HL Deb 12 February 1935 vol 95 cc867-97

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, the Bill, to the principle of which I ask your Lordships' assent this afternoon, deals with a subject which has been a source of considerable anxiety to His Majesty's Government for a great many months. The deplorable state of British shipping is well known in your Lordships' House and to the world outside, and it has been the subject of innumerable questions and debates in both Houses of Parliament during the last eighteen months. Your Lordships will no doubt remember that in this House the subject was debated on no fewer than three occasions during the last Session of Parliament. First of all, in February of last year, we had the Motion of my noble friend Lord Kinnaird, then, two months later, we had the Motion of the noble Lord opposite, Lord Strabolgi, and finally, last May, we had the Motion of the noble Lord who sits on the Liberal Benches, Lord Mottistone, who, I regret, is unable to be here to-day to take part in this debate. After that we had the statement of my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade, on the 3rd of July last in the House of Commons, and on that statement and the negotiations which followed it this Bill is based.

It may be convenient, before I come to the provisions of the Bill, if I say a few words about the state of British shipping in general and the reasons which have led the Government to the conclusions to which they have come. There are two main factors which have reduced shipping to the plight in which it now is. First of all, there is the reduction in the world freights. Although there was a very slight improvement last year, these are still 25 per cent. below those of 1929 and very little bigger than those of 1913. The second reason is the increase in the available tonnage, and although that is a little less than it was at this time last year, it is still 43 per cent. above that of 1929. When my right honourable friend made his statement on the Financial Resolution in another place, he stated that such indications of improvement as there have been have been entirely sporadic and have not really been maintained. The excess of tonnage to which I have referred has been very largely contributed to by the action of foreign Governments in subsidising their fleets and to show your Lordships what we are up against I have a few figures concerning the really vast sums which are being contributed by foreign Governments to their merchant fleets.

During the year 1932–33, the latest for which we have information, the subsidies for the operation of shipping, quite apart iron help given for the construction of merchant ships by the principal maritime nations, wore as follows:—The United States, $26,000,000, or about £5,000,000; France, 07,500,000 francs, or about £5,000,000; Italy 267,500,000 lire, or about £3,000,000; Japan, 13,672,000 yen, or about £1,000,000. These subsidies, so far as we know, have not been reduced since then. In addition Germany is giving a substantial amount of assistance to her mercantile marine. In fact I think the Scandinavian countries and Holland are the only nations in Europe which do not adopt the policy of subsidising their fleets, and I understand that even Holland is now giving some monetary assistance to her merchant shipping in order to make up for keeping on the gold standard. It must not be supposed that the Government have been content to sit down and do nothing in face of this very severe competition. As long ago as the World Conference of 1933 my right honourable friend and the Government did their best by discussions with foreign nations to induce them to modify or abolish their subsidies. I regret to say that those negotiations had no effect. Part of the policy laid down by my right honourable friend in his statement of July 3 last was that of sending communications to foreign countries on the same lines. Although we have not had replies from all countries, I regret to say that I am informed that these countries show very little more desire to abolish or in any way abate their subsidies than they did in 1933.

Now, my Lords, I should like to describe the position with regard to the various branches of the shipping industry under their different headings. First of all we have the tankers. The tanker companies have been able to promote international arrangements for laying up portions of their tonnage, and this arrangement has on the whole worked satisfactorily. Then we come to the liners. The passenger and the mixed cargo and passenger liners are for the most part members of conferences regu- lating world traffic. They are thus to a certain extent able to prevent undue competition, which has been so ruinous in the case of tramp shipping. Thirdly, we come to the coasters. The measure before your Lordships' House does not include coasting vessels, which are in a special position for the reason that their competition does not come from ships flying foreign flags, but from our own road and rail transport. Obviously it would be a wrong policy to raise the whole question of competition between shipping and road and rail transport in a Bill of this kind. Moreover, coasting vessels have had a certain amount of help during the last two or three years—first of all, in the exemption from the duty on fuel oil; and secondly, by the power given to the Railway Rates Tribunal to cancel or vary the rates charged by railway companies in competition with coastal carriers where such rates place the ships at an unfair disadvantage.

Next we come to the cargo liners. Those, as your Lordships may be aware, are ships that carry cargo with no passengers, or with only a small number of passengers, and run on regular routes in accordance with a definite schedule. They will not as a rule receive a subsidy under Part I of the Bill. If, however, a cargo liner should be employed as a tramp on a particular voyage and should fulfil the conditions it would be eligible for a subsidy in respect of that voyage. Then I come to the hardest pressed section of our shipping, the tramp steamer. It has become obvious to the Government that failing some monetary help such as this a great many of our cargo liners will be driven from the seas. At the same time, as was indicated in the House of Commons last July, it would he obviously impossible to give, as it were, an uncontrolled subsidy to the tramp steamer without some measure of reorganisation in the industry. This is a most important part of the Bill and the Government hope that full advantage will be taken of it. After a long series of discussions between the Board of Trade and the shipping industry, a scheme of organisation for the industry was devised, and this is set out in Part II of Section 2 of Command Paper No. 4754, which was issued last November and with which, no doubt, some of your Lordships are familiar.

The Government attach extreme importance to this proposal, and it is to be hoped that all sections of the shipping industry will unite to make it a success. This part of the scheme is based on the principle of self-government. It will be operated by the shipping industry without the participation of any Government Department in the various committees and sub-committees proposed, which will be non-statutory. The principal committee will be known as the Tramp Shipping Administrative Committee, and it is to be composed of both tramp owners and liner owners. Your Lordships may have observed that the names of the gentlemen who are to form this Committee were published in The Times of the 7th of this month. It is the hope of the Government that there will be the least possible dissipation of the subsidy as the result of internal competition, and that it will have the effect of securing greater employment of British ships and British seamen at the expense of foreign subsidised shipping.

A further condition of the Government's subsidy is that the shipowners themselves should, through their own organisation, press for an adjustment of the world's supply of tonnage. I think most people will agree that when this country abandoned the system of one-sided free imports some three years ago, it gave her power to speak with a stronger voice, and the result of that action has been the completion of various trade agreements, one of which we see now practically every month, with different foreign countries. In the same way I think I may say that, thanks to the proposed subsidy, the British shipowners have been able to talk on more equal terms with their foreign competitors, and a series of preliminary meetings of shipowners of this country and foreign shipowners has already taken place. They are only preliminary meetings, which it is hoped will be the forerunners of a general meeting later in the year, to which I am sure all your Lordships will wish the greatest possible success. Having regard to the action taken by the shipowners in respect of national and international organisation, His Majesty's Government have decided to pay a subsidy for eligible voyages carried out by tramp steamers registered in the United Kingdom during the present year. The total amount of the subsidy is not to exceed £2,000,000. The detailed arrangements are set out in the Command Paper No. 4754, to which I referred a few minutes ago.

The Board of Trade will be assisted in their administration of this subsidy by a committee known as the Tramp Shipping Subsidy Committee, which will be a statutory committee. The members thereof will be unpaid. Payment will be allowed for their staff—the secretary and other people whom they will have to employ—but the total administrative expenses, it is hoped, will not exceed £10,000. The Committee will advise generally, and in particular will examine claims for subsidy and make re-commendations regarding them. I am able to inform the House that the Chairman of the Committee is to be Sir Vernon Thomson, whose work in the preparation of the scheme has very largely made the present measure possible. To assist him a number of gentlemen have kindly consented to act. There are first of all five representatives of the tramp owners, Mr. M. K. Turnbull and Mr. Philip Haldin of London, Sir Arthur Sutherland of Newcastle, Mr. W. S. Miller of Glasgow, and Mr. Leighton Seager of Cardiff. Then there are two representatives of the cargo liners—namely, Sir Thomas Boyden of Liverpool and Mr. L. C. Harris of London, and, as an independent member, Sir Charles Hipwood, until lately the very able head of the Mercantile Marine Department of the Board of Trade. The Board of Trade are satisfied that this scheme will help tramp owners to resist foreign subsidised competition and secure more employment for British vessels, with the result, it is hoped, that the employment of large numbers of officers and men will be safeguarded, and that many of those who are unfortunately now unemployed will be put back into employment once more.

As regards Part II of the Bill before your Lordships, which deals with what is commonly known as the "scrap and build scheme," I think little explanation is required, but in the view of the Government it is an important part of the policy for restoring prosperity to our cargo shipping. It offers to cargo liner owners and tramp owners assistance to build or modernise in Great Britain cargo-carrying ships by lending them the necessary money on advantageous terms. A sum aggregating £10,000,000 may be used for this purpose, and it is estimated that that amount will be sufficient for the building of one million tons dead weight. The conditions of the loan will be that for every ton of new shipping built two tons of existing shipping must be scrapped; and for every ton of shipping modernised another ton of existing shipping must be scrapped, that is to say, ton for ton. The object of this condition is to ensure that the world's tonnage is reduced, and old ships replaced by efficient and up-to-date British ships. In the administration of this Part of the Bill, the Board of Trade will be assisted by another statutory committee called the Ships Replacement Committee, the names of the members of which I am sorry I am not yet in a position to state.

Now I come to the clauses of the Bill. The Bill is in three Parts. Part I consists entirely of Clause 1, and deals with the subsidy. It lays down the conditions under which the subsidy may be granted. Your Lordships will observe that the subsidy is intended for ships trading overseas, and shall not in any case be paid in respect of any voyage solely between ports in the United Kingdom, the Irish Free State, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. It also cannot be obtained by ships carrying more than twelve passengers, by refrigerated ships, by tankers or fishing boats. Also, in order to be eligible for the subsidy, a vessel must be registered at a port in the United Kingdom, and must have been a British ship since January 1, 1934, or, in the case of vessels completed after that date, since they were completed. In the, case of the latter vessels, they must have been built in the United Kingdom.

Now we come to Part II of the Bill, Clauses 2 to 5. They deal with the assistance to shipowners for improving their shipping fleets. Clause 2 gives to the Board of Trade power to make advances in respect of improvements with the consent of the Treasury and upon a recommendation made by the Ships Replacement Committee to which I referred a moment ago. Clause 3 lays down the proportion of demolition and rebuilding required; and your Lordships will observe that in subsection (2) the vessels in respect of which assistance may be given are vessels constructed for the carriage of not more than twelve passengers, which are employed in the carriage of commercial cargoes and are not employed mainly in voyages between ports within the United Kingdom, the Irish Free State, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, or in the maintaining of a regular service between such ports and ports of the Continent between the River Elbe and Brest inclusive. Clause 4 lays down the limit of advances to be made under this Part of the Bill, which, as I said, must not exceed £10,000,000, and it lays down a limit of two years from the date of the passing of the measure during which such advances may he made. It provides that any advance shall be secured by a first mortgage on any vessel in respect of the building or modernisation of which the advance is made, that the rate of interest shall not exceed 3 per cent. per annum and any advance shall be repayable within a period not exceeding twelve years. Clause 5 provides that Part II of the Bill is to come into operation at such date as may be appointed by the President of the Board of Trade with the consent of the Treasury. In this connection I am glad to be able to inform the House that my right honourable friend has received very encouraging advices as to the reception of this part of the scheme, and he hopes to bring it into operation as soon as possible after the passage of the Bill.


Reception by whom?


By the various interests concerned. Then we come to Part III. Clause 6, which should be read in connection with Clauses 1 and 3, relates to vessels to which Parts I and II apply, and it also contains a provision in subsection (3) for enabling disputes on certain specified points to be settled by the Board of Trade after consultation with the appropriate Advisory Committee. Clause 7 gives effect to a concession promised by the Government as to certain fees paid by the shipping and ship-building industries for services rendered by the Board of Trade. Clause 8 is merely the short title of the Bill.

My Lords, that is the Bill. I have explained to the best of my ability the provisions of the Bill, and have gone, I hope not at undue length, into a short description of the position of the industry and the reasons which have led the Government to the conclusions which they have reached. I think your Lordships will agree that the Bill, although a short one, is one of very great importance. His Majesty's Government are fully aware of the evil effects of subsidies, as such, and it was not until after the fullest consideration and consultation with the interests involved that His Majesty's Government came to the conclusion to grant the subsidy. Desperate conditions require serious remedies, and no one of your Lordships who ever goes, as I am able to do sometimes, into the ports of our country and who sees the vast amount of tramp shipping which is laid up in those ports, and the few ships sailing under the Red Ensign coming in and going out of those ports, and worst of all, the enormous numbers of fine officers and men who are, and have been for some years, out of berths, can doubt that the position is exceedingly serious.

I cannot conclude my remarks without paying a tribute, in which I am sure your Lordships will join, to the fine body of officers and men of the British merchant service, and I hope that when the history of these times comes to be written the historian will reserve a special chapter showing the fine services rendered by these men in peace and war, and the magnificent way in which they have borne their hardships during the post-War period. This Bill is admittedly a temporary measure. It is a measure which aims at giving financial assistance to a hard-pressed industry, thereby enabling it, we hope, to put back into employment a good part of the magnificent material to which I have just referred. It is a measure which the Government consider will be well worth the subsidy demanded from the British taxpayer, and as such we confidently recommend it to the judgment of your Lordships. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Templemore.)


My Lords, I am sure that my noble friends on this side of the House, who have asked me to say a few words on this Bill, would echo every sentence of the eloquent ending of the noble Lord's speech, when he referred to the debt that we owe, as a nation, to the officers and seamen of the British mercantile marine. I think also my noble friends will agree with me when I say that the noble Lord has given a short and concise, but nevertheless clear and full, description of the Bill. The whole question of assistance to shipping has engaged your Lordships' attention on several occasions and, as the noble Lord who introduced the Bill was good enough to remind your Lordships, I myself ventured to offer a few remarks last summer, making certain suggestions for assisting a hard-pressed British industry. I should be less than human if I did not recognise that I was thinking on similar lines to the Government, because, partly at any rate, one of my suggestions has been embodied in Part II of the Bill.

With regard to Part I, which provides for the voyage subsidy to be paid, I suppose it could be argued that this is absolutely necessary in view of the plight of the British mercantile marine; but why is it in this plight? The noble Lord's explanation is that there are too many ships—apparently too many British ships—and he is proposing to reduce the number of British ships in spite of the vital necessity of a mercantile marine to the maritime power of this country.


Too little trade.


Why is there too little trade? Because His Majesty's Government, with other Governments, have been doing their best to prevent overseas trade. They have created this disease, and are helping to inoculate the world with this illness, and they now bring forward what is really only a temporary and quack remedy. Subsidies are no cure for this disease. I see that the Paymaster-General is listening to this debate, and I recall to mind his remarks about the evils of subsidies on the occasion when we discussed the Depressed Areas Bill. Of course a subsidy to a private industry is in itself mischievous, and is no cure for a disease created by the Government's deliberate policy, including the refusal to allow overseas lending, and the general nationalism which is afflicting the whole world. There is the situation, and we have to try and tackle it. Our remedy of course would be entirely different. We believe that all transport, whether by air, sea or land, should be a great public service. But, short of that, let us examine this Bill and, while praising it in parts, see where it needs amendment.

The first comment I would make is that there is no direct provision in the Bill for remedying the suffering of those magnificent officers and men of the mercantile marine who are at present idle, and in some cases have been forced into other occupations and are therefore lost to the maritime power of this nation. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent the all-too-prevalent practice of employing foreign seamen in British merchant ships. The President of the Board of Trade, in another pla[...]e, and Mr. Ropner, who constituted himself the spokesman of the shipowners, say that of course the Committee to be set up will never allow subsidies to be paid to ships which break the law by employing foreigners both on the bridge and in the forecastle. In that ease why not put that provision in the Bill? And why is not some minimum standard of wages and accommodation, such as is agreed to by the Joint Maritime Board, insisted on in the Bill as a condition for paying out subsidies to the shipowners?

This question of employing foreigners in British ships is most serious. We on these Benches are internationalists, but at the same time we put our own people first, and as long as I have a voice with which I can give utterance I shall protest against the employment of foreigners in British ships, especially when the ships are subsidised, while these magnificent British seamen are walking the streets without berths. Fifty thousand foreigners, including Asiatics of British or doubtful nationality, are now serving under the Red Ensign as against 40,000 British seamen unemployed. Those 50,000 foreigners include Lascars, Arabs and Chinese. The Chinese are good seamen, as they are good soldiers. I have had experience of serving with them, and I know their good maritime qualities, but they have one characteristic. Wherever they really hail from they all say they come from Hong Kong. There are more Chinamen serving under the Bed Ensign than the whole maritime population of Hong Kong. It is the same with Arabs. They nearly all bear the name Mahomed Ali, and they all claim to come from Aden. With regard to the Lascars, while I am all for helping the employment of British Indian seamen, I do say that we should set our faces against the employment of Indian subjects on British ships at the same time as we have these British seamen unemployed. Indians themselves are helping to create unemployment in this country by putting on heavy tariffs against us and I do not see why we should allow preference to be given to Indian seamen over domiciled British seamen who are now idle, in view of the great volume of unemployment in our own ports.

There is another question with regard to the Arabs which is, I submit, deserving of your Lordships' attention. It is stated that this matter does not arise because no Lascars sail in tramp ships. That is a mistake. That statement was made in another place and since then the evidence has been placed in my hands. I have here particulars of three tramp ships manned by Lascars. These Arabs settle down in this country, unlike the Lascars, form alliances with white women, and create colonies of half-caste children in Bristol, Cardiff, Hull, Liverpool and other cities. I have nothing against them because they are Arabs or because they are Mahomedans, but these colonies of half-caste children are creating a social problem in the seaports—a social problem that has exercised the local authorities, and especially the education authorities. There has been a good deal of lawlessness as a result. When you get these mixtures of Arabs in the working-class districts of a great seaport you are bound to have occasional clashes, and we have had most regrettable troubles in the seaport that I had the honour to represent for some years in another place. That social evil which has been created is an additional reason why my noble friends would support me, I know, in an Amendment providing that the subsidy should be paid only when a reasonable proportion of European domiciled white seamen of British nationality are employed.

I have a case here of a tramp steamer rejoicing in the British name of "Farnham," official number 119,873, owners the Delta Steamship Company, of St. Mary Axe, London. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Essendon, is familiar with the workings of this company.




He is not. I knew he had nothing to do with it. His very successful and respected company would have nothing to do with a ship of this kind. I have here the list of her crew, as signed on at Antwerp before the British Consul. This is a British ship eligible for subsidy as the Bill is drawn. Her master is an Italian. The first mate is an Italian. We then come to a British subject in the second mate, who comes from Barbadoes. The bos'n is an Estonian. The only three able seamen on board are Estonians. The one ordinary seaman is an Estonian. The first, second, and third engineers are Italians. It used to be said that if you went to the engine room door of a British ship and shouted "Mac" the chief engineer would answer you. But in this case you would have to call out the names of Pietro Calabe, the first engineer, Pietro Messing, the second engineer, and Giannetta Dameneto, the third engineer. The donkey man is an Italian. There are on board six firemen and trimmers, of whom one is a Spaniard, one an Estonian, one an Italian, two Yugoslav citizens, and the last is an Italian. The steward is a Bulgarian, the cook is an Italian, the galley boy is a Pole, rejoicing in the name of Bolescair Bastnol, and then we come to the one British domiciled subject, the wireless operator, Charles Watson of Wellington, New Zealand.

But this is not the end of the story. There is a recognised scale of pay, none too high for men who risk the perils of the sea, and are separated from their families on long voyages, carrying our produce on the high seas. I have here the list of the wages recognised by the National Maritime Board and the wages paid on board this British vessel, eligible for subsidy under this Bill as drawn. The master's wages are not stated. The first mate receives £12 a month as against the National Maritime Board's rate of £17 2s. Now we see why the first mate is an Italian. The second mate, who comes from Barbadoes, gets £8 instead of £13 19s. The bos'n, an Estonian, gets £5 instead of £9 12s., the rate laid down by the Board. The able seamen get £4 a month, and the National Maritime Board's rate is £8 2s. a month. So it goes on. The noble Earl, Lord Peel, cheered the fact that at any rate this company had the decency to employ a New Zealander as wireless operator. Well, the wireless operator instead of getting under the Board's scale, £11 14s. a month is actually getting £7 10s. Now, this is a British ship. They will be eligible for the subsidy under this Bill.

Are your Lordships content that they should receive it? Is that the intention of the Bill? I hope if I have carried your Lordships with me so far that you will support my noble friends in an Amendment that the subsidy shall not be paid unless a reasonable number of British domiciled seamen are employed. I must answer at once one argument that will be used. It will be said: "Oh well, you know, you must employ Asiatic labour in the tropics." I have served on board ship a great deal in the tropics, and that is a complete fallacy. You need not do anything of the kind. The white seaman has more stamina, and he resists the unnatural heat of the stokehold better than the man born and bred in the tropics. Every experienced seaman who has been in the tropics will bear me out in that. It is quite unnecessary to employ these Asiatics on racial grounds. The real reason, of course, is that they draw lower pay.

Now I come to what is only a secondary criticism of the Bill, but nevertheless a criticism. It relates to the Statutory Committee that has been set up. Everybody who has had experience of Sir Charles Hipwood knows the great knowledge and industry that he applied to his work at the Board of Trade, and to his perhaps unexampled knowledge of shipping; but with the exception of Sir Charles Hipwood all the members of the Committee who will advise on the distribution of the money to themselves and their friends are shipowners. I do not make any attack on them. If they can persuade the Government to appoint them to man a Committee to distribute the taxpayers' money in their own interests, well, I congratulate them, but I do not think that is a very good principle from the State's point of view. Sir Charles Hipwood is the only independent representative. I am going to suggest at a further stage of this Bill that the bodies representing the officers and seamen who are members of the National Maritime Board should be invited to nominate two members on this Committee. I think it is only right that the officers and seamen who had such well deserved eulogies paid to them by the noble Lord who spoke for the Government, should be represented on this Committee. I gave notice to the noble Lord that I would ask him whether they would be invited to nominate members. From his speech apparently they will not, but perhaps he will accept an Amendment to that effect.

I have spoken already of the omission with regard to the employment of British seamen. There is another omission, and that is that the rate of wages agreed upon by the National Maritime Board need not, apparently, according to the Bill, be paid; and the same thing applies to manning conditions. In another place Mr. Ropner, speaking for the shipowners, who are immensely strong in another place—nearly as strong as they are in your Lordships' House—said: "Of course we agree; we would not think of allowing a subsidy to be paid to a ship which did not follow the National Maritime Board's recommendations." If so, why not insert it in the Bill? I will, with your Lordships' leave, propose an Amendment to that effect at a later stage. I know I shall carry with me Lord Essendon when I say that it is unfair to the good shipowners that when the National Maritime Board have agreed with the majority of shipowners, and the shipowners follow the recommendations with regard to wages and with regard to accommodation and other conditions of that Board, a few blackleg shipowners should break the agreement entered into and under-cut their competitors. In the interests of the industry as a whole it would be bettor if no subsidies were paid to such blackleg owners.

May I ask the noble Lord also for a little explanation as to what is meant by subsection (3) of Clause 1? The noble Lord explained that it was hoped there would be an end made of unreasonable competition. These were not his exact words, but that was his meaning. We are entitled, I think, to a little more enlightenment, because I see danger here. This Bill may facilitate the formation of a very great uncontrolled shipping monopoly, and that, I believe, would not be in the interest of the nation. In that connection I shall have a word to say about the North Atlantic liner trade and certain recent events.

Clause 3, I think, is altogether admirable—that is, the "scrap-and-build" policy—with one reservation. It is rather a pity we are going to insist on two ships being scrapped for every new ship built. That is reducing world tonnage by reducing the British mercantile marine. The British mercantile marine plays a very important part in the national economy. It helps our invisible exports, it helps the balance of trade. If we should be involved in another war, we should be absolutely dependent for our existence on our own mercantile marine. Everyone in your Lordships' House knows that. The officers and men of the mercantile marine are an irreplaceable reserve for the Royal Navy. Under this Bill you are going to reduce the British mercantile marine by, perhaps, 750,000 tons. If you hope to build a million tons of new shipping, you will have to scrap twice as many tons of old shipping. I would have supported with great heartiness a proposal that we should replace ton for ton. I cannot allow this to pass without a protest from a national point of view, and I hope your Lordships will support me in that protest. Apart from that, I think the proposal to provide loans at cheap rates for shipbuilding will assist the shipbuilding industry, which is another hard-hit industry, also of great importance to the country, and will assist owners in replacing ships. It is one of the proposals I ventured to submit to your Lordships last summer myself.

With regard to the finance, as far as I can gather the moneys are to be provided from the Consolidated Fund and when, in due course, they are repaid, they will be used for the reduction of National Debt. Does that mean that the £12,000,000 is to be provided out of taxation and, when repaid, to go to the reduction of National Debt? If that is the case I submit it would have been a better policy to have raised a shipping loan, instead of putting a further burden on the taxpayer. Money is still cheap in the City of London. I should have thought a three per cent. loan with a twelve years' sinking fund would have gone very well indeed. It would have been oversubscribed. The other day the Tata Power Company with a Government guarantee made an issue with interest at two per cent. at 98, and that was over-subscribed. Surely we could have raised a very large shipping loan in the money market with a Government guarantee, at a low rate of interest, instead of the taxpayer having to find the money.

That brings me to the case of the Red Star Line which I gave notice to the noble Lord, Lord Templemore, and also to the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, I in tended to raise. We have heard this afternoon ringing, burning words from the noble Lord about the plight of the British mercantile marine and the plight of unfortunate officers and seamen who cannot get berths, and how important it is to the nation to foster our mercantile marine. Let us see what happens in practice. The Government with another subsidy encourage the formation of a great monopoly in Transatlantic liner traffic—the big liners of the luxury type owned by the White Star-Cunard merger. Because this monopoly was formed—this was admitted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in another place—the Government and the Bank of England prevented an enterprising group of merchant adventurers, private individuals, from buying five vessels belonging to the British Red Star Line from the American owners. Eventually two were bought by the Americans and three were bought by a German shipping company, because the Treasury and the Bank of England used their combined veto to prevent money being raised for the purchase of these ships and the running of a cheap passenger service across the Atlantic for the benefit of the small man.

The result is that the competition remains, with this difference, that instead of being under the British flag, it will be under the German flag, doubtless with much assistance from the German Government, and five admirable ships suitable as auxiliary cruisers, which these great liners are not, because of their size, are lost to this country, together with the loss in employment for our own officers and seamen. Because this monopoly has been created by the Government and because they do not like competition—that is the avowed reason—they used the regulations against the export of capital to prevent this thing being done. With the greatest respect to the noble Viscount, the Secretary of State for War, who leads your Lordships' House, I submit it is time the Government spoke with one voice in these matters. Here we are asked to approve of £12,000,000 of the taxpayers' money being used for the support, of the British mercantile marine, and when private individuals, without assistance from the Government, are prepared to run a line of five suitable vessels across the Atlantic they are prohibited by another Department of State. The Board of Trade are asking in this Bill for £12,000,000 of the taxpayers' money to subsidise the British mercantile marine, on the one hand, and, on the other, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is preventing this North Atlantic shipping line from being formed. Those who say it is time we got back to Party politics—even if we call it the "Party dog-fight"—have my complete sympathy. At any rate, we should know where we are. At present we have this conglomeration calling itself the National Government that does not know its own policy from one week to another. Perhaps this is a little irrelevant to the Bill, but I could not resist the opportunity of saying what the Secretary of State for War no doubt feels in his own heart.

I am very glad to see a very distinguished member of your Lordships' House present, the noble Lord, Lord Essendon. I hope the noble Lord is going to expand the very important speech he made, which was reported in The Times newspaper on February 5 last, because when we are talking of assistance for British shipping I think the Government should pay attention to what the noble Lord, with his great knowledge of the finance and working of shipping and insurance, publishes to the world. He quoted cases of British vessels being sold to foreigners and then insured by the London insurance market at lower rates. Of course, we know that foreign shipowners have to be attracted to the London insurance market, but surely that is carrying things a little too far. This is a subsidy, provided not by the wicked Japanese or French or Americans, but by the underwriters and insurance brokers of the City of London to foreign shipowners.

The noble Lord also referred to the very great scandal which I mentioned last summer of foreign vessels overloading and being allowed to come into our ports too heavily laden for safety, and he quoted the case of British ships being sold to foreigners and the same ships entering a British port with an additional tonnage of 600 tons over and above what they would have been allowed if they had remained under the Red Ensign. I agree with the noble Lord, that is a grave scandal, and it should long ago have attracted the attention of the Board of Trade. As the noble Lord is in his place and I hope will speak on the Bill, I will not follow the matter any further now. Your Lordships can see why it is that shipowners sell their vessels to foreign owners. If they get this sort of preferential treatment, I am going to suggest to your Lordships that, as the Government have not followed out one of the proposals I as well as other noble Lords ventured to make last summer—namely, that we should prohibit the sale of these old ships to foreigners to be then run to death under sweated conditions in direct competition with ours—they should put in the Bill a provision that any vessel that receives help in the way of subsidy for its voyages, or any vessel that is built or modernised under Part II with a subsidy from the taxpayers shall not be permitted to be sold to a foreigner without the written consent of the Board of Trade. I think it would be extremely bad business to subsidise shipping and then allow the ships at a favourable opportunity to be sold to foreigners.

Those are the criticisms I have to make of the Bill, but that does not mean to say that, things being as they are, there is not a great deal to be said for it. I hope it will save many shipping companies from having to lay up their vessels, and I hope it will lead to the recommissioning and sending to sea of some of the vessels now laid up and referred to by the noble Lord. The noble Lord, Lord Templemore, spoke of the importance of this Bill. I speak with great diffidence in this matter, but I do not think any subject is of more importance to your Lordships' House than the welfare of the British mercantile marine. Before we were a maritime nation we were of very small account in the world. Such greatness as we have developed has been owing to our enterprise and success as navigators, as explorers and as traders, and anything that weakens the British mercantile marine weakens the body politic of England, and anything that strengthens the British mercantile marine strengthens the national economy and the welfare of our people. My noble friends have asked me to say that, of course, they have no intention of dividing against the Bill, but we will try and amend it in Committee, and we hope we cart make it into a useful measure.


My Lords, the noble Lord who has just spoken has expressed a desire that I should intervene in this debate, and, as one who is interested in the shipping industry, I venture to express the hope that your Lordships will see your way to pass this Bill. Although, as I say, I am interested in the industry, those companies with which I am concerned will only participate to a very small extent in this particular subsidy and, therefore, I cart more or less speak in an impartial manner. The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, has made some very interesting observations, and before I deal with certain of his criticisms I would like to make a few remarks on the general situation, if I may.

The noble Lord, Lord Templemore, in introducing the Bill, described to your Lordships the very serious position of the tramp section of the shipping industry. I may say that the whole of the industry considered the position some months ago and came to the conclusion that if the tramp people could justify to the Government the need of a subsidy it would be supported by the other sections of the industry, and the other sections of the industry have come to the conclusion that that request has been justified. There is a very proper dislike of subsidies, and I agree that it would be well if the whole pernicious system could be swept away. Both the Chamber of Shipping and the Liverpool Steam Ship Owners' Association, representing the shipping interests of this country, have hitherto deprecated subsidies, but the continuation and the expansion of uneconomic subsidies by certain foreign countries has made it impossible for tramp owners, in their opinion, to continue. The benefit they have proved to the country, as a whole, and the necessary part they have hitherto played in national defence have made the continuance of the industry a matter of the utmost national importance.

The temporary nature of the assistance in the Bill will be noted. I imagine that the objects of the Government in this connection are two-fold. First, to persuade other countries who have not so far entered the subsidy arena to hold their hands in the hope that at the end of the temporary period of one year the second object of the Government will have been achieved. The second object was explained by the President of the Board of Trade in another place when he stipulated, amongst other things, that an effort should he made to arrive at an international agreement to regulate the supply of tonnage to the trade of the world. Tramp shipowners, pending an improvement in international trade, have been carrying the goods of the world at less than cost price, which is the inevitable result of a large supply of tonnage over demand. But British shipowners have not lost any time in complying with the request of the President of the Board of Trade. A preliminary international conference has already been held in London. All the maritime nations of the world were there represented—seventeen in all. It is not a light task to get seventeen countries into unanimous agreement, and it will be obvious to noble Lords that something at any rate approaching unanimity is necessary to a scheme of this kind, otherwise those who stand out get all the benefit at the expense of those who come in.

As experience has shown in other fields, it is difficult to obtain international agreement on any subject. It would not be desirable to overstate the case or to raise false hopes, but I may say that the results of the preliminary conference were at any rate hopeful. A scheme was agreed for submission to the different countries, and I hope that a full conference will be held at an early date. No good purpose would be served in burdening your Lordships with the details of the scheme. I may say that this conference limited itself entirely to the question of rationalisation. The question of subsidies, on which it would be obviously impossible to obtain agreement in so short a time, was not discussed. Before the War the traffic of the world, as a general rule, used to employ the ships that were available. These ships were provided by private enterprise and gave to trade regular and economic facilities for the transportation of their goods. If trade declined and there was a depression in the shipping industry, then ships ceased to be built. If the reverse happened, more ships were built.

In the olden days there was a free freight market and the merchants of the world were able to charter the most suitable ships available without regard to flag. Then, after the War, there developed a spirit of economic nationalism and countries with little interest in the carrying trade of the world came into the market on varying pretexts—in some eases for the purpose of being independent in the event of another war, in some cases for the purpose of carrying their own products regardless of the fact that it cost them more either by subsidies or losses in trading, and in other cases for the purpose of using vessels as auxiliaries for naval needs. Subsidies granted to meet these conditions were obviously uneconomic. In the last instance, that of providing tonnage to meet naval needs, it generally happens that the cost of construction and operation exceeds that in other countries. But whatever the reasons, the granting of these subsidies has created a huge expense to national exchequers and a mass of ships far beyond traffic requirements, and has penalised both the shipbuilding and the shipping industries of the world. To return to healthy conditions in the shipping industry it is essential that subsidies throughout the world should either be cancelled or at any rate very seriously modified and curtailed. It is reasonable to assume that if a scheme were agreed internationally among shipowners which would secure a fair approximation of the supply of tonnage to demand and so restore shipping to a more prosperous condition, the problem of subsidies would partly disappear and for the rest would he far more capable of solution than it has hitherto appeared.

Objection has been made in some quarters, although it has not been voiced to-day by the noble Lord, that the subsidy should not apply to vessels trading between foreign ports. Broadly speaking, all the ports of the world are open to British ships and British ports are open to foreign ships. A certain amount of United Kingdom shipping has been done by foreign vessels, but a still greater amount of trade of other countries has been done by British vessels. The result has been that our shipping expanded on a sound economic basis and that when the War broke out we had sufficient reserves of tonnage to meet our economic and our naval requirements. The adoption of subsidies by so many other countries and the tendency in some countries to give preference of one kind or another to their own ships are admittedly threatening the maintenance of this policy, but the view of the shipping industry as a whole has been that we should do everything in our power to maintain that policy. If there are those who feel that the subsidy which is proposed for British shipping should be confined to vessels trading to the United Kingdom, let them ask themselves what would be the logical outcome of that suggestion. Our tramp shipping would in a short time be reduced to the requirements of the United Kingdom, or at most to the requirements of the British Empire for such tonnage, and the consequent reduction in the number of officers, engineers and seamen employed would give grave concern to those who now apparently feel that it is undesirable to extend this proposed relief to ships employed between foreign ports. I have not referred to the contribution of those ships to British invisible exports because that is obvious.

During the period that this Bill has been before Parliament it has been suggested in some quarters that it is unworthy of support because shipowners made excessive profits during the War and have been guilty of profligacy and inefficiency. That criticism has not been voiced to-day, but it is a matter of some importance and I think in justification of British shipowners it should be pointed out that the British shipping industry was more heavily taxed than that of any other country. The Excess Profits tax at one period was as high as [...]0 per cent. The rates of freight were more rigorously controlled and British shipping was more completely requisitini ed than the shipping of any other country, and received blue book rates, properly very much lower than the market rates. For the last twelve or eighteen months of the War the whole tonnage of the country came into this category. During this period neutral shipping, free from the taxation and other obligations of war, was enabled to obtain full market rates, and with the resultant profits afterwards increased their fleets far beyond the pre-War figure. It must be admitted that in some eases individual shipowners sold their vessels at the top of the market, buttoned up their pockets and went out of business, but, generally speaking, earnings were retained in the industry.

Eight million tons of shipping were torpedoed during the War, and passenger liners, cargo liners and tramps had to be replaced. On account of the uncertainty and fluctuation of costs of both wages and material, ship builders were unwilling to build at fixed prices and replacements took place on what was then known as the "time and line" basis, that was, actual cost plus a percentage to cover standing charges and profits. I can remember cases where the original estimates were exceeded by 30 per cent., and I know of ships that were built twelve or thirteen years ago at a cost of £400,000 that to-day cannot be sold for £40,000. As to efficiency, it suffices to say that the volume of United Kingdom shipping is to-day only 10 per cent. less than pre War. Thirty-nine per cent, of its tonnage is less than ten years of age, as compared with 21 per cent. of the tonnage of the rest of the world. Only 7 per cent. is over twenty-five years of age, as compared with 21 per cent. for the rest of the world.

To come to sonic of the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, objection has been made in regard to the question of the rate of wages. So far as I know there are no blackleg shipowners at all—that is, none paying less than the National Maritime Board scale of wages. The noble Lord referred to a vessel called the "Farnham.," owned by the Delta Shipping Company. As he rightly apprehended, I have nothing to do with that ship or with the company owning it, but I will make inquiries and I think I can promise that the subsidy will not be paid in that case if conditions are as he stated. I shall not be personally interested in the administration of the subsidy, but I know what is the intention of the administrating committee, and that is not to give the subsidy to vessels not paying the National Maritime Board rate of wages.

I rather gather that the noble Lord thinks that the Bill ought to ensure a greater measure of employment for British seamen. That is a point upon which there is great misconception. It has been asked what would be thought of a mine owner or manufacturer who imported foreign labour to work in this country. Well, British shipowners are doing quite the reverse. They not only employ all the United Kingdom seamen who could find employment in doing 100 per cent. of the carrying trade of, and to and from the United Kingdom, but in addition to that, vessels of the United Kingdom employ many thousands abroad in carrying for other countries both British and foreign. If British shipping carried the whole of the United Kingdom's trade exclusively and no more, and employed British seamen domiciled in the United Kingdom in that trade, they would employ something like 90,000 seamen and they would have to throw out of employment no fewer than 34,000 seamen now employed in foreign trade. In addition to that, shipowners employ citizens of the Empire from India, the West Indies, Hong Kong and elsewhere. There are, I believe, special circumstances where foreigners are employed. I do not know where the noble Lord got his figure of 50,000, but I am informed that approximately only 6 per cent. of the whole of the seamen employed are foreign subjects, and that where they are employed there are special circumstances. I would like to say that the proportion of foreigners and even of non-United Kingdom seamen employed in tramp ships is so low as to be almost negligible. I think I am right in saying that the figure is just over one per cent. I can assure the noble Lord that the administrating committee will take this matter into the fullest possible consideration and will see that unless the fullest employment is given to British seamen ships will not receive the subsidy.


Will the noble Lord forgive me if I ask him a question?




Would the noble Lord support an Amendment of the Bill to make that quite certain?


I do not know that an Amendment is really necessary. That of course is a matter for the noble Lord who will reply on behalf of the Government, but with the assurance which has been given, and to which I can promise the noble Lord effect will be given, I should have thought an Amendment was entirely unnecessary. I am sure that the noble Lord can rely upon that being done.


I do not want the noble Lord to misunderstand me. I entirely accept his word and his assurance, but he, after all, is not the Committee.


I would have no objection whatever to an Amendment being inserted in the Bill if the Govern- meat so decided, but that is a matter for the Government to decide. Personally, I should not see any objection to it. As I have assured the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, I have the case of the "Farnham" in my mind. He has given us particulars of the heterogeneous collection of nationalities of which the crew of that ship is composed, and I think I may say that that will be looked into. Generally speaking, I can assure your Lordships that any shipowner not paying the Maritime Board rates of wages and not employing a British crew when he ought to will not benefit by the subsidy. I think the noble Lord did refer to the question of accommodation. There has been a certain amount of careless and exaggerated talk upon that subject. I can assure noble Lords that shipowners are only too desirous of providing proper and adequate accommodation, and in any event there are definite Board of Trade Regulations which have to be complied with.

The question of the constitution of the Committee is, I think, a matter for the spokesman of the Government to deal with, but I may say that the money 'is to be expended in the interests of British shipping, and I think the constitution of the Committee is evidence that that will be done. They will not be able to disburse a larger amount than the £2,000,000 which has already been provided by the Government. They will simply have to apply the £2,000,000 which they have already got, and they will have to do it in the best interests of British shipping. I am sure they can be relied upon to do it properly. On the question of insurance the noble Lord has quoted some remarks I made in a lecture which I gave to the Insurance Institute about a week ago. I did draw attention to the allegation that British ships sold to foreigners could be insured on the British market more cheaply than they could be insured when they were under the British flag. That is simply an allegation that I quoted. I did not state it as a fact, and the Institute have promised to look into that matter and to safeguard it as far as they can. In regard to the question of overloading, I did quote the case to which the noble Lord referred. The country of that particular vessel has since signed the Load Line Agreement, and I hope that anything of that kind will not be possible in the future.

The noble Lord also referred to the question of the sale of ships abroad. If a British shipowner has got a ship laid up which, even though she is not over twenty years of age, will probably never go to sea again, she costs a great deal of money, probably £5 to £6 per day, and if he can get a larger sum from a foreign shipowner who wishes to buy that ship, I do not know why he should not be at liberty to sell it. British ships are as much an export as linen goods or cotton goods or anything else. Ships are part of our export trade, and if a ship is useless for the purposes of a British shipowner, I do not see why he should not be at liberty to sell her to a foreigner who, I am afraid, will not make much money out of her under present conditions. With regard to certain comments about the Red Star Line, I think I am in a rather delicate position as a director of the Cunard-White Star Line, and I will leave that for the noble Lord who replies to the debate to deal with.

I think I have dealt with all the points that the noble Lord has raised, but should like to mention one other, to which the noble Lord, Lord Templemore, has already referred. That point is that to the extent to which British vessels displace foreign vessels in the trade of the world by the help of the subsidy, more employment will be given to British officers and seamen, and I think I am right in saying that the principal representatives of both those bodies of men support the Bill. For the reasons which I have given I hope your Lordships will see your way to pass this Bill.


My Lords, those of us who sit upon these Benches have been, as a rule, opposed to subsidies. I have been very much interested in the very clear exposition given by the noble Lord in charge of the Bill, as well as in the very interesting speech of the noble Lord, Lord Essendon, whose knowledge of British shipping is probably unrivalled in this House, and almost in the country. I agree with the noble Lord who introduced the Bill, and with Lord Strabolgi, that the mercantile marine is one of the greatest assets of our country, and that it is absolutely essential to the prosperity of our country that we should maintain a strong mercantile marine and a body of men who can man our ships and keep our overseas trade going, not only to our own Dominions and Colonies, but throughout the world. I very well remember a time about thirty years ago when the Cunard Company sought the assistance of a Conservative Government for a subsidy. Many of us opposed a subsidy at that particular time.

I remember having a conversation with Lord Balfour, and I told him, being at that time interested in a. large shipbuilding company, that I believed that we, in this country, were capable of building new ships in competition with any other nation in the world, that we had advantages in Great Britain which no other country possessed in being able to build all the year round owing to our climatic conditions, whilst in every other country many of their shipbuilding yards suffered from either excessive heat or excessive winter conditions which made shipbuilding very difficult. I also said that, apart from that, we could get from our shipbuilders better results than could be got in any other country, and that if Cunarders or any other liners could be bought by a foreigner we could then build new ships which would be able to compete satisfactorily with The ships which we sold to foreigners. But owing to the state of subsidies, I do admit that the position has changed, and that it is necessary for us to compete with other countries in connection with the carrying of overseas trade. I was grateful to Lord Essendon for denouncing the principle of subsidies and saying that he would like to see them cancelled and done away with all over the world. I believe that that is the right policy and one which we should try to promote. But this Bill is a temporary Bill granting £10,000,000 to be expended in about two years.


Twelve years.


It is limited in period. Of course, one foresees the difficulty of starting a subsidy against other countries who are subsidising and then dropping it, because you get a certain amount of capital introduced on the basis of a subsidy, and the difficulty of carrying on an industry in competition with other countries which may continue subsidies must be manifest. However, I hope that the influence which we may exert by creating a subsidy on this occasion may induce other countries to come to their senses more and to reduce their subsidies, so that after the passage of two years we may be on a fairer competitive footing with other nations.

The one question which I really rose to ask of the Government is whether they can tell us how much of the subsidies which are at present being given by other countries are being diverted into helping the passenger lines and the big liners of other countries, and how much is spent in connection with the tramp shipping carrying trade. As I read this Bill, it appears to me that a great proportion of the contributions which are being given to assist the shipbuilding and ship-owning interests in this country is going to be devoted to tramps. If it is to be in competition with subsidies given to tramps abroad, I have nothing further to say, but of course if other countries are subsidising liners and not tramps, the case for continuing a big system of subsidies for tramp owners to a large extent falls to the ground. I would like the noble Lord, if he can, to tell us to what extent the foreign subsidies are directed to helping the tramps, and how far to helping the liners carrying passengers.


My Lords, we have had an interesting debate on this Bill. I will answer the question of Lord Gainford before I go into the other questions which have been raised by the noble Lord opposite, because I am able to do that more quickly. I am afraid I am unable to give Lord Gainford the information which he seeks. I will ask my advisers at the Board of Trade if they will send him the information, or if he likes to ask again on the Motion to go into Committee on this Bill next week, I shall be happy to give him an answer.

The noble Lord opposite has raised various points regarding the Bill. I was very glad to hear that he approved almost entirely of Pall II, but he did not approve of Part I, and I did not imagine he would. He brought forward a very amusing case of a particular ship. It must have taken him a good deal of time and forethought to discover that case. I do not think there can be many such cases. It almost seemed to be a ship out of a sort of fairyland. However, if he says it is an existing case I, of course, accept that, but I hope and believe that there are not many ships in the merchant service like that. The chief objections which the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, had to this Bill, were to a certain extent answered by my noble friend behind me, but I would like to reinforce his answers by some observations on behalf of the Government. He complains of the fact that no provision is made in the Bill regarding the conditions under which men work on these tramp steamers. He has claimed, and I think his supporters in another place claimed, that the crews of such subsidised ships should be accorded better conditions of employment than those applicable to crews employed on other ships. As regards that, I think there can be no question of enforcing on subsidised ships, in matters for which statutory standards are prescribed, requirements in excess of these standards. To do this would conflict with the primary purpose of the subsidy, which is to enable British ships to compete more effectively with their foreign subsidised competitors. In any case the Government consider that the grant of a temporary subsidy to a section of our mercantile marine is clearly not the occasion for a review of the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Acts. If the provisions of those Acts require to be strengthened, this should be effected in the ordinary way, by amending the Acts so as to make the amended provisions generally applicable.

Then he raised the question of alien seamen and British seamen not domiciled in the United Kingdom. As regards these subjects I can only say that there is no statutory obligation requiring employment to be confined to British subjects, and it would be impossible to adopt a suggestion that distinction should be made between British seamen domiciled in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. As regards this, may I say that the Government are of opinion that the owners of the ships concerned will pay full regard to the views expressed in this House and in another place, and to what they know to be public opinion, as to the desirability of giving employment to British seamen to the fullest possible extent. Sir Vernon Thomson, Chairman of the Tramp Shipping Subsidy Committee, has, I know, called attention to this in a circular which he has issued explaining the provisions of the Bill.

Again, the noble Lord opposite found fault with the fact that nothing was said about the subsidy not being paid to owners of tramp ships who evaded their obligations to pay the rates of wages prescribed by the National Maritime Board. On this I would say that the Government do not consider that the grant of a temporary subsidy to a section of our mercantile marine is a suitable occasion for bringing within statutory control matters such as wages and complements, which are not now the subject of statutory regulation, particularly when there exists within the industry a representative body, which possesses the confidence of all sections, for dealing with such matters. That is the National Maritime Board. I may say that the Government has no sympathy with bad owners or bad lines as such. Of course there are some, as in every other walk of life. I am glad to be able to state that, through such con. sultations as have taken place between the Board of Trade and the shipowners' representatives, it has been ascertained that the shipowners fully share that view, and the Tramp Shipping Subsidy Committee will refuse to recommend the grant of a subsidy in respect of any voyage on which an obligation to pay National Maritime Board rates of wages has not been observed.

With regard to the last point which the noble Lord raised, the Red Star Line, I will only say this, that the Government consider that the proposals which have been made as regards the Red Star Line are in conflict with the policy of rationalisation adopted by the Government. Additional services we think are unnecessary, and would be damaging to the existing British services, which are ample for any existing and foreseeable volume of traffic. They would weaken rather than strengthen the British. Atlantic trade, which has always been regarded as of national interest. The noble Lord raised various other points in connection with this Bill, and I think on some of them he proposes to move Amendments in Committee. As regards that we shall wait and sec. I do not think I have left any point unanswered, and I hope very much that your Lordships will now give the Bill a Second Reading.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.