§ Sir JOHN SIMON
I beg to move, at the end of the Question, to add the wordsBut regret that no mention is made of the repeal of the Safeguarding of Industries Act and of other protective Measures, which are raising prices, hampering trade, and limiting employment.This Amendment invites the House to review certain recent legislation which was admittedly of a temporary character and to decide whether that legislation— the Safeguarding of Industries Act and other Measures—has not in actual experience worked so badly that those Measures ought now to be brought to an end. In the Debates on the Safeguarding of Industries Bill in the last House of Commons, it was sometimes said by way of criticism that the discussion consisted largely of arguments for and against Free Trade and Protection. So far as I have been able to examine those Debates, I do not think the criticism was justified. At any rate, the question which we raise to-day by this Amendment is not a question which will be discussed in terms of theory, but is a practical question to be determined in the light of actual experience. In the same way, I do not think it is necessary to enter upon the highly debatable question whether or not it is possible for a Free Trader to support the Legislation which has been recently passed. It was supported by many who assured us that their Free Trade belief was not affected, and I am glad that is so, 1266 because it shows quite conclusively that if we can now prove that these Measures are operating badly and against the national interest, there is no reason why that section of opinion in the House should not join in demanding that they be brought to an end.
I must be allowed to say, in passing, that perhaps the best authority as to whether legislation of this sort has a Protectionist effect may be found among the Protectionists themselves, and it is a striking circumstance that, whatever difference of opinion there may be in other parts of the House, nobody who is an avowed Protectionist has ever failed to defend these Measures. Among the members of the present Government are some who have made this claim quite boldly and loudly in the course of the last Parliament. For example, my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Amery), who has been a convinced and emphatic supporter of Tariff Reform for many years, used this language about the Safeguarding of Industries Act in the very month, August, 1921, that it reached the Statute Book:Mr. Joseph's Chamberlain's great policy…is not that what is being done to-day by the Government in the Safeguarding of Industries Act.Perhaps an even more striking testimony comes from the dying declaration of an organisation which played a great part in its day—the Tariff Reform League. That body took the precaution, which in the circumstances was prudent, of composing its own epitaph before it finally dissolved, and I take this extract from its tombstone. This is what it says as to the reason of its ceasing to be:By the coming into operation of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, the principles advocated by the Tariff Reform League have received definite expression in the Legislature.I thoroughly recognise that, in the difficult time of change from war to peace, it may well have seemed to many people who are, convinced Free Traders that some special and temporary arrangements were justified and proper. I do not for a moment throw any doubt upon their good faith, and all I ask is that they should be prepared now to examine the actual working of these Measures and to see whether they correspond with the hopes which were held out. There are three general reflections which I should like to submit before we examine the 1267 actual legislation and the way it works. The first is this: Just as it was claimed, and truly claimed, in the course of the Debate on unemployment that the fundamental object of everybody in the House in all quarters was the same, so I would like to claim on behalf of this subject that, however we may differ, we are all agreed in the common desire to promote legislation which will benefit the trade of the country as a whole. That is true of all of us. The second point I want to make by way of introduction is this: You cannot judge whether this legislation really benefits trade as a whole by producing evidence that some corner of industry is benefited, and still less by producing the declaration of some privileged manufacturers who announce that, without such Measures, their workpeople would be threatened with unemployment. The third observation I wish to make is that, in the last resort, the practical test which has to be applied is quite, as much a test of efficient administration as of correct economic theory. I will not go so far as the poet who declared:For forms of government let fools contest.What e'er is best administered is best.But it is true of these subjects which touch the trade of the country that, if the working out of a Measure can be shown to involve so much interference with the legitimate objects of British trade, so much embarrassment to those who are promoting the strength of the country by carrying on British commerce, and if it can be shown that these results cannot be avoided, whatever may be the theoretical argument for the rosy hopes which may have been formed on the legislation itself, the legislation stands condemned, because it does not satisfy the test of efficient and practical administration.
I think this proposition will not be disputed, and with this proposition in mind J invite, the House to consider how the Safeguarding of Industries Act and one or two cognate Measures are, in fact, operating. I propose to deal mainly with the Act itself, but I desire first to point out that it is really only the last step in a series of changes, each of them justified by those who supported them as being required in this interval between war and peace and that all those changes, though very innocent in appearance, have, as a total result, this con- 1268 sequence, that they seriously interfere with the free right of British merchants to purchase what they need in the market that treats them best. I take as the earliest example what are known as the McKenna duties, and I may remind the Prime Minister that when the McKenna duties—certain duties put upon articles of bulk and luxury in the middle of the War in order to save shipping space and to discourage undesirable spending—were presented to this House in the time of the first Coalition Government, the present Prime Minister made a speech in which he sought to reassure those who feared that the duties might continue in some form or other after the War was over. I remember that my right hon. Friend the Member for West Swansea (Sir A Mond) made a speech on that occasion and put forward arguments against those duties and he is justified in saying that on that occasion he did not get very much support. One of the reasons why he did not get much support was because of the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman who is now Prime Minister. He said:The only ground on which I think I can see any question of opposition to these duties from the point of view of the fiscal controversy is the idea that they will lead to something else. Duties of this kind would never be continued under any circumstances when the War was over."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th September, 1915; col. 913, Vol. 74.]
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Bonar Law)
I think the rest of the speech will show that I was referring to "duties of this magnitude," and of course at that time I had in my mind War conditions.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. I was alluding to the fear that they would lead to something else. That means a general tariff.
§ Sir J. SIMON
Then if I understand the right hon. Gentleman, he means that when he said he was afraid of opposition on the ground that they might lead to something else, his assurance that duties of this kind would never be continued under any circumstances when the War was over really meant that there was no danger of a general tariff. I am not quite sure that everyone in the House of Commons so understood it, but I am not seeking to make any quarrel about it. I am only pointing out that even in that 1269 early instance in point of fact a system has been built up which in that particular has continued after the War. A second example was the institution of preference in regard to other duties, and there the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. A. Chamberlain) claimed with pardonable pride in this House that his distinguished father had fought for this object, for many years, and proceeded to say that the day for which his father had fought had now come. I am not arguing for the moment whether it is right or wrong. I am only pointing out that in the result there has been not one, but a series of instances, all pointing in the same direction, because they all tend to restrict the free, equal purchase of commodities in the markets which the merchants of our country find the best for their purpose. There then came the Bill known as the Exports and Imports (Regulation) Bill. I remember the then President of the Board of Trade, Sir Auckland Geddes, used to boast that the Bill was all prepared, every Clause of it, every line of it, and was locked up in a box, and that at a particular moment most suitable for the occasion the box would be opened, and British trade would be duly encouraged. That Bill failed to reach the Statute Book, because it was found to threaten such difficulties in administration that the Government thought it better to drop it.
Then came the Dyestuffs Act. There are Members of this House—I hope we may hear one or two of them to-day— who can speak with very great first-hand knowledge of the way in which the Dye-stuffs Act is really operating. It really has become in some respects a model for the working of the Safeguarding of Industries Act itself. The Dyestuffs Act works in this way. You set up under the Act an Advisory Committee. On the advice of that Committee the Board of Trade decides its action. It certainly was contemplated at the time the Act was introduced that the Committee would only refuse a licence to import a dye if that identical dye could be got of equal quality and of equal convenience from sources at home. That is not the way the Dyestuffs Consultative Committee is operating the Act at all. I call attention to these two circumstances, because they are very serious administrative circum- 1270 stances. First of all, the whole scheme of the Dyestuffs Act is that you should prohibit absolutely the import of foreign dyes, and then that you should modify your absolute prohibition by a system of personal and individual licence. I submit in the first place—and I think the present Chancellor of the Exchequer will agree with me because he said something like it in the House— that is of all systems the worst way in which to put restrictions on trade. It is a system which was very widely used of necessity during the War, and it was found to lead to the greatest possible inconvenience and to not infrequent injustice. It could not be helped during the War, but as a matter to be followed in times of peace it is in every respect objectionable. It means, and it must mean, that there is selection, and therefore favouritism, in the granting of these privileges, and it results in our own traders being uncertain from time to time whether they are going to get this permit, with the result that the export trade of this country suffers from a complete inability to know whether they can safely accept an order to repeat that which they have already supplied.
I have had put into my hands an illustration of the actual way in which this Consultative Committee works. I am assured that, so far from granting a licence upon an applicant showing that the dye he requires is one which can only be obtained abroad, when a dye merchant makes such an application he is faced with a demand, as a preliminary, to give an exact account of the dye, where it is proposed to get it, and who is the customer to whom he propose to sell it. That is certainly a highly objectionable proceeding when it is remembered that on this Committee are, among others, representatives of the dye manufacturers of this country. It is a common experience that a business man greatly object to give the name of his customer to those who are his natural rivals in the same trade. It does not stop there. Instead of granting a licence to import the dye because the dye is not being produced in this country, this Consultative Committee insists upon pressing upon the consumer some other dye which it alleges to be similar, though by no means identical, and urges that this substitute should be used rather than that a licence 1271 should be given, and the result is—and I am assured that the textile trade both of Yorkshire and Lancashire feel this matter deeply—that the great industries of this country concerned in textile manufacture, that depend essentially on commanding markets abroad, are forced again and again to attempt to use dyes other than dyes which they want because these substitutes are the only substitutes which they are permitted to receive, with results which again and again have caused them to fear and to feel that their position in the neutral markets of the world is greatly prejudiced. I mention that merely because it really became, in fact, the working model upon which a great deal of the Safeguarding of Industries Act was based.
I turn to the Safeguarding of Industries Act itself. There is a good deal of discussion about Part II of the Act, but may I state in the clearest terms I can what is the provision that is made in Part I and how in fact it works. Part I of the Act puts a duty of 33⅓ per cent, upon a number of scheduled articles, on the ground that they are what are called key industries. I am not going to occupy the time of the House by discussing whether that description is justified. I would only say that it appears to me to be a very large assumption to suppose that the next war is going to depend on the same products as the last war, or that it will even largely turn on the same products. It is one of the most terrible things about the history of war that science marches to the work of destruction at such a pace that the methods which scientific ingenuity discovers for use on a future occasion often bear very little resemblance to the methods that have been followed in the past. Still, it is perfectly reasonable that we should protect by appropriate measures key industries, if by that you mean munitions industries, industries believed to be essential for preparation for future war. If that is to be done, the worst of all ways in which it can be done is by enabling selected manufacturers in time of peace, by the method of an import duty put upon particular articles, to make additional profits out of their fellow subjects. It is clear that if a key industry is a munitions industry the method by 1272 which it should be safeguarded and promoted is not a method which produces consequences like that.
When I consider the Schedule, there are three or four considerations which emerge at once. The Schedule consists of a list of articles so oddly assorted that a former President of the Board of Trade once told the House that they might remind some people of the catalogue of a marine store dealer. When the Act was passed it was clearly understood by many people that the first part of the Act was going to be applied to those cases, and those cases only, in which a plausible case really was made out for an industry being a key industry in the sense of the Act. It has not worked in that way at all, and I appeal to hon. Members on different sides of the House who know how this thing has worked. Since this Amendment was put down I have been, and probably other Members have been, inundated with letters, in which it has been pointed out, for example, that instruments which are needed for purpose of science, which are needed for the purpose of attending to the sick, and which are needed in the course of dental surgery, are to-day being taxed in substantial sums under the First Schedule of the Act. It is an absurd thing that that should take place. The next thing to be observed is that as soon as this Act was passed the Board of Trade proceeded, under the terms of the Act, to expand the Schedule of ill-assorted odds and ends into what was practically a complete chemical dictionary. I was assured the other day by one of the most eminent chemists in the country, who has had occasion to examine this Board of Trade list most carefully and thoroughly, that it would have taxed his ingenuity when this list was first introduced to have mentioned half-a-dozen chemicals which were not to be found within it.
When this list was produced for the Board of Trade, after the Act was passed, instead of the chemicals being a selected number, which could be shown to have a plausible and direct connection with military preparation, a duty was found to be declared imposed on an enormous range of chemicals, amounting to over 6,000 in number. The big distinction known in commerce is a distinction between heavy chemicals and fine chemicals, and I submit to the House, 1273 particularly to those Members who served in the last Parliament, and more particularly to those who are Free Traders but were prepared for the time being to acquiesce in this Act, that it was not ever the intention of those who supported this Act that it should be extended so as to become a tariff on the whole chemical trade. Heavy chemicals imported into this country in very large quantities for industrial purposes, and manfactured in this country in large quantities in quite successful competition, come into this Schedule in enormous numbers, and in every case there is a duty of 33⅓ per cent, imposed upon them.
I would like to point out what is the real result of the working of this First Schedule. In the first place, the most overwhelming proof that a particular chemical in the list can only be taxed if you are prepared to do a serious injury to British trade will not get that chemical out of the list. A very distinguished and most impartial Referee sits to discharge, his duty in endeavouring to deal with the list, and you might go before that Referee and prove that one of these 6,300 chemicals, was essential for British industry, that its importation was necessary to keep down the price and to secure an abundant supply, but if it comes within this list, all the argument in the world will not alter the fact that it is to have imposed upon it a tax of 33⅓ per cent. I propose to take an example—I will only take one, although I could take many—which happens to have been mentioned at Question Time to-day. Although the answer that was given was based on information in good faith, it by no means gave a full or fair account of what is actually happening in this instance, according to my information. The chemical in question is what amateur photographers know as hypo-hyposulphite of soda. Hypo is used in enormous quantities, not only for the purposes of photography, but in connection with the cinema industry. Thousands of tons of it are used every year in this country. On what principle is hypo brought within this Schedule? It most certainly is not a synthetic organic chemical, and, in the ordinary acceptance of the word, I am assured it is not a fine chemical. The only reason why hypo comes within this Schedule and is exposed to this heavy tax is because the Schedule contains the 1274 phrase "analytical re-agents." While thousands of tons of hypo are used in industry in this country every year, there is a certain amount, which is not more than one or two tons, which is used every year in the laboratories for the purposes of chemical reaction.
The production of hyposulphite of soda was a well-established chemical industry before the War. It was a typical British pre-War chemical. It was an industry which was not only old-established, but it competed successfully with abroad. It is an industry which is not producing an article which is either a synthetic organic chemical or a fine chemical, and yet because there is a minute quantity of it which is used by chemists in the laboratory for a perfectly different purpose as a chemical re-agent, the whole of this importation was put by the Board of Trade into this list for the purpose of taxation. It by no means stops there, and this is where I think the information given by the Government is a little faulty. As the result of a protest that was made, they have put in front of hypo in the list the wonderful initial "R." The initial "R" was inserted up and down this Board of Trade list of chemicals because "R" happens to be the first letter of a Gorman adjective which means "pure." One gets some kind of notion here of where they got their list.
The next question that arises is: "What do you mean in the ease of hyposulphite of soda, when you say you are only going to tax it when it is pure? "At length the Board of Trade have given the ruling—the President of the Board of Trade will correct me if I am wrong, but I think my facts are right—that in the case of hypo, not necessarily in every case, it is called pure and exposed to the tax if it is of photographic quality. A substantial part of the hypo imported into this country is of photographic quality and used in industry, either for photography or in connection with cinema films. The result of this legislation, therefore, is that various manufacturers of hypo in this country are now able to enjoy the advantage; of a protective tariff of 33⅓ per cent. That is the way in which this precious Act of Parliament works when you endeavour to apply it in practice. I make good my point, that you may come forward and establish conclusively that an article 1275 which is put in this list for taxation is a thing which, in the general interests of industry, ought to be imported without tax, but it does not make the slightest difference to this Act, which proceeds to impose what is nothing more than a high protective tariff on articles of general use and convenience. You might prove conclusively to the Board of Trade or to the distinguished Referee, who deals with these matters, that there are included in this list chemicals Which have no conceivable relation to either the last War or the next war, but it would not make one halfpenny worth of difference. He would not be able to remove a chemical of that kind from the list, because, if it comes within the terms scientific organic chemicals or fine chemicals, this Act of Parliament calls, and necessarily calls, for a tax being imposed upon it.
Let me give another illustration. About a month ago—and I am assured that this sort of thing is happening every week in different parts of the country— there arrived at the Millwall Docks, in London, a consignment of 24 lbs. of an expensive compound known in the trade as an aroma, an essence—peach and apricot aroma. I am assured on the highest chemical authority that nobody considers that either in the experience of the late War or the prospects of the next war could we possibly regard such an aroma as a means of beating our future enemy. The consignment was stopped by the Customs in pursuance of this Act of Parliament. They wanted to ascertain whether there was included in this compound any portion, however minute, of any one of these 6,300 chemicals, by the taxation of which we hope to win the next war. The importer pointed out that the stuff was costly, that it cost 11 guineas a lb. They took away two tins of the stuff in order to see what it was made of. They kept it for a considerable time. It was bound to be so, because of the ramifications of the Act, but I have no doubt they kept, it no longer than they could help. Meanwhile, the whole of the consignment was held up at the docks. When it was returned, it was short by just under 1 lb., namely, 15½ ozs. That is to say, the importer has lost a commodity which is worth something like £11. The mills of the Board of Trade grind slowly, but 1276 they grind exceeding small, and it is quite gratifying to know that the safety of the country was secured and that victory in the next war was guaranteed because there was an intimation that there was a duty of 3s. 8d. to pay.
Will the House observe what an absurdity that is from the point of view of business? It is happening, as I am assured in every port in the country, week after week. Consignments come in which have been purchased for industrial purposes. They are consignments which, on the face of them, are perfectly innocent, yet the whole of these consignments are held up in order to make it possible, with the assistance of chemists in London, to ascertain whether some small fraction of these particular compounds is not subject to the duty which this Act imposes. I will give a third example as an illustration of what I desire the House to note—that these consequences are not due to clumsy or foolish administration. They are inherent in the structure of the Act itself. I have referred to the case of commodities marked with the letter "R," which indicates a certain standard of purity Duty is paid only if it is found that a particular consignment comes up to a certain standard of purity. Say that a business man imports certain standard chemicals used in industries, for instance, salammoniac or permanganate of potash, for industrial purposes and not in the least for the purposes of a laboratory, and imports them in large quantities, tons at a time. Permanganate of potash or salammoniac—many other instances could be given—are liable to a tax if they satisfy this test indicated by the letter "R." That is to say, if they come up to a certain standard of purity. The importer does not know. He has not bought the things because he is going to deal with them under the prescription of the British pharmacopœa. Gentlemen who know this subject very much better than I—though I have done my best to make myself acquainted with the facts—assure me that many of these chemicals, though imported for industrial purposes, will sometimes attain that standard of purity.
There was an example to-day when the President of the Board of Trade was asked about a consignment of 80 drums of permanganate of potash which has been held up at Salford Docks since 2nd October last. This very large quantity of stuff, which is being imported for 1277 the purposes of industry, has been held up at Salford Docks because the Customs officials there are not quite sure as to whether the consignment comes up to this standard of purity, and they have got to take samples and send those samples to London, where the Custom House sends them to the analysts ill Holborn, who have got to make an analysis of the composition of these samples and make a report. In this particular case, when the importer rang up the analyst he was told that the Customs had got the stuff, and when he rang up the Customs they said that the analyst had got it, and there has been a delay of two months, all for the purpose of ascertaining whether a particular test which the Board of Trade sees fit to impose is fully satisfied.
If this is inherent in the working of the Act then this Act as a matter of administration ought not to continue on the Statute Book, when it is clear that it puts such burdens upon imports which come, not necessarily from Germany at all. Permanganate of potash is largely made in France and Belgium. Permanganate was put on this Board of Trade list 12 mouths ago, and there was no hearing of objections until last April. Meanwhile every importer has had to pay the duty. In no case is he entitled to a refund, even though it be proved that the duty was wrongly imposed. Every case is taken before the Referee, who has to be supported by the assistance of most important, but not always consistent, experts, and at some of these inquiries there have been five experts on one side to say what an organic, synthetic chemical is and five on the other side to say that the article has been put down wrongly, and they have to deal, not with a limited number of Selected chemicals, which can be proved to have a close connection with military preparation, but with the whole chemical industry of this country, which, so far as if is concerned with the import of chemicals, is being harassed and, so far as it is concerned with the production of chemicals, is being protected.
There is a statement, frequently made in justification of this policy which I invite the President of the Board of Trade to cheek, because I am assured that it needs much qualification. It is very often said, "See what the result of the Act is! There are fine chemicals in 1278 great numbers which are now being produced in this country which were never produced here before." Lists are issued which suggest, for example, that 2,000 fine chemicals are now being made in this country as a result of the Act. I venture to ask the President of the Board of Trade to ascertain whether this is the tact? I am assured that that is a most misleading statement. These substances which are produced consist, as I am informed by the highest chemical authority whom I can consult—and I am quite willing to give the President of the Board of Trade the name if he wishes—very largely of chemicals which have been imported from Germany in a state of impurity, not quite pure enough to catch the duty, and all that has been done is to bring them in and expose them here to a further process of re-crystallisation, so that they are then brought just above this level, and thereupon the British importer, who has only just further refined the German chemicals, produces this fine chemical and sells it to the public at 33⅓ per cent, additional profit.
If that be the case, obviously we are face to face with a use of the Act of Parliament involved, I think, in its texture but entirely opposed to the real trading interests of the country and to the purpose which so many Members bad in view when they voted for it, and it lies, therefore, upon those who defend this Act, and upon the present Government, to make clear what the public advantage is, by way of preparation for the next war, which is in the least commensurate with the injury that they have caused. We are all familiar with the argument that the only way in which we can secure in this country a supply of skilled chemists, and of their products, is by putting these taxes upon chemical products imported from abroad. I would ask the House for a moment to consider whether that is a course of reasoning which can be justified. I do not believe that in any department of human knowledge at this time is there more to be gained by enabling our own men of science to have free access to, and to see what are the products of men of science in other parts of the world, and to think that you can improve the standard of applied scientific knowledge in this country by keeping out of this country the results of applied science elsewhere is just as absurd as if 1279 you were to argue that the only way in which to raise the standard of British art is to put a tax upon the import of foreign pictures, and particularly true is that in the case of chemicals, because conditions are changing so constantly.
To think that in face of some national emergency of war we are going to be saved because we shut out from this country the knowledge and the processes which skilled scientific application supplies elsewhere, is a most fatal error. If you want to increase—and who does not want to increase—the amount and the value of our own scientific attainments, spend money as generously as you please on the development of scientific education and in supporting out of public money any institution, whether commercial or official, which can really make a case for its contributions in this valuable field of knowledge, and let us get rid of a system which, as has been the case under Part I. of the Act, has operated as nothing but a widespread piece of protection for privileged manufacturers, and as a constant irritation to the rest of the trading community.
I have dwelt longer on this than I meant to do, and I will now pass to Part II. of the Act, which is the part which deals with the effect of a depreciated exchange in enabling certain foreign products, fabric gloves, for example, from Germany, to come in here at cut rates which prejudice competitive British industry. There are two or three general considerations. In the first place, surely on reflection this method of trying to correct the effects of depreciated exchange abroad, by putting a fixed tariff of 33⅓ per cent, on specific products of the foreign country is a very odd one. I do not profess to be a master of this complicated subject, but if it be true that the depreciated exchange has got these consequences in business, then it cannot surely be that the enormous fluctuations in exchange which have taken place on the Continent of Europe, are met satisfactorily by putting a fixed tariff upon particular articles. If the case were made some months ago for putting a tariff of 33⅓ per cent, on particular goods coming from a particular country, because of the depreciated exchange, what is the state of the exchange now and how can it be, with the exchange 1280 fluctuating in this enormous way, that there is one constant specific successively applied?
There is a second observation. Is it not a very difficult proposition to maintain that the putting of an import duty upon the product of a country with a depreciated exchange is the best way to put the exchange right? I do not forget that only two days ago the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snow-den) said that there were only two people who understood the subject of exchange, and that one of them was dead and the other was in a lunatic asylum. I do not want to join either of them, and I do not claim to speak in language other than that of an inquirer, but I can remember when Sir Auckland Geddes, as President of the Board of Trade in the late Government, was going up and down the country appealing to British merchants to sell their goods to the United States of America. Why? In order to correct the exchange. He was speaking at a time when, instead of nearly 5 dollars being necessary to buy £l sterling, £1 sterling would have bought less than 4 dollars. He pointed out, quite correctly, that the best way to correct that inequality would be for us to sell our goods to America. If the object of this legislation is to make a contribution towards correcting the depreciated exchanges, it is, with great respect, the height of absurdity to say that you are going to do it by putting a duty on the goods which come from the country suffering from that difficulty. There are two very elementary propositions connected with exchanges, which I imagine everyone will accept, yet a great many people who talk on the subject appear to forget them. The first is, that although for convenience you measure the fluctuations of exchange in terms of currency, exchange fundamentally consists in the exchange of goods for goods. How you are to correct the exchanges between Central Europe and this country by putting an obstacle in the way of such exchanges of goods, is a thing which it is impossible to explain. The second remark I have to make is this: It is, of course, perfectly true that a depreciated exchange puts a country in a favourable position for the moment to make cash sales abroad. But, after all, trade does not consist entirely in selling goods, but in buying goods as well, and the moment 1281 you come to the other end of the see-saw the position of a country which is suffering from depreciated exchange is very serious.
I am quite unable to understand why it is; supposed that you are going to correct the exchanges of Europe by making Orders under Part 2 of the Safeguarding of Industries Act. In point of fact the only result, so far as you can trace it up to the present, has not been to correct the exchanges at all. Obviously it has done some other injuries. Reference has been made to fabric gloves, and on this subject I ask two questions. Is the information of the President of the Board of Trade the same as mine? I have information from a number of quarters in the City—that part of the City which deals with fabric gloves. That information is to the effect that since the fabric gloves Order has been introduced, the trade which is carried on by fabric glove merchants has suffered a very serious relapse. It is so stated to me, though my informant said that he does not attribute the whole of these consequences to the Order, for there has undoubtedly been in addition considerable industrial unrest. In the second place, is it not the fact that the glove merchants of London to-day find that the stocks they had provided themselves with, and which they wore in course of selling to the shops, are stocks which have been thrown back on their hands on the ground that purchasers refuse to pay the additional duty? Is there not, in fact, in the glove trade to-day that consequence to be observed? Lastly, does the right bon. Gentleman not agree that as long as fabric gloves were freely imported into this country, the price that was paid for these gloves and paid in sterling, was a price which the Saxony fabric glove manufacturer did not transmit to Germany—he probably had his own reasons for keeping the money out of Germany—but it was banked elsewhere, very often in Holland, and was used, not only for the purchase of the cotton yarn which goes to the making of the gloves, but for buying the yarn that was used in the trade in Germany for goods that went all over the world? If that be so, I would make one observation.
I submit that however confidently the President of the Board of Trade may affect to talk, it is not possible for him or for any other man to isolate this parti- 1282 cular article of British trade and to say that his fabric glove Order has produced no unemployment, The right hon. Gentleman gave us some figures at question time. They showed that if you take the exports of Lancashire cotton yarn to Germany as a whole, there has, in fact, been a substantial falling off since the Order was made. It is quite true that by far the greater part of that export deals with counts of fineness of cotton which would not be the counts used in fabric gloves. But part of it is concerned with that trade. The actual figures are these: The Board of Trade monthly return for July, 1913, showed that the export of cotton yarn to Germany in the month of July, 1913, was 4,044,000 lbs. weight. Then came the interval of the War. When the War was over that trade gradually began to recover. In July, 1921, the export was only 656,000 lbs. weight. By October, 1921, it had risen to 1,276,000 lbs. weight. In July, 1922, it had reached 4,082,000 lbs. weight. The House will observe that the export of cotton yarn from Lancashire to Germany had reached in July, 1922, almost exactly the figure at which it stood before the War. What happened next? On 8th August, 1922, this fabric glove Order was made, and it is the fact, however you may choose to try to explain it, that from the time that that Order was made—the figures for September and October are an example— the trade showed a most serious decline. In September the export of cotton yarn to Germany was 3,080,000 lbs. weight, and the last available figures, given to me across the Table to-day, show that in October the export was 3,174,000 lbs. weight.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I think it would be utterly fallacious for anyone to connect these two figures like two parts of a puzzle and to pretend that as one went up the other went down. Of course, the actual statistics of trade are far more complicated than that. My proposition is a different proposition. It is that it is not possible for the official authorities in this country to get up in this House 1283 and to make the confident assertion that the orders which they are making under Part II of this Act do no harm or injury to anyone. The truth is that since this gloves order was made there has been a falling off in the production of cotton yarn in Lancashire of over 1,000,000 1bs. weight a month, and it would be very difficult to believe that no part of that is due to the circumstance that this gloves order deliberately interferes with the system by which those who made these gloves in Saxony purchased and paid for their supplies of Lancashire cotton yarn, not only for the gloves used in this country, but for the gloves which they sold all over the world.
It is pointed out to me that another result of this gloves order is that it is calculated seriously to interfere with our trade in re-exports. The Customs authorities, quite properly, make strict regulations which must be complied with before you get relief on the ground that an import is to be re-sold abroad. I am assured by those who are glove merchants in the City that the result of the Fabric Glove Order is this: That it is becoming impossible to carry on a re-export trade because it is not possible to satisfy those conditions in practical business. What is the result? It is that the very output which this Order was designed to check and prevent in the alleged interests of British industry and employment is an output which is passing directly, without coming into this country, to various neutral markets. Under these circumstances my submission is that really a case is made out, not on the ground of high abstract theory, but on grounds of practical commonsense, for bringing this temporary Act to an end. The circumstance that it was designed to do, as it was hoped, a little good for a certain limited purpose, does not in the least justify its being continued if, as a matter of fact, it inflicts great wrong. The position of the Government is the exact reverse of the position of the Duke in the trial scene of the Merchant of Venice. He was appealed toWrest once the law to gain authority:To do a great right, do a little wrong.The misfortune of the Act is that in their endeavour to do a little right the Board of Trade are doing a great wrong, and doing a great wrong to all sorts of people. It was one thing to select certain specific 1284 substances which have some close definable connection with munitions of war, and to adapt our machinery to encourage their production in this country. It is quite another thing to sweep all conceivable chemicals into your net, and really to provide nothing but widespread protection for a particular British trade. If the President of the Board of Trade would excuse the analogy, I would like to say that his position really reminds me of the chemist's assistant, who is described by the juryman in the trial scene of Bardell v. Pickwick. A juryman objected that it was not well to leave the shop in the hands of the chemist's assistant. He said:He is a very nice boy, my lord, but he is not aquainted with drugs; and I know that the prevailing impression on his mind is that Epsom salts means oxalic acid, and syrup of senna laudanum.It would be a wholly different matter if it could be shown that this Act, whether based on good or bad principles, was really so constructed that it applied only to limited cases. But it is an Act which has proved by experience to do something entirely different, and the experience of practical people all over the country is that it is inflicting very great injury on British trade as a whole. It follows, therefore, that our intention in moving this Amendment is not a narrow party intention at all. It is based on broad grounds of public policy, and it is supported by people who certainly cannot be accused of any narrow partisan views. When this Act was introduced, there was a most remarkable manifesto issued by the bankers of this country. No one will accuse the bankers of trying simply to serve the interests of a particular party in a House of Commons Debate. This was their language:The policy of trying to exclude the productions of other countries, with the well-meant design of encouraging our own, cannot increase the volume of commerce or the total volume of employment here. The importation of foreign goods does not diminish the activities of our people because such goods, can only he paid for by the produce of British capital and labour.One can well understand that in the transition from war to peace expedients of this sort appealed to many minds. Some Free Traders thought the time was so exceptional that ordinary considerations had not their usual value. Others —I wish to speak frankly—were prepared to suspend the application of their fiscal 1285 convictions for the sake of maintaining (he Coalition in power. Whether the price was worth paying or not is a matter upon which different men may legitimately differ. At any rate, that Coalition is at an end, and we are not concerned to-day with the considerations which may for a time have suspended the demonstration of the full argument against these Measures. They were admittedly an experiment. The late President of the Board of Trade insisted upon that again and again. They were admittedly a novelty; they were admittedly only to be temporary, and they are now shown, I submit, to be an experiment which has worked very badly. While assisting selected interests, they are injuring the trade of the country as a whole. Instead of promoting, they are delaying the recovery of the exchanges. While they are artificially assisting one factory, they can be shown to be interfering with the trade and output of essential industries like the textile industry, and they are doing it by a. method which is bound to raise prices, which is bound to create unemployment in one place even though it is creating employment in another, and which involves endless interference with legitimate business.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Sir P. Lloyd-Greame)
Anyone hearing the very able speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down would assume that the policy which is challenged in this Amendment, and challenged in its entirety, is a policy decided upon by the late Coalition in its declining days suddenly and unexpectedly. That policy is nothing of the sort. It is a policy with a long history; a history of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) wrote the first chapter. It is a policy which was deliberately deter mined upon during the War and was dictated by the lessons of the War. I do not propose in asking the House to approve of this policy to look at it merely from the point of view of one or two selected interests. I am going to ask the House to look at it with a due sense of proportion. After all there are a great many people in this House—
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
On both sides of the House. [Interruption.] 1286 The process of Debate is more conveniently conducted if one speech is made at a time. There are scores of Members in this House who have a very clear recollection of, and who experienced in their own persons, the effect of our being deprived of these industries in the early days of the War. What did it mean when that War found us helpless and unprepared? We hear even to-day that people are anxious about aeroplanes. I wonder if the House realises that in the early days of the War if the Germans had not, with an unusual want of foresight, left behind largo depots of magnetos in this country, during the first six months of the War we could not have sent up a single aeroplane. The munition manufacturers came to the Government in the early days of the War and said that without scientific glass they could not carry out their experiments and testing, and unless we could manufacture that glass in this country it would be impossible for them to carry on with the manufacture of munitions. Anyone who served in any of our forces knows what the lack of optical glass meant for gunsights and in other ways. Every service on the sea, under the sea, in the air and on the land required it. The inclusion of latch needles in these provisions was pressed upon the Government of the day and accepted by them. Not only were the makers, but the people who used hosiery latch needles insistent on having them in the list. In regard to chemicals, we lacked drugs of every kind. We had not developed the manufacture of all kinds of anæsthetics.
It is utterly untrue to say that you can take a few selected chemicals and build up an industry that way. Everybody knows that if you are to have this industry built up; if you are to get the chemicals which are essential in peace and in war, the whole range of the chemical industry must be provided for. As a matter of fact, that question was raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley on the Financial Resolution when the Measure was introduced, and it was stated from this bench at the time that if we were to have a chemical industry at all, we had got to secure the whole of the chemical industry, because the bread-and-butter part of it was absolutely necessary if the industry was to be established. As to the importance of that industry, it is a 1287 possession of that industry kept Germany in the War for at least a year and, possibly, two years longer than she would otherwise have been there. That experience is one which most hon. Members who served in the War have not forgotten, and it was an experience which had great weight with the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley, when they had to consider it at the time. In January, 1916, Mr. Runciman, then President of the Board of Trade, made a long statement in the House on the economic position, and he said, in the course of it:Every one of these articles, glass, chemicals, dyes, electrical apparatus, and I could name about a dozen others, were industries of vast importance not only to us as a great commercial country, but as a fighting country. Without these glass articles, without some of the porcelain articles which are essential for electrical construction, without the best type of magneto, without some of the best of our chemicals, and without a great range of dyes, which used to be manufactured in Germany, we were placed at a great disadvantage. Never again should that happen."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT. 10th January, 1916; col. 1359, Vol. 77.]That was followed by the Economic Conference in Paris, where Resolutions were adopted in order to safeguard these industries firmly, not during the War, but after the War, and these Resolutions were subsequently commended to the House by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley on his return.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
If the right hon. Gentleman was not in Paris, he, at any rate, was a very keen supporter of the Resolutions, and made a valuable contribution to the Debate in support of them.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will do so again. I admit these Resolutions did not find an equally keen supporter in the right hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment. On that occasion he disagreed very forcibly with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley, and was reproved for so doing in a very interesting speech by Mr. Winston Churchill. It has sometimes been said that these Resolu- 1288 tions envisaged a different position from that with which we are confronted. How is that? What was the position that was envisaged? Was it that the Germans were going to win the War? Of course it was not. It was the hope and expectation of this country that we should win the War, and these Resolutions were in the terms of that desire, and were intended to meet the conditions which would arise after the War. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley followed up the Paris Resolutions by setting up a Committee presided over by Lord Balfour of Burleigh, a Committee which, as he himself stated, was one of the greatest authority that could be, and that Committee had the whole of this matter referred to them. They recommended in their Report the protection and safeguarding of all these key industries, and their policy was right and the right hon. Gentleman was right when he commended that policy to the House. It is right because it is an absolutely essential insurance against war.
§ Sir R. LLOYD-GREAME
The hon. Gentleman's observation is singularly irrelevant. He not infrequently addresses the House, and is always listened to with courtesy on this side of the House. I have a wide field to cover, and I listened for an hour and a quarter without interruption to the right hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the Amendment. I ask for equal courtesy.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I only wished to point out that agriculture was part of the same policy as that to which the right hon. Gentleman was referring. The observation is too relevant.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
We need this as an insurance against war. I have been told that to make a demand of this kind suggests that one has a war mind. It is nothing of the kind. The best insurance that we will never have to face a war such as the one we went through is that this country should be ready and prepared with all essential industries to equip it, should it ever be threatened with a war again. More than that, the surest way of getting economy in military expenditure is to have your forces equipped and with efficient industries behind them. It is also the best insurance for peace. If it is true that the industries of peace in the future are 1289 going to depend very largely upon science and particularly chemical science, that surely means that to have the chemical industry developed in this country is of I he utmost importance. These Acts, and I make this claim advisedly, have, without doubt, developed those industries to an extent which I should have previously believed quite impossible, in the course of the last year. They have been developed at a time of great trade depression, a most difficult time for industries to start in, and they have been developed at a time when they had enormous accumulations of war stocks against them. What is the position to-day? I take a few examples. To-day we are manufacturing excellent magnetos in the fullest quantities that are wanted. Wireless valves, greatly improved, are manufactured, which we did not undertake even in this country before the War, and we are now turning them out at the rate of 30,000 a week. In regard to optical glass, the works that existed have been carried on and new works are being developed. Chemicals, at which the right hon. and learned Member sneered, are developing on all hands.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
Yes, sneered at the British development of them, and so far from my information bearing out the information he gave to the House, I heir on all hands of works filling up, of works being expanded, and of new works being started, and I am informed that the suggestion that this is merely a kind of finishing process of materials imported from Germany is utterly without foundation in the great majority of cases. The range of production is growing steadily, and so is the quality. I would like to say a word about quality, because it is perfectly true that it is no good getting merely a large development and quantity unless you have got the quality as well, and it was a challenge thrown out when this Bill was before the House that British manufacturers would be unable to produce these products of the requisite quality. That is not the case. To-day the development of scientific instruments is so good that it is not merely satisfying people who want to buy in this country, but I have had a number of instances of scientific institutions in France, in Belgium, in Italy, coming to this country to buy scientific 1290 instruments rather than buying them in the cheap market abroad. That seems to me to be at once an answer to those who say that scientific research is threatened, on the one hand, and that we cannot produce them in decent quality, on the other. I will give another test. We submitted recently a photographic lens to the Royal Air Force testing station at Farnborough. They, of all people, require to have the very best lenses in their work. The result of that test at the Farnborough station was this, that the experts gave it as their considered opinion to the Royal Air Force that the lenses supplied by the British firm were actually superior to the Zeiss lenses.
There are three questions. There is the question of being able to make the stuff, the question of being able to make it of a decent quality, and there is the question of price, and you have got to safeguard your people in the matter of price until the whole of the industry has been built up.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
Because you have to build up this industry behind it. I am meeting the case point by point on the three points that are raised. The quality of the dyes is also challenged. The applications which are being made to the Dyes Committee to-day are decreasingly fewer than for such dyes as are manufactured in this country, and the experience is being shown that where dyes are manufactured in this country the consumers are not coming forward to ask for licences, and the licences that are applied for are more and more confined to dyes which are not made in this country. It is quite true that it is of the greatest importance that they should be of the best quality possible, but it very often happens that where a man is dissatisfied with the quality it is not always due to the cause to which he ascribes it. We are always told from the other side of the House that it is the British quality which is bad and the German quality which is good. I would like to give the House one example of an experience of a certain professor with a firm of chemical manufacturers. The professor was greatly displeased, because he got some chemicals of a very bad quality, and he wrote and said that the firm would readily understand that, until British manufacturers could guarantee purity in their products, 1291 they really could hardly expect English men of science to buy from them. The British firm replied that in order to get the best development in their own factories, they had bought from Germany some special fine chemicals to experiment with and to analyse, in order to help them in the development of their own manufacture, and they had sent to this professor German chemicals, bought from Germany, and not their own products. That seems to me to be quite as useful an example to quote to this House as the examples picked here and there by the right hon. and learned Gentleman in the speech with which he delighted the House.
Then I come to price. Price has been steadily falling, certainly so far as the manufacturers are concerned. If the middle man has not always passed on the benefit of falls in price to the purchasers, that is not the fault of the Government or of the Act, but there is a steady fall. Optical glass has fallen 20 per cent, to 50 per cent., optical instruments 15 per cent, to 35 per cent., microscopes are falling in price, wireless valves are down 10 per cent., and there is a decrease in the price of chemicals of something like 25 per cent, to 30 per cent. We were told we should have rising prices if we put this Act into force, but we have had a steady falling of prices in every range of production. Let me say another thing about price. It is a well-known fact, and experience has proved it, that the cheap price you get out of Germany is for the articles with which there is competition in this country. The moment an article has been driven from the market here, up goes the price of the German article. We have numbers of instances of that. I have had cases of glass. Where there is competition here, developed under the Act, down comes the German price; where there is no competition, and the article is not yet manufactured here, you get a rise in the price. I have an instance of an apparatus, scientific glass ware, which the Germans were originally selling at 4s. 6d. It has not yet been developed here, and the German price has risen to 27s.
Scientists have been quoted. I might quote an illustration given by Sir William Pope, Professor at Cambridge University, of his own experience. He 1292 wanted, for his scientific research work, a particular chemical, and he found that he could get it only in Germany. He was asked £50 a kilogram for that particular chemical. They managed to develop the manufacture of that chemical here, and he was able to get it for £1 per kilogram, instead of paying £50 to the Germans. Then it is suggested that we have got to rely entirely upon German supplies, and Sir William Pope, a scientist if ever there was one, a man as keen for the development of scientific research as anybody in this House, adds this, to a brochure which has been recently published:Unless a legislative barrier was maintained, any substance the manufacture of which is undertaken in this country will be dumped from Germany, the expense being recouped by unduly high charges for fine chemicals not yet made here.That is the considered opinion of the Professor of Chemistry at Cambridge University.
Let me say one word in detail about dyes. Again, one might suppose that this Dyes Act had a history with which the right hon. Gentlemen opposite were wholly disconnected and unacquainted, but that is not at all the case. I have read out the insistence which Mr. Runciman laid upon dyes in 1916. That is carried further, and very properly carried further. Later on in 1916, a Committee was set up by the right hon. Member for Paisley of some of his colleagues, under the chairmanship of Mr. Runciman, What did that Committee find, and what did they recommend? They recommended that the dye industry should be developed, and how? In favour of prohibiting the importation of dyestuffs after the War except under licences granted by a Dyes Commission. There is the foundation, that is the start, of the dyes legislation, actually proposed by the then President of the Board of Trade, and accepted as a form of legislation which ought to be adopted in this case. It went further, for that was followed up by the next Government, and in 1918 the then President of the Board of Trade (Lord Ash-field)—Sir Albert Stanley, as he then was —made this declaration in this House, speaking on behalf of the Government which succeeded the right hon. Member for Paisley:In order to safeguard this particular industry against the great efforts which these 1293 great German dye making firms are certain to make after the War to destroy all we have accomplished during the War, and to make this industry again subservient to Germany, the importation of nil foreign dycetuffs shall be controlled by a system of licences for a period of not loss than 10 years after the War.He repeated that in Lancashire, and it was put into force by the Coalition which succeeded after the Election, and, so far from that policy being objected to by those who use dyes, the Colour Users' Association, which represents 80 per cent. of the people who use dyes in this country—
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
The hon. Member is absolutely wrong about that, and there are others in this House who can speak on this point. In this matter the Act is being worked both with the Colour Users' Association and the Calico Printers' Association, and after consultation with them, I think I have more right to speak for both, possibly, than anybody in this House.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
The hon. Member is really mistaken. Eighty per cent, of the whole trade, all the different branches of it, which use colours at all in their work are in the Colour Users' Association. You have the Bradford Dyers in it, and others, all in it. They passed a resolution at Manchester, which is a place which has something to do with the textile trade, I believe, on 3rd December, 1920, at the very moment when the Dyes Bill, which hon. Members are attacking, was being introduced, because we wanted to know what was the view of the trade, of the dye-using trade, with regard to that Act, and we—the late Government— refused to bring that Bill forward until we knew that it was a Measure agreed by the dyemakcrs and users. They passed a resolution as follows:That this meeting accepts and endorses the declared intention of His Majesty's Government that the establishment and maintenance of the dye industry in this country is essential to national security,—1294 That was the first part, and the resolution went on—and this meeting hereby expresses its acceptance of the Dyestuffs Regulation Bill now before Parliament, as outlined by the chairman.Therefore, you have a whole chain of authority—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley, his successors, the late Government, the trade itself—and now how is this Act working? To listen to the speech delivered by the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley, one would suppose that this was being worked by the dyemakers, who held an inquisition and had control of the whole thing. It is nothing of the kind. The Chairman of the Committee happens to be—and I am very grateful to him for taking the office—a Liberal Member of Parliament, the hon. Member for Stretford (Sir T. Hobinson). So far from the Committee-being controlled by those who make dyes, there are only three dyemakers on it; there are five colour users—five dye users —and three independent Members. Therefore, the whole of that Act is being worked by the trade itself, by the whole of the textile trade, and I can assure the House that that Licensing Committee is, I believe, giving complete satisfaction, except in one case. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said, "Ah, but a merchant may come forward, and he, is asked, before he is given a licence to import, for whom he wants to execute the order." And a very proper question to put to a merchant. I will tell the right hon. Gentleman why. When a textile manufacturer comes forward, we know that he needs the dyes for his own manufacture, but if you are to allow a merchant to import an indefinite number of dyes to put into stock, you defeat the whole object of the Act, and these questions which are put by the Licensing Committee are not dictated by me from the Board of Trade, but they are questions framed by the textile trade itself, in the interests of the textile trade. So much for the dye industry. I would only say that those who are so ready to speak for the dye-using industry would perhaps do well to listen to speeches made by people like my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Salford (Lieut.-Commander Astbury), who is himself a man using the most complex kind of dyes, and who, when the rejection of this Act was moved last Session in this House, got 1295 up and said that, as a calico printer, he regarded this Dyes Act as vital to the success of the industry in which he himself was engaged.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
I thought the hon. Member was claiming the repeal of this Act in the interests of the textile trade, and when you get a man who is a manufacturer in the textile trade saying that the trade must have the Act, I should have thought it was more important.
§ Lieut.-Commander ASTBURY
I would tell my hon. Friend opposite that when I was speaking I was not speaking personally, but for the Federation of Calico Printers.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
The next argument that was used was that we are by these Acts impeding research. What nonsense that is. Germany is always being pointed out. Hon. Members opposite say, "Why do you not have trained chemists, and employ the skill of this country in research, as they have in Germany?" How have they done it in Germany? By having a few isolated professors of universities? Not a bit of it. They have built up a great chemical research school in Germany because every industry in itself in Germany is a research school for chemists, and unless we build up in this country—it was the wise advice given by the late Lord Moulton, an unimpeachable Free Trader and life-long Liberal, and the greatest authority on chemistry, I suppose, in this country —unless we build up in this country a dye industry and a chemical industry, you will have no avenue for your trained chemists to go into, and no scientific research worthy of anything, and the greatest service that can be rendered to scientific research whether inside industry or outside of it, is to make through these great trades an avenue of employment for chemists. That is the achievement which this part of the Act has brought about. As regards dyes, there is a Development Committee which has the most distinguished representatives upon it, which is following the working of the Act, which is following the making of dyes with the greatest keenness, and which, as a matter of fact, regularly meets now after the 1296 Licensing Committee has had its sitting. Upon that committee are dye-users and men of science. In addition to that, I have given to the House already a good deal of information about the development which is taking place in the other key industries, but I propose, now that this Act has been running for a year, to go even more closely into it, and I have arranged with the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, with the consent of my right hon. Friend the Lord President, that a full investigation should be made by my Department and the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, and this must be a scientific investigation conducted by people, who have all the necessary qualifications and experience, into all those industries, in order that we may see the exact progress which has been made and is being made.
That covers the greater part of these Acts. I have dealt with dyes and with the other key industries, There remains only the questions of dumping and collapsed exchanges. With regard to that, I can hardly be contradicted if I say that unfair competition has nothing whatever to do with Free Trade. To build up an industry on dumped goods is at least as inconsistent with Free Trade as building it up behind tariff walls. [An HON. MEMBER: "YOU have always done it!"] The hon. Gentleman may be an advocate of it, but it is not Free Trade, and the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Sir A. Mond), who is the greatest authority on Free Trade, is the most outspoken about it. After all, if cheapness be the one test, I cannot understand the objection of hon. Members to taking reparation. If the one thing you want be cheap goods, and to get them as cheap as you can, no matter what the effect may be on your industries, why not get reparation in as large quantities as possible? Then you would be taking your goods for nothing, and I cannot imagine you can get goods much cheaper than that. In 1916, at the time of the Paris Economic Conference, the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) was committed in his Paris Resolutions to legislation against dumping and unfair competition in the transition which came after the War. What is more, not only was he committed to it, but he came down to this House and boasted the paternity of those Resolu- 1297 tions, and said that they had been drawn up and proposed by Mr. Runciman. I have got the quotation. This is what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley said:And it is perhaps right, and indeed necessary, that I should disclose the fact that three of the most important Resolutions, namely, those relating to the Most-Favoured Nation treatment, protection against dumping or unfair competition, and the adoption of measures to render the Allies independent of enemy countries as regards essential industries, were proposed by the British delegates and passed at the Conference in the form in which they were put forward. I am not, I think, betraying any secret when I say these resolutions put forward by the British delegates were drafted by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Runciman), whoso return to active political life we are all glad to welcome to-day."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd Aug., 1916; col. 340, Vol. 85.]Possibly, if he had adhered more firmly to the Resolutions which he had drafted and was a party to in 1916, we might again have welcomed his return to political life. This was again referred to Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Committee. What happened? A unanimous Report from that Committee in favour of legislation.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I desire to ask your ruling, Mr. Speaker, as to whether this does not come under the rule against repetition?
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
The Balfour of Burleigh Committee recommended that there should be such legislation. I would say to the House that we should be extraordinarily unwise to repeal legislation against dumping at a moment when the United States have set up an extreme prohibitive tariff round their own country, and in circumstances which will lead, most likely, to dumping in this country. There remains, apart from dumping, the question of the collapsed exchanges. That, as my right hon. Friend the Member for West, Swansea pointed out so repeatedly in the course of our Debates, is a form of unfair competition exactly of the same kind as dumping. In the course of our Debates he said:It is no use tolling me that in introducing some means—duty or anything else— to deal with collapsed exchanges I am departing from the faith of Adam Smith, Cobden and Bright. They were not dealing with a situation like that of to-day. A living country cannot be guided by the shibboleths of the past. You must deal with what is in front of it now. These resolutions endeavour to deal with one of the most diffi- 1298 cult situations any Government in any country ever had to face. The old arguments seem to me entirely waste of time and entirely unsuitable to the occasion."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th May, 1921; col. 1603, Vol. 141.]What are we legislating against? We are legislating simply against the bounty due to the depreciated exchanges. I do not want to go into the whole of the argument. [HON. MEMBEKS: "Hear, hear!"] It is not because I am in the least afraid of them. I would only say that the suggestion put forward by the right hon. Gentleman that you ought to have a tariff, if you have one at all, which goes up and down with every variation of the exchange, is not only impracticable, but ignores and misunderstands the real essence of the case, which is that the bounty does not vary with the fall of the exchange, but with the difference between the internal and external value of the currency. It is quite true that the effects have not been nearly so great as anyone might have expected, and, as was pointed out in the extraordinarily lucid speech, if I may say so, delivered by the late Prime Minister to the deputation which waited upon him from Lancashire, this was partly due to the prejudice against German goods, and the flight of the mark in Germany, which led to exaggerated home consumption; but he said that might end at any time, and we should be mad and wrong had we not been prepared. He said those conditions might change at any moment, and it was absolutely necessary for us to be prepared for danger, which might come at any moment, and which we must be in a position to meet when it came. The mere fact that only a few industries have had to be safeguarded in this way—is that a reason for doing nothing I Do a few thousand men more or less in employment in this or that industry to-day mean nothing when unemployment is so serious? And it is helping employment.
Take the case of fabric gloves, which were the old battle-ground. I have asked for accounts from some of the different firms. One of them says they have already doubled their output, and that their spring orders are three times as much as they were last year. Another, which was a short time ago running two factories, is now on full time, and is opening a third. Then it is suggested that the Lancashire yarn makers would suffer. I pointed out 1299 when that was argued at the time, first of all, that Germany certainly bought where she could buy best, and that her buying was not affected by any other consideration. Certainly she would not be so affected by the duty of 33⅓ per cent, here that she would turn to France where the duty is 150 per cent. against her. I pointed out, further, that she had ample foreign balances for importation purposes; that one of the difficulties of the whole position to-day in regard to the stabilisation of the German exchange is the fact that the Germans have bought exorbitantly and have piled up foreign balances abroad. The result has been exactly what I anticipated. It is quite true that, as the right hon. Gentleman said, there had been some slight fall in the exports of cotton yarns as a whole, but it must not be forgotten that one cause is that certain trades dependent on this are seasonable. The interesting thing is that, although there has been a fall in a natural ebb and flow of trade, in the total exports of cotton yarn one of the kinds which has kept its position, and in which there have been practically no fall at all, has been the exports of just that quality and count of yarn which is exported for the making of fabric gloves.
It is sometimes said that German policy is suicidal and that it cannot be pursued indefinitely. I am only too anxious to see that policy brought to an end. I shall welcome the stabilisation of the German exchange, which would lead again to normal conditions, but is it really any comfort, if I am murdered, for it to be said after my death that my murderer had committed suicide? That seems to me a very poor form of consolation. I have endeavoured to traverse both the specific allegations which were made by the right hon. Gentleman and the general scope of his arguments. My case rests upon a long chain of events. The whole principle upon which this policy was founded was accepted by all parties, and by each party in succession at the time when they were responsible. The advice given in turn as to the framing of policy was advice given with a full weight of responsibility by those who had to carry out the business of government. I suggest that it was wise advice which the Government gave to this House, and I would ask the House now not to reject it.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is to be congratulated, I think, by every Member of this House on having that job in the Government which is most after his own heart. He is now where he can carry out and put into effect those Protectionist principles to which he has devoted his life. He is now in his right place, in a position to look after the trade of the country. In the eloquent discourse to which we have just listened, he almost carried me off my seat, and I began to think that Protection was probably the one solution of all our ills. I cannot but think how perfectly it has resulted in connection with all those trades that have been protected, and which have been under his auspices during the last two or three years. I cannot think why he does not extend it still further. We have heard of the perfect, magnetos which are now produced in this country, of the best type, and by the hundred thousand, and we have, in addition, thousands of men employed who might now be otherwise trying to find work! Why, then, if this is going to work as well as stated and produce the perfect magnetos of which we have heard, does the right hon. Gentleman not extend the scheme to all branches of British industry? I represent a district where we make crockeryware.
If there is an industry in this country which deserves protection it is crockery. Are we not a key industry? There is also the manufacture of telephone insulators, which is one of the most essential manufactures for war time. If we are not getting the best, then we have no right to claim to be a key industry; to complain of the competitive undercutting of the continental manufacturers, of those of our competitors who take advantage of the fall in exchanges in order to undercut us. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider the sad position of the trade and to consider whether he cannot do for our trade what he has done for the trade in magnetos. Step out'. Advance Protection! Do not let us have just the halfway house. Some of us have to pay so that a few may get the benefit. [An HON. MEMBER: "The agricultural industry!"] I do not see why agriculture should not be protected, too, on the same principle. There was another flaw in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and I will finish the flaws, if I may, while I am busy. He did not only not go far enough in his 1301 argument, but he called to his aid all those dusty, musty precedents of what Mr. Gladstone said in 1872, or what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley said as to the Paris Conference Resolutions, and he made play of what was said and done by our excellent friend Mr. Walter Runciman. I think he might have left Mr. Runciman out, because it is every so much easier when you are using quotations to quote from those who can reply rather than from those who cannot.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
May I interrupt to say that I quoted Mr. Walter Runciman, because he was responsible as President of the Board of Trade?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am quite certain the right hon. Gentleman could have found quotations as ample and as pertinent from nearly every Minister connected with the Coalition Government during the War which would have served his purpose as well, and would have been more easily provided. The right hon. Gentleman, as I know, has much pleasure in advocating Tariff Reform and Protection. Why, then, is it necessary to quote those Free Traders with whom he never agreed in the past and whose arguments cannot carry with them any convincing weight with him in the present? If the arguments for Protection are right on principle, if Protection does mean more employment in this country, if it is right then the more efficient the better. If we know that it is valuable for key industries, then it is not necessary to go to Paris or to quote the statements made by ex-Prime Ministers. That is following a bad precedent. We do not want what some of the wise men said 15, 20 or 50 years ago. The arguments of the President of the Board of Trade are good enough for the present time. Let us stick to practical politics; to practical illustrations of what Protection can do. We, particularly on these benches, the Labour party, are not really interested in the rival joustings of those who committed this country to Protection, whether it was Mr. Walter Runciman or wheher it was Mr. McKenna, or whether it was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley. [An HON. MEMBER: "Or the right hon. Member for Swansea."] Yes, whichever of these right hon. personalities did the trick, the Labour party does not mind leaving these rival authorities to finish off the dispute 1302 amongst themselves and even to exterminate each other like the Kilkenny cats did. Carry on the good work! We are interested from the point of view of Labour, and Labour only.
How does this scheme affect unemployment? That is the keynote of the way in which we look at it. The right hon. Gentleman says, and says quite truly— and we agree with him entirely—that the Protection that he has been enabled to introduce under both Part I and Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act has increased employment in the trades protected. We admit it. We are quite certain that, by reason of Protection, by putting up tariff barriers around any particular trade in this country, you can increase the amount of employment in that trade. There is no doubt about that whatever. If that was all the story, there is not a man on these benches who would not be a Protectionist. But, as a matter of fact, that is not all the story. It is just as well that we, who are often assumed to be the stupid party, should put before the Front Bench opposite the point of view, not of the producer, but of the consumer, and show how the consumer may be suffering under the schemes of the right hon. Gentleman, for the position becomes such subsequently that there is more and more unemployment created in this country.
I notice, for instance, under Part II of this Safeguarding of Industries Act, that the Committees which have been appointed to consider whether or not any particular trade should be protected are specially instructed to see what would be the effect of the 33⅓ per cent, duty upon those other industries which use the article which they propose to protect, and wherever the article that it is proposed to protect is the raw material of another industry, they are instructed to inquire specially as to not only what additional employment the new tariff would be likely to set up, but also what unemployment is likely to be called owing to the damage done to some other trade which uses the protected raw materials. That is quite all right. The Committees are quite right in inquiring into both these things. Over and over again—if hon. Members will read these Reports which have been put into our hands as to all these various industries—hon. Members will find that the request for protection has been turned 1303 down because protection of that sort would injure some other industry whose raw material would be increased in price. For instance, wire nails are ruled out because it would increase the cost of all those goods made by wire nails. There are other cases. But there is no special instruction given to the Committee to consider what is the effect of this tariff upon the consumer. The effect upon the consumer is not only known to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, but also, I will add, to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Swansea. I recollect when the right hon. Gentleman below the Gangway (Sir A. Mond) was conducting his assault on Free Trade from the benches opposite against the desperate opposition of his previous pupils; when he was challenged that this procedure would raise prices, he replied: "It is bound to do so; that is the object of it; if it did not do that there would be no point in it." Well, perhaps that is why no inquiry is held by these special Advisory Committees into the effect of the new tariff upon the consumer. He is going to pay. Had we not better just consider what it means to unemployment? After all, if the consumer has to pay more for the goods he wants, the money he has got, whether it be his wages or unearned income, does not go so far as it otherwise would do in buying those things. If you tax him by protective tariffs for the benefit of the protected manufacturers, it means that his wages do not run to buying the new suit of clothes for his wife—[Laughter]—I mean costume— [Laughter]—There's the loud laugh that speaks the vacant mind,but it does not alter the economic fact, which is that if you tax a man, taking from him some of his income, he has less to spend on the things which he wants, and he not only goes without the things he wants, but somebody else has to go without the opportunity of manufacturing them. Supposing you took from every hon. Member in this Chamber £5 to be spent in the purchase of Zeiss glasses. There would be more than a corresponding fall in employment due to the fact that all the Members of this House would not have that £5 to spend on things which they really did want. It is futile for any advocate of Protection to try and put before this House the Protection issue as 1304 though it was only a question of how much employment was created in the trade protected, because you have to consider the amount of unemployment created owing to the increased price of goods, and the incapacity of the man with a fixed income to spend that income in the way he would otherwise do.
The Labour party have to look at this question, not only from the point of view of direct employment in the trade protected, but from the point of view of the unemployment that may be produced in the trade which has to use that protective raw material, and also from the point of view of the public whose purchasing powers are curtailed, and they are unable to employ the people they usually employ in making the goods they want. That is our attitude on this question, and when the right hon. Gentleman comes before this House and points out the success of his policy in regard to the protection of British dyestuffs he is quite wrong. What is more, we are not producing perfect dyes. When we think of the millions of money which has been put in that business and which has been practically thrown away, and that we still have not got the right dyes, and in consequence British textiles are being sent abroad to be dyed: when we remember that the Manchester Resolution which was passed two years ago when we had not seen the result of this kind of action, I think we may say that that scheme for building up that particular industry by Protection has not worked out very well.
I think to point to the rise of the chemical industry in Germany as an example of what we want to carry out in connection with dyes and other chemical industries shows an ignorance of bow Germany built up her chemical trade which I did not expect to find at the Board of Trade. I do not think even the Prime Minister imagines that the German chemical industry has been built up by Protection, because it has been built up far more by education. I think the Government might remember when they are making desperate efforts to cut down expenditure on education that, after all, education is the best sort of Protection, because it blesses all parties. As long as you have a scientific education strangled as it is at present and curtailed still further under the Geddes Axe last year so long will it be impossible for the 1305 ordinary elementary school child to get a scientific, technical or chemical education. When we think of what happens to chemists when they have by self-sacrifice got a college degree we might follow the same practice as Germany and leave out Protection as the means of establishing a chemical industry in this country. I have heard of chemists with a university degree working in South Wales for £2 a week. What sort of encouragement, is that to people to become experts? Unless you give these people decent wages as well as decent opportunities of acquiring knowledge it is hopeless to imagine that you can build up a trade by protective tariffs. I would rather follow the old lines upon which, after all, we have managed pretty well.
The textile industry of this country has been built up not only on sound management, but on sound education. The textile industry needs no Protection, in fact, it suffers from it. Let us follow the precedents of the past in attempting to build up industries rather than adopt these new-fangled protective tariffs. It is quite true that you may, under this new scheme, build up infant industries, but when they grow up into industrial giants and become more powerful the more impossible will the right hon. Gentleman find it to take away the Protection under which they have grown up. You cannot start by saying that you will only use tariffs in the infant stages of industries or to protect industries which are unfairly attacked by competition with a country that has a falling exchange and when those conditions have come to an end cancel the tariffs.
We of the Labour party, when we sit on the benches opposite, will no doubt find hon. Members opposite, when we are trying to undo the work of the present Government, telling us the usual tale of how the widow and orphan have put their little nest egg into the chemical or dye-stuffs trade, and that it would be Bolshevism to deprive them of their incomes by abolishing these protective tariffs. We shall have the same old arguments used by hon. Members opposite as they used when we attempted to tax the landlords. The one thing you are doing by these protective tariffs is to create fresh vested interests to rob the community. May I say a word about Part II? It is erroneously supposed that 1306 we are attacking that form of dumping against which we were warned in 1918, and which many people in this country dislike. I dislike intensely the idea of having goods dumped here at a price below that at which they are sold in the country of origin. I know that is only done for a time to secure immunity from competition, and then it is possible that the price may be raised. That is the sort of dumping which I can understand the right hon. Gentleman opposite taking steps to stop, but it is not the kind of dumping which takes place under Part II.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I do not think that that consideration has been taken into account at all. Take, for example, fabric gloves, domestic glass or hollow-ware. If you go through the Reports of the Committees, you will find that they have not considered whether the Germans were selling at a price below that which they were selling the same article in their own country, but they consider whether they are selling them here at a price lower than the English price, because of the difference between the value of the mark internally and externally, and that is quite a different consideration. That is a consideration which cannot be rightly called dumping in any sense, and, at any rate, it must be purely temporary.
The right hon. Gentleman opposite tried to make a point, against the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) when he said that the right hon. Gentleman did not appreciate that what we were protecting people against was the difference between the internal and external value of the mark, a difference which exists only while the mark is changing in value. If its value falls week by week there will be a considerable difference and a drag in the fall of the internal value of the mark. It will fall externally and then internally, because wages and prices will not adjust themselves internally to the new diminished value of the mark with any promptitude. Judging internally and externally the prices of the mark recently, I should say the drag was about three months behind. Until you get the mark stationary, there is no hope of our customers ever being able to buy our 1307 goods again. Everybody is basing their hopes upon stabilisation, and when you have stabilised things you will find no difference between the internal and the external value of the mark. In that case the whole necessity for your 33⅓ protective tariff ceases.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
I do not wish to be misunderstood. What I said applies to duties in respect of depreciated exchange, not Part I.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
So far, we have been dealing only with the depreciated exchange in Germany, and practically Austria has not entered into our consideration, nor has Russia because, although the exchange has been falling, we have not been trading with Russia. All the industries considered at the present time have been protected on account of the fall in the mark. Certain industries have been refused protection in this matter because the competition came from Czecho Slovakia or from Belgium instead of from Germany. It is quite possible to go on putting on special tariffs as under Part II of the Act against goods of German origin. The Germans are our late enemies, and the natural sentiment of the people of this country is to keep out German goods. But there are signs now of a fall similar to the fall in the mark taking place in the French franc. One has already taken place in the Greek drachme. You have, indeed, the currencies all over the East of Europe dropping in a way that suggests that they are going to follow the example of the mark. Are we to have similar tariffs levied on French goods in such an event? I say such a thing would be disastrous. It would stultify finally our relations with France. It would be most unjust, seeing that because of the fall in the exchange a special tariff is put on German goods, it 1308 exempted goods coming from other countries where an exactly similar fall in the currency has occurred. I suggest that the whole of our foreign relations, the whole of our trade, and the whole question of the employment of the people of this country would benefit and not suffer if we treated German trade and German manufactured goods on exactly the same lines as it is certain we shall treat French trade and French manufactured goods. We should treat German goods with the same indulgence as we extend to our Allies. It would be possible under the present arrangement to be perpetually setting up fresh Customs barriers interfering with trade, whereas our policy should be to break down the present Customs barriers and to set free all industry. We should go in for the establishment of Free Trade as the only possible basis on which our foreign relations can be founded.
§ Sir ALFRED MOND
I intervene in this Debate at this stage, because I understand that the Amendment which I have placed on the Table—asking for the appointment of a Select Committee of both Houses to inquire into the Administration of the Act—will not be called upon, and therefore it is only right, both to myself and to those with whom I am associated, that I should say a few words as to the reasons which led up to that Amendment. I have listened with very great attention to the interesting Debate we have had this afternoon. All the speeches I have heard from both sides of the House lead me more strongly than ever to the conclusion that the Amendment which I have placed on the Paper should be the one we are discussing—the one which ought to be accepted by the Government. My right hon. Friend the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J Simon), in a very interesting speech, did not endeavour, and, I think, quite rightly, to cover the whole ground of the controversy as to how far or how much of the Safeguarding of Industries Act and other Measures of that kind are or are not an infringement of the economic doctrine of Free Trade. I agree with my right hon. Friend there is little to be gained by such an investigation. He reminded me of the days when I was an active opponent of what was known as the McKenna tariff—when I was one of a devoted and zealous band of Free Trade fanatics, and when I 1309 fought proposals line by line, and Clause by Clause, in a manner which my successors never succeeded in doing when I was on the Front Bench. No doubt they did their very best. At the time when the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) and his Coalition Government brought in their tariffs we were informed, no doubt with perfect sincerity, that the duties were intended for war purposes and to secure the exclusion from this country of certain goods. We were also told, although I was sceptical at the time, and my scepticism has proved to be well justified, that the duties would not survive the War. Duties, as a matter of fact, are very apt to survive every possible contingency, because no Chancellor of the Exchequer and no Government is likely to find it more convenient to take off duties than to retain them.
As a matter of fact, the question of Free Trade was not really challenged at that time. The whole question was as to key industries, and a Committee was set up, on which I served, to deal with it. We worked very hard and took a great deal of evidence, and finally endeavoured to establish what a key industry was. Many questions were addressed to the experts of the Board of Trade, and finally certain decisions were come to, dealing particularly with articles the absence of which proved very detrimental to us during the War. I imagine that a good many-people still feel that at some future time we ought not to run the risk of being put in the same position in regard to those articles. I think my right hon. Friend made out a very strong case indeed that the administration of the whole Act has gone far outside what was intended when the Act was passed. As one of the Members of the late Coalition, and as a Liberal Free Trader, I had something to do with the framing of the Act, and I say, candidly, that I never anticipated that the Schedules would be extended in the manner they have been. The late Government shortly before its release from office, set up a Committee, which included the late Minister for Education and myself, as well as the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, to investigate the working of the Act. We never completed our labours, but we did go into the matter at some length and got explanations from the Customs point of view as to why duties were put on articles which were never manufactured in this 1310 country. A good many things were explained to us from the Revenue point of view rather than from the Board of Trade policy. It showed that when once a start is made with tariffs, one never knows where they are going to stop.
I hope my right hon. Friend who is now in charge of the Board of Trade will look into this matter, because I believe the whole administration of the Act requires overhauling. The key industries provisions were started with the specific and definite object of enabling new industries, embarked upon during the War, to get protection as against the Germans. It was a definite object of endeavouring to keep alive in this country industries started during the War in a very scientific manner—industries which were set up in this country at the most critical moment of the War. I really think that, apart from the general question involved in that part of the Act, there should be an impartial inquiry into the whole question. When my right hon. Friend dealt with the question of exchange, he said he objected very much to the Germans selling goods here at a lower price than they sold them in Germany. I would support the Government in preventing that being done. We have been told we must take into account the exchange. My right hon. Friend the Member for Spen Valley said it was a perfectly absurd thing to have a fixed figure with a fluctuating exchange. We tried to work out a system with a rising and falling figure, but our expert advisers told us that it was impossible to have a tariff operating on those lines. We therefore adopted a rough and ready figure which would, we supposed, meet the difference between the external and the internal exchange. It is very difficult to estimate such a figure. We were informed on the authority of the Board of Trade officials that there was fear of an enormous flood of exports of German steel and iron which would submerge the whole or our heavy metal industry.
I would like to put this proposition. Suppose such a thing had happened. Suppose by means of a bad exchange the Germans for a period of five years could have closed down our pig and steel furnaces in this country, have put our skilled men out of the industry, and have reduced our plant to an obsolescent and depreciated condition. Would it have been possible after that lapse of five years 1311 to restart the industry? Could anyone in this House view such a prospect with equanimity? Could we allow steel and iron to cease to be manufactured in this country for five or ten years? It do not think anyone could agree to that. A country which has not steel or iron industry is absolutely defenceless. It would be in the position of a Central African savage who with a bow and arrow was trying to fight a man with a machine gun. Therefore, quite apart from the economic question, on the score of defence, it would be a most dangerous thing to do. As a matter of fact, however, none of these alarming predictions have proved well founded. The whole history of the case has been entirely different to what was expected, and as a matter of fact we have merely had long discussions on wretched questions like that of fabric gloves. Personally I do not mind saying that I was against the Fabric Gloves Order, on the general principle that it would damage a larger industry; and I think the Committees which investigate these problems should have regard, not only to a particular industry, but to the whole effect on the industries of the country. I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend as to that, hut surely to say that a duty of 33⅓ per cent, would not raise the price would indicate that one had forgotten all the economics one had ever learned, for there would be no use for a protective duty which left the price where it was.
I should like to say a word also on the question of chemicals, about which I used to know something, and about which I hope soon to know something more. I cannot understand why it should be necessary to analyse ordinary commercial chemicals in order to find out whether they are chemically pure for laboratory purposes. Surely that can be easily avoided. Chemically pure chemicals for laboratory purposes are not made in tons, and anyone who imports them ought to be able to see straightaway, from the analysis furnished with the invoice, whether or not the goods come within this classification. It seems to be a waste of time and money to go on acting in this way. I am certain, however, that that is not a defect of the Act, but a defect of the way in which it is being carried out. You can carry the question of 1312 evasion to a point of such delicacy that you are spending vast sums of money in order to protect a very small amount of revenue, and, although that may be dear to the official heart, it is vexatious to the trader and not economical to the country.
When you come to the very much more difficult question of the education of chemists, there is some conflict of opinion. The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) said that we wanted to educate more chemists, and then he complained that the chemists, when educated, only got very small fees. That is exactly what was happening in Germany before the War. Chemists were getting rather lower salaries than fitters. Obviously, if more chemists are produced than the market can absorb, their salaries fall. Surely, if the chemical industry in this country is to be discouraged, we ought to discourage people from becoming chemists. That, however, is a very different question from that of our dye industry, which is one of the most difficult questions that we have to face in this country. There are two or three fundamental difficulties which face us. We are endeavouring to establish one of the most difficult industries in the world in the face of most able competition, which has been working now for some 40 or 50 years, and which was started by some of the ablest commercial and technical men, who had a very long experience behind them. To establish such an industry here in absolutely free competition is a task which I believe to be almost—I will not say quite—impossible. On the other hand, failure to do so would be a very great disappointment to many. I do not think that-anyone, whether manufacturer or user of dyes, has been satisfied with the way in which the Act has been carried on, and this is another matter for very serious inquiry. The question is whether it is worth our while to make so great an effort, and, if so, are we doing it in the best possible way? Are we not hampering our textile industry by our system of licensing, and are there not other ways in which we can get more direct results for the benefit of our dye industry which we wish to maintain? France, America and Japan have put on very have duties in order to create a dye industry, and America 1313 to-day has grown to be a formidable rival to Germany. She is manufacturing on a scale which the Germans did not anticipate—not in quality, but in quantity. France has also made great progress, and has, I believe, just recently come to terms with the German dye makers.
This is a very important question, and I am satisfied that many of the complaints from users of dyes have more justification than my right hon. Friend is led to believe by those who advise him. There were bitter complaints, which at one time were well justified, that dye users had to buy dyes which would not stand washing, and that, when those goods went to Eastern markets, they became very much spoiled, ruining reputations of very long standing. The only part of my right hon. Friend's speech which gave me a little ray of hope in that direction was when he said that, in connection with the Industrial Chemical Research Council, he is having some inquiry made as to how some of these new processes are functioning. I do not think we can be quite satisfied, however, with that. What we ask for in our Amendment is an impartial inquiry, by Members of both Houses, to go very much further than that, and really to examine the whole problem de novo in a different atmosphere from that in which we embarked upon this legislation some years ago. As far as I am concerned, I feel, though with some regret, that I cannot vote for the Amendment of my right hon. Friend. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I feel some regret, certainly, because I am not satisfied with the position as it stands. I do not, however, feel disposed to vote against the Amendment unless I can get a promise of a really impartial inquiry of a character which would really enable the problem to be solved in the way in which experience shows that it ought to be.
§ Mr. CLAYTON
I crave the indulgence of the: House as a new Member. I should not have intervened in this Debate if I had not had special practical experience of the effect of this Act upon industries in my own immediate town. If the House will permit me, I will refer specially to the manufacture of tungsten in this country. Between 1901 and 1903, a firm 1314 of research chemists in the neighbourhood of London made a number of experiments on the method of manufacturing tungsten. In 1907, the inventors brought their process to my company, and suggested that we should undertake the manufacture with them in Widnes of the metal tungsten. The metal tungsten, I might tell those who do not know, is used in the manufacture of high-speed steel which is necessary in the engineering trade. Prior to the War, tungsten was obtained from Germany. In 1907, my company looked into the process that was submitted by these inventors, and found that it was sound commercially as compared with the then price of tungsten in this country. They made arrangements for the supply of the raw materials, and approached the users of tungsten here, largely located in Sheffield. The users of tungsten agreed to purchase some of the tungsten we proposed to make, but, before our new manufacture could be started, the German firms who up to that date had been supplying the tungsten heard of our threatened competition, and they approached the users in Sheffield, telling them that, if they would make a long contract with them, they would supply them with tungsten at a very greatly reduced price—a price, in fact, that was little above the bare cost of production. They also told them that if they took any of our product they would cut off their supplies. The result was that at that time the manufacture of tungsten in this country was abandoned.
Almost immediately after War started, it was found to be absolutely necessary that we should have a manufactory of tungsten in this country, and this time the Sheffield users approached the same inventors and decided to put up a works in Widnes, utilising the plans that had already been prepared, and working the process that we had had to abandon previously. By this means, during the War, the country was supplied with the necessary tungsten, and this firm and two or three other firms that made tungsten alloys kept this country supplied. Now the Widnes firm is again meeting with German competition, and this time the production in Germany is at a very low price owing to the effect of the exchange. Without the assistance of this Act of Parliament, the Widnes firm would have to stop manufacture.
1315 I have taken this example, but the case is similar to that of a number of other manufactures. There are the special synthetic organic manufactures used in medicine and in photography, and there are also the special chemical and optical glass manufactures, all of which are kept alive by this Act. In the aggregate, they are employing a large number of men, and, at a time like this, when we want all the industries that we can think of established in this country, it seems to be absolute folly to scrap this Act of Parliament. It appears to me that it would be equally justifiable for the War Office to close the armament factories if they could buy guns from Krupps at a cheaper rate than that at which they could manufacture them in this country. I myself have an open mind as to the methods that should be used to keep these essential manufactures going in this country, but, until a better alternative method is submitted, I am absolutely against the repeal of the Safeguarding of Industries Act.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
The hon. Member who has just sat down, in what I believe is a maiden speech, has contributed some useful concrete facts to the discussion, which has already tended, perhaps, to be a little more abstract than I should prefer it to be. I myself would have been perfectly content to leave the case for this Amendment as it was presented by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon). It was a massive argument, which proceeded step by step, as it seemed to me, in an inevitable course of logical demonstration, and, so far as I have heard, it has not yet been attempted to be answered. I therefore only intervene—because my own opinions upon this matter have been expressed upon every stage of this legislation before it developed into an Act of Parliament— for a very short time, and for a limited purpose. The question before us is not the question as it presented itself to the last Parliament—whether or not there is a prima facie case for legislation of this kind. The question before us to-night, after having had now over a year's experience of the actual working of this legislation, is whether it has or has not proved to be effective and successful. After the speech of my right hon. and 1316 learned Friend, it seems to me that that is a very difficult proposition to maintain. I felt how difficult it was to maintain when I listened to the speech of the President of the Board of Trade. He began—I hoped for better things—by going back to the Paris Resolutions. There are people in our social life—we have all seen them—who come, perhaps with rapidity, and with a rapidity which they do not expect, to wealth and position —perhaps they have even been honoured by the favour of the Crown—who fly at once to the Heralds' College for a coat of arms and a pedigree. That is the case with the authors of this legislation. It is very flattering to those who, like myself, and like the present Prime Minister, had a share in the authorship of the Paris Resolutions, that our parentage should be invoked for this little, misbegotten child, which, after a very sickly infancy, is now, as I venture to hope and believe, approaching a rapid and not a premature demise.
I am not going again—because it would be a pure waste of the time of the House— to point out—the easiest task in the whole world—that the Paris Resolutions have no more to do with this legislation than the "House that Jack Built." They lend no colour or countenance of any sort or kind. They were framed with a totally different object, in view of a totally different set of contingencies—contingencies which have never occurred. Let me point out—I am not going to waste time by repeating what I have said, certainly half a dozen times in this House and more times than I like to think outside of it—that they were qualified by all the participants in these Resolutions, to whatever State they belonged, by this proviso, that none of them were to be bound, in the pursuit of the common economic policy which, as a matter of defence when we were challenged by our enemies, we were prepared to adopt, in any sort of way to vary or tamper with their own fiscal system. I would never have assented, nor, I believe, would any of my colleagues in that Government have assented, to the Paris Resolutions unless they had been safeguarded by that proviso. I quite agree—and it does not admit of any dispute—that in the War we found ourselves deficient in certain materials, in commodities which would have been of use, and, indeed, were vital 1317 and essential to its active prosecution. I was quite prepared then, as I am prepared now, to take such steps as are-reasonable and practicable to prevent the recurrence of any such danger.
Let me point out to the House once more—I am sorry to quote my own words, but I do not think I can improve on them for the moment—the condition under which alone I was prepared, and, I believe, any of my Liberal colleagues were prepared and, for the matter of that, for aught I know, my Unionist colleagues, to assent to that course. I said, in this House, on the 10th of May, 1921:I am assuming that industries necessary for war purposes ought to be conserved in this country, and I lay down three conditions, which seem to me not to be theoretical or abstract, but to be abundantly justified by experience. I say, in the first place, that you ought not to divert labour or capital from more essential forms of production. I say, in the next place, that you ought not to foist upon the British consumer, or, what is equally important, upon the British producer, articles inferior in quality and excessive in price.A thing which you are doing.I say, thirdly"—and to this I attach the greatest importance—that the profits resulting from State assistance given to these industries, after providing reasonable remuneration for those who have incurred the risk of subscribing capital and embarking labour, should be for the community, and not for particular interests."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th May, 1921; col. 1724, Vol. 141.]Except subject to those governing and over-riding conditions, and those alone, I would never have consented to take a part in supporting State assistance to industries in this country. A tariff of 33⅓ per cent., or whatever it is, is the worst possible means of obtaining really beneficial and satisfactory results. It violates all those conditions, and in particular it puts in the pocket of a selected and privileged part of the community profits which, after they are made for public purposes and in the general interests of the community and under the auspices of the State, ought to go, not to any particular class, but to the relief of the taxpayers as a whole. That is all I have to say on the well-worn theme of the Paris Resolutions.
Let me now, for two or three minutes, ask the House to address itself to a more practical and important consideration. 1318 Throughout the controversies and the debates which preceded this legislation, I attached much more importance to the second than the first part of the Act. The first part of the Act has produced, it is true, this bewildering jumble of "Key" industries, so called, many of which my right hon. Friend the Member for West Swansea (Sir A. Mond) has pointed out were entirely unknown in this country at the time of the passage of the Act. They amount, I think, to 6,000–
§ Mr. ASQUITH
6,300, after the various amplification and developments which were scheduled under the fostering and prolific energies of the Board of Trade.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
Categories, at any rate, Categories of commodities. Six thousand three hundred categories. A catalogue of categories which are grouped together comprehensively under the generic name of "key industries." The thing is a perfect farce. It is worse than a farce [An HON. MEMBER: "It is a fraud!"] I do not like to use language like that, but it is worse than a farce. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen Valley has shown in his speech—not by abstract demonstration, but by concrete illustration, case after case—by the small degree of artificial protection which you give to one or another of these mostly infantile, experimental and immature forms of production, whatever advantages the producers may reap from them, the injury to business at large, in delay in the ridiculous processes—which my right hon. and learned Friend subjected to a searching analysis. You search for a commodity —which is a trade commodity, and everybody knows it to be a trade commodity—to see if there be not, peradven-ture, some infinitesimal proportion of a thing which would be used for laboratory purposes. It is condemned, and I believe condemned without the dissentient voice of any authority, by the whole banking and commercial community of this country. I myself was invited in the early part of the present year to an absolutely non-party meeting in the City of London, convened by the bankers, merchants and brokers of that great community. I was invited to that meeting, 1319 and the resolution to which I spoke was proposed by the chairman of one of the leading banks. I do not think I have ever been in what to me was such respectable company before. The proportion of Conservatives among those gentlemen was three, four or five to one. They have never given a Liberal vote in their lives, and they have kept the City of London, from the political point of view, an impregnable fortress of Toryism for the last 40 years. Without a dissentient voice they carried the resolution, condemning this Act and demanding its speedy repeal. I am not now dealing with abstractions and economic dialectics. I am dealing with practical experience, and that is the opinion of the vast bulk of the producers, distributors, bankers and the brokers of this country.
I want to say one word with regard to the second part. It is ostensibly directed against dumping. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Swansea and I used for long to be members of the same school of economics. I heard him say something about dumping to-night. I have never made any concealment of my own views about dumping. I never did in the great fiscal controversy carried on many years ago, when Mr. Joseph Chamberlain embarked on his campaign for what is called Tariff Reform. I have always said that Free Traders are not in any sense bound by their creed to be economic or fiscal quietists or tranquil-lists, and that if a case were made out where there was what I may call an organised attempt on the part of foreign producers acting, as they very often do, in rings and combinations under the shelter of a Protective Tariff of their own to try to undermine, oust and destroy particular branches of British production, there is nothing in the doctrine of Free Trade which compels me or any Free Trader td take that lying down. [Interruption.] I have said so now for 25 years. But I say, in the first place, show me such a case. There is no such case now. It is not pretended. I have never seen a scintilla of evidence in support of the contention, if it were advanced, that there is anything in the nature of dumping in that sense of the word going on in this country now. The first thing I say is show me such a case. The next thing I say is, show me that the remedy you pro- 1320 pose to apply will not be worse than the disease. I have never seen a form of tariff suggested by anyone which would not inflict more hardship on the country that resorted to it as a protection against dumping than any kind of dumping we have to fear.
But that is an old story. The novelty in regard to this case was the new factor produced by the fluctuations of exchange. When this Act was before the House more than a year ago the value of the mark was somewhere between 250 and 300. The corresponding figure to-day is between 30,000 and 40,000. Here is a very simple proposition. I put it to the House. If 33⅓ per cent., which is the figure fixed in this Act, is a proper figure to fix to protect the unfortunate producer in this country against the bounty which the German producer in his own country gains through the depreciation of the mark to 300, what is the figure you ought to fix now? I am not saying it ought necessarily to be a precise proportion, but is it not perfectly ridiculous? We are supposed to be a body of business men. If 33⅓ per cent. was a year ago, under these conditions, an adequate or, at any rote, a reasonable safeguard, under the conditions now prevailing is it not perfectly illusory? We could not then foresee what the fluctuations were going to be. As I pointed out to the House then, it is inherent in the case. Unless you have a sliding scale which will proportion the import duty to the constant fluctuations, not only in the mark—it is not a question merely of the mark. What about the franc? What about the lira? What about the Czecho-Slovakian currency, which is in a very much better position? What about Poland? What about Austria? I really do not think a more unpractical proposition ever entered into the mind of man. Of course it has been perfectly useless for its alleged purpose. Let me add this, which is also a most relevant consideration, which I think has not been quite sufficiently adverted to. When this Measure was before the House it was suddenly discovered that we have, such things as commercial treaties with other nations and that Part II of this Act, in the form in which it was presented to the House, was a flagrant violation of those commercial treaties.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
It is no use the right hon. Gentleman shaking his head. I am stating a fact, witness to which is borne by the terms of the Act itself, because it was found necessary to introduce in Committee a Clause preserving the authority and the integrity of these commercial treaties. What is the result? [Interruption.] The Paris Resolutions were directed against our enemies. The result is that the provisions of the second part of this Act do not apply to the United States, and they do not apply to a score of countries, but they apply to Prance just as much as they do to Germany, so that you have this double set of absurdities. You have a patchwork application to particular countries, while a great number of countries, equally important commercially, are excluded from its operation, and you have a provision to deal with the fluctuations of exchange which is fixed, stereotyped, unvarying, while the exchanges themselves are jumping up and down with an infinitude of variations and fluctuations. This is my final appeal to the House. Do not go back to abstract economics. Do not even go back to the controversy between Free Trade and Protection, important as it is, and living as it is. Without going back to either the one or the other, take this Act as it stands, judge it by the experience we have had, forecast its future operation if it is to be permitted to remain in existence, and is there a man amongst us, from the evidence which has been brought before the House tonight, who does not see that it is dead and ought to be buried?
§ Lieut.-Commander ASTBURY
I was very glad to hear some words which fell from the right hon. Gentleman when he said that if any organised attempt were made by any other country to destroy trade in this country he would take measures to stop it, and I hope to show him that there is need for protective measures in respect of the dye trade. It has also been said that the Mover of the Amendment has not been answered. It is with some trepidation that I stand up before a man of his legal eminence, the right hon. Member for Spen Valley, to answer any argument which he has put forward, but practically the whole of my life has been engaged in the dye trade, and I am a large consumer of dyes, and therefore if this Bill 1322 was going to do any damage to the dye consumer I should be the first man to vote against it. I speak as a Free Trader, but we should cast aside the question of Free Trade or Tariff Reform and discuss this matter on its business merits, and as long as I stand in this House as a business man I shall act on that principle. Let us examine the dye question. When the War broke out, if it had not been for the British Alizarine Company and our Swiss friends, every dye works in this country would have been closed down in three months. Every dye consumer said then: "This thing shall never happen again! Never will we put into the hands of any foreign country the power to close down our industries and throw hundreds of thousands of men out of employment." In 1880 this country was manufacturing alizarine. The Germans went on cutting the price until they brought it down to fivepence. Then our works closed. The Germans immediately put the price up to half-a-crown. A company of dye users set up the British Alizarine Company, not to make a profit, but in order to give them that dye which was necessary for their use at a reasonable price. If it had not been for that company and for the limited amount which Switzerland could send us, the whole of our factories would have been closed during the War. It is all very well to say we shall never have another war. I hope we never shall. But I am going to argue the question purely and simply from the business point of view. Germany has got all her intermediates from this country. Is it not a rather puerile thing that we should have to send all our intermediates over to Germany and that she should make them into dyes and send them here at an increased cost? Is it not better that the whole of that process should be carried out in this country and that with those intermediates we should give work to thousands of chemists in order to produce the dyes? If you remember that before the War Germany exported in dyes over £97,000,000 worth per annum, double our coal output and more than our textile output, what would it mean to us if we could get the industry going in this country? I am going to try to show that it is quite possible in this country for us to become the biggest colour-producing country in the world, because I am going to tell the House what has gone on since this Act came into existence. The question was 1323 raised by the right hon. Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), who said that if you go for a licence you get inferior colour. I can tell him that my works have been going on all this time, with production spreading over great varieties, and I have never once had an inferior dye. The dye goes through the laboratory, and is checked by our chemists. I have never had any difficulty in getting any dye. I think these facts are sufficient to show that this Act is on the whole a good Act. I am willing to admit that there may have been mistakes made here and there. That always happens in new legislation. The dye users of this country who urged the Board of Trade in 1918 to bring forward this Act are in favour of the Act at the present time, and they would certainly not support it if all the allegations that are made about people not getting their colours or getting inferior colours were true.
I will give a few examples of the German game in regard to dyes. We manufacture kymric green, which was the equivalent of the German cyanine green. The German price was 37s. 6d. We put the dye on the market at 20s. As soon as the Germans were aware that our dye was on the market at 20s. they dropped their price to 15s., and only a few weeks ago they dropped it to 10s. For diamine black Germany was charging 8s. 1d. a pound. We started to manufacture, and she immediately dropped to 3s. 6d. per pound. Germany had another colour, Orange No. 2, at 8s. Id. a pound. When we got it on the market she came down to 2s. 6d. a pound. Alizarine irisolo Germany manufactured at 53s. 7d. a pound. When we put it on the market, she immediately dropped to 22s. 4d. I could quote hundreds of other instances. The point I want to make is this, that the German is no fool. He was out to beat and conquer us in the War, and he is out to get hold of our commerce and what we produce in this country. In 1913, we imported 367 tons 884 cwt. of colour, for which we paid Germany £1,892,055, or an average of 11d. per pound. In 1920, we imported from Germany 196 tons 658 cwts., for which we paid Germany £7,535,194, an average of 6s. 10d. per pound, or 7½ times the pre-War price.
If this Act were repealed, Germany, with her huge combine known as the I.G. 1324 Combine, which comprises all the works in Germany, could smash every works in this country within six months. There is no doubt about that. She could then charge any price she liked. Where would our textile goods be then? When Germany had smashed our dye industries, she could charge any price she liked for the dyes which we required for our textile goods. Furthermore, she could erect large factories in her own country, use her dyestuffs to put on the cloth, and then, if she allowed us to have any dye at all, she could charge us such an exorbitant price that we could not compete with her. The charges made against this Act come from two sources. In the first place, they are made by the agents. The right hon. Member for the Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) said he had been at a meeting of merchants who condemned this Act. They are out to kill the Act. They are not manufacturers; they do not employ labour; they are simply merchants and agents, getting one per cent, or one and a half per cent, for buying foreign stuff and shipping it abroad, and not giving our industries any chance. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the bankers?"] Bankers are not always good business men. This is not a banker's job. How could a banker go through the work that I have to do? There sue also a certain number of people who are political fanatical Free Traders, who, because they are Free Traders, will not make an exception even if they see that by making an exception they are really going to bring a benefit to the country. There are certain men who never will turn from their Free Trade, just as there are Tariff Reformers who will never change their views.
It has been said that the Dyestuffs Act is killing our export trade. Lord Emmott, speaking at Oldham a few days ago, said that this Act is damaging our export trade. I wish that before he makes this sort of assertion Lord Emmott would get some figures from the Board of Trade, or that he would get the different costs of the articles. I will give him something to answer. Dyed piece goods, which consume most of the dyestuffs per yard, show an increased price over 1914 of 125 to 150 per cent. Printed cloth, which uses less dyestuffs, shows an increase of 200 per cent., while bleached cloth, which uses no dyestuffs at all, shows an increase of 350 per cent. How on earth, in the face of 1325 these figures, can Lord Emmott or anybody else say that this Dyestuffs Act is ruining our foreign trade? Take 150 yards of cloth, the colour that is put on that cloth—I have said it before in this House, and I am willing to show any hon. Member my statistics if he doubts my statement—does not amount to more than 3 or 5 per cent, at the outside. The whole of the other charges are for coal, wages and upkeep. Therefore, even if we have to pay more for the dyes during the stage while the dye firms of this country are building up their business, it would not make any very material difference. I am willing to pay from Is. to 2s. a lb. more, and it will not make the slightest difference to my production.
We have been told that a great deal of cloth is going abroad. Switzerland, Alsace and Holland have been mentioned. Hon. Members do not tell the whole story. Cloth went to these countries before the War, just as it is going now. What is the reason that a certain amount of printed cloth is going to Switzerland? It is because they have a patent finish in Switzerland which this country has been trying to imitate for years, but without success. We cannot get that finish. There is something in. the water or in the atmospheric conditions in Switzerland which we have not got here which enables the Swiss to Ret this particular finish. Merchants who want that particular finish have to send goods to Switzerland, because we cannot give it them here. In regard to Alsace, we know that certain classes of goods are printed at Mulhausen. Where we print a mile of cloth, Mulhausen only prints a yard. She is engaged in novelties, silks, voiles and very fine classes of work, which no printer would undertake in this country because it would not pay, owing to short runs and expensive engraving. There is no more cloth going from this country to these places abroad than was the case before the War.
What progress has the dye industry made since they started this scheme? I can give the colours that have been actually produced in this country, and they are equally as good as the German article, because they have been tested in my own laboratory. In direct colours, taking them in the bulk, we have produced 500 new colours. When this Act came into force, the colour users informed the British Dyestuffs Corporation that if they could produce for them 80to 90 new 1326 colours, it would be sufficient to put them on to something else. We have produced 500 new colours, and we have also produced 516 colours which are the equivalent of German colours, but these latter colours are not in circulation at the present time and I dare not mention them, because it is a trade secret. I will, however, show them in confidence to anyone. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why mention them?"] I said, in confidence. That means that 1,016 new colours have been produced. These dyes are direct colours, acid wool colours, chrome and mordant colours, basic colours, and sulphur colours. We have also produced in this country what we have never produced before, and that is, vat colours. In vat colours alone we have produced 28. That is a range which practically any works could work upon. We have also produced 82 chemicals for research work alone, which we had not in this country before and which Germany had exclusively. It is said that the colour users, though in favour of this Measure in 1918, were not in favour of it now. On this point may I read an extract from the report of a meeting of the Colour Users' Association, held in Manchester on 5th July, this year. Mr. Sutcliffe-Smith, the Chairman of the Association, said:If the Dyestuffs Acts weare withdrawn today without further safeguard there is not a shadow of doubt that the huge German trust known as the I.G., with its enormous resources and the depreciated currency, could very shortly smash the British industry by taking advantage of this country's shortsighted policy. The German makers would then have the textile trade at their mercy, so far as colour is concerned, charging as much as they wished, as they are practically doing with any special colours which they directly import.To say that the colour users are not just as keen on this point as in 1919 is not correct.
§ Lieut.-Commander ASTBURY
Yes, I think that I have had some dyes from Scotland. Of course, most of my dyes are bought from the British Dyestuffs, the Clayton Aniline and a number of smaller producers in this country, and a certain number of dyes, of course, from Switzerland. I cannot understand why any representative of labour or of the consumers should be in favour of the repeal of this Act, It is the consumers who have forced this Act upon the Govern- 1327 ment. If I thought it disadvantageous to industry I would vote for its repeal to-morrow, but there is no greater mistake than for statesmen to look merely at what is happening to-day, and not to look also at what may happen four or five years hence. There is no shadow of doubt that, if this Bill went, Germany would go on cutting, as she did with the Alizarine Company, and as she is doing now, until all the money spent on putting up these big colour factories had gone and until she had absolutely wiped out our trade. I ask hon. Members opposite not to press for the repeal of this Act. Those who had to go through the experience which we had to go through during the War, when the supply of colour was shut off or sold at these enormous prices, must remember that, even if we do not have another war, if we once let Germany occupy the position which she occupied before the War this country will be ruined in her textile trade, and when an Act of Parliament is so necessary, I cannot understand how my hon. Friends opposite can vote for its repeal, which would throw some thousands of men out of work and prevent the erection of these big dye works in this country, which would give employment to thousands more.
§ Mr. H. H. SPENCER
As a new Member, I should hardly have intervened in this Debate were it not that I have some little knowledge of the textile trade and because I wish in particular to take up the statement of the President of the Board of Trade as to the colour users being in favour of the Dyestuffs Act. The right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Salford (Lieut.-Commander Astbury) said that the colour users were in favour of this unfortunate Act. The hon. Member went so far as to read from the last report of the Colour Users' Association. Both the hon. Member and the President of the Board of Trade were a good deal behindhand in their information. I agree that at the end of 1920 the colour users agreed to the Act, though they were by no means enthusiastic about it, but at the last annual meeting, after 18 months' experience of the operation of the Act, their opinion is expressed in the passage on page 9 of the Report, which says:The council desire to place on record its opinion that the colour users of this country 1328 are being placed in a disadvantageous competitive position owing to the extremely high prices which they are compelled to pay for their dyestuffs.I am sure that the President of the Board of Trade would not leave the House ignorant of that very essential later information as to what the colour users are doing. I have made some notes on the speech of the hon. Member for Salford, but in a maiden speech one must be excused if he cannot reply to everything said in Debate. It seemed to me that the hon. Member gave his own case away. He said that if we repeal this Act Germany would simply swamp our infant dye-making industry. Well, if it could do that why is it not swamping the infant Swiss dye-making industry, which is very much alive to-day and which undoubtedly saved the British textile industry during the War by supplying us with various dyes? [HON. MEMBERS: "From Germany!"] They were not from Germany. They were made from the intermediates and raw materials sent from this country for the purpose. Swiss dye-makers to-day are prepared to undertake to supply this country with dyes made exclusively from raw materials and intermediates supplied by this country, and our Licensing Committee will not allow us to import the dye-wares that we want. It is strange to remark how we who are in the trade arrive at the same conclusion by entirely different methods. The hon. Member for Salford told us that the value of the dyeware in a piece would not be more than from 3 to 5 per cent. Before the War we always calculated in the textile trade that the value of the colour of the dyeware used in a piece was about 1 per cent. The hon. Member says that it is not more than from 3 to 5 per cent. I have got confirmation in a telegram received this morning in pursuance of some inquiries. The telegram says:We have offered to supply wool green manufactured in Switzerland at 3s. 9d., lowest price in England 7s. 6d. Decision the Licensing Committee on the price question not known yet.There you have a specific, definite instance, which is not given in confidence, of a Swiss dyemaker offering to supply us British dye users with a very well-known dye at half the cost at which our Licensing Committee will allow us to get the British substitute. The Licensing Committee is not allowing that dye 1329 to come into this country, at any rate, until we get the decision for which we are waiting. The extra cost of the dye, as I have calculated it out on the goods that I sell myself, amounts to just about 2½ per cent, on the value of certain stable goods which I sell. I agree with my hon. Friend that the dyeware only does come to from 2½ to 5 per cent, of the value of the goods. But my point is, that the Swiss dyeware comes to 2½, and the British dyeware comes to 5 per cent., and the 2½ per cent, difference is a very important amount when we deal with the quantity and the profit with which we unfortunate textile people have to deal now. There was a time when 2½ per cent, did not matter. 2½ per cent, to-day means a lot.
I represent in one aspect an important trade. The textile trades are far more important than hon. Members on the other side of the House may think. The textile trades provide 43 per cent, of the whole of our manufactured exports, and they have provided fully that proportion for many years. Manchester and Bradford, in addition to being important manufacturing towns, are very essentially merchant towns, Manchester for the cotton trade and Bradford for the wool trade. Manufactures are concentrated there and spread throughout the world. My particular job in the trade is that of what my Labour Friends would call a parasite: I am a merchant; I make a humble and laborious living by buying and selling goods. I would like to tell my Labour Friends that when the slump comes, when our Japanese Allies and American associates and Colonial cousins and Continental friends all throw up their contracts and do not pay for the goods which they have bought, it is on the poor unfortunate merchants that the main loss falls. A great many of them have gone bankrupt.
Let me recall what happened during the War. I have come here with the very kind indulgence of the House to make my maiden speech, not a controversial speech at all, but a plain man's plea for the trade of my own town and district. When the War came, and we were cut off from the use of colour from Germany, our linen became dirty all 1330 of a sudden; the colour rubbed. The "Daily Herald" we could not read with clean hands, because they became dirty. The "Morning Post," to which we look for the early Bourbon view of affairs, we said was a dirty rag, and we laid it aside. Then there were leathers. I can imagine the leader of the Labour party going to play golf, and as a good Socialist carrying his own golf clubs. If he were caught in the rain, there would be a dirty brown streak over his shoulder where the strap of the bag had been. If I might mention such a subject as ladies' stockings, I would say that those of us in the trade have had many sad hours because of the complaints we have received that a considerable portion of the pigment on the lady's stocking was transferred before the stockings got into the wash.
We came to this position in the textile trade: The dyers were doing their best, working night and day with brain and hand, but they were compelled to give notice to the trade, and we merchants in our turn had to give similar notice, that we could take no risk whatever of the rubbing or of the fastness to light or the fading of goods sent out from this country. To men who for many years had taken a pride in sending away from England the best goods that the world can make, that was a very humiliating position to take up. But there was something very much more serious. The cutting off of our colour meant something far worse, because the raw materials for colour were the raw materials for explosives, and the method of building up colour was the method of building up explosives. There was no wonder that the Government and the nation during the War and after the War said "Never again shall we be taken in this way." We agreed that, whatever the cost, we must have security. We textile men are perfectly prepared to pay our share of that cost. I know no section of the community that is not prepared to pay its share of the cost of security. But security for explosives against the next war is as fully and truly a matter of national defence as the Royal Navy or the Royal Air Force. It is not fair to put the whole burden upon the colour users, of whom the textile trade is at least 75 per cent. Further, the very worst way of building up this factory which can be turned into an explosives factory at short notice, is in the mean- 1331 time to prevent our textile and other colour users from getting the best colours that the world can produce at the lowest possible price. If that policy is pursued what is to happen? It will mean that by the time we have built up our colour factory we shall not be using any textiles to which to apply the colour.
The Chairman of the Colour Users' Association is a leading dyer in Bradford. He is a great personal friend of my own, but he is not the only authority on this subject. The textile users may be consulted, I think. On 15th December, 1920, the Bradford Merchants' Association, a non-political association of men who represent practically the whole of the export trade in woven wool textiles, and who may be presumed to know what they are talking about, passed the following Resolution:That while recognising the vital necessity to this country of the manufacture of dye wares, and affirming the full willingness of the merchants of Bradford to bear their share of the necessary cost, this association nevertheless views with alarm the proposal to give to any body, however constituted, the power to prevent the dye users in the textile trade from having the right and opportunity to procure the best dyes in the world, however produced.
§ Lieut.-Commander ASTBURY
That is a Resolution passed in 1920. The Resolution I read was passed in 1922.
§ Mr. H. H. SPENCER
It was resolved further on the same dateThat in view of the fact that it is now over two yean? since the victorious termination of the War, this association declares that it is time the dyeing trade withdrew its declaration that it can take no risk on goods which arise from looseness or fading of colour and that the trade should now undertake to give a standard of dye equal to pre-War.The answer of the Government within eight days of the passing of that Resolution was to pass this unfortunate Act. That Resolution is now two years old, It would be incredible if I had come here without having verified my authority. Four years after the War we are still in the same humiliating position, that the dyers can take no risk whatever on the fastness or wearing qualities of their dyes.
§ Mr H. H. SPENCER
They may do. I do not want to talk soley about my own 1332 trade. I began to talk about the trade of my own town. I will talk now of my own business, if I may. Three years ago I sent away £2,000 worth of printed delaine. It is a ladies' fabric made of Australian wool, spun, woven, and printed in the Bradford district. It is a cloth in which we have always had the keenest competition with the Mulhouse and Alsatian people. We fought honourably and frankly for nearly 40 years for that trade in the neutral markets of the world. As I said, I got an order from Denmark for £2,000 worth of printed delaine shortly after the War. At the same time my customer bought a similar quantity of printed delaine from Alsace. I do not suppose there was more than £20 or £30 worth of colour in the whole consignment of goods. But the colour ran—what we call bled. I had to allow £l,100 to get the goods passed. That is not the worst of it. Losses we can write off, but trade which brings employment to our people we cannot afford to lose. We have lost that trade to our foreign competitor. I might possibly get it back, but only in one way. I must go to Denmark and I must say, "Give me another chance to do this wool delaine trade with you," and my customer will reply, much as a magistrate would speak to a man in the dock who has been drunk and disorderly and has assaulted the police, "What guarantee will you give that you will not do it again?" My Danish friends will say, "What promise can you give that your goods will not do what they did last time?" I shall say, "The British dyers give no guarantee as to quality or fastness of any kind."
It is a shameful and humiliating position to be put in, and the folly of it is the folly not only of the Dyestuffs Act, but the administration of that Act by the Board of Trade Committee. Last-week, by the gracious permission of my Whips, I went down to Bradford to verify my references, and to make sure that I would not inadvertently lead this House astray. I interviewed leading dyers, leading colour users, including Mr. Sutcliffe Smith, whom the last speaker quoted. I put three questions to them:Are British dyes to-day as good as the dyes you got from abroad before the War, or as the dyes you can get from Switzerland to-day?1333 The universal answer was: "They are not as good." The next question was:Are the prices of British dyes as low as the prices at which you could import similar dyes from Switzerland?The universal answer was: "The prices are not as low. We are charged as much as 30, 40, 50 and even 100 per cent, higher for British dyes." The telegram I have already quoted is a proof. That is a very important dye which we use in dyeing our wives' navy blue serges and gabardine:? The price in Basle is half the price that the Government is compelling British users; to pay for the British substitute. My third question, and the most serious, was:Will you dyers now at last give us the pre-War guarantees of fastness of colour and proof against Tubbing.They said, "We will not give you those guarantees." Do you want any more to condemn this Act? Let me give another instance to prove my argument. The President of the Board of Trade said the other night that he did not know of one single case of unemployment caused by what in the North we call the Stoppage of Industry Act. I can give him real concrete cases of unemployment caused, at any rate, by its sister Act, the Dye-stuffs Act. In normal times in the textile trade when spinning is busy weaving is busy, and dyeing is generally busy. For the last two years we have gone through an unparalleled slump, such as agricultural Members have no conception of, and about which they do not seem to care very much. Out of a total population of something under 300,000 in Bradford, our live register of unemployment came to 56,000. The official in charge said he did not anticipate that this register would grow any bigger, because all the textile employés were on the register. They were not all wholly unemployed, but they were on the dole, some whole time and some part time unemployed. Things now are not so bad as they were. The spinning is not very bad, the weaving is not as bad as it has been for a long time past. Neither is dyeing, but the dyeing is, by a long way, the worst of our staple trades, and that is because the tendency now is towards the loss of our dyeing trade. There are thousands of pieces leaving Bradford undyed and going abroad. When I pointed out that I myself had shipped large quantities of undyed goods, it was put round my constituency that I was sending goods away 1334 to be dyed by the foreigner, which is the very thing I have been trying not to do. What is to be done, if my customer comes to me and says, "Because your dyes are inferior, because you will give me no guarantee, because you charge me twice as much as I can get the work done for abroad, I may buy your goods, but your dyers shall have no share in the prosperity"?
Tha labour employed in our dye works is mainly male adult labour—the fathers. of families—and the labour in our spinning and weaving works is mainly women labour, and the unemployment of male labour, that of the fathers of families, is the worst sort of unemployment one can have. What we want in our trade is tranquillity and security. As for tranquillity, let me call attention to a detail which, though only a detail, is one of the things that break one's heart in business and ultimately ruin a business. We get our range of shades, the newest colours we can get, and I can tell you, notwithstanding all the boasting of British dye-makers, if you want to get new, fine colours you have to go to Switzerland for them even to-day. We get that range of colours, the best we can, and we send our samples all over the world, but we have no security when our orders come home that we can get the dyes to dye them with. I have here a folio of 25 pages which would be a somnolent piece of reading to put before the House. This folio contains only the correspondence relating to one single application on one single dye which is not made in this country at all. The correspondence" is not confidential, and any Member who likes may see it. It took the Board of Trade Licensing Committee six months, after repeated refusals, to allow these people to import this particular colour—sulphon violet. Then they discovered that the dye was not made in England at all, and allowed these people to import what they wanted. Meanwhile the unfortunate hosiery trade which wanted the sulphon violet have had to go on staining the cuticle of the fair wearers of the hose. I am quite sure the feminine portion of the population will be in favour of getting fast dyes. The correspondence to which I refer began on the 6th August, 1921, and it finished on the 13th February last, when the Board of Trade Licensing Committee at last discovered that they could grant the licence, and when the 1335 next is required all the same rigmarole will have to be gone through over again.
May I put one argument to the President of the Board of Trade, and it is a very serious argument. I did not come here to make a political speech but to make a trade speech. It is a most fatal and mistaken policy on the part of the Board of Trade to try to knock down the Swiss industry, at any rate, pending the creation of our own, and that is still pending. The Swiss helped us during the War. There is not much gratitude about it, I know, because they did very well out of it and made huge profits, but they supplied us with a very large portion of the dyes we could not make ourselves and could not get from Germany. It is almost incredible to think that the policy of the Board of Trade is to favour the products of the German dye-makers as against the Swiss. One could not believe it without actual experience. We get certain reparation dyes from Germany, and that is about all the reparation we do get. We get about eight per cent, of the output of the German dye-making factories. One would suppose that the licensing Committee would sell dye-users these dyes at a price not higher than the price at which Germany is selling them to the world. Nothing of the sort. They sell them at the price at which the British dye-makers tell them that they can make the same dyes, which may be, and often is, twice as high a price as the Germans are selling them at. Then there comes along the Swiss, and you want to import some sulphon violet or green S or some other dye, and they say, "No, you cannot import it because we have stock of German reparation dyes," and thus it would seem that the policy of the Board of Trade Committee is to penalise the friendly Swiss for the benefit of the German dye-maker. I am sorry the Prime Minister is not here, because I wish to refer to the triumph of his policy of Protection. I believe he is a sincere Protectionist. Let me congratulate him upon the successful introduction of Protection into "this country, but it is Protection upside down; it is Protection inside out. It is a specific protection of the Roubaix textile manufacturer against me in my home trade, und I will tell the House why.
I was particular to verify my facts about this particular green dye, because 1336 it is a dye that every one of us here can understand. It is largely used for dyeing ladies' costume serges and ladies' gabardines, and we all know that our wives have been wearing these for years. I am a maker of these things, in addition to being a merchant, and my greatest competitors in the London market—and in the intervals of attending to the affairs of State in this House, I spend a little time doing business in the City—my greatest competitors in the London market for serges and gabardines are my friends from Roubaix. I agree with my whole heart with the Prime Minister that it is of the greatest necessity that we should work with France, but I begin to jib when it gives 2d. a yard advantage to my competitors in my home markets. The hon. and gallant Member for West Salford (Lieut.-Commander Astbury) told us it only came to 2½ or 5 per cent, on the value of the cloth. It is very strange how the calculation works out in regard to this Hssamine green, as it is called. The French are buying this Swiss dye at 3s. 9d. a 1b. in Basle, and we are buying a substitute, which may or may not be as good, for 7s. 6d. a lb. in Bradford, and that difference in the dye is equal to 2½ per cent, protection in favour of the Roubaix manufacturer as against the Bradford manufacturer. There is an absolutely concrete case of my workpeople being thrown out of work.
I have talked far too long for a first speech, but let me say two sentences in conclusion. We in the textile trade are not wanting to shirk our share of the cost. We will pay, as we have paid. I have known very few men grumble at the share of the taxes they have to bear, but we say, Let the security be borne on the Estimates; let us know what we have got to pay, what it is costing this country; put it on the Estimates, and do not hide it in a dye vat. My second argument is this. I have prepared a most elaborate case and forgotten it, but I think I have shown to this House that we are not getting the best dyes, and we are not getting them at the world's lowest price, and while we are prepared to pay our fair share of security, while we are prepared to do our duty like men and like citizens in carrying the country's burdens, we say that depriving us of the best and cheapest dyes in the textile trade is just as silly as burning down the Chinese house in order to get roast pork. Up in 1337 the North, in Lancashire and Yorkshire, at any rate, we may be a stubborn folk, but I think we are rather self-reliant. There is—and I am proud to say there is—to-day a better feeling between capital and labour in the wool textile trade than I have ever known before, and I can speak with 38 years' work in that trade. We have been through the valley of tribulation together, masters and men, employers and workpeople; firms which had existed for generations have gone down, others have been helped out by their creditors and are still paying compositions. Our work people, who have never known what it was to be out of a job in their lives, have been on the "dole" or have been partly employed. We ask for no subsidies. We do not come to this House, like gentlemen in some parts of it, to say that because our trade is bad, because this is bad and that is bad, why does not the Government do something for us.
All we ask of the Government is to get off our backs and to let us work out our own salvation. Last week, as I said, I went home to Bradford to verify my references and my facts, and I did more. I went to my colleagues of the Bradford Merchants' Association, and they sent me back with the unanimous repetition of that resolution of two years ago, that all we want is that the Government should get off our backs. We are proud of our skill—not my skill, but the skill of our own workpeople, the best in the world, the skill of our manufacturers and designers—and I have a little vanity in my skill as a parasite. We have faith in the high destiny, which I believe that England's shopkeepers have held. It is the English shopkeepers who produce the good;: that bring the food for our people, and if you will only let us alone to do it, I have faith that we shall continue.
§ Mr. IRVING
If it be true that only two men ever thoroughly mastered the intricacies of international exchanges, and that one of these is in the churchyard and the other is in an asylum, I think it might easily be said that if a man set himself to try to find out exactly what could and could not be done under the Safeguarding of Industries Act, it certainly, as one listens to the Debate, to what is said in its favour and what is equally said against it, is a puzzle for the plain 1338 man to understand on which side the truth of the argument lies. But, at any rate, when one hears, as I did hear, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade arguing for the retention, of this Measure, not on business grounds-at all, but almost entirely on the grounds of State necessity, and as an insurance, not against war, as he put it, but as an insurance that if a war does take place we shall not be in the same hopeless position as we were during the recent War, one has this thought in one's mind, especially as the right hon. Gentleman followed that up by arguing that the way to prevent war was to be ready for war. To me, that was one of the most amazing statements to which any man could give utterance, in the face of what we have just passed through in the way of war. More than one famous General, who, whatever he may or may not know about dyestuffs and the Safeguarding of Industries Act, must have known very much more about war than the right hon. Gentleman, went into that War with that opinion, and they came out of the War at the end with just the contrary opinion, with the hard and fast opinion that it was the fact of the world preparedness for war that inevitably brought that War upon us. You have only to look at what competition in preparation for war means to realise that, as inevitably as one day follows another, that competition must inevitably result, and docs result, in the clash of arms and all the horrors of war.
The right hon. Gentleman also appealed for some sense of proportion, and I had in my mind the fact that what he was asking an insurance against was the possible happening of something that our men wish not to happen, which certainly does not happen very often, and which the best authorities say we cannot expect to happen under another ten or twelve years. He is asking for an insurance by building on the experience of a war that is past, with a full knowledge, as he must have, that whenever such a war takes place again the experience of the past will amount to very little indeed, and his sense of proportion is to sacrifice the interests of a great trade in this country for the sake of providing for that possible contingency. His sense of proportion allows him to run counter to the expressed opinion of the men who have the interests of the trade of the country in their hands and their brains. I was going 1339 to say that no one in Lancashire will be found to speak in favour of this Act. Probably that is an exaggeration, but, at any rate, in my own constituency, at the Election we polled 44,000 votes out of a possible 50,000, and not one single vote was cast that was not cast for the repeal of this Act. That is not unique so far as Lancashire is concerned. Even visitors who come to us feel the dominant influence of this opinion. In my election, I had, as one of my opponents, a candidate who, 18 months prior to the Election, came to the town and announced himself what he was pleased to call a Fair Trader, which, we all know, is simply another name for Protectionist. He was an avowed supporter of the late Prime Minister when he came in the first place as a candidate. After the glorious burst-up of the Coalition, he changed over his allegiance to the present Prime Minister, but when he came down to contest the election, he explained that he had not meant anything in the way of Protection when he called himself a Fair Trader. His election address paid far more attention to the vital question of Free Trade, as he called it, than mine did. His speeches were interlarded day after day, and night after night, with appeals for support to be given to him as a Conservative, because he was a Free Trader, and, furthermore, he promised that, if returned to this House, he would vote for the repeal of this Act we are discussing to-night. I am not at all sorry we did not give him the duty, but, at any rate, he can have this assurance, that I shall carry out that duty for him with a great deal of satisfaction.
The hon. and gallant Member for West Salford (Lieut.-Commander Astbury) made an appeal to us on this side not to repeal this Act, and, as I understood him to say, ruin the great textile industry. He said he could not understand us. What I, too, cannot understand is, how a man who is not a textile manufacturer at all? can have the audacity to speak for a trade which, as he must know as well as I do, is overwhelmingly opposed to the whole business. What happened in my town happened, probably, to every Conservative candidate who stood in Lancashire. Not one of them would stand for this theory of Protection. I do not suppose manufacturers of Lancashire show that stern opposition to this particular Act, 1340 because in itself this Act does so very much, but they, like the President of the Board of Trade, recognise that there is a history behind this Act, though they, unlike he, do not accept the origin as the Paris Resolution. The history of this Bill is a very old one, and, prior to the War, many a well-contested battle had been fought by the people against the vested interests who sought to overthrow the system of Free Trade in this country, and to substitute for it the doctrine of Protection. Prior to the War, it almost appeared as though the battle had been finally won. Just before the War, you scarcely ever heard anyone raise his voice in favour of a return to a Protective system. We are told that this Measure was forced upon us by the issues arising out of the War. I am not of that opinion at all I am of opinion that the same vested interests, who at one time almost despaired of being able lo pursue the line of policy which would serve those interests, have seen in the War, and its issues, an opportunity to revive this idea of Protection, and the War issues are merely an excuse for the beginning of a policy which certainly those who advocate this Measure do not intend to rest there.
It is that, after all in my judgment, which makes the great cotton industry as a whole so averse to this particular Measure, and so insistent in the demand for its repeal. The Government have promised to allow Protection as an issue to lie dormant, in a state of tranquillity, but for how long one does not know, and as, in our mind, these Measures are the commencement of a policy intended to be pushed to a very large issue, we are interested in their repeal. So, in my judgment, the object of the other side is not so much in favour of the retention of this particular Measure, as the hope that upon the heel of this Measure they may put other Measures upon the Statute Book, and accomplish that which they failed to do before the War. I am not going to argue the merits and the demerits of the Act in detail. I cannot claim to have the necessary knowledge to do that. But I do claim to have some judgment, and to be animated by some understanding, and the desire for fair play. I am well aware that there are Free Trade fanatics on the one side and Tariff Reformers on the other, of whom, I as one of my Communist friends said 1341 the other day, nothing will change their opinion.
I think the hon. Member who just sat down said that the cotton industry was responsible for 43 per cent, of our export trade, and it is amongst the most important industries in the whole nation. Furthermore, I am given to understand it employs a greater amount of labour than almost any other industry you can mention. When one can come to this House and say, without fear of contradiction, that that trade, world-wide in its ramifications, meets its competition from all parts of the world and asks for no protection for itself, has built up that trade upon the lines of free intercourse and free interchange of commodities all over the world, and that that same body of men, those who built the trade up in the past, and those who to-day are carrying it on throughout the whole area of Lancashire feel as I say; when you know, as you must know, that, at any rate, there are millions of people in that county who are not adherents to either the Liberal or the Labour parties, but are even to-day adherent to the Conservative party—that party for which the Government speaks—when one can say that they alike, for in my constituency 40,000 votes were cast between three of us, everyone pledged to vote for the repeal of this Measure, then the matter puts itself outside the category of fanaticism on either side, and resolves itself, after all, into the fact that these men who know business and understand it, understand that it has not been by Protection but by organisation, efficiency, and the determination of the trade itself that it has been brought to the success to which it has been brought.
§ Mr. A. M. SAMUEL
When this Act was a Bill in the last Parliament, many of us—and I was one—supported the Government in every Clause and line, and helped them to get the Bill through. I will tell the House, if I may, why I, at any rate, supported the Bill so that it might become an Act. I will say now frankly, too, that I am not satisfied with the working of it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] But I do not wish hon. Members opposite to read into that observation of mine anything I do not mean. I am still in accord with the principle of the Act, but, as I say, I am not now satisfied with the administrative working of it. 1342 I do not blame the officials of the Board of Trade for that. They have had to do their duty. The Act is worded in a certain way, and the administration of it must be carried out in accordance with what is now decided to be the interpretation of that wording. I have listened to all of the speeches made this afternoon and evening, beginning with the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) and ending with the maiden speech of my hon. Friend the Member for South Bradford (Mr. H. Spencer)—an excellent speech if I may be allowed to say so—taking in many trade aspects, and containing a good deal of valuable information. But the point of the hon. Member was the aspect of the case adopted by the right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate, and it was that of the case put by the hon. Member for Salford. It was not however the aspect of the case that was in my mind and which was, so to speak, the jumping off place from which I supported the Bill. They took the standpoint of the wealth of the nation. I took the standpoint then, and I take the standpoint now, of the strength and defence of the nation, not the wealth, not the trade side at all. When the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Irving) talks about it not being right to prepare for war, that is a view on which he and I will not agree. I am just as peaceful a man as he is, but I prefer that I shall have a weapon beside me if occasion requires. I am not aggressive any more than he is, but it was the strength of the nation to prepare to defend it that I had in my mind. I had not at all in my mind certain of the articles which I see are now-covered by the Schedule of the Act.
At the time to which I refer, when we helped the Bill through the House, I had in my mind my experience in the War Office and the Ministry of Munitions. I will tell the House two or three things which are in my mind. I had to look after the optical instruments used by our troops at the front. Besides, we did not know which way to turn for laboratory glass. For this reason I supported the Bill; it was not a question with me whether money would or would not be made out of the chemical glass if it was manufactured here. We wanted laboratory glass for our steel works, chemical test tubes and the like, Florence flasks, beakers, and so on. It seemed to me 1343 desirous, indeed necessary, that we should produce these articles in this country so that they should be at hand when needed. We needed optical glass for prisms and lenses for our troops at the front. We needed dial sights, range finders, trench periscopes and binoculars. Before the War the annual production all over the world was never more than 50 tons, and little was made here, but when instruments to the value of £30,000,000 depended upon this little basis of optical glass there was something to be said for having it at hand. Again I say I was not considering the matter from the commercial or the trade side, but from the point of view of our men in the trenches, who were continually asking us to send them range finders, binoculars, periscopes and so on. Why could we not get these things for the War Office? We did our best to get them. We could not make them. We had to send round to all the small shops possible in England and France to get small lots of optical glass—we had no supply here for prisms and lenses.
Before the War we had given up producing this glass, and by a method of restriction, which I went into at the time, I discovered that this German optical unwrought glass imported into England could not be sold here before the War except to make certain things. Therefore, when I came down to support the Bill, I came to support something for the strength and not the wealth of the country. I had in mind laboratory and optical glass and optical instruments, and similarly dyes, not because dyes ought to be made more cheaply for our textile trade, but because they were the basis of our high explosives. I had something to do with high explosives, working underthe illustrious Lord Moulton, about a book of whose life I have read a review in the "Times" to-day—and there you will see something about T.N.T., and find how we were paralysed for lack of dyes. The dye industry was a basic industry for our explosives, and I felt it absolutely necessary to have a future hold upon it. I still feel so, so that if ever we have the misfortune to have to fight again we must have the material to defend ourselves.
But I never thought when I was dealing with that Bill that we should find such things imported into the interpretation of 1344 the Schedule as I here see before me: 6,000 various chemicals and other petty items. It is quite true to say that the matter is under the impartial administration of the Board of Trade. It is quite true to say that we have set up a number of small industries such as that of fine chemicals, but that was not the basis of my support of the Bill. I was not thinking of the commercial side. The question with me was not one of profit in industry particularly. I was thinking of the strength of the nation when it might need to defend itself again, not what might be made, a little more or a little less, out of trade. To my mind the Bill has degenerated in its object. The Government may not be very pleased with me for saying so, but I cannot help it. I make no question about the principle. I am a Tariff Reformer. There is no question about that, but I consider that in the working of the Act it has degenerated. It has widened out its scope in a way never intended by me. I shall not vote for the Amendment put down by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley because I am in favour of the principle of the Act. I supported it. I am now not against it. But the scope of the Act, I say, must be narrowed to its original limits. Its interpretation must be put on narrower ground. Its administration needs overhauling. If it does not get it, the Act will create such a reaction, and public opinion will be so outraged, that the very proper objects for which the Act was passed will be defeated. I hope the Government will take steps without any delay to see that this Act is put back into such a position that we shall not again have to discuss dolls' eyes, fabric gloves and thousands of petty chemicals, instead of key and pivotal industries in the light of the necessities disclosed by war conditions, for the position disclosed by the War was impregnable against partisan criticism or attack. The scope now widened by administration, has gravely weakened the Act. Hence the present attack on it.
§ Mr. DARBISHIRE
After the very war-like speech to which we have just listened, I should like to deal with the trade aspect of this question. If the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. A. M. Samuel) likes to dig his head in the sand like an ostrich, and erect a high tariff in order to keep foreign goods out so that we shall remain ignorant of the progress in the 1345 manufacture of glass in other countries, I do not wish to deprive him of that privilege. I think this is an Amendment which will commend itself to the majority of hon. Members of this House. I say that because hon. Members on the Labour Benches above the gangway are entirely in favour of Free Trade; the Liberal Members are in favour of Free Trade, and there are a number of hon. Members sitting in front of me who are also in favour of Free Trade, and I mean Free Trade unreservedly.
Hon. Members sitting on the Government side, I understand, are interested in agriculture. From what I heard about agriculture in my own constituency, I should say that there is almost a unanimous opinion that this Bill should be repealed. Those interested in agriculture in my constituency asked, why should they have to pay through the nose for everything they have to consume in the way of machinery and other things they require, when they are not protected in regard to the produce which they put upon the market? For these reasons I anticipate that we shall receive the approval in the Division Lobby of a large majority of the hon. Members sitting on the opposite of the House, and I hope that we shall be able to carry this Amendment.
The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade has rather disappointed me, because not more than a year ago I attended a dinner in connection with the China Association at which he was the guest of the evening, and a very honoured and welcome guest he was. On that occasion he delivered a very elementary lecture to the gentlemen assembled, upon the Balance of Trade. He told us how exports from one nation were balanced by the imports from another nation, and with joy and rapture he disclosed the discovery that trade went from one nation to another, not always direct, but sometimes in a circular way. He said that it was not necessary that America should ship an equivalent value of goods back to China, but that she might send cotton to Great Britain, and that in return we might send cotton goods to China. This was told to 200 or 300 gentlemen who had grown grey not only in the theory but in the practice of trade, and I said to myself then that a young man with that amount of assurance will go far at any rate in the political world. The right hon. Gentle- 1346 man was then in charge of that, useless excrescence of the Board of Trade, the Overseas Trade Department, but he now occupies a much more important post. The Safeguarding of Industries Bill has been dealt with very fully, and I have heard no answer to our arguments. I would like now to say a word or two in connection with the Dyes Bill. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, being a merchant I am, I suppose, a parasite, and I am a parasite not only in this country but abroad. My attention was drawn to this question by a report which my firm got from one of our travellers in Java. The yarns which are now being dyed locally in Java are dyed almost exclusively with German dyes. We sent our representative to Java to find out how it was that the export trade in dyed yarns had almost come to an end, and he reported that the importation of dyed yarns had been almost entirely cut out by the locally-dyed goods, the colours being just as good as those they used to import. The firm in Java that used to import these dyed yarns state that they have found competition so keen that they have been obliged to drop the trade.
I then looked up the trade statistics, and I found that in the exports of dyed goods as compared with grey goods two years ago and this year there had been a tremendous increase in the export to Java of grey yarns and unbleached and white goods and a great decrease in the export of dyed goods. What does that mean? It means that we are losing this dyeing trade. What is the sense of building up a dye industry if we are killing the dyeing trade in this country? I have taken out the figures. The right hon. Gentleman, in answer to a question put to him by me to-day, referred me to a book which I am sure hon. Members will not take the trouble to look at. I will give the figures. In 1920 we exported 2,077,000,000 square yards of grey and white piece goods, and in 1922 the total was 2,310,000,000 square yards. The exported dyed goods decreased from 1,757,000,000 square yards to 1,098,000,000. If you take the unbleached yarn, the figures are 107,000,000 pounds weight, and this has increased to 158,000,000, but the dyed yarn has decreased from 21,000,000 pounds weight to 16,000,000 pounds weight. I have worked out the difference in 1347 the value of this export trade to us on the basis of to-day's prices, and I find that if we were exporting to-day the same proportion as we did in 1920, the value of our exports would have been £25,000,000 more than they were two years ago, and we should have had the purchasing power of £25,000,000 more than we have got under this precious Dyes Bill. There has been reference made to a German export tax. The other day, when we were discussing this question, the right hon. Member for Colchester (Sir L. Worthington-Evans), when challenged as to how Germany was to pay—whether in slaves, or gold, or goods—said, "Of course we cannot have slaves, and we cannot get gold," but he evaded the question of goods. I should like to know how we are going to get the money out of Germany in that way. The hon. Member avoided that issue, and so, too, did the Prime Minister. It is no use saying that Germany can pay reparations by means of an export tax, but you must also tell in what form they are going to make the payment. We are frequently told that if we only have Protection in this country we shall get stability and certainty, and know where we are. I wish to suggest that that is not the case. Take the United States of America, which has been a very highly protected country for the last century. Let mo read to the House two extracts from letters we received from our friends in New York during the last year—which show what is their point of view with regard to stability and certainty. The writer says in the first letter:Until the tariff question is settled we hardly look for much business, and even then, if, as is proposed, the President has the right to modify the duties according to his idea for the protection of domestic industries, importers will never know what their goods are going to cost.In the second letter we are told thatFarmers and manufacturers want the export demand, and at the same time are demanding a prohibitive tariff, hut we doubt if business will settle until this question is out of the way.As a matter of fact, it is clear there is great uncertainty, and the whole trade of the country will be held up until they know whether there is going to be a Protectionist or a Free Trade Government. You will never get stability under these circumstances. Apart from that, think of the lobbying and corruption to 1348 which this system gives rise. Protection prepares the forcing ground for all that is noisome, rank and corrupt in political life. We do not want that in this country We have a supreme and unrivalled standard of integrity and incorruptibility in our public service. The moment you get Protection you will begin to lower the standard of that public service. If we do not pass this Amendment we are running the danger of lowering the standard of public life in this country. We must sweep away all the barriers and restrictions that hamper trade between this and other nations. There is no hope of a revival, permanent or substantial, in the trade of this country, and no hope of the removal of the present discontent unless we do that.
§ Mr. HANNON
The hon. Member has spoken in a rather mixed attitude of mind with regard to American trade in connection with tariff developments in the United States. But he did not indicate to the House that the present agitation has been to bring about substantially increased tariffs. He did not point out that this objectionable system of Protection in the interests of the country and in the interests of the workpeople has been part of the national economic policy of the United States for a long period of time, and that there is no indication that the United States are going to part with that policy at the present time. We have had a most interesting series of speeches, and I, as a rather new Member of the House, feel a little diffident in following those great guns who have spoken from the other fide. We had, first of all, the very striking, logical, complete and exhaustive speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon). I am sure that every Member of this House was delighted to hear that speech for its form and structure, although it erred miserably on the side of political wisdom. We are glad to see the right hon. Gentleman back in this House, and, I am sure, look forward to many more interesting speeches from him. But I would ask how it is that in this House, on every occasion that presents itself, the Liberal and Labour Members take every opportunity they see of attacking any Measure whatever safeguarding British industries. They are now asking that the latest step in that direction shall not become part of 1349 the policy of the country. I was particularly struck this afternoon with the remarkable speech delivered by the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Sir A. Mond). Hon. Members of this House will recall that when the present Act was going through the House as a Bill, the right hon. Gentleman was eloquent beyond measure in supporting it. But this afternoon he asked that this piece of experimental legislation shall be pulled up by the root, although the Act has only been in operation for little more than a year, and Part II of it for only about three months. Eight hon. Gentlemen opposite who were responsible for bringing the Act into operation in the first place now desire to destroy it before it is possible to say exactly of what benefit it has been to the country.
The right hon. Gentleman laid down a series of very striking propositions in regard to protective legislation. He was fertile beyond words in his acquaintance with the new economics. Let me sum up the propositions which he submitted to the House in support of this Bill. In the first place, he said it is quite true that Germany must export her manufactures in order to pay reparations, but he did not want her to do it at the expense of the manufacturers of this country. He said, further, that it was only fair to expect that our other Allies would join with us in taking the German output in order to enable Germany to pay the reparations. Secondly, he said that the Bill was an attempt to prevent the repetition of a catastrophe which was threatening at the early part of the War. The right, hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), whose eloquent advocacy of war measures saved this country in a time of dire necessity, said to-night how anxiously he anticipated its demise. That appeal's to be the attitude of most of the statesmen, opposite. A Measure absolutely essential to the safety of the country in war time is, when we are not entirely out of the zone of war, to be set aside, and we are told that we ought to begin legislation for repealing it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea also said that the Bill did not create a monopoly, that it would only become operative when industries were seriously threatened; and he went on to say that the German manufacturer was operating on the difference between the two values—the local value and the ex- 1350 change value—of the mark. He said that until stabilisation was brought about there was no hope of the manufacturers of this country being able to compete successfully with those of Germany, and he proceeded to urge that this moderate and reasonable measure of protection for essential industries should be passed by this House. It was passed by a large majority, and I venture to submit to the House that, in spite of the criticism that has been advanced this evening, the officers of the Board of Trade have, since the Measure came into operation, done everything they could to make it as easy as possible for people in this country engaged in trade to take advantage of its provisions.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite who are always prepared to attack Measures which aim at the safeguarding of British industries would perhaps have a word to say on some of the industries affected. I should like to draw their attention to a trade that is particularly affected at the present moment by German competition, namely, the machine tool trade. There is a warehouse within five minutes' walk of this House, stocked with 30 different kinds of German machines in direct competition with our own manufacturers in this country. I will give details of some of them with their comparative prices. Take, for example, a machine known as a vertical turret lathe of 36-inch capacity of the Bullard type. That lathe, which was copied by the Germans during the War, is now being made by Hartmann of Chemnitz, and it is offered, delivered in any part of this country, at £480. The American price to-day for that lathe, delivered c.i.f. in this country, is £l,779. How is the British lathe maker to compete against the German with that margin between them—largely due to the collapsed exchange of Germany. The actual cost of producing that machine in this country, with a reasonable profit sufficient to keep the industry going and the workpeople employed, is £1,400. Moreover, I say advisedly that the German machine at £480 is of just as good quality as the American machine at £1,779. Then take what is called a gear hobbing machine. I am sure that my hon. Friends on the other side know what that is. It is used for making motor car gears. The pre-War price of that machine, made by Pfeuter of Chemnitz, was £205, delivered in any town in Great 1351 Britain. It can be bought to-day at £150 in Westminster, and the British price for a similar machine capable of doing the same work is £400. Do hon. Gentlemen opposite say that we have no right to take any steps, in the face of unwarrantable competition of that kind, to protect our workpeople by the operation of a Measure of the kind that we are discussing to-night I Then take the case of a drilling machine made at Dϋsseldorf. That is being made for sale in London to-day at £39. A similar machine made in Leicester costs £75 to produce. I should like to know what the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Hill) thinks about that. Will he allow German machines to be indiscriminately brought in to compete with the machines that are being produced by the workpeople in his own constituency?
Take, again, lathes of various types, which are exhibited in the warehouse in question, at from £32 to £150. Lathes of equal quality cannot be produced in this country, with any sort of living margin to the manufacturer, at less than twice the price. Take towns like Keighley and West Renfrew, where these industries are of considerable dimensions. I should like to know from hon. Members on the other side of the House, and particularly the hon. Members representing those constituencies, how can they oppose a Measure of this kind, which gives protection in some small degree to the British producer, in face of the fact that the workpeople are out of employment in their own Divisions? Taking all the whole series of small tools—lathe chucks, drill chucks, gear cutters, twist drills, hacks or blades—all these things are coming into this country at the present moment at less than half the price at which the British manufacturer can buy the raw material for producing them; and the curious fact is that all the German machine tool manufacturers are fully employed, whereas our machine tool manufacturers to-day are only employing one-tenth of the number of workpeople that they ought to be employing.
§ Mr. HANNON
Thank you very much, Sir. I submit that, in pleading for some measure of extended safeguards for the industries of this country, which are being ruined by unfair competition under collapsed exchanges, I am entirely in order. I would say, in conclusion, that there is too much of the academic and cosmopolitan quality introduced into arguments on economics on the other side of the House. It would be much better for the House and the country, and for industry, if we attached more importance to the practical side of this question. Hon. Gentlemen on the other side have repeatedly said in their speeches to-night that they were dealing with the practical and departing from the academic; but the number of practical arguments brought forward in favour of repealing this Measure, or even of adopting the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea, for appointing a Joint Committee to consider it, have been nil. There has not been a single practical argument proposed to-night in favour of the repeal of this Act. Xo evidence has been given by any hon. Gentleman on the other side of a single person having been displaced from his employment by the operation of the Act. On the other hand, we know of the series of industries which have been started, or which have had new life instilled into them, since the Act came into operation, and the numbers of people who have found thereby opportunities of employment Is it seriously suggested that a little over 12 months ago you were to ask the manufacturers of this country to enter upon responsibilities and to invest capital in highly-skilled and complex operations and that, a year or 15 months afterwards, you should tell them that whatever safeguard you gave them then is going to be taken away. The whole thing is monstrous, and most unfair on the part of the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, for whose wisdom, outside politics, I have the most profound respect. I am delighted that he has come back into the House. I am only sorry that the right hon. and learned Gentleman, to whom we are all so much attached, has identified himself with an academic proposition of this extraordinary quality, which would directly inflict an injury on a number of 1353 industries which have been started under the aegis of this Measure and whose workpeople would be debarred from the opportunity of making a living if effect were given to the Amendment he has proposed.
§ Sir RYLAND ADKINS
I am sure every Member of this House, in whatever part of it he or she may sit, whatever may be his opinions or dispositions on the subject-matter of this Debate, has enjoyed the speech of my hon. Friend who has just sat down. For one reason, he has that fortunate gift, which the gods give to few, of expressing his most violent criticisms in the accents of charm. He also has, what few of us possess, the courage to spend most of his speech in taking what I venture to call the outside edge of the subject before the House. Some of us, destitute of that valour and fortune, have to keep ourselves, in the few minutes in which we venture to intrude upon the House, to the very centre and core of the Resolution. The Amendment is for the repeal of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, and others which are of a protective character, which have been passed in the last Parliament: and the Amendment not before the House technically, but relevant to the issue before the House, is the Amendment by the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Sir A. Mond), which asks for an inquiry by a Committee of both Houses into the operation and administration of this Act. I should have thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon), so thoroughly persuaded of the righteousness and benefit of his cause, would not have shrunk from an inquiry into it. I should have thought he would have welcomed an inquiry by both Houses of Parliament to snow what benefits were conferred by the Act.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
It cannot be too soon to average persons who have not the pleasure of agreeing with him. I regret that, but it is not altogether unexpected. It is better to have some partial and secondary benefit inquired into when the welfare of the whole community is affected.
Major Sir GEORGE HAMILTON
On a point of Order. The hon. Member says the Amendment is moved by the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Sir A. 1354 Mond).I understand that is quite in-accurate, and that that is not the Amendment.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
Possibly, by exceptional good fortune, I may have the attention of my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham (Sir G. Hamilton) for the few moments that I desire to speak.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
I am very glad to find my hon. Friend has such good reading. Meanwhile, the House will forgive me if I do not pursue, the attractive subject of my hon. Friend's personality, but deal with the question before the House. In common with not a few Members who have spoken previously, I should like to state how the immediate position out of which this Motion proceeds appears to me. Four years ago, at the Election of 1918, there were many of us now in the House, and many others, who thought it right, for reasons not primarily connected with economics, but primarily connected with national defence, to adhere to certain political manifestoes, which implied and foreshadowed some legislation with a view to safeguarding those industries which were specially connected with the necessities of our country in time of war. Accordingly, we were bound in honour to give a hearing, and to give at any rate a preliminary support to a Measure which professed to deal with that question. The Safeguarding of Industries Act, so far as regards the first part of it, was brought to this House, supported in this House, and became law on the ground that it was intended and adapted to deal with special needs of the country as a whole revealed by the experience of the War. Those who supported it, and those who opposed it, in many cases did so, as I have said, not on grounds of economics, for what my hon. Friend the Member for Moseley calls theory is merely reason, and I hope he will not remain a stranger to it for long. They supported or opposed it according to their view as to whether it was necessary in the interests of our country, having regard to the liabilities of modern war and of all its conditions.
1355 There was, however, a second part added to the Bill, on the ground of the unique position and the fluctuations of foreign exchanges, to which there was no previous pledge and no previous attitude to which any Member of the House was committed. To-day we are reviewing the whole of that Act of Parliament, the way it has been administered, and what has been learned of its character and implications as they were found when it was at work. For my own part, I have felt, and I never felt more strongly, that the first part of that Act, for which there was, in the minds of many, some warrant in the exceptional needs of the country, has been, in practice and in administration, inflated and extended and brought to work in a way never contemplated by its authors, and which alters its whole character and results. It was only because one is anxious, above all things, to keep any pledge one makes, and cares more for one's honour than anything else, that some of us were prevented from opposing that Act, even in the last Parliament, when we found how it was being worked. It makes some of us, at any rate to-night, feel that, as we have never entangled ourselves in any practical pledge, we are free to-night to act in all honour as we believe to be right in the present circumstances.
I desire at once to say that if the Government are willing to accept the Amendment standing in the name of the right hon. Member for West Swansea, and to give us not that Departmental Inquiry by alleged experts to which the President of the Board of Trade, at the end of his speech, so full of cheerful and characteristic complacency, offered us as the irriducable minimum; if, instead of that, the Government—and I ask the Postmaster-General to consider the point I am putting—the full inquiry for which the right hon. Member fer West Swansea asks, then, rather that any obligation should be interpreted in the slightest degree with any strictness as in favour of the person who made it, I, for one, would accept that Amendment, If, however, we are to have no Inquiry, then the issue lies between maintaining the present Act, without explanation, without inquiry and without revision, or voting for the Amendment of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen Valley. What is the change since that 1356 Act was brought in? When we deal with these hundreds and hundreds of different categories, however ingenious may be the argument derived from some Department or other for enlarging its scope, the further you enlarge its scope the more you add to its complexity, and the further have you got away from those necessities arising from the War which were the only legitimate reasons for that Act going on to the Statute Book at all. I believe when that Bill was first presented to Parliament there was no one, not even the benevolent parent, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, who dreamed for a moment that it would be extended in this way, and would get 60 far away from anything which is really a key industry or any administration which has any reasonable relation whatever to the needs of the country in war time. It is a pity the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not been here to-day. He treated this bantling of his with an irony which may have been a disguise of affection or may have been a candid expression of what he thought; but, to-day, a judicious and dextrous absence has marked his action in this matter, and although he may be congratulated on that choice, the House is the loser. But we have had, instead, the President of the Board of Trade, and a more illuminating speech than the one he made it would be difficult to imagine—not so much illuminating as to the character of the Act and the way it is administered as to the intentions and ambitions and desires which fill his ingenuous mind. It was a speech as full of Protection as polished and artful English can be—as full of Protection in its own way as the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down, and now we know, not only from the benches below the Gangway, but from those high in office, in the second eleven, that what informs their mind and inspires their feelings is not the even now limited scope of this Act, but the desire of applying Protection wherever they can. I am not concerned for the future. I remember the pledge of the Prime Minister, that what he and his friends would like to do it would not be desirable to do in this Parliament, and I trust, every man's pledges until I find them inconsistent with what happens. I am not afraid of the future, but those of us who are criticising this Act are anxious, if we can, to minimise, if we cannot destroy, the actual evil of what has happened.
1357 May I give one or two illustrations? In the first place, the first part of the Act applies to hundreds of things which were never contemplated and which now do, as a matter of fact, embarrass and interfere with the free flow of trade and commercial relations. Then the second part of the Act is applied to all kinds of things in a way which it is extremely difficult to understand or to explain. When I say there is some evil influence behind the administration of this Act, I am not accusing any one Minister or civil servant of conscious wrongdoing. It may be that the traditions of the Treasury with regard to anything which imposes a tax compel them to extend that tax as widely as possible, and it may be that the traditions of she Board of Trade, officered so far as this House is concerned by convinced Protectionists, leads them also to extend the operations of it as far as possible. But whatever it be, in actual fact and in full operation the Act is very different from what was expected by those who introduced it and what was expected by those who were Members of this or the other House when it first became law. Let mc give a couple of illustrations. There is the question of duties on glass intended for illumination. By some extraordinary Departmental absurdity, that has been ruled not to apply to glass which is required for oil lamps, but to apply to glass imported for the purpose of gas or electric light lamps. This surely shows the most meticulous and parental care for the use of light when once it is set going. In the vast bulk of our great towns, in those streets which are inhabited by artisan populations, there is far more use of gas than there is of oil, and for some reason or other the German terror, which gets on the nerves of the Protectionists, leads them to guard against the use of imported glass for gas while it leads them to admit it wholeheartedly if it is employed for oil. Such are the absurdities of the Act.
Again we are threatened on Wednesday with an Order for putting penalties on the introduction of foreign gas mantles, and that at a time when through no party action, through no political action, but through the advice and the authority of perfectly impartial scientists, gas in this country is now supplied everywhere according primarily to its heat value and not according primarily to its light value, and under circumstances in which incan- 1358 descent burners are absolutely essential if persons are to get a maximum of light from what is supplied and for the purpose of bolstering up a comparatively new industry which has nothing to do with the key industry at all, which has grown during the last four years without any artificial help. I suppose one could imagine no other reason which has even a shadow of excuse. To do that you are going to increase the cost of lighting in the house of practically every working man in the urban parts of the country. Is that to help the country? Is that to strengthen the country against emergencies in the future? Those of us who are bound to criticise this Measure and who are, if the Government will not meet us with regard to a full inquiry, bound to vote with my right hon. Friend, may be legitimately the objects of some share of the indefinite sarcasm that we have heard from many Members on that side. It may or may not be deserved. We care for our country as much as hon. Members opposite. We know, as they know, that the interests of the whole community are different from, or sometimes antagonistic to, those of the groups of petty producers, and we say that in all of these issues that arise on these Acts the one possible reason arising out of the War has been so overlaid with extensions and inflations as to no longer dominate the situation. That being so, in the absence of the Government accepting the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet the Member for West Swansea, I shall with the greatest heartiness, confident that I am doing nothing inconsistent with what I have done; in this House or in the-last, vote with my right hon. Friend, because I am confident that in these matters the path of Free Trade is that which will lead, not only to commercial prosperity, but to the security of my country.
§ Sir ROBERT HORNE
I have had the privilege of listening to almost the whole of this Debate and I am certain, whatever view any of us take upon this much-debated question, we at least recognise that a great deal of cogent argument has been applied to the discussion. With regard to the speech we have just heard, the conclusion did not seem to me at all necessarily to follow from the premises. The hon. Member is one of those, who supported this legislation in the beginning.
§ Sir R. HORNE
It may be necessary that some tightening up of administration should be performed, and I have not the slightest doubt that the matters to which he has directed attention will prove useful to those who are carrying on the administration of the Act, but why it should result in the complete tearing up of it from any point of view of logic or argument I entirely fail to follow. I was intensely interested in the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon). It presented a very formidable argument, and the case which he stated was one to which we are bound to give the most urgent attention. The right hon. and learned gentleman is, however, a past master in the statement of cases, and it would indeed be an impoverished case which he could not make plausible or even dignify, and perhaps adorn. The chief interest of his argument was that it did not proceed along any very definite or regular lines. He seemed to stand alternately upon one leg, and then upon another.
§ Sir R. HORNE
That is a somewhat precarious position. You are very easily knocked off that stand. The right hon. and learned Gentleman dealt, in the greater part of his argument with the defects in administration, and the difficulties and impediments put in the way of obtaining goods from the Customs House, and other matters of that kind, but the real gravamen of his argument every now and then appeared, and certainly it emerged with great clearness at the end of his speech. The real belief which the right hon. Gentleman holds is that under no circumstances should you over in this country, by an import duty, seek either to initiate or to sustain an industry. That is his proposition. That is a proposition which the right hon. Gentleman maintained during the War. He differed from his colleagues on the subject. That is a proposition which was rejected by his colleagues at that time, faced by a menace which the consistent adherence to that policy had produced in this country. It was rejected not only by his colleagues but by the House, to whom he presented it. It was rejected by the country in 1918.
§ Sir R. HORNE
Let me bring the hon. and gallant Member to a later period. It was rejected by the House in the last Parliament. It was rejected again in the General Election from which we have just emerged. [HON. MUMBERS: "No!"] Let my hon. Friends think a moment. I forget the exact number of Independent Liberal candidates who were presented to the constituencies, but I think it was about 400.
§ Sir R. HORNE
There was not a single election address presented by any one of these candidates that did not ask for the repeal of the Safeguarding of Industries Act. Yet, out of these 330 candidates we have only 60 in this House. I say, with confidence, that this policy was rejected by the country in the last election, and it will be rejected by this House to-night. My right hon. and learned Friend's leader, the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr Asquith) based his argument upon quite a different footing. He rather dwelt upon the deficiencies of the Act. The right hon. Gentleman has a past on that subject, and he hates to be reminded of it, as he indicated this afternoon. He has often accused me of being the father of this Act. If I am the father, then he is the grandfather of it. This is a product of the Asquithian Government.
I need not recall all the circumstances, for I am sure that hon. Members remember them, especially the condition in which we found ourselves in the War through lack of absolutely vital and essential commodities that were required for the presecution of the War. There were things like magnetos which we could not make. [HON. MEMBERS: "Question!"] Nobody would question that statement who knew the facts. There were things like optical glass, which was required for the sighting of our artillery both on shipboard and on land. For a time we were in a position of imminent danger through the lack of these vital necessities. There were many other things, like tungsten, which was referred to by one hon. Member who made his maiden speech to-day, on which I desire to congratulate him. Then there was the dye industry. I would remind the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley that is was not merely on the questions of munitions that this legisla- 1361 tion was of vital importance. It is perfectly true that the dye industry gave the opportunity for the making of high explosives, in which Germany had enormous advantages.
§ Sir R. HORNE
It is not your fault, We might very easily have lost. I should like to call attention to the question of the dye industry, apart from its value in making munitions. Who were the first people to direct attention to the weakness of our position in regard to the dye industry? It was the dye users of this country. They came to the Government in large bodies demanding that the Government should do something to supply them with a commodity which was absolutely necessary for their continued existence. They said: "Here are 1,500,000 people, absolutely depending upon an adequate supply of dyes. How-are we to live unless dyes can be produced in this country?" It is not merely a question of uses in war, it is a question which is of equal importance in time of peace, and at any time, if you once lose control of some production of dyes, you might easily be held up to ransom by another country which had the power to produce them. I gather that that was the effect of a quotation which was read in the Debate to-day from a speech made by the Chairman of the Dye Consumers' Association, who said that if by any chance we were, now to give up the attempt to produce dyes in this country, and had to depend upon Germany, our great textile trade of this country might be subjected to menace and disaster.
These were the facts which confronted us. What was done? The right hon. Member for Paisley was then Prime Minister. He immediately set up a Committee. Upon that Committee there sat Mr. Reginald McKenna, Mr. Runciman and the present Prime Minister. The report of that Committee was to the effect that it was absolutely necessary to protect the dye industry in this country, if we were in future to have any chance of safety not merely in a state, of war but even in a state of peace, and that the only means by which this could be achieved would be by setting up a system of prohibition and licence. This was the system which was enacted in the Dye 1362 Industries Act. I dare say that the House will remember that the right lion. Member for Paisley, on being confronted with all the pledges of his Government on this matter, not only took no part in the Debate, but took no part in the Division against the Bill.
You may say that the Act has not succeeded. At least, it has had considerable success up till now. You cannot expect it to do everything at once, and I am sure of this, that no man really acquainted with the dye industry, least of all the consumers, would dare to suggest that we should entirely depart from the policy which we then adopted. Upon the question of the other elements of vital necessity, the House is well aware that many different forms of legislation were considered. Ultimately, we arrived at the legislation which is embodied in the present Statute. These provisions have followed strictly on the lines of the Resolutions which were passed in Paris by a Convention of all the Allies. I noticed great impatience on the part of the right hon. Member for Paisley this afternoon when reference was made to these Resolutions, and I do not wonder. But at the time that they were presented to this House he boasted of these Resolutions, and claimed great credit for the fact that they had been drafted by his President of the Board of Trade, Mr. Runciman.
When Mr. Runciman appeared in the House he made a speech in which he asserted with great boldness that as a result of the War we must, look to a change in the whole foundation upon which our economic system had been based, and he ventured to give the House the motto, "Never again." "Never again" has now changed into "Whenever it suits party purposes." I am not much concerned with the particular terms of the Paris Resolutions. What is really important is the speech which the right hon. Gentleman made to the House in recommending them. It was not merely a question of adopting a particular device for defeating the possible attempts of the enemy to ruin our trade, but it was the. whole policy which was indicated in that speech which was important, because there he deplored—which is a matter which I hope the House will keep clearly in view to-night in giving a Vote on this question—the folly which we had shown in the past in leaving ourselves so much at the mercy of other countries in 1363 the production of elements of vital importance. He pointed out that we had been blind, but that now our eyes were opened. [HON. MEMBERS: "Dolls' eyes!"] He said, among other things, that it would be a great pity if after the end of the War we had learned nothing and forgotten nothing. But some hon. Members seem to outvie the Bourbons, for their arguments to-day would seem to show that they have learned nothing and they have forgotten everything. I turn for a moment to the particular criticism which has been made on this legislation. I was somewhat interested in the argument which the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment developed, that we were, in this country, initiating a permanent system of economic change, and I struggled to discover in my mind why he should think that that would be the result of the present legislation. After all, the first part of the Safeguarding of Industries Act applies only for five years, and the second part, in so far as it deals with dumping created by depreciated exchange, only lasts three years. It will be in the hands of the House which exists at these times to decide whether it will continue this legislation or another. But I am glad to know that the right hon. Gentleman thinks that it has become permanent. That, at least, shows that he does not anticipate that his party will ever again be in charge of the Government.
The right hon. Member for Paisley said that he had always been of opinion that, oven under a Free Trade system, you would be entitled to take measures to defeat any possible dumping, but that the House would want to know whether dumping had actually taken place, and also whether the cure, would not be worse than the disease. But that is exactly what is provided in the Act. Under the provisions of the Bill dumping does not apply automatically. Dumping Regulations are put in force only if, upon the report of a Committee, it should be held that dumping has actually taken place, that employment in this country is seriously and adversely affected, and that the cure would not be worse than the disease. Everything that the right hon. Gentleman desired is specifically provided for in the Statute of which he complains. The right hon. Member for 1364 Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), in moving his Amendment, argued that, for some reason or other, this legislation had caused a rise in prices. I cannot remember that he showed any particular instance in which that had occurred, and my own experience of the Treasury showed that nothing done under this Act is likely to cause any rise in prices. The Free Trade view always works upon the, line of reasoning that all the duty or at least a considerable part of it is added to the cost of the article in the country of consumption. It is assumed that if you put on a tariff, Germany, which would otherwise send you the goods at the best price, sends the goods with the duty added to that price. There is no fallacy greater than that. Let me tell the House what the German practice is and has been since they have been required to pay reparation. The Germans discovered that there were goods being exported from Germany at prices which greatly undercut the prices in the English market, and they saw quite definitely that they were losing a large margin of possible profit on these goods. They set up a Commission, which is still in existence, to regulate the export prices of goods. They have the prices in the English market before them, and instead of selling these goods at something very much less than would otherwise be the case, they put the price just as much lower than the British price as they can afford in order to win the English market.
§ Mr. LYLE-SAMUEL
Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether or not in fixing that price they include the amount of the duty?
§ Sir R. HORNE
They do not want to lose the English market. Wherever you have an English competitive price, you bring down the German price. That is obvious. So far from the provisions of this tax in any way raising prices to the English consumer, in practice it has been found, as you would expect, that English competition tends to bring clown German prices rather than the other way. The other matter referred to by the right hon. and learned Gentleman was the question of unemployment. It is suggested by the 1365 Amendment that this legislation brings about unemployment in this country. Again, no specific instances of the effect upon employment were produced.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is a new Member, and he should know that he must not be on his feet at the same time as another hon. Member who is speaking. There is now no time for interruptions.
§ Sir R. HORNE
The only point on the question of unemployment in the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley was a statement that there was unemployment in Lancashire, and that you could not say whether some of it was not attributable to the import duty upon fabric gloves. It is very unfortunate for my right hon. and learned Friend's argument that the worst unemployment is not at all in connection with the kind of yarn which is being exported from Lancashire for the purpose of making fabric gloves. Therefore, that argument does not seem to have very much force. The right hon. and learned Member seemed to think that this duty of 33⅓ per cent. in connection with Part II of this Act was put on in some way to stabilise the exchange. No man in his senses ever expected any such result to follow. My right hon. and learned Friend will recollect that it is not the fluctuations in the exchange which make the difficulty about competing in this country with German manufactured products. If you had always the mark in Germany of the same value as in England it would not matter how much it fluctuated; it would not give you any more difficult competition to face. The fluctuation does not cause the difficulty. What causes the difficulty is the difference between the internal purchasing value and the external purchasing value.
The object of the 33⅓ per cent, duty is this: When you have fluctuations in the exchange, they do, of course, create considerable dislocation in Germany in prices. But immediately wages begin to chase prices, and the disparities always are tending to adjust themselves. Although no man would say that 33⅓ per cent, is a scientific figure—we 1366 should be fools if we did—it always tends to give you some advantage at least between the internal purchasing value of the foreign currency and the external purchasing value. That is all you can say for it. But that it does give a certain benefit in that respect is at least proved by the fact that applications have been made by considerable numbers of people to have this duty put upon imported articles for the purpose of giving them at least a chance in their own market of competing with foreign-made material.
It has been suggested in an important speech by the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Sir A. Mond) that we should have an inquiry into the effects of the operation of this Act. Although I am always ready to listen to any suggestion made by such a distinguished business man as the right hon. Gentleman, I cannot acquiesce in that proposal on the present occasion. There are many things which are bad in business, but there is nothing so bad as uncertainty. If you set up an inquiry, the traders of this country will not know where they are; they cannot lay any plans for the future. Now they know that so far as the first part of the Act is concerned there are five years in which this duty will operate, and they know in regard to the second part that there are three years for the duty to operate. I beg the House not to upset the present situation. At present the country is passing through great commercial and industrial difficulties. At least give the trader a chance of knowing where he is. In that way I am perfectly certain that you will be doing your utmost for the welfare of the industries of this country.
§ Captain WEDGWOOD BENN
We have listened to an extremely interesting speech from the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. I believe it is the first speech that he has delivered for some years except from the Front Bench. The right hon. Gentleman made a great many remarkable statements and a great many claims which certainly surprised us on this side of the House. In the first place, he made the remarkable claim that the country had endorsed the Measures which we are discussing to-night. Does he really assert that the electors of this country in the last Election endorsed the principles of the Safeguarding of Industries Act I Are some hon. Members under that impression?
§ Captain BENN
If anything would reconcile me or anyone else to the Safeguarding of Industries Act or anything else, it would be the return to this House of the hon. Member for Barnstaple. As anyone knows who has examined the electoral figures, the number who voted against protective legislation, either for the Labour party or for the Liberal party, was greatly in excess of the number of those who voted for the Government candidates, and supported, what I may quite fairly call, the minority Government. This topic itself is familiar, but the way in which it was discussed in this Debate differed from the way in which it was discussed formerly. The method of dealing with it has entirely altered. In the last Parliament I was present on almost every occasion when these matters were discussed, and this Act was discussed as an expedient by people who laid aside, like the hon. and learned Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Sir R. Adkins), any preconceptions as to the propriety of Tariff Reform or Free Trade. They said, "Here is an expedient, and we must adopt it in the circumstances of the time." That is not the defence to-day. The defence of the Measure to-day is purely Protectionist, and that must necessarily make a great deal of difference to hon. Members in deciding how they are going to cast their votes. We have now a Government which is homogeneous and Protectionist. There is not a single hon. or right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench tonight who is not a Protectionist. In the words of the Home Secretary, in that speech which I read with so much interest, many years ago:Let them us Unionists stick to their principles of truth, Tariff Reform and the Ten Commandments.I hope the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues will stick to those principles. What has the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer to tell us? First he revived the assertion re-echoed by the hon. Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Ford) that the paternity or grand paternity of this Measure belongs to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith). [HON. MEMBERS: "Runciman!"] It does not matter. I was 1368 taking the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley, but I will take Mr. Runciman if you like. I wish to get on terms of perfect understanding with hon. Gentlemen opposite. Reference has been made to the Paris Resolutions. What were the Paris Resolutions? They form a declaration of economic solidarity among the Allies, in the face of an economic threat by the enemy. They were nothing else. I do not know whether the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer ha3 in his mind the terms of the Resolutions? Let me refresh his memory for one moment. The preamble which governs the Resolutions says they are intended tofacilitate the organisation on a permanent basis of the economic alliance of the representatives of the Allied Governments.[HON. MEMBERS: "Permanent."] On a permanent basis. I am glad hon. Gentlemen have noticed those very important words. Can it be said that the machinery in this Act is intended for that purpose I Will the hon. Member for North Edinburgh say so?
§ Captain BENN
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is an Order under discussion for putting a tax on American fibre? Is he aware that Czecho-Slovakian glass has been recommended for an Order? Is he aware that France, the greatest and dearest of our Allies, is the only country in Europe which is liable unrestrictedly to the operation of this Act, and that the French merchants have described it as a stab in the back? Does he say that a Measure which attacks all our Allies in turn, particularly the French, potentially, is a Measure for the re-establishment on a permanent basis of the economic alliance of the representatives of the Allied Governments? I can only explain it in the case of the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer by supposing that his recent experiences, prior to and during the Election, have given him peculiar ideas of his own as to what solidarity among Allies really means. We have heard a great deal in a general way from the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. W. Alexander) about Part I of the Act. He has told us, and we have heard it repeatedly, about the boys in the trenches, the optical glass, the lenses, chemicals, and so forth, which it was necessary for them to have, but what he has utterly failed to prove is that by this 1369 Act you are really providing us with these badly needed things. We do not deny that it is desirable in some way or another that we should have munitions of war when they are necessary; what we do deny is that this Act gives us them. We are well aware that it taxes hypo, for photographs, but that is not a military need, though photographs are of great historical value. Does anyone really say that we had no hypo, before the tax was put en it? We know that Epsom salts are taxed. We know also that when these ridiculous things were put in the Schedule the Government put the "Guillotine" on, so that we could not discuss them item by item, but what we do not know-is that there is any industry built up in this country which will save us in the next war, whenever that unhappy event may occur.
There was a Committee composed by the Government of experts to examine the progress of these industries, and because we wanted to strengthen it the Government satisfied their friends by withdrawing the Committee altogether, so that such inspection as was provided by the Government itself was withdrawn by the Government when the Bill was in course of progress through this House. Here is an interesting thing. Take scientific glass. Does the President of the Hoard of Trade say that Part I is satisfactory as a means of setting up that industry in this country?
§ Captain BENN
Then why does this industry come forward and explain that it is in a serious condition and must have an Older under Part II of the Act? Surely, if Part I is efficient, the industry should not come forward, as it has done, and apply for another duty under Part II. The fact of the matter is that this is not a new idea, that you can isolate yourself and that you can build up a little wall and live in security by the possession of some small secret. It is as old as the hills, and the less civilised people are, the more tenaciously they hold it. I am not, of course, referring to individuals, but it is a complete delusion that you can put yourself at the head of countries by cutting yourself off from the general circulation of ideas in the world. Everybody knows that scientists do complain of this Act. Everybody knows that you 1370 cannot by tariffs set a limit. In fact, you cannot by tariffs encourage scientific research. Many instances could be given, if time permitted, but I may point to one. One of the defects of our attempt to suppress research in Germany, under the Air Clause of the Treaty, has given a great stimulus to the manufacture and design of gliders, and has put them in a very prominent position aeronautically in the world—an instance of the value of legislation of this kind.
The fact of the matter is that the real key industries are brains and money, and anything which cuts us off from intercourse with the best brains of the world or the best material for research, is not a Safeguarding Act at all, but an Act hampering and reducing our powers. As to Part II of the Act, it has been amply proved by the speakers in this Debate that it hampers trade. It is only necessary to refer to the fact that now all goods under these Orders, from whatever country they come, must be accompanied by a certificate of origin in order to prove that they are not liable to this duty. That in itself is a thing which really hampers trade, and it is very significant that the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Sir A. Mond) should, after experience— and nobody knows more about the Act than he—come forward and say that it has grown up in a way that was not intended, and that its working deserves immediate consideration in the interests of the public. There are many ways in which trade is hampered. An importer told me the other day that, he imported a large consignment of goods which he found to be faulty. He paid the duty on the goods, and wished to have them replaced from the foreign source, and if he had them replaced he would have to pay a second duty on the second consignment, because it was impracticable to get the duty back on the faulty delivery. Who does the President of the Board of Trade think is going to pay all these duties? The consumer pays. The importer puts these additional charges on to the consumer, and if you raise prices—and the intention of the Act is to raise prices—you reduce purchasing power, and, of course, create unemployment. In passing, there is another very interesting side-light on one phrase of the Act, namely, a phrase much criticised in the Debate—"the price at which similar goods can be profitably 1371 manufactured." That was the test of what was done. Now we find that an Order was made on gas mantles, although the Committee themselves stated that the gas mantle industry is over-capitalised. Of course, if you over-capitalise an industry sufficiently, you can always be able to say that the price at which a dividend can be returned is higher than the price at which the foreigner can supply the goods.
One hon. Gentleman who spoke referred to the possibility of this sort of legislation turning our minds from the consideration of things in the interest of citizens as citizens, and to the promotion in this House of individual interests, of partial or vested interests, or trade or local interests, in place of advocating the interest of the country as a whole. That has already been done. It is a danger of all protective legislation. I wonder if the First Lord of the Admiralty, who is a keen Tariff Reformer, will agree with me about this, that if you have legislation of this kind you are tempted rather to promote partial interests instead of the interests as a whole. Does he consider that is a danger of protective legislation? The right hon. Gentleman says "No." I was very much interested in reading accounts of the election in the right hon. Gentleman's own constituency. This is from the "Times":The Liberal candidate is of course, a Free Trader, and would, if elected, seek to repeal the Safeguarding of Industries Act. Mr. Amery, on the other hand, believes in the usefulness of the Act. [Hear, hear.] He points to a considerable number of local industries, such as aluminium, glass, magnetos, &c, which are now made there.I could quote the hon. and gallant Member for Wandsworth (Sir J. Norton-Griffiths) who, according to the "Daily News," says:I am the gas mantle workers' friend.An admirable object to pursue. But this was not originally said to be the object of the imposition of the tariff. This was a special expedient to be used to get us into a position of safety in the course of the next generation. That is the attitude that was taken; and yet we have an hon. and gallant Member declaring that he is "the gas mantle workers' friend." It was to get assistance in fighting the Germans or whoever it might be in the days to come.
§ Captain BENN
I should not be ashamed to say that, for I hope to see the peoples of the countries friends, and brotherhood established. [Interruption.] What the hon. Gentleman does not understand by his foolish observation—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—is that the people who fought in the War are the people who are determined to establish peace! May I just draw attention for a moment to one other very remarkable aspect of this legislation. The hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Balfour) suggests that I am determined to be the German manufacturers' friend. That is an odious charge to make because I do not believe in keeping German goods out of this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why!"] I say I do that primarily in the interests of British workers and manufacturers. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Well, let me try to make out my case. Where do these goods go to if they do not come here? They go to the neutral markets, and keep out our manufacturers who are trying to exploit these markets.
§ Captain BENN
Let me give the House some figures from an interesting document recently published dealing with the economic conditions prevailing in several countries and giving official German statistics. German exports to Sweden, Norway and Denmark in 1913 were 6 per cent.; in 1920 they had risen to 19 per cent. To Switzerland they were 5 per cent.; they have risen to 8. To Spain they had risen from I to 2. To this country, I am coming to this point at once! They had been diminished by the tariff walls and from 14 had sunk to 6; Belgium, from o to 3. Where has the balance gone to? The balance has gone to Holland, Norway. Denmark, Switzerland, South America and other countries. That is to say, that all this legislation has done has been to help to force German goods out and cut us out in neutral markets. That has been the effect of these ridiculous and ineffective tariff barriers.
1373 Let me, in conclusion, deal with two general considerations. First, what was the argument on which the whole of Part II of this Act was based? That argument was based on this: "We are in the presence of an imminent catastrophe. There is a storm, a flood coming, and we must prepare ourselves against it." I could quote speeches to that effect from the late Leader of the House, from the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was then in charge of the Bill, and what was said was to this effect: "We must look in the near future to more fierce and devastating competition from Germany than we have yet had." The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea took that line. He slid that is the view on which the case for this Act rests. It is now 18 months since the Act was passed. Has that flood arrived, or does it show any signs of arriving? Let us examine this devastating competition argument. In 1913 for the first nine months we had £58,000,000 worth of imports from Germany.
§ Captain BENN
Yes. I am comparing the figures with pre-War years. In 1920 it was £20,000,000, in 1921 £15,000,000, and for the first nine months of 1922 it was £18,000,000. So that the devastating Hood of competition against which this Act is supposed to form an effective dam is shown by these figures. Consequently, hon. Members who were willing to accept an expedient of this kind to meet a danger that appeared to threaten, now that it has disappeared, are quite justified in saying that this expedient is no longer necessary. What is the real policy which we should pursue if we wish to reconstruct the economic fabric of Europe? It is to remember the undertakings that we gave. I do not know whether hon. Members will recollect that in President Wilson's Fourteen Points the destruction of economic barriers was the third and not the least wise of them. The strange thing is that even when hon. Gentlemen opposite who are the most keen Protectionists are abroad in Syria they admit the very arguments which we have put forward. When abroad the right hon. Gentleman opposite lays down that the produce or manufactures of European countries should have the same 1374 advantages as other countries, and that is the doctrine of equality of treatment. Where is that applied in the Safeguarding of Industries Act?
§ Captain BENN
Can the right hon. Gentleman say that to differentiate between one country and another is to apply equality of treatment? When the President of the Board of Trade is at Genoa he tells them to treat all countries on the same footing. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It is quite impossible to conduct the Debate if hon. Members will not listen to opinions with which they do not agree.
§ Captain BENN
I have nothing to add to the questions which I have put to the President of the Board of Trade. Will the right hon. Gentleman say if, under Part II of the Act, we apply equality of treatment to the manufacturers of all countries whatsoever? Is it not open to me, in view of the facts, to say that the right hon. Gentleman recommends other countries to do what he will not recommend us to do here? I am entitled to say that his Amendment should recommend itself to Members of the House, because it suggests the repeal of an Act costly to operate, hampering to trade, destructive of research, raising prices and retarding European recovery.
§ Mr. NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN
I do not think it is really necessary for anyone on this bench to wind up the Debate on behalf of the Government after the very admirable speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for the Hillhead Division of Glasgow (Sir R. Home). To my mind, my right hon. Friend answered all the arguments put forward by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. But there are one or two observations I should like to make on the Debate which has taken place this evening. The first thing I would say is that we are dealing here with two very different matters. The Safeguarding of Industries Act and other legislation of the kind dealt in Part I of the Act and under the Dyestuffs Act with the question of National Defence. Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act deals with a matter important indeed to the industries, but not having the same relative importance to the country, 1375 namely, the unfair foreign competition encouraged and induced by dumping or collapsed exchanges. I hope I shall be pardoned if I refer once more to the Paris Resolutions. We have been told that these Resolutions have no bearing whatsoever on this legislation. The right hon. Gentleman explained that there was nothing in the Resolutions which bound any country to tamper with its own fiscal arrangements. That is quite true. The Resolution to which he specifically referred said that every country was at liberty to make what arrangements it liked so long as it achieved the result which all the Allies had agreed was indispensable. I think my right hon. Friend must have forgotten that he himself said, speaking on the 2nd August, 1916:The Allies, as we conceive it, are under a bounden duty to take every practical measure to secure for their own use supplies which are produced in their own territories, and to prevent any German control such as existed in some cases before the War."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd Aug., 1916; col. 335, Vol. 85.]He went on to say a good many other interesting things, but I will not annoy him by quoting them. I have quoted sufficient for my purpose. It is the bounden duty of the Allies to take those steps, and therefore I suppose my right hon. Friend only criticises this legislation because he says that this is not the right way of doing the thing which we all agree ought to be done. That was the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), who moved this Amendment He said, speaking of the Dyestuffs Protection Act, that that was the very worst way in which you could possibly approach this problem. When he came to deal will the Safeguarding of Industries Act, which deals with the matter in quite a different way, again he said that that was the very worst way that could possibly be picked out for dealing with this question. He came to the question of collapsed exchanges, where again there was a different way, and he described it as being a very odd method of procedure. What is his way? I think we are entitled, if it is the bounden duty of this House to see that these objects are achieved, and if all these ways are the worst ways we can possibly adopt, to ask right hon. Gentlemen opposite what is the way in 1376 which they would suggest we should carry out the duty which they recognise. I have tried to find whether the right hon. Gentleman had any policy. He quoted some words of his own upon this subject, in which he laid clown the conditions under which this bounden duty should be carried out. What were those conditions? The first was that you were not to divert labour or capital from essential industries. The second was that you were not to foist upon the British consumer inferior articles at excessive prices. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Yes, those are the things that we are not to do; but what we want to know is what are the things that we are to do, and the only suggestion, apparently, that the right hon. Gentleman had to make was that you should take, for the benefit of the State, the profits that might be made by those who were carrying on this industry. They have to make profits first before you can take them away. The right hon. Gentleman has offered that barren suggestion, which, no doubt will always gain cheers from some Members of the House, in order to carry out the objects which, after all, from the time of the War, we have recognised as absolutely essential, not merely to the prosperity, but to the existence of this country. The Balfour of Burleigh Committee, which was appointed by my right hon. Friend, was so impressed with the vital importance of this matter that it said that these industries should be maintained in this country at all hazards at any expense. They did not stop to consider whether it would raise prices, whether it would hamper trade, or whether it would increase unemployment. They said that, at all hazards and at any expense, it was absolutely necessary for the existence of the country that these industries should be preserved. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley dropped one suggestion, and that was that you should establish these industries by assisting research. The right hon. Gentleman has one great advantage over me that, so far as I know, he has never himself been engaged in trade, and therefore he is able to bring to the discussion on this question a detachment from the practical realities which is not open to me.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I do not want to interrupt for more than a second. Will 1377 the right hon. Gentleman tell me, is it his impression that Germany established her chemical industry by a tariff, or was it by promoting and assisting research?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
If I may answer in a word, I would say by both. The comment that I was about to make was, that if you are to confine your encouragement to research, to a professor here and there in a university, that is going to be totally inadequate for the purpose. I do not want to be misunderstood. I am not in the least belittling the work of professors of universities, and I recognise that the investigation of pure science is the foundation upon which all applied science rests; but everybody who has been engaged in business knows that you have to take on a dozen men to get one winner. Unless you can do as the Germane did, that is, build tip great chemical industries to give employment to large numbers of chemists, we are never going to get that progress in chemistry which is necessary if we are to maintain and secure our position.
It is useless for right hon. Gentlemen opposite to tell us that they are in sympathy with the idea of establishing these chemical industries if they are going to refuse to take any steps whatsoever to carry their sympathy into practical effect. The Amendment contains three dogmatic assertions, not of opinion but of alleged facts. It states that these Measures —that is, the Safeguarding of Industries Act—are raising prices, hampering trade and limiting employment. We have not had, throughout this Debate from beginning to end one title of evidence —[HON. MEMBERS: "We have!"]— either that prices have been raised or that employment has been limited. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
All that hon. Members have done is to repeat, over and over again, that these Measures must raise prices, but they have not shown that prices have actually been raised. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes," and Interruption.]
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is not a point of Order. Hon. Members have made their speeches, and they should listen to the reply.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I am sorry if while I was out for a few minutes I did not hear the hon. Gentleman. I have not heard one single fact to show that prices have been raised by the effect of this legislation. I think I remember what the hon. Member for South Bradford (Mr. Spencer) said. He was talking about the destruction of a dyeing industry in Java.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
We have had no evidence of any decline in exports due to this Measure. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley gave the key note, almost in the opening sentence of his speech, when he declared that what he was out for was to preserve the right of British merchants to buy freely in foreign markets. That is his point. I ask the House to consider which is the best to preserve for this country, a British merchant, who employs a few clerks and gives employment to people in Germany, or a British manufacturer, who, at any rate, employs workpeople and, if he can, increases his works—[HON. MEMBERS: "And his profits."]—yes, and his profits, and thereby employs more and more of our people? I think we are entitled to quote, upon our side, the evidence of one or two of those who are engaged in the trades affected, as to what effect it has had upon employment in these trades. An old-established firm in tike chemical trade writes:We have found it possible to set to work on research and experimental work on a number of new chemical products which we believe can now be profitably developed in this country under the protection of the Act. Some of these new products may turn out to be saleable on a very large scale, with an automatic increase of employment for our workpeople.Another firm writes:We have undertaken the manufacture of a number of additional chemical substances since the Act was passed. We have three additional buildings at present in course of erection, two of them approaching completion. We are employing additional chemists, junior chemists, skilled workmen, process workers and labourers.1379 It is very easy for hon. Members opposite to dig out here and there a ease where the working of a novel and complex Act has resulted in some difficulties of administration, but I think we are entitled to ask that a little time should be given for experience to be gained before we attempt to pull up by the roots an Act which has already increased employment in many directions and which is beginning, slowly it may be, but surely, to build up the great industry which we believe and
§ which you, too, believe to be essential to the security of the country. I should have liked to enter upon a discussion of Part II, but time does not permit. Let us go on a little longer upon the path on which we have entered, and let us reject decisively the Amendment before the House.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 207: Noes, 269.1383
|Division No. 12.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Groves, T.||Morel, E. D.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Grundy, T. W.||Morris, Harold|
|Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent||Guest. Hon. C. H. (Bristol, N.)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham. N.)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Mosley. Oswald|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Muir, John W.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Murnin, H.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Hancock, John George||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)|
|Attlee, C. R.||Harbison, Thomas James S.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Harbord, Arthur||Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western)|
|Barnes, A.||Hardie, George D.||Nichol, Robert|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Harney, E. A.||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Batey, Joseph||Harris, Percy A.||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hartshorn, Vernon||Oliver, George Harold|
|Bennett, A. J. (Mansfield)||Hastings, Patrick||Paling, W.|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)||Parker. H. (Hanley)|
|Bonwick, A.||Hayday, Arthur||Parry, Lieut. Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Bowdler, W. A.||Hemmerde, E. G.||Pattinson, R. (Grantham)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)|
|Briant, Frank||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Broad, F. A.||Henn. Sir Sydney H.||Phillpson, H. H.|
|Brotherton, J.||Herriotts, J.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hill, A.||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hillary, A E.||Rae, Sir Henry N.|
|Buckle, J.||Hinds, John||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Burgess, S.||Hirst, G. H.||Riley, Ben|
|Burnie, Major J.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Ritson, J.|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Hodge, Colonel J. P. (Preston)||Roberts, C. H. (Derby)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Hopkinion, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Roberts, F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Cairns, John||Irving, Dan||Robinson. W. C. (York, Eliand)|
|Cape, Thomas||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)'||Rose, Frank H.|
|Chapple, W. A.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Royce. William Stapleton|
|Clarke, Sir E. C.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Russell, William (Bolton)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Saklatvala, S.|
|Collie, Sir John||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||t Salter, Dr. A.|
|Collins, Pat (Walsall)||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Collison, Levi||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Sexton, James|
|Cotts, Sir William Dingwall Mitchell||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Kenyon, Barnet||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Kirkwood, D.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lansbury, George||Sinclair, Sir A.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Lawson, John James||Sitch, Charles H,|
|Duncan, C.||Leach, W.||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Dunnico, H.||Lee, F.||Snell, Harry|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Linfield, F. C.||Snowden, Philip|
|Edmonds, G.||Lowth, T.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lunn. William||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Stephen, Campbell|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Stephenson. Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Entwistie, Major C. F.||Macdonald. Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E.)||M'Entee, V. L.||Thomas, Rt. Hon, James H. (Derby)|
|Evans, Ernest (Cardigan)||McLaren, Andrew||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Falrbairn, R. R.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Falconer, J.||March, S.||Thornton, M.|
|Foot, Isaac||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Tillett, Benjamin|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Marshall. Sir Arthur H.||Tout, W. J.|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne, E.)||Trevelyan, C. P.|
|Greenall, T.||Mathew, C. J.||Turner, Ben|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Maxton, James||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Middleton, G.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Millar, J. D.||Warne, G. H.|
|Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)||Whiteley, W.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Wedgwood, Colonel Joslah C.||wignall, James||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Weir, L. M.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Westwood, J.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)||TELLERS FOR THE AYE.—|
|Wheatley, J.||Wilton, c. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)||Mr. Hogge and Mr. George Thorne.|
|White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)||Wilton, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Ednam, viscount||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Elveden, Viscount||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Apsley, Lord||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Lorden, John William|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Lorimer, H. D.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Falcon, Captain Michael||Lougher, L.|
|Astor, J. J. (Kent, Dover)||Fawkes, Major F. H.||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Fermor-Hesketh, Major T.||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lumley, L. R.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Foreman, Sir Henry||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Forestier-Walker, L.||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Banks, Mitchell||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Margesson, H. D. R.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Furness, G. J.||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W||Galbraith, J, F. W.||Mercer, Colonel H.|
|Bonn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Ganzonl, Sir John||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Garland, C. S.||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)|
|Berry. Sir George||Gates, Percy||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Birch all, Major J. Dearman||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Goff, Sir R. Park||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Gould, James C.||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Brass. Captain W.||Gray, Harold (Cambridge)||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Murchison, C. K.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Nail, Major Joseph|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Nesbitt, J. C.|
|Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Gretton, Colonel John||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Bruford, R.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Halstead, Major D.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Buckley, Lieut, Colonel A.||Hamilton, sir George C. (Altrincham)||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Harrison, F. C.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge)||Harvey, Major S. E.||Paget, T. G.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hawke, John Anthony||Parker, Owen (Kettering)|
|Butler, H. M. (Leeds, North)||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Penny, Frederick George|
|Button, H. S.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Cadogan, Major Edward||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Hewett, Sir J. P.||Perring, William George|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Peto, Basil E.|
|Cassels, J. D,||Hlley, Sir Ernest||Pielou, D. P.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Privett, F. J.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Hood, Sir Joseph||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hopkins, John W. W.||Raine, W.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Houfton, John Plowright||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, ft.)||Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hudson, Capt. A.||Remer, J. R.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Hughes, Collingwood||Remnant, Sir James|
|Colfox, Major Win. Phillips||Hume, G. H.||Reynolds, W. G. W.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Hume-Williams. Sir W. Ellis||Rhodes, Lieut.-Col. J. P.|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff. South)||Hurd, Percy A.||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Hurst, Lt.-Col. Gerald Berkeley||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chrtsy)|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Peebles. N.)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. Sir S. (Ecclesall)|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Robertson, J. D. (Islington, W.)|
|Crooke, J. S. (Deritend)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Rogerson, Capt. J. E.|
|Curzon. Captain Viscount||Jephcott, A. R.||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Dalzlel Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hampstead)||Johnson, Sir L. (Waithamstow, E.)||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Russell-Wells, Sir Sidney|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||King, Capt. Henry Douglas||Samuel, A, M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Dixon, C. H. (Rutland)||Kinloch Cooke, Sir Clement||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lamb, J. Q.||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.|
|Sandon, Lord||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)||Thomson, Luke (Sunderland)||Windsor, Viscount|
|Shepperson. E. W.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Singleton, J. E.||Thorpe, Captain John Henry||Winterton, Earl|
|Skelton, A. N.||Titchfield, Marquess ot||Wise, Frederick|
|Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)||Tryon. Rt. Hon. George Clement||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Somerville, A. A, (Windsor)||Tubbs, S. w.||Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-In-Furn'ss)||Turton, Edmund Russborough||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Sparkes, H. W.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.||Wood, Maj. Sir S. Hill (High Peak)|
|Stanley, Lord||Wallace, Captain E.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Steel, Major S. Strang||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-||Wells, S. R.|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Sutcliffe, T.||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.||Colonel Gibbs and Major Barnston.|
|Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ It being after Eleven of the Clock, the-Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed To-morrow.