§ 4.35 p.m.
§ Mr. DAVID GRENFELL
I beg to move, in page 2, line 25, after "animals," to insert "which have been sold for slaughter."
It is our intention to make certain that the payments referred to in this Clause which are to be made out of the Cattle Fund to producers of cattle in respect of certain categories shall only be made when the beast is sold for slaughter. The words of the Amendment make the position plain, and it is our intention to avoid the possibility of extensive trafficking in cattle in anticipation of the subsidy by people who are already too numerous and take too large a share of the proceeds of the cattle industry. The Minister and the House know that in the preparation of beef for the market there is considerable trafficking. The young cattle are bought and brought together usually in large numbers by people who make a business of preparing livestock for the market. Very often one finds that young beasts are taken away from the place where they have been bought to certain suitable areas in the course of preparation for market. The business of preparing beast for slaughter is a very highly skilled and specialised one, and in that preparation, in which the livestock breeder plays so important a part, there are also people who make it their business to buy and sell these beasts. The dealer who makes it his business to buy and sell does not play any part in the actual fattening or preparation of the beast. It is because we believe that there is already too large an element of speculation and of trafficking in this business that we provide in our Amendment that no payment shall be made except to the cattle producer. As there are other Amendments on the Order Paper, to which, I understand, Captain Bourne, you are permitting me to refer in the course of my arguments on this Amendment, I would point out that we wish to make certain that the person to receive the subsidy shall be the person responsible for the production of beef 1566 and not the person who comes in between and takes advantage of market conditions.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
It seems to me that on the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies)—in page 3, line 27, to leave out "United Kingdom," and to insert "possession of the applicant "—it would be very difficult to argue any point which did not. arise on the hon. Gentleman's Amendment, and the more I listen to the hon. Gentleman, the more I am convinced that that is the case.
§ Mr. GRENFELL
Our intention is that a person shall not be able to buy any number of cattle for preparation for market or for reaching marketable condition and sell them again to somebody else, so that the dealer receives the subsidy and not the producer who has prepared the beast for market. I am speaking in the presence of people who know the business very much more intimately than I do, but hon. Members will realise that very often these cattle may be sold a few weeks before they are actually due for slaughtering. Where they change hands shortly before being turned into beef it is bound to result in a grave miscarriage of justice and a misuse of the purposes of the subsidy. If such a thing is encouraged and opportunity is given to a dealer to buy a beast, and then, after having it in his possession for a few weeks, to send it forward to the slaughter-house, he will be able to pocket the subsidy which will be payable. If one reads the Bill from beginning to end, he can find no reference to the actual point at which the subsidy is to be paid. There is a reference to carcases, but there is no direct reference to the point at which the subsidy becomes payable. The words of the Clause say thatthe appropriate Ministers may, in accordance with any arrangements approved by them … make out of the Cattle Fund payments to producers of cattle in respect of"—the categories mentioned in paragraphs (a) and (b)— 1567being animals or carcases, as the case may be, which have been sold in the United Kingdom by such producers during a period, and so on.Any cattle sold between the 1st day of August of this year and the 1st day of April of next year will be liable to the payment of the subsidy. The claim, according to the Clause, can be made by anybody who sells a fat beast between these dates without any condition that the animal shall be immediately slaughtered. A person may approach the Treasury and say, "I sold a beast which fell within these two categories, and I claim the money due to me under the Act." Our chief concern is not as to the amount of exploitation of the Measure, but one in which we regard the producer as the person most entitled to benefit under it. The benefit should not go to some sham person who has kept the beast for a few weeks before killing it, and has then sold it, saying: "I want the subsidy of 9s. 4d. per cwt," or 5s. per cwt. if the beast has been sold in a live condition. Therefore, we move the Amendment in the hope that the Minister will find it a necessary and a reasonable one and will clearly lay down the condition that the subsidy shall be given to the cattle producer and not to any person who can step in between the producer and the market and hold the Cattle Fund up to ransom and demand the payment laid down in this Clause.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I am much indebted to the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell) for moving the Amendment. I think that his point is not merely a simple one, but one of importance, namely, the destination of the money payment, and the desire on the part of both sides of the Committee is to ensure that the money payment shall go to the proper person. Clearly, when we have to pay on beef it will not be possible for it to be paid on sales of store stock. The suggestion here is that we can get over the administrative difficulties which may arise by saying "Sold for slaughter." I ask the hon. Member for Gower whether that, in fact, would carry out his desire, namely, to ensure that the money shall go to the producer of the beef and not necessarily to a dealer in beef. It would be possible for a dealer to visit a farm and collect animals which were ready for 1568 slaughter and take them to the market and sell them and collect the money. I think that "Sold for slaughter" will be very difficult to administer, because, as the hon. Gentleman will realise, that is an expression of the intention of the vendor. It is not necessarily binding on the purchaser. The Reorganisation Committee considered that point, and I will read to the Committee in a moment what they said, because it rather comes down against this solution. We came down in favour of the solution "Fit for slaughter"; that is to say, if and when a man has produced a beef animal which is fit for killing and comes up to the standard prescribed by the regulations of the Minister and takes it to a market and sells it, he thereupon qualifies for this deficiency payment.
By our arrangement we ensure that the animal is thereupon marked and that a certificate is given to the seller that he has so sold it. Thereupon, the payment can only be made in connection with this first transaction. He might sell it possibly for a small amount, or, if he did not approve of the price, he could withdraw the animal from sale, but it would have been weighed and stamped as fit for slaughter, and it would still be possible for him on a later occasion when it was sold to get the payment for the beast. It would remain in his power to collect the payment and it would not be in the power of anyone else. All that arises out of the arrangements which will have to be made, and my hon. Friend will see that it all hinges on the arrangements made for certification and marking after the passing of the Act that is, when the animal is certified as fit for slaughter.
We are hard at work upon the arrangements now, and I hope that it may be possible to give more detailed information about them before the House rises. When we are in a position to communicate the information I shall be glad if my hon. Friends will put down a question, or otherwise, to elicit the whole of the information so far as we have gone. We are standing upon the test, "Fit for slaughter." First, has the producer produced a beef animal? Secondly, there and then, we mark the beef animal so that the producer, and not anyone else, may collect the money. I hope that if these arrangements are found satisfactory to my hon. Friend, it will not be neces- 1569 sary for him to press the Amendment. It is unnecessary to read the whole of the passage which I had intended to read from the report of the Reorganisation Commission, but it is germane to say that they point out, on page 32, that there is a class of stock on the border line, in a three-fourths fattened condition, which would be bought for slaughter or for further feeding, according to the requirements at the moment of the meat market.
It would be desirable that that class should not be extinguished. There is the man who buys an animal which is fit for slaughter, but says, "I can put a polish on this beast; I can improve it." In those circumstances it is not necessary for him to take the animal to the abattoir and have it knocked on the head. If he desires, with his special skill, he can put a polish on the beast and bring it to a greater state of fitness, but he will not collect the deficiency payment. That payment falls to the man who produces the beast which is fit for slaughter and sells it. The other man who buys it and further polishes it does not get the money. I hope that explanation will be sufficient to satisfy the hon. Member.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ Major HILLS
The explanation given by the right hon. Gentleman seems to be clear, but I should like him to say what constitutes making an animal fit for slaughter. If an animal is raised, for instance, on a hill farm and it is sent to the lower country to better grass, it will be made fit for slaughter. In the case of a partly fattened animal it may be sold for slaughter or kept for a short time to be completely fattened. Under Clause 2, the man who is to get the payment is the producer. I am sure that we are all anxious that the payment should go to the right person. Would it be the right person if the producer was taken to be merely the last hand that had touched the cattle, that is, the farmer or dealer who had finished off the cattle, even though the finishing process was only a small part in the life history of the animal? I know that it is a very difficult question, and I agree that if you have a rule that you only make payment to the man who has produced an animal fit for slaughter you get a simple rule, but I am not quite sure that that would be just to the stock raiser, especially in the 1570 part of the country that I represent. You may get a large number of cattle that are raised and only partly fattened and then sent away. Where does the equity lie? Who ought to get the subsidy? Cannot the right hon. Gentleman imagine a hard case where the real work put into fattening the animal is done by somebody who only indirectly benefits. He may benefit indirectly by the general rise in the price of stores and of partly fattened animals, but the rise would only take place conditional on the number of stores being reduced. It may well be that the subsidy would leave out the man who had done a large part of the work and it would be given to one who had not so well deserved it. I appreciate the advantage of having a clear rule, but the matter is very difficult, and I should like to trouble the right hon. Gentleman to give me further information.
§ 4.51 p.m.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I can answer my right hon. Friend quite simply. The producer is the man who produces the animal fit for slaughter, and it would be clearly impossible to go back into the store trade. If a man fattens a beast to the point when it is fit for slaughter, he can either by the ordinary commercial transaction sell it to somebody else, and take into account the fact that he is not himself to collect the deficiency payment, or he can send the beast to the market and collect the deficiency payment himself, when, though the animal is subsequently sold to another person and polished by a further process, no further payment can be made. Therefore, we come down to the one question, what is "fit for slaughter"? I should say, in the briefest possible way, that it is an animal that is going to kill out at a certain percentage of its weight. There is no difficulty about that, because we have had to administer similar conditions in connection with Irish fat cattle. Therefore, it comes down to a fairly simple final test of what is an animal fit for the butcher and what is not. Almost in every case people will judge on the ordinary evidence of their eyes, but in the percentage at which the animal will kill out we have a simple test which will be applied.
§ Major HILLS
I am rather anxious, because I am afraid that that arrangement will rule out a large number of stock raisers who will get no direct benefit under the Act.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
We are all agreed as to the store trade, and there is no point at which the deficiency payment can be made in respect of store beasts. It can only be made when the beast is brought forward fit for slaughter. The storeman gets his advantage. We have to remember what would happen if this payment were not made and the price of beasts was down. In that case, the price that would come to the storeman would be so much worse. Clearly, under this arrangement the storeman will get an advantage. There must be some administrative rule under which the payment shall be made, and the administrative rule is whether the beast is fit for killing.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Sir ROBERT SMITH
Let me put this question to the right hon. Gentleman. A producer has produced a beast fit for killing and he is entitled to the deficiency payment, but he may sell the beast to another person, who may further enhance the value of the animal. Must the producer who brought the animal up to the fit stage for deficiency payment claim that subsidy, or can he sell the beast to another man and transfer to that other party the right to claim the payment?
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
In the old days in Lincolnshire the dealers used to come to the farms and buy the fat cattle. Now, I understand that it is proposed to do all the marking in the markets. It was convenient for the farmers when the dealers came round to the farms. In that case will the arrangements about marking work? Will the beast be marked in the dealers' hands? If so, will there not be difficulty about getting the payments?
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
Marking must be done under supervision, and therefore it can only be done at an approved centre. We estimate that there will be some hundreds of these approved centres. Clearly, it would be impossible to have an officer in attendance at every place where a sale may take place, or, alternatively, to allow private individuals to have control of the marking apparatus, which clearly might be a source of, let me say, great convenience to them, if not great profit. The apparatus for marking must be in the hands of somebody responsible, and therefore it must be at 1572 an approved centre. Therefore, if a man sold a beast on the farm he would have to sell it without the marking, trusting to the dealer to give him a price in accordance with what he has learned, by the wireless or otherwise, to be the prevailing price for fat stock. There is no very great danger in that. The producer, if he is dissatisfied with the price offered by the dealer, can himself send the beast to the market and claim the deficiency payment.
§ Sir R. SMITH
Can he transfer the right to the deficiency payment to the man to whom he sells the beast, if it is ready for slaughter?
§ Mr. ELLIOT
If he sells it, after it has been marked, in his own name, he cannot transfer it, but if he sells it before it has been marked, he can transfer it.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
Take the case of farms where they have a disposal sale when somebody dies or when farms are given up. In some cases the number of cattle may be 200 or 300. Will it be possible to deal with those cases by marking on the farm?
§ Mr. ELLIOT
It would be possible to deal with them if there were large numbers, but it would be inadvisable to multiply the centres unnecessarily, because that would raise the administrative cost and thereby less money would be available to be distributed to the producers. It is desirable to work the centres as cheaply as possible. In general, a price level will be established which will be broadcast all over the country and when such price level has been established private transactions will in a great many cases take place before the deficiency payment has been paid in those particular instances.
§ 4.59 p.m.
§ Mr. D. GRENFELL
I think we can now understand what it is proposed to do. Arrangements are to be made—and those arrangements will be made known to the people concerned and also to the House in due course—for the certification of beasts sold for beef purposes, and that certification will carry the right to the deficiency payment. There is only one certification and that certification will be made the test. There will be no possibility that the beast will carry two payments or that two persons will draw the 1573 subsidy in respect of one beast. We are prepared to withdraw the Amendment on an understanding from the Minister that he does not encourage trafficking in beasts which are almost fit for marketing or the creation of any doubt whether the actual producer may be exploited by a system which the dealers may invent among themselves to circumvent the intention of the Bill and to prevent the producer from getting his due payment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 5 p.m.
§ Mr. ROSS TAYLOR
I beg to move, in page 2, line 27, to leave out from "on," to "and," in line 29, and to insert:the first day of September, nineteen hundred and thirty-four.The purpose of the Amendment is to determine the date upon which payments under the Bill shall begin instead of leaving it to be determined in the future as is proposed in the Bill. The Minister of Agriculture will probably say that, in view of the difficulty of setting up a rather complicated organisation, it will be well to have a little latitude in the matter of the time, and that if no date is fixed and the machinery is not ready, no harm will be done. I suggest that if he fixes on the date proposed in the Amendment, which I believe is the date he had in mind when he spoke on the Financial Resolution, and we know that his preparations are well advanced, he need have no fear that those responsible for setting up the organisation will let him down and will not be ready on 1st September. The Ministry of Agriculture in the last few years has shown itself to be admirably equipped for dealing with schemes of great magnitude and complexity at short notice and with great expedition, and I feel that on this occasion they will be able to do the same. My experience as a former Government official, not under the present Government, is that in some respects it is better to have a fixed date. From the point of view of the cattle producer it is of vital importance that payments should begin at the earliest possible moment. For two years at least prices have been quite unremunerative and many producers of cattle are in desperate straits to-day, 1574 there are very few who are not in difficulty. Now this hope is being held out and surely it is not too much to ask that it shall be given to them at the earliest possible date.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ Captain HEILGERS
I should like to support the Amendment, and to point out to the Government that September is the first of the big months for beef supplies. The only other point I want to make is this, that the later you leave it, the later you leave the commencement of the operation of the subsidy, the more likely you are to get an extra quantity and thus intensify the autumn glut in September and November, which it is the object of the subsidy to defeat.
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Mr. Skelton)
I appreciate the reasons why the Amendment has been moved. The hon. Member who moved it did, in fact, anticipate clearly the answer that I shall have to give. We are all of us most desirous that it should be possible to begin payment on the 1st September, should my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture find it possible to fix that date, but it would be unwise, with some five or six weeks of intensive organisation before us, to bind us by legislation to that particular date. I am glad of this opportunity, seeing that the question of date has been raised, of saying that the utmost expedition is being used; and what is more that every possible difficulty has as far as possible been figured in advance and dealt with in advance, which is really the essence of good administration. While we have real hopes that the 1st September may very well be the date on which payment will begin, it would be unwise to make it the legal date.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Mr. C. BROWN
We on these benches have a great deal of sympathy with the hon. Members who have moved and supported this Amendment, and if they care to divide the Committee on the matter, and would like to have our valuable support, we will do everything we can to ensure that the farming community shall have the swag at the earliest possible moment.
The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland says that there is every 1575 prospect of 1st September being the date; I should like to ask if he will be in a position before the House rises to make a definite pronouncement on the matter?
§ Mr. SKELTON
I do not think it would be possible in view of the few days which remain to give such an assurance. The assurance I have given is that every possible effort is being made to ensure a date as early as possible, and as soon as it can be done an announcement will be made.
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ Mr. PALING
I can appreciate the desire of hon. Members opposite to get the money as soon as possible. I was very interested in the argument of the hon. and gallant Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Captain Heilgers) that, if the Minister would pay the subsidy between the 1st September and the 14th September, all the autumn cattle would come in between those dates. I wonder if farmers would do that if they knew that the subsidy was going to start on 14th September.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
In view of the assurance given by the Under-Secretary of State, and notwithstanding the very kind offer of hon. Members of the Labour party, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Mr. PALING
I beg to move, in page 3, line 14, at the end, to insert:(3) An application for the issue of a certificate for the purposes of this section in respect of an animal shall not be granted unless it is shown to the satisfaction of the person whose function it is to entertain the application that the applicant is paying wages to persons employed by him in accordance with the provisions of the Agricultural Wages (Regulation) Act, 1924.Numerous question have been asked in the House relating to the wages of agricultural labourers and the Government have endeavoured to prove that in spite of the fact that prices have dropped and all the hardships which farmers have had to meet that there has been no drop in the wages of agricultural labourers, at least, not equal to the extent of the drop in prices. The Minister himself has said that he is not only interested in the prosperity of agriculture from 1576 the point of view of the farmer but also from the point of view of the agricultural labourer. We take that as a guarantee that the right hon. Gentleman is anxious that the agricultural labourer shall get some benefit out of the moneys and subsidies which are being provided by Parliament to-day for the agricultural industry, and in the Amendment we are asking that any farmer or producer of cattle, before he gets the subsidy, shall prove to the satisfaction of the authority concerned that he is paying wages according to the Act which is now in operation.
The Minister of Agriculture may say that the Act provides that farmers shall pay a certain amount in wages, hut, unfortunately, experience proves that there are farmers, not always a very small number, who do all they can to avoid payment. Notwithstanding all the alertness of the inspectors of the Ministry they cannot possibly find out every case by a long way, and it is probably true that there are still some farmers who do not pay the proper scale of wages. If this House is going to provide money for the benefit of agriculture and if the Government are really anxious for the welfare of the labourer as for the farmer, it is not asking too much that farmers shall give some proof that they are obeying the law in this direction and are giving the labourer the scale of wages to which he is entitled.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I am afraid that I cannot accept the Amendment. It would cut out Scotland altogether. That might create same difficulty, because this money would only be paid in England if it were proved that farmers were carrying out satisfactorily the Agricultural Wages Act, while they would be able to get paid in Scotland whatever they did. I am afraid there would be a great deal of hard feeling about that. I am sure that the hon. Member will agree that we are desirous of maintaining and improving the standard of wages in agricultural areas, but he will also agree that it is scarcely possible to do so under the provisions of the Bill. Certification is going to be difficult enough, but imagine 400 or Son beasts walking up the main street and a sort of drum-head court-martial having to be held on each producer as he comes up. The Amendment will be much more likely to lead to great delay in butchers getting the cattle and consumers getting 1577 their meat than to improving the condition of the agricultural labourer. Having made his point, which I fully appreciate, that the benefits which the Government are giving to agriculture by its numerous measures of assistance should not be withheld from, but should be shared by the agricultural labourer, and I having assured him that our whole desire is to maintain that principle, I hope he will not find it necessary to press the Amendment to a Division.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mr. LEONARD
I regret that the Minister of Agriculture has not seen his way to accept the Amendment. He has expressed himself over and over again as to what he hopes farmers and producers will do, but, unfortunately, our experience is that they do not do it; and we want to get something definite inserted in the Bill in regard to the wages of agricultural labourers. His point with regard to Scotland puts one in a difficulty, but the right hon. Gentleman has shown great ability in getting the most complex measures accepted and passed by this House, and I do not think he is entirely incapable of getting over this difficulty. I hope he will reconsider the matter and give us some assurance in regard to the wages of agricultural labourers.
§ 5.15 p.m.
As one who is desirous of benefiting both the farmer and the worker, I have considered this Amendment moved by the hon. Member opposite and the question it raises. I am bound to say that I agree with the Minister that the Amendment would introduce considerable complexity. It would be likely to tend to increase the cost of administration, and, therefore, it would benefit the farmer less and ultimately the farm worker also. In this industry the farmer, who has suffered such heavy losses, is obliged to consider how many men he can employ. Anything which tends to increase the expense of administering the Bill is contrary to the interests both of the farmer and the farm worker. Hon. Members opposite have not produced any evidence to show on what scale farmers are lacking in the payment of proper wages. They have not produced evidence to show that the Ministry is slack in administering the present Acts. Before the Committee con- 1578 siders the adoption of the Amendment such evidence should be produced. This is not the Bill and this is not the way in which to carry out what hon. Members desire.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ Mr. T. SMITH
I would be the last person to charge the general body of farmers with trying to evade their responsibility in the matter of wages. The hon. Member who asked for evidence ought to address his question to the Minister. If he cares the Board's inspectors can furnish him with statistics showing the amount of money that they have insisted should be paid by those farmers who have tried to evade their responsibilities. Further, if the hon. Member cares to apply to the National Union of Agricultural Workers for evidence he will get it, and he will be astonished at the abundance of it. Less than 24 hours ago I saw details of a case in which obviously farmer was evading his responsibility, and in which steps have been taken to secure for his farm workers what they were legally entitled to receive. Each year there is evidence that all farmers are not carrying out their legal responsibility towards the workers.
The Argument regarding the complexity that the Amendment would introduce is unsound. There is complexity in the filling up of all forms. Some farmers say that they cannot keep books or fill up Income Tax forms, but the fact is that they have more intelligence than they are credited with. When the Minister says that the Amendment would be confusing he ought to remember that if an applicant for money from this Cattle Fund knew that before he could get any money he had to pay proper wages, as laid down by the Agricultural Wages Act, that farmer would be more careful to see that his men got what they were entitled to. We ought to press the Amendment. The Minister usually expresses surprise that we criticise his subsidy policy. What we say is that if any industry comes to the State for money at least some portion of that money ought to be reflected in the. wages of the workers concerned. No one will say that the wages in agriculture are too high. On the contrary, they are far too low, and we hope to see the day when farm workers will get a better deal than they are getting now. The Minister is not treating the Committee fairly by 1579 opposing the Amendment. The Amendment is justified, and I hope it will be pressed to a Division.
§ 5.19 p.m.
§ Sir GIFFORD FOX
I listened with interest to the argument of the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith). Hon. Members on the Labour Benches always seem to use the same argument, when we discuss a subsidy, or whatever help to the agricultural community may be called. They say that everything goes to benefit the landlord and the farmer and that nothing goes to help the farm worker. I would remind them, however, that to-day the wages of agricultural workers are rising gradually. On the other hand while hon. Members were in office the tendency was for agricultural wages to decrease. As a result of the assistance given to agriculture there are to-day more farm workers in employment, land is going back into cultivation and there are better times for everyone in the industry. I shall have pleasure in supporting the Minister to defeat the Amendment, which if carried would only have the effect of delaying the help which is to be given to all those engaged in producing fat cattle.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Mr. C. BROWN
The right hon. and gallant Member for Ripon (Major Hills), when we were discussing a previous Amendment, was very anxious that the people who did the work in fat cattle raising should get the money which we are providing in the Bill. It seems to me that the people who really do the work are the farm labourers. If we push the matter to its logical conclusion they do the job. Consequently we are very anxious that they should at any rate get some of the money. We cannot be certain that by anything we will do they will get it all, but we want them to get some. The last speaker reminded us that a few days ago the Minister said there was a slight tendency for the wages of agricultural labourers to rise. We are very glad to know it. But in none of this legislation, none of these proposals to improve agriculture, is it made explicit that any of the benefits which are to go to agriculture shall go directly to the farm labourer. That is merely incidental, or rather accidental. Consequently by this Amendment we want to 1580 make certain that wages which are the recognised wages in given areas shall be paid to the agricultural labourers who do the essential work in raising fat stock for the market. It may be that there are all kinds of ways of evading proper payment.
The Minister's argument against our Amendment was extraordinary. He did not oppose it on principle, but merely suggested that there were technical difficulties in the way. What does the word "difficulty" mean to him? He has been surmounting difficulties from the moment that he took office. He has nearly turned the agricultural world upside down. He does not convince me that there are any difficulties in the way at all. He is frightened of the farmers; that is all. Why should he be frightened? He is helping them in all sorts of ways. Let him accept the Amendment. Let him face the difficulties, as he has faced other difficulties. I think he will regret what he said a few minutes ago. Let him get up again and say now, "The Opposition is right. I have swept the difficulties out of the way, I am prepared to see that the agricultural labourers get a share of this money that is going into the industry."
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ Captain HEILGERS
Several hon. Members opposite have stressed the fact that at least some portion of what is going to the industry ought to pass on to the workers. I agree. Hon. Members opposite will be glad to know that in my own county there have been two rises in wages since the National Government came into power, and that those two rises just counterbalance what was lost during the period of the last Government. As regards the actual proposal of the Amendment, I ask hon. Members to contemplate a rush of cattle going through a market, one after the other, at the rate of two or three a minute. Who is to stop and make inquiries as to the antecedents of every person who is selling a beast?
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Sir GEOFFREY ELLIS
It is assumed all along by hon. Members on the Labour benches that the farmer never pays more than the minimum wage in any part of the country. The truth is that many farmers pay more than the minimum. The Agricultural Wages Board exists for the sole purpose of seeing that when there is any 1581 improvement in the industry the labourers get the benefit just as much as the farmers. Far from that result being accidental it is absolutely consequential. I am afraid that the Amendment is put forward with a certain amount of propaganda interest. I am not making any charges against hon. Members in this House, but there are certain baser Members of their party in parts of the country where they do not pay much attention to political decency who, if we vote against an Amendment of this sort will charge us with voting against any improvement in the wages of the agricultural worker. Rules and regulations, if they are put into force properly, can do everything that is necessary. Hon. Members might just as well say that before any colliery gets rating relief it ought to be able to show that it is paying proper wages all round.
§ 5.27 p.m.
§ Mr. G. MACDONALD
If the hon. Member for Winchester (Sir G. Ellis) comes forward at a later date to ask that the mining industry shall be given the same consideration—
§ Mr. MACDONALD
Every coalowner should give a guarantee, when he receives any subsidy from the State, that he will pay wages according to the Minimum Wage Act of 1912.
§ Mr. MACDONALD
The Minister says he has two objections to the Amendment. The first is that it would not apply to Scotland. As he knows, it was not our intention to exclude Scotland at all. Scotland is excluded by the Act to which he has referred. The right hon. Gentleman's other point was that any improvement that goes to the industry in consequence of this subsidy will show itself at an early date in an improvement of the condition of the workers in the industry. If that is the case what objection can there be to accepting the Amendment? Surely it is not intended that the farmer who does not carry out the 1924 Act should receive public money? Our sole point is that when public money is given to an industry the workers should be safeguarded. It may be a good propaganda point, but there is nothing base in the use of it. If this subsidy is going to bring 1582 prosperity to the industry we want a guarantee that the workers shall be safeguarded, and we deny the right of any farmer to receive any public money if he is not prepared to give a definite undertaking that he has regard to the provision of the Agricultural Wages Act of 1924. There is no insurmountable difficulty in carrying out the Amendment.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. DAVID REID
I am sure the Committee are agreed as to the fundamental point of this Amendment, but when the hon. Member opposite suggested that there was no difficulty in carrying out the Amendment, he must have overlooked the fact that it would involve re-drafting the Bill. As he has already heard from the Minister the person who finally markets a beast, may not be a farmer at all. He may be a dealer to whom the provisions of the Agricultural Wages Act of 1924 could not possibly apply, because he employs no agricultural labourers. The probable result of inserting these words would be to defeat the main purpose of this Measure, while the object which hon. Members opposite have in view could easily be evaded.
§ Mr. JOHN WILMOT
The hon. and learned Member must have misunderstood the Minister's statement. The Minister was careful to point out that it was the intention that this subsidy should wherever possible be paid to the actual producer and not the dealer.
§ Mr. REID
The Minister is here and can speak for himself, but as I understand the position a farmer can sell to a dealer and, knowing that the subsidy is going to be added, he can ask for a higher price from the dealer. But it is then the dealer who carries out the actual sale to which the subsidy attaches.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ Mr. WILMOT
I may have misunderstood the Minister, but I took it that he was discouraging trading in options in this matter—that this was to be a direct subsidy to the producer and that he was not going to encourage any trading in the right to draw the subsidy. I am sure the Minister will agree that it is desirable, when we are voting this subsidy, that we should try to make sure that it will reach the destinations for which it is intended. One such destination is the 1583 agricultural worker. Nobody in the industry is more in need. Of course if it were impossible to carry out the Amendment there would be no point in pressing it, but I am not sure that it is impossible. I assure the hon. Member for Winchester (Sir G. Ellis) that this is not a propaganda point any more that the point made by the hon. and gallant Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Captain Heilgers) was a propaganda point. The hon. and gallant Member said there had been two rises in agricultural wages since the present Government came into office, but I am sure he was merely trying to impress upon the Committee how much world conditions had altered during the last two years.
This Amendment is a genuine attempt to do what I am sure the Minister would like to have done and that is to see that part of this money goes to the poverty-stricken agricultural worker. The Minister pointed out to me the other day that he was asking my constituents in a London suburb to pay this subsidy with good will, because it was going to their comrades the workers in the fields. This is an attempt to enforce the right hon. Gentleman's intention in that respect. I take it that a person making an application for a payment will have to fill in and sign a form. If so, would it not be possible to embody in that form a declaration that the conditions of the Agricultural Wages Act have been observed? It amounts to nothing more than the ordinary Fair Wages Clause procedure in connection with public contracts. If the Minister is prepared to embody a declaration of that kind, in the form of application for the subsidy, I think it is possible that my hon. Friends would consider the withdrawal of the Amendment.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mr. D. MASON
The suggestion of the hon. Member for East Fulham (Mr. Wilmot) would be an admirable one if it were practicable, but I rather agree with the hon. and learned Member for Down (Mr. D. Reid) that it is impossible to be sure that the actual sale will be carried out by the producer. The animal which is being sold may have been passed on to another party and the holder of the animal at the time of the sale may not be a producer. I am in favour of any- 1584 thing which would ensure the agricultural wage earner getting a share of any advantage. Much as I detest a subsidy I would like to see the agricultural worker getting his proper share, but I think we are more likely to ensure that he will get his proper share by facilitating the payment of the subsidy than by increasing the complications. If we add to the complications I do not think we are likely to advance the object which hon. Members above the Gangway have in view, and if we are going to have a subsidy at all, much as I dislike it, I think it is better that the payment of it should not be surrounded with too many complications.
§ 5.37 p.m.
§ Sir R. SMITH
I think the hon. Member for East Fulham (Mr. Wilmot) recognised the weakness of this Amendment. An extraordinary position would be created if this Amendment were carried, because under the terms of the Amendment the person who would have to decide whether a farmer was paying proper wages under the Act of 1924 or not would be the official whose function it was to entertain the application for a certificate. I cannot imagine the Socialist party desiring to place the duty upon this new official of deciding whether a farmer was carrying out the terms of the Agricultural Wages Act or not. Under this Amendment a farmer who had sent forward beasts for sale could say afterwards "My cattle were passed for payment of the subsidy and therefore I am held by this official to be paying the proper wages under the Agricultural Wages Act."
§ Mr. WILMOT
I appreciate the hon. Member's point, but in order to qualify for the subsidy, a certificate has to be applied for and the beast which is being sold has to comply with numerous requirements as to age, condition and so forth. Can we not add one more condition, namely that the beast has been produced under fair wages conditions?
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I think the point in connection with this Amendment was best summed up by the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) when he said that no person should get any public money who could not give an affirmative answer 1585 to the question, "Are you paying the proper wages?" I fully agree that no one ought to get any public money is not paying the proper wage, but on the Statute Book at present there is the machinery for the enforcement of proper wages in the agricultural industry and the question here would not be whether or not a man signed a declaration but whether or not the Agricultural Wages Act was being enforced. If we specialise on this particular point in this connection, surely we are pro tanto weakening the effect of all the other applications of the Agricultural Wages Act. It is a commonplace that if you stress one particular aspect of a Measure, you thereby and to that extent weaken the others. I can point to the fact that I have this year appointed three extra inspectors to ensure that the Agricultural Wages Act is being enforced, and I think it would be undesirable to place on the machinery of this Bill, which is designed for the swift handling of the situation in the cattle industry, the additional task of having to ascertain, all the way through, to the satisfaction of the certifying officer, whether the persons applying are paying wages in accordance with the Act of 1924 or not.
I would point out, too, that under the terms of the Amendment it is not merely a question of complying with a form or signing a declaration. It would be necessary to prove to the official that wages in accordance with the Act were being paid. 1The onus of proof would be on the person making the application. I ask my hon. Friends opposite to consider whether the enforcement of the Act of 1924 is not the proper way to proceed, and whether I am not entitled to say that I believe in the enforcement of that Act, since I have reinforced the staff necessary for that purpose. The difficulty with regard to Scotland and Northern Ireland is not dealt with by merely saying that they are left out. This Amendment precludes any payment being made except to those who are carrying out the 1924 Act, and, if we carried this Amendment, we should incidentally have to pass corresponding Agricultural Wages Acts for the whole of Scotland and for Northern Ireland, which would be a considerable addition to our labours before the Recess and would impede the passage of the Bill. I am not making a point purely on the ground of technical diffi- 1586 culties, but I submit that the proper apparatus for dealing with questions of wages payments is the Wages Act, duly enforced by a proper system of inspection. The Act is on the Statute Book, the inspectorate is in being and functioning, and the enforcement of the wages should be left there, instead of an attempt being made to spatchcock a provision of this kind into this Bill.
§ 5.44 p.m.
§ Mr. PALING
I want to see the Agricultural Wages Act enforced and I am glad that the Minister has seen fit to appoint additional inspectors, but that is no reason why, in connection with this subsidy, we should not give an additional incentive to those who are not paying the proper wages, to observe the terms of the Act. I think the huge majority of farmers do pay the proper wages and probably do so without giving any trouble, but it will be admitted that there are a few who do not. I do not think there would be any objection on the part of the great majority of farmers to giving a guarantee that they are paying the proper wages. Any objection would be sure to come from those who are evading the Act.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
Surely the man who has made a false declaration in the one case, would not boggle at making a false declaration in the other case, and two false declarations instead of one would not strengthen the position of the agricultural labourer.
§ Mr. PALING
But a man may not be paying the proper wages under the Agricultural Wages Act, and he need not make any declaration at all.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
If anyone asks the question, "Are you paying fair wages?" he has to be in the position of saying "Yes." The position would not be at all strengthened if, under this Amendment, someone still had to come up and ask the question, "Are you paying fair wages?" in which case he would have to answer "Yes" or "No."
§ Mr. PALING
I agree that if an inspector approaches him, he has to make a declaration, but most of these people will not be approached by an inspector for a long while at least, and if they are found out and prosecuted, they generally get off to such an extent that they are not losers. If they had to make a declaration, most of these people would 1587 think twice before making a false declaration. There is something in what the Minister says, but in spite of all his objections, I think this Amendment would help in bringing in the defaulter, whereas now he manages to keep out. I thought the Minister would have offered some more cogent objections against the Amendment than he has. The objections that he has offered are fairly small for a man like him, who admittedly has got over many difficulties. If he were willing to get over this difficulty, I am sure he could find ways and means of doing so very easily. It is no new thing for contractors, when taking on public contracts, to have to make a declaration that they are paying fair wages or trade union rates. They do it regularly, and I suggest to the Minister that if that be so, and if these people have to provide this, that, and the other proof before they get a subsidy, it is not asking much more to ask that they should provide the extra proof that they are paying fair wages.
The hon. Member for Winchester (Sir G. Ellis) spoke about mining employers having to make a, similar declaration as to the payment of fair wages. I would suggest to the hon. Member that if the mining industry were getting a subsidy, the miners, being organised, would be
§ able to get some share of it, but in spite of our good organisation as miners, we do not manage to get all we want from the mineowners. An hon. Member opposite said that there was no need for this Amendment, because since the National Government came in agricultural wages had gone up. They have, in one or two cases, but not in all by a long way. That, however, is not due to the economic state of the industry. They have gone up because the industry has been helped so much out of public funds. If the mining industry were given something like £20,000,000 a year subsidy, as has been given to the agricultural industry year by year, the mining employers might find it possible to increase the miners' wages. The hon. Member for Down (Mr. D. Reid) objected that if we did this, it would upset the Bill, but the Minister did not say so. He was content with putting one or two specific objections to the Amendment, and that was not one of them, and if the Minister had found out that to include this Amendment would upset the whole of the Bill, he would have said so. I am sorry to say that we cannot withdraw the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 47; Noes, 209.1589
|Division No. 344.]||AYES.||[5.51 p.m.|
|Adams. D. M. (Poplar, South)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W).||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grundy, Thomas W.||Paling, Wilfred|
|Banfield, John William||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Batey, Joseph||Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Ztl'nd)||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Harris, Sir Percy||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Buchanan, George||Holdsworth, Herbert||Sinclair. MaJ. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Cove. William G.||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Smith. Tom (Normanton)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Daggar, George||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silver-town)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Dobble, William||Lawson, John Jamas||Wilmot, John|
|Edwards, Charles||Leonard, William||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Lunn, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||McEntee, Valentine L.||Mr. C. Macdonald and Mr. Groves.|
|Grenfell, David Rees Glamorgan)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Castlereagh, Viscount|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Broadbent, Colonel John||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Buchan, John||Cooke, Douglas|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Burnett, John George||Cooper, A. Duff|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Courtauld, Major John Sewell|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Butler, Richard Austen||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.|
|Barclay-Harvey. C. M.||Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Critchley, Brig.-General A. C.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.|
|Bernays, Robert||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Crooke, J. Smedley|
|B[...]ndell, James||Carver, Major William H.||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'r[...])||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A|
|Cross, R. H.||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Barnard||Ker, J. Campbell||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovll)||Knox, Sir Alfred||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Leckie, J. A.||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Lees-Jones, John||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Dickle, John P.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Drewe, Cedric||Lindsay, Kenneth (Kilmarnock)||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||L[...]ewellln, Major John J.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Skelton, Archibald No[...]|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. Anthony||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Edmondson, Major Sir James||McCorquodale, M. S.||Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'd[...]ne, C.)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Mac Donald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Somerset, Thomas|
|Elmley, Viscount||McKle, John Hamilton||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. si[...] Ian||Soper, Richard|
|Entwistle, Cyrll Fullard||Makins, Brigad[...]er-General Ernest||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Spens, William Patrick|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chlsw'k)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'[...])|
|Goff, Sir Park||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Goldle, Noel B.||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Granville, Edgar||Moss, Captain H. J.||Touche, Gordon Co[...]mo|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Munro, Patrick||Tree, Ronald|
|Grimston, R. V.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Han. F. E.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||North, Edward T.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend>|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Nunn, William||Wardlaw-M[...]ne, Sir John S.|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Hanbury, Cecil||Ormsby-Gore, Rt Hon. William G.A.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Orr Ewing, I. L.||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour[...]|
|Hartland, George A.||Patrick, Colin M.||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Pearson, William G.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Petherick, M.||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Heneage, Li[...]ut -Colonel Arthur P.||Pike, Cecil F.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Withers, Sir John James|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Howltt, Dr. Alfred B.||Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Ray, Sir William||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||R[...]id, David D. (County Down)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald R.||Remer, John R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Captain Sir George Bowyer and|
|Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, c.)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Sir George Penny.|
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Mr. C. BROWN
I beg to move, in page 3. line 32, at the end, to insert:(6) If any person knowingly makes any false statement for the purpose of obtaining payment under this Section, he shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds, or to both such imprisonment and such fine.The Minister has indicated more than once during these Debates that in many ways this is a highly hazardous experiment and that everyone recognises that in it there are countless opportunities for all kinds of deception and fraud. Indeed, he has already told us that he will have 1590 to make some very elaborate regulations to deal with the situation that will arise when the Bill comes into force, and in view of those circumstances, we feel that there should be proper penalties for any of that deceit or fraud that is likely to arise. It will be very easy, I imagine, for people skilled in raising stock and handling cattle to dodge the regulations that the Minister may make, and to escape the net that he may set for them. Consequently, when those people are doing that kind of thing and are receiving public money at the same time, we feel that they should be properly punished. We live in a very peculiar civilisation in some respects for buying and selling is the beginning and end of 1591 existence for some people. We all know that in that process there is plenty of opportunity for fraud. The regulations which the Minister will draft will, he has told us, be necessarily elaborate, for they will have to meet a difficult situation. Let us be certain that they are sufficiently strong to deal with those who outwit the Minister. Clever as the right hon. Gentleman is, and adequate as the regulations will be from his point of view to deal with the situation, there are many clever people in the agricultural industry, some of whom will undoubtedly set out to outwit even the best regulations the Minister can devise. If they do, we ought to punish them adequately.
§ 6.1 p.m.
§ Mr. SKELTON
The hon. Gentleman made it abundantly clear that his object was that there should be adequate penalties if false statements were made for the purpose of receiving money. We entirely agree with that proposition, but it so happens that because the false statements which are here involved are false statements for the purpose of receiving money, the law in England and Scotland already deals adequately with them. Indeed, it deals with them so adequately that the hon. Gentleman's suggestion of imprisonment not exceeding three months is a mere shadow of what the law already lays down. The making of false statements for the purpose of receiving money is an extremely serious offence in the criminal legislation of all countries. In England the Larceny Act, 1916, in Scotland the False Oaths Act—which covers more than a formal oath and includes any false declaration made in regard to an Act of Parliament—together with the Common Law, deal adequately with the offence. So far as England is concerned, Section 32 of the Larceny Act enables a punishment of penal servitude for a term not exceeding five years to be given for making false statements for the purpose of receiving money. I do not think, therefore, that the very modest proposal of three months' imprisonment really adds to the strength of the deterrent legislation which the wisdom of Parliament has already imposed.
§ Mr. WILMOT
The statement which the Under-Secretary has made rather emphasises the value of the declaration 1592 which I recommended on the last Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper: In page 4, line 5, at the end, to add:
(8) If after such sale and before such payment out of the Cattle Fund a producer of cattle shall die, or become subject to any legal disability, or shall have entered into a composition or scheme of arrangement with his creditors, the personal representative, committee, trustee, or other person may be treated as if he was the producer of cattle for the purposes of the payment out of the Cattle Fund, and the payment may be made to him."—[Mr. Turton.]
§ The CHAIRMAN (Sir Dennis Herbert)
It was not my intention to select this Amendment, because I regarded it as unnecessary, but I understand the hon. Member thinks he can make out a case to show that it is necessary, and I will therefore call upon him to move it.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. TURTON
I beg to move, in page 4, line 5, at the end, to add:(8) If after such sale and before such payment out of the Cattle Fund a producer of cattle shall die, or become subject to any legal disability, or shall have entered into a composition or scheme of arrangement with his creditors, the personal representative, committee, trustee, or other person may be treated as if he was the producer of cattle for the purposes of the payment out of the Cattle Fund, and the payment may be made to him.The position which makes this Amendment necessary is due to Clause 5, which defines a producer of cattle asa person whose business it is to keep Cattle in the United Kingdom for the purpose of selling them in an improved condition.In Clause 2 power is given for the payment of the advances out of the Cattle Fund to producers of cattle. My submission is that the position here is exactly the same as it was under the Wheat Act, where, owing to the definition of registered growers, we had to introduce a wider power so that the payments should be made not only to the registered grower but, in cases of insanity or legal disability, to his representative or the committee which is acting in place of the registered grower. I move the Amendment to enable that to be done in this 1593 case. It is a technical point, but I think a point of some substance seeing that a great many farmers are very near bankruptcy. If that be the case and the trustees will not get the advantage of the subsidy, it is important to have this additional safeguard in the Bill. The wording of the Amendment is an exact replica of the wording in the Wheat Act, 1932, in Section 5, Sub-section (2, g). I move the Amendment merely because I felt that there was that lacuna in the Bill.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Mr. SKELTON
I am obliged to my hon. Friend for raising this question, but in the circumstances of this Bill the Amendment is unnecessary. I am informed that once the certificate giving all the information about the animal and the sale is in the hands of the seller of the animal, his representatives will be able to receive the money from the Minister. My hon. Friend will recollect that the repayments under the Wheat Act were much more elaborately legislated about because that Act was for a minimum period of three years, whereas the payments with which we are dealing under this Bill last only a few months. Here we see no difficulty, for once the certificate is obtained, whatever happens to the receiver of the certificate, whether it be death, incapacity or anything else, there is no reason why his representatives should not have the payments that the Minister makes. I thought that my hon. Friend would perhaps raise the question of the rights of a receiver in bankruptcy to what, under the terms of the Bill, is a voluntary payment. I mention this in order to give the Committee the assurance that where there is a case of bankruptcy, if there be any doubt as to the actual legal right of the liquidator, as he is called in Scotland, to receive the money from the Minister, the legal position will not be taken advantage of by the Minister against the owner of the animal. I ask my hon. Friend not to press the Amendment, particularly in view of the fact that this Bill is for a strictly limited period, and that we think the ground is sufficiently covered.
§ Mr. TURTON
May I ask the Under-Secretary to deal with the question of the payments to producers of cattle in Clause 2 and the definition of producers 1594 of cattle in Clause 5? Surely that definition will cut out any trustee or committee.
§ Mr. SKELTON
As I understand my hon. Friend's difficulty, it is in the case of a producer who has received a certificate and becomes incapable of receiving the money. We are satisfied from the terms of this Bill and the powers of the Minister to pay that that difficulty does not arise, either in the case of a trustee or in the case of any other representative.
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ Sir R. SMITH
Would not my hon. Friend's difficulty be got over if there were some wider definition than that in Sub-section (1, a) of Clause 5? It seems an extraordinary thing to limit the definition to a man who keeps cattle in the United Kingdom for the purpose of selling them in an improved condition. If the cattle were not in an improved condition it would seem that the producer would not be entitled to the subsidy. If they should go down in value he would not be entitled to it. The definition says that he must be a man who keeps the cattle in an improved condition.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ Mr. PALING
I hope that the Labour party will vote against this Clause. This Government have found it remarkably easy to grant money to owners of industry, as they are doing in this Clause, and in no case, as far as I can remember, have they ever done anything to make sure that the workers will get their share of the money. We tried to amend this Clause so that something would be done to ensure that some of the money would go through to the workers, but we failed, as usual when we asked anything of that kind of this Government. It has been said that nearly £20,000,000 a year is given to agriculture, and the only statement we have had from supporters of the Government to-day is that since the National Government came into office there are one or two counties here and there in which there have been increases in wages. If the 1595 workers had their proper share of the money that is being poured into agriculture, the wages increases would come to a much greater amount than the small amounts about which an hon. Member was boasting a few minutes ago. It has been said that the money which goes into an industry drains down eventually into the pockets of the workers. We do not agree. The Government too easily assume that that happens, but our experience in industry is unfortunately to the contrary. Agricultural workers and the workers in other industries get only as much as they can compel the owners of industry to give. They have to fight continuously in order to maintain what bit they have got, whether the Government give anything or not.
When the Government give anything to an industry they should represent the working classes as well as the owners of industry, and they should guarantee that the workers get their proper share of it. They never do it. They boast about the Agricultural Wages (Regulation) Act, 1924, and say that gives a guarantee of wages to the worker. It may be so, but that was not due to this Government or to the supporters of it. Hon. Members opposite did 'all they could to prevent even that much being given to the agricultural workers, but now they quote the Act as an excuse for saying that nothing further is necessary at the present time to ensure that the workers shall get some of the money which is being paid to the industry. We think it is as necessary to guarantee that the worker gets his share as to guarantee that the producer has his share, and it is because we have no such guarantee for the agricultural workers, whose wages 'are so low that they find it difficult to maintain a decent existence, that we shall vote against this Clause.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Mr. WILMOT
I would ask the Minister before fixing the date when the scheme is to come into operation to institute an inquiry into the matters which I mentioned on Second Reading. On that occasion I brought forward evidence of the wide gap between the price which the producer receives and the price which the urban consumer of beef has to pay. Whereas the producer is getting less than the pre-War price, the consumer is paying nearly double the pre-War price. I 1596 asked the Minister whether he could give us any information as to the cause of this astonishing phenomenon, and whether it was a fact that somewhere between the producer and the consumer there existed a monopoly interest, it may be, levying a toll on the industry, and whether it was not possible to ensure the prosperity of the producer by closing the gap between the price obtained by the producer and the price charged to the consumer. I got no reply from him on that occasion.
§ Mr. WILMOT
I hope that I am not ontravening the Rules of order, but, as I see it, this Clause gives the Minister discretion in fixing the date upon which this scheme cornea into operation. That was the point to which I was addressing myself. I ask the Minister to give us an undertaking that before fixing the date he will institute an inquiry into this curious anomaly in this industry.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I cannot allow the hon. Member to debate that point. The Minister is charged with the duty of fixing the date, and it has to be a date before the 31st March, 1935.
§ Mr. WILMOT
With the greatest respect I ask your Ruling on this matter. Would it not be in order to ask the Minister to endeavour to get some information on these two curious matters before fixing the date?
§ The CHAIRMAN
No, I do not think that is so. The hon. Member stated that he raised this question on Second Reading, and it was quite a proper question on that occasion. If he wants to raise it again he must find some other opportunity, for he cannot do it on this Clause.
§ Mr. WILMOT
Should I be entitled to indicate to the Minister that it is my view that without some such undertaking the Committee ought to vote against the Clause?
§ The CHAIRMAN
No, certainly not. That would be advancing reasons against the Bill, and would not be in order.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I recognise the force of the argument put forward by my hon. Friends on the other side, and par- 1597 titularly by the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Paling), that it is most desirable that a fair share of these benefits should be obtained by the producers, and under the heading of "producers" we place the argicultural workers. It is also true to say that there is in existence statutory machinery for regulating wages and to point to the fact that the wages of agricultural workers have been maintained against a very sharp fall in the receipts for agricultural produce out of which the wages of the workers have to be paid. I cannot, however, go at length into these arguments without transgressing the Rules of Order. It is the admiration of all of us on this side to see how extremely skilful hon. Members opposite have been in, conducting a long Debate on agricultural wages, and a considerable Debate upon the gap in the prices received by the producer and the charges which have to be paid by the consumer, within the four corners of a Clause which can only cover those matters by a certain amount of bulging at the sides. But, in general, the Clause does cover the way in which the payments are to be made, and I hope that I have been able to explain, at least in a sketchy fashion, the scheme which we hope to lay before the House later. I ask the Committee to give attention to Sub-section (6) which says:As soon as may be after they have approved any arrangement for the purposes of this Section the appropriate Ministers shall lay particulars of the arrangements before both Houses of Parliament.and I would add that it is our hope, before the House rises, to give a fairly full indication of the sort of arrangements which we shall subsequently lay before Parliament. I hope that after this we may now have the Clause.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ Mr. D. GRENFELL
I am very glad to know that the House is to have further information on matters referred to in the earlier Sub-sections of this Clause dealing with the arrangements for the certification of animals and the like. That information will be necessary if we are to adjudicate upon the effectiveness of this machinery. Without going into the principles of the Bill, which, we had an opportunity of discussing on Second Reading, there are still one or two points of detail which I wish to raise. In the 1598 first Sub-section "producers" are referred to more than once. The Minister has given us an assurance that a producer shall be a person who can be easily identified, and not easily impersonated by someone else, and in the information which he has promised us he will, no doubt, safeguard the position of the actual producer. There is, however, already a definition of producers in Clause 5, which we accept. It says there:A person shall be taken to be a producer of cattle if he is a person whose business it is to keep cattle in the United Kingdom for the purpose of selling them in an improved condition.I do not think that definition could be improved upon. Then we find that the producer is to get payments, and we are more or less content that the object of the Bill will be carried out without any possibility of evasion or deliberate effort to defeat the object of the Bill. We are not, however, enamoured of these proposals, and we believe they are very dangerous indeed, and it will be a condition of success that the regulations shall be drawn out as clearly as possible, so that everybody may know and understand them before the scheme is launched. I understand that I am denied the opportunity of questioning even the main principle, of the Clause at this stage, but I would like to call attention to paragraph (b) of Sub-section (2) which provides that meat is to be subsidised at the rate of ld. per lb. No doubt it is very convenient from the point of view of dealers and producers to express the subsidy in terms of hundredweights, as is done in that Sub-section, but the housewife realises the extent of this subsidy only when she is given it in terms of pence per lb. Here we are providing for a subsidy of ld. per lb. on the wholesale price, and we are extremely anxious that under the arrangements made by the Minister that ld. per lb. will not carry an additional penny before the meat reaches the retailer. I claim no monopoly of anxiety on that paint for hon. Members on this side of the Committee. Hon. Members opposite and the Minister himself must recognise the importance of not allowing the retail prices to be raised too high. If the producer is to get what may be called a. deficiency payment, a term which I do not like, and which is almost fatal to the success of this Bill, I hope the Minister will be very vigilant to see 1599 that no advantage is taken of that to add yet further to the price of the beef in the market.
We are precluded now from dealing with the question of the levy and the means by which the subsidy is to be raised, but that will be decided when fresh legislation comes before the House. One point, however, to which I would like to draw attention is the omission from this Clause of any reference to the wages to be paid to agricultural workers. The Minister has expressed his admiration for the skill shown on this side of the House in bringing certain matters under review on this Clause, but he himself is always very careful to have two strings to his bow, and when one does not suit the arrow he tries the other. On this Clause he has two strings, and when number one failed he put in the other and came nearer to the target on the second shot. He first explained that any attempt to confirm the existing law in regard to agricultural wages by provisions in this Act would he too difficult. He suggested that it would be too complicated to make him responsible for deciding whether a producer was paying the proper wages or not. If he had in mind a rapidly moving queue of producers so eager to get subsidies from public money that no delay must be interposed, it was not a very reassuring prospect which he held out to us. I hope the money will not be paid out as quickly as that, and that there will be some sort of safeguard to prevent an improper use of the subsidy. I would point out to him in this connection that he has insisted on other safeguards. For example, no certificate for a subsidy is to be issued unless the animal comes up to a certain weight standard.
Then we come to Sub-section (3) which says that a certificate shall not be issued if it is shown that the animal is in a certain condition and might not properly be described as fit for slaughter and fit for consumption. The certificate is not to be granted unless the animal has been resident in this country—if that is the right term to use—for a period of three months. What is the difficulty? Suppose I want a certificate. I make an application for a certificate I have to satisfy the certifying officer first of all that the beast which I submit to his inspection is in a proper condition, that is 1600 to say, that it has been properly fed and carries sufficient weight. Then I have to satisfy him that it is of a certain age and has resided for three months in the United Kingdom. How am I to do that? I must produce written evidence, and that is not the kind of thing which you can do in a rush such as the Minister described. It has to be shown that it is a naturalised British beast.
Why cannot the person who makes the application for a subsidy and who has to produce these separate pieces of evidence also produce a statement as to the wages paid to the people in his employment to show that he is a decent employer and worthy of assistance by the State? The Minister has not satisfied us on that point. We have an objection to the Clause. We do not wish to impair it; we submitted Amendments to improve it, in the hope that it would not have the effect which we expect from this kind of legislation. We have failed to improve the Clause, and we have been denied the opportunity of giving some protection to the wage earners in the industry. We shall, therefore, vote against the Clause.
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I shall not do the same as the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell). I shall not vote against the Clause; I shall vote in favour of it. I want to ask the Minister a question in regard to Sub-section (2). He proposes to pay a. sum not exceeding 5s. per cwt. in the case of a live animal and 9s. 4d. in the case of a dead animal. I am not an expert: I have not weighed an animal alive, killed it and then weighed it dead, but I am told that the ratio between liveweight and deadweight is not accurately or generally expressed in the ratio between 9⅓ and 5; in other words that if 5s. is right for a live animal, 9s. 4d. is too much for a dead animal. If that is so—I am advised that it is—the Clause definitely weights the subsidy in favour of it being paid on the dead animal. That seems to indicate a desire to stimulate the system of centralised slaughtering. I am not one who believes that on balance it is necessary to trustify or centralize everything. I am of opinion that the continued existence of a large number of small slaughter houses has substantial arguments in its favour. Hon. Members will be aware that there has been an active correspondence on this subject in 1601 the "Times," in which the arguments have been stated pro and con. If it is desired at some time or another to establish a system of centralised slaughtering I think it ought to be proposed in a definite Measure for that purpose so that we know quite clearly what we are doing; it ought not to be attempted indirectly by certain Sub-sections of a Clause in the Bill which we are now considering.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
That is not our intention. Roughly speaking, the proportion represents the killing of about 54 per cent., which is not far from the average. So far as we could work it out, that was as nearly as possible holding the balance between the two methods of paying subsidy.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I am very glad to hear that it is not the intention, by a side-wind, to decide a separate issue of public policy. I think it only fair to tell the Minister that on Thursday I received a detailed memorandum, which I handed to another hon. Member who I thought was likely to speak, and in which there was a good deal of evidence that the percentage of 54 which the right hon. Gentleman has given, is by no means the average. I do not know what sources of information the Minister may have, but no doubt he has access to the very best sources. There is a substantial body of expert opinion which thinks that the proportion of dead weight to live weight is other than that which is indicated in the proportion chosen in the Bill. I hope the Minister will look into the point. I do not think that it interferes with the privileges of another place, and I hope that he will verify the information which has been supplied to him, and which is contrary to that which has been given to me.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ Mr. EVERARD
It is not laid down in the Bill that 1st September is the day on which the scheme comes into operation, but that the day shall be:such day after the end of August.I know the difficulties that Ministers have in preparing these very important schemes, but if there is not a definite date, we may get towards October before the scheme comes into full operation. I appeal to the Minister to realise the very great urgency of this problem, and to give an indication that, unless something 1602 extraordinary happens, the scheme will come into full working not later than 1st September.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ Mr. McENTEE
The most interesting thing in the Debate is the admission of the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) that he is not an expert in this matter. I am sure the Committee did not know there was anything in which the hon. Member was not expert. I want to ask the Minister a question which I endeavoured to raise on Clause 1, as to whether it is proposed to make any regulations in regard to deficiency payments. If this is to be a deficiency payment, will the subsidy or grant be made in the event of there being no deficiency? It is always a good argument that people, who, we may assume, are managing their industry or their part of the industry to the best of their ability, may fail to make a profit out of it, and that consequently many of them may have to go out of industry, which, being an essentially national one, might suffer. Are those who are making a good living out of the industry still to get a grant, to enable them to make still larger profits?
Does the Minister propose, in making regulations, to embody a clause laying down some rule that what we might call "excess profits" cannot be made by those in the industry taking public money when there is no need for it? Most people might be willing to subsidise those who are in a bad way through no fault of their own, and who are unable to get a reasonable living, but they would not give public money to people who did not need it because they were already doing very well. Is any such regulation to be made, or has it been discussed by the right hon. Gentleman with the officers of his Department? "Means test" is an expression which has frequently been used in connection with unemployment. I should like to know whether any means test is to be applied to the stock-raisers before they receive public money for which there may be no need at all.
My next point is by way of protest. It is somewhat extraordinary that the Minister will not enable people employed in the industry to be assured of a proper rate of wages. I cannot imagine any truth in his statement that there will be such a rush, and that people will be queueing up to get money so quickly, that it will not be pos- 1603 sible to ensure that they are paying decent wages to their employées. The National Union of Agricultural Workers could tell the Minister the position probably within five minutes if he rang them up on the telephone. They could give a certificate in a very short time if it were required. I hope that the Minister will reconsider what appears to be his decision not to take any notice of the conditions of labour of the stock raisers who apply for grant under the Bill. Governments have for many years inserted a fair wages clause in contracts, and within the last few weeks I brought to the notice of a Minister a case where the clause was not observed, and the matter was put right. The Minister is making a very big contract with these people, to whom large sums of public money in the aggregate are to be given, and possibly considerable sums to the larger stock-raisers. It is not asking too much that people who apply for public money should give a guarantee such as is given by every contractor who gives service for the public money which he receives. The people who are to benefit under the Bill will get their money for nothing, and it is not unreasonable that they should observe as good conditions of labour for their employés as obtain with the ordinary contractors to the Government. I hope that the Minister will reconsider the point, and see if it would not he possible, in making the regulations, to insert some Clause that would assure workers in the industry of a decent standard of living.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. C. BROWN
In a few minutes the Tory supporters of the National Government will be going into the Lobby to vote for this Clause. I wonder whether any of them have realised its full significance. While we have been discussing the regulations which are to be made with regard to fat stock under this Clause, I have been recalling how in bygone days Tories, in their propaganda, were never tired of picturing the day when Socialists would be in control of the Governmental machinery of this country, and used to tell people that if we were in control we should be regulating everything—that folks would be wearing the same sort of clothes, living in the same kind of houses, and everyone would have to go through a prescribed routine. But never in their wildest moments did they tell 1604 the public that a Socialist Government would ever enact a Measure under which a Minister of Agriculture would lay clown regulations stating that the carcase of a cow must be dressed in accordance with those regulations, and that, before people in this country could have their Sunday joint, it would be necessary to count the teeth of the beasts that were killed for the purpose. It has been left for a National Government to carry regulations to those amazing lengths. How can the Tory supporters of the National Government, after all their denunciation, and the way in which they professed to describe the regulated society which they said Socialists would set up, go into the Lobby in support of the appalling regulations that are being brought forward by this National Government, prescribing in the minutest detail how carcases shall be dressed and how the joints shall be served?
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I would ask the Minister if he would reconsider the question, which was raised by the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell), of the regulation of the wages of the working people engaged in the industry. The, right hon. Gentleman's reply did not seem to me to meet the case which was put forward, and I would ask him to consider again whether, before public money is paid in this way, at least some form of guarantee could not be required oaf those to whom this public money is being granted should pay a particular wage to those engaged in the industry. It seems to me that, before this assistance is granted, the applicant for it should at least sign a declaration that be is paying a particular wage. That would have a two-fold effect. If it were found that he was not paying a proper wage, then, in addition to the ordinary criminal proceedings, there would be good ground for his being compelled to repay the sum to which he was not entitled. It seems impossible to ordinary folk, though it may not seem so to others who look at things in a different light, that the granting of millions of public money to people engaged in an industry—I am not discussing whether the industry is in a good way or in a bad way—cannot be accompanied by a simple definite guarantee that certain wages are paid to those who work in the industry.
1605 The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, whom I see in his place, will recollect that in connection with the housing subsidy I had considerable correspondence with him with regard to the subsidy that was being paid to certain people and the wages paid to the workpeople engaged. I say that, before public money is granted, a firm guarantee of this kind should be obtained from those who receive the money. It may well be that it would not be possible to make inquiry at every farm to see that every individual man is paid the proper wage, but at least it should be possible to get a similar guarantee to that which is obtained for Income Tax purposes. All that is required there is an affirmative declaration from the person concerned. Inquiries are not made, but, if it is found afterwards that that Affirmative declaration is wrong, the person concerned is liable to certain proceedings. Ill this case every applicant ought to be required to make an affirmative declaration that he is paying the proper rate of wages.
The other point that seems to me to be peculiar is that, while in other cases the Conservative party have denounced the granting of public money, and have said that whenever it was granted steps should be taken to see that only those who need it receive it, yet in this case those engaged in the industry are to receive a grant of public money quite apart from any question of need. The Minister may say that everyone in the industry is in need, but I have never thought that the claim could be put as high as that, and, unless he does put it as high as that, it seems to me that there ought to be some test. I shall vote against the Clause, but I wish the Minister, who has a logic born of the country from which he comes and which he represents in the House, would apply that logic to the argument that, while the Conservatives demand grim tests for poor people when they are receiving public money, no test is to be applied here, when public money out of the same public funds is being granted; and I would also ask him why it is beyond the power and ingenuity of his Department to require from the applicant at least a declaration that he is paying fair wages.
§ 6.53 p.m.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I apologise to the Committee for coming before them once more, 1606 but it would perhaps be courteous if I say another word. I think that the point raised both by the hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. McEntee) and by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) can be quite simply met. If any undue profit is made out of this payment, there is power in the Bill itself to make the payment less than the amount here laid down. We are advised, however, and I think it is common knowledge to everyone in the House who is engaged in the industry or has to review the results of the industry, that, at present prices, everyone engaged in the industry of raising meat is receiving less for that meat than the cost of its production. If prices rose to a point at which they could do without the subsidy, we should be only too glad. I think that that is the answer to both the points which have been raised.
§ Mr. McENTEE
May I ask whether the applicant will be required to make any statement with regard to his financial position? Otherwise, how does the right hon. Gentleman propose to apply the test?
§ Mr. ELLIOT
We propose to apply it by the general knowledge that we have of the circumstances of the industry and the cost of raising meat. Surely that meets the point fully. If undue profits are going to be made, it will be possible to reduce the payment. As to how we know the cost of raising meat, we get that knowledge, not from the costs of one man, but from the costs of the many hundreds, and, indeed, thousands, of producers to whom we have access at the present moment. As to the question why we should not take further precautions to secure the enforcement of the Agricultural Wages Act, 1924, I say again that the Agricultural Wages Act, 1924, is a separate Statute which fully covers the question of wages, and for the purpose of which I have appointed additional inspectors. That Statute is operated in its own way. As to the question of the hon. Member for East Fulham (Mr. Wilmot), whether 1 should not make inquiry into the costs of distribution before fixing the appointed day, clearly it would be out of the question for me to do that. The costs of distribution are a long business. We have had evidence from the co-operative societies that the costs of distribution of butcher's meat are by no means excessive, and the danger is that, 1607 while we are working out these small points, the industry itself may collapse. It would clearly be impossible, and I am sure that the hon. Member would not desire it, that, for the sake of carrying out yet another inquiry, I should stop deal-
§ ing with the whole problem for the purpose of dealing with which the House passed the Financial Resolution.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 247; Noes, 51.1609
|Division No. 345.]||AYES.||[6.59 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Eden, Rt. Hon. Anthony||Magnay, Thomas|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.||Edmondson, Major Sir James||Maitland, Adam|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Everard, W. Lindsay||Meller, Sir Richard James|
|Ba[...]ie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Fox, Sir Gifford||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)|
|Balniel, Lord||Fuller, Captain A. G.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Ganzonl, Sir John||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Moss, Captain H. J.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Glossop, C. W. H.||Munro, Patrick|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Goff, Sir Park||Nall-Cain, Hon. Ronald|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Goldie, Noel B.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Bernays, Robert||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Blindell, James||Gower, Sir Robert||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'ri'd, N.)||North, Edward T.|
|Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Nunn, William|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald||Grimston, R. V.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Orr Ewing, I. L.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Pearson, William G,|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham)||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Penny, Sir George|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Petherick, M.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks., Newby)||Hales, Harold K.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, B'nstaple)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Burnett, John George||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Hartland, George A.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Cadogan, Hon Edward||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Carver, Major William H.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Ray, Sir William|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Cheater, City)||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Choriton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Hornby, Frank||Remer, John R.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Howard, Tom Forrest||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney,N.)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield,B'tside)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Cooke, Douglas||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Cooper, A. Duff||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Courlauld, Major John Sewell||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Ker, J. Campbell||Sandeman. Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Critchley, Brig.-General A. C.||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Selley, Harry R.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Leckie, J. A.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Cross, R. H.||Llewellin, Major John J.||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Lockwood. John C. (Hackney, C.)||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Smith, Sir Robert (Ah'd'n & K'dine,C.)|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Somerset, Thomas|
|Denville, Alfred||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Dickle, John P.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Somerville, Ann[...]sley A. (Windsor)|
|Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Soper. Richard|
|Drewe, Cedric||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||McKie, John Hamilton||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington,N.)||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Spens, William Patrick||Tree, Ronald||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)||Turton, Robert Hugh||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Storey, Samuel||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Strickland, Captain W. F.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Summersby, Charles H.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Sutcliffe, Harold||Wayland, Sir William A.||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour|
|Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)||Wells, Sydney Richard||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)||Weymouth, Viscount||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert-Ward|
|Touche, Gordon Cosmo||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.||and Maior George Davies.|
|Train, John||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Groves, Thomas E.||Paling, Wilfred|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grundy, Thomas W.||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Banfieid, John William||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Harris, Sir Percy||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Buchanan, George||Holdsworth, Herbert||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Janner, Barnett||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Cove, William G.||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Thorne, William James|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Curry, A. C.||Jones, Moran (Caerphilly)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Daggar, George||Lawson, John James||West, F. R.|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Leonard, William||White, Henry Graham|
|Dobble, William||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Thomas (York. Don Valley)|
|Edwards, Charles||Lunn, William||Wilmot, John|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||McEntee, Valentine L.||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Maclean, Nell (Galsgow, Govan)|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Mainwaring, William Henry||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Mallal[...]eu, Edward Lancelot||Mr. D. Graham and Mr. G. Macdonald.|
Resolution agreed to.
§ Clause 3 (Marking of imported cattle,) ordered to stand part of the Bill.