HC Deb 12 March 1906 vol 153 cc949-1002
SIR JAMES KITSON (Yorks, W.R., Colne Valley)

rose to move the following Resolution:—"That this House, recognizing that in the recent general election the people of the United Kingdom have demonstrated their unqualified fidelity to the principles and practice of free trade, deems it right to record its determination to resist any proposal, whether by way of taxation upon foreign corn or of the creation of a general tariff upon foreign goods, to create in this country a system of protection." As an old member of the House, he congratulated the Leader of the Opposition upon taking his seat once more, and hoped that in his position of greater freedom and less responsibility the right hon. Gentleman would long enjoy a repose that would be grateful to him. The Resolution was proposed in order that the decision at the late general election might be recorded on the proceedings of the House. The situation had changed since February 14—a date generally acknowledged to be a day of reconcilation—and the Party with whom he was associated regarded the declaration made by the late Prime Minister as an absolute concession to the views advocated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. Why was this question raised after all these years? His recollection took him back to the days before the repeal of the Corn Laws, He well remembered in 1842 seeing bands of workmen, prisoners, surrounded by cavalry, conveyed along the Leeds high road to Wakefield Jail during what were called the Plug riots. Five years later, in 1847, when the Corn Laws had been repealed, he saw bands of workmen marching along the road from Leeds to Wakefield to declare by their show of hands at Wakefield their adhesion to the principles of Corn Law repeal, and to elect Mr. Cobden as member for the West Riding. Mr. Cobden was returned although at that time he was absent in St. Petersburg. He was re-elected in 1852, and then wrote— The feeling in the West Riding of Yorkshire is most intense amongst the working classes. They will never allow the Corn Laws to be reimposed. What did the West Riding say to-day? The West Riding in Cobden's days had only two Members in Parliament. To-day it had nineteen county Divisions, and out of the representatives of those nineteen Divisions eighteen were Free Traders and one was a Unionist Free Trader; it had eighteen borough Divisions, represented by fourteen Free Traders, one Unionist Free Trader, and four Unionists. Following the election of 1852 there were sinister rumours during the ministry of Lord Derby as to the revival of Protection, and the re-imposition of the Corn Laws, and Cobden became very active. He wrote— My object is to settle the Free Trade question for ever, and to clear the ground for other questions. It was to settle the Free Trade question for ever, and clear the ground for other questions that they proposed this Resolution to-day. In consequence of the agitation he had referred to, Mr. Villiers raised the question in this House, and he elicited from Mr. Disraeli, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a declaration that no taxes on corn would be imposed. And so the matter was disposed of by Resolution in this House, and rested for half a century until now. In the course of the recent campaign, many inducements were offered to free traders owing to declarations of decline in various staple industries of the country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham told them that the cotton trade was declining, that the woollen trade was declining, and that the iron trade was going. As he (Sir James) knew something of the iron trade, he might be permitted, as a representative of that declining industry, to tell the House that the total output of pig-iron in Great Britain last year was 9,500,000 tons, being an increase of 1,000,000 tons over 1904. The output for 1905 was the greatest in the history of the trade. It was idle, therefore, to tell them that the iron trade was going. On the contrary, the iron trade was still advancing, and advancing with rapid strides. On the authority of the Iron and Steel Trades Review, the editor of which was an expert on this subject, he might say that he could support the view of the President of the Local Government Board, that there would again be an expansion, as the calculations as to the furnaces in operation assured a production of no less than 10,000,000 tons in the year they were now entering. The prosperity of the iron trade was not only to be calculated on the amount of pig-iron now produced, but also upon the production in the steel trade. Whereas, over a period of fourteen years there was an increase in the production of pig-iron of 22 per cent., there was an increase in the production of steel of no less than 64 per cent. The year 1906 promised again an increase upon that quantity. Then there was shipbuilding, the output of which in 1905 showed an increase of 491,000 tons, or 20 per cent. over the production of 1904. The total world's increase was only 75,000 tons, against Great Britain's increase of 491,000 tons. The engineering record of the Glasgow Herald, in its review of the trade, said that the British horse-power produced was 1,500,000 tons, and the foreign horse-power 962,000 tons. There was a British increase of 162,000 tons, and a foreign decrease of 56,000 tons, so that it was idle again to say that the foreigners were gaining on us even in shipbuilding or in shipbuilding engineering. The imports of iron and steel, and the manufactures thereof—a question upon which their opponents laid considerable stress—which included machinery, steam engines, and locomotives, amounted to £21,180,000, showing an increase of nearly £2,000,000 on 1904. On the other hand, we exported iron and steel manufactures in 1904 to the value of £65,000,000, and in 1905 to the value of £74,000,000, or an increase of £9,000,000. If we had not imported that material we could not have done the business we did, and we could not have employed the work people we did. The Board of Trade had given some careful analyses of the returns, which he thought ought to be in the possession of the House. If hon. Members analysed this total of £21,000,000 of imports, they would find that £3,500,000 of it was in motors, in which a great trade was beginning in this country—a trade which very soon would capture that which had been a creation of the continent. Again, no less than £1,000,000 of the £21,000,000 came from iron and manufactured, products of iron from Sweden, and these were absolutely necessary for the manufacture of the fine qualities of steel; so that if they placed a duty on these they would restrict the manufactures of steel for competition in the markets of the world. The Board of Trade had also furnished him with the destination of this large export of £75,000,000. Exports to foreign countries amounted to £47,900,000 and to British possessions £26,000,000, but of the latter £9,500,000 went to British India. So that in dealing with the question of Free Trade and Protection it would be seen that the foreign markets, including the markets of British India, Argentina, and others, far transcended the markets of the British Colonies. To the Argentine Republic we sent iron and products thereof, machinery and the rest, to the value of £5,500,000, and he would ask the House, if we were to give a preferential duty on corn for the benefit of Canada, what would Argentina say to us? Argentina was by far a better customer of iron and steel and manufactures thereof to us than any of the British possessions were or possibly could be. If such a preferential duty were given to the Colonies it would throw the Argentine trade into the hands of Germany, our great competitor. Hon. Members might ask why, in view of this good account of our exports, had we any unemployed? If they would examine the Board of Trade returns, and take the case of the home railways, they would find that the railways of Great Britain in the year 1900 added 734 locomotives to the rolling stock, but in 1904, owing to the diminution in the home trade, they only added fifty-eight. In the year 1898 the railways of Great Britain added 25,000 waggons to their rolling stock. In 1900 they added 20,000 waggons, but in 1904 they added only 5,000. The diminution in this rolling stock commenced precisely at the period of the outbreak of the Boer war. That was the reason why railway extensions were curtailed, rolling stock orders diminished, and large numbers of our population in the home trade thrown out of employment. Many statements had been made about dumping, illustrated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham by references to steel bars and steel billets used in the manufacture of tin-plates. They could not have a better example of the value of free trade than an analysis of the figures relating to the trade in steel bars. In 1890 the McKinley tariff was established, and very quickly and entirely destroyed the tin-plate trade with the United States. The South Wales manufacturers made large sums of money out of this trade, and they devoted a large part of their profits to the installation of new machinery and the putting down of new plant in order to meet the strong competition in the markets of the world. He noticed that Sir John Jenkins, a great authority on this trade, had said that there was a regulation of prices, and the price of steel bars was £7 per ton. American competition sprang up, and 50,000 tons of steel billets in one order were sold at £4 10s. per ton, and upon this the tin-plate workers of South Wales were enabled to make a cheap tin-plate, with which they competed in the markets of the world, and what was the result? That notwithstanding the high tariffs, the United States makers of tin-plate, had to go and sue in formâ pauperis to the United States Treasury to obtain a drawback, whereas in South Africa and our Colonies we had been able to sell cheaper canned meats and tinned fruits in the markets of the world. The makers of tin boxes and similar articles now obtained a draw back from the United States customs; and last year this amounted to £438,000. So that in order to keep themselves in competition with other makers of tin-plate goods they had had to acknowledge the principle of Free Trade, without which they would have lost their industry. With regard to this question of the dumping of billets, he had a letter from a shareholder in a company which manufactured tin-plates, bars, billets and blooms. The capital of this Company was £50,000 in £10 shares. The works were built in 1899–1900, and the Company did not publish or circulate a balance sheet, but he might mention that the dividend paid last year was 45 per cent. This was one of those trades which were subject to illegitimate competition. A £10 share in this Company was recently sold by auction for £38, so that before right hon. Gentlemen accepted these statements about illegitimate competition they should first carefully examine whether they were correct or not. The company he referred to was scientifically managed, and so was enabled to produce at very cheap rates. He did not think this House was interested in protecting old and obsolete concerns; they ought to be more, interested in stimulating by legitimate competition scientific management and the ability to manufacture at the lowest possible price. They were appealed to the other day by the hon. Member for Central Sheffield on behalf of his unfortunate constituents. He might say that he visited Sheffield last year and went through some of the large iron and steel works there. He visited one works where they were producing steel of the highest quality, which they were exporting in large quantities to the United States, notwithstanding the very high duty which obtained there. The proprietor informed him that Sheffield was prospering, and that the increase of its rateable value had averaged £28,000 a year for the last five years, and it only required a simple calculation to ascertain that the capital value of that amounted to something like £1,000,000 per annum. And yet the hon. Gentleman opposite talked about his unfortunate constituents. The labour employed in producing this special kind of steel was mostly skilled labour, and the workmen earned from 7s to 8s per day. That was not sweated labour, although it was a very hot job. The state of the Sheffield trade and the effects of German tariffs upon it was illustrated by the fact that large works in Sheffield were extending their borders and increasing the size of their works, thus showing how much they were afraid of the foreign tariffs which the hon. Member for Central Sheffield was constantly bringing under the notice of the House. He was authorised by the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, who was a Conservative—

MR. SAMUEL ROBERTS (Sheffield, Ecclesall)

No, No.

SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)

Yes, he is.


said the Lord Mayor of Sheffield had refused to ask for any share of the Queen's Unemployed Fund on the ground that the number of unemployed in Sheffield was so small as to be below the normal average; and after searching investigation by the Distress Committee, the number of unemployed in Sheffield was found to be about 400 amongst a population of 430,000.


. The correct figure is 2,000.


said his authority was the Lord Mayor of Sheffield. He wished to point out to the House that the hon. Member for Central Sheffield was himself the director at the present moment of a prosperous Sheffield company, which last year paid a dividend of 22½ per cent. He noticed in The Times to-day that, notwithstanding the fear of foreign tariffs, the price of £1 shares in that company now stood at £4. Therefore it was idle for the hon. Member to treat this question in the way he did. Two years ago he addressed the House upon this question when trade was not so good; he then told the House that the best thing manufacturers could do was to put their house in order, and he ventured to give a description of a continuous process of making steel. That process had now been established through several large works in this country, and it enabled native ores in large quantities to be used. Two or three members of the Tariff Commission were directors of works which were now using this process. They were, at any rate, intelligent enough for that. Upon the general question he wished to refer to the opinion expressed by Sir Wilfred Laurier who had said— If we want to maintain the British Empire, for my own part my firm conviction is that it can be maintained upon one condition only' and that is that every component part of the Empire should be left to do the best it can for itself. In the course of the debate upon Mr. Villiers' Motion to which he had referred Mr. Gladstone said— It is not demonstration we have in view by figures or reasonings; it is to bring the question to a practical issue, to reflect the sentiments of the country, and be able to speak of the doctrine of protection as a thing past and. gone. These discussions and agitations were interfering with the ordinary course of trade and caused a restriction upon employment. He therefore moved this Resolution in order that the verdict of the Nation might to-day be recorded upon the question.

MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR (Liverpool, East Toxteth)

said he rose to second this Resolution which, from its nature, must necessarily be controversial. Perhaps, however, he would be allowed to associate himself with the expressions of satisfaction which had fallen from the mover of the Resolution at the restoration of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition to his accustomed place in the deliberations of this House. The first half of the Resolution was a declaration that they had in the main a House of Commons which had been returned pledged to the principles of free trade. It was possible that other issues might have entered into the election through which they had just passed, but he was quite willing to accept the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham that the Fiscal question was really the only question which the electorate were deeply exercised upon at the last election. Therefore, he could not imagine that the electors went to the ballot deeply exercised upon one question and forgot to register their conviction when they elected the present House of Commons. He had no sympathy with that frame of mind at all. Those who had made the appeal to Caesar accepted, he presumed, the responsibility of the verdict which had been given. If one pulled the string of a shower-bath expecting a gentle spray and got a deluge, one was apt to be told, if he shivered, that he ought not to have pulled the string. He thought for another reason that it was better that the House of Commons should proceed to register its verdict upon the main principle upon which it had been returned. They were told on excellent authority just before the general election that this House would be merely an interim House, that it would shortly disappear and give place, he supposed, to something more truly representative of British democratic art. It was perfectly true that every Parliament and every Member of every Parliament was in a certain sense an interlude. They were all interludes. He could apply that in the most exalted quarters in this House, but he refrained. If this House was indeed to be an interlude, surely it was all the more reason why they should seize the opportunity of securing a deliberate statement of its opinions on free trade before the opportunity disappeared from this transient and fleeting phantom. There was another reason, and that was that for the first time they were confronted with an Opposition which on the question of Tariff Reform was, with regard to leaders, a united Opposition. That was a good thing in every sense—good for the Party which they led, and good for the State. He hoped their union was perfect—as perfect as that of the famous double star Algol whose dual nature was only detected by the fact that one member of the system periodically eclipsed the other. In the second part of the Resolution they were asked to register their emphatic resistance to a duty on corn. He thought that was the main issue, or certainly one of the main issues, between Gentlemen on the opposite sides of the House. He and his friends objected in principle to a duty on corn for the purpose of preference. Hon. Members on the other side did not object to it as a matter of principle, and he understood that they were now prepared to adopt it, assuming, of course, that no better means could be found. He desired to call the attention of the House to the wheat movement of the last six years. He had not selected that period because of any capricious desire to use it for controversial purposes. The figures he was about to quote, though correct, he ventured to use merely as illustrations. He selected these six years because they bore testimony to the most extraordinary revolution in the supply of wheat to this country that it had ever known since it became dependent on other countries for its supply. There were six countries which stood out as the principal suppliers of wheat to this country. He believed there were about seventeen countries in all from which we drew our supplies, but it was to six which were specially prominent that he was specially justified in calling attention, namely, Russia, the United States, the Argentine, British India, Australia, and Canada. He would give the House in round figures the highest and lowest imports for these six years, and he would also say something about the prices. Russia in 1901 sent us 2,500,000 cwts. of wheat, and in 1905, 24,700,000 cwts. The United States used to be spoken of as the granary of this country, but that was an expression which must certainly be modified in view of the figures he was about to quote. In 1902 the United States sent us 43,300,000 cwts. of wheat, and in 1905 the amount shrank to 6,600,000 cwts. The Argentine, which in 1902 sent us 4,300,000 cwts., sent in 1905 no less than 23,230,000 cwts. British India, which in 1900 sent us the paltry quantity of only 6,000 cwts., sent in 1904, no less than 25,500,000 cwts. Australia, which in 1903 sent us 26 cwts. in 1904 sent 10,273,000 cwts. Canada, the steadiest of all the suppliers of wheat and the least sensational of them all, in 1903 sent us 10,800,000 cwts., the highest on record, and last year the quantity shrank to 6,200,000 cwts. He mentioned these interesting figures for the purpose of proving the vicissitudes of supply and the revolution in the sources of origin which this country had experienced during the last six years. He would now say a word about the prices of imported wheat, although the prices of English wheat bore out the argument equally well. During these six years the mean price per quarter was 29s. 4½d., and the extent to which it varied was small and insignificant, notwithstanding the gigantic revolution in the sources of supply to which he had called attention. In 1900 the mean price was 29s. 1¾d., a variation from the mean of the six years of 2¾d.; in 1901, 28s. 4½d., a variation of 1s.; in 1902, 28s. 8d., a variation of 8½d.; in 1903, 29s 1¼d., a variation of 3¼d.; in 1904, 30s. 1½d., a variation of 8d.; and in 1905, 30s. 11¾d., a variation of 1s. 7¼d.

MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)

Will the hon. Gentleman state what the prices were in the years when the shilling duty was put on, and taken off.


said he did not think that affected the argument. His argument was that although in the different countries of the origin of supply there were variations, the price in this country remained singularly steady. He took it that the proposition which the tariff reformers had before them was not to put a duty on wheat from everywhere, but to put a duty on wheat in such a sense as to boycott certain sources of supply and encourage others. In other words their policy, if it meant anything, was that out of these six countries Russia, the Argentine, and the United States were for some reason not to be allowed to supply us with wheat. [Cries of "Oh!"] If they wished a self-contained Empire that was of course what it meant. Our supplies were to be confined to the countries that fly the British flag. That was the policy which was challenged by this Resolution and which it was the emphatic duty of this House to challenge. He submitted that the figures which he had quoted showed that under the present system, by which everybody was allowed to manage his own business in the matter of wheat supply, did make for the most perfect security and stability in the prime article of bread for the crowded industrial population of this country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham hid commended his policy to the country on a three-fold line of argument. He had commended it on the ground of security. What position more secure could be imagined than that by which they gave to neutral countries an interest in disposing to us of the surplus of their bounteous harvests? Was that the kind of illegitimate competition against which they desired to protect the country? From the point of view of the security and stability of the Empire nothing ought to be allowed which would interfere for a moment with that perfect mechanism which the figures he had given so beautifully illustrated. In regard to the ground of mutual bargain between ourselves and the Colonies, he might refer to a speech by Mr. Fisher, Minister of Agriculture in Canada. Mr. Fisher had most honestly pointed out the difference between what Canada had to offer on the one hand and what we had to give on the other, and how utterly impossible it was to compare the knocking off of a few bricks from the top of a tariff wall already constructed with the entire change in our fiscal system, and, if they liked to call it so, our rooted prejudice, which was proposed when it was suggested that we should as a policy put these duties on wheat. The last ground adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was the appeal to the sentiment of Imperial unity—one to which he himself wherever he stood in this House would always respond. From that point of view the words already quoted by the mover of the Resolution were in a certain sense a sufficient answer He did not believe that the cause of Imperial unity would be imperilled if the House registered their verdict to-day that it was not in the interest of the people of this country to interfere with the food supply by artificial means. He looked to the words of Sir Wilfred Laurier who, when asked what would be the effect on his policy of the results of the recent election in Great Britain, remarked— I have only to say that the issue of the election in Great Britain is to the British people alone. Whatever Party is in office, we are friends of that Party. Whatever Party is in Opposition, we are friends of that Party. We want to be on good terms with the whole people of Great Britain. Thus, though he believed that disastrous results had followed the propositions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham in some directions, there was, at any rate, this consolation, that in the great self-governing Colonies of the Empire he did not believe any bad results would follow. They would remain attached to the Empire and to the old country by ligaments which were more enduring than the bonds of material interest. They must recognise in this House—this democratic House of Parliament—he supposed the first House of Commons which had ever contained the pure milk of democracy—constituent elements more akin to the Parliaments of the great self-governing Colonies than any of its predecessors. And he ventured to hope that it might be possible—he believed it would be possible—although they were bound to reject a proposition which would interfere with the food supplies of this country, to maintain the great cause of unity between the component parts of the Empire, and to travel in harmony, in good fellowship, with all who were bound together as nations in the bundle of life under the British flag—not as it was once called a mere commercial asset, but as a symbol of the living ideas which had permeated this Empire from the centre to the periphery.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House, recognising that in the recent General Election the people of the United Kingdom have demonstrated their unqualified fidelity to the principles and practice of Free Trade, deems it right to record its determination to resist any proposal, whether by way of taxation upon foreign corn, or of the creation of a general tariff upon foreign goods, to create in this country a system of protection."—(Sir James Kitson.)

MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)

I think everybody will admit that the two hon. gentlemen who have just moved and seconded the Resolution which you, Mr. Speaker, have read from the Chair, have performed their task with great moderation, and that nothing has escaped them which could give just cause of offence to any Party on either side of the House, whatever their opinions may be. I have one fundamental comment to make on those two speeches, but, before I come to it, I may perhaps say incidentally that I was rather surprised at the mover of the Resolution giving us, as one of the chief arguments which had influenced him and which ought to influence the House, the history of what took place in Yorkshire in the year 1852. The hon. Gentleman gave us an account of how, on the advent of Lord Derby to power, there spread throughout the country a great feeling of uneasiness lest there was to be a reversal of the policy inaugurated by Sir Robert Peel in 1846. Mr. Cobden was greatly agitated and proceeded to stump the country, and, with that remarkable ability which he always showed when he was dealing with these matters, to do his best to prevent any return to the pre-1846 system. But, said the mover of the Motion, after all, these fears were unnecessary. Mr. Disraeli soon after made a declaration that Free Trade in corn would be maintained. That was acquiesced in by everybody concerned on both sides of politics, and since then, during the past forty or fifty years, he said, this question has been at rest. The system which was thus warmly assented to by Mr. Cobden, by Mr. Gladstone, by the Peelites, by the Whig Party and by the Radical Party, left a shilling duty on corn. I understand, therefore, from the hon. Gentleman that in his view a shilling duty on corn was no interference with Free Trade, and that if there were an adequate reason for such a duty, financial or otherwise, whatever criticism he might make on that policy he would feel himself debarred from saying that it would interfere with the principles of Free Trade in food as understood by Mr. Cobden. The other observation the hon. Gentleman made which rather surprised me was that these discussions upon the fiscal system of the country, all this calling in question the established practice, do infinite harm to trade; they disturb people's minds; they upset commerce, and they interfere with enterprise. Yes, but that observation came at an unfortunate moment. It came at the end of half an hour's explanation that never has trade of this country been so prosperous.


I referred to our external trade. [OPPOSITION cries of "Oh, oh."]


That is a subtle distinction which I cannot follow. I understand that the meaning of the hon. Gentleman is that a discussion on fiscal policy stimulates and aids external trade, but is a disadvantage to internal trade. I do not know upon what theoretical or practical basis he founds that strange conclusion, but at all events we may congratulate ourselves with him that the state of trade in the country is such as to make him at all events certain that no change in our fiscal system should be adopted. But is he going to be shaken in that view if prosperity decreases and trade diminishes? Is his faith only a faith for fine weather? I remember it was only about five or six years ago that the present Prime Minister told us we were being outstripped by all our rivals. I do not know whether that fact, if it was a fact, would have any effect upon the fiscal views of the hon. Gentleman, but if it would not, if his views upon what he described as free trade and what he described as protection are quite unaltered by these familiar oscillations of prosperity and adversity, why did he give us this long explanation, very interesting in itself, of the present prosperity of the country? It would have been wholly irrelevant and would have had no connection whatever with the question now before the House. I think that is the true view, and personally I do not base my view upon fiscal questions either upon the momentary prosperity or the momentary adversity of the trade of country. The hon. Gentleman takes a different view. Then why does he talk about this matter?

MR. THEODORE TAYLOR (Lancashire, Radcliffe)

It was to confute the arguments of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham.


Why then did he explain that the country was never more prosperous? It could only be that it had some relevance to the Motion which Mr. Speaker was to put from the Chair. Before I come to my main criticism of the two speeches, may I thank both hon. Gentlemen for the courteous terms in which they have referred to my return to these familiar scenes? The hon. Member for the East Toxteth Division of Liverpool gave us an interesting account of the sources of food supply which have reached this country during the last five years and the price of corn during those years. I interrupted—I hope not discourteously—and ventured to ask him if he could tell us the date at which the shilling duty on corn was put on and taken off during the period he took under review. I have not had time to compare the prices, but I think you will find that unaccountably the price falls when the duty is put on and rises when it is taken off. I think he will find that the effect of that shilling duty on corn was masked by much greater and more powerful causes, which no doubt do affect the prices of wheat in this country. If the small duty on corn which was universal in its operation was completely masked by other causes at work during the same period, surely a small duty on corn which is not universal would be still more effectively masked by these same causes. I would call attention now to a common peculiarity of both speeches of the hon. Gentlemen. It was that they were really not directed towards the support of the Motion now before the House; they were an attack upon the views held or supposed to be held by my right hon. friend and myself as well as by our friends on this side of the House. In other words the Motion before us is, as I have already suggested, a vote of censure upon the Opposition. This is a novel Parliamentary operation, but it is an operation with which the Government have deliberately associated themselves. The Resolution was moved, as was often the case, by an unofficial Member, but when a Government gives time to unofficial Members to move Motions of this sort, it is well understood by all familiar with Parliamentary work that it is in effect a Government proposal and that the Government are responsible for it. They are responsible for the use of the time of the House, they are responsible for the wording of the Resolution itself, and they are responsible for the object with which it is brought forward. Now I venture to say, having had some little experience in these questions, that no Government can do a more foolish thing in this world than raise unnecessary controversy. It will be their misfortune, as it has been the misfortune of every Government who preceded them, and as it will be that of every Government who are going to succeed them—if our powers of vision can look forward to so distant a period—it is the misfortune of every Government in this country that in carrying on the business, legislative or administrative, of the country it has to raise or is obliged to raise questions which carry with them the bitterest controversy. But I never yet heard of a Government which knew its business which raised an unnecessary debate, and gave up its own time, which should be devoted to its own business, to picking a quarrel with the Opposition. It is of course the business of the Opposition to pick quarrels with the Government, and I hope we shall not fall far behind our predecessors in carrying out that recognised duty. But that the Government should come to our assistance, that they should help us in our task, that they should make difficulties for themselves in the vain hope of embarrassing us, does appear to me to be the most extraordinary policy which I have ever seen in all my experience of Parliamentary life. If they like it, I do not know why they should Hot continue it. I could suggest other Motions on similar lines. I do not see why the Government should not give time for the discussion of a Resolution that the people of the United Kingdom, having shown their unqualified fidelity to the principles and practice of religious liberty, are therefore solemnly determined that the education of every child should be that which the local authority desires.

We might also havea another Resolution saying that the people of this country, having shown their unqualified fidelity to the hatred of slavery, the Government had therefore determined to leave it to somebody else to decide whether slavery should be continued. I can promise the Government that if they will bring on these Motions—I have only given a rough sketch of them—they will have as interesting debates as I think I can promise them they will have on the present occasion. Now, my criticism on the two interesting and excellent speeches which have just been delivered is that both the mover and the seconder of the Resolution absolutely forgot what it was they were doing, or trying to do. They were absolutely trying to pledge the majority of the House of Commons to a policy which is to last through the time of the present Parliament. They supposed themselves to be speaking in favour of a vote of censure on my right hon. friend and myself; but if anybody will look at the Resolution they will see that it has nothing whatever to do with particular individuals or parties in this House. What it does is to require the House of Commons to pledge itself for six years to a particular policy. If that be admitted, and I do not think it can be denied, there is not a man on either side of the House who will not agree with me that the terms in which that solemn league and covenant is going to be embodied should be absolutely clear. There should be no mistake about the terms of the pledge which the House of Commons is making and which should define the action of the Government, who agree with the Resolution, and of the majority who vote for it, and make it absolutely beyond dispute what it is they are pledging themselves and the country to do or to abstain from doing during the term of this Parliament I daresay the term of this Parliament will approach the legal term of Parliaments, and, at all events, without serious chance of error I may put it at six years. Therefore, this is a pledge which the House of Commons is exacting from the majority of its Members as to what they may or may not do on certain very important matters for six years to come. I think that that is an act of very great importance, involving very wide issues, and calling upon us to examine with the greatest care the terms on which this pledge is to be exacted. I will ask one or two questions of the Government as to the meaning which they attach to the pledge which they are exacting from the majority of Members. In the first place, I should like to ask whether it is by deliberate intention that the words, "or otherwise," have been omitted after the word "goods" in the last line of the Resolution. If hon. Gentlemen will take the Resolution in their hands and read it, they will see that, as it stands on the Paper, in its preamble it alleges that— The people of the United Kingdom have demonstrated their unqualified fidelity to the principles and practice of free trade. They will then see, if they look at the operative part of the Resolution, that there are only two ways in which the framers of the Resolution debar the principles and practice of free trade, as they understand the words, from being violated. Is that intentional? Do they deliberately desire to affirm that? Is it their deliberate intention to allow free trade to be violated in other ways except by imposing a duty on corn or on foreign goods? [MINISTERIAL cries of "No."] I accept with pleasure that irresponsible denial on some of the back benches, but this is a question which should be answered across the Table. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No, no."] At all events, one thing is plain, and that is that the Government do not know; and I must say, for I know how mistakes may occur in drafting, that considering that this Resolution has been put down by two gentlemen of great ability, that it has been the subject of arrangement with the Government, who have made themselves responsible for the terms of the Resolution and have very likely helped to draw it, it is very extraordinary that they do not know now whether the repudiation of protection during this Parliament is a repudiation which only applies to two methods of carrying protection into effect or whether it does not.


Is the right hon. Gentleman serious?


I did not believe that could be the intention, but when I saw that a gloomy silence pervaded that bench at my examination of the Resolution, I began to have some suspicion; but I am perfectly content. I am sure it was never intended, and therefore I may take it for granted, that the Government will themselves put down an Amendment to put the Resolution right. But there can be absolutely no doubt as to what the grammatical meaning is. It does shut out only two methods of carrying on what they call protection while it leaves open all the others. Is it worth while for this House to go through a debate on this Resolution as if you intended to prevent any form of protection at all? I hope the Government will make the Resolution conform to their own intentions. This, I take it, is merely a blunder. I have had to do with the drawing of too many Resolutions myself to be too severe upon such a blunder; but I think this is rather a curious one, and it is strange that it should have escaped so many vigilant eyes. I come now to what is intended by the Government when they ask the House to place the Resolution as an effective Motion upon our journals. If I understand the Resolution rightly, they regard the existence of a single import duty unbalanced by an equal Excise duty as constituting a system of protection. If they do not mean that they will again have to amend the Resolution, because they distinctly say that any tax on foreign corn does in itself constitute a system of protection. Therefore, any import tax unbalanced by an equal Excise tax is a system of protection. It is perfectly well known that we have at this moment in existence two import taxes which are not actually balanced by any system of Excise duty, the tobacco duty and the cocoa duty. I greatly regret that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, owing to an accident, is prevented from being here this afternoon, but, were he here, he would be the last to deny that the actual operation of the tobacco duty and the cocoa duty is to give a protective benefit to the manu- facturers of finished cocoa and finished tobacco. Now, I should like to know whether the Government intend to modify that system or not? I should strongly advise them not to modify it; for it might involve them in an embarrassing controversy, but evidently, if they mean to retain those two protective duties, they must make the formal exception in this Resolution. You cannot bind the House of Commons, as you propose to bind it, not to introduce a protective system when you hold, firstly, that a single unbalanced duty constitutes a protective system, and secondly, as you must hold, that we have at this moment two import duties which have a decidedly protective effect; and, therefore, I hope the Government will inform me at once, after I have finished, whether they intend to modify the protective duties now in existence, and, if they do not, whether they will put down the requisite Amendment to the Resolution, so as to make the Resolution conform with the policy which they and their followers intend to carry out. The third point I have to ask is this, and it is of more importance than the one I have referred to. Of course, the word protection here is used in the technical sense in which the word is employed in economic discussion. It does not mean the protection which is provided by your fleets, armies, administration, and so forth. Very well. Now, if you use the word in the technical sense, there is no man acquainted with the writings of political economists who will contradict me when I say that any legislation the effect of which is to diminish the importation into this country of foreign labour is protective in the economic sense. If that be so, if you pass this Resolution as it stands you will be precluded for six years, whatever contingency may arise, from touching that question. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No."] My hon. friend the Member for Stepney had an Amendment on the Paper to prevent foreign labour being introduced into this country at the crisis of a strike. By this Resolution as it stands you cannot attempt to deal with a thing of that kind during the lifetime of this Parliament. One of the amiable fictions which obtained wide currency in some of the constituencies during the election was that Chinese labour was going to be introduced in order to displace either the agricultural labourer or the miner or both. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Where" and "Name."] I do not myself see any signs of a great Chinese immigration, but there is' no law against it, and there is no doubt the Chinese have in large numbers invaded great industrial countries and displaced a great amount of local labour. Suppose that were to take place here, I for one should certainly not dismiss the idea of dealing with the problem by legislation. Then why dismiss the idea for six years by your Resolution? There is no economist in this House who will say that the intrepretation I have put on economic language is extravagant; and if that be so, then you ought to make your terms clear. Before you enter into this controversy you must make it obvious what you mean and what you do not mean. [An HON. MEMBER: On a half sheet of note-paper.] Again it is laid down in the Resolution that a general tariff, howsoever constituted, whatever be the object of its framers, or the method on which it is framed, by itself constitutes an invasion of free trade and a system of protection. Well, India has a general tariff. I presume, therefore, in the opinion of every gentleman who votes for this Resolution, India has a protective system. Now the financial policy of India is absolutely under the control of this House; and therefore those who think that a tariff, however framed, is necessarily protective, who admit, as they must, that India has it, and that we can regulate in this House the tariff of India, must recognise that they think one system good for India and another system good for this country. They think that protection, as they define it, is good for India and bad for this country.

SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

Is there not an Excise duty on cotton?


India has no general tariff.


I cannot imagine this House destroying the financial system of India; but, consider, every man who is going to vote for this Resolution believes in his version of free trade, not as being good relative to Great Britain alone, but as being good for all times and all places. Free trade is held by these Gentlemen—it certainly was by Mr. Cobden—as an absolute doctrine, as the proper system on which to carry on the fiscal system of every country. If that be their view, they ought to say clearly whether they mean to interfere with India or with any other of our dependencies within our administrative control, or whether they do not mean to apply to those dependencies the same system which on universal grounds they think desirable for this country. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India interrupted me just now very courteously, and said India has not a general tariff. The term "general tariff," no doubt, like the word "protection," is ambiguous; but before asking the House to enter into this solemn league and covenant they will perhaps make it clear what they do mean by a general tariff. It is one thing to use the word in platform discussion, in private conversation, or in debate; it is another thing to put it down in a Resolution and bind the House of Commons while the House of Commons is still in being. The general tariff as used in Germany means a tariff which is general because it is applied to all countries in which an exception has not been made. The right hon. Gentleman will at all events admit that there are in India Customs imposed upon imports with no corresponding Excise excepting only, so far as I know, the case of cotton.


And sugar.


The sugar case is a different case. I will accept sugar for the sake of argument, but the right hon. Gentleman will not deny that there are duties in India in which there has been no attempt made to put on an Excise. India, therefore, is a protective country, as defined. I must say that it is a most anomalous thing for the House, without explanation, to lay down this hard-and-fast doctrine for itself as to what is eternally right in the matter of taxation, when a country which it has in the hollow of its hand is permitted by it, and I presume is going to be permitted by it, to violate all the canons of free trade and to adopt what is described here as a system of protection. There is another point which I think every one must admit is of extreme importance. You are going by this Resolution for six years to prevent the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day putting on any duty of any sort or kind, or for any purpose whatever, which has not a precisely corresponding Excise. Has the House considered what a self denying ordinance of that sort may mean? Have they considered how difficult it is to increase revenue on the present basis of taxation? Have they considered the claims which may be made—some of which will be made—upon the taxation of this country for carrying out social reforms? Have they considered the necessities which may be thrown on this country by the accidents of foreign complications? I notice that while the Government talk, no doubt very sincerely, but glibly, about protection, they are pledged to the feeding of school children, to old-age pensions, to payment of Members, to payment of election expenses; and they are considering also the desirability of increasing the remuneration of the great Civil Service of the country. They are hardly likely to get through the education debates without some further calls on the public funds. They have got to deal with the difficulties of local taxation, which in some places, at all events, are of the most tremendous description. In addition to all that, they are pledged to an addition to the Sinking Fund in order to make further provision for Debt. All these are certain calls upon the finances of the country. How about uncertain calls? Is there any man who thinks that his powers of prophecy are such that he can look forward to six years and be confident that within that period no cloud shall arise upon our political horizon, no danger menace us-from abroad, no necessity be thrown upon us for increasing military preparations—that there is no probability of war arising and all that war means? That the Government are earnestly desirous of peace I know. No Government ever have existed in this country, or ever could exist, which were not, for their own sake if not for the country's, earnestly desirous of peace. But can we always command that which we earnestly desire? Is it in the power of any Cabinet Minister, however circumspect, or any Cabinet, however cautious, to say, now at the beginning of March, 1906, "We look forward with absolute assurance and clear-sighted vision to the next six years, and we promise that nothing shall arise from external causes which need occasion any heavy expenditure or any anxiety to the Chancellor of the Exchequer?" The Government which would pledge itself to such a prophecy would be a Government of charlatans; but this Government is not a Government of charlatans, and it very well knows that no such prophecy can be made. Any man who would make it would write himself down a fool or a knave. If that be so, have you got clearly before you how you are going to find the necessary money without putting on a Customs duty which shall not have an exactly corresponding Excise? It will tax the ingenuity of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and all his colleagues to find any method of raising large sums of money without widening the basis of taxation, and they will find it uncommonly difficult to widen the basis of taxation in order to meet great and growing needs without violating the principles they have laid down in this Resolution. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer seriously thinks that, by manipulating the death duties, by taxing ground values, or by any other expedient of that sort, he is going to meet the kind of need of which I am speaking, I can assure him he has not given adequate attention to what may be a most pressing subject and a most anxious matter of debate within these walls. Unless the Government are—I was going to say insane, but that would sound disrespectful—but unless they are so intent upon carrying their vote of censure against the Opposition as absolutely to forget the responsibility which has been put upon them, they will surely add some ider to this Resolution which will say that in time of great national emergency, or for some great national object, this so-called economical principle which they proclaim in the Resolution may be violated. But I see no sign of that. That is the substance of what I have got to say at the present stage of the debate. The question of what is the fiscal policy which I recommend is interesting and no doubt important; it can, however, hardly become a matter of practical constructive policy for a few years; and there are other questions even more pressing raised in the Amendment of my right hon. friend, upon the discussion of which I shall be delighted to give a full account of my views on the question. But that is not the Resolution before the House. The Resolution pledges the House to a particular course of action for six years, and we cannot rationally discuss that course of action unless the Government tell us exactly what the terms in which the Resolution is couched exactly mean. I will therefore repeat my questions for their satisfaction. As to the first. With regard to the Omission of the words "or otherwise" after the word "goods" in the Resolution, I understand the Government are going to put that right. My second question is—Are they going to abolish the existing protective duties in this country, and, if not, are they going to put in any Amendment excepting them by name and explicitly? Otherwise, it is perfectly clear that the whole Resolution becomes nonsense, because the country has at this moment what they would call a system of protection in full force; and how absurd their position will be when they are asked on the Budget whether they adhere to the terms of their Resolution. The third question is—Whether they are prepared to move, or to assent to others moving, words which will make it clear that, in refusing to deal with protection, we do not refuse to deal with the protection of labour. The fourth question is—Do they propose to take any steps to abolish the protection which they say now exists in India; and, if not, whether they ought not to make a special exemption of India and other dependencies over which we have control, so as to make it clear that this House is conscious in laying down these principles that they are insular and solely for internal application. The fifth question is—Will they consent to put words into this Resolution which shall make it possible for the House, without stulifying itself, in times of great national emergency, or for the purpose of carrying out some great social reform, to broaden the basis of taxation, even though it be found practically impossible to carry out that broadening process without putting on Custom duties that shall not be exactly and nicely balanced by Excise?

These are five questions of great importance, the purport of which I have made as clear as I can, to which I hope the Government will give an immediate answer, since they must themselves feel that so long as so many ambiguities lurk in the terms of their Resolution it is quite impossible for this House to conduct a debate upon it with any prospect of arriving at a clear and satisfactory conclusion.

MR. RUSSELL REA (Gloucester)

said that the right hon. Gentleman—


Is no member of the Government going to reply?


rose and remained standing amid loud cries of "Name, name" and "Order, order" from the MINISTERIAL Benches.


I have called upon the hon. Member for Gloucester. [OPPOSITION cries of "Bannerman, Bannerman."]


said that this Resolution affirmed the fidelity of the people of this country to the principles and practice of free trade. Its practice was directly attacked by the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham; its fundamental principles were no less directly attacked by the economic teaching of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. These two champions of protection quite understood and adopted the economic principle of the division of labour. One of them had a policy—a very clear and definite policy—but he had no theory of international exchange and finance, and it was impossible to reconcile his various speeches and arguments with any consistent theory of international exchange of products—free trade or protectionist, nationalistic or cosmopolitan. The other champion had a theory, a consistent, a logical, but, he believed, erroneous, theory of British or insular trade, but then he had no policy. He had lately—apparently unwillingly—been induced to admit that his theory might include and even lead to the policy of the other, but he still seemed to hope it would not do so. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, when he did condescend to touch upon any of the principles that did, and must, govern international trade, said— Surely it is a mathematical truth that if imports come into this country of manufactured goods which we can make as well as any other nation, they must displace labour. And he went on to calculate from time to time how many thousands of British workmen were deprived of their living by this or that particular import. It was the utterance of this ancient and thousand times refuted fallacy that induced Professor Marshall to sign the celebrated manifesto of the sixteen professors of economic science against the right hon. Gentleman's policy. At Newcastle the right hon. Gentleman actually argued that the total stoppage of not only all our export trade, but of all production of every description at home, would result in an immediate increase of our imports to the prodigious sum of £1,918,000,000. When faced with the definite question in an abstract form, whether we pay for our imports by the produce of British labour, he would grudgingly admit it, and nine-tenths of his arguments were implicit denials of this axiomatic truth. On the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition had, he admitted, a scientific theory of international trade. He was no vulgar hater of imports; he was only concerned with his speculations as to how they could continue to maintain the imports in the future, and continue to pay for them with the labour. But then he had no policy; the nearest thing they had got to a policy were declarations such as the following— He is opposed to confining our import duties to duties for revenue only. At the same time— he is also opposed to imposing duties for the purpose of protecting the home producer. He is not opposed in principle to a tax on corn, but he accepted the probability that— the country will not tolerate a tax on food. He was opposed to a general tariff—on 13th February, 1906, he refused to accept its necessity, but the next day, on the 14th, he accepted it in principle, if the necessity, in which he did not believe, should arise. These four general propositions constituted his policy, his whole policy, as far as it was disclosed. As an economist he understood and respected the right hon Gentleman, although he believed that his conclusions respecting British trade were curiously wrong; but as a politician and tariff reformer he had yet to begin to discover his policy. But both these Gentlemen agreed in one thing. They were both free traders; the real thing, the ultimate, but distant free trade was their ideal. If they were free traders, then so was Friederich List, the great prophet of protection—the protectionists' Adam Smith. No one had given so glowing a picture of the ultimate millenium of free trade, of the wealth and prosperity, "passing the power of the most vivid imagination to conceive," as List himself. But meanwhile they were protectionists. They belonged to the school of those who "sin that grace may abound." Both these Gentlemen agreed also in this—they regarded this country as on the highway to industrial decline, to an absolute decline, and far advanced on the road of a relative decline compared with her rivals and competitors in trade. They both based their argument on the fact that other nations, particularly Germany and America, had increased not only their total national product of manufactured articles, but their exports of manufactured goods, at a greater rate and even in greater actual amount than we had done. If this was true, and if it was the result of our fiscal policy, then our policy stood condemned. Well, as a fact, it was true, the phenomenon was undeniable. They must examine and understand this phenomenon, for it lay at the basis of all the protectionist arguments. Had the increase of the manufactures of America and Germany been the consequence of their fiscal policy, and had it been at our expense? These were the questions they must answer, and the answer was not difficult. The particular direction of these American and German manufactures might have been the consequence of their fiscal policy, the amount of that development had not. It was inevitable under any fiscal system, protectionist or free trade; and it had not been at our expense on the whole; if one of our industries had suffered another had profited. In the modern industrial age the world's consumption of manufactured articles had increased ten-fold. Sixty years ago England was the workshop of the world, but the dogma that it was to be always the sole workshop of the world—that they could monopolise the infinitely expanded trade of the world—was a palpable absurdity. They could not keep the whole, but he maintained that they were keeping the first call on the trade of the world, they were keeping the best of the trade, and they were keeping as much as they could do in good times. Anything beyond this—it was "a mathematical truth," as the right hon. Gentleman would say—must overflow to other nations. Germany had of late been passing through a stage of social and economic development which we passed through a generation earlier. She had been drafting into her cities a large half-employed, under-fed, under-paid, agricultural population to found her now manufacturing industries. This country no longer had this resource, it was dried up; our agricultural districts wore to-day under-peopled, and the land was crying out for labour. In this migration of population from country to town, we were at least a generation ahead of Germany, and she had just passed through what must necessarily be the most rapid period in her manufacturing growth. That was the explanation, and the sufficient explanation, of the more rapid growth of German manufactures than of our own. But bad not this growth been at our expense? It had not. We had kept, not the whole, but the best, and we had kept as much as we could do in good times. Our existing industries were sufficient to absorb all available and willing workers in good times. Take the year 1899, a year of booming trade, and a year of peace—at that time our prosperity reached saturation point, we had as much as we could hold. Every mill, factory, mine, and ship, and every man in this country, was fully employed, every employer was looking out for hands, every man had the choice of two jobs. Orders of all kinds were refused by our manufacturers; he knew by his own experience, both in his own business, and as a railway director, that orders overflowed to the foreigners because we could not take them. And yet this was a period in which notably German and American exports expanded more than our own, and the tariff reformers told them that this increase was at our expense. If this was so, they were bound to tell how we could have taken it on, what we could have done more than we did, or what we could have done better than we did. The problem of the unemployment of the willing and the fit was simply a question of mitigating and tiding over bad times; that and that only. It followed from this, that to import a trade by tariffs and taxes was not a measure that would absorb the unemployed. That was to import unemployment as well as employment. This the Americans found when, at an enormous cost to other unprotected industries, they violently imported a tin plate manufacture. That he might read a full report of the speech of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham in South Wales, in which he gave this as a striking example of pure profit to America and pure loss to us, he bought a Cardiff newspaper, and in the very same issue that recorded his speech, he read these words in their market report— The condition of the American tin plate industry is most unsatisfactory, one half the mills being closed down, and the American Tinplate Company has reduced its quotation for plates by 20 cents on the 100 lb. box. Little business is said to be coming in from canners. Independent sheet mill owners have secured a reduction of 20 per cent. in wages. No such state of affairs at that time or since had existed in South Wales. America had imported this unemployment, and her unemployment was always greatest in her protected industries. It was obvious that the problem of the unemployed must be attacked by other methods than tariffs. It might be said that he was an optimist. He confessed that the more study he gave to this question, the more optimistic he became. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham called himself an optimist; if he was, all he could say was that so were Jonah and Jeremiah. Let them very shortly examine the arguments against the optimistic view of the British commercial position of both the right hon. Gentlemen, of the one who did not call himself an optimist, of the Jonah, who was cast out into the deep, but after little more than three days had come back to the surface, and of Jeremiah. The arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham were entirely statistical. They had been dealt with over and over again with particular ability and effect by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but during the two years and a half of this controversy he had been met by an even more formidable antagonist; he had been confuted most successfully by the mysterious providence whose dealings were revealed monthly by the Board of Trade. If the right hon. Gentleman said our foreign trade was failing us, and the loss was only hidden from our eyes by the increase of our colonial trade, immediately the foreign exports leaped forward and restored precisely the old relative proportion between the two. If he said it was our export of manufactures that was less and the loss was hidden from our eyes by the increased shipments of coal at high prices, immediately coal exports shrunk in value, and manufactures jumped forward, and doubly made up the difference. If he said our old staple exports were declining and we were being reduced to secondary products, "pickles and jam," then, as by magic, these same "staple" exports, cotton, wool, iron and machinery bounded in advance. He had proved to be a Balaam, but a Balaam with a difference from his prototype, the old Balaam came to curse, but was constrained by a higher power to bless; the new Balaam got through his curses all fight, but his curses seemed to be the very spells that immediately brought down the blessings. He always was rather sorry for Balaam. The arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition were not statistical; they were pure deductive reasoning. He admitted freely that the right hon. Gentleman was a well-instructed, theoretical deductive economist. He admitted his theory, that its application to England was intelligible, that it was consistent with itself, and that the right hon. Gentleman had always consistently held it. He was possessed by a theory that oppressed him like a nightmare—it was a nightmare. It started thus, "The world except ourselves has, rightly or wrongly, insisted that industry shall run upon national, and not upon cosmopolitan lines." Therefore what could be more clear than the deduction that our industries must inevitably be gradually contracted into a like national area, whether we would or not. The whole course of the inevitable decay of British trade could be logically deduced from one or two epigrams—at least from neatly and epigramatically expressed general propositions. For example, that by foreign tariffs trade was forced to flow along channels "engineered," not by nature, but by law "and diplomacy," was undeniable. From this he deduced the conclusion that we were forced by foreign tariffs to change our industries from the channels into which they had been "engineered" into others; and then this further deduction. These changes were "to trades" presumably less remunerative "than the old," that was to say from the higher to the lower. So far the right hon. Gentleman had proved the degradation of British trade by abstract reasoning. Another of his general statements was that "our large imports are a vital necessity to us, and the exports required to pay for them are not necessities to foreign nations." This also was undeniable. His deductions were, firstly, that we were therefore at a disadvantage in the business; secondly, that we must therefore purchase our imports by continually lowering, our prices; thirdly, that our imports must "therefore" become "first costly, then unattainable." He had now proved by pure deductive logic not only the degradation but the annihilation of our foreign trade. When the right hon. Gentleman addressed the British Association he asked them this question, alluding to another subject— Do we not here touch a series of problems with which that most unsatisfactory branch of philosophy, inductive logic, ought to deal? He would ask the right hon. Gentleman to put that question to himself. Let him "revise his principles in the light of experience," another of his own phrases. He would find the nationalistic system of economics and policy had failed—was failing all round. It was fighting against modern forces stronger than tariffs. His own deductions might be logical, but they did not "come off"—they did not happen, or they did not produce the results he expected. Take the last assumption first, that because our imports were necessary to us, we were at a disadvantage in the bargain, we should have constantly to reduce our prices, and that our exports would become first difficult, then unattainable. This assumption, if accurate, would by this time be susceptible of statistical proof. It had received, on the contrary, statistical disproof. The Board of Trade had shown that, although both the prices of our exports and imports had greatly decreased in thirty years, yet it was the foreigner who had reduced his prices the most. We were getting more and not less foreign goods for our goods. In this, as in the other deductive arguments of the Protectionist school, the "inevitable" consequences bad not "come off." We had not been "engineered" out of lower industries into higher. We had been engineered out of some primary manufactures into some secondary and higher ones. It might not have been intended, but it had happened. Above all other trades we had been "engineered" by foreign tariffs into our lonely and unchallengeable supremacy in shipping, or rather, foreign nations had "engineered" themselves out of the very trade they most envied and most desired. Did the right hon. Gentleman know that we performed more shipping services for the celebrated group of ten protectionist countries than we did for this country itself? Thus they who might refuse out cotton and our iron were forced by the economic law from which there was no escape to accept payment for their exports to us in a form in which they would least wish to do so. Shipping was only one of the trades into which we had been "engineered"; there were other examples. Time would fail to describe the economic process by which the Protectionist policy of other nations had secured the supremacy of the "land of free imports" in the business of merchants, distributors, brokers, bankers, and insurance. To say that we were being "engineered" into inferior trades was to say that bankers, merchants, brokers, shipowners, and officers and crews, skilled engineers and machine makers, were inferior to the old furnace men and puddlers, or the naked and parboiled men he remembered in the sugar-houses in his boyhood. A survey of international commerce as it existed showed that, when a nation endeavoured to monopolise its own market for its own producers, it was forced to surrender the new and higher occupations that were essentially international. It surrendered them to us. Such a nation was fighting against great forces: material—such as the cheapening and quickening of carriage by sea and land; and moral and social—such as the increase of commercial intercourse and information, and the habit of travel; forces which made for international inter-dependence, friendship, and peace. These forces produced new trades: the trades which were the product of these forces were the higher trades; the country that secured these trades was the free-trade country. And thus the nation that held and followed the morally higher theory of trade had its reward even in this world. How these higher forces worked in commerce and counteracted the lower was best illustrated by the very phenomenon on which, not only the right hon. Gentleman, but all tariff reformers most loved to dwell. It was their favourite, the most telling argument—it was that the British manufacturer, shut out of a foreign country by a tariff, took himself, his capital, his machinery, and sometimes his men, and flourished mightily abroad, instead of starving at home, to our national loss. The fact that these emigrations of capital had taken place could not be denied, but they were not so frequent now as they were in the early days of American protection. But he asked the House to notice what followed to the protected state—to notice how retribution followed, and in the end restitution too. When its protected infant industries had grown to be protected giants, when they aspired to an export trade—a "world trade"—they found that, on the whole, the best results in product for a given expenditure could be obtained in the "land of free imports," and one after another they established their works in England. They brought their German education, their American enterprise and organising power, and their capital to this country, when they established themselves on British soil, paid British taxes, and employed the highest and best paid of our working population. There could be no doubt that, during the last few years, the tide had turned, and this immigration of capitalist aliens had much exceeded the flight of British manufacturing capital to protected areas. It was one of the most conspicuous developments of English trade. It should be observed, too, that it was the very best firms who felt most strongly the attractive force of this free-trade country. It was the largest maker of electric machinery in the world that had come from America to establish itself at Rugby; it was the largest maker of mining machinery in the world which had come from Chicago and San Francisco to start near London. The Trafford Park Works of a Pittsburg firm were the largest and best equipped works of their kind in the world. Thus the protection of protectionist countries defeated itself. It drove to our shores and our service the finest products of German education and training, and the best enterprise and most highly specialised skill and capital of America, to work out its full development in the "land of free imports." From every point of view British free trade stood justified—ethically, it was the path of honesty and commercial purity; politically, it was the path of safety and peace; and no less in the sphere of economics, it was the path of profit. Tariff reformers were waiting for the tide to turn—for the pendulum to swing. In his opinion great nonsense was talked about the swing of the pendulum. We had had Free Trade for sixty years, and now, for the first time the question had been again referred back to the constituencies, and it was found that the pendulum had not even begun to swing in sixty years. Did hon. Members opposite really believe that it would swing in sixty-five or seventy years? He thought they would discover that the English people occasionally made a decision that was final and irrevocable. They made such a decision in favour of the freedom of the individual conscience at the time of the Reformation, and three centuries later they made a similar kind of decision in favour of freedom of trade. After an interval of time, from the period of Cranmer and Knox, about equal to that which now separated us from the triumph of Cobden, certain Englishmen objected to the inconvenience of so many individual consciences; they thought the pendulum was swinging back from freedom to protection of conscience. They looked at the continent of Europe, as our protectionists were doing; they saw the Catholic reaction, the counter Reformation, and they thought their hour had come. Like our protectionists, they were national and patriotic; they denied that they wished to go back to the old protection of Rome. It was only to the protection of our own church, our own prelates, our own clergy. Were they right? Did they find that the pendulum had swung? They paid for their error by the Joss of their heads. We did not now deal with inconvenient politicians by so drastic a method. Our protectionists had paid for their error by the loss of their seats. Doubtless the ordinary pendulum would swing again to the side of the Conservative Party, but it was his sincere and well-grounded belief that this would not occur until that Party had purged itself of this heresy.

MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)

When I rose a short time ago I did not do so in order to continue the debate on this Resolution. I. proposed rather to call attention further to the points raised by my right hon. friend the Leader of the Opposition, and to ask as imperatively as I might for some reply which common courtesy required from the Treasusy Benches. I am not going to follow the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and who has made it his business to explain to the House at great length what are the views of my right hon. friend the Member for the City of London on the fiscal question, and my views. We do not accept him as our interpreter. When the proper time comes we will endeavour to explain ourselves in the Amendment we are going to propose. In the meantime we ask the Government to give us some explanation of this Resolution, which is an extraordinary Resolution, as they will find out before the end of the debate. When Mr. Villiers, at the instigation of Mr. Cobden, proposed a Resolution in the House in 1852, what happened? That Resolution was withdrawn or defeated,—I think withdrawn—and an amended Resolution was adopted on the proposition of Lord Palmerston, to which both sides of the House assented. It was a Resolution passed by common consent; but the right hon. Gentlemen opposite surely do not expect that there is any chance of having a joint acceptation of the Resolution to which they have given their support. This Resolution is drawn in a shape which under no conceivable circumstances we could accept. Its object is offensive—I mean in a Parliamentary sense—and we treat it as it is intended to be treated, as a Vote of Censure upon us. If we are to be censured, we want to know for what we are to be censured. When my right hon. friend was speaking, I observed that there was some amusement in certain quarters of the House; but I think that amusement was a little premature. I am not a new Member; I have satin the House for thirty years, and have seen many majorities—not, perhaps, so truculent as that now possessed by the Government—I have seen great majorities who thought they could ride rough-shod over small minorities.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

You are catching a little of it yourselves now.


My experience is that all these attempts have utterly and ludicrously failed; and with that experience behind me, which I share with the hon. Member for East Mayo, I regard with amazement these attempts of the Party opposite to howl us down and to refuse us the explanation which we ask for in the most formal manner. My right hon. friend showed conclusively that this Resolution is pure nonsense; that as it stands it is not likely to be acted upon by the House of Commons which is going to vote upon it; and he asked that it should, at least, be put into a form from which the House at large can understand what it is they are expected to declare their opinion upon in the lobbies. The matters which my right hon. friend has called attention to are not altogether unimportant. Here is the question. It is whether this is a declaration against protection in any form or against any particular form of protection. I think the Prime Minister not very civilly asked if my right hon. friend was serious. ["Oh, oh."] I will alter that, and say the Prime Minister asked most uncivilly if my right hon. friend was serious. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Withdraw."] I will add a question: If you do not mean to distinguish in some way, why did you put these two forms of taxation into the Resolution? Why did you pick out these two particular forms of taxation, which you declare to be protective, from all the hundred other forms of taxation which are protective? I know why it was clone. This Resolution, by which this House of Commons, with its 300 Ministerial majority, is going to show its determination to the whole civilised world, is really brought forward because Gentlemen opposite have got so little to do that they must take notice of what they believe to be personal differences between my right hon. friend and myself. I am reminded that I ought to have said that the Government with its majority have not so little to do, but have so little mind to do it. They have chosen to introduce this subject—and let them make the most of it—with the object of showing that there are alleged differences between my right hon. friend and myself, and with this they occupy the attention of their great majority just returned in order to carry large social reforms and to drive the Chinese out of South Africa. It appears to me that they will do the one as soon as the other. In the meanwhile they appear to be having a very good time of it. But, Sir, we will not go on with this debate without having a reply to the questions which have been asked. A most important question was asked—and it was raised during the election—with regard to the protection that now exists on two of the most prosperous trades of the country, the tobacco trade and the cocoa trade, both of which are very largely conducted by gentlemen holding the same political opinions as right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench. We want to know why they should make the distinction. Are they going to make this distinction? Do you intend to treat tobacco and cocoa in the same way as other articles in the general plan? To that we have a right to have an answer. We want to know how far you are consistent in this sudden zeal to record the opinion of the House of Commons upon this abstract Resolution before the House. Then a much more important question is undoubtedly how far protection is to be allowed in the case of labour. ["Hear, hear" from MINISTERIALISTS.] I notice a cheerful explosion from hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I think they will find out that this is a very serious question before they have done. We were told in almost every constituency that I know of, by people of course who were not responsible, that Chinese labourers were going to be introduced under contract into this country. [Cries of "Oh, oh," and "Name, name."] Oh, I am not afraid, and unlike the Government I am willing to answer. You want to know where it was said; it was said in Dudley, in West Birmingham, my own constituency, and in East Worcestershire. [A MINISTERIALIST, "What, by a Conservative?"] I am not aware of any Conservatives in those two constituencies who have tried to work against their own principles. It was said by agents and others of the Ministerialist Party. Of course, it was absolutely untrue that any contract of the kind had been made or suggested, or thought of. But if you are going to press these free-trade doctrines, are you certain that such a contract may not be thought of or made by persons who may press this free-trade declaration to its logical conclusion Why on earth are we to be pledged to admit the product of the labour of the lowest Chinese working at 2d. per day in his own country, and at the same time to be precluded from admitting the Chinaman who may come to do a building job, or some contract of that kind?

MR. J. M. ROBERTSON (Northumberland, Tyneside)

Then this matter has been thought of.


I have heard nothing of the kind myself, but on the other side of the House it might logically come into contemplation.


What I signified was that while the right hon. Gentleman said that it had not been thought of his own words showed that it had been.


I repeat that a project of the kind might come under contemplation. Now, what did the Lord Chancellor say the other day upon this subject?

Think for a moment— at any rate, he had given some thought to the question— what would happen if there were an attempt to introduce 50,000 or 60,000 Chinese into this country, to compete with the standard of living which has been reached after the endeavours of generations of labour? It would not be tolerated in this country for a moment. All this sophistry would be swept away instantly; in no part of Europe would cheap Chinese labour be allowed to compete with white labour—it would not be tolerated. Then let us take care that in this Resolution which we are to record we have some regard for the dignity of the House of Commons, and do not cause to be put upon our journals statements and declarations which we have no intention whatever of adhering to. Then there is the question of the Indian tariff. According to this declaration as it stands, that tariff is declared to be protective, and, as such, we ought at once to take steps to abolish or alter it. Do you say it is not protective?




I appeal to the right hon. Gentlemen to see what they are getting to. They are so anxious to put this matter aside, and seem to think it is of no importance. Here the Indian tariff is already allowed to be not protective, and yet it is a tariff which places upon manufactured goods, without any corresponding excise, a certain tax or duty. That is what we are contending for. Alter the terms of your Resolution to what you mean, not what you say, and it may be that we may, as in 1852, be able to agree with you and pass the Resolution nem. con. Meanwhile, I ask the Prime Minister whether he still intends to pass without any notice the respectful request for information which was addressed to him at an earlier period by my right hon. friend.


shook his head.


Then, sir, I move that this debate be now adjourned.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. J. Chamberlain.)

MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)

said they had witnessed a most extraordinary scene during the last two or three speeches, especially during that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. Not only did the right hon. Gentleman seek to dominate the Government and the House when he was sitting on the Ministerial side, but he thought that when in opposition he could dictate to the Government how the debate should be conducted. He hoped the Government would conduct this debate in the interests of the House and of the subject they were discussing, and that they would not take their orders from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham.


The hon. Gentleman has advised the Government not to take their orders from any Member sitting on this side of the House.


Not from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham.


The hon. Member's advice is excellent, but my right hon. friend gave no orders. He did what I am convinced would have been done in any similar case, and what has been done in every similar case in my Parliamentary experience. May I remind the hon. Gentleman that so far from its being the view of hon. Gentlemen opposite that a Government may carry a debate on in its own way, and speak at its own time through the members which it itself selects, he, I think, was one of those who, with the assent of the Prime Minister, howled for an hour when a Secretary of State was endeavouring to address the House.


The right hon. Gentleman has pointedly referred to me. May I be allowed to explain that the circumstances were entirely different? On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman was attacked himself, and he refused to reply to the criticisms that were made.


I do not follow that. What happened was that there was a debate initiated by the Opposition. The Leader of the House, in the exercise of his discretion, asked one of his principal colleagues to take the first reply, reserving himself for the last word in the debate. A more legitimate proceeding cannot be imagined, and, as I say, the only result was that a Secretary of State for the first time in our Parliamentary history, and with the consent of the then Leader of the Opposition, was howled down for sixty minutes by the clock. Right hon and hon. Gentlemen are proud of the performance. Now, compare what was then asked by the Opposition to what we ask. After all, there was no question of the then Government evading the issue. I was prepared to speak, and said I was prepared to speak, and the Opposition had no right to complain of two speeches instead of one. Look at what the Government are doing now. We have, as clearly and as respectfully as we can, pointed out the difficulties and ambiguities in the Resolution which the Government themselves have made Government business. We have shown unmistakably that there are difficulties and ambiguities which require explanation and amendment. I venture to say if we are to discuss this Resolution reasonably we must know what interpretation the Government themselves put upon it. I begged the Government, in the interests of their own debate, to tell us the meaning of their own Resolution. That respectful appeal was absolutely ignored by the numerous able gentlemen who sit on the bench opposite, all of whom must know what the Government mean. These cannot be new questions to the Government. They have been giving their days and nights to these economic questions for two or three years. They must know the answer which is needed. Would it not be common courtesy, and would it not be in the interests of debate to have the answer, or do they deliberately think they have a better chance of passing this Resolution in its ambiguous than in its unambiguous form? Considering that this is to bind the House during the whole time of its existence, I cannot believe that they deliberately prefer an ambiguous to an unambiguous Resolution. If it be true, it would be discreditable in the highest degree, but I cannot believe that that is the intention of the Government. In these circumstances, there never was a Motion for adjournment more justified. The hon. Gentleman below the gangway asks us "not to order the Government." We have no power to order them; we recognise our weakness. We know that, numerically at all events, we are inferior, and we accept that position with becoming philosophy. The fact that we are in a minority gives us a claim upon the Government, and when they on their own motion bring forward a Resolution of this unexampled character they should make it plain to the whole House and to the world what it is they mean. Let the Prime Minister not stultify our proceedings by compelling us to go on with this discussion in the dark. Let us know exactly what he means. He knows the answer to every one of these questions. All he has to do is to share his knowledge with the House at large, and then we shall know what it is we are going to vote upon. We shall then be delighted to shorten this discussion by withdrawing the Motion for adjournment.


I must find fault with one expression which came from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham. He said I made an interjection which was uncivil. [Cries of "Most uncivil."] It was not meant to be uncivil; it was not uncivil; hut it was very much to the point. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City has been to the country since we last saw him. He made it rather a matter of complaint that this was a Vote of want of confidence in himself and his friends moved by us. We moved the same want of confidence a few weeks ago in the country, and the country voted the want of confidence. [OPPOSITION cries of "No, No," and "Slavery."] The right hon. Gentleman is like the old Bourbons in the oft-quoted phrase—he has learnt nothing. He conies back to this new House of Commons with the same airy graces, the same subtle dialectics, the same light and frivolous way of dealing with a great question, and he little knows the temper of the new House of Commons if he thinks that those methods will prevail here He has put some Questions to me on this Resolution. He has split it up, and tortured it, and pulled it to pieces, and he thinks he has put some posers to us.


I put no posers. I asked for information which I thought the Government could give.


It would be a very clever Government that could reconcile to each other the Questions which the right hon. Gentleman has put to us. In the first place, he finds fault with us for having selected two principal courses of policy, the establishment of a general tariff and the taxation of foreign corn. They were selected because they were the main topics or features of the policy urged before the country during the election. [OPPOSITION cries of "No, no."] When the two right hon. Gentleman appeared at last to have come together it was on the ground of these two topics. In the celebrated letters which passed these were the two points which were put forward as of first importance. The right hon. Gentleman says we ought to have put in the Resolution the words "and otherwise," because the Resolution as it stands may mean that any other way of bringing in protection would be justifiable. That is the principal dilemma he puts before us. But a little time afterwards he says-"Take care what you do by driving this anti-protection doctrine too hard, because you may find yourselves afterwards obliged to introduce other methods, and this Resolution will preclude them."

The right hon. Gentleman says we have Colonies and a great dependency where there are protective tariffs, and that is inconsistent with this Resolution. I put it to the House whether what I have said does not show how utterly unworthy of the occasion was the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. He first of all rides one horse and then he rides another—two horses perfectly incapable of being ridden together. One of his arguments contradicts the other. Then he says we are to stop the proceedings in this debate, and his Amendments are not to be moved until we have answered these terrible Questions. In so far as I have referred to them, I may have answered them incidentally. I have no direct Answer to give to them. They are utterly futile, nonsensical, and misleading. They were invented by the right hon. Gentleman for the purpose of occupying time in this debate. I say, enough of this foolery! It might have answered very well in the last Parliament, but it is altogether out of place in this Parliament. The tone and temper of this Parliament will not permit it. Move your Amendments, and let us, get to business.

MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN (Worcestershire, E.)

I am not going to attempt to traverse the whole of the ground which has been gone over by my two right hon. friends, but I am going to repeat to the House two perfectly plain and pertinent Questions which have been put to the Leader of the House, and to which he has deliberately refused to give a direct Answer. The first Question was whether India has or has not at this moment a protective tariff. That is a Question of great importance in this, debate, because every time it has been put a divergent Answer has been given by the supporters of the Government.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, the question before the House is a Motion for the adjournment. Are we entitled to discuss the Indian question?


The adjournment was moved because no Answer was given when a Question was put; that is the point to which the debate is limited.


What I was addressing myself to was this the Government have fathered and made themselves responsible for a Resolution which precludes the establishment of a protective system. [Several MINISTERIALISTS: In this country.] That is another point. If hon. Members wish me to discuss all the points they have raised they will keep me here a long time. We are asked to condemn the establishment of a protective system in this country, and the Leader of the Opposition asks what do they mean by a protective system, and would such a system as is now in vogue in India be protective if adopted in this country? That system includes duties on leather, paper, earthenware, tallow, manufactured tobacco, foodstuffs, such as flour, meal, and fish, coffee, cheese, cocoa, tea, and sugar and on all metal work, on pig iron, and steel in the form of bars, on cotton, hosiery, and on all other manufactured cotton goods.


No wonder they have a famine.


To complete my provisional list, there are also duties on wines and spirits, salt, petroleum, arms, ammunition, etc. Can we establish a similar system in this country without, in the opinion of the Government, establishing a protective system?


The right hon. Gentleman, I think, is now arguing the main question. The question before the House is the adjournment, moved because certain Questions were not answered. The debate must be confined to that Motion.


I will endeavour to confine myself closely to your ruling, Sir. I think I have sufficiently for the purpose re-stated one of the Questions which my right hon. friend put. May we have the whole of these revenue duties without establishing a system of protection? I admit that all this shows the impossibility of continuing the debate without some indication from the Government of what their Resolution really means. Does it condemn the protection now given to the manufacturers of tobacco and cocoa in this country? That Question can be answered by a "yes" or "no." I say it is condemned by the Resolution. I challenge them to contra- dict it. I ask them one further Question which we shall have to press, Why did the Government select these two industries from which they derived so much political and other support for special privileges?

SIR EDWIN CORNWALL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)

said that it appeared to him that upon this new Motion a new Member might be permitted to express his views as to whether this debate ought to be adjourned on account of the course which it had taken. They desired to pay the greatest respect to the procedure of the House and to all the right hon. Gentlemen opposite who had so long taken part in the debates, but when he saw the Amendments on the Paper what he expected to find was that the Motion would be moved and hon. Members opposite would then put forward their Amendments. What he felt was that the debate on the Motion had been rather a quibble of words. He did not see why the Government should alter its procedure. The Government having decided not to answer the Questions put by the right hon Gentleman categorically, he took the same view. He hoped that the Government would proceed along the lines which they had adopted, and if they did they would find the new Members quite ready to support them. They wished the debate to be conducted as indicated on the Paper, and the departure asked for would not be in accordance with the custom of the House. The Government had taken the right, and the Opposition the wrong course. [Cries of "Divide, divide."]

MR. BURDETT-COUTTS (Westminster)

said he entirely repudiated the suggestion that this debate rested upon a quibble of words. In addition to the Question urged by the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer with regard to India, two plain Questions had been put to the Government of very grave importance to this country. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Divide, divide," and "Order, order."] One Question was whether they intended to make it impossible by the Resolution to protect the working classes of this country against the importation of Chinese indentured labour here. ["Divide, divide."] In his constituency that suggestion had been made, and it had been made in numerous other constituencies during the election and now when the Government were claiming to record the decision of the electorate by a Resolution of this House they were afraid to record their own opinion with regard to this question of the possible importation of foreign labour into this country. The next question was one which concerned not this or that Party but the whole House of Commons and the country, and one of which no hon. Member of this House could deny the importance, and that was the question whether they did or did not by this Resolution deprive themselves of the power of placing duties upon imports? [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh, oh!"] which under circumstances of great importance and possibly of great peril to this country, they might be driven to impose. [Cries of "Divide, divide."] Those questions were not answered by the terms of the Resolution, for they were left vague and ambiguous, and therefore the Government were preferring an ambiguous to a plain Resolution. The Prime Minister repudiated the word "uncivil,"

when applied to his interruption of the Leader of the Opposition, and then proceeded to commit an outrage upon Parliamentary custom and the recognised canons of Parliamentary manners by accusing the whole of the Opposition front Bench and the Members of the Opposition of "foolery" [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh, oh," and "Divide"] simply because they were pressing upon the Government questions answers to which were absolutely necessary to make the Resolution clear. That was something more than uncivil. He protested against the brutal tyranny of the Prime Minister's attitude. If the "tone and temper" of the Party opposite were to be judged by the way in which the right hon. Gentleman stood waving his arms to his big battalions, he would very soon find that two could play at that game.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 115; Noes, 405. (Division List, No. 11.)

Anson, Sir William Reynell Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A
Anstruther-Gray Major Craig, Captain James (Down, E.) Lowe, Sir Francis William
Arkwright, John Stanhope Craik, Sir Henry MacIver, David (Liverpool)
Arnold-Forster, Rt, Hn. Hugh O Dalrymple, Viscount Magnus, Sir Philip
Ashley, W. W. Dixon-Hartland Sir Fred Dixon Marks, Harry Hananel (Kent)
Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H. Doughty, Sir George Mason, James F. (Windsor)
Balcarres, Lord Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers Meysey-Thompson, Major E. C.
Baldwin, Alfred Du Bros, Harvey Mildmay, Francis Bingham
Balfour, Rt Hn A. J. (City Lond.) Duncan Robert (Lanark, Govan Morpeth, Viscount
Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey) Faber, George Denison (York) Muntz, Sir Philip A.
Banner, John S. Harmood- Fardell, Sir T. George Nield, Herbert
Baring, Hon. Guy (Winchester Fell, Arthur Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)
Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.) Finch, Rt. Hon. George H. Parkes, Ebenezer
Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East) Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlingt'n
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West) Percy, Earl
Bowles, G. Stewart Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.) Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Boyle, Sir Edward Gordon, Sir W. Evans (T'r Ham. Ratcliff, Major R. F.
Bridgeman, W. Clive Haddock, George R. Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Brotherton, Edward Allen Hambro, Charles Eric Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert
Burdett-Coutts, W. Hamilton, Marquess of Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter
Butcher, Samuel Henry Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford Rutherford, John (Lancashire)
Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin Univ. Harrison-Broadley, Col. H. B. Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles
Carlile, E. Hildred Hay, Hon. Claude George Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Hervey, F. W. F. (Bury SEdm'ds Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Castlereagh, Viscount Hill, Henry Staveley (Staff'sh.) Sloan, Thomas Henry
Cave, George Hills, J. W. Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)
Cavendish, Rt. Hon. Victor C. W. Houston, Robert Paterson Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Hunt, Rowland Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Cecil, Lord J. P. J. (Stamford) Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H. Starkey, John R.
Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E. Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hon. Col W. Stone, Sir Benjamin
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm) Keswick, William Talbot, Rt. Hn. G. (Oxf'dUniv.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn J A. (Worc. Kimber, Sir Henry Thomson, W. Mitchell (Lanark)
Clarke, Sir Edward (City London King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull) Thornton, Percy M.
Coates, E. Feetham (Lewisham
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Lee, Arthur H (Hants., Fareham Turnour, Viscount
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard
Courthope, G. Loyd Liddell, Henry Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Williamson, G. H. (Worcester) Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Forster.
Willoughby de Eresby, Lord Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.) Younger, George
Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.) Churchill, Winston Spencer Gardner, Col. A (Herefordsh, S.)
Acland, Francis Dyke Clancy, John Joseph Gibb, James (Harrow)
Adkins, W. Ryland Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham) Gilhooly, James
Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. Cleland, J. W. Gill, A. H.
Agnew, George William Clough, W. Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John
Alden, Percy Coats, Sir T. Glen (Renfrew, W.) Glendinning, R. G.
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Cobbold, Felix Thornley Glover, Thomas
Allen, Charles P. (Gloucester) Cogan, Denis J. Gooch, George Peabody
Ambrose, Robert Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Grant, Corrie
Armitage, R. Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)
Ashton, Thomas Gair Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Greenwood, Hamar (York)
Astbury, John Meir Corbett, C H (Sussex, E. Grinst'd Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward
Atherley-Jones, L. Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Grove, Archibald
Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth) Cory, Clifford John Gulland, John W.
Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E. Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Cowan, W. H. Hall, Frederick
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Cox, Harold Halpin, J.
Barker, John Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Hammond, John
Barlow, John E. (Somerset) Crean, Eugene Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Cremer, William Randal Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil
Barnard, E. B. Crombie, John William Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)
Barran, Rowland Hirst Crosfield, A. H. Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worct'r)
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Cross, Alexander Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh
Beale, W. P. Crossley, William J. Harrington, Timothy
Beauchamp, E. Cullinan, J. Hart-Davies, T.
Beaumont, W. C. B. (Hexham) Dalmeny, Lord Harwood, George
Beck, A. Cecil Dalziel, James Henry Haslam, James (Derbyshire)
Bollairs, Carlyon Davies, David (Montgomery Co. Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)
Benn, John Wiiliams (Devonport Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan Haworth, Arthur A.
Benn, W. (T'wr Hamlets, S. Geo. Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Hazel, Dr. A. E.
Berridge, T. H. D. Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S. Hazleton, Richard
Bertram, Julius Delany, William Healy, Timothy Michael
Bethell, J. H. (Essex, Romford) Devlin, Charles Ramsay (Galway Hedges, A. Paget
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Dickmson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N. Helme, Norval Watson
Billson, Alfred Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. Henderson, Arthur (Durham)
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W)
Black, Arthur W. (Bedfordshire Dillon, John Henry, Charles S.
Boland, John Dobson, Thomas W. Herbert, Colonel Ivor (Mon., S.)
Bolton, T. D. (Derbyshire, N. E.) Dobson, Thomas W. Herbert,T. Arnold (Wycombe)
Brace, William Dolan, Charles Joseph Higham, John Sharp
Bramsdon, T. A. Donelan, Captain A. Hobart, Sir Robert
Branch, James Duckworth, James Hogan, Michael
Brocklehurst, W. D. Duffy, William J. Holden, E. Hopkinson
Brodie, H. C. Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness Holland, Sir William Henry
Brooke, Stopford Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Hooper, A. G.
Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh Dunne, Major E. M. (Walsall) Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)
Bryce, Rt. Hn. James (Aberdeen Edwards, Frank (Radnor) Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.
Bryce. J. A. (Inverness Burghs Elibank, Master of Horniman, Emslie John
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward Horridge, Thomas Gardiner
Buckmaster, Stanley O. Erskine, David C. Howard, Hon. Geoffrey
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Esmonde, Sir Thomas Hyde, Clarendon
Burnyeat, J. D. W. Essex, R. W. Idris, T. H. W.
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Evans, Samuel T. Illingworth, Percy H.
Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles Everett, R. Lacey Isaacs, Rufus Daniel
Byles, William Pollard Faber, G. H. (Boston) Jackson, R. S.
Cairns, Thomas Fenwick, Charles Jardine, Sir J.
Caldwell, James Ferens, T. R. Jenkins, J.
Cameron, Robert Field, William Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Jones, Leif (Appleby)
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Findlay, Alexander Jones, William (Carnarvonshire
Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight Flavin, Michael Joseph Jowett, F. W.
Cawley, Frederick Flynn, James Christopher Joyce, Michael
Chance, Frederick William Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter Kearley, Hudson E.
Chaining, Francis Allston Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Kennedy, Vincent Paul
Cheetham, John Frederick Fuller, J. M. F. Kilbride, Denis
Cherry, R. R. Furness, Sir Christopher Kincaid-Smith, Captain
King, Alfred John (Knutsford) O Brien, Kendal (Tipperary, Mid Silcock, Thomas Ball
Kitson, Sir James O Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John
Laidlaw, Robert O Brien, William (Cork) Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie
Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.) Smyth, Thomas (Leitrim, S.)
Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester) O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Snowden, P.
Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm. O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Soares, Ernest J.
Lamont, Norman O'Doherty, Philip Spicer. Albert
Lawson, Sir Wilfrid O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth) Stanger, H. Y.
Layland-Barratt, Francis O'Dowd, John Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.
Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E. O'Grady, J. Steadman, W. C.
Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington O'Hare, Patrick Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Lehmann, R. C. O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.) Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)
Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N Strachey, Sir Edward
Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral O'Malley, William Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Levy, Maurice O'Mara, James Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)
Lewis, John Herbert O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Stuart, James (Sunderland)
Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Palmer, Sir Charles Mark Sullivan, Donal
Lougn, Thomas Parker, James (Halifax) Summerbell, T.
Lundon, W. Paul, Herbert Sutherland, J. E.
Lupton, Arnold Paulton, James Mellor Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)
Luttrell, Hugh Courteney Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek) Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe).
Lyell, Charles Henry Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton Tennant, E. P. (Salisbury)
Lynch, H. B. Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke) Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)
Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Pickersgill, Edward Hare Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)
Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs Pirie, Duncan V. Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)
Mackarness, Frederic C. Pollard, Dr. Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset E.
Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Price, C. E (Edinb'gh, Central Tillett, Louis John
MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Price, Elbert John (Norfolk. E. Tomkinson, James
Macpherson, J. T. Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E. Torrance, A. M.
MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S. Radford, G. H. Toulmin, George
MacVeigh,Charles (Donegal, E.) Rainy, A. Rolland Trevelyan, Charles Philips
M'Arthur, William Raphael, Herbert H. Verney, F. W.
M'Crae, George Rea, Russell (Gloucester) Vivian, Henry
M'Kean, John Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro' Wadsworth, J.
M'Kenna, Reginald Reddy, M. Waldron, Laurence Ambrose
M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W) Redmond, John E. (Waterford) Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)
M'Micking, Major G. Rodmond, William (Clare) Wallace, Robert
Maddison, Frederick Rees, J. D Walsh, Stephen
Mallet, Charles E. Randall, Athelstan Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)
Manfield, Harry (Northants) Renton, Major Leslie Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston Richards, T.F. (Wolverh'mpt'n War, W. Dudley (Southampton
Marnham, F. J. Rickett, J. Compton Wardle, George J.
Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry) Ridsdale, E. A. Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)
Massie, J. Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Masterman, C. F. G. Roberts, G. H. (Norwich) Waterlow, D. S.
Meehan, Patrick A. Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.) Watt, H. Anderson
Menzies, Walter Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside) Wedgwood, Josiah C.
Micklem, Nathaniel Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd Weir, James Galloway
Molteno, Percy Alfred Robinson, S. Whitbread, Howard
Mond, A. Robson, Sir William Snowdon White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)
Money, L. G. Chiozza Roche, Augustine (Cork) Whitehead, Rowland
Montagu, E. S. Roche, John (Galway, East) Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Montgomery, H. H. Rose, Charles Day Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Mooney, J. J. Rowlands, J. Wiles, Thomas
Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall) Runciman, Walter Williams, J. (Glamorgan)
Morley, Rt. Hon. John Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford) Williams, W. L. (Carmarthen)
Morrell, Philip Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland) Williamson, A. (Elgin and Nairn
Morse, L. L. Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel) Wilson, Henry J. (York., W. R.)
Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Scarisbrick, T. T. L. Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.
Murphy, John Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde) Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Murray, James Schwann, Chas. E. (Manchester Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Myer, Horatio Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne Wood, T. M'Kinnon
Napier, T. B. Sears, J. E. Woodhouse, Sir J T. (Huddersf'd
Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw) Seaverns, J. H. Young, Samuel
Newnes, Sir George (Swansea) Seddon, J. Yoxall, James Henry
Nicholls, George Seely, Major J. B.
Nicholson, Chas. N. (Doncaster Shackleton, David James TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. George Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.
Nolan, Joseph Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)
Norman, Henry Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)
Norton, Capt. Cecil William Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Nuttall, Harry Shipman, Dr. John G.

Motion made, and Question, "Tha the debate be now adjourned,"—(Sir Alexander Acland - Hood,) put, and agreed to.

Original Question again proposed.

MR. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS (Carmarthen District)

said that as a new Member he would not have presumed to intervene in this debate were it not that he represented a constituency which was dependent to a large extent on what had been described as a "ruined industry," viz., the tin-plate trade. From the early sixties, when it first came into prominence, up to 1890 the South Wales manufacturers of tin-plates had a practical monopoly of the industry; and the result was that the output doubled every ten years, and that large fortunes were rapidly acquired. In 1890 the exports from South Wales amounted to over 400,000 tons, of the annual value of something over £5,500,000, seventy-six per cent. of which was sent to the United States of America. Seeing this valuable trade in the hands of the Welsh manufacturers, the people of America determined to capture it for themselves. They thought the easiest way to do this was to put on a prohibitive tariff in order to exclude Welsh tin-plates from the American market. In 1890 the McKinley tariff was passed, and, as a result, the exports of tin-plates from South Wales to the United States dropped from 300,000 tons per annum to something like 60,000 or 70,000 tons. It would not become him to disguise for a moment the extent of the ravages and destitution which was caused by the tariff. [Sir HOWARD VINCENT: What is to be done?] He would come to that in a moment. His constituents, who had suffered in a way that the right hon. Gentleman opposite had not through the imposition of that tariff, returned an uncompromising free trader, and by an unprecedented majority told the House through him that they did not want the remedies which the hon. Member for Central Sheffield proposed, but that they were perfectly prepared to rest upon a free trade basis. No one who had studied the subject could discover any but one of three ways in which this country could have proceeded to deal with America. The first would have been to threaten to put prohibitive tariffs upon American goods coming to this country. If that were the policy of the Opposition to-day, all he could say was that we exported to America more manufactured goods than we imported from America, and we should be spiting our face by trying to cut off our nose. The next method was to protect raw materials; but what responsible statesman even on the front Opposition Bench would seriously advocate that? Were five millions of people in Lancashire who were dependent on the importation of cotton to be ruined in order to right the wrongs of some hundreds of thousands of people in South Wales who were dependent on the tin-plate industry? The only other method he could think of was to put a tax upon corn; but he did not understand that the Leader of the Opposition for a moment believed in putting a tax on corn sufficient to exclude American corn from the English market. If he did contemplate it, then it would be taxing the food of forty-two millions of people, not to benefit the tin-plate trade, but to avenge the wrong done to the people engaged in that trade. Experience showed that a tariff war was a very long business, and did not right a wrong straight away. It would not benefit the tin-plate trade of South Wales by a penny piece; and the only satisfaction, if such it could be called, would be that the whole country had been involved in its misfortunes. If a prosperous country like the United States said it would not buy in a certain market it could take that course, so long as it was willing to pay the price. Fifteen years ago South Wales was exporting to the United States £4,000,000 worth of tin-plates every year. To-day we were exporting under £1,000,000. During the last fourteen years, Americans, on the authority of Sir John Jenkin, had paid over £20,000,000 sterling in order to exclude Welsh tin-plates. Every year since the Americans had taken to manufacture nearly all the tin-plates for the American market the American consumer had had to pay £2,000,000 sterling a year more than he need have done in order to keep out Welsh tin-plates. At that rate they could exclude any manufactured goods from any market in the world. Were the people of this country prepared to pay a price like that?

And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till this Evening's Sitting.