§ MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)
asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether he is aware that another sugar refinery, employing 1,000 hands, at the East End of London has recently closed its doors, another firm having closed and discharged 300 hands, and two others having discharged about 270 each, and that they attribute the necessity of closing these works to the Foreign bounties on sugar; whether the Board of Trade possess, or will make any, calculations to show whether the destruction of such an industry, and the several other industries which more or less depend on it, involves a loss to this Country greater or less than the alleged gain in the price of sugar to the consumer actually attributable to the bounties; whether, if such industry has been so destroyed, there is anything to prevent the same system being applied by Foreign nations to each of our other industries in turn; and, whether, without entering on any war of tariffs, more energetic efforts of diplomacy, such as succeeded in the cases of Germany and the United States against Spain, can be adopted with the prospect of equal success by this Country?
§ THE PRESIDENT (Mr. MUNDELLA) (Sheffield, Brightside)
I have no information of the facts stated in the first Question of the hon. Member, except such as is given in the daily papers. As to the influence of bounties upon this and other industries, I understand the Royal Commission on the Depression of Trade purposes making a complete investigation into the subject. The question of the loss or gain arising to this country from the sugar bounties was considered by a Committee of this House in 1879–80, and has also been dealt with in a Report of the Board of Trade on the progress of the sugar industry in 1884. I must refer the hon. Member to these Reports for informa 1801 tion on the subject. I cannot enter into a dissertation of a contentious character in answering a Question.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH (Bristol, W.)
Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House any information as to when the Royal Commission on the Depression of Trade is likely to report on this subject?
§ MR. MUNDELLA
I am afraid not. I daresay the right hon. Gentleman himself will be able to inform the House.
§ MR. RITCHIE (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
Would the Board of Trade reconsider the question of calling a Conference together to settle this question of sugar bounties, as was suggested by the Earl of Derby?
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
asked whether the Board of Trade possessed, or would endeavour to obtain, calculations showing the extraordinary burdens thrown on the French consumer and the French taxpayer by the present system of bounties?
§ MR. KIMBER
asked whether the Reports to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred as having been made to the Board of Trade would be continued; and whether the statistics that might be collected might not induce the Board of Trade to alter the conclusion at which it had arrived?