§ Dr. SALTER
I beg to (move, in page 12, line 29, to leave out from the word "year," to the word "quota" in line 32.
534 The effect of this Amendment would be to omit the words:or by reason of the estimated average price of home-grown millable wheat ceasing to be less than the standard price.This Amendment was put down with the object of drawing the Minister, and inducing him to give us his views on whether the price of home-grown wheat 535 is likely to rise above the standard price. I am very glad that the First Commissioner of Works is to reply, because I know he understands the Bill, and it has been perfectly obvious since the Debate started that the Minister of Agriculture does not understand it. It is also perfectly certain that the First Commissioner of Works has some very decided views on the subject, while the Minister of Agriculture is apparently only able to repeat the views which are handed to him on a piece of paper or communicated to him orally from the official pew. [Interruption.] Certainly that is so. I hope the First Commissioner will be able to give us a very definite estimate. The price of homegrown wheat necessarily depends upon the free market price, which, in turn, depends on the world price, and that is determined by the supply, and particularly by the question of whether there is or is not a world surplus.
At the present moment the world carryover of wheat is simply enormous, and it is increasing year by year. The official figures for Canada were given to us the other day, and they are really striking. In 1926 the carry-over was 26,000,000 bushels, in 1927 36,000,000 bushels, in 1928 50,000,000 bushels, in 1929 77,000,000 bushels, in 1930 104,000,000 bushels and in 1931 111,000,000 bushels. The estimated carry-over at 31st December, 1931, was no less than 212,000,000 bushels. That is the figure for Canada alone. That 212,000,000 bushels represents almost the total supply required by the United Kingdom for one year. The position in Canada is paralleled in a number of other countries. When an ex-Minister for the Dominion was addressing us in the Committee Room in Westminster Hall the other night he finished up with these words, which I took down at the time:As far as can be seen the positionthat is, in regard to Canada,will be even more serious when the next harvest is reaped.The position is exactly the same in the United States; and we know that the estimated surplus in Russia after the next autumn reaping will be very much greater than last year's. Each year a larger area in Russia is being collectivised and sown and reaped under a system of complete mechanisation. The last official figures that I have seen from the Soviet 536 Union showed that the estimated surplus available for export from Russia from the present harvest would be nearly one-third greater than last year. That means that we are going to have on the world market in this coming year a greater surplus than has ever been known before in the history of the world. I do not think there is any dispute in trade circles on that particular point. A great many hon. Members opposite would desire to exclude Russian wheat products from this country. I have heard that view expressed in this House over and over again. It would not matter in the least degree to the world wheat situation if we did exclude Russian wheat products. All that would happen would be that the surplus not sold here would be dumped upon the general neutral markets. We should be shutting out very good wheat at an extremely cheap price and buying a relatively inferior wheat at a higher price. We should do ourselves no good, but simply cut off our noses to spite our faces.
Then we have had talk in this House within the last few days about the surplus of wheat which is to be exported from India in this coming season. The Viceroy opened a great dam on the Indus a few weeks ago. I understood from an Anglo-Indian gentleman in the Lobby here only a couple of days ago that a good many of the lands now being irrigated have since been sown or were sown before the dam was opened. The Punjab expects this year to be able to return to the position of being an exporter of wheat, and it did not export last year. From this year onward there will be an increasing export of wheat from our Indian Empire. That, again, will aggravate the situation so far as the world price is concerned. The Oriental people hoped that they would absorb this great surplus. It was assumed that the rising standard of living in the East would cause the people to substitute wheat for rice for ordinary consumption, but hope in that direction has been defeated, because those Orientals who have consumed wheat in place of rice found that from the point of view of health they have not been so well as with their native diet, and to a very large extent Orientals have returned to the old diet.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I have listened to the hon. Member very carefully. As far as I can make out he is giving reasons why, if the supply of wheat becomes much larger, the price of imported wheat would be very low. The hon. Member has been very long, but I do not think he is out of order.
§ Dr. SALTER
That was precisely the intention of my remarks. I was trying to show that there was no likelihood whatever of the home price either approximating to the standard price or rising appreciably at all within any for-seeable time, that the prospect was that the surplus will be further increased in the course of the next few years, and that that fact alone will certainly involve a stabilisation of the home price at the present figure, if it does not actually diminish it. The general feeling in what I might call the corn and flour world is that the present low price will continue to rule for a fair number of years to come at the very least, and in these circumstances there seems little or no prospect of the home price reaching the standard price mentioned in the Bill.
§ Mr. SKELTON
I do not propose to follow the hon. Gentleman in his very interesting remarks as to the future of wheat prices. I fancy there is an alternative view, based on the well-known fact that when the price of an agricultural product falls to a very low level, there is an immediate reaction in the restriction of area. I do not propose to discuss that in full, and for this reason: The Clause is really only a machinery Clause, and the phrase which the hon. Gentleman wishes to have excised is in the Bill only for one purpose. I have my own suspicion that the hon. Gentleman already understands that, but he did not state it openly. The Clause is for this purpose: The Wheat Commission should be enabled, even when the estimated average price has risen, let us suppose temporarily, to the standard price, to raise by way of quota certain small sums necessary for its continuing its administrative existence. That is the object of the words to which the hon. Member seems to take exception. I think the Committee will agree that, whatever may be individual views as to the remoteness or proximity of the contingency of the estimated average price rising to that of the standard price, when you are 538 putting in machinery Clauses it is well to prevent, in that contingency, the financial existence of the Wheat Commission coming to an untimely end. I think the hon. Member will see that the words have a real value, although he has given them additional value by using them as a peg on which to hang an interesting dissertation on the future of wheat prices.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
We have an Amendment on the Paper to leave out the words:or may, if he is satisfied that the circumstances so require, by order direct that the liability to make quota payments other than those already accrued clue shall cease until a further order is made,but, as it has not been called, I must raise the point on the Motion, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." Power is given to the Minister in the middle of the year suddenly to cease charging quota payments at all. It seems to us that in those circumstances, if that power is retained, he may act very unequally as regards the supply of flour and possibly react on the farmer. As I understand the Clause it is intended to be brought into use only when Clause 3 fails to operate for some reason. It is not easy to understand why the Minister wants both of these powers, in the circumstances in which he has to operate the one or the other. In Clause 3, Subsection (5), it is stated:If at any time during a cereal year the Minister considers that, for the purpose of securing that the average amount of the quota payments which will have accrued due during the cereal year shall more nearly represent the sum mentioned in Sub-section (1) of this Section, it is expedient so to do, he may, after consultation with the Wheat Commission, by a subsequent order supersede the order theretofore in force under this Section as from the date of the subsequent order.That is to say, he can vary the amount of the quota payment which has to be made in the second portion of the year. That variation, of course, can be down to nothing if he wants it. If it starts at being 2s. 6d. to 3s. per sack, it can fall to, nothing if in the middle of the year the 539 Minister finds that too large a sum is being accumulated, or that there has been an alteration in the market conditions that requires a smaller sum to be found. In those circumstances it is very difficult to understand what it is that is wanted in Clause 7. The Minister has already power to reduce the quota payment at any period, down to nothing, and similarly when he comes to make the Order for the next cereal year, having examined the condition of the Wheat Fund, he can say that in the circumstances it is not necessary to raise any more money or, there being a deficiency, that the quota must be higher than the calculated figure.
As regards the final words of Clause 7, it seems to us to be undesirable, in the middle of a cereal year, for the reasons stated at the beginning of the Clause, entirely to discontinue quota payments, because that may lead to people, when prices are rising, again gambling in what is likely to happen with the quota payment. If they think that at a certain period of the year the quota payment is likely to stop altogether, they may put off getting wheat imported, simply use up the stocks that are in the country, and delay their purchases until such time as they think the quota is going to fall. If the quota is likely to rise they will act the other way round. We suggest that it is not desirable to encourage any speculation of that sort unless it is absolutely necessary. We do not see the necessity for inserting this extra power under Clause 7, in addition to the power already conferred under Clause 3.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
The very purpose of Clause 7 is to enable the Minister, in lieu of prescribing the amount of quota payments, to prescribe during that year quota payments of such amounts as he considers expedient for those purposes. The Clause also gives the Minister power to direct that the liability to make quota payments other than those already accrued due shall cease until a further Order is made. I think that is quite clear. Another part of the Clause provides sufficient money to get the machinery into existence, but in any case the words which the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) has moved to leave out are essential in order that the Minister may make an Order directing that the liability to make further payments shall cease but without prejudice to any liability in respect of quota payments proved to be due. I think it is clear that those words are necessary to complete the arrangements which have been made, and on those grounds the Government cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what the reason is for separating these powers which seem to be a mere extension of the powers concerned by Clause 3, and which makes it more difficult to find them when looking through the Bill?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
This Clause deals with the circumstances which arise when certain levels have been reached in price.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 231; Noes, 41.541
|Division No. 120.]||AYES.||[8.3 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Christie, James Archibald|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Boyce, H. Leslie||Clarke, Frank|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Broadbent, Colonel John||Colfox, Major William Philip|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Colville, John|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Conant, R. J. E.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Cook, Thomas A.|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Browne, Captain A. C.||Cooke, Douglas|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Burgin, Dr, Edward Leslie||Craven-Ellis, William|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Caine, G. R. Hall-||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, G.)||Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Croom-Johnson, R. P.|
|Bernays, Robert||Campbell, Rear-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Crossley, A. C.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Blindell, James||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Denman, Hon. R. D.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Dickie, John P.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Donner, P. W.|
|Drewe, Cedric||Levy, Thomas||Rentoul Sir Gervais S.|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Lewis, Oswald||Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Eales, John Frederick||Lister, Rt. Hon. sir Philip Cunliffe-||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Robinson, John Roland|
|Elmley, Viscount||Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Rosbotham, S. T.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blk'pool)||Mabane, William||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Everard, W, Lindsay||McKie, John Hamilton||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Fermoy, Lord||McLean, Major Alan||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Salmon, Major Isidore|
|Fuller, Captain A. O.||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Maitland, Adam||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Petney)|
|Gillett, Sir George Master man||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Martin, Thomas B.||Scone, Lord|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Goff. Sir Park||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Millar, Sir James Duncan||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Greene, William P. C.||Mitcheson, G. G.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Moreing, Adrian C.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Moss, Captain H. J.||Stones, James|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Muirhead, Major A. J.||Storey, Samuel|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Munro, Patrick||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Hartland, George A.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle)||Newton, Sir Douglas George C.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Templeton, William P.|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Nicholson. Rt. Hon. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Hope, Capt. Arthur O. J. (Aston)||Nunn, William||Thompson, Luke|
|Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||O'Connor, Terence James||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Ormiston, Thomas||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Pearson, William G.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Penny, Sir George||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Iveagh, Countess of||Petherick, M.||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n,Bilston)||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Jennings, Roland||Pike, Cecil F.||Weymouth, viscount|
|Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.J|
|Kerr, Hamilton W.||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Kimball, Lawrence||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Islet)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Ramsden, E.||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Ratcliffe, Arthur||Wolmer, Rt. Hon Viscount|
|Law, Sir Alfred||Rea, Walter Russell||Wragg, Herbert|
|Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Leckie, J. A.||Reid, David D. (County Down)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Held, William Allan (Derby)||Mr. Womersley and Lord Erskine.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grenfell, David Rest (Glamorgan)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grundy, Thomas W.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Batey, Joseph||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Briant, Frank||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Price, Gabriel|
|Buchanan, George||Hirst, George Henry||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cape, Thomas||Holdsworth, Herbert||Thorne, William James|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Janner, Barnett||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cowan, D. M.||John, William||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Daggar, George||Kirkwood, David||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|navies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lawson, John James|
|Edwards, Charles||Logan, David Gilbert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Lunn, William||Mr. Duncan Graham and Mr.|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Groves.|
Motion made, and Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.