§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 3.44 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
On 26th February, I made a statement to the House indicating that the Government desired to introduce this Bill which it considers necessary for dealing with the fuel situation during the present year, and for guarding against a similar position in the future. Summer time is regulated by the Summer Time Acts of 1922 to 1925, which lay down that a single hour of summer time shall operate from a date in the middle of April, to a date at the beginning of October. Soon after the war began, it was thought necessary to modify these dates in the interests of war production. Emergency powers for the purpose were taken under the Defence (Summer Time) Regulations. In 1941 further powers were taken which allowed the introduction of what came to be known as double summer time. The periods of single and double summer time varied from year to year during the war, according to the conditions prevailing from time to time. With the end of the war, these emergency powers were given up by the revocation of the Defence (Summer Time) Regulations, and we have no power under which we can renew those powers by regulation. For this reason, it is necessary to promote the present Bill.
It was with very considerable reluctance that the Government decided to reopen this matter. It is true to say that in some urban centres double summer time was welcomed during the war period. But, in agricultural areas it was always resented, and even in urban areas a large number of people thought double summer time had a detrimental effect on the health of children, It was therefore, with some pleasure that I went to Scotland in the absence of my right hon. Friend, the Lord President of the Council, to take his place at a Privy Council held in Holyrood Castle, at which the wartime regulations were repealed, and, as I have shown from time to time in answer to Questions put to me in the House, I have never regretted 248 that in normal circumstances that step should have been taken. I was very careful in the statement I made not to emphasise the amount of fuel that will actually be saved by this arrangement, for the saving of fuel is so small in its absolute figures as to be fairly negligible. The best estimate I can give is that there will be a saving of some 120,000 tons of coal in respect of the generating stations, and 10,000 tons in respect of gas and domestic supplies, as far as the additional period of single summer time is concerned. The period of double summer time which we propose will enable an additional saving to be made of some 20,000 tons, making a total of 150,000 tons in all. It is therefore quite clear that if it were merely a question of the absolute saving of fuel, it would not be right to introduce this Bill. What I was very careful to point out was that the enactment of this Measure would enable us to make more effective use of the fuel which is available, and that is the ground on which I must rest my case.
The problem that confronts industry is to spread the electricity load, particularly so as to enable the generating plant to cope with the demand for electrical power. We have to flatten out the peak so as to make quite sure that only on the rarest possible occasions will it go above the generating capacity of the country, until such time as the generating plant can be brought up in power to our reasonable maximum needs. If full resumption of work takes place on the basis of a month or six weeks ago, the result would simply be to overtax the power of the generating plant at a good many peak periods, and either supplies would have to be cut off entirely, or the voltage would have to be reduced. Neither of those is a desirable thing to happen in any effort to overtake the losses in production which have been sustained during the past few weeks. Until the new plant on order is installed and operating, the only method of obtaining the maximum production possible in the circumstances is to arrange the hours of working so that the load is kept continuously within the capacity of the generating plant. Therefore, it is for this purpose that the maximum use must be made, in industry, of our daylight hours. It is obviously in the interests of the health and efficiency of the workers that where, by arrangements between the industries in the different localities, work 249 can be spread over the daylight hours so as to relieve the load, this should be done. No greater contribution to assist industry towards that end can be made than by the institution of summer time and its extension to double summer time for as long periods as can be justified by the arguments which I have just used.
It would be quite inadequate simply to provide that particular undertakings in an area should start say two hours earlier than normal. Transport must be provided, supplies must be delivered, restaurants and canteens must be open, and all the various services on which the workers in industry depend must be in full working order, if we are to get the maximum benefit out of any arrangements which industry can make for staggering daytime work. By the device we propose, all services automatically fall into line. For this reason this use of summer time will be an undoubted advantage, and will particularly assist industry in solving the difficult problems with which it is faced. It will facilitate the staggering of hours, and will render possible double day shift working wherever industry feels that such an arrangement will best meet the case. Without this extension of summer time, staggering of hours will be most difficult, and will place an unfair burden on the section of industry affected.
Double summer time, as I said earlier, has been popular with townspeople in general, since it provides increased opportunities for recreation, and if we are asking people to carry on a sustained heavy industrial output at the maximum this aspect of the subject should not be lost sight of. From the point of view of agriculture the problem is exceedingly difficult. If single summer time begins much earlier in the year than the beginning of April, dairy work has to be done by artificial light, and after the dairy work is completed a gap is liable to occur before there is enough light to enable other work to be started. A prolongation of single summer time after the beginning of October increases the difficulty of harvesting some cereal crops, and particularly of dealing with potato crops and sugar beet crops, when work has to be done under conditions which are much wetter than are likely to obtain if the sun has been up for a longer period.
250 A period of double summer time also makes the farmer's work much more difficult, because of the gap after the time at which milking ceases, and, later in the year, because harvesting has to be held up until the dew is dry. These difficulties are weighty and formidable, and I ask the House to believe that the Government gave the fullest consideration to them before embarking on the course which they have felt obliged to pursue. I am exceedingly grateful—and I express the view of the whole of His Majesty's Government—for the way in which recognised leading agriculturists, while not abating their opposition, in ordinary times, to an enactment such as this, have faced the fact that in the industrial situation which confronts us, this Bill is inevitable if we are to afford industry the opportunity, during the next few months, of making up the leeway that has occurred owing to recent circumstances.
I might say a few words about the structure of the Bill. We propose to take powers in this Bill whereby, in future years, it will be possible to bring into operation summer time and double summer time by Order, and thus avoid having to come annually to the House with a Bill. It is quite clear that the shortage of electrical generating plant cannot be made good this year or next year in its entirety. Until we can make good the shortage of electrical generating plant, it would be wrong to mislead people into imagining that if we enacted this Bill only for one year, we should not have to face similar circumstances in the future. By proceeding by Order we are able, each year, when we make the Order, to have regard to the circumstances of the year in which the Order will operate. I hope that as time goes on we shall be able to ask for a less drastic sacrifice on the part of the agricultural community than we are asking this year.
I can assure the House that as far as my own personal predilections are concerned, I would be the last person to want to introduce summer time at all. In fact, I might even find myself in agreement, on personal grounds, in normal circumstances, with the New Clause which is on the Order Paper in the name of the Junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert). But we do not live in normal times. These circumstances which 251 we have to face, particularly the shortage of electrical generating plant, are hard facts which we must take into our consideration. It is upon that basis, and upon that basis alone, that I commend this Bill to the House.
§ 3.58 p.m.
§ Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)
We have listened to a careful description of the Bill from the right hon. Gentleman. I was looking forward to the argument that he would put before the House for this drastic Measure, because I was not quite certain what real reason he would produce for this Bill. I shall comment briefly on what he has had to say, but I would like to say this on behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, about the position we take up in regard to this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman has pointed out how grave the fuel position is. He has also pointed out that in actual saving of coal, this Bill will have negligible results, but that from the point of view of the staggering of daytime working and double day shift working—he gave us a rather technical description of what was involved—it was of great importance to have this Measure at this time of crisis. That is the whole issue—that this year is a year of crisis. Whose fault it is is another matter. We need not be acrimonious upon that subject this afternoon. Let us in this House accept the fact that, through one reason or another—good or bad management by the Government—we are in a position of really serious industrial difficulty. Therefore, it is up to the Government to make proposals, in so far as they can, to mitigate the position.
This is the first of the proposals that they have made. For all I know, it may be the only one they are ever going to make. But it is the first, and it is brought before us as being due, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman, to the fuel position, and the need of guarding against a similar position in the future. In so far as it deals with the year 1947 and its difficulties, then as such, hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House will not oppose the Bill on its Second Reading. We recognise, as the right hon. Gentleman has recognised, that there is a lot to be said for and against an extension of summer time or double summer time. There is a lot to be said for the 252 point of view of the educationist. Like the right hon. Gentleman, I have had letters from people telling me the difficulties that may be involved there.
There is, of course, the much greater interest of agriculture which comes in here. When the right hon. Gentleman made his announcement the other day, my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) asked whether consultation had been taken with the appropriate agricultural interests, and the right hon. Gentleman answered that the Governmenthas been in touch with the agricultural community and with their appropriate representatives but my right hon. Friend"—that is the Minister of Agriculture—assures me"—that is the Home Secretary—that they recognise the national situation and in the circumstances of the times they do not press their protests."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th February, 1947; Vol. 433: c. 2084.]That, I must say, is a great contribution to aid the nation in its emergency. Let no one be under any misapprehension. The difficulties that this causes to the agricultural industry are immense, particularly when according to the dates which have been selected in the Bill summer time is to begin as early as 16th March, and is to last until 2nd November. No doubt some of my hon. Friends will explain in greater detail some of the difficulties, involved. I merely assert that the agricultural community by accepting this proposal through its representatives—whether it was the National Farmers Union or the Agricultural Workers Union with whom the Minister has been in touch—are making a great gesture of self-sacrifice in the interests of the nation, and that should be recognised on all sides. I do not know that I can put it in any better words than those which the National Farmers Union itself employed in this matter when they said:Accordingly the Union feels that they have no alternative to acceptance of that decision and to asking their members, in spite of these added difficulties to do their utmost to minimize their effect upon production and to continue with unabated or even extra effort, the struggle to provide every ounce of food possible for the nation.That is the position, as I understand it, of the main agricultural interests. We can only be thankful that they should have put their own views aside on this occasion and not pressed their very 253 natural hostility to this Measure, but called upon all their members to rally round and do the best they could in the circumstances, looking upon it as an extreme measure to meet a great crisis. That is the present situation. The right hon. Gentleman just now said that the Bill was inevitable—I quote his own words—in order to give industry opportunity, in the next few months, to make up the lost ground. That is all right for 1947, but I very much abject, and so do my hon. Friends, to making this a permanent Act. I have no idea of how long the crisis is going to last. I imagine it will last, at least, as long as the lifetime of the present Government, but after all, the Minister of Fuel and Power, in one of his usual weekly prophecies when the trouble first started, did say on 7th February that he expected the trouble would not last longer than three or four days or, at the most, a week. That was the difficulty arising out of the shortfall of coal.
One had hoped that the Government would be sufficiently optimistic to think that this particular emergency with regard to power could be dealt with within the next 12 months and that there would be no need for a permanent enactment. The right hon. Gentleman has, however, put before us some considerations to the effect that the shortage of generating plant is such that it cannot be made good this year or next year and, therefore, we must have a permanent Act. On the spur of the moment, without taking any advice on the subject, I am unable to comment on the question of whether new generating plant can or cannot be provided in a sufficient amount to deal with the situation next year. But that does not alter the argument which I would like the right hon. Gentleman to consider. He is taking power under the Bill to extend and alter summer time and double summer time in future by Order in Council. I think that if he will consult the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture, who is sitting beside him, he will find that the farmers agreed in the national interest not to carry their protest any further with regard to this Bill, but they did express the view that the machinery should be such that an affirmative Resolution procedure should be adopted and that it should be the business of the Government every year to see that this matter came before the 254 House. We have some Amendments on the Order Paper upon that point, and we propose to discuss them later.
Apart from that, I should like to direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman also to the proposition that if the Government have to have a Debate, as they may have to have a Debate every year, if they make this a permanent Act, they might just as well make it a 1947 Act and come next year, or the year after, and ask, as they are doing today, for a Bill to be passed. It does not really make much difference in the length of time, where the Government ask for all stages to be taken on the same day, as they are doing today because there is a crisis, or whether the Government have to have an Order of one kind or another. But it is a much greater safeguard to us all that it should be done by legislation. Therefore, I hope that before we finish with the Second Reading, the right hon. Gentleman can give us an indication whether he is liable to accept that position.
I have nothing more to say except to sum up our point of view. We recognise—unfortunately we cannot help recognising—that we are in the middle of a great crisis. We feel that the Government are entitled, if they think it is going to help, to ask us all to assist in this respect. The agricultural industry, which is the industry most concerned, have taken that view. We do not take any contrary view, but we do say that this is requiring a great deal from the industry and, for that reason, we do not think they or the nation should be asked to give the Government these powers in perpetuity. We do not believe that this crisis will go on for ever. Why should we? Surely, we must have some hope left for the future, in spite of the terrible times through which we are living because of the maladministration of His Majesty's Government. Surely, we can hope, at least, that at some time in the 'fifties—or even in the 'sixties or 'seventies, if we live as long as that—we may get back to a state when we do not need to have double summer time because of the fuel crisis. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to accept our assistance in facilitating the Bill today for this year, but also to look kindly upon the Amendments which we shall propose later particularly those which seek to make this a Bill for 1947 only.
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Wilfrid Roberts (Cumberland, Northern)
I was very interested in the first part of the Home Secretary's speech. There is a case, and I think a strong case, for summer time in present conditions. One cannot help wondering, though, whether the full effects on and the full cost to the agricultural industry are not sometimes minimised, not by the Minister of Agriculture, but by the Government as a whole. While it may be possible to get some sort of estimate of the value of summer time, in respect of convenience and the little saving in fuel and power which it might bring, it is almost impossible to estimate, on the debit side, the extent of the inconvenience and loss to agriculture, because it is spread over innumerable farms and it arises from that cumulative waste of time which summer time does mean in agricultural processes and from other difficulties which vary from place to place.
Some agricultural workers who were willing during the war to work overtime are now less willing to do so. On some farms, crops will deteriorate in the summer for that reason, and it is very hard to evaluate exactly what that loss is. Nevertheless, it is a very definite loss, not only to the farming community, but to the country as a whole—a loss that could be measured, if we could get all the information, in hard cash—and one wonders whether the Government have fully realised that. It is especially a hardship in the north of England and in Scotland. I see an Amendment on the Order Paper proposing to leave out Scotland, but I suppose that is not practicable. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I hope it is not practicable, because I feel that it would be an injustice to the part of the country from which I come. Perhaps that is not a good reason, but it would be inconvenient to change times on crossing the Border into Scotland.
However, there is a very strong case on the ground that the inconvenience and loss caused in the North of England and Scotland are much greater than in the South, and, if we have a year, not as bad as last summer, but a fairly normal year, in the North of England, farmers may find, as they did last year, that they have only one week in which to get their hay, which is the basis of their production. They might find that if they did not get their hay during that week, it would be lost for that 256 year. The extra inconvenience and the slowing-down of the machine which summer time causes may seriously affect the efficiency and productivity of the farms. It is in the light of that situation that we support the views expressed by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank). I would, however, earnestly beg the Government, while admitting the necessity for summer time this year, not to make it a permanent institution. The Government may be able to foresee what will be necessary next year. In that case, they should let us have a day or a half day for a Debate on the subject, which will give an opportunity for proper consideration of the whole question at that time,
If the Government feel that they cannot do that—and I do not think they will be as busy, legislatively, next summer as they are at present; I can hardly believe that that will be possible—there is another and very sound Amendment on the Order Paper, which they might accept, providing that this Bill should run for only two years. I suggest that the Government could give us the concession of agreeing to that Amendment, so that the matter might be discussed in 1949, when, according to the President of the Board of Trade, we may look forward to having increased generating power. A minor concession that might also be given, is that, instead of making this matter subject to the negative Resolution procedure, they might make it subject to the positive or affirmative Resolution procedure, which, while it does not allow of Amendment, would at least ensure a Debate. There is a series of concessions which the Government could make to the farming community along these lines.
Personally, the concession I would prefer is that Clause 1 (2) should be left out, so that the matter would be fully debated next year. Under the procedure which the Government are now adopting, they may do one thing which is particularly detrimental to agriculture. I hope they are not going to do it, and I would like some information about it from whoever is to reply to the Debate. During the war, we had single summer time in winter. I see it is not the intention of the Government to have it next winter, but, who knows? By this time next year, they may be wanting one hour's summer time in 257 winter, and that is particularly burdensome to agriculture.
There is one other question I would like to ask, and I am glad that the Minister of Agriculture is here. There is no doubt that this unexpected reintroduction of summer time is going to cost the farmer something. Is this an occasion for consideration of a review of prices? How does the Minister of Agriculture regard that? Undoubtedly, it is going to cost every farmer something, and it will cost the country as a whole something, and, if that is so, I do not know why that cost should be borne by agriculture. There are two basic industries which are fundamental to the life of the country at the present time. One is coal, and the other is agriculture. Coal is actually throwing some of the burden on to agriculture. I do not know why the agricultural community should carry that burden, and I therefore hope that the Government will give some concession. I would like the Minister of Agriculture to give us any estimate he can of what this is going to cost, and whether he thinks it would be right to reconsider prices as a result of this Bill; and I would also like to ask the right hon. Gentleman for an assurance that we are not going to have summer time as a permanent feature.
§ 4.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Driberg (Maldon)
Personally, I have always been one of those foolish and illiterate people who can never remember whether to put the hands of the clock forward or backward at the beginning of summer time, or why. I do understand, nevertheless, what summer time, and still more double summer time, means to people living in, the country. Therefore, I want to assure my right hon. Friend that, although this Measure will he accepted as a necessity, so far as I can judge in my part of the country, it is, none the less, regretted most intensely. The attitude among my own constituents, so far as I have been able to take soundings in the last few days, since it was announced, has been that they will certainly accept it if it can be, not merely asserted, but proved to be necessary. It is not only the agricultural community, strictly so called, who are affected by it, but all dwellers in the countryside, and culturists in the countryside who are affected, but people who work at factories in the small country towns, and who live, perhaps, as much as eight or 258 many in towns also. It is not only agri-10 miles away from those towns, and have to go to and from them daily.
This Measure is also rather unfortunate in its effect on schoolchildren. With the increasing tendency to urbanise rural schools, which I deplore—the tendency to transport children daily long distances to and from their schools in the nearest town—the question of summer time becomes a serious consideration. I had occasion recently to draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education to the case of a dozen or two children in my own constituency who attend a grammar school some 15 miles away, and who now have to leave their homes by 6.30 each morning in order to be at school by 9 o'clock. Under double summer time, they will have to leave their homes at what would normally be 4.30 each morning, and still be away for 12 hours daily. All these different classes of people in the countryside, young and old, are affected. Therefore, I feel that this House is right to treat this Bill, not as something quite perfunctory, but as something which has to be carefully considered before it is agreed to.
I agree with the right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) who spoke from the Opposition Front Bench, and with the hon. Member for Northern Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts) who spoke from the Liberal benches, and who asked whether it need be made, even permissively, a permanent thing. I cannot believe that, by the end of 1948, at any rate, we shall not be better off as regards generating plant than we are at the present time. We have already heard from the Minister of Supply, and from the various other Ministers responsible, of the active steps that are being taken to procure more generating plant pretty quickly, not only from Army and American Army surplus supplies, but from other possible sources, including, I suppose, the slowing down of exports of generating plant. Surely, it is not too much, at any rate, for those of us in this House who represent rural constituencies, to ask that the matter should be allowed to run for two years, but that, after that, the Government should come to us again and say, if necessary, "We find that we still need this Measure." This is not a party matter; it is a matter which affects right hon. and hon. Members of all parties. Therefore, although I do not 259 think that any of us would oppose the Second Reading of this Bill, I, personally, shall feel strongly inclined to vote for the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member the Junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert) if he should chance to catch the eye of the Chairman during the Committee stage of the Bill.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Baldwin (Leominster)
I wholly support the statements that have been made up to now in this Debate, but I want to register my protest on behalf of the agricultural community. When I say the "agricultural community" I mean, not only the farmers, but the farmworkers and their wives and children. In a discussion of this matter with one of my colleagues, the suggestion was made that I was pleading for a selfish minority. It is wrong to regard the agricultural community as a small minority. I believe it comprises probably three or four million people, men, women and children, and there are many other workers who have to get up early in the morning. If anybody doubts that fact, I suggest that he should get out into the streets of London at 7 o'clock in the morning, and see for himself the number of people going to work at that hour. What it means is that the agricultural workers and other workers, who have been looking forward to the time when they can get to their work in daylight, are going to be put back into the darkness. That, I think, is entirely unfair.
The leaders of the industry have accepted this proposal in what they look upon as a time of crisis. I must say that, if the only saving achieved by this Measure is 150,000 tons of coal, I cannot see that it is worth while, because, in my opinion, a great deal of that saving will be offset by the extra cost which will be placed upon the agricultural industry by the payment of overtime, and the loss of crops which may result. We are dealing with this problem now because of the fuel crisis. It may well be that, at some future time, we shall be involved in a food crisis, and I believe that a step of this kind is one way of helping towards such a crisis. May I point out how it affects the farming industry? At the present time, we rely very largely on prisoner-of-war labour. Unless further regulations can 260 be brought into force, those prisoners of war will leave the farms at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, which means that they will actually be leaving at 3 o'clock ordinary time, just when the industry is getting into stride with the harvesting of its hay and corn. I ask hon. Members to consider what it means to a farmer who has a gang composed of two or three regular men, and two or three prisoners of war who have to leave the gang in the middle of the afternoon. The result is that the whole gang is upset, and the hauling is more or less disturbed. A considerable loss of hay and corn may result. I must say that the men are not fond of working overtime for a great number of hours, and the farmers will have to my a considerable sum for overtime.
I appreciate the remarks of the Home Secretary about the way the leaders of the industry met him, and I hope that the Cabinet will convey to the Minister of Agriculture the suggestion that a vote of thanks should be returned to them for so doing, also that any increased costs placed on the industry because of the introduction of summer time will be reflected in increased prices for the crops. Personally, I have never been a believer in the number of hours saved by summer time. In my opinion, it is at this time of the year, and before summer time comes into force, that the hours of daylight are wasted. I wonder how many hon. Members and how many thousands of other people did not waste a few hours of daylight this morning. I think that the putting forward of the clock is a childish way of getting people out of bed, and of persuading them that the sun is rising at some time other than the natural time. If we have got to get up earlier in the morning, surely in order to do so, it is not necessary to alter the clock? We should leave it unaltered.
I believe that summer time not only does a great injustice to the farming industry, but that it is extremely harmful to children. In March, mothers will be getting their children up an hour earlier to go to school. They will get used to that, but, when April comes, they will have to get them up another hour earlier. By the tune the children have got used to that, double summer time will have increased the hours of daylight to such an extent that mothers will have difficulty in getting their children to sleep during the hours of daylight. By the time they have got them used to it, they will have to put 261 the clock back in August and again in November—four changes of the clock in five months. There is another point; it will be harmful to the production of milk. I am sure it will affect milk production. Therefore, on behalf of the agricultural industry, I wish to register my protest against this Bill.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Collins (Taunton)
The hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) has merely reiterated very dolefully what we who represent rural areas are well aware of, and what my right hon. Friend has already said, namely, that this change will be a great handicap to agriculture and people in rural areas. But I think a case has been made out for recognising that the change is unavoidable, and the farming community have accepted it because they are convinced that it is a national necessity. I would like to ask the Minister whether any consideration has been given to the assistance which the Government might give to the agricultural industry towards mitigating the effects of this change. We are all aware that cows do not watch the clock, and that an alteration in milking time, due to the alteration of the clock, will have a bad effect. But I can well remember when this change was first introduced in the first world war, that a number of old-fashioned farmers made their own arrangements. I am also aware that milk has to be ready to be collected at certain times. But I would like to know whether it is possible for the Government Departments concerned to consider ways and means of assisting the industry to adjust itself, in order that the consequences of this change can be materially lessened.
Mention has been made of the employment of German prisoners of war and the fact that they must start work at a certain time, so that possibly an hour or two of the value of their work is lost. But is there any reason why they should not start an hour or even two hours later? Is it not possible for an arrangement of that kind to be made? Is it not possible, even in the case of school children, for hours to be altered say to the extent of one hour? For example, county education authorities have power to alter meal times so that during the present fuel crisis the meal times of school children who have their lunch at home, should be more in accord with the meal times of their 262 fathers, thus avoiding two lots of cooking. The times of markets, I suggest, could also be temporarily altered. Such alterations are made in other circumstances to meet emergencies. I see no reason why we should not take a commonsense attitude and say, "Well, the clock has been changed, and 8 o'clock now becomes 7 o'clock; instead of starting at 7 o'clock, we will start at 8 o'clock." With the cooperation of the Departments concerned, other matters could be adjusted accordingly. We know that some farm produce has to catch a train, milk being the predominant one, and, with the good will which exists and the common sense which one always finds in farming communities, and with the assistance of Government Departments I see no reason why a great deal could not be done in this matter.
I am astonished that a practical farmer like the hon. Member for Leominster has thought fit to give us this dull account, every word of which may, be true, but without the slightest suggestion that it is possible, as indeed it is, to mitigate the effect. Therefore, I ask my right hon. Friend to say whether these points have been considered and, if not, whether he will give an assurance that they will be investigated so that the effects of this step, which we all regret, should be as limited as possible.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Snadden (Perth and Kinross, Western)
I do not think my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) painted too gloomy a picture. One thing we are inclined to forget is that this proposal comes at a most extraordinary time. It is generally recognised that the demands made by the fuel crisis must rank first in priority over any other considerations. But there is no doubt that the re-imposition of double summer time—and, single summer time as well, of course—has come as a profound shock to the agricultural community at the worst possible time. It will certainly impose a very heavy burden, and possibly a crippling burden, on food production, particularly on dairy farmers. It comes at a time when the farmer's mind is full of anxiety and under very great strain as to what he is going to do about the 1947 food production programme. I have farmed all my life, and I do not ever remember a time when I felt less happy or had more anxiety as to how I could get 263 my crops into the ground in time than this year.
The harvest of 1946, of unhappy memory, was possibly the worst which had been known for 50 years. Autumn cultivation, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, was held up; we did not get it properly done. Then we have had these very severe storms and intense frosts—the greatest for 55 years, I am told. That has completely dislocated cultivation, and in my part of the country the plough has not been at work for nearly two months. All over Great Britain thousands of acres are waiting for the thaw, and for the plough. Even if we had perfect weather today, and continuously for a fortnight or three weeks, there is nothing more certain than that the sowing time would be delayed at least a month and possibly six weeks. That means, first, lighter crops and, as the hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. Wilfrid Roberts) pointed out, it also means higher costs. On top of that, the fodder for our livestock is running out. In the hill districts farmers are faced with what may result in complete disaster. There are thousands of ewes all over our country, and in the hill areas of Scotland in particular, which may never see lambing at all. Even if the snow disappears, the ground is like stone. These ewes have reached a critical period of the year when lambs are about to arrive, and there is nothing for the ewes to eat.
In addition, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, the farming industry faces a shortage of machinery, feeding stuffs and labour. Even the production of fertilisers has been held up because of the fuel crisis, and farmers are told that if they have not got them already they can consider themselves lucky if they get them for the sowing season. The added burden imposed by this Bill, in my view—and I know something about this, having opposed it all along, even during the war period—may be the last straw. I think it is greatly to the credit of the agricultural industry that they have accepted what may prove to be a knockout blow, after all the troubles they have had this year, and after the patriotic and loyal way in which they have done their job.
The Government have decided to allocate extra food and consumer goods to the miners because they are priority pro- 264 ducers. They are to be given an incentive to produce more. I, personally, take no exception to that at all. I realise the importance of coal, and the hard nature of the work of the miners. But agricultural workers and farmers are also priority producers. I suggest to hon. Members opposite who sit for mining constituencies, that we cannot even get coal without food. Why should not the Government treat the agricultural worker—who will have to put in a very much longer day as a result of summer time—on the same basis, and give him a little more fuel, and allocate more consumer goods to the rural areas in order to give an incentive to produce the food necessary to feed the miners to get the coal? The case for the agricultural workers is just as strong, and it is made doubly strong by this Bill. I will not go into all the reasons why double summer time is so much disliked, and even feared, by the farming community. Time after time we have heard them in this House, and it would only weary hon. Members to go into them now.
I would, however, remind the Government that, quite apart from the physical strain on the farmer—and on the farmer's wife as well, because she has to look after the children and the men, and do all the cooking at ridiculous times—this Bill means increased costs of production. A farm, as we know, is not like a factory. Even if the clock is advanced farmers have to wait until the sun comes up in order to carry out the preliminary work. I will give the Minister an example from my own part of the country. Where I farm we grow a very heavy crop of a particular kind of hay called timothy, of which we can produce three tons to the acre. Now, I cannot touch that hay when cut, until 10 o'clock in the morning, because of the amount of dew on it. That 10 o'clock will now become 12 o'clock, when, in any event, the men go off for their mid-day meal. Therefore, we will not start our hay making operation until after lunch, at one or half-past one o'clock. By 5.30 p.m. the men must be paid overtime rates. Thus, anyone can see this infliction will mean increased costs of production. If the Government say that because of the conditions imposed in this Bill these increased costs to the farming community will be met, they will have done something. But I do not expect they will go to that length today. I warn 265 them, though, that if they do not they will be presented with another bill at a later date, namely, the bill of increased costs of food production due to double summer time.
As my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) pointed out, we dislike the permanent nature of this Bill. We do not like the idea of the Order in Council, which, I understand, can only be prayed against, sometimes perhaps at midnight or two o'clock in the morning. The Government should come forward with an affirmative Resolution, put forward by themselves, which will be subject to proper discussion in this House. Having dealt the farming industry a cruel blow, at a time when we are very sorely pressed for food, and after one of the worst spring seasons ever known, the very least the Government can do is to assure the agricultural industry that this Bill will not he a permanent affair, and that we will have an opportunity to discuss the merits of the case brought forward by the Government, not merely by means of a Prayer from hon. Members on this side of the House. I say to the Minister, for what it is worth, that the next crisis into which we shall get will be a food crisis, and this Bill brings that crisis nearer. If the Government feel bound to impose summer time and double summer time, it is up to them now, having done so, to pay far more attention to the needs of food producers, to give them more coal in the country areas, to give them more machinery, more feeding stuffs and more labour, and to give them as little summer time as possible.
§ 4.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Stubbs (Cambridgeshire)
Although I think summer time and double summer time may be necessary in the present crisis, I share the view of the hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts), when he said he hoped we would look at this Bill again in 12 months' time. I share that view because whoever gets any advantage out of the working of summer time or double summer time, it certainly is not the agricultural worker, or persons employed in the rural areas. I ask the Minister, when he replies, at least to tell the House whether, in meeting the increased difficulties of the farmers, an arrangement has been made with the Minister of Fuel and Power for more fuel to be provided 266 to the farmers. They will certainly need more oil when the milkmen have to get up at three and four o'clock in the morning owing to double summer time, and have to do the milking in the artificial light of oil-lamps. I should like to know what arrangement has been made in that direction.
I now wish to put forward a plea for the children. In my area the women go out to work with the men. The children have to be got up very early, even now; they have to be fed, and they then roam about until school time. Under the operation of summer time and double summer time it can be realised what will happen to these children. They will play in the streets and will be late getting to bed. The mothers will have to get the children up very early in the morning, with rushed breakfasts; and they will then be turned out because the mothers have to go to work. They will get only a scratch meal at midday, either provided by the school or from food which they have taken to school. Then, after school hours they will have to roam about until their mothers come back at night time. This is a very serious thing in child life. The women of the countryside will be obliged to make a great sacrifice in meeting the circumstances arising out of either summer or double summer time.
With regard to the food, I want to point out that men who get up at 3 o'clock in the morning will want a meal when they come in after milking the cows. They will want breakfast, as well as dinner and tea; I do not think the amount of food we have in these days will run to supper as well. Are we to give more food to the men who work on the land? After all, they produce the food for others, and they ought to have sufficient for themselves, their wives and children. Let me tell hon. Members what happens in my area, in the Fens, at the moment. The woman of the house has got to pack food for her man when he goes out. After Monday, what will that poor woman put up for her man who works in the Fens? I had a case only recently of a farmworker, who told me that his wife had made up for him a roast potato, a bit of bread and margarine, and a morsel of cheese to take with him to work in the Fens on a hot summer day. The same would be the case at the present time. He said that there was a pub close by where he could get a pint of beer. That man has to go from where he lives to where he works, and back 267 again, all on a roast potato, a bit of bread and margarine, and a morsel of cheese. If they are to be called on now to work in double summer time it will mean a longer day for them.
Hon. Members may say what they like, but the farmworkers will not go to bed earlier. This proposal means a longer day, and there is a limit to human endurance. One can go on, but, of course, the strain will find one out; and agriculture does not gain in the long run if the men engaged in it are not in the physical condition to do the hard, laborious work they are called upon to do. Farmers and farmworkers will make the best of it; but if the country believes we are going to get increased food in these circumstances it will be deceived. So, I sincerely hope we shall look at this again.
The children today are the men and women of tomorrow. By what we are doing today, we may do them a great mischief. They do not get proper rest and proper food. We are calling upon these people to sacrifice more than, I believe, they need be called upon to sacrifice, even in the present circumstances. I am not an expert. I do not know whether the crisis really does demand double summer time. I am not so sure that it does; and one thing I am sure about is, that summer time and double summer time are no use to the agricultural industry. We work by the sun in the countryside. We have always done so, and it is so now. Whenever agriculture is worked by artificial time, it is bound to suffer. I regret that circumstances necessitate this Bill. I sincerely hope that next year, we shall have another look at it; I hope that circumstances will be better then, and that the crisis will not be with us at all, and we can get back to working in the countryside under natural conditions.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Sir Alan Herbert (Oxford University)
I am sure that the whole House appreciated the kind, the sympathetic, the almost apologetic manner in which the Home Secretary introduced this Bill. Personally, I, like most people—like everybody, I think—am prepared to meet him in the same spirit, and to agree to it for this year, and next year. I am rather more optimistic than the Home Secretary. In my Amendments I have 268 assumed that after next year we shall be out of our difficulties. He seemed to think the crisis might go on for ever.
The Amendments I have suggested, if I may mention them, are to the effect that, at the end of next year, 1948, the Summer Time Act should be repealed, and opportunity given to the House to review the whole principle; because, after all, the principle of summer time has not been on view since 1925. If this Bill goes through in its present form, it will never be on view, unless it is the subject of a repealing Bill. There is no Private Members' time; I do not think there ever will be Private Members' time in the lifetime of the present Government. I am sorry, but that is how I feel. This is a subject which it is impossible to raise on the Adjournment. Therefore, this is the first opportunity of attacking the principle and it may be the last for a long time. If the right hon. Gentleman, in addition to his sympathetic words to me, for which I thank him, had given any indication that he would accept my Amendments, I should not be making this speech; because I do not want to delay the proceedings on this Bill for a moment, for I agree, reluctantly, that we must have it, because of the crisis. But since he has not done so, I cannot miss the opportunity of attacking on behalf of thousands of citizens the principle of summer time, and of moving Amendments later on, to give an opportunity of attacking it again. I am only an university Member.
§ Sir A. Herbert
In relation, I was going to say, to the farmers. Twelve years ago I announced to my university electors that I knew nothing about agriculture. Nothing has happened since then to alter my opinion. But there are others besides farmers concerned with this question. Seafaring men, who use tide tables, are caused considerable inconvenience by these arrangements. I remember when I was in Newfoundland that the fishermen there were just as hostile to this business as the farmers. They came home from sea to find that all the stores were shut. I imagine that in this country, in the fishing ports, seamen, who come in from the sea to find all the pubs shut at what will be 8 o'clock by sun time, will have similar objections. Speaking of practicalities, I have often wondered why the teetotallers have never raised their voices 269 against these arrangements. They must know that many labourers and other honest men have their first beer of the day at 11 o'clock in the morning; but now, if we have double summer time, they will start drinking at the godless hour of 9 a.m. by the sun.
As a university Member, I have other objections to the principle of summer time which may seem fanciful to some, but are very real to me, and to many thousands of my fellow citizens. First, we all hate public, national lying. I hate to have that great clock above our heads not telling the truth. Hon. Members may laugh, but I feel passionately about it. I hate to think that Big Ben, that great bell which has been such a voice in the councils of the world, will be heard booming, through the B.B.C., all around the world, for half the summer, Berlin time, and for the rest of the summer, Moscow time. I do not need to inform hon. Members that Berlin lies in longitude 15 degrees East, and that Moscow is in longitude 3o degrees East—rather more—and that if we advance the clock one hour, we shall use Berlin time, and if we advance it two hours, Moscow time.
§ Sir A. Herbert
The convenience of Moscow was not present in my mind; they, unfortunately, have ruined the whole thing by having permanent single summer time. My second objection has already been referred to by another hon. Member. I think that summer time, single or double, is the most frightful confession of weakness of which the human race has ever been guilty. By all means let us change our habits according to the seasons. Even the dumb animals do that. Even the uneducated cock does not crow at the same time all the year round. But let us change our habits without necessarily changing the clocks. I do not see why it is not possible for us to get up one hour earlier because it is good for us, because it is good for trade, or even because it is good for the country, but it is possible if we are deceived by a silly mechanical trick with the clock. That is an idea which must be repugnant surely to anybody who has the smallest respect for the human race. Surely, in the normal times to which the Home Secretary referred—I do not say now—especially when the Government either 270 run or control so many things, it should be the simplest thing in the world for the Government to say that, from a certain date, all Government offices would begin work one hour earlier, and it was hoped that industry would follow suit. The only snag, I quite agree, would be the railway timetables, but in normal times, when there is more paper and less panic, that would be fairly easy to get over by having a second timetable.
Thirdly, what about the navigators, and the great position of this country in the world of navigation? An hon. Gentleman deprecated, with my hearty agreement, the possibility—and it is a possibility—that the Government may, under this Bill, at some time bring in permanent single summer time. A great many people in this country want that, and I believe that Russia and possibly other countries have already done it. Suppose all the countries of Europe decided to do that, decided, in other words, to abandon Greenwich time. Let them do it—we cannot stop them—but surely this country should be the last to abandon Greenwich mean time? It is no small thing that the prime meridian runs through a small but historic suburb in the East of London. It is no small thing that you can steam seven miles down the river from this House and pass from West to East longitude. It gives me a thrill every time I do it, and I invariably draw the attention of my passengers to the experience which they are enjoying. It is no small thing that all the navigators and seamen of the world fix the position of their ships and aircraft by reference to Greenwich and Greenwich time. The stars themselves are fixed by reference to Greenwich time. [Laughter.] They are. In a humble amateur way, I am a deep sea navigator, and I tell the House that all over the world navigators at this moment are turning up their tables and finding the Greenwich hour-angle of the sun, the moon, the planets and the stars. That is a terrific thing; it is not a thing to throw away lightly.
Suppose, as I say, that the whole of Europe decides that it will have permanent single summer time and we, because of our fuel crisis, decide to do the same thing. I am sure that, if Hitler had conquered the world, the first thing he would have done, being a man of some imagination, would have been to say, "The prime meridian shall run through Berlin 271 and not through Greenwich." And, of course, the same thing could be done in another way. If you want to have permanent single summer time it is quite easy to do it without changing the clocks. It can be done by changing the maps and putting the prime meridian 15 degrees to the West, out in the Atlantic. But then we shall talk not of Greenwich time but of Iceland time or of Teneriffe time. I will not go on with this, but it is the kind of thing which ought to be gone into by some committee sometime before the end of next year.
Quite apart from all these very practical affairs that we have been discussing, do not let us get it into our heads that Greenwich mean time is just some pedantic scientific nonsense which does not really matter. It is one of the great glories of this country that all the nations have agreed that Greenwich and Greenwich time shall be the centre of all astronomy and navigation. It would be a terrible thing if we got into the habit of saying that it does not really matter, although I suppose that not one among a million citizens really knows what Greenwich mean time means. Indeed, I wonder about this House. I hope that the next speaker will briefly explain what is meant by "Greenwich mean time." I do hope that the right hon. Gentleman will consider my Amendment, which I think is a better Amendment than those of the right hon. Gentleman, with the exception of his Amendment to leave out Clause 1 (2), because the other Amendments do accept the principle of summer time. I want this House, at the end of next year or the beginning of 1949, to challenge the whole principle. Let us believe that Greenwich mean time means something. That Greenwich is the centre of astronomy and navigation is a thing that we must not throw away; let the Empire go if you must, but cling fast to the Prime Meridian.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ Mr. John E. Haire (Wycombe)
I will not follow the hon. Gentleman the junior Burgess for Oxford (Sir A. Herbert) into the mysteries of Greenwich mean time, but I will congratulate him for introducing this new angle into the long history of the controversy on summer time. I think it is pleasing to note that the House today 272 is accepting what is normally regarded as a traditionally controversial Measure with comparative peace and calm and thanks to the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down a sense of humour. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen opposite are exhausted after the efforts of yesterday. Tempers were often frayed in this Assembly over this annual contest between God's time and what was called "Lloyd George's time" and today we seem to be accepting it, and only asking for an occasional reference back to the House, so that we may once again, as the hon. Gentleman has asked, reconsider the principle.
I think the House will agree that the benefits which this Measure, introduced during the first world war, has conferred upon both children and adults have, taken by and large over the country, been incalculable. And, as hon. Gentlemen will be glad to know, those benefits have been conferred without a single penny being imposed on the overloaded taxpayers of this country. It is also interesting to note that, when this Measure has come annually before the House, we have started talking about summer time while outside there have been wretched conditions. This Measure has been discussed in the midst of blizzards and high winds, to the accompaniment of hail and rain, and today this slow-dying frosty winter is making yet another effort to snow—the last, I hope. I think it must be said, in case it goes out to the contrary, that in this Bill, the Government are not attempting to introduce summer weather with summer time. The Government are now being blamed in certain quarters for almost everything, including the weather, and I am told that a wag the other night sang the traditional ditty to the words:It ain't gonna snow no mo', no mo',It ain't gonna snow no mo','Ow the 'ell can the Government tellThat it ain't gonna snow no mo'?Today we forget past controversy and approach the problem from a new angle because we are in the midst of a fuel crisis. Today we are approaching this Measure as a fuel saver. Single summer time, and double summer time later on, must be regarded by the House only as an expedient, and nobody must think, either in the House or in the country, that this will cure the fuel crisis. The Home Secretary has told us that it will confer upon the coal stores of this country only some 150,000 tons, the pro- 273 duction merely of a quarter of a day. Therefore, there is the danger that when this Measure goes out to the country, people may think that here is the panacea of the fuel crisis. We must guard against that. We must still request our fuel consumers, and particularly domestic fuel consumers, to go on with voluntary saving, and later on to do their utmost to make a success of whatever rationing scheme may be imposed. I was horrified, as no doubt many hon. Members were, to read in the columns of a newspaper this morning a reference to the fact that the writer had overheard a conversation between certain ladies who said that when they went out they switched on all the, electric fires in order, by that means, as they said, to bring down the Government sooner. That is not the sort of contribution we expect from any people, whatever may be their political views.
I do not want to follow certain hon. Members opposite in discussing the agricultural issues, although I believe them to be very real. There are many farmers in my constituency who deplore the introduction of this Bill. Equally, I feel that we should congratulate the farming community and the land workers on the way they have accepted the disadvantages brought by this measure as their contribution towards overcoming the present crisis. Undoubtedly, it will be burdensome for them, but they are doing their bit towards helping us through. At the same time, I was interested that the age old arguments of the past with regard to the cow were made, and one hon. Member said he was certain the cow did not watch the clock. I think that all the references to the cow in this controversy, both on this occasion and in the past, have been exaggerated and probably much resented by the cow. In fact, the cow, being a remarkably versatile animal, can adapt herself to the changing clock if given a certain degree of regularity. There are certain advantages to the agricultural community in this Measure, as I think hon. Gentlemen will appreciate. No hon. Member has pointed out that, as a result of the Measure, there will probably be an increased potato yield. I understand that it will facilitate the gathering of the potato crop as a result of the increase of daylight in the evenings, when volunteer labour can be obtained. That will be useful, especially when we consider how much of last year's potato crop is still ungathered.
274 I feel there is also another aspect of the Measure which the Government must consider. They are conferring upon the whole community a considerable amount of leisure time in the evening. They must consider whether they can provide better facilities for recreation and recuperation than have been provided in the past. I hope they will use the voluntary efforts of the many people who will now be available. I suggest to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture that he should go out of his way this year to increase the number of allotment holders. We are urged to grow more food. I believe the available time which double summer time will give could be used in that direction, because I believe the Government must give the lead to our people in using this time to the advantage of the whole community If they do not do so, this Measure will largely be wasted. Above all, the advantage of this Bill is that it will save a little fuel, and anything which contributes to that end is well worth the support of the whole House and of the country. When the present fuel difficulties cease, we can think again.
§ 5.15 p.m.
Mr. McKie (Galloway)
I am very glad to have the opportunity of following the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. John E. Haire), who spoke in such strong terms to the Government about certain of the provisions of the Bill, and I very much hope that the Home Secretary will pay due heed to the hon. Member's warnings. The Home Secretary told us that he did not intend to rest his case on the very paltry saving of fuel which this Measure will bring about, but that rather he hoped that, as a result of the additional hour to which the re-introduction of double summer time will lead, we should be doing something towards making up the leeway which the prolonged stoppage, owing to the crisis, has occasioned in industry. All I have to say, with regard to that, is that when double summer time was first proposed under the Defence Regulations in 1941, by the then Home Secretary, now the Lord President of the Council, the right hon. Gentleman made no attempt to suggest that the imposition of the additional hour, which at that time ran for five or six months, would lead to increased wartime production. I do not remember him ever using that argument.
At that time we had only one very short Debate on the whole matter. This was 275 due to the insistence of an hon. Lady, whom I am sorry to say is no longer with us, Mrs. Mavis Tate, who formerly represented the Frome Division; she was successful in raising a Debate on the Adjournment on the evening following the Home Secretary's announcement. The then Home Secretary replied to the Debate. The hon. Lady rested her case against the introduction of the additional hour almost entirely from the point of view of the agricultural industry. An important point to remember is that, to the best of my recollection, the right hon. Gentleman, in replying to the Debate, met the hon. Lady entirely on that ground, and did not suggest for one moment that it would lead to increased wartime production by industry. Or was it a serious omission on the part of the Lord President of the Council, as Home Secretary at that time, because he could not see, looking ahead some five years, the fearful conditions into which a Government entirely of his own party would land us? At that time, having met the hon. Lady's argument, the right hon. Gentleman pointed out the value and benefits that would accrue to the dwellers and war workers in the bombed areas of Britain, in London, Coventry, Birmingham and other industrial areas, who, as the result of the additional hour of double summer time, would have time to engage in relaxation, tilling their gardens and allotments, and so on. Not once did the then Home Secretary suggest that the Measure would give an increased stimulus to production. It is for this reason that I was interested to hear the Home Secretary rest his case entirely on that assumption, for it can only be an assumption. I hope the right hon. Gentleman is right. Although I deplore the lack of foresight of the Government, I sincerely hope, not that the Government will get us out of the crisis, but that we, by assisting the Government in a legitimate way, may be able to lift the country out of the crisis; but I very much doubt whether this Measure will have the effect which the right hon. Gentleman told us this afternoon it would have.
Now I would like to say a word on this matter from the agricultural point of view, and to reinforce very strongly what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for West Perth (Mr. Snadden) about the pre- 276 judicial effect that the Government's proposal will have upon the agricultural industry in Scotland. I was also very glad to hear what was said by my hon. Friend—I hope he will allow me to call him so—the Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts). He alluded to the fact that there is an Amendment on the Order Paper which may be moved during the Committee stage to exclude Scotland from the scope of this Measure. I will not go into that aspect of the matter now, further than to say that I was rather surprised to hear my hon. Friend suggest that this proposal was not a practical one. I would remind him and anyone else who thinks like him—he has now left the Chamber—that in the great American. Union, the time differs from State to State. For example, the time in New York is different from the time which prevails in New Jersey. If my hon. Friend made inquiries into the time in the 48 States of the American Union, he would find very many different times.
While the farthing community in Scotland, as well as in England and Wales, will accept this Measure because they believe that it is necessary that the Government should have it in order to try to lift us out of the present crisis, they certainly do not welcome it. Many harder things would have been said than have been said about the baleful effect which this Measure will have upon the farming section of the community. I was particularly glad to hear what was said by the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin). In Scotland, we have had one of the most severe winters—I know this is true of the whole of Britain—on record. In my constituency, nothing has been done with regard to ploughing for about six weeks and even if the thaw should come reasonably quickly we are bound to have one of the latest seed times on record, because our very large ploughing programme has hardly been entered upon at all at the moment. Probably the seed time will not begin before the end of April and a great deal of it may not be done until May. Consequently, we shall have a very late harvest and the crop consequently may be very light. A late harvest will mean an increased cost of production to the farmer.
When the Home Secretary replies—I should like to hear a reply from the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scot- 277 land—I hope he will be able to indicate that the Government will seriously consider doing something in the way of making up for the great patriotic effort of the agricultural community of Great Britain, to compensate them for the great and additional handicap which will be laid upon them by this Bill. I suggest he might consider recommending a better price to be paid for the products, of the farming community.
I would like to stress, for the benefit of hon. Members who may be in danger of forgetting it, the great importance that the agricultural community will have in Britain's economy over a very long period ahead. The Government, by their lack of foresight and bad administration, have landed us and themselves in the present terrible plight. I say this in passing that we were told, when the White Paper was first produced and before the crisis had developed in its most acute form, that it was touch and go whether we should be able to pull through. If it was touch and go then, how are we to pull through now after about six weeks of crisis? Surely not by the addition of an hour of summer time?
That is all I have to say. In common with my fellow agriculturists in Scotland I will do nothing to hinder or impede the Government in regard to this Measure which they think is necessary, but I deeply deplore the fact that it is considered necessary to re-introduce something which we were promised, even in the war years, would never become a permanent feature of our national life. I gravely doubt whether the Government can hope very much from this Bill in pulling us out of a terribly difficult situation.
§ 5.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Lambert (South Molton)
I was very dubious when I heard first of all about the proposal to impose double summer time. The speech of the Home Secretary has done nothing to allay my fears. Neither did the speech of the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. Haire). If I told the Devonshire farmers that cows were self-regulating and could therefore accommodate themselves with ease to the change of time they would regard the suggestion with utter contempt. The hon. Member also suggested that double summer time would help with the lifting of the potatoes. I would like to tell the hon. Member that potatoes are normally 278 lifted in October and November when summer time has finished.
Many hon. Members have suggested that the food situation will be the next crisis in this country. I am afraid that I agree with them. It may well be that we shall soon have to face a food Dunkirk. Double summer time can do nothing but aggravate the situation as it must make the production of food more difficult and therefore lessen the production of food. It will do it for this reason: One of the greatest difficulties farmers have to contend with is shortage of labour. They will have to call upon their workmen to work longer periods of overtime in order to get in the harvest. The farm worker, though most patriotic, is not anxious to work more overtime than he feels is necessary. He already works long hours, the inducement of extra pay is nullified because not only will he have to pay extra taxes but there are no goods in shops which he wants to buy.
I therefore urge the Government, if they really think it is necessary that we should have double summer time, to give the food producers some recompense. For instance, the prices of farm produce should be revised. I have always felt that those prices were very much too low. This is illustrated when one takes into consideration the level of farm rents. I have looked up the rents of several thousand acres in Devonshire and I find that the rents are 2s. 9d. per acre lower today than they were 60 years ago. Last year the farmers had a very bad year; at a National Farmers' Union dinner only a week or two ago a bank manager told me that he could point out two or three farmers at the dinner who last year had lost £500. I would not only urge the Government to increase the prices of all farm produce, but I would ask them to give the farm workers some added inducement to work.
I understand that the miners get extra coal and are to get extra food, and I would suggest that the farm workers get extra food also and are brought up at least to the scale of the miners. If the interests of agriculture are again to be sacrificed, this time because the Government has blundered, agriculture may well suffer a blow from which it can never recover. In a few years time, one might well describe the state of agriculture, if 279 I may paraphrase the words of the poet Goldsmith, thus:Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where officials accumulate, and farms decay.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Dye (Norfolk, South Western)
I would not have intervened in the Debate but for the speeches from hon. Members opposite, which make one feel that we must be back at the beginning of the century; it was then that there was a great deal of talk about summer time. Looking back over that period, I cannot see that agricultural production has decreased, or that there has been any deterioration in the health of the children. On the contrary, the health of the children has improved, and agricultural production has gone up. No Members opposite have brought forward any facts in this Debate to prove that, by altering the clock by one hour at certain times of the year, there has been a definite and measurable decrease in agricultural production, or in the health and welfare of the children. I cannot follow their argument at all. There used to be old people who absolutely refused to change their clocks, because they said it was God's time and anything else was the devil's time. When I look back to see which farms and villages in Norfolk have made the greatest contribution in the output of food, I find it is not those old-fashioned people who have never changed their ideas and methods, who have sat down and said a new thing will flatten them out, but the farmers who have buckled to, brought in more machinery and made their farms up to date.
There are two factors which will influence the production of food this year and next year. Firstly, it will depend on the amount of machinery brought to the aid of the men in the field, and, secondly, on the co-operation between the men and the employers. If there is a proper spirit between the farmers and the farm workers, this Bill will not affect the output of agricultural production. In this respect, it is pleasing to note the reaction of the National Farmers Union. They have reviewed the matter as statesmen, and have said, if this is necessary in the interests of the country, then they will see that it does not adversely affect production. Hall the farmers of the country make up their minds to get the good will and full co- 280 operation of the men, I do not think agricultural production will be adversely affected. If any fanner had been asked whether a cold and dull January and February in 1947 would affect the output of milk, he would have said "Yes, it would." But what are the facts? The old cows have given more milk because of the efficient management of the farmers, and the fact that farm workers have got up early in the morning, in the dark and cold, and have seen to the care and comfort of the cows, and got in the milk. When I was a lad, more than half the farm workers in Norfolk went to work at 5 o'clock in the morning, but now it is 7 o'clock or 7.30 before they go to work on some of the farms. Therefore, if we advance the clock by two hours we are only getting back to the days of our fathers, who used to tell us that:Early to bed and early to rise,Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.The only reason for this Measure is that the habits of the people have changed over the last 40 years. They lie in bed longer in the mornings and work shorter hours, having more leisure in the afternoons and evenings. The farm worker appreciates it as much as anyone, for it has enabled him to take part in bowls, tennis and other things, and no one is any the worse for it. Today they are getting what they always wanted, a little more leisure and pleasure and social life, and an opportunity to mix with other workers when the day's work is done. I want to express my appreciation of the attitude of the National Farmers Union in regard to this Measure, and to make an appeal to farm workers to take it into consideration, and not to let it interfere with the work of harvesting. If the Government have any influence with the farm workers, this will not adversely affect the position, but in so far as it enables better production of machines in general, and agricultural implements in particular, it will be an aid to the farmers to get in bigger crops than ever before.
§ 5.39 p.m.
§ Sir Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)
I was very interested to hear the views of the hon. Member for South-West Norfolk (Mr. Dye), who spoke with such assurance of the point of view of the National Farmers Union in regard to this Measure. The Home Secretary's expression of the views of the National Farmers Union was 281 a very qualified one, and was not as wholehearted as the hon. Member led us to believe. I am convinced that this qualified acceptance was given without a census being taken of the branches. I am convinced that if their opinions had been taken before the statement went out, it would have been quite a different one.
In spite of the fact that we know there is a crisis, I am convinced that anyone who represents any agricultural community would be failing in his duty if he did not express his feelings in regard to this Bill. We have had opinions covering a very wide range of territory, from the North of Scotland to the South of England, from the West, and even from the Fenlands and Border country. None of these people accepted this Measure in anything but a spirit of sacrifice, and I regard the situation in the same way.
I fail to see what good it is going to do to the industry of this country. We are told that this drastic Measure is being sprung on us because it is to assist industrial production in this country. What are the two great industries in this country? Surely, they are coal and agriculture. They are basic industries, which employ the greatest number of people in the country, and without which we could not survive at all. Will double summer time, increase coal production at the face? It will have no effect whatever, and I do not think that a miner would demand double summer time unless it enabled him to attend football matches, which might in itself be commendable, but has nothing to do with the production of coal at the face. The views of agricultural communities in all parts of the country have been expressed today and, without exception, this Bill has been received with disfavour.
Recently, the Minister of Agriculture sent for the chairmen of agricultural committees, and persuaded them of the importance of increased food production this year. He counselled them to go back to their counties, and put everything they knew into greater production of food this year, to step up production by 10 to 20 per cent He said that we were living today on the American Loan, that we would have to spend dollars to buy food, and that dollars would be scarce in the autumn. Greater production of food was, therefore, essential if we were to survive in the years to come. Anybody who has read the Government's White Papers 282 cannot help but be convinced of that fact. It is obvious that we shall be short of dollars next year, and that there will be great alarm in the autumn, when our dollars begin to run out. Is this the time to put this added burden on agriculture? It is a burden—a burden on milk production, and on the agricultural labour force. In order to step up food production, the farmer must consider his labour force. He is told that German prisoners of war on whom we largely depend for labour today are to be sent back this year, or during the next 18 months. They are going back at the rate of 15,000 a month, and when the farmer asks where he will be able to get alternative labour he is told, "Out of the Forces, or civilian life." Anybody who knows anything about the situation of agriculture today in the rural areas realises that it is impossible to get people on to the land because there are no houses available for them. The repeal of the Housing (Rural Workers) Act has been a serious blow to the reconditioning of agricultural cottages. That was a retrograde step. Since then, whatever measures have been taken to build houses in rural areas, and they have been very few—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
I have allowed the hon. Member to travel very far, and he must now come back to the Bill.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
I was giving reasons why it will be impossible for agriculturists to get labour, and step up production this year. Among other reasons, there is the shortage of agricultural machinery and feedingstuffs. What the farmers ask, and rightly, is why the sacrifices which have to be made as a result of the bungling and incompetence of this Government should be borne by them alone? Why should they always have to bear the burden of mistakes made by the Government? What recompense will they get for those sacrifices? If double summer time is introduced it will increase the overtime on farms, which will then increase the cost of production. What steps will the Minister of Agriculture take to recompense farmers for the losses they will make on production?
§ Mr. Alpass (Thornbury)
All those contributory factors to the cost of production will be taken into account by the Government in fixing prices.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
The hon. Member has been courageous enough to make that pledge. He will have to get the Government to live up to it, otherwise he will have a great deal of trouble to face in his constituency, especially from agriculturists. On behalf of the farming community in my Division, I must express the strong feelings they have on this subject. At their recent conference, they asked whether this question of summer time was likely to be brought up again this year, and I felt justified in giving them an assurance that it would not. Now it is flung upon them as a result, as I have said, of the bungling and incompetence of this Government. It is just as well that they should know who is responsible, and I shall lose no opportunity of telling them.
§ 5.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Royle (Salford, West)
I have listened with great interest to this Debate, and I am sure that the House must be getting the impression that nothing is good about the introduction and extension of summer time. I appreciate that the provisions of this Bill may be disadvantageous to the agricultural community, but there is another point of view—that of the urban districts—which has not so far been put forward. I represent a wholly industrial constituency, which consists almost entirely of poor, mean, miserable streets, into which the sun rarely penetrates. I am concerned about getting this extra two hours of daylight for the health and benefit of the people in my constituency. There is a section of the community which will welcome the introduction of summer time and double summer time without any reservation whatever.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan (Perth and Kinross, Perth)
When the hon. Member talks about extra daylight, will he say where it is coming from?
§ Mr. Royle
People in constituencies such as mine will have the advantage of extra daylight in the evening. When they finish work they will be able to get out into the country, away from the meanness and squalor to which they are accustomed, and have the opportunity of enjoying God's sunlight and fresh air.
§ Mr. Royle
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman has no appreciation of, that kind of life. The man who is working in a 284 cotton mill or an engineering factory cannot get up in the early hours to take his walk into the country, and get back in time to start his work. I am putting forward a plea for this Bill, and we should remember that there is a point of view quite adverse to that of the agricultural community. I am all for helping the agricultural community. I believe that agriculture is a basic industry, and that the agricultural community should be assisted as much as possible, but I do not want it to be forgotten that there is a section of the community that requires our attention just as much, and that so far as the children are concerned, in constituencies such as those which I have mentioned, fresh air is often as important as sleep, and these children are not getting it. The suggestion offered by the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Collins) would overcome the child problem with regard to summer time, if the education authorities would adjust the school times. Even in the squalor which I have mentioned, there are men endeavouring to provide more food for their families on small allotments, and the two hours which will be provided by this Bill will be invaluable to them. We should not regard this Bill as wholly bad, because there are points in it which are of advantage to at least one section of the community.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Lieut. - Colonel Sir Walter Smiles (Down)
I wish to point out how this Bill applies to Northern Ireland. Mine is an agricultural constituency, and I have received a good many letters on the subject of this Bill. I will quote one of them as an example.In the interests of agriculture and also of children and young people, and in view of the fact that we are already half an hour in advance of London time, it is hoped that you will do your utmost to prevent the adoption of double summer time in Northern Ireland.That letter was sent to a Member of the Northern Ireland Parliament, who says that the question of daylight saving does not come within the province of the Northern Ireland Government; and so he has passed the buck to me. That was the gentleman who occupies exactly the same position at Stormont as you do here, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.
I look at Clause 3 of this Bill in its application to Northern Ireland and I have read in the Library the three Acts which are mentioned in that Clause. As far as I can see, after my perusal of them 285 this Bill, when it is passed at Westminster, will apply in Northern Ireland. With the exception of the farmers, I have had no other objections from Northern Ireland. The general idea of the people there is that anything which they can do to help this country through its coal and fuel crisis, they are willing to do. At the same time, I hope that it will be remembered that in Northern Ireland we are always half an hour ahead of England and Scotland, and when people here clock in at 8 o'clock, the Northern Ireland workers have, as the sun goes, already done half an hour's work. I hope that whoever is to reply will clarify the situation with regard to Northern Ireland.
§ 5.56 p.m.
§ Mr. York (Ripon)
I wanted to oppose this Bill, and the reason why some of my hon. Friends dissuaded me from that course was because this Government, at long last, have produced this one ewe lamb to get us out of a crisis. They advised me not to discourage them by opposing this Bill from any course which would bring this country from the very depths into which they have plunged it. Had it not been for that, I would most certainly have joined with my hon. Friend the junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert) in opposing this Bill root and branch, because I feel as strongly as he did that it is wholly wrong to tinker about with the clock; moreover, it shows the depravity into which this nation is falling if it needs to alter the clock in order to get us up at a reasonable hour. What is required, apparently, is that workers in factories shall start at an earlier hour. I believe that is the whole cause which this Bill is designed to promote. If that is so, instead of having a cumbrous Measure like this which puts to great inconvenience the most important industry in the country, would it not have been far simpler for the consultative committees of the various industries, the joint committees of the trade unions, and the employers to have got together to alter the hours in those industries?
§ Major Cecil Poole (Lichfield)
Does not the hon. Gentleman realise the implication of what he has suggested? Does he not understand that all the railway companies in the country would have to alter their timetables to enable this to be done?
§ Mr. York
I must draw the attention of the House and the country to the appalling 286 prospects with which we are faced as a result of the new nationalised industry which this House has tried so repeatedly to thrust upon the country. If it is impracticable in localities to alter the timing of trains and buses under the new nationalised system, we are in for a very sticky time. It seems to me that this Bill is really all of which this Government are capable, and the prospect appals me.
I want to make two points. The Home Secretary admitted that the agricultural industry would be put to grave inconvenience in having the time extended, in which it would have to work in artificial light. As a matter of fact, I make out the situation to be something like this. On 16th March sunrise is at 6.8, which would mean light about quarter to seven. On 20th April, which is the normal time in former years of summer time coming into effect, sunrise is at 5.5, so that there is light somewhere about 5.50. By starting summer time on 15th March, supposing the dairy farmer starts at six in the morning, he will have three-quarters of an hour in artificial light under the old proposal, and nearly an hour and three-quarters under the new proposal. I submit to the Home Secretary, who is an important Member of the Government, that that constitutes a strong case for allowing agricultural industry to have priority of the highest order in connection with electricity supplies.
At the moment, all over the country we are trying to induce the electrical power companies to do some of the arrears of work which have been hanging over for the past seven or eight years in regard to new connections. We are very much behind in that sphere. We are told that it is quite impossible, because the Government forgot to order any insulators to be made, or forgot to buy any poles. [Interruption.] I think that I am making a perfectly proper point on a matter which is of great importance to the agricultural industry and to the rural areas in general. They have not got the normal supply of new connections the need for which might have been anticipated, and certainly they have not started to work off any of the arrears. Therefore, I suggest that a case has been made out by the Home Secretary himself for high priority for the agricultural industry in this matter of new connections. I think enough has been said on the question of additional food, but I would add 287 that if it is possible to obtain additional supplies of food for mining areas, it should be possible to secure the same for agricultural districts.
§ Mr. York
If I might put it to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, it has been argued by a number of speakers that the added strain of double summer time on the agricultural workers will mean that they will need more fuel of a food nature, and, therefore, the same arrangements that have been made for the coal mining industry ought to be made for the rural areas. I was merely enforcing that point, and I will not continue it if you think that I should leave it. I would end by saying that many Members of the House take exception to the proposal contained in this Bill. At the moment, although we are prepared under protest to give the Government their Bill, we object most strongly to the permanent powers which are being taken, and also to the fact that the Government can put the new regulations in future years, into effect without coming to this House for a positive Resolution. If the Government can meet us on those points I feel they would go a long way to repay us for refraining from opposing the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Kendall (Grantham)
I have listened to the speeches on this Bill with great interest. There are a number of things that are very true about the Bill. Number one is that the Government are going to pass the Second Reading, and number two is that there is no innovation about the Bill. I remember that in the last Parliament we discussed double summer time from time to time, and the only objections that were ever raised by the Members of the Tory Party were generally raised in respect of the agricultural community. If we were ready to have double summer time during the war years, it is certainly right to have it at present because of the very grave difficulties in our industrial life. I feel that no argument whatsoever is needed to support the necessity for working the maximum number of daylight hours possible. When answering a question that was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for West Salford (Mr. Royle), an hon. 288 Member opposite also asked from where were we to get the extra daylight hours. That was rather a silly question. Most folk in the country are accustomed to work to the clock. Whether the cows are accustomed to work to the clock is entirely another matter, but the fact is that people will get out of bed when the alarum clock rings, based on the time which is in operation.
§ Mr. Kendall
The hon. and gallant Member wants to clear his ears out and he will see how well he can hear. [Interruption.] I was merely replying to the hon. and gallant Member's interjection. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order, order."] I know that hon. Members opposite are very good at shouting "Order, order" when they do not like something which is said in answer to an interruption.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)
On a point of Order. Is it in Order for the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Kendall), when referring to hon. Members on this side of the House, to use the expression, "Clear your ears out"?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I did not hear the expression myself, but if the remark was used it was certainly not in good taste.
§ Mr. Kendall
I accept your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I should have referred to the party as a whole and not to a particular Member. The situation which has been adopted is one which will mean that the agricultural community are going to be a little bit embarrassed as they have been during the war years when double summer time was in operation. That is true but owing to the needs of the agricultural community—and I represent one equally as well—
§ Mr. Kendall
—and perhaps it is as important as most agricultural communities in this country of ours—I will give way if the hon. Member opposite wants to say something.
§ Mr. Kendall
Perhaps a great deal better than the hon. Member. If the hon. Member would like to look at his election figures and compare them with mine he will see that mine are pretty good. 289 [Interruption.] Does someone else want to have a go? The agricultural community is certainly going to be a little embarrassed but not any more embarrassed than the industrial workers would be, and when one weighs up the two problems, based on the necessity of conserving as much electricity and power as we possibly can in this present day and age, I think that there is no argument for any challenge to this Bill. The main strength behind my argument is the fact that the Party opposite are not going to challenge the Bill by going to a Division. I should like to say in conclusion that the farmers and farm, workers will still get on with their jobs extremely well during the war, and from the economic standpoint I think it is absolutely essential that this Bill should go through for at least the length of time during which we are in our present difficulties in the industrial field.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)
There seem to be two tactics of approach to this Bill—that adopted by the Home Secretary of quiet reasonableness, and that adopted by the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Kendall) of noisy unreasonableness. I am perfectly certain that hon. Members on both sides have a marked preference for the former. I believe that that is so, notwithstanding the fact that the hon. Member for Grantham, speaking from a somewhat unexpected tactical position among the Government supporters—I assume that he is working his passage—
§ Mr. Kendall
From time to time I have found it necessary to try to tone up either one side of the House or the other. Last week I endeavoured to help out the Tory Party because they were in such terrible difficulties, and today the Government are very welcome to my support.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
I should be the last person to dispute the necessity for toning up the Government, but I am inclined to think that the particular method used and its particular application are unlikely to be successful. Before passing from the distasteful subject of the hon. Member for Grantham, I must deplore his introduction into this Debate of repartee which, while it may be suitable for certain types of company meeting, is entirely unsuitable for this House of Commons.
§ Major Poole
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, is it in Order in this House to cast aspersions on a company meeting which may have some interest for hon. Members?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I do not think that the remarks of the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) were exceptionable.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
If I am touching upon matters which the hon. and gallant Member for Lichfield (Major Poole) finds embarrassing, I apologise to him. In his usual conciliatory manner the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State quite clearly indicated that his enthusiasm for this Bill was somewhat limited, and he made it abundantly plain to this House that he was introducing it only because of the stark necessity of the fuel situation. In those circumstances I must register my protest that on a Bill whose origin was stated by the Home Secretary to be that, and which bears on its back the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Fuel and Power, no representative of that Department has been on the Front Bench opposite throughout the afternoon. I should be the last person in this House to desire to distract the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Fuel and Power from administrative tasks which are manifestly beyond him to activities in legislation, but in view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman regards himself as having ample time to nationalise electricity I submit that it is quite wrong that on a Bill of the nature of the present Measure, whose cause and origin we have been told, there should be no attempt whatever by any representative of his Department to be present to assist the House in its deliberation.
The only other matter to which I desire to invite attention is this. The Home Secretary's argument was to my mind a compelling one in favour of summer time this year. I think he made out his case for that, but what he made no case for was the indefinite continuance of that state of affairs without reference to the House of Commons. His argument would have been stronger had he applied this Bill solely to the present year. It would have been tenable if he had applied it to next year, but surely it is untenable to apply it quite indefinitely and simply by Order in Council subject only to Negative Resolution. If it has done nothing 291 else this Debate has made it perfectly clear that this is a matter upon which opinions vary far from on party lines. I need only refer to the very sincere and most powerful speech of the, hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Stubbs) who made it quite clear that this Bill strikes a serious blow to his constituents. In those circumstances, surely it is right that this House of Commons should be used as the forum in which, in future years, one consideration should be weighed against another? It does seem quite deplorable that the only method by which this matter will ever again be able to come before the House of Commons, if the Bill stands as it does now, will be by Prayer, late at night against an Order in Council.
I do hope that the hon. Gentleman who is to reply may be able to yield to what I think is the universal feeling of this House that the least we are entitled to demand is an Affirmative Resolution which can be debated before summer time is applied in any subsequent year. I notice that the Parliamentary Secretary's head is moving in an encouraging direction and I shall certainly welcome a concession in this direction—as I am sure will all hon. Members—because it seems perfectly clear that if hon. Members are to do their duty to their constituents on a matter on which opinions vary, and by which interests of all kinds are very much affected, it is important that this question should not be put beyond discussion in this House.
There is one other matter to which I hope the Minister will also refer. As far as I can recollect when double summer time was applied during the war the necessary adjustments were made by Order in Council to the licensing laws. The House will appreciate that the closing hour of public houses is a matter which cannot be divorced from hours of work, and that if the time at which work is done is altered it is desirable in certain areas—particularly agricultural areas—to make some adjustment of the hours of closing of licensed houses. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary may be able to indicate that that matter has not been lost sight of, and that some provision similar to that introduced during the war is being considered by the Government. There is no reference to it whatsoever in the Bill, but I have no doubt that the immense powers of delegated legislation to which 292 the Government cling so closely these days would provide a remedy if the Government desired to make one. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour may be good enough to deal also with that point. Finally, I can only say that my attitude to the Bill is that. of the Home Secretary—one of resolute resignation.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Hurd
—in having been convinced by what the Home Secretary said. I thought that the case he made was a remarkably thin one. We have all hoped that there must be some real advantages attaching to summer time. The particular advantages which he laid before us were not very compelling—a saving of fuel of 150,000 tons, a very small quantity, and the possibility that double summer time will enable double shifts to be worked, I assume not only in factories but in transport and so on. We should like to know a little more about the Government's intentions on those lines.
The Government must have weighed up the pros and cons rather more carefully than they have divulged this afternoon. The gains were outlined by the Home Secretary. The losses of course are on the food production side. It has been mentioned that the agricultural community is being asked to make drastic sacrifices. Please do not let the House look at this question from the point of view of helping agriculture. It is not a matter of helping a lame farmer or a poor farmworker over the stile. It is a matter of enabling the agricultural community to produce what the country must have this year and next year. We have already unhappily tasted a coal crisis. I fear that we shall soon be feeling a food crisis. We have had bad conditions for getting on the land, and the work is much behind. By this Bill we are imposing handicaps on the agricultural community at a time when it needs all the enabling Measures it can possibly get from Parliament.
What are these handicaps? First, we shall require the working farmer and the farm worker to put in a quite fantastic working week. Already the minimum 293 working week in agriculture is 48 hours. If the farmers and the farmworkers are to get the hay in—a very vital product for next winter's milk—and if they are to do the very urgent jobs that must be done during the summer months, the average working week in farming will be 60 hours. I am sorry to have to say that. I wish it were not—it is much too long—but that is a debit we have to put on one side of the account. While the farming community, both masters and men, are carrying that debit, please do not let us have any more claims for 4o hour weeks or 42 or 44 hour weeks in other industries. It will not go down at all well. We must have some equality of effort and sacrifice in getting this country out of the mess into which it has drifted.
The other item on the debit side is the overtime which will be necessary for the 800,000 working farmers and farmworkers of this country—I exclude some gentlemen farmers who perhaps may not work the full hours. If they put in the extra time which will be necessary and do the job expected of them it will cost the consumers another £8 million this year. I am sure that the Minister of Agriculture sitting on the Government Front Bench will confirm that the extra cost in overtime arising from the imposition of summer time and double summer time will be recompensed to the farming community. I estimate that about £8 million will be required this season to make up the extra fully-earned pay to the workers and in compensation to the farmers for the extra time they put in. That is an item this House should recognise, because it will come back to the taxpayer or the consumer of food in the very near future.
I was not convinced by what the Home Secretary said. He could have made out a much stronger case. I most firmly support the Amendment which we shall be considering later that this matter should come up for review each year before this House. We should be given a much clearer and more convincing balance sheet than we have been given this afternoon. The farming community accepts this as an inevitable necessity. We recognise the frailty of our brothers in the towns who cannot work by the sun unless they have an alarm clock set to an artificial time to tell them when they have to get up. We are not convinced, and we hope that in future years a much fuller and more carefully drawn up balance sheet will be pro- 294 vided so that the House will be given all the facts before it imposes summer time in any future year.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Mr. John Morrison (Salisbury)
I intervene for a minute or two as one who is himself responsible for farming and also as one who represents an agricultural constituency. It has not been strongly enough emphasised that the difficulties of farming have been very grave over recent months. After the very late harvest, autumn sowing on the land has made everything very much behindhand. After that, in this hard weather which we are still undergoing, ploughing and spring work on the farm has been completely stopped, and there is no doubt that it has put the timing of agriculture for production in this year's harvest very considerably behindhand. It has been mentioned that the leaders of the agricultural community accept the imposition of summer time, and no doubt under a feeling of national patriotism they do so, but they only do so owing to the grave crisis. I can assure right hon. Gentlemen opposite that the branches in the country—I attended one on Saturday night—feel very strong regrets and indeed resentment at this necessity, and do not accept the fact that the provisions of the Bill must go on indefinitely.
A point not previously mentioned is that the person who is more affected by the imposition of double summer time in the countryside is not the farmworker himself, whose difficulties have been mentioned, and not the farmer, whose additional burdens and costs have been spoken of, but the smallholder, the independent man working on his own. He gets up by the sun and goes to bed after shutting up the chickens, at a later hour than would otherwise be the case. Something ought to be done for him. As an independent man, he is not getting the extra ration which is supplied to the agricultural workers, and this longer day will be very considerably felt by such small men. I hope, therefore, that the Government will agree that this Bill should not go on indefinitely, and that next year we shall consider it again if necessary, though we hope very much that it will not be. However, as the number of crises increase, as indicated by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank), it remains to be seen how many more there will be, by this time next year.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. David Renton (Huntingdon)
I wish to make it clear in the first place that, after very full consideration, I am against this Bill. I do not intend to divide the House on it but it is my duty to my constituents to voice the protest which they have made. In doing so, may I say that although I represent an agricultural constituency, I shall not stress further the disadvantages to agriculture? I intend to go right back to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Second Reading of this Bill. He advanced certain reasons which may be summarised by saying that he put forward this Bill in the hope that it would increase output. I think that is a fair summary of his positive arguments. He said that there were disadvantages, but that those disadvantages have to be overlooked in view of the present circumstances so that output may be increased. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the arguments he put forward about an increase of output are illusory.
May I quickly run through some of the points which he raised in that connection? He said first that it was necessary to spread the load, to flatten out the peak period. In saying so, I think he was not thinking of fuel economy but of the shift system which it is proposed to introduce. So far as the flattening out of the peak load is concerned, so to rearrange people's lives that they get up during the hours of darkness instead of daylight, is, I think, creating a peak load which could be avoided. If there is an answer to it, I shall be grateful to know. My second point is that the right hon. Gentleman said that this rearrangement of the clock would facilitate the staggering of hours—again, no doubt, referring to the shift system. If it would facilitate that, I would be inclined to withdraw my protest against this Bill, but he merely said that it would facilitate the staggering of hours and did not say why. I am unable to see why, and should be grateful for a further explanation. Surely the main point about the staggering of hours is to stagger them irrespective of the clock. Staggering is a defiance of the clock, and no rearrangement of the clock will facilitate the staggering of hours. At first sight, a legitimate argument might appear to be that people will get more leisure in daylight. "At first sight," I said, but it has to be re- 296 membered that that would be an argument, not merely for a temporary Bill of this nature, but for permanent double summer time and I do not think it is suggested that that should be introduced.
§ Mr. Renton
That may well be, but I think the right hon. Gentleman, in mentioning that, was putting it up as a minor argument. In any event, I doubt whether even that is sufficient advantage to outweigh the many disadvantages which, it is agreed on both sides of the House, are in the proposed system. The position is this: it cannot increase the happiness even of urban dwellers—and I have been an urban dweller as much as a rural dweller—to arrange their lives in such a way that they have to get up in the dark and in the chilly damp of the early morning, when they could get up at a slightly more comfortable hour. Although there are those people who will give anything for an extra hour in the evening, I suggest that they will not enjoy it. I feel bound to point out, having listened carefully to this Debate, that this Bill will be getting a Second Reading merely because most people in this country live in towns.
Finally, we have to remember that this double summer time will be a great disturbance to that most valuable human perquisite which has something to do with output—sleep. This Bill murders sleep. For those people who have to get up early in the morning, it will mean that in summer they will have to go to bed more nights while it is still light, and before the sun has set, than they would normally have to do even under one hour of summer time, andSleep, that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care,is a thing with which the Government should be very reluctant to interfere.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)
I, unlike most hon. and right hon. Members who have spoken today, do not happen to have a large number of agriculturists in my division, and I would therefore say one or two things about a speech which was made earlier in the day by my hon. Friend the junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert). He pointed out that, apart from the agriculturists, there would be another very hard working, very industrious class of 297 men who have great difficulties, at any rate when the weather is bad—the seafaring population. You may alter the clocks, but even this Government—although I do not disclaim that they may be responsible for the weather—cannot as yet completely control the tides, for the tides are governed by certain immutable laws, although I would not be in the least surprised to see the Home Secretary trying to pass a law to do even that. This point was put far better by the junior Burgess for Oxford University than I can put it, but there is a serious problem in connection with navigation and the ports of this country owing to the fact that four times a year there is an entirely artificial change in the clocks, and we are not endeavouring in any way to meet them on that point. That point is worth emphasising as one of the smaller but real objections to this Bill.
I am sure the Home Secretary must have been pleased that he had such an easy wicket to play on today, because although the House of Commons is entitled to say—whatever the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Kendall) may say—"Here is a Bill we accept in principle, here is a Bill against which we do not intend to divide," we still have the right in this House to put the point of view of our own constituents, and we have had the interesting fact that some of the most strongly worded speeches against the Bill have come not from these Benches but from the Benches behind the Government. In other words we have been criticising this Bill today as a Council of State trying to arrive at what is best. The right hon. Gentleman has this further advantage: he knows that there never has been a time in either of the last two wars, or on any other occasion when any section of the agricultural community have not at once worked in accordance with the wishes of the Government of the day and always put the national interest first.
That is the thing which stands to their credit. There were no strikes, no lockouts, and no trouble of any sort, but they went on quietly doing their job. It showed that they were determined to do their best to help the country. That does not mean that they are complacent. I am not sure that the Minister of Agriculture has not been rather complacent about the burdens put on to the part of the community he is supposed to be looking after. Perhaps he may be speaking later 298 on, and will tell us of the great fight he had to put up for this or that point of view.
I have one or two words to say in criticism of the Home Secretary's statement. He regretted, and I am sure this was quite genuine, that there was not a regulation under which this could be done. If there had been a regulation, the House of Commons would be silent except that possibly there might have been a Prayer. He naturally rejoiced in it.
§ Mr. Williams
I am very glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman neither rejoiced in nor regretted it, but merely made a statement of fact. But the whole time he looked very unhappy, and when be said it would not come on next year, he cheered up. I have seldom seen him smile in this House, but I have seen him smile at his own stories. I think he was quite right to emphasise to the House that in considering this Bill we should think of the health of the children. I have had a letter from a school teacher deeply deprecating the fundamentally bad effect of this on children as a whole. I am aware that from certain points of view it is good so far as the towns are concerned. Undoubtedly from the allotment holders' point of view it is a very valuable thing. Probably that is the most valuable thing that will happen, because, generally speaking, anyone working on his allotment works ten times as hard as in a factory. Those two effects may balance each other. But we ought to have a definite inquiry to see what the people who really understand these things believe will be the effect on the people, and especially on the children of the country.
I have no objection to the Bill coming in today. I fully realise that it has to be brought in, and I recognise that the whole trouble is due to recent circumstances, as the right hon. Gentleman said at the end of his speech. Of course it is. We must blame the storm a little. But people will say that the real trouble is that the circumstances have been so "mucked about" by the Government that this sort of thing has to be done. I was astonished when the right hon. Gentleman was saying so clearly that its effect on agriculture would 299 be bad, that he did not in any way say how the Government were going to smooth that over. That could easily have been done. He could easily have said that as we are piling on the hours for the agricultural labourer, and adding to the burdens on agriculture, we must try to ensure that they have the fullest possible results and that those engaged in agriculture should have as much food as they need, in the same way as the miner gets his coal. The Government might have said a great many other things of that type. I am hoping that these gifts will come out of the mouth of whoever replies to the Debate. I do not know whether the Minister of Agriculture will have the courtesy to get up to reply to many valuable speeches made from back benches, including some of the back benches behind him. I hope he will do so. If not, perhaps the Under-Secretary will reply and he is, of course, a kindhearted man. He may be able to tell us that the time has come to ask the miner to give part of his coal to the agricultural worker. After all, they have five tons to our one, though I will not go into that question.
I regret that this Bill has to be introduced, but I accept it in the spirit in which I believe the whole House accepts it, that it is a very unfortunate necessity due by 90 per cent. to the Government's mess-up and muddle. I hope this Measure will only last for a year, so that we can have a fuller understanding of those evils which the Home Secretary himself admitted, arose under the previous legislation, and that it will not be made a permanent Measure, until we can have a real inquiry into whether the advantages are really on one side or the other.
§ 6.49 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Ness Edwards)
The Debate was opened by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in a manner which has been commended by both sides of the House. He was followed by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) in very much the same tone. I propose to copy their example, and, if I can, I will endeavour to meet some of the wishes which have been expressed from both sides of the House in regard to certain modifications.
300 If we had not brought the Bill in, the first condemnation we would have had would have been from the opposite side of the House, because this Bill is one of the steps which, in our view, must be taken, first, in order to save fuel and, secondly, to get the most continuous production; and thirdly, it is to create the conditions which will lead to an opportunity to increase the output of coal. I should have said first that we are aware that all the arguments that have been used about the Bill tonight were used in 1925, and during the war, in relation to an exactly similar proposition, for the very reason that during wartime it was necessary to have provision of this sort. Substantially the same reasons apply today. During this Debate we have had echoes not only of the Debates during the war, but of the great controversy of 1925, and, I think, of an earlier Debate when the general principle was the subject of discussion in this House. The Government would not lightly bring this proposal forward, especially double summer time. They would not bring it forward unless they were actuated by motives which were above suspicion, and for reasons of considerable substance.
It is generally agreed that the burden which is to be imposed upon the agricultural community is a heavy one. The sacrifice that has to be imposed upon them is one which no one likes to impose. In this connection, I wish to associate myself with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough in paying the compliment he did to the high sense of duty that obviously actuated the President of the National Farmers Union in agreeing to give the fullest cooperation in the implementation of the proposals contained in this Bill. In order that it should be made quite clear, and be put on the record, perhaps I ought to read it. He said that on behalf of the farming community he must repeat and continue to urge the agricultural objections, which would apply with even greater force than usual in the forthcoming summer, in view of the heavy programme in front of the industry, the delay caused by the bad weather and the shortage of labour. He added, however, and I should like to underline this, that nevertheless, the serious position facing the country must be recognised, in spite of the adverse repercussions on the agricul- 301 tural industry. If the Government's proposals were to be carried out, he trusted that, with the full co-operation of the workers, the agricultural output would be maintained in the face of these new difficulties. In my view that is the statement of a man with a high sense of national responsibility, putting aside his narrow industrial interests in the interests of the nation at the present time.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
It is not stated in that statement whether the President had consulted with the branches of the National Farmers Union.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I should imagine that the President of the National Farmers Union is in a good position to know the feelings of the people he represents. That must be the basis on which the Government carry on their negotiations with industry.
Together with that declaration by the President of the National Farmers Union, I should also like to refer to the appeal made by my hon. Friend the Member for South West Norfolk (Mr. Dye). He appealed to the agricultural workers to give the maximum co-operation, with the farmers, in order to make the best of this situation which has been created for them.
§ Mr. Renton
Will not the hon. Member agree that that appeal was made only after the Government decision had been reached, and that the Minister of Agriculture agreed to it without the Agricultural Workers' Union having been consulted? They were merely informed afterwards.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
At all stages, I think, everyone has been aware of the necessity for the measures proposed in this Bill. After all, these discussions are carried on by the Minister of Agriculture. I am advised that both sides of the industry have been informed at every stage. The Government have taken the decision. They do not seek to farm out their responsibilities. The Government have taken their decision, but they have, from stage to stage, kept both sides of the industry informed of the position.
I come to the point about which most hon. Members have felt aggrieved. It was put by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough in the first speech following that of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. 302 The right hon. and gallant Gentleman said that in his view the House ought to have a chance, by means of an affirmative Resolution, of discussing this matter every year. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has authorised me to say that he accedes to that request, and whilst the form of words already proposed may not be acceptable, a form of words will be devised to give effect to that undertaking. That will indicate to the House that in this matter we want to carry everyone with us. We want to do what is right, and to get the largest measure of co-operation in relation to this Bill which we can possibly get, in all quarters of the House and the country. I was asked by the hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr, W. Roberts) whether or not it was the intention to have summer time in winter. I can give him a categorical undertaking that that is not the intention.
I was also asked about Northern Ireland. I am informed that this Bill will apply to Northern Ireland in exactly the same way as it will apply in England, Wales and Scotland. The Northern Ireland Government have been consulted, and are in full agreement. In that sense, the full terms of the Bill will apply to Northern Ireland.
§ Sir W. Smiles
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would assist the Government of Northern Ireland in getting electricity, poles and plant for the farmers there, as they have half an hour less light in the morning?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
That is scarcely a matter which comes within the terms of this Bill.
What are we doing to assist the agricultural community? I announced last week that farmers' wives were invited to make their applications now for domestic servants from among the displaced persons. In that way we are giving them a preference over other private households in this country. As soon as the hospitals and institutions are supplied with servants, the farmers' wives are next in order of priority. We hope we shall be able, in this way, to give them some relief.
I come to the reasons for the Bill from the Ministry of Labour point of view. As my right hon. Friend said, there is an estimated saving in a year, under these proposals, of 150,000 tons of coal. But that saving is estimated on the basis of 303 there being no staggering, either of working hours or of the working week, or of having the double day shift. It is anticipated that we shall get a larger saving than 150,000 tons by spreading the work over the daylight period. The next point is that there is a feeling that by having double summer time, by the proposals of this Bill, we shall be able to work, and more conveniently get, a morning shift and an afternoon shift. If there are night shifts the load will be even more flattened and spread over the 24 hours, but there are great difficulties in working a night shift in many industries, and it is desirable that it should not be done in some industries, but that there should be a morning and afternoon shift Then there is a less load. The tendency is to try to get a staggering of shifts in the morning and afternoon rather than to have a day shift and a night shift. We think these proposals will enable us to get that arrangement far more easily than if we had not got the proposals contained in this Bill. The whole question is the subject of discussion in various localities, and we are satisfied that the negotiations which are going on are taking into account the proposals contained in the Bill.
§ Mr. C. Williams
On this figure of 150,000 tons a year, is the hon. Gentleman aware that it was said the other day in the House that the miners themselves have 100,000 tons a week? In other words, this saves only 1½ weeks' supply of miners' coal.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
That is not the end of the story. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will listen to the end of the story in this connection. I said that this Bill does three things. First, it enables us to effect fuel economy; second, it enables us to get continuous reduction of the local load on the generators; and, third, it creates the conditions in which we can get a greater output of coal. It is with that third condition that I wish to deal now. If we have the provisions contained in this Bill we can work the winding and screening at the collieries on two shifts in daylight. We can have a morning shift winding coal in daylight and an afternoon shift employed on winding and screening coal. All will be done in daylight. That means we shall get a better result. The job will be more quickly done. I am sure everyone is aware of the great loss of output 304 which has resulted from the inability to provide empty wagons at the collieries and to get rid of wagons quickly even when they are there.
We think this proposal will enable us to get a far better clearance at the collieries. If we can have two shifts employed on shunting wagons over a longer period in daylight that, too, will bring a better result. In regard to transport generally on the railways and in the shunting yards, if we can organise two shifts dealing with that work in daylight, we -are bound to get a better result both at the colliery and at the consumer's end. On the question of loading ships at docks, here again we can employ two clear shifts during daylight and that ought to give us a much better clearance in the turn round of ships.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
What has that to do with the production of coal at the coal face? That is the cause of the shortage today.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I would have thought that every hon. Gentleman in this House knew that one of the limiting factors at collieries has been the inability to transport the coal after it is produced. We have lost millions of tons of coal because of the inability of our transport to shift it. These proposals will help to get the clearance of the transport. They will help to get transport moving quickly and regularly.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves that point, is it not a fact that mare coal was transported in January this year than in January of last year?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
If one has due regard to the tremendous quantity of vehicles brought into operation and the terrific efforts that have been made, the number of trains which have been staffed and the concentration of effort, that will be well understood. We want to give the maximum service to the country and not to interfere with the normal services in order specifically to provide rolling stock to shift coal. I am sure that point will be appreciated by hon. Members on both sides of the House. Then there is the question of unloading coal at power station berths. That has been one of the limiting factors in London. If we can have two clear shifts working in daylight, that will help a great deal. Last, but 305 not least, if we have a double shift—a morning and an afternoon shift—employed in open cast mining, both shifts working in daylight, there are very great possibilities that we shall get a very much greater output of coal from this type of mining. Those are the considerations which actuate the Government in bringing forward these proposals. In regard to the one major point upon which the House has pressed for consideration—the question of bringing in the affirmative Resolution—that is conceded. In view of that, I ask the House to give this Bill a Second Reading.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Sir Ralph Glyn (Abingdon)
I was loth to interrupt the Parliamentary Secretary because he gave a very full explanation. However, there are three points that I would like to put, which possibly can be answered by one of the right hon. Gentlemen at present sitting on the Government Front Bench. In regard to coal and transport, I would only say that what is wanted is an improvement in the calorific value of the coal which is supplied. I believe it is a fact that the railways of this country have carted something like 8 million tons of dirt through faulty screening. If anything could be done to improve the screening as a result of daylight saving, that would be of great advantage to the industry of this country. Do not let us hear anything more after the passing of this Bill about slate and dirt being delivered to industry to clinker boilers and retard production.
Another point is that during this Debate various matters have been raised which closely affect agriculture. I hoped that the Minister of Agriculture would have seen his way to get up and give us an assurance that while agriculture—as usual the Cinderella of industries in this country—is going to suffer a loss of anything between £6 million to £8 million in overtime payments, those losses will be made up. I should have thought that the Minister of Agriculture would have seized this opportunity to assure the House that they would be made up, and that the industry would not suffer. It is all very well to say that agriculture is 306 showing a very fine spirit. It certainly is, but it should be remembered that these people have to live and that their position is difficult at the moment. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way, before we get to the further stages, to give that assurance.
A third point which I want to make is in regard to education. The Home Secretary has had very great experience in this connection. I appeal to him, as appeals are being made from the back benches, to consider that this daylight saving business upsets the homes of rural workers especially with regard to school hours. I cannot conceive why it is not possible for the Ministry of Education to give permission to authorities in the counties to enable them to stagger school hours in order to meet the inconvenience of parents. At present it puts a heavy burden on the wife of an agricultural labourer with children who has to arrange food to fit in with children's school hours. The Home Secretary must also be aware of the fact that owing to children running riot in the evenings, and staying up very late instead of going to bed, they frequently get into mischief. One of the things on the debit side in this matter, apart from the effect on the health of children, is the great difficulty which will confront the authorities in keeping children out of mischief and trying to prevent more children drifting into activities which have been such a heavy burden recently on the police forces of the country.
§ Mr. Driberg rose—
§ Mr. Speaker
I thought the hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) merely wished to ask a question. I am sorry I did not call the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg).
§ Mr. Driberg
With regard to the assurance given by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour—for which we are most grateful, and which, as he will agree, was pressed on him by Members on this side as well as in the Opposition—could he say whether Amendments embodying it will be introduced in another place?
§ Sir Frank Sanderson (Ealing, East)
Did I understand the Minister to say that the net saving in coal would be 150,000 tons per year? Is that what I understood him to say?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I said that the estimate of the net saving due to the introduction of this Bill, without regard to staggering or anything else, was 150,000 tons.
§ Sir F. Sanderson
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that saving is equivalent to the output of coal for one and a half hours? That is the only saving.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ Bill immediately considered in Cornmittee.—[Mr. Collindridge.]
§ [Mr. HUBERT BEAUMONT in the Chair]