HC Deb 18 August 1919 vol 119 c1983

Trade has steadily improved. But we have still our worst troubles to face. Let us have the facts with regard to those matters, because, unless we realise what the facts are, it will be impossible either to propose or to consider remedies. Let us face them without any fear. May I also appeal that we should also face then without considering how they will affect opinions already formed? That is very vital.


Or principles!


Or principles—yes; but let us have the facts to begin with, and we will consider afterwards how we shall apply our principles to those facts. Surely the first thing is to get at the facts. Do not let us say, "I cannot accept that fact, because, if I do, it will alter my opinion." Let us begin with the facts. The first fact, then, is—I am not sure that the conclusions that will be drawn will suit any particular school of thought, I cannot help that—the first out standing fact is this: the alarming adverse trade balance. Before the War, we had the greatest international trade in the world, looking at the size of the country, looking at its con figuration, looking at its resources. It is a country which must necessarily depend upon international trade—always must. Before the War, if you took our export of manufactured goods, we sold £9 per head of the population of the United Kingdom, Germany sold £5 10s. per head of her population, France sold £4 4s. per head of her population to customers across the sea. The United States of America sold £2 10s, per head of her population. If you add to that the carrying trade—we did half the carrying trade of the world!—if you add to that insurance, commissions, banking, all the international ser vices which we rendered in an exceptional degree, you will find—




Coal is in the £9 per head. I have included it in the manufactured goods. My hon. Friend is quite right in his reminder, but for the moment I have called it "manufactures."