Skip to main content

Orders Of The Day

Volume 161: debated on Wednesday 14 March 1923

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


Air Estimates, 1923–24

Order for Committee read.

I beg to move, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

I am sorry the first Debate we should have on the Air Estimates should be a short evening. I can promise hon. Members that I will make as short a speech as I can, but I would ask for their attention in view of the fact that I have to cover a wide field and to deal with several important questions. I would ask them, in accordance with the usual practice, to allow me to get Votes A 1, 4, 2 and 3 this evening. At the same time. I can assure them that, if the House allows me to get those Votes, hon. Members are not sacrificing any opportunity of criticising my administration. Vote 5 will remain open. My salary is on Vote 5, and it is open to any hon. Member after this evening to criticise, any item in my administration. I propose to deal in particular with three subjects. In the first place I want to say a few words about the principal events which have taken place in the field of air administration since last year. Secondly I want to ask the careful attention of the House to what is really the big problem of air administration, the problem of air defence, and thirdly, I want to explain to the House, as far as I can, the Government attitude with reference to various questions connected with civil aviation.

Principal Events Of 1922

First, with reference to the events of the last 12 months. As far as events at home are concerned, I need not detain the House at any great length. The year has been, on the whole, an uneventful year, though one of steady progress. We have been going on with the task, always a very difficult task, of building up a permanent Air Force from the very beginning. At the end of the War there was no permanent Air Force in existence at all. There have been difficulties in connection with recruiting, there have been difficulties in connection with training, there have been difficulties in connection with equipment, but I hope we are gradually overcoming them. Certainly as far as recruiting goes we have found that we have got an excellent type of recruit in adequate numbers. As to the training, our various training schemes have been going ahead, and perhaps the most noticeable event in connection with training during the year has been the-opening of the Air Staff College at Andover. There is another difficulty of which I should like to remind the House in passing. I said just now that at the end of the War there was no permanent Air Force in existence at all. At the end of the War also the Air Force possessed no permanent buildings. The force, being the creation of the War, was housed exclusively in war huts and temporary buildings. One of the tasks with which we have been confronted, a task which necessarily has meant the expenditure of a good deal of money, has been to make these war huts habitable, to re-condition them and, where we could, to replace them with permanent buildings. But, as I said, I need not dwell upon this part of air administration. As far as home affairs are concerned, the year has been uneventful.

Air Command In Iraq

When I pass from home affairs to events abroad, there are one or two conspicuous events to which I should like to draw attention. First and foremost there is the fact that for the first time in the history, not only of this country, but of the world, we have started an independent air command. In Iraq to-day there is no longer a general officer commanding the troops, but for the first time in history there is art air officer commanding. I suggest that hon. Members should set aside their views as to whether our political policy in Iraq is wise or not, and should look with attention and sympathy at the fact that for the first time in history we have started this independent Air Command. We have not, been able, I freely admit, to make the reductions we had hoped. That has been exclusively due to the fact that we have not been able to conclude peace with Turkey, but I can assure the House that from the day peace is made with Turkey we hope to get down to the line suggested by the Cairo Conference, in which the garrison in Iraq would he eight squadrons and a very greatly reduced number of infantry troops.

Every impartial inquirer who has been to Iraq or has looked into the state of affairs without prejudice bears witness to the fact that this experiment in Air Command is working very well. We believe it is going to save a great deal of money and, perhaps more important than that, we believe it is going to mean the saving of a great many lives and a great deal of effort. Over and over again, even during the short time during which there has been this Air Command in existence, we have been able, by well directed air operations, to avoid the expense, both in men and money, which would have been entailed by ground military expeditions.

Let me give the House one or two examples of the successful experiments to which I have alluded. It has been possible to supply an armoured car column and 16 vehicles with stores, spares, petrol and rations for 17 days entirely from the air. It has been possible to evacuate 67 persons, military and civil, by air to a point 70 miles distant in the space of little more than two hours. Only the other day, two companies of an Indian regiment, amounting to over 300 men, with Lewis guns and 30,000 rounds of reserve ammunition were taken by aeroplane to a disturbed district, 65 miles distant, within 24 hours, at a time when the roads were impassable and when it would have been otherwise impossible to move troops at all. It has been possible to mark out by the longest furrow in the world, 470 miles in length, the desert route from Amman to Bagdad, and to keep a regular service of military aeroplanes carrying mails and passengers between Cairo and Bagdad.

Control Without Occupation

I think hon. Members will agree that these are very interesting experiments. I think they will further agree that if the experiment of this Air Command is as satisfactory as we think it is going to be, many of the most difficult problems of Imperial communications and the policing of the distant parts of the Empire will have been solved. The problem that we are trying to solve is the problem, if I may describe it in one single sentence, of control without occupation. If we can succeed in solving that problem, the effect that it will have upon Imperial communications and -von the garrisoning of various parts of the Empire cannot be exaggerated. In a lesser degree, we are attempting to solve the same problem in Palestine, in Trans-Jordania, in Somaliland and in Aden.

India And Dardanelles

In India, I speak in the presence of my Noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for India, we shall see in the future developments upon the same lines. Let me tell the House, in passing, in connection with the air in India, that all the evidence goes to show that the value of air operations is being better and better realised. The deficiencies in equipment which caused such great concern last summer are being made good. The Air Officer Commanding in India has now direct access to the Viceroy, and the headquarters of the Air Force have been moved to a point in close proximity to the headquarters of the Army. All these points go to show that in India the value of these air developments is beginning to be felt.

There is only one further field in connection with foreign operations to which I should like to draw the attention of hon. Members, and that is the operations that have taken place in the Dardanelles. There, again, the House will be glad to hear that the air units have acquitted themselves most creditably. We have the impartial testimony of General Haring-ton as to their achievements. The air units there have succeeded, among other things, in showing that, at any rate on active service, soldiers, sailors and airmen can all work harmoniously together. Let me give the House two examples.

Number 4 Squadron is a squadron allotted for co-operation with the Army. Yet 12 of its machines were erected and flown off the deck of an aircraft carrier within 53 hours of its arrival in the Dardanelles. Later on it was found expedient, with the consent of the Naval Commander-in-Chief, to detach some of the seaplanes and ship aeroplanes from their carrier ships and to place them in a shore aerodrome for co-operation with the infantry and artillery. Just as the Army unit was able to undertake naval work. so the Naval unit was able to work from land under the orders of the General Officer Commanding. As soon as peace is made with Turkey, I shall be able to give the House many more interesting details showing the success of the air arm during the Near East crisis.

Home Defence And Proper Standard Of British Air Power

I now propose to leave this part of the subject which deals with the past, and to ask the attention of hon. Members to the very important and serious question of air defence. Ever since I have been Secretary of State for Air I have been conscious of a general feeling of anxiety, both inside and outside the House, as to whether our air defence is adequate. One sees that anxiety expressed day after day in the Press, and one hears it in general conversation. In this House I have had it constantly brought to my attention by the fact that hon. Members on all sides have asked me week after week questions as to the comparison of the strength of this or that part of our air defences With the air strength of some other Power. I propose, therefore, with the approval of hon. Members, to give the facts and figures so far as I can, and to ask the help of all hon. Members, for this is not a party question, in our attempts to arrive at a sound and wise national air policy.

Before I give these facts and figures, I wish to make one overriding observation, which must be connected with every sentence I use, and with every figure I give. If I make a comparison of our strength with the French strength, no one here or in France must form the impression that for one moment I believe war even remotely possible between the two Allies. No Frenchman should certainly suspect me of any such unnatural idea. Hon. Members who were in the last Parliament may remember that throughout the whole of its duration I did as a private Member what I could to bring about a guarantee Treaty between ourselves and the French. That in itself should be sufficient to show that there has not been the remotest idea in my mind of any such disastrous contingency as hostilities between the two Allies.

I quote the French figures, not because it can be even remotely imagined that hostilities could break out between the two Allies, but because France of all the Great Powers has most fully developed its air arm. The simple fact that one of the Great Powers should attach such importance to the air arm forces the question upon us whether we, the other great European Power, are giving the British air arm sufficient support. As I wish to make the problem as concrete as possible, I give the House one or two comparisons.

In November, 1918, at the end of the War, the Royal Air Force was composed of 30,122 officers, 263,410 airmen and 3,300 service aeroplanes. To-day it is composed of 3,071 officers, 27,499 airmen and 371 first line aeroplanes, that is excluding reserve and training machines; a total of 30,000 against nearly 300,000 at the end of the War.

In the case of the French, it would be misleading to make a comparison of personnel as so large a part of it is provided in France from purely military personnel. The only accurate comparison, therefore, is one of machines. In November, 1918, the French had 3,600 service machines, to-day she has 1,260. The House, therefore, will see that, whilst our peace Air Service is only about one-tenth of our war Air Service, the French Air Service of to-day is one-third of what it was in 1918.

That is, however, not the whole story, for not less than two-thirds of the British Service machines are overseas, while three-quarters of the French machines are in France. Of our 34 Service squadrons—two of which are included in the expansion scheme of which I shall speak later—18 are in Egypt, the Mediterranean and the Near East, six in India, four allocated to naval work at home, and one to Army work at home. That leaves only five Service squadrons in Great Britain for home defence. Of these five squadrons only one is a fighter and four are bombers. I may mention that in France there are 32 fighting squadrons and 32 bombing squadrons. Moreover, in 1925, the French programme that has already been frequently discussed in the Chamber of Deputies will presumably be completed. This will mean that whilst France will have 2,180 Service machines, we shall only have 575, even when we include the 15 additional regular squadrons about which I shall say a word or two in a few minutes.

In 1922 200 machines, civil and military, were built in Great Britain, 3,300 in France.

I think the French figures are 300 civil and 3,000 military.

Further, it should be remembered, in connection with the possibility of quick expansion, that, whilst the number of men employed in the French aircraft industry is about 9,250, the number employed in the aircraft industry in Great Britain is about 2,500. I am fully prepared to admit the many differences between the British and the French position. France has its great conscript army and a consequent need for more army air units than ourselves. France has a long land frontier and the constant feeling of insecurity Even so, the disparity is overwhelming, and this question must arise in the mind of every Member. If one great European Power has so big an Air Force and another great European Power so small an Air Force, which is right? Whilst it is inconceivable that these two great allies should ever embark upon hostilities with each other, how is it possible to justify the fact that one of them has an Air Force only a quarter the size of the other?

I would ask the serious attention of hon. Members to this question. And I would venture to make to them one or two suggestions before they answer it. In the first place, I would venture to point out to them the great difficuly of applying any rough and ready standard for deciding off-hand, and at the present moment, the strength of the British Air Force.

For many years past the Navy and the Army have been entrusted with definite Imperial responsibilities. It is only now that, with the independent Air Command in Iraq, and the responsibility for anti-air defence in Great Britain, the Air Force is being given any definite Imperial duties. Hon. Members, therefore, should be clear in their own minds as to the national and Imperial duties to be imposed upon the Air Force before they settle upon any definite standard of strength.

They should also be clear about the cost. In matters of national defence the question of cost is not a final factor, but it must obviously be taken into account. In 1913–14 the Navy Estimates were £48,809,300, and the Army Estimates were £28,220,000, about seventy-seven millions in all. This year the Navy Estimates are £58,000,000, the Army Estimates £52,000,000, and the gross Air Estimates £18,605,000, making £128,680,000 in all. In other words, the defence Estimates are already double what they were before the War. If we now decided to apply a one-power standard to the Air, without making corresponding reductions in the Estimates of the Army and Navy, it would mean an immediate increase over our gross Estimate of about £5,000,000, but it would mean an eventual increase, in order to keep pace with the progress of other great Powers, of £17,000,000.

Why does the right hon. Gentleman deal with the net Estimates of the Army and Navy and the gross Estimates of the Air Ministry?

I agree with my right hon. Friend that I should have taken the net or gross figures of both, but so far as the Air is concerned let me take the net. Taking the net cost of the squadrons this year at £15,000,000, applying a one-power standard would increase the expenditure to £23,000,000 at once and to £35,000,000 eventually to keep pace with the growing programme of other Powers. For a one-power standard it may be assumed that the cost would be £35,000,000 a year net and our total defence Estimates would be over £145,000,000. The House should note this figure of £17,000,000, for it will show that it is possible to increase our Air Force six-fold with an expenditure that is little more than double the present expenditure. I suggest, however, that from every point of view, the point of view of economy, the point of view of humanity, and the point of view of common sense we should try to avoid, if it be possible, another and a new lap in the old race of armaments.

National Defence Inquiry

It is on this account that I welcome the comprehensive inquiry to be held into the whole question of National and Imperial Defence. I have only been connected a very short time with one of the defence Services, but it has been long enough to show me that you cannot isolate the problems of one Service from the problems of the other. The problem must be treated as a whole. The members of the Committee of Imperial Defence will

be able, to survey the whole problem of defence, the problem of the Army, the problem of the Navy and the problem of the Air. No part of the problem can be isolated from the other parts. Particularly do I look for guidance in their deliberations with reference to the strength of the Air Force. What Imperial responsibilities is the Air Force to undertake? What is to be its relation to the other fighting Services? Is there some standard, like the one-Power standard, at which we should aim, and, if so, can we make equivalent economies in other fields of defence? Only by a comprehensive inquiry can these questions be satisfactorily answered, and only by the help of all parties in the House can we agree upon a national air policy that is neither excessive nor inadequate. But I do not want to leave the problem of air defence with a number of unanswered questions. For until we have decided upon our air standard, we have still to make the most of the resources at our disposal. So long as we have a small force, we must have nothing but the very best. We must keep it an air corps d'élite, highly trained, well equipped and capable, so far as possible, of quick expansion.


It is on that account that, judged by the test of expenditure in comparison with its size, our Air Force costs a considerable sum of money. All the more because it is a small force we have to concentrate upon such problems as the problem of training. I have been very much struck since I have been connected with the Air Ministry with the great variety and intensiveness of the training that is now being given. By our training we are doing everything that we can to bring the officers and men to the highest point of air efficiency. I wish that hon. Members would find time to visit one or two of our training establishments, for instance, Halton, where the boys are trained, or Cranwell, that is the Sandhurst of the Air Force, where the cadets are trained. They would there see for themselves the variety of the intensive training that is going on.

Research And Experiment

Then there is the problem of research, a problem that is the more urgent from the fact that, the smaller the force, the more vital is research. With the resources at our disposal we are trying to hold the balance between pure and applied research. Certainly the various organisations concerned, the Department of Supply and Research at the Air Ministry, the Aeronautical Research Committee, the National Physical Laboratory, the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, and certain of the Universities seem to be working in close co-operation. Perhaps in some future Debate I shall have an opportunity of going into greater detail on this subject. Let me only say that we are at present experimenting in particular upon control of aircraft at low speeds, the use of crude oil instead of petrol for fuel, metal construction, and the many problems connected with economy in flying. The research upon helicopters is beginning to reach the stage of full scale experiment, and I propose to advertise prizes to the amount of £50,000 for a competition in connection with this field of experiment. I am also hoping to be able to make a small grant for the encouragement of gliding.


5.0 P.M.

I come now to the question, almost equally important, of reserves. If our small force is to expand quickly the problem of reserves is obviously one of vital importance. I think hon. Members will be glad to see that for the first time in the Air Estimates we have this year a special Vote devoted to the Air Force Reserves. They will see the details set out in Vote 7 and also that during the year we hope to have an average strength on the reserve of about 500 officers and between 7,000 and 8,000 men. In this connection we are hoping to carry through a scheme for enabling officers and men of the reserve to train with a certain number of selected aviation firms. It may be necessary in the future to supplement these provisions by setting up some kind of auxiliary air force, but that is a question for the moment undecided. By these means we hope to build up in the course of the next two or three years a reserve of 1,000 officers and 12,000 men.

Expansion For Home Defence And Naval Co-Operation

Lastly, there is the actual expansion that I am asking for the purposes of home defence. I am asking in these Estimates for 15 additional regular squadrons and for three additional squadrons for co-operation work with the Navy—an equivalent of 18 additional squadrons in all. As to the 15 regular squadrons, I should like freely to admit that the initiation of that part of the programme of expansion was due to my predecessor. Captain Guest, it will be remembered, obtained the approval of the late Government and the general assent of all parties in the House to this increase last summer. I am glad to say that the present Government is pushing ahead this scheme of expansion and we hope during the course of the next 12 months to have an equivalent of seven or eight of these squadrons formed. We hope further to have the whole scheme completed, if no unforeseen event occurs, during 1925. This scheme I would remind the House is roughly estimated to cost about £2,000,000 a year.

Is that in excess of the nine and a half squadrons formerly used for this purpose?

I am afraid I do not know what the hon. Member means by the nine and a half squadrons formerly used for this purpose.

I do not recall the actual passage at the moment. It is 15 additional squadrons over the 32 squadrons which have been in existence last year. In addition to these 15 regular squadrons for home defence there are the equivalent of three additional squadrons for Naval co-operation work. I suggest that the House should mark this increase for the naval unite. The last thing in the world I wish to do is to embark on a controversy which has been going on for two or three years, but I should like to remove a misconception which, it seems to me, has become prevalent. I have seen it said—not, I freely admit, by anyone at the Admiralty—that the Air Force has starved the Navy in the matter of air craft. Quite apart from the merits of the question of control, I do not think any hon. Member who looks impartially on the history of the last two or three years would say that that is so. The Geddes Committee recommended that the squadrons that were co-operating with the Navy should be reduced from six to two. Not only have we refused to make this cut, but we are actually increasing the naval squadrons to eight, and, moreover, during the last two or three years, so far as I know, we have never failed to carry out the naval requirements. A great part of our research work has been devoted to naval work. Many of our best types of machines have been made for naval work. Our naval air work to-day is many stages ahead of the naval air work of any other great Power; whether it be in the matter of deck landings, of torpedo attacks from the air or of long distance flights by flying boats our naval work is stages ahead of the naval air work of any other great naval Power, and the fact that the other great Powers recognise that that is so is shown by the frequent requests that we have for air information from them and by the further fact that a great Power like Japan actually comes to us for instructors in this particular branch of air work.

I have said nothing of the Army cooperation work. Not because I did not think it was vital but because we are asking for no extra military squadrons in these Estimates. One of the air cooperating squadrons is at present in the Dardanelles, but I am able to assure the House that, in spite of this fact, we are able to maintain our co-operating units with the army at Farnborough and on Salisbury Plain and at Maresfield, and, as far as I know, within our financial limitations, the Army is very well satisfied with the air work we have been able to give it during the last 12 months.

Civil Aviation

I have put before the House the principal facts as they appear to me upon the military side of British aviation. I wish to say a word or two on the other very important side of it— the side of civil aviation. I have left the question of civil aviation to the end, not because I think it unimportant or because I think it can be dissociated from the military side of the problem. I believe that civil aviation can in future be a very valuable asset to us, an asset which it is the more important to develop in view of the fact that our military Air Force, at any rate at present, is comparatively weak in comparison with the Air Force of other great Powers. Civil aviation can be a very valuable asset; but I should not like hon. Members to think that civil aviation can be a substitute for military aviation any more than the mercantile marine can be a substitute for the Navy. In point of fact, I believe that civil machines will tend to diverge in type from military machines, and however much civil aviation is likely to develop it can never provide a first line of defence necessary to meet the shock of air invasion. I wish to see civil aviation develop, not because I believe it can be a substitute for military aviation, but because I believe it can be a very valuable supplement to it. Civil aviation, like every other industry, fell upon bad times during the trade slump. The Air Ministry, struggling to bring its Estimates down to the Geddes' Committee level, had very little money except for the bare necessities of home and Imperial defence. The result has been that our expenditure on civil aviation has been restricted almost entirely to certain subsidies to air transport companies, to the provision of certain aerodromes and to a certain amount of civil aviation research.


As to aerodromes there will be a number of important questions coming up to be settled in the near future as to what kind of facilities the State ought to give to civil aviation. In the meanwhile the Air Ministry is, by international agreement, maintaining two civil Air Force ports, Lympne and Croydon, and there has recently been set up a civil aviation Advisory Board—a body to which I owe a great deal for its valuable advice—to consider the question as to whether Croydon is the most suitable aerodrome for London. The Committee reported that it has come to the conclusion that of the various aerodromes available, Croydon can be developed with less expense and probably with more success than any other. I accept the view of the Committee. Accordingly, I am including in this year's Estimates a small sum for the preliminary steps to make the necessary developments at Croydon. So much for the question of aerodromes.

Cross-Channel Transport

I come now to what is a much more important question connected with civil aviation, the question of civil air transport and subsidies. When I took office I found in existence an arrangement under which £600,000 was to be distributed in three yearly grants to certain civil air transport companies. There were three such companies in existence, and a fourth company was coming into existence in the course of this year. I found, further, that the period of the contract would end in 12 months' time, that is, in April, 1924, and that the companies concerned were already asking, and in my view rightly asking, what the policy of the Government would be at the end of the 12 months' period. It seemed to me that the question to be decided was mainly a business question. We already had a great mass of aeronautical information on the subject. We already knew that cross-Channel services could be worked regularly and punctually We already knew, for instance, that 77 per cent. of the passengers who were carried last year, of a total of 12,300 passengers, were carried on British machines. We also knew that not a single fatal accident had occurred on any British machine to any passenger during last year. All those facts we knew. We also knew that, looked at from the national point of view, civil aviation had not succeeded as much as we had hoped. If the subsidies were regarded solely from a national point of view, £600,000 would have been spent at the end of the coming financial year, and only 18 pilots and 20 civil machines were engaged upon the work.

It seemed to me, in view of all this, that it would be well to have a short, restricted inquiry by two or three impartial business men, who would look at the question without prejudice and with no pre-conceived opinions. Accordingly, I appointed the Committee of three, that is now known as the Hambling Committee, the report of which many hon. Members have no doubt read. Whether hon. Members agree or not with the recommendations of the Committee, they will, I think, be grateful to these three fully occupied business men, who sat almost continuously from day to day through January considering this difficult question. The Committee has reported, and hon. Members will, I hope, consider seriously its recommendations. The Committee came to certain definite conclusions:

(1) That after three years of the existing system of Government subsidies civil aviation had made little or no progress.

I wish to be quite clear, and the Committee wish to be quite clear, that they make no criticism of the three existing companies which have been operating this service. These companies have been doing pioneer work, and, as the figures show, they have been fulfilling a public demand. When I say that the subsidies have not proved successful, it is the system and not the companies that are wrong. I hope that all hon. Members will accept from me the fact that I wish to make no sort of criticism against the three companies.

(2) That subsidies of some kind were necessary for a further period if civil aviation was to continue to exist.

(3) That two conditions were essential if the subsidies were to be of value to the nation:

  • (a) security of tenure in the matter of subsidies and in the matter of facilities for a period of not less than 10 years;
  • (b) the subscription of a large sum of private capital, amounting to one million, as an essential condition to be carried out before any subsidy is given.
  • The Committee also came to the conclusion that as things are now there is not sufficient business for a number of small competing companies, and that all that is happening under the present arrangement is that the State, that is financing in fact all the companies, is merely competing against it self. The only real competition comes from the French, heavily subsidised companies. France is spending 100,000,000 francs a year on civil aviation, and not less than 50,000,000 francs on subsidies. This competition will continue, whether the cross-Channel service is operated by one or more than one British company. It was on that account that the Committee came to the conclusion that one strong company would be better than a number of small companies. The Committee therefore recommended that the State should be prepared to give for the next 10 years a sum of not less than £1,000,000, provided that a corresponding amount is subscribed by the public.

    In each case it is a total amount £1,000,000, against £1,000,000 subscribed. Unless there is a big amount of private capital behind the undertaking there will be no development or little development, and little incentive to progress. Without a big amount of private capital the company or companies will continue to exist on their subsidies, and any big development of civil aviation will be out of the question. If private capital is to be subscribed, the Committee thought, there must be a continuance of subsidies for a period. The House does not like subsidies. I do not like subsidies. I would, however, point out that without subsidies it seems likely to be impossible to face the subsidised competition of the French, and to get subscribed the large amount of private capital which I regard as a necessary condition for any big civil aviation development in the future.

    Let me remind the House of two further facts. Supposing the broad outlines of this scheme were accepted, the average amount of subsidy would be £100,000 a year, which is exactly one half of the amount of the subsidies we have been giving during the last two years. That is a fact in its favour. Secondly, I ask the House to remember that subsidies, not exactly similar to those I have suggested, but none the less subsidies, are already being given by the Admiralty to certain liners, while the General Post Office for its mails is giving other liners very nearly £500,000 a year. The Government has considered these proposals and I am authorised to state on their behalf that the Air Ministry is prepared to negotiate with any responsible person or persons upon the basis of (1) the subscription of £1,000,000 of private capital; (2) a State subsidy of not more than £1,000,000 to be spread over 10 years; (3) the satisfactory settlement of a number of details connected with the operation of the services, such, for instance, as the use of the machines and pilots in times of national danger. The House will, of course, he kept informed as to any action that may be taken.

    During the next 12 months. The present contracts have still 12 months to run and there is that period for negotiation and consideration.

    Will the Handley-Page, the Daimler and the instone Line firms have preference in coming to an arrangement with the right hon. Gentleman as they have already been pioneers and have knowledge and experience of this work?

    I cannot say that anyone will have a preference. I can assure the House that the Ministry will certainly take into account the fact that these firms have been pioneers, that they have done excellent work and that it is desirable from every point of view that they should have a part in any arrangement made for the future. The hon. Gentleman may be assured of that. The Air Ministry as I say is prepared to negotiate with anyone who can fulfil the necessary conditions, and if these companies can fulfil the necessary conditions so much the better.

    If they do not succeed in raising the £1,000,000 capital is the Ministry prepared to give the same consideration to any other company?

    Certainly. In the meanwhile I can assure the House that no action will be taken without the House having an opportunity of discussing the question should it so desire. My personal view is that it is a choice between some such scheme as this—without pledging ourselves to the details of it—and running the risk of civil aviation coming to an end altogether.


    I have taken up a great deal of the time of the House and I apologise for doing so, but before I conclude I wish to say a few sentences on the question of airships. The House will remember the history of airships since the War. In 1920 the Admiralty, in correspondence with the Air Ministry, came to the conclusion that, in view of the financial stringency of the time, it. was not possible to go on with an airship policy. I am glad to say that the question is now being reopened and is at the present moment being considered by the Committee of Imperial Defence. The Admiralty are very rightly emphasising the great value which airships may have from the point of view of long distance naval reconnaisance. The Air Ministry also thinks that airships can be made available as troop carriers and possibly, in the future, as aircraft carriers. From the commercial point of view, it may well be that airships provide the best means at the moment of starting an Imperial air route. Obviously, when the Near East is in a disturbed condition, when Turkey, for instance, and Persia are in the state in which they now are, an airship that can cover great distances without landing has advantages over the aeroplane. On that account, my own view is that, at any rate for the time being, it may be easier to develop the Imperial air route by means of airships than by means of aeroplanes. Anyhow, the two methods need not be. contradictory. It may well be that in the future one will supplement the other, but meanwhile, as I say, I very much hope, although I have put nothing into this year's Estimates for airships, that during the course of the ensuing 12 months we may be able to develop an airship policy, whether it be by means of a commercial undertaking or whether it be by a policy of military research.

    I think I have covered most of the important ground, both military and civil. The House has had great patience in listening to a very long speech, and I will end by asking hon. Members, if and when they come to criticise our air policy or our air administration, to remember the very great difficulties with which we have been faced. After all, it is only 20 years since flying became a serious enterprise. It is only five years since the Air Ministry came into being. Since then we have been faced with the task of building up a post-War air service and we have been faced with the task of cutting down our expenditure as a result of the Geddes recommendations, just at the moment when we wished to develop the Service. It is not for me, nor for any member of the Air Force, to say whether or not we have succeeded. I have to ask the House to judge by the facts, by what has happened and by what may happen if we are given a chance. I ask the House not to be continually anxious to dig up the roots of this new organisation. I would ask them not to look back with regret, as people sometimes do, on conditions which have ceased to exist. I ask them to remember that this is a young service, young in the age of its officers and young in the period of its own lifetime. If hon. Men hers keep these facts in mind, and, without prejudice, judge the Air Force on the record of the past and by the results of what it will achieve in the next few years, I believe that it will stand successfully the highest standard of criticism that can be applied to the older Services or to any of the great Departments of State.

    The Secretary of State for Air will, I am sure, excuse me if, before referring to the very interesting speech which he has made, 1 address some questions to the First Lord of the Admiralty who attends here as he promised to do when it was pointed out that this would be a good occasion on which to discuss the unity of the Air Service and the participation of the Admiralty in air matters. Although these questions will be courteous, it is as well to be perfectly plain, because there are those who think that in the course of the last two or three years there has been a steadily growing agitation—I do not say inspired by the Admiralty, but centring round the Admiralty—to disintegrate the Air Force, and many of those who remember the War and the lessons of the War are strongly opposed to any policy of the kind. First, I wish to ask the First Lord about the news which we have read in the papers concerning what is called the Burney airship scheme. Apparently some negotiations have been going on and, in fact, it was stated by the Civil Lord that. negotiations had been going on in connection with this scheme and that is, notwithstanding the fact that during the War and after the War, the Admiralty displayed very little interest in the air at all. I do not think that it will be denied by the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs).

    The past is relevant to the present. At the beginning of the War there were only five small airships. In March, 1915, the first "S.S." appeared, and at the Battle of Jutland there was one seaplane in the air, and in 1920 they decided they would not proceed with the provision of air material at all. That is the past history of the Admiralty in dealing with the question of the Air Service. Now they are inspired by a desire to be of some assistance and to have a naval air arm, whatever that may mean, and we saw in the "Times" only a couple of months ago that £250,000 is to be found from Admiralty money for the purpose of subsidising what is called the Burney airship scheme. The hon. and gallant Member whose name is associated with this scheme explained at the Air Conference that they went to the Admiralty because the Admiralty had plenty of money, and it was no use going to the Air Ministry because the Air Ministry had not got any money. That is an extraordinary explanation of the distribution of the work of defence between well defined Departments. However, the Admiralty, if this report is to be credited, apparently have £250,000 which they can spend on this service. Is the service in question intended to deal only with war situations? Surely the Admiralty is only concerned with the war side of the question. We know in the Report of the War Cabinet, which was printed as a document and circulated in 1917, the failure of the Zeppelins was recognised, and I take a more picturesque and emphatic description of their work from the late First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr. Winston Churchill, who says:

    "Forty millions of money was squandered by successive Boards in building British Zeppelins, not one of which on any occasion ever rendered any effective fighting service."
    That is an extract from the much criticised book of the late First Lord of the Admiralty. If they are of no military value except to transport troops, and possibly as aeroplane carriers, services intimated by the Secretary of State, certainly they cannot become in their war capacity under Admiralty control, because these transportations of troops or quelling of disturbances will always be done in distant-lands, such as Iraq, for instance, where the Admiralty has no access with its ships whatever. If these airships are to be of use, they must be of use in a civilian capacity, and nobody has denied that there are possibilities of useful service for commercial purposes to he rendered by them, but if they are a purely civilian undertaking, what on earth has the Admiralty to do with it? They would have to use the same aerodromes as exist already to some extent, and the same supply depots for fuel, they would have to buy engines of more or less the same type as the aero-engine, and on the routes which they pursue there would have to be arranged radiating services to go with the long distance of the Zeppelin.

    Supposing a Zeppelin goes 1,000 miles without stopping, you must have where it stops a radiating service which would bring the passengers or goods to that spot, and not only that, but between the two stations you must have a stopping train, the Zeppelin being the express. These stopping services and radiating services will have to be supplied by aeroplanes, and not airships at all, and so the plan apparently is that the Admiralty should subsidise a civilian airship, which would duplicate the work and have to work side by side with the Department of the Air Ministry which is concerned with a civil aviation route and supplying all aeroplanes, material, aerodromes, maps, charts, signals, and so on, for that route. If the House examines this in an impartial spirit, I am sure that nobody can say that this is Admiralty work. I express no opinion on the Burney scheme, but whatever merits it may have, it is not a piece of work which properly falls to the Admiralty Department to undertake.

    I want now to pass to a word about this question of the unity of the Air Service. Two years ago the then First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Long, said quite clearly in the House:
    "I want to make it perfectly clear, for there has been some misunderstanding, that there is no intention whatever on the part of the Admiralty to attempt to depart from the clear and definite policy laid down by the Government……namely, that the Air Ministry is to he an independent Department, and that we should look to them for developments of air policy in the future, for the best kind of air machine, the way in which the men have to be trained, and so on."
    Is that statement true to-day? Is it true to-day that the Admiralty accept the existing policy of the Government—that the Air Ministry should be in supreme and unified control of the whole of the Air Service? We all read in the statement of the First Lord a very surprising announcement. He said the Admiralty were training 140 officers and 1,000 men in anticipation of a decision of His Majesty's Government empowering the Admiralty to man with naval personnel the air arm of the Fleet. I do not think such an amazing statement has ever appeared in an official document before. This House allots money and defines duties to the various Departments and, for the First Lord to announce that he is keeping men in reserve for a purpose which has not been authorised, paying them all money which may not be authorised, anticipating a decision of the Government or of the Imperial Defence Committee which may never be made, and which I hope will, if made, never be ratified by this House, is a most amazing state of affairs. It is very interesting to observe that there are 1,000 men and 140 officers of the Navy suitable for manning the air arm of the Fleet. That is very interesting, because it is not two years since the Air Ministry asked the Admiralty if they could find 100 officers who were willing to come forward and volunteer for air work. When 100 were asked for by the Air Ministry, only nine volunteered, and, of those, two were unfit, while of the remaining seven, four were "axed" out in pursuance of the recommendations of the Geddes Committee, so that when you ask for 100 men to perform work which the House has approved there are only nine men, who melt away by being unfit or by being cleared out, but when it is a question of manning the air arm, whatever that may mean, in anticipation of a decision, there are 1,000 men and 140 officers who are to be placed in reserve for this purpose.

    Surely the hon. and gallant Member sees the difference between permanently leaving the Service and temporarily leaving it?

    I am coming to that. That is to say, you want sailors who do a little flying in their spare time. Hon. Members like the hon. Member for Hertford (Rear-Admiral Sueter) and others who have worked under the Admiralty—and I have, in a subordinate capacity—will know that that is the naval conception of flying. It is a little thing you do in your spare time; you are a good sailor, and if you have time you be-conk a good airman as well. As a matter of fact, the only basis of air power is for a man to be an airman the whole time, for his whole life and his whole career. I am going to attempt to justify that. What are the services that are to be rendered? Dealing merely with this claim that the naval arm should be amputated from the parent body, what are the services? They are air fighting, bombing, torpedoing, reconnaissances, and spotting. Spotting requires the closest liaisonbetween the man doing the spotting and the gunner firing at the back, but reconnaissance, bombing and fighting are pure air services, and the amount of connection that is necessary with a ship or the amount of the naval spirit that the men ought to have are of the very smallest. Moreover, if you did cut off the naval air service you would first of all cut off a great number of people serving in it from a general experience of air work, and thereby reduce the number of men who might be qualified to serve in an air staff college, and you would reduce the number of men available for a reserve of pilots, because a man's whole career is spent in flying in connection with the Fleet or in returning to his duties with the. Fleet, instead of a number of men being passed through, taught to fly, and forming in future a reserve of pilots.

    I want now to say a word about the speech of the Secretary of State on the Air Estimates in general. He explained to us that we have no Air power standard at all. That was the gist, the summing-up, of the explanation that he gave. He gave the figures of what it would cost to. have a, one-Power Air standard. He did not mention a thing which I myself would have much liked to hear mentioned, namely, whet-her the Government was making any effort to extend the principles of the Washington Treaty to Air armaments. That is the really useful thing to do, to persuade the great Powers of the world to extend to this most dangerous and growing form of offence the same principles that they are prepared to extend to the obsolescent battleship. But if the Secretary of State says that there is no money for expanding the Air Service, I would direct his attention, and that of hon. Members, to the statement in the Geddes Committee Report to the effect that it was necessary to substitute the Air arm for the Navy and the Army in the performance of certain definite and specified duties; that is to say, that the Air should gradually supersede the Army and Navy in fields of endeavour where it could be appropriately employed. It is obvious that if this it to be done it will never be done with the goodwill either of the Admiralty or the War Office. It is not natural to expect it. No admiral would ever concede that some flying thing could do work better than some floating thing.

    I do not think it is to be expected—it is trying human nature too high—any more than any cavalry man would ever admit that an aeroplane does most of the work of the cavalry better, more effectively, and more cheaply. It is obvious that we must have a higher authority which can take all three Services and control and co-ordinate the work between them, and that seems to me to be essential if ever you are to get the substitution of more economical, scientific and advanced ways of working for the older Services. It is done in the case of Mesopotamia, where the Air Service has the supreme command, where the ground troops properly come under the control of the Air Marshal Commanding the Forces.

    There are other functions, which have not been already allotted, which should be set aside as work definitely to be undertaken by the Air Service, as, for instance, the patrolling of trade routes and the repelling of invasion by sea. That is primarily a work that could be done by the Air Service. The enemy of the ship coming to this country is the submarine, and no one will deny that. the air scout, at some time or another, is far the most dangerous enemy of the submarine. I remember quite well that in the Mediterranean we had old trawlers, going about six knots, armed with one ridiculous little gun, firing a six or 12 pound shot, toiling away, quite unable to check what few submarines there were, whereas the whole Service might have been mapped out and watched by very few seaplanes, or flying boats, or lighter-than-air craft, a scheme which would have made the life of the submarine impossible in those waters. I saw an extract from a diary of a German submarine commander, and it was clear from that diary that the submarines lived in terror of the aircraft. They dared not come to the surface for fear they might be spotted and bombed. Therefore, I say that the patrolling of trade routes and the repelling of invasion by sea are work which should be laid on the Air Ministry. It must also be remembered that people have to get a long distance away from the nearest enemy aerodrome in the next war, otherwise its existence will be very precarious.

    Farther than that, the Air Ministry's work—and I imagine this has already been allotted to it—is the repelling of invasion by air. That is entirely an Air Ministry task. Invasion by air must be met by finding and bombing the munition and other centres of the enemy, the aerodromes, and so on, not by waiting for the aeroplanes to come here. That brings me to another point, namely, that the Air Ministry, or the supreme commander of the Air Force, must have the whole of his material under his hand, and mobile. That is the supreme reason why we should not divide the Service, and get it. under the control of Admirals and Generals all over the place.

    Would the lion. and gallant Member like to see the Air Ministry able to take away the whole of the Air arm of the Fleet?

    I am not going to answer what is obviously a military question, hut it. is quite clear that the Supreme Air Commander should be the man who is, in the last resort, in control of all things that fly everywhere. It may be absolutely necessary. I suppose, however, it is easy to be led away into making statements that cannot be justified by a particular instance. It is quite obvious that if you have your air carrier or aircraft with the Fleet he must come under the command of the Admiral of the Fleet for the time being. But what I am speaking about is the need for mobility and power in massing the individual, power to strike at the outbreak of war, and this does depend upon maintaining a unity of command.

    6.0 P.M.

    All this talk about splitting up the Air Force runs quite contrary to all the lessons which the War taught us. There is nothing new about the suggestion that you should split up the Air Force between the Army and the Navy. In 1912, when the air was first seriously considered from a military point of view, there was a Committee set up, presided over by General Seely. It is a very singular thing, but it never met after the outbreak of war. Then in 1916, when there had been keen competition for material and personnel between the conflictings arms of the Service, the Derby Committee went into the matter, and again there was the Curzon Air Board and the Cowdray Committee. These pointed out that unless you had unity of control in the Air Service things would go wrong. Finally, the various parties concerned were housed together, and under stress of the experiences of the War the Air Ministry was set up, there was an investigation, and the whole state of affairs was looked into. If the War taught us that it was necessary that the Air Force should be one, why should we in times of peace forget these lessons and proceed to dismember it on account of an agitation which is set on foot? Whether from the Admiralty or wherever else, the effect is the same.

    The Air is now recognised as being our first line of defence. That involves a consideration of the element itself, the mechanism employed, and the mentality of those who use that mechanism. The airman should not depend for his career upon the Admiral or the General. He must be single-minded. His qualifications, ambitions, and goal should be one: his reward to serve his country in the air. He cannot have his prospects of advancement jeopardised by being under the control of another Service. Where a man's treasure is there will his heart be also. Just one other word—not at very great length—on civil aviation which is the real place of air supremacy. The Secretary of State spoke of the existence of his 52 squadrons. The Estimate is £17,000,000 or thereabouts, I suppose, the figure given to the House in another place last year. I think the Secretary of State did not lay sufficient emphasis upon civil aviation, even from the military point of view. It may be perfectly true to say that the kind of aircraft produced for civilian flying is not suitable for war use. That may be perfectly true, but it is not true to say that the pilot who is using it. day by day, and constantly flying his aircraft, is not an excellent pilot for war work, even if it is right to say that the type of machine he flies is not a suitable type for military purposes. That is not the question. The question is, have we the factories and the material which can produce in time of need—places regularly and properly designed? That is entirely a matter for the Air Ministry, and no amount of designing or ability will be useful unless you have the factory and the men and the potential output. Therefore, I say, that to consider civil aviation is not needed, though useful in any other case, seems not to the point, for it is a great source of strength even from the military standpoint.

    In looking at these Estimates, although they are figures of last year, it is very disappointing to find that reductions are made in the civilian branches. There is a head of expenditure which concerns civil aviation. The Estimates of the aircraft factory, I know, have been rearranged. As I make out, both the director of civil aviation, the meteorological department and the civil aviation department have all suffered reductions. I note that on page 71 of the Estimate. It looks like a reduction of between £300,000 and £400,000. The result of our effort to stimulate civil aviation—I do not know that we have any recorded results as to research—are not very satisfactory. In 1920 there were 240 airworthy craft. In 1921 there were only 157, and in 1922 there were only 97. I do not know what the figure now is, but I imagine that it is much the same, or perhaps even lower. If you take the number of miles flown; we find that in the three years May, 1919, till March, 1922, which are the latest figures, that civil aircraft flew two million miles, one internally and one externally; while, on the other hand, if you look at France—I am only dealing with the civil, and not the military point of view—in 1921 there were 1,400,000, or roughly a million and a half miles flown. I saw a statement in the newspaper at Christmas with reference to civil aviation in France, and it stated that in 1922 9,000,000 miles were flown in France. I think the number of miles is a good test as to progress.

    In America. in the report of which I am speaking—and it is now nearly a year old—in the six months specified the postal service machines flew 1,000,029 miles. The figures of our own civilian flying compare very unfavourably with these. After three years, as I make out, we are send- ing out about 300,000 air mails. In America, during the six months of which I have spoken, 25,000,000 letters were sent by air mail. Of course, the long distances there have to be taken into account, but I do not think there is a great deal of satisfaction to be gained. I think the problem is somehow to root the flying habit in the people of this country and make civil aviation flourish. It seems necessary to do it. We have tried subsidies. We gave £200,000 of the taxpayers money as against France's 43,000,000 francs of total expenditure. We are paying towards civil aviation this year £300,000 against a total French expenditure last year of 147,000,000 francs. I do not know whether these methods are the right methods, but the Secretary of State in his interesting speech told us that they are eliminating from this Vote all these subsidies. The right hon. Gentleman, however, outlined a very interesting scheme for unifying the subsidies to flying companies. By some such methods as this I am convinced you must proceed if you are to maintain security, and a real and permanent air supremacy.

    This is not primarily a military problem at all. There are military problems in it, but they are all subsidiary—gunnery, bombing, and so on—these, so far as the air is concerned, are in an absolutely elementary stage. All these problems are not unimportant by any means, but the important problem is of getting a potential output of machines and of having a nation that really is used to the air. Air may be said to have been subdued, but not conquered, and the problems that have to be faced are not military problems; they are the problems of research and so on, problems that might be solved to the very great profit of civilian flying if we were to establish it and had the means to do it.

    What are some of these problems Fuel, for instance, engines, and navigation. I put these three points in that way. I see that General Salmond at the Air Conference said that petrol was costing £25 a ton; crude oil was only £4 a ton. And supposing an engine is invented—and I believe we are in prospect of it—which uses crude oil, and we could pay for the oil £4 instead of £25, what an enormous difference it would make to the capacity for aviation! The engines, again, which use this fuel—I do not know whether they are, engines of high power-which are required—but I think General Branker said at the same conference that 350 horsepower was about the power required. As to navigation, can it really be said that we have many people, good pilots, who are really up in all sorts of weather? Clouds are bad enough. Fogs are worse. Even so, can we say that the military pilot has experience compared with the experience of the civilian pilot; that he has the amount of confidence that enables him to fly even through a fog—has the same amount of confidence as a man who makes the, lame journey every day? It is only by that constant flying, this hundreds and thousands of miles of flying, that you do develop the type of man not afraid of adverse and affrighting conditions of atmosphere.

    Therefore, I say, that the real problem for the Air Ministry is how to teach the people of this country to regard the element, that is the air, as as much their element as the sea now is. In the old days it is not denied that the British Navy was founded upon the mercantile marine. We were driven to sea because we lived in an island. There was the "urge." .Unfortunately, there is no such "urge" as regards the air. The nations of the world. are in the same position. There is no special privilege to be enjoyed or special handicap to be avoided, whichever you like to call it. It is of this problem I am speaking, and not of it as it will stand two, three, or four years hence, but I wish to take the long view of this problem. I am convinced that the Air Minister who directed his attention to a solution, or a partial solution, of it might bring a blessing to the world, and certainly set up a source of great power to this country.

    I am proud in speaking for the first time in this House to do so on the great question of national and Imperial defence. As I see it the problem of a sound defensive air system is insolubly linked up with those two other great groups of problems—international affairs and social reform. I start from the basis that, as we all know, this country does not want war. We would do almost anything to ensure peace. Our men and women in field, factory, and home won the War, and in winning it hoped that they were winning the end of war. We all, I think, feel intensely that the greatest gift to all classes and of all countries would be the elimination of war. If war cannot be eliminated root and branch, we hope that either by the League of Nations, or some other machinery, there may be a definite and general reduction of armaments. At all events, I think our Navy and Army Estimates have given a good lead in the direction of a definite reduction of armaments in this country. Personally, I think that the lead which the Navy has given is not too small, and I disagree with the First Lord of the Admiralty when he says that possibly next year it will not be so mach reduced. I hope it will, and I feel sure it will and must, be further reduced.

    We are a practical nation. Apparently wars have not yet ceased, and it is obvious that we should still have, on the lowest possible minimum scale, a Navy, Army, and Air Force.

    It, seems to me that the defence of our Empire is now even more complicated than hitherto. It is greatly complicated by the factor that we have to save every possible penny, and the difficult problem which the air presents. We cannot carry on our defence on the old methods of expenditure and organisation. We must remodel our system. Air development entails a radical rearrangement. In my view the safety of the, Empire now rests not upon one, of three Services—I think the words, "First line," are now out of date—but entirely upon the corporate cooperation of the three Services in one. Our primary requirements in the matter of defence are the laying down of a sane, safe, economieal, long-dated policy. This is the only way in which any department or business can operate economically and efficiently. That, is, it is a strategically based policy whirl, the three Services or, as I prefer to call it, the unified defensive Service most requires.

    I am not one of those who think that the necessity for a Navy and an Army will shortly cease, but I do want to say that the air opens out a new phase, and a new sphere of operations in war. I think that the air will gradually play a preponderating rôle in the matter of defence, going far in peace to help in assisting to avoid conflict as much Ls to ensure victory when war comes. The Imperial Flying Services at the end of the War were the finest in the world. We now know that we no longer retain that lead, and I am quite sure the whole House will agree that at this juncture a misguided air policy would be almost a national disaster for the future. The question involves itself into obtaining some definite correlation on a co-operation, not competing, basis of the Navy, Army and the Air. First of all, we should have one policy. I think, secondly, there is great room for the correlation of the various Services within the three arms in order to secure greater economy and greater efficiency. I have never been able. to understand why in the different fighting departments there should be separate chaplains, doctors, clothing, pay, and supply services for each arm instead of there. being one service for the three. At present each Service says it must have its own. I realise the difficulties, especially the personal ones, bet I think the time has come to face them on practical business-like lines.

    The question of Treasury control over the finances of the three Services to my mind is a matter also which requires readjusting. The logical conclusion, as I see it, of all this is that there should be unity of control for the three Services. I do not say that we can definitely and very soon set up that control, but I do think that there are many steps which should be steadily taken one by one, tried and developed. They should all tend in that direction. There is one point which requires very careful improvement before such a logical conclusion is arrived at, and that is that the senior staffs of the three Services want. a much greater degree of education in joint-Service work than they have at the present time. I am entirely against. working in water-tight compartments, whether it be in regard to education or any other service. Therefore, although I welcome the new Staff College which the Secretary of State has mentioned as just coming into being in regard to the Air Force, I think it is of greater importance that there should be a unified joint Staff College for the senior officers of the three Services.

    There are three main factors in the air problem. First, long range, independent action and home defence. Secondly, there should be tactical units working with the Navy and the Army; and, thirdly, there should be overseas air communications and reserve force. I think that these three problems or factors in the problem should be very carefully weighed in their various ratios within the air itself and concurrently with the air problem as a whole being considered in regard to the Army and Navy. We all know that the first is of the greatest importance from the war point of view. We know that in the matter of the air, even more than in the matter of any other form of defence, attack is not. only the best but almost the only form of defence. And we shall certainly be in a very dangerous position if we do not develop and organise this Service on a really sound, scientific, concentrated and not dispersed basis.

    The second point, about which there has been so much controversy, is that of the actual units with the Army and Navy, and, again, this requires consideration as a whole and not in detail. The Admiralty have a very strong case in this matter and almost the same might be said of the Army. As I understand it, the Admiralty think that reconnaissance machines are just as much a necessity to ships as their own look-outs, and that spotting, and torpedo carriers are as integral and necessary a part of the Fleet as destroyers. The Army also think that reconnaissance machines and observation for artillery machines are also a necessity for day in and day out work and that they must have them as an integral part of the Army. If the Navy claims are admitted the Army will have sooner or later to be met.

    The Air arguments are also very strong. The Air argument is that the whole dominion of the air should come under their purview, that the old system of naval and military wings is retrograde, checks progress and only sets up competition, and also that a reversion to the old system would make abortive its true independent strategic action. As I see the question, I think we ought to concentrate, first of all, upon the necessity for the independent arm. If we could ensure sufficient strength of that we ought to give very sympathetic hearing to the Admiralty and War Office views on this matter. Again. I do not think that anyone should dogmatise on the subject, but the new Committee should be able to have the best possible opportunity of really studying the question as a whole and deciding the matter upon its merits. We must remember, however, that in this question the only way in which air attack can be met is by the air, and that to ensure the air having sufficient power to act in that way it requires every possible unit which it can lay its hands upon, of a suitable form, to carry out that work. Another point is that, long before the Navy or the Army can be ready to act in the event of war, the Air will be raining blows upon the opposing country, far beyond Army or Navy reach, so much so that it may be impossible for them to start operations at all. If the Air Force of one country is successful, the Kavy and Army functions will be very much reduced; but if it is unsuccessful, the Navy and Army will be much hampered in their operations. It is quite impossible to defend areas from the ground.

    One danger is that if the Navy and the Army get their own tactical units there might be a desire in some quarters to dispense with the development of independent long-range air action, and there might be a tendency for that independent action to be reduced to very little or nothing. It is in regard to such independent action that we should concentrate primarily. There is a deep-rooted feeling on the part of the Air that the proposals of the other two Services are the thin end of the wedge to the assimilation of the balk of the Service Air activities, and their opinion is that this would be a very dangerous step to take from the point of view of Air progress and from the point of view of defence efficiency as a whole. But the whole of this question it will be quite possible. to deal with if it is taken up by the new Committee which is about to sit. One word of warning about this new Committee. In my opinion, it can only operate with real success if it is an independent and very strong Committee. We know that there are points to be dealt with, I hardly know quite the right word to use, but each Department. will naturally and obviously fight for its own hand, and unless the Committee is very strong it will be quite unable to cope with the real necessity of breaking down the barriers between the three Services and. bringing them together.

    I should also like to mention the question of experiments, research and design, and also that of the commercial air fleet. I feel that experiments want very much more pushing than they get at present, much more energy to be put into them. There is a great deal which can be done in the experimental field—a great deal which is obviously waiting to be tackled. ft is very important that experiment and research, which is really the basis of all progress, should be tackled with a very strong hand. Then there is the question of the actual flying carried out. The only way that Air progress can be achieved is by flying, and with your experiments you want to carry out the greatest amount of practical useful flying. I should like to ask the Secretary of State a question on this point of practical flying. What is the number of officers who flew as pilots during the year ending 31st March, 1922, the average number of hours flown by the officers during that period, and also what is the percentage of those officers to the total numbers in the Air Force? I think any tendency not to push flying as much as possible must be guarded against very stringently. Again, in regard to the commercial aspect., the great value of commercial flying lies not only in the reserve powers of the industry, and in the experiments which it helps to foster, but also in the training, utility and experience of pilots and other personnel involved. That is a very real factor in the whole question. Numbers at present are obviously very small, but that is no reason why a small beginning should not be made at once. We heard from the First Lord of the Admiralty that he was already starting a naval base at Singapore. I hope the Air Minister will work in with that scheme, because it is not only from the air point of view of great. value to the Service, but also I think it will be of great value in assisting a commercial air route to Australia.

    The First Lord also mentioned the visit of naval units to different parts of the world. If Singapore were established as a naval basis, it would do a great deal to help that. It is not possible, unfortunately, this year for the Dominions Prime Ministers to come over by air to the Imperial Conference; but I feel it is a matter of great urgency that we should try to set, our own home defence house in order and have a really sound workable scheme to put before them in order to obtain their mutual co-operation in an Imperial scheme when they arrive. If that is done, I hope that in a few years the Dominion Prime Ministers will be able to come very frequently to this country or our Prime Minister will be able to go to their country in order to confer with them on current questions of Imperial importance.

    I should like to congratulate very sincerely my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the. Hallam Division of Sheffield (Sir F. Sykes) on what was, not only a most interesting maiden speech, but something very much more— a valuable contribution to a vitally important subject. I rose to answer two questions addressed to me by the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Captain W. Benn), and I shall endeavour to answer them purely as questions of fact without going into the merits of the controversy, which would be far better dealt with by the authoritative consideration of the Committee which has been appointed. The first question was in regard to the Burney airship scheme. My hon. and gallant Friend is undoubtedly under a certain misapprehension, possibly due to things he may have seen in the Press or even to utterances of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Commander Burney). The Committee of Imperial Defence of the Cabinet set up a Sub-Committee to consider whether airships had any defence value. That Sub-Committee took the view, which was summarised very clearly by the Secretary of State, that they had a value in more than one direction. One was for carrying troops; another was to carry aeroplanes; the third, and the only one which affected the Admiralty, was that these big airships, owing to their great range and power to remain in the air for weeks, might be of great value in patrolling large open spaces of ocean. Having come to this conclusion, the Committee of Imperial Defence asked the Admiralty to put the more definite question whether such a service was worth paying for, and the Admiralty, coming to the conclusion that that form of reconnaissance might he of great value to the Admiralty in economising the work of its light cruisers, decided that it was well worth paying for. The further question as to who should pay for and who should control that service is, obviously, just one of those questions which can only be decided by the Committee which is investigating the relations of the three Services. I take it, it would not be of any real advantage to the House, therefore, to discuss it.

    The second question which the hon. and gallant Member asked referred to the 1,000 men and 140 officers who have not been discharged from the Navy pending the decision on the question of the control of the personnel who are to do the air work with the fighting fleet. I must remind the House that that. personnel will have to be considerably enlarged during the coming year in view of the fact that three large aircraft carriers will then be completed. Consequently there will be a considerable expansion in that. service. In view of the fact that the late Cabinet had undertaken to appoint a Committee, whose decision might be expected either before the end of the financial year or very shortly after, it surely would have been the height of umwisdom and more than unwisdom, of cruelty, to dismiss large numbers of men from the naval service who might be wanted within a few weeks of the opening of the new financial year. More than that, it was not a question of economy, because the compensation required for that number of officers and men on dismissal would have amounted to something not far from £100,000. Therefore, without prejudicing in any way the decision either in favour of the Admiralty or of the Air Ministry, we came to the conclusion that the wisest course was to keep these men on for the few weeks—the comparatively short time which was likely to elapse before the actual decision was given.

    What are the men doing now'? Have they any duties? Did the Cabinet authorise their continuance on air duties?

    Of course, this action was approved both by the Treasury and the Cabinet. I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that the reduction in the personnel of the Fleet has reached such a. point that if for a few weeks a certain number of extra men are spared to the Admiralty, there is plenty of work for them to do. They are not idle men kicking their heels about. The men who would actually be used for the air work are not necessarily the same men who would be discharged. and if the discharge is postponed for a short time, I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend there is no question of these thousand men kicking their heels waiting for work.

    Defence Forces (Co-Operation)

    I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words:

    "That, pending the consideration as to the advisability or otherwise of the complete co-operation and correlation of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, this House is of opinion that immediate steps should be taken to eliminate unnecessary expenditure consequent upon duplication of staffs, or the elaboration of various and competitive plans dealing with the problems of air defence over land and sea."
    I have listened to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for the Hallam Division (Sir F. Sykes) with a great deal of interest, and I, too, want to compliment him on it. He began by voicing the mind of a good many hon. Members on these benches when he said that people were tired of war, that they did not want war and that they wanted to seek some way of avoiding it. That is the spirit in which we approach these Estimates, just as it is the spirit in which we approach both the Navy and the Army Estimates. When the First Lord of the Admiralty, yesterday, was presenting the Navy Estimates, he was able to take credit for a reduction in expenditure, and I take it that to-morrow, when the Secretary of State for War presents the Army Estimates, he also will take credit for a reduction in expenditure. Unfortunately, to night, the Air Minister is not in that position, and, listening carefully to his speech, one did not get the impression that he was particularly regretful that he was not in a position to announce to the House a reduction of expenditure in regard to the Air Services. I am prepared to agree thus far with the right hon. Gentleman, that the Air Service is in its infancy, and there is every likelihood of its growing; and, perhaps, that may be a justification of the Government in not being anxious at this time to reduce expenditure upon it.

    To-night, however, as it seems to me, we ought to consider the question which way the Air Service is likely to grow, and there are two aspects of it that I should like to put before the House, the one dealing with the question of increase of expenditure, and the other dealing with the question of policy. In my opinion, while the question of increased expenditure is an important one, the question of policy is of equal importance, and so for a few minutes I want to look at the question of policy. One rather anticipated that the Debate would centre upon the question whether the Navy is to have control of its own Air Service, whether the Army is to have control of its own Air Service, and, whether the Air Ministry is to control the Air Services, except those of the Army and the Navy. It really seems to me to become a question whether each one of these three Services is to be independent of the others. One noticed, on the Navy Estimates, several Amendments to the effect that the sole control of and responsibility for the Air arm of the Royal Navy should be vested in the Admiralty; and Amendments to the Air Estimates have been put down almost to the same effect.

    We take altogether a different course from that suggested in the Amendments to the Navy Estimates. We believe that, instead of in-dependence, there ought to he co-operation of all the three Services. We believe that there should be no competition between them, and we suggest co-operation, not only in the interests of economy, but also in the interests of efficiency. We believe that. the machinery for co-operation already exists in the Committee of Imperial Defence. I want to make it clear that one is not suggesting that the Navy should not have a limited number of aeroplanes, so as to provide its own personnel. We quite recognise that a naval airman will be better to have, not only the habit of the air, hut also the habit of the sea. Our trouble with the Admiralty is that it thinks only in terms of one big fleet fighting another big fleet. I am not going to suggest, either, that the Army should not have a limited number of aeroplanes in which to train its own personnel to work as the eyes of the Army, but we feel that here, again, the trouble is that the War Office thinks in terms of an immense Continental army, and thinks of war as a business of one big army going to fight another. One rather regrets to say one feels that the Air Ministry seems to be thinking too much in terms of mass bombing. To many of us the most important question appears in be the question of trade routes and economic warfare.

    One wants rather to emphasise the dual function of the Air Ministry. One knows that it. is called upon to deal with a new problem, but one wants to emphasise that that new problem is civilian as well as military and naval. It involves not only naval defence, but also the development of flight as a factor in commerce and general intercourse between nations. Even from a purely defence point of view, the aim of the Air Ministry should be to build up, not only an Air Force capable of defending the British Empire, but—and this is vastly the more important—to create something having the same relation to that force which the Mercantile Marine has to the Royal Navy. We believe this to be undoubtedly the best and the cheapest method of training a large number of men to fly and to acquire the habit of the air. A gentleman with whom I was discussing this question told me he believed that 90 per cent. of the requisite training—I am not going to pin myself to that figure, but he gave it as one who had a thorough knowledge of the question—he believed that 90 per cent. of the requisite training could be given to the men without. sending them up in battle, by encouraging civil aviation.

    I do not know whether the Air Minister noticed an article written by Robert Blatchford in the last issue of the "Sunday Chronicle." I have never agreed with Robert Blatchford since, in the early days, he threw over his Socialism, but with much of this article one did agree. I do not know whether all the Members of the House were favoured by having the "Sunday Chronicle" sent to them, but many of us on this side were so favoured. I should like to read just a word or two from that. article. It says:
    "There is no need to build a very large war fleet of aeroplanes, nor to train a huge army of pilots."
    I should rather like to emphasise this, because one got the impression from the Air Minister's speech that he was thinking only of military, and not of civil aeroplanes. The article goes on:
    "The best way is that advocated in Riders of the Air ' "—
    a book that has been written on the question, in which, as we are told in the article, the author says:
    "There is, surely, but one way, and Canada has adopted it. The military defence must be based upon civil aviation. Civil aircraft must be constructed with the necessary foresight to make the machines convertible at an hour's notice into military ones, and the personnel must be so trained as to make the men instantly ready for war. Civil aviation must he encouraged and developed as a great national asset."
    In dealing with the question of civil aviation, the Minister seemed to lead one to believe that, unless a company was prepared to put clown sufficient capital to establish this civil air service, there was no prospect of our having a civil air service, and he further gave the impression that the best. way to form this civil company was by subsidising it. We are strongly opposed to any subsidies to private companies. We believe that, rather than subsidise a private company, much the better way is for the Government. to face the, question, nationalise the air service, and fly the machines themselves.

    There is one other question to which I want to refer, namely, the question of research. The Minister, when dealing with the question of research, seemed to treat it in a way that one did not like. He said that on the question of research they were dealing with the control of aircraft at low speeds, the, use of crude oil, and with gliding. We want to suggest to the Minister that, there is a larger field for research than he has mentioned to-night, for the large field in regard to defensive methods other than fighting in the air remains unexplored. The Minister and those connected with the Air Service seem to have the impression that all that can be done and thought about is fighting in the air. We believe that research ought to take the line of trying to find out some other method of defence. No one can tell yet, because the whole field is unexplored, what. defensive method might be found out other than fighting by aeroplanes in the air. We are bound to confess that, in our present state of ignorance, it is difficult to frame an adequate air policy.

    With regard to increase of expenditure on the Air Service, we wish that, when the Geddes axe was applied so strongly and firmly to the Navy and Army, it had also been applied, even though gently, to the Air Service, because, while the Government have been able to save. by decreasing expenditure on the Army and Navy, they have to come here and acknowledge an increase of expenditure on the Air Service. It seems as though we have been saving on the swings and losing on the roundabouts. Even if it had not been possible for the Air Ministry to cut down expenditure, one thinks it might have been possible, at a time like this, for them not to increase expenditure. because, if one understood the Minister aright, the increase is largely due to the fact that 15 new squadrons are to be formed. If those 15 new squadrons had not had to be formed, there would have been no need to increase the expenditure on the Air Service. We were told that those 15 new squadrons were formed for the purpose of home defence, but, if it. were merely a question of home defence, I suggest that the better way would have been to have brought home the eight squadrons that are in the Middle East, instead of spending money upon new squadrons. That would have been far better than using them to bomb Arabs who do not pay their rates.

    I know that that has been denied in the House, but one also knows that Sir Percival Phillips still sticks to it., that his statement. is true, and one has never seen any contradiction made by the Air Ministry in the "Daily Mail."

    I am sorry to interrupt the. hon. Member, but I do not think he could have been in the House when, on several occasions during this Session, I have made a definite denial of those charges. I think he will agree with me that the place to make a denial is this Chamber rather than the "Daily Mail."

    7.0 P.M.

    I quite agree that the Air Minster is right in saying that this is the proper place to make a denial. One cannot, however, forget this fact, that the statement was made in the "Daily Mail "and in a hook published by Sir Percival Phillips. Then the denial was given in this House, after which the statement was repeated by Sir Percival Phillips, who said it was true. I should be extremely pleased to accept the statement of the Air Minister that it is not true, because if such a thing has been done, we had better have no aeroplanes at all. If we simply have aeroplanes to collect rates, or to bomb Arabs who do not pay their rates, or to kill the mothers-in-law of Arabs, then it is far better to have no aeroplanes at all than to use them for that purpose.

    One has noticed a rather great clamour in the Press for more aeroplanes, and for a greater and bigger Air Service than we have at present. I was surprised to read in a Sunday paper, last Sunday—it is a paper one regards as being always a moderate and intelligent sort of journal—this statement. The writer was dealing with an announcement that had been made by the Air Ministry, and he said:
    "The Air Ministry announce that our Air Force is to be increased by fifteen squadrons. We only wish this Government were big enough to propose an increase of fifty squadrons. Even that would leave us seriously inferior to our nearest neighbours. As a standard, this country ought to set before itself air equality with the determination to achieve and maintain it at any price. The price would be low by comparison with the value of the object."
    The writer goes further, and says:
    "Our minimum, however low, ought to be equal to the minimum of any other nation in Europe."
    To-night, when the Air Minister was speaking, I rather had the impression that he was telling us that we had only 371 machines against France's 1,260 machines, and that there was in the Minister's mind the thought that we should be justified in increasing the number of machines so as to get on a level with France. When he was making that statement, this thought went through my mind Have we an alliance with France? We have been told here, again and again, when we have been discussing the Ruhr question, that we still have an alliance with France. If we have an alliance, what is going to he the value of it? Does it mean that it is to have no value either so far as the Navy, the Army or the Air Force is concerned? If France and this country are in alliance, surely in one Department we ought to be justified in being much bigger than France is. We used to be told that Germany was building a big navy, and that it was essential for this country to build and maintain a big Navy in order to be in a position to fight her. It is to be hoped we are not going into that old bad policy again, and that, because France has more aeroplanes than we have, say we shall build a sufficient number of aeroplanes to get on a level with her. I hope we are not going to build a huge fleet of aeroplanes simply because some other nation is foolish enough to do it.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    I do so on general grounds, as well as on a particular principle. I am emboldened to think that what he has said, and what the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Hallam (Sir F. Sykes) has said, conveys my sense of general defence policy. Frankly, I would like to see the Admiralty, the War Office and the Air Service made a Ministry of Defence. We should destroy a few traditions, I dare-say, but they would only be bureaucratic; they would be the traditions of Whitehall which are not worth perpetuating. I do not think that destroying the Admiralty, and making it a part of the Ministry of Defence, would destroy any traditions, such as those of Trafalgar or Camper-down. I am sure that eliminating the War office, as such, would not obliterate memories so glorious as those of Minden or Albuera. The only traditions that would suffer at all are those which we can very well afford to do without. There is one other aspect of this Air stunt—I am afraid it is an Air stunt. We have been told to-night something about a scheme which has been propounded by the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge (Commander Burney). We have not been told exactly what that scheme is. It is this. The hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge proposes to build 12 air liners, to carry 400 first class and 400 second class passengers, and 44 tons of baggage. He suggests that 16 of these aerial liners can be built at the price of one battleship.

    Just look at this proposition for a minute. If there are 800 passengers, I presume the hon. and gallant Gentleman will want a crew of at least 200, and then I am afraid the ship will be a bit short. handed. That makes a thousand people. A thousand average people, provided you do not allow them any more personal luggage than a set of pyjamas and a tooth brush apiece, will weigh 65 tons, in addition to the 44 tons of baggage. I do not know how the hon. and gallant Gentle- man is going to build the ship, but, I presume he will have to have a cabin of some sort, and that he is not going to hang the people up on clothes lines and peg them there. They will want some place to lie down and some bedding. I suppose the airship will want some engines. Suppose you add 50 tons for the engines, because we should remember that it is a very enormous thing the engines will have to propel, there you will have 200 tons, to begin with. I do not know whether the hon. and gallant Gentleman has worked out his quantities at all, or if he has any designs prepared, because I should like to see them, if they are not too sacred or too valuable.

    It, seems to me that the whole bulk of his ship is going to be about 1,000 tons. It is an ascertained fact that the displacement of 100 square inches of air will put into equilibrium, on the surface of the ground, 31 grains. The hon. and gallant Gentleman can work all this out. I am not trying to work it out accurately, but I am just jumping roughly at round figures. I apprehend that he will want at least, to be safe, 35,000,000 cubic feet of atmospheric displacement. Perhaps he can do it with a little bit less: I do not know. It seems to me that the ship will have to be about three-quarters of a mile long, and at least 100 or 120 feet in diameter. I do not think lie can do it. I do not think there are any appliances or materials that we know of at present that will bring about a result like this, however those materials be manipulated. It is a queer suggestion which underlies all this sort of talk about building fleets of airships so much more cheaply than you can build battleships; but think of the difference. You spend from six to nine million pounds—I do not know how much the current price is of a capital ship. When you have built it, it is quite strong enough and quite self-reliant enough to be left out all night in the rain. It does not take any harm if the wind gets up in the night. You cannot leave a monster airship out all night, because she safest when up in the air, and utterly unsafe if out in the open air, and pegged down at either end or both ends. Therefore, you have to build aerodromes. If you are going to have 12 of these ship running, you would always have two at home under repair in case of war breaking out, and somebody coming running after these things with bombing appliances. You will want some place to keep them in. Therefore, instead of their costing one-sixteenth of the price of a battleship, they would cost about four times as much in the long run.

    That seems to me to put the whole thing out of court. It is all very well for these megalomaniacs to paint glorious visions of the wonderful things they can do. They cannot do this sort of thing. It is absolutely against the law. I am not referring to any Statute law. The hon. and gallant. Member for Uxbridge (Commander Burney) had better start a universal league, to see if he cannot prevail upon a higher authority to repeal the law of gravitation. I am reminded of a story told me by an hon. and gallant Friend, who said I could use it. He said that in his regiment there was a sergeant who was passing his musketry examination. The examiner asked him to indicate the forces which operated one way or the other upon a bullet when it left the muzzle of the rifle. The sergeant mentioned atmospheric pressure and initial velocity, and some other things. The examiner said, "Yes that is all right but what about the force of gravity?" "Well, Sir," he replied, "that was abolished in the last Army Order." It would be a very excellent thing if we could abolish that law.

    Personally, I do not believe that the life of an airship is worth talking about, and certainly not worth spending money upon. I do not believe that civil aviation has more than very limited potentialities. I believe, it may he made a luxurious and costly mode of travel for a very few rich people. I do not believe it will be able to he brought into use for general transport. You may do something with it for meals but not a great deal. The unfortunate fact is that there is only one way to resist the force of gravity and that is by the exercise of prodigious and unremitting centrifugal force. It is not done anywhere in nature in any other way than that. It seems to me the heavier you makes these things the more force you have to call in, and the more force you call in the more weight you are going to have. While I believe the aeroplane has little or only a very limited future, the whole of its potentialities are warlike. It is going to be an important arm of the Services. It, is going to form alike defence and attack. That is why I suggest., with all deference to the experts and speaking just from the experience of an operative engineer that aeroplanes of limited size lend themselves particularly to what we know as mass production, and the secret of all mass production is accurate gauging and absolute standardisation, and I view with the greatest alarm a number of aeroplane engineers making any sort of things they like, standardising against each other and against us.

    I want to know why that Farnborough factory cannot be more fully developed. You are not getting out of it what you might get. It was a well-equipped place until you formed the Air Ministry—I do not know what the Air Ministry has done with it—but you can do a great deal there, and what you must determine is type more than anything else. Then you must standardise and see that no one standardises against you. Most of us on this side of the House believe that private enterprise in munitions of war of all sorts and kinds should cease as soon as we can cause them to cease. We do not believe in individuals having the right and the privilege of making murder mechanism to sell to anyone they like in any part of the world, and we believe one of the first steps towards possible peace in the world is to stop this sort of thing, and for that reason we urge that. the defence of this country, in so far as it needs mechanism and in so far as it needs munitions and death-dealing apparatus of any sort or kind, should, as far as possible, be done under Government auspices. That is a thing I have said in respect to another Service a good many times in this House, but it seems to me it. is always worth repeating, because it embodies a very great principle. It is no use talking about world peace, while there are influences at work which make peace impossible. Yon can have peace in the world or you can have armament rings. Which would you like? You cannot have both, and you will never have peace as long as you let people make things of this kind and sell them to whoever they like in any part of the world, as long as you connive in the export or the import of contrivances for death and destruction. Just as long as you do that you are making peace utterly impossible from one end of the world to the other.

    The interesting speeches we have heard from the Mover and Seconder are open to this criticism, that they have very little to do with the Amendment. We heard a great deal about the physical laws of the world from the Seconder, and a good deal about the importance of peace from both, but we heard almost nothing, I think, about correlation, co-operation, duplication and all the other impressive words which appear in the Amendment. What made the speeches still more unusual in Parliamentary form was that, on the subject of civil aviation, they were diametrically opposed to one another in opinion. I should think it is almost the first time in this House we have had an Amendment moved and seconded in speeches which have little or nothing to do with the Amendment but were contradictory of one another. I desire rather to address my observations to the original Motion that you, Sir, do now leave the Chair. That, of course, is the form by which the first step is taken to carrying our Estimates for the year. In the very interesting and instructive statement with which the Secretary of State opened the discussion he gave us a great deal of information, but naturally, and probably quite rightly, he did not deal with the ultimate purpose of the preparations for what he called home defence for which provision is to be made in the Estimates. It is clear, of course, from his lucid statement that there are two great sides to the activity of the Air Force. There is its function in respect to the non-European Empire, which may be almost called the function of a police force, or at any rate the function of fighting against non-civilised people, and there is the function of taking part, if such a calamity again happened to us, in a great European war.

    When these Estimates were considered last year I pointed out, what still seems to me important, though I do not think anyone supported my criticism on that occasion, and probably no one will support it on this, that it is rather difficult to understand why, if you cannot. make effectual provision for taking part in a European war, you are making a provision which is confessedly less than effectual. I can understand saying the danger is so great that we must accept the considerable financial burden involved, and set up a great Air Force com- monsurate with the other great air forces of European countries, or I can understand saying we cannot at present afford to do that and therefore we will virtually leave home defence to slide. But I find it difficult to understand why we try to tread a middle path between those two courses and have preparation which is sufficiently large to be costly and not sufficiently large to be efficient. However, if my right hon. Friend thinks it indiscreet to reply, I shall not complain. If he does not he. will no doubt. say a word about it later on.

    There is one observation which stems to me worth mentioning on the question of home defence. I gather it is the opinion of all who are skilled in these matters that, broadly speaking, and guarding oneself against stating the matte too absolutely, the aeroplane is not a. formidable defensive weapon. You cannot rely upon aeroplanes to defend the shores or the metropolis of this country against hostile aeroplanes, and accordingly it is said the offensive is the only defensive. That is to say, I suppose, the danger of retaliation is the only deterrent for attack. If that is so, it seems to follow that the measure- of our necessary Air Force is to he gauged rather by the harm it can do to a possible enemy than by simply comparing it with the force that that enemy can bring against us. It is clear that if all you can do by way of defence is to attack someone else, the important consideration is, how much mischief you can do that somebody and what force is necessary to do that mischief It does not really matter how disproportionately great is the force which is going to do mischief to you, because your only remedy is to do mischief to the attacking country. That seems rather to put out of court. comparisons with one Power, or two Powers, or the like. The problem is rather a different one in character and in kind from the problem of naval defence, and what one ought really to consider, however dreadful such considiration may be, is whether the Air Force is strong enough to inflict serious and crippling damage. upon any country which it may be our misfortune to be at war with. My right hon. Friend said none of us dream of anything approaching war with France at present. That being so, and it being clear that other nations in Europe, who are near and formidable from an air point of view, are all very exhausted, and unlikely to commence hostilities, I hold the opinion that the present duty of the Air Ministry is to study severe economy and to spend as little money as possible on anything except what is necessary and useful for the Imperial part of their functions.

    At the same time, I hope the integrity and the homogeneity of the Air Force will be maintained. I know there is now a very important movement, how far extending to the Ministry we cannot tell, of course, but very important outside, pressing to reverse the policy undertaken when the Air Force was constituted, and to set up military and naval air arms, which would undertake the ancillary duties for the Navy and the Army which are now performed by the Air Force. As far as the problem of co-operation between the three great Services goes, I am entirely in agreement with what fell from my hon. and gallant Friend in that very interesting maiden speech which he delivered so much to our satisfaction and admiration in the earlier part of the discussion. I quite agree with him that the real solution of the problem is in some general co-ordination in the whole defence of the country of the three great Services, and that, whether in a Ministry of Defence or perhaps in some common general staff or by some other similar method, it may perhaps be found possible to overcome all the difficulties which arise out of rivalries or antagonisms between the Services. But pending some such solution and the decision of the great question by the proper authorities—and I am inclined to think we are not likely to see a Ministry of Defence created immediately or in the very near future—I hold strongly that in this period, when to a large extent we are waiting for the development of research, when foreign policy is feeling its way to a new state of things, when we do not know what will he the ultimate extent of the danger of war, when we do not yet know in what direction the real antagonists will be found, what is essential from all sorts of points of view, scientific research, foreign policy, strategic plans and so forth, is at the present time to retain quite unimpaired the homogeneity of an independent organised Air Force until all these questions are cleared up.

    I know that people say that the Admiralty or the Navy find themselves in difficulty because the co-operation of the air is increasingly felt to be important for an efficient Navy and that, therefore, they desire to control, as they say, the air arm of the Navy. The word "control" is one of the most ambiguous of words, and it is so often used in political discussions and confuses the issue by being used sometimes in one sense and sometimes in another. No one can dispute that if there is an Air Force arm with the Navy for strategic purposes, and for all purposes of the operations of war, the command must lie with the naval officer who commands the fleet. No one imagines that we could have an independent body working for a common strategic purpose not under the orders of the commander of the main body.

    But the word "control" is also sometimes used to mean something quite different, and that is, that the airmen who are doing work with the Navy should belong professionally to the naval profession and not to the air profession. I am sure that that is insanity. I do not believe that anyone who looks closely into the working of the Air Force could believe that such an arrangement could work Let me try to sketch how I imagine such a thing would work, if it were attempted. You must train the airmen who are to do work for the Navy. Presumably, you are going to take naval officers and send them to be trained, and unless you are going to spend a great deal of money you must send them to be trained at the same training colleges that exist for the Air Force. These officers will go there, and if they are going to do any good in the air they will become tremendously keen about it. They will get into the atmosphere of enthusiasm and zeal for everything that has to do with air enterprise, because that prevails most strongly at all these places of education.

    They will come back to the Navy after their period of training, which period, if they are to be efficient airmen, cannot be limited to a few months. If they are to be efficient airmen the training must extend over years rather than months. After their period of training they will return to the Navy, zealously devoted to the air, and they will undertake their aerial duties in the Navy. They will find at once, I venture to prophesy, that there is a great lapse of sympathy between them and their naval coadjutors and commanders. They will find that they are at cross purposes at every turn. If they go on being enthusiastic they will become discouraged. Their attitude and feeling will react upon their superiors and comrades, and you will find that the air arm in the Navy will be looked down upon in the Navy. The Navy will dislike them, and the old joke about the Royal Naval Air Service will begin to apply again. The title R.N.A.S. was said to stand for the words, "Really not a sailor." Much the same feeling will grow up again. Accordingly, the naval arm will be recruited partly by these discouraged enthusiasts, partly also by the failures of the Navy, who will be pushed into the air arm because it will be thought that they will do less harm there than anywhere else.

    You will have a small body without the strong professional atmosphere of the Royal Air Force, partly composed of disappointed, disgruntled enthusiasts, and partly composed of disheartened failures. The air arm will be unsatisfactory and inefficient.. It will not have the necessary keenness. Unless they have the keen enthusiasm there will not be the courage amongst the officers of the air arm in doing the work that is required. The main dominating function of this air arm co-operation with the Navy is aerial and not naval. They will have duties of reconnaissance, but that is a thing far more easily learned by an airman than all the work of flying and fighting in the air can ever be learned by a naval officer. You may see a battleship or a cruiser in the distance and identify it, or you may spot artillery fire and so forth, but these things do not govern the whole professional outlook as do the tasks of aviation and all its interests which dominate the mind of the ordinary air officer.

    The truth is, that all these theories overlook one of the great factors of human nature, and that is professional outlook. We see professional outlook everywhere. It is a very odd thing, but one can always tell the difference between, say, doctors and lawyers just as we can tell the difference between both of them and clergymen. Although doctors and lawyers and clergymen are so like in their ordinary life, it is rather remarkable that by reason of their professional occupation they should become so different. You can almost tell the lawyer's face, stamped with lines, partly of cruelty and partly of patience, born of the long experience of inflicting humiliation upon witnesses and of enduring humiliation from Judges. Clergymen are notorious. One is always hearing complaints; and some clergy try to avoid, with very little success, what is called the "parsonic manner." The profession that a man follows enters deeply into his nature. The Air is really a profession. It exercises that sort of control over the minds of the people who engage upon it that makes it a true profession, and it is no more absurd to suggest that you can set soldiers to do the work of naval officers or the work of sailors in connection with the Fleet than it is to suggest that you can get naval officers to do the work of the Air. The airmen is as different, in fact more different, from either the sailor or the soldier as the sailor and the soldier are different from one another.

    I hope that the Committee will reject any scheme by which the professional unit of the Air Force is broken. We want the airmen in the Navy to be first-class airmen, not makeshift airmen—first-class airmen, saturated with the professional spirit and the professional skill that belongs to their profession. Therefore I cannot quite echo the suggestion that a very hurried decision should be taken. The First Lord of the Admiralty, in a very interesting speech yesterday and in a few observations today, seemed to attach great importance to a rapid decision. I cannot help thinking that there is a certain danger if you try to hurry over questions of this kind. In time of war, rapidity of decision is all important. During the War, everything had to he done hurriedly, and everything had to be rapidly decided, ft is not. so in time of peace. It is far better to come to a wise decision slowly than to come to a foolish decision hastily. I am afraid that unless the Committee go slowly to work and see the whole subject in all its bearings, and study the various reactions which will take place as a consequence of the breaking up of the unity of the Air Force, and all the ancillary difficulties as to how you are going to deal with supply, with training, with the problem of reserve—all these questions which will come up directly you begin to consider this problem; and they bear upon the problem of whether we shall have a naval aerial arm instead of the co-operation of the three Services in one great task—I am afraid that an erroneous decision may easily be come to.

    The problems of civil aviation are pressing. I echo the view that civil aviation is of the highest importance. The truth is that in this country we are at a disadvantage compared with other countries. In this country we are pursuing far more zealously than any other country in the world the policy of economy, and very wisely so, but, in the second place, this island of ours is by no means a very favourable place for aviation, compared with the United States or even France, where they have great expanses of country and vast opportunities for providing large aerodromes and all the surrounding topography which makes aviation so easy in America. We have not the conditions that enable aviation to be easily and simply pursued in this country. These two things, the lack of money and the lack of proper territory for the purposes of aviation, necessarily make civil aviation rather more difficult for us than for any other country. If we, on the top of these disadvantages, insist that our civil aviation is to have the ultimate prospect of becoming economically self-supporting, it is not surprising that the matter goes slowly. I would gladly see civil aviation developed, and I hope my right hon. Friend's interesting and ingenious plan will bear fruition.

    In the meantime, I think he will agree that the great task of the Air Ministry is the task of research. I have spoken of the problem of offence and defence. I h ape that. the problem which was very seriously considered during the War, but which has fallen out of sight now, as to whether there are no means of defence against aeroplanes will be more sympathetically and thoroughly considered. We are told that we cannot protect London against being bombed by any means whatever, and that our best chance of protecting it is by threatening to bomb the capital of any country that assails us. This is a problem which we must consider. Therefore, on this and the other grounds I have mentioned, it is important that during the period of transition research should be proceeded with thoroughly. It is most important that the Air Ministry should avail itself of all the scientific knowledge that is at its disposal, and that it should promote invention by all the means in its power, so that the Air Force may become more and more efficient. I hope, also, that the problems of co-ordination and co-operation will become clearer, that the frontier between the Navy and the Air Force will be more easily drawn, that we shall maintain the homogeneity of an independent Air Force, and that we shall come to recognise that there is no advantage in discussing, as it has been discussed seven or eight times already, whether we are to have an independent Air Force, but that we shall leave the Air Force to pursue its useful task, certain that as in other matters, so in this, the sportsmanship, the natural skill and the natural enterprise, and the deep scientific interest which belong to England will make our Air Force worthy of the King and of the country.

    I wish to pay my tribute to the Secretary of State for Air, not only for the speech which he has made to-day, but also for the whole-hearted interest which he has devoted to a subject of which ho had little knowledge before. But I do want to draw attention to the fact which has not been remedied since last year. That is, the Secretary of State for Air is still not a member of the Cabinet. People speak in favour of a Ministry of Defence, but the first step towards the maintenance of defence is to put the three Services on an equal footing, and every argument—and there must be many arguments—that goes on in the Cabinet to-day, is without a representative of the Air; and if we have that Ministry of Defence or that correlation of the three Services it is essential that the Secretary of State for Air should be in the Cabinet, and I am gratified to see the Prime Minister here, because otherwise that message might be difficult to convey. As the Prime Minister is here I draw his attention to the fact that Signor Mussolini, Prime Minister of Italy, considers the Air so important that he has taken over this job in that country.

    I find it a little difficult to speak at this particular time, because we are speaking of three separate things. The Air Vote, the Amendment, and the Navy. I will deal first with the Amendment. I agree thoroughly with it, though it is obscure as drafted. It seems to me that you can say anything on it, and the Proposer and the Seconder contradicted themselves the whole way through. This Resolution would have been put down better on another Service, because it has always been the ambition of the Air Ministry to do exactly what has been suggested—that is, to put the distribution of funds for national defence on a basis of what you can get for your money, and it has been recognised as a basic factor that this money for defence has got to be looked on in relation to what you are going to get for it, and that the sooner we do that the sooner we are going to get economy. On the Air Vote the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) has put forward the attractive theory that if you cannot beat your enemy it is best not to waste money on half-measures, but one patent fact not satisfactorily explained by the right hon. Gentleman is the position in which we stand to-day relatively to a foreign Power I am sure that defensive power in the air, even to-day, must affect a foreign policy, because you cannot have anybody with a big stick and be able to answer him back, as you would, unless you had a bigger stick than he had.

    In the case of the Air Force, it has been pointed out that an army fights an army and a battleship fights a battleship, and though to a certain degree a similar thing is true as regards aeroplanes, yet the basic use of air power is to destroy things of military value belonging to the enemy either on the land or sea. The reply to that is exceedingly difficult. It is not anti-aircraft guns. These are rather noisy things, but nothing else. There is the reply of building as many machines as your enemy and having the power to hit back Consequently, we come to this, that every effort must be devoted to some defence against aircraft. We have not explored many things that are possible. For instance, we have not explored the possibilities of the manless aeroplane, which you can direct by wireless, and which is not so very far off. There are many questions which can be gone into, from the point of view of re- search, and the sooner we find them the better, because otherwise we are met with the eternal business of building armament against armament, which we all consider so lamentable.

    We had to-day also from the Secretary of State an interesting statement with regard to his opinion on civil flying. I thought it a pity that the hon. Member for Hallam (Sir F. Sykes) did not elaborate on that a little more. His speech gave me enormous pleasure, because, after all, the hon. Member not only was responsible in large part for the wonderful organisation of the Royal Flying Corps at the beginning of the War, but also for the foundation of civil aviation in this country, and every word which he says on this matter must be considered with great respect. The Proposer of the Resolution gave it as an accepted fact that a civil machine can be turned into a military machine in a minute. I do not claim to be an expert on these things, but I am told, on the best advice, that that is not so, and that the only advantage in keeping a big civil aviation going is that it gives you the manufacturers all ready to build with the necessary despatch when wanted. The proposal now put forward as a recommendation by the Hamblin Committee is one which was gone into very closely nearly three years ago, when I thinks that private money could have been got with great ease. It seems a pity that we did not go along those lines three years ago, when we might have something to show now rather than failure. The then Secretary of State for War and Air (Mr. Winston Churchill) was at the time in Egypt; had he been in England I believe that we should have passed that proposal and had a very different state of civil aviation to-day.

    I now come to the last category in which one has to approach this Debate. That is the question of co-operation or not of the Air Force and the Navy. First, let me say that I have no quarrel with the Navy. If I have any quarrel, it is with the Admiralty, and as somebody has said in this Debate, if you say anything against the Admiralty it is lèse-Majesté. I am prepared to go to the Clock Tower for what I may say about the Admiralty. You cannot help admiring them. They are a very wonderful organisation. What they want they generally get. They have an, amazing propaganda. I do not know how it is done. It is not shown on the Votes. Sometimes it comes under the head of what is called "hard lying money," but we know that last week, when these Estimates were coming up, all the Press was flooded with their side of the question with regard to co-operation. Then we have Admiralty champions is with us. We admire the Noble reactionary Lord (Viscount Curzon), who asks questions every day about the Admiralty. This question of whether the Navy is going to have its own Air Force or not is becoming a hardy annual. We have it year after year. There have been inquiries by experts, and the thing has been decided. Personally, I have such faith in the answer that I do not mind whether there is an inquiry once a week for the next ten years. The result will always be the same. But what I ask of the Prime Minister is, when we. have this reply will it finish this whole matter? We are all getting sick of it, and we want an assurance that after this inquiry we shall have a little peace to get on with the job.

    The grievance which our naval Friend brings forward is a little obscure. Our naval work is the best in the world, and we have better flyers than anybody else, and a better type of machine, but I want to draw his attention to the fact that the Washington Conference only allows you to have four aeroplane carriers and the Air Ministry have given the Navy more machines than they can put into service. I cannot understand what they are complaining about. They complain sometimes about discipline, that is, airmen on board ships have got, to do what the captain tells them, even if it is to scrub the ship. The whole reason is a purely sentimental one, and I thought that it was dealt with efficiently by the Noble Lord. We feel that years ago the Navy did not realise the power and the future which the air had in store, and they now seem to realise it too much. Even sailors themselves advance the theory that in 30 or 40 years ships will be unnecessary, and they draw this curious conclusion, that because ships will not be necessary that is a reason for doing away with the Air Force, though the logical conclusion would be that that would be a reason for doing away with the Navy. We have this curious propaganda, which seems to be spreading through the country, as to lifting the Navy into the air. For instance, we have this in the "Morning Post," which is particularly bad about it:
    "If the Fleet has to be gradually lifted out of the sea into the air those best suited to conduct this policy are those who have made a study of and have lived upon the sea."
    8.0 P.M.

    I would point out that there is a Navy of the Air. That is the Air Force, and that is what it ought to remain. The Admiralty is after the whole hog. They are out to get the whole of the Air Force to themselves. In the course of the Debate on last year's Estimates, the First Lord of the Admiralty said:
    "We have to consider the importance of the Air Force not only from the point of view of the defence of these islands against air attacks, but as an integral part of the naval defences of the country."
    Then I asked:
    "Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say, that the Navy should he charged with the defence of the country against air attack? "
    The First Lord then said:
    "I did not say that "—
    what he had just said two lines above. That is what we are afraid of, that this agitation to get control of the Air Force is the thin end of the wedge, and we know the immense power of the Admiralty, the biggest bureaucracy in the world. When they get their feet in, they wilt do the same as when they were in partnership with the Royal Air Force. They will duplicate the training stations, they will have separate contract. departments, and. the two departments will be pitted against each other and have to pay enormous prices. I ask the House for-the protection of a small and new force against the older force. Surely, if an organisation were found bad in the War and another one was found good, when peace comes that is no reason for changing it.

    After the speech to which we have just listened I think it would be a good thing if we could have the Navy case put forward in as short a time as possible. The speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Chatham (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon) was the kind of speech we are accustomed to hear from the perfervid advocates of the air who can think of no other consideration. You will never got co-operation between the Services so long as you have people animated by that mentality putting forward these views. The point of view, as I understand it, is this. The Navy itself requires an Air Service for purely naval purposes and nothing else. Nothing is more absurd than for the advocates of the air to come to this House and try to make out that this is a deep-rooted plot to uproot the Air Ministry and destroy the Air Service. It is my view and the view of many on the naval side that so far from doing away with it we definitely recognise the Air Service as an essential part of our national scheme of defence. What the Navy requires is an Ail: Service of its own with entire control and responsibility for it. It does not in any way wish to control air operations operating from the land over the sea.

    Nor in the future. What we want is complete control and responsibility for the Naval Air Service. The hon. and gallant Member suggested that the Admiralty wanted to set up separate training centres and everything else on its own. Nothing is further from the mind of the Admiralty.

    They did it before, and those who say so go back to the earlier stages of the War. That is one of the favourite tricks of the air people. The Navy want to organise the training of its Air Service as far as possible through the Air Ministry. If it gets its own air arm it wants to organise supplies through the Air Ministry, and it does not want to enter into competition with them. it wants to avoid overlapping and competition. The hon. and gallant Member said something about military propaganda. I wonder if he has looked at page 37 of these Estimates, where he will find an item for "Advertisements in newspapers, £1,000." I came across one of these advertisements in yesterday's "Daily Chronicle."

    Division No. 42.]


    [8.10 p.m.

    Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteBaird, Rt. Hon. Sir John LawrenceBirchall, Major J. Dearman
    Ainsworth, Captain CharlesBalfour, George (Hampstead)Blades. Sir George Rowland
    Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir MontagueBlundell, F. N.
    Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Barnett, Major Richard W.Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.
    Apsley, LordBarnston, Major HarryBoyd-Carpenter. Major A.
    Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel MartinBecker, HarryBrass, Captain W.
    Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.Bel lairs, Commander Carlyon W.Brassey, Sir Leonard
    Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.Betterton, Henry B.Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive

    The headings were "Hands off the Air Ministry," "New Campaign against Air Service," "Aerial Warfare the Airman's Job." The advertisement reads: "They see their power waning, there is the rub." You can judge of the rest of the article by the headings and by that sort of sentence. What, the Admiralty wants is fair consideration for the case they will put forward. I urge upon the Prime Minister that this question has been under the consideration of the Committee of Imperial Defence for over a year now, and no decision has yet been arrived at. Another Committee, we are told, is to bet set up, and we learn that it is merely an extension of the Committee of Imperial Defence. I hope that is not merely a, device to delay everying. I hope the Committee will go into the matter without undue delay, and that when it comes to a decision it will do so with full knowledge of the Navy's case and without. prejudice against the Navy or the Air Service. Nothing I deplore more than the fact that a great many Members and a great many people in the country think that the Navy is antagonistic to the Air Service. It is not at all. The Navy looks on the Air Service as absolutely vital to it. Without it the Navy is completely blind when it goes into action against a Navy that has an Air Service. If a Navy not equipped with an Air Service tried to go into action against a Navy with an Air Service it would not have one chance. It is because of what is taking place across the Atlantic and elsewhere in connection with the use of aircraft with the Navy that. the Admiralty is so uneasy. It is no use having a one-power standard unless you give the Navy the Air Service it requires. At all costs we must represent the Navy case and see it gets fair consideration.

    Question put, "That the words proposed to he left out stand part of the Question."

    The House divided: Ayes, 235; Noes, 147.

    Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)Harvey, Major S. E.Pilditch, Sir Philip
    Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)Hawke, John AnthonyPownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton
    Bruford, R.Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.
    Bruton, Sir JamesHennessy, Major J. R. G.Privett, F. J.
    Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.Hewett, Sir J. P.Rae, Sir Henry N.
    Burn, Colonel Sir Charles RosdewHilder, Lieut-Colonel FrankRaine, W.
    Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge)Hiley, Sir ErnestRankin, Captain James Stuart
    Butcher, Sir John GeorgeHoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel
    Butt, Sir AlfredHogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C.
    Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.Hohler, Gerald FitzroyReid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)
    Cassels, J. D.Holbrook, Sir Arthur RichardRemer, J, R.
    Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)Hood, Sir JosephRemnant, Sir James
    Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)Hopkins John W. W.Rentoul, G. S.
    Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonHopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Reynolds, W. G. W.
    Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)Houfton, John PlowrightRichardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)
    Chapman, Sir S.Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir p. (Chertsey)
    Chilcott, Sir WardenHoward-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)
    Churchman, Sir ArthurHume, G. H.Robertson, J. D. (Islington, W.)
    Clarry, Reginald GeorgeHume-Williams, Sir W. EllisRobinson, Sir T (Lancs., Stretford)
    Clayton, G. C.Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir AylmerRoundell, Colonel R. F.
    Cobb, Sir CyrilHurd, Percy A.Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
    Cohen, Major J. BrunelHurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.Russell, William (Bolton)
    Colfox, Major Wm. PhillipsHutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
    Colvin, Brig.-General Richard BealeHutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
    Cope, Major WilliamInskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.
    Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.Sanderson, Sir Frank B.
    Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)Sandon, Lord
    Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir HenryJodrell, Sir Neville PaulShakespeare, G. H.
    Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
    Crooke, J. S. (Derltend)Kennedy, Captain M. S. NigelShepperson, E. W.
    Curzon, Captain ViscountKing, Captain Henry DouglasShipwright, Captain D.
    Davidson, Major-General Sir .J. H.Lamb, J. Q.Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
    Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.Simpson- Hinchliffe, W. A.
    Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)Singleton, J. E.
    Dixon, C. H. (Rutland)Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)Skelton, A. N.
    Doyle, N. GrattanLort-Williams, J.Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)
    Du Pre, Colonel William BaringLougher, L.Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
    Edge, Captain Sir WilliamLoyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)
    Edmondson, Major A. J,Macnaghten, Hon. Sir MalcolmSpender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.
    Ednam, ViscountMcNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)Stanley, Lord
    Ellis, R. G.Maddocks, HenrySteel, Major S. Strang
    Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)Stewart, Gershorm (Wirral)
    Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.Stockton, Sir Edwin Forsyth
    Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E.)Mercer, Colonel H.Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.
    Evans, Ernest (Cardigan)Milne, J. S. WardlawStuart, Lord C. Crichton-
    Falle, Major Sir Bertram GodfrayMitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
    Fermor-Hesketh, Major T.Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.
    Flanagan, W. H.Molloy, Major L. G. S.Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
    Forestier-Walker, L.Molson, Major John ElsdaleTerrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)
    Foxcroft, Captain Charles TalbotMoore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
    Fraser, Major Sir KeithMorden, Col, W. GrantThorpe, Captain John Henry
    Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Morris, HaroldTitchfield, Marquess of
    Furness, G. J.Murchison, C. K.Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
    Galbraith, J. F. W.Nail, Major JosephTubbs, S. W.
    Ganzoni, Sir JohnNesbitt, Robert C.Turton Edmund Russborough
    Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.Newman, sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Wallace, Captain E.
    Goff, Sir R. ParkNewson, Sir Percy WilsonWard, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)
    Gould, James C.Newton, Sir D, G. C. (Cambridge)Wells, S. R.
    Gray, Harold (Cambridge)Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.
    Greaves Lord, WalterNicholson, William G. (Petersfield)White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)
    Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)Nield, Sir HerbertWhitia, Sir William
    Greenwood, William (Stockport)Oman, Sir Charles William C.Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)
    Gretton, Colonel JohnOrmsby-Gore, Hon. WilliamWinterton, Earl
    Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas HenryWise, Frederick
    Gwynne, Rupert S.Pease, William EdwinWolmer, Viscount
    Hacking, Captain Douglas H.Pennefather, De FonblanqueWood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripon)
    Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Penny, Frederick GeorgeYate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward
    Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'l,W.D-by)Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)Yerburgh, R. D. T.
    Halstead, Major D.Perkins, Colonel E. K.
    Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham)Perring, William GeorgeTELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
    Hannon, Patrick Joseph HenryPhilipson, H. H. Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel


    Adams, D.Broad, F. A.Cairns, John
    Adamson, Rt. Hon. WilliamBromfield, WilliamCape, Thomas
    Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')Brotherton, J.Charleton, H. C.
    Attlee, C. R.Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Clarke, Sir E. C.
    Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Buchanan, G.Collins, Pat (Walsall)
    Barnes, A.Buckle, J.Collison, Levi
    Batey, JosephBurgess, S.Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)
    Berkeley, Captain ReginaldBurnie, Major J. (Bootle)Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)
    Bonwick, A.Buxton, Charles (Accrington)Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)
    Bowdler, W. A.Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)Dudgeon, Major C. R.

    Duffy, T. GavanLansbury, GeorgeShinwell, Emanuel
    Duncan, C.Lawson, John JamesShort, Alfred (Wednesbury)
    Dunnico, H.Leach, W.Simpson, J. Hope
    Ede, James ChuterLee, F.Sitch, Charles H.
    Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)Smith, T. (Pontefract)
    Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N)Linfield, F. C.Snell, Harry
    Entwistle, Major C. F.Lowth. T.Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)
    Falconer, JLunn, WilliamSpencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)
    Foot, IsaacMacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)Stephen, Campbell
    Gosling, HarryM'Entee, V. L.Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
    Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)McLaren, AndrewSullivan, J.
    Gray, Frank (Oxford)Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
    Greenall, T.March, S.Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
    Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)Marshall, Sir Arthur H.Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
    Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Maxton, JamesThorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
    Groves, T.Middleton, G.Thornton, M.
    Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Millar, J. D.Tout, W. J.
    Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)Muir, John W.Wallhead, Richard C.
    Hardie, George D.Murnin, H.Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster. Ince)
    Harney, E. A.Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western)Warne, G. H.
    Harris, Percy A.Nichol, RobertWatson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
    Hartshorn, VernonO'Grady, Captain JamesWatts-Morgan. Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
    Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)Oliver, George HaroldWebb, Sidney
    Hayday, ArthurPaling, W.Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C
    Henderson, T. (Glasgow)Parker, H. (Hanley)Welsh, J. C
    Herriotts, J.Parkinson, John Ailen (Wigan)Weslwood, J.
    Hill, A.Phillipps, VivianWheatley. J.
    Hirst, G. H.Ponsonby, ArthurWhite. H. G. (Birkenhead E)
    Hodge, Rt. Hon. JohnPotts, John S.Whiteley, W.
    Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)Pringle, W. M. R.Wiqnall, James
    Irving, DanRichardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Williams, David (Swansea, E.)
    Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Riley, BenWilliams, T. (York, Don Valley)
    John. William (Rhondda, West)Ritson, J.Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
    Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)Roberts, C. H. (Derby)Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
    Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
    Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)Wright, W.
    Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
    Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)Rose, Frank H.
    Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)Saklatvala, S.TELLERS FOR THE NOES —
    Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.Sexton, JamesMr. Arthur Henderson and Mr. T.
    Kirkwood, D.Shaw, Thomas (Preston)Griffiths.

    Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.

    Supply Considered in Committee.

    [Mr. JAMES Hoes in the Chair.]

    Motion made, and Question proposed,

    Number Of Air Force

    " That a number of Air Forces, not exceeding 33,000, all ranks, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain lull Ireland at home and abroad, exclusive of those serving in India. during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1924."

    It being after a quarter-past-Eight of the Clock, further Proceeding was postponed without Question, put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 4.

    Accidents In Mines

    I beg to move,

    "That this House deplores the heavy loss of life and the large number of non-fatal accidents in mines, and is of opinion that legislation to improve and strengthen the provisions of the Coal Mines Act, 1911, should be introduced and carried into law without delay in order to secure the fullest protection possible to those engaged in this dangerous industry.''
    This is one of the most important subjects that can be brought before the House, a subject imbued with tragedy more awful than was ever depicted by the greatest genius. The deaths and accidents occurring daily, yea hourly, in our mines are among the great horrors of our industrial civilisation. The accidents that occurred in the year 1922 were responsible for 1,029 deaths. The figures of serious accidents, causing incapacity for snore than seven days, are not, yet published. For the five years ended 31st December, 1914, the average number killed per year was 1,495 persons. The average number injured per year and incapacitated for more than seven days, was no less than 164,150 persons. For the four years ended 31st December, 1921, the average was 1,125 persons killed per year, and 107,969 disabled for more than seven days. For the 10 years ended 1921, the total number killed in the industry in the United Kingdom was 12,897. The serious accidents figures are not available, but, certainly, they were over a million.

    I want to refer to the accident's that took place last year, and to show what kind of accidents they were. I have not got the complete list, but I and my colleagues are very much indebted to the Secretary for Mines for the great mass of information which he has supplied to us during the last few weeks. From falls of roof and sides in 1922 there were 548 killed. The number given as cases of serious injury was 1,911. From explosions of fire damp or coal dust there were 73 killed and 123 seriously injured. By explosives, including accidents due to shot firing, there were 17 killed and 297 seriously injured. Haulage accidents below ground were 212 killed and 1,127 seriously injured. Shaft accidents were responsible for 40 persons killed, and there were 97 cases of serious injury.

    The purpose of this Debate is to draw the attention of the Minister and of the Home to these terrible accidents, and to suggest some improvement in the Mines Act whereby this terrible death-rate can be reduced. The first suggestion I have to make is that there should be a shaft sunk if the working face exceeds one mile from the shaft. Some working faces, to my own personal knowledge, are no less than three miles from the pit bottom, and there is nothing in the Mines Act which places any limit to the distance that these underground workings can go from the shaft bottom. There is a Section in the Act which prevents two shafts being less than fifteen yards apart, but there is nothing in the Act to prevent them being fifteen miles apart. If these shafts were only a mile from the working place, it would, to start with, reduce haulage costs which represent a very serious factor in mining. I have already shown that haulage accidents are very numerous and it would also reduce the number of these accidents besides improving the ventilation of the colliery, improving the health of the miner, reducing the risk of explosion and reducing the quantity of coal dust on roadways. These are incontrovertible facts and in view of the fact that the mining industry has been, until recently, one of the wealthiest industries of the country—an industry which has yielded the whole of its capital Lack to the colliery owners every ten years—it is a grave reflection upon the colliery owners that they have not sunk more shafts in this country so that We might have the benefits I have already enumerated. Accidents arising from falls of roofs and sides are the most numerous. I think the number which I have already given, is no less than 548 for last year, which is over 50 per cent. of the entire total of fatal accidents below ground. Nothing in my opinion is more deserving of the attention of the Mines Department than the reduction of the number of accidents from falls of roof and sides. In the "Colliery Guardian" for this week—9th March—the editor writes:
    "From a statistical standpoint the death-rate from falls of roof and sides in coal mining is truly appalling."
    He goes on to say, and this is very note-worthy:
    "There was a marked decrease in the accident rate following the passing of the 1887 Act, but from 1892 there has been no perceptible improvement."
    That refers to accidents from falls of roof and sides and it is the testimony of the "Colliery Guardian" which is the colliery owners' paper. I do not know that they own it, but it always takes up their side of the question and I think therefore that is remarkable testimony. The prevention of these falls of roof and side is the most important subject that can occupy-the minds of mining engineers. I find on going through some of the records of this House that the question has been discussed here many times. I find that when, Mr. McKenna was Home Secretary he was asked what steps were being taken to stow vacant places at the mines by hydraulic pressure, but nothing has been done in that respect, although it. is several years ago since the question was raised. Stowing is the best wad- of reducing the number of these accidents and in saying that I am supported by the highest authorities. The best way of reducing these accidents is to stow the vacant places with rubbish instead of bringing it tip the pit to defile the surface. This would reduce the spaces for accumulations of gas, promote safer conditions and largely prevent "weight" or "squeeze" and would reduce the number of falls of roof especially in seams lying close together. It would also prevent subsidences and the destruction of very valuable and vital public and private property on the surface. As I say, I am supported in this view by the highest authorities, and I should like to quote from a very eminent mines inspector who was inspecting the North Stafford Collieries at the time when I worked there. I am referring to Mr. Arthur Robert Sawyer. He wrote a book on "Accidents in Mines"—one of the finest hooks in my opinion ever written on the subject, containing more than 100 diagrams of places he had personally visited after these fatal accidents. Like everyone else in that profession, he urges that something should be done to reduce the terrible death rate from falls of roof and sides. He writes:
    "The roof has generally to be supported, not only to ensure the safety of the workmen, but also to enable them to pursue their work at all. That is done in a variety of ways."
    He gives first place to "packing the gob entirely," and says, "Where this is done the. subsidence is gradual," that is, it has very little ill effects because the superincumbent strata come down very gradually on to the gob. Where stowing is not. done, he says:
    "Men have to resort to precipitate flight owing to the sudden total or partial crashing of the gob…Packs should be regularly formed and kept to the face systematically…The enforcement of such rules would indicate to the workmen the best and most approved manner of keeping themselves safe."
    We have another mining authority, Mr. Daniel Burns, mining engineer and professor of mining in the Royal Technical College, Glasgow. He says that
    "Heavy falls of roof in old workings, set free large quantities of gas from the overlying strata which may prove a source of danger to the miner."
    That view he publishes in his work called "Safety in Coal Mines." Haulage accidents below ground were last year responsible for 212 deaths and 1,127 cases of serious injury. Shorter distances between the shafts would, as I have said, reduce these accidents. Many of them are due to faulty couplings causing trams to run away, yet there are plenty of shackles and couplings invented to make uncoupling impossible, but they are not used. Safety is always made subordinate to the output and the cost We, as miners, know that many inventions have been made to reduce the number of accidents arising from haulage.

    I should like at this point to put in a plea for the overworked pit pony. One of the most. pitiable subjects that we could deal with is the condition of the underground animals. There is nothing in the Mines Act that specifies how many hours they shall work. There is some general phraseology that they shall not be overworked, but that can be stretched very liberally by any colliery manager who wants to escape a prosecution. What we say is that there should be definite hours of labour for the horse the same as there is for the man, and that he should be regularly fed, and not be overloaded. These animals very often pull very heavy trams of coal down long inclines, and they are so weak that they are not able to resist the pressure of the load, which very often run away with them down these hills, and accidents ensue. I commend to the Minister the necessity of revising the Regulations at once with reference to the treatment of these dumb animals underground. It is absolutely horrifying to think of these poor brutes working down the pit sometimes three and four shifts without any rest, especially during the week-end, and I hope that, this will have. the attention of the Minister.

    I recommend to the Minister that he should give the greatest possible encouragement to those who are inventing appliances for reducing accidents in mines. Amongst the miners there are a large number of men with inventive genius, and they have come to our conferences over and over again and brought their appliances, at great cost and trouble to themselves, on purpose to exhibit them before the conference, hut, strange to say, very seldom are these appliances adopted by colliery owners, who find some reason or another for not adopting them, and I say that these men should have every encouragement—men who invent safety shackles, shot firing appliances, and many kinds of patents for reducing accidents.

    I want to say a word or two here on the question of shot firing, because I contend that there is an appliance on the market to-day that should be adopted. I am not. going to name it.. and it has not been named in the Government. Reports, but I daresay the Minister knows very well the appliance to which I refer. I contend—and I have very strong evidence to support. me, as I shall show before I have finished—that this appliance would practically wipe out these terrible accidents. From 1919 to 1922 there were no fewer than 61 men killed and 645 injured by shot firing. The secretary for Mines, in answer to a question put to him by the hon. Member for West Rhondda (Mr. W. John), deprecated the introduction of a certain appliance, and said that it is liable to get out of order, that it delays and hinders the operation of shot firing, and that the vast majority of shot firing accidents would not be prevented by the use of appliances of this kind. I have got overwhelming evidence here—and I shall furnish it to the Minister after this Debate is over—from managers and mining engineers at some of the largest and most dangerous collieries in the country that are using this appliance, and I will enumerate some of these colliery companies. There is the Markham Colliery Company, the Dinas Colliery Company, the Pwllbach Colliery Company, the Taibach Colliery Company, the Llynypra Colliery Company, the Ely Colliery Company. and the Glamorgan Coal Company, and there are many others besides, but the very highest testimony is given by the managers of these collieries as to the efficacy of this appliance in preventing accidents.

    Another method that I would recommend for the reduction of accidents is to improve the lighting. I find that the Miner's Lamp Committee has just issued its Report, which is signed by Mr. T. Greenland Davies, His Majesty's Inspector of Mines, Sir W. Walker, Mr. Hubert .Jonkins, of South Wales, Mr. S. Rocbuck, of Yorkshire, and others. This Committee recommend that General Regulation 5 should be amended to establish beyond doubt that the examination which it requires includes an examination of working places for inflammable and noxious gases in all cases in which a workman is provided with a flame safety lamp, and that a sufficient number of flame safety lamps should be used by competent workmen to examine their working places at reasonable intervals during the shift. I hope the Minister will rote that his own inspectors recommend an amendment of the Act, and that is what we are asking for to-night. We are supported on a very important point by his own Department.

    Does the hon. Member mean the Regulation, or the Act?

    General Regulation 5. This question of lighting is a very serious question indeed. To the minors it is all- important. It enables them to detect slips and slants in the roof and to protect themselves very largely from falls of roof and sides, and by giving them a better light it would wipe out what is known as miner's nystagmus, which is one of the most terrible complaints that the miner suffers from, and which is almost entirely due to bad lighting. I find that last year certificates were given to 1,986 victims of this complaint and that 4,804 were brought over from previous years, showing that no fewer than 6,790 miners to-day are suffering from this terrible disease. This entails an enormous cost, if it is only in compensation, and say that on grounds of economy, as well as on grounds of humanity, it would pay the companies to improve the lighting of the collieries.

    Another system that could be recommended for reducing accidents is to have a more efficient method of inspection. The present system of inspection is very unsatisfactory. I do not attach any blame to the inspectors, because their number is inadequate; that is not their fault. I find in one of the reports by an inspector, I think, from Yorkshire, that in the. year 1919 there were only a dozen inspectors for 461 coal mines. I wish to make this observation with reference to this matter of the inspection that after inspectors visit the mines, the reports are withheld: there is a great deal of complaint from that cause. When an inspector visits a mine he generally inspects part of a colliery by taking a district underground. He goes away, writes his report, I presume, and that report is a sealed document. It is put into the archives of the Ministry of Mines, and no one knows anything further about it. We contend that these reports should be published, sent to the miners, and also given to the coal-owners so that the benefit of the inspection can be realised by those responsible.

    Again, we say that the firemen's duties should be confined to looking solely after safety. The fireman should not be held responsible for cost and output. His duties should be entirely restricted to looking after the safety of the men under him. He should have a district or area that he could keep under constant supervision. The districts, to my certain knowledge, are very much too large at present, and the examiner is not properly able to supervise, his district. I am going to suggest something that I am certain will not meet with the approbation of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I am going to suggest that these men should be appointed by the workmen, who place themselves in their hands. It is one of the saddest commentaries upon our present system that those who are interested in the cheap production of coal are those who have the sole right to appoint these men to look after the safety and the lives of those under them. In any proper system of mining these men would have sole and absolute control over the men who were responsible for their lives. If this cannot be done I respectfully submit that the colliery examiners should be taken from under the control and authority of the coal-owners and the official should be appointed by the State. He would not then have any intimidation: his life would not depend upon the truthfulness or the untruthfulness of his reports.

    In respect to the workmen's inspectors I want to say this monthly interval ought to be taken out of the Act. These men representing the workmen should have the right to inspect the mines any time they choose, and not be debarred by a time limit as now. If such a system of inspection were adopted it would very materially reduce accidents. I want to say a few words about the Department. I find the cost of the Mines Department is by Statute limited to £250,000 per year that is less than a farthing per ton. In 1922 this 2250,000 was reduced to £170,284, and in the Estimate for the present financial year it is further reduced to £95,284 or less than one-eighth of a penny per ton. If there is such a thing as criminal economy it is here. With a death roll and an accident roll like we have there can be no pretext whatever for economising in the Mines Department. I should not like to have it on my conscience, if I were the Minister of Mines, that by having first one official and then another sent away there might as a result be widows and orphans. It .is no use saying that efficiency is not impaired by reducing the expenditure. We cannot at ail accept that. We cannot see that the Geddes axe or any other axe is justified in cutting down the expenditure of this Department which is responsible for the lives of 1,100,000 men.

    In 1922 there was approximately 3,300, mines at work, and there were only 86 inspectors. This was one to every 38 mines, which was entirely inadequate. Again, with reference to another part of the Department of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, I refer to what is known as the Safety in Mines Research Board. This Board consists of 10 very eminent and highly-qualified specialists, w ho are appointed to direct the general work of the Mines Research Department, which inquires into cases of dangerous mines with a view to preventing such danger. So far as I know, we have very little result from this Department. I should like to ask the Minister, in his reply, to say what it has done, what it is doing now, and what that branch says about preventing accidents from falls of the roof, haulage, shot-firing, explosions, and a very terrible disease known as miner's nystagmus? Is this Department really functioning or is it being strangled on the ground of economy" If this Department is working, we should like to have some results, and we should like the miners to be convinced. and the Miners' Federation of Great Britain. that the appliances which I have enumerated are either efficient or not efficient for reducing the accident roll in mines. One can easily visualise plenty of work for this Research Department and there can be no nobler work for any body of men to be engaged in.

    In conclusion, let me say that the legislation passed by this House from 1872 onwards has made the mines much safer than before. As an industry we are very grateful for the legislation passed by this House of Commons at the urgent request of our predecessors, the effect of which has been to reduce the death and accident roll in mines. I find that the average number of deaths per thousand for the 10 years 1873–1882 was 2·24, while in 1919 it went down to 94 per thousand, or less than one-half. These are very gratifying figures, and it shows that a reduction of accidents inevitably follows preventive legislation. I say there can be no justification for not getting the benefits which are continually accruing from science when applied to the mining industry. and we ought to have these benefits at the earliest possible moment. We have, to-day, in spite of all the improvements. a death roll of over 1,000 men per annum and over 100,000 maimed and mangled and mutilated in mines. Therefore we want this Act of Parliament drastically amended. We say, further, that the Government can have no adequate reason or justification for refusing to legislate on this question. The death roll is terribly appalling, and I hope as a result of this humble effort that we shall have still further reductions in the death roll.

    9.0 P.M.

    I rise to second the Resolution which has just been moved by the hon. Member for the Abertillery Division (Mr. Barker) and, in doing so, I wish to draw the attention of the House to a section of workers who are not underground workers, but whose labour is confined to the surface. In particular I would like to ask for the consideration of the House whilst I attempt to bring to the minds of hon. Members the responsibilities attached to this kind of work and the conditions surrounding the work of the class known as colliery winding enginemen. If I have the temerity to suggest to this House that there is no class of colliery workers more important for the safe working of the industry than winding enginemen. I hope hon. Members will not think I am stretching the fact. I am quite sure they will pardon me if I do somewhat stretch the fact, because I served for over 20 years as a winding engineman myself, and I should not be worthy of my calling if I did not stand up in defence of my own trade. I should like to ask for the indulgence of the House while I call attention to the position of the colliery winding enginemen. I hope I shall not be considered disrespectful to the position which you occupy, Mr. Speaker, when I say that you may get up from your Chair and go out and leave behind you something that you will need, and all that would happen would be that you would return to fetch or cause it to be brought to you. A winding enginemen has not that opportunity, because a mistake in a fraction of time is irrecoverable, and he has no chance to recover after an oversight. When you remember that in the deepest windings that are taking place to-day hardly more than a minute is taken in completing the wind from start to finish, you will recognise that there is not much time to make a mistake and recover it. For these reasons, I think it will be generally agreed that these men carry a very heavy responsibility, when you consider in another relation the number of lives entrusted to their care all through their shift. If you couple this with the suggestion which I have endeavoured to put before the House, it will be easily recognised how near, not merely to accidents but to death and injury they are as a consequence of accidents. It is particularly in the explanation of the position of these men in relation to the Coal Mines Act that I desire to address the House in seconding this Resolution. I want to refer in the first place to the Coal Mines Act of 1911, in that relation wherein it provides that there shall be attached to every winding engine an over-winding apparatus, which is put there to prevent, or, if I may say so, to correct the forgetfulness that may ensue in the working of the winding engine. I agree with the hon. Member who moved the Resolution when he states that all he has said and all the pleadings he has urged have simply been with a desire to persuade the Government to recognise that the time has come when we might reasonably ask them to consider the desirability of amending the Coal Mines Act. of 1911. We have had that Act in operation until mill mining has changed many of its aspects in that time, conditions and circumstances have altered, and we have had plenty of time to see and realise the shortcomings of that Act and the undoubted need that exists for improving it.

    With regard to the provision of overwinding apparatus, if you turn to the Act you will find that the reference to this matter is not at all clear, neither is it as definite as we believe it should be in order to ensure safety to life, limb and property. It merely says that there shall be an overwinding apparatus, and that is the end of it. It does not define or lay clown where it shall be attached or at what time it shall come into operation. It does not lay down that such apparatus shall be under definite control, and it does not say that it shall be-inspected periodically or at all. It lays down no rule in respect of the adjustment of such apparatus, and the result is that from time to time we have evidence coming to us in cases of overwinding where either the overwinding apparatus has not operated at all, or else that it has been set so that it does not come into operation as effectively as it should do to secure the safety of all concerned. We think that Act should be made perfectly clear in its instructions in relation to such an important matter as this. May I put this to the House? We know of instances where the overwinding apparatus is set to come into operation after the conclusion of the winding when it is completed. While that may be very necessary in order to ensure safety from the danger of the winding engineman starting the engine in the wrong way, it does nothing to protect the men who may be travelling down into the mine in the. descending cage, and before the time the overwinding gear comes into operation the descending cage may be dashed to the bottom. with loss of life and injury. It merely a desire to persuade the Government that the relation of the provisions affecting overwinding apparatus should be made clear and not left as they now are, that I am making this point.

    There should be some definite arrangement to arrange for periodical overhauling and inspection of this apparatus. Further, we would like to suggest to the Rouse that the law should be so amended that, not only should the apparatus be fixed to control the ascending cage, but it should also control the descending cage, so that if one of the apparatus should fail there would be the safeguard of another on the opposite side coming into operation. We feel we are not asking for anything unreasonable when we suggest further consideration of a condition such as this. I want to refer to another aspect in relation to winding operations which we believe is not conducive to security or safety. I wish to allude to the situation which is arising only too often in the present day where an engineman employed on the downcast engine of a colliery is required by the management—and this practice is on the increase—to undertake the responsibility of attention to and control of another set of winding engines in another engine house altogether. This has been on the increase since the time of the miners' lock-out. It is said that. managers con- tend they cannot afford to pay for too many engines. I have had personal experience of this, and at this moment I wish to urge that this extension of the duties of a winding engineman is a direct. violation of the Coal Mines Act Regulations. Clause 57 of the Act lays it down definitely and clearly that the duty of the winding engineman is in relation to one set of engines only, and it is provided he shall not, during the whole of the time the men are below ground, he away from his engine or be inattentive.

    I may present to the House a case actually in existence at the present moment—a ease that we have brought to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman as well as to the notice of the divisional inspector. I hope the House will understand I do not wish to speak derogatorily of the inspector. I am merely pointing out the imperative need arising from the present, interpretation of the working of the Act. This is a case where the winding engineman goes on duty with a night shift. at a colliery at which he is employed. He puts his men down into the mine, and. as soon as he has completed that operation, acting under instructions from the management, he locks the door of the engine house, walks across the highway to another set of engines and commences t o wind water. I think I need hardly submit that that is a direct. and complete violation of the spirit and intention of the Act, and it ought not to be allowed to proceed any further. I will supply the right hon. Gentleman with the name of the colliery and the necessary facts. I wish also to draw attention to a further aspect of the case. We, drew the attention of the inspector to these conditions. We know he has been to the colliery, but for some reason or other the conditions are still operating. I hold a letter in my hand which is evidence from the colliery itself that that is so. We say again that if the provisions of the Coal Mines Act, 1911, are examined it will be found that there is no clear or no sufficiently clear definition of the instructions laid clown in the Act. I believe the inspector did his duty, but he did not go quite as far as I would have gone if the management refused to recognise their obligations under the Act. If I had had power to do so, I should have caused the man to be prosecuted, but for some reason the inspector has proceeded no further.

    I am speaking on behalf of the winding engineman and the men who are dependent on his attendance at his proper engine. We may have men terribly injured in the working of the mine brought to the pit bottom, and it may be necessary they should be conveyed to the top as quickly as possible, but they are unable to get out because the engineman is not in attendance. We might even have an explosion, which, unfortunately, is not an uncommon occurrence. There might be any number of things that require the attendance of the winding engineman, but he is not there to give it. That is serious enough. We bold that the Mines Act and its Regulations as applied to the man's duty and labour is sufficient to indict him in a Court of Law for neglect of duty, although he is obeying the instructions of the management. I like to speak candidly at any time when I have anything to say, and without offence. A strange thing has happened. It is strange to me, at any rate. We have brought this position to the attention of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, as he will agree, and we have done our best to demonstrate, from a practical standpoint, how this matters appeals to us. If I understood him clearly, and I think I did—I hope he will contradict me and place the true facts before me if I did not—I certainly came away with the impression when directly challenged as to what would be the position of a winding engineman if, while he was attending to the second engine, he was required to perform duty at the first engine and could not do it, because of the second duty, the hon. and gallant Gentleman said that it would depend on circumstances. I respectfully urge that the Coal Mines Act, 1911, and its Regulations, were never framed to he dependent on circumstances, and that they ought never to be dependent on circumstances. Instead of the law being dependent on circumstances, circumstances must be dependent on the law, and unless that position is observed, our men are in constant danger—danger of their characters going and their liberty being taken away from them. It was commonly said, during my experience, that winding engineman stood with one foot inside the door of the prison while the other foot was, apparently, at liberty. It meant that he was always in the midst of danger, owing to the responsible character of his occupation. May I point out that a very great authority in relation to these matters has made the position perfectly clear? I refer to the work issued by Sir Richard Redmayne, who was recognised by the Department in his time, and is recognised by us from the workmen's standpoint, as one of the ablest authorities we have known in the industry. Sir Richard Redmayne, in laying down his opinion relating to this matter, states emphatically that a winding engineman should not be given any other work, during the hours of his attendance, which will interfere in any way with his close attention to his duties as laid down in the Act.

    It seems to me that the hon. Member is criticising the administration of the present law. The Motion suggests a change in the law, and I do not understand the connection of his argument with that. If he can connect it with some further legislation, it would be in order. Otherwise, his proper opportunity would be on the salary of the Secretary for Mines.

    Surely an hon. Member is entitled to criticise the present law with a view to its alteration? Otherwise, how are we to bring the matter before the hon. and gal1ant, Gentleman?

    The hon. Member will be in order if he suggests new legislation. My reason for intervening was, that a number of hon. Members wish to argue in favour of a change in the law, and this will be their only opportunity. They would not he able to argue that on the salary of the Secretary for Mines, but the hon. Member's argument seems to he directed against the administration rather than in favour of new legislation.

    I am sorry if I have departed from the strict lines of order, but, as my hon. Friend has just said, my anxiety is to demonstrate that the law as it is laid down in so many words in the Act, is not so clear and definite as it might be, and does not offer a safeguard but provides an elasticity which is taken full advantage of by firms throughout the country.

    I wish to bring to the attention of the House another aspect of the matter, which is provided for in the Act of 1911. It is provided in that Act and its regulations that, in connection with the winding engine-house, there shall be provided sanitary arrangements for the convenience of the engineman, which shall allow him to respond to the calls of Nature without having to go away from his engine or violate the law in any way. Our experience is that, on account of the indefinite character of the provision in the Act, advantage is taken in many places, and that these arrangements are not placed in such a position that the winding engineman can carry on his work without any violation of the law. We know of places where, owing to the fact that the Act provides that it shall be placed in or adjacent to the winding engine-house, the term "adjacent" is taken advantage of, and the sanitary convenience is placed at a good distance from the engine-house, so that the winding engineman has to bring his engine to a standstill, leave it, and go out of the engine-house. This is a matter which vitally affects the health of the winding engineman. I am speaking from experience in this relation, and during my experience I have known what it has been—and I hope the House will take this as I offer it—to have to have a bucket by the handle of the engine, and to respond to the calls of Nature by degrees, in order to maintain my position at the engine and carry on with the work. That was one of the greatest reasons why that provision was inserted in the Act of 1911, and we say, after practically 12 years' experience of the way in which the employers have carried out that provision, that there is room for further amendment in the Act, to ensure that it shall be carried out without any deviation from the purpose of this House when it passed that law.

    I should like to draw the attention of the House to the desirability of such an amendment of the Act as would provide for some control of the speed tit which men shall be lowered into the mine or raised from the mine. We know positively that the speed at which men are compelled to he put down into the mine or raised from it is far too great to ensure safety. Speaking as a practical engineman, through many years I have deplored the fact that I have been com- pelled to throw men into the mine, and to bring them out, at a speed equal to that at which minerals have been brought out. We suggest that there is a maximum of danger, especially in pits with wooden guides, because you are never sure in any operation, whether with minerals or with men, that you are going to bring your cage to the top in safety. We cannot find in the Act any provision regulating this matter, and the result is that in very many cases, from different causes, men are thrown down into the mine instead of being lowered down or raised from it in the way that they ought to he. Owing to pressure of circumstances, the engineman has no option but to throw them down, in order to get them down within the time limit fixed by the management. We suggest that this is a direction in which there might be great loss of life at any moment, and we respectfully submit in this Motion that the present law needs some amendment.

    Returning to the question of the provision and the location of overwinding apparatus, I suggest that these machines should be periodically examined by the inspectors of mines. The inspectors should make a point, when they visit a colliery, of going into the engine-room and examining not only the overwinding apparatus, but the other machinery there. Hon. Members may perhaps think this strange, but I have passed through 22 years as a winding engineman, and I have never known a mines inspector to go into the engine-house to examine the machinery. I have known, through many years, that the engines I have been working have had brakes attached to them which would not hold the engine still in any position and that other parts of the machinery have not been in the state required by the Act. It is all very well to expect the workman to proclaim the fact that the engines are not in proper order, but that ought not to be expected of them. It is the clear duty of those responsible for the safeguarding of life to see that those parts of the machinery are inspected periodically, in order that they may have control. In putting forward these suggestions. I should like to say, as a last word, that not one word has been said with any desire to hamper the working of a colliery, but entirely with the wish to provide for the safe working of the collieries and to give the maximum of security to life and limb to the winding enginemen. I beg to thank the House for its patience.

    I am sure, that than in my first venture in addressing the House I shall be met with a good deal of indulgence by ray hon. Friends on all sides, because I may claim that I have as many friends among the miners of all districts as I have amongst any other class of people. I wish to speak on this Motion, and I am sure there is no one in the House but will agree with the former part of it, which states

    "That this House deplores the heavy loss of life and the large number of non-fatal accidents in mines."
    Every hon. Member who has any connection whatever with mining deeply deplores the tremendous loss of life which occurs in our mines and the amount of suffering entailed by non-fatal accidents. We are asked, in this Motion, to amend the Coal Mines Act, 1911, because it is believed by the hon. Member who moved the Motion that an amendment to that Act would decrease the risk of accident in our collieries. If that can be proved to the satisfaction of the Secretary for Mines, the inspectors, the coal-owners and the managers, no one would hesitate in agreeing that such an amendment should take place, because we wish to use every endeavour to decrease both the loss of life and also the suffering entailed by non-fatal accidents. When I come to consider the suggestions put forward from the opposite benches, as to how the list of fatal accidents can he decreased, I do not feel I can go very far with either the Mover or the Seconder. At present the legislation—the Coal Mines Act and the attendant Regulations—dealing with all branches of the industry, are such that it is absolutely impossible for either owner, manager, or man to keep them for a single day. If you add to them, you make? it still more difficult. I want to see, instead of amended and additional legislation a closer co-operation between owners, managers and men, for the purpose of discussing and considering together what can best be done to reduce this appalling list of accidents.

    I same to this House, not by the influence of the coalowners nor by the votes of the miners. I therefore claim that if I have any knowledge of mining conditions I have a right to speak, so far as I possibly can, from an impartial point of view. I want, in this my first speech in the House, to say that no one has greater sympathy with the miners, and no one, I think, has done more to make the lot of the miners better than it otherwise would have been. In my own district. I believe that the-collieries, with which up to lately I was connected, have not only been the safest pits, but have been the pits where the men have worked and lived under the best possible conditions. I do not see why, by co-operation between owners and men, we cannot get similar conditions in every coalfield in the country. It is true that some of our pits are more modern than those you find in Scotland, the North of England, or South Wales: but I see no reason why, given goodwill on all sides, there should not be better and safer conditions of working and a happier, better and brighter life away from work. That is what we want, more than anything else. We want to ensure that, apart from their work, the people of this country, who have to toil either underneath the surface, at the factory, or wherever it be, shall feel that all the country is taking a deep interest in their welfare.

    In opposing this Motion for an amendment of the Act of 1911. I do so because I do not see that the reasons put forward by the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Barker) are such as would, if carried into legislation, decrease the list of accidents. We are told that we ought to sink shafts every mile.

    In these days, when "all the shallow seams of coal are practically worked out: with mines becoming deeper and deeper, and being worked at a depth of from800 to 1,000 yards, and even more, it would be utterly impossible, either as a commercial or as any kind of practical proposition to sink shafts every mile. It would utterly destroy the colliery because you not only have to have your shaft, you have to have your railway sidings, your winding apparatus, your screens, and all that kind of thing and to-day you cannot put down a colliery with two shafts of 900 yards depth each to draw 4,000 tons a day under £1,000,000. There is one way of saving the lives of our miners, and that is by making it impossible to find them any work in our collieries. If they never went down the mine they would never meet with accidents. That is not the way we can carry on the great industry which is the very foundation of all the industries of the country, and the very lifeblood of our existence and prosperity. We are asked also to see if we cannot stow by hydraulic means the gobs in our mines. I have seen it in operation in Saxony and the system is only practicable where the seams are at a great inclination, and where the sand and water flowing together fill up the portions where the coal has been removed, leaving the remainder free from water. I have been a colliery manager in Staffordshire within a very few miles of Hanley, and I know something about what the seconder was speaking of. I am willing to further and to adopt and to advocate any practical method which can be devised either by owners, managers, trade union leaders or the miners themselves, and I feel sure, knowing as I do the feeling of the owners and of the management quite as much and even more than the owners, there is no practical proposition at which they would hesitate to bring to pass a great reduction in this mournful toll which is paid for the production of our mineral wealth.

    I should like to say a word with regard to the enginemen. I have never known in all the mining experience I have had in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire an engineman who has had to look after some other piece of machinery. It may be exceptional in the district the hon. Member spoke of, hut, so far as any district I know in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, I have never known such a ease, and to my mind, if it happens at any colliery, I believe it is a breach of the Coal Mines Act and Regulations, and the necessary steps ought to be taken. I should never defend any slackening of the carrying out either of the Coal Mines Act or the Regulations connected with it. I thank the Mover for the graceful acknowledgment he gave that since 1872 the death-rate in our mines per thousand employed had decreased by considerably over a half. Is not that an evidence of progress? Legislation from 1872 to 1911 has im- proved things. My own opinion is that you have gone as far as you possibly can by legislation now, and it must be obtained in other ways. I know there is a strong feeling that we are paying too dearly in human life for the wealth we produce. I share that feeling, and I should welcome any inquiry or any cooperation on the part of managers, trade union leaders and men working in the mines to come together and have a consultation and see if they cannot devise some means by which we can reduce this great toll of human life. I am sure it is impossible to procure any further improvement by amending such a complicated, difficult and great Act as the Coal Mines Act of 1911.

    I am sure everyone on this side of the House will agree with the very kindly sentiment expressed by the hon. Member who has just sat down, but when he was speaking I was wondering whether he was speaking from his head or from his heart. Apparently his heart was running a little too fast, and carrying him away, making him go a bit further than he wanted to go, because he pulled up occasionally to tell us the things he was advocating could not be done.

    By legislation, but they can be done by goodwill. We are having a spate of goodwill and have had for the last two years, but instead of conditions improving they are getting worse, and when the hon. Member quoted the hon. Member for Abertillery he only quoted one part of what he had said. It is true that if you compare the present time with 1872 there is a considerable apparent improvement, but the hon. Member for Abertillery drew attention to the fret that during the last 10 years there had b en no improvement. If there had been a continuous improvement, the probabilities are that we should have been satisfied with the 1911 Act. There is no continuance in the improvement, consequently we are asking the Government and hon. Members of all parties to agree with us that the Act should be amended so that the rate of progress which was in operation between 1872 and 10 or 11 years ago should be continued if at all possible. I am sorry this matter occupies so little of the mind, or the time, or the attention of responsible members of the Government. The mining industry is the second largest industry in the country. It is probably the most important industry in the country. If we had been discussing a question relating to agriculture the benches opposite would have been full. So also would the benches here, because we are as anxious as hon. Members opposite to see the great industry of agriculture brought into a much greater state of perfection than it occupies now. The point I want to draw attention to is that every member of the Cabinet would have been sitting there if we had been dealing with agriculture, largely, perhaps, because the representative of the agricultural industry has a seat in the Cabinet. One of the things I want to put here, quite frankly, is that the miners are not going to rest satisfied with the subordinate position ocupied by the Mines Department. The mining industry is not only the second largest industry but, probably, the most important under present conditions, and it is, apart from the sailors' industry, the most dangerous occupation. It is more dangerous than the Army. In the Army, during a war, then are more officers killed than there are managers in coal mines. The managers are the officers of a coal mine, and they do not suffer except on very rare occasions. When there is an accident, it is very rarely that it affects the life or limb of the manager. If the manager were in danger of his life and limb he would he prepared to play the part of a man and defy the owners by carrying out the law. I want to say, quite frankly, that the managers in the collieries of this country at the present time dare not carry out the law. They dare not carry out the law because they are, just as the ordinary miner is, ordinary workmen, and if they are not prepared to carry out the instructions they get, there is another man get ting their job.

    I suggest that the accidents could be reduced, and the easiest way to reduce them would be by holding the management responsible for the accident. The law puts the manager in the position of being able to tell the owner that he is independent of him if he cares to adopt that attitude, and the Government are entitled to be asked to put the onus for the accidents upon the managers. It it does nothing else—and they are not much more than mere sycophants and slaves at the present time—it will put some soul into them. Accidents in mines should be made a criminal offence, unless the management can prove that they are due to causes over which they cannot exercise control. If that were done, there would be a very considerable reduction in the death rate and in the non-fatal accidents, because the accidents that take place are due largely to the negligence of the managers and their unwillingness, because of the instructions from the owners, to carry out the law.

    What we are anxious to secure, so far as the Mines Act of 1911 is concerned, is that the Act should he strengthened so that the management will be held responsible, and that they will he threatened, not merely with the loss of then liberty but with the loss of their certificate.

    It is the law at the present moment that the owner, agent and manager are responsible criminally if the mine is worked otherwise than in conformity with the Act. That is provided by Section 101 of the Coal Mines Act, 1911.

    I accept that statement as being perfectly true. What I was trying to put was that although the law is there it is not sufficiently strong, and. that the managers at the present time can ignore and do ignore the law. We shall be prepared on this side of the House, as representing the miners, to take the expert opinion of the advisers of the Mines Department whether they cannot show that these accidents, even under the present law, are preventible, and, if they are preventible, then those who are responsible for them should be regarded as having committed not merely a moral offence, but that they should be put into the dock and made to suffer in their person. The death rates and the accident. rates in the mines are caused by explosion, by falls of roof and side, by hauling accidents, by over-winding and by nystagmus. Probably the greatest and worst accident that the miner has to fact, is caused by had ventilation. There is a great deal more misery occasioned in the homes of the miners by the foul air that the miner is compelled to breathe than is known. There has never yet been any attempt to assess the suffering that is occasioned by that particular form of accident, for which there is no redress, no compensation, and, possibly, no statistics. It is a very fruitful cause of illness and shortness of life in the miffing industry, and it could be prevented, if not entirely, at any rate, to a very considerable extent providing that there was that willingness which is talked about but never acted upon to carry out the safety regulations which are already in existence.

    Some of us are getting a bit sick of sympathetic references to the miners' ease every time it is raised. That sympathy is manifested by the empty benches tonight. The last time, or almost the last time, that the mining question was being discussed, these benches were full, and they will be again before very long. Instead of getting good will, you are taking a line that will make it impossible for anything in the nature of good will to obtain in the mining industry. AS has been repeatedly said from this side of the House, the one thing that is of much advantage from our standpoint and not from yours is good will. Nobody is more anxious to secure good will than we are, but what of the good will that animates the men in control of the mining industry? The big proportion of the men who are engaged in that mining industry and who control it know nothing about it. They are merely capitalists, and because they are capitalists they are using their wealth in this form and that form to prevent a real knowledge of the actual facts existent in that great industry being made public and coming to the minds and consciences of the general public.

    There are ways and means by which the accident rate in mines could be very considerably reduced, and the first thing that ought to be demanded by this Hence, and I suggest that Members on the other side are just as much entitled to ask for it as we are, is that the Mines Department should be elevated from its present subordinate position to that of Cabinet rank. I do not know whether the Secretary for Mines will be favourable to that or not. I want to be frank with him. We do not think that a man who knows nothing of our industry should be Minister of Mines. It is essential that there should be some responsible office created whose business it will be to see that the laws pawed by this Parliament are put into effect, and that the loss of life and accident rate are reduced to a minimum. I do not say that they can be abolished. I am not so foolish as to suggest that, but you can easily reduce your accident rate by 50 per cent. It will be well worth the while of the Government, and would from the economic point of view be sound procedure, to take steps not only to reduce the accident rate, but to increase the length of life in the mines and improve the capacity of the men, by providing that the ventilation regulations are carried into effect, thus, ensuring a very much larger output than you can get in existing circumstances. I hope that this discussion will have the effect of inducing the Government to consider the whole question from the standpoint urged from these benches, and be prepared to introduce legislations at an early date to amend the Act of 1911.

    Notwithstanding what was said by my hon. Friend who spoke last as to sympathy with the miners on this side, I can assure him that there, is a sincere desire on the part of all of us on this side to do all we can to support what hon. Members desire to obtain under this Resolution. One point which needs answering is as to the winding operations in collieries. My hon. Friend who seconded the Motion almost made me get very ill when he described the horrors and uncertainties and dangers to which every miner is exposed as a result of the careless and indifferent manner in which the inspection of winding, machinery is carried out. But, taking the figures we find that in 1920 there were 40 accidents and that in the first nine months of 1921 there were 26, which would be at the rate of 85 or, if you like 49 for the year. There are between 800,000 and 900,009 men working underground, who have an average of 280 working shifts per annum, so that you have a total of 540,000,000 trips up and down, and you have got 40 accidents.

    10.0 P.M.

    Yes, I regret that we had 40 accidents, and if we can do away with them I should be very glad. But I am putting the point that the hon. Member who seconded the Motion rather exaggerated the dangers of the case. I was rather surprised to hear the Mover of the Resolution contradict himself. He stated that the expenditure on the Mines Department which was authorised was £250,000 per annum, that the amount expended in the first year was £170,000, and that now we had to cut it down to £90,000, and the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Barker) said that he could not understand how it was possible to have any economies made in that particular Department. If any lessening of accidents can be obtained by the maintenance or improvements of the Mines Department he said that we should not economise, but in the next breath he said, "What is the use of the Department? Why do you want it?"

    The hon. Member criticised the cost of the Department, and then said he could not see the use of the Department.

    Is riot it within the recollection of the, House that the hon. Member was directing his remarks to the economies in the Department, which were reducing it below efficiency?

    That is not the point at all. In any event, it is not my desire to enter into a discussion in this House in a contentious spirit. Accidents, in any event, are deplorable. I want to call attention to the fact that the Ministry has recently set up a Mines Research Committee. The terms of reference are

    "to prepare a scheme for investigating possible methods of reducing the number of accidents in coal mines and consider arrangements for carrying out the proposed scheme."
    The operations of this investigating Committee are not confined to any particular set of accidents. The scope is broad and extensive. The Committee can investigate every possible avenue which may lead to a solution of this most complex problem that ever confronted a set of engineers. Last year we were faced in the mining industry with 546 deaths. Of these, 359 occurred at the coal face. Naturally, that is an appalling number of accidents. The total number of deaths from all causes was 1,100. Over half were due to falls. My hon. Friend must remember this. We have to look at the actual figures. We know that the numbers are deplorable and we want to reduce them by every means in our power and by every means of investigation which we can utilise, either as individuals or corporations or as a Government. But we have to realise that there is one fatal accident for every 400,000 working shifts.

    I will give all the figures that the hon. Gentleman requires. Let us go back, if we may, for a period of 50 years. It has been said that the percentage has decreased something like 50 per cent. The figure for the 10 years, 1873 to 1882 was 1·2. There is no use giving the intervening years because they show a steady decrease, but coming down to 1914 the figure was ·70. In 1921 it was ·42 and in 1020 ·55.

    Hon. Members said there was a desire on the part of coalowners to sacrifice safety for profits and output. If on no other ground than profit making it would be preposterous and silly on the part of mineowners to encourage accidents and loss of life for which they become liable to heavy penalties under the Workmen's Compensation Acts. There is another ground on which we are opposed and strongly determined to prevent accidents, and that is that we want to secure efficiency, to increase output by every means within our power, consistent with the least danger possible, in order that we may get what little of the surplus—if there is any that is left to us. I cannot discuss this subject in the present Debate. On broad humanitarian grounds, however, the Members opposite must not suppose they possess the whole of the milk of human kindness. There is some of it left on this side as well. [HON. MEMBERS: "And pretty well watered!"] It is better to be watered than mixed with something else. It is very good tactics on the part of Members opposite, and it is an exceedingly good case for them to put to the country, to say that we as a body have no regard for human life, but treat the people with whom we have to work in our mines and businesses, as simply parts of a machine to be scrapped and broken at the earliest opportunity. But that is not the case. The hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Duncan Graham) referred to the fact that the miners were engaged in the most precarious industry, and he said something should he done to make the life of a miner more lengthy and more happy, and give him a better chance and a better lease of life. The latest figures issued by the Registrar-General's Department—and it is not my fault, it is the fault of the Government that the figures are not issued later than 1912—show that the miner is one of the longest living men in this country. The percentage of his life compares most favourably with those in other industries.

    It is surprising to know that the average for miners is something like 230 per thousand of men over 75 years. The statement has also been made that mining is the most hazardous industry in the country. I have the official figures for accidents with me, which show that for seamen the percentage is 4·05 for 3,200 hours' work per annum. The miners 1·56 for 2,300 hours per annum. That is over a period of five years. For railwaymen the figure is 0·59. [HON. MEMBERS: "Is that for deaths or accidents? "] It is for accidents. I took the trouble this afternoon to obtain quotations from one of the leading insurance companies in the country dealing with workmen's compensation. Their figures for miners are for South Wales and Monmouthshire, for all risks from 80s. to 130s. per cent. on wages, according to the nature of the coal, or an average of 105s. per cent. In England and Scotland they vary between 70s. and 110s. per cent., an average of 95s. per cent. I find that in other industries some of the figures are:—For those engaged with working machinery, 90s. per cent.: housebreakers, whatever that may be, 200s. per cent.; cleaners of outside buildings by mechanical process, 200s. per cent.; dismantling and breaking up machinery, 100s. per cent.; painters and decorators, 100s. per cent.

    The workhouse, in these days. The rate I have given is the rate per annum on each industry. That goes conclusively to prove—and the insurance committees are the best guides as to the nature of hazard and risk in employment —that the mining industry is not so hazardous as it is said to be by its protagonists. We must remember that many of the accidents are due to causes over which we have no control. The hon. Member who seconded the Motion said that circumstances should govern the law and not law govern circumstances.

    I agree, and I wish it could happen. If the law could rise supreme above circumstances, we would have no difficulties to settle in this House. Unfortunately, there are laws of Nature and other laws over which we have no-control, and no legislation that man can introduce will regulate them. The numbers of fatal accidents in 1913 were 1·59 per 1,000 employed; in 1920 they were ·894: and in 1922 they were just 1 per cent. per thousand. There has been a steady decrease in the last nine years. It shows conclusively that the operation of the 1911 Act has had, in difficult times under war conditions, a very beneficial effect on the industry. Take the non-fatal accidents. In 1913 they were 156·8 per 1,000 employed. In 1920 they were 95·9 per 1,000. The number has decreased very considerably in the course of the last ten years. What the figures are for 1922 we do not know. I would like to make clear one point from which we cannot get away in dealing with the question of non-fatal accidents. During the War it was agreed, under the war addition to the Workmen's Compensation Act, that 75 per cent. increase should be given in the case of totally, but not permanently, injured people. The result has been that there has been a tremendous increase in the number of applicants for compensation for minor accidents who are also members of clubs. It has been said by someone that God Almighty cannot cure a man of a weak back when he is in three clubs. The number of cases per month has risen from 6,350 in January, 1921, to 12,231 in August, 1922. and the duration of incapacity has increased correspondingly. The cases per 100,000 in the third quarter of 1922, compared with the percentage of cases per 100,000 in the first quarter of 1921, show that for less than two weeks the percentage of increase was 108 per cent.; for two and less than three weeks, 180 per cent.; for three and less than four weeks, 200 per cent.; for four and less than 13 weeks, 240 per cent.; for 13 and less than 26 weeks, 260 per cent.; and for 26 weeks and over it was 163 per cent. The sums paid increased over 3½ times per unit. Surely that, is sufficient to prove my contention that there is a deliberate intention on the part of the lower paid men to take advantage of the Workmen's Compensation Act in order to obtain addition al allowances.

    It may be, but there is the fact, and I cannot help it. According to the divisional inspectors alone there is no question about the fact that 50 per cent. of the accidents in 1921 could have been prevented by the observation of the Regulations and by reasonable precaution. On the 15 eases of fatal accident by explosion in 1920, nine were attributable, on investigation, to the acts of the men themselves. Take the case of Durham in regard to falls. I do not suppose there is any part of the country where a more straightforward and honourable attempt has been made to deal with these cases than in the County of Durham. Expert timbermen have been employed, specially trained for that particular job.

    I do not say all the pits in Durham, but some of them. I must ask hon. Members to allow me to present my case. Hon. Members on the other side will never allow anybody on this side to make a case it all. As I was saying, every effort has been made in certain pits in Durham to improve the conditions, and what has been the result I A natural spirit of carelessness has been displayed on the part of the hewers.

    The accidents show it. A natural spirit of carelessness entered into the men and undid the good work which the inspectors and managers were seeking to accomplish in this respect. There is not the slightest use, in a discussion of this kind, endeavouring to introduce controversial suggestions which imply that there is an entire lack of good faith and that the whole system of operations is wrong. That is only one way in which the mining industry and the Mines Department is being attacked. I assure the House, and I speak with a certain amount of authority, that notwithstanding differences in other directions which can only be settled by conference and discussion, on this particular point there is no difference between the mine owners and the men. Anything and everything that can be done to obviate accidents, to meet the men in any reasonable demands and to obey the dictum of the Department would be done willingly. As I said before, it will be done, if for no other reasons, for pecuniary reasons but you may take it from me, that the main ground of our desire to carry out every possible Regulation for the safety of the men, is that we desire on humanitarian grounds at least to be decent, reasonable, and Christian citizens. The capitalist is not necessarily a man without a soul. We may disagree on Some fundamentals, but when it comet, to the question of accidents, there are no reasonable suggestions from the Mines Department or the Home Office, which Will not be willingly accepted and obeyed, but we must have far more than good will in putting into operation any suggestions that are put forward. We must have absolute observance by the men of the rules which are made, and we are perfectly willing on the other hand, to see that any responsible official is submitted to the jurisdiction of the law, who fails in carrying but the obligations placed upon us by Act of Parliament. If hon. Members on the other side have any practical suggestions to make, let us have them. We are willing to do all we can, and we will consider them. If there are inventions; if there are new safety appliances available for the protection of life, if you can help us in any way to eradicate the difficulty of dealing with the human factor in handling machinery, we are willing to do our part. If you can find a way to overcome the difficulties for us, let us know it. I appeal to the House to reject the Motion on the ground that we are doing all we can; we are satisfying the requirements of the Department and we believe that by carrying out the precepts of the 1911 Act and by observance of the conditions and Regulations laid down, you will achieve your object without amending that Act.

    The time allotted to me is very short, but I should like to have the opportunity of combating one or two of the statements made by the hon. Member for Central Cardiff (Mr. Gould). He has asked that we should make one or two suggestions worthy of consideration that might be conducive, if not to eliminating, at least to lessening, the sufferings associated with work in the mines. I am going to tell him immediately that if he will take the trouble to look it up, I recommend him to read the Report of the Medical Research Council on Miner's Nystagmus. He will then come to the conclusion that the coalowners have been very remiss indeed in doing that which would have been sufficient to have prevented a great deal of the suffering which the miners of this country are unnecessarily enduring at the present time. Dr. Lister Llewellyn, who has written this Report himself, after many years of very careful investigation, has come to the conclusion that at least 25 per cent. of the men working in pits where safety lamps are used are suffering in some degree with miner's nystagmus, and Sir Josiah Court, who was one of the men who originally, long ago, investigated this awful disease, came to the conclusion that at least 34 per cent. of the men he examined were actually suffering from miner's nystagmus. This Report definitely says this that the essential factor in the production of miner's nystagmus is deficient illumination, and they go on to say, after making certain recommendations:

    "The Committee believe that by the application of these remedies miner's nystagmus of sufficient severity to cause disablement can by degrees he entirely prevented."
    The only thing that is required to prevent this awful disease, to which a good many men working the mines are subject, is the introduction of an electric lamp of sufficient luminosity to give the men a reasonable light in which to perform their tasks at the coal face. My hon. Friend has referred to accidents on the haulage roads. I suggest to him that he can halve the accidents on haulage roads, main haulage roads in particular, if he will whitewash those roads. These are two very simple things, and if the Secretary for Mines will give consideration to the suggestions which have been laid down here, and if we can induce him to bring in legislation which will make it imperative on the coalowners to provide, where lamps have to be used, a lamp of such standard of luminosity as will cut down nystagmus alone, we shall have contributed something very useful to this Debate to-night.

    I think the whole House will agree in welcoming this Debate., and particularly the tone of the Debate. In spite of the caustic suggestion from the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham), who, I see, is no longer in his place, that no sympathy can be expected from hon. Members behind me, I still venture to say that. I believe that, irrespective of parties or where they sit, the sentiment in the first part of this Motion will be received with the greatest sympathy and cordiality by all sections of the House. This subject of accidents forms one of the most important and certainly the most interesting parts of the work of my Department—looking after the health and safety of those who work in the mines. No one acquainted with mining would fail to appreciate the complexity of the problems that are involved, which are all intensely difficult problems. The House will realise that it is different from every other industry in many respects, and that in the mining industry there is not only the human and personal factor which is always liable to produce accidents; in addition, you have nature exaggerating every accident due to human frailty and adding those of her own creation to the list. Anybody considering the circumstances and the complexity of the problems involved in the machinery and a service of this kind and the problems which arise in respect of the roofs and sides of the mines, gas coaldust, fire, darkness, safety-lamps and so on, without realising how difficult is the whole thing. No one should ever say that the miner has a soft job, and those who are concerned in the management of mines have a serious and an anxious responsibility.

    It is the chief duty of the Mines Department to secure, so far as it best can, the safety and health of the miners and the improvement of the conditions in our mines. I must say I am grateful for the various allusions which have been made to the work of the Department. Hon. Members have been generous in their tributes. I only hope they have been accurate. I am sure they have been sincere about the efforts made by the Department, but they want the work to be increased. If the House of Commons would vote the enormous sums of money to increase the staff under my command nobody would be better pleased than myself. If, in addition, it was felt that the Secretary for Mines should be raised to Cabinet rank it would be gratifying, although such a rank should be conferred upon one more intimate with the intricacies of the subject. We live, however, in bad times when things are not easily done. When the Motion demands new legislation I should like to point out to my hon. Friends that first of all neither the Mover nor others who spoke have given any instance—I will explain what I mean shortly—in which legislation is necessary.

    The Government have no intention of asking the House to oppose this Motion because we all feel that the first part of it is important, and that the House does regard accidents to life and limb in mines with feeling. We feel that the expression of this opinion is important; and that, obviously, no one will wish to object to it. The second part however, which asks for immediate legislation is unnecessary. Therefore, though not opposing this Resolution I want hon. Members to understand that there is no suggestion of the promotion of legislation in the immediate future partly owing to the congestion of Government business and also in view of the fact that it is really unnecessary. The reason for that is that there is not one single thing so far as I have been able to understand the suggestions made by hon. Members opposite that cannot be done at the present moment by regulation by the Secretary for Mines. Hon. Members will say, if that be so, that the fact that these things have not been carried out proves the inefficiency of the Department. If that be so, nobody will more than myself welcome what hon. Members opposite may have to say. I for one shall be very glad to consult with them, as I have done, and have matters pointed out. I should like to point out to the House that under Section 86 of the Coal Mines Regulation Act there is ample power given to the Secretary of State in this matter. He may by Order make such general regulations for the conduct and guidance of those managing the mines or employed in or about the mines as may appear best calculated to provide for safety and health, and proper inspection for the care and treatment of the horses and other animals any such regulations as he may make may vary or amend any provision contained in Part II or Schedule III of the Act.

    That is the part which deals with the question of safety, and therefore the Government contend that there is no need for further legislation. I would like now to deal with some of the criticisms which have been made. Again I wish to acknowledge the very pleasant tone in which the whole subject has been raised. Various subjects have been dealt with, and I was glad to note that the hon. Member who moved the. Motion admitted that, although there have been more accidents than we wish to see, still the general position showed an improvement. I would like to deal with some of the figures, and in doing so I would like to point out that although the toll of accidents is heavier than we wish to see, the general tendency has been to show that there has been a steady decrease. The first suggestion made was that of increasing the number of shafts and carrying out various other changes in the working of the mine. Although the cost of all these suggestions may not seem very much to those who are employed, in these days when under the agreement a certain definite proportion of the profits are assured to the men, it is a matter for them as well as the owners to consider whether any unnecessary expenditure shall take place. Therefore when you talk of sinking extra shafts you cannot do so very lightly, in view of the expense and its effect on wages.

    As regards not looking properly after the ponies, that is a matter with which we sympathise, and only to-day I have sanctioned a prosecution for ill-treatment of ponies. I can assure hon. Members that this is a matter which is being constantly and regularly watched. With regard to the treatment of horses and ponies, even one man can soon reduce a horse by neglect to a very bad state; all I can say on this point is that this is a matter which is being very carefully watched and upon which reports are being constantly sent in.

    I was asked whether enough was being done to encourage inventions for ensuring greater safety. That is a matter with which the Safety in Mines Research Board is considering. I have been asked a question about a particular appliance for making shot-firing more safe. I would like to point to the report given to us in this respect by the Technical Appliances Committee, and though I am glad to think that this appliance is being successfully used in many collieries, we cannot be encouraged to make it compulsory when we get a report of this character from so high an authority. The danger of employing and making compulsory an appliance that is not really reliable is that you give a sense of false security. People begin to believe that other things can be neglected. That is all very well if the appliance is as good as it is supposed to be, but if it is not as good as it is supposed to be, it is far more mischievous than if you did not employ it at all. The report we have received says that "this appliance, with its very elaborate procedure in use, its unwieldy parts requiring delicate manipulation in use, and troublesome care in carrying, might and probably would introduce new and unforeseen sources of accident, despite the fact that adequate precautions of a much simpler nature and efficacious character are already provided by regulation.'' I think hon. Gentlemen will agree that with that report before us it is quite impossible to snake this particular appliance compulsory. I should be very glad to hear that it is being used and improved in other places.

    I am sure the Technical Appliances Committee will be very glad to have any information the hon. Gentleman can give. The question of lamps and nystagmus has been referred to. I quite agree that the latter is a complaint that is increasing and is a very serious matter. We have a Committee sitting on the subject, they have issued one report, and I hope will shortly issue another. With regard to the question of lamps, if anything can be done to produce a better lamp I am sure it will he welcomed and encouraged in every way by the Miners' Lamps Committee. But it is no good saying that you must have better illumination and better lamps unless you are also prepared to say that a, particular lamp giving better illumination is available that has not been made use of, and until some definite suggestion of that sort can be made I think I am justified in saying that every effort is being made to improve the lamps. Certainly, as far as dm Miners' Lamps Committee is concerned, it is a constant subject of study and investigation, and is one of the things on which the Research Board is employed.

    Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that Mr. Smith, giving evidence, stated that since he had introduced electric lamps at Nottingham nystagmus had decreased from 0·9 per cent. to 0·38 per cent., a reduction of 60·8 per cent. since the introduction of the electric lamp.

    Yes, I am quite well aware of the improvement, effected by the introduction of electric lamps, and I am glad to think they are being installed more and more in the collieries. That cannot be done in a minute, but I hope we shall have more and more. There, again, when you get a complete installation of electric lamps arises the question of protection against gas. That is one of the drawbacks. I quite agree that the introduction of electricity has enormously improved the illumination of mines, and I only hope that some brilliant genius will produce a lamp which will give us perfection and afford protection from gas as well as a good light.

    The hon. Member complained that the inspection was insufficient, but that is a question of a larger staff, and is not really a matter for me to deal with; but when he complains that the results of inspection are not published. I cannot agree with him. You get far better results, and far more confidence on the part of the inspectors, if their reports are confidential. It is not that the Department has any desire not to act upon the reports, but, if every inspector knew that every report he made was going to be published in every detail, I am certain it would cramp his style in a way that would be very undesirable. As regards the questions of firemen, and of the districts being too large, I know that in some cases there have been complaints which have been justified, and we have brought those cases before the last quarterly meeting of the divisional inspectors. As the House knows, we have regular quarterly meetings of the divisional inspectors, at which all subjects that have come up lately are discussed. There has never been any difficulty, where their attention has been drawn to such matters, in getting them put right; and, as long as that continues, I think we can say that the result has been comparatively successful.

    As regards the question of the deputy being appointed by the workmen or by the State, I cannot agree with the hon. Member, in the interests of efficiency. Imagine, for instance, what would be the position of a man commanding a regiment or the captain of a ship, if all his responsibility, as regards the officers working under him, were taken away. You must make a man responsible for his job. If the responsibility of the man who has the management is taken away, and a lot of people are put in, I am perfectly certain—

    The deputy does not carry out his duties under the Mines Act, but under the Coal Mines Act.

    I am well aware of that, but what the hon. Member said was that he feared, if the deputy were appointed by the management, he would be afraid to carry out his duties completely and successfully. I think that is not the fact. The hon. Member then asked about the Safety in Mines Research Board—whether it is still in existence, and what it is doing?

    Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman deal with the question of examination by workmen's inspection? They are entitled to have an examination once a month.

    Yes, I will go into that. I shall be glad to have a talk with the hon. Member about it. With regard to the Safety in Mines Research Board, the hon. Member asked what it was doing, and, I think, whether it is any use. I can assure him it is of the greatest use. The subject of falls of roofs and sides has been mentioned, and at this moment we have a Committee dealing with that very point. We are hoping that it will report shortly.

    In addition to that, the work of the Safety in Mines Research Board is of a very varied and difficult character. They carry out the research into explosives, and they also deal with inventions and safety lamps. They deal with the running of the experimental station, which deals with coal dust experiments, and so on. Their pork is of enormous value, and I do not think it is fair to suggest that the Board are not doing most valuable work. They are working extremely hard, and have some very distinguished men upon the Board. The country as a whole should pay a debt of the deepest gratitude to those who are working so well on that Board.

    I come now to the speech of the Seconder of the Motion, who dealt mainly with the question of winding engines. He alluded to certain very pleasant visits, so far as we were concerned, which he recently made to the Mines Department, when he also set out the case nearly as fully as he has to-night. The point which he raised of one man looking after two winding engines has been fully set out y him before me and my officials on several occasions. What we asked was, if this practice were continuing under conditions of any danger or serious danger? I do not believe in making unnecessary Regulations. I believe that when you make Regulations, you ought to make those that can be carried out, and you ought not to multiply them if you can possibly help it. The Regulations should be really good, and there should not be too many of them. We have asked hon. Members to give us cases, and up to the present time none have been put before us. The hon. Member for Hanley (Mr. Harper Parker) says that he has a case now. He came to see me about a fortnight ago, and he could not produce it then, so that something has evidently happened since that date. I shall be extremely glad to go into it; anti if he will bring the case round to the Mines Department, he will be received with every sympathy and investigation will be made.

    Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman say whether his Department has insisted on putting on catches in case of the ropes of the cage breaking? There are a large number of patents existing. Will he say whether his Department gives, as a reason for not putting on the catches, that they would interfere with the winding of the cage?

    That is a question which has been several times gone into and considered. I am afraid I cannot be led away to deal with that now, as I have only a few minutes left. The hon. Gentleman will not expect me to go into a very technical question of that kind. I want to point out that, on the whole, as has already been stated by several previous speakers, there has been a gradual decrease in the number of fatal accidents. I need not give the figures, which had been stated several times correctly. In serious non-fatal accidents there has been no increase, but, on the other hand, a slight decrease. It is only in the slightest accidents that, for the last year, 1922, there has been a comparatively considerable increase. It is, at any rate, satisfactory to know—and the House will remember the figures given by a previous speaker—that the great proportion of these accidents were slight. One wonders why it is, at this moment, when there has been a slight decrease in fatal accidents and a really noticeable decrease in serious accidents that there should have been an increase in the more slight accidents. I hope it may be that some of the work of the so-called Safety First Campaign, which the Mines Department has been trying to organise throughout the mining industry, is bearing fruit. I hope it may be that the men are beginning to realise that their health is worth thinking about, and that apparently trivial accidents and injuries are worth being treated properly and taken care of. We all know the extraordinarily high output there has been in the past year and the very high pressure at which the men have been working, and it is easy to understand that the proportion of slight accidents should have increased in the way it has. I do not think it is a sign of any increased carelessness on the part of the management or of administration, because that would have been reflected in the more serious and fatal accidents. I hope we shall find that accidents are decreasing and the general conditions of health and safety in mines are improving daily. It is a testimony to the success of the scientific research and investigations which have been made that it is in the accidents in which Nature plays the most prominent part that the greatest decrease has occurred. I have not time to develop the figures but it is rather interesting that that should he so. That shows that the work of the Mines Department has been useful and has had good results.

    It is an immense subject, and I should like to have pointed out how much higher we are than foreign countries in our level of safety. It. is a mistake for any hon. Members to think—I do riot believe they really think it—that we on this side are not as anxious to promote health and safety in the mines as they are. The hon. Member for Lanarkshire spoke very fiercely, but we know he is not as fierce as he pretends to be. The Government have no desire to oppose this Motion for the simple reason that no Government and no House of Commons—certainly not this House of Commons—would dream of opposing it. In all classes of society there is great admiration for the way the mining industry is carrying on its operations. There is great sympathy for the miner and his hard conditions, and there is great hope that very soon economic conditions will improve and things will be better than they are to-day.

    Question put, and agreed to.


    "That this House deplores the heavy loss of life and the large number of non-fatal accidents in mines, and is of opinion that legislation to improve and strengthen the provisions of the Coal Mines Act, 1911, should be introduced and carried into law without delay in order to secure the fullest protection possible to those engaged in this dangerous industry."

    Nurses' Registration Act,1919

    I beg to move,

    That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty praying that, the Scheme made under paragraph 4 of the Schedule to the Nurses' Registration Act. 1919 (9 and 10 Geo. V., c. 94), for the election of sixteen persons to be members of the General Nursing Council for England and Wales, and laid before Parliament on the 13th day of February, may be modified as follows:—

    Page 3, Table, by leaving out the first seven figures in the column headed "Number of persons to be elected," hi order to insert the figure "11."

    Page 3, Table, by leaving out the first twenty-four lines in the column headed "Qualifications of persons to be elected," in order to insert the words" Registered nurses ( i.e., nurses registered in the general part of the register)."

    Page 3, by leaving out lines 31 to 42, inclusive.

    Page 3, line 43, by leaving out the words "the first," in order to insert the word "any."

    Page 3, line 45, by leaving out the word" that," in order to insert the word "such."

    Page 3, line 46, by leaving out the words 24th" and "November," and by leaving out the figure "1922," and inserting in lieu thereof "19—."

    Page 4, tine 2, by leaving out the words "1st" and "October."

    Page 4, line 3, by leaving out the figure "1922."and inserting in lieu thereof "19—."

    Page 4, line 41, by leaving out the words "of any class."

    Page 4, line 42, by leaving out the words "of that class."

    Page 4, line 46, by leaving out the words "of any class."

    Page 5, line 10, by leaving out the word "seven," in order to insert the words "twenty-one."

    Page 5, by leaving out lines 30 to 36, inclusive.

    Page 5, lines 45 and 46, by leaving out the words "the votes cast in each of the five parts of the voting papers being kept distinct."

    Page 5, by leaving out line 50.

    Page 5, line 51, by leaving out the words "requisite number of."

    Page 5, line 52, by leaving out all the words after "Returning Officer," to end of page.

    Page 6, by leaving out line 1.

    Page 6, line 2, by leaving out the words "who have the greatest number of votes.

    "Page 6, line 27, by leaving out sub-section (2).

    Page 7, Table, by leaving out the first seven figure; in the column headed "Number of persons to be elected," in order to insert the figure "11."

    Page 7, Table, by leaving out the first twenty-four lines in the column headed "Qualifications of persons to be elected," in order to insert the words "Registered nurses ( i.e., nurses registered in the general part of the register)."

    Page 8, by leaving out lines 1 to 12 inclusive.

    Page 8, line 13, by leaving out the words "the first," in order to insert the word "any,"

    Page 8, line 15, by leaving out the word "that," in order to insert the word "such,"

    Page 8, line 16, by leaving out the words "24th" and "November," and by leaving out the figure "1922," and inserting in lieu thereof "19—."

    Page 8, line 18, by leaving out the words "1st October 1922," in order to insert the words "day of 19—."

    Page 8, line 33, by leaving out the words "24th day of November 1922," in order to insert the words "day of 19—."

    Page 8, line 39, by leaving out the words" 24th day of November 1922," in order to insert the words day of 19—."

    Page 8, line 41, by leaving out the words "W. P. Herringham."

    Page 8, line 43, by leaving out the words "November 3rd 1922," in order to insert the word "(Date)."

    Page 9, line 20, by leaving out sub-section (4).

    Page 10, Form D, Ballot Paper I, by leaving out the words "Two Past or Present Matrons of Metropolitan General Hospitals with Training Schools. (Two Candidates only to be voted for)," in order to insert the words "Eleven Registered Nurses."

    Page 11, by leaving out page 11.

    Page 12, by leaving out page 12 down to "The voter must put a mark thus x against the name or names of the candidates for whom she votes," and by leaving out after the said words the words from "The voter" to "paper," in line 12, inclusive.

    Page 12, line 13, by leaving out the words "in any part of this ballot paper.

    "Page 12, line. 22, by leaving out the word "8th."

    Page 12, line 23, by leaving out the words "December 1922," in order to insert the word "19-."

    Page 13, at end, by leaving out the words "8th" and "December," and by leaving out the figure "1922," and inserting in lien thereof "19—."

    Page 14, at end, by leaving out the words "8th" and "December," and by leaving out the figure "1922," and inserting in lieu thereof "19—."

    This scheme has to be submitted to the House in prescribed form. The curious thing is that the election has been held although the scheme has never been submitted to the House of Commons, and the reason is this that although the General Nursing Council has had three years in which to prepare its scheme and present it to the Minister of Health for his approval, it has allowed these three years to elapse. A considerable period was occupied last year by a strike on the part of a majority of the members of the General Nursing Council. We in this House are accustomed to minorities, whether in the House or in Committee, going on strike temporarily, but I do not think there has been any previous case in which a large majority of a Council such as this have refused to function because they cannot get on with the minority. The result was that through no fault of the Minister of Health, the election had to take place without the scheme having been submitted to the two Houses of Parliament.

    The notice on the Order Paper is a most portentous thing, but I am glad to say that there are only three Amendments of substance, and they are capable of being briefly explained. The first deals with the qualifications of the people who represent the registered nurses on the Council. I shall be within the recollection of the House, at any rate of those hon. Members who were Members of the House four years ago, when I say that in the debates on the question of nurses' registration two points received very great stress. One was, that nurses were to be raised to the status of a profession, and the second was that they were to he independent in the choice of their representatives. Again and again speakers pointed out the desirability of registered nurses being free to choose their own representatives without dictation from the matrons. I do not wish to say a word against the matrons as matrons. They are a very admirable body, and a very distinguished body of women. I do not want to disfranchise them, and I do not want to deprive them of the privilege of being elected members of the General Nursing Council, but I do want to point out to the House that this scheme, for which the approval of the House is asked, requires that six of eleven representatives of the registered nurses shall be past or present matrons. That is not in consonance with the wishes of the House of Commons. It is all very well to say that, these ladies shall be entitled to be elected if the nurses want to elect them. Of course they ought to be, and they have a very good chance of being elected. Any matron who knows her business, and has been a good matron, has a better chance of election to the Council than a registered nurse who has not had the same opportunity of advertisement. Why six out of eleven representatives of the registered nurses should be past or present matrons I fail to see. There is nothing whatever to prevent the other five from being matrons of hospitals not having training schools. In other words under the scheme as it stands six of the representatives must be past or present matrons and the other five may be. The amendment I put forward is that the registered nurses should elect eleven nurses to represent them, and they may be matrons or not exactly as the nurses please. If the House adopts that suggestion it will be following a precedent set in Scotland.

    The second point is the amount of time to be given for the voting papers to be sent out. Voting papers according to these rules have to be sent out seven days before polling day. That is far too short a period. I am suggesting 21 days. The returning officer found it necessary at the last election to extend the period to 14 days, though he had no authority from the, Minister of Health to do it. The only other Amendment of substance deals with the powers of the returning officer. A very remarkable Clause enables the returning officer, if he makes a mistake, to sit in judgment on his own case, and decide that the work was well done, and that the error or informality does not invalidate the election. There is no reason for giving this power to the returning officer, especially when he himself is the person whose mistakes are to be excused. Bad mistakes were made at the recent election. One was that the secrecy of the ballot was violated. Voting papers were sent out with a space for the nurse's registered number, and when I asked a question in the House of Commons the ballot papers were withdrawn and a new election was held at a cost of some hundreds of pounds. This is the last opportunity of bringing this scheme before the House. I realise the difficulties which my right hon. Friend must have in dealing with this matter, because he is fresh to his important office, and although he has tackled its difficulties with characteristic courage and ability it is rather hard on him to ask him to accept these Amendments en bloc and without consulting the General Nursing Council. On the other hand the Registered Nurses' Parliamentary Council does not want to see these Rules, which it considers thoroughly bad, made a precedent. I would like to have some assurance from my right hon. Friend as regards

    the future.. I do not care about the past, for the Council has been elected for five years under these Rules, bad as they are. I do not want the revision of these Rules to wait for five years. If we can have an assurance from my right hon. Friend that the General Nursing Council will have these Amendments, which I venture to think are reasonable, brought to their notice and that they will be asked within, say, six months, or at any rate within twelve months, to consider these Amendments and put forward their prescribed scheme for the next election, that, I think, would go a long way to meet an undoubted grievance.

    I beg to second the Motion.

    When this Measure for the registration of nurses was introduced, I always had my doubts about its efficiency, and apparently it has been a failure, but I have a hope of the present Minister of Health doing something better than his predecessor. The nurses must be protected. Their livelihood, their profession —and it is a noble profession—is at stake in this matter. People have been brought in to nurse the sick who have had no experience, and this has been to the detriment of those nurses who have been thrown out of employment. Amendment of the scheme is absolutely essential, and I hope the Minister of Health will do what he has been asked to do and have the new rules put into operation.

    My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South-West St. Pancras (Major Barnett) recognises that I am placed in a somewhat difficult position in this matter. I have only been in office a few days, and it has been impossible for me to make such investigations into the ease the hon. and gallant. Member desires to present as would be necessary before I could accept the. Address on the Paper. In ordinary circumstances, I would have asked my hon. Friend to postpone the matter, and I am sure he would have done so in courtesy, but the difficulty is that this is the last of the 21 days allowed in which an Address may be presented to His Majesty, and, if my hon. friend withdraws his Resolution, unless he obtains some assurance from me, he is obliged to forego the right that is otherwise his. That is a position I ought to meet. If the Motion be withdrawn to-night, I will undertake to request the General Nursing Council to consider the amendments of my hon. friend, and ask them to draw up and submit to me such alterations as they may be prepared to make within the next 12 months. These alterations to the scheme, if they are approved by me, wilt be laid on the Table of the House, and will be open to discussion. If make that offer in the hope that my hon. friend will accept it as a fair compromise in the circumstances.

    I thank my right hon. Friend for what he has said, and for his endeavour to meet our case. With the leave of the House, I should like to withdraw the Motion.

    Motion, by leave, withdrawn.


    Again considered in Committee.

    [CAPTAIN FITZROY in the Chair.]