§ Mr. FIELD
To ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he is aware that, owing to the actions of the bears in Liverpool and in America forcing down the price of cotton after the Sully collapse in 1904 from 9d. per pound to the low price of 4d., the Southern Planters Cotton Association have entered into a compact with the exchange gamblers of the latter country to reduce the acreage of cotton for 1905–6 by about 25 percent., and that speculative advances have recently been operated in options and futures on the Liverpool and the United States cotton exchanges to the detriment of the Lancashire cotton industry, and likewise to the world's cotton trade generally; whether he will, in view of such artificial conditions, appoint a special Commission to inquire into and report upon transactions injuriously affecting international trade; and whether he will confer with President Roosevelt with the object of adopting some international cooperative endeavour in order to prevent a repetition of these international gambling operations in the shape of paper sales of fictitious products through option and future contracts.
(Answered by Mr. A. J. Balfour.) I am informed that no such compact is known to the Board of Trade, and its existence seems rather improbable. The price of cotton has recently advanced in consequence, as I am told, of the unexpectedly low official estimate of the coming crop. It is not proposed to take the steps suggested by the hon. Gentleman.