§ MR. FIELD
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he is aware that at the Zurich Cotton Congress, on the Motion of a German representative, the Congress unanimously decided to urge the Cotton Exchanges of New York, New Orleans, Liverpool, and Alexandria to consider the measures to be adopted to prevent persons who have no direct interest in the cotton trade from operating in the market to the detriment of the whole industry, and also to draw the attention of the Governments of Europe to this matter; and whether the Government will co-operate 933 in treating this subject as an international question.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
Yes, Sir. I have seen the newspaper reports to which the hon. Gentleman refers. If those reports are accurate, evidently the conference at Zurich desired to rely on the non-Governmental action of the authorities in the various centres of the cotton industry, and there seems nothing in the resolution at which they arrived which would require Governmental action on the part either of this country or other countries. If any request comes to this Government for joint action, that request will be carefully considered, although there are advantages in action being taken altogether outside the action of Governments. Perhaps I may add, for the information of the hon. Gentleman and the House, that this question is being very carefully considered by the Commission on Food Supplies.
§ MR. MARKHAM (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the question of making it a criminal offence to attempt to corner necessaries of life.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Well, that is one of the extreme propositions which, I have no doubt, are being considered by the commission.