I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
I recognise that as in all these Friday sittings as far as possible the promoters of a Bill should be brief in order that others may have a chance of expressing their opinions on what is undoubtedly one of the gravest, if not the gravest problem in the State, and I am sure the House will forgive me if I summarise the existing situation as we see it regarding unemployment. The broad facts of recent unemployment are well known. For a period after the War concluded there was a continuance of the artificial prosperity of the war period but in 1921 and 1922 there set in the greatest period of unemployment this country has ever known. The numbers of unemployed increased rapidly to a peak point in 1921 when nearly 2,000,000 people were out of work. We are glad to say that since that time there has been a progressive improvement but at the present moment there are still, according to the latest statistics, about 1,300,000 without work, very nearly 1,000,000 of whom are men, more than 200,000 are women and the remainder are young people of both sexes. That state of affairs, while undoubtedly an improvement on the terrible conditions when unemployment was at its worst, is still grave enough in all truth and I think the House will agree that we could not spend a Friday afternoon more profitably than in directing our minds to constructive efforts to meet this problem.
There are one or two facts regarding unemployment to which I think the attention of the House should be called. According to recent analysis it is clear that a very large amount of our unemployment is found in shipbuilding, engineering, certain transport industries and one or two other callings, although of course it is true that unemployment is prevalent in at all events the great majority of industries. In a recent work published by a very well known author and economist the remarkable statement is made that, with the exception of one month prior to 1921, during the last 100 years the percentage of unemployed among members of Trade Unions had never risen above 10. I make allowance, of course, for the fact that that included the period when the Trade Union movement was either only in its inception or was very imperfectly organised. That was in itself a remarkable statement. Attention is also drawn to the fact that during the present depression the percentage of unemployment had risen for many months as high as 14, and in certain industries of course conditions were very much worse. It is not without importance in this connection that taking the census of 1911 and 1921 there was an increase in the male population between 15 and 65 of about 780,000 people, and it is rather odd that in that increase not fewer than about 500,000, or rather more than half a million, represent an increase in the numbers engaged in shipbuilding, engineering, transport and the other industries which are most severely affected by unemployment at present. I need not detain the House with any further description of the gravity of the problem. I am going to leave that to other hon. Members who can speak with much more intimate knowledge of the Trade Unions and of the demoralisation of unemployment than I can claim to possess.
Now a word or two about the provisions of the Bill. I do not suggest for a moment that we are going to cure unemployment by mere Act of Parliament—we are under no delusion on that point—but we introduce a Bill which would confer certain powers on the Ministry of Labour and upon local authorities and we lay down conditions which will enable us in a more scientific and practical way to tackle this problem. We propose to transfer to the Ministry of Labour certain powers of other Departments, particularly where they concern contracts and the innumerable different issues on which employment depends. Wm propose also to set up, or to ask local authorities to set up, special Employment Committees. Many local authorities have already taken that step for the express purpose of considering unemployment and kindred problems. We propose to repeal the Unemployed Workmen Act, 1905. When that Act was passed it was hoped it would provide to some extent for unemployment in the localities but it is subject to very serious criticism, in that under it there can be practically no enterprise which would compete with any existing effort in the locality, and in the second- place the rates of remuneration offered are, I think, by common consent quite inadequate to maintain unemployed people in reasonably healthy conditions. That Act has applied to only one or two localities, and even if we take the most favourable view of what has been done under it in land reclamation and certain other directions, there is nothing to hinder the work being overtaken and perhaps better done by local authorities apart from the Distress Committees which that measure set up.
These are the broad general provisions. The central principle running through the Measure is a definite effort to try, as far as we possibly can, on the part of the State and on the part of the local authorities, to regularise—if I may use that awkward term—the demand for labour in this country. That is, to try to anticipate more than we have done before, the periods of distress and unemployment and, as far as we can, to avoid them and to see that contracts are placed in such a way as to spread the demand evenly over the years. There is nothing of a revolutionary suggestion in a proposal of that kind. Many of our most distinguished economists and others who have studied the difficulties of unemployment have drawn attention to the fact that there is, on the one side, what is not really unemployment at all but mere dislocation, and, on the other side, a considerable amount of unemployment which is due to the fluctuating and uncertain way in which the State and local authorities undertake much perfectly useful and necessary work from time to time. It is to that particular problem that this principle in the Bill is directed. We recognise that in the main, the task must be undertaken from two points of view. First, from the point of view of internal conditions within the State, and, secondly, from the point of view of international and external conditions, which we recognise have a profound bearing upon unemployment in this country.
Let me briefly say something about the internal conditions. We have had during recent years as many as 2,000,000 people, and we have now 1,300,000 people out of work. That looks, from the statistical point of view, a very large number, but I think it is our duty to try and put the whole problem of unemployment in proper proportion. Notwithstanding our great debts and other difficulties, it should not be hard for a country like this, with great elasticity in its economic system, to provide for 1,300,000 people. The number may be large in proportion to the industrial population, and it may even be considerable in proportion to the total population, but it is not very big when we consider the economic and financial resources of Great Britain and, more particularly, the unfilled possibilities of this country. De not let us sit down and say that the disease has grown to such an extent that it is beyond our power to deal with it except by emergency and relief measures. We can deal with it by proper organisation of our local and national resources. As regards the local authorities, every hon. Member will agree that during the War they necessarily postponed a large amount of useful enterprise of all kinds on which they were normally engaged. If any hon. Member will turn to the annual reports of the Education Department, he will find that innumerable contracts have been postponed, many of them of the most urgent character, relating to schools and educational institutions. Under the Ministry of Agriculture there are similar conditions. In fact, it is impossible to take any Department of the State at the present time without finding that there are heavy arrears, not of relief work or of unremunerative work, but of remunerative work which would really prove to be a capital asset of some kind to the State when completed.
That range of activity on the part of the local authorities in this country is represented in the long list of contracts which are placed by public Departments and others, and recorded from time to time either in the "Labour Gazette" or in other publications. The Government in recent defences of their unemployment policy in this House, have stated that, as far as possible, under the Office of Works and other Departments, they have tried to expedite what they call the normal work of the Department. We stand here this morning in every way to promote the healthy development of that principle, with the object of trying to meet particularly the time of grave stress through which we are now passing. In regard to housing and other urgent issues, there are heavy arrears which every local authority and public body has to face. Hon. Members will at once say that, while they probably agree with such conditions in theory, we have to remember the financial conditions of the time, the great weight of local rating and the other difficulties of putting schemes of that kind into practice. May I set against that one or two considerations?
In practice in this country at the present time, we have to choose between expending public money on useful enterprise which would represent capital assets of real value to the people when completed, or the mere expenditure of money on unemployment allowances and on Poor Law relief, for which there is nothing to show at the end of the day, not even in many cases adequate maintenance for the people to whom it is offered. It is a choice in public expenditure, and having regard to the financial and other burdens to which I have referred, it would be far better business on the part of the State to put larger sums at the disposal of the local authorities in order that they may undertake their arrears of work, rather than to dissipate the money on less useful work, and, in the second place, to try to rearrange the system under which the local authorities get grants for all kinds of public works at the present time. May I, in passing, on this point, draw attention to a difficulty of a very practical character which has come to our notice recently on a Treasury Committee?
The local authorities, more particularly the smaller local authorities, are dependent upon the Local Loans Fund for many grants which would be applied to this and other classes of work. Under the rules, the Local Loans Commissioners do not lend at less than 5 per cent., and where they regard the security as weak or doubtful, they are apt to impose somewhat difficult conditions. I recognise that they are entrusted with public money, and that it is their duty to see it is lent on proper terms. In practice, it comes to this, that the larger local authorities do not resort to the Local Loans Commissioners, but the smaller local authorities are compelled to resort to them. In most cases the smaller local authorities cannot afford that security which can be offered by the larger authorities, and they are, therefore, at a disadvantage in getting money on the easiest possible terms for the purpose of carrying out the work they have to do.
Quite recently, in evidence which he gave before the Committee of the Treasury, the late Sir Thomas Munro, whose death we all deplore as that of one of our most brilliant municipal administrators, said that every week the County Council of Lanark was refusing money, or were being offered more than they required at about 3½ per cent., and of course many of the large local authorities are borrowing at 4 per cent. The smaller local authorities are not in the same favourable position. I suggest as a practical proposal that we must make a definite effort in this country to place money more readily, either by some system of combination or otherwise, at the disposal of the smaller local authorities and so encourage them in the districts where unemployment is very often severe to undertake work of this kind. These and many other points arise in connection with what I might call the local aspect of this Bill. Then we suggest that the appropriate government department proposed, the Ministry of Labour, should be in constant consultation with the other large departments of State in order to ascertain in advance how far they are going to place contracts, and to what extent such contracts might be allocated to different districts of the country
Very often it happens in times of acute distress that there is grave unemployment in one area and comparatively little in another. In that case it is clear that area No. 2 has an economic strength that would probably enable it to carry its small amount of local distress, and some effort should therefore be made to see that the area which is in the graver condition should be assisted I do not think that that is in any way an impracticable proposal. We have always got to keep in mind that the choice is simply between adopting a provision of that kind or continuing to pay large sums in unemployment donation. Then within the State itself we direct attention to all kinds of resources which the people or sections of the people possess. We are only beginning to understand the possibilities of the application of science, say, to agriculture, or what we can do in industrial organisation to eliminate waste, and place commodities on the market at cheaper rates, bringing them within reach of ever-increasing numbers of people and meeting unemployment in that way. We think that a department of proper intelligence and energy might cover the ground at least by inquiry in this sphere, and might anticipate—and this is one of the leading considerations—distress and unemployment. Hitherto we have nearly always waited until the unemployment was with us, and then resorted to almost every kind of uneconomic device that has made these relief schemes and other schemes stink in the nostrils of the people, incidentally doing a very serious disservice to large numbers of people out of work.
That is a rough outline of our idea in the national sphere under this Bill, but I cannot conclude without recognising frankly that the remedy, to a large extent, lies in international relations and in the economic policy which this country pursues. In this Measure, while we are simply confined to this country there would be, I hope, in the central department an effort to try to look to overseas economic conditions. During the past two or three years the labour movement in this country has been very often criticised as having no constructive policy. It has produced one memorandum after another on foreign international and home economic problems, and I am safe in saying that we have the support of many of our most representative economists and thinkers. Unfortunately, we have not been able to get that policy adopted to any appreciable extent, but I take the chance this morning again to draw attention to one or two of our leading proposals.
We have emphasised very strongly that this country among others should do everything in its power to promote the freest possible interchange of commodities in the international sphere. We have, without being slaves to one fiscal doctrine or another, drawn attention to the danger in post war conditions of the growth of the tariffist restriction which is true of a large part of Europe at present, and what we particularly regret is that notwithstanding the fact that practically every economist and publicist has laid down that maximum freedom as an important help in safeguarding industry and trade, we in Great Britain have ourselves adopted one device of fiscal restriction after another. That has been true of part 1 and particularly of part 2 of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, and also of the McKenna duties, and it is true of certain other enterprises in which this country has engaged in recent times.
We must recognise the broad fact that in the common interest at present, even from the selfish point of view of getting anything in the nature of reparations, the maximum freedom of interchange is essential, and accordingly we must, to do our duty in this country as part of our policy in dealing with unemployment in the State, look beyond the State to these larger measures of fiscal freedom, and see that we play our part in making a contribution to them. Then a great deal can be done in the sphere of international economic agreement. I am not going to press this morning special arguments which many of us thought might be advanced in favour of a strong economic side of the League of Nations, but I do say without fear of contradiction that the steps taken in reference to Austria are a very important illustration of a process which might be widely extended, and will undoubtedly contribute, and have already contributed, to the recovery of that country. We on these benches plead for a strong international economic policy in the interests of distressed peoples, particularly on these lines. We think that the government of this country should be very active at present in promoting measures of that kind.
These are two of the spheres in which we can render important assistance in dealing with the unemployment problem. I am excluding a number of subjects which I might have raised on debate had time permitted, but I do not think that we can solve the problem of fluctuations in the demand for labour or unemployment within the limits of our existing industrial order. Large numbers of Members in other parts of the House will probably think that if you are going to facilitate recovery you must permit the freest possible competition; you must not do anything to interfere with industry you must leave us on a severely individualistic basis. My short reply is that with the best will in the world you cannot get that on a very large scale with the existing industrial conditions in this country. The so-called free competition on a strictly individualistic basis has to a very large extent been replaced by the trust, the syndicate and the combine. There are very important industries in this country, according to the testimony of one who by no means agrees with us, the right hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. McCurdy), in which about 83 per cent. of the enterprise at present is under trust domination or control. I do not think that the State can go on much longer tolerating the trust in that way. I take the view that in the long run some form of public ownership and democratic control is inevitable.
The Title of this Bill is
to make provision for the Prevention of Unemployment, to Provide for the Proper Treatment of Unemployed Persons, and for other Purposes connected therewith.
It is perfectly in order for the hon. Member to say that this Bill is not complete, that he looks forward to something else, and he can indicate what that something else is, but he must take care not to make this a continuation of the Debate on the Motion of the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden).
I accept your ruling, Sir, of course, but I was endeavouring to show that any central Department entrusted with the consideration of this problem in Great Britain would require to direct its mind to all kinds of home and foreign issues about unemployment. But having said what I have said I am inclined to agree that. I have covered the ground on the whole, and I propose to leave the matter. There is one very important consideration with reference to the past two years. There cannot be the slightest doubt that we have, perhaps for a very long time, undermined not only the moral, but the earning capacity and the physical efficiency of very large numbers of our people. It is mainly on that ground that we plead for adequate maintenance under this Measure. That appears to many of us to be the most tragic feature of unemployment. To those who criticise us on the ground that this Bill will cost money, I say that in the aggregate, even if it were fully adopted and applied, it can cost the State little compared with the appalling devastation which a perpetuation of our existing methods inevitably involves.
£2,000,000 a week in relief for unemployment, I am told, is spent under various schemes now. I understand the hon. Member refers to the aggregate cost under this Bill. It would be more or less impossible to give an estimate of that kind, because it would depend on the extent to which the Bill is adopted. I could not give an estimate, but the aggregate cost of the Measure would be small compared with the loss due to existing conditions.
I beg to second that Motion. It will be generally agreed that it is appropriate that this Bill should be supported by one who has recently come from enjoyment of the unemployment benefit—wrongly described sometimes as the "dole"—to take up his present position at a salary of £400 a year, which probably some people think he does not earn. Since I have been a Member of the House I have been led to believe that all parties have some sympathy with the people who suffer from unemployment. I think we can appeal for the unanimous support of the House in our effort to provide means whereby unemployment can be prevented to a very large extent. The problem is not a new one. My personal experience of unemployment dates back 40 years, to a time when, as a boy, I remember that a whole village became a village of desolation because of the closing of a factory in which almost the entire village was employed. Considering the state of efficiency at which we have arrived in the production of the things that are essential to every human being, the time has arrived when we should make provision whereby no section of society should go short of the things that we all need. This Bill is an endeavour to abolish poverty from our land. We are not so optimistic as to think that this will be done almost immediately, but we are convinced that the nation is not taking the precautions that it might take, and that somehow or other we have drifted into a system of alleviation of immediate distress instead of getting at methods of prevention. I have been engaged in the engineering industry which, as has been said, has been hardly hit by unemployment during the last two or three years. I recollect what was done in the way of the organization of industry after 1914, and I know that if this House was prepared and willing to do as much now in the organization of industry against unemployment, as was done during the period of the War, this country need fear nothing.
I was engaged in one or two of your great munition factories during the war. Along with my fellows I assisted in the production of the things which this House and the country generally thought were needed. These things were produced in a manner, and by a method of which this country's employers and the workers generally had had no previous experience. We know, in that case, what was accomplished through the organisation of industry—which, may I remark in parenthesis, Thomas Carlyle many years ago said was one of the first problems to be undertaken in his day. The organisation of industry in the War period produced all that you needed. Why, in the name of goodness, were the organisations which were then established scrapped? We are asking you to retain those organisations in the fullness of their equipment and to turn them over to the production of the things which we need in peace time. If you could organise for the purpose of destroying property, surely it is not too much for us to ask that you shouud organise for the production of the things that we need daily. We think this Bill will, in a measure, lay the foundations for that purpose, and we hope every member of the. House will sympathetically consider it and bear in mind what we want done.
I wish to call attention to the latest phase of the organisation of workers in this country. Hon. Members are fully conversant with the fact that the industrial population of this country is highly organised. We, on these benches, can claim to represent almost 6,000,000 organised workers. The latest phase of the organisaton of the workers is one of which hon. Members have some knowledge, because of the frequent references to it in this House since the last General Election; that is, the organisation of the unemployed. The unemployed have begun to organise themselves for the purpose of impressing upon the nation their needs and desires. As a worker who has
had a long experience of unemployment, I am a member of that organisation, and I have here the red card of membership. What is the object of the organisation? May I read, for the enlightment of hon. Members, what is stated on this card:—
The objects of this organisation shall be (1) to educate and organise the unemployed with a view to establishing the principle of work or full maintenance at trade union rates of wages.
Many of us believe, and I certainly believe that the country is capable of doing that. I am positive that this country's development is not yet at the stage to which it can be brought and that the standard of life of the community is not so high as it may yet become. The unemployed in this organisation are determined to force upon the country the fact that they intend to have either the provision of work or full maintenance for those dependant upon them. Along with many other Members on these Benches, I have been particularly active since our last experience of unemployment. Eighteen months before arriving here I was largely engaged—in the time I was not tramping the streets seeking for work—in building up this organisation and impressing the public with its objects and with our determination to have those objects realised and fulfilled.
I recollect the years 1893 and 1894 when this country was passing through a period of severe unemployment and when a revered and respected Member of this party the late Keir Hardie, first came into this House and was styled the "member for the unemployed." He was maligned by Members of this House and misunderstood by the general public, but he lived to see the day when the question of unemployment had to be tackled in this House. We are asking now that you shall further tackle the subject on different lines. We want the Members of the Government, and the Minister of Labour in particular, to consider this subject from a new angle, instead of making preparations and arrangements for paying money in millions without getting any return, though the people who are receiving the money want to render some social service. Will you, then, begin to organise the workers of the country with that object and let us get to work? There is abundant evidence, up and down the country, of the need for works that can be undertaken. I represent the borough of Gateshead,
one of the most desolate places from the point of view of unemployment that there is at the present time. Since coming here, I made arrangements with the manager of the Minister's Employment Exchange to send to me, week by week, the returns of unemployment in that borough. What do I find? At the present date—I received these figures yesterday morning—there are 6,885 men unemployed in Gateshead, and a total—women, boys and girls—of 7,831. In March it was not so bad, so that evidently the figures are increasing in my particular borough. There, thousands of the people are living in a condition of degradation and herding, in the like of which Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House would not house their animals. The morning prior to coming here, on the occasion of one of my visits to the borough, a man walked with me on the streets, an unemployed ex-service man, who told me there were 15 of his family living in a three-roomed house. There are scores of houses in that borough, built for the purpose of housing one family, that have in them now three and four families. The streets are mean and dirty in the older part of the borough, and need complete reconstruction. That is only indicative of all our large industrial towns. I do not want to stand in the way of other speakers, but I hope the House will give very serious consideration to this Bill and amend it, if it be possible to amend it, but not destroy it. I would like to call the attention of hon. Members to a recent series of articles published in the "Observer" and written by Lord Milner, of whom it cannot be said, by any stretch of imagination, that he belongs to the Labour party, and this is what he says:
Capital, in its constant search for profit, may often find or think it more advantageous to engage in financial operations which add nothing to the total wealth of the nation than in promoting productive enterprise. As a matter of fact, some of the greatest fortunes have been made, and are being made to-day, by the mere manipulation of financial counters, for which the chaos of exchange affords such exceptional opportunities.
We want you to use your financial arrangements and financial possibilities, not with the idea of increasing individual wealth, but for the purpose of increasing the general standard of life of the community and producing something with a different motive than manipulating these
counters of yours for profit, but for the satisfaction and development of the needs of the general community. I referred, a moment or two ago, to the organisation of industry that was undertaken during the period of the War. What I could never understand, since the conclusion of the War and the Armistice, was why you disbanded those organisations. For instance, there was Gretna Green, with which some hon. Members of this House may have some acquaintance. During the period of the War, when the effective young men of the country were called away, fighting in foreign lands or on the wide sea, you built up there a little town that carried a matter of 20,000 people, and I have here a description of it when the Government, in our opinion, foolishly disbanded it and offered it for sale. This is a full page advertisement, giving an account of it, that I happened to cut out and have used on occasions in my propaganda efforts, showing how you could spend money in advertising the sale of a factory and in calling for the investment of some of those superabundant counters to which Lord Milner referred. The advertisement says:
The war population of the area was about 20,000, but some of the habitations in which the people were housed have been removed. There remain, however, nearly 950 houses, some of wood, but all fitted with electric light, baths, and modern sanitation, and also 25 hostels of wood and 29 of brick, many convertible into houses, of which they would form over 250,
I now come to the part to which I wish to draw particular attention in connection with what. I said just now in regard to Gateshead. It goes on:
The inhabitants were provided with all the amenities of the average country town—indeed, in some respects with more. There were churches of almost every denomination, cinema theatres, institute halls with billiard rooms, large dancing halls, playing fields, bowling green, lawn tennis courts, shops, a hank, post office, central kitchen, bakery, laundry, and washhouses, a hospital, and a maternity home. Many of these are not in use at the present time, but the buildings are there and could be reopened when wanted.
If that could be done in the organisation of employment during the period of the War, what could you do if you organised the present 1,360,000 odd unemployed at present parading your streets in the big industrial towns? What could you do with this labour were you in the mind to utilise it for the betterment of the community?
I am asking the Government if they will do this. I came by an Employment Exchange in Walworth Road this morning where hundreds of men and women of my class, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, were going in and out for their unemployment benefit—their dole, as you say. Could they not be better employed? That is the question we are putting to you, and we believe that this Bill if taken seriously into consideration by every Member of this House, if Members put their best into it, could be brought to be of useful service for the good of the general community.
This Bill appears to me to be rather like a plum pudding. There is a great deal in it for everybody, and Members, to whatever party they belong, may find something to their taste. It is also like a plum pudding in another respect, namely, that it has great keeping qualities. I seem to remember this Bill last year, and, from certain internal evidence, it might have been in this House more than once before in various ways. As it is such an omnium gatherum Bill, it is impossible to take up any definite attitude towards it, unless one happens to be a promoter. There are good things in it, and there are bad things in it, and, in my opinion, the bad things very much outweigh the good ones. But I should like to say something, not only about the bad ones, but also about a good one, which appears to me to be a matter that ought to be mentioned in this House with emphasis and interest. First, as to the tendencies to over-centralisation which are seen in the heaping on the Ministry of Labour of all kinds of functions which are at present divided between the Central Government and all forms of Local Government. I do not want to enter into this point in very great detail, except to say that this Bill, born some years ago, is now out-of-date, that there is a fashion in politics and in the ideas of Government, and that some years ago, just at the end of the War, centralisation was very much in vogue. We all thought then that great things could be accomplished for the nation by centralising this and everything. Happily that vogue passed, and we are now strong against centralisation. We hope to accomplish our political ends by other and better means, but year after year the Labour party have come forward with an obsession in their mind from which they cannot get away, namely, a very high degree of confidence in a bureaucracy in London. I leave that simply with the protest that in this House, or any House this nation is likely to elect in the near future, such a policy of over-centralisation is bound to be up-popular, bound to be judged unwise, and bound to fail.
Centralisation is not the only thing in this Bill. By a curious coincidence, it contains proposals for a very remarkable degree of decentralisation—a kind of decentralisation with which I will say frankly I sympathise very much. My one quarrel with the Ministry of Labour is that at present it is a highly centralised bureaucracy with off-shoots and branches all over the country. That is one aspect of government, but the complementary aspect which the Ministry of Labour has yet to work out is to set up in the provinces, in the boroughs and counties, autonomous statutory local authorities, to take over, as far as possible, those functions which it discharges bureaucratically at the present time, and on the whole from London. The proposal in this Bill to make local councils the authorities for the purposes of unemployment, and to enable them to appoint unemployment committees, appears to me to be almost wholly good. It is the tendency of the time to balance by local bodies created by law having the power of the purse and having the power of policy—to balance by them the concentration of power in London in the hands of the bureaucracy, and from that point of view I welcome the provisions proposed in Part II of this Bill in favour of local employment committees. I should point out to the Government—and I think it is a point they ought to answer—that a year or two ago an important Committee, of which Mr. George Barnes was chairman, appointed to consider the whole question of the employment exchanges, recommended, among other things, that the voluntary committees at present acting in an advisory capacity to the exchanges, should be magnified, given more to do, given more power, placed upon a statutory basis and brought into the working constitution of the country. I wish here and now, and apropos of this Clause and Bill, to urge that upon the Government as a desirable thing, as a thing that would be welcome to those who have been doing this work so far, as a thing which is, scientifically speaking, along the lines of political development, which would transfer, as far as is safe and practicable, to local autonomous bodies, powers which, when first invented, were held by bureaucracies in London, but which are far better exercised by representative bodies drawing their power from the people among whom they work.
Perhaps the most out-of-date thing, the most false thing, in the whole Bill is the proposal in Sub-section (2) of Clause 16 about everything over a penny rate being paid by the central power. It was the principle of Dr. Addison's Bill that the Central Government should supply all the money for the housing policy, apart from a penny rate. I think it would be very hard to devise a plan more likely to encourage extravagance and waste among those local bodies. I think that not only this House, but the whole nation, has come to the conclusion that that plan was wrong, that it led to waste, and that it is a plan to which the nation ought never to return. If we look at it in a general way, it means that, out of general taxation, all kinds of local purposes are to be paid for. Look at it a little more in detail, and you find that the local employment committee proposed to be set up by this Bill is going to have the handling of public money from here, and that this House is not really going to have control over the spending of that money. Our function is to be to raise the money, to collect, by a thousand rivulets, the stream of gold all over the country, and then to send it all over the country again, in order that other persons—not ourselves—may spend it. I am not going to deny that there is a great deal to be said for such action by the. Government in certain respects, but the method which is proposed in this Bill appears to me to be wholly unsatisfactory, carried to extremes, and quite unsalutary for the nation. In a general way I wish to make my protest against the theory of this circulation of money by London, to be raised and administered by a bureaucracy here, and then sent down to the regions of the country. There is a precedent for doing that in a small measure, but the tendency here is to do it to a large amount under pressure brought to bear upon the Government of the day from hon. Members in a certain quarter of the House. That tendency is a wasteful tendency because it means the maintenance of a large bureauracy to manage the system and the pool up here and the sending of the money to the various regions of the country. I make my protest against that thoroughly wasteful method of finance.
Lastly, it seems to me as one reads this Bill carefully that you find a certain compulsion in it of a very important kind. There is going to be compulsion in your employment exchanges. The right of the work-people to work or maintenance carries with it that which is inseparable from full-blown socialism, namely, industrial conscription. Let me put it in this way: The past history of mankind in its movement to freedom, emancipation, and progress has been from what is called status to contract. "Status" means that a man born into a certain rank of society is fed, cared for, and made to work, and is under a certain servitude more or less tolerable to him and providing him minimum conditions. "Contract" means the release of the man from that, that the man establishes himself as a free individual, able to insist upon his rights, able to make free contracts and arrangements with his fellow man, able to stand upon his own feet. That has been the movement towards progress. In this Bill we take the contrary direction and seek to return from contract to status. This Bill sets up a new servitude for the working classes, for it follows that if a man is kept alive by the State and housed and fed he can be made to work. Some may like that, but I am perfectly persuaded that the people of this nation would find that kind of thing intolerable. The two, support and servitude, go together in theory, and, indeed, if that theory be adopted, and placed upon the Statute Book in a Bill like this, the practice will come.
I dislike the clear tendency of this-Bill to throw upon the central State the whole burden of reconciling working-class people to unemployment, the whole burden of making unemployment more or less—very often less—tolerable to them. That is a false line to take. There is a far deeper and better basis to be found than that. Let us think what work is—hard enough, long enough, and tedious enough, but yet the thing that brings men and women together and makes them a team, that sets up a close and intimate, and, on the whole, a friendly relationship among them. It is something which makes them all part of one whole, and wherever you find work it seems to me that there is a better moral basis than that provided in this Bill for the relief of unemployment. The true line of advance is to say to employers and to men, "you ought to be brethren in your work." [An HON. MEMBER "What about the employers"?] You ought to have co-operation. There ought to be the co-operative spirit in work. There ought to be a degree of comradeship which is prepared to elaborate and to live up to certain moral obligations, and among the people who work closely together there ought to be a willingness to plan, and intelligence to plan well, so that within the scheme of that common work the man who is at a disadvantage shall have help given to him without coming to the State. I say that this spirit of working together ought to be a cure for this great evil of unemployment. For my part I reject the theory that the Central State, or the State in any way, has to do the whole of that great task. I insist for my part that the moral feelings that come with work, the moral relationship that work sets up and the spirit of comradeship and mutual help must be made to accomplish for the working classes in respect to unemployment what this Bill seeks to do.
I do not think there is the slightest quarrel with the subject-matter of the Bill which we have under consideration this morning. I was extremely interested to hear the case made by the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) in the broad survey that he made of the Bill. I must, however, confess that I was amazed, when I remembered the very helpful literary contribution that the hon. Member himself has made in respect to the question of wages, to hear the practical application he made in the Bill we have before us of his helpful contribution to economic literature.
I do not claim to have the academic qualifications that he may possess, nor yet those of my hon. Friend who has just spoken (Mr. Murray), but I wish to speak
here to-day purely as a plain business man, with a definite and distinct moral responsibility in respect to one's own employés. I do not for a single moment want to put on a low basis or a low consideration the rights and responsibilities—and I should say responsibilities more than rights—that we have in respect of our employés. Were this a suitable time and a proper occasion I could give definite proof how and in what fashion in my county, the County Palatine at any rate, these responsibilities are being accepted by employés who are not only employés, but employers themselves. We listened to both introducer and seconder of the Bill, expecting as usual in a Second Reading speech that they would take the different clauses and deal with them, but I noticed that they absolutely ignored the separate detail work contained in the Bill and spoke only vaguely and generally thereon. I think it would be wise and proper if hon. Members would glance at one or two of the clauses. Let me refer first to Clause 3, which deals with the central authority in respect to Part I. It reads:
(1) In order, as far as may be practicable, to maintain at an approximately constant level the national aggregate demand for labour, both by private employers and by public Departments, and thereby prevent irregularity of employment, the Minister of Labour, acting in consultation with the several Departments ordering works or services, shall from time to time advise the Treasury how the various works and services can best be organised and apportioned among the different seasons of each year and spread over different years in order to regularise the national aggregate demand for employment.
When I read that Clause, I am left wondering first, whether it is suggested that full-blooded socialism shall obtain, or whether it shall be the happy mean found in guild socialism, or the still less dangerous types of that form of socialism. If it be the full-blooded type, then I would like, to know how the central authority may function until the whole mass of the body politic has been brought to that cosmic state in which only they are able to accept it. If it be a belated brand of guild socialism I would like to refer them to the right hon. baronet the Member for Swansea (Sir A. Mond) and to a consideration of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who led a debate in respect of that type of thought a few days ago. Hon. Members must recollect that it is a practical impossibility to apply that clause
to such sections of industry as farming. How or in what fashion is it possible to regularise as shown in this Clause the greatest industry in this country, namely, that of agriculture. And when one takes for example the great cotton industry, with all its international ramifications, it is impossible, were this Bill capable of national, imperial or international application, so to regularise the cotton trade by the measure as to secure that unemployment shall be completely eliminated.
Take another illustration, the engineering trade. That again is an international industry. It must be remembered by hon. Gentlemen opposite that to-day the breadth of the world is about one-sixteenth of a second. The League of Nations in regard to State affairs and the life of nations very rightly considers that there are occasions when it is possible the international may be sane and the national may be insane. I suggest to the mover of this Bill that in regard to the engineering industry, it is impossible to deal by a Bill like this in a water-tight compartment with employés equally with the employers such a competitive international trade as engineering. I could instance other sections of industry in which such a possibility as is adumbrated in Clause 3 is absolutely impossible, and it can only be applied under a full-blooded system of socialism, which I assert means confiscation, and more rather than less unemployment. There are other sections in respect of Part I worthy of consideration. We are told in Clause 4 in the latter part of it that:
A national aggregate demand to be maintained, as far as may be possible, of labour of all kinds at an approximately uniform level.
I suggest that neither the Mover nor the Seconder of this Bill has adumbrated any system whereby uniformity can possibly obtain. Hon. Members of this House are perfectly cognisant that trade and commerce has the most delicate balance of any system in our midst to-day, and the very breath or suspicion of a strike or of difficulties arising in the labour world has a definite bearing on the question of demand. I very definitely assert that there is no provision in this portion of the Bill dealing with the very sensitive psychology of trade either from the employers'
standpoint or from the standpoint of the employés and consumers. Before it is possible to take such a Bill as this in practical life in respect of industry we must have some type of thermometer which will deal with the sensitiveness of trade which is so essential. Now I will consider very shortly a portion of subsection (2) of Clause 5 where we read:
To enter into engagements with such workmen through or with the approval of an employment exchange and at no other place, and may render liable to a fine not exceeding five pounds any person who may be summarily convicted of any contravention of the said order of every such offence.
I wonder if in the history of this country or even during the War when Government Departments were given most tyrannical powers there was ever then a power of such a tyrannous nature as that which is applied to a responsible official in respect to the working of this Bill. Such a principle would be impossible to apply in domestic employment, and I suggest that in respect of general industry or even in domestic labour affairs such a principle as that would make impossible the running of industry in the whole country.
During the speech of the Mover of the Second Reading of this Bill, I interjected a question, and asked if the hon. Member could give us any idea whatever of the cost of the introduction and application of this very extraordinary measure, either locally or nationally. I suggest that when we consider such an enormous alteration in respect to the industrial life of the nation—and after all the bread-and-butter life of the nation is the main consideration, because it is the main issue of our lives—it would be an inquitious and an improper thing to make any such possibility of change as that suggested by this Bill without giving some well-tried and perfectly grounded financial argument which would show that there was no unnecessary pressure of taxation either locally or nationally, but such a result as would fructify industry not only nationally and imperially but internationally as well. Please refer to Clause 9 where in sub-section (1) it is provided that:
The Minister of Labour shall establish and maintain in such districts as he thinks fit, such institutions, including receiving houses for temporary accommodation and day and residential colonies as he shall deem requisite.
I very distinctly suggest that it is not courteous to this House for an hon.
Member introducing such a Bill as this, or for the seconder of the Measure, to pass that provision over without any explanation as to how it is going to be done. Both employers and employed are now struggling to provide houses for the people, and yet we are asked, under this Bill, to face a demand for certain types of houses which are neither homes nor any portion of the manfacturing process. We must get down to what I will call "brass tacks" in regard to industry and trade to plainer common sense when unproductive, costly, wasteful, extravagant theories like these are propounded. Part 1 of the Bill deals with the provision of houses and accommodation as also with the training of different sections of men and their transfer from one trade to another, but in the case of these men with generations of certain types of craftmanship behind them to deal with such a class as this in the way suggested is I assert quite impracticable, and it is a method so undigested and impossible of attainment that I do not think that to put it forward without any clear argument or experience is treating this House with the courtesy which the House deserves. Now let us take Clause 9, sub-section (2).
Admission to or attendance at any such institutions shall be voluntary; and no person shall be prevented from leaving any such institution at any time.
I would like to know, in respect to organisation, how and in what fashion either a local or national authority is going to function successfully as trainers in varying types of industry if people are to walk in and out as they please. I suggest that hon. Members, employés and responsible leaders of trades unions are accepting a very grave and grievous responsibility if they support such an unsatisfactory and theoretical method as is applied by sub-section (2) of Clause 9. I ask whether any trade union in the country would permit such to obtain in their crafts? I do not, however, want to deal in detail with each one of these sub-sections, though it is possible to deal with most of them in like manner. I do wish hon. Members on the benches opposite to agree that the employer, who takes a responsibility and risk (so large in trade to-day) that neither the State nor any Government Department dare take (for they the Government are the trustees of the people), has no right to be traduced and prostituted as he would be were the application of such a Bill possible in this
country. Remember also that to-day, more so than at any time in the history of the country, the employé is now also employer. All honour to his thrift, enterprise and effort.
Hon. Members have a right to ask, "What, then, are the suggestions which you would put before the House for the elimination of that great canker of unemployment in our midst?" The first and most vital necessity for the elimination of unemployment is more definite co-operation between employé and employer; and I say, with a great amount of pride, that in the cotton industry we have done more to solve that problem than any other industry in the country, because the employés themselves own the mills and the great products of one of the great exporting industries of this country. I say that definitely and distinctly, for I know that of which I speak, that seven-eighths of the capital—or as the hon. Member who seconded the Bill calls it, "the counters" (but I prefer the word "capital")—of the cotton industry is owned by the men and women who work in the mills. If we in this country are to maintain our high status as leaders in industry, if we are to carry forward the wonderful responsibility of the greatest industrial nation which the world has ever seen or known, if we are to carry still forward the splendid name of high craftsmanship, it must in essence be by co-partnership, which will help to solve not only many of the difficulties which obtain in industry, but also the problem of strengthening production, increasing output, and securing standardisation, whilst yet bringing more work for the worker, to retain his soul, and to know that he is not merely a portion of the machine, but that he is something greater and nobler than a "hand" or a pawn in a great game, that he or she is a distinctly relative, coherent, and counting factor in that which is produced. If hon. Members in any section of the House will introduce a Bill which could be applied in greater detail and which would bind together all relevant sections of industry of any kind, I for one would back it to the very utmost of my capacity.
Secondly: If those great sections of international labour conferences, under the League of Nations as well as certain sections of the great craft and trade unions—I am not speaking of the Third International, but of sane, level trade unionism to be found in every portion of the world—can get the international consideration whereby the yellow and coloured races may have their opportunity of a standard of comfort equal to our own, then, I say, without any hesitancy, there is going to be a brighter outlook for labour. I suggest that there must be that worldwide scientific consideration in which the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) has taken a very prominent part, that psychological, fiscal and sociological consideration universally, if we are to eliminate unemployment from the world. That is the second essential, and here is the third. I do not know whether I shall be in order, but I suggest that a great lowering of taxation more than we are yet getting from my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would definitely help to eliminate unemployment.
I suggest that the intricacies of finance are such that we desire the most helpful support from every section on the front bench, equally as we do the co-operation of employé and employer. The last consideration which I want to urge is the carrying forward of the system and method which has obtained in regard to transport, for the purposes of cheapening our production. We have to-day the most wonderful system and method of transport, if it be efficiently organised, of any country in the world. We have coast transport, river transport, great canal transport; aviation is going forward under the sympathetic consideration of the Government front bench; and I suggest that, if our transport were organised more efficiently, we should be able to face the terrible competition from low-priced labour abroad.
There has been unemployment from the commencement of the world, and I for one say that it can be solved, given the right will and purpose in all sections of the community. If we are sincere it can be eliminated, but, if there is to be complete elimination of unemployment, there must be on the part of those who are called capitalists—and the workers are capitalists just as much as those who, as the Seconder suggested, have the "tokens"—more consideration for scientific application in industry itself. We ought to have a nearer balancing of our great universities and our great technical schools in regard to industry. I would that the man who shaved me or cut my hair had the highest academic degree it is possible to obtain. Why should the professions alone have the specialisation of university education? Standardisation must come. Standardisation is a policy, and we have to face it, but with it we owe a responsibility to the employé. He rightly feels that his soul is something above the machine which he works and commands. I, for one, shall welcome, on the part of the Minister of Education, a further and more purposeful application of the Fisher Act, so that we may, indeed, get a nearer co-operation, a nearer comradeship, not only between the worker and the employer, but also between the different aspects of education, so that, in addition to the academic, we may have the practical applications of education both psychological, social, and physiological, as also international education through the channels of the League of Nations, each factor playing its part in the elimination of one of the greatest and most foul diseases we have, namely, that of unemployment.
When a similar Bill to this was introduced in the last Parliament, I felt it my duty to vote for it, and I have never since had any reason to regret the vote that I then gave. I propose also to-day to give my vote in favour of the Measure which is now before the House. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) on using his opportunity to-day to bring forward a Measure so vital to the interests of the country. There are no two questions at the present moment which are more disturbing than the question of housing and the question of unemployment, and I am very glad that the same week finds the House of Commons considering both of those two vital problems. I feel in regard to them, as it seems to me, that France is feeling in regard to Germany. France needs security against German invasion. The tenant needs security against becoming houseless, and the worker needs security against becoming unemployed. "Security," therefore, is the great word to-day which, in foreign matters and in home matters, we have got to consider if we are going to make our country stable and to make any real progress, and it is because I believe that my hon. Friend has this object in view that I am prepared to support the Measure which he has introduced.
He does not claim that it is a perfect Measure. The Government themselves introduced a Housing Bill earlier in the week, and I voted for it, not because I think it is a perfect Measure, for I think it is very imperfect, and I hope to see it very largely improved in Committee. Just in the same way, I am not prepared to say that this present Bill is a perfect Measure, but I am prepared to support the Second Reading, so that it may be fully considered in Committee and improved from the standpoint of the very object that it has in view. I cannot, therefore, quite understand the attitude taken by the hon. Member for Royton (Sir W. Sugden). When I contrast the proposals of my hon. Friend who introduced this Measure with the suggestions made by the hon. Member for Royton, I am amazed at the moderation of my hon. Friend, and at the astounding ideas of the hon. Member who has just spoken. It seems to me that my hon. Friend, in moving this Bill, is facing the actual situation much more practically than the hon. Member who has just spoken. The matter is already being faced to some extent by the Government. Everything that is included in this Bill is being done to some extent, and, as I understand this Bill, my hon. Friend recognises that the matter has to be faced, but that it is being done badly, and he desires in this Measure to try to do it better. It is a regularisation of the methods already largely in practice, and its object is to improve them and adapt them to our actual conditions. There is nothing revolutionary about it. It seems to me to be one of the most common-sense ways—with all the differences we may have in Committee—of trying to face a very difficult situation.
The question has already been raised in reference to the matter of national and local responsibility. Having taken part a good deal in municipal affairs. I realise what municipal responsibilities and burdens are, and I respectfully urge upon the House that the burdens which are now being cast upon the localities are altogether beyond their power to bear. I think we are bound to recognise that unemployment is a national matter, that it has got to be regarded from a national standpoint, and that, therefore, it is wrong to cast so great and grievous a burden upon the localities which are so unfairly situated in that respect. Therefore, I consider that an attempt, such as this, to face a practical problem in a practical way, does not demand immediate acceptance of all its proposals, but it does rightfully demand a fair consideration of them by giving a Second Reading to the Bill, so that there may be an opportunity of considering these matters further in the Committee stage. The proposals, as I have said, are not revolutionary. They only represent an attempt to regularise and make more practical what is already to some extent being done at present, and, I cannot therefore, understand the objections which are being raised to them. I sincerely trust that the House to-day, being a different House from that of last year, will face this problem in a different and more practical way, and that the Minister of Labour will give us a different speech this afternoon from the one given by the late Minister of Labour on the last occasion. I trust that he will face the practical proposals of this Measure, and see whether it is not possible to allow the Bill to go through. Then, in Committee, we can discuss all its details and face the problem in a way that will be of some service to the community. The object is to do something, and to do something now. As one who, in a great industrial centre, is humiliated every day of his life when he sees hundreds of his fellow men willing to work, wanting to work, yet with no opportunity for working—it is the most humiliating sight I ever had to see, and my heart is ever saddened by it—I welcome any proposal from any quarter, whether from Labour, from the Government, or from the Opposition, which in some way attempts practically to face this problem. I know that the claim is made that it is wrong to attempt to promote a Bill which used to be called the "Right to Work Bill." But I have never had any objection to the term "right to work." I have infinitely more sympathy with the worker who demands the right to work than I have with the man who makes a great fortune out of an economic method of using finance, by getting profits without work. It seems to me, therefore, that the object in view is a right and fair one. The charge that I constantly hear made in different parts of the country is that men want to get money without doing work. The object of this Bill is to give them work, so that they may be paid for it, and not receive doles. Because it is a practical Measure, striving to promote practical ends, I shall, as I did in the last Parliament, vote for it very heartily.
Before I come to the very interesting speeches of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Second Reading—to whom the House always listens with the greatest pleasure—and of the hon. Gentleman who seconded, I should like to say one word about the speech of the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. G. Thorne), who has just sat down. To the extent that I am correct in agreeing with the hon. Member for Royton (Sir W. Sugden) in thinking that the system advocated by this Bill could not function except under a full-blooded system of Socialism, I was at first surprised to hear the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton say that he was going to support this Bill, because of the very distinguished position he has held in the party, for which, I think, he has been one of the chief Whips. But I remember, I think, that not so very long ago he gave it out publicly that, as between him and what he believed, and as between the Labour Party and what they believed, there was a very little difference. I also remember, which caused me to have less surprise, that there are many members of the Party with which he is associated here who do believe in some form or other of nationalisation. In fact, I think the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), and the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson), have both put their names on the back of the Bill which is to nationalise land. Therefore, if I disagree with the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton in opposing the Bill, I do so, first, because it is part and parcel of a scheme of socialism; and, secondly, because I do not agree with the system of bureaucracy which is embodied in the Bill.
My great disappointment in the speech of the Mover of the Bill was that he did not go on much longer. He dealt, in the most interesting way, with the generalities of the situation—with unemployment as a whole; with, if I may so call it, the international aspect of unemployment; and with the international economic co-operation—I think those were the words he used—which had proved to be such a success in Austria. I waited in vain, however, for him to go through the Clauses of the Bill, and to tell us what they meant. If I may give him an example, when we come to Clause 9, and look at the side note, we find these words:
Provision of maintenance and training for unemployed persons.
It may be that my study of the Bill has been very imperfect, but I cannot find where it is stated in it what the system of training is going to be, nor, indeed, in what capacity anybody is going to be trained. There is another item in Clause 15 to which I should very much have liked the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) to have addressed his mind. Clause 15 says:
When any unemployed person has applied to any Employment Exchange for employment, and no work has been found for him, and he has not meanwhile been admitted to any institution, the Council shall, through its employment committee, take into consideration at the next ensuing meeting the case of every person so reported, and it shall be the duty of the Council—(a) to provide such person with suitable employment under the provisions of this Act; or
I wanted to hear the hon. Member address his mind to that word "suitable," because, if this Bill is going to find work in, say, three out of four cases, or in 90 out of 100 cases, and not maintenance, it is deserving of far greater consideration and support than if, as I think, in the vast majority of cases, it will find maintenance instead of work. How are you to find suitable work? Does not that at once mean that where you are going to find the work you have got to find the housing? If you are going to build great canals or undertake great road construction, such work is essential, and it is probably essential that that work will have to be undertaken in districts where there are not many houses empty. If you are going to find suitable employment, you will have, at the same time, to find suitable housing.
I think the hon. Member ought to have told the House some more of the details of this Bill. Clause 15, Sub-section (1) (b), if I may paraphrase it, says that within three days of a man having applied for work, if work cannot be given to him, he is to have such maintenance
as the medical officer of health of the council may certify to be necessary to maintain such unemployed person and his dependants in a state of physical efficiency.
—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—yes, but I am asking for information. Does that really mean maintenance at the trade union rate for himself—plus how much for his wife and children?
It does not say anything. It simply says
such maintenance as the medical officer of health of the council may certify to be necessary
There is no saying that one medical officer of health will not, in his assessment, think that a certain sum is necessary—of course, I suppose the maintenance can only be paid in money, and not in orders on the shops—while in a different part of the country you will have another height of maintenance. I ask the Mover of the Bill if it is not the case that what the Bill really seeks to achieve is the giving of the standard trade union rate of wages to the men for whom work has not been found?
The whole object of the Bill is to provide adequate maintenance for unemployed people. Our case is simply this, that it is infinitely better to do that, and to maintain their physical efficiency, rather than to let their physical efficiency down, and have to pay rates afterwards to get it up again, under the public health authorities.
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman, but I do not think he has contradicted my assumption. First of all, the Bill seeks to give the man work and, although I agree that the necessary part is that that work must be suitable, yet, if that work be not forthcoming—and I submit that suitable work will not, in three cases out of four, be forthcoming—then you are going to pay, in maintenance, at the trade union rate. Here I quote in assistance the speech of the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Bill. In addition to the man's maintenance, you will pay such maintenance for the wife and family as the medical officer may suggest. [HON. MEMBERS: "A retaining fee."] In any case taking into consideration Clause 9, you are going to put up institutions for the unemployed man, or permit him to enter institutions, in which he and his family can live and be trained until such time, presumably, as they can get work. May I try to put in a sentence the reason why—although, if I may say so metaphorically, I take my hat off to the intentions of the Bill—speaking with sincerity and conviction. I believe that the remedy proposed would make unemployment not better, but worse? I do not want to contravene the ruling which Mr. Deputy-Speaker has given, but the whole point is this. If I am right in my argument up to now, in saying that in three cases out of four you will be giving maintenance and not work, then, to that extent, you will be increasing the taxation of the country. In proportion as you increase the taxation, so the unemployment must become worse, and it simply will be going in a vicious circle. When you look at the title of the Bill, which is "a Bill to prevent unemployment," I hold that so far from preventing unemployment it will enormously increase the expenses of the central administration of the local rates and, above all, the contribution from the taxpayer. Clause 16 says that the local rates are only to suffer a burden up to 1d. and that after that the rest is to be provided by the Treasury. One hon. Member drew an analogy with the Addison housing scheme. Under that the Minister of Health had a certain amount of control. The plans of the houses had to go before the Minister. Here there is no control by the Treasury at all. I think hon. Members opposite purposely mean that there shall be no control in order that whoever cannot get work shall have a really good maintenance for himself and his family.
I am as anxious that he should not starve as any hon. Members here. I am trying to show that the remedy proposed will not prevent him from starving. The Seconder of the Bill talked about the organisation of unemployment and said that what he stood for was the full trade union rate of wages. A member of the Labour party told the Minister of Labour yesterday that Members on this side really only dealt out sympathy to the unemployed. That is their view, that we are not practical in wanting to help them, or in doing something to help them. I want to try to show that we have as much sincerity and as much conviction in dealing with the unemployed and in wanting to do things for the best for them as any hon. Member opposite. If it is true that we take no account of unemployment except in so far as we are prepared to extend sympathy, if it is true that the Labour party and the organized unemployed are the only people who have a right to speak on behalf of the unemployed and unemployment, as the hon. Members would have us believe, how is it that I stand where I do now? Ninety-seven per cent. of my constituents, I suppose, are working men. I have a purely working class community. Why is it that I have a majority of over 6,000? It cannot be that everyone agrees that the Labour party have the only right to speak for the unemployed.
Nor can it be that the Labour party are the only party whose solution for unemployment is the right one. Unemployed working men and working men generally want three things. First of all they want work, secondly they want fair remuneration for that work, and thirdly they want to see before them an opening for getting on—progress and advancement—and given those three, all of which they can get under private enterprise, they will do far better than under this Bill, which will increase taxation, which will in three cases out of four not give them work at all but seek for a short time to give them maintenance, and which cannot succeed and can only function if the whole full-blooded system of Socialism is to be introduced into this country.
We have had from the benches opposite several speeches in criticism of the Bill, but only one hon. Member has had the courage to state an alternative policy. His alternative to our Bill was greater co-operation between the worker and the employer. That proposal indicates the frame of mind of many hon. Members opposite and their attitude towards this question. I do not doubt their sincerity, but they have wrongly diagnosed the problem. If there had been the utmost co-operation between workers and employers during the period since the War, we should still have been in the trough of the trade depression to-day. If you look back over the periods of unemployment before the War, co-operation between employers and workers would not have eliminated those periods of bad trade. In point of fact periods of unemployment go far deeper and need a far deeper and more thorough going solution than you are ever likely to get by any kind of co-operation. You may say co-operation is beautiful, but it does nothing to solve the problem of unemployment or to assist its prevention in any way. I gathered also that the hon. Member for Royton (Sir W. Sugden) has a pathetic belief in some vague kind of international co-operation for dealing with this problem, but the only kind of international co-operation which is likely to deal adequately with unemployment and to prevent unemployment in any measure carries with it a large measure of that full-blooded Socialism which appears to have frightened hon. Members opposite. You, Sir, have ruled out of order references to the lowering of taxation. It may also be ruled out on the ground that it is quite irrelevant when dealing with the question of the prevention of unemployment. The hon. Member suggested that we ought to have mere scientific organisation and more education. I am not clear what he means by scientific organisation. If he means what I mean he ought to be on these benches, but I am inclined to think he means something different and that he is placing emphasis upon the importance of education. There is no Member in this House who believes more fervently in the importance of education than I do, but it is not a solution of the problem of unemployment. You can educate your community to-day to the full capacity of their powers, but you would still have the big problem of unemployment to face.
My main purpose in rising was to endeavour to get from hon. Gentlemen opposite, or from the Ministry of Labour, some answer to a definite question. I want to know whether hon. Members opposite and whether Members of the Government believe that employment can or cannot be prevented. We assert that it can. As far as I am able to ascertain, the hon. Member for Royton believes that it can be solved, but he would solve it on lines that would leave it as insistent as ever before. Unemployment is a normal feature of our industrial system. We are apt to forget in this present period of trade depression, due to many complicated causes arising out of the War, and out of bad statesmanship, that unemployment is an ever present evil in industry in this country in normal times. We are apt to forget also that unemployment as an integral feature of industry is a modern problem. It came with the rise of the modern capitalistic system of industry. Up to the present no really serious attempt has been made to deal with it. Employers of labour, captains of industry, paid far more handsomely than Ministers of the Crown, have not been able to handle this great problem, which is inextricably interwoven into the structure of the industrial system of this country. The result is that this country and other countries lose enormously because employers of labour have so far found themselves unable successfully to grapple with the problem.
The hon. Member for Royton and the hon. and gallant Member for Buckingham (Captain Bowyer) raised the question of cost. Nobody can say what the cost of the Bill will really be, but what I do submit is that if you take any reasonable estimate and multiply it by 50 it would not be within a reasonable distance of the cost of unemployment at the present time. The biggest cost of unemployment is not the mere waste of money, it is the fact that unemployment means that men and plant are standing idle, doing nothing. During the last two years, we have lost 1,000,000,000 working days. It is a matter of arithmetic for hon. Members to work that out.
I have included the lock-out in the coal industry. The loss of production through enforced idleness of workpeople through unemployment is enormously greater than the amount due to industrial disputes, whether strikes or lock-outs. If you reduce the 1,000,000,000 working days which have been lost by the number of days lost during the coal stoppage, it still remains as a colossal monument of the loss of productive labour on the part of the workers of this country. What is the cost of our Bill compared with that enormous leakage in productive capacity? It is nothing. During the last two years, in unemployment insurance in this country we have distributed something like £105,000,000. During the last two years also we have also distributed about £100,000,000 in Poor Law relief, and in the same period the trade unions out of their own funds have distributed to their members £15,000,000, so that you have in a period of two years an expenditure for maintenance alone of something like £220,000,000. By no stretch of the imagination could you make the cost which would arise as the result of the Bill before the House anything approaching that sum. That leaves out of account the expenditure which we have undertaken at the eleventh hour on relief work and through the Unemployment Grants Committee and in other ways
Another item of cost is the effect of unemployment on the health, physique and vitality of the people. The Child Welfare Committee of the Medical Research Council in its investigations into working-class life in certain towns found "a distressing feature of underfeeding and under nutrition approaching that existing in Vienna in 1920–21." That is due to a "continual and increasing condition of underfeeding" with the result that children are now 7 to 7½ per cent. less in weight than slum children were in previous years. That is a loss which is likely to be irreparable and irretrievable, and it is a loss which occurs every time there is a period of bad trade. Add this loss to the loss of money and the loss of productive capacity, and the cost of unemployment to-day is infinitely higher than the cost of any scheme, however full-blooded, which may emanate from these benches.
The real root of unemployment lies in defective industrial organisation. It is not due to quarrels between workers and their employers; it is not due to high taxation. It is due to the fact that there is inherent in the industrial organisation of this country and of other countries a mal-adjustment and dislocation which, unless it is dealt with scientifically, inevitably results periodically in unemployment. All that we have done so far to meet it has been to deal with externals; that is to say, we have the Unemployment Insurance Scheme for what it is worth, and always when we are in the midst of a trade depression, an hysterical Government produces a few million pounds for relief work, which is too late to be of any effective value—relief works which in 90 cases out of 100 are only of service to a certain limited class of male workers. Our relief works have never done anything on any scale except for the less skilled worker, and have never done anything for the unemployed women workers
These two general proposals for unemployment insurance and belated relief works, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer with palsied fingers writing out a cheque for fear and shame, are not statesmanship. We should face this problem with a view to dealing with the maladjustments which inevitably create unemployment. There is at times a disparity between demand and supply, or rather there is at times a disparity between human needs, and the capacity of the people to satisfy those needs. Unemployment takes us into a vicious circle. Men are unemployed and become poorer, and they are, therefore, unable to satisfy their ordinary desires and needs, and as a result they put people into an ever-widening circle of unemployment. Human needs are pretty constant and steady. They go on from day to day, from month to month, and from year to year. People have to eat, they have to be clothed and housed. In the main, human needs are pretty stable and regular, and it is a question of organisation to see that those human needs are just as regularly satisfied by human labour. The Bill is not a perfect. Bill. I do not believe that it is going to solve the whole problem of unemployment. Nobody on these benches ever said that it would, but it is the beginning of a system whereby we shall be able to keep human needs and the supply of goods in something like a constant relationship.
If we do that we believe that we shall have taken some steps to deal with a very fundamental and important problem. Do the Government and hon. Members in other parts of the House believe that unemployment is a thing that cannot be prevented and controlled? Hitherto they have regarded it with a certain fatalism, as if it were inevitable. Their attitude is exactly the same as the attitude of the peasantry in the Middle Ages when the murrain came and swept their stock away. They look on it as people in the Middle Ages looked on the plague, which scientific knowledge has succeeded in driving out of our lives. We believe that, with the scientific and economic knowledge which society possesses, economic diseases which a hundred years ago it was impossible to cope with and cure are now capable of treatment. I think that mal-adjustment will always continue so long as the present industrial system holds, and I am not afraid of any measure of "full blooded Socialism" which will deal with this problem. But I do suggest that, even within this system, which I regard as wrong and which will always be going wrong, we might by organisation do something to adjust demand and supply.
I do not believe that industry itself can do it. I do not believe that happiness in a particular mill will do it. I believe that we must proceed on the lines of national organisation, and that means, therefore, that we must bring in the State. The Bill has been criticised because it brings in a centralised bureaucracy. There is a myth abroad that we on these benches appear to favour bureaucracy. We are the greatest opponents of it in Parliament. We are the people who are in revolt against bureaucracy, and if people will look at the Bill they will find, as the hon. Member for West Leeds (Mr. J. Murray) admitted, that it runs to almost excessive de-centralisation in some of its provisions. I do not believe that this problem of unemployment can be solved either by the State or by local authorities. It can only be solved, in so far as it is solved at all in the existing organisation of society, by the wholehearted co-operation of industry and of all public authorities, national and local. We regard this Bill as a contribution. We are entitled to ask hon. Members opposite, if they reject this Measure, what is their alternative? Do they throw up the sponge and protest their inability to deal with the problem? Do they say that it is bound to come up year after year? If so, I would draw their attention to the second part of the Bill. Are they prepared, if this evil is inevitable, if it is to fall upon defenceless working people and their families, to take the second proposal of guaranteeing to working people in dire circumstances honourable maintenance?
If they are not, what are they going to do about it? We want to force this big question to an issue. We want to know where we are. I am not concerned with details. I am concerned with the broad principle, how far hon. Members opposite believe that the problem is capable of solution, and if they do not believe that it is, whether they are prepared to agree with us on the principle of maintenance where workpeople are unemployed through no fault of their own. If they will accept neither of those positions, then they are putting themselves in a position which is unfortunate from their point of view, for the working people of to-day will not continue permanently to submit to the indignity and humiliation of unemployment, and to the humiliation which is inevitably associated with the cheese-paring methods of giving financial assistance. And unless hon. Gentlemen opposite will take their courage in both hands and come a little way along the road to that "full-blooded Socialism" to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers, then I can assure them that the sooner they relieve themselves of responsibility and give Members on these benches a chance to put their views into operation the better it will be for the country as a whole.
When I saw this Bill, I thought that I should be in accord with hon. Members opposite, but as one Member followed the other in the Debate I came to the conclusion that Second Reading of this Bill should be deferred for six months, because this Bill to my mind is a very ill-digested Bill. The subject is one of the greatest complication. I give my friends on the other side the greatest possible credit for giving serious attention to this problem, but outside the House I have come across many of them and they have all admitted, in various phases of unemployment, that the question is a most difficult one. I do not propose to waste time by repeating what has been said by others. But the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) raised great hopes in my breast when he mentioned shipbuilding and engineering, and the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Brotherton) again raised hopes, as I happen to be connected with industry in that district on the Tyne. This Bill deals with unemployment as if unemployment was a simple disease for which you can prescribe a dose or a pill, but as the Debate developed it became more and more clear that it is not a simple disease but a very complicated one.
The last speaker referred to the permanence of unemployment and its scientific treatment and introduced the simile of the plague in previous days. I am sure that he must feel, with me, that the problem of unemployment cannot be treated on any very simple scientific basis. He said that there should be a readjustment of supply and demand. Obviously, you can only readjust supply and demand when the demand is of the very simplest quality. If a man wants nothing more than food we can arrange to store food so that we can get a regular supply, but to my mind it is impossible to arrange to supply all the multifarious articles that the world demands at the present day with any measure of regularity. Our modern world is a most complicated system, which creates irregularity of supply and demand, and the better our scientific methods the more irregularity is created.
It is about 20 years since mechanical traction was started. Then motor cars used to break down with the greatest regularity, and were scrapped at the end of a year. Now, we make perfect machines which last many years. Consequently, when you get to a certain point you have an organisation which can produce more than there is a demand for. I would have liked to hear from the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh some practical proposal whereby there could be a constant demand for ships and engines. Such a demand we do not see now. It is most difficult in these days to adjust supply and demand. It appeared to me that the Mover and the Seconder of the Second Reading, particularly the Seconder, who comes from my own part of the country, would have advanced their cause a great deal more if they had referred in some practical way to the manner in which the Clauses were to be elaborated. They say that "suitable work should be provided." Suppose that I were a plater and wanted to be employed as a plater, but ships were not being built. I do not know what it would be possible to do with me. There was the suggestion that such a man should be put on roadmaking.
Precisely. The matter is one of modern evolution. When people bring forward a Bill like this, they should explain what they are going to do, and should not stand up and ask what has been done on the other side. My hon. Friends have made no practical proposals, but I, as a Member of Parliament and an employer, want to hear from the other side what are their proposals, for I see the difficulties.
If a pikestaff is put up it can be seen, but the Mover and Seconder gave us nothing but generalities, and plunged me into the difficulty of knowing what they meant. In a simple state of society it is quite easy to provide employment. It is possible to do as people did in past times, build great monuments such as the pyramids, and cathedrals, and so on. The surplus labour in past ages was always employed in building that which was of no particular practical utility at the moment. The problem with surplus labour to-day is how properly to employ it. I am certain that my hon. Friends opposite will come to realise, as most of us have realised, that the problem is not as simple as they think, and that it is no solution to say that we must provide "suitable work" when in fact there is no suitable work to be found. Nor is it possible to say that we should give adequate pay at recognised trade union rates of wages. Trade union wages are a fluctuating quantity and are not by any means applicable to large numbers of persons thrown out of employment since the War. It is not sufficiently realised that our present condition is due to the destruction of the War and because of the waste that was created. One hon. Member referred to the maintenance of establishments that were established during the War. All those were uneconomic establishments, set up for a special purpose to turn out, at an extraordinary high price, articles which we were forced to acquire because of the exigencies of the War.
If you give men work in our complicated system of society in manufacturing that which the world will not absorb, you will merely pile up goods with no resulting benefit whatever. As a representative of the shipbuilding industry I would ask how it is possible to stimulate the world's demand for ships, and how those who are trained in the many special details of shipbuilding are to be given employment when in fact the world does not happen to want ships, and there are more ships in the world already than the world can properly employ? That is the problem. I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite do not think that I am in any way opposed to them. There have been only two interruptions in my speech. I have always listened to hon. Members opposite, believing that however much we may disagree one always learns something from them. If one wastes time with interruptions one never gets a clear idea of what is going on. I have been in this House for a year and I have always listened to others, and I hope others will listen to me. The great necessity of the moment is that we should have a better interchange of views There is no sovereign remedy for unemployment. We can mitigate it, and cultivate a better understanding by conferring together, but the trouble is to get people together to deal with the question as a whole. This Bill requires further consideration. I shall certainly vote against it, but I hope its introduction will be the means of ventilating the subject and bringing hon. Members together for further discussion. I do not believe that a new heaven or a new earth is possible, but there can be a great deal of amelioration of our troubles from the interchange of ideas.
It gives me great pleasure to be able to support in the most whole-hearted way possible the principle which is embodied in the Labour party's Bill. I am intensely keen for the recognition in this country of the principle of the right to work. The working classes in this country will not obtain work at times when the employing class cannot make a profit out of them, unless there is some drastic compulsion used. I am not concerned with the actual provision of work so much as with the opportunity for the workers, regardless of whether they are at work or not, to have an adequate sum of money for the maintenance of their standard of life. This must not be conditional upon whether or not some individual, some syndicate, or even the State itself for the time being, shall have need of them. That principle must be clearly laid down. When this Bill goes further I hope it will be possible to introduce an Amendment for the purpose of insisting that, until such time as employment can be found at trade union rates of wages, maintenance shall be found for all the unemployed at the scale of 36s. a week for the married, whether man or woman, 30s. for the unmarried, and 15s. for those who are under the age of 18, and instead of children being priced as they are to-day at "a bob apiece" when they belong to the unemployed, that they shall be priced at 5s. apiece.
After all, we must recognise in a capitalistic society that you think in terms of commodities and as far as the capitalist is concerned, children affect him from two points of view—first whether they can grow up to be useful as profit makers and, secondly, whether they can be used in the Army to fight for their King and, what is deemed to be, but is not as yet, their country. I wish to see the principle of this Bill extended considerably further. The Communist party stands for the assertion in the State of not merely the principle of the right to work, but also the principle of the duty to work. We hold it to be the duty of everyone of sound physique, everyone between 21 and, shall we say, 60, to contribute to the production of wealth within the State, the whole product belonging only to those who work and to nobody else. I think I am on perfectly safe ground here because I believe this is a country which professes to be Christian. If I remember aright, it was said in one of the Epistles by a man whose Church stands in the centre of the City of London:
If any would not work neither should he eat.
That is the fundamental principle of Communism. It is one which I have come to this House to assert and which my party will continue to assert and to establish in this House, or elsewhere, as
the fundamental condition of the right to exist and, moreover, of the right to the franchise. We say that all social and political rights should belong to those who produce and to those who render useful social service and not to anybody else. I wish to go further. Clause 4 of this Bill provides for the establishment of works and national schemes for the purpose of giving employment. We have to consider in this respect, not merely setting men to work, but two other considerations. We must maintain these men in a sound, physical and moral state of health, and in order to do so two things are necessary. The first is either that they shall be employed, or if employment cannot be provided for them temporarily, that they shall undergo training and have educational facilities. In the second place it is essential that the unemployed shall not merely be put on relief works; not merely on temporary experiments, not merely on something which is just to keep them busy, but that they shall be employed for the purpose of reconstructing, if necessary, de novo the whole country. We have arrived at a state of affairs when it will be absolutely fatal to the continued existence of civilisation in this country to permit the present housing conditions of the people to continue and to permit the provision for public health, as it is to-day, to continue. You can have no moral advancement whatever; you can have no æsthetic advancement, no cultural advancement, unless you make a very much higher standard of education available for the masses of the people.
It is also essential that there should be in this country such facilities for young persons between the ages of 15 and 25 that they shall not have to crowd together, as they will to-morrow, 80,000 or 100,000 strong, to watch 22 paid men play football. It is essential that facilities shall be provided for every boy and girl, for every youth and maiden throughout the length and breadth of the country, to have athletic exercises, to play games such as football in winter and cricket in summer, and that there shall be exactly the same provision for every workman's child as those which were made available for the great mass of Members in this House, when they went to Eton or Harrow. We demand these things for the working class, and we are going to get these things either inside this House by constitutional and legal means or by other means—but we are going to have them. That is the position. What drove me to Communism? It was not a case of accepting it all at once; it was the conviction hammered in, year after year, that in no other way is it humanly possible to save the society in which I find myself. The governing class will not recognise, any more than any other governing class in the past has recognised, that the hour of history has struck and that they have got to go, or else Society itself has got to dissolve into chaos.
I was looking to-day through the columns of the "Times," and reading an account of a ceremony which took place yesterday a few hundred yards from here, and I noticed some beautiful words used by the Archbishop of York. I wish to say here that it is very interesting to notice the interest which the Church is taking in politics—particularly outside this country—and in the morals of other people. Are they taking an equal interest in the fact that there are at least 80,000 prostitutes, selling themselves for bread in the streets of London every night? I know that prostitution is caused by pathological as well as economic conditions, but the greater part of prostitution is caused by economic conditions. In a previous Debate, I had to say unpleasant things to the Ministry of Labour. I had to point out the fact that the inadequate amount of unemployment benefit given to working-class women is responsible for the spread of prostitution in this country. I say that is the first thing to which the Archbishop of Canterbury should direct his attention if he is a Christian man; that it is the first thing to which the Archbishop of York and Cardinal Bourne and all the other clerics should direct their attention. What have they got to do with going outside this country and preaching to other people with prostitutes at the very gates of Lambeth Palace? We are going to bring the challenge home to you in this House. You have to face this thing. We are going to stop prostitution in this country if we have got to stop you and clear the lot out in order to do it. We are going to stop our men and women dying as they are at the present time, rotting away from phthisis in tens and hundreds of thousands in
overcrowded sanatoria, or in the homes of the people themselves because the sanatoria are too full to take them. We are going to wipe out the curse of venereal disease. We know it cannot be done within your system and this is such a blight upon the progress of humanity that we will stamp you out to do it. [An HON. MEMBER: "If necessary."] If necessary, and it will be necessary. I wish to go back to those beautiful words of the Archbishop of York to which I have referred. He said:
It is a great thing that there should be in our midst one family which … makes the whole Empire kin, and helps to give to it the spirit of one family life.
"One family!" As I read these words, I thought of a case reported to me the other day by one of the Labour Councillors in my own constituency of Motherwell, and he asked me, at the first opportunity, to draw attention to it in this House. It was the case of a man, a wife, and five children, living in a part of a stable, partitioned off, and with parts of the roof open to the heavens. That is one family living in this country, and we are told that your resources are limited. I demand that your resources shall be limited to provide for that man, that wife, and those five children, before you provide an extra £15,000 for the Duke and Duchess of York. That is the human challenge we are bringing here—a human challenge and a class challenge. If I say to a man who has signed on at the employment exchange, and who has scarcely got a job for 2½ years, "When are you going to get married, Sandy?" or, "When are you going to get married, Alec?" or, "When are you going to get married, Jock?" the reply is: "What are you talking about? How can I get married? Where am I going to take my bride home to? Am I to take my bride home to a house, to a place where they have got tennis courts galore, where they have all the beautiful furniture, and every luxury is provided? No, I have got to take my wife home to one room, and probably to sleep in the same room, or even in the same bed as parents," as happens. Sometimes it is necessary for a new bridal couple to go into the same bed in the home. What chances of morality have, you under those conditions?
That is why I say that the scene that you enacted yesterday across the road was a provocation to revolution, to class struggle, and whoever is responsible for the irresponsible King—that is the theory of the Constitution, that he is not responsible for his actions, and I hope for his own credit that he is not—whoever advised the King, in a period when there are more than a million unemployed, when people are dying off, as they are to-day, because they cannot get bread, when they are selling their souls, if they have them—and you think they have, for you talk of them; the man who stands at the Table there and prays that Almighty God shall bless us and give us counsel believes that these women are the temples of the living God, but if they are the temples of the living God, how dare you let them go into prostitution? If you do believe it, practise what you preach, and do not preach to other people until you have started practising it within the realms of England Scotland—whoever, I say, advised the King, in a period like this, to line up with the landed class, to line up with the capitalist class, to line up with the rentier class, to line up with the forces of wealth and luxury and to make of none avail the propaganda of those who say that the King is above party and above class, those people should, in the interests of the realm itself, be impeached at the Bar of the House of Lords. You are, as a Ministry, responsible for giving to the Communist party and to the Communist International a piece of anti-monarchist propaganda which we are taking very good care to broadcast throughout the British Empire.
Mr. VIVIAN PHILLIPPS:
I am anxious to express my agreement with and appreciation of the course which my colleague in the representation of the City of Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) has taken in bringing this Bill before the House, and I agree also with what has fallen from some other speakers, that the support of this Measure does not necessarily involve commitment to all its details. The last speaker who addressed the House from the Government Benches, the hon. and gallant Member for Chertsey (Sir P. Richardson), said that this was a Bill which required further consideration, and then he rather astonished me by saying that he proposed to vote for its rejection on Second Reading. I think that the House would do well if it gave this Bill a Second Reading and the opportunity of being amended and improved in Committee. I support the Bill, in spite of the reproofs which were addressed a few moments ago by the hon. and gallant Member for Buckingham (Captain Bowyer) to my distinguished colleague on these benches, in whose footsteps I am endeavouring to follow, and I shall not be frightened, by his spectre of full-blooded Socialism, of any untoward or inconvenient encounter with my political chiefs.
This is a Bill which calls upon the community to face its responsibility for a vast mass of our fellow citizens, who, through no fault of their own and owing to circumstances over which they have no sort or kind of control, find themselves in the most tragic and desperate situation. It is the particular Clause in the Bill, Clause 15, which puts the duty upon the local authorities either to find employment for or to maintain those who cannot find employment in a state of physical efficiency, which attracts me to give my support to the Second Reading of this Bill this afternoon. I agree with what has been said, not only by the Mover and Seconder, but by other speakers, that the question of cost is a question which is not merely a question of money. It is a matter of enlightened self-interest to the community that we should see that those who are thrown out of work, who have desired to find employment and have been unable to secure it, should not be allowed to fall by the wayside, and it is to the advantage of the community that their physical efficiency should be maintained, for otherwise, I, for one, cannot see how they are subsequently to resume their place as effective units in the economic and industrial machine. I venture to submit that the time has gone by when this proposition of work or maintenance can be lightly brushed aside. In practice, we do it now more or less. We do it through the wrong channels. We do it without system. We do it without taking pains to prevent the necessity of doing it, and it seems to me it is much better to make a real effort to have the whole thing put in order, as I believe this Bill seeks to do.
Before we arrive at the words, which, apparently, cause so much misgiving to some hon. Members in this House, namely, "work or maintenance," the Bill seeks to set up what may be called preventive and precautionary machinery. As I read the Bill, there is to be both central and local regulation of public work, with a view to what is called equalising the labour market. Secondly, there is to be increased control over the worst kinds of casual employment. Thirdly, there are to be voluntary training centres for those who are ill-equipped for good or remunerative work, and the general purpose appears to me to have for its object the quickening of the public sense of responsibility for this difficult and complex problem. I believe that if you could get the provisions of this Bill examined and amended in Committee, you would take a large step sensibly to reduce the number of cases to which this Bill would have to be applied. Under this Bill it is only the man who has tried to get work, and who has not refused any reasonable offer, who must, in the last resort, either have work found for him, or be maintained. I believe this Bill will do more merely than alleviate the difficult problem which confronts the country to-day. I believe that if you could get its main provisions put into effective operation, it would have a very great psychological effect in steadying the general temper of our industrial world to-day, by giving to the workers of industry that greater sense of security of which my hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. G. Thorne) and other hon. Members have spoken.
I said that the cost was not a matter merely of money or cash figures. No one, I suppose, can say what is the cost of the present system in the moral and spiritual deterioration which it involves, and the physical inefficiency which it bequeaths to succeeding generations of our people. We have been told that these proposals have been discussed on previous occasions in this House. I have read one or two of the Debates, and I notice that they have been rejected either on the ground of expense or on the ground that they involve what is called full-blooded Socialism. I am not going to be frightened by that. I believe there is less likelihood of this Measure being rejected this afternoon on these grounds, because there is a very different atmosphere here to-day from what there was in previous Parliaments. I hope that atmosphere will find an adequate reflection in the decision which this House will give to-day, and I shall certainly give my full and ungrudging support to the proposal that this Bill be read a Second Time.
This is the first occasion on which I have ventured to address the House, and I therefore ask for its indulgence. If I may be permitted to make one observation on the speech of the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Newbold), it would be to say that what drove him to Communism, drove a good many of us on these benches in the opposite direction, because we wore anxious that things, bad as they were, should get no worse, and because we believed that the lines which animate the leaders on this side, if they are slow lines, are the right lines. The title of this Bill is attractive—"Prevention of Unemployment." I am afraid that there will not be lacking those who will be ready to jump at the opportunity of placarding the walls—at any rate, in my constituency—if I vote against this Bill, with the statement that I am voting against the prevention of unemployment. But I was glad to see that the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), who introduced this Bill, made no secret that it was not going entirely to prevent unemployment. This Bill seems to raise a number of very large questions. Several of them have been dealt with already by other hon. Members, but I should like to refer to one which was raised in the speech of the hon. Member who introduced the Bill. Ever since I first heard the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh some years ago in a different place from this, deliver an address, I have always listened to whatever he has got to say with the greatest respect and attention. He said that the principle which ran through this Bill was that there should be organisation and regularisation of the demand for labour. He said that there are, as a result of the War, heavy arrears of remunerative work which could be utilised at the present time to deal with unemployment. He referred to dislocation. That seems to me to raise a very important question as to how much, since the War, has the labour market been—if I may use the term—dislocated.
May I give one instance of what I am trying to show? The constituency which I represent, one of the divisions of Hull—there is more than one Member for Hull—has a shipbuilding industry, engineering works and is, of course, a port. The hon. Member said that unemployment was heaviest in shipbuilding, engineering and transport, with which I entirely agree. He then went on to say that the heavy arrears of remunerative work to which he would put the present number of unemployed were chiefly the building of various institutions, schools, and the like. If this suggestion, this manipulation of the demand for public works, was put into operation it would, I believe, to a certain extent meet the unemployed problem, but only to a very limited extent. In the constituency which I represent there would be, I expect, a certain number of public works which could be built by utilising those who would ordinarily be engaged in shipbuilding and engineering, but only a very small number would be employed in that way. If, as the hon. Member says, the largest number of unemployed are in the shipbuilding, engineering, and transport trades, then this manipulation of the demand of public works would be of very little use.
Again, it is not a remedy for unemployment. The building of these works would only last for a very short time and these men, who have been taken from their original occupations, would be left wondering, perhaps, whether they really belonged to the shipbuilding or building trade. May I refer for a moment to the question of cost. It seems to me the attitude of hon. Members opposite is a little inconsistent. I can understand the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea (Sir A. Mond) who wished, for example, to use what surplus occurred in the Budget of last year towards large schemes which would deal, amongst other things, with unemployment. If hon. Members opposite had supported him in that contention I could understand them suggesting that the present scheme should be set up to deal with this problem. As it is, in the debates on the Budget, hon. Members opposite urged the reduction of debt saying that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not gone far enough. Yet here we have them advocating a scheme which, to say the least of it, would cost a great deal of money. What they are proposing to do to-day is on the one hand to reduce debt and on the other hand to borrow. I suggest that their plan would have exactly the opposite effect to what they wish to gain by the reduction of debt, as it would destroy, or to a great extent destroy, confidence and credit.
There is a suggestion in this Bill that Government Departments should be reorganised. I am sure my right hon. Friend is not afraid to face that question. But the present time, when his Department and that of the Minister of Health are overburdenedwith the work of dealing with the large number of unemployed, is the wrong time to suggest rearrangement or reorganisation. I am not exercised in my mind as to whether this Bill is or is not an instalment of socialism. It does not matter to me what you call it, whether socialism or capitalism. The question we are dealing with is how to prevent unemployment. An hon. Member from the opposite benches asked us on these benches if we believe we can prevent unemployment. Frankly, I do not think you can altogether, under whatever system you have. An hon. Member asks what is the real solution of the problem? He himself gave it as better industrial organisation. I submit that there is no one solution. There are many factors in the problem which, were they all working together and at their best, would bring the number of unemployed down to a very low level.
In so far as this Bill deals with the demand for labour, I am with the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh all the way, but I believe the particular suggestion contained in this Bill will only help to a very small extent, for the matter is affected by many other considerations. International affairs, for instance, over which we have not got complete control; and the capacity of other nations to buy our goods. Again that brings in the cost of production, and following that there is the question of the relations between employers and employed. In the matter of industrial organisation, the better our industries are organised, the cheaper will be production. But it is possible that in organising industries you again may throw men out of employment. All these factors to my mind are the cause of unemployment. I believe if they were all working together at their best there would be little unemployment; but to call this Bill the Prevention of Unemployment Bill, is, to my mind, to show an optimistic frame of mind which I do not share.
Mr. W. M. ADAMSON:
I listened with very great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Hull (Mr. Lumley). He is to be congratulated that in his maiden effort in this House he made so concise a statement, though he evidently believes that Parliament is unable to grapple with this great and tremendous problem. Unfortunately, however, he does not appear to have grasped Filly the causes of unemployment. He seemed to be dealing with a superficial solution, and his criticism of the Measure was such that there was little or no experience suggested. He rather approves of the attitude of his party, that the lines upon which they would deal with the unemployment problem are slow lines but right lines. Unfortunately, those slow lines entail slow starvation. The right lines which he commends mean that the right lines will be continued for time immemorial—if we may judge of the progress that is going on now in that direction. The hon. Gentleman also very candidly tells us that he does not believe that we can entirely prevent unemployment. Surely it is the duty of legislatures, in dealing with the social problems with which we are faced to-day, to find some definite remedy for this evil.
We are accused upon these benches of somewhat over-emphasizing this problem of unemployment, but surely there is some excuse for us, or at least for those of us who have had actual experience of unemployment, being keen about demanding that something more should be done. I may be forgiven if I tell the House my own experience due to unemployment. At that time I belonged to what I believe is one of the most highly skilled sections of the engineering trade, and 15 years ago in the City of Manchester it was my unfortunate lot to have only six weeks employment in 16 months. With all my skill and my anxiety to get employment, with a wife and small family to support, in spite of all my desires, and in spite of being anxious to be employed, there was no opportunity for me. During the latter portion of that 16 months I had to attempt to keep a home on 6s. per week Trade Union pay. Unfortunately during that period a new baby came into the home, and you will not be surprised when I tell you that it was the last to come into my home. Under these circumstances, with the degradation that unemployment brings to us, with the very iron entering into our souls, we are deprived by your capitalist system and prevented from having opportunities where we might employ our skill for our individual and for the national good, is it surprising that we should feel keen, and that we, should occasionally speak strongly upon this problem in our desire that something should be done to alter it.
The Bill we have before us to-day has been criticised because it includes in its provisions, failing unemployment being found, that adequate maintenance should be provided. Obviously that is a very necessary inclusion in the requirements which should be laid down in such a Measure, because my hon. Friends are always only too anxious simply to deal with the question upon its cash basis, and by placing responsibility upon the Government first of all for providing for it, and failing that to provide maintenance, then obviously the responsibility is placed upon our shoulders to introduce schemes of work that will provide the necessary employment. It is because we believe that that can be done more efficiently by the State that we seek time and again to bring forward this Bill for consideration, and for these reasons we feel that we are justified in asking for the support of hon. Members. It is because of my own experience and the experience of some of my associates that we support this Measure.
While this Bill has been characterised as a right to work, it can be more properly characterised as a right to live. Those of us who have been engaged in industry do not consider merely how stocks and shares rise and fall or the rate of interest and dividend, but we have to look at these industrial questions from the point of view of those engaged in them. We are interested in this matter from the point of view of the national well being, and I think we are entitled to say that it is our right to have employment, and failing that right we should have the means for maintenance. Just as it is necessary to breathe the air to keep life in our bodies, we should be provided with opportunities enabling us to live healthily and to maintain our mental proficiency so that we may have a fair opportunity to live.
We have all listened to the very interesting speech of the hon. Member who has just addressed the House, but I would like hon. Members opposite to believe that we who sit on these benches are as deeply interested in this question as they are, and I protest against the narrow view they take on this question, because unemployment as truly exists in all classes and professions, either upwards or downwards. Hon. Members who are supporting this Bill do not seem to have any real recollection present in their minds of the fact that this state of unexampled unemployment has been entailed by the Great War. If this House hastens to legislate in this way, in my judgment it would prove disastrous, and our last state would be worse than our first. Undoubtedly this Bill would result in an immense financial burden upon industry, and this would make unemployment more lamentable than ever.
The hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) who introduced this Measure gave no explanation of its Clauses. I should have been very glad to have heard some explanation of the principle upon which he intends to work the Bill which he has proposed to this House. I should be glad if any hon. Member speaking for the Party opposite—it is a Bill represented and supported by that party—would explain to me the working of their scheme. As I read this Measure it is quite impossible to work it. If you look at Part I you will find that there is a transfer to the Ministry of Labour of every officer or servant employed under our local authority in connection with the relief of the poor. What would that mean? It would mean that you would substitute under this Bill, by which you revolutionise the existing law, the Minister of Labour as the employer of that vast orgaisation now administered by all the local authorities throughout the country. It is a task beyond any Minister and it would involve the employment of clerks which might almost get rid of unemployment. It seems to me that has never been put before us and has never been realised. I desire also to call attention to Clause 2. I find in it the old familiar language of the great Statute of Elizabeth which first
dealt with this question. As I read it, the Clause transfers to the Minister of Labour, not only the rights and duties of guardians in relation to the Poor Law, but also the right of rating. That is clear from the language of the Bill. Clause 2, Sub-section (1) says:
The Minister of Labour shall in addition to all powers he may now possess under the Unemployment Insurance Acts, 1920 to 1923, or otherwise, have all the powers and duties relating to or connected with the prevention of destitution among or the relief of the able-bodied poor, including workmen in distress from unemployment and vagrancy, and which are now vested in or imposed upon parishes, townships, distress committees, central bodies, boards of guardians, churchwardens, overseers of the poor, justices of the peace, and the Ministry of Health.
I would have been glad if the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh had expounded his scheme and told us what the Bill really meant. He dealt in pathetic language with the position which we all deplore, but he never told us the principle of the scheme under which it is proposed to work the Bill. The Bill is impossible. Look what it would involve. What knowledge of the conditions in a remote or even in a near area would the Minister of Labour have? It would be possible under a scheme never sought to revolutionise the whole of our present system, though the minds of the Members of this House had never been directed to it. We are told in Clause 3 that its object, in substance, is to keep employment at a constant level. How are you going to do that? How are you going to deal with seasonal trades? Take bricklaying. We all know that every winter, if it be severe, bricklayers have to close down. There must be forced unemployment, because it is in its nature a seasonal trade.
I was not ignorant of that, and I am coming to the maintenance part, to which I attach the very greatest importance. In the old days those in the building trade were paid higher wages because of it being in the nature of seasonal employment. It may be that the hon. Member who has quite courteously interrupted me realises that I am going to conclude by saying that I object to that which I consider will be disastrous to private enterprise, a great burden on industry, and is really socialistic in its method and in the objects which it attempts to achieve.
That does not preclude me from saying that it is a seasonal trade, and I look to the hon. Member to confirm my view that wages in the trade were higher because it was a seasonal trade. Probably he worked in those winters when it was more frosty than it is now, and he will be able to confirm what I say. Take another thing. Who can doubt that employment is greater in summer than in any other period of the year? How are you going to arrange otherwise? In every industry in this country, there is greater activity in the summer, and, if you seek to better the natural course of trade, it will not get rid of unemployment, but will increase it and end in disaster. There is no novelty about this Bill. There is nothing new in it except the principle to which the hon. Member who intervened just now referred, and which the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh said was maintenance. I think I could save a good deal of expenditure on printing and get all that hon. Members have in their minds by saying, "If you are out of work, you are to have wages equivalent to those in work. "That is what it comes to when yon examine all this phraseology. It is a waste of paper, and you are adding to the expenditure of the State, and I do not think it is right. Under Clause 4, the Minister of Labour is to produce a scheme. He is doing that now to the best of his ability. Hon. Members have suggested nothing, so far as I know, except roads. Later in the Bill you east duties on the local authorities and say that they are to suggest the same thing. What are these bodies to do? I do not know that anybody has suggested what it is, and we are at a loss to know.
I do not believe—and I have listened and paid great attention to this subject—that you will ever be able wholly to get rid of unemployment. It was useless in my judgment for the hon. Member who seconded the Bill to refer to Gretna Green. You have there a waste space which was occupied for the purposes of the war and a great mushroom town grew up for the purpose of maintaining the supply of shells. That is net normal. I want next to refer to Clause 5. If unfortunately you are able to give work only for a short time, you are to go to the Employment Exchange and make your contract, and the work is not to be for less than one month. Whoever thought of going to the Employment Exchange and arranging the terms under which you could offer employment. I would ask hon. Members on the other side of the House to consider whether, if a man were out of employment, they would not be glad to offer him even the shortest employment. I think that that is a proper principle, and not to endeavour by an Order in Council, to throw these short contracts into an Employment Exchange. The manager of the Employment Exchange is, no doubt, an excellent man, but I personally would rather make my own contracts. This is really a long way in advance of any socialistic doctrine that has hitherto been presented to the House.
Let me now look at Clause 9, to which attention has been called, because it is, to my mind, most startling. The marginal note to that Clause refers to training, but there is not a word in the operative part of the Bill dealing with training at all. This is all propaganda, nothing more or less. I am sure that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wallsend (Mr. Hastings), who is now on the Front Opposition bench, will agree with me that these words in marginal notes are no part of an Act of Parliament, and no provision for this training is made in the Bill. The hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. G. Thorne) gave the Bill every blessing in the world, but he did not refer to one single Clause of it. No doubt he has read the Bill, but, as far as his speech indicates, he might be going to vote on the Measure in absolute ignorance of what it contains.
I hope that someone who follows me—they may criticise me, as I am criticising the Bill, but I shall accept that in excellent part—will give us some information about these institutions. I see that gentlemen may go in and out as they please, and that, at any rate, is delightful. They seem to be a kind of week-end rest homes. Seriously, however, what is going to be done in setting up these institutions? Let us get some idea of what this training is to be. Is it to be training in some trade, and who is going to pay the men who are going to give the instruction? If it is to be training in, say, engineering, are you going to set up a mill somewhere? Hon. Members on the benches opposite know the great variety of trades; and, unless you can train a man skilfully, what is the good of it? Therefore, you must have that practical knowledge and skill which can only be acquired, in the case, say, of a shipwright, on works of construction; in the case of a bricklayer, at actual bricklaying; in the case of a carpenter, at the bench; in the case of an electrician, in laying wires, and so on. Where is the provision for that? Has any consideration really been given to what this Clause involves? It involves an expenditure of money that would add annually to the great financial burdens of this country to an unknown extent, and no advantage would be got from it.
A man is not even bound to be there to go through his apprenticeship, and in the great skilled trades the apprenticeship is for a period of years. Are you going to set up this training without giving the men practical experience in their trade? If I went to one of the hon. Members opposite—and I should be very glad to do so—as an assistant after having been at one of these training establishments, they would term me a dud; I should be perfectly useless. I say that this is all eyewash; it is scene-painting; there is no substance in it. The hon. Member for Central Edinburgh really gave away the Bill, because, at a later stage, he said it was for the relief of unemployment. Clause 9 is, to my mind, a monument of folly and expense without system of any kind. Of course, the whole of the expense of that part of the Bill is to be thrown, in a cheery kind of way, on the finances of the country, and, subject to a penny rate, the same is the case with regard to Part II.
Clause 11 deals with local authorities, and we know that they include authorities with a population not below, I think, 20,000. I ask myself what on earth, in a great crowded community surrounded by other urban authorities, is the work that can be found by that local authority to be done? Do let us try and be practical. Do not let us involve the nation in greater financial expense and loss without touching the problem at all, but, on the contrary, making it more difficult to deal with. It is to be the duty of the local authorities to prepare these schemes. Where are they to go? What are they to do? Are they to go to some distant point? What is to be the nature of the scheme? Let us have some thought on this subject, and do not let us say that, simply because there is something here in print, it must be good. One knows that uneducated or ill-educated people believe that that which they see in print in the Press must be right, and it is not until they find that they do not always tell you what is quite accurate—[Interruption]—Think of the "Daily Herald." I remember that when, as a junior, I used to write things—very badly, I know—and I used to think there was nothing in them, still, when I saw them in print, I was very much impressed with them myself. Therefore, I would beg hon. Members not to be too much impressed with all that they see in print, even though the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh makes a speech, as it were, like an angel on wings, as though this were a cure, and the only cure, for all the evils of this world. It is not so.
I will not dwell further on that portion of the Bill, but I should like a little explanation of it because it is the hon. Member's Bill and not mine. Now I come to the very interesting Clause 15. Sub-section (1, a) says:
to provide such persons with suitable employment under the provisions of this Act.
I have listened with very great attention to hon. Members opposite—I think I may say that probably I have been as much present in the House, and actually in the Chamber, as any hon. Member; I am fond of listening to these Debates—and I have noticed that all in the discussions on unemployment, the speeches from the Labour benches come to this, that what is called the dole ought to be given whether a marl goes to work or not. I think they are evolving a principle which is fraught with danger and disaster when they contend, not that a man has got a right to be employed, but that a man has got a right to be employed in a particular trade which has been his own. Owing to the advent of motor-cars, the saddlery and harness making trade has suffered enormously. If a man brought
up in the saddlery trade unfortunately loses his work, through a mere change in the world's habits of locomotion, is he entitled to draw unemployment pay for ever, because he cannot get employment as a harness maker? That is the kind of proposition I want hon. Members opposite to consider, because they have been contending for that which is wholly wrong. I say that if a man's old trade cannot give him employment, he must go to some other work.
I should like him to come with me in the Inner Temple; we would take his fee for admission. I should welcome you all—the more the merrier. No doubt the hon. Member would get to the head of the call. There is one hon. Member who, I am glad to think, has joined our profession. I hope he will do exceedingly well at it. If anybody desires to transfer from any profession or trade to the Bar, he is welcome. We shall protect him; he will always find an asylum with us. In this Bill you are going on a wrong principle, and I understand that an hon. Member opposite agrees with me. You must use clear language. Supposing I say, "I am a shipwright, and my wages are 60s. It is not suitable to send me to work as an agricultural labourer, where probably the industry, at best, does not pay more than 32s." I wonder how that point would be decided. I cannot help thinking, if the council or committee which had to deal with it consisted largely of Socialists, they would say to me, "We agree that you must have at least £3 a week, and we will give it to you. It would not be right to send you to work as an agricultural labourer, at 32s. a week."
I want to know how this Bill will be administered? If a man does not find employment within three days, what is to happen? Maintenance is to be certified by a doctor. I think that is a little dangerous, and I do not believe in leaving these things to doctors. They might be left to councillors, but they might put a doctor in an invidious position. Clause 15 is the Bill, nothing more nor less. The rest is mere whitewash.
The hon. Member for Silvertown is appreciated on the Labour benches. I would appreciate him if I could understand him. I suggest to him it is a little dangerous to interrupt.
—and if he has the interruptions to deal with I have, he will understand that I have a good deal to answer, and am not unaccustomed to doing so. He should not interrupt me in that way. I say that this Clause is your Bill, and there is nothing left in it. What does it really come to? Hon. Members have not told us about the machinery, although I have pointed it out as I understand it. They are going to set up institutions, with no power of giving instruction in them. No such power is given in the Bill, and that is all nonsense and moonshine. This was not thought by the promoters to be really of importance, but it is propaganda. Hon. Members will say, "We introduced an Unemployment Bill, which was rejected"—as I hope it will be rejected, this afternoon. It means they are setting up nothing at all, in order to find work for these men, and are not doing more than is being done at present by the schemes under the Ministry of Labour. The Bill would involve an immense expenditure upon officers throughout the country. It would not find employment for the men, but a doctor would be called in after three days, and he would certify so much maintenance per week. Then, when the question of employment arose, hon. Members would say, "This is not suitable, because the man was a bricklayer, and we cannot call on him, in those circumstances, to carry on at this work." That is what it would come to. I submit that the Bill would not advance the cause of employment. We have not had the faintest estimate of what it would cost, but the expenses, except for a penny rate, would be thrown on the Chancellor of Exchequer. Nothing could be worse than to burden industry with such a policy, and I shall certainly vote against the Bill.
We have had an interesting Debate, and I should like to congratulate the hon. Member for East Hull (Mr. Lumley) on his forcible contribution. On whatever side of the House we sit, we all listened with interest, and we shall also await with interest his future contributions to our Debates. Friday is private Member's day, and this is a private Member's Bill. The policy of the Government—I should think with the consent of the whole House—is that Friday's Debates should be left to free discussion, untrammelled by any unnecessary attentions on the part of the Government Whips. We have had discussions on the Restriction of the Liquor Traffic which were treated not as Government matters, and although there were expressions of opinion from this bench, the Whips were not put on. In the same way the Whips will not be put on to-day and the vote will be left to the House. Under the circumstances I hope no one will accuse me of discourtesy if I do not go into this Bill or the policy it involves at any great length. I personally cannot accept the Bill. It cannot proceed further without Government assistance in regard to the financial Clauses, and so on, and the Government cannot give that assistance.
But subject to that, the matter is open for discussion. Any proposal which has for its object the abolition of unemployment must meet with attention from all of us. That is a tremendous task. It is taxing and has taxed the intelligence and the capacity of administrators in this and other countries for a great many years, and if I or the Government can find in any quarter assistance towards this great object we should gladly welcome it. I listened with care to the speeches of the Mover and Seconder. We always listen with interest to the speeches of the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham). I listened not only with interest but with a little amusement to his speech because I admired the immense dexterity with which he avoided or skated round what are the central and the most difficult Clauses of the Bill. He referred to foreign trade, he referred to-local loans, he made a general statement about the organisation of contracts and so on, but as to Clause 15, which is the central proposition of the whole Bill, references to it were rather remarkable by their absence than otherwise.
What are the main features of the Bill? I do not propose to deal with the question of cost. That would become material if there was going to be a Financial Resolution and there was a probability of the Bill becoming effective. The criticism is obvious that beyond a penny rate the rest of the burden is to fall on the Exchequer yet the Exchequer is to have no control, and all the money is to be distributed by the local authorities. Anyone who suggests that under these circumstances the burden which will fall on the Exchequer will be a light one must have very little experience of local government. Again, I do not propose to say anything about points of machinery or points of detail. In the Clauses relating to the transfer of power the Minister of Labour appears. If those transfers took place, and this Bill ever became law, the Ministry of Labour would emerge in such a character that it would be hardly recognisable by Members of this House. Therefore, I do not propose to say much about that.
The main points of the Bill are, first, that some efforts should be made to organise Government work, and in the second part of the Bill, to organise local authority work with a view to securing better distribution of contracts and of the employment which results, so as to avoid what happens now, times of pressure and times of slackness; that there should be an equalisation of employment, and that it should be, if possible, better distributed. That, I understand, is the object of the Bill, but some of the phraseology is not very easy to understand. It is an excellent proposition, but it is nothing new. That is what we are trying to secure now. Various efforts have been made along these lines. It may interest the House to know that quite recently the Cabinet Committee on unemployment have been taking steps along these lines with regard to the future. It is some time now before next winter, but we are urged continually to take time by the forelock, and that policy we are endeavouring to adopt.
We are trying to consider the question of the probable numbers of unemployed, and the question of areas likely to be affected. It is not improbable that certain returns in connection with the working of the Unemployment Insurance Act may, when they are fully analysed, give us some assistance both in regard to occupation and in regard to the areas where the main burden of unemployment is most likely to occur. If, as unfortunately may prove to be the case, we have still serious stress of unemployment next winter, the Government propose shortly, as was done last year, though not so early in the year, to invite local authorities to submit preliminary statements of works which could be put in hand if required during the coming winter in those areas where unemployment is likely to be severe. I do not mention those as great or all-embracing efforts. I merely mention them as indications of the most recent efforts which we are making along the lines suggested by the mover of the Bill.
But I would invite the House to consider the real difficulties of the situation. It is continually suggested to us to "Provide for the future; do not be caught napping; do not wait until you are under fire, so to speak, before you construct your trenches." That is sound advice, but the real difficulty is to know from what direction the fire is to come. It is so difficult to say what the figure Of unemployment is going to be one or two or five or 10 years hence, and in what area it is going to arise. It is desirable, not that a scheme of unemployment relief should be started in the air, but that geographically it should bear some relation to the areas which unemployment is affecting. But who is to tell this year or next year what areas are going to be mainly affected? Then again, if you are going to make provision for years to come you cannot at leisure switch your schemes on or off. Any machinery for securing nicety of adjustment as between a scheme proposed and the need for the scheme is very difficult to provide.
I will give an illustration. I do not think that there would be any dispute that at the moment there is real pressure of unemployment in the shipbuilding trade. Big schemes have been started, but suppose that a scheme of infinitely greater magnitude, say the Clyde Canal, were started, and that similar schemes were set going in other shipbuilding areas, next year or the year after, great pressure of unemployment might, owing to the vicissitudes of international trade to which the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh referred, shift to some other industry. While the pressure is severe in the shipbuilding trade at present it has not been so severe in the woollen or hosiery trade, but in two or three years the great pressure may have shifted to these or to some other industry in some other area which at the moment is not so badly affected. If you are thinking ahead in terms of great schemes of public work, first of all how is the Government to know what areas are to be affected and what industries are to suffer, one, two or three years hence? And, secondly, what is to happen to the schemes that you have already started in the case which I mention, namely, the shipbuilding industry? I do not want that argument to be pressed too far. I am merely indicating what the difficulty is in laying out schemes for the future. The Government requires to be not only omnipotent but omniscient; it must have not only unlimited powers but unlimited capacity to prophesy. That is what constitutes the difficulty in making immense preparations for years to come.
I agree with the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh that it is the duty of those who have the administration in their hands to look ahead and prepare plans along the lines of reasonable foresight. It is in that spirit that we are making preparations for the coming winter.
Let us for a moment, take Clause 15, the famous work or maintenance Clause. It is unquestionably the policy of the common law that there should be maintenance, but maintenance on the condition of some sort of work. You may say the maintenance is inadequate or that the work is made task work. But we are talking now about the principle involved. Work or maintenance has been put forward as a great fundamental principle. What does it mean? If you are to have work of the normal kind for all, when under the conditions of competitive international trade you cannot command a market for the goods you produce, it means that, if you continue to run your factories, you will pile up an immense quantity of products made on an unremunerative basis, and that policy is bound to land you in disaster. The alternative suggested is maintenance. The Bill gives a very vague definition of maintenance. The medical officer is to be called in. No indication is to be given to him as to how he is to exercise his discretion, not even as much indication as is given to Local Employment Committees by the Minister of Labour in the administration of uncovenanted benefit. But it is quite clear that, under the wide discretion left in the Bill to the medical officer, there will be immense discrepancies between one area and another.
It is true that some speakers have suggested that that difficulty could be overcome and that the trade union rate of wages should be paid. I do not propose to go into that issue; it leads us down a long avenue of discussion which in the end resolves itself into a question of motive. I was a little surprised that the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh referred in very scathing terms to the relief work which is now being undertaken. The relief works which were undertaken under old conditions very often consisted in very little more than digging a hole and filling it up again and these, I agree, might naturally come under the lash of the hon. Member's scorn, but modern works, like the reconstruction of the roads system of outer London, justify themselves both on the ground of the effect they produce with regard to unemployment, and also on the ground of reasonable and proper service to the community.
I can appreciate that, but my recollection was that the hon. Member used rather strong language. He talked about works "stinking in the nostrils"—if works can perform such a curious function—and my recollection was, that he was referring to works instituted by local authorities recently in connection with the Government programme. If I have misunderstood him, I will not press the point. In any case, whether that is the attitude taken up by the hon. Member or not, one does often hear severe criticism of relief works on the ground that they are non-productive and it surprises me. I have here a document of authority, which was used recently and which indicates that the policy recommended by the hon. Member's party is a policy of housing, slum clearances, town planning, street improvements, new schools, reclamation of foreshores, harbour development, afforestation, arterial roads, and so on. That is recommended as an alternative policy to the policy of the Government. It is suggested that the Government have been very foolish and that a policy on those lines should be adopted. I describe it as an authoritative statement, because it is the programme which was laid before the electorate of Newcastle by a right hon. Gentleman who is a much respected Member of this House. Therefore, I am entitled to treat it as a document of authority, and the astonishing thing is, that although great scorn is poured upon the Government in this document and although it is suggested that the Labour party has immense schemes for improving the Government programme—indeed, entirely abolishing it and substituting something else, yet when we come down to the actual programme it embodies almost exactly what the Government programme embodies.
That is the real difficulty. Those who are honest in this matter know that with the best intentions in the world—and I do not for a moment claim for myself, or for those on this side of the House, any better intention in the matter than that which animates hon. Members opposite—[An HON. MEMBER: "Hell is paved with good intentions."]—with the best intention in the world, it is difficult to arrive at a satisfactory solution of this immense problem of unemployment and relief work. I am afraid the remedies are the old-fashioned ones—of getting the wheels of industry going round and of stimulating trade. I much hope, and it is generally hoped, that the economic conference with representatives of our great. Dominions in the autumn will be a real help, and, last but not least, there are two ingredients which must be combined in any satisfactory effort to deal with unemployment. I mean hard work and good will. I believe it is along the lines which I have indicated—and I do not think this is the Occasion on which to outline them any further—that we have to look for our remedies in dealing with unemployment, and not along the lines of the present Bill.
My hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) submitted his Bill earlier in the day in a speech of characteristic force of argument and moderation of language. We have since had a succession of speeches exhibiting recognition of the seriousness of this problem and, with one or two exceptions of instances of levity, showing a very great change in the attitude of Members of this House towards the question of unemployment. Now the Minister of Labour has made his contribution, concluding with a declaration that really, in principle, or in so far as material effort can go, there is no difference between the policy of the Government and this Bill—
Let me finish—but that all the same, whatever there be in this Bill, the attitude of the Government is that of having no policy of substance in relation to it, which one clearly can understand, for nothing is more lacking in courage or more nebulous than the attitude announced by my right hon. Friend. The House is to be left to vote freely upon this question, with the clear understanding that the Minister of Labour will vote against the Bill, that if the House should carry it no time will be found for its further consideration, and that under no circumstances can any public money be afforded to carry this Measure through. That is the Government attitude, and it is an attitude of "Yes and No." It is an attitude of freedom to Members, tempered by official and Ministerial restraint; it is a declaration that the House is free to pass this Bill to-day, but that then it must be buried and cannot be carried through any further stages. We have been chided, in the course of this Debate, for having dealt only with the principle of this Bill. We would have been equally criticised, and we would have been told it was quite improper, at this stage, if we had gone elaborately into its details. What is the occasion of Second Reading discussion? It is the moment for explaining the broad purposes, the general outlines, the foundational objects and principles of the various Clauses that may be embodied in a Bill. These I would like to summarise in a sentence.
We ask in this Bill that the separate, and sometimes rival, Departments of State dealing with the problem of unemployment should be correlated and unified; that there should be one authority, speaking with power, and with the force of Cabinet decisions, upon the various questions that have to be dealt with. We ask that that one authority shall act in co-operation with the respective local authorities or councils to carry through and to operate the machinery which the Bill would set up. The third part deals with several and varied general questions, into the details of which I need not enter this afternoon. In short, this Bill in form and character, whatever we may say of its substance, is like every other Bill introduced in this House. It does not differ from them, and Members know that Bills of this kind, which may receive the assent of a majority in this House, go elsewhere, and are examined in all their details, word by word and line by line.
I gather that some hon. Members would accept this Bill if we could get the money to carry it through, and more than once we have been asked in what way could the expense for which it calls, be found to carry out its objects. In answer we say that, in effect and in its working, the cost of operating this Bill would not add any considerable sum to the amount which is now being spent upon keeping the unemployed alive doing nothing. I shall try, before I have clone, to prove that statement. We ask hon. Members to agree at least, that if all things in relation to unemployment cannot be done in perfection, and if we cannot do for everybody everything that everybody would like, that should not deter us from doing something. We are not preaching a doctrine of perfection. Under the most skilful, the brainiest and the most complete kind of organisation that you may set up, you will still fall short of perfection. I doubt whether there is a Measure which has ever passed this House which, in relation to anything, has ever achieved perfection. In this imperfect world, we simply have to take the best which frail human nature can produce. So that it is saying nothing against our proposal to say that there is some fault in it, some defect, that in the mind of some hon. Member it fails to do this, that or the other, which, in his judgment, ought to be carried through.
As to the money, and as to the argument that this Bill would cause the setting up of a great army of bureaucrats, a swarm of officials, the Minister of Labour made it a boast in this House that in the period of what is known as the recent slump, the State, quite apart from what the unemployed have received from other sources, has given to the unemployed, for doing nothing, a total sum of £33,000,000. Is not that a substantial contribution, which might, in the same period, have been used for productive work? Thirty-three million pounds, and not a single thing to show for that enormous waste, as compared with what might have resulted had there been courage and capacity to undertake ministerially this urgent task. As to bureaucrats and officials, only yesterday my right hon. Friend informed the House that he had still some 20,000 officials. Within a certain measurable period, that figure may be reduced to 15,000, thereby largely adding to the number who will have to go on the unemployment books, and receive in some way this unemployment pay. What, in the main, is this very large staff doing? I quite endorse all that has been said in different quarters of the House as to the competence, loyalty, and capacity of this large number of civil servants, for the task which they have now to carry through, but, in the main, their work consists, in all its ramifications and details, of an elaborate effort to register, detail, classify and supervise this great mass of unemployed, and pay them money week by week. Our view is that it would be far better to have these men, with their skill and ability, not merely registering the men and paying money to them for nothing, but that under the direction of my right hon. Friend, or a similar Minister, they should carry through constructive, serviceable and profitable national enterprises, paying wages to these men for labour done, instead of paying them now week by week large sums for doing nothing at all.
The hon. Member for the Royton Division (Sir W. Sugden) said a few things about this Bill, to which I must briefly refer. I recall the fervour and vigour of his denunciation of certain details of this Bill, to one or two of which I shall refer. I must, however, first say that to suggest that the Lancashire operatives in the cotton industry own seven-eighths of the capital in that industry is as fantastic a piece of Parliamentary exaggeration as ever was used.
The statement really was that the operatives owned seven-eighths of the capital in the industry and I have described that in, I think, quite accurate terms. There were two constructive and definite suggestions offered by the hon. Gentleman, in the nature of an alternative remedy to those of the Bill now before the House. One was pursuance, in larger measure, of international effort between country and country, Government and Government, and trade and trade for the purposes of general industrial prosperity. That is one of the oldest labour remedies that anyone could revive. We have been at that task for the last 30 years, long before Governments attempted it. Anything we could do in the way of international bodies, commitees and organisations, in order to carry out that idea we have done, so that innocently my hon. Friend has merely adopted one of the oldest labour suggestions which long ago we tried to carry out.
The other remedy was more co-partner-ship. That is a doctrine which my hon. Friend will have to preach more to the employers than the employed, for whenever recent efforts have been made to give effect to co-partnership, which is inseparable from a method of workers' control and direction in the course of business, we have found the employers wholly disinclined to meet the labour claim to be real participants in the direction and control of British industry. Again, my hon. Friend said something about money, and with this I want to leave his speech. He appeared to think that it was not work that made money, but money that made work. I suggest that he should go further into that matter. If hon. Members inquire, they will find that this country is losing enormously, because we pay the unemployed for doing nothing at all, greatly to the injury of the State at large. Clause 15, if read carefully, will be found to be one depriving the shirker of any opportunity of sponging on the State, if that be the idea of some hon. Members of the opportunities which this Bill may offer. When we speak of suitable works we are asked what we mean. We can only answer that, like all other test words, questions of definition will arise and there must be some authority to define the meaning of "suitable work." You cannot leave any one body to determine its meaning, so we say that the council or the local authority which provides the pay must determine what is suitable work. If such a body says to a man, "Here is suitable work for you," and he refuses to do it, then their responsibility towards him ends. I hope, therefore, that those hon. Members who have given such vague and unhelpful definitions of this word "suitable" will see that we are not using it in order to set up the workmen himself as the judge and jury of what work he has a right to do when he presents himself for employment.
So far as the Government are concerned they have stated that on this question hon. Members are free men and they are not being whipped into the Lobby against this Bill. The hon. and gallant Member for Buckingham (Captain Bowyer) objects to this Bill on the ground that it is the beginning of Socialism. It is no use fighting a word in this way. The question is whether this Bill is sense or not, and whether it contains a set of proposals offering some escape from this burdensome and costly weight of unemployment which is now being carried in almost every town and village in the country. Anxious as we are to prevent unemployment and to lessen its severity, we ask hon. Members, as free men, to allow this Bill to go to a Committee upstairs, where all the details can be gone into. If they would do this, I am sure it would be time well spent. Faced as we are with a cost of £2,000,000 a week in payments to the unemployed, and with the unfulfilled pledges given by the Government at the last election, I do not think it would be too much to say that if this House spent nearly the whole of the proposed Whitsuntide Recess in dealing with this Bill, thereby affording an opportunity to go into all the details which we are only too anxious to deal with, it would be time well spent.
There cannot, in principle, be any real difference between the Government proposing to do something in the direction of finding work and those of us who have their names attached to this Measure. It was a Conservative Government which was first driven to introduce and carry through a Measure setting aside the old practice and the old principle of leaving this question alone. In 1905, before there was a Labour party—when there were only some five of six Labour Members in the House—such was the distress in the country and the pressure in the constituencies that the old theory of leaving this to employers and employed to settle it, if they could, was abandoned, and the first Act of Parliament was passed. Our view is that, having begun, having recognised the righteousness of the principle of State responsibility, you cannot stop there. You cannot feed men on principles. This Bill asks that you should go further and that you should undertake the task as a thorough State obligation and carry it through, not to your cost, not to the detriment of the State, but to the State's advantage. I dare say that in the last year or two the State, in co-operation with municipalities, or by its action in directing their policy, will have found work for round about 200,000. It might be a little more, but the more it can be shown that the State has done this, the more our argument is strengthened. If it be true that the State can do this for 200,000, it can do it for 1,000,000 or 1,250,000; and the State will get back in wealth, in amenities, in things produced and created, in the furnishing of the requirements of the civic and industrial communities. In all these forms, the State will get back far more than it will have to expend in addition to what it now expends.
Finally, I urge that so far as the present policy of the Government has been maintained, for every £1 paid for idleness and as mere maintenance money, and paid without the return of any kind of service, you necessarily have higher taxation, a reduction in the level of our national products. They are the measure of the nation's wealth, a deterioration in the moral and physical condition of the worker, and the most deplorable consequence, sometimes the most horrifying consequence, as the outcome of leaving people under existing conditions, of there growing up a new class permanently idle and developing a consciousness that they are entitled to something without producing anything at all. I do not criticise them for it. No one can, deny that for generations it was the habit to give a great deal to the favoured folk of Great Britain in exchange for nothing and, if now we are doing a little of that in the case of poorer people, how can you blame them? But we frankly say that
it is not a good thing for the State to do that either in the case of the rich or of the poor. Let us have some service, not merely from both, but from all classes. This Measure is offered to the House, not merely with earnestness, but with eagerness, in the hope that it will be taken as an alternative to existing policy, or that the Government, having said that this Bill is of little use, will produce one that is better. The General Election has now passed us by six months. In November of last year the present Prime Minister twice said, as a declaration of public policy, that it would be the purpose of this Government immediately to take steps to throw the burden of unemployment upon trade and industry, but no effective step of that kind has been taken, and, in the absence of any such step on behalf of the Government, it falls to the Opposition to submit this Measure, in the hope that those who, at least, have beard the discussion, will go into the Lobby in its favour, so that they may challenge us, by its being carried to Committee, there to deal with its details.
|Division No. 114.]||AYES.||[3.58 p.m.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Linfield, F. C.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Groves, T.||Lowth, T.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Grundy, T. W.||Lunn, William|
|Attlee, C. R.||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||M'Entee, V. L.|
|Barnes, A.||Hancock, John George||McLaren, Andrew|
|Batey, Joseph||Hardie, George D.||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Harris, Percy A.||March, S.|
|Bonwick, A.||Hartshorn, Vernon||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hastings, Patrick||Maxton, James|
|Briant, Frank||Hayday, Arthur||Middleton, G.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||Millar, J. D.|
|Brotherton, J.||Hemmerde, E. G.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Buchanan, G.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Mosley, Oswald|
|Buckle, J.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Muir, John W.|
|Burgess, S.||Herriotts, J.||Newbold, J. T. W.|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Hill, A.||Nichol, Robert|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Hinds, John||O'Connor, Thomas P.|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Hirst, G. H.||Oliver, George Harold|
|Chapple, W. A.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Paling, W.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Clarke, Sir E. C.||Hogge, James Myles||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Irving, Dan||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Collins, Pat (Walsall)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Potts, John S.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Richards, R.|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Ritson, J.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)|
|Duncan, C.||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Dunnico, H.||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Saklatvala, S.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Kirkwood, D.||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Edmonds, G.||Lansbury, George||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.|
|Gosling, Harry||Lawson, John James||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Leach, W.||Sexton, James|
|Greenall, T.||Lee, F.||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Trevelyan, C. P.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Smith, T. (Pontefract)||Wallhead, Richard C.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Snell, Harry||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Snowden, Philip||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Stephen, Campbell||Webb, Sidney||Wright, W.|
|Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Weir, L. M.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Welsh, J. C.|
|Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Westwood, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Wheatley, J.||Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. Morgan|
|Thornton, M.||Whiteley, W.||Jones.|
|Tout, W. J.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Gates, Percy||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Paget, T. G.|
|Allen, Lieut. Col. Sir William James||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Parker, Owen (Kettering)|
|Apsley, Lord||Goff, Sir R. Park||Penny, Frederick George|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Greaves-Lord, Walter||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Astor, J. J. (Kent, Dover)||Gretton, Colonel John||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Banks, Mitchell||Hacking, captain Douglas H.||Perring, William George|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Halstead, Major D.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C.|
|Becker, Harry||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Harrison, F. C.||Remer, J. R.|
|Bennett, A. J. (Mansfield)||Harvey, Major S. E.||Reynolds, W. G. W.|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Hawke, John Anthony||Rhodes, Lieut.-Col. J. P.|
|Berry, Sir George||Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Robertson-Despencer, Major (Isl'gt'n W)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Hewett, Sir J. P.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Russell, William (Bolton)|
|Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hood, Sir Joseph||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Butler, H. M. (Leeds, North)||Hopkins, John W. W.||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Button, H. S.||Hudson, Capt. A.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Cadogan, Major Edward||Hughes, Collingwood||Skelton, A. N.|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Hume, G. H.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cassels, J. D.||Hurd, Percy A.||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hutchison, Sir R. (Kirkcaldy)||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Jarrett, G. W. S.||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Joynson Hicks, Sir William||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Lamb, J. Q.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Cope, Major William||Lorden, John William||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Cotts, Sir William Dingwall Mitchell||Lort-Williams, J.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Lumley, L. R.||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Wells, S. R.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Margesson, H. D. R.||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Erakine, James Malcolm Monteith||Mercer, Colonel H.||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Wilson, Lieut.-Colonel L. O.|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Murchison, C. K.||Wise, Frederick|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Nall, Major Joseph||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Nesbitt, Robert C.||Yerburgh, Major R. D. T.|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Furness, G. J.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Sir W. Lane-Mitchell and Mr.|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||George Balfour.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Nield, Sir Herbert|
Question put, and agreed to.