Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [20th March],
That, in view of the failure of the capitalist system to adequately utilise and organise natural resources and productive power, or to provide the necessary standard of life for vast numbers of the population, and believing that the cause of this failure lies in the private ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, this House declares that legislative effort should be directed to the gradual super-session of the capitalist system by an industrial and social order based on the public ownership and democratic control of the instruments of production and distribution."—[Mr. Snowden.]
Which Amendment was to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words
this House, believing that the abolition of private interest in the means of production and distribution would impoverish the people and aggravate existing evils, is unalterably opposed to any scheme of legislation which would deprive the State of the benefits of individual initiative, and believing that far-reaching measures of social redress may be accomplished without overturning the present basis of society, is resolved to prosecute proposals which, by removing the evil effects of monopoly and waste, will conduce to the well-being of the people."—[Sir Alfred Mond.]
The Debate which we are resuming to-day was opened nearly four months ago by two memorable and remarkable speeches, one by my hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) and the other by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea (Sir A. Mond), and I cannot help feeling that it is difficult, especially in the sort of weather we have been experiencing during the last few days, that even the most appetising dish in the Parliamentary bill of fare should remain entirely fresh when it has to be kept for four months. The interval, at any rate, has given time for all of us to read the report of the speech of the Mover of this Resolution, and I desire to make one or two comments upon it. The House, I think, will generally agree that it was the speech of a man
whose courage and sincerity are admired by many more people than agree with his arguments and conclusions, and, as I have a great admiration for my hon. Friend's power of reasoning, I must be allowed to add that that speech, regarded as a piece of connected reasoning, appears to be singularly weak in its logical construction. After all, what does the hon. Gentleman set out to prove? I take the words in the Resolution, which state:
This House declares that legislative efforts should be directed to the gradual supersession of the capitalist system by an industrial and social order based on the public ownership and democratic control of the instruments of production and distribution.
I submit to the House that anybody who sets out to prove that Resolution has got, among other things, to address himself to three propositions. He has got to try to show, in the first place, that the so-called capitalist system which, in the vocabulary of my hon. Friend, appears to be the system under which we have existed since the industrial revolution—I should have thought it began before that—has produced on balance on the whole an accumulation of evils so serious and so grave as to outweigh all the progress for which it is responsible. In the second place, as it seems to me, the hon. Member ought to try to show that the evils which may and do accompany that system, and of which everybody in every part of the House is quite conscious, are incapable of alleviation by anything less drastic than the complete destruction of the system itself. In the third place, he ought to endeavour to show that when you have destroyed that system, you will thereby have got rid of those evils, and you will be able to introduce a new system and establish new conditions which will not be even more injurious to human happiness and progress. I believe that I carry the House with me in saying that those three elements are essentially involved in an attempt to prove the proposition which the hon. Member for Colne Valley has put before the House. Some people may think they can be proved, and others may think they are doubtful. Some may feel that they cannot be proved, but nobody who has read the hon. Gentleman's speech can doubt the fact that he never made the slightest attempt to prove any one of the three.
Before I examine his speech more in detail, allow me to call attention to two curious features in the language of the Resolution. I am struck by the omission of a word and the insertion of another word. The word that is omitted is "all." We are invited to address ourselves to secure the setting up of a new social order based on the public ownership and democratic control of the instruments of production and distribution. The sacrosanct phrase has always been, "all the instruments of production and distribution," and you have generally thrown in "exchange" as well. We do not want a false issue. If some private capital is to be taken while other private capital is to be left, then the question ceases to be one of principle and becomes a question of discretion and practical judgment in each individual case. I should think every hon. Member will agree—certainly every Liberal will agree—that there are some classes of enterprise which, as a practical matter, are better run on a system of public ownership; and it may well be that, under existing conditions, the list has to be revised.
But the whole point of this Motion is that we should deliberately and consciously set ourselves to secure that, in the end, it will be illegal for any man or for any body of men to start and run any business, small or great, for themselves owned by themselves. The essence of the proposal, therefore, is the universality of its application. If Socialism meant nothing more than legislating in some particular case to prevent somebody from carrying on his business just as he likes, then the Factory Acts, the Shop Hours Acts and the great body of social legislation are properly called socialistic, and every House of Commons enacts socialistic legislation in that sense. But that is not really the sense in which this Motion is proposed, and it would be a misfortune if people outside are misled about this matter. The issue that is raised is whether we should aim at a conclusion which would make it illegal to own anything except articles for personal use. It would substitute public ownership and democratic control for private ownership—however much Parliament might think fit to control them—not merely of land and mines but of railways, banks and ships, and of every factory and every workshop, small and great, of every retail shop, of every public house, and, I suppose, of every newspaper.
I heard the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander) protest when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea said that he thought a co-operative society was an admirable example of capitalistic enterprise. I do not see how it can be otherwise regarded, because a co-operative society is an association of small capitalists, each of whom contributes from his savings to carry on the business. He may sell his share in the business, and the ordinary co-operative society trades with the public as well as with its members. It will be interesting to know by what process of reasoning co-operative societies are to be saved from the sentence of death which is to be pronounced on every small shopkeeper by this Resolution.
An attempt is made to mitigate the alarm which this universal prospect might cause by introducing into the Resolution the word "gradual." That comforting variation has since been the subject of a polysyllabic explanation by the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Sidney Webb). He has explained, following upon the speech of the hon. Member for Colne Valley, with all the elaboration of a European professor, the "inevitableness of gradualness." I submit that to lay stress upon this aspect only obscures the real point. I perfectly recognize—and I make the fullest allowance for the fact—that this proposal is put forward with a view to it ultimately attaining its end by a series of gradual doses, but, if your object be to pull down the whole house, it is useless to urge that you are going to pull it down gradually, one stone at a time. The real point—it is much better that we should all face it—is that the discussion has got nothing to do, as I submit, either with the question whether public ownership should be the method adopted in some specific case or with the question whether your ultimate object can be obtained only by successive steps. The point is whether the system of production and distribution, such as we know it, based on and sustained by accumulated savings and private thrift, working under the natural human desire to improve one's position, to pro- vide for one's self and one's family, and producing the rewards of initiative, of enterprise, and of energy—should be got rid of and its place should be taken across the whole field of industrial and commercial activity, by a new system universally and compulsorily applied, in which none of these incentives will operate. That is the proposition as I understand it, and that is the proposition which some of us are determined to resist, and here I would ask leave to be allowed to say that we resist it all the more vigorously, because we are just as much alive as the Labour party to the evils which if unchecked accompany the present system. The difference between us is not that. The difference is that we are convinced that those evils are to be avoided, not by destroying the existing system root and branch, but by controlling its operation with a constant view to the public good.
I have said that the hon. Member who moved made no attempt whatever to establish any of the essential propositions which lie at the root of the Motion. Instead of doing so, after defining according to his own meaning the capitalist system, he called attention to post-War figures—very disturbing and deeply impressive figures—as to the present state of unemployment, of wages, of housing, and of health. Then he made an enormous assumption: First of all, that all these things are directly due to capitalism and nothing else, and, secondly, that if you swept capitalism away they would all disappear. I want to ask the House, is that, after all, a fair account—I will not say it is a complete account — but is it a balanced statement of the consequences of the industrial system as we have known it during the last 100 or 150 years? If, indeed, everything that has happened during the last 100 years is to be attributed to capitalism, is the balance entirely on the wrong side? Everybody knows—and I cannot help thinking that it is the first branch of the argument that has to be examined—that there has been an immense advance in the standard of life and comfort, and a constantly accumulating and increasing code of social legislation; and, side by side with this system which my hon. Friend thinks that we should get rid of, it has, in fact, been found possible to make remarkable progress. I do not for a moment say that
it would not have been far better for the progress to have been made sooner and to have been made faster, but the point is that if you are going to present an argument, not merely to the House of Commons but to the people of this country, the workmen and workwomen of this country, in which you begin by describing the results of capitalism and you limit yourself to the things upon which the hon. Gentleman descanted, I do not think that you are giving a fair version of the facts. I have here a quotation which is all the more relevant, because it comes from one of the writings of the hon. Gentleman himself. In an interesting book which he wrote on the "Living Wage," he points out this:
Factory and mines legislation, laws enforcing sanitary conditions in workshops, workmen's compensation for accidents, free education, public health administration, national health insurance, old age pensions and the like are just as much, and indeed in their results much more so, additions to the living standard as an increase in the actual money wage of the workers.
I know that we shall all agree, but where was there any reference to that in the hon. Gentleman's speech? He went on in another extract to say:
In the period from 1850 to 1900, during which, on the whole, wages advanced by not less than 60 per cent., there was also a very considerable decline in the prices of commodities.
Everybody knows that is true. It may be said that that was before the War. Well, the hon. Gentleman has written another book since the War. It is a book called "Wages and Prices," and it was published in 1920. In that volume, after pointing out how the rigours of unrestricted individualism are modified by public opinion, by collective bargaining, by custom, by the growth of human sentiment, and the effect of education, he says:
The average minimum standard of living, fixed by public opinion, is, on the whole, continually rising, though there are frequent oscillations… On the whole, the tendency is for real wages on the average to rise.
I am not asking hon. Gentlemen to agree that they have risen sufficiently by or fast enough, or that there is not a great deal left to be done, but you do not give a fair account of the system under which we live unless you allow fairly and squarely for some of these things. Let us just consider two or three essential
facts. In 1811 the population of Great Britain was 11,000,000. In 1911, 100 years afterwards, it was 41,000,000. How was that increase possible without the operation of a system which has so immensely increased the power of the country to produce wealth? When I find that in the last 30 years the annual receipts of the Post Office Savings Bank have increased fourfold; when I find that in a little more than a generation, ten years have been added to the average span of human life, both male and female; when I find that the mortality of infants (though it is still shockingly high) has in fact been more than halved and when I find that in 1850 each member of the population of these islands, took on an average only three rides a year in any form of locomotive, I cannot think that the hon. Gentleman's account of the system which he wishes to overthrow was fair or adequate. I cannot make my own position too plain. I do not for a moment say that there is the slightest reason to be complacent or self-satisfied about these things, but when one is asked to draw up a balance-sheet and to see whether the existing system can "deliver the goods," it is really not fair to look solely at one side of the account. If I trouble the House for one moment with one more quotation, I do so because it comes from one of the prophets and apostles of this movement, my hon. Friend the Member for Seaham. I notice that what he wrote was reprinted in the Co-operative Wholesale Societies' Annual, so my hon. Friend the Member for Hillsborough will also be interested. This is what he wrote:
Bad as we are sometimes tempted to think the present condition of the people, it is clear that on the whole there has been a substantial advance since 1837. In the great mass of trades and in nearly all places, the money wages of the men are much higher, and the workman obtains a far larger supply of commodities in return for his labour than he did 60 years ago. In many cases the hours of labour are shorter, the conditions of work are better, and the general standard of life has been considerably raised. The housing accommodation, both in town and country, is much improved. The sanitary conditions have often been revolutionised; education is not only far more general, but it is also far more extensive, while such opportunities for culture as libraries, museums, art galleries, music and healthy recreation are much more accessible to the workman than they ever were before.
And he ends up observing:
It is the evil effect of obsolescent hand industry, with its small masters and isolated home labour, that is standing in the way of improvement. Not until we can thoroughly eradicate the remnants of this system from our midst can we hope to level up its unfortunate victims to the high standard of life which has been given to their more fortunate brethren by machine industry and world commerce.
I would not qualify my own condemnation, but is it really fair to treat the bad conditions to which the hon. Gentleman refers as though they were the inevitable consequences of capitalism, only to be got rid of by its destruction? Let me take one or two instances. Take the crowding of dwellings close round a factory and the overcrowding in the centre of an industrial town. I make bold to say that it is not the inevitable concomitant of capital at all. It is due historically to the impotence of local authorities to control town planning.
Yes, and it is due still more to the insufficient development of the social conscience. There is no reason on earth why, consistently with preserving the essentials of that system, we should not by Parliamentary action secure better results. More important, perhaps, than either of these in-important, perhaps, than either of these influences would be the placing of the rating and taxation of land values upon a proper basis. It is really quite impossible, when you look at places like Port Sunlight or Bournville, to maintain seriously the proposition that you have to get rid of the capitalist system in order to secure effective reform.
What ground is there for saying that the supersession of the capitalist system would guarantee employment for everyone? In the light of such partial experiments as have been tried, that is not the conclusion that would be drawn from the old experiment of State workshops in France. It is not the inference one would draw from recent experiments in Russia.
Let me take an example which will please hon. Members more, because it is one to which the Labour party for years were most anxious to call public attention, namely, the action of the Labour Government in Queensland. The State of Queensland has had the benefit of having the Labour party in power since May, 1915, and the party introduced a comprehensive programme of nationalisation. It took over the railways, the banks, the sawmills, the ironworks, the sugar refineries and the butchers' shops, as well as other things, and for a year or two the success of nationalisation of Queensland seemed so obvious that the British Labour party published a pamphlet on the success in Queensland of the principles they were advocating here. I do not think that pamphlet is any longer in circulation. One must learn from experience. In five years the State railways, instead of showing a surplus of something like £50,000, presented the country with a deficit of about £1,500,000. In 1921 Queensland had more unemployment, not only than any other State in the Commonwealth of Australia, but than any country in the world which tabulates unemployment statistics. The truth, I venture to think, is this, that Socialism cannot compel the consumer to buy more commodities or to pay for more services. Treating the capitalist system as dating from the industrial revolution (1780–1830), its history in this island, among other things, is that it has supported a far larger population than could be possibly supported without it.
How are public ownership and democratic control going to increase the effective and economic demand for commodities and services? It is no doubt perfectly possible to abolish private enterprise and establish public ownership in a given branch of industry. There are cases in my humble judgment where it is perfectly right to do so. It is even possible to secure continuous employment in that industry by refusing under any circumstances to limit production when circumstances are adverse and by sustaining the industry by subventions from public funds. For instance, if you have a tramway which happens not to be running at a profit it is possible to give a subvention from the rates. But this resource is only possible if the losses on public ownership can be made up out of profits in other directions. If you destroy private enterprise, you cannot whatever else you do, raise revenue by taxing its profits. I think it clearly follows that the system cannot be applied successfully to industry as a whole unless it can be confidently asserted that the incentive to production under public ownership and democratic control are greater than under private enterprise and competitive energy. If that were fairly sure it might be a good reason for making a departure of this kind, but experience does not in the least justify so rash an assumption.
Consider the case of our export trades. There are hon. Members of this House who hold positions of great responsibility and authority and on whose guidance and advice great masses of toiling men depend. Let me ask Trade Union leaders who are guiding the destinies of the working men who are employed in some of our great export trades to see exactly what their responsibilities are. Here you have some great export trade in this island which is carried on under-circumstances of the keenest competition with America and France and other countries throughout the world. It can only be carried on by a constant exercise of the very finest judgment on questions relating to values, insurance, transport, exchange, supply and demand, and so forth. What is the responsibility which is being incurred by those who are urging that an industry such as this should be subject to public ownership? Can you guarantee that America is going in for public ownership at the same time, or that France is going to do so? If it turns out that the new system does not in fact carry on these tremendous and complicated enterprises with the same success as the system you are displacing, are you not running a great danger of destroy- ing the means of livelihood of the many hundreds of thousands of British working men who are looking to you for guidance and advice? Some hon. Members behind me may laugh at that. I do not mind that. But let me say with great respect that this is a very serious point, and although I know hon. Members take a serious view of their responsibilities, I ask them to listen seriously to the arguments I am putting forward. Most serious of all, has the British workman who is attracted by this Marxian philosophy appreciated that the price of adopting it is the sacrifice of reasonable personal liberty?
What will be the effect on reasonable individual choice and liberty of the new system? Is there going to be any right to strike under the Socialistic State? A democratically - controlled and publicly-managed industrial army must surely exact the obedience of its members, and refusal to work on the task assigned under such circumstances becomes mutiny. Everybody who has carried this theory to its logical conclusion is bound to admit that the exercise of a man's liberty in saying whether he will work for his employer or not is quite inconsistent with the sole employer being the community. Do working men realise that in point of fact they will have to surrender their right to refuse to work if they desire to do so? Is there going to be any choice of occupation? I am quite unable to see how in a Socialistic State you can avoid conscription of labour and how you can avoid penal labour institutions for those who refuse to accept the occupation assigned to them.
I want, if I may, to put two other illustrations. I am putting them because I think it is desirable they should be dealt with before this Debate closes. The system under which they are invited to work is a system under which production and consumption will be controlled and rationed. How are you going to control and ration production and consumption unless you are also going to ration the number of mouths to be fed in a family? Lastly, what is going to be the opportunity of free public opinion under this new system? How can you have an independent Press? You cannot carry on a newspaper unless those who run it have capital. If private capital is to be prohibited, if the only form of enterprise to be permitted is enterprise under public ownership, I believe the logical consequence will make it impossible to have an independent Press under the system which hon. Members advocate.
I have said so much because those who come forward with a proposal like this must really not complain if some of us desire to examine it before we accept it. That is no reason for saying that the opponents of this Resolution desire to leave things as they are. Not the least. On the contrary, the fact that it has been possible to make great improvements and great progress during times past is one reason more for saying that we need not abolish the system root and branch, but should try and make further progress still. My hon. Friend says, and rightly so, that he recognises that sympathy is not the special possession of any quarter of the House, and all of us are deeply concerned to see what is the best way to remedy the evils to which he calls attention. The real question is, is it not possible, while preserving the incentives to energy and enterprise, while preserving the natural rewards of success, the encouragement of thrift, the stimulus of competition—is it not possible to go further in promoting social justice and prevent the evils of unrestricted capitalism arising by wise policy and bold legislation?
And here may I point out to the House the extraordinary method of argument adopted by my hon. Friend? He admitted in his speech that the evils of unrestricted capitalism have in many cases been met in the past, during the continuance of the capitalist system, by Parliamentary interference, by setting up minimum standards, by enforcing a common rule, by carrying social legislation; but, says my hon. Friend, with a naïveté which is really charming, whenever that succeeds, that is Socialism! There is all the difference, however, between regulating a machine and pulling it to pieces, and the fact that it is possible under the existing system to regulate the machine, and that there may be many directions in which it can be regulated further, is no reason at all for saying that the machine has to be scrapped and an entirely new machine, not hitherto ever seen in actual operation, set up in its place. I would go as far as this, though there may be hon. Gentlemen in the House who will not be prepared to go with me. If, indeed, we had reached the end of what a progressive community can do to reconcile competitive industrial action with the rights of all who take part in it, that might be a reason for attempting, however rashly, some new and untried system; but the real lesson of the past is the hope of the future. We have, as I think, to open up new natural resources; we have to liberate enterprise under a system of taxation which does not penalise improvement, but offers better opportunities to everybody; we have, as I think, to control and to modify the distribution of wealth so as to remove economic injustice. I think that in the future we shall hear much more than we have yet heard of the limitation of profits and of the limitation of inheritance.
I say we shall hear much more of the limitation of profits and the limitation of inheritance, but those things can be secured without destroying the springs of energy. Indeed, it is only those who obstinately resist such changes who provide the effective propaganda for Socialism. If the menace of unemployment is going to be more effectively dealt with, if industry is really going to carry its casualties, then industry must be carried on under conditions which stimulate production, and it is by stimulating production, it is by forethought and organisation, it is by removing the barriers which interfere with trade, it is by scheduling jobs which can be undertaken in times of depression, it is by extending Unemployment Insurance, it is by promoting a better spirit between the different people who are engaged in industry, that you may as a practical matter hope to minimise the risk of unemployment. But, most of all, I will venture to put this to the House. It is the last thing I want to say, and I apologise for being so long. The most important thing of all is that we must humanise industry. You cannot human- ise industry by the vain and dreary repetition of an arid formula. The way to humanise industry it not to put it into the straight jacket of universal Socialism; it is to use the force of public opinion, the power of Parliament, to correct the rigours of unrestricted selfishness by putting public needs and human rights before private interests, and by doing it, as I believe it can be done, without sapping the energies or undermining the liberties of the British people.
The right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House is always listened to, if for no other reason, because of his great attainments, and, if I may be allowed, in opening what I have to say, to comment on his speech this afternoon, I would take leave to say this, that throughout that speech he clearly has had his head in it all the time, but his heart in the job, never! I listened to the close of his speech with the reflection that, if that be the whole case against the Socialistic doctrines of the Resolution which is now before the House, those doctrines are likely to prevail long before many of us thought would be the case. My right hon. Friend admits that conditions as they are are deplorably bad, but he asks that we should not attach blame for these evil results to the system from which they have been inseparable. We allege that they are the products of the system, that they are its inevitable result. My right hon. Friend points to the progress which, as compared with some generations ago, the people of to-day are enjoying. So far as any progress at all has been attained, it has been reached, not as the result of the system, but in spite of it. The spokesmen of the system have on every occasion resisted every attempt to lighten the load of labour, to raise wages or the standard of living, to reduce hours, or to give a higher level of security in employment in the workshops of Britain. Progress! The truth is that we have never had a larger number of unemployed and helpless persons in this country than we have now. Taxation was never heavier, and the miner's pay, as was proven in a long discussion in this House only a few days ago, is really below the level of pre-War days. The right hon. Gentleman alleges that there can be no such thing as a gradual change in our social structure, that, if the doctrines of this Resolution be applied, they must be applied, so to speak, in the lump. He finds no consolation in pulling down the house brick by brick. If it could be said that the capitalist system were one structure, there would be something in the simile; but capitalism is an aggregation of a thousand separate and different things, and it is idle to say that the course we are proposing corresponds to that of destroying a structure brick by brick or stone by stone.
What is the test by which any system should be judged? The test should be the results, and, if we have nothing else on our side in this controversy, we have the facts on our side. It is, indeed, out of those facts that a Resolution like that which is now on the Order Paper has grown. We have a measure of undeserved poverty unparalleled in the history of this country. We have that poverty side by side with unexampled unearned riches enjoyed by a favoured minority of the community. We have a state of hopelessness and insecurity on the part of millions of wage-earners which at times expresses itself in manifestations of anger and revolt; and the most industrious of the community often find themselves to be the worst treated portion of it. I have not before me the figures given in the last Report of the Ministry of Health, outlining in detail, so far as statistics can express it, the appalling list of paupers being publicly maintained and merely kept alive within this so-called prosperous Britain, but let any hon. Member go now and consult the pages of that book, and come back and find something to say in support of the system which produces those results.
I repeat that reform has been resisted, and that betterment has only been obtained as the result of pressure and agitation by those who groan under the system and have insisted that it should be modified. Indeed, the measure of our progress has been the measure of the triumph over the system itself, and we have, in fact, in these days, a Conservative Government driven, concession by concession, to try and save some fragments of the system by applying to it, in a more or less misplaced form improvised doses of Socialism. Agriculture has to be propped up with provisions of national aid; houses can only be built by means of public subsidies; private trade must rely very largely upon public guarantee to provide the money, or the interest upon it. It is, therefore, through the medium of misplaced instalments of Socialism that many of the outstanding features of this capitalist system are now sustained. There is a ceaseless scramble for the share of the product of labour—I mean the product of all forms of useful and sustained service, the labour of hand and brain. That scramble finds its expression in industrial conflict and quarrel, inflicting on the community at large, inevitably, a great degree of loss; but, so far as there have been serious disputes since the year 1919 in this country—such, for instance, as the dispute, unhappily not yet settled in connection with dock labour—they have been due to very natural resistance on the part of the workers in order to maintain their life standard and to prevent reduction of their wages. Wasteful as these conflicts are, they are certain, so long as the system lasts as we now have it.
Why are they certain? Because manual work is more degraded than dignified. It never, indeed, did stand where it ought to have stood in point of respect or pay. Indispensable service has been made unattractive and a state of industrial slavery has been imposed upon many who have had to perform manual toil. We have had to try and rescue millions of the sweated workers of Britain by setting up Trade Boards by means of Acts of Parliament, and raising them to a higher level. The tipster's clerk is better paid than the skilled engineer, the fully employed miner or the locomotive engine driver. So long as you have conditions which place your more indispensable manual workers in a condition of slavery your system cannot stand. It must give way to the more enlightened aspirations referred to in the concluding portions of my right hon. Friend's speech. The right hon. Baronet the Member for West Swansea (Sir A. Mond) began his speech in our previous Debate by alleging that my hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) in his attack on the system had not attacked capitalism. He had attacked civilisation. I am glad to have the admission that Capitalism and Civilisation are things apart. We always said they were. The right hon. Gentleman alleged that those who possessed wealth had it as the reward of industry, thrift and ability. The truth is that the ablest, the most thrifty and the most industrious men in this country have not died rich at all and are in the main men of comparatively moderate means. Money is to be made, not by thrift, not by personal industry, and not even by the application of personal ability. It is in the main to be made by seeing that you get yourself in the position of being able to make others use all those attributes in your interest.
It is alleged in the Amendment on the Order Paper that the principles of the Motion would abolish private interest and would deprive the State of the benefits of individual initiative. The truth is that individual initiative is part of that quality of genius which does not depend upon personal greed for its expression. If what is said in the Amendment were true we should have to ask one or two questions of the right hon. Baronet as to what he did while serving the State at the Ministry of Health. Did he lack all initiative because he was a State servant? Was it that he was thinking of private interests solely in the course of his public service. Can it be said that men like, say, Lord Leverhulme and Mr. Ford, to mention two different but still typical representatives of the great captains of industry, if placed in the position of being a State servant could exhibit less genius and individual initiative and organising capacity than they have shown already in the conduct of trade and business? Would anyone allege that the Postmaster-General is incapable of showing qualities of high administration and initiative for the reason that he is the largest public employer in the country? Experience then is against the conclusions which are set forth in the Amendment. A large number of captains of industry were brought to the aid of the Government in the national interest during the years of the War. Would any one of these men admit that he would serve the country less well if required, in times of peace, to put the national interest before his own? Would he carry the plea of selfishness so far as that? If so, how could such a man reprove, say, a selfish workman for doing as little as he could and getting as much as he was able? Although great business men, organisers,
and managers have found a stimulus in the competition which their enterprises have provided, they would find a driving force in co-operating for the national advantage if that advantage were raised to its proper level within a remodelled social system. Who is a good patriot? Surely he who wants property not for himself but for his country. Is the country to possess nothing but the National Debt? The truth is, that it now owns little else. The right hon. Baronet the Member for West Swansea made this extraordinary statement:
The idea that you can make money out of labour is one of the greatest fallacies in the minds of a certain number of economists."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20 March, 1923, Col. 2499, Vol. 161.]
If that be true, of economists, it is not a fallacy in the minds of employers. Money cannot be made out of anything else than labour, in one form or another, but you can make little money out of your own labour. The resourceful pioneers who began the great works in Northwich, to which the right hon. Baronet made reference, could not have carried their theories or their genius a yard had it not been for the ordinary manual labour which they had to employ, labour which has grown from a very small group into many thousands. While I want to give to the brain worker, the inventor, the captain of industry and the director the best of rewards in point both of pay and thankfulness for his services, I ask him, to be a little more considerate to the bottom dog, and to think more of every large mass of citizens who, though working, still possess every attribute of human nature as do the employing classes themselves. I cannot imagine what joy, if joy at all be, got out of it, can be got out of the sight of this huge mass of misery that we see before us in every large town and city. In a series of rhetorical questions the right hon. Baronet asked, "Would Socialism terminate every one of the evils which abound in our country?" I conclude that a similar questioning frame of mind possessed the right hon. Gentleman who last spoke. We answer and say that all the evils which are inherent in the system would certainly disappear with the disappearance of the system itself. It is not proposed to reform nature only in so far as nature itself
would be assisted towards reform by reformed conditions, by placing human beings in better surroundings, by giving them things upon which they can co-operate, by making life less of a struggle, less of an internal conflict and more of an effort for the common elevation and advance of all who are concerned.
Little has been said in the course of either of these Debates as to one of the greatest evils inseparable from this system so long as in any degree it lasts. That is the evil of unemployment. Even now, if the unemployed were put in processional form, they are so numerous that they would stretch almost from Westminster to Northwich. It is no answer to say it is all because of the War, for, though not in like degree, we had in kind, manifestations of unemployment which were heartrending long before the War began. It is admitted, indeed, that only on rare occasions, occasions of booming trade, can the system as it is find appropriate places for its masses of workers, and no system can stand which shuts out vast numbers of men and women from the opportunity to serve. I ask hon. Members what can be said for a system which gives to Britain the costliest workhouses in the world, which leaves our hospitals dependent on charity, and which subjects millions of wage-earners to a level of subsistence lower than that of prisoners and paupers. What can be said again of a system in which hardened Judges and magistrates in Divorce Courts and in County Courts have openly condemned the shameful parade of luxury and waste? What is to be said for a system which crowds into unlovely dwellings millions of the most indispensable sections of the population? Capitalism cannot even supply the necessary number of the humblest homes for the best of our manual workers. It cannot feed nor clothe them. Our prisons and our public lavatories are better built than the dwellings of the millions of the poor.
True indeed, as has been admitted, there have had to be many modifications of the system, else it could not have withstood the many attacks long before even there was an organised Labour party. The system has been modified, not merely by Act of Parliament—by that form of compulsion which the law exerts upon those who have used the brutalities of the system for their own selfish ends. The co-operative movement and the management of the interests of large portions of the community have gone far to modify the evil effects of this system. There have been and there are still millions of money invested in municipal and State property for the common benefit. These have exerted a beneficial and steadying influence upon even the capitalist system itself. So I allege that the working of many State Departments, as for instance in the case of our dockyards, the postal and telegraphic service, the working of a great system of transport through publicly owned conveyances and tramways, public services expressing in terms of capital wealth many millions of pounds, have made a contribution to modifying the severities of the capitalist system. The truth is that unchecked capitalism would be absolutely unbearable, and human standards have been procured in spite of it and not through its aid.
Take one or two instances of our wasteful system in those smaller matters which are more readily understood, and come closer to us in our daily experience. There has been issued in the past few days a Government Return explaining how, for instance, fruit, vegetables and so on finally reach the tables of the consumers. That Report gives instances where the difference between the amount received by the producer of the commodity and the amount at which the article is retailed in the shop is a difference of between 300 and 400 per cent. in many instances, and I was interested to read this in a leading article in the "Times" of 23rd June:
After the railways we have the middleman, or rather the middlemen—for occasionally there are as many as six of these intermediaries interposed between the grower and the consumer. Then comes the market—in the case of London, Covent Garden market. In no other market in the country is the accommodation so deficient and the congestion so acute. The market is owned by a private company which has not set itself to make the necessary alterations.
Where goes the difference between the pithead price of coal and the amount paid by the consumer? At the pithead you pay 18s. per ton; it is retailed at 45s., or more. It was not a Socialist who
suggested the nationalisation of the mines. It was Mr. Justice Sankey who condemned the waste of human energy in the coal industry and recommended nationalisation. It was not a Socialist, but Sir Eric Geddes, who denounced the absurd and uneconomical system of working our railways. Something has been done, in face even of the anger of a Coalition Parliament, and the discontent of a British public, to improve our railway system, and it has been saved by a semblance of Socialism, and by conditions of compulsory co-operation, which now oblige them to work more or less in common. It was Mr. Winston Churchill who, at the end of 1918, announced to the country the Government's intention to nationalise the railways, but, of course, it was Mr. Winston Churchill and his colleagues who speedily surrendered to the pressure very soon exerted upon them when the vested interests got busy after that public announcement. As to shipping, there are, I believe, hon. Members in this House who know from some personal experience how notorious are the examples of exploitation in the case of the shipping services of our country. In short, if we take only these three great national necessities to which I have just referred, we find that under this system it is certain that there will be regularly produced millionaires, misers and paupers. They are inseparable from the system itself. Here is a piece of paper torn recently out of a capitalist newspaper, the "Daily Express," containing a contrast to which I invite the attention of the House:
In the next column we have figures, dates and particulars of one family in Britain in which seven millionaires have died in succession. It will, no doubt, be alleged that that singular number of seven was accounted for by thrift, industry and ability. Nature, I think, cannot be said to be so bountiful as that in any one family, and the possession of such enormous sums is traceable to the favoured position in which property owners and landowners find themselves in industrial England. We, therefore, say that we are not on the defensive in support of this Resolution which we have deliberately placed upon the Order Paper. It is those who oppose this Resolution who must justify capitalism in face of the results which we are able to show. I agree that if any date as to when capitalism began can be fixed, it began a long time ago. Indeed, I believe it started so far back that it can be said truly that it did not come out of design; it was not a plan, an ordered, deliberate arrangement of an educated community. It has simply happened throughout the ages. It has grown up, and we are only now beginning to realise it for what it is. Men thought it had to be, because it always had been. We no longer accept that doctrine in respect to anything.
Take, for instance, the very important matter of architecture. Architecture was only thought of in the main in relation to three things in this country in former years—cathedrals, in which, of course, I include churches and all ecclesiastical structures; mansions, and almshouses. We are only now beginning to think of planning and designing towns and cities, of arranging a general body of law that shall ensure standards of health, protect children, defend the weak and shield the helpless against the merciless conditions of the system which was tolerated without resistance in a former generation. We are faced, however, with one difficulty, if no other, and that is that we have not only to show what Socialism is, but what it is not. I give only one illustration, from a quite reputable and influential paper, of the same kind of travesty of Socialism that can be found in thousands of other quarters, but I purposely quote a statement from the Sunday "Observer," because of the rank of that journal. This was the comment offered in a centre page article of that journal on the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden):
If Labour got a sufficient majority, it would try to introduce nationalisation of the mines, the railways and the land. The question of the mines for the miners, not
for the nation, the railways for the railwaymen, the land for the tillers and the graziers, would at once arise.
If those who conduct a paper like the "Observer" are under such a delusion as that, what hope is there of making simple facts plain to the ordinary man? I could carry this absurdity further and say, that the streets are to be owned by the men who sweep them or make them; our sewage system, by the men who construct the sewers; the gasworks by the men employed there; and even the proprietorship of the "Observer" itself would change under conditions where the compositors would become the personal possessors of the Press of Britain. There are cases such as those cited by my right hon. Friend this afternoon of the alleged failure of Socialism—the workshops after the Paris Revolution, the crude and fore-doomed attempts at State ownership or control in Russia. Seriously, are hon. Members, so learned in most things, to be so deceived in this? I hope that they do know better. There are three conditions inseparable from a state of Socialism. One is the assent, if not the eager acceptance, of the people concerned in the possession of State property. Secondly, there must be an understanding on the part of the community of what our community needs, and an intelligent appreciation of the fact that what the community wants for its use the community only can control. Then there must be co-operation to ensure success. Why, if a group of persons set out, whether it be in Europe or in a village, whether the group be large or small, to try to play at, or even seriously to practise, a state of Socialism they would be surrounded with every influence, every design, every purpose of a deliberate intention to produce a state of chaos. That is why, on occasion, there have been what are called Socialist or Communist communities, which have been tried and, naturally, have been a failure. Socialism, indeed, must rest upon consent, and cannot succeed on the basis of experiment, with people surrounding those experiments endeavouring, and determined, to ensure their failure. A Labour Government in Queensland had to inherit all the limitations and defects of a capitalist systems. It has been in power, and it has been guilty of the
follies cited by my right hon. Friend. The answer to my right hon. Friend, surely, is, that whatever wrong there has been on the part of that Labour Government has been condoned by the electors, for the Government has gone back with a large majority.
It is alleged that any such service as we suggest should be set up, would entail, to begin with, an army of bureaucrats, and that it could not be done without enormous waste. Part of the answer, if not the whole of it, will be found in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley, who gave proportions and figures showing how enormous is the number of people in this country who, naturally, have sought to escape from useful, productive service, and have got themselves employed in some kind of job more remunerative or more secure. But take a definite instance of what we have now, and, naturally, at this time the Ministry of Labour is the proper one to cite. Bureaucrats! Why, to-day the Minister of Labour employs 20,000 of them at an annual cost of nearly £4,000,000. What are they doing? Looking after the unemployed, scheduling them, seeing that they are properly listed and inquired into and then paying them to remain idle. That is one of the common acceptances of the system and those who defend it. It would be surely better to have a lesser number of bureaucrats employed in superintending productive work, in seeing that the unemployed earn, if not the whole, certainly some part of their living.
Your State Departments have grown enormously in the last 15 or 20 years, and yet there has been no Labour Government in power. Liberal, Tory and Coalition in turn have had authority. What is their answer to a charge, that a task of this kind, undertaken by the State, cannot be undertaken without a great army of bureaucrats having to be provided for the service? We allege that the greatest folly has been and is now being shown in resisting claims for a reasonable change, and in giving, as has often been the case to property, a power that often has been wrongly used. It is that which produces these clases of embittered class interests, and we claim that the man who has the first right to a full share of what is going is the man who is willing to work for that share, and
that the dirtier, the harder and the more dangerous the work the stronger the claim of that man. The view, commonly taken by those who hold to the existing order, is that private enterprise is assailed by this Resolution. I think that there is still in this House a number of Gentlemen who called for a public inquiry in 1919 which was presided over by my right hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. McCurdy). Their Report is available for hon. Members in the Library. It shows that they discovered that 80 per cent. of the principal businesses in this Kingdom were under the control of syndicates, combines and great aggregations of capitalists. That is the latest stage of capitalist advance which has crushed out the private trader, the brains and enterprise of the little man who wanted to keep a shop and earn a living, and who has by this system been put completely at the mercy of this big power in the trade and commerce of our country. That Report says:
We are, satisfied that trade associations and combines are rapidly increasing in this country and may within no distant period exercise a paramount control over all important branches of British trade.
What chance is there for private enterprise under such a system? What chance is there for the man who begins without property, whose only capital is the labour of his hand and brain? What chance has he when confronted with the pressing competition of such great syndicates and capitalist associations? I need not quote further from that Report, though there is much more of a like kind to be found within it. In drawing my observations to a close I would like to touch upon the effect of this power of the syndicates in respect to the housing problem which has taken up a good deal of the time of the House. I have here a letter sent to Members of Parliament from the town clerk of the City of Manchester. Remember that the council of the City of Manchester is not a Labour or Socialist body. It consists, in the main, by a very large majority, of ex-Conservatives, and its Lord Mayor is of that party. His letter goes on to say that though the costs of labour are about 100 per cent. above the pre-War level the costs of material remain at 150 per cent. above pre-War level, and an appeal is made to Members of Parlia-
ment to find a remedy. They conclude by saying:
Houses are urgently needed by the nation and we ask that the Government be urged to take immediate steps to combat the effect of trade rings at present existing in the building trade which will not enable the housing conditions in Manchester or elsewhere to be materially improved.
When one talks of progress in recent generations may I recall to the House the picture painted by Mr. Gladstone in this House of the conditions 80 years ago.
It is one of the most melancholy features in the social state of our country that we see beyond the possibility of denial that while there is at this moment a decrease in the consuming powers of the people, and an increase in the pressure of impoverishment and distress, there is at the same time a constant accumulation of wealth in the upper classes, and an increase in the luxuriousness of their habits and in their means of enjoyment.
That is language which applies at this moment to an even deeper degree. The conditions in regard to this wicked waste and wanton extravagance are worse I suppose now than at any moment in our history. They are a very pointed contribution, to the destruction of the capitalist system itself. At the last election we did not conceal our detestation of that system. We expressly appealed to the electors in our programme, which I have here, to choose between the plan which I suggest, in order to determine the social life of the people, and the plan upon which that system has rested so far, and though we have not yet received support to a degree enabling us to test that plan we take leave to remind right hon. Gentlemen opposite that for every five votes which they were able to secure we secured four. It is natural therefore that they should become more or less desperate at the signs which they see. We are not concerned with party successes, though parties in the main must be the instruments of betterment in changes in this country, but we are concerned about the rights of the mass of the people and especially about the rights of that great producing mass which so far has been wronged and robbed throughout the centuries.
It is for that reason that we are now asking Parliament and through Parliament the country at large to listen to these new views about a new order, to accept in respect to land, mines, rail- ways, industries, the great producing agencies, the great agencies and channels of distribution, the principle that the people can be better served by the people owning and controlling these agencies than they can be served by the private possession which too long we have suffered. If it be that this change is condemned as a failure we answer that it has never been tried. We answer that so far as it has been tried under proper State authority for any definite State purpose, through the assent and goodwill of the people in the State, State ownership has succeeded whether nationally or municipally, and that we are satisfied that, given the intellectual and willing acceptance of these doctrines, they cannot possibly fail.
I speak with some diffidence on this subject because consider that my colleague in the representation of the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), who is not here, and myself are the villains of the piece on this occasion. The City of London stands to-day still supreme in the capitalist world, and, as its representatives, I feel that possibly we ought to appear in a white sheet. We are not prepared to do so and for this reason. I believe that the electorate of the City of London, not because they elected myself and my colleague, are as to 50 per cent. probably superior in ability, at any rate above the average in ability, or in the good things of this world which they possess. Those good things which they possess were not inherited. They have been made by their own exertion. The lawyers of the Temple constitute a large element of the electorate of the City of London.
Those lawyers are emphatically capitalists in the sense that their industry, combined with their intelligence, have raised them to their present posi- tion in which they control large interests, and are themselves in the forefront among the capitalists whom hon. Gentlemen opposite would wish to reduce to a common level. There is one immutable law, the iron law of inequality, which I defy the Socialists to destroy without destroying the country in which they live. I will leave the lawyers to deal with this matter, but I would venture to speak on more practical matters of business, because for the fourth generation in this House, I believe since 1802, before Ricardo entered the House, my family consecutively have played a part in the cause of progress, especially with regard to the working man, but with due consideration for the progress of this country from the capitalist point of view, and we have been in business during that period. I was so impressed with the feeling and eloquence and general sincerity of the hon. Member who proposed this Motion, that for a time I was almost mesmerised and took thought as to whether everything which I and every capitalist had worked for and striven for was wrong and perhaps altogether evil. I recovered from that effect in a very short time. I still am recovering. It seems to me that all the points that the hon. Member put forward very ably were wrong. The first was that the country was suffering from some disease, increasing up to 1914; secondly, that that disease was due to capitalism; and, thirdly, that the cure was State control and Socialism.
As regards the first, I see no evidence that up to 1914 the position of the working man was getting steadily worse. Of course the world and this country were not healthy; the world never has been altogether healthy; and it is worse now, not owing to capitalism but owing to the late War. That War was not due to capitalism or to international finance, as is said in some places. You will not cure this evil by stifling all initiative. You ought rather to encourage it, because it was responsible for the better conditions of the working classes, from the industrial revival up to the time of the War. There are certain things which, I think, the House on both sides will admit did contribute, during the latter part of the last century, to the improvement of the conditions of the working classes. I would like to instance such simple things as oil, cheap oil, which was due, not only to capitalist production out to the skill of the capitalist in distribution, which enabled the oil to reach people in this country who had been in a state of absolute darkness after sundown all their lives. I can well remember that in my youth every cottage after sundown was completely in the dark, and that if it had a fire the people had to read by that, if at all. Then there was the introduction and improvement of the bicycle, which brought it within the means of almost the humblest person. That meant that the radius of the working man was raised from about a mile from his work, to four, five or six miles. That was due entirely to capitalist development and power of distribution.
It might be said that if these things are good, the State might as well take them over. I admit that if they are good and incapable of improvement the State might well do so. But that would mean that the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) did not mean what he said when he stated that the world was bad and unhealthy. It would mean that he considers that the world is now good, that these various things have been so developed that no further improvement is possible, and that in that case the State ought to take them over because there is no improvement to be expected, and the State might well get the benefit of them. The people have taken this action in one or two cases. They have done it in connection with gas and water and trams. In the case of trams they probably hit on a loser. They believed that this means of transport had been so improved that it was perfect. They were right in one respect, for there is probably no improvement to be made in trams. But it is more than probable that a new invention has come which will supersede trams and that no trams will evermore be built. If so, the State, in exercising its right to buy, has made a very bad bargain. Let us leave 1914 and get on to the conditions after the War. Now we are faced with very much unemployment. That, I believe, is due largely to the War, to the closing of all the foreign European markets, and to the dislocation of exchanges. To-day we have 1,500,000 unemployed. We see in France and in Germany and in America, countries differently situated, no unemployment. I cannot believe that the capitalist system which exists in all those countries has done the harm here which produces nearly 2,000,000 unemployed, and yet has done good in those countries where no unemployment exists.
I stand here not only to defend capitalism; I would like to throw the ball across, and say that, in my opinion, there is more harm being done and more unemployment being caused by the Proposer of this Motion and by his friends and by their bad counsel, than ever was done by anything else. The hon. Member and many of his advanced friends have preached inefficiency, and unitedly they have preached co-inefficiency. They have, either intentionally or from a want of knowledge, preached that ca-canny principle, which no one has referred to yet, perhaps because it was so often referred to in the first Debate—that ca-canny principle which has caused more distress here and made the British workman's name stand worse throughout the world than any other principle. Hon. Members opposite talk of co-operation, and of team work. All that they have done in co-operation has been to encourage team idleness and slovenliness among working men. They propose to eliminate the middleman and capital, and to give all the profit to the consumer. But why do this all at once? Why not have your co-operation and co-operative societies, your wholesale co-operative society, which is a capitalist undertaking? Why not have them and the individual working in competition at the same time? If by eliminating all the middlemen you can reduce prices, by all means do so. The individualist, the small man who has grown big and becomes a millionaire, you will ruin, presumably, at once. You think it will be done. Not for one moment. I think history has shown in the last 50 years that the individualist is well able to stand up against the co-operative society or the co-operative wholesale society.
May I get down to practical history and quote one or two facts in the history of the merchant banking house of which I have the honour to be a member? During the last 80 years we have had a considerable number of successes and have made large profits, of which the State has taken its due proportion. But what are the failures? There have been such. I would particularly call to mind two unfortunate instances in the firm's history with reference to the production and development of mines in this country and in another part of Europe. I will speak first of the history of the development of parts of this country. Having taken the best advice, as we thought, we introduced to the public the debentures of a mining institution. After we had done so, we found that the institution was not producing profits, that it would probably not pay interest on the debentures, and that it would be a very unfortunate thing for the investor. After making a thorough examination, my firm and one or two directors put up, first £100,000, then £200,000, and then £300,000 before this concern ran. When that did not pull it round and still more money was required, we almost felt like giving it up. We had a deputation from the country to say that if we did so—it was in the winter—some 20,000 men and their families would be out of work. Another £150,000 was therefore put up, and fresh management again tried. In 1908, after six years, that concern became a flourishing institution, its debentures were paid off, and since then its history has been a satisfactory one to all concerned.
I am not putting that forward in any spirit of praise of the capitalist, because he did that partly to vindicate himself with the public, partly from obstinacy, and partly not to let the investor lose his money, and incidentally not to put his men out of work. And he had his reward. If that had been a Government institution, if the Government had made a similar mistake—as they would have done, because the advisers who dealt with us were the Government advisers—would the Government have felt justified in throwing £500,000 or so after the other money? If they had done so, would they have done so openly, or would they have tried to conceal it in their accounts with various other things so that critics like my colleague in the representation of the City, and perhaps the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle) could not have found it out? The country takes grave risks in dealing with such intricate problems as mines
I will quote a second bad mistake which did not end as happily as the first. It related to a mine in Eastern Europe or Western Asia. Capitalists put up £50,000 to work a disused copper mine—disused because since 1500 it had not been touched. That £50,000 eventually became £1,000,000, and then £1,500,000, owing to the difficulty of working the ore, the unsatisfactory labour conditions and other difficulties. But by 1910 that company was earning large money. The money was all put back into the property and nothing was taken out. When the War came the mine was taken and retaken by the enemy, and we had considerable difficulty in getting our men away. In 1917 the mine was recovered and we began to work it again. That lasted for about eight months, and then once more our men had to run away. Since then it has all been waste. What is the bearing of this on Socialism, on capitalism? It is this: That the Socialists themselves made an expedition to this country, I believe on a joy-ride. Some members of the Socialist party, including the Leader of the Opposition, and, I believe, the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) went on a visit to this country of Georgia. A lady writer, well known to most of the Labour party, described the visit. She described a dinner given to the Second International by the municipality, at which the people of this mission were present. "She says that the wines and the rich food could not have been surpassed for completeness by the most expensive mountain hotel in America."
Later on she writes as follows—she refers to "this gallant little Socalist Republic" and adds:
It has a good soil, very fertile, with useful deposits of valuable minerals. Its industries might be made very productive if modernised and supplied with the necessary capital. Foreign capital is shy, however: it fears confiscation by even the moderate Socialist Government of Georgia.
They have already got £1,500,000 and I do not think the capitalists will put more there. Georgia is certain of trouble, if
it comes to be Bolshevist, either by Lenin from the outside or revolutionaries from within. Georgia needs peace and security for her happiness. There is no immediate prospect of either.
Did the capitalists do harm or good in that country? They turned a spot which had not been worked in 50 years into a flourishing township. To-day no one will work there; the Second International go
there and they complain that capital will not look at it. It will be the same thing with regard to the railways should they become nationalised. I met the Minister of a foreign country the other day who wished us to help in the building and running of a railway. I asked him whether when it was done, he wished that the State should own it entirely. He said, "For goodness sake, no. You run it. We will give you part of the capital; you can have part of the profits if there are any, because if we run it ourselves there will be none. We—the Government—own all the rest of the railways, or at least we bought them, but the men working on the railways now own them, and we dare not call our souls our own. They have the vote and they have the railways. "That is precisely what we should come to. The last speaker referred to an article in the "Observer" which went rather far. If the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) and his organisation owned the railways and the operatives owned the mills, without paying for them, then I think the rest of us would have to pay the losses which would certainly occur in running those concerns.
After 1800, the supremacy of this country was great in iron, steel and coal, and it was also great because of the superiority of the British working men over the working men of any other country. This country also had the advantage of a capitalist organisation, of bankers who stood higher in credit than those of any other country. To-day we have lost supremacy in coal, steel and iron. We have still got capitalists who stand, I believe, as high in credit as ever, but I regret to say the value of the British working men to-day as compared with the working men of other countries is not so great. I do not think anyone who has to deal with labour internationally—in the building of railways and other works—will say that the British working man to-day is the one they would choose in preference to all others, or the one to whom they would pay more, as was the case in the days when the French railways were being built. What will be the result of the policy which hon. Members opposite are advocating? Let us recall the fact that Britain is four-fifths urban, and in such a country that policy is running straight to starvation. Why not try this on a country that
can support itself? Why not get Denmark or Germany to try it. [An HON. MEMBER: "Or Russia."] You tried it in one case without success, but why not try it on another country like Denmark or Germany? Why try to force it straight on to this country, with its four-fifths urban population, where your Socialism will lead you straight to starvation? Although I heard a voice from the other side say that the lady whose opinion I quoted about the Georgian Republic was not to be accepted as an authority, yet I conclude with a quotation from another Labour leader, who, I have no doubt, some hon. Members will also disown—a Labour leader who has been in control of more labour than any hon. Member on the other side. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name!"] I refer to Mr. Gompers. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] No doubt his name will not meet altogether with favour among hon. Members on the other side, but, nevertheless, I should like to read how he describes Socialism—
I want to tell you Socialists that I have studied your philosophy, read your works on economics, studied your standard works in English and German. I have kept a close watch upon your doctrine for thirty years, I have been closely associated with many of you and know how you think and what you propose. I know too what you have up your sleeves. I want to say I am entirely at variance with your philosophy. I declare it to you. I am not only at variance with your doctrines but with your philosophy. Economically you are unsound; socially you are wrong; industrially you are an impossibility.
Since this Resolution has been before the House, one has heard and read many curious things about Socialism, but we have not heard anything new about Socialism. All the things said against it in this House are things which are within my memory as having been uttered against Socialism for over 40 years. I saw in one of the London dailies the other day something which appeared to be new. I thought people knew us better than they appear to do. It was said in this journal that it might well be thought that the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowdon) could have wished that the Government had been unable to find a day for the further discussion of his Motion. I thought anyone who knew anything about Socialism or Socialists knew, as a matter of fact and not of theory, that the more Socialism is discussed the wider its area of influence grows and the longer the period which passes, the more adherents it gains. The hundreds became thousands, and the thousands are to-day millions. I am quite aware that it will be said that not all the individual members of the Labour party are Socialists, and I know that is so. I admit that of the millions who voted for the Labour party there must necessarily be a large proportion who are not conscious Socialists, but they are on the road. They are rebellious against the existing order of things with which they had been content so long. It was that apathy and indifference which we sought to kill, knowing full well that if we aroused a keen interest in the condition of affairs in the State, Socialism is as inevitable as that to-morrow will follow to-day. Over 40 years ago I joined the ranks of the Socialist movement in a large city of 400,000 to 500,000 inhabitants, and we had the magnificent total of about a score. We knew the task we had set ourselves to do. We knew very well that practically all the ideas held by the ordinary people had to be got rid of. We had not merely to implant Socialist ideas in the minds of people, but we had to get rid of other ideas, and that was very largely what is described in the Scriptural phrase as being born again.
At that time there was not a Socialist, not even a Labour Member, in this House, and, probably, there were not 100 men or women of Socialist views on the whole of the local authorities throughout the Kingdom. We did not hire halls then; we had to take the traditional orange box to the street corner. We are still taking it there, because it has yet part of its usefulness to fulfil, but despite the antagonism which Socialism has to meet, despite the antagonism in church and in chapel and on political platforms, and by the capitalists as a class, despite the fact that practically the whole Press of the nation was, and is still, in the hands of our enemies and used unscrupulously in misrepresenting the idea of Socialism—despite all that opposition we are growing, and I, for one, at practically the end of a long period of life, am satisfied with the progress we have made, and I am as certain of ultimate realization as that I am addressing the House at the present moment. Those who attack the principle of Socialism do not seem in the first place to understand it, and they talk in terms which are in no sense commensurate with the idea. The right hon. Member for West Swansea (Sir A. Mond) in his speech on the last occasion said that at last we had a clear cut issue between individualism and Socialism. Unfortunately, that is not true. Individualism has already been so far defeated that there is no clear cut issue between the two. The issue, though perhaps not so well understood, was economically very much more clear 50 or 60 years ago than it is to-day. You have been compelled all along the line to modify your individualist system by organisation, by combines, and by trusts, and so to take possession of the idea for which Socialism stands while using it only for the purposes of private profit. Nevertheless it proves that the theory of the organisation of society for which Socialism stands, is correct even from the capitalist point of view, and the day is coming when the State will take that theory of organisation and work it for its own advantage.
With reference to the capitalist system as it exists to-day, I have heard a good deal this afternoon as to the improvement in the condition of the working man compared with 50 years ago. I admit the working man's condition is better. By those modifications, I have mentioned, under which our idea lies, conditions have been better. They have not been made better by the capitalist, system of society, but rather by the negation of that system to a certain extent. Take the question of national education. National education is not by any means what it ought to be, but it is certainly an advance upon what it was in my boyhood. That is not due to the capitalist conception at all, because the capitalist conception is merely profit making. I hear hon. Members sometimes say what losses the capitalists have made in this or that direction. It is quite true they make losses individually, but it is not true that in the aggregate they make losses. Individual capitalists or groups of capitalists may lose, but the whole capitalist system gains, and it would cease to-morrow unless that gain were more or less assured to it. Does anyone imagine that capitalism exists for any purpose except profit? Let us take bread. It munitions of war give a higher profit than bread making, capital flows from the making of bread into munitions of war, and so in regard to every industry that you can imagine. The people need food and clothing and house accommodation, but capitalism meets those needs only in so far as it can make a profit out of exploiting them, and if there is no profit in the exploitation, then you can starve for the lack of bread, go cold for the lack of clothing, and wander the streets for the lack of housing.
I have heard it said during this discussion that a good many of the things about which we are troubling have arisen out of the late War, and I have heard that said with regard to unemployment. One of my first public acts, as quite a young man, was to take part in an unemployed demonstration, not as an unemployed man, but as an organiser, and that was well over 40 years ago. There is not a thing said about unemployment to-day, as to its evil effects and as to the desirability of finding some remedy, that was not said then, and from that day to this I have been listening to politicians, who all of them at election times have pledged themselves to do something to do away with unemployment. One or other of the parties has been from that time returned to this House, and we are here to-day with the worst unemployment we have ever had in our history, at any rate, so far as I know. What has been done? To-day there is very little more organisation for meeting unemployment by finding employment than there was 40 years ago. The method of taking people and taxing those in employment of their small earnings in order that they may keep other people out of employment to walk about and do nothing is worthy, I was going to say, of a lunatic asylum, but I do not think a lunatic asylum would be guilty of it, yet we contemplate it as being about the only thing we can possibly do.
What are the unemployed? A few years ago we were told in every unemployment crisis that there was a vast number who were unemployable, but to-day we scarcely ever hear that term at all. As a matter of fact, those million and a half, or, if you take the people on short time, you can well say those two millions of people who are short of employment and thus short of the things which make life possible, in any decent sense of the term, are filled with physical and mental power, skilled in hand and brain, and, if their labour were organised, could produce things for use which would very largely, if not entirely, keep them without any subsidy at all. If you took a man like the right hon. Member for West Swansea and said to him: "Take this body of unemployed people, utilise the power that is in their bodies, give rein to the desire expressed in their soul that they should work for their livelihood, and apply that power and skill to the raw material which the State can find," I am certain that you would not have to find money to keep the unemployed at all. They would go on and keep themselves, and the only reason why that is not done is because the capitalist who controls society sees very well that a national organisation commenced on those lines would inevitably spread, and drive a wedge further and further into the capitalist system, until by and by it would be helping the evolution into the new state of society.
The right hon. Member for West Swansea said that capitalism had existed as long as the world had existed. I am bound to say that, in so far as I have read the speeches on this Motion, his was about the cleverest—and I still think it is the cleverest—that has been delivered against our position, but what speech is it? It is the speech of a political advocate pleading for his side. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about yours?"] I have never done so in my life. I am pleading for the thing that I believe to be good for the country, for you, the capitalist class, as well as for ourselves. I plead for the condition which will take the workman out of the position of wage slavery, in which he exists to-day, and place him upon a pedestal where no man shall dare to say him nay from the point of view of earning his livelihood, and where he shall be able, as a result of earning his livelihood, to stand before God and man as the equal of his fellows. I say that the right hon. Member for West Swansea knew better. There is not an economist in the world who will tell you that capitalism has existed since the world began. He himself knows better. The early part of man's history, so far as I have read it, was individualism—the cave man and the man who dwelt in the tree-tops.
Then came what he himself spoke of as the tribal system. Was there any capitalism about the tribal system? He also said that Socialism had existed since the beginning of the world. Somehow or other, he seems to have got mixed a bit. It is quite true that in the early stages of man primitive Communism abounded throughout the earth, and if you will examine that to-day you will find that, with all its shortcomings, it was a far more humane idea, that thought more of its people than we do to-day, because we, to-day, very largely think nothing at all about them. Your industry to-day is run purely for the purposes of profit, and you have your accidents growing. Deaths and maimings of workpeople employed in industry are well known by those who work in industry to be considerably heavier than they have any need to be. You run your system until there are diseases applicable to certain industries, industrial diseases peculiar to a particular industry, and that surely is a condition of things that one cannot possibly face with equanimity. I, myself, as an old railway man, know something about railways, and I know very well that to-day, although things are better on the railway than they were, there are men killed and maimed whose lives and limbs could be saved, if not profit but the welfare of the men who work for the community were the first consideration.
Let us for a moment consider the railways a little further. We have been urging the nationalisation of the railways, and, in my humble judgment, the late Government had some intention of nationalising those railways, but they thought better of it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Because of the opposition of the vested interests behind them, not because their judgment was wrong. And so you have the spectacle of the number of railway companies being diminished to five, I think it is. Can anyone tell me that they could not be better run down to one, and then run with greater skill and efficiency, and at less cost, than by five? Just as five can do it better than one hundred, so one could do it better than five. A good deal has been said about the way in which Socialism is coming. The hon. Member for Colne valley (Mr. Snowden) has been taken to task for speaking of gradual evolution. How else can it come? I have heard people talk about Socialism in Russia. The people who talk of Socialism in Russia are either exhibiting their crass ignorance, or they are knaves and know better, though they will not say so.
I am afraid they are a mixture, but if you want to judge of the position with regard to Russia, and if you want to identify it with Socialism, how do you explain the simple fact that the Socialists of Russia have opposed the Soviet form of Government from the very beginning, and not only so, but, according to their numbers, have suffered more than others in the way of persecution, in death, in imprisonment, and in exile? And they are to-day more or less, for their very opposition to them—
I am not going to blame the Russians. The Russian revolution was not made by Lenin and Trotsky. It was made by the bloody deeds of the Tsars of generation after generation, and no man can make a revolution. It was the outcome of the deeds of tyranny that Russia had suffered for long ages that brought about the revolution, and if we had been there, we might have thought very differently about it from what we do. At any rate, no Socialist ever expected anything else would happen. You cannot have Socialism until you have a fairly sound democracy, and not only a sound form of democracy, but a fairly intelligent, educated people. That was not the case in Russia. Inevitably, the catastrophe which fell upon her came from an endeavour to put into practice that which could not possibly succeed. We in this country do not desire to do that. It would be disastrous in this country, even with its well-developed democracy, to try to shut up shop on the capitalist system to-day, and to re-establish another form of society to-morrow. Sometimes men are appalled at the magnitude of the change for which Socialism stands. I can well understand that, if they do not think round the question. If you take the earlier history of our own people, if you take the tribal system and the system of to-day, you will find that there is far more difference between the existing facts of to-day and what was true then, than there would be between a Socialist state following upon a capitalist state to-day. It has always beeen so in every change of human society. In the capitalist state of to-day, the very modifications that are continually put before us as necessary, in a thousand and one directions they indicate the line of advance on which society is going to-morrow.
We are told that Socialism is impossible from the standpoint of human nature. One hon. Member said that no one would work unless he was assured of that for which he worked. The hon. Member must have misunderstood the facts of life. Millions upon millions of people work, but do not get what they earn. If they did, there would not be any profit. If a man got really what he earns, what would there be left for anybody else? Only in so far as your capitalist system organises its industry on the main lines of a huge factory, where you can get thousands of work-people, and you take out of them full value and only pay them a small part of what they produce, do you get your profit. I am not one of those who disbelieves in human nature. I have a profound faith in human nature, and that faith is very largely based upon what I know of it in myself. That may sound egotistical. You can think so if you like; but I can honestly say that ever since I took up this work it has been my endeavour not to work in my own interests, because it was not in my own interests, but I have striven, as far as one man can strive, to convert people to this doctrine. My desire and our interest is to bring about Socialism which will do away with competition for daily bread. That is all that your competitive system means, a struggle for bread, and that always eventuates in evil results. We want to bring the principle of co-operation into being, where men will strive for the good of the community, themselves included.
I have spent a good many years of my life at sea, and from my knowledge of men at sea in those days I know that from the time that they left the shipping office till they came back and drew their wages, they thought very little about their wages. Any man on board ship in those days, I do not know about to-day, who did not pull his weight, merely because he was not getting a sufficient wage, would be speedily in bad odour with his shipmates, because there was a sense of common life, of common humanity, and a realisation that each man's life, more or less, depended upon the faithfulness of the work that his fellows did. I feel that in myself. I have had many things in my mind illustrating how the human being is sacrificed to the benefit of others. Therefore, I can realise the possibility of mankind in the mass being affected by his surroundings and rising into a very much higher altitude of humanity and of love for his fellows than at the present time.
Hon. Members must know that in the ordinary capitalist industry the aim of the employer is to get as much as possible out of the man. When workmen have had to struggle for modifications of their bad conditions, and finding resistance to increased pay, to decreased hours, to the fencing of machinery, and to the making of industries safe, because it costs money, and having had to do this for generations, do you suppose that it has not had an effect upon them, and how can you expect that when greater freedom does come to them, they in their turn may express their feelings in some kind of selfishness? We are told that we cannot produce equality, equality of brain, and so on. That surely is an old story. What we can produce, and what we are seeking to produce, is equality of opportunity. We shall leave the initiative, the energy and the vigour of the individual to find its own level, but we seek that individual opportunity under which the individual will be able to earn his livelihood, and no one will possess the power to take it from him.
We sometimes hear in this House expressions of a desire for universal peace. Supposing by the wave of the magician's wand universal peace could be secured to-morrow, people would say that it was a beautiful thing, but would it be true? What would happen to the unemployed workmen when strong, able-bodied men came home, disbanded from the Army, and found employment, and by doing so they displaced those in employment, who were turned into the ranks of the unemployed? Sometimes I have heard men talk about the moral concept of not living in idleness, and every man earning his livelihood. Supposing we converted the upper classes of this country to that moral concept and they said, "We will no longer live in idleness. We will go down into the world's market and do something for our living." They would meet with the sternest opposition from the working-classes everywhere, who would say to them, "Go back to the place whence you came. There is no need for you to come and work. You are only taking the bread out of our mouths."
I once said to a lady friend of mine—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—Yes, and a titled lady at that. I was pleading for a palatial school for the children in the town in which I lived. She said, "That is all very well; but, whilst I am with you, so far as putting up a proper school goes, I do not see why I should be called upon to pay for those things which are not essential." I said, "My lady, think what the education of your children cost. "She replied, "Yes, but we paid for our children's education, and now you are asking us to pay for others as well." I said: "Is that true? Supposing I beg, borrow or steal £100,000, and I invest it in a railway company. Being a young married man, with four or five children, I should have sufficient means to have my children looked after, so my wife and myself will travel the world. We travel for 20 or 30 years. During that time, how much of human service shall we have consumed? Coming home, I think of the £100,000, and I say to myself, 'It will be getting smaller by this time. I will make inquiry from the railway company, and see how much is left, so that we shall not have to go to the workhouse.' Lo, and behold, when I go to the railway company I find that the £100,000 is now £110,000, after I have been spending for all these years. Apply that to wages and see where the wages will go. What is your answer to that proposition, my lady?" I asked. She laughed. I said, "May I supply the answer?" She said, "Yes, if you like." I said, "Would not my children, my wife and myself have been maintained all these years out of the unpaid services of the men who run the railway?" She was much more honest than most capitalists, and she said, "Yes, I am afraid that is true." You cannot imagine any other proposition.
Talk about your moral society, where men for generations have done no work, and do not intend to do any, and who under your system can go on, with their people, for hundreds of years, predestined to live, not merely upon you, but upon you and your children's children, generation after generation. If you reduce that down to small proportions, which you can see it in your home, what would be the result where there is half a dozen of you? Let one of the half dozen say, "No, I am not going to work. I am going to be a landlord." Let another say, "I am not going to work, I am a capitalist." The other four would say, "If you do not do your share of the work you get outside." Surely any man with sense must know that as far as material things are concerned, the man who does not produce has nothing wherewith to pay in honour and decency for that which he consumes. I want to see a condition of society which I am quite sure Socialism would at least bring nearer. I have been listening this afternoon to the various speeches, and a good deal of what has been voiced I have heard in this House a hundred times. Hon. Members have asked the question, "Where are you going to sell the stuff that you make?" It never seems to strike hon. Members opposite that you can eat the food you grow, that you can wear the clothing you yourselves make, and that you yourself can dwell in the houses that you put up. Surely that is the proposition for which Socialism stands. It does not stand for making houses, and clothing, and growing food, and selling these things in order to make a profit out of them, and then going and getting your livelihood by spending that profit. It simply means that the more people under Socialism you can have to work you will not have a worse but a better community, for many hands make light work.
Hon. Members opposite do not mean to tell me they do not at the bottom of their hearts know that the million and a half people who are out of work to-day, properly organised and given the opportunity, could produce enough to keep not merely the million and a half, but two millions and a half on the basis of to-day's requirements? "Let us get back to the days before the War" it is urged by some. You will never get back to the days before the War, any more than you will get back to yesterday. Conditions are such to-day, whatever may have been the case in the past, as to the possibility of providing sufficient for all, that matters are looked at in a different light. Even men like Lord Leverhulme in England and Ford in America would say the same, and they are, at least, men who know, and they know very well that our powers of production have outstripped in any possible imagination our powers of consumption. What I want to do is to bring the two together, and not bring this artificial system where money intervenes, and where food, raiment, and shelter are produced by those who are unable to enjoy them.
Under the capitalist system, if you look at the mass population, you find hundreds of thousands of men employed in coal mining. I am not referring now to those who are labouring for wages that are less than the standard, but take the best-paid miners and the men who make the highest wages in any industry; the railway, the mines, the workshop, or the factory. When you have taken the highest wage that you are paying you are paying starvation wages from the point of view of providing that man and his wife and family with the decencies of an ordinary civilised life that should obtain to-day.
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE:
Before I come to the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down, I should like to utter a word or two of congratulation to the hon. Member for the City (Mr. Grenfell) upon the successful maiden speech he has made this afternoon. I should be very sorry to think that that maiden speech was his swan song. The value of his contribution to this Debate would justify the City in keeping him here in spite of any inconvenience it may impose elsewhere. In regard to the speech of the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Irving), there is no man in this House who is better entitled to speak Socialismthan he. For 40 years he has put up a very consistent, gallant and courageous fight for the principles he has expounded now. In doing so he has won the respect of those who profoundly disagree from him in every particular. The fact of his sincerity was manifested in the way in which he expounded clearly and simply the doctrine of Socialism. We have heard it for the first time in the course of this Debate. He even expounded it simply to crudeness, and I think he put it on the right ground when he made his defence of the tribal system. Then he went on to make it quite clear in his argument about the railways that there was no compensation. That is surely the first time that has been clearly stated in the course of this Debate, because his arguments mean, if there is to be no return in respect of capital invested in the railways, then no payment is to be made to those who hold any part of that capital. That is the first time that argument has been very clearly put.
The right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood what I said. What I did say was that would stop their profit making. They could take their capital and do whatever they liked with it.
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE:
Then there is nowhere else where they can invest it. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Save it, and spend it."] It is exactly the same thing as expropriating it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] However, it is quite appropriate that that statement should come from him. [Interruption.] We listened to the hon. Member very patiently and with very great interest, if I may say so. This is a proposition to uproot the system, which, with all its defects, has raised this country to a position of high preeminence in wealth and power, and to substitute for it something in the precarious, delicate, and complicated machinery of commerce, which has not been tried anywhere. I am not going to quote the case of Russia. I may quite agree that there are many reasons why it is not fair to quote it. It is the only experiment which up to the present has been made on a national scale, and it is not encouraging. This is the worst country in the world to make an experiment of that kind. You might make it in a country with great inherent resources, agricultural and mineral, and if it failed you could restore the position after a good many years of suffering. You could do it in a great agricultural community like Russia. There will be confusion, chaos, and a good deal of distress, but Russia will survive. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] She will survive. She has gigantic resources. That is not the case with a country which has built up a great business on generations of goodwill, whose resources have been piled up gradually throughout the whole of those centuries. Once you despite that goodwill, once you spend those resources, disaster is irretrievable, totally irretrievable. That is why this is the worst country in the world to make an experiment of the kind. The mistake will be irrecoverable. No country whose wealth has been built up under the same conditions as ours, once that trade, business, and commerce is lost, can ever recover.
I am only putting down the risks. The risks are greater here. Therefore, before that change is made, there must be an overwhelming case to justify this country in undertaking risks which would be so disastrous if a mistake were made. Hon. Members to make their case must prove two things at least. They have got to prove that the present system is a complete failure in providing such essentials of happiness and well-being as are within the resources of the country. They have got to prove, in the second place, that the plan they propose as a substitute will do that very much better. They have not attempted to prove that up to the present. There are defects in the present system, failures in the present system. Let me at once say that I was one of those who listened with great admiration to the speech of the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden). I never heard the case for Socialism presented with greater power and lucidity; but let me put this to him: Does he imagine, in assuming his system is a good one, that there will be no defects, no failures that would not have to be remedied, altered, and redressed from year to year, and from generation to generation You are dealing with systems which have to be run by men. The defects of human nature will not come to an end when a system advocated so eloquently by the hon. Gentleman comes into operation. You will have greed, selfishness, mistakes and defects.
I should like to put this to hon. Members: The system which now exists we have had for a little over a century, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) said in his speech to-day. Over a century ago this country was an agricultural country, dependent upon agriculture and upon the trades associated with agriculture. That system may undoubtedly have had great evils, which rose under and out of it, but all you have to do is to give a catalogue of those evils in order to remind Members how much has been done to remedy them. What were those evils? Very long hours, very low wages, overcrowding of dwellings, appalling insanitary and unhealthy factories and workshops; all the anxieties, all the distress, that arose out of precariousness of labour conditions—ill-health, unemployment, old age, accidents, child labour, employment of women in occupations for which they were not suited—go through the whole category, and it recalls to one's mind the gigantic efforts put forward in the course of last century to redress those evils.
Let me take two of the very worst. Take unemployment. I have heard during the 30 years I have been in this House many speeches from hon. Members belonging to the Labour party stating, and stating quite truly, that there was nothing that caused more anguish and distress than the fear of unemployment and the consequences of unemployment. Take what has happened during the last three years. The Prime Minister, in that great statement which he made on Thursday, called attention to the fact that during the last two or three years the State has spent £400,000,000 on dealing with the destitution and poverty that comes from unemployment. There is a very remarkable survey which has just been completed by the Toynbee Hall Institution. This is what they say, and it is a survey of the results of unemployment in East London:
As regards the effect of unemployment in increasing physical privation and distress the evidence is clear, and there is no difficulty in drawing a conclusion, which is that the unexampled increase in unemployment has resulted in a comparatively negligible increase in distress, as compared with the pre-war standard.
Then they go on to give the reasons:
It cannot be doubted that the absence of distress is due almost entirely to the benefits under the Unemployment Insurance Act, which is heavily subsidised by loans from Government funds, and to the high scale of relief given by the guardians, which is provided by the rates.
This survey points out that there was no distress as the result of unemployment in consequence of the great efforts which were put forward. That is quite a new experience, and it is the first time an endeavour has been made on a great scale adequate to the need to avoid the
distress. Take housing, for example. Up to within the last three or four years the endeavours of this House to solve the problem of housing consisted of two enabling Acts, and the State, as a whole, practically took no hand. In 1919 that policy was changed, and since then the State has undertaken a liability of £180,000,000 for the purpose of providing houses of a high quality and a high standard, and 220,000 houses have been built. I agree that it is the first time, and I agree it is insufficient. I only want to point out that great, gigantic efforts have been made for dealing with these evils.
I now come to the Amendment, and the whole question is, Has enough been done? Up to the present the Debate, in so far as hon. Members who opposed the Motion are concerned, has been confined to demolishing the case made by my hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden). It is not enough, however, simply to answer the case for Socialism. We have got to point out what more can be done in order to complete the remedy of the evils, the inevitable evils which are associated with any system. Therefore, I am going to call attention to the latter part of the Amendment as it was put from the Chair, which declares that this House
is resolved to prosecute proposals which, by removing the evil effects of monopoly and waste, will conduce to the well-being of the people.
I want to put this point. Those who are most anxious to preserve the present system ought to be the most anxious to remedy the evils which arise from it. Unless they do so, I am certain that the bulk of the workers of this country will come to the conclusion that they are evils which are inherent in the system. Therefore, in order to keep it alive and preserve it, in order to prevent the working people of this country from rushing into extremes which, in my heart, I should regard as disastrous, it is essential that the House of Commons should take in hand the redressing of obvious evils in that system. May I just point out two or three of the most obvious. It is idle to say that all is well in the present system. Reference was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) to infantile mortality, and he said there
had been a great improvement. Undoubtedly that is so, but there is no doubt that the statistics are perfectly appalling at the present moment. I quote that, because it is a test of social conditions.
It is not merely the children, the babies and infants who suffer, but it means that the parents suffer. Parents would not sacrifice their children unless they were forced to do so by the conditions under which they live, and all the House has to do is to take a fairly healthy neighbourhood with a well-to-do population—I do not mean an affluent population, but a fairly well-off population—and take the percentage of deaths there, and compare it with districts where you have a large working-class population in some of our industrial areas, and it will be found that the deaths are double, treble and quadruple. That is a proof that there is still existing amongst us a condition of things which is a reflection on our civilisation. I quoted a moment ago from a document which is a survey of the conditions in East London from Toynbee Hall. That document stated that there was no destitution as a result of unemployment, and it goes on to say—
It must not be imagined from this conclusion that East London is not suffering from distress. The standard of living in East London is normally low, and conditions are normally miserable. The fact that the conditions have not become worse means only that the unemployed have not, as a rule, fallen from poverty to destitution.
That is in the metropolis of a great Empire. These are the quarters of the metropolis in which the working people live, where the normal conditions are those of distress and poverty, where you have 3,000,000 people living under slum conditions, and many more under conditions which are not compatible with the amenities of civilised life. I have been reading recently reports from organisations of the Church of England, not Socialist organisations, not organisations engaged in propaganda work for either Communists or the Labour party, or anyone else, but organisations engaged in the task of ameliorating the social conditions in some of our industrial areas, and they provide very painful reading, and they are ominous reading. This is the kind of thing one clergyman says to another in these reports:
The elder people are resigned. They are broken-spirited. The young people are
sullen, disaffected, rebellious and revolting against existing conditions, and are resolved that they will not tamely submit to them.
Those are the reports that have come in from charitable institutions under the Established Church. That is the real danger and not hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway. The real danger comes from the fact that we have conditions of that kind still amongst us, and we have got to face it. I should like to go beyond that and point out to the House of Commons circumstances which fill me with a great deal of apprehension from the after-effects of the War. Those facts are greater than we apprehended, and I think they are more potent. If anyone doubts that the War has made a permanent impression upon the people of this country he has only to look at one fact, that hon. Members who challenge the existing order of things, at the last Election, for the first time, polled 4,250,000 votes. The House will make a very great mistake if it goes away merely with the idea that everything is all right, because it has demolished an impossible proposition made by the hon. Member for Colne Valley. The facts will remain, and it is not his arguments, powerful as they are, but the facts that we have to consider.
Let us look at those facts. The War has created a new problem. What is it? During the War the standard of comfort and plenty throughout the land was raised to a level such as we have never seen before. There has never been so much abundance and fullness among the vast majority of the people of this country as there was during the War. There is nothing which is so remarkable as the contrast between the grim tragedy of the battlefield and the condition of things at home. What has happened since? Most of the progress made in the direction of improving conditions has already been lost. There are many trades in this country where the workmen are worse off than they were before the War, having been very much better off during the War, and in other trades the advantage is gradually slipping away. There are trades where men were working and receiving considerable wages in which now the times are very hard. In the last two years, 1921 and 1922, the aggregate wages of the working classes have gone down by £540,000,000 per annum, but there is always the memory of what happened during the War which stirs up discontent. In the old days when there was discontent you could blame your parties for it, but now you have to blame systems, and that is the danger. I will just give to the House my real apprehensions with regard to the immediate future. I have read many hopeful reports from trade experts during the last few years. They always said, "We have touched bottom; henceforth there will be steady progress; in a very short time we shall return to the old line of prosperity, and then we shall pass it." I am not blaming the trade experts; they made their reports upon returns that came to them from the various industries of the country. Those who were engaged in those industries were basing their estimates upon what they remembered about the depressions of the past. The whole situation is changed, the causes are different; and I should like the House to consider, very frankly and very fearlessly, what is the position with which we are confronted. Before the War, the national income, including everybody, was between £2,200,000,000 and £2,300,000,000. I am taking the figures from the well-known work of Sir Josiah Stamp, who is the greatest living authority upon the subject. He has made an estimate for last year. His estimate for last year is a national income of from £3,000,000,000 to £3,200,000,000. You say, "That is an improvement." Quite the reverse; it is less. The increase in the cost of living last year was 80 per cent. over the pre-War period. In order to have an income which is equal to the 1914 income, the income of last year ought to be over £4,000,000,000. The income of this country last year was £1,000,000,000 less than its income in 1914.
Take its trade. We are a country that is more dependent upon foreign trade than any country in the world; in fact, than any country the world has ever seen. At the present moment our exports are 70 per cent. of what they were before the War. I am talking of quantities, which is the only real test. I ask the Government, and I ask the House of Commons to consider what that means. Our national indebtedness has gone up from between £600,000,000 and £700,000,000, to £7,000,000,000. Our external Debt is £300,000,000 more than the total of our National Debt before the War. Our rates and taxes are trebled and quadrupled, our population has increased, our foreign trade has gone down by 30 per cent. What would be the position of a firm whose trade had gone down 30 per cent., whose overhead charges had quadrupled, and whose staff on its books had increased? I ask whether that would not fill any board of directors with some apprehension with regard to the future? I know the Prime Minister suggested in his statement on Thursday that the present condition of things was very largely due to the Ruhr Valley, and there are multitudes of people in this country who believe that the moment that question is settled all will be well, exchanges will be restored, trade will improve, and you will recover your lost prosperity. Is that so? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]
I am just as opposed to the occupation of the Ruhr Valley as the Prime Minister is. I protested against it when I was Prime Minister, and I protested against it afterwards; but let there be no miscalculation with regard to the result, even of a settlement there. Supposing you settled Reparations to-morrow, and you had real peace in Europe—the Germans satisfied, France satisfied, Belgium satisfied, ourselves satisfied—you would say, "Then comes prosperity." What are the facts? Let us look at them, and let us look at them frankly. The purchasing power of the world has diminished. You cannot spend £50,000,000,000, and at the same time have it there to spend. It took 20 years to recover from the Napoleonic Wars. How was recovery effected then? By an enormous increase in labour-saving appliances. That increased wealth rapidly, but, although it shortened the period of distress, it intensified it as long as it lasted. Industrial countries are doing exactly the same thing now. They are engaged in improving their machinery, in order to save labour and increase production, but even that will increase the number of unemployed.
Take our position with regard to foreign competition. I know my right hon. Friend opposite thinks that if you put up a tariff all will be well. At the present time we are not suffering from foreign competition. We are selling 70 per cent. of our pre-War trade. Germany was only selling 40 per cent. of her pre-War trade last year, and is selling hardly half that to-day. The moment peace is restored in Europe, and the exchanges are stabilised—it does not matter at what figure you stabilise; you can stabilise your mark at a million, you can stabilise your franc at 100, and your kronen at 300,000, it makes no difference, it is the fact that they are stabilised that will make the difference—such advantages as we have from the difficulties that our competitors have experienced in making business because of the fluctuations of the exchange will have vanished. You will then be face to face with the real rivalry and the competition. And what sort of competition? France has not been rebuilding her devastated areas; she has reconstructed them with factories built on the newest models. I ask any hon. Member of this House who has not done so to read the very remarkable Report which has just been issued by the Over seas Trade Department in regard to what has happened in France. It begins by saying, "The economic position of France is sound," and it points to new factories built on the latest models, machinery of the latest invention, new docks constructed, old ones re-equipped, old canals widened and deepened, new ones constructed, new railways built, old ones electrified, new power created, the mercantile marine of France increased by over one million tons, its exports over 100 per cent. of the War period, and new resources. Really, I could not read without a sense of amusement one paragraph in M. Poincaré's speech this morning, when he denounced the immorality of Germany in spending money upon constructing new canals while she owed money to other people. A new France has sprung up—not out of the ruins of the old—but out of the devastation of a single province. She has increased enormously her capacity for production, of the very things we are selling in foreign countries. In Germany the same thing is happening. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"] Certainly. Her foreign trade is diminished, her credit has gone, her population is suffering; but she has not been idle. She also has been building railways, she also has been building new factories, and extending old ones; she also has been re-equipping her factories. They are all ready for the great development which may take place when the settlement comes I am sorry to dwell upon facts which appear to be so hopeless and pessimistic, but it is the business of the House of Commons to face these facts, however distressing they may be. What I am going to suggest to the Government is this. I fear that the period of depression is going to be prolonged. I am honestly apprehensive about it—I ventured in this place, in November, to predict that we should hardly find our unemployed below 1,000,000 at the end of this year. I remember I was attacked then for being unduly alarmist. Is there anyone here now who will say that I was unduly pessimistic? I do not say there will not be fluctuations, spurts, as there were in the Napoleonic days, but I do say that we are in for a long period of depression such as we have not seen in our lifetime. This aggravates existing evils, and I am going to make an appeal to the Prime Minister.
I do not believe any of the proposals that are put forward will be the slightest use. Take the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden). Does anyone imagine that we are going to get out of the difficulties with which we are confronted by nationalising mines, and railways, and factories? Is that going to get over the post-War difficulties with which we are confronted? Anybody who believes that is a very simple-minded man. I would suggest to the Prime Minister that the time has come for having a real survey of the position of affairs, an inquiry by Parliament into the causes of discontent; an inquiry into the post-War conditions, with a view to arriving, first of all, at the real facts, and the best method of meeting them. There is no time lost. Hon. Members have proposals of their own. The other day the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Sydney Webb), in a very optimistic speech, predicted that they would not have the opportunity of putting them into operation until 1926, that is three years hence. Does he really imagine that until they are able to secure a majority in this House they are going to induce this House of Commons to attempt anything in the nature of the proposals put forward by the hon. Member? Is it not, therefore, better that there should be a searching inquiry into the whole of the facts?
The hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Irving) has already told us that his party are not unanimous in supporting the Resolution of the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden). Whatever the party opposite may think and say, at any rate they are not in agreement with regard to the methods by which the industry of this country is going to be conducted in the future. They are not in agreement in regard to who is to take the place of the private capitalist. Some Members opposite advocate complete State Socialism. The State, according to them, is to own all capital, control production and dispense all reward. Others, and by no means the least intelligent, as they include the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), a system whereby the industry is possessed by and directed by the workers—a form of ownership which is the most selfish that can be conceived; a form which is bound to lead to endless dissention among the various industries of the country. It is interesting to notice that under the several Socialistic theories we have suggested to us, not very much attention is paid to that ordinary person the general consumer. Hon. Members do not seem to care what will happen to him. But whatever may be the demerits of the capitalist system, it has this advantage, that the consumer is the deciding factor and absolutely dictates what shall be produced, and in the most extreme cases, if the consumer is prepared to exercise a little self-control, he can dictate the prices he will pay for the goods.
The hon. Member for Colne Valley said he would proceed "step by step," and that no confiscation is involved. No one, of course, doubts the honesty of the intentions of the hon. Member, but I suggest he himself is beginning to have some doubt as to the feasibility of putting his theories into practice, hence the eclectic form of Socialism he proposes. I suggest, or rather I emphatically state, that a great number of the advocates of Socialism, I will not say in this House, but outside this House, will use the hon. Member's words "step by step" with their tongues in their cheeks and with the simple intention of lulling the mind of a very large number of their followers who are now hesitating as to what they shall do. Hon. Members opposite, in dealing with this matter, seem to imagine they are building with a box of bricks rather than with the incalculable forces and passions of human nature, and if they should get their Resolution and their ideas into operation, very unforeseen results may follow. May I point out that up to the present no State (with but one exception) has adopted full-blooded Socialism. Many States have experimented with it, and without wearying the House I will endeavour to give some examples of the results of those experiments in order to prove the fallacious reasoning of those who advocate that this form of control should be adopted in this country. This country, with its vast trade operations, based upon such complicated conditions and intricate finance should be the last to make an experiment of this kind, the consequences of which even hon. Members opposite will acknowledge are quite unforseeable. I propose to give just a few examples to show the results of these experiments. I was rather interested in what fell from the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes), when he said that in every case where State control had been adopted it had been successful. I was extremely surprised at that piece of information.
Let me commence with that country which was the original home of Socialistic thought—Germany. Since the War a more or less Socialist Government has been in control in Germany, and one would have imagined it would have put some Socialistic theories into practice, but they have, as a matter of fact, been reverting to more definite forms of individualism. Take the railways. In 1920 the Minister of Railways in Germany stated that the railways were in a deplorable condition: that since the War the staffs have increased by 270 per cent., but that the work had very much deteriorated, and 47 per cent. of the locomotives were unworkable. Take again the coal mines in Germany. An authority has written that the State-owned coal mines in the Saar have for many years consistently charged higher prices and paid lower wages than the privately-owned mines of the Ruhr. Then let us pass over into Belgium; here again the railways are under State control, and what has been the position in regard to them? In 1914 the leading business firms in Belgium made a strong protest to the Minister of Railways with regard to the gross delays in transit, of the indifference to complaints, and the shameless interference by politicians with the advancements of staff. With regard to that political interference, in June, 1912, the Minister of Railways, the day before the General Election, ordered an increase in the wages of railway staffs and directed that it should date back to the previous January. After the election the Minister was accused in the Belgian Parliament of giving this order by telegraph. He replied that the accusation was untrue. Probably, Ministerially speaking, he was correct, as the message was sent by telephone, but I am quite certain we should not like our Front Bench to have added to their burthens temptations of that kind. In France the position is intensified, because in June last it was stated that the only way of making the French Budget balance was to do away entirely with State enterprise. It was stated that the nationalised section of the French Railways was costing the State 400,000,000 francs per annum, and it was also stated that the match industry of France only paid its way by the sale of imported goods. I suggest that those are not examples of successful State control.
With regard to Russia, I will give an illustration of which I do not think hon. Members opposite will make any complaint, namely, a quotation from that admirable, reliable paper, the "Daily
Herald." On the 7th November, 1921, the "Daily Herald' wrote:
Lenin has said, The Socialistic system has failed. We must face facts, and return from State capitalism to commerce and a monetary basis.'
I suggest that the fact that the Soviet Government still rules is no proof that Russia is content. Crossing the seas to America, we have not had many examples there, because no section of the community, except the very extreme Labour, has advocated State control. In the case of the shipping control, however, the chairman of the Shipping Control Board stated, in 1917, that, up to that date, it had cost the State £800,000,000, and in 1921 it cost a further £95,000,000. In Canada, on the section of the railways which is nationalised, there was a loss to the State in 1922, of 65,000,000 dollars. Canada also has a very large industry which is State-controlled, namely, the great elevator industry, and in regard to that I will give hon. Members opposite another authority which they will not dispute. In his work, "The State in Industry," the Socialist writer, Mr. Emil Davies, waxed enthusiastic about the Canadian elevators, but he had to acknowledge that they are all leased out to private companies and societies to work. I suggest that that is not Socialism.
Coming nearer home, the one example that we can give in this country is that of the Post Office, and I am going to use this example for another purpose than to show that it is not profitable. That can be shown, but I am going to use it to expose the fallacy of the reasoning of hon. Members opposite when they suggest that, under Socialism, all men and all workers are going to be happy and contented, and are going to work in friendliness with their superiors—or rather, with those in authority, for there will be no superiors. The President of the Postmen's Federation, at the Conference of that body in 1919, said:
The machine-like method of the Postal Department strangles initiative, kills contentment, and adds to the burden of unrest in the country. The Service lacks that one touch of human nature which enhances human relationship.
I thought that that was what we were going to get from State control, but here is the President of the Postmen's Federa-
tion saying tnat it is the one thing that is unlikely. Again, the President of the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters, at the Conference in 1920, said:
I am sure the general public do not know that the nationalised system is managed in such an atrocious, blood-money fashion.
Nothing worse than that could possibly be said of the capitalist system by any hon. Member on the other side. I would like to ask what it is that advocates of Socialism really do hope to attain? What is Socialism? Does Socialism mean the betterment of the workers of this country?
Then we will take it at that. What is it that we are to look for for the betterment of the workers? I have perused many books in order to try and discover that, and I must acknowledge that I was most indebted to a work by Sir Lynden Macassey, "Labour Policy, False and True." As far as I could judge from those different books, one could put the desires of the workers under three short headings. The first is a desire for the removal of unemployment. All I want to say about that is, that, as hon. Members will realise, employment depends upon trade, and I suggest that trade depends upon factors which are entirely outside our control, namely, the conditions and circumstances of our customers overseas. Do those who advocate Socialism suggest that they will be in a position, in a Socialistic State, to dictate to our customers overseas as to when and how they shall buy? The second desire is the recognition of the workers' human status. Will Socialism give that? I think a sufficient reply is contained in the quotation I have given regarding the Post Office. The third point is that the workers should have a greater share in the results, and I suggest that the worker is not likely to get a greater share when all are equal. It is far more likely that the better man will be reduced to the level of the inferior man. I would ask hon. Members whether the worker is better off in Socialist Russia or in capitalist America? I would ask the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) whether he honestly believes that the operatives in the great industry which he and I have the honour to represent would welcome a bureaucratic control of that immense business, with all its ramifications throughout the world?
I grant that they would welcome anything, because they are hoping that the suggestion of hon. Members opposite may be a panacea; but they have their doubts. Socialists blame the capitalistic system for the unemployment that prevails to-day, but I would point out that this system, at any rate, has maintained in this country a population far in excess of its size and natural resources. I suggest that our population has grown as our trade has extended. The War put a sudden stop to the growth and extension of our trade, but, from the very nature of things, the War could not put a sudden stop to the growth of our population, which is purely anticipatory of our trade. We hear and read a great deal of chatter about international Socialism. We had international Socialism before the War, but, somehow, it seemed to disappear when the War broke out. Its great advocates were the Germans, but their patriotism overcame their Socialism, and I do not blame them. Let us remember, however, what then happened, and do not let us anticipate that anything different will happen next time. As to that, I would refer hon. Members opposite to the writings of their late great leader, Mr. Hyndman Socialists also claim that happiness is going to be possible for everyone under Socialism. One of the first principles of happiness is freedom. Let us see what the "Daily Herald" says with regard to the freedom of the Socialistic system. It says:
Discipline, iron, rigid discipline of the workers by the workers, is needed in Russia. It will be needed here when the workers come into power.
I recommend that to the notice of those workers who will not be in authority. I confess that I had, in my humble way, rather feared the possibility of these Socialist theories being put into practice, but, now that I have considered them as far as I have been able, my only fear is lest the people of this country should not be made aware of their exact aims and objects. At the present moment, the people of this country, many of whom, as we know, are suffering, like many of
us, as they never had to suffer before, think that this is a panacea for their woes and anxieties. I suggest that the best way of exposing the oratory which they hear, and which has filled them with ideas that are so untrue and unlike the real thing, is to publish broadcast the writings of the original, genuine authorities on Socialism itself. Let the people once realise the full meaning of the claims and aims of Socialism, and they will be the very first to repudiate a system and method so unnatural for the development of human progress.
While, for my own part, I repudiate entirely a system so unpractical, at the same time I do believe that the powers of capital, despite the limitations placed upon it during the last 50 years, are still too great. I believe it to be possible, without destroying the just rights of capital, so to arrange matters that Capital and Labour shall be harnessed pair, and not tandem, and it is to this that I suggest we should apply our thoughts and efforts. Given clear evidence that such is our intention, I am confident that we need have no fear of this bogey, Socialism—a thing foreign-bred and distasteful to the intelligence of the British people. In conclusion, may I say, if I may presume to do so, that it seems to me that Socialism is of two characters? The one born of envy could but lead to revolution, and the other born of idealism must lead to disappointment.
The hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. Briggs), towards the end of his speech, seemed in one sentence to give us a considerable portion of the case we have endeavoured to establish, for he frankly admitted what we have been saying for years, namely, that capital is still too powerful. He has, however, like most other speakers who have touched upon that aspect of the case, in our judgment at any rate refused to acknowledge the logic of the statements which they make for, this Parliament has repeatedly endeavoured by legislation to curtail that very power to which he himself alluded, and if he would analyse the position I think he would be compelled to come to the conclusion that, whilst you may be able to modify the existing system, as we have been endeavouring to do for decades past, it will be well nigh impossible to remove the inequalities and injustices which are the
inevitable fruits of the system without making the necessary fundamental changes which the Motion indicates. It seems to me that most of the speeches we have listened to indicate an indisposition to face the full facts of the present situation. It is true that my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs
(Mr. Lloyd George), with his usual fire and pathos and eloquence, did in one part of his speech face up to the situation. We who have worked with him and known him in the House as I have done for 20 years should have been Surprised if he had not regaled us with the passionate Welsh fire that characterises his speeches, more particularly when dealing with a subject such as is before the House to-day. For instance, it might have been well if he had given us one of his perorations that he gave at Manchester a couple of years or more ago. On that occasion he used these words:
The old world is crumbling before our eyes. No effort can shore it up much longer. Those who try to do so will be overwhelmed in the ruins.
I think that would have gone down well. At any rate I think it would have chilled to the bone some hon. Members opposite who cheered when he began his speech, but gradually got down to zero as he pictured the existing social and economic situation.
But I was very much interested to notice that at the close of his speech he was audacious enough—that is a word he himself has used on more than one occasion—to suggest another inquiry. May I say, without any desire to give offence, that no Prime Minister in my lifetime has appointed so many inquiries as has the right hon. Gentleman? May I remind the House of two? I remember, just after his party came into power in 1906 with an unprecedented majority, there was a considerable feeling in the country with regard to the use which was being made of the canals and waterways. A Royal Commission was appointed by himself. It took no less than five years to make its inquiry. It made an excellent Report, but it has lain dormant until this moment, in spite of the fact that he occupied the supreme position in the political life of the country for a long period and he has been associated with Government probably longer than any former statesman that we have in the country to-day. But that is not the only inquiry he set on foot. He appointed a Royal Commission to deal with the great mining industry. It was a searching inquiry. There was the most startling evidence. It was presided over by one of our most capable Judges and the mining industry, at any rate the working section of it, were led to believe that the right hon. Gentleman would at once proceed to put its recommendations into operation. The disaster—no milder term can be used—which has overcome the mining industry is very largely due to the right hon. Gentleman's failure to put the recommendations of the Sankey Commission into operation. Yet he once more suggests that the way out of this trouble is to have an inquiry into the unrest. We know, too well, the causes of the inequalities and injustices—if you like a milder term, the very serious anomalies—that exist in our social and economic life to-day, and while there have been changes—and there may have been to some extent improvement—we have no hesitation in saying that if you are to remove those inequalities and injustices you will have to go much deeper down than has been attempted by any Government up to now. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) has made a speech which seemed to gladden the heart of every capitalist in this House. He seemed, to me to be very difficult to please, for in one part of his speech he expressed his dissatisfaction with what could be described as the all or nothing policy of Russia, and he seemed equally displeased at the policy our Motion proposes, of gradual change. When politicians, for mere debating purposes are so difficult to please as that, we can only come to the conclusion that he was filling up the time, as the leading spokesman of his party, in this way, instead of telling the House what they were prepared to do in order to bring relief from the very serious position in which multitudes of our people find themselves to-day.
It has been hinted that the Motion is in the nature of a surprise. It has been asserted that the policy under discussion represents an entirely new position so far as we are concerned, and even so far as the organised Labour movement is concerned. It has also been suggested that the rank and file whom we represent, so
far as we do represent the Labour movement, do not stand for the policy expressed in the Motion, or, if they do, that great pains have been taken to keep the fact from the knowledge of the public especially at election times. I want to meet that position right away. It is a totally erroneous impression of where Labour stands. The industrial and the political sections of our movement have for many years publicly protested against the wide disparities in social life, due to the unjust and unequal distribution of wealth. We have not contented ourselves with that We have gone on and advocated radical changes in the organisation of the industrial system. I remember being at my first Trade Congress 29 years ago, and that Congress, which, I think, hon. Members opposite would admit has always been regarded as a cautious and restrained body, declared that in certain fundamental respects the organisation of society and industry was gravely defective, and that drastic changes were necessary, and year after year that body, the mother of Labour Parliaments, has continued to express itself in condemnation of the existing system. But that is not all. The political wing of the Labour movement has also expressed itself in favour of great changes. In fact I dare say many hon. Members opposite, when they were first becoming candidates, invested a few coppers in obtaining what we call "Labour and the New Social Order." We declared in favour of a new social order because we recognise that the present individualistic system confers unmerited privileges on the few at the expense of acute and undeserved hardships on the many. In order to show that there is no surprise, may I trouble the House with a quotation from the constitution of the Labour party? This is a printed document open to the public. Any Member of the House can purchase a copy for a few coppers. That document has declared officially and authoritatively as follows:
To secure for the producers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof which may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production and the best obtainable system of public administration and control of each industry or service.
We may be wrong, but we must not have the charge made against us that we are
hiding anything. The next paragraph in the same printed constitution says:
Generally to promote the political, social and economic emancipation of the people, and more particularly of those who depend directly upon their exertions by hand or by brain for the means of life.
These have been the printed objects of the Labour party since the middle of 1917, and I hope we shall hear no more in this Debate about having sprung a surprise. I want to go further and to say that it was upon this constitution that we contested the General Election in 1918, when we secured a vote of 2,300,000. We also fought on this constitution in 1922, when, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs correctly said, we polled 4,250,000 votes. So much then for the suggestion that, in moving this Motion, we are disclosing what have been secret projects hitherto, and that we are advocating a policy that has not been approved by both the industrial and the political wings of Labour.
Some surprise has been expressed that we of the Labour party should so definitely and frankly differentiate ourselves from the older political parties so far as these problems of organised society are concerned. The answer to that criticism is simple. The older political parties admit, as many have done during this Debate, the hardships and the grievances. In some instances they are even prepared to denounce the notorious inequalities of the existing conditions. We frankly admit that many of these Members are moved by a genuine sympathy with the innocent victims of the system which they themselves are working. Where we differ from them is that they prefer to risk the perpetuation of the social wrongs. They are prepared to continue the economic injustices rather than carry through the necessary fundamental changes in the organisation and government of society and industry.
Once more, I would refer to the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, for in a passage he very eloquently described the position. He declared that if he were convinced that the evils of the kind he specified, hunger, privation, suffering and want, were inseparable from the existing order of things he would take to the crowbar himself. The right hon. Gentleman is of opinion, and I am afraid that the opinion is shared by most hon. Members on the other side, and those who sit on this side below the Gangway, that the deplorable results of the present system are not inherent in that system, but are due to defects and faults that can be remedied without making any fundamental change. The Labour party, on the other hand, is convinced that however much the capitalist system may be improved there are still formidable evils that cannot be eradicated, even if it were possible to reduce or mitigate their effects. This represents the fundamental difference between those of us who tonight will support this Motion in the Lobby, and those who, for one pretext and another will go into the Lobby against it.
Labour indicts the capitalist system because, in its opinion, the system condemns large numbers of honest, decent, self-respecting and law-abiding citizens to long periods of undeserved and unrelieved misery, and to conditions of life which any person with a spark of human feeling would not attempt to defend as tolerable, let alone as just. Labour challenges the existing order on the ground of its direct responsibility for unemployment. Anyone who has worked under the capitalist system, or who knows anything of the industrial and economic history of this country, must be prepared to admit that production for profit requires a reserve army of producers, and has them, without making proper provision for the human needs of that reserve. Does not all experience go to show that this reserve army can be drawn upon when trade is good and labour is needed, and that when trade depression begins to assert itself and these workers are no longer required, irrespective of length of service and irrespective of domestic obligations they are rendered compulsorily idle. When they are in that state it is no exaggeration to say that they are often used to depress the working conditions of the remaining producers whose services have not yet been dispensed with.
It must be remembered that this is done without any adequate provision for maintaining this reserve of industry in proper physical and mental condition. Such provision as is made is to a considerable extent made by the workers themselves through their trade unions. I challenge contradiction on that point. It is quite true—we want to state the case absolutely fairly—that this provision has been supplemented in recent years by contributions from employers and the State to the National Unemployment Insurance Fund. The fact is that the producers themselves bear not only unemployment to the major degree, but also the main burden of the cost of the whole of the unemployed in this country. Therefore, it may safely be said that under the existing system the fear of unemployment and the absence of security are a constant and real menace to the wellbeing, comfort and happiness of multitudes of the working classes.
Is it not correct to say that without warning, and through no fault of their own, the workers can be reduced to penury, and in entire districts can be rendered destitute by economic causes entirely beyond their control? This position has to be frankly admitted, and in view of this it is positively surprising that in spite of their enthusiastic championship of the capitalist system the older political parties have never, in my opinion, made, nor have they compelled organised industry to make, proper provision for the maintenance of the unemployed and the under-employed victims of the existing capitalist system. In our opinion such undeserved misery, such industrial uncertainty, such social degradation, which inevitably follows, and such economic risk and loss which is imposed upon industrious and self-respecting citizens, can be substantially reduced, if not actually avoided, under an efficient and scientifically organised industrial system. In our judgment, an economic system which fails to provide all the members of society with a fair and reasonable opportunity to secure the material means to live a useful, healthy, social life stands self-condemned. On the other hand, we believe that the resources of the nation, under a proper organised society, and with the elimination of many forms of waste, could give a proper and reasonable standard of life for every citizen.
There is another objection which many workers feel towards the capitalist system. They regard industry as now organised as a form of class rule, a privileged autocracy, inconsistent with the social and economic responsibility of the producers, and opposed to the spirit of real democracy. These workers feel that because of their economic dependence on the functioning of industry, they are expected to accept as producers a state of subservience and a state of subordination in relation to the owners of the capitalist system which is utterly out of harmony with the modern conception of personal freedom and democratic right. We do not ignore or under-estimate the difficulties arising from vested interests, or from the conservative character of the British people, both of which must be overcome before our policy can be put into successful operation. We realise that every great change in national and local government has only been made after many years of persistent advocacy, and after all prejudices against the change, and the hostility of its opponents, have been constitutionally overcome. We also appreciate the fact—
I am not sure whether the hon. Member who interrupted me objects to the matter or the method of my speech. We also appreciate the obstacles which must be overcome because of the misrepresentation constantly associated with municipal and collective effort. We have heard some of this misrepresentation during the present Debate. Though we are not prepared to admit the force of some of the objections held against our position, we have a full appreciation of the difficulties which must be overcome before our policy can be put into operation. For instance, we recognise that any fundamental change must not only minister to the social and economic freedom and the welfare of our people at home, but it must contribute to a higher standard of industrial and general efficiency, and it must assist us to maintain and improve, if possible, our position in the economic and general activity of the world.
We frankly admit that a great deal depends upon the character, the education, the disposition, and the confidence of the British people. We are prepared to face this situation. We do not over- look the fact that when we do obtain improved education, when our people have a clear vision of the existing social and economic extremes of life, this tends to deepen the desire for those very drastic changes upon which the Motion moved by my hon. colleague is based. Character, education and a clearer recognition of the sacredness of personality demand a fair status for the worker and a freer distribution of the fruits of victory. We of the Labour party firmly believe that a more efficient and just organisation of the nation's enterprise would mean greater national production, would secure greater liberty for the people, and would provide a fuller opportunity for the individual to enjoy a higher standard of both security and conduct.
In spite of the criticism against different forms of collective effort we remember that this country—and I would like to bring this point home to hon. Gentlemen opposite—would not risk the chance of coming safely through the greatest crisis in its history by depending solely upon private enterprise. It may safely be said that it was collective effort and not individualist enterprise which enabled the nation to emerge successfully from the ordeal of destructive conflict. Then again we are encouraged, in spite of the sneers to which we have listened this afternoon, by what has been done by some of our Dominions, by our municipalities, and by the great co-operative movement. The general success that has attended these efforts cannot be denied, despite the citation of this or that specific failure from a purely financial point of view. I have already quoted a passage from the right hon. Member for Carnarvon. I am going to give you another declaration. He has already said that if he could be convinced that all the things that I am now bringing before you were inherent in the system he would be ready to use the crowbar. I want to make clear that it will be a grievous mistake for this House to assume that labour in this country at any time proposes to Use, the crowbar system in order to realise its aims.
We desire not to destroy but to transform, not to disorganise but to reorganise. We appreciate the fact that the progress, from private to public ownership, from individual enterprise to collective enterprise, must be gradual and through the recognised constitutional agencies of this country. Our programme of constructive Socialism can only be realised if our efforts are founded upon the intelligent conviction and the faith of an enlightened public opinion. Except by the general support of the community such a reorganisation as that which we contemplate cannot be imposed upon a nation. It can only be secured with the approval and by the help of the mass of the people. But before I conclude I would ask briefly what is the alternative to the policy which my hon. Friend in moving his Motion outlines to the House? Are we to maintain, with prudent modifications and alterations only, the present industrial system in perpetuity? To admit that, in my judgment, would be paying the present system too great a compliment. I for one do not believe that this system is so sacrosanct that it was handed down to us with the tables of stone, or so perfect that it must continue until the millenium.
After it has extended through a century, during which the material wealth of the nation has been increased to an amazing extent, the capitalist system, I assert, has failed to make life tolerable for multitudes of decent citizens. It has failed to produce a well-fed, properly-housed, physically-fit and contented people, it has failed to organise international life on a stable basis of peace, it has failed to solve the hundred and one problems which are a constant menace to human life, and from its inception—I am not going far back to the inception of what we call the capitalist system as one speaker did earlier in this Debate—when the application of science changed the process of manufactures and ushered in an era of large scale production, the system of producing for profit has been modified and made subject to increasing legislation and administrative control. Modifications came in the early days of its history, through the Factory Act, and through increasing the powers of local authorities and legislation in dealing with monopolies such as railways.
These protective measures have been largely restrictions of the worst evils of the present capitalist system. They have been provided in order that they might protect the workers from the very evils which the opponents of this Motion main- tain are not inherent in the system, but are merely incidental to that system. But despite that measure of protection that has been afforded these evils to a tremendous extent continue to remain. Let me repeat here my opinion that they will continue to remain so long as the present system persists. They are as much part of that system as is the motive of private gain itself. Is a continuance and extension of these restrictions all that we have to look for? We do not deny that much has been done with a view to relieving the social and economic hardships of the masses of the people. Many efforts are on record to the credit of Parliament. Many efforts are on record that go to show that many employers have been well disposed towards their workpeople, but I wish to say sincerely that at best most of these efforts have been palliatives rather than remedial. What a striking commentary they afford on the existing industrial system, that legislative and administrative effort have been so necessary from the very beginning until now in order to safeguard the workers interest, and to make the working conditions something like tolerable.
Whatever changes have been made, whatever improvements have been attempted, whatever safeguards have been secured, in my judgment, they have not kept pace with the growing demands of highly organised capital or with the development of the social and economic consciousness among the workers themselves. Therefore a considerable number of wage-earners feel that social life and economic and industrial conditions are out of keeping to-day with their responsibilities, and I ask seriously, what has Parliament to say to these people, what have those Members who are going to oppose this Motion in the Lobby, to put in place of our policy? As one who has been closely associated with the organisation of the working classes movement for over 40 years, I would warn the House against presuming that the workers of this country will remain indefinitely the docile victims of the operation of what is called the law of supply and demand—a system which in many of their cases means a precarious uncertainty when in employment, and prolonged unemployment, with only a dole which spells starvation for all concerned, during trade depression.
That is because of the operation of a system which places private gain before human well-being. To my mond this will be not only utterly insufficient, it will be both disgraceful and unjust. We must have such a reorganisation of our industrial system as will secure an adequate minimum standard of comfort for all, give to the workers a fair share in the direction of the industry by which they live, and an effective voice determining the conditions of employment; and a system which will give, if not continuity of employment, at least security of livelihood for all. After all is said and done, what is the true test of any industrial system? The true test is not merely the amount of wealth produced, important as that may be; it is the recognition of, and the provision for, the human factor—the human factor that was spoken about by the hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. Briggs)—the provision of a fair and equitable distribution of the results of production over such as will make a healthy, wholesome, and contented life possible for every citizen. Those who desire to fall short of this are ignoring the changed outlook upon life which the War produced.
I would like to make this point to hon. Members opposite. I think that most of them will agree that the War did effect a very great change in the minds of multitudes of workers of this country. Not only did the War experience thrust into the foreground many of the problems of society and industry. It did that and more; it brought into operation new ideas of social possibility, of economic reconstruction, of unity of responsibility, and of human rights. All these things took possession of men's minds during those tragic years after 1914. Men began not only to hope for, but to look for, a more humane form of economic organisation, a form of organisation influenced by new conceptions, new motives, a new spirit and a higher regard for the sacredness of personalities. Men and women in those days began to feel the impact of a great challenge to reconstruct society, because they came under the influence of a larger view of life and a more intimate knowledge of the facts of life. Are Parliaments and Governments to admit that much of the high idealism, the clearer vision, the passionate desire for a fairer, nobler and fuller life for all, which were so noticeable during the War, have gone, that they can only be temporarily produced by the destruction of war, but cannot be permanently sustained by the arts of peace? The Members of this House should recognise that a considerable number of the wage earners have experienced a speedy disillusionment already, because of the nonfulfilment of the promises and prospects of the War period. They did hope that the comradeship and fellowship of the trenches would be followed by something better than insecurity, better than a wage reduction amounting to £14,000,000 a week, better than prolonged unemployment, with exposure to semi-starvation; and all this, mark you, so soon after they had assisted their country through the greatest crisis in its history.
In our judgment the task of Parliaments and Governments is to secure in a greater measure the confidence, the goodwill, and the cordial co-operation of the workers in the enterprises by which the nation lives, and this we are convinced cannot be secured so long as the workers feel that they are in a position of economic inferiority and subordination, the under-employed and the over-worked but under-paid victims of private enterprise, which in its operations, with certain honourable exceptions, means private greed. If we would extend national production, if we would raise the standard of security and comfort, we must reorganise industry in such a way that we may convince the workers that their energies are being used as a contribution to the enrichment of the entire country. That is the object of the Motion now before the House. We are not going to be removed from our position by the alternative ridicule and abuse to which the Labour party and its policy are subjected by many of those who differ from us. In these days it is becoming quite fashionable to refer to the Labour party as the Socialist party. I might pertinently inquire why the party opposed to us do not call themselves the Capitalist party. We have as much right to expect that from them as they have to label us with a name that our own people have not conferred on us.
I do not mind, but hon. Members opposite might as well call themselves the Capitalist party. If that name is not to be fixed on them according to their idea, why should our name have to be fixed? We do not seek to escape in any way from the responsible position which we have taken up by attaching our names to the Motion before the House. Socialism is simply an economic system, as capitalism is. It is a scheme for the organisation of society and public service on a collectivist basis, instead of, as now, on an individualist basis. Its motive is human well-being instead of the present motive of personal profit, and its method is co-operation instead of competitive exploitation. That is the position for which we made ourselves responsible at the last Election. I hope it will be the position for which we will make ourselves responsible at the next Election. We will be prepared to abide by the decision of the electorate. If they are not ready at the next time of asking, the progress we have made since 1918 is a clear indication that it will not be long before they will be prepared, when our policy will be put into operation in legislation and in connection with the institutions of the land.
I listened with great interest to the last speech, and I would like to Congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon his exposition of the facts, but I am quite certain it will require a great degree of thought to convince the electorate, upon the arguments put forward, of the remedial quality of the measures which this Motion proposes to substitute for the existing system. The Debate, so far, has failed to evolve anything in the nature of a satisfactory solution or recommendation arising out of the Motion, but it has given us an interesting illustration of how far Leaders of two of the Opposition parties will go in their desire to attract votes, while at the same time avoiding a Socialist policy. I listened with pleasure to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), whose speech was an excellent exposition of the case, but he wobbled just as he was about to come into port, and like the man in the old song, he did not know where he was. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), I was prone to think, had mixed up his notes of his speech on this subject with notes of another speech. In any event, there was no direct attempt on the part of either of the right hon. Gentlemen to elucidate the position, any more than there has been any such attempt on the part of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down to explain exactly what he proposes to do when he abolishes the present system. One of the convictions of hon. Members opposite is that labour is the source of all wealth. If that be the case, what are they condemning the capitalist system for, if there is a shortage I ask the question frankly. The present system is being condemned by hon. Members who declare it is not satisfactory, and who, in the same breath, say that labour is the source of all wealth. You cannot have it both ways. If there is any fault to be found it must be found with labour.
Let us look at the case as it appears to-day. We have had a wastage of some fifty thousand million of capital—not money—during the last nine years. Capital is very difficult to create, and there is nothing in this world so easy to destroy. When things are left uncared for and neglected, it leads to a loss of capital. Take the old Roman roads, for example, built at a great expenditure of capital, but by disuse, carelessness and neglect that capital is all lost. The same applies to everything and it applies to the money which was expended during the War. The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) says that Capitalism and not Socialism is on its trial. What are you going to substitute for the present system? I do not for a single second say that the present system, in which I believe and of which I am an advocate, is perfect, but I say that it is something which has been tried for many centuries and is the natural outcome of the efforts of man. In most countries where there is no form of capitalism you find civilisation reduced to the state it had reached in savage ages. It is all very well to blame the capitalist system for the present condition of affairs, but that condition of affairs is due to the wastage which has taken place and which is still taking place day by day and week by week, helped very largely by continual strikes, depriving us of so much extra wealth which might, otherwise, take its place in creating better conditions. Various hon. Members have spoken at great length of unemployment as one of the evils of the present system. I have read with interest a number of books on this subject by economists and it has always appeared to me that those who study the problem of political economy in relation to Socialism and who advocate the substitution for the present system, of something else, are out of touch with the practical realities of life. They are men full of words and full of good thoughts and I give them credit for being men who have set themselves out to chase an ideal. They forget all the time, however, that there is a human factor which man cannot control and which can be only controlled by something which is infinite and far greater than mere mortal man.
As I say, unemployment has been referred to as one of the factors which is inseparable from the profit-sharing system. Under conditions such as exist to-day in this country and in the world, what is it proposed to substitute for the present system? We have at present, let us say, 1,500,000 unemployed. Under the new system, what are you going to do with them? Are you going to take them back into industry and provide work for them? Is it not the fact that we are not a people who can afford to fix prices to suit ourselves? We live by close competition in the markets of the world, and anything which adds to the material cost of any product we sell is a factor which may possibly take our market away from us. Therefore, if you are going to take these people back into employment, when there is no work for them and when there is no demand for the products of their hands or brains, you are going to add another charge to industry, increase the cost of production and lose your market, or you must have a subvention from the State and subsidise that particular industry. Let us assume for the sake of argument that you take the first course. You increase the cost of production and you lose your market. You have more unemployment as a result of the loss of the market, and as you go on increasing the cost of production, losing your markets, increasing the number of the unemployed and absorbing them back again into industry, you ultimately reach a state where everybody is working in the production of things which are not saleable and the cost of the production of the articles is out of all proportion to the ability to sell. I cannot see how such a fatuous proposi- tion can be put forward by intelligent individuals. All the proposals with regard to the Socialistic state take not the slightest consideration of the fact that this country is absolutely dependent upon export trade for its subsistence. That is totally forgotten, and it seems to me if you going to set up a system to take the place of the existing system, it will take something far more than an experiment or a theory to convince most people that they are going to receive the benefits which they are promised.
What is the main basis of the arguments in favour of this substitution? The experience of the War. I suppose nobody has argued this with greater authority and greater emphasis than a late Member of this House, Sir Leo Chiozza Money. He is a great authority; he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Shipping and, I believe, prior to that had some experience of the Ministry of Munitions. He talks about the wonderful capacity displayed by civil servants and other people, in managing the Ministries of Shipping and Munitions during the War. I had a great deal of experience of both Departments, and I know something of the incompetence displayed by those in charge and the millions lost through the operations of those Departments. The hon. Member for West Newcastle-on-Tyne (Mr. Adams), I notice, expresses dissent.
Yes, the Ministry of Shipping itself. I know, because it came within the ambit of my own notice and knowledge. Sir Leo says that these are two shining examples, and his book, "The Triumph of Nationalisation," is full of illustrations. Who could not take control of any business and monopolise it during a period of booming prices, when there is no competition internally or externally, and under those circumstances make money out of it, at a time when there is no responsibility to the State, when there is no necessity to count the cost, or to consider economy, when there is simply the blind necessity of getting done as best you can, in the most haphazard fashion, that which you have to do? Hon. Members opposite think it rather humorous because I happen to be a shipowner myself, and they point with pride to the fact that money was made by the Australian Commonwealth during the War. They made £4,000,000 during the War with a vast number of ships, but if I had been managing those same ships under the same conditions I would have doubled it quite easily. They forgot to tell the House that of the £12,000,000 of capital which they spent in acquiring that fleet, only a few months ago they decided that it would be policy to write off £8,000,000 of the cost, and on top of that they lost another £1,000,000 in trading last year.
I am not going into detail in talking about the losses which were made in Australia under State management and nationalisation, and I am not going to discuss the question of the profits and losses on railways where they have been nationalised, but I will point out that where railways have been nationalised in Europe, as they have been during the last 30 or 40 years, it has not at any time been for trading purposes. It has been for strategic purposes, and that has been the consideration which has actuated almost every Government in nationalising the railways.
Certainly; it was for no other reason. But there is not one particular case, without a subvention or a subsidy, in fair competitive rates with any other State, where any railway system in Europe ever made money. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down talked about trading and working for profit. I was reading a book the other day called "State Revolution," written by a gentleman who has had far more opportunity of trying out the socialisation of industries in the State than anybody else—M. Lenin—and it amused me very much in that book, which was written before the time when he had the opportunity of exercising his abilities, to see how he dismissed the administrative side of industry. He says in that book:
Bookkeeping and control—these are the chief things necessary for the smooth and correct functioning of the first phase of the Communist society. All the citizens are here transformed into hired employés of the State, which is then the armed workers. All the citizens become the employés and workers of one national State 'syndicate.' The bookkeeping and control necessary for
this have been simplified by capitalism to the utmost, till they have become the extraordinarily simple operations of watching, recording and issuing receipts.
There is nothing else to the business than that. How do you ever think for one moment that all the experience and capacity, all the judgment and knowledge, of those who have built up enormous businesses, who, under their control, management and direction, have assembled together a great staff, perhaps, of men equally expert in their own particular departments—how do you think those men have risen to the positions which they occupy? How do you think they have managed to keep their companies alive, profit-making, prosperous, contributing, out of their earnings and profits, their just dues to the State, if these men are nothing but the ordinary, incompetent people who have no capacity for anything but to issue receipts? I see the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Newbold) smiling with great interest, but I would like to know what the hon. Member's capacity would display if he were placed in charge of some big business, and what kind of people, workpeople or capitalists, would care to entrust their savings to him for manipulation and management.
Men who manage successful businesses have to take into consideration, in the conduct of those businesses, especially if they are doing overseas business, all the risks which come from bad debts and failures, all the risks due to fluctuations of exchange, all the risks which may come from a depression in trade, and they have to take into consideration all the risks which have to be taken by those who would seek to establish further and new markets for the purpose of generating new business and creating further employment. Everything is a speculation, and how are they going to be able to pay themselves if there is no return except a small and modified percentage? There is no incentive to take the risk whatever, and the right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that there is nothing so injurious to the condition of an industry as to have available for it only debenture capital. It is the speculative interest in all industrial development which makes for a continuation of the prosperity of the State. The right
hon. Member for flatting (Mr. Clynes) talked about the willingness of responsible officials to engage their services under State control and management. I doubt it very much. There is something inherent in the nature of all mankind that makes man strive to work for himself when he will not work, unless he is a drone, for a fixed position and a small Salary. It is the ambition of almost every man, if he comes from the lower ranks, if he comes from the bottom, as I have come myself, to see to it that his children start in life where he finishes, and not in circumstances in which you level all men and women down can you have such a spirit in the people. Of that there can be no question. As there are other hon. Members who wish to speak, I will conclude by referring to one observation in the speech of the hon. Member for the Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden), who said:
Some day there will be established an economic and social system where individual ambition and private enterprise will find their satisfaction, not in the amount of tribute they levy on their fellows, but in the greatness of the service they render to them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th March, 1923; col. 2485, Vol. 161.]
I agree with him absolutely and implicitly, but there is one authority and one economist which the hon. Member has never cited and which hon. Members opposite, who prate so much of Socialism, have never cited, and it is found within the two covers of the Book of Holy Writ. Let me say this. I am no man to prate of my Christianity, but I say that that system is not possible under a human dispensation, under the control of individuals. It will take something far greater to inculcate into the minds of all men and women the wish to live in accord and amity, as the hon. Member suggests. It is a theocratic condition, and not a democratic condition, and as long as we are on this earth it is impossible to hope or expect that by passing laws in this House of Commons, or by trying to get agreements between parties of men, that we shall ever be able to get that accord and amity in the hearts of human individuals which will make so perfect a conception; it is only to be found, as I have already said, within the covers of Holy Writ.
In rising to speak on this Motion, I want, first, to make certain observations upon the remarks which have fallen from the Mover, who has endeavoured, quite naturally enough, having regard to the official attitude of his party, to dissociate the policy of Socialism from the policy of Communism, and to state that they are in antipathy one with another. He went on, still further, to drive home what he thought was a good debating point, that Communism was, in fact, die-hard Toryism. Despite the anxiety of the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden), and the equal anxiety, at the Aldwych Club, when addressing a meeting, presided over by a great South Wales coalowner, the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. J. R. MacDonald) stated that there was in his party a thousand-millionth part of sympathy with Communism or Bolshevism, I would suggest that it is impossible for the two hon. Gentlemen to dissociate themselves from support of the Soviets. I can remember very well sitting in the body of the hall at the Leeds Convention, in 1917, when Soviets were considerably more popular in semi-respectable circles than they are to-day, and hearing the enthusiasm with which they greeted the establishment of a movement entitled the Movement of Workers' and Soldiers' Committees.
It is not the actual intent of hon. Members supporting this Resolution from the standpoint of the Labour party that primarily concerns us. It is not the logic of the hon. Member for Colne Valley or the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes), or the right hon. Member for East Newcastle (Mr. A. Henderson), but it is the logic of history which will determine the consequences of the steps that they take. Such being the case, that is the real reason why I to-night am speaking whole-heartedly in support of the Motion, though, of course, while giving it the blessing of the Communist party and promising that we shall give their speeches the widest possible publicity through the country, nevertheless, with certain reservations. We must remember that the interest that has been displayed in this Motion, not merely in the House, but throughout the country, is not due so much to the Motion itself as to those forces of history which are driving that movement forward. It is events that have transpired in the first Workers' Republic, and events that are transpiring all over the world, which give the support and interest to this particular Resolution.
9.0 P. M.
It might be said that, in effect, the argument that is put forward vehemently in all these discussions from the standpoint of the Labour party is to accept the inevitability of gradualness rather than wait for the wrath that is to come. The Labour party is using the enthusiasm generated throughout the working-class ranks of the world to push forward its little barque from this side of the Table to the other side of the Table. The alternative to revolution is undoubtedly an attempt on the part of the Labour party to establish a Socialism by constitutional means, and if it be possible for the Labour party to establish Socialism by constitutional means, there will be no one better pleased than the hon. Member for Motherwell, I can assure the House. But there is very little reason to believe that it will be possible to establish it in such a way, for when it comes to be a case, not merely of restraining aspects of capitalism, not merely of making extensions of public control, but a case of overthrowing capitalism entirely, there is no likelihood that the governing classes will be any more friendly disposed to the rule of a Labour Government than they are to the rule of a Labour majority in the Borough of Poplar, or than they were in Italy to the capture of the municipal communes by Socialists and Communists. Wherever an attempt at Socialism has been made during the course of the last few years, there has immediately sprung up within the State, or within society, a movement known as the Fascisti. We have the equivalent of that movement in this country. We had one of these reactionary movements, presided over by an hon. Member opposite, stating last week that it was intended to remain constitutional as long as possible, making it quite clear that as soon as constitutionalism failed, they were quite prepared to go outside the constitutional limits. There is not the slightest likelihood that it will be possible to carry the expropriation of the capitalist class by peaceful means. If it can be done, well and good; but the whole lesson of history in this country and other countries is that no governing class ever abdicates power unless compelled to do so by a force exerted in a much more strenuous manner than passing through and having your names ticked off in the Division Lobby.
I notice that the supporters of this Motion are very kindly pointing out that they do not believe in Socialism without compensation, and I notice that there is tacked on to this Motion, though it has been very little discussed in this Debate, a Bill for the nationalisation of land, providing for the payment of £150 for £100–5 per cent. for a period of 30 years. I am not coming to that aspect of it immediately, but I would like to point out that the hon. Member for Colne Valley, when he first appeared in this House, was pledged definitely to the elimination of the capitalist by means of taxation. I read as a youth with tremendous enthusiasm, and re-read it until I knew it almost line by line, an interesting little book entitled "The Socialist Budget." Therein it was the intention of the hon. Member for Blackburn, as he was then, to tax the capitalist out of existence. Now, in his mellow middle age, he comes forward with a proposal, not for confiscating the property of the capitalist in crude ways, as hon. Members opposite might be inclined to think that he would, but by means of the capital levy, and the capital levy, I take it, will be appreciated by the governing class of this country as a confiscation, whether it so seems to hon. Members on this side or not, and in the event of the governing class refusing to allow their capital to be taken away from them by one means of taxation or another, what is then to ensue?
Apparently, nothing is to ensue, because we have been informed that the Labour party is not in favour of the use of force. Consequently they have told the governing class that they will not have their property taken away. Nothing further will happen except a series of resolutions, and the governing class will say: "We will keep our capital in our pocket, for nothing is going to occur." I have heard the argument put forward time after time on the Labour side of the House that once they capture the House of Commons, which seems to them to be the same thing as capturing the State—though it is a very far cry for capturing one-third of Parliament to capturing the whole State—they will have the police force in their hands, the Army under their control, the Navy at their command, and they will be prepared to use these institutions for the furtherance of their aims. It may be that it appeals more to the hon. Member for Colne Valley or the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. J. R. MacDonald) to say that once force is directed by the competent authority it ceases to be force. That sort of argument may sound perfectly good at a Labour party conference when you are endeavouring to prevent the Communist party from affiliating, but it is not the kind of thing that is calculated to carry conviction to the majority of people who have no particular axe to grind for the moment.
The Labour party, I do not think will succeed in convincing the governing classes that they are so lamblike that they can be quite safely allowed to take over the land, the mines, and the other capital, hand over the script for it, and then tax the script-holders to extinction—that they can be allowed to do it merely because of the casuistical argument that once force is held by the State it ceases to be force, that it is only force when it is exercised against the constitution; not when it is exercised as it was exercised in the barrack yard in May, 1916, when on the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Newcastle a bullet was sent through James Connolly's heart. It is force, whether used by the State or otherwise, and consequently the argument that the Labour party is not in favour of using force falls to the ground, and the whole of the case for carrying through Socialism peacefully falls to the ground.
We come to the question of compensation. I notice that the right hon. Member the Member for Swansea (Sir A. Mond) saw no particular objection to dealing with the matter in that way. He seemed somewhat mystified at the kind of Socialism that was going to give him the whole value of his property, plus 50 per cent. He was prepared for such a measure, and did not regard it as terrible. No. If Socialism of that sort is going to be carried through it will be received with enthusiasm, if not by this side of the House, at any rate by the other side. Municipalisation up-to-date and nationalisation up-to-date is that under the control of a capitalist or Labour Government. We have seen it in Germany and elsewhere under the leadership of men like Branting and Schiedemann and Noske and Vandervelde. Municipalisation and nationaiisation along these lines redounds well enough to the interest of certain sections of the capitalist class. They do not redound, it is true, to the interest of certain other sections. If you are going to have a scheme for taking over, shall we say, merely the land of this country, if you are going to put it forward that you are not going to pay for it by a process of taxation, but by borrowing money, say at the rate of interest that is prevailing, that interest on the borrowed money is going to rise higher and higher, and I can imagine no one who will worry very much about the Labour party so long as its Socialism is the Socialism of the Privy Council rather than the Socialism of the back benches and of the Communist party.
No one will treat that Socialism with greater enthusiasm than those insurance and investment companies and banks that have at the present time, and are likely to have if the pessimistic speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs is true, a volume of capital awaiting investment, and cannot get a decent return for it in the ordinary course of business; nothing will please the capitalist class having this money better than this abstract proposal for the nationalisation of the land and the railways on the same lines as in the past municipalities have taken over the tramways, the gas company and other kinds of public utility companies. As a result of the operation of this kind of municipal Socialism of the last 25 years, particular investment companies, to my knowledge, scores of them, have specialised particularly to provide for this system of hire purchase Socialism of the hon. Member for Colne Valley. So long as Socialism continues on these lines it will be welcomed, at any rate, by one section of the governing classes.
Immediately, however, Socialism goes beyond that to the taking over by the State of the mines, the railways, the industrial concerns, and the general process of exploitation absolutely, then it will be a very different proposition from the one that presents itself at the present time. I should like to say, concerning one at any rate of the speeches made against this Motion of the hon. Member for Colne Valley, I refer to the speech of the right hon. Member for Swansea, that it struck me as particularly right when he pointed out the fact that competition has not been eliminated, certainly not inside capital. Capitalism to-day displays competition in a more acute, vicious, and malignant form than previously, and its manifestations are so malignant that it is becoming necessary in the interests of civilisation, if civilisation has got to continue, that that competition shall be withdrawn by one means or another. You see that intense form of competition manifesting itself not between two steel companies, say, within the county of Lanark, or anywhere in Great Britain, but in the competition of two or three great steel groups operating in this country, in France, in America, struggling amongst themselves, and in the process driving the workers down to the lowest level; the one fighting against the other. You see one example of that in the Ruhr. You see another in the miserable attempts made at Lausanne to arrive at a peace which you may get by the Greek Kalends. You see manifested there, in one form or another, the competition between two or three groups of railway concessionnaires or two or three groups of oil concessionaires. You see it at Singapore, where you seem, after talking of peace, to be preparing for a great struggle in the Far East. These things display capitalism. Whilst competition has been eliminated to a considerable extent, whilst to-day private enterprise, as it was understood 50 or 60 years ago, has practically passed. All kinds of capital to-day are fused inside the great companies of this country. That mere fact does not mean that competition has diminished, but it has only gone on to a further stage, and it may be that in the course of a few years it may come to an international trust. If it does, the only thing that will happen will be the progressive degradation of the workers of the world. If capitalism continues, you will go on building aeroplane after aeroplane. France goes on building and you do the same; you say you are building against Germany, but that is a lie, because you are building against France and France is building against you. You are building submarines and the French are building submarines, and the Americans, an American Admiral, is justifying the use of submarines against merchant ships. You are drifting to war in this way, not that you will fight it. The Capitalist will be missing during the war; the Royal Family will be missing; and the Communists will be missing. I am simply generalising on this point.
In the last War certain families were missing, Communists were missing and so was the Royal Family. There was one family in the last war had no casualities, that is the family that lives west of the Admiralty Arch. When the Royal Family goes to War perhaps the Communists will go. On the one side you will have war and on the other side starvation. Deterioration of the life of the people is the only alternative. All the lessons of the past go to prove that you cannot get your Socialism put in force unless you are prepared to struggle for it, and if you cannot get it by peaceful means you will have to get it by other means. After that you will have to accept what is handed to you by the working classes of this country. At first it will probably come through the Labour party which we hope to see enthroned on the Government Benches during the next three years. Year by year the Communist party will increase in strength within the Labour party, and every attempt you make to hold back Socialism by the only means that appeals to you will strengthen the extremists inside the Labour party.
If the Labour party is not prepared to carry Socialism by peaceful means, if it is not prepared to carry it by extra-constitutional means if need be, I have no hesitation in saying from my experience of the workers in the North that the workers will say that the will of the working classes is going to prevail inside the constitution if possible, but outside if that is not possible. You will then be faced with the alternative, that is, expropriation. You will have the land and capital taken away from you and vested in the working classes organised maybe in the general council of trade unions, maybe in the workshop committees, but certainly controlled, held, and operated by some body thrown up in the excitement of the conflict. [Laughter.] It may make you laugh to-day, but it will not make you laugh then. It will then put into practice a principle to which you have only given lip service for many years, namely, "If a man will not work, neither shall he eat." That is the principle of Communism.
The basis of our present day franchise still remains the occupation of the land, but the basis of the Communist policy will be that only those who produce wealth and who render social service shall have the franchise. With this goes a second corollary that only those who produce wealth and render useful social service shall be permitted to bear arms, and it will be compulsory on those who produce that they shall bear arms. The Communist party is not a pacifist organisation, but an organisation throwing down the challenge to militarism in the service of capitalists or landowners. The Communist party is prepared, once having gained control of the wealth of this country, to defend it on behalf of the working classes against enemies inside the country and outside, and that is the position upon which we stand.
A certain line of argument has been used about Soviet Russia, but despite your uttermost attempts for over six years to overthrow that Government, it is now standing erect, and it is likely to export 1,000,000 tons of grain this year to undercut those exports, in which hon. Members opposite have their money invested, from Canadian grain lands. Since Russia got on its feet again there has been much less disposition to talk about Russian policy than was talked during the famine in Russia and when you supported Denikin, Koltchak and Wrangel. We have heard in this Debate a very interesting statement which I should not be surprised if it has not already been broadcasted from Moscow, and that was the interesting confession made by the junior Member for the City of London (Mr. E. C. Grenfell) who is at the head of the London firm representing our creditors connected with Pierpont Morgan and Company. The junior Member for the City of London has made the statement that his firm has £1,500,000 invested in Georgia, and we now understand many things that happen down in Georgia. We understand now more than ever why it was necessary to wipe out the democracy and put in a dictatorship of the working classes. The reason was that there are minerals and oil in Georgia.
No, not palm oil. We have now got at the story why the democratic State of Georgia was set up and handed over to the representatives of the most powerful capitalist system the world. The hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw), interjects that that Government was 80 per cent. Socialist, Yes 80 per cent. Socialists like Schiedemann and Noske, like Vandervelde and the Socialist responsible for the death of James Connolly. The same argument that would hold good in the case quoted by the junior Member for the City of London would apply in the case of the Soviet Republic. He says that his firm put hundreds of thousands into a mine, and when it did not pay more hundreds of thousands, and that after 6 years it began to succeed. Well, after 6 years Soviet Russia is beginning to succeed. After all, the great concern with winch the hon. Gentleman has been connected has, for over 80 years, had an unparalleled experience in managing capitalist industry. These people who have come into power in Russia are handling industry, commerce, and government for the first time. They are not like hon. Members opposite, whose families have been carrying on government for generation after generation. They are new to the business, but they are getting upon their feet.
The statement was made by the President of the Board of Trade that he thought if there was one country in the world where Communism ought to have succeeded it should have been Russia, because the Russians took it over without any capital liability; they did not have to pay for it. No, they took over a country which, prior to the War, had never been highly industrialised, and whose agriculture is still at the present time, as it was before the War, as backward as you will find agriculture to-day only in the extreme outer Hebrides or the Faroe Islands. The three-field system, which has disappeared from this country since 1760, or practically so, is still in existence there. There are only one-tenth of the railways in Russia that we have in this country over the same area of land. Hon. Members know how the roads in Russia were described in "Baedeker" before the War; and if they have flown over Russia, as I have, they will understand what those roads are like. There has been no real development in machine industry. They have not the means of building bridges and of building locomotives, and the industry of Russia was greatly checked by the Treaty of Versailles, the work of that architect of disaster irretrievable. The engineering industries are now mainly in the Baltic States and in Poland, and the Russians are unable even to-day to provide themselves with the necessary machine parts that will enable them to build up their industries properly. Yet we are told that Russia was the one country—the country that has not, in the past, been worked under industrial capitalism at all—that should have made a success of Socialism. It was an absolute impossibility to do so, and no attempt will be made by the Communists in Russia to establish Communism in agriculture until such time as they have the technical bases in agricultural machinery, in chemicals, and in artificial fertilisers, and in everything of that sort.
Not until then will they make an attempt to carry this forward, through the stages of transition, to a complete Communism. Soviet Russia will get completely on its feet only when it is able to exchange the manufactured articles of the West for the raw materials of the East. Soviet Russia cannot go to Communism until such time as the more highly industrialised countries in the West also are going on the way to Communism. I remember asking Litvinoff, when he was stationed in this country, in September, 1918: "If no assistance comes to you from Western Europe, how long can you hold out?" He replied. "We cannot hold out more than two years." That was in September, 1918. It is to-day, July, 1923, and the Soviet Power is still holding out. It has not been able to make the transition to Communism, any more than it expected it would be able to do, if no assistance came from the West. Slowly and thoroughly, however, under the administration of the Workers' Government, staffed by men who are Marxists to a man, they will direct the public policy, utilising their understanding of the capitalist system to carry that system forward, step by step, until they reach complete Communism, and that will only come when it comes in the West. If hon. Members opposite continue to make such an excellent job as they have done of the capitalist system; it they continue marooning the cleverest statesmen that they have to the benches below the Gangway; if they continue to place in power men in their stead whose only qualification for Cabinet office is that their relatives did something two generations ago; if they continue to make the magnificent success they are making in dealing with unemployment, of getting Reparations settled, and of solving the housing and all the other problems, then Communism will be upon them very rapidly indeed.
The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Newbold) will pardon me if I do not go into the questions he raised in his speech, but direct myself at once to the clear issue raised in the Motion of the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden), and raised again in almost identical terms by the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) and the right hon. Member for East Newcastle (Mr. A. Henderson). That Motion is, in substance, that the existing system of private ownership and control of the means of production and distribution has brought the people of this country to a state of degradation and misery greater than any known in their history, and that there can be no improvement except by a complete change of the basis of our industrial organisation. The hon. Member for Colne Valley recently stated his conviction that the present system is inherently wrong, and that no amount of tinkering with it can make it permanently tolerable to the majority of the people. That is a clear issue, and to that I can direct myself. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), and more than one other hon. Member who has spoken, has already dealt with the astonishing statement that the state of the people of this country is worse than it was before the industrial development. I do not think I need dwell at length on that issue, but I should like to make one or two observations. I noticed, with some interest, that the hon. Member for Colne Valley, in making his case that the state of the world had shown no improvement in spite of all the development of science, and that therefore some wholly drastic, new proposal was necessary, asked the House more particularly to follow him in a passage from Mr. Henry George, making that same case—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] That is quite true. Mr. George, in the preface to his book, drew exactly the same picture of the world going from worse to worse, and needing a drastic change. But it was not the same change. He was not against capitalism. He thought a new heaven and a new earth could be created by the simple device of land taxation.
Let me come, for one moment, to some simple test of the actual fact. The hon. Member for Colne Valley has written books, which is perhaps as well for some of us. In one of those books, "Socialism and Syndicalism," he pointed out that between 1850 and 1900 nominal wages rose by 78 per cent., and prices fell by 11 per cent., the combined effect of the two being a rise in real wages of over 90 per cent. He might have added that during that same period the population doubled in this country, not to speak of the great overspill of population from this country which settled under better conditions in other countries overseas, or the creation of wealth in other nations by that same industrial system which had its home here. Nor did he take into account all the great increase, apart from the question of wages and prices, in the amenities of life which the development of civilisation has brought about—better education, better sanitation, parks, the provision of countless things which make life to-day for every section of the people far better than the life of a generation or two generations ago. I am bound to deal with that point, not because I wish to under-estimate for one moment the evils of the present situation, evils which we all fully recognise do exist in our midst to-day, nor because we are complacent and less concerned with their reform than hon. Members opposite. It is because of the fact that improvement has taken place, that surely there is justification for believing that, with good will, greater improvement will still take place, and that no violent overthrow of the present system is needed to secure that improvement.
It is no doubt true, as pointed out by the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) that War has dealt severe blows to our economic structure, and that we are consequently in a more difficult position than before. But if we improved steadily for over 60 years before the War, and if now we are temporarily in a worse position, that is really due to the War and its aftermath, and not to the system which existed before the War, a system which led to steady improvement and which will lead to steady improvement again. If I may follow one point made by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs it is this, that, although the actual difficulties of the times are great, the real distress, as compared with the distress that followed on periods of grave unemployment before the War, in its effect on the life of the people, on the health of the children, and upon mortality generally, has been less severe than it was because the measures taken by the State to cope with those evils have been more effective. And if we feel more strongly about these things to-day than we used to before the War it is because the conscience of the whole nation, and not of one party or of one section, has been quickened, and we all feel more acutely the disgrace and shame inevitably attendant on many of these things, and mean, as far as possible, to apply a remedy.
What is this drastic remedy that is proposed? It is no question of the extension of State and municipal ownership, it is no question of social reform, guiding, restraining or limiting the free exercise of the powers that individuals now exercise. It is a question of transferring the whole administration and control of industry into the hands of this House, with Ministers made responsible. I want to state, I hope fairly, the argument on which that proposal is based. The assumption on which it is based is that in that way, by substituting the control of the public, animated only by the public interest, you can secure a better and fairer distribution of work and production, and can avoid those irregularities—those periods of over production and under production which cause so much distress and unemployment. It is also argued that by eliminating private profit you are able through the State to make the profit of industry go back to the whole people. That is a simple argument and certainly not without its attractiveness. I confess that in the first reaction of youth from the rigid individualism of the old orthodox economies it was not without its attractions for myself. I am sure the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Sydney Webb), and the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald) will agree that if I have long since come to take a different view from them as to the best method of promoting the welfare of the people of this country, it is not because my motives but only my conclusions have altered.
I should like now, from a practical point of view, to examine their particular remedy. The first point I am bound to draw attention to is the assumption which underlies their proposal that the efficiency remains constant. If it remained substantially constant, their case would be half won for hon. Members. But the essential fact in production is that between success and failure a very narrow margin of efficiency makes all the difference. It makes the difference not in profit alone; it makes it in the question whether any profit or any wages can be earned at all. That is true in the most self-contained country; it is doubly true in a country like this which lives not merely by production in its own area but has to fight and trade for its living throughout the world and to support in this narrow island a population twice as great as its area justifies. Now whatever effect the existing system may have it has from the point of view of promoting efficiency at any rate one great advantage, that in every industry from top to bottom there is a continual testing of efficiency by the results in that industry. To each man engaged in the business there is the hope of success on one side and fear of failure on the other. That is applied day in and day out. Who applies it? It is a test applied by the community, it is the test of Success or failure based on whether the industry is producing something which is useful or desired by some substantial section of the community. Whatever failings the present system may have, it has the merit of continually bringing things to the test, and thereby calling upon qualities in the business man which respond to that test—enterprise, love of adventure, readiness to risk everything, and being prepared to meet failure. All these qualities are continually tested under the present system.
Now let me take the system which it is proposed should take its place. Under that system, the whole mechanism of industry is subject to this House, and the only test to which this House, and the Government in this House, is submitted is the test, at long intervals, of an election, in which it is impossible to distinguish between effective administration in one industry or another. All industries to- gether, and all issues of policy together, form the battle-ground of the election, and it is on question of policy and promises as well as performance that the election is fought. After all that, when the country had decided what kind of Government it would have, it would only have affected the fate of a very small section of those who have to take part in industry. The whole of the rest of the mechanism of industry would consist of civil servants and Government employés, of men who, once they were in the Service, would be subjected to practically no test—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"]—who, as long as they maintained a certain reasonable standard of conduct, were safe for the rest of their lives.
I do not wish it to be thought that I am criticising either the Civil Service or the ordinary method of administration for the particular purpose for which it has been devised, and for which it works admirably. We have a system of administration which serves admirably its particular purpose, which serves more particularly those great branches of administration in which the test of individual demand does not apply, and, therefore, in which ordinary commercial methods do not apply—I mean defence, education, sanitation—a great field of public endeavour which has to be settled, not by market prices, not by what people are willing to give for it, but by the broad needs of the community.
When you come to production, and to production for use, the administration of the State is not one that is calculated to give the highest immediate efficiency. It is an administration one of whose main purposes is justification in this House. The whole framework of a Government office is based, not on yielding results in terms of business, but on justifying itself to this House. It has to face criticism on the Estimates, it has to be prepared to answer questions. The registry is the central feature of any Government Department. It has to keep a vast apparatus of record which would be quite incompatible with the efficient conduct of any private business. It has to submit, for the same reasons, to a method of Treasury control, to a scrutiny by the Public Accounts Committee, which would be perfectly incompatible with the efficient conduct of any private business. I venture to say that no private business could be carried on efficiently subject to the restraints and checks to which the administration of government is subject in this country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting said that business men of great eminence had carried on Departments and given themselves wholeheartedly to them during the War without hope of reward. That is perfectly true, and millions of our fellow-citizens gave themselves unsparingly, night and day, not only to labour, but to wounds and death, for the mere pittance of a soldier's pay, in a state of grave national emergency. Is it proposed that they should be asked to do the same to-day?
I want the House to consider, not only how incompatible this proposal is with the structure of our administrative system, but how incompatible it is with the effective working of this House of Commons. After all, it is no use speaking about Society or the Public adminstering industry; it is this House of Commons that would have to do it. This House is suffering, in the opinion of all who have to work in it, by the overwhelming mass of work with which it has to deal, and the moment you begin to increase its work you will have to increase the responsible organs of government to deal with it. During the War, the Government had to exercise, not an administration of industry, but a very general control of it, and at once you had to create a number of new Ministries to carry it on. It would be a far greater thing to have actually to administer the means of distribution and production.
At the present moment, the Government carries on a great piece of distributive machinery, namely, the Post Office. Nobody would dispute that it is essential for the proper control over postal administration by this House that there should be a separate Minister in charge of that Department. But, when you look at it, postal administration is but a small thing compared with a score of other great distributing agencies in this country. There are far fewer post offices than there are grocers' shops, butchers' shops, or bakers' shops, and each of these departments of business employs much larger staffs and touches the people of this country far more nearly and inti- mately than does even the work of the Post Office. You would want a Minister for each of them. You would not only want a Postmaster - General, but a Butcher-General, a Baker-General, and, as my right hon. Friend the Attorney-General reminds me, even a Fishmonger-General—with an Under-Secretary for Poultry and Rabbits. You would want a Clothier-General with an Under-Secretary for Underwear. That is only when you are dealing with distribution, but when you come to the great productive industries, each one of which involves an administrative task far greater than any Government Department undertakes to-day, it will be seen that this proposal would necessarily involve an enormous increase in the Ministries and in the Cabinet—at least, a three-fold or five-fold increase. It would involve a corresponding increase in the number of days allotted to Committee of Supply, and would involve a corresponding increase in the time given to questions.
These may seem absurd speculations, but the absurdity lies, not in the speculations, but in the proposal of which they are an inevitable corollary. Let me point out another difficulty. One hon. Member who spoke earlier in the Debate pointed out that the Queensland experiment ought not to be judged by its failure, because it had to take over the existing plant of an individualist system. So will any Socialist Government in this country, and one of the features of the existing organisation to-day is that the great industries of this country are decentralised. The headquarters of one great industry is in Lancashire, another in Yorkshire, and so on right through the country. But you could not carry out the control of industry through Parliament except in London. You would have to have the headquarters of all the great industries centred here if they were to be responsible to Parliament. Is that going to lead to efficient management? Is it going to lead to sympathetic management? Is it likely to be acceptable to, say, workers on the Clyde, that they should have to deal, not with employers on the spot, but with a Government Department here in Whitehall?
It may be said—I do not know if that was the substance of the interjection of the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden)—that you need not centralise all the industries here in Parliament. You could decentralise them by county or municipal areas. Let me examine that proposition. It is perfectly true that many industries in this country have their local home, the population working in them, living in a certain locality, perhaps within the jurisdiction of a single county council or municipal authority. But the industry is not self-contained; its ramifications extend through the whole country, and, it may be, even through the whole world. Let me take as an instance a town like Paisley, which manufactures shawls and sewing thread. It cannot live upon these things. It cannot clothe itself with shawls and feed itself on sewing thread. It has to go into the world outside and buy and sell, competing with other industries. In that case, whether it is municipally controlled or not, it is, in respect of all the other industries of the country and of the other municipalities of the country and the world outside, a private capitalist venture. It has to face all the difficulties and run all the risks and incur all the disadvantages charged to capitalism by hon. Members opposite. It has to engage in competition with the rest of the world. In the course of that competition it may easily make the mistake of over production and involve the workers in unemployment. In the course of that competition, to avoid going under, it may be equally compelled to sweat the wages of its workers. The ordinary shareholder to-day has his eggs in many baskets In this case the whole community will be dependent on its success as a capitalist enterprise competing in the world outside.
That objection, which I put just now against municipal control, is really equally applicable to national control by this Parliament. One of the facts that is never faced by the advocates of Socialism is, that the political area, the unit of political control and the unit of economic control do not coincide. This country is not by itself an economic unit any more than the town of Paisley. It lives by a vast foreign trade. We import every year some £500,000,000 of foodstuffs, and not far from £300,000,000 worth of raw material. Those have to be secured by skill in trading outside. Can hon. Members guarantee that any system of administration conducted under the authority of Parliament here will be any more successful than the experienced business men of to-day in securing trade, in securing the necessary raw material, in avoiding the mistake of buying too readily on a rising market, and of avoiding the mistake of producing goods you find you cannot sell afterwards?
I will put another question. Just as a municipality trading with the rest of the country and the outside world is viz-a-viz the world, a capitalist enterprise, so this country, trading with the world outside, however Socialist it may be at home, becomes in effect a capitalist enterprise and enters into competition with the world outside. I do not think from the point of view of ordinary business it is likely to be an efficient enterprise. But it has powers which, if it chooses to exercise them, could be very formidable, and formidable for great evil as well as possibly for good. The hon. Member for Colne Valley, in one of those interesting articles I have recently been reading, says the Labour party is essentially a party of Free Trade, because it believes Protection breeds rivalry among the nations and is often a cause of war. How is he going to combine Free Trade with the system he advocates? If he suppresses all private capitalist distribution by the inhabitants of the country, is he going to allow foreign capitalist agencies to distribute their goods freely in this country? If not, is not likely that the Department that distributes, say, butter is going to get in direct conflict with the Department responsible for its production? I am not a Free Trader. I do not think it is essential for the welfare of the country that, regardless of conditions outside, regardless of the cost of production, regardless of social conditions here, we should still welcome in, untaxed and assisted in every way, the goods of every region of the world. But certainly I should not wish to put any wall round the country. I believe a due measure of competition with trade outside is essential to stimulating the industry of the country. But as far as I can see, the system that is proposed by hon. Members opposite is to put an absolute end to the ordinary trade intercourse between the nations. More than that, how it is going to be compatible either with the proper conduct of our Imperial affairs or with the proper conduct of Foreign affairs? We in this Parliament have, apart from the material interests of the country or of any particular trade, a certain standard of political conduct in dealing with the world outside. We have a standard, not always perfectly observed, but one which we endeavour to live up to, of trusteeship with regard to the dependent regions of the Empire. In dealing with other nations, as long as our subjects are not treated unjustly as compared with the subjects of other countries we do not regard it as our duty to interfere by force to push our trade in their market. But when once you link up everything in this Parliament, when this Government exists as a trading Government pure and simple, will not the temptation to use its powers over subject races be too strong to resist, and is not the danger of war more likely to increase than to be diminished by such a policy?
Let me take one further aspect. A centralised system like this may be able to provide with reasonable economy the goods which are desired by the great majority. But it will be unable to do what the present system does, to supply the needs of any reasonably small constituency of consumers. That means no variety and no choice, and, more than that, it means no progress. Progress in this world never goes on a single broad front. It is not the majority, it is the minority who always lead. What would have been the attitude of a Government conducted on the line that is favoured by hon. Members opposite towards many of the inventions of the past? Would a Government that was directly responsible for all the post chaises, and all the horses, and all the hay in this country have encouraged George Stephenson? It would have meant the scrapping of horses and vehicles and the putting out of work of many thousands of Government supporters. It is not only with regard to inventions but with regard to all the ordinary improvements in living that progress begins with the few, and those few who have sufficient surplus and leisure to be able to experiment. I was listening some time ago to Debates in this House in which in impassioned language hon. Members opposite spoke of certain articles, like tea and sugar, as being absolute necessities of the people. Do not let us forget that originally they were the costly luxuries of the few. These luxuries were introduced and then were extended till they have become necessities by private enterprise. What Socialist state centuries ago would have catered for the tea drinker, or for the tobacco smoker, or for the coffee drinker? Cotton was a rare luxury. There is hardly a single thing that contributes to the ordinary necessities of life that was not in its time a luxury of the well-to-do, and which, under private enterprise, and private enterprise alone, has gradually become a necessity.
Let me ask, what is the kind of life to which a system of State Socialism would reduce the people of this country? I cannot see that in any respect anyone who has spoken to-night from the other side, or on previous occasions, has given any evidence to suggest that it would result in higher efficiency, and without higher efficiency we cannot have higher wages or more certain employment. The hon. Member for Colne Valley spoke of strikes as being a result of the present system. Will there be no strikes under State bureaucratic administration? I notice that in advocating Guild Socialism, Mr. Cole remarks that the workers under such management are no more free so far as the conditions of their working life are concerned than are the workers under the capitalist system. He suggests that this system would bring not peace but a sword. Hon. Members have quoted State control in other countries. Have there been no strikes in the State coal mines of Australia and New Zealand? Have there been no strikes in the shipbuilding yards of Melbourne and Sydney? Was there not a strike the other day in the Commonwealth shipping line? I cannot conceive any reason in the world why a working man at one end of the country should be less willing to strike against some distant State official who may represent a party to which he is most bitterly opposed in politics.
I now come to the question asked by the right hon. Member for East Newcastle: What is our alternative? Are we prepared to say that all is for the best in the best of possible worlds, and that nothing is required but to give capitalism free play. We on this side of the House, at any rate, have never stood for the doctrine that capital is an end in itself, and above the law. We have always held since the days of the Factory Act a very different view. The Trade Union Act, the Compensation for Accidents to Workmen Act, and many other Measures, including Measures supported by every party, show that there has always been dominant in this country, for the last 60 or 70 years, at any rate, the perfectly definite view that, while the free play of capital is a vital and essential thing, it is no less the function of this House and of the State to limit, restrain, and, if necessary, guide the exercise of its activities. In these respects, three main charges are made against the existing system in regard to all of which I say that, under the existing system, and by modification of it, the desired results could be obtained.
One objection has reference to the actual social conditions under which the people live. The other has reference to the serious problem, so terribly serious at this moment, of unemployment, and the last has reference to what we may call the human side of the question, the status of the workman, and his feeling that he ought to have a responsible share in industry and not be merely a tool. On the first of these three subjects I believe that by State guidance and control—which is as different from direct State administration as walking freely under the law is different from being man-handled by a policeman—it is possible in the first instance to carry on and to extend, wherever experience may show that it is necessary, all that great accumulation of social reforms which have been, in some ways, the most characteristic features of the last half century. There is certainly one field in which we may not have done all that we might, and that is in taking care by State action that the people of this country should not be so subject to violent fluctuations of trade and employment as they have been. The junior Member for the City of London (Mr. E. C. Grenfell), in a very interesting speech, pointed out that while we under capitalism have a terrible volume of unemployment at this moment. France, equally under capitalism, has had practically no unemployment since the War.
I can suggest a different reason. France is, to the extent of half her population, an agricultural country. She has never allowed her agriculture to go down. Whatever happens to the world outside she manages to keep trade and commerce reasonably constant in her own country. There is a great field for the development and strengthening of agriculture in this country. We in our haste and in our love for the absolute free-play of economic forces, made a great mistake in allowing our agriculture to decline as it has done during the last two generations. I do not suggest that in these islands alone we can bring about such an even balance of production as will avoid the risks and dangers of unemployment such as we see to-day; but I do suggest that within the wider territories of the British Empire, if we develop those territories and if we develop the manhood and resources of those territories, there is an opportunity of securing such a harmony of productive power as will reduce unemployment to the very lowest possible level. There can be no such thing as general over-production. It is partial overproduction, excessive abundance and overproduction of one thing not balanced by the proper production of something else, that causes unemployment. If we aim, through the guidance and protection of the State, at securing a better balance of production within the Empire we shall have gone a long way towards meeting the evils that have been complained of.
Lastly, I should like to say a word on the question of status, the status of industry face to face with capital. It is very different from what it was a generation or two ago. The relation of the workman to his employer is very different from what it was years ago. Capital itself has changed. It is in the hands of millions of people, millions of small people in every walk of life. The great co-operative societies, friendly societies, and trade unions are all forms of capital, and through them the workman has achieved a far higher status and greater confidence in himself than he possessed a generation or two ago. Is there any reason why that process of evolution should not continue? Why should there not be a far greater extension, in one form or another, of copartnership in industry, not necessarily between a man and the one firm with which he works, but why not a co-partner- ship between the larger trade unions and the industry in which they are interested? Why should not they put some of their capital into these industries and get control of them, so that the return which they would get from their capital if wisely put into these industries, would give them far greater power than they possess at present? Through the councils which are always associated with your name the workmen can acquire the right to be told more, and to have a fuller say in the conduct of the industry. In all those questions I do believe that we can make far greater progress than we have ever made. If there are other means let us hasten to apply them. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs suggested the appointment of a special Committee of inquiry. No suggestion coming from one of his great authority and experience can be lightly rejected. If such a proposal on consideration shows any hope of yielding practical results, there is no reason why such a proposal should not be considered.
Certainly, on behalf of the Government, I say that that proposal, and any other with this object, will receive careful consideration. I wish to say, in conclusion, that the real wealth and strength of this great country lie in the living forces which reside within its people, in their courage and enterprise, their love of adventure and their love, it may be, of the approbation of their fellow men. Some of these emotions, unregulated and uneducated, may be productive of evil. But guided, controlled and educated by public opinion and the opinion of this House, those forces are, in our belief, amply sufficient to bring about a far better state of things than we in this country or the people in any other country have ever known before. But I would ask the House to repudiate the illusory dream that, by scrapping all this life and freedom and energy and putting in their place a crude mechanical scheme, you will do anything else than paralyse industry, narrow and impoverish the life of the nation, and inevitably destroy the political system under which we live.
Mr. J. RAMSAY MacDONALD:
We have listened to a series of speeches which have been very illuminating, and not the least illuminating is the last speech of my right hon. Friend. His speech made me melancholy. I remember the right hon. Gentleman something like a quarter of a century ago, I am sorry to say. In those days he would not have made the speech which he has made to-night—not from the point of view of conclusion but from the point of view of understanding his subject. The right hon. Gentleman in those days, when he was nibbling at Socialism, would never for five minutes have risen and suggested, even to the Oxford Union—to say nothing of this House—that the only conception of Socialism held by us is a great State bureaucracy, and that the only method of controlling national industry is by this House increasing the number of its Supply days. My right hon. Friend has gained in imagination what he has lost in accuracy of knowledge of the Socialist movement and Socialist aims. I thought that at the last Election hon. Members and the candidates who stood with them were hitting below the belt when they produced bill after bill and statement after statement about us. I am more charitably inclined after having listened to the Debate to-day. So far as I am concerned, they do not know where my belt is, and if they hit below, I cannot exactly blame them.
There is one curious thing about this Debate: There has not been a single speaker who has defended capitalism. The one who came nearest was my right hon. Friend the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), but he was so anxious to get cheers from the Government side that he forgot to get cheers from his own colleagues. I shall deal with him in a minute. But I repeat that here in this House the great capitalist party is ranged in front of us, and not a single speaker has got up to give an unqualified defence of capitalism. Even the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) did not do so, in the extraordinary picture he gave us of the world fit for heroes to live in—that new and very much revised version of what was to happen after the War. Even he, in words—with which I have been so often familiar—of solemn warning of the terrible things that were to come, wagged his finger at the Government Benches and said: "I have warned you. You must appoint a commission to inquire."
What did my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen Valley discover, when he possessed himself of a penny pamphlet on Socialism? One of the first things he discover, after a serious and acute examination of our position, is that the Socialist regards capitalism as a historical reversion. Where did he get that? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell me, where is the Socialist position stated as he has stated it—that capitalism is a reversion in history?
The Socialist position is that Capitalism was an improvement on what went before it, and that Socialism is going to be an improvement on Capitalism. My right hon. and learned Friend produced another argument which went on the assumption that the Socialist had no belief in capital and, in the course of that argument, he mixed up the use of capital, as one of the machines of production, with the capitalist system.
Nothing would delight me more than to have a controversy with my neighbour, but the unfortunate thing is that there is an instrument facing you, Mr. Speaker, and when that long finger approaches 11 o'clock I must sit down. May I say in passing—and the House will excuse me, I know—I put it in this way, that my right hon. and learned Friend cannot make good his argument regarding co-operation, unless he mixes up capital with capitalism? He made a most elaborate reply which went upon the assumption that the Socialist is bound to hold the doctrine that no progress is being made under capitalism. Where does he find that?
I am sorry to interrupt, but if the hon. Gentleman challenges me in that way it is his own fault if I interrupt him. My observation, which I can put in a sentence, was to this effect—that it did not appear to me that the argument used by the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) was a fair argument, when he invited us to examine the results of capitalism and called attention to no results except a certain number of disquieting incidents.
I admit it is my fault which has brought my right hon. and learned Friend to his feet just now, and I will drop the matter for the very good reason that there is not time to discuss it, but I put this to my right hon. and learned Friend: why is it necessary, not only for him but for others, to build up a reply to Socialism on the assumption that the Socialist is going to abolish the present state of society? Why is it necessary to use the expression "violent overthrow" as used by the right hon. Gentleman opposite? Read the Motion. Supposing we were to transform instead of to abolish. As a matter of fact, the word "transform," used instead of the words "abolish" or "violently overthrow" changes the whole aspect, the whole method, of the change from capitalism to Socialism, and knocks nine-tenths of the arguments used to-day against us completely on the head. My right hon. Friend gave the example of Queensland. Why? If all those crimes which he described were committed, why has it come about that at the election the other day this criminal Queensland Labour party has been returned with an increased majority? The right hon. Gentleman opposite, elaborating that point of his about the bureaucracy, had an idea that under Socialism some great central body was going to sit in London and control all the production of the country. Is not that very largely true now? What about all your trusts, all your federations of industry, what about all your organisations of employers? [An HON. MEMBER: "Free!"] Nominally, it may be, but there is the control. The right hon. Gentleman did not talk about freedom; it was simply the question of the organisation. I do not like it. I am opposed to it. As a matter of fact, there is going to be very little bureaucracy under Socialism. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I regret very much if I am disappointing hon. Members, but they had better keep their minds very much closed if they are not going to be disappointed when they understand, what they have been talking about so much without apparently understanding, that Socialism does not mean a State bureaucracy.
What is the alternative? Is the right hon. Gentleman's alternative the Budget he has just prepared? Is his alternative a subsidy for agriculture and landlordism, on the one hand, with the abolition of agricultural wages boards on the other? I do not know that he will admit that, but, as a matter of fact, that is his alternative, and that alternative is inherent in the system, and every time you have a capitalist Government on that side of the House, that is the legislation you produce, whilst you can make any speeches you like about your intentions. The question has been put several times as to whether the evils to which we have drawn attention are inherent, are essential features of capitalism. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs told us, in picturing that dark picture of his, that you could patch it here, and patch it there. He was following again in the footsteps of his great prototype, Prince Bismarck, whose great discovery about 50 years ago was to stave off Socialism by giving little doses of Socialism to the German people. Our contention is that these evils are inherent in the system, and you cannot get them out of it so long as it lasts. Can anyone tell me how you are going to avoid trusts under Capitalism? Can anyone tell me how you are going to avoid monopoly under Capitalism?
Hon. Members imagine that competition is a feature of Capitalism—nothing of the kind. What happens is that you open with competition, you go on with federated businesses, you go on accumulating more capital, uniting more and more independent concerns, until at last, on the other side, by agreements like those holding in the building trades, or by actual federations and united masses of capital, you bring about, under a system of Capitalism, the death of competition and a widespread system of trusts and monopoly that make the community an absolute victim. The course of that has been shown since the War in particular. The producing and consuming community has to bear the burden of excessive overcapitalisation. If a 5 per cent. dividend be increased to 10 per cent., the extra 5 per cent. is immediately capitalised, and is fixed, not as a reward for ability, nor as a reward for labour, but permanently as a reward for capital. Capital by itself, by its own valuation, creates an economic machine which inevitably dominates the life of the community in the interests of its own profit. That is not all. The hon. Member for the City of London, who gave us a very interesting speech, laid special emphasis on ca' canny. Is there only ca' canny on one side? I have never written or spoken a word in favour of ca' canny, and I never will. Yes, but what is going on? Is it only the day labourer, is it only the workman who is ca' cannying now? There is not a single product of any importance or of any general consumption but is being cornered, limited in its production by the capitalist in order to reduce supplies. Take cotton. Take timber. Take copper. Take rubber. Take tea. Take coffee. Take sugar. Why was not the tax taken off sugar by the Budget?
Take the question of building material. The Government appointed Committee after Committee to consider the effect of cornering upon important articles of consumption. What did a Committee say about building materials?
By a pooling arrangement the National Light Castings Association penalises any
member who increases his output, and rewards any member who reduces his output relative to the rest.
Why do not hon. Members opposite cheer that? Why do they not ask for proof? I will give them some more. The Committee refers to this arrangement to "ca' canny" on the part of monopolists—
as tending to restrict total output, to stereotype the lay-out of the industry, and to retard the improvement of efficiency. They consider it to be contrary to the public interest.
That is good enough for me. So far as argument goes, I am perfectly satisfied that the capitalist system has to be supplanted by Socialism, because the latter is the better form of public utility. Another point. "Ca' canny" is essentially capitalistic. It is the study of capitalist methods. It is the example given them by employers that has spread the idea amongst workmen that it is economical for them to withhold their labour, that if you give a man 20s. and he wants 25s., and considers 25s. is the right figure that he should have—that is in the way of bargaining under the immoral system upon which capitalism is based—then the workmen say: "If we believe 25s. is right, and you only give us 20s., we will only give you 20s. worth of work in return; we will see that you do not get the best of the bargain, or that you only get from us what you pay wages for." I say I do not like it. It is not my idea of production. But nobody who defends capitalism, nobody who defends profiteering, nobody who says that there is a price placed upon everything determined by the law of supply and demand—nobody who holds that view—can withhold the application of exactly the same principle to the men who adopt the principle of "ca'-canny" because they believe their wages are too small, and that by withholding labour they will give work to their fellow workmen. That is not all. Capitalism must always secure insecurity—insecurity of labour, insecurity of supply. I do not want to give mere abstract argument, for what I say I want to give authority, authority that hon. Members opposite will not deny. I came across in the "Iron and Coal Trades Review" in its issue of 8th June, in a leading article on "Industrial Fuel supplies," the following:
It is exceedingly difficult to take advantage of a seller's market without causing
inconvenience somewhere; indeed a continued assurance of supplies all round would reduce trading to a monotonous routine from which healthy speculation and general business acumen would be largely excluded.
There is no question there—save in the words used or in the turn of the sentence—but that it is essential that capitalism should have what they suggest. If you supply a steady flow of raw material, take away the risks, then, says this journal, you are damaging capitalism because you are taking away the incentive to efficient work!
We have had another question put to us and it is, "What are you going to do when you take over industry with all those wonderful men who apply their brains to our foreign markets?" Does the right hon. Gentleman who asked that question think that we shall kill them? We shall keep them at their jobs. What happens to-day? Does the right hon. Gentleman believe the statement that their wonderful agents are their own employers? Of course they are not, because they are as much the paid servants of the company that employs them as the staff he employs at the Admiralty are the paid servants of the State. Would the right hon. Gentleman like to run the Admiralty as a private venture, and if not, why not? The fact of the matter is that the business brain of the community is hired by the capitalist and it is not the capitalists themselves. I was very sorry that I did not hear the speech of the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Sir A. Mond), but I had the pleasure of knowing something about the relative of his to whom he referred and to whom the country owes so much, but he knows as well as I know, that in the development of the Royal Institution the father of the right hon. Gentleman got very little for all those experiments which he financed on the liquefaction of air and the use of low temperature gases. What did he get for that? Nothing. He did it because he was interested in science, because his heart was in that work, and the reason why we owe him so much to-day in regard to the application of physical science to industry is not because he was wealthy, but because like every other man who has advanced knowledge and advanced human righteousness his heart was right, and it was not merely because his pocket was full. I object to the human spirit being limited and confined in its freedom by embattled econo- mic power such as capitalism affords to-day. Talk about liberty to-day. Why, we have not got a whiff of liberty yet. The great mass of our people are not free to choose a destiny for their own children, and to live lives that would be good lives. [Interruption.]The great mass of our people are not free to say what they like and to think what they like—[Interruption.]
I must ask the hon Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour) not to interrupt with these continuous suggestions. If he does so, it is quite impossible for anyone to make a speech.
If an hon. Member is not entitled in any speech to use rhetorical questions, without waiting for an answer from an hon. Member who is seated, it would make Debate quite impossible.
I hope it is not a bad habit on my part, or I should apologise. I object most strongly to this domination of materialism, which is capitalism, over life, absolutely. Moreover, what is the great problem we have all got to face? I say it is the problem of production, to begin with. What is the appeal of capitalism for more production? Absolutely nothing at all. It cannot be the appeal of property. My right hon. Friend told us, earlier in the day, that he wanted a society based upon thrift, upon income, and that sort of thing. He did not describe capitalism when he used those words, he described a purely fanciful state of society. Capitalism cannot appeal to people to produce on a basis of property, because 99 per cent. of our people have no property worth talking about. We cannot appeal to them, we want some stimulus much different from that. The hon. Member for the City of London referred to Georgia. I wish I could tell fully of a very touching, very illuminating experience I had when I was there. I went to the mines, up in the Caucasus, which had just been nationalised. Before that they were the scene of turbulence. Production was going down, and lawlessness and disorder were rife. They had settled down and were quiet. I asked the leader of all the troubles what was the difference between the old state and the new. He said: "In the old state we used to work from here"—touching his shoulder—"to there"—pointing to the end of his pick—"because then we worked for capitalists. In the new state, when we think of the children who are enjoying our coal in Tiflis, we not only work from the shoulder to the pick, but we work with our hearts as well."
That is my experience. [Laughter.] I am one of those people who do not laugh at that. I am one of those people who say to hon. Members opposite and to my hon. Friends that until you can enlist the soul of your worker you are neither going to have duty coming from his heart nor amplitude coming from his efforts. Capitalists cannot lift the man up to that; they may give him big positions and managing posts, but this is gross materialism which moth and dust doth corrupt and which thieves break through and steal, and until society has discovered that fine, impalpable, spiritual effort it will never solve this great problem of production. So far as one can see, nothing can do that except Socialism. Capitalism will never do it. I wanted to say a few words on the position of parties, but it is impossible in the time left me. There are only two parties in politics to-day. There is the Capitalist party and the Labour and Socialist party. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen Valley has tried to get into a sort of half-way house. His half-way house is on wheels. It always moves forward when he likes, and nobody will be in the Socialist camp sooner than my right hon. Friend when that camp becomes popular. The very things he talked about, the legislation passed by the Liberal party, what does it come to? There is not one single thing, with the exception, perhaps, of education, that spontaneously came from that party. I will conclude with one quotation from a Liberal leader who is still with us, but having no pride of place in the party to which he belongs. Lord Morley, in resigning the editorship of the
"Fortnightly Review," wrote a valedictory which contained this sentence:
We shall need to see great schools before we can make sure of powerful parties. Meanwhile, whatever gives freedom and variety to thought and earnestness to men's interests in the world, must contribute to a good end.
|Division No. 291.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adams, D.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Riley, Ben|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Herriotts, J.||Ritson, J.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hill, A.||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Attlee, C. R.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Irving, Dan||Saklatvala, S.|
|Barnes, A.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Batey, Joseph||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Sexton, James|
|Broad, F. A.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Brotherton, J.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Buckie, J.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Burgess, S.||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Snell, Harry|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Kirkwood, D.||Snowden, Philip|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Lansbury, George||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lawson, John James||Sullivan, J.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Leach, W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lee, F.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)||Tout, W. J.|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Lowth, T.||Trevelyan, C. P.|
|Duncan, C.||Lunn, William||Turner, Ben|
|Dunnico, H.||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Ede, James Chuter||M'Entee, V. L.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||McLaren, Andrew||Warne, G. H.|
|Gosling, Harry||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||March, S.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Greenall, T.||Middleton, G.||Webb, Sidney|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Morel, E. D.||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Weir, L. M.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Muir, John W.||Westwood, J.|
|Groves, T.||Murnin, H.||Whiteley, W.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western)||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Newbold, J. T. W.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Grady, Captain James||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Hardie, George D.||Oliver, George Harold||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Paling, W.||Wright, W.|
|Hastings, Patrick||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Hayday, Arthur||Potts, John S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||Richards, R.||Mr. Spoor and Mr. Ammon.|
|Hemmerde, E. G.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Betterton, Henry B.||Butt, Sir Alfred|
|Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Button, H. S.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Cadogan, Major Edward|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Blundell, F. N.||Cassels, J. D.|
|Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark)||Bonwick, A.||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Bowdler, W. A.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)|
|Apsley, Lord||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Brass, Captain W.||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Brassey, Sir Leonard||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)|
|Astor, J. J. (Kent, Dover)||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Briggs, Harold||Chapman, Sir S.|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Brittain, Sir Harry||Chapple, W. A.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Clarke, Sir E. C.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Churchman, Sir Arthur|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Banks, Mitchell||Bruford, R.||Clayton, G. C.|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Bruton, Sir James||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Buckingham, Sir H.||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.|
|Becker, Harry||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Collison, Levi|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge)||Conway, Sir W. Martin|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Cope, Major William|
|Bennett, A. J. (Mansfield)||Butcher, Sir John George||Cotts, Sir William Dingwall Mitchell|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Butler, H. M. (Leeds, North)||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Butler, J. R. M. (Cambridge Univ.)||Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hohier, Gerald Fitzroy||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Hood, Sir Joseph||Paget, T. G.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hopkins, John W. W.||Parker, Owen (Kettering)|
|Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Pattinson, R. (Grantham)|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Pease, William Edwin|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Houfton, John Plowright||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Penny, Frederick George|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hudson, Capt. A.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Hughes, Collingwood||Perring, William George|
|Dixon, C. H. (Rutland)||Hume, G. H.||Peto, Basil E.|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Philipson, Mabel|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Hurd, Percy A.||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Edmonds, G.||Hurst, Gerald B.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)||Price, E. G.|
|Ednam, Viscount||Hutchison, Sir R. (Kirkcaldy)||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Rae, Sir Henry N.|
|Ellis, R. G.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Raine, W.|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul||Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C.|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Johnson, Sir L. (Walthamstow, E.)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Evans, Ernest (Cardigan)||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E.)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Remer, J. R.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. Bolton M.||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Remnant, Sir James|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Kelley, Major Sir Frederick A.||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Falconer, J.||Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel||Reynolds, W. G. W.|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Kenyon, Barnet||Rhodes, Lieut.-Col. J. P.|
|Fawkes, Major F. H.||King, Capt. Henry Douglas||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Fildes, Henry||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Roberts, C. H. (Derby)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Lamb, J. Q.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Flanagan, W. H.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Robertson-Despencer, Major (Islgtn, W.)|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Linfield, F. C.||Rogerson, Capt. J. E.|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Furness, G. J.||Lorden, John William||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Lougher, L.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Russell, William (Bolton)|
|Garland, C. S.||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Lumley, L. R.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Sandon, Lord|
|Gould, James C.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Greaves-Lord, Walter||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hackn'y, N.)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Guest, Hon. C. H. (Bristol, N.)||Manville, Edward||Shipwright, Captain D.|
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Margesson, H. D. R.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Simpson-Hinchliffe, W. A.|
|Gwynne, Rupert S.||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||Sinclair, Sir A.|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||Singleton, J. E.|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Mercer, Colonel H.||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Halstead, Major D.||Millar, J. D.||Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)|
|Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham)||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Hancock, John George||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Harbord, Arthur||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Stanley, Lord|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Harrison, F. C.||Morris, Harold||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)|
|Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Morrison-Bell, Major Sir A. C. (Honiton)||Stockton, Sir Edwin Forsyth|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Murchison, C. K.||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Nall, Major Joseph||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Hewett, Sir J. P.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Hiley, Sir Ernest||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Hillary, A. E.||Nicholson, Brig..-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Hinds, John||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Nield, Sir Herbert||Thornton, M.|
|Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Hogge, James Myles||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Tubbs, S. W.||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)||Wood, Maj. Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Turton, Edmund Russborough||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Wallace, Captain E.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)||Winterton, Earl||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.||Wintringham, Margaret||Young, Rt. Hon. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wise, Frederick|
|Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)||Wolmer, Viscount||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Wells, S. R.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel|
|Weston, Colonel John Wakefield||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)||the Rt. Hon. G. A. Gibbs.|
|White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
Question put, and agreed to.
That the words 'this House, believing that the abolition of private interest in the means of production and distribution would impoverish the people and aggravate existing evils, is unalterably opposed to any scheme of legislation which would deprive the State of the benefits of individual initiative, and believing that far-reaching measures of social redress may be accomplished without overturning the present basis of society, is resolved to prosecute proposals which, by removing the evil effects of monopoly and waste, will conduce to the well-being of the people,' be there added.