I beg to move to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
I have no intention of delivering a controversial speech arousing feelings such as perhaps were aroused by speeches delivered a few nights ago. The question to-night is purely a business question between the railway companies on the one side and the great traders of this country on the other. The purpose of the Bill brought in by the London and North Western and Midland Group is to give the railways full powers to run road traffic across the country, in any district to which their system affords access, by means of vehicles drawn by animal, electrical, or other mechanical power for the convenience of merchandise, passengers, and luggage. I understand that since the Bill has been introduced the promoters have agreed to delete the provision with regard to passenger traffic, owing to the opposition of local authorities, who fear interference with the passenger traffic which they at present carry on. It seems to me that this is ridiculous because if it is desirable in the public interest to give powers to carry merchandise it seems to be equally reasonable that they should have powers to carry passengers as well. The fact that carrying passengers might injure local authorities is of no greater importance than the fact that carrying merchandise might injure, not local authorities, but private enterprise.
The next Clause was put in, I cannot help thinking, to placate possible opposition. It proposes that the company is not to be allowed to manufacture any road vehicles which they provide, own, work or use under this Act. That is a Clause which can hardly stand long. If it is desirable that a railway company should own and work a fleet of motor wagons, logically there is no reason why they should not build them exactly in the same way as they build the locomotives and wagons which they use on the railways. Clearly this Clause also was put in with a view to stopping serious objection that might be made against this Bill. It has been suggested by the promoters of the Bill, who have given the House of Commons a good deal of literature on the subject during the last few weeks, that these powers are already possessed by some of the railways, and that therefore logically they must be possessed by all. These powers were granted to three railway companies practically before road traffic, as it exists at present, had taken possession of the road. In the very early days for some reason the Great Eastern Railway Company in 1904, the North Eastern Company in 1905, and the North Staffordshire in 1906 applied to Parliament, when they were promoting Bills on other subjects, for a Clause, which was passed practically sub silentio without objection on the part of the House, giving them powers to run road motor traffic. Those powers have been practically unused up to this time, though a certain amount has been done by the North Eastern Company. Apart from that, in the years 1906, 1911, and 1913, three other railway companies applied to this House to have the same powers granted to them, and those powers were refused by the House. So, as far as precedent is concerned, there are three precedents on on side giving powers to use these road vehicles, and three precedents on the other side, in later years when Parliament in its wisdom declined to give these powers That is the position up to last year when a Clause was inserted in one of the Railway Acts, but was ruled out of Order by you, as not being within the purview of the title of the Bill.
Now this North Western Group comes to Parliament and asks for powers to run these fleets of motor vehicles on the roads. The capital of this group, which is proposing under this Bill to take these powers, I believe is over £500,000,000 sterling. The railway companies during the last two years have been amalgamated into four huge groups, each with a very large section of capital, and assuming that the powers now asked for were given to other railway companies—because if this Bill is passed the other railway com- panies will ask for she same powers and there is no reason why they should not get them—then you will have these huge collections of capital controlled by companies which have been instituted under charter by Parliament for the purpose of running traffic on rails and carrying on the business of railway companies in the ordinary acception of the term, put at the disposal of a competing system of road transport, and it is impossible to imagine any ordinary capitalist who conducts motor transport on the road who could possibly stand up against a concern of such enormous capital as one of these railway groups. That is a very strong reason why this House, which is always jealous of the powers of great corporations being extended, should think not once or twice, but more than twice, before giving to the railway companies these great powers which must have the effect, if they are successful, of running the small men off the road.
The railway companies at present have full power to run road vehicles in connection with the railways. They can collect goods to be carried by rail, and they can deliver goods that have come by rail, by motor or other traction as much as they like. As I understand the present position of the law, there is no reason why a railway company should not extend the radius of collection or delivery to 20, 30, 50 or even a greater number of miles if it is desired. But what is proposed in this Bill is different. It is proposed to establish a service for the carriage of goods which have not gone and will never go on the railway at all, but which will be carried exclusively by a new system of road transport which will be in competition with existing road transport companies and with the railways themselves. The claim is made by the railway companies that they pay very large road rates and are therefore entitled to use the roads for this purpose. But I want the House to remember that all railway traffic, except a very small portion, goes over the road. Goods which come from the factories are taken by road to the railways and get on to the roads again and are delivered by road. I think that many people do not realise the enormous tonnage of goods carried by the railways which at some time or another, between collection and delivery, go over some or other of the roads of the country.
But it must be remembered that the railway companies do not pay quite the same rates as the other people of the country. In 1913 the railway companies paid 7.2 per cent. of the highway rates of the country. In 1920 they paid 6.3 per cent. Their rating, in proportion to that of the rest of the community, has gone down. While the increase in local rates payable by you and me and by other people in the country has gone up during the last seven or eight years by 110 per cent., the increase of rates paid by the railways has been only 95 per cent. Those figures I am open to justify if anyone challenges them. I believe they are correct for they were given in evidence not long ago. Why do the railway companies seek these powers? Is it not that, because of the way in which the railway companies are being conducted at the present moment and the high rates they are charging to the traders of the country, they cannot get the traffic and they are losing it to those who carry it more cheaply by road? The railway companies' rates have been raised twice since the War, once just after the Armistice and again last year. Evidence was given before the Railway Rates Commission as to the probable effect of diverting traffic from the railways to the road. Sir Francis Gore-Browne, the Chairman of the Railway Rates Commission, said:
This shows that the railway companies have to fear competition from road transport.
And he made this remarkable further statement:
It is a little consoling to us customers, because we feel that the competition which the road sets up will probably give us a very fine railway service shortly.
That is exactly what it is doing. In 1916 there were 600 road transport undertakings; to-day there are 3,000. They have a capital of over £100,000,000, though I believe there is no road transport undertaking with a capital of more than £1,500,000, which, of course, is very small compared with the huge aggregation of capital possessed by any one of the railway groups. There are 600,000 men employed in commercial road transport at the present time. Are the railway companies proposing to establish this competition with themselves in order to bring down railway rates, in order to make it better for the consumer and the manufacturer in this country, or are they
proposing to establish a road transport system with a view ultimately to knocking out the small man and having a monopoly of the trade. That is the question to be decided. Let me put before the House the actual rates now in operation. Here are a few:
An Amendment, I understand, is on the Paper in favour of the appointment of a Royal Commission. I have not the slightest objection to a Royal Commission examining the proposals of the railway companies. That would be a very reasonable arrangement. But it is only fair to tell the House that a rather strong Committee of the Ministry of Transport was set up last year by my right hon. Friend Sir Eric Geddes, and it took a large amount of evidence. There were a majority report and a minority report. The majority report was signed by Mr. Hughes, who represented the Association of British Chambers of Commerce; Mr. Currington, of the Federation of British Industries: Mr. Dutfield, of the National Alliance of Commercial Road Transport Associations; and Mr. Shrapnell-Smith, representing the Commercial Motor Users' Association. Those four men brought in a majority report against the railway proposals. It is true there was a minority report in favour of the railway companies' proposals. But who were the gentlemen who composed the minority report? Not members of the Association of Chambers of Commerce or of the Federation of British Industries, but two general managers and——
No; two of the majority were connected with motor associations and two of them were perfectly independent, one of them representing the Association of Chambers of Commerce. The Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Transport is present, and he will say whether those two gentlemen, Mr. Hughes and Mr. Currington, had anything to do with road transport, and he will tell us whether they were appointed at the request of the Minister of Transport by the two very representative bodies I have mentioned.
My hon. and gallant Friend is perfectly mistaken in that respect. One day last week there was a meeting upstairs of Members of Parliament. Over 500 were invited. I had the honour of presiding. A representative of the Federation of British Industries explained to that meeting that he was there at the request of the Council of the Federation, and represented that body, and he said that the Federation was entirely opposed to the powers proposed under this Bill. There is no doubt whatever about that. Many hon. Members
were present at the meeting. I will read two sentences from the two Reports of the Committee which examined the matter. I do not ask the House to say that the Majority Report was not biassed by two Members who signed it; I want to be perfectly fair. The Majority Report says:
The evidence which has been put before us by those connected with large federations of traders has been unanimously to the effect that if railway companies were given the powers they seek there would inevitably be immediate and unequal competition between them and the independent carriers by road, and that the result of that competition would, owing to the fact that railway companies are very powerful and rich corporations, be the extinction of the independent road transport.
More remarkable than that is paragraph 13 in the Report of the Minority—the Railway Report—by Mr. Balfour Browne, K. C, who was an eminent counsel and made a vast fortune mainly by acting for the companies—we all knew him quite well by his appearances in Committee upstairs—and two railway managers. These gentlemen, necessarily pro-railway, inserted this Clause:
If the railway companies were given general powers to carry goods by road, and were allowed a free hand to compete with ordinary carriers by road, that would, in our view, probably result, as many of the witnesses fear, in such unequal competition as would drive the independent carriers oil the road and bring about a railway monopoly.
That is the view of two railway managers. It is perfectly true—and I wish to be quite fair—that they go on to propose certain safeguards, as to the way in which the accounts shall be audited, whereby separate accounts are to be kept of the rail transport and of road transport. I suggest that it is almost impossible to differentiate between accounts in regard to rail transport and those in regard to road transport. How difficult it would be to get the exact cost of running a motor vehicle, and of seeing how much of the general charges were attributable to the road service and how much to the railway service.
I am certain it will be most difficult. There are terminal charges and standing charges and officials, and who is going to decide how much of these are attributable to each form of transport? Who is going to apportion the general manager's salary,
and to decide how much of it is attributable to the road, and how much to the rail? It would involve a most intricate system of accounts. There are, I believe, 8,000,000 separate railway rates at the present time. Is the unfortunate Rates Tribunal, which is now trying to settle these railway rates also to settle the road rates applying to an infinite number of towns, which will be a far more difficult matter than attempting to settle railway rates at the present time. I believe the railway companies are offering a suggestion that these rates should be fixed somewhat on the same lines as the railway rates, but that there should be power to vary these rates in exceptional instances, by a minimum of five per cent, and a maximum of 40 per cent. That means that any road rate run by a railway company may be altered in exceptional oases by an amount as high as 40 per cent. It means that railway companies running road transport who are up against active competition on the road, will be enabled, in order to get rid of that competition, to make an exceptional rate at any time they like for any particular job. They are doing it at the present-moment. I have here a statement presented to the Great Eastern Company by the United Automobile Service Company at Lowestoft. That company states in a letter dated 4th April, 1922, which they have forwarded to me:
Quite recently the Board of Fisheries at Lowestoft found that the rates charged for conveyance by road vehicles were lower than the railway rates. They therefore transferred their business to the road vehicles. Subsequently the railway company came in and quoted an exceptional rate which was better than ours. Their representative stated that the railway companies could look after their own interests, and were going to quote competitive rates against the road traffic.
They are now quoting competitive railway rates against roads in order to get traffic. I am not saying it is not legitimate—I am only pointing out that they do this in the green tree, and I am asking what will they do in the dry I What will they do when they get road transport? I give another instance. A Lowestoft firm of printers desired to send 3½ tons of paper to Norwich. The road company charged 40s. per ton, which was cheaper than the railway. The railway company at once came along and quoted 30s. 8d. I am not saying they were not right, but, again, it was an exceptional rate such as they are entitled to make. I can give another instance of a similar case, where a railway company said they were prepared to quote an exceptional rate until they had got it below the cost of the road transport. That is a position which, I submit to the House, is bound to recur. From their point of view they are justified in making exceptional rates, and an exceptional rate is one which gets behind the standard rate authorised by the Rates Tribunal. Under the proposals of this Bill, they are to have power to make exceptional rates at any time they like. Quite obviously, they will say to the customer, "Here is our road transport organisation. We will give you an exceptional rate, lower than anything you can get from the ordinary road hauler." That is all right, if hon. Members of this House are prepared to take the short view. Taking the short view, it is probable that there will be during the next few years keen competition on the road, and a lower rate for the carriage of goods. But the moment the railway companies, with their vast organisation, their huge aggregations of capital, have got the road hauler off the road, then the position of the manufacturer and the trader of this country will be much worse than it was before. [HON. MEMBERS: "The canals!"] I hear some hon. Member mentioning the canals. I will not take time to describe how the railway companies dealt with the canals.
We have got to consider the commerce of the country. It is not necessary to say that I have no interest, direct or indirect, in commercial road transport at all. In fact, if I have any interest in this matter it is that I am a shareholder in the London and North Western Railway Company, which is one of the promoters of the Bill. Therefore I am speaking and I am going to Vote against my own railway company. I ask the House to consider whether it is desirable to put these great powers into the hands of the rail- way companies or whether it is not desirable, in the interests of the traders and of the country, to keep the one and only competitive form of traffic there is to-day, against the crushing burden of the railway rates. Railway rates have gone up since the War by, I think, 110 per cent. The only possible means of getting them down and of getting easier transport for the commerce of the community, is by means of these road rates, which I have quoted. I suggest that it is essential in the interests of the trade and commerce of the country that we should keep the competitive form of transport, that the railways should be kept to their own, and that they should be encouraged, nay more, compelled to put their own house in order, improve their own systems, and bring their own rates down, and have legitimate competition with road travelling rather than what would be illegitimate competition forced along by their huge capital and huge organisations.
I beg to second the Amendment.
I ask the House to say it is inexpedient to grant the very wide powers sought in this Bill by this group of railway companies. We must realise that if these powers be sanctioned to-night, they must of necessity be extended to every railway company in turn. It is quite true that opposition to the Bill has been met to a certain extent by the powers originally sought for the conveyance of passenger traffic having been deleted. Nevertheless it is just as well to bear in mind the fact that some of the railways have not so withdrawn this claim. The Scottish companies still maintain that they should have, and are asking for, powers for the conveyance of both passenger and goods traffic. Certainly, if these powers be granted, we shall have Bills up in succeeding Sessions reminding us that having granted permission for the conveyance of merchandise it is illogical to refuse it in respect of general passenger traffic. I agree with my hon. Friend that we are entitled to apprehend that the railway companies here are seeking to establish a monopoly, and although they have offered a certain safeguard I believe that if we give these powers monopoly is inherent in the circumstances. With their enormous capital and with the powers that they possess, no safeguards can be I devised which will prevent railway com- panies, if they are so minded, from offering rates below the actual figure at which other companies could carry goods along the roads. I agree that that is immediately beneficial. I am aware of the two cases cited by my hon. Friend, because they occurred in the district in which I reside and relate to the constituency which I have the honour to represent, and it has been put to me that this is one illustration of the benefit that would be conferred upon the community were railways invested with the powers they are seeking, but the fact is that if they were allowed to operate along those lines, if they could quote rates less than the actual cost of carriage along the roads, they must drive every competitor oft the roads and thereby secure a monopoly, and I do not know, having regard to railway history, whether we are entitled to place the interests of trade and of commerce entirely in their hands when they have secured a monopoly.
I object to this Bill too because it does not set forth in any way the sort of vehicle that will be utilised, the weights that are to be carried, or the roads that are to be used, and for my part I feel that the roads of the country are already too congested, and I am not concerned to divert more heavy traffic upon them. Here the railway companies will have every inducement to divert traffic to the roads because, as my hon. Friend pointed out, the general public have to pay the major cost of keeping up these roads, and I feel that the railway companies ought, as a result of the decision of this House, to be induced to concentrate their resources and their enterprise on the development of their legitimate business, which is the carriage of passengers and goods along steel rails. Those are the powers conferred upon them by Parliament, and I believe it is their proper function. I have not been a very keen critic of the railways, because of the fact that, whilst at the Board of Trade. I saw the marvels they were able to effect during the War. I believe they rose to the emergency with remarkable credit, and therefore I have never been a mere captious critic of the railways. I believe that they have performed their work very well, but there is enormous room for improvement, and if they were to respond to the request that is now being made and reduce their rates, I believe they would find that they would be able to attract back a good deal of the traffic that has presently got on to the roads. A great point is made that they are losing much traffic, but I am reminded that in the year 1920, up to the 30th September, prior to the great depression in trade setting in, they were able to boast of a record haulage, and I am not, therefore, convinced that they are losing much traffic simply by the competition of road services. I am sure that, with their enormous resources, they could attract back a good deal of that traffic if they were to concentrate on improving the services, reducing the rates, and extending facilities to the community.
It may have been observed that I have an Amendment on the Paper. As I said this afternoon, I have seen so much from the inside that I am less inclined than ever to dogmatise upon any case, and I am not even prepared to-night to say that at no time and under no circumstances should the railways have access to the roads, but I am convinced that under present conditions this House ought not to give the railways the powers they are asking for to-night. The roads of the country are not adapted to the heavy traffic which would be placed upon them if the railways got these powers to-night. As the hon. Member who represents the Ministry of Transport told us the other day, of the 177,300 miles of roads in Great Britain, only 22,000 miles are classified as first-class roads, and it is only those roads that are so constructed as to carry the heavy traffic which would be put upon them by the railway companies. To-night, whilst taking up that position, I want to offer a few observations in support of a thorough and comprehensive survey of the whole problem of road and rail transport. That is to say, I would prefer, rather than that we should have to deal with the subject in the form of a private Bill, that we should first of all have the guidance of a thoroughly representative Commission, which would go fully into the whole case, not from the point of view of the railways, or even of the commercial interests, but from the point of view of the general public well-being.
My hon. Friend has alluded to the fact that the subject has recently been inquired into. There it is. It occurred very much as we might have expected. In the Minority Report two railway representatives reported in favour of the railway companies having the powers they are now seeking, and they, of course, told us that safeguards could be devised. They recognised that safeguards were necessary, but we know that in dealing with these big corporations it is extremely difficult to safeguard public interests. Then we got four members issuing the Majority Report. I do not know whether two or more were biased—I am not concerned with that—but the result was very much what we anticipated. Then, in respect of the Labour representative, he took the line that the whole subject ought to be dealt with from the public point of view. We knew his position, and we know that he prefers these services should be socialised. For my own part, I think there, is a good deal of logic and justification in that attitude. If the result must be, as I conceive, the creation of a huge transport monopoly in the country, then, in my opinion, the country is perfectly entitled to see that it is in a thorough position to control it.
I want to make one or two observations from the point of view of the local authorities. I know an hon. and learned Friend intends to deal with it from that point of view, but I am requested by the Municipal Tramways Corporation to make one or two points on their behalf. The tramways of the country are subjected to very heavy charges for the maintenance of roads. Under the Road Boards a tramway authority is not regarded as a road authority and receives none of the grants, although the purpose of the grants is to assist in the cost of maintaining the roads, but I am advised that the tramway authorities are suffering very severely because of the increased charges imposed upon them through the effect of heavy vehicular traffic over their surfaces.
I attended a conference at Salford in September last, and there the manager of a municipal tramway service made this statement, that it cost them, on the average, £505 per car for the maintenance of their route. In another case the sum was stated to be £525. I think these authorities are perfectly entitled to ask that Parliament, before allowing additional heavy traffic upon the road which will in all probability add to the burdens which are already so oppressive upon them, should make the subject one of thorough inquiry with a view to adjusting the burden so that those who cause the greatest damage to the road should be those who have to bear the heaviest burden. After all, we know there is much lamentation about the way in which local rates have risen. My hon. Friend who represents the Ministry of Transport, told us the other day that the amount of licence duty collected during the past year was about £8,500,000.
Well, £11,000,000. At the same time, I think he informed us that £50,000,000 was spent in the same period on the maintenance of the roads of the country. Whether it be £11,000,000 or not, it means that the ratepayers of the country are thereby carrying an enormous burden, and I respectfully submit that we should run no risk of adding to that burden until we have been able to devise means whereby it is placed upon the shoulders of those who ought to bear it. My hon. Friend who keeps intervening has now interpolated that the railway companies are the largest ratepayers in the country. That may be so, but, at the same time, as my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham pointed out, they also reap some of the larger benefits. He could not have heard the speech of my hon. and learned Friend, who pointed out that a greater part of the merchandise that is carried by railways has, first of all, to be carried to the stations over roads, and subsequently, of course, over other roads to its destination. But I am informed—and I would not have used this point but for the interruption—that when the Public Health Act of 1375 was passed, the railways companies' position was that they made little use of the roads, and for that reason were specially exempted from 75 per cent, of the total amount of the general district rate, which includes the cost of road maintenance. Therefore, I do submit that a case has been made out for a further consideration of the matter.
Let me give one further illustration, and then I will resume my seat. I had my attention directed the other day to what has occurred in the Manchester and Liverpool district. This district is served by three railways, and, of course, by the Ship Canal. In 1913, only 15 mechanically propelled vehicles passed along the road from Manchester to Liverpool, but last year, 1921, 2,500,000 tons of merchandise was carried over that road. The point I want to make clear is this. The ratepayers in that district are now carrying a charge in this year of £10,000 per mile in the reconstruction and maintenance of the roads over which this heavy traffic passes. I want to repeat, even at the risk of being charged with repetition, that you will observe in my Amendment I do not say that at no time, and under no circumstances, should railways have access to the roads, but I do say that before such powers are conferred, a thorough inquiry ought to be instituted, and that conditions should be laid down by Statute, as in the case of tramways, railways and other companies—conditions which will really safeguard all the interests affected by such a Bill as this.
I realise that. I have seconded the Motion for the rejection in order that I might get my chance. I wish the Amendment brought before the House if any means can be devised. It has been represented to me daring the afternoon and evening that there are a number of Members who would prefer to vote for that Amendment, rather than the direct Motion for the rejection, but, of course, my hon. Friend does not like that, and I shall have to leave the House to decide whether that can be arranged. I, of course, simply comply with the ordinary rules of the House. But to complete my point. Until a general Statute has been enacted, thoroughly protecting all the interests concerned, I respectfully submit to this House that a Second Reading ought not to be given to a Bill of this character.
I am sure the House will sympathise with me in following the two eloquent, argumentative speeches which have been delivered by my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich (Mr. G. Roberts). Listening to those speeches, the House will have felt that there is no case for this Bill. I hope to show, before I sit down, that there is a case for the Bill, and that the safeguards which the railway companies have offered to provide amply take care of the interests of the public, when this Bill becomes law. Only late this afternoon did I know that I should have to undertake this speech in support of the Bill My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Durham (Major Hills), who is unfortunately unwell, was to have spoken in support of the Bill, and he, as an experienced Parliamentary hand, would naturally have done much fuller justice to this big project than I can possibly do. This Bill, I hope, will be regarded by the House from the point of view of the national interest, from the point of view of the benefits which will be conferred upon the public at large, and not be biased by any consideration involving sectional or limited interests at the instance of any part of the community. I have had a great deal to do in the last four or five years with industrial questions, and I assure the House that under no circumstances would I be a party to supporting this Bill if I were not satisfied that the Bill would materially contribute to the promotion of industrial interests, rather than, as suggested by my hon. and right hon. Friends, retard it.
I should like to point out at the outset that the legal position of the railways in this country and the organisation of road traffic transport has been very vague up to the present time, as has been already indicated by my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks). This Bill aims at definitely settling once and for all the relationship between the railway companies and road transport. I admit at once the contention of my hon. Friend that if these powers are given to the promoters of the present Bill they must necessarily be extended, in time, to all the other great routes in the kingdom. I believe the extension of these powers to these groups, instead of operating against the interests of the traders, will be entirely to the advantage of the traders. My hon. Friend said that only in a certain few instances were powers to operate road motor vehicles conferred upon railway companies. I find that no less than nine railway companies have from time to time, in various-provisions of their Acts received these powers. Parliament, which has devolved upon the railway companies of this country, by the Act of last year, certain definite obligations, must not now be a party, having given the power to one group to operate road motor traffic, deny these powers to the other groups which now ask for it.
Take, for example, the position of the Great Eastern Railway. The Great Eastern Railway Company secured these powers by Section 41 of the Act of 1904. The Great Eastern Railway becomes now the biggest part of the Great Northern group, and as a component part of that group its powers are extended to the other component parts. Is Parliament, therefore, to be a party to giving these powers to the Great Eastern and the other component railways in the Great Northern group, and denying them to the North Western and Midland and other groups? The promoters of this Bill have, since the Measure was first considered here, made substantial modifications in its original provisions. First of all, they have decided not to carry passengers. I think that ought to meet the objections which have been lodged and urged against the Measure by the municipal corporations and the promoters of tramway undertakings. I should like to say, with reference to the observation which fell from my right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich (Mr. Roberts), that the Western Scottish group, in the Bill it is promoting, and which will come before this House, have decided to drop their scheme for carrying passenger traffic; I hope that fact will be remembered by the House, and also that the railway companies have further agreed not to manufacture their own road vehicles. When this matter was first considered by certain of the groups of industrial leaders of private enterprise with whom I am identified that was one of the serious obstacles offered to the acceptance of the Bill. On the situation being represented to the promoters of the Bill they agreed to allow the private enterprise to operate for the railways in the construction of the motor vehicles—that that should be continued without interference.
It has been said that the railways have been endowed by Parliament with powers for the purpose only of carriage by rail. My right hon. Friend in his beautiful peroration pointed out the conveyance of traffic on steel rails; but why should the railway company, in these days of perfection, be limited to the conveyance of traffic on the steel rails. If by extending its traffic operations outside it contributes substantially to the material and economic progress of the community? It is an extraordinary position to take up here at this period of the 20th century to say that a railway corporation, discharging essential services to the community, is to be limited by—if I may respectfully say so—the prejudices of private enterprises outside. I am very sorry my hon. Friend submitted to the House a proposition of this kind, because no right hon. or hon. Member of this House is, I am sure, so anxious to promote expansion in every way in the economic progress of the country. You want to limit a railway company—and it is so easy in this House and outside to work prejudice against a railway company—you want, I say, to limit the railway company to the mere function of conveying traffic over their own steel rails. It is suggested that there ought to be a Royal Commission to inquire into the whole scheme of rail transport and road transport and submit proposals to the House. There have been many commissions dealing with transport problems in this country. I do not see how that proposal can be seriously commended to the consideration of Parliament in view of the fact that all legislation affecting railways for years has been by means of private Bills, and that we are now seeking by a similar process to secure to this North Western and Midland group powers already conferred by previous private Bills by this House.
I find myself reluctantly in opposition this evening to my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks), for we are very old friends outside this House. I have the greatest personal regard for him, for I am indebted to him for many kindnesses both inside and outside the House. I therefore feel my position more keenly in being in opposition to him. But his contention is that there is not a sufficient safeguard. He accepts the temporary quality of the safeguard, but says the safeguard suggested in relation to the measure is not of that permanent character which his economic sense will allow him to accept as a sound common-sense policy. Let me point out that in Clause 6 of the Bill it is provided:
Subject to the provisions of this Act a company may demand and take such reasonable rates and charges as they think fit in
respect of traffic conveyed under the powers of this Act. The provisions of Part 111 of the Railways Act, 1921, shall, so far as applicable, apply to such rates and charges, and the provisions of the Railway and Canal Traffic Acts, 1854 to 1894, as to affording all reasonable facilities and as to undue preference shall apply to such traffic.
In regard to the operation of the Act in relation to the provisions of the Railways Act of last year, the promoters of the Bill are making the first step forward in safeguarding the interests of the public. The Bill also proposes in bringing this road traffic under the operation of the Railway and Canal Traffic Act to allow the Railway Commission to determine in all cases whether there are reasonable facilities provided or whether any undue preference is offered. In Clause 7 of the Ball this provision is laid down:
The Company shall provide in their form of accounts furnished under the Railway Companies (Accounts and Returns) Act, 1911, an abstract of revenue and expenditure in respect of traffic conveyed under the powers of this Act.
This group of companies is prepared to embody in the Schedule to the Bill safeguards on these lines, and it provides that the revenue, the expenditure and the capital invested in relation to road transport must be kept apart from the accounts relating to transport on the rails. More than that, the promoters are willing to insert a Clause in the Bill providing that the standard charges for the conveyance of the same class of goods by rail and by road shall be the same. The hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) has quoted differential charges by rail, but it is now proposed, subject to the right of the Railways Act of last year, to grant exceptional rates not less than 5 per cent, nor more than 40 per cent, below standard charges, all such rates to be reviewed by the Rates Tribunal if the Minister of Transport thinks they are likely to prejudice any class of users or prejudice the standard revenue which the railway companies earn. With these provisions I think the interests of the public will be amply protected.
In order to thoroughly safeguard the interests of the public we give a further concession. We are prepared to accept a provision to enable the Railway Commissioners to require a discontinuance of road transport services under the Bill if it is not in the public interest. Every possible protection is to be inserted in the Bill with the full concurrence of the promoters in Committee upstairs. My hon. Friend has spoken about £500,000,000 of capital and the dominant influence to be exercised on the roads by these corporations as soon as they have wiped out of existence the smaller undertakings. I would like to point out that it is not at all outside the bounds of possibility that great road monopolies may be created entirely apart from the railway companies, and I would like to suggest to my hon. Friend and to the House that the best possible course this House can take to safeguard the traders of the country and the carrying public is to take care that there is a monopoly which is conducted and controlled by the State with every provision made by this House, because that is preferable to a monopoly which has no statutory control of any kind. I would like to point out that under these provisions the railway group is not in the least degree interfering with the small private road transport undertakings, because, subject to the approval of the Rates Tribunal, separate accounts are to be kept and every device is inserted to safeguard the public. The private undertaker can go on the road as he pleases and charge such rates as he pleases and undercut the railways as much as he likes.
In the opposition to this Measure at the instance of municipalities, the question has been raised that the railway companies should pay a substantial part of the cost of maintaining the roads. Who is to measure and decide what provision can be inserted to determine the proportion which a railway company ought to pay? It is impossible to devise any satisfactory or workable provision of that kind. It has been admitted by my right hon. Friend that the railway companies do contribute substantially towards the upkeep of the roads of this country. Last year over £2,000,000 out of the £10,000,000 contributed by railway companies, in the shape of rates, was paid for road mending. If you ask the railway companies to pay £10,000,000 in rates, including £2,000,000 for the maintenance of the roads, it is an untenable position to say that those corporations have no right to take part in the organisation of motor transport in connection with their own undertakings.
My hon. Friend paid a tribute to the magnificent work which the railway companies, from their chairmen and general managers down to the humblest railway servant, performed during the War. Every member of the community acknowledges the enormous usefulness of the highly developed transport system which was organised on the railway in regard to mobilisation and the transport of supplies and munitions during the War. The past history of the railways gives ample reasons for the House conferring these powers upon this railway group to organise transport, in order to bring to their own railways a larger volume of traffic which will enable them to reduce railway rates by the reduction of their own overhead charges. The reduction of the railway rates ought to be the prime consideration of the railway companies, but unless they get more traffic to carry they cannot reduce their rates, and it is only by facilitating a great scheme of this kind, which will widen the area of their operations for the receipt and delivery of goods, that you can help the railway companies to achieve that much desired object. It has been urged, though the matter has not been referred to by my hon. Friend, that a national danger arising out of this proposal is an alliance between railway workers and transport workers to defeat the public interest at a time of national crisis. The relationship at present between those two organisations is sufficiently strong to operate effectively if they wanted to do so at any time in the future. I have no fear whatever myself, in view of the patriotic position railway servants took up during the War and, above all, in view of the peaceful attitude which railway servants have now taken up with regard to the present economic position of the country, that any exigency of that kind will arise.
Then the story of the canals is constantly quoted. I do not think the House ought to attach much importance to the story of the canals. The same arguments were urged to-day as were urged in the 'thirties and 'forties to prevent the construction of railways because they were injuring the canals. This Measure, although it has been represented as being supported by representative Chambers of Commerce, has a very large number opposed to it. Included in the number are Manchester, Coventry, Widnes, Bury, Newport, Northampton, Oldham, Bradford, and Leeds. Although in my political speeches I am never particularly fond of quoting Manchester as an example of profound economic policy—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I am glad to be able to urge that on the consideration of the House in support of this Bill. I believe this Measure is one of great national importance, and if only the House understood the carefully-considered provisions which are being inserted in it to safeguard the public, they would, almost without a vote, send this Bill to a Committee, where all its pros and cons could be carefully examined, and from which we hope it will emerge as a Measure calculated to do immense good in the constructive work of re-organising the transport system of the country.
I think the House will be unanimous in one thing, namely, that it would be extremely difficult to find a private Bill which raises greater issues of national importance than the Bill under consideration now. It does, in fact, raise the whole question of the relationship of railways to the traffic of this country, other than that which is strictly confined to traffic upon railways. I would remind the House that this application, coupled with the Bill of the Scottish companies, would empower the whole of the railway companies who will form the Western group to run road traffic for goods without restriction of area from the North of Scotland to the Thames. The only company within that group which at present possesses those powers is the North Staffordshire Company, but if you compare them with the group which will be their competitors, namely, the Eastern group, those powers are already possessed by the Great Northern of Scotland, by the North Eastern and by the Great Eastern. They are not exactly the same powers, because they vary in private Acts that were obtained, but powers analogous to these are possessed by those companies. The companies which have not those powers in that group would be the North British and the Great Northern, but I think it is reasonably clear that, with extended powers in the Great Northern of Scotland, the North Eastern and the Great Eastern, they would be able substantially to run road services over the whole area covered by the group. I further agree that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for Parliament to refuse these powers to any other companies who sought them if permission is given for this Bill to become law. Up till 1906 it seems to have been the policy of Parliament to grant these powers. Since 1906 three private Bills have been promoted by companies which have either been defeated or withdrawn in face of opposition.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich (Mr. G. Roberts) had upon the Order Paper an Amendment which he has not moved, suggesting a comprehensive inquiry into the master. I would submit to him that the passing of the Second Reading of this Bill would afford an opportunity before a Select Committee of this House for a full inquiry into the matter, if, indeed, it has not already been sufficiently inquired into. There was a Committee to which reference has been made, presided over by that distinguished and great lawyer, the late Mr. Balfour Browne, which does really give guidance to the House upon this question. It has been suggested—I am sure not unkindly to the memory of one of our most distinguished lawyers—that he was in some sense biased, unconsciously no doubt, towards railways, but I would like to say in answer to that that Mr. Balfour Browne's name for service upon this Committee was selected by Sir Eric Geddes from the panel upon which he had been placed as the nominee of the Federation of British Industries. The Committee, I hope and believe, although it was well representative of the interests concerned, applied its mind, as I am sure the Chairman did, impartially to the consideration of the topic, and if Members really weighed the divergent reports they would see that the divergence is more apparent than real. The Chairman with two general managers of railways expressed the view in favour of these powers being given to railway companies subject—and I quote their words—to various restrictions and conditions. The four Members who signed the Majority Report, who included two distinguished representatives of the motoring industry, came to the conclusion that it was impossible to find conditions and restrictions which would prevent certain evils arising. Therefore, the issue between the two branches of the Committee seems to me to turn upon this question and this question only: Aye or no, is it possible to find some machinery whereby evils may be prevented if these powers are granted? The remaining member of the Committee besides my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas), who, amidst his very many occupations, was not able to attend the meetings, and therefore did not sign the Report, was Mr. Ben Smith, of the United Vehicle Workers, who expressed a view in favour of the nationalisation of all transport agencies, but also shared the doubt whether it was possible so to safeguard these powers as to make them short of a monopoly.
What is the case put by the railway companies? They say they are losing traffic to the roads, and they mention a figure of 6,000,000 tons as having been lost in the year 1921. I would not advise the House to attach too much importance to that figure from any point of view. In the first place it represents a very small fraction of the 320,000,000 tons which was something like the total volume of traffic carried by the railways during that year, and in the second place there is no doubt that the high railway rates which prevailed during 1921 had the natural tendency of driving traffic to a competitive form of transport and of producing the results mentioned by my hon. Friend in moving the rejection of this Bill, namely, that the road transport agencies were able to carry at a substantially less sum than the railway charges of the day. The railway companies further say that they are in an anomalous position, as some companies already have these powers and some have not. A legal question arises as to whether, when the groups are complete, powers which are inherent in some member of the group will become common to the whole body, whether they will be in the position of having the powers within a limited area of their domain and in another area not having them, or whether they will be in the position of the Eastern and Western Groups that, one, having so much larger an area than the other, would be able practically to cover the country with this traffic while the other would be restrained from doing so. They further point out the convenience to customers. There is no doubt that road transport has a definite advantage over railway traffic. It is door-to- door traffic, it limits the opportunities for pilfering, it limits the handling of the goods in loading and unloading. The railway companies further say that if they had this alternative mode of carrying their traffic, it would afford them an opportunity of relieving the congestion during periods of high pressure owing to good trade and that they make a substantial contribution to the rates.
What are the objections which are taken? It is said that these powerful organisations with large capital, and with means of organisation which have sprung up under Statute for certain definite purposes, are seeking to extend their operations outside the ambit of the powers which Parliament intended them to have, and the effect will be to cripple, if not to kill, the existing road transport organisations which have sprung up in recent times as useful and convenient competitors of the railways. It is said that possibly the larger road transport companies might combine with the railway companies, but that the smaller ones might be squeezed out. It is pointed out that, taking the short and narrow view, you might get an immediate competition with advantageous rates, but that, after a longer period, you would have established monopolistic conditions disastrous to trade. It is said also that the road transport industry is a young industry growing rapidly and with a great future before it, and that you would discourage the progress of that industry if you admitted the railway companies into competition. Then it is said by the road authorities that the railway companies do not pay enough for the upkeep of the roads and that they will be putting an unfair charge on the rates. There was a suggestion in the Report, which has not found utterance in the speeches made to-day, and I am glad of that, that if you permit this monopoly to grow up or if you give the railway companies these powers then you must watch very closely my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas), because he will get all the labour people into his hands, and then woe betide the country. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby does not appear to me to be such a terrifying character as that, and I can therefore dismiss it in these few words.
How do the companies say that they can meet these objections? I think every Member of this House will agree that the companies at least have made a bonâ fide attempt at meeting the objections which are taken. They say, "We can protect you against improper charges by applying the machinery of the Railways Act, 1921." I am not sure that they can. Part III of the Railways Act may make it possible to apply modifications to road transport, but I desire to reserve my absolute independence of judgment on that point. Just consider for a moment what Part III of the Railways Act is. It is a scheme for setting up standard charges for railway traffic between fixed points over a determined route and having some relationship to the cost of carrying that traffic by vehicles upon rails. It may be a totally improper standard to apply to the carriage of goods between undefined points over undefined routes and at a totally different cost, namely, the cost of carding goods by mechanically propelled vehicles on the roads as compared with steam-hauled traffic on the railways. They say, too, that they desire that the Railway Rates Tribunal should apply the standard charges, That would imply that no standard charge could be fixed until the Railway Rates Tribunal had finished its duty of fixing standard rates for railway traffic, and that could not take place until the end or thereabouts of next year. I would further point out that the-standard charge for conveyance as suggested by the railways is totally different from the railway cost of conveyance. The railway cost of conveyance includes other services—terminal charges, loading and unloading, covering and uncovering.
Therefore it seems to me that the railway companies, if this Bill receives a Second Reading, will have to consider very carefully, in presenting their case to a Committee of this House, how and in what way they can best apply Part III to this particular problem, upon which, as I have said, I desire to reserve complete independence of judgment. They say, further, that they would be willing to submit themselves to the Railway and Canal Commission upon the matters of undue preference and facilities. As to facilities, I think it would be extremely difficult to say what were appropriate facilities, because the road traffic is not a definite and settled service. It would be a more or less haphazard service, according to the requirements of their customers. As to undue preference, many questions would arise as to whether undue preference between the railway customer and the road customer occurred. The question of exceptional charges has to be met, and there, for railways, Part III does include a Clause which gives them a right to continue existing exceptional charges, and, subject to safeguards, to make new ones; but I am rather disposed to think that every charge for road traffic would, in the first instance, be an exceptional charge, and the variation between the standard charge when fixed, and the exceptional charge, might be as much as 40 per cent., and might establish a competitive rate which would put their competitors out of the market.
In these circumstances, what is the position? From the point of view of the Ministry of Transport, there can be no doubt of one thing, and I feel sure that in this I shall have the support of the whole House. We want, in these days, every encouragement to every form of transport which shall be efficient, which shall be economical, which shall be permanent, and which shall not be destructive of other forms of traffic in the long run, and shall not set up evils which would be worse than the present conditions. Amidst all these difficulties—and the problem is by no means easy; the solution of it is not obvious—I respectfully suggest to the House that it might be well advised to say that this is a private Bill—and the general practice of the House is to give a Second Reading to a private Bill, unless there be paramount considerations of public policy to the contrary—and to allow these matters to receive the fullest and most complete and searching inquiry by a Committee of the House. It might well be that upon a Motion for a Third Reading of this Bill, the House might still think that it was wise to reject it. It would be wise to reject it, in my opinion, so far as the House cares to have it, unless the dangers of monopoly, the dangers of crushing out of other forms of transport, are adequately guarded against; but, if those have been protected, then, in the interests of transport and competition, I would suggest that the Bill might well become operative.
I think I should rise now and speak for the proposers of this Bill, and say that, as far as is possible for a director of one of these companies to give a personal guarantee, we are going to abide by the concessions that we are making, and that we are trying honestly to meet the difficulties of the situation. As far as I can, I want to give the assurance that I, for one, feel that it is important that we should get these powers, not so much in the interest of the companies as in the interest of the community. I am glad to think that Southend, which I represent, is served by a railway company which has these powers and if, therefore, they are of any use, the community of Southend will get them anyway. It seems very unfortunate that a group of companies that may be competing with them shall not have those powers, but I cannot help that; it is better for my constituency that they should have one than none. As for these powers, the hon. Baronet who moved this rejection seemed to imply that the Great Eastern Railway Company were really the anathema of all railway companies.
At any rate, I thought that that was what the hon. Baronet meant. If I mistook his over-eloquence, I must be excused. They, at any rate, are the one held out as cutting the rate on motor transport at this moment. I can only say that, although the Great Eastern Railway Company have had these powers, apparently, for a considerable time, they have not succeeded in cutting out the small motor carriers from Southend, because I have had a number of letters from them, though I am not sure whether those letters are written in the interests of the community as a whole, or merely in the interests of their own trade. I believe a great deal of imagination has been expended on this private Bill. I think hon. Members have imagined a great many evil things that will come out of it, and I do not think they have used all the brain-power they have, because I cannot conceive that a railway company, with millions invested in its permanent way, is likely to try to transfer any large quantity of its traffic to the roads. Therefore, I appeal to the common sense of those who are listening to me to think whether they are not really saving in giving these powers. We want to use them for certain definite purposes. We want to use them when the line is congested tem- porarily, while we are putting in a new line, increasing our railway facilities, increasing our actual permanent way accommodation. It would not pay us, in the long run, to try to take away from the cheap form of haulage great masses of goods carried by one or two men, and put them into a large number of vehicles each with a man or two men. It is not reasonable. We want to use these powers to develop new districts, and, surely, that is a thing that should appeal to those who wish for the good of the community while we are developing our trade. The railway company, without these powers, cannot develop a district without putting an enormous amount of capital, which is hard enough to come by, even for the community, in these days, into permanent way and the rolling stock upon it, whereas they can see whether there is anything in the trade by having these powers and using motor transport to see whether they can develop a district. Secondly, we are not able temporarily to relieve the congestion on our line. We must, as I understand, take goods, as they are sent to one of our receiving offices, by van to the railway, and from the railway, at the other terminal, take them by van and deliver them or leave them to be called for. It seems to me that in the interests of the community, if the distance is reasonable, we should be able to relieve ourselves of the transhipment of goods between van and rail on two occasions, and should be able to send them the whole way from door to door. It seems to me that that would be only in the interests of the community, because, if we were to do it on any large scale, we should be competing with the traffic on our line. I think the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken referred to the high rates that are now charged on the railways.
As a railway director, I am told that we may not lower those rates, that they were fixed by the Government, and that we may only lower them when the Rates Tribunal has considered them. That is not what we want this Bill for. We are going to lower them as soon as we can: but we must have this Bill for the two relatively small and practical advantages we see in it. I do not want to diminish their importance; but I want to give a personal guarantee that we are going to play the game and play it fairly. I hope the Committee will be able to devise proper safeguards so that we need not depend upon the personal guarantee alone. The hon. Gentleman who opened the case for the railway companies has described the measures that we are proposing to meet the opposition, and I can assure the House that we are doing our best in that respect, and as far as we can we intend to stand by it.
I will speak briefly, because I know many Members desire to take part in the Debate. I want to direct the attention of the House to one or two considerations not yet touched upon. The House is grateful to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport for the judicial and impartial statement of the objects of this Measure which he has presented to the House. But I should like the Government to give us something more. I hope the House will be left with perfect freedom to take part in the Division. If this freedom be given the Bill will not reach the Committee stage. The Bill is incapable of being made a useful instrument of national transport service. It is a symptom of a very dangerous tendency which this House would do well to resist. It is not only an expression of the inevitable tendency towards that monopoly which a long period of competition always creates, it is an expression of what I am entitled to describe as up to date political and industrial syndicalism. It seeks to establish a rail and road monopoly for the transport of goods. It would be dangerous for the community to grant any extension of the existing statutory powers vested in the railway companies. The promoters of the Bill are rather mixed. We see the lion and the lamb lying down together. I do not say which is the lion or which is the lamb. Subsequent events may prove which is which. But I do call upon the House to consider the analogous picture of what may arise if the principle embodied in this Bill is to receive legislative sanction all round. There are Members who represent the Miners' Federation of Great Britain. What reception would the House give to a proposal introduced by those Members for statutory powers to be given to coal owners, not only to give them a monopoly for the production of coal, but for the transport and for the complete control of the retail and wholesale distribution of coal. I am certain a proposal of that kind would be recognised as an iniquity, and be voted down.
Yes, railway companies can do now all that is necessary, and all that is safe for the community to allow them to do. The principle of this Bill is to vest them with the same powers with regard to road transport as they now exercise on rails. In order to decide whether it is advisable to grant these powers to the railway companies, I would like the House to consider how, up to this moment, the railway companies have used the statutory powers they are now able to exercise. They come to this House, pleading that the service of the community and the public good is their sole consideration. On their own confession, they can easily be convicted of quite another object. In one of the Memoranda circulated among Members in support of this Measure there is the confession that in 1921 6,000,000 tons of goods, formerly carried on rail, have been transferred to the road services, and the promoters of the Bill ask for powers to enable them to recover that lost traffic. We are up against no mere temporary problem. The issue is between an obsolete method of transport and a new, more efficient, and more economical method of road transport. If railway companies obtain these statutory powers, they would inevitably exercise them just as prejudicially to the interests of the community as they have exercised the powers they now possess. Take the manner in which they are now using their statutory powers. Railway rates are 120 per cent, above the pre-War level. [An HON. MEMBEE: "What about wages?"] Wages are not 120 per cent, above pre-War level. If they are, they are not too high, if you consider the starvation pre-War level. At any rate, they stand at no higher level than that of any other public service that can be mentioned. In regard to the general attitude of the Railway Companies to public services of another character, I need only remind the House that this day the railway companies gave evidence of their real attitude towards the principle of competition which they seek to promote in this Measure. The Corporation of Birmingham is seeking at this moment to promote a Bill to enable it to control its public weigh bridges. What attitude are the railway companies adopting towards that Measure? Their attitude is a bitter, hostility. In the East End of London corporations are seeking to extend their tramway services, and to link up and unify those services, and the railway companies adopt an attitude of bitter hostility towards that desire. Wherever the railway companies can stifle competition in their monopoly interests they do so. I beg humbly to submit on behalf of those I represent in this House, and I hope on behalf of the majority of the party I am connected with, that this Bill will not receive a Second Reading, but that the whole matter of the transport services will, on an early date, receive the attention of the Government, so that national transport will be taken up as a Government responsibility, and discussed freely, as it should be in this House.
I only want to take exception to one statement of my hon. Friend, and I want to make it perfectly clear to the House that, unintentionally, he has left a wrong impression in the House. Every party, as I understand it in this House, including the Government as a party, are perfectly free to approach this question apart from any party ties. That is exactly the position of the Labour party. The Division Lobby will test the relative merits of our party, but I only desire to say quite clearly that anything I say on the matter and anything my hon. Friend says on the matter cannot be taken as representing the party, because the party is free to consider the case on its merits. I am not sure whether my hon. Friend intends the railway directors to be the lion and me the lamb, or vice versa, but at all events I am going to state the case, because it is much better on a Second Reading Debate to meet what many people fear. While very little has been said in the House to-night about the relationship, as my hon. Friend calls it, the unholy alliance, between the railway companies and the railway trade unions, I am at least going to face the facts. In approaching this question, let the House consider that there are only two ways by which capital and labour can work together. There is the policy which says, "Get everything you can out of the employer, but do as little for him as you can, because he is your natural enemy and he must be opposed. Do all you can to make it impossible for him to carry on his industry." There is the other policy which says, "We want to get the maximum reward for our labour. We want good wages and short hours. We want to be able to have a decent existence, but we can only do that by at least recognising that in return for demanding the best we have to give the best." My hon. Friend has challenged that very issue because we cannot have it both ways. When railway companies and railway men are both satisfied that it is in their best interest to take a certain course, if you are immediately to raise the cry that that is an unholy alliance between capital and labour, then the only alternative is saying to the men, "Oppose your employer, no matter what the merits of the case may be."
The railwaymen in this matter should consider the question in this spirit, first, is it to our interest as railway men that these powers should be conceded, but even if it is not to our interest as railway-men will it be against the best interests of the travelling public? If it is against the interests of railwaymen and of the travelling public then it should be opposed. If, on the other hand, it is in the interests of the railwaymen and of the travelling public as well, then certainly there should be no objection to the railway companies and the railwaymen joining together and asking this House to give a Second Reading to the Bill. I want to meet quite fairly the other point that has been raised. If these men come together in one union, and if the object of the railwaymen is only to get these men into the union in order to promote a strike, well it is very significant, as my hon. Friend has indicated, that there are very strong divisions in our party as to the advantages of that. The answer I give is this. No one can give any guarantee in this House against strikes. He would be a foolish person and a foolish Labour leader who would attempt to do so, and the House of Commons would be sufficiently alive either to the imbecility of the individual who gave such advice or to one who would attach importance to him for giving it. I believe the relationship that exists in the railway world to-day is not only better than ever existed before, but every general manager in this country, without exception, will tell you that the efficiency in the railway services is greater than it was before. The relationship being better, there is more anxiety to play the game, and do the right thing. That in itself must tend to the advantage of all concerned, but I want to submit that there is one thing that influences this House in connection with this Bill, and that is what is called the doctrine of monopoly, the feeling that here is a huge corporation seeking powers that are not only dangerous in themselves, but which will create a monopoly, which it is the clear intention of the promoters to establish.
I want to say a word from the point of view of the working men in the broadest sense. It is admitted that 6,000,000 tons of traffic were taken from the railway companies last year and run by the roads. The Parliamentary Secretary tried to approach that by saying that that must not be made a final basis. I would remind him that the figures at the disposal of his Department show that not only is that what we call the cream of traffic, but that if that continues it is inevitable that the railway rates instead of being decreased must be increased. Let me first take those Members who are interested in agricultural constituencies. The difficulty at this moment in agricultural constituencies is the absence of facilities for bringing goods to the market. No one, unless he can command a full truck, can get his goods to the market, with the result that every small farmer knows that, no matter what he produces on his allotment or farm, he is hopelessly handicapped, and the public are prevented from having the benefit of his produce. That is the situation at the moment, because the House knows that you could not get the capital merely to lay down a new service of railways. Not only would it not pay, but you could not get the capital to do it. Therefore, the only alternative is to provide some feeder whereby this traffic may be picked up and ultimately transported by railway.
Here is a clear case of fact. Take the group with which we are dealing at the moment. As the House knows, there is one group that has already got the powers which are asked for under this Bill. I am dealing now exclusively with the railway companies which are asking for the powers which are already possessed by the one group. I repeat, that unless they are allowed to develop a motor service on the road, they can never give to agriculturists the facilities which they require and which will be of benefit to them and to the country.
I would ask the House to follow this point. Take the business men in this House. They look to facilities as the first consideration. How many Members of this House realise that there is no goods traffic running by day? What is the result of that to the manufacturer? Take the case of the business man at Bradford, Leeds, Manchester, in South Wales, who wants to get his goods quickly to London or anywhere else. Supposing he is ready to send it and it arrives in the middle of the day, or at 10 or 11 in the morning. The goods may be sent to the railway station, but they are not despatched, and cannot be despatched, until night. Is there a business man who will assume for a moment that that is the way of efficiency The railway companies are deprived of the facilities which they could develop for short-distance traffic. The companies could carry those goods by the road, saving loading and unloading, and every bit of traffic saved in that way would release wagons and engines, and relieve congestion at railway sidings. That is the only way in which you can get an efficient transport service. I am speaking wholly from a practical railway-man's point of view, not on the side of monopoly, but of what actually happens in railway experience. There is no manufacturer or business man in this House who would deny the accuracy of my statement.
If it be true that the object of those who oppose this Bill is to prevent a monopoly, what is the situation? Is there at this moment not a combine in many parts of the country, running vehicles on the roads? The difference is this: The combines now running on the roads are subject to no Rates Tribunal; they are subject to no check and no interference; and their complaint, incidentally, is that if this Bill passes they cannot go on with their monopoly, but will be brought to the level of those who honestly intend to compete with them. Instead of this Bill providing for a monopoly, as has been alleged, it would be the breaking down of a monopoly that already exists. It will be observed that none of those opposing the Bill has got up to-day and said, "We, who are to-day the monopolists, we, who plead in the interests of an existing monopoly, are prepared to agree to a Rates Tribunal which will regulate our rates." None of them dares to say that, and none of them has even hinted at it. Why? There is only one answer. If they did so their whole case would be gone. My hon. Friend here, the Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Kennedy) was certainly not speaking for them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order, Order!"]
With the greatest respect, Sir, I was rather directing my remarks towards those who are going into the Division Lobby. I was trying to point out to those who are raising the bogey of a monopoly that the raising of such a bogey cannot be justified. The House should fully understand the situation. If a Second Reading be given to the Bill, and even if it passes the Committee stage in its present form, instead of circumstances arising such as have been indicated, there would be the best guarantee that the existing monopoly would be broken down. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich (Mr. G. Roberts) informed the House, and it was generally cheered, that the Scotch companies were still retaining the passenger Clauses. It is only fair that the House should understand that that is not so. Many municipalities and many local authorities have already petitioned Members of this House against the passenger Clauses of the Bill. The passenger Clauses in this Bill have been dropped, and the passenger Clauses in the Scottish Bill have been dropped. I hope those who heard the statement of my right hon. Friend will accept the statement I now make as a fact. In any case this is only a Second Reading Debate, and points of objection can be raised in Committee. The whole Bill can be examined there, but I hope at least a Second Reading will be given to the Bill. I sincerely hope it will not be rejected, because, fortunately or unfortunately, we and the railway companies find ourselves in agreement. An hon. Member has asked us to picture the coalowners and the Miners' Federation working together. That is a picture I shall welcome. It is a picture from which we ought not to run away. It is a picture of which this House ought not to be afraid. It would be far better if the Miners' Federation acid the coalowners, the railway companies and the railway men, and all other industries were frankly to face the fact that they can get no more out of industry than is put into it, and that the maximum can be put into industry by both sides recognising their mutual obligations.
There is one interest which seems to be in great danger of being submerged to-night, and that is the interest of the general public. I congratulate the promoters of the Bill upon the successful lobbying which has been undertaken on its behalf. I do not believe there is a railway director or shareholder in the House who is not present. The interests of the general public, however, should not be lost sight of. Anybody who uses the roads of this country, as I do, must be painfully aware of the endeavours which are being made by local authorities to try to keep abreast of the necessities of the time and keep the roads up to date.
There is one thing which the promoters of this Bill have omitted to say anything about, and that is the increased traffic which will be thrown on the roads as a result of this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Certainly it will, because the whole reason for this Bill is the competition of the roads with the railways, and if it were not for the competition, and the successful competition, of the roads, the railways would never have sought these powers. The Noble Lord the Member for Southend (Viscount Elveden), who spoke on behalf of the Bill, said it would not pay to put two men on to a truck, but that the railways only wanted to develop new districts. Of course, it will not pay. They will have to develop them at a loss. Railways are not philanthropic societies, however. This service cannot be put on solely on a money-making basis, but it is put on in order to stamp down competition. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I maintain that it is so, and in spite of what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) has just said, I maintain that this is the first step towards the establishment of a great monopoly.
There are two checks on the railways to-day; one is road transport, and the other coastwise shipping. Roads are the first object, and the next object may be coastwise shipping, and when you have it all under the control of these great corporations, you will have a monopoly in its most extreme form. That is my view, and it is the view taken on this Bill by that Committee. I am not unalterably opposed to all forms of road transport passing to the railways, but I know that this view is shared by a great many Members, that this is a very great problem, not to be dealt with piecemeal. Deal with it by a Royal Commission or by some sort of impartial Commission, but I maintain that a Committee of this House inquiring into the position of this Bill would be unable to apply it to the whole country. I hope very much that the Ministry of Transport will hold out some hope of an impartial inquiry into the whole road question. The vehicles that do the most damage to the roads do not pay the heaviest tax, and there is a great case for inquiry into the whole question of rates and upkeep of roads, and I say that until we have had that inquiry this Bill is premature. Therefore I hope the House will not give it a Second Reading.
At this time of night I am sure the House would prefer that one should not attempt to reply to any speech or argument, but put in a very few sentences what is the resolved and unanimous opinion of the road authorities of England and Wales, and, I believe, also of Scotland, on a matter of high consequence. I must indeed be allowed to say that the speech of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport was a very remarkable one. After several minutes of most fascinating and weighty indecision, he finally said that, as this was brought in as a private Bill, we should let it go to a Private Bill Committee, but he had said at the outset of his speech that this is a Bill which affects the whole relations of road transport throughout the country.
I am here to say a few words in a quite unprovocative way that it is really the considered opinion of highway authorities that this Bill ought not to proceed on Private Bill lines. You may have very great issues which are yet local. It may be of great importance to a great city whether it is enlarged or not. It may be of high consequence whether some powerful local authority buys, or does not buy, some local monopoly service, but when you have an issue which, by common consent of all the speakers in this debate, must-affect the whole country, a large portion of it directly, and the rest of the country by implication, is it right that an issue of that magnitude, on which opinion is closely and deeply divided, should be settled by a vast expenditure of money, and the concentrated responsibility of five gentlemen upstairs, instead of by the House in the method of a public Bill?
I also desire to say that the position of local authorities with regard to roads is very much graver in 1922 than has been set forth in any detail to the House to-night. The development of road traffic, following upon the excessive strain which the War put upon all kinds of highways, has made the problem of maintaining highways one of the greatest possible difficulty. Again and again, when great municipalities have sought powers to run omnibuses and tramways, the railway companies, quite within their rights, have asked to be treated as a road authority in respect of their bridges and approaches, and got the Adaptability Clause put in. Yet the same railway companies in this case will not hear of any Clause of Adaptability.
If my right hon. Friend will allow me, with his usual courtesy, to give, another sentence, I will complete the argument I began. The argument I was addressing to the House was that the very railway companies who insist upon the Clause of Adaptability when a great borough seeks to run omnibus routes, refuse to consider a Clause of Adaptability when they themselves wish to run omnibus routes. My right hon. Friend talks about rates. Does he not know, better perhaps than any other Member of the House, that the whole theory and practice of railways in this country is to give to railways an exclusive monopoly of a certain kind of transit on a certain route, with which no one can compete, and in return for that, and in return for the power of receiving goods and bringing them to their destination, they pay rates, as they ought to pay rates. Therefore, on behalf of many boroughs in England, as well as on behalf of road authorities generally, we ask the House of Commons not by Private Bill machinery to embarrass further this national question on a sectional and piecemeal Bill. We ask the House of Commons to reject the Bill, not because we are saying that railways must under no conditions ever run services on roads.
We ask the House not to allow this to he done in this way or at this time. We share the position put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich (Mr. G. Roberts) in saying that we think it is a matter for general, impartial, and exhaustive inquiry. I assure the House that those county councils who rather welcome, under proper conditions, transport by road by the railway companies, and those county councils who are opposed in principle to it, are all united in asking the House, first, not to deal with this by private Bill, and, secondly, to insist upon some Clause of adaptability such as is brought in when boroughs themselves try to put transport on the road. You cannot win back five or six millions on which the emotions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby concentrated themselves without putting a great many more vehicles on the road in competition with those there; consequently, that is to make the burden of road upkeep, now well nigh intolerable, altogether impossible for the community under present conditions. Therefore, we say, so long as there is no adaptability Clause—and that is said to be a matter of principle—so long as the machinery of private Bill legislation, appropriate only to local and particular areas, is used for this general and fundamental issue, we appeal to the House of Commons, in the interests of the whole community and in the interest of proper Governmental procedure, to reject this Bill.
I only intervene for a, few minutes, and purely as a private Member. I have been bombarded, like most Members of the House, with extraordinarily well-argued memorials from both sides, in equal numbers, and with arguments which appeal to me with almost equal cogency. I sympathise very much with my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, and deprecate the strictures passed upon him as a man who is unable to make up his mind, and therefore has suggested the course he has. It seems to me that the essence of the position is this: not that we should consider the interests of the railway shareholders, nor primarily the interests of those who are actually to-day engaged in road transport as commercial concerns on the roads, but the interests of the greater body of people who want their goods carried. From that point of view the essential thing is that the public as a whole should get their goods carried by the greatest efficiency, the greatest speed suitable for the goods in question, and at the lowest cost. I agree absolutely with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Middleton (Sir R. Adkins), that this is essentially a national question, and not a particular question affecting one particular group of railways.
I do feel from the view put before us that a Select Committee of this House, with their procedure of examination and cross-examination of witnesses, is the procedure which does tend in a peculiarly successful way to the elucidation and examination of the kind of arguments which have been submitted to each and all of us in this House in the memorials which we have received from the two sides. Therefore, although I sympathise very much with the views of my hon. and gallant Friend (Sir R. Adkins) in regard to this particular proposal, I would like to see this Bill have the advantage of being explained and criticised in the forceful manner which is possible in our private bill procedure. I intend to vote for the Second Beading, and I shall do so because I feel that this House cannot tonight pass a considered decision on the basic principle involved in this Measure. We do not know enough about it, and consequently, as a private Member, I suggest that it may be possible when the Bill comes back, if it does come back, the Preamble having been passed, to recommit the Bill with such knowledge as we get from the Private Bill Committee after an examination of such material as goes before that Committee, to a joint committee of both Houses with a general instruction from this House to consider the whole question of the principle involved.
I know that is possible now, but my own view is that the kind of preliminary examination which a private Bill gets at the hands of those much-abused but very useful persons, the lawyers, is a desirable procedure. Therefore, I would suggest that the Bill should receive a Second Reading, the House making up its mind that we must have some opportunity after to-day, with a better knowledge of the pros and cons, of passing a judgment on the whole matter.
What is the doctrine which the right hon. Gentleman has put before the House? He says that the House cannot decide this matter to-night, but that we may vote for the Second Reading, refer it to the Private Bill Committee, and after that Committee has considered it with the assistance of those eminent gentlemen who are colleagues of his at the Parliamentary Bar, it is to come back to the House and be referred to the Joint Committee of both Houses. I can quite understand my right hon. and learned Friend's feelings as a private Member, but I am certain that no such proposal would ever emanate from a Government Department, because that is a negation of the whole system of our private Bill procedure. I agree with my right hon. Friend that this matter ought not to be rushed, and ought not to be rushed to-night, because it is a matter which is vital for the whole country. It is not simply a matter for the railway companies or the transport people, but the general public. Is there a man here to-night who is satisfied with the present condition of railway affairs? Is there a man here who is satisfied with the present scale of railway rates for passengers and goods?
I say that we are receiving from the railway companies a worse service at a higher price. They are like the Post Office. The railway companies say they are losing traffic. Of course they are, and why? Because their rates are too high. It is the general public who are suffering. Railway companies to-day are strangling trade and absolutely throttling agriculture. I had a case only this morning, coming up from Devonshire, as to how in Penzance they cannot send their early potatoes away because of the railway rates. Lower railway rates are vital, and in order to get them I believe the competition of the roads is vital also. Of course, the railway companies dislike competition, because it will bring down their rates, but is it not in the interests of the general public that rates should come down? Of course it is. I heard my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) speak with great eloquence on this matter, and say that the railway companies had lost 6,000,000 tons in 1921 under the agreement with the Government. Why have they lost it? If they had had reasonable railway rates they would not have lost it, and, as my right hon. Friend said, if this continues the railway rates must be raised for other portions of traffic. Why? Surely the railway companies are to-day charging rates at the very maximum that the traffic will bear.
My hon. Friend, who is a great expert in these matters, says that our railway rates are the highest in the world, and yet in spite of all that the railways come here to-night and ask for power to squash this new competition. They say, Let us have an opportunity to get into it, let us use our enormous power, our £1,300,000,000 of capital, in order to come in and endeavour to squash this new competition. Of course, the railway com- panies can come in and use their enormous power. They will drive the road transport companies off the road. They will then have a monopoly, a trust, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby will be assisting them in forming a trust for the transport of the country. No; if railway companies want to get back traffic they should lower their rates. Why should we agriculturists, the people who have to pay the rates for the roads, pay the extra rates that must be entailed if the railway companies put their transport vehicles on the roads. We must do so because they will increase the wear and tear of the roads. The railway companies have killed the canals, and they want to kill the roads. Here are two big railway companies, the Forth Western Railway Company and the Midland Railway Company, coming here for these powers. The Midland Company and the North Western Company have hitherto been in competition with each other, but they have now joined together, and want to come in and use the roads as well. On this Committee to which reference has been made, out of right members, only one, who was not interested, recommended that these powers should be given to the railway companies. I say, without fear of successful contradiction, that the railway companies to-day have their hands full. Let them deal with their present problems. Let them bring their rates down. My right hon. Friend near me says they have not their pockets full. I do not want them to put their hands into my pockets any more than they have done. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby says the road transport authorities have a monopoly. That is not so. Anyone can run a motor on the roads——
And no one but the railway companies can run a railway carriage on a line. There is no monopoly on the roads to-day. I ask the House, to-night to reject this Bill. If this Bill is to come up at all let it come up as a considered measure of the Government. Let it go to a joint Committee of both Houses or to a Select Committee, but do not let the House make the mistake of entrusting the railway companies—now they are in the throes of revising their rates—with these enormous new powers which I am convinced will redound to the injury of the trade and agriculture of this country.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General has made a suggestion with which I do not agree. I think that this House should give a Second Reading to this Bill, so that the whole of its provisions may be considered in Committee. When the Bill, as revised in Committee, would come down to the House for Third Reading. We have heard the guarantee of a director of one of the railway companies concerned.
If the hon. Member had a little longer experience in this House, I do not think he would have made that interruption. We have had a guarantee given by a director of the railway
company, that the object of the companies is to fall in with the wishes of the House and of the public. Therefore let us give the railway companies a chance to accept such Amendments as may be moved in Committee, and when the Bill comes down to the House revised by the Committee we shall have the right either to reject it or read it the Third time.
|Division No. 89.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Neal, Arthur|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Gretton, Colonel John||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Grundy, T. W.||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hallwood, Augustine||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Hacket|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Hancock, John George||Parker, James|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hartshorn, Vernon||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Higham, Charles Frederick||Pratt, John William|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Rae, H. Norman|
|Cairns, John||Hirst, G. H.||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Cape, Thomas||Hohier, Gerald Fitzroy||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Hood, Sir Joseph||Rees, Sir J. D, (Nottingham, East)|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor-(Barnstaple)|
|Clough, Sir Robert||Hudson, R. M.||Reid, D. D.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Davies, Sir Joseph (Chester, Crewe)||Jameson, John Gordon||Royden, Sir Thomas|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Jones. J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)|
|Dennis, J. W. (Birmingham, Deritend)||Kelly, Edward J. (Donegal, East)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Dockreil, Sir Maurice||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool Exchange)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Lindsay, William Arthur||Seager, Sir William|
|Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Lunn, William||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Sexton, James|
|Elveden, Viscount||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Simm, M. T.|
|Finney, Samuel||Manville, Edward||Sitch, Charles H.|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Gillis, William||Morris, Richard||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K,|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Swan, J. E.|
|Gould, James C.||Murray, C. D. (Edinburgh)||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Myers, Thomas||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Green, Albert (Derby)||Nail, Major Joseph||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Wilson, James (Dudley)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Turton, Edmund Russborough||Wilson, Joseph H. (South Shields)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Vickers, Douglas||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Weston, Colonel John Wakefield||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.||Wintringham, Margaret||Mr. J. H. Thomas and Mr. MacVeagh.|
|Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)||Wise, Frederick|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.|
|Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent||Gilbert, James Daniel||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Glanville, Harold James||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Ammon, Charles George||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Grant, James Augustus||Morrison, Hugh|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Murray, John (Leeds, West)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gregory, Holman||Naylor, Thomas Ellis|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Pearce, Sir William|
|Barrand, A. R.||Hayward, Evan||Peel, Col. Hn. s. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Perring, William George|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Hopkins, John W. W.||Purchase, H. G.|
|Blane, T. A.||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Howard, Major S. G.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hurd, Percy A.||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Irving, Dan||Seddon, J. A.|
|Bruton, Sir James||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Stevens, Marshall|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Sugden, W. H.|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm, Ladywood)||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Sutton, John Edward|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Kennedy, Thomas||Taylor, J.|
|Colfox, Major Wm- Phillips||Kenyon, Barnet||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Kiley, James Daniel||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lloyd, George Butler||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Lorden, John William||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Windsor, Viscount|
|Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Winterton, Earl|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Evans, Ernest||Macquisten, F. A.||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Maddocks, Henry||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Mallalieu, Frederick William|
|Fildes, Henry||Martin, A. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Forrest, Walter||Matthews, David||Mr. George Roberts and Viscount Curzon.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz|
Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.