§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [6th June] "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
Which Amendment was to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words:
this House declines to assent to the Second Reading of a Bill which proposes a new practice in the assessment of property for local rating, bound to create unfair and unjust discrimination between particular enterprises and between industries and localities, is preparatory to a scheme for subsidising certain industries without regard to the conditions of each industry or of the special needs and circumstances of different areas, and is calculated to increase the burden upon householders and shopkeepers and upon road transport and the distributive trade generally."—[Mr. Snowden.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Mr. ARTHUR GREENWOOD
The Debate on the Second Reading of this Bill opened with an unusually apologetic speech from the Minister of Health, delivered in an extraordinarily uncertain tone, and in a minor key, and the Debate last night closed with a frivolous and generally irrelevant speech from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, who referred to this Bill and the Trade Unions Bill as amongst "the great measures of reform" of modern times. Many of us on this side of the House feel a certain difficulty in discussing the Government policy. This piecemeal disclosure of what I imagine is one complete scheme makes it somewhat difficult for us, and our difficulty is increased because there is no secure foothold on the shifting sands of Government policy. The wherewithal for this Bill was provided by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who before long had to perform a strategic retreat on the question of the Kerosene Duty. Yesterday, the Minister of Health in his speech made preparations for another strategic retreat during the passage of this Bill through the House, when he explained that he was prepared either to bring in 364 more enterprises or to take out more enterprises. He had a perfectly open mind on the question. This convinces us that he had not had time or opportunity to study the implications of his own Measure. The basis of the Local Government Bill which will come later in the autumn is still "wropt in mystery" and I do not suppose that either the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Minister of Health have the faintest idea how that Bill will emerge from the discussions with local authorities or how it will emerge after passage through this House.
The thing that interests me most about this Measure is that we see the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Health in roles which are entirely new to them. On the whole, I think I prefer the Chancellor of the Exchequer as the bold, bad baron raiding other people's property, than as a sweetly simple Red Riding Hood taking dainties to a sick and dying industrial system. I am more accustomed and hon. Members on this side of the House are more accustomed to see the Minister of Health as the hard, stern taskmaster of the boards of guardians than in his newly-assumed role of fairy godmother, converting pumpkins into evanescent golden carriages. The true designation for the two right hon. Gentlemen is that of the babes in the wood, but they will be lost for good and there will be no happy ending to their story. Even supporters of the Bill must admit that, after its various alterations and proposed modifications, it is an ill-considered Measure. It is also an ill-conceived Measure.
When the Chancellor of the Exchequer first made his statement about productive industry many people cast their minds about for some method of defining what would come within the scope of the Bill. The Minister of Health was driven back upon the definition in the Factories and Workshops Acts. This definition, which is a very old definition and which was devised in the course of years for an entirely different purpose from that for which it is now being used, is such a definition that once having accepted it the right hon. Gentleman had to proceed to hedge it round and prop it up with various provisos. The result of this bastard definition, taken from the Factories and Workshop Act, is that, in- 365 evitably, he has had to include a large number of enterprises where the special concessions that are being given are not justified, and he has had to exclude a large number of needy ratepayers who certainly are in need of relief.
A good deal has been said about the profitable character of many of the firms who are to be assisted as a result of the operation of this Bill. Attention has been directed primarily to Courtaulds and the brewers. I do not wish to worry the House with details, but there are a large number of other firms which are making extraordinarily large profits to which attention might he drawn. I could quote cases of electrical engineering enterprises, but I will leave them and take one illustration which could be multiplied many times. I refer to the London Brick Company and Forders, Limited. This company has paid out bonuses of 50 per cent, in 1920, 50 per cent. in 1922, 20 per cent. in 1925 and 30 per cent. in 1926, and it has in the last six or seven years steadily increased its ordinary dividends from 10 per cent. to 25 per cent. This is to be one of the fortunate enterprises which will secure a remission of three-quarters of its rates. There are a number of other enterprises in the same line of business where the profits are equally large and where the relief will be similar. In the case of Lever Brothers, during the last few years the profits have been more than doubled. The last declared profits amounted to well over £5,250,000 for the year, and this firm, for no reason at all, is to secure relief amounting to three-quarters of the rates that it pays. The British American Tobacco Company, which paid a 25 per cent, tax free dividend to its ordinary shareholders, had profits last year of over £6,250,000, while the Imperial Tobacco Company, with profits last year of over £9,000,000 and 25 per cent. tax free dividends, will also share in the rate relief. Breweries and distilleries have profits running into seven figures.
4.0.p.m. Without any justification that one can see, these large and profitable businesses, in order to swell their already extravagant profits, are to receive direct assistance from public funds, and the extraordinary thing is that luxury trades, again for no reason at all, are to be put in the category of enterprises which will be assisted 366 by the beneficence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I quote just one illustration of this, although there are a good many other illustrations. A perfumery company, which is a manufacturing firm engaged in making fine toilet soap, perfumery and toilet luxuries, paid in 1926 a dividend of 75 per cent. on its ordinary shares. A good many of the luxury enterprises now are doing extraordinarily well, and ought to be thankful that they are making the profits they are, without receiving any further assistance from the public. But while these profitable and non-essential enterprises are receiving public assistance, the public supply services, for a reason which is not very clear, are excluded. The right hon. Gentleman, yesterday, in justification said that these bodies were monopolies, and that it would be difficult to ensure that the rating relief would be transferred so as to stimulate industry. I should have thought that statutory corporations of this kind operating under Act of Parliament and being, in effect, monopolies, were bodies which could be more effectively controlled than the private industries which are receiving such a large amount of relief. I will quote statements made by the chairmen of three electricity supply companies in London, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Northampton, because there is an assumption that these electricity supply companies are not in need of assistance, and that if they get it it will be of no direct advantage to industry as a whole. In the case of the London Electric Supply Corporation, the chairman at the last ordinary general meeting of the company, said that the company had paid last year a sum amounting to £85,792 in respect of rates. He added:
"This sum of £85,792 represents more than 41 per cent. of our total fuel costs, and is over 12 per cent. on the whole of the issued ordinary share capital, and over 45 per cent. more than the standard rate of dividend we are this year paying to our ordinary shareholders under the 1925 Act."
In the case of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, this year the chairman of the company made this statement:
"The increase in rates which we had to pay in 1927 over those paid in 1925 represents tie less than 64 per cent. of the increase in profit earned in 1927 over that earned in 1925. Put in another way, local rates cost us £23 more per employé last year than in 1925. A lightening of this burden would go a long way towards bringing about the trade revival so anxiously looked for 1y all engaged in industry."
367 I quote, finally, the speech of the chairman of the Northampton Electric Light and Power Company, Limited;
"I doubt, too, if it is generally realised what a heavy charge rates are upon such an undertaking as ours, and how much they add to the cost of production per unit. In the accounts now before you, local rates amount to .086d. per unit sold, and as more than 75 per cent. of your output is sold at or near 1d. per unit, it is an exceedingly heavy tax. With the new assessments this will be nearly one-eighth of a penny per unit. This must naturally have a considerable effect upon the price of electricity, especially for industrial purposes."
I think that if a case can be made for special relief, it might well be made by these electricity corporations who are supplying power to an increasing area in industry, and where a remission of taxation could be so arranged as to inure to the advantage of industry and the general body of consumers. Under the category of freight-transport, the most obvious omission is that of commercial transport, and I cannot for the life of me understand the Government spending money on roads on the one hand, and penalising the users of roads on the other. Road transport, whether railway interests like it or not, is an essential part of the transport system of this country, but it is in the position of being not only deprived of relief but of having to provide the wherewithal for commercial rivals and for industrial enterprises. Road transport is not a guest at the Government's feast; it is the fatted calf. Trams, omnibuses and tubes are also excluded. In the ease of omnibuses, it has already been said in this House that this will result in higher charges to the general public. It seems to me to he economically as advisable to secure a reduction of passenger rates as of freight rates, and yet the whole body of passenger traffic is excluded. The distributive trades, although they are great and increasing users of petrol to-day, are having to pay for the relief of other branches of industry.
I should like to turn more especially to the case of householders. The householders of the country pay something like half the amount of the rates. In my own division, in the town of Nelson, of £170,000 paid in rates last year, £67,000 was paid by, people who live in houses assessed at the same rate as 368 the corporation non-parlour houses or less; that is to say 40 per cent. of the rates paid in that town are paid by working-class households. As a matter of fact, the total amount is larger, because there are many working people who are living in parlour houses, but I am keeping to the section who, for one reason or another, are unable to live in parlour houses. Their contribution to the local rates last year was £67,000. If three-fourths of that were remitted to working-class homes, I think it could be shown that that would be infinitely more advantageous economically than distributing that amount of money to industrial enterprises. The amount of rates which fall now upon the mass of the people is very substantial. I could give examples from other places to show that working-class people are paying out 3s., 4s. or 5s. per week from limited resources in respect of rates. This is a real burden, compared with which the burden on many individual industrial enterprises is relatively small.
In the Debate last night, the Parliamentary Secretary, either wilfully or accidentally, misunderstood the words used by my right hon. Friend who mol, ed the Amendment to the Bill. My right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) quoted—and quite rightly quoted—a number of figures which were produced by the Balfour Committee on the burden of rates in industry. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary did not like the figures, but my right hon. Friend cannot be responsible for them; they are not his figures. What my right hon. Friend said, if I understood his meaning, as I think I did, is not that there is no great burden on industry, but that there is a heavy burden of rates upon the people of this country, and that the right method of rating relief is not by a narrow, partial scheme, but by some method which would relieve the rates of the great masses of the people. His words were:
"Rates are a far greater burden upon shopkeepers and householders than they are upon any other class in the community. They take a far larger percentage of the shopkeeper's profits and a far larger percentage of the householder's income."
That is a statement of fact which cannot be denied.
"If the Minister of Health had wanted to do something which would really encour- 369 age trade and increase employment, he ought to have proposed the complete derating of houses."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th June, 1928; col. 200, Vol. 218.]
That, I think, is a perfectly justifiable conclusion, and does not mean that the burden of rates is non-existent. Indeed, I think this party can claim to have discovered it before the right hon. Gentleman. We also had quoted last night an extract from a speech which I made in this House in 1924. The right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary ought to know it by heart, but he has only learnt part of it, and he has invariably refused my request that be should read the rest of it. Again, I must weary the House by reading the rest of it myself. What I said with regard to necessitous areas, I have no reason to unsay. I still believe that to treat necessitous areas separately by themselves as a special, peculiar problem is impossible, and I said that in the House on the occasion to which the. Parliamentary Secretary referred. But I went on to say:
"In fact, the question of necessitous areas raises the whole problem of the relations between national and local finance. Until that problem is overhauled, it is quite hopeless to expect that we could deal with necessitous areas as necessitous areas."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th August, 1924; col. 2,602, Vol. 176.]
Then I went on to point out that the Government, by increasing grants to local authorities in respect of unemployment, and by the improvements in unemployment insurance, were bringing to all authorities, and particularly overburdened authorities, the kind of relief they needed—a policy which has been reversed by the present Government. Therefore, for the right hon. Gentleman to say that there is no policy in this matter on this side of the House is untrue, as the right hon. Gentleman must know, if he will take the trouble to learn a few more lines of the speech which he is so fond of quoting. The economic effects of this scheme are what really matter. I suppose that the full effects depend upon the combined results of direct rate relief to individual hereditaments and upon freight reductions. The large remission of taxation per ton in the case of steel is arrived at by assuming that there are going to be freight. reductions equivalent to the amount of rate relief which freight transport enterprises will receive.
370 The right hon. Gentleman bars out public supply corporations, because he is not sure that the advantages will accrue to industry. He cannot be sure that the advantage of freight reductions are going to accrue to industry either for very long. Even if she right hon. Gentleman were to make a deal with the railway companies that the whole of the rate remissions which they enjoy are to be transferred to the users of railways by reduced rates for heavy merchandise, it does not follow that that settles the question. We have no guarantee, and the right hon. Gentleman can have no guarantee that within a year or eighteen months the railway companies will not be appealing to the Railway Rates Tribunal for a revision of freights upwards in order to meet new charges which they could not foresee. Therefore, I think we may rule out from the permanent possible advantages of this Measure that which may come from freight reductions. We are left with that which will come from direct rate relief.
As I sec it, there are certain fundamental defects in this Bill which no amount of amendment can possibly put right. The first—it was referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley—is the attempt to draw a distinction between productive and distributive enterprises. That distinction is purely artificial. It does not obtain in practice. It cannot obtain in practice. Distribution to-day is as much a part of the processes of production as machine processes and so on. That false distinction is going to have unfortunate effects even upon the so-called productive enterprises. If the economic system hangs together as one system—as it must do— to leave the essential service of distribution bearing increased burden means that the productive enterprises which are going to get relief are not going to reap the full benefits of that relief.
The scheme is also unsound, because it differentiates between different classes of transport. One of the greatest needs of this country is a properly co-ordinated system of transport. Transport should not be regarded as a series of rival competitive enterprises, but as a co-ordinated system of complementary methods of transport. What this Bill does, is to turn road transport into the enemy of the 371 railway system and to leave railway transport to despise road transport as a milch cow which can be used in order to help the railway enterprises to larger trade at the expense of the road enterprises. This freight transport section of the Bill is fundamentally wrong, because it introduces another false distinction, a distinction between freight transport and passenger transport. In the last resort, the state of trade in this country depends upon the available purchasing power in the hands of the great body of the people, and if they can get their effective purchasing power increased by a reduction of passenger charges—and all people are passengers to-day on trams, omnibuses and tubes—that is as much an economic service as trying to take it off iron, steel, and coal. The beneficial effects of the Bill, so far as they exist, would have been improved had this distinction between various forms of transport and the distinction between freight transport and passenger transport been obliterated.
It is fundamental to the Bill that it is bound to create confusion and anomalies, and bound to create serious injustices just because it is a partial Measure, just because it is concerned, not with a general measure of rate relief, but because it is confined within definitely laid-down boundaries. I do not object to the Government helping prosperous enterprises if that is part of a general dispensation of relief, because clearly, if there is a general dispensation of relief, you will help prosperous enterprises and unprosperous enterprises, wealthy ratepayers and needy ratepayers. Therefore, there is no objection to helping prosperous enterprises if it is part of a general scheme of rate remission. If the scheme is not to cover the whole field, then the field which is to be covered clearly must be, if it is to be scientific and effective, restricted to the needy and to the depressed trades: otherwise, if within the field that you have delimited for special rating relief, there are people who are more prosperous than people who are outside it you have immediately created an injustice which you can never overcome.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his rather airy treatment of this question on the Second Reading of the 372 Finance Bill, spoke of the ignorance of economics. Well, with all respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I am not sure that economics is his strong card. He referred in his speech—and the matter was referred to also by the right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health—to the dissipation of the fruits of his disposals. That was in reply to the argument that this scheme should have been more general in its application. The first point to be made about that is that part of the £26,000,000 is being really dissipated. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted that £5,000,000 is going to industries which are not depressed. Within the field of the depressed industries, it may be that another £5,000,000 is going to people who do not need it, and, if that be so, there is £10,000,000 dissipated right away without any accruing economic advantage to the community, but with enlarged profits and perhaps enlarged directors' fees to those who work the enterprises.
A diffusion of rating relief might be economically advantageous. I have already referred to the heavy burden of rates upon the working classes of this country. Assume, if you like, that on an average they pay 4s. a week in rates. That is not an extravagant figure. Three-quarters remission of rates would put into the homes of working-class families 3s. more per week. Three shillings more per week to a working-class family means more in boots, more in clothing, more in travel, and more of all the things that the great mass of purchasers require and use and consume. Three-quarters remission of rates to large prosperous enterprises is a clear dissipation of resources, because it cannot possibly yield an advantage equivalent to the gift that is being given to them. I would like some hon. Member on the opposite side of the House to prove to my satisfaction that rating remission to prosperous enterprises will percolate through to the general body of the public. If it is a case of dissipating resources, look at the mining situation! Pumping money into the mines is not going to help the mining situation. It is going to make the mining situation worse. The trouble is not that prices of coal are too high. The trouble to-day is that prices of coal are too low. The fact that within the past 12 months the pithead price of 373 coal in South Wales has fallen by half a crown and that the situation is as bad now as it was a year ago is distinct proof that merely pumping money into the industry and merely reducing the costs in the industry is not going to help you out of your difficulty.
I have one further criticism to make. This Bill is a permanent measure of relief to alleviate a situation which the Government professes to believe is passing. But perhaps they do not believe that it is passing. If and when the present conditions vanish, the country will be left with an absurdly lop-sided rating system, until there is a great change made, and a rating system under which a very large number of people will be in the position of being permanently subsidised by the rest of the people. I am convinced of this, that in the future the amount of rates to be paid by these enterprises which are having three-quarters of their rates remitted, will not be sufficient to pay their share of the directly beneficial services which the local authorities provide. With every big new development of industrial enterprises in an area, these concerns will become parasitic upon the general body of ratepayers. They will become parasitic upon them, because these new enterprises will require roads, street lighting, water supply, sewers, police, fire brigades—[An HON. MEMBER: "Houses"!"]—I leave out houses, but I am prepared to admit that housing, health, and education are of advantage to industry. But I rule them out. I confine myself to the very narrow range of beneficial services from which industry does directly benefit. With every new development of industrial enterprises in an area, I am convinced that those people will not be paying their fair share of the rates even for that limited range of services. Therefore, the effect of this Measure is not going to be to de-rate a number of people to the general advantage. It is going to have the effect of putting new rate burdens on the vast majority of the people for the benefit of a number of enterprises which do not need it. The economic situation a few years from now may be entirely changed, and it may be that if the right hon. Gentleman were here, then he would want to de-rate some entirely different kinds of enterprises. These enterprises which in a new situation might want, assistance 374 will be struggling to pay the rates that ought to be borne by the other industrial enterprises.
This is the Government's much advertised scheme. I think it would be difficult to find a more extraordinary combination of political short-sightedness and muddled economics than you have here. There are ways and means of dealing with this problem. Those ways and means have been put before this House on more than one occasion. Rating relief is a national necessity, but it must proceed en scientific lines. The right hon. Gentleman yesterday, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill, claimed that this was a scientific scheme. It is science of the days of alchemy, the days of the Middle Ages. A scientific scheme is one which takes services which are essentially national and makes them a national charge. If that policy was being followed to-day the industries and areas which are most severely hit would receive the maximum of assistance, and those areas and industries which are not in difficult circumstances would receive the minimum of assistance.
This Bill cuts right across every scientific principle, adopts a false basis of classification, will put an enormous burden on local authorities, introduce bad feeling everywhere, impose new burdens on the State and lead to an increase in the bureaucracy, which we are always told is the fear of the Tory party. My own view is that the Tory party are the upholders of bureaucracy, and this Bill proves it. It means more work for bureaucracy, because of the fundamentally false basis of the scheme, and although I do not suppose that hon. Members opposite will ever understand the elementary principles of economics I should like to hope that for once the House will rise to a consideration of the economic issues involved and say with hon. Members on this side of the House that this is the wrong way of doing the right thing.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Sir John Gilmour)
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. A. Greenwood) very deeply. I am quite prepared to join issue with the hon. Member. It has been said that the Minister of Health made an apologetic speech yesterday, but I think hon. Members will agree 375 that seldom have they listened to a speech with such a note of apology running through it as the speech which the hon. Member has just delivered. He has endeavoured to smooth over some of the perhaps regrettable inferences which might be drawn from the speech of the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) yesterday, when he told us in plain and unmistakable terms that rates as such were no burden on industry. In any case, I leave that to the Labour party to explain. For myself I have no apologies to make either here or in the country, to the electors, the public generally or to local authorities, for the scheme which His Majesty's Government have put forward. I have risen to-day for the main purpose of trying to explain to the House, and particularly to my colleagues from Scotland, the application of the proposals in the Bib to Scottish conditions. This is a Bill of machinery, a step towards the ultimate development of the whole scheme. It is a necessary part in the evolution of this scheme, and the clause which refers to Scotland is Clause 9.
The scheme will be equally applicable to England and Scotland. There will be three-quarters relief to productive industries in Scotland, a de-rating of agricultural land in Scotland, and there will be the advantage from the relief of railway freights in Scotland as well as in England. Of course the circumstances and methods by which we shall arrive at this result must be, as hon. Members from Scotland know, on different lines, because it must be realised that whereas in England only the occupiers pay rates, broadly speaking in Scotland, although there are some modifications, the owner and occupier share the rates half and half. There are, of course, further complications when we deal with the position of rates upon agricultural land because the occupier is rated on one-quarter and the owner on three-quarters of the value of the land. There is this added fact, which is one of the difficulties which will have to he dealt with, that in England the farmhouses and cottages are valued separately from the land, whereas in Scotland the farm is valued as a unit, and therefore a method must be found to deal with this problem. If industry and agriculture in Scotland are to have the same benefit as industry and agriculture 376 in England, that measure of relief should be given both to owners and occupiers. Particularly is it necessary to deal in this manner with large classes of owner occupiers on whom the burden of rates has fallen with peculiar severity.
It is therefore proposed to give relief to industry upon the same lines as is given in England. There will be cases where the owner is not also the occupier and will be paying part of the rates in industrial concerns. Where relief is given it will be given both to the owner and occupier, and in so far as industrial subjects are concerned, the relief so granted to the owner will be passed on by him—it will be provided in legislation—to the occupier of productive industry during the existing leases or arrangements. In the case of railways the same condition will apply as applies to railways in England. That is obvious because the railway systems are common to both countries. With regard to docks, harbours, piers and canals, exactly the same conditions will apply.
I turn now to the problem of agricultural land. As everyone knows, the conditions under which agriculture is conducted across the Border vary, and have varied for a long time, from the conditions and methods applied in England, and they differ in this fundamental point, that in Scotland both owner and tenant are associated in the production of agriculture. They are partners in the industry, and the burden of rates which it is admitted has fallen on the owner and tenant has made it difficult for one of the partners to carry out to the fullest extent and in the most admirable way any improvement of the conditions in the industry in which he is associated. It is necessary and desirable that the burden should be relieved from the shoulders of owners and occupiers. That principle has already been recognised by the House. It was recognised under the Agricultural Rates Relief Act in 1923, and I must add this, that there are other material factors to be considered, because in Scotland the conditions differ, in the main, from those in England. Leases as a rule are for much longer periods, and that fact makes a material difference between the two systems.
The Government, therefore, propose to relieve the tenant of the rates which he 377 at present pays upon the land, and to relieve the owner of part of the rates which he pays on his section, and put in a provision by which a half of the relief which the owner receives shall, during the existing tenancy, be passed on to the tenant. I should like hon. Members to realise that the tenant will be relieved of the burden of rates on the one-fourth which he is at present paying on the land, and that the owner will be relieved of the rates which he is paying on the three-quarters; and that half of the amount by which the owner is re lieved will, during the existing tenancy, be passed on to the tenant, so that the tenant will have the direct relief of his own rates and also the additional relief of half the relief which the owner receives. That will be, in effect, a direct reduction of rent.
There remains the problem of how one is to deal with the farm houses and cottages. As I have already explained, the system in England and Scotland differs in that in England buildings have been separately valued from the land whereas in Scotland the farm has been valued as a unit, including the land, buildings and cottages. If we were now to adopt the same system as is followed in England, and proceed to value each individual farm and cottage throughout the whole of Scotland, it would be not only a lengthy but a difficult business, and would lead in some circumstances, particularly in the case of the smaller farms and holdings, possibly to an increase and not a decrease in the burden of rates on the individual.
Therefore, the Government propose not to proceed by a direct valuation of those subjects, but to take a figure which, in their opinion, will be a reasonable valuation; and what we propose to do is to adopt the figure of one-sixth of the gross rental of each subject, as representing as nearly as may be upon the average throughout the country a fair and reasonable proportion on which each individual should pay. I would ask the House to observe that this, if carried into effect, will mean, of course, that, whereas at the present time the tenant is paying on one-fourth, he will in future only pay upon one-sixth of the gross rental, and he will be, in addition, receiving one-half of the relief of rates given to the owner. It will be seen at once that this method of 378 dealing with this problem must give rise to certain anomalies, but they will be anomalies, loaded, if I may say so, to the advantage of the smaller holder and the small farmer as against the large farmer. Under these circumstances, I think that, on consideration, you will find that this method of dealing with this special problem will be the fairest to all concerned.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
You are taking one-sixth of the gross rent of the farm. If I have made myself clear, therefore, we propose to deal with agricultural land by totally derating the land and leaving the rates upon houses and cottages to be levied on one-sixth of the gross rental. I will only add, in reply to some of the interrupticns from hon. Members on the other side, that the sporting values will remain fully rated. That may interest some of my hon. Friends who come from the deer forest areas.
§ Mr. HARDIE
I perhaps did not make myself clear. What I want to know is, does the rent that is going to be the basis upon which you deduct one-sixth include sporting land?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
Agricultural land is to be rated on one-sixth of its value, on its gross rental. There is one other point with regard to agriculture which I should mention. As in England, so in Scotland, woodlands will be included in the scheme. This method of dealing with an admittedly difficult and complicated problem of rating has, I am glad to say, met with the consideration of the assessors u ho, of course, will have to carry it out, and they have assured me that they se no insuperable difficulty in dealing with these matters on the lines which the Government suggest. It would be, perhaps, right for me to say that, as in England so in Scotland, the revenue officers, to whom my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health alluded yesterday, will, as in England, be concerned only with the first valuation roll which will be established. Everyone affected will, under the existing valuation law, receive notice of the proposed changes. There is perhaps a slight difference in the procedure in Scotland and England where it will not be necessary for the 379 individuals concerned in Scotland to make an application, and, wherever a change is made, intimation will go to them, and they will have the ordinary avenue of appeal.
There remains one other rather important matter which I should mention. It is the question of the date when this scheme will come into operation in Scotland. It will be within the knowledge of hon. Members that in Scotland we rate yearly from the 16th of May to the 15th of May, whereas in England it is half-yearly. Therefore, it will be necessary for us to make special provision to meet the difference in the date; but that will be a matter of adjustment and will be provided for in the scheme, so that Scotland will have the advantage at the same time as England will have it. I think I should add that, while this Measure which we are considering to-day is of course a Measure for machinery, for ascertaining values, of course in Scotland, as in England, it is to be followed by a scheme which will be accompanied by block grants in lieu of the present percentage grants for the same services as in England, and that will, of course, necessitate obviously large changes of areas, larger areas. I propose to issue a Memorandum similar to that which the Minister of Health will issue in England, which I hope will be available this month, as his will be, and I shall subsequently enter into discussions with local authorities in Scotland and go into the problem with them in an endeavour, as far as may be, to obtain general agreement in the working in the future of this scheme.
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
We were promised a paper giving the yield of rates on the various classes of property in Scotland somewhat similar to that for England. Can the right hon. Gentleman give me any idea when it will be in our hands?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I answered a question in regard to that some time ago. I believe the greater part of the information is now in the hands of the printers, and I hope it will be available for hon. Members very shortly. A great deal of that information has to be obtained from the local authorities. I will only say, in conclusion, that this scheme, wide and far-reaching as it must be, having, as it is bound to have, many repercussions 380 upon existing practice, will, I hope, be seriously, and if I may even say so, sympathetically considered, not only by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in this House, but by the local authorities throughout the country. I think it is clear, whatever differences of opinion we may hold, that this is a matter long overdue, a problem which, if we can reach a fair and reasonable working solution of it will meet and alleviate a great part of those difficulties which press very severely upon our congested areas. I would say to my hon. Friends from Scotland, that I should be surprised to learn that they, at any rate, would think that such relief, even if it is not so full and complete as some of them might desire, is not going to have an appreciable effect upon industry in Scotland, or that it is not going to give an impetus at a difficult period to agriculture. For myself, I believe that, though we may have much to do following what we are setting our hands to to-clay, this is a step in the right direction, that it is more than a step, that it will be a momentous occasion when we shall see the wheels of industry going round in a manner that they are not doing at the present time.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland has made the particular proposals which will adapt the Government scheme to Scotland as clear as anybody could to a Southern intelligence; hut I am afraid that I cannot follow him. That is not because there was any lack of lucidity in his statement—on the contrary, I think it was a remarkably clear statement—but because I do not pretend to be conversant with the subject of Scottish rating and land and I do not feel competent to express any opinion on the proposals which he has put forward. I have no doubt that some of my hon. and right hon. Friends who represent Scotland will have something to say upon the subject. I would rather confine myself, therefore, to an examination of the principles of the scheme as a whole. I would agree with what was said by the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the general desirability of something being done. I agree with him that it is overdue. There is no doubt at all that the burden of the rates, especially in certain areas, does very seriously cripple industry, both productive and distributive, and that it is an intolerable burden, 381 especially in particular areas, upon the whole population. That l think is common ground to everybody in this House and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Greenwood) did not, I gathered, take a different view, except that he confined his criticism rather to the incidence of the rates.
I think it is important, for two reasons, that the whole issue between the Government and us should be realised. I think we should thrash it out in this House in the spirit of the declaration which was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health yesterday, that there was nothing final in these proposals, that the Memorandum which is to be issued and which is the crucial one, will contain, as I understand it, full particulars of the scheme in such a way that the local authorities will understand exactly what relief will come to their individual areas. He said that that Memorandum is to be a provisional one; it is to be a subject for discussion, a subject for criticism, a subject. For suggestion, and that, if the Government are convinced that the particular plan which they put forward is not the best means of obtaining the end they have in view in common with all other sections in this House, no personal feeling would prevent them abandoning this particular proposal. I did not observe that the Minister of Health nodded assent to that statement. At any rate it is very important. I wish I were dealing with the Minister of Health alone. I cannot help feeling convinced that he is open to conviction upon this subject. There is just a chance that if he were approached in that spirit this problem, which was a vexed one before the present period of distress and depression, which was calling for treatment long before that and which has now become urgent and insistent, might be solved in such a way as to give general satisfaction, not to everybody but to the community as a whole. If we fail to do that, it is very important that it should be stated clearly and that the country should understand what the Government are proposing and what we are objecting to in their proposals. Obviously, the first is the better solution. Let us examine it if we may from that point of view. Let me say at once that the point is how the money which is 382 now in the hands of the Government, the money which will be increased by the sum available next year, can be best utilised for the speedy and effective solution of this rating problem.
May I say here that it is no use suggesting that when we criticise, we are doing so merely because we want to attack the rich. Quite frankly that is silly. This problem was considered by a great many of us long before the Chancellor of the Exchequer turned his attention to it. We did not know when we were putting forward the proposals to which he has referred that he had any scheme in his mind at all. The men who were engaged in the preparation of the Liberal schemes to which he has alluded were, some of them, very prosperous industrialists and, by the way, three or four of them were industrialists in one of the industries which the right hon. Gentleman has classified as depressed—which shows that when you refer to depressed industries it does not mean that there are not a great many people in those industries who are very prosperous. They came to the conclusion that this was not the best plan. They put forward another plan. They did not do so because they were envious of the rich, but because they thought it was the best method of dealing with the problem. It is in that spirit that I urge their scheme on this House as a better alternative than that proposed by the Government.
I shall give the reasons why I think that of all plans this, on the whole, is the worst. I think so honestly. I am thoroughly of that opinion and I do not believe it could have been prepared by men who knew anything at all about rating. I am absolving the Minister of Health for reasons which he indicated pretty clearly yesterday. There was one part of his speech which I thought was most remarkable. A lucid speech by the right hon. Gentleman explaining proposals is nothing unusual, because I have never heard from him a speech that was not lucid. Indeed, if I may speak as a very old Parliamentarian, I was reminded by him of the extremely lucid and clear speeches of a great relative of his in the past. There was, as I say, nothing unusual in that; but he made it quite plain that he had had no time in which to consider these proposals. He said it was impossible for him to make the necessary inquiries. I have since 383 gone carefully through the OFFICIAL REPORT, and I cannot find that passage. I wonder what has happened to it. He said it was impossible foe him to make the necessary inquiries in the time, because of the secrecy which was attached to the preparation of the Budget. That passage may be there, but I have not been able to find it, and I have gone through the report very carefully. It may be, of course, that it was not heard, but at any rate that is a very remarkable statement.
There are things in the Budget about which, of course, one has to be very secret when making inquiries. There are things like duties on sugar and tobacco and spirits about which you have to be very careful, when making investigations beforehand, so as to give no hint of what you are going to do in regard to them, and so as to prevent forestalling. But nobody is going to forestall in the matter of rates. You are not going to have a rush of people paying rates because of something that may turn up in the Budget. What possible objection could there have been on the ground of secrecy, to making a prolonged investigation in every quarter, consulting great municipal leaders, great municipal experts, chambers of trade and commerce and leading industrialists, employers and workmen, throughout the country? It is perfectly true that it would have become known, but what harm would that have been? What harm would it have been, had it been known that the Government were projecting a great scheme for the relief of industry or of oppressed areas as far as rates were concerned? It would have given new hope. There is only one thing that would have been destroyed and that would have been the drama of the Budget. But why should that be introduced as an element when you have to consider vital matters of this kind where there are practical difficulties?
I am the last man in the world to disparage the advice of Treasury officials. They have great knowledge, and I have no doubt the same thing applies to those who are advising the Minister of Health. But when you come to deal with the rating system of this country all these outside authorities should be called in, and information should be obtained from them with regard to the best method of 384 proceeding. But we are told there was the secrecy of the Budget to be considered, and what is the result? The right hon. Gentleman yesterday practically said that he had no definition except a rough and ready one. My impression of this is, that it is very rough but certainly not ready. He says when it comes to the basis of apportionment that he is going to leave it to the common sense of the assessment committees. They will find a way out. If they do not, there are always the Judges. They will be able to find some sort of method and, then, thank God for the House of Lords! We can always go round there. This state of things is entirely due to the fact, I have no doubt, that the Ministry of Health, who are primarily concerned with this matter, have not been consulted in time and have not been able to put their machinery into operation to consult the various people who could advise them and who, I am perfectly certain, would have been called into consultation by them if they had had an opportunity in good time.
What is the result? They are going to issue a memorandum. They are going to say in this memorandum what they propose to do, but they add that it is only provisional. We voted £28,000,000 or £29,000,000 on Monday upon a scheme regarding which the Government have not made up their minds—a purely provisional scheme. For the first time, they are now going to call into consultation the people whom they ought to have consulted from the very start—the great municipal authorities of this country—upon the subject. They are now going to invite these authorities to come in and discuss the matter with them. That ought to have been done before, and, if it had been done before, you would not have had this scheme. The trouble about this scheme is this. The £29,000,000 for the relief of rates is good, but this method of apportioning it—of allocating it—is vicious. The trouble of the right hon. Gentleman will be that when he goes into consultation he will go chained by the leg by this principle. He can go neither to the right nor to the left. That is a point which I would put quite respectfully as one on which the House of Commons should insist—that the right hon. Gentleman should go in with a free hand to discuss this matter with the local authorities.
385 My first reason for saying that the scheme is bad is this—that whilst the need is urgent the relief tarries. Nobody has described—I will not say in more lurid—in more desperate terms the condition of our export trade than the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is not four-fifths of what it was before the War. I have realised all along that this is one of the most serious problems with which we have to deal, and many a time have I tried to call attention to it in this House and outside it and I have been told that I ought not to do so because I was advertising the fact. But I am glad that the House of Commons is taking this as the basis of a serious discussion at last. With our increase in population, with our gigantic increase of the burden of taxation our export trade ought to be one and a-half times what it was before instead of being only four-fifths of what it was, in order to deal with those contingencies. What did the Chancellor of the Exchequer say?Unemployment remains obstinately chronic around the dismal figure of 1,000,000. All those basic industries which used to be the glory of this island and which must always constitute an essential element in the life of every nation and which are vital to our export trade—all those industries are at the present time in serious eclipse."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th April, 1928; col. 844, Vol. 216.]Crippled by rates! But all these vital industries, the glory and the life of the nation are to remain in this condition for 18 months. With the cash in the pockets of the Chancellor of the Exchequer nothing is to be given to them during that time to them out. What greater condemnation could you have of this scheme than the description given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the condition of these industries and the lame conclusion that he is only going to help them 18 months hence? It is indefensible. Why have we to wait for 18 months? The Minister of Health yesterday made it conclusively clear. I do not think anybody could resist the conclusion to which he came that it was impossible—if the present scheme is the only one—to confer the benefits under this scheme before 1st October, 1929. The right hon. Gentleman is quite right. I think, indeed, he is over-sanguine. I do not think he will be able to do it by 1st, October, 1929. I know something of rating. I had con- 386 siderable experience of rating in my original training and I know something of the way in which the machinery of assessment works. Ministers are always sanguine as to the time in which they can bring an Act of Parliament into operation.' That is not peculiar to the present Government. Anybody who believes in a great scheme wants to see it operate as quickly as possible, but it is very difficult to bring great machinery into existence in a limited time. I am not criticising the right hon. Gentleman from that point of view, but he has had the experience of his own Rating Act. Under that Act it was assumed that the valuation would have been ready but he has found it necessary to postpone it to the 1st April next.
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Chamberlain)
The Act gave an option to the local authorities to choose either 1st April, 1928, or 1st April, 1929. The great majority of them selected the latter dale.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I accept the correction of the right hon. Gentleman. But that shows at once that the right hon. Gentleman thought it possible that they might do it in 1928. They found it impossible to do it in 1928, and they have chosen the later date.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
They have not found it impossible. Some have chosen 1928. My own town of Birmingham, for instance, has done its valuation in 1928, but other: prefer to take the later date.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I can understand Birmingham. They are very nimble people in Birmingham, and naturally there is the influence of the right hon. Gentleman himself there, but there are very few—that is myinforrnation—who will have done it in 1928. The vast majority have come to the conclusion that they cannot do it till 1929. Therefore, it does really take longer than Ministers, with a great equipment at their command, think possible. These assessment committees have not got an equipment of that kind at their command; and, besides, all the surveyors are fully engaged upon it, and they have to take their turn. The assessment committees are choked with appeals in cases where it has already come into operation. But what I wait to point out is this, that until you have got that valuation, you 387 have no basis of apportionment. This Bill contemplates an apportionment between the productive and the rest. Between now and the 1st April, 1929, there will be innumerable appeals to settle what the basis is to begin with, and until that basis of valuation has been settled, how can you settle the apportionment of something which has not in itself been established After you have done that, when you have got the whole of your valuation ready, by the 1st April, 1929, your apportionment begins. But may I say to the right hon. Gentleman that it is not an apportionment; it is a re-valuation. It is not merely an arithmetical calculation, which can be worked out in an office; it is a re-valuation. I have been re-reading his speech, and he has given a very clear account of the processes you have to go through. You have, first, to find out what the value of the office is, what the value of the storage is, what the value of the garages where you keep your lorries is. There are all sorts of things which ere excluded, and you have, therefore, to value those to begin with. You have to go through a process of re-valuation. Not only that, but there are scores of thousands of ratepayers who will not know whether they are on the right or the wrong side of this three-fourths grant until you have got the valuation. The right hon. Gentleman said he could not get a better word than "primarily." I am not in a position to suggest a better word, but "primarily" is a question of valuation. Before you can decide whether premises are primarily used for distributive purposes, you must get the value, so that you have to go through a process of valuation in order to establish your apportionment.
Then you have the appeals to the assessment committees—an appeal from the ratepayer, an appeal from the officer representing the Treasury, an appeal from the assessment committee up to Quarter Sessions, and an appeal from Quarter Sessions up to the Judge. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer may smile, 'but I am just quoting exactly what was said by his colleague the Minister of Health. He treats with contempt everything that comes from his colleague, but he should not; he should Day more respect to it. 388 If he had listened a little more, he would not have been in this mess now. You appeal then to a Judge, and what did the right hon. Gentleman say yesterday? He said, what was perfectly accurate—and everybody with any experience of this matter knows it—that when the Judge decides a case, he is not deciding that individual case only; his decision may cover scores, if not hundreds and thousands of other cases, so that until you get the judgment of the Courts upon some matters that will arise, you will not be able to get your valuation. You are not going to get your apportionment valuation by the 1st October, 1929. Therefore, you are very wise to put it off till after the General Election. While you are in the position that the need is urgent, you have ingeniously delayed rescue as long as you possibly could, with the cash in the right hon. Gentleman's Docket. He has got the money in his pocket now, bulging.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Like the corn bins that the right hon. Gentleman's friends talk about. It was one of the Chancellor's friends that used them, and I never believed in them after that. When it comes, it will operate badly, and I say to the Minister of Health now—I venture to predict to him—that when he comes face to face with the local authorities, they will not stand it. He will not mind that. What are the proposals? We are criticised, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) was attacked very savagely, and, I think, very questionably, by the Minister of Health about his being misinformed. Whose fault is that? It would be different if we had had the formula, which is to be prepared this month. I shall be very surprised if it is not at the very last week in this month, and probably the very last day in the last week of this month. It is not ready, and that is the reason why it is not out.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That is the advantage of getting a Minister who will really tell you what is happening. But 389 what is this formula? It contains the whole substance of the distribution. Who is to get the money? How is it to be distributed? There is only one thing that we know at present, and that is that the industries that are to be de-rated to the extent of three-fourths are transport and agriculture. That is all that we know. How is the money to be distributed afterwards? It is to be a formula, on the basis of a formula, and that formula not ready. When it is ready, it will be the least ready of all, because it has to he submitted to the local authorities to be reconsidered. We were assured, I think, by the right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary last night, in a speech that I read with great satisfaction—I wish I had been here to listen to it—that it was very possible and very likely that the scheme which went to the local authorities would not be the one that would come out of the mangle, that it would come out in a different form. So it will.
It is a bad scheme, and it will come out different, but what I want to know is why it should he submitted to the local authorities before being submitted to the House of Commons. If you had consulted the local authorities beforehand, and obtained their views on the matter, and come to a conclusion upon the advice they gave you, and then submitted it to the House of Commons, that would have been in accordance with practice, but you first come to the House of Commons and say: "Give us £29,000,000 to spend on rates. We have not a ghost of an idea how we are going to spend it, but we have got a formula, or at least we will have one, when the dog days are over." That is not treating the House of Commons respectfully. We have been trying to get information, but it is like extracting a rotten tooth—every little bit of anything we get out of them—and it is rotten enough. What is the real reason? They are not agreed at the present moment as to distribution. Why do I say that? I have just been reading their speeches. I am really like a man trying to decipher hieroglyphics. I have read the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and re-read it, and read it again, and I have read the speech of his colleague there, to try and find out, with such intelligence as I possess and with 390 some elementary knowledge of rating, and, as far as I can see, there has been a change already.
The first idea, as far as I can see, was this: You are going to take three-fourths off the rates of productive enterprise, and the gap was to be replenished in every local authority area. If you tool £50,000, say, from ore particular area and gave £50,000 relief to productive enterprises there there would be £50,000 less for that area, and there was to be a cheque from the Exchequer to make it up. That was the first impression created; I do not say that that was the first scheme. Why do I say that? The right hon. Gentleman was rather prepared to challenge what my right hon. Friend the Member for Spen Valley said upon that subject, but I will call his attention to what he himself said in the House of Commons in the first speech that he made on this subject:The local authority must be assured that it is not going to he the worse by reason of any lost; of rating value brought about by this scheme."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th April, 1928; col. 1154, Vol. 216.]What that means to an average man is that if you are going to take £50,000 away from the rates paid by a certain section of ratepayers, £50,000 will be paid to that rating authority by the Treasury. There is no other meaning to it. Someone gave to me the brief of the party opposite, "With the compliments of the Conservative and Unionist Central Office, Press Department." It gives the points of this Budget, and it just emphasises the matters to which, they say, attention should he called, and one of the things to which they call attention is this:The relief of productive industry will not involve any additional burden whatever upon the other classes of ratepayers. On the contrary, as it is the intention that the total grants from the National Exchequer should more than cover the compensation to local authorities for their loss of rates and should include an additional grant of now money to inaugurate the system, then will be a large balance of reduction in rates all over the country.What does that mean? If it means anything, it means that in no particular area will the ratepayers be damnified by the proposals of the Government, that so far from there being a reduction as the result of their scheme of operations, 391 whatever it is—formula, this Bill, the Bill that is going to be brought forward in the autumn—so far from there being a loss, they will be better off. The right hon. Gentleman did not say that; he said they would be no worse off. That was the original idea, and that is the way it went out, and how it is expounded on thousands of platforms as the result of these instructions from the Conservative Central Office. That was not the scheme expounded by the right hon. Gentleman yesterday. If I am wrong, he must not blame me. Why does he not give me the formula? I cannot understand it. Let him publish it; let us have a look at it. The right hon. Gentleman says, "That is not the way. I am going to pool all these grants—health grants, assigned revenues, compensation grants, and I am going to re-distribute that amount in accordance with the formula." What does that mean? He said specifically that part of the compensation grant might be withdrawn, that part of the grant might go from other areas to necessitous areas. He is going to take into account population, need, poverty and the burden of rates in a particular area; he is going to take them into account when he comes to re-distribute.
If he does that, there must be areas that will be worse off than they are at the present moment. Otherwise, there are only one or two alternatives. I will give them. The first is that the special grants for the necessitous areas will not be very substantial. But the right hon. Gentleman has used the word "substantial." He said that there will be substantial relief for the necessitous areas—not for the industries there, but for the areas. If it be a small grant, it might very well be within the limit of that £3,000,000 to manipulate it. It will not produce very much of an impression, for the simple reason that he wants to use that for the purpose of equalising the rates when he begins to unify large areas. Not only that, but when he gives a black grant, he knows that year by year there is an automatic growth, and that in a very short time his £3,000,000 will be more than absorbed. So he cannot use that, and I ask him how is he going to give an exceptional grant? I see that Ministers are smiling, but why do they not tell us? How can one in- 392 terpret these smiling answers? Why do they not tell us what it is that they are going to do? My district will be pretty much in the position that hundreds of other districts will be. I can hardly call the district which I represent a necessitous area, but there are hundreds of districts like it that will not come within that description. Where they are at the present moment receiving assigned revenues and health grants, they will have three-quarters of the rates of industries taken away; and if they do not get a cheque for what is lost, the rates in those particular areas will go up.
We are really entitled to know if that is the case. The Ministry have no right to ask for Second Readings of their Finance Bill and their Rating and Valuation Bill in order to carry out a great scheme which they will not condescend to explain to the House of Commons. Where is the money to come from? £3,000,000 is all the money which is to be used for equalisation purposes. That will not do it. What will happen? Let me point out what will happen in areas which are not necessitous—and we ought to thank God that the majority of the areas in this country are not necessitous. There are very bad necessitous areas, but, on the whole, the majority of the constituencies are not in that plight. What would happen in those areas? If any part of these grants are taken away, certain ratepayers will have their rates put up, but there will be other ratepayers more prosperous who will have three-quarters of their rates paid for them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself said that there were prosperous industries, and these are the industries in the prosperous areas which will get £5,000,000 or £6,000,000, and in these very areas there 'will be struggling tradesmen who can hardly make both ends meet; their rates will go up. We are really entitled to know what the Government are proposing.
If the Chancellor of the Exchequer comes in with a bigger grant, in order to fill up that gap, let him say so. Let me point out to him what will force him to give more money: it is that he has committed himself to a vicious principle. It would have been quite unnecessary had it not been for that. I urge the Government to abandon this dilatory, complicated and inequitable plan, and 393 to use the money to carry out the scheme of relieving hard pressed industries; but let them do it with a simple and more direct scheme. They are entitled to ask what I mean, and I am prepared to give the answer. I do not think anybody has the right, when a scheme like this is being discussed across the Floor of the House, not to give the benefit of whatever advice and counsel he has got What I say is that you ought to deal with the urgent evil first, and deal with it urgently. In the main, the urgency of the problem is the Poor Law. If the House will permit me, I will give certain figures which are, I think, very striking, in order to show this. Take the county of Durham. I can take a great many cases from South Wales, but I think that they were quoted yesterday. The growth in outdoor relief in Durham is something which is perfectly appalling. It is the result of unemployment, and of the methods adopted by the Minister of Labour under pressure from the Treasury to drive people from unemployment relief on to the Poor Law. The unemployment benefit is quite inadequate to maintain a family, and therefore men are bound to resort to the Poor Law to save themselves from slow starvation.
See what is happening to the county of Durham. In 1913–14, the whole cost of outdoor relief was £97,861. I have only the figures for 1925–26; they have gone up since, I believe, very considerably. In 1925–26 it was £1,257,000. Unless I am mistaken, it has reached the region of £1,500,000 now. You can take individual cases. Take the case of Gateshead, where in 1913–14 outdoor relief cost only £5,864. In 1925–26 it cost £255,293. In Merthyr Tydvil, the amount spent on relief is larger than the whole of the rate raised. There are two or three cases of that kind in South Wales. They cannot do it within even a rate of, I think, 25s. in the £ and upwards. What do they do? They have to go to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health, who has appointed a Committee to consider the matter, and they are given borrowing powers; and I think that their borrowing runs to something like £12,000,000 or £13,000,000 in those areas. I will not give more figures, but I will give the Chancellor this. He must not get angry when I give him suggestions; I mean it all for his good. If he were to deal with this problem now, with 394 the money he has in his pocket, he would find an automatic method of discriminating between necessitous areas and the rest. Why do I say that? He could work in conjunction with the right hon. Gentleman's Act of 1925—the Rating and Valuation Act. I do not know that that Act established any new principle, but it established a much better method; it clarified certain principles which were established in British law, and it got rid of many entanglements. It provided for a revaluation, and what was happening in that revaluation? I called attention to it before in this House. What was happening in this valuation was this. The hon. Member for East Ham North (Miss Lawrence), who made an exceedingly able speech yesterday, called attention to what was going on. The valuation, there is no doubt, in these depressed areas, is very much too high. What is the principle of valuation? It is the old principle of the Elizabeth Act, and I do not agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it is an antiquated and obsolete idea. It is not at all a bad way of arriving at an assessment, if it is adapted to modern ideas, and the right hon. Gentleman did that fairly well in the Act of 1925. You base your assessment upon the rent which a hypothetical tenant would pay for a colliery, a mill, a factory or a business.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am afraid I cannot enter into an argument with my hon. Friend now. It is the system of the hypothetical rent. You deduct repairs, rates and royalties, and any charges, and then you arrive at the rent which a man can pay for that concern in its present condition of the business.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
What does that mean? It means that if you have got depression in an industry which has been going on for years, that a colliery is not paying, that, a textile factory is not paying, they would not be paying the same rent for it. Therefore, they can get a reduction from an assessment committee under the existing law. I hope I have stated that fairly. That process is going on, as the Minister of Health knows. One great business has had its rateable value reduced from £105,000 to £47,000. I gave the case of Dorman, 395 Long's last time. There are reductions in rateable value varying from 25 per cent. up to 80 per cent., and it is right that there should be. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Health were to apply the cash which is in their possession now—the Chancellor of the Exchequer has, I think, about £15,000,000, with the surplus which he has got over from last year, and even deducting the loss of the kerosene duty he has got somewhere about £11,000,000—if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were to apply that sum of money to taking over the whole burden of outdoor relief and if, in conjunction with that, the Bill of 1925 were allowed to operate, you would automatically reduce the burdens on the necessitous areas from one end to the other. What is still more, where the necessity was greatest, where the burden was heaviest, there would the contribution be the greatest. I do not mean to say that there would not be rich men who would get it, but if you have got a principle which applies to a whole area it is perfectly right that everybody there should have a fair share of it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Brewers?"] Everybody in the necessitous areas. If there is a brewery in a necessitous area, or if there is any other business, and you are going to reduce rates in that area, it is fair that it should share in the reduction. What I object to is reducing the rates of the brewer by three-quarters, and leavin the publican without a penny reduction in his rates. I put it to the two right hon. Gentlemen that they should allow this process to go on, and should apply the principle which will give relief where the burden is heaviest.
Now let me point out the advantages. The first advantage is you could do that immediately, that there would be no loss of time in the necessitous areas. What is the second advantage? The relief would be given fairly. You would also have ample time for your full scheme. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would not have spent all his money; I believe he would have a balance of £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 afterwards, which would enable the Minister of Health to deal with the local authorities. I quite see the force of the Minister's contention that when he goes to the local authorities he must have something with which to bargain. He will not be able to put through his 396 unifying scheme unless, to use a phrase of Mr. Birrell's, he can make it swim in butter. There will be a good many firkins of butter left after the £15,000,000 has already gone. He will have £14,000,000 for the purpose of enabling him to negotiate with the local authorities. There will be immediate relief to the extent of £15,000,000, and £14,000,000 for the purpose of putting through his scheme. I commend that to him. The process of valuation should go on—and it will not go on now. When I said that the assessment committees would not reduce these valuations as long as they knew that three-quarters was to come from the Treasury, the Minister of Health said I was making an unfair attack on assessment committees. I was not. They will be considering their localities. They are not judicial committees, in the ordinary sense of the term. It is a representative committee, which consider all the interests of the locality, and if they know that when they reduce assessments largely they will lose half the grant from the Exchequer they are not going to revalue. The fact of the matter is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has thrown gold sand into the machinery of revaluation, and that is going to stop it. If this suggestion were carried out, he would have his process of revaluation, and the expense would be less upon the Treasury, and, further, he would avoid a sense of injustice as between one ratepayer and another.
Hon. Members laughed about the brewers. They may say what they like, but this will rankle—that you are giving to an industry which makes a profit of £24,500,000, though before the War it was making less than £10,000,000, a sum of £400,000, and are leaving out the distributive trades, leaving out the baker, the grocer and the householder. That is bound to cause a sense of injustice. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was very angry because I referred to Courtauld's firm. I was only referring to it in this sense, that there you have another contrast. There is a great manufacturer—turning out a commodity—doing it with very great success——amassing for his shareholders great fortunes. He has not asked for this—I am not blaming him—I am certainly not making an attack upon him—this is not his idea, it is not 397 his proposal—and he represents shareholders. His concern will get thousands, while struggling tradesmen who are retailing his goods and who can hardly make both ends meet will get nothing. That will create a sense of injustice, of unfairness, whereas if you had a scheme that would operate fairly and under which the money would percolate to the industrial areas, to the necessitous areas, in proportion to their burdens, then it would be felt that at any rate you were acting on a principle which operated quite fairly, and those which stood most in need would not merely get the most but would get it most quickly. The Chancellor of the Exchequer gets very angry because I criticise him. I cannot help it.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Oh, no, you do not; you get very angry. If know the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He digs up my past, forgetting that it is also his own. He talks about Limehouse. Did he hear the specimens of Limehouse read yesterday by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden)? Very good stuff! I call it "Latinised Limehouse." He even introduced the coupon. What on earth have coupons to do with it? Besides, I want to tell him there are hon. Friends of mine here who have a grievance about that. He has none. He was in it. He got the advantage of it. He exhausted its full value for four years, and then, when all the value was exhausted, worked out, he sought his profit elsewhere. He has no right to hurl those things at me. When he comes to strategy—well, the less he says about that the better. I will not carry that any further. He produced a little camera picture of me which I did not quite recognise. He said I acted by instinct, and, I think, agility. Let me tell him that I think it is better to go on instinct than impulse. After all, instinct is a compound of experience and common sense, with a dash of agility. Impulse is all agility, and no common sense. The Chancellor of the Exchequer confounds the two. His impetuosity here has landed his party, has landed the country, in a very difficult position. It has made it difficult for his colleague to negotiate with 398 the local authorities to find out what is the best method. He ought to be free to do it. We have saved him from the kerosene duty. He ought to be grateful to us; and not only that, but he certainly ought to have greater confidence in our counsel when we tell him about the rest. I have predicted to him that he will have to give way about this matter outstanding until 1st October. He will. He will have to give way on that. I am convinced of it. He will have to rive way upon these discriminations—to a very large extent. He can only save himself from these discriminations, which will fetter his colleague, by an enormously larger grant from the Exchequer. I say in all sincerity that in order to settle this urgent problem the House of Commons ought to demand that the Minister of Health should be given a free hand for that purpose, when he comes face to face with the representatives of the great local authorities of this country, who have to deal with these troubles at their own doors.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Sir ROBERT HORNE
I need scarcely say that I shall not venture to intervene in the controversies which arise between my two right hon. Friends. Where two such excellent swordsmen are engaged, it would be a great pity for anybody to interfere to spoil the fight which we all enjoy witnessing. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) on having made a speech on rates which has afforded us some entertainment, and on winding up with a peroration which exhibits a profound conviction as to the demerits of this particular plan. For myself, I am glad of the opportunity to give my support to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to the Minister of Health in the projects which they have put before the House. It is a good thing that this afternoon we have had certain and definite adherence given by my right hon. Friend to what, I think, is now causing some headshakings on the Labour benches. We have had it explicitly stated that action is required in order to reduce rates in this country, because they are a serious burden on industry. My right hon. Friend has recalled that he has in this House frequently drawn attention to the parlous state of our basic industries, 399 and that he has been taking this action for the last few years. On all those occasions it has been my privilege to give him my support, and I am sure that the spirit of conviction which animated his speech must have made the House thoroughly aware of the great difficulties from which our industries are suffering by reason of the heavy burden of the rates.
Accepting that premise of the argument I will ask the House to consider seriously what it is we are required to do. My right hon. Friend has indicated two reasons for dealing with these particular difficulties, and I will suggest two others. In an industrial country like ours, whose whole existence depends upon the prosperity of our trade, surely it is a false principle of rating that we should put a burden on the means of production in our workshops. The extraordinary thing is that the more expensive the equipment you employ for the production of your goods the more highly you are rated, and the greater becomes the burden of the rates on the industry. I think the proposals of the Government will do something to mitigate a difficulty of that kind. There is another difficulty which, I think, we ought to endeavour to meet. We have a system of rating which is very unequal under which some industries are driven away from their natural habitat to other districts where the burdens are less heavy. We ought to do something to get rid of such an anomaly as that. I think the proposals of this Bill will do something to alleviate that trouble.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, however, finds great difficulties in the particular proposals of the Government. I have listened very carefully to what the right hon. Gentleman said, and, as far as I can gather, he has been mainly occupied making prophecies of evil which may never eventuate. In the first part of his speech the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs said that the Minister of Health could by no possibility have his scheme at work within the period allowed for that purpose. I am not prepared, simply upon the ipse dixit of the right hon. Gentleman, to accept that point of view, and I do not feel any wavering courage 400 as to the possibility of putting the Government plan into operation. The right hon. Gentleman laid stress upon the delay that would be caused by difficulties of interpretation. I myself have been frequently concerned in the Law Courts in discussing the meaning of particular phrases in the law dealing with valuation cases. Under the old Valuation Acts I know that there are many things which are as difficult to interpret as anything which appears in the Bill we are discussing, and the Courts of Law are quite capable of dealing with anything which may arise under this Bill when it becomes law, and will be able to clear up any difficulties which may arise.
The next thing upon which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs laid stress was the fact that the Minister of Health was not prepared to bring forward his formula. The right hon. Gentleman is really asking the Government, during the discussion of the second Bill of the series, to produce a formula which arises entirely under the third Bill which we shall see in October. Surely it will be the proper time to deal with that subject when we reach the third Bill, and it seems irrelevant at the present stage to ask for the production of a formula which does not concern the Bill we are discussing. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs is really in too great a hurry, and he has no reason whatever to be in a hurry, because it is only old men who are entitled to be in a hurry. [An HON. MEMBER: "And impulsive."] An hon. Friend of mine suggests that the right hon. Gentleman may be too impulsive in seeking to get that formula now.
The right hon. Gentleman has made an alternative suggestion to the proposals which are contained in this Bill. I do not feel competent to answer my right hon. Friend upon that matter for this reason, that I have only heard it for the first time, and I am not quite sure that I follow what he is proposing. I find difficulty in understanding how the right hon. Gentleman is going to deal with a colliery on his proposed basis of a hypothetical rent, because a colliery is rated to some extent on an output basis, and from that point of view I think the scheme suggested by my right hon. Friend would fail.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I suggested that the present law should be allowed to proceed under the machinery set up by the Act of 1925, which was proposed by the Minister of Health.
§ Sir R. HORNE
On that basis it would take quite as much time to get a readjustment of the valuations as under the scheme we are now considering. My right hon. Friend has not suggested anything which would expedite the relief which we all desire to see put into operation as soon as possible. I feel some sympathy with the point of view that we shall have to wait too long if we delay the whole proceedings until October next. Two nights ago I put forward a point of view, which I regret to find that the Minister of Health entirely misapprehended. He appeared to find some inconsistency in the action which I took during the Budget Debate and what I said a few nights ago. In the Budget Debate I pointed out it was an error to suppose that, owing to the fact that the relief does not come into operation until next October, no benefit would be given meanwhile. I indeed suggested that a certain stimulus would be given to industry by reason of the fact that the relief offered would be anticipated in making large contracts and in obtaining finance, but I never meant to suggest that the result would be as good by anticipation as it would be if the relief were given at once. That is where the Minister of Health misunderstood me.
I proposed two nights ago that there should be given now that relief in railway rates and railway freights which was contemplated to be offered to industries which are overburdened in this country at the present time. In the main these are the coal trade and the iron and steel trade. As I pointed out, I was not then suggesting that the coal carried for ordinary purposes for sheltered trades should obtain the relief, but only that the coal carried for the purposes of iron and steel works and for export should have the reduction in order that the coal trade might receive a stimulus which it so much requires at the present time. How would that work out As far as I can estimate the results, it would mean in the ease of coal for export something like 8d. per ton. Hon. Members are aware that a relief of 8d. per ton on coal 402 at the present time would be an enormous help in competition with our rivals in such markets as the Argentine where we are now competing under the greatest possible difficulties. I think the Minister of Health will now understand the position I have taken up, and I urge the Government to take this question into their most serious consideration, because I believe that in this way we could confer an immediate benefit upon those industries which at the present moment are in a crippled condition and most in need of help.
I pass from what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs has said with this remark. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that of all Bills which could have been produced for this particular purpose this is the worst. That is not a view universally held in his party. I have here a quotation from a letter which Mr. E. D. Simon, the vice-chairman of the Liberal Industrial Inquiry, wrote to the "Manchester Guardian" in which he expressed the conviction that he thought Mr. Churchill is on the right line and has developed an idea which ought to be carried through as against what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs has put before the House. I think that is an opinion to which we may attach some weight.
§ Mr. HARNEY
What Mr. Simon said in his letter was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had recognised the evil and had made proposals in that direction, but he never commended the particular method suggested in this Bill.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I wanted to save the time of the House by summarising the quotation, but as it has now been challenged, I will read the actual quotations from Mr. Simon's letter:Mr. Churchill is to be congratulated on having tackled an exceedingly important problem with characteristic courage vision. Mr. Churchill's speech contains an admirable statement of the unfairness of the present rating system and the main proposal …. is one which should be heartily welcomed by all Liberals.
§ Mr. HARNEY
That quotation precisely bears out my memory of Mr. Simon's words. Mr. Simon commended the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was going to tackle this evil, but 403 he did not say that he commended the method of tackling the problem which is proposed in the Measure we are discussing.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I am glad that I have now got the adherence of the hon. and learned Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) to what I have read, and if he acts on the principle there stated I hope we shall find him in the Lobby along with us. Now I pass to the speech which was made by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Greenwood). As far as I can understand his position it differs from that taken up yesterday by the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer. The hon. Member recognises that changes must be made in the rating system if industry is to make any advance in this country, but he took exception to our particular form of relief for one main reason, which was that our plan while relieving industry does nothing to relieve the householder or the shop owner. So far as I can make out, that was the hon. Member's main contention. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne also complained that prosperous industries were going to be relieved as well as those which were depressed, but he omitted to notice that a large proportion of the money which would be given in relief of rates in the case of prosperous business must come back to the Exchequer in the shape of the Income Tax. Nothing could be more difficult than to attempt to create a distinction between prosperous industries and those which are depressed, am; nothing would be more impossible than to make a discrimination of that kind in a Rating Bill. Just as the hon. Member for Nelson said that it was impossible to define a necessitous area, so I think it will be found to be impossible to make any really accurate definition of the kind of businesses which would obtain this relief if it were sought to follow that method of discrimination.
With regard to the idea that the householder is being badly treated in this matter, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the facts of the situation. The hon. Member for Nelson said that, if the householder were relieved of three-fourths of his rates, it 404 would be a magnificent thing for the country. But how much money would that require? If this relief of rates to the extent of three-fourths were to be spread over the whole area of the Kingdom, it would require £130,000,000, and I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has any theory as to how he is going to raise £130,000,000 for this purpose. The suggestion is so fantastic that I do not think one need worry very long over it, but I should like to add that the householder in the end gets a part of the great benefits that industry obtains from a relief of rates. Suppose that the situation is, as my right hon. Friend said, that many industries are struggling and may go out of being if their condition continues as it is at the present time. The problem for the householder is whether he would like to have relief as regards his rates and no employment, or whether he would like to see industry relieved in order that he may get employment; and, under this alternative, I cannot imagine any citizen of this country giving any but one answer. He is going to reply, "Do something for the industry on which my livelihood depends, and from which I obtain the employment which sustains me and my family in life." Accordingly, it seems to me that that class of argument completely fails.
A very different speech was made from the Labour Front Bench yesterday. As far as I personally am concerned, it was a speech which attacked me with a ferocity which is really unusual, even for a person whose language is not generally very amiable in criticism. Personally, I think that there is nothing so withering in public life as not to be noticed at all, and accordingly I welcome the attentions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden), even though in passing he does not give you a friendly wave of his hand, but rather takes the line of throwing a knife after you. He said of me that I was a contemptible spectacle as a business man coining into this House, as I did two nights ago, to ask for assistance in my business. That is the picture that he put before the House.
§ Sir R. HORNE
He did not quite say that, but it is a pity that this misappre- 405 hension should be fermenting in the tormented breast of the right hon. Gentleman, and it is right that I should relieve him. In point of fact, I am not here in formâ pauperis, as he said, to ask for benefit for any industry with which I am concerned. None of the businesses with which I am concerned is in any difficulty at all. What I did was to venture to appeal for the sympathy of the House for the great basic industries of this country, of which I named three —coal, iron and steel, and shipbuilding, in none of which am I personally concerned—and I do not think that any of these industries deserve the derision which was heaped upon them by the right hon. Gentleman. I should have expected from him some sympathy with these industries in the condition in which they are, but there was no sympathy in his heart. He ventured to suggest—in fact, he did more than suggest, he stated—that this was the cry of the private establishments, private enterprise having failed—
§ Sir R. HORNE
So far from its being true, the situation is this. The private enterprises in this country are suffering more than anything else from the burdens which the State has been piling upon them year after year, until they are now bearing a load which is incomparably greater than is borne by industry in any other country that is their competitor. Their situation to-day is due to the fact that they are suffering in this way, and not to the considerations about which the right hon. Gentleman talked; and the people who are filching their trade away are not Socialistic countries, but other private establishments in other countries where the conditions of industry are easier. The only Socialistic country that I know of which is conducting business is Russia, and the only export trade that the Russians can really maintain with success is a trade in oil, which they have made successful by having stolen all the money that has been spent in developing those fields.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that what these industries to which I have referred were suffering from was incompetence and mismanagement. I am not going to say that any business in this country is perfectly managed, or that you could not find some reason for criticism, 406 but, when people begin to look at the condition of these industries, and say that their equipment is out of date, and that if you go to America or Germany you see machinery which is much more efficient, they forget that the main reason why the equipment of industry is not so good in this country is that we have taken away so much of the resources of these companies by the burdens imposed upon them that they have no money to spend upon it. The right hon. Gentleman finished his speech with a statement that the industries of this country were coming here to take money out of other people's pockets. Who are the other people? It is very like the right hon. Gentleman to imagine industry as something apart from the life of the country, contributing nothing to its support and benefit; but what is the reason for the prosperity of this country? Why are we even in the position in which we stand to-day? Is it not because of the work of industry in the past, and the money which it has contributed to the State? When it is said that industry is coming here to pick someone else's pockets, I ask, whose pockets? Is it the pockets of the professional politician? Are those the pockets that industry is to pick?
The real fact is that industry is only coming here to ask for a slight relief out of the vast sums, the overwhelming sums, which it has contributed in the past to the country. I have not the slightest doubt that, when my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health goes into the figures he mill be able to show that, in comparison with what has been done for industry by local authorities, industry has in face been very much over-rated, and that on general merits alone, apart from the present time of depression, something should be taken off its burdens. The right hon. Gentleman says that the rates form no burden. His words are as explicit as anything could be. It is true that a hedging speeds has been made to-day by the hon. Member for Nelson, but here is what the right hon. Gentleman said:First of all as to the burden of rates. There are few things about which more nonsense is talked than about the burden of rates. Rates are not in themselves a burden at all.I venture to say—
§ Sir R. HORNE
Perhaps hon. Members will allow me to make my speech in my own way. I venture to say that that is a complete change from everything that the Labour party has been advocating for a number of years. One thinks of the deputations from trade unions on this question of rates. There was one not very long ago from the miners of South Wales, asking for a relief of rates as a first necessity. Innumerable speeches have been made in this House in my hearing by Labour Members in which the same proposal has been reiterated times without number, and I venture to say that, if my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition went through his speeches during the last three years, he would find constant repetition of the statement that rates are a far greater burden than taxes in this country, and that the first thing to do is to get the rates down. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley, no doubt, went on to say that the incidence is wrong, but how does he propose to cure that? [Interruption.] I will read the passage if hon. Members desire it.
§ Sir R. HORNE
Here is what the right hon. Gentleman said:When people opposite talk about the burden of rates, when at meetings of the Federation of British Industries"—
§ Sir R. HORNE
Am I to read all the speech? [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman said:What constitutes the so-called burden of rates"—I am reading the passage from where I left off—What constitutes the so-called burden of rates, as I believe I said yesterday, is the unfair incidence. I might take an analogy between indirect and direct national taxation. Some of our national taxes fall with much heavier weight upon certain classes than they do upon others. That is what is wrong with our local rating system. The incidence is not equal. It is not fair.I want to know how the right hon. Gentleman is going to cure the unfairness.The burden of rates falls with different weight upon different classes of local ratepayers.408 Supposing that it does, does that in any way dispute the fact that rates are a burden upon industry? He went on:I say that it is nonsense to talk about the burden of rates as rates. Rates are just as much an essential part of the costs of production as wages, and far more so than rent."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th June, 1928; cols. 195–6, Vol. 218.]I agree with that view, but what I wish to ask hint is this. Perhaps, as a single taxer, his reply will be enlightening. Does he say that an increase of rent is a burden upon industry? He says that rates are a heavier cost than rent. I ask him, if rents are increased, is not that a burden upon industry? Is not the main contention that comes from the benches opposite that rents must be relieved in order that industry may prosper? If rates are worse for industry than rents, obviously the case with regard to rates is proved out of the right hon. Gentleman's own mouth. These burdens must be admitted by everybody at the present time in this country to represent an enormous increase in costs. I am putting it like that in order to put it to the right hon. Gentleman in the way that he wishes. They represent an enormous increase in costs, which comes into the price, and makes it more difficult to compete with others who have not these high costs. Accordingly, it is obvious, however you express it, that rates form a very great burden on the industry of this country, and the higher they are the greater is the cost of running our industries. Surely, that will be accepted by everyone in this House, no matter where they sit.
If the House will forgive me for just three more minutes, I wish to put into proper perspective the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. He asks what will be the benefit of this scheme. Take the case of coal, which is one of the depressed industries. The average rates on coal amount, he says, to only 3d. per ton over the whole country, and he asks how it would relieve any distress to take off three-fourths of that. That is the most fallacious way in which that question could be put, and for this reason, that, if you take the average, it means that there are some people whose rates are below 3d. per ton of coal, and others whose rates are much higher, and if you look at the higher—[Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman asks, what is the 409 good of remitting rates which amount to 3d. per ton of coal? I say it is this, that the cases where the rates are below 3d. per ton are in districts in which unemployment is not severe, in which, indeed, there may be none at all; while the cases in which the rates are high are where the district is depressed, and in depressed districts these rates represent to-day as much as 11d. per ton of coal. While three-fourths of a rate below 3d. is, I agree, of very little moment in the price of coal, if you take three-fourths of 11d. you get a figure of 8d. per ton, which is a very material factor.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
Will the right hon. Gentleman give the districts where the rates are as high as 11d.?
§ S it R. HORNE
I have no doubt I can get the information. It was given by the President of the Board of Trade on the second day of the Budget Debate. The precise figure was 10¾d. As soon as you come to look at what is being done under the Bill, you see that in the districts where depression is great, and where the rates form the greatest factor in the price, you will do a great service in relieving that rate.
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned steel, and said, what is the good of helping steel by a remission of rates? The figure the President of the Board of Trade gave with regard to the amount in the price of steel that was represented by the rates was 4s. 1d. a ton. I think that is rather a low figure, but, even taking it at 4s. 1d. on the average, a remission of 3s. in the ton on steel is quite a factor at present. But, of course, it is a far bigger thing when you come to the depressed districts, because there are districts where the rate applicable to the price of a ton of steel has gone up by 17s. to 18s., and if you take three-quarters of that you are obviously getting to a point where it may make all the difference whether you get a contract or whether you do not. The right hon. Gentleman said the reason why in some districts the amount of the rates to the price of a ton of steel was very high was because the output was low, and I perfectly agree, but why is the output low? It is because of the difficulty of getting orders, and the orders are not coming because the prices are too high, and the prices are high because the rates are high, and the 410 more you bring down the rates the more chance you have of getting orders. I therefore entirely fail to understand the point of view of those who, like the right hon. Gentleman, come to the House and say—whet her he is prepared or not now to say he meant something different from the precise expression he used—that rates are no burden on industry, but the whole line of his argument, and all the illustrations I have given, show that what he was endeavouring to prove was that it was not worth while to do what we are proposing to do. I take exactly the contrary point of view, and I shall be prepared with the greatest possible confidence to go to any of the districts that are suffering at present and put the right hon. Gentleman's point of view to them as to whether it is one in which they would have any confidence or which they would support. I only wish to say further that I know a spectacle more contemptible than a business man trying to tell the House of Commons what he honestly believes about the state of trade, and that is a politician who turns his back upon everything his party has been saying for the last two years because he fears that the proposals contained in these projects are going to endanger his political prospects.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
The Measure we are now discussing is the Government's prescription for private enterprise in industry in its present desperate situation. The right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House has followed the example of other speakers in assuring us that private enterprise can scarcely be relied on to exist unless it receives relief before October, 1929. The patient is evidently in a desperate situation, and he told us two evenings ago that unless the relief came earlier than October, 1929, it might be too late. To-day he has tried to obliterate the impression he left on the House when he last addressed it, because he told us that if private enterprise were only given a chance by the State, and got assistance from the State, it would still prove what a wonderful instrument it is in bringing about national prosperity.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I know the right hon. Gentleman does not intend to misrepresent me, but I have said nothing different from what I said two nights ago. I suggested that relief should be granted 411 immediately to coal, iron and steel, and I still hold that view. I am not now asking anything in the way of assistance from the State. All I am saying is that the industries that are at present depressed should be relieved of the undue burdens put upon them by the State, which is a totally different thing.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
The right hon. Gentleman said two evenings ago that unless relief were given to our basic industries before October of next year, the relief might be too late to save those basic industries. He tells us to-day that all that these basic industries require is to have removed from them a few of the burdens they have to bear by the action of the State. For instance, he talked largely of steel and he referred frequently to coal, and he said the burdens on these industries were incomparably greater than they are in any other country. Those were his words. Let me remind him of some of the burdens that are on the industries in this country which are not on those in competing countries. He has reminded us that local rates place a burden of 4s. 1d. a ton on steel. He has not told us that debenture interest, which has not to be paid either in France or Belgium, our principal competitors, places a burden of 6s. a ton on the steel of this country. When he came to deal with coal he reminded us that the burden placed by local rates, on the average, on a ton of coal was 3d. He referred to some districts in which it was much greater. He represents a constituency in Scotland. The burden of local rates on coal in Scotland amounts only to 1¾d. a ton and the royalties, which even his own party condemn in moments of enthusiasm and industrial crisis, amount on the average to 6d., which is double the burden placed on the coal industry by local rates.
I want to deal to some extent with the speech of the Secretary of State for Scotland. It is really remarkable that, like the speech of the Minister of Health, the speech of the Secretary of State for Scotland displayed no enthusiasm for the Measure before the House. He gave us a certain amount of information on the different system of rating in Scotland from that which obtains in England. It was his duty to enlighten the House on what has been and is being done in Scotland in the direction it is proposed to 412 take under the operations of this Measure. To some extent what is now being proposed has been tried in Scotland and has failed. We have the classification of industries under the Act of 1926, and we have a system of relieving industry. In Glasgow, at any rate, we have proceeded in this direction much more scientifically, if I might use a word that was bandied about a good deal yesterday, than is proposed in the Government scheme. We have relieved the rates where relief was most needed. In Scotland the steel trade is one of the industries that suffer most, and in Glasgow we have given the greatest amount of relief to the steel industry. The right hon. Gentleman did not inform the House that the steel trade in Glasgow is already relieved of local rates to the extent of 30 per cent., nor did he tell us —and it is essential that we should know this—what is proposed to be done with these reductions which have been made in the assessments in Glasgow when the present scheme comes into operation. For instance, a workshop engaged mainly in the manufacture of steel or wrought iron products has its valuation reduced by 30 per cent., which is equal to having its rates reduced by 30 per cent. The proposal in this Bill is that there should be a relief of rates to the extent of 76 per cent. You cannot have a relief of rates to the extent of 30Ter cent. plus 75 per cent., because that figure would amount to 105 per cent. are we to give them social services for nothing and change back? That is really the proposal as it appears to be just now. What I want to know, as a representative of Glasgow—and I think the right hon. Gentleman might have invited the information—is whether the 30 per cent. is to continue when the 75 per cent. comes into operation.
But the point I want to make is, that no one on the other side has claimed that the steel industry in the West of Scotland has substantially improved since the 30 per cent. relief of rates was granted. As a matter of fact, I should say the condition of the steel trade is much worse to-day than it was before this abatement was made. We are told by the Government and their supporters that a 75 per cent. remission in rates will put the steel trade on its feet in a healthy and strong position, but the fact remains that the 30 per cent. has 413 not even enabled it to rise from its sick bed. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) does not believe that an additional 45 per cent. reduction in local rates will have the desired effect. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has already admitted that not more than £20,000,000 of the sum to be voted under this Bill will reach the struggling industries. I think few people will agree with him that even £20,000,000 will get to where assistance is most required. For the purpose of argument, I am prepared to agree that £30,000,000, to make it a round figure, will reach the productive industries of this country. Even if the whole sum does reach them, it cannot possibly make any appreciable impression upon the situation with which we are confronted at the present time.
What does this relief to the extent of £30,000,000 mean? The object is to reduce the costs of production, in order that we may be able to compete more successfully with our foreign rivals in the markets of the world. The costs of production have been reduced enormously during the past seven years. The wages bill alone has been reduced by £600,000,000 per annum. No one on the opposite side of the House will deny that wages are part of the costs of industry. To an extent of £600,000,000 a year the costs of industry have been reduced since 1920. We have in this country, speaking from memory, something like 12,000,000 workers who are under the insurance scheme. Their average reduction in wages during the seven years amounts to 20s. a week. The £600,000,000 taken from 12,000,000 people represents 20s. a week, each. The amount that is proposed to be granted, £30,000,000, is equal only to 1s. per week per insured person, and this House and the country are seriously asked to believe that where 20s. a week reduction in costs has failed to put industry on its feet, if you will only make the 20s. into a guinea, all will be well. Is it not a well known fact, and do not the discussions in this House, if nothing else, emphasise it, that industry has been going from bad to worse and every shilling taken from the costs of production has not during these seven years revealed any improvement in consequence? Are we seriously to be asked to believe that industry, which could not 414 revive by the process of taking 20s. from each worker per week, is going to be assured or a healthy and happy existence if we will only add another 1s. to the amount of relief?
The economic case showing the futility of this scheme is even stronger. The £30,000,000 that is to be granted is being provided by the State. Where will the State get the £30,000,000? From the taxpayers. Where will the taxpayers get the £30,000,000? They will get it from industry. There is no place else from which the £30,000,000 can be taken, and the House of Commons is seriously considering a scheme which proposes to relieve industry by taking £30,000,000 from it and handing back that £30,000,000. We are to relieve industry by a grant of £30,000,000 and the £30,000,000 is to be taken from industry itself. Seriously considered, the proposals only arouse a feeling of contempt in the minds of intelligent people. It is a mere matter of financial jugglery. We are asked to believe that with these millions being dangled before industry, somehow or other in 1930 or 1931 the terrible industrial problem that faces the country is to be relieved.
Compare what is being done here with what happened when industry was relieved to the extent of £600,000,000 on its wages bill. That £600,000,000 was a real grant to industry. That £600,000,000 was not given by the State. It was taken out of the stomachs of the workers and the stomachs of the dependants of the workers. They did not place a burden upon industry for the purpose of assisting industry. That £600,000,000 went as a free gift—if I may use the term of "free gift," to something that was taken forcibly from the poor—to industry, and industry was not taxed to repay in any way the losses to the working classes in respect of the £600,000,000 that had been taken. While the £600,000,000 which was given as a free gift to industry has not saved the basic industries from deterioration, the £30,000,000 which we are considering to-day is to be taken from industry in taxation because we are giving that sum to industry by way of subsidy.
The scheme is, obviously, a fraud, its promoters are either knaves or fools and the speeches that are being made in its support are sheer humbug. I have ad- 415 mitted, for the sake of argument, that the £30,000,000 will go to industry. It has been largely demonstrated to-day and on previous days that a very large hart el the money will never reach the necessitous workshops. Therefore, I will not pursue that line of argument. I will try to bring the House back to the statement made by the Secretary of State for Scotland. In Scotland we have a different system of rating from that which obtains in England and Wales. As the right hon. Gentleman told the House roughly speaking, one-half of the rates are paid by the occupier and one-half by the owner. I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that the remission of 75 per cent. of owners' rates would be done in a way that would ensure that the relief would reach the tenant, but he qualified that statement by saying, "during the existence of the present leases." That means that if in regard to a workshop in Scotland—an important part of this point is that it applies largely if not entirely to small employers of labour and to people who have the greatest need of relief—the actual building is owned by one person and occupied by a manufacturer and the lease expires three months after this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament, the 75 per cent. remission in rates granted to the property owner will not, so far as I could understand the Secretary of State for Scotland, reach the manufacturer for whom it is intended.
If I am wrongly interpreting the right hon. Gentleman's statement, I am sorry, and I will gladly give way for correction, but, as I understood him, when the present]eases or tenancies expire, the 75 per cent. remission of rates given to the property-owners as property-owners, not as manufacturers, will not go, by the terms he intends to insert in this Bill, to the manufacturer. That means that in all probability a considerable amount of this relief, as far as it is intended for small manufacturers, will go not to the small manufacturers, but will go into the pockets of the property-owners. How can any section of the House justify a proposal such as that? In Scotland we have long leases in land compared with England, but we have short leases in property, compared with England. In very many cases these little 416 workshops are held on annual tenancies, and in the majority of cases, at the best, they are from three to five years. Consequently, these leases are continually expiring, and as they expire the money that is being voted by this House for the aid of our necessitous industries will more and more find its way into the pockets of the property-owners. We are only wasting our time in this House in dealing with quack remedies for what is really a dangerous situation.
The remedies that have been proposed by the Government, if they are examined, are all directed towards improving production. Take the Mines (Eight Hours) Bill. The idea was that if we could improve production in this country, we could settle the difficulties of the coal trade. The scheme now before us is in the same direction. The whole idea is that if we can only improve production, somehow or other we shall remove the problem of employment from the path of the industrial population of this country. That is an entirely wrong diagnosis of the industrial disease. There is nothing seriously wrong with production. Our powers of production are improving by leaps and bounds. I am told that in the steel trade, which the right hon. Gentleman is so fond of quoting, we are per man turning out 50 per cent. more than we turned out in 1913. How, then, can it be said that the problem that is facing us to-day is the problem of production, when our powers of production are improving marvellously? If you turn in any direction you find the most wonderful improvement in the power per man of producing goods. Our difficulty to-day is not production, and yet scheme after scheme is submitted to this House to provide a remedy for production, as if it were applicable to the present industrial situation.
What we are troubled with is the lack of an adequate market for the goods that we produce. While our power of production is expanding, our power of selling goods is actually contracting. While we can turn out per man 50 per cent. more than we did in pre-War times, we cannot sell per man as much as we could sell in pre-War times. Unless the Government and all sections of this House realise that that is the real situation, we may land in chaos and arrive at a state that will 417 be disastrous to the country. It must be realised that it is markets that we want, if we propose to remedy the present industrial situation. We must view the matter from that standpoint. We want Measures that will attack the problem from that point, and attack it nationally and internationally, instead of this House devoting its time to these piffling proposals to relieve industry. Instead of it wasting its time in that way, if it devoted its time to a consideration of the best method of increasing the purchasing power of the people, the best method of increasing the world's purchasing power and the best method of preserving ourselves in a competitive system in the wonderful new and complicated situation which has arisen in recent years, then the country would have sound reason to be grateful to this House. But a Measure such as this, while it may to the ignorant mind seem something in the direction of relief, can only bring depression on the minds of the intelligent people, who are, after all, the people on whom this country must mainly rely. We are doing nothing here to improve our market, and it is an improvement of our market that is needed. Until we turn our minds, our brains and energies in that direction what possible hope is there for an escape from our difficulties? How can the right hon. Member for Hillhead argue that if we could really turn out a little more per man employed in the steel and coal trade, in that way the prosperity of this country would be assured? The only argument one can use in favour of that view is that, if you cheapen production in this country, you will be able to capture more orders in the limited markets of the world. Have you not tried that to an extent impossible under the present proposals? Have you not reduced the cost of production by £600,000,000 a year? Was not the only reason ever given for reducing the wages of the workers in this country, that it would enable you to sell cheaper in the markets of the world, would oil the wheels of industry, would absorb the unemployed and would restore us to the path of prosperity, on which it was alleged we were treading in pre-War years? That argument prevailed and you gave industrial relief to the extent of 418 £600,000,000 a year. Yet industry is worse off to-day than in 1920.
What happened? Only what you would, as intelligent people, expect inevitably to happen. Your rivals were compelled to follow your example. If your market was not extended, if there were no fresh consumers created by your policy, then you could only absorb your million unemployed by creating a million unemployed somewhere else, and the countries in which you have created a million unemployed have been driven by self-preservation to follow your methods. When you bring down wages, they bring clown wages. As far as your relativity in competition is concerned, you are exactly where you began. If you could not by reducing costs beat them with £600,000,000, how in Heaven's name do you hope to touch the situation at all with a further £30,000,000? If it does touch the situation, will they not have to do exactly the same thing? If you relieve your industries of rates and in that way give £30,000,000 to industry, will they not be compelled to relieve their industries of rates and thereby give their industries 30,000,000?
You have succeeded in reducing the purchasing power of the world, in diminishing the already limited market, and in creating a situation that is much worse than when you began to tackle it at all. That seems to me so clear, so obvious, that I cannot understand even people on the other side of the House failing to recognise it. What has happened? There are 1,000,000 unemployed. You are accepting them in your legislation as a permanent burden on industry. If your local rates are a burden on industry, your million unemployed are a burden on industry. Your unemployed rich are a burden on industry. Every penny worth consumed by every person, rich or poor, in this country must come from industry, and to that extent the consumer is a burden upon the industry of this country. You have 1,000,000 people unemployed, and you must have millions of people underworking because they are afraid of unemployment, afraid to put their backs into a job—except under the direct pressure of a boss—for fear that they should put themselves out of a job and in the ranks of the unemployed. You must have a great deal of that. The great managers 419 of industry, too, are not concentrating on the business of improving production, because their minds are engaged in trying to find markets for the goods they produce to-day. I know some of them. I know a manager of one of the large concerns on the Clyde who tells me that, instead of devoting his mind to management, he has to run to Birmingham and elsewhere to try to get an order or two for a few boilers.
All the intelligence of even your captains of industry is being wasted and dissipated because you are not facing this problem from the point of view of a market instead of production. It is not merely the workers who are losing in this. You are losing your capital, and you are bound to lose your capital unless this problem is solved. What is the value of the shares of some of these large industrial concerns in the West of Scotland? The right hon. Member for Hillhead would tell us that you can buy a 20s. share in Beardmore's firm for a few shillings. What does that mean? If the shares, which originally were 20s., are standing at 5s., it means that the shareholders in Beardmore's have already lost three-quarters of their capital. How long will it take them to lose the other quarter of their capital if things go on as they are to-day?
It does not only apply to Beardmore's and to the industry with which Beardmore's are connected. It applies to the coalfields of South Wales and Durham, and to every one of what are called the necessitous areas. We have a situation, then, of our workers being unemployed to the number of 1,000,000, a changing multitude, not always the same million but 1,000,000 people going in and out of the ranks of the unemployed, enduring poverty and enduring what is worse than poverty, hopelessness in outlook and in the future for their children. They have to endure that. There seems to be no way out of the difficulty. Other millions are working day by day not sure of what to-morrow will bring, doubtful whether their energies are not applied to their own injury, management being wasted, capital being lost, and all because, out of sheer prejudice, out of a foolish attachment to an obsolete economic system, the intelligence of this country refuses day by day to face the situation in an intelligent way.
420 In the highest sense of the term this should not be a political question at all. It is a national question, because what is happening here is going on in every industrialised part of the world, and if we are to avoid a crash, a catastrophe, then we will have to apply our intelligence to this very serious national problem. I agree with the right hon. Member for Hillhead that, unless we hurry up, we may be too late. But he is calling for the wrong medicine, because he has never been able to diagnose the disease. We may be accused of wishing for the destruction of capitalism and of capitalists, but before capitalism goes down or capitalists are obliterated, we want to see something in their place. Capitalism is collapsing to-day because of the operation of the system on which it is based, and the people who are witnessing that collapse are using all their power and influence to prevent us, while there is yet time, from putting in its place a system which will enable our country to continue even a moderate standard of prosperity.
What is going to happen in my constituency if Beardmore's is compelled through your competitive system to shut its gates next year, and to throw thousands of my people on the streets of Parkhead without any place in which there is hope for them to earn their daily bread? Am I not entitled to be anxious about this problem? It is not an economic one, it is no question of intellectual theories, but of life and death for thousands of men and women in the constituency I represent in this House. Knowing that, knowing the futility of this Measure, I am justified in saying that it is a waste of time, a, display of intellectual inbecility, that we should be here this afternoon discussing a Measure which is entirely useless for the purpose for which it is intended.
§ Mr. FIELDEN
As a considerable portion of the Bill under discussion deals with the rating and assessment of railway companies, it may be perhaps appropriate that I should ask the House to grant me a few minutes to put the position of the railway companies in this matter. The principle of this Measure is one that is agreed to entirely by the railway companies, but the machinery that is proposed to bring about the assessment is such that we have some doubt in our minds as to whether it will 421 prove efficient and will bring about the result that is aimed at in a sufficiently short time to be really available. The object is to fix the basis of relief of certain classes of hereditaments from local rates, and it is provided that the proporties in question shall be distinct from others and valued separately. The provisions as to valuation are detailed and complicated, and would cost much time and much expense to work out. This rather nullifies the idea that the relief to railways should be rapidly passed on to the traders. The whole question of railway rating is in the melting-pot. The Bill of]925 contained provisions for rating of railways on a cumulative principle. These proposals were withdrawn, and it was understood that a measure would subsequently be introduced dealing with that question. The matter has been under consideration, and I believe a large measure of agreement has already been reached.
The proposals in the present Bill for a detailed valuation of particular hereditaments seem to conflict with the idea of the accumulated valuation. It is a fairly easy thing to separate the value of a building and the value of the land attached to that building or on which that building stands. But, when you come to divide the building itself into separate parts and say this belongs to transportation and that belongs to ware- housing, you come to a condition of things on which it is very difficult indeed to reach a conclusion. There is no doubt that the present proposals will, if they are to be carried out successfully, take a great deal of time and will also cause a, very great deal of expense. The railway companies, therefore, desire to reserve the right to propose Amendments in Committee which may be of a fundamental character after they have had a further opportunity of considering the effects of the Bill.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I do not propose to go into the various details of the Measure which is before the House, because what I would like to say has been well and eloquently said. If I were assured and convinced that this Measure would really relieve industry, I should be one of the first to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman and follow him into the Division Lobby. In my opinion, the relief to industry ought not to be made 422 to apply to the employers and manufacturers. The real relief to industry ought to be applied to the rank and file of the producers, those who receive wages. After all the eloquence and all the time that has been spent in discussing this Bill, I am still unconvinced that a solitary workman engaged in industry will receive any benefit from these proposals. I contend that it cannot reasonably be said that the Bill is for the relief of industry. We have just had evidence of the direction in which the minds of His Majesty's Government and their supporters travel. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Exchange Division of Manchester (Mr. Fielden) gave eloquent evidence of this. He candidly and honestly told us that he is in this House to promote the interests of the railway companies. He made a bold and most brutal statement, that he was instructed by the railway companies to come here and put their case. I want to ask the hon. Member whether he is convinced that, if the railway companies get all they ask, it will in any way affect a single man employed on the railways with regard to increasing his purchasing power. If I could be convinced of that, I should have no hesitation, as I said before, in supporting this Bill. Everything that has been said by Members on the opposite side has convinced me to the contrary. What amazed and surprised me more than anything else was the flippant manner in which the real source of the relief of industry was passed over by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health.
We want to relieve the rates and to relieve localities. I want as far as possible to avoid repetition, but I must hark back to one question—the rating of land values. It has been generally discussed in this House, and I have never heard an intelligent answer in opposition to it. I want to give a case in point. It is one that occurs to me, and one with which I am perfectly well acquainted. My right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) gave an instance where land was brought for the purpose of railway construction at £1,000,000 per acre. It is within my recollection that the neighbourhood where £1,000,000 were paid for an acre of land 423 was semi-rural sixty years ago, and that the full agricultural value of the land at 20 years purchase was not more than £80 per acre. Not long ago we paid £350 per square yard for land to make an opening for the tunnel, and the same land in 1835 was only worth, on an annual agricultural valuation, £4 per acre. The annual rateable value of Liverpool—I cannot give the exact figures—amounts to something like £4,000,000. The total land values increased by the industry of the employers and the workmen of Liverpool who are so fined in local rates is unknown, but, estimated on a similar basis, it is about £30,000,000. I will put Liverpool next to Glasgow and call it £20,000,000, if you like, and that is a very modest estimate to make. Two shillings in the £ off taxation on £20,000,000 in respect of land which was originally only worth about £80 per acre would reduce the taxation of Liverpool by 50 per cent. Employers would he able to give better terms, better wages and provide better houses for workmen if they were relieved of the local rates.
Not very long ago in connection with the extension of the city a narrow strip of land no wider than this Chamber was required from the estate of a Noble Lord in order to lay down a line of tramways on grass. The area did not amount to more than three acres. The annual value of the land was something like £3 per acre, but for that narrow strip of land, in order to lay the lines on grass, we had to pay £7,000. The extension of the tramways created a demand for land on either side, and the annual value of that land, which was only £3 or £4 per acre, is now nearly £1,500. The people of that city have created this enormous wealth, and they are taxed to the extent of £4,000,000 a year for having done so, and the people who have received the benefit of the united work of the community do not pay one brass farthing in local rates. If you want to relieve local rates, here is your opportunity. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his usual characteristic manner, told us that this principle had been tried and failed in Henry George's day. The right hon. Gentleman forgot to tell the House that the reason why Henry George had failed 424 was because he lived in the time when men were influenced by:God bless the Squire and his relations,They keep us in our proper stations.It was the big power of the landowners of this country. I am not complaining of the landowners individually. Some of them are among my best friends. It is the system that exists to-day that I am condemning and not the men who have simply inherited the evil. If I had time, and I do not want to delay the House any longer, I could give glaring cases where, in connection with extensions to the docks, the Dock Board have had to pay no less than £80,000 before they could put a spade and a barrow upon the seashore. The Dock Board consequently charge heavy dock and harbour dues to the shipowner who, being in addition heavily taxed locally and imperially, naturally to keep afloat is heavily handicapped. If you are seriously inclined to relieve local rates here is a source where you can begin, because without the taxation of land values everything else is absolutely a waste of effort. I cannot understand why this thing has been shelved. It has been said that it has been tried and that it has failed. It has never been been tried. It has been said that the machinery was created to deal with this question. It was only coquetting with it. We never got to the kernel of the whole business.
The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) put the case years ago; I knelt at his feet in the valleys of North Wales and heard him put the case at that time of the tragic quarry dispute which lasted seven months when the man who claimed to own the mountains exploited their bowels at the expense of the workmen. To-day the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) has pointed out how heavy is the burden of local rates on each ton of steel produced. The local rate is a charge of 4s. per ton on every ton of steel, but compare that with the charge of 6s. per ton which a royalty landlord exacts on every ton of manufactured steel. It is ridiculous and absurd to say that the relief of rates which will go to the steel manufacturer under this Bill, but which will never reach the operatives in the industry, is going to be any good. There is only one solution; it may be sneered at, and that is the taxation of 425 land values. Everything we want in the way of food, everything we wear, comes from the land, and although the employers may risk their capital and the employés their lives, the man who owns the land and does nothing whatever to increase its value, gets off scot free and does not pay one brass farthing to local rates. There is no other permanent way of relieving industry.
§ Sir HARRY HOPE
As a Scottish Member I want to express my wholehearted support of this Bill. The hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton) commenced by saying that he did not think a single workman would gain by the passage of this Measure. The industries of this country are the foundation of its prosperity, and if they suffer, if by reason of the great weight of burden of local taxation they are rendered unable to compete successfully with the industries of other countries, how are the workmen to find employment and how are they to be paid good and proper wages? Unless we do something to remove this dead weight burden of local taxation and free our industries, this nation is doomed. As unemployment increases the weight of the burden becomes all the heavier. We get a vicious circle. Unemployment creates unemployment and, therefore, any serious attempt to relieve the industries of this country of some of their burdens, is entitled to get general support.
As regards one of our basic industries, agriculture, it is the one with which I have the closest and most direct personal connection, and I say that agriculture in Scotland welcomes this Bill. If it becomes an Act it will give more encouragement to owners to maintain and keep up their improvements. It is a fallacy to think, as the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs does, that the owners of land are now unable to maintain the burden of reasonable upkeep. No doubt there are many estates in what might be called an impoverished condition, but yet on the whole it is wonderful what reviving power there is in land ownership. A man dies and the estate passes into the hands of his successor, who may have gone into industry or one of the professions and made money. He is thereby able to keep up what used to be done on the estate. In some cases the owner, as they say, marries money, or comes into money, 426 and from my own personal experience I say that throughout Scotland the number of estates whose owners are unable to maintain the burden of reasonable upkeep is not large. This Bill will enable this good work to proceed much better, and as it proceeds we shall have a general improvement in agriculture.
With regard to the date when this Bill is to come into force we all recognise that there are great difficulties in putting the date forward. Industries will have to be classified, and there are other difficulties to meet. I do not think, however, that that difficulty applies with quite the same force to agriculture, and if the money is available I should like to see agriculture get the benefits of this Bill a little sooner than the date proposed. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs has argued that shops and houses should benefit under the proposal. I think that dwellers in houses will benefit, because if they live in any district which is hardly hit by rates, if the industries in which they work are relieved of this burden and employment is made more profitable, whether made more constant or wages increased, the occupiers of those houses will very directly benefit by the passing of the Measure. Then with regard to shops. As more money circulates, first by being earned in these industrial districts, that money will certainly circulate through the shops and, indirectly, there will be great benefit indeed coming to the occupiers of houses and shops in those districts. It has been said that the burden of local rates on a ton of steel averages 4s. 1d. per ton and that in some special districts it goes up to 17s. and 18s. per ton. If three-quarters of that burden is taken off the industry we can see how all those connected with it, whether they are workers living in the, houses or people living in the shops supplying their needs, will certainly reap a very direct benefit from the Bill.
The right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) has referred to the advantages to be obtained if the Chancellor of the Exchequer could give the benefit of the freight reductions on our railways for special trades at an earlier date, and it has been said that as regards coal a reduction of 8d. per ton might just make all the difference to our getting export orders. There again, as with agriculture, there is no difficulty in 427 classification, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer could also ante-date his proposals as regards this concession to railway companies, as well as to agriculture, the Bill would be much more helpful. All these benefits, and I think they are very real benefits, cannot be obtained, however, without the money being at our disposal and, surely, if we look around for money are we not bound to realise that petrol is perhaps more able to give us that money than any other article? I have no doubt that there may be some hardships which will follow the introduction of a tax of 4d. per gallon, but we have to look at the question as a whole, and I am sure, looking at the great direct and indirect benefits which will come from this Measure, that this House will be taking a wise step for the future of our trade and industry which, after all, is the very foundation stone of our welfare and prosperity.
§ Mr. DEAN
I should like to congratulate the Minister of Health on the way in which this Bill has been introduced. Speaking on behalf of industries generally I think that it is going to be of the very greatest assistance. I have the honour to represent an agricultural district which I think I may claim to be as important as any other. In reading the OFFICIAL REPORT of yesterday's Debate I notice that the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) referred to the subsidy which agriculture is going to get under this Bill. I should like to remind the hon. Member that in 1896 we got a reduction in our rates which, at that time, were £2,640,000. He said that this was given as a subsidy, that in 1923 we got a further subsidy of £3,600,000, and that now the Government were proposing to give us another subsidy of about £4,000,000. So far as agriculture is concerned the reduction in 1896 was sufficient to meet 50 per cent. of our needs, but our rates have greatly increased since then. In 1896, the £2,640,000 was sufficient for the needs of the agricultural population. The increase in rates since 1896 has been for the benefit of the whole community, but agriculture has had to bear the burden. I claim that so far from this being a subsidy for agriculture that it is a relief from rates which they have been 428 paying unfairly for a long time and that it is high time indeed that agriculture received this relief. So far as rating relief goes, speaking for ray own constituency, I am quite sure that not only will it increase production, but it will stimulate the farmer to cultivate his land better, to increase his production, and thereby to employ more labour. In that manner the whole nation will get the benefit.
I would like to refer to a question which affects my own particular district. I do not know if the Minister has noticed the fact that in industrial areas drainage rates are collected with the whole rates of the particular town. In my district we have an enormous drainage rate, over almost the whole of the county of Holland, which is collected as a separate drainage rate. That rate not only relieves and benefits the land, but it also helps to drain the towns. Without it the towns would be flooded and would not exist as they do now. The roads would be flooded. The position entirely depends on how the watercourses are kept, and it must be remembered that those water-courses are paid for entirely by the taxes on the land.
What I want to point out to the Minister is this. I am afraid that be does not include in this Bill drainage rates. I believe, however, that they are included when they are collected together with the other rates in industrial areas and, on behalf of my constituency, I would ask the Minister that the people on the land should be treated as fairly as those in the town. I happen to be the chairman of two of these drainage bodies, and we have to collect a sum of no less than £15,000 a year which we spend on drainage. That is an enormous amount of money to raise. I do not know whether we can persuade the Minister that that money is being used for productive purposes and that we have a right, on that account, to be relieved of the whole amount, but, whether that be so or not, I do hope that the Minister will see that we have a very just claim for a very considerable relief. The particular land to which I have referred is land which is most productive, but if this money had not been spent upon it, it would have been a swamp. If, in the future, we have to face foreign com- 429 petition, in course of time the farmers will not be able to pay their full drainage rates, and they will allow their drains to get into worse conditions, and thereby production, instead of increasing, will decrease. I am quite sure the Minister of Health is sympathetic towards agriculture, and I am quite sure that he will give full consideration to the matter that I have mentioned.
The hon. Member who preceded me was pleading on behalf of Scotland that we should have this relief for agriculture earlier than has been promised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, as an English Member, I would support him. I am one of those who fully realise the difficulties of the Government. I fully realise that had it not been for the strike in 1926 we should have got that relief earlier. [Interruption.] I am glad that my hon. Friends on the Labour benches realise that they are to blame. What is the position? The position is that 30 years ago in rural areas we were paying £2,600,000 in rates. Since then our population in the rural areas has not increased. Your need for roads, for Poor Law and for education, so far as the rural areas are concerned, has not increased for the benefit of agriculturists but for the benefit of the community. For those reasons I do urge the Minister of Health to give sympathetic consideration to the claim which I have put forward. I know full well that every industry will think that it has the first claim, but I think that my arguments are irrefutable, and they show that agriculture has indeed the first claim.
§ Mr. CHARLETON
There is just one point that I want to put to the Minister from the point of view of the workers on the railways. We have just heard hon. Members speaking for the railway companies, and I think the Minister of Health will agree that the problem which I am putting forward is one that does require some consideration. As I understand the working of the Government proposals, the railway companies will pay their rates as usual, but the remissions will go into a pool, from which the companies will be reimbursed for the remissions of freights on five or six different things on which the freightage will be lowered. Among the hereditaments that will be de-rated will be the locomotive engineering shops, the carriage and wagon shops, and the 430 other shops where railway materials are made. If I understand the suggestion of the Government aright, it is that the remissions will all go to assist in the reduction of freights and not to assist the railway companies to produce locomotive engines cheaper. Already, the workers in railway shops are on short time, and at this period, when short time is worked, we usually have the managers of the various shops on the same railway telling the men at a particular shop that if they will only accept lower rates or make an engine cheaper they will be quite safe. They are constantly showing them a shop about 200 miles away that is able to turn out engines, carriages, or wagons more cheaply than they can, and they tell the men that, unless they will consent to a reduction of piece rates, they will be losing their work. But the outside firms who make locomotive engines and carriages and get a little work for the railways will have their rates lowered, and they will get their remissions in order that they may provide cheaper locomotive engines and carriages.
I want to know what is going to be the effect on the railways. Surely it will be this. There will be unfair competition, and the railway companies will have to be compelled to manufacture without any assistance in this way. I agree that they should not get any assistance in this way, because they are not competing in a market, and they are not affecting international trade in any way. But it would be very unfair, and it would lead to intense trouble, if this state of things were allowed to take place. At the moment, I think, speaking generally, there are very few labour troubles on the railways, but I can see them coming along if these people outside are to be put in the position of being able to compete more cheaply.
According to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Utopia is coming as the result of these proposals, and we shall be able to get our locomotive engines given away with a packet of tea or something of that sort. If what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated in his Budget speech is true, these people will be able to manufacture locomotive engines, carriages, and wagons very much more cheaply as the result of this remission of taxation. That will lead to unrest on the railways. There may be grave disturbances of huge 431 masses of men. There are some 120,000 or 130,000 men employed in the railway shops, and they have friends in other departments, numbering in all about 700,000. If this happens, the railway companies may be tempted to give large orders outside and to close down their own shops, because it is cheaper to place orders outside. But the Minister thinks that the object of these Budget proposals is not that the railway companies should get cheaper locomotives; the object is to foster international trade. The right hon. Gentleman will see that there is a difficulty here, and it may lead to disturbing conditions later on if it is carried out. On the general principle I will say nothing, nor will I criticise this Bill, as a good deal has been said by way of criticism already. I do ask the Minister, however, to apply himself to this problem, so that nothing may be done to disturb the arrangements arrived at with the railway companies.
§ Sir PHILIP PILDITCH
It was not my intention to do other than that which the last two or three speakers have done to-night, and that is to refer to one point to which I ask the Minister to give some consideration in regard to the working of this Bill, but, in view of the speeches delivered by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Greenwood) and the right hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) I would like to say just one word on the remarks that have fallen from their lips. I was very much struck, and I dare say the House was very much struck, by the difference between the arguments used by those two hon. Members and the arguments used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden). In regard to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettleston, it is, of course, awkward to deal with points raised by any right hon. Gentleman who is no longer present in the House, and I shall not go very fully into them. But the right hon. Gentleman said that he objected altogether in principle to the relief of industry by the transference of the burden of rates from one part of industry to another.
That is exactly what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley was arguing. Apparently, his argument was that there was nothing to be got by 432 reducing rates in order to improve industry, but there was something to be gained by the transference of the burden. It was rather unfortunate that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley was not present when his late colleague was absolutely destroying, so far as he could, the benefits of the argument of his late chief. The same thing applies to the argument used by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Collie. His argument was not that it was undesirable, or that it could produce no benefit, to reduce the charges on industry, but that that reduction ought to be extended. He produced several instances of where productive organisations which were not within the purview of the Bill ought to be brought within it; organisations such as electrical power organisations, which, he said, would be much to the advantage of the industry and also to the advantage of the consumer. When you get two authoritative speakers on the other side directly controverting in its main principle, the argument put forward in opposition to the Bill by no less a person than the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, it ought to give reasonable people cause to reflect: "Have the Government not hit upon a satisfactory and useful way of tackling the question of the depressed industries?" I say no more on the general question because there has been ample discussion of the principles of the Bill but I should like to put a question with regard to a point raised on Monday by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon). He criticised the Bill on the ground that there a great deal of unnecessary expense was involved in making a second valuation when, under the 1925 Act, agricultural and industrial properties in the country were already being valued. I think there is a point there for consideration. In his speech yesterday the Minister of Health, to a certain extent, withdrew the sting from that criticism by pointing out that the appointment of a new set of revenue officers to make this valuation on behalf of the Government would only operate during the first year and when the first valuation was being made.
That alters the situation, but I still doubt exceedingly whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer will get what he expects for anything like the money which has 433 been estimated. If he expects to get all the agricultural land and all the industrial hereditaments of the country valued by a set of officials, brought in for the purpose, for £150,000, I am afraid he is "in for" a rude awakening. I do not believe it would be possible to get even the agricultural land of the country valued for anything like that sum. The Chancellor of the Exchequer a night or two ago pointed with great appositeness to the fact that the only result of the Measure of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) in 1910, was to increase the staff by 4,000 and to get very little result in the way of taxation. I am not sure that the right hon. Gentleman will not find himself repeating, on a smaller scale, the same operation in regard to this Bill. I would not make this suggestion if I did not think there was another way of getting what the Govern-want and what I desire them to get, namely fair play for the Treasury and for the Imperial funds in connection with this valuation. But I cannot see why it is necessary to create this new set of officials. There would have to be an enormous number of new officials for this work in England, and in Scotland too. The present staff is merely the nucleus of what would have to be brought together for this purpose. Has the Minister considered where he is going to get competent people to do this work? The great majority of those who are competent for work of this kind are already engaged up to the hilt, and will be engaged for many months to come, in carrying out the revaluation under the 1925 Act. That point will have to be taken into consideration.
There is another way in which this might be done. I cannot see why it is desirable or necessary that these revenue officers, as they are called—which means a new Department for the purpose—should have to value all these properties as is proposed in the Bill. Why should not the Government take power, as has been done in other circumstances, to make valuations only in cases where there is a suspicion that something has gone wrong in regard to valuation. That has been done over and over again, and there is no reason why the Government should not have the security which they desire that local authorities will not over estimate where it is to their interest or 434 under estimate where it is to their interest. There are various reasons why, in connection with the valuation of agricultural and industrial properties, it is not likely that attempts will be made to get the better of the Imperial tax-collectors. For instance, in regard to agricultural properties the owners would object to over-assessment for rating, because it would increase their assessment for Income Tax under Schedule A and probably for Death Duties also. They would object to an over-assessment on the whole farm or property. The occupiers would have ground for objecting, because farmhouses are usually taken as a certain proportion of the value of the farm, and the rates payable in respect of them would therefore be proportionately increased if the farm were over-assessed.
I am not at all sure that the right hon. Gentleman will not be able on the lines which I have suggested to find a way of avoiding heavy expenditure in connection with the carrying out of this Measure. In regard to industrial hereditaments, practically all properties of this kind have recently been, or shortly will be, valued by people who thoroughly understand the matter and who have all the particulars in their possession. They would be able to carry out such an apportionment as the Bill desires most excellently and economically. The Government have another safeguard. These assesments are carefully watched by the comity valuation committees and the occupiers themselves would still have to pay a percentage of the rates, so that from every point of view it seems to me that the Government might well consider if it is necessary to bring what are called revenue officers into operation at all in regard to this Bill. In making that suggestion I am responding to the invitation which the Government have thrown out to supporters and opponents alike, asking for constructive criticism, and I hope they will save money by my suggestion. If they are able to do so and make the operation of this beneficent Measure still more beneficent, I shall not regret my intervention in this Debate.
§ Mr. T. GRIFFITHS
The hon. Member who has jut spoken referred to the Land Taxes of 1910. I do not believe the landlords lost anything as far as those taxes were concerned, because when the 435 Measure was repealed, the Government of the day saw to it that all the money that had been paid from 1910 to 1919, amounting to something like £3,000,000, was refunded. Therefore the landlords have nothing to complain of in regard to the Land Taxes of 1910.
§ Mr. GRIFFITHS
I have several times taken part in discussions here in reference to the burden of high local rates upon the steel, tinplate and galvanized trades of this country. I have suggested that the Government ought to try to rectify some of the injustice and suffering caused in the necessitous areas and in some of the industries in South Wales, and I have suggested a method quite different from that proposed in the Bill. As far as I understand the Bill, its proposal is to relieve the prosperous industries. We have suggested that in necessitous areas and in some of the districts where the works have been idle—in some cases since 1921—the Government ought to give immediate relief to local authorities who have had the burden of unemployment forced upon their rates. I take four districts in South Wales—Swansea, Port Talbot, Blaenavon, and Cwmbran. We find that in Blaenavon the steel works and some of the mines have been idle since 1921. In Cwmbran the mines and the steel works are all idle at the present time. At Port Talbot, in Baldwin's works, one part of the steel works has been idle for the last two years, and in the Margam steel works I do not believe they have worked for six months during the last four or five years, but in the Swansea district you have quite a different proposition. There you have steel works, tinplate works, mines, and docks, where, although you may get depression in one trade for a certain period, other trades in the district continue working.
According to the returns that we have received from the Minister of Health, the rates in Swansea are something like 18s. 5d. in the £, but in some of the districts in Monmouthshire and other districts in South Wales they amount to 25s. to over 30s. in Abertillery, and, I believe, to over 30s. in the Merthyr district. What I want to know is how this Bill is going to assist the works at 436 Blaenavon, the works at Cwmbran, the works at Margam, and the works at Port Talbot. Do I understand that under the Bill it is only the works that are working that will be in a position to make an application for relief? If so, I cannot see how the Bill is going to assist the works that are already idle and that have been idle for a large number of years. The right hon. Member for Hill-head (Sir R. Horne) talked about the rates in steel works being from 2s. up to 5s. per ton. I agree, but what the right hon. Gentleman failed to understand and to point out to the House was this, that in the manufacture of steel you have coal, scrap, limestone, and pig-iron. This pig-iron is imported from other districts, the limestone is brought from other districts into the industrial areas, the scrap is also brought from the shipyards and other places, and the coal is brought, we will assume, from the Rhondda Valley. It is the high rates on coal in the Rhondda Valley, the high rates in the districts where they produce the pig-iron, and the high rates where the scrap is obtained that cripple the steel industry.
I want to know how the steel works are going to be relieved of their burden if the relief has already been given to these districts that produce the iron ores, the pig-iron, the scrap, and the coal. These are questions that have been puzzling me, and I should like to know how this Bill is going to apply to these districts. To suggest that the relief is only to be given in 1929 will not assist us in South Wales in any way. We want immediate relief in so far as the mining industry and the steel industry are concerned, and in my opinion, the only way in which that can he done is by the Government at once shouldering one of the burdens on the local authorities by maintaining the unemployed themselves.
Then there is a second proposal that was made by the Samuel Commission, and also by the Sankey Commission, that mining royalties should be abolished. Let me give one simple illustration to show the burden on the steel industry in so far as mining royalties are concerned. I will not put exaggerated figures before the House. Some say that it takes four tons of coal to produce one ton of steel. Other people dispute that, and say that in some of the most modern works you 437 can produce a ton of steel with three tons of coal. I will take the lower figure. According to the reports of the Samuel Commission and the Sankey Commission, it was estimated that the mining royalties in this country averaged about 1s. 6d. per ton. If it takes three tons of coal to produce a ton of steel you thus have 4s. 6d. in royalties. Then there are the mining royalties on iron ore, and you also have the mining royalties on limestone, working out altogether at about 8s. per ton. We will take the figures given by the right hon. Member for Hillhead and say that the burden of the rates is 5s. a ton. Here you have the landlords of the country placing on the steel industry an impost of 8s. a ton before we can produce one ton of steel; and I want to point out that the wages—and I am speaking now of the modern works—in producing that ton of steel, the finished bar in making tinplate bars, work out at about 10s. a ton. Therefore, you have the landlords of this country, in mining royalties alone, imposing 8s. a ton on the production of steel, whereas the whole of the wages in the steel trade paid for manufacturing that ton of steel are only 10s.
These are anomalies that the Government could tackle at once, without wasting the time of the House with a Chinese puzzle such as we are discussing now; and my suggestion to the Government is this: We want immediate relief by the Government taking the responsibility of paying and giving the support to the unemployed that is now done by the local authorities. My second proposition is that they should accept the recommendation of the Sankey and the Samuel Commissions, and abolish the mining royalties or, if you like, nationalise them. My third proposition is this: The landlords and their friends here to-day have been praising this relief and that relief, but I want to impose something upon them, and I want the Government to tackle the question of the taxation of land values. With these three things, I am sure that the country would be relieved of a great responsibility, and they would give us greater assistance in setting the wheels of industry going than by the method proposed in this Bill.
§ Mr. TOMLINSON
I do not rise to criticise this Bill. There are ways in 438 which industry might have been helped more effectively, and in which help might have been brought more quickly, but because this Bill brings help to the productive industries I welcome it, for I believe that anything that will lowers the cost of production will not only help industry, but will be of value to the whole country. I am concerned at the moment with the effect that this Bill and these proposals will have upon agriculture, and I have risen to support the appeal that has been made to the Chancellor from the benches opposite to bring into operation the benefits that will come to agriculture at an earlier date than October, 1929. The help to agriculture will come in two ways; first in the relief of rates. I would point out under this head that agriculture will get only 25 per cent. relief. It will be said at once that agriculture has already had relief to the extent of 75 per cent., but I submit that what we are considering at the moment is what benefit will come to agriculture under this Bill, and how that benefit will compare with benefits that will come to other industries. Agriculture, it will not be questioned, is the oldest and most important of our industries. Whether it is judged from the number of men for whom it finds employment or from the value of its produce, it is of first importance to the community; and what has impressed me more than anything else since I have been in this House is that there are many hon. Members who do not seem to realise the serious position of those who are engaged in agriculture.
The tenant, the occupier of agricultural holdings, is in a more serious position than many Members of the House realise, and to offer them help more than 18 months' hence is not a fair way of meeting their difficulties. This industry is very hard pressed, and I appeal to the Chancellor to consider whether he cannot come to its help immediately. We have heard during this Debate that a considerable portion of the money that will be distributed is available. I do not suggest that help can be given by relief of rates at an earlier date. I have had some experience with rating authorities; for more than 20 years I have been engaged in municipal work, and I consider that the Minister has been optimistic in thinking that all the arrangements that 439 will need to be made can be made before October, 1929. I shall not be at all surprised if the view expressed this afternoon does not prove to be correct, and that when October, 1929 comes it will be found that there are many valuation authorities who have not their valuation list ready, so that this rate relief may not come into operation even at that date.
There is, however, a way in which agriculture can be helped at an earlier date. As I have said, benefit comes in two ways. The Chancellor asks us to regard the second way as relief in railway freights. I suggest that it would be quite possible for relief to be given to the railways, so that they may pass on the benefit in reduced railway freights immediately, and the farmers may get the benefit for the crop which is now growing. I suggest that not one-fifth, which was the figure named by the Minister, should be the amount allocated to agriculture, but that a higher figure—one-third—might very properly be allowed, because, although you are giving 25 per cent. relief of rates to agriculture, you are giving 75 per cent. to productive industries, which in my judgment are not of more importance, and are even of less importance to the country, than agriculture. I submit, therefore, that one-fifth is not the amount that agriculture might really claim, and that one-third might be allowed to it.
When that benefit comes to agriculture, on what basis will it be allowed? It will have to be shown by the railway companies that they are passing this relief on to agriculture. Therefore, I suppose, they will reduce freights. Will the figure be estimated from the figure that is now on the railway rates-book, or will it be a reduction on the special rates that railway companies have already given to sonic kinds of merchandise? I was talking to a farmer the other day, and he reminded me that the relief of rates which he might expect would amount to £20 a year, but if he could get a reduction of 2s. 6d. on the railway freight on the foodstuffs which he uses, that would amount to £25 per year to him. The rate which is on the rates-book at the moment, say from the Port of Liverpool to this particular consumer's station, is 11s. 1d. per ton, but the railway companies have 440 now given a special rate of 8s. 6d. per ton to compete with road transport. That relief has been brought about through the challenging competition of road transport. The Government are now going to make that competition less challenging by the tax on petrol. It seems to me that it may be possible for the railway company to go back, not to the 8s. 6d. special rate that they have given, but to a higher rate than that. Will the relief that is to come to agriculture be a relief on the special rate of 8s. 6d., which he has now got through the challenging competition of road transport, or will the relief that the railway companies have to pass on be reckoned on the rate that is now on the rates-book? That is a very important point to which the Chancellor will do well to give his attention.
§ Mr. SKELTON
I rise to address a few observations to the House at a moment when the discussion of this Bill has reached the lull that conies before the final storm and the Division. I rise only to say a word on the general principle, but, first, to congratulate my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Scotland, most heartily on the method by which he has dealt with the peculiar difficulties and problems connected with the application of this Bill to the Scottish system of rating. I am not going into the details of how it will affect Scotland, but my right hon. Friend's speech has made it perfectly clear to the Scottish public, both urban and rural, what its effect will be. It is interesting to note that the direct relief to the tenant farmer is most substantial, and when you consider the case of the existing leases—which, after all, is the practical question of the moment, and the one which will affect the present depression—you find that the net result of my right hon. Friend's proposal is not only to give the tenant farmer complete relief of rates but also to give him what is, in effect, a considerable reduction of rent. That is really the only adequate way in which it can be expressed. He not only keeps the relief which is due on his share of the rates, namely, the occupiers' rates, but he gets one half of the relief given to the owner, and that means that that is paid over to him and is really equivalent to a very considerable reduction of rent. To all who know the agricultural situation in 441 Scotland that is a matter so full of promise, and so sound, that I do most warmly congratulate my right hon. Friend upon the way he has tackled this question.
From the point of view of agriculture, in Scotland, there are other aspects of it which are also extraordinarily valuable, as I think. At last the owner-occupier in Scotland is put in nearly the same position as the owner-occupier in England. As a, Conservative I have always believed, and I think the experience of other countries shows, that it is of immense value to agriculture that a man should own the land he cultivates, but under the system in Scotland by which the landlord pays half the rates and the tenant pays the other half, the dice were heavily loaded against the owner-occupier. Until something was done for him he was, from a rating point of view, at a heavy disadvantage, and no class of agriculturist in Scotland will gain such substantial relief from the proposals which my right hon. Friend sketched to-day as the owner-occupier. In view of the constant increase of owner-occupiers in Scotland, I think that is a matter of real importance. Further, Conservatives who believe that a successful democracy must be a democracy which is largely property owning, a democracy which is made substantial by the ownership of property, and who feel that the rural districts offer the best opportunities for the development of such a property-owning democracy, believe that the proposals we have heard to-day brings that ideal democracy definitely a step nearer. On that point, too, I most warmly congratulate my right. hon. Friend.
There is one other point. This, I think, is common both to England and Scotland. It was a real piece of constructive statesmanship to include woodlands in agricultural land. This is not a matter which one wishes to discuss in detail at this stage, but everyone who is familiar with Scottish conditions and knows the proportion of Scottish soil which is incapable of arable cultivation and must be mainly devoted to forestry if the fullest use is to be made of it, must feel that it is of great value that woodlands have been put on the same basis as agricultural land for the purpose of de-rating. Before I sit down I should like, even at this late 442 stage of the Debate, to add my word of praise and satisfaction, if I may use that term—
§ Mr. SKELTON
I am in the habit of saying what I have to say, and growls from under the Gallery do not as a rule alter what I am going to say. What I am going to say, if my hon. Friend can bear it, s this. Many of us have felt the extraordinary unsoundness of the system under which local revenue is collected. Its basic unsoundness from a fiscal point of view is that local rates are not levied upon the ability of a person to pay. The rate collector, unlike the Income Tax collector, comes whether there are profits or not. There can hardly be any system more unsound fiscally than the present rating system. That unsoundness operates to the maximum degree in the case of productive industries. There could hardly be any system of extracting money from the citizen mere foolish than to take the premises in which it is sought to create wealth and say that rates are to be levied on them whether work is being carried on there at a profit or at a loss. In the old days, when rates were on a very low scale, the badness of the principle did net much matter; but with rates at the height they are now their extraction, irrespective of whether there is a profit or a loss, weighs very heavily upon productive industry.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
May I ask my hon. and learned Friend whether he will extend that principle and say that a workman who is out of work should have relief from rates?
§ Mr. SKELTON
One thing at a time. What is the situation in this country with which we are chiefly concerned at the moment? It is the state of the staple industries; and, as I have said, the evil effect of the present faulty system of rate collecting operates at its maximum in the case of productive industries. I agree that if we were going to remodel entirely the rating system, even dwelling houses would not be left under the present system, but at the moment that is clearly beyond all possibility.
§ Mr. SKELTON
In view of the limits of time I am not anxious to enter into. the discussion of that point, but I can say in a word that it is clearly beyond possibility for the reason that we have no immediate source of alternative income adequate to fill the gap which that change would make. That must be clear to anyone who will really look at the facts of the situation. Let me direct the hon. Lady's attention to this point in particular, that the difference between the rating of productive concerns and the rating of dwelling houses is that a dwelling house is not intended to be a place where a profit is made and a workshop or factory is. It is in the highest degree folly to tax a workshop or a factory when it is making a loss. Unsound in principle as is the present system of rating in relation to dwelling-houses there is this mitigation that, speaking generally, a man takes a, dwelling-house knowing its rent and the amount of rates he will have to pay, and he accommodates himself to the rent and the rates which he can afford to pay.
§ Mr. SKELTON
I agree that it would be a good thing to give some special consideration to unemployed men with regard to the rates, but, looking at the situation as a whole, if you wish to solve the industrial position, you can only do it through a reduction of the rates which fall upon productive industries. This is just the direction in which the criticisms which have been made against this Bill have been so weak and feeble. I know there are very few hon. Members in this House who do not think that if the rates are a burden, and if they are collected on an unsound fiscal principle, productive interests are vitally affected before any other interests. It seems to me to be clear that the Government have tackled the question of rating on the right lines and at the right end, and I cannot believe that the kind of criticism which prefers that the available relief should be spread over the whole of the ratepayers is sound. I cannot believe that such criticism is really sincere. I am satisfied that whatever party comes into power their natural instinct must 444 be to relieve the productive industries in order that they may be able to give relieve to the unemployed and the half-employed who still remain one of the great tragedies of this country. As one interested in the future of Scotland and its rural districts, I warmly congratulate the Government upon having brought to agriculture in Scotland some real and permanent relief.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I would like to refer to one special aspect of this subject which has engaged the attention of one of the leading Members of the Opposition. I refer to the question of the breweries. I cannot contemplate the idea of the brewers of this country coming in to receive the benefits which are offered under this Bill. Up to the present there has not been any necessity for the brewing industry to make an application for protection under the Safeguarding of Industries Act. That has not yet taken place, but the Government has decided that there are certain productive industries which have been severely depressed, and certain organisations have been picked out for assistance in case of their decay. In connection with the brewing industry, I have got out the figures of the amounts paid in police and poor rates for 1927 and 1928, and I find that this industry has paid £551,000. I think we ought to ask ourselves the question whether the carrying on of the brewing industry has not a direct bearing upon the depression which exists in other industries which are legitimate industries and which are entitled to some relief under this or under any other scheme.
On a former occasion, I presented figures relating to the brewing trade prepared by the Board of Trade, which showed clearly that the unemployed question was involved. The depression of industry was involved by the fact that the expenditure by the breweries, as contrasted with any other trade detailed by the Board of Trade, shows that only one man was able to find employment as against eight men who would be employed if that money had been spent in the industries which are now suffering. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) referred to Beardmore's works, the engineering trade which not so very long ago was considered to be at the top of our working 445 class industries. Now the ordinary worker who is a member of the National Union of General Workers receives a better wage than the skilled engineer. In this Bill we find the Government coming forward with a proposal to give relief to the brewing industry which has had such a powerful effect in causing the depression of other industries, in spite of the fact that it is perfectly clear that the Government could not have selected any kind of trade or business in the country which stands out more clearly as being especially prosperous at this particular time when many other legitimate industries are practically lying in the dust. The last figures published for 1920–27 show that the brewing industries made a profit of £24,500,000. In 1923–24 the profits were £22,250,000 and in 1924–25 the profits were £23,250,000. I think what is proposed in this Bill is an absolute insult to those who are finding it a tremendous struggle to pay any rates at all.
That powerful capitalist force which controls these brewing concerns is able to he included in a scheme the main object of which is to deal with productive industry, which is suffering under tremendous competition, while these concerns meet with no competition at all except it be, with the assistance of some people connected with the Conservative party, competition with America in trying to find means of making money. Barring that kind of competition, these concerns are safeguarded all the way. It is very strange that the forces which are identified with criticism of that line of business—I refer to the temperance forces of our country—have never yet attacked it, but, on the contrary, have helped to safeguard this particular business, with the subsidising of which the Government itself is now particularly identified. Undoubtedly our poor relief and our unemployment relief ought to be dealt with on a national basis. There is not a shadow of doubt that, as was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), the anomaly of this business will be picked out and criticised severely in the country from the standpoint of the tremendous difficulty with which the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be faced in making such a distinction as is 446 the natural outcome of the scheme. The brewers in the County of London will receive, under this scheme, over £100,000 a year. Those of Burton-on-Trent will receive about £45,000, those of Birmingham and Smethwick over £18,000, those of Manchester and Liverpool about £15,000, and others in like proportion; and the cost will fall on the general taxpayer.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer got a very severe and, I think, warrantable dressing down from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs this afternoon, although I suppose they are pretty well used to exchanges of that kind, and perhaps do not mean very much by them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has fallen on remarkably sad days in regard to the question of principle. He is convicted of actually being responsible for pushing through a scheme which intends to utilise millions of the money that will be available to assist that particular combination of organisations which is making more money than any concern in the country at the present time, and yet his statement is quoted about the awful predicament in which our industries are placed at this juncture. To me the situation has gone beyond words. It is bare-faced audacity on the part of men who are not baffled by want of brains in tackling this job of relieving taxation and getting it put upon a far basis, that is to say, on the basis of the incomes of the people. The hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Skelton) was talking about the ordinary householder as a ratepayer and a taxpayer. Why should a man be taxed upon his rent when he may he out of employment for six months? Why should we have the agonising condition of unemployed men and women at the present time? In the appalling circumstances that are prevalent all over the country, and with a Government that pretends to be concerned about industry, if they really meant business they would, instead of putting forward this proposal to heap money on these concerns, be standing up to the task of cutting this business out entirely. The backing of forces of that kind in our country, because they have such a grip upon the Government, and to a large extent upon the House of Commons as a whole, is a measure of the 447 depth of immorality to which our political forces have sunk. If this is the best that can be done, the outlook is certainly bleak for the interests of the country in the highest sense.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The hon. Members who have spoken from the other side have to a large extent refused to make any attempt to answer the arguments that have been put forward by my hon. and right hon. Friends in regard to this Bill, but two personal statements have been made during the discussion this afternoon to which I would like to refer. One was by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne), who was good enough to fling a taunt across to this side of the House that we were opposing this Bill because we were afraid that the other side might get some political capital out of it. The right hon. Gentleman talked rather at large about professional politicians, and the sort of motives that actuated people of that character. I am not sure to whom he was referring when he was speaking of professional politicians, but there is one thing that might be said to him, and to all Members of the older parties in this House, and that is that we have yet to establish the tradition by which men of various parties can change their creed and their principles in as easy and facile a manner as we have seen hon. and right hon. Gentlemen do during the last few years.
Then the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Sir P. Pilditch) tried to find some sort of contradiction between the statements made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) and other Members who had spoken during the discussion. There is no conflict of view between us at all. In dealing with a subject like that which the House has been discussing yesterday and to-day, we are bound to take into account, first of all, what any Government would do at a particular moment to palliate a particular evil, and what that Government would do to get rid of the evil in a root-and-branch manner. My right hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston, when he was pointing out the futility of the argument that by relieving rates British industry would be restored, was not at all contradicting or in any way opposing the idea that, if the Labour party were 448 seated opposite, they would do their best to ease the burdens of those in the districts which are under discussion. We should also, however, I hope, undertake such reforms and such changes as would remove the causes of the necessity for such expenditure.
The question that we are discussing is not at all a new one. It is one that this House has to my knowledge discussed for many years past. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he was in the Liberal Government of 1906–1914, assisted, in the years 1910–1912, in bringing forward the Unemployed Workmen Act and the National Health Insurance Act, and those proposals were brought forward with the same sort of éclat with which the right hon. Gentleman has brought forward this Bill. Of course, he and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) were quite certain that, when those Bills became law, rates would go down, the conditions of the workers would improve very considerably, and this House would not be bothered with the terrible questions connected with unemployment. We have seen the fallacy of all that sort of reasoning. We can make all the allowances that hon. Members on both sides want us to make in regard to the effect of the War upon industry, and yet here we are, ten years after the Armistice, discussing what the Minister of Health says is a scientific, well-thought-out scheme which will prove a solution of our industrial difficulties.
From the right hon. Gentleman himself, from the Prime Minister, and from the Minister of Health and the Minister of Labour we have during these last 10 years had scheme after scheme which was going to have this effect. We have had scheme after scheme put up which we were told would bring about a condition of things under which industry would thrive and prosper. The Minister of Health brought forward his proposals in regard to dealing with boards of guardians and in regard to audits as proposals which would ease the burdens of the over-burdened ratepayers in certain districts and accomplish the end which we had in view. I should like him to tell us how this proposal is going to do for the mining industry what the past legislation of the Government has failed to do. We all remember with what vigour the right hon. Gentleman and the 449 Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour supported the repeal of the Seven Hours Act. They must remember the statements that were made again and again from that Box that if only the mining industry was freed from the incubus of short hours, and if only the unions were left to have free relationships with their workpeople, industry would revive. The policy of the Government has had a fair and square chance. We got the eight hours day. Production has increased, the selling price of coal has been reduced, the workers' wages have been reduced, and production has been cheapened, and yet there are a quarter of a million men unemployed in the coal industry, and the right hon. Gentleman knows as well as anyone else who thinks about the question at all that this proposition will be no more effective in dealing with the mining situation than was the eight hours' day and the lowering of the wages of the workmen. It is certain that the industry cannot recover in this sort of way, and the same argument applies to all other industries the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends have trotted out as needing bolstering up.
I should like to ask him also to face another perfectly simple question. There is the question of agriculture. There is something over 1,000,000 acres less under cultivation to-day than during the period of the War. Why is it with the relief that agriculture has had, the increased relief given it by the Tory party, that the industry continues to go down? That again is nothing new. Ever since I have known anything of politics, we have been told that agriculture needed special treatment and special help from Parliament in one way or another. The right hon. Gentleman, whom no one accuses of not being able to think out a case or prepare a scheme, has not yet told us what legerdemain there is in this extra 25 per cent. of the rates that is going to be given to the agriculturist and how it is going to make profitable something that is not profitable. How can the right hon. Gentleman defend this proposition of a subsidy in face of all that he himself has said? He and the Prime Minister and other of his colleagues have again and again declared that never again would there be a subsidy for the coal industry. When is a subsidy not a subsidy? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us that. How does this 450 differ from the subsidy that was given to the coalowners during the year preceding the lock-out? I want to go still further and ask him what is the difference between giving a rich brewery or a rich company that is paying a great dividend money out of the public purse and giving a workman money out of the public purse who comes to you and says he needs some help towards his wages?
The right hon. Gentleman said some choice things about Poplar and Poplarism. I should like to ask him what is the difference between this method and giving money for the relief of an unfortunate man who is unable to earn his bread. What is the fundamental difference between putting a tax on petrol and making poor people pay a halfpenny more on their fares, and giving some unfortunate person in Poplar or West Ham or Merthyr Poor Law relief? You are going to give relief to people who do not need it. If a Board of Guardians did it, the right hon. Gentleman would instruct his officers to prosecute them. What is the difference? There is no moral difference and there is no material difference. There is a process that I used to hear something about in the country, named feeding the fat sow. I do not know exactly what it means, but I dare say the right hon. Gentleman can understand what I mean. It means giving something to somebody who does not need it. You are going to feed the people in industry who are piling up tens of thousands of pounds of profit every year, and you come forward to us and say that you are doing this in order to stimulate industry and put it on its feet. You know that you are not going to do anything of the kind. The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that this scheme is similar to that which I heard him talk about some years ago from the Treasury box, when he used to talk about unemployment as being a question not of there being insufficient work to go round but a question of the mobility or labour. He was very enthusiastic in those days about the mobility of labour being a cure for unemployment. In those days he was younger and I was much younger, and he used to pour scorn and contempt upon me because I told him that he was running the wrong sort of policy. The particular thing which he is so enthusiastic about now is something which I 451 think he must know in his heart will have absolutely no effect except, in the main, to give money where money is not wanted.
Let me go a little further. The right hon. Gentleman is going to stimulate industry. Will he tell me how he is going to stimulate it in the Merthyr Tydvil coal districts, where most of the pits are worn out, where there is a huge population who have nowhere to go and no chance of getting employment, and where the industries in the neighbourhood are wiped out? His scheme of giving relief will not work there, because there are no collieries in that district that can start working. Therefore, the proposal will not do anything whatever towards stimulating the reopening of the pits. It is no use to reopen them and there is no sense in thinking about their reopening. There is not only one district of that kind, but many districts. I want the Chancellor of the Exchequer to tell me how his schemes will reopen those pits. If it will not do so, then certainly it will not affect the condition of things in Merthyr.
Let me deal with the case of Poplar. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that when he was at the Board of Trade, years ago, he had to take into consideration the question of casual labour. He knows that the curse of East London is casual labour and he knows that this scheme will not affect that problem one bit. He also knows that the one or two big industries in the East End of London that pay big dividends will get relief, while the unhappy people living in the houses will get no relief whatsoever. The biggest ratepayers in my district—I have nothing against them at all; they are good employers as far as employers go and they are model employers as far as modern employers are concerned—pay on their business an extraordinary dividend year after year. They pay somewhere about £11,000 or £12,000 a year in rates. They pay huge dividends each year. The right hon. Gentleman is going to give them £9,000 a year relief on their rates. What trade will that stimulate? How many people will that put into work? Where does he think that £9,000 will go? They may, for all I know, spend it in developing a factory in Holland or in Timbuctoo, but it is perfectly certain 452 that the money will not benefit the district which I represent. Under the walls of that factory there are people who are paying 18s. and 16s. a week rent out of wages of £2 a week. Out of that amount of rent they pay at least half in rates. The Government scheme will not help them one bit. It will not bring them any relief whatever.
The scheme so far as London is concerned and as far as Poplar is concerned may very likely bring them a heavier burden. The Government have not yet produced their formula, but we have had from the Minister of Health some previous communications which told us something about block grants and how he proposed to manipulate block grants. If any such scheme as that comes off, it will mean that London is to lose about £200,000 a year, because London as a whole is not looked upon as a necessitous area, although many of the districts in it are necessitous. I would like the right hon. Gentleman to tell me how I can inform my constituents that this precious scheme is going to help them. As I understand it, it is going to make things a little worse for them, and my reason for that belief is that the document issued some time ago by the Minister of Health dealing with block grants most definitely left us with the knowledge that if this was adopted we should definitely lose so far as London is concerned.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer and his friends and the Government are in this Bill attempting to ladle out the ocean with a spoon. They are not attempting to deal with this question in a scientific manner, although the right hon. Gentleman yesterday spoke about this being a scientific scheme. If this is a scientific scheme, then God help us and God save us from scientific men, because of all the idiotic schemes for dealing with a great economic situation or a difficult economic situation such as that which faces us, there never was so idiotic a scheme ever proposed by any set of men at any time. What is it that faces us? I will not be so discourteous as to think that the right hon. Gentleman does not understand. He knows as well as I know that the problems with which we have to deal so far as industry is concerned are not going to be even tickled by this proposal. He knows that the coal industry will remain as it is, unless it is reorganised on an altogether 453 different basis. He knows that the iron and steel trade will remain in the same situation. He knows that capitalism, as he understands it, and as we all understand it, is working out into a more and more national monopoly. He knows that as these things proceed, unemployment and partial employment and all the things that accompany changes in methods of production and changes in organisation, take place. He knows as well as any man in this House that unemployment causes high rates. It is not high rates that cause unemployment. He knows that unemployment is caused by economic causes, which work irrespective of Governments and irrespective of parties.
There is no way out of this difficulty except national action, national credit, national money. His party, which has come in with the greatest majority of modern times, this Tory Government, in every single piece of legislation, except that which has been penal legislation, has used the power of the State, has used national credit and has used national money in order to bolster up what it calls private enterprise. Private enterprise is bankrupt, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it. When you had to deal with electricity, you were obliged to come to this House to get £30,000,000 of credit to enable you to carry on electricity in this country. In every single direction, when you wanted to do something for industry you have had to get national credit and national money to do it. The right hon. Gentleman the late Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond), whom you have pitch-forked into another place, on one of the last occasions that he spoke from the third bench there, told the House definitely and distinctly that there was no way out of the industrial situation in which we found ourselves except more and more national money, more and more national organisation, and more and more national interference in what you call this business of private enterprise. That being so and seeing that you have already had your way in bringing down the cost of production and in reducing the wages of the workers in all industries, and seeing, too, that when you have put this thing into operation you will have made confusion worse confounded, I have the greatest possible pleasure in voting against this Bill and for the Amendment.
454 Hon. Gentlemen have said that they do not fear the country on this issue. I will tell them, from the knowledge I have gained by going about the country, what was said years ago in America. It was said that you could not fool all the people all the time. I advise hon. Gentlemen opposite to think of that saying. It was said during an economic and moral crisis similar to the one through which we are passing to-day. In this country and all over the world capitalism is on its trial. Capitalism has to answer the question of the educated workers: "Why cannot capitalism give us an ordered, reasonable, decent, regular standard of life?" You are not able to do that. You are educating men and women who now are able to understand that it is not God who creates poverty and slums. They know that it is economic conditions that are man-made, and they are going to have those conditions unmade. You have to abolish this miserable worn-out theory of beggar-your-neighbour by competition and substitute for it co-operative effort of men and women to provide one another with decent means of life. That is the remedy for the ills of to-day.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am sure that we shall most of us agree with the earnest impulse which lies at the back of the impassioned speech to which we have just listened, but it was a pity that the hon. Member was so precipitate in condemning the policy on which His Majesty's Government have now embarked as to say that it was the most idiotic scheme which could be suggested, because, after all, he has not seen the whole policy. Nor does he know at all what will be the ultimate effects of this policy, when it is unfolded in the course of a year, on his own constituents, or whether it will make a better or worse provision for them. It would be wise, before condemning the results of the policy and its conception as utterly idiotic, to make quite sure what it is you have before you. At any rate, there is one thing I can say in reply to the hon. Gentleman, and that is that the effort is a sincere one. He has reminded me of 20 years age, when we first set up the Employment Exchanges in this country, and he says what a fraud and disappointment they have been, or words to that effect.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Of course, they have not solved all the problems. They have not solved them any more in England than in countries as distant and as different in their characteristics as the United States and Russia—[Interruption]—and Russia. At any rate, one may say that they have become an absolutely vital and integral part of British social life and that there will never be a Government in this country which will uproot, eliminate, or destroy this organism which was then brought into being. For myself I would say that this effort which we are making now is at least an effort of sincerity. I do not wish for a moment to exaggerate its results, and I do not claim for it at all what the hon. Gentleman and his friends are so often ready to claim for their own proposals—that it will be a cure-all and immediately remedy the immense disparities and causes of discontent in our modern civilisation. All I can say is that this is a sincere effort, and the hon. Gentleman and those who sit with him and behind him will make a great mistake if they imagine that it is in their party interests to set themselves precipitately against a careful study of this project.
I am called upon at the end of this long Debate to deal with the salient points which have emerged. It has been a Debate in which the attendance has not been large, but in which the quality of the speeches has been extremely well maintained. Let us just see what these salient points are, not only in the course of this discussion, but since the Budget was opened and the general policy announced. First of all, I think I may say that to-night a certain number of false assumptions and wrong-headed opinions have been definitely swept out of the path of our future discussions. There is the contention that this policy gives more relief to the flourishing industries than it gives to the depressed industries. That has been placed on the Order Paper of the House on the high authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon)—the highest combination of fire and judgment that you can possibly 456 imagine. They have committed themselves to that proposition, and, as a result of this discussion, I venture to say that it has been entirely destroyed. The exact reverse is the truth.
I was looking to-night at some figures which have been brought under my notice and I find, for instance, that the great firm of Courtaulds made last year £4,500,000 of profit for their shareholders. They paid only £45,000 in rates. You find in the iron and steel and engineering trades between 400 and 500 concerns making together a similar volume of profits. These 400 or 500 firms taken together, although they make no more in profits than the firm of Courtauld, pay 20 times the rates which are paid by Courtauld's, and under our scheme they will obtain 20 times the relief. Cases like that can be multiplied to any extent you like. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about assisting Courtaulds, then?"] What is the use of suggesting that the whole of this scheme should be held up because under the application of a common principle there is one particular firm that does not need it? [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I am quite prepared to face all the taunts that you may make about particular firms which are in a good position which will gain some advantage out of this scheme. I am prepared to face that rather than depart from the general principle which we are applying to the whole of industry, because the moment you allow yourself to be guided by spite and envy you get into difficulties.
The second suggestion, I think, that has been demolished is the a "pick and choose" plan. It is admitted that it cannot be carried out. You cannot pick and choose between the different industries of the country, between the prosperous and the unprosperous. If you are to apply your principle, you must apply it with uniformity. The third suggestion which has been demolished in these Debates has been the suggestion that you should spread your relief, such as it is—little enough we have to give, and hard enough to get it—over the whole area of shops and houses. Obviously, if you spread £26,000,000 over the whole of the rateable area and over all forms of rateable property the relief you would give to any one firm and to productive industry as a whole would be inappreciable, 457 and would not have any noticeable effect in altering the course of events or give any real stimulus to our productive industry. If, on the other hand, you were to try to offer three-quarters relief all over the whole area of the rates, the cost would be prohibitive to the central Government, amounting to £130,000,000. What would happen to local government if they were all to be pensioners of the central Exchequer and their ratepayers were to decide on the expenditure of money in the provision of which they would have no further concern?
Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) challenged the distinction which we have drawn between the productive and the distributive industries. He said that production and distribution are like a pair of scissors, but it is not true. It is quite true that they work together, but very great distinctions can be drawn between production and distribution and I shall try to draw one or two of those distinctions. In the first place, production in this country faces on the whole worldwide competition, whereas distribution has closed markets. Of course, there is great competition between distributors within those closed markets, but foreigners do not come into this country to run railways or fleets of motor cars and so forth. I say that is a distinction. Here is another difference between the two. The basic productive industries are flagging and failing, and flagging and failing in an alarming degree, and on the other hand the distributive industries as a whole are doing quite well. [Interruption.] I can hardly call the export trade distribution. The distributive industries have done very well since the War and are holding their own. But supposing you were to apply this present scheme of ours to the distributive industry, how would it work out?
I have explained, and I trust proved, that in regard to the productive industries the vast bulk of the relief will go to the depressed trades. I think that the reverse would happen in the distributive trades. The pressures under which the distributors are working are quite different from those under which the producers are working. The producer seeks places where rates are lowest, but the distributor does not mind how high 458 the rates are, because he can pass it on to the consumer. Whoever heard of a shopkeeper leaving a town because the rates were high? Whoever heard of a suggestion that Mr. Selfridge should leave Oxford Street because of the burden of rates there, and go out and set up an establishment in open fields in Hendon or Edgware? The best place for a great emporium to set up is in the town even though rates may be high there, whereas in the producing trade some of the concerns simply cannot carry on unless they find relief from their present rates burden. I have no doubt whatever that the distinction that has been drawn aid which I drew in opening the Budget between the productive and the distributive trades is one which the more searchingly it is examined the more true and unshakeable it will be found. So I say that in all these respects we may claim that the result of this discussion up to the present moment has left the Government position absolutely unshaken. [Interruption]. Who is now suggesting that you should pick and choose? Who is now disputing that more relief goes to the depressed than to the flourishing industries? Who is now really maintaining that we should spread this £26,000,000 widely—bread and scrape—over the whole country?
There are some points which have not yet been disputed. One is that there ought to be on the whole a fairer balance as between the competition of road and rail. We believe that the railways have not had entirely fair play against road competition, heavily subsidised as the latter has been by reason of the inadequate share which it has paid in respect of the damage to roads. That we have heard nothing about. Then there is the question of coal versus oil. That is an issue which certainly requires a great deal of thought, because if we could by any means produce from our own coalfields a modern fuel either liquid or pulverised, it would give to basic industries in the twentieth century something of the great advantage they had enjoyed during the whole of the nineteenth century. I have not heard a word about that.
Then there is the question of wider areas for local government. There may be local and parochial disputes about that but, in principle, one knows that there are real advantages in the field of 459 local government to be gained by wider areas. And lastly, there is the question that some relief should be given to necessitous areas in a form which would achieve a broader equalisation of rates. I say that there are four points which we have completely demolished and four other points, salient points, in this scheme which have not been in any way disputed. The right hon. Member for Colne Valley yesterday made a most extraordinary assertion and one which his party ever since he uttered it have been occupied in trying to whittle away. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs made a sort of friendly covering apology for it in the course of his speech this afternoon. The right hon. Member for Colne Valley said: "Rates, as such, are no burden on industry." I might say disease as such is no burden on anybody. It is all a question of the incidence. It is one of the most extraordinarily unwary statements that has ever fallen from the lips of an experienced politician. He also indicated that they were infinitesimal in their burden on industry—as such, no doubt. If you take a pair of opera glasses and look at an object in the ordinary way and then turn them round so that the object is diminished, you will get exactly the mental process through which the right hon. Gentleman has gone. [An HON. MEMBER: "As such!"] Yes, as such.
Before this scheme was broached we were told that rate relief was the most vital thing for the country. I will not read all the statements which were made—Liberal and Labour statements—but as soon as the Government introduces a proposal the right hon. Gentleman comes forward and says, "What is this for? What is the good of all this?" [An HON. MEMBER: "As such!"] As such. Of course, it is rather discouraging in a way. In the discussions since the Budget was introduced no one has hitherto attempted to prove that the boon to industry will not be substantial. But now the right hon. Gentleman has committed himself to denying that proposition. I am going to give a few instances in order to show how grave is the need of industry and how important will be the relief it will get. A few days ago I gave a list to the House of the industries which could beyond chal- 460 lenge be called depressed, and I mentioned seven conditions which should be fulfilled.
These industries constitute two-thirds of our export trade; some £500,000,000 of exports are accounted for by these industries, and they obtain three-quarters of the whole of the relief which we give to industry. That is, industries covering two-thirds of the export trade of this country receive three-quarters of the whole relief to industry. No one can doubt that that is going to be a great help to our export trade, and no one can doubt the way in which it will help the export trade. [An HON. MEMBER: "How?"] It will help it by increasing its competitive power in every market into which our goods enter. We cannot pass the rates on to the foreign consumer. 1he export market is outside our control. Our trade has to go into the markets of the world and enter into-competition with other countries, and everyone knows that contracts very often turn on the smallest fraction. I believe, indeed it is impossible to doubt, that the concentrated effect of £14,500,000 per annum in relief to this group of industries, which covers two-thirds of our export trade, will make an appreciable difference in our competitive power. After all, we are a crowded island and have to buy four-fifths of our bread from abroad, and the easing of the burden on our export trades by a strong and concentrated thrust of this character is not a matter which anyone can afford to sweep aside as a negligible thing in our economic life.
The hon. Member who spoke last asked, "What is the good of all this? What about coal?" I do not pretend that it will solve the problem of coal but, at any rate, it will be a help. I am not pretending to solve the whole problem, but I would point this out. The right hon. Member (Mr. Snowden) spoke of this relief to coal as being worth 3d. per ton. That is not so. Our calculation is that, with the railway freight relief—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Why should you not count that as well? It is worth 6½d. per ton on the average over the coal trade.
§ Mr. SHINWELL rose. [Interruption.]461
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I hope I may be allowed to continue my argument. [Interruption.] It really is not a proper way of carrying on a Debate in a representative House like this.
§ Mr. SHINWELL rose—
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
May I be permitted to resume my argument? I am in possession of the House, and I hope that I shall be allowed to proceed.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I hope I may be permitted to go on with my argument. The hon. Member has no right to call upon me to sit down while I am in possession of the House. Are hon. Members opposite really so uncomfortable about this policy that they are going to silence a speaker by interruptions of this kind? I do not mind in the least, and I will gladly answer any questions when the proper opportunity arrives. I was trying to say that the relief given to coal by this Measure amounted to 6id. per ton averaged over the whole field. The burden of the mining royalties is estimated on the average to be about 6½d. It is the first time I have ever heard from any representative of the party opposite that the mining royalties are not an incubus and a burden on the coal industry. I have heard speech after speech in Debates for the last 20 years showing what a relief and help it would be if the mining royalties were lifted from the back of the coal industry. But nobody has ever proposed to lift these royalties from the back of the coal industry. All that they have suggested is that the Exchequer should buy out the royalty owners and should collect the royalties itself. That would be no help at all to the mining industry. Here we are giving something which it is admitted affords a benefit to the mining industry as a whole, in which both parties, employers and employed, share under the wage-sharing agreement; we are giving relief to that industry as 462 a whole as great as if we had completely eliminated mining royalties. The state of the coal trade at the present time shows, under the most recent ascertainments, in every single district throughout the country an actual loss, and yet we are extracting £3,500,000 a year from this trade in respect of rates. How long can that go on in regard to the weaker pits?
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
It will go on until the steps which we are now taking become effective. I now turn to the firms and industries included in the list which I gave to the House on Tuesday last, and which I classified—I admit roughly—as depressed, or at any rate as not flourishing. Of the firms that are in this list I have extracted from the table a very large number which are either making no profits at all, or are making actual losses, or are making less profits than the rates which they pay. Simply from these trades—Iron, Steel, Shipbuilding and Engineering; Metals; Cotton; Wool; Bleaching and Dyeing—simply from those five groups of trades there are firms which pay £75,000,000 in wages and salaries, and which are providing a livelihood for at least 500,000 or 600,000 persons—firms every one of which is either running at a loss or is making less profits than it pays in rates. Therefore, you may say that over the whole of this vast area—and, mark you, there is not one of us on either side of the House who has not got some of these firms in his own constituency—over the whole of this vast area you have got businesses which are gradually aoproaching the moment when, after having paid rates out of capital for a number of bleak years, they will find that they are becoming exhausted and that they will have to close down. Is that not a matter which is of great consequence to industry? Is that not a matter which is of great consequence to this country? Is the fact that there are 600,000 people living on firms which are actually waterlogged not a matter of deep and earnest concern? How are our trade union leaders to get any sort of strong pressure for lifting the level of wages? [Interruption.] I say that there are 1,100,000 unemployed at the present time, 463 and if nothing is done you may have the prospect of another 200,000 or 300,000 being added to them.
You may say that our scheme is wrong, but, believe me, it is not a scheme which you can afford to treat with derision here or on any platform. I say that it is of consequence to all those who care about the workers. It is said that our scheme is of no assistance to the shopkeepers, but is the potential closing down of these firms all over the place of no consequence to the small shopkeepers who serve the people who work in these firms; small shopkeepers whose credit has perhaps been strained to the limit by the disastrous consequences of the industrial civil war of 1926? To say that those shopkeepers are not included in this scheme is beside the point. I say that they have no greater interest than that these firms which are now so hard pressed and in regard to whose position the burden of rates may well be the determining factor, should be enabled to continue to keep their doors open and employ their men. Having said that in answer to the statement and suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman for Colne Valley that rates as such are no burden on industry, I have a suggestion to make to him that, dating from to-morrow, he should begin a pilgrimage about the country. I suggest that he should go to Newcastle and to Sheffield [HON. MEMBERS: "Dundee"]. I suggest that he should go to Dundee—[Interruption]. I suggest that he should go to the rural areas and that he should say to the workmen and to the people who are managing the actual businesses by which they live, that he should say to the farmer—[HON. MEMBERS: "To the brewer"]—"Rates as such are no burden on industry." I cannot think of any better way in which the right hon. Gentleman could employ the next twelve months.
But I leave the right hon. Gentleman, and, if the House will bear with me for a few minutes more, I would rather not sit down without paying my respectful tribute to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. I administered, I trust with due respect, all things considered, a mild Parliamentary castigation to the right hon. Gentleman on Tuesday last. 464 I did it for his own good, and in the brief process of time which has elapsed I see that it has had a very salutary effect, because the right hon. Gentleman spoke in a most chastened mood to-day and he conducted a series of retirements, under cover of the heavy fire of his oratorical artillery, from a good many indefensible positions. We have no longer the assertion from him which figured on the Order Paper a little while ago about the flourishing industries getting more than the depressed industries. He has abandoned the idea of our having to choose between the flourishing and the depressed firms.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I certainly understood he had. Well, it may be that the right hon. Gentleman requires another dose. He even went so far as to say that he would give even-handed treatment to the brewers in the scheme which the Liberal party would bring into play—that he would draw no distinction between brewers and any other class. That is very important, but it certainly is not in harmony with the kind of thing which the right hon. Gentleman has been saying on public platforms and elsewhere. He even referred to Mr. Courtauld who is described as "the rich Mr. Courtauld," and "the man who never asks for anything" and so forth.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Well, it was not so much what the right hon. Gentleman said as the nasty way he said it. However I note the improvement and it will encourage me on future occasions to continue the treatment as far as may be necessary. There is one matter on which I should like to offer an explanation to the right hon. Gentleman. He evidently was rather annoyed at my reference to the Election of 1918. I did not know that the right hon. Gentleman had anything to reproach himself with over the coupon Election of 1918. Anyhow I am not going to reproach him nor are the great bulk of those who sit on this bench. We were all in it. The great majority of those who sit on this bench followed him and the late Mr. Bonar Law in that Election, and responded to his appeal to make a common front against the common foe. It was not, in 465 any way, a discreditable transaction. On the contrary I approved of it then and I approve of it now. [HON. MEMBERS: "And would do it again!"] Yes, I would do it again. I must say, however, to be quite frank, that I have not been quite tactful or considerate in not remembering sufficiently how much the personal and political position of the right hon. Gentleman has changed since that date.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
No, on the contrary, mine has not changed at all. The right hon. Gentleman from time to time still speaks of the common front against the comman foe but it is a different common front and the opposite common foe. I had not sufficiently paid attention to this alteration in his views and in his attitude, and, therefore, I must express regret if by any tactlessness I have caused him some embarrassment towards the friends with whom he is once again happily reunited. Passing from that point let me deal with what the right hon. Gentleman said. His speech consisted of two parts, namely, a complaint and a plan. So far as the complaint was concerned, it related entirely to a Bill which His Majesty's Government have undertaken to introduce in November next. All his criticisms referred to that Bill. I think when we are advancing a policy of such great complexity, admittedly open to argument on every point, we are entitled to unfold our plan stage by stage. There is nothing in what is now before the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Little things please little minds. There is nothing in the policy which is now before the House which is not complete in itself. We are providing in the Budget for the money. We are providing in this Bill for the division between the classes of property to he relieved and those not to be relieved. In the autumn we propose to lay before Parliament in legislative form our Measure for the reimbursement of the local authorities. We are not going to be hurried one inch In the unfolding of our necessary plan and, let me say, that the profound ignorance and lack of comprehension displayed by all the most learned and intelligent of the Liberal party—I say nothing of the other party opposite—in regard to that portion of 466 the scheme already before them, should alone prevent us from overloading their consciousness at the present time.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Liberal scheme, which as far as I can make out takes the form of making the relief of the able-bodied poor a national charge on the Exchequer. You could hardly have a more vicious plan. You weaken the responsibility of the local authorities, to whom, nevertheless, you must entrust the business of administration. Yon afford no effective control to the Exchequer which has to pay the Bill. You overburden the already congested business of the national Parliament with continuous disputes about the difficult question of unemployment benefit. Just on the morrow of the House of Commons having decided to free itself, to a large extent, from a vast burden of un-covenanted benefit, you reimport that system into the very centre of our political affairs, and I am assured that if the policy which is proposed by the right hon. Gentleman and his friends in the Yellow Book, and to which he has affirmed his allegiance to-day, were brought into play inequalities of a serious character would arise. For instance, if you put the relief of the able-bodied poor on to the Exchequer here are some of the effects which, I am assured, would be felt by industry in different cities. Industry in Sheffield would get a relief of one-seventh of its rates; in Newcastle, of one-sixth of the rates; in Middlesbrough, of one-tenth; in Merthyr, of one-fourteenth; in Bolton, of one-thirty-secondth; in Birmingham, of one-thirty-sixth. Those are the reliefs which would be given to industry as a result of the operation of this part, at any rate, of the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. How does that compare, as far as giving a stimulus to industry is concerned, with our plan of giving three-fourths.
Now, Sir, of course we appealed for and invited co-operation in this policy, but I must quite frankly say that I never expected to get it. I was quite sure that we should have to fight every inch of our road, and I think we must be prepared to do so. There are, of course, anomalies and hard cases which could be brought up to baffle the policy of legislation, to darken counsel, and to create prejudice and unpopularity, but I do not believe that an opposition relying only on hard 467 cases and anomalies and inconsistencies can really hold its own against the advance of a concerted and symmetrical scheme. As to all that will be necessary to carry this scheme through, I assign no limits at the present moment to the efforts which will be necessary, but, at any rate, you may be quite sure that both in the relief of productive industry and in the handling of this large rating question, we shall make a good job of what we have set out to do. There will be hard cases, but there is no need really for us to be afraid of that. After all, we are only striking off shackles. The great triumphs and successes of Liberalism in the nineteenth century came from the fact that they were consistently, over several generations, advocating the striking off of shackles on enterprise, trade, and the social life of the country. What we are doing now is to strike the economic shackle of rates from the industries and agriculture of the country, and you cannot tell exactly how, or exactly when, or exactly in what form the benefit will inure, but that everything will be better, somewhat better and somewhat easier, as the result of this removal of a great adverse factor in the efficiency of our production, no one can doubt. When you embark on a course of restriction or repression, caution and hesitancy should rightly impose themselves upon you but when you are embarked upon a course of relief and liberation, advance with courage.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to invite me—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"]—to put to him a question that I endeavoured to submit in the course of his speech. I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his courtesy—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] I can only wish—[Interruption]—
§ Mr. SHINWELL
I can only wish that the courtesy advanced by the right hon. Gentleman to myself in his invitation were characteristic of the opposite benches. I desire to put to him now questions—in my judgment, pertinent and legitimate questions—that were not put to him in the course of the Debate, and I invite him now to enlighten the 468 House as to the measure of relief that he claims will be afforded to the coal industry of this country when the provisions embodied in this Measure are applied. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] But since hon. Members opposite appear to be more anxious to suppress Members on these benches in the expression of their views, I propose to say a few words on the general subject now before the House. Does the right hon. Gentleman imagine that we are to be fobbed off by an exposition of brilliant dialectic, such as we have had this evening? If the right hon. Gentleman had given us less raillery and more realism, there would have been less need for interruption, and possibly a greater measure of agreement. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] We on these benches are not opposed to the provision of relief for British industry, but we are entitled to demand that, in its direction, efficiency should be promoted, and we have had no guarantee from the right hon. Gentleman or from the Minister of Health in that respect. Are we to throw away something like £30,000,000 of public money without guarantees of any sort?
We are told by the Minister of Health that these proposals could not be regarded as a subsidy. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] What does the right hon. Gentleman understand a subsidy to be? If we take £30,000,000 of public money and give it directly to British industry that is a subsidy, but, if we remove some of the burdens now imposed upon British industry, and thrust them upon the shoulders of the taxpayer, it is just as much a subsidy as if the amount had been paid in a direct form. Therefore, why conceal the fact that a subsidy is embodied in these proposals? This proposal is in direct succession to the subsidies for which the right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Benches have been responsible in the past, but we are entitled, when such a subsidy is proposed, to ascertain whether that subsidy is to be wisely used—
§ Mr. STEPHEN
On a point of Order, Sir, I want to ask you if, when someone on the Front Government Bench is making a speech in future, and he is being treated as my hon. Friend is being treated, you will sit still and allow it, or will you insist on order?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I wish the hon. Gentleman and his friends would help me a little more. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not given as good a hearing as I should have liked.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
I want assurances from the right hon. Gentleman that the provision of this subsidy shall be accompanied by guarantees satisfactory to both the consumers in this country and the wage-earners. The right hon. Gentleman said that, while it was true that the amount of relief to be furnished to the mining industry amounted to 3d. per ton, there was an additional 3d. which arose from the reduction in railway freights. There was to be 6d. in all. Does he imagine that the additional advantage arising from the reduction in railway freights will amount to 3d. a ton in respect of our export trade in coal?
§ Mr. SHINWELL
The export counties, such as Durham and Northumberland, and South Wales, are near the seaboard, and the reduction in railway freights there cannot be anything like 3d. per ton. If 3d. per ton is the average, the amount received in respect of the export counties will be something in the nature of 1d. per ton. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he believes that 4d. a ton will be an advantage to the mining industry in the Continental markets? It is not a lower price in the Continental markets we want in order to improve the coal industry; it is a higher price for coal, both inland and for export. I want a greater measure of accuracy from the right hon. Gentleman. Brilliant rhetoric, clever dialectics and raillery at right hon. Gentlemen on these Benches and below the Gangway, while it may be a fine political game, is not satisfactory to the people we represent. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] I have been returned to this House recently by miners, many of whom have been out of work for the past three years through the disgraceful policy of His Majesty's Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"] There are townships in my constituency where not a single pit is working at the present time, and every single miner is unemployed, and where many of those unemployed miners 470 are receiving no measure of relief. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] I say to the right hon. Gentleman, "If you believe this will afford a measure of relief, then give us an assurance that that relief will percolate down to these humble constituents of ours." We are entitled to such an assurance. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that there are industrial firms who are to be provided with a measure of relief. I do not propose to enter into a controversy with him as to the proprietry of such a proceeding. We can discuss that on some other occasion. But if it is good enough to provide relief for Messrs. Courtauld, why is it not good enough to provide relief for the impoverished miners in Scotland, Durham and elsewhere throughout the mining areas?
§ Mr. SHINWELL
We have been told that the relief of the miners of South Wales is a matter for private charity, and the Mansion House Fund was instituted, out of which relief was to be afforded to the miners, while Messrs Courtauld, the anthracite groups in South Wales, and brewery concerns are to get relief under this Measure. I want to protest with the strength at my command against this Measure, and I am doing so in a House which I know is unsympathetic. [HON. MEMBERS "Divide!"] I care for the people outside. I protest, not so much against the characteristic attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite, as against the deplorable attitude adopted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. One might be vastly amused by the right hon. Gentleman's perambulations and dialectics if it were not for the deplorable plight of the people outside. We are entitled to expect something more Alan clowning from a responsible Minister. What does it matter to the workers outside if the Chancellor of the Exchequer points to the defects of 471 his former associate, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, because they are of a sort in our judgment. We are concerned with realities and not with mere rhetoric. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] Hon. Members opposite may shout "Divide," but do they imagine that we are at this time of night to be intimidated and bullied by party cries which I admit are quite natural under the circumstances. It is not my personal wish to detain the House, but it is essential within the Rules of Order, and, while I should be the last to transgress the Rules so far as you, Mr. Speaker, are personally concerned, I should be the last to allow myself to be intimidated by hon. Gentlemen on the opposite benches, and the sooner they recognise that the better for themselves.
Lastly, we shall have the opportunity, in the Committee stage of this Bill, to join issue with the right hon. Gentleman on the realities of the provisions embodied in it. I want to tell him that I yield to no one in the desire for relief for British industry, and I believe that I can
§ see an element of satisfaction in the Measure that he has propounded; but we are not blinded, either by the ineffectiveness of the Measure, by its difficulties or by its undoubted weaknesses, and, when we point to these difficulties, we are entitled to the courtesy that one expects from reputed statesmen on Measures of this sort. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman has not treated the House with the courtesy to which it is entitled, and has not even treated this Measure with the courtesy to which it is entitled. If it is an important Measure, it, should be treated in an important way, and not in a stupid fashion. I content myself with that, and shall ask for information at a later stage.
§ Mr. J. JONES rose—
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 307; Noes, 140.475
|Division No. 154.]||AYES.||[10.37 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Burman, J. B||Davies, Dr. Vernon|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Burton, Colonel H. W.||Dean, Arthur Wellesley|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Butt, Sir Alfred||Dixey, A. C.|
|Apsley, Lord||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Caine, Gordon Hall||Drewe, C.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Campbell, E. T.||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Carver, Major W. H.||Elliot, Major Walter E.|
|Atkinson, C.||Cassels, J. D.||Ellis, R. G.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.M.)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith|
|Balniel, Lord||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox, Univ.)||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Fairfax, Captain J. G.|
|Barnett Major Sir Richard||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Chilcott, Sir Warden||Fielden, E. E.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Christie, J. A.||Finburgh, S.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony|
|Bennett, A. J||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Berry, sir George||Colfox, Major William Phillips||Gates, Percy|
|Birchair, Major J. Dearman||Colman, N. C. D.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Cope, Major Sir William||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Couper, J. B.||Goft, Sir Park|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Grace, John|
|Brass, Captain W.||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Grant, Sir J. A.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (W'th's'w, E)|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Grotrian, H. Brent|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Buchan, John||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hacking, Douglas H.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Davidson, Bt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||Hall, Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Hamilton, Sir George||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Hammersley, S. S.||MacIntyre, Ian||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Hanbury, C.||McLean, Major A.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Macmillan, Captain H.||Sandan, Lord|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Macquisten, F. A.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Malone, Major P. B.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's univ., Belfst)|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Meller, R. J.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Mayer, Sir Frank||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Smithers, Waldron|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Hilton, Cecil||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Hohier, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Streatfelld, Captain S. R.|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Styles, Captain H. Walter|
|Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Templeton, W. P.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Nuttall, Ellis||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Oakley, T.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton.)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Hurd, Percy A.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Hurst, Gerald B.||Penny, Frederick George||Thomson, Rt. Hon. sir W. Mitchell-|
|Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Tinne, J. A.|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Parkins, Colonel E. K.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen't)||Perring, Sir William George||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon Cuthbert||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stake New'gton)||Philipson, Mabel||Waddington, R.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Pilcher, G.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston on-Hull)|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Power, Sir John Cecil||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Preston, William||Wells, S. R.|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Price, Major C. W. M.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Raine, Sir Walter||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Ramsden, E.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Little, Dr. E. Graham||Remer, J. R.||Wolmer, viscount|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Rice, Sir Frederick||Womersley, W. J.|
|Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Richardson, Sir P W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Loder, J. de V.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Looker, Herbert William||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Lougher, Lewis||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Ropner, Major L.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Young, Rt. Hon.SIr Hilton (Norwich)|
|Lumley, L. R.||Rye, F. G.|
|Lynn, Sir R. J.||Salmon, Major I.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Captain Margesson and Captain|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Cape, Thomas||Gibbins, Joseph|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Charleton, H. C.||Gillett, George M.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Cluse, W. S.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Compton, Joseph||Greenall, T.|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Connolly, M.||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Baker, Walter||Cove, W. G.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Griffith, F. Kingsley|
|Barr, J.||Crawfurd, H. E.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Batey, Joseph||Dalton, Hugh||Grundy, T. W.|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Day, Harry||Hardie, George D.|
|Briant, Frank||Dennison, R||Harney, E. A.|
|Broad, F. A.||Duncan, C.||Harris, Percy A.|
|Bromfield, William||Dunnico, H.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon|
|Bromley, J.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hayday, Arthur|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Fenby, T. D.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Butt)||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Hirst, G. H.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Oliver, George Harold||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Owen, Major G.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Palin, John Henry||Stephen, Campbell|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Paling, W.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Strauss, E. A.|
|Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Sullivan, J.|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Sutton, J. E.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Potts, John S.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Purcell, A. A.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Kelly, W. T.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Kennedy, T.||Ritson, J.||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Townend, A. E.|
|Kirkwood, D.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Lansbury, George||Rose, Frank H.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Lawrence, Susan||Runciman, Hilda (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Lawson, John James||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Lee, F.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Lindley, F. W.||Scrymgeour, E.||Westwood, J.|
|Lowth, T.||Scurr, John||Whiteley, W.|
|Lunn, William||Sexton, James||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|MacLaren, Andrew||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Shinwell, E.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|MacNeill-Weir, L.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Windsor, Walter|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)||Wright, W.|
|March, S.||Sitch, Charles H.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Montague, Frederick||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Morris, R. H.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Mr. Hayes and Mr. A. Barnes.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Snell, Harry|
§ Question put, accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out, stand part of the Question."476
§ The House divided: Ayes, 308; Noes, 140.479
|Division No. 155.]||AYES.||[10.48 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Butt, Sir Alfred||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Elliot, Major Walter E.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Caine, Gordon Hall||Ellis, R. G.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Campbell, E. T.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Carver, Major W. H.||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith|
|Apsley, Lord||Cassels, J. D.||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Fairfax, Captain J. G.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Atkinson, C.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Fermoy, Lord|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox, Univ.)||Fielden, E. B.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Finburgh, S.|
|Balniel, Lord||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Forrest, W.|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Chilcott, Sir Warden||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Christie, J. A.||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony|
|Bernett, Major Sir Richard||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P H.||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Gates, Percy|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Bennett, A. J.||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Colman, N. C. D.||Goff, Sir Park|
|Barry, Sir George||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Cope, Major Sir William||Grace, John|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Couper, J. B.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Grant, Sir J. A.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. w.||Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (W'th's'w, E.)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Crott, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Grotrian, H. Brent|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hacking, Douglas H.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hall, Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)|
|Brown, Maj. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Hamilton, Sir George|
|Bochan, John||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hammersley, S. S.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Hanbury, C.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Harrison, G. J. C.|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Burman, J. B.||Dixey, A. C.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Drewe, C.||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Malone, Major P. S.||Sandon, Lord|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Margesson, Captain D.||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Meller, R. J.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Hilton, Cecil||Meyer, Sir Frank||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Milne, J. S. wardlaw-||Skelton, A. N.|
|Hohier, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Hopkinson, sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Morden, Colonel Walter Grant||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)||Nelson, Sir Frank||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Hudson, R. s. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)||Naville, Sir Reginald J.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Nicholson, D. (Westminster)||Styles, Captain H. W.|
|Hunter-Waston, Lt.-Gen. sir Aylmer||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Hurst, Gerald B.||Oakley, T.||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Templeton, W. P.|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen't)||Penny, Frederick George||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Jones, sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Perring, Sir William George||Tinne, J. A.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Philipson, Mabel||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Pilcher, G.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Pilditch, sir Philip||Waddington, R.|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Power, Sir John Cecil||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Proston, William||Ward. Lt. Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Price, Major C. W. M.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Little, Dr. E. Graham||Raine, Sir Walter||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Ramsden, E.||Wells, S. R.|
|Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Loder, J. de V.||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Looker, Herbert William||Remer, J. R.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Lougher, Lewis||Rice, Sir Frederick||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Luce, Maj.-Gen Sir Richard Harman||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Lumley, L. R.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Lynn, sir R. J.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|MacAndrsw, Major Charles Glen||Ropner, Major L.||Wood, E. (Chest'r, stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Rye, F, G.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|MacIntyre, Ian||Salmon, Major I.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L|
|McLean, Major A.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)|
|Macmillan, Captain H.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Sandeman, N. Stewart||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Commander B. Eyres Monsell and|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Major Sir George Hennessy.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Cove, W. G.||Harney, E. A.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Harris, Percy A.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Crawfurd, H. E.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Dalton, Hugh||Hayday, Arthur|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)|
|Baker, Walter||Day, Harry||Hirst, G. H.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery).||Dennison, R.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Barr, J.||Duncan, C.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Batey, Joseph||Dunnico, H.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Fenby, T. D.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)|
|Briant, Frank||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Broad, F. A.||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)|
|Bromfield, William||Gibbins, Joseph||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Bromley, J.||Gillett, George M.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Greenall, T.||Kelly, W. T.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Kennedy, T.|
|Cape, Thomas||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Kenwortny, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M|
|Charleton, H. C.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Kirkwood, D.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Grundy, T. W.||Lansbury, George|
|Compton, Joseph||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lawrence, Susan|
|Connolly, M.||Hardie, George D.||Lawson, John James|
|Leo, F.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Lindley, F. W.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Lowth, T.||Rose, Frank H.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Lunn, William||Runciman, Hilda (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Mac Donald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Tinker, John Joseph|
|MacLaren, Andrew||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Townend, A. E.|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Scrymgeour, E.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P|
|MacNeill-Weir, L.||Scurr, John||Varley, Frank B.|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Sexton, James||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|March, S.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Montague, Frederick||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Morris, R. H.||Shinwell, E.||Westwood, J.|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)||Whlteley, W.|
|Oliver, George Harold||Sitch, Charles H.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Owen, Major G.||Slesser, Sir Henry H||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Palin, John Henry||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rothernhithe)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Paling, W.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Snell, Harry||Windsor, Walter|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Wright, W.|
|Ponsonby, Arthur||Stamford, T. W.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Potts, John S.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Purcell, A. A.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Strauss, E. A.||Mr. Hayes and Mr. A. Barnes.|
|Ritson, J.||Sullivan, Joseph|
Bill read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for To-morrow.—[Mr. Chamberlain.]