9. Sir F. HALL
asked the President of the Board of Trade if his statement that Great Britain had nothing to fear from Japanese trade competition was based OH comparative equality of labour costs in the two countries; if he will state what is the average daily wage of a skilled worker in this country, including war wages, compared with the daily wage of 6s. now generally prevalent in Japan; what are the weekly hours of skilled workers in Japan compared with the forty-seven hours' week now in force here; and if he will state in, what way the Government proposes to ensure that British manufacturers shall be enabled to hold their own in the face of Japanese competition in home and foreign markets while labour costs in Japan remain upwards of 150 per cent, lower than those obtaining in Great Britain?
§ Sir A. GEDDES
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. The daily rates of wages of skilled time-workers in this country range in the majority of cases from about 10s. to 15s. on the basis of an eight-hour day. It is understood that skilled workers in Japan work on an average from ten to twelve hours a day, and I may perhaps add that, according to information not yet officially confirmed, some of the highest-paid skilled Japanese workers are now in receipt of wages equal approximately to 1414 9s. a day, though I understand this is by no means general. There are, however, other factors to be taken into account, and I see no reason at present to fear that British manufacturers will be unable to hold their own in. competition with the Japanese.
Sir F. HALL
In view of the right lion. Gentleman's statement in answer to the first part of this question, is the statement which he has made that he did not shiver at the competition between this country and Japan correct?
How can the wages in one country be 150 per cent. lower than in, another, and is the percentage calculation based on the new rules of arithmetic announced by the Secretary for War or is it the usual Tariff Reform figure?
Sir F. HALL
In what the right hon. Gentleman is referring to as my arithmetic I am simply quoting the statement of the right hon. Gentleman himself.
Is it not a fact that the imports from Japan are increasing enormously, and at the prices at which we make we are unable to compote, and is not this due entirely to the very low rate of wages for which the Japanese workman works?
§ Sir A. GEDDES
No. These things are not as simple as that. During the last five years this country practically was not producing at all certain lines of goods, and supplies were bought when demanded from the only place where they could be obtained. That led to an enormous in crease into this country of goods from Japan, but there is a very great difference between a wholly artificial increase of that sort and the permanent retention by these goods of this market and the other markets when they are once again subject to British competition. There is every indication already that the great markets which Japan has got hold of already are thirsting and hungering for British goods.