditions under the old system. They are concerned about having a decent world after the war. I find a great deal of cynicism about what is to happen after the war. Many have a fear that they will lose the good wages which they are now getting. They have a great dread of mass unemployment. It is a most awful thought that peace has more horrors than war for most people. On Saturday I came across one of the most terrible cases I have ever heard of. I have here the local Press report of a coroner's inquest. A miner pinched his finger in the pit, on 7th December, 1938. The accident caused a large black blister. He worked for three days and, owing to pain, had to stop work. On 20th December, the finger was lanced and the nail was removed. A week later part of the finger was amputated, and in the last week of 1939 he had the whole finger amputated. He started at the colliery as a night watchman, but, owing to his feet being discoloured and paining him, he was sent to a certain infirmary where they could do nothing for him.

In September, 1940, the deceased went to Nuneaton general hospital and had his right leg amputated just above the knee. He came home in December, 1940, and after being in bed for some months, was able to get about on crutches. In February of this year, one of his thumbs had to be lanced and half the nail taken away. There were then symptoms in the little finger of his right hand, and one Monday in August last he had, his little finger amputated. On the Tuesday he went to bed, and he died the next morning. The widow of this man gets no workman's compensation. So far the case has been turned down, but I intend to go into the case myself. It seems incredible that a person should have to go through the most tremendous legal expenses to fight for these things. In my own office, as a solicitor, I have a row of books on workmen's compensation cases as broad as two arms. It is fantastic that a widow in conditions of this sort should not be looked after by the community, as I hope will be recommended in the Beveridge Report, within a system of social security such as we are fighting for.

As I have said, great hopes still persist in the minds of many people in regard to post-war reconstruction, and nothing could be worse than that those hopes should be frustrated. The House has the bounden duty not only to consider what it might do or what ought to be done, but to make certain that something is done. It seems to me that the outlook is hardly reassuring. It will be remembered that my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) was dismissed from his position in February of this year, at a time when the military situation was not very satisfactory, and yet he was a person who had little, if anything, to do with the central direction of the war. In his place, although not in the same position, the Government brought in the right hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps)—and it was right that they should do so—because of a great popular belief that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would represent something which the country wanted to see done, and that thing was in reference to the post-war world. About a week ago, at a time when our military situation is on the face of it better, the right hon. and learned Gentleman was demoted to the position of Minister of Aircraft Production. Then we find that the Prime Minister has made two speeches recently, one at the Guildhall and one over the wireless last Sunday night, and those speeches make one wonder whether the Government are really in earnest about post-war reconstruction. May I quote one sentence from the Prime Minister's speech last Sunday? He said: The most painful experience would lie before us if we allowed ourselves to relax our exertions, to weaken the disciplined unity and the order of our array, if we fell to quarrelling about what we should do with our victory before that victory had been won. Does that speech, and the speech at the Guildhall, square even with the no doubt perfectly sincere and earnest desire of many Members of the Government and many hon. Members on both sides who support the Government that reconstruction should take place? It was noticeable to some extent that Members of the Conservative party were not very anxious during any moment of the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Paymaster-General. I saw no attempt on their part to rise on their toes or to ask a question, except for the hon. Member for Elland (Mr. Levy), who asked a question about water, on which he is an expert, on the whole, I rather feel that the Conservative party are not anything like so interested in the question of reconstruction as we are on these Benches. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] We shall just see how each party behaves when the real light starts in February. Whether it is worth having any Debate on this matter in February, I do not know. The Government are still in the stage of inquiry, and have not come to any decision, except on two points which are negative, which were referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. Graham White).

Mr. Boothby

The hon. Member has plenty of representatives of his own party in the Government. Why does he not approach them, as they are just as much responsible as, and even more responsible than, our representatives?

Mr. Bowles

I have discussed it with them; but the main body of the Government consists of Members of the party opposite.

It being the hour appointed for the interruption of Business, the Debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed upon the next Sitting Day.