HC Deb 02 July 1951 vol 489 cc1907-27

The following proviso shall be inserted after paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of section thirty of the Income Tax Act, 1945: Provided that the rules shall not exclude from allowance under this Part of this Act any expenditure incurred (in respect of a mineral already worked) on searching for or on discovering and testing deposits or winning access thereto, on any mining tenures held or held under option or under an authority to prospect."—[Mr. H. Fraser.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

3.43 p.m.

Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)

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

As the House is doubtless aware, this is the third occasion on which we on this side have attempted to draw the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the question of the production of more of these raw materials, and this discussion should be of further advantage to the Minister of Materials-designate.

This Clause is the precise implementation of the recommendations of the Millard Tucker Committee. It deals with the premise underlying the reasons for all mining and oil-seeking companies, that the task of exploration is a large part of their role. Indeed, the whole future of mining and oil production lies in the discovery of new sources of supply. I think that this point was high-lighted by the speech of the Minister of Materials-designate the other day, when he said that in 17 years the known sources of lead would be exhausted and that in 21 years the known sources of zinc also. I am very pleased to see the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) in his place, because the other day he interrupted the speech of the Minister of Materials to ask him what the position was about exploration in this country.

I think that at the moment this exploration is the most important one in the present balance of raw materials throughout the world. I think it is also perfectly true to say that if the law which applies at this moment in this country had applied throughout the world and throughout the world's history—if it had been adopted by all Governments—very few of the discoveries which the world has seen would have been made. I doubt, for instance, whether Sir Walter Raleigh would have sailed to the Orinoco to discover El Dorado, or whether the oilfields in Africa would have been found.

However, to revert to the exact situation as it is at the moment, the 1945 and 1949 Finance Acts laid down as a general principle that all capital expenditure made for the discovery of an oil well or mine —or, rather, for the working of an oil well or mine—should be allowable. Unfortunately, that principle has been more honoured in the breach than in the observance, and the fact is that, if one looks at what has happened since, one is struck by the fact that no allowance has been made for exploration—and let it be remembered that 90 per cent. of exploration proves abortive in the oil and mineral fields—unless it took place in the actual mineral field or oil province in which a company was already working.

This reading of the 1945 Act, as hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench are doubtless aware, was interpreted by a Treasury Order of 1947. Order No. 947 of 1947 interpreted the 1945 Act. Our contention is quite simply that the interpretation of the 1945 Act is not nearly liberal enough. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer has that Order with him and will look at it, he will find that allowances are permitted only on land being worked in the same mineral field or petroleum province.

When the 1947 Order was produced before this House there was, I think, no Prayer lodged against it. Perhaps in those days the Prayer mat had not yet become the symbol of the Allah of the Labour Government. The point is that the 1947 Order was drawn up, I think, by Treasury officials who had not fully consulted the oil-producing and mineral-producing industries.

If one examines the thing further to see what it means, one finds that companies are extremely limited in what they can do. Let us take, for example, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Provided the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company continues its researches—if it is happy enough to remain in Persia—in that petroleum province, it may write off the expenses undertaken, if they prove abortive, against its ordinary income, but if it goes outside the actual petroleum province it may not do so.

When this Order was drafted, I do not believe that it was clear to the Treasury what a petroleum province meant. In Egypt alone, there are two petroleum provinces; and if a company working the eastern petroleum field undertakes exploration in another field inside the same country, inside Egypt, and exploration proves abortive—and, as I say, some 90 per cent. of oil exploration is abortive —nothing may be written off against expenses.

Against that background the right hon. and learned Gentleman must recall the immense advantages given to American, Swiss, Belgian and other companies in this field. That applies equally to mineral deposits. The "same mineral field" is also liable to wrong interpretations. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows, this Treasury Order was probably drafted bearing in mind the type of coalfield which we have in this country, where a seam might run for hundreds of miles. But I am told that in mining there are often found outcrops of a precious lode or vein of metal, which means that in two comparatively adjacent geographical areas there may be two completely different mineral fields.

It follows that in development in Africa, for example, one company mining in the Orange Free State may, if it is a British company, find itself unable to write off expenditure undertaken in a fairly near area because that does not happen to be in the same mineral field. We on this side of the House believe strongly that the Government should introduce—and they can introduce quite simply by the withdrawal of this Order, No. 947—mining taxation which will help exploration by British oil companies and mining companies throughout the world.

As the present law stands, this immense handicap is imposed on all British-controlled oil-getting and mining companies. In previous speeches I have drawn the attention of the Treasury Bench to the immense advantages enjoyed by American and by other overseas companies. It is really time for us in this country to see that our companies are at least advantaged in the same way as industrial companies. The case put forward on previous occasions against this type of allowance was that abortive expenditure was an attempt to acquire a new capital asset, and was therefore a mere failure which should be written off. In mining and oil-getting precisely the same objective is pursued as is pursued by the industrialist, that is, a continuation of production. If I, as a cotton spinner, acquire a new machine which proves to be out-of-date and that expenditure is abortive, I can continue to write off the cost of that machine which I acquired over a period of years, even if I do not use it.

In precisely the same way that rule should apply to these mining and oil-getting concerns of ours which in the past have brought much revenue and raw materials to this country, if oil-getting or mining companies are to continue to find new resources which can be put to the benefit of the company and of this country. Even at this very moment there are two companies exploiting, or about to exploit, resources within the British Isles. Both those companies are American. In Derbyshire inquiries are being made by one of the largest American mining houses as to whether or not they should there develop Britain's lead. Even at this moment in Southern Ireland American companies are working on the production of raw materials—I am not sure which non-ferrous metals; it may be either zinc or lead.

The time has come for us to see things as they should be, which is to give to our mine-creating and oil-well-creating companies the same sort of advantage as other companies are getting. In the past we have run over the wide gamut of the immense advantages that American companies have over ours. The House has been alerted by speeches of the Minister of Materials-designate, of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) and of others showing that this country is in grave danger unless we can control and use the resources which are ours by right throughout the vast area of the globe.

Taxation is so weighted against the British explorer, the British company which goes in for wide-scale exploration throughout the world, that there is great danger that in the next 20 years we shall see a diminution of those raw materials and profits which should flow into this country. On the last two occasions when new Clauses of this nature have been considered, we have not sought to divide the House, but unless the Minister who is responsible for answering can give us some satisfaction, I really believe that we shall now be forced to do so.

Sir Edward Boyle (Birmingham, Handsworth)

I beg to second the Motion.

Since last Thursday night, when it fell to me to propose a new Clause which also dealt with the effect of the tax structure on mining concerns, the Attorney-General has been on an important journey. I am sure we all hope that the patience and courtesy which he has shown throughout the debates on the Finance Bill have also fortified him during the even more exacting task that he has had to carry out during the weekend.

This Clause, the Motion for the Second Reading of which has been so ably moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. H. Fraser), is based on the clear recommendation of paragraph 240 of the Millard Tucker Report. That recommendation is repeated in the summary which appears at the end of the Report. I mention that because when I moved a new Clause last Thursday night the right hon. and learned Gentleman pointed out, with some justice, that the effects of paragraph 238 of the Report are slightly modified by another paragraph. But in this case the recommendation in paragraph 240 is absolutely clear, and is not qualified by any paragraph elsewhere in the Report.

I only wish to make two other points. The first is to answer what is, I think, the stock argument against this Clause, namely, that abortive expenditure on exploration is really a loss sustained in an attempt to create a completely new capital asset. That argument does not take into account the particular problems which a company such as an oil company has to face. An oil company must always be all the time on the look-out for new deposits, wherever they are to be found.

I should like to dispose of the objection that some loss might be sustained by the Inland Revenue. The point here is that one has to take into account what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) last Thursday night, namely, that the Revenue could not possibly gain if, as a result of our tax structure, a mine is sold to some nonresident company. For a country like Great Britain, which is dependent on imports of raw materials, it is surely absolutely vital that United Kingdom mining concerns should be able to compete on level terms with mining companies in foreign countries. It is quite understandable that the Inland Revenue should be suspicious of any innovations that are proposed in our tax structure, but we on this side of the House think that the regulations of the Inland Revenue, and our financial legislation generally, must always be sensitive to the ever-changing climate of Britain's economic needs. It is for these reasons that I earnestly commend this Clause to the attention of the House.

The Attorney-General (Sir Frank Soskice)

As the hon. Members who have moved and seconded the Motion for the Second Reading of the new Clause have pointed out, the Clause deals with a subject which was considered by the Millard Tucker Committee. We feel that, as in the case of previous new Clauses and Amendments which we have discussed, it really would not be feasible to deal with the new Clause without paying attention to the wider implications involved. As both hon. Gentlemen have pointed out, the two rival considerations which have to be considered one against the other in deciding whether or not to accept a proposal of this sort are as follows.

4.0 p.m.

As against an allowance for this kind of expenditure, it is said that it is expenditure which is devoted to the creation of a new capital asset and therefore cannot, consistently with our taxation structure, be a fit subject for an allowance. On the other hand, it is pointed out that, especially in the case of oil companies and companies concerned with the extraction of mineral wealth, if a particular source of mineral wealth is likely to come to an end, as it must do at some time or another, the companies must concern themselves with looking about for other possible sources, unless their enterprise is to be stopped altogether.

In weighing these considerations one against the other, the Millard Tucker Committee came to the conclusion that the existing limit on which we work is too narrow and needs widening. They were, however, if I may say so, not very specific in the proposals they made in regard to it, or perhaps it would be truer to say that they recognised that a proposal with regard to oil and mineral companies was one which did not stand quite alone.

It was pointed out, and it was, indeed, the subject of discussion, that expenditure on exploration stood on very much the same footing as expenditure which a concern might embark upon with a view to widening its undertaking. In any enterprise it is, of course, often necessary to consider whether it is prudent and proper to embark on expenditure for the purpose of attempting to expand into new fields. That kind of expenditure—abortive capital expenditure as it will turn out to be sometimes, although, of course, it sometimes results in a successful return—really stands on much the same footing as this exploration expenditure.

Mr. H. Fraser

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has referred to the Millard Tucker Committee. I think that they are very specific in what they say. They state, in their final conclusion in paragraph 240, in black type, …We accordingly recommend that exploration expenditure should be allowed provided it is incurred in searching for a mineral which the company is already working.

The Attorney-General

That is perfectly true. But if the hon. Gentleman will look at the beginning of the same sentence, he will find that they say: We have come to the conclusion that the present limitation is too narrow having regard to our subsequent observations on the subject of abortive capital expenditure generally (see paragraph 263 below)… So they do link their recommendation with the question of abortive capital expenditure in general. Indeed, as a matter of logical approach, it is difficult to divide one from the other. The company engaged in extracting mineral wealth and desiring to open up a deposit elsewhere in the world stands on much the same footing as a concern which operates, say, in London and is considering whether it should or should not embark on a plan of capital expenditure with a view to opening a branch, say, in Amsterdam.

One cannot logically dissociate exploration expenditure incurred by way of mineral expansion from the general question of extending other concerns. For these reasons, having heard the arguments addressed to the House, we think that we ought not to try to deal with this matter until it has received further consideration. We hope that it may be considered by the Royal Commission in order that the implications involved of making an allowance in regard to this type of expenditure can be fully weighed. I urge on the House that we ought not, at this stage, to accept this Clause, dealing as it does with only a limited field of property, but we ought to see whether the Royal Commission make any recommendations, and, if so, what recommendations, with regard to the whole field of this expenditure, before we come to any decision. For these reasons, I hope that the Clause will be rejected.

Mr. David Eccles (Chippenham)

I do not think that the Attorney-General has given enough weight to the peculiar nature of mining. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, this is not like other industries. A mine is a wasting asset. It is of great importance to keep the staff together and to make use of their technical skill by carrying on operations in new fields. For the right hon. and learned Gentleman to tell us that this matter must wait until the Royal Commission has reported is really to put off a concession for an indefinite period—it may be for years—which we feel ought to be given now.

The trouble arises because, as my hon. Friends have said, the definition of "source" is too narrow under the law as it stands. The definition, referring as it does to a mineral field or petroleum province, is alright for the other kind of allowances but it is not wide enough when it comes to exploration. There are two main kinds of mineral ore bodies: there is the regular reef, like jam in a sandwich, and it is quite easy to say that wherever that reef is, then it belongs to one mineral field and one only. In other instances where erosion has taken place in the occurrence of the ore, the payable areas are much more like plums in a cake than jam in a sandwich, and it takes a lot of time, trouble and money to discover another plum.

I understand that in Wales two lead occurrences only 50 miles away have been ruled out as not being of the same mineral field and therefore the allowance is not given to the operating company to go after the other deposit. I am sure that is a mistake. On the broader aspect, the world is steadily becoming surveyed for mineral wealth and companies which are coming to the end of their deposits have to go far afield. It must be right not to limit their exploration to the deposit or oil structure on which they happen to be working.

Further, it is desirable to encourage the use of profits, which successful companies are earning, in the risky business of looking for a new deposit. We are getting short of risk capital, and here is an opportunity of engaging the profits that are retained in a successful company in a search for other ore bodies. I think that two examples will suffice. I understand that the great Australian companies which are predominent in the field of lead and zinc are anxious to use some of their profits to look for other lead and zinc bodies. It must be a good thing that they should do so.

There is also the question of the oil reserves in Trinidad which are by no means unlimited. Are the Trinidad companies not to be able to claim an allowance on money which they might spend in exploration in Venezuela? It is not difficult to send geologists by aeroplane from Trinidad to Venezuela but the money spent does not rank for an allowance. The Government are unwise to hang this concession up. I take it from the Attorney-General's speech that they will give in one day but they do not want to give in now.

My final plea is to reinforce what my hon. Friends have said. Foreign companies do not get an allowance in this form but they get bigger allowances for mining oils and minerals than our companies do, and we ought to put our own overseas companies at least on a level with the foreign companies. Therefore, I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to give us a definite assurance that the Government accept the principle of this Clause and that they will not wait an indefinite number of years before they bring it on to the Statute Book.

Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)

My right hon. and learned Friend always makes his speeches in so persuasive a manner that it almost feels like an offence to get up to disagree with him at all: but I cannot help believing that my right hon. and learned Friend is being charged in this matter with work that ought to fall upon other shoulders. We are not dealing only with the local point. We are dealing with something which is very important indeed in its bearing on our physical assets.

I take the view, and I have always taken the view, that if there is a social purpose to be accomplished of any importance, either the State should do it or the State should make it possible for private enterprise to do it; but what the State should not do is to be inert and to surround private enterprise with such inhibitions that private enterprise cannot do it. Here is a characteristic example. It is also an illustration of the unwisdom of allowing the Treasury to have too much influence over economic planning.

It is obvious from the attitude of the Government Front Bench today that Revenue considerations are overlaying other physical considerations. This happens over and over again. That is why, in a recent statement to the House, which was not received with universal approbation, I suggested that there should be a division between economic planning throughout the country and the responsibilities of the Treasury, and that it was a mistake to make the Treasury responsible for economic planning as a whole. But here we have it.

It is surely obvious to the Government that we are in a very very dangerous situation in this country. Our dependence upon raw materials is not decreasing: it is increasing. It is increasing at a time when it is becoming more and more difficult to find beds, seams or lodes of precious materials. Therefore, no one in this field should be suffering financial inhibitions. It is a fact, as I said in an intervention the other day, that Great Britain has not yet been properly explored by modern methods of exploration. It is an extraordinary thing but, as usual, a fool's eyes are upon the ends of the earth, and we are going all over the world looking for raw materials when many of these raw materials might be under our feet if we had a proper exploration for them by modern methods of investigation—and modern methods of investigation are expensive.

I have consulted geologists, mineralogists and physicists on this matter, and, as far as I know, there is no way of effectively finding out what is under our feet except by boring and by examining the results of boring.

Earl Winterton (Horsham)

Surely, it is not true to say that there has been no improvement in scientific methods in recent years. As a matter of fact, as the right hon. Gentleman is probably aware, there has been boring for oil in the south of England at great depth.

Mr. Bevan

I did not say that there had not been any improvement. On the contrary, there is no doubt that modern scientific methods of exploration are by boring and not by the old crude methods; and they have not been used in Great Britain to the extent that they should. I do not believe that, even up to today, proper borings have been done in the granite masses of Cornwall. Certainly they have not been done in North Wales to anything like the extent they should, and they have not been done in the Peak district. I challenge anyone to say that that is untrue.

4.15 p.m.

Why have they not been done? It may be because private enterprise in Great Britain is no longer as energetic as it was; it may be that private enterprise is suffering from the financial inhibitions that this Clause is aimed at, or it may be that the State has not been sufficiently active. But what we do know is that there is not a proper investigation of our mineral wealth with the urgency that the crisis demands. Either the financial inhibitions should be removed in order that private enterprise should get ahead with it, or the Government should do it—and the Government are not doing it. In fact, I assert now that even today the Government have not armed themselves with sufficient legislative power to do the job properly.

In the circumstances, it seems to me deplorable that we should be considering a financial risk upon British industry which is not imposed upon their rivals in other countries. It is intolerable in the circumstances; and I say that it is not enough for the Government to come forward and put a conventional Revenue argument, because one cannot compare factory production with mineral extraction. Surely, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the conveyor belt, the techniques of modern repetitive production, have long ago run ahead of the possibilities of mineral extraction.

Unless those two can be brought together, the conveyor will go slower, it will stop and come to an end and have to wait until the extractive industries have caught up. It seems to me also that it is not a good thing that this financial power of investigation should be left only in the hands of great companies. Great oil companies may be able to afford to risk money, but smaller companies cannot do it at all. They are entirely inhibited.

It seems to me that this is a case for an urgent re-examination to see whether we cannot bring our fiscal methods into line with our physical needs, and not leave it to the exploration of a Royal Commission, because in the meantime other nations may have explored and brought about the results which the Royal Commission itself will not be able to enable us to achieve. I cannot go into the Lobby in support of this new Clause, for obvious reasons. I hope, however, that my right hon. and learned Friend will represent to the Chancellor that we do not consider that England's urgent needs for raw materials should wait upon the dilatory methods of a Royal Commission.

Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)

I hope that we can spare the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) any embarrassment by not taking this matter too far this afternoon. It is a pity in a way that the Government were so anxious to get to bed on Thursday that they did not allow us to discuss this new Clause with the previous new Clause. That would have tidied up the debate on this general issue of mining exploration. Unfortunately, we are back at it today. I think it is clear that the House is much indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. H. Fraser) and the hon. Member for Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) for having persistently, throughout our debates, put down one Amendment after another to pinpoint this important issue.

While the Government today, as on previous occasions, have not felt it possible to say that they will accept this new Clause here and now, it is obvious, particularly in the light of the speech by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, that we shall have to do all we can during the coming months or years, either by financial alleviation or otherwise, to get on with the exploration of the minerals in this country or elsewhere under British leadership. I think that we all agree about that. I hope that the Government will agree with us in that argument. Our consciences are clear. We have brought the matter before the House and the Government have refused to do anything this year. Be that on their own heads.

I shall be very surprised if, long before we come to the next Finance Bill, the new Minister of Materials has not been stirring in this matter. It may be that before we have the Budget opened next year some amending Income Tax Bill will be necessary to deal with this very problem which is becoming more and more urgent every day.

This Clause seeks to deal with the problem in a different way from the new Clause which we discussed the other night. Here we are asking for permission for allowances in regard to expenditure incurred on search and discovery. That was not what we were talking about the other night, but the whole aim of all our proposals was to make a basis for exploratory work to be done. I therefore hope that, in spite of what the Attorney-General had to say, obviously not as being the responsible Minister either for finance or for the metals, but simply as the spokesman of the Government, the matter will be considered urgently by his colleagues.

I should have preferred him to give us a little better undertaking than he did. He pointed out that the Millard Tucker Report said that the present limit was too narrow, and, of course, as on other Clauses of this Bill, our proposals have been put down to deal with what the Millard Tucker Report said on one point after another. On this occasion, the Government have announced that we have to consider these matters together, and that they cannot concede first one thing and then another. So be it; but to go further and say that we have to wait for the Report of the Royal Commission on Income Tax is putting the matter far too long ahead, unless it is envisaged that the Royal Commission will report in sections and that this will be the first section to be dealt with.

The Attorney-General

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman allow me to intervene to say, in answer to him and to my right hon. Friend, that perhaps I was rather too pessimistic in saying that we would have to wait for the Royal Commission to report. I should prefer the House to accept the assurance that we want to consider this as we have considered the other recommendations of the Millard Tucker Committee. It does not necessarily mean that one has to wait for the Royal Commission to report. We want to have the opportunity of considering the matter a good deal further in relation to the full implications regarding other forms of expenditure which are of necessity involved, and I should like to amend what I said before by leaving out, as it were, the reference to the Royal Commission. We need not necessarily wait for it, but we have to consider this matter in conjunction with other recommendations of the Millard Tucker Committee.

Captain Crookshank

That statement goes further towards what we wanted than anything which we understood either on Thursday night or today. Even the most dilatory Government ought not to take over a year to go through the implications of the Millard Tucker Report, and we may very well have legislation in the autumn to deal with this problem. If something like that eventuated, it would be very good, because obviously the Report stage of the Finance Bill is a difficult time at which to raise new issues of this kind, or, indeed, some of the other points to which we shall be giving attention later on today.

I think this is certainly an advance on what we have heard before, but I still reinforce the plea made by my hon. Friends that this is really a very important matter, even though we have only discussed it rather broadly late on Thursday and again at the beginning of a rather heavy day today. It is a much more important matter than possibly many hon. Members appreciate.

Now we are told that it is to be considered in relation to other Millard Tucker recommendations, irrespective of and in anticipation of, though without waiting for, anything that may emerge from the Royal Commission on Income Tax. This is something far more than I had expected from the Government when the debate started, and, though I still feel that that will not be enough, I think that the Government ought to be most grateful to my hon. Friend for having brought forward the matter today.

Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)

I am sure that many of us on both sides of the House are grateful to the hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. H. Fraser) for his persistence in putting forward these arguments which, I am quite sure, he has not pressed forward from any party political point of view, but from the real necessity of getting the country to bring its mind to bear upon this problem of exploration and further development of raw materials.

We have been told that the new Minister of Materials will do everything possible to ensure adequate supplies of the materials with which he is concerned, and we are also told that, where appropriate, he will take steps to increase the production of materials the supplies of which are or may become inadequate, to promote their economical use, salvage and recovery and to develop their production. I think that this is a Clause in keeping with the White Paper which we discussed the other day.

Some weeks ago, I asked the Minister of Supply what the Government were doing to encourage a review of the discoveries of copper on the borders of Leek and Stafford and the mining of copper and lead in those areas. From about 1830 to about 1850, the Ecton Copper Mine was one of the largest in the world, and I believe that, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said, with more modern exploration and scientific methods, we might once more win these raw materials. Such a proposal as this, if conceded by the Treasury, would encourage private enterprise to go on with these developments.

Of what use is it either to have a gold balance or a dollar balance if vital raw materials are lacking? It is because I believe that this proposal would encourage the development of these raw materials that I have pleasure in supporting the hon. Member for Stafford and Stone in asking the Minister to make some concession with regard to this proposed Clause.

Captain Waterhouse (Leicester, South-East)

I should like to intervene for a few moments in this debate, because these matters are near to my heart. The hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) has referred to the Ecton Mine. Far more recently than that, in Derbyshire, the great Mill Close Mine was working between the wars producing more lead than any other lead mine in Europe. The hills in Derbyshire are still full of lead, but it is extremely difficult and expensive to get it out. Boring, of course, will not meet the case with lead. One has got to get down to the rubble and drive very hard through millstone and in many directions before one strikes the lead. Even when one does strike the lead, if the Government insist on taking so large a share of what is produced, without giving an adequate allowance for the expenditure incurred, the hope is small indeed of ever getting private enterprise to do anything at all.

Mr. Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)

I should like to add one or two words to the forceful arguments which have already been put to the House. I feel that the real importance of the subject has not yet been grasped either by the House or by the people of the country, and this is an occasion on which the Executive would do well to take heed of the opinions expressed in the House. The Attorney-General has accepted all the arguments put forward by my hon. Friends, and since his statement we have had the urgency of the matter reiterated by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan).

In view of the fact that this is a matter which strikes at an important factor in the future of this country, I suggest that now is the time for dealing with it. I feel that the explanation which the right hon. and learned Gentleman gave—that this matter could not be dealt with because there were many other recommendations of the Millard Tucker Report to consider—was a rather weak one.

This is a recommendation which stands completely on its own, and which would not affect any other proposal for implementing any other part of that Report which the Government might want to do in the near future. In order to underline the importance of this subject, I hope that the Government will have second thoughts on the matter, and will take this particular recommendation out of the Report and do something about it now.

4.30 p.m.

Sir Harold Roper (Cornwall, North)

The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) mentioned the need for prospecting for non-ferrous metals in the granite masses of Cornwall. This is a subject in which I have interested myself closely, and I have heard strong opinions expressed by experts who believe that there are great possibilities there. Some hon. Members will have heard Professor W. R. Jones, who recently addressed the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee in this House. After his address, I asked him his views about the prospects in Cornwall and he replied that tin mining in Cornwall would continue long after the main deposits in Malaya were finished. That is a very important statement and I hope that the Government Front Bench will take note of it.

Over the weekend I have been discussing wolfram with an expert who is firmly of the opinion that there is undeveloped wolfram in this country. We must not overlook this important possibility. Minerals are believed to be present, but what is holding back development more than anything else is that the pattern of taxation is wrong. Whatever the best solution may be, I hope that the Treasury Bench will consider carefully before they reject the proposed Clause.

Mr. Hayman (Falmouth and Camborne)

I should like to emphasise the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) when he said that he hoped that whatever concessions were made in the matter of taxation would be given to small companies as well, as to large ones. I believe that much of the mineral wealth of Cornwall which may still exist can best be tapped by small enterprises rather than by large ones.

Mr. H. Fraser

I am sure we are all very glad to see that the Minister of Materials-designate is now here. It might have been happier if the answer to the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) had come from—

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman cannot speak again. He has no right to make a second speech.

Mr. Fraser

In view of the unsatisfactory legal answer that we have had, I propose to divide the House on the Clause.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The House divided: Ayes, 240; Noes, 276.

Division No. 158.] AYES [4.35 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Fraser, Sir I. (Morecambe & Lonsdale)
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Colegate, A. Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell
Arbuthnot, John Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert (Ilford, S) Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Cooper-Key, E. M. Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Corbett, Lt.-Col. Uvedale (Ludlow) Gammans, L. D.
Astor, Hon. M. L. Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh)
Baker, P. A. D. Cranborne, Viscount Glyn, Sir Ralph
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M Crookshank, Capt. Rt.- Hon. H. F. C Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.
Banks, Col. C. Crouch, R. F. Gridley, Sir Arnold
Baxter, A. B. Crowder, Capt. John (Finchley) Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)
Bell, R. M. Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Grimston, Robert (Westbury)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Cundiff, F. W. Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)
Bennett, William (Woodside) Cuthbert, W. N. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)
Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Toxteth) Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Harris, Reader (Heston)
Bishop, F. P. Davidson, Viscountess Harvey, Air Codre. A. V. (Macclesfield)
Black, C. W. Davies, Nigel (Epping) Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) de Chair, Somerset Harvie-Watt, Sir George
Bossom, A. C. De la Bère, R. Head, Brig. A. H.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A Deedes, W. F. Heald, Lionel
Boyle, Sir Edward Dodds-Parker, A. D. Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W
Bracken, Rt. Hon B. Donner, P. W. Higgs, J. M. C.
Braine, B. R. Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.) Drewe, C. Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col, W. Dugdale, Maj. Sir Thomas (Richmond) Hirst, Geoffrey
Browne, Jack (Govan) Duncan, Capt. J. A. L Hope, Lord John
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Dunglass, Lord Hopkinson, Henry
Bullock, Capt. M Duthie, W. S. Hornsby-Smith, Miss P.
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Eecles, D. M. Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence
Burden, F. A. Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)
Butcher, H. W. Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E Howard, Greville (St. Ives)
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Fisher, Nigel Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)
Channon, H. Fort, R. Hudson, Rt. Hon. Robert (Southport)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W S Foster, John Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)
Hurd, A. R. Morrison, John (Salisbury) Spearman, A. C. M.
Hutchinson, Geoffrey (Ilford, N.) Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S (Cirencester) Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)
Hutchison, Col. James (Glasgow) Nabarro, G Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard (N. Fylde)
Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M. Nicholls, Harmar Stevens, G. P.
Jennings, R. Nicholson, G. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Noble, Cmdr. A. H P Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Jones, A. (Hall Green) Nugent. G. R. H. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Nutting, Anthony Storey, S.
Kerr, H. W (Cambridge) Oakshott, H. D. Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Lambert, Hon. G Odey, G. W. Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Langford-Holt, J. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Studholme, H. G.
Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Summers, G. S
Leather, E. H. C. Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N,) Sutcliffe, H.
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare) Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
Lindsay, Martin Osborne, C. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Linstead, H. N Perkins, W. R. D. Teeling, W.
Llewellyn, D. Peto, Brig. C. H M Thompson, Kenneth Pugh (Walton)
Lloyd, Rt. Hn. G. (King's Norton) Pickthorn, K. Thompson, Lt.-Cmdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Pitman, I. J. Thorneycroft, Peter (Monmouth)
Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Powell, J. Enoch Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C N.
Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C. Price, Henry (Lewisham, W) Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F
Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O Tilney, John
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Profumo, J. D. Touche, G. C.
Lucas, P. B. (Brentford) Raikes, H. V. Turner, H. F. L
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Rayner, Brig. R Turton, R. H.
McAdden, S. J. Redmayne, M. Vane, W. M. F.
McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S. Remnant, Hon. P Vosper, D. F.
Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight) Renton, D. L. M Wakefield Edward (Derbyshire, W)
Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Roberts, Maj. Peter (Heeley) Wakefield, Sir Waveil (Marylebone)
McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Robertson, Sir David (Caithness) Walker-smith, D. C.
Maclay, Hon. John Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Maclean, fitzroy Robson-Brown, W. Word, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
MacLeod, lain (Enfield, W.) Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C
Macpherson, Major Niall (Dumfries) Roper, Sir Harold
Maitland, Cmdr. J. W. Ropner, Col. L. Watkinson, H.
Manningham-Buller, R. E Russell, R. S. Wheatley, Maj. M. J. (Poole)
Marlowe, A. A. H Ryder, Capt. R. E. D. White, Baker (Canterbury)
Marples, A. E. Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Williams, Charles (Torquay)
Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin) Sandys, Rt. Hon. D. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Marshall, Sidney (Sutton) Savory, Prof. D. L. Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Maude, Angus (Ealing, S) Scott, Donald Wills, G.
Maude, John (Exeter) Smithers, Peter, (Winchester,) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Maudling, R. Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington) Winterton, Rt. Hon Earl
Medlicott, Brig F Smyth, Brig. J. G (Norwood) Wood. Hon R
Mellor, Sir John Snadden, W. McN
Molson, A H E Soames Capt C TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Major Conant and Mr. Digby.
Acland, Sir Richard Burke, W. A Dye, S.
Adams, Richard Burton, Miss E. Ede, Rt- Hon J C
Albu, A. H. Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Edelman, M.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Callaghan, L. J Edwards, John (Brighouse)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Carmichael, J. Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Castle, Mrs. B. A Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Champion, A. J Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W)
Attlee, Rt. Hon C R Chetwynd, G. R Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)
Awbery, S. S Clunie, J. Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)
Ayles, W. H. Cocks, F. S. Ewart, R.
Bacon, Miss Alice Coldrick. W Fernyhough, E.
Baird, J Collick, P. Field, Capt. W. J
Balfour, A. Cook, T. F. Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E)
Barnes, Rt. Hon A. J Cooper, Geoffrey (Middlesbrough, W.) Follick, M.
Bartley, P. Cooper, John (Doptford) Foot, M. M
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J Cove, W G. Forman, J. C
Benn, Wedgwood Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)
Benson, G. Crawley, A. Freeman, Thomas (Hamilton)
Beswick, F. Crosland, C. A. R Freeman, Peter (Newport)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Crossman, R. H. S Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N
Bing, G. H. C. Cullen, Mrs A Ganley, Mrs. C. S.
Blenkinsop, A. Daines, P. George, Lady Megan Lloyd
Blyton, W. R Dalton, Rt. Hon. H Gibson, C. W.
Boardman, H Darling, George (Hillsborough) Gitzean, A.
Booth, A. Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N) Glanville, James (Consett)
Gooch, E. G.
Bottomley, A. G Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E) Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P C.
Bowden, H. W. Davies, Harold (Leek) Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) de Freitas, Geoffrey Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield)
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Deer, G. Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.
Brockway, A. F. Delargy, H. J. Grey, C. F.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Diamond, J. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)
Brooks, T. J. (Normanton) Dodds, N. N. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D Donnelly, D. Griffiths, W. (Manchester Exchange)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) Gunter, R. J.
Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading, N.) Simmons, C. J.
Hale, Joseph (Rochdale) McLeavy, F. Slater, J.
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) McNeil, Rt. Hon. H. Snow, J. W.
Hall, John (Gateshead, W.) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Sorensen, R. W.
Hamilton, W. W. Mainwaring, W. H. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Hannan, W. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Sparks, J. A.
Hardy, E. A. Mann, Mrs. Jean Steele, T.
Hargreaves, A Manuel, A. C. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E)
Hastings, S. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H A Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R
Hayman, F. H. Mathers, Rt. Hon. G Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis) Mayhew, C. P Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Hewitson, Capt. M. Mellish, R. J. Stross, Dr. Barnett
Hobson, C. R Messer, F. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith
Holman, P. Middleton, Mrs L Sylvester, G. O.
Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth) Mikardo, Ian. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Houghton, D. Mitchison, G R Taylor, Robert (Morpeth)
Hoy, J. Moeran, E. W Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Hubbard, T Monslow, W. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Moody, A. S. Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Morley, R. Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Morrison, Rt Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.) Thurtle, Ernest
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Mort, D. L. Timmons, J.
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Moyle, A. Tomney, F.
Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Mulley, F. W Turner-Samuels, M.
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Nally, W. Usborne, H.
Janner, B. Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Vernon, W. F.
Jay, D. P. T. Oldfield, W. H. Viant, S. P.
Jeger, George (Goole) Oliver, G. H. Wade, D. W.
Jenkins, R. H. Orbach, M. Wallace, H. W.
Johnson, James (Rugby) Padley, W. E Watkins, T. E.
Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Paget, R. T. Webb, Rt. Hon. M (Bradford, C.)
Jones, David (Hartlepool) Paling, Rt. Hon. W (Dearne Valley) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Pannell, T. C Wells, William walsall
Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Parker, J West, D. G.
Jones, William Elwyn (Conway) Paton, J. Wheatley, Rt. Hn. John (Edinb'gh, E.)
Keenan, W. Pearson, A. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Kenyon, C. Peart, T. F. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W Popplewell, E Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
King, Dr. H. M. Porter, G.
Kinghorn, Son. Ldr. E Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton) Wigg, G.
Kinley, J. Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Lang, Gordon Proctor, W. T Willey, Frederick (Sunderland)
Lee, Frederick (Newton) Pryde, D. J. Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) [...]rsey, Cmdr. H Williams, David (Neath)
Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Rankin, J. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Rees, Mrs. D. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Lewis, John (Bolton, W.) Reeves, J. Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Lindgren, G. S. Reid, Thomas (Swindon) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Logan, D. G. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Longden, Fred (Small Heath) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Woodburn, Rt. Hon A
MacColl, J. E. Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) Wyatt, W. L.
McGhee, H. G Shackleton, E. A. A. Yates, V. F.
McGovern, J. Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Younger, Rt Hon K
McInnes, J. Shurmer, P. L. E.
Mack, J. D. Silverman, Julius (Erdington) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
McKay, John (Wallsend) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Mr. Wilkins and Mr. Royle.