STANDING COMMITTEE A.
From 25th February to 2nd December, 1920.CONTENTS:
PAGE.COAL MINES (EMERGENCY) BILL 5 NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE 85 PROFITEERING AMENDMENT BILL 133 BLIND PERSONS BILL 217 OVERSEAS TRADE (CREDITS AND INSURANCE) BILL 257 MINISTRY OF HEALTH (MISCELLANEOUS) PROVISIONS BILL 273
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From 25th FEBRUARY to 4th MARCH, 1920.7
The Committee consists of the following Members:—
Mr. J. W. Wilson (Chairman).
*Adamson, Mr. (Fife, Western)
Armitage, Mr. (Leeds, Central)
Banner, Sir John Harmood- (Liverpool, Everton)
*Barnes, Major (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, E.)
Barton, Sir William (Oldham)
*Beckett, Mr. (York, N.R., Scarborough and Whitby)
*Bell, Mr. (Lancaster, Ormskirk)
Betterton, Mr. (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)
Bird, Sir Alfred (Wolverhampton, West)
*Bridgeman, Mr. (Salop, Oswestry)
Burdon, Colonel (Durham, Sedgefield)
Coote, Mr. Colin (Isle of Ely)
Cope, Major (Glamorgan, Llandaff and Barry)
*Cory, Sir Clifford (Cornwall, St. Ives)
Davies, Sir Joseph (Chester, Crewe)
Davison, Mr. J. (Smethwick)
Dawes, Mr. (Southwark, S.E.)
Doyle, Mr. Grattan (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, N.)
Forestier-Walker, Mr. (Monmouth, Monmouth)
Galbraith, Mr. (Durham, Spennymoor)
*Geddes, Sir Auckland (Hants, Basingstoke)
Gould, Mr. (Cardiff, Central)
Grant, Mr. (Cumberland, Whitehaven)
Guest, Mr. John (York, W. R., Hems worth)
*Hancock, Mr. (Derby, Belper)
Hartshorn, Mr. (Glamorgan, Ogmore)
*Hickman, Brigadier-General (Wolverhampton, Bilston)
Hills, Major (Durham, Durham)
Hinds, Mr. (Carmarthen, Carmarthen)
Hirst, Mr. (York, W.R., Wentworth)
Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Samuel (Chelsea)
Hurd, Mr. (Somerset, Frome)
Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel (Yorks, E.R., Howdenshire)
Jones, Sir Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil, Merthyr)
Jones, Mr. Haydn (Merioneth)
*Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)
*Kelley, Major (Rotherham)
Kenyon, Mr. (Derby, Chesterfield)
Kiley, Mr. (Stepney, Whitechapel and St. George's)
Lawson, Mr. (Durham, Chester-le-Street)
Lynn, Mr. (Belfast, Woodvale)
Macdonald, Mr. Murray (Stirling and Falkirk District of Burghs)
*McLaren, Mr. Robert (Lanark, Northern)
Malone, Lieut.-Colonel (Leyton, East)
Murray, Dr. (Inverness and Ross and Cromarty, Western Isles)
Myers, Mr. (York, West Riding, Spen Valley)
*Nall, Major (Manchester, Hulme)
Newbould, Mr. (Leyton, West)
Newton, Major (Essex, Harwich)
O'Neill, Major (Antrim, Mid)
Parkinson, Mr. Allen (Wigan)
Raeburn, Sir William (Dumbarton)
Ramsden, Mr. (York, W.R., Elland)
Robertson, Mr. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Rodger, Mr. (Lanark, Rutherglen)
Roundell, Colonel (York, W.R., Skipton)
*Shaw, Mr. Alexander (Ayr and Bute, Kilmarnock)
Sitch, Mr. (Stafford, Kingswinford)
Smith, Sir Allan (Croydon, South)
Surtees, Brigadier-General (Gateshead)
*Walsh, Mr. Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)
Wheler, Major (Kent, Faversham)
White, Mr. Charles (Derby, Western)
*Williams, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Rhys (Oxford, Banbury)
Yeo, Sir Alfred (Poplar, South)
* Added in respect of the Coal Mines (Emergency) Bill.
Committee Clerks Mr. WILLIAMS-WYNN,
Committee Clerks Mr. TYLOR.8 9 STANDING COMMITTEE A Wednesday, 25th February, 1920
[MR. J. W. WILSON in the Chair.]
The CHAIRMAN: Before we go further with the Bill, I think it would be for the convenience of Members if we considered which days the Committee should meet. I presume all the days of the week are open to us. This is the first Committee that has been set up. We could meet at 11 o'clock, probably on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I do not know how long the Committee is expected to sit. Tuesdays and Thursdays are the natural days, and, following the recommendation of the Chairmen's Panel at the end of last session, the idea would be that, unless there were great emergency, the morning sitting should be rather a prolonged one in order to avoid the necessity of sitting in the afternoon. But that is left largely to the decision of the Committees. Members will remember that the double sitting was adopted, certainly when there was pressure of business, but I take it that four to six o'clock sittings are to be avoided from the Members' point of view as far as possible, and that they would rather sit on till half-past one or so if the afternoon sitting could be avoided.
Sir CLIFFORD CORY: Would it not be possible to make it Wednesdays and Thursdays, which would also suit other Members here, rather than Tuesdays and Wednesdays?
The CHAIRMAN: On that point, I think it has generally been found for the convenience of Members, as well as those responsible for a Bill, that there should be a day for marshalling amendments or putting down amendments between sittings. My experience of Grand Committees for the last fifteen years has been that Members rather resent continuous 10 sittings unless they be desirable, and, from a Chairman's point of view, I can testify that manuscript amendments do not tend to the orderly consideration of a Bill. If a day intervene between one sitting and another, it gives an opportunity for Members to put their amendments on the paper. As a matter of detailed arrangement, I believe Tuesdays and Thursdays for one Committee and Mondays and Wednesdays for another Committee have been found to work in best for the rooms, but, as I say, that may not occur thus early in the session.
Mr. FORESTIER-WALKER: The difficulty is that Tuesdays and Thursdays are already full. There is the Devolution Committee, which proposes to sit on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and one cannot be in two places at the same time. If one of these days could be altered, it would suit me personally.
The CHAIRMAN: I am afraid there will always be days that do not suit everyone. I think I may take the general sense of the Committee to be that this Committee sit on Tuesdays and Thursdays, although I am told it is quite likely the proceedings will not be prolonged, and, therefore, it will not interfere with more than one or two sittings of the Committee to which the hon. Member has referred. I take it that Members generally acquiesce in my suggestion that afternoon sittings should be as far as possible avoided?
The Committee signified assent.
The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Bridgeman): It was only late in the afternoon yesterday that I had representations from a number of hon. Members interested in this Bill, asking that this Committee should be postponed from to-day. It was too late then to send round notices to members of the Committee postponing the meeting, but I think there is a great deal to be said in favour of an adjournment. I am very sorry that Members should have been called here at all to-day, but at any rate it was not my fault. But there are several Amendments which were only put down on the Paper last night, on which, I think, a good deal of time and discussion might be saved if we had the opportunity of considering them in the next two or three days. I understand that the Executive Committee of the Miners' Federation are meeting this 11 morning, which makes it extremely inconvenient for their members to be here to-day, and I am also given to understand that the Coal Owners' Association would prefer to have two or three days in which to consider, and possible modify, some of the Amendments that they wish to put down, or have put down. I also would point out that we were unable to get the Financial Resolution last night, and, in any case, we could not proceed beyond Clause 7 without getting it, and I very much hope that our deliberations on this Bill in Committee will not be very prolonged. I should hope we might almost get it through in one day—certainly in two days—and if we were then held up on account of the Financial Resolution, we should gain nothing by having sat to-day. I, therefore, very respectfully submit to the Committee that it would be for the general advantage if we adjourned until next Tuesday. I, therefore, move, "That this Committee do now adjourn till Tuesday, March 2nd, at 11 o'clock."
Major BARNES: I desire to say a word on that motion. I think the course that is going to be followed is the course that will meet with the general approval of all of us. It will give us a little more time to look into what is a very complicated business. But I suggest that between now and then, it might be possible for the Government to have some figures, or some statement, to put before us when we do meet again, which should clear up a matter about which there is a very great deal of obscurity, and that is, the real effect of the Financial Proposals of this Bill. I think the position at the present time is certainly very obscure. I put one or two questions yesterday to the President of the Board of Trade in the hope of eliciting what would be, in the expectation of the Government, the result of this Bill, and very briefly I would like to draw the attention of the Committee to the answers I got. Last Tuesday, when the Bill was read a second time, it was preceded by an inquiry directed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the position of certain Government subsidies, and one of these was the Coal Deficiency Vote, on which there was expected to be a deficiency of something like £10,000,000, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in dealing with that point, made this reply: 12 "It should be added that it is estimated that, should the Coal Emergency Bill now before Parliament become law, about £20,000,000 of the expenditure incurred from the Coal Deficiency Vote will be recovered." So that in the mind of the Chancellor of the Exchequer last Tuesday, there lodged the hope that some £20,000,000 was going to be recovered as the result of this Bill. I asked a question of the President of the Board of Trade, if it were expected that in the year ending 31st March, 1920, there would be any surplus profits remaining as a result of this Bill, and, if so, what amount was expected? I got a reply from the Minister in charge here this morning, in which he said that the probable surplus for this financial year is estimated to be about £1,000,000 after the provisions of the Bill have been satisfied. There is an extraordinarily discrepancy, evidently, between the expectation in the mind of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—
Sir C. CORY: On a point of Order. Is this not a question for Debate on the Bill? We are wasting our time if we are to meet again.
The CHAIRMAN: I quite admit it might be out of order under certain circumstances, but I take it that if a few minutes' discussion now shortened the proceedings later it would be an advantage But I do not think we ought to develop into a Second Reading Debate. I think hon. Members would not grudge a few minutes spent to-day on any question which would facilitate the discussion on the particular Amendment alluded to when we meet again.
Mr. S. WALSH: A Memorandum has been referred to by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. There is a Memorandum here which I hold in my hand. It has been issued and can be found in the Vote Office now, giving, in so far as information can be given, the data desired by the hon. Gentleman. It is surely very undesirable that he should go into the matter in an interminable series of divagations.
Sir C. CORY: I did not interrupt when I supposed the hon. and gallant Gentleman was putting a question, but only when I thought he was proceeding to a long speech.
Mr. WALSH: The Memorandum is here.13
The CHAIRMAN: Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will put his point shortly in the form of a question, so that the Minister may reply.
Major BARNES: I will not proceed further on those lines. I think I have already said enough to indicate the point in my mind—that is, the difference there appears to be between the Chancellor and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. I only wanted to draw the attention of the Minister in charge to this matter, so that when we meet again something might be available to clear up the point.
Mr. WALSH: It is in the Memorandum.
Mr. BRIDGEMAN: In reply to what the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Mem- 14 ber for Newcastle (Major Barnes) has said, my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. Walsh) has pointed out there is a White Paper issued explaining the Financial Resolution that is to accompany this Bill. I should have hoped that that would have made the position as clear as it is possible to make it. There is no discrepancy between the figures given by myself and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman would do me the favour to come and discuss the matter for two or three minutes with the Coal Controller and myself, I think we shall be able to point out to him the fallacy under which he lies.
Question put, and agreed to.
Committee accordingly adjourned at seventeen minutes after eleven of the clock until Tuesday next, March 2nd, at eleven of the clock
THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:—
Wilson, Mr. J. W. (Chairman)
Bell, Mr. James
Bird, Sir Alfred
Cory, Sir Clifford
Davies, Sir Joseph
Doyle, Mr. Grattan
Jones, Sir Evan
McLaren, Mr. Robert
Parkinson, Mr. Allen
Walsh, Mr. Stephen
Yeo, Sir Alfred