§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Baldwin)
I beg to move,That the draft of the Order proposed to be made by the Board of Trade under the safeguarding of Industries Act, 1921, which was laid before this House on the 19th day of June, 1922, and published, be approved, subject to the following modifications (that is to say):Page 2 of the said draft, line 20, leave out 'day of June,' and insert '8th day of August.'Page 3, line 17, leave out 'day of June,' and insert '8th day of August.'I will try not to occupy the time of the House at any undue length, but I shall endeavour to explain as fully as I am able and as far as I can the case of the Government in support of these Orders and to make clear the issues upon which the House will be asked to come to a decision. A year ago the Safeguarding of Industries Act became law, and when that Act became law there were bound to be orders of some kind. It is a well-known aphorism—I do not know whether the hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Kiley) remembers it—that "things are what they are, and consequences will be what they will be; why then should we deceive ourselves?" This Act is on the Statute Book. The consequences will be what they will be. Orders will be made. Why then should we deceive ourselves in regard to them? Before an Order appears on the Paper of this House, and before a Resolution upon it can be put to the House, four stages have to be gone through. I apologise to the House for dealing with these, because I am not sure that hon. Members are familiar with the details of the working of this Act. In the first place, the Board of Trade has to be convinced that a primâ facie case is made out on the part of those applying to send their case to a Committee. In the second place, if the primâ facie case is upheld by the Board of Trade the case is referred to a Committee, who have to decide on certain questions of facts which are scheduled in the second section of the Act of Parliament. They have to decide that goods are being sold or offered for sale in the United Kingdom 1054at prices which by reason of depreciation in the value in relation to sterling of the currency of the country in which the goods are manufactured, not being a country within His Majesty's Dominions, are below the prices at which similar goods can be profitably manufactured in the United Kingdom, and that by reason thereof employment in any industry in the United Kingdom is likely to be seriously affected.It is under these circumstances that the matter is referred for inquiry to a Committee constituted for the purpose of this part of this Act. Then it is laid down that the Board, on referring any such matter to a Committee, shall direct that the Committee shall report onthe effect which the imposition of a duty under this Part of this Act on goods of any particular class or description would exert on employment in any other industry, being an industry using goods of that class or description as material.At a later stage the Committee have to satisfy themselves that there is reasonable efficiency in the trade in question in this country, and that any Order which might result from their Report would not be at variance with any Treaty, convention or engagement with any foreign State in force for the time being. The third stage is, that the President of the Board of Trade may make an Order—and here I would call attention to the word "may," which leaves to him an option on which I shall have something to say later on—and the fourth and last stage is the one on which we are now entering, in which the Order is made subject to confirmation or otherwise by the House of Commons. I should like to say a few words on each of these stages in the progress of an Order up to the time it comes before this House.
I do not think anyone, bearing in mind the Debates which took place last year, will be of opinion that anyone advocating the Bill from these Benches declared that there would be in the near future a flood of German exports which would involve all the industries of this country. It was pointed out, if my recollection serves me, that conditions in Germany were such that it was a possibility which could not be ruled out, and that it would be advisable to legislate in time, lest such a state of things occurring later might take the country by surprise, and lead to hasty legislation on the part of whatever Government might then be in power. As a matter of fact, there has been no 1055 importation into this country of goods affecting the great staple industries of any nature to demand the assistance of this Act. But there has been importation on the part of manufacturers of goods of smaller industries which has caused anxiety among the manufacturers of this country, and I think it might interest hon. Members if I told them what I think has already been told by way of question and answer, that no less than 120 trades or branches of trades have made preliminary inquiries at the Board of Trade to see whether steps could be taken to bring them under the Safeguarding of Industries Act. The first step that an industry has to take, naturally, is to consult with the Board of Trade, and to assist them we have printed certain memoranda, showing them the kind of question which we wish to be able to examine before we can decide whether or not a primâ facie case exists. But it must be obvious to the House that for the varied industries of this country a single printed memorandum, however complete, could not be sufficient, and, in practice, we have found that it has been both convenient and necessary for many personal interviews to take place, and complainants have themselves come to us, both to save time and to be able to find out speedily and with greater accuracy what they have to do.
A large number of these original applications proceeded no further than making the preliminary enquiries at the Board of Trade, and, of the cases that did proceed further and that were submitted to us for examination to see whether a primâ facie case existed, we rejected 23. Those rejections largely apply to traders who applied as against importations from France and Italy, and they failed on the ground that in neither of those countries could they substantiate the case that there was an operating bounty assisting importation into this country. There are still 12 cases for which we are waiting further information before we can decide whether there is a primâ facie case or not, and 15 have been referred to Committees Of those cases referred to Committees, four appear in the Draft Order to-day, four were adversely reported on by the Committees, and on seven the reports have not yet been received.
1056 I should like at this point to say a word on the third of the stages to which I alluded at the beginning of my speech. The President of the Board of Trade is placed in a very difficult and invidious position, for he has, in effect, to act as a private referee or court of appeal in certain events. He has the power of deciding whether an Order shall be made or not. There are no precedents laid down, and I conceived it my duty to examine such relevant questions, or questions that appeared to me to be relevant, which could not under the Statute be brought before the notice of the Committee. It seemed to me, having regard to the whole tendency of the Act and the wording of the Preamble, that the one question on which I had to satisfy myself was whether there was any relevant factor in any given case, the operation of which would lead to much greater harm to British industry as a whole than the making of the Order would benefit the industry specially concerned. If that much greater harm resulted, it was clear to me that the President should decline to make the Order, and if he were not satisfied as to that, it was equally clear to me to be his duty to make the Order. In my view, he has no other discretion at all.
I have said enough to show that before an Order can come before this House for ratification or rejection it is subjected in all these processes to a patient and thorough investigation, and I think that is proved from the fact that so few of the original applications that have been made have finally passed through the fine mesh of the sieve and been delivered on the Floor of this House. I hope, also, that what I have said may dispose, once and for all, of the charge which has been brought against me, that I am a kind of Protectionist. Mr. Wemmick, who suddenly said, "Hello! here's a pair of fabric gloves; let's tax them." I am nothing of the kind. Before I come to any detail, I would make two general observations and one special observation. The two general observations applying to all the Orders which are included in the Resolution, are these. It has naturally been asked whether, seeing that some time has elapsed between the reception of the Reports of the Committees and the placing of the Resolution on the Paper to-day, employment during the last few months has remained stationary or not in the 1057 trades affected, and whether the bounty given to the German manufacturer by the difference between the external and internal values of the mark remains where it was two months ago or not. Employment, so far as fabric gloves are concerned, has shown a very slight improvement, but not sufficient to redeem that industry from the category in which it was placed by the Committee as one in which there existed serious unemployment. In other industries specified there has been a progressive decline in employment during the last few months. With regard to currency, it is almost impossible at any given moment to say what is the exact relation between the two values of the German mark. The only thing we do knew and can assert without fear of contradiction is that whenever there comes such a rapid fall in the external value in comparison with sterling, as has occurred lately—when, in other words, the mark is running away—that must for a time increase the bounty in Germany, owing to the lag that always exists in internal prices.
The one special point to which I wish to refer is this. There is an Order included in the Resolution having reference to glassware, and I have declined to make that Order as regards Czecho-Slovakia. I have declined on this ground. No country in Europe has made greater and more genuine efforts to stabilise its currency than Czecho-Slovakia, and the unemployment that exists in that country is a proof of the severity of their efforts, because an effort of that kind is bound to be attended, at first, with much disturbance of trade. But their efforts have been so successful that, according to the best opinion that I have been able to consult, it is probable that at this moment no bounty, in fact, exists, and it is certain that, if they follow the excellent example that they have set themselves, that bounty will have ceased to exist before long beyond all question. After all, there is nothing of greater importance to the trade of this country than that the European countries should be encouraged in every way to stabilise their currency, and it seemed to me that in the best interests of our trade it world be most inadvisable at a moment like this to insist on an. Order being made in the case of such a country as Czecho-Slovakia, even if it could be proved that at the moment there might be a very small 1058 bounty in existence. Moreover, it appeared to me that at this time the absence of an Order in regard to Czecho-Slovakia might possibly facilitate the arrangement of a treaty with that country which would be a great benefit to all our traders. On those grounds, I justify the course of action which I took in refusing to make the Order.
I now pass to a subject which has attracted a great deal of attention during the last few weeks, and that is the first Order that is included in the Resolution of to-day. It has been curious and interesting that the first Order that should be made under this Act should be one which has aroused so much interest and excitement. I can well understand the joy that it must have caused in the ranks opposite when they saw the possibilities—they were fairly obvious—of such an Order, if it were made. They had visions of a Heaven-sent opportunity of splitting the Coalition into its primæval fragments. They had visions not only of doing that, but of smashing up the Tory party at the same time. They have done their best. I remember very well the expression which passed over the mobile features of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn) when he thought for one moment that the Government were not going to make the Order. He looked like a champion entering the lists of the tournament whose weapon had been struck from his hand. The weapon will remain, and more power to his elbow in wielding it!
At this point I think I must say something about the case, that has been made against the imposition of the Order relating to, fabric gloves. I am not going into it in great detail, but I must allude to it, and I must comment on it, because it is an integral part of my own defence of the attitude which I have taken up. I propose to say a few words about the only case that has been made against the Order, and that is the Lancashire case. I do not propose to say anything about the importers' case, because the importers of foreign goods, with admirable impartiality, have objected, and object, to every Order that may be proposed, because they see in the imposition of any Order a possibility that they may be deprived of a portion of those enormous profits that they have been making during the last year or two, by importing cheap 1059 German goods with the help of the bounty, selling them in this country at the same price as the English goods, and putting into their own pockets what the consumer might well hope and expect to have. I have not the slightest objection to anybody who can making good profits, if he will only honestly say that he is out for those profits and is anxious to keep them. My only objection is when he says that he objects to any Order because he is afraid that the consumer may suffer.
I should like to say, in the first place, that I have a good deal of sympathy with Lancashire—I do not mean in their case, which I honestly think is the weakest case I have ever read on any subject—but I have a great deal of sympathy with them because I know what their difficulties and their troubles are. Lancashire has passed through an anxious time. It has always been of vital importance to Lancashire that she should have every market for her export trade open to her as widely as that market can be opened. There is no doubt that Lancashire has always wanted just what would suit every industry in this country, and that is an open free trade market throughout the world. But she has seen, in the process of years, various markets in the world gradually closing up against her. She has seen tariffs getting higher and higher against her, and quite lately she has seen in India—a country which she had always marked as her own, and where, up till now, the tariffs have been balanced by the Excise, which was some compensation—she has seen there the tariff wall beginning to climb up beyond the Excise. These things make men think. They must make her anxious about the future, and she feels that at all costs she must preserve the markets that she has got. She feels a natural apprehension lest any step, however small, on our part should irritate her competitors to a point that would make them compete still more fiercely against her, and she feels, as it were, that she hardly dare breathe lest some avalanche should be brought down that would bring disaster on that great industry.
When Lancashire was feeling like that, imagine the feeling of the Liberal party in Manchester and the Free Trade party. They saw the chance of their lives to jump in and join up with the manufacturers, and try and support a campaign 1060 which would bring down the Government. It was very natural, it was very obvious, and it seemed as though it might offer some prospect of success. But, although it is impossible to judge how much this opposition owed its origin to party, and how much to the genuine fear of the trader, yet it is certain that at the moment in Lancashire there is a genuine fear, and a genuine and united apprehension. I cannot imagine that anything I can say can move that, although I have every conviction that, in three months' time, all Lancashire, except the politicians, will have forgotten that there ever was such a thing as a fabric glove. Now let us look for a few moments at the chief points that were raised before Sir Henry Rew's Committee, and I should like to say here that some of the points that were raised before that Committee were raised before me as long ago as last March, when I saw three separate parties of manufacturers from the Bolton district, and examined thoroughly with them in conversation their objections to this proposed duty on fabric gloves.
One contention of the Lancashire in terests is that, if this duty be put on fabric gloves, they will lose their yarn trade with Germany; in other words, that the imposition of a duty of 33⅓ per cent. for two years on fabric gloves, the import of which into this country last year amounted to between £600,000 and £700,000 in value, will so irritate the Germans that, unable to retaliate by tariff, they will do one of two things—they will either buy all their yarn from some other country than England, or they will proceed to manufacture fine yarns for their own requirements. I put it to business men in the House, do they believe, as a matter of business, that any country in the world in a position like Germany, for such a duty on such an article, would scour the world to see where they could obtain their yarn, instead of buying it from this country? There is no earthly reason why they should break old connections, why they should act out of spite. People always buy their goods where it pays them best to do it. There is no doubt that it pays them best to do it in this country, and they will go on doing it in this country, and wait till the expiration of the duty.
Whether they will manufacture for themselves or not, opens up quite another question. If a country has made up its 1061 mind to manufacture a certain article, it is not going to accelerate or decelerate its progress because another country puts a temporary duty on fabric gloves. It will be part of a commercial policy. I can understand Lancashire feeling apprehensive, because what they think is threatening with regard to fine yarn is what has been threatened and what has been done with regard to other industries. If I may digress for a moment, Germany, when she became a great manufacturing country, did not at once attempt to compete with us in many highly finished products, because she knew the position that we had made for ourselves in regard to them in the past. She confined herself principally to certain staple industries in their earlier stages of manufacture, and then devoted her brain and her power to the development of new and scientific industries, which we at that time, being firmly entrenched in the impregnable position we had held for so long, hardly thought were worth thinking about, and confined ourselves to trades where we had been so prosperous for so many years. So it was that Germany devoted her attention to building up great industries like the electrical industry and the chemical industry. It was only as time went on that she began to devote her attention more and more to producing goods in the staple trades, that required more labour upon their manufacture. Therefore, whether the time has come, or whether it has not, for Germany to increase her own production of fine yarn, she will not be affected one iota by a trifling duty on a trifling exportation such as this; she will proceed in her own good time. I see it is also said that the Germans will be prejudiced against us. The question is asked, What will they think of our sense of fair play? That is a very humorous observation, and I really do not think it requires any answer at all.
There is one point, with reference to sterling credits, which I confess I have not been able to understand. It is said that.The whole of the sterling credits created by the Saxon manufacturer through the sale of their gloves are expended in yarn. When the export of gloves ceases, by reason of the duty, these credits will also cease to exist, and the Saxon manufacturer will be unable to buy yarns from us, having no other means of financing his purchases.1062 if that means anything, then it appears to me that if, by exporting £670,000 worth of gloves to this country, the Saxon manufacturer can command credits to the amount of about £3,700,000, the sooner we emigrate to Saxony and make fabric gloves the quicker we shall make our own fortunes. If it means anything else, I have no doubt that it will be explained in the course of the Debate. A remark is made as to the impossibility of fixing tariffs on the basis of fluctuating exchanges. With that I agree. We had a lengthy Debate on that last year, and the House of Commons decided that it was impossible. One of my hon. Friends thought it was possible. I told him I could not imagine myself fixing a tariff every Saturday night, and we parted; and I think he has had less respect for my intelligence ever since. As a matter of fact, the House of Commons decided last year that it was impossible to do that, but that they would do what they thought was the next best thing, and would fix such a rate of duty as, in their opinion, might be of some assistance, even in spite of the fluctuations of the exchange, to the industries seeking it. There is a curious passage in the Lancashire case, where they speak about the efficiency of competing countries, and where they say that the competitive position of other countries is as good as theirs. That directly controverts, of course, the conclusions come to by a Committee, set up by the Board of Trade, towards the end of the War, on the position of the textile trades, on which various representatives of the cotton trade sat; and I leave them to reconcile those differences within the trade themselves. As I have said, I heard this case in March, and I said to the gentlemen who came to see me, "If you can prove to me that you are going to lose this trade, I shall have no hesitation in refusing to make the Order. But," I said, "you have proved nothing to me. You have only proved to me that you have a genuine fear, for which I can see no foundation."
When the case was brought, up before Sir Henry Rew's Committee, that Committee unanimously took the same view of the case as I had taken in March, that no ease had been made out on the ground of harm which might be done to the cotton trade of Lancashire. Harm to the Government it may possibly do. It would have been very easy for me to say, 1063 "Do not make the Order." I should not have offended many people of influence and I should have satisfied a, very powerful trade. There was nothing in the Act which would entitle me to do that. In the Preamble the words occur "with a view to the safeguarding of certain special industries and the safeguarding of employment in the United Kingdom." There is nothing about the saving of anybody's seat. Difficult as my position is now, it would have been far more difficult if the hon. and gallant Member for Leith had inserted some words in the Bill last year to the effect that "the President of the Board of Trade may, if he thinks fit, and if it seems to him that the result of an Order would be that any Member of this House should be uncomfortable in his seat, refuse to make an Order." But no such words were inserted, and I have to judge this matter solely as a question affecting the trade of the country, and my only desire with regard to this Act is to administer it impartially and honestly. Those who have opposed the Act from the beginning, and fought against it, can vote with a, clear conscience to-night against the making of this Order, but I cannot see how anyone who supported the Act can honestly to himself or to the House vote against the confirmation of the Order. For my part, I have been perfectly clear throughout as to the duty of the President of the Board of Trade in administering this Act. The Board of Trade—if I may say this, because I have not been there long, and it has nothing to do with me—have a reputation with the trading community for impartiality and for the fair consideration they give to the questions that come before them, and I do not think anyone in the country believes that they are swayed in their decisions or their views by any political consideration. To carry on that tradition has always been my object and, so long as I am at the Board of Trade, this tradition and this tradition alone will be maintained.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
There is one observation made by my right hon. Friend at the close of his speech with which I am glad to find myself in complete agreement. I find it difficult to understand how anyone who voted for the Second Reading of the Bill can take any serious objection to the Orders which are now being made. But 1064 my right hon. Friend's speech showed, I think, a certain change of temperature, although, as he said, he is mainly concerned with the administration of the Act, in his feelings for it. An ancient moralist said there was no spectacle more worthy of the attentive admiration of the Gods than that of a good roan struggling with adversity. Let me add to that that when the good man is impersonated, as he is to-day, under very adverse conditions, by the President of the Board of Trade, in addition to any celestial approbation to which he is entitled, I can assure him of the sympathetic respect of his political opponents. The solicitude which the right hon. Gentleman has shown to-night for the somewhat belated results of this legislation has been of slow growth. It has taken the Bill some time, as those who remember the Debates will agree, to worm its way into his heart and his convictions. The conquest, I am glad to see, is now complete and he exhibits for it something of that devoted parental or semi-parental care which is shown to those who have watched over the fluctuating health of a sickly child. But for one grave issue it would, to me, at any rate, be difficult to treat this as a serious occasion. The Parliamentary situation is, indeed, in my experience, almost unique. Last Monday, only a week ago, with the Whips off, the House was allowed a free vote, and took advantage of it to condemn a Protectionist embargo. To-night, with the Whips on, and with their assistance, the see-saw is on the other top. We are not only invited but required to approve of a Protectionist import duty. These are the expedients, perhaps the necessary expedients, by which an unstable combination secures, in the long run, an average of political equilibrium. The Orders which the right hon. Gentleman asks the House to sanction are, with one exception only, in my judgment, of very little intrinsic importance. The mountain which has been in labour all last year has produced an insignificant litter of mice. I see my hen. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. G. Terrell) in his lonely conning tower, and I am sure there is no one in this country who is less satisfied with this miserable, exiguous, contemptible instalment of Protection than he. The truth is that when you look—I am taking the Order now in all its parts— 1065 when you look at the character of the industries to which it is applied, to the quantum of labour and capital which they affect, and to the revenue which this 33⅓ per cent. duty is going to bring into the Exchequer, how it justifies the predictions of those of us who resisted this legislation at every stage, and what a commentary it is on the outcry that Great Britain was being flooded, or was about to be flooded, with dumped goods from countries enjoying, as exporters, a depreciated exchange! I forget how many proposed Orders the right hon. Gentleman tells us—how many Resolutions have come before the Board of Trade and have not been sanctioned.
§ Mr. BALDWIN
Hon. Members behind have not quite got the point. One hundred and twenty applications came in, but they did not get so far as to present a primâ facie case.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
That strengthens my argument. Of 123 applications, the residuum is only four, which have gone through the meshes of the net of the Board of Trade and are now submitted to the House. What becomes of the outcry against dumping founded upon a depreciated exchange? It is reduced to insignificant and even contemptible proportions.
I wish to make two general observations, which apply to all the categories included in this Schedule, which I think are not without importance. In the first place, the ground alleged for the inclusion of each and all of these trades in the Order is the depreciated currency of the exporting country. Let me ask the House to remember these facts. Last year, when we were considering this legislation, the German mark, in the months of May, June, July and August, fluctuated between 250 and 300. In December, when the Fabric Gloves Committee conducted its investigations, arid early in January, when they made their Report, the value of the mark had sunk to 750. During the spring of this year it fell further to about 1066 1,600, and last Saturday, the day before yesterday, it was quoted at 2,700. To-day it is 3,000. I ask the House to bear those figures in mind, because they are of importance when you are judging the character and effect of legislation of this kind, for they show that nothing can be on the face of it more ridiculous, and, indeed, preposterous, than to impose a fixed tariff duty to counteract wildly fluctuating exchanges. I said last year when we were discussing this Bill that there was something to be said, if we were going to have legislation of this kind, for a sliding scale which would vary the duty and bring it into some relation to the varying phases of the exchange from time to time. To ask us now to adopt the conclusions of the Committee, based upon evidence which could not have gone further back than the Autumn of 1921, when the mark was about 300, and when they made their report the mark was not more than 750, to ask us to adopt that even for two years—the right hon. Gentleman very wisely has minimised the duration of this Act—and apply that to a permanent import duty, is little short of political and fiscal insanity. The duty may be adequate at one moment, it may be wholly unnecessary the second moment, and it may be wholly inadequate at the third moment. That is the first observation which goes to the root of the whole of this legislation and shows how absurd and unreasonable it is. If you want to deal with dumping, that is not the way to do it.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
My hon. Friend asks me a question. There is no occasion or necessity to deal with it at all, because everything shows, the experience of the last two years shows, that we are not suffering in any of the great industries of this country to any appreciable extent from the dumping of imported goods, either through depreciated exchanges or for any other reason. There never was less cause for legislation or administration of this sort than there is at this moment. I want to make a second observation which applies to all these Orders alike, and it is this: this Resolution applies only to goods manufactured in Germany. If any-one wishes to understand the manifest absurdity of such a restriction as that, I would advise him to 1067 read the admirable minority report of Sir John Barran to the Committee on Domestic Glassware. The President of the Board of Trade has referred to the discrimination which he is making between glassware as it comes from Germany and as it comes from Czecho-Slovakia. As a matter of fact, our real competitor in the manufacture of domestic glassware is neither of these two countries, but Belgium, which had the lion's share of the trade both in 1920 and 1921. The Belgian competition is far the most serious competition with which the English manufacturer has to contend, and that will continue in spite of this Order, unhampered and unchecked.
Look at the two cases of Germany and Czecho-Slovakia. They come, I think, next in order of severity and of success among our competitors in this particular class of manufacture. The figures produced to the Committee, which were set out with great lucidity in Sir John Barran's minority report, show that the German importation in 1921, as compared with 1920, dropped in value from £515,000 to £195,000, while the Czecho-Slovakian importation rose from £216,000 in 1920 to £335,000 in 1921. Consider that in the light of the theory which is the basis of this legislation, that this is due to depreciation of exchange. The depreciation of the German exchange was at least as great—I am putting it purposely in very moderate terms—in the first of these years as was the depreciation of the Czecho-Slovakian exchange, and, as everybody knows, it has gone on relatively depreciating more and more until it has now reached an almost prohibitive figure. How are you going to account for these facts on the basis that the cause of this increased importation in competitive commodities is due to depreciated exchange? Germany, with her exchange going worse and worse, month after month, year after year, has diminished her importation, and Czecho-Slovakia, with her exchange certainly not going down—in fact, I think it is rather better now, distinctly better than it was at the beginning of that period—and her importation going up. It knocks out the whole foundation of this ridiculous and perverted theory of economics.
1068 I have troubled the house with these two general arguments, which apply to all these Orders, particularly glassware, and now let me deal with the specific question, which is the only really serious question, of fabric gloves. I need not go into the history of this matter, because it is very familiar to everybody. It is sufficient to say that, before the War, in the years 1913–1914, net less than 90 per cent. of this class of goods came into this. country from Germany. Why did they come here? It was not because they were cheaper. I doubt very much whether they were cheaper. It was because they were better. They were better made. They were more adapted to the taste and the wants of the consumer, who took them, as the consumer does to-day, without inquiry as to where they came from, in preference to their British rivals. That was the state of things before the War. The number of corkers employed here in the fabric glove industry before the War did not exceed 2,500. During the War, of course, the foreign supply was excluded, including the German supply and the result was that there was a forced artificial development of the trade, with the consequence that the number of persons employed reached, I think its highest point was in 1919, 11,000. After the War, when exclusion ceased, and foreign competition again asserted itself, the number, as the Committee reports, fell to about 1,700. The right hon. Gentleman says it is rather more to-day. That is not of much importance. The number is slightly lower than the pre-War figures. That is exactly the sort of thing that you would expect to happen in a comparatively small trade after war conditions. The English consumer of these gloves during that period had to depend upon a domestic supply. He got, there is every reason to think, an inferior article. Now, when the market is open, he not unnaturally prefers to have the thing which he always desired before, and which practically ousted in the competition of a free market the English. supply.
I would say of that, as I have said of the other categories in this Schedule, that it was a relatively unimportant matter, having regard to the volume of the British industry, but that it brings in another and very serious consideration, I mean the consideration of the source from which the raw material for these fabrics 1069 is derived. Before the War—I take this from the statement of the responsible authorities in the Lancashire cotton trade. the textile industry of Lancashire—Germany absorbed over 50,000,000 pounds of cotton yarn, of which 20,000,000 pounds were used in the manufacture of glove fabrics and other fabrics which were practically made upon the same machinery. Saxony had the world market. She exported to various parts of the world, not mainly to this country, 8,000,000 dozens of these gloves, for the whole of which Lancashire supplied the yarn. They did not all come here, and they are not coming here now; only comparatively a small proportion are coming here. How is the yarn paid for? That is a thing the House has to face. It is paid for on a sterling basis. The yarn which goes to the manufacturer to supply the raw material not only of the gloves which are consumed in this country, but of the gloves which are exported by Saxony to all the other markets of the world that yarn, which goes entirely from Lancashire, is paid for on a sterling basis by the sale of the fabric gloves which come here. That is the serious part of the case. Of course the right hon. Gentleman has tried to minimise it. But the Lancashire people know very well that if the fabric gloves, the completely manufactured article, imported from Germany, and made as to 20 per cent. at least of the raw material out of Lancashire yarn, are by the imposition of the 33⅓ per cent. import duty, excluded, or largely excluded, from our market, Saxony will not be able to pay, she cannot pay, for British yarn for the whole of this great industry. Of course, we have no monopoly in this country, although we have a primary position, for the spinning of yarn. We have formidable competitors all over Europe; Italy, France, and many other countries; and the inevitable result will be that instead of the raw material of this fabric, 20 per cent. of the whole, continuing to be exported from Lancashire, it must of necessity mean that it will be imported into Saxony from our competitors. Are the apprehensions of Lancashire ill-founded? It is a curious illustration of the operation of this Act that it takes such a long time to arrive at any conclusions in these matters. Take the different stages of the procedure in this particular case. The Act came into operation in 1070 October last. The Committee was appointed by the Board of Trade and took evidence in the month of December. It presented its Report in favour of this duty in January of the present year. In March the right hon. Gentleman, being a man of independent mind, not under the domination of any Committee, very properly seems to have undertaken an inquiry of his own, and I gather that he came substantially to the same conclusion as the Committee. Then we had the matter five months under consideration by the Cabinet. Nobody knows better than my right hon. Friend the cause of the delay. We were told that it was pressure of public business in other Departments. Everybody knew that, this was a pure pretext and that our governors were hopelessly divided on the matter. There were five months of delay after these two investigations and then, at last, in the month of June, the draft Order was published. Then Lord Derby intervened with the whole of Lancashire at his back.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I believe that I am right in saying that he had the whole of Lancashire at his back. We have here a statement circulated with the evidence given by Lancashire before the Committee. It is a most remarkable and, in my experience, unique demonstration of unanimity of employers and employed, weavers, spinners, manufacturers, merchants, agents. There is not a single organisation connected with our greatest textile industry in Lancashire which has not joined in Lord Derby's representation. Then there was further consideration, and there followed a most remarkable proceeding, showing the way in which we are governed in these matters. The Act of Parliament, as was pointed out when it was in Committee, though it allowed for the intervention and locus standi of objectors to the proposed Order, in the case of those whose business it was to use the imported commodity, as raw material in their own industry, allowed no such power of intervention to those in this country who exported the raw material, out of which the imported com- 1071 modity was manufactured. It is outside the Act. The Committee very properly said so. Therefore the Government remitted to the same Committee, without any statutory authority of any sort, the consideration of this vitally important matter, which they themselves deliberately left out of their own Act of Parliament. That induced further delay. At last now, at the end of July, we have got a second Report of this Committee which, not unnaturally, confirms its previous findings.
I want the House for a moment to consider what this sort of procedure really is. Ten months have been consumed in the investigation of this matter before it is finally brought to the decision of the House of Commons. For a comparatively small industry, that of those who manufacture fabric gloves, all these great industries concerned, not merely the wholesale merchants, the retail dealers, the exporters, and the importers, but the great and all-important cotton industry itself, have been in a state of uncertainty. They have been put off month after month by unnecessary delay and have been unable to make any forward arrangement on any real or durable basis. That is as great a condemnation as could be imagined of the absurdity and inefficiency of this mode of legislation. That is by way of parenthesis. How do we stand now? No answer whatever has been made to the case—I cannot regard the criticism in which the right hon. Gentleman has indulged as being anything in the nature of a satisfactory answer—taken by the whole of the Lancashire cotton industry, that you are protecting a small, artificially forced, form of production at the permanent expense of one of the greatest, best-founded, most progressive, and most fruitful of all our British industries.
It is a question of taking the opinion of this Committee, of which I say nothing—for I know little of its composition, but will assume it to have been composed of competent, well-selected men—upon a highly technical matter, involving the interests of the greatest of our textile industries, an opinion which they admit to have been a speculation, for they say so. They say, in the latest Report—All our conclusions must necessarily be of a highly speculative nature.1072 and that that opinion, with its infinite ramifications, developments, and reactions in all parts of our industry, is to be taken against the combined, unanimous, authoritative judgment of the industry concerned. I for one will advise the House not to accept that opinion. You cannot afford, in the present economic condition of the world, to expose our great industries to indefinite risks on the speculations of small Departmental Committees. Probability is the guide of life. I for one would prefer to take, at least, not to see over-ridden and set aside, the conjoint judgment of a great trade on its own industry rather than to place blind reliance in the plenary infallibility of a Committee appointed by the President of the Board of Trade.
This may be said to be, and in one sense it is, a comparatively small case, but if you once admit it you will find out that you are starting on an inclined slope which will lead you the whole distance to Protection. Protection, as all experience shows, once admitted grows with what it feeds on. The case in the fable is an example of that of which I am speaking. [HON. MEMBERS: "McKenna."] If you once instal a protective duty, which is carried out under the enormous strain of the War, not for the purposes of protection, and in the course of time it proves to have a protective character, a very much longer time and great deal more effort are inevitably required to send it to the oblivion which it deserves. I sincerely hope, having, as he knows, the greatest possible regard for my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, having watched with admiration, curiosity, interest, perhaps I may say with growing intellectual sympathy, the various phases of his action, that he will be content to rest upon this unambitious record, modest so far as it goes, of pernicious achievement, his claim to the title of Protector-General and Regenerator of British Industries. At any rate in this House, it seems to me, our duty is simple. No case whatever has been made out for any one of these petty, irritating, costly, obstructive, and, in the long run, disastrous interferences with the free course of trade, and I ask the House to reject this Order.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I have very seldom listened for a great number of years to a 1073 speech in this House with more interest, more pleasure, or more amusement than I felt in listening to the speech of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Asquith). He began by expressing sympathy with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Baldwin) as a good man—which he is—struggling with adversity, of which he is, I think, unconscious. For some time I have had similar feelings on the same ground for my right hon. Friend (Mr. Asquith). To-day, for the first time since the election of 1918, I have seen him with a case that had some wind behind it. For the first time, I confess, I did not grudge him the change of attitude. To what does all this amount? My right hon. Friend made it perfectly evident in his speech that he was longing to give full play again to the oratory about. Free Trade which I always read and sometimes tried to answer. It is no use doing that now. To some people the fiscal question is a religion; it is a question of faith and morals. Everyone knows that a change from one systematic creed to another—a conversion of that kind—is very rare. I do not expect it in the case of my right hon. Friend. When I was very young, a nurse once said to me, "If you worship a mulberry bush as a child, you will worship a mulberry bush until you die." What has this to do with Free Trade and Protection? I am not trying to hide my own conviction on the subject. I quite admit that the time may come when this will be a really live issue in the political life of this country. But how can my right hon. Friend pretend, as he did in the last part of his speech, that we are on the "slippery slope," and all the rest of it—how can he pretend that what we are discussing comes within that category? Let me remind him of something which he has for a moment forgotten.
In the stress of the War, there was an Economic Conference in Paris. During that conference resolutions were passed on a number of subjects. Some of them dealt with permanent conditions, and some of them with temporary conditions. Among those dealing with temporary conditions, a result of the War, was a resolution defended by my right hon. Friend in this House, and very ably defended, to the effect that we must, after the War, protect this country against dumping and other unfair competition. That was his 1074 position then. It is a little difficult to explain how the two positions can be reconciled. If the House has any doubt that there has been a complete change, I would remind it of only one thing. In that Debate on the Paris Resolutions, the very same arguments were used by some of my right hon. Friend's old associates, and notably by Sir John Simon, against the proposal of my right hon. Friend, as my right hon. Friend is using now against the proposal of the Government. He was prepared to say then that industries must be protected against unfair competition as well as dumping. Can anyone imagine a form of unfair competition more clear than can be used by means of the exchange?
The whole thing is very elementary, and the House will forgive me if I try to explain it. It does not depend at all on the fluctuation of the exchange, not in the least, though my right hon. Friend made much of that. It depends on one consideration. If the exchange value of the mark, or of the franc, keep at a higher level in Germany or France than the exchange value in this country, that means that the workmen there have received nominal wages compared with our workmen, infinitely lower than the real wages when they are translated into forms of exchange. Can any competition be more unfair? I do not suggest that the Germans deliberately lowered their exchange for the express purpose of creating that, competition. I have never thought so. I thought it was too suicidal a policy, because there is the risk of financial chaos. But the fact remains, if the value of the mark in Germany is much higher in buying commodities and paying wages than the corresponding value here, that creates a form of competition which is unfair, and with which, in certain circumstances, it is absolutely impossible to compete. I admit that this is a comparatively small matter. To-day, with Germany in the position in which she is, it is quite possible that from political causes, and from the disturbance of the country, she may not be in a position to compete with us in this unfair way. But that does not alter the fact that the exchange does give a method of competition which is utterly unfair to this country, and which, in the long inn, may ruin the industries of this country.
Let us look a little more closely at this question. I always imagined that I 1075 understood the arguments on this subject with which I did not agree. We were told by ray right hon. Friend that if we left things alone, they would come right. I quite admit that the very evil from which we are suffering is something that will procure a remedy, and that, sooner or later, the evil will right itself. That is evident. But what is going to happen to the trade of this country during the process? It is perfectly true that, owing to the tremendous inflation in Germany, which gives them a market for all that they can produce at home, and owing partly to political trouble, there has not been anything like a flooding of our market on account of the exchange. It may be coming; I do not know. Suppose that on account of the exchange the same thing had happened in regard to iron and steel which has happened in regard to the small matter of fabric gloves, there is not an iron industry town or constituency in this country which would not be overwhelming us with a demand that this unfair competition should be met. Is it any argument to say that, because this is so small a matter, and gives employment to only 10,000 people, it is to be disregarded? The unfair competition is there. My right hon. Friend seems to assume that an industry which has grown up under the stress of war must be an artificial industry, and that it would he a good thing to get rid of it. At all events, give an industry which grew up under the stress of war fair play, and if it be beaten, let it not be beaten by unfair competition.
I have said that this is a comparatively small matter. It has assumed importance because of the opposition of Lancashire. I was a party leader for some time, and I have party politics in my bones, more or less. I have that experience, and I got a lesson, by the way, in North-West Manchester. No man with that experience would ignore the feeling of Lancashire, justified or not. He would be bound to give it the most careful consideration before deciding whether or not there was anything in it. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Asquith) says that the Lancashire case has never been answered. I have tried very carefully to find out what is the Lancashire case. I shall try to put it before the House, as I think it is, and I shall then ask the House to judge of the grounds for the 1076 attack on this proposal. I was really rather surprised to find my right hon. Friend, with all his ability and experience, repeating worn-out cries. The Lancashire case begins with this: "Look at the size of the Lancashire, cotton trade." Does anyone doubt it? Is it any answer to the demand of the glove trade that it should be treated fairly to say that Lancashire trade is far bigger? You have surely to show, and not merely to say, that by what you propose Lancashire trade will be injured. Those are two very different propositions. What are the grounds upon which it is said that Lancashire trade is to be injured?
I would like hon. Members of the Labour party to follow the argument which I shall try to put before them. I am speaking without any heat, and with a desire to see the facts as they really are. Look at the possible danger to the Lancashire spinning trade arising from this cause! Leave out the psychological reasons. Just consider what the effect will be. If the Germans act in a way in which, from a pretty long experience, I have found that all business men act, they will buy where they can get the best quality at the cheapest price. There will be as much inducement to buy the cotton as ever there was. Therefore, the demand for cotton yarns for gloves will be diminished only to the extent to which cotton gloves cease to he used in this country. If they come in the same quantity from Germany, in spite of the duty, there will be no loss. If a corresponding quantity be made here, and made out of British yarn, there will he no loss. If you assume the worst, and the result is a diminished consumption all round, to that extent there will be less cotton used. First of all, consider the probability of that. I am arguing, not what I would like, but what I feel.
I am inclined to think that this will have very little effect in stopping the import of German gloves. Let me say why. Hon. Members speak as if there were free competition between the makers of these gloves. I am told that there is a fixed price on all the German gloves, from whatever place they come, and that there is no competition. How do they regulate their prices? They look simply at the price of the English competing gloves, and they sell theirs sufficiently low to get the market. If they find the market going in future, they will lower their prices.
1077 Suppose there be a diminution on account of the smaller quantity consumed. What is the extent of it? After all, we in this country have to think of the employment of the vast mass of people in this country. If half the gloves are consumed in this country, according to the Report of this Committee, the total number of operatives concerned in making the yarn for all these imported gloves is 550. I see in a statement to-day that this figure is wrong, and has to be doubled. Let us double it. That gives employment to 1,100 men and women. If you produce only half the number of gloves in this country, and sell them, that will give employment to 5,000, 6,000, 7,000, or 8,000 additional people. How are you going to lose by a transaction like that?
Now we come to the real argument, the only argument which is put forward by Lancashire in regard to this matter. They say there is going to be no change in our prices. The Germans have bought our yarns because it. paid them, and it will still pay them to do so, but they will be so annoyed by the abandonment of British good faith that, on account of that annoyance, they will buy worse yarn at a higher price elsewhere. That really is the argument, and let us consider how it is going to work. It is on account of British bad faith in putting on this 33⅓ per cent,. duty that the Germans are to buy elsewhere. Are hon. Members aware that Germany puts a duty of 25 per cent. on our yarns, but we do not talk on that account of German bad faith in that respect? We say they think it is good business. Are we really going to be in the position in dealing with Germany, or any country, that we are not to do what we think is good business for us, in case it will annoy the other country?
Let us look into the matter a little further. The Germans are going to buy somewhere else, on account of the abandonment of British good faith. Where can they buy? In the first examination before the Committee, we were told that France was the possible competitor. Afterwards Switzerland was mentioned, and now in the circular which has reached us to-day there are a number of them. We are told that, on account of this breach of faith, the Germans are going to cease buying from us, and are going to buy from the French, presumably, on 1078 account of French good faith. But what is the position? We put a 33⅓ per cent. duty on fabric gloves, but France puts a prohibitive duty, and not merely does that, but shuts out all German goods—that is to say, imposes a higher tariff on them than is imposed on goods from, other countries. So that in order to punish the British breach of faith, they are going to reward the French. Take the other countries. What about Switzerland? They have passed regulations excluding large categories of German goods, simply because they do not want their market ruined. Fabric gloves were excluded under that rule. They would be excluded again to-day if any of them were coming in. The Swiss do that, in order to protect their own markets. But my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley asks us to believe that, to punish our breach of good faith, which proposes a 33⅓ per cent. duty, the Germans will buy from France and from Switzerland—both of which countries prohibit their goods.
There is another consideration which I would like to put if I were dealing with people ready to consider arguments, and not bound to a particular faith. The fact that seems to be most obvious is that, next to the glove manufacturers, Lancashire cotton yarn spinners ought to rejoice in this and similar Orders; and I will tell the House why. We know that the whole history of German industry before the War—and in this the President of the Board of Trade will confirm ma in regard to iron and steel, and it is true in regard to every one of our industries—was that they began by making only the things for which there was an immense sale, and the things on which there was comparatively little labour and employment. In steel they first sent us billets. They afterwards sent us more finished articles, and in the case of woollen goods, the same thing happened. They bought our yarns up to a certain point, and then sent us the finished products. The Textile Committee, in which the cotton spinners were interested, and on which they were represented, reporting on the conditions which were likely to prevail after the War, stated that Germany had immensely increased her power of spinning fine counts; but, in spite of that, our market had not been diminished, because their weaving had increased more than in proportion to 1079 their spinning. But the same Committee —and, remember, this was a Committee on which the spinners were represented—said the effect of the War would be that the Germans would still more and more increase their fine spinning, in order to make themselves independent of the yarn of this country.
You are not going to stop that by refusing to put on a tariff of the kind proposed in this small duty on fabric gloves. Is it not obvious to anyone that, however small is this industry, if you can keep it at home, it is a certain market for ever for Lancashire yarn? If you trust to Germany, you trust to what will prove a broken reed in your hands. More than that, this small trade is a good illustration. There is no reason that I can see why this trade should not go on and flourish to the extent of being able to compete abroad, if it has fair play; and should it do so, then the one industry next to the glove makers, which will benefit by that growth, would be that of the cotton spinners, who would be certain for ever of a market for their yarn. If so, does my right hon. Friend still think he has received no answer? I cannot imagine any case with less to support it than the case which he put forward.
He advanced another argument which I had almost forgotten. It surprised me to hear it from the right hon. Gentleman. He says this is a case of "two and two making four." He did not say anything so vulgar as that, but that is what it meant. The Germans paid for the yarn by the sale of the cotton gloves, for which they got the exchange. My right hon. Friend pointed out, as a little preliminary, that they got yarn from us to the value of £3.750,000, and sold gloves to the value of less than £750,000. It is rather difficult to see how, out of a credit of £750,000, you can advance £3,750,000. That is a little difficult, as my right hon. Friend will agree with me, although he will not say so. Be knows perfectly well that, from the point of view of the exchange, whether it be fabric gloves or anything else, it is the same when they come to buy cotton. It is not as some people seem to imagine, a matter in which there are watertight compartments, and that the man sells the fabric gloves, and immediately buys the cotton. Nothing of the kind happens or can happen. The rate of exchange upon 1080 which he will buy his cotton must depend on the general rate of exchange with Germany at the time, and what is more, from the point of view of injuring Lancashire, the argument as regards the ability of the Germans to buy applies equally well, and with exactly the same force, if you keep out iron or glass or anything else. The effect of the exchange is precisely the same in any case.
Look at it a little further. The case is made that the Lancashire cotton spinner is being told by the Germans, "If you take away our credit, we shall not be able to buy from you." Nobody knows better than my right hon. Friend that that is absolute nonsense. The financial connections which Germany has with France, or with any other country, has depended since the War, and will depend as far as anyone can see ahead, not on the exchange between those countries taken by itself, but on its relation to the markets of New York and of London. The French exchange, or the German or the, Czecho-Slovakian or any other, varies immediately in accordance with the difference of the exchange here, and what follows? All this talk of being able to buy elsewhere, because of the difficulty in exchange, is ridiculous nonsense. There is precisely the same difficulty whether you are buying in France or in England, for the exchange applies generally to all.
I have said all f wish in support of my opinions on this matter. I do not regard this as a great measure of Protection. I think it is carrying out in a small way the pledge given by my right hon. Friend after the Paris Resolutions, to protect this country against unfair competition. It is that, and nothing else. Nobody attaches more value to the feeling in Lancashire than I do, and from old associations, I feel it all the more because Lancashire is naturally Conservative. But I do not believe that a thoroughly bad case, which has not an argument to support it, will remain permanently the opinion of Lancashire. I quite agree that if there were a General Election to-morrow—every constituency may sometimes be stampeded—it would be bad for our party. But let us wait for three months, or six months, and see whether any of these terrible calamities will have happened, and I think the matter would be made quite clear.
1081 My right hon. Friend and all his friends who, as I say, make a religion of their fiscal policy, are always talking of the "thin end of the wedge." They are always saying, "We must not have this, because it is on the slippery slope." If I had the robust faith of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Asquith) I would say to myself, "What can be better than to show by actual experience the evils of the Protectionist system? Let us encourage them to put it on fabric gloves and everything else, and in three years, or two years, you will see the evil of it, and the country will rise in revolt." Had I the robust. faith which my right hon. Friend displays in his speeches, that would be my attitude, but if I had the fear, which I am sure is at the bottom of his own mind, that "after all, it is not quite certain that we alone have been right, and all the rest of the world fools," I would then oppose this Order precisely as he is doing.
§ Mr. THOMAS SHAW
I am one of these who hold that the Lancashire case is a good one. We have been informed by the President of the Board of Trade that he never heard a weaker case, and the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last declared that the Lancashire case is a thoroughly bad one. Because I believe that case to be a good one, I may venture a few arguments as to why Lancashire ought to be considered and why this duty ought not to be imposed. I am not carried away by the arguments that people who believe in Free Trade should allow a policy of protection to go on for a few years in order that its evil effects might be demonstrated. Our trade in Lancashire has been suffering for two years, and it is cold comfort to say to a man who has not got sufficient food, "Let the thing go on for another couple of years. Do not say anything until we justify our political theory, and if you are starving in the meantime, it will not matter to you." Now is the time, in my opinion, to decide on the merits of the case, and whether the one school of thought be right or the other is not the important question. The important question is, Are people going to be thrown out of employment by this method of levying taxes, or are they going to have more employment in this country. I heard it said that 33⅓ per cent. on the 1082 value was a small tax. I wonder what would be considered a large tax. If one-third of the total value of a. manufactured article, with all the profits that go on to the tax before the consumer purchases the article, be a small tax, I would like somebody, out of the fullness of his knowledge—the right hon. Gentleman the Member far Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) in particular—to tell me what he would consider to he a fairly large tax.
We have had a slight disquisition on dumping. We used to have a definition of dumping that it consisted in unloading articles at less than cost of production on a foreign market, but now, apparently, clumping has been enlarged in its meaning, and anything that can come in at a less price than our people can manufacture at may be claimed to be dumping, if there happens to be in the country of origin an exchange rather worse than ours. I want to claim that the fabric glove trade in this country is in no worse condition relatively than it was before the War, that the position of the trade is not due to dumping in any sense or form, that relatively it stands as well as it did before the War, and that the whole question is a question of efficiency. In Lancashire there is an industry which is undoubtedly efficient, importing its raw material from the utmost ends of the earth, manufacturing it, and selling it to all the world, by efficiency and efficiency alone. In Saxony there is exactly the same state of things in regard to the manufacture of fabric gloves. It is a question purely of efficiency, as any man knows who has been and seen the trade at work, and before the War there was no question at all that Germany was doing in regard to these gloves what we are doing in Lancashire in the cotton trade. She was importing the most highly priced yarns on the market. manufacturing this fabric in a way that no other person could manufacture it., making up the gloves in a way far superior in style and finish to our own make, and by efficiency alone was dominating the market in that particular article. If we are quietly to accept the position that Great Britain, as a. great industrial nation, can live on doing its own washing, then let us take the Protectionist theory and swallow it, but Great Britain must exist on its capacity for manufacturing articles and selling them to the world, and on being able 1083 to import its raw materials and distribute the products broadcast. If we are to try to build up all kinds of industries that are not efficient at the expense of the efficient industries, then, in my opinion, there will be no need to argue 20 years hence as to what the result will have been. We might be an agricultural nation very largely, but certainly we are scarcely likely to be as wealthy a nation as we were when the Free Trade theory reached its highest application in this country. I want to speak, if I may with due respect, about some of the figures that have been used by the right hon. Member for Central Glasgow. Lancashire's case may be bad, but there is nothing worse than not understanding Lancashire's case. The right hon. Gentleman said that there were roughly about 550 spinners working at this yarn.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I did not say that. What I said was that Sir Henry Rew's Committee reported that figure.
§ Mr. SHAW
Then I have a case against the Committee, and I submit to the House that, if the Committee knew so little of the case presented to it, its Report ought not to be accepted. The number of 550 spinners, each with two "piecers" with him, and all the preparatory workers, with winders and reelers, means at least between 3,500 and 4,000 workers, even accepting the figure put down as the basis, so that, if the Committee knew no better than that, I think we are justified in asking the House to hesitate very much before accepting its Report. Is there no reason to assume that there will be a lack of demand for Lancashire yarn if this duty be put on fabric gloves? Why does the ordinary person buy fabric gloves? Does he buy them because they are preferable? Not at all. They are bought in the main because they are a cheaper article, and they are made to resemble kid as much as possible. That is the plain fact of the matter, known to everybody whose lack of means makes them purchase an imitation rather than the genuine article. Put a 33⅓ per cent. duty on the price, and on the top of that the profit, and you are getting a price at which you will lose the whole of the market. It will not then be a question of people here manufacturing gloves at all—they will not 1084 be required at that price. People will buy another article, and the Lancashire spinner will be out of work. That is, as I see it, the whole question. We in Lancashire, in the cotton spinning and manufacturing centres, employers and workers alike, ask for nothing more than fair play and straight treatment. Why should you put 33⅓ per cent. on our Lancashire yarns coming into this country, for that is what you are proposing to do? The German buys our yarn, makes it into gloves, sends it back, and we have to pay 33⅓ per cent. tax on the very yarn we have exported. Why? Is that the way to build up a home industry—by putting a tax on its products when it comes back slightly different in form?
It seems to me that Lancashire's case is unanswerable. Lancashire's case is this—Let efficiency count and let nothing else count. Do not try to bolster up inefficiency. We are told by members of the wholesale trade that German gloves entering this country have increased fully as much in price as ordinary articles have from pre-War days to now, that it is not a question at all of cheapness. It is a question of quality, and there can be no question at all about the fact that the exchange itself, as such, is not the dominating factor. One thing we are certain of, and that is that if German fabric gloves are sold in this country, Lancashire spinners are working, making the yarns. That is our great certainty, and there is no need to theorise about that, because that is the fact. What we are afraid of is that if these methods of dealing with our products are continued, instead of giving work for more and more people, instead of building up industries that stand on their own efficiency, you are going further to cripple one of the most efficient industries in the country, that has already suffered badly enough through the policy that has been pursued during the last few years. Here is a trade that has suffered as no other trade in the country has suffered, all through the War as well as now. During the War we were punished because we could not get our raw material. We did not trouble the Government. We worked away and solved our own problems, and now, at the end of it all, it is said, "We know you are efficient: we know there is a danger to your trade, but you do not know exactly what you are thinking of; 1085 your case is a very bad one; you do not know your own business; listen to us, and we will tell you; there is no need to fear." We do fear. We say that the facts are obvious, that, there is the gravest danger to our trade, and that instead of helping to create employment in this country, the probabilities are that there will be more unemployment, without any corresponding benefit to anybody.
I want to conclude on this note, that we ask for nothing except what we are prepared to give. We ask for no protection. We ask for no help, except what we are prepared to do for ourselves. We ask that other industries should do the same, and we challenge the statement that any efficient manufacturer of fabric in this country has a single machine stopped. Our information is definite and precise on that point, that where fabric is made efficiently and where gloves are made efficiently there is not a single workman or workwoman out of work in this country: and we contend with all the strength of our natures, whatever may be thought about our mentality or our capacity for thinking, whatever may be thought about our case, that it is wrong in principle and wrong in economics to do a thing that might hurt an efficient industry in order to bolster up one that has not taken the trouble to make itself efficient. I repeat—and I want contradiction of this statement if I can get it—that there is not a single machine, not a single operator engaged in the manufacture of gloves in this country efficiently, who is out of work. In fact, I am told that one firm that is the most efficient is not only working full time, but could work overtime if required. That is the state of affairs, and it is no use telling us that in the future things will not work out very well, and that we had better wait. We say that we have had enough of waiting and enough of unemployment, and we do not want any more. We feel certain that this duty will give us more unemployment, and consequently we are willing to vote against the Government until the Government realise that you cannot make an industry efficient except the people in it are willing to become efficient on their own account.
§ Mr. HANNON
One of the most extraordinary facts manifest in this House is the attitude of the Labour party towards 1086 questions of this character. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] You are a most admirable lot, but the manner in which you approach questions intimately affecting the welfare of those whom you profess to represent—to the exclusion of everybody else, be it observed—in this House is, to say the least of it, extraordinary. Every time any question arises here with a view to making more stable in this country the position of our wage-earning classes, for some inscrutable reason, the Labour party at once seems to sense danger and to make an attack upon it This fabric glove question is being fought in this House, really, not as an economic question, but as a political question. There is no getting away from that fact. Everybody has observed that for many months past the Order Paper, from day to-day, has been loaded with questions addressed to my right. hon. Friends the President of the Board of Trade and the Chancellor of the Exchequer on matters affecting the import of articles under Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, and every one of those questions has been directed to discrediting the Act, which is the first instalment this country has ever received of any measure of consideration on the part of the Legislature for the protection of industry since the repeal of the Corn Laws.
Let us look at the situation with regard to these fabric gloves. I think the House will agree that the body of gentlemen who examined this question and reported in January last, as well as the body of gentlemen who reported the other day, are both entitled to the fullest confidence of this House. Both Committees were composed of men of wide public experience, great knowledge of public affairs, and having intimate acquaintance with the economic position of this industry. What the Report of the Board of Trade Committee really amounts to is, that the export of cotton yarn to Germany for the manufacture of fabric gloves is comparatively small as against the total export of cotton yarn to Germany, and would, in fact, if not exported to Germany for that, purpose, be manufactured in this country, and give employment to our own people in the production of the same article. The case put up against the acceptance of this Order by this House is, first of all, that 1087 we ought not to make gloves in the United Kingdom, because the Germans are already making them. In plain words, the numerous documents that have reached Members of this House on this question plainly suggest that proposition. Why should these benevolent cotton magnates of Lancashire allow us to make fabric gloves in this country, so long as the good, kind, genial Germans are making them now? Indeed, it is characteristic of a good many hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway on this side of the House, when it is a question of deciding between the interests of their awn country and those of any other country, that they invariably come down on the side of the other. I venture to suggest that the House and country are getting positively tired of that sort of economic preoccupation.
The second point is this. The German glove-maker is an agent for Lancashire cotton, and, therefore, because we have an agent in that country we ought not to have works going full blast in this country. That is another curiously contorted conception in the minds of some of the Free Trade protagonists of this country of what our policy ought to be. Then they say that the import of fabric gloves into this country pays for the yarn sent abroad. The Prime Minister, in dealing with German reparation, emphatically said that the economic policy of this country should be so directed that that condition of things should be impossible, and that the reparation scheme should not be such that German manufactured goods could possibly displace those made in this country. My right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonny Law) pointed out the absurdity of the contention that if we put up a tariff against Germany, Germany would retaliate. But does anybody in this House think that if Germany had an opportunity of retaliating she would not do so? Because if Germany could put up spinning mills to-morrow to produce fine cotton of the quality of Lancashire cotton, she would do so at once. The measure of consideration which Germany would extend to our manufacturers and workers we can easily estimate, and that contention is, on the very face of it, absurd.
Another point which has been urged by the antagonists of the adoption of this Order, is this. It is said that the British 1088 glove-maker—indeed, it appeared in some document I received this morning—cannot supply the whole of this market, and, therefore, we ought not to be allowed to try to supply part of it. In these days of economic exigency, our whole effort should be to open every possible means in the home market for larger output. After all, the home market is by far the most, important. of the markets we supply. Hon. Members above the Gangway seem to think that the home market is a secondary consideration. When one reflects that the home market of this country is four-fifths of our entire market, it is easy to understand how important it is that we should do everything possible to secure as large a portion as possible of the home market for our own people. All these arguments are inspired by people who are much more concerned with the import of articles into this country than the enlargement of our home production. If one looks over the series of questions put down on the Order Paper of this House from time to time, and carefully follows the supplementary questions that are asked, one finds that always there is the little feeling of the importing class as against the manufacturing class—the desire to throw open this market of ours to everyone; the desire to sacrifice every consideration of our productive efficiency to price. In the past that cry of cheapness nearly brought this nation to the verge of ruin. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn), who is such a delightful acquisition to this House, has seen the humorous side of that assertion. But, in point of fact, before the War the economic policy, which v-a-; the particular delight of the hon. and gallant Gentleman and his friends, very nearly brought this country to the edge of disaster.
§ Mr. HANNON
Up to the date of the War. In this House debate after debate arose on the question of protecting British industries. On every such Debate there arose legions of the protagonists of Free Tirade who were against any proposal of this kind, with the result that we were brought to the verge of ruin. Before the last General Election, which hon. Members above the Gangway will not recollect with any particular favour, a letter was addressed be the Prime Minister to my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow, in which was this state- 1089 ment as the principle of understanding between the two sections of the Coalition:I am prepared to say that the key industries, on which the life of this nation depends, must be preserved. I am prepared to say, also, that, in order to keep up the present standard of production and develop it to the utmost extent possible, it is necessary that security should be given against the unfair competition to which our industries in the past have been subjected by the dumping of goods below the actual cost of production.That is for what we are fighting. We do not desire to admit into this country large quantities of goods of any character, of which the fabric glove is an example, which unfairly compete with our own products.
§ Mr. FILDES
I wish to say a few words as a Member of this House who voted in favour of the Safeguarding of Industries Bill. I am one of those who are definitely of opinion that if His Majesty's Government had neglected to provide some machinery to guard against any danger that might have arisen, or may arise, through the collapsed state of the exchanges, His Majesty's Government would indeed have been at fault. But I was very surprised to hear the President of the Board of Trade say that he could understand the consistency of any man who had voted against the Safeguarding of Industries Bill voting against the proposal this afternoon, but that he regarded a man as handed over body and soul to support this proposal if he voted for the Safeguarding of Industries Bill. I do not agree with that contention at all. There were two distinct items included in the Safeguarding of Industries Bill which influenced myself and, I know, others in supporting the Bill. The first item was that after the Committees had inquired into these matters, the Report should come to this House, and this House should then have the right to decide whether or not a particular item was a suitable object for taxation. That is a valuable right, and I repeat that, to my mind, it was the very base upon which many Members voted for the Safeguarding of Industries Bill. They did not part with the right to criticise and, if necessary, vote against any of the recommendations that were made by the Committee.
The second point is this. I represent a constituency that is interested in the 1090 cotton trade. But I do say it would be wrong of me to approach this question simply from the point of view of my constituents. I must take a broad view as to how it is going to affect the whole of the people of this country. The old-fashioned doctrine of the greatest good for the greatest number must prevail. What is the position? Considering that this is the first proposal brought forward under Part II of the Safeguarding a Industries Act, it is desirable that we should lay down certain broad principles which could guide the House on similar occasions in the future, and I respectfully submit that if we could take as a broad and binding rule that any article which is imported into this country—I do not care whether it is cotton or clocks or jargonelle pears—I do not care what it may be—if an article comes up to this standard, that the whole of the component parts of that article are manufactured in this country, that article shall be free from taxation. There are many things that could with advantage come under the purview of this Bill.
I do, however, suggest that after Genoa, where we had so many speeches intimating to us that the one thing necessary for the salvation of Europe and the regeneration of trade was to be the revivification of our trade and manufactures with Continental nations, that it comes as a shock to me that the very first thing we are doing in this Bill is to propose a duty of 33⅓ per cent upon an article that, from our point of view, is an admirable article, in that it is consumed entirely in the manufacture of another article in this country. The rate of exchange question is not one can laugh out of court. Let us recognise this. I would point out to my hon. Friends the fact—and it is a very illuminating fact —that the German working man to-day is living in a house that costs 4½d. per week rent. There are many cases where something may be said for the protection of our industries and the insistence on fair competition, but in the case we have had before us this afternoon I differ very respectfully from the distinguished Minister who put it. I think we have got a very strong case here, and I proceed to give my reasons for that view.
There is the question of efficiency. I do not know whether it appeals to every 1091 one in the same way, hut, in common with the rest of hon. Members, I have had a manifesto signed by every wholesale dealer in gloves in this country protesting against this duty. These firms include some of the best known names. Their patriotism is undoubted. Why is it that they are so emphatic and unanimous in this case in the protest against this particular taxation? I can tell hon. Members. One of the very largest firms in this country which deals in these gloves has a buyer who, like so many other people, lost a son in the War. He determined that under no circumstances would he ever buy German manufactured gloves again. He placed the whole of his orders with British manufacturers. What happened? It is said there are four efficient firms in the glove fabric industry in this country. These efficient firms could not deliver the orders that were placed with them. Goods that were ordered for delivery in March were delivered as late as October. The inefficient people, however, flooded my friend with a whole lot of unsaleable stuff. They made him heavy allowances, and at the expense of some thousands of pounds he got rid of his accumulated stock, and had to go to Germany to place his orders. When you have unanimous evidence of that description, confirmed in a very vivid way by the leader of the deputation who came to this House advocating this duty upon fabric gloves, how do we stand? When they had made their case, the Chairman invited questions. I myself put this simple and direct question to the leader of the deputation, who is also the head of the largest fabric glove manufacturing company in this country. I asked him: "Is it or is it not a fact that your firm has trebled its output in the last 12 months?" He replied that it was a fact. In view of the 'fact that this threatened taxation is creating the very greatest alarm in Lancashire, and we have the admission that the most efficient firm has trebled its output, one begins to wonder why this particular specimen of taxation is to be put forward so strongly now. I do not understand why it has been placed No. 1 in the programme of taxation under this Act. There are so many things that are Snot open to this one great, vital objec- 1092 tion, that the whole of the raw material comprised in these articles comes from this country.
There is just one other point I should like to mention. There is a question of fabric. I believe that has been overlooked. The whole fabric that comes into this country is not used for gloves. There is the suède for the tops of ladies' boots and shoes, and it is an extensive trade in this country. A vast proportion of that required by the boot trade comes from Germany and is used by the British boot manufacturer here. May I also draw attention to the fact that we do a very large trade with Germany? One group of mills in Germany send us 20,000 lbs. of yarn every week to be manufactured into the women's seeks, hose, and so forth. Very well, when you find you have a country like Germany prepared to trade with us to the tune of something like £4,000,000 a year it looks to me very paltry if we begin to dispute with the Germans and say we have taken £4,000,000 worth of your stuff; will you take £1,000,000 worth of our manufactures in return? Whilst I make no apology for having in the first place voted for the Safeguarding of Industries Act the Government would have failed if it had not made provision. After the Report of Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Commission I can see no other course for the Government to follow than to have brought in the Bill. They brought in the Bill. I voted for it. I contend there is a great duty involving on Members of this House to scrutinise most carefully, item by item, line by line, the various articles that are submitted to us as proposed to be taxed by this Act.
§ Major Sir HENRY NORMAN
I beg to move, after the word "August" ["line 20, leave out 'day of June,' and insert 8th day of August'"], to insertPage 2, leave out the lines 27 to 31 inclusive.It is seldom that a Member rising to speak on a contentious matter in this House is able to say with confidence and truth that he is speaking in the name of all of his constituents without distinction of party. In moving the Amendment standing in the name of myself and other hon. Friends we can certainly claim to be expressing the view of all classes in our constituencies, employers and employed, every working man and every working woman—expressing what is prac- 1093 tically the unanimous view of what, considering the magnitude of its industrial interests, is probably the greatest group of constituencies in the country.
The sentiment of Lancashire is as strong as it is unanimous. Friends of mine who have known Lancashire for half a century tell me that they have never known Lancashire feeling to be so profoundly aroused, and have never known so much uneasiness or indeed so much anger. There is good reason for that uneasiness. It is not the first time that the great industry of Lancashire has been threatened and injured by action in this House. The cotton industry was very hard hit by the Indian import duties, and it has only just escaped a still harder blow. Now, after the worst depression this industry has known for 60 years, the House is asked to pass legislation which is bound to inflict immediate injury; which may inflict a very grave injury; and which, in its essence and in its undoubted intention, strikes a blow at the fiscal principles which Lancashire regards as vital, not only to its own prosperity, but to the prosperity of the country. Moreover, it was actually proposed to take this action, which in any case intimately concerns Lancashire, without ever giving her a chance of making her case heard. The Committee, no doubt properly obeying their terms of reference, declared that the evidence of Lancashire would not be relevant, "even if it carried conviction." This last statement is an interesting side light on the methods of inquiry under the Safeguarding of Industries Act. If one industry, small though it may be, is found to be suffering from foreign competition, it is to be protected, no matter what injury may be inflicted upon another industry however great! That is how protective duties are to be imposed in this country. The attitude of Lancashire—though I have no doubt Lancashire will be very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) for informing the leaders of the Lancashire cotton trade how they can best conduct their business to their own advantage—the attitude of Lancashire towards this House in these matters is undoubtedly, "Hands off cotton!"
A Committee was appointed, which was the same Committee as the first one, and on its Report the Government is asking the House to take this action to 1094 impose a 33⅓ per cent. duty on fabric gloves and glove fabric imported from Germany. It is, therefore, this Report to which our attention must be specially directed. I venture to say at once that, in my opinion, a more inconsequent, a more hesitating, and a more inconclusive argument could hardly be presented as a serious basis for a great change of fiscal policy. How anybody can read that Report, and still vote for a duty upon fabric gloves, I, personally, am unable to understand. I shall give one or two instances, if I may, in support of this view.
The Lancashire cotton spinners are, after all—at least they ought to be—the best judges, and they claim that their export trade in fine yarns with Germany will probably be largely lost if this duty be imposed. For this they give two reasons. The first is that hostile action on our part will provoke retaliation. Hostile action of this kind always does provoke retaliation. That is part of the history of every fiscal controversy. I have a daily experience of business, and it is absurd to say that there is no such thing as prejudice or sentiment in business. These people abroad will say, "You are going to tax us on the very stuff we buy from you? Very well, we shall have to see what can be done elsewhere." That is something more than business—it is human nature. The second Lancashire reason is that at the present time Germany spends all the pounds sterling she gets in England by the sale of her gloves in the purchase of Lancashire yarn towards the supply of her needs for the whole of her world trade in gloves. If she does not get that yarn, those who know most about this business tell us that it is possible that she will be able to buy her yarn with her own depreciated money much cheaper elsewhere. There are already manufacturers in six countries well equipped for competition with us, and there are, in fact, already sellers in the German market. It can hardly be doubted that not only the 20 per cent. of the yarn that comes back to us, but the 80 per cent. used in Germany's glove trade elsewhere, will be greatly imperilled by these proposals. These considerations were before the Committee, and their conclusion was as follows:It appears improbable that existing trade connections would be disturbed merely in consequence of the adoption by this country of a temporary order.1095 But that is only the opinion of the Committee stated on page 9 of their Report. On page 6 they give quite a different opinion. Before that Committee a Lancashire representative had given instances of how on two occasions political controversies had resulted in a serious and permanent loss of trade, and the Report says:We accept them as evidence that buyers of goods from this country may, under certain conditions, be stimulated by some political action—such as the imposition of a duty—to take measures to manufacture the goods in their own country, or to obtain the goods from other sources.That is their opinion on page 6, but it is different from their opinion on page 9, and you may take which you like. It is only on the careful adjustment of the balance between possibility and improbability that the case rests. One word more upon this question of purchases in sterling, and it is a point on which, to my mind, insufficient emphasis has yet been laid. The case rests upon the depreciated exchange, which is supposed to enable Germany to undersell us in a ruinous fashion. I may say that this was not included in the original Coalition manifesto. This Committee appears to have overlooked the clearly obvious fact that a very bad rate of exchange puts a premium on exports from the country where the bad rate exists only when the raw material has to be purchased at that rate of exchange in the country itself. In the case of sterling bought directly or indirectly with the depreciated currency, the ability to undersell disappears entirely, except as regards labour. The Committee ignored that fact—it is doubtless one of the "preconceptions founded on economic theory" which they said they dismissed from their minds.
I respectfully suggest that it is a peculiar way to solve a technical problem to begin by dismissing from your mind conceptions founded on theory. The facts bear out this economic truism. The German exchange was 800 marks to the pound in March and at the end of June it was 1,600. If the Board of Trade Order is sound, then Saxony gloves should have fallen in price at the end of June. On the contrary, they advanced 20 per cent. As I have just stated, the exchange value then was 1,600 marks to the pound, but to-day at the end of July it is something like 2,500 to 2,800 marks to the pound. This morning I telephoned to 1096 one of the leading distributing houses in this country and I asked them what had been the price in England of German fabric gloves during the last month, whether the prices had gone up or down, and if so by how much either way. They consulted their manager's department, and let it be remembered this is the period during which the exchange has got to its very worst. They replied to me that German fabric gloves in July had risen in price 10, 15 and 20 per cent. according to the value of the gloves. I think that statement knocks the bottom out of this Order.
It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that what has been stated is not the real reason for the action of the Government. We are told to-day that the foreign exchange is 2,500 marks to the pound, and to counteract an exchange of that kind by a 33⅓ per cent. duty is childish, so you must therefore look for the real reason for this proposal elsewhere. There is a hand in the fabric glove, and that hand looks uncommonly like the hand of my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. G. Terrell). It will further have been noticed in the course of this Debate that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law), who speaks with such great ability and outstanding authority upon these questions, defended the action of the Board of Trade by arguments of the purest Protection in fact he went the whole hog with his Tariff Reform arguments this afternoon. The fact really is that Saxony has a very highly specialised industry in making fabric gloves. All the great distributing houses gave evidence that the German gloves are far superior to the English gloves, and yet the Committee disregarded their evidence and declared English gloves equal to those of any foreign competitor. It follows from this that the witnesses, according to the Committee, either did not know their own business or else that their evidence was untrustworthy, and yet British gloves according to the Committee are only enabled to be sold in Australia because there is an embargo upon German goods there. I believe, however, that this embargo comes off to-morrow, and to restrict the German sales here obviously would be to drive the trade to Australia and elsewhere.
It is Germany's specialisation and efficiency, and not the depreciated exchange, that is the basis of German com- 1097 petition in cotton gloves, just as we, on the other hand, can defy all competitors in leather gloves.
But in discussing the individual article of fabric gloves we must surely take a broader view than that. If Germany is ever to pay any reparations, if she is ever to return to peaceful and profitable industry—and we ourselves can have no peace or prosperity until she does that—she must sell something abroad and she can only sell those articles which she is specially efficient in making, like fabric gloves. To say to Germany, "We will only let you sell here what you cannot sell in competition with our own manufacturers," is, after all, the logic of the Protectionist. It is the canonisation of inefficiency, and it is precisely what the President of the Board of Trade so eloquently depreciated recently, namely, "impeding that very movement of trade which is essential to get the world trade moving as it moved before the War, and which we must have moving again before we can have health at home." And further, it is just what the Cannes Conference and the Brussels Economic Conference strongly urged the nations not to do.
Does anybody believe for a moment that the Safeguarding of industries Act will be renewed two years hence except for a few genuine key industries? Then why proceed further now to add, by this most Prejudicial and indefensible tax, to the offences of this Act which have already condemned it to death?
In conclusion, I return to the Report of the Committee. To appreciate the worthlessness of the case upon which Parliament is asked to take such a grave step, one has only to look at the conclusions of the Committee. What are their conclusions Their first conclusion is that they do not know what the result will be. I have the Report here, and naturally I do not wish to weary the House with quotations, but if I am challenged I shall be delighted to prove my statement by quoting the Report. Lancashire knows, however, what the result will be. The second conclusion of the Committee is that the result may be to increase the price of gloves and therefore to diminish the quantity sold, which, presumably, nobody wants. Their third conclusion is that it may have no result at all. Their fourth conclusion is that this proposal is only for such a 1098 brief period that there probably will not be time for any harm to be done, and if any harm is done the Order can be revoked. I have used strong words about this Report, but I hope not too strong and they are net half as strong as I feel on this subject. Let me justify them by giving one more quotation. The Committee say:The imposition of a duty should have the result of reducing the importation of fabric gloves from Germany without reducing the effective demand for gloves.That is, raising the price of gloves, which is, of course, the object of Protection, would not reduce the demand Why, even a child in economics knows better than that.
Such is the hesitating, the timid, the ill-thought-out, ill-informed case on which the House is asked to protect a trifling industry at the expense of a great industry; to protect an inefficient industry at the expense of the most efficient industry in the world; to tinker with the greatest export trade of the Kingdom, only just recovering from its deepest depression of half a century; to take the first step, skilfully camouflaged, towards Protection. During the War, economic forces could be overcome or dodged—at a price, but now we are no longer either willing or able to pay the price, and economic forces can only be disregarded at our peril. If we disregard them to-day by imposing this tax, we may well, in the expressive words of the Japanese proverb, "Mend the horn, but kill the ox."
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to move to leave out fabric gloves and glove fabrics as well? If so, the Amendment will read, "after the word 'August' ["line 20, leave out 'day of June,' and insert '8th day of August'"], to insert, "Page 2, leave out line 27 to 31 inclusive." The Question will be, "That those words be there inserted."
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I am scarcely able to follow what has taken place. Do I understand that, so to speak, the two issues are now telescoped, and that fabric gloves and glove fabrics are dealt with? We want to test the opinion of the House on both issues. It is quit clear the discussion will run upon both subjects, and that it would be quite improper to have a second discussion on the second issue. We desire, however, to have a decision of the House on both these subjects.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I could not see my way to select a second Amendment on the subject, and therefore I thought the better plan was in this way to cover both issues. The right hon. Gentleman has moved his Amendment to cover both fabric gloves and glove fabric.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I entirely agree that a repetition of the discussion would be a waste of time, and I would submit that in accord with what I think would be justice to the Opposition they should be entitled to take the view of the House by a second Division on the second article. Could you not permit that in your discretion?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not think so. I do not think I am taking anything away from the House. If the argument on these two matters were limited to the Amendment on fabric gloves only, I might have to pull hon. Members up when they were talking about glove fabric and not fabric gloves. Therefore, I think it is for the convenience of the House that I should put the two subjects together.
§ Captain W. BENN
If I may say so with respect, I entirely understand what you mean, but could not a general discussion take place on both topics? There are separate Orders proposed to the House, one regarding glove fabric and the other in respect of fabric gloves. It may be that some hon. Gentlemen intend to vote for the one form of taxation but not for the other. These, it must be remembered, are taxes. Therefore, while all the discussion might follow the rule you have laid down, it is extremely desirable that in imposing this tax hon. Members should have an opportunity of expressing their view separately upon them in the Division Lobby.
§ Sir RYLAND ADKINS
I have listened with great interest to the Debate so far as it has proceeded, and I can quite understand there is great anxiety among hon. Members, and in the country as well, as to the decision which will be arrived at. Any Member of the House who is so fortunate as to speak will, I hope, try, as I will, not to take up the time of the 1100 House in dealing with more than one or two aspects of this matter. In the remarkable speeches we have heard this afternoon certain things seem to have been elicited on which there is general agreement. It has come out from speakers on all sides that from one point of view these proposals, even the one to which the Amendment of my right hon. Friend refers, may be described as small. But it is perfectly obvious, from the character of these speeches to which the House has listened, that everyone in the House is aware of the very great issues which are involved in these proposals of which the gravest is the one to which this Amendment refers.
Like other Members, I would very much like to know how it comes about that these proposals to put on a duty with regard to fabric gloves and glove fabrics appear in the forefront of the first Order made under Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act. As has been said before, there are so many articles as to which persons interested may like to make a complaint, that one would like to know what was the impelling force which led the Government, under the influence of some evil star, to select this particular matter as the subject of the first part of the Order. My right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Sir H. Norman) has suggested that the hand of the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Terrell) is in the glove. I think the hon. Gentleman's hand goes into many places. It will not be content to remain in fabric gloves. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!"] I certainly am unable to withdraw my testimony to the political dexterity of the hon. Gentleman. I will point out to the House in a moment that while it is no doubt true, and I say it with the greatest respect, that the hon. Member for Chippenham has had something to say which led the Government to include these articles in this Order, it is due to his steady persistent and most sincere agitation on behalf of Protection, naked and unashamed, that this proposal is there. It is unlike other proposals in the Order. It is probably different in its effect, for it deals with foreign goods which themselves are made of English manufactured yarn.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn said he was speaking to-day for the whole of his constituents. If he 1101 was speaking for people of all parties, for persons employed in all branches of the cotton trade, for the general community which he represents, it is equally true I am doing the same thing in supporting this Amendment. It is no light matter to bring before Parliament any proposal which secures against it from an important part of the country anything like unanimity of hate. Those of us who have known Lancashire for many years know there never has been any case on which there has been such identity of feeling and of the spirit of resistance as there is at this moment to this proposal in regard to fabric gloves. I mention this at the outset of my remarks, because, in my judgment, and I hope in the judgment of many hon. Members, that is a matter which my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade should have taken into account when he exercised his discretion—or indiscretion, whichever it was, in bringing this before the House. The procedure in this Bill, detailed and elaborate, lending itself to delay, at any rate, must come sooner or later to the point when the President of the Board of Trade has to decide. Ho has expressed sympathy for Lancashire. I noticed a proper tone of regret in the course of his most interesting speech, but he has not shown the slightest sign either that he attaches due weight to the Lancashire side, or that be has considered the unanimous feeling coming from Lancashire when cast in the balance of the demands from a certain number, though not all, of the manufacturers of gloves in this country at the present time.
Those who are opposing the right hon. Gentleman's proposal and supporting the Amendment are doing so, in the first place, because, in addition to all the arguments drawn from theory, or principle, or the, general application of the case, in this case the feeling and the judgment and the knowledge of the most important part of this country are flouted and disregarded, as are the opinions of men of the most profound experience who approach this problem from a different point of view. Men whose familiarity with the trade is of a differing and varied kind, are all alike agreed in the conviction that to put this on the Statute Book would injure that great trade in two ways, directly by fettering one branch of its industry, and indirectly by abandoning that security which the trade has 1102 worked under for many years, the security of knowing that nothing will be done by Parliament itself to interfere with what is natural and vital to the development of the trade. I find it difficult to realise, and it may be there are other Members of this House who find it difficult also to realise, what a remarkable, extraordinary position is held by the East Lancashire cotton trade. There is no parallel to it, as far as I am aware, in these islands. There are few parallels to: it in the history of commerce. You have a district naturally not rich, either in soil or sunshine. You have a country of rain-swept foothills, and a plain here hungry with clay, and there thirsty with sand where for centuries a sparse population have found it difficult to live. It was a district of scattered farms and lonely manors. The inhabitants did their duty in public life from time to time, knit by means of their being very few counted but little in the national life. Then the cotton trade was developed. Instead of a sparsely populated district there arose a community of the highest importance, with a vast population, and of the most liberally-developed forms of industry and commerce: a community which has given its full share—and even more than its full share—of people who have served the State in a thousand ways. It is a community which has carried the problem of industrial reconstruction and the relations 'of employer and employed to a further point and with greater harmony of action than elsewhere. That has depended on a very special and peculiar trade. It has depended on a trade which, unlike most of those in this country, does not get any part of its raw material from the neighbourhood around. It is not like iron, which draws its raw material, it may be, from quite close to where its manufacture is carried on. The cotton trade draws its material from across the seas and, by the very nature of that which it manufactures, and the very natural and inevitable economic conditions, exports fill a larger part of it than in almost any industry to which we can point. These are strengths in certain directions, but they have this additional risk attached to them, that a great industry which has brought about so great and highly organised a population, if it is dependent for its raw material on 1103 other countries and, to a large degree, for its markets on other countries, must be subject to influences, sometimes good and sometimes bad, far beyond the control of those engaged in the industry itself. In those circumstances it is more vital in regard to this than to any other industry that Parliament should, at any rate, put no fetters upon it, nor interfere with it, nor do anything with regard to persons in other countries which might have a reaction and a repercussion injurious to the trade and to those engaged in it.
Here is a proposal, selected by some odd perversion of judgment from some hundreds of articles which might be fixed upon, which, if it is not intended, is at any rate, adapted to take some action in regard to Lancashire's customers and to those who look to her, not only for the yarn but for many allied products. Therefore we who represent Lancashire say that nothing but the most overwhelming need of the country as a whole could justify us in supporting such a proposal or prevent us from doing everything which lies within our influence and power to resist it. Reference has been made, and will be made, to the economic convictions of different kinds held by hon. Members in this House. The right hon. Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) adorned his speech with certain forms of scorn and jest, which have been repeated in this House by him and other hon. Members for many years, when criticising the speech of the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), and in referring to his economic convictions, which he said were almost a religion with him. I should have thought they were the most energetic form of religion with the right hon. Member for Central Glasgow, who has been the very Mahommed of this new form of belief for many years. While it is true that those convictions of general economies are given forth in this discussion, and are present in the minds of everyone, yet, because they are there, there is no reason why this specific folly should be committed by this House—through the Government with the consent of the House. Among the other services which the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. G. Terrell) renders to the House, is to make the most transparent revelation, not only of his thoughts, but of his feelings. He 1104 is one of the authors of a little pamphlet called "The Safeguarding of Industries Act," in the second part of which he deals with the case of fabric gloves. We are told by all leaders of political, religious and social thought that if we are to meet the wants of the country we must try to co-operate and agree with each other, and the words of the President of the Board of Trade—spoken in a happier mood than that of this afternoon—are still remembered by many of us. But take up the pamphlet to which the hon. Member for Chippenham has devoted his mature intelligence and his settled emotions, and we find that the second part of it is prefaced—the hon. Member having raked through English literature for the purpose—with the very quatrain which is the most insulting to England and Lancashire, [HON. MEMBERS: "Read!"] No, it is not for me to deprive the House of the opportunity of hearing it, as no doubt we shall, in a few minutes. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read!"]Though niggard throats of Manchester may bawl,What England wants shall her true sons forget?We are not cotton spinners all,But some love England and her honour yet.So the hon. Member for Chippenham, his attractive features shining with self-righteousness, says he loves his country, yet we, who believe in the maintenance of a great industry on lines not of favouritism but of fair play, and that is would be of value not only to that industry and to the area in which it exists but to our country as a whole, are to have applied to us these words which indicate a temporary aberration on the part of a great poet.
No, this matter is one of argument, and the arguments of the right. hon. Member for Blackburn (Sir H. Norman)—which, if I may say so, were detailed and most closely woven—were arguments to which we should like to hear a reply, if one is possible. We who support this Amendment adopt those arguments and endorse them each in his own way. It happens not very often in this House, but occasionally you have matters like this, which are questions of argument, and of serious and cool reasoning, and which yet reveal deep and warm feeling. At the same time, they do affect very much the actual prosperity of large masses of the people and, what 1105 is of still more consequence, they impair their confidence in the Government in economic matters and continue—what has occurred now for several months in reference to this—the feeling of insecurity on all sides, which is the worst thing for trade and commerce, and which we who support this Amendment are doing our best to meet.
§ Major ENTWISTLE
I desire to say a few words in opposition to the Resolution of the Government. I have had some personal experience in the cotton trade, and I have also taken a great deal of interest in this particular case. So far from it being correct, as the Government say, that the Lancashire cotton spinners have made out a bad case against the imposition of this duty, I think their case is an overwhelming one, looked at coolly and impartially. We have heard it said that it will make very little difference to the Lancashire cotton trade, one way or the other: that, after all, it is only a question of about 787,000 dozen pairs of gloves, affecting only the employment of 400 or 500 people. It is said that it is a very small matter, and not likely even to affect that amount of employment, because as the. Committee says, the effect of the duty will probably not be to keep out the gloves. It is an absurd thing to suppose you can measure the effects of a duty like this on a great industry by taking merely the amount of yarn which is contained in the particular gloves which are imported from Germany. We know that the effect of this kind of duty is far greater, proportionately, than the amount of the particular goods involved. It may have all sorts of indirect effects. Everyone knows that the Lancashire cotton trade is going through a period of acute depression. Enormous losses have been made, and where mills at present are making any profits at all their margins are of the barest. The world demand is much smaller than it was, and it is very difficult for any mill to have enough output to cover its overhead charges.
That being so, it is obvious, if you even slightly interfere with the output of these mills, you may make all the difference between profits and losses. The mills have gone through a very had time; they are overdrawn to the extreme limit. If you put some further burden on them it may make all the difference between solvency and bankruptcy, and the result may be one which will have far-reaching 1106 effects in the Lancashire industry. Therefore it is absurd to try and measure this question by the mere weight in pounds in yarn which either goes to Germany or comes back in the form of fabric gloves. That argument is used in regard to all these applications under the Act. I remember, with regard to wire nails, when the application was made before the Committee, it was said that it could have no effect on any other industry, because wire nails bore such a small proportion to the cost of any other article in which they were used. The box-making industry was quoted, and when asked if it would affect employment. in that industry, of course the box-maker had to say that wire nails cost only a few pence and that it was impossible to say it would have much effect. Imagine, however, a manufactured article composed of a. hundred ingredients. You could not say that the imposition of a duty on any one of those ingredients would affect materially the cost of the manufactured article as a whole; but when you get an accumulation of these obstacles—pinpricks, as they are called—it may have a very serious effect on industry.
This Act, in its operation, is perfectly diabolical, because it is framed in such a way that the Coalition Liberals are persuaded to believe it is not a very serious Measure and the Conservatives think that., even though it does not give them all they want, at any rate it is the thin edge of the wedge, and the foundation on which a more permanent and beautiful structure can be built up. It is thought, by introducing these duties in small quantities, so that every single material comes up as a separate independent question before its Committee, that the general effect of the Act can be camouflaged and hidden from the view of the public. This is death by torture, death by pinpricks; and it is no excuse to say that the Act does not kill British trade immediately, but will strangle it during a long drawn-out process of years. That is what the effect will be. We are told that this duty on imported gloves will have very little effect on the Lancashire cotton trade. We are told that, if the spinners cannot sell their yarn to the Germans for these particular gloves, they will be able to sell it to the British manufacturer, who will make the gloves in place of the German. It is a fact, however, that the value of 1107 the yarn represented in the gloves in their manufactured state is only 20 per cent., so that, when the German glove is sold in this country, it produces in value five times the cost of the yarn in that glove. Therefore, it is obvious that the sterling which the German gets by selling his gloves enables him to purchase five times as much yarn as there is in those gloves.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) said that that did not mean that the Germans would not purchase the yarn which they required for the gloves which they exported to other parts of the world. He used the argument that the total value of the yarn exported to Germany was £3,250,000, whereas the total value of the gloves imported into this country from Germany was only £750,000. His argument was, how could £750,000 pay for £3,250,000? The question still remains, however, that, if they get £750,000 less for products which at present they are selling in this country, they may easily be unable to purchase the amount of yarn represented by the £750,000, because we know that Germany, as her exchange depreciates, finds still more difficulty in carrying on her trade. Where is she to get, for the purpose of purchasing this yarn, the sterling which she loses by not being able to send these goods to this country? Can anyone tell us from what source she will get it? What goods is she going to export to this country in place of the German gloves which it is desired to keep out under the imposition of this duty? Where are those goods to come from? If we do not get any goods in exchange, how is she going to pay for this yarn, which, as I have said, is five times as much as is actually contained in the gloves which the Germans sell in this country? Where is the answer to that question? And the astounding thing is—for it is, indeed, in my opinion, astounding—that, although this argument was put before the Committee when they first met, although it was put before them by the importers of gloves and by the merchants, and was put before them by the Lancashire cotton spinners at their second meeting, they have not even done justice to the opponents of the duty by mentioning it in their Report. They assume that the only 1108 question before the Committee and before the country is the amount of yarn that is contained in the gloves themselves. They do not deal at all with the effect it will have on five times the quantity of yarn that is in these gloves.
This argument was put very strongly and forcibly before them. How is it that they do not deal with it? When the yarn in these gloves is multiplied by five, it comes to an appreciable quantity. During the first five months of this year, the number of gloves imported from Germany into this country was 787,000 dozen. It is said that a dozen pairs of gloves contain between ½ lb. and ¾ lb. of yarn. We see, therefore, that the yarn in the gloves imported is roughly about 1,000,000 lbs. in weight, and five times that is 5,000,000 lbs. per annum. I submit that if the imposition of this duty prevents the gloves from coming in, Lancashire will, without any question, be deprived of exports to the extent of 5,000,000 lbs. weight of fine yarns. Is there any Lancashire Member who will get up in this House and say that that does not matter to Lancashire? Why, the whole of the exports of Lancashire yarn to Germany were only 50,000,000 lbs. weight before the War. Last year they were only about 4 per cent. of that amount. They are now rising, and are now, I think, judging by the few months of this year, nearly half of what we were exporting to Germany pre-War. This 5,000,000 lbs. weight of yarn represents a very considerable proportion of the yarn which is being exported from Lancashire to Germany. Therefore, I say that it is a very serious matter indeed, and that point, which is one of the strongest points which can be made in favour of the Lancashire case, the Committee have not even dealt with. Not in a single portion of either of their two Reports have they dealt with this argument. The first endeavour that has been made to deal with it has been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow, and I submit to the House that his answer was not adequate. There are further considerations. Even supposing that this duty will keep out the gloves, it does not follow at all that the British manufacturer will get the trade. We are dealing here with an article which is not an essential. Fabric gloves are not an essential. Let hon. Members ask their wives or female relatives, and they will 1109 be told that some of them would not be seen wearing a fabric glove.
§ Major ENTWISTLE
No. I have been asking quite recently. The only advantage which these fabric gloves have is their cheapness. There are various other forms of gloves, for example, kid gloves and wash leather gloves, and the chief, or perhaps the only, merit of the fabric glove is its cheapness. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I think that if a plebescite of ladies were taken on this question, there would be no doubt at all as to what their answer would be. The fabric glove, at any rate, is not supposed to be quite so aristocratic as the kid glove or the leather glove, and I think these considerations come into play. The prices of the kid glove and the fabric glove are not really so very divergent at the present time. I have an advertisement here in which kid gloves are quoted at 48s. 9d. a dozen, and fabric gloves at 34s. 9d. If you acid the 33⅓ per cent. duty, and the profit which always goes with the duty, and the expenses involved in the administration of the duty, you will have the fabric glove coming to a higher price than the kid glove; and the only result of that, of course, is that fabric gloves will not be worn. When, on the other hand, it is said that Lancashire would sell the whole of the yarn which is represented by the value of these gloves, you have to remember that the German glove trade is also subject to the possibility of being lost by the effect which any of these duties will have on the price of fabric gloves, and I say quite confidently that the effect of this duty will be an increase in the price of these gloves.
That will not bring any trade to the British manufacturer, because at the present moment the English customer will pay more for a German glove than for an English one. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] It is so. Any amount of evidence was given before the Committee to that effect. The reason is that the German gloves are of much better quality. They are of a better shape, and are better finished, and the German glove is preferred, even though its price is higher. If you are going to add to the price of the German glove, all that you will do is to diminish the demand—that is to say, you will increase the price of German 1110 gloves sold in this country without causing one more glove to be made by the British manufacturer. The net result will be that no one will be done any good, and the Lancashire cotton trade will be done some harm, because it will lose some of the business which the Germans are enabled to give to it by reason of the sale of their gloves in this country. The Committee themselves say, in their last Report, that the effect of this duty will not be to keep out the German gloves. They think the German manufacturer will pay the duty. If that be so, why are we going to pass this Resolution? What is the good of it? It is not going to do the British manufacturer any good; it is not going to produce any revenue worth speaking about; and it is going to do harm to a great industry which at present is struggling for its life, namely, the Lancashire cotton industry. I cannot imagine a more insensate folly than is involved in such procedure as that. It is said: "Oh, the Lancashire cotton trade manufactures such wonderfully fine yarn, which no other country in the world can make, that there is no danger of competition." But France—I am taking these figures from the Committee's Report, which has just been placed in our hands—France this year is exporting yarn to Germany at the rate of 28,000,000 lbs. weight per annum, and Switzerland is exporting yarn at the rate of 10,000,000 lbs. weight per annum. That total of 38,000,000 lbs. is as much as the whole of our exports of yarn to Germany, and quite a proportion of the yarn which France and Switzerland are exporting is fine yarn.
It is said that psychological causes will not enter into the matter; why should Germany buy yarns from France any more than from us, when France herself prohibits gloves from coming in? But France has a depreciated exchange compared with ours, and I think that French labour is cheaper than ours. Is there not every reason to expect that the French yarn would be preferred to our yarn if these obstacles are put in the way of trade between Lancashire and Germany? I think there is no question about it. There is ample material there to supply all the needs of the German glove industry, without their having any recourse to Lancashire at all. France is exporting to Germany three times as much, and Switzerland is also exporting three times 1111 as much, as before the War, while we are not exporting half as much as we did before the War. In face of those facts, serious as they are, and pregnant with serious results to the Lancashire cotton industry, are we light-heartedly going to impose further obstacles in the way of that industry and do it further injury? And what is the excuse for it? The Lancashire cotton industry is admittedly having a. very stern struggle for existence. It depends on its foreign trade. Its markets have diminished to a great extent. Germany took 25 per cent. of its manufactures before the War, but I think last year was only taking from 4 to In per cent. That is a very serious loss of trade. Then we come to India. There is a great falling off of the demand there, owing to the fall in the value of the rupee, and owing to the great increase in spinning which is taking place in India. Millions of spindles are being erected in India at a very rapid rate, and that is going to be a great factor—
§ Major ENTWISTLE
My hon. Friend stands alone among Lancashire Members, and I shall be interested to see the result when he next woos the votes of the Stockport electorate. On that point he has not even managed to convince his colleague in his own constituency, although they both came here on a joint coupon. There are several great competitors which Lancashire has to face. The United States are building mills very quickly, and are also importing Egyptian cotton for fine yarns, while their climatic conditions, which were supposed at one time to be a great handicap, are being overcome. China is seething with political troubles. Its great markets for the Lancashire cotton trade are at present almost at a standstill, and now we are going to try to cut off another market from Lancashire. The thing is so suicidal as to be past even belief. The Lancashire cotton trade, it is said, has natural advantages. It has certain natural advantages, and, in addition, it is the most magnificently organised industry in this country. It has a splendid system of payment by results. It has splendid relations between employer and employed. It has the finest machinery in the world, which is manufactured at its own doors. In spite of all this Lancashire is up against the serious 1112 competition of these other countries and is suffering from a serious diminution in the demand for its own products. When you have every natural advantage for an industry which has long been established and which is admittedly one of the most efficient industries in the world, are you going to sacrifice that for a miserable mushroom growth of glove manufacturers, only two or three of whom can produce a glove on thoroughly efficient lines? The thing is perfectly preposterous.
Then we are told the Act is only of short duration. It will only last for two more years. I will ask any business man, who, as the result of any accident, loses a customer, that is to say, a former customer goes somewhere else for two years, whether he thinks he is likely to get him back at the end of that two years. Trade does not jump about in that way. You cannot lose your goodwill for two years and expect to get it back by waving a wand and abolishing the Act. I do not think trade overcomes the loss of a customer for two years quite so easily as that, and I am very surprised that that can be used as an argument in favour of this Act. The Committee say in their last Report that there is ample evidence to show that there is a big margin between the cost of production in Germany and the selling price in this country. Yet in their previous Report they say:Owing to the fact that there are so many different varieties of gloves produced we have found it extremely difficult to compare the cost of German gloves with similar British articles.In their conclusion, they say:Very little evidence was submitted to us as to the cost of production in Germany and we are unable to express an opinion as to whether goods are being sold at prices below the cost of production as defined by the Act.As a matter of fact, neither of these things had anything to do with the points which were submitted to them and are quite gratuitous, but there is the gratuitous information which they give. In one report they say that they have no evidence at all as to the cost of production in Germany, and yet in this second report they say there is ample evidence to show that there is a big margin between the cost of production in Germany and the selling price in this country. I say they have no evidence at all, and no evidence has yet been produced that the German 1113 selling prices are below British selling prices. There was no satisfactory evidence given on that point at all. The report said that German cotton gloves were about 24 per cent. below British, and silk ones about 12 per cent., and yet I understand on the best information that since the Committee reported the prices of German gloves have gone up 25 per cent. If that be so, the whole difference which the Committee found ha; been wiped away. Has the Board of Trade taken that fact into consideration? It is illustrative of the absolutely ridiculous nature of the Act in general that owing to the fluctuating conditions of Europe the set of facts on which the Committee based their assumptions in their report is materially altered in the course of a few months. If that be so, and prices have gone up 25 per cent.—and I have every reason to believe in the accuracy of my information—the whole basis of the Committee's report has gone, because until you prove that German prices are below British costs, you do not start to make a case out under the Act at all.
I know there was evidence submitted by the importers that German gloves in fact were not being sold at lower prices, and that it was impossible to compare the British prices with the German, because you could not get the same quality. It was almost impossible to get a British glove of the same quality as the German. Samples were produced with prices put on them. No question was asked as to how they were arrived at and what evidence they had to justify those prices, and there was no cross-examination. That is one of the evils of the inquiries under this Act, that evidence is not subject to being tested in any way. It rests entirely on hearsay. I submit that a case has not been made out even on that fundamental fact. All the facts we have had which have arisen since the report put an entirely different complexion on this case. I have said that the prices of German gloves have gone up 25 per cent. German labour costs have gone up since the Committee reported. I was in Germany only a few weeks ago. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear!"]Several Members have been there on inquiries. If the hon. Member wishes to insinuate anything I shall be happy to undertake it. It is surprising with what rapidity the wages of the working men in Ger- 1114 many are going up. The unions are very well organised, and with every depreciation of the currency the wages are being lifted to correspond with it.
§ Major ENTWISTLE
When I was over there the depreciation in the currency was about 60 times pre-War and the wages of the average artisan were about 40 or 50 times up, so it had very nearly caught up the depreciation in the currency. It is the same with the German prices. That is another change in conditions since this Committee reported. In the appendix to their first report they give the Board of Trade Statistical Returns as to the internal and external purchasing power of the mark, and because the internal purchasing power was then greater than the external purchasing power, the conclusion was drawn that it was depreciation in the currency which was the cause of the British manufacturer being unable to compete. The last returns which the Board of Trade have, made show almost an equality between the internal purchasing power and the external. If you take the wholesale prices now, they have increased by almost the whole amount of the depreciation in the exchange. That is another change in conditions which has taken place since the Committee reported. There was one other very important fact brought before the Committee which they do not deign to deal with at all. The prices of German gloves at the time the Committee held their investigations were about three times higher than the pre-War prices. British gloves were only twice to two, and a half times higher than pre-War. I think that proves conclusively that it is not depreciation in exchange which is the cause of the trouble, because the German prices have gone up more in proportion, since the War, than the British prices. Therefore, the trouble is something that existed before the War. It is because the German is able to produce more economically than the British manufacturer in a trade which they specialise in and which they built up during a long period of years. It may be due, to the fact that the German working man was paid a lower wage before the War than, the British working man, but that is not a factor which you are entitled to take into consideration under this Act. The only point you can take into consideration 1115 is the depreciation in currency, and therefore the case is not proved.
What evidence have the Committee before them to find that it is due to depreciation in the exchange that the British manufacturer is unable to keep all his men employed? The only evidence the Committee went on was the fact that when you took the number of marks the German workman was paid and reduced that into sterling at the current rate of exchange it came out at a much lower rate of wages than the English working man was paid. The hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Terrell) is very good at working out those figures. He made out at one time that the German workman was paid about 6d. a week. Perhaps that is an exaggeration. I will say 6d. an hour. Anyway, the figures which I think this Committee took made the German workman's wage come out at about 12s. a week. But since then all these wages have been increased three times. This question of wages is not a sufficient reason for saying that the cause of the trouble is depreciation in the exchange, when you see that the German prices have gone up since pre-War far more than British prices, and it shows that really the reasons why the British manufacturer is unable to compete in these articles are the same reasons which existed before the War, because unless he is able to compete on the same conditions as the German manufacturer was able to manufacture before the War he has not proved that he is carrying on his business with reasonable efficiency and economy, and surely if he can get three times the price the Germans got before the War he ought to come within that margin. What reason has he for his cost being more than three times pre-War? Wages and cost of material are not three times more than pre-War. There is not a single article which amounts to three times pre-War. The British manufacturer ought to be able to produce gloves at twice the price the Germans were selling them before the War in this country, and yet he has a margin of three times and cannot do it. The only conclusion you can draw from that is that this was an industry which was built up as a mushroom growth during the War. It has not got the organisation or the machinery or skilled workmen sufficient to meet the competition of German work- 1116 men on level terms, quite apart from this question of the depreciation in the exchange. It is a matter of quality. There are two or three manufacturers in this country who manufactured gloves before the War and they carry on with reasonable efficiency and economy. They are filled up with orders at present and they cannot meet the demand. You can get any number of dealers in this country who say they cannot get deliveries of goods which they order from these British firms. That means that where the British industry is carried on with reasonable efficiency and economy they have plenty of work.
What sort of figures were put before the Committee by the applicants? They said that, during the War, at a time of maximum output, when they were busiest, they employed 11,000 people, and at present they are only employing something under 2,000. Therefore, there are 9,000 unemployed. Yet when we put a question to the Minister of Labour as to the amount of unemployment in the glove industry, he tells us the total unemployment in the glove industry, including leather and kid manufacturers, is only 470. How does he arrive at his figures? Yet the Committee have based their Report on the assumption that 9,000 people have been thrown out of employment as the result of German competition. Nothing of the sort. These 11,000 people were employed in manufacturing fabric, not for the purpose of gloves merely, but for all kinds of war purposes—the manufacture of gas masks, sails for aeroplanes and a thousand and one war services where. price did not enter into account, where it did not matter how uneconomically the business was run. There was ample trade for them. A great proportion of these 11,000 work-people who, it is said, have gone out of employment were out workers. They were not established permanently in the industry, but were mere part-time workers. It is on that sort of figures that we are asked to assume that there has been serious unemployment in this industry. No case whatever has been made out under the terms of the Act for this Order being made. Quite apart from the merits of the case as to whether the glove manufacturers have made out their case within the terms of the Act—I think I have given sufficient facts to show that it is very doubtful whether they have established their case—when you know that you 1117 cannot measure in actual terms of weight of yarn what will be the effect of the imposition of this Order upon the cotton industry, this Order ought not to be made.
The Committee say that it is a matter of speculation to judge what the results will be. They talk about the impossibility of measuring it in normal times. They say it is very difficult to measure or ascertain the repercussion that there may be throughout the industry generally as the result of an apparently slight measure of interference. Mr. Howarth, the President of the Fine Cotton Spinners, spoke about the effect of some political interference with the cotton industry in the past., and the effect it had upon their trade with Germany and their trade with India or China, and he said that it had effects far outweighing what was considered the importance of the political controversy at the time. Once you start interfering with the normal channels of trade which have been built up by the cotton industry as the result of so much labour and effort, you cannot measure the results, and to go blindly, light-heartedly, fool-hardily into this Measure without any evidence that it will do one halfpenny-worth of good to the British glove manufacturers—the Committee themselves think it will not have any effect upon the number of German gloves imported into this country—will be an act of folly which this House ought not to commit.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HURST
I feel myself fortunate in being able to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, at this stage, because one must remember that nine-tenths of the representation of Lancashire is Conservative, and I do not think that a Lancashire Conservative has so far had the honour of addressing the House this afternoon. The position of a Lancashire Conservative during the last few weeks has been very delicate and very difficult, and our position has not been materially assisted by some of the propaganda issued by the extreme Protectionists, who look upon the Safeguarding of Industries Act, as some of its critics have done, as being the thin end of the wedge of high Protection. That is not the view that I take. A certain amount of this propaganda has made our position infinitely more difficult. I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Middleton (Sir Ryland Adkins) in reprobating the imputation about "the niggard throats of Manchester" in the bitter pamphlet 1118 which has been issued by the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. G. Terrell). I would rather recall to the attention of the hon. Member the far apter and truer expression of opinion which he will find in Disraeli's "Coningsby," where he says that:Rightly understood, Manchester is as great a human exploit as Athens. It is the philosopher alone who can conceive the grandeur of Manchester and the immensity of its future.If the hon. Member for Chippenham does not share the view there expressed, it can only be that he is not capable of right understanding, and that he is not a philosopher.
Turning to the very difficult question which we have to face to-clay, the section of Conservative Members for Lancashire with whom I am associated have decided to support the Government on the Resolutions before the House, and we do so on two grounds. First of all, we think that we ought not to be deflected from pursuing what we consider to be the national interest merely for the sake of a passing local outcry. Secondly, in common with the two or three Coalition Liberals who addressed the House, we were elected on a pledge to do something to protect British industries against dumping. In common with those Coalition Liberals we supported the Safeguarding of Industries Act when it passed this House, and, with great respect to my hon. Friends who take the other view, it does not seem to me to be consistent and honest, after having voted for the passing of this Measure to run away the first time that an experiment is made under Part II of the Act. When, in common with our Coalition Liberal friends in Lancashire, we told the electors that if we were returned to Parliament we would support legislation against dumping, we were not then thinking of the great staple trades in the North of England. We were thinking particularly and obviously of those small industries which had come into being and risen to a certain level of prosperity during the War. If those industries were carried on in an efficient manner, we pledged ourselves to see that they were not overwhelmed by German or other foreign competition when peace was established.
The Safeguarding of Industries Act, in spite of its demerits, affords an experiment for giving these industries a chance 1119 of proving themselves capable of being conducted on efficient and economic lines in time of peace. It is an experiment, because the operation of the Bill is only for two years, and I cannot see how anybody like my two hon. Friends, who belong to the Coalition Liberal group, should oppose the first attempt to put the Act into operation. After voting for the Act and speaking in favour of it, they wish now to make the Measure an absolutely dead letter. My hon. Friend the junior Member for Stockport (Mr. Fildes) said that when he saw the Orders that were going to be made by the Committee, for which the approval of the House is now being sought, it came upon him as a great shack. Why did 'he think the Safeguarding of Industries Act had been passed into law if it had never to come into operation? Why did he vote for it, and speak for it? I feel very diffident in accepting his statement that he suffered a great shock when he saw that these Orders were being made. The industries to protect which this Act was designed were special and peculiar industries when the Bill was being passed through Parliament. There is no less unemployment today than there was when the Bill became law, and it seems to me to be unfair and inconsistent for us, merely because it affects a local industry, to run away from the first application of the Measure which we were returned to support.
As a Lancashire Conservative I feel, and I think most Conservatives in Lancashire feel, very grateful to the Government for the handsome and generous way in which they met every one of the Amendments which we brought forward, and which we supported when the Measure was before the House. I think we can claim that it is partly owing to our influence that the operation of the Bill was limited to two years. It was certainly in consequence of an Amendment which we moved that the hearing of the cases before the Committees takes place in public, that each side has the advantage of the services of counsel, and that the personnel of the Committee consists not of partial politicians but of dispassionate judges. It was also owing to our efforts that a new condition precedent was imported into the Act, whereby any industry which applies for help under the Safeguarding of Industries Act must necessarily prove itself to be run on economical 1120 and efficient lines before the application is granted. Those were very real concessions. We were met all along the line, and where in the present case the highest possible ill-effects of the operation of the Act can be of the most, small and insignificant character, as far as other trades are concerned, we are in honour bound to support the application of the Measure.
We are not to-night deciding any broad question of principle. We are not fighting out any question between two great economic theories. If we were doing so, I should not be prepared to take up the position which I am now taking up, because I believe, prima facie, that in normal circumstances it is to the interest of the country to have the freest possible interchange of goods between it and every other country. One of the lessons of the War was that it was obviously a fatal thing to the country to give, either by tariffs or through any of the indirect effects of war, protection to the home manufacturers when the consumer is entirely at their mercy. The experience of the last two years is clearly against the wisdom of any such theory. In normal times I am convinced that Free Trade is the best policy, but, as John Stuart Mill recognises, there are cases where the primâ facie principle of economic theory can be departed from. The House in its wisdom or unwisdom, rightly or wrongly, sanctioned the procedure laid down in this Act. With all respect to the hon. Member for South-West Hull (Major Entwistle) it is not fair for him to gibe at the wickedness and folly and the lack of judicial temper shown by the Committee.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HURST: That was the implication that. I drew, no doubt wrongly, from what my hon. Friend said. He certainly did criticise the Committee for excluding certain evidence.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HURST
Well, for arriving at a conclusion for which no evidence was adduced. After all, my hon. Friend is a partisan, and the members of the tribunal who dealt with this matter must, I think, be assumed by the House to have acted as fair-minded individuals. They had a very narrow issue to decide. The only issue which they had to decide was whether or not the application of the 1121 Safeguarding of Industries Act would cure more unemployment than it would cause. They bad evidence placed before them by the parties interested, and after a patient and honest hearing they arrived at the conclusion that the application of the Act would cure more unemployment than it would cause, and when we are detached from the impartial atmosphere in which the judges who decided this matter lived and moved when they heard the evidence I think we are bound to support their judgment. What is the good of appointing a tribunal if you do not accept their judgment when they arrive at it?
8.0 P m.
We are told that if this 33⅓ per cent. duty is imposed upon fabric gloves coming into this country it is going to ruin the Lancashire cotton trade. Knowing the Lancashire cotton trade as I do, that seems to me a ridiculous proposition. The Lancashire cotton trade is a vast, prosperous and magnificent concern, and is not going to be ruined, even if the effect of the duty was to shut out fabric gloves. The actual number of operatives in the cotton trade who are dependent upon the manufacture of the cotton yarn which goes to produce the fabric gloves in Saxony is so infinitesimal that their loss, if any, cannot materially affect the welfare of the great mass of operatives in the cotton trade. I should like my hon. Friends who are criticising this Resolution to realise the dilemma in which they stand. My hon. Frend who spoke last said that it is absurd to have a duty of only 33⅓cent.; that that is not going to shut out German gloves at the present rate of exchange. If it does not shut out German gloves, they will come in, and there will be the same undiminished demand for yarn from Bolton for the Saxony glove trade. In that case the demand is certain to remain effective. People will not go without gloves. That is my view. Take the alternative in this dilemma. If a certain portion of the import of German gloves ceases the demand will not cease. It will be met by English manufacturers, and they will require the same yarn, which would otherwise have gone to Saxony. So far as the other argument is concerned—that the Germans will be so annoyed at the imposition of the 33⅓ per cent. that they will transfer the whole of their custom to France—that seems to me, parti- 1122 cularly in view of the hatred of Germany towards the. French which is much greater than their hatred towards us, to be an exceedingly far-fetched view.
I do not believe that the people in Lancashire are feeling the great uneasiness and all the other hot qualities which are attributed to them by the right hon. Member who moved this Amendment. The people at the bottom of it are the Liberal and the Hinton Press in Lancashire. They are responsible for the agitation. The voice of the Press is not necessarily the voice of the people, any more than the voice of the people is necessarily the voice of God. To test that, take the case of my own division. From my own constitutents I have not received a single letter or postcard or message relating to this question of fabric gloves. I met the chairman of a big club in Manchester a few days ago. It is a club frequented by poor men, partly by working men, and is in the constituency of the hon. Member for the Hulme Division (Lieut.-Colonel Nall). I asked him what about those fabric gloves. He asked, "What gloves?" He had never heard of the question. I asked him, "Have you not heard of this question of fabric gloves in Hulme?" "No," he said. "The only political questions in which we are interested are the opening hours and the price of beer."
It is a fallacy to believe that the working-class people, certainly in Manchester, have any strong feelings on this matter at all. If they had strong feelings they would write or speak to their Members. If they were interested in this question, and if they saw the exhibition, which was in the room upstairs the other day, of English and German gloves side by side, they would have a fellow feeling for the English workers who put their skill into these gloves, and they would support these gloves even though they might cost somewhat more.
I have heard gentlemen who do not represent Manchester at all talk about the views of Manchester. Of course, the great cause of the depression in Manchester is the general depression which prevails everywhere. But one material cause is the closing of overseas markets as a result of tariffs. We have lost one of our great markets in the French colonies, and the same process is 1123 at work in the Portuguese and other foreign colonies, in Africa and Asia.. I have asked what the Government are doing to persuade the French not to raise their tariffs against Lancashire goods in the French colonies in Africa and Madagascar, and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs has answered that the Government are making representations and are doing their best. But unless we have got bargaining power behind us, representations by themselves are no good. It is no good to act suaviter in mode if we do not act fortiter in re. To have success in representations you require not merely suavity but firmness of purpose. In fact you have got to have the iron hand in the fabric glove.
Now as to the political side of the question, for this is a political as well as an economic question. I am a Coalitionist. I go about my division trying to justify the ways of Coalition. Again and again Conservatives say to me, "It is all very well supporting the Coalition, but what is the good of supporting Ministers or public men like A, B and C? How can you support A's policy with regard to housing, or B's policy with regard to the distribution of honours, and so on? "I say to them, "You get a quid pro quo. These Coalition Liberals will be loyal to us if we are loyal to them, and when it comes to the Safeguarding of Industries Act you will see what fine fellows they are." It will be very interesting to see in the papers to-morrow the speeches of the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Sir H. Norman), the hon. Member for Middleton (Sir R. Adkins), and the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Fildes). After all, there is no good in making an alliance if you run away on the day of battle, and I think that here, where there is no real vital interest of the cotton trade, or of one's constituents, affected, we who are supporting the Government, and believe, rightly or wrongly, that the alternative to the Coalition is another party devoted to "red ruin and the breaking up of laws," or else one committed to a policy of extravagance, wickedness, and inefficiency, would do a wrong thing if we, who were recruited under the same banners and uphold the same great public purposes, allowed ourselves to be divided on the day of battle.
Mr. ALFRED DAVIES (Clitheroe)
The reason I rise in this Debate is that supporters of the Government have complained because other hon. Members who are supporters of the Government have departed from the fold in the course of this Debate. I welcome it. I fully appreciate the action of these men in supporting this Amendment, and for this reason. I think that they have discovered at last what one may describe as fiscal economic sanity. They did assist, it is true, in creating a Frankenstein, but they have realised in time the effect of their action. It is not my intention to deal with the absurdities and anomalies of the Safeguarding of Industries Act. That has been done already with great ability by the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), and the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw). Nearly every speaker who has taken part in this discussion has been diametrically opposed to the proposals of the Government. I am speaking as one of those who are supporting the Amendment, and as one who has some practical knowledge of the manual effort entailed in cotton manufacture. For 37 years I worked in a spinning room as an operative cotton spinner, and I worked on until a fortnight before coming to this House.
I can assure hon. Members that the cotton industry has not been built up by any haphazard methods or any lack of inventive genius or any lack of industrial patience. All those forces have been applied for generations, for the purpose of bringing the Lancashire cotton trade to the magnificent position which it occupies to-day, and we in Lancashire feel that the Government of this country, which relies so much on the strength of the Lancashire cotton industry to maintain itself, is entirely indifferent to the wellbeing of that industry. In recent years deputation after deputation has been to meet the representatives of the Government with regard to what the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Greenwood) described as protection in India, and time after time overtures have been made to the Government to get it to put into effect the pledge given in 1917, to have an economic conference of all the different parts of the Empire for the purpose of determining the fiscal relationship which should exist between those respective parts.
1125 That in itself has been a very serious handicap to Lancashire trade, and we are confronted with the proposition that we should impose a tax on fabric gloves coming from Germany, which are the direct, product of yarn manufactured in Lancashire. Here we are imposing a tax on Lancashire manufactured gloves, and, that is why we are so greatly opposed to it. It has been said in this Debate that, only 550 persons in the Lancashire cotton industry arc affected by this proposal, assuming that it would destroy completely the German manufacture. The hon. and learned Member for the Moss-side Division of Manchester (Lieut.-Colonel Hurst.) said that this agitation was the result of a Press agitation engineered by the Hulton Press and the Free Trade members of the Liberal party. It is nothing of the sort. To-day we have representatives of all the textile trades that are in Lancashire and the officials of the respective trade unions meeting us and informing us of the importance of resisting these particular duties. It would be interesting to ascertain by what method this Committee arrived at the figure 530, as the number who would be affected if the German trade were destroyed. That figure was denied by the hon. Member for Preston, who said that the number would be 4,000, and it was proved to-day to my mind that, in the event of the German glove-making industry being destroyed, it would affect, not 500, but more than 5,000 persons in Lancashire, and that would be in addition to the great mass of unemployment and under-employment prevailing in Lancashire to-day. And yet the Government sees fit to introduce duties of this sort at such a time, and thus aggravate the distress of those who are concerned.
But it is not as if it were going to end there. Then we should know exactly where we stood. We are not prepared to accept the statement that it will end there. If we accept the principle that it is justifiable on the part of the Government to impose taxes on goods semi-manufactured in Lancashire, we cannot argue logically against any further encroachment which they may make on any other place to which we supply Lancashire yarn.
I believe I am voicing the sentiments of nine-tenths of the people of Lancashire when I say that this duty, if imposed, 1126 will create a feeling of resentment against every Member of Parliament who votes in its favour. I am quite certain about it. The statement of the hon. Gentleman who said that he had not received a single letter from any constituent, is entirely at variance with the experience of those who arc closely identified with Lancashire factory centres. From those quarters we are getting letters every day. It is not because of coercion or threats on the part of constituents that I am prepared to support the Amendment. I support it because I sincerely believe that if the Amendment be not carried a further blow will be struck at the prosperity of the Lancashire cotton industry. It will be agreed by all of us that Lancashire has already suffered enough. I appeal to the Coalition Liberals. I am not one of those who say that, because a man on some previous occasion has formed an opinion in regard to a certain subject, he is not entitled to change that opinion. On the contrary, I believe that where men have fixed principles and have associated themselves with a measure of expediency for the purpose of dealing with an emergency, they are, if that measure of expediency violates the original principles they held, entitled to say that they will not support the measure of expediency indefinitely. I appeal to all men who have the interests of the Lancashire cotton industry at heart. This question affects more than the prosperity of Lancashire. It affects the shipping industry. If you stop imports of goods and exports of cotton yarn, you must of necessity affect the shipping industry. I think I can appeal with some degree of success for support of this Amendment by those who originally held views similar to those expressed from the Opposition Benches to-day.
§ Mr. REMER
We have heard a great deal during this Debate about the views of Lancashire and of Lancashire men. Although I do not speak as a Lancashire Member, I do speak as a Member for a constituency which adjoins Manchester, and contains a very large cotton interest. I also speak as one who was born in Lancashire, and as one who has spent the whole of his time in Lancashire. Therefore, I can claim to speak with some authority on what. Lancashire opinion is. I say without fear or hesitation that Lancashire opinion is not by any means all of a Free Trade nature, and that it is not all against the imposition of this duty 1127 on fabric gloves. I am quite prepared to admit that the Free Trade voice, and particularly the political Free Trade voice, of Lancashire is very noisy. It creates a very great clamour, but I do not think it carries very great weight. What Lancashire wants is to regard its business and its trade primarily and not to allow politics to interfere too largely with it. If Lancashire men can be satisfied that these duties not only will not injure their trade, but will improve their trade, I am sure that they would be the first to say that they are in favour of the duties. There are two classes of opposition for which Lancashire will not have any time. The first is the party politician, who makes party capital out of this cry and out of the cotton trade—the man who cares more for his Free Trade theories than for the prosperity of the country, and who does not look upon the trade of the country as the primary consideration. The second class who oppose these duties are the interested individuals who make money and large profits by importing fabric gloves.
Hon. Members have all received a large number of circulars signed by a gentleman named Mr. F. B. Heap, Secretary of the Fabric Glove Protest Association. I have been making some inquiries about this gentleman. He happens to be a partner in the firm of Millington, of Manchester, who are the agents for the firm of Otto Groebë, manufacturers of fabric gloves in Saxony. It is a most extraordinary thing that a gentleman should cover this House with circulars on this subject when he himself is interested in the free importation of these fabric gloves. I met this gentleman at the inquiry which was held at the Board of Trade offices. I was introduced to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Royton (Mr. Sugden). In conversation he gave himself away entirely by saying that it would he necessary at the next election to get a good Liberal to oppose me. That showed his party leanings, and that he did not care for the real issues which we are facing. I would like to go more closely into the question why Germany buys our fine cottons. I am sure that I can prove that they buy them solely because it pays them to buy them and because they cannot buy them elsewhere. When Germany first put a tariff on cotton it was an all-round tariff, equal on fine 1128 and on coarse counts. There was such an agitation from the fabric glove and curtain manufacturers in Germany, who declared that trade was being injured by the imposition of a high tariff on fine counts, that Germany actually reduced the tariff on the fine counts in order to encourage trade in curtains and in fabric gloves, showing conclusively that it was a necessity for the German trade to buy British fine cottons.
We have heard a good deal from several hon. Members about the necessity for securing sterling in order that they could buy our fine cotton. Everyone of us who is in business and who knows about this exchange question is a good deal alarmed at the way in which the Germans are manipulating and speculating in our sterling exchange. There is no doubt that they are securing a good deal of world trade by securing sterling exchange and using our exchange for the purpose of their trade, and not our trade. Instead of that being a good thing, I think it is a very bad thing, and I am sure that it has resulted in our losing a great many markets abroad. Several hon. Members have declared that this tax on imported fabric gloves will make fabric gloves dearer. As fas as the consumer is concerned, I do not think the gloves will be one penny dearer. You may ask, "How is the tax to help the fabric glove manufacturer?" In this way: These cheap gloves, which are bought by the depreciated exchange from Germany, are bought by speculators and middlemen, who do not allow the consumers to get the full advantage of their cheap purchases. These middlemen make the profits.
We are told that all kinds of terrible things may happen should this duty be imposed. We are told that Germany will retaliate against us by buying her cotton in other directions, but, in my opinion, the boot is on the other leg. This duty is going to give us something with which we can bargain; something by means of which we can obtain advantages of great material value to Lancashire trade. If hon. Members refer to an answer given by the Secretary to the Department of Overseas Trade to questions put by me with reference to trade agreements, they will see that we have a trade agreement with Japan, which provides for the free importation of certain goods into this country, and the return which we get is 1129 that Japan shall not exceed 60 per cent. on the cotton goods which go into Japan. I believe by means of the duty which is now proposed we may have a means of securing valuable bargains. We might, for example, allow the free importation of fabric gloves from Germany into this country, in exchange for the free exportation by us of cotton to Germany. It is absurd, however, that we should be offering free importation to other countries on the one hand, and that all we should get in return is an agreement that the tariff on our goods should not exceed a certain amount. It is my idea that by means of this duty we shall be able, in future, to export to these other countries in exchange for allowing free importation of the goods of those other countries into this country. That would be a real bargain, and would be far more valuable to the trade of Lancashire than anything else I can conceive. It would be of lasting value in securing increased employment.
Remarks have been made in the course of this Debate casting some doubts on the impartiality of the Committee which decided this issue. I know three members of that Committee personally, and so far from there being any reason for doubting their impartiality, as far as political influence is concerned, they are strictly impartial. They have sat for many days, given time and study to this question, and have come to a certain decision, and it is our duty to support that decision. We have given a pledge to the manufacturers of fabric gloves, and it is our duty to fulfil that pledge. When an impartial Committee has met and decided a certain issue, hon. Members opposite immediately declare that the members of the Committee are Tariff Reformers. I suppose the only Committee which would satisfy them is one nominated by the Free Trade Union. I can understand their minds being warped by these wretched economic theories, but I cannot understand the attitude of the Labour party on this question. They have always advocated the policy of the minimum wage. I suppose one of their first political acts when they form a Government will be to introduce legislation enforcing the minimum wage. What are they going to do when fabric gloves and other articles come into this country made by people 1130 who, at the present rate of exchange, are not earning more than 10 or 12 shillings per week?
§ Mr. REMER
I am sure the first action they will take when they come into power will be to see that articles of this kind are not only taxed but prohibited. I am sure they will take much stronger action than we propose to take at the present time. I believe this duty is going to be of real service. I believe that not only will it do no harm to, but that it will benefit the cotton industry, and I shall vote for its imposition as a step that will result in lasting good to the people of he country.
§ Captain AINSWORTH
In the course of his speech during this Debate the President of the Board of Trade said he would not make this Order if it could be proved that the cotton spinning industry would suffer at all. I think it is quite impossible to prove such a thing, but can the right hon. Gentleman prove that it will not suffer? I think that is an equally fair question. Both the President of the Board of Trade and the right hon. Member for the Central -Division of Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) made the point that all who helped to pass the Safeguarding of Industries Act were in honour bound to vote for this Order. I do not think that is quite a fair argument. I did not support the Safeguarding of Industries Bill; I voted against it on all occasions; but I do not think those who supported it ever contemplated the Lancashire cotton trade being affected by it. On the other hand, the Government as we know, have very often changed their own policy in the lifetime of this Parliament. We remember what they said not more than 18 months ago about Ireland. They have changed their policy twice there. The policy of the Government has also been changed on the question of Land Valuations, and it is quite unfair to say that those Members who supported the Government in passing the Act should not take exception to an Order made by a Committee of the Board of Trade.
It seems to be supposed by some people that we have a monopoly in spinning fine counts of yarn in Lancashire. It is quite true that we have the bulk of the 1131 trade of the world, but as to monopoly, fine counts of 120 to nowhere are spun in many parts of the world. If we do make the Order imposing this duty on cotton fabric gloves we are in danger of upsetting the balance of trade between ourselves and Germany. We have to consider that Germany is a very large selling agent for our yarns. It is all very well to say we can find the trade elsewhere and that this proposal will bring the manufacture of gloves to this country, and that we shall sell our yarn here. Business men know that any disturbance of an established trade of this kind has very great dangers. We had better hold on to the trade we have and get down to producing yarns as cheaply as we can. If we once start the system of tariffs we do not know where it is going to end. I do not think there is a single Member of the House who 12 months ago could have foretold that the Safeguarding of Industries Bill when passed was going to touch the Lancashire spinning trade. Yet here we find the very first Order which we have to make under that Measure touches the spinning trade of Lancashire.
The hon. and learned Member for Moss Side (Lieut.-Colonel Hurst) said it was more in the nature of an experiment. I do not think Lancashire people want their trade experimented with by other people, especially by the Government. They are quite well able to take care of themselves. They have never asked for this, and they are very strongly against it, and I think the Government ought to be well warned. I believe that all the operatives and the masters in Lancashire and the allied trades are of one mind in this matter, and that they will brook no interference from the Government with the staple trade of Lancashire. Whether the question be right or wrong, they are not going to wait for the experiment. If the experiment does not turn out as the Government say it. will, we are in great danger of losing a large extent of our trade, and it is no use talking about this question to Lancashire people. They will not try this dangerous experiment, and I believe that, when the time comes, the Government will be told in very plain language that they will have no interference with their trade. Whether rightly or wrongly, the great bulk of the operatives in Lancashire, and of those concerned in the trade, will 1132 register their votes against this Government which dared to tamper with the Lancashire trade at all.
I was one of those who gave evidence before the Committee appointed by the Board of Trade on the fabric glove question, and there was one point that struck me very forcibly indeed. I think it was the President of the Fabric Glove Association—and I believe he owns three different businesses—who in his evidence admitted that he was employing more hands than ever he had, either before, during, or since the War, and that he was booked up a long nay ahead. Of course, one can understand that he would not refuse a chance of making larger profits on his gloves, though he is doing very well as it is, but he is about the only one of the fabric glove manufacturers who is really efficient, and if the others were to bring their works right up to date, put in efficient machinery, and properly organise their business, they could do it just as well as this successful man is doing. I have no hesitation as to which way I shall vote. I voted against the Bill all the way through, and I shall vote against the Government to-night on this matter. I am quite sure that in this matter the Government do not quite appreciate the feeling in Lancashire. It. is said that the Lancashire people in two or three months' time will have forgotten all about this. I do not think they will. I think this great organised industry, that is so well run, will not bear any tempering with what they are going to do and on these grounds I shall vote against the Government.
§ Mr. W. GREENWOOD
I very much regret that I was unable to listen to the speech of my hon. Friend and colleague the other Member for Stock-port (Mr. Fildes). I gather from my Friends that he said pretty well what would be entirely in opposition to what I myself would he expected to say. One other hon. Member said that I hid been unable to convert my colleague even to my point of view, but I would like to say to that hon. Member, if he were here, that I have never tried and that he has never tried to alter my views. I think he has just as much regard for my convictions and my principles as I have for his, but I know this, that whatever happens when the next election comes on at 1133 Stockport, if it only worries the Lancashire spinners as to the amount of yarn they would lose as much as the probable loss of a seat in Stockport would because I oppose them, their worry would be very slight indeed. The election in Stockport when we were returned gave me an opportunity of knowing, and, whatever my colleague said to-day, I know what he said then. The "Manchester Guardian" dubbed us, rightly or wrongly, as twin stars, and it was said that we spoke with one voice. We certainly spoke with one voice with regard to the proposed legislation, and I would remind hon. Members that that was not in 1918, but in 1920, when the possibilities as to what this legislation actually would mean were better known, and both of us said that we welcomed legislation that would prevent unfair competition with the workpeople of this country and which, in our minds, would tend to greater regularity of employment.
I would like to speak on this matter from the constitutional point of view. I believe sincerely in the, Act. I have a great deal of sympathy with the fabric glove makers. I not only think that the Order ought to be made now, but that it ought to have been made sooner. These manufacturers placed their case before the Committee in a regular and constitutional way; they got the verdict, and, in my opinion, they aught to have the judgment. The loss of trade in Lancashire, so far as I can judge, is absolutely problematical. There can be no definite fact as to what may be lost in the event of certain possibilities. We may argue that the whole of the yarn used in the manufacture of fabric gloves in Germany will be affected. If it were, so far as I can gather, it would only affect about 83,500,000 worth of yarn, and so far as I can make it out—and one has some little experience in working out calculations of this sort—if the lower basis be taken—that is to say, the basis of the fabric glove makers—I should imagine that three mills, working full time, would do the work, and if the higher basis be taken, six mills would certainly supply the demand. [An HON. MEMBER "What size mills?"] I have taken 100,000 spindles into my calculation. If it be true that the fine spinning mills of Lancashire are depending on the German demand almost entirely, I would like to 1134 ask, what was the position in 1920 when the demand from Germany was almost entirely non-existent?
It has been argued, too, that there is a danger of competition from other countries for these particular yarns if this duty he imposed, yet we are told by the same people who are afraid of competition from these Protectionist countries that Protection always mean inefficiency. If it always means inefficiency, surely an industry built up as ours is—and I have some little knowledge of it—is one that does not need to fear inefficient competition. To prove that it is not a fact that other countries, though they may be Protectionist, are inefficient, I would like the House to listen to the figures of cotton for the whole world during the present year, compared with the year just before the War, because if it be true that Protectionist countries cannot compete properly, seeing that they are inefficient, I think it would be true to say that we, at any rate, ought to be holding our own. The total is about 12,600,000 bales of American cotton used this year, and in percentages we in this country have used 58 per cent. compared with 1914, America has used 105 per cent., the Continent has used 71.6 per cent., and Japan and Mexico 229.4 per cent. That hardly shows that the inefficiency of these Protectionist countries has not allowed them to develop their industry compared with our own. We are told in a circular that has been issued that the whole of the industry is against this Order. That is not true. Although one may be in a very small minority, one has, at any rate, a right to his own opinion. It has been said that there was only one who was against this Order in the large body of the Master Cotton-Spinners' Federation Committee. There were two voted when first an Amendment was moved with regard to the question. I know for a fact that there are five members of a committee of 100, and there may be more, who are entirely with me in regard to this question, and opposed to the majority, I frankly admit, of the members. I have neither canvassed nor lobbied for support, but I know there are five out of 100 who are in favour of this Order being granted.
Who started the agitation? We are led to believe that it was Lancashire which organised this agitation from the begin- 1135 ning, that it was a joint meeting of employers and operatives which was called together to start this rousing agitation against this Order. It was nothing of the sort. It started first of all in letters from German agents, saying that if this duty were put on, they would not be able to do any business. I myself got letters, not only from workpeople's organisations, but from other organisations, with reference to this matter. I got letters and threats. Of the threats, of course, I took very little notice. Threats do not worry me in the least. But I got letters from mills and from trade union officials. In the first place, I got letters from mills where they said they had letters from Germany, pointing out the difficulties of the position, and I wrote back asking how many spindles they had stopped of those which were actually engaged on this work. The reply was none, but that they were afraid of the future. That happened in all cases. It was not a question of short time coming on them, but the fear of the future. I am afraid that in some cases Lancashire, at any rate, as exemplified by one hon. Friend who spoke behind me, would not be doing quite the right thing if they took the view that any great industry is at liberty to crush a weaker one if need be. I do not think it is at all a fair argument to say, that because this industry is a small one, its position should be ignored. Then it is said that some of this industry is carried on in a rather more primitive way than is our cotton spinning industry. I would remind my hon. Friend the Member of Clitheroe (Mr. A. Davies) that there have been times when men thought that the conditions even in the Lancashire cotton trade were not all that could be desired, and when we discuss as an argument against the glove makers that their industry is not so highly organised, and some of it takes place in the households of the people, I. at any rate, could tell the House that in my own home, where I was born, there were looms and spinning machines, so that it is not a great way back when that industry in Lancashire was being carried on in a fairly primitive fashion.
It is also said that an industry which cannot stand against any sort of competition must close its doors. That was not what was said in 1918. I remember 1136 many conversations with hon. Members who think differently from me now, but who said then that they had reason to think that their views should be changed; that the very fact that our policy of free imports as carried out had meant such a great dislocation of employment that it was sufficient for them to vote for a Measure such as the Safeguarding of Industries Bill. We are told that there is unanimity not only in the Lancashire cotton-spinning trade, but also with regard to importers. I have a letter which I have received from an importer. I will not mention the name of the firm, because I am a bit afraid that there is a possibility of a certain amount of coercion of those who venture to oppose the vast bulk of opinion from Manchester on this question to-day. This is his letterIn your speech in regard to the glove tax, I must say you are quite right in asking why it took the Federation of Cotton Spinners six months to make up their minds to oppose the Measure. I do not believe it will cause the slightest unemployment in Lancashire. I asked a Saxon glove manufacturer if he could buy his yarn elsewhere, and he said, 'Certainly nut. It would make no difference at all. Only 15 per cent. of yarn exported comes back in fabric gloves, and this tariff will not stop us buying Saxon fabric gloves. We are placing orders now plus 33⅓ per cent., for next spring season.'The 'Manchester Guardian' talks about the effect of this tariff being the shutting out of German gloves. It will do nothing of the sort. There will be just as much yarn to-day in Lancashire for export. There should be more yarn bought in England.That letter is dated 26th July. Whether the fear that has been expressed in regard to the fine cotton spinning trade in Lancashire about the reduction in their business or not is justified, it probably would be as well to consider the position of our industry at the present time, and as to what happened when the question of running short time was discussed so recently as Friday last. There was a resolution carried unanimously that the whole of the American section of the cotton-spinning trade should reduce their production by 48 hours between now and the end of August. It was first of all moved that that should apply also to the fine cotton-spinning trade. That was immediately turned down. Why? Was it because a reduction in demand had already taken place, or was it because the demand was so good that they did not now need to consider short time? Surely we should consider these things as a whole and not 1137 be drawn into the habit of thinking that because a comparison is exaggerated, that it is, therefore, quite correct.
We have been told that the best way to defeat a tariff is to adopt the policy that we have done in the past of free imports. I used to think that that was a sound principle. I have taken the liberty, as others have done, of changing my views, because of the dislocation in trade. Though it might be true that in the long run free imports would be the best to get over hostile tariffs, the dislocation of trade and the unemployment would be so great that I would rather not have free imports, and rather have some system whereby we could carry on our trade under fair conditions. If people who are engaged in industry believe what they say, that free imports is the best system, I wonder why they build mills, as the Fine Cotton Spinners' Association have done, in France to carry on their business? Surely if it be a fact that free imports is the best policy there can be no question whatever for taking their machinery away from this country to another one.
I will finish by referring to the economic side of the matter. I read an article the other day by one who is understood to be a great economist, Mr. Harold Cox. He stated that it was a very good thing for us to receive cheap steel into this country, because it would allow us to send out to the East cotton-spinning machinery. I thought I would like to follow that argument a little further. Take a certain machine going to the East from Manchester. A ring spinning frame has 420 spindles. The cost would be £840. It would last in the ordinary way for 20 years. But allow that machine to remain in Oldham for cotton spinning and 420 lbs. value £40 of yarn spun by it per week would run to about £2,000 a year. That would go on for 20 years and not be confined to one year. I put that in comparison to the advantage gained by the import of cheap steel. It is on these grounds, because I think that this Order ought not only to be put into force now, but that the putting of it into force has been tardy, that I shall support the Government as strongly as I can.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. D. IRVING
I would not have ventured to intervene in this Debate in the ordinary sense but for one or two reasons. There is little encouragement 1138 for one to intervene, for my experience in this House so far has led me to the conclusion that you may talk for a long time with very little result. I have no hesitation in saying that we might talk about this question from now to to-morrow with no effect, for it was settled before we commenced the discussion to-day. In any case my judgment on matters of the sort is that if we could not settle this discussion within, say, about three hours from its commencement, and have done it in a sober fashion, then we are all fit for the lunatic asylum. Hence it is no desire to speak on my part that has brought me to my feet; it is rather against my inclination.
After all, I represent a cotton constituency in Lancashire. I could not help thinking, when the hon. Gentleman opposite was expressing his beliefs from outside Lancashire as to what was the opinion inside Lancashire, that I should like him to come to my constituency, which is not a spinning constituency, but a large weaving centre, and express his beliefs there. If they did not convert him in Burnley, he might move on to Bolton, and I will venture to say that, if he still remained of the same opinion, that it is probable he would not be in a fit condition to give expression to his opinion at all for some time to come. I have been listening with some little amazement to the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Greenwood), who seems to forget that the position that he holds to-day is the outcome of the very policy that he has just been condemning. The position he holds cannot be imagined to be the primary result of his own work, experiment and cleverness. It has resulted from the building up of the organisation of trade, which is preeminent throughout the world, and has been built up wholly and entirely upon the basis of Free Trade and against Protection. The hon. Member is not entitled to flout the thing which has brought him into the position he now holds.
My constituency is a weaving centre. It has been said—whether with truth or otherwise, I do not quite know—that it is the largest weaving centre in the world. I know that it is sometimes tested from the point of view, for instance, of Blackburn. I am happy to say, having 1139 heard the right hon. Member for Blackburn this afternoon, that in this matter Burnley and Blackburn are at one. Although they are not so directly interested in this particular aspect of the question as the spinning section of the trade, they are wholeheartedly at one with practically the whole trade; and the few exceptions only prove the rule. One case we have been listening to. The weaving centres in the cotton trade are at one with the trade as a whole in resisting with all the power that they possibly could bring to bear upon it the proposal the Government are asking us to accept to-night. It is probable that before this Debate ends, or at its ending, that for the moment the Government will win. Let me say this: there has been a tradition existing from my boyhood in regard to Lancashire that is not yet played out. Boastful though it may seem, there is an underlying basis on which that tradition is built up, and it is, "What Lancashire thinks to-day, England will do to-morrow." How does a tradition like that come in and exist for a generation? It may be thought by some to be an exaggeration, but it has a foundation which the past has not upset, and the future is not likely to do. You may win for the moment. This is viewed by Lancashire not in its present form but as a, beginning of a fight for Protection to be instituted in this country against, the principles of Free Trade, upon which the Lancashire cotton trade has been built up, and in the long run Lancashire will beat you, whatever you may do.
I listened with some amusement to the President of the Board of Trade when he introduced this proposal. That amusement was added to when I listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Sonar Law). Here is the position. Despite the "odd man out," Lancashire as a whole throughout the whole of its organisations has put before this House, by means of deputations, articles in the newspapers, and circulars, its point of view on this particular question. Almost wholly that trade is unanimous in its opinion and judgment that this proposal, small as it may be in the beginning, is destined to have very much greater and very evil results upon the trade by which they exist. Opinions have been put forth by two right hon. Gentlemen, one a 1140 Cabinet Minister and the other an ex-Cabinet Minister, and I would like to say, as against that opinion, what do they know about the Lancashire cotton trade? They may hold an exalted political position, but I will guarantee that in one town I know, and which I represent, I can find a score of men, any one of whom would give both these right hon. Gentlement points, and on a cotton question beat them handsomely.
Take the evidence given by those whom I am criticising. They do not say that the men in control and directing the cotton trade have no judgment and no experience. On the contrary, they paid them the most fulsome compliments. They gave them credit for having a high average of intelligence, not merely based upon their testimony but grounded upon the fact that they had made the Lancashire cotton industry the premier cotton industry in the whole world. I ask any sane man to compare the judgment of these two right hon. Gentlemen, who may, as advocates, know something about all trades when they get into Court, and they may be able to make up an intellectual case against the cotton trade, but where is the man who is going to back that opinion against the opinion of the overwhelming percentage of cotton trade experts, who make Their livelihood by it, and whose knowledge of the trade, which they have brought into being, is beyond dispute. Anybody would back the cotton trade manufacturer in regard to this matter.
The main thing I want to say is, that, as I speak for Burnley and its area, and know the cotton-weaving area all around me, while we do not expect to be particularly hit immediately by any proposal of this kind, the fact is, that in the town which I have the honour to represent, they are not all Socialists, although I am a Socialist myself. I am sometimes puzzled with the kind of economics which I hear preached from the benches opposite with such an air of superiority. I am inclined to think, as a whole, that, really, their economies are not economics at all, but a capita list presentation of them. I might be open to the reverse charge that my point of view is a Socialist point of vine of economics. I grant, that, but I commenced to study economics, at least, before some of my opponents were born, and I have been at it ever since, and I have judged this 1141 question by facts and not so much by opinions. It is Socialism that has proved how fallacious has been the other views. The result of your economics to-day was prophesied by us 40 years ago. [An Hon. MEMBER: "What about Russia?") In my constituency there are a very large number of Liberals, but less than there used to be. There are a number of Tories, and their number is less than they were some time ago. On the other hand, there are thousands more Socialists in Burnley to-day than there were when I first went there, and that is a considerable number of years ago.
I have not been made a Cabinet Minister, although that might happen before long. I want to put it to hon. Members with all seriousness that here are three main bodies of opinion, all having a very large representation in Burnley, and what is true of my town is true of Lancashire as a whole. The fact is that on this question there is neither Socialist, Tory, nor Liberal, but they are cotton operatives and cotton manufacturers united in their defence of the trade whereby they get their livelihood, not only to their own advantage, but to the advantage of the community in which they live, and their opinion is worthy of more consideration than it appears to be getting in this House.
§ Mr. G. TERRELL
The hon. Member who has just sat down has discussed this question from the Socialistic point of view, and he also enlarged upon it from the cotton industry point of view. There is one outstanding feature of Socialistic economies which I think must appeal to everyone here, and that is the disastrous failure which has resulted from the operation of those principles when put into practice in Russia. I think that is a glaring example of how utterly wrong are Socialistic methods. I am not, however, going to be drawn into a discussion on Russian politics. I want to keep the Debate to the Safeguarding of Industries Act, and particularly to the question of fabric gloves. The object is to put Part II of this Act into operation in regard to a certain minor industry. When this Act was before the House, when it was going through its various stages here, it was only considered from the point of view of minor industries, because it was felt that an Act framed on these lines could not be made applicable to the great industries of this country. The great 1142 majority of hon. Members were impressed by the fact that during the past two or three years a vast quantity of material had been coming from Germany, and goods which in the Customs House Returns were valued at approximately £20,000,000 year, we had more or less evidence, were being retailed in this country at vast profits to the importers. It was not that they were sold at a profit ranging from 20 to 50 per cent., but these German goods of the value of £20,000,000 were retailed in this country for about £80,000,000, and that profit was made, between the purchase price and the sale price.
Their policy was never to go right down under the English price, and to sell the goods at a fair margin of profit, but they always followed the English market down and made the industry in this country impossible. We have evidence of that. It was quoted in the House again and again. It was undeniable. There was the case of the piano to which I have often referred—the German piano which was imported for about £30, which paid a small export duty and some duty on musical instruments and was sold in this country for just over £100 always in competition with the British article which cost about £70. There was also ample evidence that the importers of these goods were to a very large extent able to escape all taxation. Taking these circumstances into account it was only reasonable to expect that there would be a very vigorous opposition in this House when any attempt was made to interfere with their little game. We had that opposition. The Bill was fought at all its stages tooth and nail. The first opposition came from the importers, then the Bill became law and Committees were set up by the Board of Trade. It was rather curious, I am told, that on some of the Committees opposition to the application of Part II of this Act came from witnesses who could not even speak the English language. In one case a number of witnesses were called, and only two of them could speak English, and one had to have an interpretor.
This was the sort of evidence that was tendered to prove that the application of this Act to a particular industry would he harmful to our country! That went on, and then we had the information—and this applies particularly to fabric gloves—that Australasia is excluding all German goods, while we are admitting 1143 them free of all duty up to the present. Then the opposition was reinforced by the political Free Traders in the country, who thought that this was an opportunity to gain a little political prestige, and so, by joining hands with the importers, they started an agitation in opposition to this Measure. They have been most extraordinarily successful in alarming Lancashire. They have made the hair of the sturdy Lancashire worker in all sections of the textile industry simply stand on end. Lancashire hardly knows where she is. She is thoroughly alarmed. There are all kinds of influences at work in order to endeavour to defeat the operation of this Bill. My right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) has made a most interesting speech. This is one of the few occasions when he comes here and speaks and then goes away from the House. Some hon. Members, judging from their interruptions, think that this House is a meeting of the Trades Union Congress. They all desire to speak at once. I do not want to speak at length. I want to put in as simple and. concise a form as I possibly can the opinions which I entertain on this question.
The right hon. Gentleman called attention to the impossibility of balancing, or should I say compensating, the collapsed exchanges by a fixed Customs duty. He quoted the instance of the German exchange having jumped from 1,000 to 3,000 in a comparatively short space of time, and he pointed out that a 33⅓ per cent. duty would not compensate an exchange which was moving in that manner. That may be perfectly true. But it does to some extent compensate, because, according to the external collapse of the exchange, the internal value of the mark depreciates. There is always, as regards the relation between Germany and this country, the double value of the mark constantly retained. There is always an enormous difference between the internal and the external value of the mark. If hon. Members will follow that argument, if they will study the question, they would see how it is impossible for British labour to compete against German labour. In the fabric glove industry we have the illustration that the German is paid a piece-rate of 90 marks, which had an internal value of something like 7s. 6d. in Germany, but which had an external value—an 1144 exchange value—of under 2s. That piece-rate was in competition with the British piece-rate of 7s. 9d. It was a question of the state of the industry; if the industry prospered and was able to compete under those conditions, the workers would be in employment. Unfortunately, British labour cannot possibly compete against German labour under those conditions, and therefore, instead of 11,000 people being employed in the fabric glove industry, to-day only 2,000 are employed and the rest have gone out of work.
§ Mr. TERRELL
I do not think the hon. Member can have followed my remarks, because the conditions, as I have said, are that British labour is being remunerated at the rate of 78. 9d. for piece work in competition with German labour which, at the exchange rate, was under 2s.
§ Mr. TERRELL
It is in consequence of the double value of the German mark. That is the deliberate act of the German Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] How was it that those conditions do not apply to any other country? They have been stated in this House, again and again the double value has been proved by the Statistical Department of the Government, again and again. There are still some hon. Members in the House who have little connection with trade or industry, and who do not understand that.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Edwin Cornwall)
I would suggest to the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Terrell) that he should take no notice of such a remark as that.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Irving) has had his opportunity. He too frequently interrupts.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
He made his speech, and was not interrupted. He should not interrupt the hon. Member for Chippenham.
§ Mr. TERRELL
That is how the exchanges affect industry in this country. There is not the slightest doubt—it has been said again and again, I think, without contradiction—that the great agitation which is going on in this country is not only organised by the importers and retailers in this country, but also has German assistance behind it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] We cannot allow Germany to go to war and, when she has lost the War, not to pay the bill, but still to continue to hold her trade. After all, that is what this means. Many of the speeches which have been delivered this afternoon have been extremely sympathetic towards Germany. It is looked upon as a grievance that, if this Act is made operative, as it will be to-night, it will affect German trade, so far as German exports to this country are concerned. If it is not immediately effective, I have not the slightest doubt that the House, having once attempted to deal with the problem, will amend the Act and will continue and persevere until British trade generally is put on an equality with the German manufacturer.
The Debate, so far, has shown an overwhelming case for an Order being made. The fears which have been expressed are not founded on any substance. There is no definite case that any material damage will be done to Lancashire. I should regret anything that interfered with our great textile industry. The hon. Member for Middleton (Sir R. Adkins) described his Lancashire fellow county-men as being men of the most profound business experience. He said that they had a highly-organised industry, and, in fact, that they were great, strong, sturdy men, the salt of the industrial world.
§ Mr. TERRELL
These great, strong, sturdy men were scared to death at the thought of what might happen to them if this Act became operative. The hon. Gentleman quoted some very modest lines which had appeared at the head of a certain pamphlet, which I partly prepared, from Tennyson. I know that those lines were perhaps a little provocative, but I felt that in dealing with this matter one really had to take one's gloves off and tackle the problem as being really highly contentious and as carrying us back to the old pre-War days of Free Trade versus Protection. I felt the whole conflict would be raised in the House this evening, in its old, most acute, and most bitter form. I can quite understand many hon. Members being annoyed at what is happening to-day. They have been accustomed to argue on their local platforms that the War was won by Free Trade, and they are rather alarmed lest those old pre-War theories may receive a very rude shock. They will find, when the Order is made, as it is going to be made to-night, that the fabric glove trade will revive, that no injury whatever will be done to Lancashire, and that unemployment in the fabric glove industry will decrease.
§ Mr. TERRELL
A couple of years ago 11,000 people were engaged in it, and today there are less than 2,000. The other 9,000 have gone out of work. They may have found other jobs, but it is a very sad thing for our country that we have such a huge mass of unemployment, and that we are paying millions of pounds a year in unemployment doles for people who have lost their jobs, not through any fault of their own, but owing to the stupid, old-fashioned theories of Free Trade. A lot of hon. Members are shivering about their seats; Lancashire Members, in particular, are shivering. In my opinion, a man who shivers about his seat deserves to lose his seat. He will probably do so. All of us in this Parliament who accepted the 1147 coupon are pledged to consider this subject without. reference to the pre-War theories of Free Trade. That was the definite pledge which was given by the Prime Minister, and which was accepted by the vast majority of the Members of this House. They were elected on that definite understanding, and I venture to think that, if hon Members think to-night that it may be convenient to forget those pledges, the country will not forget them. The country will not forget that they were returned to this Parliament pledged to handle this question of German imports, which the Prime Minister foresaw, and which, in his election speeches, he suggested might hamper industry and trade in this country. I remember one of those speeches in which he said that we should never allow Germany to pay a high indemnity by dumping cheap goods in this country to the detriment of our industry. That is the question which we have to face tonight, and I venture to think that, if hon. Members forget the pledges which they either gave or accepted as a condition of their return at the last General Election, the constituencies, when the next General Election comes, will not have the short memories which hon. Members think they may have.
§ Mr. MOSLEY
My hon. Friend who has just sat down has referred to election pledges. I should be interested to know in what part of the Manifesto issued by the Prime Minister any reference was made to the dumping of cheap products in this country through the depreciation of exchanges. It is quite true that that Manifesto referred to the deliberate dumping of cheap goods in this country at a price lower than the cost of production in the country of origin; but no one of whom I am aware foreshadowed at the time of the General Election any Measure to prevent an influx of cheap goods into this country through the depreciation of exchanges.
§ Mr. TERRELL
May I interrupt the hon. Member for a moment? I am quoting from a speech of the Prime Minister which was delivered on the 29th November, 1918, at Newcastle, in which he said.Whatever happens, Germany is not to pay the indemnity by merely dumping cheap German goods upon us and other countries.
§ Mr. MOSLEY
The official definition of dumping at the time of the election was carefully explained in the letter which the Prime Minister wrote. It was that dumping was a subsidised process of selling goods in this country at a price lower than the cost of production in the country of origin. Certainly no one at that time foresaw the depreciation of exchanges, affording this bounty on exchanges which the Government claims now exist. Therefore any hon. Member of this House is free to consider the particular question which we are now discussing without relation to anything that occurred at the time of the General Election. I think that the hon. Gentleman may be easily pardoned for excitement, or even distortion of facts, because there is no more disappointed man in this House or in the country to-day than the hon. Member for Chippenhazn.
§ Mr. MOSLEY
He admits, as he did during the passage of the Bill, that it really is a Measure which is very inadequate to his requirements, a poor little thing which may give some slight compensation for the pa at attack upon British industry, but which is quite incompetent to perform those wider purposes which he has in view, and which he desires to see embodied in legislation. It was explained to us earlier in the Debate by a colleague of his who comes from Lancashire, the hon. and learned Member for Moss Side (Lieut.-Colonel Hurst), who also embraced, as I understood, the whole Protectionist faith, that those of his school of thought could not expect anything very much better than the Measure which we are now discussing, because it was the result of a compromise in which his side, the Conservative party, had come out rather the best. He explained to the House that some of his constituents had not altogether liked some of the doings of the Government—that the honours question, in particular, was rather offensive to some of his Conservative friends. But he was able to placate those dissentients in his constituency by saying, "Well, after all, the Coalition Liberals have given way on the subject of fabric gloves"; and so we have arrived at this glorious moment in the history of our race when the Coalition Liberals have made a noble and heroic sacrifice on the 1149 question of fabric gloves in order to make the Honours Lists permanently safe fur profiteers. I felicitate the hon. and learned Member for Moss Side on the progress of the Coalition conception, and on that general stability and equilibrium of the State which is so manifestly maintained.
The hon. Member and others—I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow was betrayed into some remark of the kind—invited us to consider this question with a mind detached from any preconception or economic theory. At a moment of gravest economic crisis, we are to surrender entirely any thought of the wisdom or the science which the ages have bequeathed to us, and, in the spirit of men in a panic at the result of their own blunders, to rush to any expedient, ignoring completely the profound principles on which our past policy has been adopted. I am quite willing to consider the proposals of the Government in a spirit altogether remote from economic theory. I think that, when a thoroughly foolish thesis is advanced, it is, perhaps, better to select the battlefield of one's opponent rather than the stronger and truer ground of economic fact. If we do accept the battlefield of the Government, what is the result of an examination of their own theory as it works out in the practice of this Measure, and of this Order, in particular? The theory of Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act was that a certain adventitious advantage was afforded to certain countries with depreciated exchanges, owing to the difference between the external and the internal value of their currency. Accordingly, the Government proposed to impose a duty of 33⅓ per cent., with a view to compensating exactly the English trader for the advantage which is derived on his exchange by the German. At the time of the passage of this Measure, the mark stood at 250 to the £. Wild fluctuations followed throughout the year which has elapsed since the passage of the Bill. In January last, when a Committee was set up to consider the whole of this question, the mark stood at something like 750 to the £. That Committee, in its recommendations, assumed that the then existing conditions would persist, but since then the mark, in a further series of wild fluctuations, has deteriorated until to-day, when it stands at 3,000 to the £. Does 1150 even the President of the Board of Trade seriously claim that, throughout the period of those fluctuations, the difference between the external and the internal values of German currency remained constant? Does he claim that, if such conditions continue in the future, a 33⅓ per cent. duty would be equally effective to prevent an influx of German goods into this country? In imposing a stationary standard such as this to meet a danger which must inevitably be fluctuating and must continue to vary from day to day, the right hon. Gentleman might as well try to measure the flight of a butterfly with a two-foot rule, for that is what it amounts to to impose a flat-rate duty to meet a fluctuating exchange. If we assume for a moment that the duty will afford an exact compensation to it when the exchange fluctuates one way, then at once a measure of Protection is afforded, which the right hon. Gentleman claims is not intended. If, on the other hand, it fluctuates the other way, the duty is quite impotent to keep out the German goods against which it is designed to give protection. How can a fixed standard of this kind, even on the Government's thesis, be effective to maintain the purposes for which it was devised?
On the specific point of fabric gloves, why on earth were fabric gloves, of all commodities, selected for the first Order of this kind? The only reason I can think of is that a proper test would be to put to the faith of some Gentlemen who had supported this Bill in the optimistic belief that nothing serious would ever happen. We have seen the result in certain Members who sit for Lancashire constituencies, and who took no very prominent part in the Debates in opposition to this Measure when it was introduced, but who have come down to-day with great fulminations and indignation against the proposal of the Government when they realise that it was really intended. Unless the right hon. Gentleman proposed really to test the opinion of certain followers of the Government in the malicious spirit which, I think, was ascribed to him by certain organs of the daily Press, I cannot conceive why he selected fabric gloves of all industries, for fabric gloves is obviously not one of those industries which would benefit most from any advantage derived from the exchange, for the reason that 1151 they have to buy their raw material outside Germany. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) instanced the German iron and steel trade, and said that so far it had not been able to make effective competition in this country.
On the thesis of the Government there is far more reason for this trade to ask for protection against exchange competition than the trade of fabric gloves, for the reason that the raw materials of their competitors are largely contained in Germany. [Interruption.] I know that many of the great German resources in iron ore have been removed by the Treaty of Versailles, but there are still considerable resources of that kind, while in the case of fabric gloves the entire raw material has to be purchased outside that country. This goes to show that fabric gloves is not one of those industries which have naturally derived great advantage from the exchange. In fact when it buys its raw material outside, the exchange operates against it, and therefore the power of the fabric glove industry to put gloves on our market at such very cheap rates must rest to a great extent on superior efficiency. If the exchange benefited industry to the extent that is claimed by the Government, we should find a great competition from their iron and steel industry and not so much competition from fabric gloves. As a matter of fact, we find fabric gloves in much the best position of these industries. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow in an elaborate argument sought to prove that there were no other markets in which the makers of fabric gloves in Germany could purchase their yarn, and he advanced the argument that because France and Switzerland and other countries imposed duties on the import of their gloves, therefore Germany was unable to buy yarn in those countries. That is quite true. At present France and Switzerland have the duties, and we have the trade. That perhaps is one of the reasons why Germany is able to buy yarn in this country, because they are able to sell their gloves without impediment in this country. The more difficult we make it for them to sell gloves in this country the less likely they are to buy our yarn, and, conversely, the easier we make it for them 1152 to sell their gloves, the more likely they are to buy our yarn.
There is one point which has not been touched upon in this Debate. The Report which was issued in January last on fabric gloves states:German fabric gloves are sold or offered for sale at prices 25 per cent. or more less than the cost at which similar goods can at present be produced in this country.If they are placed on the market at 25 per cent. less than the English cost of production what is to prevent the German importer putting up his prices to cover practically the entire cost of this duty and yet to undercut his English competitors? At the time this Report was presented the mark stood at 750 and it has now deteriorated to 3,000, so if the thesis of the Government be in any way correct, a greater advantage must now accrue to the German importer than at present exists. We are surely in this dilemma: either the German is in a position to raise his prices and to make the English consumer pay, if what the Report of the Government. Committee says is correct, or, on the other hand, he is not in a position to raise his prices—he has no margin of price. But in that case the German glove trade in this country is either handicapped or excluded and the yarn trade of this country proportionately deteriorates. I think the Government have failed to make out any case for running the risk, and the grave risk of damaging a great industry for the sake of a small industry. They fail to meet the case against them not only on the grounds of economic theory, which have been advanced and have not been refuted, but they fail also if their own thesis is adopted and tested as a practical Measure. Further, they fail fundamentally in that by Orders and Measures of this kind they are undermining the whole position which they are striving to adopt in European affairs. The Prime Minister goes to The Hague and to Genoa and advances a great argument for Free Trade. He comes back to this country and sends his Ministers to the House of Commons to impose Protective duties of this kind. For the sake of a paltry Measure such as this, which does not even please his Protectionist friends, the right hon. Gentleman is confronting himself with a retort from every European country which it is quite impossible for him to answer. Further, he is aggra- 1153 vating and perpetuating the very economic difficulties in Europe which he is striving to surmount.
Assuming that this Measure is in any way effective, what can be the only conceivable result? It is merely further to depress the condition of countries with depreciated exchanges. It will further depress their exchanges. Then, according to the thesis of this Measure, the goods which they export to this country can come in yet cheaper. You then have to elevate once again your tariff barrier to keep out the flood of yet cheaper goods, and at last you find a great nation such as ours reduced to the ridiculous position of a dog trying to chase and failing to catch its own tail. For the sake of a ridiculous Measure such as this we are undermining our whole position in Europe. We are sowing the seeds of future failure when we try to secure European peace and a real settlement of our difficulties, and the breaking down of economic barriers, and in addition we are perpetuating those very evils against which we are now striving. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman and the Government will before long, under the force of public opinion and pressure, for that is the only instrument which I expect to be effective in this matter, reconsider the Measure which they are bringing forward to-night.
Sir P. LLOYD-GEAME (Secretary, Overseas Trade Department)
The Debate on this Amendment has ranged over a very wide field, and not the least in range has been the speech of the hon. Member for Harrow (Mr. Mosley). The House will agree that, although the Debate has been very wide and general, the issue on this Order lies in a very small compass. Practically all the arguments which have been advanced against the Order were answered in the extremely lucid speech of the right hon. Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law). Not only were the arguments adequately answered in my right hon. Friend's speech, but the arguments which have been advanced against the Order were themselves largely answered in the speeches of our opponents, because, to a very great extent, the arguments were inconsistent and mutually destructive. Hon. and right hon. Members opposite must decide which horse they are going to ride.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
The Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord H. Cecil) is prepared to make a selection out of almost any stable, but in this case I do not think he has backed the winner. In the first place, the argument has been raised that this is so small a matter that it is really not worth troubling about. Against that, it is argued that the issues raised by the Order are so grave and so serious that the House must pause long before it comes to a. decision. Again, it is argued that the Order in this case is unnecessary, because the prices at which the German articles are being sold have been steadily rising. An argument based on the fact that. German prices are rising and that therefore the Order is unnecessary, is wholly inconsistent with the further argument which has been advanced, namely, that the duty of 33⅓ cent. is wholly inadequate to meet the further collapse in the exchange. HON. Members cannot have both these arguments.
To a large extent, the arguments which have been directed to the duty as in the nature of a compensating duty on exchange have been fallacious, because they disregard what is the character of an exchange bounty and what is the object of a duty. A bounty which is caused by depreciated exchange does not, as some hon. Members persist in asking us to believe, vary necessarily with the extent to which the exchange has depreciated. It depends entirely upon one thing, and that is, the difference between the external and the internal values of the currency at that particular moment. The same bounty may exist perfectly well whether the exchange has depreciated 10 times or 100 times. It is simply a case of the difference between the internal and the external value. Therefore, on merits, there is really no truth in the argument that you must have a duty to he accurate which varies with each variation in the exchange. On merits, there is nothing to be said for that. When you come to the practical consideration, there is disadvantage in having a duty which varies with every variation of the exchange.
§ [The Minister of Health (Sir Alfred Mond) entered the House.]1155
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
I think the findings of the Committee have shown how extraordinarily wise was the advice which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health has so often tendered to hon. Members opposite. Let me take another inconsistency. First of all, exception was taken because the Committee had riot considered the Lancashire case. It was said that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade ought not to make an Order so long as the Committee excluded evidence in regard to the Lancashire case. That same Committee was then invited to consider the Lancashire case. They considered it exhaustively, heard evidence, and made their Report. It was a Committee absolutely independent and absolutely impartial, and to suggest now that that Committee was not competent or was not impartial is really doing a great injustice both to the personnel, the character, and the capacity of the Committee. The Committee inquired into the case fully, and made their Report. I should have thought that if hon. Members opposite had been so anxious that the Committee should hear the Lancashire case, when they had made their Report upon it they would have paid attention to the findings of that Committee. What do we find?
The right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) said that we must disregard the findings of the Committee and listen to the considered and unanimous opinion of the Lancashire cotton trade. From some of the speeches delivered to-night, it is clear, to say the least of it, that Lancashire is not unanimous in this matter. I want to know how far the right hon. Member for Paisley is prepared to carry this argument and this principle. Are we—in all cases where this House has to come to a decision, where the Government has to take a decision and come to the House for authority—to accent the considered opinion of the particular trade which is concerned? If so, why the cotton trade rather than the glove trade'? How far are we to carry that principle? If the right hon Member for Paisley ever again becomes the Prime Minister he may have to deal with licensing legislation. In that ease he will have to concern himself with liquor duties. What will he do then? Is he going to get the united and unanimous opinion of the brewing trade upon what ought to be the licensing 1156 legislation and the extent of the duties? If not, why not? The hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) said that we have got to take the opinion of the cotton trade in this matter, because the cotton trade can give points to any Cabinet Minister on matters connected with the cotton industry.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
I beg the hon. Member's pardon. It was the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Irving) who said it. The brewer can give points to my right hon. Friend and myself as to how to manufacture beer. I do not think for that reason that he should necessarily be established as a judge on his own case. Surely, when this House has set up an impartial Committee to go into the facts of the case, the Report of that Committee is entitled to some consideration, and this House is not entitled to decide on the ex parte statements of either of the interested parties. It is the duty of the House to ascertain first where the real merits of the case are, and then to decide without fear and without prejudice—
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
That appears to me to be rather a cheap observation. The hon. Member has been in the House a great deal longer than I, and he knows that, when the Government come to a decision on a question of policy, it has been the common practice to put on the Government Whips to tell in a Division which involves a question of Government policy.
§ Mr. FRANCE
The interjection was drawn from me only by the appeal which the hon. Member made that this question might be decided without prejudice on its merits. What on earth have Whips to do with either its merits or the question of deciding it without prejudice? [HON. MEMBERS "Politics!"]
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
The House is capable of deciding this case. The hon. Member will vote according to his conscience and other Members will do the same. On the facts, the Committee could have come to no other conclusion. First, take the question of quality. I cannot understand why some hon. Members 1157 always insist on saying that the quality of a thing which is of British manufacture is inferior to the quality of that which is manufactured abroad. Some hon. Members start with a prejudice against anything which is British. They should first ascertain the findings of the Committee instead of deciding on à priori suggestions which might be made by one side or another. The finding of the Committee, not merely after hearing evidence and examining accounts and seeing how the industry was conducted, but after inspecting a very large number of these articles made both in this country and abroad, was that the industry in England was being carried on in an efficient manner, and that the quality was equal to that of any foreign articles that wore produced. Then the Committee have considered what is the effect of the exchange. The Committee, having heard evidence, found that the depreciated German exchange was operating to create a considerable bounty. If that is so, and if the House have passed this Act and laid down that it was to be applied in a ease of that kind where it is proved that the quality is adequate, that the manufacture is being efficiently conducted, and that the unemployment is serious, what is there more to be said?
I cannot understand the theory that in no circumstances, whatever happens, is any assistance to be afforded to any of these industries, however much they may be struggling against unfair competition caused by depreciated exchange. Nor can I see that it lies with Lancashire to say that in no case is State assistance to be given one way or another to these industries. Lancashire itself has been glad enough to take, and the Government have been glad to give, assistance to the cotton trade. £1,000,000 has been devoted to the Empire Cotton Growing Association. In those circumstances, when the Government have given money for that purpose, except on the principle that minorities must always suffer, I cannot see why this small but important industry— in these days 10,000 men in or out of employment does make a serious difference—should not obtain assistance to which it is entitled under the Act.
We are told that it is not entitled to this support because it is a new industry. In these days of unemployment, it is not 1158 to be urged against those who have started enterprises in this country that they established a new industry and therefore they are entitled to no support. I should have thought that the best thing they could do would be to come in and establish a new industry. As regards unemployment, no doubt there is very serious unemployment in these industries. The Committee have found that whereas in July, 1919, there were nearly 11,000 people employed in this industry, in September, 1921, the number had fallen to 1,744. The latest figures which have been collected by the association show that since then the increase in employment has been very small. What an irrelevant observation to say that, because miners are out of work in some parts of the country, therefore we should not do anything to stop other people being out of employment. This surely is carrying the policy of laissez faire to an extremity which I would not expect even from the Labour party.
Let me say a word about the argument that the Germans have raised the price of fabric gloves and that, therefore, a duty is unnecessary. What does that show? It does not show in the least that the bounty is less in existence than it was before. On the contrary. Plain common-sense will show that, with a quick depreciation in exchange, the bounty is at least as great as, and probably is greater than, it was before. It shows that the German exporter has been sensing the English market a little more accurately than he was sensing it before, and that he is charging a price a little nearer to the English cost of production than before. He has still a margin. That will make no difference to the consumer in this country. The only person to whom it will make a slight difference is the importer, who has pocketed the whole of the difference between the import price and the price at which he has sold to the consumer. The German has recently been having a rather larger share of that profit and the middleman has been taking a rather smaller profit. That may not be so pleasant for the middleman, but it is a matter of extreme irrelevance and indifference to the consumer in this country. In these circumstances, with serious employment, with efficient production, with a quality that is adequate, with an undoubted bounty existing by reason of the exchange, it was plain that the Com- 1159 mittee could not have come to any conclusion other than that to which they came, and that my right hon. Friend could not possibly have come to any other conclusion than to recommend the imposition of the duty to this House. unless he was satisfied, and this House was satisfied, that there was some over-riding reason, such as a greater danger to come to another and more important trade. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why did he take so long?"] Hon. Members opposite are very difficult to please. First they say that we must not make these Orders because we have not given them enough consideration. There were various Amendments on the Paper stating that, because so little consideration had been given to the critical issues involved, we ought to have another Select Committee to go into the question. Then an hon. Member, standing on the other leg of this rather truncated Free Trade policy, said, "You have delayed so long. Why have you given such long consideration to these proposals?"
The Lancashire case was entitled to be heard on its merits and to receive full consideration. It has received full consideration. What does the Lancashire case come to? I submit that unless we are satisfied that there is a real danger in the case put forward by Lancashire, there can be no possible question but that this Order ought to go through. I have read the whole of the Lancashire case submitted. I have heard the arguments put forward to-day in support of the Lancashire case. What are those arguments? They are two. The first argument is, that if this duty is put on the Germans will turn elsewhere for the purchase of their yarns and will no longer buy their yarns from this country. Those who advance that theory will admit that the Germans are at least very competent business men. I do not think you will find a German buyer cutting off his nose to spite his face. Nor do I think that you will find a German buyer buying yarn at a higher price in England if he can get it of as good quality and cheaper anywhere else. That has never been the experience of anybody who has done business with Germans in the past, and I do not think that Germans, at the present moment, are likely to have any very strong senti- 1160 mental reasons for not buying in the cheapest market, if they can get the goods they want.
Then, we are told the Germans would be so hurt by our perfidy in pursuing on a very small scale a policy which they themselves have pursued on a complete scale for the past 40 or 50 years, that they would turn away from us to buy from other sources. From what sources? From France! Apart from Any other consideration, at the present moment there is a duty in France upon fabric gloves, which is not a modest duty of 33⅓ per cent. The hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) suggested that if I did not consider 33⅓ per cent. a high duty, I should give some idea of what. I did think a high duty. I will give him an example. The French duty on fabric gloves is a high one. It is 180 per cent. Yet it is seriously alleged that the German manufacturer is going to buy against this 180 per cent. tariff simply because a e have put on a tariff of 33⅓ per cent. Another quarter to which the German is to turn is to Switzerland. I well remember, in the course of the Genoa Conference, the Swiss representatives urging that they could not vote against a system of prohibition and licence because they had to keep the right to have prohibition with licence against Germany, in order to prevent their market being flooded out by German goods. [HON. MEMBERS: "Did you vote against it?"] As a matter of fact, I was proposing a general most-favoured-nation Clause all round at the time. I am not criticising their policy. I daresay it is quite right, but their policy was that they must keep the system of prohibition and licence going against Germany. Yet these are the people to whom Germany is going to turn because we have put on a 33⅓ per cent. duty. Wherever you look you find these tariffs against. Germany, and many countries have raised them enormously.
I submit that the Committee were perfectly right in their finding; that. it was a finding in accordance with common sense and the only finding they could come to as business men, as every Lancashire business man in his heart knows to-day—that Germany is going to buy in the market that suits her best, whatever any other country may do. If that be so, I would commend the further thought that if there should be a risk in the future that other markets may grow up which 1161 can supply yarn as cheap as, or cheaper than Lancashire—and if Germany is likely to be able at some future date to herself supply the yarn in increasing quantities, she certainly will not be deterred from doing that by our having or not having a duty—but if there should be a real risk of that in the future, is it not the very best thing for Lancashire, that a trade should grow up in this country which in the future, not for one year or two years, but right through the future, will go on increasingly using this yarn? I have only one other point which deals with the other side of the Lancashire case. It is said that if this duty be imposed Germany will not have the sterling credits with which to buy the yarn which is exported from Lancashire into Germany. I am repeating an argument already used when I say it is an extraordinary thing that £650,000 worth of imports can supply the credit to pay for £3,500,000 worth of yarn. Therefore, the bulk of these credits which go to buy yarn must come from somewhere quite different. Supposing it were possible for Germany to have bought her yarns in some other country with a lower exchange than England, of course she could use the English currency and credit which she had in order to buy that foreign yarn in the cheaper market.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
The hon. Member who interrupts is not a particular authority on currency questions, and possibly will allow the House to follow my arguments. Apart from that, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow said, the foreign currency is a general pool, and does not work in the isolated way that has been suggested. But let me put another consideration to the House, which has not been raised. Do they really think that if this duty be put on, there is not going to be enough foreign balances for Germany to buy £3,500,000 worth of yarn? What is half the difficulty of the reparation question at the present moment? What is the great difficulty with which we are confronted in dealing with Germany? It is a well-known fact that the Germans have piled up millions and millions of pounds' worth of foreign balances in different countries. Every neutral country at present is full of German balances which have been piled 1162 up. They have been estimated at anything from two hundred millions upward, and if it be a fact that there are enormous German balances in foreign countries all over the world, it is ludicrous to suppose that there is going to be a failure to find the necessary credit to pay for the £3,500,000 worth of yarn a year in the next two years during which this duty will be in operation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley said that in life we must act upon a balance of probabilities—I accept that entirely—and that we must not act upon ex cathedrá pronouncements. But in this matter, if the House looks at it fairly, on which side is the argument and the balance of probabilities and on which side are to be found the ex cathedrá pronouncements? Anyone who reads the Reports of the Committee, anyone who has heard this Debate, must come to the conclusion that if there be any ex cathedrá arguments, they have come from hon. Members opposite in support of a case which, admittedly, is only founded upon a fear, and an unsupported fear, and that the whole of the arguments are in favour of the case which has been put forward by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. I ask the House to apply the test which the right hon. Member for Paisley has asked them to apply, to consider where is the balance of probabilities, and I feel convinced-that if the House applies that test, it will with certainty affirm the decision of the Committee in this matter.
Captain W. SENN
There are a great many interesting observations which must, have occurred to anybody who has watched the Debate to-day. First of all, there is the appearance of the Treasury Bench itself. The array of distinction and ability which has been displayed on that bench to-day has all been of one particular colour. It is quite, evident, from the look of the Treasury Bench, that to-day the Government is standing upon its Conservative leg. We are delighted to see the appearance, though late, of the great champion of Free Trade, the Minister of Health. We are not only pleased to see him for his own sake, and for the great ability which he has always brought to bear in these Debates, but we are particularly glad because a Coalition-Liberal for a Welsh seat is a thing that is becoming 1163 impossible. We wonder where is the wholehearted and full-blooded supporter of Free Trade in the person of the Home Secretary. We wonder where the Colonial Secretary is. He stands where he always stood, but not here. We wonder where the Prime Minister is. The Prime Minister's intervention in the Safeguarding of Industries Debates seems to be confined to private audiences with recalcitrant followers, who are told that they have got to vote, because that is the price they have to pay for Coalition-Conservative support. And we are told by the hon. Gentleman who has just finished his speech that this is a matter that we are to decide without prejudice, and without pressure, but, at the same time, the Government are going to put on their Whips.
§ Captain BENN
One reason is, because they are becoming increasingly few. Surely the Chancellor of the Exchequer has heard the result of the Pontypridd election. Has he not heard the latest news from the town of Bolton? Of the few Whips who are left, some are to be found, apparently, to tell in this Division. So much for general observations on the appearance of the Debate, and now for one or two comments on what the hon. Gentleman who has just resumed his seat has said. There is one point in dispute, namely, whether this Bill will hurt the Lancashire cotton trade. I say—and I think it is reasonable, and it has been said by every speaker on this side—the best judge of the prospects of the Lancashire cotton trade are the Lancashire cotton spinners. It is no good the hon. Gentleman saying he would not go to a brewer to ask him whether he was to pay a tax on beer. Certainly not. He would not go to a cotton spinner to ask whether to put a tax on cotton. But the best judge of the interests of that trade is the spinner himself. If the hon. Gentleman wanted to know about the interests of the brewing trade, he would go to a brewer. If he wanted to know about the interests of the cotton trade, he would go to a cotton spinner. He is the best judge. We have found £1,000,000 to help the cotton spinners to buy cotton, and, therefore, we are entitled to bring in a 1164 Bill to prevent their selling it. That is a sort of scheme of robbing Peter to pay Paul, which, I think, passes the comprehension of any ordinary person.
The hon. Gentleman dealt with the four questions which were put to the Committee, and he contended that the findings of the Committee should be final in this matter. My contention is that the Committee did not find a satisfactory answer to any of the four questions. The first question was as to price—were these things being sold at a price lower than the price at which they could profitably be manufactured in this country? What "profitably manufactured" means, I do not know. It is quite certain that when you shut out competition, the home producer will never admit that an article is being sold at a price which gives him an undue profit. But the real question is, What is the datum line? Are you taking the price of these things after the War, or are you taking the price before the War? If, as I think, you must take your datum line before the War, you will find that it is not denied that, whereas British gloves are twice the price they were before the War, German fabric gloves are two-and-a-half times, and therefore the argument that they are being sold at an unduly low price falls to the ground.
Similarly, the answer to the question of the competition, based upon the depreciated currency—it is totally unsatisfactory. Because, as the right hon. Gentleman my leader pointed out, it is impossible to say how much competition comes from these particular countries, and how much corms from other countries such as Beligum—I am thinking now of glass against which it is not proposed to make an Order. Moreover, it is a fact—I am taking the case of glass again —that while from Germany, where the exchange has fallen, the exports to this country have fallen, those from Czecho-Slovakia, where the exchange has risen, the exports have risen, and this seems to show that a deprecated exchange of itself cannot have been the determining factor.
Take the third question about employment being affected. What is the datum line from which the matter is reckoned? Is it the amount of tic employment in the War or before the War? Suppose you were to take the datum line during the War, where do you Lind yourself? The 1165 cotton trade itself was only permitted to work 60 per cent. of its power. If you take that datum line you would never be able to show it was suffering from unemployment, because you would be taking the artificial line of the War period. If, on the other hand, you take agriculture and the datum line in the War, it could always be shown to be suffering from unemployment, because agriculture was specially forced to produce during the War. The only line that you can take is the pre-War datum line, and if you take that you will find employment in this particular industry is very little affected. On the other hand, the unemployment which you may create in the cotton trade may be very grave. It is also charged to this trade that it has succeeded. It is always spoken of as if it were not making its own way. It is asking, not a favour from the State, but to be left alone to make its own profit in its own way. That is not a demand for any special favour, and in no sense comparable to the demand of the glove trade, or any other trade, to receive special favours at the hands of the State.
The cotton trade, indeed, cannot find its market in Germany. In 1913, 25 per cent. of its exports went to Germany, and in 1920 only 4 per cent.; in the next year 10 nor cent., and in the next year 16 per cent. But it is said that the trade is iniquitously regaining its foreign markets, so the Government come along, ignore the opinion of the trade, and propose to make the Order which they do propose. Surely, those concerned are the best= judges as to the grievous effect upon employment in that trade. The Government are doing this in the interests of the glove trade. I have put the question, once or twice, to the President of the Board of Trade, and asked what proof there was that there was some unemployment in. this little industry. Is it true to-day? Because, under Statute, it has to be satisfied that unemployment is "being" caused, not "was" caused last October or August, but is "being" caused. I understand, from statements that have been sent to me, that there is no unemployment, or, at any rate, it is diminishing to-day in the glove-making trade. One statement says: 1166English makers since the inquiry base experienced a boom: they have not been able to fulfil their orders up to time.Here is another extract from the letter of a glovemaker:We are very busy, working double-shift. Your humble servant till 10 p.m.That is some evidence. Owing to the delay it is doubtful whether the Order is being made upon evidence which is valid at the present time. As to employment in general, this Act has already been a stimulus to foreign countries to put up their tariffs against us. We cannot have it both ways, and you must expect other people to treat you as you treat them. In the case of France, there is no doubt that the passing of the Safeguarding of Industries Act last year stimulated the raising of the French tariffs, and it has been stated that the raising of the duties in Portugal was due in part to the passing of the same Act. There remains the fact that the Act was passed and these duties were raised. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite thinks that is a ridiculous argument, lout I have taken it from the "Liverpool Chamber of Commerce Journal." At any rate, we do know that as regards Czecho-Slovakia we have been unable to impose these duties there for fear of some retaliation which may be made.
I come to the fourth question which is put to the Committee and which the hon. Gentleman opposite says has been answered to the satisfaction of the Government, and it is as to whether the industry is efficient. What is the test? It cannot be a, number of gentlemen sitting round a table and examining a particular article placed before them. There is no test of the efficiency of an article except the market, and if it does not sell, it is not efficient. Supposing the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department proved to the Committee that he was the most efficient candidate, and he does not get in. The test of efficiency is that he is returned. I shall be very glad to hear what test there is of the efficiency of an article save the power to sell it. In the opinion of the Government, Lancashire is not a special case. If Lancashire is wrong, it is not because of a mistake in the Act, but because the Act is being applied at all. If Lancashire wished to save herself from the injury being clone by this Act, she should have opposed the whole of Part II of the Act. 1167 It is all or nothing. The Government have made it clear that the proper time to oppose the duty on fabric gloves was on the Second Reading of Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act. While we who fought this Act from the beginning welcome the somewhat belated return of the hon. Member for Middleton and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blackburn, we are entitled to say we could have done with their help a little bit sooner.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
The hon. and gallant Member forgets a number of material Divisions on Part II of the Act, on which we voted with him and we hoped to have him voting with us to-night.
§ Captain BENN
I am not in the least ungrateful that the hon. and right hon. Members are opposing the Bill to-night: I am only saying that if only these battalions so equipped and so powerful had come into operation a little earlier we might have had greater success in saving Lancashire interests. Speaking of Lancashire, I understand that the Bill has already cost the Government one Minister to-day. I do not know whether that is confirmed. Perhaps the Chief Whip can tell us. The right hon. Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) scored off my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) because he asked, "What is the good of making such a fuss about such a little thing? There is nothing in it: it is too small a matter." What is the use of talking about the slippery slope? What about the downward momentum towards Protection? The answer is to be found here. We have the continuation of the so-called McKenna duties from year to year, supported by the hon. Member for Middle ton in the first year because it was a transition period, while in the second year he was absent from his place, and there was no protest against the continuation of the duties. Then there is Part I, with its 6,000 articles, taxed; there is the embargo on Canadian cattle obstinately maintained in the face of the decision of the House of Commons to remove it; and then there is that small 1168 but not unimportant example of Tariff Reform, the Wireless Telegraphy Bill of the Postmaster-General. We are getting on little by little. Wherever you examine the Government policy, you will find that where it is possible to leave trade free to buy in the best market, they always decide on their own pre-conceived notions that it must be a case of British goods for British men. It is the old policy; they always follow that. It is undoubtedly true that the policy of this country has been informed for the last four years by the conception of Protection throughout.
§ Captain BENN
That remains to be seen. I do not know where it is becoming popular. The Government con easily test its popularity by filling up the two vacant Lordships of the Treasury. To-night, however, we are trying the fabric glove issue. When that is settled, we shall have the hosiery, silk and many other trades asking to be allowed to take advantage of the decision we shall have come to. Then, indeed, we shall find ourselves on the slippery slope of Protect on and in great difficulty where to stop. I should like to say a word about the procedure of these Committees. Coalition Liberals were given a pledge that they would consist of representatives mainly of the consumers. Was that pledge kept? I should like to refresh the mind of the President of the Board of Trade. He has heard of Lord Derby. Lord Derby gives breakfast and luncheon parties. On this occasion—the Minister of Health remembers it quite well, he was there—
§ Captain BENN
Yes, on 6th May, last year. A breakfast was given by Lord Derby to what is called, somewhat disrespectfully, "a contingent of Lancashire Members"—
§ Captain BENN
I was basing my statement on a Press notice. I have no desire to do any injustice to the Minister of Health:The breakfast which Lord Derby gave to a contingent of Lancashire Members on 1169 Thursday was made an opportunity for conciliating Lancashire feeling.I am reading from the "Times," of 7th May, 1921. That was in 1921, some pledges last even a year:What those present regarded as definite guarantees were given by the Prime Minister namely"—I will not read the first two, as they are not material, but I will read—(3) That the administration of the duty will be in the bands of a Committee consisting mainly of consumers…Some of the Coalition Liberals saw Sit Alfred Mond, and they also received assurances, the principal of which was, apparently, that a time limit of three years would be fixed for the anti-dumping duties.A pledge which has been most honourably kept. I withdraw the charge I made against the Minister of Health. Apparently they met him outside. I regret that inadvertently I made an unfounded charge against the right hon. Gentleman. Has that pledge, that the Committee should consist mainly of consumers, been kept? That is my first question. Secondly, has any official information been given to these Committees—I mean reliable, and not ex parte, information? I am told not. I have repeatedly asked questions of the Board of Trade, and have been told that no official information is available. Therefore the information before these Committees has been ex parte information; and the only way in which you can deal with ex parte information is either by taking evidence on oath or by cross-examination by able men. But cross examination is not allowed before the Committee; it is just an ex parte statement, made by those who want to get an advantage out of the consumer by arranging the price of the commodity.
Worse than that, the judges, namely, the members of the Committee, are influenced by confidential documents handed in to them, of which the representatives of the consumers, the opponents of the Order, have no right of inspection whatever. Therefore you have a Committee which does not represent the consumers, receiving evidence which is not official, which is ex parte, which is not subject to cross-examination, and having their minds influenced, in addition by confidential documents which are not laid before the opponents of the 1170 Order. Can such an investigation possibly be satisfactory? One could quote, from the shorthand note of the inquiry, the remarks made by the chairman, bearing out what I have said, but I do not want to take up too much time, and the description I have given is unchallenged.
My last point is this: Tariff Reform may be a good thing; Free Trade may be a good thing; hut what is not a good thing is hesitation, delay, and change and wavering from one policy to another. This is an Order which is really made, not effectively by the Committee or on the recommendation of the Committee, but as a result of a long series of conflicts in the Cabinet, first with the Committee reporting to the President of the Board of Trade, whose view has always been, as I understand, that the Act was passed, and it was his duty to enforce perfectly consistent view, to which not the least exception could be taken. But he has had to face others in the Cabinet who were conscious of political influences brought to bear from Lancashire, the fear of losing seats, the fear of offending this person or that. person; and the result has been a long series of waverings, from the time when, on the 26th January, the Committee first reported, during the long spring, when we asked questions almost every week, and were told that, for one reason or another, nothing could be done, right up to the 27th June, when, SO far as I could judge from a remark made by the President of the Board of Trade, he did not contemplate granting, and, in fact, had refused to grant, any such remit to the Committee as was actually made. In fact, he said, in reply to a question which was put to him by the hon. Member for Harrow (Mr. Mosley), who had asked that the question of the indirect effects should be referred to the Committee:The consideration of indirect effects would involve the Committee in an indefinite inquiry, and is a matter for the Board of Trade and the House.11.0 p.m.
He refused, therefore, to remit it to the Committee. That was his judgment. Then why was it remitted to the Committee? What influence was brought to bear to give to the Lancashire case a special treatment which was not available in other eases? The fact is that this type of tariff-mongering is the very worst type that can possibly exist. It is not a tariff brought before the House and voted 1171 on in the House; it is a tariff which is concocted by pressure and counter pressure in the Cabinet, according to considerations of political interests. It is a tariff which involves the trade of the country in great and constant uncertainty, and in great loss. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department went recently to Genoa and described the needs of traders as follows:It is disastrous for trade to have constant changes in its conditions and fresh obstacles, uncertainty whether this special treatment would not he established for one country and that special treatment for another. What traders needed was certainty.That is exactly what the trader has not got, either under the procedure of this Order or under the Order itself even when it is made. We who oppose the Order do so because we believe that in the interests of employment and the interests of the consumers the sooner we can get back our Continental markets, with exports and imports—because you cannot have exports unless you have imports—that is an elementary fact which escapes some people's notice—the better. I am not an orator, but I would urge this case on the House in words much finer than any I could use. I am sorry the Colonial Secretary rather furtively appears only at the end of the Bench. I should like to see him stand where he always stood—in front of the Box. His description is this. He is asking what is cur duty in reference to the great unemployment and the high prices and the difficulties with which we are fighting today. He says:We must re-create and re-animate our vanished and impoverished customers. With 2,000,000 unemployed we are bound to consider the revival of world credit and the stimulus of the purchasing power of our potential customers as vita] to our own well being.Those are very true words, and the only way to carry out the policy embodied in those words is for the House to vote against this Order.
§ Mr. A. HOPKINSON
I do not wonder that hon. Members opposite above the Gangway are a little annoyed to-night. After all, the Prime Minister has done what he has so frequently done before—he has effected an operation which is vulgarly termed "dishing the Opposition." In the course of a few month 1172 he will go to the country with a Free Trade programme, with the Nonconformist conscience, with the League of Nations, and with peace at any price inscribed on his banner. Where are the "Wee Frees" to be then? Moreover, the Prime Minister has not only effected that operation on the Wee Frees; he has effected it on those who are commonly known as "Die-Hards, whose theory of honesty in government is now supplemented by a heavy protective duty on all imports from abroad. But I speak, in spite of the impatience of the House, because I represent a constituency which, I suppose, is one of the largest cotton-spinning constituencies.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
I wish to protest most vigorously against the line which has been taken by Lancashire Members in this Debate. They have regarded this subject purely and entirely from the point of view of their own selfish interests. A subject of this sort ought to he regarded, not from the point of view of one particular district or trade, even though it is the particular district which I represent and the particular trade Which is most powerful in that constituency, but ought to be regarded entirely from the point of view of the general interest of this country. If I may presume to offer a word of advice to my Free Trade friends, I would point out that it is perfectly useless protesting against the selfishness and indifference to the general weal shown by those who, with the voice of paupers, demand a tariff for themselves, if at the same time there is going to be raised an equally selfish cry from the particular interest which that particular tariff happens to hit. Therefore I raise no objection whatsoever from the selfish point of view of the constituency which I represent.
But I wish to draw attention to one or two things said by the Secretary for Overseas Trade, because it seems to me that if, in the future as in past, he is to be the financial representative of this country in international conferences, the state of Europe and of this country is likely to go from bad to worse. We had the suggestion made—he has not taken the trouble to explain the meaning, although he makes it the basis of his economic argument—that there exists what he calls an exchange bounty in 1173 respect of German goods, particularly in respect of fabric gloves. What does he mean by an exchange bounty? He says that the exchange bounty is due to the difference existing at any given moment between the internal and external value of the mark.
Let us take the case of fabric gloves, and the position of the German manufacturer of those articles. The manufacturer has not only to put labour into the manufacture of the gloves, but he has to put into them raw material, and it is perfectly obvious that so long as cotton is not grown in Germany his raw material in this particular instance must come from abroad. How then, in purchasing supplies of raw material from abroad is the difference between the internal and external value of the mark going to help him to any extent whatever 1 It is perfectly certain that he is going to pay for his raw material in the external value of the mark, and therefore his raw material, which in this particular instance is a very considerable portion of the whole, is going to cost him very much more, because the external value of the mark happens to be less than the internal value of the mark.
The hon. Gentleman further suggests that the wicked, cunning, supernaturally clever German—all Germans, we are told, are supernaturally clever—has devised a wonderful means of making himself extremely prosperous at the expense of us in particular. He is using exactly the same method as the Soviet adopted in Russia. He started his printing presses, and in spite of the fact that there is no demand for currency, he goes on printing marks and thereby deliberately depreciates his exchange. If there is one thing more certain than another, it is that there is no use in printing marks unless you can get someone to take them. Unless he is printing paper marks and giving them away, it is perfectly certain he cannot be deliberately depreciating his own exchange. Marks are printed, just as any other currency is printed, because they have to be printed. There is no avoiding printing them. The demand is there; prices are rising in Germany, and week by week wages have to be raised, and at present you have the two chasing each other. In order to pay these exorbitant paper money wages there is an enormous demand on the 1174 printing presses to turn out marks That will continue as time goes on. This form of inflation, like every other form of inflation, is simply a device for getting rid of capital as soon as possible. It was adopted by the Soviet Government to get rid of capital, and it has been adopted by the German Government for the reason that they live on exporting capital, because they have nothing else on which to live. How on earth we are going to remedy that state of affairs by endeavouring, so far as we can, to prevent the unhappy Germans from exporting goods to this country and thereby raising the rate of exchange as compared with the pound sterling, heaven only knows. I do hope, for the sake of this country, and of Europe as a whole, that The Hague Conference is the last occasion upon which the Secretary for Overseas Trade will represent this country in financial matters.
There is one point which has not been raised at all in this Debate, and it is the most important point of all. Everybody knows that we had two deputations on this particular point from the fabric glove manufacturers and from the cotton spinners, who think that their interests are affected by this Order. I take it—I know that few here will agree with me—that these two deputations are not deputations in themselves. They are the advance guard of mighty and increasing forces. At the present moment there are cotton spinners and glove manufacturers in the Gallery. Those gentlemen have found already, owing to this Order, that it pays them very much better to come down here lobbying us than it does to look after their own business, and it is certain that the experience of every Protectionist country will be repeated in this country if we allow an Order, such as the one before us, to go through. As soon as ever Orders of this sort can be obtained by pressure, political pressure, very great pressure will be put on Members of this House, and as long as those Orders can be obtained, it will be impossible to work a democratic system which will not be a festering mass of corruption.
If this were an oligarchy or, better still, an autocracy, we could design tariffs, scientific tariffs, which although in no circumstances could they do the faintest good to a single man, woman or child in this country, could at any rate be so carefully designed that they could not do 1175 any harm. That autocrat with skilled advice might design tariffs which would raise the wages of every worker in this country, and at the same time would raise the cost of living in the exact same proportion. But it will require an autocrat to do that, and one who is not dependent on a popular vote. We are all dependent on a popular vote. We have had in these two deputations examples of the pressure which can be brought to bear on us, and in which I see in future—and this is no exaggeration whatever—the slippery slope down to the utter depths of political degradation which the mixture of politics and finance and industry must inevitably provide. Therefore on that ground alone I do hope that the House will pull itself together in this matter. There is no use in Coalition Conservatives flattering themselves
§ that in supporting this measure they are going to secure their own position. It is obvious that the game present to the Prime Minister's mind is that he had got to dish the Opposition and he had got to dish the recalcitrant Conservative Members of his own party. He has done it thoroughly; and incidentally, by adopting the Free Trade attitude and the League of Nations and Nonconformist conscience, he has managed to dish the most dangerous of all, the Colonial Secretary too.
§ Sereral hon. Members having risen—
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put.'
§ The House divided: Ayes, 307; Noes, 78.1177
|Division No. 263.]||AYES.||[11.15 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Cautley, Henry Strother||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Chamberlain, Ht. Hon. J. A.(Blrm., W.)||Glyn, Major Ralph|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Child, Brigadier-Genera! Sir Hill||Golf, Sir R. Park|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Gould, James C.|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Churchman, Sir Arthur||Grant, James Augustus|
|Atkey, A. R.||Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashten||Clough, Sir Robert||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Greenwood, William (Stockport)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Greer, Sir Harry|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Cope, Major William||Gregory, Holman|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Greig, Colonel Sir James William|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Barrand, A. R.||Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Gritten, W. G Howard|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Curzon, Captain viscount||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.|
|Beckett, Hon. Sir Gervase||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Guthrie, Thomas Maule|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Gwynne, Rupert S.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hailwood, Augustine|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Hamilton, Sir George C.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Doyle, N. Grattan||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Birchall, J. Dearman||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedlord, Luton)|
|Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Edgar, Clifford B.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Edwards, Allen C. (East Ham, S.)||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Hennessy. Major J. R. G.|
|Blane, T. A.||Elveden, Viscount||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith.||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford. Watford)|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Evans, Ernest||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Hills, Major John Waller|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Falcon, Captain Michael||Hinds, John|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.|
|Breeso, Major Charles E.||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Cilve||Fell, Sir Arthur||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Briggs, Harold||Fildes, Henry||Hood, Sir Joseph|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Hope, Sir H.(Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn.W.)|
|Britton, G. B.||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Home, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)|
|Brown, Major D. C.||Forestier-Walker, L.||Home, Sir R S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Forrest, Walte||Houlton, John Plowright|
|Bruton, Sir James||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Howard, Major S. G.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Hurst, Lieut-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Ganzoni, Sir John||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Carew, Charles Hobert S.||Gardner, Ernest||Jameson, John Gordon|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Gee, Captain Robert||Jephcott. A. R.|
|Casey, T. W.||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Jesson, C.|
|Jodrell, Neville Paul||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Nield, Sir Herbert||Sueter, Rear-Aamiral Murray Fraser|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Norrls, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Sugden, W. H.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Hacket||Taylor, J.|
|Kennedy, Thomas||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Kidd, James||Parker, James||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Parkinson, Sir Albert L. (Blackpool)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Knight, Major E. A. (Kidderminster)||Pearce, Sir William||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Larmor, Sir Joseph||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Perkins, Walter Frank||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Perring, William George||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Lloyd, George Butler||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Vickers, Douglas|
|Lioyd-Greame, Sir P.||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O, (H'tingd'n)||Poison, Sir Thomas A.||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Lorden, John William||Pownall, Lieut.-Coionel Assheton||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Lort-Williams, J.||Pratt, John William||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Lowe, Sir Francis William||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Purchase, H. G.||Warner. Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Rae, Sir Henry N.||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Ramsden, G. T.||Watson, Captain John Bortrand|
|Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachle)||Rankin, Captain James Stuart||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|McLaren, Hon. H. O. (Leicester)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Macnaghten, Sir Malcolm||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Whitla, Sir William|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Reid, D. D.||Wignall, James|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Remer, J. R.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Remnant, Sir James||Willey, Lieut-Coionel F. V.|
|Mallaby-Deeley, Sir Harry||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham. S.)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Manvilie, Edward||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecciesall)||Wilson, Capt. A. s. (Holderness)|
|Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes, Stretford)||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Matthews, David||Rothschild. Lionel tie||Windsor, Viscount|
|Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund||Winterton, Earl|
|Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wise, Frederick|
|Molson, Major John Elsdale||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Scott. A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Morden, Col. W. Grant||Seager, Sir William||Wood, Sir J. (Staiybridge & Hyde)|
|Morrison, Hugh||Seddon, J. A.||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Murchison, C. K.||Simm, M. T. (Wallsend)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Murray, Rt. Hon. C. D. (Edinburgh)||Smith, St Allan M. (Croydon. South)||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Murray, Hon. Gideon (St, Rollox)||Smith. Sir Malcolm (Orkney}||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.||Younger, Sir George|
|Nail, Major Joseph||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Neal, Arthur||Stanton, Charles Butt||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Steel, Major S. Strang||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.||McCurdy.|
|Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Stevens, Marshall|
|Banton, George||Hirst, G. H.||Robertson, John|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Holmes, J. Stanley||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Sell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Irving, Dan||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Sexton, James|
|Boworman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Johnstone, Joseph||Shaw. Thomas (Preston)|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Briant, Frank||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Spoor, B. G.|
|Bromfield, William||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Swan, J. E.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kenyon, Barnet||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Cairns, John||Kiley, James Daniel||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Cecil. Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Lawson, John James||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lunn, William||Thorne, W. (West Ham. Plaistow)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Ciltheroe)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Mosley, Oswald||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Foot, Isaac||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Gillis, William||Myers, Thomas||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbrdga)|
|Grenfeil, D. R. (Glamorgan)||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Grundy, T. W.||O'Grady, Captain James||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Rattan, Peter Wilson|
|Halls. Walter||Rendall, Athelstan||TELLERS FOR THE NOES,—|
|Hayward, Evan||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Mr. Hogge and Major Barnes.|
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
On a point of Order. May I ask, Mr. Speaker, whether you propose to put the Question to the House on both No. 1 and No. 2 of the Schedule together, bearing in mind, what was respectfully laid before you, that this Order is a tax on the subject, and that these taxes should be separately submitted to the House?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Question which the House has just decided should be now put is that lines 27 to 32 inclusive on page 2 of the Order should be left out. That does cover both subjects, and I am hound to put the Question accordingly.
§ Mr. N. MACLEAN
On a point of Order. Is it not the case that if this Amendment. be put and defeated, and the Resolution he then put to the House, it must then be put as two separate Resolutions?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Yes, the Resolution itself must be put as a separate Question. This is only an Amendment to the Resolution.
§ Captain W. BENN
On a point of Order. May I point out that this is the first time a tax has been male on the subject in this manner, and therefore if the Questions are not separated to-day, it may well be that your ruling will be taken as a ruling that many taxes may be put together and voted on as one. Therefore, I submit that as there are two separate Questions, with two separate Orders made following the Statute, they should be nut as two separate Votes.
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 113; Noes. 277.1183
|Division No. 264.]||AYES.||[11.30 p.m.|
|Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent||Halls, Walter||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Banton, George||Hartshorn, Vernon||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hayward, Evan||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Robertson, John|
|Barrand, A. R.||Hinds, John||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Barton, sir William (Oldham)||Hirst, G. H.||Robinson, Sir T, (Lanes., Stretford)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Hogge, James Myles||Rose, Frank H,|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Holmes, J. Stanley||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Sexton, James|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Irving, Dan||Shaw, Hon. Alex. [Kilmarnock)|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Briant, Frank||Johnstone, Joseph||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Briggs, Harold||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Spoor, B. G.|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Bromfield, William||Kennedy, Thomas||Swan, J. E.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kenworthy, Lieut.- Commander J. M.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Cairns, John||Kenyon, Barnet||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Kiley, James Daniel||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lawson, John James||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Ciltheroe)||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Lunn, William||Wallace, J.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Mallalleu, Frederick William||Wedgwood, Colonel Joslah C.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Mosley, Oswald||Wignall, James|
|Fildes, Henry||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Willey, Lieut.-Colonel F. V.|
|Foot, Isaac||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Myers, Thomas||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Gillis, William||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Wintrinyham, Margaret|
|Glanvllle, Harold James||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Grundy, T. W.||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Major Sir Henry Norman and|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Rae, Sir Henry N.||Captain Ainsworth.|
|Adair, Rear Admiral Thomas B. S.||Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Balfour, George (Hampstead)|
|Agg-Gsrdner. Sir James Tynte||Atkey, A. R.||Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Itaqley, Captain E. Ashton||Barlow, Sir Montague|
|Archer-Shee. Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Barnett, Major Richard W.|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Barnston, Major Harry|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Beckett, Hon. Sir Gervase||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Greer, Sir Harry||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Bern, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake!||Gregory, Holman||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Greig, Colonel Sir James William||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Gretton, Colonel John||Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Hacket|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.|
|Bigland, Altred||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Parker, James|
|Birchall, J. Dearman||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Parkinson, Sir Albert L. (Blackpool)|
|Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Pearce. Sir William|
|Blades, Sir Georae Rowland||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Hallwood, Augustine||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Blane, T. A.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Perkins, Waiter Frank|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith||Hamilton, Sir George C.||Perring, William George|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Boyd-Carpentor, Major A.||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Poison, Sir Thomas A.|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Pownall, Lieut Colonel Assheton|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Pratt, John William|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Cilve||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hilden Lieut,-Colonel Frank||Purchase, H. G.|
|Brirton, G. B.||Hills, Major John Waller||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Brown, Major D. C.||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel sir S. J. G.||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Hohler, Gerald Fltzroy||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Bruton, Sir James||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hood, Sir Joseph||Reid, D. D.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hope, Sir H.(Stirling & Crckm'nn'n,W.)||Renter, J. R.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hopkins, John W. W.||Remnant, Sir James|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. K. (Norwich)|
|Casey, T. W.||Houfton, John Plowright||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford. Hereford)|
|Cautloy. Henry Strother||Howard, Major S. G.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hurd, Percy A.||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Blrm. W.)||Hurst, Lieut-Colonel Gerald B.||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Jameson, John Gordon||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Jephcott, A. R.||SassDon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Jesson, C.||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Clough, Sir Robert||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Seager, Sir William|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Colvin, Brlg.-General Richard Beale||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Simm, M. T. (Wallsend)|
|Cope, Major William||Kidd, James||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Knight, Major E. A. (Kidderminster)||Smithers, Sir Alfred W,|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Daiziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Larmor, Sir Joseph||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Davidson, J. C. c. (Hemel Hempstead)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H,||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Stevens, Marshall|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Lloyd, George Butler||Stewart, Gershom|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Sugden, W. H.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Lorden, John William||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lort-Williams, J.||Taylor, J.|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Ednam, Viscount||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Elveden, Viscount||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Evans, Ernest||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Macnagbten, sir Malcolm||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Fell. Sir Arthur||Macpuisten, F. A.||Vickers, Douglas|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A, L,||Mallaby-Deeley, Sir Harry||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Manville, Edward||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Waring, Major Walter|
|Forrest, Walter||Matthews, David||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Foxcroft. Captain Charles Talbot||Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Whitla, Sir William|
|Gee, Captain Robert||Moore, Major-General sir Newton J.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Williams, c. (Tavistock)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Willoughby. Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Murchison. C. K.||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Murray, Rt. Hon. C. D. (Edinburgh)||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Gould, James C.||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)||Windsor, Viscount|
|Grant, James Augustus||Nail, Major Joseph||Winterton, Earl|
|Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Neal. Arthur||Wise, Frederick|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y. N.)||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.||Younger, Sir George|
|Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)||Young, E. H. (Norwich)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Worsfold, T. Cato||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. McCurdy.|
I beg to move, after the word "August" ["line 20, leave out 'day of June' and insert '8th day of August'"], to insertPage 2, leave out lines 32 to 54, inclusive.Having by the last Vote condemned the people of this country to buy ill-fitting expensive gloves we are now proceeding to consider whether they shall be allowed to purchase their glass-ware in the market in which they can get the best quality at the cheapest price. The Minister for Overseas Trade was very insistent on the fact that the German buyer could always buy in the market where he got the best quality and the cheapest price. All we want is to be allowed to do that, but presumably as long as hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite occupy the Treasury bench that is not to be as a rule the opportunity of the British people. The amendment I am moving is intended to modify that part of the Order which relates to domestic and illuminating glassware. I do not know whether the House is acquainted with the procedure which has led up to the drafting of this Order in respect of these articles. That procedure is set out in a Report made by a Committee appointed by the Board of Trade to inquire into complaints with respect to domestic, and illuminating and mounting glass-ware. The terms of reference to the Committee were to deal with domestic glass-ware, illuminating glass-ware and mounting glass-ware manufactured in Germany and in Czecho-Slovakia.
The Order is only in respect of those articles manufactured in Germany: it does not apply to those manufactured in Czecho-Slovakia. On this side of the House we do not complain of that. But the Committee to whom the matter was referred and the persons who appealed and appeared before the Committee in defence of their trade may reasonably complain that the terms of reference should have included that country which is now omitted from the operation of that Order. In the course of the speech of the President of the Board of Trade we were told that he, after very careful consideration, had decided not to apply the Order—or rather the findings 1184 of the Committee to Czecho-Slovakia because of our good relations with that country. It is unfortunate, I think, that the President of the Board of Trade was not informed in December, 1921, of what was going on there. Surely the conditions which have now influenced the decision of the right hon. Gentleman were apparent at that date, and the trade might therefore have been saved a good deal of trouble and matters might have been very much simplified if the President of the Board of Trade had then come to the decision at which he had arrived later on.
What were the questions submitted to this Committee? There are four which have to be determined in respect of all articles to which orders have to be applied. The first is whether the goods in question are being sold or offered for sale in this country at prices below those at which they can be profitably manufactured here. The second question is whether that state of affairs is due to the depreciation of currency in those countries in relation to sterling. On that point there is a good deal to be said. The third question—if the first two are answered in the affirmative—is whether employment in the industries manufacturing similar goods in this country is likely to be seriously affected, and if the answer to that is in the affirmative, then the fourth and last question the Committee are called upon to answer is whether the domestic glass, etc., ware industry in this country is carried on with reasonable efficiency and economy.
This Committee started their inquiry by taking the last question first, and as I cannot do better than follow such an example, I will seek to pursue the results of their inquiries in that order. If hon. Members have the Report of the Committee before them they will be able to follow the references I have to make to the Report. The first question they had to ask themselves was whether the duty upon glass ware of this kind would affect any other industry in this country using glass. They soon came up against what I think was a rather striking anomaly. They found there was a certain kind of glass which was used for mounting pur- 1185 poses, and when they came to deal with mounting glass they found themselves up against the Association of Silversmiths in Birmingham. Birmingham is a place where once it might have been imagined that such duties the imposition of which was being contemplated by this Committee would have been welcomed. But it is, or ought to be, most distressing to the followers and disciples of Joseph Chamberlain to find that in the very holy city of Tariff Reform objection manifested itself to the imposition of a duty on mounting glass. Before the very first sitting of the Committee it was found that the people who were complaining of the very unfair competition to which they were being exposed were at variance with the silversmiths of Birmingham, and as a result the Committee decided to leave out mounting glass from the operation of this Order. Then they proceeded with the inquiry, and it is interesting to note who the complainants were in this particular case, and who were the people who were suffering this unfair competition and who wanted to shut out glass from Czecho-Slovakia and Germany, and incidentally to make the people of this country pay more for their domestic glassware. Their names are given in this Report. The principal complainants are known as the British Flint Glass Manufacturers' Association. This Association is stated, in one of the Appendices of this Report, to have raised the price of glassware in this country by concerted action during the war to a level of something like 150 per cent. above pre-war prices. The war is past and with it the opportunity to raise prices in the way they were raised during the war. Without these opportunities, this Association came before the Committee to ask that the Committee might, by its action, give them the benefits that they had obtained for themselves during the war period by their associations and joint action. We might have expected that trades, associated as this one is in a combination—practically a ring—would endeavour to utilise this Statute as a means of raising prices against the British public. As a result of their complaint, and the findings of the Committee, We have set out in the Schedule a long list of domestic glassware which is to be subjected to a tax of 33⅓ per cent. Hon. Members will read this list with mixed feelings. There are some articles in which they may not be 1186 much concerned. There are others in which, perhaps, they may take a more intimate interest. There are carafes, celery jars, cream and milk jugs, liqueur glasses, tankards, tumblers, and tazzas and comports, whatever they may be. There is one inclusion in this list that is a little striking, in view of the report made by the Committee. In dealing with the many articles that were brought before them, the Committee came across a kind of tumbler known as a "Belgian tumbler." On considering this particular kind of glassware they came to this conclusion, which perhaps I may be permitted to read to the House. The reference is on page 5, Clause 7. The recommendation of the Committee is very explicit with regard to Belgian tumblers. I thought, at first, it referred to a kind of pigeon in the form of glassware. The Report says that as the importation of this particular tumblerhas no serious effect on employment, we are of opinion that, from whatever country it may come, it ought to be excepted from the definition of domestic glassware for the purposes of an Order under the Statute.That is a very explicit direction, but it is not carried out in the Schedule. I have read carefully through the Schedule, and I cannot find that this particular kind of glassware is excluded. That is all the more remarkable, because mounted glass, which is of such interest to the silversmiths of Birmingham, is specifically dealt with. Perhaps the President of the Board of Trade will tell us whether it is from deliberate intention that this exclusion is not made in the Schedule, or whether it is merely an oversight. I can hardly believe it is the latter, because we have been assured that the whole question of these articles has not only received the attention of the Committee but has been very carefully revised by the President of the Board of Trade. There may be some very good reason why the Report of the Committee has been passed by in this respect.
When the Committee came to deal with the question of prices they found and reported that the evidence on this matter was very contradictory. They had evidence laid before them by manufacturers and importers, and there was a very great divergence between the two classes of evidence. No one can read Clause 9 on page 5 without seeing that the Committee were left in a very considerable 1187 state of complexity on the question whether the glass from these two countries was really being sold in the United Kingdom at prices far below those at which it was possible to produce it, with profit here. They refer in their report to a matter which has been to a very considerable extent a matter of grievance to those who have appeared before the Committee on this point for the purpose of opposing these Orders, and that is, reliance by the Committee upon invoices which were laid before them, to which those who opposed the Orders had no access, upon which they could offer no evidence, and which they were unable to test. That point has been common to all these Committees, and has been made a subject of comment. If the Government intend to proceed along the lines which have been followed in respect of this matter, they would do well to make some alteration in the Statutory regulations laid down by the Board of Trade. No confidence, or very little confidence, is felt in the findings of these Committees, not on account of the personnel, although I do not think we are all disposed to believe in the absolute impartiality of the Committees when we have knowledge of some of the members. It is very difficult to read the names of some who sit upon these Committees without recognising persons who have had very decided opinions in the direction of tariff reform or protection.
Leaving that point, there is no doubt that the procedure of these Committees would be a great deal more satisfactory if the evidence put before them was allowed to be tested by examination, and if the documents submitted to them were made accessible to both sides. The Committee did come to the conclusion that this kind of ware was being sold in this country at prices below those at which it was possible to produce it at a profit. They also recognised, and they say in their Report, that a mere difference between foreign and English prices, however great, would not satisfy the requirements of the Act. It is something to be thankful for, at least, that that is so, and that it is recognised that people are not to be allowed to come and get protection of the kind that they can get under this Act, merely because goods from abroad are sold more cheaply than goods produced at home. What this Committee 1188 had to direct its attention to was whether this difference in price could be attributed to depreciation in foreign currency in relation to sterling. It was not merely a question of the price being low, of its being possible to get these foreign goods more cheaply than English goods; they had to satisfy themselves, in order that they might be able to make a report under the Act, that that cheapness was to be attributed to a depreciation of the foreign currency in relation to sterling.
I want to draw the particular attention of the House to those last four words, "in relation to sterling," and for this reason. If one considers what guidance the Committee had on this question, and confines oneself to the Report on these particular articles, namely, domestic, illuminating and mounting glassware, one finds that the whole of the evidence or argument that is brought forward is contained in an appendix, marked Appendix B, which deals with the rate of exchange and foreign prices. But the whole of this appendix deals with the rate of exchange and foreign prices in so far as Czecho-Slovakia is concerned. There is nothing at all in this Report to show that there was brought before this Committee the question of the rate of exchange and foreign prices as regards Germany. We therefore have the striking result that we are asked to make an Order on the Report of a Committee which was concerning itself principally with Czecho-Slovakia, at a time when the application of this Order to that country has been ruled out by the President of the Board of Trade. Therefore, upon this point—which, of course, is the main point upon which the Order turns—of the low price attributable to depreciation of currency in relation to sterling, there is now left in this Report no scrap of evidence bearing upon the country to to which the Order is to be applied. That is not to say that the evidence does not exist, and cannot be found. It may not have been supplied to the Committee, but we do know that it was supplied to another Committee—the Committee on fabric gloves. I do not propose again to enter upon that well-worn controversy, but of course the evidence on that point which was supplied to that Committee is relevant to the articles we have now to consider. Whether it be fabric gloves that come from Germany, or whether it be domestic, illuminating 1189 and mounting glassware, the whole argument as to depreciation of currency in relation to sterling still applies. In the Report on fabric gloves, there will be found a table, described as a Memorandum by the Statistical Depart-merit of the Board of Trade, on this question. That table was supplied to the Committee on fabric gloves, and was apparently, the evidence upon which they arrived at their conclusion. It may very well be that this Committee on glassware, although they make no reference to it, and, indeed, were concerning themselves with this other country which has been deleted, may have had this before them, and it may have affected their minds. At all events, it is a table which has been supplied by the Board of Trade for the purpose of assisting these Committees to come to a conclusion. I do not know why it was not before the Committee on glassware, or why it was not referred to by them. I do not know whether I may assume that at the date when they made their Report this table had been discarded. That is a matter on which I should like to address an inquiry to the President of the Board of Trade. It is a very important table, and, as far as I am able to judge, a very misleading table; and, in view of the fact that the decision of this question is really the crucial decision which every Committee has to make, this table, prepared by the Board of Trade, assumes a great importance, and it must have had a considerable influence on their minds. What I want to bring to the attention of the President is the fact that what is done in this table is not to consider the depreciation of currency in relation to sterling, which is what the Act says should be done, but to compare the depreciation of the currency in relation to British commodities—a very different matter indeed. Hon. Members who have this table before them will see that columns 3 and 4 relate to the internal purchasing power of the mark, while columns 7 and 8 relate to the external purchasing power of the mark; and if we have been told one thing throughout this Debate, it has been that the comparison between internal and external purchasing power is the vital comparison to make, upon the result of which it is to he decided whether articles are to come under the operation of Orders such as this or not. The Act lays 1190 it down most clearly in Section 2—and indeed, the words of the Act are repeated continually by the Committees, showing that they were perfectly well aware of them in this particular Committee—thatIf on complaint being made to the Board to that effect, it appears to the Board that goods … are being sold or offered for sale in the United Kingdom—(a) at prices below the cost of production thereof as hereinafter defined"—that is the first question that has to be asked—or (b) at prices which by reason of depreciation in the value, in relation to sterling, of the currency of the country … are below the prices …then the Committee may report, and the President may act.
As far as (a) is concerned the reports of these Committees have thrown up the sponge. None of them have been able to come to a conclusion as to the price in this country being "below the cost of production as hereinafter defined." But they all have come to the conclusion that there has been a depreciation in value in relation to sterling. The Fabric Gloves Committee appear to have come to that conclusion entirely on the strength of this table prepared by the Board of Trade. The only evidence quoted by the Committee on Glassware is taken out of the purview of this House by the action of the President of the Board of Trade. These tables were adopted by the committees as evidence. What they had to do was to relate the value of the mark to sterling. The value of the mark to sterling is given in columns 3 and 4. One is the official index number as to which no question is raised. The other is the index number in the "Frankfurter Zeitung," which, though quoted here is also criticised. In column 7 there is the external purchasing power of the mark as compared with sterling. If column 3 is compared with column 7 one sees that the internal purchasing power of 100 marks is taken in column 3 as 8.04, while in column 7 it is given as 9.69. Thus, so far as these tables give any indication there is no depreciation at all. There is no appreciation.
If this table had stopped at column 7 there would not have been a shadow of reason for these committees to come to the conclusion that there had been a de- 1191 preciation of currency in relation to sterling. So it has been found necessary to introduce another table. That is a table of British commodities. What is done is to go outside the Act. There is nothing said in the Act about value in relation to commodities. The Act says the value in relation to sterling. Of course the Act may have been all wrong. It may have been badly drafted. It may not express entirely the intention of those who passed it. But there it is. The words are clearly "value in relation to sterling," and yet when it is desired to assist the Committee which has reported upon such important matters—as were before them to come to a conclusion—on the question of the value in relation to sterling—a table is put before them which shows a value not in relation to sterling but to British commodities, and on that relationship is based a ratio on which the Committee have to base their findings. Column 8 gives the external purchasing power of the mark in British commodities, and then by dividing Column 3, which is the internal purchasing power of the commodities, by Column 8, which is the external purchasing power, you get a very interesting ratio in columns 9 and 10, for they are 2 to 1, 3 to 1, and so on. No wonder the Committee were impressed when they got these figures. They naturally said to themselves: "These German fellows have a 2 or 3 to 1 chance against our people, and on that 2 or 3 to 1 chance they undoubtedly must have been influenced in making their findings. I do think this is a matter which requires some serious consideration from the President of the Board of Trade. I do not imagine that in any way this table was drawn up with the intention of misleading. I am quite sure that had it been in anybody's mind his is the last in which it would have rested for a moment.
The fact remains that it is a misleading table because if the Act had been strictly followed and if the value under consideration had been related to sterling—as the Act lays down—and not to commodities, and this table 8 had not been introduced it world have been impossible to bring before these Committees tables 9 and 10. What would have been brought before them would have been the ratio between 7 and 3 which, instead of the 2 or 3 to 1 ratio of 1192 the German against, the English manufacturer would have shown—a balance in favour of the English manufacturer. In view of the fact that upon this Table—apparently—no other evidence appears in the fabric glove report or any other report of the Committee having any other knowledge except that furnished by the Board of Trade—this decision was reached—that is a matter which should be cleared up at the earliest possible moment, and we should know why the Board of Trade led the minds of the Committee from confining their attention to the reference laid down by the Act—value to sterling—into this wider field of considering it in relation to British commodities. I think it becomes an all the more pertinent enquiry when one sees how particular the Committee were to keep themselves inside the Act. There is a paragraph on that point which is instructive—It does not seem necessary for the complainants to prove that if foreign glassware were totally excluded, English manufacturers would at once be in a position to supply the whole English demand.I quite understand the reason operating in the minds of the Committee. The operation of the Act might exclude foreign glassware and if, in those circumstances, English manufacturers were unable to supply the whole demand a very considerable rise in price would follow. The Committee waved that to one side and said: "It does not seem necessary to prove that. The Act contains no such requirement." There are many other matters in this report which deserve attention but at this early hour of the morning, unless particularly pressed to do so, I will not go into them. One of the most important matters affecting the whole of these reports has been brought to the notice of the President of the Board of Trade. The President of the Board of Trade derives his authority to make these Orders from the report of the Committee. It is perfectly true he is not obliged to make an Order even if the Committee report in favour of it. It is equally true he cannot make an Order unless the Committee does report and the position we are left in is this, that when the Committee come to decide a most crucial point the evidence upon which they rely may be a memorandum placed before them by the Board of Trade, directing their attention to a matter outside the Act and therefore the Committee may come to a conclusion 1193 which, however just in itself, is not based on any ground which they had a right to consider.
§ Mr. KILEY
I beg to second the Amendment.
We are entitled to protest against the action of the Government in forcing this discussion at this hour of the morning. We went through this procedure a year ago when we had insufficient time to discuss the details of the Measure we were asked to pass, and it was forced through the House under the closure. Now when it is about to be put into operation it is causing confusion and chaos throughout the country. We are called upon this morning to repeat the experience which we went through a year ago, and with very little knowledge of the Government's intentions to guide us, to accept the proposition they are making. That proposition I am sure will have the result of creating the utmost difficulty and complication in the administration of the Act, but no doubt it will be carried. Had we been allowed time last year to go into the details, I am sure we never would have permitted the President of the Board of Trade to make rules and regulations to control these duties.
I will give an instance of the working of the system. A certain association made application for an Order imposing a duty on certain imported glassware, including mounted glassware. A notice appeared in the Press to that effect, and on a certain day interested parties were invited to attend this tribunal. People came at considerable expense from Birmingham and Sheffield and various places with their case prepared, and they were told by the Chairman that with regard to mounted glassware the application had been withdrawn, and they could go. There was a certain amount of indignation that they were not advised of that before, but nevertheless they went away with a good deal of pleasure. What was their amazement when, a few days later, they were told by the Chairman that, although the association which had made the complaint had withdrawn, an individual had also made a complaint and had not withdrawn, and that, therefore, the inquiry must proceed? That was called a business procedure.
Let us see what takes place in these cases in the ordinary way. An applicant 1194 goes before this Committee and makes statements. As a general rule, a representative of a trade organisation outlines the case with any amount of hearsay evidence, and he then announces to the Chairman that he desires to give some evidence in private, whereupon the room is cleared, those who object to the Order being made are sent out of the room, and when they are allowed to return they are supposed to answer the case which has been made to the Committee in camera. Did the House ever hear of such a procedure outside the stage of the Savoy? How is it that, while the evidence shows, according to the shorthand notes, that the prices quoted by a certain company rose from 100 per cent. to 200 per cent. as compared with the pre-War prices, yet the Committee say they had evidence that the prices were 30 per cent. below the pre-War prices? I should have thought that in such a case the shorthand notes should be followed. We all know that you may get a job lot or something of that sort, and that you can produce a quotation for it at a very low figure, but what you want to do in these cases, surely, it to take evidence of the regular trade. Is it a regular trade transaction, or is it not? If that fact be disclosed before the Committee, and they have an opportunity of testing the reliability of the statement, their conclusions may be worth something.
In regard to the mounting glass ware inquiry, the application was withdrawn in the first instance, because the opposition coming from Birmingham and Sheffield was so great that they thought they had better not proceed with it. But eventually, on the application of this one firm, an inquiry did take place, and the Committee in their wisdom came to the conclusion that there was not sufficient justification for the Order to be made. That was to say, they included glass articles which had to be mounted in metal or silver, but they made no reference whatever to the glassware required by cabinetmakers, and there must be some hon. Members present who know that fewer bottles are mounted in wood—[Interruption]—May I ask, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for some protection from these interruptions?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir E. Cornwall)
I will put the Amendment if the hon. Member (Mr. Kiley) does not wish to continue.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I think the hon. Member should not have put his question to me in the form in which he did. I was paying attention to the proceedings of the House, and although there was some conversation it was not conversation any more than frequently occurs. I am now entitled to put the Amendment if the hon. Member has resumed his seat, and does not wish to proceed.
§ Mr. KILEY
The point I was taking was in reference to the question of the justification for making this Order to impose a duty on imported domestic ware coming from Germany. There seems to be an impression that that is the country that is dumping down abnormal quantities of domestic ware in this country, but it would interest hon. Members if they would take last week's OFFICIAL REPORT and look at some interesting figures which are given by the Board of Trade. They will find that the imports of domestic and fancy glassware in 1913 amounted to 416,000 cwts. If they will look at the figures for the year 1920, they will find that, with a depreciated currency, the quantity was 92,000 cwts., and in the year 1921 they will find that, as the depreciation of the currency became greater, the imports fell to 57,000 cwts. If there was anything in the theory which the Government put forward that, as the currency depreciates, the quantity of imports becomes greater. There would not be enough ships to bring the goods to this country. The test is in weights, and the figures I have quoted give a contradiction and an answer to all the theories advanced with regard to dumping owing to the depreciation of the currency. After all, there are business people in this country who are willing to buy goods if they are cheap. Therefore, if these goods are as cheap as we are led to believe, then, instead of there being an import last year of 57,000 cwts., the quantity would have been more likely to be double the pre-war quantity.
1196 That will show the House that there exists no justification for making this Order as regards the quantity of goods imported, because, if there be any unemployment caused, it cannot have been due to imports of something like twenty per cent. of the pre-war imports. The actual fact, as will be seen by those who study the Report that has been issued by the Committee, shows that while Germany has been increasing its exports, Czecho-Slovakia has been decreasing them. Yet the President of the Board of Trade, in his desire to promote work in this country and to re-open certain factories which are either working short-time or closed down, thinks it advisable to let another country send in, not alone what was sent in before the war, but increased quantities. That may be logical from the point of view of the President of the Board of Trade, but if he will permit me to say so, it is scarcely understandable to those on this side of the House. If the chief object is to provide work for the English glass-makers, I can scarcely conceive anything that is less calculated to achieve the object than the policy the President of the Board of Trade has now adopted.
But there are one or two other points on which those in the trade are desirous of getting a little information. The first is that of the Belgian tumbler. The Committee say in their Report, paragraph 7, that the Belgian tumbler is generally recognised as a certain type of article and that it is not necessarily manufactured in Belgium. Yet when we look at the Order of the Board of Trade there seems to be a considerable lack of clearness. When the recommendations of that Committee is being carried into effect in the Order, as the Board of Trade wishes it to be passed, there is a reference to tumblers that are pressed, but I am advised that Belgian tumblers are not only pressed tumblers but loaded tumblers. The trade are desirous of knowing whether the recommendation of the Committee in paragraph 7 is to be carried into effect or if it is not. If it is not to be carried into effect we would certainly like to be told why. [Interruption.] I do not think there will be much need to detain my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Holderness (Captain Stanley Wilson). If my hon. and gallant Friend desires to address the House, I will cheerfully give way to 1197 him. But I would like the President of the Board of Trade to clear up one or two small matters. One is whether the Order applies to those people who use exactly the same article in cabinets or in metal and silver, and the second is whether paragraph 7 only applies to pressed ware. If that is the intention, the point should be made clear.
Question proposed: "After the word 'August' ["line 20, leave out 'day of June,' and insert '8th day of August'"] insert the words 'Page 2, leave out from beginning of line 32 to the end of line 3, page 3.'"
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
As I have put the Amendment, it does include illuminating glass. If the Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment desire that illuminating glass should be omitted, I will put it in another form.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
Then I had better put the Question in this form: "Alter the word 'August' ["line 20, leave out 'day of June,' and insert '8th day of August'"] insert the words 'Page 2, leave out lines 32 to 54 inclusive.'"
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Sir W. Mitchell-Thomson)
I shall do my best to answer some of the questions put to me by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment. They have spoken at reasonable length and with a due desire for information, and I shall do my best to supply it, though. I trust the House will forgive me if at this hour of the morning I am not so discursive as I should have been earlier in the day. I am sorry the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for East Newcastle (Major Barnes) who moved the Amendment is not in his place, because there are one or two points on which he desires information. The particular form of the Order relating to domestic glassware excited some slight merriment in the mind of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. The reason why a list appears in this case which does not appear in the other case is due precisely to the fact that the Com- 1198 mittee recommended—and we have followed the recommendations of the Committee—that mounting glassware should be excluded from the operations of the Order. When you come to drafting an Order excluding mounting glassware it is very much easier, owing to the number of articles to which the process of mounting can be applied, to draft an Order including those articles of which the vast majority in use are never mounted, or seldom if ever mounted. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman examines this list he will find it consists as to 95 per cent. of articles to which the process of mounting is never applied. The answer to the inquiry put to me by the hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Kiley) who seconded the Amendment is that following the recommendations of the Committee, the process of mounting the articles in question refers to mounting in silver or other metal, and not to mounting on wood.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
Because the Committee so recommended. I have been asked by both the Mover and Seconder as to Belgian tumblers, and, as I somewhat expected, my attention was called to the fact that the Committee make a specific recommendation about Belgian tumblers. I need hardly explain to the House that these are not tumblers made in Belgium, but a particular variety of tumbler commonly used, I believe, in public-houses. The short answer is that tumblers of the nature of Belgian tumblers are included in the exceptions which they will find in note "a" of this Order, which says:Paragraphs 3 and 4 of this Schedule do not include any article of glassware (whether domestic or illuminating) which is only pressed.My information, contrary to the information of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Kiley) is that as regards the vast majority of tumblers falling within this category it can be said that they are produced by a process of pressing only. The Report of the Committee was challenged in general terms and in particular terms. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Leith (Captain Wedgwood Benn) asked whether official information was placed at the disposal of the Committee or whether they had to rely only on such evidence as was put before them by the interested parties; what he calls ex parte 1199 evidence. The answer is that all official information which the Committee desire is placed before them, and I rather think I have told him so in questions and answers.
§ Captain BENN
No. When I asked the question about employment and imports the hon. Gentleman gave me an answer which explained that there was no official information upon which this judgment could be based, so it must be ex parte evidence.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
That, I think, was really all that I could say. What I understood the hon. and gallant Gentleman to suggest was that the Government had certain information which they might have communicated to the Committee but had not, leaving it to the Committee to reply on ex parte statements. That is not the fact. If the Committee asked for any information which it was in the power of the Government to give, it has been given and will be given. I have been sorry to notice in one or two speeches a tendency to cast some reflections on the personnel of the Committees. I do not think these reflections are deserved. Of the Chairman of this Committee I can only say that his eminence, as an economist, is well-known to all the world. The Chairman of the Fabric Gloves Committee has been a distinguished civil servant for many years. I think he is an ex-President of the Royal Statistical Society—certainly he is a statistician of great eminence, and it may perhaps be an additional recommendation in the eyes of the right hon. Gentlemen speaking opposite if I say that I am credibly informed—at least, I saw it in the Press—that he has, as the crowning distinction of all other distinctions, been selected as Independent Liberal candidate for South Oxfordshire.
Now I turn to this report of the Committee. If this House had to go at length into the matter, I think they would agree, on reading the Report, that a more careful, more reasoned, and decisive report it would be very difficult to imagine. The hon. and gallant Member for East Newcastle (Major Barnes), who moved the Amendment, spoke of the findings of the Committee. The Committee say:We are bound to recognise that a sufficient body of reliable evidence, consisting 1200 largely of actual invoices and quotations, and coming up to the present time, has been produced before us to bear out the contention that German and Czecho-Slovakian glassware has, speaking generally, been sold, or offered for sale, at prices far below those at which it is possible to produce it with profit in England.The Committee further stated:The leading firms have adequate systems of cost accounts, and that they are asking only a reasonable profit, and, indeed, in some lines of goods, foregoing profit altogether, or even incurring loss, has been proved to our satisfaction by copies of cost calculations certified by qualified accountants.That deserves to be read as an answer to the suggestion made by my hon. and gallant Friend who moved this Amendment that, contrary to the finding of the Committee which at an earlier date inquired into this question, undue profits were made in this industry. He asked who were the complainants? There are two sets of complainants in this case. The complainants on one side are the glass manufacturers and, on the other, the National Flint Glassmakers' Society which, as stated on page eight of the reportconsists of operatives engaged in the glass-making process itself—the central and most essential operation of the manufacture.In this case, therefore, the complaint is made by those engaged in the trade, both masters and men.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I have read the Minority Report. Let me draw attention to the question of the trade union. The Committee point out that employment in the trade has been bad and is worse. Indeed, so far as we have any information since the time of the Report of the Committee—and the source I have is the trade union—employment appears to have been getting worse. I am always surprised at the attitude which some of those who sit on the Labour Benches adopt in regard to matter's of this kind. Here is a case where an impartial Committee report that unfair competition is being exercised against an industry in this country, with a complaint, among other things, from the trade union engaged in the matter The hon and gallant Member for East Newcastle has always taken up a strong line. One would have thought that this would have moved him also to support 1201 this case. I suggest that members on the Labour Benches should apply themselves a little more closely to the study of this sort of problem.
I must say one word with regard to the Minority Report. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), and I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Amendment, went into a comparison of figures. As regards the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley, I can only say that I think he, like the hon. and gallant Gentleman, was led into error, not realising what is the object of such comparison. The object of a comparison is to find out whether conditions in industry in one country constitute unfair competition as compared with industry in another. The hon. and gallant Gentleman takes this statement, and he asks why column 3 is not compared with column 7, instead of being compared with column 8. The answer is a short one. It is that, if you are making a comparison, you must compare like with like. If you are to compare a commodity on one side of the scale you must compare it with a commodity on the other, or the comparison is meaningless. The hon. and gallant Gentleman made one other statement to which I really must make reference, because it goes to the foundations of the whole case. He challenged the Report of this Committee on the ground that, in discussing the rate of exchange and prices, they confined their attention to Czecho-Slovakia and paid no attention to Germany. He read at some length from Appendix "B" and Appendix "B" of which he complains contains the following paragraph:The position of affairs with respect to trade between England and Germany has been so greatly affected by the catastrophic fall in the value of the mark in recent months that it may be better to illustrate the effect of the rate of exchange by reference to the case of Czecho-Slovakia, where the crown, though greatly depreciated, has retained a far superior position.That is quite the opposite of what is contended—that no attention has been paid to Germany. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman has read the Report, I confess I find the argument so difficult as to be almost useless. Finally, if the House look at the Minority Report, they will find that, in contrast to the Majority Report—which was firm, reasoned and decided—it 1202 is, judged by any standard, distinctly vacillating and unconvincing—I do not find it possible"—says the writer of the Minority Report—to gauge with any approach to accuracy the share in the production of unemployment attributable to this particular cause, and would therefore hesitate to say that its seriousness, as a matter of proportion in a trade not large numerically, can be ascribed with confidence to exchange influences.If that is all that can be said in the Minority Report, I think there is little doubt which will sway the balance of opinion in the House to-night.
§ 1.0 A.M.
§ Sir GODFREY COLLINS
The Parliamentary Secretary of the Board of Trade has submitted the Government case in reply to the criticisms of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Newcastle (Major Barnes). He stated, in reply, when dealing with the point made by the hon. and gallant Member about Table 10 of the Report dealing with fabric gloves, that you must compare like with like. The Statute clearly lays down the terms on which the duty should be levied. Part II, Section 2, Sub-section (1, b) has the wordsat prices which, by reason of depreciation in the value in relation to sterling of the currency of the country in which the goods are manufactured.He did not deal with that point. The Act clearly lays down that it is in relation to sterling of the currency of the country in which the goods are manufactured.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
Take that argument and apply the Act to Table 10. In January, 1920, my hon. and gallant Friend reminded the Minister that the internal purchasing power of a hundred marks was 8.04 and the external purchasing power in the same month was 9.09. Now, look at the bottom of that table, column 3, and you find that the internal purchasing power of a hundred marks in November, 1921, had dropped to 2.93, and in November, 1921, the external purchasing power of a hundred marks had dropped to 1.97. In other words, in January, 1920, you had a different position entirely. We submit that the whole basis of the Act, so far as the information supplied to this 1203 House in Table 10 of the Report of that Committee is concerned, falls to the ground. Earlier in the afternoon the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Central Division of Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) submitted to a crowded House that the main argument in favour of the fabric glove ease was the difference between the internal and the external purchasing power of the mark. An examination of these tables clearly reveals that, although at one moment the internal purchasing power of the mark may be greater than the external power of the mark, yet month by month these figures change. During the debates when this Bill was passed into law we frequently urged and argued from these benches that the depreciated currency would not be permanently to the advantage where the depreciated currency is in vogue. This table clearly shows that, as the currency depreciates in value, the power and ability of the country is still in the neutral markets of the world. The Parliamentary Secretary did not deal with the second point put by my hon. and gallant Friend. Why did the Government delete entirely the imports from Czecho-Slovakia in the Report? On page 15 of the minority Report, signed by a late Member of this House, Sir John Barran, very well-known for his careful attention to detail, which is clearly revealed in this minority Report, we find the words:If the exchange was the determining factor, why did Germany, with far heavier depreciation, drop from £515,000 to £195,000, while Czecho-Slovakia rose from £216,000 to £335,000?He goes on to say:Next there is the fact of the very large Belgian and other imports. How far are these, comprising 60 per cent. to 70 per cent. of the total in the last two years, responsible for the unemployment of which home workers complain?
§ We have had no reason why the Government deleted their proposal so far as the trade from that country is concerned. If it is worse in the interests of the trade of this country to put on a protective tariff against the importation of these goods from Germany, surely the same argument applies to Czecho-Slovakia. Why are the makers of one country to be penalised and the makers of similar articles in other countries to be treated so lightly? We submit that, whether the figures of these Committees be right, the main factor which the Government has omitted to consider in all these questions is the interest of the consumer. Why are the consumers to-day, with the burden of high taxation, with the reduced employment through the unsettled state of the world, to be forced to pay a higher price because of our protective tariff? Surely the experience of history reveals that during the last 60 years the policy of this country has been to protect the interest of the consumer, to allow the individuals in the various trades to protect their labour and sink their capital as they deemed best. Under this regulation the Government are taking steps in their wisdom to create artificially certain interests at the general expense of the consumer. We submit that the interests of the consumer should dominate the situation to-day, and as we consider the Government has failed to answer the criticism submitted by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Newcastle, we will press this matter to a Division.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The house divided: Ayes, 177; Noes, 47.1205
|Division No. 265.]||AYES.||[1.10 a.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Birchall, J. Dearman||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Blane, T. A.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Churchman, Sir Arthur|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender|
|Atkey, A R||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Brassey, H. L. C.||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Breese, Major Charles E.||Cope, Major William|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Curzon, Captain Viscount|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Brown, Major D. C.||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Barnett, Major Richard w.||Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Bruton, Sir James||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Bull, Rt. Hon, Sir William James||Doyle, N. Grattan|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Carr, W. Theodore||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring|
|Bigland, Alfred||Casey, T. W.||Ednam, Viscount|
|Elveden, Viscount||Lloyd, George Butler||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Evans, Ernest||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Lort-Williams, J.||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||McLaren, Han. H. D. (Leicester)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Gee, Captain Robert||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Manville, Edward||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Matthews, David||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Gould, James C.||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Stevens, Marshall|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Morden, Col. w. Grant||Sugden, W. H.|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Greer, Sir Harry||Monro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Murray, Rt. Hon. C. D. (Edinburgh)||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Nall, Major Joseph||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Hallwood, Augustine||Neal, Arthur||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Hamilton, Sir George C.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen, J. (Westminster)||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.||Vickers, Douglas|
|Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Parker, James||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Parkinson, Sir Albert L. (Blackpool)||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Waring, Major Walter|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Perkins, Walter Frank||Whitla, Sir William|
|Hood, Sir Joseph||Perring, William George||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Hope, Sir H.(Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn,W.)||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Pratt, John William||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Purchase, H. G.||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|Houfton, John Plowright||Ramsden, G. T.||Windsor, Viscount|
|Howard, Major S. G.||Rankin, Captain James Stuart||Winterton, Earl|
|Jameson, John Gordon||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.||Wise, Frederick|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Reid, D. D.||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Jodrell, Neville Paul||Remer, J. R.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Jones, Sir Edgar Ft. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Remnant, Sir James||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Younger, Sir George|
|Kidd, James||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. McCurdy.|
|Banton, George||Halls, Walter||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hayward, Evan||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hirst, G. H.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hogge, James Myles||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Briant, Frank||Holmes, J. Stanley||Rose, Frank H.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Swan, J. E.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Kiley, James Daniel||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Lawson, John James||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Lunn, William||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Foot, Isaac||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Gillis, William||Mosley, Oswald||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Myers, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||O'Grady, Captain James||Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy and|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Mr. Penry Williams.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted."1206
§ The House divided: Ayes, 50; Noes, 175.1207
|Division No. 266.]||AYES.||[1.20 a.m.|
|Banton, George||Foot, Isaac||Holmes, J. Stanley|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||France, Gerald Ashburner||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Gillis, William||Jones, J. J. (West Ham. Silvertown)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)|
|Briant, Frank||Grundy, T. W.||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Kiley, James Daniel|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Lawson, John James|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Halls, Walter||Lunn, William|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hartshorn, Vernon||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Hayward, Evan||Mallalieu, Frederick William|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Hirst, G. H.||Mosley, Oswald|
|Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Myers, Thomas||Rose, Frank H.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|O'Grady, Captain James||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Swan, J. E.|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Rendall, Athelstan||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)||Mr. Hogge and Mr. Penry|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.||Williams.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Greer, Sir Harry||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Pratt, John William|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Purchase, H. G.|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Hallwood, Augustine||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Balrd, Sir John Lawrence||Hamilton, Sir George C.||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr N.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Reid, D. D.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Remer, J. R.|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Remnant, Sir James|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Betterton, Honry B.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hood, Sir Joseph||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Birchall, J. Dearman||Hope,Sir H.(Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn'n,W.)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Blane, T. A.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Home, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Houfton, John Plowright||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Howard, Major S. G.||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South}|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Jameson, John Gordon||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Jephcott, A. R.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Brown, Major D. C.||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Bruton, Sir James||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk, George||Stevens, Marshall|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Kidd, James.||Sugden, W. H.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Carr, w. Theodore||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Casey, T. w.||Lloyd, George Butler||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn.J.A. (Birm., W.)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Lort-Williams, J.||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Cope, Major William||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Vickers, Douglas|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Manville, Edward||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Matthews, David||Waring, Major Walter|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Whitla, Sir William|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Ednam, Viscount||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Elveden, Viscount||Murray, Rt. Hon. C. D. (Edinburgh)||Willcughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Evans, Ernest||Nall, Major Joseph||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Neal, Arthur||Wilson, Capt. A S. (Holderness)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Windsor, Viscount|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Nicholson, Brig-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Winterton Earl|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Wise, Frederick|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Gee, Captain Robert||Parker, James||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Parkinson, Sir Albert L. (Blackpool)||Younger, Sir George|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gould, James C.||Perkins, Walter Frank||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Perring, William George||McCurdy.|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The next Amendment I select is that relating to the omission from the Order of domestic hollow-ware.
§ Sir DONALD MACLEAN
On a point of Order. I am, of course, very well aware of the Standing Order under which you have now exercised your power. May I ask whether, although there are no exceptions made in its terms in 1208 regard to Motions on financial matters, you would not take into account, in making your selection of Amendments, that this is in fact a taxing Order and the extreme importance of the opinion of the House being taken on each separate Order as it is applied? I am sure I can promise on behalf of those associated with me that, if you would allow No. 4—(Illuminating Glass-ware)— 1209 to be taken—no reference was made to it in the preceding Debate—the discussion upon it would be very brief and businesslike, as we are not at all anxious to keep the House sitting on until the morning. We are anxious to maintain what we most respectfully consider to be a matter of great importance, namely, that on each of these separate Orders the vote of the House should be taken. If you would allow this to be taken, the discussion would not take long and the Division would quite speedily follow. I make the appeal to you, Sir, very earnestly indeed, that you would relax your decision in favour of a very small Opposition fighting for a great principle.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The right hon. Gentleman (Sir D. Maclean) may be assured that I have carefully considered this matter before now. The fault of which he is complaining lies, from his point of view, in the Statute that provides for this procedure, and is responsible for the Resolution we have before us at the present Sitting. I offered to the Members who moved the preceding Amendment that they should follow the same procedure as in the case of fabric gloves and glove fabric, and take the two Questions enquired into by the same Committee from which the Order results. But they did not see fit to follow that suggestion. I told them at the same time that if they followed that method, as they were quite entitled to do, I did not propose to select the second Amendment dealing with glass-ware.
§ Captain BENN
On that point of Order, Mr. Speaker. This is a new form of taxation. The rulings you are giving now will govern procedure for many years. These Orders will not be considered early in the day. As exempted business, they will be considered late at night. We submit that numbers 3 and 4 raise different issues. Number 4 involves the issue of the inclusion of Czecho-Slovakian glass, for example. That there is a difference is shown clearly by the fact that the Government have divided the issues into two, and numbered them separately the Schedule. Therefore I submit that the House of Commons ought to be permitted to vote on each of the headings. They are not individual articles to be taxed, but headings which will be amplified in tariffs, and I do respect- 1210 fully submit that, not owing to the Statute, but owing to your own powers under Standing Order 27A, Mr. Speaker, you should not exercise those powers to exclude at least a Division upon these new taxes.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I am afraid I cannot alter my decision. I must be trusted to see that matters of this kind, so long as I am in the Chair, do not originate after Eleven o'clock, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Bean) suggests. Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman propose to move?
§ Mr. KILEY
I beg to move, after the word "August" ["line 20, leave out 'day of June,' and insert '8th day of August'"], to insert the wordsPage 3, leave out lines 4 to 6, inclusive.We have been led to believe, by the Report of the Committee, that vast quantities of foreign manufactured hollow-ware articles are being dumped into this country. I invite hon. Members to look at the figures of the Board of Trade. In 1913 we imported 13,000 odd tons of domestic hollow-ware. In 1921 we imported 7,000 tons. If, as we are led to believe, these goods are imported on account of depreciated currency—not 20 marks to the £, but 1,000 to 1,500 marks; it is 3,000 to-day, but I am speaking of 1921—we ought to have 10 times the quantity that we were getting, and getting them practically for nothing. We have capable and shrewd business men in this country, but instead of our buying up this wonderfully cheap ware we are not taking even half of the pre-War quantity. The one fact that stands out clearly is that all this talk about the effects of depreciated currency as far as these goods are concerned is without foundation. Therefore, we are entitled to ask on what grounds we are placing this duty on these articles, making them so much more expensive than they otherwise would be? In addition to the 33⅓ per cent. duty there will be the increased profits and charges. Why should the price of these articles, which are necessary to every cottage in the land, be increased by 40 to 50 per cent.?
Perhaps the Board of Trade will say whether this duty is to be placed on what is known as "blanks." Manufacturers in this country import large quantities of 1211 these hollow-ware articles not enamelled; they are known as "blanks." Will they be taxed as well as the finished article? If the President of the Board of Trade, or whoever is to reply, will look at the Report of the Committee he will see that, although enamelled articles decorated are not manufactured in this country, yet they recommend that the duty should also be placed on them. The reason for that is that it is suggested that, if duties are not so imposed, people will buy the more expensive decorated ware, which will be free of duty. There are three points of view in connection with this duty. The first is that large quantities of these goods not enamelled are imported for the purpose of remanufacture in this country. The second is that articles are not decorated to any extent in this country. The third is that articles of low quality have the 33⅓ per cent. duty placed on them. I see no advantage accruing to the people using these articles, but a good deal of disadvantage in them having to pay ever so much more.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I beg to second the Amendment.
The main discussion on this Order took place on the question of fabric gloves. When all is said and done, fabric gloves are not a necessity of life; now we are now dealing with one of the prime necessities of at least civilised life—cooking utensils. I suppose if we enjoy many more years of Coalition Government the population of these islands will be reduced to a form of savagery and eat their meat raw. Living is being cut clown drastically, and it will not be surprising if that is brought about, but until we reach that lower standard of civilisation which the Government seem to be aiming at, cooking utensils are absolutely necessary. I do not like to make any sort of reflection on the Members of the Committee. I admit that the gentlemen on these Committees, who at some sacrifice of time and trouble conducted these inquiries very fairly, were on the whole altogether impartial and well fitted for their task. I do not know by name even one of the gentlemen who formed this Committee who sat on the case of domestic utensils. On page 7 of their Report they make a very remarkable statement. They say there is no industry which uses aluminium hollow-ware mate- 1212 rial, in other words, unlike the Committee who sat on it [Laughter]. I suppose this merriment is because it is very late at night, although it is not my fault that this discussion is being taken at this hour. This is a matter which affects very poor people who are trying to set up houses to-day. We are taxing the articles for cooking that the poor housewife needs. When this Committee finds that no great, powerful industry and Noble Lords who support these views in Downing Street are affected by these taxes, they say no industry is affected at all. They forget that greatest of all industries, the keeping together of families in homes, is seriously affected. This Order, looked at from this point of view, is more important than the question of fabric gloves. We can do without fabric gloves, but we cannot do without cooking utensils.
What appears on page 7 shows what an utter misconception the Committee have of the problem with which they are faced. Let me also draw retention to paragraph 11, which is extremely illuminating. This is one of four favourable reports out of 123 applications. They picked out the four best. The Committee say that they have reached the conclusion that the reduction of the sales of the British articles is due partly to the depression and partly owing to the lower prices of the imported articles, which are cheaper, owing to the lower wages paid to the German workmen in consequence of the depreciation of the mark, etc. They add that it is due also to the reduced purchasing power of the mass of the British population and their consequent inclination to buy the German article because it is cheap and better value for the money. There you have the whole history of the decline of manufacture in this country. The Report points out that in 1919–20, and the early part of 1921, the industry was comparatively busy. Since then there has been the inevitable slump, because you have reduced the working-class wages of this country, and the people are unable to replace their cooking vessels; they are perhaps unable to purchase anything, except perhaps sufficient food to keep them alive. The workers in the factories are thrown out of employment, and then you come and raise the price to these people. You try to stop the rot by doses of poison. So much for the details of this Report—a 1213 Report in which the Committee is halting. They safeguard themselves; they have grave doubts about their findings. I am not being unfair to the Report.
But let us look at another point of view. I am glad to see present the hon. Gentleman who represents the Department of Overseas Trade. He is like the twin masks one sees at the theatres—one grave and the other gay. He has two countenances. The first countenance is adapted to international conferences—it is the comical, the gay one. Thus he says:Whatever may be the Importance of the reasons of an economic or financial character alleged by certain States in the exceptional circumstances in which they find themselves, as justifying the maintenance or institution of import or export prohibitions or restrictions, it is recognised that these measures constitute at the present time one of the gravest obstacles to international trade.That is an article on the economic findings of the Genoa Conference to which the hon. and gallant Member was one of the distinguished delegates from this country. He mentioned the Swiss delegates who were protesting against the attempt to reduce tariffs and said that he spoke up for the "Most favoured Clause" all round. He follows it up by beautifully written articles in the "Sunday Times." He talks about international suspicion, and international hatred, and the endeavour to make each nation self-supporting. Then he comes down here and advocates this Measure of protection. We then get the tragic mask. We are told about wicked Germany undermining our industry, destroying our trade by dumping, and unemployment arising from German competition. If he wishes to write a newspaper article to-morrow, he will put the gay mask back—like the Prime Minister—and talk about beating down international hatred and restoring freedom of trade and international peace. Then another Order will be produced by the Board of Trade. What hypocrisy; what humbug! This is part of the double-faced policy the Government has adopted. At international conferences they have to make some effort to restore economic prosperity to the world. In this Report it is pointed out that in the years following the Armistice there was a big export trade which took the products of the British factory, and that then it died down because of 1214 the difficulties of the exchanges and the ruin in Europe which was caused by the Peace Treaties and the foreign policy pursued by the present Government, sometimes in agreement with their Allies, and sometimes not, as in the case of Asia Minor. These products of the British factory included the domestic articles we are discussing. Our policy has done grave injury to British trade. The Government are reducing the standard of living of the working classes. They are beating down with arms the workmen who resist and withdraw their labour, and then they get the inevitable, slow, creeping paralysis of the internal trade of the country. Then you get manufacturers, who cannot find customers for their goods, running to the Board of Trade and appealing to some Committee; then you get this halfhearted, halting, hesitating Report, one of four out of 123, and on that this ridiculous Order is brought in. There is another point. These four Orders, of which this one is the most pernicious for the reasons which I have given, and which affects the whole—
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
The hon. Member for Holderness has been interrupting the Debate for the last two hours. I think the reason is because the farmers have been holding meetings in his own constituency condemning his silence while they are suffering injustices at the hands of the Government. If he wishes to take part in the Debate, we will listen to him with courtesy, of which he has not set an example. In the meantime he will perhaps allow me to pursue my argument which, after all, is a matter of some importance. To-day the German mark has touched another record for depreciation. During this year I have crossed over to Germany six times; each month of this year I have had to go over for a few days, and on each occasion I have discussed the situation with Englishmen in Germany, in the Embassy, with English merchants living in the. great German cities, with leading Germans themselves, bankers, financiers, politicians and so on, and I have tried to get as much information as I could of the situation in that country. On the last occasion when I was there, three weeks ago, I noticed a distinct change for the worse in this respect, and I particularly commend this point to my 1215 right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. For the first time I noticed this change that Germans are beginning to despair. Their currency is continually depreciating, they see no signs of any reasonable policy being adopted towards them and they are beginning to give up hope. Up to now they have been, all classes, working hard, extremely hard. There has been scraping and saving; the great mass of the people have been industrious and hard working. If they finally give up the struggle what is going to happen? You will have another great unit going the way of Russia and Austria. It is this sort of thing and this sort of Orders which we are debating at very nearly two o'clock in the morning that is going to drive despair further into them. This year they are expecting to have an adverse balance of imports of 200 million pounds sterling over exports. That being the case, how can they possibly go on paying the two or three hundred millions a year that they have paid up to date, far short of the demands, except by the expedient of printing more paper currency, getting the world to take it at a less and less value? That is all that can possibly happen.
If they cannot export they cannot pay except by that doubtful and unsound expediency of issuing the printed press and unloading the results on to the world. We are preventing them in these four Orders from trying to redress the trade balance against them. In other words, we are still further punishing them for not paying. There is the real wickedness of this policy. Four and a half years after the Armistice we are still carrying on the War, we are still aiming these tariffs at our beaten, defeated and humbled enemies. We dare not apply these tariffs to the United States or to Czecho-Slovakia because of retaliation; we confine them to Germany. Enamelled hollow-ware, aluminium cooking utensils are not great key industries. They are important only for the consumer. The factories that make them are not of great use in war time. The men employed in them are nothing in comparison with the men employed in our great industries like agriculture, textile and wool, coal mining and so on. But there is the bad effect throughout the whole world 1216 of England adopting a tariff system With all the resources of the federations of manufacturers, trading associations and the like, after 10 months, only four partial cases are made out, and, of the Orders, I submit this is one of the most mischievous. These other three Orders have been kept out of the public attention by the great agitation about glove fabrics. I do hope the House will think again before giving the Government another vote of confidence on this matter It is much more serious than just the providing of some temporary and artificial employment for a few hundred men in this comparatively small industry. It is the psychological effect, if I may use a much hackneyed word; it is the most mischievous of all.
§ 2.0 A.M.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
The House which heard the hon. and gallant Member's speech would suppose that this was a very serious matter, and would create a crisis, not only in the political life of this country but in the domestic life of all its inhabitants. It is not quite so serious as that. It is a very simple matter. The Act is in force and I do not propose to follow the hon. and gallant Member into what would have been more properly a Second Reading speech when this Bill was originally before the House of Commons. The Act being in force, the Committee had a very simple task to perform in the case of hollow-ware. The Committee performed it with care and with precision and they have arrived at a unanimous conclusion on the facts which were brought before them. The conclusion at which they arrived was that here is an industry in which there is serious unemployment. It is an industry which is efficiently conducted and the production of which is good—quite as good as is produced anywhere else; and the unemployment is largely due to the depreciation in the exchange. The imports come entirely from Germany. These facts being established, the Committee naturally recommended that Orders should be made in both these cases. They have also found, as a fact, that in no case is this hollow-ware used as the raw material of another industry. In these circumstances, I submit to the House that they can pass this Order with a very clear conscience so far as it affects these goods with the reasonable certainty that the passing of the Order will create a certain amount of 1217 employment, and that it will not involve us in any grave domestic difficulties which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has so terrifyingly foreshadowed. I believe that this Order, if passed, will not introduce any jars into family life, and that the persons of all classes will be able to obtain as formerly, the lares and penates which the hon. Member is always so anxious to preserve.
§ Mr. HOLMES
The Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department treats this whole matter as a joke. He derided my hon and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), and he apparently thinks it is a matter pour rire following the example of the President of the Board of Trade who, in introducing this Bill to the House, said that it was merely a foundling which he found on the steps of the Board of Trade. Surely this matter is something more serious than that. The proposition before the House now is in regard to hollow-ware. I want to treat this matter from the point of view of analogy. I am to a certain extent interested in another trade which has not the protection of the Safeguarding of Industries Act.
§ Mr. HOLMES
It is not cigars or toys, or anything in which the hon. Member is interested—nor despatches. But this particular trade was very severely hit by foreign competition a year or nine months ago, and those who were in charge of the business came to me and said that, unless the Government protected it, it was in serious danger of being blotted out. I told them that in my view there was not the slightest chance of the Safeguarding of Industries Act being of assistance to them, and that they had got to fight the thing out. What was the result? Those in charge of the business, which was a parent company with six or seven subsidiary companies, put their heads together to reduce overhead charges to the minimum. They adopted two methods. They took advantage of whatever science and experience could give them, and to-day the result is that they have been so able to improve their system of manufacture that they are able to fight the foreigner on his own level, notwithstanding the exchanges, whereas 1218 nine months ago they thought that they would be entirely blotted out. That is the way in which British industry has been developed for two or three generations, not by means of Protection, but by enterprise, initiative, perseverance and determination.
I turn to hollow-ware. If you protect hollow-ware, you put those in that industry in a position in which they become lethargic and atrophied. They say, "There is no need for us to try." Where you do not protect people they do their utmost by the qualities which I have expressed. If we are going to protect in this way various industries, we shall never continue to do the things for the progress of British industry which our forefathers did in the days gone by.
§ Mr. HANNON
I rise to congratulate my hon. Friend on his wonderful discovery in the organisation of British industry that a trust can do the very things which those who are struggling to help the small industries say you can do by a moderate measure of Protection. He found that by using these modern methods, and by combination and co-ordination and resource, he was able to carry on successfully. If I may say so, the question of protecting hollow-ware against unfair competition is something the House ought to treat seriously indeed. I represent a Division of Birmingham, where a great number of my constituents are engaged in this industry, and it is most unfair to them that hollow-ware should be dumped into this country at prices below the cost of production in this country, because of the collapse of the German exchanges. I think that this House is bound to protect people in that position against unfair competition of that kind. I think the Committee's Report very clear. It. says:Our general conclusions are that unemployment in British industry is due partly to the reduced purchasing power of the public, partly to German imports, and (2) that the recent increase in German imports is clue to the recovery of their prewar trade, assisted by the depreciation of the mark. In what precise proportion its various factors operate we are unable to say.It is perfectly clear that the depreciation of the mark, which has been intensified continually since that Report, is an important contributing factor in the situation. This House is bound to take this important industry, and I hope that when 1219 we go to a Division the House will emphasise its approval of this Order by strongly supporting the Government.
One thing has struck me during the discussion. Where are Manchester and Lancashire? I find that after all the sudden conversions we had from Lancashire they are only devoted to one particular subject.
I am afraid we must declare that the Government's policy in this matter is a little bit ungracious. This is the only little fragment saved from the wreckage of their great policy of reconstruction? Land settlement has gone, agriculture has gone, housing has gone, and there is just this one little bit of their reconstruction policy left. I would congratulate my right hon. Friend on being the author of the only substantial part of the reconstruction policy which has remained. I am more or less credibly informed that he amuses himself when no one is about by singing,'Tis the last rose of summerLeft blooming alone;All her lovely companionsAre withered and gone.To come to hollow-ware. I would ask the representatives of the Board of Trade, when they say that no raw material for any other industry is affected, whether "blanks" are to be touched under this Order, whether cooking and other utensils of that sort taken into this country for the purpose of enamelling are included? That question was put, but it was not answered. There is a good deal of labour employed upon enamel ware of that sort that is brought into this country. Then there is the question of decorative ware. The Committee have admitted that practically no decorative enamel ware is made in this country, and they are taxing it. They excuse this by saying that the Germans or some other foreigners may put marks upon the ware and call it decorative ware, and under-sell our people; but the mere fact that it was decorated would ensure that it was not a competitive article. I object to this tax particularly, because it affects the domestice budget; it makes it more difficult for the working people of this country to have sufficient utensils for cooking their food. There appears to be some uncertainty about this document. There is no aggressive dogmatism in this 1220 Order; it is permeated by a philosophic doubt about the wisdom of the policy. I could read out several passages to show that the Committee had grave doubts as to whether they should adopt the policy or not. This Order, I think, is one of the least excusable of the whole lot. There is not much excuse for fabric gloves.
Captain S. WILSON
You are not getting on with your work very well. You are almost as dull as the other lot.
This particular Order is the least excusable of the lot. It is an attack upon the domestic budget, and it interferes with an ordinary working-class family having many cooking utensils in the home as they require, and makes living much more expensive.
§ Major M. WOOD
This is the first time I have attempted to address the House on this Resolution, although I have given a good deal of attention and study to the subject, and I think I am not asking too much from hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway when I invite them to listen for a moment. [Interruption.] I want to suggest one or two points. It is obvious that this question does not excite the same interest as fabric gloves, for the reason, I assume, that it does not affect so many votes, but there are other questions to be considered besides mere questions of votes when we are dealing with these Orders. Domestic hollow-ware is of as much importance to the consumers of these goods as fabric gloves—
§ Major WOOD
This particular industry has no influential friends like fabric gloves. It has no Lord Derby, or else, perhaps, we would have had a. larger attendance to discuss this question at the present time, but it is a scandal that, when we are putting on taxes of this kind that they should be put on without a full scrutiny of all these Reports, because I am sure that the Orders, not only in 1221 this case, but in every case, are not carrying out the recommendations of the Committees which were appointed to consider these matters. Take the second sub-heading of this particular question of domestic hollowware. The Committee was appointed to consider certain classes of articles, which were wrought iron and domestic hollow-ware. The Order which we are asked to assent to here does not confine itself to wrought iron, but also includes steel. What right has the Government to make an Order which will go outside, not merely the recommendations of the Committee, but outside the class of articles the Committee was asked to consider? If anyone will consult the wording of the Act, he will find that the Order which is supposed to be made must conform strictly to the question which has been referred to the Committee and which they have investigated. No Committee ever investigated the question of steel hollow-ware, and yet the Government is asking us to make an Order in respect of steel hollow-ware. That is a substantial point, and I hope we shall get some sort of reply as to why the Government are going outside the terms of the Committee's Report, and, indeed, doing something which they are not empowered to do by the Act. Unfortunately, although they have no power to do this any mistake of that kind cannot be remedied, because there is a Section of the Act which says that any Order made under it shall have Statutory effect. There is a point to which I wish to direct attention in the last paragraph of the Report. I am speaking now about aluminium hollowware. There is a similar paragraph in the Report which deals in wrought iron-ware. It was of so much importance that I put down a special Amendment to try to raise the question. The quickest way to make my point is to read out the particular paragraph—14. We recommend that, if the Board of Trade should think fit to make an Order in
§ this case, it should not continue in force even for so long a period as would be possible under the proviso to Section 9 of the Act. We also think that, if an application should hereafter he made for renewal of the Order, the Committee to which it is referred should then be satisfied that the accounting methods of the applicants have been made thoroughly efficient. We appreciate that in normal conditions continuity of tariff policy is of great importance to manufacturers, but we do not think that at the present time, when all other conditions are in a state of flux, this consideration is strong enough to justify the continuance, subject only to a possible revocation, of a duty for so long a period as two and a half years."
§ That is a distinct recommendation by the Committee, that if the Government put in force their recommendation, they should not do so for the full period of two years, but for, say, a year. Why has not the Government adopted that particular recommendation? It will be said that the Government have power to terminate the Order at the end of a year, but that is no satisfaction to the House of Commons, which has a right to ask that they should be allowed to control the Parliamentary situation. I suggest that the House is bound to take notice of a definite recommendation like that from a Committee. It ought not to let the matter out of its hands, so that it may have an opportunity, despite what the Government may say, of reviewing the question a year hence; and if conditions then do not make an Order advisable, the House ought not to renew it. These are substantial points, and I would like an answer to them before we take the Division.
§ Question put "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 158; Noes, 42.1223
|Division No. 267.]||AYES.||[2.25 a.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir Jamas Tynte||Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Brown, Major O. C.|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut-Colonel Martin||Betterton, Henry B.||Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Bigland, Alfred||Bruton, Sir James|
|Atkay, A. R.||Birchall, J. Dearman||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Blane, T. A.||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Soscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith||Carr, W. Theodore|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Sowyer, Capialn G. W. E.||Casey, T. W.|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Brassey, H. L. C.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Breese, Major Charles E.||Churchman, Sir Arthur|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Kidd. James||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Scddon, J. A.|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Lloyd, George Butler||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Ednam, Viscount||Lort-Williams, J.||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Lowther, MaJ.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Elveden, Viscount||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Evans, Ernest||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Terrell, George (Wilts. Chippenham)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Manville, Edward||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||; Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell (Maryhill)|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Murray, Rt. Hon. C. D. (Edinburgh)||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Nall, Major Joseph||Townley, Maximillan G.|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Neal, Arthur||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Vickers, Douglas|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Guthrie, Thomas Mauie||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Hailwood, Augustine||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Hamilton, Sir George C.||Parker, James||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Parkinson, Sir Albert L. (Blackpool)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Whitia, Sir William|
|Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Perkins, Walter Frank||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Perring, William George||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Windsor, Viscount|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Pratt. John William||Winterton, Earl|
|Hood, Sir Joseph||Purchase, H. G.||Wise, Frederick|
|Hope, Sir H.(Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn'n, W.)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Held, D. D.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Home, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Remer, J. R||Young. Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Younger, Sir George|
|Houlton, John Plowright||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Howard, Major S. G.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Jameson, John Gordon||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||McCurdy.|
|Banton, George||Hayward, Evan||Raffan, peter Wilson|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hirst, G. H.||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hogge, James Myles||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Holmes, J. Stanley||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Briant, Frank||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Swan, J. E.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock:||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwelity)||Kiley, James Daniel||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Lawson, John James||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough. E.)|
|Glllis, William||Lunn, William||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Maclean. Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Myers, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Halls, Walter||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Mr. Foot and Mr. Mosley|
On a point of Order. May I ask whether it is in order for an hon. Member who is pledged not to give a vote on a controversial matter to vote for the Closure. I refer to the Recorder of London.
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 48; Noes, 154.1225
|Division No. 268.]||AYES.||[2.34 a.m.|
|Banton, George||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Gillis, William|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwelity)||Grenfell, D R (Glamorgan)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Grundy. T. W.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Entwistle, Major C. F.||Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)|
|Briant, Frank||Evans, Ernest||Hall, F. (York. W. R., Normanton)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Foot, Isaac||Halls, Walter|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||France, Gerald Ashburner||Hayward, Evan|
|Hirst, G. H.||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Hogge, James Myles||Mosley, Oswald||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Holmes, J. Stanley||Myers, Thomas||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Rendall, Athelstan||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Kiley, James Daniel||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Lawson, John James||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)||Dr. Murray and Ma|or Mackenzie|
|Lunn, William||Swan, J. E.||Wood.|
|Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Pratt, John William|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Hallwood, Augustine||Purchase, H. G.|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Hamilton, Sir George C.||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Remer, J. R.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Hood, Sir Joseph||Scott, A. M, (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hope, Sir H.(Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn'n, W.)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hopkins, John W. W.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Birchall, J. Dearman||Home, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Biane, T. A.||Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith||Houfton, John Plowright||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Howard, Major S. G.||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Jameson, John Gordon||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Jephcott, A. R.||Sugden, W. H.|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Brown, Major D. C.||Kidd, James||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Brown, Brig-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Lloyd, George Butler||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Carr, W. Tneodore||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tlngd'n)||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Casey. T. W.||Lort-Williams, J.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Vickers, Douglas|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Manville, Edward||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Murray, Rt. Hon. C. D. (Edinburgh)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Nall, Major Joseph||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Ednam, Viscount||Neal, Arthur||Windsor, Viscount|
|Elveden, Viscount||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Winterton, Earl|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen.J. (Westminster)||Wise, Frederick|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.;||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Parker, James||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Parkinson, Sir Albert L. (Blackpool)||Younger, Sir George|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Perkins, Walter Frank||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Goff. Sir R. Park||Perring, William George||McCurdy.|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
§ Captain BENN
I rise to a point of Order. I wish to ask whether you, Sir, propose to permit any hon. Members—I ask for myself, as I have two Amendments down—to make, under Standing Order 27A, an explanatory statement of their Amendments before you put a Motion to exclude two and a half pages of Amendments on the Paper.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I am afraid the hon. and gallant Member has not read Standing Order 27A carefully enough. In it he will find that Mr. Speaker may, if he think fit, call upon any hon. Member to explain his Amendment. The Amendments on the Paper were so clear to me that I did not think it necessary to call upon hon. Members.
§ Captain BENN
Do I understand, on this point of Order, from you, Sir, that 1227 on this important occasion you are not proposing to exercise your powers under Standing Order 27A, and are ruling out 20 or 30 Amendments, without giving hon. Members the right that you can give if you wish to make some explanatory statement if they so desire?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I am not doing anything of the kind. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill is entitled to claim the Main Question, and he has done so.
§ Main Question put accordingly.
§ The House proceeded to a Division.
Mr. J. JONES
(seated and covered): On a point of Order. May I be allowed to oppose this Motion? I want to give my reasons for opposing it. Some of us will have no opportunity, time being monopolised by some of those who are Free Traders and alleged Tariff Reformers—
§ The House divided: Ayes, 152; Noes, 47.1229
|Division No. 269.]||AYES.||[2.45 a.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M.S.||Hallwood, Augustine||Pratt, John William|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Hamilton, Sir George C.||Purchase, H G.|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Atkey, A. R||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Remer, J. R.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir p. (Chertsey)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hood, Sir Joseph||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Hope, Sir H.(Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn'n.W.)||Scott, A M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Seddon, J. A.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Home, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Birchall, J. Dearman||Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Blane, T. A.||Houlton, John Plowright||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, south)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Howard, Major S. G.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Jameson, John Gordon||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Jephcott, A. R.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Sugden, W. H|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Kidd, James||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Brown, Major D. C.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Lloyd, George Butler||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tlngd'n)||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Lort-Williams, J.||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Casey, T. W.||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Vickers, Douglas|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Walters, Rt, Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Cockerlll, Brigadier-General G. K.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Manville, Edward||Waring, Major Walter|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||White. Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Murray, Rt. Hon, C. D. (Edinburgh)||Williams. C. (Tavistock)|
|Ednam, Viscount||Nail, Major Joseph||Willoughby. Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Elveden, Viscount||Neal, Arthur||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Evans, Ernest||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Windsor, Viscount|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Winterton, Earl|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Wise, Frederick|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.||Wood, Hon, Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Parker, James||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Parkinson, Sir Albert L. (Blackpool)||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Younger, Sir George|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Goft, Sir R. Park||Perkins, Walter Frank||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hackn'y, N.)||Perring, William George||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||McCurdy.|
|Banton, George||erown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Entwistle, Major C. F.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Foot, Isaac|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||France, Gerald Ashburner|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Gillis, William|
|Briant, Frank||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Lawson, John James||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hernsworth)||Lunn, William||Swan, J. E.|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Halls, Walter||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Hayward, Evan||Mosley, Oswald||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Hirst, G. H.||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Holmes, J. Stanley||Myers, Thomas||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Rattan, Peter Wilson|
|Jones, T. I, Mardy (Pontypridd)||Rendall, Athelstan||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Kenworthy, Lieut-Commander J. M.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Mr. Hogge and Mr. Penry|
|Kiley, James Daniel||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Williams.|
That the draft of the Order proposed to be made by the Board of Trade under The Safeguarding of Industries Act, 1921, which was laid before this House on the 19th day of June, 1922, and published, be approved, subject to the following modifications (that is to say):—
Page 2 of the said draft, line 20, leave out 'day of June,' and insert '8th day of August.'
Page 3, line 17, leave out 'day of June,' and insert 8th day of August.'
§ The remaining Government Orders were read, and postponed.
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to the Order of the House of 25th July.
§ Adjourned at Seven Minutes before Three o'Clock a.m.