Orders of the Day — Schedule. — (Services in respect of which Orders in Council may be made under this Act.)

– in the House of Commons on 28th September 1931.

Alert me about debates like this

Amendment proposed [25th September]. In page 3, to leave out line 7.— [Mr. Johnston.]

Question again proposed, "That the words 'Unemployment Insurance' stand part of the Schedule."

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Linlithgowshire

Last Friday, when we adjourned the Debate on this subject, several hon. Members opposite sought to justify their support of the Government's proposed cuts in unemployment benefit. It was remarkable that no two of them spoke in similar terms. The hon. and learned Member for Rusholme (Sir B. Merriman) argued that because a certain trade union had imposed reductions in benefit the State might be excused for adopting a similar course. The hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) asserted that the sole motive of hon. Members on this side in resisting unemployment benefit cuts was the imminence of a General Election. The hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander), representing at least a section of the Liberal party, pleaded for further consideration in view of the changes in the cost of living; and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, whom I congratulate on his appointment, insisted, in a somewhat pathetic speech, that a distinction must be drawn between insured persons and those whose benefits were exhausted.

From the speeches delivered last Friday, particularly those of Tory hon. Members, certain definite conclusions emerged. The hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough professed a regard for the unemployed, and pretended that if it were not for stern national necessity he would not support the Government in these economy proposals. His remarks were applauded by hon. Members opposite. But the declared policy of the Tory party all along the line has been definitely in favour of a curtailment of unemployment benefit. One might suppose, from the speeches that have been delivered by Tory Members of the Committee, that this cut in unemployment benefit hurt them more than it hurt the unemployed. I flatly decline to accept that proposition from them. The Committee may recall that when the late Labour Government proposed an increase in the rates to be paid to adolescents, to young persons in receipt of unemployment benefit, that proposition incurred the violent and implacable hostility of Tory Members. Further, the employers' organisations associated with the Tory party—the masters of the Tory party—

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Linlithgowshire

The National Federation of Employers' Organisations and the Federation of British Industries demanded, not a 10 per cent., but a 33⅓ per cent. cut in unemployment benefit. To pretend at this time that only the financial necessities of the case lead them to demand a curtailment in unemployment benefit is to pretend a virtue which exists neither in the minds nor in the hearts of hon. Members opposite. But it has been urged by the Tory party that while they are opposed to the dole, as it is so frequently and so wrongly described, they would prefer work. One may politely inquire how it is that during their 4½ years in office they did not provide the necessary work? That question will no doubt remain unanswered.

When hon. Members opposite are induced to indulge in candour on this question of unemployment benefit, what is discovered? They protest against what are described as high rates of unemployment benefit because of the reaction of those rates upon the wages of the workers. How often is it said that in some instances the unemployment payment is actually higher than wages earned? The other day in my constituency I was confronted with two men both surface workers at a pit. They were each in receipt of 5s. 8½d. per shift and were working four shifts per week. One of them inquired whether, if he voluntarily absented himself from his employment, he would receive unemployment pay. I replied in the negative. But that wage is ample and abundant provocation for leaving one's employment and seeking unemployment benefit, and it is not the unfortunate unemployed, the recipients of unemployment pay, who ought to incur our displeasure and blame. More shame to the employers who pay such appallingly low wages. They are represented by the hon. Members on the Tory benches.

I turn for a moment to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Rusholme. He advanced a peculiar and most fallacious argument. The substance of his case was that inasmuch as a certain trade union had found it necessary to curtail benefit the State ought to do likewise. He was not very explicit on the point and did not respond to questions which were addressed to him from this side. He indulged merely in generalisations. But the hon. and learned Member, whose absence I regret though I make no complaint about it, argued that because a certain trade union had found it necessary to reduce benefit, the State must adopt the same source. Surely that it 11, most fallacious argument—at all all events from the standpoint of a member of the Tory party. When did the Tory party ever advocate that the State should adopt the course pursued by the trade unions of this country? In any event, where is the analogy with a trade union which finds it necessary to reduce benefit owing to financial circumstances over which it has no control—a union governed by rules, under a democratic organisation, for which its members as a whole are responsible or are entitled to be responsible. Where is the analogy between that state of affairs and the action taken here by the State without any consultation with the unemployed?

Then we bad a submission of opinion from the Liberal benches. The hon. Member for East Wolverhampton appears to be already disillusioned. He trusted the Tories. No doubt he and other members of the Liberal party thought that, as a result of an arrangement, their seats would be made secure. That does not, at the moment, appear to be so likely. Therefore they protest, and so we find this member of the Liberal party and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour—with whom I shall deal in a moment—taking up this attitude. When they sat on this side below the Gangway they supported the Labour Government in increasing unemployment benefit rates. Having supported the present Government for a brief period they are now a little doubtful about the propriety of imposing these burdens on the unemployed. I turn to the villain of the piece—the Prime Minister—because, after all, if there is any substance in the Government's case, it is surely to be found in the case as presented by the Prime Minister.

4.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Linlithgowshire

Nothing has disconcerted the hon. and gallant Member more than the fact that he did not get a job. What is the Prime Minister's defence? If I may say so, putting aside all questions of personal friendship and loyalty, the unemployed, the most hapless and helpless section of the community, are to be further exploited. In saying that, I represent opinion both on this side of the Committee and among the people in the country. What is the Prime Minister's defence I do not misrepresent his argument when I say that in effect it is this—that inasmuch as there has been in the past year or two a reduction of 11½ per cent. in the cost of living, the 10 per cent. reduction of un-employment benefit ought not to be regarded as burdensome. I reply, in the first place, that we do not found our case on the possibility of a further increase in the cost of living, nor for that matter upon the cost-of-living figures at all. We declare that the unemployment rates have never been too high; they have always been too low. The hon. Member the Minister of Mines has asked why we did not increase them, and no one can better furnish the answer than he as representing the Liberal party. Grudgingly, reluctantly, with reservations and qualifications, the Liberal party gave their consent to certain modified reforms, not so much because they liked them, but because they liked facing the electors less. It does not lie in the mouths of Liberal Members, therefore, to taunt us. [Interruption.] In the opinion of hon. Members on this side, the rates have never been too high; they have always been too low, and there is no question of an increase or reduction in the cost-of-living affecting that attitude and outlook.

In the cost-of-living to the average unemployed man, the chief ingredient is rent. In some cases rents are very low, but in the case of unemployed families residing in council houses, doing their best to rise above slum life, for which they deserve credit and not blame, the average rents, taking the country as a whole, are round about 8s. a week. [Interruption.] I do not want to exaggerate the position. They are round about 8s. a week, and, with rates, an average of 11s. a week. It is now proposed to pay to an unemployed man and his wife 23s. 3d. a week, out of which 11s. is for rent and rates, leaving a miserable 12s. 3d. a week to find food and clothing and other necessaries essential for family life. As the rent must always be paid, or eviction results, the effect is felt upon the food supply available to the unemployed family. The rent must be paid; therefore they invariably go short of food, and 2s. 9d. per week represents, not abundance of food supply, but, at all events, the bread supply and, perhaps, the margarine supply for a family of two. Therefore, to pretend that because there has been a reduction, as the right hon. Gentleman said of 11½ per cent. in the cost-of-living for the past two years, this reduction is justified, is completely to misunderstand the position. Everyone knows that the unemployed families do go short of food. You have no right to exercise the ingenuity of this Parliament or Government in thrusting further burdens on these unfortunate victims of society.

I put this further point. Costs may rise. We have heard the statement of the Prime Minister to-day. It is an assurance for what it is worth, but even Governments in existing circumstances cannot control prices; all the more so because of the absence of a Consumers' Council Bill or similar legislation. No one knows better than hon. Members on the other side how difficult it is to control prices, but there is at least—I will not over-estimate the position—a probability of prices rising. I put it at the very best, from the standpoint of hon. Members opposite, that prices may rise, and I ask a question of the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope he will furnish me with an answer. If prices should rise, having regard to the Prime Minister's argument, will the unemployment rates be restored? It is a fair question. If you reduce the rates on the assumption that there has been a reduction in the cost of living, then if there is an increase in the cost of living, will the rates be restored? I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will furnish us with an answer, and I hope that he will furnish the Liberal Members with an answer, because they are very anxious to know, and, as the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton told us last Friday, upon the answer to that question depends his vote and that of other Liberal Members.

Further, we are to have an election, and that election is to be fought on tariffs, the imposition of which, it is alleged, will reduce unemployment. It is also said that not only will the imposition of tariffs reduce unemployment, but it will do so speedily, and in the course of the next six months, according to certain experts, by 500,000. What is the obvious conclusion? If it is true that the imposition of tariffs will reduce unemployment—there will not be the steady drain on the fund that was contemplated. A reduction of 500,000 alone will save you your £12,500,000. Therefore, there is no justification for the cut. [Interruption.] At all events, if, as hon. Members opposite allege, this trade revival is to ensue as a result of a change of policy arising from an election, clearly the Unemployment Fund can stand the existing rate.

Photo of Sir Francis Fremantle Sir Francis Fremantle , St Albans

An extra £100,000,000 a year?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Linlithgowshire

The hon. and gallant Member is a little premature. I am not now dealing with the cuts in transitional benefit, nor with increase of contributions, which are ingredients in this question.

I come to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour. He based his case almost exclusively on the difficulties surrounding the Unemployment Insurance Acts. He suggested that the fund could not stand the drain. When the Liberal party sat on these benches, and when the fund was insolvent and frequent borrowings had to be resorted to, did the hon. Gentleman protest and say that we must make a distinction between the insured persons and the recipients of un-covenanted benefit? He sat mum. He waited his opportunity until he became a, Member of the National Government. His political opinions underwent a somersault, and now he is prepared to accept anything to justify the National Government. I understand that he is arguing for a recasting of the whole system of unemployment insurance. If you are going to recast the whole system, for Heaven's sake do it in a calm and not in a panicky atmosphere. Hon. Members on this side agree that the system should be recast. It has either got to be a contributory system or a non-contributory system, but if it is to remain a contributory system, clearly we must extend the field of unemployment insurance. If hon. Members will devote a little attention to the policy adumbrated by the party on this side from time to time in relation to this question and by the Liberal party; we have not forgotten the Yellow Book and the Green Book or the Tartan Book, nor the other paraphernalia, associated with that party. We are quite ready to consider the whole question of unemployment insurance.

Photo of Mr Arthur Steel-Maitland Mr Arthur Steel-Maitland , Tamworth

What are the trades and occupations which the party opposite would wish to bring in?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Linlithgowshire

The right hon. Gentleman is asking for explicit details on a complete scheme of unemployment insurance. He wants to know the trades that are going to be brought in. I advise him to read the minutes of evidence of the Blanesburgh Committee and the Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance. If he is not sufficiently informed at the end of his labours, we will be very glad to furnish him with further information.

Photo of Mr Arthur Steel-Maitland Mr Arthur Steel-Maitland , Tamworth

I have read the minutes of all the evidence, and I am entitled to ask what are the other large trades which hon. Members opposite in their scheme are going to bring in—the railways or what others?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Linlithgowshire

I have replied to the right hon. Member by advising him —[Horn. MEMBERS: "You are running away."] There is no question of running away from the right hon. Gentleman. I have replied to the right hon. Gentleman by informing him that, to begin with, the decision as to the precise trades which have to be drawn into the field of unemployment insurance will he determined by the Labour party as a whole. [interruption.] I am not dealing with the precise details of an unemployment insurance scheme; I am stating a general principle which the Labour party supports and has advocated. There must be an extension of the field of insurance—[Interruption].

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I must ask hon. Members to give the speaker a hearing.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Linlithgowshire

My submission to the Committee is that this is not the time to consider these questions. The right hon. Gentleman who was Minister of Labour will agree that we could hardly consider a scheme of this character, with so many intricacies and profundities, in a moment of panic. It has to be thought out and considered, and not even the National Government, with all its talents, is capable of improvising a scheme that is likely to meet with satisfaction, even in the Tory party. Therefore, when the Parliamentary Secretary based his defence on the re-casting of the scheme and a distinction between one employed person and another, he was merely begging the question.

I want to re-state the position of hon. Members on these benches. We have expressed our objection to all the cuts by voting against the Second Reading of the Economy Bill. We regard it as an attack on the social services and on expenditure which has been all along resented by the Tory party. They have never taken kindly to expenditure on social services. It has been their constant complaint that that expenditure is too high, but no cut, in our view, and with respect to members of the teaching profession, of the police, and of the Services, will be so deeply resented by the workers of this country as this one, and certainly none is so deeply resented by the Labour party. It affects, not a few thousands of people, a mere handful, but vast masses of the population, unfortunate, hapless victims of society; it reduces their purchasing power for the necessaries of life, and is therefore a false economy; and, moreover, it makes an invidious distinction between one unemployed person and another.

In the last three weeks the sacrifice demanded to save the pound has been found to be uncalled for. The pound is rocking on its legs. The cost of living is not reduced, and it may likely rise. Both the arguments for reduction are therefore vitiated, and already the unemployed are showing their resentment. That might have been expected. We on these benches, in a constitutional fashion, share these feelings with the unemployed, and we will demonstrate it in the Lobby this evening.

Photo of Mr John Colville Mr John Colville , Midlothian and Peeblesshire Northern

The hon. Member the late Secretary for Mines claims to have stated the position of those who sit on the benches opposite, and briefly I think I might sum it up as this, that they intend to vote against all and every cut that is proposed at the present time in spite of the fact that their own leaders and the late Cabinet agreed to a- very large number of them. They feel quite untrammelled and untied by any responsibility that their former leaders had, and no doubt that enviable position of freedom heartens them greatly when they go to the country to make their case for voting against the decisions of their own Cabinet.

With regard to this particular cut on unemployment benefit, the hon. Member used certain strange arguments which I should like to investigate. He said that members of the Conservative party, in advocating tariffs, claimed that by that method there would be a reduction in unemployment, a belief which I most earnestly hold, and he said that if that reduction took place, the fund could carry the unemployed who would then be on it. The position is, of course, that the fund has been called upon to carry a very much larger number of persons than it was ever intended to carry. The hon. Member said he was willing to balance the Budget, and presumably to place this fund on a sound basis, yet he is not willing either to support the method of tariffs, that Conservatives suggest, in order to reduce the number on the unemployed list, or the other immediate method which is being resorted to, of cutting down the benefit. How then does he and his party propose to put this fund on a sound basis? It seems to me that hon. Members opposite have no logical position at all.

The hon. Member opened his speech with an attack on employers for reducing wages. He is himself in a position to know better probably than any other Member in this House that the wages of the Scottish miners suffered a reduction through the Act which his Government put through, under which the spread-over system of working was abolished. There are certain times when employers are held to blame for wage reductions which are wholly.out of their control, and that was one of them. The hon. Member, at the conclusion of his speech, said that all this sacrifice was for nothing, because the pound had become rocky already. Therefore, apparently, it did not matter how rocky it was allowed to become now. Surely that way lies madness. I was in Germany at the time when the mark depreciated. [Laughter.] Hon. Members who laugh at this show their lack of understanding of the problem.

Photo of Mr William Carter Mr William Carter , St Pancras South West

In what year was the hon. and gallant Member in Germany?

Photo of Mr John Colville Mr John Colville , Midlothian and Peeblesshire Northern

In 1923 the mark was falling rapidly from day to day. When a workman received his wages on a Friday, they were worth about half as much to him by the following Monday, and the prices in the shops were rising by leaps and bounds. It was a hopeless and difficult position, and the burden fell much more heavily on those people with small incomes than on others. I remember that when I left Cologne I offered the porter who carried my luggage a 10 milliard mark note, which I had still in my possession, and which at par value would be worth £400,000,000. [An Horn. MEMBER: "How generous you were!"] I was; I offered it to the porter, and he refused it because it was not enough, so I gave him sixpence, and be took his hat off!

Mr. WEST rose

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The hon. Member for North Kensington (Mr. West) must understand that when the occupant of the Chair is on his feet, he must not continue standing. I rose to tell the hon. Member that if the hon. and gallant Member who is addressing the Committee refuses to give way, he cannot insist.

Photo of Mr Fielding West Mr Fielding West , Kensington North

I thought he did not refuse, but is the hon. and gallant Member aware that in this House on Thursday or Friday last an hon. Member opposite stated that to compare Germany and this country from a falling mark or inflation point of view was grotesque, stupid and absurd?

Photo of Mr John Colville Mr John Colville , Midlothian and Peeblesshire Northern

I did not hear that speech, but I may say this, that if the policy suggested by the late Secretary for Mines, namely, that sacrifices are not now necessary, was generally adopted, the pound might well go as the mark went. If any such catastrophe took place, the whole of the social services, the whole of the standard of living, which rightly or wrongly we think is the best in the world—and we in this party stand second to none in believing that we are entitled to build up and to hold a certain standard of life—the whole of that would be swept away, and the very people whom hon. Members opposite always profess to represent, namely, the British working class, would be those who would suffer the worst.

I hold most earnestly that never was there more need for caution and care and saneness in our national finance than now, and the events of the last few days have proved it. When we came back first of all this month the word "crisis" produced a ripple of laughter from the benches opposite. Hon. Members, except those on the Front Bench, who had agreed to certain measures to hold the crisis off and who now deny them, laughed at the word "crisis" and did not believe there was such a thing. On the day, however, when it was announced that we had left the Gold Standard, there were a number of hon. Members opposite sitting with very puzzled faces. I had the benefit of seeing them from this side. They were wondering whether there had not been something after all in the suggestion that there was a bit of a crisis and when they heard that we had left the Gold Standard, for one day they were rather silent. Then came the comforting reflection which has been voiced by the late Secretary for Mines this evening: "Oh, the trouble is all over; we have left the Gold Standard, and therefore there is no need for caution. The pound is rocky already."

As I said before, if there ever was need for caution, it is now. We regret that these sacrifices and cuts have had to be made, but we most firmly believe that they are the alternative to something very much worse, something that would strike at the livelihood of every man, woman, and child in this country; and we believe that we are doing right in supporting this Measure in the interests of every member of the community.

Photo of Mr Gordon Macdonald Mr Gordon Macdonald , Ince

I am sure the hon. and gallant Member for North Midlothian (Major Colville) will not expect me to follow him on the line that he has taken, but I would like to say that whatever faults there may have been in the Coal Mines Act, to which he referred, he did not help us in passing it. We recollect his attitude right through the discussion on that Bill, and they are not happy recollections. With regard to the position of Germany and this country, I shall leave him to the interjection made by the hon. Member for North Kensington (Mr. West). What I find in regard to these cuts is, how very few people outside this House speak whole-heartedly in favour of them. I have met scores of Conservative people in ray own Division and have discussed with them the various cuts, but not a single Conservative will say that this cut ought to take place. They tell me stories about married women who go straight from the Employment Exchange to the bank with their unemployment benefit, and about married women who furnish their houses out of unemployment benefit. If these stories are true, there may be something to be said for dealing with the benefits of that type of married woman, but certainly not one of them suggests that that is an argument for reducing the benefit of a genuinely unemployed man or woman.

I find that during this Debate there are four reasons which are put forward why this cut should take place. The ex-Minister of Mines has dealt very effectively with two of them. He has made it clear, with regard to the argument that this cut should take place because it will leave the recipient of unemployment benefit as well off as he was in 1929, that it will not do that. He has also shown that even if it did, it is no argument for the cut taking place, for the simple reason that the benefits paid to the un- employed have never been sufficient, let alone excessive. The ex-Minister of Mines was a member of the Government which increased the payments to unemployed people in 1929. That Government raised the payment to adult dependents from 7s. to 9s., and they did it because they were satisfied that the benefits then being paid were too low.

If we assume that this benefit ought to fluctuate with the cost of living, there would be some argument for taking this 10.per cent. off, but we on this side have never agreed that 17s. for an adult unemployed person is too much. We have never agreed that that figure ought to be reduced. Whatever the dispute between Members of the late Cabinet who are on this side and those who are on the other side, we are behind those on this side in refusing to be parties to this cut. They may have agreed to some of the cuts which they now deny having agreed to. That is possible; I do not know. If they did agree to any of the cuts, which they now deny, no one will suggest that they agreed to this cut. It is because the Prime Minister agreed to this cut that I, although a lifelong admirer of him, could not follow him on this occasion.

A second reason given why this cut ought to be made is the desirability of equality of sacrifice from each section of the nation. The ex-Minister of Mines has made mincemeat of that reason. If the original cuts which were suggested represented equality of sacrifice, any alteration would spoil it. The cuts for the teachers, policemen, and the Services have been revised and reduced; the principle of equality of sacrifice, therefore, is no longer being observed. I do not look upon sacrifice as the giving up of money. I have always defined it to mean the giving up of something essential to life. The imposition of this cut means that for the unemployed. No other cut which is being imposed means the same sacrifice of the essentials of life as.this cut does.

We are further told that it must be imposed because of the attitude of foreign observers to unemployment benefit in this country. When we talk about foreign observers, we ought to be sure whom we mean. Do the workers in France or America object to the unemployed in this country receiving 17s. a week? An American friend who is in work informs me that thousands of his friends NN-ho are not working are in bread lines every day, and not one criticises Great Britain for treating the unemployed better than the unemployed are treated in America. Indeed, they express a desire to be treated similarly. I can understand therefore the financiers and employers in America wanting to lower the benefit here in order to kill the aspirations of the working-class in America for similar treatment. This attitude is not limited to foreign financiers and employers. Home financiers and employers also- object to the payment of 17s. to an unemployed person. A fourth reason which we are given why the cuts should be made is that it would assist us to keep on the Gold Standard. That has gone, however. The hon. and gallant Member for North Midlothian said that there were some puzzled faces on this side when we went off the Gold Standard. As he says, he is in a better position to judge the faces on this side than we are, but we saw the faces on that side of the House, and, if our faces were more puzzled than theirs, well, they must have been puzzled faces!

I do not find that any of the reasons put forward why we should impose this cut will stand examination, and I want to give three reasons why it ought not to be imposed. The present standard of life of the unemployed is so miserably low that no man ought to be a party to lowering it. I would like any Member of the Committee to get up and say that the life now being lived by the unemployed is too comfortable. I would like them to come to my Division and see the cases of men and women with two children living on 30s. a week, facing the accumulation of debts and unable to provide for elementary necessities, and then say that 30s. for those people, who are some of the finest men and women who ever lived, is too much to maintain a decent standard of life.

Photo of Mr George Knight Mr George Knight , Nottingham South

No one has ever said it.

Photo of Mr Gordon Macdonald Mr Gordon Macdonald , Ince

I have got what I wanted from that side of the Committee. It is agreed, then, that the present low standard of life of the unemployed ought not to be lowered. If the hon. and learned Gentleman believes that, I ask him to come into the Lobby to-night with us, in order to show his objection to lowering the standard of life of the unemployed. This cut will aggravate the unemployment problem. It reduces the purchasing power of these people by £12,500,000, every penny of which is spent on necessities. When this money is no longer to be spent, the grocers in my Division will suffer terribly. I fail to see that to reduce the purchasing power of a section of the people who spend every penny of their income will do anything but aggravate and intensify the unemployment problem. This country can afford to pay 17s. to an able bodied unemployed person. The figures given on Friday by the hon. Member for North Kensington clearly show that this country is in a position to get through all its financial difficulties without asking the poorest of the poor, in spite of what was said by the Parliamentary Secretary, to bear this heavy burden.

What worries me most about this proposal is that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be supporting it. Here are two men who have devoted the whole of their lives to building up a movement, the express purpose of which is to secure more humane, reasonable, and equitable distribution of the national wealth. They are now supporting a proposal which means making the distribution of national wealth more inequitable. I know that they are in a difficulty, and were confronted with terrible conditions at the time that they agreed to it. I am sorry that the Prime Minister did not inform those who asked him to agree to this cut, whether Liberal or Conservative leaders, financiers in this country or international financiers—"No, I promise to balance this Budget, and I give a guarantee that I will balance it, but your proposal is contrary to all that I have lived and worked for. I am unable to accept your proposal, and, if you insist upon it, some other person must accept responsibility as Prime Minister. Though I am desirous of balancing the Budget, I am not prepared to balance it by a method contrary to all that I have lived and worked for in the last 30 years of my public life." Had the Prime Minister taken that course, it is quite possible and probable that the Press and the party which are now singing his praises would have villified and reviled him. Had he taken that course, however, he would have been loyal to a life's work in the interests of the victims of a system to change which he and the Chancellor have worked hard for 30 years—a vicious system which accounts for the present deplorable plight of the unemployed.

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

Last time I spoke on this subject was on the Second Reading of the Bill 17 days ago, when I explained the reason why I supported the National Government. Many things have happened since then. The justification of the formation of the National Government was a national emergency and the necessity of trying to save the pound, and it was argued that that could not be done without balancing the Budget, and that the only way to balance the Budget was by economies, and particularly by stopping borrowing for unemployment insurance. I pointed out at the time that it would be far better to make a 19 per cent. cut than to have a depreciated currency with a possible reduction of the value of the benefit by half. Unfortunately, whatever the causes, these good efforts have failed— at any rate, partly failed. Whoever was responsible, it is hard to say. Whether the events were too strong for the Government, or the causes were quite beyond their control, the fact remains that the pound has gone, and, as the ex-Minister of Mines quite rightly pointed out, the upward rise of prices has commenced.

It is probable that the gallant attempts of the Government to balance the Budget may secure the national credit and enable us to buy what. we require at such prices that the real brunt of the departure from the pound will not be felt. There is reason to believe, however, that already prices are, rising, and that the 30s. that the unemployed man and his wife are getting will not, in a very few weeks, buy as much as at present. It is not very dangerous to prophesy that the purchasing power of that 30s., unless some exceptional circumstances prevent it, will be decreased by at least 10 per cent. I am sorry that we have only the Parliamentary Secretary here, though his answer to what I am about to say will be favourable tome. I want to see here the Minister of Health or the Lord Privy Seal or the Prime Minister. If that is the whole story, it may be safer to keep the present Government in power and retain our credit rather than try any experiments. But I understand, if the Press are to be believed, that on top of the rise in prices because of the departure from the Gold Standard, a tariff is to be imposed either without an election or after an election.

I am one of those old-fashioned people —I have no doubt some of my hon. Friends behind me say that I am quite wrong—who believe that a tariff either for Protection or revenue purposes must inevitably result in a rise in prices. Before I give my vote for this 10 per cent. cut in unemployment benefit I want an undertaking—not from my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, who, if I know anything of him, will prefer to give up his post as a Minister rather than depart from his life-long attachment to Free Trade. I want to know from a responsible Minister if the Government will give an undertaking that on top of the advance in prices which has arisen from circumstances which may have been beyond the control of the Government a further rise in prices will not be imposed artificially by a general tariff. I have read, which is rather natural, my own speech on 11th September, and I have read also the speech made by the Prime Minister, in which he put the case most fairly. He said: I and my colleagues here who preferred this straightforward way have taken so much per cent. off and are basing the so much per cent. off upon decreases in the cost of living and the increase in the value of money Before that he had said: You can impose a 10 per cent. or 20 per cent. revenue tariff on imports and to that extent make a cut directly.… You can do that and make invisible cuts in that way."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th September, 1931; cols. 431 and 432, Vol. 256.] I agree with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister of the National Government that if we are to make cuts it is far more honest to make them openly and fairly rather than to do it by imposing tariffs or by depreciated currency; but this is the three-card trick, as far as I can understand it. The currency is depreciating, there is to be a tariff which will increase prices, and on top of it the 10 per cent. cut. [An HON. MEMBER: "Where's the lady?"] It is what is called, in the parlance of my hon. Friend behind me, "the confidence trick." I am sure that is not the intention of the Government. I have a shrewd suspicion that the reason why the Treasury Bench is so empty is that the Cabinet are now meeting and trying to make up their minds. As one of the Liberal Members who are still Free Traders, and still believe that a tariff increases prices, I say that before the Government ask us to vote to-night they should make it clear, either through the Prime Minister or some responsible Minister, that it is not their intention, on the top of these cuts, to impose a revenue tariff which will still further decrease the value of unemployment benefit.

Photo of Mr Joseph Alpass Mr Joseph Alpass , Bristol Central

The proposal to reduce unemployment pay which we on this side are opposing with all our strength affects so seriously and so vitally such a very large number of my constituents, because a very large proportion of the unemployed in Bristol are in my Division, that I feel that I should be failing in my duty to them and not discharging my duty to my conscience if I permitted this occasion to pass with a silent vote. We have always maintained that the principle which differentiated the Labour party from the other parties was concern for the unemployed. Our slogan at election times has always been: "Work or maintenance," and I say without hesitation that the Prime Minister would not have been Prime Minister but for the votes recorded for him and his supporters at the last General Election by the unemployed. He visited my city just before that election, and if there was one thing in the Labour party's election programme which he emphasised more than another in his speech it was that if we were returned to power we would first of all endeavour to provide useful productive employment for the workers but failing that, would see that they were adequately maintained. Since Parliament re-assembled taunts have been thrown across the Floor of the House about people running away. I suggest that on this question, which to us is one of vital principle, it is not we on this side who have run away from our principles, but that the Prime Minister and those who accompanied him into this National Government have deserted the principles which they have asked us to support when we were appealing to the electorate.

There is a great deal of loose thinking and loose talking about the treatment of the unemployed. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend who spoke just now. When you discuss unemployment benefit with persons who are comfortably off they immediately quote to you instances of persons whom they know who ought not to be receiving it. I submit that that is not the issue at all. We on this side have proved by our support of Bills introduced last Session that we have never advocated giving assistance out of public funds to the work shy. I would, however, remind hon. Members that the work shy are not confined to one section of society. It is a question of whether or not we are to treat genuine unemployed persons, out of work through no fault of their own, but victims of the present state of society, as human beings. I submit that the proposal before us is inhumane, monstrously unjust, wasteful and uneconomical. I have had something to do with agricultural work. What would be said of a farmer who, when his horses were not wanted for work in the fields, put them on short insufficient rations? Animals are fed and looked after equally when they are not at work as when they are working. If that is a wise and economical thing to do in the case of animals how much more is it wise and just that human beings should be maintained in a state of efficiency? Think how racehorses are treated when they are not racing. I am informed that it costs more to keep a racehorse in condition a week than an unemployed man and his wife are going to receive for a whole month.

The other day I addressed a question to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry asking the number of persons in my city who will be affected by these cuts. The answer was 10,500. I have made a calculation of the effect upon the spending power of the unemployed in Bristol, and at a modest estimate it means that when these cuts are in operation during the ensuing 12 months there will be at least £100,000 less spent in the shops there. "At least," I say, because I prefer to err on the side of moderation. There are in my division scores and scores of little shopkeepers, people who, under the late Government's proposal, had their assessments very seriously raised and have to pay much higher rates as a result of what was done by the Tory Government. They are finding it very difficult to make both ends meet now. These cuts in unemployment pay will mean that the persons upon whom they depend for custom will have their purchasing power very seriously reduced.

I said just now that we are concerned about the treatment of the genuinely unemployed, and I resent with all the strength with which I can express it the innuendo made across the floor of the House by, if he will allow me to say so, the hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Culverwell) that the unemployed spend their money foolishly and unwisely, and the suggestion that many persons are getting benefit who do not want work. The other week we had a conference in Bristol organised by the Bristol Unemployed Association. If I may make the suggestion with all respect to other hon. Members, I would commend this association to them. It has been the means of keeping the unemployed together. They have meetings twice a week at which they ventilate their grievances, and appoint some of their numbers to go as deputations to various bodies and confer with them, and in that way they have been able to ease their grievances. The hon. Member for West Bristol knows all about it, because he went down there one morning to see them, and got severely heckled, and they hope to give him a similar dose later on. This association has done valuable work in assisting these unfortunate people who are out of work.

A conference was called not long ago to which delegates were sent from all kinds of institutions—Liberal, Unionist, Labour, the Churches, and so on. In the afternoon the conference was addressed by the Bishop of Malmesbury. No one will say that he was biased in favour of Labour, and he deliberately made the statement that from his own experience lie could assert without fear of contradiction that the great bulk of the unemployed were most anxious to obtain work. The manager of the Bristol Employment Exchange, in answer to a question on this important point, said he was prepared to say, from his knowledge of the persons who registered at the Employment Exchange in Bristol, that at least 98 per cent. were desirous of obtain- ing employment and anxious to get it. Therefore, I think we can dismiss any suggestion that we on this side, in opposing these cuts, are pleading for payments for persons who are not deserving. As regards the suggested justification for these cuts, we were told, first of all, that they were necessary in order to balance the Budget. I refuse absolutely to believe that in. a Budget containing provisions for debt services amounting to £322,000,000, and for over £100,000,000 to be spent on armaments for the destruction of human life, it was beyond the wit of statesmanship to devise means of balancing that Budget without inflicting this serious cut on the unemployed.

Then we were told that if we did not balance it in that way there would have been a flight from the pound. We agree that the Prime Minister said he did not want to do it, and that it pained him to do it, but that it had to be done in order to maintain financial stability. Recent happenings have completely destroyed all the arguments put forward in support of that. Some of us fear, in fact, we have very strong reason to believe, that the true inwardness of this attack upon the unemployed is that it is really a veiled threat against working class wage standards throughout the country. I am fortified in that belief by something which appeared in an organ which an hon. Member on the other side is responsible for editing. He is a great friend of one of the late Chancellors of the Exchequer; perhaps hon. Members can identify him by that statement. This is what appeared, not in the "Daily Herald," but in the "Financial News" of 10th September; The reform of unemployment insurance and the reduction in unemployment benefit should hasten the adjustment of wages to the fall in price levels. 5.0 p.m.

My contention is supported up to the very hilt when I say that this attack upon unemployment benefit is only an indirect attack upon wages of the workers throughout the country. If I may use a military simile, it is getting rid of the first line of defence. A man who was speaking to me the other day said that the agricultural workers are receiving only 30s. a week while an unemployed man, with two children, is receiving the same amount. I think that is more an argument for increasing the wages of agricultural workers than reducing the unemployment benefit.

I would like to deal next with a suggestion which has been made by the Prime Minister. I say in all humility that I have been a follower of the Prime Minister ever since I have been in public life, and I do not, think that any statement which I ever heard from a public man pained me more than the pitiable plea of the Prime Minister which was broadcast, in which he tried to justify the statement that the unemployed would be 1½ per cent. better off under the reduced unemployment benefit than they were before 1929. That statement when it was made did not correspond with the facts because it omitted to take into account the very important factor of rent. The ex-Secretary for Mines mentioned cases of unemployed men who were paying a rent of 8s. a week. I have in my own Division unemployed men paying 10s. and 11s. per week rent. Not only that, but there are many working men in my constituency who pay from 8s. to 10s. a week for one miserable room to live in.

What about the position to-day? The Prime Minister told us at Question Time to-day that the Government intend to take certain steps if the cost of living increases. I would like to call the attention of hon. Members to a trade circular which I have received. This is something that took place last Tuesday morning, the very next day after the Government decided to go off the Gold Standard. The circular to which I refer was issued by one of the largest importers in South West England, including Bristol, and it was sent out to all their travellers on the Tuesday. This firm are tea importers. Tea is an article which the unemployed are almost bound to use, and it is an article which is consumed in a working-class family more than anything else. This circular which was sent out to the travellers last Tuesday said: Advance loose teas under 1s. per 1b. by 1½d. and over 1s. per 1b. by 2d.; Sun-Maid raisins by 4s. per cwt.; sultanas"— and so-on and so-on. There are instructions all down the list directing their travellers to increase the prices of those commodities which they stock. This was not a question of articles for which this firm were waiting for delivery, but they were articles for which they had not to pay a single farthing increase. Is not that exploiting the necessities of the people by persons who will, no doubt, go on Tory platforms, and pose as patriots? I think that disproves most conclusively the statement of the Prime Minister about the unemployed being better off, because it has been entirely falsified by the rise in prices.

I will now refer to what I call the human side of this question. The unemployed are members of the same community as ourselves, and, if we believe what we heard yesterday in our churches and chapels, they are members of the same human family as ourselves. On this side of the House, we claim that the unemployed are members of the same human family as ourselves, with the same aspirations, the same feelings, and the same desires. We have no hesitation in saying that the proposals we are now discussing are an attempt to depress the already low standard of life of the unemployed, and this can truly be described as inhuman and un-Christian. This reduction in the unemployment benefit will mean, the deprivation of actual necessities of life and real suffering among the unemployed, and it will take place at a time when there is a world abundance and too much of everything in the world that we require to live upon with decency. What a parody all this is upon the working of the capitalist system.

We have been told that our Socialist proposals will not work, but see how the capitalist system is working. There is too much of everything, and during a time of abundance the only advice given by the Government to the unemployed is "tighten your belts." What a parody on the principle of equality of sacrifice. An unemployed man and his wife receive Ns, unemployment pay, and out of that 10s. goes for rent, and it is proposed to reduce that amount by 2s. 9d. On the other hand, the Super-tax payer is being asked in this emergency to pay only 3 or 4 per cent. extra out of his income. One of the strongest indictments against the present system, in our opinion, has always been that it produces great inequalities in the conditions of our people. There is grinding poverty on the one side, and riches, often used unwisely, on the other. The operation of these cuts will deepen that gulf, and cause more bitterness and keen resentment. As long as I remain in this House, and have any influence here, I will face and fight this attack upon the poorest and most unfortunate of our people, and I will never, under any circumstances or any leadership, be a consenting party to driving these poor people still further into the depths of poverty and destitution.

Photo of Mr Cyril Culverwell Mr Cyril Culverwell , Bristol West

I think we may take what has been said by the hon. Member for Central Bristol (Mr. Alpass) as a prelude to what he will state on the public hustings in a few weeks' time. The hon. Member has referred to the Bristol Unemployed Association, and I have no doubt that the speech which he has just made, or similar speeches, will be well received when he goes again to that hot-bed of Socialism in his own constituency. The unemployed association which has been formed in Bristol is an admirable sounding box for the hon. Member for Central Bristol—

Photo of Mr Joseph Alpass Mr Joseph Alpass , Bristol Central

I would like to ask the hon. Member if he is not aware that the Unemployed Association of Bristol is a non-political association which has invited people of all shades of opinion to address its members, including himself.

Photo of Mr Cyril Culverwell Mr Cyril Culverwell , Bristol West

That association is as much non-political as the Trades Union Congress or the Co-operative Societies. I have made speeches to the unemployed in Bristol, but most of my speeches were treated with derision, and I drew the conclusion that the hon. Member for Central Bristol was much more welcome among them than I was. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members opposite say, "Hear, hear!" and I think that bears out what I have just said. The hon. Member for Central Bristol has just made an excellent electioneering speech much in the same tone as the speeches which were made by hon. Members opposite at the last Election, and which will, no doubt, attract votes from those who are prepared to suck in anything that a Socialist candidate tells them. I do not think that such arguments will appeal to those who were so grossly deceived at the last Election by hon. Members opposite, and they will be ready to support some better candidates when the next election comes along.

The hon. Member for Central Bristol spoke of a number of persons who would be affected in Bristol by the proposed cuts, and said that the shopkeepers of Bristol would suffer through a reduction of the purchasing power of the unemployed. That is perfectly true. The Government of this country does not exist to increase the purchasing power of the people who are out of work. The object of unemployment benefit is to provide subsistence for those who are unemployed, and it is not the intention that they should be given a maintenance allowance equal to those people who are employed. In these circumstances, to talk about reducing the purchasing power of the people is beside the point. The late Secretary for Mines at the commencement of his speech spoke of the complete failure of the Conservative Government during 4½ years to deal with the unemployment problem, and he twitted that Government with failure, forgetting the effect of the General Strike. [Interruption.] I would like to point out to hon. Members that even now we are suffering from that great industrial, economic upheaval, which I still believe has had a serious effect upon the present industrial situation. All that the Socialist Government succeeded in doing in 2½ years was to more than double the number of unemployed, although they spent many millions of money on relief works which, instead of providing useful work, concealed the real volume of unemployment.

The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mir. Shinwell) twitted the hon. and learned Member for Rusholme (Sir B. Merriman) on the example which he gave of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers. I understand that he questioned my hon. Friend's facts, although, as I thought, my hon. Friend gave them very fairly. The hon. Gentleman asked what was the analogy between what a trade union did in face of financial stringency and what the State did. Surely, what hon. Members opposite should do when the country is faced with financial stringency is to act in exactly the same way as they would where their own pockets or the pockets of their unions were concerned. What distinction is there between the manner in which the affairs of State should be conducted, and the public Exchequer managed, and the manner in which any responsible trade union official should manage the financial affairs of his union? If it is necessary, in these hard times, for a large and responsible trade union to reduce the benefits which it allows to its members, and without any protest from hon. Members opposite, so far as I know—none of the howls of abuse that have gone up from the other side were raised in this House until a, Conservative Member mentioned that a prominent trade union was reducing its benefits—is it wrong that we in this Committee should consider whether it is not necessary for us also to effect economies, to tighten the purse-strings? [Interruption.] Yes; what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

The hon. Gentleman asked, when did hon. Members on this side of the House take the trade unions as an example? One case occurred to me while he was speaking. That was when hon. Members opposite succeeded in abolishing the "not genuinely seeking work" Clause in the Unemployment Insurance Scheme, and when we reminded them that that very same Clause was in force in several trade unions of this country and that what was good enough for a trade union in preventing persons from drawing benefit who did not deserve it was good enough for the administration of this country. Hon. Members opposite are crying out against this cut, and the hon. Gentleman said that they would vote with glee against all the cuts. It is perfectly true that they voted against every cut, whether they agreed with it or not; it did not seem to matter to them what their leaders had agreed to a few days before. I have seen nothing more mean or contemptible than the manner in. which hon. Members opposite have treated those responsible leaders of the Socialist party who stuck to their guns and carried out their duty. I have known nothing so mean or contemptible in political history as the way in which those responsible leaders, who have done more than anyone else to build up the strength and power of the Socialist party, are now turned upon and called the villains of the piece by hon. Members opposite who are not fit to lick their boots. [Interruption.]

Hon. Members opposite may not like what I am saying, but this is what the country is saying of them. The country does not regard as dignified the manner in which they are backing away from their duty in order to catch votes, which is their sole purpose. Does anyone think that the hon. Member for Central Bristol has any greater concern for the unemployed than the Member for West Bristol, namely, myself? Certainly not; we are just as much concerned about the unemployed as are hon. Members opposite. But we do not lead them into the realms of Socialist fancy and promise them things which we know are incapable of fulfilment. The unemployed and other workers have found out hon. Members opposite, as they will learn to their cast at the next election, the hon. Member for Central Bristol among them.

The hon. Gentleman made no mention of the reasons for this cut. He made no mention of the crisis in which we find ourselves, of the fall of the Gold Standard, or of any of those circumstances which have dictated and enforced some reduction of public expenditure. He never mentioned the way in which our Unemployment Insurance scheme has fallen into contempt in the other countries of the world. I am not saying whether that is right or wrong. Hon. Members opposite will agree that there have been many abuses or our Unemployment Insurance system, which they have encouraged and extended by their legislation, but it is a fact, whether they like it or not, that our Unemployment Insurance scheme is regarded as a test of our dealing with our financial affairs. That may be right or it may be wrong. I think it may be taken as a fact that there are certain grounds for concern and dissatisfaction in foreign countries and in our Dominions at the manner in which we have dealt with this problem, and hon. Members opposite have not made any suggestion as to how we can satisfy those countries, upon whose support we rely, that we are determined to put our house in order, or as to how we are to satisfy the men of the Navy, for instance, who, it was considered, would accept the cut in their pay provided that that cut was also extended to unemployment benefit. We have heard nothing from hon. Members opposite as to what else we could have done which would have had the same effect in gaining us foreign support—[An HON. MEMBER: "And a loan !] Yes, in gaining for us foreign confidence coupled with the loan that was required at that time.

Hon. Members opposite can talk as much as they like about the condition of the unemployed, but I would point out to the hon. Member for Central Bristol that there is no necessity for any unemployed man to starve. No one expects the unemployed man to enjoy the same standard of living as a man who is in work; unemployment benefit was never given for that purpose, as I have already pointed out; but there is no necessity for an unemployed man to starve. He can go to the public assistance committee just as he has done hitherto, and there is no necessity for him to starve under the elaborate arrangements for social services which successive Governments have brought into operation in this country. I believe that hon. Members opposite will be greatly mistaken if they think that the mass of their constituents view with as much alarm as they do this cut in unemployment benefit, and the tightening up of the regulations under which unemployed persons can draw benefit. The Minister of Labour gave some remarkable figures the other day of the number of insured persons who have drawn benefit, and I was amazed, as I think many hon. Members opposite were, to find that more than half the insured population have never drawn a penny of benefit. I do not think that those persons will object to the regulations being tightened up and to its being made more difficult for persons to receive benefit who are not really in need of it. I think they will be anxious to protect the fund to which they have contributed. If hon. Members opposite think that they are going to make a special appeal to the unemployed at the next election, they will have a rude awakening. The fact of the matter is that the Socialist party has built up its strength and power on its promises to the people in the mad scramble for votes, with one candidate outvying another. We have seen them in power for 2½ years, and they have failed lamentably to carry out a tithe of what they promised.

I believe that this crisis was inevitable. I believe that we should never have brought ourselves down to earth, and compelled ourselves and the country to facie the hard facts which we have to face to-day, if things had not come to a head as they have. I do not believe that those who supported hon. Members opposite at the last election would have believed Members of the Conservative or any other party who told them the truth, until that truth was forced upon them by the inexorable march of events. People no longer believe that you can go on getting 9d. for 4d., that you can go on spending more than your income; and people no longer believe that this country is so impregnable as they thought. They realise at last that we are exactly like any other country in the world, and that we have to cut our coat according to our cloth—that we have to make our expenditure conform to our income, that we have to command the confidence of other countries, so that we may trade to the mutual benefit of both sides. Hon. Members opposite have ignored these facts in their scramble for votes, have refused to tell the people the truth, have scoffed at us on this side because we had said for years that this country was coming to exactly the state in which we find it to-day—

Mr. MACLEAN:

If hon. Members opposite saw all these things, will the hon. Gentleman explain to the House and to the country why the party that he supported gave £400,000,000 back to France, and over £100,000,000 to Italy?

Photo of Mr Cyril Culverwell Mr Cyril Culverwell , Bristol West

I fail to see what that has to do with the argument—

Mr. MACLEAN:

You cannot give £1 a week to the unemployed.

Photo of Mr Cyril Culverwell Mr Cyril Culverwell , Bristol West

That remark would be irrelevant in any case, but, coming from the hon. Member, it is particularly irrelevant, because I understood that he was always in favour of abolishing all Reparations and War Debts. I was saying that this crisis has been predicted for years by Members on this side of the House, and I do not believe that those who supported hon. Members opposite, who sucked in the bait offered to them at the last election, would ever have believed our present position to be possible if it had not come about as it has to-day. Now that people are realising that we are not in an impregnable position, but that we have to suit our expenditure to what we earn, I believe that the people of this country will wake up, and, unlike hon. Members opposite, will face the facts, and not run away and leave their responsible leaders to hold the baby. I believe that, as always, if they are told their duty, if the facts are put before them, as they will be at the next election, the people of this country will not listen to the ravings and promises of hon. Members opposite, but will act in the best interests of the country, and will accept willingly those cuts which are in the public interest, believing that those cuts and those reductions in the standard of living which may be essential in a temporary emergency will eventually pave the way for greater prosperity and a higher standard of living in the future.

Photo of Mr William Leonard Mr William Leonard , Glasgow St Rollox

I do not know if my remarks will be taken as an election address or not, but I have endeavoured to ascertain what degree of responsibility for the present position can be placed at the door of those who are subject to attendance at the Employment Exchanges. I represent thousands of what I believe to be persons of the labouring class who have had nothing other than a lifelong struggle for life, and right throughout that life have had a keen desire to give service to the country. In addition, I represent thousands of artisans who have been brought up by their parents, those parents having given much time to see that a trade was given to them, and who had expectations that the skill at their finger ends and their ability would be used on behalf of the country. Notwithstanding my endeavour to ascertain responsibility on those shoulders I cannot do so. Against that, I see them fast getting into a stage where their progressive inability to bear any extra burden becomes more apparent from time to time. They have in the past been subject to lectures on the great advantages that science and invention give to the world, and they have looked from time to time to see how it affects them. But I regret to say that, there again, whatever was supposed to percolate through to them has not been very evident.

I have endeavoured to go to authentic sources for information. I looked up the report of the Government inquiry into trade and industry, issued a few years ago, and I find that in the 17 years preceding that report the number of workers had increased by 17 per cent. and the productivity per head of those workers had increased by no less than 96 per cent., whereas the net values left in the hands of the people who control the system increased in the same period by 131 per cent.; and the working people are entitled to ask why it is that the greatly increased values that are accruing have not reached them.

Coming much closer, the "Statist" of 21st June last year said the production increase in the main industries of the country only since 1924 had been 11 per cent. The increase per head of the workers in the industry was 21 per cent. I, therefore, assert that the men who are performing the task of keeping this country in the forefront of the nations of the world should not be expected to bear the impositions that are included in the Orders-in-Council contained in the Schedule. I have heard a reference to the question of what insurance should be, and it brought to my mind a statement of the Prime Minister on the wireless to the effect that unemployment insurance was never intended to be a living wage, and that it was not a living wage. I should he prepared to accept that conception of industrial insurance if the people subject to it were only subject to intermittent unemployment, but, when unemployment is their normal condition, in justice they must have a living wage. It has been said that our speeches on this side have been intended for election purposes. I have here a booklet issued by the Conservative party during the recent by-election that I figured in telling what the Unionists have done for this country. With what it contains I am not concerned, but I certainly agree with the statement contained in the cover of the leaflet. It is from no less a person than Benjamin Disraeli, and he said: Power has only one duty—to secure the social welfare of the people. I hope that, when power does come to those with whom I am associated, that will be their objective and they will pursue it with courage, and in my opinion they will ultimately succeed. A spectacle that I saw on my way to the House sums the position up very well. I saw in a tube train a man, well groomed, with a tall hat. I thought that showed that he occupied a status in society different from my own. Before I watched very long I saw that he had brass buttons on his coat, which indicated clearly that he was in service of some sort. Then I noticed a strong bag between his feet, and to the bag was attached a chain, which was attached to his wrist. It appears to me that that is the position that industry is in to-day —attached by a chain to the banks.

If I had to put anything further supporting that, I should like to suggest that it is contained in a readable pamphlet written to explain the position in Australia. I am not prepared to accept that there is any such thing as an economic blizzard. There is a blizzard of a financial type, but certainly not an economic one. I accept the point of view of Professor Gustav Cassel, who is supposed to be an international authority on finance and economics. He tells us: Once the general public begins to realise that the extraordinary calamity which has overtaken the world in the last year is in no way a consequence of economic necessity, but simply a result of faults in the management of central banks, and of an insufficient co-operation between them, the demand for a thorough reform in this sphere will grow so strong that all resistance will have to give way. I believe that, and I, therefore, resent the intrusion of unemployment in the Orders-in-Council. Further, he states: If, on the other hand, the responsibility of central banks for the value of their money is not now definitely established and recognised, it seems pretty sure that the world will have to go through again, in some few years, a similar catastrophe. Therefore, I suggest that we should attend to the matter right now and hope that in the future no catastrophe will attend us because of our lack of vision on this occasion.

Photo of Mr Harold Balfour Mr Harold Balfour , Isle of Thanet

It falls to my lot to have the privilege of expressing my appreciation, and, I think, that of Members on all side of the Committee, of the contribution to our Debates that the hon. Member has just made. I feel particularly pleased at having this opportunity, as one of my relatives once had the honour of representing St. Rollox. Although we may disagree partly with what the hon. Member says, we shall all look forward to further contributions from him. The speech of the ex-Minister for Mines, indeed, would give one ample scope to answer his points for a considerable period of time. He generalised and gave us what my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) called a dress rehearsal. He is getting word perfect in his part and his chorus behind him is coming in at the right moment. What I really took exception to was the spirit in which he abrogated to himself and his friends behind him all the right of representing the working class and all the monopoly of a desire for better conditions and attributed to this side nothing but venom and a desire to tread down those who are less fortunate than others. I do not think that is a very fair statement to make, particularly if the hon. Gentleman studies the political history of the Conservative party. He said we are a party who have always gone against social services, and whose policy would be to reduce unemployment benefit to a lower level. In recent years many social services are due to the action of Tory Governments, and unemployment administration has been perfected and its machinery made efficient under past Conservative Governments.

Nevertheless, in spite of opposing everything that the hon. Gentleman says, and in spite of taking exception to the spirit in which he delivered his remarks, I want to go right out to ask the Minister of Labour some questions and to draw attention to certain aspects of this problem with which we are faced to-day. I assume that it is agreed on all sides of the House, and among all citizens, that, if we are to have an efficient industrial system, if we are now to embark on a new age of industrialism, three necessary components of a successful system are essential, namely, free capital, modern and efficient plant, and virile and keen labour. A question I have been asking myself is whether, since these cuts were put forward, circumstances have altered in any way so as to render it unlikely that a supply of virile, keen and healthy labour will be assured. I rather think that present circumstances may endanger that supply. It has been said the cuts were made when the pound was at parity. The suspension of the Gold Standard is for six months, but I believe industry will see that we have no precipitate return to it, and, therefore, I submit that the problem of these unemployment cuts must be looked at with a view to the solution being a permanent one and not one just for a short period of six months as the Bill might suggest.

Whether the proposals before us before we came off the Gold Standard left the unemployed 1½ per cent. better off than they were previously, as the Prime Minister said, is quite irrelevant to the present situation, firstly, because the cost-of-living index, as issued by the Ministry of Labour, is not a true reflection of the cost of living for the average unemployed man. It takes into account such items as eggs, and classes of meat and other things that do not figure in the average budget of the unemployed man. A second reason is that it is only right that, when men who are in work are cut, we will say, 10 per cent., others who are out of work and are living on money from public funds should bear a burden at least equal to those who are in work, provided that the cut does not bring those men below a certain datum line of minimum subsistence.

Photo of Mr Harold Balfour Mr Harold Balfour , Isle of Thanet

I subscribe to the policy enunciated from these benches that unemployment benefit was never intended to be full maintenance, but we have slipped into a state, now that we have nearly 3,000,000 unemployed, that we must at least realise that, if it is not maintenance, it must at any rate be a level of sustenance. The hon. Member opposite interjected and asked me "What is that datum line?" I cannot tell him exactly what that datum line is—I might ask him why he was asking that question—but it is a line which can be ascertained from Government publications, chiefly from the Ministry of Health. It is a line that varies according to the particular locality in the country, but nevertheless it is a line which can be ascertained for each particular industrial area. It is my fear and doubt now as to whether in the future these cuts are going to bring us below that minimum subsistence datum line.

It is no good blinking the facts. We have pursued in the past a policy of dependence for our food supplies upon foreign supplies. We have allowed our land to be sacrificed in the past to the cry of cheap food for the towns at all costs, and now we are going to reap the benefit of that because of our dependence upon foreign imports of food. It is no good denying that the de-valued pound is likely at some time in the future in some measure to raise the cost of living. I do not know how great or how small the rise is going to be. I cannot tell when it will come about, but, when it does, if the benefits which we are about to reduce still leave us above that datum line nobody will be more pleased than I, and I should advocate a continuance of these cuts because I feel, as I said just now, that the man in work has a right to expect the man drawing public funds to bear an equal sacrifice. But if the subsistence datum line fell with the reduced benefits I should very seriously consider whether we should not bring those benefits up, at any rate, to the subsistence datum line. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour whether he has in mind any machinery which can be brought into operation in the future to prevent a fall below the minimum datum line?

I will give an example of what I have indicated. You have a man in work drawing 50s. a week and you cut him down by 10 per cent. to 45s. You have a man drawing 26s. a week for himself and his wife and family and you cut him down to 23s. 3d. The cut is 10 per cent. in each case, but I submit that it is not a true comparison, because you have to take the comparative distance of the two cut salaries from the minimum datum line. If the minimum datum line was 20s. in the present circumstances, the 50s. a week man would be 125 per cent. above the minimum datum line, and the 23s. 3d. man would be 17½ per cent. above the datum line. Let me make the position clear. I should continue to support that cut. But suppose the 17½ per cent. margin went and we were 10 per cent. below the minimum datum line, I feel that such a cut should not be brought about and that there should be some machinery to restore the level to that particular line. It will be a false economy in national interests and for the future of industry if we allow ourselves to fall below that line to any great extent. At any rate, I cannot be accused by the Committee of trying to obtain votes in an industrial area, because in my particular locality there are, fortunately, comparatively few unemployed. I feel that in the great areas where there are millions of unemployed, many of whom have been unemployed for three or four years, it is essential, even if they are never going to be employed again in their lives, at least for the good of this country, that the women, the mothers and the children, and the future mothers must have a scale of nutrition which is going at least—to put it on the most material basis—to assure us of a supply of efficient and healthy labour for our industrial requirements in future years.

I know that the right hon. Gentleman may reply to me that the children's allowances have not been cut down—a perfectly good point—but the children's allowances, after all, we all know, are lumped into the family budget at the end of the week. I am thankful that the children's allowances have not been cut down, but the fact that they have not merely increases slightly the safety margin clearance of that particular family above the datum line of minimum sustenance. The late Secretary for Mines assumes that nobody cares at all, except his friends on that side of the House, for the future of the country, for the physique of the unemployed people and their dependents. Perhaps there are others as well as he who read the Ministry of Health reports of what happened in South Wales. Perhaps there are others beside himself who have gone to industrial areas and seen the changes which have been effected. And there are others beside himself who realise the distress in this country, and there are others beside the hon. Gentleman and hon. Members opposite who want to put things right. We cannot afford to clog the wheels of industry in the future by running the risk of an unhealthy and a diseased population grown up from rickety and semi-starved children. Good Tory as I am, I am not going to see that, if I can possibly avoid it. Therefore, I submit that the answer to my first question, "Have circumstances altered?" is, they have not altered yet, but they might alter at some time in the future, and we must make provision for that alteration if, and when, it comes about.

I want to ask a second question. What method would be possible to ensure that this datum line, which I feel, in the national interests, must not be gone below, will be retained, if not in individual, at least in the national interests? I only ask the Government to have that machinery ready if, and when, that eventuality has to beef aced up to. Have the machinery ready to ascertain the datum line, and have the machinery ready to make the particular adjustment. I make one suggestion—it is a suggestion which I am not going to elaborate and one to which hon. Members opposite always object strongly—that there should be some form of cost-of-living kind allowances. When I say cost-of-living, I do not mean the Ministry of Health cost-of-living. I mean a datum line cost-of-living. There should be some cost-of-living kind allowances to bring benefits up to the minimum datum line.

One argument put forward by hon. Gentlemen opposite against these cuts in benefit is the loss of £12,800,000 of purchasing power. Suppose the datum line only allowed 5 per cent., 1s. in the pound. That £6,400,000 of savings would be gone ! I submit that by some system of cost-of-living kind allowances there would be a great deal of that £6,400,000 coming back through the distribution, retail and wholesale trades, and down to the manufacturers of this country if the benefits were given out in that kind. I put the suggestion forward. It is not for me but for the Government to devise the machinery, and I should like some assurance that some machinery is going to be brought about. Finally, in case anything I have said may be misrepresented, I advocate no tampering with other proposals. The state of the fund and the finding of the Royal Commission have rendered the increased contribution and the means test to those who have passed off actuarially sound benefit absolutely necessary. But I do see the danger of this under-nourished population. I do not want people to take public money who have no right to do so. I am all for having this means test, but when it is obtained, do not spoil the ship for a halfpenny worth of tar, and let us see to it that the health of the future generation is secured.

Mr. LONGOEN:

The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Captain Balfour) certainly implied a touch of understanding as far as the unemployed are concerned, but I disagree with him fundamentally as to the cure of the problem. His concern about the datum line is one thing, and his concern about retaining a disordered state of society which inevitably sends men down to subsistence level is quite another thing. His point is interesting, but perhaps I may take it from another angle. When our opponents tell us that we must have equality of sacrifice, it is as well that we should understand actually where we are. In the first place, it is clear that sixpence in the pound upon the Income Tax payer is not nearly such a burden as the loss of sixpence to an unemployed man. Any economist will tell us that every additional sixpence off the £ diminishes its intrinsic value, yet here we are not merely asking the unemployed to take 6d in the £ less, but 2s. in the £ less. Clearly, as I see this particular cut, it is, to quote Shakespeare, the most unkindest cut of all. 6.0 p.m.

It is the meanest imposition of a mean Bill of a very mean Government, indeed. They expect, it seems, an unemployed man to live for a week upon 15s. 3d., a full grown woman upon 13s. and a man, wife and child upon 23s. 3d. Obviously, they are expecting a man, woman and child to live a whole week in all their being upon as large a sum as hon. Gentlemen opposite spend at a dinner or upon their pet dogs during the week. In my division people are getting wages, let alone unemployment benefit, of which they have to pay from one-third to a half in rent. That is the infamous situation which is being worsened by the present cut in unemployment benefit. In addition, we know that the cost of living is increasing. The pound has already gone down, and to the extent to which it goes down in value so also does it go down in purchasing power as far as concerns the matter of buying goods from abroad which we cannot ourselves produce. It enables the foreigners to buy British goods more cheaply, and it makes us pay more for the goods that we have to buy from abroad. Naturally, as the "Manchester Guardian" points out to-day, commodity prices are already going up in the hands of the retailers. On the top of all that, when the unemployed people have received this miserable pittance for 26 weeks, they are to be placed in the hands of the public assistance authorities, to undergo an imposition which many of us know to be an abomination, because many of us know what it means locally. When they have received what they are to receive from the public assistance authorities, they will have to rely more and more upon relatives who are less and less able to help them, because of declining wages. The misery involved must be appalling to anyone who will think of it for two consecutive minutes.

We believe that there is another aim other than economy in this attitude of the Government. The deficit of £70,000,000 is to be saved to the tune of one-seventh by cutting the unemployment benefit. This particular cut means about one sixty-sixth of the amount budgeted for. That equals about 12 days cost of the National Debt, or the cost of two men-of-war. Obviously, there must be something behind this cut other than a mere matter of economy. During the War we were all one human family. There was equality of sacrifice then. Even then the weakest went to the wall, and the weakest are going to the wall again. Probably many of the unemployed who fought during the Great War will be comparing their lot in a grateful country in our time. They will look around and see increasing abundance. They will see the industrialists of the world rapidly rationalising and increasing their output and, relatively speaking, giving less purchasing power to the working-classes.

The unemployed, and particularly those who fought during the War, will be interested in what is taking place to-day in the financial world. Since the War we have had Britishers lending money to the Germans at a big rate of interest, and that money in its turn was lent to the Russians at a greater interest. We have had Britishers borrowing short and cheap from the French and lending long and dear to the Germans. The unemployed will realise what is implied in the great Gold Standard swindle. We were told that this Budget of cuts was necessary in order to save the Gold Standard. That has gone, and we reflect with the unemployed and note the implication. The unemployed will wonder at the power of the foreign financiers, particularly of America. They will probably realise that the American employers and financiers did not like the moderately good example of England in our treatment of our unemployed to be demanded in America, where unemployment is becoming a tragedy. "Everyman," of 24th September, says: The Government of the United. States is alarmed at the prospect of the coming winter, with growing millions of unemployed in the towns and many thousands of ruined farms in the rural districts, and is looking to our methods in England to see how to prevent revolution. That is the meaning of the interference from New York. We on this side believe that the State should be a model employer in every way. What the Government are doing to-day is to assist the employing classes quickly and drastically to send general wage rates down. The unemployed will understand that the aim is, first, to cut down unemployment benefits and then to attack wage rates in the country. Unfortunately, the unemployed are not powerful enough to demonstrate their strength. The same issue of "Everyman" says: It came as something of a shock to the world that the Navy should be able so quickly to bring its grievances to the notice of the public, and the authorities concerned are to be congratulated upon the sympathy and the tact with which they met the situation. The unemployed are not able to demonstrate any such strength. Infamous as were the cuts into the remuneration of teachers, naval men, soldiers, dockyard employés, and others, far more infamous must this cut in unemployment benefit be. The naval men and the teachers were able to demonstrate their power and to bring the State to its knees, but the unemployed, unfortunately, cannot do any such thing. I had hoped that the Trades Union Congress would organise the unemployed people, show them a lead, show the human touch, not merely to defend the wage rates of the members of the trade unions, but to demonstrate, even by strike, that they are prepared to protect the unfortunate unemployed against this infamous treatment by a very despicable Government.

The unemployed may instinctively turn to the teachings of Herbert Spencer, who taught that the State should merely act as a policeman, to keep the ring, with the basis of society as it is. He also taught something else. He pointed out that the jungle beast is in duty bound to take food when itself or its family is in want. Spencer never taught the unfortunate working classes to do that when they and their families were starving. Although he did not teach that in human society, he taught that it was legitimate, necessary and morally right in the jungle. Let us be careful that we do not drive men and women down to that level, when they might become frenzied and instinctively follow the teachings of philosophers like Herbert Spencer. The Government, for the sake of the comfortably placed, are starving the poorest in our land. There can be no doubt about that.

One hon. Member opposite said that no man or woman need starve. They are starving in this country. Not long ago a young woman threw herself from Westminster Bridge. It is difficult to know why she did that, but I can guess very near to the truth. In Birmingham there are able-bodied young men who can neither get employment benefit nor parish relief. They may go to the workhouse. Do hon. Members expect them to do so? The result is, that they go from bad to worse, and sometimes they prefer starvation to imposition behind bars. There is neither economic nor human necessity for this vile cut in unemployment benefit. I hope that when the election comes—and I hope it will be very soon—the unemployed will demonstrate that they can see the meaning of this infamous Budget and Economy Bill, and resent it in the right way by sending the right people to the right place at the right time.

Mr. FRANK OWEN:

Nothing has happened since this Bill was introduced which has not strengthened the position of those who argued that the words covered by the Amendment should be left out. One by one the propositions upon which the Bill was founded have disappeared. We had the Prime Minister's pledge that there should be equality of sacrifice. That was always impossible to fulfil. How impossible it is even to approximate to equality of sacrifice in such a society as ours, is best illustrated by a cartoon which I once saw in a newspaper. There was depicted a pool, and in the centre of the pool there was set up a ladder. On the top of the ladder there was a gentleman in a shiny silk hat and wearing the appropriate garments that go with it. He was so portrayed to show the very simple folk for whom the cartoon was designed that he was an employer. On the central rung of the ladder was a workman, who was dressed in his overalls as he had come from the factory or the mine. On the nethermost rung of the ladder, with his mouth just above the water line, was an unemployed worker. There was a crisis and the gentleman on the top rung was saying. "This is clearly a case for equality of sacrifice. Let us all move down one rung." If there was a 10-inch rung in that ladder, by the provisions of this Bill the man on the top of the ladder would move down less than three inches.

The Prime Minister's claim that the unemployed by accepting a 10 per cent. cut would be 1½ per cent. better off than they were in 1929, has disappeared. That claim never took account of the fixed charges for rent and services, which have not varied, or very little, during the intervening years. But now the pound has been devalued, and retail prices are beginning to creep up. We are entitled to know from the Government whether or not they propose to protect people against an exploitation which may follow as a result of a panic which may follow on their election manoeuvres. They claim to be an emergency Government; in fact, they invariably insist that they are an emergency Government, and therefore this House has a right to ask whether if a state of emergency should follow they are prepared to take powers to regulate prices. I am rather doubtful, because four-fifths of the supporters of this Government spent weeks and months of Parliamentary time delaying and holding up by every Parliamentary method and device possible, even the clumsy and unhandy machinery of the Consumers' Council Bill.

This 10 per cent. cut in unemployment benefit is iniquitous and inequitable, and I hope will be resisted, but it is by no means the most iniquitous or inequitable part of the proposals dealing with unemployment insurance. The most callous proposal is that which relates to transitional benefit, and it will be resisted in the most prolonged and determined way by industrial democracy. I confess that I am amazed at the position of Liberal Ministers in the Government and of Labour Members in this House who support that proposition. When we sat on the benches opposite our position was always this—it has long been accepted in the councils of the party—that unemployment benefit insurance, indeed the whole industrial insurance scheme, must be reformed, but that if you are going to take workers who are unemployed through no reason of their own out of contri- butory insurance you must provide alternative employment for them.

I want to know whether Liberal Members are to subscribe to a complete reversal of that policy. We were elected and returned to this House—it is the only reason why there are 58 Liberal Members here—upon a policy which was to give work to the unemployed men of this country—to conquer unemployment. That was the programme upon which we were returned to this House. I want to know whether the only thing to which we are now to subscribe is the policy of putting the Unemployment Insurance Fund upon an actuarial basis. I ask Liberal Ministers in the Government and my colleagues in this House, since when has the problem of 2,000,000 unemployed men ceased to be the tragedy of 2,000,000 homes facing want and penury and privation this winter When did it become only a problem of balancing accounts in an actuary's book? That is what I want to know; and it is a question that I am entitled to ask. What are we going to say to the unemployed workers to whom we gave a promise at the last election that by every means in our power we would try to find work? What are we going to say to them? Are we going to say: "Are you out of benefit? If so, take courage, and go quickly to the public assistance committee." Are we going to say: "The poor are always with us, but, thank God, there is also always with us the Poor Law." The Poor Law! That is the last indignity which awaits misfortune. Hon. and right hon. Members who say that we can tell the poor people to go to the Poor Law do not know the great dread and the great pride of the common people.

Hon. and right hon. Members are beginning to get a little impatient at the frequent discussions we have on the subject of unemployment insurance. It has been said to-day, though not in the Debate, "Why should we waste so much Parliamentary time in discussing a Bill which is going to get a machine majority at half-past seven?" I am not so sure about that majority, hut, in any case, I want to ask whether there is any more problem more important or more urgent for us to discuss than a question which affects the livelihood of 6,000,000 citizens of this country? There may be some hon. Members who are getting a little weary of the repetition on a subject which they regard as sordid, the constant clamour of the unemployed for money in order to live. The importunities of a beggar must always seem sordid to the man who travels in a carriage, but this Government by its proposals in this Bill and its other Measures are making beggars every day in England. They can go on their election campaign in three weeks' time if they will, if they want to precipitate a clash, but they will want all their amplifiers for their patriotic slogans and all their national drums if they are going to drown the great swelling chorus of the beggars which they are making by their policy.

No doubt we shall hear proposals to take out of the scope and ambit of this House the whole question of the unemployment Insurance Fund. I hope such proposals will always be resisted. I hope proposals to shield hon. Members from consequences of their vote in a democratic assembly will always be resisted both in this House and outside. It would be fatal if this House, which is the highest court of the nation, were to lose the last reality of its control over conditions upon which the fortunes of so many millions of its citizens depend. For good or for ill, in my opinion for good, this unemployment insurance problem, and all the problems which are linked with it, unemployment itself, the transference of labour, emigration, and Empire development—they are all part of a central problem—have become the fulcrum of democracy, and must be decided in the repository of democracy, which is in this House. We shall have to decide soon whether or not we are going to recast the whole unemployment insurance scheme, whether it is going to be on a contributory or non-contributory basis. I have never believed that the contribution of the State should be as fixed as the laws of the Modes and Persians. If we decide that unemployment insurance is to be on a contributory basis we have to decide whether or not the State is going to shoulder the burden of maintaining and keeping in employment that vast army of industry which cannot find work to-day.

I fought against the Anomalies Bill when it was presented to this House, but which was carried by a majority of hon. Members. I did so because I thought it ran away from the central problem. I thought the issue which was accepted by every Liberal in the land was that the first duty of the Government of a great and splendid community such as ours, a community still rich and commanding resources unequalled in the world, unparalleled in the whole history of the world, was to mobilise and utilise the manhood and womanhood of the nation in the best interests of the whole community; to care for the weak and protect the poor. So I learnt my Liberalism, and I gloried in the great Acts of social service and benefit which the party passed through the House of Commons in the days of its greatness. I came here a young man believing that we were going to consolidate those victories, and to win others; and to-night I cannot believe that men in this party, who were honoured in the homes of the people before I was born, will fail to defend their own glory.

Photo of Mr Somerville Hastings Mr Somerville Hastings , Reading

The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Thanet (Captain Balfour) asked a very pertinent question: What is going to happen to the unemployed as a result of this proposed drop of 10 per cent. in their benefit; is their physical condition going to suffer? That is the question which, during the few moments I propose to address the Committee, I want to try to answer. During the last week we have talked a great deal about the Gold Standard and whether it would pay the country to remain on or off the Gold Standard. I think the man standard of the country is of even greater importance, and particularly for a country situated as we are. We cannot possibly afford to neglect anything which will help to maintain our man-power, both of the employed and unemployed, at the highest possible level. I can quite conceive that a country like the United States or Russia, which does not depend so much on imports, not bothering very much about the question. But we are bound to do so, as we have to obtain from other countries the necessities of life and raw materials. We have to pay for these things somehow; and we pay by producing other products in this country. I know that there are "invisible exports," that we are able to pay to some extent by means of interest on investments overseas, but these are not up to the standard they once were, and, in any case, they do not by any means pay for all that we have to obtain from abroad to feed ourselves and provide our industries with raw material. Therefore, it is essential for this country to look after its man-power and to see that our unemployed and employed are maintained at the highest standard of fitness. I anticipate that in the future we shall have to pay for our imports by means of fine products and manufactured goods which other nations with less skilled craftsmen cannot make. Therefore, we ought to maintain all our workers in the highest state of efficiency.

The question which I want to try to answer to-night is, what is the lowest amount of money per week which will maintain a man and woman and their family in efficiency? That is a very pertinent question at the moment. On Friday last the late Lord Privy Seal pointed out how important was the question of rent. When we are estimating the cost-of-living we are bound to consider rent. I am talking about the skilled craftsman, especially, and I know what happens to him. If he is living in a comfortable home, and he becomes unemployed, he has to move. In that case he has often to move to a decontrolled house, very often only a few rooms which are said to be furnished, although that does not amount to very much. I know in my constituency that unemployed men have had to pay 7s. 6d. and 10s., and even 12s. 6d., for two rooms because they cannot get any other accommodation.

An important inquiry was carried out only last year as to the amount of money necessary to maintain in efficiency an unemployed man and his family. The figures were worked out by Mr. Caradoc Jones and other members of Liverpool University. The results are contained in a little book I have here, on a sort of social survey of the Liverpool district. These were the standards taken: They suggested that two individuals per room was a reasonable standard of accommodation, and I think that that is fair. In other words a household of four would require two rooms. They found that a man and woman and infant would need, in order to maintain efficiency, not less than 27s. 7d. a week. It is interesting to note that according to the present rate of unemployment insurance benefit they would get 28s. a week. But if they had a child over one year old more money would be needed, so that as things are even at the present time in the Liverpool district, an unemployed man and his wife and child over one year of age would be under the poverty level. When the family is larger the divergence becomes much greater. It was estimated that for a family of five, a man and wife and three children, 37s. 7d. was needed. As everyone knows, the unemployment benefit paid to such a family is only 32s. These facts are important in connection with the question that is before the Committee. I admit frankly that when unemployment begins there may be other resources available to the individual concerned. He can sell his household goods, the various white elephants that he possesses, and even necessary things without which he cannot comfortably live. To some extent he can also perhaps obtain assistance from his friends and relatives. But when unemployment has existed long, particularly in a depressed area, all these resources disappear.

I suggest that it is a most dangerous thing to reduce the standard of life of an unemployed man because he is unemployed. There are many people who have not much to do and have plenty coming in, and they live very happy and contented lives. Their health is not affected. There are people who are busy, who work hard and often suffer considerable privations, and yet do not seem to be much affected by them. But when you combine the psychological effect of unemployment with actual physical want, you reach a very serious condition indeed. The individual concerned feels that he has no place in the community, feels that he is not wanted, and privations act upon him much more seriously. Fortunately in this country we have seen little of them in the past, but in other countries they have suffered badly. Only last Whitsuntide I attended a medical conference at Carlsbad. There I met many doctors from Hungary and Austria and the Balkan States, where there was not only unemployment but very little relief for the unemployed. Those doctors told me that the condition of the unemployed in these countries was dreadful. Suicide was common, the unemployed suffered from various mental affections, and crime had increased. I am certain that there is not a member of this Committee who wants that sort of thing to be seen in this country. To prevent it the Government must reconsider this proposed cut. in unemployment benefit.

We have been told that the attack on unemployment benefit was undertaken to save the Gold Standard. I am not going to twit the Government with the fact that the plan failed and that the Gold Standard has not been saved. I have tried to show the serious condition in which the unemployed will be if these cuts are passed. We have seen the Gold Standard dropped. We are now told that what might have been a curse has been changed into a blessing. Therefore I think I am right in suggesting that the proposed cure was worse than the disease. Knowing what the proposed cut would mean to the unemployed I suggest that the Members of the late Government who refused to accept it and said, "Rather than this, let even the worst happen; let us go off the Gold Standard," were abundantly justified.

Photo of Mr Arthur Dixey Mr Arthur Dixey , Penrith and Cockermouth

One has listened with considerable feelings of sympathy to the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite. One appreciates that with the major portion of the proposed cuts the Members of the late Cabinet were intimately connected, but that so far as the cut in unemployment benefit is concerned a large number of the present Opposition Front Bench were in disagreement with it. I, and a large number of other Conservative Members, feel our position very greatly indeed in having to support the cut. We appreciate that it is most undesirable, particularly having regard to the fact that prices will possibly increase, to take from an unemployed man a portion of the money which he obviously needs. We have heard the expression "equality of sacrifice" mentioned repeatedly. Of course, it is preposterous to talk of equality of sacrifice. It is an expression which has to be taken with regard to relative conditions, and right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite know quite well that never in this world will they get equality in anything. Hon. Members who come to this House know that the methods of procedure here, as between Front Bench and back bench, and the way in which they are allowed to address the House, show that there never can be any equality in an Assembly of this sort.

Some of us appreciate what are the circumstances that led to this cut in unemployment benefit. We cannot acquaint the Opposition Front Bench in the matter, After all, the leaders of the Socialist party were the Government of this country. They should have foreseen the situation which is now upon us. They had two years of responsibility. It is impossible to remove responsibility from the directors of the Government during those two years. I see the late Secretary for War, the right hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) in his place. He knows that had he been a director of a company, and that had his company's affairs been reduced in two years to the condition that the affairs of this country were in during July and August, he would be called upon to come before the shareholders for examination. There was shocking mismanagement of the affairs of the nation by right hon. Gentlemen opposite.

We have just heard the pathetic cry of the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. F. Owen), who told us that he came here as an ardent Radical, with great confidence that his Front Bench would support the Socialist Government. That Front Bench shared responsibility with the late Government. Its members were consulted from time to time during the two years, so we understand, on every important Government matter. Therefore it ill becomes the hon. Member to come here as a supporter of the Liberal Front Bench and to groan about the present position of affairs. When the present Government was formed we were confronted with a Government headed by a Prime Minister who was the Leader of the Socialist party. In a moment of national emergency we were called upon to support a Prime Minister whose politics—I say it quite frankly—I detested, whose opinions for the last 10 years I have held in utter detestation. We were asked to support him as head of the Government. I say quite candidly that a large number of us on the Conservative benches did it with the greatest possible reluctance. We did it because we realised that, had such a Government not been formed, had this country been entirely dominated by party politics, the fall in the value of the pound and the loss of trade would have been magnified greatly.

Therefore, the Conservative party loyally supported the formation of the National Government. But we realised that, we should have to take up a lot of very unpleasant duties, and this is one of the most unpleasant of all. We know that we are bound to vote for the Government to-night, as otherwise the Government would be beaten and the catastrophe would be immense. One has to sacrifice—[HON. MEMBERS: "Principles!"]—not principles, but one has to consider the well-being of the men whose affairs we are discussing. Nothing could hit the unemployed man harder to-day than the defeat of the present Government. [Laughter.] Hon Members opposite may laugh, but at the bottom of their hearts they know that if the Government were defeated on this issue, the defeat would discredit this country abroad and damage our trade. [Interruption.] I am not making a partisan speech. I am speaking merely as a practical politician. So far as the interests of the unemployed themselves are concerned, nothing could be more disastrous than a defeat of the Government to-night.

Therefore, I propose to vote for the Government because I consider it is the only thing to do in the circumstances. But I would say this to the Minister. I heard a threat addressed by the hon. Member for South West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) to his Liberal colleague who is in the Ministry. The hon. Gentleman suggested that if he voted for this cut, there should be a distinct and explicit pledge against tariffs. To my mind that is a most improper demand and a most uncalled for statement to be made by any hon. Gentleman in this Committee. Some of us here look upon this cut as purely temporary. We desire to see a vote taken in the country on a policy which will deal properly with unemployment. When a strong Government is returned in this country, with a full policy of Protection, we believe that these unfortunate and unpleasant cuts will be abolished. I desire an election at the earliest moment and so do right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on this aide who believe that, if the employment of our people is to be improved, there must be a proper policy of putting people into work. At all events some of us on this side have been consistent in our attitude on that question for the last 10 years while a large number of hon. Members opposite are beginning now to realise that something must be done to check the import of foreign goods into this country.

We are putting forward from these benches and we shall put forward in the country not a mere cry of "See what is being taken away from you," but a constructive policy. When the Conservative party or the National party go to the country—[HON. MEMBERS "Which?"] Whatever party it is I do not care, as long as it has a constructive policy of protecting the labour of the people of this country. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have reduced our politics to this pass, that their only cry now is: "Look what is being taken away from you. Vote against the National Government, or the Conservative party, because they have taken something off the unemployment allowance." This party, whoever leads it—and after all this is not a time to talk about individuals but a time to talk about policy—will have a policy to put before the country. I say quite frankly that I do not care who leads it. It may not be anybody whom I, personally, would like to follow. But whoever leads, at all events we shall have this compensation—that we shall be voting this time on a policy of putting people into work. Hon. Gentleman opposite come here and talk about their poor people and the poor widow and the unfortunate man with 17s. a week. Why do they not devise a policy with the Trades Union Congress to find work for the people?

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

The hon. Member is now anticipating the speeches which he is likely to make in a few weeks time.

Photo of Mr Arthur Dixey Mr Arthur Dixey , Penrith and Cockermouth

I apologise if I have transgressed and I conclude by saying that I shall vote for the Government on this proposal very reluctantly, because hon. Gentlemen opposite have made it necessary to do so.

Photo of Mr Wilfred Wellock Mr Wilfred Wellock , Stourbridge

I have been very interested to discover the real reason why the hon. Member for Penrith (Mr. Dixey) is supporting this part of the Bill. Apparently in order to salve his conscience, in voting for this part of the Bill he has to throw the unemployment issue into an abstraction. I warn him that if, during the next few months, he has to appear before his electors, while 1,000,000 of the unemployed of this country are appearing before the public assistance committees, he will find that he is not dealing with an abstraction but with a palpable and urgent fact. I have been delighted and cheered to discover a revolt on the Liberal benches in regard to this situation. I cannot imagine the Liberal party being able to support this Measure in view of the principles which they have upheld for the last generation. I refer particularly to the conditions in reference to transitional benefit of which I shall have something more to say later.

In bringing this matter before the Government we seem to be up against an iron wall of resistance. When opposition came from the Navy, the Government were able to give way and quite nightly gave way. They were able to give way when the teachers of the country organised a tremendous opposition to the cuts which were proposed on teachers' salaries and they gave way quite rightly. How is it that under no consideration is there to be any giving way on the question of unemployment? It can only be because we are, on this question, in bondage to the foreign banks. When the Minister of Health dealt with this question on 14th September he said: A loan was unobtainable at the time and we were told that it would remain unobtainable unlese foreign confidence in the stability of British credits was restored."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th September, 1931; col. 640, 266.] When the right hon. Gentleman came to explain that matter he dealt with nothing but unemployment insurance. He never mentioned teachers' salaries, or cuts in the Army and the Navy. We have to ask, balancing the possibilities yet before the Government, whether unemployment insurance is to come before the £110,000,000 spent upon armaments, the 2300,000,000 spent upon interest upon loans, and the 2,000,000,000 of deposits; lying in the banks of this country to-day which cannot find a useful field of investment. A large amount of this £2,000,000,000 might be usefully put into operation in order to find work for the unemployed and prevent the consequences which are involved in this Bill, and the Government would save more than it is saving by the Bill on unemploy- ment insurance, even if it were to carry on with the proposals of the late Government.

In regard to the treatment of the unemployed, I wish first to call attention to a gross injustice which is going to obtain under these proposals. In the area in which I live, three public assistance committees will be operating unemployment insurance. The division of Edgbaston, represented by the Minister of Health, extends to the village of Quinton where I live. There is a public assistance committee for Edgbaston and there are two public assistance committees in my division. In Edgbaston, the public assistance authority allows for a man, wife and two children 32s. 6d. One of the public assistance committees in my division allows 24s. 6d. under the same conditions; and in another part of my division the old scale was 17s. 6d. and one may put it now at 20s. I shall be faced in my division with this position. Along two miles of road, the applicants living in the north side will be judged for need on the basis of 24s. 6d.; those living on the south side will be assessed on the basis of 32s. 6d. for the same conditions, while an applicant living to the west will be based on a standard of 20s. One realises, from that simple example, how grossly unjust the administration of this part of the Bill is going to prove.

On the question of transitional benefit, may I say that if there was one condition which we all welcomed and in which we all rejoiced regarding unemployment insurance administration, it was the fact that all got the same amount of benefit? What is going to happen now? You are going to throw over 1,000,000 people on the dead level of subsistence. What has been happening during the past few years? We all know that workers who were in good employment and who were then able to save a little money have been using that money to keep themselves respectable and to maintain their families at a standard at any rate a little above that of unemployment pay. I remember some years ago meeting shipyard workers in Glasgow who told me that, through having good wages for a period, they had been able to save £100 or £200, but, having been unemployed for two or three years, they had dipped into those savings to keep their families respectable. When they got down to £30 or £40, however, they could draw on that reserve no longer, and so they went to the United States. Thousands went to the United States under those conditions at that time. They cannot go to the United States any longer, and they will be compelled to remain here and to come down to the lowest level of subsistence.

The figures which have been given show that as soon as this part of the Bill comes into operation we shall have no fewer than 852,000 unemployed people going to the public assistance committees. When we consider how the unemployment total has grown during the last 12 months we may conclude that in the next three months or so well over 1,000,000 will come before the public assistance committees, which means that 5,000,000 people, including some of the best workers and most respectable people in the country, are to be thrown on the lowest level of subsistence. We must face the fact that never in our history have we condemned such a large number of the workers of this country to that condition. It is their last line of defence. They will use up their savings. As soon as it is discovered that they have any money in the bank or that there are relatives on whom they can depend for anything, there will be no public assistance for them.

7.0 p.m.

The workers are conscious of this fact and that is why, when public assistance is mentioned to those who have been brought up in thrift, and have striven to keep themselves respectable, they regard it as being a sentence to hell. I have had men on my own doorstep who had passed from standard to transitional benefit and had then come to the end of their transitional benefit. They have asked me what it meant. Looking into their faces I knew I dare not tell them what it meant; but they have been able to see from my face all that it meant, and they have said, "Has it come to that?" They have said that because they were fighting, not merely for a few crumbs of bread, but because they were fighting for the spirit upon which the greatness of England has been built. They will refuse to take the bidding of public assistance committees and will prefer to maintain their spirit rather than humble themselves to what they have always regarded as the last stage of respectability.

I believe that this action is entirely unnecessary and that the policy of the Government is entirely wrong. I may be asked what I would do in its place. I would point out that the Government are cutting down expenditure on public works and so forth. If it saves £2,500,000, what does that amount to? That is half the interest on a capital expenditure of £100,000,000. A capital expenditure of £100,000,000 means an annual cost of £2,500,000 to the Exchequer and £2,500,000 to the local authorities. According to the figures supplied to us, 4,000 men have work for one year for an expenditure of £1,000,000. You will, therefore, have 400,000 men employed for one year for £100,000,000 of capital expenditure at a cost of £2,500,000 to the Exchequer and £2,500,000 to the local authority. That means that you are going to save unemployment insurance for one year for 400,000 men, which amounts to £20,000,000. The hon. Member who has just sat down says that we are dealing with a temporary measure. If that is so, then surely, if it is a temporary measure, a temporary condition, the right thing to do would be to spend not merely £100,000,000 on capital development, but £200,000,000. For every £100,000,000 you spend in that way, it only costs £2,500,000 per annum in paying half the interest, and you are saving £20,000,000 on unemployment insurance. Surely we ought to be prepared to face the realities of this matter. If England is not down and out, as hon. Members opposite profess and as I thoroughly believe, then surely a more enlightened and more economic policy can be put through than that which is being pursued by the Government.

Photo of Mr Edwin Scrymgeour Mr Edwin Scrymgeour , Dundee

May I ask the Minister of Labour before he speaks if he is aware that in my constituency there are already riots concerning this, and that police have been requisitioned to deal with the situation, which we are having no opportunity to discuss in this House?

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

As an hon. Gentleman said not long ago from this side of the House, in the course of the Debates both on Friday and this afternoon we have had a good many election speeches, which no doubt will be repeated at greater length on many occasions in the near future. There was one speech, a maiden speech, on which I would like to congratulate the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard). It was a most useful and thoughtful contribution, and I hope he will in the future very often take part in our discussions. We have heard arguments addressed from the benches opposite stating that these benefits are too low, that no one can live on the benefits provided, and that they ought therefore—so far from being cut—to be increased. Those are exactly the arguments which were addressed to the right hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) in 1924 by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) and others. They are exactly the arguments which were pressed upon the late Government in 1929, and they gave the answer which I give now. They said "We cannot do this, because we know the resources of the State are limited." That is the answer which the Labour Government gave and which I give now.

The right hon. Gentleman who last Friday began this Debate, began first of all with a criticism of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for his broadcast speech on the formation of this Government when my right hon. Friend pointed out that, even after the proposed cut, the recipient of benefit would be rather better off than he was in 1929 in consequence of the fall in the cost of living. The right hon. Gentleman then went on to denounce the Government and the calculation of the cost of living figure. He gave various reasons why that figure was utterly unreliable. He said that it was simply not true that the cost of living had fallen as the figures suggested. He went on to say that to ask the unemployed or anyone else to accept them was a monstrous injustice. When did the right hon. Gentleman first snake that discovery? The right hon. Gentleman was Lord Privy Seal in the last Government. He had, therefore, a special responsibility in this matter towards those who were affected by it, and he must have known—or he could have known had he inquired—that the wages of no less than 1,500,000 persons in this country are regulated by sliding scales based on this very cost-of-living scale to which I have referred. During the first seven months of this year, when the, right hon. Gentleman was in office, there has been a reduction of no less than £78,000 a week in the wages of manual workers, based on this same sliding scale. The very last act of the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a Member was to acquiesce in the cut in civil servants' salaries again based on the scale which he now denounces. Are we to understand, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman has stood by for two and a half years and saw what he now describes as a monstrous injustice being inflicted upon those very persons whom it was his duty to defend? The right hon. Gentleman then proceeded to make a statement which I have the greatest difficulty in following, although he elaborated his arguments. He said in his speech: No allowance has been made in the costof-living figure for the increase of rent through decontrol."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th September, 1931; col. 2005, Vol. 256.] That statement has been repeated by other speakers this afternoon. I have in my hand a White Paper issued, price threepence, by the Stationery Office last March and therefore by the late Government, in which it shows that the fact is precisely the opposite from that stated by the right hon. Gentleman. The White Paper in question says: It should …be observed that the statistics prepared by the Ministry of Labour are designed to measure the average increase in the cost of maintaining unchanged the pre-War standard of living of the working classes. By this is meant the standard actually prevailing in working-class families just before the War irrespective of whether or not such standard was adequate. Dealing with rents it says: Until 1928"— the right hon. Gentleman is three years Out— the proportion of decontrolled rents was not large enough to affect substantially the average results for working-class dwellings as a whole, and the statistics of changes in rents were based on controlled rents only. Since that date decontrolled rents have also been taken into account.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

Will the right hon. Gentleman give us some idea as to what percentage or what calculation has been made which brings in 1,500,000 out of work in the last 10 years.

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

The hon. Gentleman should really consult and read the Ministry of Labour "Gazette," because in the September issue he will find a complete answer to his question. I need not read it, but he will find a complete answer there.

Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire Western

Does the hon. Gentleman assert that a man who has suffered a 90 per cent. increase in his rent is as a matter of fact better off than he was two years ago?

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

I said exactly what is in the White Paper issued by the right hon. Gentleman's own Government, and he will therefore see that his statement that no allowance was made for decontrolled rents is quite incorrect.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Gardner Mr Benjamin Gardner , West Ham Upton

Has the right hon. Gentleman taken into account the evidence given before the Committee OR Rent Restrictions which shows that the decontrolled rents are considerably higher than the rents charged for controlled houses?

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

Both the decontrolled rents and the controlled rents are taken into consideration in arriving at this scale. When decontrolled rents are included the combined average increase in working class rents since July, 1914, is approximately 54 per cent. This latter figure has been utilised in calculating the final percentage increase for all the items. That is a complete answer to the hon. Member. The Minister of Labour, my predecessor in the last Government, was asked whether she could not devise some other system which would more accurately represent the cost-of-living scale. She examined it, and she stated, in answer to questions in this House, that she could not suggest on the existing basis a figure which would give a more accurate presentation of the facts than the present figure. As far as I am concerned, without giving any pledge at all, I say at once, as my predecessor said, that I do not consider that the present method is necessarily something sacrosanct and I am looking into it, but I would remind the House that as recently as last June my predecessor said that the disadvantages of any new method would in present circumstances more than outweigh the advantages which were likely to accrue. The Leader of the Opposition, in the very first speech which he made in that capacity in this House, said that these cuts in the rate of benefit were the dividing line between him and my right hon. Friend, and the late President of the Board of Trade said: We shall refuse to penalise the unemployed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th September, 1931; col. 317, Vol. 256.] It is therefore very relevant—and I intend to do it—to compare what has been the action of the right hon. Gentleman himself and other right hon. Gentlemen, like the right lion. Member for Preston, who were Members, and important Members of the Labour Government in 1924. In August of that year, based on this very scale which we are now discussing, the cost of living was 71 per cent. over 1914, and the cost of living to-day is 45 per cent. over 1914. In 1924 the Act of the right hon. Member for Preston provided for a single man 18s., for a single woman 15s., and for a man and wife with two children 27s. The amount required to-day to give the same purchasing power as that which was commended to us by the right hon. Member for Preston, and passed through this House, would be 15s. 3d. for a man, 12s. 82d. for a woman, and 22s. 11d. for a man and wife with two children. Our proposals, therefore, show that in the case of a man we are giving exactly the same as the right hon. Member commended to the House in 1924, that we are giving 6 per cent. more in the case of a woman, and that after our proposed cuts we are giving 19 per cent. more in the case of a man and wife and two children.

Photo of Mr Thomas Shaw Mr Thomas Shaw , Preston

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman always desires to be fair. Will he remember, as I have reminded him before, that when that Bill was introduced I said definitely to the House that the Bill did not represent what I thought was a right thing but all that I thought we could get out of the House?

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

The right hon. Gentleman has not quoted himself quite correctly, because it has been my business to look up what he said, and he said that it was as much as was practicable, which is exactly what I am saying now. The right hon. Gentleman, in one way or another, said over and over again that it was all that the resources of the country could afford, and that is what I am saying now. The right hon. Gentleman and his friends—

Photo of Mr Edwin Scrymgeour Mr Edwin Scrymgeour , Dundee

Why not come down to to-day. You ought to be ashamed of yourself!

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

The right hon. Gentleman and his friends appealed for the support of the country on the ground that they had done so much for the unemployed during their tenure of office, and—

Photo of Mr Edwin Scrymgeour Mr Edwin Scrymgeour , Dundee

Call that a National party? It is a national disgrace. [Interruption]

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

As the Committee well knows, we have been compelled to ask for very large increases of contribution from those who work, and whatever else may be clear, it is quite clear that the last Government agreed to that.

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

It is no more agreeable for me to ask for cuts in unemployment benefit than I suppose it was to the right hon. Gentleman the late First Lord of the Admiralty and his friends to agree to cuts in the wages of employés of—

Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire Western

The right hon. Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS "Take your medicine!"] I will take all the medicine that is given, but the right hon. Gentleman must not make what I know to be a misrepresentation, complete and deliberate. [Interruption.]

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

At any rate, there is no doubt as to this, that there has been a reduction in the wages of those engaged by the co-operative societies. I want to call the attention of the Committee to another fact which is very relevant to the discussion in which we are now engaged, and that is that on the average wages have decreased from 4 to 5 per cent. during the last four or five years since 1927, and on the average they have decreased nearly 2 per cent. in the last seven months. In some trades, particularly some sections of iron and steel, there has been a reduction of 20 per cent. since 1924; in the wool textiles there has been a reduction of from 9 to 20 per cent., and in the building trades there has been a reduction of something like S per cent. There are many groups of trades in this country, such as some engineers' labourers, where the wages which are paid are considerably less than 40s. a week. [An HON. MEMBER: "Shame!"] The hon. Gentleman says it is a shame, and that is an eloquent comment on the fiscal system under which we are living. [Interruption.] Owing to the depression through which we have been passing, there has been much short-time work of a kind which does not entitle the workers to benefit, and that has resulted in these cases in a reduction in wages. You have therefore two converging lines. You have the line of wages converging where it meets the line of benefit, and you arrive at a point where in far too many cases it is a matter of financial indifference to a man whether he works or whether he does not. [Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Edwin Scrymgeour Mr Edwin Scrymgeour , Dundee

You dare to say that, about men?

HON. MEMBERS:

Sit down !

Photo of Mr Edwin Scrymgeour Mr Edwin Scrymgeour , Dundee

You stand at that Box and insult them !

HON. MEMBERS:

Name !

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) must not interrupt in this way.

Photo of Mr Edwin Scrymgeour Mr Edwin Scrymgeour , Dundee

It is downright blackguardism !

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

The existing rates of benefit are imposing a strain which no insurance scheme could possibly stand, and—

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Linlithgowshire

I wish to put two questions to the hon. Gentleman, and the first is this: Inasmuch as concessions have been made to the teachers, policemen, and others, do the Government propose to make any concessions in connection with unemployment benefit? The second question is this: If, as is expected, there is an increase in the cost-of-living and an improvement in trade which will diminish the number of those unemployed, will the Government be prepared to consider a restoration of the payments they now propose to cut?

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

If the hon. Member would have a little patience, I was going to answer. It has been said that there is at this moment an increase in the cost of living. My information is that at the present time there has been no increase. [Interruption.] But leaving this aside, it is necessary to bear in mind that the cost of living is not the only factor to be taken into account. The reduction of benefit was not made only because the cost of living had fallen, though the fall in the cost of living mitigates to some extent the effect of the reduction. There is another and very important reason, and that is that the fund will not carry benefits on the present scale without recourse to borrowing, which it is absolutely imperative to stop—or without such an increase of contributions as would be quite unjustifiable in relation to the resources of those who have to pay those contributions while they are at work. For both these reasons, I have no hesitation at all, in the circumstances in which we are to-day, in asking the Committee to agree to these cuts in benefit, because for both the reasons that I have given, I believe they are completely and entirely justified.

Photo of Mr John McShane Mr John McShane , Walsall

I should like, in the first place, to make my strong protest against this monstrous cutting down of the Debate on such a highly important question. It is a monstrous thing that a matter like this, which affects in a real sense millions of people, should be stifled at half-past seven by the action of the Guillotine. I want, in the second place, to say that I have never known a proposal more contemptible and more despicable. It is a proposal that ought to be dealt with on every platform in this country and that ought to call forth a protest from all the Christian churches for its shocking cruelty and caddishness. I have sat here with amazement and have listened to a Liberal, whom I had grown to respect, get up in this House on Friday and try to justify proposals which, had he been sitting here, he would have opposed with contempt. I had also grown to admire and respect the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot). I wonder how he can possibly sit on that Government Bench and listen to the contemptible defence of these contemptible proposals. I despise the proposals in the Bill, and I despise anyone who has the hardihood to vote for them.

Photo of Mr Edwin Scrymgeour Mr Edwin Scrymgeour , Dundee

At the beginning of the year the Prime Minister himself was warned as regards his own statement in the "Daily Herald" of the catastrophe that was coming, and he was pressed to come out on the job, but he would not give one word that would enable one to publish it, and he telegraphed refusal to publish it. He has played the game, along with his colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with whom I also communicated. Both of them have deliberately played the game until it suited them to dish their own party and go over to the enemy, and they are now defending the cut in the dole.

it being Half-past Seven of the Clock, the CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 22nd,September, to put forthwith the Question on the Amendment already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, "That the words 'Unemployment Insurance' stand part of the Schedule."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 296; Noes, 243.

Division No. 497.]AYES.[7.30 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelCohen, Major J. BrunelHacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.
Alnsworth, Lieut.-Col. CharlesColfox, Major William PhilipHall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)
Altchlson, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)
Albery, Irving JamesCaiman, N. C. D.Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)Colville, Major D. J.Hammersley, S, S.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)Conway, Sir W. MartinHanbury, C.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)Cooper, A. DuffHannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.Harbord, A.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.Cranborne, ViscountHartington, Marquess of
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J.(Kent, Dover)Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Astor, ViscountessCroft, Brigadier-General Sir H.Haslam, Henry C.
Atholl, Dacness ofCrookshank, Capt. H. C.Henderson, Capt. R. R, (Oxf'd,Henley)
Atklnton, C.Croom-Johnson, R. P.Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir PhilipHope, Sir Harry (Forfar)
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)Dalkeith, Earl ofHorne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.
Balniel, LordDalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir GodfreyHoward-Bury, Colonel C. K.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.Davidson. Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)
Beaumont, M. W.Davies, Dr. VernonHurd, Percy A.
Bellairs, Commander CarlyonDavies, E. C. (Montgomery)Hurst, Sir Gerald B.
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)Davies, MaJ. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yaovil)Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.
Berry, Sir GeorgeDavison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, t.)Inskip, Sir Thomas
Betterton, Sir Henry B.Dawson, Sir PhillpIveagh, Countess of
Sevan, S. J. (Holborn)Denman, Hon. R. D.Jones, Llewellyn-, F.
Birchall, Major Sir John DearmanDespencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)
Birkett, W. NormanDixey, A. C.Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Blindell, JamesDixon, Captain Rt. Hon. HerbertJones, Rt- Hon. Lelf (Camborne)
Boothby, R. J. G.Duckworth, G. A. V.Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston]
Bowater, Col. Sir T. VansittartDugdale, Capt. T. L.Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.Eden, Captain AnthonyKindersley, Major G. M.
Boyce, LeslieEdmondson, Major A. J.Knight, Holford
Bracken, B.Elliot, Major Walter E.Knox, Sir Alfred
Braithwaite, Major A. N.Elmley, ViscountLamb, Sir J. Q.
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeEngland, Colonel A.Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)
Broadbent, Colonel J.Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham)Everard, W. LindsayLeigh, Sir John (Clapham)
Brown, Ernest (Leith)Fade, Sir Bertram G.Leighton, Major B. E. p.
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C. (Berks, Newb'y)Ferguson, Sir JohnLewis, Oswald (Colchester)
Buchan, JohnFlelden, E. B.Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Flson, F. G. ClaveringLleweilln, Major J. J.
Bullock, Captain MalcolmFoot, IsaacLocker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey
Burgin, Dr. E. L.Ford, Sir P. J.Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)
Burton, Colonel H. W.Forestler-Walker, Sir L.Lockwood, Captain J. H.
Butler. R. A.Fremantle, Lieut-Colonel Francis E.Long, Major Hon. Eric
Butt, Sir AlfredGalbraith, J. F. W.Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardGault, Lieut.-Col. A. HamiltonLymington, Viscount
Calne, Hall-, DerwentGeorge, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)McConnell, Sir Joseph
Campbell, E. T.George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)
Carver. Major W. H.Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)
Castle Stewart, Earl ofGillett, George M.Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)
Cautley, Sir Henry S.Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnMacdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)Glassey, A. E.Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth, S.)Glyn, Major R. G. C.Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.
Cazalet. Captain Victor A.Gower, Sir RobertMacqulsten, F. A.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)Graham, Fergus (Comberland, N.)Maltland, A. (Kent, Faversham)
Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert BurtonGranville, E.Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Chamberlain Rt.Hn.SIr J.A.(Blrm.,W.)Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.Marjorlbanks, Edward
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)Gray, MilnerMarkham, S. F.
Chapman, Sir S.Greaves-Lord, Sir WalterMason. Colonel Glyn K.
Christie, J. A.Greene, W. P. CrawfordMerrlman, Sir F. Boyd
Church. Major A. G.Grenfelt, Edward C. (City of London)Millar, J. D.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston SpencerGretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. JohnMitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Clydesdale. Marquess ofGriffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)Monsell, Eyres. Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.
Cobb, Sir CyrilGrltten, W. G. HowardMoore, Lieut.-Colonet T. C. R. (Ayr)
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir GeorgeGunston, Captain D. W,Morris, Rhys Hopkins
Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)Rosbotham, D. s. T.Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)Ross, Ronald D.Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Mulrhead, A. J.Rothschild, J. deTaylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.
Nall-Cain, A. R. N.Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Nathan, Major H. L.Runclman, Rt. Hon. WalterThomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)Thompson, Luke
Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)Russell, Richard John (Eddlsbury)Thomson, Sir F.
Nicholson, O. (Westminster)Salmon, Major I.Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld)Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
O'Connor, T. J.Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)Todd, Capt. A. J.
Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)Train, J.
Oman, Sir Charies Willlam C.Sandeman, Sir N. StewartTryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement.
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. WilliamSassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.Turton, Robert Hugh
Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)Savery, S. S.Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Peaks, Capt. OsbertShakespeare, Geoffrey H.Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Penny, Sir GeorgeShepperson, Sir Ernest WhittomeWalters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor
Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)Simms, Major-General J.Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Perkins, W. R. D.Simon, E. D, (Manch'ter, Wlthington)Warrender, Sir Victor
Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir JohnWaterhouse, Captain Charles
Power, Sir John CecilSinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (Caithness)Wayland, Sir William A.
Pownall, Sir AsshetonSkelton, A. N.Wells, Sydney R.
Preston, Sir Walter RuebenSmith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)White, H. G.
Purbrick, R.Smith, R.W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Pybus, Percy JohnSmith-Carington, Neville W.Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Ramsay, T. B. WilsonSmithers, WaldronWindsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Ramsbotham, H.Snowden, Rt. Hon. PhilipWinterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Rawson, Sir CooperSomerset, ThomasWithers, Sir John James
Reld, David D. (County Down)Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Remer, John R.Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)Womersley, W. J.
Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.Southby, Commander A. R. J.Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Reynolds. Col. Sir JamesSpender-Clay, Colonel H.Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Chte'y)Stanley, Hon. o (Westmorland)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)Steel-Maltland, Rt. Hon. Sir ArthurCaptain Margesson and Major McKenzie Wood.
Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James RennellStewart, W. J. (Belfast South)
NOES.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Hopkin, Daniel
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Day, HarryHorrabin, J. F.
Addlson, Rt. Hon. Dr. ChristopherDuncan, CharlesHudson, James H. (Huddersfield)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')Dunnlco, H.Isaacs, George
Alpass, J. H.Ede, James ChuterJohn, William (Rhondda, West)
Amman, Charles GeorgeEdmunds, J. E.Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Angell, Sir NormanEdwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)
Arnott, JohnEdwards, E. (Morpeth)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
Aske, Sir RobertEgan, W. H.Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Attlee, Clement RichardForgan, Dr. RobertKelly, W. T.
Ayles, WalterFreeman, PeterKennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bllston)Gardner, B. W. (West Ham. Upton)Kenworthy. Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)Kinley, J.
Barnes, Alfred JohnGibbins, JosephLansbury, Rt. Hon. George
Barr, JamesGibson, H. M. (Lanes. Mossley)Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)
Batey, JosephGill, T. H.Law, Albert (Bolton)
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)Gossllng, A. G.Law, A. (Rossendale)
Benn, Rt. Hon. WedgwoodGould, F.Lawrence, Susan
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Lawrle, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)
Benson, G.Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edln., Cent.)Lawson, John James
Bowen, J. W.Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)
Bowerman Rt. Hon. Charles W.Griffiths, T. (Monmouth. Pontypool)Leach, W.
Broad, Francis AlfredGroves, Thomas E.Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)
Brockway, A. FennerGrundy, Thomas W.Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)
Bromfield, WilliamHall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)Leonard, W.
Bromley, J.Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Brothers, M.Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)Lindley, Fred W.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)Logan, David Gilbert
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)Longbottom, A. W.
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)Hardle, David (Rutherglen)Longden, F.
Buchanan, G.Hardie, G. D. (Springburn)Lunn. William
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)Harris, Percy A.Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Cameron, A. G.Hastings, Dr. SomervilleMcElwee, A.
Cape, ThomasHaycock, A. W.McEntee, V. L.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)Hayday, ArthurMcKinlay, A.
Chater, DanielHayes, John HenryMacLaren, Andrew
Cluse, W. S.Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)MacNeill-Weir, L.
Cocks, Frederick SeymourHenderson, Thomas (Glasgow)McShane, John James
Compton, JosephHenderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)
Cove, William G.Herrlotts, J.Mander, Geoffrey le M.
Cripps, Sir StaffordHicks, Ernest GeorgeManning, E. L.
Daggar, GeorgeHirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)Mansfield, W.
Dallas, GeorgeHirst, W. (Bradford, South)March, S.
Dalton, HughHoffman, P. C.Marcus, M.
Davles, D. l. (Pontypridd)Hollins, A.Marley, J.
Marshall, FredRiley, Ben (Dewsbury)Thurtle, Ernest
Mathers, GeorgeRiley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)Tillett, Ben
Maxton, JamesRitson, J.Tinker, John Joseph
Messer, FredRomeril, H. G.Tout, W. J.
Middleton, G.Rowson, GuyTownend, A. E.
Mills, J. E.Salter, Dr. AlfredTrevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Mllner, Major J.Sanders, W. S.Turner, Sir Ben
Montague, FrederickSawyer, G. F.Vaughan, David
Morgan, Dr. H. B.Scrymgeour, E.Viant, S. P.
Morley, RalphScurr, JohnWalkden. A. G.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)Sexton, Sir JamesWalker, J.
Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)Shaw, Rt. Hon, Thomas (Preston)Wallace, H. W.
Mort, D. L.Shepherd, Arthur LewisWallhead, Richard C.
Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smsthwick)Sherwood, G. H.Watkins, F. C.
Muff, G.Shield, George WilliamWatson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Muggerldge, H. T.Shiels, Dr. DrummondWatts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Murnin, HughShillaker, J. F.Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Joslah
Naylor, T. E.Shinwell, E.Wellock, Wilfred
Noel Baker, P. J.Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)Welsh, James (Paisley)
Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)Simmons, C. J.Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Oldfield, J. R.Sinkinson, GeorgeWest, F. R.
Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)Sitch, Charles H.Westwood, Joseph
Owen, H. F. (Herelord)Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhlthe)Whiteley, Wilfrid (Blrm., Ladywood)
Palin. John Henry.Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Paling, WilfridSmith, Lees, Rt. Hon.H.B. (Kelghley)Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Smith, Tom (Pontefract)Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llaneily)
Perry, S. F.Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.Sorensen, R.Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Phillips, Dr. MarlonStamford, Thomas W.Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Picton-Turbervill, EdithStephen, CampbellWilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Pole, Major D. G.Strauss, G. R.Wise, E. F.
Potts, John s.Sullivan, J.Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Price, M. P.Sutton, J. E.Young, Sir R. (Lancaster, Newton)
Qulbell, D. J. K.Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Raynes, W. R.Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)Mr. William Whiteley and Mr. Charleton.

Photo of Mr John Parkinson Mr John Parkinson , Wigan

I beg to move, in page 3, to leave out line 8.

We do riot believe that this is the right time for denuding the Road Fund of such a large sum of money in view of the fact that unemployment is so rife and that we are coming to a winter when so many people will be unemployed that they will be in need of more chances to work. The existing practice of borrowing for the Road Fund will cease, and a large proportion of the £10,000,000 which it was suggested should have been borrowed for this purpose will be dropped, and the remainder will he provided by the Exchequer. This is rather an important departure; in view of the schemes that have been brought forward, and in view of the urgency with which the House has regarded the question of roads and bridges, we look upon it as an innovation which is not warranted. In the White Paper it is stated that: In order to effect the reduction of prospective expenditure out of the Road Fund which is required by His Majesty's Government, it will be necessary for the Minister of Transport to be invested with power to withdraw promises of assistance out of the Road Fund to a number of schemes which have been approved for grant. Having been approved for grant, those schemes will be placed in an invidious position if the grant is withdrawn. The White Paper goes on to qualify that statement, however, and to say: It is proposed, however, to provide that the Minister shall not withdraw the promise of Road Fund assistance to any work on which a local authority is already committed to 'a substantial liability.' I shall refer to that again, because it carries with it many obligations, and the Minister ought to do all he can to relieve the Committee of their suspicions in that direction. The White Paper goes on to state that this liability will be defined quantitatively in terms of a prescribed percentage of the total estimated cost of the particular work. That is a very fine definition, and probably the Minister will be able to say something by way of explanation. The White Paper goes on to say: Assistance towards any expenditure or liability actually incurred by a local authority will be continued at the agreed rate. That is the position in which we stand at the moment, but I notice in the speech which the Minister of Transport made a fortnight ago in the House in regard to the attitude the Ministry would take towards the works, he said: We are dividing the works into three classes (1) those where work has not actually been started, although grants may have been given, (2) works on which a very little money has been expended, and (3) works which have advanced so far that it is obvious they must be finished."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th September, 1931; col. 983, Vol. 256.] I suggest to the Minister that it will be difficult for him to interfere in many of the large schemes if he is to take a broad perspective of what is necessary to meet the requirements of the country. I would like to ask him what is the intention of the Government about the London schemes. They are all of great importance. There is the London cross-river scheme, the Elephant and Castle scheme, Vauxhall and Chelsea bridges, and many others to which the Ministry are practically committed. In the case of those to which they are committed, are they going to withdraw the grant entirely, or will they consult those concerned and try to make proper arrangements whereby those people will not be out of pocket over the preparations they have made? Then there is the Dartford and Purfleet tunnel, on which scheme a considerable amount has been expended. Probably the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Mills) may have something to say on that point, because he has from time to time put questions asking about the progress made. Coming back to the question of responsibility in cases where the schemes are dropped, I want to know whether the loss is to be borne by the public authorities concerned, or whether the Government will reimburse them for what they have expended in order to save that expenditure having to be paid for out of the rates.

The dropping of the schemes will entail heavy financial losses, I presume, and will mean, also, a loss of work to a large number of unemployed people. The Ministry of Transport have provided a considerable amount of work for the unemployed all over the country, and they ought to devote special attention to this point, in order to avoid any break in their record of providing work. As to the Road Fund, what is proposed appears to me to be a complete reversal of policy. It may not be quite as complete as I think, but it is up to the Ministry to give us all the information possible to show us to what extent this reversal will operate. It means curtailing, postponing or dropping many of the large schemes already sanctioned. Grants have probably been made to some of them, and in other cases preparations may have gone on before the grant had been absolutely settled. Now local authorities will be called upon either to drop many of these schemes, or to defer them if work is not actually begun; and even though the work may not have actually started, they may have spent a large sum in surveying and getting detailed information, and as a consequence they may be mulcted in heavy sums. Are the Ministry prepared to give further consideration to the schemes to which sanction has already been given? Are they prepared to meet the local authorities with regard to them The total volume of the works accepted, though in many cases not yet begun, comes to £8,000,000 or £9,000,000, if my memory serves me right. Will the Government compensate all the authorities who have made provision for these schemes by the purchase of land and property, surveying roads and that kind of thing? It may be that many authorities are nearing the end of their financial resources and cannot bear any further loss. Many of the larger authorities are overburdened with rates, and if they have to find the money already expended on any of these schemes the burden will fall upon the rates, which will become unbearable.

The late Government decided to borrow £10,000,000 for the Road Fund. That policy was criticised by one party, and criticised by another party because it was not going far enough or fast enough. The House will remember the roads and bridges schemes of the Liberal party, which they urged the late Government to adopt. They suggested trunk road schemes costing £42,000,000, other road schemes £20,000,000, the reconstruction of bridges £39,000,000, there was special work totalling £29,000,000 and they had a further £16,000,000 for a special London scheme. The late Government were not going rapidly enough for the Liberal party at that time. They were urging that work ought to be found for more men on roads, bridges, harbours and other schemes in order to relieve the severe depression. They suggested that their plans could be carried through in about two years and would provide employment for something like 350,000 men a year. At that time the Liberal party were asking the Government to "hurry up"; now they have changed to "slow down." It must be rather invidious for the new Minister of Transport to have to defend his Department—or at least his party—after that sort of thing, because, after all, the late Government were making progress at a rate which was satisfactory to the country, and were making sure that the schemes brought forward would really provide us with national assets.

Has the Minister in mind any method by which the suggested reductions and cancellations may be made without involving local authorities in serious losses? There are quite a number of large schemes all over the country. I cannot enumerate them all, because they would probably run into hundreds, but we have great schemes like the Humber bridge, the Queensferry bridge, the bridges over the Caledonian Canal, and the Great North Road scheme with which the Durham. County Council are proceeding. These schemes would provide work for thousands of people directly, and there would also be work indirectly for a large number of people in making the materials. During the coming winter this work will be denied to people who are genuinely seeking work; and, after all, I believe that 98 per cent. of our people who are unemployed are genuinely desiring work. I ask the Minister seriously to examine this slowing down of work and to consider the position of the unemployed. In my own industry, the mining industry, we are nearing 400,000 unemployed; and I venture to make this claim; that no class of people are more able to do a good day's work on schemes of this kind than are the miners. Further, I would remind hon. Members that it has been customary to transfer people from the depressed areas to the centres where this work was taking place. That will now go by the board, and we shall find in those areas that we shall be troubled with great unemployment at a time when we ought to be doing everything possible to assist people who are out of work.

These proposals will mean that a large number of those who are now unemployed will, at the end of their 26 weeks, have to appeal to the public assistance committees. That is a very undesirable state of affairs. It is a state of life which none of us would wish to encounter, but which many of us have probably suffered; and having suffered, or knowing what is being suffered through the part we have taken in the public life of the country, we know that our people abhor the idea of being under what we used to call the Poor Law. To put so hand the works of national importance to which I have referred means so much to these people that the Ministry of Transport ought to give very serious consideration to the matter before reducing by £7,750,000 the amount of money to be spent. It will mean reducing the number of people who are able to provide for themselves; it will mean, probably, putting into the background many big schemes with which local authorities have been occupied for a twelvemonth and which they bad expected would absorb some of their unemployed this winter.

I hope the Cabinet will give the Minister power to carry on with those schemes which will provide the greatest amount of work. It is much better to do that than to go forward with a slogan to economise though honest workers starve. Of course we cannot compel she Government to do this, it is in the hands of the Government; but we who come from depressed areas are concerned about the suffering which has gone on during the last four or five years. My area has been a depressed area since 1923. We have mills in that constituency which have never turned a wheel for seven years. All the collieries with one exception are closed down. The great iron and steel works have been disbanded and taken away; the rolling mills the same. Consequently, we have found ourselves in a depressed condition over a course of years, and men whom I know, men with whom I have worked, men who I know would do a fair honest day's work have not had the opportunity of doing work for a good number of years. It may he said that a young man may get work. I am not speaking particularly of the young men. I am speaking more of the men of 50 years of age and upwards, for whom there is hardly any possibility of getting good employment. They will be compelled to have recourse to the public assistance committees during the coming winter. I appeal to the Minister to take all these factors into consideration; and if he can give us a reply which will make us feel that his Department is looking at this matter from the human point of view it will be a great satisfaction to hon. Members.

8.0 p.m.

Photo of Sir Percy Pybus Sir Percy Pybus , Harwich

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson) for the very moderate way in which he has stated his case. I am, however, a little surprised to note the attitude of virgin surprise with which he regarded these proposed reductions in road works. He seemed to me to be anxious to place these cuts in the Estimates like an abandoned baby on the steps of the Ministry of Transport, the inference being that they had never seen that baby before. Make no mistake, it is their baby. They left it there when they left the Ministry so hastily. It was there when I arrived to succeed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney (Mr. Herbert Morrison). I will try to describe in some detail the method by which we propose to achieve the work to which we have set our hands. I have to reduce anticipated cash payments out of the Road Fund next year by nearly £8,000,000. In addition, I am required by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to effect certain savings during the current financial year. The Finance Act, 1931 (Section 36) referred to a figure of £9,000,000 as the maximum amount which might be borrowed by the Treasury during the current financial year for the purpose of making advances to the Road Fund. It has been decided, as announced in the recent White Paper, that the money required for such advances will no longer be borrowed by the Treasury but met from moneys provided by Parliament; that is, out of the Vote. Clause 20 of the present Finance Bill makes the necessary Amendment in the Finance Act, but the Supplementary Estimate, which will be taken to-morrow, provides for only £7,000,000. As a result of economies which local authorities will no doubt themselves effect in various directions and the policy of refraining from new commitments and general slowing down which the Minister must henceforth adopt, it is considered that £7,000,000 should suffice. The saving in Road Fund expenditure this year will contribute to the aggregate figure of £22,000,000 mentioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as the saving to be secured in connection with this year's Budget. Of course, any advance made to the fund will be repayable out of its future income. I am not without hope—indeed, it is my ambition —that a, great part of the field of schemes which are to be suspended shall be settled, not by the arbitrary decision of the Ministry, but by the spontaneous offer of the local authorities. Make no mistake about that. We have met now by far the greater part of the public bodies representing local authorities, and so far I have found them fully seized of the gravity of the position and clearly anxious to play their part in the national crisis.

I have already conferred with the London County Council, the Standing Joint Committee of the Metropolitan Boroughs, the County Councils Association, the Municipal Corporations Association, the Urban District Councils Association, and the Scottish County Councils Association. I have now every reason to believe that the co-operation of local authorities will make my task less difficult than it might have been. Several important local authorities have already spontaneously proposed to help the national effort by postponing large schemes to which assistance had been offered from the Road Fund. It is obvious that we cannot now enter on any substantial scale into new obligations. Such resources as Can be made available will have to be reserved for most pressing works of urgent importance, and, so far as possible, of high value from the point of view of providing employment.

But it is not enough to cry "halt" with regard to new commitments; that would not give the needed savings. The largest group of schemes we have to consider is constituted by those towards which grants have been indicated or promised, but on the site of which no work has yet been begun. Here I am confident that authorities in the majority of cases will be prepared, sometimes readily, sometimes perhaps a little regretfully, to agree to postponement of work. The next field for review is that of works where some comparatively small liability has been incurred by the authority. Here again I have indications that authorities themselves are ready to consider retrenchment. I know that many local autho- rities are quite properly concerned about expenditure incurred in anticipation of our grant. What, they say, is our position if the scheme is suspended? I shall be prepared to contribute the proper Road Fund proportion to any necessary expenditure which an authority has incurred in such a case with my approval.

In a contraction of this sudden and far-reaching nature, it is inevitable that other difficulties, not general in character but peculiar to individual schemes, must arise. These, of course, we shall sympathetically consider, though always with the proviso that they must be regarded in relation to the scheme as a whole. A third and important category is that of major works which represent improvement of a number of successive sections over one route. It is clearly impossible to leave particular sections in a half-finished, and possibly even dangerous condition. This would not be economic, nor have a right place in am economy plan. In many cases, however, it is possible to complete the work on some one section, thus giving us a better road up to a point even though it falls short of the proposals which we and the local authorities had worked out and upon which we had agreed. In all cases we shall do our best to assist local authorities by ensuring that work already done in preparing plans etcetera is not rendered abortive by the erection of new buildings on the proposed lines of any route; and we shall be willing, within the limits of the financial resources available, to look at individual proposals on their comparative merits.

A good deal of the work of the control of road schemes is decentralised and largely delegated to local officers, working in close conjunction with the local authorities. Conferences between them will determine the position of a number of schemes, and I cannot at present foretell what proportion of the £8,000,000 saving can be effected by those means. I have sent a letter to all highway authorities asking them to consider how far they can help the policy of the Government along those lines. I am advised that when I have made a formal promise of a grant out of the Road Fund to a highway authority and that grant has been accepted a contractual obligation exists between myself and the authority. I therefore need power to determine forthwith any grant or promise of grant out of the Road Fund to a highway authority. It is really essential that I should have this power in order to run no risk of failing to effect the necessary £8,000,000 saving next year from the Road Fund. I hope it will not be necessary to use this power extensively. I anticipate that in the vast majority of cases postponement of the work towards which a grant has been offered will be effected, as I have already indicated, by agreement with the highway authority, without any necessity to use this power.

Another point which has disturbed the mind of certain local authorities is the time which will elapse in considering whether their schemes should be suspended or not. I have to say that on that point that I shall endeavour to reach decisions as soon as possible, and in any case before the close of the financial year, provided, however, that nothing is done to increase liabilities meanwhile, there may be instances in which a little delay may enable a scheme to be saved from serious postponement.

I do not propose to ask for any general powers to enable a highway authority to cancel its contracts with third parties without redress to those parties. If, by agreement or otherwise, I have perforce to withdraw from a highway authority my promise of a grant, that authority may then have to withdraw from contractual obligations which it has incurred and in default of agreement the aggrieved party may have recourse to the Courts who may award damages. Where there is a clearly established legal claim I shall pay out of the Road Fund the appropriate grant towards such approved expenditure as the highway authorities may incur. In the White Paper it was stated that promises of assistance would not be withdrawn from any work to which a local authority is already committed to a "substantial liability," which would be defined in terms of a percentage of the total estimated cost of the particular work. I propose to fix this percentage at 25 per cent. There is a class of case in which it will be necessary to provide for determination of obligations relating to "notices to treat," and other obligations in connection with the acquisition of land. I am advised that where, in connection with some proposed highway improvement scheme, a highway autho- rity has served a "notice to treat" upon the owner of land, the mere service of that notice may in certain cases create an obligation, in that the "notice to treat" cannot be withdrawn under the law as it now stands. New powers are therefore required to meet this class of case.

I would now like to pass on to one or two individual cases. It is quite impossible to deal with all the individual schemes which have been brought before the Committee. There are certain major schemes about which there is a good deal of doubt as to whether they ought to be proceeded with or not. I will deal with one case, and that is the Dartford-Purfleet Tunnel. This is a scheme which has already received Parliamentary sanction, and which in normal circumstances the Ministry would have liked to carry out. It is, however, estimated to cost £3,500,000, towards which the Road Fund would contribute 75 per cent. or £2,625,000. Of this contribution, it was expected that approximately £750,000 would come in course of payment during the financial year 1932–33. The Kent and Essex County Councils are each contributing £250,000 to the scheme and the London County Council and Middlesex County Council have also promised contributions. The balance, less any further contributions which might be made by other local authorities, would be found from tolls. It is obvious that in times of special economic crisis, a new facility for traffic costing so large a sum will have to wait, and I am in a position to say that after consulting the proper committees of the Essex and Kent County Councils, I find that they are in agreement that the work should be postponed for a time. It is not proposed to abandon the work; it is merely proposed to postpone its execution. Certain preliminary expenditure in the shape of engineering fees and the purchase of land—about £12,000 for the latter—has already been incurred. Tenders have been obtained for the pilot tunnel, but no tender has been accepted.

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present.

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

I would point out to the Committee that under the Resolution of the 22nd September, a certain position has to be reached at a certain time to-night. Therefore, I cannot accept the proposal for a count.

Photo of Sir Percy Pybus Sir Percy Pybus , Harwich

I was saying that it would be desirable to take the line—

Photo of Mr James Marley Mr James Marley , St Pancras North

On a point of Order. May I ask, Captain Bourne, under which Standing Order is the Chairman empowered not to call a count when his attention is directed to the fact that there is not a quorum present?

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

If the hon. Member will look at previous Rulings he will find that, on the 19th and 20th days of Supply, when under the Standing Orders of the House, Government business has to be brought to a conclusion at certain hours, a count has invariably been refused, and in this case, when the business has to be brought to a conclusion by a certain hour, the order of the House under which the Committee is working prohibits the acceptance of any Motion which would interfere with that.

Photo of Mr James Marley Mr James Marley , St Pancras North

May I ask whether this is the 19th or 20th day of Supply, and where the analogy comes in?

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

The analogy is that the House has made a definite order that certain business shall be completed at a certain time to-night, and it has further laid down that no dilatory Motion of any kind shall be accepted by the Chair. I take as the analogy the Rulings of several of my predecessors, when a definite order has been made by the House, and I cannot accept any Motion which would interfere with the carrying out of that order.

Photo of Mr James Marley Mr James Marley , St Pancras North

I do not agree that a count is a dilatory Motion, or, indeed, is a Motion at all. It is simply a method of bringing Members into the Chamber to attend to the business of the House at any particular time.

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

I have given my Ruling on that point, and must abide by it.

Photo of Sir Percy Pybus Sir Percy Pybus , Harwich

I sympathise with hon. Gentlemen opposite, after the speech of the hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate, in which he pointed out in a dramatic and not untruthful manner how serious the position was, that it should be necessary to call a count in order to carry on the Debate. I was saying that it is hoped to make certain re-arrangements with the other authorities who have promised to contribute towards the construction of the Dartford Tunnel, with a view to making it possible to carry out the project when the time comes to do so. Representatives of the London County Council have already signified their willingness to do this, on the reasonable understanding that all the other authorities concerned would maintain their contributions. Everyone must deplore the necessity for postponing the execution of an improvement of this kind, but I think the general view would be that it would be improper at this time to sink £3,500,000 in a new tunnel of this kind. Provided that we can do so without wasting any of the preliminary expenditure, and 'still safeguarding the line of the tunnel, I feel that there is no other course to adopt but to postpone the execution of that work.

I come now to the Humber Bridge Scheme. This project, which has occupied a great deal of time in Committee, was estimated to cost £1,750,000, and here again the Ministry of Transport had offered to contribute 75 per cent. of the cost. It should be remembered, however, that the project for a Humber Bridge met with much opposition, and at present it has only emerged from the ordeal of a very prolonged hearing before a Select Committee. It is now understood that the promoters, after full consideration, have come to the conclusion not to press forward a request for powers to be granted during the present Session, and they appear to take the view that in present circumstances some postponement of the work is inevitable. I should like to express my sympathy with their desire that the time and money spent in seeking the necessary Parliamentary powers should not be lost, and I venture to hope that Parliament will favourably consider any proposals that the promoters may make for carrying the Bill forward to a future Session. In view of this decision of the promoters, I do not think we can very well discuss any other phase of the scheme.

With regard to the Everton Tunnel at Liverpool, the Road Fund is not committed to any grant, and in present circumstances it would be out of the vest ion to enter into any commitment of the magnitude of this one, which involves no less a sum than £1,750,000. I understand that the hon. Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Mathers) will raise, on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House, the question of the proposals for a new road bridge across the Forth, and I promise the House that I will deal with that question. I think I have now described the general policy which we are proposing to adopt in order to obtain the economies to which we are pledged. I feel certain that, when hon. Members opposite appreciate that these savings are inevitable, and when they appreciate the fact that the local authorities are meeting us with every willingness to co-operate, the progress of our work will not be retarded by any action of anyone in this House.

Photo of Mr David Quibell Mr David Quibell , Brigg

We have listened to the speech of the Minister of Transport with considerable regret, particularly with respect to the curtailment of schemes for the building of roads and bridges. The hon. Gentleman in the past has stood for a policy contrary to that which he has enunciated here to-night; he is a prominent member of the Liberal party who was in favour of large expenditure for the construction of roads and bridges in this country. The promoters of schemes like the Humber Bridge scheme have had to bow the knee, so to speak, but, naturally, after a fight of 30 days before a Select Committee, they have not willingly acquiesced in the postponement of the construction of such an important link between Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. There is another very important fact in connection with the building of roads and bridges, and that is that every one of the Government's proposals for postponement is likely to create unemployment instead of preventing it. In connection with some of these bridges an enormous amount of steel is required. That will greatly benefit a distressed industry like the steel industry. It will give employment to miners, steel-workers, transport workers, and men in the bridge-building sheds; and we on these benches, who, together with those responsible for the Yellow Book, have made speeches in and out of season urging that it is better to provide useful work than to give men unemployment pay, can only look upon these proposals of the Minister of Transport as a very retrograde step.

The hon. Gentleman spoke very sympathetically about local authorities, some of whose minds are 500 years B.C., being quite willing to hold up works of this kind, while Members representing rural constituencies and what we call backward areas have been fighting to compel them to carry out. It is small wonder that such authorities were willing to slow up this very essential work, when we remember how badly they were left in 1919 and 1920 by the Government of the day. They were pressed to carry out schemes for the purpose of giving work. In my own authority, of which I have been a member for 25 years, we have been left high and dry and saddled with huge rates because we were loyal and carried out work for the unemployed. There were schemes that were nearing completion, but certain supplementary schemes were required to complete them, and we are coolly offered 25 per cent. instead of 75 per cent. of the rest of the work, which is essential to complete the schemes. This will materially add to the numbers of the unemployed. A large number of steel works have been employed in making tar macadam for our roads. All this is to be laid off immediately in order to effect economies. All this kind of business has come to an end, and the men have to go to the public assistance committees. Great disappointment will be felt in all districts concerned in the manufacture of these by-products for road-making.

I know I am addressing empty benches. My Conservative friends are tremendously interested in the subject, but there are only two or three of them here. I am pleased, however, to see the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the New Forest (Colonel Ashley) taking an interest in the slaughter of one of his own babies. Provision of work is infinitely better than providing doles, and the Minister's speech will be received with the deepest concern by those, both employers and workmen, engaged in the production of tar macadam, reinforcement, and quarries and transport. His speech will be read with the very deepest concern by those who are dependent on this kind of thing for their livelihood.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley , New Forest and Christchurch

Before I deal with the subject of the Debate, may I make a protest against the very inadequate information which the Committee is given in the White Paper and in the Supplementary Estimate? If the Government want to get their proposals put through, it is to their interest to give the House the fullest information as to what they propose, and the House of Commons, being a very reasonable insitution, will in nine cases out of ten let them have their Vote. If they are not given any information, a lot of time must inevitably be wasted in questions being put to the Minister asking about this and that. As far as the White Paper is concerned, this seems to have been the procedure. The Department provided a full statement of the case. The official whose duty it was to compress it and to put it in a general statement of policy shut his eyes a n d placed his pen on the paper, and wherever his pen fell extracted these figures and tried to make a coherent whole out of them. I have spent some considerable time in trying to hammer out the figures in the White Paper and in the Supplementary Estimate. If there may be some substantial inaccuracy in my remarks, it is not my fault. I should like to ask, first, if there is anything in this Economy Bill which in any way abolishes the Road Fund or modifies its existence, or its activities, or its powers. I do not think there is, but I should like to have it made perfectly plain, because, if so, it would not be to the advantage of the country as a whole.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley , New Forest and Christchurch

I am not responsible for the Yellow Book. A short three months ago the late Minister of Transport asked the House to agree to a proposal that £9,000,000 should be advanced from the Exchequer to the Road Fund for the financial year 1931–32, in order that works for the relief of unemployment should be expedited, because the Road Fund was unable to provide the money. Its resources were exhausted. I moved an Amendment to leave out the words "expedited for the relief of unemployment." The right hon. Gentleman, with his then allies, voted me down and got the Committee's permission to borrow £9,000,000 from the Treasury. I said then, as I say now, that I thought that proposal extremely unwise and that, when the country was living beyond its means, the best way of putting our finances in a sound condition was not to spend more money but to retrench and, therefore, it is with particular satisfaction that I support the proposal of the present Minister.

Photo of Mr David Quibell Mr David Quibell , Brigg

I thought you would.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley , New Forest and Christchurch

Of course, I would. I am consistent. You over there are not consistent at all, and your leaders in the late Cabinet, were not consistent. I am very pleased to be able to support my hon. Friend, because the Government have taken the only sane course, to cut down your expenditure when you are in short street. The permission that the right hon. Gentleman obtained was not confined only to the £9,000,000. It went very much further than that, and I do not think the Committee, three months ago, when they approved it, realised that they were sanctioning not merely a £9,000,000 advance to the Road Fund from the Exchequer for 1931–32, but were in effect giving direct sanction to the whole five-year programme and the trunk road programme. The right hon. Gentleman nods his head. It was in fact so, because in the second year of the programme you agree to advance from the Exchequer a huge sum of money—£9,000,000 in these days is a huge sum—and in effect say that in the next three years, when the Road Fund is short of money, you will agree to the Exchequer advancing the sum necessary to meet the difference between the revenue and expenditure of the Road Fund, whenever the financial year comes under review.

The Committee is in an unusual situation to-night. Three months ago almost to the day it agreed to this huge five-year trunk road programme at a total of £49,500,000, practically £50,000,000, spread over five years, over and above the ordinary expenditure, and to-night they have to face the fact that the present Government, I am thankful to say, have taken the wise view that this expenditure of money is not justified and that the whole of this programme, or as much as can be saved from the wreckage and has not been already absolutely committed by contracts to be carried out, will now have to be held back, postponed and in some cases, I dare say, entirely abandoned. It may be said that it is extraordinary, seeing that a Socialist Government is extravagant—that is what you expect from it, and that is what it is there for—that the local authorities, who as a whole are far more sane than the central Government, agree to such wild cat schemes. The answer is twofold. They were dealt with by two able and extremely persuasive gentlemen, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney (Mr. Herbert Morrison) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham). You can perhaps hardly conceive that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney was the persuasive genteel gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Edinburgh was the stern autocrat, but that was the fact. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney with his well-known persuasiveness got hold of these local authorities. He had them in his room and he talked to them very nicely, and, what was much more important, promised them grants beyond the dreams of avarice, grants far greater than had ever been the general rule before, and in consequence they succumbed to his blandishments and agreed to these very extensive works, which after all, were to be paid for—I stand to be corrected if I am wrong—as to not more than 20 per cent. out of local rates and 80 per cent. out of the Road Fund.

Those authorities which did not fall in with the persuasive activities of the late Minister of Transport were threatened by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Edinburgh in a speech which he made during the London County Council elections that, if they did not agree to what the Minister of Transport put before them, legislation would be passed to compel them to agree. [HON. MEATTIERS: "Hear, hear!"] That from the Socialist benches shows what care hon. and right hon. Gentleman have for local self-government. They think that it is right that representatives of ratepayers, the local voters in a big town or in a large county area should be dragooned by the central Government. I take exactly the opposite view, that local government is the sane government and ought to be looked after, and that the central Government should interfere as little as possible with the discretion of local authorities.

In spite of all this expenditure of money and all those blandishments and threats, what was really accomplished by this vast programme? Up to the end of May last, the right hon. Lady the Mem- ber for Wallsend (Miss Bondfield), in an answer which she gave as Minister of Labour at the end of May, stated that 96,000 individuals were in employment in the last week of May owing to road and bridge works which were expedited for the relief of unemployment. That was, after all, a very small contribution to the doing away with unemployment. If you have 96,000 persons employed upon road relief works out of 2,700,000 unemployed, it cannot be said, even if all the work was useful work, which it was not, to have done very much towards solving the problem. But when we consider what those 96,000 persons were costing the country, one is absolutely appalled at the amount of money which has been wasted. I will not go over the old formula that £1,000,000 spent in 12 months gives employment to 4,000, but, if you apply that formula to the figure of 96,000, you will see that the country was spending in employing those 96,000 persons at the rate of £24,000,000 per annum.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley , New Forest and Christchurch

The hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) says, "Hear, hear." That shows how perfectly hopeless it is to expect from hon. Members opposite a clear appreciation of the difficulties of the country at the present moment. In spite of all our troubles and financial difficulties and all the things which have happened, they still applaud the sentiment of spending, and spending lavishly, as the cure of all our troubles. That was the programme of the late Government for 1931–32. What was their programme of spending money in 1932–33? The estimated expenditure out of the Road Fund in 1932–33 was £32,000,000. The income was to be £22,000,000, and therefore in 1932–33 there was to be a deficit of £10,000,000, which again had to be found by the Exchequer and out of the pockets of the taxpayers. In the next year 1933–34—the peak year in which the works would have been under full steam—the deficit would probably have been £12,000,000. In order to summarise the proposals of those five years, I would remind the Committee of the vast sums of money which the late Government were prepared to spend and were spending before the great crisis came a month ago. The deficit on the Road Fund in 1930–31 was £7,000,000, in 1931– 32, £9,000,000, in 1932–33, £10,000,000, in 1933–34, estimated to be £12,000,000, and in the last year 1934–35, it would have been £11,000,000, making in all the £50,000,000 I have already mentioned. There can be no justification for this expenditure except the relief of unemployment, from the point of view of transportation in this country, because we have—and I think most Members of the Committee will agree—in this country roads which are unequalled anywhere, at any rate as regards their surface, we have a railway system second to none, and we have a coastwise trade which is carried on as efficiently as, and even better than, that of any other country in the world. Therefore you cannot, except for the relief of unemployment, where I join issue with hon. Members opposite, justify this large expenditure of money.

That was the position at the beginning of last month. Then came the May Report and the financial crisis. I was amazed that the right hon. Member for South Hackney should have put down such an Amendment as we are now discussing. Some consistency is expected from an ex-Cabinet Minister and from a gentleman of his attainments. We have had certain information as to how the late Cabinet dealt with this matter. They provisionally approved cuts not only in regard to education and unemployment benefit but on. the roads, even greater than are proposed to-night, yet, having agreed to cuts in regard to the roads and to other great economies, the right hon. Member for South Hackney comes here to-night and calmly opposes these proposals. He supports the hon. Member who moved the reduction, by his presence, and no doubt when he speaks later he will reinforce the hon. Member's arguments. We have had from a late Socialist Cabinet Minister, the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) a statement with regard to the crisis over the cuts. Speaking during the week-end, he said: Every one of the cuts that the Government have proposed now, except in regard to unemployment benefit, was agreed to tentatively, as they say, by the late Government, and every cut is less than the cuts provisionally agreed upon by the late Government. [Interruption.] Do not let us quarrel about the word "tentatively." [HON. MEMBERS: "That is the whole point !"] It means that they agreed to these cuts, provided that the 10 per cent. was not cut off unemployment benefit. [HON. MEMBERS: Not a bit of it!"] Perhaps hon. Members will ask the right hon. Member for South Hackney to explain what "tentatively" means. I have listened to a good many Debates in this House, and there seems to be the greatest difficulty in understanding what "tentatively" or "provisionally" really means. It will be a great advantage to have an authoritative statement from the right hon. Gentleman, who was present when these Cabinet discussions took place. Eventually, the late Government came to the conclusion that they could not carry on these vast programmes. Let me examine the proposals which the present Amendment seeks to continue.

In 1931–32, the present financial year, the Government seeks to cut down the over-expenditure from £9,000,000 to £7,000,000. The estimated expenditure is £31,000,000 and the estimated receipts of the Road Fund £24,000,000. In the middle of a financial year I know that it is difficult to cut down, but I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to tell us why more than £2,000,000 cannot be saved on £9,000,000. In this crisis I should have thought that you would not necessarily abandon works in operation but that you would slow them down. If we have to go on economising, as we shall have to do for some time, we can spread the employment over a longer period by slowing down, and thereby deal with the hardest cases. It means that you do not eat your cake in three or four mouthfuls, but you spread it over a full meal. In 1932–33, instead of over-spending by £10,000,000, it proposed to over-spend by 22,000,000. The deficit is to be met by economies of £8,000,000, and the taxpayer is to find the extra £2,000,000. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to tell us what it is proposed to do in 1933–34. Under the late Government's proposals it appears to me that there would have been a deficit of £12,000,040. In the White Paper that has been issued no mention is made of 1933–34. I should like to have information on that point, because it is very germane to our discussion that we should know not only what is going to be saved next year but the year afterwards.

Of all the economies that are to be made I hope that the Minister of Trans- port will not economise on maintenance. It would be better almost to scrap new work, in view of the necessity for economy, so long as he keeps up the present high standard of maintenance of our roads. If we once begin to cut down the standard of maintenance on the roads it will be a very serious matter, considering the very heavy traffic on the roads and the fact that great vehicles, breaking the law very often, go at great speeds. Only a road of the finest and soundest construction can possibly stand up to that traffic. Therefore, if the Parliamentary Secretary can indicate that maintenance is going to be kept up, so far as the Ministry can keep it up, I shall be much obliged. I agree with the hon. Member opposite that whatever money is to be spent on the roads it ought to be used as far as possible so that steel, iron and other articles which are manufactured in this country can be used.

I should like to say a few words about the Caledonian Canal. The Minister of Transport said they proposed either to abandon or to slow down the building of bridges on the Caledonian Canal. I think that work ought to go on. Everybody who has been there knows how essential it. is for communications in Invernesshire that those bridges should be capable of carrying heavy loads. At the present time only the lightest cars can go over them. If we can improve our communications and at the same time help our iron and steel industries we shall be doing the right thing with the money available. I should be glad if the Parliamentary Secretary would tell us definitely what has been agreed with the County Council's Association as to the work to be done in their various areas. My county council meet on the 12th October, when we shall be considering the economy proposals. It would be of the greatest help to that and other local bodies if they had definitely before them exactly what the Ministry will do and what they will not do. They cannot possibly decide on the schemes that they will go on with unless they know and can be guided by the principles laid down by the Ministry.

Photo of Mr William Lawther Mr William Lawther , Barnard Castle

The fact that so many Members are anxious to speak on this matter is an indication as to the seriousness with which we on this side of the Committee regard the issues that are involved. I want to raise a question which affects my own county of Durham. We shall all agree, having listened to this speech of the Minister of Transport, that he read his instructions very carefully. It would have been just as well, so far as these various cuts are concerned, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer instead of sending Minister after Minister down here like so many boys to interpret his wishes had ordered gramophone records. In the first place, the Minister has stated that local authorities have agreed quite readily to the cuts which have been suggested. I want to ask the Parliamentary-Secretary to inform us whether a single county council has accepted these cuts? As a matter of fact the particular areas where schemes have been cut down are clamouring for them to be carried through. What has happened is that the Minister comes along or sees the representatives of the County Councils Association and, like an auctioneer at the street corner, says, "You must take it or leave it, or go home without it." The County Councils Association and the local authorities had no option whatever but to accept the cuts, and when the Minister says that they have agreed quite readily then all I can say is that as far as the county which sent the Prime Minister here is concerned they have not agreed to these cuts and in fact they are very much alarmed. And for this reason.

I want to repeat to-night what I said on a previous occasion. The right hon. and gallant Member for the New Forest (Colonel Ashley) said that the late Minister of Labour had to force local authorities to carry out these schemes. Exactly the opposite is true, so far as the county of Durham is concerned. They urged the late Minister of Transport to proceed with schemes and there was no more willing advocate of that policy three months ago than the Prime Minister. Now there is all this quibbling about the crisis; then he was one of those who urged the county council to go forward with their schemes. The county of Durham has been employing 1,000 men directly as a result of the schemes, and all that is now to be put on one side. The right hon. and gallant Member for the New Forest asked whether it was a wise expenditure. What are you going to do with these thousand men and their families? You are going to prevent them working and, by the vote which was given at half-past seven this evening, you are going to prevent them getting unemployment benefit. Therefore, I am entitled to ask the Parliamentary Secretary what they are going to do with these men when they are discharged. In his statement made on the 16th of this month the Minister said: Obviously, in making these savings, we must, whether it be cutting down a work, or refusing to finish a work, or refusing to start a work, make up our minds that at the end we have got the best bargain for the State, for the local authorities, and for the travelling public."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th September, 1931; col. 183, Vol. 256.] 9.0 p.m.

I want to know as a representative of the electors in the County of Durham what benefit Durham is going to get in any shape or form from these cuts? What is going to be the result of the most brutal, inhuman and Hunnish methods that have ever been adopted? It is the most callous thing that has ever been done; hut it is only one phase of the callous policy of the present Government. No wonder the Seaham Division has unanimously agreed to, seek a new candidate for the Division when they see the policy for which the Prime Minister stands in regard to his own county. He has been tired before when reaching the County of Durham, but he will be a good deal more tired when he puts in an appearance on this occasion. For the Minister of Transport to urge that local authorities are agreed on this policy is the sheerest bunk ever put forward in this Chamber. You may take every local authority in Durham, urban and rural, and if you can find one out of the 20 odd local authorities in that county which has agreed to this policy then those who represent the County of Durham will never speak again in this Chamber. Even the most backward areas are up in arms.

On a previous occasion the right hon. and gallant Member for the New Forest said that he wanted to have a clear understanding on what principle the Minister of Transport is proceeding in regard to works which the late Minister of Transport had sanctioned. My hon. Friend who represents one of the Northumberland Divisions declared that a road has been begun there but that work has been stopped in the middle of the drain. I suppose they will come back at some other time and fill it in. That is exactly what is taking place. Schemes have been begun, now they are to be left. Instead of agreeing with the cuts, as the Minister has said, local authorities have done exactly the opposite. The Minister has simply said "It has got to stop. I have to swallow, as a Liberal, every principle that I ever enunciated or advocated in this House. You must stop your excavations and everything else." How Liberals are going to square this decision with whatever political conscience they have left beggars my imagination.

We believe that this policy will work out, not for the betterment of the country, not, as the Minister declared, as the best bargain for the State, but as the worst. Once you begin to discharge men you may think that you have dealt with them finally, but we control the public assistance committee in Durham, and we are going to control it as we believe we were elected to control it. Moreover, we are going to control this question, this road question, in the way in which we were elected to carry it out, in the interests of the administrative county. You will heap burdens on the local ratepayers. You did it very well when last in office by the Derating Act. Here, by the cutting down of unemployment benefit by £11,000,000, and by taking £8,000,000 from the Road Fund, you are doing only a part of what you did for your friends when you were last in office. You took out of the National Exchequer money for farmers and factory owners and quarry owners, and you are going to adopt a most miserable and petty and brutal method now by cutting down the road works that are necessary. Liberals urged these works on the Minister of Transport, and we thought at that time that they could not be "kidding." We all thought that Philip of Macedonia could not stop the schemes going through. The Prime Minister sent along one of his notes. He said: "Go along and you will get the money all right. I will see Philip and see that he shovels it out." We went ahead, and directly a scheme was put into operation, to and behold the Government come along and say: "All your schemes and all your surveys are finished with absolutely."

I can understand some local authorities agreeing to stop these schemes. The policy at one time advocated was to waken the sleepy local authorities. Now the Government are saying to them: "Go to sleep and never waken again, and we will never disturb you. There will never be anything more done." The Government are going to send out their inspectors. They will have to send them to my county to carry out their policy in relation to the Ministry of Health. There is no one of the opposite side of the Committee representing a single part of Durham except one lone scalp that got in for Sunderland, which is not in the administrative county, and another representative for the Hartlepools. So far as we are concerned in the administrative county, we say that the Prime Minister has no mandate to sanction any of these methods, with their sheer callousness. If everyone were to be in a position that the right hon. Gentleman will be in after all the outs are made, we would offer no protest from Durham, because our people would be merry and bright, and would be in a handsome position to go anywhere they liked—because after the outs had been made the State would see that they were kept high and dry and secure from any further economic blasts.

Lieut.-Colonel WATTS-MORGAN:

I wish especially to say a word to the right hon. and gallant Member for the New Forest (Colonel Ashley). To me it was not merely surprising but astounding to hear an ex-Minister of Transport express the view that he expressed to-night. They seemed to be so strange and so foreign to him. We in Glamorgan had the honour of a visit from the right hon. Gentleman once or twice during his term of office. To hear him so glibly making the allegations which he made to-night, as to unnecessary work and waste and extravagance in the construction of new roads or the improvement of existing roads, was astounding. It is very easy to make a charge and I should have much admired the right hon. Gentleman if he had remained here to give us some proof of his allegations. When he has been to Glamorgan he has had nothing but praise to bestow on the county for its efforts in improving the roads. We have been engaged on that work since 1924, and I have had the honour of being chairman of the Roads and Bridges Committee of the Glamorgan County Council. We were already far ahead with our programme.

We have been alarmed by the circular that was sent out by the new Minister of Transport on 16th September. We were invited, at a conference at the Guildhall, held at the request of the present Prime Minister, to speed up our schemes, not that we had been lacking in our efforts before that time. We were encouraged by sympathy and by the effort that the Government promised to make. In answer to that invitation we got plans ready, got all our officials working night and day, and we promoted no fewer than 112 schemes. Some of them are completed and others nearly so. For those 112 schemes we have had indications that grants will be received ranging from 85 to 60 per cent. Of these 112 schemes, work is already in progress on 107; and of these, 74 are actually nearing completion, while 26 are about half completed and in the case of seven the work is about one-third completed. All those schemes are affected. Work is now in progress on improvements to county roads in connection with which grants have been indicated and at the end of August as a result of these schemes about 3,750 men were taken off the unemployed list in the county. On the other hand, the schemes for works approved in principle by the Ministry but for which no grant has yet been made, total 42 and those have not yet been commenced.

We understand from the circular which has now been issued that there is no hope whatever, as far as those schemes are concerned, of receiving consent or approval notwithstanding the parlous condition of the county. These schemes must be held up, but this is the point on which I wish to challenge the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the New Forest. We spent last year, on improvements and widening and other matters connected with roads, with the assistance of the Ministry of Transport, £844,000, and the amount for the second period of the programme, embraced in this year is £584,000. In the three years' programme which is scheduled, we had a total of £2,500,000 with regard to road construction. I wish to ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the New Forest, can he point to anything wasteful or extravagant with regard to any of those schemes? I wish also to ask the Minister, or the Parliamentary Secretary, for some assurance concerning the position in which we may be left by the present proposal. I take it that as regards the works which are now about to be completed there will be no difficulty at all when we present our final statement respecting them to the Ministry and that we shall be certain of receiving the promised grants on those schemes. But I would like to know what schemes are to be allowed to proceed?

I hope that the Minister will be generous to us in that respect. Subject to the conditions, first, that the roads are required, and the improvement proposed is a work of public utility, and second, that it will find work for the greatest possible number of unemployed, I hope that we shall be allowed to carry forward some of these other schemes to their completion. I hope that the Ministry will give us the same consideration in the future as they have given us in the past and that they will treat our area as a necessitous area. We have to thank the late Government for the very generous treatment meted out to the county. From September, 1929, to September, 1931, we were able to find employment for eight weeks for 14,212 men, and, as I have said, at the end of last month we had 3,750 men working on these schemes. Believe me, that that has been a great boon to the unemployed in Glamorgan. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will bring to the notice of the Minister our needs in that respect. The balancing of the Budget and the exercise of economy may be pushed to a very illogical conclusion as far as we are concerned. We may be trying to balance our Budget and to economise in the county of Glamorgan only to find ourselves flat on our backs under the burdens imposed.

Photo of Sir James Blindell Sir James Blindell , Holland with Boston

I find myself in sympathy, generally, with the economies proposed by the Government, but I think that the economy indicated in this proposal is the least justified of them. Hon. Members opposite are constantly putting forward very strong pleas on behalf of the unemployed and I would point out that road schemes provide more employment than other schemes put forward from Whitehall are likely to provide. I do not think that we get very much further by trying to attribute responsibility to one party as against another for the so-called extravagance of the last 10 years. I believe that all parties must take a full share of blame for any extravagance which has occurred in national and local expenditure. My experience on a local authority has been this—especially during the last eight or nine years—that scheme after scheme has been passed by local councils merely because Whitehall pressed them to do so. From Whitehall we got an undertaking that 60 per cent. or 75 per cent. grants would be made. We were too simple to realise that the ratepayer had to pay the balance and that the 75 per cent. simply came from the same ratepayer out of his other pocket as a taxpayer.

Local authorities, when urged from Whitehall, have been extravagant during the last 10 years, but there is one point about this 'economy which I wish to stress. I want hon. Members opposite to do a little more justice to one section of the community whom they presume to represent. They are always talking about the unemployed. They have objected strongly to the cut in unemployment benefit; they have objected to anything being taken from the insured unemployed. But what about the uninsured unemployed? These road schemes provide work for the uninsured unemployed agricultural worker, and I am rather sorry that in all the pleas that have been put forward, all the hard cases that have been cited, all the tales of woe that we have heard, not one word has been said by any hon. Member opposite depicting the condition of the unemployed agricultural worker. Hon. Members should remember that they came to this House definitely pledged to see that these workers were brought within the unemployment scheme, and that pledge has not been honoured.

Photo of Mr William Taylor Mr William Taylor , Norfolk South Western

It is only fair to point out that some of the rural Members have been sitting here long before the hon. Member came in, and we have not been called yet.

Photo of Sir James Blindell Sir James Blindell , Holland with Boston

I am not speaking about the Debate to-night. I have sat through the whole Debate except for 10 minutes, so that there is no complaint there. It is true to say that hon. Members opposite came into the House under a definite pledge from their party that these men should be included in an insurance scheme. They have not honoured that pledge. Those who sat on the Front Bench a few weeks ago sat there week after week, and they never asked why the pledge had not been honoured. These people are unemployed, and while hon. Members opposite are so concerned about the 10 per cent. cut for those who have something coming in, my complaint is they have not said a word about the man who has nothing coming in. With regard to the Road Fund and the £8,000,000 cut which is proposed, I should like to ask the Minister whether when sanctioning schemes he will remember the unemployed agricultural worker who has, not 17s. or 15s. 3d., but nothing coming in, and who must go straight to the Poor Law for relief, and whether the Minister will impose the condition that preference shall be given to these uninsured unemployed men? It is for this reason that I have ventured to intervene in the Debate. I do hope that something can be done for these men. While I have every sympathy with every other class of unemployed, I have more sympathy with the man or woman who can do nothing but go straight to the Poor Law when Circumstances run against them.

Photo of Mr William Taylor Mr William Taylor , Norfolk South Western

The Minister of Transport, who represents a semi-rural Division, has a very difficult task ahead of him in relation to the really necessitous areas finding the ways and means which have hitherto been available for the development of highways and finding employment. I want to speak from the standpoint of the county of Norfolk, a part of which I have the honour to represent, and as vice-chairman of the highways management committee for that county. I wish to draw attention to the grave emergency in which the rural side of our country—and it is mainly rural—finds itself in relation to the problem of unemployment, and to emphasise the real help that the Minister could give if, instead of cutting down the grants to such counties as ours in the very exceptional circumstances of an entire absence of any form of unemployment insurance for the farm labourer, he would see that some elasticity should be given in the extension of grants to the counties which suffer from this injustice. I am strengthened in that view by the fact that last year in Norfolk we had 2,750 unemployed farm workers who had to go to public assistance committees for relief. It cost our already impoverished county something like £82,000, throughout the winter months, to meet our responsibilities. Apprehension, therefore, is intensified by the prospects for the coming winter under the even more stringent conditions affecting the arable side of the agricultural industry in the eastern counties. We look to the prospects of the coming winter with the greatest misgivings.

I beg the Minister, even at the cost of finding some difficulty with his colleagues, to take his courage in his hands and to insist upon the third-class roads, running through the villages of rural England, receiving a fairer share than they have yet received of the very wide expenditure that has been incurred in connection with the creation of the first-class and great trunk roads, the cost of which has been colossal. Those roads have been made like billiard tables, and yet there are hundreds of miles of third-class roads in the backward areas of the villages which are not attached to the big trunk roads, and there is the prospect this winter of miles of starved highways and thousands of idle men who might be brought together in a practical scheme of constructive development. It would give employment and save the local rates as well as preserve the moral of the men and enhance the carrying capacity of the highways which would thus be repaired. It would be well worth while for the Minister to justify his appointment by showing a determined courage to see that our village roads get a fairer share than they have yet had.

I know I am rather knocking at a door that is being even more tightly bolted in the new economy proposals, but as far as we in Norfolk are concerned, we are facing a position where the poverty is enhanced, and in regard to which the National Government have indicated little or no hope that any help would be given. They are even worse than their predecessors in getting down to practical schemes in the agricultural districts. If we cannot have unemployment insurance, then do let us find employment grants which will enable us, at least, to keep our heads above water as far as this side of rural life is concerned. In conclusion, I ask the Minister what is the present position of the Ministry of Transport towards the great by-pass scheme in the Norwich area which seems to have been slowing down, and whether the King's Lynn development will receive the financial support promised earlier in relation to the development of a highway which may be of the greatest importance to our people?

Photo of Mr Gervais Rentoul Mr Gervais Rentoul , Lowestoft

I feel very much in sympathy with the plea that has been put forward by the last two speakers. The interest of the hon. Member for South-West Norfolk (Mr. W. B. Taylor) in the agricultural worker is well known. He speaks always with a great deal of force and, if he will allow me to say so, moderation, which in itself makes a certain appeal, and I should like to support the plea that has been made, that if special consideration or preference can he given to the claims of the unemployed agricultural worker in regard to any schemes of road development, that should certainly be done. One is bound to confess, after listening to many of the speeches that have been made by hon. Members opposite, that they seem to be almost under the impression that it is proposed to stop road expenditure altogether. That is very far from being the case.

The hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Lawther) described this as a brutal, inhuman, callous policy. That was moderation in excelsis! That kind of language was used to enforce his argument that the county councils had not agreed to these particular proposals. I do not suppose that these proposals would be particularly acceptable to any county council if times were normal, but this at all events may be said, that the overwhelming majority of the county councils of the country have responded loyally to the demands, the very grievous demands, that are made upon them by the Government owing to the necessities of the times in which we live.

I regret that the late Minister of Transport is not in his place, because certainly it is somewhat surprising to find him supporting, as I assume he is going to do, this Amendment. Those of us who were brought into contact with him in his official capacity when he was in office found him always not only conciliatory, so far as it was possible for him to be so, but extremely businesslike and practical in his view of any situation; and it is no secret that he was regarded by many of those who were opposed to him in politics as one of the few bright spots of the late Administration. It is, as I say, surprising, for anyone who is accustomed to take practical, businesslike views of any problem, to be assuming the attitude which he is with regard to this Amendment, especially as we are led to believe that the Cabinet of which he was a member had agreed to these particular economies.

Photo of Mr John Mills Mr John Mills , Dartford

The same old story !

Photo of Mr Gervais Rentoul Mr Gervais Rentoul , Lowestoft

It may be the same old story. I dare say it is a disagreeable story and a very awkward story, but I am afraid it is a story that hon. Members opposite and many people in the country will hear repeated a great many times, and it has this advantage over many stories, that it happens to be a true story. At all events, it will be interesting to see, when the late Minister of Transport comes to speak, as I understand he is going to do presently, whether he denies that these particular economies were included in those which were provisionally, or tentatively or with whatever qualifying word hon. Members may like to use, included in the scheme of economy that was adopted by the late Cabinet. It is an insult to the intelligence of this Committee to suggest that you can ride from responsibility by making this use of the word "provisionally" or "tentatively."

Many of us supported the late Minister of Transport in regard to many of his proposals when he was in office, particularly in connection with road traffic, and we supported him, I would remind the Committee, against the strenuous opposition of many of those belonging to his own party. We supported him because we were not aware then, as we have unfortunately become aware since, of the immensely critical condition of our national finances. It is not suggested by anyone who cares for the development of road transport in this country that any of the schemes that were under consideration by the Minister of Transport are in themselves unnecessary or undesirable. They are all schemes, so far as I am aware, which we hope may be carried into effect at a later date, when the situation improves, but at the present time we feel that those schemes must be viewed in their proper perspective, when we are faced with the disagreeable necessity of retrenchment on every side, and when we are trying to take a broad view of the whole field of national expenditure.

I do not suppose there would be any difference of opinion on this subject if it were not for the view held by some hon. Members opposite that this may have a detrimental effect on employment. That is a very serious consideration, but apart from that consideration, namely, whether by embarking on these schemes we cart provide additional employment for those who are at present out of work, there is no doubt that road development is really a luxury at the present time. Maintenance is vastly important, as has already been pointed out, but we must bear in mind that our roads, although capable of improvement, although undoubtedly there is a great deal of work to be done, are, taken as a whole, the best in Europe. About that, there is not much question, and it is also significant to remember that both the Majority and the Minority Reports of the May Committee considered that some slowing down would be justifiable. I know that hon. Members opposite treat with a certain amount of disregard the recommendations of the majority, but I find that on page 246 in the Minority Report of the May Committee, there appear these words: We feel that there are substantial grounds for the general opinion that the development of arterial roads has reached a point where, in present financial circumstances, a slowing down might take place without serious disadvantage. Thai is the opinion expressed in the Minority Report. It is not a question now of any proposal to stop all work on roads. In fact, so far as this year is concerned, the economy that is aimed at is a surprisingly small one. It is proposed, if I understand the figures aright, to spend over £30,000,000 on road works this year, and that there will only be a saving of about £2,000,000, and probably that £2,000,000 is in connection with schemes which for the most part have not yet been started. There is nothing particularly drastic about that, unless, of course, you take the view that you are entirely opposed to all retrenchment of any kind, which I do not think is the opinion of any hon. Member sitting opposite.

There are a great many things which, if the times justified it, if the financial position of the country permitted it, we would all desire to see done. I think a great deal of work is urgently necessary in regard to the removal of level crossings, which are certainly a serious sort of danger in many parts of the country, and in regard to the provision of additional by-pass roads, or, in connection with London, in regard to the development of Charing Cross Bridge and the Elephant and Castle traffic problem, but the suggestion is that they are not unnecessary, but works which in present circumstances must be postponed.

Then, with regard to employment, it has been pointed out that all this enormous expenditure on road development has only provided employment for 96,000 people. Although that is a large number, it is unfortunately a small number compared with the total of the unemployed. That has been done at a cost of £24,000,000. How was it possible for any Government which was faced with terribly grave financial conditions and under a necessity of effecting economies in every direction, to leave out of consideration expenditure on roads? The figures showing the amount of the deficit growing year by year are altogether startling. They are set out on page 107 of the May Report. The estimated deficit at 31st March, 1932, is £8,645,000; 1933, £18,785,000; 1934, £26,590,000; 1935, £30,340,000, and 1936, £29,365,000. In view of these figures, it was impossible for any Government which was committed to a policy of economy and retrenchment, to leave out of their calculation an expenditure so enormous. All of us regret this curtailment and that it has been necessary to bring forward these proposals, especially those of us who have tried to take a special interest in transport questions. In the present circumstances of the nation, we feel that the Government have no alternative but to bring forward these proposals. Therefore, I shall support them without hesitation.

Photo of Mr John Mills Mr John Mills , Dartford

The best answer one can give to the speech that has just been delivered is to get down to a statement of the actual amounts to he spent. If I quote from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the New Forest (Colonel Ashley), who was Conservative Minister of Transport, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lowestoft (Sir G. Rentoul) may be prepared to accept his figures where he would not accept mine. Speaking in the House as recently as 16th September, when the first Estimate was submitted by the Government the right hon. Gentleman said: It is obvious that, if you are only going to spend next year £2 750,000 instead of £10,000,000, and in this financial year, perhaps, only £1,500,000 instead of whatever proportion remains between now and the end of the financial year, it is most important that the money should be spent so as to give the utmost measure of employment.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley , New Forest and Christchurch

The hon. Gentleman ought to read the whole speech. I was alluding to the over-spending of the Road Fund. The whole of the Road Fund has to be spent plus those amounts I mentioned. I was not only mentioning the £1,500,000; it is obvious the roads will cost more than that.

Photo of Mr John Mills Mr John Mills , Dartford

I think that the Committee, after reading the schedules of these economies, will see how much accuracy there is in the point I am making. The right hon. and gallant Member came to my assistance in trying to put forward the necessity for getting on with some communication between Essex and Kent. He went on to say: It will be much better, therefore, to devote this money to the Dartford Tunnel, where a large number of men can be employed, where a great deal of steelwork would be used."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th September, 1931; col. 972, Vol. 256.] I will not go through the rest of the speech, because my right hon. Friend the late Minister of Transport is about to reply to some of the arguments. To anyone who has the efficiency of the transport of this country at heart, the present means of transportation between the division of the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Sir G. Rentoul), and the whole of Essex and Kent, amply justifies getting on with the job. If any question of economy is to be considered, and there is any question of alternative suggestions as between a tunnel under the Thames and a high level bridge, it does not matter to the County authorities whichever is adopted, but Essex and Kent, Hertfordshire and the other counties want to reach one another. All their traffic has to go through the jigsaw puzzle of London, and the only access they have across the river is the Woolwich Ferry and the Gravesend Ferry, which are subject to fogs and tides. Apart from that, they have to go through Blackwall Tunnel or Rotherhithe Tunnel. I appeal to the Minister of Transport to see what he can do in reviewing this scheme, and if the tunnel must be abandoned, to consider whether or not something cannot be done for the steel and cement workers by giving us some communication between Kent and Essex, which is very necessary.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I must apologise to the Committee for being absent during part of the Debate, but I was occupied in giving advice to Metropolitan Borough Council candidates on how to handle council officials when they are elected. The right hon. and gallant Member for the New Forest (Colonel Ashley) and the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke a short time ago were rather anxious that I should reveal to the Committee the secrets of the last Cabinet. I am bound to say that I am getting rather amazed, surprised and pained at the irresponsible way in which hon. Gentlemen opposite, and particularly right hon. Gentlemen, who ought to know better because they have taken the Privy Councillor's oath, treat the secret proceedings of the Cabinet. They may be irresponsible about these subjects; the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the New Forest may forget all about his Privy Councillor's oath, but I am too new to forget it, and I am, at any rate, going to uphold the best traditions of the office.

It is a bright idea that when you get a National Government in office, a mixed and assorted Government, it is to be assumed that the opposition must suddenly cease to function, and that it must discharge the duties of the Opposition and carry the burden of the baby of the Government as well. This Bill is the Government's business, and it is for us to attack it and to tear it to pieces if we like, and we are going to do what we think proper in this respect. It is time that was made perfectly clear. My hon. Friend the Minister of Transport quite rightly said that the work to which he had been consigned and to which he had set his hand, was a difficult and an unpleasant task. I am bound to say that the work to which he has had to set his hand is work to stop work, and it certainly is a very unpleasant experience for the hon. Gentleman. If his own personality and pleasant manner make it impossible for me to be bitter with him, my sympathy is with him in having to go to the Ministry of Transport after a period of great activity—and, if I may say so with some modesty, of great popularity—to switch things off and slow them down. It is a sad fate, and, far from the salary of the right hon. Gentleman being reduced, I am not sure that it ought not to be increased.

The Minister told us that the local authorities were anxious to play their part in the new situation. The right hon. And gallant Gentleman the Member for the New Forest was good enough to say that I was successful in making them play their part when the programmes were expanded. It is true that we have had a considerable measure of co-operation from the local authorities, irespective of their political convictions, but I am bound to say that I know that some of them will not require any persuasion from the Ministry to stop their schemes. Therefore, the Minister must not plead it as a virtue that he is having success in persuading them to slow down. A number of them—by no means all of them—will be glad of the opportunity to apply the principles of the Conservative party and go backwards instead of forwards. The Minister said that contracts with outside authorities would be respected. I would like him to tell us whether, so far as any contractual obligations arise between the Ministry and the local authorities on direct labour schemes, those contracts also will be respected. If the Parliamentary Secretary could give us information on that point, I should be much obliged. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite who was formerly Minister of Transport had the impression, I thought, that this task of slowing down and going backwards was one more appropriate to him than the present holder of the office. I think that is probably true. I think the right hon. and gallant Gentleman could have entered upon this new policy with real enthusiasm and with white-heat fervour, and it may be that in some ways it would have been better to give him a job after his own heart than to have given the present Minister a job which, I am sure, is not after his own heart.

This item in the Schedule of the Bill, read in conjunction with the first Clause of the Bill, gives the Minister powers, as far as I can see—I should be happy to be corrected if I am wrong—at any rate to vary the percentage grants which are paid to the local authorities. By including roads in the Schedule of the Bill the House will give absolute power to the Minister of Transport, by Order-in-Council, to vary the grants which have been given to local authorities for the construction and maintenance of classified roads. I am not sure that under that Clause the Road Fund itself, as a settled statutory entity, could not be interfered with by Order-in-Council. It will be remembered that the May Committee recommended that the Road Fund should cease to have a separate existence, and it is known that the Treasury have had ambitions of that kind in the past. We ought to be assured whether, in fact, that Clause, in conjunction with the Schedule, gives power to abolish the separate identity of the Road Fund. I think that would be a retrograde action, which would make it impossible to have any reasonably consistent highway policy. I wish to know whether it gives that power; if it does, whether the Minister intends to use it; and, if not, whether he would take steps to amend the Bill in another place in order to see that that power is not granted.

10.0 p.m.

With regard to the decision which has been come to to cease the grants to Unemployment Grants Committee in respect of road and bridge schemes, I think the Parliamentary Secretary should tell us whether some administrative action on the part of the Ministry itself will be taken or can be taken in order to put wrong and now we must not borrow even that right. I have never been clear as to why there is an advantage in repealing the power to borrow given by the Finance Act, and, as a substitute, to find Conservative party and Press towards the sum out of moneys provided by Parliament. I admit that this is a Treasury point which involves, perhaps, high Treasury financial policy; and here I would again point out that we have to complain that there is no representative of the Treasury on the Government Bench. I know that the Parliamentary Secretary has experience in financial matters, and perhaps he can tell us why it is wrong to borrow £10,000,000 and not wrong to raise out of revenue.

We ought to have heard something from the Liberal Members about this point. Here is a famous document—I have preserved a copy of it, because I am not sure that I shall get another—in which it was urged that we should borrow £200,000,000. I remember being bullied, nagged at and grumbled at because I would not enthusiastically support a reckless and limitless policy of borrowing for any old roads or any old bridges on which we might set men to work with picks and shovels. I remember a speech one morning by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), whose absence now we all deplore—nobody more than us at the present time! I would be overjoyed to hear Liberal Members getting guidance from him as to what they ought to say of this Government; but we are unlucky. I remember the right hon. Gentleman wanted figures showing how quickly we were spending the money, why we were not spending it more quickly, and why we were not borrowing. Who helped him, who assisted in the grumbling because we were not going so quickly? The present Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education. Hr and a number of other Tory Members, were willing to join with anybody, whether they agreed with them or not, in order to make an attack on the Labour Government.

I, who was not an enthusiast for borrowing, want to know from the Liberal Members why that policy, which was so sound in what was a grave period of depression in 1929, and is still grave—because it has not been magically reformed since then—should suddenly become absolutely wrong and now we must not borrow even £10,000,000, let alone £200,000,000. It is almost as revolutionary a change of opinion as the changed attitude of the Conservative party and Press towards the preservation of the Gold Standard. I think my hon. Friend, though I admit it is unfair to put the point to him, ought to tell us why borrowing the modest sum of £10,000,000 suddenly becomes quite wrong. No doubt the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Shakespeare) will assist him if he wants any guidance. The Tory party, as usual, had the best of both worlds. They grumbled at us through the right hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) for not going quickly enough and grumbled at us for going too quickly through my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the New Forest.

The Minister has indicated to us the principle upon which they are acting in these cancellations, and has given us a certain amount of information, but I think we ought to be assured that nothing will be done in the way of stopping or cancelling schemes which will prevent their resumption immediately conditions permit. I know it is the fashion of Members of the Conservative party to assume that all this road and bridge expenditure is wasted money, but I do not agree with them. Very little, if any, of the road programme which I carried through represented money which would be wasted. It was giving us an economic asset. I do not say that if you are faced with a need for economy that you should not look into expenditure and review it, but I do not adroit that this was wasted expenditure. We ought to be assured that the conditions are, in the opinion of the Government, such as will allow the work to be resumed. Moreover, we ought to be informed as to how many men will be thrown out of employment. This is not the best way of dealing with the economic situation. When I left the Ministry of Transport we had in direct employment something like 40,000 men, or, at, any rate, that number was in sight, and when I left the Ministry of Transport the schemes probably meant the employment of 80,000 men direct and indirect. I do not say that all those men will be thrown out of work, but that will be the case with a considerable proportion of them, and it may mean that some 30,000 men will be directly displaced from employment by the policy which is now being adopted, and those men will have to go on unemployment benefit. That is one of the economic consequences of the policy which is now being adopted.

What I regret about all this business and the history of the Road Fund is the vacillation that has taken place in regard to road and bridge construction policy. That policy has been up and down. In 1920 and 1921 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, who was Prime Minister, initiated a road programme, and went forward with a policy not as big as my own, but it was a very considerable policy at that time. After that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the New Forest thoroughly enjoyed himself at the Ministry of Transport stopping things being done, he being one of the really true Conservatives in the House of Commons at that time. Then came the late Mr. Harry Gosling, who hurried things forward, but, unfortunately, he was not there long. The right hon. and gallant Member went back again and slowed things down. After that I went to the Ministry of Transport, and I pushed things up and put life into the Department. At that time the Ministry was nearly dead, and if my predecessor had stayed there I believe that it would have died of sheer inanition.

Now the policy of constructing highways and bridges is being slowed down again. I think it is a great mistake that the construction of roads and bridges has been mixed up with the politics of unemployment policy. I agree that in good times it is right that we should save and that we should spend the money in bad times. I think it is right to do that thing deliberately, but it is difficult to handle the policy of roads and bridges as a result of political pressure and subject to the whims of economists and people who want to save money. Then there are people who want to spend money purely for the fun of it, and that is wrong. I am anxious to see the time when the Minister of Transport will be able to pursue a real highways policy on the merits of the case, and where he is not squeezed either one way or the other by politicians. I want to see a state of things on which the Minister of Transport has not to submit to the coercion of local authorities who want more money, and will not go on with their work because they want extended grants. The great thing about the provisions of this Bill and the policy of the Government is that it is another chapter in the history of vacillation in regard to bridges and highways policy. We want a highways and bridges policy on its merits which will be a constructive policy free from all this vacillation.

Photo of Sir George Gillett Sir George Gillett , Finsbury

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney (Mr. Herbert Morrison) says that he has no responsibility whatever for the change of policy which has taken place. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman can claim that while he was Minister there was no change of policy as compared with the policy which had been previously carried out. If we are to have any continuity of policy, I think that is a dangerous suggestion to come from my right hon. Friend, who would be only too anxious to press forward his policy the moment he assumed office. I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney did not give away any Cabinet secrets. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the New Forest (Colonel Ashley) asked me, first of all, whether there was going to be any change with regard to the position of the Road Fund, or whether it was going to be abolished. There is no intention of altering the principles upon which the Road Fund has been managed in the past.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley , New Forest and Christchurch

The hon. Member says that there is no intention of altering the construction of the Road Fund. I would like to ask, does this Bill give any power to do so?

Photo of Sir George Gillett Sir George Gillett , Finsbury

The Bill does not give any power even to alter the Road Fund. As has been explained by my hon. Friend, a definite scheme of savings has been initiated, but at the present time it is a little difficult to say whether we shall gain all those savings simply by a reduction of the grants which would have been made in respect of road schemes, and, although we hope that that may give us the necessary figure, we cannot say definitely to-day whether we might ultimately find it necessary to make modifications with regard to maintenance grants. We expect and believe, however, that we shall be able to do what we want without interfering with the maintenance side of the work. With regard to the suggestions that we have made to county councils, I might, perhaps, while dealing with this matter, take up the argument that was put by one or two hon. Members opposite with regard to the county councils and local authorities. I have attended most of the conferences held by my hon. Friend with these local bodies, and in every case the representatives of these local bodies have expressed their willingness to co-operate in the policy put forward by the Government. I do not, of course, imagine that those who represented these different bodies were in a position to bind their councils, but in every case, as far as I remember, without any exception, they stated that they would do everything they could to assist us in bringing about the economies that we desired.

Lieut.-Colonel WATTS-MORGAN:

Would the hon. Gentleman say whether those who met the Minister on this matter were actually appointed to do so by the county councils? As I have already pointed out, in the case of my own county council there was no meeting until the following day.

Photo of Sir George Gillett Sir George Gillett , Finsbury

What probably happened was that the communications were addressed to the ordinary representatives of these bodies, like the chairman, the secretary, and so forth. I was asked whether I could mention any local body that had passed a vote supporting the action taken by the Government, but I would remind the hon. Member who asked that question that many councils at the present time are not meeting, and that, therefore, in any case, it is very doubtful whether a vote could have been taken by those bodies. I mention this because some of those who came to us on these deputations distinctly told us that their councils were on vacation, and that, therefore, it was not possible to consult the whole of their members, but that they were taking the action that they did as representatives who had been appointed and knew the conditions in the localities beforehand. We are not suggesting that we imagined that they had had time to consult their local bodies.

Lieut.-Colonel WATTS-MORGAN:

You said so to-night.

Photo of Sir George Gillett Sir George Gillett , Finsbury

We are exceedingly anxious to get the information from those bodies, because it is very important for us to know what proposals the local bodies have to make with regard to the reductions that we desire to secure. In any case, I think hon. Members opposite will agree that, if reductions are to be made, it is far more satisfactory that the local bodies should tell us what schemes are, and what schemes are not, in their view essential, rather than that we should tell them to stop this scheme and stop that scheme, only to find afterwards that they would much rather have stopped the very scheme that we had given them permission to go on with. I think that the right hon. Gentleman who asked what information was wanted from the county councils would find that the councils have been fully informed as to the information that we want. I was also asked whether any schemes which were nearly finished would be stopped. I do not know whether the hon. Member who asked that question was in the Chamber when the Minister was speaking, but he dealt with that point, and read from the White Paper this sentence: It is proposed, however, to provide that the Minister shall not withdraw the promise of Road Fund assistance to any work on which a local authority is committed to a substantial liability, which will be defined quantitatively in terms of a prescribed percentage of the total estimated cost of the work. My hon. Friend stated that it has now been decided that that figure should be 25 per cent., and, therefore, the hon. Member has only to apply that figure to the scheme that he has in mind in order to ascertain whether there has been an expenditure equal to 25 per cent. of the total amount. If so, I understand that such schemes are to be proceeded with.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

Does that apply to direct labour schemes as well as to contract schemes?

Photo of Sir George Gillett Sir George Gillett , Finsbury

I have no reason whatever to think there is any difference. The question is the amount of money that is to be spent, and it makes no difference whether it is contract or direct labour.

One or two hon. Members who are interested in the question of agricultural workers suggested that the stoppage of this work might especially prejudice those who are unemployed. My information is that the number of unemployed agricultural workers who are employed on these road schemes is very small, and it is not very likely, in any case, that it will be found that they are very much prejudiced by the stoppage of the work.

Photo of Sir James Blindell Sir James Blindell , Holland with Boston

The point that I want cleared up is whether the Ministry has any power, with regard to new schemes, to insert a condition that agricultural workers should have a preference, seeing that they are uninsured.

Photo of Sir George Gillett Sir George Gillett , Finsbury

I am not sure whether there are any powers. Certainly, as far as I am aware, the Bill has not taken any fresh powers. If the Minister had powers before, those powers have never been exercised in that way, but we will bear the matter in mind.

Photo of Mr William Taylor Mr William Taylor , Norfolk South Western

In regard to agricultural workers not being employed on the highways, is the hon. Gentleman aware that the local authorities have to keep these men on at the expense of the local ratepayers? There were upwards of 2,000 of them in Norfolk for several months last winter.

Photo of Sir George Gillett Sir George Gillett , Finsbury

I cannot deal with what took place last winter. Several remarks have been made as to the number of men employed on these schemes. May I take the opportunity of confirming the figures given by my right hon. Friend when he spoke just now. I am now giving the figures not including those employed on maintenance work. On the 28th of last month the figure, apart from the men on ordinary maintenance work, was 41,700, directly employed, compared with 16,000 at the end of August, 1929. At present, our estimate is that some schemes providing work especially for the unemployed have not arrived at the point where they are employing the full number it is estimated that they will require. Therefore, it is possible that on these schemes in the next two or three months there will be an increase in the number of men employed. In any case, it is not anticipated that under these proposals there will be any very sudden fall in the number of men employed. The actual reduction in the expenditure in the present financial year is not very large. It is a figure, as far as the Road Fund is concerned, of a little over £2,000,000. A larger saving will come in the next financial year.

My right hon. Friend asked me whether we mean to take power to vary the grants for works which are now allowed to proceed, and the answer is in the negative. He also asked me whether those schemes on which labour is being employed direct will be treated in the same way as in the case of contract, and the answer is in the affirmative. He asked why it was that the sudden change in policy with regard to finance had to be instituted. Figures have already been quoted showing the new policy instituted by my right hon. Friend last year. Previous to that it had been the custom to give to the Ministry powers which could be used within the financial year, but the new principle was instituted in the last Budget of giving the fund power to borrow money in order that those schemes might be developed and that the money need not be repaid until a later period—four, five, six or seven years—when the fund might quite well be in a position to repay the money. As has already been pointed out by hon. Members, this meant that during the next four or five years, in each year, there would be a growing deficiency on the fund rising from £8,000,000 at the end of next March to a sum of about £30,000,000 in four years time. When my right hon. Friend spoke he was one of the few Members opposite who recognised at any rate that there has been a, certain amount of financial difficulty in regard to our monetary affairs. One of the things that has had an influence upon Continental opinion—and this applies to the whole of our argument—is that, rightly or wrongly, those who were investing money in this country had come to the conclusion that in regard to our finances this country had been in such a, condition as tended to lose their confidence. In the first place, they saw that our Budget was not balanced, and in the second place that there had grown up side by side with an unbalanced Budget a large fund the indebtedness of which had steadily increased until it had risen to a sum of about £50,000,000 or even larger.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund, regarding which I grant that there has been a good deal of exaggeration, and I grant, too, that it is a fund which has been misunderstood on the Continent, has

had the effect of very seriously undermining the confidence of those who had invested money in this country. It was no use balancing the Budget unless at the same time you removed the incubus of any fund in respect of which you were raising money by borrowing. How could you say that you had a balanced Budget when at the same time there was £25,000,000 or £30,000,000 owing, and that in regard to your Insurance Fund you had a far larger amount owing? It is that fact which is the sole and only justification of the action which is being taken to-day. I do not imagine that in any part of the Committee there is a Member who would dispute that it is much better that the unemployed should have work rather than maintenance. It is in the general interest of the unemployed as well as of all classes of this country that our financial system should be absolutely secure. It is only by making certain sacrifices to-day that we are going to obtain that security. We had to see that borrowing for the Insurance Fund was stopped. We could not expect the Road Fund to go further into debt while we made such great efforts to remove the evil from the Insurance Fund. My reply to the right hon. Gentleman is that the change of policy is absolutely imperative, and I claim that these economies can be justified.

Photo of Mr Robert Richardson Mr Robert Richardson , Houghton-le-Spring

Will the hon. Gentleman answer the question put by the right hon. and gallant Member for the New Forest (Colonel Ashley), asking whether the repair of roads was to be cut?

It being Half-past Ten of the Clock, the CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 22nd September, to put forthwith the Question on the Amendment already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, "That the word 'Roads' stand part of the Schedule."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 286; Noes, 217.

Division No. 498.]AYES.[10.31 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelAstor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent, Dover)Bellairs, Commander Carlyon
Alnsworth, Lieut.-Col. CharlesAstor, ViscountessBennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)
Altchison, Rt. Hon. Cralgle M.Atholl, Duchess ofBerry, Sir George
Albery, Irving JamesAtkinson, C.Betterton, Sir Henry B.
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdleyl)Sevan, S. J. (Holborn)
Allen, sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l.,W.)Balfour, George (Hempstead)Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)Balfour, Captain H. H. (I.of Thanet)Birkett, W. Norman
Amery. Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Balniel, LordBlinded, James
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.Boothby R. J. G.
Aske, Sir RobertBeaumont, M. w.Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.Greaves-Lord, Sir WalterPeake, Capt. Osbert
Boyce, LeslieGreene, W. P. CrawfordPenny, Sir George
Braithwaite, Major A. N.Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeGretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. JohnPerkins, W. R. D.
Broadbent, Colonel J.Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Brown, Col. O. C. (N'tb'l'd., Hexham)Gritten, W. G. HowardPower, Sir John Cecil
Brown, Ernest (Leith)Gunston, Captain D. W.Preston, Sir Walter Rueben
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.Purbrick, R.
Buchan, JohnHall, Lieut.-Col. sir F. (Dulwich)Pybus, Percy John
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)Ramsay, T. B. Wilton
Bullock, Captain MalcolmHamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)Ramsbotham, H.
Burgln, Dr. E. L.Hammersley, S. S.Rawson, Sir Cooper
Burton, Colonel H. W.Hanbury, C.Reid, David D, (County Down)
Butler, R. A.Harmon, Patrick Joseph HenryRemer, John R.
Butt, Sir AlfredHarbord, A.Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardHarris, Percy A.Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Calne, Hall, DerwentHartington, Marquess olRhys, Hon. C. A. U.
Campbell, E. T.Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Carver, Major W. H.Haslam, Henry C.Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Cattle Stewart, Earl ofHenderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxt'd, Henley)Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Cautley, Sir Henry S.Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)Hills. Major Rt. Hon. John WallerRoss, Ronald D,
Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.)Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)Rothschild, J. de
Cazalet, Captain Victor A.Hore-Bellsha, LeslieRuggles-Brise, Colonel E.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.Runclman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Chadwick, capt. Sir Robert BurtonHoward-Bury, Colonel C. K.Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J.A. (Birm.,W.)Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Haskney, N.)Russell, Richard John (Eddlsbury)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)Hurd, Percy A.Salmon, Major I.
Chapman, Sir S.Hurst, Sir Gerald B.Samuel, A, M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Christie, J. A.Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Clydesdale, Marquess ofInskip, Sir ThomasSamuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Cobb, Sir CyrilIveagh, Countess ofSandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir GeorgeJones, Llewellyn-, F,Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Colfox, Major William PhilipJones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)Savery, S. S.
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Colman, N. C. DJones, Rt. Hon. Lelf (Camborne)Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Colville, Major D. J.Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston)Simms, Major-General J.
Conway, Sir W. MartinKedward, R. M. (Kent, Athford)Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter. Withington)
Cooper, A. DuffKlndersley, Major G. M.Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.Knight, HolfordSinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (Caithness)
Cranborne, ViscountKnox, Sir AlfredSkelton, A. N.
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.Lamb, Sir I Q.Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.Lambert, Rt. Hon. Georpe (S. Molton)Smith, R.W. (Aberd'n & Klnc'dlne, C.)
Crookshank, Cpt. H.(LIndsey.Galnsbro)Lane Fox, Col. Rt- Hon. George R.Smlth-Carlngton, Neville W.
Croom.Johnson, R. P,Leighton, Major B. E. P.Smithert, Waldron
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)Lewis. Oswald (Colchester)Somerset, Thomas
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir PhilipLittle, Graham-, Sir ErnestSomerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Dalkeith, Earl ofLleweilln, Major J. J.Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir GodfreyLocker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. GodfreySouthby, Commander A. R. J,
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (H art lord)Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Davles, Dr. VernonLockwood, Captain J. H.Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)Long, Major Hon. EricStanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)Lovat-Frater, J. A.Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)
Dawson, Sir PhilipLymington, ViscountStuart. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Denman, Hon. R. D.McConnell. Sir JosephSueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.
Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. HerbertMacdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Duckworth, G. A. V.Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)Thomas, Maj or L. B. (King's Norton)
Dugdale, Capt. T, L.Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James 1.Thomson, Sir F.
Eden, Captain AnthonyMacqulsten, F. A.Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Edmondson, Major A. J.Maltland, A. (Kent, Faversham)Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Elliot, Major Walter E.Making, Brigadier-General E.Todd, Capt. A.
Elmley, ViscountMander, Geoffrey It M.Train, J.
England, Colonel A,Margesson, Captain H. D.Tryon, Bt. Hon. George Clement
Erskine. Lord (Somerset,Westan-s.-M.)Marjorlbanks, EdwardTurton, Robert Hugh
Everard, W. LindsayMarkham, S. F.Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Falle, Sir Bertram G.Mason, Colonel Glyn K.Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Ferguson, Sir JohnMerrlman, Sir F. BoydWard, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Fleiden, E. B.Millar, J. D.Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Flson, F. G. ClaverlngMilne, Wardlaw, J. S.Wayland, Sir William A.
Foot, IsaacMitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)Wells, Sydney R.
Ford, Sir P. J.Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.White, H. G.
Forestler-Walker, Sir L.Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Galbralth, J. F. W,Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Gault, Lieut.-Cot. A. HamiltonMulrhead, A. J.Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)Nail-Cain, A. R. N.Withers, Sir John James
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)Nathan, Major H. L.Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L, (Exeter)Womersley. W. J.
Gilett, George M.Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnNicholson, O. (Westminster)Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Glyn, Major R. G. C.Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn.W. G.(Ptrsf'ld)Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Gower, Sir RobertO'Connor, T. J
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Granville, E.Oman, Sir Charles William C.Sir Victor Warrender and Mr. Glassey.
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Gray, MilnerOwen, Major G. (Carnarvon)
NOES.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (File, West)Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)Pole, Major D. G.
Adamson, w. M. (Stan., Cannock)Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)Potts, John S.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')Herriotts. J.Price, M. P.
Alpass, J. H.Hicks, Ernest GeorgeQulbell, D. J. K.
Amnion, Charles GeorgeHirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)Raynes, W. R.
Angell, Sir NormanHirst, W. (Bradford, South)Richards, R.
Arnott, JohnHoffman, P. C.Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Attlee, Clement RichardHopkin, DanielRiley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Ayles, WalterHorrabin, J. F.Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Blleton)Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)Ritson, J.
Barnes, Alfred JohnIsaacs, GeorgeRomeril, H. G.
Barr, James.Jenkins, Sir WilliamRowson, Guy
Batey, JosephJohn, William (Rhondda, West)Salter, Dr. Alfred
Benn, Rt. Hon. WedgwoodJohnston, Rt. Hon. ThomasBanders, W. S.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)Sawyer, G. F.
Benson, G.Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Scrymgeour, E.
Bowen, J. W.Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.Scurr, John
Bowerman, Rt. Hen. Charles W.Kelly, W. T.Sexton, Sir James
Broad, Francis AlfredKennedy, Rt. Hon. ThomasShepherd, Arthur Lewis
Brockway, A. FennerKenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.Sherwood, G. H.
Bromfield, WilliamKlnley, J.Shield, George William
Bromley, J.Lansbury, Rt, Hon. GeorgeShlels, Dr. Drummond
Brother, M.Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)Shillaker, J. F.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)Law, Albert (Bolton)Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (Sooth Ayrshire)Law, A. (Rossendale)Simmons, C. J.
Buchanan, G.Lawrence, SusanSinkinson, George
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)Sitch, Charles H.
Cape, ThomasLawson, John JamesSmith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Carter, W. (St. Pancrae, S.W.)Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Chater, DanielLeach, W.Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon.H.B.(Kelghley)
Close, W. S.Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)Smith, Tom (pontefract)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Leonard, W.Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Cocks, Frederick SeymourLewis, T. (Southampton)Sorensen, R.
Compton, JosephLlndley, Fred W.Stamford, Thomas W.
Cripps, Sir StaffordLogan, David GilbertStephen, Campbell
Daggar, GeorgeLongbottom, A. W.Strauss, G. R.
Dallas, GeorgeLunn, WilliamSullivan, J.
Dalton, HughMacdonald, Gordon (Ince)Sutton, J. E.
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)McElwee, A.Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Davles, Rhys John (Westhoughton)McEntee, V. L.Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Day, HarryMcKinlay, A.Thorne, W. (West Ham, Pialstow)
Duncan, CharlesMaclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Thurtle, Ernest
Dunnlco, H.MacNeill-Welr, L.Tillett, Ben
Ede, James ChuterMcShane, John JameeTinker, John Joseph
Edmunds, J. E.Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)Tout, W. J.
Edwards, E. (Morpeth)Mansfield, W.Townend, A. E.
Egan, W. H.Marcus, M.Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Freeman, PeterMarley, J.Turner, Sir Ben
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)Marshall, FredVaughan, David
Glbbins, JosephMathers, GeorgeViant, S. P.
Gibson, H. M. (Lanes. Mossley)Maxton, JamesWalkden, A. G.
Gill, T. H.Messer, FredWatkins, F. C.
Gossling, A. G.Mills, J. E.Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Gould, F.Mliner, Major J.Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton:Montague, FrederickWellock, Wilfred
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edln., Cent.)Morgan, Dr. H. B.Welsh, James (Paisley)
Grenlell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Morley, RalphWelsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.Westwood, Joseph
Groves, Thomas E.Mort, D. L.Whiteley, Wilfrid (Blrm., Ladywood)
Grundy. Thomas W.Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)Muff, G.Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Muggeridge, H. T.Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)Murnln, HughWilliams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)Naylor, T. E.Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Hamilton. Mary Agnes (BlackburnNoel Baker, P. J.Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Hardle, David (Rutherglen)Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Hardie, G. D. (Springburn)Oldfield, J. R.Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Hastings, Dr. SomervillePalln, John HenryWise, E. F.
Haycock, A. W.Paling, WilfridYoung, R. S. (Islington, North)
Hayday, ArthurPalmer, E. TYoung, Sir R. (Lancaster, Newton)
Hayes, John HenryParkinson, John Allen (Wlgan)
Henderson, Right Hon. A. (BurnleyPerry, S. F.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Henderson, Arthur Junr. (Cardiff, S.)Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Charleton.
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Phillips, Dr. Marlon

The CHAIRMAN than proceeded to put forthwith the Question necessary to bring the Committee necessary to bring the Committee stage to a conclusion.

Question put, "That this Schedule be the Schedule to the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 278; Noes, 198.

Division No. 499.]AYES.[10.44 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelEden, Captain AnthonyMacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)
Alnsworth, Lieut.-Col. CharlesEdge, Sir WilliamMacdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Altchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.Edmondson, Major A. J.Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)
Albery, Irving JamesElliot, Major Walter E.Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'L, W.)Elmiey, ViscountMacqulsten, F. A.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)England, Colonel A,Maltland, A. (Kent, Faversham)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Ersklne, Lord (Somerset,Weston-s.-M.)Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.Everard, W. LindsayMargesson, Captain H. D.
Astor, Ma|. Hon. John J.(Kent, Dover)Fade, Sir Bertram G.Marjorlbanks, Edward
Astor, ViscountessFerguson, Sir JohnMark ham, S. F.
Atkinson, C.Flelden. E. B.Mason, Colonel Glyn K.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)Flson, F. G. ClaveringMerrlman, Sir F. Boyd
Balfour, George (Hampstoad)Foot, IsaacMillar, J. D.
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)Ford, Sir P. J.Milne, Wardlaw, J.S.
Balnlel, LordFortstlar-Walker, Sir L.Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. sir B.
Beaumont, M. W.Galbraith, J. F. WMoore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Bellairs, Commander CarlyonGault, Lieut.-Col. A. HamiltonMorris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)
Betterton, Sir Henry B.George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)Muirhead, A. J.
Bevan, S. J. (HolbornlGibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)Nall-Caln, A. R. N.
Birchall, Major Sir John DearmanGillett, George M.Nathan, Major H. L.
Bilkett, W. NormanGilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnNewton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Bllndell, JamesGlyn, Major R. G. C.Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Boothby, R. J. G.Gower, Sir RobertNicholson, Col. Rt. Hn.W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)
Bowater, Col. Sir T, VanslttartGraham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)O'Connor, T. J.
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.Granville, E.Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Boyce, LeslieGrattan-Doyle, Sir N.Oman, Sir Charles William c.
Braithwaite, Major A. N.Gray, M linerOrmsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeGreaves-Lord, Sir WalterOwen, Major G. (Carnarvon)
Broadbent, Colonel J.Greene, W. P. CrawfordPeake, Captain Osbert
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'f''d., Hexham)Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)Penny, Sir George
Brown, Ernest (Leith)Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. JohnPercy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro'W.)Perkins, W. R. D.
Buchan, JohnGritten, W. G. HowardPeto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Gunston, Captain D. W.Power, Sir John Cecil
Bullock, Captain MalcolmHacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.Preston, sir Walter Rueben
Burg in, Dr. E. L.Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Purbrick, R.
Burton, Colonel H. W.Hamilton, Sir George (llford)Pybus, Percy John
Butler, R. A.Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney Zetland)Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Butt, Sir AlfredHammersley, S.Ramsbotham, H.
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardHanbury, C.Rathbone, Eleanor
Caine, Hall, DerwentHannon, Patrick Joseph HenryReid, David. (County Down)
Campbell, E. T.Harbord, A.Remer, John R.
Carver, Major W. H.Harris, Percy A.Rentoul, Sir Gervale S.
Cattle Stewart, Earl ofHartington, Marquess ofReynolds, Col. Sir James
Cautley, Sir Henry S.Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)Haslam, Henry C.Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch't'sy)
Cayzer, MaJ.Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth,S.)Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd,Henley)Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Cazalet. Captain Victor A.Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert BurtonHore-Bellsha. LeslieRoss, Ronald D.
Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.SlrJ.A.(Birm.,W.)Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.Rothschild, J. de
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.Ruggles-Brlse, Colonel E.
Chapman, sir S.Hudson, Capt. A. O. M. (Hackney, N.)Runclman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Christie, J. A.Hurd, Percy A.Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Clydesdale, Marquess ofHurst, Sir Gerald B.Russell, Richard John (Eddlsbury)
Cobb, Sir CyrilHutchison, Maj. Gen. Sir R.Salmon, Major I.
Cockerlll, Brig.-General Sir GeorgeInskip, Sir ThomasSamuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Colfox, Major William PhilipIveagh, Countess ofSamuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Coffins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)Jones, Llewellyn-, F.Samuel, Samuel (Wdsworth, Putney)
Colman, N. C. D.Jones, Sir G. w. H. (Stoke New'gton)Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Cotville, Major D. J.Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Cooper, A. DuffJones, Rt. Hon. Le f (Camborne)Savery, S. S.
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.Jowltt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston)Shakespeare, Geoffrey H,
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Cranborne, ViscountKindersley, Major G. M.Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Wlthington)
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.Knight, HolfordSimon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Crookshank, Capt. H. C.Knox, Sir AlfredSinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (Caithness)
Croom-Johnton, R. P.Lamb, Sir J. Q.Skelton, A. N.
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)Smith, Louis W. (Sheffietd, Hallam)
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir PhilipLane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George RSmith, R.W. (Aberd'n A Klnc'dlne, C
Dalkeith, Eart ofLeighton, Major B. E. P.Smith-Carlngton, Neville W.
Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir GodfreyLewis, Oswald (Colchester)Smithers, Waldron
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)Little, Graham-, Sir ErnestSomerset, Thomas
Davies, Dr. VernonLlewellin, Major J. J.Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Davles, Ma). Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. GodfreySouthby, Commander A. R, J.
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Dawson, Sir PhilipLockwood, Captain J. H.Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.Long, Major Hon. EricStanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)
Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. HerbertLovaf- Fraser, J. A.Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)
Duckworth, G. A. V.Lymington, ViscountStuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Dugdale, Capt. T. L.McConnell, Sir JosephSueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.Vaughan-Morgan, Sir KenyonWithers. Sir John James
Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. LambertWomersley, W. J.
Thomson, Sir F.Waterhouse, Captain CharlesWood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.Wayland, Sir William A.Wood, Major McKenzle (Banff)
Titchfleid, Major the Marquess ofWells, Sydney R.Young. Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Todd, Capt. A. J.White, H. G.
Train, J.Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Tryon, Rt. Hon. George ClementWindsor-dive, Lieut.-Colonel GeorgeSir Victor Warrender and Mr. Glassey.
Turton, Robert HughWinterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
NOES.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (File. West)Hayes, John HarveyPhillips, Dr. Marlon
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Henderson, Rt, Hon. A. (Burnley)Pole, Major D. G.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)Potts, John S.
Alpass, J. H.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Price, M. P.
Amnion, Charles GeorgeHenderson, Thomas (Glasgow)Quibell, D. J. K.
Angell, Sir NormanHerrlotts, J.Raynes, W. R.
Arnott, JohnHicks, Ernest GeorgeRichards, R.
Aske, Sir RobertHirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Attlee, Clement RichardHirst, W. (Bradford, South)Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Barnes, Alfred JohnHoffman, p. C.Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Barr, JamesHorrabln, J. F.Rltson, J.
Batey, JosephHudson, James H. (Huddersfield)Romeril, H. G.
Benn, Rt. Hon. WedgwoodIsaacs, GeorgeRowson, Guy
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Jenkins, Sir WilliamSalter, Dr. Alfred
Benson, G.John, William.(Rhondda, West)Sanders, W. S.
Bowen, J. W.Johnston, Rt. Hon. ThomasSawyer, G. F.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)Scrymgeour. E.
Broad, Francis AlfredJones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Scurr, John
Brockway, A. FennerJowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.Sexton, Sir James
Bromfield, WilliamKelly, W. T.Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Bromley, J.Kennedy, Rt. Hon. ThomasSherwood, G. H.
Brothers, M.Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.Shield, George William
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)Kinley, J.Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)Lansbury, Rt. Hon. GeorgeShillaker, J. F.
Buchanan, G.Lathan, G. (Sheffield, park)Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
burgess, F. G.Law, Albert (Bolton)Simmons, C. J.
duxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)Law, A. (Rossendale)Slnklnson, George
Cape, ThomasLawrence, SusanSitch, Charles H.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)Lawrle, Hugh Hartley (Stalybrldge)Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Chater, DanielLawson, John JamesSmith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Cluse, W. S.Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Cocks, Frederick SeymourLeach, W.Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Compton, JosephLee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)Sorensen, R.
Cripps, Sir StaffordLeonard, W.Stamford, Thomas W.
Daggar, GeorgeLewis, T. (Southampton)Stephen, Campbell
Dallas, GeorgeLindley, Fred W.Strauss, G. R.
Dalton, HughLongbottom, A. W.Sullivan, J.
Davles, D. L. (Pontypridd)Lunn, WilliamSutton, J. E.
Davles, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Day, HarryMcElwee, A.Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Duncan, CharlesMcEntee, V. L.Thurtle, Ernest
Dunnlco, H.McKinlay, A.Tinker, John Joseph
Eds, James ChuterMaclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Tout, W. J.
Edmunds, J. E.McShane, John JamesTownend, A. E.
Edwards, E. (Morpeth)Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Egan, W. H.Mansfield, W.Vaughan, David
Freeman, PeterMarcus, M.Viant, S. P.
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)Marley, J.Watkins, F. C.
Gibbins, JosephMathers, GeorgeWatson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Gibson, H. M. (Lanes. Mossley)Maxton, JamesWatts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Gill, T. H.Messer, FredWellock, Wilfred
Gossling, A. G.Mills, J. E.Welsh, James (Paisley)
Gould, F.Mliner, Major J.Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Morgan, Dr. H. B.Westwood, Joseph
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edln., Cent.)Morley, RalphWhiteley, Wilfrld (Blrm., Ladywood)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Mort, D L.Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Groves, Thomas E.Muff, G.Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Grundy, Thomas W.Murnin, HughWilliams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)Naylor, T. E.Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Noel Baker, P. J.Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)Palln, John HenryWise, E. F.
Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)Paling, WilfridYoung, R. S. (Islington, North)
Hardle, David (Rutherglen)Palmer, E. T.Young, Sir R. (Lancaster, Newton)
Hardle, G. D. (Sprlngburn)Parkinson, John Allen (Wlgan)
Haycock, A. W.Perry, S F.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Hayday, ArthurPethick- Lawrence, F. W.Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Charleton.

Question put, and agreed to.

Whereupon the CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report the Bill to the House, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 22nd September.

Bill reported, without Amendment; to be read the Third time To-morrow.

The remaining Government Orders were read, and postponed.