§ Sir CLEMENT KINLOCH-COOKE
I beg to move, in page 5, to leave out lines 19 to 25.
I move this Amendment, not with a desire to embarrass the Government in any way, but merely to ask exactly why the Courts (Emergency Powers) Act, 1914, is being continued in view of the fact that the Committee over which I presided has recommended that it should be discontinued. A footnote on page vi of the Report says:This Act, your Committee understand, is no longer required and will consequently be dropped.There is a reference to Question 134, which I put myself:This Act has been continued only so far as it relates to Orders made by any Court before 31st August, 1922. The Lord Chancellor's Department considers further continuance unnecessary and the Scottish Office concurs. Have you anything to say on that. Mr. Ram?He replies, "No." Then I say:Then this Act will lapse if everybody agrees.And we recommended that it should be discontinued. It is not, however, to be discontinued now, but is to be continued for one year. I should like to ask why this action has been taken in contradistinction to the advice of the Committee over which I presided.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Douglas Hogg)
I am glad to have the opportunity of answering my hon. Friend. The Courts (Emergency Powers) Act was passed during the War and it prevented the enforcement of judgments and other claims without the leave of the Court. It has lapsed, so far as the power to make orders under it is concerned, since 31st August, 1922, but there were made under it during the years when it was in force a number of orders under which execution and the enforcement of claims was stayed so long as certain instalments were kept up, which in some cases were to run for a number of years. In some cases those orders have not yet worked 222 themselves out, and it would be a hardship if, by bringing the Act altogether to an end, we enabled creditors and others immediately to enforce those claims without any further leave from the Court. There are a number of orders which have to run for several years, and it is necessary and desirable that the Act should be continued for another year. My hon. Friend will realise, as no doubt the Committee will, that this is the only step in which we have departed in any way from the recommendations of his Committee, and that in itself is an indication of the care and skill with which they performed their functions.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Amendment made: In page 5, column 3, line 32, after the word "six," insert the word "seven."—[Sir C. Cobb.]
§ Dr. DRUMMOND SHIELS
I beg to move, in page 6, to leave out lines 5 to 9 inclusive.
This Amendment refers to the Statutory Undertakings (Temporary Increase of Charges) Act, 1918, so far as it relates to tramway undertakings. This is an Act-which since the War has permitted tramway undertakings to charge a higher fare than they were previously legally entitled to do. That is done by means of an Order from the Minister of Transport which runs for one year and may be renewed by him. I am not proposing to carry this matter to the extreme length of suggesting the entire abolition of this Act or permitting it to lapse. I think we should be very glad to see this power for the increase of tramway charges being done away with, but the Minister of Transport may be aware of cases where this would involve hardship on certain undertakings. I am anxious to have an assurance from the Parliamentary Secretary on an administrative point. It is obvious that the Minister of Transport is not able to decide the merits of these cases himself. because in many instances there are technical considerations involved. Therefore, an Advisory Committee has been set up which considers applications for the granting of Orders and advises the Minister, and on those recommendations Orders are made.
My point is that local authorities and others interested in the question of whether these higher rates should be maintained have not a right of entry to 223 this Advisory Committee. In the case in which I am particularly interested, that of the Musselburgh District Tramways, in the County of Midlothian, we have a state of affairs where, when this Order was granted empowering the charging of higher fares the company had to make its own electricity at a very high cost. Its other expenses were also very high. Since then the tramway line has become continuous with the Edinburgh Tramways and there are running powers in both directions. The current is supplied from the Edinburgh power station and the old station has been done away with, so that the cost for power has been enormously reduced in the case of this company. The Musselburgh Town Council and other adjacent town councils have petitioned for some years to have the Order in their case revoked, without effect. Last year they sent up a very special petition claiming that, before any Order was granted for another year, the local authorities should be heard by the Advisory Committee, but the Advisory Committee in the exercise of its discretion decided that it was unnecessary to hear the local authorities and the Order was renewed for another year. I wish to be assured that that will not happen again.
This Advisory Committee is non-representative, it reports to the Minister, and it is extremely difficult for the Minister to turn down a decision of the Committee, seeing that it is largely based on technical considerations. As their outlook is somewhat narrow and as they are not familiar, or may not be familiar— certainly they were not familiar in this case—with the locality involved, it is extremely important that local authorities should have access to the Committee and be able to put the particular local considerations which might influence the decision of the Committee. It is not possible to amend the Act so to make that necessary, because we must either continue the Act as it is or drop it. I am anxious that this omission, having been brought to the attention of the Ministry, the Parliamentary Secretary will give me an assurance that the blank will be filled up by administrative action and that the Advisory Committee will be informed that when local authorities put forward a request for public inquiry and that they desire to be heard through their repre- 224 sentatives, their request should be acceded to as a matter of course before any such Order is given. I should be very glad is the Parliamentary Secretary can give me an assurance in that direction.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of TRANSPORT (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon)
I am obliged to my hon. Friend for not pressing for the repeal of the whole Act, and confining his remarks to the Musselburgh case, because to repeal the whole Act would be a hardship on many tramway undertakings, and in most cases undertakings run by municipalities. I admit that the machinery is somewhat cumbrous. The Committee set up by the Minister consists of the chairman of the Light Railway Commission, a representative of labour, and two tramway representatives, one representing municipally-run tramways and the other representing private-owned tramways. The Minister has to refer to the Committee all these questions as to increase in fares. Any order which the Minister makes for an increase in fares only applies for one year and after the expiration of the year the question of the increase of fares has to be reconsidered by the Committee and another Order issued.
In this case my hon. Friend is dealing with Musselburgh. I see that the Musselburgh Council have already lodged a petition on the question of the increase of fares. Therefore, automatically, the whole question will be considered by the Committee. What I cannot do—I should like to do it if I could—is to give an undertaking which requires that there should be a public inquiry. The Minister has not the power to give directions in that respect or to question the discretion of the Committee. I can assure my hon. Friend that this matter will be looked into very seriously, and in view of the fact that it has been raised by him and that he has almost introduced a Debate on the question, I am certain that the Committee will give the views which ho has expressed more consideration this year than on previous occasions.
§ Dr. SHIELS
I do not ask for a specific form by which public authorities may be heard. I suggested that a public inquiry is one method, but there may be other means of access to the committee I press very strongly that it is possible by administrative action to see that this 225 advisory committee is not able to refuse to hear the representatives of local authorities in regard to any order which they are considering.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
May I ask how far this Act is really still operative? When we passed the Act in 1918 to give these statutory undertakings the possibility of raising fares they were then monopolies. I think the Act applied to gas and electric light undertakings as well as tramways, nowadays with all the competition which the ordinary tramway has to meet from motor-buses, I should have thought that that competition has acted as a corrective and has taken away any necessity for the use of this Act or for applications under it to get higher fares. Can the tramway companies still afford to raise their fares in the face of this competition, or is the Act becoming more and more a dead letter owing to the fact that this competition automatically prevents any increase in fares or any appliation being made under the Act?
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON
That opens up a big question. There are about 45 orders at the present time which allow increases of fare. Those orders lapse every year and they have to be renewed every year. As to whether it pays a tramway company to increase their fares and try to get dividends that way or to keep their fares low and try to get more traffic in that way, it is a matter of policy for the actual undertakers. When it comes to a struggle between motor omnibuses and trams it is very hard for the trams, which are not mobile, to carry on especially as the tramways under an old undertaking when horses pulled trams, have to keep the middle of the roads in repair. That is a very great hardship to the trams throughout the country, because in regard to damage done to the middle of the track, the upkeep of which falls upon the tramway undertaking, the motor omnibuses damage not only the sides of the road but the middle of the road between the tramway rails as well.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON
In answer to the specific point which the hon. Member raises I can only say that I cannot change the Act. What he wishes me to do is to proceed administratively 226 and to see that someone directly interested should be, represented at the inquiry.
§ Dr. SHIELS
The Parliamentary Secretary has misunderstood me. I do not want to alter the Advisory Committee in any way. I am quite satisfied with the constitution of the Committee, but I do not want the Advisory Committee to have the power, when it thinks fit, to refuse to hear representatives from local authorities who may have perfectly legitimate claims to place before the Committee in regard to any particular order. Is it not possible by administrative Act to see that the Advisory Committee is informed that representations from local authorities, whether written or by speech or by public inquiry or any other method, should be heard, or should be received in the form which the local authority desires?
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON
If that is possible administratively, I should be glad to do it and to make inquiries.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. SCURR
I beg to move, in page 6, to leave out lines 20 to 22 inclusive.
I am glad that the Home Secretary is present, because I know he takes a personal interest in this matter. The object of the Amendment is to enable me to make the same protest that I made last year against special legislation dealing with aliens. There are two reasons why this Act ought to come off the Statute Book. First of all, it is war legislation, and we are now some years after the War. We are supposed to bo at peace. Whatever necessities may have been alleged for passing the Act, they have all gone by. I stand to-day as firmly as ever I did for the right of free asylum in this country. One of the greatest glories to which the British people can lay claim is that they have been at all times, until comparatively recently, prepared to allow men and women of all nations and of all classes and creeds and all political opinions to enter their country without let or hindrance. The result of that policy has been good.
May I illustrate it by a personal matter? On Sunday in the Borough of Stepney I attended the Mayoral service, in the Catholic Church, of the Mayor of that borough, who happens to be an Irishman and a Catholic. Years ago the 227 race to which he belonged, and he and his friends, were regarded with contempt because they were born in, and had to fly from Ireland because of political reasons, to this country, and yet such was the great principle which the British people at that time observed that, in spite of the fact that it was the British Government which was responsible for the political incident which led to these Irishmen having to leave Ireland, they were able to come to England, Scotland and Wales and to have a free asylum there. To-day we have reversed that policy.
For my part I regard this question as being very much against one particular section of the community, that is the members, and particularly the poorer members, of the Jewish community. So far as the East End of London is concerned wherever we have an alien population the overwhelming mass of that population belong to the Jewish faith, or Jewish race, and there are hundreds of cases in this country at the present time of people who are only technically aliens. Only this morning I received a letter in regard to one young man who has committed a technical offence recently in not registering as an alien. Some five or six years ago he had a conviction against him for larceny, but he has since that time lived an absolutely proper life and he has been a good citizen, yet he is liable now to deportation. He has committed another offence, though it is technical. That young man was brought to this country when he was two years old. He is unable to speak any other language but English, and if he is deported, as he might be and could be quite legally, to Poland, which is the country of his birth, he would be in every sense of the word a stranger there. These are the things which are happening under this legislation.
The overwhelming mass of these Jewish residents in the East End of London are in every sense of the word good citizens. They have brought to the East End of London industry which otherwise would not be there. Many of them are very considerable ratepayers, and if you read the reports of the education authorities, or any other authorities which deal with this community, you will find that all the time they are telling you what good citizens these people are. It seems to me 228 that the time has now come when the Home Secretary ought to give up this idea of thinking that he is simply the saviour of the nation by means of the operation of Acts of this kind in keeping out one or two individuals here or there. The whole policy in regard to the whole question of aliens is, I think, wrong. I would urge that, though in time of specific unemployment there may be reasons for saying that there should be prohibition of the right of entry into this country, yet there should not be any question of the Home Office putting it into force, but that it should be a thing to be determined exclusively by the Minister of Labour, and that it should be determined entirely by labour conditions.
Last year the Home Secretary said that he wanted this power for the purpose of dealing with the Chinese, for example, who were selling dope in this country, and that that was the only way in which he could deal with that matter. I wish to suggest a further way of dealing with it. I think that, if we are responsible, as we are largely, for the Government of India, if the people there had given up the growing of opium in that country, and the Government did not allow it to be exported to China and elsewhere, the Chinese would not have got into the bad habits, into which some of those who come here are supposed to have got, of supplying dope and cocaine and things of that kind to people of this country. But after all we do not usually find that it is members of the working classes who indulge in this cocaine habit. We generally find that it is people at the other end of the social scale, who by reason of defects in their education, or through having too much leisure or too much money or something of that kind, resort to the cocaine habit, and if their schools and colleges where they are taught were to give them some lessons in regard to self control it would be a great deal better, I think, than merely to deport an odd Chinese here and there.
This legislation is wrong legislation from beginning to end. It hits a particular community, a community which is serving us well. This Bill is wrong all the way through. In regard to alien immigration, when the immigrants come into the country, instead of all the rigmarole which they have to go through now after many years in order to try to get naturalised, and then simply having 229 the applications filed away among the records of the Home Office, they should have to be naturalised after 12 months, and if they were not fit to foe naturalised they should have to leave. These people are doing all they can to be good citizens of this country at present, but they are unable to obtain the advantages of citizenship because of these Acts of Parliament. In my judgment, the sooner you get rid of this legislation the better for the good name of this country.
§ Mr. FINBURGH
I listened with great interest to the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr), more particularly to that portion of his remarks in which he called attention to the race to which I have the honour to belong, and I should be lacking in my duty if I were not to express my opinion, and the opinion of the community to which I belong, in reference to the question under discussion. I believe that it is a wrong policy on the part of the Government to continue the restrictions which exist at present. They were introduced especially for the needs of the War, and we all of course agreeing that they were then a necessity, but those days have passed. It is seven years since the Armistice was signed, and there were four years during the duration of the War, and my opinion is that to have those who have resided in this country perhaps five or ten or fifteen or twenty years prior to the outbreak of the War, making perhaps a total period of 20 years residence as peaceful, law-abiding, hard working citizens of the country, still subject to those restrictions is an injustice. I am a great believer in the old book and in the principle that righteousness exalteth the nation. On Sunday morning I had the privilege of attending Sacred Trinity Church in company with the Mayor of my borough, North Salford. The first lesson of the day to which I had the privilege of listening was delivered by our learned stipendiary. It was the prayer of King Solomon. He finishes up the prayer by praying for the stranger within his gates, and I should have thought it would be a most instructive lesson if some of our legislators, like the Home Secretary perhaps, could have been there to listen to that portion of Biblical writ dealing with the question with which we are concerned.
I made inquiries a few days ago and ascertained the only fault which could be 230 alleged against these long residents, these lawful citizens who have not had the foresight to become naturalised previous to the War. They did not know that it was necessary or they would have done so. They have been trying ever since, and every possible restriction has been placed upon them. I do not know for what reason. Perhaps at some future time I may have the privilege of investigating the delay which has taken place in removing these restrictions, but a few days ago I made it my business to inquire and I ascertained for myself that if any resident, however long he may have been in a place, happens to change his address merely from one number in a street to another number in the same street and does not report such removal to the police, he can be brought up before the nearest magistrate for a breach of the law. I call that an absolute abomination. We have to administer justice, and of course while the law stands it must be obeyed, but it is a vicious law and a pernicious law and it is an injustice. We only want what is right and fair and reasonable in all respects.
I know that perhaps the Home Secretary will try to make some reply to the effect that he could not admit aliens in the present state of unemployment. I agree cordially with that. It is impossible at this juncture. Seeing that we have one and a-quarter millions of our own people unemployed, it would be a sin and a scandal to admit anyone for the time being, but I hope that, when unemployment has decreased, we may reconsider the whole question. I should like to say one word on another matter. We know very well that admitting or opening the doors to aliens is out of the question at present, but we are concerned this afternoon with those who have been residents here for so many years. I am concerned with those people who have given their sons, who have paid the great sacrifice, and where such parents are under these restrictions it is time that such restrictions should be removed. I hope that the Home Secretary will see the justice of the claim which I am making. These walls have often resounded to speeches in which freedom was demanded, not as a right perhaps but as a privilege. I take the opportunity this afternoon of appealing to the Home Secretary to remove these restrictions. 231 They are a paradox. They are a disgrace to our Constitution and our freedom and I hope that he will see his way to do what I have asked.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir William Joynson-Hicks)
I have listened with some surprise to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for North Salford (Mr. Fin-burgh). He did me the honour some time ago to come and see me and discuss the whole of this subject with me. I made to him certain suggestions, which he seems to have forgotten. His co-religionists have done me the greater honour of coming to see me more than once as deputations, and I have been in the closest touch with some of the leaders of his religious body on the question of the naturalisation of aliens. I understand from my hon. Friend that he agrees with the policy of the Government, that while we have more than a million unemployed here we should keep out aliens who desire to come into this country. As to that, I do not think he will receive the applause which hon. Members opposite appeared anxious to give him at the beginning of his speech. My hon. Friend is in a difficulty about the naturalisation of those members of his community who were here before the War, those who have been resident here for 50 years, some of whom have given their sons to fight for England in the War. [HON. MEMBERS: "England!"] I should have said for Britain, for the nation and the Empire. I gather that my hon. Friend feels that I am behaving harshly in regard to those men. In fact, he made the serious statement that every possible restriction is placed on the naturalisation of such men.
I am sorry to have to say it to a member of my own party, but that is not true; quite definitely it, is not true. So long as a man has been in this country, certainly for anything like 20 years, and so long as he has shown himself desirous of becoming a member of the British community, certainly so long as he has given sons to fight for the community and the nation, I not only place no restriction on his becoming naturalised as a citizen of this country, but, if I can be convinced by any means that that man is in heart and soul desirous of becoming a member 232 of our community, if he appreciates the great honour of becoming a British citizen, I not only place no restriction upon him, but I welcome his admission to citizenship. I am signing every morning a large number of naturalisation papers, and many of them belong to my hon. Friend's community. I think it was a little unkind for a member of my own party to have made an attack of that kind without at least doing me the honour of coming to the Home Office and finding out what is really the position there.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
It is all very well for my hon. Friend to say that, he hopes to do so. He might have done so before launching his attack to-day. I challenge him, and I challenge the whole of his community, to give me a single instance in which there has been any anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic bias, on the part of the Home Office officials or the Home Secretary. I have said as much before, and the hon. Member ought to have known it. His colleagues, the leaders of the Jewish community know it quite well. If the hon. Member can give me a single instance in which naturalisation has been refused to such a man who has applied for naturalisation papers, I will personally go into it, and—
§ Mr. FINBURGH
I accept the challenge, and will supply the right hon. Gentleman with the information.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
The hon. Gentleman accepts the challenge, and I have nothing more to say. It is now for him to give me the details.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Certainly; he has accepted the challenge, and it is new for him to produce the evidence on which he has based his statement. Now I come to the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr), who moved what I might call his hardy annual. He has moved the elimination of the Aliens Act from the Schedule of the Bill, and I assume that if he got his way there would be no further alien restrictions of any kind; aliens would all be admitted, good, bad and indifferent, and we should have, from the East of Europe, that flood of aliens 233 which is kept out only by our existing restrictions.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I have done with my hon. Friend. I am dealing now with my hon. opponent opposite, the hon. Member for Mile End. He made to-day the case which he made last year. I think I have heard him before make a speech in regard to the position here 30 and 40 years ago, when England was a refuge for the downcast and oppressed of all nations—a magnificent position to take up, and one which we were well able to take up 40 years ago. I am not one of those who are opposed to that position, when we can afford to take it up. But then we had not over a million unemployed in this country. Even my hon. Friend the Member for North Salford would not let them come in now. I appeal to the House. Are we to sweep away the whole of the restrictions, to throw the door open wide, and to let every alien come in. That is surely not the position which this House desires to take up, with so large a number of unemployed still in our midst. The hon. Member for Mile End referred with great eloquence to his Irish friends, and to their admission to this country at a time when there was political difficulty in Ireland. They were allowed in those days to come into Great Britain. So they are allowed to-day to come into Great Britain, and the hon. Member's eloquence was really wasted. His friends from Ireland are British subjects, and they can come in. Our doors are not closed to a single British subject. The Irish malcontents can come here in the same way as a Scotsman, an Australian, or any other man from the Dominions.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
There is one place you cannot always run, and that is the House of Commons. There are still a few Englishmen left here. I do not want to treat harshly my hon. Friends from Scotland. Seriously, I ask the Com- 234 mittee to consider this question. Let me explain the position. We allow to come into this country everybody who fulfils certain simple conditions. There are 300,000 aliens who come in every year, on business or on pleasure and who contribute to the well-being of the country by their coming. They come in for a limited period, and they go out at the end of it. No alien is permitted to come in for the purpose of doing work which would otherwise be done by an Englishman, without the definite concurrence of the Minister of Labour. That is not in my hands. Any alien who desires to carry out work here, must first obtain the consent of the Minister of Labour. That Minister's permission has to be brought to my Department, and, other things being equal, the alien can come in. But even then the Alien Immigration Department have the right to keep him out if he is otherwise undesirable.
There is a very large number of aliens who attempt to get in, but who are quite definitely undesirable in various ways which I need not mention. Those we still keep out. I have been down to our ports and I have personally seen the work of the alien immigration officers. I have seen the way in which they carry out the examination of the aliens before they are allowed to come in. Even a man who is coming here for business purposes, with his passport in order and the proper visa, is asked for proof that he is really coming for business purposes. He may reply, "I am going to deal with certain things in Manchester or Birmingham." He is then asked, ''Have you any letters to prove it, any kind of information to justify your statement?" Most of them have such justification. If they have not, they are put back in order that they may find some guarantee. A statement that a man wishes to enter this country for business purposes cannot be made successfully without some foundation. The hon. Member went further, in order to attack me on the question of the Chinese. I think he made a very unfair remark about the class of the community who use cocaine. I can tell him where most of the cocaine is used. It is in the East End of London, most of it.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
No. I have during the last few months deported several Chinese who were convicted of being engaged in the traffic, not in the West End, but in the East End of London. I am not blaming the East End; I am replying to the very unfair statement of the hon. Member. As long as the House of Commons entrusts me with these powers, I shall continue to deport undesirable aliens, and I am sure that I shall have the approval, not merely of the House, but of the country in so doing. I have from time to time during the past year deported aliens belonging to another country, a friendly country on the continent of Europe, who were engaged, not in the cocaine traffic, but in another very unpleasant traffic, the traffic of prostitution. Those are undesirable aliens. I am certain that the hon. Member, with all his love of freedom, would admit that it is desirable to have some power somewhere to get rid of that class of men.
Perhaps the Committee would like to know that during the 10 months of this year, up to 31st October, I have issued deportation orders in 219 cases. Nearly all of them have been cases where aliens have been convicted of some form of crime, and where the magistrates have recommended deportation. In those cases, however, I still have the responsibility of considering whether it is desirable to carry out a deportation, and every single case comes before me for my personal consideration and decision. In addition to that, there is a very large number of aliens who want to come here and who are stopped by the net of alien immigration officers placed around this country under the provisions of the Act. Everybody who wants to come in from certain foreign countries has to get a visa from our Consuls in addition to a passport. Consuls may sometimes give visas in undesirable cases. In thousands of cases they refuse visas. Numbers of men seek visas which are refused on the spot. In the 10 months of this year the officers of the Immigration Department have refused admission to 2,066 people, some of whom had obtained visas in some way or other. The people have gone through that rigid examination. Immigration officers have put before themselves the one question, "Is the admission of this alien desirable in the interests of this country, 236 or not?", and if it is not desirable, the aliens have been returned to their own country.
The administration is not popular, but it is carried out as kindly as is possible. I have had conferences with the officers of the Immigration Department, and I have explained to them the desire of this House as to the methods by which the Act should be carried out. I have expressed to them my own view, and that of the House of Commons, that they should welcome any who are coming here in the interest of the country, and that in all eases they should act with as much kindness and courtesy as possible. I propose to tell the Committee—as a contrast to the speech of the hon. Member opposite—of two cases which have come under my notice within the last two days. One is the case of an American girl who arrived here a few weeks ago from Germany, where she had been in work. She came absolutely destitute, and had no work to go to here. An immigration officer, without reward and without being mentioned in the newspapers, got his wife to take this girl into his own house, and there she was taken care of until arrangements could be made for her journey home. At this very moment there is a Mexican girl who arrived destitute from Australia in the care of the Immigration Department, and I hope to be able to arrange in the course of a day or two that she shall be sent back to her home. That is the way in which, without any public notice, the officers of my Department are trying to carry out their very difficult task, and they are carrying it out in the belief that they have the confidence of the House of Commons behind them. The House passed this Act of Parliament; the House is responsible for it, and I am perfectly certain, in spite of the speech of the hon. Member opposite, that in the present circumstances, and considering the number of unemployed in our midst, it is quite impossible, more particularly in the interests of the working community of this country, that we should relax this Act of Parliament, and allow the door to be thrown wide open once more to a stream of aliens of every kind.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I desire to associate myself with the Amendment, for two additional and sound reasons. I feel 237 it is lamentable there should be internal dissension on the other side of the House. I feel that the criticism of the Home Secretary by the hon. Member for North Salford (Mr. Finburgh) is one of those unfortunate incidents which we do not wish to have repeated. Moreover, I feel that the unkind criticism of the Home Secretary has soured the right hon. Gentleman's otherwise sweet good nature. The right hon. Gentleman now resents the accusation of anti-Semitism as though it were an accusation of Bolshevism. It has got on his nerves. Not merely in this House, but in the public-Press, we see this horrible charge resented with indignation. Now we want to make the situation easier for the right hon. Gentleman. We think that if this Aliens Restriction Act were no longer a part of the law of the land the Homo Secretary would have an easier conscience as well as an easier time, and therefore, for this additional reason, we suggest that it should no longer sully the Statute Book.
The right hon. Gentleman knows that this country is a compound of all the races on earth. He himself is hyphenated and we are all hyphenated. We are all of hundreds—or, at any rate, dozens—of mixed races. There is not one single Member of this House who has not the blood of half a dozen different races who came into this country as immigrants at one period or another. Look at the result! Could one suppose anything more perfect? Seriously, the right hon. Gentleman knows that the position of this country up to about 40 years ago involved us in accepting and assimilating immigrants from all other countries. It is true the Jews were prevented from coming in for about 400 years, but I do not think we have any reason to complain of the Jewish influx since the seventeenth century. Everybody knows the enormous advantage to this country of the immigration of the Huguenots, who brought in so many new forms of production. We have imported into this country more of the Irish than of any other nation or race on earth, and the Irish element in our population is one of the most valuable elements in the British character. Now the right hon. Gentleman comes forward with the argument that in future we must adopt a new principle and shut the doors and forbid all these alien, "dago," inferior races to come in. I prefer the old 238 Liberal traditions. I am a thoroughgoing Conservative so far as this matter is concerned. I believe what was good enough for our ancestors in this respect should be good enough for us.
The argument used against this immigration is the narrow nationalist argument, and we on these benches are, fundamentally, believers in the international spirit. We wish to see the workers of the world united, not merely in name, but in aspirations and in general cooperation. I cannot understand how people who are essentially Christian, such as the right hon. Gentleman, can tolerate these invidious distinctions, which he knows are contrary to the Christian religion as well as to the Socialist religion. It is pitiful that he of all men should come forward now as the protagonist of a racial segregation and a pride wholly alien, as I say, both to the Christian religion and the Socialist creed. I know that he and many other people base themselves upon the idea that at the present time, whilst unemployment is so rife in this country, it would be ridiculous to allow foreigners to come in. If that be so, why not apply the principle thoroughly and keep out the Irish or the Scottish? Why allow anybody to come in? If your principle is that as long as there is unemployment, nobody should be allowed into the area where the unemployment exists, you may as well scrap the railways of the country and prevent any migration whatever. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Where are you to draw the line? If it is good to keep out the Americans, is it not equally good to keep out the Irishmen? If it is good to keep out the Germans, is it not equally good to keep out people from Scotland?
As a matter of fact, the best answer to the modern creed that unemployment can be solved by checking the free flow of population from one country to another, is that the immigrants who come into this country are not merely prospective producers but prospective consumers also. Are we here in the House of Commons, in the year 1925, believers in the idea that there is only just a limited amount of work to be done and that it must be shared out among the workers of the community? If that is your faith, if you believe there is only a certain definite amount of production required in the country, then I say the people who believe 239 in the "ca' canny" principle are perfectly justified in trying to share out that limited amount among all the people available to do the work. But the right hon. Gentleman knows and the House knows that there is not merely a limited amount of work to be done, but an unlimited demand for the results of work, if you could get those results to the people who need them. There is an unlimited demand for production if only we were allowed to produce. It is because we know that there is work required which can be done in this country, and that people want goods, that we believe it advisable to get into this country the maximum number of workers provided we can see that those workers, on coming into this country, are allowed to produce the goods we all want to consume. I dare not go into the whole problem of unemployment to-day—it would not be in order —but I beg of hon. Members to recall the famous reply of Malthus. You are all Malthusians if you really believe you can benefit this country by keeping able-bodied immigrants out of the country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I daresay many of you are Malthusians. You do believe—
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am trying to deal with what I believe to be the vital point involved in this particular question, namely, are we justified in trying to improve our trade and employment in this country by keeping other people out? I submit that that is the key question in the consideration of this matter. Malthus's doctrine was that as the population increased the means of subsistence would grow less and, therefore, it was desirable to curtail population and to restrict the production of babies.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. and gallant Gentleman knows that there was also a proposal, brought before the Jacobin tribunal but not acted upon, to reduce the population of France by the assassination of every third person. If it were in order on this question to introduce the one proposal, it would be equally in order to introduce the other. I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman must keep more closely to the aliens questions.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I have been trying to address myself to that question and it seems to me that my arguments have been so cogent and so much to the point that the only reply has been a sort of jeering from the hon. Members opposite. I was trying to point out that increase in population is an advantage and not a disadvantage to a country. The real difference between us and hon. Members opposite is that we believe that men should be allowed to produce the goods which they can produce. As long as you allow the present position of affairs to remain in regard to the land of this country from which all production must come; as long as you restrict the opportunities of producing goods and make it possible that people shall be out of work when they want work; as long as aliens who want to come into this country to work are kept out, so long shall we get cases such as the right hon. Gentleman mentioned of unfortunate stranded girls coming into this country, girls who will not be so lucky as those he mentioned. Countless numbers of stranded people who try to find an asylum in England now are kept out by our bad laws, and their case is rendered more desperate to-day than it was 30 years ago, by reason of the growth of this theory that we must preserve our own country for our own race, instead of adopting the far higher conception for the human race that we are one brotherhood and that we should help and love one another.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The next two Amendments, in the name of the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) and other hon. Members, in page 6, line 24, column 3, to leave out the word "and," and in page 6, line 25, column 3, after the word "two," to insert the words "and eighteen" are unnecessary. They propose to continue something that is already permanent, and, therefore, they will have no effect. With regard to the next Amendment, standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Westbury (Captain Walter Shaw), in page 7, line 6, column 3, after the word "Act," to insert the words "except the exemptions contained in Schedule 1, Part 1, paragraph 4," I have had very great difficulty. It proposes to allow the continuance of the Act, but that certain 241 exemptions from it should lapse. On going into this matter, I have come to the conclusion that these exceptions are part of a provision that must be kept or left as a whole, and that it would not be in order to amend it. Therefore, I am bound to rule that that is not in order.
§ Captain W. SHAW
On the point of Order. I understood you, Sir, would allow me to move this, and to make my appeal to the Home Secretary that he would allow me to have this small Amendment. I think, if I put it in the way I want, it might be allowed, as I know there are a great many in my division who are very anxious to have this Amendment.
§ The CHAIRMAN
There is no doubt that it is a case of considerable difficulty, but the question as to whether the Home Secretary will allow it or not is not one that I can consider. This is a proposal, really, not to continue the law as it stands or to allow an expiring provision to lapse; it is really to change a provision as it at present exists, and I have come to my conclusion after a good deal of reflection. When the hon. and gallant Member used his arguments to me in private, I said I was prepared favourably to consider them, but, on the whole, I have had to come to the other conclusion.
§ Captain SHAW
May I point out, as I pointed out to you, that the exemptions in question under the 1920 Shops Act are not allowed to be sold? All that I ask is that that part of the Act applying to tobacco and sweetmeats shall not be continued.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid, on looking into the Order under the Schedule, that I must take the Order as a whole. If I were to allow this Amendment, the law in any Expiring Laws Continuance Bill might be almost indefinitely amended. We must either take or leave the provision as a whole.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid it is not possible. The next Amendment, in the name of the hon. Member for East 242 Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson), in Schedule 2, page 7, to leave out lines 23 to 29 inclusive, has been disposed of. In regard to the Amendment standing in the name of the right hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) and others, in Schedule 2, page 7, line 23, at the end, to insert:
This, I think, cannot be permitted, because the Acts in question are not technically expiring Acts at all. On the other hand, if they were to be continued, the effect would be null and void. They affect the calculation of tithe for certain years, and, therefore, if they were continued for the years that are past, that would be inoperative. Technically, they are not expiring, and it is unnecessary to continue them.
8 & 9 Geo. 5, c. 54. Tithe Act, 1918 The whole Act. 10 & 11 Geo. 5, c. 22. Ecclesiastical Tithe Rent-charges (Rates) Act. 1920. The whole Act. 12 & 13 Geo. 5 Ecclesiastical Tithe Rent-charges (Rates) Act, 1922. The whole Act.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
I put the case specifically yesterday to Mr. Speaker, who ruled that it would be in order to move the inclusion of the continuance of these Acts on the Committee stage, and the Amendment cm the paper to-day was tabled in view of that ruling of Mr. Speaker.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The provisions are temporary, and, therefore, if you continue them as they stand, the effect desired by the movers of the Amendment would not take place, because they would merely keep the existing Act in being, whereas the desire is, I presume, that the basis of calculation of tithe in future years should be the same as in past years. That is not provided for by the simple continuance of the Act.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
We do not want to change the basis of the calculation of tithe, and, perhaps, Mr. Chairman, you do not appreciate the vital importance of this Amendment, which arises from this point of view, that the various interests concerned in the Tithe Bill are hoping to postpone the introduction of that Bill till next year, till it is revised. Therefore, Mr. Speaker yesterday suggested that such an Amendment as this could be brought in now in order to make that postponement practicable. If we are not allowed to make this Amendment now, we shall be in a more or less hopeless position to meet the situation in the Tithe Bill. I hope you will consider the point that, if these three Acts are continued, it will merely mean that for one further year the basis on which tithe is collected will be continued, and we shall have a perfectly natural transition from the present state of affairs to the state of affairs contemplated by the parties concerned.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The merits and the importance or substance of the Amendment cannot and do not have weight with me. If any hon. or right hon. Gentleman can point out that any of these Acts would expire, that there is any provision in the Acts for their expiration, that would be an added argument for moving their continuance, but I am advised that, if the Amendment were accepted, it would have no effect in law. The other objection is that, as a matter of fact, they do not expire.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
We are having the. point looked up, but the point we want to make, and which is now being verified, is this, that the present stabilised rate of tithe under the existing Act of 1918 is duo to expire on the 1st January, 1926. The object, therefore, in asking the Government to include in this Bill the present Tithe Acts is that you may maintain the stabilised rate of tithe during next year which is due under the Act to expire on 1st January, 1926, in order that the various interests may discuss with the Government the provisions of the Bill at. present before the House.
§ Sir JOHN MARRIOTT
May I submit that, although it is true that the Act of 1918 does not appear as a whole to expire, yet a portion of it expires, namely, the first Sub-section of Section 1? May I call 244 your attention to that Sub-section, which reads as follows:The sum which on or before the first day of January, nineteen hundred and twenty-six, becomes payable under the Tithe Acts, 1836 to 1891, in respect of any tithe rentcharge, shall be the sum payable in respect of that rentcharge,and so on. That Sub-section does appear to expire, though the Act as a whole does not.
§ Mr. BARR
It was pointed out earlier in the Session that the tithe charge was based on a figure of something like 130. That was continually said by the Minister of Agriculture, and that, I think, is the proof that there is an expiry of the present valuation of the charge, unless either these Acts are continued or a new Act is passed.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That again is a question of merits and not of order. With regard to the point taken by the hon. Baronet the Member for York (Sir J. Marriott), supposing these provisions were continued, how does that help him? What he really wants is an Amendment of the present Act, and that cannot be done in the Schedule of this Bill. If the Sub-section to which he made reference ran: "The sum which on or before the 1st day of January in every year becomes payable," and so on, then there would be relevancy in continuing that, but this, although some of these provisions have only temporary effect, is not a temporary Act, and, therefore, it does not expire. With regard to the other points that have been taken, Mr. Speaker and myself have each to deal with our powers in our various spheres and having given all possible thought to this matter, it appears to me that it is not an Amendment which I can accept.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
When we were on the Second Reading of this Bill yesterday, I suggested to the Government that, having regard to the position as to tithes, they should meet us by postponing the Debate on this Bill until the discussion on the Tithe Bill had been completed, in order to see if the interests concerned could come to a proper arrangement—I am not concerned as to whether it be by including the whole Act or by an Amendment—so that there would be the 245 necessary hiatus during which arrangements could be made between the Government and the interests concerned. I am not in any way challenging your view, Mr. Hope; I am rather challenging the attitude of the Government in the matter. Although we made that position perfectly clear yesterday to the Government, they are going to ride off on what is a technical ruling, which, perhaps, the Chair is bound to give. We have the Tithe Bill set down for further discussion on the later stages next Thursday. This Bill, in the meantime, will have gone through all its stages, and, if we come to a deadlock on the Tithe Bill on Thursday, then we shall be without a remedy for continuing the present stabilised rate of charges, and, in view of the attitude of the Government, I think we are entitled to move to report Progress.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I quite understand the technical point, and the difficulty we are in. There are very conflicting interests, and the parties are, apparently, all agreed to allow the matter to remain in statu quo for one year. Cannot the Government allow a one-Clause Bill to be introduced in another place, and with the consent of all parties, allow it to go through practically without discussion in this House? That would appear to meet the wishes of all parties. As I pointed out yesterday, it has the additional advantage of saving over a quarter of a million of money for this particular year, and, if that can be done without displeasing anyone concerned, surely it is a consideration for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. When you get such extraordinary unanimity from so many different people affected by this Bill, the Universities, Mr. Pretyman with his Land Union, the Farmers' Union, and various other people, and a considerable number of clergy who object to the Bill—surely if all those people are agreed to let the matter remain as it is, the Government can help us in one form or another.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
Before the Government reply to this, I think it is necessary to say one word, and I ask the indulgence of the Committee if I find myself in rather a difficult position. I should very earnestly desire the success of the plea for the postponement of the Bill if I thought only of the academic case of the charitable and educational corporations with which it is my duty 246 principally to be concerned. I think the Bill is inequitable in respect of those corporations, and I think, in respect to that, further consideration would almost certainly result in a better arrangement being made. On the other hand, in respect of the clergy, though it is quite true some are dissatisfied, the preponderance of opinion among the clergy is, that although all the provisions are not what they would like to have, they desire on the whole the Bill to go through. In that sense I am not bound to the universities, but I am very much interested in their point of view, and I do not want the Government to think that among the clergy generally there is that dissatisfaction with the Bill. I do not believe, really, that that is so. The people who are dissatisfied are always more audible than those who are satisfied, and I am inclined to believe that the opinion of the majority of the clergy is friendly. I do earnestly hope that the academic case will be considered, and that the Government will consent to the postponement of this part for further consideration. So that I am rather in a difficulty to know how to vote on the Motion to report Progress, and I hope the Government will make it easy by the nature of their reply.
§ The ATTORNEY - GENERAL (Sir Douglas Hogg)
I am afraid I can hardly deal with the merits of the Tithe Bill, because I venture to think that if I attempted to do so you, Mr. Hope, would rule me out of Order. But I think I can assist my Noble Friend's vote on this occasion when I point out to him, that in no circumstances can this Motion have any relation to the Tithe Bill at all. I will explain in a sentence or two why that is so. The Bill which we are discussing in Committee is a Bill to continue the existence of certain expiring laws, that is to say, to provide that certain laws which, under their terms, come to an end at the end of this year, shall go on for another year. In no conceivable circumstances would it be possible to effect what my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) desires by doing anything to the Expiring Laws Bill. The reason is that the Acts relating to tithe provide for certain things to happen on or before certain dates, of which I think the latest is the 1st January, 1926. If 247 you continue the Act you do not alter the wording of the Act, and the Act, therefore, will still provide that on or before the 1st January, 1926, certain things are to happen. It will not mean that you will have to amend that Act and provide that on or before the 1st January, 1927, certain things are to happen, and that the provisions as to what is to happen up to the end of 1925 are going on to the end of 1926. You do not do that by extending the operation of the Act for a year. You merely leave the Act for a year in a state of suspended animation, with nothing to operate upon, and no operative effect.
The only way in which my right hon. and learned Friend's desires can be effected must be, as he says quite properly, by bringing in a special Bill. Whether or not it is desirable to effect that object and bring in that Bill can have no relation to a Motion to Report Progress on the Expiring Laws Bill, because whether it is desirable or undesirable, it cannot affect the Committee stage of the Expiring Laws Bill. If I have made that point clear to the Committee, they will understand why it is that it would not be in order to discuss the extension of the Tithe Act at this moment, and why it is that, whatever view any Member of the Committee takes as to the extension of the Tithe Bill for another year, or as to the passage of the present Tithe Bill coming before the House in a few days, it cannot affect the decision which ought to be come to upon this particular matter. We are dealing with the continuance of certain expiring laws, and by no conceivable means could the provisions as to tithes be affected by any operation of this Bill. If that be so, it is obvious there is no reason for reporting Progress on the present discussion, merely because some Members of the Committee may desire some other Bill, which is not under discussion, to be postponed.
§ Sir HENRY SLESSER
If we are to deal with the point on the pure technicality, I would point out that the observations of the right hon. and learned Gentleman are confined to the first Act mentioned in the Schedule, and when you are dealing with the question of the relief of rates you are in rather a different position. As I understand the intention of my hon. Friend the Member 248 for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander) in moving this Amendment, it is to find out from the Government what we were promised in effect yesterday. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, as I understood him, said he would tell the Committee to-day what view the Government had taken as to the continuation of the present tithe system. I pointed out there was very little time to run—only a few hours—and he said he could not pledge himself as to what the answer of the Government would be, but he would tell us to-day what the policy of the Government would be with regard to the continuation of the present tithe law, or whether we would be forced to accept the continuation of the present Tithe Bill. No Member of the Government has risen to explain what the policy of the Government is going to be on this particular matter, and we do now ask that the Government should tell us whether they are prepared to give facilities by a one-Clause Bill, or in any other way, to continue the existing tithe situation for another year, or whether they are going to insist on forcing through the other Bill, which nobody, I believe, really wants. I do not want to follow the Noble Lord on the question he raised as to the popularity or unpopularity of various Tithe Bills. I think I should be out of order. But I must say I entirely disagree with his view. I have received hundreds of letters, not from articulate, but from inarticulate clergymen on this particular matter. I think we are entitled to ask that some responsible member of the Government should get up and tell us, apart from the technicality of this particular Act of which the Attorney-General has spoken, whether or not they are prepared to allow the present tithe legislation to continue for another year. The Committee is entitled to know this afternoon what is the position. We gave notice of it yesterday, and were promised an answer, but we get no answer at all. For that reason I have great pleasure in supporting the Motion to report Progress, in order that we may have an answer from the Government as to what the position is.
§ Colonel Sir GEORGE COURTHOPE
May I suggest to the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander), who moved to report Progress, that he is following the wrong course to achieve his 249 desire? If it be true that there is general agreement in all parts of the Committee that the Tithe Bill now before the House should be postponed for further consideration, and the temporary system continued for another year, that can easily be done on the consideration of the Tithe Bill on Thursday. [An HON. MEMBER: "Too late!"] There is a Clause in the Tithe Bill dealing with the stabilisation of tithes, and another Clause dealing with ecclesiastical tithe rentcharge rates, and if there were general agreement, those two Clauses could be amended, and the rest of the Bill cut out.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BANKS
The reason given for the postponement has now completely vanished. As was said quite properly, if we have got to deal with the continuation if the present tithe system when we are discussing the expiring laws, then, of course, it is imperative that we should know in good time and be prepared to take the necessary steps. It is quite clear, however, to the House that the present question of the stabilisation of the tithe system cannot be dealt with on the question of the Expiring Laws Bill. Therefore, there is no reason for attempting to divert the Government to that point. It will he quite sufficient for us if we know the decision of the Government before we take steps to deal with the Tithe Bill in this House.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I think the Government ought to hear what our views are on this question, and make up their minds upon it now. There is the Front Bench. There is the hon. and learned Solicitor-General, who has been all through Committee on this Bill. The Attorney-General and the Home Secretary are perfectly aware of all the different interests concerned in the Bill, and they now could give us their opinion as to what the Government mean to do to meet the present position. It is all very well for the hon. and learned Member for Swindon (Mr. Banks) to say, "Wait till Thursday," but between now and Thursday we have to make our arrangements for amending the Bill in ignorance of what the Government are going to do. It does seem to me, when we suddenly discover that we cannot continue these Measures, that now is the moment when we ought to move to report Progress in 250 order to get from the Government some light on the question of what they mean to do.
If it means a short one-clause Bill, then I think it is absolutely vital before we discuss that Bill on Thursday that the various interests concerned ought to know what to expect in that one-clause Bill. Are we going merely to continue the exemption from the rate at present enjoyed by the owners of poor beneficies, or are we going to continue the unjust valuation of tithes, which has been in operation for the last seven years, or are we going simply to make the tithe rise to 131 or 132? A new Bill next year would make the position more in accord with the actual facts of the situation. If the Government propose to make an announcement on Thursday, I suggest that we ought to have it now. I quite realise that the right hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite cannot commit the Government, but they can give us some indication of what is in their minds in dealing with this Bill. Now is the correct moment.
§ Mr. BASIL PETO
On a point of Order. Is it correct for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to debate at this time a wholly different matter to that before the House? You have ruled, Mr. Hope, that this matter cannot be dealt with under the Expiring Laws Bill; therefore, I ask you whether it is in order for hon. Members to fire off questions at the Government?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The reason for my allowing this Motion to be discussed was that there was a misunderstanding in all parts of the House that it would be possible to discuss this matter. Therefore, I do not think it is out of order for the Government to be asked if they are prepared to make a statement now, to-morrow, or Thursday. But, of course, it will not be in order to go into the merits of a Bill that is to come before the House.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The hon. Member who put the point of Order apparently did not notice that we were not now discussing the Expiring Laws Bill, but a Motion to report Progress. I am quite in order. I have now fortified myself with the exact words used yesterday by the Financial Secretary to the 251 Treasury. The point was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander), and the right hon. Gentleman said this by way of reply:I have not the slightest doubt that more important members of the Government than myself, and those who are responsible for the business of the House, and for questions of policy, will consider the suggestions that have been made. And I have no doubt that an answer to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman and those who agree with him will be given in good time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1925, Vol. 188, col. 93.]The question arose as to what was a good time, and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury stated:I cannot give any pledge in the matter at all. I think there is sufficient time to make that change if the authorities concerned are willing to do so, but I can give no pledge."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1925, Vol. 188, col. 95.]That is sufficient time before Thursday in connection with this Measure. We have got all the important members of the Government here, and they know ail about the question, and I ask that they should give us some information as to what it is proposed to do.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Commander Eyres Monsell)
As the House very well knows, the Report stage of the Tithe Bill will be taken on Thursday, and Thursday will be the proper time for the Government to make a statement in regard to that Bill. I certainly think it would be entirely out of order for the Government on a Motion to Report Progress to deal with a matter which cannot possibly be affected by the present Bill. That must be quite clear to the House. The Government are not going to shirk any statement in regard to tithe. We shall be
§ prepared to make that statement at the proper time. I cannot think the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite has done anything to help his case in quoting my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. As will be seen quite distinctly, my right hon. Friend gave no pledge whatsoever. In view of this, I hope the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander) will withdraw his Motion to Report Progress.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
There seems to be a feeling that this is a blocking Motion; but it is not. Perhaps hon. Members are not all aware that there is a large body of farming opinion which is under the impression that the Expiring Laws Bill is the proper Measure in which this matter can be dealt with. That has been so stated—and that is one point. I am amazed at the line taken by some hon. Members and I want, if I may, to trespass a little longer upon the patience of the Attorney-General and ask him to make the position clear. Would it not be necessary if there was a one-clause Bill introduced, as suggested, still to include in the Expiring Laws Bill, the main portion of the existing Tithe Act?
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
If that be the answer, I shall not bother the Attorney-General. On the general question, however, I feel I cannot withdraw the Motion to report Progress, because I think it is quite proper that we should have a statement from the Government.
§ Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 127; Noes, 288.255
|Division No. 363.]||AYES.||[6.10 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Buchanan, G.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Cape, Thomas||Gibbins, Joseph|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Charleton, H. C.||Gosling, Harry|
|Ammon, Charles George||Clowes, S.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Cluse, W. S.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Greenall, T.|
|Baker, Walter||Compton, Joseph||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Connolly, M.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Barr, J.||Cove, W. G.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Batey, Joseph||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Groves, T.|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Dalton, Hugh||Grundy, T. W.|
|Broad, F. A.||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)|
|Bromfield, William||Day, Colonel Harry||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)|
|Bromley, J.||Dennison, R.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Dunnico, H.||Hardie, George D.|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Palin, John Henry||Taylor, R. A.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Paling, W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Hayes, John Henry||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Thurtle, E.|
|Hirst, G. H.||Potts, John S.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Richardson, M. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Townend, A. E.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Riley, Ben||Varley, Frank B.|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Ritson, J.||Viant, S. P.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Walsh, Rt. Hon Stephen|
|Kelly, W. T.||Scrymgeour, E.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Kennedy, T.||Scurr, John||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Kenyon, Barnet||Sexton, James||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Lansbury, George||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Weir, L. M.|
|Lawson, John James.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Welsh, J. C.|
|Lee, F.||Sitch, Charles H.||Westwood, J.|
|Livingstone, A. M.||Slesser, Sir Henry H.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Lowth, T.||Smillie, Robert||Whiteley, W.|
|Lunn, William||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Mackinder, W.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|MacLaren, Andrew||Snell, Harry||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|March, S.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)||Windsor, Walter|
|Montague, Frederick||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles||Wright, W.|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Stamford, T. W.||Young, E. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Murnin, H.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Oliver, George Harold||Sutton, J. E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. Frederick Hall and Mr. Warne.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Clarry, Reginald George||Grant, J. A.|
|Albery, Irving James||Clayton, G. C.||Greene, W. P. Crawford|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Grotrian, H. Brent|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Cooper, A. Duff||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Apsley, Lord||Couper, J. B.||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad)|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Hammersley, S. S.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander, F. W.||Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Hanbury, C.|
|Atkinson, C.||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Crook, C. W.||Harland, A.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)|
|Balniel, Lord||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Harrison, G. J. C.|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)|
|Barclay-Harvey C. M.||Curtis-Bennett, Sir Henry||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Dalziel, Sir Davison||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxfd, Henley)|
|Bennett, A. J.||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)|
|Berry, Sir George||Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Bethell, A.||Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Henn, Sir Sydney H.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Hilton, Cecil|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Drewe, C.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Duckworth, John||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Elveden, Viscount||Holland, Sir Arthur|
|Brass, Captain W.||England, Colonel A.||Holt, Capt. H. P.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Homan, C. W. J.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.|
|Brown, Maj. D. C.(N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Fermoy, Lord||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Fielden, E. B.||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Finburgh, S.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Fleming, D. P.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Jacob, A. E.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Fraser, Captain Ian||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Charterls, Brigadier-General J.||Gates, Percy||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Gee, Captain R.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Christie, J. A.||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Goff, Sir Park||Lane-Fox, Colonel George R.|
|Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Pease, William Edwin||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)|
|Little, Dr. E. Graham||Penny, Frederick George||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G (Westm'eland)|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Loder, J. de V.||Perring, William George||Storry, Deans, R.|
|Looker, Herbert William||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Lowe, Sir Francis William||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Pielou, D. P.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Pilcher, G.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Lumley, L. R.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Tasker, Major R. Inigo|
|Lynn, Sir R. J.||Price, Major C. W. M.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Radford, E. A.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Raine, W.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Ramsden, E.||Tinne, J. A.|
|McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Rawson, Alfred Cooper||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Macintyre, Ian||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|McLean, Major A.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Macmillan, Captain H.||Remer, J. R.||Waddington, R.|
|McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Remnant, Sir James||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|MacRobert, Alexander M.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Margesson, Captain D.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Rye, F. G.||Wells, S. R.|
|Meller, R. J.||Salmon, Major I.||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Meyer, Sir Frank||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Moles, Thomas||Sandeman, A. Stewart||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. S. M.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Moore, Sir Newton J.||Sandon, Lord||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Moreing, Captain A. H.||Savery, S. S.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Murchison, C. K.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Shepperson, E. W.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Nelson, Sir Frank||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hon. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld.)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Smithers, Waldron||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Nuttall, Ellis||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Oakley, T.||Spender Clay, Colonel H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. Willliam||Sprot, Sir Alexander||Captain Hacking and Major Cope.|
§ Mr. MacLAREN
I beg to move, in page 8, line 1, to leave out Part IV.
Part IV of the Second Schedule deals with the Agricultural Rates Act, 1896; the Agricultural Bates, Congested Districts, and Burgh Land Tax Relief (Scotland) Act, 1896, and the Agricultural Rates Act, 1923. In moving that these Acts be brought to an end, I have two thoughts in my mind. The first is the high rates in the industrial parts of the country and the enormous difficulties facing those areas in trying to meet their liabilities; and the second is that, despite the fact that these Acts were brought into this House with a view to improving agriculture, we now know that the prophecies that they would do nothing more or less that add to the rental value of the land have been fulfilled. In 1922–23 the taxpayers of this country had to make up £1,503,473 in respect of relief in rates given to agricultural land, and in 1923–24, under the further reduction allowed by the Act of 1923, the relief given by the taxpayers to the agricultural land- 256 owners amounted to £4,725,230. I challenge those who advocate this method of agricultural rating to prove that it has been of benefit to agriculture as an industry. By reviewing the prices realised for land in agricultural districts, it can be proved that the not result of the relief given to the rates has re-expressed itself in the prices secured by landowners in transfers and sales of land.
The matter does not end there. Every town is surrounded by what is called agricultural land, rated at agricultural value, that is, at a quarter of its real value. We know what prices are asked when we seek to secure plots of that land for building purposes. A glaring case was quoted by Sir Edgar Harper in a paper before the Royal Statistical Society. He stated that of the total area of 74,816 acres within the administrative county of London, no less than 8,102 acres, or more than 10 per cent., were treated as "agricultural land" within these Acts. Of the total rates levied upon the area, amounting to £15,869,191, only 257 £2,594, or about .016 per cent. of the whole was charged on this "agricultural land." This statement was made by Sir Edgar Harper before the 1923 Act was passed. Under that Act, those 8,102 acres of so-called agricultural land in London, possessing enormous market value if it were sold, would realise in rates only £l,297.
I dare say hon. and right hon. Members have been receiving petitions from all over the country asking that when the Rating and Valuation Bill comes before the House relief should be given in respect of rates on machinery—that relief should be given here, there and everywhere. I am one of those who believe that the best way of giving an impetus to industry is by reducing as far as possible the heavy incubus of rates and taxes now levied upon it. The rates collected by the authorities of this country in 1923–24 amounted to the enormous sum of more than £141,000,000. These rates, plus taxation, are really expressed in the prices we ask for the commodities we send to international markets where we are under a cross fire of undercutting from foreign competition and the heavy dead-weight of taxation and of rates in this country. That is how the industrialist looks at it. When he casts his eyes towards the agricultural districts he sees Agricultural Rates Acts in operation. If they could be proved to be a distinct help to the industry of agriculture something might be said for them.
During the Committee stage of the Act of 1923 some of us pointed out that the relief was being given in the wrong way that it ought to have been given to the farmer in respect of rates levied upon farmers' improvements. Some of us tried to effect that change, but no relief was given to the agriculturist upon the rates levied upon improvements; all the relief was to go to the so-called agricultural land. I defy any student of this question, either in this House or outside, to disprove this statement, that every penny of relief you give in respect of the land itself must ultimately re-express itself in the rent realised by the landowners and in the capitalised prices realised upon sale. These Acts have not been of any advantage to agriculture as an industry. They have been of advantage to those who speculate in the value of land, they have increased rents, and at the same time this 258 relief of rates has increased by an equivalent amount the taxation levied upon the taxpayers of the country. In other words, these so-called reliefs to agriculture under these Acts are a penalty upon the industry, a subsidy to landlordism, and of no relief whatever in the direct road of helping agriculture.
Look at the housing conditions in every town in this country. I represent a constituency in the Potteries. Only last week I went into one of our areas there and found housing conditions which could not be equalled by anything in Glasgow— too appalling to describe to this House. There were 18 people living in two rooms under conditions in which no self-respecting man would dare to breed cattle. Not 200 yards from that spot was land producing nothing, lying vacant, entered on the rates books as agricultural land and receiving its due amount of relief as agricultural land. These slum houses out of which I came were rated at anything from 12s. to 15s. in the £. When I went to this so-called agricultural land, a few hundred yards away, the owner of which receives all the benefits under the Agricultural Rates Acts, I found the owner was holding that land for £800 per acre. I challenge anyone in this House to prove that by these so-called reliefs we are giving any impetus to agriculture as an industry. The reliefs have enhanced the prices of land in agricultural areas, and have screwed up the prices asked by landlords when towns are extending into the country districts. Of course, I feel that I may not meet with success in proposing this Amendment, but to allow this thing to go on year after year without a protest from our side would be a delinquency on our part which we are not prepared to tolerate. I would remind hon. Members that under the new Rating and Valuation Bill these measures are to be transferred from the position of receiving annually our assent in this House to the position of permanent Acts.
§ Mr. HARDIE
I want to deal with what are now known as city margins. Every city and town has what we call a city margin of land, and that margin receives very great benefit owing to the congestion of the city. It receives great benefits under the rating system. In supporting what has been said in the previous speech, surely I could do nothing better than to point out as an argument the fact that 259 just in proportion to your city margins an increase in price is demanded by landlords, and in that ratio you have overcrowding in the centre of your cities. In Glasgow we have about a quarter of the land claiming relief from agricultural rates. In different parts of the city you find landlords escaping the rates by erecting a railing round their land and putting up a board displaying the words "For Sale," whilst inside this railing you see an accumulation of dead cats and dogs and other rubbish. The moment the community desire more room to live and to expand by providing better houses, then these burial grounds for cats and dogs become a gold mine for the landlord.
You have in your cities and growing towns a type of individual who is always watching the progress of the community, awaiting industrial development in order to increase the price of his land. How could any House of Commons with a Tory Government in power do anything else but support such a system? We have heard a good deal in this House about supporting new industries, and we were told that after the War great things were going to be done. I would like to mention the case of a new industry not in my constituency. When it was started they had to pay £3 per foot frontage for the land 125 feet deep. After one year's earnest working they did so well that they wanted to make an extension of their premises, and, although by starting that industry they had found work for a large number of unemployed, when they went to ask their great, patriotic landlord, who talks on the platform about laying down his life for his country, to sell them more land, he asked £9 per foot, or £3,000 per acre. At the basis of our industries you have this blood-sucking going on, and the result is that, in the case I have alluded to, it means that the instruments they are producing have to be increased in price, and this interferes with their foreign trade, because higher prices have to be charged simply because of the high price of land.
Therefore, you are not only by this policy destroying industry, but you are bringing about at the same time a reduction of wages. Landlords are now being subsidised by being allowed a reduction of their rates. Not long ago 260 the Prime Minister made sympathetic references in regard to the slums of Glasgow, but he is not willing to do anything to do away with those things which lie in the way of workers getting better conditions under which to live. If the Prime Minister only had the courage of his opinions he would at once get his party to remove all these land anomalies which are causing such hardship among the poorer people.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I know the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) who introduced this Amendment will forgive me if I do not enter into all the matters to which he has referred, because no doubt this will be the subject of further debate later on. I think most hon. Members will agree that the Committee will be taking a wise course by continuing the powers contained in the Schedule dealing with this particular matter, at any rate until we have discussed the whole subject, as we shall do in connection with the Valuation and Rating Bill in a few days time. In that Bill we are asking the House to make permanent provision so far as the relief of agriculture is concerned. What we are asking for this afternoon is simply to continue these Bills until some decision has been arrived at. In the particular Bill which I have just mentioned suggestions are made whereby this relief will be of a permanent character, and when this question is before the House it can be challenged. As I have already pointed out, it will be some little time before that Measure can come into operation, and, therefore, it is necessary for these Bills to be continued. I hope the Committee will be content with that statement. The Mover of this Amendment has referred to a matter about which I know a little. He mentioned the case of some slums in his own constituency, and stated that some landlord was holding up the land and asking £800 an acre for it. I cannot understand such a statement, because the local authority has power to enter into possession of such land.
§ Sir K. WOOD
The local authority need not enter into negotiations at all in such a case, because they can serve notice immediately. What is more, in 261 such a case the price of the land has to be settled by an independent arbiter. Therefore, there can be no question of anybody holding up land in regard to housing. I may point out also that the average price of land, so far as our workmen's houses are concerned, is limited to the very small sum of £20. I wish it could be said that other people in the building trade had only been able to obtain as little out of housing as the landlords? That is the real position, and that is the only statement which has been made in this Debate to which I feel qualified to reply. I feel some confidence in asking the Committee to follow this course, because I remember that in 1924 a similar Bill was presented by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) which included Part IV of the Agricultural Rates Acts, 1896. I hope the Committee will allow these Acts to be continued until we have discussed the measures being brought forward by the Government.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I think it is more necessary day by day to oppose the present decision of the Government. Much of the building land around towns and cities is rented at an extremely low rental and is exempted from rates, the result being that the other ratepayers have to make good the difference. I think it is the more important because the Bill to which the hon. Gentleman refers, the Rating and Valuation Bill, proposes, as he knows quite well, to exempt machinery from rating, with a view to reducing overhead charges and making it more easy for our trade to recover. That, as he knows, throws an additional burden upon the ratepayers in the locality. Indeed, the chief opposition to that very just amendment of our law arises from the fact that an additional burden, sometimes amounting to 7d. in the £, is going to be thrown on the ratepayers in various localities. Is it not, therefore, all the more important that we should now put an end to a state of affairs which allows certain happy ratepayers who own building land, or land of building value, around towns, to escape three-fourths of their rates and put it upon the rest of the community?
I know it will be said that this Bill has been continued year after year. I remember, when it was introduced in 1896, that the whole of the Liberal party 262 of that day opposed the Bill on the ground that, although it was a temporary Measure, it would undoubtedly be continued. They pointed out then as I would like to do now, that this exemption given to owners of agricultural land from rates—at that time one-half, now three-fourths—would not help agriculture in the least, but would merely mean that bigger rents would be paid for that land. I remember Mr. Francis Dyke Acland, when he was in the House only two or three years ago, on the question of extending the relief from one-half to three-fourths, frankly telling the House that this would mean an additional value for his property.
Indeed, everyone concedes that, if you reduce the rates upon agricultural land pure and simple—not buildings—the net result is an increase in the capital selling value of the land when the rates are reduced. It was said, I think by Mr. Chaplin, while the Bill of 1896 was going through this House, that the higher the rates the lower the rents, and the lower the rates the higher the rent, so far as agricultural land was concerned; and I remember Sir Daniel Ford Goddard pointing out to the House that this was not a real remission of taxation or remission of rates, but that it was a. gift to the landlord class of 25 years' purchase of the remitted rates, and was, therefore, putting money straight into the pockets of the landlords. He quoted Mr. Goschen, a great authority in earlier days, to that effect. I think the quotation from Mr. Goschen, if I remember rightly, was something like this, that the rates were an hereditary burden upon property; that every owner who bought land, bought it subject to the payment of those rates, and, therefore, paid a lower price for the land because it was subject to those rates; that every piece of land that had been bought or sold or inherited had been bought or sold or inherited subject to the payment of those rates, and that, if there was a relief of one-half—as it was then—of the burden of rates, that was putting hard cash into the pockets of the owners by enabling them to get a better price for their Land and a better rent for their property.
That was the objection to the Agricultural Hates Acts originally, and it is a sound economic objection which exists to-day. I do think, when we are faced with a housing problem and an unemploy- 263 ment problem both caused directly by the increased charge which owners of land and raw materials are able to extract from the people who want to use them, that now, at any rate, we ought to make a change, and to cease to give this special benefit to one particular class of ratepayers. All over the country will be found local authorities who are going absolutely bankrupt; they cannot make both ends meet now that the unemployed are thrown off benefit and on to the rates. Surely now is the time when we should enable those local authorities to make both ends meet, by allowing them to invite to join the ranks of the ratepayers these people who for the last 30 years have been escaping their just due. For all these reasons I hope the Government will consider the possibility of dropping these rate exemptions now, and of allowing us, when the Rating and Valuation Bill comes forward, to knock them out for ever, and put the ratepayers of every class and kind upon the same footing, ceasing to exempt those ratepayers who have been exempted by Act of Parliament in repeated years, and enabling them to assist the other ratepayers in meeting the extraordinary charges that now fall upon industry.
§ Mr. BANKS
Considering the large amount of time that was consumed by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) in the Committee on the Rating and Valuation Bill, I confess I am amazed to find that he still, apparently, entirely misapprehends the fundamental principles of the law of rating. You do not rate the owner of land, unless he happens to be an occupier, and you do not rate land upon its selling value. That is not the criterion at all. The fundamental principle of the law of rating is that you ask yourself, when valuing land, what rent a hypothetical tenant would give for the piece of land in question, taking one year with another. The broad distinction between relief given to agricultural land and relief given to machinery is this: The whole difficulty about machinery has arisen from our having to say whether the machinery in a large factory is or is not really a part of the premises. The Law Courts had great difficulty in deciding whether it was or whether it was not. In an early series of cases they 264 laid down what I think was a proper criterion, namely, that if it was so much a part of the building that it would pass on the demise of the property, it should be rated, and not otherwise. Then, of course, one came to the difficulty of assessing factories because of the profits they earn, and so forth. That is why we now say that there is a great claim on the part of machinery to be exempted from rating—first of all, because we think the Law Courts have laid down a wrong principle, or, at any rate, a confusing principle, and because the practice is still very far from uniform and is very anomalous.
When you come to deal with agricultural land, the relief given to agricultural land by way of rates has nothing whatever in the world to do with the price of the land for sale, or the price which may be exacted by the landlord who is fortunate enough to have land in a city. T will tell the right hon. Gentleman why. If he says the relief given in rates to agricultural land is going to increase its price to a buyer, I would ask, why is it going to increase its price? It is for this reason only, that that is a class of land which has to bear a smaller burden of rates, and, therefore, it will be worth the while of a purchaser to pay more for it. That is assuming that it is still going to be used as agricultural land. But if it is going to be sold for building land, which may have to be done if the land is on the outskirts of a city, it is going to be sold in order that houses may be put upon it, and in that case the relief will vanish, and no one contemplating purchasing it will give an additional farthing for it on that account.
The taxes on land, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, have nothing at all to do with the rates; there is a different valuation, and there will continue to be. The question of the selling price, as I have said, is really irrelevant; both the hon. Members who have spoken were really dealing with the taxation of land values, which is an entirely different principle from that which prevails with regard to rating. There is another reason why the question of the selling price is irrelevant. If I have land outside a large city, where it is urgently required for the purpose of building houses, until I sell that land I am not getting anything extra for it. It is lying 265 there, and I am not putting money into my pocket; I am not extorting an additional high rent, and, therefore, of course, there is no reason in the world why I should pay higher rates. I am standing out of my money until I sell. It is not the relief that adds to the value. I only get relief so long as I use my land as agricultural land, and so long as I use it as agricultural land I cannot get a high rent, so that it is quite unreasonable and absurd to suggest that I should pay high rates. If I sell my land to someone who is going to use it for agricultural purposes, possibly he may be induced to pay me a higher price, because it is the class of land that bears lower rate; but if I sell it to someone like the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren), who wants to put houses on it, it is going to lose that relief in the matter of rates, and, naturally, no one is going to pay a higher price for it.
Finally, it seems to me that both the hon. Members, when speaking of the poor people in the cities, entirely forgot the poor people who are engaged upon the land. I am not going to travel outside the question of rating, but we have had many discussions in the House upon the extreme difficulty which farmers are finding at the present time in paying to their agricultural labourers those wages which we know they and everyone else would desire to see paid. One of the difficulties they have is that they are rated heavily, or, rather, they were before the relief was given, for a series of services from which only the urban population derive advantage. Education, highways, sanitation—they have to pay for all these things, and do not really get much advantage out of them; it is the town dwellers who get the advantage; and, on Sundays and other days, the town dweller comes out in his chars-à bane and motor lorries and cuts up the roads for which the farmers have to pay. On these and many other grounds this relief was given, and in my opinion its effect in enabling the farmers to pay better wages more than compensates for any loss there may be to other classes of ratepayers. As to the question of the acquisition of land, and the demand for land in the vicinity of our great cities, even if this Bill were to be cut short to-morrow it would not affect the situation by one jot or one tittle.
§ Mr. SCURR
I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Swindon (Mr. Banks), and am very pleased that the silence of the other side has at last been broken in the Debate regarding this Bill. I was, however, really unable to follow the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument. As I understood it, it was that, if we have this relief in rates on so-called agricultural land, the result will be that, because of that relief in rates, a person will buy that land or rent it at a somewhat higher figure than if the relief in rates had not been given. His second point was that, when you come into the town and the land ceases to be agricultural land, and, therefore, loses the benefit of this relief, a person coming along will pay a higher price still for the land.
§ Mr. BANKS
I must correct the hon. Member. My point was that while, if the land is going to be sold for agricultural purposes, you may increase the value of the land when you lower the rates, if it is a question of putting houses on the land the purchaser is not going to pay a higher price for it, because when he has got it he loses the relief in question.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. SCURR
I think that, really, I correctly represented what the hon. and Learned Member said, and I leave him on the horns of the dilemma on which he has impaled himself. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health spoke all the time of local authorities coming in and taking the land, and said that it was all a question of referring to an independent valuation. That is a very interesting thing, because, after all, those of us who are concerned with municipal administration, and particularly with the housing problem with which we are faced at the present moment, especially in London, whether on the county council or on the borough councils, find ourselves all the time faced with this question of the high value of land. I have in front of me at the present time certain figures which I think the Committee ought to know. There is the estate at Becontree, which the London County Council are developing at the present time. They are trying their best and I will give 267 credit to the members of the party opposite to my own, and I will give credit to the Chairman of the Housing Committee of the London County Council that he personally is sincerely desirous of doing all he can to get as many houses as possible. What has been the case on the Becontree Estate? The annual net value rated as agricultural land was £3,590. I submit that a really fair price would have been 35 years' purchase, and that would have been £125,000, but, actually, the London County Council had to pay £295,000, or over 80 years' purchase of the rateable value. With regard to the Bellingham Estate, it is even worse. Thirty-five years' purchase of that would have given £15,750. Actually, the London County Council had to pay £50,339, or 102 years' purchase of rateable value. On the Roehampton Estate, which I suppose is perhaps, from, a social point of view, a better neighbourhood, it was 126 years' purchase of the rateable value. It is absurd that property of this kind should be receiving a relief in rates on account of expenditure by the ratepayers, whether it has been wise expenditure of boroughs like Stoke Newington, under the control
§ of Municipal Reform administration, or whether in places like Poplar, which are reckless and extravagant according to Members opposite. Whatever services are paid for by the ratepayers keep on increasing the value of this land.
§ We have in the great city of Birmingham 43,000 acres, and 20,000 acres are rated as agricultural land. I find, in accordance with the return made in this House in 1914, that whereas the total rates collected in Birmingham amounted to £1,618,000, the 20,000 acres of so-called agricultural land only contributed £7,000. Statistically, the case is absolutely watertight so far as our position is concerned. If, as the hon. Gentleman opposite says, it is the intention of the Government to make these Acts permanent in the Bating and Valuation Bill, then there is no need to carry them forward on this occasion at all. The whole thing ought to be dropped, so that when it comes before us as the Rating and Valuation Bill it can be dealt with in a proper manner.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 275: Noes, 127.271
|Division No. 364.]||AYES.||[7.5 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Butt, Sir Alfred||Duckworth, John|
|Albery, Irving James||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Campbell, E. T.||Elliot, Captain Walter E.|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Cassels, J. D.||Elveden, Viscount|
|Apsley, Lord||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||England, Colonel A.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith|
|Atkinson, C.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Chapman, Sir S.||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Balniel, Lord||Charterls, Brigadier-General J.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Chilcott, Sir Warden||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Christie, J. A.||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Fenby, T. D.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Clarry, Reginald George||Fermoy, Lord|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||Clayton, G. C.||Fielden, E. B.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Finburgh, S.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Cooper, A. Duff||Fleming, D. P.|
|Berry, Sir George||Couper, J. B.||Ford, P. J.|
|Bethell, A.||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Forrest, W.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Foster, Sir Harry S.|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Craik Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Crook, C. W.||Fremantle, Lieut. Colonel Francis E.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Gadle, Lieut.-Col. Anthony|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Gates, Percy|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Gee, Captain R.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Dalkeith, Earl of||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Dalziel, Sir Davison||Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Davidson, J. (Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Goff, Sir Park|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Grant, J. A.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Greene, W. P. Crawford|
|Brown, Maj. D. C.(N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Dawson, Sir Philip||Grotrian, H. Brent|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Doyle, Sir N. Grattan||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Drewe, C.||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Macintyre, Ian||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Hanbury, C.||McLean, Major A.||Savery, S. S.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Macmillan, Captain H.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)|
|Harland, A.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Macquisten, F. A.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Margesson, Captain D.||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Meller, R. J.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Meyer, Sir Frank||Smithers, Waldron|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Spender Clay, Colonel H.|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Moles, Thomas||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)|
|Hilton, Cecil||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Moore-Brabazon Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Moreing, Captain A. H.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Storry Deans, R.|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Holt, Capt. H. P.||Murchison, C. K.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Homan, C. W. J.||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Tasker, Major R. Inigo|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hon. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld.)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Nuttall, Ellis||Tinne, J. A.|
|Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Oakley, T.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Penny, Frederick George||Word, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Hutchison, G. A. Clark(Midl'n & P'bl's)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Perring, William George||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Wells, S. R.|
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Pilcher, G.||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Jacob, A. E.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Price, Major C. W. M.||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Radford, E. A.||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Raine, W.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Kenyon, Barnet||Ramsden, E.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Rawson, Alfred Cooper||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Remnant, Sir James||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Lane-Fox, Colonel George R.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Little, Dr. E. Graham||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Loder, J. de V.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Lowe, Sir Francis William||Rye, F. G.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Salmon, Major I.||Wragg Herbert|
|Luce, Major-Gen, Sir Richard Harman||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Lumley, L. R.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Sandeman, A. Stewart||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Major Cope and Mr. F. C.|
|McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Sandon, Lord||Thomson.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hirst, G. H.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Crawfurd, H. E.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Dalton, Hugh||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Ammon, Charles George||Day, Colonel Harry||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Dennison, R.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Duncan, C.||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Baker, Walter||Dunnico, H.||Kelly, W. T.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Kennedy, T.|
|Barnes, A.||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Lansbury, George|
|Batey, Joseph||Gibbins, Joseph||Lawson, John James.|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Gosling, Harry||Lee, F.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Lowth, T.|
|Briant, Frank||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Lunn, William|
|Broad, F. A.||Greenall, T.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)|
|Bromfield, William||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Mackinder, W.|
|Bromley, J.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Buchanan, G.||Grundy, T. W.||March, S.|
|Cape, Thomas||Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Montague, Frederick|
|Clowes, S.||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Murnin, H.|
|Compton, Joseph||Hardle, George D.||Oliver, George Harold|
|Connolly, M.||Hayday, Arthur||Palin, John Henry|
|Cove, W. G.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Paling, W.|
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Ponsonby, Arthur||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Potts, John S.||Stamford, T. W.||Weir, L. M.|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Stephen, Campbell||Welsh, J. C.|
|Riley, Ben||Sutton, J. E.||Westwood, J.|
|Ritson, J.||Taylor, R. A.||Whiteley, W.|
|Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro., W.)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Scrymgeour, E.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Scurr, John||Thurtle, E.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Tinker, John Joseph||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Townend, A. E.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Varley, Frank B.||Windsor, Walter|
|Sitch, Charles H.||Viant, S. P.||Wright, W.|
|Smillie, Robert||Wallhead, Richard C.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Snell, Harry||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D.(Rhonnda)||Mr. Warne and Mr. Hayes.|
|Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Schedule, as amended, be the Second Schedule to the Bill."
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
I want to raise a question, not in any way objecting to the Acts in the Schedule, with regard to the Ministry of Food Continuance Act, 1920, which appears in Part I of the Schedule. It was continued for the sole purpose of providing for the sale of bread by weight. There has been a procedure laid down under which a Select Committee decides every three years to recommend which Acts shall be made permanent and which temporary. This Act has been continued every year in the Expiring Laws Bill for five years, and yet this question of selling bread by weight is one that is of vital interest to the whole of the public. At the Board of Trade last year we had got to the position of the preparation of a Bill to make permanent the sale of bread by weight. There were difficulties at the time with regard to negotiations with the Scottish Office, but when the election came last year we were on the point of getting a satisfactory conclusion of those negotiations, and we were under the impression that this Session we should most certainly get put upon the Statute Book an Act of Parliament making it compulsory to sell bread by weight. We are anxious to know whether the Government are able to contemplate now the introduction of a Bill which will make permanent the provisions of the Sale of Food Order and if so, whether that Bill will be introduced within the next few months.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
As far as I know, the hon. Member has not given notice that he wished to raise this question, and I am exceedingly sorry there is no one present representing the Board of 272 Trade. I see my hon. Friend has come in now. The matter is not in my Department.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Sir Burton Chadwick)
I was not aware that this question was coming up at this stage of the Bill, as it was not moved when we were discussing the Schedule.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
The only place where we can raise this question, if there is no Amendment on the Paper, is on the Schedule.
§ Sir B. CHADWICK
I was pointing out that no Amendment had been put down. This item enables Parts I and III of the Sale of Food Order, 1921, to be continued. It is a Measure which meets with the general approval of everyone concerned, and of the traders themselves, and it has been continued year after year ever since the War. Part I of the Order stipulates that bread shall be sold by weight— 1 lb. or an even number of lbs. weights— and that seems to satisfy everyone. It may be said it would be desirable that a Measure of this kind should be provided for by an Act. Successive Governments have made efforts to get the matter into an Act, the last occasion being in the last Government, of which the hon. Member was a Member, and his name was on the last Bill. For one reason or another, it has not been found possible to get the Bill through, and so we are coming to the Committee again to ask them to continue it under the Expiring Laws Bill.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
I have said that last year this very desirable procedure of making this permanent was held up because the Scottish Office had some difference of opinion with the Board of Trade, but we had arrived at a stage 273 when we hoped to be coming to an agreement. I want to know what has happened in rather more than 12 months to the Bill which was actually in draft. Has the Department continued the negotiations with the Scottish Office, have they broken down, or why is it that the public is still without a permanent arrangement for the sale of bread by weight?
§ Sir B. CHADWICK
The public does not seem to be uneasy about the matter. The public is perfectly comfortable about it. Generally, it may be considered that a matter of this kind, about which everyone is so happy, should be put into a Bill and possibly an opportunity will present itself later. All I can say is that if an opportunity presents itself I have no doubt the Government will take it into consideration and possibly embody it in a public Act.
§ Preamble agreed to.
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.