HC Deb 07 December 1920 vol 135 cc2043-69

Postponed Proceeding resumed on Amendment to Question, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


When the Debate was interrupted, I was suggesting that it-would be an advantage to us in coming to a decision on this subject if we made up our minds whether or not we would support it on the ground of national safety, which has been advocated, or on economic grounds, which have also been advocated. I pointed out that the Bill does not provide for the national safety, which we shall all support, that it means the perpetuation of bureaucracy and interference by the Government in trade and that it challenges those of us who still hold Free Trade principles in the sense that it commits this Government to the policy that all industries which are fortunate enough to secure themselves under the classification of key industries are to receive protection. [An HON. MEMBER: "Speak up!"] The hon. Member is near mc and I am suffering from a cold. I can only assume that I am in close sympathy with his remarks and he is in sympathy with mine, and I will do my best to see that none of them are lost upon him. This is a most extraordinary Bill. The oldest and most experienced Member of the House has never heard a Minister of the Crown recommend a Bill to this House for the reason the President of the Board of Trade used this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman says the Government are committed because of a prospectus which was issued, and on the good faith of that prospectus many people subscribed, and now it devolves upon the House to carry out the promise contained in that prospectus. I would call his attention to the third paragraph of the prospectus. It is a very unusual thing for the House of Commons to be asked to pass a piece of new legislation relating to the Government control and care of an industry which never has been contemplated to be under the care and control of the Government on the grounds of a prospectus. That is without precedent in the history of the House of Commons. The prospectus says: This Proclamation was issued to give effect to the statement made by the President of the Board of Trade in the House of Commons on the 15th May, 1918, namely— and then there are two dots, and beginning with a capital "i" in the word "In," In order to safeguard this particular industry against the efforts which the great German dye-making firms are certain to make after the War to destroy all we have accomplished through the War and to make this industry again subservient to Germany, Then there are some more stars— the importation of all foreign dyestuffs shall be controlled by a system of licences for a period of not less than 10 years after the War. Will the House believe that the President of the Board of Trade, if one refers to the OFFICIAL REPORT, sever said anything of the sort. This Government has given a pledge. The Government now asks the House to redeem a pledge, stated in the prospectus, which the President on behalf of the Government never gave. Here is the statement:

  1. FURTHER STATE ASSISTANCE. 10,872 words, 3 divisions