HC Deb 02 December 1946 vol 431 cc41-171

Order for Second Reading read.

3.33 p.m.

The Secretary for Overseas Trade (Mr. Marquand)

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

The House will remember that, in 1941, the Coalition Government found it necessary, in the circumstances of that time, to close the Liverpool Cotton Market. Since then, a system of centralised purchase by the Cotton Control on Government account was gradually built up. Arrangements were made, however, whereby some of the merchants and traders who had operated in the market were able to preserve the identity of their businesses on a sort of care and maintenance basis. Very soon after the present Government came into office, we were approached by representatives of these interests and representatives of the cotton spinning industry and asked whether we intended, at some time in the future, to permit the reopening of the Market. We had discussions with those representatives, and we very carefully considered long and detailed memoranda which they submitted. In March of this year my right hon. and learned Frieand announced that the Government had decided to continue a system of centralised buying, and that in due course proposals for the establishment of a cotton buying commission would be brought before Parliament. On 28th March this House debated the subject and rejected, by 337 votes to 186, a Motion by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) regretting the decision.

Since then the Cotton Control has continued to buy raw cotton on Government account. During the last three or four months the Controller has had the assistance of an Advisory Committee, which includes spinners, merchants and members of Trade Unions, and Associations concerned with the trade and industry. The Bill which I have the honour to introduce today seeks to fulfil an undertaking already given to, and approved by, this House. My right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council, speaking in the Debate to which I have just referred, said that we intended to establish a commission to take over the cotton buying functions now exercised by the Cotton Controller, who, of course, is an official of the Board of Trade. He said: It will not be a London organisation. This will be a Lancashire organisation. It will operate in Lancashire. It will live to serve Lancashire and the great textile industry of Lancashire."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th March. 1946; Vol. 421, c. 614.] I want to emphasise that that is our purpose in this Bill. The cotton textile industry, most of which is centred in Lancashire, is one of the most important in this country. In 1935, the value of the output of all its various sections was 4.5 per cent. of the total output of British industry; and the value of its exports was 14 per cent. of the total value of our exports. Today, as the result of the events of the war, its relative importance is not quite so great, but its exports are still 7½ per cent. of our total exports, and in its spinning section alone it employs some 95,000 operatives. In all sections it still has a total of more than 200,000 insured workers.

As the House well knows, the situation of the industry is critical. At home and abroad consumers are clamouring for its products, and it has not enough labour to satisfy the demand. In the future it may, however, face active competition elsewhere. It needs, therefore, to lower its cost of production; it needs to make use of every modern method which is appropriate to that end; it needs re-equipment with up-to-date machinery. My right hon. and learned Friend will be able to announce soon his proposals in that respect. Today we are proposing to make permanently available to the industry the modern method of centralised and large-scale buying. It is this technique which lies at the root of the success and growth of the multiple stores, the multiple tailors and the great Cooperative movement. It is this modern twentieth century instrument which we wish to place at the service of the cotton industry. We are proposing no doctrinaire experiment. We said during the General Election that, where it was appropriate, we would apply successful wartime techniques for peacetime purposes. We have had a long experience of centralised buying. In determining our future policy we look at the conditions of supply and demand for each commodity in turn, and at the type of bulk buying instrument which is available, and we use strictly commercial considerations in making our decisions. Nothing would please me more than to explain why, in the case of wool, we adopted a joint organisation with certain dominion countries; or why, in the case of rubber, we decided upon a return to private trade—under safeguards. This is not the time to do that, but the issue was decided every time on the merits of the particular case.

The free Liverpool Cotton Market may have been a good enough instrument in the nineteenth century, when the products of many thousands of farmers, subject to innumerable hazards, had to be brought somehow to thousands of freely competing small scale spinning units. But conditions were changing even in the 1930's. By that time some of the larger textile organisations were buying their requirements direct without the intermediation of the Market. Today those conditions are very different indeed. Science has come to the aid of the producer. Cotton is graded, selected and packed as never before, so that many spinners are content to buy on description. Opinions differ from country to country, but in some areas bulk purchase on long term contracts at a fair price is greatly welcomed by the producer, who welcomes stability of price, as all farmers do. Moreover, the interests of producers in major supplying countries are likely to be safeguarded in the future in a variety of ways.

I turn now to the side of demand. The new buying Commission will have to sell to one industry only, and the working party for that industry, a working party fully representative of the industry, has recommended a system of grouping, whereby the 400 uncoordinated, and mostly small mills that now comprise the spinning section of the industry, will be replaced by a smaller number of units, of a size and a structure better adapted to efficient and economical production. To an industry adapted to that sort of pattern, a multiplicity of merchants with limited stocks and sources of supply seems to us to afford a service far inferior to that of a single, centralised buyer whose stocks will enable him to supply cotton of every variety and type drawn from all over the world. During the process of reorganisation and reequipment of the cotton industry, we must be very sure that its raw material requirements are being provided as part of a considered plan, and insulated, as may be necessary, from the random fluctuations of the market.

Finally, we believe we have already built up an efficient, experienced and remarkably inexpensive centralised buying machine for raw cotton. There have been complaints from time to time, but they were complaints against circumstances arising from the war, or from our present economic difficulty—shortage of shipping, destruction of warehouse space, the need to reduce dollar expenditure—that have all been responsible for past inability to satisfy spinners' requirements in complete detail; but I know of no complaints of administrative inefficiency. The Federation of Master Cotton Spinners have told us what service they wish us to provide. They said—and I will read from a memorandum which they submitted to my right hon. and learned Friend: In connection with the purchase of cotton, looking at the matter from the point of view of the spinner, there are three vital considerations which must be taken into account. In the first place, he must be able to obtain the exact growth, grade and staple he requires, whenever he deems it expedient to buy; in the second, he must be able to cover his requirements for many months ahead in the qualities which suit his machinery; and in the third, he must have facility to fix the price of that cotton whenever he makes a sale. Let us take those in order. First, the spinner's requirement that he should have the exact type of cotton that he requires. During the war, it was inevitable that spinners should have to accept the cotton delivered to them, though we did our best throughout to ensure that all their reasonable needs were satisfied. But it is our intention that the spinner should have the same facilities for sampling, inspecting, and arbitration as he had before the war, and that he should be able to use those facilities to better advantage than in prewar days, because the Commission will provide a larger and more varied selection of cotton. I have more than once assured the House that we should provide sampling facilities as rapidly as we could secure the necessary warehouse space. Let me read an announcement made in the Press on Thursday last: The Raw Cotton Advisory Committee met in Manchester yesterday afternoon. The latest developments in arbitration arrangements and the provision of sampling facilities were discussed. The decision was reached to make an immediate start with the introduction of sampling facilities, under provisional arrangements, pending the establishment of revised arbitration and appeal services. Egyptian cotton will be offered first, and other growths will follow as soon as arrangements can be completed. Spinners are being informed of the details. That is the quotation from the Press. I will not attempt to read out all the details sent to the spinners. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am, I agree, sticking very closely to notes, which have been very carefully prepared, because this is a highly technical subject. Suffice it to say —without attempting to read the details given to the spinners—that the spinners will, in future, be able to obtain Egyptian cotton on description, at a small discount off the standard price; that they will be able to receive cotton after a 10 per cent. sample at Manchester or Liverpool at the standard price; that if they want a 100 per cent. sample, then they can go to the warehouse and take a 100 per cent. sample and receive that at a premium— perhaps, here the hon. Members will allow me to refer to my notes—at a premium of one tenth of one penny per pound on the standard price.

It is frequently said that the mills used to hold a stock of 1,000,000 bales, and this is advanced as an argument in favour of some return to the prewar system. It may be less well known that the stock now held by the Cotton Control in this country amounts to 1,500,000 bales, and it is, probably, more varied than it was in prewar days. The experience of the war has shown how great an advantage it is to be able to adjust the forward buying programme, with knowledge of the requirements of the whole industry. That knowledge will be available, and can be available to a centralised organisation only. It will be available to the Commission, as it has been available to the Control and no single merchant operating in the market could ever have been in possession of that full information of the forward requirements of a whole industry. For currency or other reasons we may have to limit imports of certain growths, and thus restrict the spinner's freedom to get, in every respect, the cotton he wants. I should be very interested to hear that any hon. Member would suggest any departure at the present time, in view of our dollar resources, from that position. We cannot give, for those currency reasons, the whole of the cotton which the spinner might desire, but that restriction would operate, anyway, whether buying at the moment were centralised or left to free competition. Indeed, where quantitative restrictions are necessary, centralised buying is a more efficient instrument than free buying by a large number of merchants who, in present conditions, would have to be given quotas, or something of that kind, for particular grades and kinds of cotton, if we resorted to that system of buying.

The next requirement of the spinner is that he should be able to cover his requirements ahead. The advantages of forward buying for spinners, the saving in capital charges that that means, are evident; but from the seller's point of view, it means that he must either keep the cotton, which the spinner has let him know he will require, earmarked in a warehouse, or be sure that he can ship it over, when he wants it. In war conditions, neither of these courses was possible. Warehouse space was short, and shipping uncertain. We are, indeed, getting over the second of these difficulties, but the lack of warehouse space still hampers us. No less than 73 per cent. of our cotton stocks in this country are stored on open air sites, in conditions which preclude earmarking, because of the way bales of cotton have been stored in the past. I hope, however, that, by the time the Commission comes into being, we shall be well on the way to overcoming that difficulty and to providing reasonable facilities for forward buying.

Lastly, there is the need of the spinner to fix his prices. The Cotton Control has been operating a cover scheme which, early this year, they elaborated so as to afford the spinner a very high degree of protection against price changes. When the spinner makes his yarn contract he wants to be certain that the raw cotton costs on which he bases his yarn quotation will remain unchanged, even though he does not buy his cotton immediately. The cover scheme which now operates assures him of this, and it is a benefit which was not afforded to him before the war. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It was not afforded to him before the war, when the only cottons which could be hedged without considerable risk of loss were American and Egyptian cottons. I should be very interested to hear right hon. or hon. Gentlemen opposite explain how it was possible to hedge any cotton other than American or Egyptian without risk of loss, because the hedges in American and Egyptian, against purchases and sales of other types of cotton, offered considerable risk of loss if the prices of the two different growths diverged.

Let me explain the present cover scheme a little more fully, because I have the impression that it may not be fully understood. The Cotton Control has a written agreement with each spinner who wishes to participate in the cover scheme. At the beginning, each spinner made a return to the Control, showing on the one hand all purchases and stocks of cotton and, on the other, alt yarn sales. Thereafter, he makes a return each Saturday of the cotton purchases and yarn sales he has made during the week, and he shows at the end his net cover position, as they call it, to the nearest thousand pounds. As these phrases go, his situation is described as "long" if his stocks and purchases of cotton exceed his yarn sales, and "short" if his yarn sales exceed his cotton stocks and purchases. Whichever way the balance is, long or short, the spinner then shows how it is made up, in different growths of cotton. Whenever the price of cotton is changed, differences are paid by or to the Control. For example, if the price is raised, the spinner will pay differences to the Control in respect of the cotton in which he is long, because he has cotton in hand and the price has risen, and he is therefore in a more favourable position. He will receive payment of differences from the Control in respect of cotton in which he is short.

The reverse would happen if the price were reduced. The spinner would then receive payment where he was long and would pay where he was short. The effect of that is that in the event of a change in cotton prices the spinner is put in the same position as he would be in if he had exactly enough cotton to meet his commitments and no more. He is insulated from risk whether he is short or long, and the fact that he is covered in this way enables the spinner to sell yarn for forward delivery, knowing that he will be able to execute the contract without loss even though raw cotton prices may change before the contract is completed, or even before he has bought the necessary cotton.

Because the spinner can sell forward in this way, weavers and other users of yarn can buy for forward delivery to cover their own sales of cloth or cordage, or whatever it may be, so that they too are covered. This system of cover now applies to every growth of cotton which we are importing into this country, and not to the two main growths only. As hon. Members will see, it gives complete protection to the spinner against price fluctuations. Before the war he could obtain protection by means of hedging only in respect of American and Egyptian cotton. The necessity of hedging, and its restricted extent, left many spinners in a position in which they were obliged to devote the bulk of their time to watching the markets and too little of their time to watching the quality of their production of cotton yarn. Now they have complete protection; the Control has taken the risk from the spinner as the market never did. The Commission will continue that system; if opportunity arises it will even extend it. If hon. Members ask me what becomes of the risk when the Commission takes it over, I answer that the Bill provides for the Commission to equalise its income and outgoings over the average of good and bad years. Under such assistance, Lancashire spinners will be assured of a long-term stability in the price of their materials unequalled in any other country where their competitors are established.

Mr. Enroll (Altrincham and Sale)

Could the hon. Gentleman explain, then, why 98 per cent. of the spinners prefer the old system, and have said so?

Mr. Marquand

I suspect that the reason why the spinners, through their company organisations, have given that opinion is that large numbers of former merchants in the market were in control of spinning companies. I would like the hon. Member, whose genuine interest in this subject I recognise, to try privately to take a little census of the actual opinions of mill managers rather than directors.

I now turn to the constitution and functions of the Commission. We wish it to be a business organisation in which the supreme and continuous direction rests with men who have had considerable business experience. At the same time, we wish its directorate to be continually in intimate contact with the industry which it is established to serve. So we propose the division of the Commission into two categories, not more than three independent members and not more than 10 part-time members. The independent members will devote practically the whole of their time to this work. It may well be that every one of them will devote the whole of his time to the work, but we have not insisted upon whole-time service because we wish to secure for this work the men best qualified to do it, and we do not wish to miss men who might be best qualified merely because they may happen to have some outside directorship, or some other paid office, which occupies only a small proportion of their time. These independent members will of course have to relinquish, on taking office in the Commission, any interest in the cotton industry which is likely to affect their independence. To the independent members will be reserved certain functions, and the receipt of certain information which affects the interests of individual firms in the industry.

Then we propose to have not more than 10 part-time members of the Commission in order to ensure that persons actually working in the cotton trade and industry shall have a predominant voice in the general direction of the Commission's policy and in the oversight of its operations. Among them will be spinners, merchants and representatives of the operatives, though we do not exclude the possibility of having, even within this category, one or two persons of more general business and trade experience. Inevitably certain information will come to the Commission about the position of individual spinners. It is indeed obvious that it is impossible to operate the kind of cover scheme I have described unless spinners return to the Commission detailed information week by week of their actual incomings and outgoings of cotton.

Certain steps affecting spinners will have to be taken by the Commission. The decision whether or not to change the selling price of cotton is the most obvious of these steps. It would be an embarrassment to people in the industry, and might even lead to complaint, if they were associated with or knew in advance about changes of that kind, or had excessive information of that confidential type which I have described. For these reasons, the part-time members will be excluded from such information, but will nevertheless be an integral and essential part of the Commis- sion, giving it the benefit of their day-today contact with the industry. The Commission will be the buyers, importers and distributors of the cotton that Lancashire spinners require. The Cotton Control buys cotton in several ways. In some cases it has agreements made direct with the governments of the territories where cotton is produced; in other cases it buys from Liverpool and Manchester merchants, who act as agents for the ship-owners in the producing countries. In other cases again, it has established local representatives in markets abroad, or uses single firms as buying agents. It will be open to the Commission to adopt any or all of these methods, as it thinks most appropriate for getting the cotton it requires from the various territories as well and as cheaply as possible.

The sole channel for providing spinners with the cotton they need is to be the Commission. It is, in fact, in the Bill that the primary duty of the Commission is that of providing cotton of the quantity, growth, type and quality to meet the requirements of spinners. Establishment of the Commission is not intended to discourage the re-export trade in raw cotton. Merchants will be as free as they are at present, subject to currency regulations, to act as intermediaries in effecting trade between other countries, whether that cotton is or is not transhipped or brought into this country in the course of the transactions. As far as possible, consistent with meeting the overriding needs of the spinners, the Commission will also sell from its holdings of cotton for re-export.

I do not propose to enter into a detailed explanation of the financial structure of the Commission. Suffice it to say that it will have in aggregate resources which may amount to £210 million, of which £10 million are available only for capital expenditure We do not anticipate that the Commission will often, if ever, need to mobilise these resources to the full extent. It is estimated that the Cotton Control's stocks at the end of March will amount to about 450,000 tons, which, on the basis of present replacement cost, would be worth about £90 million. It is unlikely that the stocks of the Commission would ever be double that value, but we must be prepared. There have been one or two very short crops in the United States, but their impact on the world has been cushioned by the large carry-over of American cotton. The carry-over is now very considerably diminished, and if there were to be another short crop, the consequence might be a further steep rise in world prices. It is to meet a contingency of that kind that provision must be made.

Cotton prices at present are high. They are almost three times what they were before the war. They were even higher in October. On balance, therefore, the long-term probability seems to be—perhaps it is necessary to be very clear in what I say on this—that we may expect a fall rather than a rise. If that is so, early in its career the Commission may run into a period of falling prices, when it will have to sell its cotton below cost. We reckon that the Cotton Control may make a trading profit in the current financial year of from £10 to £12 million, partly as a result of rising prices, and partly because of wise, or shall I say, fortunate buying. We reckon also that the stocks at the end of March next will have cost, including all holding charges, about £76 million. The replacement costs may then be £90 million. These estimtes may be wide of the mark. The Cotton Control will be buying cotton in the next four months, and we cannot tell just how much it will cost. Assuming that our estimate is justified by events, there will be an aggregate profit—including the increase of the value of the stocks from £76,000,000, to £90,000,000—of about £25,000,000. We think it right that that profit should be handed over to the Commission, as a kind of nest egg, to enable it to face the writing down of stocks, which may become necessary if prices fall. If prices fall before the Commission take over they will not need these reserves, and consequently they will not get it, because the valuation of the stocks will be lower.

I ask the House to judge these proposals by one criterion only: Are they well calculated to serve the interests of the cotton industry? Let us try to rid our minds of prejudice one way or the other. I have not appealed to my hon. Friends on this side of the House with slogans, and I hope that hon. Members on the other side of the House, will remember, what many of them have so often said, that public enterprise may, in some circumstances, be more efficient than private enterprise. In this instance, it took before the war some 350 principals and 3,000 employees in Liverpool and Manchester firms to provide the raw cotton requirements of the country. I am not referring here to warehousing and handling labour which would be additional. I am referring to commercial and clerical occupations and persons. I believe that the Liverpool and Manchester Cotton Associations claim that these firms and individuals received between them about £2 million a year. Someone had to bear that cost, and the foreigner bore only a very small part, the rest being borne either by the cotton industry, or by the casual speculator, whose losses were the profits of the market. We believe that the legitimate business of providing the cotton industry with its raw materials can be carried out by less than one-tenth of the number of people in the clerical and commercial grades who were engaged in these activities before the war.

Let me reassure hon. Members who are especially interested in this question, that I do not see in any way that these changes can affect the employment of porters, warehouse workers, dockers and people of that kind, who are engaged in the handling of cotton. The amount of labour will depend entirely on the volume and size of the industry, and the cotton required. I believe that it is possible to economise in the number of persons engaged on commercial and clerical types of occupations.

There will, in future, be no opportunity for outsiders to dabble in the fortunes of this great industry. There will be no necessity for the manufacturer to become a market operator. The sole determinant of what cotton is bought for the industry will be the needs of the spinner explained by spinners. The bargaining power of the industry in the markets of the world will be strengthened; it will carry no unnecessary passengers on its back. It will receive service at cost, and thus be equipped to render, in return, a full and efficient service to customers at home and abroad.

4.11 p.m.

Mr. Oliver Lyttelton (Aldershot)

I beg to move, to leave out "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add, "upon this day six months."

The case for this Bill is so bad that I rather expected that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, who has earned such a justified reputation for handling bad cases at the Bar, would have opened the Debate. Instead, he has chosen to put up his lieutenant, who has done the best perhaps that could be done with this very flimsy affair. The reasons which the Secretary for Overseas Trade has advanced are mostly very poor, and I must now devote myself to trying to demolish them. However, one of the things he said with which I am in hearty agreement was that any proposals in regard to raw cotton must be judged by their effect upon the industry. That is one thing on which once again we find ourselves in agreement.

Among the welter of Bills with which we are faced, if any politician had time to indulge in a little sardonic humour I am certain that he would have plenty of play for it today. We are paying the Germans £80 million per annum in an odd sort of reversed Lend-Lease: we see a Socialist Chancellor organising a Stock Exchange boom with a song in his heart, but perhaps one of the greatest ironies of the day is that which we have before us this afternoon. The Foreign Secretary labours unceasingly in Paris and New York, and even occasionally in London, to try to get together some sort of international organisation, whereas his volatile colleague, the President of the Board of Trade, with truly Russian bravura, proceeds to pull down one of the few international pieces of machinery, one of the few international organisations, which has stood the test of 100 years and which has reduced the risk to, and earned the gratitude of, all those all over the world engaged in the growing, shipping, spinning, processing, or financing of cotton. But that is not the end of the ironical situation. The President of the Board of Trade—and, I think, of "Foreign Plantations," to give him his full title—has been entrusted with the task of preserving our trade. Now we see him executing the victim of which he became the guardian when he assumed his present office.

This Bill has a number of peculiar vices. First, it seeks to set up a State trading monopoly to deal with a raw material, not one ounce of which is grown in the monopoly country. Why is this a vice? It is because we have no production of our own to throw into the scale, no means of waiting with our own growth if we are short of cotton. We are at the mercy of overseas supplies, and must follow all the vagaries of the prices fixed by foreigners abroad. Secondly, this Bill is peculiar—as I shall show later —because it is introduced for purposes quite other than those which appear on its face. Thirdly, it deals with the life blood of a great industry—which the Government avow they seek to help—with insufficient, if any, consultation with that industry.

The spinning and manufacturing industry has expressed clearly, by vote, the opposite view to that of the Government, and the piece of dialectic which the Secretary for Overseas Trade sought to introduce, when he said that the great manufacturing companies were controlled by those who are interested in the marketing of cotton, or by merchants, was quite unworthy of a Measure of such importance as this I want to tell the House that 79½ per cent. of the industry voted for the continuation of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange and that 0.8 of 1 per cent. voted against its continuing. There were 19½ per cent. who did not answer the question, and if Members opposite are interested in that, they should know that a large part of that percentage was accounted for by the abstention of a corporation which did not want publicly to disavow the personal opinions of one of their officers. Of course, Members opposite may think little of the users and manufacturers of cotton—

Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)

When the right hon. Gentleman refers to the industry, is he including representatives of the organised workers?

Mr. Lyttelton

I meant the industry as a whole, whether employers or workers. The figures are for employers I do not wish to give any wrong impression. As I was saying, Members opposite may think little of the opinions of the employers, because they might be capitalists or even Conservatives. But, unfortunately for that line of argument, the employers' opinion is endorsed in clear terms by the independent Working Party which was set up by the Government. That Working Party produced a most painstaking and laborious, if somewhat familiar, report about somewhat familiar facts. Paragraph 27 of that report states: We have not been asked to make recommendations on the controversial question of what are to be future arrangements "— That is, in connection with raw cotton— We confine ourselves, therefore, to making the broad observation that the Lancashire industry will not have a fair chance to recover prosperity unless it is able to buy suitable cotton in the cheapest available market, and avoid being placed at a disadvantage vis-a-vis other countries so far as cotton prices are concerned. I will develop this a little later. There are other quotations, with which I will not bore the House.

The Working Party say, "We have not been asked to express an opinion on this matter." Why not? Is not the supply of raw cotton a subject germane to the study of the cotton industry? Fortunately, we have the excuse of the President of the Board of Trade himself, his own apologia, that it would not have been fair to the Working Party, because there is a political content in this problem. Did any Minister ever let the cat out of the bag with quite so much ingenuousness as the right hon. and learned Gentleman did on that occasion? What conceivable political content is raised by this practical question in relation to a normal, humdrum piece of trading machinery? Yet the right hon. and learned Gentleman's flimsy excuse is given as the reason for not consulting the Government's own Working Party on cotton about cotton. I guess that the reason why the Working Party have not been consulted, is because the Government expected that they would get an answer they did not want.

I say that it is quite clear that the Government have no policy or, at least, no consistent policy for commodity markets. The Secretary for Overseas Trade has played round with a few phrases to suggest that there was a policy. The other day, the Government announced the resumption of a free market in rubber, with permitted speculation, subject to more stringent rules. I thought, then, that I had begun to discern a glimmer of the Government's policy. The President of the Board of Trade made a statement which seemed to show that a free market would be reestablished where the raw material was plentiful; but that cannot be the policy, because, if it were, then the Cotton Exchange would be reopened, or, at least, not closed for ever. Cotton is certainly in ample supply, and the falling prices, which have so much surprised the Government, are evidence of this. I did not think that the President of the Board of Trade would be overborne by prejudice or by his previous pronouncements on this subject. I did not think he would seriously advance the claim that cotton would be better, that is more cheaply bought and distributed by a Central Commission than by a free market. That is one of the points to which we must address ourselves. I will show not only that this is not likely to happen, but why it cannot happen. Before I do so, let me remind the House that, as we sit here this afternoon, the spinners of this country are paying 1½d. or 2d. per lb. more for their cotton, than the spinners in any other part of the world who have access to a free market.

Mr. Rhodes (Ashton-under-Lyne)

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that the difference in price between the American price and ours is entirely due to discount?

Mr. Lyttelton

I cannot be diverted into technicalities. I am only saying—and it is open to the Government to deny this statement, which I make categorically— that the spinners in this country are paying 1½d. or 2d. per lb. more for cotton than those who have access to a free market. This is an industry which everybody, on all sides of the House, wishes to foster and expand. The spinners are now placed under this great handicap, which is a poor testimony to the vaunted advantage of central purchase, the argument which the Secretary for Overseas Trade has indulged in this afternoon.

Mr. Marquand

Will the right hon. Gentleman also say how long the spinners of this country have been enabled to get their cotton at less than world prices?

Mr. Lyttelton

I think that is a fair point. For a long time they have been buying cotton at below the world prices— that I fully admit. The Government can take credit for that if they like, but, personally, I think that subsidies of this kind are bad for an industry, just as I think that prices over the world prices are bad. I do not think that this is at all the way to conduct a great industry—one day, subsidies, and, next day, the Government raising the prices when the world price is falling. How can the Central Commission hope to buy cotton as effectively as a free market?

I have no wish to recapitulate the arguments—to which there has been no reply whatever—which I made in a previous Debate, but I have to touch upon them. First, in a free market, the price of any commodity, especially an international commodity, could be ascertained without the exercise of preternatural powers of foresight or of clairvoyance. If there are more sellers than buyers, the market weakens, and there will be perhaps some resistance from a few people—speculators —who think the condition temporary; and on following days, if the buyers exceed the sellers, the price will weaken. Over any given period, the market price, in the main, will exactly reflect the state of supply and demand. A single bureau or commission has to forecast very correctly two things: first, what the thousands of order books in the manufacturing industry look like; and second, how hundreds of thousands of growers are likely to act.

The House should remember that cotton of all commodities is least susceptible to central purchase. The United States, for example, produce a cotton crop varying from seven million to over 20 million bales a year, yet the average production per farmer is from seven to ten bales. But this all-highest Commission is to have an all-seeing eye, and each morning has to make some appreciation of what hundreds of thousands of growers are likely to do, what are the prospects of the weather, of pests and crops—which have always been most awkward things for the London School of Economics—what orders are likely to be taken by spinners, what orders have been lost, and what are the prospects of new orders, in short, what is the state of business on the different order books in the entire industry. No human agency, other than a free market, can judge prices representing the difference between many fluctuating situations and views. The buying commission must take one view, and without the necessary knowledge. Even though it can collect the necessary knowledge, it cannot collect it in time to make use of it in the daily fluctuations of the market.

I turn to the largest aspect of the subject, and I ask the Government: Are the Commission going to hedge abroad, against their stock of cotton? If they are going to do so—I understood the hon. Gentleman to say that they are not going to do so—

Mr. Marquand

My right hon. and learned Friend will be able to answer the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Lyttelton

I should have thought that someone in the hon. Gentleman's own Department would know the answer. It seems an extraordinary thing that the Secretary for Overseas Trade should be unaware of the answer which the President of the Board of Trade is to give. As I do not know what the answer will be, I must deal with this matter on principle. I am in the same position as the Secretary for Overseas Trade—all is wrapped in mystery.

Mr. Marquand

Perhaps I may be allowed to help the right hon. Gentleman. The Cotton Control, at the moment, as repeatedly stated in this House, particularly in answer to the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers), does not use the hedging facilities of the New York market. Whether in some situation in the future the Commission may or may not use these hedging facilities, who can say?

Mr. Lyttelton

Let me deal with this on both points. First, if they are not going to hedge—and that is the tendency of the sibylline statement by the Secretary for Overseas Trade—then the Central Commission will find itself in the merchanting and market posture which it is the object of every merchant to avoid, namely, to have a large and unhedged bull stock. If the Commission is to provide the spinners with the cotton they require, then they must always hold a stock of over one million bales or thereabouts, and if it is unhedged, this stock will be entirely unprotected against market fluctuations The Commission will always be bending over and will aways be in a position to be kicked. At this point I expected to hear a murmur from hon. Gentlemen opposite, because I thought they would advance the argument that cotton will sometimes go up, and that by and large, over the average of good and bad years—that blessed phrase which, I suppose, will cover the delinquencies of the Government until they are turned out—the rises in cotton will equal the declines, and that what the Commission loses on the swings it will gain on the roundabouts. Unfortunately, this cannot happen. The market goes up abroad—I see the hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Overseas Trade is looking puzzled, but this is common knowledge to every merchant— the market goes up abroad when the demand from spinners increases, or when production declines, or for both reasons, and at that moment the rate of daily sale increases.

When the market is rising the Commission must lose cotton rapidly, or fail to meet the needs of the industry which it is pledged to meet. Its profits on sales will be very small on the rising market, and its accumulation when the market declines will be very large. I say that it is one of the unalterable market laws that the Commission will be obliged, as a whole, to sell at the bottom of a rise, and will find itself obliged to accumulate on the top of a fall. It is here a matter of speculating against all the market probabilities, and I say unequivocally that any central Commission which does not hedge is engaged in pure, grade "A," unadulterated speculation. If, after the President of the Board of Trade has read the answer of the Secretary for Overseas Trade, they should then decide that hedging is necessary, why not use our own market, and not a series of foreign ones, none of which is as yet international?

I said earlier that the real reasons for the Bill are different from those that appear on the face of it. I have tried to show something which I believe profoundly to be true—that the raw cotton cannot be efficiently bought by a central Commission. I now hazard a guess at what the real reason is. It is because the Government have said that they do not intend to nationalise the cotton industry. Therefore, they are now about to regiment, control, and drill it by another method, namely, through being the owner of all its raw materials. They will dole it out in quantities and at prices which will place the whole industry forever at their mercy. That is the real reason.

Before I leave this aspect, let me say that, whatever our feelings about nationalisation may be, whether favourable or adverse, the worst possible way of planning production on a national basis is by trying to turn the spigot of raw materials on or off. The level and efficiency of industrial production depends upon a free flow of raw materials, and all prices and profits depend upon the general activity and the turnover which can be achieved. If the management are denied free access to their own raw materials, and depend upon the Government's whim, how can they carry on efficiently? One of the greatest handicaps from which all our industries are suffering at this moment is the interruption of raw material supplies due to Government planning and Government actions. I am not overstating it, although I acknowledge that in the case of some scarce materials, Government allocation is an unavoidable evil. Cotton is not one of those.

I think it might be convenient if, now, I dealt with the subject of the so-called trading profit—of which the hon. Gentleman has not made much, and wisely so, since he simply touched upon it in a light way— of £25 million made since 1st April. Of course, the £25 million is not a trading profit. It comes from the realisation of stock, much of which was bought long ago, and some of it as long ago as 1941, during the war, and some of which was bought for political reasons, as, for example, the Egyptian cotton. I also ask now that we should be told, before the Debate closes, how much of our stock is Lend-Lease cotton for which we have paid only nominal prices? I hope we shall be given an answer to that question. But whether that enters into it or not, this is a realisation of stock. Very unfortunately for the world, and extremely fortunately for the Board of Trade, there has been a large inflation since these purchases were made, and so sales against stock naturally show a profit, but even then this so-called profit has only been made by juggling with the figures, as far as I can see, and with the Government controlled price of cotton. I will expose how it has been done. It will be interesting to the hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Overseas Trade.

In the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill, the general estimate is that today's value of the stocks of raw cotton to be handed over to the Commission is about £90 million—from one and a half million to two million bales. In order to create this so-called reserve, the price was raised, just before the Bill was introduced, by 5¾d., or £24 million, or almost exactly the sum required to show this trading profit. One cannot help sympathising with the President of the Board of Trade over the mischance that as they raised the price the market in the United States started to decline sharply. Another mischance is that this should have brought the Government price above the world price. It is really most unlucky that the calculations have gone wrong. The reserve of £25 million, the trading profit so-called, is just juggling with the figures.

Twopence per lb.—the amount by which the stocks are over valued at today's market prices—should be written off now. That would bring the amount down to £16 million or £17 million, and if I may assist the Secretary for Overseas Trade in his task of prophecy, I will tell him that most of that £16 million of £17 million will disappear by the vesting day, except and unless—and this is a most important proviso—the British spinner is to continue to be charged prices above the world prices. Finally, do not let us forget that the price of cotton today is more than three times what it was in September, 1939, and some of that great rise in price is due to the inevitable mishandling by central purchase. It is against the background, of a price already three times that of September, 1939, that the Government raise the value of their stock when other markets in cotton are already beginning to decline.

The President of the Board of Trade (Sir Stafford Cripps)

The valuation.

Mr. Lyttelton

The interjection of the President of the Board of Trade is most unfortunate. The valuation which he puts on the stock has nothing to do with the market, apparently.

Sir S. Cripps

The valuation which we put on the stock has nothing to do with the present rise in price.

Mr. Lyttelton

Later on, when the President of the Board of Trade comes to reconsider that intervention, we may see what he means by the present rise in price. It will have to be elaborated a great deal if it is to satisfy us. I do not know what an auditor, or what the Cohen Committee, would have thought of these methods, and I am indeed very glad that there is somewhere in the Bill a provision that the accounts of the Commission are to be audited according to the best commercial standards, and we can judge of the reason for this phrase, because I think it means not in accordance with the standards of the Board of Trade.

Before I leave the actual operations of the Commission and turn to the effect upon the industry, let me deal with one other aspect. Clause 1 (3) says: The Raw Cotton Commission shall sell the raw cotton bought and imported by them … at such prices as may seem to them best calculated to further the public interest in all respects. The next Clause says: The Commission shall … render raw cotton available to persons in the United Kingdom … at prices as low as may be possible consistently with securing that the revenues of the Commission shall be not less than sufficient. to cover their costs, and so forth. What does this mean?. Is the main concern of the Commission to cover its bare costs, or does it mean that its job is to sell cotton in accordance with the public interest? We are left in the dark. These Clauses seem contradictory. Is the industry, in other words, to be forced to share in the losses which the Commission is inevitably bound to make?

So far I have dealt with the operations of the Commission and of the heavy losses, which there are bound to be, taking the good years with the bad. These losses are bound to dog the footsteps of all those who start to trade on a thoroughly unsound basis, and that is what the Commission is going to do. These matters are highly important, especially to the taxpayer, but they are of secondary importance compared with their effect upon the manufacturing industry. What is it that the manufacturers and the spinners wish the supplier to provide? I take no exception, naturally, to the remarks which the Secretary for Overseas Trade made on this subject. He divided the objectives into three; I deal more naturally with two. They are, first, protection in price; and, secondly, the opportunity to buy any growth which suits a particular spinner's mill. I say that the Commission will not properly fulfil either function.

First, there is the matter of the price. Is the spinner to be able to buy or sell, on any day, cotton which he has and which he is not going to use? He may be covered and lose the order and he may wish to re-sell. I want a specific answer. Is the spinner able to buy or sell on any day at the approximate world price? I have to say "approximate world price" because the Government have destroyed the world price by destroying the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. Is it quite clear that the spinner will be able to buy and sell cotton to and from the Commission? I hope we shall have an answer to that. After all, I would remind the House that stability of price, although a desirable thing in itself, is not, in the main, the first objective of the spinner. The spinner is not primarily a producer but a converter, and what he requires to do is to maintain a margin between the price of raw cotton, and the price of the finished article, yarn or woven cotton which he makes. He lives on the margin between these two. The stability of price at all times facilitates business, but we are not dealing only with that. It is not the primary objective of the spinner which is to avoid having to speculate in cotton.

The next thing I wish to ask is: Is the Commission going to provide all these growths and special grades which the mill desires? Upon that matter the Secretary for Overseas Trade gave an entirely unsatisfactory answer when he said that the Commission would hold a larger stock than was previously held in Liverpool. Let us grant him that. He then says that the spinners are to be allowed to take samples and pay premiums, if they take a 100 per cent. sample of any growth that the Government has in stock. That entirely begs the question. It is impossible for the Government—[An HON. MEMBER: "The Commission."] Yes, the Commision; the Government only pay the bill. The spinner will be able to sample what the Commission has, but the Commission cannot possibly have that range of quality and growth which is necessary to the spinner, and I will tell the House why. It is because in order to buy exactly those quantities which are required by every spinner and each quality, it would be necessary again to have second sight, and to know what orders each particular mill was likely to take, in each particular grade.

Mr. Rhodes

Is it not a fact that the reason for so many grades was that the Liverpool market came first above everybody else, and the accent was never on the spinning qualities of cotton? It was always on the market value of any particular cotton.

Mr. Lyttelton

I should disagree categorically with everything the hon. Gentleman has said.

Mr. Edward Porter (Warrington)

The only difference is that the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Rhodes) is in the industry, and the right hon. Gentleman is not.

Mr. Lyttelton

I have had a great deal to do with the industry. The whole history of the bulk buying of cotton—and I think that the hon. Gentleman advances some excuse for this—shows that the spinner has to take what the Government want to give him, and there have been manufacturers—and not a few at that—who have had to cancel branded articles because they could not be sure of buying the quality of cotton they wanted.

Mr. Cobb (Elland)

Can the right hon. Gentleman get supplies of all the materials he wants?

Mr. Lyttelton

We are dealing with cotton at the moment.

Mr. Cobb

What about the supplier?

Mr. Lyttelton

Hon. Members must really let me get on. I say categorically, that once the spinner is cut off by law from contact with the merchant, with the market and with the grower as well as from the special types of cotton, he can never get the exact type of cotton he wishes. I do not want to keep the House much longer. [Laughter.] That laughter is not very courteous. This is a very complicated subject. Hon. Members opposite may think it is nothing to destroy an institution which has performed "good service for over 100 years. They know nothing of the risk which the State is going to run in this matter, and I intend to develop the argument.

There is the matter of compensation. Why are the merchants and brokers in cotton, whose business is to be wiped out by this Bill, not to receive any compensation? What is the essential difference between the man who buys cotton at one price, and sells yarn at another, and the man who buys and sells cotton on commission? If they decided to nationalise cotton spinning, it is presumed that the Government would pay compensation. Of course, we are very much in the dark about compensation. "The Times" this morning says there have been six different forms of compensation. Here is another form, which is no compensation at all—much cheaper and simpler, just confiscation.

Mr. Fairhurst (Oldham)

Would the right hon. Gentleman tell us who, in his view, ought to be compensated, and for what?

Mr. Lyttelton

I will come to the hon. Gentleman's point in a moment. I say that if the Government destroy a man's livelihood by Act of Parliament then, surely, he should be compensated. I am glad to see that the Minister of Health is in the House because this principle was applied in the National Health Service Act. Where the sale of the goodwill of a medical practice is thought to be contrary to the national interest, compensation is to be paid to the individual whose goodwill is destroyed. The same principle is to be found in the Railway Acts of 1921, in the Electricity Supply Acts of 1919 and 1926, and in the London Passenger Transport Act of 1935. It is not for me to answer the hon. Member's question with great precision, but I will do so as far as I can. I suggest that all those who were in business as merchants or brokers—and this applies to their staffs as well as to their partners —at the time when their market was shut down and central buying began, should be compensated on a calculation made on so many years' purchase of their property over a reference period of perhaps three, four, or five years. The sums involved will not be very large. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I think, as a matter of fact, that hon. Members opposite would be surprised how small they are in relation to the kind of figures we talk about today

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

The right hon. Gentleman will no doubt remember that somewhere in the middle thirties—about 1936—this House passed an Act designed to reduce the number of spindles. That would inevitably have the effect of putting many spinners out of the industry. That Act was passed not by a Labour Government but by the Tory Party opposite. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman what compensation was paid to the spinners?

Mr. Lyttelton

The hon. Member's intervention is entirely beside the point, because those whose spindlage was reduced had the advantage of making increased profits from the reduced spindlage, whereas in the present case, a mar's whole livelihood is to be wiped out. It spindles were working at a loss, naturally there would be no compensation. I am only asking—it is a very simple point even for the hon. Member—that compensation should be paid for loss of livelihood to cotton broking and merchanting firms who are wiped out by an Act of Parliament; that that compensation should i>e based on a reference period, and that the) should be compensated by so many years' purchase of their profits.

Mr. S. Silverman rose

Mr. Lyttelton

I really cannot give way any more. I have been speaking for some time and I now wish to sum up, The Amendment which I have moved against this Bill is based on these grounds. First, that the Bill destroys an international market and damages the trading position of Great Britain. Secondly, it has been presented without proper or full consultation with the manufacturing industry or, for that matter, with the working party Thirdly, that the Commission is certain to incur heavy trading losses at the expense of the taxpayer unless it engages in successful speculation which, I submit, is not at all likely although, it it is, this is not a function of a Government-sponsored body. Next, because it cannot provide the necessary mechanism by which the industry can insure all its risks I hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman with deal particularly with the risks on yarn stocks, on the one hand, and on the other, risks incurred by those who tender while their tender is out. The Secretary for Overseas Trade did not deal with that, but perhaps there is an answer. I oppose the Bill, next, because it cannot and will not give the industry the exact variety and qualities of cotton to suit each individual mill; and, lastly, because it fails to provide compensation to merchants and brokers and their staffs whose livelihood will be destroyed and whose only fault has been that they have carried on business to the satisfaction of all, sections of the industry for nearly a century

4.55 p.m.

Mr. Fairhurst (Oldham)

I have been awaiting this Bill since my right hon and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade made known his decision to continue the central purchase of cotton until such time as a scheme could be prepared for the establishment of a permanent Cotton Purchasing Commission. It is still necessary, however, as I see it, to examine the Bill now before the House both from a relative and an objective point of view, in order that we may be able to pronounce judgment upon it.

When this House debated the future of the Liverpool Cotton Market, the discussion was preceded by a heated and acrimonious controversy among all sections of the trade outside. The Liverpool and Manchester Cotton Association and the Federation of Master Cotton Spinners predicted that unless the President of the Board of Trade ate his words, and allowed the merchanting of cotton to go back to the old, tried, and trusted system which existed before 1939, the industry was doomed. Quite frankly, in my opinion that was all nonsense and almost on a par with something which has recently been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) and also a matter which was reported by the "Manchester Daily Despatch" last week a speech by the President of the Liverpool Cotton Association, who said: 'Liverpool's fight for life is the fight of all commerce and industry If Liverpool falls other markets will almost certainly follow.' The Government's Cotton (Centralised Buying) Bill failed to give any assurance that Lancashire mills would get their supplies at competitive prices as guaranteed through the Liverpool market. The Government have dispossessed members of that market and have replaced its time tested procedure by an elaborate structure built on public finance. The public are dragged in as unwilling partners in a great gamble. They will bear the losses ' I regard that as an absolutely unbalanced statement on the position, almost on a par with the statements made this afternoon by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot.

Mr. Lyttelton

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will tell us who will bear the losses?

Mr. Fairhurst

It is quite obvious that the President of the Board of Trade' will tell us later, in his winding-up speech Are the people who are again coming forward as "knights templars" of the Cotton Buying Association those who were eating out their hearts when the industry was in the slough? I do not think so. May I remind the House that the Balfour Report, 1924, Part III, in a survey of industries, referred to the Liverpool Cotton Market as a highly organised speculative market with all that that implies? May I refer again to the memorandum submitted by the Liverpool and Manchester Cotton Association, supported by the Federation of Master Cotton Spinners, when the case was put for a retention of the old scheme? It was suggested that proposals alternative to the intentions of the Government should be formulated. It is a highly organised, speculative market. The impact of the war found it sadly lacking, and it had to be changed. Something else had to be done to carry on the scheme. The old guard desire to retain the old system, and they were prepared to formulate alternative proposals. Therein seems to be the case against the Bill. It is a very weak case.

We have to come to the question of how best to buy raw cotton to feed Lancashire's cotton industry. Is it by the system which has grown up in the past? Has that stood the test of time, and has it proved itself in time of tribulation? Is it the most efficient? Could it be equal to the new industrial set-up that must operate? The answers in my opinion to those questions are in the negative The Government seem also to be of that opinion, or I am sure that we should not have this Bill. Surely the experience gained during the war ought to be some guide for the future. It must now be on record whether the method forced upon the industry by the war has proved to be more direct and sensible, and not so highly speculative as the old method. I submit that it has shown up much better, and that on the structure put up during the war can be built a more stable edifice, with less gambling and more safety.

Mr. Lyttelton

Is the hon. Member seriously advancing the argument that spinners have been able to get from the Board of Trade the type of cotton they wanted to spin during the war? A great deal of evidence could be produced to show that that was not the case.

Mr. Fairhurst

Certainly they were not able to get all they wanted, but there is something in addition to that. While the war was on, the whole industry changed its method of production. Only the future will provide the full answer. The Secretary for Overseas Trade gave us a very lucid and striking answer in his speech to the question whether the proposed method will more closely conform to the new superstructure which must be erected, if the cotton industry is to rehabilitate itself. The spinner and manufacturer must have their cotton and yarn without the uncertainty that has existed in the past. They must have sufficient of it, in the correct grades I do not think it requires the 200 or so cotton brokers who were comprised in the old Liverpool Cotton Market to do the job Futures were never a perfect cover The system always lent itself to gambling by people operating both inside and outside the industry.

The Government's decision to establish a permanent Cotton Purchasing Commission is quite sound Bulk purchase, followed by sale at fixed prices, will cut out the speculation which has so often upset cotton prices in the past. The variety of counts spun, and the number of ranges made, in many of our spinning mills are out of all proportion to what ought to be the constant run today. The ranges in manufacturered fabrics are at the present time almost phenomenal in many of the weaving establishments. That is a problem for the future working party. I do not think that the Liverpool Cotton Market, with all its ramifications, could meet the new position, if the industry is to survive and to flourish. Much of it would be unnecessary and would not assimilate itself to the changed conditions It would be compelled to reorganise itself in such a way that its' present component parts would fight like Kilkenny cats against any such reorganisation. The industry cannot await such a doubtful re forming method

Quite a lot has been said about the Liverpool Cotton Market and the part it played in the development of our cotton industry. In 1913, there were something like 600,000 to 700,000 employees. In 1924 the figure was similar, following an unexampled demand for our cotton goods In 1938 and 1939, the figures had gone down. They had shrunk until the industry was fighting for its life against foreign competition Whose responsibility was that? Who had had dealings with the cotton industry? Only those who owned and controlled the Liverpool Cotton Market. It is well known that the spinner always requires a stable market and that manufacturers require a price at which they know they can produce the goods. It is also well known that the only market that suits the merchants is one moving and jumping up and down constantly, because it gives them a chance of making more out of it. That kind of market does not suit spinners and manufacturers

We are not responsible for the fact that the trade has gone down. We are charged with the responsibility of revitalising and rehabilitating this great national industry, so that it can play its part in the export drive which is so necessary to our life. We must not forget that there was a time when a large proportion of the employees in the cotton industry were walking the streets of our industrial towns either with no work, or upon half time Those same people were without wages; they had scarcely a decent shirt to put on their backs. Whose fault was that? We must not forget that the spinners and manufacturers were often eating out their hearts because they were afraid to buy when the market in Liverpool was jumping up and down.

Mr. Lyttelton

Is the hon. Member suggesting that the misfortunes of the cotton textile industry in Lancashire are due to the existence of the Liverpool Cotton Market? If so, is he aware that his opinion is entirely contrary to that of the Working Party set up by his own Government?

Mr. Fairhurst

The right hon. Gentleman should read that Report through, and understand it. We on this side are not responsible for the present position of the Lancashire cotton industry, and we cannot assume that the people who controlled the Liverpool Cotton Market were so socially minded that the only thing they thought about was the wellbeing of the cotton industry We are not having, that at all. The fact remains that if they could make anything out of it. they did so. They did it pretty often and they did very well indeed. It is well known that it was almost impossible for any one, except sons or relatives of the owners and managers, to get into the Liverpool Cotton Market and the premium charged was very high indeed. Why? It almost represented a closed shop Why should that have been so unless it was a highly profitable affair? We therefore understand the reason why Members opposite are going to fight this Bill so strongly.

I believe that we shall prove to Lancashire and to the world when the new Measure begins to operate, that we have done one of the best jobs possible for Lancashire. I see that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot is now going out I have never heard a more unbalanced speech than his since I came here. We are anxious that the Lancashire cotton industry shall flourish in the future. We have had a good experience of the fact that it was going down and down, and probably only the incidence of the war saved it from almost utter extinction. Why was that so? I think we should give an answer showing that it is absolutely essential to reorganise the industry from top to bottom—

Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury)

Why was it so?

Mr. Fairhurst

It was not caused by the fact that the operatives in the trade were overpaid—

Mr. W. Fletcher

Is not this the answer? I quote from the Report of the Cotton Working Party: The troubles of cotton in the inter-war years were primarily due to the impact of external shocks with which no industry, however efficient, could by its own efforts have coped.

Mr. Fairhurst

There are about 300 pages in that Report and the hon. Member quotes one sentence. Surely we cannot accept that. Are we to assume that once more the party opposite are prepared to fight against a great social reform, just because of the fact that vested interests are operating behind them?

Mr. Erroll


Mr. Fairhurst

Every one who heard the speech of the Secretary for Overseas Trade must have been impressed by its logic and lucidity. I heard nothing in the speech of the right hon. Member for Aldershot at all damaging to the case made by my hon. Friend. The trade union movement in Lancashire, represented by the Union of Textile Factory Workers, is doing all it possibly can to bring this industry back to where it ought to be, but, here again, this afternoon we have hon. Members representing the vested interests in the Liverpool Cotton Market asking that necessary progress shall be retarded and held back—

Commander Galbraith (Glasgow, Pollok)

In which direction?

Mr. Fairhurst

It is almost impossible to visualise a changed industrial structure in Lancashire with the old Liverpool Cotton Market operating at the same time. I cannot see how it could operate successfully with what there must be in the future, if Lancashire is to play its part as an exporting industry in developing the social life of this country. I hope that hon. Members opposite will, for once, try to be realistic and honest with the facts and refrain from going into the Lobby against this Measure.

5.15 p.m.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (Wirral)

I can assure the senior Member for Oldham (Mr. Fairhurst) that I shall try to be realistic and endeavour to say what I really feel about this subject, not speaking on behalf of any vested interests. The Liverpool Cotton Market fulfilled an extremely useful function in that it was the means of merchanting cotton to the men who wanted to use it, a perfectly normal operation of trade which required skill and judgment, and the success of which depended upon the customer being satisfied. The fact has been, as we have heard, that the customers were satisfied. That merchanting function was the primary function of the cotton market. The secondary function of the cotton market was to insure the consumers against fluctuations in the price. That was also an extremely useful operation for it to perform. We have heard this afternoon a lot about what happened during the war. The hon. Member for Oldham and the Secretary for Overseas Trade spoke as though centralised buying had been successful during the war. I definitely challenge that statement. In fact during the war spinners had to take all sorts of cotton—whatever they were given. Many of them have been ashamed to produce the type of cloth they have had to produce. They had an assured market. They had the absolute certainty that they could get rid of whatever they produced If that is to be the test in our post-war trading, it merely shows how far from reality we are getting. What happened during the war was no test at all of what can happen in the future.

The Secretary of Overseas Trade showed a complete misappreciation of the future export needs of the country. We shall not regain or retain our export trade if spinners have to buy on description. The thing is so ridiculous that it hardly needs controverting. When the right hon. and learned Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade first announced his decision, he said he thought centralised buying would facilitate the production of utility cloth. If the Government think they are going to recapture Lancashire's trade with the production of utility cloth, they are living in a fools' paradise. The only future for this country as a great exporting country is the production of fine counts and specialities. That is the truth of the situation and we shall only get produced the type of goods which we can sell if the spinner can get exactly the type of cotton he wants.

Mr. Fairhurst

Does the hon. Member suggest that there is no significance in the trade required from India and China, and that it is absolutely essential that fine counts should be employed for these places when the demand is for something quite different?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not want to be drawn into too long a discussion on this point. My own view is that the export future of this country does in the main depend upon fine counts and that we shall not recover the type of export trade we have had in the past. I wish we could, but I do not think we shall. I think it will depend upon a rather different type of product. My point on this is that it is essential for the spinner to get exactly what he wants—the cotton that suits his machinery—and the person to give him that is the person who understands exactly his requirements and who has been dealing with him for a considerable time, and has spent a long apprenticeship in the country where the cotton is produced and knows the vagaries of weather and grade and staple. We shall also depend for the future of the export trade upon competitive buying; in other words, if one cotton producer is holding up the price against us, then we must have men who are searching the cotton producing countries for cheaper cotton, so that if North American cotton is too expensive at one time, we should be able rapidly to get supplies of cotton from other countries so that North American cotton will come down when it is seen that less of it is being bought. It is absolutely essential, if we are to regain our export trade, that we should not. have a ham-handed bulk purchaser getting a lot of stuff which is not really wanted, and having to pass it on to the spinner at a price which is above world prices.

The hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Overseas Trade said that this will avoid random fluctuations of the market, but does not the Government realise that, in fact, Liverpool was the stabilising market of the world? We have had experience recently of New York as a fluctuating market. At the present time the Government is buying on New York market. It is fixing its prices by New York future prices, and that is introducing into [...] Government's transactions a great element of speculation particularly because the cotton markets of the world have been deprived of the one stabilising market, which was the Liverpool market. In my submission, the result of that will simply be the accentuation of the fluctuations of price and the transferring of the risk either to the taxpayer, or else to the spinner by way of increased costs of his raw material.

I submit that those who have spoken already have not met the following points: first, that the one really international cotton market in the world is being destroyed; secondly, that one of the institutions which have made us a great commercial nation is being destroyed. There are certain institutions in this country of world-wide repute and standing which have built up the commerce and the trade of this country. The Liverpool Cotton Market is one of them. Thirdly, by this action the country is being deprived of much needed foreign currency. We heard it said by the Secretary for Overseas Trade that the cost of the Liverpool Cotton Market was something like £2 million a year. We also heard on a previous occasion from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it brought in about a million a year in foreign exchange. Looking at those two figures, it was not such a bad bargain for this country, particularly when a substantial proportion of the foreign exchange was hard currency. Fourthly, it is abundantly clear that this is a very great blow to Liverpool as a commercial centre. It has been admitted that only one tenth of the people concerned can be re-employed in the Government undertaking and, with all the loss of the ancillary banking and insurance business, it is a mortal blow to Liverpool as a commercial centre. Finally, I believe that, in the long run, it will cost the taxpayers many millions of pounds.

I want to refer to a matter which the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) raised, the question of compensation. I am wholeheartedly opposed to the Bill on its merits; nevertheless, I think that, bad as it is, it would be improved by the insertion of some proviso in regard to compensation. On the question of compensation, I consulted that blueprint of the brave new world, "Let Us Face The Future." Incidentally, it is rather ironical that the abolition of a futures market should be one of the ways of preparing to face the future. In it, it is stated that fair compensation will be paid when industries are socialised. In all other Measures we have had that principle honoured to a greater or lesser extent—in coal, the Bank of England, Cables and Wireless, the Health Bill, and the new Transport Bill. In the new Transport Bill it is extended from the question of physical assets to compensation for cessation of business and there are also provisions for compensation for severance. So I submit that logically there is no ground at all for differentiating between that case and the people concerned in this matter.

With regard to the need for compensation, it is frequently said from the other side of the House that this has been a rich man's business in the past. That is a complete misstatement of fact. Of course, there have been some rich cotton brokers and some rich merchants but, in the main, it has been a small man's business. There have been 200 firms on the Liverpool market, the vast majority of them quite small.

Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)

There are always wee fleas where there are big fleas.

Mr. Lloyd

It was said in the last Debate by the hon. Lady the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mrs. Braddock) that before one could operate on the market, one had to put down £10,000. I am sure the hon. Lady did not intend to make what was a complete misstatement. The cost of a share in the Liverpool Cotton Association immediately before 1939 was £300, and the requirement was that a firm should be able to satisfy the directors of the Association that they were good for £10,000, that they had assets to meet their outstanding contracts—

Mrs. Braddock (Liverpool, Exchange)

The same, with a difference

Mr. Lloyd

And that might be done, for example, by the guarantees of relatives, and other forms of collateral security, and that was for the firm not the individual. Many of these people have been trained in the business all their lives. They have spent long apprenticeships and lived in exile overseas, they have had to work in a very hard school, they have had to learn how to make money in this business, which is something that, apparently, will not be required in the future. They were, in many cases, risking their own or their employer's money, which is a very different attitude from that of a public servant. Their capital is their knowledge of cotton, their connections overseas, and their experience of the business. The Government is preventing those people from continuing to earn their living. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] The Secretary for Overseas Trade said that only one-tenth of these people could be employed in the new Government machinery. What is happening in fact? One firm, which employed 96 people before the war, is now employing 12; another firm, employing 65 people before the war, is now employing four.

Mr. Kirby (Liverpool, Everton)

Is it not a fact that the great majority of these people were dispersed as far back as 1941, and are not being dispersed under this Bill at all?

Mr. Lloyd

The fact is that very many of the employees in the cotton market— practically 2,000—went to the war in one way or another and, now the war is over, they are coming back looking for their jobs and, of course, they are not finding them. In answer to that intervention, may I give a typical case? A man I spoke to on Saturday, aged 42, spent six years in the war, and was in the industry for 18 years before the war. He has a wife and three children, and had worked up to a position in which he was earning between £900 and £1,000 a year. The alternative employment offered by the Control—he was one of the fortunate one tenth I suppose—was at £5 a week. I know another case of a man aged 56 who has spent 30 years in the business. He served in the war as quartermaster in the Home Guard battalion. He came back knowing no other business than cotton, with no other skilled knowledge. I have bombarded various Government Departments on his behalf to see if anything can be done. At the moment he is in receipt of £2 a week public assistance money. Those cases can be multiplied one hundredfold. We have heard the total figure given as something like 3,000 people, and what is happening at the moment is nothing like as bad as what will happen. Another firm, to one of the principals of which I was speaking over the week end, is at present making allowances to eight of its employees between the ages of 45 and 65, allowances which the firm will be unable to continue for more than another 12 months. Each of these men has specialised technical knowledge of cotton. They are not suitable for, and cannot do anything like as well in, any other business. They know all about cotton and they are being deprived of the opportunity to continue their work.

Mr. Fairhurst

May I cite another case? I have vivid recollections of when the steel industry was concentrated. A number of furnaces in the constituency in which I live were closed down, and thousands of men were thrown out of work. They did not get compensated; they did not get anything at all for years afterwards. Is there not an analogy between that case and this?

Mr. Lloyd

While not admitting what has been said, may I remind the hon. Gentleman that there is an old saying: Two wrongs do not make a right"? If the hon. Member thinks that that is wrong, I hope he will support me on this point. In addition to the people who were employed in 1939 and came back ready to work, there is the case of pensioners. There are a considerable number of people—I am told several hundreds, but it is difficult to ascertain the precise figures—either old employees, or families and dependants of old employees, who are in receipt of pensions or allowances of one sort or another, from cotton firms. Those allowances must stop on the dissolution of the market. I submit that in that case there is a very strong ground for compensation to be provided. There will be a breach of faith if no compensation is given, because in 1941, when the control took over and a care and maintenance scheme was devised, it was quite specifically stated on behalf of the then Government that that scheme was to keep the market going, ticking over, so that it would be in a position to open up again, when conditions were suitable after the war. No one with any knowledge would pretend that the care and maintenance scheme provided by itself sufficient to keep going, but, relying on that, many firms continued at considerable financial sacrifice to keep themselves on a care and maintenance basis.

Mr. Rhodes

I really cannot allow the hon. Member to get away with that statement. It is wrong, Sir. The position was in 1939 that stocks of cotton were held and the Liverpool Market was holding on in the anticipation of prices coming down. When the Government stepped in on barter and imported, or attempted to import, 600,000 bales from America, the Liverpool Cotton Market would not agree.

Mr. Lloyd

I fail to understand the relevance of that interruption. My point had nothing to do with what the hon. Member was bringing out. I am prepared if necessary to deal with the period between 1939 and 1941. The facts as to that period, if dealt with, are in no way discreditable to the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. But I was dealing with what happened in 1941, and I was saying that it would be a breach of faith if it were now decided that the market should not be opened and if compensation were not payable, because sacrifices were made to keep the market in some sort of skeleton form during the war. There would be no practical difficulties in the provision of compensation. I think some method of assessing and distributing compensation could easily be devised by the Government. They could devise their own rules of the circumstances in which it would be paid, and the method by which it should be distributed. A very grave injustice will be done to a very large number of small people who have served their country well during two world wars. They have a record equalled by no other trading association. In peace time they fulfilled a very useful function It will be a very grave injustice if no provision is made for compensation. Even if there is provision for compensation included, this Bill will still be an extremely bad Bill, disastrous for this country.

5.37 p.m.

Mr. Scott-Elliot (Accrington)

I am sorry to see that the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) is not in his place, because I want to say a few words about his speech. He started by telling us that the majority of employers are against this Bill. I entirely agree with him, but if he knew a little more about Lancashire he would know that the majority of the cotton operatives are in favour of it. Is not this an example of the way in which the right hon. Gentleman's mind moves, when he assumes that the employers represent the industry?

Let us depart from capitalist theory, get down to brass tacks, and consider in an objective manner whether the provisions of the Bill are good or bad, and where they are going to lead us. I propose to examine the Bill under three headings: first, to see how it will affect the cotton industry generally and, the spinning section in particular; next, how it is going to affect the export trade of this country; and thirdly—and this is a point to which attention has not hitherto been drawn in the Debate—how it will affect world raw cotton production. On the first point I want to try to answer the arguments which have from time to time been advanced from the opposite side of the House. There is the question of the lack of variety. That has been dealt with to a large extent by the Secretary for Overseas Trade, who has shown that not only are there very large stocks of cotton being held in Liverpool, but that the new sampling arrangements are shortly to be put into effect, as regards Egyptian cotton and, when space and warehousing are available, for other growths of cotton. I agree that we must have speciality types of cotton. Of course, if one wants to make a fine sateen, one must buy the kind of cotton that will ultimately make a silky kind of cloth suitable for schreinering. I am quite sure we cannot take as an analogy what happened during the war because, obviously, then it was necessary sometimes to tender cotton to spinners that was not altogether suitable for their requirements. Under the new system an entirely different state of affairs will obtain. I emphasise the point that we must have the greatest possible variety— variety as to growth, quality, type and staple.

The right hon. Member for Aldershot drew attention to certain types of cotton which, he alleged, were not available. He does not seem to know a great deal about it. If he went to the operatives of Rochdale and asked them if they wanted East Indian cotton, he would be given a very rough and broad Lancashire answer. I know that East Indian cotton is not available, and, in the interests of Lancashire and the export trade, we can do very well without it since it does not normally spin into good quality yarn. Turning to the question of cover, there was a futures market only in American and Egyptian cotton, though I think I am right in saying that there was a futures market in East Indian cotton just before the war. Today it is possible to hedge in any type of cotton, whereas before the war if one had Uganda, Peruvian or Brazilian cotton it was not a satisfactory thing—and I can speak as an East India merchant—to hedge against another growth by selling American futures.

I come to the point about the Commission being a large and uncovered "bull," as the right hon. Gentleman calls it. He also made a statement, which I confess I cannot comprehend, that when cotton goes up in price there is suddenly a greatly increased demand for it. The fact is that it all depends what causes that rise in price. It may be due to increased demand. If so, of course there will be a greater offtake of cotton. But if, as is far more likely, it is due to the depredations of the bollweevil, there will not be any increase in the offtake of cotton. Indeed the offtake will probably decline. Therefore, I cannot accept the right hon. Gentleman's argument. I want to stress that there will be years when the Commission will make a profit; there will be years when it will make losses. By and large this thing will balance itself out. To my understanding there is nothing whatever in the Bill to prevent the Commission from hedging, at such times as it may consider desirable, whether in New York or elsewhere. It is a perfectly reasonable thing to do occasionally.

I have a further substantial point to make. Before the war, spinners were thinking in terms of buying cotton cheaply rather than of spinning efficiency. I know from my own experience of a man, whose name I could give the House, well known and very reputable. He was both a spinner and manufacturer. I used to be told by my business friends in Manchester, that he was able to give cut prices in large lines of dhooties for the East India trade because he bought his cotton well. We want to get spinners away from this attitude. If spinners before the war had been thinking more of putting in high drafting machinery, so sadly needed in the Lancashire industry today, they would have been serving the interests of the country much better.

I now turn to the trade balance. It was alleged in the Debate last April that we would lose substantial foreign exchange by reason of the fact that foreigners would not be able to operate any more in a free Liverpool market. The hon. Member for Wavertree (Mr. Raikes) made an astonishing statement. He said that there would be a loss of £17 million a year. In the light of the real figures, his error was one of 2,000 per cent. Indeed it seems to me to be much on a par with some of the statements made by the Opposition when discussing six Orders recently made by the Board of Trade. They moved six Prayers for their annulment, and it may be within the recollection of hon. Members that on that occasion as a result of various interruptions during the few remarks I had to make, it was proved conclusively that hon. Gentlemen opposite were praying against those six Orders, the purport of which they wholly misunderstood. The extent of the loss is estimated at about £700,000. Indeed my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, when summing up in that last Debate, said that the limit could be about one million pounds. Supposing we lose £700.000 or one million pounds, and can thereby gain, owing to the greater stability of the raw material, £10 million or £20 million of additional exports, it will be pretty good business for us in terms of foreign exchange.

Mr. William Shepherd (Bucklow)

Suppose we lose?

Mr. Scott-Elliot

I do not know it the hon. Member has ever been a merchant in India. I was, for many years, and have sold more Lancashire cotton goods than probably any other Member of this House. When the price of cotton fluctuates, whether up or down, it is bad for the export trade. Why? When it goes up there are a certain number of merchants who have gone in and bought, others want to come in and buy on the same terms. If the price of cotton goes up they are unable to make their purchase Conversely, when the price goes down, everybody becomes unsettled and holds off buying. There is nothing more conducive to stable and increasing export trade than a stable price of the raw material such as is envisaged in this Bill.

The right hon. Member for Aldershot made a further remark about the price of cotton being three halfpence a pound over U.S parity. I agree it is. I agree also that we had been selling at something from 4d. to 5d. a pound under the United States parity previously. Of course we had. The point the right hon. Gentleman wanted to make was that this discrepancy in parity, the fact that we were three-halfpence per lb. over the market at the present time, was a bad thing. It makes no difference whatever to our export trade at the present time. We can sell many times over the amount of cotton goods that is available for export, the difficulty being not price but labour shortage.

Mr. Osborne (Louth)

A sellers' market —that is why.

Mr. Scott-Elliot

I am not saying that in future years it will make no difference, but in this connection the President of the Board of Trade may be able to tell us something about the possibility of adjusting the selling price of the Commission to something more nearly in line with world trade prices. It is a very complicated subject—[Laughter.]. Hon. Gentlemen opposite do not seem to realise that the reason one cannot put the price up and down once a week is because we have a scheme for subsidising the price of utility cloth; therefore, it is not possible. I have heard rumours that something of that kind may be contemplated. We may be able to get over that difficulty.

Before turning to the final point which I wish to make, I would say a word on fluctuations in the price of cotton. The year 1937 is generally regarded as a year of pretty good trade Yet cotton violently fluctuated in that year. Here are some prices: Egyptian 12.05d.—8.10d. per lb.: middling American 7.87d.—4.59d. per lb. I well remember going to Lancashire and being adopted as prospective candidate for Accrington in place of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Works, who had been elected for Farnworth. I remember those years of misery and unemployment and under-employment in the weaving industry, which bit into the hearts of Lancashire people. I remember skilled weavers going home, after a week's work, Working two looms and playing two looms, with earnings of 18s., 19s. and 20s. a week less than they could have got on the dole. That is the kind of thing we got from the catastrophic fall which took place in the price of cotton in the autumn months of 1937.

I want to say a word about world production of cotton. Everybody has been talking as though there is to be a lot of cotton in the world. I am not sure that that is right. Let us look, in the first place, at the position in the United States, with their very small crop of nine million bales at the present time. I admit that they may be able to improve on that, but it means that they will be three or four million bales down in the carry forward. There is a movement on foot, about which my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Rhodes) knows more than I do, for contracting the growth of cotton in certain of the South-Eastern States, and concentrating it more in the State of Texas and surrounding territories. Were that to happen, were America to contract her acreage of cotton, it would undoubtedly react considerably upon us. Moreover, it is reasonable to suppose that the consumption of American cotton is likely to go up in the near future and now that Japan comes within the American orbit it is highly probable that America will want to sell more of her low grade cottons to Japan, just as she has been doing recently. Japan must get cotton from somewhere, and that leads me to India from where she used to get it. India has had to cut down the acreage under cotton by 10 million owing to the near famine conditions in that country. The result is that there is now no East India cotton of decent staple for export. Brazilian spinning capacity has gone up enormously during the war in order to help with the requirements of the world, and Brazil is now likely to consume more of her own cotton. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Russia?"] I cannot say anything about Russia. So far as I am aware, she is likely to consume the cotton she produces. Generally, I think all this points to the fact that there may be a shortage of cotton. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are fond of posing as the champions of the Empire. Other hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House are just as keen about the Empire and just as keen to develop trade, industry and production within the Empire. I resent very much the way in which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite pose as the champions of the Empire and fly their Union Jacks.

During the war we began to underwrite, and subsequently to buy, the East African cotton crop. It will moreover be within the knowledge of the House that there is on foot a scheme to increase the production of ground nuts. Now cotton is an extremely good rotation crop for ground nuts since it does well in the same kind of soil. I would like to see more cotton grown within the Empire, as a result of which we would make a considerable saving of dollars. There is only one possible way to do it, by doing what we have done during the war—by underwriting the whole of the cotton crop in the East African Colonies and giving a firm undertaking that we will purchase all the cotton they produce at a fixed price. That would give them a stable market in which they would be able to earn a reasonable profit and it is likely to give us cotton of good quality at a far cheaper price than we might be able to buy it elsewhere. In the light of the few remarks I have made, it should be obvious that there is much to be said in favour of this Bill. I consider that the balance of advantage is clearly in favour of its proposals and I hope the House will give the Bill a large majority on Second Reading.

5.54 p.m.

Mr. Raikes (Liverpool, Wavertree)

The hon. Gentleman the Member for Accrington (Mr. Scott-Elliot), who gave us something of a lecture on cotton, made a burning reference to the British Empire and suggested that we should do more to encourage the growing of cotton within the Empire. I cannot help wondering whether it is of any particular help to the growing of cotton in the Colonies that this year, Uganda, from whom we bought cotton throughout the war, has been told that this country does not need the supplies and that Uganda can sell at the world prices. Since we closed the Liverpool Cotton Exchange, Uganda has been unable to discover the world price. If that is the hon. Gentleman's idea of Socialist planning of Empire, it seems to be rather on a par with certain other ideas we have heard from hon. Gentlemen opposite. The hon. Gentleman made it clear in the course of his observations that he really believed that we were going to have a sellers' market for a considerable number of years. Anybody who believes that will believe anything, so I propose not to deal with his comments further but suggest that, if possible, he has a little talk with the President of the Board of Trade If he does that he will become a little less optimistic in regard to the idea that we can sell anything that we can produce in this country indefinitely. That form of false optimism is the sort of folly which does more harm to the raising of the standard of production in the country than anything else.

On a matter of this sort, a Bill of so technical a character, one must be either long or short in one's remarks. It may be of some relief to hon. Members opposite if I make a pledge that I intend to be brief. I listened with some interest to the Secretary for Overseas Trade, and there were just two points upon which we might be in agreement. I am always glad to be in agreement with anybody on the opposite side of the House whenever I can—which is never for very long. I will state what they are. First and foremost, I agree with the hon. Gentleman that this question of the new machinery which is being set up should not be a question of principle but of deciding whether or not this form of machinery is going to help spinning, and the cotton industry in this country in general, better than the old set up. That is really the clear issue, which one has to consider on merit. I am also prepared to agree on one further point and that is, that in my view certain steps which were indicated, as tar as protection in the future is concerned, were an advance upon what has been stated up to the present.

Having said that, I must say that, over this Measure as such, I am bound to place myself in complete opposition. After all, when we had the last Debate which foreshadowed this Bill the two main arguments, as I recollect it, were put forward by the Chancellor of the Exchequer The Lord President, of the Council did not trouble much about arguments on that occasion but the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that, with the new set-up, he hoped to see less fluctuation of prices than we had in the old days. He also added that 10 per cent. of the members of the trade were in favour of the new set up. What have we found? We need only look at the figures in the years of con- trol. It is plain that whatever fluctuations may have been in the past—and the greatest oportunity for fluctuation was the American slump in 1931—fluctuations during control have been greater than they were before control. He fell down upon the one thing on which he pro phesied because not 10 per cent. of the trade voted in favour of his scheme. When they had a ballot the figure was less than 1 per cent.

These arguments do not carry us much further I want to turn for a few moments to what was said by the Secretary for Overseas Trade. He said that many spinners were content to buy by description alone. Of course, spinners under present conditions, practically speaking, have no opportunity of buying by anything else. but it is generally admitted throughout the trade that buying by description alone means almost inevitably buying lower class, and lower type goods. Although the hon. Gentleman said many spinners were prepared to buy by description alone, he-hastened to add that sampling facilities would be supplied in the near future. These facilities are on rather a different basis from the past, because the Government are bulk buying and, if they do that it is inevitable that they will buy upon description. It may be that, after the Government have bought on description, it will be possible for the spinners to take samples of what there is in the warehouses, but that is taking it at the second step

I commend that to the President of the Board of Trade himself. One of the difficulties which one finds oneself up against in large-scale purchase—and it is a difficulty which is being met with today—is that, where one buys in great quantities, it is often found, on examination of the wares afterwards, that every kind of cotton is included in such a purchase. That, of course, is the criticism at the present time. It is true that that form of control was necessary during the war, but the one thing today for which the trade is crying out is the opportunity to have a real variety of choice, and not a very limited choice such as occurs when there is an enormous centralised body buying on a large scale, and which, after having brought the goods over, only then provides some form of sampling.

It is all very well to cast the sort of criticisms which have been cast today by hon. Members opposite upon the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. If one thing cannot be denied, it is that even during the worst days of the depression in Lancashire— and heaven knows it was bad enough—the industry always contrived to. export over half of its production. Its exports never fell below the figure of 52 per cent., due to the world prices being known through the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. As has been pointed out by several hon. Members, we have lost that opportunity today. Today we have to guess the world price, as the Government are doing. We are guessing on futures in New York which has always been a more speculative market than Liverpool.

If I spend a moment or two on the actual issues in regard to Liverpool, although the subject has already been referred to, I know that the House will bear with me. As a Liverpool Member, I must consider the situation there First of all it is a grave disadvantage to the cotton industry as a whole if Liverpool men with their personal contacts abroad are completely eliminated. Secondly, if only about one-tenth of those who were employed in the Liverpool Cotton Exchange are employed in the present set-up, nine-tenths of the men trained over a period of years for a specific job will not be wanted. That would be a waste of energy and a waste of an asset which this country has had up to the present time. Those men have been specially trained for the job and if they are merely to be fitted into something different, their past highly technical training will be wasted.

I am not going to say more than a few words on the question of compensation. I believe that there has never been a time when a stronger case for compensation could be made out, not only to the firms, but to the staffs, to those men coming back from the Services and elsewhere who have been guaranteed re-employment in their old jobs. They have not lost their employment because they have been exploited by the capitalists, because works have been closed down, or even because industries have been moved to other places. They are debarred from taking up their former employment by one thing alone—the direct action of His Majesty's Government, who for so long, particularly on the back benches, cast criticism on private employers who have closed down their works. If the Government, who claim to set an example to private owners, in all walks of life, lived up to that spirit, those men at any rate, would be decently compensated for the loss of their employment. Failure to give such compensation is one of the meanest actions that we have witnessed in modern times.

I would say little more because many other hon. Members wish to speak in this Debate. I maintain, in closing, that it is more and more obvious from this Debate, as from the last, that the real reason for this new scheme is not that the old system failed in the past, but, rather, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr Lyttelton) stated in a most admirable speech, that it is an easy way, to all intents and purposes, of nationalising the cotton industry without the bother of a nationalisation Bill. To do this places the spinners and everybody else concerned completely in their hands. It is a political Measure, based on politics alone. I believe that, like all such Measures which have nothing behind them but political advantage, it will fail.

6.6 p.m.

Mr. Dryden Brook (Halifax)

I begin my contribution to this Debate by accepting the test put forward by hon. Members opposite, as to what should be the purpose of this machinery. The test is whether the machinery will help the spinner and the cotton industry generally. It seems to me that there has been too much talk on the Opposition benches to the effect that almost every Measure which this Government puts forward is merely put forward because of doctrinaire ideas. In that connection, it is rather strange that a newspaper which stands for private enterprise, if it stands for anything, only this morning, in discussing this Bill, says of the speech made in the previous Debate by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) that he, and those who supported him on that occasion, took their speeches too uncritically from a sectional brief. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is the paper?"] The paper is the "Manchester Guardian." The speech which the right hon. Gentleman has made today is in the same vein as that which he made on the previous occasion. His argument is based on mid-Victorian economics, and assumes that there is the same kind of fluidity in the market today. That is a mistake which all the classical economists have made from the time of Adam Smith onwards.

It appears to me that the cotton industry today is divided into three parts —the grower of the raw cotton, the merchant and the manufacturer or the spinner. I speak not as a trade unionist and not as an intellectual, but as a man who has had a lifelong contact with the subject and who has earned his livelihood in the raw material industry, in the merchanting of the sister textile, wool. For the last 30 years, there has been a growing community of interest between the grower of the raw material, on the one hand, and the manufacturer on the other. But in between the two must come the merchant. The grower and the manufacturer have this community of interest because both of them, for the purpose of their industry, need a stability in the market and a stability in prices, whereas, over the last 30 years, there has been a growing apparency that the merchant, as a merchant, was a functionless individual in the growing circumstances of industry. All too often there has been a conflict of interest between the merchant on the one hand and the manufacturer on the other because the merchant has no interest in stability of prices. Indeed, in the period since the beginning of the last war the merchant's interest has been in fluctuating markets, because he has tended more and more to look upon the basis of his profit as being the result of fluctuation and the result of speculation. That means that the gambling and speculation in the industry, and on the market, have not come—as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot said in a speech which he made on a previous occasion—from people outside the industry, but from people inside the industry—the merchants.

That danger can be accentuated if we realise what has been happening in the industry during the last 30 or 40 years, where the strongest section, financial in interest, has been the merchanting class. Once the merchanting class comes to depend upon fluctuations on the market as the basis of its profit, it is only one more step towards using fluctuations as a means of enhancing; profit. When there are strong financial interests in the merchanting end of the business, those strong financial interests will use their power, not in order to eliminate fluctuations but to increase them. That is what has been happening during the period of the last 30 years. If I am right in my assumption that the spinning and manufacturing end of the cotton industry, as indeed of all the textile industries, needs stability of price in order that it may function most efficiently, then the test of the old machinery must be: Has the old machinery given stability in price? It is obvious, if one looks over a period of history, that it has not. Therefore, if the old system has not given stability of price, it seems to me that we must look for something new in order to achieve that object. The only way in which we can achieve that object is to eliminate all the competing interests which hitherto have been the basis of fluctuation, and to begin the business of large scale operations and national buying. Fluctuation in price does not stop at the spinning section of the industry.

Mr. Osborne

Is the hon. Member suggesting that this alteration will iron out all fluctuations in world prices?

Mr. Brook

As one who has had a long experience in raw material buying, I am not. I am suggesting that the only possible way in which to make an approach to eliminate this fluctuation is by one operation and one responsibility. Let me refer the hon. Member to a speech which was made many years ago when Sir Alfred Mond, as he then was, began the Imperial Chemical Industries. He divided the risks of industry into two kinds, one of which was a risk which was not possible of elimination, and the other risk which arose out of the competing nature of industry itself. Sir Alfred Mond gave as; one of his reasons for setting up Imperial Chemical Industries the fact that it was a means of eliminating the second kind of risk.

Mr. Lyttelton

In that regard, surely the fluctuations are enhanced in agricultural problems of this kind?

Mr. Brook

I will come to that in a moment, when I come to deal with the growers' side. Sir Alfred Mond started Imperial Chemical Industries because he realised that only through large-scale organisation could the second risk be eliminated. I now come to the growers' side of the operation. The growers want stability. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot argued as though, on the growers' side of the industry, there are innumerable competing units, and that that kind of organisation was likely to continue in the future. Is that the case? Is not it the case that the grower, in order to achieve some stability in the market, has tended more and more to cooperate either voluntarily or through his Government? It is not true to say that there is no organisation in the world at the present time which is controlling raw cotton. In the paper from which I have already quoted, I find it stated this morning: The Governments of India, of Egypt and of Brazil now own or control the disposal of large raw cotton stocks. To argue as though we are still living in the world of innumerable small competitors is not to face the reality of the situation at all, and we have to get out of that position. That is, as I see it, the general principle.

I would now like to deal very briefly with one or two Clauses of the Bill, in which I think there are possibilities for the future. Clause 6, which was referred to by my hon. Friend the Secretary for Overseas Trade, deals with the individual members of the commission. He emphasised the fact that these independent members of the commission would have full-time jobs, or nearly full-time jobs, and should have no financial interest in any section of the industry. In that respect, I hope the Board of Trade will make a much greater reality of that than has happened in any of the wartime controls. During the war various Members of the Government, standing at that Box with their hands on their hearts, assured the people of this country that those who were working a particular control had no financial interest in the industry which they were controlling. Anybody who was in an industry in that connection knows that that was pure fiction. I hope that in this case it will be a reality and will be made absolutely clear. Nothing can undermine the faith which those responsible for the organisation of the industry have in a control than to be suspicious of the interests of those operating the control. We want something more than that. Having obtained independent people we want to give them as much responsibility as is possible, consistent with the overriding reality of the national good

Hon. Members opposite forget all our wartime experience. I think it can be put Into one sentence, which was used in a speech by the then Leader of the Liberal Party, "that the interest of the individual must not take precedence over the needs of the community." I think that sums up the situation. We want to build up in our new organisation personnel who will have independence of mind, initiative, and the capacity to accept responsibility.

Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)

Where will the hon. Member get them?

Mr. Brook

If the hon. Gentleman would like to rise and make an interruption I am prepared to sit down I do not like answering remarks which I cannot hear. If hon. Members opposite care to argue that we cannot get that kind of individual in the service of the community, then I suggest to them that they have very poor faith in the human beings who won the war for this country.

Clause 9 deals with research, and gives the Commission powers to institute research. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have spoken of the glories of private enterprise. Surely, if there is one section of industry which is a condemnation of private enterprise it is in the matter of research. If the claims of the Opposition be true, that competition means every industry, and every individual unit in that industry, will reach the highest perfection of efficiency through the workings of competition, why under private enterprise has not more been done in respect of research than has been done in the past? Why is it that under private enterprise this country has gone to the bottom of the world? Until the Government began to stimulate research private enterprise had done little or nothing for research in this country. What I envisage in the future is this. There are organisations engaged in research in various industries. I hope that the machinery set up under this Bill means that coordination of research may be instituted, in order that we may develop research into common industries, not as individual units but as a coordinated whole.

I should like before concluding to refer to Clause 10, which provides the cover scheme. Under this Bill, unlike anything we have had in the past, we shall have one merchant, a national merchant. The merchant's function in industry has been to carry stock—or should be to carry stock—not for speculative purposes, but for satisfying the needs of his customers in the industry. It is not the function of the spinner or manufacturer to carry stock, except to meet immediate needs; his function is to have his capital invested in his buildings and machinery. The merchant has not in the past been carrying out his legitimate function, carrying stock to satisfy the needs of his customers. All too often he has carried stocks because of the speculative market.

Therefore, we need to eliminate the uncertainty, so that the national merchant in the future can carry adequate stocks, which must be carried over a period to ensure adequate stocks for the individual spinner, and in order to build up the machinery for a stable price level. We shall not, possibly, achieve stability in the raw material market in a short space of time, but I believe that the machinery, that is put into this Bill, will enable us over a period of years to achieve approximate stability, and that that will benefit the industry as a whole. Until that becomes possible, then this carry-over in the futures market must be operative, but it must be operative on the basis of insuring people who are engaged in the industry against the risks of their legitimate needs, and must not be used, as it has been in the past, as a means of insuring a speculative position in order to benefit those people who want to make money out of fluctuations in the raw materials market. Because of those reasons I, too, hope that this Bill will pass its Second Reading tonight by a great majority.

6.22 p.m.

Mr. Erroll (Altrincham and Sale)

It is always an interesting speculation for us on this side of the House, when a Bill of this character is being discussed, which of the speakers on the opposite side is going to end up with a safe job on the new board or commission that is being established, and it is of particular interest to see which of them toadies most to the Minister.

Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke)

It is not usual for allegations of that kind to be made in this House.

Major Cecil Poole (Lichfield)

On a point of Order. Is it in Order to suggest that Members on this side of the House are toadying to a Minister in order to get appointments under machinery to be established?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)

A general statement of that kind is not out of Order, but it may be undesirable.

Mr. Gallacher

What can one expect from a Tory capitalist?

Sir W. Darling

Is it not the case that the Government are making—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Is the hon. Gentleman putting a point of Order?

Sir W. Darling

No, Sir.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Then the hon. Gentleman is out of Order. He has not been called.

Sir W. Darling

Will the hon. Gentleman allow me?

Mr. Erroll

On a point of Order. May I not give way to the hon. Gentleman in this matter?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

It is not for the Chair to direct an hon. Member when to sit down, unless he is out of Order.

Sir W. Darling

Will the hon. Gentleman allow me? I was going to ask him, if he is to make clear that, if the schemes under this Bill are to be satisfactory, the Government must have in mind certain gentlemen of experience whom they are to appoint to the administration?

Mr. Brook


Mr. Erroll

I cannot give way any further on this matter. I think it was undesirable to make the statement I did make, but it is equally undesirable for hon. Members opposite to make the imputation, which is quite unfounded, that we are out to protect a vested interest.

Mr. Gallacher

The hon. Member will never get anybody to believe that.

Sir W. Darling

Nor has the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) much hope.

Mr. Erroll

I shall not make a point of Order out of the question whether the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) is entitled to say that or not. I want to come now to the important question, which is the main feature around which the discussion is arising, and that is the question of stability of prices. I think that that is an ideal at which we all want to aim on both sides of the House. I do not think that the ideal is in question at all. It is a question of whether we can achieve it or not. When hon. Members opposite talk about the stability of prices, or stable cotton prices, they never say whether they are referring to domestic prices or to world prices. I see little advantage for this country if we maintain a stable price here and world prices are fluctuating; because then we get the worst of both worlds. Our manufacturers, spinners and weavers would, thereby, be handicapped by a relatively rigid price structure, while our competitors would have all the benefits of a fluid situation, of which the astute ones amongst them would take advantage.

It is easy to argue the case on the basis of a rising market. The one thing which was clear from the torrent of words uttered by the hon. Member for Accrington (Mr. Scott-Elliot) was that the future is very uncertain, even to a person with considerable experience of one branch of the cotton merchanting business. What we on this side of the House are alarmed about is that the Cotton Commission is going into action with prices at their upper level and is altogether unprepared for the storm and the tempests of falling prices. I thought it was particularly interesting to see how rigid was the cotton cover scheme outlined by the Secretary for Overseas Trade. He elaborated a rather cumbersome system of material returns, of raw cotton holdings and yarn sales; he pointed out that, in order to change prices, or whenever the price was changed, compensatory payments had to be made, either to the Control—or to the Commission in the future—or to the spinner. He did not, however, deal with a very important point in selling, that is, before the sale is made. What about the stocks of yarn which, in normal circumstances, the spinner will maintain? These, I think, are not covered by the cover scheme at present. Of course, it does not matter at present, because he probably sells everything as soon as he has produced it, if he has not sold it before he has produced it. But, in normal conditions, the cover scheme is going to leave stocks completely uncovered; and when we come—as we all hope we shall come—to tender in response to inquiries, there will be the very dangerous period when the tender is out on offer and a reply has not been received as to whether it is accepted or not. During that time world prices of raw cotton may fluctuate considerably, and the unfortunate spinner will be entirely uncovered. We should very much like to have assurances on those points.

As to some of the methods of the control which arc going to be taken over by the Commission, the Secretary for Overseas Trade was at his best, I thought, when he was suggesting that the scheme was going to copy the methods of the multiple stores, of the large-scale bulk buyer. But, with the cleverness for which I respect him, he left out the essential point of difference, that the Commission is to be a monopoly, whereas the multiple stores achieve their efficiencies and economies in the face of the severest competition from each other. If this Cotton Commission is to be so very good, if it is really going to be all that it is made out to be, why is it necessary to prevent so many merchants from setting up in business in competition with the Commission? Why is the Bill littered with penal Clauses? Why should there be so many penalties for doing things which should not harm or injure the Commission? If the Commission is able to do things so much better than the private merchants, surely no private profiteer would think of entering the field. All those penalties should be entirely unnecessary. The provision of so many penal Clauses just serves to show what a very weak case the Government have got.

Bulk buying was also referred to by the hon. Member for Accrington. It is interesting to note the price which the benevolent control, and the presumably equally benevolent Commission, charge to the buyers compared with the price they pay to the growers. In 1943–44 they were buying at 8½d. a pound f.o.b. Mombasa or East African port, and they were charging the spinners practically 1s. 2½d. It is impossible to believe that the difference between the buying and selling prices was entirely taken up by freight charges between Mombasa and this country. It is quite obvious that if free trading were to be permitted between East Africa and this country by independent merchants, they would be able to operate on very much smaller margins than the Cotton Control. It is a clear case of the type of undesirable monopoly trading which, I admit, has been practised by some large companies in Africa wherever they have had a monopoly in any particular territory, and which will now been practised by the Commission.

Mr. Scott-Elliot

Does the hon. Member not realise that if the Commission is buying as a Government agent it will be able to guarantee in advance a price which will be satisfactory to the grower and, at the same time, will enable us to get cotton at a reasonable price, indeed, at a lower price than we might be able to buy it by any other method?

Mr. Erroll

Only at the expense of the taxpayer. What is happening is that the Government are taking a very big whack of profit out of the sale of this cotton and offering a very low stable price. If I was a grower I would much rather have a fluctuating price—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"] Yes with the prospect of a high price instead of the prospect of a perpetually low starvation price, which is what the East African grower is getting today, and which is to be perpetuated by the activities of this Commission.

I should like now to deal with the more sinister aspect of the Commission as out lined by my right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr Lyttelton). It is quite clear from the extraordinarily flimsy case put forward by the Secretary for Overseas Trade that this Bill is not one which can stand on its own merits. It is put forward with an ulterior motive. If the Government have a good case, why is it that they have consistently refused to discuss the Commission, its system and its methods with members of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange? Why have they refused to answer the case put forward by the Liverpool Cotton Exchange? Why have they turned a deaf ear to all the telegrams of protest from other countries in the world? Why have they remained so obstinately silent on the whole matter? If they have a good case, let it be stated, and we can then discuss it. We on this side of the House believe it to be a thoroughly bad case. It is obvious that, while there is nominal freedom for the spinners, in actual fact they will be in future entirely subservient to the Commission. The Commission, since it is empowered to do so by the Bill, will be able to withhold raw cotton supplies from any spinner who may be so independently, minded as to keep his mill open against the whim of some official in Whitehall. The Commission may withhold cotton from the spinner who wants to try and make his machines last a little longer, or who may perhaps be having difficulties with his labour

The Commission will exercise an altogether disproportionate amount of power over the whole of the industry, and we deplore the concentration of power in the hands of Commissioners all of whom are to be appointees of the Board of Trade, which in turn is known to have extreme views on the reorganisation of this industry. I know that the stock answer will be that these will be good and benevolent men, and that the Comission will only operate for the general good and benefit of the industry, but it is significant that nowhere in the Bill is the Lancashire cotton industry mentioned. There is a vague blanket phrase about the public interest, but precious little is said in favour of the Lancashire cotton industry. It was particularly noticeable in the speech of the Secretary for Overseas Trade that he referred at great length to taking care of the producers' interests, but said very little about the spinners' interests, except to make the wholly unwarrantable allegation that every spinner was more or less in the pocket of a cotton merchant in Liverpool. That we know to be a complete fabrication, and if the hon. Gentleman is as wide of the mark on other matters as he is on that it is scarcely surprising that we have listened to a very threadbare argument this afternoon.

In conclusion, therefore, I would like to point out that we on this side of the House do not consider that the case has been made. No proper statement has been put forward to show why the efficient Liverpool Cotton Exchange should be replaced by this strange Commission, which is obviously inspired by an ulterior motive.

6.36 p.m

Mrs. Braddock (Liverpool, Exchange)

I do not intend to follow the questions raised on the other side about the fluctuations of prices To me the question seems to be, Which is the most efficient method of keeping the cotton spinners in Lancashire, and elsewhere where spinning is done supplied with the necessary cotton, in order that we can revive our trade both nationally and internationally? I have lived in the Liverpool area for the whole of my life. The Cotton Exchange has always been, in the opinion of the working classes in Liverpool, a parasitic organisation. I believe it is true to say that in spite of the fact that many millions of pounds have changed hands through the Liverpool Cotton Exchange, not a bale of cotton has ever found its way inside the Exchange at all. It is quite well known that such a thing has never been seen inside the Cotton Exchange. There are no facilities for bales of cotton inside the palatial building of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. There is plenty of accommodation for offices, plenty of accommodation for those speculative people who buy cotton and never see the cotton they buy—there is any amount of organisation of that sort, but nothing about the question of keeping the Lancashire cotton industry supplied with the cotton it requires.

I think it is time the Opposition realised that there has been a complete change of Government, and a complete change in the requirements of the people of this country. The present Government were returned to make alterations in the methods of trading, which have hitherto always been to the benefit of those who lived in luxury and to the detriment of those who had to work for the people who lived in luxury. The Government were returned because of that position, and in my opinion they have been far too kind to the people from whom they have taken businesses. If I had my way, and if the Government had been following the policy which I believe in, those people who have lived in luxury on the backs of the workers in every industry for so long, should now be made to work for their living, instead of being given compensation for what they have got by exploitation out of the working classes of this country. As regards cotton, the position is exactly the same. The Liverpool Cotton Exchange has existed for a long time.

Reference was made to the fact that only £300 had to be put down to become a member of the Liverpool Cotton Association, but that was qualified by the fact that a man had to have a backing of £10,000 before being selected. No amount of argument and quibbling from hon. Members opposite will make me believe that this Government cannot very completely alter the situation, and make the purchase of cotton something of use to the cotton spinners. I think that the Govern- ment have taken entirely the right line in refusing to reopen something which would close down at the commencement of hostilities

I was concerned in my previous speech on this question about some of the employees of the Cotton Association, and I am still very much concerned about these men of 45 to 60 years of age who will find it very difficult to find alternative employment. The difficulty in paying compensation to these people is finding out exactly how much they have lost, because in most of the firms their interests are not confined solely to speculation and purchase of cotton; firms are mixed up with speculations in other things, and very few of them are dependent entirely upon speculation in cotton. Because I was concerned about this matter, and the Government made a promise in the last Debate that they would meet a deputation of these people who might lose their jobs, a deputation was received by the Secretary of State for Overseas Trade. That deputation lasted longer than any deputation I have known to a Government Department. The Secretary for Overseas Trade gave two and a half hours of his time to going into details about these people in the Cotton Association who were to be deprived of their livelihood. Following the deputation, they were invited to submit to the Board of Trade a questionnaire, containing those points on which they required specific written replies. I have here the 30 questions submitted by the Liverpool Cotton Employees Association, requesting information on how they were to be affected when the new Commission was set up. I could not possibly quote all these questions and answers, but I am certain that any hon. Member who is particularly interested can obtain copy for himself. At the deputation, the Employees' Association asked whether there would be freedom for spinners to use cotton firms in Liverpool for selecting and testing cotton. The position is that they are allowed a small percentage, and they are asking whether they would be free to do this. They were given a reply in writing. This is Question 5: Will the buying broker buy the requirements of raw cotton for spinners after 30th September, 1946? The reply is: Spinners will be free to decide for themselves both now and after the formation of the Commission. The next question was: When will facilities be afforded to the buying brokers to enable them to render to the spinners those services normally provided by them, and thus meriting the customary commission of half per cent. The reply is: It is primarily a question of suitable storage space in sufficient quantity The position has been improving, and it should be possible to start providing the facilities well before the end of the year.

Mr. W. Fletcher

Does the answer show whether the half per cent. will be paid?

Mrs. Braddock

is not that a matter for the spinners, and not a matter for the Commission? If the spinners decide to use the services of the brokers, I suppose that they will pay half per cent. in the same way as in the past This question asks whether the facilities will be there, and the reply of the Board of Trade is that they will. They also ask: Will all growths of cotton be available for buying brokers to supply to spinners? The answer is: All growths of cotton will be available to spinners, either through buying brokers or direct if they so desire These questions appertain to the general situation, and I could not attempt to read them all. Another question asks: Will the Commission control the raw cotton section of the trade only? The Board of Trade reply: There is no intention that the Commission should control the spinning and weaving sections of the trade. Other questions and answers are: Will the Commission absorb the Cotton Control?— The Commission will take over the functions, but not necessarily all staff of the raw cotton sections. Will the Commission supply spinners direct, or will they make use of the Liverpool and Manchester buying brokers?— The intention is that spinners should decide themselves. What total staffs will the Commission employ?— Probably about 200 to 250. All sorts of outrageous estimates have been made in Liverpool, by various people who professed to know, about the number of people who will be out of employment as a result of the change-over from the Cotton Exchange to the Cotton Commission. The facts given, not by the Board of Trade but by the Association, indicate what the position is at the moment, because one of the questions is— Does the Government realise that the incidence of control and wartime methods has reduced the personnel of the Liverpool Market from 2,500 approximately to about 350? I would emphasise that the figure of 2,500 is not given by some political organisation, but by the cotton employees organisation. I think we can take it, therefore, that the maximum number employed was 2,500, and that the figure has been reduced approximately to 350

Mr. Marples (Wallasey)

What about the employees who are not members of the Association and of whom there are large numbers?

Mrs. Braddock

The Cotton Association say that there are not large numbers. They say that they are the responsible body, and that practically everyone is inside the organisation of the Cotton Association. These are not my statements, but theirs. They give us the figure about which everyone has been very speculative—ranging from 7,500 down to 3,500—and the figure given is 2,500, which has been reduced to 350. If the Cotton Control Organisation are to employ up to 250 of them in the first instance, I fail to understand all this shouting about thousands of people being unemployed in Liverpool because of the closing down of the Cotton Exchange. I think that the figures given by the association reveal the exact position in relation to employment

Sir W. Darling

The figures are in hundreds and not thousands.

Mrs. Braddock

Taking the figure of 2,500, the reduction to 350, and the statement of the Board of Trade that they will employ up to 250, that leaves us with a very small number indeed. Even if it is a small number, I feel that if it can be proved by the individuals concerned that they will suffer by the change-over, then the Board of Trade ought seriously to consider the position. I am certain that no Member of this Government and no member of the working classes would like to feel that a man of 45, who wisely or unwisely felt that he ought to go into some form of employment giving him an easy and permanent security—something the working class never gets—should be unemployed at that age when it is very difficult indeed for a man to reorganise his life and find employment of the sort he can undertake. There should not be many of these people, but so long as the Government have established compensation, with which I personally disagree, I think they ought to extend it to all those who can prove that they have been put out of employment and their livelihood has completely gone because of the change-over in organisation.

Those who support me in the Liverpool area are very pleased indeed that the Government have had the courage completely to change over the organisation, and take it out of the control of those who are regarded by the workers in Liverpool as nothing but parasites living on the backs of the workers. The working people are completely satisfied that the Government have done the right thing by the change-over to the Control Commission to deal with all questions relating to cotton. Finally, I shall give the fullest possible support to the Board of Trade on this Bill, knowing that, so far as Liverpool is concerned, it will improve the possibility of permanent employment, and that it is an attempt to do away with casual labour from which Liverpool has suffered under past Governments.

6.55 p.m.

Mr. William Shepherd (Bucklow)

I think that the speech of the hon. Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mrs. Braddock) has been most refreshing. Hon. Members who have spoken from the opposite benches have gone into deep and involved arguments to try to sustain this feeble Bill The forthrightness of the hon. Lady, I found most fascinating. I do not think that she reached the standard of her previous speeches, when she said that she was against the Liverpool Cotton Exchange, for the reason that no past President had ever died in the workhouse. Whether dying in the workhouse is a qualification in industry is something that I am not here to explain, but certainly this is not the view held by the President of the Board of Trade. I would remind some hon. Members opposite, when they say "Why not consider the views of the workers on this issue and not of the employers?" that the President of the Board of Trade has already said that the workers are not suited to control industry Therefore, it would be most unreasonable if back bench Members on the other side were to seek to refute the suggestion put forward by one who sits on their own Front Bench.

The point raised by the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Brook) was, I think, a bad-one He said that we had to be very careful to see that the members put on this Control Commission had not a personal interest in the industry. That maxim was not carried out very well during the war. That is the real dilemma: If one gets people who know the industry, they probably have some personal interest in it, while those who have not such an interest do not usually know anything about the industry

I am interested in this matter because many of my constituents have earned their livelihood in the past through the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. Now they are to be discounted entirely by the Government. Lavish promises to the workers came from hon. Members opposite on the election platform, but when the interests of the workers clash with the political interests of the Government, they do not observe the interests of the workers. They are not observing the interests of the workers in connection with this Bill. They did not observe the interests of the workers in connection with the nationalisation of Cable and Wireless. Only when the workers' interests do not clash with the Government's own political interests, do they pay any attention to them.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that those of his constituents who are put out of a job as a result of the closing down of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange, will be able to go on the employment exchange, and get 24s. 6d a week? If he does not think that is enough and will fight for more, I will fight with him.

Mr. Shepherd

I have no doubt that if some of my constituents had to go to the employment exchange, that would afford some satisfaction to the hon Gentlemen opposite, but I see no reason why my constituents should have to go to the employment exchange. I suggest that if the policy of nationalisation is not to be pursued in connection with the manufacturing side of this industry, it should have been lett to the industry to obtain its material in the way it thought fit. There is no reason, as far as I can see, why the Government should impose on this industry the means by which it is to buy its material. Bulk buying has been commended by the Secretary for Overseas Trade. He made a great song about the virtue of chain companies. But is it not a fact that no one likes buying from a monopoly? If we are manufacturers, we wish to select our materials from those who serve us best. Surely these are not facts which even the Secretary for Overseas Trade would like to deny. May I ask the President of the Board of Trade to tell us who really wants this Measure? Certainly the merchants do not want it; the spinners do not want it, and no large body of people in the world want it. There is no wide clamour among the electors for this Bill. But there are some people who want it. The merchants in New York want it; the merchants in Ghent and the merchants in Rotterdam want it, because they are going to take out of the mouths of the people of this country the food which they previously had, as a consequence of operating this business.

No one has put forward from the opposite side so far—and I hope the President of the Board of Trade will be more successful—anything to show how this Bill is to provide raw cotton for the spinners of Lancashire, at a price as low as or lower than the world price. If this Bill does not do that, it fails entirely in its purpose. It is no use having stability of price which is above the world level. That is easy to get. Any fool could arrange a scheme whereby a price was permanently provided which was above the world level. What the Government have to do, in this case, is to say—which has not been done so far—how this system is to provide all the cotton for the spinners at or below the prevailing world price. If it fails to do that, it will place a harsh handicap on the spinners of Lancashire.

One hon. Member went so far as to suggest that there was a rumour—after all this elaborate Bill and the setting up of this elaborate Commission—thai it might be possible for the Government to provide some extra piece of machinery so that people could buy cotton at the world price or below it. Has there ever been a greater example of stupidity? Are we to establish all this organisation at the expense of the public to do something which was done automatically by normal processes? There may have been —and I admit it—an excess in the operation of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange, but other organisations of a similar character, including the London Stock Exchange, have dealt with the evils within their organisations, and if the Government wanted to wipe out this evil surely it could have adopted the commonsense view and caused the Liverpool Cotton Exchange to deal with whatever evil was supposed to exist within it. I think that the answer is that no pursuit of reason is aimed at here; it is merely political prejudice.

The only other point which I wish to raise is that the spinner wants, first, prices at or below the world level and, secondly, the grade which is suitable to him. I cannot emphasise this too much, because, more and more, the future of the Lancashire cotton industry will depend on getting specialised trade; and, therefore, the ability to buy the precise grade will be of even greater importance in the future than it has been in the past. Only a person devoid of any business experience—and that includes nearly all the Members on the Treasury Bench opposite —would suggest, for one moment, that a single monopoly organisation is the best means of getting the selective material required. The best means of getting what one requires in this way is to be able to go to someone else if the person who supplies It is not prepared to sell. That is the greatest guarantee that one will get what one wants. I say that this Measure is designed to take away from the spinners of Lancashire the pressure which they could exert to get what they want. Instead, they will be told, "This is what you will have, and if you do not want it, send a complaint to the controller." The controller, being the man who is selling it, will be interested in keeping up his side of the bargain, and in supporting his own officials.

I cannot see anything of merit in this Bill. It will do a great disservice to this country, because we are, admittedly, in the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, throwing away at least £1,000,000 of foreign exchange through this Measure. It is not merely a nationalisation Measure to supplant industry by public control. It is throwing away something, and omitting to put anything in its place. The banking business which this country and Liverpool had as a consequence of the free market is to be lost entirely. It is foreign exchange which we need at the present time more than any- thing else. It is important that we should get foreign exchange which does not involve the purchase of raw material. Our invisible exports today are more valuable to us than our visible exports, yet this Government, at a most difficult time in the country's history, are introducing a Bill which is of no value to the spinners, which will impose hardships in the Lancashire industry, and, at the same time, rob us of the means by which we could buy food for our own people. Such action at such a time is criminal, and only the blinding necessity of political objectives could cause any Government to take the action which this Government are taking today.

7.6 p.m

Mr. Edward Porter (Warrington)

I come from the largest cotton and weaving centre in the world, Blackburn, in which I have lived for many years, and where I spent many of my younger days as a cotton operative. I want to make the regrettable claim that because of the operations of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange we have had more ups and downs and more soup kitchens in the cotton industry than in any other industry. Today, 250,000 cotton operatives are to commence a five-day week. This is the second reduction in hours in just under 100 years Because of the operations of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange we have had long periods of unemployment. We have had cotton operatives, married men and women, standing with two looms for 55 hours a week, and going home with the miserable wage of 18s. to £1. They were not entitled to unemployment benefit, because they were occupied for more than three days a week. If they were able to give up their employment because they were not earning sufficient, they were prevented from receiving unemployment benefit. Circulars were sent to other industries asking them not to find employment for these people, but to see that they were tied to the cotton industry.

Mr. Osborne

Does the hon. Gentleman blame the Liverpool Cotton Exchange for all the troubles of the cotton industry during the last 50 years?

Mr. Porter

I claim that much of that trouble was due, in the main, to gambling by the Liverpool Cotton Exchange, and to Conservative policy when the Conservatives were trying to run the cotton industry in Lancashire In Lancashire there have been many people who have speculated on the Liverpool Cotton Exchange and who have found themselves in a bankruptcy court. In Oldham, when a case was being tried there, the Official Receiver is reported to have made this statement: Mr. Mellor's bankruptcy has been brought about, or contributed to, by rash speculations and by gambling. Mr. Brierley denied his client Mellor had gambled, and said he did not deal with horse-racing, or dogs, or things of that sort. The Judge: I know, but what difference is there between gambling on the stock exchange and dog racing?'

Mr. Marples

May I take it that the hon. Member advocates the abolition of greyhound tracks as well?

Mr. Porter

If the hon. Member is asking for my private opinion, and as he is a supporter of the Chelsea Football Club, I say, "Yes."

I want now to refer to the Liverpool Cotton Exchange to show how patriotic they were in 1939. At the outbreak of the war, Liverpool stocks were dangerously low because the market was waiting for the new crop, and it feared a fall in price. The quotation of 600,000 bales of American cotton acquired by the Government under the barter agreement with the United States was delayed for several months, first, by the operation of the Liverpool and Manchester cotton importers, because of what they regarded as an unwarrantable trespass on their territory, and secondly, by their insistence that freights should be provided for commercial cotton before Government cotton. Neither the industry nor the country can afford a repetition of such an incident.

Mr. Stanley Prescott (Darwen)

Will the hon. Member tell us from what he was quoting?

Mr. Porter

I was quoting from today's "Manchester Guardian." In Blackburn, in 1914, there were 140 cotton mills; in 1946, up to last Saturday dinner time, 53 were running. In Oldham, since 1928, 200 cotton mills have gone out of existence. In Darwen, represented in the House by the hon. Member who has just interrupted me, there were, in 1920, 65 cotton spinning mills, employing 12,000 operatives. In 1937, 30 mills were demolished, and four were stopped with the machinery intact. In 1937 28 mills were running and up to Saturday last, only 15 mills were running, employing 3,000 cotton operatives. The cotton trade union of Darwen had a meeting in September last at which the hon. Member for Darwen (Mr. Prescott) was present. They made it quite plain to him that they were supporting the Government in keeping closed for ever the Liverpool Cotton Exchange for the benefit of the cotton operatives of Darwen.

Mr. Prescott

It is true that I had a meeting with the cotton operatives in Darwen, since I always try to maintain the closest contact with my constituents, but as far as my knowledge and recollection go, no reference was made to the future of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange, and I did not express views such as the hon. Member has just mentioned.

Mr. Porter

I am not accustomed to make statements that cannot be substantiated to the full, and after having a conference with the secretary to the Darwen weavers last Saturday, I asked him to be kind enough to put it into writing. This is a letter from a place which the hon. Member knows very well, the offices of the Darwen Weavers, Winders, and Warpers Association, and I will quote one point from it so that the hon. Gentleman's memory will be jogged a bit: The Darwen Textiles Trades Federation held a meeting with Mr. Prescott, the Member of Parliament for this Division, during September of this year, and he is aware of our attitude towards the policy in connection with the cotton textile industry. They approved the action of the Government in closing the Liverpool Cotton Exchange, and supported the Government in its policy of bulk buying and control of raw materials. The Controller of the cotton industry in Lancashire, Mr. Lacey, was speaking in Manchester on 4th November, and after he had made his speech, one of the leading men in the Lancashire cotton industry, Sir Frank Platt, the managing director of the Lancashire Cotton Corporation, said he thought that the cotton control was the most efficient control in this country. I ask hon. Members opposite to think on that. All the speeches that have been made from the benches opposite today have been made from the point of view of the employers or the Liverpool Cotton Exchange.

I would remind hon. Members opposite that there is no other industry in this country which is as highly organised in trade unions as the cotton industry. If the trade unions in the cotton industry thought for one moment that, by keeping the Liverpool Cotton Exchange open in any shape or form, they would help the industry, they would be the first to raise their voices, and if hon. Members on this side of the House refused to take any notice of them, they would ask for the assistance of the Trades Union Congress to back them up. It is rather peculiar that there is not a single trade union among the Lancashire cotton trade unions that has in any way offered any support to the keeping open of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. I heard a whisper that one trade union branch had done so. I wrote to the chief official of the Amalgamated Weavers' Association, asking him for the name of the organisation that had agreed that the Liverpool Cotton Exchange should be open. This is the letter, dated 16th November, which I received from the general secretary: My dear Ted, I have your letter of 14th November, and I hasten to inform you that I know of no cotton trade union that is in favour of the re-opening of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. I am surprised at the question, as I have not heard the matter being discussed for some time, and if anyone suggested the re-opening he would be in grave danger of his life. I want to repeat that anyone who has lived in a Lancashire cotton town must be aware of the unmerciful punishment of the people through bad management of the cotton industry in its various branches. Many of our mills will never re-open, and many of them in operation now are slums. It is because of my respect for the cotton operative, with whom I have been brought up, that I sincerely hope the Government will pass this Bill, because we believe that as far as the future is concerned, it will be a jolly good thing for the operative and for the cotton industry in Lancashire.

7.22 p.m.

Sir John Barlow (Eddisbury)

In accordance with the custom of this House I should like to refer to my small interest in the cotton industry as I have been an exporter of cloth for many many years. I was also the first Deputy Chairman of the Cotton Board which was formed in 1940. Some of the views we have heard expressed from the opposite benches frankly have astonished me, such as those from the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Porter), who, one would assume and presume, would know a very great deal about the cotton industry. He told us about the appalling conditions in the slump of 1930, and to my astonishment he attributed that to speculation in raw cotton. To me that statement is most extraordinary.

In the early thirties I was travelling in the Far East, and at Shanghai I visited certain cotton mills, both spinning and weaving. The workpeople received from 9d. to 10d. a day, usually for a 12-hour day. The mills were running two shifts, and the machinery was all secondhand machinery which had been exported. It seems to me extraordinary that despite those conditions and the wages being paid there, plus a reasonable measure of efficiency that existed, the workers of this country could for one moment believe that the slump was due to speculation in raw cotton or to the Liverpool Exchange. The same hon. Member also referred to the great shortage of cotton in this country when the war began, and how long it took to build up those stocks. I wonder if he is aware that strong representations were made from the trade in Manchester in 1938 and again in 1939 in order that more supplies of cotton should be bought. It will be remembered that at that time the price of cotton varied from 4½d. to 6d. a pound. Very large quantities of cotton could have been bought, and the Board of Trade were urged to buy them but it did not do so until a later date and long after it was recommended to do so by various sections of the trade.

I should like to refer to one other extraordinary statement made by the hon. Lady the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mrs. Braddock). I heard with some interest her speech on this, subject in March of this year I am sorry that at the moment she is not in her place, although I gave her notice that I would probably refer to that speech. At that time she said: In regard to the international aspect of buying cotton, it is bought in Egypt and sent to America and is never seen here at all. Nobody here ever sees it. It is dealt with only on the basis of samples. That is international trade—but capitalist international trade."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th March, 1946; Vol. 421, c. 628 629.] It astonished me to hear that statement by any Member from Liverpool. Does not the hon. Lady know that it is business of that kind which is so valuable in bringing invisible exports to this country? That cotton is probably negotiated through a Liverpool office; it is bought by wire in Egypt, and then is shipped, as she rightly says, to America and elsewhere. The insurance on that is almost certainly done in this country, as is the financing of it Profit is made on the transaction in addition to which the cotton is probably transferred in British ships. These four different items—and there are other smaller contributory items—tend to build up our great invisible exports. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer was discussing the subject in the Debate in March he admitted that this loss in invisible exports of that kind was at least £1 million. He probably realised how unfortunate it was to lose such valuable exports. Here is a Member for a most important Liverpool division decrying such business Frankly I was astonished to hear it. One can assume a certain measure of knowledge from people coming from certain districts, but when such statements are suddenly thrown about one really wonders where one can begin argument and whether there is any reasonable knowledge at all.

It seems to me that this Bill will provide much more capita! than would be necessary under similar circumstances if it were handled by the trade. It would seem that the Government may want to build up very large stocks in this country, in which case that will be most expensive, especially at present world prices. No mention is made of the interest that is to be charged. Regarding the £25 million which is to be made over to the Commission out of the existing accumulated profits, I shall be very interested if the President of the Board of Trade can tell us how that money was accumulated. Was it accumulated after paying all taxation such as would be paid by private individuals? Is it a net profit without deduction of any such taxation? If so, I suggest that the British taxpayer is already subsidising very substantially this business.

I should like to make one reference to gambling and speculation. I know that it is bitterly criticised by large sections of the community as being one of the major troubles of the business. I cannot quote exact figures, but I believe it is grossly exaggerated. I myself hold no brief for outside speculation. I think it is a bad thing for any industry, and it does not contribute any benefit towards that industry. I understand, however, that the Liverpool Cotton Exchange put forward methods for eliminating outside speculation, but the Government took comparatively little notice of that. In my opinion, the amount of speculation is relatively small, which is also the opinion of people who know much more about this than I do.

In setting up a Commission to handle cotton the Board of Trade are taking very great powers which, I suggest, may develop into a boomerang. They have great powers of appointment and of giving instructions to the Commission as to what it shall and shall not do, and I think that at times that may be a cause of considerable embarrassment to the Board of Trade when they are held directly responsible. I can visualise conditions arising in America or in Egypt when the buying of cotton becomes political and not commercial. That will not only be bad for the business community of this country, but may influence the Government in a most unfortunate way, and in the past it has always been found infinitely better to divorce political and commercial subjects as far as possible. Sometimes they have to come together, but it is best that they should do so as little as possible.

I believe that this Bill will not contribute substantially to helping to re-establish the cotton industry in Lancashire and our exports abroad. The Liverpool Cotton Market was built up over a long period of years to become the acknowledged leader of world cotton prices and of the markets of the whole world. It was a highly centralised nerve centre which, at a stroke of the brush, is being taken away. That will upset the nerve centres of cotton in other countries. Personally, I deplore it and think that it is a very bad thing. I only hope that the Government realise the lengths to which this action may take them in the future It may prove embarrassing in different ways I and my colleagues on this bench think this experiment a most dangerous one. It is built up in theory and not in practice, which is always an extremely dangerous basis for starting innovations in this country, and for this reason I shall oppose the Bill tonight.

7.32 p.m

Mr. Emrys Roberts (Merioneth)

I have considered this Bill in a most detached spirit. Neither I nor my colleagues on this bench have any interests in this industry, nor, unfortunately, do we represent a constituency affected by this Bill. We therefore come to the proposal in a spirit of some independence and detachment.

I have been unable to refrain from remarking to myself during this Debate that we have heard it all before. We have heard the familiar arguments advanced from both sides, and in the months that have intervened I cannot help feeling that it was for the Government to prove their case in a manner which they have not done This is a substantial transition from a system of free organised markets—adjusting the perpetual equilibrium of the relation between supply and demand—to a State monopoly. That is not a transition to be made lightly, whatever its merits. This is the first example of a prolongation of wartime experience into the times of peace, and I cannot help thinking that a responsible Government would, in those intervening months, have published a White Paper or conducted an inquiry so as to make the reasons for the change clear to everyone. Quite frankly, one cannot tell whether this will be a good or a bad thing, but as, I hope, a responsible Member of this House I am bound to say that unless the case is proved I must cast my vote against the Bill, in company with my colleagues

After all, £210 million of public money is to be entrusted by the State to this Cotton Commission, and to endorse the setting up of this monopoly with all that public money, and perhaps further public money from year to year, without knowing exactly how it is to function, is a considerable responsibility to assume. I should have liked to have heard more about the invisible exports which the Liverpool Cotton Exchange brought to this country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer put them at £1 million: they may be more or they may be less, but these are not matters to be dealt with purely in the realm of speculation. Another matter about which I should have liked to have heard is compensation for those engaged in the industry. Those who have been earning their living in an undertaking which—whether we consider that it has done harm to the economy of the nation or not—has hitherto been considered a legitimate occupation, should be given compensation if they are displaced.

Mr. Murray (Spennymoor)

Does that imply workers as well?

Mr. Emrys Roberts

Yes, of course it does.

Mr. Murray

Coming from those benches, that is a new doctrine to the miners.

Mr. Emrys Roberts

It is not new from this bench. I do not want to draw a line, but I maintain that compensation Should be paid to all those working or engaged in the industry—the operative and the man in business on his own account, whether a small man or a big man. There is nothing in this Bill about that. It is a precedent for Parliament, in the exercise of its sovereign powers, to take away a man's livelihood without giving him compensation, and I think it is a very bad system. Again, we should have had ample reasons to justify this. I should also like to see worked out the relation of bulk purchase to the Bretton Woods Agreement. This is a point which we on this bench put forward in the last Debate, but, like so many others, it was not answered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I hope that it may be dealt with by whoever answers for the Government tonight. State trading may or may not vitiate the delicate working of the Bretton Woods Agreement, and I want to know how it is going to enter into our relations with the United States. I think that that is a matter which should be thoroughly dealt with by the Government when replying. Hitherto, it has been another of those matters about which a lot of mystery hangs.

As I have said, the commercial side of this matter is not one which excites passion or feeling on this bench. We approach it in an impartial spirit, and we want to know what is best for the whole community—not merely for those engaged in the industry, but for Britain as a whole. The arguments advanced are scanty. The hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. E. Porter) made a most moving speech in which he described the unfortunate conditions of the cotton operatives. If I thought that the Liverpool Cotton Exchange had contributed to or caused the misery of those operatives I would gladly see it closed. But that has not been proved, and in the absence of massive substantial evidence about the way it has worked, and about all these matters, I feel, as do my colleagues, that we are throwing away a great part of the commercial inheritance that has been built up merely as a concession to purely doctrinaire considerations.

7.40 p.m.

Wing-Commander Shackleton (Preston)

The hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. Emrys Roberts) was right in saying that there is a good deal of repetition in this Debate of the Debate which took place last March. His speech was very much the same. He even asked the same questions. He appears to have been happy enough to wait nine months for an answer.

Mr. Emrys Roberts

The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not answer them.

Wing-Commander Shackleton

I am surprised the hon. Member considers the questions of such importance that he should ask them again after waiting nine months.

Mr. Emrys Roberts

We shall probably have to wait four years for the answer.

Wing-Commander Shackleton

Apparently, the impartial intervention by the hon. Member is the same sort of intervention that we had in the last Debate. It shows one thing at least, that he, in common with a large number of other speakers, has not bothered to find out the facts which are available on the subject of speculation and other matters that have been discussed. I do not agree altogether with the views of the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. E. Porter). I do not attribute the disaster which overtook so many workers in the Lancashire cotton industry entirely to the operations of the Liverpool Cotton Market. That is to be admitted. It is fair that that should be admitted, but it had a considerable part in it. The activities of other people concerned in the cotton industry and responsible for running it were also to blame.

We must admit that the Liverpool Cotton Exchange in the past has played an essential part in the building up of the economy of this country. That point is one which we should admit. In the days of capitalist expansion in the 19th century there was no other machinery which could provide an effective means for the supply and the procurement of cotton, and which could provide some measure of security, in the sense that it was possible to hedge against a change in the market price. Nevertheless, it is equally true that there was a certain amount of unnecessary speculation and that there were even occasional attempts to corner the end of the season futures market. No hon. Member from the opposite benches has suggested that it was possible to obtain complete cover. I am glad that they have not attempted to suggest that. One of the biggest differences between the effect of the Bill and a return to the old system, is that the spinner is now completely covered against fluctuations in the price of cotton in other parts of the world. [AN HON. MEMBER: "He does not like it." I notice the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) opposite. As in the March Debate, he is probably saving his thunder for the very end. He knows a very great deal about this, and I hope he will admit that—

Mr. W. Fletcher

Would the hon. and gallant Member be more specific so that, if I should be called, I may know what be means when he says that cover which was not provided before will be provided now?

Wing-Commander Shackleton

I believe examples have already been provided in the Debate One was that it was not possible for spinners who wished for a growth of cotton other than one type of American cotton to obtain real protection against a change in the situation. In other words, somebody who buys Brazilian cotton is not able to get a satisfactory hedge against purely an American futures market. That point has already been made. There are other examples. If the hon. Member cares to look at them in any of the standard text books which have been written on the subject he will find many others.

The other point is that the operation of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange in the past has definitely contributed to a lack of support—this point was made by the hon. Member for Accrington (Mr. Scott-Elliot) —for the growing of cotton in other parts of the world. In those parts of the world which were not, in fact, covered by the futures market. It is of the greatest importance that we should in future do our utmost to develop the growing of cotton in parts of the world, and particularly in parts of the British Empire, where we shall not be exposed to the sort of things that have been going on in the United States recently, where speculative waves, have been enough in the opinion of Sir Frank Platt, if the Liverpool Cotton Exchange had been open, to bring about the stoppage of the cotton industry in this country entirely for a short period.

Several points have been made on the subject of sampling. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite suggest that if the Liverpool Cotton Exchange were open today it would be possible for spinners to buy by sample The fact remains, that largely owing to the refusal of the cotton merchants during the war to evacuate their cotton from Liverpool despite requests that they should do so, a large amount of warehouse space was burnt down. There is no accommodation at the moment to provide sampling facilities. Hon. Members spoke of the loss of foreign exchange.

It ought to be pointed out that the operation of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange was not only in one direction. It is not only inward but also outward, to New York. When cotton is bought c.i.f.—cost, insurance, freight, paid—it means in many cases that the merchant, the shipper from abroad who is delivering, delivers the cotton with an insurance which has been placed in a foreign market and in a foreign ship. That point should be set against the continued reiteration of the statement about the enormous amount of foreign exchange that this country is likely to lose by the closing of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange.

I do not wish to add anything more, beyond repeating that the case which was made by the Secretary for Overseas Trade was a clear and well balanced one. It was noticeable that the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) found much difficulty in producing answers to the points which the Minister had made. I very much hope that the hon. Member for Merioneth, who has stated his neutrality on this occasion, will reconsider what has been said by the Minister and that he and his friends will decide to vote against the Amendment and will support the Second Reading of the Bill.

7.48 p.m.

Mr. Stanley Prescott (Darwen)

We are concerned with two issues in this Debate. The first is that we are almost redebating the question of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. The second is whether, if unfortunately the Cotton Exchange is to be closed, the Bill before us is the best Measure that can be substituted for it. It will not be profitable at this hour to go into great detail about the merits of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange, and of the great benefits it brought to the cotton trade in Lancashire, and to Lancashire generally, that has been pointed out most forcibly by many hon. Members. I would only say that there were elements which operated on the Exchange upon occasions whose operations were to the detriment of the industry. I frankly admit that. A good case is not made better by failure to acknowledge some of its weaknesses. I maintain sincerely however that, by and large, the Liverpool Cotton Exchange was of great benefit to the industry That it is being closed down is a major tragedy, and one which I think will be regretted in the years to come.

What is being put in its place? We are to have this hybrid thing called the Raw Cotton Commission. That is a horrible name. If we are to have a Commission, why could we not have some name which would remind people throughout the world of the great Liverpool Cotton Exchange? Why could the Commission not be called the Liverpool Cotton Commission? That would be a much better name. Of course, whatever it was called it would not thereby become a better Commission. I am surprised at the composition of the Commission. There are to be some 13 members. It seems to me that Clause 5 is most peculiarly drafted. Ten of the members it calls "part-time" members.

One would, therefore, assume that the other three members were wholetime members, but not in the least. The other three are only required to devote themselves primarily to their duties as members of the Commission. We, therefore, have it that the great Liverpool Cotton Exchange is to be abolished and there is to be substituted a Commission not one of the members of which is required to devote his whole activities to the duties of the Commission. That is a most extraordinary position. I should have thought that the wholetime services of the chairman should have had to be devoted to the duties of the Commission for he is concerned not only with the purchase of raw cotton but with research, general directive powers throughout the spinning industry and other matters. I should have thought it was essential that at least one of the members of the Commission should be wholetime. We heard a great deal from hon. Gentlemen opposite about the views of the workers in the industry. I am exceedingly sorry that the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. E. Porter) is not in his place—

Mr. Murray

He is coming back.

Mr. Prescott

I hope he is. I warned him that it I caught Mr. Speaker's eye I should refer to his speech. The hon. Member for Warringcon addressed the House and in purporting to speak for the workers, he disclosed what was alleged to have taken place at a confidential meeting which I had with certain Textile Trades Federation operatives in Darwen. I think this should be stated. I have always—hon. Members will agree that this is a right policy—consulted both the employers' and employees' side on any major issues which arise in the cotton industry. Both the employers and the employees have always shown themselves willing to meet me and discuss matters, and render every possible assistance, but these meetings have been confidential. This was a confidential meeting. It was agreed that no statement should be issued to the Press. But what does one find? I find from the hon. Member's speech that the Textile Trades Federation in Darwen have written him purporting to give an account of a confidential meeting that I had with them. It is an impossible situation if a Conservative Member of Parliament has meetings with trade union officials and subsequently those trade union officials send alleged reports to Socialist Members of Parliament. What would be said if a Socialist Member consulted a manufacturing association and subsequently the manufacturing association sent an alleged report to a Conservative Member? There would be an enormous outcry. I think I was entitled to deal briefly with this point. I am distressed that there should have been what I consider a breach of confidence in that matter—

Mr. Walker (Rossendale)

Was it understood before the meeting that it should be absolutely confidential between the hon. Member and the operatives?

Mr. Prescott

I understood that it was to be entirely confidential. I had had previous meetings and they were always so treated. The hon. Member for Warrington purported to speak for Blackburn, but I always thought that the hon Lady who is one of the Members representing Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) was quite capable of speaking for Blackburn. The hon. Member for Warrington purported to speak for the operatives of Blackburn and Darwen, and Has put all the miseries they have suffered in the past 10 years or more on the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. That is gross and fantastic, and shows that the hon Member for Warrington has not the slightest idea what took place on the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. He is not alone in that; it applies equally to the hon. Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mrs. Braddock). I should like to quote from the introduction to the report of the Cotton Indus-try Working Party—

Wing-Commander Shackleton

What page?

Mr. Prescott

The introduction, page I, paragraph 2: The troubles of cotton in the inter-war years were primarily due to the impact of external shocks with which no industry, however efficient could by its own efforts have coped. One need say no more. There are many other paragraphs in this report which make it manifest that the difficulty with which the cotton industry was faced in the inter war years could not have been solved by itself, and much of the Socialist propaganda which has been put out in the past was pure political bunkum and balderdash—

Mr. Fairhurst

Does the hon Member remember a late Tory Premier who requested the cotton trade in, I think, 1926 to cut out the dead wood?

Mr. Prescott

I must confess that I am not as old as the hon. Gentleman and personally do not remember it. It may well be so, but it is no part of my case that the Lancashire cotton industry is perfect. The hon. Member can read speeches I made in the last Parliament when I attacked certain sections of the industry My case was that it was not the Liverpool Cotton Exchange which brought this disaster on the Lancashire industry [An HON. MEMBER: "Who was it?"] It was due to totally different factors. This hybrid and stupid monster which is being set up by this fatuous Bill will make things worse and not better.

I want to ask the President of the Board of Trade a question. Earlier this evening the right hon Gentleman the Minister of Health was in his place. I remember how in me last Parliament he used to inveigh against what he called agreements made outside this House, prior to the House having expressed its opinion on them. I would like to ask whether, before this Bill was drafted, this alleged Commission was hawked throughout the industry; were names selected; has the right hon and learned Gentleman already chosen, in his mind, who are going to be members of the Commission; and has the Bill been drafted round those names? I could name two or three gentlemen who, I think, may well appear as members of this Commission—

Sir S. Cripps

The hon. Member is much cleverer than I am.

Mr. Prescott

None of them has to be a wholetime member of the Commission and none of them—with two exceptions—needs to have any experience whatsoever of the cotton industry. That seems a fantastic position. I am distressed that there is no provision in the Bill for some form of compensation for those who will be most seriously affected. I press on the President of the Board of Trade the desirability of providing some form of compensation. It would be just and reasonable. I sincerely hope that this Bill will work. I very much doubt that it will. I think it will confound matters and make them worse. The spinners in Lancashire should realise that (his Bill really enables the Government to put its hands on the throat of the spinning industry. It puts the spinning industry completely at the mercy of the Government in their control of the raw material and gives it enormous general powers which it can exercise to the very great detriment of the spinning industry. It all depends how these powers are exercised, but I have not the slightest confidence that this Government will exercise them properly.

I am grateful to have been able to address the House on this Bill. I sincerely hope that this Bill will be rejected, but one knows beforehand that it will not, in view of the Government's majority. With my personal history and antecedents, I cede to no one in my desire to better the working conditions of the Lancashire people. I remember the evils that befell them in the inter-war years. The Minister is going to make a statement regarding the future of a certain part of the industry. I hope it will be beneficial. I am glad he has taken a great interest in the industry but I do not think this Bill will help in the least; in fact, I consider it will make things worse. It is nothing less than political humbug.

8.0 p.m.

Mr. Rhodes (Ashton-under-Lyne)

May I say how glad I am to see back in his place, the hon. Member for Darwen (Mr. Prescott) who, I understand, has just recovered from a rather serious illness. It is nice to see him back. There is another Member of the Opposition who is not in his place, the hon. Member for Altrin-cham (Mr. Enroll) and I am sorry at that because he made a gibe at us with regard to looking for jobs on the Cotton Buying Commission. In return, may I inform the hon. Member for Altrincham that we do not regard him as a likely competitor for any jobs with us? We regard him rather as Shakespeare's schoolboy with his "shining morning face," and I do not think there is any doubt but that he will soon be "creeping like snail unwillingly to school," after he has had his meal Because I am certain that the President of the Board of Trade will put him straight on some of the points he was particularly pressing.

With regard to the Debate in general, it has not been very constructive in that it has followed too closely the line of the previous cotton futures Debate. May I remind hon. Members that we are not debating cotton futures today; we are debating the setting up of a Cotton Centralised Buying Commission, which is a different matter altogether. May I say at this juncture that it is not a political issue or a doctrinaire issue? It is an economic necessity Whenever anyone on this side of the House has asked for suggestions as to how anything different could be done at this time, or in the years ahead, there has never been anything in the way of a constructive suggestion.

For a moment I will deal with one or two of the factors. Look at the trade in Lancashire. There were 1,000 spinning firms in 1914 Today there are 300 and, if the recommendations of the Working Party's report are implemented, as I am positive they will be before long, they could easily be down to 100 and maybe less. So what? There were 200 firms in existence in the Liverpool Cotton Market before the war. If you put back the Liverpool Cotton Exchange as it was, what would you have? You would have two firms of cotton merchants to one spinning concern. The thing is absurd. Let us have a little constructive speaking from the Opposition. Another world factor is the situation in America. I shall not speak long on this, though I could. The Government in America is vitally concerned about the price of cotton. It was stated across the Floor of the House this afternoon, that there would be no world price for cotton. I say that is absolute nonsense. Anybody who knows their cotton history in America knows that, for nearly a quarter of a century, there has been in existence in America a Commodity Credit Corporation which has been vitally concerned with the price of cotton. It is an organisation which, even at the present time, is prepared, on the basis of 92½ per cent. of parity, to take in cotton, on the reduction of price below a set figure for any given month. Is it not commonsense that the United States Government will have a mighty big say in the price of cotton if that is the case?

That Corporation was formed simply because of the poor return to the fellow on the land, the negro and the small farmer all over the South-Eastern States, down in the Tennessee Valley, and in some portions of the Middle West, who had been all those years running their three row crops—cotton, tobacco, and corn on the cob—gradually working out the land and becoming more and more poor. The Commodity Credit Corporation, therefore, was actually started for their benefit, against the wishes of the New York Stock Exchange. The Smith Doxy Act which was brought in was forced on America by economic circumstances, and the march and progress of time. That Act makes it possible for people who work those small farms to be able to take their cotton to the ginnery and have it classified by a Government inspector—a tremendous advance on anything which appertained in America before. As a result, the farmers in America can get their cotton classified, and I repeat the statement which I have already made in this House and which has not been contra- dicted, that some American cotton manufacturers are at the present time buying their cotton direct, classified on a Government basis.

What is happening in the inner agricultural circles of America? May I have the attention of the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. Fletcher)? It may be helpful to him afterwards. The inner circles in America are thinking on these lines: that it would be advantageous to America to have bulk purchase arranged, because, from year to year, with the Credit Corporation operating as it is, they have a tremendous liability which they would like to see liquidated at the beginning of each season. I would be very interested to know the reaction of the Agricultural Department in Washington to an offer of bulk purchase on the basis of a fixed price per month, and with a clause in it that, if world prices decline, there would be an adjustment to the price of the free market. Personally, I am perfectly certain that within the next two years, it will be possible to trade in this way between this country and America.

The hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. E. Roberts), when he was talking about commission earned and the fog he was in about it, reminded me of an old lady who keeps a shop in our village. She said she could never understand why anybody wanted five per cent. profit; she was satisfied with only one per cent., and added that if she bought something for a penny and sold it at 2d., she was happy. That is about the size of it with the hon. Member.

May I go on and sketch briefly how the control worked during the war? We have had direct buying representatives in Egypt. We have had direct buying representatives in Brazil. In the latter country we have not bought anything for 12 months, because we bought the entire crop in Brazil during the war. We nave had direct representatives in Peru, but not in India. Egypt, Brazil, Peru, direct representatives. India and America buying through agents. The agents were merchants on this side who deal with their counterparts in America and India receiving offers from month to month. There has been none of that "Union Jack across the waistcoat" attitude of which an hon. Member was talking this afternoon We have heard stories of someone getting up at a dinner in Peru and shouting that he had £30 million to spend for Britain and of the guests who rushed to the telephones to tell Peruvian businessmen to buy. We have heard another sort of story, too—that on the New York Cotton Exchange, when the English buyers came on the market, they signalled with a "blind."

Mr. Jack Jones (Bolton)

"None so blind as those who will not see."

Mr. Rhodes

Members on the New York Stock Exchange told me that it was just balderdash. In the case of Egypt, the position has been easy. It is geographically suitable for bulk purchase, and if anyone looks at the map he will see that with the railway and the Nile giving an outlet at Alexandria, it is a comparatively easy proposition to make a bulk purchase centre in Alexandria. I can see that it is not easy in every case. In Brazil it is easy with the direct representative on the spot, because the bulk of Brazilian cotton is grown in the area around San Paulo and everyone knows that with the tributaries coming down to the port, it is easy to bring cotton to San Paulo There it is easy to have a direct representative on the spot in San Paulo. But, in the case of Pernambuco, which is in the north of Brazil, it is not easy. Pernambuco cotton is spread over a large area in difficult and inaccessible spots, and it is impossible to have direct purchasers in every place. So the same thing will have to apply there as in India and America There will have to be shippers on the spot who will be able to deal with agents in this country.

In regard to America, it is impossible, in my opin on, to have direct agents on the spot simply because of the vast area of cotton growing in the Southern States, spread out as it is for thousands of miles, and with many different kinds of cotton being grown in one State—soft cotton, brilliant cottons for sateens, and so on, with different staples and grades Many types of cotton are grown there and, in my opinion that could not be covered satisfactorily with direct buyers on the spot. The same thing applies, but not to the same extent, to India. May I say how I deprecate the remarks that have been made about those who ran the cotton control buying scheme during the war? It is about time someone told them that they have done a job, and done it well. Of course there were complaints about cotton. Was there a single industry during the war that did not have its scandals and whispering campaigns? There were no scandals in the Cotton Control. They were clean, honest men with integrity, doing their job, and that ought to be recognised by everyone. They had a tremendous lot of disadvantages when they took over The lad who was talking this afternoon—

Hon. Members: Order.

Mr. Rhodes

The hon. Gentleman on the second row—

Hon. Members: The hon. Member for Altrincham?

Mr. Rhodes

The hon. Gentleman who was talking about the working of the Cotton Control. He was making a point, and I attempted to answer him. I will answer him now. One of the difficulties that the Cotton Control had when they took over, was that stocks were low in 1939. Liverpool was waiting for prices to come down and would not buy, although war was just round the corner. The Government came in, and imported, under barter arrangements, 600,000 bales. But that deal was held up for many months on two counts. One was that the Liverpool and Manchester merchants objected to anybody else coming into their private preserves. The other was that they felt that freight should be provided for their own commercially bought cotton, before cotton which had been bought for the Government for the prosecution of the war. I am not going to rant about that, though it would be so easy. Another difficulty they had when they took over was the irregularities of deliveries. There were the difficulties of storage space, and of personnel, the hostility of some spinners, and the hostility of some of the merchants. Another thing, which probably a lot of hon. Members have not realised, but which has been expressed in this House often when they have been talking of the conditions in the Control Commission in Germany, was the effect which impermanency of occupation had on their outlook In this case the control is going to have permanency.

May I say a few words on how I hope the control will be allowed to work? Some 160 firms were telescoped into 80 The 80 firms which were put out of busi- ness, as it were, were kept going by money paid in to a pool by the people who remained in business. Those 80 dispossessed firms were mainly futures firms. But they were also firms which dealt in other commodities as well as cotton futures or cotton. It is a singular fact that since this scheme was inaugurated —it was I think terminated on 30th September—only 30 of the 80 merchants who were left in, have contributed more into the pool than they have drawn out of it. It might surprise hon. Members to know that the size of a firm, in terms of the handling of cotton, is accepted as decent if it is handling from 40,000 to 50,000 bales a year. My suggestion is that the 80 firms should be integrated, just as our own cotton industry has been concentrated, just as the American cotton industry is integrated vertically from the con-vertor end or the raw material end, and the number brought down to 30 or 35. This would allow us to deal with business that could not be done by direct buyers or representatives.

I trust that these are constructive proposals. It is possible, in the case of Egypt, Brazil and Peru, to have direct representatives. It is a doubtful proposition in regard to India. It is certainly possible to buy direct in the case of British East Africa. My hon. Friend the Member for Accrington (Mr. Scott-Elliot) was perfectly correct this afternoon. We have a great amount of work to do there. What the medium will be I shall come to in a moment. If we could work out a scheme on that basis, so that the firms conserved were reduced to 30, or 35, I think it would be a good thing. We as a Socialist Government can never afford to throw away knowledge which we can conserve; and do not let us make any mistake about that. We can conserve it by keeping intact a minimum of 30 firms. By the conservation of knowledge, we should be able to set the fears of managements at rest.

There has been a lot of talk this afternoon about getting votes from managements and this, that and the other. It has been tommy rot that has been talked in most cases. Without any question, one of the, reasons for anxiety and uncertainty in the minds of managements in Lancashire has been that they would not have, in the event of needing to make complaint, a body to go to in between the Commission and themselves. I made this constructive proposal. We should then have a body of people who were able to serve on a panel of arbitrators. The same facilities and the same principles could be used when other countries wish to bring their arbitration cases here, backed, as it would be, by a Government Department, which would give it added probity. I could say a lot more, but my hon. Friend behind me is kindly palling my coat tails, so I will sit down. I notice that the hon. Member for Aitrincham (Mr. Erroll) has again departed, but if he wishes to put in an application to change sides in the House, we shall consider including him in our little class on cotton, next time we meet.

8.26 p.m.

Mr. Marples (Wallasey)

After the light-hearted way in which the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Rhodes) has dealt with the subject at the end of his speech, I must say that he came out with one or two constructive suggestions. It is a highly technical subject, and after going to Alabama and Pernambuco, with a little dissertation on the boll weevil, I got rather confused.

Mr. Rhodes

I never mentioned the boll weevil. It was Members on the hon. Member's side of the House who mentioned it.

Mr. Follick (Loughborough)

On a point of Order. Did the hon. Member say "Pernambuco?"

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That is not a point of Order.

Mr. Marples

After the highly technical dissertation by the hon. Gentleman, perhaps from the viewpoint of a simple human being, I might be allowed to make a few general observations to the President of the Board of Trade. The objective of this Bill is to continue the wartime raw cotton control Commission. Any Government bringing forward a Measure of this sort must do one of two things, and preferably both of them. First, they must have a mandate, or, secondly, they should be able to prove their case. There is no mandate for this Bill in the illuminating document "Let us face the future." There is a mandate for a Ministry of Housing, but there is no mandate for a Ministry of Cotton.

If the Government wish to introduce Measures, I suggest they set up a Ministry of Housing first, then put cotton in their next Election manifesto and see whether it gets them elected or not. The second point is, has the right hon. and learned Gentleman really proved his case? His case can be proved either by the Bill itself, or by the opening speech of the hon. Gentleman. The Bill itself proves nothing. I think it is right to say that the Commission may be a success or it may not. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] The success of the Commission depends entirely upon the people who control it. I am only trying to be fair, but it really depends on the people appointed. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman appoints the wrong people it will be a failure.

Mr. Gallacher

He will not appoint the wrong people.

Mr. Marples

I am not at all sure. The right hon. and learned Gentleman's proposals in the past have not proved that he is either angelic or that he has good judgment. If we assume for a moment that he is angelic that does not prove he has good judgment. Some of his utterances in the past—and it is the only way we can find out whether he is as shrewd as he makes out—are not very encouraging. I have an example from the "Manchester Guardian," a newspaper which was quoted today by the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. E. Porter). The right hon. and learned Gentleman said in 1936 it would not be a bad thing for the British working classes if Germany defeated us. It would be a disaster to the profit-makers but not necessarily for the working classes.

Sir S. Cripps

The hon. Member may not know that that was contradicted, and a correction was published.

Mr. Marples

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman say when it was contradicted?

Sir S. Cripps

A very short time afterwards. I cannot give any date now. I am afraid it is too long ago.

Mr. J. Jones

Would the hon. Gentleman tell the House the difference, in his opinion, between being out of work under the Tories and the prospects, even, of being employed under the Germans?

Mr. Marples

The hon. Gentleman should have entered Belsen when our troops marched in, to see for himself. Perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman will say whether this statement, which he made in 1937, was contradicted? He then said: Today you have the most glorious opportunity that the workers have ever had. Refuse to make munitions, refuse to make armaments. Was that contradicted?

Sir S. Cripps


Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I must say I find it difficult to see how the remarks the hon. Member is making have anything to do with the Bill.

Mr. Marples

With the greatest respect, Sir, it is merely to prove that this Bill will only succeed if the judgment of the President of the Board of Trade is good and not bad. If I can prove that his judgment is bad, then it will show that the Bill will be unworkable.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

It will be extremely difficult to keep the Debate within the necessary confines if one allows all these extraneous circumstances to enter.

Mr. Marples

I have further illustrations which I do not think were contradicted but we will leave them for the moment. One thing is certain. Unless the right hon. and learned Gentleman chooses wisely, the Commission will not be a success; and he has dictatorship powers over the Commission. The question is, Will he, or will he not, use that dictatorship wisely? I am sorry, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you do not allow me to illustrate my theme, which is that I do not think he will use it wisely. The evidence that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has produced is not conclusive. Four sections of people are concerned in cotton. There are the producers, the spinners, the general public, and the politicians. The producers do not want this Bill. They showed clearly by the number of telegrams which they sent to the Manchester and Liverpool Cotton Association, that they were in favour of the continuation of the Liverpool Cotton Market. The spinners do not want the Bill because 79.8 per cent. voted against the proposal to close the Liverpool Cotton Exchange; only .80 per cent. voted for the closing of the Exchange, and 19.4 per cent. did not reply. Therefore, the producers and the spinners do not want it. An hon. Member opposite said that the employers who are spinners may not want it, but what about the employees? Here is a letter from a spinning employee who now lives in my constituency. She writes: You mention the huge pay that cotton workers are receiving; that is so, but the work they are doing! This last two months we have had some rotten stuff to put up with. It is nearly driving everybody crackers "— That is a criticism of the cotton supplied by the Control Commission. It is very rare my work gets me down, but two weeks ago I very nearly walked out. I had had about as much as I could stand of my own work when the tackier, who repairs looms, nearly jumped down my throat because he thinks he's overworked too. That put the finishing touch. I burst out into tears in his face. She will be breaking into more tears when the right hon. and learned Gentleman has finished with his buying Commission.

Now the public have never had a chance of expressing their views on this question. It really boils down to the fact that the producers, the spinners and the public do not want it. The point is, who does? The answer to that question is, the politician. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade is the only person who really wants it and he wants it because he wants a monopoly. It is up to him to prove that a monopoly controlled and run by a politician is in the best interests of this country. I am sorry I cannot give any more illustrations to prove this, because I have been ruled out of Order, but if they could be given they would prove that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will not use his powers wisely.

I now come to the question of Mersey-side and I want to speak of the displaced employers and employees. We shall have a short uneasy coalition between the hon. Lady the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mrs. Braddock) and myself upon the question of compensation. That coalition is not to be considered a precedent for future occasions. I shall support her in her efforts for compensation for the displaced employees and I take it she will, if necessary, go into the Division Lobby to support that proposal.

Mrs. Braddock

A wrong assumption.

Mr. Marples

I am sorry that the hon. Lady does not believe in compensation for her constituents.

Mrs. Braddock

I have no constituents in the division.

Mr. Marples

I will read letters from two typical cases.

Mrs. Braddock

Do they live in the Exchange Division?

Mr. Marples

No, they live in a respectable constituency on the more important side of the water.

Mrs. Braddock

That is where they all live.

Mr. Marples

Certainly they do. This is a running barrage. I wish the hon. Lady would stand up when she interrupts. Here is a letter from a man who, in 1924, when he left school, was apprenticed in cotton. In 1939, he was mobilised with the Territorial Army as a gunner and, in 1945, he was demobilised as a lieutenant-colonel and he registered at the appointments bureau. Hon. Gentlemen opposite cannot grumble about that. He is still registered at the appointments bureau and he is still out of work. He writes: I am also informed that I am ineligible for the Government business training scheme or for any other of their training schemes in which I am interested.

Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South)

Has the hon. Gentleman told him that that is incorrect?

Mr. Marples

I do not know whether he knows that it is correct or not, but he has been to the appointments bureau and he cannot even enter for a training scheme. The hon. Gentleman the Member for South Cardiff (Mr. Callaghan) may be interested to know that, whether or not one is entitled to go on a list for a training scheme one cannot actually go on one because the Government have muddled that scheme also.

Mr. Callaghan

Does the hon. Gentleman know how many places have been provided since this Government came into office?

Mr. Marples

I know how many they have not provided.

Mr. Callaghan

How many?

Mr. Marples

I think one-third of the people—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

We have not much time for further debate and I rather think it is unfortunate that there should be so much digression in this way.

Mr. Marples

I am sorry that the interruptions have shortened my time.

Mr. Callaghan

Mr. Deputy-Speaker, ought not the hon. Member to look after his constituents better?

Mr. Marples

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman should think that I am not looking after my constituents. That accusation could be better levelled against some hon. Members—ladies and gentlemen— on his own side of the House who are trying to murder the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. Here is another constituent I am trying to help. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will assist me. He has been in the Royal Air Force for the last 15 years and he has now left the Service and cannot be reinstated by his former employers. He is about 48 years of age and the cotton trade is the only trade he knows. He says: I have been registered with the Ministry of Labour Appointments Bureau since April … And he is still waiting. What does the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Cardiff care about that? All this man asks for is a remunerative job and the right to work. [Laughter.] Hon Gentlemen opposite may laugh, but in my constituency this matter is regarded pretty seriously. It is not funny to spend 15 years in cotton, another five or six in the Army and then to have no job to go back to. I have nothing but contempt for hon. Members opposite who represent Liverpool constituencies and who will not support the interests of their constituents. This Government are supposed to have a plan; I think that they have a plan, but that it is not an economic plan but purely a political plan.

8.41 p.m.

Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury)

I must begin by making the usual declaration of having a direct interest, in that my firm has had a seat as an associate member of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange for 20 years, but has not actually dealt in cotton. I must ask for the indulgence of the House on this, the first occasion on which a new Member has had to sum up for his side, more particularly as I know that I am to be followed by one of the "big guns," the President of the Board of Trade.

I would like to congratulate the Minister who opened this Debate. We were beginning to fear that he was qualifying to be the "Woe, Woe Ansaldo" of his party. Today, he was in much more cheerful mood; he was optimistic. Possibly his entry into a commercial corporation, where he will be one of the powers behind the throne, filled him with enthusiasm. On 2nd December he openly declared what he thinks his profits will be on 31st March something between £10 million and £12 million. Of course, his position is rather different from that of the ordinary commercial man, because he is able to fix his price with the seller, without the seller being able to say "No." In those circumstances, he has a better chance of prophesying the good thing in the form of profits which he is taking out of the trade, whether the people concerned want to pay for it or not. He made a statement which seemed to indicate that some of the larger cotton processors had made up their minds to deal outside the Liverpool Cotton Market and were, in fact, doing so. That is inaccurate. There is not a single big processor who has not got, and who has not in the past had, representatives, and a box, at the Liverpool Cotton Exchange, and, what is more, has not proved that to be the most satisfactory way. I believe that the President of the Board of Trade has in his archives a letter of October last year in which there was a unanimous request that the Liverpool Cotton Exchange should remain open, owing to the admirable services which it rendered. Therefore, I do not think that this statement should be allowed to go completely un challenged.

I am going to follow the precedent established by the Minister who opened this Debate by keeping fairly closely to the notes I have made on this matter, and I hope that the House will excuse me for doing so. The case is one of such seriousness that the points must be made with some accuracy. When the Lord President announced last Thursday, that he was going to introduce this Bill, one would have imagined that it was a little lamb of a Bill which was going to frisk its way through both Houses of Parliament on to the Statute Book without any trouble at all that it was a nice little Bill that did not establish a precedent of any sort, and that anybody who opposed it was going to be guilty of doing an anti-social act. It is a very simple Bill; the final act, whether carried through by the knife or the rope, is always simple and short. But this Bill definitely murders Liverpool and, however simple an act that may be in the minds of Ministers opposite, it is not so regarded by the Liverpool Cotton Exchange, and by those whom it has served well and faithfully.

In regard to controls of raw materials, and even in other cases which have come to our notice, we have been told that each case is to be judged on its merits. Have all the merits or demerits of this case been considered, compared with those of other exchanges which have been treated differently? What process of judgment was brought into play in judging this matter? In the case of the rubber trade, the association was taken into consultation with the Treasury, the Bank of England and any other Ministry concerned. There was a long process of working out with the trade the best method of continuing in the future without destroying the machine. In the end I believe that a thoroughly satisfactory result was achieved. That is a normal and a rational method of procedure. But what was the method adopted in this case? There may have been consultations. The hon. Lady the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mrs. Braddock) told us today that there had been consultation with one section. But there was no proper consultation with the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. There were two meetings at which the people concerned were told what was coming to them and to like it, but nothing else. Letters sent by them have not received the replies to which they were entitled. An entirely different method has been adopted in dealing with this question, a method not based on the merits of the case. They have never been thoroughly gone into.

I would like to look at this matter 1rom the point of view of the tyre manufacturer. A motor tyre and cover contain an equal weight of rubber and cotton. The manufacturer has to buy rubber and cotton in equal quantities. What must be his anguish in seeing these intentions of the Government. On the one side, tyre manufacturers work out a scheme which they know will fit in, not only with the needs of this country, but with world desires and the desires of other countries in this matter. On the other side there is the cotton. What do the Government do? Perfectly arbitrarily, and for no reason and with no judgment, they take a very different course; they suppress the open market in which the manufacturer has been able to buy well and skilfully the cotton needed for his tyres. Cotton is not in short supply at the moment, but it is anybody's guess whether it is or is not going to be. If we are to have a "Minister for Seeing into the Future" possibly one of his first jobs will be to predict whether cotton or rubber is going to be in short supply. In view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's great skill and interest in being the Treasury tipster, as well as the Treasury tapster, I think he might quite well be transferred to that appointment. But until such power has been given to the Government—even the mandate has not given them that—I do not believe it is wise to predict what cotton is going to do.

What has really happened is that, for no reason at all, an iron curtain has deliberately been let down on the Liverpool Cotton Exchange and has turned it into a "closed shop." There is no question of a dollar shortage coming into this at all. If dollars are short—and we know they are—there is already adequate machinery in the hands of the Government with which to deal with the matter. We know from the discussion which took place on the Exchange Control Bill that they intend to perpetuate that machinery. Even if they do not, they still have power through import control, to see that no bale of cotton is bought for this country unnecessarily and that no unnecessary dollar shall be spent. They could do so without going to the trouble of creating this machinery at all. The machinery was already there. They cannot put out a single excuse which is valid regarding the use of dollars in this matter. The answer to this question is quite clear. The argument, both national and international, for reopening the cotton market remains overwhelming and unanswerable. The Government have twice given their undertaking not to nationalise the cotton industry, but in their general plan, which translates their political power into economic power, the cotton industry is of such importance that it could not be allowed to be an exception.

The Government have clearly said to themselves—and they have said it possibly more openly than they realise—''We must have certain things before we can say that we have economic control as well as political control. We must have fuel and power; we must have transport." When they have got those the third thing they want, in industries which are not completely under their control through the acquisition of the former two, is control of raw materials, and that they are taking in. This gives them a hand on the windpipe of Lancashire, and it is a hand that can be made to work selectively. They can perfectly easily—and there have been signs of it in other directions already—make it perfectly clear that somebody who refuses to bow down, who refuses to do exactly what they tell him in the way that they tell him, can have his life squeezed out of him, and have the raw materials cut off, or difficulties created for him which make the position infinitely worse for him than for a competitor who may be more compliant.

The penalty Clauses in the Bill lay down penalties for those who dare to deal otherwise than through this Commission. The really vital difference between the open Liverpool market and the Commission is that the open market existed to bring producer and consumer closer together; it was a network that went throughout the world. In the very interesting speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Rhodes) he did draw a very interesting picture, and showed the different forms this network took. By and large, the whole basis of the Liverpool Cotton Market was to bring together as much as possible producer and consumer, narrowing it down in a very small way, so that the producer of ten or seven bales of cotton, or the producer of a special sort that was grown under special climatic conditions in special soil, was able to get in touch with the man at the other end who was going to process the cotton, and get the best use out of the deal for both parties. It was a marvellous organisation, built up over a number of years.

This Bill does exactly the opposite. It is building a wall, it is cutting them off, it is interposing a Commission which will not in any way know the direct and personal needs through direct and personal visits of the consumer, or the personal needs of the producer at the other end who is producing the cotton which the soil and climatic conditions allow him to produce. That is the vital difference, and one of the reasons why this should be condemned by everybody who has thought about it from that angle. We know that in the case of a jigsaw puzzle when the ordinary person dots the little pieces all over the board, he cannot begin to see, till almost the last moment, what is really happening; whereas the expert begins to see much sooner. During the last few weeks certain pieces have been dropped into the Socialist jigsaw, which begin to make the pattern very plain. In the last week we have had the control of exchange, and now we have the nationalisation of transport. That, added to the piece which is going to be dropped in by force tonight, makes that pattern very clear to everybody. It is complete and utter control, far beyond what is needed, and far beyond what we were told at the Election, when we heard a lot of "hooey" about control only when it is necessary. It is not control for control's sake; it is something far worse: It is control for political power's sake.

Mr. Gallacher

The same old story.

Mr. Fletcher

I am glad to hear the voice from the Moscow minaret tonight. It is about time he put on a new record. This Bill must be judged, I think, by the following standards: What is the most efficient way of bridging the gap between the cotton producers throughout the world and the ultimate consumers of cotton goods? What market machinery is the most efficient from the point of view of the spinner and other processors of cotton, particularly in Lancashire? There is a very pertinent paragraph on this in the Working Party Report, which I have found to be a most effective weapon for dealing with hon. Members on the other side, even right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench. It says this: If the British industry is not to be handicapped in its competitive power in export markets it must have: (i) the best possible facilities to obtain raw materials from whatever source of supply may be at any time"— I emphasise "at any time"— the most advantageous, and (ii) adequate warning if supplies from particular sources are likely to be affected by international financial and economic relations. The industry should not be suddenly confronted with unexpected changes. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] I would like the hon. Gentleman who says "Hear, hear" to throw his mind back to a time a few weeks ago when we had a sudden 5¾d. rise in the price of cotton.

To give reasoned answers it is important to understand that cotton, of all commodities in the world, is probably producing the smallest units that there are known. Here you have a crop which may run from between seven million and 20 million bales being produced in the smallest possible units. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne, in his picture, was very active. I may say, in about 1920 I was living in Uganda and had a good deal to do with drawing up the rules for first beginning the Uganda cotton crop, which was used very greatly by the British Cotton Growers Association, and others, from Lancashire. I have a little first hand knowledge of how necessary it is that cotton should be regarded, not as a bulk crop like rubber, and other commodities, but as a small man's crop the whole way through. In America alone the variations in cotton are so enormous; the plant runs from 18 inches to 5 feet, depending entirely on the soil and climate in which it grows. The result is, the greatest possible variation of staple length and every other attribute of cotton. These facts were brought home very seriously when I was studying the growing of cotton on the spot. The futures market had to be created, not only for the sake of the spinner but for the sake of the producer.

One of the things that astonishes me in this Debate—and pains me, too, if I may say so—is the little regard that there has been throughout for the cotton producer throughout the world. I represent a Lancashire constituency, a working man's constituency, and I know full well the importance of the spinning industry and of cotton to Lancashire. But I should have thought that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who are always the protagonists of the international point of view as against the national, would have paid a little more attention than they have done to this aspect of the result of the Bill they are asking us to deal with tonight. Certainly from the point of view of the producers of cotton throughout the world the suppression of the only world market, and the only market which was considered by everybody as the world market, and accepted as such, is a tragedy.

At this juncture, I would like to deal with a point made by the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne about America and America's attitude in this matter, and the C.C.C. I went to America in 1939, with two or three others who had been working on the question of how to release 11 million bales of surplus cotton in America in an orderly fashion, so that it would not upset America, and would be available to every processor of cotton equally and fairly. I worked in the Department of which Mr. Henry Wallace was then the head, for several months, in accord with the American Government and with those to whom, with him, I was attached. We were defeated in the end by legal points— we may be tonight—in the law of pledges. But one thing was astonishing, namely, that it was agreed from the start, with no sort of argument, that the only possible basis that could be used for this dissemination of American cotton was the Liverpool Cotton Market.

I wonder if it is possible to explain to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite why this was so. It was partly geographical, but it also had to do with national characteristics. This country is neither the greatest consumer nor the greatest processor of either cotton or rubber. America is the greatest processor in cotton, and the greatest consumer of rubber. Nevertheless, in spite of those facts, the London Rubber Market and the Liverpool Cotton Market have always been accepted throughout the world as the best balanced markets between the great producers and the great consumers, better able to judge dispassionately on all market questions as they arose. The Liverpool cotton contract has been accepted everywhere throughout the world for that reason. Geographically and temperamentally we have been able to build up here our rôle, which has been well described as that of "honest broker." It is no use laughing in contempt about the rôle of honest broker. It has brought this country into high repute, It has created the vast majority of our invisible exports, which nobody considers enough nowadays. In time of manpower shortage, such as we have now, I am perfectly certain invisible exports, as far as output per man is concerned, is one of the most advantageous factors we could consider. And yet, when we have not to build something, but only to conserve something, and to rationalise it, what do the Government do? Senselessly and wantonly they knock away the struts of a platform between the nations. This is a very heavy charge that they will have to answer tonight.

The spot market and the futures market in cotton have been greatly misunderstood. They had to grow up. It was because of necessity being the mother of invention. All these markets were created in the same way. I was looking back on the records of my own firm, going back for 100 years, in rubber, and I found a letter of about 60 years ago, written to somebody in Java, which said: Please buy for our account 45 tons of rubber. There was no question of the price; there was no other question at all. In those days, business was on that simple basis. There was no question of open markets in those days. But with the advent of swifter communications, dealings were accelerated, and it was realised that there must be some method whereby those markets in distant parts of the world could be married with the markets at home. The only way was by the creation of the futures market. The spot market is of assistance in guarding the consumer for quality, and the futures market for price. Those are the two main distinctions, and unless these are understood, and until they are understood, we shall have this flow of rather uninformed criticism, to which we have been subjected for a good deal of time today. We cannot have one without the other. It is useless to make the most elaborate arrangements for quality if, at the same time, we are not giving the consumer and the processor an opportunity for the fixing of prices.

Now, one of the main vices of this Bill is, undoubtedly, what is a beam in the Government's eye—the idea that it is wicked for commodities, and, particularly, cotton, to fluctuate, and that we must eliminate fluctuation. How is it possible to do that? Once again we come up against the Government's Canute complex. Once again their patron saint says, "If you, with your mandate, forbid the tides to rise, and fall, it is all right; they will not." But the mandate of the Government does not extend outside the three mile limit; it does not extend beyond the three yard limit from this shore. If the Government think they are going to stop fluctuations through this means they are really beyond hope; and, as far as I am concerned, even worse than I thought they were, and that is saying something. Fluctuations of raw materials are largely a matter of nature. Cotton is grown in hot countries where pests, cyclones, and all the attacks of nature are much more destructive, and more rapid, than they are here.

Fifty per cent. of the crop may be wiped out overnight—I have seen it happen before now. It is, therefore, vital that the producer, during the time he is growing his cotton, should have some opportunity of fixing the price, because he knows that his before-season estimates may differ from his final out-turn by a vast amount. That is what makes the fluctuations in cotton. Now the Government are going to interfere by means of a complicated piece of machinery which I find it difficult to understand. They are going to try to take the burden off the shoulders of the spinner, who is perfectly willing to bear it as long as he has an open market, and can fight for himself—and he prefers this to having the amateur boxers on the Front Bench fight for him. If the Government take this course, what will be the result? If they do not allow an open market, they will not stop fluctuations; they will become the biggest gamblers there have ever been in cotton.

Let us look at the two propositions that have emerged from this afternoon's Debate. The Government are to hold stocks of anything from one million to two million bales, unhedged—they say they are not going to hedge. They are going to pass them on under a cover system which seems to me to be entirely unnecessary, because it exists in the Liverpool Cotton Exchange already, and they will, inevitably, find themselves in the position of a gambler. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite were urging the Government this afternoon to take up a bull position, because they thought that cotton was going up, but the final accountancy which has to be made may show that that was not the right view. I admit to being very puzzled by this set-up; I said so just now. What is the necessity for pretending that this is a commercial entity at all? All the shares will be held by the Government, and the final results come from or go into the Government's pocket. Surely at this moment, when there are hardly enough people to go round, particularly auditors, to put a whole new host of them on to running this curious and hybrid contraption is an enormous waste of manpower. It is sheer camouflage. It is like pinning a bustle on to the right part of the anatomy of a truly Marxian figure and then pretending that you cannot see what is underneath the bustle. There is not the slightest need for this to happen.

As to the accounts, they, indeed, are to be most remarkable. The opening balance sheet, as far as I can see, is to start with stock at cost or market, whichever is the higher. Good commercial practice has taught me that you always have to start with stock at cost or market, whichever is the lower. I begin to feel that the indecent haste to get this Bill on to the Statute Book comes partly from the fact that the Cohen Commission Report is to be implemented later in the Session, otherwise when that happens curious little efforts at accountancy like this might lead to the regrettable result of some of His Majesty's Ministers becoming some of His Majesty's guests. What should we aim at in all this? What is our real object? To see that not only the Lancashire cotton trade, but everybody who deals in cotton throughout the world, should have a free opportunity of fixing their prices and their qualities at the moment when they make their contracts.

Mr. Fairhurst

They never had that chance.

Mr. W. Fletcher

They have had that chance. I was going to reply to the hon. Gentleman who challenged me earlier—I think it was the hon. Member for Accrington (Mr. Scott-Elliot)—who said that it was not correct before the war, when the Liverpool Cotton Market was open, that the merchant gave to the spinner complete cover both as to quality and price, in whatever growth of cotton was concerned.

Mr. Snadden (Perth and Kinross, Western)

Was it not subject to the law of supply and demand?

Mr. Fletcher

No, it was not. because the cotton merchant, knowing his business and having the opportunity of hedging on the Liverpool cotton market, was able to give cover to the spinner, and yet cover himself at the same time

Mr. Scott-Elliot

The point I made was that before the war it was only possible to hedge in the American and Egyptian, and just before the war in the East Indian, markets. In other growths of cotton, if one had them, a hedge in American futures was wholly unsuitable.

Mr. Fletcher

I think that the hon. Member is mixing up hedging and tendering. It is only possible to hedge in certain things, but tenders made by merchants cover the spinners entirely. "World price" is mentioned in this Bill, and that is a phrase calling for explanation. There was only one world price, and that was the Liverpool price. I should like to know how spinners or producers in other parts of the world are to be able to have, through the Commission, the benefits which Liverpool provided. Not one argument has been produced as to the harm done to spinners and merchants in other countries by the suppression of the Liverpool market. What is likely to be the result? I am a believer in and practitioner of private enterprise. When the all-powerful shadow, no bigger than a man's hand, seemed likely to fall on the rubber market, I, in the interval, went to the Continent to see what opportunities there were for opening markets there. I would point out to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that he cannot kill enterprise; but he can export it, and this Bill will be a Bill to export private enterprise, knowledge and skill, and import unemployment into the cotton trade.

Dr. Morgan (Rochdale)

What about patriotism?

Mr. Fletcher

Nothing pleases me more than to hear the hon. Member say "patriotism." Which is more patriotic —to stand here, and make pleas to the Government to put out people whose skill is a huge asset to this country—as was admitted by the hon. Member for Ashton-under Lyne—or to create overseas means of earning revenue through the knowledge and skill which exist in this country? We are told to look for new forms of patriotism; let us look forward, instead of backwards. The Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, and the President of the Board of Trade have spent a great deal of time in trying to promote international understanding. We have heard from the right hon and learned Gentleman himself about the international trade agreements that are to be built up as an ancillary to Bretton Woods. We all know that this is a difficult and painful task, and I must give credit to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for the fact that he is most sincere in his desire to see international trade and business working on a proper footing. But it is a quite inconceivable and schizophrenic complex that he is suffering from when, at the moment he is building that up, he is, for no reason at all, destroying one of the few existing means whereby countries like America, Brazil, Peru and China, and other cotton countries, can get together, as they invariably have done in the past, through the cotton market. It is another point to be added to the argument that this matter is not being judged on economic grounds in any way; it is being judged on quite other grounds.

The futures market is supposed to be complicated, and while I have not time to go into details suffice it to say that the machine which was perfected enabled the small producer, with a small acreage, at any moment to fix the price of his crop, to fix the price and quality for his contract with the spinner or cloth merchant. That was brought about with the minimum expense, and it meant that stocks were carried in this country which were extremely useful and valuable. At present, there is a practice growing up in the cotton trade which is distressing to many spinners, whereby they have to buy cotton which they cannot use for months. They have to store and insure it, when it is physically and financially inconvenient for them to do so. Nevertheless, they were forced to do it because otherwise they were afraid they would not get what they wanted. In the bad old days, when this wicked gambling den was working in Liverpool, they could at any particular moment, at any rate while they had the advantage of being members of the casino, buy futures, and buy them very often at a discount under the stock price. That saved them the whole of the expenses and the charges involved in carrying stocks. At the same time, they were always assured of getting exactly what they wanted.

We have been slightly, although not entirely, reassured today on the question of sample versus description. We know what the difference is. If you read the Hollywood description, every film is the most brilliant, most magnificent, most heart-stirring imaginable; all girls are glamorous, all men are he-men; all nature's beauties are greatly enhanced by hideous technicolour. Then one comes down to the hard reality of the sample and one gets a bob's worth of boredom. To give another instance, to some ambitious back bencher, hoping to advance from the back benches, a right description of the Government Front Bench would be, "These would be gods and not men, all knowing, all wise, with every sort of power"—something so brilliant that hon. Members on this side would not be able to face them without sunglasses; but look at the sample.

In all seriousness, the reassurance we have had today is not sufficient. We have not been told this important factor, and I hope the President of the Board of Trade will reassure me. Will the spinner not only be able to get the sample of the stock here, and by paying a small premium stop the Government from going back on the contract—because the premium system really means, "All right, we will sell you so-and-so on description, but that does not mean anything; you will have to pay a premium in order that we shall fulfil our contract properly"—but will the system to be perpetrated under this Commission permit spinners to say to the Commission, "I wish to get my cotton from so-and-so in Alexandria, because he knows exactly what I want, and I would like him to send me the sample I have been having for many years, because it is the one thing with which I can manufacture the goods I want to make"? Will it be a question of being able to get samples from all over the world and not just samples of what the Government have? That is a vitally important question

There is another matter which was raised by an hon. Member opposite, with whom I agree: What form of arbitration is there to be? It must be independent. There is too much danger that in a monopoly such as this the spinner will not be anxious to reject cotton the whole time, because he will think that in so doing he is getting a bad name with the sole supplier with whom he is allowed to deal. It is vital that there should be some form of entirely independent arbitration in this matter. That would go some way to satisfy the very real anxieties that exist.

The question of the make-up of the Commission has to be considered. I find it rather difficult, when I look at the relevant Clause, to see what type of person is to be eligible. It will hardly fit in with the bright and brilliant young technicians, who, we were led to believe, were to become the leaders of commerce and industry. It looks as if those who, by this routine, are having their heads cut off as independent merchants, may possibly find themselves as rather timid and trusted members of this Commission. I cannot see the slightest need for setting up this Commission. If cotton is to remain under control of the Government completely, if they are to be the sole importers and have the power of foreign exchange and the power of import, a sub-committee of the Board of Trade would be simpler than the vast camouflage of this unimpressive body, which will not be a commercial body in any way, but will only pretend to be.

There is a very important side of this question with which I would like to deal. That is export. I have been among the first in this House to draw attention to Japan as a really dangerous competitor, and I believe that my speeches have had some effect on hon. Members opposite and on this side. I asked the President of the Board of Trade not long ago whether Japan and other countries, cropping up in competition with us, were to use open markets. I received a most unsatisfactory reply. Is it not evident to everyone interested in the future of Lancashire that, if competitors of Lancashire are to be able to buy quicker and better in open markets, which will spring up in substitution of Liverpool, they will have a great advantage over the spinners in this country? If the spinner is to be subsidised to an enormous extent by this camouflaged gambling Commission—and the taxpayer has to pay in the long run—either that is going to happen, or, what is more probable, when the export business is really in jeopardy and the President's appointed sellers' market has taken the selective sellers' market, and when, in the next stage, there is no sellers' market at all, we shall be worse placed than ever before, and lose one of our most valuable contributions.

I believe that the Liverpool Cotton Exchange is one of the great national glories of this country. This Bill, both from the time of its printing and its context, will be known as the "Manchester November Handicap Bill," because the handicap which is being put on Manchester is one that will last well beyond November, and into the years to come. It is not much use to appeal to the Minister or other hon. Members opposite. They have made up their minds, not on the evidence, but on political creed. I would say to them that in 10 years' time hundreds of people will say, 'When we gave you unlimited power, the worst you made of it was to destroy a great national industry and to substitute an unworkable hybrid."

The President of the Board of Trade (Sir Stafford Cripps)

I sympathise with the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. Fletcher) in that he was not able to give us the whole of the very interesting speech which I am sure he had prepared. If I may give him a word of advice I would say that a little less of that carefully elaborated humour, would have given him time to complete his arguments.

Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)

Characteristically offensive and unchivalrous.

Sir S. Cripps

I am sure that all of us have been interested in the Debate that has taken place and the many good speeches that have been made in contribution to that Debate, although I think a great many of them have been dealing with a subject matter which the House decided many months ago, and very few of them really have dealt with the matter which is before the House this evening, namely, the question of what kind of commission or body should be set up in order to do that which the House decided should be done last April. That is the subject matter of the Bill which is presented now for a Second Reading.

There have been several questions raised on the Bill with which I would like to deal, in the first instance. First of all, it has been suggested by one or two hon. Members, including the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttel-ton), who opened the Debate for the Opposition, that there was not proper consultation in this case with the various interested parties. That is a quite inaccurate statement. There was full consultation. Written statements and oral statements were both received and con- sidered in full from all the important parties—from the Cotton Control, who have been running the business for six years, from the representatives of the Liverpool merchants, from the representatives of the spinners, from the representatives of the workers in the spinning industry, and from the local authorities in Liverpool. Those statements were taken very carefully into account, under pressure from the Liverpool merchants and also the Cotton Control to give an early decision definitely one way or the other.

Mr. Lyttelton

I hardly think it is consultation in the full meaning of the word to receive letters and take into account representations which are made. Consultation is something very different.

Sir S. Cripps

I do not know what else the right hon. Gentleman would wish. We had four meetings personally with these various parties. I myself had some of them, and others I could not do, because I had gone away. After those full meetings, we asked them to send us full representations to cover any points they had not covered, and those were then dealt with. I think, as a matter of fact, there has been as much, or more, consultation on this than on any other matter that has been dealt with in a similar way. It was, curiously enough, argued by the hon. Member for Darwen (Mr. Prescott) that, in his view, this had been hawked around the industry for a long time. Of course, we cannot have it both ways. We cannot have it that there has been no consultation, and that it has been hawked around the industry for a long time.

Mr. Prescott

That is a very different thing to have consultations before deciding a course of action, and after one has decided on a course of action taking the proposed Bill round an industry to decide who shall form the Commission.

Sir S. Cripps

That is exactly what I was going to tell the hon. Member. It is a very different thing, and the second of the two things has never been done. I thing it was the hon. Member for Altrin-cham and Sale (Mr. Erroll) who said there was no mention of the cotton industry in the Bill, which struck him as being a very curious thing. I think it would be very curious if it were the case, but if he will look at Clause 1 (4) of the Bill, he will see a very long mention of the cotton industry. It is true the words are legal and not colloquial, so perhaps he did not recognise them.

Mr. Hogg

Too much calculated humour.

Sir S. Cripps

The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr Hogg) seems to be very vocal. It is a pity he did not make a speech earlier in the evening. There has been some suggestion, though I cannot think it has been put forward seriously, that somehow or other this Commission would be able to distinguish as regards the individual spinners in order to put pressure on them if they do not behave nicely.

Sir Waldron Smithers (Orpington)

Hear, hear.

Sir S. Cripps

That will be confirmation from the hon. Gentleman. It is quite clear from the Bill that no such thing can happen. This is a body which incidentally will have the spinners on it. They will be part of it, and they will have no such power of individual rejection of particular clients because they do not like their faces or for any other equally stupid reason The other point I would like to make clear, because so many Members on the Opposition Benches have made the mistake of saying that the Government will be the buyer, is that the Government will not be buying. Hon. Members who have said this must have failed to observe the constitution of this Commission, which is an independent body and is not the Government in any sense of the word.

Sir. W. Fletcher

To whom does the capital belong?

Sir S. Cripps

Nor will the Government be responsible for the day to day operation which is carried out by this Commission nor, if I may reply to the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher), will the profits go to the Government. There is no such object at all.

Mr. Lyttelton

What about the losses?

Sir S. Cripps

I am dealing with what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury mentioned if the right hon. Member for Aldershot will allow me. The profits go to build up a fund or are used to reduce the price of cotton sold to the spinners.

Sir W. Smithers

What about the losses?

Sir S. Cripps

I will deal with the finances presently. Another suggestion was made was that the spinners might not be able to get an adequate selection of qualities, length of staple and all the rest of it. The illustration was given that during the operation of the Cotton Control a number of spinners have complained— as I know they have—because they have not been able to get that wide range of quality which they wish. Everybody knows that that was due to war circumstances over which nobody has any control, neither spinners, Cotton Control nor anybody else. It was also made quite clear by my hon. Friend who opened the Debate that as soon as circumstances arising out of the war have been remedied that state of affairs will cease, and, indeed, it will be the object, and, I am sure, the practice of the Commission to provide as wide if not a wider range of varieties of all kinds which can be bought on sample for the spinner. After all, the spinners are part of this Commission, and why on earth should they set out to damage themselves? It does seem to me a most extraordinary idea that this body, on which the spinners are represented, are going to see how they can hurt the spinners' interests.

Another question I was asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot was: Can the spinner sell any day at world prices? The answer to that was explained in the "cover" scheme. Whenever a spinner is long on his stocks, if the price rises, he will have to pay the difference to the Commission. If the opposite happens he will get from the Commission that difference in price, so that his weekly position will be such that the cotton he holds will, in fact, be held at the then price of cotton and he will have no stocks except stocks at the then price. If the price alters the next week, he is covered in the same way and is kept in a position of equality on the market. If at any time he wants to get rid of his cotton he will be able to do so either by paying the difference or getting the difference in price, and so he will be able to equalise his situation at any moment with world prices.

The hon. Member for Bucklow (Mr. Shepherd) raised the question as to how the Commission can do better than private enterprise on price—a very obviously material question, because what we are aiming at here is to give the maximum of assistance, not to the producers, not to the merchants or the speculators, but to the cotton industry of Lancashire. That is our object under this Bill. The hon. Gentleman's question can, I think, best be answered by another question in the first instance, namely, "Who paid the merchants and speculators in the past? Someone must have paid them, because we know from their own records that they made very considerable sums of money. It may be doubtful how much, but. £2 million a year has been stated. It is said that a small portion of that came from the producer. Let me accept the fact that it did; the rest must have come out of the Lancashire cotton industry, and, therefore, they were always paid that amount above what was paid to the producer for the actual cotton he sold. That was for the services which were provided.

We say that a large buyer can provide those services more cheaply, and the first example of that is that the actual staff engaged on it will be cut to about one-tenth of what it was under former conditions. Indeed, that is the basis on which we axe asked to give compensation, a subject with which I will deal in a moment or two. The second answer is that a large buyer can very often buy more cheaply, especially if he can buy for a period of time. Again, an illustration of that was given by way of complaint on the question of the purchase of the East African cotton. It was stated that the cotton control had paid too low a price and had made too big a profit. Whether that is so or not, it is evidence that a big buyer can buy more cheaply.

Mr. Lyttelton

This is a very interesting part of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument, and perhaps he will deal with the rise in price of Indian cotton when the Government buyer was seen approaching the confines of India.

Sir S. Cripps

Quite likely there may have been a rise in price then.

Mr. Lyttelton

They saw him coming.

Sir S. Cripps

If they had seen all the the buyers coming no doubt it would have risen earlier. The Government buyer is not the only visible person. Then the question was asked by the right hon. Gentleman, "Will it be possible to insure against all risks?" The first answer is that it will be possible to insure against very many more risks than could ever be insured against on the Liverpool Futures Market. But the right hon. Gentleman asked particularly with regard to stocks of yarns and open tenders. As regards stocks of yarns, on a rising market no one has wanted to insure. But if at any time it was desired to do so there is nothing to stop the Commission extending the scheme for that purpose.

Mr. Lyttelton

They do not at present.

Sir S. Cripps

There has been no demand. There has been a rising market, and obviously no one wanted to hedge on it. As regards open tenders, there again, there has been no demand to insure upon a rising market, but if it is desired that the scheme should be extended to cover that there is absolutely nothing in the Bill and no reason whatsoever why it should not be so extended. Next I should deal with a point made by the right hon. Gentleman that the Commission must inevitably sell, on the average, at a loss. He will remember his argument—

Mr. Lyttelton

Make a loss.

Sir S. Cripps

Make a loss—that is to say that it will sell in fact so as to produce a loss. That might be true, if we were contemplating a fluctuating industry such as we had prewar, in times when thousands of men, perhaps as many as 20,000, were put off, and the volume of cotton which was used decreased during a period of time and then, at a less advantageous time for the Commission, they came back into work and used much more cotton. We might get unbalance, because the amount sold at a good price would be less than the amount sold at a bad price, and the two would not even up. If we contemplate, as we are doing, a period of full employment, in which the cotton industry will be uniformly using as much material as the workers can get through with the machinery, and so on, that they have, the right hon. Gentleman's argument does not apply.

Mr. Lyttelton

May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman this question? Is the stock which is surplus to the requirements of the exporters going to be held by the Government? Is that correct?

Sir S. Cripps

I have no time to go into the question of full employment in the cotton industry tonight. I hope to be speaking on that subject in Manchester tomorrow. All I am saying now is that, on the basis of full employment in the cotton industry, the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman do not apply.

Then he asked me what the position was with regard to Lend-Lease stocks. The position is that, for all practical purposes, they have all been sold. They have all gone. There was, in the profits which were mentioned—£11 million—no element of profit at all from Lend-Lease stocks. In fact, the element which was brought in with regard to Lend-Lease stocks was a loss and not a profit, because they were charged up to the Cotton Control at the then cost price, which happened to be, on the average, higher than the price at which they were subsequently sold. With regard to the question of the £24 million, there seems to have been some little confusion in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman and of some other people. This is merely the provision—a hypothetical provision at the moment—of a reserve against future fluctuations in price. If those fluctuations take place before the date at which the Cotton Commission take over the stock, then, of course, the £24 million will have partially disappeared, but it will not be required, because the fall in price will already have taken place. It means that between now and the time when the Cotton Commission have to meet a major fall in price, there will be a cushion of £24 million which has been accumulated by the Cotton Control since last April, in order to help them to meet that fall when it comes.

Mr. W. Fletcher

Is it a trading profit?

Sir S. Cripps

Partly. The £11 million is estimated at the present moment, if prices remain steady, as a trading profit. The rest is the difference between the then ascertained price and the price paid for the stocks.

Mr. W. Fletcher

The trading profit is being made out of the spinner?

Sir S. Cripps

Yes, the trading profit is toeing made out of the spinner, and the spinner has had it made up for him out of the consumer, by the fixed price.

I was asked by the hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. Emrys Roberts) what the position was as regards the I.T.O., and whether this plan would fit in with the I.T.O. arrangements. The answer is that there is an express provision in the I.T.O. scheme for the fitting in of such State trading arrangements. I cannot go into that question in detail now, but the hon. Member will find it all in the published scheme as to how this State trading arrangement is to fit into the general picture of multilateral trade.

Now I come to the question of compensation. Of course, everybody always has the very greatest sympathy for people who, by any accident or any action, may be deprived of their livelihood. On the other hand, one has to have some rule and some line beyond which one does not go in matters of compensation. There has been a rule which has been allowed and adopted for a very long time, and was again reiterated at the beginning of the war, in regard to compensation. It was then said that claims for compensation for loss of business, including the destruction of goodwill, could not be sustained, and of course were not. In all the concentrations during the war, no claims were admitted for loss of business, loss of goodwill or anything else

Before the war when, for instance, a tariff was altered or when some import or export regulation was made which diverted trade from one channel to another, which meant that a lot of people lost employment in one business and got it in another, these general regulations which did not actually acquire some property or some business were always held not to attract compensation. In this case, we are not taking any property or any business. This is, as it were, a general regulation very much like an export or import prohibition, which is changing the flow of trade from one channel to another channel. In those circumstances it would really be an impossible situation if we were to admit that any action of the Government which diverted trade from one channel to another, would entitle people in the one channel to compensation for the trade that had been diverted—

Mr. Marples

In the case that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has referred to, surely their business is to be carried on after the war legally, whereas in this case it is now made illegal?

Sir S. Cripps

That is why I say it is very similar to an export or import prohibition. Let us take a familiar case, the prohibition of the export of arms. There is no claim by the arms manufacturers for compensation because their business goes down because the export of arms has been prohibited. Many such cases take place and have taken place over the years. If one once admits that diversion of trade from one channel to another is to open the Government to compensation, it makes a quite impossible situation, and therefore we have had regretfully to say as regards these people that we cannot accept the principle of compensation. I would like to add that the figures with regard to the people who will suffer from this have, I think, been rather exaggerated. At the present time the total of registered unemployed, at both Liverpool and Manchester, of these 2,497 people who were, before the war— six years ago—employed is only 150, and some of these have been placed and some more will be placed. We hope that we shall be able to find employment for them all.

May I in conclusion say that we are genuinely anxious to do what we think will be best for the industry of Lancashire? We may differ with those on the other side as to what is the best but I do not think there is any doubt as to our motive or as to their motive. We believe that by this perpetuation of a bulk buying scheme which has operated during the years of the war we shall do better than by cancelling that scheme and trying to recreate the prewar scheme in circumstances which have altered and circumstances which we believe are not so favourable to the operation of that scheme—

Mr. W. Fletcher

What about rubber?

Sir S. Cripps

I have not time to deal with the question of rubber tonight. [Interruption.] I am sorry but there is not plenty of time because a Financial Resolution has to be taken. I am quite sure that there will be definite advantages over that prewar scheme, but it is not much good saying there will or Members of the Opposition saying there will not. When this scheme has been tried out, we shall see whether it is a good scheme or a bad scheme. I am quite convinced that after a few years of the trial of this scheme we shall find that the industry and those engaged in it will be grateful to us for the passage of this Bill.

Mr. Grimston (Westbury)

The right hon. and learned Gentleman indicated earlier that he would say something about losses incurred by the Commission. He has not mentioned that.

Sir S. Cripps

If there are losses incurred over a long period of years which cannot be balanced up against profits, those losses will eventually fall on the Exchequer.

9.51 p.m.

Mr. Orr-Ewing (Weston-super-Mare)

My right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) said that, as far as he could see, the Commission would be bound to make a loss, and that the ordinary fluctuations of the market would not allow of their being able to make a profit over a term of years. That argument was met by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, when he said that, if we were working on the principle of fluctuating employment in the industry there might be some substance of truth in that argument, but he claimed that as we are working now, or propose to work, or as His Majesty's Goverment propose to work on a policy of full employment, there was no substance in that argument at all. It appears to me that the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument is most fallacious and misleading. He supported it by an amazing statement in which he said—although there are still some ten minutes left—that he had no. time to expound this, but proposed to speak on the subject in Mancheste tomorrow. I would have been lest surprised if the right hon. and learned Gentleman had said, "In a few short sentences I can explain that argument in the time that remains to me for my speech in the House of Commons"—which I claim is the place where such an argument should be expounded. We are now at the end of a considerable Debate on a Bill of vast importance to the future trade of this country, not only to the employment of a very large number of people in the home industry, but also of very great importance from the point of view of our exports. If the whole of this industry is to be at the whim of His Majesty's Government's administration and manipulation, I can see no assurance whatsoever that export trade will not suffer. What the right hon. and learned Gentleman has not explained is this: How can he say that we are working on a system of full employment, when full employment has nothing whatever to do with the matter?

The question really is simply this: Is the industry going to work to meet a market which is in full demand or not? If we are going to work for a market which is in short demand, whether His Majesty's Government are working in full employment or not is of no importance whatsoever, unless the Government are prepared to say, here and now, that they propose to buy every yard of material produced surplus to the requirements of the market. I want to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman this question: Did he really mean that if the manufacturer in the several branches in the industry produced—if he would give me his attention I believe he might have the courtesy to give a short answer. Did the right hon. and learned Gentleman mean that if the manufacturers in this industry produce a surplus to the immediate market requirements, His Majesty's Government propose to buy up that surplus or not? Unless he meant that they were prepared to buy up that surplus, his argument was completely misleading and, in fact, it meant absolutely nothing at all in support of his own Bill.

Sir Arnold Gridley (Stockport)

That will not worry him; he is used to it.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I suggest that we have had a serious Debate on this matter. I do not think the Government can complain that the Debate has been biased by party feeling. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite may laugh. If those who now laugh had been present during the greater part of the Debate as I have— [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—they would have noticed that on both sides of the House serious arguments were put forward by those who claim and, I believe, have great knowledge of this industry in all its branches. When the President of the Board of Trade, who represents the policy of the Government in this matter, at the end of such a Debate says he is not prepared to give this House arguments, but will instead give those arguments outside the House, in Manchester, tomorrow, after the vote has been taken, he is not really treating this House with the courtesy which we have the right to expect.

On the matter of compensation, the arguments that were used were shocking to some of us. I do not think on this side, or on the other, any false claim to compensation has been put forward. But the arguments of the right hon. and learned Gentleman will cut out any sense of fair play, or any hope for the future, when these great industries are nationalised, as apparently they are to be, one by one, that this matter will get fair treatment by His Majesty's Government. The right hon. and learned Gentleman omitted one matter which I think is far more analogous than the cases he quoted. If we cut off the water supply by some great hydro-electric scheme, compensation is payable. His cases were not analogous, because he quoted the case of people who had an alternative market offered them, such as in the case of the arms manufacturer. I do not feel that this matter has been fairly, or reasonably, dealt with by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. We are trying to approach it as fairly as we can, and the people of this country, including those most nearly affected, want a clear and reasoned argument from the Government Front Bench. Once more we have had an argument packed with prejudice, and with no relation whatever to the facts of the case; an argument put forward which might have been prepared weeks ago, before any word had been spoken from this side of the House. That is from a Government who pretend that they pay attention to reasoned arguments of a so-called free people.

Mr. Drayson (Skipton)


Hon. Members: Divide.

9.58 p.m.

Sir Waldron Smithers (Orpington)

It is typical of the Government that when there are only two minutes left, they will not give an opportunity to an hon. Member to speak. May I ask the President of the Board of Trade one question? Is it true, or not—I want an answer, "Yes," or "No"—that he once said to the chairman of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange, or one of the officials of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange, "Yours is a pure casino and we are going to close it down"?

Sir S. Cripps

The answer is "No."

9.59 p.m.

Mr. Drayson (Skipton)

All this afternoon and this evening I have tried to protest against this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I see on the bottom of the Bill that the price of the Bill is 4d. I say it is not worth the paper it is written on. By passing this Bill we are destroying one of the most valuable assets which this country possesses, and one which can produce for our national finances a large quantity of hard currency. We know that before the war it produced perhaps a million pounds in dollars. And we are to—

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. William Whiteley)

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. Drayson) must not remain on his feet when I have accepted the Closure.

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided: Ayes, 288; Noes, 145.

Division No. 16. AYES [10.0 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S. W.) Irving, W. J.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. Davies, Harold (Leek) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Deer, G. Janner, B.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Delargy, Captain H. J. Jay, D. P. T.
Alpass, J. H. Diamond, J. Jeger, G. (Winchester)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Dodds, N. N. Jeger, Dr. S. W (St. Pancras, S. E.)
Attewell, H. C. Donovan, T. Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Driberg, T. E. N. Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)
Austin, H. L. Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Jones, J. H. (Bolton)
Ayles, W. H. Dumpleton, C. W. Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B. Durbin, E. F. M. Keenan, W.
Baird, J. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Kenyon, C.
Balfour, A. Edelman, M. Key, C. W.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Edwards, John (Blackburn) Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.
Barstow, P. G. Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Kinley, J.
Barton, C. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Kirby, B. V.
Battley, J. R. Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Lavers, S.
Bechervaise, A. E. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Lee, F. (Hulme)
Belcher, J. W. Ewart, R. Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Fairhurst, F. Leonard, W.
Benson, G. Farthing, W. J. Leslie, J. R.
Berry, H. Field, Captain W. J. Levy, B. W.
Bing, G. H. C. Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)
Binns, J. Follick, M. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Blackburn, A. R. Foot, M. M. Longden, F.
Blenkinsop, A. Forman, J. C. Lyne, A. W.
Blyton, W. R. Gaitskell, H. T. N. McAllister, G.
Boardman, H. Gallacher, W. McEntee, V. La T.
Bowden, Fig.-Offr. H. W. Ganley. Mrs. C. S. Mack, J. D.
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Gibbins, J. McKay, J. (Wallsend)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge) Gibson, C. W. Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)
Braddook, T. (Mitcham) Glanville, J. E. (Consett) McLeavy, F.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Gordon-Walker, P. C. McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Macpherson, T. (Romford)
Brown, George (Belper) Grenfell, D. R. Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Grey, C. F. Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T. Grisrson, E. Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)
Burden, T. W. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Marquand, H. A.
Burke, W. A. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Marshall, F. (Brightside)
Callaghan, James Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Mathers, G.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Gunter, R. J. Mayhew, C. P.
Champion, A. J. Guy, W. H. Mellish, R. J.
Chater, D. Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Messer, F.
Chetwynd, G. R. Hale, Leslie Middleton, Mrs. L.
Clitherow, Dr. R. Hall, W. G. Mikardo, Ian
Cluse, W. S. Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Mitchison, Maj. G. R.
Cobb, F. A. Hardman, D. R. Monslow, W.
Cocks, F. S. Hardy, E. A. Moody, A. S.
Coldrick, W. Harrison, J. Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Collick, P. Hastings, Dr. Somerville Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)
Collindridge, F. Haworth, J. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)
Collins, V. J. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Mort, D. L.
Colman, Miss G. M. Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Moyle, A.
Comyns, Dr. L. Hewitson, Capt. M. Murray, J. D.
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Hicks, G. Naylor, T. E.
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.) Hobson, C. R. Neal, H. (Claycross)
Corlett, Dr. J. Holman, P. Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)
Corvedale, Viscount Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Noel-Buxton, Lady
Crawley, A. Horabin, T. L. O'Brien, T.
Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir S. House, G. Oliver, G. H.
Daggar, G. Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Orbach, M.
Daines, P. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Paget, R. T.
Davies, Edward (Burslem) Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.) Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)
Pargiter, G. A. Silkin, Rt. Hon. L. Turner-Samuels, M.
Parkin, B. T. Silverman, J. (Erdington) Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Silverman, S. S. (Nelson) Usborne, Henry
Paton, J. (Norwich) Simmons, C. J. Viant, S. P.
Pearson, A. Skeffington, A. M. Walker, G. H.
Peart Capt. T. F. Skeffington-Lodge, T. C. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Perrins, W. Skinnard, F. W. Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Platts-Mills, J. F. F. Smith, C. (Colchester) Warbey, W. N.
Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield) Smith, Ellis (Stoke) Weitzman, D.
Porter, E. (Warrington) Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.) Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Porter, G. (Leeds) Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.) West, D. G.
Pritt, D. N. Snow, Capt. J. W. Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Proctor, W. T. Sorensen, R. W. White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Pursey, Cmdr. H. Soskice, Maj. Sir F. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Randall, H. E. Sparks, J. A. Wigg, Col. G. E.
Ranger, J. Stamford, W. Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Rankin, J. Steele, T. Wilkins, W. A.
Rees-Williams, D. R. Stephen, C. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Reeves, J. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.) Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Reid, T. (Swindon) Stubbs, A. E. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Rhodes, H. Swingler, S. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Richards, R. Symonds, A. L. Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield) Williamson, T.
Robens, A. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Willis, E.
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet) Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Rogers, G. H. R. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin) Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.
Scollan, T. Thomas, John R. (Dover) Woods, G. S.
Scott-Elliot, W. Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.) Wyatt, W.
Segal, Dr. S. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A. Thurtle, E. Zilliacus, K.
Sharp, Granville Tiffany, S.
Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Tolley, L. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Shurmer, P. Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G. Mr. Michael Stewart and
Mr. Popplewell
Amory, D. Heathcoat Gates, Maj. E. E. Osborne, C.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke) Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Astor Hon. M. George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Peto, Brig C. H. M.
Baldwin, A. E. Glossop, C. W. H. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Barlow, Sir J. Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G. Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Baxter, A. B. Gridley, Sir A. Prescott, Stanley
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Grimston, R. V. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Beechman, N. A. Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Raikes, H. V.
Birch, Nigel Head, Brig. A. H. Ramsay, Maj. S.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon Sir C. Rayner, Brig. R.
Boothby, R. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Bossom, A. C. Hogg, Hon. Q. Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Bower, N. Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich) Renton, D.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Hope, Lord J. Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Bracken, Rt. Hon Brendan Howard, Hon. A. Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G. Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. Hurd, A. Ropner, Col. L.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh, W.) Ross, Sir R.
Bullock, Capt M. Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Savory, Prof. D. L.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n) Jarvis, Sir J. Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Byers, Frank Keeling, E. H. Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Carson, E. Kerr, Sir J. Graham Smithers, Sir W.
Challen, C. Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Clarke, Col. R. S. Lambert, Hon. G. Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Conant, Maj. R J. E. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Linstead, H. N. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow) Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Lucas, Major Sir J. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Crosthwaite Eyre, Col. O. E. Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Touche, G. C.
Cuthbert, W. N. Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O. Turton, R. H.
Darling, Sir W. Y. MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. Vane, W. M. F.
Davidson, Viscountess Macdonald, Sir P. (Is. of Wight) Wadsworth, G.
Davies, Clement (Montgomery) Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Wakefield, Sir W. W.
Digby, S. W. McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Ward, Hon. G. R.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith) Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries) Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Drayson, G. B. Maitland, Comdr. J. W. Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Duncan, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (City of Lond.) Manningham-Buller, R. E. White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Eccles, D. M. Marlowe, A. A. H. White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Marples, A. E. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Erroll, F. J. Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L. Maude, J. C. Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.
Fletcher, W. (Bury) Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Foster, J. G. (Northwich) Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Fox, Sir G. Nicholson, G.
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale) Noble, Comdr. A. H. P. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M. Nutting, Anthony Mr. Drewe and
Gage, C. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Commander Agnew
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. Orr-Ewing, I. L.

Question put accordingly, "That the word" now "stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 291; Noes, 144.

Division No. 17. AYES 10.10 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Edwards, John (Blackburn) Mack, J. D.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) McKay, J. (Wallsend)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Evans, E. (Lowestoft) McLeavy, F.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.
Alpass, J. H. Ewart, R. Macpherson, T. (Romford)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Fairhurst, F. Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Attewell, H. C. Farthing, W. J. Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Field, Captain W. J. Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)
Austin, H. L. Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Marquand, H. A.
Ayles, W. H. Follick, M. Marshall, F. (Brightside)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B. Fool, M. M. Mathers, G.
Baird, J. Forman, J. C. Mayhew, C. P.
Balfour, A. Gaitskell, H. T. N. Mellish, R. J.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Gallacher, W. Messer, F.
Barstow, P. G. Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Middleton, Mrs. L.
Barton, C. Gibbins, J. Mikardo, Ian
Battley, J. R. Glanville, J. E (Consell) Mitchison, Maj. G. R.
Bechervaise, A. E. Gordon-Walker, P. C. Monslow, W.
Belcher, J. W. Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Moody, A. S.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Grenfell, D. R. Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Benson, G. Grey, C. F. Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)
Berry, H. Grierson, E. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)
Bing, G. H. C. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Mort, D. L.
Binns, J. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Moyle, A.
Blackburn, A. R. Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Murray, J. D.
Blenkinsop, A. Gunter, R. J. Naylor, T. E.
Blyton, W. R. Guy, W. H. Neal, H. (Claycross)
Boardman, H. Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)
Bowden, Fig.-Offr. H. W. Hale, Leslie Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Hall, W. G. Noel-Buxton, Lady
Braddock, Mrs. E M. (L'pl, Exch'ge) Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. O'Brien, T.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Hardman, D. R. Oliver, G. H.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Hardy, E. A. Orbach, M.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Harrison, J. Paget, R. T.
Brown, George (Belper) Hastings, Dr. Somerville Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Haworth, J. Pargiter, G. A.
Bruce, Maj D. W. T. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Parkin, B. T.
Burden, T. W. Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)
Burke, W. A. Hewitson, Capt. M. Paton, J (Norwich)
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Hicks, G. Pearson, A.
Callaghan, James Hobson, C. R. Peart, Capt. T. F.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Holman, P. Perrins, W.
Champion, A. J. Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Platts-Mills, J. F. F.
Chater, D. Horabin, T. L. Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)
Chetwynd, G. R. House, G. Porter, E. (Warrington)
Clitherow, Dr. R. Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Porter, G. (Leeds)
Cluse, W. S. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Pritt, D. N.
Cobb, F. A. Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.) Proctor, W. T.
Cocks, F. S. Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Coldrick, W. Irving, W. J. Randall, H. E.
Collick, P. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Ranger, J.
Collindridge, F. Janner, B. Rankin, J.
Collins, V. J. Jay, D. P. T. Roes-Williams, D. R.
Colman, Miss G. M. Jeger, G. (Winchester) Reeves, J.
Comyns, Dr. L. Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.) Reid, T. (Swindon)
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Rhodes, H.
Corbet, Mrs. F K. (Camb'well, N. W.) Jones Elwyn (Plaistow) Richards, R.
Corlett, Dr. J. Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Ridealgh, Mrs. M.
Corvedale, Viscount Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Robens, A.
Crawley, A. Keenan, W. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir S. Kenyon, C. Rogers, G. H. R.
Daggar, G. Key, C W. Scollan, T.
Daines, P. Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E. Scott-Elliot, W.
Davies, Edward (Burslem) Kinley, J. Segal, Dr. S.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Kirby, B. V. Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Lavers, S. Sharp, Granville
Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S. W.) Lee, F. (Hulme) Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
Deer, G. Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Shurmer, P.
Delargy, Captain H. J. Leonard, W. Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.
Diamond, J. Leslie, J. R. Silverman, J (Erdington)
Dodds, N. N. Levy, B. W. Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
Donovan, T. Lewis, A W. J. (Upton) Simmons, C. J.
Driberg, T. E. N. Lindgren, G. S. Skeffington, A. M.
Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Liplon, Lt.-Col. M. Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.
Dumpleton, C. W. Longden, F. Skinnard, F. W.
Durbin, E. F. M. Lyne, A. W. Smith, C. (Colchester)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. McAllister, G. Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
Edelman, M. McEntee, V. La T. Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.) Thurtle, E. Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Snow, Capt. J. W. Tiffany, S. Wilkins, W. A.
Sorensen, R. W. Tolley, L. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Soskice, Maj. Sir F. Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G. Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Sparks, J. A. Turner-Samuels, M. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Stamford, W. Ungoed-Thomas, L. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Steele, T. Usberne, Henry Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Stephen, C. Viant, S. P. Williamson, T.
Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.) Walker, G. H. Willis, E.
Stubbs, A. E. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst) Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Swingler, S. Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.) Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.
Symonds, A. L. Warbey, W. N. Woods, G. S.
Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield) Weitzman, D. Wyatt, W.
Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Wells, W. T. (Walsall) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet) West, D. G. Zilliacus, K.
Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin) Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Thomas, John R. (Dover) While, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W. Mr. Michael Stewart and
Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton) Wigg, Col. G. E. Mr. Popplewell
Amory, D. Heathcoat Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. Gates, Maj. E. E. Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Astor, Hon. M. George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke) Osborne, C.
Baldwin, A. E. George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Barlow, Sir J. Glossop, C. W. H. Peto, Brig C. H. M.
Baxter, A. B. Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Gridley, Sir A. Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Beechman, N. A. Grimston, R. V. Prescott, Stanley
Birch, Nigel Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Prior-Palmer, Brig, O.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Head, Brig. A. H. Raikes, H. V.
Boothby, R. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C. Rayner, Brig. R.
Bossom, A. C. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Bower, N. Hogg, Hon. Q. Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich) Renton, D.
Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan Hope, Lord J. Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G. Howard, Hon. A. Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hurd, A. Ross, Sir R.
Bullock, Capt M. Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Savory, Prof. D. L.
Butter, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n) Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Byers, Frank Jarvis, Sir J. Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Carson, E. Keeling, E. H. Smithers, Sir W.
Challen, C. Kerr, Sir J. Graham Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Clarke, Col. R. S. Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H. Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G. Lambert, Hon. G. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow) Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Linstead, H. N. Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Cuthbert, W. N. Lucas, Major Sir J. Touche, G. C.
Darling, Sir W. Y. Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Turton, R. H.
Davidson, Viscountess Lyttolton, Rt. Hon. O. Vane, W. M. F.
Davies, Clement (Montgomery) MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. Wadsworth, G.
Digby, S. W. Macdonald, Sir P. (Is. of Wight) Wakefield, Sir W. W.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Ward, Hon. G. R.
Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith) McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
Drayson, G. B. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Drewe, C. Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries) Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Duncan, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (City of Lond.) Maitland, Comdr. J. W. White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Eccles, D. M. Manningham-Buller, R. E. White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Eden Rt. Hon. A. Marlowe, A. A. H. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Erroll, F. J. Marples, A. E. Williams. Gerald (Tonbridge)
Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L. Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.
Fletcher, W. (Bury) Maude, J. C. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Foster, J. G. (Northwich) Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen) Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Fox, Sir G. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale) Nicholson, G. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M. Noble, Comdr. A. H. P. Major Ramsay and Major Conant
Gage, C. Nutting, Anthony

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the Whole House." — [Mr. Oliver Lyttelton.]

The House divided: Ayes, 140; Noes, 288.

Division No. 18.] AYES [10.24 p.m.
Agnew, Cmdr P. G. Gales, Maj. E. E. Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Amory, D. Heathcoat George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke) Osborne, C.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Astor, Hon. M. Glossop, C. W. H. Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Baldwin, A. E. Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Barlow, Sir J. Gridley, Sir A. Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Baxter, A. B. Grimston, R. V. Prescott, Stanley
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Hart, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Beechman, N. A. Head, Brig. A. H. Raikes, H. V.
Birch, Nigel Headlam, Lieut-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C. Rayner, Brig, R.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Hogg, Hon. Q. Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Boothby, R. Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich) Renton, D.
Bossom, A. C. Hope, Lord J. Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Bower, N. Howard, Hon. A. Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan Hurd, A. Ropner, Col. L.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G. Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Ross, Sir R.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Savory, Prof. D. L.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Jarvis, Sir J. Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Bullock, Capt M. Keeling, E. H. Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n) Kerr, Sir J. Graham Smithers, Sir W.
Byers, Frank Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Carson, E. Lambert, Hon. G. Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Challen, C. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Clarke, Col. R. S. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G. Linstead, H. N. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Crookshank, Capt Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Lucas, Major Sir J. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Touche, G. C.
Cuthbert, W. N. Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O. Turton, R. H.
Darling, Sir W. Y. MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. Vane, W. M. F.
Davidson, Viscountess Macdonald, Sir P. (Is of Wight) Wadsworth, G.
Davies, Clement (Montgomery) Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Wakefield, Sir W. W.
Digby, S. W. McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Ward, Hon. G. R.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith) Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries) Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Drayson, G. B. Maitland, Comdr. J. W. Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Drewe, C. Manningham-Buller, R. E. White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Duncan, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (City of Lond.) Marlowe, A. A. H. White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Erroll, F. J. Marples, A. E. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L. Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Fletcher, W. (Bury) Maude, J. C. Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.
Foster, J. G. (Northwich) Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Fox, Sir G. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale) Neven-Spence, Sir B.
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M. Nicholson, G. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gage, C. Nutting, Anthony Major Ramsay and
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Major Conant.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Daines, P.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Brook, D. (Halifax) Davies, Edward (Burslem)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Davies, Ernest (Enfield)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Brown, George (Belper) Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S. W.)
Alpass, J. H. Brown, T. J. (Ince) Davies, Harold (Leek)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Bruce, Maj. D. W. T. Deer, G.
Attewell, H. C. Burden, T. W. Delargy, Captain H. J.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Burke, W. A. Diamond, J.
Austin, H. L. Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Dodds, N. N.
Ayles, W. H. Callaghan, James Donovan, T.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B. Castle, Mrs. B. A. Driberg, T. E. N.
Baird, J. Champion, A. J. Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)
Balfour, A. Chater, D. Dumpleton, C. W.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Chetwynd, G. R. Durbin, E. F. M.
Barstow, P. G. Clitherow, Dr. R. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Barton, C. Cluse, W. S. Edwards. John (Blackburn)
Battley, J. R. Cobb, F. A. Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)
Bechervaise, A. E. Cocks, F. S. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)
Belcher, J. W. Coldrick, W. Evans, E. (Lowestoft)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Collick, P. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)
Benson, G. Collindridge, F. Ewart, R.
Berry, H. Collins, V. J. Fairhurst, F.
Bing, G. H. C. Colman, Miss G. M. Farthing, W. S.
Binns, J. Comyns, Dr. L. Field, Captain W. J.
Blackburn, A. R. Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)
Blenkinsop, A. Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.) Follick, M.
Blyton, W. R. Corlett, Dr. J. Foot, M. M.
Boardman, H. Corvedale, Viscount Forman, J. C.
Bowden, Fig.-Offr. H. W. Crawley, A. Gaitskell, H. T. N.
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir S. Gallacher, W.
Braddock, Mrs. E.M. (L'pl, Exch'ge) Daggar, G. Ganley, Mrs. C. S.
Gibbins, J. McLeavy, F. Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.
Gibson, C. W. McNeil, Rt. Hon. H. Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Glanville, J. E (Consett) Macpherson, T. (Romford) Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
Gordon-Walker, P. C. Mallalieu, J. P. W. Skeffington, A. M.
Granville, E. (Eye) Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.) Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.
Greenwood, A. W J. (Heywood) Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Skinnard, F. W.
Grey, C. F. Marquand, H. A. Smith, C. (Colchester)
Grierson, E. Marshall, F. (Brightside) Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Mathers, G. Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Mayhew, C. P. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Mellish, R. J. Snow, Capt. J. W.
Gunter, R. J. Messer, F. Sorensen, R. W.
Guy, W. H. Middleton, Mrs. L. Soskice, Maj. Sir F.
Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Mikardo, Ian Sparks, J. A.
Hale, Leslie Mitchison, Maj. G. R. Stamford, W.
Hall, W. G. Monslow, W. Steele, T.
Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Moody, A. S. Stephen, C.
Hardman, D. R. Morgan, Dr. H. B. Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)
Hardy, E. A. Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Harrison, J. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.) Stubbs, A. E.
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Mort, D. L. Swingler, S.
Haworth, J. Moyle, A. Symonds, A. L.
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Murray, J. D. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Hewitson, Capt. M. Naylor, T. E. Taylor, R J. (Morpeth)
Hicks, G. Neal, H. (Claycross) Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Hobson, C. R. Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Holman, p. Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford) Thomas, John R. (Dover)
Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Noel-Buxton, Lady Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
Horabin, T. L. O'Brien, T. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
House, G. Oliver, G. H. Thurtle, E.
Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Orbach, M. Tiffany, S.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Paget, R. T. Tolley, L.
Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.) Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth) Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Pargiter, G. A. Turner-Samuels, M.
Irving, W. J. Parkin, B. T. Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Usborne, Henry
Janner, B. Paton, J. (Norwich) Viant, S. P.
Jay, D. P. T. Pearson, A. Walker, G. H.
Jeger, G. (Winchester) Peart, Capt. T. F. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.) Perrins, W. Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Platts-Mills, J. F. F. Warbey, W. N.
Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow) Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield) Weitzman, D.
Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Popplewell, E. Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Porter, E. (Warrington) West, D. G.
Keenan, W. Porter, G. (Leeds) Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Pritt, D. N. White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Kenyon, C. Proctor, W. T. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Key, C. W. Pursey, Cmdr. H. Wigg, Col. G. E.
Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E. Randall, H. E. Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Kinley, J. Ranger, J. Wilkins, W. A.
Kirby, B. V. Rankin, J. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Lavers, S. Rees-Williams, D. R. Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Lee, F. (Hulme) Reeves, J. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Reid, T. (Swindon) Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Leonard, W. Rhodes, H. Williamson, T.
Leslie, J. R. Richards, R. Willis, E.
Levy, B. W. Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Robens, A. Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.
Lindgren, G. S. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Woods, G. S.
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Rogers, G. H. R. Wyatt, W.
Longden, F. Scollan, T. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Lyne, A. W. Scott-Elliot, W. Zilliacus, K.
McAllister, G. Segal, Dr. S.
McEntee, V. La. T. Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mack, J. D. Sharp, Granville Mr. Joseph Henderson and
McKay, J. (Wallsend) Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Mr. Simmons.
Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.) Shurmer, P.

Bill committed to a Standing Committee.