§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Rear-Admiral Sir GUY GAUNT
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
The House will probably regard this Measure as a hardy annual, but on reading over the Bill, as it is at present drafted, they will see that it bears only a small resemblance to the Bill which was opposed so strenuously last year. It will be remembered that for some 18 days there was a very fierce fight about that Bill in Committee. I have taken up the Bill as it was after it had passed through Committee, and I am now bringing it forward in what I hope the House will regard as an improved state. I hope the House will be merciful to my Bill, and will take into consideration that, if there are any shortcomings in the way in which it is put forward, they are attributable to me and not to the Bill. Yesterday I noticed one of the leaders of the opposition to the Bill of last year—in fact I might say its principal opponent—namely the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle), reading through this Bill in the Lobby. I thought I saw a pitying smile on his face, and I sincerely hope to-day he will remember what pity is akin to and will be a little merciful to this Measure.
The first charge made against last year's Bill was that it was a Protectionist Bill. I submit there is absolutely no Protection in these proposals except protection against fraud. All we ask is that the housewife should be enabled to buy that which she wishes to buy, instead of having foreign produce foisted on her. There is no Protection about this Bill, except protection against fraud and it will not send up the price of anything. In fact, we might use as a short title for the Bill the phrase: "A Bill to amend the Statute of Frauds." It is perfectly clear that the opposition to the Bill comes from the importing interest. The large vested interests importing foodstuffs into this country are doing their little best to prevent British produce being sold as British produce, and are trying to put foreign produce in its place. I do not think anybody can doubt that. I 1802 will take up one or two of the arguments brought against the Bill of last year. As regards meat, the principal objection raised was that there would be delay caused by examination at the ports. Surely that is a very small point. The examination can be done simply and easily and without great delay at the port of entry. Last year Mr. Edmonds, who is not now a Member of this House and who represented the retail meat trade at that time, said:We agree when it comes to the question of chilled and frozen meat that it should be labelled.As regards meat in this Bill, I have thrown overboard imported fresh meat, and I am sticking to chilled and frozen meat. In any case, the existing Food Orders require the marking of meat exposed for retail sale, and it has never been suggested that that provision has increased the price of meat. It will be observed that in Clause 1 (a) I have left a blank as to the quantity of meat which may be imported in a box, barrel or package. The amount which I propose to take, for the purpose of argument, in tins connection is 28 lbs. On both sides of this House we do a lot of talking about helping ex-service men, and I urge that this Bill will do a great deal for hundreds of thousands of men who served in the War and their dependants, to say nothing whatever of the men who are being trained at St. Dunstans and who are going in for pig keeping and poultry keeping. Their produce ought to have a chance of being sold as British produce, and, as I say, such a provision will not send up the price. All I am asking is that the Danish C.3 egg should be sold as such and not as a British A.1 egg.
§ Sir G. GAUNT
I am coming to that presently. All I want to secure is that the British egg shall be sold as a British egg; that there shall be no doubt in the mind of the British housewife as to what she is buying. [HON. MEMBKRS: "Mark British eggs."] I think it would add greatly to the expense in the case of British eggs, as there are so many small people in the business. In the case of the foreigner the eggs are collected in large quantities at a port of export, and they can be quite easily marked. It is very difficult to obtain the exact figures, 1803 but the highest figure I have got for the cost of marking foreign eggs to the exporter has been 7s. for 1,440 eggs, and the lowest figure has been 9d. per thousand, and the House may take it the cost ranges somewhere between those two figures. If you start to mark the British egg it will be much more expensive, as the small people will be compelled to take a lot of additional trouble, to provide themselves with rubber stamps and so forth, and after all, surely there should be some freedom left in this unlucky country of ours. Why should a British egg have to travel around with a passport? Let the other fellow who is coming in carry the passport. If we go foreign ourselves we have to carry passports, and I expect our eggs, if they go foreign, have to carry their marks' or their passports. We should have a little freedom for ourselves in our own country.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
The hon. and gallant Member says there is no delay or inconvenience in going through the Customs.
§ Sir G. GAUNT
I ask the hon. and gallant Member what has that got to do with the marking of our eggs. There will be no delay, I say, because the foreigners can mark their eggs easily enough. All I am trying to do is to sell the British egg as a British egg, and to prevent any abuse by which a luckless woman who wants to pay for a British egg may have any other kind of egg passed to her. If a woman wants to buy a C.3 egg it should be clearly marked as such, and the seller should say to her: "Here is a C.3 egg, and you can have it as such, and take a chance with your husband at breakfast." My argument is, that if you pay the full price for the British egg, you should get the British egg. It will be in the memory of this House that last year evidence was brought forward to show that the Chinese lizard was in active competition with the British hon. I put it to hon. Members that it is only fair that we should defend our poultry. One argument used against the marking of eggs was that it would advertise the foreign egg. We do not care twopence for that consideration. We believe the British egg to be better than the foreign egg in spite of any advertisement, and that the housewife will buy British eggs all the time if she can get them. It will be the same price, things 1804 will not go up at all, but the C.3 egg will not be bought as British or at a British price. It is argued that if we pass this Bill it will restrict eggs being brought into this country, and they will go elsewhere, but from what I know of the gentle foreigner, I think he will still find the British market as good as the market anywhere else, and he may be trusted to come the shortest road. Commenting on the last Bill, the Danish Butter Trade Journal of 20th March says:It is not expected on this side (that is, in Denmark) that such legislation will cause any great inconvenience to the trade in our Danish agricultural products. Danish butter and bacon have already for years been stamped with Danish marks, national brands, and as to eggs there may be some little trouble by having each egg stamped, but our exporters have no objection at all to having their eggs placed before the British marked distinctly as Danish.Surely that is a fair deal. They have no objection, so why should we have? Again, the allegation was made against the last Bill that it would injure the interests of the Dominions, but Mr. Massey, Prime Minister of New Zealand, speaking in the Mansion House on 3rd October last, said, in reference to this Bill:Another matter which is urgently required, which will cost you nothing, and which should be seen to, in justice to yourselves and us, is this: When goods come from overseas to be sold in the English markets, whatever they may be—meat, dairy produce, poultry, or anything else—they should be marked with the country of origin.That is the overseas Dominion view of this matter. I have had forwarded to me, among a good many other papers, an Egg Trade Defence Fund. I cannot give you all the names, because I am not good at German and other languages, but when I had got pretty well through the list I got to the good old name of Moses Israels as one of the contributors to it, and that is the first British name I saw. When we come to dairy produce, I urge that it is only a fair thing that the housewife should know what she is getting. Cheese appears to be a queer sort of animal. There is Cheshire Cheshire and Dutch Cheshire, and there was a case the other day, about six weeks ago, of some cheese on the market being sold as Cheshire. They had left out the first part, and the poor woman thought she was buying Cheshire Cheshire, but found that she was buying Dutch Cheshire.
§ Sir G. GAUNT
I do not know if I would be in order in saying that the hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. Kirkwood) would make a particularly excellent telephone operator, the way he rolls the three r's. Coming back to cheese, I would like to point out that this poor lady, who went in pursuit of cheese for her loving husband, was having 14 per cent. cheese passed on to her instead of 40 per cent., as the original cheese should have. [An HON. MEMBER: "Will this Bill protect the buyer against that cheese?"] Some of these foreign cheeses are dangerous, I admit. You take your chance with the foreign cheese; that is your department, or rather your wife's. As regards honey, there were a lot of hon. Members from the other side of the House sitting in the smoking room the other day, discussing this poor little Bill of mine, and they were claiming that it is most important that Scotch heather honey should be eaten, as it was absolutely the very best honey they could possibly get. That is what I want to secure. I want to protect the Scotch bee against the American bee and the Jamaica bee. Nearly all the honey coming into this country comes from America, and, I admit, is nearly all exported again, but so long as the housewife wants to buy real Scotch heather honey, and goes in pursuit of a bottle of that commodity, she should know that she is getting it, and not American honey. It is always made up in bottles, I understand, although I do not eat honey myself.
Now I come to the most difficult part of the whole thing, that is oatmeal. This is the national food of a very great people. People who are born North of the Tweed, as soon as they can walk, come south to rule over us, and I urge that great attention should be paid to this question. It is very important that you should have a really good Scotch oatmeal in this country. I have only used it once myself, and that was for sticking in photographs, but it was too lumpy. I urge, however, 1806 that it is most important that in buying your oatmeal you should know what you are getting. You know what foreign people are, and there are good Scotch housewives buying as Scotch oatmeal in this country, oatmeal which may have been mixed with brickdust. They are nearly the same colour. Think of what suffering is caused in the way of indigestion. It might not kill a Scotsman, but it would an Englishman, and it is very important that Scotch oatmeal should be as sold. Once again I urge that there is no measure of protection about this at all in any possible way. I am merely bringing forward a Bill here to do away with what I might call cheap Chinese labour. Think for a moment of a poor little Yorkshire hen, laying her egg every day, and struggling away to keep her household together, against a lizard thousands of miles away. All I ask is: Save us from Chinese cheap labour! It is much worse than you had in South Africa years ago, and a jolly sight truer
§ Sir HENRY CAUTLEY
I beg to second the Motion.
Members more concerned in industry than in agriculture will know that the trade of this country has been developed by the production of good quality. It is the quality of British goods that has made the British markets, and in making those markets and in establishing them, the goods have earned their reputation by their good quality and have earned names of distinction, and the term "British-made" was a term accepted all over the world. The result was that, as other nations engaged in industrial enterprise, they seized on the good reputation and trade quality earned by British goods, and, without scruple, they adopted our names, and sold their goods as British goods under British trade names. "Sheffield steel" came to represent, not English steel at all, but German steel; "Bradford-made" woollens in all the worsted industries of the world did not represent goods made in Bradford, but goods made at Beauvais or somewhere in Germany; and "Witney blankets" ceased to represent blankets made in Britain at all.
The industrial people, who were always in a majority in this House since 1832, consequently passed in this country Merchandise Marks Acts, which have been amended for some time. What for? Not 1807 to protect British goods in the political sense. They were supported by every free trader in the great Liberal Party in its great days, and they were passed with the sole object of ensuring that fraud should be eliminated from trade, that dishonesty should disappear, that the good name of "British-made" should not be traduced in this way, that the sellers of British-made goods should get the value of British-made goods, and that the consumers of British-made goods, if they ordered British-made goods, should be assured of getting them. All that we seek by this Bill is to assure the people engaged in agriculture, and people consuming agricultural produce, that they shall have the same protection from fraud and dishonest substitution as the trader and the industrial man in this country. I think it is almost an outrage on the House that we, on behalf of agriculture and the consumers of agricultural produce, are seeking to have this Bill discussed in this House, and given a Second Reading, that the Minister of Agriculture, the gentleman in charge of that great industry, does not even think it worth while to come down to this House.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
If I were not so much interested in this Measure I should be almost bound to move to report Progress, but, as it is only by the fortune of the Ballot that we are here to-day, I cannot afford to take that opportunity, but I warn the Minister of Agriculture, in his absence, that we who do take an interest in agriculture, which, even to-day, is the largest industry in this country, do not propose to fobbed off in this way by the Labour Government.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the DUCHY of LANCASTER (Colonel Wedgwood)
It is a private Member's Bill.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
With all due deference to the right hon. Gentleman, with his Parliamentary experience, his answer is 1808 beside the mark. Although a private Member's Bill, it affects the greatest industry in the country, and the one industry which the Minister is supposed to look after. Having said that, I propose now to say in detail what the Bill does. But, perhaps, before doing that, I ought to make good the point that we are only seeking what the industrialists have in his country. Take the great question of meat. The Bill deals with foreign frozen and chilled meat, imported in large quantities, and it is absolutely necessary for the country that it should be so imported. We are only asking what was in operation all through the War under the Food Orders. We are asking that foreign meat, on importation, should be marked, as it was then, and as the trade agreed to it being marked. It is a method which experience has shown has caused no interference with the trade whatever. Why do we ask for it? We ask for it for this reason, that from one end of the country to the other, whenever any person, whether it is a poor man's housewife, who does her shopping in the mining villages, or in the industrial villages of the North; whether it is a poor woman who does her shopping in the East End of London; whether it is the richer people who do their shopping at the bigger shops, in every district there is substitution going on. Foreign meat, and even frozen meat, and, certainly, chilled meat, is being sold and delivered when English meat is ordered, and when English meat ought, in accordance with the contract, to be delivered. We ask that that shall be stopped.
There is some value—and this is the only value—to the agricultural industry in this Measure, and I am not going to say it is not of very considerable value. English meat is still, in the opinion of the majority of British people, better in quality than foreign meat, is still better than chilled meat, and still better than frozen meat. Why should that difference in value, which is represented by the difference in quality or the difference in sentimental value, go into the pockets of the people who are selling the inferior stuff, when the genuine article is ordered? Can anybody defend that, either morally or on any other ground whatever? The same arguments apply to other of the subject matters in this Bill. Let me take eggs. The substitution in the egg trade 1809 is so great, and is so flagrant, that even in London, I stated in Committee on the last occasion, although my words were grossly exaggerated by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge), there were few places where the ordinary person who wished to buy a really fresh egg could make absolutely certain of getting it. I never said there were none; I said there were few places. That is going on all over the country, and I appeal particularly to those hon. Gentlemen who sit on the Government benches, whether it is not perfectly true that, where their wives, or whatever persons do their shopping for the household, go now, in all the big towns in England, in many of the smaller towns, and certainly in the thickly-populated industrial villages, they cannot make certain, when buying a dozen eggs, that there will not be one or two bad.
What is it we are asking? We are asking that a person shall be protected by law, as far as is humanly possible, so that when one's wife or oneself asks for fresh eggs, which means English eegs, or eggs which are reasonably fresh, and not bad, that person shall be sure of getting them. If you want the cheap eggs that have come from Siberia, and are six weeks' old or more, you should buy them at your own risk, and for less money, and get the value accordingly. Is that not common honesty? If the consumer asks for English eggs, shall he not be certain of getting English eggs? If he likes to buy foreign eggs, ought he not to know that he is buying them and take the risk of bad eggs? That is the bottom of this Bill, which I earnestly ask the House to carry.
This Bill has been before the House previously. On 16th March of last year, a Friday, it was debated, and after a full debate was passed by a majority of, I think, 183 to 100. It was sent to a Standing Committee of which I was a member. I took a considerable part in the discussion that went on there. This Bill is opposed, and was opposed, by one section of the House who turned on their three most experienced obstructionists. I call them The Three Musketeers. The first was the hon. Member for South Edinburgh—
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
The hon. Member for East Edinburgh, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle), and the hon. and gallant gentleman the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy). They succeeded on this small Measure in putting down something over 1,000 Amendments. They showed a perseverance that deserved a better fate.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
They succeeded, in spite of the efforts of all, in dragging out and prolonging, very skilfully, the proceedings in that Committee for 18 days. The result was that every line and almost every word of the Bill—certainly every word that mattered—was debated, discussed and considered by hon. Members on the other side, and the Bill emerged from Committee just before the House rose for Recess. I suppose if it had not been for the Dissolution the House would not have seen this measure again, for it would have been passed. To that extent these three hon. obstructors had the fortune, and succeeded for the time being—but I hope only for the time being—in holding up the measure. Having received that meticulous consideration which I have described the promoters of this Bill of which my hon. and gallant Friend is in charge, decided that it would be well to come before the House again with the measure just as it passed the Committee. It is accurate to say that that is so. The Bill, having received this discussion, and having, as I say, being debated line by line and word by word, emerged, in the technical sense, a perfect measure. It has been considered by skilled draftsmen, and the draft is put before the House to-day for its approval. The Bill is, in fact, identically the measure that passed the Committee, except for two main features.
In the Bill, as it passed Committee, we had included vegetables and fruit. We have also included fresh killed meat—killed on the other side, that is in France, Holland, or Belgium, and just shipped across here. This is a rising and increasing trade. These two matters are left out, that is fresh killed meat from the other side, as, undoubtedly, it is impossible to distinguish it from English meat, and it is practically as good as English meat and therefore there is no substitution. 1811 Another consideration was that it is good policy in law not to make laws that cannot be enforced. It is perfectly true that it is extremely difficult to distinguish the foreign from the English potato, or a foreign tomato from an English tomato. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] But it is also quite true that there are a number of vegetables that cannot be so distinguished, and, in addition to that, there are certain fruits that do not come into competition with our own, and cannot be substituted for them. It is really owing to these difficulties and for these reasons that the promoters of this Bill decided to leave our fruit and vegetables, and foreign fresh killed meat. So far as the rest of the Measure is concerned, it has been put into a more technical shape and language, but it is practically, with some alteration, the same as passed earlier.
The House will bear with me for a few moments, perhaps, while I describe what the Bill does, and then I shall have said all I desire to say. Under the Merchandise Marks Act, as applicable to commerce and industry, provision is made that the goods that do not obey the Act shall be forfeited on importation. Section I of the Bill applies the Section of the Merchandise Marks Act to agricultural matters which are dealt with in this Bill. The agricultural products that this Bill deals with will be forfeited on importation if they do not bear an indication of their origin in the manner described in the regulations made under this Act. As the Bill applies to England, Wales, Scotland, and the North of Ireland, it is provided that the regulations shall be made by the Ministries of Agriculture in these respective countries, and the indication of origin is, by the Definition Clause defined to be a statement of the country from which it comes. There is this further but rather important provision that where any particular foreign or colonial goods have a mark of their own which is well known, that mark may be considered sufficient. The only penalty for any breach of this provision on importation is forfeiture of the goods. That is provided for by the Customs Act, and it is made doubly clear by Subsection (4) of Clause 11 which provides thatThis Section shall not apply to an offence relating to the importation of any article.1812 It has been argued that that will stop trade, but every provision has been made to avoid that taking place. All the representations made by those engaged in various trades were carefully considered when the last Bill was before the Committee, and this same provision which we are now proposing worked well under the Food Orders. My recollection is that the meat traders were satisfied with this clause if only the provision relating to fresh killed meat is taken out. I think it was Mr. Edwards, a former Member for Bethnal Green, stated that this provision was satisfactory so far as the meat trade was concerned, and the House has every reason to be satisfied with it.
Clause 1 applies to all the articles dealt with under this Bill. Clause 2 deals with those particular articles when they are retailed and offered for sale. The frame of the Bill is that the goods have to have the required mark either on the goods themselves or on the place or counter where they are offered for sale. Clauses 2, 3, 4 and 5 deal with each of these articles on being retailed. The framework of the Bill is that any retailer who sells these goods without the mark shall be liable to the penalties provided by the Bill. Here again, to show that every possible hardship has been carefully considered, there is in Clause 11, Subsection (3) of the Bill a provision which makes it easy for a retailer to see that no injustice is done to him. It provides thatA person shall not be liable to conviction for an offence against this Act in respect of any imported article if he shows to the satisfaction of the Court that he did not know, and could not with reasonable diligence have ascertained, that the article was imported.Therefore it is clear that under this Bill, for practical purposes, no retailer can be convicted unless he is deliberately selling imported stuff as English. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] As a lawyer I say that for practical purposes that is so, and I appeal to hon. Members that that is a position which we are entitled to have made secure in this country. To show how far the promoters have considered any hardships, and to show that they have set out with the intention to interfere with trade in the least possible degree, there is a provision that where a retailer is dealing with foreign meat only, it is a sufficient compliance with the Bill 1813 that he puts up in a conspicuous place in his shop a notice that foreign meat only is sold.
If he deal with foreign and English meat it is sufficient compliance with the Bill if he put on the shelf or counter where the imported meat is kept a notice in a conspicuous position stating that it is imported meat. If in the course of his trade, as he naturally does, he has small pieces of English and foreign meat, and he lumps them altogether, and sells them to his poorer customers, he must mark it "Mixed imported meat and other meat." I defy any hon. Member to say that that will interfere with the butcher's trade in the slightest degree.
There is one further provision under Sub-Section (5). This is a new provision. In the retail trade, as civilization advances, more and more people like to have their goods delivered at their homes, and a great quantity of meat, instead of being taken by the customer, is sent out by the butcher. It is ordered by the housewife who may be going to various other tradesmen at the same time and the goods are afterwards sent home. Sub-Section (5) of Clause 2 requires that in sending out the meat if it is imported there shall be a ticket on it saying that it is imported. Even there, to secure that the tradesman shall not be unduly harassed there is a provision that the seller shall not be liable to any penalty under this Act if it is proved to the satisfaction of the Court that he has taken every reasonable care and precaution to comply with the provisions of this sub-Section. There, again, we have given every consideration to the butcher and the retailer.
Clause 3 deals with eggs. I have very little to say about eggs except that this Clause requires all foreign eggs to be marked with an indication of their origin. May I remind the House that in 1922 there was a large congress known as the International Congress of Poultry Keepers held at Geneva, at which 30 or 40 different countries were represented, and by a very large majority they passed a resolution that in their opinion all exported eggs should be marked with the country of origin. Therefore, you have got not only a desire from the poultry keepers of this country, and the consuming public as well, that eggs should be marked, but this is also the view of nearly all the 1814 poultry keepers in Europe who say than in their opinion exported eggs ought to-be marked with the country of origin.
No doubt some hon. Members will try to impress upon the House that this proposal is going to harass trade and make eggs dearer. On this subject experiments have been made. Eggs are sold in boxes of long hundreds of 120 and 1,440 eggs can be marked at a cost of 9d. or about 1–150th of a penny each. In practice the eggs would be marked by the owners of the poultry before collection, and this is really the main market where the eggs are sold. There is no appreciable difference in cost. On the contrary, even now the best foreign eggs are all marked when they come to this country. The Danish eggs are marked and graded.
One of the objections urged in the Committee—and no doubt it is one which has been to some degree realised in the industrial working of the Merchandise Marks Act—is, that this is putting a premium on the foreigner. He marks his eggs. The growers of English eggs ace not afraid of that, and, if there be anything in it, it will be a stimulus to the British producer to make his eggs better. No such argument ever comes from the producer or the consumer of English eggs; all such arguments come from that association to which my hon. and gallant Friend referred, and every name in which is German. It comes from the Foreign Importers Association, which last year put up large sums of money to fight the Bill. It comes from those hon. Gentlemen—I do not say that they are I doing it deliberately—who are assisting in this wholesale dishonest substitution which is going on from one end of the country to the other. They want to perpetuate that system under which these foreign eggs, as soon as they are landed in England, whether from Siberia, China or elsewhere, can go into the market and be mixed with English eggs, I suppose, to leven the lump.
The same system applies to the other articles mentioned here. We deal with dairy produce and with milk products, but butter, it will be noticed, is left out of the Bill. It is blended so with English and foreign butter that it is really extremely difficult to deal with it, and for this reason it was thought better, for the sake of simplicity, to leave it out. I do 1815 not think that there can be any objection to the rest of the Bill which is pure machinery.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
The hon. Member naturally takes a patriotic in crest in oatmeal. I myself found some difficulty in including oatmeal in this Measure, but it was included especially at the request of the Scottish members of the Committee.
§ 12 N.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
I will tell the hon. Member why. There is no oatmeal in the world—I give this advertisement to Scotland—that makes such good porridge, or anything like such good porridge, as Scotch oatmeal. The result is that there is a large trade done by Scottish oatmeal makers, and Scottish farmers in the sale of Scotch oatmeal below the Tweed. It has been found that very large quantities of oatmeal coming from abroad, and also, I daresay, some from England, are sold as Scotch oatmeal that is not Scotch oatm al at all.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Can the hon. and learned Gentleman point to any provision in the Bill which will prevent such oatmeal being sold as Scotch oatmeal?
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
I knew that I was under the lynx eye of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I shall have an Amendment in Committee. The point had not escaped me. I did not draft this Bill, and there ought to be a similar Clause to 2, 3 and 4 dealing with Scotch oatmeal that there is dealing with poultry, dairy produce, and honey. It is a matter which can be inserted in Committee. The power of enforcing the provisions of the Bill is left to the County Councils. It would be enforced by the Officers who enforce the Sale of Food and Drugs Act. That method has been adopted with a view to making the working of the Act as little costly as possible. I am speaking now only of the power of enforcing the retail clauses. Power is given to inspect the premises, on showing authority, but only during business hours, in the same way as the officers can inspect goods sold in retail shops under the sale of Food and Drugs Act. Then there has been inserted a provision by the Customs Authorities 1816 since the Bill was in Committee last year, but that is only for the purpose of the working of the Act, and has nothing to do with the promoters.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
Yes, that is Clause 10. It deals with goods that have been imported contrary to the provisions of the Act, it is purely a departmental measure. I am not prepared to say now whether it is right or wrong, but, coming from the Customs, I take it to be right, and of course, if there be anything wrong it can be put right in Committee. There is some alteration in the penalties imposed by the original Act, and the alteration has been made to make the penalties not quite so severe as those passed by the last Committee. Those penalties are in Clause 11, and they only apply to penalties for breaches of the retail provisions. They are to be enforced in the Summary Courts of Justice, before the Magistrates in the usual way, and under Sub-section (2) the penalties provided are:Any person who is found guilty of an offence against this Act shall be liable for the first offence to a fine not exceeding ten pounds, for a second offence to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds, and for a third or any subsequent offence to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds or to imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding six months.In the next Subsection there is a saving provision that no one can be convicted of any offence here if he shows to the satisfaction of the Court that he did not know and could not with reasonable diligence have ascertained that the article was imported.
I have explained the Bill, I hope clearly. I can assure the House that when this Bill is passed, as I am certain it ought to be, there will be no effect in this country except that the trade in English farm products will be made more honest, and, in the case of those particular articles with which the Bill deals, the consumer will be assured of getting them if he or she orders them. To those people who believe that there is a special value in British articles of agricultural produce, they may command, possibly, a little more money; but articles of the same kind which are of foreign origin, and are, therefore, sold as foreign, will command less money, and the total cost to the consumer 1817 here will not be any more, but, to my mind, is likely to be less. This Bill is earnestly begged for by every small producer in this country. It will not affect the big farmer to anything like the same extent as the small farmer or the smallholder who deals in egg and poultry production. The small farmer, whose living depends on his getting the proper price for his English produce in the local market, will gain by the Measure, and the people who are supplied by that market will gain equally by getting the articles for which they ask. I earnestly ask the House to give the Bill a Second Beading.
§ Mr. SIMPSON
What will happen if they are not destroyed? I take it that it is not mandatory, but permissive.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
Under the original Bill the goods were forfeited, and the object of Clause 10 is merely to provide, where they are forfeited, that the Customs shall have the power to sue the importer if he does not take them away, and the importer will then either have to mark the goods or destroy them.
§ Commander EYRES-MONSELL
Now that the Lord Privy Seal has come into the House, and is occupying the Government Bench, I should like to ask him how much longer this Debate is to continue without the presence of a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture? I have been in this House now for a good many years, and I do not ever remember a Debate taking place on a Friday when the ordinary courtesy was not shown to the House and the industry concerned by the presence of a representative of the appropriate Department. This is the first Bill dealing with agriculture that has been introduced into this House since the advent of a Socialist administration, and it is a curious commentary on the interest taken by the Socialist party in a great question of that kind. The Ministry of Agriculture has two representatives in 1818 this House. Cannot one of them be here? Cannot they be sent for? Cannot they be told that an agricultural Debate is going on in the House? I consider this to be an insult to the great agricultural industry, and I protest against it with: all the energy of which I am capable.
§ The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Mr. Clynes)
I congratulate the fight hon. Gentleman upon this newly revealed and consuming interest in the welfare of agriculture. This Government has been in office a few weeks; the party with which the right hon. Gentleman is associated has had the destinies and fortunes of agriculture in its keeping for very many years. If they had been really so excited for the welfare of agriculture, and had sought to foster that welfare by means of legislation, something would have been done long before this, on the lines of this Bill, by the party with which the right hon. Gentleman is associated. I am not going to pursue him further in his excited condition. I cannot say whether my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture is to attend the House, but I shall inquire. I do understand that it is not his intention to take part in the Debate. All I can say on that point is that if the Government, on every Friday—a time reserved for private Members' Bills, and for the free play of discussion without the weight of Government being thrown on one side or the other—if, now, the Government is to be expected at once to take sides with—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] That appears to be the argument. If the Minister of Agriculture is desired to attend the House, not for that purpose, but in order that he should be here to listen to what is said, then there is a good deal in that point, and, as I have said, I shall inquire whether my right hon. Friend can attend this Debate. So far as I understand, the Ministry of Agriculture does not find the agricultural community enormously excited about these proposals as being of supreme importance to the future interests of agriculture; but, limiting myself to that point for the present, I shall, of course, in courtesy to the House and in a knowledgment of the question which the right hon. Gentleman has put, inquire at once as to whether my right Hon. Friend can attend.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
I beg to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
1819 I think the matter is sufficiently serious to justify this Motion. The notion that a private Member's Bill is no concern of the Government is quite a new notion, and should, I think, be combated at once. The private Member's Bill is as mush prospective legislation in the interests of the country as any Bill that comes from the Government Bench. Because it is a private Member's Bill, it does not mean that it is not important or that the legislation is not important. If it is legislation that is dangerous—
§ Mr. CLYNES
May I be allowed to interrupt? I should have thought I should have been understood by every hon. Member, and especially by any hon. Member who has been in this House for some years. I have not said that a private Member's Bill is of no importance What I indicated was that the Government ought not to be expected, at the beginning of a Second Reading Debate, to declare its attitude. The usual and proper course is that, if a private Member's Bill secures a Second Reading, and goes to a Committee, it is then proper for the Government to declare its attitude towards it.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
It is 15 years since I entered this House, and I have always thought that, as a matter of courtesy and good form, a representative of the Government should be present on the Front Bench when any matter
§ of any concern was going on in the House. The protest was made by the Seconder of this Bill very early in the Debate, and a sufficient time has elapsed to allow of a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture being here, if be had been sent for promptly in response to that protest. I think we ought to protest in the interests of general debate. I am not supporting the Bill, but I think the protest which has been made is amply justified and that we should have representatives of agriculture here to watch the progress of the Bill, to protest against it on behalf of the Government if anything is wrong, and to give it their support if they think it is right.
§ Captain BERKELEY
I beg to second the Motion for adjournment of the Debate.
This is a Bill which, on the face of it, deals with the importation of agricultural produce. It seems to me to be a most serious thing that the Minister of Agriculture should not be present. I associate myself with all my hon. Friend has said.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
This is a Motion which it is in the discretion of the Chair to accept or not. There is a further proviso that if the Chairman accept a Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate, he may put the Question forthwith. I propose to adopt the latter course, and to put the Question.
§ Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 33: Noes, 164.1821
|Division No. 18.]||AYES.||[12.17 a.m.|
|Alstead, R.||Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)||Royle, C.|
|Barclay, R. Noton||Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool, W. Derby)||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.|
|Black, J. W.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Laverack, F. J.||Simon, E. D. (Manchester, Withingtn.)|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Linfield, F. C.||Tattersall, J. L.|
|Dickie, Captain J. P.||Maden, H.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)|
|Dodds, S. R.||Meyler, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Duckworth, John||Phillipps, Vivian||Willison, H.|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Pilkington, R. R.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Harris, John (Hackney, North)||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Hindle, F.||Raffety, F. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hogge, James Myles||Rea, W. Russell||Dr. Chapple and Captain Berkeley.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Bromfield, William||Cove, W. G.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Buckie, J.||Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry Page|
|Ammon, Charles George||Bullock, Captain M.||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Dickson, T.|
|Batey, Joseph||Clarke, A.||Doyle, Sir N. Grattan|
|Becker, Harry||Clayton, G. C.||Dudgeon, Major C. R.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Cluse, W. S.||Duffy, T. Gavan|
|Blundell, F. N.||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Dukes, C.|
|Briscoe, Captain Richard George||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Eden, Captain Anthony|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Compton, Joseph||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Broad, F. A.||Cope, Major William||Ednam, Viscount|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Lane-Fox, George R.||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Egan, W. H.||Law, A.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Leach, W.||Smith-Carrington, Neville W.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Snell, Harry|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Lorimer, H. D.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Ferguson, H.||McCrae, Sir George||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|FitzRoy, Capt. Rt. Hon. Edward A.||M'Entee, V. L.||Spence, R.|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Mackinder, W.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||McLean, Major A.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Steel, Samuel Strang|
|Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Mansel, Sir Courtenay||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||March, S.||Sunlight, J.|
|Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John||Marley, James||Sutcliffe, T.|
|Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Mills, J. E.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Thornton, Maxwell R.|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Montague, Frederick||Thurtle, E.|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Naylor, T. E.||Viant, S. P.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Waddington, R.|
|Hardie, George D.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Warne, G. H.|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Oliver, George Harold||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Haycock, A. W.||O[...]an, Sir Charles William C.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Paling, W.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Palmer, E. T.||Westwood, J.|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)||Wheler, Lieut.-Col. Granville C. H.|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Pease, William Edwin||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Herbert, Capt. Sidney (Scarborough)||Penny, Frederick George||Wignall, James|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Perry, S. F.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Howard, Hn. D. (Cumberland, Northrn.)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Huntingfield, Lord||Philipson, Mabel||Williams, Lt.-Col. T. S. B. (Kenningtn.)|
|Isaacs, G. A.||Purcell, A. A.||Williams, Maj. A. S. (Kent, Sevenoaks)|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Raynes, W. R.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|John, William (Rhondda, west)||Robinson, W. E. (Burslem)||Windsor, Walter|
|Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Royce, William Stapleton||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Kennedy, T.||Sandeman, A. Stewart||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Savery, S. S.|
|Kindersley, Major G. M.||Scrymgeaur, E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sexton, James||Sir Douglas Newton and Mr.|
|Kirkwood, D.||Shepperson, E. W.||Lamb.|
§ Question again proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
§ Mr. CLYNES
May I be allowed to say that I regret the absence of the President of the Board of Agriculture from the Debate in the House at this moment? I have ascertained that he is engaged in the Department, but I have suggested that he should arrange to attend the House as early as possible.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I beg to move to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months".
I am quite sure the whole House will acquit the Leader of the House of any discourtesy to the House at any time. These incidents happen to all Ministers, and there is excuse for them on occasion. After what the Leader of the House has said, I think the incident might be allowed to drop. We have listened to-day to two speeches, moving and seconding the Second Reading of this Bill, and I am rather interested in the fact that on 1822 this occasion the Bill is not in the hands of an agriculturist but in the hands of a Rear-Admiral.—
§ Mr. HOGGE
—and I have no doubt represents it very well. It was certainly appropriate that the Bill should have been in his hands, seeing that so much of the old Bill has been thrown overboard. This is an entirely different Bill from that which we discussed on the last occasion. The fruit and vegetable Clauses which took so much time upstairs have been omitted from this Bill and it now deals only with the farmyard and the barnyard. There is no question as to whether the sprouts will go back to Brussels or the artichokes to their national home in Jerusalem. We have finished with all those niceties and subtleties of humour which produced a thousand amendments upstairs on the last occasion.
This Bill, as it stands now, is badly conceived, badly drafted, and ill-digested. There are five certain results which will 1823 flow from its provisions if the Bill ever becomes law. It provides protection without any system of tariffs. That is the kind of ingenious suggestion that would come from the hon. Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley). It places in the way of trade in this country any number of irritating and vexatious hindrances, and it undoubtedly means a restriction of supplies. [HON. MEMBERS: "HOW?"] For the very simple reason that you make it difficult for things to come into this country. That is the history of the egg trade. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] The answer is not to be found in a simple negative. This Bill will certainly encourage inefficiency among our own egg dealers, and it will raise prices. These are five indictments against this Bill which under the guise pf seeking to protect agriculture seeks to foist upon the whole community a protective measure. We have to bear in mind that this is entirely unnecessary, because there exists to-day in the Sale of Food Order quite sufficient protection for the public against any imposition of the kind of eggs which seem to perturb the gallant Admiral. What worried him particularly was the egg from Singapore. I have no doubt that that explains his enthusiasm for going on with the naval achievement there, in order to protect the British people from the Chinese lizard.
I have said that the Bill is badly conceived and badly drafted, and I ask the House to remember what it seeks to do. It seeks to amend the Merchandise Marks Act, 1887, and the Amendments of that Act running down to 1911. That is the obvious intention of the Bill. These Acts are fundamental Acts as far as the question of merchandise marks are concerned. There is not the remotest affinity between the provisions of the Bill and what is provided in those original Measures. The fundamental Merchandise Marks Act deals with two things—with the forging of a trade description and the use of misleading marks, and provides for the forfeiture of goods which transgress those two categories. This Bill raises not one of those questions. Moreover, less than four years ago this House set up a Committee, not an ordinary Committee, but a Committee of the Board of Trade; a Government Committee presided over 1824 by Mr. Greer, who was a Unionist Member of this House. The Committee was known as the Greer Committee. Mr. Greer, who is not now a member of this House, was an ardent Tariff Reformer and Protectionist. The Committee was set up under the Coalition Government so that there was no question of any so-called party prejudice in the representation of the Committee at that time.
The Greer Committee went into the question of the extension of the Merchandise Marks Act and they reported two things. It is important that the House should see what relation that report had to the discussion to-day. The Committee reported that it was neither practicable nor possible to have any general descriptions such as "foreign" or "imported" or "Dominion" or "Canada" applied to different classes of goods. That was the conclusion of the Committee less than four years ago, and yet, with the enthusiasm which comes afresh with every fresh Session, our friends on the other side insist that that should be done which a practical Committee of the Board of Trade only four years ago decided to be neither possible nor practicable. It further decided against the wider extension of the Act, except for the specific purpose of dealing with the fraudulent or misleading marks. If that is the conclusion of the Committee of the Board of Trade, it is rather strange that these years have elapsed since the findings of that Committee without any effort being made on behalf of those who are interested to put those recommendations into operation. Here is what that Committee recommended, and I suggest that it would be sufficient in itself to deal with all problems that can arise. They recommended:That the Board of Trade should have power to make an order, after official inquiry had shown that such an order would be in the public interest, requiring indication of origin either specific or local to be given in the case of any particular kind, description or class of imported goods including power to specify the form of the inspection, the manner in which, and the time and occasion when it is to be made, and to except any kind or description of foreign goods from any or all of the requirements of the Order. In the course of the inquiry particular attention should be directed to the question whether the goods are manufactured, produced or sold in circumstances constituting unfair competition.1825 There are two considerations. One is that this should be done only where it is in the public interest, and not in the interest of any specific class of the community, that such provision should be applied, and the second is that it is to be done in the case of goods which are produced in unfair conditions. There is no provision in this Bill for any kind of inquiry as to whether those things exist, and the Bill pays no hoed to the recommendations of the Greer Committee. I do not know whether the gallant Admiral knew that there was such an inquiry or has taken the trouble to read his Report. If he had consulted my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) he might have got some information from him, but I would warn him against any such conclusion, because I have no doubt that—
§ Sir G. GAUNT
I submit that the times have changed, and we in them. The Greer Committee sat many years ago.
§ Mr. HOGGE
The Greer Committee reported in 1920, when my hon. and gallant Friend was a good Liberal. This Bill pays no heed to any of the recommendations of that Committee, and it is interesting to remember that a great deal of evidence was taken by that Committee from representative merchants in the country, and that those merchants who were examined agreed entirely to these four points—that if the Act were extended it would increase price, it would make trade more difficult, it would interfere with the internal trade of this country, and it would interfere with our carrying trade—a point which is overlooked so often, and on which some hon. Members who are acquainted with shipping may enlarge further in the Debate. As to the claim that this Bill amends the Merchandise Marks Act, 1887, it has no more relation to it than a 42nd cousin.
Another over-riding consideration, before I come to the details of the Bill. All legislation means increased expenditure. If you pass legislation of this kind, which operates from the port of entry to the retailers' counter, it will mean a great increase of expenditure. This Bill extends the duties of both central and local authorities. The Greer Committee reported that the staff at present available for inspection purposes is altogether inadequate. This Bill would multiply 1826 that staff indefinitely. Under the Bill the cost is thrown upon the local rates, so that not only would the community in our urban districts have the cost of their food raised by the operation of the Bill, but they would also have an increase in their rates to provide for the inspection, which would give them dearer food.
Coming to the details of the Bill, hon. Members opposite have thrown over French beans. They confine their intention now to chilled or frozen meat, and include veal, bacon, lamb and pork, but the Bill does not touch either cooked, canned or potted meat, and it does not touch sausages or offal. Why not? Look at what might happen. A chilled carcass is brought into this country. It must be marked, and, in order that the customer who purchases some portion of the chilled carcass may know what he or she is buying, there must be some means of keeping the mark permanently on the carcass. So there is no way out of the difficulty unless you tattoo the entire carcass, so that if you cut any part it will bear the mark of its origin until it reaches the housekeeper; but if the person, buying the chilled carcass, wishes to cook it, he can sell without any offence at all. The Kitchen Committee of this House can buy a chilled joint, cook it, and sell it to the House as British without coming under the penalties of this Act, so long as it is cooked.
Then there is the sausage. The material of the sausage is concealed from view until the sausage is opened. In the old days of protection and free trade, the sausage was one of those objects of humour which appealed to all of us. We used to point out how difficult it was in Germany for the people to get decent food. And we also used to point out that the children there amused themselves in trying to distinguish what was in the ordinary sausage; they used to leave sausages on the table, and pick one out of the middle, and if the other sausages moved up one place, they knew that they were made out of cab horses. There always has been that degree of mystery about the sausage. I am surprised that the hon. and gallant Admiral did not include a provision for a boundary commission in this Bill, to determine the relation of the sausage to the "other meat." It is really carrying the thing to a ridiculous extent when it is suggested that the man 1827 who buys a chilled joint is not able to receive it unless it be accompanied by an invoice from the shop. [An HON. MEMBER: "Quite right!"] Someone says, "Quite right,' but this Bill provides what other provision? If the weight of the chilled beef is 1 lb. or under, it can be sold as British. Who buys that quantity of meat?
§ Mr. HOGGE
In Clause (2), Sub-section (4):Where pieces of imported frozen or chilled meat, or bacon or ham, not exceeding in any case 1 lb. in weight, are exposed whether with or without any other meat, bacon or ham for sale on a slab, tray, counter, cart or barrow, the provisions of Sub-section (1) of this Section shall not apply to the imported meat, bacon or ham so exposed if the slab, tray, counter, cart or barrow bears in a conspicuous position a notice containing the words 'mixed imported meat and other meat' clearly printed thereon.I suppose that is the raw material of the sausage. You can put any meat into a sausage. All you have to do is to put up a ticket saying, "mixed imported meat and other meat," and you can sell anything under that without any penalty. The poor woman buys a chop or a couple of chops, and an invoice to prove that it is chilled is not required. She can get anything off that slab. That is all right for hon. Gentlemen opposite, who do not buy their meat off barrows. The same arguments apply in the case of eggs. On the last occasion when we discussed this Bill, we had much dispute on the humour of eggs. I do not propose on this occasion to enter into the mysteries which we entered into so intimately on that occasion. I notice that the gallant Admiral wants to discover about eggs more than anybody who is associated with this Bill knows. He wants them to be marked in the same categories as recruits were marked in during the Great War. He wants to be sure of the C3 egg. What does he propose? You cannot discover whether an egg is C3 by marking. That is obvious. The only efficient way to discover whether it is C3 or Al is to put it through a medical board. There is no efficient provision for that in the Bill, and, as we remember, about the quickest thing that men ever did in their 1828 lives in this country was getting through a medical board. The gallant Admiral knows that a great many men, like a great many eggs, would slip in where they ought never to be. There is a simple method by which the British producer of eggs can deal with his wares. He can mark his own eggs. You do not require legislation to make a British producer of eggs mark his eggs.
§ Mr. HOGGE
The hon. Member says that the Chinese could mark their eggs. The gallant Admiral told us that an egg from China took about six weeks to come here. I do not know whether that is true or not, but there is no business man of any common sense who will say that anybody who deals in eggs can permanently sell as fresh eggs eggs that are six weeks or seven weeks old. I am reminded that the eggs speak for themselves. That is quite true. You can do business of that kind once, but you cannot do it twice, unless it is with the Conservative party. No other type of mind will be taken in by a Chinese egg a second time, except that of the hon. Member for Richmond (Mr. Becker).
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir PAGE CROFT
If it is so easy for the ex-service smallholders to mark their eggs, why is it not as easy in the case of the imported egg?
§ Mr. HOGGE
I do not say that it is difficult to mark foreign eggs, but I believe that British eggs do not require any label; they speak always for themselves. The great fact about British eggs has been their quality, the quality of British workmanship. [HON. MBMBEBS: "Oh!"] Do not hens lay eggs in the same way as bricklayers lay bricks? There are not the same trade union rules with regard to eggs as with regard to bricks. All this attempt to coddle British industry is wrong, and I think that the administrative difficulties in the way are enormous. What is the use of marking any egg unless you give us the information that is absolutely necessary? We ought to know when the egg was laid. That is the important point, and the only important point. The ideal solution would be to produce a breed of hens which would automatically mark the date 1829 of the laying of eggs. What are the facts with regard to eggs? There are 2,000,000,000 eggs imported into this country every week.
§ Mr. HOGGE
Some people seem to suggest that the bulk of these eggs in some way are not good. Everybody knows that they would never come a second time if they were not good. Everybody knows, too, that in 2,000,000,000 eggs there is bound to be a proportion of eggs which are stale, but if it were the general rule that the bulk of such a consignment was bad they would never come again; there would be no repeat orders.
§ Mr. HOGGE
That, I think, is conclusive proof that the arguments against these eggs are not sound. With regard to the transport of these eggs, a very important point arises. It can be dealt with by someone who understands shipping more intimately than I do. Take some of the countries from which these eggs come. The space which is occupied by such eggs is space which has been filled by goods sent from this country to the countries from which the eggs have been bought. Take Morocco, from which we get between four and five million eggs a week. Textile goods from Manchester go to Morocco, the space in the ships being filled up by these goods, and the ships bringing back eggs. Those eggs are not marked. If they were marked, they would have to be sent specially to the British market; but the sailings of the boats are irregular, with intervals of anything from two to five weeks. And the eggs could not be kept for that period, they would be sold elsewhere, and the demand for British goods, made by British workmen, bringing revenue to this country, apart from the invisible profits of shipping, would be taken away from this county if we had this kind of interference. Then there is the case of honey. There is not enough honey produced in this country to go round the House of Commons. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Well, there is not 100,000 cwts. of honey produced in this country in a year. Upon what does the production of honey depend? It depends upon sunshine, upon flowers, upon heather.
§ Mr. HOGGE
An hon. Member asks if we have not any sunshine in the Empire? Of course we have sunshine in the Empire, but the honey that comes from the Empire is to be marked "imported;" it is to be distinguished from British honey, and I do not understand the attitude of mind which thinks, because you insist on marking Canadian or Australian honey, that in some mysterious way the sun is going to shine longer in this country, the heather is going to be more purple, and the bees are going to be more industrious. If people who are interested in bee culture put a little brains into the development of the industry, instead of looking upon it as a by-product, we should have production of honey in this country; but the average bee-keeper here puts a hive at the bottom of a garden, and leaves it there. Put brains into the production of stuff in this country, and you will get it, but you will not get it by this kind of absurd legislation.
§ 1.0 p.m.
§ Mr. HOGGE
Certainly, I should not put it where the hon. Member seems to put it—in my bonnet. Next there is the question of dairy produce. The hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) was fair enough to mention that butter had slipped out of this Bill. Let us examine the reason why butter is out of the Bill. Separated milk is in it, and skimmed milk and condensed milk—all the food that the supporters of this Bill require—and dried milk and bacon and cheese are in the Bill, but butter is not. We eat more butter, every one of us, in a single year than we eat of any of those other products. It is the more usual accompaniment of any table in any household in this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Margarine."] We will come to that. If it is essential we should know we are getting British milk, we ought to know we are getting British butter; but British people in the country who sell British butter make it with butter which they buy from abroad. They add a small I quantity of farmyard butter, but the bulk 1831 of the butter, the base of the butter, is butter which is bought from abroad and blended, and then the product is sold to the people of this country as British butter. Yet butter is taken outside this Bill. There is to be no mark of the beast on that butter, no composite photograph of the cows from which it has been produced, nothing to indicate to us that we are being swindled by having palmed off on to us as British butter a compound of foreign butter mixed with a little farmyard butter. Be honest, if you are going to do a thing of this sort. Put butter in your Bill, and compel your British farmer and your British producer to sell British butter. Let us know when we are eating butter from the Ruhr or the Saar Valley or some other part of the globe. Oatmeal has been dragged into the Bill. We have been told again to-day how Scotsmen are brought up on oatmeal. I do not know how true that is. I am rather afraid that Scotsmen have given up both the Shorter Catechism and the porridge.
§ 1.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HOGGE
It is certain that my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) could not tell me what is required in the Tenth Commandment, nor even my literary friend the editor of "Forward." What I said was that long ago Scotsmen used to be brought up on "parritch and the Catachism." He has given up the Catachism. I am sorry, and I believe the hon. Gentleman will agree with me that the consumption of oatmeal in Scotland is diminishing. I do not know whether that explains the rise of the Labour party or not, but there it is. The provision in this Bill is that oatmeal is to be marked at the port of entry. After it has been marked at the port of entry, nobody seems to care what is to happen to it. Any grocer in the country can sell it how he likes. If you are going to make certain that Scotch oatmeal is to be provided for the gallant Admiral for the rest of his life—which he deserves, having committed himself to this Bill—then every flake of that oatmeal ought to be marked in some way to distinguish it from every other—certainly so that it can be distinguished 1832 from brickdust. These comments show how foolish are the proposals in this Bill. It says that the grocer who sells bacon shall not send bacon home to anybody without an invoice, and that the butcher shall not send a joint home without an invoice, but the greengrocer can send home all his products—his tomatoes, his potatoes, his brussel sprouts, his artichokes, everything that comes from Guernsey, Jersey or the Colonies, without any label. A man on one side of the street is to have all kinds of hindrances in his business, while a man on the other side can go scot free.
This is a subtle attack upon the households of a great number of the people of this community. It will inevitably make food dearer. It is a dear food Bill, brought into this House at a time when we are not yet out of the trough of depression, when there is still abnormal unemployment, and when wages are not rising to anything like the extent represented by the cost of living. We are asked to support the Second Reading of a Bill which will make it even harder for people who now find it hard enough to live. Last year we sent this Bill to a Committee, and we were in that Committee for 18 days. All that time we were disputing the facts of the situation. Now that we have a representative of the Government present, I may say I do not know what the Government attitude is to be. But the Prime Minister voted against the Bill on the last occasion it was before this House, and I submit to the Minister of Agriculture that, if the Bill get a Second Reading—and I profoundly hope it will not—it should be sent to a Select Committee to examine the facts impartially, before any of these restrictions are imposed upon the country. That would be one way out. Even that is unnecessary, however, if hon. Members apply their common sense to this Protectionist device, which is supported by the merest pretence of argument, and given to us in a truncated form. The mere fact of the omissions from the Bill constitutes an admission that the promoters of the Bill do not believe in it themselves. If these proposals are fair as regards meat and dairy produce, they must be fair as regards fruit and vegetables; and I ask the House to defeat the Measure by a large majority on the very threshold of its life.
§ Sir G. GAUNT
On a point of Order. I understand the hon. Member accused me of being a Liberal. I wish to make a small personal explanation by saying that we have had terrible trouble in our family, but we have never had a Liberal.
§ Mr. BROMFIELD
On a point of Order. I understood the hon. and gallant Gentleman to say that though his family has had a lot of trouble they have never produced a Liberal. I happen—
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I beg to second the Amendment.
In reference to the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Buckrose (Sir G. Gaunt), I may point out that a large number of the Members of his party just now seem to be supporting a Liberal of 20 years standing. In rising to second the rejection of the Bill I desire, in fairness to the promoters, to admit it has been largely improved from the Bill which was brought in last year, which shows that the 18 days spent in Committee were not altogether wasted. Certain anomalies in the previous Measure have been removed. The Bill, however, is extremely dangerous and, above all, it is quite ineffective for the carrying out of the alleged objects of the promoters. In the first place, to deal with the supposed protection given to the housewife, the mere marking of eggs gives no protection at all against the dishonest trader. I dealt with this point in Committee last year, and I received a letter regarding it from a very large trader in dairy produce in Leeds. It is one of the arguments of the promoters of the Bills that the whole opposition to it proceeds from foreigners who are domiciled in this country and are interested in the import trade. The gentleman who wrote to me rejoices in the good old German name of Dibb, and he belongs to Leeds. His letter is as follows:—In the 'Grocer' of last Saturday's date in speaking on the Merchandise Marks Bill in Committee, re the stamping of eggs, you are reported to have said: 'Dishonest people in the trade admittedly in a minority would be able, if they wished, to 1834 pass a sponge over the marks and hey presto! the egg became a British egg because it was not marked, and the fraud would be worse than ever.' We believe that this is true, provided that the egg had been for a few minutes in water to which has been added a few drops of sulphuric acid.I particularly recommend this to the hon. Member for Berwick-on-Tweed (Mrs. Philipson), who believes she is going to get some sort of protection for the poultry keepers in her Division by these methods—We have not seen it referred to in Debate that all marks and stains can be removed from eggshells in this simple and inexpensive way. There can be no 'indelible' marks put on shelled eggs. The acid eats the lime, and the 'indelible' mark wipes off with the surface of the shell. In the way we indicate a wholesale quantity of eggs could be treated with ease—and it is to be expected that they would be—and at a negligible cost. And, as you say, the egg becomes a British egg and the fraud is worse than over.I recommend this passage to hon. Members opposite—We may say our own particular trade is in Yorkshire new laid eggs, and we should welcome any and every protection that any Act of Parliament could give to home produce, but the stamping of eggs is useless. Our view is that the only protection that could be given would be legislation which would make it a punishable offence to expose for sale imported eggs unless the word 'imported' in block letters of a certain size was on a printed card placed among the eggs being offered.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
But that provision is in force to-day without this Bill. It is in the existing Food Orders which were renewed last year under the Expiring Laws Continuance Act and which can be renewed again. Not only must eggs which are imported be marked with a label on the parcel, but meat on the slab must be marked "chilled" or "frozen" without all the complications and all the finesse which this Bill attempts to impose. I think that letter from a very large trader who deals only in home-laid eggs, and is in no way prejudiced, completely demolishes the case for the marking of the individual egg, and I challenge the promoters of the Bill—the hon. Gentleman who speaks for the Farmers' Union, the hon. Member for Berwick-on-Tweed, or others—to say what they have against such an argument by a practical man in business. Regarding 1835 the question of price, I have a letter from an association of French producers of dairy produce, the Fédération Nationale des Syndicate des Expéditeurs de Volailles, Beurre et Œufs. The President, writing from Allier last year, points out the absolute impossibility of marking each egg if the French trade is to compete in the English market. It is a very detailed letter, and I will not trouble the House with the whole of it, but one or two of his remarks, I think, I must give. He says:In order to understand the absolute impossibility which exists in France of carrying out this work, it must first be known how the French exporter works. In general, our clients are small business men, doing work by themselves with their family, helped sometimes in their hard tasks by employés. … The eggs are bought at the country markets direct from the farmers; at the purchase the eggs are put loosely in special cases. Immediately the transaction is completed, the eggs are packed where they stand in cases adequate for exportation or for France and are sent immediately to the station, or sent back to their owners for centralisation with more important lots. Wholesale exporters buy and receive eggs from small country agents and dealers. These eggs are received, generally, conveniently dealt with as regards packing, and consequently sent out again without further handling. The marking of the eggs will then make it necessary for the exporter to unpack everything at his place, and would further make a formidable task obligatory. It is impossible for the French exporter to be able to afford the excessive costs which will accrue to such a task: these costs can run to more than 10 francs per thousand. I should think more in the majority of cases. … How can he bear these costs when he cannot even obtain the personnel necessary for the work?He goes into great details as to shortage of labour in France for doing this or any other unnecessary work that is put upon him, and he says:The obligation to mark foreign eggs will not be accepted by the great majority of exporters for the above-named reasons: cost of handling, shortage of personnel, keeping back exportation, competition with selling in France preventing marking—with only a small reference to the hygienic aspect of the matter and the danger of marking the egg,and other technicalities with which I need not trouble the House. This gentleman, Monsieur Sieve, writes of the impossibility of this being done without great injury to the French egg trade in this country, and if that applies to France, it applies 1836 also to the producer of eggs in Poland, Lithuania, our own Colonies, Canada, the Irish Free State, and the other countries where eggs come from, and it must mean, therefore, a restriction in supplies to the British market. My hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) mentioned the figure of 2,000,000,000 eggs a year coming in. If those supplies are restricted, what will happen? Exactly the same as occurred during the War. The price of eggs will rise, and that means that the British family in poorer circumstances that can to-day afford eggs for breakfast—and, remember, we are the greatest egg-consuming people—will be driven to something else and will have to drop consuming eggs. But the price will go up, and that is the intention, of course, of those who speak for the agricultural interests. That is what they want.
In other words, this is Protection by a side wind. The Conservative party is in this particular like a drunkard who light-heartedly signs the pledge. For the present period, they are going to drop Protection, but, just as the drunkard, who has no strength of will, turns again and again to the bottle, so they come back, by various side roads, to attempts at Protection, of which this is one. I think it can be shown quite conclusively, first of all, that the marking of eggs is no protection at all to the housewife, and, secondly, that prices and the cost of Jiving will be raised. The opposition to this Bill is widespread among the interests concerned. All the grocers are against it. The Federation of Grocers' Associations are very much against it, and their Secretary, who has the good old Bavarian name of Giles, writes to me. The Meat Traders' Association Secretary writes to me, and he has the well-known German name of Payne, and I have a letter from a large firm in Hull rejoicing in the Hungarian name of Kirkpatrick. Large wholesale and retail grocers, writing this month, protest most strongly against the hardships that will be inflicted by this Bill upon the distributors of the people's food, and say there is no doubt of the increase of the cost of the commodities to the consumer. The Hull Retail Grocers' Association write to me, and their General Secretary is Mr. Atkinson. I do not know from what part of Germany he is supposed, by hon. Members opposite, to come.
1837 I have a great many letters from various other firms in my hand. The London Wholesale Poultry and Game Salesman's Association are very much opposed to this Bill. Their chairman is Mr. Key; their vice-chairman is Mr. Juniper; on their committee are the well-known German, Hungarian, and Austrian names of Freeman, Keevil, Reid, Jeffreys, Liversidge, Sproat, and Weatherley; and their treasurer is called Keevil—this is all foreign money, of course, behind this artificial agitation against the Bill—and their Honorary Secretary rejoices in the well-known foreign name of Ely.
So much for the alleged foreign interests behind the opposition to this Bill, and I have a pile several inches high of similar letters from other associations. The merchants are against it, the whole of the butchers are against it, the costermongers are against it, and the co-operative societies are against it, and I would remind the House that one of the hon. Members who played a considerable and useful part in the work of the Committee upstairs in opposition to this Bill last year spoke directly for the co-operators. I refer to the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander), who is now Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. He spoke for the whole of the co-operators, in violent opposition to the main principles of that Bill, which have been retained in this Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not the agricultural co-operators!"] I am not sure that the agriculturists are very much in favour of the Bill. I have spoken about it to one or two agriculturists in this House who are not bitten by the Protection heresy, and they say they cannot see any value to agriculture from this Bill, except in artificially raising prices, and in that way bolstering up the inefficient agriculturist or poultry-keeper and allowing him to go on with antiquated methods a little longer. Furthermore, this Bill is objectionable in that it attempts to stigmatise Colonial products.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Oh yes, it does. The marking of the produce is an attempt to prejudice the consumer against the food. There is no doubt about that, and therefore, in that respect, 1838 it is anti-Imperialist. It is going to be a hindrance to the free import of Colonial meat and other produce from our Dominions, and there is a growing trade in eggs from the Irish Free State, which, I suppose, under this Bill, will all have to be marked, and the objections of the French producers and merchants will apply also to the Irish producers and merchants.
I must say a word on this extremely objectionable Clause 10, about destroying food that has not been marked according to the provisions of this Bill. Clause 10, I think, should be studied by every hon. Member before he votes upon this Bill. It says that where eggs have been seized by the Customs on the ground that they were imported in contravention of the provisions of this Act, the owner may be ordered to destroy them. I think, in these times of extreme poverty, with so many people suffering the greatest distress, the destruction of food fit for human consumption would be dangerous, and I can think of nothing more likely to bring about social unrest than destroying food simply because it is not marked in accordance with the provisions of this Bill. This Bill, I repeat, though an improvement on the last one, is nevertheless extremely dangerous and harmful, and I do not think it is any real protection to the housewife, who now is the pet of the hon. Members who support this Bill.
It is all very well for the hon. and gallant Member for Buckrose (Sir G. Gaunt) to tell us about lizards' eggs and that sort of thing. He did not tell us anything about crocodiles' eggs, though he sheds crocodile tears about the poor ex-service man. The ex-service man and the widow and the poor housewife are the people who have been held up to us as requiring assistance. It is not they, but certain wealthy agricultural interests, who press for this Bill. Of course it is, and it is no good the hon. Member for Berwick shaking her head. This is Protection for the agricultural industry, and for that reason it ought to be brought in honestly as a Protectionist Measure, so that we could deal with it on its merits as such. If hon. Members were honest, they would plainly say they want Protection for the food producers of this country by a tariff upon imported wheat and meat.
§ Major COLFOX
Is it in order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to suggest that hon. Members who differ from one are dishonest?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Robert Young)
I do not think the hon. and gallant Member intended to infer anything improper.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I only spoke in the political sense. I do not in any way attack the personal honour of hon. Members, but they are not politically honest about this Bill, and I think I am quite in order in saying that. They are not politically honest about the whole of their policy of protecting agriculture. They dare not suggest the only thing that could protect agriculture, in this country, and they try to hoodwink us by pettifogging measures of this sort. Although the Bill is an improvement on the one brought in last year, I hope the House will reject it to-day, and for that reason I beg to Second the Amendment.
§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Noel Buxton)
I hope I may be allowed one word to explain my absence during the earlier part of the Debate. I regret very much if my absence appeared to imply any discourtesy to the House. It was very far from my intention. I would like to confirm what the Lord Privy Seal has said in regard to the attitude of the Cabinet to this Bill. That attitude being known to the House, the House will understand that I had to consider whether I ought not to use the morning in getting on with the somewhat urgent matters with which the Ministry of Agriculture is dealing, and both the Parliamentary Secretary and I were occupied with deputations dealing with some of the very pressing matters for which every hour is needed, and which, I thought, might be advanced. I am happy now to say that I got leave of the Leader of the House to break my engagements, and come to the House. I am very glad indeed to have had the excuse of breaking them, because it gives me the pleasure and the advantage of being here to listen to the Debate. I should, of course, have, very carefully studied it in the OFFICIAL REPORT, but I am more fortunate than that in having an excuse to be here this afternoon. It is not for me to take up more time. I have only to confirm, in regard 1840 to the attitude of the Government, every word that was said by my right hon. Friend.
§ Lord HUNTINGFIELD
I crave the indulgence of the House in making my first speech in it. I have heard since I have been here many maiden speeches, and I have looked upon the speakers with a mixed feeling of jealousy and admiration—jealousy because they have broken the ice, and admiration for the way in which they did it. In talking on this Bill, I find I am up against two great difficulties. One is that practically every word that can be said either for or against the Bill, has already been said in the last Parliament, and what little ground remained unbroken was covered by the Mover and Seconder of the Bill to-day. Secondly, I find I am up against no less redoubtable Parliamentary campaigners than the hon. Members for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Ken-worthy) and Penistone (Mr. Pringle). I would like to say that I have taken some trouble to read up the Bill as it was introduced by Mr. Pretyman in the last Parliament, and, of course, living in the hope that I should speak on this Bill, I read that Debate very carefully. I then asked the Librarian if he could give me the Report of the Debate that took place in Committee. He presented me with a book containing the proceedings of 18 days, and I certainly gave that tip as hopeless, and did not pursue it any further.
But I cannot for the life of me think why these two hon. Members below the Gangway should have so strenuously opposed the Bill. I believe that they represent—in fact one of them has said so in the Debate—essentially urban constituencies, although the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull has told us that he has been thanked by the Farmers' Union for the work he did in connection with agriculture. He said that, I think, in the last Debate in this House on this subject. I think the House will admit that is combining business with pleasure. Those Members were looking to their constituencies in the next Election. That is one reason, but I really think the real reason is that they are upholding the good old Liberal principle that the foreigner is always a better man than the Englishman, and he is always deserving of consideration against the British 1841 subject. I noticed further in that Debate—and I am very sorry to see that that particular Member is not in the House—that it was wound up in a very characteristic speech by the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones). I certainly tremble when I think that I am up against two such distinguished Members below the Gangway and the hon. Member for Silvertown, whose international repartee has become an established fact in this House.
As regards the agricultural side, no less a person than the Minister of Agriculture, a few days ago, hoped to relieve the present crisis in agriculture by promoting co-operation in that industry, and he quoted Denmark as an outstanding example of what co-operation will do or agriculture. I hope I am not transgressing, but I would like to remind the right hon. Gentleman that the position of Denmark is somewhat different from the position of England in regard to agriculture. In Denmark, all the laws and legislation are made to further the interests of the export of agricultural produce. Denmark is a big exporting country for agricultural produce. The people are able to concentrate at the ports the exports they produce, and which they are going to send abroad. It is there weighed and sent over to our country in the most effective form possible. Denmark bases her national prosperity on agriculture. Look for one moment at the position in England. We are an importing country as regards agricultural produce, and the varied conditions of the farmers of this country are such that there is not quite the same inducement for co-operation as exists in Denmark. We have also this in this country, that most of our laws are made with a view to promoting industry. Nobody can gainsay that, in fact, industry is considered to have a prior claim to agriculture. Therefore we base our national prosperity on industry as against agriculture. If this Bill becomes law—as I very much hope it will—I am quite sure that it will stimulate precisely what the Minister of Agriculture wishes to improve in this country, namely, co-operation amongst farmers for the marketing and selling of the produce for which the farmers, the smallholders, and the ex-service men are responsible.
1842 It is said in opposition to this Bill that the marking of eggs and of the varieties of agricultural produce is difficult to control, and that conditions of the Government will probably divert from the markets of this country the produce which we require. I should like in answer to that to say that we have in this country the very best markets in the world. You do not mean to tell me that the foreigner is going to give up these markets just because he has to mark his eggs. Denmark, which is admittedly one of the biggest exporters of agricultural produce to this country, already marks her eggs and bacon, so I cannot see for one single moment why other foreign countries should not come into line with Denmark. I have heard it reiterated in this House in connection with this question of Agriculture, by the Prime Minister downwards, that every Member has desires to do what he can to help the industry. I say that all, I do not mind whether on the Government Benches or below the Gangway, or elsewhere, have here a great opportunity of showing and of putting into practice what they have said in this House in reference to agriculture. In conclusion, I should like just to put in a nutshell what this Bill represents. It gives to the British consumer the opportunity, with knowledge and certainty, of buying the agricultural produce of the British farmers, and I most sincerely hope that hon. Members in all parts of the House will give the Bill their support to obtain its Second Beading.
§ Mr. GEORGE EDWARDS
I have listened to the Mover and Seconder of this Bill, and also to the speeches that have been delivered from the opposite benches, and they have put those of us who represent agricultural districts in a most difficult position. One or two of us were prepared, when we entered the House this morning—I cannot say we are now!—to vote for the main principles of this Bill. Not that we believe that this is a solution of our social problems—not by any means—but we really did think that the principles of the Bill would give the honest housewife and the wife of the poor working man some protection against fraud. I am a staunch Free Trader. I would not vote for anything that had the slightest semblance of Protection. Unlike hon. Members below the Gangway, on this side of the House, we do not smell 1843 Protection in -everything. We judge a man largely by his words and his works. I must say that the speeches delivered from the opposite benches by the Proposer and Seconder and supporters of the Bill have been Protectionist speeches in very essence.
In spite of that I am somewhat inclined, though there is a great deal in the Bill that I could not, possibly, support, in spite of that, I say, I might be inclined to vote for the Second Reading. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I do not say I shall do so, but that I am inclined to do so! It depends upon other speeches from the opposite benches. Listening to the Debate to-day I have been much struck by the speech made by the Mover of the rejection of the Bill, the hon. Member for East. Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge). If his statement were true, it convinces me that there is a necessity for a Bill of this kind. I hope the capitalist system is not so bad in this country as he made out. If it be so, then no stronger argument in favour of pure Socialism was ever delivered in this House. He actually told us that under the present law you have tradesmen in this country who were so grossly dishonest that they would take farm butter, mix it with foreign butter, and sell it as British produce.
§ Mr. EDWARDS
There is good reason why it should, then, if the statement of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh be true. I had supposed that the British trader is not so dishonest as he is made out, [An HON. MEMBER: "He must be."] I do not agree with many of the Clauses of the Bill but, as I said, this will give the working man's wife an opportunity, when she goes with her small pittance to the grocers, to know whether she is purchasing foreign eggs or foreign goods, or British goods. For that principle alone I feel inclined to vote for the Bill. A great deal of amusement has been created about eggs and how the hen lays, but there is a serious side to this question and that is many of these foreign eggs are palmed off on to working people as new laid eggs. If anything can be done to protect the British wageearner I think we ought to provide protection in some way or other 1844 If this Bill gets into Committee stage, I shall do what I can to get some alteration made in the direction of protecting the public from fraud in these matters, a protection which I think is very necessary.
Mr. SYDNEY JONES
In rising to address this House for the first time, I am quite sure hon. Members will extend to me that kind indulgence which is always shown to new Members. There are one or two points which I should like to bring before the House as to why I am opposing this Bill. In the first instance it seems to me that this is not a Measure to protect trade marks. If it were I might have some sympathy for it. Neither is it a Bill which is going to prevent fraud, for I would point out that the Board of Trade has already ample power to deal with any question of fraud. I do not think that it is really intended to prohibit importation, although it does place restrictions and difficulties in the way of importation, and the effect will probably be to reduce the amount of food supplies which will come into this country.
If that be so who is going to benefit by this Bill? Certainly not the importer, who is a valuable helper in the promotion of our international trade. It is not necessarily the home producer because we are told by hon. Members opposite that if the goods are suitably marked, they will still be allowed to come in. I cannot help thinking that at the back of the minds of hon. Members on the benches opposite there is lurking a hope that there will be a reduction in the importation of these goods, and that the home producer will benefit by the inevitable rise in price which will occur through a restriction of imported goods. If prices rise who will suffer? Surely it must be the consumer. I was surprised to hear the last speaker assert that the working classes might, benefit by the promotion of this Bill. We must remember that, although we are not all producers we are all consumers, and closely interested in the price list of the various goods we have to buy. If prices are not going to rise then I do not see why there is a desire for this Bill on the part of those promoting it.
Surely, in the case of food production, the home producer has a great advantage to begin with over the foreign importer 1845 because he is close to the home markets, and his perishable goods are at the doors of those who wish to buy them at once. The hon. and gallant Member who moved the Second Heading of this Bill seems to be living in a constant fear of finding a Chinese C3 egg on his breakfast table. I do not know that they are all liable to be marked C3, but I am not quite sure that the provisions of this Bill will secure the hon. and gallant Member a fresh egg for his breakfast. We are told that it is very easy to mark these eggs. Perhaps it would be easy for those who own small holdings, but do hon. Members opposite realise the enormous extent of our import trade in eggs? We should not only have to mark the eggs, but we should also have to employ inspectors at foreign ports as well as here to see that the eggs are marked.
With regard to the trade in Chinese eggs, may I point out that two years ago one vessel brought in 14,500,000 eggs and another vessel brought in 12,750,000. Who is going to examine all these eggs in order to see that they are properly marked before they are put on the market? The cost is going to be very large indeed, and the trouble and delays in examining all these eggs will not promote British trade, and it certainly will not promote a reduction in the cost of eggs in this country. Why should we not be able to import food as largely as possible in order that the British consumer may receive it at the cheapest possible price? Why should the hen on the plains of China, where there are no restrictions as to output, be deprived of the opportunity of providing the British consumer with as many eggs as possible? Why should the Danish bee, with no limitation as to hours of work, not be allowed to add to the stock of honey growers? Why should the Dominion pig, which grows fat on the confines of our Empire, be branded as a criminal when it is sent over here to supply our needs?
It is a well-known fact that we cannot, produce enough food in our country to supply the needs of some 40 million people. If in any way we lessen the quantity of food imported, the only result will be that the consumer will have to pay more for his goods. Besides this a large importation of food in this way tends to increase British trade. A plentiful supply of food by reducing prices tends to increase the 1846 purchasing power of the people, and this enables the people to buy more and increase trade. Imports are inevitably paid for by exports of one type or another, either by goods which go out or by services rendered. This leads me to my last point. I do not know how far it is applicable in the present instance: I say that imports are paid for partly by services rendered. The merchant service provides this service and brings in the goods and takes them out, and therefore our exports provide an enormous amount of trade which enables our population to live in peace, and I hope, in a very short time, in plenty. If you restrict in any way the importation of goods, you necessarily restrict the merchant shipping of this country. You disturb the processes of our overseas trade, and the people who suffer first from the restriction of our foreign trade are the poorer members of the community. Cheap food and cheap necessities of life are the first needs of the people of this country, and among the services which enable us to bring in these imports are what are called the invisible exports.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I am very loth to interfere with the hon. Member's maiden speech, but I think he is going somewhat beyond the scope of the Bill.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
On that point of Order. May I submit- to you that the hon. Member is endeavouring to argue that the object of the Bill is the restriction of imports, and that if you restrict imports, you restrict exports both visible and invisible?
I apologise if I have in any way transgressed the rules of the House. The point I really wished to make was on the question of the re-export trade is that if these goods, when they are collected by the British merchants, and sent abroad, have the mark on them that they have been produced in Denmark or elsewhere, the foreign merchant in far-off lands when he wishes to re-supply himself will go directly to the foreign country, and will not come back to the British merchant who has hitherto supplied him. It was not with any desire to transgress the rules of debate that I have made these remarks, but it was in order to show how the marking of these goods when they come into this country I does restrict the re-export of them, and I therefore diminishes the wealth of this 1847 country and the power of our people to buy the necessary food. I hope, therefore, that the House will reject the Bill, because it seems to me to be a pin-pricking policy of Protection, which, if carried out, would be in direct opposition to the welfare of our world-wide trade and the ultimate properity of the nation.
§ Sir VICTOR WARRENDER
It is with some diffidence that I rise to address this House for the first time, but I am greatly encouraged to do so by reason of the very real enthusiasm which I feel in my heart for the principle that underlies this Bill. I believe that enthusiasm is more general throughout the country than some hon. Members sitting on the other side of the House would have us believe. This Bill appeals to me in principle on many grounds, but particularly for two reasons. Firstly, it is a Measure to safeguard the British public from the effects of dishonest dealing and what might be called fraud, and incidentally, it is calculated that it will provide substantial assistance to certain sections of our agricultural community, which, it is admitted in every quarter of the House, are not in a particularly prosperous position at the present time. Accordingly, we on this side of the House are entitled to ask for a really broad-minded and sympathetic consideration for this Measure.
The number of ex-service men who are engaged in the cultivation of smallholdings in the country to-day is very large, and a great deal of their occupation is spent in the rearing of poultry and the production of eggs. If this Bill is in any way going to assist these men to extend their business and to increase, their production, then I say it should receive general support from all quarters of the House. May I point out this to hon. Gentleman opposite? There are a large number of women occupied in this industry, and, to my mind, the time of this House would be very much better spent in the promotion of a Measure of this kind than in providing these young ladies with the privilege of exercising the vote at future General Elections. I believe it is true, as was stated by the late Minister of Agriculture in the Debate which took place in the last Parliament, that the produce of the poultry industry in this country is greater in value than 1848 the produce of the wheat industry. Therefore, if anything can be done in the direction of helping what obviously, according to those figures, must be a very large industry, our efforts will not be wasted.
Arguments have been put forward by those opposed to this Bill purely, so far as I can see, on technical grounds. I have not heard a single argument from the other side of the House that really affects the underlying principle of the Bill. They say that it will mean additional expense, and they point to the difficulty of administering the Bill. That may be so. I do not pretend that there are not great difficulties in effecting the object which we have in view, but has this British House of Commons come to a condition when it has so little brains left that it cannot find some means of effecting a principle which must be of great use to a, large section of the community? Though the egg producers of this country will greatly benefit from this Bill if it be carried, there is another article of food included in the Bill which is also of great importance at the moment, and that is bacon. Very recently, a big bacon factory has been opened in Lincolnshire, and it happens to be situated in the heart of the constituency which I have the honour to represent. This factory represents an effort at what is called co-operation in agriculture, and, judging from the debate which took place in this House last week, co-operation in agriculture is desired by all parties. This factory represents a form of enterprise, then, which it should be our object to further and encourage as much as we can. This seems to me a very rare opportunity of furthering that enterprise. Surely the bacon producers of this country, if the Bill passes into law, will at least have the certain knowledge, that when their bacon leaves the factory and goes into the markets of the country and faces the enormous competition of foreign imported bacon, the British public will know exactly what they are buying.
Danish bacon comes into this country in enormous quantities. I believe the figures for pig products consumed in this country work out at somewhere about 50 per cent imported, and bacon production in this country is an industry which can be largely increased, to the benefit not only of the consumer but of the whole popula- 1849 tion.If we are going to combat the enormous competition from abroad in this one line, we have to produce an article which is as good as, or better, than the best imported article, and I believe that that can be done; but it cannot be done unless the industry is encouraged, and unless there is initiative and hard work. Surely, when this industry is in its very infancy in this country, we are not going to reject a Bill which, in a small way is, to my mind, going to effect that object. I happened to take up the Report of the Debate on this Bill which took place in the last Parliament, and I could not help being struck with the fact that the arguments put forward by those who opposed the Bill, and especially by those hon. Members who now sit below the Gangway opposite, consisted very largely of speeches of a humorous nature about eggs. The process has been repeated today, but this time the climax of humour was reached on the subject of sausages. Why eggs have been dropped I cannot say, unless, perhaps, the Liberal party have at the back of their minds the fact that the only egg that ever rose to any fame fell off the wall and was so shattered that all the King's horses and all the King's men could not put it together again.
Eggs are now, perhaps, rather a sore subject in the Liberal party, and they prefer to talk about sausages, but it amazes me that, while they can find so much humour in this Merchandise Marks Bill, they cannot find any humour in the position which they now occupy. If they can crack so many jokes about eggs and sausages, there is an illimitable field for them in regard to their own position and the situation which they now occupy. I would ask the House to give this Bill rather a wider view and consideration than has been done so far. Let us get away from the small technicalities and the small items in connection with the actual working of the Bill. The Bill embodies a great principle, and, if those Free Traders go down to their constituencies, they will find that even the least educated Free Trader living there will have a clearer and more competent understanding of it than, apparently, they have themselves. I would ask the House to vote for the Second Reading of this Bill, or, at any rate, to think twice, if not thrice, before they take the other course.
§ Mr. PERRY
I do not intend to take up much of the time of the House this afternoon, but, speaking on behalf of what is probably the strongest body of organised consumers in this country, I would say that our six representatives in this House will vote against this Bill. I was much interested in the argument of the hon. Member opposite when he spoke about convinced Free Traders knowing a great deal about this Bill. It is because the great co-operative movement has always stood firmly by the policy of Free Trade, and because they understand something of Free Trade, that they see in this Bill another ingenious design to bring about a Measure of Tariff Reform in this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] I just give that opinion. I would not venture to challenge the opinion of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I would like to suggest that we have a right to speak on behalf of organised consumers in this country, dealing, as we are, week by week, with a body numbering 4¾ millions: and one of our primary objects is to safeguard the interests of consumers, not only in regard to the quality of the food they consume, but also in regard to its price. If we, as an organised movement, felt that this Bill would protect the interests of the consumer, we should have no hesitation in giving it support.
§ Mr. PERRY
What does it mean? It means that, if you add to the restrictions already placed on foodstuffs coming into this country, you are going to multiply the difficulties of those who are handling them here. Like many hon. Members, I have had several letters from my constituency, and the retail traders in my constituency are unanimously opposed to this Bill. It is not often that the retail traders of this country are found to be acting in complete harmony and unison with our great co-operative movement. If the House wishes not only to safeguard the interests of the people in regard to the quality of foodstuffs, but also to protest against any restrictions which are going to increase prices, I think it is the bounden duty of every hon. Member to oppose this Bill. One could admire those who are bringing it forward much better if they had come out with an open advocacy of Tariff Reform. Hon. Members 1851 shake their heads, but you can call it what you like. Some of us who have had experience both of Free Trade and of Tariff Reform, know that this is another ingenious method of trying to get by the back door what the electors of this country refused to give by the front door last December. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Wait and see. I appeal to the House, in the interests of the consumer, not only in regard to the quality of foodstuffs, but also as opposing any restrictions that will tend to increase the price of food to the consumer, to reject this Measure and to have done with it for a long time.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
May I, in the first place, congratulate the hon. Baronet the Member for Grantham (Sir V. Warrender) on his very admirable maiden speech? Although he poked a little fun at the party to which I have the honour to belong, I hope we shall on many occasions have the benefit of such excellent speeches as that which he has made this afternoon. Very briefly, I should like to support this Bill. I know the difficulties of the smallholders and small producers of food in this country, and they do really deserve some encouragement from this House. The hon. Member who spoke last said that this is against the interests of the consumer. May I differ from him? I am a Free Trader. I have fought for Free Trade for many years, both inside and outside this House, and I assure the hon. Member that I can discover no trace whatsoever of Tariff Reform in such a Measure as this. It is not tariffs, it is fair play, and I do suggest to my Labour Friends that, if they came down to a con stituency like mine, where the smallholders are holding on by the skin of their teeth, they would really desire to give them some encouragement. The big men will not be affected much one way or the other, but the small men do deserve that their produce shall have fair play when it comes to market.
It has been said that such a Measure as this—and I agree that the difficulties of putting it into operation are immense—will raise prices. Will it? I think not. In the first place, if it can be brought into operation it will give the housewife a bargaining power which she has not got now. She does not know to-day whether she is buying a foreign egg or a British egg. 1852 [Interruption.] The hon. Member must allow us some knowledge of what is going on. I do not want to be constantly replying to interruptions. This is a business Debate. I remember the old fight over the margarine question. Then it was a question as to whether margarine should be sold as margarine. There was a strenuous fight put up against it. What has been the effect? Margarine to-day is sold as margarine, and it is sold at a reasonable price. It has not had the effect of increasing the price of margarine, but when it could be sold as butter there was fraud somewhere. That fraud has been put down. I suggest that members of the Labour party, who seem to be taking an attitude against the Bill, should ask the housewife whether, when she goes to a shop, she wants to know she is being treated fairly or not. Can you give the housewife too much protection in this matter? If she- wants a foreign egg, let her have it. If she wants a British egg, why should she not have that? Surely it is only fair. [An Hon. MEMBER: "The British egg is too dear."] In my judgment this will bring down the price of the foreign egg, because the foreign egg today is sold as a British egg. That being so, it will not increase the price of food, but cheapen it.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
Hero is the evidence. This is a circular from the Grocers' Association, and they say that 2,000,000,000 eggs are imported. Are they labelled as imported eggs? Not a bit of it.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
Large numbers of them are sold as British eggs. I do not want to get into any controversy with my hon. Friend, but I say this is evidence, and according to ibis, 2,000,000,000 foreign eggs are brought into this country and they are not sold as foreign eggs. [An HON. MEMBER: "They are sold as eggs."] Yes; they are not sold even as Election eggs! The housewife in this matter is entitled to that information. If she wants a foreign egg, let her go and buy it. If she wants a British egg, let her buy that. What objection can there be to it? It will bring down the price of foreign eggs, because to-day 1853 they are mixed with British eggs. I do not think it will send up the price of English eggs, but if it does, the consumer will be buying what she wants. To-day she does not know whether she is buying what she wants or not. This circular says the importer will no longer be able to buy eggs by auction in transit. That means that all sorts of eggs are bought in transit and placed on the market here. They are not sold as foreign eggs but as British. [HON. MEMBEES: "No!"] That is my judgment, and if you go into any large egg emporium to-day you will find there are the eggs, but whether they are foreign or British no man can say.
I should like the housewife to be protected. If the hon. Members really asked their wives what they thought about it they would be unanimously in favour of the Bill. They do not want to be defrauded, and this Bill, so far as it can be put into operation—I know it is a difficult matter—will afford a certain amount of information to the housewife in her daily marketing, and why not? Incidentally you give some encouragement to the British producer, and why not? Surely, you want to help, so far as you can, the rural population of our country. It is a very difficult struggle they are carrying on. I want to help them. I want to increase the food supply produced in our own country. You can have no tariff. I have told my people in the country scores of times you can have no traiff against food. That is certain. But because you can have no tariff against food—and I do not think it would be a good thing if we could have it with this enormously industralised population of ours—surely you can have fair play for the British producer. That is all I ask. If this were a question of Protection I would not vote for it for a moment, but here is a matter which, it seems to me, will give some information to the consumer, it will give some encouragement to the producer, it will put down fraud, so far as it can be put down, amongst middlemen, and, therefore, I give the Bill my warm and hearty support.
§ Mr. SMITH-CARINGTON
I ask the indulgence of the House to bear kindly with me on the occasion of my addressing them for the first time. May I remind the House once again that there are two aspects from which we can approach this Bill. In the first place, 1854 it can be looked on as one in the interest of the purchaser, designed for the purpose of securing him against error of description, or it can be looked at—and this is the view I am more interested in myself—as one which would be of practical advantage to the home producer. I think it is very often hard to realise that this country is almost the only large importing country for foodstuffs. Other countries are cither self-supporting, or are exporting food, and the result is that we are made a target for the exporting force of all parts of the world. That may be a very advantageous position from the point of view of our home consumers, but it imposes an overwhelming handicap upon our home producers. As against this overwhelming handicap we have some two or three mitigating circumstances. There are- only two to which I would draw attention to-day. In the first place, there is that higher degree of quality which we claim, I believe quite rightly, for the goods that are home grown, and, in the second place, there is a very large number of our patriotic fellow countrymen who wish to buy British goods whenever they can. The help they could give to the British market is very considerable. Unless your purchasers observe what goods they are buying, these two advantages in their turn must go by the board. You cannot expect that when there are indiscriminate sales of foreign or home articles, people who may have been deceived on various occasions will be so ready to buy the article when they are not quite sure that they are going to get it.
At the present time, the handicaps, mitigated to the degrees I have mentioned, are very much emphasised by the collapsed exchanges in foreign countries. It may even be more profitable to the trader at the present time to sell a foreign article than to sell the British article. As the law is I do not suggest anything against the trader. There is not any obligation upon him to point out to his customer, or his would-be customer, the country of origin of these articles, but that is a very different matter from the suggestions that have been made by an hon. Member opposite, that a department might be set up, or even a back kitchen used, for the purpose of washing out marks that are put upon eggs as a result of this Bill. Eggs have been men- 1855 tioned so frequently that I am shy to mention them again, but I would point out that a very large number of ex-service men, disabled soldiers, and even blinded soldiers are being encouraged to go in for poultry keeping as a means of livelihood. They have embarked their slender capital in these enterprises and have entered into their new industry full of high hopes, but have already suffered very serious disappointment in their expectation of reaping a comfortable livelihood as a reward for their work and enterprise. I know of a very large number, and it must be the experience of other hon. Members, Who feel that if this Bill became law it would be of very real help to them. I ask that we should give the Bill a Second Reading and, in due course, carry it into law for the purpose not alone of giving a gesture of goodwill to these men, whom we have encouraged to embark in this industry, but to give them the confident belief that if they do so they will get, substantial advantage out of it.
§ Mr. BROAD
When any legislation which is of a restrictive nature and imposes penalties is to be introduced and to receive a Second Beading, the onus lies upon those who promote the Bill of showing the extent of the evil with which the Bill proposes to deal, to show that it is possible by that Measure to put an end to the evil and to show that, in the operation of the Measure, you will not create greater hardships than you are going to remove. The onus of making such a case lies primarily on the hon. and gallant Member (Sir G. Gaunt) who introduced the Bill. While we listened to a very nice speech from the hon. and gallant Member, he fulfilled none of the conditions necessary to enable us to pass such a Measure. We all appreciate his breezy manner, and we can respect his sentiments regarding the disabled ex-service men. We feel inclined to get on our feet and sing "Rule Britannia" when he does a bit of flag waving, as he did in introducing the Bill. He gave nothing to show the extent of the evil, that it was an evil which the people felt strongly, and that there was a demand in the country for such a Measure.
I want to examine, a little closely one of the motives behind this Bill and to ascertain who it is that will be advantaged by it. It is the view of those 1856 who have supported it that the Bill would advantage the agricultural interests. I think a Measure of this sort, and other Measures of a protective nature, which are supposed to be in the interests of agriculture, render agriculture the greatest disservice, because they are always trying to persuade the agriculturists that it is something outside themselves, something over which they have no control, which affects them, and that other people must do for them what they should do for themselves. We know, and every section of this House and of the country realises, the position of agriculture. We can only help agriculturists to help themselves. We must not confine our attention so much to eggs in this matter or talk of the possibilities of our getting lizard's eggs. We know that lizard's eggs were introduced last year, and we were told that they were hatched, and that lizards came out. It is no doubt very amusing, and we like to have a laugh on a Friday, but if hon. Members will go to the Natural History Museum they will see that the lizard's egg is very different from the hen's egg. It bears no resemblance. Even the blind poultry farmer would have no difficulty in being sure that he did not get lizards' eggs.
I was a member of the Committee last year, and I am struck with the great change that has been made in the Bill. We were- assured by the hon. and and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) that so fine was the Bill when it last emerged from the Committee that the majority of the House were determined to give it their support. If it was such a worthy Bill, why was it not brought forward again in the form in which it left the Committee? Are we to have the same process that took place last year? Having got the principle through the House on Second Reading in an emasculated Measure such as this, will the promoters proceed, if they can, to introduce in Committee all these other things, as they did last year? Of the thousand Amendments referred to by the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead, which were introduced in Committee, a very large proportion were introduced by the hon. Member and his Friends, and we who were opposed to the Bill had to produce many more Amendments to deal with the Amendments which the other side introduced.
1857 Some great changes have taken place. For instance, instead of being allowed to mark your goods as imported you must now mark them with the place of origin. I suppose you will have to have a large assortment of flags to place over your shop to indicate the place of origin of the goods. You will have to learn again your geography. We have been assured by one hon. Member below the Gangway that the application of this Measure will not raise the price of commodities. That is his opinion, but that was not the opinion of the late Minister of Agriculture who, when giving his blessing to this Bill Last year, said that undoubtedly it would raise the price of commodities. That was the purpose of it. I have not a copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT here, but I think it will be within the memory of most hon. Members that that was what he said.
We are assured that the representatives of the Colonies say they would like to see goods marked to show that they are Empire produce, and the part of the Empire they come from. There is nothing to prevent the Colonies marking their goods just as the Danish people do. We come here to the crux of the whole position. If the agriculturists of this country are so confident of the quality of their goods, let them mark them and it will be a penal offence to imitate their marks. Why do the Danish people mark their goods? It is not that they want to warn against foreign goods the British housewife who prefers to buy British goods. They are not so misguided as that. It is because agriculture in Denmark is not run on individualistic, narrow-minded lines. They are scientific, not only in the cultivation of the soil itself, in which our agriculturists may be equally good, but they are scientific in the method of collecting, grading and marking their goods. Their eggs are so marked that any given egg can be traced back to the original producer if he is not supplying the proper quality, and when the English egg producer does the same thing there will be a great future for English egg production.
We know that to-day the English housewife who goes to a shop is prepared to pay an equal price if not a better price for a Danish marked egg. Our Friends last year spoke of Dutch pork and veal. They have left out pork this year, because if these things were marked the public 1858 would soon find out the quality of Danish eggs and Dutch pork. They have a standard quality on which people can rely. We see mongrel herds of pigs and cattle in this country to-day—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where," and "The best in the world."]—which do not give any basis for turning out a standard article. That is what is going on here. A Measure of this kind is simply designed to bolster up an industry which is not properly and scientifically organised, and it is misleading our agriculturists into thinking that the fault is not with themselves but with somebody else.
We are told about butter being left out of the Bill this year, but we wore not told the reason. A very big proportion of the butter on which we can rely comes from the Colonies, and in a great many cases it is used to smother the unequal quality of the English butter. I recollect that some years ago no woman would buy a piece of butter or cheese unless she tasted it first, because the quality varied from every farm in the country. There was nothing standard about it. You never could be sure of your quality. Now we have from the Colonies, and from the Continent, a standard of uniform texture and flavour, and these products are replacing ours in the market because of their uniformity. I am not saying that they are better, but since there is uniformity you can deal with them. The hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead says that agriculturists are only claiming for their produce the same as industrialists get for their manufactured articles. It is a very different thing in each case. Take the Merchandise Marks Act. Manufactured goods coming into this country do not require to be marked as imported goods or with the name of the place of origin, unless there is some lettering or marking on those goods which would lead people to suppose that they are made in England. If "eggs is eggs," as the famous Samuel Weller said, there is no marking necessary for them. If boots are to be boots and clocks to be clocks, unless they are marked in such a way as to lead people to suppose that they are manufactured in this country, they need not be marked so far as the country of origin is concerned. We say that it should be exactly the same in this case.
1859 Then there is the difficulty of applying this Measure. There is no provision for the goods being marked at the port of importation. When the goods come here the consignee cannot have them marked here if they come in unmarked. We have got to have them destroyed or be fined £100, and so for an oversight due to lack of knowledge of our laws on the part of the person who supplies the goods overseas, if those goods come in here that food has to be destroyed under a penalty of £100. Then as to the tradesman, when he comes to deal with these things, if by inadvertence or the carelessness of a junior after the butcher sends out his goods with a chop or two any of the bills become detached he is liable to a penalty of £10 for the first, £25 for the second, and £50 for the third offence, or six months' imprisonment with or without hard labour. Anyone who knows the retail butchering trade, especially in working-class neighbourhoods where deliveries are almost confined to the week-end, knows that the women folk select the food in the shop, but they cannot keep it at home in the hot weather, and these goods are sent out on Saturday or on Sunday morning in some districts. It is a regular thing for women to buy meat on Friday or Saturday and have it put in the ice safe and then sent home on Sunday morning and the butchers' boys are rushing around because there are so many people who live in one or two-roomed tenements, and it is not a good thing in hot weather to keep meat in the room I in which the family are sleeping.
What is the reason for the extent of this penalty? When it comes to a question of respect for laws and a deterrent for wrong doing, it is the certainty of punishment and not the severity of the punishment which is going to deter. You may have the penalty of hanging, but if the chances against detection are a million to one, people will run the risk, while if everybody is going to be caught, a fine of 2s. 6d. will act as a deterrent. It will be impossible to apply this Act properly unless you have a whole horde of officials to be either hoodwinked or bribed. We know that all this restrictive legislation is not for the protection of the housewife. The housewife will buy Danish butter or Dutch pork or veal if she feels or knows that it is superior to 1860 English. There is no keener person in appraising the value of what she gets in things like eggs, and therefore she goes to the shopkeeper who serves her well. That is her guide all the time.
If a butcher were to endeavour to carry out this scheme, as far as delivery alone is concerned, the extra time involved would be great. He would require to have an extra assistant carefully to inspect every piece of meat. These things would have the effect of increasing the price of meat by at least 1d. a pound. If in a working-class area we get English meat it is usually the meat of a milked-out cow, or something of that sort, and is not prime beef. We know that we get chilled meat, and in most cases we prefer it to the English meat that is offered to us in such districts. There is no doubt about the foreign meat. Take another aspect of the question. Anyone who knows anything about the handling of goods at the docks knows that the mechanical transporter carries away the frozen sheep or side of beef, which is then rushed into cold storage. Every minute wasted on the journey deteriorates the meat. When the ships came in laden with frozen meat it would be necessary, under this Bill, to have a most expensive horde of inspectors unwrapping the meat to see whether it was branded, or else there would be very great delay, and if there were delay the effect would be to hamper the trade by deteriorating the quality of the goods.
If we are to have a race, let us be fair. Do not let us put peas into the other man's shoes. The whole scheme of this Bill is to handicap this trade so as to deteriorate the quality of the goods, and that is putting peas into the other man's shoes. People who support this Bill have had the value of the educational work we did last year when a similar Bill was considered in Committee. That educational work having been done, we ought to say that, in view of the result of the last Election, and in view of the fact that open Protection has been abandoned by the other side for the time being, the time of this House can be put to better use than in flogging this Measure through another 18 or 24 Committee meetings. This Bill, compared with last year's Bill, is an emasculated thing, but all the errors of drafting and all the absurdities it contains would mean that it would have to be altered, word for word, just as was last year's Bill. I hope that the 1861 House will not go on with the Measure, but that agriculturists will show us in what way we can help them to help themselves. I shall then give them every support that I can.
§ Mr. LAMB
I wish to support this Bill. I was one of those who took great interest in a similar Bill that was before the last Parliament. I am not afraid in the least of the arguments against the Bill. The only danger to the Bill is tactics, and that was what was most effective during the passage of the last Bill through Committee, especially arguments such as those which have been put forward by the last speaker. I shall not deal with the question why butter has been excluded. It is, however, not for the reasons expounded by the last speaker. The main difficulty is that you cannot ascertain whether butter is British butter or foreign butter by analysis. I will say something regarding the criticism as to the delivery of meat which has been ordered from the retailer. It is suggested that there was danger of the loss of the ticket that should accompany the meat. That danger was exaggerated very much. To-day, if coal is delivered, a ticket must accompany it stating the weight. I have not heard of many prosecutions in instances where the ticket has not been delivered because it was lost on the way. The main question in this Bill is the interest of those who are most concerned. We can say—at least the vast majority of us can say—that it is the consumer's interest with which we are concerned. The consumer has a right to know what she or he is buying, and that is the main principle underlying the Bill. There is another principle. We have heard a great deal about Free Trade. There is another freedom which I hope that hon. Members on all sides will support, and that is free selection. How can a man or woman have free selection unless the foreign article is marked? Let me read an extract from the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Debate on the Second Reading of last year's Bill. It is from a speech by the present Financial Secretary to the Treasury. I take it that he was speaking for the Labour party.
§ Mr. LAMB
The hon. Gentleman to whom I refer moved the rejection of the Bill, and this is what he said: 1862We are not opposed to doing everything in our power to secure that consumers may know the origin of the food which is offered them for sale from time to time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th March, 1923; col. 1975; Vol. 161.]That is an admission of the principle which I have just mentioned. It was not to the principle but to the machinery that the hon. Gentleman objected. The other opposition last year was from the co-operative societies. We have heard again to-day those who speak on behalf of the co-operative societies. Co-operation in trading is legitimate, and I have no argument or no grudge against it, except with regard to taxation, and that is not affected by this Bill. The hon. Members to whom I referred spoke for the co-operators as traders, and not as consumers. That is where the difference comes in. If they spoke in the interest of co-operators as consumers, they would drop the price of the articles they were selling, and so bring down the general prices of the country. Instead of that, they take advantage of the prices current, they get the best prices they can, and they return the benefits to their consumers in the form of a dividend. That is looking after the trading interests and not the interests of the consumers. Therefore, they have no right to speak for the consumers as consumers.
The opposition to the last Bill in Committee was very largely from merchants and traders. It was not from consumers. With regard to the merchants, I can say very little, because my sympathies are not very keenly with the merchants. They do not employ much labour, and that, after all, is the great consideration in any country. They take a very big proportion of the money which is extracted between the consumer and the producer, and, generally speaking, they perform the least service. With regard to the trader, I cannot understand why he objects to this Bill. His first object should be, and I believe in the majority of cases is, to give satisfaction to his customer. If he is to do that, he must supply his customer with the article demanded. If it is, then there is no objection to this Bill whatever, because it makes' no difference to them. The credit of the trader is as important to the trader as the credit of the country is to the country. Reference was made to the attitude of the Dominions on this Bill. The attitude of the Dominions is that of support. It has been referred to 1863 before in the Debate to-day, and I am not going to labour the question, but they already do mark their articles and that, I think, is one of the strongest arguments against the argument put forward by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Ken-worthy) when he said the marking of eggs was going to spoil the French trade. If it is going to spoil the French trade, why has it not spoiled the trade of those countries which already do it? If it will not do it in the one case, I cannot conceive why it should do it in the other. I do not think it is necessary to refer again to the question of Protection. It is Protection, Protection pure and simple, but it is Protection against fraud.
The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull also said the Bill was rough on the trader. It is only rough on the trader who is not doing a legitimate business. If he is doing a legitimate business, the Bill is in his favour, because it will protect him against the man who is not. It has been said this Bill will exclude goods from this country. It will do nothing of the sort. It has also been said it would interfere with the shipping trade, but I cannot see that it will do so in the least. The only requirement is that the stuff should be marked, and that is not going to add to its weight or bulk. I am certain it is not going to exclude it. The hon. Member who referred to this in his maiden speech made the great mistake of supposing that food was re-exported from this country. It is not, with the exception perhaps of fruit, and that is not dealt with in the Bill. If food were re-exported from this country after being imported, there might have been something in the argument, but it is not. Food sent here is sent for consumption here, and with the exception of certain fruit, largely tropical fruit, it is not re-exported.
Reference has been made to the expense of administration. The expense need be very little more, if any more, than at present, because the machinery for carrying out the provisions of this Bill is already in existence. It does not need the appointment of a vast number of new officials and the setting up of a new organisation. It has been said marking the eggs is expensive, but eggs imported into this country to-day which are 1864 marked are but very few shillings, I believe only two shillings per case of 1,400 or 1,500, more than those which are unmarked. That shows that the cost is, at any rate, not excessive.
It may be of interest to tell the House something of the real importance of the poultry industry in this country, to the consumer, because one of the essentials of food is that it should be fresh when you eat it, and there is every possibility that the food produced in this country will be placed before the consumer in a fresher condition than it would be if it has had to undergo even only a short journey. I have here a number of figures from the agricultural returns for 1923, and Members may be surprised to know that the value of poultry produce produced in this country is greater than the value of the wheat we produce. That shows the volume of production of poultry products in this country, and the importance of them. They are produced very largely, not by the farmer but by the poultry farmer, who in most cases is a smallholder, and very often an ex-service man. I had something to do with the question of small holdings while filling a minor position at the Ministry of Agriculture during the War, and I know the great responsibility which rests on this community to do all it can to assist those smallholders who were placed on the land under the Ministry's schemes. No man in the country works as hard as the smallholder. The only benefit he has as a smallholder is that he is his own master, but he works from morning to night—he and his family—and he works harder than any other individual, and anything we can do to assist him ought to be done, provided it is done legitimately and not at the expense of other people. Poultry production has very largely increased in this country owing to the growth of small holdings. In 1907–8, according to the Ministry's return, the value of poultry products was £5,000,000; by 1923 the figure had risen to £16,000,000, and, as I have told you, that exceeds the value of the wheat grown in this country.
One of the great tests of a Bill is whether it is workable. This Bill is workable. All those items in the Bill such as milk and butter and vegetables which the discussion on last year's Bill showed there might have been some difficulty about have been eliminated, and I 1865 sincerely hope the House will give this Bill a Second Reading and allow it to go upstairs—I do not think it will require many Amendments—and then come down again for Third Beading.
§ Mr. ROYLE
I count it a privilege to have the opportunity of addressing this House for the first time, but I count it a great disadvantage to have to speak after four hours' debate, because I have found all my points dealt with one by one, and I have had sufficient experience of this House to feel there is a mighty waste of time on account of repetition, and I do not want to be guilty of it. While I count it a privilege to speak now, I do not apologise at all, because I want to speak as a butcher, as a retail butcher who will be working in his shop to-night. There has been abundant proof in this Debate that this is, to a certain extent, a Measure of Protection. For whom? Presumably, it is on account of the consumers, but in accordance with the arguments which have been put forward it is actually and deliberately intended to be on account of the agriculturists. I congratulate the poor consumers, about whom so much concern is being shown, on the distinguished backing which this Bill has received. I find the names of two admirals, four colonels, and two baronets, as well as other distinguished Members, appear on the back of the Bill which surely will be proof positive to the consumers that their interests are being safeguarded. We have often been reminded that ours is a nation of shopkeepers. I wish to speak as a shopkeeper, and I wish in the first place to put all the energy that I can into a few words with reference to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley). He made the sweeping statement that the substitution of one class of article for another is rampant in the country. As a trader who does not pretend to put himself on a pedestal, but who knows other traders intimately after a life's experience, I emphatically deny and denounce a broad statement such as that, made without one particle of evidence being produced to substantiate it. Anyone can make a broad statement like that, but even a learned member of the legal profession should not do so without producing evidence.
1866 Much has been said about deceiving the consumer. After my experience I am convinced that the women, who are mainly concerned in this matter as the direct purchasers, know their business too well to be taken in, even by shopkeepers, and the argument that they are being deceived by the shopkeepers is childish in the extreme. There is an old saying, "Once bitten, twice shy." There are many shops; there is very keen competition, and there is no trade in which there is keener competition than the trade to which I have the honour to belong. Hon. Members who make these statements should take a walk round the poorer parts of London and look at the butchers' shops and the prices shown there, and see for themselves whether there is not cut-throat competition in that trade. People are not forced to go a second time to a shop where they have been taken in by the wicked retailer, and people will take good care that they are not taken in twice. We are now working under labelling Order which was brought in when the circumstances were altogether different from those of to-day. People were then registered with particular tradespeople, and a customer could only purchase in one particular shop. There was some reason then for the contention that they should have shown to them, distinctly, which was imported meat and which was not. Things are different to-day. What is the desire of this nation of shopkeepers? Is it to cheat and deceive? No! I submit the purpose and desire of this nation of shopkeepers is to do business. There was a celebrated tradesman of my own town who used to have a great big teapot over the front of his shop by way of an advertisement, and the motto on this teapot was: "The satisfaction of the customer is the safety of the merchant." This may not be a written law, but it is almost a golden rule as far as this particular country, of which we are mighty proud, is concerned.
It surely should be the object of legislation to encourage, not to impede, trade, but if I know anything at all about the spirit of this Bill, its whole purpose is to discourage rather than encourage. May I say a word or two on the details of the Bill, because, after all, as a practical man that is where one wants to size up the position in which the Bill puts us. I want to be very 1867 frank, and to say that paragraph (a), Clause 1, is certainly an improvement on the last Bill, because there we have the fact that imported fresh meat is not mentioned, which is certainly one satisfactory point. But after having said that, I want to submit, earnestly but respectfully, that all the other things are quite unnecessary, so far as the trade is concerned, and they would not in any sense prove useful, but in every sense very irksome and almost impossible to work. It is quite unnecessary that these things should be brought about, because, as I have already said, we are working under the labelling Order brought in during the War, and when we think about meat being marked, frozen and chilled meat is marked to-day, and marked to such an extent and in such an indelible fashion that you cannot get rid of the marks. Immediately the weather begins to soften the meat, you not only have the marks on the meat running through all the portions of it, but you have it over all your premises besides, and there is no getting rid of the marks.
Then, as to the place of origin, it looks to me as though, while we are working in these days, in connection with our particular trade, to give technical knowledge and look to the education, from the business point of view, of the young men coming into the trade, it is certain that we shall have to have a special line for the teaching of geography, because, if the place of origin is to be attached to every joint of meat, they will have to freshen up their geography, or they will be getting imprisoned for wrongly describing the article they are sending out. Let me remind the House that this question of marking is a very large order, because we have to remember that nearly 80 per cent. of the meat consumed in this country is imported, and if it is to be a question of marking—which certainly I do not want—would it not be much easier to mark the 20 per cent. rather than the 80 per cent.?
In regard to the question of delivery, which comes home very closely to us who have to carry these things out, we are told in Sub-section (5) of Clause 2 that if this Bill becomes an Act every piece of meat sent out by delivery must be marked with a label or an invoice, stating the place of origin. To me this is a 1868 complete farce. It is a screaming farce, because all chilled and imported meat carries its own message every time. Immediately it is cut up it begins to soften, and everybody, either by looking at it or touching it, immediately realises that it is not home-killed, because of the condition in which they receive it. Therefore, it is altogether, to my mind, too funny for words. I want to remind the House that delivery is a great convenience, not only to those who live in the bigger houses, but to the working woman who has not the opportunity of getting her own meat, because of the great rush in preparing dinner. This delivery, and the getting ready for delivery, have to be done in not more than three hours during the morning. One can easily contemplate how many mistakes are made during those particular three hours, and, as has already been pointed out, in the process of delivery the wind may blow, the messenger may fail to deliver, or the person receiving it may not take proper care. I have known many an account disputed, simply because an invoice has not been preserved. If that can be done in connection with an account, it can certainly be done in a smaller affair of this kind.
When we come to the question of penalties, there are penalties in this Measure which may arise in connection with a mistake. It is the magistrates who have to decide as to the spirit, as well as the letter, and these penalties are as big as those which some people suffer for manslaughter. They would not apply to limited companies, and when we survey the trade of the country, we should remember that the big bulk of it is in the hands of limited companies. They might go scot-free, but a person in my position, with three small shops, would be responsible for the doings of his assistants in each shop. My reading of it is that the owner is responsible for the doings of his assistants. If that be not so, my point is rather weakened. But surely, in view of the tremendous body of shopkeepers, we ought to look at this matter in rather a different spirit from that in which it has been discussed to-day. We have heard a good deal of late about these being times for the creation of a new spirit, but this new spirit, as far as the trade of the country is concerned, will not be brought about by treating this nation 1869 of shopkeepers as thieves and deceivers, but by expecting the best of them; and my experience proves conclusively that when you expect the best, as a rule you obtain it. As I desire the best for the conduct of my trade, I shall very warmly vote against this Measure.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I am sure hon. Members in all parts of the House will unite with me in congratulating the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken on the valuable contribution which he has made to the Debate. It is a distinct advantage to the House, in relation to this particular discussion, that a new Member with such first-hand knowledge should have been able to contribute his experience. The Second Reading of this Bill has produced a very interesting, though I think hardly such, a hilarious discussion as it did a year ago. There seems to have fallen a deep gloom over the promoters of this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] The three hon. Gentlemen who a year ago were most closely associated with the Measure are no longer with us. I thought that in the speech of the gallant Admiral this afternoon he did not show his usual irresponsible gait. He seemed to be overburdened partly by the responsibility which rested upon his shoulders, and partly by the warning of the fate of his predecessors. Indeed so much was this so that his memory seems to have played him false, because, when I consulted the usual books of reference, I find his memory to-day is not in accordance with them as to his past political evolutions.
We have heard a good deal to-day of the discussions of a year ago. The pro-longer deliberations of the Committee on last year's Bill have been referred to, particularly by the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley). If these proceedings were prolonged, they, at least, have not been unfruitful. In the changed form of the Bill we see the value of the discussions which then took place. This Bill, indeed, is still largely a legislative monstrosity, but it has not so many remarkable features as it had a year ago. There is an attempt, at least, to bring its provisions into some measure of co-relation with sanity. I have no doubt that it has been influenced by the sea experience of the gallant Admiral. It is hardly necessary, 1870 I think, to deal with the details of the Measure. Controversy to-day has been over the eggs. It is true that oatmeal has been introduced. Everybody has admitted that the provisions of this Bill, as it stands now, are altogether nugatory as a protection to the consumer so far as oatmeal is concerned. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite professes to be able to devise a provision that will protect consumers. In the Committee stage last year he did not show the ingenuity necessary for that. We have a provision in regard to imported meat.
The hon. Gentleman who last spoke has reminded the House that there is in operation to-day a Labelling Order so far as meat is concerned, and that in these circumstances no statutory protection is required for the consumer. But we had the interesting confession of the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead that even with this statutory protection there is much fraud in regard to meat and eggs. These confessions were made by the hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite, and by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert). It is suggested that there is a good deal of topsy-turvydom about this Debate. We have had the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton accusing the retail and wholesale trade of this country generally of fraud. On the other hand there has been an hon. Member above the Gangway accusing Government inspectors of being hoodwinked and bribed. So that, on the one hand, we have had the advocates of private enterprise handing over with both hands their arguments to the Socialists as to the vices of the existing system, and the advocates of Socialism admitting the weaknesses and defects of Socialistic organisation. My hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) admits that all men are sinners, a confession upon which there will be general agreement on all sides. I think it is a welcome reminder for us all that even when the millenium of the Socialist state comes, that original sin will still be there. The real case in connection with this Bill, which the promoters have to make out, is that there is a need, in the first place, for it, and that the Bill in its operation will confer a benefit upon the community. The case 1871 put forward is that the consumer requires protection from fraud, and that is the ostensible argument for the Bill.
In support of that there has not been the slightest evidence produced. In the first place, it has not been shown that there is any uprising on the part of the consumers against the fraudulent practices by which they are alleged to be victimised by the evil, designing trader. There is not a tittle of evidence that any substantial fraud is practised. I examined with great care the speeches on the other side, and I listened with close attention to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton, because I was anxious to find some evidence that foreign goods were being passed off on the consumer as British goods, more particularly in regard to eggs. Apart from the statement of an hon. Member opposite that a great majority of the grocers of this country are fraudulent cheats, and the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton that this kind of thing is done on a wholesale scale—statements which were wholly unsupported by evidence—we have had no case made out at all.
When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton said that foreign eggs are sold as British eggs, I asked him for evidence on the point, and what was the nature of the evidence he produced? He said, "I hear from grocers, and they tell me that 2,000,000,000 eggs are imported, and that a large number of them must have been sold as British." That is his evidence. The right hon. Gentleman simply says, "It must have been so." This is a new idea of evidence, and it seemed to be an idea which is common to all the supporters of this Bill that immediately they say it is inevitable the House is expected to accept it as a fact. As no facts have been brought forward, I assume that no facts can be produced.
It is quite true to say that there is a demand for this Bill, and I willingly admit that. Large numbers of farmers and smallholders are anxious to have what they regard as the protection of this Bill. I know that pressure has been brought to bear on individual Members to support this Measure, and many have supported it believing that it is the desire of their 1872 constituents, and that is an unanswerable argument in favour of every such proposal. I do not so interpret the functions of a Member of this House. We have to examine any requests made by our constituents, first of all to ascertain whether the thing asked for is a desirable thing in itself, and, secondly, to ascertain what the effects of granting the request would be upon the community as a whole. I think the great majority of those who have given their assent to the proposals contained in this Bill have not examined them, either in the one aspect or the other.
I will take a case. Is it desirable from the point of view of the poultry farmers of this country? They believe that if these proposals are put into operation that a certain number of foreign eggs will be excluded; this restriction of supply will raise the price of British eggs, and consequently they will be better off by reason of the passing of this Bill. That is the Protectionist argument, and I cannot understand anybody who accepts the Free Trade position agreeing to that argument. I can understand hon. Members opposite, who believe in the virtues of Protection, and who have constantly advocated Protection, but with whom, as a matter of fact, for the moment Protection is suspended as a part of their policy, endeavouring, while their ideal is in cold storage, to get through this House this particular form of Protection. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Apparently, I have attributed to them a cleverness which they would not claim for themselves. If so, I withdraw at once. I would not for a moment be guilty of attributing to them more intelligence than they have displayed. We who are Free Traders do not believe, first of all, that such a proposal will operate in that way, and, secondly, that, if it did, it would be for the advantage of the community as a whole. We believe that the poultry farmers and other agriculturists of this country are not going to receive any benefit from cross-eyed or pseudo-protective measures of this kind. They have in many respects the means of protecting themselves in their own hand. They can mark their own eggs. It is a free country. Nobody prevents them marking them, and, if it be true that the British egg is better than any other egg in the world, surely it is to their advan- 1873 tage to mark that egg and to see that the British housewife gets it every time that she wants it.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Oh, it depends which egg is marked. If you are marking the imported egg you can do it cheaply, but, if you are marking the egg here after the hen has parted with it, then it is going to be more expensive. I leave the hon. and gallant Gentleman acquainted with, the sea to reconcile those statements.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Let us deal with the conditions of the trade as they are, and, to some extent, as the result of this agitation for the marking of eggs. The Danes have started to mark eggs since the Conference to which the hon. and learned Member referred. Forty-six per cent. of the eggs imported into this country come from Denmark, and those eggs are not only marked, but are graded. The result of that marking and grading on the part of Denmark has been that the price of the Danish egg has gone up. Why should not the British poultry farmer do the same thing? Why should he come here and ask for an absurd and ridiculous piece of legislation like this to protect him from a practice—
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
Because the foreigner would mark his eggs British, and there is no protection against that.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Are we to protect ourselves against what is a hypothetical danger? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Yes, it is purely hypothetical.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I want to give the right hon. Gentleman opposite an opportunity. He is going to reply, and he probably will do it as well as the hon. and learned Gentleman, with all deference to him. As a result of this agitation for marking, the Danes have started to mark their eggs. They are obtaining and for a period they have obtained, a better price for their marked eggs than has been obtained for British eggs. That is an inducement to people to prefer Danish eggs. Do other foreigners put a Danish mark on their eggs? They do not, as a matter of fact.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
The hon. Member (Mr. Becker), who sits for Richmond, and who is one of the last survivors of the Anti-Waste party, might be more economical of his interruptions. The whole attitude of the Opposition was revealed in an interruption by the hon. Baronet the Member for Bournemouth (Sir P. Croft). When the fact was mentioned that 2,000,000,000 eggs are brought into this country, he said, "Shame!" They are an injury to this country. An article of food brought in in these quantities, at a price within the reach of the great mass of the people, is to be regarded as a misfortune and a disaster. That is the attitude of the people who would restrict imports and raise prices to the great mass of the people. The great bulk of the people of this country cannot afford English eggs. The only egg they can afford to buy is the foreign egg, and this Bill is designed to limit the supply of foreign eggs and to raise their price. I say, therefore, that it is contrary to the interest of the great mass of the people. The raising of the price was admitted. The right hon. Gentleman who was Minister of Agriculture a year ago then admitted in the Second Reading Debate that it was to raise the price. There you have the whole object disclosed, and, whatever hon. Members opposite may say about the interests that are supporting this Bill and the interests that are opposing it, it is our duty to look at this question, not from the point of view either of one interest or the other, but solely 1875 from the point of view of the great mass of the people. I speak for neither of the interests. So far as I represent in this House any interest, it is the interest of the producer of eggs, and I have been returned here as an opponent of this Bill. I told egg producers exactly how it would operate, and I am here in spite of my opposition to it. I think that if some hon. Members who supported this Bill before had taken the same attitude they might still have been in this House. We have, as I have said, to consider the interest of the consumer, and particularly the poorer consumer. We are still in the midst of a serious industrial depression. There are still hundreds of thousands of men and women out of work in this country, and I say that, under these conditions, this House has no right to pass a Bill, and no section of this House is entitled to promote it, the direct and inevitable effect of which will be to raise the cost of living to such people.
§ Captain FITZR0Y
This has been an exceptional Debate in two ways. In the first place, we have had an unusual number of maiden speeches and very admirable speeches, too, which have shown us the debating powers possessed by many of the new Members. In the second place, I have been a Member of the House for a good many years and I do not remember any occasion on a private Member's Bill of this importance when such absolute indifference has been displayed towards it by the Government of the day. After all, this is a Bill to which great importance is attached by what is still, perhaps, the biggest industry of the country, and it is practically supported by all Members on this side of the House. Yet from first to last we have not had any remarks made by any responsible Minister or any guidance as to the way we should vote; indeed there has been no evidence of what is the Government attitude towards the. Bill. Earlier in the Debate, when there was no representative Minister on the Treasury Bench, the Deputy Leader of the House said, "After all, this is only a private Member's Bill." Is that the view the Government take of the private Member of this House? The private Member is an important individual. He is the force by which the Ministers of the day hold their office, and they can do nothing 1876 without his support. This is by no means the consistent policy of the Government with regard to private Members' Bills. I am in the recollection of the House as to the attitude of the Government the other day with reference to the Rent Restrictions Bill. Did they take no notice of that? Did they attach no importance to it because it was a private Member's Bill? On the contrary, all the forces at their disposal were displayed in giving support to it.
I should have thought no one could have a real and serious objection to the principle of this Bill. I cannot understand why anyone should oppose its principle and object to giving it a Second Reading. No one argues that if it be passed it is going to be the salvation of the agricultural industry. It is only a small Measure which the agricultural industry are asking for. I doubt very much if any policy is, at one stroke, going to be the salvation of the agricultural industry. It is an accumulation of small Measures applied to the advantage of the agricultural industry that in the long run is going to do it good. For these reasons, if for no other, the House ought to support the Second Reading.
What are the objections which have been raised against the Bill? Hon. Members in various parts of the House, and representing different interests, have conjured up possible objections if it becomes law. Let me take them one by one. Of course, the principal one that crops up is our old friend Protection. It seems as though that is a spectre which paralyses hon. Members opposite. It is a sort of skeleton in the cupboard. In connection with any Measure of progress or reform which is proposed this skeleton comes out of the cupboard, and hon. Members opposite see whether there is any Protection in the proposed Measure. They try to look in every corner of a Bill to see whether they can discover something to which they can apply the description of Protection. It is carrying things a bit too far to expect us to believe that a Measure which is entirely framed for protection against fraud, should have anything to do with the old controversy between Free Trade and Protection.
The next objection that is raised is that it is possible that the Bill may increase the price of the commodities which are included in the Bill. It is quite true that the new-laid English or British egg com- 1877 mands a higher price in the market than an egg with no particular description attached to it, as is the case with the Danish egg, which commands a higher price than an undescribed egg coming from some other foreign country. In that case, why should not the British egg have the advantage of any higher price that is going because it can be proved to be a British egg? I do not see why the purveyor of the British egg should not be called upon to mark his eggs as compared with its foreign competitor.
§ Mr. SEXTON
What would the right hon. and gallant Member do with a British-laid egg laid by a foreign hen?
§ Captain FITZROY
I do not intend to deal with that interruption. I wish to be serious. The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle) has referred to the question of fraud. Nobody, so far as I am aware, has accused the general purveyors of eggs of being all fraudulent.
§ Captain FITZROY
Every penal law-is made against the minority. Unfortunately, in almost every industry there are some who are not so honest as others, and we all have to suffer for the fraudulent actions of the minority which make penal laws necessary. For that reason the Bill is brought in. Instead of making the price of eggs dearer, this Bill, if it becomes law, will prevent the fraudulent purveyors of eggs from getting the high price they do now for foreign eggs, which they sell as the English article. To that extent, it will undoubtedly be of great advantage to consumers in this country.
There is one further objection which was raised by the hon. Member for the West Derby Division of Liverpool (Mr. Sidney Jones). He raised the objection that in some mysterious way this would interfere with shipping. He must have based that argument on the assumption that the object of this Bill was to lessen the import of eggs into this country. Nothing could be further from the thoughts of the promoters of this Bill than the desire to restrict imports in any way. That finishes the number of objections which were raised against this Bill. Now as to its advantages. Every 1878 Member, no matter to what party he belong, has constantly urged the promotion of smallholdings in this country as one of the great things for the improvement of agriculture for the maintenance of a large rural population, and for the general welfare of the country.
To enable smallholders to carry on their business successfully you must pass a number of small Measures of this kind to give them, if you like to call it so, the protection which is due to them. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to get those advantages in their calling which we all desire. It is much too serious a question from the agricultural point of view to treat it merely as a matter of levity. The Prime Minister, speaking not long ago, said that you will never be able to do anything for the advantage of agriculture in this country unless you get the urban districts with you. That is a profound truth. You want to get the urban community to take an interest in agricultural affairs. Most hon. Members opposite represent urban communities, but if they wish to do anything to carry out the wishes of the Prime Minister as expressed in that speech, the least they can do is to give the small Measure which agriculturists are asking for to-day and vote for the Second Reading of this Bill.
Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I have no doubt that many hon. Members, though they may have listened to the whole of the Debate, are still in doubt as to what the real intentions of this Bill are. The Mover of the Bill said that it was necessary for the purpose of assisting agriculture. Then the Seconder told us that the object of the Bill was to prevent fraud on the people who buy those commodities. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just replied has told us that this Bill is designed to prevent people by fraud from exploiting the consuming public. That is to say, that those who never failed to support his party in their political escapades are not to be trusted in transacting their ordinary business. In the very next breath he tells us that there is no possibility of prices of eggs being increased as a result of the operation of this Bill, and then he goes on to say that agriculture must be assisted by a series of small measures, if it is to succeed. To that extent I am inclined to agree with him. There is no one panacea for agriculture. 1879 I think that a large number of small items will do for agriculture what no one thing will do.
I would, however, ask the right hon. Gentleman, if this Bill is designed merely to deal with those who are defrauding the general consumer, how comes it that such benefits are to be conferred on agriculture unless there is an increase in the price of the home-produced eggs? What effect will the Bill have on the smallholder unless the price is to be increased? That seems to me to be the only implication to be drawn from the remarks of hon. Members opposite. At present we have many categories of eggs. We have eggs, fresh eggs, new-laid eggs, unfit eggs, and all kinds of eggs. It seems to me that we need to know exactly what kind of eggs we are consuming, even when we are purchasing English eggs. My main point is, what is the real purpose of the Bill? Is it to help agriculture and the smallholder by means of an increase in prices, or is it to ensure
§ to the people that they will get actually what they pay for? It cannot achieve both purposes. It means either that the price of the home-produced eggs must be increased or agriculturists and smallholders can derive no benefit from it. In casting our votes we ought to decide first, whether we believe in the honesty of the British trader, and, secondly, whether the price is to be raised so as to help the agriculturist and the smallholder.
§ Captain BOWYER
Will the hon. Gentleman say whether the Minister of Agriculture is not in favour of this Bill? We have had no speech from the right hon. Gentleman or from his Parliamentary Secretary.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 184; Noes, 158.1881
|Division No. 19.]||AYES.||[4.0 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Duffy, T. Gavan||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Eden, Captain Anthony||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)|
|Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Kay, Sir R. Newbald|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Keens, T.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Kennedy, T.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Becker, Harry||Ferguson, H.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||FitzRoy, Capt. Rt. Hon. Edward A.||Lane-Fox, George R.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Fletcher, Lieut.-Com. R. T. H.||Linfield, F. C.|
|Berry, Sir George||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Blundell, F. N.||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Lord, Walter Greaves-|
|Bonwick, A.||Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John||Loverseed, J. F.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Macfadyen, E.|
|Briscoe, Captain Richard George||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||McLean, Major A.|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Grigg, Lieut.-Col. Sir Edward W. M.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.||Maden, H.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Mansel, Sir Courtenay|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Harland, A.||Marley, James|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hartington, Marquess of||Meller, R. J.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Harvey, C. M. B. (Aberd'n & Kincardne)||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Herbert, Capt. Sidney (Scarborough)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Hill-Wood, Major Sir Samuel||Morden, Colonel Walter Grant|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Moulton, Major Fletcher|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Hobhouse, A. L.||Nesbitt, Robert C.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hoffman, P. C.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Cope, Major William||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Hood, Sir Joseph||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield. C.)||Ormsby-Gore. Hon. William|
|Crittall, V. G.||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Owen, Major G.|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry Page||Howard, Hn. D. (Cumberland, Northrn.)||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)|
|Crooks, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Pease, William Edwin|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Penny, Frederick George|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Huntingfield, Lord||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Dickson, T.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Philipson, Mabel||Simpson, J. Hope||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Rees, Capt. J. T. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Remer, J. R.||Smith-Carrington, Neville W.||Weston, John Wakefield|
|Remnant, Sir James||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Westwood J.|
|Rentoul, G. S.||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.||Williams, A. (York, W. R., Sowerby)|
|Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)||Williams, Maj. A. S. (Kent. Sevenoaks)|
|Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Stanley, Lord||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)||Steel, Samuel Strang||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Ropner, Major L.||Stranger, Innes Harold||Wood, Major Rt. Hon. Edward F. L.|
|Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-||Woodwark, Lieut.-Colonel G. G.|
|Russell-Wells, Sir S. (London Univ.)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Sutcliffe, T.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Sandeman, A. Stewart||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Savery, S. S.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Croydon, S.)||Mr. Lamb and Sir Douglas|
|Seely, Rt. Hon. Maj. Gen. J. E. B. (I. of W.)||Thornton, Maxwell R.||Newton.|
|Shepperson, E. W.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||Hastings, Sir Patrick||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Purcell, A. A.|
|Allen, R. Wilberforce (Leicester, S.)||Haycock, A. W.||Raffety, F. W.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hayday, Arthur||Richards, R.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Hayes, John Henry||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Attles, Major Clement R.||Hemmerde, E. G.||Robertson, T. A.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Robinson, W. E. (Burslem)|
|Baker, W. J.||Henderson, W. W. (Middlesex, Enfld.)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Barclay, R. Noton||Hindle, F.||Royle, C.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hudson, J. H.||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Isaacs, G. A.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Birkett, W. N.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)|
|Black, J. W.||Jewson, Dorothea||Sexton, James|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Sherwood, George Henry|
|Briant, Frank||Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool, W. Derby)||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Simon, E. D. (Manchester, Withingtn.)|
|Brunner, Sir J.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Buckie, J.||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Kedward, R. M.||Snell, Harry|
|Chapple, Dr. William A.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Spence, R.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kirkwood, D.||Spero, Dr. G. E.|
|Church, Major A. G.||Lansbury, George||Stamford, T. W.|
|Clarke, A.||Laverack, F. J.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cluse, W. S.||Law, A.||Sunlight, J.|
|Collins, Patrick (Walsall)||Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Comyns-Carr, A. S.||Leach, W.||Tattersall, J. L.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lessing, E.||Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)|
|Dickie, Captain J. P.||Lindley, F. W.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)|
|Dodds, S. R.||Livingstone, A. M.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Duckworth, John||Lowth, T.||Thurtle, E.|
|Duncan, C.||Lumley, L. R.||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Dunnico, H.||McCrae, Sir George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||M'Entee, V. L.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Egan, W. H.||Mackinder, W.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Viant, S. P.|
|Finney, V. H.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Ward, Lt-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Franklin, L. B.||March, S.||Warne, G. H.|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Meyler, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Middleton, G.||Webb, Lieut.-Cot. Sir H. (Cardiff. E.)|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)||Mills, J. E.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Gates, Percy||Montague, Frederick||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Morse, W. E.||Wignall, James|
|Gillett, George M.||Mosley, Oswald||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Gosling, Harry||Muir, John W.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Murrell, Frank||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Greenall, T.||Naylor, T. E.||Willison, H.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||O'Grady, Captain James||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Groves, T.||Oliver, George Harold||Windsor, Walter|
|Grundy, T. W.||Paling, W.||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Hardie, George D.||Perry, S. F.|
|Harris, John (Hackney, North)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Harris, Percy A.||Phillipps, Vivian||Mr. Hogge and Mr. Broad.|
|Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury)||Pilkington, R. R.|
Bill read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the Whole House."—[Mr. Hogge.]1882
§ The House divided: Ayes, 150; Noes, 176.1885
|Division No. 20.]||AYES.||[4.8 p.m.|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||Hayes, John Henry||Richards, R.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hemmerde, E. G.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Allen, R. Wilberforce (Leicester, S.)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Robertson, T. A.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Henderson, W. W. (Middlesex, Enfld.)||Robinson, W. E. (Burslem)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Hindle, F.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Attlee, Major Clement R.||Hudson, J. H.||Royle, C.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Isaacs, G. A.||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.|
|Baker, W. J.||Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Barclay, R. Noton||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)|
|Batey, Joseph||Jewson, Dorothea||Sexton, James|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Sherwood, George Henry|
|Birkett, W. N.||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Black, J. W.||Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool, W. Derby)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Simon, E. D. (Manchester, Withingtn.)|
|Bonwick, A.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.)||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Brunner, Sir J.||Kay, Sir R. Newbald||Snell, Harry|
|Buckie, J.||Kedward, R. M.||Spence, R.|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Spero, Dr. G. E.|
|Chapple, Dr. William A.||Lansbury, George||Stamford, T. W.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Laverack, F. J.||Stranger, Innes Harold|
|Church, Major A. G.||Law, A.||Sunlight, J.|
|Clarke, A.||Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Collins, Patrick (Walsall)||Leach, W.||Tattersall, J. L.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lessing, E.||Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)|
|Dickie, Captain J. P.||Lindley, F. W.||Thomson, Walter T. (Middlesbro, W.)|
|Duckworth, John||Livingstone, A. M.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Dunnico, H.||Lowth, T.||Thurtle, E.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||McCrae, Sir George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Egan, W. H.||M'Entee, V. L.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Mackinder, W.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Finney, V. H.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Viant, S. P.|
|Franklin, L. B.||Maden, H.||Warne, G. H.|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Mansel, Sir Courtenay||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||March, S.||Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H. (Cardiff, E.)|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)||Meyler, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Middleton, G.||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Gillett, George M.||Mills, J. E.||Wignall, James|
|Gosling, Harry||Morse, W. E.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Mosley, Oswald||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Greenall, T.||Muir, John W.||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Murrell, Frank||Willison, H.|
|Groves, T.||Naylor, T. E.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Grundy, T. W.||O'Grady, Captain James||Windsor, Walter|
|Hardie, George D.||Oliver, George Harold||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Harris, John (Hackney, North)||Paling, W.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Harris, Percy A.||Perry, S. F.||Woodwark, Lieut.-Colonel G. G.|
|Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury)||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Hastings, Sir Patrick||Pilkington, R. R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Pringle, W. M. R.||Mr. Hogge and Mr. Broad.|
|Haycock, A. W.||Raffety, F. W.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Clayton, G. C.||Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Cluse, W. S.||Greene, W. P. Crawford|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L.||Cope, Major William||Guinness, Lieut. Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Crittall, V. G.||Harland, A.|
|Becker, Harry||Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry Page||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Harvey, C. M. B. (Aberd'n & Kincardne)|
|Berry, Sir George||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Dickson, T.||Herbert, Capt. Sidney (Scarborough)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Hill-Wood, Major Sir Samuel|
|Blundell, F. N.||Duffy, T. Gavan||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Eden, Captain Anthony||Hobhouse, A. L.|
|Briscoe, Captain Richard George||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hood, Sir Joseph|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.)|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Howard, Hn. D. (Cumberland, Northrn.)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Ferguson, H.||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||FitzRoy, Capt. Rt. Hon. Edward A.||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Huntingfield, Lord|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Gates, Percy||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W).||George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Keens, T.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John||Kennedy, T.|
|Kindersley, Major G. M.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|King, Capt. Henry Douglas||Owen, Major G.||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Kirkwood, D.||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)||Stanley, Lord|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Pease, William Edwin||Steel, Samuel Strang|
|Lane-Fox, George R.||Penny, Frederick George||Stephen, Campbell|
|Linfield, F. C.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Philipson, Mabel||Sutcliffe, T.|
|Lord, Walter Greaves-||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henlay)|
|Loverseed, J. F.||Rees, Capt. J. T. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Lowe, Sir Francis William||Remer, J. R.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Croydon, S.)|
|Lumley, L. R.||Rentoul, G. S.||Thornton, Maxwell R.|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Tillett, Benjamin|
|McLean, Major A.||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Marley, James||Ropner, Major L.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Meller, R. J.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Westwood, J.|
|Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Russell Wells, Sir S. (London Univ.)||Williams, A. (York, W. R., Sowerby)|
|Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Williams, Maj. A. S. (Kent, Sevenoaks)|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Sandeman, A. Stewart||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Morden, Colonel Walter Grant||Savery, S. S.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Moulton, Major Fletcher||Seely, Rt. Hon. Maj.-Gen. J. E. B. (I. of W.)||Wood, Major Rt. Hon. Edward F. L.|
|Nesbitt, Robert C.||Shepperson, E. W.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Smith-Carrington, Neville W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Mr. Lamb and Sir Douglas|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.||Newton.|
§ Bill committed to a Standing Committee.