HC Deb 30 November 1948 vol 458 cc1934-56

10.3 p.m.

Mr. C. S. Taylor (Eastbourne)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, praying that the Order, dated 24th September, 1948, entitled the Census of Distribution (1950) Order, 1948 (S.I., 1948, No. 2176), a copy of which was presented on 24th September, in the last Session of Parliament, be annulled. I apologise for the fog tonight, but it is not my fault. Neither was it my fault when, on a previous occasion, on 24th November, when certain of my hon. Friends and I tried to raise this matter, we were counted out because the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Parkin) called attention to the fact that there was not a quorum of the House present. I do not want to comment on the fact that if, perhaps, the hon. Member for Stroud had realised what an important matter this is for the small traders of the country, he might not have taken that action.

I do not want to repeat the speech I made last Wednesday, but I feel that in justice to the case it is necessary for me to draw attention to the main arguments that I then tried to put forward. In the first place, I want to make it clear that we are not attacking the Act under which this order has been made. It would not be possible for us so to do; but we are claiming that the year 1950 is not the year in which to hold a census of distribution. When the order was in draft, various representations were made by the traders' associations throughout the country to the Board of Trade, and they put forward very good reasons why 1950 was an unsuitable year. Although the order was then only in draft, their representations were not met and were ignored.

The reasons why we are asking for postponement of the order is, in the first place, because there is a shortage of consumer goods; secondly, because of the shortage of consumer goods, there must of necessity be a continuation of rationing in 1950. A third reason is that obviously at that time, or in the year 1949 for which the figures are being compiled, we shall see a continuance of Purchase Tax which must create sales resistance. People undoubtedly will be deterred from buying goods which they would otherwise buy if it were not for the high rate of Purchase Tax placed upon certain goods.

Then, again, the retailers who are responsible for stocking some of these goods will not stock them because they have to pay the Purchase Tax when they take delivery of the goods from the wholesalers. That means that the stocks of retailers will be very small indeed, for the reason that they do not want to carry large stocks with a high Purchase Tax on them when they are hoping that the Purchase Tax will sooner or later be removed. A further reason is that there are food and clothing subsidies in existence and, indeed. Marshall Aid, which must affect the normal laws of supply and demand.

What is the reason for this particular order? Is it to help the traders of the country? If it is, let us hear about it. If the Government have some other ideas about the need for a census to be taken in 1949 or 1950, let them tell us about it. I would only say that the cost of this census is to be about one million pounds, which means that unless some useful purpose is to be served by the census there will be a considerable waste of money and manpower.

Many small traders are in favour of the principle of holding a census and many are against, but they are all agreed, whether they are in favour of the principle of the census or against it, that 1950 is not the proper year. With these few words, I would urge the Secretary for Overseas Trade, who is to reply, to reconsider this matter and say, "Well, at any rate, we will defer it until 1952."

10.10 p.m.

Mr. Baker White (Canterbury)

I beg to second the Motion.

This order reminds us of a very important thing, which is very often forgotten: those who design forms and work out returns rarely, if ever, have to fill them up; they are not at the receiving end and do not know the burden placed upon traders and industrialists. Let me make my own position quite clear. I have no direct interest in any wholesale, retail, or industrial establishment of any sort or kind; but I am an industrial economist and an industrial statistician, and in that profession under normal circumstances I should welcome a census of production because, quite frankly, it provides the sort of information which, in turn. provides my means of livelihood.

If a census of production is, as laid down in this order, conducted in 1949 it will be largely valueless, and will also place an intolerable burden of extra work on traders and industrialists. A census of production is of value only when taken in a normal year, but there is no indication that 1949 will be any more normal than 1948, 1947, 1946 or 1945. Food will still be rationed, and so will clothing; supplies of certain materials, particularly raw materials, used by industry will be rationed; subsidies will still be operating; and, as my hon. Friend has already pointed out, Purchase Tax will still be creating an unreal relation between supply and demand. By 1949 industry will not have completed its post-war reorganisation; it will not have completed its new layout of plant, its tooling, and installation of new machinery provided for under the 1948 capital expenditure scheme. None of those things will be completed. For these reasons a census of production in 1949 will be conducted under unreal conditions, and will produce unreal results.

There is one final point I wish to make. Much of this information is already in the possession of the Government. If the Secretary for Overseas Trade looks at the Schedule to the Act, he will see that a great deal of the information asked for is already being supplied. Manufacturing industries have to make a monthly return of persons employed, the hours worked, the wages paid, and the nature of the employment; the amount of power used is already known; the stocks they hold are, in many cases, already known; the articles they acquire, particularly raw materials, are already known; all sales of rationed goods must be returned at least every quarter; the consumption of rationed material has to be returned; the quantities imported and exported have to be returned, as does the allocation of raw materials——

Mr. Speaker

This would have been in Order during the Debate on the Second Reading of the Act, but it is not in Order now.

Mr. Baker White

I will conclude by saying that the effect of this order will be to produce unreal and inaccurate figures which will be no good to anybody, and to place an intolerable burden of paper and form-filling on industry, commerce and business at a time when they should be going all-out in the production drive.

10.15 p.m.

Mr. Rhys Davies (Westhoughton)

Perhaps the first thing I ought to do is to congratulate the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. C. S. Taylor) on having been able to marshal his troops so well tonight, but I would remind him that, in general, Prayers are very much more effective when they are not uttered in a crowd. While I congratulate the hon. Member on having marshalled his troops, I cannot congratulate him on the argument he used in support of his Prayer. I should not have intervened but for the fact that I was the first person to raise in the House this issue of a census of distribution. Without going into the general arguments, it is quite clear that we all know every ton of coal produced, every bag of potatoes, every bushel of wheat and so on, and that it is necessary, therefore, to know what the distributive trade, which is the largest of all the trades in the land, are doing. The first thing we were told was that we cannot have this census because there is a shortage of consumer goods. How long do hon. Members think that is likely to last?

Hon. Members

For years.

Mr. Speaker

We are considering the short point as to whether 1950 is the right year or not, and we cannot discuss the whole subject which was debated on the Second Reading of the Act.

Mr. Rhys Davies

It is because of the shortage of goods and rationing that it is very much easier to take the census. There is nothing better than that the people should have a general picture of the distributive trade in 1950. I cannot understand the argument against having this census because of the Purchase Tax. When is it thought that the Purchase Tax will come off? No one is able to say when the Purchase Tax will go. Finally, we are told that we cannot have the census in 1950 because the stocks will be very low, but if we want to take a census of anything, it is very much easier to do it when the stocks are low, and Members opposite who are in business know that to be true.

Colonel Dower (Penrith and Cocker-mouth)

Will the hon. Member say what is the good of the census?

Mr. Rhys Davies

For the same reason that Members opposite are very keen to have a census on absenteeism in the coalmines. They want statistics, decimal points and vulgar fractions about everything that will suit them, and I want the same thing to apply in regard to the distributive trade.

10.18 p.m.

Colonel Ropner (Barkston Ash)

I must confess that I found the greatest difficulty in following the argument of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies). If I followed him correctly, he was saying that just because circumstances will be exceptional for the next year, that is the time to take a census. We should hope that if the Government decide to spend one million pounds in taking a census, it would be taken in a year that approaches some degree of normality. My hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. C. S. Taylor) said that, as far as he knew, there were a number of small traders in favour of a census being taken at some time, but I venture to intervene for only a short time in this Debate because in my constituency I can find no small trader who thinks that any useful information will come from this census even in normal times. My hon. Friend has reminded the House that because of the shortage of goods leading to rationing and because of the incidence of Purchase Tax and subsidies on food and clothing, the machinery of distribution at present, and certainly for next year, is largely dislocated and bears no relation to the state to which it might conform in normal times.

The machinery of distribution is highly complex. Any one of the disturbing factors to which I have referred would be sufficient in itself to make the census comparatively useless, but taken together no sort of information of any value will be derived by the Government at all. It has taken years even decades, for the machinery of distribution, by trial and error, to conform now to streamlined efficiency: I am quite sure 1949 is the wrong year for the census to be taken. Have the Government consulted those bodies which can give an authoritative opinion on this matter? I hope they have consulted chambers of trade and the organisations of retail distributors. Inevitably there will be forms to be filled in and more snoopers and more interference in the retail and distributive trade. My own view is that it will be very nearly useless to have a census of this sort at all. I hope the Government will do what we cannot suggest by way of a Prayer, and that is postpone this Order until some more opportune time.

10.23 p.m.

Mr. Bottomley (Secretary for Overseas Trade)

I join in the sentiment expressed by the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Taylor) that it was a pity that a discussion did not take place last week. However, he must accept the main responsibility for his failure to see that sufficient Members were not in the House when the discussion began.

Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)

Utter nonsense.

Sir Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)

On a point of Order. May I point out that there were sufficient Members in the House of Commons when the Debate was begun? They were called out and they obstructed other Members who were trying to come in.

Mr. Bottomley

I think the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) said it was nonsense. I agree entirely with that remark as applied to the last observation.

Captain Crookshank

I never said "nonsense" at all in that respect. I was referring to the speech of the Secretary for Overseas Trade when I made that remark.

Mr. Speaker

With regard to the point of Order. If any obstuction took place it should have been reported to me. It was not reported to me at the time.

Mr. Bottomley

I was referring to the nonsense talked by the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald). There seem to be two views about this matter on the Opposition Benches. The hon. Member for Eastbourne said there was no disagreement about the need for the census of distribution.

Mr. C. S. Taylor


Mr. Bottomley

If there is disagreement, I will say right away——

Mr. Taylor

I never said anything of the sort. I said I was not attacking the Act under which the order was made because it would not be possible for rue to do so, as Mr. Speaker would not allow it. That is all I said.

Mr. Bottomley

In 1945, when the President of the Board of Trade belonged to the party opposite, he made the suggestion that there should be a census of distribution. As a result of a unanimous recommendation by a Committee set up by the then President, the Government eventually passed an Act which brings about the need for the census of distribution. If the Opposition are now going back on that. it is a different matter altogether from what it was then.

Mr. Speaker

Views on a census of distribution are not in Order now. The only question is whether 1950 is the right year or not.

Mr. Bottomley

I was trying to point out that as a result of an Act of Parliament the Government were compelled to consider this census, and whether it be 1950 or another year, I was trying to imply that there had been agreement on the matter. I still think so. The suggestion that there should be an opportunity to annul the order is impossible for the following reasons. First of all, we took a preliminary or pilot census with a view to helping traders to understand the position and to prepare the instructions and the forms necessary to get the information as simply and as clearly as possible. In doing that we satisfied about 230 trade organisations. If we ignore that, we shall be going back on all the very fine work done by the advisory committee who prepared the forms.

It has been said that there has not been a clear statement about the census. I think there has been. First, a Command Paper was issued in March, 1946, giving all the reasons why the census should be taken. Early this year printed leaflets and circulars were sent to the towns where the pilot census was to be taken and the fullest information was given to everybody in order to let it be seen how the machine would work. In addition, the different trade organisations received all this information. It is, therefore, fair to say that the whole of the productive and distributive industry was aware of what was going to take place. We also held meetings up and down the country where the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade explained the purpose of the census.

It has been said that we ought not to take the census now because 1949 cannot be a normal year. What is a normal year? Some hon. Members would like to think of 1938 as a normal year, but I do not think we can ever look back in the sense of normality as it applied in that year, for the obvious reason that our economic position is much different from what it was then. What we want to know are the facts now and not at some hypothetical normal year in the future. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Because if we are to have the fullest possible information about the distributive trade, it is necessary to get the details as soon as possible. The figures we have about the distributive trade are indeed meagre. Suppose I were to accept the suggestion that we should wait until rationing and controls disappear. That would mean that we should start off with the most scanty information at a time when we wanted the fullest possible knowledge in order to make our national economy work as completely as it should. [An HON. MEMBER: "What does that mean?"] It means that without this knowledge, we shall not have the required facts when our economic position comes to be tested.

Other countries, concerning which hon. Members opposite claim that they are more advanced than this country, have found it essential to have such a census. The United States does it, and so do Australia, Canada and South Africa: These countries have found it the most valuable and practical means of getting the information required. In the production side of industry, we know that in manufacturing and mining and industries of that character we have over seven million people employed; in fishing and agriculture, there are well over one million employed; but we have no idea how the two million people in the distributive trades are employed.

We do not know, for instance, how many there are employed in grocers' shops or how many are in chemists' shops. We certainly must have fuller details about distribution and consumption. and about what happens to the goods. At the moment, after the goods leave the factories and go into the shops, there is little or no information about what stocks are held. When goods are imported, after they have left the warehouses no further check of any kind is kept. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but I can only repeat that one who, I am sure, will be accepted as having been an excellent President of the Board of Trade, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton), expressed the same views as I am ex-. pressing now, with the general support of the House.

We want to know what is going to be the position. If we get information on distribution earlier rather than later, it means that we can use that census as the basis for the next five years. If we can get that information soon—I will not say when, but the sooner the better—we shall be able to check what progress has been made.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman should not direct his remarks on this Motion to the census of distribution itself, which is already in an Act of Parliament. He should direct them to the question whether 1949 is the right year to be laid down, which means a census in 1950.

Mr. Bottomley

If we are to have a census of distribution we ought to have it at once in order to enable us to help those who need this help. The traders themselves, as far back as 1936, thought this was necessary.

Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)

Is the hon. Gentleman really saying that as far back as 1936, the traders were demanding an order applying to 1950? I only want to know what the hon. Gentleman means?

Mr. Bottomley

In 1936 a group of traders considered this matter and said that a census of distribution was a necessary thing.

Mr. Hogg

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker; if the hon. Gentleman is going to say that as long ago as 1936 traders were supporting a census of distribution, I understood that you had ruled that out of Order.

Mr. Speaker

I am doing my best to keep the Debate to the years 1949–50.

Mr. Bottomley

It is for that reason that I want a census of distribution to be held as soon as possible. I cannot accept the postponement suggested by the hon. Member for Eastbourne, and I hardly think that the Prayer meets the reasons he put forward.

10.35 p.m.

Mr. Challen (Hampstead)

I took some part in the proceedings while I was on the Committee on this Bill upstairs and I have nothing whatever to say against the principle of the Bill. But on the particular question of having this census now, may I make, first, a point on the principle, and secondly, a point on the facts? A week ago the Minister of Labour, in answering a Question put by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Renfrew, Eastern (Major Lloyd) with regard to absenteeism in industry, said: The collection of statistics of absenteeism would involve the maintenance by a considerable number of firms of running records showing the extent of and reasons for absence for individual workers. In present circumstances, I do not feel justified in requiring employers to undertake this additional burden, nor in recruiting additional staff to summarise the returns."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1948; Vol. 458, c. 1054.] What have we got? I have in my hand a form given to me by a manufacturer containing hundreds of questions which have been circulated in industry, obviously involving the employment of civil servants and people in industry on this spurious and ridiculous task. I turn to one page and I see: Question 36. Materials—hair, human. Question 37. Other animals.

Mr. Speaker

I think the Act of Parliament has decided these questions already. That has nothing to do with the year 1949.

Mr. Challen

I do not want to get out of Order, but I am trying to point out that the employment of personnel in Government Departments and industry to answer these ridiculous questions at this particular time is out of Order. I go over the page and find: Question 86. Wigs and similar manufactures of hair— for theatrical purposes, for legal purposes. That is what our manufacturers and business men have to answer under this order. I do not want to say a word more. I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for having allowed me to say what I have said. This order is thoroughly absurd and ought to be annulled.

Mr. Bottomley

May I tell the hon. Member that he is referring to the census of production form and not the census of distribution.

10.40 p.m.

Colonel Dower (Penrith and Cockermouth)

Very briefly I would like to say that I listened very carefully to what the Parliamentary Secretary had to say. But though I listened with all earnestness, I must say that the hon. Gentleman put forward no argument. And I say, with all seriousness, even if in doing so I impart a serious note to the Debate, that the arguments which he put forward will not, I think, sufficiently justify the extra burden and disturbance which will be caused to people who at present are very harassed indeed. That is the first point that I would like to make, and I hope I shall have the support of hon. Members opposite as well as the support of hon. Members on my own side.

The other thing I do most seriously say is that I am sure that the bulk of the distributive trades are not in favour of this census being taken now. There has been a unanimous message sent out by all the Chambers of Trade, and most hon. Members have had telegrams. Apart from that, a deputation went to see the President of the Board of Trade and put forward their case very strongly on why this census should not be taken until times are a little more easy, so that it would be less difficult for them to devote the time needed to furnish the. information.

I am sorry to say—and I hope that I shall be corrected if I have been wrongly informed—that I am told that they have not had a considered reply from the President of the Board of Trade on this very important question. All that the President of the Board of Trade has done in return, after acknowledging their letter, was in fact, to bring in this order; and to bring it in for the very year when they took exception to this being done. I appeal to the President of the Board of Trade to see if he cannot put off this order for a year or two. These people really are terribly harassed. I know that we can laugh and joke over forms; but these people are under-staffed. They have all the difficulties in the world with which to contend. Why should there be an addition to those difficulties, unless it is absolutely necessary for the census to be taken now and it is intended in some way to help the traders now?

10.43 p.m.

Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)

I think, Mr. Speaker, that we have somehow got into a fog here, and I must express, at any rate, my own disappointment that the President of the Board of Trade could not be here for this Debate. If he had been here, I cannot help thinking that he would have sensed, what I believe must have been the feeling of others besides hon. Members of my own party, that the Secretary for Overseas Trade has not really done justice to the case which was put forward. He even did not seem to understand the nature of the case he was arguing. We really are not concerned with the arguments which the hon. Gentleman presented. They were designed, as I think you saw, Mr. Speaker. to prove a point which was out of Order in this discussion. What we are concerned with is whether this is an appropriate year in which to launch a census of distribution.

On that point I must say that I started with a fairly open mind. I was influenced, of course, by the fact that the Chamber of Trade in my own constituency had approached me with a view' to my supporting this Prayer. But I do, not think it is unreasonable to be influenced by the fact that the appropriate organisation of those who are to perform a duty, are objecting to the introduction of that duty at this time. I came here willing to listen to any argument for this order which the hon. Gentleman or anyone answering the Debate could advance. But I must say that I have heard none. What reason is there for the Government in this case to disregard the urgent representations of the organisation most affected by this order? Would they have done so in the case of any other trade union or trade organisation affected? I believe not. I believe that their action in deciding against those who are affected by this order is one which really strikes at the roots of the good relationship between the Government and the various negotiating organisations.

As my hon. Friend below the Gangway has asked, is this the time, or is next year the time, when traders should be subjected to burdens which, among other things, will put upon them all kinds of duties, involving additional expense and trouble? Furthermore, we must ask ourselves whether, in asking the traders of this country to provide this information at their own expense, we are not placing too much upon them; whether, having this information this year rather than in a future year is of such vital importance that there can be justification for the expense incurred by those who have to supply the information. I must say that I did not find myself impressed, or persuaded, by the arguments put forward by the Secretary for Overseas Trade. I cannot understand why, if this census is postponed, the purpose of the pilot census would have been lost. That is one point. Another is that I was unimpressed with the analogy between this country and the United States and Australia, and Canada, and I was not impressed by the declaration of traders as long ago as 1936, because I may reasonably suppose that that has no relation to 1950.

If we ignore these particular arguments, I am afraid that I do not know what is left of the Secretary's speech apart from the sally which he made, after it was finished, against my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Challen) and the substance of which was that my hon. Friend was talking of the wrong census. That may be a good argument against my hon. Friend, but it must be agreed that it can hardly meet the objections of the various chambers of trade which have been put to the House tonight. The Government have, on more than one occasion, said that they will give in to reason, but the reason here is all on one side Cannot one responsible hon. Member on the opposite Benches say that this Debate will be taken into account and that this order will be withdrawn, or reconsidered? Or perhaps this Debate could be adjourned?

I notice that there are no responsible hon. Members opposite and, by that, of course, I mean Members of the Government who are responsible for answering for the Parliamentary Secretary. It is a little difficult for this House, after it has had a Debate, serious in essence if not always in tone, on a vital matter, which, it must be admitted, has carried the House all in one direction, if no one has the responsibility to get up and say that account will be taken of the many telling arguments which have been adduced. If no responsible Member of the Government says that this matter will be considered further, I do hope that my hon. Friends will carry this Question to a Division so that supporters of the Government may, perhaps, be brought to account by reason of dictate of mind if not by reason of the party Whip.

There has been nothing in this Debate which could move hon. Gentlemen or hon. Ladies opposite to conscientious reasons for opposing this Prayer. I hope that very wide notice will be taken in the country of what has occurred this evening in order that in each constituency these organisations which will be affected by this arbitary conduct on the part of the Administration will be able to go to their own Member and ask how he or she voted on this occasion.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. William Whiteley) rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put"; but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.

10.51 p.m.

Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)

Having heard the Debate I should have thought that a responsible Minister would reply to it. I see that there is only one Cabinet Minister present, the Minister of Labour. I should have thought that he was particularly interested in the subject. After all such a census must obviously impose a certain strain on the manpower of the people concerned, and I should have thought that his job was to see that the manpower and the womanpower of this country were employed to the best possible effect in these difficult times.

As he is present, and I presume he is present because he thought he ought to be here—unlike other Cabinet Ministers, unless they have been lost in the fog, which is not surprising—I should have thought that he would have been very glad to intervene to justify the use of manpower in the distributive trades for drawing up a census, which my hon. Friend has tried to argue, and I think successfully, is quite unnecessary as early as 1950. That year which is set down in the order, would not give a reasonable picture of the situation, owing to shortages, and the rest of it, to which the Parliamentary Secretary has already referred.

As I understand him, the Parliamentary Secretary said it would be a good time to do it because stocks would be low. It seems to me that that is a poor time to do it. It should be done when stocks are at a general reasonable average, and 1950, when stocks are low is not a good period to choose. As a matter of fact, as hon. Gentlemen opposite know perfectly well this has been very much resented by the people who are concerned and I am certain that he will have had representations from that great and very widely distributed authority, the National Chamber of Trade against this proposal.

Mr. Thurtle (Shoreditch)

On a point of Order. May I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman in discussing this matter on the Motion, "That the Question be now put," is not entitled to go into the merits of the case.

Hon. Members

He is not.

Captain Crookshank

That Motion is not discussable. Nothing that I could do could ever bring discussion of it within the bounds of Order. The hon. Gentleman must have been inattentive at the appropriate moment. The question I am discussing is whether 1950 is the appropriate year in which to take a census of distribution. While I originally had no intention of taking part in this Debate, I have been struck by the arguments put by my hon. Friends to which no reply has been given. In view of the speeches which have been made I think the Minister of Labour, who is the only Cabinet Minister present, the only Minister who can speak with authority on this matter, should take account of what has been said.

I should have thought that this was a matter of sufficient importance for the Leader of the House to be here, but he never does come here after Question Time. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Leader of the Opposition ought to be here."] After all, as hon. Members know, today is the birthday of the Leader of the Opposition. I merely made a statement of fact, and I am perfectly certain myself that the hon. Member who interrupted does not attend the House on his birthday. If he likes to tell me the date of his birthday, I shall wish him many happy returns, but not many happy returns to this House after the General Election.

I am sorry I have been led away by an hon. Gentleman below the Gangway. Of course, we cannot discuss the relevancy of the Act with which we, generally speaking, agreed. The whole point at issue here is what is the right time to take the census. Why the hon. Gentleman should have chosen 1950 when, as far as I know, he thinks there is going to be a General Election passes my comprehension. All the facts given and all the arguments put, not only in the House, but from outside, to my hon. Friends, and I am sure to hon. Gentlemen opposite, show that 1950 is not a reasonable year. I suggest to the Government that they should drop the order altogether until times are more normal. No one is more forthcoming on these matters than the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has himself said that we are living in difficult times, that things are not quite what they might be, that Marshall Aid and all the rest of it, which I cannot go into now, distort our general economy. Even the "Board of Trade Journal" pointed out that but for Marshall Aid, we would have had 1,500,000 unemployed.

If the economy of the country is distorted, so the whole question of the census of distribution becomes itself out of line. I do suggest now that the Minister of Labour should take his courage in his hands, having heard the arguments, and answer the Debate. I see the Home Secretary has arrived. Now, of course, the whole situation has changed. The Minister of Labour is absolved, the Deputy-Leader of the House has arrived, but the unfortunate part is that I would be out of Order if I repeated my speech.[HON. MEMBERS: "Go on."] It would be quite out of Order for me to repeat it. I would, however, appeal to the Minister of Labour to consult with the Home Secretary and, having heard the arguments used, tell him that there case for continuing this order, that 1950 is not the right year, that the economy of the country is distorted, and that our case is unanswerable. I hope even now we may get some remission from the Government of this duty they are imposing on the whole of the distributive trade.

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

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

The House divided: Ayes, 215; Noes, 91.

Division No. 24.] AYES [11.0 p.m.
Acland, Sir Richard Haire, John E (Wycombe) Parkin, B T.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Hale, Leslie Paton, J (Norwich)
Albu, A. H. Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R Pearson, A
Allen, A C. (Bosworth) Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Perrins, W.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Hardy, E. A Porter, E. (Warrington)
Awbery, S. S. Hastings, Dr. Somerville Porter, G. (Leeds)
Bacon, Miss A Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Price, M. Philips
Barton, C. Herbison, Miss M. Proctor, W. T.
Bechervaise, A. E. Hewitson, Capt. M. Pursey, Comdr. H
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J Hobson, C R. Randall, H. E.
Benson, G. Holman, P. Ranger, J
Berry, H. Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Rankin, J.
Blyton, W R. Horabin, T. L. Reid, T. (Swindon)
Bottomley, A. G. Hoy, J. Rhodes, H.
Bowden, Flg. Offr. H. W. Hubbard, T. Richards, R
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exth'ge) Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W) Robens, A.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Bramall, E. A. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Brook, D. (Halifax) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G A Royle, C.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Janner, B. Scollan, T.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Jeger, G. (Winchester) Segal, Dr. S
Burden, T. W. Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.) Shackleton, E. A A
Burke, W. A. Jenkins, R. H Sharp, Granvitte
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) John, W Shurmer, P.
Champion, A. J. Johnston, Douglas Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Coldrick, W. Jones. D. T. (Hartlepools) Simmons, C. J.
Collick, P. Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow) Skeffington, A. M
Collindridge, F. Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.
Collins, V J Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Skinnard, F. W.
Colman, Miss G. M. Keenan, W Smith, C. (Colchester)
Cook, T. F. Kenyon, C Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E Snow, J. W.
Corlett, Dr. J. Kinley, J. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Crossman, R. H S Lang, G. Stubbs, A. E.
Cullen, Mrs. A Lavers, S. Swingler, S.
Daggar, G. Lee, F. (Hulme) Sylvester, G O.
Davies, Edward (Burslem) Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Davies, R J. (Westhoughton) Lewis, T. (Southampton) Taylor, R. J, (Morpeth)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Deer, G. Logan, D. G Thomas, George (Cardiff)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Longden, F. Thomas, I. O (Wrekin)
Delargy, H. J. Lyne, A. W Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Diamond, J McGhee, H. G Thurtle, Ernest
Dobbie, W. Mack, J. D. Tiffany, S
Dodds, N, N. McKay, J. (Wallsend) Timmons. J
Dumpleton, C. W. McLeavy, F Tolley, L.
Dye, S. MacPherson, M. (Stirling) Usborne, Henry
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Macpherson, T. (Romford) Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Edwards, John (Blackburn) Mallalieu, E L. (Brigg) Wallace, G D. (Chislehurst)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly) Mallalieu, J P W. (Huddersfield) Watson, W M.
Evans, Albert (Islington, W.) Mann Mrs J. Weitzman, D.
Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Evans, John (Ogmore) Marshall, F. (Brightside) West, D. G
Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Mellish, R J. Wheatley, Rt. Hn. John (Edinb'gh, E.)
Ewart, R. Middleton, Mrs, L. White, H (Derbyrhire, N.E)
Farthing, W. J. Millington, Wing-Comdr E R Whiteley, Rt. Hon W
Fernyhough, E. Mitchison, G R Wilcock, Group-capt. C A. B
Fletcher, E. G M. (Islington, E.) Monslow, W Wilkes, L.
Follick, M. Moody, A. S Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Forman, J. C. Morley, R. Williams, D J (Neath)
Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Freeman, Peter (Newport) Mort, D L. Williams, R. W (Wigan)
Ganley, Mrs. C S. Moyle, A. Williams, W R (Heston)
Gibbins, J. Murray, J D Willis, E.
Gibson, C W Nally, W Wise, Major F. J
Gilzean, A. Neal, H. (Claycross) Woods, G. S
Glanville, J E. (Consett) Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Yates, V. F.
Grey, C. F. Noel-Baker, Capt F. E. (Brentford) Younger, Hon Kenneth
Grierson, E. O'Brien, T. Zilliacus, K
Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Oliver, G. H.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Orbach, M. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Palmer, A. M. F Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Wilkins.
Guy, W. H. Parker, J.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G Birch, Nigel Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.
Baldwin, A. E. Boles, Lt.-Col. D, C. (Wells) Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.
Barlow, Sir J. Bowen, R. Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H Bower, N. Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.
Challen, C. Hollis, M. C. Nicholson, G
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich) Odey, G. W.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Hurbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J. Orr-Ewing, I. L
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U.(Ludlow) Hurd, A. Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Jeffreys, General Sir G. Prior-Palmer, Brig. 0
Davidson, Viscountess Jennings, R. Renton, D.
De la Bere, R. Keeling, E H. Ropner, Col. L.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Kendall, W. D. Sanderson, Sir F.
Dower, Col. A. V. G. (Penrith) Logge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H Shephard, S. (Newark)
Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness) Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Shepherd, W S. (Bucklow)
Drayson, G. B. Low, A. R. W. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Drewe, C. Lucas, Major Sir J. Strauss, Henry (English Universities)
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Duthie, W. S. Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wigh') Teeling, William
Erroll, F. J. Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Gage, C. MeKie, J. H. (Galloway) Touche, G. C.
Gammans, L D Maclean, F. H R. (Lancaster) Wadsworth, G
Glyn, Sir R. Maitland, Comdr. J. W Ward, Hon. G. R.
Gomme-Duncan, Col A. Manningham-Buller, R. E Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)
Grimston, R V. Marlowe, A A. H White, Sir D (Fareham)
Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Marples, A. E. While, J. B (Canterbury)
Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V Marshall, D. (Bodmm) Williams, C. (Torquay)
Head, Brig. A. H. Mellor, Sir J. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C Morris-Jones, Sir H York, C
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)
Hogg, Hon Q Morrison, Rt Hn. W. S (Cirencester) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Studholme and Major Conant.

Question put accordingly, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, praying that the Order, dated 24th September, 1948, entitled the Census of Distribution (1950) Order, 1948 (S.I., 1948,

No. 2176), a copy of which was presented on 24th September, in the last Session of Parliament, be annulled."

The House divided: Ayes, 90 Noes, 218.

Division No. 25.] AYES [11.10 p.m.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G Glyn, Sir R. Mellor, Sir J
Baldwin, A. E. Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Morris-Jones, Sir H.
Barlow, Sir J. Grimston, R. V. Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)
Beamish, Maj. T. V H. Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S (Cirencester)
Birch, Nigel Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V. Nicholson, G.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Head, Brig. A. H. Odey, G. W.
Bowen, R. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C Orr-Ewing, I. L
Bower, N. Hinchtngbrooke, Viscount Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Hogg, Hon Q Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G. Hollis, M. C. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich) Renton, D.
Bucharn-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J. Ropner, Col. L
Challen, C. Hurd, A. Sanderson, Sir F.
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W) Shephard, S. (Newark)
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Jeffreys, General Sir G. Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Jenning, R. Stodtfart-Scott, Col. M.
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow) Kendall, W. D. Strauss, Henry (English Universities)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt Hon. H. F. C Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H Studholme, H. G.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Teeling, William
Davidson, Viscountess Low, A. R. W. Thomas, J. P. L, (Hereford)
De la Bere, R. Lucas, Major Sir J. Touche, G. C.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Wadsworth, G.
Dower, Col. A. V. G. (Penrith) Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight) Ward, Hon. G. R.
Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness) Mackeson, Brig, H. R. Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)
Drayson, G B. McKie, J. H. (Galloway) White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Drewe, C. Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster) Williams, C. (Torquay)
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Maitland, Comdr. J. W. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Duthie, W. S. Manningham-Buller, R. E York, C.
Erroll, F. J. Marlowe, A. A. H.
Gage, C. Marples, A. E. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gammans, L. D. Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Mr. Charles Taylor and
Mr. Baker White.
Acland, Sir Richard Balfour, A. Bottomley, A. G.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Barton, C Bowden, Flg. Offr. H. W.
Albu, A. H. Bechervaise, A. E. Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Braddock, T. (Mitcham)
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Benson, G. Bramall, E. A.
Awbery, S. S. Berry, H. Brook, D. (Halifax)
Bacon, Miss A Blyton, W. R. Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Hudson, J. H. (Eating, W.) Pursey, Comdr. H.
Burdon, T. W. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Randall, H. E.
Burin, W. A. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Ranger, J.
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Rankin, J.
Champion, A. J. Janner, B. Reid, T. (Swindon)
Coldrick, W. Jeger, G (Winchester) Rhodes, H.
Collick, P. Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Paneras, S.E) Richards, R
Collindridge, F. Jenkins, R. H. Robens, A.
Collins, V. J. John, W. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Colman, Miss G. M. Johnston, Douglas Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Cook, T. F. Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool) Royle, C.
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow) Scollan, T
Corlett, Dr. J. Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Segal, Dr. S.
Crossman, R. H. S Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Shackleton, E. A A
Cullen, Mrs. A. Keenan, W. Sharp, Granville
Daggar, G. Kenyon, C Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (St. Helens)
Davies, Edward (Burslem) Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E. Shurmer, P.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Kinley, J Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Davies, S. O (Merthyr) Lang, G. Simmons, C. J.
Deer, G. Lavers, S. Skeffington, A. M.
de Freitas, Geoffrey Lee, F. (Hulme) Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.
Delargy, H. J. Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Skinnard, F. W.
Diamond, J. Lewis, T. (Southampton) Smith, C. (Colchester)
Dobbie, W. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
Dodds, N. N. Logan, D. G Snow, J. W.
Dumpleton, C. W. Longden, F. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Lyne, A. W. Stubbs, A. E.
Edwards, John (Blackburn) McGhee, H. G. Swingler, S
Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly) Mack, J. D. Sylvester, G. O.
Evans, Albert (Islington, W.) McKay, J. (Wallsend) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Evans, E. (Lowestoft) McLeavy, F. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Evans, John (Ogmore) MacPherson, M. (Stirling) Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Evans, S. N (Wednesbury) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Ewart, R. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield) Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Farthing, W. J. Mann, Mrs. J. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Fernyhough, E. Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Thurtle, Ernest
Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E) Marshall, F. (Brightside) Tiffany, S.
Follick, M. Mellish, R. J. Timmons, J
Forman, J. C. Hiddleton, Mrs. L. Tolley, L.
Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Millington, Wing-Comdr E. R Usborne, Henry
Freeman, Peter (Newport) Mitchison, G. R Vernon, Maj. W. F
Ganley, Mrs. C. S Monslow, W. Walkden, E.
Gibbins, J. Moody, A. S. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Gibson, C. W Morley, R. Watson., W. M
Gilzean, A. Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Weitzman, D.
Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Mort, D. L. Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Grey, C. F. Moyle, A. West, D. G.
Grierson, E. Murray, J. D. Wheatley, Rt. Hn. John (Edinb'gh, E.)
Griffiths, D (Rother Valley) Nally, W. While, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Neal, H. (Claycross) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B
Guy, W. H. Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford) Wilkes, L.
Haire, John E. (Wycombe) O'Brien, T. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Hale, Leslie Oliver, G. H. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Orbach, M. Williams, J. L (Kslvingrove)
Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Palmer, A. M. F Williams, R. W (Wigan)
Hardy, E. A. Pargiter, G. A William, W. R. (Heston)
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Parker, J. Willis, E.
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Parkin, B. T. Wise, Major F. J
Herbison, Miss M. Paton, J. (Norwich) Woods, G. S.
Hewitson, Capt. M. Pearson, A. Yates, V. F.
Hobson, C. R. Perrins, W. Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Holman, P. Porter, E. (Warrington) Zilliacus, K
Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Porter, G. (Leeds)
Horabin, T. L. Price, M. Philips TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hoy, J. Pritt, D. N. Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Wilkins.
Hubbard. T. Proctor, W. T.

Question put, and agreed to.