HC Deb 15 March 1922 vol 151 cc2199-205

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to repeal the Dyestuffs (Import Regulation) Act, 1920. It may be that some hon. Members who cheer think that I have changed my opinion. I am still in favour of protection of efficient industries, but I will not allow this Act to be foisted upon me as an example of protectionist legislation. I am not in favour of any form of protection for mere profiteering purposes, but only for the purpose of preventing efficient industries from being driven abroad to foreign countries. This Act is mere prohibition, importation being by licence; it does not provide real protection. I submit that the dyes industry which was introduced into this country during the War and by this Act has been proved beyond any manner of doubt to be a thoroughly inefficient industry. British Dyes, Limited, have charged monstrous prices for very inefficient material, and, in spite of that fact, have been unable to make any profits. Some years ago an Act of Parliament, known as the Patents Act, was introduced by the present Prime Minister, then President of the Board of Trade, and was passed, and one of the industries which was established in this country as the result of that Act was a factory to make what is known as synthetic indigo. That factory is now owned by British Dyes, Limited. They charge 2s. per 1b. for this synthetic indigo, whereas the same material can be purchased from abroad at 8d. per 1b.

If protection be necessary for the dye industry, why is it not also necessary for the materials which are made from dyes, such as dyed goods, dyed yarn, and dyed silk? I will read a letter which I have received this morning, and which shows conclusively, I think, the reason I am asking leave to introduce this Bill. A well known firm in Manchester—I am prepared to give the name if I am asked to do so—applied to the Dyes Advisory Committee on 6th February for a permit to buy one ton of lythol red B.M. powder from Germany at 9s. per ton. This was refused, and they were told to use an English substitute, monolite red, at 16s. per ton. This made a difference on the actual cost of their manufacture, which was known as lake colour, of£798. One ton of dyes makes 9| tons of dry lake colour, and the difference, at£84 per ton, is£798. The letter goes on to say: What these people do not realise and refuse to see is that the consequences were: (1) Our customer bought abroad, and we lost the business altogether; (2) our workpeople would have had a full three weeks' work, and we have been on short time since October; (3) to people like ourselves, aniline dyes of high class are our raw material as much as coal; and (4) they have absolutely killed our foreign business which took forty years to establish. Yet, in spite of that fact, the goods which they are manufacturing are allowed to come in free, and there is no protection whatsoever. There is a still more important reason why I am asking to introduce this Bill. The administration of the Act has been deplorably bad. Licences have not been given to substantial people in the trade, but to men of straw, who have made enormous profits by illicit importation. I say, further, that the administration of the Act gives an unfair advantage to trade competitors who are on the Licensing Committee and who get information as to their competitors' business. The Act has given no protection at all to the consumers of dyes. It has produced dear dyes and bad dyes. British Dyes, Limited, have been very badly managed. The people who have been put on to the directorate by the Government have been the wrong people. Whatever other methods may be adopted to protect the dye industry, this is the wrong method. Therefore, for these reasons, I ask leave to introduce this Bill.

Lieut.-Commander ASTBURY

As a calico printer and as a large consumer of fine dyes, I think that I have at least as great a qualification to speak on this question as my hon. Friend who has just resumed his seat, and I am going to offer the most uncompromising opposition to this Bill. I have only 10 minutes in which to speak and I would ask hon. Members to give me a fair hearing, because I am not going to indulge in any windy rhetoric; I am simply going to give the House facts. I am opposing this Bill, first of all, on behalf of the consumer; secondly, on behalf of the producer; and, thirdly, on behalf of those classes which, if this dye industry be encouraged in this country, will be given work. I am going to deal with the position which has been raised. I know that in Manchester there is a very small minority who cry out against this Licensing Act. I would refer hon. Members to the speech made by the Chairman of the Calico Printers' Association at the last annual meeting. They had had a disastrous year, and he seemed to put it all down to the fact that they had not been able to get sufficient dyes to carry out their work. I say, quite unequivocally, that that was simply used as a political weapon in favour of Free Trade and was nothing more and nothing less. When I tell hon. Members that I have never been on short time in my works; that I am working full time today, and even working overtime; that I am booked up to the end of this year; and that I have to purchase the same dyes as the Calico Printers' Association and others have to buy; and that I have never had the slightest difficulty in getting both from the home and foreign producer what dyes I want, I think the House can take my word for it.

Wherever application is made by a consumer to the Licensing Committee for a dye, if that dye is not produced in this country, he gets his application granted at once. In the case of an agent making application for dyes, very probably his application is not granted at first, because an agent does not make application for the dye asked for by the consumer, but in order to get in a big stock of dyes which he thinks the consumer in the future may want, with the result that if those dyes are not required he puts them on the market and floods out our own producer. It is complained that the Committee are not carrying out their functions properly with regard to the consumer. I would ask of the House just for one moment to look at the composition of the Committee. There are three dye users, three independent members, and two other members. Therefore, in order to get a majority, they have simply to get one independent member on their side.

I want to put another proposition before the House, because complaint is made that we are not progressing fast enough with the manufacture of dyes. There is a colour Rhodamine 6G. Before the War that colour was sold at 11d. per 1b. in this country. During the War I myself paid 140s. per 1b. for it. [HON. MEMBERS: "To Levenstein."] No, to some Jew who had in a supply of it from Germany. To-day there is in this country a firm which is making that colour. I am buying it, and it is equally as good as the German colour. Hon. Members talk about producing dyes here. Anyone who knows anything about the dye trade knows that, if a new dye be invented in the biggest German works, it is three years before they put that dye on the market. It has to go through all sorts of tests as to light and atmosphere, and, until they can get the colour perfect, they will not put it on the market. Our manufacturers now, while trade is slack, are trying to perfect these colours. What is going to happen if you repeal this Act? To-day, Germany with the depreciation in her mark, is offering colours which we can produce in this country at a price much below our price, but for other colours, which we cannot produce, she is asking an extortionate price. If you kill the industry in this country, she will ask the same extortionate price for the colours that we can produce.

It has been said that goods have been sent from Manchester to be printed and dyed in foreign countries. That is absolutely untrue. There was always a small amount that used to go to Mulhausen for special purposes, but I will give some figures for exports which will prove what I am saying. For two months in 1921 the total exports of printed and dyed goods were 7,032,600 square yards, and for the two months of 1922, 13,981,700 square yards. The total of exports for the two months of 1921 was 121,227,100 square yards, and for the two months of 1922, 126,371,500 square yards. The Continent has sent us 578,000 square yards more of dyed and printed cloth, but we have sent the Continent 6,849,000 square

yards of dyed and printed cloth more than in the two months of 1921. Trade is improving in the dyeing and printing trades in Lancashire, but if this Bill is to be repealed we fear that in the future this country will go out as a colour-producing country, and we should then have to rely solely on ex-enemy countries for our colours. I would ask the House to remember the War. At that time those of us who were in this trade spent many sleepless nights, never knowing when we might have to close down our works because we could not get the colours that we ought to have been able to produce in this country. Colour is the least item of expenditure of all in a works. As I have stated before in this House, the total expenditure for colour on a manufactured piece of 150 yards of cloth is only 3 per cent., and I say without the slightest hesitation, as a producer, that I would pay 2s., 3s., or 4s. a pound more for my colour, and, if it were genuine, it would not make the slightest difference in my sale price, spread over the huge production which a works turns out. I therefore offer uncompromising opposition to this Bill, and I hope that the House will divide and will not allow it to be introduced.

Question put, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to repeal the Dyestuffs (Import Regulation) Act, 1920."

The House divided: Ayes, 115; Noes, 197.

Division No. 49.] AYES. [4.18 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. William Entwistle, Major C. F. Lawson, John James
Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent Fildes, Henry Lunn, William
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Finney, Samuel Lyle-Samuel, Alexander
Ainsworth, Captain Charles Foot, Isaac Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray
Ammon, Charles George Frece, Sir Walter de Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Galbraith, Samuel MacVeagh, Jeremiah
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G. Gange, E. Stanley Marriott, John Arthur Ransome
Barrand, A. R. Gilbert, James Daniel Mitchell, Sir William Lane
Barton, Sir William (Oldham) Glanville, Harold James Moreing, Captain Algernon H.
Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk) Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Mosley, Oswald
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central) Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)
Bramsdon, Sir Thomas Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Myers, Thomas
Briant, Frank Grundy, T. W. Newbould, Alfred Ernest
Broad, Thomas Tucker Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth) O'Connor, Thomas P.
Bromfield, William Halls, Walter Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Hancock, John George Rae, H. Norman
Cairns, John Hayday, Arthur Ratcliffe, Henry Butler
Cape, Thomas Hayward, Evan Redmond, Captain William Archer
Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield) Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin) Hinds, John Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Hodge, Rt. Hon. John Robertson, John
Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe) Holmes, J. Stanley Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)
Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln) Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) Rose, Frank H.
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Irving, Dan Royce, William Stapleton
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Sexton, James
Davison, J. E. (Smethwick) Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Edge, Captain Sir William Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Sitch, Charles H.
Edwards, C (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Kennedy, Thomas Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)
Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South) Kenworthy, Lieut-Commander J. M. Spencer, George A.
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon) Kenyon, Barnet Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.
Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath) Kiley, James Daniel Sutton, John Edward
Swan, J. E. Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley] Wintringham, Margaret
Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield) Waterson, A. E. Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C)
Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby) Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D. Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey) Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C. Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)
Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham) Wignall, James
Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West) Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.) Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.) Mr. Remer and Mr. Alexander Shaw.
Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow) Wilson, James (Dudley)
Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince) Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)
Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S. Goff, Sir R. Park Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike
Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin Grant, James Augustus Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)
Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W. Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.) Pennefather, De Fonblanque
Astor, Viscountess Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar Perkins, Walter Frank
Atkey, A. R. Gretton, Colonel John Perring, William George
Baird, Sir John Lawrence Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E. Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Gwynne, Rupert S. Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals) Hallwood, Augustine Randies, sir John Scurrah
Barnett, Major Richard W. Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Raper, A. Baldwin
Barnston, Major Harry Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'l, W.D'by) Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.
Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert Hallas, Eldred Rees, sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes) Hambro, Angus Valdemar Reid, D. D.
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Hamilton, Major C. G. C. Remnant, Sir James
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)
Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h) Harris, Sir Henry Percy Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)
Betterton, Henry B. Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston) Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)
Bigland, Alfred Hennessy, Major J. R. G. Rodger, A. K.
Borwick, Major G. O. Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Roundell, Colonel R. F.
Bowles, Colonel H. F. Hills, Major John Waller Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)
Bowyer, Captain G. W. E. Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Brassey, H. L. C. Hood, Sir Joseph Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur
Britton, G. B. Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn, W.) Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)
Brown, Major D. C. Hopkins, John W. W. Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Maryisbone)
Burdon, Colonel Rowland Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford) Seager, Sir William
Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay) Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead) Shaw, William T. (Forfar)
Butcher, Sir John George Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)
Campbell, J. D. G. Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster) Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander
Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R. Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen, Sir Aylmer Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)
Carew, Charles Robert S. Hurd, Percy A. Starkey, Captain John Ralph
Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington) Inskip, Thomas Walker H. Steel, Major S. Strang
Casey, T. W. Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S. Stevens, Marshall
Cecil. Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston) Jesson, C. Stewart, Gershom
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A.(Birm., W.) Joynson-Hicks, Sir William Sugden, W. H.
Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood) Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham) Sykes, Colonel Sir A. J. (Knutsford)
Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender Kidd, James Thomas-Stanford, Charles
Coats, Sir Stuart King, Captain Henry Douglas Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Cobb, Sir Cyril Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Thomson, sir w. Mitchell-(Maryhill)
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Lane-Fox, G. R. Thorpe, Captain John Henry
Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale Larmor, Sir Joseph Tickler, Thomas George
Cope, Major William Lister, Sir R. Ashton Townley, Maximillan G.
Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South) Lloyd, George Butler Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers
Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.) Lloyd-Greame, Sir p. Turton, Edmund Russborough
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Waddington, R.
Curzon, Captain Viscount Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tlngd'n) Walters, Rt. Hon. sir John Tudor
Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead) Lorden, John William Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)
Davies, Thomas (Cirencester) Lowe, Sir Francis William Waring, Major Walter
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith) Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.
Dawson, Sir Philip M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W. White, Col. G. D. (Southport)
Dean, Commander P. T. McMicklng, Major Gilbert Williams, C. (Tavistock)
Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud
Dockrell, Sir Maurice Magnus, Sir Philip Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.
Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.) Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry
Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M. Middlebrook, Sir William Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)
Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B. Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)
Farquharson, Major A. C. Molson, Major John Elsdale Wise, Frederick
Fell, Sir Arthur Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J. Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)
FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A. Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)
Flannery, Sir James Fortescue Morrison, Hugh Wood, Major Sir S. Hill-(High Peak)
Ford, Patrick Johnston Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Forrest, Walter Murray, C. D. (Edinburgh) Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward
Fraser, Major Sir Keith Murray, William (Dumfries) Younger, Sir George
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Nail, Major Joseph
Gardner, Ernest Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster) Lieut.-Commander Astbury and Sir W. Pearce.
Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)

Resolution agreed to.