HL Deb 14 June 1932 vol 84 cc825-41

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Viscount Hailsham.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[The EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.]

Clause 1:

Continuance of Part 1of 20 & 21 Geo. 5. c. 34 and of s. 1 of 21 & 22 Geo. 5. c. 27.

1.—(1) Part I of the Coal Mines Act, 1930 (which is limited to expire on the thirty-first day of December, nineteen hundred and thirty-two), shall continue in force until the thirty-first day of December, nineteen hundred and thirty-seven, and no longer unless Parliament otherwise determines; and, accordingly, in Section ten of that Act, for the words "nineteen hundred and thirty-two" there shall be substituted the words "nineteen hundred and thirty-seven."

EARL PEEL moved, in subsection (1), to substitute "nineteen hundred and thirty-five" for "nineteen hundred and thirty-seven." The noble Earl said: I think the purpose of my Amendment is very clear on the face of it, and that is, to reduce the period for which the operation of Part I of the Act is prolonged from five years to three years. I am encouraged in moving this Amendment by some observations which fell from the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Hailsham, who is in charge of the Bill. When speaking on the Second Reading he told us that His Majesty's Government will be prepared to consider—I do not say accept Amendments, but prepared to consider any argument brought forward to convince them that the period, which so far they think is the best one, can for any good reason be extended or shortened. It is quite clear that when he made that statement the mind of the Government was still open on that question of the period, and I wish to put before him one or two points which I hope will persuade him that the shorter period is the better. No doubt he has considered that question in the interval, especially during the little holiday he took lately on the Irish Sea.

I admit, of course, that the temptation to the Government, or any Government, to prolong the period to five years is a considerable one. The effect of five years is that this, from the point of view of the Government, or any Government, very troublesome question, is postponed till the next Government. The Government are able to shake themselves free of the question, so far as they can, and I dare say they feel that it is a very great thing to push one of these ugly questions overboard when they have so many other questions to consider. I am not sure, however, that they will succeed in what they are aiming at, because I do not quite agree with what he said, that possibly in any other country it would have been very difficult to have got any undertaking for keeping up wages for another twelve months. We know that there is a discrepancy between the period of price fixing and wage fixing, and therefore I do not think we can expect that this matter will not be brought up again another twelve months from now. I submit that there is a great advantage, when we have a coalition Government, in trying to make a permanent settlement of this question, instead of allowing it to lap over to some future Government five years hence, of which we do not know the composition.

Moreover, one would like to ask the Government this. They are trying to make this Act as permanent as they can. After all, all a Government can do is to say: "We decline to deal with a matter in a Statute again during our period of office." Do the Government and your Lordships really think that the working of this Act has been so successful, and the methods which have been introduced into the management of coal mines are so useful that they may become a permanent part of this industry, and that a precedent may also be set for other industries? We have not heard very much here of the objections to that system, but we all know they have been amply stated in another place and in other quarters. I will only refer to them in passing, because so many of them are familiar to your Lordships. But is it really considered to be a useful and permanent part of the State that we should have the great coal mining industry literally quartered, as it is, upon all the industries of the country? Is it really a right thing that these district committees should be able to fix the price of coal? Is all this immense machinery for dividing up quotas, for settling the standard amounts, and so on desirable? And is this traffic in the right to produce coal, which you do not want to produce, and is the sale of these certificates really a desirable thing in the management of the coal industry, or of any other business in this country?

After all, it produces great difficulties for the consumers, quite apart from the question of price. They find great difficulties owing to the operation of the quota system, especially if their demands for coal are rather small—difficulties in getting their supplies properly given to them, and all sorts of difficulties with waggons, which, taken together, make up a very hazardous and rather troublesome matter for those who are purchasing coal. We might say that these things were tolerable if we were convinced that this was only a temporary method. We have every sympathy with the coal industry, and we know quite well that its troubles are very largely due to the constant interference of Parliament with the whole system. I admit all that; but that ought not to blind us to the fact that we are really deciding to-night whether this system, with all its defects, should be made, as far as Parliament can possibly make it, a permanent part of the management of the coal industry, or whether we should say: "No, this is an experimental phase; we will not allow the business to go on for more than another three years without revision." Because, after all, if a revision has been renewed by one Parliament, and has survived two Elections, I am quite certain that a considerable body of opinion will rise up and say: "Oh, you cannot disturb this now. All these interests have got settled. Why, look at this system of selling certificates —it is part of the market business of the country, and it must not be disturbed by any Government." Therefore we have, I think, to look from a very different angle upon a system which is merely a temporary system, invented to get the coal industry out of great difficulties, as compared with a system which is to be regarded as a more permanent part of the industry of the country itself.

In listening to the speech of the noble and learned Viscount I was very much struck by the almost exclusive interest he took in the views of the coal industry itself. He talked about the views of the owners, about the views of the miners, about the views of the merchants and of the retailers, but we did not hear anything at all about the large consumers or the small industries—in fact, about the whole of the industries which are dependent upon coal. I have in my hand, having received it since I put down this Amendment, a rather remarkable letter from the Joint Conference of Public Utility Associations. This body represents the electricity, gas, water and tramways interests of the country, which consume about 28,000,000 tons of coal per annum. They strongly support the Amendment, and I may perhaps summarise one or two of the arguments which they advance. They point out that this Bill will increase the cost of living in every home by raising the price of coal, gas, and electricity. They point out how it will affect our export industries—and surely the value of the exports of our export industries is many times greater than the value of the export of coal. They point out that it will have the effect of keeping in business low grade mines which might be closed, and of checking the efficiency of the better mines. They point out that the Bill is really a subsidy to one form of fuel over another and, above all, in that tremendous contest that is going on between coal and oil, it is oil which will have preferential treatment and which will be able to gain over its dwindling rival.

It is rather interesting, in this connection, to observe that, while a few years ago unrestricted competition was supposed to be the salvation of the State, there hardly seems to be anybody now who comes forward in favour of free competition in the case of coal. The noble and learned Viscount said he was advised that about 2s. a ton would be the amount by which the price of coal would fall if there were free competition, and if this Act came to an end. Looking at the way in which our industries have been able to keep their heads above water—so far as they have done—during the last two or three years, one can see that it has been due to one cause, and one cause only, and that is that the price of all raw materials has been so abnormally low. They have in many cases fallen to 25 or 30 per cent. of what they were four or five years ago. If you take the metal industry and the great textile industries, like cotton, wool and jute, it is only through these knock-out prices for their raw materials that businesses have been able to maintain themselves.

Now this, I imagine, is only a temporary situation Everybody is asking that the prices of raw materials should rise and should go back at least to the level of 1928. Besides that, we have a large number of financial doctors, professors of economics, and so on, who are constantly speaking of what they do not like to call inflation—they christen it by some other alias like "reflation"—but at any rate all tending towards a rise of prices. It is clear, therefore, that though industries may be able to bear better to-day a rise in the cost of coal because of this particular situation, it is not at all certain that this is going to obtain during the next five years. I therefore submit that it is a very dangerous thing to allow the price of coal to be fixed for the next five years, when it may have a far greater influence on the prosperity of other industries because the prices of other raw materials may have risen. Noble Lords are very well aware that we trade nowadays on very small margins indeed and it may well be, if you tie your hands in this respect, that you may find that your industries are suffering because of that 2s. or 3s.—or it may be more—addition to the price of coal beyond the price that would have had to be paid if the coal industry was a little more free. May I suggest also that it may be that the extra price of coal, stereotyped through five years and perhaps raised in five years, may be the one thing which prevents the industries of this country from making those large demands for coal which would be the very thing that would absorb the people who are at present unemployed in the coal industry? I submit that it is rash and unwise so far to anticipate the future as to fix the price of one of the great raw materials which is mostly used for industry.

There is one other argument on which this increase of time to five years has been advocated, and that is founded upon the work of the Organisation or Amalgamation Commission which has been going about the country. We have just had the benefit of seeing the Report of that Commission, and the members seem to think that they have not been, as everyone knows they have not been, extremely successful in persuading people in the coal trade to amalgamate, but they say—and they use what is almost the language of menace—that now they may be prepared to make use of their compulsory powers. I am glad to say they also observe that they are not in favour of very large amalgamations. I am glad of that because, as your Lordships know, the history of large amalgamations in industry during the last few years has been singularly unfortunate. I think everyone would agree that those large amalgamations have been pressed too far. While I do not pretend in any sense to be an expert on the coal industry, I have some knowledge of other industries, and I cannot myself believe that compulsory amalgamation can be of very much value. You may look at prices, you may look at contiguous coal mines, you may look at all sorts of things, but so much depends on the history of a particular industry, and very much on the personalities of the people who are engaged in running that industry, and I do not believe compulsory amalgamation made against the will of an industry can be of much value. Therefore I discount as one of the reasons for having this measure for five years the fact that it will give five more years for these gentlemen to practise their beneficent operations.

On those grounds I urge the adoption of the Amendment. The main ground which I would press upon your Lordships is that with the terrible uncertainty which faces us in regard to matters of trade, with everything in the melting pot, with loans repudiated, with disturbances in other countries, with difficulties abroad and so on, it really is very unwise to fix one element in the management of our industries at this time of day and to say that for the next five years we are to be precluded from dealing with it. I submit that it would be much wiser to fix three years, which is a fairly long period. At the end of that time this Government, which has probably a life of three or four years, may have the opportunity of dealing with it, and of dealing with it as an experienced Government, instead of leaving it to be dealt with by some new Government which may have to tackle it in the first years of its existence. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 10, leave out ("thirty-seven") and insert ("thirty-five").—(Earl Peel.)


As the noble Earl has truly said, I expressed my willingness on the Second Reading to listen attentively to any arguments which might be adduced to induce the Government to change the opinion which it had formed that five years was the right period for the extension of this Part of the Act. I have listened to the arguments of my noble friend, and nobody who has worked with him, as I have, will doubt that he has put the strongest case that it is possible to put in favour of the change; but, having listened very attentively and very carefully to what he has said, I hope he will forgive me when I say he has not succeeded in convincing me, and I hope he has not succeeded in convincing the majority of your Lordships' House.

To deal at once with one or two very minor matters, I would remind your Lordships that what we are discussing this afternoon is not whether or not Part I of the Coal Mines Act, 1930, should be continued. We are accepting that there should be a continuation, and the only question raised on this Amendment is whether the continuation shall be for three years, to the end of 1935, or for five years, to the end of 1937. My noble friend said that the object of the Government was to push off the decision as to what is to happen when that Act comes to an end to another Government, because, said he, at the end of four years this Government must come to an end. Will he forgive me for saying I make no such assumption? I do not see any reason why this Government should come to an end in four years. This Parliament may come to an end in four years, but, if we conduct the affairs of the country with the same prudence as I trust we are showing in asking for the continuation of this Act for this period, I hope that when the four years are finished a grateful country will renew our mandate and give us more opportunities of giving settled rule to the country. At any rate I am not arguing this on the basis that whenever Parliament comes to an end this Government is, of necessity, doomed.

I would like to tell your Lordships why it is that we think the period which is proposed is the right period. They are really reasons which arise out of the grounds upon which we have asked for any continuation—grounds which, I gather, have met with general acceptance. The first ground is this, that in the judgment of the Government there has been too much Parliamentary interference with the mining industry in the past, and we are not anxious to encourage Parliamentary interference with that industry in the future. There was made on the Second Reading a very powerful speech by my noble friend Lord Crawford—I am not sure whether he is present this afternoon—in which he laid a great many of the losses from which the industry is suffering at the door of Par- liament, because, he said, successive Governments and successive Houses of Parliament had insisted on legislating and interfering with the management of the industry, and in that way had so unsettled it and had so disturbed its due administration that it had become almost impossible to carry it on. We are desirous not to interfere more than is absolutely necessary with this industry, and whereas we are expecting that Part I of the existing Coal Mines Act will come to an end, if our proposals be accepted, five years hence, we are not suggesting that when that five years elapses and when that period is reached it will be necessary to pass a new Act again interfering in some different way with the industry.

On the contrary, we believe that if a reasonable opportunity be given to the coal owners and to the workers in the industry to get together, to reorganise, to rearrange their methods and to enter into voluntary arrangements of their own, it may very well be that when the five years have gone there will have been sufficient time for the coal owners to have devised a voluntary system which will be fair to the industry as a whole and will not necessitate any further Parliamentary interference. I observe that in the debate in Committee in another place a member who has deservedly a very high place in the counsels of that Chamber and great experience of this industry, Sir Geoffrey Ellis, as he now is, said: This is the first time that the coal owners as such have been given any stability to get on with their own suggestions for the improvement of the trade. It may be the last time that they will get that opporunity, but it is not right for the Committee to-day to put any obstacle in the way of giving them that opportunity. If they do not take the opportunity, then the judgment will be on their own heads. I believe that is a very true statement of the position. We are anxious to give such a measure of stability as will enable the coal owners to make such reorganisation and such alteration as will, I hope, in the future render it unnecessary for Parliament to intervene. If we are going to do that, then surely five years is none too long an interval to allow.

There are other minor reasons, but I think they ought to be mentioned. At present, unfortunately, there is no doubt that a considerable amount of evasion is taking place with regard to the provisions of the existing Act. The President of the Board of Trade said that he had himself come across a number of instances where, not of course the majority of the coal owners, who have quite loyally acted fairly to one another, but where some individuals had succeeded in evading the provisions of the Act by such methods as the manipulation of freights, or the combination of sales of coke with sales of coal, or by similar means had got round the terms of the Act and the prices which are fixed in the Act. At present some at any rate of the coal owners, according to the President of the Board of Trade, whose business it is to know these things, think that the attempt to bring pressure to bear on these isolated individuals would create a degree of ill-feeling and friction and would expose them to an amount of dislike and criticism which would render it not worth while if the Act was soon coming to an end. Coal owners, after all, are the people who have to frame these schemes in the first instance and administer them, and they have a number of amendments which they are discussing, some of which they are likely to wish to incorporate in their schemes. They desire a sufficient time to enable these amendments to be carefully worked out and they desire them to be enacted at a time when it is still worth while to do it and when it would give full time for them to have effect before any change takes place.

My noble friend has said—this, I think he said, was his main argument—that it is very unwise in existing circumstances, when industry is in such a difficult situation, to fix the price of so essential a commodity as coal for such a long period as five years in advance. Of course, my noble friend did not quite mean that. He knows very well that this Act does not fix prices for five years.


I said gives the power, I think.


What is done, subject to the appeals which he and I were so careful to get incorporated in the Act when we were discussing it two years ago—the appeals of the consumers and others—is to give power to the districts to frame schemes fixing output and minimum prices. My noble friend says that he hopes and, I gather, anticipates—I hope anticipates—that prices of raw material will be going up in the course of the next few years. I hope that will be so. I think it is generally conceded that prices now are too low and that that is one cause at least of our present economic difficulties. If that happens, can anyone think that the price of coal will remain stationary? It will be much easier at any rate to maintain the price than at present. I would like your Lordships to realise what would happen if prices are no longer fixed and this regulation no longer prevails. I am speaking from memory, but I think the figures are substantially correct, when I say that there is demand now for 220,000,000 tons of coal. There is a potential output of something like 300,000,000 tons. Suppose people have 300,000,000 tons of coal to sell and there is a demand for 220,000,000 tons, what sort of drop in prices would you get? The drop would not be proportionate to the difference between those two figures, because when supply outruns demand everybody who has goods to supply wants to have his particular goods used. The result is that prices are cut and cut, and the drop in price is disproportionate altogether to the amount of the excess supply.

In the old days it was preached and believed in this country that the one thing that mattered was cheapness, that the one thing we ought to aim at was unrestricted competition. I had hoped that my noble friend was with me in, regarding that as an exploded heresy and that there are other things to think of besides cheapness. Suppose you succeeded by bringing about unrestricted competition in effecting—as you undoubtedly would effect—a substantial reduction in the price of coal. It would be a reduction which would not help our industry as opposed to foreign industry, because a great proportion of our coal output is an export trade, and it is the export trade which would probably get at least as much of the advantage as the domestic trade. In all probability it would get more of the advantage since there is more competition in foreign markets than there is even at home. Let it be taken to be the same. There would be a tremendous fall in prices which would cheapen for us and for our competitors the cost of fuel. What would happen to the industry? At present the miners are getting a wage which I think nobody suggests is high and which certainly nobody suggests is too high. At present coal owners are carrying on their industry practically without profit in any case, and in many cases carrying on at an actual loss and finding out of their own pockets money to make up the minimum wage for the miners, so that they shall not throw people out of employment and intensify distress which unhappily is already too prevalent.

You cannot cut prices without disastrous consequences to coal owners and miners alike, and disastrous consequences the limit of which it would be very difficult to measure. It is to avoid that sort of catastrophe that we have thought it right to continue this measure for a limited period, in order that in this time of stress there may be—not any exploitation of the consumer, which nobody suggests is taking place; but in order that there may be maintenance of such a price as will give at any rate the possibility of keeping the collieries open without inflicting an impossible loss upon their owners, and of keeping wage levels steady at a time when they have unfortunately already dropped to too low a figure. In the judgment of the Government it would be a disaster for the mining industry if this control were suddenly removed at too early a date. We believe it is not unreasonable to give them that stability, for which Sir Geoffrey Ellis pleaded, for a period of five years. We decline altogether to assume that at the end of that five years fresh Parliamentary interference will be necessary, but, if Parliamentary interference were necessary, then the longer it is put off the better. On all those grounds, which I hope are reasonable grounds, the Government feel that the period which they have fixed is the right period and I would ask your Lordships, if my noble friend remains unconvinced, to support the Government in the view they have formed.


I listened to the speech of the noble Viscount with great interest and have been much impressed by the statements he has made. I have always been against Government interference in the industries of the country. I have always thought it better to leave them in the hands of those people who have been trained in them and who understand them, for a Government, no doubt, must be largely influenced by political considerations. Take our own case in Durham and Northumberland. We used to deal with our own men direct, and any difficulty that arose with regard to wages or any question about the working of the mine was dealt with in the locality by proper committees representing both the masters and the men. But, as soon as the Miners' Federation was formed, they began to see that it would be much better for them to deal with the politicians than with the employers. The result has been that they have taken away most of our communications with the men in our own localities, and matters have now to be settled up in London. Our chief managers have now to spend most of their time every week in dealing with questions in connection with the Miners' Federation.

I am bound to say that I was surprised when my noble friend accused the Government of looking forward to making this a permanent Bill. I look upon it as a Bill which will only last for a certain time. I do not believe in legislation by instalments. It has a very bad effect and I am quite sure that, as time goes on, the public, the Government, and the workmen themselves—if they have any say in the matter—will be only too glad to hand matters back to be dealt with by the miners and owners themselves. Only those who are connected with the industry know the difficulties that there are in working coal. I was very glad indeed to find that the late Minister of Mines and the present Minister of Mines, Mr. Foot, took the opportunity of going through the various coal fields to get some information with regard to this great industry with which they were dealing. I feel sure that they changed many of their views with regard to this question. They found that the difficulties were very hard to surmount and it made them very much more moderate in dealing with the owners.

This industry is at present in an abnormal condition. I should be sorry to think that this Bill was going to become a permanent measure because, to a large extent, it would prevent us from working our industries in the way we should in order to compete with the foreign producer. I have always believed in competition. Competition is a good Wholesome thing both for the competitors and for those who benefit from it. But there are times, such as the present time, when competition will do more harm than good. Notwithstanding this legislation, I find that many contracts which we have been accustomed to make have gone to our competitors, even at lower prices than the prices fixed. How it is done I am not prepared to say, although I have my own opinion on this matter. If we shorten the life of this measure, it will have a very bad effect on the industry of this country. Most contracts in connection with coal are made for twelve months and are very often made three or six months before they come into operation. What is the result? If there is any uncertainty, they will not deal with the British producer but with the foreign producer. I have lost contracts for many thousands of tons because of the uncertainty which exists with regard to the future of this industry.

I am very glad to find that the Government intend to insist on the five years. It is beneficial to the industry and I feel sure that, as time goes on, we shall find flaws in connection with this measure, flaws which ought to be remedied. One of the chief objects of the original measure was to prevent one district competing with another. That is not being completely carried out. There are some districts which are cutting in and taking orders from other districts. Can one be surprised when there are orders for 70,000,000 or 80,000,000 tons less than we can produce? Naturally, the great object is to get more coal and more sales, because it pays to reduce the cost of production. If one district takes orders from another, the one district is penalised while the other becomes more profitable. The producer who sells for home consumption only has an advantage because he is getting a higher price than is obtained for export coal. If he uses that higher price in order to get export trade, he does his neighbour a very serious wrong. I quite agree with what was said by the noble Viscount who has just spoken, that it would be very much better if we could prevent this and if we could have some means of insisting upon the Act being carried out fairly and with consideration for everybody.

I am sorry I was not present at the Second Reading of this Bill for I should have liked to have spoken upon it, but, being an invalid, I was unable to do so. I hope that the Government will stick to the period of five years because it is beneficial not only to the industry but to the consumers who benefit from it. I hope that, as time goes on, we shall find this Bill being properly worked and very beneficial, and that after the five years the industry will be handed back to those accustomed to manage it.


Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to say a brief word in reply to the speech of the noble and learned Viscount. I am sorry that I have not had as much support as I had hoped, because there is no question that the feeling in the country is very different to the feeling on this subject in this House. I do not in the least repent that I am here representing in your Lordships' House what is a very widespread feeling in the country. The noble Viscount says that he thinks this Government is going to be immortal—going to last, I think he said, over the next Parliament. I am a little more sceptical myself about the vitality of the Government. No doubt we hope it may be so. He also said that he thought Parliament should not interfere with industry. I applaud again the sentiment, but this Bill is as great an interference with the action or freedom of industry as any Bill could be. He also referred to free competition, but my argument went much further. I was criticising all those defects in this Bill and asking whether they are going to be fixed and part of the industry of this country, and whether they are going to set a precedent for other industries. There is no more skilled debater than my noble and learned friend and if he had had an answer to that I am sure he would have given it, but he passed the question by and left my criticisms unanswered. I do not know now what is the mind of the Government regarding the merits and defects of this particular Bill.

I also asked whether in the mind of the Government this was regarded as a temporary or permanent measure. The answer of the noble Viscount is clear and the result of it is that it leads inevitably to the conclusion that this should be regarded as a permanent measure, because he asked what would happen now if you took off this system. He said that you have now 220,000,000 tons required and a producing capacity of something like 300,000,000 and there is therefore an immense gap. If that is the argument it is an argument that is likely to stay. Do any of us suppose that with the enormous competition of all the different forms of power, the demand for coal is really going to increase so much that it is likely to bridge the gap between the productive capacity and what is required of the product? I do not wish to put your Lordships to the trouble of a Division, but I regret that the Government have made up their minds on the subject. The truth is that the Government generally make up their minds before measures come into this House and it is extremely difficult when matters have been settled in another place for your Lordships to have any effect on legislation. I therefore do not wish to press my Amendment further. I only regret that the noble and learned Viscount has not been more persuadable.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill?


On this Question I want to deal with two points. One has some relevance to the argument we have just heard from the noble Earl who moved the Amendment. He has criticised the operation of Part I of the Act and pointed out that in the opinion of a great number of people outside this House the work carried on under that provision is not satisfactory. The coal owners admit that Part I has not been a complete success and they are considering what amendments should be sought from Parliament in connection with the provision. I expect that in due course suggestions will come from them and will be submitted to Parliament for confirmation by Resolution under the terms of the Act of 1930, so that the public may realise that so far as Part I has not been a success up to the present there is a prospect of improving it by Resolutions passed by both Houses on the initiation of the Central Council or the district boards under the Mines Act.

The other point has reference to some little misunderstanding which I think occurred on the Second Reading debate as to the draft Convention referred to in the Bill. I criticised that draft Convention and even the noble and learned Viscount in charge of the Bill also stated that it would require some modification. I objected to the inclusion of the reference to the Convention in the Bill, not because I am opposed to the principle of the Convention but I am opposed to that particular Convention in its present form as prejudicial to national interests. If we can regulate hours of labour in the coal mines on a uniform system throughout Europe and in the States of America we shall accomplish a great deal to secure fair competition between nation and nation. Conditions as well as wages ought to be revised with a view to securing fair treatment. If we have uniformity of hours, pay and conditions we are all confident that British labour and industry will look very well after itself after such an international agreement has been reached.

In a debate which occurred rather more than two years ago in the House of Commons dealing with improving the standard of labour on international lines, the late Mr. William Graham gave a somewhat prophetic warning of the dangers connected with these Conventions. He said: Even when you have got agreement there is a danger, as we all know, on the part of certain countries of failure to observe rules or else such exceptions are driven into the rules that a nominal agreement becomes a very unreal one. That is a state of affairs with which every student of this problem is familiar. Therefore, when I criticised the Convention which is named in the second subsection of Clause 1 of this Bill, I did it having in mind the possibility of those evasions, and what I want to impress upon the Government is that in the event of ratification of this Convention they must not only see that evasions are not possible in the terms, but that means are taken to enforce obedience by every signatory. It is that point which I regard as a very important one and which I want to emphasise before we reach the Third Reading of this Bill.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment.