§ Resolutions reported,
§ (1) That for a period of five years from the passing of an Act for giving effect to this Resolution there shall be charged on any of the following articles imported into Great Britain or Ireland a Customs Duty of an amount equal to 33⅓ per cent. of the value of the article, that is to say:—
- (a) Optical glass and optical elements, whether finished or not, microscopes, field and opera glasses, theodolites, sextants, spectroscopes, and other optical instruments;
- (b) Beakers, flasks, burettes, measuring cylinders, thermometers, tubing, and other scientific glassware and lamp-blown ware, evaporating dishes, crucibles, combustion boats, and other laboratory porcelain;
- (c) Galvanometers, pyrometers, electroscopes, barometers, analytical and other precision balances, and other scientific instruments, gauges, and measuring instruments of precision of the types used in engineering machine shops and viewing rooms, whether for use in such shops or rooms or not;
- (d) Wireless valves and similar rectifiers, and vacuum tubes;
- (e) Ignition magnetoes and permanent magnets;
- (f) Arc-lamp carbons;
- (g) Hosiery latch needles;
- (h) Metallic tungsten, ferro-tungsten and manufactured products of metallic tungsten and compounds (not including ores or minerals) of thorium, cerium, and the other rare earth metals;
- (i) All synthetic organic chemicals (other than synthetic organic dyestuffs, colours and colouring matters imported for use as such, and organic intermediate products imported for their manufacture), analytic re-agents, all other fine chemicals and chemicals manufactured by fermentation processes;
(2) That there shall be charged on any of the following articles imported into Great Britain or Ireland, in addition to any other duties of Customs chargeable thereon, a Customs Duty of an amount equal to 33⅓ per cent. of the value of the article, that is to say:—
Articles of any class or description in respect of which an Order by the Board of Trade has been made under any Act of the present Session for giving effect to this Resolution, if manufactured in whole or in part in any of the countries specified in the Order, or deemed to be so manufactured.
§ Any such Order as aforesaid may be made on the ground that articles of the class or description in question are being sold or offered for sale in the United Kingdom—
- (a) At prices below the cost of production thereof; or
- (b) At prices which, by reason of depreciation in the value in relation to sterling of the currency of the country in which the goods are manufactured, are below the prices at which similar goods can be profitably manufactured in the United Kingdom,
§ For the purpose of this Resolution, "cost of production" in relation to goods of any class or description means the current sterling equivalent of—
- (a) The wholesale price at the works charged for goods of the class or description for consumption in the country of manufacture; or
- (b) If no such goods are sold for consumption in that country, the price which, having regard to the prices charged for goods as near as may be similar when so sold or when sold for exportation to other countries, would be so charged if the goods were sold in that country.
§ First Resolution read a Second time.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
On a point of Order. May I respectfully request you, Sir, to indicate which Amendments you propose to call, and, particularly, whether you propose to call my Amendment to the first Resolution—to leave out the word "Ireland"? I raise the question because that Amendment was not taken in Committee.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
No, I cannot do that. It remains to be seen whether I shall have to exercise my powers of selection under the Standing Order.
I beg to move to leave out the word "five" ["that for a period of five years"], and to insert instead thereof the word "three."
I should like to congratulate the President of the Board of Trade upon his appearance this morning. Perhaps it is due to the fact that he has a long, strenuous Debate before him. Those of us 869 who felt constrained by our public duty to remain till the end last night are not so well equipped, but we shall do our best to join with him in ascertaining the full effect and force of the Resolutions before us. My Amendment is one limiting the period during which this Resolution shall have effect, and I am helped to this extent, that the period already is limited. It might have been that the Government were so convinced of the blessings of Free Trade that they were not disposed to place any limit upon the period during which they were to apply, and I might have been faced with the task of convincing the Government and the House that Protection was such an evil that it should be endured only for as short a time as possible. Fortunately that is not my burden. I have not the slightest doubt that there are some Members of the Government—the Leader of the House, for example—who are convinced that no period will be too long for this Resolution to have effect. Generally speaking, the Resolution is going through the House under protest. This House is not yet entirely Protectionist. In this quarter of it there is a very considerable body of Free Trade opinion, and the Government itself is still penetrated by a sufficient amount of that opinion to encourage me to believe that I may receive a considerable amount of support, not only from those who sit round about me, but also from those who sit in other quarters of the House and who are supporters of the Government.
We ask that that which we consider to be a burden upon the whole of the community should not be continued for so long as five years, but should be limited to three years. What is the desire of this Resolution? It is, as far as I understand it, to give a kind of breathing space, a sort of sheltered area, in which these infant plants or key industries may be able to grow unexposed to the cold blasts of competition and Free Trade That is the object of the Resolution. It is a temporary protection not intended to continue. It is to be removed as soon as the plants approach anything like maturity. As soon as these industries are established on anything like a sound, economic basis, then this artificial aid is to be removed, and they are to rely upon their own stamina and vitality. The question before the House is how long 870 the period is to be. What period is necessary during which the general community should bear the burden of this Resolution in order that a very small section of it should enjoy the benefit. The very fact that the Government themselves have limited the period is an acknowledgment by them that this Resolution really imposes a burden or a tax upon the rest of industry and the rest of the community. If that were not so, they would not themselves have imposed any limitation of period.
If we were now at a point when these industries scheduled in this Resolution were being first helped, five years might not be too long a period. I can well understand that every industry requires time. It has to choose its position, to erect its buildings, to find its plant, to develop its processes, and to find its market. All these things take time, and, if we were making an actual start, then, however much we disagree with the principle of this Resolution, the House having decided to give effect to it, we should not cavil at a period of five years We are not, however, in that position. We are at the end of a struggle, one of the effects of which was to bring these very industries into existence. The struggle lasted for a period of over five years, and it can hardly be said to be at an end. Technically, the War is still going on. Some two years, however, have passed since the Armistice, so that these particular industries have had a period of nearly seven years of the most intensive cultivation. They have been under conditions of forced growth. Everything that could help them and shelter the and advance them has been there.
In an ordinary way, when an industry has to be started, there are difficulties in finding the necessary capital. We had a little illustration of that at Question Time to-day when it was seen that even an industry which has the support of the Government is finding difficulty in securing the capital that it requires. The conditions under which capital was obtained during the War for these key industries was simply phenomenal. They had no trouble of that kind at all. It is very difficult to discover the secrets of the Ministry of Munitions. All we know is that from the beginning of that Ministry to the end there has been a continual 871 stream of people who have been able to get from it resources with which to start one industry or another. Especially favourable terms have been given. I hesitate to quote examples, because it has almost been impossible to get the data, but it is common knowledge that a great many concerns were able during the War to wipe off the entire amount of capital that they had put into the development of their particular industry.
As my hon. Friend says, it was supplied by the Government. There cannot be the slightest doubt that among those industries so favoured these key industries had a particular place. We therefore start from this point, that for a period of seven years under these favourable conditions these industries have been developed. The President of the Board of Trade now comes and asks us to give another period of five years, making 12 in all. I do not know what the President of the Board of Trade is going to say. I do not know whether he is going to say anything at all. It is very difficult to get the Government or their supporters to say anything in support of these Resolutions. As a matter of fact, during the whole course of the three Debates, I do not think that we have had a single word from the Lord Privy Seal upon this effort to establish Protection in this country. As far as I can recollect, the only words that he used were, "I move that the Question be now put." I do not know whether we are going to have any more of these utterances during the course of the present Debate. I suppose we must wait and see. I do, however, hope that on this, the last opportunity of considering these Resolutions, the Government will really treat the matter seriously and endeavour to give us some reasons for the demands which they are making. I can quite understand that, if the President of the Board of Trade should speak, he will say that what must be given to these industries is some certain and definite period in which they can lay their plans; that you cannot expect an industry to grow up in a period which is entirely uncertain, when it does not know from year to year how it is going to be treated by the Government. We recognise the 872 force of that, and it is one of the strongest grounds upon which we say that the Government should not interfere with industry at all, because, however it interferes, it is bound to introduce this element of uncertainty. Admitting the force of that in respect of the people who are engaged in these industries, I want to put the obverse side. If one looks at these Regulations, one finds that they are not exhaustive, they are not inclusive. Certain things are put down as being covered by the Resolution, but then there are general phrases. Paragraph (a), for example, sets out specifically a number of things, and then winds up with the words, "and other optical instruments." Paragraph, (b) ends with, "and other laboratory porcelain"; and so you can go right through the Resolution—"other rare earth metals," "other fine chemicals"; and it winds up by sayingIncluding any articles comprised in any list which may from time to time be issued by the Board of Trade. …Could there be a greater element of uncertainty introduced into any measure than this? Articles are not specified; lists are not set out; times are not given. And it is to this uncertainty that this Resolution commits all those distributing agencies which are at the present time distributing the goods which may be brought within the scope of the Resolution. The Government only see the case from one side. They only think of the manufacturer—the person engaged in actually producing the goods; they think nothing of the agent, they think nothing of the merchant. And yet the effect of this Resolution is that no man engaged in the work of distribution, no man engaged in the import of these articles, can be certain that he may not wake up any morning to find that some list has been issued which imposes a 33⅓ per cent. tariff upon the goods in which he is dealing. The question of uncertainty, therefore, cuts both ways. If it is bad for the people who are supposed to be encouraged by these Resolutions, it is equally bad for those who certainly will be discouraged by them. On that ground we ask that the period of uncertainty shall be limited for both, and that, instead of five years, a term of three years should be inserted.
We do not choose that term of three years in a merely arbitrary way. We do not say, "The Government has put down 'five'; what shall we say? Oh, well, 873 say 'three'." That is not the method we have employed. The Government themselves are dealing here with two Resolutions. In the first Resolution, dealing with key industries, they have taken a period of five years, while in the other Resolution, dealing with collapsed exchanges, they are taking a period of three years. Our desire is that the whole of their policy shall really hang together—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—that the protective practices which are characteristic of both Resolutions shall operate during the same period of time, and that the limit of three years—which, if it does not put an end to what is enacted in the second Resolution, will certainly ensure the revision of the policy—shall also bring the policy of the first Resolution within the consideration of the House and the country again. We ask the Government to give this Amendment serious consideration. We might have gone further and have asked that the period should have been a period simply of one year. There would have been good ground for doing that. When the duties known as the McKenna duties were imposed, they were imposed, not for a definite period like this, but as from year to year, ensuring their coming before this House and being considered at the end of that time. That is how matters stand. They come up before the House again in the present Budget. We might have asked with a good deal of force that the same thing should be applied here, and that these new taxes—because that is what they are, neither more nor less they are not put on for the purpose of raising revenue, and no revenue, I think, is expected from them they are put on for a special purpose—should come up annually for review. All that we ask, however, is that the Government should adopt a consistent policy in point of time, and that the period which they themselves have selected for dealing with collapsed exchanges shall also be the period adopted for dealing with key industries.
§ Major HAYWARD
I beg to second the Amendment.
In moving this Amendment my hon. and gallant Friend expressed a doubt as to whether we should get any reply from the President of the Board of Trade. I sincerely trust that his doubt is not well founded. I hope that the President will give us a good deal of information, not only upon this 874 point, but upon many other points which have not yet been made quite clear in connection with these Resolutions. In case the President is not going to accept this Amendment—although I hope he may—I should like to ask him upon what evidence or upon what information the particular period of five years has been arrived at. No doubt the matter has been carefully considered. This Resolution is the prelude to a Bill for safeguarding industries, and applies to what are known as key industries. Is it the right hon. Gentleman's information that everything is so beautifully synchronised that, at the end of five years, all these various industries will at one and the same moment have just emerged into a sufficient state of progress to be able to stand upon their own footing, and to be able to withstand what my hon. and gallant Friend called the cold blast of foreign competition? On the merits of the Amendment itself, it seems to me that there are two very good reasons why it should be accepted. So far as the industries themselves are concerned, surely, if the period is reduced from five years to three years, it will be an additional incentive to those industries to put more energy and resource and enterprise into the business of putting their house in order. Then there is what I profoundly believe to be the far greater consideration of the consumer—in this case the people who use these goods, and the people who rely upon these goods for their raw materials. We have all been inundated with circulars of one kind and another by the users of these goods, who tell us one and all that they will be gravely prejudiced if this Resolution becomes finally embodied in an Act of Parliament. It would be much better for the consumers if the period of time were reduced from five years to three years. They will know better where they are; they will be better able to make their arrangements for the future; and if at the end of the period these industries cannot produce the goods which are required, or cannot produce them of such a character and such a quality, or at such a price as the users, in this country require, then it will be very much better for the consumer that they shall be put back on the old basis at the end of the shorter rather than of the longer period.
Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON
One can quite understand that those who are 875 in this privileged position will naturally want the period to be as long as possible, but the traders and the general public, and more particularly those traders who use the protected goods as the raw material of their industries, will be anxious that the period of protection shall be as limited as possible. If there is one thing which the trading world wants at the present time, it is, surely, rest and security against Government interference as far as possible. In my own part of the country, even men who in days gone by have been theoretically Tariff Reformers—many of them business men connected with large undertakings—have come round to this conclusion after the practical experience they have had during the War of enforced protection. That experience has disabused their minds of their theoretical fondness for protection, and they find, as business men, that the less they have of interference by Government or bureaucratic methods the better it is for their own particular industries. On these grounds I submit that the lesser period is infinitely preferable from the point of view of the broad interests of the country as a whole, and from the point of view of industrial magnates and their workers. Only last week I was rung up in my office by a firm in my constituency, who asked me in regard to the progress of this Bill. They were then negotiating a contract for material which they were going to buy from one of our Allies abroad, and they were anxious to fix it for a considerable period in order that they might find work—which is exceedingly scarce in our part of the country at the present time—for their mills, which employ a large number of men. They asked me, "When is this Bill going through? If it does go through, is it going to be retrospective, and are we safe in making this contract without the interference and uncertainty which the Bill will cause?" Of course, I was unable to say, as I am not a Member of the Government and am not in their confidences. The inquirer was a man who is opposed to me on political grounds, but he wanted freedom from interference by a Government Department which would cripple and handicap his work. Therefore, I appeal to the Government, if they are convinced that they must have some form of protection, if our trade in the past has done so badly that we are to depend upon this 876 spoon-feeding, that, at any rate, they should make the period of experiment as brief as possible, and that industries should not be handicapped unduly. In the interest of the trader particularly, and of the general public who want to get goods as cheaply as possible, without any 33⅓ per cent. more or less added on, I hope the Government will make their measure as little harmful as possible by reducing the period.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Baldwin)
With a great deal that has fallen from my hon. Friend (Mr. Thomson) I am in complete sympathy. Generally speaking, I dislike Government interference with business as much as anybody, and I agree with the implication in my hon. Friend's remarks that a great deal of the Government's undertakings in business during the War probably set back the nationalisation of industry in this country for a generation As far as that may be the case, I can assure my hon. Friend and the House that I am in cordial agreement with what he said. To come to the specific point raised by the Amendment, the hon. and gallant Member for East Newcastle (Major Barnes), who moved it, spoke of an arbitrary figure. Of course, in a way, any figure chosen for a period must be arbitrary. Three years is, and five years is, and I think also the one year which was moved during the Committee stage, and which apparently for the moment escaped the recollection of my hon. and gallant Friend. If my memory serves me, a period of one year was moved during the Committee stage, and was negatived on a Division. He spoke, and he spoke on the Committee stage too, about the peculiar industries that he called key industries as having already had a considerable run for their money during the War. But, of course, the position during the War was an extraordinary one in this way, that there was no competition of any kind, that in many cases experimental work had to proceed side by side with the execution of finished work, and some of the industries were aided by financial assistance, which, in many cases, has not yet been repaid to the Government by the firms which had advances for the purpose in hand.
The object of fixing the period of five years, which I quite agree may be described as an arbitrary period, is that 877 that is a term of years which after very careful consideration we believe is long enough for any industry to prove that when it is not having special financial assistance, and when there will still be in some cases competition, those industries can so solidify their position and so perfect their experiments that they may be able to stand and flourish in free competition at the end of that period. If they are unable to do so I think it is very possible that the Government of the day five years hence may have to confess that the endeavours made by this Government to root in our soil industries that we believe to be essential have failed and it is very possible that no further attempt may be made. I think myself, having regard to the class of some of these industries and the complexity of them, a three years' term would not be sufficient to enable them to be in such a position, both with regard to their perfection of manufacture and with regard to their financial position, that they could be exposed to that full blast of competition which has been referred to with any chance of success. I admit once more that five years is an arbitrary term but when the question of dyes was before the House a period was fixed twice that length, a period of ten years, and I understand that that period was arrived at after consultation with Ministers in the administration before last, who were all strong theoretical Free Traders. We do not ask for anything like that period. I think myself, for the purpose in hand in regard to these key industries, ten years would be much too long, though I freely admit whatever time was mentioned in the Bill we should expect Amendments, not by way of lengthening it but by way of shortening it, and I think in specifying five years we have gone to the limit of what the industries may reasonably expect and we have not gone to that limit which was recommended three or four years ago when perhaps people approached all these problems in a sanguine spirit and with more generous imagination than they would to-day. I myself stand by the five years which we have thought fit for this purpose and I hope the House will confirm the Government in the selection of that period.
§ Captain W. BENN
The right hon. Gentleman has really showed us that his mind is not working on the scheme which is alleged to be the basis of this Bill at all. He said, "those who are Free Traders 878 wanted this, but we on the other hand, want the other," and he is looking at this as a protective measure. He is not looking at it as a key industry measure at all, because the whole of his argument tended to show that this on the whole was the best and most reasonable compromise which could be made between hon. Members who did not want any protective tariff and industries which wanted a permanent protective tariff, and he said, "on the whole we think about five years is sufficient." But that is not the justification put forward by the Government for this Bill at all. The justification is that without this Bill we should find ourselves, if we were engaged in war, without the necessities for war. This Bill is not to protect this or that industry, however deserving it may be, or however much some hon. Members may think Protection is a good thing, but it is intended to safeguard key industries in the event of war, and on that point the right hon. Gentleman did not say a word. He went on inferentially to show that it was not the purpose of the Bill because he said, "there may perhaps at the end of the five years still be some competition in some of these industries." That was a sidelight on what was going to happen. But he went on to say, "perhaps in some cases they will fail and we shall find ourselves unable to implant in the soil of our country the roots of these new industries."
But the whole case for the Bill is that it must not fail—that we cannot afford to allow these industries to die. The right hon. Gentleman says he is afraid this system in some cases may fail. Surely he has shown that it is not the right way to go to work. The fact of the matter is that everyone is clamouring to get inside this Protection. Every hon. Member has his post-bag full every morning. People declare that their key industry must be protected, and the definition of key industry is so wide that there is hardly a single article of manufacture which will not come within its scope, and the Government have thought that, on the whole, the best and most satisfying sop they dare give was a period of five years. There is this very peculiar point about five years, that it will enable a whole Parliament to intervene before the matter comes up for review. We have quinquennial Parliaments but very few Parliaments last five years, and it is 879 extremely probable that if this Bill is passed the matter will be settled until the Parliament after next. I think it would be very desirable that the matter should come up for review after the whole question has been thrashed out before the electors at the next Election. The right hon. Gentleman said, quite truly, that the traders greatly disliked Government control. It paralyses industry, interferes with profits and altogether kills the spirit of adventure, which is the life-blood of successful industry. It has got to be continued not, as I hope I have shown from the right hon. Gentleman's own speech, in the interest of military necessity but in the interest of certain classes of traders, and that being the case, I suggest that we should not give the advantage of this protection for any longer period at least than such period as will enable the whole matter to be reviewed when another Parliament comes to meet after having consulted the electors in reference to this matter.
§ Sir GODFREY COLLINS
The President of the Board of Trade submitted two arguments in favour of his proposal. The first was that for seven years there was no competition in these industries, and all these trades needed time to build up their business in order to meet foreign competition in the future. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade was at the Ministry of Munitions during the War. Throughout the War the Government poured out money very readily in these trades, and the amount of money spent by the Government in the construction of factories, in experiment, in every attempt that human ingenuity could devise to produce a large, rapid, and efficient number of the articles mentioned in the Resolution was not grudged by the House of Commons or by the Department. Therefore I suggest that the main argument advanced by the Government, that the long war period was really not a period during which these trades could develop, is a strong argument in favour of the Amendment, and as during the War I was Chairman of the Sub-Committee of the National Expenditure Committee which examined into the finance of the Ministry of Munitions, I had very good opportunities of knowing that the Government and the Ministry did pour out large sums of money for extensions, for experiments, and for 880 scientific research in these industries. Therefore, these industries have already received very large sums of public money for the extension of their business. I do not deny that the nation during the period of the War received some considerable benefit from the outpouring of that money, but when the President of the Board of Trade asks the House to grant a further five years of high protection to these industries, I think he is asking the House to give a longer period than the necessities of the case demand. They have had already seven years of freedom from foreign competition, and the only difference between us and the Government is a period of two years. I submit that if this nation is anxious for the 50 articles mentioned in the Resolution to be highly developed for the next war; the best way we can encourage the production of these goods is to shorten the period to three years, and to allow these industries to face successfully, as I believe they will, foreign competition, and by that means absorb the best brains the Continent and America can offer, and, facing that competition, will be able in the future to manufacture a large number of the articles we require to enable this country to face her responsibilities in the future.
§ Mr. FRANCE
I shall support the Amendment, because I think three years is not as bad as five. I should much more willingly support an Amendment to limit it to one year. I think three years is too long. I think perhaps the most definite argument the President of the Board of Trade advanced against this suggestion of possibly subsidising inefficiency in these industries during five years is the very fact that after seven years of complete immunity from competition they have to ask for this very heavy tariff to come to their assistance. I use the words "subsidising inefficiency" with some knowledge and some consideration. I should like to tell the President of the Board of Trade of an experience that I had in connection with a firm which is dealing with the Colonies in the export trade in textile goods—goods which have been either produced in Lancashire or the West Riding of Yorkshire—into which there comes very largely as part of their manufacture the element of dyes. Their experience is that since the protection which has been given to the dye industry, the difficulty which 881 these firms of textile manufacturers have in obtaining the best dyes, as they always used to be able to do, from any part of the world is that constantly they are having their goods refused by their buyers in the Colonies and other parts of the world, because the colours will not stand and the goods are nothing like as efficiently manufactured as before. It stands to reason that that sort of thing will happen if you protect in this artificial way industries which ought to be able to stand upon their own footing and, with proper scientific research, possibly assisted by the Government for a limited time, be able to fight the competition of the world. That is the only way in which British industry can fight the competition of the world and continue our export trade. I regret very much that for five years we are to have these industries helped to this extent and thus deprived of the very stimulating help of competition, and all that comes from competition, and with it real scientific research.
§ Mr. KILEY
I want the House to realise what is before it. In the protection proposed in this Bill of certain industries for five years we have no assurance or guarantee that any one of these industries will rise to the needs of the situation. What assurance or guarantee have we that the commodities which are essential for carrying on the great trade of this country will be forthcoming, and that they will be forthcoming at such a price that will enable these trades to continue, and to continue our overseas trade? There is no assurance or guarantee, so far as I can gather, either in quality, quantity, or in price. Therefore, to give them protection for five years without any restriction or control by Parliament is taking a very drastic action. I can foresee the Government being confronted with a difficult situation at the end of three, four, or five years, with the possibility of these trades saying: "We have not been able, because we have not had sufficient capital, or for various other reasons, to make our way." I can foresee demands being made upon the Exchequer, as demands have been made in the past by the dye industry, sugar, and various other industries, which have come to the Government for assistance in order to prop up those industries. I think the President of the Board of 882 Trade has not fully realised what is before him, and before we agree to permit this House to give protection to these industries for so long a period we should demand some guarantee on the other side. Failing that, I shall certainly support the proposal for restricting the period to one or two years, or three years at the outside.
I was glad to hear the President of the Board of Trade take some credit for signs of grace which he has shown on this occasion. He has told the House that they were wicked enough to put ten years in the Dyestuffs Bill, but that now they have reformed and have only put five years in this Bill. We desire that the Government should be reformed altogether and made as perfect as possible and, therefore, we desire to limit the period to three years in the Bill. Three years is fairer to everyone. There is no man so simple as to believe that this country or this House of Commons will agree to a prolonged period of Tariff Reform, although we have been subject to protection by instalments for the last two or three years. If you reduce the period to three years you will obviate the necessity of imposing upon those guileless people who are apt to be lulled into a false sense of security in thinking that they have all they want if you give them five years. In order not to impose upon these simple people it will be advisable to make them feel that they will only have three years in which to put their house in order, and that if they do not accomplish that they will get no help from this House. It is also fairer to the consumers of the various articles named in the schedule, and of the articles that are not named, that the period should be three years. Some of the articles that are not named and are yet included are perhaps more important than those that are named. People who want to use thermometers, barometers or microscopes, or who have to wear spectacles, ought to know how long they are to be compelled when they buy these articles to pay their share towards the cost of the next Armageddon. The people who use these articles are, to the extent of their purchases, relieving the country of the cost of providing for the next war. It is the people who buy such articles who are asked to pay for the next war.
883 It will be fairer also to a large number of the supporters of the Government. It is cruel the way the Government have treated the Prime Minister. They are making him swallow leek after leek. It is cruel the way they have made him abolish the land taxes, and one thing after another. He said that if a protectionist policy was pursued we should be living on chunks of brown bread in this country, and yet this Government, of which he is supposed to be the head, compels him to swallow his own words. It makes one's heart bleed to see this sort of thing being done. One wonders whether the worm will ever turn. Many Coalition Liberals would like to support the Government,
§ but they cannot support them with full fervour if this sort of thing goes on. A number of them will support the Government anyhow, but there are some who are very uncomfortable. They make strong speeches, which are not always followed up by strong votes. I appeal to the Government to make it as easy as possible for these people to swallow these Resolutions. In the interests of the trade of the country it would be well to let the people concerned feel that the Resolutions are not to be a permanent part of our fiscal policy and, therefore, it is desirable that this Amendment should be accepted.
§ Question put, "That the word 'five' stand part of the said Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 203 Noes, 81.885
|Division No. 128.]||AYES.||[4.55 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Falcon, Captain Michael||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)|
|Armitage, Robert||Fell, Sir Arthur||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Fildes, Henry||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Atkey, A. R.||FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Ford, Patrick Johnston||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Foreman, Sir Henry||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Forestier-Walker, L.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Forrest, Walter||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Frece, Sir Walter de||Matthews, David|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Gardiner, James||Mitchell, William Lane|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Gee, Captain Robert||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Bigland, Alfred||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Gilbert, James Daniel||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Glyn, Major Ralph||Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Goff, Sir R. Park||Morrison, Hugh|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar||Murchison, C. K.|
|Briggs, Harold||Greig, Colonel James William||Murray, William (Dumfries)|
|Brown, T. W. (Down. North)||Gretton, Colonel John||Nall, Major Joseph|
|Bruton, Sir James||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Neal, Arthur|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Hallwood, Augustine||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Parker, James|
|Casey, T. W.||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Pearce, Sir William|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Percy, Charles (Tynemouth)|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Hills, Major John Waller||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Clough, Robert||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Pratt, John William|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Howard, Major S. G.||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Hurd, Percy A.||Remer, J. R.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Remnant, Sir James|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Cope, Major William||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Jesson, C.||Rodger, A. K.|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustavo D.|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Kidd, James||Shaw, Capt. William T. (Forfar)|
|Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Thorpe, Captain John Henry||Wise, Frederick|
|Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)||Townshend, Sir Charles V. F.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander||Waddington, R.||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Stanton, Charles Butt||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)||Woolcock William James U.|
|Starkey, Captain John Ralph||Waring, Major Walter||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Steel, Major S. Strang||Watson, Captain John Bertrand||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Stevens, Marshall||Williams, C. (Tavistock)||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Sutherland, Sir William||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Taylor, J.||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)||Winfrey, Sir Richard||McCurdy.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Rae, H. Norman|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hayday, Arthur||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hayward, Evan||Rose, Frank H.|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hirst, G. H.||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Spencer, George A.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Holmes, J. Stanley||Spoor, B. G.|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Swan, J. E.|
|Briant, Frank||Irving, Dan||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Cairns, John||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Kennedy, Thomas||Tootill, Robert|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Kenyon, Barnet||Wallace, J.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Kiley, James Daniel||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lunn, William||Waterson, A. E.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Wignall, James|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Mills, John Edmund||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wintringham, Thomas|
|Gillis, William||Myers, Thomas||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Newbould, Alfred Ernest|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Grundy, T. W.||O'Grady, James||Mr. G. Thorne and Mr. Neil|
§ Captain W. BENN
On a point of Order. There is an Amendment on the Paper, after the word "Ireland," to insert the words "not being articles manufactured in other parts of the British Empire." I venture to ask you whether, in passing over that Amendment, you have taken into account that in Committee the Government announced a piece of news to the House, namely, that under this scheme they intended to give a preference on these key industry products?
I beg to move, to leave out "33⅓," and to insert instead thereof "10."
This, again, will make it much easier for Members on the Front Bench opposite, because some of them have gone against even a 10 per cent. in days gone by. The sudden addition of 33⅓ per cent. to the various kinds of articles that are mentioned in this Resolution will produce a very disturbing effect, not only upon the 886 manufacture of, but upon trade and commerce in, these articles, and I do submit that 33⅓ per cent. is far too much if there is to be any duty at all. The old tariff reformers were more reasonable than the new tariff reformers. The old tariff reformers, at the most, only proposed a tariff of 10 per cent. The Postmaster-General will bear me out, because some years ago he fought against 10 per cent., and although he fought against 10 per cent. in those days, I ask him on this occasion to vote for this Amendment. Ten per cent. has a classic ring about it. It was the percentage proposed by the late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain and for it the present Leader of the House professes to have a filial regard. I like filial regards of that sort, and if the right hon. Gentleman were here at the moment, I would ask him to support us in, at any rate, this little way of showing a regard for the classic of tariff reform. This vulgar 33⅓ per cent., as it is to a man who has kept himself up, or nearly up, in the classical tradition of 10 per cent., is very distasteful, and it certainly is too much duty to put on all at once. And it 887 is not that percentage alone. A merchant who has got to pay 33⅓ per cent. more for spectacles which he sells to a customer will probably add not 33⅓, but 50 per cent., and in some cases 100 per cent., because on most of these optical goods the merchant charges a considerable amount of profit. Therefore, the people who, in their old age, have to buy spectacles, will have to pay perhaps double the amount for an inferior article If the trade of this country cannot safeguard itself behind a tariff wall of 10 per cent., against which the Postmaster-General raised his hands in holy horror 10 years ago, then there is no hope for it.
§ Mr. MYERS
I beg to second the Amendment.
I desire to be associated with those on this side of the House who wish to restrict the operation of this Resolution in any shape or form whatever. I am one of those who believe that all protective duties ultimately are paid by the consumer, and, whatever imposition is levied upon the various articles specified in these Resolutions, in the last resort the penalty will fall upon those who have to use these particular articles and commodities. The opposition to these duties has been presented from two points of view. I have heard it urged that it is desired by the Government to impose these duties upon these particular articles for the purpose of ensuring a supply of the necessary articles in preparation for the next war. If that is so, if the House means what it says in this matter, it should vote down these Resolutions, in order to prevent that possibility arising. On the other hand, it is presented that these duties are necessary for the purpose of safeguarding key industries. I will leave the region of argument and enter into the arena of facts, which are such that many of these industries specified in these Resolutions do not need any safeguarding, and are quite capable of looking after themselves. I want to submit to the House a record of one or two of these particular industries, and indicate as far as possible their ability to look after themselves, having regard to the results of their undertakings. I find that, in the case of the Welsbach Light Company, the price of their shares in 1914 was 7s. 6d. The highest price those shares reached in 1919 was 75s. 4d., and, even while there has been some reduction since, 888 at the end of December, 1920, the price of their shares was 42s. 6d. If we take Curtis's & Harvey, manufacturers of "Ironclad" gas mantles, the price of their shares in 1914 was 19s., and in December, 1919, it had reached 54s. The dividend in 1913 was 10 per cent., and in 1916 20 per cent., so at least there are two concerns which, I repeat, are well able to attend to their own interests, having regard to the results of their undertakings.
§ Mr. MYERS
The Resolutions, I suggest, apply to the particular articles such as are manufactured by these undertakings. We will take the General Electric Company, who manufacture Osram lamps, and the Resolution, again, I submit, provides for protecting the manufacture of these particular articles in this country.
§ Mr. MYERS
The articles manufactured by these concerns, and the raw materials involved, all come within these Resolutions. The General Electric Company, manufacturers of the Osram lamp, in 1914 paid a dividend of 10 per cent., and in 1918, 10 per cent. plus a bonus of 50 per cent., so that that undertaking is getting along well. The Edison Swan Electric and Tungsten Arc Lamps Company, before providing for excess profits in 1915, had total profits of £14,146, and in 1918, £115,438. The old ordinary shareholders received 7½ per cent. bonus after re-organisation of capital. If the details of these particular organisations are not considered sufficient, we can give a general argument which covers the whole field of these electrical fittings undertakings from the Stock Exchange Year Book. In the 1918 Electrical Advertisement section there appears this quotation:At no previous period in the history of the British electrical industry has there been such a widespread spirit of confidence as exists to-day. The War has left electrical manufacturing in a far stronger position than it occupied in August, 1914. Electricity was not only an industry of national importance, but was one of the vital key industries, and so it will always remain.And as a vital key industry, an effort is being made under these Resolutions to give it support which it does not need. It is doing well in existing circum- 889 stances, and any artificial protection that it receives will only enable the undertakings still further to plunder the community in the future. Now these Resolutions I see make reference to the chemical industries. Here, again, the same tale has to be told. Evans, Sons, Lescher and Webb, fine chemical and drug manufacturers, paid in 1913 a dividend of 5 per cent., free of tax; in 1914, 10 per cent.; in 1915, 15 per cent.; in 1916, 12½ per cent.; in 1917, 10 per cent.; in 1918, 12½ per cent.; and in 1919, 150,000 ordinary shares, at 50s. per share, were issued by that undertaking. Brunner, Mond and Company, who are engaged in the production of alkaline and other chemicals, had a paid-up capital in 1914 of just over £3,000,000. In 1918 it was over £9,000,000, and the dividends during the War averaged 12½ per cent., and bonuses were given in addition. Take the United Alkaline Company. Their shares on 30th July, 1914, were worth 5s. 3d. each, and in 1919, 30s. In 1913 they paid no dividend, and in 1919 they paid 15½ per cent. The Bradford Dyers' Association, users of dyes, in 1914 paid 5 per cent.; in 1917, 17½ per cent. The price of the shares in July, 1914, was 22s. 3d., and in October, 1919, was £2 10s. The price of the shares of the British Cotton and Wool Dyers in 1914 was 3s. 1d., and October, 1919, 13s. 9d., and the dividend jumped from 5 to 10 per cent. The shares of the Bleachers' Association jumped from 17s. 2d. to 34s. between 1914 and 1918. The Yorkshire Dyeware and Chemical Company paid a dividend in 1914 of 4 per cent., and by 1917–18 the dividends had jumped to 35 per cent., with various rates in between. The Yorkshire Indigo and Scarlet Colour Dyers paid 5 per cent. in 1914, 10 per cent. in 1917, and 10 per cent. in 1918, plus 50 per cent. bonus free of tax. So I could go on. I have a budget of them if the House desires to hear any more. These concerns are evidently well able to look after themselves, and these protective duties all: strengthen the monopoly that these concerns at present hold and add to their capacity further to bleed the community out of the goods they make, and from these points of view alone, if any protection is required, it is not the protection of the dividends of these undertakings, but protection of the consuming community of the country.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
I am obliged to the hon. Member for Spen Valley (Mr. Myers) for his speech, because when the House comes to analyse it, it affords complete justification for the whole of the proposals that are being put before the House. An analysis of the examples which he gives answers any arguments put forward against the duties which we propose and shows how careful the Government have been to distinguish between those industries which need this protection in the national interests and those which we have wisely decided to leave outside. The case of the gas mantle companies was presented with perhaps natural reiteration when these Resolutions were before the Committee, and if the hon. Member had been present he would have appreciated that the gas mantle industry is not included among the key industries, and the two firms which he has quoted are solely manufacturers of gas mantles. He also said that the electric lamp industry could very well look after itself. I am not sure that I will go as far as that, because I think that it is going to be faced with serious and severe competition, but it is an industry which we had to consider very carefully and it is not included among the key industries. Then he gave an example of a firm which during the War had done well, Evans, Sons, Lescher and Webb, as an example of why we ought not to protect the fine chemical industry. The hon. Member will be surprised to know that that firm so far from being in its main business a manufacturer of fine chemicals is a firm of wholesale druggists who make their money out of selling the fine chemicals manufactured by other people. Then he cited two other great undertakings as instances why we ought not to protect the fine chemical industry—the case of Brunner Monds and the United Alkali Company. Neither of those firms are manufacturers of fine chemicals. They are both great manufacturers in the heavy chemical industry in this country. That industry we admit is well established in this country and for this reason in this Resolution we draw an explicit distinction between the fine chemical industry which is not so established and requires to be established and the heavy chemical industry which is well established.
The hon. Member also explained to us that the firms which had been great users of dyes had managed to make large pro- 891 fits. I agree, and hope that they will go on making profits, but surely the fact that the users of dyes are still able to make substantial profits is a complete answer to the suggestion that if you protect an industry like the dye industry you will ruin the people who use dyes. I have said enough to show that the Government have given careful consideration to all these matters, and have been cautious to see that no industries are included which are able to stand on their own feet. The real question is whether, as regards the industries which are included, the duty ought to be 10 per cent. or 33⅓ per cent. The hon. Member for the Western Isles (Dr. Murray) in a very delightful speech twitted the Postmaster-General (Mr. Kellaway) with his sudden allegiance to 33⅓ per cent. Whatever he may have done in other days, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Kellaway) has just succeeded by a very handsome majority, in a long by-election, on his defence of key industries by a duty of 33⅓ per cent.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
They had the explanation of hon. Members opposite of what they expected the proposals to be. The question, therefore, is whether we ought to confine ourselves to the 10 per cent. If we are to decide this on the basis of authority laid down by our predecessors, I would suggest that 33⅓ per cent. was the rate adopted by Mr. McKenna, the founder of the political faith of the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn). If it is the right policy to protect key industries in the United Kingdom, what are you to do?
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
Prohibition and licences would be about as extreme a form of Protection as could possibly be devised. What we are doing in this Bill is to impose such a duty as will, we hope, be an effectual safeguard of these industries. I defy the House to name any one of these industries which could be adequately protected in this country without a duty of at least 33⅓ per cent. This duty has not been selected at random. I say frankly that there are some industries which will still be in difficulties even with this duty of 33⅓ per 892 cent. We have gone through all the industries, and have compared the prices at which the goods concerned are sold in other countries and here. In not one single case is the 33⅓ per cent. duty unnecessary.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
I am not going to say whether it is purely in consequence of the exchange. It is partly because of the exchange. It is also because other countries have decided that it is wise to build up these industries. The German chemical industry, for instance, has been founded on 40 years of trade and experience and careful fostering in that country, and that has given it a position which undoubtedly enables it to compete with us, and, what is more, to undersell the industries we are trying to build up. I defy any Member of the House to name a single industry which is in the key industry list the goods of which cannot be undersold by our competitors. That being so, is not a suggestion to reduce the duty from 33⅓ per cent. to 10 per cent. made, not in the interest of the consumer, but quite definitely with the object of wrecking this proposal and of making these industries ineffective in future.
§ Captain W. BENN
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has made a very interesting speech, but, like the President of the Board of Trade, he has made the error of working on what is in his mind instead of basing his case on the reasons given to the House. He is looking upon this from the point of view of a tariff. He believes in a tariff for all trades. That is not the case on which these Resolutions are based. In referring to the speech made by the hon. Member for Spen Valley (Mr. Myers), he mentioned certain articles, and said, "These are not in the Bill." Could not some of them have been included, owing to the words "any articles comprised in any list which may be issued from time to time by the Board of Trade"? Certainly, the hon. and gallant Gentleman will see that electric bulbs could be defined in the list as lamp-blown glass work. This is a matter entirely within the scope of the definition of the Board of Trade. We know quite well from experience of the German Reparation (Recovery) Act and the Orders made by the Board of Trade only the other day 893 —Orders which appear to be quite outside the scope of the Act—that there is very little the Board of Trade will not permit themselves to do in these definitions. The real case for the Amendment or for some variation of the Government's proposal is that a duty of this kind is utterly unsuitable for the purpose which the Government allege to be the purpose they have in view. Look at the incidence of it. If a thing comes from Germany or from a country in which the exchange is depreciated, this duty is cumulative on the duties subsequently to be proposed in the second Resolution. So you have a man protected from German goods or goods from Bohemia at one rate of duty, and the same man attacked by competitors from America at another rate of duty. Far more than that, the Government say that they are attempting to help industries on which our lives depend in time of war. Yet they say that when a Colonial competitor arrives he is to be permitted to cut out the British industry and to send in goods here without any tariff whatsoever.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
We do that for the reason that we expect in any future war that there will be the same union within the British Empire as there was in the late War.
§ Captain BENN
The sentiment does great credit to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but it will not interfere with the submarines of a possible enemy. How are you to get your are lamp carbons, or your hosiery latch needles from, say, Samoa, if there is a submarine intervening between that country and this? No amount of patriotism on the part of the Dominions or on the part of the hon. and gallant Gentleman will enable that cargo to reach our shores. The whole system can easily be riddled and can be shown to be a thing that is totally inappropriate for the purpose in hand. We are supposed to be safeguarding the life of our country in the military sense, and we are not supposed to be setting up a tariff. The more we examine these proposals, the more we see that in fact they are merely a crude tariff which is brought in to satisfy the conscientious scruples of persons like the Postmaster-General in the form of the safeguarding of key industries. It is a tariff. It is not a good tariff but a very crude tariff, and it cannot be examined for five minutes by anyone with 894 a sense of humour without it being laughed out of court.
§ Mr. WISE
Surely the War has opened our eyes to the many risks we ran in 1914. If there is one thing more than another we want in future it is security for the United Kingdom. That security can be obtained only by the protection of certain articles, especially the fine chemicals. I have here a Report made by the "British Mission appointed to visit enemy chemical factories in the occupied zone engaged in the production of munitions of war in February, 1919." An extract from that Report is as follows:The key to Germany's War production of explosives was the Haber process for the production of ammonia from atmospheric nitrogen. It is significant that large scale production by this process only began at the end of 1912, and that in the early part of 1914 great pressure was put on the Badische Company to increase its output. During the War"—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)
The hon. Gentleman is embarking on a more or less general discussion. The point at issue is the narrow one whether the duty should be 33⅓ per cent. or 10 per cent.
§ Mr. WISE
I wished to show from this extract that the War would probably have been over in 1916 if Germany had not had these fine chemicals, and I contend that it is essential that the 33⅓ per cent. duty should be imposed to protect the chemicals. In my constituency there is a large chemical factory which was established in 1797, and they write to me to say that German competition is so acute that they have had almost to close down and that about three-quarters of their men and women are unemployed. What is worse is the fact that German competition through the exchange enables the Germans to cut out entirely any profit there may be in manufacture. I will read an extract from a letter received from the firm. My correspondent writes:You can take it from me that our greatest competition in the future is going to be German—particularly Merck. They are out to smash Howards"—that is the firm in my constituency—"if possible. This last week I have received absolutely trustworthy information that Mercks have instructed people over here to cut to get in.It is essential that we should have manufactures of these chemicals in this country. It is no use spending money on battleships and munitions unless we 895 have the fine chemicals to supplement them for the making of gunpowder, etc. I contend that 33⅓ is, if anything, too little to keep the manufactures going.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
When I took part in the Debate on the Committee stage, I followed an hon. Member for Edinburgh who advocated the acceptance of these Resolutions by mentioning a particular industry in his constituency. The experience is repeating itself this afternoon. The hon. Member who has just spoken has urged that the country should change its policy because of a particular trade in his constituency. So the ball is set rolling and soon some hundred different trades will find an outlet and expression in this House. I wish to deal with the argument advanced by the hon. and gallant Member who replied for the Government. If I may say so, he showed very accurate knowledge of the firms who are manufacturing to day the articles mentioned in the Resolutions. He refuted several of the points put forward by my hon. Friend, and in doing so he showed he knew the firms who are making the articles mentioned in the Resolution. I wish to put it to the President of the Board of Trade that as he knows the firms he should publish the names of the firms and the figures showing the number of people employed. That is a very reasonable request. That he is conversant with the firms is proved by the fact that on the spur of the moment in several cases he has stated quite clearly that firms referred to, whose profits were large, were not making the articles mentioned in the Resolutions. When the country is being asked to give a large protective duty to these trades, the very least the House should demand from the Government is a statement showing the numbers concerned, the capital employed, the people working, and in addition a figure which the Government can well get showing the amount of Government money paid to these firms year by year throughout the War. We ask for information. It may be that the Government have a very good case for this duty of 33⅓ per cent. It may be that all these firms are so inefficient that they need this protection. We are entitled to know the names of the firms, and to know whether we can rely in future on them for the production of these vital key industry goods. That deals with the argument advanced by the hon. and gallant 896 Member. This particular Amendment aims at reducing the duty to 10 per cent. I was present in St. Andrew's Hall in 1903 when the late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain introduced his tariff scheme and if I may say so, we who are moving in this matter, seem to be following in the footsteps of the late Member for West Birmingham. As hon. Members opposite hold him in such reverence possibly the point we are asking the Government to accept will find some measure of support not only in their minds but in their hearts.
§ Mr. A. M. SAMUEL
The proposal, as I take it, is to make the duty 10 per cent. in place of 33⅓ per cent., and I shall take the first item which appears in this White Paper, namely, optical glass and other optical elements. I am totally in disagreement with those hon. Members who think they can help the country by reducing this duty. I do not think for a moment it will do any good to reduce it. I propose to base my remarks on a statement which fell from the hon. Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn) when he taunted Ministers by saying this was a protective measure rather than a measure for the safety of the country. It does not matter very much what duty you put upon optical glass, and when I say that, I hope the House will understand that the glass from which spectacles are made, is not included. [HON. MEMBERS: "Of course it is!"] I happen to have had the privilege of working in the optical instrument department in the War Office during some months of the War, and optical glass is not the glass out of which spectacles are made. I define optical glass as having certain refractive indices and dispersions. The total amount of optical glass made for the use of the whole world at the present moment does not amount annually in weight to 50 tons, or in value much more than £50,000. It will never pay any firm in this country to produce a commodity which in the whole year for whole world only represents £50,000. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen will say, "Then why safeguard this industry?" [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Do the hon. Members to my right ask that in cool reason? We did not, early in the War, know what to do in the War Office for binoculars for our men at the Front.
I can tell a story which may interest the House. We had to buy, borrow, and 897 beg prismatic binoculars in twos and threes and sixes and tens for our men at the Front. We could not get the unwrought optical glass out of which to make the prisms or lenses for these binoculars for the men in the trenches. One of His Majesty's counsel, Mr. J. W. Gordon, helped us very greatly by going to France and buying unwrought glass in small slabs worth a sovereign or so each in order to provide the material to make lenses and prisms for our glasses. For 10 or 20 years we had depended upon the firms at Jena to send us glass to this country. I produced for the Commercial Committee of this House before I was a Member of it an invoice issued by that Jena firm to a British optician. In that invoice the persons who bought the optical glass from the German firm bound themselves down not to make that optical glass into anything of which the German firm would not approve. We were at the mercy of Jena. They dictated what we should make. Not only should we put a duty of 33⅓ per cent. on optical glass and instruments, but we should do everything to induce someone in this country to make those articles and render us entirely independent of the German firms.
Yet hon. Gentlemen are asking us to reduce this duty, forgetting how short we were of this most necessary glass at a critical period of the War. We had to try experiments to find substitutes for prisms and lenses. The Astronomer Royal for Scotland endeavoured to find a metal mirror to take the place of the lenses which we could not get or make. He came to my house on a Sunday at that time to discuss the position, and then to try and find if he could not substitute for lenses and prisms polished copper in order to make instruments for the use of the Field Artillery; so hard pressed were we in 1915 for unwrought optical glass and prisms and lenses. It makes me feel I am living in an unreal world when hon. Gentlemen on my right set about preventing the Government doing something to enable us to have an adequate supply of this entirely essential commodity for the safety of this country under our own control. Suppose, instead of putting on a duty, the Government offer to give a subsidy, the same objection will be put forward by those now opposing, and for merely party reasons. It is 898 both unchivalrous and against the practice of this House to attribute motives, but I cannot see why hon. and gallant Members like the hon. and gallant Member for Leith should not look at the importance of the first thing on this Paper and then see how their own arguments apply. We should never have had a single instrument made with optical glass produced in this country between 1916–18 had it not been for Messrs. Chance, of Smethwick. The way in which they took the matter in hand was magnificent. and without thought of the monetary loss, and it should be remembered that there are difficulties involved in educating workpeople to the making of optical glass. It is a difficult and expert process to anneal this particular kind of glass; it takes months to teach the men and months to get the crucibles; and for that reason it is an industry that should be taken in hand, fostered or subsidised and helped and, if you like, protected. We must have the glass, or our fighting men are powerless. I have said that the total amount of optical glass made in the course of the year for the whole world is only 50 tons, and that the annual value is £50,000, but out of that glass is made, among others, those wonderful things called Barr and Stroud (Stroud) range-finders. This almost miraculous instrument which enables the guns of our great battleships to hit a target at 20 miles is worth one or two or more thousand pounds; yet the value of the unwrought optical glass in a range-finder is under £5—or much less. We must take into account the great value of the optical instruments of all kinds—for peace, war and air—made from this glass, and we should remember that it is the making of such instruments which we are seeking to maintain. £50,000 worth of glass will be enough for £30,000,000 sterling worth of optical instruments. We should not allow the production of this indispensable commodity to pass out of our hands.
There is another matter before the House to which my arguments apply in the same way. I remember the Director of Artillery asking me to find out in 1915 whether we could get supplies of what was then known as chemical glass, and declaring that he could not get on unless he had these test tubes, beakers, flasks, burettes, and other articles used for steel test purposes, and known generally as 899 laboratory glass. I could get none for our steel makers. In the past we imported these articles from Southern Germany. In the Black Forest in and around Freiburg these test tubes and other laboratory glass articles are made in cottages at 6d. or 1s. each. They could not and cannot be made by industry in this country for six times the German price. It was largely due to the illustrious Professor Meldola and Messrs. Branson, I think, of Leeds, that steps were taken to help us in the War Office in this direction in order that our steel makers might have proper tools with which, in 1915, to test steel for our engines of war. The hon. Members on my right seem (to use a hackneyed phrase) to forget there has been a War, and that we were short of the articles set forth in the White Paper. I would support a 1,000 per cent. or a 1,000,000 per cent. duty on these articles, but they would not. In order to carry out their worn and threadbare party theories of Free Trade they would rather risk seeing the country lacking these articles of defence and in danger again, than support this step which, to my mind, is necessary for the protection of the country and their own wives and children.
§ Mr. FRANCE
The hon. Member who has just spoken made a very interesting speech and revealed some things which were quite new to me and perhaps new to the House, but I draw entirely different conclusions from those which he draws. He has pointed out that it is impossible for any English firm to make optical glass and that no duty of 33⅓ per cent. is any good. What is the obvious conclusion? He will surely believe there are other Members in the House who desire just as much as he does to see the country protected. It is only a matter of the way in which it is done. If it is absolutely essential to have this elaborate optical glass manufacture which no firm can profitably carry out and which we had to go abroad for, during the War, surely the duty of the Government is not to bring in this tinkering protection proposal, this pottering measure to deal with a great and practical subject, but to undertake it themselves as they undertake the building of battleships. I am as much opposed to nationalisation in the general sense as anyone, but in a matter of absolute 900 national necessity surely it would be far better for the Government to undertake this comparatively small trade themselves and see that it is thoroughly well done so that the country may not be endangered in the future. This proposal opens the door not only to these particular trades, but to other trades akin to them to come in and ask not only for 33⅓ per cent., but for those other larger figures which the hon. Member in the generosity of his spirit is prepared to give for the protection of industries he thinks necessary.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. A. WILLIAMS
The hon. Member for Ilford (Mr. Wise) talked about the War opening our eyes, and he seemed to think it had opened the eyes of no one who differed from himself. I think it is a pity he did not open his own eyes to the fact that some of the most strongly Protectionist nations in the world were just as badly prepared in the things necessary for war as was Free Trade Britain. France and Italy were surely Protectionist enough, and had high enough duties on all sorts of things, but they were no better prepared in various essential matters than we were. The putting on of these big duties does not protect an industry in the sense of encouraging it and getting the best possible results out of it. It has rather the result of making the manufacturer go to sleep behind a big protective wall. I have been a manufacturer myself in a small way, and there are only two things that keep manufacturers up to the mark. One is competition and the other is for the Government to stir them up where necessary in the public interest. The hon. Member on the Treasury Bench (Sir P. Lloyd-Greame) asked what would be an effective duty, and I say, effective for what? If you want an effective duty to enable people to go to sleep, put on a heavy one. If you are going to put a duty on by way of encouragement, it is essential that it should not be a big duty, or instead of having a good effect in stimulating industry, it will have the effect of sending people to sleep. The same hon. Gentleman talked of our having to compete against industries which have forty years of Government encouragement, and so on, but he forgot to mention that they have had forty years of the application of scientific methods, forty years of the highest possible 901 technical instruction, forty years of the Government seeing that everything is done in the most efficient way, and if we are going to stimulate these scientific industries in this country, it is on some such lines as those that we shall have to do it. There is another reason why I think we should not go beyond 10 per cent., if we are going to put on these duties, and that is from the experience of our country in the old days when we had considerable duties. It was then found that anything above 10 per cent. would certainly produce a fine crop of smuggling and of perjury as to the nature and value of goods. In the old days Brighton was full of smuggled goods; all the south of England was full of smuggled goods, and in Brighton, in particular, it was well understood that when a cargo of smuggled goods was landed the Prince Regent was always to have the first offer of the best of the goods, if he cared to buy. We do not want to go back to that sort of thing, and I say that if you put on a 10 per cent. duty you will have done all you possibly can by way of duties, and where you have trades which are essential to the country in time of war you must adopt other methods.
Hon. Members talk of their eyes being opened by the War. For myself, my eyes were opened in this matter before the War. I realised quite fully, although I was always brought up a Free Trader, that there were a great many things which we were not providing ourselves which might be essential to us in war, and that we ought to provide ourselves with them, in view of the possibility of war, just as we provided ourselves with battleships and other munitions of war. If hon. Members in other parts of the House have learned that lesson, I am sure that we here are prepared to meet them on that basis, and that where things are proved to be necessary for the country in time of war, we should be quite prepared to join, in some practical and feasible and scientific way, in providing the country with those things. Sometimes it may be done by keeping a large stock of the article in question. A great deal might be done, for instance, with this optical glass in having a very large stock always in the country. Sometimes it must be done in other ways, by the application of science, by Government manufactures, and so on; but 902 simply, to put on a 33⅓ per cent. duty, which almost everybody who has spoken from the Protectionist point of view tells us is absurdly small and quite useless for the purpose, and then go to sleep and imagine the thing is done, is betraying the interests of the country. I therefore hope the Government will reconsider this matter and abandon this plan, which will only produce inefficiency and corruption, and that they will, if necessary, resort to more scientific means for providing the country with such things as ordinary trade does not supply, and which are absolutely necessary to us in time of war.
Sir W. BARTON
I want to find out why a 33⅓ per cent. duty is proposed. The speeches I have heard from the other side convince me of this—and I assume that their object is that the nation in time of war may not be in absolute danger from the want of these particular things—that if that is so, these proposals are not the means by which to effect that end. We have had the extraordinarily interesting illustration of optical glass by an hon. Member (Mr. A. M. Samuel), who has expert knowledge and special inside knowledge of the actual position, and it was quite clear from what he said that this duty will not be anything like sufficient to enable firms to make that glass in this country. I think this is a matter for the Government to take up and to make it, as they would make gunpowder, for the safety of the country. These proposals are crude and ill-considered, and I think my hon. Friend opposite (Sir P. Lloyd-Greame) must have come to that conclusion himself, for the arguments he put forward had no relation to this proposal whatever. They had relation to a possible future war, a very short-sighted view, in my opinion. I consider that the interest of this nation is to build up the economic fabric of the nation. That would be the truest preparation for war, but to put on tariffs, to hinder industry, and to embarrass employment is not the way to prepare for a coming war. Surely in the last War, next to the bravery of our soldiers and the character of our people, the strongest asset was our financial position, built up under Free Trade, and the Government propose to embarrass that position and have not even proved by one single fact that this 33⅓ per cent. duty will help us.
§ Mr. RAE
I sat during the War for eighteen months on a Board of Trade Committee that amongst other matters investigated the question of the lack of certain articles which were necessary for carrying on the War, and which, at all events for a long time, we were not able to manufacture, even to a small extent, in this country. Rightly or wrongly—and I think rightly—we came to the conclusion to recommend that certain key industries should be established and should either receive some protection in the form of duties or by way of subsidies. A certain number of us, perhaps, would have preferred subsidies, but I understand that there are certain difficulties in the way of subsidies, which are very difficult to work. However that may be, I do not look at this matter from the point of view of either the Free Trader or the Protectionist. I think it is a question of what is really necessary to the country when the country is in very grave difficulties indeed, and that is a far more important factor than the question of the principle of Free Trade or Protection. The hon. Member for Morley (Mr. France) has told us that if Protection is to be given, it should be given sufficiently high and that 33⅓ per cent. is not sufficiently high. I would like to ask the hon. Member this question: Is he prepared to vote for a protection sufficiently high, if 33⅓ per cent. is not sufficiently high? The real truth of the matter is that they are looking at this question entirely from the point of view of the Free Trader or the Protectionist, and I hold that it ought to be placed on a much higher level than that.
§ Mr. FRANCE
The hon. Member has attributed to me something which I never said. I referred to a remark made by a previous speaker, who said that 33⅓ per cent. is no good, and I advocated, rather than that, the method of manufacturing this glass by the Government.
§ Mr. RAE
Here, again, we have Members suggesting that the Government should do it—the very Members who have been fighting tooth and nail against Government control and Government interference. I think there is a good deal of insincerity in this opposition. The hon. Member for Oldham (Sir W. Barton) talked about the embarrassing of trade and employment, but anyone who knows anything at all about the manufacture of 904 any of these articles included in this list knows that to talk about a 33⅓ per cent. or any other duty upon these articles causing serious embarrassment to employment in this country is speaking rather wide of the mark. Let us, at all events, give these men who are prepared to try and manufacture these articles the help that is suggested in these Resolutions. Whether they will succeed or not, I do not know. I have very grave doubts about their success in some of them, but we ought to make an effort to give some help to those who are willing to take the risk.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Rae) accuses us of being insincere. I should have been the last person to introduce that sort of suggestion into the Debate, but as we have this question of sincerity or insincerity brought forward, it is just as well that we should look facts in the face. This is the first real Debate we have had on these protectionist tariffs, the first time that we have had in this House people speaking in this House for the interests of their own pockets. Anybody who shares in any of these protected industries and takes part in these Debates is taking part, not from the public point of view, but from his own personal point of view, and in that case we cannot have that straightforward sincerity that we ought to have in the public interest, in this House. There are always two questions in politics. On one side is the public interest, and on the other side is the vested interest, and in these protectionist Debates which we are going to have now we shall undoubtedly have the vested interest side presented to us with unblushing insincerity. With this particular Amendment, I think we may agree that everybody in this House is definitely anxious that we should secure in this country the manufacture or the possibility of the acquisition of all those materials which are essential for war. We do not in any way want to hamper our country if she has the misfortune again to be dragged into war. We want to be quite certain that all these optical glasses and other instruments will be more readily available for the next war than they were for the late one. We are all at one in this regard.
There are, however, two diametrically opposite schools of thought in that matter, and as to how we shall arrive at that 905 position. There are hon. Members below the Gangway who think that the only way is by a very high protective duty on all the products of these key industries, so that private individauls may be induced by the prospect of high profits to manufacture these goods in this country. That is a perfectly intelligible school of thought. The other school of thought, represented more particularly on these benches—and I am glad to say by the hon. Member opposite for Morley—is that, these things being necessary, we should take other means and other methods of securing for our country these necessary articles. That school of thought thinks that, just as the State builds battleships, so it ought to make optical glasses, and that any item necessary for warfare, and which is essential to this country, should be produced by public instead of by private enterprise. We have two arguments for preferring that kind of policy.
In the first place, there is better security. Hon. Members below the Gangway would not, I think, say that even with unlimited protection that they can be certain that private enterprise will succeed in building up these industries successfully, let alone with the 33⅓ per cent., and with only five years to do it in! The time is limited, and the protection insufficient, and they cannot assure us that with higher tariffs we shall have the industries successfully established in this country. There is no security. On the other hand, in a Government undertaking there is absolute security. There is certainty, too. It may cost money, but there is a certainty that the goods will be delivered. That is one of our arguments. The second argument is, to my mind, even more important. It is that in this case the liability is unknown, and that it is absolutely certain in the case of Government manufacture. We shall vote year by year the necessary sums for providing these essential articles, and I think there will be fewer, much fewer, essential articles discovered when we are actually voting the money. We should know where we are. On the other hand, in the opposite policy we do not know in the least where we are. We are, however, quite certain of this: that the Government will not be the only purchaser of these articles made under protected conditions; it will be the whole of the consumers of the country who will 906 pay this protective price, and the cost to the whole of the country must in any case far exceed the cost of the Government manufacture of their special requirements. Armour-plates, for instance. What did we do with that? We paid enormous sums to the manufacturers of armour-plates. We made the fortune of Vickers, and John Brown, and Cammel's. We made their fortunes by paying them enormous prices to keep their key industry going. How much better had it been if the Government themselves had manufactured their armour-plate and had saved those vast sums squandered on these armament firms, who, of course, formed a ring as soon as the Government tried to ensure competition.
The whole object and the whole point of the argument from this side of the House is that where these key industries are really necessary they should be maintained by the Government, and that we should not introduce a system of taxing the whole community for the benefit of certain unspecified individuals. As for the question of the amount of 33⅓ per cent., I would point out that, beside the two entirely different schools of thought in this House to which I have referred, those who believe in high protective tariffs and those who believe that where manufacture is essential the Government should do the thing, there is the unfortunate Government which cannot make up its mind which school of thought is right. The Front Bench is hovering, but has compromised on the 33⅓ per cent., and has put forward no argument at all in favour of it: no proof that the 33⅓ per cent. will fulfil the wish of the hon. Member for Norwich or the wish of the hon. Member for Morley. 33⅓ per cent. has nothing to do with either. It is one of those beautiful compromises which does not satisfy any particular school of thought. Being, however, half-way it must be exactly right. The world is neither right nor wrong, but, according to the Government, half-way between the two. So we get this 33⅓ per cent., which ensures all the trouble of the Customs Houses and all the extra expense to the consumers of the country, but which does not look so very bad. It is not absolutely wrong to import all these articles, but at the same time there is a beautiful free hand left to the Board of Trade to make such variations as they think fit. Personally, I do not—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I must point out to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that he is going much too wide in his remarks. On the Report stage, we are strictly limited to each Amendment as it arises. The sole question before us at the moment is as to whether 10 per cent. or 33½ per cent. should be in the Resolution of the House.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Yes, I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, that I was led away by previous speakers to going outside the fair scope of the Amendment. But the whole point is that the Government have by a process of exhaustion and compromise arrived at 33⅓ per cent. I, while not caring for the 33⅓ per cent., prefer the 10 per cent. They are both thoroughly immoral. Both are based on no particular principle. But 10 is much easier to calculate, and involves considerably less tax on the rest of the community. If you must have a bad thing, at any rate, have as little of it as possible, and as this form, this method of securing key industries is in my opinion, and in the opinion, I think, of the Labour party, a thoroughly bad method of securing these key industries, certainly I should prefer to see this duty merely 10 per cent., instead of 33⅓ per cent.
In conclusion, may I say that I do think the Government Front Bench have hardly acted fairly in relation to this subject with this side of the House? We really in matters of this sort ought to have the Government view explained. We should have some statement as to why 33⅓ per cent.—This mystic number—most difficult to calculate—why it should be the exact figure selected by the Government. It is all very well for the Government to say that they have behind them the whole or most of this House of Commons, and that they can override any opposition. Of course they can, but it is not playing the game. Argument is expected by this House, in spite of the fact that the Federation of British Industries exists outside. We ought to have argument, as well as things said. I am sorry, deeply sorry for a good man struggling against adversity, like the President of the Board of Trade, who has got to support this measure in the House, although he does not like it. In spite of that, I think, he or his subordinates—one of whom was a Free Trader once—ought to get up and make a case for this 908 33⅓ per cent., as to which the whole House is at present in complete ignorance.
§ Mr. KILEY
In speaking on this subject and supporting the reduction of the 33⅓ per cent. to 10 per cent., I desire to associate myself with the remarks made by the hon. Member for Consent when he stated that he was fully prepared to support the Government in any action that was necessary to obtain the supplies of what was essential to the safety of the Empire. On that point there is, I think, no difference of opinion in any section of the House. There may be a doubt as to whether the list the Government now propose constitutes all that is necessary for the safety of the Empire. But we can arrive at that after careful investigation, and it may be that it will be found that many industries are left out. We found in this country a deficiency of what was essential. The Germans found themselves deficient in another way. The Germans suffered from the lack of rubber, wool, cotton, and other things. Therefore, if we want to be well equipped, we shall have to prepare a much more exhaustive list than the one before us. That being so, the question what we have to consider is: What is essential to achieve the object which the Government have in view—having these products of these certain industries available when the time arrives? I suggest that the 10 per cent. is sufficient for the purpose.
I have listened very carefully to get some enlightenment on the point put forward. Various statements have been made as to the profits accruing, and the condition of certain of these trades, as to whether or not they are equal to being self-supporting. I am not in a position to speak about every one of these industries, but certainly I have in mind many that were in existence long before the War. What I have in mind is that certain of these were self-supporting before the War, and during the War and at the present time they have added immensely to their resources, have paid huge dividends, and in many instances have paid large sums in Excess Profits Tax. These firms have come forward—or rather, I should say, the Government have gone to them, and desires to place at their disposal means to enable them further to increase their prices and profits by a figure of 33⅓ per cent. If the 909 Government were anxious, as I think they should be in this matter, and if they are going to give these firms the protection suggested, if the country is to be dependent upon them for what is essential, and the development of their industries is desirable, and the Government are aiding them, they should insist that a portion of their profits should be set aside for further scientific research. But there is nothing of the sort. It might be thought by some hon. Members that if you reduce the 22⅓ per cent. to 10 per cent. in certain industries that it would not be sufficient for the purpose we have in view. If that be so, is there any other way in which that difficulty could be met? I suggest there is—a very simple way.
We have heard this afternoon something about sugar. We were told that the Government, in order to develop the sugar industry in this country, have subscribed a very large sum of money—I think £250,000 to one company and more—in order to ensure the existence of that company for a number of years. They guarantee the payment of a dividend to anyone who puts money into that company. They have also appointed some of the directors. If it can be shown to this House that certain industries are essential for the safety of the Empire then it is the duty of the Government to take action accordingly. Let them take action by abolishing tariffs altogether. If they are not prepared to do so I would make the tariff as small as possible, 10 per cent. say. If in one or two trades or industries that is found not sufficient then I suggest that the Government should follow the example of their experiment in sugar, exercise the same control and take the same action to ensure that the objects they have in view are attained. Does the House realise what this 33⅓ per cent. really means? To give a practical illustration take a Kodak camera at something like 10 guineas. Probably the lens would be worth about one guinea. Upon what are you going to levy 33⅓ per cent? If it is imported at 10 guineas, is the 33⅓ to be levied on the 10 guineas or upon the value of the lens? That would represent with cumulative charges 50 per cent., and every user of a Kodak camera would have to pay 50 per cent. more for it. No doubt that would be so much better for the Kodak shareholders, but it would be no advantage to the user of the instrument in question. Those are some of the 910 reasons why I urge the House not to accept the figure, but to insist upon 10 per cent.
§ Rear-Admiral ADAIR
A number of references have been made in the course of this Debate to armour and battleships, and a suggestion has been that the manufacture of these things should be confined to the Government itself. May I point out that the progress made in armaments in the past has been due mainly to private firms, and if the matter had been left in the hands of the Government, God knows where we should have been. We hear that the manufacture of optical glass should be left to the Government, but did the German Government manufacture their optical glass? Not at all, it was done in Germany by the private individual. In the case of the battleships about 90 per cent. are built in private yards, and in most cases the Admiralty designers come from private firms. It is ridiculous to talk about leaving these things to the Government, and if we did we should have no advance whatever. Competition is the cause of progress, and if there is 33⅓ as compared with 10 per cent., the former may lead people to feel secure and to enter into competition, whereas 10 per cent. would be no inducement. New firms might take up the manufacture of optical glass with 33⅓, who would not take it up at all with 10 per cent. Many years ago Mr. Chamberlain, speaking at Glasgow, advocated a 10 per cent. tariff, but if he had foreseen what the Germans would do in 20 years, no doubt he would have advocated the 33⅓ per cent. we are advocating now.
§ Mr. LYLE-SAMUEL
We have just been told that it is competition which secures the best output in industrial life. Our case is that under this tariff manufacturers will be deprived of the incentive to competition. Which is the worst, to deprive a person of all real incentive by giving him a tariff, or handing over the manufacture of an article to a Government Department? What we on this side say is, that the loss of trade generally through this tariff is unknown in its amount, and the effect upon the community has yet to be proved. With reference to articles which are vital for the national welfare, 33⅓ may be too small, and some countries may demand 100 per cent. The argument about national safety has been introduced, and optical glass has 911 been mentioned. We are told that other articles may be included in a list which may be issued from time to time by the Board of Trade defining the articles falling under the Order, but what has that to do with national safety?
We will take any course the Government suggest which has been carefully and impartially considered which will provide for the safety of this country. It is not fair for us to be accused of being insincere in our view, because we are tied down on the hypothetical question of Free Trade. We will support any policy which will secure the manufacture within our own country of any article which is vital for the safety of the country. What we contend is that you will never do it by a tax. We know if these things are to be
§ produced it is a long process of technical education and large subsidies must be cheerfully granted. We are asked to impose a 33⅓ duty for the safety of the realm, but our complaint is that if we consent to this, what will happen is that the Free Trade basis of this country will have been departed from. In addition to this 33⅓ per cent. many of these articles may come under the class of articles which are being dumped and an extra percentage may be put upon them. This is a form of protection which will not stimulate manufactures and will not provide for the national safety. For these reasons I shall support this Amendment.
§ Question put, "That '33⅓' stand part of the said Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 244 Noes, 79.913
|Division No. 129.]||AYES.||[6.40 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Hills, Major John Waller|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Hood, Joseph|
|Armitage, Robert||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Howard, Major S. G.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Falcon, Captain Michael||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Fell, Sir Arthur||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||Fildes, Henry||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar (Banff)||FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Jesson, C.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Jodrell, Neville Paul|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Foreman, Sir Henry||Johnson, Sir Stanley|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Forestier-Walker, L.||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Forrest, Walter||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William|
|Bigland, Alfred||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Frece, Sir Walter de||Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Kidd, James|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Gardiner, James||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Gardner, Ernest||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Camb'dge)||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Gee, Captain Robert||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Gilbert, James Daniel||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Glyn, Major Ralph||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.|
|Briggs, Harold||Gould, James C.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)|
|Brown, T. W. (Down, North)||Green, Albert (Derby)||Lorden, John William|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Loseby, Captain C. E.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Greer, Harry||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Gregory, Holman||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Casey, T. W.||Gretton, Colonel John||Maddocks, Henry|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W).||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Matthews, David|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hallwood, Augustine||Meysey-Thompson, Lieut.-Col. E. C.|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Middlebrook, Sir William|
|Clough, Robert||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Mitchell, William Lane|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Morrison, Hugh||Reid, D. D.||Waddington, R.|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Remnant, Sir James||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Renwick, George||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Murchison, C. K.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Murray, William (Dumfries)||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Neal, Arthur||Rodger, A. K.||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Rothschild, Lionel de||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Parker, James||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Pearce, Sir William||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Seddon, J. A.||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Shaw, Capt. William T. (Forfar)||Wise, Frederick|
|Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray||Stanton, Charles Butt||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Pratt, John William||Starkey, Captain John Ralph||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Prescott, Major W. H.||Steel, Major S. Strang||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Sutherland, Sir William||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Purchase, H. G.||Taylor, J.|
|Rae, H. Norman||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Raeburn, Sir William H.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Raper, A. Baldwin||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)||McCurdy.|
|Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Myers, Thomas|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hartshorn, Vernon||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Hayday, Arthur||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Hayward, Evan||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Hirst, G. H.||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Holmes, J. Stanley||Spencer, George A.|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Spoor, B. G.|
|Briant, Frank||Irving, Dan||Swan, J. E.|
|Bromfield, William||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cairns, John||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Tootill, Robert|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Kennedy, Thomas||Wallace, J.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Waterson, A. E.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Kiley, James Daniel||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lunn, William||Wignall, James|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Wintringham, Thomas|
|Gillis, William||Mills, John Edmund||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. G. Thorne and Major Barnes.|
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The next Amendment in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen (Major M. Wood) and other hon. Members, to substitute the word "price" for "value," I must rule out of order, as it might involve an additional charge.
I beg to move to leave out paragraph (a).
This paragraph refers to optical glasses. We discussed this thing in Committee and I have had several communications from people interested in these articles which show there is ample evidence of a growing opposition to the imposition of a tax upon these very 914 necessary items in the scientific world. I admit there is no great demonstration against the tariff amongst people engaged in scientific work, but it must be remembered that their eyes are always glued to the microscope, the spectroscope or some other scientific instrument for research purposes, and they do not realise what is going on in this House until they go to an optician's shop to buy one of these articles, and then find that the price has doubled because of legislation. No case has been made out for including the optical glass industry among the key industries of this country. It has been suggested that, as a result of the position which obtained at the beginning of the 915 War, the Government feel they ought not to run any risk of a similar position arising when the next war comes, and they, are therefore putting this 33⅓ per cent. on almost every kind of optical glass in order to ensure that when the next war does come they may not be again taken by surprise. Far too much is being made of the difficulties of this country at the beginning of the War with regard to optical glasses, and I really do not think that a case has been made out for this imposition.
I propose to quote a greater authority than myself. An hon. Member below the Gangway who spoke just now gave us his experiences with regard to optical glasses at the beginning of the War. I hold in my hand a book called the "Dictionary of British Scientific Instruments," issued by the British Optical Instrument Manufacturers' Association, and I think that that is the highest authority one can appeal to as to what was the condition of that industry at the beginning of the War. We admit that it was undeveloped, but the potentialities for great development were there, and were speedily realised when the call came. Let me quote an extract from this book. I would like to draw the attention of the President of the Board of Trade to this authoritative statement. I may say I read a review of this book in a scientific journal the other day, and got a copy of it, in order to see what the enemy said, but I found it was not an enemy at all. This is what the British Optical Instrument Manufacturers' Association said with regard to optical glasses:The enormous demand for military instruments fostered the industry in the past in those countries which possessed large standing armies. It is therefore not surprising that the great establishments for making optical instruments found in continental Europe do not exist in this country. The advent of war, however, found the optical industry of Great Britain in such a healthy state of activity that, within a short space of time, it increased to the necessary extent to equip a new army of 5,000,000 men, and supplied many millions pounds worth per annum of the highest grade instruments. It may be safely asserted that in no direction has the creation of the Army been hindered by a lack of the best optical instruments.7.0 P.M.
That is an authoritative statement from the manufacturers of optical instruments. Yet we are told it is a dying industry! A great many optical inventions were 916 produced during the War, and the development of the industry has been in accord with the best traditions of the past. Why, then, should it require an artificial stimulant in order to keep it alive? I think it is absolutely conclusive that it is not necessary to set up an artificial tariff, or an artificial protection of this sort, in order, not only to keep the industry alive, but to keep it in such a state of preparedness that if the call should ever come, which God forbid, this industry will be, at that date, capable of full development, with the financial assistance it will have from the Government and the great research laboratories which have been brought into being by the Government. This optical industry does not require one iota of this sort of assistance which the Government propose to give it. If it was prepared to develop so suddenly and so effectively at the beginning of the Great War, when there was only one splendid patriotic firm engaged in it, is it not assured that, after all the assistance which the Government has given it, and the fact that we can now make in this country optical instruments as good as are produced in any part of the world—if a war does ever come again—and I should prefer to see the Government preparing for peace rather than for war—the industry will logically be in a position twenty times better prepared than it was at the beginning of the last War, when it proved able to answer every call. That, I think, authoritatively disposes of the fundamental case of the Government for including these articles in their Key Industries Bill. The case which the Government has made has been disposed of effectively by the authoritative statement of the manufacturers themselves as to what they were able to do during the War, and in passing I would like to observe that those manufacturers deserve well of this country for all that they accomplished, I have no doubt that a good many of the millions mentioned in that book as having been spent upon these optical instruments during the War have been preserved and have gone into the development of the industry and towards making it better prepared than ever before. Therefore the fundamental case of the Government for optical instruments goes by the board. Coming to details, even 917 if we assume that protection of this sort is necessary why, in all the universe, should the Government have pounced, in the first place, upon these scientific instruments, which, above all others, are necessary for scientific purposes? The Germans were wiser than our Government. We hear a lot of talk about what the Germans did for optical glasses before the War. Of course, they stored them up. It has not been stated from the Government Bench, but there has been a sort of general idea that the Germans, for example, had a tariff on microscopes. Nothing of the kind. They had no tariff on microscopes. So we cannot get a lesson from the Germans in that respect. I think, also, that this is a Philistine tax; it is a tax on scientific progress. I can imagine that some uneducated man who, by a rule-of-thumb method had got on in commerce and had made a big pile of money, not caring for scientific progress at all, but the Government are rather supposed to be possessed of all the talents, and many of their members have a great reputation for interest in scientific progress and education. In the very first paragraph of their Resolutions they bring under the paralysing effect of Protection an industry of this sort. Thus they make it very difficult for the people engaged in scientific research to pursue their studies, which is a Philistine attitude and one which the House should not encourage.
After all, men and women who are engaged in scientific research are not millionaires. As a rule, they are very poor people money is not their object, and the facilities for scientific research are much more widespread than they were 20 years ago. When I was at college a very small proportion of the students could afford a microscope, and perhaps it was not then so necessary. To-day, however, every student wants his microscope, and if he is going to have to pay £30 or £40 for one to-day, as against £13 or £14 pre-War price, how is the ordinary student to obtain his miscroscope? One of the great hopes of scientific and medical progress in this country is the widespread diffusion of effort of this sort. Many more people now, in their private homes, engage in scientific research than ever before. Many medical men have private bacteriological laboratories, small ones, no doubt, in their houses. It is from widespread 918 investigations of this sort that we can expect further progress in this direction in the future.
In this paragraph "optical elements whether finished or not" are mentioned, that is to say, raw material. In the optical trade, as in every other trade, every man who makes an optical instrument does not always himself manufacture every item in that instrument. He may get lenses or some other item from other people. This paragraph prevents that assembling of parts, so to speak, which many manufacturers in this country engage in. Therefore, in this way, the Government are helping not to increase employment but to reduce employment. I admit that sometimes raw material is difficult to define. In the higher walks of political life you find that. The other day I noticed that a certain statesman, a distinguished figure, claimed that another distinguished statesman had been converted and had become a member of his party. Ever since that statement was made the question has been discussed in the papers whether this distinguished statesman is a raw recruit or the finished article. That has not been decided yet. There is a difficulty sometimes in deciding what the finished article is. This paragraph (a) hits raw material, and in that way the Government are helping to decrease employment in this particular industry. As I said before, I believe in the first place that protection of this particular kind is not needed for this industry. If the manufacturers were able to make these things at the beginning of the War they will be able to do it better in the years to come.
The effect of this paragraph will be to retard medical metallurgical progress, and it will act as a brake upon almost all scientific progress in this country. Nearly every optical instrument will be taxed in such a way as to make it almost impossible for the ordinary man to get any of them. The fact of the matter is that in taxing the people who use these instruments the Government are really paying a tribute to Mars, the God of War. Take the tax on telescopes. The only thing the Government can see with the telescope is the planet Mars, the God of War. I believe the present Chancellor of the Exchequer is responsible for these things. There are other planets in the sky as well as the planet Mars. There is, for instance, the 919 planet Venus. If Venus has no attraction for the Chancellor of the Exchequer and those who assist him, that is no reason why they should act as dogs in the manger and prevent us from looking at Venus. According to the Government, every time you look at Venus you must pay a tax to Mars. I do not think the Government have been able to make out a case for a tax on these instruments, and I therefore move the deletion of the paragraph.
§ Mr. KILEY
I beg to second the Amendment. I would like to compliment my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Dr. Murray) upon his very useful contribution to the Debate, which has been set off by his reference to that very wonderful book whose contents should not be questioned in any way. That book is issued by the British Optical Instrument Manufacturers' Association. It will interest the House to know that in regard to optical glassThe manufacture is of great nicety and difficulty, demanding the utmost care and patience. It was first undertaken in England some 70 years ago by Messrs. Chance Brothers and Company, of Birmingham, and until quite recently it has remained in their hands alone in the United Kingdom.It will also interest the House to know where Germany has obtained its glass. It obtained those glasses which were required from Messrs. Chance, of Birmingham. It was only when Messrs. Chance, of Birmingham, refused to make for them a certain variation which they required in a lens that the Germans were induced themselves to start their own work. Since that time they have progressed, possibly, at a far greater rate than we have done in this country. From the comments of some speakers one would infer that the glass industry did not exist in this country. If any hon. Member has any doubt he should go to the district of Stourbridge, between Birmingham and Wolverhampton, and see the great industries for the turning out of glass that have existed there for years and years. That is only one district; there are many others. During the War they had a great opportunity, of which, I am glad to say, they made full use. I do not wish the House to imagine that Germany is the only place where they make lenses. France is an enormous producer of lenses, and so is America. The other day I put this ques- 920 tion to one of the largest glass manufacturers in this country. "Did we suffer very much during the War in the matter of glass and glass lenses?" He said, "Not very much. The Government, of course, were hampered, like every Government was hampered; but the Government authorised a number of us to go on the Continent. We went on the Continent, and we obtained for the Government what they stated they needed." That is of interest to hear. One does not question the fact whatever that there must have been considerable difficulty, or that we were not able, at any time, in regard to any commodity, to produce the enormous quantities which we wanted at any given moment. We were, however, able to get through and to win the War, while the country which had all this glass at first did not succeed. Therefore, we were not in that frightful position such as certain speeches we have heard would have led us to suppose.
I want to put forward one or two objections to this paragraph. What does "optical elements" mean? I take it that the Minister in charge will tell me if I am wrong. Does it mean that if any person imports into this country the frame of a pair of spectacles that that frame is an optical element? If so, has a duty to be paid on the frame, or on anything to which a lens can be attached?
§ Mr. KILEY
I am very glad to have an assurance from the Minister that that is not so. When he comes to reply I hope he will indicate what "optical elements" consists of, because many of us will be relieved to hear that it is not intended to bring spectacle frames and other articles under the paragraph. The paragraph mentions "spectroscopes and other optical instruments." There is the case of kindergarten toys and toy kaleidoscope. Will a toy kaleidoscope and a toy magic lantern be included? The Board of Trade is taking very great powers, and there should be some definition or limitation of those powers. There is one other matter on which I think we might usefully get some information, namely, as to the immediate necessity of putting a duty upon opera glasses. These are fancy articles, and I am told that 90 per cent. of those imported into 921 this country are produced in France. They are produced in France on account of the fancy-work with which they are decorated. To my mind, there is no justification for this paragraph being allowed to remain.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
The hon. Member who moved this Amendment will not be surprised if I repeat to some extent the reply which I gave to him when this paragraph was discussed in Committee a few days ago, because on that occasion he made a very complete speech, almost identically the same as that which he has now made, although he has varied it by an interesting reference to astronomical instruments. The whole object of protecting optical glass and optical instruments has its foundation in the experience which we had during the War. The hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Kiley) said, "After all, we may have been rather short of these things, but we won the War and Germany did not." That really is an astounding conclusion at which to arrive. Are we to draw the conclusion that, because we were fortunate enough to win the War, we are to neglect every lesson it has taught us, and be as unprepared for the next war as we were for the last? I would appeal to the practical experience of every man in this House who served in the War. The one thing that was holding us up at the beginning was the lack of optical glass and optical instruments — periscopes, sights for guns, and so on. How many men in the early days of the War were shot at their observation posts because they had not adequate optical instruments? The manufacturers certainly did well in the end, but they did well because we set them all to work. We were only producing at the beginning a few hundred pounds of optical glass a month, but at the end we were producing it in large quantities, and it was absolutely the key to the work of every section of our forces, from the infantryman in the trench back to the gunners. In the air you depend entirely upon your optical instruments. Without these lenses you cannot obtain your photographs, and you could not have fought a single ship at sea or a submarine under the sea without these optical elements. I do not think that the House is going to throw aside that experience.
922 It is no good saying that we will have just the things which we want in a war. Either you must have an optical glass industry, and a scientific instrument industry which is built up upon it, in its peace condition, complete as an industry, or you will have no opportunity of having it for war purposes. It may be asked why a microscope is protected. I can give a sufficient answer to that, for the very time when a microscope is needed is in war time, with its necessity, for instance, for bacteriological research in every hospital. If you do not safeguard these peace products, your industry will go, and you will not be able to rely upon it for the war products which you may need. It is essential that such an industry as this should be maintained from the stage of the manufacture of the optical glass right through to the finished product. If there is one gap the industry will be lost altogether. The specific point of optical elements was put to me by the hon. Member for Whitechapel, who appeared to be under the impression that optical elements meant things like spectacle frames. That is not the meaning of the term "optical elements." It is a term which, I understand, is well known to those who deal in scientific ware of this kind. The optical element is made either from glass or from mineral substances like Iceland spar, and is so finished as to give a critically clear optical image. With regard to another point raised by the hon. Member the optical instruments referred to do not include toys, but are the products of the scientific instrument maker, and are scientific optical instruments such as are used for optical work. The hon. Member's final point was in regard to French opera glasses, and he asked whether they have any bearing upon war. They have every bearing upon war. Again I would remind hon. Members of the position in which we were placed because we had no peace production of binoculars. We were without the possibility of manufacturing binoculars, which were needed by every man in our Forces, and it will be within the recollection of the House how we had to scour all the countries to which we could get access in order to get binoculars in the early stages of the War. The House will also remember the appeal made by Lady Roberts to every private house and to every man and woman who possessed anything in the 923 nature of binoculars or opera glasses, in order that she might transmit them to the Forces during the intermediate period before they could be manufactured here. If anyone will consult the memory of those who served in those early days, and who had experience on land, in the air, or at sea, he will find in that experience not only a justification but a compelling necessity to give this industry that protection which is necessary for it in the future.
The way in which the Parliamentary Secretary misses the whole point of the objection to this paragraph is perfectly amazing. He has been arguing for the last five or six minutes as if what had to be done here was to create this industry. One would imagine that there was no one in this country who was able at the present time to provide an adequate supply of optical glass for peace requirements. Of course, the position is entirely the opposite. The problem is not at all the creation of the industry. If there be a problem, it is the problem of its maintenance, not its creation. I have here an authoritative statement published in a series of articles in the "Daily Telegraph," in which reference is made to the principal firm of optical glass manufacturers in this country—Messrs. Chance Brothers. It says that:Before four years and four months of war had drawn out to a close, Messrs. Chance Brothers were manufacturing at Smethwick, in one year, optical glass sufficient to meet three years of the whole world's peace demands.That is the position of the optical glass industry in this country. We have one works in this country able to turn out in one year sufficient glass to supply the whole requirements of the world.
That interruption is a remarkable evidence of the way in which this House is treated. We should never have got that if I had not made that statement.
The hon. Member says that it is common knowledge. We have learned it within the last day or two, but it is information that has not been placed 924 before the House. Here is an industry capable of turning out an enormous production. The problem is to maintain it, and the question before the House is really whether a duty of 33⅓ per cent. on optical glass is going to maintain the industry. It is put forward as being based on research by the Government into the requirements of this industry, but we say on this side of the House that 33⅓ per cent. on all scientific instruments is going to impose a general burden upon research and upon education, and is not going to effect the object which the Government has in view. We are supported in that conclusion by these very people—the British Optical Instrument Manufacturers' Association. They may be presumed to know what their requirements are, and what they really need to assist them, and they say that this 33⅓ per cent. is absolutely of no use to them at all. What they want is thatNo optical glass or scientific instruments should be imported into this country for a period of, say, seven years, except under licence. Such licence only to be granted in respect of goods which are not being made in Great Britain in the required quantities or sold at reasonable rates.Really, the problem before the House and the country is that of finding some way of maintaining this industry, which it is agreed is vital for the purposes of war. We submit that the Government are going entirely the wrong way to work. To impose a general tariff of this kind is no way of securing this industry. You have here an industry which might be helped in a direct fashion at a cost which would be perfectly plain and completely known at any time. You have one works here which is capable of supplying the whole requirements of the country. It is a vital works, and from this point of view may be looked upon as an armament works. The proper course is that which was followed in Germany, and which these people themselves stress. Here is a vital works, an armament works, which cannot exist without some help. Give them a subsidy. Let us have a plain figure, so that we may know what the cost is, and can look into it at any time to see that it is being properly used. That is our view on this side of the House. It is idle for the Parliamentary Secretary to endeavour to create the impression here that an industry has to be created, and that it can be created by the imposition of a 33⅓ per cent. tariff.
§ Sir W. PEARCE
In including optical and chemical glass, the Government are only following the recommendation of the Committee on Commercial and Industrial Policy. This is what the Committee said:Prior to the War, this country was virtually dependent upon Germany for these essential articles … The main lines of action have been the making of agreements by the Ministry of Munitions and, where necessary, by the War Office, Admiralty and Ministry of Munitions jointly, with selected firms, under which, in return for Government, financial and other assistance, they have created plant to produce a required output. …The Government had to make special grants to get the works established. The Committee go on to say:In order that the industries may have time and opportunity to adapt their organisation to peace conditions and to train an adequate supply of skilled workers, very special measures of protection against foreign competition will be required at the outset in view of the great strength and reputation of German firms.This is not a question of Free Trade and Protection. A special Committee was appointed by the last Government to consider the whole of this question. It was a non-partisan Committee, and they issued this Report with regard to essential industries, that they ought to be assisted and sustained and protected by the Government in some form or other, or they would be wiped out by German competition. I think the Government two years ago, when the present Coalition was formed, declared that it was their intention to carry out these recommendations. It seems to me that in putting these objects in the Schedule they are simply doing what was their duty, and a Committee was appointed to examine carefully what articles required to receive Government assistance for the period directly after the War. Chemical and optical glass was included, reasons were
§ given for including it, and most careful examination was made, and I think the Government would have failed in their duty in introducing any measure of this sort for protecting essential industries if they had not included chemical and optical glass. It was accepted by everyone at the time that this industry required some special care. The recommendations were universally accepted. Members of every class and opinion were represented on the Committee—Free Traders, Protectionists and representatives of the working classes—and the Report was absolutely unanimous.
§ Major HAYWARD
The hon. Gentleman (Sir P. Lloyd-Greame) laid emphasis on what he called the experience of the War. The greater part of his speech consisted in detailing the difficulties in which we found ourselves at the beginning of the War owing to our deficiency in the means of producing optical and other scientific instruments. He presented the problem we have to deal with, and on no occasion from the Front Bench have we had anything further than the presentation of the problem, and we are left to assume that the means of solving the problem by this Bill will be efficient. The Government have never yet told us that they have applied their minds to the solving of this problem and after careful consideration and consultation with experts have come to the conclusion that this is the best method of dealing with it. We have never been told even that they themselves expect the methods they propose to apply to be successful. For that reason I hope we shall divide and that we shall at least get this paragraph deleted from the Bill.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the said Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 209 Noes, 70.927
|Division No. 130.]||AYES.||[7.35 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Blades, Sir George Rowland||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)|
|Armitage, Robert||Blair, Sir Reginald||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Borwick, Major G. O.||Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Clough, Robert|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Brassey, H. L. C.||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Breese, Major Charles E.||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Cohen, Major J. Brunel|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||Briggs, Harold||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Broad, Thomas Tucker||Conway, Sir W. Martin|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Carew, Charles Robert S.||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Casey, T. W.||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Cautley, Henry Strother||Dockrell, Sir Maurice|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring|
|Edwards, Allen C. (East Ham, S.)||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Rodger, A. K.|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund.|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)|
|Fildes, Henry||Kidd, James||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Forrest, Walter||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Shaw, Capt. William T. (Forfar)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Lindsay, William Arthur||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Gardiner, James||Lorden, John William||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)|
|Gardner, Ernest||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Gee, Captain Robert||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Starkey, Captain John Ralph|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Macquisten, F. A.||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Maddocks, Henry||Stevens, Marshall|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Gould, James C.||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Taylor, J.|
|Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Middlebrook, Sir William||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Green, Albert (Derby)||Mitchell, William Lane||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Greer, Harry||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Gregory, Holman||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Waddington, R.|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Morrison, Hugh||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Murchison, C. K.||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Neal, Arthur||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Parker, James||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Pearce, Sir William||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Perkins, Walter Frank||Wise, Frederick|
|Hood, Joseph||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Pratt, John William||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Prescott, Major W. H.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Howard, Major S. G.||Purchase, H. G.||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Rae, H. Norman||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Raper, A. Baldwin||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Reid, D. D.||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Remnant, Sir James|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Renwick, George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Jodrell, Neville Paul||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Johnson, Sir Stanley||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||McCurdy.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Grundy, T. W.||Myers, Thomas|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||O'Grady, James|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Hartshorn, Vernon||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Hayday, Arthur||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hayward, Evan||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Spencer, George A.|
|Briant, Frank||Hirst, G. H.||Swan, J. E.|
|Bromfield, William||Holmes, J. Stanley||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Cairns, John||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cape, Thomas||Irving, Dan||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Tootill, Robert|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Kennedy, Thomas||Wignall, James|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Kenyon, Barnet||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Kiley, James Daniel||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Edwards, C (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lunn, William||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Wintringham, Thomas|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Gillis, William||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Mills, John Edmund|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Morgan, Major D. Watts||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. G. Thorne and Dr. Murray.|
§ Mr. NEWBOULD
I beg to move, to leave out paragraph (f).
928 This paragraph deals entirely and exclusively with arc lamp carbons. There 929 is only one maker of arc lamp carbons in this country, and it is only a very subsidiary side of their business. The company is the General Electric Company, which deals in the manufacture of many other articles. It is quite true that during the War they developed this side of their business at the request of the Government, and I think it is quite obvious that the Government is under some obligation to them on that account. I earnestly hope they will keep that obligation, though not in the form proposed in this Resolution. If there is only one firm making these arc lamp carbons there are three general bodies of users. There are the municipalities, which use them for street lighting, there is the photographic industry, which uses them extensively, and there is the cinema industry, which uses them in projectors and studios. I propose to give the views of these three types of users in regard to this proposal. I have a number of letters from the various users. The first is from the Westminster Engineering Company, perhaps the principal manufacturers in this country of arc lamps. They say:We are large users of carbons for arc lamps and our 'Westminster' lamps are used throughout the world for photo-printing, etc. We sincerely trust that there will be no restriction on the importation of carbons, as it is quite impossible to secure satisfactory supplies in this country, especially for our 125 and 126 pattern projection lamps. For the former we use 5 millimetre diameter carbons, and order 30,000 at a time; this quantity now being on order from America.Then we come to the really important point. They say:The General Electric Company, after repeated efforts to make these during the War, stated definitely that they could not continue to supply owing to technical difficulties.I believe there is an exceptional reason why this should be left out. The only makers of these carbons in this country say that for technical reasons they are unable to supply the orders received. The Westminster Engineering Company go on to say:We found that with the English carbons there was more smoke and the arc travelled along the surface causing serious trouble, also that they were not very accurate in dimensions and rough on the surface. We also have considerable trouble with the larger carbons. … We are asked over and over again by our customers for the American carbons. We exceedingly regret 930 having to make the above statement as we should certainly prefer to order in this country, but for various reasons it does not seem possible to compete with the Americans. Before the War the German carbons were even better. To restrict the importation, therefore, would unnecessarily interfere with the proper working and efficiency of our lamps, many thousands of which are now in use in this country alone. We have no objection to our name being mentioned in connection with the above matter.I come to the photo printers. Here is a letter from one of the principal firms, who were printers to the Government during the War, and, so far as I know, are still printers to the Government. They say:We are whole-hearted supporters of national industries and always regret to find that any article which can be made in this country is being purchased from abroad. There are, however, cases in which it is impossible to procure the necessary support to turn out the article required, and the production of photographic carbon is an instance in point. We have used every endeavour to secure a satisfactory photographic carbon from manufacturers in this country, but in all cases the foreign carbon, especially that made in Germany, has given the best results. The next in quality is the American. Even under a heavy duty, we still think it would be advantageous and economical for users of photographic lamps to buy the foreign carbon.If that is true, the object of the 33⅓ per cent. duty will fail, because it will not supply the Government at the time of the next war with the article they want. On the showing of these people, it will still be cheaper to buy the foreign carbon even at the enhanced price. I shall be glad to hand the correspondence over to the Minister in charge of the Bill, so that he may see the bona fides, because I am not proposing to mention all the names of the firms who have written to me in confidence. Another firm of arc lamp manufacturers writes:We have found the quality of English-made carbons is in no way equal to that obtained from Germany, Austria and the United States. We have not, since the commencement of the War, purchased any supplies of carbons from Germany or Austria. We were compelled by the special Government Committees to purchase quantities of British-made carbons during the War, when the import restrictions were in force, but we had much trouble with these due to the inferior quality. It is a matter of common knowledge in the trade that the business in arc lamps is rapidly decreasing, largely caused by the higher prices and the comparatively poor quality of the bulk of the carbons now available. The so-called English arc-lamp carbon industry is entirely in the hands of one firm. We feel that any 931 import duties on American carbons will result in the total extinction of the remaining arc-lamp business, as the addition of a high duty to the present heavy cost of freight from America, will probably establish a virtual monopoly of the arc-lamp carbon trade in the hands of the one English firm.Therefore, you are destroying a very valuable industry in this country, the manufacture of arc lamps, in order to protect arc lamp carbons, which you may want at some future time, but which you will not get, because this tariff will not be sufficient to keep out the foreign carbons, and when the next war comes, if it ever does come, you will be relying on an inferior article supplied in the home country. I have several letters from similar firms of arc lamp manufacturers. Here is a letter from the City of London Electric Lighting Company. They say:We cannot believe that those responsible for this measure are aware of the difficulties in carrying out arc lighting with English carbons. We fear, therefore, that the proposed tax will be an additional burden, and add even one more obstacle to the cheapening of electric supply for arc-lighting purposes.The city electrical engineer of one of our great cities says:British consumers' interests will be very adversely affected if we are not able to get German carbons. British makers cannot make these carbons satisfactorily, as we have found by our own experience. If they could make them, then the question would assume a different aspect; but it seems very inequitable that arc-lamp carbon users should be taxed in order to support manufacturers who are not competent to manufacture. This would simply mean a perpetuation of unsatisfactory material.One of the greatest city corporations in this country sends a letter stating:It would mean an additional cost to the Department of £1,385 per annum, which, of course, would fall on the ratepayers. A further increase in the cost of the carbons would accelerate the rate at which arc lamps would be replaced by gas-filled lamps, with a consequent falling off in the demand for arc-lamp carbons.The only firm who make these carbons in this country are interested much more largely in a different form of street lighting, and if they got a monopoly in the manufacture of carbons, they might endeavour to destroy forms of street lighting that require these carbons so that they might supply a lamp of a different form of lighting which they manufacture. I submit that it is an 932 impossible position in which to place the ratepayers in our municipalities and in which to place the manufacturing community of this country, that they should be in the hands of one firm who are interested in manufacturing another article, which is competitive, and it might be in their interests to put the arc lamp out of business altogether. What is all this for? It is because the Government require these carbons for searchlights. Surely, if they require carbons for searchlights they should set up their own factory and manufacture the carbons, and they should take jolly good care that they have the finest carbon in the world. They should not be satisfied with the inferior article which I contend I have proved they are now getting, and which they will get when they require these articles in large quantities should another war unfortunately occur. The engineer of another great city corporation writes:We use carbons of foreign manufacture entirely, and, therefore, the proposed 33⅓ per cent. duty will have an injurious effect on that portion of our industry relating to electric, street lighting.These are corporations who have to consider the cost of lighting the streets in the interests of the ratepayers. Here is another letter from a big firm, who are on the list of Government contractors:As large users of carbons we are entirely averse to any legislation which would tend to place the whole of the carbon production in the hands of practically one maker in this country. Such procedure is obviously to the disadvantage of the consumer. We have over 120 branches in the United Kingdom in practically all of which arc lamps are used, and we are perfectly satisfied with the quality of the imported carbons.I do not need to read any more letters, although I have a very large budget. I have said nothing about the particular industry of which I know something, and that is the cinema industry. We use these carbons in projection. We may not be concerned particularly about the price. It is not so much the price, although that is very considerable. It would cost the industry a very large sum of money, I think £70,000 a year, if this duty goes on. That would be the increased cost if we have to buy other carbons. The main thing is that we must have the finest carbons. I could tell the difference between a British and an American carbon when burning, even with my eyes shut. I 933 could tell the British carbon by the noise it makes. When the British carbon is burning there is a fizzing and spluttering noise going on the whole of the time, which is very injurious and also annoying to the audience who are trying to watch the pictures. Anybody who is an expert in these matters can tell the difference between a British and a foreign carbon with his eyes closed, merely by the noise. Then, again, we get a much more powerful and more even, whiter, purer light from the foreign carbon than we do from the British carbon.
We all agree that the carbons are essential to the country in time of war. If the Government want things that are required, as they are undoubtedly required for searchlights, it is essential that they should have the best. I say quite emphatically that I am perfectly certain that by this 33⅓ per cent. duty on foreign carbons the Government will find when the next war comes that they are in an infinitely worse position than they are to-day, because they will have been subsidising a firm which is going to supply them permanently with an inferior article. I cannot for the life of me see where the incentive will be to improve the quality of the article. So independent are this firm in regard to the quality of their article that, when asked if they would send a representative to show a certain user how to burn their carbon satisfactorily, they said it was not worth their while, that it was only a subsidiary side of their business, and they are not interested in proving the quality of these carbons. This duty is merely going to make it much more expensive. It is going, probably, to interfere tremendously with the manufacturer of arc-lamps. It is going to induce many municipalities to substitute other forms of street-lighting for arc-lamp lighting, and by this asburd, expensive, tortuous method the Government are pursuing, they are upsetting a number of industries, about which they do not care and about which they know nothing. It would be an inexpensive thing for the Government to make its own carbons. My own firm employs the same man who advised the Government about carbons for their searchlights during the War. Why do they not employ that man and employ others to undertake research work to improve the carbons and 934 then set up the manufacture of their own carbons? I guarantee that would have a satisfactory and an adequate supply without tampering with things they do not understand at all.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted; and 40 Members being present—
§ Mr. KILEY
I beg to second the Amendment.
The very interesting speech to which we have just listened shows, I think, very clearly what little thought the Government have given to many of the commodities which they have included in the Resolution. The hon. Member for Limehouse (Sir W. Pearce) laid great stress upon the commodities which we were then discussing as having been placed among the key industries after careful consideration by a Committee, of which, I think, Lord Balfour was chairman, and the hon. Member for Limehouse a member. But it will interest the House to know that that does not apply to the subject we are now discussing. This was not included or recommended to be included by that Committee, but it has received some backing from some quarter, and it has managed to get into the list. It would be interesting to ascertain for what reason it has been put in the list. Is it because it is a commodity which is so essential that the Government cannot manage to go into another war without a supply? If so, in view of the very limited quantity of this commodity they would require, is there any serious obstacle to their doing what they should do for the purpose of carrying on war successfully, and that is to obtain a quantity of the finest article they can get for that purpose and store it, if necessary? But in this case they are not doing anything of the kind. We are told there is only one firm in this country who are manufacturing this article. This one firm, so we are advised, are making an article of such a character that it is far inferior to what can be imported, and, so far as one can understand, they are making very little serious effort to improve the quality of the article.
We have been advised it is not a question of price, because the articles imported from America and Germany in competition actually cost a good deal more than the price charged by this firm, which has a monopoly in this country. 935 If that is the case, what has happened in the past to prevent this English firm improving the quality and turning out an article as good as their competitors? If it is a question of their wanting additional plant or additional assistance, I again commend to the Minister in charge that he should adopt the principle adopted in certain other cases, and make use of one of the many funds they have got at their disposal for scientific research or development, or out of funds used for investment. If they add one more to the list of articles in which they have invested, it is a matter of comparatively small detail. If this is so essential, why should this country have to put up with the worst article that can be produced? Case after case has been recited by my hon. Friend of manufacturers who find it necessary in their work to have the best article. He has told us how they have been hampered by having to have this inferior article, and yet, under the proposal which the Government now ask us to pass, they intend to bolster up one firm only, and they intend to put to the utmost inconvenience all the users of these carbons, and place them at a very serious disadvantage, in order to advance the interest of this one combine, about whose interest they seem to be so much concerned. That, I suggest, is quite the wrong way to go about the thing. If they are really interested in this article, there are numerous ways in which they can proceed to attain their object, but to inflict, as they propose, an injury on all users for that purpose, is, in my judgment, unwise.
§ Captain W. BENN
I am not surprised at the hesitation of the hon. Member representing the Government in rising to reply, but I was rather anxious to hear what the defence was going to be. I have no doubt the general defence will be the usual one, when the Leader of the House will appear and move, "That the Question be now put." The Government have taxed spectacles, and now they are taxing light. It is their way of making this country the most scientific and up-to-date for war. It is a tax on the taxpayer. These carbons are used in lighting our streets, and the result of this duty will be that the heavy burden already on ratepayers will be still bigger, because they cannot use these English carbons. The engineers of three of the biggest cities in 936 the United Kingdom—Manchester, Glasgow, and Dublin—have declared that they depend on the imported carbons, and that they cannot use the English manufactured carbons. Therefore, the Government, in order to get searchlight carbons, which are necessary, and of which they should have a supply in case of war, propose to put a tax on the lighting of streets. Then they propose to put a tax on photographs, which is another way of promoting scientific research in this country. There is hardly a thing used in scientific research which is not included in the Resolution. That is the Government's conception of how to make ours the best-equipped country in the world. I presume the hon. Gentleman has some defence to offer. I do not know what the defence will be. It could not be more charming, but I hope it will be rather more cogent than the arguments the hon. Gentleman has put forward in defence of the other articles.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
The reason I did not rise before was that I thought my hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Benn) was going to rise to contribute arguments of even greater force, which I should be left to answer, but that is not the case. The hon. Members who moved and seconded this Amendment are under a complete delusion as to the reason carbons are included. It is not in the least because it is desired, on the part of the Government, to bolster up any particular firm. The suggestion that we were promoting the interests of a particular firm, which was interested in a lamp which was likely to be successful in street lighting, can be disposed of in a single moment. If we wanted to bolster up the interests of the particular firm we could have included the form of light in which it is interested, namely, the half-watt lamp, as has been suggested in some quarters of the House as one of the industries to be protected, and which had some claim to be protected. But that is not included in the proposal. The object of protecting arc-lamp carbons is perfectly simple, as we cannot have searchlights without them.
§ Mr. NEWBOULD
I am sure the hon. Gentleman does not want to misrepresent me. I never suggested they desired to bolster up a firm. I said that would be a consequence of their action.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
I quite accept that, but I think the hon. Member for Whitechapel carried that a little carried that a little further.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
I think the hon. Member is hardly accurate. If we wished to give them a monopoly, we should have given them protection for the half-watt lamp. But that is not protected. As a matter of fact, the half-watt lamp will almost certainly supersede the arc-lamp for street lighting. I understand it is more economical and much more efficient than the arc lamp, from whatever source you get it. Therefore, if that is true, it is certainly superseding them all over the country, and it is inaccurate to say that ratepayers will be ruined, because, in the ordinary course, municipalities, no doubt, will adopt the half-watt lamp instead of the arc-lamp.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
We are acting on the ground that these carbons are necessary for searchlights. We cannot put a store of them aside for obvious reasons, which my hon. and gallant Friend knows. During the War new improvements in searchlights were coming on, new and improved forms of carbons were required, and we were making them. The Admiralty are generally an extremely critical body. They often look askance at what satisfies the commercial community, and when one finds the Board of Admiralty enthusiastic about the arc light carbons which are produced for searchlights, I am sceptical as to whether the carbons in use in street lighting and for cinematograph purposes are quite as inferior as the hon. Member who moves this Amendment suggests. With regard to cinematographs, I understand that there are at present in use in cinema theatres considerably more British carbons than foreign carbons.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
It may not be so in the hon. Member's firm, but we 938 must not confine ourselves to one aspect, however attractive, nor do I think that ratepayers would be misled by the arguments adduced. In any case, the half-wat lamp will probably supersede the arc lamp carbon, but if it does not, I wonder whether the ratepayers would rather pay the proposed duty, with the small cost which it involves, on the carbons used in arc lamp lighting in the streets or be told that we were to be powerless against hostile aircraft because there were no searchlights available.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
Yes, I will guarantee results in a satisfactory searchlight such as was produced throughout the War. Everybody who knew the use of our searchlights throughout the War knew that they were satisfactory, and if the Board of Admiralty are satisfied that fact is of more force than the objections of the hon. Gentleman. It is suggested that the situation could be dealt with first of all by a subsidy. Then it is suggested let us go one stage beyond the subsidy, and set up a national factory. You cannot argue at this stage with all our experience of what State factories have been like, and with the financial stringency which prevails at present, that you are to spend money in setting up great State factories instead of employing the perfectly adequate firms which there are.
§ Major ENTWISTLE
The Minister who has just spoken based his whole case on the ground that these lamps are required for searchlight purposes in time of war and he poured scorn on the suggestion that you could go to the ratepayers and ask them to do without these lamps, and in case of war not have the most efficient searchlight. He also poured scorn on the suggestion that the State should manufacture these arc lamp carbons. If he will only carry this argument a little further we might have reasons for doing away with the Woolwich Arsenal and giving the whole manufacture of munitions and guns and other things which are made by the Government into the hands of private individuals, and particularly into the hands of private individuals who have a monopoly such as we have been told exists in the case of these arc lamps. That argument appears to me to be astounding. If this is wanted 939 for war purposes by all means let the Government do it.
We hear that the Admiralty are entirely satisfied with these carbons, but the chief engineers of the Manchester, Glasgow, and Dublin Corporations, which use arc lamps for street lighting, are not satisfied with these British-made carbons. We have it on the authority of the hon. Member for West Leyton (Mr. Newbould), who has considerable experience of and is also a great authority on cinematograph work. I have also here a letter from the Cinematograph Exhibitors' Association of Great Britain to say that these British-made carbons are inferior, and they pass a strong resolution on the subject as being consumers of 10,000,000 feet of these carbons. If the Minister is right in saying that the Admiralty are satisfied with these arc lamps, all I can say is that it is a commentary on the officials of the Admiralty. We know from experience that officials in Government Departments have been slow in acknowledging that the particular goods which they use are not of the best type. We had any amount of experience of that in the War, and I believe that these arc lamp carbons for searchlight purposes in the War were actually obtained from Germany through Holland, and this very company which has a monopoly in these carbons was a German firm originally, if my information is correct.
The Government have been told that the consequences of this import duty will be to give a monopoly to one firm. How; can they justify that? The only suggestion was, that they can make out that it is to the general benefit of a large number of manufacturers in this country for the purpose of giving employment, but we have, practically, only one firm producing these carbons. We are used to a great many things in these days of Protection, and of the influences to which the Government are subject, but it is a, scandalous thing that the Government should endeavour now to pass legislation the effect of which will be to give a monopoly to one firm. I cannot see that when they are informed as to the result of that legislation they will persist with it, and if it is not effective for the purpose for which these Resolutions are made, namely, to protect our British industries, the only result would be to 940 increase the price to the users of the foreign-made carbons. The cinematograph industry has already got to cope with an enormous cost, and it is a source of revenue to the country in the form of Entertainment Duty, and if you increase charges that will hurt that industry, you will decrease the number of cinemas and, with the smaller attendance, you will thereby cause a loss of revenue to the country. In addition, you will be depriving the country of one of the most popular and, I think, one of the most beneficial forms of entertainment which we have.
We hear a great deal of industrial unrest in these days, and it is unwise of the Government to put a tax on any form of public entertainment so innocuous and so beneficial as that provided by the cinematograph industry. They are unanimous in this. They passed the strongest Resolutions against the imposition of this duty which will deal a serious blow at the cinema industry, without any compensating advantages to the country.
Arc lamp carbons form an indispensable part of the raw material of an industry suffering from the entertainment duty and the general increase in cost without being in a position to recoup itself to anything approaching an adequate increase in price. That is a resolution passed by the Cinematograph Exhibitors' Association of Great Britain and Ireland. What is the position of the Government? Do they want the carbons to be manufactured by none but English fimrs? If that is their position, and it is the only logical object in imposing this duty, it means putting this industry into the hands of one firm and giving them a monopoly, and that firm, according to all evidence except that of the Admiralty, is producing goods which are inferior to those which can be obtained from abroad. If that is not the object, what is the result? A trifling revenue will be produced, and the consumers will be mulcted in the heavily increased price. No case has been made out for the restriction. We have very abbreviated replies from the Government's representative. These things are done very casually. No weight of argument is attemuted in support of the Government's extraordinary proposals. Some 941 concession ought to have been made in reply to the strong case which the opposition has made out.
§ Mr. A. HOPKINSON
There is one technical point on which I must say something. The argument of the Minister was that in street lighting the half-watt incandescent lamp will entirely supersede the arc lamp, and that therefore municipal and lighting authorities need not bother even if their arc-lamp carbons increase in price. He is under a complete misapprehension. The old-fashioned single arc, which is used entirely in naval searchlights for some particular reason, is inefficient compared with the half-watt incandescent lamp. But there is another lamp, the flame arc-lamp, of which the same thing cannot be said with any certainty. It is still an open question, I think, whether greater economy is not to be got in outside lighting, street lighting, by the use of flame arc-lamps, with carbons of various compositions and quality, than can ever be got by the plain incandescent half-watt lamp. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has, probably quite unwittingly, misled the House in making that assertion.
There is another point which has hitherto not been mentioned. If you give the English manufacturer—in this case one single firm—what is practically a monopoly of the arc-lamp carbon industry in this country, and if you remove the foreign competition which has hitherto stimulated him to constant improvements in design and manufacture, we shall undoubtedly fall behind our foreign competitors in the manufacture of these carbons. That argument applies to every other article scheduled in the Bill. Speaking as a manufacturer, not of arc-lamp carbons, but of machinery which has to contend with very serious competition, I say that I should never in any circumstances alter my designs if I was free entirely from foreign competition. If the foreigner cannot compete with me and bring out better designs than my own, why should I go to the expense and trouble of improving my designs? If the 33⅓ per cent. duty was put on competing machines of the kind that I manufacture, I should go on from year to year without any improvement, knowing that the practical prohibition of my foreign rivals in the market at home would save me from the necessity of taking 942 thought and of losing money in experiments. It requires a very high degree of scientific skill to make an improvement in a simple article like an arc-lamp carbon which has been worked on for many years. If we protect the English manufacturer, in this case practically a monopolist, from foreign competition, we shall find that if ever a European war breaks out again our enemies and competitors abroad have probably developed the manufacture of arc-lamp carbons to a greater degree than we have done.
§ Mr. SPENCER
One of the most remarkable things in the Debate to-night and on the Committee stage has been the inability of the Government to state a case in favour of these Resolutions. A case has been made out for articles being required by the Army or the Navy, and probably in some cases in the war that is to come. But no attempt has been made so far to establish a case for the protectection of these industries. I notice that a point which has been emphasised by the last speaker is also emphasised by several companies which have to use these carbons. They say that the last remaining competitive spur to the improvement of English quality will have gone if these Resolutions go through. As far as these things are concerned, a single company will have the monopoly, and there will be no incentive whatever for the company to improve the carbons they manufacture. A tariff war is being built up without any evidence to prove that it is necessary financially or commercially. Whatever advantage may be derived by the Navy from this process, I am not able to deal with, but I think I am right in saying that the disadvantages to other sections of the community will far outweigh the advantages to the Navy. The process that has been inaugurated by the Government in regard to these duties is the beginning of a system the end of which no man can see. We may have here a comparatively short list, but if it is once established we shall have more people knocking at the door and asking for the inclusion of their trade.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the said Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 168; Noes, 75.945
|Division No. 131.]||AYES.||[8.35 p.m.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Goff, Sir R. Park||Neal, Arthur|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Gould, James C.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Armitage, Robert||Green, Albert (Derby)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Parker, James|
|Atkey, A. R.||Greer, Harry||Pearce, Sir William|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Gregory, Holman||Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pratt, John William|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Hallwood, Augustine||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Remnant, Sir James|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Renwick, George|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Rodger, A. K.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hills, Major John Waller||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Seddon, J. A.|
|Briggs, Harold||Hood, Joseph||Shaw, Capt. William T. (Forfar)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Casey, T. W.||Howard, Major S. G.||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Hurd, Percy A.||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Stevens, Marshall|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Stewart, Gershom|
|Clough, Robert||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Taylor, J.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Kidd, James||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Waddington, R.|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Walton, J. (York, W.R., Don Valley)|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Lorden, John William||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||M'Curdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Macquisten, F. A.||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Fildes, Henry||Maddocks, Henry||Wise, Frederick|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Mason, Robert||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Middlebrook, Sir William||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Gardiner, James||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Gardner, Ernest||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Gee, Captain Robert||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Dudley Ward.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Gillis, William||Kiley, James Daniel|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Glanville, Harold James||Lunn, William|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Grundy, T. W.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Mills, John Edmund|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Morgan, Major D. Watts|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Hartshorn, Vernon||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)|
|Bromfield, William||Hayday, Arthur||Myers, Thomas|
|Cairns, John||Hayward, Evan||O'Grady, James|
|Cape, Thomas||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Rae, H. Norman|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Hirst, G. H.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Holmes, J. Stanley||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Irving, Dan||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Spencer, George A.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Swan, J. E.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Kennedy, Thomas||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Kenyon, Barnet||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Tootill, Robert||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Waterson, A. E.||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Wignall, James||Wintringham, Thomas||Mr. Briant and Mr. Newbould.|
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I beg to move after the word "Trade" ["Board of Trade"] to insert the words, "subject to the approval of both Houses of Parliament."
This is the first of two Amendments, and I agree that possibly the later Amendment raises a point of more substance than the one which I am now moving.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I understand the hon. Member is only moving the Amendment which appears in his name upon the Paper.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
This Amendment raises an important subject as to the Board of Trade and the Advisory Committee, which the President of the Board of Trade announced would be appointed to determine the specific articles which should receive the benefit of the 33⅓ per cent. duty. My hon. Friends associated with me on these Benches consider that the House of Commons should be the ultimate authority to determine even this technical matter. An old Resolution and the most famous Resolution which ever came before this House contained the following words:That the power of the Monarchy hath increased, is increasing, and should be diminished.I think the modern rendering of that old declaration might be put in the following words:That the power of the bureaucracy has increased, is increasing, and should be diminished.It is from that standpoint I ask the House to add the words which appear in the Amendment so that Parliament itself can take into its own hands and out of the power of the Board of Trade to determine which of its subjects shall be taxed. During the War the House of Commons very readily abrogated its powers and transferred great powers into the hands of officials. This House readily accepted its transitory position.
To-day, however, we have passed 2½ years from the time of the Armistice, and slowly during that period this House has fallen foul of the growing power of the bureaucracy, and little by little the House of Commons has determined that the Govern- 946 ment Departments are to be the servants of this House. We resent any Committee, even presided over by the present President of the Board of Trade, determining which articles should be taxed. Parliament is the ultimate authority, and it is to this House, and to this House alone, that all these questions should come. Many of us know full well during the War the great difficulties, and in some cases hardships, which arose when certain manufacturers were faced with officials of the Board of Trade and other Departments determining questions affecting their business. If the Government came to this House and asked for powers to add certain articles to the list, and showed cause why these articles should be added, I have little doubt the House would support the Government in that policy. Therefore, I ask the President of the Board of Trade to meet us on this question. In speaking on the Committee stage of these Resolutions, he considered that there might be a difficulty in an autumn Session. If articles have not received in bygone days this large protective duty for several years, there cannot be much hardship in asking the manufacturers of those articles to wait a certain number of months before Parliament determines, in its own good judgment, that these articles should be called key industries that should receive the large measure of protection which this Resolution gives to them. I appeal to the Government to accept the addition of these words.
§ Colonel PENRY WILLIAMS
I beg to second the Amendment.
I agree entirely with the mover that this is a matter which should not be taken out of the hands of the House of Commons, and we have had rather startling proof of that in the last few days. We are in some difficulty in discussing this, because later on the Order Paper, when we are dealing with the second Resolution, we have an Amendment down in similar terms, that is, vesting in the House of Commons the power to make Orders under the second Resolution, and after consultation with Mr. Speaker we have come to the conclusion that it would be better to raise the question of the German Reparations Order on the second Resolution, rather than on the 947 first, and I understand from Mr. Speaker that he will, if time permits and he does not change his mind, allow a fair latitude of discussion on that question. I think it has come rather as a shock to hon. Members to know that the Government have entirely reversed the policy of this House on the question of reparations, and that they have admitted German goods to this country blatantly, openly, without consulting this House at all, and that they have done it under Section 5 of the Act.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
As I pointed out to the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor on a similar occasion, at the present time a very definite attack is being made on the whole Parliamentary system. If there is one thing more important than another for this House to consider, it is the position of Parliament at the present time, and I think the right hon. Gentleman himself would agree with me fully when I suggest that it is essential above all things that no Department of State should put itself in a position where it can come under suspicion from ignorant or malignant people. If the Board of Trade are to be the deciding authority on the question of what industries should be protected and be given a monopoly of trade in this country, that Department will inevitably come under suspicion from malignant people. Last year we had two occasions in particular where that happened. If you have a Department of State setting up Committees to deal with subjects which give very valuable concessions indeed to certain individuals in this country, you will invariably have suspicion of the bonâ fides of the Department. I know the right hon. Gentleman himself would be the last to defend a Department putting itself in that position, particularly at the present time, and I should be glad if, in the discussion on this Amendment, he will tell us what safe guards there are against the possibility of that suspicion arising and in what way the position of his Department is to be made secure against attacks from outside. On the two questions of dyes and cellulose, last year, that suspicion arose in the very gravest form and did a vast amount of harm, not only to the reputation of the Department, but to the whole Parliamentary system, and therefore I hope the right hon. Gentleman will explain to us what safeguards there are going to be and how the reputation of Parliament and of 948 the Department is going to be guarded in the event of those suspicions arising in the future, as they inevitably will if this most important point in industry, the actual setting up of monopolies in certain industries, is to be left to a Committee of the Department and not publicly discussed by this House.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The hon. Member who has just addressed the House is always twenty years behind the times. He is under the impression that the party to which I have the honour to belong is composed of either Bolshevists or bureaucrats. It happens to be neither. The real bureaucrats are there—on the Government Benches. The real Bolshevists are there opposite to us. The observations and arguments of the hon. Member in this Debate and in his various speeches should have been directed to that fact instead of, with a wave of the hand, to hon. Members on this side of the House. For what is the issue we have raised in this Amendment to-day? That issue is precisely the issue of democracy against bureaucracy. It is: Is this House, which is the best sort of representative of democracy that we can produce, to decide what taxes are to be paid by the community, what monopolies are to be set up, what industries to be protected, or is some Government official, not on that Bench opposite but sitting in skeleton form behind the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, to decide that the citizens of this country are to be taxed because these officials are so wise, so all-wise, as to be far wiser than Members of this House, representing various interests of the country, can possibly be?
We know perfectly well what happens. This list as given in this Resolution is vague. It lacks precision. The Board of Trade officials will be the first to recognise that it lacks precision, and they will immediately start extending A, B, C, D., and so on to I, and thus runs the schedules to an unlimited length. Every single item in the schedule will be hard cash in the pockets of somebody. Every item added to a schedule or subtracted from it will mean fortunes made or fortunes lost. It will not unfortunately be the right hon. Gentleman who will have to draw up these schedules. They will be drawn up by clerks in his office. What happens? Let me explain to the House 949 what will happen in these cases. Permanent officials retire sometimes. When they retire they often become directors of companies and those companies are, naturally, often interested in the items in these extensive schedules. Directorships are not bribery, but they are a very substantial solatium to retired civil servants of not only the Board of Trade, or the India Office, but of other Departments. These considerations cannot possibly be absent from the mind of the civil servant.
There is more than that. We all desire to start our sons in life. Many of us start our sons in business, as engineers it may be, as secretaries; and the sons of civil servants have to be started like the sons of other people. Here, too, there is all the bargaining and favouring that can be given to sons starting in business. Every business that has to deal with the Admiralty or the War Office knows perfectly well that it is to their advantage in this starting in life to employ the relations of civil servants. It is not done by any means in a scandalous way. Many of them start as premium pupils; some without premiums. Here you are putting the Board of Trade in the same position as these firms. You are saying that the Board of Trade or the officials shall have the right to say what industries shall be in these schedules. I know that I shall be told after having made this speech that I am casting scandalous imputations upon the civil servants of this country, but it is about time we spoke out. Human nature being what it is, civil servants, who are the most perfect of all of us, are not sufficiently perfect to avoid this sort of thing. If we have any faith in Parliamentary Government, or in this Amendment, we ought to see that this suspicion is not engendered, and that civil servants are not put in a position where they shall be suspected of these methods which do not altogether bear the light of day. Like my hon. Friend who proposed the Amendment, I feel that we ought to do everything now we can to put bureaucracy in its proper place as the servant of this House and not the master of the country. We want to restrict the powers of the Board of Trade to carrying out the orders of the House of Commons instead of making the House of 950 Commons carry out the orders of the Board of Trade. Everybody who believes in democracy must regret the tendencies of the present day. I hope there are some Members of the House who still believe in democracy left to protest against the development shown in this Bill of handing over these powers, which Parliament has always been extremely jealous of handing to anybody outside, of taxing the community, to a Government Department which not only thereby acquires the right to tax, but also the power to create valuable monopolies.
§ Mr. BALDWIN
I have listened with a great deal of interest to the speeches made so far on this Amendment. I have listened, as I always do, with interest to my hon. and gallant Friend who has just spoken. He has alluded to us on this Bench as Bolshevists. I have spent almost the time of the rest of his speech in wondering whether he intended that observation as a compliment or not. Whether that be so or not, I think I had better come to the point at issue which is a very genuine one, and one, I think, that deserves very serious consideration. I am as anxious as anyone in this House to be free from what my hon. Friend (Mr. Hopkinson) has called ignorant and malignant suspicion. I should like also to be free from something which, if possible, it is still more difficult to be free from, and that is the suspicion of the learned and the beneficent.
In his speech the hon. and gallant Gentleman said he was desirous that the Board of Trade should carry out the orders of the House of Commons. That is exactly what I hope will happen, and that, if and when the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament and the Schedule appended to it is part of that Act of Parliament, that the schedule would be in the same words, so far as the key industries are concerned, as the list given of these key industries in the Resolution which we are now discussing. It is obvious, however, that for Customs House purposes we want something closer than that. I do not call it "extension," a word used by more than one speaker, because that would imply we meant to include articles of a different kind. I would rather call it definition of what exactly are the articles comprised within the Schedule passed by the House of Commons. In this country we are not used to tariffs. But in countries where 951 tariffs are in existence I understand that the usual practice is for the interpretation of the articles comprised in such schedules as this to be decided by the Customs Houses. In this country the usual course, I believe, is to appeal to the Courts.
The proposition put before the House in this Bill is that the Board of Trade will have power to give a definition and the lists will be published forthwith. This was done in the case of the dye industry. The same thing will be done under this Bill and within three months any person interested either in the inclusion or exclusion of an article in the definition may appeal not to the Courts—that matter was discussed and it was felt by those who prepared this Bill that it would be better not to have appeals to the Courts, which are lengthy and expensive—but to a referee appointed by the Treasury, whose decision on the matter as to whether the definition is correct or not shall be final and conclusive. If an article has been scheduled, and the duty has been paid, the moment the referee's verdict is given, if it is against the inclusion of that article, it will be excluded, but without prejudice to anything which may have been done in the interval.
I do not wish to say anything at this moment upon a similar Amendment which will come under discussion on the Second Resolution. I quite agree with what the hon. Member for Greenock (Sir G. Collins) said, that there is much more substance in the second than in the first one. I do not expect for a moment that the explanation I have given will be satisfactory to hon. Members opposite, but I do see myself a very real distinction between this process of definition carried out as I have explained, and the duty laid down in the Bill, which deals with various kinds of dumping. When we come to that question I shall have something to say upon it.
With regard to the Amendment now before us, I feel convinced that for this limited purpose with regard to key industries, when you have the Schedules approved by Parliament, the procedure we have laid down is a useful procedure. It is one swift in its execution which is a matter of great importance, and I think it is fair. I am quite sure that it will be far more satisfactory to industries to have a referee who is able to give a decision 952 on a technical matter of this kind quickly rather than to have brought up perhaps after a long interval in this House, discussions of the nature of this and that article in regard to which necessarily very few hon. Members would be qualified to come to a decision, and where moreover there would be a tendency to be guided by party sympathies rather than have it given by one who decides on technical knowledge. I regret that I cannot meet this Amendment, but I thank my hon. Friend for having brought it before the House, because I think it is an important matter.
§ Captain W. BENN
I am sure I am speaking for my hon. and gallant Friend who moved this Amendment, and my hon. Friend who seconded it, when I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the courteous and painstaking way in which he has examined the proposal which has been put forward. The right hon. Gentleman, however, seems to me to have produced only one argument of substance against this proposal, that is the delay it might cause. We are familiar enough with the procedure of the House to know that an Order is presented and laid on the table of the House for so many days, and I think it would be easy to show that this would not delay the procedure any more than the process of appealing to a referee appointed by the Treasury. I submit the argument that delay would be caused has not sufficient weight to dispose of this very substantial Amendment.
What do we mean when we say that the Board of Trade may from time to time make an order saying what articles are to be comprised in the list? That list is drawn up in very general terms, and it is quite clear that within the scope of the words of the Resolution the Board of Trade might introduce a great number of valuable concessions to the trades concerned. We have already presented a monopoly in the manufacture of arc lamp carbons to one firm. Under this proposal pressure can be brought to bear upon the Board of Trade in order to prevent competition. The right hon. Gentleman says the proposal is strictly defined in the terms of the Resolution, but we know from our experience that the Board of Trade always takes the very widest possible view of the powers conferred in this Resolution.
Not long ago a Bill was passed for preventing German goods from coming 953 into this country, and recently the Board of Trade made an order opening the gates wide for every kind of German goods to be imported. If the Board of Trade use their powers in that way, if they can make a carriage road through the centre of an Act of Parliament which was passed to keep German goods out of this country, surely we are right in entertaining some suspicion of the way they will exercise the powers given under this Resolution. There is a great deal of difference in giving taxing powers to a Department, and giving it to the House of Commons. If ever the bad day arrives when corrupt influences are brought to bear on the House of Commons, the electors have a remedy in their own hands, and they can reject their representative, but it is much more difficult to stamp out corruption in a public Department.
That is the reason why this House has always cherished, the powers it possesses of taxing the people of this country. There is no power in the Standing Orders that is more carefully fenced in than this power to impose a charge. You are not allowed to put words in a Bill imposing a charge unless a special Committee has considered it or a Money Committee, and it must not only have been considered in Committee but it must be reported from the Committee to the House. They are very real powers which make the House of Commons influence felt in the country. They are powers which should be retained in our hands for the sake of the credit of the House which has suffered perhaps owing to the great growth of bureaucracy. We must retain in our hands the power to tax the people, and on that ground I submit the House should support this Amendment.
§ Major M. WOOD
I think one should look at the past history of this Bill. If we go back to the end of the War we will find that a determined effort was made by the Board of Trade to do all that it is proposed to do by this Bill without the intervention of Parliament at all. An Act was passed in 1876, called the Customs Consolidation Act, and the Government went out of its way to use that Act to exclude particular materials and articles which it thought ought to be kept out in the interests of people who were pressing upon them the desirability of special treatment for key industries. What was the end of that particular 954 effort? It was brought up in the Courts, and Mr. Justice Sankey declared that the whole procedure was illegal, and that the Government had no right to tax the public in the way it was doing. The Government did not even appeal against that decision, although it made a great show of saying it was entitled to do all it purported to do. After having been defeated in its first effort the Government attempted another. It attempted to smuggle through this House of Commons a Clause in the Indemnity Act which would give it power to do exactly the same thing as was attempted to be done under the Customs Consolidation Act, and to make out any list that it thought fit which would enable the Board of Trade to exclude any particular article which Protectionists in this country thought ought to be excluded from the country. Again the Government was defeated, and I am not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman, having been defeated in his design by the intervention of the Law Courts, should now, when the matter is again before the House, go out of his way to oust the jurisdiction of the Law Courts which have been our only protection against the inroads of the Government in this respect. The Law Courts have compelled him to come to the House of Commons to do what it was attempted to do without authority.
That is why to-day the right hon. Gentleman is trying to oust the authority of the Law Courts. He suggests that, although he is going to oust the jurisdiction of the Law Courts, he is proposing to set up some other judicial authority which he calls a Referee. But what is the use of appointing a Referee to do duties for the performance of which judges are already appointed? On the ground of expense alone I would object to the suggestion of the appointment of another official. It is the fashion of the Government to create officials. They cannot allow a chance to pass by. Every time they get an opportunity they create another post. This Referee, however, is going to be a mere creature of the Government. He will be appointed by the Government and presumably will be dismissible by the Government. A judge cannot be dismissed by the Government. Mr. Justice Sankey cannot be dismissed for deciding against the Government on a law case. But this Referee will be a mere creature 955 of the Government. There is to be no appeal from him, and to suggest that such an official should take the place of judges who are appointed for life is to my mind quite absurd. Look at what this Referee is likely to be called upon to do. If anyone will examine the list embodied in the first Resolution he will see the enormous powers which may be laid upon the Board of Trade and upon this Referee. For instance, in the first line it speaks of "optical elements." What is meant by an "optical element?" It seems to me to take the form of an almost indefinite expansion of the word. It has been suggested that spectacles are not included in this Sub-section. But suppose the Board of Trade should subsequently make an order that they are to be considered optical elements for this purpose. Is it possible to hope that the Referee would say that that was beyond the powers given here?
Take another case, that of permanent magnets. I am not an authority on magnetoes or magnets, but I know there has been correspondence over this particular part of the Resolution, and it has been suggested that the inclusion of permanent magnets will give a protection to the industry far beyond what is necessary or what was intended to be given in order to set up the industry in this country. It seems to me that permanent magnets can be made to include almost anything beyond what is required for motor cars. The first three subsections end with the words "and other." For instance, there is the term "other optical instruments "; and again, "other laboratory porcelain." There we have an opportunity given to the Board of Trade to exercise their powers, and they are going to do it without any really effective control by this House of Commons. What is the objection of the right hon. Gentleman to submitting his case to the Law Courts? It is the fashion which the present Government are continually indulging in to set up some sort of outside authority to take over a particular duty which hitherto has been exercised by the Courts. It does not, in my opinion, suggest that they have very great confidence in the Courts when they are continually setting up some kind of extra judicial referee to do work which the judges have been appointed to do and are, in fact, being paid to carry out. I 956 hope the right hon. Gentleman will agree to put in some words here, or if he cannot do that, will promise to put them in the Bill which will follow, and thus prevent these continual inroads by the executive upon the powers of Parliament.
This is an attempt to produce taxation by peroration. I drew attention in some other remarks to the fact that the important thing in these Resolutions was not what was in them but the things which were not mentioned in them; those things that were in the peroration in every sentence of these paragraphs. Of course, coming from a Government presided over by the Prime Minister, what would one expect but taxation and legislation by peroration? The only wonder is that we have not some mention of the Welsh hills. I object to this form of taxation. If there is one thing which absolutely needs to be as clearly as any of the microscopes mentioned here could define it, it is the subject of taxation, and the things upon which we are to be taxed? We spend days here, sometimes, at any rate hours, discussing whether a penny should be put on or taken off tea, or sugar, or any other commodity of that sort. Why should the power to define what objects are to be taxed be left to some obscure official appointed by the Treasury? There seems to be some great virtue in an official if he is appointed by the Treasury. We regard the Treasury as immaculate, and I almost subscribe to that doctrine. If, however, you once give opportunities of that sort to any Treasury official and put it in his power to define upon what the public ought to be taxed and upon what they ought not to be taxed you will undermine the whole basis of taxation in this country. The number of things which are placed in the power of an official of this sort to tax the public upon is enormous. In these Resolutions we have only some 50 articles, but the potential number of articles runs into the thousand, in optical instruments and glasses, instruments of precision, and things of that sort. In that book to which I have already referred there are about 2,000 optical instruments and articles of precision, and that does not touch other things included in these perorations.
One talks about the corruption of Protection. A great argument which the Postmaster-General used to draw against 957 Protection in any shape or form was the possibility of our being corrupted in the Lobbies by people who came with various suggestions as to what we should or should not tax. If I went back upon the Postmaster-General's speeches, I could give you splendid perorations in that sense. After all, I would prefer that the public should be suspicious that Members of the House of Commons were amenable to influences of that sort rather than that we should put it in their power even to suggest that whispers of that character could be directed against our public officials. Thank God, we are free from that, and it would be a calamity to put it on anyone outside Government circles to say: "Someone went to the back door of the Board of Trade and got hold of a person he knew and got his instrument put on the list." That sort of thing would be bound to occur, however, and in all sincerity I would much prefer that such a thing should be said about the House of Commons rather than that the splendid character of the Civil Service should be slurred by any whisper or suggestions of that sort. I support the Amendment.
§ Mr. SPENCER
I wish to protest against the unfair transference of the powers of this House to a Government Department. Whether or not the officials are qualified to carry out this taxation, it is not fair that the powers of taxation should be transferred to them. The real point is that the House of Commons is elected to carry out these particular functions, and they should not be transferred to a Department which may be very immaculate and have very wide knowledge, but whose members, after all, have not been elected to carry out those duties. A Committee sat and issued a Report in regard to the suggestions contained in these Resolutions. No one on that Committee knows by what method
§ and by what means paragraph (f) has found its way into these Resolutions. It was not recommended by the Committee; but still we find it here. If a Committee has sat and issued a Report, and if the Government itself has made a certain addition for some reason or other, then the Government might tell us the reason why it has been influenced to include an article not recommended by that Committee. If the Government and the Cabinet as a whole is subject to outside influence and pressure, it would not be much to be wondered at if a Government Department were subsequently to be found subject to the same outside influence and pressure. The definition to be given in this category of articles, what is to be included in it, and to what extent it is to be extended—all that is the function of Parliament rather than of the Board of Trade.
§ The Amendment does not limit the power of the Board of Trade one iota. The Board of Trade would more or less carry out these duties. The Amendment says that after it has drawn up the list of articles to be included in this Schedule it should be submitted to this House and to the other place, and should receive the sanction of both Houses before it comes into operation. That is not too much to expect. This House is elected to preserve what is, after all, its right and privileges. Hon. Members have been sent here for the purpose of protecting their constituents. They can best serve their constituents and protect their interests, not by transferring their power to permanent authorities, but by insisting on their right to criticise, examine, and decide on all forms of taxation before they become law.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 85; Noes, 181.959
|Division No. 132.]||AYES.||[9.35 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Grundy, T. W.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Hartshorn, Vernon|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hayday, Arthur|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Hayward, Evan|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Entwistle, Major C. F.||Hirst, G. H.|
|Briant, Frank||Foreman, Sir Henry||Holmes, J. Stanley|
|Bromfield, William||France, Gerald Ashburner||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Cairns, John||Galbraith, Samuel||Irving, Dan|
|Cape, Thomas||Gillis, William||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Glanville, Harold James||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Rodger, A. K.||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Kenyon, Barnet||Royce, William Stapleton||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Kiley, James Daniel||Sexton, James||Wignall, James|
|Lunn, William||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbrdge)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Spencer, George A.||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Mills, John Edmund||Swan, J. E.||Wintringham, Thomas|
|Morgan, Major D. Watts||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Myers, Thomas||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|O'Grady, James||Tootill, Robert||Mr. Arthur Henderson and Mr. G.|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wallace, J.||Thorne.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Greer, Harry||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Armitage, Robert||Greig, Colonel James William||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray|
|Atkey, A. R.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Polson, Sir Thomas A.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Hallwood, Augustine||Pratt, John William|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Purchase, H. G.|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Rae, H. Norman|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Remnant, Sir James|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Renwick, George|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Herbert Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Hood, Joseph||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Hopkins, John W. W.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Howard, Major S. G.||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Hurd, Percy A.||Shaw, Capt. William T. (Forfar)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Briggs, Harold||Jephcott, A. R.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Starkey, Captain John Ralph|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Stevens, Marshall|
|Casey, T. W.||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Keiley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Taylor, J.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Kidd, James||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Clough, Robert||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Townshend, Sir Charles V. F.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Lorden, John William||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Waddington, R.|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir H. C. (P'nrith)||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||M'Curdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Davidson, J.C.C. (Hemel Hempstead)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Macquisten, F. A.||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Maddocks, Henry||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Mason, Robert||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Middlebrook, Sir William||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Fildes, Henry||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wise, Frederick|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Forrest, Walter||Morrison, Hugh||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Gardiner, James||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Gee, Captain Robert||Neal, Arthur||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gould, James C.||Parker, James||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Green, Albert (Derby)||Pearce, Sir William||Dudley Ward.|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
§ Colonel P. WILLIAMS
On a point of Order. May I ask, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, whether you have considered, and are 960 going to call, a manuscript Amendment which has been handed in in the names of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member 961 for Central Aberdeen (Major M. Wood) and myself? It may be within your recollection that, the day before yesterday, there was an Amendment standing on the Paper on behalf of the Government in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, the object of which Amendment was to provide for securing information and returns from firms engaged in the protected industries to be set up under the Bill. For some reason or other, that Amendment was taken off the Paper, and it did not appear on the Paper this morning. Of course, when we saw it on the Paper, we thought that the Government Amendment was much better than anything we could draft, and, as the matter was exceedingly important, we did not put it down in the ordinary way. I should like your ruling as to whether our position, when the Bill comes to be discussed, will be protected by that Amendment, so that we may not be told that such provision, which is absolutely necessary, is not within the scope of this Financial Resolution and will impose an additional charge, and cannot, therefore, be moved or discussed when we reach the Committee stage of the Bill.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)
I do not think it will be possible for me, as Deputy-Speaker, to bind myself as Chairman of Committees when we come to Committee, much less the Deputy-Chairman. I am clear that on the face of it the Amendment is not necessary, because it proposes to supply only what I imagine is some ancillary machinery to the object of the Bill. Therefore my present view, for what it is worth, is that these words of the Resolution are not necessary, and that an Amendment of that kind would be in order. I presume the President of the Board of Trade put the
§ Amendment down as lawyers say abundante cantela, but concluded, on reflection, that it is not necessary.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
There is another aspect of the case. The machinery which would be set up if the Amendment were accepted would entail a certain cost, and as these are Financial Resolutions, is there not some point in making ourselves quite safe by putting in Amendments so as to leave the Government free to put up the machinery and incur the cost if need be?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
It is not a taxing charge. It would not impose a charge in the sense in which the Resolution is proposed. It is conceivable, theoretically, that the work might be done voluntarily, and in any case it would be a matter for Committee of Supply, and not for Committee of Ways and Means.
§ Captain W. BENN
May I ask whether as Deputy-Speaker, you would allow an Amendment of this kind on the Report stage without a money Resolution in Committee.
§ Colonel P. WILLIAMS
Should I be allowed to move the Amendment now, so as to secure a discussion at this stage?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
This is not one of the Amendments which was marked by Mr. Speaker for selection.
§ Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 194; Noes, 74.963
|Division No. 133.]||AYES.||[9.48 p.m.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Blades, Sir George Rowland||Churchman, Sir Arthur|
|Armitage, Robert||Borwick, Major G. O.||Clough, Robert|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Coats, Sir Stuart|
|Atkey, A. R.||Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Brassey, H. L. C.||Cohen, Major J. Brunel|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Breese, Major Charles E.||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||Briggs, Harold||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Broad, Thomas Tucker||Curzon, Captain Viscount|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar (Banff)||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Davidson, J.C.C. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Carew, Charles Robert S.||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Casey, T. W.||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Cautley, Henry Strother||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Falcon, Captain Michael|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)|
|Forrest, Walter||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Seddon, J. A.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lorden, John William||Shaw, Capt. William T. (Forfar)|
|Gee, Captain Robert||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir H. C. (P'nrith)||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Gould, James C.||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Green, Albert (Derby)||Maddocks, Henry||Starkey, Captain John Ralph|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Mason, Robert||Stevens, Marshall|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Middlebrook, Sir William||Stewart, Gershom|
|Greer, Harry||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Taylor, J.|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Hallwood, Augustine||Morrison, Hugh||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Murchison, C. K.||Townshend, Sir Charles V. F.|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Neal, Arthur||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Waddington, R.|
|Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Parker, James||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Pearce, Sir William||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Hood, Joseph||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Perkins, Walter Frank||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Howard, Major S. G.||Polson, Sir Thomas A.||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Pratt, John William||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Prescott, Major W. H.||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Purchase, H. G.||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Rae, H. Norman||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Rankin, Captain James Stuart||Wise, Frederick|
|Johnson, Sir Stanley||Raper, A. Baldwin||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Remnant, Sir James||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Renwick, George||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Rodger, A. K.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Kidd, James||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||McCurdy.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.||Grundy, T. W.||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hartshorn, Vernon||Spencer, George A.|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Hayday, Arthur||Swan, J. E.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hayward, Evan||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hirst, G. H.||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Holmes, J. Stanley||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Briant, Frank||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Bromfield, William||Irving, Dan||Tootill, Robert|
|Cairns, John||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Wignall, James|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Kenyon, Barnet||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Kiley, James Daniel||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Lunn, William||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbrdge)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Mills, John Edmund||Wintringham, Thomas|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Gillis, William||Myers, Thomas|
|Glanville, Harold James||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||O'Grady, James||Mr. Arthur Henderson and Mr. G.|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Thorne.|
Second Resolution read a Second time.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
I beg to move, after the word "That" ["That there shall be 964 charged"], to insert the words "for the period of one year from the passing of an Act for giving effect to this Resolution."
965 10.0 P.M.
The House has by a substantial majority passed the first Resolution, and we have come to the second Resolution, which is regarded as even more important in many respects than the Resolution just passed. My Amendment would have the effect of limiting the operation of this proposal to the period of one year. I recognise that arguments of a substantial character must be offered for the course which we recommend. Many hon. Members will consider that a Labour representative especially is in some difficulty in taking a line of opposition to a proposal which appears to safeguard employment in this country, but the question which we have to ask is whether this Resolution will in the first place safeguard employment, and whether, in the second place, it would not be far better to rely upon what we call the general volume of trade and commerce. What are the reasons which principally move us in the direction of limiting this proposal to a period of one year? Hon. Members will agree that there is a vast difference between this Resolution and the one we have just passed. In connection with the second Resolution there are important Reports by Departmental and other Committees, which are of such a character as to enable us to say in this Debate that the Government have not in the main adopted many of the recommendations. We believe that it is more important that we should limit the mischief, as we regard it, to the shortest possible space of time. Take the first point of the anti-dumping proposals in the second Resolution. It is conceded that nobody has ever supplied a definition of dumping which would find universal acceptance. The definition of dumping which for the purpose of this Debate is accepted is a definition which indicates that we are to impose Customs duties of 33⅓ per cent. on articles which are offered for sale in this country at prices below the cost of production in the country of origin. I put it to any hon. Member in connection with an argument of that kind that we must have regard to existing world economic conditions, and surely it cannot be reasonably suggested that there are many countries in the world at the present time which are in a position to go on for any considerable period offering goods to other countries at prices 966 below the cost of production. It is utterly wrong and unreasonable to make any suggestion of that kind. Apart from that suggestion, we are thrown back at the very outset of this Debate to the important memorandum which has been issued by bankers and others to the effect that we must rely upon the maximum volume of trade, and get rid of all artificial and other restrictions and hindrances to trade.
If that is the position, can we imagine anything more likely to interfere up to a point with the maximum volume of trade than the Resolution now proposed? Even if these arguments do not apply, most hon. Members will be inclined to agree that in this matter of dumping there is in all classes of the community a considerable confusion of thought. It is very well known that many articles are priced according to grades, and that for a limited period or for special purposes goods are offered at what appears to be a very low price, for what I would call sample purposes. That is not a tendency or policy which we wish to discourage in the world at the present time. It is a form of enterprise which should be encouraged in order to assist, as undoubtedly it will assist, in the recovery of world trade at the earliest possible moment. Across these ideas this Resolution cuts at once. There cannot be the slightest doubt that the Resolution will operate distinctly in restraint of trade at a time when we require the maximum freedom wherever we can possibly get it.
The other argument is simple and relevant. An Advisory Committee of the now defunct Ministry of Reconstruction made certain recommendations with regard to dumping, and one would imagine that the proposals of the Government would be based upon the recommendations of that Committee, which included a good deal of expert service. So far, we have never had from the Government any very distinct statement as to what form the anti-dumping legislation is going to take, but there were at least three proposals which that Committee made, on which, I think, most hon. Members will agree we are entitled to information to-night. First of all, they said that the anti-dumping legislation should not apply to goods of a kind which were not manufactured in this country. In the second place, they suggested it should not apply to goods which were merely passing through this country in 967 process of transhipment. Of course, we recognise that a considerable volume of British business was done in this way. In the third place, they proposed that it should not apply to goods which were manufactured and had their origin in India or other British Protectorates or Possessions. On those very important points there is nothing in this Resolution to guide any Member of the House, and before we proceed to any Parliamentary Bill in the light of existing conditions in the world, we are entitled to ask what the Government proposes in that connection, and I think that would have a very important bearing indeed on our decision as to whether a time limit of one year should be imposed for the purposes of this Resolution.
I want to refer very briefly to the other part of the proposal, namely, the part which deals with the collapsed exchanges. When the Minister of Health replied, as he was kind enough to do, to a speech I ventured to make on this matter when it was last before the House, he poured a good deal of ridicule on many of us, because he said we had failed to understand what exactly was happening in the creation of paper currency and money in Germany and other parts of the Continent, and he drew a picture of the printing presses busy in Germany manufacturing this currency, partly with the object of meeting their own needs, but partly with the object of meeting a situation which would, perhaps, directly or indirectly penalise Great Britain. May I suggest, in reply to that argument, that it must be obvious to all hon. Members that any country could only embark on a device of that kind with very great danger to its own success and prosperity? The inevitable effect would be to raise prices in Germany itself, to make internal conditions much more difficult, and perhaps to hinder, from many points of view, the recovery of German trade. What is the position—and I think it is a perfectly relevant question, having regard to the time limit of one year in this connection—what is the position in Germany as regards general prices at the present time? I know perfectly well, and I admit in the House to-night, it is very difficult to get exact information, but this information is given by representative authorities, and those who have been in touch with German conditions within very 968 recent times. They take a basic figure of 100, as applied to 1st January, 1920. They say that prices generally in Germany rose to about 150 from that basic figure as at 1st January, 1921, but up to the 7th May of the present year there has been a progressive decline from the 150 to 130, so that obviously there must be some grave discrepancy between the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman that the printing press is busy at work in an operation which must raise prices, and this conclusion by perfectly impartial experts regarding existing conditions in that part of the Continent.
That is the first part of the reply I venture to offer to the Government proposal. But there is another reply, and I think it is very important indeed. I am going to ask my hon. Friend opposite what, I think, he and the House will regard as a very fair question. I am going to ask him to concede, first of all, that they had this matter of the collapsed exchanges investigated by a very representative Committee, under the chairmanship of Lord Cunliffe, and that they could not have had a Committee of greater experts in this matter. The second point I am going to put is that, from beginning to end of the Report of that Committee, there is not a single line or sentence which suggests the kind of remedy or solution embodied in this second Resolution now submitted to the House. What were the proposals that the Cunliffe Committee definitely recommended, not merely in a preliminary Report but in a final Report? They said they saw no reason to depart from their conclusion that the foreign exchanges would right themselves in due course if we got a sound system of currency in each country. I am not going to pass any judgment, because I am not competent, but I record the preliminary verdict of the Cunliffe Committee. But they went beyond that, and laid down two or three lines of remedy which again, I think, are of very great significance at the present time. They said in the long run the exchanges would be righted by increased production; in the second place, they would be righted by the cessation of Government and other borrowings and, in the third place, they would be righted by the very greatest public and private economy.
Let us apply these three tests to the Government policy to-night. Is there any 969 hon. Member who will suggest that this restriction or restraint can make for increased production? I think it is impossible to argue an increased volume of trade in the light of these Resolutions. But, take the second case, the case of Government borrowings, or, as I shall call them, broadly and generally, Government commitments or obligations at large. What is the meaning of this proposal? There is no doubt whatever that it is a form of subsidy, a form of protection. It must cost the State something, directly or indirectly. It must penalise the economic stability and strength of the State, and to that extent it is going to impair the power of the Government to be done with borrowing, and get back to a strictly economic foundation. In the third place—and this seems even more important still—the Cunliffe Committee definitely lays down the greatest public and private economy, and here is a proposal which must increase prices and increase public and private expenditure. There is no defence for a device of this kind. If I believed for a single moment that these two proposals for anti-dumping and the collapsed exchanges were going to improve employment in Great Britain, I should support them with the greatest good-will. In my own place, in Edinburgh, with a comparatively small population, we have 15,000 unemployed. That is enough to make any city representative feel the weight and burden of this difficulty. But this is no remedy at all. We depend in this country, and the whole Continent of Europe and the world depend at the present time upon as much freedom as we can get. We cannot forget we are an island community, depending on the restoration of our overseas trade, which we must recover, and which this device distinctly impairs. For that reason, I think we are justified in asking that we should limit this to an experimental period of one year. I should not try it at all, but I am driven to attempt to limit it to one year, in the hope that one year will be quite sufficient to show the appalling fallacy of the Government in a matter of such great consequence to British employment, British security and everything else on which we depend.
§ Mr. MYERS
I can add very little to the speech that has already been made by the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), but, in endeavouring to emphasise the point he has made, I would 970 suggest that the second of these Resolutions involves so many considerations that must in the very near future be varied considerably, owing to the economic influences and the industrial revival in various parts of the world for which we are hoping that there should be an opportunity given by this House to review these Resolutions in a shorter period of time than is specified in the Resolution itself, namely five years, and I would suggest that one year is ample time to give the opportunity for the working of these Resolutions. The probabilities are that before the end of the 12 months it may be as necessary to revise these Resolutions as it has been to revise the decision of the Government with respect to the German reparation. Before the end of 12 months we should discover that a protective tariff such as these Resolutions impose does not move in the direction of benefiting the wider interests of the community, but rather in the direction of sheltering trusts and consolidating monopolies against the public well-being. I think also that before the end of 12 months after the passing of the Act we should have found out that the protection of industries from the fears of foreign competition by tariffs was not an alternative to improve methods of production or an incentive in the direction of business organisation.
All the evidence available goes to show that if industry has to be stimulated and production increased and trade encouraged it cannot be done by artificial methods of this character but only by education and research and greater energy and activity in the business operations in the business of the country, and that artificial methods of this character would eventually move in the direction of perpetuating slackness and industrial inefficiency. During the period of the War the industries of the country were very largely artificially swollen. They reached a magnitude which was abnormal. There is evidence at present that despite the fact that we are frequently told that there is a decline in the cost of living and a reduction in prices generally attempts are being made to foster and sustain prices at a war-time level, and the operation of the law of supply and demand and the interpretation of economic theories which, we have been led to believe, rule all these things, are being challenged by artificial methods. It is known that many indus- 971 tries rather than put their goods on the market at falling prices have sought the protection of the banker and secured overdrafts in order that they could hold certain portions of their stocks rather than let them go on the markets at the decreased prices. To attempt to sustain that swollen tendency by an artificial protection such as these tariffs propose to give the industries of the country is altogether unsound and illogical and opposed to all the tendencies of the time. The evidence goes to show that whenever Departments with monopolies are protected trusts are engendered and it is the community who has to pay every time, and there could be no other effect from the operation of these duties and tariffs than that the community in the long run will have to pay. It is desirable that we should keep in mind the possibility—it may be considered by some a remote possibility—that during the next five years there will be an opportunity for a change of Government. Nobody who has the well-being of the country at heart can contemplate any alternative Government recognising, accepting and perpetuating these duties. These protective duties being, as we believe, an injury to the community rather than a benefit, we presume that one of the first things an alternative Government would do would be to remove these duties. If we carry the proposals of the Government and impose this penalty on the community for a period of five years we pledge a future Government to the decisions and the works of the present Government. From many points of view many of us would hardly like to visit the sins of this Government upon future generations. The House and the country should have an opportunity of reviewing these decisions at the end of twelve months from the passing of the Act.
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Sir Alfred Mond)
The hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) in his very lucid speech referred to some remark which I made at an earlier stage on these Resolutions regarding collapsed exchanges. I must confess that I am amazed to find Members of the Labour party treating this very serious question of collapsed exchanges in this purely academic manner. If we were not faced with an entire paralysis of trade due to the unfortunate coal dispute—
§ Sir A. MOND
We were faced by the fact that there were large numbers of unemployed before the coal strike, and you will have them after the coal strike if, owing to the entirely artificial condition of the exchange you allow a huge subsidy to be given to foreign manufacturers, which subsidy makes it impossible to produce in this country at any competitive price, and makes it equally impossible to get millions of men back to work, and you do not take any counter action. The hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Wedgwood) is far too good an economist not to be able to appreciate that we have never yet had any leading economist standing in the position in which we find ourselves to-day.
§ Sir A. MOND
My hon. and gallant Friend is entirely wrong. If John Stuart Mill or Adam Smith or any other great Free Trader had been alive to-day, would any of them have been satisfied that in abnormal times like the present we should depend on normal economic laws? A more unscientific proposition has never yet been advanced. What is the effect of collapsed exchanges? No hon. Member can deny it has had the effect of giving a vast subsidy to manufacturers in the country where collapsed exchanges take place. I may illustrate that to hon. Members of the Labour party. The German Government was paying huge sums in March to, steel and iron manufacturers to enable them to export, with the consequence that the British manufacturer had to shut his steel foundries and pig-iron works, with consequent unemployment in these and other industries. Would they suggest that we should do nothing?
§ Sir A. MOND
Does the hon. and gallant Member actually deny the fact, which every economist will admit, that the country with an abnormally low exchange is receiving indirectly an enormous subsidy on exports. My hon. Friend surely will not deny a proposition which is to be found in every shilling text book 973 on political economy. And, after all, that is not what the quarrel is about. There is the ascertained economic effect, and what we are really disputing about is the method of dealing with that effect. I shall come to that in one or two moments, but the collapsed exchanges do enable these countries not only to export here, but to the world market at a great advantage. I have heard it argued by hon. Members, and I have held the view myself, that the best way of dealing with it is to do nothing. Lord Cunliffe's Committee, which sat in 1918, advised that nothing should be done and that the exchanges would rectify themselves. Now, in 1921, the exchanges are worse than they were in 1918.
§ Sir A. MOND
That is perfectly absurd. It has no more connection with foreign policy than it has with the moon and I cannot understand hon. Members taking that view.
§ Sir A. MOND
I do not understand that we are subsidising Austria. Even if that were so, I do not see how it affects the exchanges of France, Belgium and Italy. Really hon. Members might go a little more deeply into this subject. As I said, we have waited three years and there is no improvement. I am the last person in the world who would ask to artificially interfere in these matters, but I have deliberately come to the conclusion that that we cannot afford—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
Hon. Members have had an opportunity of putting forward their own arguments, and it is only fair they should listen to the other side of the case.
§ Sir A. MOND
I think I am entitled to speak on this subject, because it is one 974 to which I have devoted a good deal of anxious thought. This is not a conclusion I have come to lightly. I have come to it deliberately and with a view to what I consider the best interests of the country. I say again I do not think we can afford to go on indefinitely without any prospect of the exchanges becoming normal again. We cannot afford to allow the great staple industries of this country to remain out of commission. The hon. Member for Central Edinburgh rightly said that we depend very largely on our overseas trade. I would ask him how are you going to carry on an overseas trade if you cannot afford to manufacture at all? After all, overseas trade, taking a general estimate, is not more than 25 or 30 per cent. of the entire output of this country. If you have not got any home trade, you cannot afford to keep your factories running simply for overseas trade, and being in that position that your home trade comes to an end, your overseas trade would automatically follow suit. We are not dealing with the old economic arguments of Free Trade and Protection, but with a very special set of circumstances which we have none of us ever foreseen, and we are proposing a special remedy to meet it during the time it lasts. The hon. Member admits that in a sense, because he says, "Let us try the experiment for 12 months and see what happens." He is more sanguine than I am, because after waiting for three years I see no prospect of 12 months being long enough to achieve the object we all wish to see achieved, and that is the reestablishment of normal exchanges. We are merely providing a kind of breakwater; we are merely endeavouring, not to produce a tariff under which British manufacturers will be able to raise prices to an unreasonable extent, but a very moderate provision by which they may continue carrying on some business. The interests of industry are one, and I am quite prepared to argue in any hon. Member's constituency whether it is fair or beneficial to this country that owing to exceptional circumstances due to the War, owing to a state of exchange which we have never known in the history of any living man, we are to go on keeping our works shut down for an indefinite time in order to allow the natural economic processes free play. It is as if 975 you had a man who was very ill, with a temperature, and you stood at his bedside and said, "Let us see whether the fever will get the better of him or he will get the better of the fever." That may be an interesting thing to do, and, as long as the fever is not bad, it may be a good method of treatment, but when the patient is almost dying I would not like to be the responsible physician who stood there looking on at the contest and running the risk of the patient dying, if I had any means in my power of keeping the patient alive.
I would not stand at this box and advocate this Resolution in normal times, but it is the abnormality and difficulty of the circumstances which has driven me, most reluctantly, I candidly confess, but with perfect conviction, to think this is the right course to pursue. An hon. Member rather questioned a statement of mine the other day and instanced some fall in the index prices. Naturally, the fall in the world's prices will to some extent counteract the artificial increase in prices. The German Government have deliberately kept the price of corn low by enormous Government subsidies. They have been operating on a double principle. They have kept their internal wages down by keeping their food prices low by artificial subsidies. They have, on the other hand, by their enormous creation of paper currency, brought their exchange to a much worse point than it would otherwise have reached, and I have been informed from reliable sources that it is being deliberately done, and that that is the new economic war that the German people are waging. It is that sort of thing which rather upsets all ideas as to the exchanges getting normal. How can they, if the Germans deliberately set out to print more and more paper money to keep them down? There is no reason why they should ever get up. That is the situation with which you are faced.
§ Sir A. MOND
That suggestion has been made in various quarters in this country, but we want to deflate—to get our currency on a sound basis and our trade on a sound basis. If we want to do that, we must protect ourselves and follow on an entirely opposite course. 976 In reply to the observation of the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, the franc exchange is getting much better. France has adopted similar methods to this. So have the Americans, who have come to the conclusion that they cannot stand this competition of a depreciated exchange. They are taking the necessary steps to meet it. Why, then, should we bear the full burden and blast of all this in Great Britain? I say we cannot do it. Those who are interested in the revival of British industry and the reemployment of British labour cannot take the responsibility of adopting such a course. For myself, I am quite convinced that such a course is absolutely suicidal. Is it really contended that industry should remain idle, or is it contended that it is possible by bigger production or the biggest possible cuts in wages that can be made to meet the situation? I do not know whether hon. Members opposite are likely to come to the assistance of those who are wishful to get the biggest cuts in wages. I do not see how it is possible, even with a large number of the biggest industries in this country, to deal with this kind of competition we have to meet. It is all very well for the hon. Gentleman who spoke last to talk of the community.
Surely when you are faced with a peril of this kind, which is an exceptional peril, everyone must join in order to help. There is no class of the community that can stand aside idle. If hon. Members opposite say they do not care about these matters—well, where are we? Let me put it very seriously to hon. Members opposite. They know a good deal about manufactories. I do myself. There are three things that may take place. There is the closing of a factory. That is not merely a loss of capital, but there is also the degeneration of the works. There is a general fall in the value of the plant and machinery while it stands idle. There are many people out of work, which also means a continued loss of efficiency and loss of experience for a good many skilled men. These latter men instead of facing that may go to other countries where they can find employment.
§ Sir A. MOND
Certainly I do, or I would not be advocating it. I certainly think it will increase employment. It may 977 raise prices. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Certainly it will have the effect of raising prices. The lower level is entirely uneconomic. Of course it will raise prices. It is bound to do so. That is the object of it. If it does not do that there would be no point in it. I make a present of that to hon. Members opposite. Discuss it how you like. A field of industry going out of commission, steel works idle, rolling mills shut up—you can have all that and buy cheaper steel, or steel that is certainly a lower price owing to entirely artificial circumstances from other countries, or you can make that steel by supporting the industry in this country during the period while the exchanges are getting right. Nobody is advocating that this should be a permanent part of our legislation or of our fiscal system, but we say that under the special circumstances of to-day we cannot afford to allow great industries to go out of commission, capital to be withdrawn, and staffs to be disbanded. I cannot understand those engaged in industry taking that view. Germany has to buy cotton from America, and the bad rate of exchange affects her in purchasing cotton. If the Germans had all their raw material in their own country they could send cotton goods here at 50 per cent. less than they could be produced in Oldham, and I wonder what the hon. Member for Oldham would have to say to that.
§ Mr. A. HOPKINSON
Surely that argument applies to the German steel industry, inasmuch as they import a large amount of iron ore from France.
§ Sir A. MOND
They have a large amount of the raw material in their own country. I do not think it is denied that these goods are being sold at prices with which we cannot compete, and no hon. Member has yet shown that there is any method by which you can manufacture at those prices. Our industries are at a standstill, and we cannot afford to continue them standing idle. Surely it pays us better to give these industries a certain amount of assistance in order to keep them going.
§ Sir A. MOND
It is rather a remarkable thing an hon. Member being in favour of the coal trade having more and opposing anybody else having anything at all. That is simply Protection for yourselves and Free Trade for everybody else.
§ Sir A. MOND
I understand that the £10,000,000 offer still stands, and I have always understood that a great deal more would be very welcome. That is merely an argument for this particular treatment of a very difficult problem. I am not disguising the fact there may be legitimate differences of opinion on this subject, but I do think that those who differ from the Government proposal should address themselves not to the ones but to the practical position and should tell us how in their opinion we can solve this enormously complex question without incurring much danger, much unhappiness, and much misery for a large number of our fellow citizens and damaging the future of some of our greatest industries while encouraging greater developments than now exists in the industries of other countries. It will be said you are going to deny yourselves access to foreign markets, but if your home market ceases it will follow you will not produce for foreign markets. To allow this blow to be struck at the heart of an industry which is defenceless, not owing to incapacity of masters or men, not because its plant is out of date—for a great deal of the plant was built during the War—but simply owing to the financial exchange in regard to which they can do nothing either to assist or defend themselves—to take such a course is criminal to the great interests we have to safeguard and to the masses of men and women who are now walking the streets.
§ Mr. ACLAND
I will try to follow in the serious tone which has been adopted by the right hon. Gentleman, although I am not going to follow on his line of thought. I feel he is trying to use the particular case of Germany as justifying a general line of policy. I believe that 979 is false reasoning. The difficulties arising from the policy Germany is now pursuing are due much more to Germany's position with regard to the payment of the indemnity than to the fact that it is a country with a bad exchange. Then, as he very rightly says, the policy which Germany is pursuing is suicidal. But if that is so—and I think it is—why on earth need we take these precautions against Germany's suicide? [An HON. MEMBER: "It is killing our industries!"] A suicide is usually engaged in killing himself, but instead of suggesting that the German policy is murderous the right hon. Gentleman simply says it is suicidal. The policy of the Government is not so much intended to deal with Germany as with other nations from which we may be receiving goods and which have an unfavourable exchange so far as we are concerned. My right hon. Friend used the argument, I thought very naturally, that hon. Members on this side of the House were indulging in vague theories and generalities, and so on. That is precisely what my right hon. Friend has been doing, and I believe he knows it and admitted it in that splendid phrase of his, "Surely you must allow us to put forward remedies, even if they are in the nature of quack remedies." I will make only this complaint against him. If the position is as serious as he depicts, and if our steel trade and the very various and enormously important trades of that kind are really being ruined because of what we are receiving at the present time from countries having unstable rates of exchange compared with our own, what on earth is the good of trying to tinker with the thing by means of an all round 33⅓ per cent. tax? If he had gone into the question of the steel trade, which is not a question of Germany but Belgium and France, and if he had shown us that we should be able to hold up our heads against Belgium and French steel by a tariff of 33⅓ per cent., there would have been something to be said for the argument. He knows perfectly well, however, that so long as France and Belgium are getting their coal for nothing from Germany our steel trade will be helpless. They will be able to send in steel infinitely cheaper than anything we can produce here. That is the point, if the thing is so serious. This remedy is a quack 980 remedy. It is perfectly absurd to pretend that this all round 33⅓ per cent. duty is going to remedy this. The right hon. Gentleman is quite clever enough—being about the best economist on those Benches, which does not say much—to see absolutely, and that is why he used the phrase "quack remedy," that this course is absolutely tinkering with the thing and that it will do nothing at all.
It all comes back to the Amendment, and to the wisdom of reviewing the matter and seeing whether or not we have affected the collapsed exchanges at the end of a year's time by these methods. The case of Germany is a particularly special case which cannot be dealt with in this way. With regard to other countries, the only way to get the exchanges right is to ensure the maximum amount of trade in and out with the fewest possible restrictions of any sort at all. I do not believe that you will remedy the exchange with Belgium, Italy, and France by restricting trade. I do not believe we should remedy at all the rates of exchange between ourselves and the United States of America if they were to put up a tariff against our goods. [HON. MEMBERS: "They do it!"] Very well, a heavier tax. [HON. MEMBERS: "Just recently!"] Of course, they have their normal tariff against our goods. If they were to say, "We deliberately want to improve the English rate of exchange with ourselves, and therefore we are going to put on a special tariff for that purpose," I do not believe that there is a single hon. Member here who would stand up and say that that was really going to be a remedy for the difficulties of the exchange between the United States and ourselves. That is the argument to which hon. Members opposite must direct their attention, viz., that the method of putting on 33⅓ per cent. duty is a remedy, not for Germany, because Germany is a special case, but for unfavourable rates of exchange where they may exist all over the world. I invite my hon. Friends to deal with some of these terribly serious cases to which my right hon. Friend referred, and to indicate by some kind of argument that this 33⅓ per cent. duty is going to have any effect whatever.
§ Mr. A. HOPKINSON
I think the real error in the arguments of the Minister of Health is due to the fact that he suffers from what I may term the Haldanean heresy. He has pushed the theory of 981 relativity further than Einstein ever contemplated, for he endeavours to apply it beyond questions which are susceptible of mathematical proof, and therefore is betrayed into various errors. The first is this: He says that the German Government at present, by inflation of its currency, is deliberately reducing its rate of exchange to this country, and that it is possible to remedy that by the imposition of an Import Duty of 33⅓ per cent. Conceding for a moment that that argument is correct, what possible effect can the imposition of 33⅓ per cent. duty have in the case of a country whose Government is deliberately inflating its currency in order to get over the particular difficulties in which its own exporters are? Pre-supposing that we put on the 33⅓ per cent. duty, what is to prevent the printing presses of Germany from printing just a little more paper than at present? The right hon. Gentleman indeed does well, as the last speaker has said, to refer to the Government's remedy as a quack remedy; and it is a quack remedy of the most pernicious sort, because it is really increasing the trouble from the disease.
What is the real, fundamental cause of a very low rate of exchange as regards the German mark compared with our currency? The fundamental cause, and the one and only cause, is that in this country there are not enough German credits; that is to say, there are large English credits in Germany—not to speak of the Reparation credits—and there are not large enough German credits in England. The only possible way, in the long run, by which the rate of exchange can be brought up is by the existence and the increase of German credits in this country—either direct credits or indirect credits through other countries. The only possible way to get over the exchange difficulty with Germany is for English people to buy as much as they possibly can of German goods. It is not a pleasant remedy at all, and it is not a remedy in accordance with sentiment—the super-patriotic sentiment of which we hear so much on this side of the House; but it is actually the only remedy. I do trust that we shall be spared the farce of seeing the Labour party in this House voting still more times against Protection, because, if there is one thing that the Labour policy is based upon, it is Protection. Members of the Labour party, on this particular 982 point, state that this extension to five years, instead of keeping it at one year as they suggest, is going to give rise to great trade monopolies. What is the trade union movement but a Labour monopoly, just as pernicious as any commercial manufacturing monoply? I do hope that that farce will not be inflicted upon us much longer. Their duty, if they act up to their principles, is to go into the Lobby with the Government every time.
The Government, having, for reasons of their own, made some very foolish pledges at the General Election, are bound to bring in what the right hon. Gentleman has described as a quack remedy, and in order that we may see in what way the ultimate prosperity of this country is going to be damaged by this particular measure, it is essential that we should consider how in the long run the inhabitants of this island are going to earn their daily bread. We have an island in which there are practically no natural resources of any sort as compared with other countries. [HON. MEMBERS: "Coal!"] Our coal resources are absolutely nothing compared with the resources of coal in other countries; our iron resources are absolutely nothing compared with those of other countries. There is only one thing that we can live on in this country, and that is getting stuff—either raw material or semi-finished material—from other people, putting into it our brains, our energy, and our craftsmanship, selling it at a profit to a third party, and buying bread with the money. Nothing can get us away from that. It is the one way in which we can continue to exist and maintain a population of over 40,000,000 in these islands. Now here comes the Government, at a crisis like this, when we manufacturers and employers of labour in this country are endeavouring, by sacrifices ourselves, to save the working population of this country from the appalling privation that is threatening them—here, at every turn, we are hampered and thwarted by the Government. I do hope the right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Bench have really read, marked, learned and inwardly digested that remarkable letter from the bankers, because although the Minister of Health has told us it is owing to some problem of exchanges or the printing of paper money in Germany that 3,000,000 of our fellow 983 countrymen are out of employment. I deny it. It is due entirely to the fact that we are still living on our capital just as we did during the War, and living on our capital because this Government time after time invents new and ingenious devices for concealing from the people the actual facts. They have been feeding the dog on his own tail for two years since the Armistice, and we have got to the end of the tail now, and we are in the most appalling position this generation has ever seen. What is our remedy? Pre-supposing that yours is a quack remedy, and the right hon. Gentleman admits it, my remedy is that the only way we can re-establish prosperity and I believe the only way we can save large numbers of our fellow countrymen from actual starvation in the coming winter is to live on our income and not on our capital, that is to say, not to endeavour to pay wages and make profits on a higher basis than it is possible for the economic situation of this country to pay. The right hon. Gentleman refers to the steel trade as an example. He says it is due to these pernicious Germans printing too much paper money that we cannot compete with the Germans. It is due to nothing of the sort. It is due to the fact that we cannot produce steel at a reasonable price because we pay colliers, steel men, and blast furnace men too much wages.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
They are obliged to charge large wages for their services for the simple reason that the Government, through its taxation, has taken away the capital of the country and squandered it and therefore the wages of capital have gone up just as the wages of labour have gone up. That is the essential fact, that we are endeavouring still, even at this crisis, to live at a rate that we cannot afford to live at. We are endeavouring to live at a very much higher standard of living than that of 1914, and one moment's real solid consideration, apart from politics and General Election pledges and that sort of nonsense, will convince even the Government that we cannot, after five years of destruction and non-production, expect to have the same standard of living as before, and the sooner the working classes realise it and understand 984 it the better, because it is utterly impossible, until that is realised and the difficulty is out of the way, no matter what we do in the sacrifice of profits and working as employers for absolutely nothing, or even at a loss, to save them from privation and starvation. I blame the Government for protracting these conditions for over five years, for endeavouring to persuade the people, that is to say, the voters, that if they maintain this Government in power it will always stand between them and the action of economic law. The game is up. You are shown up, and it is too late to go on any longer. For Heaven's sake let the Government be honest about these things, and let it help us really to see the situation and see the appalling privation that has already begun among our fellow-countrymen who are less fortunate than ourselves. Let it get out of the way and allow us to do our best to save our fellow-countrymen.
Sir W. BARTON
The speech which we have heard from the Minister of Health was the most extraordinary, coming from a past-master of political economy that ever was delivered in this House. A great leader in this department of thought, he is the only Liberal Member of the Government who has been put forward to sustain the brunt of this very objectional proposal. He has my sympathy. What, apparently, was his case? He represented the condition of industry in this country as being sick unto death. That is true. In a former speech he spoke of our condition industrially as being that of a business bankrupt. That is true. Then he went on, in language almost offensive, to suggest that we on this side of the House were regardless and ignorant of the condition of things, and had no regard for the employment of those who look to us for employment. That part of his speech was unworthy of any minister of the British Crown. He represented the patient as in a very dangerous condition, and said: "You propose to do nothing; we propose to do something." He sees a dangerous condition he does not know what to do, but he does something, almost at the same time admitting that he doubts whether what he is going to do is right. He represented the condition as that of a high fever, a high temperature. If that is the condition of the patient the Government's policy may be right, but 985 that is not the condition of the patient. The condition is one of deep depression and anæmia in which you require to provide some strengthening force.
You talk about exchange as if it were something that had only one end. When you view exchanges you must view both ends. The right hon. Gentleman said—and it was one of the strongest sentences in his speech "What we want is to see exchanges restored."
Sir W. BARTON
What you are doing will depress the exchanges. If your policy means anything at all it means that you are entering upon a vicious circle. You are going to depress the exchanges, and that being so, logically you must increase your 33⅓ per cent. duty until you have a condition of exchange depreciated as it never could be apart from your policy; and on the other hand you will have a protective tariff which will make international trade totally impossible. You challenge us to say what we would do. Reference has been made to the very important manifesto issued by the experts in economics and finance in this country. The right hon. Gentleman in a former speech derided the bankers of this country; scoffed at them. I prefer the opinion of those experts than the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman which I formerly regarded as exceedingly valuable.
§ Sir A. MOND
The hon. Member naturally prefers the opinion of people who agree with him to the opinion of those people who disagree with him.
Sir W. BARTON
Naturally I agree with people who agree with me. If I did not, I could not be sincere in my beliefs. That manifesto told you in plain words that the most important remedy was economy in national expenditure. It told you that these foreign adventures of yours are one of the main reasons for the unemployment in this country. You lay all these things aside, and you want to build up barriers which will not help exchange or trade, but will make things worse, and will give no promise of retrenchment in the desperate expenditure you are incurring in the nation's name. I venture to say the one thing that will help exchange is the effective co-operation of the richer countries of the world 986 with those which have been most impoverished by the War. I do not say this country is in a position to give great credits abroad, but to the extent of our power that is the only way in which we can improve the exchanges of the world.
Free Trade and Protection, we are told repeatedly, does not come within this argument, but the extraordinary thing is that whenever the occupants of the Front Bench opposite speak, you can detect the traces of it in their arguments. The right hon. Gentleman instanced steel, and he said, "Are you going to allow your steel works to go out of commission?" Are you going to allow your shipbuilding to go out of commission? Then he took the case of cotton, and he quite unfairly said I was in some privileged position. If he knows anything at all, he knows that the one trade in the country which has been losing desperately in the last few months is the cotton trade. But I pass from that, because I regret it as a most unfortunate thing that trade after trade should be brought up in this House as a matter of special interest. Our interest is with the whole trade. Our interest is to help the international trade of the world, and when the right hon. Gentleman instances steel, and says Germany is in a favoured position in connection with that, I wonder where he got his information. Will he tell me what proportion of ore which Germany uses in steel works is obtained in Germany? I ask the right hon. Gentleman. He seems to be asking somebody else. Why should a Minister of the Crown make a statement of that kind without knowing? Then he passed from that to a doctrine entirely uneconomical. He talked as if it were possible in the same country for the same commodity to have two prices—one for that part of the production which was based on ore obtained from the country, and another for imported ore. The right hon. Gentleman knows that that was the most superficial argument of all. I am glad this Amendment was put down limiting this to one year. I should have preferred one month, but I shall support one year as being less harmful than the proposal of the Government.
§ Major M. WOOD
The speech by the Minister of Health a few minutes ago makes one wonder how it was that the right hon. Gentleman ever called himself a Free Trader. Listening to him one 987 would have thought that Germany won the War because Germany seems now to be in possession of the markets of the world. He says that the collapsed exchange of Germany means a subsidy for Germany. Does the right hon. Gentleman forget that although the collapsed exchange may give Germany a little advantage in exports she gets a corresponding disadvantage when she imports, and that Germany is almost as large an importing country as ourselves, and was even more so last year I understand? Surely the right hon. Gentleman must realise that that is bound to take away all the advantage that there may be on the other side, and, indeed, if there is any advantage in the collapsed exchange, every other country can have a similar advantage by the expedient of depreciating her currency as all the Allies say Germany has done. Suppose we pass a Bill based on these Resolutions and prevent goods coming from Germany to this country the goods will go to other parts of the world and undersell us because, owing to the fact that we have deprived ourselves of cheap material, we shall be unable to manufacture as cheaply as the German. Therefore we shall not have a look in the neutral markets of the world. That is bound to be the result of any such legislation as this.
Apart altogether from the merits of the proposal which we are discussing, this Amendment would simply give the House power to review the whole question every year. This is merely in the nature of a tariff, and there are other tariff duties which have been imposed in the last year or two. Everyone of these duties comes up year after year for review. Why should there be an exception in this particular case? That is not a question which goes to the merits of the case at all. We are, whether united or not, embarking on a new policy. When we see it in working it is bound to show a great number of things which we do not anticipate, and it is right that year by year we should have an opportunity of reviewing the working of it during the previous year and reimposing or not reimposing it or reimposing it under different conditions. All we ask is that Parliament, when it makes a great departure of this kind, should not tie its hands in such a way that it would be difficult for it to correct any particular mistakes which may have been 988 made in the initial stages, and that can be obtained by a provision which will compel this House to consider it every year and review it in all its aspects as far as we can. Therefore I support this Amendment.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
We are inclined, I think, to treat these Resolutions which are before us rather lightly on these Benches, being under the impression that many of them are so ridiculous that it could not really be the intention of the Government ever to pass them into law. We have allowed the thing to go on, and we are almost grateful to the Government for having put up the Minister of Health to recall us to the realities of the position. It is very real. I have sat in this House with the right hon. Gentleman for sixteen years. I know his views we have worked together. His speech to-night has come as the most unpleasant shock I have received in my Parliamentary career. It is not that he is stating views with which we do not agree, but that I always thought that he was an absolute type of honest politician, and that to-night, if it is not unparliamentary for me to say so, I should think that his speech was deliberately dishonest.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I withdraw. It is rather difficult to express what I think about the right hon. Gentleman. I would point out to him that for his speech he received the cheers, the somewhat contemptuous cheers, of the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Terrell), and that he was received by people who have hitherto been his best friends with a sense of outrage and contempt with which he was never before met in this House. I ask him, Was it worth it?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
It was not merely that the right hon. Gentleman was using arguments which I believe he knew to be unsound, but it seemed to me that he was actually, one might say, committing a sin against the Holy Ghost. He was using his great brains, turning to the Labour party, in trying to deceive them as to what this Measure is. He said to them, almost with tears in his voice, "Would you allow the unfortunate 989 unemployed to starve when by merely passing this Measure you could give them employment?" He must have heard that argument very often before. There are still some people in this House who believe in it and use it. I have heard it on every Tariff Reform platform and so has he: "Vote Tariff Reform and stop unemployment." Tariff Reform was to provide two jobs for one man and to clear the black bluebottles out of the butchers' shops, and no one was more energetic in denouncing that sort of pseudo-argument than the right hon. Gentleman. It is not as though the right hon. Gentleman was the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has never understood Tariff Reform or Free Trade, but the right hon. Gentleman does. He descends to the use of that argument across the floor of the House in order to try to deceive men who, he thinks, have not had the same amount of political economic education as he has had. That is a mean thing to do. Will the right hon. Gentleman go on to the platform and use that argument to uneducated crowds of electors just as any second-rate or tenth-rate Tariff Reform orator used to do? He knows as well as we do, even the despised Labour Members to whom he tries to speak down, that every ship you stop coming to this country means the stopping of two ships going out from this country loaded with goods. He knows quite well that these proposals will not merely send up prices—that he admits—but that they will kill our export trade exactly to the extent that they stop imports coming into this country. He knows quite well all the arguments in favour of the balance of trade, yet he comes to the House and, with a sob, tells the stupid, idiotic Labour Members who cannot understand what he means. "You vote Protection, in order to provide more employment for the honest, stupid, English working man." Let him try that argument in Germany. He seems very anxious about the German exchange. He believes that Germany is deliberately reducing her exchange in order to benefit her export trade. I wonder why every other country does not do likewise. It is so simple—like furnishing on the hire system. Then he refers with contempt to the Report of Lord Cunliffe's Committee. "These bankers," he says in effect, "do not understand their business, but I do." Lord Cunliffe's Committee 990 reported that the exchange could only be restored provided the countries incurred no further indebtedness. The use of the printing press to create more money has brought about further indebtedness, and this use of the printing press was then held to be one of the causes of breaking the exchanges. Lord Cunliffe's remedy was increased production, reduced indebtedness, and greater economy. Increased indebtedness is exactly what has been going on in Germany, and the right hon. Gentleman must know quite well that Germany is raising in revenue just one-third of her national expenditure. Consequently they have to use the printing press to make up the deficit. France is doing the same thing, but neither France nor Germany is deliberately using the printing press to encourage their export trade. They are not seized with some wild-cat scheme to send down their own currency in order to employ their own working people. They are driven to do it by stern necessity. This Resolution will make it more difficult for these people to restore their exchange, and will make it still necessary for them to export their goods at all costs, in order to get anything into their countries. It will not only increase prices in this country, but will increase unemployment as well. There is not a man in this House who, if he thought Tariff Reform would increase employment, would not be in favour of Tariff Reform, but we know perfectly well it will leave employment exactly where it is, and at the same time increase prices, and thereby reduce the purchasing power of the mass of the people. That is why we oppose Tariff Reform.
Let us consider this Resolution in detail. The Board of Trade, of course, is to decide what goods are to be kept out of this country or are to be charged with the 33⅓ per cent. duty. Among others there are to be all goods sent hereat prices which, by reason of depreciation in the Value in relation to sterling of the currency of the country in which the goods are manufactured, are below the prices at which similar goods can be profitably manufactured in the United Kingdom.I like the word "profitably." One of the countries with the worst possible exchange is Russia. I really do not know what the Bolshevik rouble is at, but it is almost out of history altogether. Obviously the immediate result of passing this must 991 be to prohibit any sort of produce coming from Russia. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] I do not know what other reading can be given to this Resolution. [AN HON. MEMBER: "We do not buy manufactured goods from Russia!] How about timber? All sawn timber, even logs, will be included. The immediate result of passing the Bill which will be based on these Resolutions is to stop all export from Russia into this country. About two months ago we decided to trade with Russia and now we are deciding that Russian trade is to be shut down.
These constant changes of policy by the Government are becoming almost a bad habit. Russia, with the worst possible exchange, has a neighbour, Poland. In Poland the mark, which used to be 20 to the £, is now 3,500 to the £, a country with a paper currency where the paper currency has been produced to perfection the production of paper money is almost the only constructive, productive work in Poland at the present time. Poland is an Ally. Are you deliberately going to say to the Poles, "You shall send nothing into this country without a 33⅓ per cent. duty"? Then look at Sweden. Sweden during the War did not come into the War, but came in sentimentally to a considerable extent. They were about as pro-German as any country which was not fighting against us, and Sweden incidentally did very well out of the War and are doing fairly well out of the War, and their exchange is normal to an extent to which ours is not. We are therefore to allow all Swedish goods to come in free and put a heavy duty on all goods from Poland, Finland, and from Norway, which, of the Scandinavian countries, supported us during the War to the best of their ability. I think also Spanish goods will come in free, and those of Holland, America, and Sweden, but all the other nations will have to pay duty.
Really, this scheme has only to be put before the public to be laughed out of court. It is no wonder they had to put up the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health to defend this scheme in the House; they could not find a single other Minister who would have the face to do it. This is a scheme that is put before this House at half-past eleven the Debate started at 10, and we are to debate it all night, without any press, without any 992 public in the galleries, without any chance of the people in the country realising what the Minister of Health really is and why it was necessary to employ him, and we are asked to rush this Bill through in this way. I can only hope that this quick-change Government, which changes its politics on Russia, on German reparations, and on every economic question, will change its politics again, and rapidly come back to a saner idea of what is possible to be done for the benefit of the people of this country and to reduce unemployment. The right hon. Gentleman has given us a very unpleasant nightmare. May I suggest to him that in future he uses his great talents, not to try to mislead people who are not likely to be misled in 1921, after having had this controversy dinned into their ears for 20 years, but to convert capitalists to a saner idea of what the trade of this country is We want the greatest production of goods in this country. It is no good hoping by hitting the laws of political economy and the natural laws on the head to make things better in an emergency. The laws of political economy hold good, not only in normal times, but also in emergencies, and if you try to cast to the winds all the sound doctrines in an emergency, when this patient of whom he speaks so feelingly has a high fever, you might just as well take your fevered patient outside and throw a bucket of water over him, in the hope that that might cure him of his fever. I would advise the right hon. Gentleman and the Government to stick to what they know, and to that of which the country has had experience, rather than fly to all the quack remedies of the world which the Minister of Health can try to impose on the Cabinet.
§ Mr. FRANCE
In spite of the lateness of the hour, and the absence of the Press and the public, I think this matter is of sufficient importance to debate a little further in view of the extraordinary speech of the Minister of Health. I do not know whether he made that speech in the capacity of Minister of Health, or as special counsel engaged for the occasion, but if he made it as Minister of Health, I hope none of his medical advisers were under the Gallery to listen to his suggested treatment of his patient. To what did his speech amount? That if any country is prepared in any way to enable 993 their exporters to send goods to this country cheaply that is an evil which must be checked. It is a matter of degree. I remember the right hon. Gentleman in days of old. I remember his speeches at the beginning of the 1910 Parliament. I wondered the other day why he depreciated our looking up those speeches, why he thought that was a form of debate that was not desirable, and why speeches of the past should not be referred to. My curiosity was aroused, and I turned up the Debates at the beginning of the Session of 1910, when the right hon. Gentleman who now leads the House brought forward the proposition that unemployment was rife in this country, that foreign countries were paying low wages, working long hours, and by all sorts of unfair means seeking to send goods to this country below the cost at which we could manufacture them. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, who was then an hon. Member without title and without office, rose to reply, and he said:I can only say I dread the day when the business affairs of this country will be put into the hands of those who make such wild and ridiculous statements as to how commerce should be carried on."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd February, 1910; col. 323, Vol. 14.]The day has come, and with it has come the right hon. Gentleman to defend the "wild and ridiculous statements," and course of action against which ten years ago he so strongly protested. The right hon. Gentleman the other day asked, were we living in Bedlam? Those who live in that state always imagine that others around them are insane and that they alone are the sane persons. We do appear to have come to the very state the right hon. Gentleman foresaw would happen when persons who held views such as he has advocated to-night were in office and carried them into effect. He said another thing which I thing applies admirably to the situation, and I hope he will excuse these interesting extracts from the past:If we business men are only left alone to carry on our business, this year  will be a record year in English trade. Anxiety is a characteristic of protectionists—The right hon. Gentleman is full of anxiety—Decaying industries are their favourite occupation. Bad trade is their panacea.Now the right hon. Gentleman is surrounded by those who believe in Tariff 994 Reform and tariffs, and we have got the bad trade.
§ Mr. FRANCE
I know we have got bad trade, and I will come in a minute to one or two of the causes. But because we have got bad trade, this is the time when these gentlemen who were to take charge of our commerce attempt the ridiculous things which the right hon. Gentleman foresaw would happen. Asked what his policy would be, the right hon. Gentleman said at the time:Our policy is founded on broad principles, not of hatred of the foreigner, not of parochialism, but on the much bigger principle of national exchange to the commerce of this country in the markets of the world.The right hon. Gentleman asks me if we have not got bad trade. We have, but as a member of this Ministry I think the right hon. Gentleman must take some share of the responsibility. Has the foreign policy of the country, has the finance of the country, has the expenditure of the country, has the handling of industrial problems in this country nothing to do with bad trade? The right hon. Gentleman says our trade is a very sick person—a body which is afflicted of a fever. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman of the story of the boy who went to the registrar of deaths to register a death, and when the registrar asked him who it was he wanted to register, the boy replied, "my father." When the Registrar asked the boy when his father died, the boy replied, "He is not dead yet." The Registrar rebuked him for trying to register the death of a person who was not yet dead. "But," replied the boy, "I know he is going to die before morning. The doctor says so, and he knows what he has given him." When the right hon. Gentleman speaks of our trade being in such a desperate condition I think he must recognise some responsibility for the medicine the Government have given to the country for its needs, industrial and financial, during the past few years.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
The successful commercial career of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health, and his long study of economic subjects, make any speech which he delivers in this House carry great weight, but I am sure every hon. Member in approaching this sub- 995 ject is only anxious to find out the true facts, and for this country to shape a policy which will be of undoubted advantage to the people of the whole country We join issue with the right hon. Gentleman when he suggests that those on these benches are less anxious to secure employment for our people than he who brings forward this Resolution this evening, and I am anxious to challenge the main argument advanced by the right hon. Gentleman. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman is this, that a depreciated currency helps the export trade of a country, so, therefore, an appreciated currency would be a disadvantage. I think I have stated correctly the main argument. May I say that when the subject was first raised in this House, and outside, the tendencies of my mind coincided with those of the right hon. Gentleman, but when I came to look into the facts of the case I was forced to change my view. I found—and I will give one or two figures to show—that every country last year whose exchanges stood high had a very large export trade, much larger than their trade before the War. I have taken some trouble to-day to find out the export trade figures for two countries. Take the case of Sweden. In 1913 her export trade amounted to 817,000,000 kroner. She has an appreciated currency and therefore her export trade ought to be handicapped according to the theory of the right hon. Gentleman. But I find that in 1920 her export trade was 2,293,000,000 kroner—representing nearly a three-fold increase on the trade of 1913. Again, take Denmark. The House is aware that her currency is greatly appreciated. Her exports in 1913 amounted to £35,412,000, in 1920 the amount of her export trade was £87,500,000. I am anxious to find out the real facts, and I am sure all hon. Members desire to approach this subject with a view to ascertaining the truth. If the facts I have mentioned are correct then they vitiate the main argument of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Sir A. MOND
I do not want to interrupt my hon. Friend, but surely he must take into account the enormous increase in values.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I have information on that point. Take Denmark, for in- 996 stance. I agree there is force in the contention, and in the inquiries I prosecuted this morning I devoted attention to that point. In the figures submitted in the monthly statistics of the Supreme Economic Council for Denmark the wholesale prices are not given but the retail are, and the retail prices so far as I have been able to find out have increased in 1920 as compared with 1913 by two-and-a-half times. It will be seen therefore that the export trade of Denmark shows a higher percentage increase. Take Sweden. There the prices have increased three and-half times. I agree that the export trade has only increase three-fold. I could give other figures to illustrate the point I am anxious to put to the right hon. Gentleman, i.e., that a country which has a depreciated currency cannot month by month or year by year continue to have a great export trade. The whole experience of history shows that, with a country with a depreciated currency, uncertainty is created. My right hon. Friend knows well that certainty leads to trade uncertainty creates trade depression. A depreciated currency creates uncertainty and so creates bad trade. The right hon. Gentleman told the House, with truth, of the serious unemployment in this country. No one denies it, but is a time when trade is bad a time to gamble with our fiscal system? When this country is facing—and I believe will face successfully—the gravest financial crisis in her history, the right hon. Gentleman comes to this House, and, with all his great authority, asks this country to change her fiscal system. I ask him to find a dozen men in this country who will come forward and support his decision. That manifesto, which has already been referred to, issued about a fortnight ago, signed by bankers and the leading members of the City of London, was one of the most striking issued in this country during the last 20 years. Those men are not tied to any party; they are not supporters of the Free Trade or Tariff Reform unions; they are only men working day by day and anxious for this country to secure her position again in the markets of the world. When they see that the Government, as they honestly think, are taking the wrong course they have come forward, and, with all their weight of authority and influence, they ask this House and the country to turn from these absurd proposals and stick to that policy which has saved this 997 country in bygone days. Words cannot be too strong, and I have no desire to use a single strong word on an economic subject, but I do appeal to the House that, if these figures I have mentioned contain within them these germs of truth, or if other figures can be mentioned to show that the main economic argument advanced by the Minister of Health is unsound and cannot stand argument in this House, they will appeal to the Government, irrespective of party, to put on one side all party considerations and ask the Government once more if they are quite sure that the proposals which they ask this House to adopt are for the ultimate benefit of the people of this country.
Mr. T. THOMSON
The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health, in excusing the policy he suggests, laid special stress on the need of the steel industry. I would like the House to consider whether the real effect of the policy he has suggested will be for the benefit or for the hurt of the large iron and steel industries of the country. He seemed to suggest that, if this duty were put on, the goods which might be coming in would be excluded. If we grant that, where does the right hon. Gentleman think those goods will go? Those goods are being manufactured in France, and Belgium, and Germany, where they have a depreciated currency. According to his figures, they are able to sell them at a much better price than you are able to produce them in this country. He says: "Put on this tariff." The suggestion is that they will not come here. Where will they go? They will go into the world's markets, to the neutral countries, and our manufacturers of iron and steel products will have to face exactly the same competition, only it will be in the neutral market instead of here. I do not want to generalise, but let me give one or two illustrations from the district which I have the honour to represent. In the North of England, before the War, large quantities were received, and smaller quantities are received now, of Belgian billets, because they can be obtained, as they were before the War, at a lower price than that at which our steel manufacturers can make them themselves. They are rolled out into wire, rods, and the other products of our mills 998 on the North-East Coast. If you exclude those billets, what happens? They go into neutral countries, on account of their low price; they are rolled out by our competitors into the same forms—wire, rods and shapes; and we in this country, not being able to buy the cheap foreign semi-finished product, are unable to compete with the same wire, rods and shapes in the neutral markets. Therefore, although you may exclude these goods, you also exclude our manufacturers from competing in neutral market with these same materials. Instead of making less unemployment, you are creating unemployment, because you are stopping the finishing mill, which employs many more hands in rolling out the material than you can find work for on the cruder forms of the billet or the bloom.
Only last week a manufacturer rang me up to know what was going to be the effect of this Bill. He wanted to buy Belgian tin bars to roll into sheets, and he wanted to make a big contract. If he could not get this material his sheet mills would stand idle. To keep it out is simply to close the mills of the sheet manufacturers, who, as the President of the Board of Trade knows only too well from his own practical experience, are dependent largely upon these cheap semi-manufactured products which come from abroad. It would be all very well to say that this would make employment if we were a self-contained nation, but we are dependent very largely on the markets of the world. As a manufacturing nation we require more than anything else to buy in the cheapest markets, and to exclude these cheaper products will be, in effect, to reduce employment and not to increase it. I do ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider carefully whether there was not soundness and truth in the gospel that he used to preach not so many years ago, when he told us that the manufacturers of this country depended upon getting the cheapest goods that the world could supply, in order that they might put labour into them and send them back into the markets of the world. Surely everyone knows that infinitely more labour is employed on the more highly finished article than on the crude article. The cheaper and cruder the article, the less the labour the more highly finished the article, the greater 999 the labour. We have gained our supremacy in the past by concentrating, not on the cheaper article, which employs little labour, but by concentrating and developing our industries on those more highly finished products, which employ so much more labour than the others. It is in that way that we have built up our large iron and steel industries. I beg the Government not to sacrifice that which has been built up at a tremendous cost, or, at any rate, by accepting this Amendment, to limit to one year the damage that is going to be done.
§ 12 M.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Last night we sat to a late hour discussing the granting of credits to the amount of some £26,000,000 to foster overseas trade with foreign countries, and particularly with those countries in which the exchanges are collapsed. To-night we are going to undo the work of the Department of Overseas Trade by preventing trade with those very countries—and then the Government expect us to retain our respect and admiration for their qualities! That, I suppose, as an hon. Member near me says, is the result of coalition. In February we had the Prime Minister answering a full-dress attack on the Government's whole policy on the ground of the creation of unemployment, and saying that the great object in Europe was to restore trade and commerce between countries. That was long before the coal strike, and unemployment then, and the discontent consequent upon it, were alarming. In February the Prime Minister was talking about good Christianity being good business, and saying that we must enter into closer relationship with our neighbours, forget the effects of the War, and right the exchanges through the natural channel of the exchange between the various countries of the goods which each can make best. To-night we have the Minister of Health throwing overboard all that doctrine of the Prime Minister, and preaching the old Tariff Reform slop, which the country turned down 20 years ago, and will turn down again as soon as it has the opportunity.
We have hardly heard a word about paragraph (a) of this extraordinary Resolution. The Minister of Health dealt at length with the exchanges, but he did not 1000 touch on the question of dumping. Was that because the case cannot really be argued?
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Everybody knows that the manufacturers of the world—the United States, Holland, Denmark, and elsewhere—are forced to dump, because they have to realise money on their stocks to meet overdrafts at their bankers. The Americans are dumping goods upon us at under cost price. Especially is that the case in regard to coal, and that is one of the reasons for the present crisis in the coal industry. Is that an unhealthy process? Are you to prevent people sending goods to us at under the cost of production? Is not that increased wealth, if you can afford to buy them? Suppose we were supplied free with steel plate to the utmost of our requirements for the next five years. We may be it is very likely under the indemnity. Would that be a disaster for this country? Would it not mean that we could make agricultural machinery, locomotives, ships, and every thing into which steel enters, at cheaper rates than our neighbours, and stand a very good chance of cutting them in the markets of the world? If that is the case with regard to a free gift of steel from abroad, why should we not admit goods that mostly play a part in other manufactures, and take advantage of the fact that we have a good exchange?
I was astonished to hear the Minister of Health congratulating the German manufacturers on the low value of the mark. He spoke of it as a subsidy to the German manufacturers, and the advantage it gave them over the British manufacturers. Does he really mean to follow out that logic and to say that it would be an advantage to our manufacturers if the £ went down in value in comparison with the dollar and the franc? If he says that the German manufacturers really gain by having the mark at 240 or 250 to the £ it would be quite easy to follow their example. All the Government have to do is to spend more money than there is revenue, keep the printing presses going, keep larger armies, enlist more men in the Defence Force, 1001 and draw more and more men from industry and put them on non-productive work. The British exchange would soon go down. Since the coal stoppage our exchange has depreciated. We have only to follow the policy of the last few years, and then there will be no need of these restrictions.
Why does not the Government seriously set about depreciating the exchange by inflation? Why not increase the unemployment dole to £10 a week? Why not double the pay of Government employés? You could do it, and then down would go the exchange, and we could compete with the beaten Germans. One would really think, to hear the right hon. Gentleman, that the result of our sacrifices and the effect of our victory have been to put the German manufacturers in a much better position than our own. That is utterly wrong. German imports are much in excess of her exports, and with the exchange at 240 or 250, it means that Germany has to pay heavily for the things she must get from abroad—nitrates, oils, petroleum, wool, cotton, rubber, etc., high-grade ores from Sweden, and so on. For these things she has to pay through the nose because of the exchange, and in consequence the German middle and working classes have to be ground to the bone, and their whole standard of living reduced, while they are almost in rags. The prosperity of 1913–14 has disappeared, as any of the right hon. Gentleman's commercial travellers who go to Germany will tell him. German exports in 1920 and in the first few months of the year, compared with 1913–14, are down, even on the inflated value of goods. They are hundreds of millions below the pre-War figure, if you allow for the increased value over pre-War. What is the use of the right hon. Gentleman solemnly standing at that table and telling us with the great authority that he wields in this House that the German manufacturers are subsidised because the German exchange is worse than the British exchange? The thing is ridiculous. If you ask an Italian, a Frenchman, or the trader of any country which suffers from a poor exchange, they will tell you that the exchange hits them very hard. When the French Finance Ministers or any other French Minister speaks they emphasise the importance of improving the exchange. They advocate economy to their people, 1002 and greater production and increase of exports in order to improve the exchange. Then the right hon. Gentleman talks about the advantage to foreign manufacturers because the exchange is against them. The whole thing is futile. Why does the right hon. Gentleman not admit that he is paying the price of a seat in a Coalition Cabinet? Why does he not say, honestly, that he has surrendered to the Protectionist wing of the Cabinet?
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Then the right hon. Gentleman is past praying for. If he really thinks that the arguments with which he advocated this second Resolution will hold water before business men in this country, then Heaven help him. The War must have upset all his economic ideas. He is suffering from the effects of the War. I only wish it was possible for the right hon. Gentleman to keep out of economic controversy until the effects of the War have worn off. It is pitiable. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman realises the tremendous importance of shipping. In representing a port, I say, for anything that interferes with imports and exports should be resented to the utmost. If we have a key industry in this country it, surely, is our merchant shipping, and our shipping is going to suffer. There is great unemployment in all our ports to-day, and it is on the increase. There is a terrible slump in shipping, and this ridiculous legislation is going to make it worse.
The first thing, of course, is that while we are preaching to these new States of Europe—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"]—while we are preaching to the Czechoslovaks—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"]—we will divide very shortly, preaching to these rising States the morality and the virtue of breaking down their ridiculous tariff barriers—I only heard the Lord President of the Council and the Secretary for Foreign Affairs on the matter a while ago—we in our time are introducing these artificial embargoes. Again, it has not been mentioned, nor does the attention of the Minister seem to have been directed to the meetings of his own experts with the French, the German, the Italian, and the Allied experts at Brussels a year ago. They there considered the whole question of the financial difficulties of Europe, and they advocated 1003 —when they asked for their remedy for the present state of affairs—peace, economy, reduction of expenditure on armaments, and, above all, the greatest possible freedom of trade between the countries. The Brussels Committee of experts was set up by the Allied Governments and the ex-enemy countries to consider the financial situation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] On the top of that
§ what is the use of introducing a Resolution like this? The least we can do is to limit its operation to 12 months.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN (Leader of the House)
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 177; Noes, 59.1005
|Division No. 134.]||AYES.||[12.13 a.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Gee, Captain Robert||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Goff, Sir R. Park||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Gould, James C.||Pratt, John William|
|Atkey, A. R.||Green, Albert (Derby)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Rae, H. Norman|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Greer, Harry||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Greig, Colonel James William||Reid, D. D.|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Gretton, Colonel John||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar (Banff)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Rodger, A. K.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Hallwood, Augustine||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Bigland, Alfred||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Seddon, J. A.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Shaw, Capt. William T. (Forfar)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Hood, Joseph||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Howard, Major S. G.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Briggs, Harold||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Hurd, Percy A.||Stevens, Marshall|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Casey, T. W.||Jephcott, A. R.||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)||Kidd, James||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Chamberlain, N (Birm., Ladywood)||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Lindsay, William Arthur||Waddington, R.|
|Clough, Robert||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Lorden, John William||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir H.C. (P'nrith)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||M'Curdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Cope, Major William||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Macquisten, F. A.||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Matthews, David||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Dennis, J. W. (Birmingham, Deritend)||Morrison, Hugh||Wise, Frederick|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Murchison, C. K.||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Fildes, Henry||Nall, Major Joseph||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Neal, Arthur||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Forrest, Walter||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Praser, Major Sir Keith||Parker, James||Dudley Ward.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.||Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Briant, Frank|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Cairns, John|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Spencer, George A.|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Kiley, James Daniel||Swan, J. E.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lunn, William||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Gillis, William||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Glanville, Harold James||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Mills, John Edmund||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbrdge)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wintringham, Thomas|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Rendall, Athelstan||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Hirst, G. H.||Rose, Frank H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Holmes, J. Stanley||Royce, William Stapleton||Mr. George Thorne and Mr.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)||Arthur Henderson.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted."1006
§ The House divided: Ayes, 64; Noes, 173.1007
|Division No. 135]||AYES.||[12.21 a.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hartshorn, Vernon||Royce, William Stapleton.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hayday, Arthur||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hirst, G. H.||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Holmes, J. Stanley||Spencer, George A.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Swan, J. E.|
|Briant, Frank||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Cairns, John||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Cape, Thomas||Kiley, James Daniel||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Lunn, William||Waterson, A. E.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbrdge)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Matthews, David||Wintringham, Thomas|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Mills, John Edmund||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)|
|Gillis, William||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Rae, H. Norman||Mr. Arthur Henderson and Mr.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Rendall, Athelstan||George Thorne.|
|Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Greenwood, William (Stockport)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Greer, Harry|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Churchman, Sir Arthur||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Atkey, A. R.||Clough, Robert||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hallwood, Augustine|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Harris, Sir Henry Percy|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Cope, Major William||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar (Banff)||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Hood, Joseph|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Dennis, J. W. (Birmingham, Deritend)||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Howard, Major S. G.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Fildes, Henry||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Ford, Patrick Johnston||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Forrest, Walter||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil).|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)|
|Briggs, Harold||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Kidd, James|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Gee, Captain Robert||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)|
|Casey, T. W.||Goff, Sir R. Park||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Gould, James C.||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.|
|Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Green, Albert (Derby)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)|
|Lorden, John William||Raper, A. Baldwin||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Loseby, Captain C. E.||Reid, D. D.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir H.C. (P'nrith)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Waddington, R.|
|McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Rodger, A. K.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Morrison, Hugh||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Seddon, J. A.||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Murchison, C. K.||Shaw, Capt. William T. (Forfar)||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Nall, Major Joseph||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Neal, Arthur||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)||Wise, Frederick|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Stanton, Charles Butt||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Steel, Major S. Strang||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Parker, James||Stevens, Marshall||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Sutherland, Sir William||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Pratt, John William||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Thorpe, Captain John Henry||McCurdy.|
|Rankin, Captain James Stuart||Townley, Maximilian G.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ The House proceeded to a Division.
§ Sir DONALD MACLEAN
(seated and covered): On a point of Order. In view of the fact that only one Amendment has been disposed of on this most important Resolution, that the application of the closure is likely to be painful and not infrequent, and that a large number of Members are not fully acquainted with the operation of Standing Order 26, under which you have now accepted the Closure on the Main Question, may I ask you whether your decision on that question has been given under Sub-section (2) of that Standing Order which says:When the Motion, 'That the question be now put,' has been carried, or the question consequent thereon has been decided, any further Motion may be made (the assent of the Chair, as aforesaid, not having been withheld)—That is the assent of the Chair being given in the view that it is not an abuse of the Rules of the House, or an infringement of the rights of the minority—a decision may be taken on that question. May I ask you whether you have exercised your discretion under that Standing Order which I have just quoted, or if you give the Main Question to the Leader of the House when he claims it as a right, and if he has done it on his claim as a right, will you kindly inform the House under what precedent it is taken, because 1008 there is nothing on the face of the Standing Order which would give him the authority he would claim in that respect?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
On this question I certainly have acted under Standing Order 26, as suggested. I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to Erskine May, page 317, where he will find no fewer than five precedents quoted. Should he wish for any date for a precedent from the OFFICIAL REPORT, I can give him one on 2nd August, 1901, under a predecessor of mine, and a later one, on 25th July, 1905, in an exactly similar case, under my immediate predecessor, Mr. Speaker Lowther.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I would ask hon. Members to bear in mind the fact that a Division is proceeding all the time, and hon. Members must go into the Lobby if they wish to vote.
§ Captain BENN
(seated and covered): On a point of Order. Do we understand that you rule that the exclusion of 10 Amendments on this most important Resolution does not constitute an infringement of the rights of the minority of this House?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
(seated and covered): On a point of Order. Seeing that we have had no explanation whatever from the Government as to what is intended by this Resolution, are we not entitled to have some further debate on the question? The Minister of Health did not explain in the least what was intended by this Resolution. 1009 We do not even now know whether it is to be applied to some countries, and not to other countries, where it must be applied, or whether it must depend upon the will of the Board of Trade. Neither the House nor the
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by the Chairman of Ways and Means, Mr. Baldwin, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Alfred Mond, Sir Gordon Hewart, and Sir Philip Lloyd-Greame.1010
§ country know in the least what is going to happen under this Resolution.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 171; Noes, 2.1009
|Division No. 136.]||AYES.||[12.33 a.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Gee, Captain Robert||Parker, James|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Goff, Sir R. Park||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Gould, James C.||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray|
|Atkey, A. R.||Green, Albert (Derby)||Pratt, John William|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Greer, Harry||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Greig, Colonel James William||Reid, D. D.|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Gretton, Colonel John||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar (Banff)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Rodger, A. K.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Hallwood, Augustine||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Bigland, Alfred||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Seddon, J. A.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Shaw, Capt. William T. (Forfar)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Hood, Joseph||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Howard, Major S. G.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Briggs, Harold||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hurd, Percy A.||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Casey, T. W.||Jephcott, A. R.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm, W.)||Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Kidd, James||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Waddington, R.|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Clough, Robert||Lindsay, William Arthur||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lloyd Greame, Sir P.||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Lorden, John William||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir H. C. (P'nrith)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Cope, Major William||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Macquisten, F. A.||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Dennis, J. W. (Birmingham, Deritend)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Wise, Frederick|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Morrison, Hugh||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Murchison, C. K.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Nall, Major Joseph||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Forrest, Walter||Neal, Arthur|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||McCurdy.|
|Holmes, J. Stanley||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbrdge)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Arthur Henderson and Mr.|