§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, I am going to ask you to give a Second Reading to a Bill which I think I can rightly describe as non-controversial. It has the approval of employers and employed in the cotton trade, and it has the approval 212 of His Majesty's Government. It passed through all its stages in one day in the House of Commons, which, I think, in the present Parliament probably constitutes a record. I have very few words to say in urging your Lordships' acceptance of this Bill. There is, however, one point which I should like to make. There are two bodies, if I may so call them, concerned with the better growing of cotton within His Majesty's Dominions, and I want to prevent there being any question of the two being considered together, for they are perfectly separate, although both have the same object and many of the same people are, no doubt, on the governing bodies of each. The British Cotton Growing Association, the older of the two societies that I have mentioned, is a body whose funds consist of moneys subscribed by employers and employed alike, and I want distinction to be made between the two because this British Cotton Growing Association is one which, although it makes no profits in the way of dividends, at the same time does the marketing of cotton and has made a very considerable sum of money which has gone in its turn to help the cotton trade.
The other, the Empire Cotton Growing Corporation, is quite a different body. It is one entirely for research and the money for that purpose is found by a dual grant. There was a grant from His Majesty's Government of, roughly speaking, a million pounds, which was made with the stipulation that money should be found equally by the cotton trade. This was done by a levy of sixpence on every 500 lb. bale of cotton. At first it was voluntary, but it was found that a certain number of firms stood out and therefore by Act of Parliament it was made a compulsory levy for five years. The Act which made the levy compulsory has now expired and in order to retain the residue of the million pounds granted by His Majesty's Government, it is necessary that we should renew the measure. After due consideration and consultation with His Majesty's Government and others, it has been decided that instead of sixpence per bale threepence per bale would be sufficient. The object of this Bill is to carry on the old work and to give effect to the compulsory levying of this money on the cotton industry. It is agreed to by the vast majority of cotton spinners, and I venture to think that the good work that 213 the Corporation is doing is recognised by them as I know it is by His Majesty's Government. I therefore ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading to this Bill.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Derby.)
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
My Lords, I wish to say one word on behalf of the Government. My noble friend has justly said that this Bill has the approval of His Majesty's Government. The general effect is to extend the provisions of the Cotton Industry Act of 1923, which imposed, as he said, a levy of sixpence per 500 lb. bale of cotton. That levy is now to be reduced to threepence, but I think you will feel that under the conditions now prevailing threepence will be quite enough to levy. Everybody knows the admirable work in research and cotton growing which has been done by this Corporation and I hope your Lordships will give the Bill a Second Reading unanimously.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.