HL Deb 22 November 1932 vol 86 cc4-41

The King's Speech reported by the LORD CHANCELLOR.


My Lords, I beg to move that an humble Address be presented to His Majesty in reply to the gracious Speech from the Throne. In doing so I desire in the first place to express my deep appreciation of the honour that the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House has done me in selecting me for the task. I have had little experience either in your Lordships' House or elsewhere and I feel particularly the burden of that inexperience when I have to deal with a gracious Speech which deals not only with the affairs of England but with the affairs of the whole world. However inexperienced one may be, however, it is not difficult to realise the immense importance which must attach to the forthcoming World Economic Conference, because one can see only in that Conference an escape from the present chaos which we call the world depression.

That depression and that chaos have been deliberately brought about by the actions of the Governments of the world. You all know what they have done. You all know of the fantastic tariff barriers, the War Debts, Reparations and trade restrictions of all kinds which have been a feature of international economic life for the last ten years. We can hardly conceive of a more sorry record of selfish- ness, cowardice and incompetence. England, I am happy to say, in those ten years has nothing to be ashamed of, England has steadily and without ceasing endeavoured, by her banking policy and her policy generally, to save the world, even at the expense of the end of her own resources, from the inevitable consequences which everyone knew must follow from the actions of the various Governments in the world. So I think it is particularly appropriate that England should take a leading part in this forthcoming Conference. I hope that in taking that part she will not allow the Conference to be fogged by side issues. There are only two main issues to be decided the stability of the commodity value of money, and the immediate issue of the raising of wholesale prices throughout the world. And surely as a creditor country the policy of England should steadily be by raising prices to enable debtor countries to ease the difficulties of their exchange and at the same time to pay their debts in the only way in which they can ultimately be paid—in goods and services. That is the world problem.

But we must not forget that England has her own problem to face and it is a much more permanent problem. When things get very bad internationally cooperation is bound eventually to save the situation. England has to face the much more deep-rooted problem that she has two and three quarter millions of unemployed persons in this country. We talk a great deal about the slump being the reason for those unemployed. I am afraid we have to face a more unpleasant fact and that is that, owing to causes outside our own control and outside the social system under which we live, there are factors like the depletion of natural resources which mean that even in gold times we are going to have a permanent. number of unemployed up to about a million. I call that a terrible thought to which to look forward in the next three years. The Unemployment Insurance Fund, as it was first constituted, sever contemplated such a possibility. It, was intended to tide over a period between unemployment and certain reemployment, and I welcome in the gracious Speech the statement that the Government, in recognising the situation, intend to take steps by altering the basis of the Fund to meet the situation.

If I might make a contribution of my own, for we must somehow get over this problem, it seems to me there is only one way, and that is not by going on only with the old industries, but by starting new ones. If we can only get one invention, such as the hydrogenation of coal, we may be doing a great deal, as Sir Thomas Gilchrist did in other days, to alter the whole course of the world. I therefore hope that whatever economies the Government, feel bound to make they will not try to economise upon, but will help forward in every possible way, the scientific research which may give us another start comparable to that in the nineteenth century.

There is also mention in the gracious Speech of a subject which is equally dear to our hearts and to the hearts of those who have known the horrors of war and have seen the victories of peace. I refer to disarmament. The Disarmament Conference carries with it, the earnest hopes and prayers of every sane man and woman in this kingdom. Our own proposals are lucid and far reaching and I would urge upon the Government that we must have, as well as disarmament, security of some kind. We have neither the means nor the inclination to enter into further commitments, military or naval. We have the means, if we have the inclination, to enter into economic commitments, and I cannot help believing that were it quite certain that England had definitely said, that an aggressor nation was going to be boycotted by England, that would be a tremendous help towards world peace. I am sure that nothing would prevent a crisis more than that a nation should know that she would be automatically boycotted by the world's largest customer and by a country that controls so largely banking and financial policy. I therefore trust that it will be seriously considered in the Government's next proposals for world peace.

Finally, I come to the subject which is perhaps the most important the Government will have to deal with this Session —the subject of India. I would like to congratulate the Government most wholeheartedly on the way in which they have continued the policy laid down by pre- vious Governments. They have on the one hand repressed extra-constitutional pressure and on the other advanced to meet Indian opinion. The results of the first branch of that policy are satisfactory. Except for Bengal, India is quiet, but I think we should only be deluding ourselves if we believe that, because India is quiet, India is satisfied. There is still going on in India, and any trade returns will prove it, a silent boycott—that attitude which does not express itself in murder, riot or civil disobedience, but simply in the fact that a man will not buy British goods, and in that way shows the bitterness and suspicion which, as I think wrongly, characterises the Indian attitude to us. I am sure we all hope that the Conference will be a great success. No one can underrate the difficulties of its task. It has to take the known constitutions of the world and fit them to the Indian and on top to incorporate those safeguards upon which Parliament so rightly insists. Nevertheless, I think we can say with some confidence, not only with regard to the character of the personnel but with regard to the conditions of its working, that we can look forward to success, and I earnestly hope for that success, because it is impossible to disguise the fact that in the event of failure our friends in India, and His Majesty's Government would find themselves in a very difficult position.

In conclusion I would urge His Majesty's Government to make it as clear as is humanly possible that when we say responsibilities with safeguards we mean exactly what those words say; that they are not words incorporated in order to allay fears but that really there must be certain provisions in order to keep safe our vast responsibilities in India. In particular there are financial safeguards. The credit of a country is at any moment a delicate and dangerous thing to tamper with, and at this moment, when credit hardly exists anywhere, there is the gravest danger in transferring such a subject. In this case, of course, time is with us. Even with the best will in the world it is hard to believe that the India Bill can be got through for two years, and then, with any luck, we can look forward in time to restored prosperity, and with markets in such a state that it will be easily possible for us, providing the safe- guards we put in the Bill are secured, to hand over finance to the control of India. The past Session has been a very tiring and difficult one for the Government, and I earnestly hope that the ensuing Session will be equally successful. I beg to move.

Moved, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty as followeth—

"Most Gracious Sovereign.—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."


My Lords, it is only with the knowledge that your Lordships are famous for the qualities of patience and forbearance with inexperienced speakers that I venture to second this Motion, which has been so ably moved by the noble Marquess. I would like to express my thanks to the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of this House for according me that privilege, and I do not think it would be out of place, for a moment, if with the very greatest respect I venture to express your Lordships' hearty congratulations to the noble and learned Viscount not only on his able and successful leadership of this House but also on the very valuable services which he has rendered to his country, both at the recent Conference at Ottawa and in other spheres of activity.

A year ago the people of this country returned the National Government to power with no uncertain voice, and with a very free and wide mandate. It is hardly necessary for me to remind your Lordships that that mandate was to consider and discuss, and if considered advisable to put into operation, any measure, without exception, which would tend towards remedying the adverse balance of our trade and would encourage the prosperity of this country. If we consider the position now, and compare it with what it was a year ago, I think we can safely say that His Majesty's Government have made a very fine and far-reaching start to carry out that mandate. By adopting the policy of protecting both our home and our overseas markets the Government have not only gone a very long way towards remedying the adverse position of our trade balance, but they have given a genuine opportunity to the industries of this country, of which at the moment there are very definite indications that our industries are taking full advantage.

The proportion of our imports to our exports is considerably better and continues to improve month after month, and it is very satisfying, if we look at the figures for October, to see that our exports increased by no less than 16 per cent. over those for the previous month. A very good guide to the position of the nation's trade, and also to the amount of money in circulation, can be obtained from the bank clearances in the provinces, and the latest figures available definitely show that those figures have risen to the extent of some £27,000,000 for the period from January 1 to the middle of November of this year, as compared with the corresponding period last year. In the coal industry the reports are more and more favourable, and recently considerable new and very valuable orders have been received, both from our overseas Dominions and from foreign countries. The iron and steel trade is showing considerably more activity, and eves our British shipping, which has had a terribly bad time, is improving, and there are fewer British ships lying idle than there were a short time ago. The cotton industry has definitely regained many lost overseas markets and the prospects there also are getting brighter.

I do not mean to insinuate that the situation is in any way satisfactory yet, but I do say definitely that the prospects are brighter, and that the outlook for the future can be regarded with far more confidence. The mandate which was given so strongly a year ago holds good just as much now as it did at that time, and it is a continuation of the policy which has been adopted, and a continuation of that mandate, which is urged in the most gracious Speech from the Throne which we heard this morning.

Your Lordships will especially welcome the reference in the most gracious Speech to agriculture. Attention was frequently drawn last year to the fact that agriculture was what was described as "a notable omission" from the gracious Speech at that time, but nevertheless during the past year more, and more important, legislation has been passed on that subject than ever before in the history of this country. As a direct result of the Horticultural Products (Emergency Customs Duties) Act, which was passed some time ago, prices in almost every case to producers have shown an increase, and there are very definite signs now that considerably greater home output is being prepared for. Glass houses are being built to a very great extent all over the country, and a very considerably greater area is being now prepared for vegetables for next year than ever before. The guaranteed price for wheat of millable quality is really welcome to the arable farmer, and the prospect that possibly a portion of the money which will be due to him may be paid this year will prove an absolute godsend to a very great number of farmers. The more recent restriction of the imports of meat, which I regret is only of a temporary nature, had the immediate result of increasing the wholesale—not the retail—price in the markets. It is still too early yet to say what the final results of that policy will be. But in all this legislation, which is so welcome, the important thing which our farmers appreciate is that their desperate plight has been definitely recognised, and they note with pleasure the fact that there are indications in the most gracious Speech from the Throne that other branches of agriculture will not be neglected.

Agriculture is one of our most important industries, but it is ender a very peculiar difficulty, and that is that its various branches are so independent of each other. What I mean by that is that we can pass legislation which will be of considerable value to the arable farmer, but the result to the grassland farmer who depends on live stock for his livelihood may be either nil or very small indeed. It is wrong to refer to agriculture as one industry. It must be considered as a collection of various smaller industries, and I regret that many of those smaller branches have not yet received any benefit from the legislation which has been passed. They are, however, living in hopes that they will not be forgotten. If only, with this very necessary help on the part of the Government, we can weather the present storm, I venture to say that there is a sound future for agriculture. It is a very big "if," but if we can do it, if the Government will help us to do it, there is a definitely sound future. And a return of prosperity in this direction will go a very long way towards helping to cure a great many of the troubles with which the country is faced.

There was again a reference in the gracious Speech this year to the very great necessity of economy in both national arid local expenditure. I am afraid that economy is a subject which it is considerably easier to talk about than to put into effect. It is obvious that anything which comes under the name of luxury must be ruthlessly cut down. But the difficulty starts when we begin to draw a line between what are necessities and what are luxuries. There is no doubt that of recent years we have all in this country become accustomed to living extremely well—I was almost tempted to say too well. The inevitable result of that has been that we consider things as necessities because we have become so accustomed to them that we cannot visualise life without them. I sincerely hope that the Government will cut down very strictly these pseudo necessities. Of course, economy is very popular in theory, but for the reasons I have given it will be very unpopular when it is put into effect.

One point that I should like to make in connection with local expenditure is the very close connection which it frequently has with national expenditure. I had the honour not many years ago to be elected to our local county council, and shortly afterwards we were asked to do our utmost to cut down our expenditure in every way; and I was absolutely amazed when I found the very considerable amount of expenditure over which the county council had virtually no control. This expenditure is incurred in accordance with the policy of the Government, or of Government Departments. I sincerely hope that the very strictest scrutiny will be made of such expenditure and, if necessary, that the policy which necessitates that expenditure will be ruthlessly changed. Only in that way can we bring the relief so essential in regard to the very heavy burden at present borne by both the taxpayer and ratepayer.

There are many other important items mentioned in the gracious Speech from the Throne, but I think I am straining your Lordships' patience possibly a little too far. I would only say that the gracious Speech from the Throne will meet with a warm reception throughout the country. It is a message of hope and confidence, and especially so because it entails a continuance of the policy of the Government which is already proving itself to be effective, successful, and beneficial to the country. I thank your Lordships for once again giving such a splendid example of your patience and forbearance, and I have the very great honour to second the Motion which is before your Lordships' House.


My Lords, I always quite sincerely admire those who are allotted the very difficult task of moving and seconding the Address in either House of Parliament. Although I served for some eighteen years in the House of Commons I was never given that duty. I am afraid I was not thought quite safe. But I think to-day it has been discharged, if I may say so, with rather conspicuous ability. The noble Marquess who moved the Motion was not addressing your Lordships for the first time. I have quite a vivid recollection of his maiden speech. The noble Marquess is a representative of youth and, if I may say so, he is a striking representative of die coming generation on whom we of the older generation are rather liable to shift the responsibilities which we ourselves have failed to discharge. If the noble Marquess is representative of the coming generation I must say that we may all have hope. The noble Marquess's very distinguished grandfather was the head of the diplomatic service when I joined it in 1894, and I think, from the speech which I heard this afternoon, that some of the perspicacity and shrewdness of the grandfather seem to have been inherited, combined with a very happy eloquence from which, very skilful diplomatist as he was, the grandfather very carefully abstained.

The two speakers endeavoured to be optimistic. The noble Lord who seconded the Address, in an exceedingly competent and thoughtful speech, is also a representative of youth. I know that this subject of who is young and who is old is relative. I have come to the age when I think that anybody under seventy is a young man; but the noble Lord who seconded the Address is undoubtedly also in the youthful battalion, and his speech showed that he hoped for good things in the future. Bet I do not think that either of the speakers really felt that in the programme which is put before your Lordships for the immediate future, there was anything to make him really enthusiastic. The noble Lord, Lord Chesham, who seconded the Address, referred to agriculture, and he displayed a certain anxiety, although he wanted to make the best of what is proposed. I shall later on have a word to say on the paragraph about agriculture, but there is one of your Lordships As hose opinion on that paragraph I should very much like to hear, and to have heard to-day, and that the noble Lord, Lord Hastings.

Well, my Lords, we have been called together, after a brief week-end, for a new Session of Parliament, as if we must make haste to get down to business because there are urgent matters to be disposed of at once. I immediately looked at the Gracious Speech with a view to seeing a great programme before us which would occupy the attention of Parliament week after week and month after month for some time to come. But that is not what we have got. This is the second Speech of the National Government. I dare say more empty and sterile Speeches than this have been delivered, but I doubt whether, in a second Session of a term of office, anything so meagre and inadequate as this has ever been presented to Parliament. The reason why it will cause very great disappointment is to be found in all the great promises and the raising of hopes which heralded the establishment of the National Government. If the National Government had not advertised themselves quite as they did, and promised that they were going to cure all the evils that beset the land and all the ills that flesh is heir to, then we might not have been so disappointed; but they raised hopes to such an extent that when we find that those hopes are not realised, and that this is what we are now asked to do (if one can really detect anything at all to be done), then I feel sure that the people and the country will be very much disappointed.

The first paragraph refers to the World Economic Conference. That is very important, and I should like to ask some quite definite questions of the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House upon that paragraph. "As soon as possible" it is going to be convened. May I ask what is the obstacle which prevents it being convened at any certain date? And may I ask what it is going to deal with? Will it deal with monetary problems? Will it deal nth currency? Will it deal with the stabilisation of prices? Will it deal with tariffs? And if it deals with tariffs, will not His Majesty's Government be very much handicapped, and have their hands tied, because of the Agreements that were concluded at Ottawa? At any rate, may we hope that this rather shadowy Economic Conference in the future will not be made an excuse for inaction on the part of His Majesty's Government, so that we shall lie told that this or that cannot be done until the Economic Conference has come to its conclusion. The Conference is to deal with the causes which have brought about the present economic and financial difficulties of the world. Are the causes known, or is the Conference to discover the causes? I thought that the creation of tariffs, the establishment of this nation as one of the most highly protected countries in the world, was a method of overcoming the causes which have brought about this world dislocation. I do not know what they were for if they were not to deal with that problem. But it seems now that the causes have yet to be sought, or, if they are known already and the Economic Conference is going to deal with them, I am sure that the noble and learned Viscount will just give us a catalogue of them to go on with.

The next Conference mentioned is the Conference on Disarmament. That Conference has been sitting for some time. I remember addressing your Lordships' House about six months ago on that Conference, and was told that mine was a. very mischievous speech because I deplored the methods that were being adopted to try to come to some sort of conclusion about disarmament; but practically everybody agrees with the view I expressed then, that a wrong start was made, and that a good six months were wasted. We have now reached the point where definite schemes have been put forward, one on behalf of France and one, more recently, on behalf of Great Britain. If the scheme put forward on behalf of Great Britain has the effect of bringing Germany back again into the Conference, it will be all to the good. But I deplore, as I have said before and I will say again, the method of dealing with this question which is to regard it as a question of arithmetic. Disarmament is not a question of arithmetic, though we persist in regarding it as such. Even taking it as a question of arithmetic—the number of ships, the weight of guns, the weight of tanks, and so on—is it wise on the part of His Majesty's Government to produce a scheme which really must lead to very much further controversy?

I do not want to go into it fully now, but I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to one or two of the questions that arise from the scheme propounded by Sir John Simon. He asks for the abolition of submarines. We heartily agree with that, but at this time of day, knowing what France's opinion is on this question, it seems rather unlikely that you will arrive at an agreement if that is one of the propositions. But the most unhopeful one, in my opinion, is Sir John Simon's proposition with regard to aeroplanes. The aeroplanes of other countries are to be cut down to our level where they exceed it, and then there is to be a general reduction by a third. How does that work out with regard to France? France has now 2,375 military aeroplanes and seaplanes, and we have 1,434. France must, there-force, begin by scrapping 941, and then a third, which is 478. France must make a total scrapping of aeroplanes of 1,419. I really do not think that sounds a very hopeful proposition upon which to arrive at an agreement if you insist on this arithmetical method for disarmament. I very much regret that this method continues to be taken, because I will say now—I probably shall have occasion to say it again—that so long as the Powers regard this matter as the seeking of some formula of mathematics to which all nations will agree, you will never get genuine disarmament that way. To my mind, when the Powers begin to realise that security rests on disarmament, then some progress will be made.

With regard to India, the Conference is now sitting, and I should be the last person to say anything that would in any way interfere with those deliberations, difficult as they must be, and I can only say that it is the desire of every man and woman in this country that these difficult negotiations shall be carried ultimately to a successful issue.

Now we come to the domestic clauses of the Speech, and it is extraordinarily difficult to find anything to get one's teeth into. The first paragraph says: it is still necessary to exercise careful supervision over public expenditure. Does that mean more "cuts"? Are the Government going to be adviser? by the Conservative Economy Committee, as I think it is called? We have had their report, a very interesting report, and perhaps the Government, who are always anxious to please their supporters, will take some suggestions from them. But perhaps the noble and learned Viscount will tell us if we are in for more "cuts."

I then come to the agricultural clause, and really I think it requires reading very, very carefully and very, very often in order to see if there is any sense in it at all. It looks to me as if the Government, not being prepared to do anything definite, thought they could not leave out agriculture but must say something about it, must be eloquent about it, and yet not put down any specific proposition at all. The only part of this very involved language in which I can detect anything like action is where the Speech says: My Government believe that the various steps which they have taken, combined with action upon the investigations concluded, or still proceeding, will enable the industry to take full advantage of a return to more favourable conditions. That does look as if something was intended. Perhaps the noble and learned Viscount will tell us whether it is going to he more quotas, more duties, higher tariffs, and whether, consequently, the price of food is going to be further raised The rest is mere platitudes about the position that agriculture holds, which we all know and have heard of before. It is just at that point that there is some suggestion of action, and if the noble and learned Viscount can be a little more explicit we shall be very grateful.

Next we come to the unemployment clauses, and here we touch something which I regard as the gravest question with which we have to deal. Even in this paragraph the Government have not been able to avoid copybook platitudes, nor is there anything that is very suggestive or constructive. A terrible thing about unemployment is that it has been reduced to statistics. It has been dehumanised. We are always talking of the 2,750,000 or the 2,500,000, and how many hundred thousands that are here and hundred thousands there; and in that sort of talk we lose sight of the human side of the question. We lost sight of the vision of the numberless people up and down the country living in very distressing circumstances with their wives and their children, of the young people who, as the Speech says, have never been able to work. It really is the most distressing thing for the morale of the coming generation that they should be deprived of the opportunity for work, and the gracious Speech dwells on that distressing situation.

I do not know what the Government have done to deal with it. I do not know that the Government have dealt with the children of the unemployed. Have the Government suggested that the children of the unemployed in schools should get free meals? Was it not noble Lords opposite who rejected our proposition that children should be kept at school another year? And is not the Government very fond, and its supporters still more fond, of putting restrictions on all educational facilities, for which they have had to apologise? But the fact remains that there are a great number of people in the Tory Party who do want to cut down educational facilities for the workers, and just now it is the most fatal thing to do, because, when they are in this depressed condition, it is then that their children should be taken over, if need be, by the State, and seen to both physically and mentally.

We see that there is going to be some pleasure dealing with unemployment insurance. No doubt further "cuts"! Training. Something can be done with training, but there is no definite suggestion. I cannot help visualising the two great ills that we have got side by side. Two and three quarter millions out of work on the one side, and on the other side miles and miles of slums not fit for human habitation. That subject is going to be talked about by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Winchester the day after to-morrow. I think he must be rather despairing. He comes to your Lordships' House, to one Government after another, and begs that something should be done, and nothing is done. There ought to be something done. There you have, on the one hand, men waiting for work, wanting to work, ready to work and capable of working. On the other side, you have houses that ought to be demolished and houses that ought to he built for the enrichment and for the real improvement of the population of this country. You cannot bring these two together. You cannot meet these two great needs and make them cancel one another out. I quite admit that the Labour Government could not do it, but then the Labour Government, confronted with all the intricate difficulties connected with housing, had no Majority. Here we have a Government with a sufficient majority to do anything it wishes. I do not think it has got the will, or the initiative, or the constructive power to undertake a great campaign' of this sort, to which the whole country would rise and which would receive general public approval. It would cost money, but money well spent is true economy—not this cheese-paring, this cutting dawn of people's salaries, this cutting down of educational facilities, but spending money on remunerative and fertile purposes.

I come now to the end of the Speech, and there is what I call a, mystery phrase:

"Measures dealing with rent restriction, London passenger transport, and other matters of importance will be introduced and proceeded with as time and opportunity offer."

We want to know what this doctor's mandate includes in "other matters of importance." I am glad, and not the least surprised, to see that the Government have not thought it part of the doctor's mandate to ask your Lordships and Parliament to enter into a scheme for gerrymandering the constitution and for the so-called reform of your Lordships' House. I was rather nervous about it; not because of the scheme itself, which I am afraid has been laughed out of court altogether, but because it was supported by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, who, as we all know has very great influence, not only in his Party but in the country. But I should like a definite assurance from the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House that "other matters of importance" do not include the so-called reform of the House of Lords, for which by no conceivable stretch of imagination has this so-called National Government got any mandate whatsoever.

The Speech has next to nothing in it. Its omissions are very, very serious considering the state of things with which we find ourselves confronted. But I do not believe that it is possible to do anything so long as the Government think it necessary to bolster up the present system of society. I do not believe that under the capitalist system you are going to cure these evils, and I do not believe you are going really effectively to tackle any of these great problems so long as you have rivalry, competition, opposition, clash, and class war. The Communists and we are supposed to encourage class war. We do nothing of the kind. Class war is inherent in the system. So long as you have people not acting in cooperation for the common good but competing against one another, so long as you have the monetary basis of society in which the haves are treated in one way and the have-nots in another way, it is impossible for us all to pull together, shoulder to shoulder, to pick our country out of its present distressing condition.

There is no plan in this, no construction in this, although the National Government (let us say) is a good one, consisting of the best men picked from all the Parties. The Government have the biggest majority of modern times. The Government, I fully admit, have among their number men of great ability and great eminence. You have there an instrument which, according to old notions, is very suitable to carry out a revolution. But they cannot do it. They have nothing to offer to the hundreds and thousands of people in this country who are now saying, and repeating: "How long, how long is this to go on?" We are at a moment of very great change.

The old dominance of the aristocrat has passed. We are now in the age when plutocrats and commercials have got their sway. A great change, I believe, is imminent, a great change which may involve the fall of the Parliamentary representative system itself. Look at this Speech. Look at these Conferences. If the World Economic Conference reports, if the Disarmament Conference draws up a Convention, if the Indian Conference arrives at an agreement your Lordships' House and the House of Commons will not be able to alter a sentence, a phrase, a word, a comma of those agreements. It is the new international method. I think it is a good one, but do not let us go on talking about Parliamentary control. Parliamentary control is going by the board because of the new great international system which has been brought about by nations being linked together closely.

I think it is good, but it means that we are on the threshold of a very great change both from the view of the constitution of society and from the view of Parliamentary institutions. We are looking forward to these changes. We believe that there is great hope in a fundamental change, but that the present Government, hampered as they are by adherence to the old methods, cannot bring about that change. We want that change to come peacefully. We want that change to come by the method which we in this country have always adopted because we have learned that any violence only brings reaction in another direction. But while the present Government are wavering, are inert, are always doubtful and afraid, we have no doubt at all as to the future which we are striving for. We are able to say in the well-known lines:

  • Our doubts are traitors,
  • And make us lose the good we oft might win,
  • By fearing to attempt.


My Lords, on behalf of those associated with me in your Lordships' House I desire to offer very sincere congratulations both to the noble Marquess who moved and the noble Lord who seconded the Address. The name of the noble Marquess is so well known in our Imperial and international affairs that he bears a special responsibility, and it must be a gratifica- tion to all your Lordships that he has to-day and on other occasions fulfilled his task in a manner that speaks forcibly for the argument founded upon heredity. I was very much struck by the observations which seemed to be directed to the chief points on which the attention of the Government must be concentrated at this moment, and in all that he said I find myself very much in agreement. The noble Lord who seconded had evidently given much thought to the various subjects on which he addressed your Lordships, and may I be permitted to say that I wish he would oftener take part with us and give us the benefit of his views? Listening to their Lordships it occurred to me that it would be very much better if in this ancient House we had more of the younger men taking part in our debates so that we could feel that they were really active amongst us and would follow the example set by the two noble Lords. In regard to what the Leader of the Opposition said in his respect I agree, except that I have a quarrel with one observation. He observed that in his opinion everyone under seventy was young. My question to him is: Why not over seventy?

I wish I had been able to agree with him in other respects. I listened to his speech with great interest and of course I quite understand that he is representing the views of his Party which are not in accord with those of the National Government. Well, we Liberals are not in accord with the views of the Government in all respects, but I do desire to state quite clearly and emphatically that it is our intention arid wish to give every possible support to the National Government. Because we may be forced to differ in some respects does not mean that we propose to come into opposition to the Government. I am fully impressed with the importance of His Majesty's Government speaking in the counsels of the world as well as in Dominion counsels with the great authority of the support of the vast majority, and even of some members of the Labour Party, so that the world should know that the Government is speaking not only for a Party, but for a nation and, as we believe, in the interests of the nation and of the Empire. I shall myself try in every possible way I can to support them.

There is very little I find to criticise in the gracious Speech. In the main we must wait until we know more details. Obviously the concern of the Government must be in the main, at the moment, with international affairs, and with unemployment, agriculture and all those questions that are part and parcel of the present economic situation. I am sufficiently familiar with the difficulties experienced in international affairs not to be ready to acquiesce in the criticism directed by the Leader of the Opposition. I am a believer in conferences. It may be quite easy to criticise and. scoff at them, but more will be achieved by conferences among nations than by us sitting in Parliament. Everything must depend upon what is to happen in these Conferences. I am not disposed to speculate upon what will take place. All I desire to do is to beg the Government on behalf of my Party to continue to concentrate all their attention upon bringing about some agreement of real value in relation to disarmament. I believe there is no difference of opinion generally, although of course there will be differences as regards details, in this country. I am convinced that the country is intent, as are all your Lordships, not only on peace at the moment, but upon its maintenance, preservation and, as far as is humanly possible, its perpetuation.

With regard to the Economic Conference it is difficult to speak of that at this moment, especially in view of what is happening in America, because we have presumably to await, or may have to await, the views of the incoming Administration. All I would venture to suggest is that every attempt should be made to widen rather than to narrow the sphere, and that His Majesty's Government should strive as far as possible to remove any restrictions on debate. I cannot understand how we can discuss or attempt to discuss with any possible expectation of satisfaction world economic affairs if we are not allowed to take into account also world debts, Reparations, tariffs, and all these kindred questions. They are all part and parcel of the same question; you cannot separate them. In that connection I only desire to add that in all these economic questions we are a little too prone to regard them as pure economics and finance, whereas they are inseparably interwoven with political conditions throughout the world. I am perfectly convinced that the Government are well aware of that, but unless we can get quiet and tranquillity in the political world internationally, our task becomes ever so much more difficult in relation to economic and financial matters.

I hope—and this observation is not intended to be at all controversial—His Majesty's Government will continue to pursue the policy they announced before they went to Ottawa, which I regarded as the major policy in relation to tariffs. That is that by the use of the tariffs imposed in this country we are seeking to get a reduction of tariffs throughout the world, so that there may be greater outgoings—a greater export rather than lesser export such as we have seen almost daily. So far as I am aware there has been no correction of that view, which was certainly stated on behalf of the Government, even after Ottawa, and I think I am right in saving—the noble Viscount the Leader of the House will, I am sure, correct me if I am in error—that this is still the policy of the Government, that they hope to reduce tariffs throughout the world and that they will so far as they possibly can use the tariffs imposed in this country for that purpose.

All I will say in conclusion is that as regards unemployment undoubtedly we shall welcome any measures which may be introduced by the Government which will help to relieve that situation. We do not know at present of what they will consist, and we shall await them. There is only one observation I should like to make upon that. I do hope that the Government have not closed their mind to the possibility of finding employment by means of curing the slum conditions throughout the country. Whatever the difficulties may have been, it is very earnestly to be hoped that they will find some means of meeting the serious situation in unemployment, which they themselves point out in the gracious Speech, and that when it comes to the consideration of the relief which may be found, attention may be most earnestly devoted to the finding of some means of achieving a great social reform, which cannot in any sense be called unproductive expenditure, but which is in essence reproductive, and which has been calling loudly to us for a long time. It has had some start, but is stopped or at any rate reduced at the present time. I do beg of the Government again to direct themselves to this point before they make answer to the Motion which I believe is to be introduced in this House in two days' time.

With these observations I will conclude by merely saying that we will do what we can to give support. I am not so much concerned with the failure to bring about the remedies which were in our minds when the National Government was formed. After all, it is not an easy matter to bring nations together, but I hope that they will continue on the path they have mapped out in this direction, and if they continue in the direction of the World Economic Conference arid of world disarmament they will receive from us every support.


My Lords, I have no wish to interpose myself between you and the Leader of the House, but I should like to claim your indulgence while I say some few words about one part of the gracious Speech—namely, that which deals with the problem of unemployment. In the first place I cannot deny myself the pleasure of repeating what has been said, with the hearty concurrence of the whole House, in the congratulations which were 'offered to the noble Marquess who moved, and the noble Lord who seconded, the Motion for the Address. I do not think I have ever heard two speeches—speeches which on this occasion are apt to be so ceremonial—which have been distinguished by so much freedom, originality and ability, and although I have not yet reached seventy, that limit of youth put by the noble Lord opposite, I am getting very near it, and I heartily welcome to the ranks of youth in this House—to which by such arithmetic I belong—the mover and the seconder of the Address this afternoon.

I venture to speak on this subject of unemployment because the gracious Speech rightly alludes to it as the gravest problem in our social system, and if that be true it seems only natural that some words should be spoken on behalf of those interests throughout the country which I may be taken in some sort to represent. I think it has been justly said that there is a tendency to be- come too much accustomed to these monotonous statistics. Certainly it was a great shock to me to learn from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that even supposing there is considerable recovery of trade we must still contemplate, for; many years to come, the possibility of at least a million unemployed. If I may borrow a phrase from the Leader of the Opposition, when we look at those statistics in terms of Kaman life it seems quite impossible to acquiesce in such a permanent burden on the social life of the country. It is undoubtedly very hard to find remedies, and in fact the whole problem has changed in its character since some of us were familiar with it on previous occasions.

I remember being personally associated with the problem in the early part of the twentieth century, about 1906–7, and belonging to what was called the Unemployed Body in London, which had to deal with this matter. I remember that all along our problem was to meet the necessities of the moment in the confident expectation that what was then regarded as the normal cycle of prosperity End depression would in time take a. turn for the better. We are no longer under this delusion. The whole state of the world makes recovery a matter of great difficulty and length of time. In our own country we are all deeply concerned with the problem that even if there be some revival in existing trade and industries all over the world, our old customers have become our rivals. A leading business man in the North of England, speaking to me, said that thirty years ago he watched the simultaneous building of large cotton mills in Lancashire and the sending out by a great engineering firm of enormous consignments of machinery for cotton to all parts of the world, and he wondered how long it would be before those great machines abroad outran the demand for cotton at home. So far as the world is concerned I should be wasting your Lordships' time if I called attention to the completely new features which confront us. Summarised in this way, it may be said that whilst the world was never snore full of things for the benefit of human life, it is impossible for the great majority to reach them. Evidently production on a vast scale has wholly outrun consumption.

Well therefore may we look forward with eager hope to the meeting of this World Economic Conference, because it is quite plain that this problem must now be faced in an entirely new way, and with a readiness to contemplate entirely new solutions. I am bound to say, as I pass, that I do not think that we shall be much benefited if, instead of facing the issues which are before us with a new readiness to find solutions, we lift up our eyes and behold that distant scene to which the noble Lord looks with such eager anticipation. I think we must put our first hope in the industrial system as we have it, and try to build better upon that foundation before we attempt to build that more romantic but less stable edifice which he desires. But, within that limit, I am quite certain that those who attend this World Economic Conference must go to it with readiness to face the issues in such a way as, so far as I know, they have never been faced before.

It would be futile on my part to enlarge now upon that theme. But I would say that I cannot but agree with what was said by the noble Marquess a moment ago, that our hopes of this World Economic Conference would be enormously strengthened if we could have some assurance that the measure of success in dealing with the problem of Reparations which was achieved at Lausanne will be implemented by the action of the United States, and we await with profound concern, apprehension, and hope the result of the conversations which are now taking place in that country. Because obviously if the World Economic Conference which has to deal with these vast problems is unable to touch the problem of War Debts and Reparations which lies behind, its benefits will be gravely curtailed. But these are subjects upon which this is not the occasion to dwell.

I do wish to urge one or two considerations upon the Government and the country about the way in which we must deal, pending the solution of these great problems, with the existence in our midst of these millions of unemployed. I hope that we shall not get into the way of looking at the problem of State assistance merely from the point of view of the amount. I conceive it might quite well be that we should come to see that a much larger expenditure was really more economical. What we must be sure of is not the amount of State assistance, but the manner in which it is applied. We have no right to be generous to the unemployed so as to be unjust to the employed. We have no right—it would be false kindness—to assist the unemployed in such a way as to prevent their having the desire to resume work, if it could be found for them; and, above all, we have no right to burden industries with an excess of taxation which would be the very greatest evil alike for the employed and the unemployed. But, within these safeguards, we ought not to accustom ourselves merely to consider the amount which has to be spent upon maintaining people who are out of work through no fault of their own at least above the measure of serious want.

And here it is, I think, that I would ask the Government to consider one or two ways in which the action of the State may even be increased. In the first place, I cannot but associate myself with what was said by the noble Marquess opposite and by the noble Lord who leads the Opposition. I do beg the Government to give some fresh consideration to the question of large grants or facilities for borrowing for public works. No one knows better than I do the futility of relying upon what are ordinarily called public works as a solution of this grave problem. These have too often been works invented merely for the sake of creating work, and without regard to permanent utility. But can it be doubted that the clearance of the slums and the building of houses for a class, as we have often been reminded, not yet sufficiently considered in house building—those who cannot pay the rents which are expected in almost all the present housing schemes—can it be doubted that these are matters of permanent value to the whole State? At the present time borrowing is infinitely easier than it was before confidence had been restored by the balancing of the Budget. Money is cheap, materials are cheap. These things are for the permanent advantage of the whole community. I really would beg the Government to consider whether the time has not come when they ought to undertake on a rather large scale the facilitating of these public works throughout the country.

In the second place, I would ask them to consider whether they might not encourage, rather than discourage, the acquisition of land for allotments for the unemployed. Experience proves—I could give many instances if there were time—how working on an allotment not only helps the feeding of the home, but also the morale and physique of the workman; and yet I understand that, so far from encouraging a further use of allotments as one of the best means of keeping the unemployed in wholesome work, the Government have actually withdrawn the grants that were made for schemes of this kind. And in the third place, if the noble Lord the President of the Board of Education will forgive me, I cannot but return to a proposal which I made to your Lordships' House that, having regard to the fact, to which the gracious Speech calls attention, that the most serious problem is the number of young men, boys and girls who have never had employment in their lives, the Government would reconsider the extension of the system of continuation schools, where, at least up to the age of sixteen or seventeen, these young men and girls, many of whom have never had any chance of employment at all, can have continuous education, discipline and preparation for the tasks in which they may ultimately he engaged. As I said before, I delight to know what is being done by the Ministry of Labour through the juvenile employment centres, but much more is needed in the way of continuity and discipline; and once again I would ask the Government to consider whether it is not the truest economy to go great lengths in preventing the wastage of what must be the most substantial asset in the country, the men and women who are to be the workmen and workwomen of the future.

I have only one other thing to say, and I hope I may be forgiven in this place for saving it. We must not suppose that State action is all. There is much that can be done by the members of your Lordships' House. It is for us, with all the various opportunities we have, to co-operate with the State in anything that it may do. I am sure that a great deal can be done throughout the country in the very direction, to which the gracious Speech calls attention, of keeping up the spirit and the morale of those who are deprived of the chances of work.

Even if there is not actual destitution, there is the growth of debt. There is the gradual wearing out of clothes and the like. There is the sickness of heart which collies from deferred hope which is more demoralising than anything else. And there are many opportunities, if your Lordships are not already acquainted with them but would make yourselves acquainted with them in the various parts of the country from which you come, where a great deal can he clone by co-operative effort in preventing the unemployed from slipping further down in the Slough of Despond. I know that I can speak for the Church which I represent, that in a characteristically unspectacular way throughout the country the Church of England and other religious bodies are doing everything they can in this direction, and through many agencies of which it is not for me now to speak. I would beg of your Lordships to throw yourselves into every effort that may be made in your various neighbourhoods to give to the unemployed regular work if possible, but at least opportunities of keeping up the health of their bodies and the hopefulness of their spirits.

I know it is said by those whom noble Lords on the Benches opposite represent, that they do not want charity but justice. This, my Lords, ought not to be charity in any offensive sense. Charity is offensive if it is given in a spirit of patronage, or as an excuse for blinding our eyes to the grave social evils which we ought to tackle; but when charity is given in a spirit of comradeship and neighbourliness, I am sure it will not be resented. Nothing within my experience is more beautiful, and nothing, I think, more hopeful in regard to this very matter than the neighbourliness of the poorer working folk to one another; but I learn in all parts of the country that the sources of that neighbourliness are being exhausted, and there is need of a wider comradeship and a larger company of neighbours. If we in your Lordships' House, in the different parts of the country in which we live, come in with this spirit of neighbourliness and readiness to help, I am sure it will be widely appreciated. It is for all of us outside the Government to stand behind it in this matter, in a spirit of ready and neighbourly help, and meanwhile to trust the Government, as I hope we may, that it will give to this matter of great and essential importance unremitting attention, ceaseless planning, and determined courage.


My Lords, my first duty, by tradition and in this case by strong inclination, is to join in associating myself and those for whom I speak with the compliments paid by every previous speaker to the mover and seconder of the Address in the debate to which we have just been listening. On this occasion certainly, although conventional, it is no empty compliment, and when they were respectively good enough to thank me for giving them an opportunity of speaking this afternoon, I could not help thinking that it was your Lordships' House as a whole who really ought to have been grateful to me for affording them an opportunity of making so valuable a contribution to our discussions.

The noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition said that he could detect no note of enthusiasm in the speeches of either the mover or the seconder. I at least thought that I was able to find in what they said a spirit of real satisfaction with what the Government had been able to do during its twelve months of office, a spirit of real confidence in the future under the National Government; not indeed an enthusiasm for the state of industry and agriculture which we find prevailing around us, but a belief that all that can be done is being done, and a belief that the measures which we are taking are bringing about an amelioration of the difficult conditions in which we find ourselves at present.

The noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition was good enough to say that he found nothing in the Speech—that it was (I think) unparalleled in the meagreness of its promise and of its proposals. I was a little consoled when I found that he made the same complaint last year; it is becoming, I suppose, a stock phrase. But at the same time, when I look back on the twelve months through which we have passed, I do not think it can be said that Parliament has not been asked to do quite enough work during the last twelve months. I certainly do not believe it to be true to say that there has ever been a Session of Parliament in which more measures of first-rate importance have been brought forward and passed into law. We have already heard from my noble friend the seconder of the Address of the effects on agriculture; we have to look back on the Horticultural Products' (Emergency Customs Duties) Act, the import Duties Act, the Ottawa Agreements—a whole series of measures designed to help agriculture and industry and to build a better relationship between this country and our Dominions, and a better Opportunity for inter-Imperial trade. I am not ashamed of the record of the Government during the last twelve months, and if the noble Lord is right in thinking that last year was meagre and this year is no more full of matter—well, if we do as well next year as we did in the past year, I do not think that we can complain of idleness.

The noble Lord asked me certain questions about the World Economic Conference. He wanted to know what was the obstacle to summoning it at once; he wanted to know what exactly were the matters which were to be discussed and what precisely were the causes which we assigned to the present economic difficulties. Like the noble and learned Marquess who leads the Liberal Party, I believe in international conventions, but I believe that the worst way to carry on an international convention is to summon the convention together first and then try to thresh out an agenda when you have got them there. I believe it is one of the lessons which we have learnt since the War, that if you want to make a success of an international convention, it is of the first importance that the ground shall be carefully prepared, that there shall be preliminary discussions between the Governments concerned, so that when the convention actually meets the parties may be agreed as to the matters upon which they are going to engage in discussion and as to the general lines upon which that discussion is calculated to proceed.

The noble Marquess said, and I personally agree with him, that it would be a very great pity to limit the discussions of the World Economic Conference. I should like to see them take as wide a scope as is possible, but I would not enlarge that scope in the subjects of the Conference at the expense of driving from the Conference some of the more important nations whom I wish to see represented there. And it is because I should like to see the matters about which we are to confer clearly defined, that I think it is necessary to take some little time for preparation, and not to assign any immediate or too definite a date for the meeting. I agree entirely that the sooner the meeting takes place the better, but that must be subject to this one qualification: that it is no good meeting until we are agreed exactly as to what it is about which we are going to talk when we do meet.

Then the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition went on to complain of our disarmament proposals. He said that the speech of my right hon. friend the Foreign Secretary was very ill-calculated to produce satisfactory results because it introduced controversial items into the discussions at Geneva, and he would have desired a speech, and proposals, which were entirely uncontroversial. My Lords, I wonder what sort of proposals he would have put forward at Geneva? The only one which I have ever heard the noble Lord propose which may be described as having that character was the proposal that this country should disarm completely and that no one else should be asked to disarm at all. At least, I understand that is the policy for which the noble Lord stands, but with which his Party do not agree. It may be that would have been non-controversial at Geneva, but I can assure your Lordships' House and the noble Lord it would have been very far from non-controversial when it was introduced at home. We have put forward the proposals which we believe are best calculated to ensure a fruitful discussion at Geneva. We cannot guarantee success there.

I agree with every word that the noble Marquess said when he pointed out the supreme importance in the present condition of the world of trying to bring about some satisfactory solution of that dreadful problem of disarmament. It is a vital factor in the progress of the world that the nations of the world should he able to agree on a practical form of disarmament which will remove or lessen the threat of war which always seems to hang over the deliberations of each one of us to-day. We cannot promise to attain success. Agreement does not only rest with this country. We are willing to strive our utmost to arrive at a measure of agreement. We are willing to go to the utmost limit consistent with the essential security of this people in order to reach agreement, but we cannot promise to surrender the security for which we are responsible in order to achieve a paper success which would infallibly result later on in an actual disaster.

With regard to India, the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition was good enough to point out that whilst the Round-Table Conference was meeting in this building he did not desire to embark on a discussion of that topic, because he felt that it might conceivably do something to hinder the success of the discussions at the Round Table. I am grateful to tae noble Lord for his forbearance. I will only say that His Majesty's Government are embarking on these discussions in an anxious desire to reach a solution of the difficult problem of constitutional advance for India which shall be consistent in every way with the undertakings that were given when the Round-Table Conference last met—a solution which will he successful in finding at once a satisfactory measure of responsible self-government for India and at the same time safeguarding; those essential interests which we undertook should not be neglected.

The noble Lord went on next to deal with the question of economy, and he asked with a sneer: "Are we to see more cuts'?" To that question I will only give this answer, that if the Government are able to detect in national or local expenditure any unnecessary expense or any waste of public money, then certainly we shall do our best to cut it down at the very earliest moment, and we shall avail ourselves for that purpose of the investigations and suggestions which are made by any responsible people without pledging ourselves to adopt them, but pledging ourselves at least to consider any proposals which may be put forward to that end. We have succeeded during our twelve months of office in restoring the national credit to an extent which t suppose few people can have hoped for when we commenced our task. We have succeeded in achieving a reduction in interest on the public Debt which, I think, must have surprised as well as gratified almost every one of us. But we are not going to stop there. We recognise that the burden of taxation, as the most rev. Primate pointed out, is a real hindrance to industry, and if we can find means of reducing public expenditure without sacrificing the essential interests of public efficiency we shall not hesitate to adopt them. And we shall not be deterred in adopting them by the knowledge that we are going to be met with the sort of comment which the noble Lord was good enough to make just now.

The noble Lord went on to ask what precisely were the proposals which we were putting forward with regard to agriculture. He said he had read the gracious Speech several times over, and I am sure that if he did so he would have noticed that the action which we intend to take is to be based upon investigations concluded or still proceeding. So long as those investigations are still proceeding we desire to reserve our concrete proposals until we know the results of the investigations, and until we are in a position to formulate our proposals as a whole I think it would be a very great pity if we were to bring them forward piecemeal to be criticised without their whole bearing being understood.

The noble Lord went on to talk about unemployment. It is not difficult for political Parties on one side or the other of this House to bandy with one another accusations each that the other has not been able to cure unemployment. The noble Lord said we had not been able to do so. I could retort by saying that the Government of which he was a member had been equally unsuccessful, but I do not think that that sort of taunt is going to help. It is true enough that at election times we hear each Party in opposition blaming the Government for the existence of unemployment. It is true enough that we hear from the friends of the noble Lord opposite suggestions and promises at every election that they are in a position to cure unemployment by Government action, but the noble Lord will search in vain for any such promise by the present Government. It is not a matter which any Government by Government action alone can cure. It is a matter which every Government must take into the most careful consideration. Your Lordships have listened only these last few minutes to the eloquent words of the most rev. Primate, in which he pointed out that it is not merely a question of the individual being out of work. It is much more than that. It is a question of the physical and moral deterioration of the person who remains unemployed, remains a liability instead of an asset to the community, and who, as the months roll on, finds his courage and his hope failing, his skill and aptitude leaving him, so that he sinks at last from the ranks of the unemployed to the ranks of the unemployable.

I do not think any of us in this House either ignore the seriousness of that problem or, if the truth be told, that we believe that the rest of us are ignorant of the seriousness of that problem. I do not believe the noble Lord himself, if he were to speak his whole mind, would venture to say that he did not know' that the members of His Majesty's Government are just as keenly alive to the human tragedy that underlies unemployment as he himself can claim to be. I profoundly regret that the unemployment should be on the scale which it has reached. I should be profoundly happy to see any solution produced by any Party in the State which could cure that state of affairs. Suggestions have been made this evening by the noble and learned Marquess and again by the most rev. Primate of methods by which unemployment can at least be alleviated. I am not going at this stage into the merits of one or other of the proposals, but I can assure both of the noble Lords, and I can assure your Lordships, that those proposals not only will receive, but are receiving, the most careful and sympathetic consideration from his Majesty's Government.

They are not quite so easy to carry into effect as they are to propound, but if by any scheme of slum clearance, if by any scheme of allotments, if by any other means we can find an effective alleviation of the condition of unemployment, then your Lordships may rest assured that the Government will be only too glad to grasp at any suggestion which promises any real measure of success. I would like to add, to prevent misconception, that it is a mistake to suppose that the Government have abandoned the provision of allotments for the unemployed.

There are, I believe, to-day—I have had to get the figures at short notice—something like 60,000 unemployed already in possession of allotments. The Government are at this moment going forward, not indeed with the provision of allotments by the Government, but with the assistance of private societies and enterprises which are providing allotments, to whom the Government are furnishing help on the basis of £1 from the State for every £1 which is put up by the society.

There are such societies as, for instance, the Society of Friends, which, as the most rev. Primate knows, is doing most valuable work. There are also a number of other societies of the same character, working some on a large scale and some on a small scale, but all working with more intimate knowledge of local conditions and needs than a Government Department can enjoy, and to whose philanthropic efforts the Government are very glad to render financial hacking and help in the belief that the work they are doing is likely to result in substantial improvement in the condition of the unemployed. Indeed, the Ministry of Agriculture tell me that they have high hope that if things go well as many as 30,000 additional people will be provided will allotments during the coming year.

Of course that only touches the fringe of the problem. Sixty thousand, thirty thousand—one may well ask what is that compared to two and three-quarter millions? But one has to remember that two and three-quarter millions is not a static body. They are not the same people who are unemployed all the time, and although the number is tragical one would exaggerate if one looked at this vast army of unemployed persons as being persons permanently out of employment, or, indeed, in most cases, out of employment for any very prolonged period. The real cure for unemployment is to find work. The real cure for unemployment is stimulation of industry. His Majesty's Government during the last year have been actively engaged in trying to encourage agriculture and industry by every means which they could devise. We cannot make work—all we can hope to do is to make oppor- tunities for work—but we hope and believe that the opportunities which we have created have already had some effect.

They are already encouraging the manufacturing industries in this country to develop and to go forward, and as the noble Lord the seconder of the Address said a little while ago, there are real signs of more confidence, of a brighter outlook and of better promise for the future. We cannot hope that we are going to have a prosperous Britain or a prosperous Empire while the rest of the world is bankrupt. We can claim that during the year that has passed, while unhappily the economic condition of the world at large has been getting worse, we in this country have been able at least to hold our own. That is something to put to the credit, perhaps, not of the Government, but at least of the industrialists and of the workmen because only by combination can they hope to succeed. It is something to put to the credit of the working classes and of the employers of this country.

The noble Lord opposite said that in this Speech he saw no sign of revolution. He is quite right. We do not intend revolution. We do not believe in revolution. We believe in evolution. The noble Lord said that the class war was always with us. It is not the fault of the noble Lord and his friends if the class war is not always with us. We at least believe that the true method of advance is not by stirring up strife between the different component parts of the industrial whole. It is by encouraging cooperation and help and mutual confidence between the unemployed and the workmen. We believe that that method is bearing fruit. We believe that the workmen of this country are learning the folly and menace of this Socialist doctrine of the class war, and we believe that in the defeat of Socialism and in the evolution of our present form of society lies the best hope for the future prosperity of us all.

Your Lordships' House will be asked to deal with a number of problems during the next twelve months. In fact, while the noble Lord complains of the meagreness of this programme, I am somewhat alarmed to see how much it includes. India, world economy, industry, agriculture, unemployment, rent restriction, London passenger transport —these matters are matters any of which in the old days would have been quite enough to provide sufficient legislation to last for a Session. If we hope to deal with all of them it is because, like so many of the noble Lords opposite, we are still young. In the task which we have set ourselves we hope and believe that as a National Government we can still expect and claim the backing of the nation as a whole. We believe in the assurance which the noble and learned Marquess gave that, although his friends may bring criticism to bear, although they examine closely the proposals which we lay before Parliament, they examine them not in the desire to pick holes in them and to destroy them, but rather in the desire to make them more fruitful and to make them more constructive and more effective.

We believe that in your Lordships' House there is a great wealth of talent and ability which can give real useful help in dealing with the measures which we bring forward. It has always been a matter of regret to me since I have had the honour to be a member of this House to see how much available talent there is and how little use we seem to make of it. We have men who have served the State in the highest offices which the State has in its power to entrust to them, Governors-General of our Dominions, Governors of our Colonies, men who have reached the very top rungs in the professions or in the Forces of the Crown, men who have served as Envoys and Ambassadors of Empire, men who have served an apprenticeship in the other place and who have been rewarded for distinguished services by being translated to this House. We have an immense wealth of ability and yet somewhow we do not seem to get the full contribution which we have a right to expect from the men whom we have available here.

It may be that the fault lies in some measure in the constitution or in the powers of this House. That is a matter which, as my right hon. friend the Prime Minister said in another place, has not been considered by the Government. It is not a matter therefore with regard to which I have any proposals or suggestions to make, but I would like to say—I speak here for myself and for myself only—that I think it is a ridiculous misconstruction of the proposals which have been brought forward by my noble friend the Marquess of Salisbury and the committee over which he presided to say that they have already been laughed out of court. They have not met with the consideration of the Government, not from ally disrespect for their merits, but because time has not permitted them yet to be examined. But I am far from saying that, when examined, they may not contain valuable and fruitful suggestions for the consideration of the Government. These are not matters which are included in the gracious Speech as matters likely to come before you in the near future, but I did want to safeguard myself from the suggestion that because they do not form matter of immediate consideration the Government will therefore permanently remain blind to their importance. I believe this House has functions of the highest value and importance to perform. I believe it contains among its members persons who can give services of the highest value to the State, and I believe it is a waste of valuable public material if we fail to take the fullest advantage of that potential help.

I think the Government may well be congratulated on the fact that apart from the speech of the noble Lord whose business it is of course to find fault—His Majesty's Opposition would be failing in its duty if it did not criticise His Majesty's Government—we have met with a measure of approval and support in all quarters of the House which will encourage us to go forward in the task we have undertaken, and I can assure your Lordships that His Majesty's Government, conscious as they are of the difficulties which lie all round them, are yet facing those difficulties with confidence and courage, secure in the knowledge that they have behind them the support of their fellow countrymen.


My Lords, I venture to intervene in the debate on a specific matter in the gracious Speech, but before doing so I should like to congratulate His Majesty's Government upon the terms of that Speech because I believe that they portend a year of great and fruitful results—a year which will be as successful as the past career of the Government. I wish specifically to refer to the Bills relating to Scotland which are to be introduced to amend the procedure governing private legislation, to facilitate the administration of civil justice and for other purposes. I welcome any Bills which will improve conditions in Scotland or which will improve the relationship between Scotland and this country, and for that reason I welcome these Bills. At the same time I cannot help referring to the origin of these Bills.

It may not be known to your Lordships that in Scotland to-day there is a considerable stirring of the calm atmosphere of Scottish conditions owing to a campaign which has been going on for some time for Scottish Home Rule. Candidates have stood for Parliament at the last two General Elections and candidates have stood in the municipal elections, and have not, I submit, achieved any great success; but as a result of the propaganda we find to-day in Scotland what might be called four bodies of opinion. The first body is represented by the extreme Scottish Nationalists with a programme which is in some respects almost separatist in effect. The second body is the moderate Nationalist Party led by the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose. Next we have another Party which has recently arisen, which I may call the Oppositionist Party, and which desires nothing to be done at all and gives reasons for that attitude. Then we have the largest body of opinion in Scotland which is bewildered by all the propaganda of the other three Parties, does not know exactly where it stands, and is not able to decide what is the best for Scotland in this connection. They are further bewildered by the fact that the two leading Scottish newspapers, the Glasgow Herald and the Scotsman, both of Unionist persuasion, are practically taking opposite sides for the first time on an issue of vital importance to the whole country.

In accordance with the terms of the gracious Speech the Government have the intention to introduce certain Bills which may or may not meet that situation. I sincerely hope that those Bills will meet the situation, but I submit to His Majesty's Government that the case which I have just stated is one that demands not a Bill here or there, but inquiry of a properly constituted nature —an inquiry, whether by Royal Commis- sion or by some other composite body such as His Majesty's Government might think best fitted for the purpose—to go into the whole subject and to advise this great moderate mass of opinion in Scotland what is the best thing to do in the circumstances. I belong to that fourth body and that is why I have ventured to intervene in this debate and to ask the Government to give consideration to setting up such an inquiry. It may be that the Government will say they have already gone too far, that they are not, prepared to appoint a Commission or to set up such an inquiry. If that be so I venture to ask them not to leave out of mind altogether the possibility of having to set up such an inquiry in future.

I am very anxious—and I know there are others who are—about the situation as it exists. I suggest to the noble and learned Viscount who leads the House that if these Bills which will in due course come before your Lordships' House do not meet the situation, owing to the clash of opinion that may and probably will result as a consequence of these various bodies acting and speaking against each other, it may happen that it will be too late to establish the inquiry which I suggest. That is all that I propose to say this afternoon. I do not desire to detain your Lordships any longer, but I felt that it was necessary to put this point. In doing so I wish to say to your Lordships that I, for one, believe that there has been no time in the history of this country when it has been more necessary for Scotland and England to stick together, when we have to deal with all these vital and serious problems which have been discussed in your Lordships' House this afternoon—problems which are of equal importance to Scotland and England and in the solution of which both Englishmen and Scotsmen must take their part. Therefore my suggestion this afternoon is made with the object of seeking a solution which will prevent further and worse difficulties occurring in my country in the future.

On question, Motion agreed to nemine dissentiente, and Address to be presented to His Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.