House Of Lords
Tuesday, 12th May, 1942.
The House met, The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.
The Earl of Albemarle—Sat first in Parliament after the death of his father.
The Earl of Denbigh—Sat first in Parliament after the death of his grandfather.
The Lord Auckland—Sat first in Parliament after the death of his kinsman.
Coal (Concurrent Leases) Bill Hl
My Lords, I ask leave to introduce a Bill to exclude from retention under Section five of the Coal Act, 1938, interests arising under certain concurrent leases, and for purposes connected therewith.
Moved, That the Bill be now read 1a .—( The Lord Chancellor.)
On Question, Bill read 1a ; and to be printed.
Business Of The House
My I Lords, I beg to move the Motion which stands in my name on the Paper.
Moved, That Standing Order No. XXXIX be considered in order to its being dispensed with for the purpose of passing the Anglo-Venezuelan (Island of Patos) Bill through its remaining stages.—( Viscount Cranborne.)
On Question, Motion agreed to, and ordered accordingly.
Meals In Hotels And Restaurants
My Lords, I desire to ask His Majesty's Government the following question of which I have given notice—whether they will explain the steps that they propose to take to deal with the problem of luxury feeding in hotels and restaurants.
My Lords, an Order is about to be made which restricts the number of courses in any meal served in a public restaurant to a maximum of three. The Order also enables me to prohibit the service of fish, game and poultry on certain days in the week, when I consider it necessary to take such action in order to enable domestic consumers to purchase a reasonable share of the supplies that are then available. The consumption of food in catering establishments will be prohibited between the hours of 11 p.m. in the provinces and 12 midnight in the Metropolitan Police District and 5 a.m. except to a resident in a hotel, or at catering establishments which have been specially licensed for the service of meals to night workers and travellers. The price of meals will be restricted to a maximum of five shillings. In order to prevent catering establishments from increasing their charges for other items so as to make up for the reduction in the charge for food, the Order will restrict the charge which can be made for dancing, cabaret, service when added to the bill, and for whisky, gin and beer served with a meal. Where necessary I may, by licence, in exceptional circumstances authorize a catering establishment which would not otherwise be able to remain open to make a "house charge" additional to the maximum charges permitted under the Order: but this will not increase the value of the food which such an establishment will be able to provide compared with other establishments. The amount of this "house charge" will be shown compulsorily on the menu. The general provisions of the new Order will come into operation on 1st June, but the issue of licences for the service of meals during prohibited hours and for giving authority for making a "house charge" may not be completed until 15th June.
My Lords, I desire to ask the noble Lord whether there is anything to prevent the "house charge," for example, being, say, more than is charged for a meal. Is any restriction on the amount of the "house charge" made or are there other unspecified charges mentioned in the Order?
My Lords, in reply to the noble Lord opposite I am advised that it is not proper in making an Order for the Minister to restrict himself, therefore I have not dealt specifically with that problem, but I can assure the noble Lord that the amount I shall permit as a whole will be very severely considered.
May I take it that the amount of the "house charge" will be subject to the noble Lord's sanction?
Entirely, and it will have to be supported by figures.
May I ask the noble Lord—because it is a little difficult to follow fully the very important statement which he has made—how far the prohibition of the service of meals between midnight in the Metropolitan area, or eleven o'clock elsewhere, and five o'clock in the morning will affect the position of canteens for members of His Majesty's Forces which will not be covered by the phrase he used as to night workers?
I am not sure whether the question is in order, but I have no hesitation in answering it. I should give a licence to such people.
Anglo - Venezuelan Treaty (Island Of Patos) Bill Hl
Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
My Lords, I rise to move the Second Reading of this Bill, which is both short and simple. It is concerned with two Treaties recently made by His Majesty's Government with the United States of Venezuela. The first of the two Treaties, which will be laid before Parliament as a White Paper, provides for the division between Trinidad and Venezuela of the sea bed of the Gulf of Paria. This is important to Trinidad on account of the potential oil-bearing areas involved. This Treaty will be laid before the House in the form of a White Paper. The Venezuelan Government have also made it clear that they have no claim on the Soldado Rock, which lies five miles from the shore of Trinidad in the southern half of the Gulf. The second of the Treaties provides for the cession of the tiny island of Patos, which lies in the Northern entrance to the Gulf of Paria and within Venezuelan territorial waters. The Gulf of Paria is a comparatively shallow arm of the sea lying between Trinidad and the Venezuelan coast. The island has for some time been claimed by Venezuela. It is about a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide, and has no inhabitants beyond the necessary police and customs officials and there is, of course, no question of any Trinidadians losing their British nationality as a result of the transfer.Although there are precedents for dealing by legislation with cases of cession of territory, such legislation, as your Lordships are aware, is not constitutionally necessary, but although only a cession of a very small area of British territory is involved, it was thought desirable to obtain Parliamentary approval of the Treaty before it is ratified. Finally I wish to make it clear that the actual cession is only part of a general agreement which is to the interests both of ourselves and of the United States of Venezuela. These Treaties are, in fact, a happy and all too rare example of an international question of which a solution has been found satisfactory to all concerned. The Bill is entirely non-controversial and I recommend it with confidence to your Lordships. I beg to move.
Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a .—( Viscount Cranborne.)
On Question, Bill read 2a : Committee negatived.
Then, Standing Order No. XXXIX having been dispensed with, Bill read 3a , and passed, and sent to the Commons.
rose to call attention to the high consumption of beer; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, the subject which I am raising to-day is one which has received far too little attention in Parliament during the war, far less attention than during the last war. It is indeed almost incredible, at a time when nearly everything of universal consumption is rationed or is going to be rationed, and when we have fervid appeals on the wireless to do with less of almost everything of general consumption, that nevertheless the consumption of beer should remain, and should have remained throughout the war, at about the highest point for the last tea years. According to the latest official figures, that is what has happened. Of course it is possible that the extra twopence per pint put upon beer by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the recent Budget will do a little to reduce consumption. Judging from the figures of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself he contemplates that this extra twopence will reduce consumption by one-tenth, but it is noteworthy that the previous threepence a pint put upon beer did not reduce consumption at all. However, the Chancellor of the Exchequer evidently thinks that the extra twopence will reduce consumption by about one-tenth.
Even so, the consumption of beer would remain about nine-tenths of that of 1939, which was the highest year for consumption in the last ten years. Of what else can that be said? Can you get nine-tenths of meat, nine-tenths of jam, nine-tenths of cheese, nine-tenths of butter, nine-tenths of eggs, nine-tenths of milk and so on? Your Lordships know perfectly well that the consumption of all these; very valuable foodstuffs has been most drastically cut down. You cannot get anything like that proportion of them. It is true that in some districts there is a shortage of beer, but that does not affect my argument. That is due to uneven distribution, to movement of population, to difficulties of transport and so forth. It does not alter the fact that over the country as a whole the consumption of beer has been at about the highest level for the last ten years. I know it is said that the specific gravity is lower, that the beer is weaker. That is true, but what that means is that more beer than ever is being consumed. It does not mean that there has been a reduction in the amount of foodstuffs diverted into the manufacture of beer. It simply means that there is more water in the beer. I do not object to that. In fact, I think it would be a good thing if it were all water.
But do not let people be deceived into thinking that, because the specific gravity is lower, there has been a saving in the foodstuffs used in the manufacture of beer. It really is not so. Actually the brewers have been using more barley than before the war, and this at a time when poultry keepers have had their barley cut down to nearly one-sixth: about five-sixths of their barley has gone. Despite all this, despite the urgent need for food, the Ministry of Agriculture have even urged the hop growers of Kent to increase their acreage this year by 10 per cent. If the consumption of beer were halved—I know that could not be done at once— it would release enough barley to feed about 18,000,000 hens, and that would be sufficient to give about four eggs per family per week throughout the country—a very different state of things from that which has been obtained. All this consumption of barley and also of sugar— because a large amount of sugar is used by the brewers—is for the benefit of a comparatively small section of the population, as I will prove to your Lordships, and I hold that to be grossly unfair.
The majority of the population, including the children—and of course they ought to be included especially in a matter of foodstuffs—do not drink beer or other alcoholic liquors at all, and they are suffering, very materially many of them, from this diversion of foodstuffs into the manufacture of beer. Let me carry this point a little further. There are, I suppose, somewhere about 30,000,000 people in the country over eighteen years of age. Now of those about 10,000,000 are teetotallers. Then, from 10,000,000 to 15,000,000 are what are called moderate drinkers. Thus there are probably about 5,000,000 to 7,000,000, of whom one-sixth are women, who drink heavily. And it is for this comparatively small proportion of the population, which amounts now, I suppose, to about 46,000,000, that this large usage of valuable foodstuffs is taking place. That seems to me to be altogether inequitable.
But the Government do nothing effective to deal with the drink problem. As I have said, the threepence a pint which they put on beer did nothing to reduce consumption. It is very difficult to reconcile this attitude of the Government with what has been said by various Ministers of the Government. I will quote to the Minister of Food; I will give him two or three instances of what I mean, including quotations from his own utterances. Mr. Oliver Lyttelton, the Minister of Production, said this:
"Whenever a ship makes an unnecessary-journey, whenever something we could do without, such as silk stockings, beer or private motor cars is delivered to the public, victory is postponed."
Then the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, said, and I have no doubt that he was quite right:
"The food situation is graver than it has ever been, and I cannot impress it upon you too strongly. Every extra hundredweight of food and every gallon of milk will count."
Now I come to the Minister of Food himself. Only a few weeks ago, he said:
"The time has come for a call for great personal austerity, austerity in living, austerity in working, and austerity in thinking."
I do not quite know what that means, but that is what he said, and he went on:
"I shall have to give you many opportunities for practising austerity."
Yes, my Lords, but there is not to be austerity in beer drinking. Beer is sacrosanct; it must not be touched. Now what is the defence for this policy, if it can be called a policy? I will try to put it as clearly as I can. First of all the Minister of Food has said that he must not use his powers to introduce social reform. There is really nothing in this point.
Please finish the sentence. I hope your Lordships will forgive me for interrupting, but this is the second time that the noble Lord has forgotten to finish a quotation.
I do not think that it makes any material difference. The point I am making is that the Government have passed a large number of measures, of a socialistic kind, during the war and no one has taken any particular objection to them because the Government have recommended them. Many measures of that description have been passed. Moreover in the last war—and this is a point which I wish especially to put to the noble Lord, the Minister of Food—the Food Controller was not deterred by any such considerations as the noble Lord has used, and he cut down drinking by nearly two-thirds. Then again the noble Lord, the Minister of Food, has said that it would be wholly wrong for him to use his powers to do something which would not pass a free vote of both Houses of Parliament.
That is the finish of the quotation.
There is nothing in that point. It is an entirely new doctrine in war-time, and I have not heard any one else put it forward, In the last war the Controller did not care a rap what any one thought: he went ahead and he did what he thought was right in the national interest. If the Government put it to Parliament that, in the national interest, in order to provide more foodstuffs for the people and for the children it was desirable that there should be some cut in beer, of course Parliament would support the Government whether the vote was free or not. If the noble Lord had been longer in Parliament he would know that, but of course he has not been in Parliament very long. As I have said, there is nothing in that point.The noble Lord also said:
Once again I say that, in the last war, drinking was cut down by nearly two-thirds. I do not say that everyone was pleased, I do not say that there was not some grumbling, but noble Lords who remember those days will agree that there was no material difficulty about the matter. I want to put this point to the Minister. Is it seriously argued that the essential characteristics of the working man have so changed in the last twenty-five years that whereas m the last war he was subjected to the most drastic curtailment—much more drastic than I propose—in the supplies of beer, yet in this war he will not submit to any cut, or to any cut worth speaking of? Is that the contention? If it is it will take a great deal of substantiating. The Liquor Control Board, in their Report in the last war, referred to the increased efficiency of the workers as the result of restrictions on drinking. Now we go to the argument so often used, that you must not reduce beer drinking because to do so would be a loss to the revenue. I have dealt with this subject before at some length, and no reply has been attempted to the considerations which I have advanced. I will just say a few words about it now. As a matter of fact several financial and economic authorities, including Chancellors of the Exchequer, have held that the revenue from drink is, on balance, dearly bought. Sir George Murray, when Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue, said that it was impossible for the State to make anything out of the liquor traffic; the profits never balanced the losses. What is the present position? The total revenue expected from beer in the current year is £209,000,000. Incidentally, the revenue expected from tobacco is £304,000,000, so that tobacco has beaten beer. Tobacco has, in fact, beaten the total revenue from beer and spirits, which is now about £271,000,000. In the current year, in all probability the country will spend on drink of all kinds well over £500,000,000, and on tobacco about £400,000,000, so that on drink and tobacco together the country will be spending nearly £1.000,000,000, which is nearly a quarter of its total war expenditure. As regards drink, this beer revenue of £209,000,000 is a little more than is. 6d. in the pound in relation to the total revenue of the country. That is not a very high proportion, and if, as a result of reducing it by degrees—not all at once—to half, there was on balance a deficiency for the lime being of, say, £50,000,000 there would not be the slightest difficulty in making that good by borrowing. In any case we shall be borrowing between £2,000,000,000 and £2,500,000,000 in the present year, so that an extra £50,000,000 is neither here nor there, especially bearing in mind that the net cost to the country of borrowing now, taking taxation into account, is only about one per cent. As a matter of fact—although I shall not take up time in dealing with this—there are many considerations which point to the fact that on balance the country would gain by reducing the consumption of beer. I have referred to what the Liquor Control Board have said, that even moderate drinking impairs to some extent the efficiency of the workers. If beer drinking was reduced there would be a bigger output, and any loss of revenue would soon be made good, and more than made good, by the increasing return of the Income Tax and of other taxes, owing to the beneficial effects of the decreased consumption of beer. In spite of this, the Minister of Food has consistently refused, although approached by deputation after deputation, to do anything; he has not done a single thing to deal with this problem. In fact, he belittles it, and he has said that very many people believe that a glass of beer does nobody any harm. That sentence is greeted with cheers, but surely the noble Lord knows, as other noble Lords know, that it is not simply a question of one glass of beer per man. I can refute the noble Lord by quoting one of his principal colleagues, the Minister of Labour, Mr. Ernest Bevin. On the one hand we have the noble Lord, the Minister of Food, saying:"You must not reduce beer drinking because otherwise the morale of the workers may be affected."
That is obviously an overstatement. I have now been in Parliament for nearly thirty years, and I always think that it is a great mistake to overstate one's case. That is obviously an overstatement, and I can refute it by quoting what was said by Mr. Ernest Bevin. Mr. Bevin did not say that at all. In seeking to justify his policy of wet canteens for war workers, he said:"There is not the slightest evidence that the amount of beer available at the present time is doing anything at all to reduce the output of munitions or to curtail the amount of work that is being done by the public."
It will require a great deal of ingenuity on the part of the noble Lord to reconcile that statement by Mr. Bevin with his own position. I know that there is a general idea in many quarters that there is not much drunkenness in the country at the present time. People often say to me: "There does not seem to be much drunkenness; I do not often see a drunken man." First of all, I should like to point out that my Motion does not deal with drunkenness; my Motion deals with the high consumption of beer, and the vast quantity of foodstuffs which is being diverted from more beneficial uses to the manufacture of beer. It is no reply to that whatever to contend that drunkenness is less than it used to be, even if that is true; and nobody knows whether it is true or not, because we have had no official statistics since 1938. In some places there is less drunkenness; in some places there is more. The last available official statistics, those of 1938, show that, as compared with 1932, drunkenness had increased by nearly 60 per cent. I say that there are no official statistics. Even if there were statistics now, they would not be comparable with the position before the war, because, as we all know, a certain amount of drunkenness is dealt with by the military authorities, and does not come before the civilian courts at all, and that fact has to be taken into account. I submit that it is only reasonable to assume that, as the consumption of beer has been at about the highest point for the last ten years, the amount of drunkenness has also been at that highest point. I think that that is a reasonable assumption, I put it to your Lordships and I leave it there. It is no use any one getting up and saying: "I do not think that there is more drunkenness." In London there has been a great evacuation, and probably there is less drunkenness there; but the fact remains that over a long series of years—I am not now dealing with the last ten years only—speaking broadly the curve of drunkenness corresponds with the curve of beer consumption. Therefore I think that I have proved my point, that the probability is that there is just as much drunkenness now as there was in 1938. It is at any rate very difficult to argue to the contrary. As a matter of fact, many Chief Constables have reported at the Brewster Sessions that there has been an increase of drinking amongst young people, and that is not surprising, having regard to the high wages which they are now receiving. There cannot be any argument about that. That is true in many districts, and particularly in Birmingham, where high wages are being paid and where more people are working than before the war. Before I pass on, I should like to give another quotation from a colleague of the noble Lord. This is from another noble Duke—the Dukes are doing very well in this matter! The noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, according to the Derbyshire Times of 27th February, said:"I did it deliberately, because I found that men who had to travel long distances to their homes were faced with temptation and that disastrous things were going on. I found that in dock areas and in other places some men working overtime went out and drank far too much."
That is going rather far; it is going much further than I have gone or suggested. I had even thought of asking the noble Duke whether he would say a word or two in support of my Motion, but his views are rather extreme. I should very much like to know what the noble Lord, the Minister of Food, has to say about that, and how he can reconcile his consistent refusal to do anything about beer with these words of his colleague the noble Duke. I know that it is customary to regard anybody in this or the other House who opposes the drink trade as a teetotal extremist. If that charge is brought against me, I am at any rate in very good company, for I find that at the present time the Prime Ministers of nearly all British Dominions are teetotalers, and the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland also; and many of the Dominions have done much more than the Mother Country to deal with this problem. The Mother Country has in fact done nothing to deal with it. I find further support for what I am saying in the words of Marshal Pétain, who said in August, 1940, not long after the fall of France:"If we are really going out for the war effort, no one would so much as smoke one cigarette, or drink one glass of beer, or indulge in any other luxury."
And a few days later the Vichy Government reported that alcoholism was one of the four main causes for the national collapse of France. Then your Lordships will remember—I know that my noble friend Lord Addison will remember very well because he was then in the Government—that Mr. Lloyd George in the last war said:"Alcoholism is destroying our race."
Therefore I submit that the attitude of the noble Lord opposite has been wrong, and that he ought to take steps to reduce very substantially the amount of barley and sugar which is being diverted into the manufacture of beer. I have tried to be fair and to put the case moderately. I am not emulating the noble Lord, Lord Snell. We know that he revels in polysyllabic verbiage, and at a meeting at which I was present he described beer as "unprofitable hog-wash." I have not done anything like that, it has not been necessary. It is not needful to go to extremes when your case is strong enough without, and I maintain that my case, is quite strong enough. I have endeavoured to rely on facts rather than on rhetoric, and I hope the noble Lord opposite will deal with the facts, and not deal with other facts of his own, but deal with my facts. I have great respect for the noble Lord, in spite of what I have said. He has a fine record at the Ministry of Food. He has done many great things there, things which, when he lays down his office, he will be able to look back upon with satisfaction and pride."Drink is doing more damage in the war than all the German submarines put together."
Yes, but his handling of the drink problem will not be one of them, I beg to move.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord at any rate for his closing words. I am afraid that I am not going to give him very much satisfaction to-day.
I did not expect it.
I gather that he takes a poor view of my colleagues as members of the Government, since the quotations he has made from their words are being used against me, and he does not know what I mean when I talk about austerity in thinking. I fail to understand what policy he is urging on His Majesty's Government. I know that there are people who, from a deep and religious conviction, regard the consumption of alcohol as an evil thing, and believe that the sale of it ought to be prohibited in this country. People who hold that belief have made great efforts to convince their fellow-citizens both of the righteousness and the wisdom of that view, and if they had succeeded the Government of this country would have expressed its views in legislative form.The noble Lord has not addressed the House as one who urges the complete prohibition of the sale of beer, but has urged that we should deliberately create a scarcity. In spite of his knowledge of the fact that beer has been difficult to obtain in many places during the past year, he urges us to reduce production by a half. I cannot conceive it as right that any Government should deliberately create a scarcity of an article in very wide consumption unless they were at the same time prepared to take steps to reorganize the distribution of this commodity so that all those who wanted it should have a fair share. I do not propose to add to the problems of the Government by rationing beer, and I wonder what the noble Lord would say if I were to come before this House and say that I proposed to ration beer. I venture to suggest to your Lordships that the noble Lord in the presentation of his view has done something less than justice both to the people of this country and to the Government. The Motion of the noble Lord calls attention to the high consumption of beer. That, I submit, is a somewhat misleading phrase. It is not the name that matters but the contents. The consumption of beer, in terms of its content of grain and alcohol, is not high. It has been systematically restricted to approximately the same level as before the war. The larger bulk barrel-age now being drunk consists of extra water—a beverage which in theory at least is approved by the highest authorities. In this country to-day we have a larger employed population than we have ever known. We have a large standing Army reinforced by troops of other nations. It is a well-recognized fact that men engaged in heavy work for long hours may find most congenial social recreation in the evening in a glass of beer with their friends. And I say, why should not they? In consequence one would normally expect beer consumption in the country at the present time to show a marked increase. Certainly there would be a danger that any severe restriction of it would result in widespread industrial discontent, as it did in the last war, with a harmful effect upon our war effort. Such actual increase as has taken place however has consisted of added water, not of more alcohol. There are three principal reasons which might be urged by different groups of critics for advocating the restriction of the amount of beer we produce. The first would be the view of the temperance reformer to which I have already alluded. On the assumption that alcohol is an unmitigated evil he would desire to see its production reduced to the lowest level. But that point of view does not command approval in this country and no democratic Government could adopt it. The noble Lord says that I have not been in Parliament as long as he has. I agree. But at any rate I have a profound respect for Parliament, and it would be wrong, in my opinion, for any Minister to use the powers that are given him under exceptional circumstances to bring in laws which would not receive the consent of Parliament if they were submitted to it. The second ground would be the interference with our war effort caused by drunkenness. The noble Lord has referred constantly to what happened in the last war, but he has not compared the relative strengths of the beer in the last war and in this war. It was the amount of drunkenness in the last war that was the sole ground that determined the steps which were taken to control the sale of liquor in this country. Surely we have a story to tell here that is creditable to the people of this country—and creditable to the way His Majesty's Government have managed this problem. At the present time there is no evidence that drunkenness is interfering with our war industries. On the contrary all the evidence goes to show that, in spite of the fact that the working population have more money in their Dockets than for many years past, and have fewer objects upon which they can congenially spend it, the amount of drunkenness in the country since the war has declined. Let me quote you the figures of prosecutions for drunkenness. The noble Lord said there were no figures—that is the opposite of austerity in thinking. In the year 1914 in the county boroughs of this country 75,000 people were prosecuted; in 1939, 22,000; in 1941, 18,608, or one quarter of the 1914 total, and 15½ per cent. below the 1939 level. I am assured by the Home Office that these figures may be regarded as typical of the trend in the country as a whole. In the Metropolitan Police District prosecutions for drunkenness in 1941 were only one-sixth of those in 1914 and nearly 30 per cent. below the 1939 level. In Scotland the figures are most encouraging. In Glasgow, in 1914, 11,317 people were convicted of drunkenness; in 1938, 5,800; in 1941, 3,182. In Dundee since the outbreak of war the convictions have dropped by 30 per cent. In Scotland as a whole the figures have dropped from 11,700 in 1940 to 9,055 in 1941. These figures show pretty clearly that there is no rise in drunkenness during the present war such as was experienced in the first years of the last war, and that there is no reason on this ground for urging a reduction in the supply of beer. Substantially we began in this war where they left off in the last war. Let us give ourselves some praise for toe restraint we have learnt! There remains the third ground to which the noble Lord has drawn attention: the saving of foodstuffs and the increase in supply of other forms of food which would result from a reduction in the amount of grain allocated to the brewing industry. It is the business of Government to estimate the relative national advantage of food and shipping usage and to give priorities accordingly. It is of course obvious that if the grains which have been utilized for brewing had not been so used they would have been available for some other purpose such as the feeding of pigs or hens. But it would be a mistake to assume that such a diversion of their use would have had any very marked effect upon the general level of food supply in this country. In the first place it must be remembered that when grain is used as an animal feeding stuff, only a very small proportion of it ultimately materializes in the form of meat or eggs. The bulk of it is used up by the pigs or hens in the maintenance of their own private lives; 360,000 tons of barley would produce 50,000 tons of additional pigmeat. Assuming that beer production had been cut in half, and that the barley thus saved were all given to poultry, it has been calculated that the net result would be sufficient to feed 7,000,000 hens—not 18,000,000, as the noble Lord said. The result, I am told—and I only repeat the calculation that has been made—is that we should have an increase of one egg per month. This egg, however welcome, would be dearly bought at the expense of the very widespread discontent and, maybe, a decline of industrial production which would follow so drastic a cut in the beer supplies. It is perfectly true that my very respected predecessor in office, Lord Rhondda, in the last war did cut down the beer supply. It is also true that he had to put some of it back because of the amount of industrial discontent and the loss of industrial production that resulted. But that story of the use of the grain and the egg is not the whole story. The grain used in brewing is not utterly destroyed in the process. Brewers' grain results—a valuable cattle food, fed to dairy herds, one of the best types of fodder for stimulating milk production. In spite of what the noble Lord said about nothing having increased during the war—everything else having dropped—milk consumption has increased by 200,000,000 gallons during this war. I need not enter into any discussion of the food value of beer itself, which is subject to varying estimates from people with different prepossessions, but if the noble Lord will refer to a report to the Board of Trade by a Committee of the Royal Society in 1917 he will see that no use of the barley short of direct employment as a bread stuff—a use to which we have not needed to resort—would result in a larger supply of human food than its conversion into beer and milk. I have, perhaps, taken a view rather antagonistic to the noble Lord. I have not said the last word on this subject on behalf of His Majesty's Government. We do not know what the future position will be. I have spoken of the position as it is now, and as it has been up to now. I agree that we have to examine and reexamine, almost day by day, the uses of the foodstuffs that we have available. I can assure the noble Lord that we shall continue to study these foodstuffs so as to give to the country the best possible use of all the things that are available. We do not want to consider this only in terms of the human body. We shall consider it also in terms of the human mind, and the psychological as well as "he nutritional factor has to be taken into account. Let me just say one other thing. I was among those—not with such extreme views as, in my opinion, the noble Lord had—who were very anxious to see some reduction in the amount of excessive drunkenness that there was, particularly among the poorer section of the population, in the slums of this country 25 years ago. Then the thing for which all of us begged and prayed was a light drink which the working people of the country might have that would give them more pleasure and satisfaction without the bestiality that followed from excessive drinking. We have got that beer now, people are enjoying it, and it is doing them at any rate very little harm. I have at some length outlined to your Lordships the policy that on behalf of His Majesty's Government I have pursued, and the policy that I intend to pursue. I believe that it is one which is meeting with the approval of the country. I know it is one which will meet with the approval of your Lordships' House.
My Lords, before the Motion is withdrawn I would like to say two or three things. We have; had the usual unsatisfactory and disappointing reply from the noble Lord. It is exactly what I expected. He said just the same a year ago. He did not bind himself to the future a year ago. He said precisely the same thing, and I have no doubt if he is still at the Ministry, which may not be the case, he will say just the same again twelve months hence. He says that it is difficult to conceive any reason why the Government should reduce beer consumption. I am not going through the argument again. It is really a very extraordinary statement to make. There is no real argument about it, and to compare two things, as he did when the difference is not as glaring as the noble Lord suggested, is to put the matter quite unfairly. The noble Lord says the content of the beer—I suppose he means the alcoholic content—is not high. As regards barley the brewers are using more barley than before the war, or at least they were doing so two or three months ago, but the twopence a pint may have made a small difference. My information is that in 1939 the consumption of beer and of the materials which make beer was at the highest point for ten years, and to come here and say that the content is not high is misleading seeing that the consumption of beer is the highest or thereabouts for ten years.The noble Lord also said that we have a large standing Army here reinforced by other nations, but he did not point out to your Lordships what a large number of our troops we have sent abroad. He did not say anything about those troops, and I suggest that they should be taken into account if you are to take into account the troops which have come here from abroad. The two should be balanced one against the other. He said also, amidst the usual murmur of applause, "Why should not a man have a glass of beer?" He says there is no evidence of any widespread industrial effects, or, in fact, any effects at all from beer drinking. Against what the noble Lord says I would point out that I quoted the words of Mr. Ernest Bevin, who said bad things were going on as a result of beer drinking, and I prefer the evidence of Mr. Ernest Bevin, who is Minister of Labour. I think his word should hold the field. Further, the noble Lord said it would be wrong of him to do something which would not receive the consent of Parliament. How was it, then, that in the last war Parliament agreed with practically no opposition—I was there myself—to a reduction bigger than I suggest, a reduction of nearly two-thirds on drinking? Does the noble Lord seriously tell your Lordships that if the Government came forward and said they had come to the conclusion, as so many other things are rationed, that it was necessary to have some cut in beer, that the Government would be thrown out?
No, certainly not.
Very well then, Parliament would pass it. The noble Lord admits that, so there is nothing in that point at all. He asks whether I want beer rationed. No, I do not want beer rationed; I want it cut down as it was cut down in the last war; perhaps not so much as it was then, but I do want it cut down. The noble Lord talked about figures relating to drunkenness and gave the figures for London. I have already pointed out that the population of London is much less than it was before the war. I have also pointed out—and it is most important—that I am bringing no charge whatever against the troops. I have the greatest sympathy with these men, but the noble Lord's figures do not include the drunkenness dealt with by the military authorities. I myself have seen lying in the gutter a soldier dead drunk and two police not far away; if he had been a civilian, the soldier would have been arrested, but he was not, and the police did nothing. I am not complaining. I am sorry for the poor fellow. He would be dealt with by the military authorities when he got back to camp. But let us have fair figures if we are to have figures. You must take the civilian figures as I gave them. These show that consumption is at the highest point or thereabouts for ten years, and it is only reasonable to suppose that drunkenness is about the same whatever the Home Office say about civilian statistics, which do not really cover the ground. Then the noble Lord says that if beer consumption were reduced the barley thereby set free would be sufficient for feeding only 7,000,000 hens, not 18,000,000, as I said. My figures were those of the Ministry of Agriculture.
My figures were supplied by that Ministry.
Mine were quoted from the official statement of the Ministry of Agriculture last year. The Ministry said it would make a difference, if the matter were dealt with in a certain way, to the feeding of 18,000,000 hens. After the last discussion on this matter the noble Lord was good enough, and I appreciate it very much, to enter into a correspondence with me which went on for some months. I did not accept the figures of the noble Lord.
Perhaps you would direct your remarks to the noble Duke who represents the Ministry of Agriculture.
I shall direct them to what was said by the Ministry of Agriculture last year. There is evidently some discrepancy which requires explanation. I could go on, but I am not going to do so. The noble Lord has not really replied to my point. He rides off on points of his own. That is not debate, whatever else it may be, but I do not think it worth while to take the matter further. I therefore beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
Fuel Supplies And Rationing Proposals
had given Notice that he would call attention to the prospective fuel shortage, due to the Government's miscalculations, and to their proposals for dealing with it; and aiso move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, before I do my best to draw your attention to certain disquieting features in the present fuel situation and to the very tentative proposals of the Government for dealing with it, I must, I think, begin by asking your Lordships' indulgence. I am in no sense, as undoubtedly a number of your Lordships are, an expert in either the lighting or the fuel industry. I speak only as a citizen, as a consumer, as one who prefers warmth and light unless and until it has been conclusively proved that darkness and cold are in the national interest. I hope to voice something of the concern and misgivings undoubtedly felt by very large numbers of the general public—concern at what certainly appears to be the inertia and lack of foresight which have permitted this situation to arise, and misgivings at the expensive, cumbrous and unreliable character of the only measure for dealing with it so far disclosed by His Majesty's Government.
I would begin by reminding your Lordships of the very barest outline of the fuel situation of the moment, for that I think is the most serviceable method of seeing the problem in its proper perspective. Before the war we were producing somewhere in the region of 280,000,000 tons of coal a year, of which I suppose a good deal more than 50,000,000 tons found their way abroad as exports. To-day, with the man-power enormously reduced for various reasons;, including the loss of 70,000 miners to other industries and to the Forces, we are producing, I believe, just over 205,000,000 tons a year. The President of the Board of Trade says that he must have another 10,000,000 tons going into the factories, and he proposes to get those 10,000,000 tons by cutting them off the coal which has been so far going to light and heat the homes of the people. That is the coal situation of the moment—10,000,000 tons at issue, under 4 per cent. of our annual output before the war and a little under 5 per cent. of our reduced output to-day.
That is the proportion of the problem which we are discussing—a little under 5 per cent. of our reduced annual output to-day—and it is because the Government judges it impossible to increase its present production by that 5 per cent. that it is proposed to create many thousands of bureaucrats to restrict our consumption of cod in the future—coal, my Lords, which unlike almost every other material of modern warfare, has not to be carried to us across distant and perilous oceans, coal which Providence has seen fit to place under the soil of these islands in, great variety and in almost limitless abundance. The people will readily understand, and indeed welcome, the rationing of commodities which they know can only be brought to them at the risk of the lives of their friends and relatives who sail the seas, but they will find it very difficult to understand or to welcome the rationing of a commodity of which they have been brought up to believe Britain would never need to go short.
It is not as if the Government have not had plenty of time to foresee these difficulties and to plan some means of forestalling them. For example, a Select Committee on National Expenditure was appointed early in the war in another place expressly to advise His Majesty's Government on problems of this nature. As long ago as July, 1940, that Select Committee drew attention to the necessity of very great foresight with regard to the electrical industry. That was very nearly two years ago, but so far nothing has been done. On March 6, 1941, the same Committee stressed the necessity of transferring labour into the mining areas and urged that men should not be permitted to leave the mines for the Forces or the Civil Defence Services. That was fourteen months ago and still the Government pursued, so far as we know, the same policy of masterly inactivity until the eleventh hour. In February this year the same Select Committee went so far as to press for the speedy return of skilled mine workers from the Forces into the mines. For another two and a half months since then the unreturning water has been flowing under the bridges.
Now the Government are beginning to talk about calling some 7,000 men out of the Forces and some 4,000 men out of various Civil Defence Services and out of general industry. That is 11,000 men in all, out of, according to the best reckoning I have been able to obtain, somewhere about 70,000 miners who have left the mines for industry and for the Forces. It is obvious, of course, that these 11,000 men who have left the mines and have wasted their time in being trained for some other task which now they will never have to perform, and have now to retrace their steps to their mines, represent at least a very dangerous degree of waste and a reprehensible degree of lack of foresight. There are those, and I must confess I am one of them, who hold that 11,000 is not enough to recall from the Forces and from the Civil Defence Services and from general industry—that very many more, something of the order of 25,000 or 30,000, should probably be recalled—and that probably there are numberless counterparts of that case, which was quoted the other day in public in another place, of the soldier who wrote that he was eating his heart out to return to the mines where he had twelve years' experience as a hewer and at the same time to serve, as he suggested, in the Home Guard, but that he was always told that he must continue washing down floors as a private in the Royal Army Medical Corps.
Accepting the official view that only 11,000 men ought now to be reclaimed from the various places to which they were sent from the mines in this highly and increasingly mechanized warfare of to-day it is surely obvious, and has long been obvious, that a skilled miner is, or may be, at least as valuable as a skilled soldier, and that the industry which is the foundation of all our war efforts, and in which in any case we have already going on a wastage of 25,000 men a year, should never have permitted anything like 70,000 of its workers to go elsewhere. All this, of course, is largely mere crying over spilt milk; yet it has this painful degree of relevance that it is against this background of the short-sightedness which has diminished our production that we have to consider the proposals of the Government for restricting our consumption.
Faced with the necessity of meeting this deficit of 10,000,000 tons, a little under 5 per cent. of our annual output, what would be the instinct of the ordinary man? I suggest that his instinct would be to close that gap, partly by making a far more intensive and better-planned drive for economy than has ever been attempted yet, and partly by producing more coal—rather than by creating an army of bureaucrats to prevent our using coal. There is, unfortunately, a certain type of official mind which, faced with a situation of that kind, does instinctively, rather than increase production, turn to creating a very large new number of officials in order to restrict consumption. There is a well-marked type of mind for which every new official is a step towards the new Jerusalem, a type of mind which greets new forms and coupons and ration books with warm approval as something seemly and inspiring in themselves. That is not a type of mind I think which is largely represented in your Lordships' House, but it exercises considerable power in the country. The present distinguished holder of the office of President of the Board of Trade who bears no shadow of responsibility for the present impasse, the damnosa hereditas to which he succeeded, was nurtured and cradled from his student days onwards in the creed of Fabianism, the creed of bureaucracy in excelsis.
Faced with the problem of this 10,000,000 tons the President of the Board of Trade turned first not, so far as we can discover, to the coal miner or the coal owner, or even to that much neglected individual the coalmine manager, the man who has technical knowledge and experience
of coal production, but to a very distinguished academic Socialist, Sir William Beveridge. He did not ask Sir William Beveridge to solve the coal problem, he asked him to prepare a rationing scheme—a very different thing. Even so, Sir William Beveridge seems to have had not inconsiderable misgivings. He has told us that his first instinct was to turn to increased production rather than restricted consumption, but that was not in his terms of reference. To quote his own words he concluded that:
"… since rationing on certain conditions is certainly practicable the case for rationing is made out."
That seems to me, I must admit, a very large and a very curious assumption. I do not know what would be thought if a burglar said that, since burglary on certain conditions is practicable, the case for burglary is made out.
Within a month—and an eleventh hour plan cannot be very long a-hatching—Sir William Beveridge has produced his scheme, but even now the Government are by no means irrevocably wedded to it. In the words of the President of the Board of Trade:
"I repeat the Government are not committed to this plan nor at this stage are the Government committed to any particular plan."
That was said last week in another place. It is not perhaps very decisive leadership in a moment of crisis, but it is at least entirely in line with the record of our coal policy, since it is precisely because for the last two and a half years, and indeed the last twenty years, the Government have not been committed to any particular plan that we find ourselves where we are to-day.
The scheme for rationing put before the country is based, needless to say, upon a formidable new army of officials. How many there will be it is very difficult indeed to say. Sir William Beveridge, himself, suggests 10,000 to 15,000. The President of the Board of Trade, with an engaging gesture of deprecation, tells us that this army will consist partly of old men, and that some of the work is so simple that it might even be done by young children. Whether that particular combination of precocity and senility will, in fact, be attempted or not, I think that there is one principle which your Lordships would do very well to remember, a principle deeply rooted in British history and in human nature, and that is that a temporary Government official always tends to become permanent. But—and this is the really formidable point—this army of Sir William Beveridge's, based on 15,000 clerks, contains no allowance whatever for a vast increase, which all the best expert opinion agrees must be necessary, in the numbers of official meter readers.
I do not know how many of your Lordships have encountered a meter reader. But there are numerous people who follow the reputable calling of meter reader for gas and electricity undertakings. At present the meter reader has a comparatively simple task. He simply calls at your Lordships' back door, glances at the meter, enters two figures in two different records, and is off. But now he has got to calculate how many coupons the housewife is owing, and to persuade her to surrender them. It may well be that there will be a lively barrage of questions to answer, that there will be a fairly sustained argument. Or it may be that the housewife will not be in, and will have locked the drawer in which the coupons are kept, so that there will be inquiries next door and perhaps a return visit by the meter reader. A reckoning made by a prominent undertaker in the electrical industry, and borne out by calculations made by officials of two large boroughs, indicates that no fewer than 20,000 additional permanent meter readers will be needed to work the Beveridge scheme quite apart from Sir William's own 15,000 clerks. That seems to me the most formidable feature in the scheme, quite apart from the numerous anomalies and oversights natural in a hurried, eleventh-hour scheme. It would not be at all difficult to quote instances of these, but I do not propose to waste your Lordships' time with them now.
The President of the Board of Trade, himself, has said that cold and darkness are harder to bear than bombs. That is very true. Bombs mean the enemy, and every man will brace his resolution to meet the enemy. But the assault of cold and darkness is impersonal and insidious and slow, and very much more dangerous, therefore, in the long run to national morale. And there will always be the misgiving that these additional sacrifices need not have been demanded if only we had planned in time. Before the Government decide deliberately, officially, to organize cold and darkness at the cost of 15,000 extra clerks and 20,000 additional meter readers, will not they, even now, seriously consider whether it may not be possible to obtain this extra five per cent. of coal by increased production combined with all those savings which I am convinced are possible, without any coupon rationing scheme whatever?
As to increased production, I have already suggested that there are many who think that, unwelcome though it would be to the Army, unwelcome though it would be to the Civil Defence Services, and unwelcome though it would doubtless be to general industry, more than the 11,000 out of the 70,000 who have left the mines should be recalled to them now. Then, surely, enough use has not been made of that much-neglected individual, the mine manager—the man who really has the technical knowledge of production. Whenever we get into a difficulty with the mines we read that "the two sides" as we rather invidiously call them, have met—the owners and the miners. We very seldom hear of the mine manager—the impartial technical expert whose whole life is devoted to increasing production. I think that it was Sir Richard Redmayne who said, the other day, that he was sure the mine managers, if consulted, could do much towards the production of this extra 10,000,000 tons without the rationing scheme proposed.
Then again, as to increase of production, a very distinguished member of the Select Committee on National Expenditure said, the other day, that if absenteeism in the mines could be reduced to its pre-war dimensions the necessary extra coal could be obtained without any rationing whatever. Would His Majesty's Government say whether that, or anything like it, is true? It was said publicly, the other day, that at one large colliery absenteeism rose to 20 per cent. at the week-ends. Now it is not for me to criticize the miners, who do a hard and dangerous job for an insignificant reward, and often under most unsatisfactory conditions, and where there is absenteeism, very often it can undoubtedly be explained by circumstances which reflect no discredit whatever on the miners—causes ranging from the higher average age of the miners to forces deep-rooted in the political and economic history of the last fifty, and, indeed, of the last hundred, years. Nevertheless, when we remember that a skilled industrial worker to-day is just as truly in the forefront of the national war effort as a skilled soldier himself, and when we remember how unthinkable absenteeism would be in the Fighting Services, we are bound, I think, to conclude that there must be a very deep-seated maladjustment somewhere in an industry which can tolerate increasing absenteeism at a moment like this.
It is said that the machinery for dealing with absenteeism in the mines is not effectively used. It is said, for example, that the pit production committees, which consist of equal numbers of representatives of management and men, have sometimes had the experience of reporting to the National Service Officer a number of persistent absentees in their pits, only to find that six months later they receive an answer from the Regional Officer that no prosecution will be undertaken; and it is said that this experience undermines discipline in the pits and renders the efforts of the pit production committees nugatory. Whether that is so it is difficult to say. The nation recognizes that the miners as a whole are a magnificent body of men, who have never yet had a square deal, and that is why it is so difficult for any one to voice or to hear criticism of the miners. Nevertheless, I think that the Government should bear in mind that there will be bitter resentment among large numbers of the general public if there is to be a drastic rationing of coal so long as there is still increasing absenteeism and so long as there are strikes in the mines.
There was a letter in The Times early this month in which the writer, a Member of Parliament, said that in one large coalfield which he knew, the miners, the owners and the managers were agreed that an increase not of 5 per cent. (which is all that we need), but of 10 per cent., could be obtained without undue strain on any of those concerned, provided that the miners knew that the extra profits earned were not to go into the pockets of the owners, and providing that some sort of miners' charter, safeguarding their rights, was drawn up. That again points to the fact that extra production is possible, and that the obstacles to it are very largely moral and psychological.
That leads me to the point that it has been proposed by, among others, the National Council of Labour that the State should requisition the mines and place them under a national authority representing the State, the owners and the miners. I do not know whether the Government will consider that such a change is feasible at a moment of crisis such as this; but, if there were sufficient agreement to make it possible, I for one, and I believe a number of your Lordships, would welcome it. The nation now owns its own coal, and it is only reasonable that it should be the duty of the Government to see that what the nation now owns is efficiently administered. We have, after all, to remember the alternative. The alternative seems to be to sit down tamely under a reduction of output, to accept the principle that we have to cut our coat to suit our cloth, and, once we have accepted that half-hearted principle, we may find next year that the cut has to be even more drastic, and the year after that more drastic still, until the cold and the darkness have a catastrophic effect on national morale.
Finally, cannot we do something more to save coal than has yet been attempted? I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that if a hundredth part of the energy and propaganda which have gone into Warships Weeks and the like had been put into a campaign for economy in the use of coal, we should never have found ourselves where we are to-day. Much of the half-hearted propaganda that has been done has been entirely contradictory. One week we have been exhorted to save and store coal, and a few weeks later there is a rather querulous scolding of those who have stored coal, on the ground that they are hoarders. What of electric lights blazing all day in some of the London railway termini? What of the municipal electricity showrooms? I passed one last week in which I counted 143 electric lights blazing all through the shopping hours. Driving into London by motor coach this morning, I noticed in one row of shops that more than half had apparently all their ground-floor lights on at noon. A whisper of serious official propaganda would have ended all that sort of waste long since. Could there not be closer examination of the uses to which coal is put, at any rate by some of the largest consumers, some of the industrialists who are using upwards of a hundred tons a week? It is difficult to believe that there are not some economics which could be made there.
In the last resort, of course, it is for the Government to decide. Only the Government know the facts, and only the Government bear the responsibility. But, if there is to be rationing by means of coupons, I trust that the Government will do everything possible to make it fair. There are bound to be many minor anomalies and many small, irritating injustices. Those we shall have to accept with a good grace; but at any rate let there be sacrifices all round—always provided that we preserve a due proportion between rich and poor. I have seen a statement made, I think, by the President of the Board of Trade, that under the Beveridge scheme quite a number of people will be better off than before. Unless that statement referred—and there was no evidence that it did—to persons so poor that they actually suffered from cold and darkness last winter, I see no reason why anybody should be better off for light and heat than before. People will accept any sacrifice for victory if they are convinced that it is unavoidable, if they know that the efforts made to avoid it have been comparable to those demanded of the Fighting Services, and if they can be sure that the scheme is simple, just and easy to understand. I very much hope that the measures which His Majesty's Government have yet to announce will be found to fulfil those conditions. I beg to move.
My Lords, I have not come to this House with any prepared speech, but the subject which the noble Lord has raised is one which has given me and those with whom I am associated, both in the coal and the electrical industries, a great deal of thought, and that justifies my saying a few words. I should first of all like to repudiate as strongly as I can some words which were uttered by Mr. Arthur Greenwood in another place on May 7, when he stated that the electricity industry and the coalowners, whom he called "the vested interests," had entered into a deliberate campaign with a view to protecting selfish interests. The electricity industry and the coalowners repudiate that charge. We have told Sir William Beveridge that we will do our utmost to carry out any plan which the Government desire to establish to help the production of coal or to deal with the situation which has arisen. If the Government have any plan for rationing, we shall do our best to put it into operation and to support it.But we have our views, and we have not been consulted with regard to the rationing of coal. We are in a position to criticize any plan. Mr. Dalton, the President of the Board of Trade, has stated that the Government are not wedded to the scheme which they have put forward. A member in the other House has put forward a scheme for dealing with electricity and gas based upon his particular knowledge of these industries, and it is called the Gridley scheme. To my mind that scheme has great advantages over the scheme put forward by Sir William Beveridge, who was called upon, without any real knowledge of these industries, to propose a rationing scheme. I am quite aware that a great number of people in this country are not prepared to accept that scheme wholeheartedly. I was talking to some of the miners in Durham yesterday, and they told me that they did not see their way to accept the rationing of their coal. In the mining villages of Durham and Northumberland coal is part of the miners' wages; they are entitled to their coal as part of their wages. Are the Government going to reduce the amount of coal which these men consume in their own homes? They are not prepared to accept wholeheartedly any scheme of rationing which will reduce their wages. Points such as those seem never to have been considered by the Government. There are many coalfields in which the miners get their coal on reduced terms—they pay much less than the general public have to pay. Those men regard that privilege which they have obtained from their employers as part of their remuneration. And they do not want to have their coal consumption curtailed, because they require coal to provide the warmth which is essential to men engaged in their calling. They require their fires in many cases to dry their own clothes as well as to cook, and they do not want their coal diminished under the Government rationing scheme. And so I might go on with the cases of a great number of other small people. Moreover, a rationing scheme is already in existence for the diminution of coal consumption. Why do the Government propose to set up a body of 20,000 people to look after the reduction of coal consumption when there is already in existence a scheme under which everybody in the country is liable to have his coal consumption diminished? Every individual is now registered with a coal merchant, and there are coal controllers in every district. It seems to me absolutely unnecessary to produce a new coal rationing scheme involving an enormous staff, who will be looking forward probably, as the noble Lord has said, to the day when they will remain permanently in the public pay. Reference has been made to the question of meter reading in connexion with gas and electricity consumption. Meter reading is a very difficult job if you are going into it carefully and have to make calculations every time you read a meter. The meters are often in outside and very difficult positions, where it is not easy even to read the records of consumption. It will require three times as many meter readers as are required at present if you are going also to deal with consumption of electricity and gas. Those officials will all need petrol in order to go from house to house to do their meter reading, and the amount of paper which is going to be wasted under a scheme of this kind is perfectly absurd. I think we must differentiate between rationing of coal and rationing of gas and electricity. In the case of the coal industry it is very easy to control the consumption under the existing arrangements which have been in force for two years. In the case of gas and electricity, under the Gridley scheme instead of the proposed rationing system, you could penalize anybody who consumed a greater quantity than he consumed a year before. There may be hard cases. A great number of people in this country have already done everything they could to economize in fuel, electric light and gas, and the wastage which exists at the present time does not so much occur in the ordinary household, but is very largely due to restaurants, hotels, shops and public places, where a great deal of waste is going on. I feel that consumption might be considerably reduced by penalizing people who waste electricity or gas. That might be left to the industry, who understand the system of penalizing those who do not reduce consumption. Of course, there will be hard cases. In any scheme of that kind there must be an appeal to some authority who would be able to go into the circumstances of the requirements and needs of the premises concerned, so that justice may be done and equitable arrangements made as between one consumer and another. There are one or two points to which the noble Lord referred. He spoke of the miners. Nobody has a greater opinion of the English miners than I have. Every time that I went to the poll in my constituency as a candidate for the county council or for Parliament, they voted for me to a man. I have a great belief in the miners because they are straightforward and a fine lot of men, and they make probably the best soldiers we have in this country. At the same time, whilst we do require more miners to be brought into the industry—and I am not going to dwell on that at the present moment—what I do feel is that the miners have a real grievance. What is contributing to their lack of production at the present time is discontent, and why are they discontented? They are discontented because they see all around them people to whom the Government are paying much higher wages than they receive in their own industry. They have girls and boys coming into their houses day after day with more money than they themselves can get when they go underground. It is not unreasonable that they should be discontented with their wages. Those of us who manage collieries know well enough that high wages do not mean more production. At the same time the miners have a real grievance in the fact that they are not receiving the same pay as the Government give to people who are doing much less vital work in the interest of the war and for their country. The difficulty is how to induce the miners to avoid this absenteeism. Absenteeism is mainly due to the fact that the miner has always acted on a voluntary condition in connexion with his labour. He is no longer allowed to choose the colliery to which he goes. He has to work where he is put, and there he remains. A great number of men, under the Essential Works Order—only a small minority, I admit—feel that it does not matter how much work they do, they are bound to be paid, unless they are pieceworkers, their standard rate of pay; that whether they work or not, they will receive the rate of pay to which they have been accustomed. That will not encourage work, and if they are discontented owing to finding that other people are getting much higher wages, I am not surprised that there is a certain amount of absenteeism and a certain amount of shirking of hard work which otherwise might be done. My own feeling is that if the men like to do their utmost—100 per cent. of them—the 10,000,000 tons to which the noble Lord refers can easily be obtained even at the present time. The difficulty is to satisfy the miner in his work, having regard to the fact that his wages are so much less than those which are paid by the Government or by contractors in the factories or in building barracks, aerodromes, and munition works. That is really the root of the trouble in the industry at the moment. I cannot say exactly what the remedy should be. We, as coal owners, repudiate what Mr. Greenwood has said with regard to vested interest. First of all, two-thirds of the electricity undertakings in this country are not in the hands of private enterprise utility companies; they are run by municipal organizations. A large number of gasworks in the country are also run by municipalities. I cannot speak for the gasworks, because I have not been a director of a gas company for the last sixty years, but I was a director at one time. The position is a very serious one in connexion with the production of coal. We feel that there are a certain number of men who are influenced by political motives at the present time in not doing their utmost. A scheme has been put forward by the Miners' Federation in order to try and secure control of the industry by the Government and by themselves, with the owners. The experience of the last war has taught us a good deal. We were under private enterprise in the last war until about 1917. At that period we produced 19.41 cwt. per shift. The Government look control of the industry, such as is now being suggested by the miners, under a more or less national scheme. Production gradual y fell from 19.41 cwt. per shift to 14.36 cwt. It was not until after Mr. Lloyd George found he was losing £40,000,000 a year in conducting the industry under national control that he turned the industry back to private enterprise, and in 1921 we raised the amount of production from 14.36 to over 18 cwt. per shift. These figures, which have been stated by Mr. Lee, the Director of the Mining Association, in the Economist on April 28, speak for themselves in regard to whether private enterprise or nationalization of the industry is an advantage to the community. We, as coal owners, believe that a man who is trying to make a success of a business is a much better servant of the State than an official who is paid by the State and whose remuneration does not rest on the success of his efforts. We also realize that, where you have public servants appointed by the State, you cannot get rid of the inefficient operative in the way you can do so under private enterprise. You have, therefore, in the public service an extravagant system by which individuals who are appointed get rewarded according to the number of people who are under them in a Department. That is a method by which every Government Department tries to expand its own operations, and tries to get more and more officials into its Department, with a view to those at the head of this group of individuals getting more pay. That system is bad. Under private enterprise, we do our utmost to try and reduce unnecessary labour and to economize. I am told that in the Sunday Express—I have not seen the paper, so I cannot vouch for it—there was an article by a writer who pointed out that he had in his Department twenty-eight women operatives. "If I was running it as a private enterprise concern I would only use eight, but," he said, "I cannot interfere with the number allotted to me in connexion with the carrying out of my duties in that Government Department." All these things indicate to me that the idea which workmen have that they are going to be better off under a nationalization system is wrong, and it is also quite wrong for the miners at the present moment to try and exploit the war in order to promote their own nationalization aspirations. I do not know that I need trouble your Lordships with any further comments, but I feel that the owners are doing their very utmost to induce the men to produce more coal. We have tried to meet the men in all our districts, and we claim to have the best organization of any industry in the country. There is no reason why men should not find a settlement inside the organization which has been established. We have every method for dealing with every dispute, and in the event of difficulties we go to arbitration rather than allow a cessation of operations. You may ask, why it is that some of the men are now coming out on strike. Unfortunately there have been cases such as occurred recently in the County of Durham. There two boys were told to go down the pit, and they declined, saying it was a nasty dangerous place and they were not going down. They were fined. The company employing them had nothing to do with it. The Government official had the boys brought up, and they were fined £5. That colliery came out on strike because the boys would not pay their fines and went to gaol for two months. Two collieries belonging to the same firm, Messrs. Dorman, Long and Company, all came out in sympathy with the two boys who had been sent to gaol for two months. The matter was settled by the men getting their own way. The boys did not go underground, a parson in the district paid their fines, they were liberated from gaol, and the Labour Department sent them to other occupations. The men know that if they only come out on strike they get their own way. It is not because the organization is wrong. The whole thing can be settled if the men would only adhere to the arrangements of the industry by which all difficulties of that kind can be, and should be, avoided. We are doing our utmost to help the men, giving them concessions in every way that we can where they are working in difficult positions so that they can get more wages. Canteens have been provided, their rations have been increased, and we are doing our very utmost to keep the men in tune. It is all really very largely due to the Government having forced the Essential Works Order upon the industry, compelling the men to go underground and to remain where they are without the coal-owners ever having been consulted. I am afraid the difficulties of the present time are due mainly to the Government and certainly not to the owners or the workers.
My Lords, the Motion which is on the Paper and has been moved by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, deals with a matter of urgent public importance, and the Government welcome the opportunity for the criticisms which have been made in this House. Such criticisms are not only advisable but they are sometimes helpful. That is what Parliament is for, that is what the people expect it to do, and, if I may say so as a preliminary word, the criticism to-day has been in the spirit of our high Parliamentary traditions. The terms of the Motion allege that the present fuel shortage is due to Government miscalculations. That is not entirely a fair charge to level against the Government. The shortage is primarily due to the ever-changing effects of the war. There has been a basic shortage of manpower in all the fields of our war effort, and there has been a continued increase in the consumption of coal in essential war industries, while so far as domestic consumption is concerned we have had three successively hard winters. Those are, in a way, the facts.I admit that there is a great deal of anxiety, almost fear, in regard to this expected shortage of coal. The public have borne with the most exemplary patience all kinds of inconvenience, but in regard to fuel shortage a combination of cold and darkness is something that they are really quite anxious about. It has been alleged by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, and I think by the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, that if the Government had taken certain steps early enough, if they had not indeed miscalculated, things would have been very much better. I personally am not called upon to affirm that the Government, or any Government, or any individual, is incapable of error, but I also remember that critics of the highest order are very often proved to be wrong in their criticisms and assumptions. The noble Lord, Lord Gainford, let me say in passing, knows so much about the coal industry that I venture with the very greatest diffidence to differ from him. He complains that the fault is that the miners are not receiving the same wages that the Government pay to outside workers in other industries. The noble Lord has me at a tactical disadvantage in that matter of the Government regulating and keeping wages on a proper level. He knows I dare not say I agree with him, and I have not the heart to say I disagree with him, and so I am afraid I cannot say anything on that point. If we consider the problem before us from the standpoint of equity the position of the Government is, I submit, unassailable. It has been established that economy in consumption is necessary and that that economy is urgent. If there are ensuing discomforts it is right that the whole population should bear them. No one should escape from an inconvenience that all are called upon to bear. Therefore let us as far as we can win our battle for right and the world's freedom upon the basis of equal sacrifice. The Government's position is that equality of sacrifice does require some form of regulation, if not the proposals which the Government nave submitted then any better ones which can be provided, but any scheme adopted must meet certain necessary conditions. There must be fairness as between one consumer and another. The plan must, on the whole, have simplicity for administration purposes, and there must be an appreciable reduction of consumption. The whole problem is first how to get coal production up, and how to get consumption down. Looked at from the present position and outlook it is quite certain that more coal will be needed for our war services than is at present available. There will also in all probability be exports of coal to allied countries as a necessary part of our war contribution. The condition of things on the Atlantic may require less consumption of oil and it must be remembered that producer gas, about which we have heard something in your Lordships' House recently, will also entail a further demand for coal. Therefore an increased production of coal, while desirable in itself, is faced with a certain number of difficulties. Already, as the noble Lord, Lord Elton, has explained, the Government are getting 7,000 men from the Armed Forces back to the pit face and 4,000 men from essential industries and that follows on about 33,000 men who were got away from other industries for the coal industry during the last year. It is this shortage of man-power that is the fundamental point in this problem that we are considering, and shortage of manpower is not confined to the coal industry. There has been a retreat of young labour from the mines. The mining industry, as has been pointed out, has lost, since 1935, anything up to 60,000 or 70,000 people. There was a great deal of pre-war unemployment. Pits that were not economically workable were closed and a good deal of distress came upon the workers in the mining population. Whether that shows that private enterprise is so efficient as the noble Lord suggested, is a matter which I cannot go into this afternoon, but the fact is that these people left the mining industry, either because they were frozen out by unemployment or because they left, as was the case with many young workers, for other reasons. It is highly probable that a great many of these young workers will never voluntarily return to the industry. They were either coaxed or compelled to join the Army and they were drawn from an essential industry, but there they are and to get them back from the Army to the industry is not so easy a matter as it may appear to some people. They have become through their training a part of the defence system. A great many of them are now non-commissioned officers, almost essential in their respective battalions and regiments, and a great many of them are scattered about the world. Therefore it is not feasible at this juncture to withdraw young men wholesale from the war for this purpose, especially if they are to be withdrawn against their will. It has been suggested that many of them would welcome recall to the mines, but it is beyond doubt, I think, that a great many of them would resent having to return to the mining industry. Then we must make allowance for the annual wastage in the industry. There is an annual wastage of 35,000 old workers each year and an intake of only about 10,000 leaving a net deficit of 25,000. I am informed that 40 per cent. of the workers in the mines are over forty years of age and as many as 20 per cent. are over fifty. It has been suggested that longer hours might meet the difficulty, but the reply to that is, firstly, that the miners would not agree to longer hours, and, secondly, it is not proven that longer hours would lead to a greater output. Old age is at a discount everywhere just now and when a man has reached the age of fifty at the coal face he is old for that particular industry. The fierce young patriots of the Evening Standard, a day or two ago, urged that old men could best serve their country by getting out of the way and leaving the work to be done by the young, so that what time they have left in a ripe old age could be spent in happy secluded retirement; but apparently the old men of the mines are not only to stay there but to work longer hours to increase the output. Some suggestions have been made about reorganization. That is a very tempting subject, but it is not one that I dare allow myself to go into this afternoon. I should like, however, in passing to say a word about the question of absenteeism mentioned by both noble Lords who have spoken to-day. Regrettably there is a certain amount of absenteeism, chiefly among a small section of the younger miners, although that absenteeism is not so important as it is generally represented to be. Let us remember that the average miner is working a greater number of shifts than before. It is not advisable that the figures should be given, but this factor, coupled with the great strain of war conditions in a stern industry, renders some increase in absenteeism from purely physical reasons almost inevitable. The output per man per shift worked at the face is, on the whole, being maintained. I am advised that no substantial increase in output per man per shift can be expected as the industry is at present organized. That is all I can say on that point, except a word in regard to absenteeism on the part of young miners. None of us is perfect at any age, but let us be fair, even generous, to the young people of our time. We owe a great deal to them. One cannot always understand what is the reason for absenteeism, but it is not apparently higher wages because they are not getting the high wages that other workers are getting. If there is a certain amount of absenteeism, do not let us magnify it into a general charge against young people as a whole. I shall have to leave that point and just say that it is always sad and generally useless to dwell upon what might have been. If we had known perfectly what was going to happen and if everybody in the industry—those who control it and those who work in it—and various Governments that have dealt with the matter, had been perfect, doubtless some of these problems would not have arisen. But still the Government have done something, and are doing something. They are, for instance, at the present time, considering the possibilities of what, I suppose, is called outcrop coal, or open cast coal. Men are at work on that under skilled mining engineers, and the Government hope that that may make some contribution. But no estimate can be given respecting it. Therefore we fall back upon consumption. Reduced consumption might not be wholly and immediately effective, but there is no practical alternative, for the moment, before the nation. A White Paper is being issued to-day, I think, dealing further with the whole problem, and the Government, as I have reminded your Lordships, are not committed to any scheme that has so far been suggested. Since consumption must be reduced, the whole problem is that a system should be secured which is equitable as between man and man. It is perhaps impossible to get a system which is wholly and completely equitable as between man and man. Physical needs vary—that is a great consideration in regard to coal or to the production of warmth. There are those with good circulations, who, when the thermometer rises to 60 degrees, begin to gasp and feel that they are going to faint; whereas there are others who, like myself, scarcely remember the last time that they felt comfortably warm. So you cannot secure absolute equality as between man and man. But you can secure a rough measure of equality, you can try to avoid excessive hardships, and secure that all share equitably in whatever fuel may be available. The general principles of the Government's scheme are well known, and your Lordships will not expect me to describe them in detail. Various schemes were considered and rejected before this scheme of Sir William Beveridge's was suggested. First of all, there was a scheme for rationing each form of fuel on a datum line basis. That places a penalty on past economies and a premium on past extravagances, and it favours large as against small consumers. It was opposed by all women's organizations and other people who considered it. The second scheme was that each form of fuel should be rationed upon a basis of needs. That would involve fixing a weight for each household for solid fuel, estimating therms of gas, units of electricity and gallons of paraffin. That scheme was complex and impracticable, and it, too, would have involved a certain number of officials. You do not escape what is the general fear in regard to officials by distrusting the present scheme. There was a, third scheme suggested for rationing each form of fuel separately, some by datum line, and some on the basis of needs. That would have required a detailed examination of each house, and it would have produced more problems than it would have been likely to solve. Therefore, the Beveridge plan was suggested for the consideration of Parliament and all concerned. But the Government are not wedded, as we say, to that scheme, and they are waiting to see the production of something better. The scheme which is known as the Beveridge plan rations all fuels together on a points system. It is a scheme not without difficulties, but it is fair as between one consumer and another, and it is as simple as a rationing system can be. The plan is assailed on all hands, but it is not discredited, and it has, as I think The Times said the other day, no competitor. It involves registration of consumers and so on. Now, about this coupon terror. None of us likes coupons. We all of us long for the day when coupons will cease from troubling, and when the harassed consumer can buy whatever he likes and all that he can. But do not over-exaggerate in speaking about the cost. You do not escape the cost by merely not employing officials. There are costs that are visible and costs that are invisible, and the absence of regulation does not mean the absence of either money costs or of the employment of officials. The cost may not always be obvious, but it is always there. I cannot deny myself the privilege, on this occasion, of saying that there is a tendency to regard every pound spent on public services as being a calamity, whereas there is little, if any, criticism of proposals to employ people in private undertakings. That, I think, is possibly a hang-over from the old laissez faire philosophy which it is right to remember, but which is not to be the final test. It may happen that difficulties will arise in the administration of this scheme. Rooms must, in any case, be effectively occupied, Any anomalies which arise will receive attention, and even climatic difficulties have been foreseen. One standard will be applied to Scotland, another standard to the North of England—the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, will be interested in that—and London and the Southern Counties will fare worst of all, as they usually do in these matters. There is a further matter with regard to this scheme of which I should remind your Lordships. Penalties will be exacted for wilful over-consumption, the penalties being a shortage for the next period. I say again that the Government are not committed to this scheme. They will consider any alternative which is more effective, and which will provide a greater measure of simplicity while meeting the need for fairness; but a decision on the matter must be come to without delay. Coal is used to produce all forms of heat and light, and all forms of its consumption must in consequence be rationed. To provide for this, there is a plan for interchangeable coupons, which may prove to be difficult and something of a nuisance. But there is a greater difficulty still, the difficulty of people finding that they have no fire in their grate. This scheme, whatever its faults may be, does provide, or is intended to provide, that there shall be in each man's grate an equitable proportion of the fuel available. Until a better scheme is produced the suggested scheme holds the field, but the mind of the Government is not closed on the matter. The case for economy has been established beyond doubt. It is believed that that economy can best be secured by a system of rationing, and I hope that what I have said will be sufficient to induce the noble Lord, Lord Elton, to withdraw the Motion which stands in his name. Do not let us frighten people by suggesting that they will have to face a new glacial age; rather let us assure them of reasonable comfort, and let us credit them with an uncomplaining readiness to face the difficulties and inconveniences which they will have to meet as a willing contribution to the national need.
My Lords, I have been asked by my noble friends briefly to indicate their view upon the Motion before your Lordships' House. We are not advocates of rationing for rationing's sake, but we do hold strongly the view that if a commodity which is universally needed is in short supply, or if, being in short supply, the supply has to be further reduced, then only by a well-conceived rationing of that commodity can the burden of short supply be fairly apportioned over all the consumers. I would remind your Lordships that, according to the statement of the President of the Board of Trade in another place, 1,000,000 more tons of domestic coal were consumed last winter than in the previous winter; but, notwithstanding that extra consumption, there were many districts, both in the provinces and in London, where people were without coal and were living, I will not say in darkness, but certainly in cold for considerable periods. As I indicated in an earlier speech, there were certain districts in London where not only, the children but the adult population were going to bed after tea in order to keep themselves warm, because of the lack of coal. I do not know whether your Lordships would hold the view that that is better for them, but I do not.We are now told that, so far from it being possible for us to consume an additional 1,000,000 tons of domestic coal, there must be a reduction of 10,000,000 tons. That is 5 per cent. of the total coal production, which I believe at the present time is roughly 207,000,000 tons, but I understand that it is 12½ per cent. of that portion of the total production which represents domestic fuel; and therefore the problem is to secure, equitably and justly, a reduction not of 5 per cent. but of 12½ per cent. in the consumption of domestic fuel. The system evolved—very brilliantly, I think—by Sir William Beveridge may be cumbersome and difficult, initially, in operation, but it is designed to secure that the burden of short supply shall be equitably spread, and, if it succeeds in doing that, whether it is clumsy or not it will have achieved its main purpose. The Government have indicated, however, that they are not necessarily wedded to the details of the scheme contained in the White Paper, and I suggest that it is for the critics of that scheme to submit a better one. I am aware of, and I have read with interest, the details of the scheme submitted in another place by Sir Arnold Gridley, but I confess that it appears to me to possess one serious, and in my view fatal, defect—namely, that it would either not ration gas or electricity at all or, if they were rationed, the rationing authorities would be the industries themselves. I gather that that was the view of the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, this afternoon—that if any rationing of gas and electricity is to take place by reference to the consumption of coal in those respective industries, that rationing should be done by the industries themselves. I must dissent from that view, and from any proposal which would hand the power of rationing over to any private undertaking, or which would remove, or contemplate removing, the power of rationing from the Government. Rationing, even when imposed by the Government and operated through the proper Ministry, is vexatious enough, but I feel confident that the people of this country would not consent to be rationed in relation to an essential element of daily need, such as gas or electricity, by private enterprise, however high the motive of private enterprise might be. When it comes to a proposal to leave the imposition of penalties under such a scheme in the hands of the gas industry or of the electricity industry, it is quite clear, I think, that no such scheme would be for one moment accepted by the people of this country. In any case I am not persuaded—and I am not entirely without experience of the electricity industry, both on its municipal side and otherwise—that the gas industry or the electricity industry could fairly and equitably carry through rationing proposals without having to adopt much of the scheme formulated by Sir William Beveridge. My friends and I take the view that since a reduction of consumption must be achieved, in the absence of a better scheme that under consideration ought to be adopted and accepted. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, will not misunderstand me when I say that I find it difficult to accept the conception of the mining industry that he sought to indicate to your Lordships this afternoon. I am afraid that history has failed to convince me that the mining industry can solve now, or has been able to solve in the past, its difficulties within itself. I can call to mind no industry in which there has been more bitter conflict between owners and workpeople. I can call to mind no industry in which disaffection and discontent have more reasonable foundation, owing to the conduct of the industry by those who own it. I cannot accept the view that a basic industry is efficiently and properly run by 1,135 separate companies, owning and operating 1,900 separate collieries. I do not, if I may say so with every respect, accept the ex parte statement that, following the taking over by the Government of the mines in 1917, there ensued—and for that reason ensued—a reduction in output. I think that allegation, whether made by Mr. Lee or anyone else, needs to be examined, as it was examined in the light of all the facts by the Sankey Commission, and then the conclusion that the nationalization of the mining industry in 1917 of itself, and because it was imposed, led to a serious reduction of output will need some serious modification. I am not one of those who take the view that in conditions of war opportunity should be taken to socialize industry, much as I believe that many of the basic industries of this country ought to be socialized. My view is that the test of whether steps towards a greater measure of Government control or Government ownership should be taken must be whether it is essential in the interests of the war effort, and if it is essential in the interests of the war effort then I think the Government should face up to it and should do it in the manner best calculated to further the war effort. Having said that, I feel bound to say also that I believe that if the Government took over—hired or requisitioned—the mines in this country and proceeded to work them, during the war at all events, in co-operation not only with the miners but with the mine owners, there would be such an improvement in the psychology of the thousands of good Britons who are engaged in the mines as would make for a very substantial increase in output. I hope that the Government will accept, in principle at all events, the proposals which I gather have been submitted to them by the National Council of Labour. I hope also that in the consideration of reconstruction in this country after the war the mining industry will be one which will pass completely under national ownership and control.
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Snell replied, as of course I knew he would, with all his usual urbanity. I think he hardly answered any one of the charges or the criticisms which I ventured to bring against the Government scheme. He answered one or two which I did not bring, such as the suggestion that longer hours might do good in the mines—a ninepin which he very effectively set up and knocked over, but which I do not think anybody else in the course of the debate had previously set up. I am sorry he did not really meet the fundamental criticism which I think has emerged in the course of this debate, and that is that the Government are too ready to sit down under the present decline in coal production. Lord Gainford gave it as his view that if there were satisfaction, if there were sound psychological conditions in the mines, the amount of coal in question could be produced without any of this elaborate rationing or restriction at all. And I had ventured to quote authorities outside this House who had expressed the view that if only absenteeism could have been reduced to its pre-war dimensions, that alone would have solved the problem without coupon rationing. The noble Lord spoke on that subject, but he did not really answer the fundamental point. And I must say that it seems to me that until the country is satisfied that nothing can be done to increase production, it is not likely to accept with patience the Beveridge scheme or any other scheme.I was interested in the concluding remarks of the noble Lord who speaks on behalf of the Labour Party, and I must admit that they awoke a responsive echo in my own breast. I, too, feel that if it could be proved—and I think there seems considerable reason for supposing that it can be—that the handing over "for the duration" of the management of the mines to a body representing the State, the miners and the owners would create that sense of satisfaction which would release the pent-up patriotism which must be there, the instinct for service which must be there, then personally I should be glad to see such a change effected even in war-time. We cannot, after all, be confident that we shall put forward a sufficiently formidable war effort to rely on survival in a struggle against nations where the whole of industry is treated with the disciplinary standards of the Fighting Forces, if we ourselves allow some of our basic industries to maintain peace-time standards of discipline and energy; and if what is needed to enable our voluntary system to generate the energy which the totalitarian system can, for a while at any rate, produce by compulsion, is some such change as the noble Lord opposite has reminded your Lordships of, and which has been proposed by the National Council of Labour, then I think that we ought to attempt it even in war-time. I am glad that, at any rate, the noble Lord, Lord Snell, said he was not wedded to the Beveridge scheme. I have not met anyone who would wish to accept the hand of the Beveridge scheme. I have met scarcely anyone who does not regard it with ill-concealed irritation, and I am convinced that if it is put into force in its present form it will be met, first, with ridicule, then with irritation, and finally will cause real suffering. To judge from the number of noble Lords who asked me in the course of the last half-hour whether I was proposing to divide the House because, if so, they wished to stay and vote against the Government, I suspect that if I had pressed my Motion to a Division I might have achieved a victory, but unfortunately I have an inhibition against attempting to defeat the Government in war-time. Therefore I shall conclude by expressing the hope that the Government will consider some of the criticisms which have been advanced this evening, and if these do not prove to be nails in the coffin of the Beveridge scheme, I hope they will very considerably modify it. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
Channel Island Monthly Review
My Lords, I beg to ask the starred question that stands in my name.
[The question was as follows:
To ask his Majesty's Government whether they are aware that the Stockport Channel Island Monthly Review has been ordered to cease publication on the ground of shortage of paper, and if they are aware that this small monthly publication is of great interest to Norman Islanders (of whom many are in His Majesty's Forces) and whether the order can be rescinded.]
My Lords, in the absence of my noble friend the Minister of Works and Buildings, I have been asked to reply. The Stockport Channel Island Monthly Review first appeared in May, 1941. The printing or publication in the United Kingdom of new periodicals has been prohibited since August, 1940, on account of the shortage of paper. It has been necessary to refuse permission to publish many new periodicals, including a number for circulation among persons in the Forces or affected by the war, and I regret that it is not possible to make an exception in the present case.
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Bill Hl
My Lords, I beg leave to introduce a Bill to extend the term of service of members of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, and to move that it be read a first time.
Moved, That the Bill be now read 1a .—( Lord Bruntisfield.)
On Question, Bill read 1a , and to be printed.
London Passenger Transport Board: Petition For Bill
Report from the Standing Orders Committee that the Standing Orders not complied with in respect of the Petition for the following Bill ought to be dispensed with: London Passenger Transport Board.
Read, and agreed to.
Message from the Commons for leave for the Earl of Dudley to attend to be examined as a witness before the Sub-Committee for Special Inquiries appointed by the Select Committee of that House on National Expenditure. Leave given for his Lordship to attend, if he think fit, and a Message ordered to be sent to the Commons to acquaint them therewith.
Coal (Valuation Procedure) Rules, 1942
Draft Special Order proposed to be made by the Central Valuation Board with the approval of the Board of Trade:
Laid before the House (pursuant to Act) for affirmative Resolution and referred to the Special Orders Committee.
Sunday Entertainments Act, 1932
Orders made by the Secretary of State for the Home Department extending Section one of the Act to the
- Borough of Altrincham;
- Urban District of Redditch;
- Urban District of Wantage:
Laid before the House (pursuant to Act) for affirmative Resolution and ordered to lie on the Table.