HC Deb 24 March 1919 vol 114 cc26-8

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he is prepared, to make any statement with regard to the reasons for Lord Emmott's resignation as. Chairman of the Consultative Committee on Import Restrictions; and whether he will give an early opportunity for a discussion on the effect of those restrictions on the trade and commerce of the country?


My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this question. As already announced in this House, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has appointed a Consultative Council to examine the question of the prohibition of imports. The Consultative Council consists of representatives of manufacturing and distributing interests (including the co-operative societies and the retail trades), representatives of Labour, and of the Treasury and Board of Trade. It will be purely advisory, the ultimate decision in each case resting with the Government.

At a meeting of the Council on the 18th March a resolution was adopted>to the effect that, in view of the magnitude of the task and the necessity of carrying it through rapidly, the Council should work in Sub-committees, To the great regret of my right hon. Friend, Lord Emmott, who had accepted the chairmanship of the Council, finds himself unable to continue in that capacity, mainly owing to what he understands to be the view of the Council that the representatives of the interests affected should be in the majority on each Sub-committee. There does not, however, appear to be anything in the resolution of the Council to warrant this interpretation; what my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade understands the resolution to mean is that each Sub-committee should be so constituted as to be representative of the various interests, manufacturing, distributing, and consuming, which are represented on the Council itself. In view of the facts that, as already stated, the Council is only an advisory one, and that no question of permanent policy is involved, the Government see no reason for making any change in the procedure determined upon.

If there be a general desire in the House for a discussion, I am authorised by the Leader of the House to say that he will try to find time for it.


Can the hon. Gentleman say if it is the view of the President of the Board of Trade that on these Sub-committees the interest affected by that particular Sub-committee should be in a majority?


I do not think it can be. There is no desire that any Sub-committee should be loaded by a majority of any particular interest. The object is to get an impartial decision on each point. The Council will meet again tomorrow and the whole question is to be raised, including the point which has been raised by my right hon. Friend.


May I ask the Leader of the House whether he cannot put this Vote down for Wednesday or Thursday, as on Thursday the Slough question is coming up, and on Wednesday that question is also coming on in another place it will not be necessary for us to take so much time for it on Thursday?


We have no desire to avoid discussion on this subject or any other which the House wishes to discuss. As regards Wednesday, the time will be required, I think, for the further stages of Bills to be taken to-day and to-morrow. With respect to Thursday, I think the suggestion is a possible one and I shall consider it.

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