I beg to move,
That this House views with concern the lack of adequate co-ordination in the transport system of Great Britain, deplores the economic waste and impediments to development and efficiency inseparable from the existence of competitive undertakings in this field, and, whilst ready to encourage any well-considered schemes of co-ordination which are consistent with the public interest, considers that a solution can only be found in the nationalisation of railways and long-distance road transport.
This Motion calls attention to the present position and future prospects of the railway and long-distance transport in this country, expresses concern at its condition, and proposes a solution which I trust will receive the approval of this House. We hear on all hands that the industrial and commercial position of the country is very difficult. Not alone has this been caused by the evolution of electrical and transport inventions, nor even perhaps by the circumstances of the War, but more by the profiteering which went on directly after the War. We find that our industrial system is unbalanced, that those who were once our customers for iron, steel, and coal are endeavouring to find alternative methods of obtaining fuel or power, and of otherwise getting the
material they require. They feel that for the future they must to some extent be independent of the people who profiteered at their expense during the War. So we see a great disturbance economically all over the world, and we know full well that our great staple industries cannot ever recover the position they occupied relatively to the rest of the world previous to the War. We are told, also, that those countries now developing in competition with ourselves are the last word in regard to up-to-date methods both of machinery and appliances, and also skilled organisation, and that we must overhaul our own system; we must rationalise. That means from their point of view, as far as productive industry is concerned, that we must utilise the most efficient methods, that we must eliminate waste, and that we must concentrate upon the most efficient equipment where we have a redundancy of equipment for our requirements. There is another sense in which the word "rationalisation" comes in, and that is the sense in which we used it when we were short of meat and butter in the War. In a short time we had to ration our requirements to the supplies available. To-day, we are told, rather, that we have to ration our sources of production to the effective demand. We are told that we must put an end to cut-throat competition in industries and services and utilise what we have to the best advantage, if we are to be in a position to compete. That new principle, now generally accepted, from all points of view, marks the end of a period of our economic history. Once the Liberal party was the political expression of individualism and competition. To-day, in industry there is no individualism and little competition. They have proved to be so wasteful that we are doing our best to eliminate them.
In this connection, we must look at one of the great factors in our trade, commerce, and industry, and that is the transport facilities both for passengers and for goods. There is no doubt that in that respect we have been very unfortunately served in the past. In the main, the railways have stood practically still for about 40 years, with the exception of some sensational runs of nonstop trains from London to Edinburgh and so on. The railway trucks, the methods of handling them, and the methods of handling the services—every-
thing has stood practically still. The railways have practically a monopoly and the principle of that monopoly was private interest. You were to charge as much in the interest of the shareholders as the traffic would bear. You were to squeeze as much out of it as you could. The railways distributed all that was available year by year in dividends, not looking for the time when their old stations and plant would be out of date and ready for replacement. When those replacements had to take place, new capital was raised, and so there was more capital to bear interest. That went on until you had this position which has been described in very important words by a great authority on the railways who has had a very effective part in their conduct and who was once regarded as a very great genius by the united parties, as they were then, who sit opposite this evening. I refer to Sir Eric Geddes, who when the Railway Act was being discussed in this House in 1921 said this:
Before the War the value of the shares in railways was declining and the difficulty of raising capital was increasing. Their future, their organisation, and their finance was the subject of grave consideration right down to the year before the War.
I do not think anyone would dispute that. The outlook was then very gloomy, and then there was no question of road transport. We had hundreds of companies with directors and with shares in the hands of trustees widely distributed over large areas. We found that there was no effective control by the shareholders. Their interests were entirely in the hands of the directors. There was no control from public opinion, because the newspapers in the main rely to some extent upon the railways for advertisements and would not publish complaints. There was no control from the public authority or the House of Commons, and the railways were slipping back and back into a most uneconomic position when the War broke out. The Government of that day, for the sake of the national position, had to put an end to that state of affairs by suspending the operations of the directors and of the clearing house, and by grouping the railways under a railway control board which ran them for the nation during the War. The result of that hotch-potch arrangement, temporarily made for the War period, was phenomenal. So much so, that on all
hands it was agreed that we could never allow the country to go back to the position which existed in p re-War days. When the War was over, people who were not Socialists with a pet hobby of nationalisation, but leaders of the Coalition Government of that time, declared that the Government's policy was to nationalise the railways. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), a great Minister in that Government, on 5th December, 1918, said that the Government policy was the nationalisation of the railways. That great step they had at last decided to take. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) said in the same year:
The problem of transportation has been left largely to chance. The roads, the canals, the railways and the trams are all vital to the life of industry and to the country. That problem must be taken in hand under the direct inspiration and control of the State.
Again the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping said:
We cannot organise the great questions of land settlement, of new industries, and the extension of production in this State without control of the means of transportation.
But the courage of these gentlemen failed them. In the Coalition after the War there were too many hard-faced people who had done well out of the War to permit of the opinions of the Member for Epping and the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs being adopted. They decided that it would not be good from their political point of view to carry out their first intention, and so they made a mess of the whole thing by splitting the country into four great areas with different railway groups. We know that they eliminated some of the shareholders and some of the railway directors and grouped the shares together, but they failed in the great necessity of the time, namely, the organisation of the railway transport system as a whole. The railways started off with a nest egg of £60,000,000 to compensate them for the extra profits which they might have made during the War. Still we see the railways in a pitiful position, not perhaps compared with 70 or 80 years ago, but compared with what they might be. We hear complaints from all hands. I live in an area where tens of thousands of people are in misery day by day because
there are not the travelling facilities which one railway company would have provided, but which they were prevented from providing by another railway company. We see that all the way round; one company fighting against the other's interest. According to one computation, taking the whole history of the railway companies, at least one-third of their total capital is represented by Parliamentary expenses and lawyer's fees. All that might have been saved by proper co-ordination.
The railway companies, no doubt, thought that they had got away very well. Before the Act of 1921 was passed, when the Government was responsible for their dividends, they had done a great deal to rehabilitate the railways. I have never seen the railways of this country look quite so smart and trim, or their tracks in such good condition, as they were just previous to their being handed over to the groups. But again they adopted an attitude that they should charge as much for the traffic as it could possibly bear. Their freights were raised, their fares were raised, and they failed to realise the great new factor of road transport. Road transport is developing in every direction. There is no doubt that the prospect in front of the shareholders is very gloomy and that it will only be the debenture holders who will get any return in the near future and the prospect for the employés on the railways is very bad indeed. There is a railway rates tribunal which fixes rates on a level which will secure to the railways their pre-War profits. But the traffic is being taken away from them more and more. Traders and producers are relying more and more on road transport, not alone because of the cost, but because of the delay, the damage to their goods, and the lack of provision of the facilities which they require.
We are concerned about the beet industry. Three or four years in succession the association representing that industry and the chairman of that association have drawn attention to the grave effect on the production on beet of the lack of truck facilities. Coal trucks have been standing idle because of the depression in our coal industry. Many of the beet companies at great expense have had to purchase great steam lorries to carry the goods by road which the railways have neglected to carry for them. We all know that railways are all very well if you are going from one big town to another, but we know the condition of some of the railway carriages which we used a few years ago. A year or two back, I was travelling in South Wales and I happened to take a workman's train. It had on it one of the earliest carriages used by the Metropolitan Railway Company before that line was electrified 20 years ago. That is the kind of thing which is thought good enough for British working men. We all know the comfort of sitting in a road coach compared with the second or third class compartments on the railways.
That is the position of the railways. It is due to the fact that there is no effective control. The directors of the railway companies are not concerned with the giving of good services. They are concerned with looking after profits and seeing that they are maintained, and so badly do they do that that the poor shareholders have very poor prospects indeed. We know the position. It is not a case of knowledge gained from a life service on the railways or of understanding the position from top to bottom. A figure head from another place is usually chosen, or a lawyer who can plead the case in this House. These people have been mutually appointed. They mutually appoint one another to directorships. Many hon. Members in this House hold these directorships by the dozen and by the score. I say that proper attention cannot be given by them. We should not tolerate the position in any public service. We have clever and able managers eating out their hearts in order to do the right thing, but the directors say "Oh, we cannot raise the money." That is the position. They cannot raise the money because the investing public will not invest money in railways to day unless the railways are subsidised by a guarantee loan, and by a guarantee that it shall be interest free for a number of years. Three-quarters of the local rates of the railway companies are being cut down so that they can reduce their costs and all the time we find that more and more traffic is being diverted to the roads both for passenger and goods purposes.
I notice that there is an Amendment on the Order Paper. I am going to summarise it in the old way of laissez faire. Let things be. Let these things work themselves out. We have seen the result of that in London's traffic, where we had the companies in the position that although they did their best to compete and improve their services the only way they could do so was by ruining themselves and starving out the smaller people—seeing which could be the biggest lion in the jungle. I know something of the cost of that. When, with the assistance of friends, a little man home from the War put an omnibus on the road the Combine put two or three of their most ruthless drivers to hound that man and his mate to death. Many accidents were caused by it. There were always convenient witnesses in the small man's omnibus to say that it was his fault. It would take quite a decent cemetery to hold the people who were slaughtered when they were driving the private omnibuses out of competition. That is what we shall see in this country when the railways fight road transport. We have given the railways road transport facilities. They can develop. I want the House to realise that we cannot afford that position. If the railways are going to compete on the road with road services they are going to neglect their own railways and allow them to fall into decay. Can we afford to allow the railways to fall into decay? There are a great many of our industries which can only be served by railway traffic—coal, iron and steel and heavy goods and so on. Just in proportion as the traffic is diverted from the railways to the roads so will the railways by their competition kill their traffic on the line in regard to the more profitable class of traffic which they carry, and on the other hand, they will kill the very industries which they should be there to serve. That is the position in which we find ourselves.
We know that we are far behind other countries in these railway questions. We have to compete with a reconstructed Germany whose railway fares and whose freights are infinitely lower than our own, and whose railway services are better and safer. The railway companies in this country under the present management, even unified into four groups, find themselves unable to deal with the situation. There is a great deal to be done. We have seen the same position arise in other countries. In Canada they had a great group of companies in such an impossible position owing to private management and ownership that, although they have been bolstered up by loans to pay running charges for many years, they had to come to the position of saying they could run no longer. The Federal Parliament of Canada then decided to take over these lines. They took from us an officer, Sir Henry Thornton, who was willing to do good work for this country, and who, if given a chance here, would have been capable of handling this great question, to take control over there. Compare the position of those railways to-day in Canada with what they were.
In the whole of the British Empire we find that there are 108,523 miles of railways, and that only 26,355 miles—less than a quarter—are privately owned because our brothers and our cousins in the Dominions are wiser statesmen. In India and in the Crown Colonies they have realised that they dare not leave the essential feature of transport to private enterprise, and for the sake of the development of their countries and the services of their people they have undertaken railways as great State enterprises. We have seen the result. The railways there are more up-to-date. Even in this evening's paper I see that a State railway line from Bombay has just opened 109 miles of electrified railway. Think of the position as far as London traffic and that of other great centres is concerned if we could electrify our railways!
We dare not allow the competition to go on on the main roads of the country. If we allow it to develop much longer it will mean that the isolated transport companies dealing with goods traffic owning 10, 15, or 20 lorries will be linked together, with proper receiving and dispatching offices up and down the country running regular services along the roads in a way that it will be impossible for the railways to compete with them. If the railways endeavour to compete on the roads our roads will become increasingly dangerous. The cost of the wear and tear of the roads will be greater still. We dare not face that position. Laissez faire is not good enough. If we allow this thing to develop, it will mean that great vested interests will grow up again which will be more difficult to handle. In the past we have seen the position of the vested interests in this country, right away through, before the War, from the time when Mr. Gladstone, in 1844, brought in the Railway Bill which is now an Act of Parliament giving powers to the Government to take over railways from private ownership. He had to modify his terms on account of the great railway interests which were represented. This has been the position right away through. Railway interests have corrupted this House in years gone by. In connection with road transport we are glad to recognise the need for rationalisation, as it is called, which means the unification of our great services. We have recognised that in other respects rationalisation means unification. It means that either the nation must own the monopolies or the monopolies will own the nation.
There is no new principle in this. Twenty-five years ago the Port of London was falling into decay—ill-equipped, badly managed, one dock competing against the other. The docks were silting up. We were concerned about London until one of the greatest achievements, perhaps, of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, who brought forward a scheme for the unification of the Port of London under the Port of London Authority, which now conducts this work for the service and trade of the people and not for the profit of individuals. To-day we can feel proud of London; as a port, the leading port of the country. While we may not be satisfied with all the conditions of the workers, I think that no one can say that the achievements since those days have not been wonderful so far as the Port of London is concerned.
Thirty years ago the water supply of London was in a deplorable condition under private companies. The position in regard to the health of the people became alarming. In many districts the water was only turned on for one hour a day during a drought. In some of the tenement houses in Inner London there were seven or eight families in an eight or nine-roomed house depending upon one water tap one hour a day, and water was stored under the beds. We were told that we must finance a great company to bring water from Wales. Again the Government had to step in and unify the water supply of London and put it in the hands of a public authority. The popu- lation of Greater London served by the Metropolitan Water Board has probably doubled since that time, and yet through the remarkable drought of this summer we had not to go short of water except for our golf courses and lawns.
With telephones it was the same. Telephones were run by a private company. Their whole system was obsolete. Although at an earlier date the Post Office had been compelled by Parliament to put its telegraph wires underground the telephone company had covered London with wires and posts which had fallen into decay and become a menace to the people. Again, when that system was neglected, and it was impossible to keep up-to-date, Parliament had to step in and take over the telephones and had to bear the cost of fitting wires underground. We know by experience as far as our railway companies are concerned that competition is absolutely unnecessary. We dare not allow the road transport to grow up throughout the country, as far as both passengers and goods are concerned, in the chaotic way in which it developed in London after the War. The only solution to that in my opinion and in the honest opinion of some of our right hon. Friends in the Liberal party—the only sound economic solution in the minds of any of us here, I am convinced is the one which I propose here to-night and the one which is contained in the manifesto of the Labour party called "Labour and the Nation," which says:
The Labour Government would undertake the task of transferring the railways to public ownership and control and would encourage the extension of municipal transport enterprises working in co-ordination with the road system. Similarly it would take all possible steps to co-ordinate railway and road transport for the more efficient and economic distribution of industry.
That is the position, then, upon which we shall vote to-night. Our Government has done its best in foreign affairs; in that respect it stands out, I think, in comparison far ahead of any other Government which we have had in our day and generation, either previously to the War or since. The Government has done its best, and has promised to do still more, in the development of social services, much of which is equivalent simply to putting plasters on sores; but I think we in this Parliament have a mandate to do the work which has been so neglected by Parliament ever since the War—to do some great work of economic reconstruction which will put trade and industry on their feet again, and which will give a prospect of employment at decent wages and hours to the men engaged in the railway industry and other industries with which the railways are so intimately concerned.
I beg to second the Motion.
I feel happy to associate myself with the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Broad) who has just spoken, in opening the discussion on such an important question. The question of the nationalisation of railways is by no means a new subject, and I can easily contemplate that we are likely to receive to-night the same amount of objection that we have received in the past to the policy of nationalisation. I approach the subject with a good deal of hesitancy, because of its great character, and because of the immensity of the case. Much could be said upon it, but one has to confine oneself to reasonable limits in dealing with the question.
The Motion refers to nationalisation of the railways and of long-distance motor traffic. The Motion almost explains itself in the relation between railway traffic and long-distance motor traffic. I have, for the moment, a special regard to the question as it affects the railways. To me, it is highly important, because no one can deny that the railway system of this country has grown to enormous dimensions and is an industry which has a very great effect upon the community in providing both for the transport of goods and for the transport of passengers. It has become a public necessity; it has become so great a necessity that we cannot conceive that there is any possibility that the railway system in this country should some day be disbanded. It is part of our daily life. It is an industry which has absorbed millions of money, and is an industry which gives employment to many hundreds of thousands of excellent citizens of the country, men who can be regarded as of the best type of public servants, comparing them with public servants in all phases of our national life. They give good service, and, as such, can be regarded as men deserving of consideration, in conjunction with the national railway system as a whole.
That pre-supposes something else. If the national railway system has become a necessity, it must be regarded as being practically a national property. It is a national property in the sense that the railway companies could not have existed without having obtained from this House various substantial powers which gave the property owners and the railways an acquisition of considerable importance, which in its turn involves a demand by the community from the railway companies of a recognition of the fact that, having obtained such powers, the railway companies must regard themselves as being nationally responsible. If I am right in that, the next step is easily taken. Public responsibility of the railways and railway companies should take into account the necessities of the community in every respect. The first policy of a railway company, however, is not so much a question of public service as it is a question of shareholders' dividends, and in the conflict between those two factors we find ourselves in very difficult circumstances.
Competition between railway companies has been responsible for a very large amount of waste, both of the money of shareholders and of public money, and certainly in regard to the railway staff itself. But this competition between railways and railway companies has already been condemned. In the Report of the Select Committee on Transport in 1918 it was stated that there should be a single ownership and a single management of all the main railway systems. That was the unanimous Report of a body representative of all parties. But in 1921 the Government of the day was able to get through a Bill which set up four railway trusts. All these railway trusts are competing and overlapping at various points at the present time. The Bill of 1921 was severely criticised from the Labour Benches because it was regarded as a compromise between rival interests; it did not make an attempt to bring the railway systems into real relation with national life and national problems. This criticism has surely been justified by subsequent events. The problem which faced this House in 1921 still remains to be solved; and, whatever beneficial results that Act of 1921 may have had in some directions, the simple fact remains that conditions on the railways have become steadily worse, and new factors have come into the case—for example, the intensification of road competition—which give us a problem of greater magnitude than ever.
The railways still require action to be taken to put them into a healthy position, but I am not encouraged to believe that we are going to have any initiative from the railway companies themselves. Sir Josiah Stamp, in his presidential address to railway students of the London School of Economics, at their annual meeting of 1927–8, gave an imposing list of well-known economies and other advantages to be gained by amalgamation. Incidentally, I believe I am right in saying that the London, Midland and Scottish Railway saved about £8,000,000 per annum through the 1921 amalgamation. I have no doubt that those economies were effected partly at the expense of the railway workers, and I have no doubt that they were effected at the expense of the public in general. But, dealing with the problem as it exists in the United States, Sir Josiah Stamp said that there, as also here, the railway authorities themselves oppose suggestions of compulsory amalgamation such as would be secured by national ownership. Their argument was that "they prefer to follow the line of least resistance and amalgamate along their own lines and according to their own interests for some time to come." But in the United States, as has been our experience here, private enterprise is far too slow in bringing about readjustments to changed conditions and changed public needs. Leaving private enterprise to reorganise industry and transport simply means, in effect, that all the interests engage in a struggle to protect the personal privileges and prospects of directors and shareholders. The strong competitors stand out in the confident anticipation of driving a still harder bargain with the weak ones, and the public interest in these big movements is apt to be forgotten. Indeed, I should like to put it more strongly than that; it is forgotten.
In 1921 the State had to step in to secure a half-measure of reform. That work, then only half done, remains to be completed. Now it requires to be taken into consideration with that new factor, which I have mentioned, of road competition. If we expect directors of railway companies to give us much hope that the existing competition between the four companies will bring about the necessary reform—I leave it to other speakers, who will, I hope, follow me, to give examples of many difficulties in that respect—I think we are going to be disappointed. For reasons which I have already stated, it is not in the interests of directors to promote amalgamations where it is possible otherwise to maintain a service satisfactory to their shareholders. I am, however, reminded that amalgamations are very frequently forced upon weak competitors, and you have trusts set up, the result of which is reflected in increased prices, and so on. But, if we were going to rely upon the directors, I should be very much discouraged by what has been said by a very prominent gentleman, who, I am willing frankly to admit, is entitled to speak with some authority on this question. Railway directors are only part-timers; they have other interests; and, because they are able to direct their attention to all those other interests, I have a very great respect for those directors.
How some of the directors of railway companies can manage to have 21 directorships, as in one case, or 18 directorships, as in another case, I simply cannot understand; but, being a simple person, I can only take the figures as they come to me, and I find that 23 directors of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company hold among them at least 181 directorships. Hon. Members opposite, who may themselves be directors, may be able to explain how it is done. Frankly, I cannot understand. I cannot believe that it is possible for really effective public work to be done by directors in that way. As I said, I am willing to accept the authority of a prominent gentleman, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. He, speaking in Glasgow, on the 22nd November, 1928, said:
Since the days when private industry gave place to the joint stock company, there have battened on the joint stock companies large numbers of men connected with management, and directors, who are parasitical to industry, and nothing but parasitical.
I am quite willing to leave that statement with the House, and to let it soak
right in, because I cannot add to such an expression. Railway losses are large. Between 1923 and 1928 they have lost heavily to road passenger transport services in respect of their short-distance traffic. The estimated passenger revenue of the railways in 1928 was £10,000,000 less than in 1923, or 14 per cent. less. The railways are now endeavouring to meet this competition by agreement with the principal omnibus companies. In 1928, however, the number of passengers carried by the railways was over 100,000,000 more than in any pre-War year. The House can see, therefore, that there is a connection between the railways and road transport which is a matter of prime public importance, and that relation ought, if possible, to be brought more closely together for examination, as is suggested in the Motion.
The serious competition for goods traffic is having its effect upon the railway companies. Indeed, while the whole goods traffic depends very largely, almost entirely, upon the general state of trade, the simple fact has to be admitted that by depression and the competition of road transport the railways have been hit in a double way. The House will know that since 1914 there has been an enormous increase in road transport. In 1919, there were only 38,000 commercial goods vehicles licensed. During the five years, from 1922 to 1927, the number of licences for commercial goods vehicles increased by nearly 80 per cent.—from 159,000 in November, 1922, to 283,000 in November, 1927. The estimated number licensed in 1929 is 300,000. It has, further, been estimated by an eminent man that 50,000 motor vehicles are now doing work which 10 years ago was done by the railways. The railways are endeavouring to cope with the competition of the omnibus services on short-distance traffic routes, but as yet they have done little or nothing to deal with the question of goods transport.
The problem, to us, is one of serious importance. We have to take into account the fact that with the increasing motor transport service vested interests are growing up which have to be met sooner or later in the endeavour to find some sort of understanding, agreement or co-ordination between railways and motor transport dealing with a limited amount of traffic. The problem is not only that there are large and small motor haulage companies competing with the railways on long-distance transport, but also that many large private firms have organised their own road haulage and delivery fleets. It is obvious that railways and motor transport must be coordinated, each concentrating upon the types of traffic best suitable to the service, in which it can show a natural superiority. For instance, motor transport cannot equal the railways in fast long-distance traffic. If nationalisation is not introduced, we are likely to get more trouble in the future than in the past.
There is one point of view which may be expressed that I should like to mention. I have been interested in a statement made in this House on the 24th April, 1928, by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. He said:
We have seen in late years road transport increasingly taking many forms of traffic from the railways. If the road vehicles, which carry these forms of traffic, inflict far more injury on the roads than they pay for, the competition ceases to be fair, and an injury is done to the community at large. It is the duty of the State to hold the balance even between road and rail, and to let the best form of transport win on its merits.
I cannot subscribe to that view. I should regard it as a national calamity if the great bulk of our transport were transferred from the railways to the road. The railways would be ruined and also the men connected with them, and the roads would be so congested that life would not be tolerable. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that:
It would not be in the public interest—and this is one of the foundations of my argument—to spend in the next few years several hundreds of millions of additional money upon the roads, apart from the present grants upon the roads, if the result were to render artificially and prematurely obsolete the splendid British railway systems, which represent a thousand million pounds of national capital, and afford employment to 700,000 men. We need both road and rail communications, and it is the task of Parliament to regulate the relations between them in the true proportion, having regard to their competing interests, into harmony with the general interest."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th April, 1928; col. 856, Vol. 216.]
The policy of balancing one private interest against another is not the right
way to serve the public. We think that it could be better achieved by the method that we propose to the House. When I come to the question of the cost of motor transport, am I not right in saying that the cheapness of road transport is usually estimated without reference to total cost? When I say "total cost," I mean including the upkeep of roads, which does not reflect itself in motor transport fares. Much of the cost falls upon the ratepayers and the taxpayers in the construction and maintenance of roads and the lighting and additional policing of roads. Apart from the damage done to the roads by heavy and fast motor traffic, there is also the cost of reconstructing roads or widening them, rebuilding bridges, and so on. When road transport takes traffic from the railways, there is a double burden upon the whole community, first by increasing the cost of road repair, and, second, by increasing the cost of goods and passenger traffic which must go by railway, and for which the railways must exact the necessary toll. In that way, unfortunately, our basic heavy industries, coal, iron, steel and so on, suffer. This cannot go on.
There seems to us to be no reason why we cannot now face up to what has been calling for attention for many years past and see whether we cannot establish an understanding on a recognised policy of nationalisation of the railways and nationalisation of road transport. There are some advantages which would accrue that might be pointed out, but I will not place them too highly at the moment, because I appreciate the fact that we are dealing with a very important industry. So far as it serves the purpose, let me instance this point, that if we had the railways State-owned and controlled there would be far better and more effective economies and better public services accruing if we took into account the possibilities of co-ordination between the railways and the Post Office in many respects.
There are thousands, tens of thousands, of Post Office employés on part-time jobs at starvation rates of pay, there are thousands of railway men in small jobs at small rates of pay, which cannot be regarded as giving them anything like the necessary standard of living. There may be possibilities—in fact I am sure there are—of co-ordinating certain services between the Post Office and railways which would find whole-time employment for many men who are now below the starvation level. In Germany, they have about 7,000 motor vehicles which carry passengers as well as mails. In 1926, over 36,000,000 passengers were carried, and these services are commercially profitable. In this country—and let the House understand this—State-owned services are entering into competition with railways and other forms of motor transport, and I should like to see the State repeat its success in other directions in competition with institutions which are not doing as well as they ought to do. The British Post Office has at least over 2,000 motor vehicles for mail work. They take the mail work from the railway systems, and, if this increases, the condition of the railways will be very parlous indeed. They have, in addition, 1,500 cars or vehicles; in fact, the Post Office has the second largest fleet in the country. Prior to the grant of road transport costs, this is how the railways worked out. They have 3,421 motor lorries and 31,700 horse drawn vehicles. I wonder whether the railway companies have woke up to the fact that that sort of system and service is bad for themselves as well as for the public.
My submission to the House is that we cannot afford to have a derelict and starving railway system. We cannot afford to have a too highly developed road service; life would be unbearable. Transport generally, railways, roads, canals, rivers—all are important, and airways must be taken into account, and co-ordination therefore is becoming increasingly necessary. How is this going to be done? I do not profess to be able to give the House a scheme to-night as to how these things can be done, but what I press for is that every consideration shall be given to the actual difficulties which face us, to the problem before us, and not wake up to the facts before it is too late. If the Government are called in to hold and control a nationalised service, let it not be said from the other side that it means the introduction of any number of civil servants who will have nothing to do. That is not our proposition. Most people understand that that is not how the Civil Service is carried on. It is not how a civil servant works.
Most people understand that is not how a nationalised industry is carried on.
In this connection, there are three suggestions as to how railways can be controlled and transport services can be taken in hand. First, by a Government Department, secondly, by an administrative council responsible to the Government, and representing the various interests, staff, public industry and so on, and, thirdly, leasing properties to a private company as the late Government did in leasing the beam service to the Imperial International Communications Company. If I might suggest something it would be this, that whenever anything of this nature is set up, care should be exercised to see that these services are not used, first, as a means of taxation, secondly, that they should not be used as a means of subsidising other interests, thirdly, that everything should be done to avoid a too rigid Treasury control, fourthly, that they should permit the formation of reserves for capital expenditure and development, and, fifthly, that there should be given to the staff, railway and transport staff, a real measure of staff consultation in all matters concerning the services.
Finally, I suggest to the House that the railway could without practical difficulty be transferred to public ownership. Many tramways and omnibus services are already owned and operated by local authorities. Motor road transport, commercial and passenger traffic, are not sufficiently developed to be merged into a single service, but the Minister of Transport should be concerned with the extensions of public enterprise there and a co-ordination of these various transport services in order that each may occupy its proper place in the national system. Shareholders have a right to the value of their shares subject to a fair assessment. I do not propose to rob shareholders, although it is possible a good many deserve it, but that is by the way. I commend the Motion to the House in the hope that in the discussion which will follow we shall have some indication from the Opposition that they are with us in regard to the need there is for urgent attention being given to this important question.
It is not very often, during the last four or five years, owing to circumstances over which I have had little control, that I have trespassed upon the time of the House, and I admit that I rise with a feeling almost akin to that trepidation which I first felt in 1922. Everyone will be grateful to the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Broad) for having put down this extremely important Motion as the result of his luck in the ballot. It does not surprise me that he should have chosen to deal with the question of transport, because he and I have been associated in the past with some efforts to secure some improvement in London traffic facilities. I am glad it has fallen to the lot of the present Minister of Transport, with the assistance of the Lord Privy Seal, to sanction the tube from Finsbury Park, which the hon. Member and I have so long urged. To my mind the speech of the Mover dealt almost entirely with one aspect, and that a minor aspect, of the Motion. His speech was confined to a criticism of the railways as they exist at present. He maintained that the railways had stood still for the past 40 years, a dictum with which the Lord Privy Seal and the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Bromley) will scarcely agree. He made charges which he would have difficulty in substantiating outside these walls against the newspapers of the country. He accused them of wholesale corruption.
I do not want to misrepresent the hon. Member for a moment, but it amounts to the same thing. He made charges of idleness and inefficiency against directors, and having done with the railways he proceeded to attack what we know as the London traffic combine and made statements, which I regret, as to their action in connection with what we know as pirate omnibuses. In effect he said that these vehicles were driven off the streets, that accidents were practically engineered, and witnesses put into convenient positions, a charge which almost amounts to murder. It is not my place to pursue that matter further, because it is outside the scope of the Motion, but I ask the hon. Member what is going to happen under the scheme of nationalisation to the small man, with whom we have all the greatest sympathy? Are these ex-service men to be allowed to run their omnibuses against the nationalised service? [HON, MEMBERS: "No!"] I did not think so. The hon. Member went on to speak of transport in Canada and he explained to us that—largely owing to a very efficient gentleman who had worked under private enterprise in this country—the State railways in Canada were in a sound position and he left the impression in my mind that it was only the State-owned railways in Canada which had been a success. But I think every Member within these walls must have heard of that great corporation, the Canadian Pacific Railway, one of the greatest monuments to successful private enterprise and development in the history of the British Empire.
The seconder of the Motion made a speech which was full of interesting facts and figures. The hon. Member is, I believe, new to the House although this is not his maiden speech, and I am certain that we shall listen to his contributions with interest on other occasions. It seemed to me that he devoted himself to precisely the same aspect of the case as that which had been so ably, I may say so exhaustively, dealt with by the Mover. The burden of his song was that the railways were inefficient and that the public interest was forgotten in their direction and management. He also explained to us very lucidly, supported by most interesting figures, some of the difficulties in which the railways have become involved during the past few years in connection with road transport competition. Does he really believe that all these difficulties, genuine and admitted as they are, are necessarily inherent in the system of private enterprise? Does he not think that road competition would have come in any case? That some of the difficulties which the railways have experienced, for instance in connection with short distance passenger transport, are due to the normal course of evolution and are difficulties which would have had to be faced in any case and which, indeed, are being successfully faced, under the present system?
The hon. Member made one other observation to which I would direct attention. He referred to the number of part-time railway employés and Post Office officials whose duties might be amalga- mated. Does he suggest that under a scheme of nationalisation there would be considerable dismissals of those employés? It is impossible to have it both ways. You cannot create a number of whole-time jobs out of a larger number of half-time jobs without getting rid of the surplus labour. I agree with him that nobody in this House wishes to see in this country a derelict or starving railway system. I do not think that those of us who have the opportunity of travelling up and down the country every week-end on those nice free railway passes—I have not one myself, because I represent a London constituency—would like to admit that the standard of speed, comfort, safety, refreshment and courtesy indicates in any way a derelict or starving system. I cannot help thinking that the hon. Member will have some trouble with the Lord Privy Seal when that very overworked Minister has time to read the OFFICIAL REPORT. The Seconder of the Motion also suggested that not only the railways and long distance transport, but also air transport might be nationalised. Does he intend to include coastwise shipping as well? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I only want to know, because if you embark on a scheme of this kind you will find it hard to draw the line. It will be interesting to know from the Minister of Transport if it is seriously proposed to carry out that part of the programme which is printed on page 28 of "Labour and the Nation," with regard to the nationalisation of the transport system.
I hope that the criticisms or comments which I have tried to make on the speeches of the Mover and Seconder are perfectly fair and I turn for a moment to the question which really ought to have been discussed during the past hour and a quarter and that is the solution which this Motion advocates. We have been told nothing as to how nationalisation is to be brought about. I was going to ask whether railway shareholders were to be compensated, but I understand from one of the closing sentences of the Seconder that they are. That at once raises the question of how that money is going to be raised. If this capital is to be provided by the taxpayer, the only way in which the State can derive immediate benefit from an operation of this kind is if they are able to substitute at once a very much more efficient management. That, I think, with all respect to the Civil Service, they would find it difficult to do. But for whose benefit is nationalisation, if it can be put into operation, to take place? Is it to benefit the State revenues? Is it for the benefit of the users of the railways or for the benefit of the employés? It will be admitted that any step of this kind must of necessity be somewhat of a leap in the dark. We are bound to depend for our information on precedent. If it is a question of benefiting the State revenue, I should like to instance the position of the Government-owned railways in Australia which in the eight years, 1918 to 1926, did not benefit the State revenues, but cost them £16,500,000; and also the Canadian National Railway which, after it was taken over by the Government, had a slightly increased deficit. One could go on for a long time with these statistics.
If the hon. Member says so, I am sure it is correct. I was, as a matter of fact, referring to the increased deficit in 1927 over 1926, and I am very glad to hear that it has done better in 1928. As far as the user is concerned, may I instance the case of the Belgian railways? They were State-owned for many years, and in 1914, after some 60 or 70 years, the users of the railways, the industries of Belgium, made a united protest against their inefficiency. Eventually that protest was successful, and in 1926 the railways were handed back to a private corporation. The interesting part of that is that there is a Socialist Government in Belgium, and that this project of handing back the State-owned railways commended itself so much to this particular brand of Socialists that it went through the Chamber by 96 votes to 2, and it went through the Senate unopposed.
They call themselves Socialists, at any rate. Finally, there is the question of whether it is well to nationalise the railways for the benefit of the employês. It was, I think, the Seconder of the Motion who said he hoped that under nationalisation the railwaymen would get decent wages and hours. Is the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. Bromley) prepared to get up, when he speaks, as we all hope he will, to tell this House that compared with the general standard of living which is possible in industry to-day the railway-men are not getting at any rate as good conditions as any other people in this country? I am certain that the railwaymen are the last people in this country who want to wring, by political pressure, out of the general revenues of the country a greater share of the total national wealth at the expense of people in other trades. I maintain that the Lord Privy Seal and the hon. Member for Barrow and their colleagues have done extremely well for the railwaymen. Indeed, if the Lord Privy Seal is able to do as well for the nation in curing unemployment as he has done for the railwaymen, we shall all be very grateful to him.
If it is a fact, as I have tried to show, that the experience of other countries proves nationalisation of railways to be of no definite benefit, either as regards earning power or efficiency, surely the question of nationalising road transport is very much more difficult and less likely to succeed. The railways at any rate are a comparatively stable industry. They run upon lines which cannot be laid down and picked up at any minute, but road transport is an industry which is spreading all over the country here and there, and its development is very rapid. I do not believe that if this Motion were passed to-night the Government Front Bench would regard it as a mandate to nationalise the railways at once. I believe there are too many people on that Front Bench who are sensible of the difficulties which arise in this direction. Nevertheless, we ought to regard this Motion as a dangerous one, and I, for one, shall vote against it.
This Motion raises, as obviously it is meant to raise, the whole controversy of Socialism and anti-Socialism, and I wish to say at once, to make my own position and that of those who sit on these benches clear, that we regard the whole of that issue as barren and sterile. The world moves along at a pretty smart pace, and we are already far removed from the mid-Victorian ideas of laisser faire, and we are even further removed from the early Victorian ideas of a stale and stagnant Socialism. The future lies indeed with a progressive harmonisation of the two conceptions, by no means inconsistent, of individual liberty and the general good; and these proposals, like all proposals which raise this controversy, have to be regarded not in the light of theoretical preconceptions but in the critical light of commonsense, by facing the realities and the facts that confront us.
I say at once that with that part of the Motion which deals with co-ordination of transport we, on these benches, feel a very considerable sympathy. Indeed, the machinery for co-ordination is already largely available. It is not very long since that powers were obtained by the railway companies to acquire road transport rights, but that does not mean that we, on these benches, would be prepared to support the contention that the smaller, struggling, and very largely new and competitive road transport schemes should be brought into one scheme of coordination with the railways, worked under one authority. Whether or not there should be one authority is not a question of principle at all; it is merely a matter of expediency. But tacked on to this Motion is what is neither more nor less than a full-blooded demand for nationalisation both of roads and transport. The Socialist party seem constitutionally unable to get rid of these vicious economics. When they are "cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd" by the party Whips, they give a fictitious appearance of leading a new economic life, but the moment the Whips are taken off on a Private Members' night like this they break out again as violently as ever. They have not really signed the pledge against Socialism; they have only promised not to indulge in it too much in public.
This Motion has all the worst characteristics of nationalisation as preached by the Socialists. In the first place, it comes from a hopelessly prejudiced source, and when I say that, the hon. Members who moved and seconded this Motion will acquit me of any intention of making a personal attack upon them, because this Motion emanates from—
The hon. Member opposite seems to have more information as to its source than I have. I was not going to suggest that its source was further away than Euston Road. It is taken almost word for word from the proposals placed before the Royal Commission on Transport by the Railway Clerks Association, which are set out with some particularity by the Royal Commission on Transport in their recent Second Report. I say that the Railway Clerks Association are a prejudiced source. The roads to them are formidable rivals. They look upon their expansion with all the self-interested horror with which the drivers of the stage coach in generations gone by perceived the pace at which the railway lines crept faster and faster throughout the country.
This Motion shows that the railway clerks have conceived an artful way of combating the menace which they fear. They propose that the railways shall swallow up the roads by Act of Parliament. That is what nationalisation of railways and transport would actually mean. Virtually, the railways would control the roads; indeed, there is no disguise about it, for the Railway Clerks Association in the proposal which they have put forward lay it down, in the words of the Report of the Royal Commission on Transport, that
the national road transport system would become ancillary to the railway system.
9.0 p.m. would become, in other words, subservient to it; might indeed even be for bidden the way to progressive development. I might reasonably ask hon. Members sitting opposite how otherwise it was to be expected that road transport would be dealt with by the railways.
The railway unions are very highly organised. They have probably a greater influence in this House than even the miners, and there is probably not an hon. Member who sits upon the benches opposite who does not owe his return to the activities of the Railwaymen's Union. We who sit on these benches realise some- thing of the political power of the railway interests, for we saw at the last election the ferocity with which our road development proposals were attacked by candidates from the Socialist party in the great railway centres. The direct pressure which railwaymen can exercise in this House is very great. The road interests, unrelated and loosely organised, will soon toe crushed by them. A Bill to put railways and roads under one State control would be a Bill to hand over the roads to the railways, and that would be disastrous to industrial development and still more to the agricultural development of this land. Traffic is inevitably being diverted from the railway to the road, but the Lord Privy Seal is trying to blanket road development. He is trying to build a sea wall against a tidal wave. Industry cannot, still less can agriculture, be kept to the straight steel lines of the railroads; they have the whole surface of the countryside in which to manoeuvre. I am not suggesting for a moment that there is merely a black future for the railways. There is, I think, a Bright future for them, but it must be in friendly cooperation, not in malicious competition, with the roads. The railways can be made to feed the roads, and the roads can be made to feed the railways, and any plan which seeks to give the railways more than their fair share will merely restrict the supply available for either. Indeed, the whole proposal exhibits the very worst features of industry run by politicians. At the same time, it is not possible merely to face Socialism with anti-Socialism. Conservative thought is as far removed from industrial realities to-day as Socialist thought. What is the good of lauding private enterprise in railway development? To give lip service to private enterprise in railway development at this time of day is to give lip service to something which no longer, in the true sense of the term, exists. What we need is not a blank opposition to Socialism, but a constructive alternative to Socialism. It is that alternative which the Liberal party presents. I agree with the hon. Gentlemen who moved and seconded this Motion that monopolies must be restricted. Monopolies were restricted in regard to railways by no other than the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was the head, by means of the Railway Act of 1921, and rates, charges and profits are all controlled by the Railway Bates Tribunal. We agree wholeheartedly with those who sit opposite that monopolies must be subject to a measure of control, but to say that that involves nationalisation and State ownership, control and management, is merely a non sequitur.
The amount of loose thought upon this subject was shown by nothing more clearly than by the speeches which have been made this evening on the opposite side of the House. I listened with attention to these speeches, in which, after criticising, with a good deal of justice in some respects, the position under private enterprise of these great monopolies, hon. Members proceeded to illustrate the alternative which they thought proper. I was interested to observe that the Mover of this Motion referred to the Port of London Authority, the Metropolitan Water Board, the Post Office and the telephones, all in the same breath, as instances of nationalisation in contrast with private enterprise. The hon. Gentleman seems to be entirely unaware of the fact that neither the water supply of London nor the Port of London Authority is a nationalised service at all. They both stand on an entirely different footing from the Post Office, which is in truth a State service. The Port of London Authority and the Metropolitan Water Board are public services conducted by ad hoc bodies created for the purpose—by public concerns, to use the phrase coined for the purposes of the Liberal "Yellow Book." They are public concerns, and I believe that the right line of evolution for industries, especially monopoly interests such as railways, is in the direction of public concerns.
Let me illustrate what I mean when I refer to the confusion of thought on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite in speaking of these public concerns and truly nationalised services in the same breath. The nationalised service, let us say the railways in Australia, involves State ownership, State control and State management, with the result that the administration is at every point and in every controversy exposed to the full pressure of the politicians. The real problem which has been solved by the creation of the public concerns the Port of London Authority and the Metropolitan Water Board, though not perhaps completely or perfectly solved, has been the divorce of management from the influence of the politicians, to put the public in some form or another in the position of owners, in the place, if you will, of shareholders who have no more rights than shareholders in any other great enterprise, but the right to appoint directors and to remove directors; in that way creating a situation in which business management will be completely divorced from political influence.
That is the general line which the Liberal party advocates in reference to great enterprises such as railways; but I wish to enter this caveat. It is not so very long since the existing four or five railway groups swallowed up a vast number of smaller enterprises, and it may very well be that some little time should be allowed to elapse before taking the next step, in order to give the existing railway systems time to digest the smaller companies which they have so recently absorbed—I do not know; I just enter that caveat. It is along the lines of a public concern, along the lines of some such organisation as the Port of London Authority or the Metropolitan Water Board, that we believe the railways and similar great services might in the end be controlled and managed. Let me add that it is vital in connection with all enterprises of that character that, in contrast with the practice in the past, directors should be appointed not because they represent "interests" but on account of their technical qualifications. Hon. Members opposite and Members of the Conservative party may say that we Liberals want the best of both worlds, that we believe in private enterprise and believe in public control. We do want the best of both worlds, and we see the way to secure it for the people of the country. We want a combination of those two admirable forces, private enterprise and public control, and we believe we can secure it by carrying out the conception which I have outlined this evening. We want to do for private enterprise and for nationalising and socialising enterprises what was done to Sennacherib's army, we want in the one case to put a hook in its nose, and in the other a bridle in its lips.
I speak for the first time in the House on this particular topic for two reasons, first, because it does give an opportunity of saying something about the general superiority of public control over private enterprise in dealing with concerns of national importance. Most of the arguments in that direction could have been used with advantage several years ago, but there is a new argument for the nationalisation not so much of railways as of all forms of transport, because, although I am an enthusiastic Socialist, I would not raise a finger or give a vote for the nationalisation of railways if other methods of transport were left out of account. That would be quite as foolish as for a municipality to buy up tramways which were ready to be scrapped and then allow their competitors to put new omnibuses on with the money thus obtained. I believe that transport in this country is now one and indivisible. Arguments have been given from time to time as to the advantage of nationalised railways. Last year, for example, the Noble Lord, the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) admitted that what were really enormous profits were made on the nationalised railways of India. I believe the figure was £8,205,000, of which nearly £5,000,000 went to the relief of the taxpayers in that country. I also note in the OFFICIAL REPORT a speech which was made by the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Johnston) on the advantages of State railways in Australia, the profits that were made by the railways in Nigeria, and the profits made by railways in Canada—in the last-named case after private enterprise, so-called, had failed to run that particular service successfully from the standpoint either of the users or of the State. But those arguments are only useful to us to-day to prove that it is possible to run a nationalised industry without necessarily making a mess of it. For the last three years I have been chairman of one of the most important municipal transport undertakings in this country, and one of the most successful, and I am aware of the difficulties which all these publicly owned concerns have to meet owing to irresponsible competition, and for that reason I put it that the time has come when, if we are to get the best out of our railways and tramways, and our transport system generally, they must be placed under public ownership.
We have had an interesting speech from the Liberal Benches, interesting because it showed the incoherent ideas, if one can dignify them by the name of ideas, which are prevalent on those benches. The hon. Member said his party believed in disinterested management. I thought "disinterested management" was a phrase applied to the liquor trade, and that the object there was to run that trade so that it could not possibly make a profit and nobody would be interested in carrying it on. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that the phrase would be applied to an undertaking which we could hope to expand and to make successful. Then he told us he believed in individual liberty and co-ordination. What does the word "co-ordination" mean as applied to transport at the present time? We have had committee after committee considering the problem of transport. I hold in my hand the most recent Report dealing with the licensing and regulation of public service vehicles. Where does liberty of private ownership come in at all in dealing with transport? Supposing a man wishes to run an omnibus on the road to carry passengers he must have a licence, and the licensing authority practically say to him, "You can have a licence." To another man the same authority may say, "You cannot have a licence," and they give all sorts of reasons. But, once having granted a licence, the person who receives it becomes a monopolist and he has the sole right to run a certain number of omnibuses on a particular route. Sometimes one or two other persons may be given a similar right, but the competition is restricted in such a way as to make what has been spoken of as individual liberty absolute nonsense.
Co-ordination goes further than that, for it means that the issue of licences has been so limited that it confers a monopoly in given areas either to one authority or the other, and they may be either municipal authorities or private individuals. It might mean a railway company allied with private companies or municipalities. When you once get co-ordination of that kind, you are going a long way in the direction of nationalisation. Up to the present moment, every speaker in this Debate has admitted that the railways are a public necessity, although the Mover of this Resolution has said many hard things about the railway companies. I think we all realise, however, that the railways are still an asset, and, although many blunders may have been made in the initial stages of the establishment of railways and the carrying on of the work of the railway companies, we cannot afford to allow the railways to become unremunerative.
What are we doing at the present moment? We vote huge sums of public money for the construction of public roads, to provide facilities for private undertakings to transport their goods in motor vehicles, but they are not responsible for the upkeep of the roads, although they wear out, destroy and congest them, and at the same time they take from the railways the most profitable portion of their freights, with the result that the railways are left to carry coal, iron stone and all sorts of heavy goods, and comparatively speaking cheap articles. No railway company in the world can emerge successfully from competition of that description, more particularly in view of the fact that the people who use those roads are for all practical purposes heavily subsidised by the community. It is true that the railway companies have their rails, but that is not an advantage. On the contrary, the rails form a fixed capital charge upon which interest must be paid, and it is obvious that the smaller the number of vehicles, and the smaller the loads they carry, whether passengers or goods, the greater the capital charge on every load. Consequently, under the present system, while we are building up the capital of the country in one direction, we are destroying it in another, and we cannot afford to do that, because we have to convey goods in the most economical way.
For these reasons, I think every person who has considered the subject, carefully, has come to the conclusion that much more co-ordination is necessary between the various forms of transport. The Royal Commission on this question has reported that it is necessary to eliminate a great deal of the competition between these various services, and that it is necessary to secure practically a monopoly of public transport and use the railways for the goods which they are best adapted to carry, and use the roads for the goods which are more suitable to be carried on the roads. In that way, we should make transport not necessarily an undertaking managed purely from Whitehall, but controlled by a public undertaking. This Resolution excludes local transport, which is managed and controlled municipally. It is well known that local authorities can manage these things much better than private undertakings. In recent years, circumstances have changed, and municipal tramways and privately-owned tramways are now subjected to more unfair competition than the railways. We must have coordination between our local and national services, and, for that reason, we believe that national co-ordination can be best effected and most thoroughly and advantageously carried out by placing the control and ownership of transport facilities in the hands of the State. For these reasons, we regard it as essential that railways and road transport should be nationalised, and we believe that it is absolutely necesary that they should be placed under public control, and vested in the community.
I beg to move, in line 2, to leave out from the word "concern," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words:
proposals to embark upon a scheme of transport nationalisation, considers that the rapid development of long-distance road transport, which is vital to the commercial prosperity of the country, could not have been achieved under any system of State ownership, and, whilst anxious to promote the efficiency of our transport system, declines to anticipate the Report of the Royal Commission.
I think the House will join with me in offering hearty congratulations to the hon. Member who has just made such an excellent speech, and I am sure that we shall be glad to hear him again on a subject to which he has evidently given a great deal of attention. I thank the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Broad) for having moved a resolution which deals with a subject of great interest at the present time. The one point I am sorry about is that if the hon. Member wants to repeat the famous journey in the well known rhyme about John Gilpin, he will not do so under private enterprise, but on a nationalised omnibus which he hopes to introduce at a later time.
If this resolution is carried into effect, it will lead presently to the paralysing of industry, to the lowering of the social conditions of the workers, and eventually to an intense misery for the widows and children of the working classes. While we admit that this process will be slow, we regard it as being; as inevitable as the malignancy of cancer. The first criticism we have to. make of the Motion is its vagueness. What is the meaning of long-distance transport and what is the exact definition of competition? I understand that hon. Gentlemen opposite do not believe in competition, but they do believe in a monopoly as long as it is a State monopoly. Take the question of nationalisation. Are you going to eliminate competition by nationalisation? Suppose that the State owned the railways. Suppose that you were to have nationalisation of the Dutch railways, would that eliminate competition if it led to the nationalisation of all the railways on the Continent? There would still be the intense competition of the Hook of Holland route with the Boulogne route. Would that lead to the nationalisation eventually of all the Continental railways? It is perhaps an easier matter in this country if it is desired to eliminate competition and return to the: primitive conditions when trade was in its infancy, but I am sure it would be a fundamental mistake. Take what. John Stuart Mill said:
Competition in fact has only become in any considerable degree the governing principle of contracts at a comparatively modern period. The further we look back into history, the more we see all transactions and engagements under the influence of fixed customs.
Then take another economist who lived in pre-transport times, namely, Adam; Smith. He said:
The quantity of grocery goods for example which can be sold in a particular town, is limited by the demand of that town" and its neighbourhood. The capital, therefore, which can be employed in the grocery trade cannot exceed what is sufficient to purchase that quantity. If this capital is divided between two different grocers, their competition will tend to make both of them sell cheaper than if it were in the hands of one only; and if it were divided among 20, their competition would be just so much greater and the chance of their joining together in order to raise prices just so much less. Their competition might perhaps ruin some of themselves but to take care of this is the business of the
parties concerned, and it may safely be trusted to their discretion.
Hon. Members wish to eliminate competition by co-operation and co-operative societies, but I am bound to say that presently they will find private enterprise entering into competition with the co-operative society. The whole argument of hon. Members opposite is directed to this question of cooperation. Let us take Karl Marx. He says:
Competition does show on the other hand the following things:
All this is delightfully clear matter, for Socialist Members, and I am not in the least surprised that the intelligentsia on the other side regard it as perfectly clear thinking and suitable for them. On this question of competition there is no person so desirous of eliminating competition as the man who is courting his future wife. There is strong competition among hon. Members opposite, that is between the trade unionists and the intelligentsia, and it is very interesting to find that the intelligentsia have a large proportion of representation in the Government. Every Socialist Member is undergoing competition from somebody in his constituency who expects to take his place from him. Do hon. Members wish, for instance, to take away the competition of ladies vying with each other in the set of their hats? Is this question of doing away with competition humanly possible? We on these benches say that it is not, and that it is not desirable, because it is a human instinct, and that you are trying to do away with something which it is humanly impossible to do
away with, and to set up something which is based on a foundation of insecure props, and a thing which we believe will eventually lead to disaster in the future.
I would ask hon. Members opposite whether a good many revolutions have not been due first of all to absence of competition. When you consider the question of nationalisation and private enterprise you have to remember that there are in this country over 50,000,000 of people employed, compared with 1,000,000 unemployed. Nationalisation has not been tried out so successfully that you are justified in introducing it. Are you not rather like a doctor who has not one patient, but 50,000,000 patients, and who says that he has an elixir of life and is going to inoculate not one patient, but 50,000,000 patients although he has never tried it out?
I will give an example of nationalisation. This House of Commons was built under a system of nationalisation. It was in a very bad state a hundred years ago, and it was not until it was burnt down that anyone set to work to put it right. Now it is one of the worst ventilated and stuffiest of Houses of Parliament that there is; that is the effect of nationalisation stopping all progress. In my constituency, as in many others, there are several railways whose junctions with the amalgamated railways cause a good deal of dissension. There are also many complaints made by the railwaymen about matters which hon. Members opposite understand better than I do, but one of the complaints that they make is that since the amalgamation the whole system of railways has become too big, and that they do not get a fair deal from those above them. Supposing, they say, that they wished to suggest anything to improve the system, no attention would be paid to it now. In the old days such matters were put before the Board of Directors, but now it would probably go to someone 300 or 400 miles away, who would simply treat it as waste paper. We believe that the abolition of competition is not only against human nature but against human interests. Healthy competition keeps people up to date and keeps undertakings up to date. Competition helps to bring keen young men to the front. Nothing is so depressing as to see men merely working for their pensions, with no responsibility and no intention of incurring it. Competition is vital to the living conditions of the working classes of this country. It is essential to commercial prosperity, and only under competitive conditions can progress and the social uplift of this country be maintained.
I beg to second the Amendment.
The Motion which we are debating this evening has a particular interest owing to the fact that it deals with one of the many specific pledges given by hon. Members opposite at the election. A specific pledge was made to nationalise the railway system. Hon. Members opposite have discovered an easy way of shelving some of the more thorny questions which arise, and of postponing the evil day when possibly they may be called upon to fulfil some, at any rate, of the many pledges they have given. They have adopted the method of appointing a Royal Commission to inquire into the matter. Unfortunately, in this case they were debarred from doing that by the fact that the Royal Commission had already been appointed. The Royal Commission has issued two Reports, and its final Report is still awaited. A few weeks ago I should have thought that the one final and complete answer to the Motion before the House would have been, "Surely it is quite ludicrous for hon. Members to anticipate the findings of the Report of a Royal Commission"; but, unfortunately, it seems to be becoming the habit of hon. Gentlemen opposite to do that, and therefore I should feel a little chary about listening to an argument which a few weeks ago would no doubt have seemed quite suitable.
The terms of the Motion before the House are singular and interesting. It declares that hon. Members opposite view with concern the lack of adequate co-ordination in the transport services of Great Britain. That seems to me to be curious, coming from hon. Members who only a few months ago rejected a Bill for the co-ordination of the traffic of London. The whole Motion is couched in the vague phraseology for which the party opposite are gradually becoming famous. I should have thought, for instance, that we should have been given a definition of some of these terms—of nationalisation, for instance. It is very difficult to say what nationalisation means. I know of no adequate definition of it; I know of no method by which nationalisation can come about. I should have thought that on a Motion advocating nationalisation hon. Members opposite would have told us how they proposed to bring it into effect. The railways, as we know, are owned by an enormous number of people; they are more widely owned, perhaps, than any other form of property in the country. The hon. Gentleman opposite shakes his head. Perhaps I exaggerate, but everyone will agree that they are extremely widely owned. How is this very widely owned property to come into the possession and control of the State?
It has been said, and I naturally believe it, that there is now no longer any possibility of the old threat of confiscation. The only alternative is purchase at a fair and legitimate price. In moving this Motion, has the hon. Gentleman made any estimate of that price? Does he know what would be the cost to the country of what he is suggesting? Perhaps either he or the Minister of Transport will give some answer to that question. If an answer cannot be given, surely a more frivolous Motion can rarely have been brought before the House. Has the Chancellor of the Exchequer been consulted? Has he been asked what the cost would be, and how he proposes to raise money from the taxpayers in order to buy out the existing owners of the railways? Has he been consulted? I do not believe for one moment that he has, and I believe that, if he were consulted, he would say, in his pungent Parliamentary phrase, that the whole question was grotesque and ridiculous.
I think we are liable to forget that this Motion cannot stand by itself. You cannot nationalise railways without nationalising a great many other subsidiary things as well. The railways are also landowners, hotel keepers, engineers; they are owners of, and they work in close connection with, great docks and harbours, with ferries, steamships and so on. If you nationalise the railways, you will have to nationalise those other things as well. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite agree with me. But the moment you have nationalised those other things you get a very difficult position. You get a State-subsidised, State-organised enterprise in competition with private enterprise.
I do not know what the hon. Member means by the cow, but I for see that it will be very bad indeed for all those employed in these private enterprises, for their trade and their commerce, and for the revenue of the Exchequer. I foresee, also, that it will be very bad for the things which the hon. Gentleman so elegantly called the cow and which, I imagine, is the shareholder under private enterprise. It will be extremely bad for the taxpayer. It is obviously undesirable and unfair that a State-subsidised enterprise should be in direct competition, on exactly the same terms and lines, with a private enterprise. With the endless resources of the State behind it to back it is quite obvious that all private concerns would go to the board. Is that at last a contribution which we have from the Labour party towards the solution of unemployment? Another thing with regard to competition. The hon. Gentleman, in his very able maiden speech, referred to municipal undertakings. I believe that this Motion has been drawn specifically to avoid any competition with municipal undertakings; that is probably the intention. Does it for one moment avoid competition? You cannot draw a line. If you nationalise systems of transport all over the country, you will be coming into direct competition with the great municipal organisations.
I believe that it is possible to-day, on public, municipal omnibuses and tramcars, and so on to go, with one small break, from Liverpool to Hull, under different services, municipalities and local authorities. A nationalised service will follow exactly the same lines, and that, in similar degree, will happen all over the country. Long-distance transport is merely an extension of short-distance transport. It covers the same ground, but more ground. You will find that municipal transport will probably suffer very severely by the competition. I advise hon. Gentlemen who think that they are safeguarding their municipalities by this Motion to be very cautious. By this sort of thing they are going to enter into direct competition, not only with private enterprise, but with the enterprise of municipalities, which is the last thing that they desire to do.
I want to turn from that to find out a little more about what is claimed for this nationalisation. We have been told very little as to what hon. Gentlemen opposite expect to result from nationalisation. Are railway freights going to be reduced? The hon. Member who moved the Motion said, "Yes." There is only one way in which they can be reduced, and that is by granting to the nationalised railway system a subsidy. I do not think that that would be consistent with the logic of hon. Gentlemen opposite. They would sacrifice the industries which we are safeguarding to a purely economic theory to satisfy the economic prudery of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If they do that, how can they, in logic, grant an immense subsidy to reduce railway freights? There is no other way to reduce them, and if they do not do so what on earth good are they going to do to commerce, trade and employment by nationalisation? Other hon. Gentlemen have referred to improvements of the service and have shown that there is little likelihood of our finding that under greater coordination we shall get better services. It is in the common knowledge of all Members of the House, it is in the knowledge of every porter on every railway station in the country, that the service of the railways was incomparably better before the measure of nationalisation or co-ordinisation or anything else—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] It is idle to deny that employés of railways will be in no way better off than they are to-day. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Then we may take it that the employés of the railways are to benefit in no way by nationalisation. I am sorry to hear it; I had hoped that under nationalisation they were going to be better off. I will say that in one way, at any rate, they will be infinitely worse off. Hon. Gentlemen opposite talk very freely of the desirability of the right to strike. Is it going to make it easier for railwaymen to strike if the railways are nationalised?
It may not. The whole thing, the whole trouble about nationalisation, is "may," "possible," "theory"; not a single "fact." It may not be necessary, but what if it is necessary?
Hon. Members must allow me a little latitude. If it be necessary for railwaymen to strike, do they think that they will get a fairer deal from the State than from the existing railway companies?
Do they think that when they are striking against the State it will be easier for them to stand out than when they are striking against the body of directors and shareholders of a railway company? Of course, hon. Gentlemen, whatever they say, know perfectly well that it will be far, far harder for them in every way. [An HON. MEMBER: "There will be no need for it."] At any rate, we have got now, in the admission of the hon. Gentleman opposite, one step further from possibility towards certainty. I fail to see what is to be got out of nationalisation. It seems to me that hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to risk the whole existing transport system of our country for a theory. That is, to say the least of it, a somewhat reckless thing to do.
This House is being asked to agree to a Motion which is reckless, and I very much hope that the House will not agree to it. Hon. Gentlemen forget that the losses under a national industry would fall not only on the industry but also on the taxpayer. They forget that we are already suffering under a burden of taxation greater than that of any other country in the world. I believe that the time has come when that burden is about as big as can be borne. The limit has been reached of another burden—the burden of the State. We complain in Parliament that we have more work than we can see to efficiently—to municipalities and local authorities the burden is excessive—and I believe that to add to that burden the enormous and crushing burden of running the whole transport system of the country would reduce the whole theory of government to an absurdity.
I hope that the House will not commit itself without due consideration to what I believe to be an extremely ill-thought-out, extremely reckless, and extremely frivolous Motion, but that the Minister of Transport who, I believe, is a moderate and a sensible man, and who will, no doubt, answer and treat hon. Members perhaps with more courtesy than his predecessors on the last two nights from that Bench, will think fit to suggest to his followers that they should put commonsense before a threadbare, outworn, and in many cases discarded experiment, and that they should support the Amendment which I now second.
We have had to-night a very interesting Debate on a matter of very important and increasingly urgent public policy. One or two references have been made to certain problems which affect the Metropolis and the surrounding area, but the Government do not regard this Motion as being related to the local traffic conditions which exist in the various great centres of the country. Therefore, as in our judgment the Motion deals essentially with the national aspects of transport policy, rather than the local aspects of transport policy, I propose to say nothing in this connection with regard to difficulties which may exist of a local character in London, Manchester, Glasgow or great provincial centres. The Motion which is before the House refers to the difficulties which have arisen as a result of the existence in these times of free competition, or at any rate, a great measure of free competition, in the transport industry. I am bound to say that I was a little surprised that the Mover of the Amendment should in the year 1929 stand up in his place as an advocate of free competition in transport.
I had hoped that we were all Socialists to the extent, at any rate, of being convinced that free competition in transport has proved to be injurious, and that coordination in some way was the urgent necessity of the modern situation. Just as the hon. Member who moved the Amendment represented the extreme right wing of his party on these matters, so I am afraid the hon. Member for North-East Bethnal Green (Major Nathan) represents the extreme right wing of the Liberal party on the issue of public ownership and of public responsibility. We have had an interesting Debate representing all points of view. In my view, there can be no question that the building up of a transport system on the basis of free competition has been injurious to the efficiency of the public service of that industry. The railway companies to-day, the nation to day, the travelling public and probably the workmen employed by the transport undertakings, are suffering from the needless costs involved in transport consequent upon the high capital charges, and to some extent the high maintenance and running charges which are involved in the industry having to carry burdens which it would not have to carry if we had deliberately built up a transport system as a national coordinated concern, instead of gradually developing in a hotch-potch way without any coherent plan or any systematic policy.
At numerous points in the railway system and at numerous points in the road transport system there are misfits, bad junctions, duplicated routes, and numerous other problems which will be put right only by (further substantial capital expenditure involving additional burdens upon the industry. The capital costs of the industry are undoubtedly being increased by the competitive stages through which the industry went and through which the industry is going to some extent at the present time. Nobody can read of the prices paid for land by railway companies in their early days without feeling some indignation against a Parliament which allowed the railway companies to be bled to the extent that they were, and against a competition which largely placed the railway companies in the hands of the landlords, because more than one railway concern was seeking the advantage of running over given tracts of land. Nobody can read the early history of the railways and of the competition one with the other, without realising that the capital cost of construction of British railways was very much higher than it ought to have been. The fact is that there were these competitive efforts, that railway companies even in their process of coming to this House for permission to run the railways were squeezed and almost, if one may use the word, blackmailed right and left by this interest and that interest in order that this concession and that concession should be given. Nobody who reads the history of British railways impartially can come to any other conclusion than that free competition, on the basis of everybody being out for themselves, has been injurious to railway companies and injurious to the nation itself.
Road transport has come, and nobody ignores the fact that road transport has come to stay. That is an additional competitive factor. Road transport is competing with railways; and do not let it be ignored that the railways are competing with road transport. I get many recitals of the troubles of the railway companies in relation to road transport; but one of the things which has interested me is that in some districts I am beginning to get complaints from road transport interests of excessive competition from) the Railway companies. Then there is the canal system, which, instead of having been fitted into the whole national system of transport where it was an economic proposition suitable for the transport of given goods, has been regarded as a separate competitive system; with the result that railways, road transport, and canals, and to some extent coastwise shipping, are competing with each other, and conflicting with each other, and the total cost of transport is correspondingly increased.
I thought, until I heard the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Lindsey (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage), who moved the Amendment, that everybody was agreed as to these evils, and that everybody recognised that competition was played out, and that the Socialistic gospel of co-operation and co-ordination in itself, if we do not press it to the point of public ownership, was a doctrine which was accepted in these times by all political parties in this House. I still believe that with the exception of a small minority of hon. Members of this House that is the case; and we, on these benches, are very glad that our propaganda and our education have been so enormously successful that most of the great and enlightened capitalists of the country are among the keenest opponents of competition under modern conditions.
The case for co-ordination is a very strong one. I do not want to repeat what I said in a debate in this House on another matter, but we must face the fact that the whole theory that competition gives us the cheapest and most efficient service is wrong. If competition duplicates the capital costs of erecting plants and setting up systems, if it involves things being done twice or three times or four times over, if it involves the brains and the energies of the leaders of industry being devoted to the process of cutting each other's throats rather than getting on with their work; then, in the end, that sort of business must increase the cost of running the various industries of the country; and nowhere has it been proved more conclusively than in the transport industry. If there are needless capital and maintenance costs in the organisation of any industry, they must be met either by the owners of the capital in the industry or by the users of the commodities or the service of the industry, or they must be met, as they are unfortunately often met, by driving down the wages of the workpeople who are engaged in the industry. The sooner we face that fact, and shape national policy accordingly, the better it will be. Coordination is in the air. With the exception of the hon. and gallant Member for Lindsey, who moved the Amendment, everybody recognises that this can be done and it ought to be done.
I was about to say that if the hon. and gallant Member remains in this House for another 10 or 20 years we shall hope to convert him yet. Already he has reached the stage of progress that he has a foot in each camp, and all we have to do now is to pull the remaining foot over. The Royal Commission on Transport has just issued and presented to His Majesty a very important Report on licensing, and it is a document which is well worth the attention of every hon. Member of this House. Whether we agree with the document or whether we disagree with it, we must admit that it is a very
valuable document, ably compiled in speedy time, and I think Sir Arthur Griffith-Boscawen and his colleagues are to be congratulated on the speed and ability with which they have compiled it. They propose that in the future it shall be competent for the licensing authority of the various road transport undertakings to take all these factors into account in coming to decisions upon the licensing of vehicles. The Report of the Royal Commission says:
In coming to a decision upon any application, the Commissioners shall act judicially, and shall have regard to the following considerations:
In some way, by public ownership or not by public ownership, that aim of the Royal Commission must be achieved, if we are to get the best out of the road and rail transport systems of the country; and the policy of the Government is to promote and to encourage the co-ordination of transport undertakings, always provided that that co-ordination is in the public interest, and is not going to place the community at the mercy of a private monopoly set up by Statute or authorised by Statute.
Having agreed, therefore, that the principle of co-ordination is a sound principle, let us examine whether in the end, not as a matter of immediate policy but as a matter of ultimate policy, it is better to have these industries under public ownership or private ownership. It is of course possible—it has been done in the case of the railways under the Railways Act, 1921—to supervise privately owned monopolies; but what you have to recognise is that the process of State interference and State control of privately owned industries does often tend to give us the worst rather than the best of both worlds. It means that the private undertakers themselves are not free to do what they like with their own business; that the State is controlling them at settled points, and that they are accountable to the State. There is a good example in the case of the railway companies: they are now obliged to submit the whole of their finances, their proposals, and their position to the Railway Rates Tribunal. The Tribunal is bound and obliged, so far as it can, to fix rates and charges in order to give the railway companies the standard revenue and a reasonable return upon capital. The opponents of the railway companies are free to go there.
I was myself one of the amateur counsel for about three years in the proceedings before the Railway Rates Tribunal; and I got myself involved in a bigger job than I knew when I started. But almost anybody can go; they can speak and can cross-examine, and the procedure is very much like that of a Court of Law. I am bound to say that the members of the Railway Rates Tribunal have done their work very ably, in very difficult conditions, and I think they have been very fair to all parties concerned in the whole of the business. But what does it mean? It means that the technical officers and the managers of the railway companies had to spend months and months, and even years, devoting a whole host of their energies to the purpose of fighting for their interests against the traders, the London County Council, and people like myself who were fighting for the interests of the workmen before the Tribunal. If private concerns have any advantage at all, it is the advantage of initiative and of freedom to go on day by day and not to be interfered with; and it is a matter for consideration whether you increase the benefit of private industry and advantage the community itself if you try, in the first place to insist that the industry shall be privately owned and that it shall be a private monopoly, and secondly, as you are bound to do, insist that the owners of that private monopoly shall be meticulously accountable to the community for what they do.
Speaking as a Socialist, I say that you are in danger under a, private monopoly, publicly controlled, of fettering the spirit of private enterprise, without giving a sufficient advantage to the community, and the community itself is in this difficulty that as it does not carry the financial responsibility for the undertaking which it is controlling, there is a limit to what it can do. It cannot force things down to the point that the undertaking is ruined. Therefore, the community is trying to control something for which it is not responsible and, in the end, the owners and managers of the undertaking are in the best position before the tribunals that are set up, because they are really the only people who know all about the matter, however much the other people may try to find out. Therefore, competition is bad and co-ordination is good, but co-ordination means that private monopoly, if it is privately owned, must be publicly supervised, and you are in danger in those circumstances of getting the worst of both worlds and not, as the hon. and gallant Member for North-East Bethnal Green said, the best of both worlds.
Let us not be too hard upon the railway officials and the railway companies. [Laughter.] Yes, I mean that. Anybody who has read their history and knows the way that they were held up by landlords, sometimes by Parliament, and the interests that blocked their Bills and squeezed things out of them—sometimes we did it—must sympathise with the railway companies. Let us not underestimate the difficulties that they have had to go through. It is not necessarily the railway companies that are conscious sinners, it is the system upon which they have been built that is bad. Let us not denounce the railway officials. My impression is that the men who are running the railways are not the least among the best quality of industrialists. They are a pretty good body of men. Their technical officers, the general managers, are men of considerable ability. [An HON. MEMBER: "So are the drivers."] Certainly the drivers. If they did not drive so well, some of us would not be here to-day. The railway companies have had very great difficulties to face.
Is the Conservative party, is the Liberal party bound to say that in no circumstances will they ever consider the nationalisation of a single industry? It is the word we sometimes boggle at, and not the thing. What was the attitude of the hon. and gallant Member for North-East Bethnal Green? He made a very Whiggish speech of the Victorian period. I am disappointed in him, because I had read that he was the leader of Radicalism in the East End of London, and I expected that he would come into the twentieth century and not remain in the nineteenth century. But even the hon. and gallant Member visualised some form of public ownership, provided the politicians were not dominating the concern all the time. That is a legitimate and perfectly fair point to raise. Is it for the Conservative party which nationalised the telephones to oppose nationalisation? They may be sorry that they did it, but they did it. Surely they will admit that the telephones have been better managed since they were nationalised? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Then I can only assume that they never tried to get a call under the old conditions. However, let that be as it may.
Take the Post Office as an example of public ownership. No one would seriously try to hand the Post Office over to a company, to be run for profit. It was the Conservative party which nationalised the Broadcasting Corporation, and the Conservative party will certainly resist handing over the Army, Navy and the police to contract. The Conservative party in many towns and cities has favoured the municipalisation of a whole series of services. Birmingham is a model of municipalisation which we gladly follow. It was the last Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer who, in 1918, said that we ought to nationalise the railways, and the Coalition Government, under the leadership of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), apparently authorised him to say it. You are all involved in that proposal of 1918 to nationalise the railways. Have we come to such a point of political doctrinaire intolerance that both political parties are prepared to say that in no circumstances will they face the public ownership of any industry at all? I do not believe it. You have done so much in the way of converting private ownership into public ownership that I cannot believe that that is the position. In 1908 a Motion was brought before the House of Commons by a Liberal Member in favour of the public ownership of the
railways; at any rate, it went a long way towards it. He moved:
In view of the widespread complaints on the part of traders, agriculturists and the general public, with regard to the railway charges and facilities, and particularly with regard to the preferential treatment of foreign goods, the time has come to consider how far this evil can be remedied by State purchase of the railways as foreshadowed by the Railway Regulations Act of 1844.
Evidently, as far back as 1844, in the days of Mr. Gladstone, nationalisation was contemplated. On the 11th February, 1908, a Liberal Member moved a Motion which favoured nationalisation. Let me now read a statement by the present Leader of the Liberal party. I admit that his speech was able and that it is a little difficult to find out on which side he really was, but he was not intolerant of nationalisation. I commend it to the hon. Member for North-East Bethnal Green as an example of the progressive spirit which he might adopt. The right hon. Gentleman said:
He did not agree with his hon. Friend who spoke last that that was only part of the Socialistic programme of nationalising everything. His hon. Friend knew that this was one of the very few countries in the world in which railways were not nationalised. Who were the men who had nationalised railways? The man who nationalised the railways in Germany hated and fought Socialism. Prince Bismarck was not a member of the Labour party.
The Liberal Yellow Book actually indicated that it was prepared to consider on their merits proposals for public ownership. What is the difference between the Liberal view and the full-blooded Socialists, with whom I am proud to be associated. My friends believe in Socialism, as I do, as a general doctrine. I believe it would advantage the human race; but I must justify every piece of public ownership I want upon economic facts and the business merits of the proposal; every step must be justified as I go and I must prove that every industry I want to nationalise would be a business proposition in the interests of the nation. If I cannot show it is a business proposition then I have no right to ask for it to be done and Parliament has no right to do it. The Liberal party and I am not sure that I could not say the Conservative party also—I almost think I could say the former Secretary of State for the Dominions—declare: "We reject your general Socialist doctrine, we do
not believe in your ultimate objective and your theory of life, but come to us with specific cases of industries which you think would be better under public ownership and we will consider them on their merits." We are in so much agreement that we could nearly nationalise half a dozen things straight away.
Let us not he dogmatic as to what nationalisation means. The old idea, shared by many hon. Members opposite, was that nationalisation meant setting up an elaborate new State Department with miles of red tape, every official in the Department having gold braid on his shoulders and that the Department should be run in the same way as the ordinary Civil Service and the ordinary Department of State. I never accepted censures and condemnation of the Civil Service, and I particularly resent sneers at the Civil Service by men who have been in Governments and who have been indebted to the Civil Service for seeing them through their jobs. But what I have described is not essential to the idea of nationalisation. I believe that more and more we have to follow the model, especially if we are going to nationalise a series of industries, of Parliament deciding that a certain undertaking is to be taken over by the public and made accountable to the nation, but that the day-to-day management of that undertaking is not to be in the hands of Ministers of State, of politicians, or of public persons accustomed to the procedure of this House or of municipalities—because we sometimes talk more than we ought to do—but that it is to be in the hands of a limited number of first-class business men employed by the community and encouraged to run that concern with all the vigour of commercial and business enterprise. Nor must they be afraid to dismiss people who are not fit for their jobs. No publicly-owned business should be in the position that nobody can be got rid of, if they are not fit for the work on which they are engaged. That is a plan of public ownership combined with business enterprise which should not be resented by hon. Members opposite, certainly not by hon. Members opposite below the Gangway. Therefore let us realise that public ownership can be administered in various different ways, and I think the form of nationalisation which has been opposed by many hon. Members to-night is the form under which they imagine that everything would be under a glorious State Department with Ministers dictating to the poor general manager, workmen interviewing Members of Parliament to get increased wages, with all kinds of meticulous intervention and nobody able to spend a penny without Treasury sanction. That is not my plan of running a publicly-owned undertaking.
The Government support the principle of this Motion. We shall vote for it and we hope the House will adopt it, because it is in accordance with the general policy of the Labour party and, according to their public documents, it is in accordance with the general policy of the Liberal party. Therefore it ought to be carried. But the Motion is a declaration of opinion, and it would be improper on my part if I led the House to believe that it wall be followed immediately by a Bill for the nationalisation of the railways. We have our legislative programme, and we have to consider it according to the needs of the Parliamentary Session and the time. The Government cannot be committed to introducing such a Measure one way or the other. One thing I am quite clear about myself, and it is that, if we ever nationalise the railways, I personally do not want to take them unless I take long distance road transport with them. I have already got enough things that do not pay, including two canals in Scotland. The only reason that I have got them is that nobody else wanted them. I find that hon. Members opposite firmly believe in Socialism when there is money to be lost and strongly oppose it when there is money to be made.
We oppose the Amendment because it is contrary to the principles for which the Labour party stands, but the vote of the House will be a free vote. This is a Private Member's Motion, and Government Whips will not be put on. I am expressing the individual opinions of myself and my colleagues, but this is not a Government Division, if a Division takes place. I can only say, in conclusion, that I thank the House for listening to me so patiently. It has been a very interesting Debate and one of the best tempered Debates we have had, at any rate this week, and I hope it will set the standard of conduct for such Debates to come. At any rate, transport coordination, transport economy, is very important and very near to my heart. I want to see the nation's transport, whoever runs it, run as a sound business thing, economically and efficiently. Transport is vital to the nation, and the House of Commons does well to-night to consider the important problems which it raises at the present time.
I am sure the whole House will have listened with intense interest to the very excellent speech of the Minister of Transport, which was particularly interesting to some of us on this side, because it differed so largely from the definitions of nationalisation which we heard during the course of the General Election. It is always interesting to realise that all of us have got to he educated further and further on the lines of the Front Bench policy of the Labour party, and I feel that this Debate has been extraordinarily interesting if for no other reason than that it has brought into the limelight the fact that no nationalisaion of one form of transport is possible without taking into account the road services and possibly the coastwise services, and if you do that, I imagine the air services also. If you start doing it with one of those sections and not the others, you are having a lopsided arrangement, which I am sure the present most efficient Minister of Transport would never tolerate for a moment. Consequently, I think that although in the counse of time we may see a Bill introduced by the Government to nationalise, in the new order of nationalisation, all forms of transport, yet I want to say one word of more immediate moment.
The managers of the British railways are not here to speak for themselves, and I am sure the Mover of the Motion will forgive my drawing attention to what he said, when he stated that the managers paid more attention to running the railways for the profit of the shareholders than for the comfort and convenience of the public. That is not true. I am quite sure that all hon. Members opposite who have worked on our railways and have had personal knowledge of the managers and officers of the great British railway companies will at any rate recognise this, that I know no single officer or manager who puts the convenience of the public and the trade of the country second to anything else. Another thing I think we have to realise is this, that were it not for the co-operation that we had with many hon. Members whom I see sitting opposite now when we tried to get, and succeeded in getting, the co-ordination of road services, we should never have got that Bill through. By their assistance to us in getting those road powers for the railways, we have carried out one of the very things which is asked for in the Motion, namely, greater co-ordination between those two forms of traffic. What surely we want to do, all of us, is to improve still further this system of public utility organisation such as the British railways are on truly British lines, which I do not think can be called nationalisation even of the new type, because it is peculiarly British. Every hon. Member knows that any scheme which a railway company desires to bring in has to be brought to this House, and by the rules of Order, if it he a question of making a railway in Nottinghamshire, for instance, it does not prevent any Members asking why there are not water bottles and third-class sleepers on the west coast route.
Any question of railway interest can be brought up but if you had any form of nationalisation which took away the initiative, which I believe that private enterprise still has, the railway representatives of trade unions, both in this House and outside, would not have anything like the same position that they have to-day. I like to think that the railway industry has succeeded by experience in showing an example to all other industries of what can be done by representatives of the men and of the management and the owners of the company working together. We had our differences, but we now have the machinery, thanks to the 1921 Act which works exceedingly well, and I do not believe that a single hon. Gentleman opposite will dispute the fact that there is no other industry in this country so highly organised from the point of view of the workers and the management as the railway industry. If there be any others, I should like to hear which they are. We all believe that the trade and industrial success in this country depends upon bringing modern methods to bear on all our industries, and, speaking from this side of the House, I admit at once that private enterprise is very much on its trial. I recognise that, and I believe also that in some cases industries are suffering because pre-War minds are trying to deal with post-War problems.
An hon. Gentleman opposite quoted a speech which the Leader of the Opposition made in Glasgow, and which I think everyone on this side believes was perfectly right. We on these benches do not stand for inefficiency of management or of anything else. Not a single Member on this side, as far as I know, defends parasitic directors who are not worth their salt or their salaries, and we do not want to see the old system continued. We are trying to break that down, and are succeeding in breaking it down. May I utter a word of warning If the railway industry is working well with the workers—[An HON. MEMBER: "It is not!"]. If it is not, I am sorry, for I know no industry in this country where the machinery is more efficient and enables complaints and difficulties to be more quickly solved. It is only right to say that the Lord Privy Seal and others—whom I will not mention by name, but we all know them—have shown an example how to get terms for their men while recognising the difficulties of the industry at the particular time. This has produced a feeling of confidence which will take a great deal to break down. If that confidence exists in an industry between the management and the representatives of the workers, I am convinced that it is an efficiently managed industry.
I was discussing the relationship between the management and the representatives of the men, and an hon. Member asks me about third-class sleepers. That just illustrates what I said before, that any question of railways which may be discussed is always interrupted by same question to do with railways which is not under discussion at the moment. In answer to the hon. Member opposite, I may say third-class sleepers have been introduced, and I hope they will be extended. I feel they have satisfied a public need, and I do not think we need stand in a white sheet to say we are sorry for having introduced them. To return to my subject, I feel that we have great flexibility under the present system, whereby we have the railways nominally under private enterprise, but really controlled as a public utility company, controlled by the public with various tribunals. There is a sort of buffer. All the men working on the railways are employed by an organisation which is not the State, and it seems to me there must be a right of appeal given to every worker, be he railwayman or otherwise, to some authority beyond his immediate employer. Therefore, we must always maintain the State in the third position, because that will ensure greater confidence and is a better system for those who employ and those who are employed.
The Minister of Transport just now paid a very proper eulogy to the work of the Transport Commission under Sir Arthur Griffith-Boscawen, and it seems to me rather extraordinary that he is not willing to go into the Lobby with those who support this Amendment, because what the Amendment says is that whilst we are anxious to improve the efficiency of our transport system we decline to anticipate the report of the Royal Commission. I gather from the Minister of Transport that he thinks it is one of the best Commissions ever set up, and I agree with him, and surely it would be very foolish for those holding that view to pass a Resolution which, although it cannot easily be put into force, will none the less commit them to something which may not be in the Report of the Royal Commission. I am sure hon. Members opposite would not like to go against the Report of the Commission which their own Minister of Transport says is so extremely good.
In these days of big amalgamations and an increasing size of undertakings, the two problems of industry are management and magnitude. In this House in 1922 I sat through the proceedings of the railway committee upstairs. The great problem that confronted us was what was the economic limit in size for an industrial unit to be efficiently and properly managed. I believe that the limit of size is what is within the capacity of a human brain. I think one man cannot manage a vast concern if he cannot pay sufficient attention to the details of the business. In the 1921 Act 35 companies were grouped into four, and I submit that since that grouping economies have been effected. But I am conscious of one thing, that we must not allow stagnation in the ranks of railway officers, who feel that there is no chance of promotion to positions that would have been open to them had there been more companies in existence. The one thing that matters is to keep the human touch between the management and the workers. The one thing we are trying to beat in these modern days is the huge, cruel concern which grinds down people without thought for their individual characters. We on our side are trying to build up something which is human, and for which the Leader of the Opposition has spoken time and time again. You will never get good management and consideration for the worker and consideration of the worker for the employer unless you have an organisation which enables that human touch to be established.
Magnitude and monopoly are all right as far as they go, but they perish if they have not a spirit of human kindness in them. It is quite hard enough to manage these huge undertakings under present circumstances, but how is it possible to maintain in them human touch and sympathy. You must encourage your good men to grow up and be keen about their work. How can you do that if you have an enormous thing which crushes out all possibility of human initiative. However you may define nationalisation there is a very great danger of having a great top heavy thing, a sort of juggernaut which rides roughly over the aspirations of the best workers. We must leave room for every good man to get to the top. I do not think that wages will come down again. On the other hand I think we shall always have the support of those who represent labour to help us to give rewards to the men who deserve them, and not pay rewards to the men who do not deserve them.
I think the organised workers will read the reports of this Debate to-morrow with interest. I am sure they will be very surprised to read the Amendment which has been moved which seems to me to postulate that all is well with transport, and that no one has any complaints to make about it. One has only to remember that every time a railway Bill is introduced all kinds of complaints are raised, and I suggest that the hon. Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage) could not go down to his constituents and convince them that they are adequately served with railways in that part of the country. Hon. Members opposite are very concerned about the parlous condition of industry and its future, and what they are anxious about is the bringing down of costs. The Resolution we are discussing aims at that. There is springing up in this country a very great virile road transport, but the people who carry merchandise by road will not take anything you offer as the railways have to do. Those who are at present concerned with road transport will only take the goods which are remunerative, and they are taking the best of the traffic. Even when they get to the towns near the base of operations they go round to find goods to bring back again at prices which are almost unremunerative.
On the other hand, the railway rates and fares are governed by the Railway Rates Tribunal. At the present time we burn coal in London and the heavy freightage has to be borne by the railways. Unless the nation takes cognisance of this opposition on the roads industry will have to bear a still heavier burden because the best paid freightages are taken by road and only heavy goods are left for the railways. Consequently the cost of working the railways will go up, and our capacity to compete with the foreigner will become more and more difficult. What we ask is that as sensible people we should get together and look at the matter. I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Abingdon (Major Glyn) that the modern manager is doing his best, but he has a ghastly heritage to get over. I am the grandson of a railwayman, my father was a railwayman, and I have spent most of my time on the railway. I hope what I am saying will not affect my promotion, but I do say that everything the old directors could do wrongly they did wrongly. They made every possible mistake, and in the early days when they were offered certain freights to carry one director even said: "Why, you will be asking us to carry coal soon." We know now that coal is a very remunerative freight. The locomo- tive engineers have been up to now the most conservative lot in the country and have made all the mistakes possible. The evil is that these mistakes have got to be paid for, and they will be paid for to the end of time as long as the railway companies are owned by private individuals. Dividends have to be earned and the companies have to pay for all these mistakes and that makes the difficulties of the railways in competing with this new form of transport all the greater.
What we ask in this Motion is that we should go into the whole affair and remove this foolish and needless competition. The Minister of Transport put exactly the view we hold about the ownership of the railways—not that which is pictured in the minds of hon. Members opposite and which does not bear much relation to the truth. We railwaymen have been trying to think things out. The hon. Member who seconded the Amendment asked whether the railwaymen thought that nationalisation would affect wages. We do not, and we have made that perfectly plain at all times. It may be news to hon. Members that the workmen have very little control over their wages. The National Wages Board which settles hours and wages is dominated by four railway users with an independent chairman, so we are in their hands. The hon. Member also spoke about strikes. The railways have been in operation about 100 years and there have only been three national strikes during that period. So why he should talk about strikes passes my comprehension. I know he is very young and may not know very much about the history of railways. We are a most peaceable lot, and what we want to do it to get the nation to leave laisser faire behind, to approach the question from a central point of view, to look at the difficulties and to direct the evolution of transport which is now taking place.
In the few remaining moments I should like to say a word as a Liberal in regard to this Motion, seeing that the Minister devoted a considerable part of his speech to the Liberal party and asked us to say whether we contended that there was no institution which should be nationalised. We do not regard nationalisation as a political principle. We think it is entirely a question of expediency. We think that, in examining a proposal for the nationalisation of any industry or concern, the whole of the facts should be put on the table and examined. The Minister of Transport has paid the Liberal party a great compliment, because he envisaged a public concern, which is precisely what is to be found in the printed policy of the Liberal party. I would, however, venture to point out a very grave fallacy in the reasoning of the hon. Gentleman. He evidently has in view a board of experts, as he called them, but he has not faced up to the main question which is raised in this Motion, namely, that of the ownership of the concern which these experts are to manage. How is it possible to have a concern like the railways financed, as the Motion means, by a public fund, while the management of that fund is in the hands of a public body of experts? I say with great earnestness that the two things are quite incompatible.
That leads me to give what I consider to be, in a single word, the remaining argument against this Motion, and I would put, to any of my hon. Friends on the opposite side who are prepared to vote for the Motion, a very pertinent question. If they were proposing, as a matter of personal concern to them, to buy a business of any kind which was offered to them, would they at once say, "Yes, we will buy," or would they not in the first instance ask to see a balance sheet of the business? They would, of course, ask, "Does the business pay now?" The railways, as my hon. Friends know, are at present, and have been for a number of years, paying their dividends out of reserves and not out of profits at all, and yet this Motion asks the House to favour the purchase by the State of this concern which is not proving, in all cases at any rate, to be a profit-making concern. [Interruption.] The fact is that the dividends' have been paid out of reserves and not out of profits in a number of instances. With regard to the Motion that is before the House, the position that I and, as I understand, my colleagues are taking up is this: We do not favour nationalisation as a general principle, but we are prepared to examine any particular case that is put before us. We believe, with regard to the railways, that the economic facts to which the hon. Gentleman has referred have not been proved in favour of nationalisation. But equally we do not accept the implications in the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. and gallant Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage), and which we think is a non possumus Amendment.
|Division No. 9.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Messer, Fred|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Middleton, G.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Montague, Frederick|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Hardie, George D.||Morley, Ralph|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)|
|Arnott, John||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Mort, D. L.|
|Ayles, Walter||Haycock, A. W.||Moses, J. J. H.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hayday, Arthur||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Hayes, John Henry||Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Muff, G.|
|Barr, James||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Muggeridge, H. T.|
|Batey, Joseph||Herriotts, J.||Murnin, Hugh|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Bellamy, Albert||Hoffman, P. C.||Noel Baker, P. J.|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Hollins, A.||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)|
|Benson, G.||Hopkin, Daniel||Palln, John Henry|
|Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Horrabin, J. F.||Paling, Wilfrid|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Palmer, E. T.|
|Bowen, J. W.||Isaacs, George||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Perry, S. F.|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Bromfield, William||Johnston, Thomas||Phillips, Dr. Marion|
|Bromley, J.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Picton-Tubervill, Edith|
|Brooke, W.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Pole, Major D. G.|
|Brothers, M.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Potts, John S.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)||Kelly, W. T.||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kennedy, Thomas||Raynes, W. R.|
|Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)||Kenwortny, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Richards, R.|
|Buchanan, G.||Kinley, J.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Burgess, F. G.||Kirkwood, D.||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Lang, Gordon||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Caine, Derwent Hall||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Ritson, J.|
|Cameron, A. G.||Lathan, G.||Romeril, H. G.|
|Cape, Thomas||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Law, A. (Rosendale)||Rowson, Guy|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lawrence, Susan||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Chater, Daniel||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Sanders, W. S.|
|Church, Major A. G.||Lawson, John James||Sandham, E.|
|Clarke, J. S.||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Leach, W.||Scurr, John|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Sexton, James|
|Compton, Joseph||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Daggar, George||Lees, J.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Dallas, George||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Day, Harry||Lindley, Fred W.||Shield, George William|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Shillaker, J. F|
|Dickson, T.||Longbottom, A. W.||Shinwell, E.|
|Duncan, Charles||Longden, F.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lunn, William||Simmons, C. J.|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Sinkinson, George|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||McElwee, A.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||McEntee, V. L.||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)|
|Egan, W. H.||Mackinder, W.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Freeman, Peter||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||McShane, John James||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lanes. Mossley)||Mansfield, W.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Gill, T. H.||March, S.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Gossling, A. G.||Marcus, M.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Gould, F.||Markham, S. F.||Sorensen, R.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Marley, J.||Spero, Dr. G. E.|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Mathers, George||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Matters, L. W.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Maxton, James||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Melville, J. B.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Sullivan, J.||Watkins, F. C.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Sutton, J. E.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)||Wellock, Wilfred||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Thurtle, Ernest||Welsh, James (Paisley)||Wilson R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Tillett, Ben||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Tinker, John Joseph||West, F. R.||Wise, E. F.|
|Toole, Joseph||Westwood, Joseph||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Tout, W. J.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Turner, B.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Viant, S. P.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Walker, J.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)||Mr. Mills and Mr. Broad.|
|Wallace, H. w.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Albery, Irving James||Gower, Sir Robert||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)||Grace, John||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Granville, E.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Gray, Milner||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Owen. H. F. (Hereford)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Peake, Capt. Osbert|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Penny, Sir George|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Peters. Dr. Sidney John|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Blindell, James||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Remer, John R.|
|Bracken, B.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Ross, Major Ronald D.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Rothschild, J. de|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Castlestewart, Earl of||Hunter Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Christie, J. A.||Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Savery, S. S.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Scott, James|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Stuart, J. C. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Eimley, Viscount||Lymington, Viscount||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-8. M.)||Mac Robert, Alexander M.||Train, J.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Fison, F. G. Clavering||Marjorl banks, E. C.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Foot, Isaac||Millar, J. D.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||White, H. G.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Womersley, W. J.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Glassey, A. E.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Colonel Heneage and Lord Balniel.|