§ Mr. SPEAKER
The First Amendment standing in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Preston (Mr. A. R. Kennedy)—to leave out Clause 1—is not in order, because it would be equivalent to negativing the whole Bill.
§ Lieut.-Colonel GADIE
I beg to move, in page 1, line 6, to leave out the word "dealer," and to insert instead thereof the word "person."
A dealer is a person who attends sales and his interests are directly against the profession of an auctioneer. A dealer is a man who attends a sale, not to buy for himself, but in order to make a profit by attending there and performing commissions. He is a person who attends a sale for a purpose which is not to make a legitimate profit, and he should be placed on the same footing as other persons in that respect. I hope the promoters of this Bill will accept my Amendment.
§ Mr. COUPER
I beg to second the Amendment.
In doing so, all I desire to say is that I know from experience that the arguments put forward by the last speaker are correct.
§ Major ALAN McLEAN
This Amendment was raised on the Second Reading of the Bill, when there appeared to be a general agreement in the House that the questions we are dealing with here were divided into two groups. First of all, there was the group in which we have professional dealers conducting knockouts; and, in the second place, you have private arrangements between people who go casually to auctions and enter into an agreement such as has been cited. That case was an instance where two landowners wanted to acquire a neighbouring estate, or some portion of it, and they agreed not to bid against each other. They also agreed that, if one of them made the purchase and desired to sell 2200 it again, he would give the other first offer. There is nothing really immoral or illegal in doing that, but it is quite a different matter when you come to the knock-out. Consequently, in Committee, Clause 1 was considerably amended to confine the Bill to instances in which one of the parties was actually a professional dealer. For these reasons, I oppose this Amendment.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
I am sorry that the hon. and gallant Member who Moved this Amendment did not give us some more detailed information, and, unless he can do so, I am in great doubt as to whether we shall be able to support it. In the absence of that information, I am inclined to vote against the whole of the Clause.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Member for Central Bradford (Lieut.-Colonel Gadie) is entitled to reply as the Mover of the Amendment.
Captain ARTHUR EVANS
I want to point out that frequently, if women desire to bid at auction sales, they engage a third party. Whether or not that person would be called a dealer for the purposes of this Bill or would come under the heading of a person, I am not quite sure. I think it would be rather unfair to put in this Amendment, because undoubtedly there are people at auction sales who are not qualified to take part in an auction sale as bidders, and I fear, if this Amendment be accepted, they will not be able to have anybody to represent their interests.
§ Mr. SCURR
I hope the hon. and gallant Member for Central Bradford (Lieut.-Colonel Gadie) will not press this Amendment. The hon. and gallant Member for Norfolk, South-Western (Major McLean) has put forward an instance in which two landowners desiring to buy the same estate agree not to bid against each other when the estate is put up for auction. If it be wrong for ordinary persons who are dealing in ordinary commodities to agree not to bid against one another, surely it is equally wrong for persons to come to an arrangement not to bid against each other in order to keep down the price. After all, if an auction be held, it is generally held because it is imagined that at the auction the best price will be obtained on account of the competition of buyers bidding 2201 against one another. Therefore, there is no reason why any person who wishes to buy should be excluded from this Bill. For these reasons, I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman will not press the Amendment.
§ Mr. A. R. KENNEDY
I am afraid this Amendment is not receiving the consideration which its importance deserves. Under this Bill, a crime is intended to be created, and the provision made limits the operation of that crime to an ill-defined class of person. The Bill, as it stands, makes certain agreements or transactions a crime if carried out by dealers, and I think some justification is required for drawing a distinction between dealers and other classes of people. A dealer may be the principal offender, but nobody doubts for a moment that there are evils which might be redressed if suitable means are taken. At the same time, there are other persons besides dealers in the habit of frequenting sales who may make such arrangements. In these circumstances, it is a little difficult, on the face of it, to draw distinctions between agreements which it is sought to condemn when they are made by dealers, and agreements made by other persons who may have at the moment an equal interest in making such agreements. Clause 1 of the Bill reveals a very notable and striking position in relation to this Amendment. The opening words of the Clause are:If any dealer … offers any gift or consideration"——and so forth. The position, therefore, arises, as the Bill stands, that, in order that proceedings might be commenced under this Bill, the prosecution would first have to show that the person who offered to make an arrangement of the nature indicated was a dealer. A dealer is defined later in the Bill asa person who in the normal course of his business attends sales by auction for the purpose of purchasing goods with a view to reselling them.I find considerable difficulty at the moment in seeing why, if a dealer is liable to prosecution for offering to make such an arrangement, I, who go into the auction room with precisely the same object as the dealer, namely, to buy at the cheapest possible price, and who, finding myself in competition with others, make an arrangement with others for my own, and it may be for their, advantage 2202 should be immune. I think the House should hesitate long before it makes a crime of an act which may be quite innocent, although in certain instances the act may prove injurious to others.
The matter may be looked at from two points of view. It may be looked at from the point of view of the seller, and the seller may or may not be disadvantaged by an arrangement made between interested people as to whether they will or will not bid. In other circumstances, persons who attend the sale might not think it worth their while to do so. There is, of course, another point of view which should override that consideration, and that is the point of view of the State. It might very well be thought by the House that agreements of the nature here reprobated are agreements against public policy, and that it is desirable that drastic steps should be taken to prevent such agreements being made; but there are many forms of limitation of competition, in many spheres of commerce and business, to which objection might be taken on the same ground, and I think it is a matter of some serious moment that this House should be asked to single out this particular form of evil, which I confess I think is a minor form of evil, arising from the making of arrangements at auction sales—generally very small auction sales—while leaving larger evils untouched.
The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Captain-Hacking)
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Bradford (Lieut.-Colonel Gadie) moved this Amendment in a short speech, but one argument which he brought out was to the effect that it may be that persons other than dealers attend auction sales for dishonourable purposes. Of course, one admits that that may be true. On the other hand, the House has to consider the very large, indeed, the overwhelming, number of people who go to auctions with every desire to be honourable. The substitution of the word "person" for the word "dealer" would make the Bill very much wider, and make it include the possibility of bringing in people who, generally speaking, are a perfectly honourable class. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Preston (Mr. A. R. Kennedy) says that a new crime 2203 is being created in this Bill. That, again, is true, but, if his argument be pushed to its logical conclusion, it means that he is desirous of enlarging that crime by making it apply to a larger number of people.
The definition of the word "dealer" in paragraph (2) of the proviso to Clause 1 is, I think, quite clear and quite understandable, and I would suggest to the House that the promoters of the Bill really have no desire to go any further than is laid down in that definition. The Bill was deliberately drawn tightly, in order to avoid preventing persons from making agreements of a purely reasonable kind. If this Amendment be accepted, agreements will be prevented which might be strictly honourable. For example, a family could not go to an auction of their late parents' property and agree amongst themselves that they would not bid against each other. Surely, it is perfectly honourable for members of a family who go to an auction of that kind to make an arrangement among themselves not to bid up the price to any high level. The desire of the promoters of this Bill, I take it, is only to damage and prevent rings; they do not desire to interfere with legitimate arrangements. This Amendment would make the Bill far too wide, and would alter its whole structure. That is quite impossible at this late stage, and I hope the House will resist the Amendment.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
If my memory serves me, this Amendment would put the Bill back to the position in which it was on Second Reading, and I would draw the attention of the House to the fact that the admirable arguments which the Under-Secretary has used against the insertion of the word "person" instead of the word "dealer" in this Clause are really admirable arguments against the whole principle of the Clause. It is absurd to prevent any members of a family from agreeing not to compete against each other at an auction. I should imagine, that while it may not be quite so absurd, it is hopeless to attempt to prevent rival landlords, whose property borders on an estate which is being sold, from making an arrangement beforehand as to which of them should bid and which of them 2204 should have that estate if it were sold. In the same way, it is equally absurd to prevent dealers from coming to arrangements of this sort. This Bill is similar to half-a-dozen that we have had this year. Inspired by an admirable intention to remove some abuse which has probably been over-advertised in the newspapers, the Conservative party bring in a Bill to make that abuse impossible, and, having decided to make it impossible, they hand over the job of drawing up the law to make it impossible to some Parliamentary draftsman. The Parliamentary draftsman is set an impossible task. He has somehow to square the ideas of the promoters of the Bill with common sense and practical politics, and you get a Bill like this. It is a most amusing Bill. I remember it on Second Reading, and hardly a line of it is now the same as it was then. It has been recast entirely. It is a sort of attempt at squaring good intentions with common sense.
I am in favour of this Amendment, because I think that, if you make a law, even an unjust law, it should apply to all people equally. You should not select one particular class of the community and say to them, "This law is meant for you; you are going to be made criminals by this law, but other people who do exactly the same thing will be acting within the law." Indeed, we are told that they will be acting honourably, which is more than within the law. But, you say to this particular class, "You will not be merely acting dishonourably, but illegally, and you will go to gaol with hard labour." That is a growing habit among hon. Members opposite. They want to stop something. They do not mind what human rights or liberties they override in their passion for reform, and they introduce a Bill, the principal Clause of which is always the punishment by fine and imprisonment of anyone who is caught within its meshes. I hope the Amendment will be carried, not that I hope all perfectly honest law-abiding persons will suddenly be converted into criminals, because I and the House know full well that if this law is supposed to apply to all man it will apply to no men, and, like so many other similar laws which have been passed in previous years, it will become a dead letter. Think of the efforts we made to prevent people breaking up 2205 public meetings. That Bill has never once been used. We keep on passing like this, and the Members who to their constituencies chests and say, "I carried this law. I am the farmers' friend."
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is now discussing the whole Bill rather than the Amendment.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am hoping that, if the Amendment be carried, the promoters will not proceed with the Bill. Even at this late hour it may——
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman had better reserve those remarks till he sees what the House does.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I will confine myself to heartily supporting the Amendment, not on the question of its wording, but because I think, if it be carried, it will at least make a bad Bill more equitable between different classes of society.
§ Lieut.-Colonel GADIE
May I explain the reason why the word "person" should be inserted instead of the word "dealer." I cut it short at first to see what objection there could be to the words. I think I can, in about two minutes, make it clear why we should have the word "person." Is there any difference between a man making a bargain with a ring itself against the seller as to the price of the article and the men in the ring sitting down afterwards and making a bargain? A ring in an auction is formed of men who go there not with the express purpose of buying, but they make a business of going round forming part of a ring for the express purpose of taking profit out of what is considered an illegitimate business. Another auction takes place immediately after the legitimate auction. My point in asking the House to accept the word "person," is that it does not matter to me whether it is the man's regular job to take part in a ring or whether he goes there with the express purpose that morning of taking a profit by keeping out the ring of competitors and himself getting it at less than a legitimate price. I think the Under-Secretary has missed the point altogether. It does not matter whether a man is a machinery broker, a cattle dealer, or a member of a family. If he be working against you 2206 and buying something in order that he himself shall make what I consider to be an illegitimate profit, he ought to be brought under the Bill as much as a dealer in land or anything else. In fact, when the Under-Secretary was speaking, it rather reminded me of the Yorkshire-man who always answered back quickly to a morning greeting. He was friendly but quick in his retorts. He was pointing out that there are certain things we must all share alike. I remember, as a boy, I used to say, "Good morning, Mr. So-and-So," and, if I said it was a wet morning, the answer in Yorkshire was, "Well, you are out in it also." If it was sunshine, and I said, "It is very warm this morning," he said, "Well, you are getting your share of it." If I was doing work under the same circumstances, I should be in exactly the same position as the man. I want this to embrace everyone if it is a crime and a fault, and we know these things happen in connection with sales. I am frank with the House. I am not too much enamoured of the Bill. I am afraid it may catch certain people who honestly conduct their business. On the other hand, it must be recognised that in some trades there is a tremendous lot of illegitimate profit made by forming a ring, and having an auction outside. I cannot understand why the word "person" should not be accepted, as in the Bill it states:dealer … who offers any gift or consideration.It is just as possible for a man who is a merchant to make money in this way as a person who habitually joins the ring. If any person attends, and he squares the ring to allow him to come in, he should be just as liable as a dealer.
§ Mr. GROTRIAN
I am not in favour of creating new crimes, and I am in favour of limiting the class as strictly as possible to whom new crimes apply. Therefore, I think if you accept this Amendment you are enlarging the Bill to such an extent as to be in danger of making it a dead letter. If you want it to be a dead letter, this is a way to do it, to make it so wide that it will become almost ridiculous, and no one will attempt to put it into operation. But surely there is this point about putting in the word "dealer." A dealer is presumably a man who is accustomed to deal and 2207 knows what he is doing, and he is not going to be trapped unconsciously. If he enters into this sort of conspiracy, he does it with his eyes open. I am really afraid, if you put in the word "person," you may entrap a lot of people with perfectly innocent intentions who have no intention whatever of committing any offence, and the Bill would become so wide as to be almost inoperative.
§ Mr. HERBERT WILLIAMS
I oppose the Amendment. I feel that, if it be passed, we shall carry the Bill to a point at which it is bound to fail. My reasons are rather opposed to those of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), but I should like to thank him for his tribute to the passionate zeal for reform that exists on these benches, while he lives in a world that is the best of all possible worlds. But seriously, I can imagine myself meeting the Mover of the Bill, each with a catalogue of an
§ auction sale in our hands, engaging in a conversation, and asking him, or he asking me, what I was going to buy, and it might turn out that we were both seeking to buy the same article, and one of us might suggest that we should toss up to see which should try for it. That does not seem to me a very grave crime, but it might result in our Division record being spoilt for the next six months. I am told that would not be a crime under the Bill as no money would be given, but I took the precaution of consulting the eminent learned Gentleman behind me, the Member for Preston (Mr. A. R. Kennedy), and I am informed, on the authority of one of the King's Counsel, that that would be a crime, and, therefore, I draw attention to that possibility.
§ Question put, "That the word 'dealer' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 68; Noes, 54.2207
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Hall, Capt, W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfast)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Haslam, Henry C.||Smith-Carington, Neville W,|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxl'd, Henley)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Bowyer, Capt G. E. W.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Hennessy, Major Sir G. B. J.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hume, Sir G. H.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Cope, Major William||Jacob, A. E.||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Thorn, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Galnsbro)||Lamb, J. Q.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Tinne, J. A.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Lumley, L. R.||Vauahan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||McLean, Major A.||Watson, fit. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||White, Lieut.-Col Sir G. Dalrymple|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Fremantle, Lt.-Col. Francis E.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Gauit, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Power, Sir John Cecil||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Lord Fermoy and Sir Douglas Newton.|
|Grotrlan, H. Brent||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Sutton. J. E.|
|Alexander, A. V (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Lawrence, Susan||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Baker, Walter||Lawson, John James||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Batey, Joseph||Lee, F.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Lunn, William||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Compton, Joseph||Moles, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Nuttall, Ellis||Viant, S. P.|
|Davles, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Potts, John S.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D.(Rhondda)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Dennison, R.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwelity)||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Westwood, J.|
|Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Scurr, John||Whiteley, W.|
|Hall, G. H.(Merthyr Tvdvil)||Sexton, James||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Windsor, Walter|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Hilton, Cecil||Sitch, Charles H.|
|John, William (Rnondda, West)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Snell, Harry||L ol. Gadie and Mr. Couper.|
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
I beg to move, in page 1, line 12, after the word "aforesaid," to insert the wordsor if any person agrees on behalf of the vendor to bid up the price at a sale by auction generally or for any particular lot without any intention of purchasing.The Clause that we are considering and desire to amend this morning has, as my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) says, become an entirely new Clause from that which was submitted to this House on Second Reading. Although it has been completely altered, apparently, with the direct help of the Home Office—that was made quite clear in Committee, I think, by the Under-Secretary of State—this principle still remains, namely, that the Bill seeks to protect only those people who are selling goods at auctions. There is no attempt at all to protect those people—by far the greater portion of the community—who are purchasers at auctions. I have said at various stages of the Debate in Committee that probably there are abuses which are carried on and which are to the detriment of those persons who have goods for sale at auctions. Anyone who has had any experience at all, either of what I might call legitimate trade in respect of which auctions take place, or what I might call the cheap-jack business, cannot fail to realise that the people who attend auctions bona fide to make purchases are the people who, in the long run, are the most exploited and the most abused, and not the people who sell the goods. Although that is recognised by the great mass of the community outside this House, yet when a Bill is brought in to deal with the regularising of procedure at auctions the attempt is made to deal only with one class of persons in the community, namely, those who have goods for sale.
I want to say this morning that the practice of agreeing to abstain from bidding one against the other in order to secure a lower price is in itself surely not a criminal offence. If it be carried to a further point—we know that in sonic instances such is the case—where, as a result of such agreement, there is another sale of the knock-out character, then it is reprehensible. The actual practice of agreeing amongst certain people not to cut each others' throats at auction is not reprehensible when it 2210 confers in many of the food trades of this country a very great privilege upon masses of consumers. It prevents the cost of living from being unduly raised. We know that the operation of a ring at an auction, even in connection with food markets, is as often exercised in regard to the raising of prices as in regard to the lowering of prices.
I will give illustrations. Take the County of Lancashire, which has a large number of industrial towns very close together, some of them small urban districts, and there is a central cattle market where auctions of cattle take place. This illustration is apposite, because I am certain that the promoters of the Bill—while I concede that they have tried to make it fairly general in its application to trade—are moved by the prime motive of doing something for the agricultural interests. To the central market where the cattle auctions take place buyers go from different butcheries, and we have had experience——[HoN. MEMBERS: "Who are we?"]—I am speaking, if I may, for the organised consumers, the co-operative consumers. We have had experience of auctions of that kind where people who had ultimately no intention of purchasing the cattle offered for sale, knowing that the co-operative consumers required the cattle, agreed to bid the price up to as high a figure as possible in order to make it the most difficult proposition they could for those people to sell their goods at an economic level. I regard that as just as reprehensible as any agreement against which this Bill seeks to protect the offender. That actually raises the prices of meat to consumers. I should have thought that after the fanfare of trumpets at the last General Election as to the intention of he Conservative party to attack the cost of living and to lower the prices between consumer and producer, that they would have thought more than once before they would have introduced a Bill to protect the seller and to give no protection for the ultimate consumer.
Let me give another illustration. Take the ordinary cheap auction. Members of this House may have visited the great seaside resorts to which so many of our working-class people go for a very short time for rest and change, some only going at the Lancashire Wakes for a week, or 2211 even a day. Those working people find, amongst other pleasures at those places, that a brief visit to a cheap-jack auction gives a little diversion. I do not know much about those sort of places, because I have not visited them, but I have seen exactly the same type of business carried on in the Strand, in London. I have been in those places and I have seen the most ridiculous stuff put up for auction and people in the crowd bidding up against visitors to the auction who perhaps were not as wise as they ought to be. In that way prices are run up again and again by a ring, by the friends of the auctioneer, and finally the visitors to the auction are completely exploited, using that term in its widest sense. We have urged all the way through that that class of abuse of auction ought to be in the Bill.
It is unreasonable for the British House of Commons to start in a direction which is particularly American: in the direction of legislation of a specialised character against one specialised section of the community, or in the direction of the defence of one section of the community. So soon as you begin to pass legislation upon that basis so soon do you begin to induce that kind of wire-pulling and corrupt practice of the kind we have seen or heard about in other countries in regard to legislation which we ought not to try to imitate in this country. We do not say that the public life in this country is not capable of improvement, but we do say that the public life of this country is far away higher than that of many other countries of which we have knowledge, especially in regard to legislation. If you begin to legislate in a specialised way you go a long way towards destroying the present incentive to keep our public life as pure as it is at the present time. I believe that if that were thoroughly explained to the Members of the House, and a ballot taken, they would not consent to the passage of a Bill which proposes to deal with the regularising practice and conduct at auctions unless they were convinced that the Bill was going to protect the mass of the community and not merely a section of the community as this Bill does. It is for that reason that I move the Amendment. Even then I do not say that the Bill will satisfy me, although it will be very much improved.
2212 I would have preferred that we had had a Bill of a far more general character. It is inconceivable to me why the Home Office, which had to recognise the futility of the original draft of the Bill which was passed on Second Reading and come to the aid of its supporters by introducing practically a new Bill, will not agree, as I am informed by the Parliamentary agents for another Bill, to give any facilities or any help or any Parliamentary time for the Mock Auctions Bill, which has been placed before Parliament, thereby showing quite conclusively that they are working for a specialised section of the community and not for the benefit of the whole. They could get away from that position a little if they would accept the principle of this Amendment and provide that the protection which is given to the producers in this Bill will not be for one section of the community only, but will be in favour of the whole.
§ Major McLEAN
I regret that I must oppose this Amendment, and for this reason, that before the House can amend the law it must be satisfied, first of all, of the nature and extent of the defect of the law which it is to remedy, and, secondly, it must be satisfied that the offence is defined in the Bill in a way which will be workable. The particular defect that we are dealing with to-day is, I dare say, only one of many. It has been most carefully considered by the Select Committee in another place. We know as much about its nature and extent as is possible, and I think the time is ripe for legislation dealing with it. It may be that hon. Members opposite would like to see all auctions revised. We are not so ambitious. We are satisfied that there is a defect here which requires a remedy, and we accordingly ask the House to pass this Bill. The second strong objection I have to the Amendment is that it depends entirely on intention. Intention is most difficult to prove in any court of Iaw, and one Amendment we made in the Committee stage was to get rid of intention as proposed in the original Clause. In order to prove an offence, if this Amendment be carried, you would have to prove not only intention but the 2213 negative as well, and that in practice would be quite unworkable. On these grounds, therefore, I ask the House to reject the Amendment.
§ Mr. WOMERSLEY
While I agree to a large extent with the arguments put forward by the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. Alexander), I am not quite sure that the Amendment will achieve the object he has in view. He made a reference to the Mock Auctions Bill which I had the honour to introduce, and I should like to ask the Under-Secretary for the Home Office if it is not possible for the Government to give facilities for that Bill to be passed through Parliament. To my mind it is just as important, if not more important, than the Bill we are discussing this morning. This is a Bill to protect the seller; the Mock Auctions Bill is a Bill to protect the buyer. From the remarks of the hon. Member for Hillsborough, I take it that he is moving this Amendment in order to achieve something which is included in the Mock Auctions Bill, and I am wondering how he is going to achieve that object by the words of the Amendment. It says:If any person agrees on behalf of the vendor to bid up the price at a sale by auction generally or for any particular lot without any intention of purchasing.He is attempting to deal with a man who is called a trotter, that is a mart who trots up the price. There are two kinds of trotters. There is the auctioneer himself, and the man in the crowd who bids up on behalf of the vendor. The auctioneer can take imaginary bids, and does so on many occasions. I know something about auction sales and the little tricks of the trade, and I want to ask the hon. Member for Hillsborough how he is going to help in this matter by saying where the vendor or his representative has no intention of purchasing. Who is going to prove that? That is what I want to know. If this Amendment were applied to the case of mock auctions it would be effective, but dealing generally with bids at sales I do not understand how he is going to prove that the purchaser has no intention of purchasing.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
I would ask the hon. Member how is he going to prove, under the Bill, that there is an agreement to abstain from bidding?
§ Mr. WOMERSLEY
I am pointing out that there are many cases of men who have gone to an auction with the intention of trotting up the price who have been caught napping. They have had to pay a price for which they have been very sorry. If it were possible for an Amendment to be inserted in this Bill which would really do what the hon. Member and myself have in mind, that is the protection of the buyer, I should welcome it, but I really cannot see how this Amendment will help in any way. I hope the representative of the Home Office will give us some indication as to whether it is the intention of the Government to give any facilities for the Mock Auctions Bill.
§ 12 n.
Captain A. EVANS
I do not think the arguments of the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander) justify the Amendment. He has told us, with some degree of truth, of the way bidding is conducted at mock auction sales in the Strand and elsewhere, but there is another aspect of the case which is equally important. Take the vendor who is compelled by law, or by reason of financial considerations, to dispose of his household goods. He has to put the matter in the hands of the auctioneers; he has to realise the best possible price in the circumstances. Perhaps, owing to one reason or another, he is not allowed, or does not feel inclined, to put a reserve price on each individual article. Under this Amendment you are telling the vendor that he will have to sacrifice his goods without any reserve whatsoever to a ring who have combined against him. That is the whole point. You are saying to a widow who is unable, for one reason or another, illness perhaps, to attend the sale, "Under no circumstances can you take any adequate steps to protect yourself against a ring of dealers who are coming to your auction sale to obtain your goods at the lowest possible price." If she does so, she is liable to a fine of £100 under this Amendment.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
She is fully entitled to buy in, and in doing so she is a bona fide purchaser, or she can get a relative to buy in for her.
I beg the hon. and gallant Member's pardon. The Amend- 2215 ment says, "if any person agrees on behalf of the vendor to bid up the price at a sale by auction." It is impossible to prove in a court of law whether a person has or has not any intention of purchasing, and as the law stands, once a person bids for an article, if that article is knocked down to him he has to pay for it. If he refuses to pay, the law can be put in operation.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
This refers to the person who is a professional trotter and who attends sales for this purpose. That is prima facie evidence that he has no intention of purchasing.
The case I am putting is the case of a widow who does not employ a professional trotter but who says to a friend or relation, "I am not in a position to put a reserve price on the articles, but, obviously, I do not want to see them thrown away. It is obvious that certain dealers will attend to obtain the goods at the lowest possible price. I want to protect myself, but I do not want to make myself liable under this Bill." I hope the House will not accept the Amendment.
§ Captain HACKING
The object of the Amendment, as the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. Alexander) quite frankly stated, is to enlarge the scope of the Bill. The object of this Bill, as has been so frequently stated, is to cure one evil; that is to give protection to the vendor.
§ Captain HACKING
The bon. Member wishes to give protection to a great number of people. This Bill does not propose to cure all the evils. It is a private Member's Bill, and as such may not be perfect. I have no doubt the hon. Member will admit that if the Government had introduced it it would have been a perfect Bill and probably would have cured all the evils. This is not a Government Bill. It is true that after the Second Reading the promoters came to see my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and myself, and that with the assistance of advisers we made this Bill into what we believe to be a workable Bill; but the object of the promoters of the 2216 Bill was to do certain things, and it would not have been right for any Government to have altered the Bill and to make it do things which the promoters of the Bill never intended it should do. Our only object was to put the Bill into workable form. The hon. Member for Hillsborough used words something like these, though as he spoke so quickly I could not take them down exactly as he said them: "It was reprehensible to bid up by arrangement so that the cost of articles knocked down would be absurdly high. That was approximately what he said. I admit that that is bad. It was never intended to attack or cure that evil.
The hon. Member made a terrible admission in his speech. He stated that he had never been to Blackpool. Of course, that is a very great omission which he ought to remedy at the earliest possible moment. The hon. Member said that he had been as far as the Strand and had attended some of the auctions that are held there, and he had seen the visitor bid up and bid up until eventually that visitor bought an article at an absurdly high price. There is this difference between the person who goes to an auction of that kind and a vendor who takes this produce to be sold at an auction: The individual who goes and listens and eventually purchases at such an auction as that described by the hon. Member need not purchase and need not bid up. It is quite likely that he does not require the article, that it is not an essential article. Very often such a buyer bids for the sport of the thing. On the other hand, you get a vendor taking, say, cattle to an auction sale. He is compelled to sell the cattle, whatever the price obtained, because it does not pay him to bring them away from the sale. By this Measure, although we are not curing the evil which the hon. Member desires to cure, yet we are attacking another very great evil which I believe, from the discussion on the Second Reading of the Bill, it is desirable that we should cure.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
Surely the hon. and gallant Gentleman sees the other side of the case? You have a certain class of trade for which you must buy at auction. It may be that you are compelled to buy certain cattle at that sale on a, certain day and other people bid it up.
§ Captain HACKING
As I have said, this Bill may not be perfect. I see the point of the hon. Member. On the other hand, we must give protection and do give protection to a very worthy individual. I have been asked by the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley) whether we can give him the same assistance with regard to his Mock Auctions Bill as we have given to this Bill. There is this difference between his Bill and this Bill. This Bill was fortunate in the Ballot, and it has had a full discussion on Second Reading. The importance of this Bill is great. The Bill was worthy of a full discussion on Second Reading. The importance of the hon. Member's Bill is great and it is equally worthy of full discussion on Second Reading. That is the difference. There is very little time at the disposal of the House to get through Government business, and there is certainly not time for additional private Members' business; and it is because of the importance of the hon. Member's Bill and only because of that, that I think it will have very little chance of making further progress.
§ Mr. WOMERSLEY
I take it that the Government do not regard my Bill in an unfavourable light if an opportunity occurs to deal with it next Session?
§ Captain HACKING
I cannot pledge the Government that they will take it up, but I do state that it is an important Bill which should have a full discussion in this House, and that it should not go through without discussion. I believe the hon. Member's object is to get his Bill through after 11 o'clock some night by agreement. I do not think that that would be desirable. The Bill is important and should have a full discussion on the Floor of the House.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I do not think that the Under-Secretary has either appreciated the arguments of my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment or in any way answered them. My hon. Friend's feeling is that what is sauce for the goose ought to be sauce for the gander. We cannot understand, or perhaps we do understand but cannot appreciate, why the Under-Secretary of the Home Office, and indeed all the Tory party, should draw such a firm distinction between sellers and buyers. Apparently the sellers are to have every form 2218 of protection, but the community as a whole, the consumers, never get any consideration from hon. Members opposite. The hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley) has just been told in effect that next Session, if he is lucky to secure a full day for his Measure to protect the community, the Government will consider whether they will give it further facilities, and that the only reason why the Government have not done so up to the present is that the hon. Member has not been lucky in the Ballot. Believe me, if the hon. Member for Grimsby had been lucky in the Ballot and had had an opportunity of discussing his Measure on Second Reading, there would still have been this fundamental bar to his Measure getting Government assistance: it is looking after the consumer and the Government looks after the producers. Right through all their Safeguarding of Industries proposals and all the rest, in the Cinematograph Films Bill which is now in Committee upstairs, it is the same thing. The Tory party is the principal protector of the producers and the consumer can look after himself.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The consumers may or may not be less important than the producers, but, thank goodness, they are more numerous, as hon. Members will find at the next election. This Amendment, if hon. Members will read it, is strictly in accord with the principles of the Bill and strictly in accord with justice between the two interests which are dealt with in the matter. But it is said, "No, there is a profound difference between the purchaser trying to keep the price down and the seller trying to keep it up. The purchaser is always able to walk away without making his purchase.' Poor unfortunate seller! Directly he gets to the auction room he has to sell his things, whether he likes it or not, to the highest bidder. If that is so, sellers in this country must be an exceptionally cupid lot. But I do not believe it is sc. I am certain that in nine cases out of ten at least, and perhaps in more, people who send their goods to be sold by auction stipulate the price at which they shall be sold. I have seen in the newspapers over and over again notices of land withdrawn from sale because the upset price was not reached. If that 2219 happens in the form of goods, surely it happens in the case of cattle also? In the case of cattle there must be a much wider market than in the case of land. Every hon. Member knows quite well that goods cannot be sold at a low price, far below their cost of production, indefinitely. Otherwise the trade of the country would cease. There are cases where a man in need of money is forced to sell. That is the case that hon. Members opposite are envisaging, the exceptional case.
Captain A. EVANS
Would the right hon. and gallant Gentleman not allow that it is an exceptional case, for example, if people are being sold up in a district which is not altogether rich? It happens in the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's Division.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
People sometimes are sold up but, surely, the hon. and gallant Member would not suggest that sales by auction are always sales of bankrupt stock. Bankrupt stock sales are of course frequent, but compared with the mass of auction sales in this country they represent a mere fleabite. Exactly as they form a minority of sales by auction, so too in the minority of cases I admit the purchaser is in the same cleft stick. He must buy in order to deliver goods which he has contracted to deliver to purchasers all over the country. In the rubber market, for instance, one may have to buy rubber at a certain price even if the market price varies by 3d. or 4d. per lb., For instance, the Dunlop Co. contracted to buy rubber at 2s. a lb., and the price dropped to 9d.; but still they had to buy at 2s. In the tea market we find the same thing; and the buyer of goods wholesale is often in the position that he must buy at the auction whatever the price may be, because he is under contract to deliver the goods. I admit that in the normal case the purchaser could put his hands in his pockets, shrug his shoulders and walk out, but there are exceptional cases where he is in the same position as the bankrupt seller. It may be a case ofA horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!and even more for a bank balance. 2220 To my mind, these two cases are similar, and the House would be justified in dealing with both alike if only in order to ensure that it may not be said that a House of Commons, elected by popular vote, deals with Measures such as this on a narrow class basis. I do not mean "class" in the ordinary sense, but in the sense of protecting the class of sellers as against the class of purchasers. We do not want it to get into the public mind that one part of the trading community are looked after, while the other gets no justice, and I beg of the House to treat these two cases on parallel and just lines.
§ Lieut.-Colonel GADIE
This is an important Amendment, and in taking part in the discussion upon it, I may mention that I have put my name to the back of the Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Wormersley), to which reference has been made by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. I submit that this Amendment is not practicable from the auctioneers' point of view. Both the cases which have been mentioned in support of the Amendment are apparently cases where the competition has been raised not by the "trotter," but by the ring, and where the position has been that if the particular parties concerned will not join in with the ring the ring will make them pay. A man who goes legitimately to an auction is sometimes drawn in to bid, although he may not have had any intention of doing so; and, in fact, an auctioneer is not much good if he cannot extract a bid from a man who does not intend to bid. Certain Members of this House on the platform at election times do the same thing. It is not what they say, but the manner in which it is said. That is how they get hold of the electorate and come here, but their speeches are altogether different when they come into the House. Recently a man paid me a high compliment by saying," The last time I came to your auction you pushed on to me a £1,500 house which I had no intention of buying." I said I hoped he had come out of the bargain all right, and he said, "Oh, yes. You had to get me out "—and I had, because I had to sell the house a second time. That is the reason why I look so well.
2221 The hon. Member for Grimsby has said that there are tricks in the trade. There are and there are legitimate tricks on the part of the buyer. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut-Commander Kenworthy) mentioned the case of a lady, but surely he would not say that any person in the distressed circumstances mentioned should not go to that auction sale in order to protect herself. She is compelled to tell the auctioneer that for certain reasons a reserve cannot be put on, but that the goods cannot go under a certain price. But this Amendment would say that the auctioneer in such a case was doing wrong. The Amendment uses the word "person" and an auctioneer is a person. The hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander) may have thought that he has been landed some time at these sales, but he does not know all the tricks. He is not aware that the auctioneer knows all the bidders. A parcular friend of mine complained that I had "trotted" him at a sale, but he did not see what was happening on the part of the other bidder. What was happening was that the other bidder was working out on a paper how much 30 or 40 houses would cost with another £5 or £10 added to the price, and when he made a movement of his pencil that was just as good as shouting out the figure. I cannot persuade my friend that he was not "trotted," but so long as I sell the
§ property and am within the law, I am all right.
§ There is another man who attends sales, and who never bids openly at all, but so long as his pencil is in his mouth the auctioneer knows that he is still a bidder. There is still a little bit in this trade that the hon. Member for Hillsborough does not know. If this Amendment should be accepted, how would you get over these things? I have here the conditions of sale of a recent auction which state that the vendor reserves the right to bid in person, or by his agent, and to withdraw the property. He reserves to himself the right to bid or to instruct the auctioneer to bid up to a certain point. The bidder who goes into that room knows what is going to happen, and the seller is sometimes badly landed in such cases. He kills his customer. It is exactly the same as the man who goes into an auction without belonging to the ring. He stands a tremendous risk of losing his money. I can cite cases where men have gone into auctions in this way, and have found themselves landed with the property to their tremendous cost. I think the Amendment should not be accepted.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 49; Noes, 97.2223
|Division No. 206.]||AYES||[12.25 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Lansbury, George||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Batey, Joseph||Lawrence, Susan||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Briant, Frank||Lee, F.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Lunn, William||Viant, S. P.|
|Buchanan, G.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Charleton, H. C.||Potts, John S.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Compton, Joseph||Richardson. R. (Houghton-te-Spring)||Westwood, J.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Rose, Frank H.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Scrymgeour, E.||Westwood, J.|
|Dennison, R.||Scurr, John||Whiteley, W.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Sexton, James||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Sitch, Charles H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Smith, Rennie (Penlstone)||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Charles Edwards.|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Snell, Harry|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Brittain, Sir Harry||Couper, J. B.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Campbell, E. T.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.|
|Berry, Sir George||Carver, Major W. H.||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsay, Gainsbro)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Clayton, G. C.||Curzon, Captain Viscount|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Davies, Dr. Vernon|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Cope, Major William||Dean, Arthur Wellesley|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Lamb, J. Q.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfast)|
|Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Skelton, A. N.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Lumley, L. R.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||McLean, Major A.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Macquisten, F. A.||Spender-Clay. Colonel H.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Malone, Major P. B.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Gadie, Lieul.-Col. Anthony||Margesson, Captain D.||Streatfelld, Captain S. R.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Moles, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Tinne, J. A.|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Nicholson, Col. Rt.Hn.W.G.(Ptrsf"fd.)||Wells, S. R.|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Nuttall, Ellis||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||White. Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Penny, Frederick George||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Windsor-Clive Lieut.-colonel George|
|Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Power, Sir John Cecil||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Hilton, Cecil||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N)||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Wood. E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Mldl'n & P'bl's)||Sandon, Lord||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Savery, S. S.||Lord Fermoy and Sir Douglas|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Newton.|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
§ Major McLEAN
On a point of Order. This next Amendment—in page 1, line 15, to leave out the words "one hundred," and to insert instead thereof the word "twenty-five"—and the next three Amendments on the Paper—in page 1, line 15, after the word "or", to insert the words. "on subsequent conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds or"; in line 16, to leave out the words "with or without hard labour"; and in line 17, to leave out the words "or to both such fine and such imprisonment"—all deal with the question of penalty, and I think it would be for the convenience of the House if you could see your way, Mr. Speaker, to allow a general discussion on all four Amendments.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I would be willing to allow two Divisions, one on the question of time and the other on the question of hard labour, if that would meet the convenience of the House.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
That would meet my convenience. I should appreciate it very much if you would allow two Divisions, because there are two quite separate questions involved.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I beg to move, in page 1, line 15, to leave out the words "one hundred," and to insert instead thereof the word "twenty-five."
I would like to call attention to the enormous growth of these penalty Clauses in recent Acts of Parliament. If hon. Members will compare the penalties imposed in this Bill with those imposed in similar pre-War Bills, they will find that they have gone up, not by 70 per cent., as in the case of the cost of living, but by 300 or 400 per cent. in some cases, and I think we ought to realise that the penalties imposed on new crimes have increased, are increasing, and ought to be diminished. I believe the hon. and gallant Gentleman in charge of the Bill, if he had his way, would undoubtedly reduce the penalties that are being imposed in all this kind of Bills. I do not believe that he, any more than myself, likes passing Bills which create new crimes, and I believe there must be many hon. Members opposite who appreciate the fact that, if you make a new crime, you make something that has hitherto been not only legal but moral, illegal and immoral. You ought, simply because it is a new crime, to see that the penalty imposed is a low one.
I ask hon. Members to observe what are the penalties under this Bill. For making a mistake which may be made, and indeed must be made for some time to come, I surmise, in pure ignorance, 2225 the penalty is £100 or imprisonment, or £100 and imprisonment. It is the penalty which is put down in an Act which indicates to the magistrates concerned—it is all on summary conviction, and there is no question of indictment—what the intentions of Parliament are, and when they see these enormous penalties put down, involving, it will be observed, not only a fine, but also hard labour, even for a first offence, they naturally feel that this is a crime which has to be taken seriously. I submit that for some time to come a new crime should not be treated in that way. Indeed, most of the people who introduce these Bills, when they are trying to correct some minor evil of our civilisation, only ask that it should be made illegal, and they are rather surprised when they come across a penalty Clause and find that the only way to stop a man doing something which he has done up till now is to send him to prison.
I believe that the Members whose names are on the back of this Bill would be perfectly satisfied with a much lower fine than £100, and that if an actual case came before the Court, and there was imposed a fine of £100 plus six months' hard labour, they themselves would say that the penalty inflicted was a monstrous penalty never intended by them when they passed this Bill into law. I beg such hon. Members to conceive that the law can be enforced when penalties are light more easily than when they are heavy. When penalties of this character are the result of prosecuting, for an offence which may not be very serious, a man whom you know personally in business, I can tell hon. Members there will be much fewer prosecutions. A light penalty means that infractions of the law are brought to the notice of the police and to the notice of the Crown to be acted upn, but, if the penalties are heavy, the ordinary, decent citizen will not prosecute, will not give evidence for the prosecution against people with whom he has personal acquaintance. That argument, I believe, should appeal to all those who want this law to be put into operation. They know as well as I do that they will not stop this abuse by merely passing this law, and that if the law be a dead letter, the abuse will continue, possibly in some varied form. The way to stop abuse is to get prosecutions under the new law. 2226 You cannot get those prosecutions if penalties are very heavy, and, therefore, in the interest of the working of this Measure, and in the interest of justice, the promoters would be well advised to accept £25 instead of £100 as the fine for this crime.
Major Mc LEAN
I confess that this Amendment and the next three Amendments have given a good deal of trouble to the promoters of the Bill. We are exceedingly anxious that nothing unfair should be done, but, with regard to this particular Amendment, I think that, having regard to the profits which have been shown to be made, according to the evidence given before the Select Committee, a limitation of £25 alone in a bad case would be wholly insufficient.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
But it is £25 plus imprisonment—"or to both such fine and such imprisonment." Hon. Members have not read the Bill.
§ Major McLEAN
The hon. and gallant Member is emphasising the point I am about to make, which is that if you keep the fine very low, or comparatively low, you practically drive the Court to impose imprisonment.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I should be content to keep the fine at £100 if the hon. and gallant Gentleman would cut out the question of fine plus imprisonment.
Major Mc LEAN
I am afraid we cannot accept that, but, with regard to the third Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) to leave out the wordswith or without hard labour,I think there we can meet the hon. Gentleman. I think that is a reasonable Amendment which I will ask the House to accept, but, with regard to this Amendment, I feel very strongly that to fetter the discretion of the Court, and to limit the fine to £25, or, if they think that insufficient, to force them to put the man into prison, that, in the interest of the accused, is not an Amendment it would be wise to accept. Looking at it from another point of view, under an Amendment which was introduced in the Standing Committee to paragraph (3) of Clause 1, no prosecution under this Bill can be instituted without the consent of 2227 the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General, and I do not think it is likely that the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General is likely to give permission unless it is really a substantial case. On both grounds, therefore, I hope this Amendment will not be accepted by the House.
§ Mr. SCURR
I beg to thank the hon. and gallant Gentleman for the intimation that he proposes, on behalf of the promoters, to accept the Amendment standing in my name. I regret, however, he has not also seen his way to accept the Amendment of my right hon. and gallant Friend. I, with him am very much opposed to the tendency which has been shown, especially in this House, to keep bringing in new crimes, and with those new crimes to make exceedingly heavy penalties. I think, first of all, by doing that you are creating a tendency to bring the law into contempt all the way through. When, every day, as the result of action in this House, there is a new crime created, and magistrates find that they have to impose heavy penalties, the whole tendency is for people to say, "This legislation is of too drastic a character, and, therefore, we are not going to take any action under it." The consequence is that your law becomes a dead letter, and you do not accomplish the object for which you brought it in. On the other hand, if the law be proceeded with, I have again to say on this Bill, as I said upstairs on another Bill, although there is, of course, the protection that the Attorney-General has to give his consent, that these cases are going all the time before courts of summary jurisdiction.
With all due respect to the ladies and gentlemen who preside at courts of summary jurisdiction, they are not people, in any sense of the word, learned in the law. Under this Bill, there will be a number of very grave points which, in the interest of the liberty of the subject, will have to be considered by these courts. If they come before a stipendary magistrate, I have no objection, but coming before ordinary persons who sit on a bench of Justices of the Peace, I say, with all respect to them, they are not learned in the law, and they are really not competent to deal with these difficult questions which constantly arise 2228 under Acts which create new crimes. Therefore, I feel that it would be much better if the hon. and gallant Member on behalf of the promoters had accepted this Amendment. Then, it is quite possible that the Bill, if passed into law, would be an effective Measure.
§ Mr. LAMB
Several references have been made on the other side to the question of the creation of crime, but there is such a thing as the encouragement of crime. Surely, if you only allow such penalties to be inflicted as still to make it profitable to those people who are now making great and unfair profit, to continue this crime, then, I think, you are encouraging crime, which is quite as bad as the creation of crime.
Captain A. EVANS
For some reason or other the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), who moved this Amendment, seems to imagine that in every case brought before the courts the maximum penalty will be inflicted. Surely the Justices of the Peace are at liberty to impose a fine of £5 or £10 if they think fit. Surely he does not suggest that in the first case that comes up after this Bill is passed the maximum penalty of fine and imprisonment will be imposed.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I hope I did not convey that impression. The real danger is that when there is a heavy penalty provided in an Act of Parliament the magistrates take it as a measurement of the gravity of the offence. The higher the maximum penalty the higher, inevitably, is the sentence, because it is taken as the standard of the criminality of the act.
I think it is true to say that the merits of the case are considered first and the penalties to be imposed subsequently. The hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) indicated that he had not much faith in Justices of the Peace and their knowledge of the law, saying they might not be even learned in the law. Surely it is fair to assume that they are capable of reading the correct meaning into a Clause of this kind. It is not difficult to understand a sentence such as this, "On conviction a fine not exceeding £100 may he imposed." Surely the hon. Member would 2229 not suggest that the Justices of the Peace of his own party are not capable of interpreting a sentence of that kind.
I do not know that those words are in, but what I was quoting was this, "A fine not exceeding £100." I do not think any injury is done to anyone by inserting a penalty which should act as a deterrent. The House should have more faith in the discretion of benches of magistrates.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman take that view so readily if the fine were £1,000 and six years' imprisonment?
If those were the penalties, I should think they were too high, but personally I have sufficient faith in the bench to the extent of £100.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I think the penalties wader this Bill ought to be heavy, because we are dealing with a very grave abuse, an extraordinary abuse. Thousands of pounds a year are lost by this practice. I know of a case of executors who sent a book to auction and it was sold for two guineas. They learned subsequently that it had been bought by a dealer who gave sixty guineas for it. A ring had been fixed up to buy the book at auction at a nominal price and then the dealers met in the adjoining licensed premises and bid amongst themselves, with the result that the revenue was defrauded and the sellers were defrauded. I know of another case of a man who went into the dairying trade and succeeded very well. He had a large family and thought he would like to emigrate. He spoke to one of the cow dealers about the sale of his herd of 40 or 50 cows. The dealer said "Send them all to auction at once. It will make a big splash and you will get better prices." Then the dealer went off and made arrangements with other dealers, 2230 and they formed a ring and bought in all those beasts at one third of their value. It was a wholesale fraud, and I do not think a penalty of £1,000 would have been too much in that case. The fine ought to be made so substantial that this practice is no longer profitable. That is why we have failed to stop illegal trawling. Off the West coast of Scotland a trawler will come in poaching and catch, perhaps, two thousand pounds worth of fish, in that way robbing the line fishermen. If the trawler is caught the fine is only £100, and of course the boat comes back again and again. If foreign trawlers are caught doing the same thing off the coast of Denmark there is a fine of £1,000, and the poaching is stopped for a long time.
Practices such as this Measure is designed to check bring substantial pecuniary profit and there is a tendency to look upon them as a custom of the trade. One member of a trade said to a man "If you are charged with breach of contract or fraud we can plead custom of the trade, and we get off." Amongst the dealing fraternity it has become almost a custom of the trade to fix up these fraudulent rings, which deprive the seller and the revenue of their just dues, and I think the penalties are very moderate indeed. My only regret is that the Bill is not sufficiently wide to bring in all practices of this kind. This rings system is exactly the same as what is called "white bonneting" in Scotland, that is, where people bid up fictitious prices. That has always been a crime there. This is merely the other side of the same story and it is one of the grossest frauds in the markets, and my own feeling is that the Bill is not nearly strong enough. I certainly oppose this Amendment, because I think the Promoters of the Bill have been very moderate in the penalties they propose.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
As I listened to the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten) I wondered whether he voted in the last Division. He said this practice is the opposite of what he called "white bonneting" which, he said, has always been a crime. A few moments ago we moved an Amendment to try to deal with that crime and the promoters of the Bill refused it.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
We are not able to find any protection against that practice. With reference to this particular Amendment, there might be some argument for heavy penalties if we were dealing with a crime which could be ascertained with certainty, and not with a practice in which persons may engage innocently in the course of perfectly legitimate business transactions. People engaged in legitimate business may find themselves at the mercy of a common informer. It is true that the common informer's information will have to be submitted to the Attorney-General, but so far as I can see it he will have to do no more than say whether there is a prima facie case for prosecution. If there is, a prosecution will go forward and a business man may find himself in danger of heavy penalties for doing what was to him quite a legitimate thing in the course of his business.
I will give a case in point. There are men who are engaged in buying cattle for butchering businesses and attend fairs regularly. A man may not find it convenient to attend a market on a particular morning, but it may be absolutely necessary for his firm—it may be a cooperative society, or whatever it is—to buy cattle that day. Instead of making an agreement, he telephones to another man and says "You buy me so many beasts to-day and I will square up with you afterwards." Under a simple process like that, a legitimate business man may be liable to be brought under this penalty Clause though he is transacting a straightforward business.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
That is the penalty in the Bill as it stands. We have been discussing this at great length, and it is perfectly plain to me that the people who spoke for the Bill in Committee thought that it gave protection to the legitimate business man. The hon. and gallant Member for Cardiff (Captain A. Evans) seemed to imagine that you can 2232 put implicit trust in a Bench of Magistrates. [HON. MEMBERS: "Up to £100!"] Well, the hon. and gallant Member cannot have followed very closely how these penalties are imposed. I will give a case in point showing the practice of Courts of Summary Jurisdiction. It is a case where a penalty is laid clown in by-laws with regard to the opening of licensed cinemas on Good Friday. There are 19 cinemas, and 18 of them are open on Good Friday by permission. The nineteenth is also open but has not obtained permission. The proprietor is fined £10 for opening it on Good Friday, but, so vindictive is the Bench of Magistrates that afterwards, when he comes to apply to have his licence continued, the Bench refuses the application. [An HON. MEMBER: "What was he liable to be fined?"] It is not so much what he was liable to be fined; I am trying to give an illustration of the way in which these matters are treated by Courts of Summary Jurisdiction. That is the treatment we may expect in Courts of Summary Jurisdiction in regard to the matter we are discussing, and I say at once that there are very large numbers of magistrates who with the assistance of their learned advisers, the magistrates' clerks, do administer fair justice, but there are innumerable cases where fair justice is not administered. During the coal dispute we had to complain in a great many cases about the action of the Courts of Summary Jurisdiction. I say it is a very great mistake for this House to create crimes, many of which are likely to be merely technical offences and to leave the penalties in the hands of the Courts of Summary Jurisdiction, because legitimate business men are liable to these penalties.
Captain A. EVANS
Have they not the privilege of appealing to the Quarter Sessions if they think they are unjustly penalised?
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
I believe that is the usual practice, but legitimate business men should not have to go through all this process to prove that their business is straightforward. There have been more crimes created in the last few years than I can remember in any other period, and innocent citizens are liable to be punished for these so-called offences. That is how 2233 the liberty of the subject is being unduly infringed. It would be much wiser to have a small penalty at first and to see how the Bill works, and then pressure could be brought upon the Government, if necessary, to have a consolidated Bill introduced dealing with the whole business of auctions.
§ 1.0 p.m.
§ Captain HACKING
The right hon. arid gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), who moved this Amendment, does not, I am sure, expect the Government to accept it. We would like to place in the hands of the Justices the opportunity of giving adequate punishment to offenders without having to send an individual to prison, and, if you have £100 as the maximum penalty, it will make it possible for the magistrates to avoid the alternative of imprisonment. If £25 is to be the maximum and the offence is a rather serious one and not a case which would ordinarily be met by the imposition of a fine of £25, then the magistrate in order to inflict a just punishment would be compelled to send the person who committed that offence to prison. If the maximum, however, is £100, it might not be necessary to send that same individual to prison. We must also leave latitude to the Justices to deal with constant offenders. If you get a constant offender, surely it is wrong that he should never be subjected to a fine of more than £25. On the other hand, the Government are quite prepared to meet the Opposition with regard to the omission of the wordswith or without hard labour.We agree to their deletion. That is a concession to the Opposition, which I hope they will appreciate. I regret the Government cannot accept the Amendment at present under discussion.
§ Mr. HARDIE
The first words of the Clause areIf any dealer agrees to bidand so forth. Now in Committee I pointed out that the information available would be such that it would be practically impossible to find out when an agreement was established. It is no use bringing forward a Bill and putting in certain words with a great moral hope that it is going to reform someone. All those connected with this business 2234 with whom I have had conversation laugh at this Bill. They say: "You can put any words you like into the Bill as to the crime and the penalty, but how are we to get information as to whether an agreement was made or not"? It seems to me to be a waste of time to proceed with something which is going to be unworkable.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain FitzRoy)
We are now merely discussing the question of the maximum penalty, and not the question raised by the hon. Member. The question is whether the maximum penalty should be £100 or £25.
§ Mr. HARDIE
I was going to discuss how you are to ascertain whether an agreement has been made, because this must be the basis of the charge. It seems to me below the average intelligence of any House that we should proceed to discuss anything where the basis of the penalty is not proved. You cannot get from those word in the Clause any basis for the penalty. How are you going to apply this penalty? To whom is it to be applied? You have first got to establish that there has been an agreement.
§ Captain HACKING
On a point of Order. I think we have discussed all this before, and it has been definitely settled.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I have already pointed out to the hon. Member for Springburn (Mr. Hardie) that we are only discussing the maximum penalty, and not the merits of the Bill.
§ Mr. HARDIE
The point is that you are dealing with something in this Bill in regard to which there is nothing behind it to make it work. It is not a question whether the penalty should be £100 or £1, or whether it should be hard labour or soft labour. I understood that the object of this Bill was to try to attain a high moral sense in connection with auctions, but you do not attain a higher sense of honesty by imposing penalties.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I have already informed the hon. Member that he cannot discuss the merits of the Bill on this Amendment.
§ Mr. HARDIE
When you come to a question of hard labour or any other form of penalty provided in this Bill, you are not going to diminish the evils complained of by penalties of this kind. It would have been far better if the House had endeavoured to provide some reasonable basis upon which auctions could be worked. The idea that you are going to prevent these things happening by imposing a penalty of £100 is false, because you are simply going to bring in underground methods of getting round this Measure, and for these reasons I look upon this Bill as a farce.
§ Mr. GROTRIAN
I think this is a case in which you ought to have a high monetary penalty, because a person who commits this offence is doing it in order to get a very high profit. I would like to point out that the fine need not be £100 and it may be as low as ls., but when it comes to a question of inflicting imprisonment with hard labour then I part company
§ with the promoters of this Bill, and I think they ought to accept an Amendment providing for the imposition of imprisonment only after the second offence.
§ Sir ALEXANDER SPROT
This Amendment seeks to reduce the maximum penalty from £100 to £25. The Bill refers to auctions of all sorts, and not merely to cattle auctions or auctions of a similar kind. It refers also to auctions of pictures, bric-a-brac, and that sort of thing. I attended an auction not far from this spot where I saw a picture sold for £10,000, and that is the sort of thing that goes on at picture auctions. In a case like that I submit that a £25 penalty would be absolutely no deterrent at all, and, therefore, it is necessary to preserve the higher penalty.
§ Question put, "That the words 'one hundred' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 103; Noes, 59.2237
|Division No. 207.]||AYES.||[1.12 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut-Colonel||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Grotrlan, H. Brent||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Berry, Sir George||Haslam, Henry C.||Sandon, Lord|
|Blundell, F. N.||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)||Savery, S. S.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Hilton, Cecil||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hurst, Gerald B.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Stanley, Lord (Fyide)|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Cope, Major William||Knox, Sir Alfred||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Couper, J. B.||Lamb, J. Q.||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Luce, Maj. Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Lumley, L. R.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Macquisten, F. A.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Malone, Major P. B.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Margesson, Captain D.||Wells, S. R.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple-|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Moles, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Windsor-Clive, Lieut-Colonel George|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Murchlson, Sir Kenneth||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Colonel Anthony||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Pennefather, Sir John||Lord Fermoy and Major Alan|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Penny, Frederick George||McLean.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Dennison, R.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Charleton, H. C.||Dunnico, H.|
|Ammon Charles George||Compton, Joseph||Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)|
|Baker, Walter||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.|
|Batey, Joseph||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Gosling, Harry|
|Broad, F. A.||Day, Colonel Harry||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Groves, T.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Potts, John S.||Viant, S. P.|
|Hardie, George D.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Walihead, Richard C.|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Scrymgeour, E.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Scurr, John||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Sexton, James||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Kelly, W. T.||Shiels, Dr. Drnmmond||Wettwood, J.|
|Lawrence, Susan||Sitch, Charles H.||Willlam, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Lee, F.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Windsor, Walter|
|Lindley, F. W.||Snell, Harry|
|Lunn, William||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|March, S.||Strauss, E. A.||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Charles|
|Naylor, T. E.||Sutton, J. E.||Edwards.|
§ Amendment made: In page 1, line 16 leave out the words"-with or without hard labour."—[Mr. Scurr.]
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
I beg to move, in page 1, line 17 to leave out the words "or to both such fine and such imprisonment."
I do not wish to debate this Amendment, because we have had a general discussion on the subject. I move the
§ Amendment because I think that such a penalty is not justified.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill"
§ The House divided: Ayes, 105; Noes. 57.2239
|Division No. 208.]||AYES.||[1.20 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Fremantie, Lieut-Colonel Frencis E.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Penny, Frederick George|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Berry, Sir George||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., stretford)|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Grotrian, H. Brent||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Blundell, F. N.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Haslam, Henry C.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Henderson, Capt. R.R.(Oxf'd,Henley)||Savery, S. S.|
|Brittain, sir Harry||Heneage. Lleut.-Col. Arthur P.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Hilton, Cecil||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Univ., Belfst.)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney,N.)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hurst, Gerald B.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Cockarill, Brig.-General Sir George||Hutchlson, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Stanley, Lord (Fyide)|
|Cope, Major William||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Couper, J. B.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Knox, Sir Alfred||Tasker, R. Inlgo.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Lamb, J. Q.||Thomson. F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Lumley, L. R.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||McLean, Major A.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Macquisten, F. A.||Wells, S. R.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Malone, Major P. B.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Margesson, Captain D.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Moles, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Lord Fermoy and Sir Douglas|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Nuttall, Ellis||Newton.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Compton, Joseph||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Gosling, Harry|
|Ammon, Charles George||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Baker, Walter||Day, Colonel Harry||Groves, T.|
|Batev, Joseph||Dennison, R.||Hall, G. H.(Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Broad, F. A.||Dunnico, H.||Hardie, George D|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedweilty)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Rose, Frank H.||Wellhead, Richard C.|
|Kelly, W. T.||Scrymgeour, E.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Scurr, John||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Lawrence, Susan||Sexton, James||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Lee, F.||Sitch, Charles H.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Lowth, T.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Westwood, J.|
|Lunn, William||Snell, Harry||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|March, S.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Windsor, Walter|
|Naylor, T. E.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Sutton, J. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Potts, John S.||Thurtle, Ernest||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Tinker, John Joseph||Whiteley.|
I beg to move, in page 1, line 21, to leave out the words "the day of."
In discussing this matter upstairs, although the hon. Member for Hills borough (Mr. A. V. Alexander) had another Amendment on the paper he willingly withdrew it in favour of the one I proposed, and I am hoping that the promoters will see their way to accept this Amendment. Naturally, certain people or sections of people attending sales sometimes cannot afford to buy the whole of a commodity, and therefore it ought to be competent for the parties to make a bargain so long as it is a legitimate bargain. For instance, in the case of the sale of an estate of some hundreds of acres one individual who cannot buy it all but might want a portion of it may know someone else who wants another portion. That is a legitimate business, and he ought not to be prejudiced by the Bill. My Amendment gives an opportunity to buyers who want to join together for a bigger thing than they can lift themselves.
Major Mc LEAN
When this Amendment was under discussion in Committee, I felt a great deal of doubt about it. Eventually it was rejected. Since then the promoters have very carefully considered the matter, and we think the reasons given by the hon. Member for Central Bradford (Lieut.-Colonel Gadie) are sound, and we are prepared to ask the House to accept it.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
It is very refreshing to find even a small concession of this sort being made by the promoters, though I remember how very rigidly they refused to make any such concession in Committee on this very point. We had prolonged Debate upon the larger Amendment which I am sorry has not 2240 been selected by the Chair. I agreed, if they would concede this, that I would accept the position taken up by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Bradford (Lieut.-Colonel Gadie), who moves the Amendment now. But, while I welcome the fact that we are going to leave out these objectionable words, I want to make it clear that the Clause, as it will then stand, is just as obnoxious to us in regard to people who are bonâ fide endeavouring to make arrangements to purchase, say, cattle, by arrangement over the telephone. It will not meet that position even then, and while I am not going to divide against the Amendment, and I welcome the fact that it is going to be accepted, I want to make it plain that we are not satisfied.
§ Captain HACKING
The hon. Member agrees with the Amendment, but appears to be angry because the promoters have changed their minds. I say an individual who never changes his mind, after making further inquiries and getting further information, is either a knave or a fool, and the hon. and gallant Member who is looking after the interests of this Bill does not come under either category. As far as the Home Office are concerned, we are quite prepared to accept the deletion of these words.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
On a point of Order. Are you not going to call on the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) to leave out the words "in writing"? We are very concerned about those who make telephone communications regarding bonâ fide sales. It would be rather a pity if we were not allowed to express our view and take a decision.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
I understood the hon. and gallant Member for Central Bradford (Lieut.-Colonel Gadie) to urge that these arrangements could be made by telephone, and it struck me that this Amendment would have to be accepted as consequential on the acceptance of the previous Amendment, which is absolutely futile unless this be accepted.
Major Mc LEAN
I beg to move, in page 1, line 24, after the word "account" to insert the wordsand has before the goods were purchased at the auction deposited a copy of the agreement with the auctioneer.For reasons already given, we felt we ought to accept the last Amendment and enable persons to enter into agreements actually on the day of the auction but prior to it, but we feel at the same time that it is going to be very difficult for those who enter into such agreements to prove that they actually entered into them before the auction took place. We are dealing with the defence that the Bill provides for an accused person, and we want to make it as easy as possible for him to prove that he has that defence. If he deposits with the auctioneer a copy of the agreement before the auction it will make it very much easier for him to prove that he entered into the agreement before the auction took place. The Amendment is really consequential on the Amendment we have just accepted, and I think it will help those who, quite honestly, enter into an agreement on the actual day of the auction, but actually before it.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
I should like to ask before this Amendment gets any further, whether these agreements are to be legal and binding and require a, stamp?
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
This Amendment is quite obnoxious to the very persons for whom I have been speaking. The people who are really interested in putting this Bill through are those who represent the agricultural interests. In drawing up the Bill they have tried to cover other interests as well, but they know perfectly well that in the majority of cases of agricultural produce such an arrangement could hardly be made. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] There are things that have to be done at once in relation to cattle and produce markets and can only be done on the telephone. By no conceivable means can you enter into a formal agreement in writing as to how you should proceed in those things at short notice. The thing is simply ridiculous. I fully apprehended in Committee upstairs the arguments of the hon. and gallant Member who knows something about auctions about the need for making arrangements with regard to the sale of property, pictures, and things of that kind. I can quite conceive that you can make adequate arrangement s by agreement deposited with the auctioneer. But even in cases of this kind, the hon. and gallant Member, with all his experience of auctioneering, found it impossible to accept the original proposal that these agreements should be made on the day of the auction. Even in the case of property and picture sales he was forced, and the promoters of the Bill were forced, to accept an Amendment which made it possible for the agreement to be made and deposited on the day of sale. When you come to deal with markets for the sale of perishable produce, cattle and things of that kind, it is simply ridiculous to suggest that every time you make an agreement of this kind you have to deposit a copy of the agreement in writing before the auction.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
It is not a question of the market being on the telephone; it is a question of the people concerned in the buying of produce being on the telephone and making a telephonic communication.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
There are heaps of ways of making an arrangement on the telephone. A large number of markets are within easy reach of the auctioneer's office. Take the case where we have the bona fide managers of the butchers departments of the Co-operative Societies going to a particular cattle market to buy meat for their customers. One of them is unable to attend. He telephones to the nearest Co-operative butchery manager he can get hold of, and makes an agreement. He may even make an agreement and share certain responsibilities of the sale, the conditions of which he may not know until he gets there. That cannot be regarded as anything else but an offence and a crime under this Bill, unless, according to certain hon. Members, he deposits an agreement in writing with the auctioneer on the morning of the sale. It is perfectly ridiculous. Everybody knows that these things have to be done at once, in a great hurry, especially when dealing with markets of perishable produce. It is a draft coming out of Bedlam to suggest that, because you cannot confirm that agreement in writing on the day of the auction, people are criminals and liable to the heavy penalty which has been agreed to this morning, and to imprisonment, if thought fit by the Court of Summary Jurisdiction. It seems to me to be perfectly ridiculous. I submit, further, that this shows conclusively the very serious handicap we are under in not being able to discuss the other part of the question—the Amendment to leave out the words "in writing"—which, surely, ought to have been accepted, by the promoters of the Bill, as consequential to the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member which has been already accepted. It is perfectly impossible in the case of these markets to get an acceptance of agreement in writing on the day of auction. We must oppose this Amendment to the last.
Captain A. EVANS
I hope sincerely, as a supporter of the Bill, that the hon. Gentleman responsible for the Bill will pay attention to the remarks of the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. 2244 Alexander), who has dealt with the question of cattle markets. As has been previously pointed out on other Amendments, this Bill covers all kinds of matters. Take the case of the legitimate dealer who earns a living honourably by his profession. He sees a work of art at an auction sale. Before he is in a position to bid for the article, he may have to consult clients with a view to finding a possible purchaser and take advice as to the value of the article. Surely, it is hindering business if you are going to say to that man, after he has had an opportunity of consulting his clients or colleagues, "You are prohibited under this Measure from ringing up the auctioneer on the morning of sale and instructing him according to your own wishes." I do think that the promoters will be most ill-advised, looking at this matter from the point of view of the cattle market, and the arguments which may be put forward for or against that proposal, if they do not consider this matter.
§ Mr. HARDIE
In the City of Glasgow we have had considerable experience in our cattle market, and the whole meaning of this Amendment, to me, is further to entrench certain dealers, so that they can get at the Co-operative movement in cities like Glasgow. Hon. Members can shake their heads as much as they like, but I am talking from experience of what has taken place in the markets at Glasgow. I am talking of something that caused a great stir in the City of Glasgow, because it was within the power of a handful of men to coerce about a quarter of a million people. On that point, let me say that it would not have mattered what Bill had been in existence there would have been no way of establishing that anything wrong had been done. Now, by way of this Amendment, you seek to put a further "kybosh," as the Americans say, upon that movement in regard to its practice of buying fresh goods. We can see exactly what is meant. The whole thing is to try and curb the development of the working-class movement. This will mean the giving of greater power to those who are doing the things the Bill is supposed to militate against. I hope the House will use common sense and not support a Bill that militates against one class.
§ Lieut.-Colonel GADIE
I hope the proposer of this Amendment will withdraw it, or that the House will defeat it. I am going to say, quite frankly, as I said about one of the former Amendments, that it is not practicable from the auctioneer's point of view to have to hand to the auctioneer, in order to put yourself right with the law, between each sale a written agreement. It is not practicable, either from the auctioneer's point of view or from the buyers' point of view. I am placed in this position many times. I may have 30 lots in one day. I may start with a small lot, or a very big lot. I may start with 13 or 14 houses, and the man who has bid, the lucky man, gets that number, but he cannot possibly afford to buy other big lots. The auctioneer has not time to stop his sale to take these written agreements between each lot. The auctioneer would simply push the man on one side—and the auctioneer is not liable under this Bill if he refuses to take an agreement—and say "I have no time to bother with you." This would put the buyer in a very invidious position. You must not do that. I would draw attention to a further fact, which I tried to emphasise on the Second Reading of the Bill, and that is, the position of the auctioneer, who must be trusted by both people, the buyer and the seller. In any amount of eases the auctioneer holds the deposit. He is the stake holder acting for the man who has bought and the man who has sold. I have spoken of the happy relations usually existing between the auctioneer and his audience. People go there to buy something at a reasonable price, and as low as possible in Yorkshire. That remark applies to other parts of the country [An hon. MEMBER: "And Scotland"] and Scotland also. The banter that passes there is always good-humoured and better, very often than any that passes in this House. I told the story of the man getting at the auctioneer, but there are lots of cases the other way.
If the auctioneer is to be made the watch-dog of this Bill he will be placed in a very awkward position. I do not see how I could carry on without making the sales extend over a much longer period than I do now. That would rob me of my opportunity of coming here, and even my opponents would not care for that. I do not trouble them too much, except on 2246 matters that I really understand, and I think hon. Members must take it from me in this case that on a property deal, unless it happened to be one big estate, this thing would not work. I take out my licence and pay for certain protection, but there is one thing better than that protection, and it is the happy relations between the buyer and the seller. The auctioneer is paid by the vendor to get the very best price for him, and he does so, whatever his politics may be or whether he be a friend or not. Friendship is put on one side. You are out to do the job for which you are paid, and when you sell the goods you have a duty to the buyer. This Bill will put him in the position that if he has not handed to him this particular agreement he may be part and parcel of a prosecution. I tell the promoters of the Bill that they will kill sales by auction if they put in a provision of this sort, and I urge the Mover of the Amendment to withdraw it. If he will not do so, I ask hon. Members on this side to defeat the Amendment.
§ Captain HACKING
The hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. Alexander) has said that it would be impossible to deposit an agreement in writing with the auctioneer; but the hon. Member for Bradford Central (Lieut.-Colonel Gadie) has stated that the hon. Member for Hillsborough knows nothing about the auctioneer's business, so one cannot attach too much importance to his views.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
I may not know anything about auctioneering, but as the largest distributors of food supplies in this country we do know something about buying.
§ Captain HACKING
I did not wish to offend the hon. Member. If he had allowed me to continue I was going to pay him a compliment. I feel rather inclined now to refrain from paying him the compliment. I was going to say that as the hon. Member for Central Bradford now agrees with the observations made by the hon. Member, he does know something about auctioneering. There is nothing very elaborate in connection with this particular agreement. It is to be an agreement in writing, but it does not mean a very elaborate agreement such as is drawn up and stamped and passes through a solicitor's hands, or anything 2247 of that sort. It is a simple matter to write out a short agreement of this kind. There might be very serious evasion of the principles of this Bill if the agreement did not have to be in writing, and if it was not produced and deposited with the auctioneer previous to the purchase. I tell the House quite frankly that in my opinion those evasions may be very serious. I think the House will agree with me that unless the agreement is to be handed to the auctioneer previous to the purchase taking place, dishonest persons might be able to produce in Court forged documents which might have been made out a day or two before the Court met to hear the case. They might, produce those forged documents in Court with a view to showing that they were bona fide purchasers on joint account, whereas when the sale took place there was no signed agreement of any kind.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
Does not that dilemma drive you back to the stamped document, in order to make it legal and to fix the date?
§ Captain HACKING
No, I can assure the hon. Member that I am in no dilemma. A stamped document is unnecessary. It will be all right if the agreement is signed and dated. There is no necessity to have a stamped official document such as would have to be placed in the hands of the legal profession. We do not wish in this connection to make additional work for the legal profession The object is to make sure that there is no evasion.
§ Captain HACKING
I think what I have said is correct, but if by any chance it is found that what I have said is incorrect it can be put right in another place. I am certain in my own mind that what I have stated is in accordance with the principles of the Bill, and I am the more certain as a result of the speeches made this afternoon that evasion would be easy if the agreements were allowed to be made verbally or over the telephone, because there would be no check. I am advised to accept the additional words which have been proposed, as a protection against evasion.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
The hon. Member has told us that a document may be forged and may be ante-dated. I asked him whether that did not support the view that the document must be stamped. The stamping of the document puts a date upon it, and it is not a question for a lawyer but for the stamp office and a few coppers. The auctioneer would then be removed from danger, because it would be the State's guarantee that the document was dated specifically at the time shown on it. I am not an auctioneer nor am I engaged in buying or selling. I am no buyer or seller of large blocks of property, and I say frankly that I am not very much concerned with the additional £5, £10, £15 or £25 which anyone can make over the sale of objects of art or other articles the price of which may run into thousands of pounds. Persons who can afford to buy such articles may be, and are, legitimate prey in many cases. What concerns me is that obstacles may be placed in the way of purchase by small persons of food and other commodities. That seems to me to be a very serious blot on the Bill. If this Amendment means that obstacles can be put in the way which will make the prices of foodstuffs dearer, or any kind of produce dearer, and enable rings and cartels to be formed for the purpose of maintaining prices against the small buyer of commodities and foodstuffs in the open market, it ought not to be accepted. I hope the Government will see their way to accept the point, of view expressed by the hon. Member for Central Bradford (Lieut.-Colonel Gadie), who speaks with knowledge because he is in the business and with a knowledge which I cannot hope to rival or approach. It is commonsense that the purchaser of things other than land or houses or works of art and articles of value should be protected.
§ Mr. A. R. KENNEDY
I desire to support the request made to the promoters of the Bill to withdraw this Amendment. It is proposed with the idea of protecting certain bona fide agreements to purchase on joint account, but I think the promoters will be well advised to leave the matter in that position. They are seeking to doubly secure that an agreement which is made shall be a bone fide agreement. As the matter now stands a person has to show that there was a bona fide agreement made before the 2249 purchase at the auction. It will be well to leave it at that, because it would be an undue embarrassment on business to insist that a copy of the agreement shall be delivered to the auctioneer before the sale. There is nothing now to prevent such an agreement being made actually in the auction room. If the Amendment be accepted, it will have to be drawn up and a copy given to the auctioneer before the sale. According to the Amendment the original agreement, apparently, is to be deposited with the auctioneer. I do not think that is right. I think the parties who make an agreement should be entitled to keep the original document, and I should not advise anybody to deposit the original. But even if it is only a copy that has to be given to the auctioneer it does not affect my point, because, although the object of the Amendment may be excellent, the effect of the provision will be to unduly hamper business.
I am not disposed to agree with the statement made by the Under-Secretary of State that no agreement of this kind will require a stamp. As between the parties making it if either of them desire to enforce it against the other a stamp will be necessary, and in those circumstances there is no reason why this provision should be inserted. It might be necessary for parties attending an auction and who meet for the first time at the sale and make an agreement while the auction is in progress, to go out and get a sixpenny stamp. That sounds trivial, but why impose the embarrassment? You must trust to the provisions of the law as laid down in this Bill—namely, that the party has to show that he has made a bona fide agreement, that is, an agreement before the auction; and if you leave it at that you will not unduly hamper business.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
Do I understand that the promoters of the Bill are making no reply to this Debate.
Major Mc LEAN
We are not making it more difficult. The people who enter into these agreements, bona fide, at the last moment are going to be in a position of great difficulty in proving that they have entered into these agreements before the auction. This Amendment is conceived with the intention of enabling them to prove that they actually executed the agreement before the auction took place. Think for a moment of the position of a person who is brought before the Court. The onus of proving that the agreement was executed before the auction took place will be on him. He has to prove that he entered into the agreement before the auction took place. If he puts a copy of the agreement into the hands of the auctioneer before the sale takes place his way is clear, but if he does not produce the agreement until some time afterwards he will find it very difficult to discharge the onus of proving that he entered into the agreement before the auction took place. I think we should make a great mistake if we did not press this Amendment and give these persons a way of showing that they executed the agreement before the auction. For these reasons I feel that we ought to press the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 94; Noes, 70.2251
|Division No. 209,]||AYES.||[2.3 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Carver, Major W. H.||Falle, sir Bertram G.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Clayton, G. C.||Fanshawe, Captain G. D.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Foster, sir Harry S.|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Fremantie, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Berry, Sir George||Crookshank, Col. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Blrchall, Major J. Dearman||Dalkeith, Earl of||Goff, Sir Park|
|Blundell, F. N.||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Dawson, Sir Philip||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Grotrian, H. Brent|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Eden, Captain Anthony||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd,Henley)||Morden, Col, W. Grant||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Sprot, sir Alexander|
|Hilton, Cecil||Nuttall, Ellis||Stanley, Lord (Fyide)|
|Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney,N.)||Pennefather, Sir John||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Hurst, Gerald B.||Penny, Frederick George||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Mldl'n & P'bl's)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Russell, Alexander West (Tnemouth)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Wells, S. R.|
|Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Lumley, L. R.||Savery, S. S.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|McLean, Major A.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl.(Renfrew,W.)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Skelton, A. N.||Lord Fermoy and Sir Douglas|
|Moles, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Newton.|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Sltch, Charles H.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Jacob, A. E.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Snell, Harry|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Baker, Walter||Kelly, W. T.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Batey, Joseph||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Thomas Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lawrence, Susan||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Couper, J. B.||Lee, F.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lindley, F. W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Lowth, T.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Lunn, William||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Dennison, R.||March, S.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Dunnico, H.||Naylor, T. E.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Joslah|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Oliver, George Harold||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Westwood, J.|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Pethick Lawrence, F. W.||Whiteley, W.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Potts, John S.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Gosling, Harry||Power, Sir John Cecil||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Groves, T.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford)||Windsor, Walter|
|Hardie, George D.||Rose, Frank H.||Womersley. W. J.|
|Harney, E. A.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Scurr, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Lieut-Col. Gadie and Mr. B. Smith.|
§ The following Amendment stood on the Paper in, the name of Mr. LAMB.
In page 1, line 26, at the end, to insert the words,
if at the request of the auctioneer or his agent such agreement be produced to the auctioneer or his agent at the time of any purchase made at the auction.
§ Mr. SCURR
I beg to move, in page 2, line 5, at the end, to insert the words, "in the condition in which he buys them."
If hon. Members will look at the second proviso of this Clause, they will see that it reads:For the purposes of this Section the expression "dealer" means a person who in the annual course of his business attends 2252 sales by auction for the purpose of purchasing goods with a view to reselling them.In my judgment that does not go far enough in defining a dealer. A dealer is obviously a person who buys goods and sells them again as soon as he can without making any change at all in them, in order to make a profit on the transaction. This proviso as worded would mean any person who bought goods which were really of the nature of raw materials; he would be regarded as a dealer when he was not a dealer, but was buying raw material for the purpose of its being manufactured into some finished article. I know that the promoters of the Bill are constantly thinking in terms of agriculture, but I submit that the Bill is supposed to apply to other than agricultural areas. The promoters should take into consideration the fact that in the manufacturing and industrial areas of the country there are large numbers of trades in which 2253 materials are constantly being changed into some other form. That material does not always come into the hands of dealers. The Amendment makes it clear and confines the dealer to what he really ought to be in this Bill, namely, a person who buys goods to sell them again in the condition in which he buys them.
§ Mr. HARDIE
I beg to second the Amendment.
Take the question of the auction of machinery or any auctions relating to the engineering trade. I wish that the framers of the Bill would realise that the subject is far wider than many of them seem to think. What surprised me on on the first day the Bill was discussed was the lack of a consensus of opinion relating to a number of things that come within the term "auction." Take, for example, a sale where there is a secondhand steam boiler for sale, or suppose that there is a lathe and a grinder attached to it and they are put up as "Lot B" or "Lot No. 1." There is nothing in the Bill relating to what can be done with that class of machinery. I wish that the promoters of the Bill would realise that there are many things with which they have not put themselves into touch.
Major Mc LEAN
I regret that I cannot ask the House to accept the Amendment. if it were inserted in the Clause it would make the Clause nonsense. There are many dealers who make a very trifling alteration in what they buy, and they sell it so altered. Take the case of a man buying an old chair, an antique. If he put a brass nail into the chair he would not be selling it in the condition in which he bought it. In practically every article that the dealer buys he makes some such trifling alteration, and that alteration would place him outside the scope of the Bill. The Amendment would really wreck the Bill.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
I am fully persuaded that the promoters of the Bill have not yet apprehended how far they are interfering with legitimate business by the Bill. You have under this Bill a process which is apparently only to be put into operation against dealers, but when you come to the definition of "dealer," you bring within the net numerous persons who go to auctions for bona fide business reasons. They will 2254 be placed in danger of being regarded as criminals if they make any small arrangement with their confreres. Let me return to the experience of a particular trade. This Bill is mainly for the purpose of protecting the producer of agricultural produce. It does not say so, but the attitude of its promoters is perfectly plain. A man who is managing a butcher's shop, or a small butcher, attends a cattle market once or twice a week to buy for his own business. He buys animals, has them slaughtered and re-sells them as meat. Is he a dealer? What are the Courts going to say about it? We have people who buy butter, week by week, not for the purpose of immediate sale but in order to maintain the supply to a factory in which blending is carried on and when such a man attends the butter market, is he a dealer or only a business man buying the raw materials of his business? You bring within the scope of this Bill in the first instance a petty intrigue by a common informer. That is the only way it can act and then you make up a case to put before the Attorney-General to see if he considers it a prima facie case for prosecution. Then a man is dragged before the Courts, even though all he has been doing is to carry out a bona fide business, to get his living and to supply the public with the goods which they want.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
I speak about the trade with which I am familiar, but the same principle applies to other trades. There is not a butcher employed by a branch of the Co-operative Society to manage its meat department—and we have at least 650 of them—who is not in danger, under this Bill, of being regarded as a criminal for doing what has always be regarded as a perfectly legitimate thing—keeping down the price to the consumers. That is the Bill. If it is to be confined to dealers with the object which the promoters say they have in view, of preventing malpractices by the man who attends sales regularly as a dealer, who does nothing else and who goes to the public house with a few confreres to make certain arrangements, then we might be with the promoters, but they are going to bring within a general definition of this kind every genine busi- 2255 ness man. I cannot imagine that Members with any sense of responsibility, representing business interests, can support such a proposal. If it is desired to deal with the evils of rings in the auction room and such matters, why not bring in a general Measure and legislate definitely against the people who are carrying on these malpractices instead of putting the ordinary business man, such as the manager of a meat department, into constant danger of being, not merely fined, but sent to prison for doing his work for the community? Yet all through we are met with a simple "No!" to all our requests, except in very small instances. The result will be that the general business community will be seriously handicapped, the cost of living will very likely rise and there will be an increase in attempts at evasion and at bringing the law into disrepute. The Home Office has been consulted about the other parts of the Bill and there is no reason why they should not be consulted as to the possibility of rendering these business people immune. If this form of words does not meet the situation we should have same form of words excluding those who are doing bona fide business. We must press this Amendment to a Division because as the Bill progresses the more menacing it becomes to the general interest.
Captain A. EVANS
The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has endeavoured to persuade the House that if we leave this Clause as it stands it will interfere unnecessarily with business. Does he suggest that if we add the proposed words it will facilitate business in any way? Let us take the case of the cattle trade in which the hon. Member is chiefly interested. A man buys cattle for the purpose of fattening them and reselling them at a later period. It might be held under
§ this Amendment that the cattle are not in the same condition after they have been fattened. In the case of the furniture trade, large dealers such as Harrods or Maples send their representatives to auctions. They buy furniture, do it up, and, in some cases, resell it as new furniture or at least as reconditioned furniture. The members of the jewellery trade attend auctions held by Messrs. Knight Frank and Rutley and other firms and buy old-fashioned jewellery. Not in one case in a hundred do they resell it in the condition in which they bought it. They reset the stones and sell it as modern jewellery. Surely the hon. Member cannot contend that the addition of these words will facilitate business.
§ Mr. LAMB
The hon. Member has complained that in response to the case he has made he only gets "No" in reply. The hon. Member stated the same case in Committee, and I gave him the reply which has been given by the last speaker with regard to cattle and butter. To-day he has varied his case and has cited the instance of the butcher who buys an animal, has it slaughtered and sells the meat. The hon. Member argues that this man under the Bill would be regarded as a criminal. Nothing of the sort. He would buy the animal for the purposes of trade, and he would alter the constitution of the article altogether. He would sell meat and not cattle. An animal is not meat until it is slaughtered. I do not want to annoy the hon. Member because I know he has a genuine desire that the business should be carried on in a legitimate manner, but I believe he is raising cases which do not properly arise and I hope he will not persist.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 67; Noes, 110.2257
|Division No. 210.]||AYES.||[2.26 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Dennison, R.||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Dunnico, H.||Kelly, W. T.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Baker, Walter||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Lawrence, Susan|
|Barnes, A.||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Lee, F.|
|Batey, Joseph||Gosling, Harry||Lindley, F. W.|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Lowth, T.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Groves, T.||Lunn, William|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||March, S.|
|Couper, J. B.||Hardie, George D.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Oliver, George Harold|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Jacob, A. E.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Jenkins, W, (Glamorgan, Neath)||Potts, John S.|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Rose, Frank H||Thurtle, Ernest||Westwood, J.|
|Scrymgeour, E.||Tinker, John Joseph||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Scurr, John||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Sitch, Charles, H.||Viant, S. P.||Windsor, Walter|
|Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Snell, Harry||Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.|
|Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)||Whiteley.|
|Sutton, J. E.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Remer, J. R.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Grotrian, H. Brent||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Berry, Sir George||Harvey. G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Haslam, Henry C.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Blundell, F. N.||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)||Savery, S. S.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Hilton, Cecil||Sinclair, Col.T.(Queen's Univ.,Belfast)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine,C.)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney,N.)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hurst, Gerald B.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n&P'bl's)||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Cope. Major William||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Crookshank,Cpt. H.(Lindsey,Galnsbro)||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Knox, Sir Alfred||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Lamb, J. Q.||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Lumley, L. R.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||McLean, Major A.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Wells, S. R.|
|Falle Sir Bertram G.||Margesson, Captain D.||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple-|
|Falls. Sir Charles F.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Moles, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Forrest, W.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Morden, Colonel W. Grant||Winterton. Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Foxcroft, captain C. T.||Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Nicholson. D. (Westminster)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Fremantle, Lt.-Col. Francis E.||Nuttail, Ellis|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Pennefather, Sir John||Lord Fermoy and Sir Douglas|
|Goff, Sir Park||Penny, Frederick George||Newton.|
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ Mr. SCURR
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day three months."
I suppose that the hon. Members opposite who are the parents of this Bill feel very happy at having reached this stage of the proceedings, like all proud parents, but, although they may be very proud parents, I do not think the child really owes very much to their paternity, because we remember that, first of all, the Title of the Bill was altered in Committee in order to widen its scope, and then the first Clause was entirely redrafted. Therefore, although it was at the beginning a foundling, I suppose that 2258 now we must regard it as being a legitimate offspring. I must say that I do not consider that the Bill carries out the objects which the promoters have in view. The crime at which the Bill is aimed is against knock-out rings in auctions—the idea that a certain number of people gather together and agree among themselves that they will not bid against one another for a certain article that is submitted for auction, and that after the auction has taken place, with only one bidder buying at his own price, they then meet together in some neighbouring hostelry or something of that kind and there divide the surplus between them. That is what an auction ring is, and that is the thing at which this Bill is supposed to be aimed, but when we look through the Clauses of the Bill we do not see that it is dealt with in any real sense at all.
2259 I agree with my hon. Friends who have been putting forward Amendment after Amendment in Committee and this afternoon, which have not been accepted by the promoters, that, though it is a Bill in which the interests of the vendor are being protected all the way through, the purchaser is not being protected in any sense of the word, and I feel that the Bill is still purely a Measure for the protection of certain agricultural interests. The protection of those interests may be perfectly legitimate. I am not a representative of an agricultural constituency, and I do not pretend to know anything about agriculture. Hon. Members may know something of the difficulty with regard to cattle dealing, and therefore desire some Measure in regard to that. But, unfortunately, the Bill has got to cover other things besides agricultural produce, and I feel that not one of the crimes against which this Bill is aimed will be dealt with under this Bill.
I think it would have been much better, as has been suggested in more than one quarter of the House, if when this Bill was introduced, the promoters of this Bill and other Bills had consulted together I am sure they would have received assistance from Members on this side of the House, because there are Members on this side, although opposing this Bill, who are as keenly against auction rings as they are, and desire to deal with the evil, and might have helped the Government to bring in a Measure. We have it on the assurance of the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department that any Bill which this Government bring in is bound to be perfect, and if we had had this perfect Bill promoted by the Government we should not have had to take nearly the whole of a Friday afternoon to discuss it. It would have gone through, and there would have been a Measure which would have achieved the objects of the parents of this Bill, and the objects which we have on this side. But they have not done that.
This is a Bill which interferes in many ways with quite legitimate trade. The paragraph which defines "dealer," by reason of the fact that the Amendment moved from this side has not been accepted, brings in persons who are engaged in quite legitimate business. I 2260 still make the protest I made on other occasions. I do not like this constant process of making new crimes. Week after week we are engaged in the process of making new crimes. I know that in a civilisation like ours there are, obviously, more crimes under such a complex organisation than in a simple community. Once upon a time, the only crime was the crime of murder, but to-day we have thousands of crimes. It is something like disease. When the doctors started, there was about one disease. To-day there are about 5,000 known to the medical profession. The Tory party is exactly in the same position. They want to keep on manufacturing crime after crime and penalty after penalty, and for that, among other reasons, I beg to move the rejection of the Bill.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I beg to second the Amendment.
With the object of the Bill, as my hon. Friend has said, we on this side have a good deal of sympathy. But this Bill only touches the fringe of a very large problem. It is partly the result of the pressure of the farmers of 180 agricultural constituencies who were so misguided at the last election as to return Conservative Members. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I do not mean the by-elections. My hon. and gallant Friend opposite need not think I was referring to him. The same issues were not applicable. These farmers, as I have reason to know, and as hon. Members opposite know, are getting very discontented, and for many good reasons. They are being absolutely squeezed into bankruptcy all over the country, the reason being, of course, that they do not get a price for their products on which they can live and pay the proper wages to their employés. Therefore, they look to their representatives, who search for a remedy which will not in any way interfere with the economic system of the country, and they seize upon the auctions, because at the country markets farmers get, in many cases, very little for their products, and they say this is the result of the rigging of auctions. They think, that if only they can get the Government to pass this Bill, all will be well. There, again, they will see the sequel, I hope, in a great many of these 180 constituencies at the next election.
2261 The grievance of the farmer is certainly very real. I was talking to two farmers, one a landowner, a man of considerable means, the other a working farmer, who has to make his farm pay. The first one has a flock of very famous sheep, and he makes a speciality of obtaining lambs for the Easter market. Last year he sent his fat lambs to Newbury Market, a very famous market in the home counties, where they made 80s. This year his fat lambs went to the same market, and made only 35s., and yet the price of lamb in the butchers' shops has remained the same as last year. Naturally the farmer complains, and who can blame him? This is a well-to-do landowner who can keep on his flock. But take the case of my other friend, who is a working farmer. At Whitsuntide he sent his sheep to the same market. They had cost him 70s. to prepare for the market, and they made 50s., so that he lost 20s. on every sheep. It is obvious that that cannot go on. Yet this is the one and only remedy, and, as my hon. Friend says, a false remedy, which is brought forward by the party opposite. Economists such as the hon. Member for Ilford (Sir F. Wise) are quite alive to the real cause of the trouble in the agricultural industry. It is one which affects the American farmer and the German farmer.
I was talking a little while ago to an East Prussian landowner who farms his own estate, as is the custom out there, and he is being squeezed and burdened in the same way. Where he made large sums before the War, now he cannot get enough for certain of his products to pay the cost of producing them. Then, in the Eastern States of America, there are hundreds of farms which have been abandoned, some for years now, and are covered with scrub, and will never be brought into cultivation again. The only farming which is paying in America to-day is the dry farming in the Western States. Farmers working on the English system of alternate crops are being burdened. The remedy must be a very drastic, radical one, and I put it to hon. Members opposite that they will never be able to apply it from that side of the House. We can. We are not bound by the same trammels to the vested interests of the merchants. The trouble, again, has been shown in the Linlithgow Report, and no action has been taken. The hon. 2262 Member may question that, but no action has been taken to meet the farmers' case.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I am very glad to hear it questioned, but when we last heard about about it we were told that the matter was still under consideration. I should not be in order now in dealing with the real remedies. The case can only be met by a national remedy as was the case during the War when we had the opposite trouble of too high prices, namely, the national control of the prices of agricultural produce. That would meet competition from abroad, it would meet the trouble at home, it would prevent profiteering, and make Bills like this unnecessary and we could spend our Friday afternoons more profitably.
§ Sir DOUGLAS NEWTON
I think it is generally admitted in all parts of the House that a grievance and a difficulty exist, and we who in a modest way have attempted to meet the difficulty desire to thank hon. Members on every side of the House for the help we have received in Committee upstairs and on the Floor of the House. It is always difficult for backbenchers to promote a Bill which will deal adequately with difficulties they seek to remedy, and we are specially grateful, therefore, for the assistance we have received. We have endeavoured to see that the final and ultimate price which is realised by the seller of an article shall reach the vendor, and not be absorbed by certain intermediaries, and we believe the Bill in its present form will go a long way towards securing that end. It is true that a more comprehensive Bill would probably have been more useful, but it is also true that no Bill drawn on wider lines would have been likely to reach the Staute Book as a private Members' Bill.
It is said this Bill creates new crimes. Unfortunately, it is not possible to remedy abuses without legislation which creates new crimes, but we have endeavoured to keep these offences within narrow limits. If we had accepted the Amendments which were put forward by certain hon. Members on the other side we should have enlarged the scope of the Bill and brought many more people within its provisions, and perhaps that 2263 was one of the reasons why we resisted some of the Amendments. We have been able, however, to meet some criticisms which were made when the Bill was introduced, for example, in regard to the common informer. Under the Bill in its present form it will not be possible for anyone to start frivolous proceedings. The hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) said that before doctors took degrees and became a recognised part of the community there were only one or two diseases, whereas now there are a multitude of diseases. I can only say that if our Bill proves to be as successful in doing good to the community as the doctors have been we shall be well satisfied, and pleased that this Bill has been put on the Statute Book.
§ Lieut.-Colonel GADIE
I propose to vote against the Third Reading of the Bill for two special reasons, and I hope that this time I shall have more success with my hon. Friends on this side of the House. In the discussion this morning I think I made it quite clear that there is a lot of difference between a person and a dealer. If this Bill is passed in its present form a dealer will be defined in this way:'Dealer' means a person who in the normal course of his business attends sales by auction.If any person who does not normally attend auctions commits the same offence he will not be amenable to the law. The law ought to be made to apply fairly to everybody, and to my mind this distinction kills the Bill. I have acknowledged that there is a small body of people in the country who are doing serious harm to agriculture and to other trades and professions, and everybody would be delighted if we could get at them, but that is not to say that a man who is not professionally one of these men, and simply does it casually, ought to escape punishment.
Then there is the question of depositing agreements with auctioneers. We have inserted an Amendment this morning which reads as follows:and has before the goods were purchased at the auction deposited a copy of the agreement with the auctioneer.There is no penalty in the Bill to compel an auctioneer to accept such an agreement. He may say, "I have not time 2264 to bother about that, and refuse to accept it." I feel that is an impracticable provision and a wrong way to set about the task of killing the ring. If it were only a question of killing the ring, the Amendment I first asked the House to accept ought to have been inserted, and, above all things, this last one ought to have been left out. The law ought to be made so that it can be understood by the ordinary man in the street; it ought to be short and concise, so that a man may know when he will commit a crime, and most of the people who attend sales would endeavour to keep within the law. But we are now setting traps for people, and we shall have the innocent caught, and I am never going to vote for legislation to catch the unwary. The man who wilfully breaks the law ought to be penalised, but not the other man. Further, we ought not to make professional men parties to quarrels and to actions under this Act.
§ Mr. HARDIE
When this Bill was first presented I felt it was realised that something was wrong in relation to auctions, but I cannot find anything in the Bill which will deal with the evils which its promoters seek to remedy. The absence of definitions is, perhaps, the most serious feature of the Bill. We have not had a definition of a dealer from the promoters of the Bill, but there is a provision that whereas a dealer will be made amenable to the law a man who is not a dealer may do the same thing and get off scot free. Do not hon. Members opposite understand that "decoy ducks" will be employed—men who can never be associated with regular attendance at auctions will be employed—in order that they may not be subject to the provisions of this law? I can remember on the day this Bill first came before the House the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. A. M. Williams) gave an instance of having sent cattle to the market where the prices offered to him were such that he could not afford to sell. If he did sell he would make a great loss, and he had to bring them back, at great trouble and expense. The cost of taking cattle to the market and bringing them back must be paid by someone. Is it not an insane idea, when we realise that prices can be lowered like that below the market value, that we should have a Bill introduced to deal with evils of this kind which is so feeble 2265 in its draftsmanship? The ruling price of the retail market never takes into account whether people are compelled to sell at a loss because of financial necessity. The hon. Member was not in the position that he was compelled to sell his cattle at the lower price in order to get the next day's food supply, but there are people who would have been obliged to sell at a lower price for that reason.
There is nothing in this Bill to remedy these and other evils. There is no way out of this difficulty unless by the establishment of a central co-operative market. That is the only way out, and I think it cannot be said too often. I speak from experience of what took place in Glasgow Cattle Market and that is not the smallest market in the world by any means. I can speak, as a member of the co-operative movement, with great experience of what was done towards our buyers in that market, and even in this Bill there is nothing in my opinion to prevent a recurrence of the same conditions. The whole of this Bill appears to me a direct attack upon the power of the co-operative movement in buying in the market. I thought English gentlemen, especially right hon. and hon. Members of this House, would have the sense of sportsmanship to distinguish between those who are going to sell in the market and those who are going to buy. No one who has promoted this Bill has ever told this House just exactly what is going to take place if it is passed. It does not deal with the question of how to establish the fact that there has been an agreement between two men.
In every auction, whether of pictures, of milk, or anything you like, there are what are called runners. These runners are not affected by this Bill. They never take part in the auction proper. The dealers are quite capable of keeping their end up and can drive, not only a horse and cart, but an omnibus through the provisions of the Bill. If you go to a cattle market, for instance, you will find there cattle from various parts of the country, from Ireland and elsewhere, which are waiting for the best chance that the market can give. But the man who owns the cattle is not the only man concerned. The man who owns the cattle may have come from a great distance. Is he to be brought into the 2266 scope of this Bill for trying to get the best price for his cattle? There is nothing in the Bill dealing with that evil. It does not touch it, and I think it is wasting the time of the House to discuss it.
I want to see all the evils practised in connection with auctions abolished, and I am more earnest about it than some Members on the other side of the House give me credit for. Take another example—a picture sale. I know from experience what is the practice in Edinburgh in connection with the sale of antiques and pictures, and I can remember some instances where certain articles were put up for auction, and it was stated on the bill advertising the auction that nothing but direct offers would be entertained and that no other offer would be looked at. What happened? The articles were never sold simply because the decoy ducks were in their places as they are at every public auction. If you had less intent to do injury to the co-operative movement you might have been more successful in having something done to remove these evils. Take auctions in the public streets. We all know what is taking place there. The Bill does nothing about that. People who conduct them can easily evade this Bill. The men who run auctions of this kind and who deceive the public will be able to make rings round this Bill, and I hope the Bill will be withdrawn and not go as another record of the incapacity of the Government to deal with all these things.
§ Mr. A. R. KENNEDY
I am going to vote against the Third Reading of this Bill, and I would like to say why I am going to take that course. A number of my hon. Friends on this side of the House, who are interested in agriculture, think that this Bill will assist the agricultural industry. I think, however, that they will be ready to recognise that the subject with which they have undertaken to deal in this Bill bristles with difficulties. I am sure they will be ready to admit that the Bill which was originally introduced was entirely different from the Measure which we are now considering, and its character has been entirely changed in its passage through the Committee stage. I feel bound to vote against the Bill for certain reasons which 2267 I will state to the House. In the first place I do not believe that this House ought to encourage making the transactions and agreements which take place at auctions, which are the subject matter of this Bill, a criminal offence.
I do not think that from whatever motive an agreement is made in reference to an auction it should be made a criminal act. I think it is a mistake to single out a particular class of individual for the penalties under this Bill. A criticism has been made in regard to the position of the use of the expression "dealer" and the implications that follow from the definitions given in the Act. In the next place I am impressed with this consideration which, after all, is not immaterial. I think the Bill will be quite ineffective for its purpose. Putting aside all technical difficulties I am faced with this general proposition. I may say, in passing, that I do not think it would be very difficult or would require much ingenuity to devise ways in which this Bill could be evaded, but, of course, that is not my business.
The people who are said to be affected and whose practices are sought to be put down are people whose livelihood depends on going to auctions and buying in order to resell and make a profit upon the transactions. Nothing in this Bill will prevent those people from making agreements to limit their purchases so as to affect the price they will be called upon to pay, and there is nothing in this Bill which will compel them to refrain from bidding against each other. The result will be that the Bill will be quite ineffective for its purpose. One of two things will happen. Either the dealers who are affected will find a way out of the difficulty or they will abstain from attending sales, which will be to the manifest disadvantage of the sellers. I think those are considerations of practical commonsense. Secondly, I think that the sensible provision which seeks to protect persons who make a bona fide agreement to purchase on joint account is really, in effect, opening the door that the earlier provision sought to shut. Thirdly, I think that the provision that no proceedings shall be taken without the consent of the Attorney-General renders the likelihood of any prosecution relatively remote.
2268 This Bill represents an heroic effort to deal with an admitted evil. I think it will fail. I think that a better and more effective method of dealing with the problem would have been to give to the seller that which he does not possess at the moment, namely, a civil remedy against the purchaser where he can prove that there has been a ring of the nature we have been discussing. It may be said, how difficult it would be to get evidence to support any right of action of that kind; but, if that be so—and I recognise it—then, obviously, the difficulty of obtaining evidence would be infinitely greater when the result of the action may be a criminal charge. Another remedy, indicated by practical experience, is to be found in the patronage and development of large markets. This evil, to a great extent, exists in small markets. In large markets it is less easy for dealers to get together and indulge in practices which we all reprobate, and the existence of large markets, with proper transport facilities, should tend to decrease the evil. Lastly, the sellers have it in their power to provide a remedy. They have the power to put a reserve price on whatever they may have to offer, and, if they do that, no ring of dealers can seriously affect them. For these reasons I shall vote against the Bill, believing that it is an unwise Measure, and that the remedy for the disease should be found on more practical lines such as I have indicated.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
I cannot allow this Bill to go through without saying one or two words concerning it. It has been pointed out in various quarters of the House that the Bill, as it was originally presented, was a very different Bill from the one which we are now sending to another place. That Bill, as has been indicated already, was obnoxious. It is probably, in some respects, a little less obnoxious now, but it still sets up machinery under which proceedings may, on the evidence of a common informer, be instituted against perfectly bona fide citizens of this country who are engaged in a practice which is part of their ordinary means of livelihood, and it is left to the Attorney-General to decide whether or not there is a prima facie case for prosecution. That in itself is bad enough, but I think that the Bill, since it left the Committee, has been 2269 made very much more objectionable than it was then. I have been unable to understand at all why the Government should have taken up the Bill in its amended form, and should have actually given support to Amendments which have been made on Report, so that it has become more restrictive and more injurious to trading interests than it was before. I will deal specifically with two points mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Bradford (Lieut.-Colonel Gadie). The House is well aware that there is no one in this Assembly who is better acquainted with the business of auctioneering from the auctioneer's side than the hon. and gallant Member, and, in the course of the Debates in Committee, as well as in this Chamber, he has given us some very remarkable examples from his experience as an auctioneer, which have not only been very helpful to Members of the House, but have been very entertaining as well.
The hon. and gallant Member raised two points, both of which, to my mind, are fundamental. The first was that the promoters of the Bill refused to accept an Amendment which would apply the law, as it will be when this Bill is placed on the Statute Book, to any citizen of the community. He stressed the point that a law is going to be made which will be penal in its operation against one small section of the business community, the section who are referred to as dealers. That is a very unsatisfactory position for this House as a Legislative Assembly to take up. A person who is guilty of a criminal offence ought to be brought within the scope of the Bill and to be liable to prosecution.
I feel very sore about the inclusion of the Amendment requiring a copy of the agreement to be deposited with the auctioneer. It was objectionable enough before, but to make the business of those who engage in trade every day in connection with goods which have to be purchased at auction so much more difficult is completely unjustifiable. There is a whole range of food commodities which are sold under the hammer and arrangements in respect of which cannot possibly be made very often until within almost a few minutes, an hour, two hours, half an hour, before the sale, and are often made upon the spot in the auction room. Agreements have to be 2270 made by telephone. I could have given many more examples than those I gave on Report. I spoke about cattle markets, but I have been reminded since that the same thing applies in connection with fruit. It was argued by those who promote the Bill that my case was not a good one, but what about the case of fruit? A person who has to buy fruit at auction in large quantities will come under the provisions of the Clause which defines a dealer, and be subject to prosecution unless he can claim as a defence that he has deposited in writing, if necessary on the morning of the sale, a copy of the agreement. That is quite impossible.
The Bill, therefore, is going to do an extraordinary amount to handicap, first, the business of those who are engaged in distribution, and, secondly, the consumers in regard to the enhanced prices they will have to pay owing to the breakdown, very often, of business arrangements of that kind. Arrangements are often made at very short notice by telephone to prevent one trader or one cooperative society bidding against another, and why should they not enter into such agreements if they are going to do something for the benefit of the community and their own business? If they do that in a special market for Perishable products they become criminals under the Bill. The Under-Secretary was very ill-informed about the actual practice of the trade. It is no real answer to the various points we have raised to pay us a compliment on the one hand, and then to tell us we do not know very much about auctioneering. There is no real reply to the charge that the Bill will, first of all, very greatly increase the difficulties of the business community, and, secondly, increase the price to the consumer.
My last point on this Third Reading Debate is this, that it is perfectly unfair for a Bill of this kind to be brought into this House of Commons, which claims to be one of the fairest legislating bodies in the world, to protect only the interests of the vendors. The largest range of abuses in the auction ring are those which are experienced by the community at large, the purchasers. There is not a single word or provision in this Bill which we are now about to pass which will do anything to protect the person who is 2271 exploited by the auction rings through having the price rigged against him, worked up and up, until he is forced to pay an unreasonable price. I mentioned earlier in the Debate how this sort of thing comes about in the actual auction room, and we can quote other cases. Take the case of my own movement. which is causing some consternation in the minds of some hon. Members, because of the rate of its business progress and the absorption of other businesses. We have had this experience again and again when requiring premises for development. Directly it has become known that our particular organisation wants premises that are going to be sold at auction the people concerned, not with the premises but with the idea of restricting the growth of a business competitor, have agreed, not to abstain from bidding, but to attend the auction room and to bid, and bid, and bid, until the last possible moment, in order to raise the price and handicap, as much as possible, the business operations of their competitor. There is not a word in this Bill to deal with abuses of that kind; yet, I am persuaded, there is not a Member in this House but who knows perfectly well that property put up for sale in business quarters is dealt with in such a way as to lead to abuse and to a price having to be paid for it which is quite uneconomical.
This Bill does not really grapple with the problem. I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) when he says that the real dynamics of the Bill are the agricultural interests. If the Government and the promoters of the Bill want to do something for agriculture in regard to securing better prices for the producer, they should tackle the whole question of marketing in this country. It really is unreasonable to suggest to us that something is going to be done to help the private producer in this country by a stupid Measure of this sort, which is going to do no more than irritate and be obnoxious to all the business men in the country. If they really want to help the private producer, why do not they organise the private producer on the lines adopted in the Dominions, in the United States of 2272 America, and in Denmark? We have no desire, as organised consumers in this country, to do anything which will mitigate against the interests of the producers of this country. We have, as a matter of fact, because of our organisation as consumers, got into actual corporate relationship with the organised producers in the Dominions—in Canada, New Zealand and Australia. In Denmark, as well as in the Dominions, we have done much to secure for those producers conditions which they could not have obtained in the open market. If there was anything to be done to remedy the real trouble of the private producer in this country, it is on the lines of the Government assisting the organisation of the producers, so that they might get into direct touch with those who have to distribute to the consumer. There would be far more sense in the hon. Members who have promoted this Bill, and a far greater sense of responsibility exhibited by the Government if they would drop this stupid, vicious Bill and set themselves to the task of reorganising the producers in the country, with the view also of controlling their market arrangements.
§ Mr. BARNES
I should like to oppose the Third Reading of this Bill on grounds similar to those advanced by the hon. Member for Central Bradford (Lieut.-Colonel Gadie). He expressed the view that there was no advantage in removing one difficulty in a profession by creating others. In this Bill we have another instance of a series of pieces of legislation which will cause a good deal of friction and irritation in the normal process of trade, without producing any real corresponding advantage. The practice of the ring in the auction room can be and should be dealt with effectively, but the malpractices carried on in the auctioneering rooms are not confined merely to those who buy. If we are to deal with a difficulty of that sort we should seek not only to give a fair deal to the person who sells, but endeavour to give a fair deal to the person who buys.
Although we have discussed very largely the effect of this Bill on the seller of agricultural produce, the seller of cattle and commodities, there are many articles and commodities sold which are not livestock. I had experience many years ago in connection with a fraud. I was 2273 not individually responsible for the fraud, but I was then working in the process of my trade in the production of antique silverware. As a workman in London workshops I have seen many sets of antique articles of the King George IV period, King Charles porringers and articles of that description created by the workmen, and eventually they are sold in the auction room for considerably higher value than that at which they are produced. I mention that instance to indicate that the difficulty or the fraud of the auction room does not work only to the disadvantage of the farmer or other persons engaged in agriculture. We ought not to pass a Bill of this description which, as the hon. Member for Central Bradford proved, conclusively, will lead to difficulties for the majority of persons who are engaged in the profession who are perfectly honest. The majority of people who are engaged in trade are normally honest in their trading. These difficulties are usually created by a small minority of people, and I cannot see the advantage of inflicting unnecessary irritation on the mass of normally honest persons for the purpose of removing a difficulty of the minority.
As I understand the Bill, it will affect certain practices which I think are very desirable. It would be a mistake on the part of this House to go against what is the modern tendency in business. It does not matter in which direction you look, the tendency is not to go back to an individual and disorganised state, so far as commerce and industry are concerned. The tendency is rather in the opposite direction, and there is no industry which is not moving towards greater organisation and combination for the purpose of eliminating waste. Under this Bill companies or businesses will be prevented from securing that economy which comes from one buyer acting for a group of companies or shops. Why should you interfere with what is a desirable process? I ask any hon. Member who may reply finally in favour of the Bill how a situation of this description would develop? I have a case in mind in which certain businesses employ a butcher-buyer to buy cattle up and down the country. The bulk of his purchases pass through the average butchers' shops, but later on a good deal is sold in grocery establishments. Is that person to be 2274 prevented from carrying out general purchases of that description? If he is then, I think, it is grossly wrong.
As far as the agricultural community is concerned I hope the House will consider the disadvantages which the farmer suffers to-day in the selling of his milk on account of the existence of the Milk Combine, and the difficulties he suffers in the markets up and down the country by the operations of the ring. No one can argue that the farmer is not at a great disadvantage in dealing with a national organised combine like the Milk Combine, and also when faced with the operations of the ring. The ring does not operate only against the farmer. It operates very often against outside buyers. Sometimes buyers are unable to get all that they require at the markets they are in the habit of attending and, therefore, they attend markets which it is not their custom to attend, and in these markets the ring operates not only for the purpose of bringing down the prices to the farmer but in keeping the casual and outside buyer from taking his place as a legitimate purchaser of the articles which are for sale. I see no provision in this Bill which protects the outside buyer and surely, instead of getting in the way of the tendency towards organised effort, it would be far better for us to realise that, although we may obtain the maximum advantage from this Bill, it will be infinitesimal in its effect on the agricultural industry of this country.
Instead of endeavouring to maintain the mentality of the British farmer, that his salvation lies in individual action, and instead of trying by legislative enactment to bolster up that individualism, a better policy would be to encourage the farmer to organise more and more the marketing of his commodities, so that he is better equipped through associated effort to meet illegal and fraudulent combinations of the sort that have been mentioned. Apart from the fact that this Bill, in seeking to remedy one evil, perpetrates a number of other evils on the honest section of dealers, I think its greatest drawback is the fact that it perpetuates that individualism which has been the prime cause of the decline of British agriculture. Until the farmers of the country realise that the process of production and the process of consumption are one organic whole, and 2275 as long as they stand in the way of the natural aspirations of the consumers of the country, who are the predominant factor, the position will not be better. The farmers would be far better employed in developing agricultural cooperative societies, linking them up with the consumers' co-operative societies, who, throughout their operations, tend to give a fair crack to the whip of the producer. Hon. Members opposite treat that remark with amusement. We expect it. But we are not responsible for the state of agriculture. If agriculture is passing through a difficult period, hon. Members opposite are responsible, or at any rate we can lay a good deal of blame at their door.
In view of the fact that manufacturing interests are predominant and must be predominant in this country, with the weight of the population in our towns as against the rural areas, I see no possibility of a prosperous agricultural movement until the economic interests of the countryside are harmonised with the economic interests of the town dweller. The desired improvement can be brought
§ about only by the farmers adopting the practice and principles that are making for change in every other direction, namely, not entirely replacing individual effort on the farm, but supplementing it by organised marketing of their produce. I not only desire to restrict the malpractices of the auction room. I hold that in nine cases out of 10, the auction room could be abolished altogether. There is no need for the auction room or for the numerous participants in the price of agricultural produce. If the farmers will only get down to organising on a producing basis and get into touch with the consumers' co-operative organisations in this country, so as to have one direct trading process eliminating all these extravagant expenses, then we shall be in a fair way to restore British agriculture. Proposals of this kind only irritate the farmers' friends, bring no advantage to the industry and occupy our time unnecessarily.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 138; Noes, 65.2277
|Division No. 211.]||AYES.||[3.42. p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Gilmour, Lt.-Cot. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Goff, Sir Park||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gower, Sir Robert||Merriman, F. B.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Moles, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. R. C. (Ayr)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Grotrian, H. Brent||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Berry, Sir George||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Murchison, Sir Kenneth|
|Blundell, F. N.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Hartington, Marquess of||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Brass, Captain W.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Penny, Frederick George|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Power, sir John Cecil|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hilton, Cecil||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Remer, J. R.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hume, Sir G. H.||Rye, F. G.|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Hurst, Gerald B.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Hutchison, G.A.Ciark (Midl'n & P'bl"s)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Galnsbro)||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Jacob, A. E.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||James. Lieut.-Colonel Hon Cuthbert||Sandon, Lord|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Savery, S. S.|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Knox, Sir Alfred||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Lamb, J. Q.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfast)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Loder, J. de V.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Falls, Sir Charles F.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Forrest, W.||Luce,Major-Gen.Sir Richard Harman||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Klnc'dine, C.)|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||McLean, Major A.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Gates, Percy||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Streatfelld, Captain S. R.|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Macquisten, F. A.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Wells, S. R.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Tasker, R. Inigo.||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple-||Wood, Sir S. Hill. (High Peak)|
|Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)||Wilson, Sir Murrough (Yorks, Richm'd)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Watts, Dr. T.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl||Lord Fermoy and Sir Douglas|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (File, West)||Half, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Scurr, John|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hardie, George D.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Baker, Walter||Hayes, John Henry||Snell, Harry|
|Batey, Joseph||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Strauss, E. A.|
|Broad, F. A.||Kelly, W. T.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston).||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Couper, J. B.||Lansbury, George||Viant, S. P.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lawrence, Susan||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lee, F.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Lindley, F. W.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Lowth, T.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Dennison, R.||Lunn, William||Westwood, J.|
|Duncan, C.||MacNeill-Welr, L.||Whiteley, W.|
|Dunnico, H.||March, S.||Williams. Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Naylor, T. E.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Atttercliffe)|
|Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Oliver, George Harold||Windsor, Walter|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Potts, John S.|
|Gosling, Harry||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Rose, Frank H.||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. A.|
|Groves, T.||Scrymgeour, E.||Barnes.|
Bill read the Third time, and passed.