§ Mr. HARDIE
Before we proceed further, may I ask for an explanation? One sees that the First Schedule begins as follows:Knives with one or more blades made wholly or partly of steel or iron, other than surgical knives or knives for use in machines.Are only the blades of the knives included here, or are we to take it that the words "steel or iron" apply, not only to the blades, but also to the handles that contain the blades? Will the President of the Board of Trade kindly explain?
§ Sir B. CHADWICK
I may clear the hon. Gentleman's mind at once. The expression " steel" includes any part of the knife, or the whole knife, if it be made of steel.
§ Mr. DALTON
I beg to move, in page 3, column 1, to leave out lines 5 to 8 inclusive.
In rising to move this Amendment, I am glad that the President of the Board of Trade is now going to summon an official of the Treasury to assist us. He has promised that when the Committee come to points relating to Customs duties, he will hand over his own thankless task to the far more competent hands of the Financial Secretary, whose attendance we await. In the absence of the Financial Secretary, I may take up the point raised by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. I understand that this duty, according to his interpretation— although it is not his Department that is going to administer the duty—according to his outside opinion, this duty will be applied to any knife of which either the handle or the blade is made of either iron or steel, regardless of what the rest of the knife is made of. Do I correctly interpret it?
§ Mr. DALTON
The hon. Gentleman is always very lucid. As I understand it, if the handle or the blade is made of either iron or steel the knife is dutiable, so that if the blade be made of iron and the handle is made of tortoiseshell, it is dutiable. Am I correct? [HON. MEMBERS: "GO on."] Hon. Members on the back bench seem to have less con- 1138 fidence in the answers the hon. Gentleman is only too anxious to give than we have. I am asking a perfectly reasonable question arising out of the exceedingly reasonable answer that was given to my previous question, and what I ask is this. If the blade is made either of iron or of steel, and the handle is made neither of iron nor steel, is it dutiable?
§ Mr. DALTON
That is exactly what I thought myself. I am very glad to have the hon. Gentleman's support. We are dealing with the most important of all the classes of objects proposed to be made dutiable under this Schedule and we are still waiting for the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. Were I not moving the Amendment I should be tempted to move to report Progress and ask leave to sit again when the Financial Secretary can be found—when the President of the Board of Trade can produce him. Meanwhile we will continue and hope that when he comes later on a little light may be thrown on the matter. I am glad to see the Parliamentary Secretary is also going to join in the hunt. The articles proposed to have a duty placed upon them under the Schedule are very cheap and nasty imports for the most part, from Germany. [Interruption.] They would not cut the hon. Member's skin, which is unusually thick.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
On a point of Order. Is it in order for an hon. Member to bring dangerous weapons into the House? I do not know what will happen if they fall out with one another. I should like to have them moved. I want to come clown there.
§ Mr. DALTON
I shall observe the ancient rule of the House, and keep the prescribed distance across the floor between myself and the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. H. Williams), who interrupted me just now. An object of this 1139 kind, which is called an artist's palette knife, which is one of the objects scheduled here in Appendix I, page 18, of the White Paper, is going to be dutiable. This is a German article, and it would not be bought by any British artist unless he was very hard up and also did not know his job. In the past these articles have not been bought in competition with the products of Sheffield. These cheap and nasty cutlery products from Germany, of which this article is a specimen, have only been bought by people here who are too poor to buy the Sheffield goods or who do not appreciate the well-known high quality of the Sheffield product. During the past three years, as is shown in the White Paper, the imports of these cheap German cutlery goods have been falling very rapidly. There is really here no case at all of a menace to the Sheffield trade. Take knives in particular. The figures of the imports of knives into this country show that ever since 1922 and right through 1923 and 1924 the imports have been falling. They have fallen from 621,000 dozens in 1922 to 471,000 dozens in 1923 and 448,000 dozens in 1924. The value has fallen from £106,000 in the first year to £86,000 in the second year and to £76,000 in the third year. There is really no danger at all to the Sheffield trade in these imports. They are an entirely different article from that which we consider to be the Sheffield article, and any real competition does not exist.
I have further samples of cheap German products here, which I can show to hon. Members opposite. Here is what is called a putty knife. I am sure that no British operative would think of using a shoddy article of this kind in order to fix putty against panes of glass in any window in this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not"] Because these articles are very inferior. I have been assured by practical business men that these articles would not be looked at by a British employer or a British workman. They are altogether inferior in quality, and their inferiority is shown in the extremely cheap price, about which I am going to say a further word to the Committee. In the application that was made by Sheffield for a protective duty, details were given of the comparative cost of these German knives as compared with British knives made in Sheffield. I will give one example.
1140 Take the German pocket knife with two blades being sold in this country in April, 1925 at 8s. 6d. per dozen. The application of the Sheffield cutlery manufacturers—these particulars are put in by the Sheffield Cutlery Manufacturers Association—shows that their costs in Sheffield in the same year, 19–25, for a dozen pocket knives amounted to 11s 1d. for wages, so that their wages alone were more than the whole cost of a dozen German knives. Materials—these are Sheffield costs—amounted to 4s. 6d. a dozen. Therefore the materials alone Amounted to more than half the cost of a dozen German knives. The Sheffield overhead charges amounted to 5s. 9d. making a total cost of £l 1s. 4d. per dozen Sheffield pocket knives. In addition, the Sheffield manufacturers thought it right to put on a profit of 18 per cent.—they are hard-driven these Sheffield people — amounting to 3s. 6d., making a wholesale selling price of £l 5s. 2d. as against 8s. 6d. for the German product. It is clear from these figures that these are not the same articles at all. The difference, of price between 8s. 6d. and 25s. 2d, is so great that the articles are not comparable. If they were comparable, this Duty of 33⅓ per cent. would be absolutely useless to safeguard the Sheffield cutlery industry, even in the sense in which hon. Members opposite use the words. You cannot safeguard your 18 per cent. profit of the Sheffield manufacturers by a 33⅓ per cent. duty, which would only bring the German knives up to about 11s. as against 25s. 2d. for the British article. One could quote a number of other cases from their own evidence which all point in the same direction. There is another example, that of German knives with two blades described as bolster knives, which probably means that they would just cut through a bolster. We find that the wholesale selling price of the Sheffield product, including again the 1s per cent. profit— [HON. MEMBERS: Gross profits]—which I agree is a very gross; profit, was 25s. l1d. per dozen, whereas the German price was 6s. 6d.
§ Mr. DALTON
Those particulars were not given by the Sheffield Cutlery Manufacturers Association from whose 1141 case for a tariff I am quoting. As I was saying, the wages alone of this kind of knife amounted to 11s. 9d., for the British knife, or nearly twice the total cost of the German knives. Again, the materials in this country cost 4s., or not much less than the total German cost. Taking another example, that of the German knife with two blades and a nail file, the cost is divided up between wages 16s. 9d., material 3s. 4d., overhead charges 7s., making a total cost of £1 7s. 2d. The gross profit, which is even grosser than before, is 20i per cent. or 5s. 7d., making a wholesale selling price per dozen of £l 12s. 9d. What is the German price against that? The wholesale price in England of the German penknife is 12s. 6d., a dozen. That is 4s. 3d., loss than the English wages only. How can it be pretended, with this difference, with a British selling price of 32s. 9d., a dozen, as against a German price of 12s. (id., that this is the price of the same article, or, if it be the price of the same article, that this 33⅓ per cent. Duty-would make any practical difference whatever to the case?
One thing should be borne in mind. The cutlery industry is concentrated in Sheffield. We at least might have supposed that the Committee of Inquiry would have spent some rime in Sheffield investigating on the spot the conditions of the industry. That is what practical business men would have done. But the Committee did not go to Sheffield at all. They undertook, in the early stages of their inquiry, to go to Sheffield, but it seems that the President of the Board of Trade and the Government were in such a hurry that they hustled the Committee to produce a Report before there was time to go to Sheffield. The Committee complied with this pressure, and they are able to give us only hearsay evidence upon the conditions in the Sheffield trade. That in itself is sufficient justification of the Amendment; if the Committee of Inquiry were so negligent of their duty us not to proceed to the one place where the great bulk of these knives are produced that justifies the Amendment. The Committee, in their Report, have, indeed, made very damaging assertions, which, we may hope, are unfounded, about the inefficiency of the Sheffield employers. I submit that it is very unfair to an important body of employers who give 1142 a large volume of employment to the workers that these allegations should be made, about some only of their machinery being of modern type, simply on hearsay and tittle-tattle evidence. We are told in one paragraph of the White Paper that efforts have been made to bring plant and buildings up to date, up to a certain point, but only to the extent of spending £200 per firm per annum upon extensions of buildings and plant, and so on. An hon. Member asked about reserves just now. This figure indicates that either very small reserves have been put by out of the gross profits, or else that the reserves have not been used for their proper purpose—the extension and improvement of business. There has no doubt been depreciation, that is, if we are to take the report of the Committee at its face value.
I appeal to hon. Members opposite who have in their keeping the high reputation of the employers of this country and many of whom are themselves employers of note and importance, to show their resentment at the tittle-tattle evidence brought against the employers of Sheffield. Until the case has been more fully investigated by more business like methods, until we see how far the methods of the industry are efficient, or otherwise, how far these people are entitled to protection find how far improvements in methods would give them more protection than this duty— until all these matters have been properly investigated we are entitled to refer back the whole report and to say that this Committee is not going to take action in such a slender foundation. I urge the Committee to adopt the same procedure as the Government have wisely adopted with regard to wrapping paper. Finding that the case for a duty on wrap-ping paper was so flimsy and so ill-supported, the Government very properly withdrew it—perhaps until next Budget day. In the case of knives the same course should be followed. It is unfair to hon. Members opposite that upon such evidence they should be asked to pronounce in favour of a duty on a commodity which is produced in this country of a quality so much finer than any alleged competitive German imports.
On a point of Order. Are you, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, going to 1143 put the question in such a way as to save subsequent Amendments in relation to these, lines in the Schedule.
I put it to you Sir, that there are two important Amendments concerned which might cover some of the minor Amendments on the next page of the Order Paper. One is the Amendment to insert "or for trade purposes," and the other is the Amendment to leave out the words "with one or more blades." Those words appear to be jargon. A Knife must have one blade or more than one blade or else there is only a handle. For the sake of the English language these words should be omitted.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The next Amendment, which I propose to call after this is that in the name of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman), to insert certain words at the end of line 8. That is not affected by this Amendment.
May I respectfully press the point that the words "one or more blades" have no meaning, and I suggest the Government accept the Amendment to omit them.
§ Mr. BARR
I wish to point out that in regard to knives, testimony is much more emphatic than in regard to any other articles, as to what might be done by the trade itself. I think these words are sufficient on the point:We fear Germany is very much better organised at present to supply that demand than Sheffield is. This situation, we think, is one that can, and should be. rectified.We should not be pressed to impose these duties until we have further knowledge of what can. be done by the trade itself to prevail against this unfair competition as it is held to be. I wish to call attention to the great uncertainty of the evidence in regard to this class of goods in particular. If you take a particular class of knives, the shoe knives, you see there is the greatest conflict of evidence as to the value of Swedish knives. We 1144 are told that they are considered by those who are using them to be far superior even to the home-made article. The reporters themselves comment on the contradictory nature of the evidence, and are driven back to suppose that it is a personal preference, and they are at a loss to know whether more of these knives came from Sweden or from Germany. They seem to think that if a case could have been made out for the larger number coming from Sweden they would have turned down the application altogether. Here you have a large number of experts who cannot or will not get to the bottom of this, and they simply say:In the absence of any separate statistics,… we are bound to assume that the trade in them follows that in the general class of knives to which they belong.So the whole of this tariff is built on a pure assumption, not verified, as they are apparently unable to get the statistics. In the next place, you have all kinds of knives brought in. You have not only the case that might be made out for a tax on knives devoted to luxuries, but you have a tax laid on the very essentials and necessities of the poor. For example, we have table knives, pocket knives, cooks' knives, bread and butter knives, as well as sportsmen's knives, hunting knives, smokers' knives, and champagne knives. I confess to some ignorance of these articles, but perhaps there are those in the Committee who could enlighten us. Then you come into the educational department, with scouts' knives and girl guides' knives, and into the domain of healing, with corn knives and lambs-foot knives.
There is a remarkable thing that I think demands the attention of the Committee. Exemption is made of a certain class of knives, those fixed in machinery or those that may be used for industries in further process. They are left out on the admitted ground that, if they were taxed, these knives which are the instruments of further production, would increase the cost of production and, therefore, be injurious to British trade. I beg to point out that the same arguments apply to a great many of these tools that are used by hand. After all, there is no real distinction between a knife that is part of a machine and a knife that is used by hand. For example, you have butchers' knives, plumbers' knives, farriers' knives, fish gutting and splitting 1145 knives, pruning and grafting knives, and linoleum knives, all used in the production of articles and, by the admission of hon. and right hon. Members opposite, adding to the cost of production. Therefore, on the very ground which is put forward for the exclusion of certain knives, we should hesitate before we include knives at all in this scheme of safeguarding.
As my hon. Friend has pointed out, you are not going to keep out at all the inferior articles. On page 8 of this Report you find that the wholesale price of the German article varied from 7 to 75 per cent. below the cost of manufacture here, and. therefore, the imposition of a duty of 33⅓ per cent. is not going to keep out the German article. It is not going to affect the competition at all, but is only going to raise the price both of the cheap article and of the more costly article. It is said here distinctly that there is considerable evidence that these goods, coming from Germany,belonged to a class altogether inferior to that manufactured in this country … that they did not compete with the English ones, but supplied a market which was not touched by the home-produced articles.Therefore, you are not going to interfere with the competition, which is said to be unfair. You are only going to raise the price of articles all round. One argument more—there has not been an increasing menace here, but rather a diminution of any menace there was. On page 20 of the Report one can follow the ups and downs of imports. In 1922 they amounted to 668,000 dozens, and in 1923 they do not amount to more than two-thirds of that figure. It is true they are slightly up in the present year. The amount already reported in the nine months, if carried through to the 12 months, even then is something like 170,000 dozens less than were imported in 7922. So that there is no real menace at all sufficient to justify the imposition of these duties. On these and other grounds I support this Amendment.
§ Sir B. CHADWICK
I listened with a great deal of interest to both hon. Members who have spoken on this Amendment. They have gone to a good deal of trouble to enumerate the various classes of articles upon which we contemplate putting a duty under this Schedule, and quoted extensive figures, with the 1146 object, I conclude, of getting us not to impose a duty on knives. I am rather inclined to reply by giving my opinion as to why we should impose a duty on knives. In the first place, you have an industry which, in 1913, employed 12,000 people, and now employs a little over 7,000. You have an industry in which, in pre-war days, 90 per cent. of the workers were in the trade unions, and now the trade union leaders complain that the percentage is only 65. You have an industry where in one section alone, that of razor-blade manufacture, the proportion of people unemployed is seven-eighths. I think you will find that, whereas there were 5 per cent. unemployed at the beginning of the war in the cutlery industry, the percentage is now 40. These, therefore are very potent reasons why we should give the duty asked.
§ Sir B. CHADWICK
I am changing the argument, and showing why we should impose a duty. Everyone has been criticising and urging us not to do so, because it will do no good. On the contrary, I think I am justified in replying to the arguments used that we have every reason for imposing a duty.
The hon. Gentleman has made a very interesting speech, but he has given no grounds for the suggested duty on razors and the other things; on these, however, we shall be very glad to meet him. He has not told us anything about points raised earlier. The reason is that he knows nothing about the matter; it is not his Department. I would like to put a few simple questions. A silver fruit-knife does not come under the Bill. No! it is the knife of the poor man, "made partly or wholly of steel!" The words in the Bill seem to me to be just unmeaning jargon. Nobody knows, or at least we have not been told, what articles are to be dutied, and what are not! For instance, take a wooden paper knife, fixed with small steel rivets: is that dutiable? Will the President tell us? Does anybody know? Does anybody care?
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I will tell the hon. and gallant Gentleman. A wooden paper knife would not be included, because it is not included in the cutlery trade.
The Schedule says, "A knife made partly or wholly of steel." It has steel rivets. Will it then be dutiable? [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] It is all very well to shout "No!" to show every sign of dialectical dissent. That is not the point. We know there is no depth of idiocy that the Customs House official cannot arrive at when he is called upon to collect revenue, and he will do his best to see that nothing escapes. Articles will be dutied by the officials of another Department—we remember the eyelashes of dolls and dolls' glass eyes, and the rest of it—over which the Post will have no control, and when these various absurdities are pointed out in the House of Commons we shall be told that the Board of Trade have nothing to do with it. There is also the infinite delay and damage due to examination by the officers. Next I want to say a word as to the unemployed. The Parliamentary Secretary quoted some figures as to employment in this industry. Where does he get those figures? As I understand it, those figures were given by applicants. They had not been tested. Why does he accept them and quote them as if they were official? The Minister of Labour might give us the figures, but will not. Nobody will give official figures. We had the sumo experience about the Solingen figures. The papers which gave those figures were withheld—I go so far as to say withheld because the Committee had got to hurry up and recommend a duty, as the traders had been warned that once a Committee was appointed a duty was inevitable, as the President said earlier in the evening.
We shall read it in the OFFICIAL REPORT in the morning, unless I am mistaken, and then we shall be able to judge. The return of unemployment figures for the years 1024 and 1925 show some degree of unemployment indeed amongst cutlers and scissors makers, but a declining degree of unemployment. Unlike the figures given by the Parliamentary Secretary to- 1148 night, these are official figures. They are not ex parte figures, put in by people hungering for a duty to enable them to exploit consumers. They show that between March, 1924, and September, 1925, there was a decline from 1,100 to 700. At a time when unemployment was growing, these figures show a decline in unemployment both among males and females. I think before we accept what has been said by the Parliamentary Secretary we should ask somebody to say which set of figures is to command the confidence of hon. Members.
As some of the smaller amendments dealing with various classes of knives will not be selected under the powers of the Chair, I should like to say one or two words about them. I am informed by those engaged in the business that there is no competition in table-knives, Es that correct? Is there anybody who knows whether it is correct? People who are trying to buy and sell—iniquitous proceedings, which must be stopped in the interests of employment- tell me there is absolutely no competition with Sheffield in table-knives. The tax on table-knives is one of those Christmas Tuxes which will do more than anything else to make the Government unpopular. People in the country will begin to realise that although the Super-tax payer got something out of the Budget all the small consumers of necessary commodities such as knives are going to be taxed this Christmas. Take the case of machine-knives. Knives that are put in machines are excluded because, as even a tariff reformer realises, it is a bad thing to tax the machinery of industry. What is the difference between a knife that is put into a machine to do a process and a knife that is held in the hand to do the process? I would far rather see a knife in the hands of an operator than in a machine, because the man will have more spiritual consolation in exercising his craft with his own hand than in operating a machine.
I did not catch the interruption of the hen. Member, whose maiden speech in this House we still wait with considerable impatience.
I very much regret that I did not have the pleasure of hearing the three efforts, and I am perfectly certain we shall listen with great pleasure to the hon. Member when he puts his criticism into some coherent form.
That might be developed, because I should like to know that iron and steel knives were used in the Stone Age, No doubt the hon. Member will enlighten us in his speech later on. Take the case of the shoe knife. A great many poor families repair their own boots and shoes, and they have to buy a cheap knife. Why should that not be excluded from the duty? Then there is the knife used by sailors, and why should that be taxed? All you are doing by this duty is simply telling the sailor not to buy his knife in this country, but purchase it in a foreign port, and thus you are driving our trade to other countries because you can buy these articles in a German port, for example, where they would not be taxed. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I thought the argument was that the Germans were pouring into this country a flood of knives. I know there is a great deal of information in the White Paper, but much has been left out. We are all aware that certain evidence was excluded. I would like to refer to a statement made by a merchant to the Committee just to show how damaging these duties are likely to be on the export trade. This merchant buys foreign knives mainly from Germany, and he has to consider the poor people. He sends his goods abroad to South Africa, the West Indies, Australia, and so forth, and, consequently, he is building up our trade with the Dominions. Under these duties how is this merchant going to continue his business? Probably the President of the Board of Trade will reply that if this merchant imports these knives for export he will get a rebate, but that is not satisfactory, because the rebate system in the case of mixed consignments of exports does not work. The firm I have alluded to say;The Customs have a complicated method by which, if the importer will open a ledger account for goods received according to the details of each piece when exported, they can arrange for a Customs officer—who 1150 charges so much per hour—to visit the ware-house and witness the packing of the articles and ensure that the package is placed on the ship and obtain satisfactory evidence that the ship has sailed, and after all that has been done, application for a rebate will be considered.That is the process that has to be undergone by the unhappy man who has tried to carry on an export trade in the most marketable goods with the Dominions, and with foreign buyers of goods.
There is another point in our case. Many of these articles are dutiable when they arrive at the other end. The Dominion sometimes, and sometimes the foreign country, do not charge the duty upon the value of the article free of tax. It is no good the merchant saying: "Here is a consignment of knives coming in; it is true I had 33⅓ per cent., so I am entitled to a rebate." What these countries do is, they ask the price charged for home consumption, including the duty which would be payable, and say what the result is. Canada will charge on a consignment of these knives their own rate of tariff duty on the value of the knife, plus the 33⁓ per cent. which this Government is now imposing.
That is evading the point I am trying to make. Those people are dealing in a large number of articles, including a large number of British articles. They are buying these cheaper German articles because there is a market in Canada for them. Their capacity to supply these articles to their customers is the secret of their success. That is their case. By this, you are imposing upon the Canadian consumer all the percentage, not only on the value of the knife, but all the value as to the duty which is now being imposed and which Canada will not recognise in the least. I hope the hon. and gallant Member for Buckingham (Captain Bowyer) will admit that there is something to be said for their case. It is not any good merely repeating a few words. You have to deal with the difficulties of those people who are carrying on their business. They are dealing partly in foreign goods, but they are dealing largely with British goods, and upon their capacity to maintain that depends the welfare of our export trade. These are considerations which are well worth the attention of the 1151 Committee, and, I hope, may be thought worthy of a reply from the Government and from the only department capable of dealing with Customs and Inland Revenue duties.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I want for a moment to return to the Parliamentary Secretary's reply on the previous Debate. The three things that he submitted in justification for these duties were, first of all, that a large number of people are out of work who previously were employed in the trade; secondly, that there was a smaller number of people to-day in the trade unions than were in the trade unions in 1913; and, thirdly, he said, the imports are great. He felt we ought to put a duty on all kinds of knives. We should like to ask the hon. Gentleman if either he or the President of the Board of Trade will tell the Committee exactly how these workmen are going to be safeguarded when this duty is actually imposed? Let us just take one or two of the examples quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mr. Dalton). He told us that pocket knives were imported at a wholesale price varying from 6s. 6d. per dozen to 8s. 6d. per dozen, that is, at a cost of slightly over 6d. per knife. If the duty be imposed, it brings the cost of the knife to 9d., while the comparable English product, is costing 25s. l1d. per dozen, or 2s. 4d. per knife. Does the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade suggest that when he has merely made the imported knife cost 9d., instead of 6½d., that he is going to pursuade the English purchasers to buy a two-and-fourpenny knife? Unless he can satisfy the Committee that this is the case, then obviously the whole of the arguments submitted in favour of this duty fall to the ground. Unless you can prevent the continued purchase of the imported knife, and improve the sale of the home-made article, it is not going to safeguard the industry at all, and the only thing that is going to happen is that, instead of paying, as we did last year, £76,000 for 400,000 dozen imported knives, we shall be paying £106,000 for £76,000 worth of commodities. That will not safeguard the industry; it will not safeguard the employment of people hitherto employed in producing cutlery; it will merely impose a further burden 1152 on that section of the community which is least able to bear it. Therefore, it seems to me that, whether there are 5,000 or 15,000 people out of work, this proposal is not likely to give work to one extra individual, but is very likely to throw people out of work who to-day are engaged in the export trade in this particular commodity.
I should like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman how ho hopes to safeguard either the work, the number of members of the trade union, the volume of employment, or the volume of the cutlery trade, by means of the imposition of this duty. It may be, as some hon. Members have already suggested, that in certain instances good can result from imposing a duty upon a specific article, but in this case no tangible proof has been given that there will be more employment, that the rade will be safeguarded, or that we are bound to increase the general volume of our cutlery trade. We have been led to believe that there is no competition in table knives, but that there is in other kinds of knives, and in these cases there is simple proof that a 33⅓ per cent. duty will effect no change at all except that the purchaser of the cheaper knife will be compelled to pay somewhat higher prices in future. I think it is due from the right hon. Gentleman that he should tell us by what mental or other process the purchaser of a sixpenny knife is going to be persuaded, when its price becomes 9d., to purchase a 2s. 4d. British-made comparable knife. If he can satisfy a:? that British purchasers are going to do this, it may be that some of us will be disposed to enter the Lobby with him, but, unless he can, we certainly shall not do so.
§ 12 M.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I hope we may take the Division on this Amendment, in accordance with our arrangement, before we adjourn to-night at the time upon which we have agreed. May I very briefly reply to one or two additional points that have been raised? The hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn) is under an illusion if he supposes that what we are here taxing are things other than products of the cutlery industry, and he is also under an illusion in supposing that there will be any duty on articles of small or negligible value. If he will turn to the Second Schedule, 1153 which we shall have an opportunity of discussing to-morrow, he will see that Sub-section (5) of Section 13 of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1915, is there incorporated, giving the Treasury power to exclude articles of small or negligible value. That is the kind of point on which the hon. and gallant Gentleman was trying' to frighten the House.
I do not object to the right hon. Gentleman's reply, because we are all relying upon information supplied, but was this power in force at the time when the absurdities in connection with dolls' eyes occurred?
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
The Chancellor of the Exchequer will give directions, and he will give directions which will be in accordances with the general interest of making these duties work and enabling the trade, to function. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will insist upon saying, when we take a provision in order to make these duties work reasonably, that we shall make them work unreasonably, he can do so, but it is not reasonable to ask the House to accept it when we are taking express power to exclude these articles of email value. As to the question why silver knives are not specifically excluded, it is for the very excellent reason that the present wording already excludes them. They are not articles made in the cutlery trade. Then it WHS said that in some cases the duty might not be high enough. In regard to that I would observe that many people have said, "Be careful that you do not put on too high a duty, because German costs are going to rise." If that be true, then we have taken, really, a very reasonable course in putting on a duty which is not one. which will cover in every case the whole gap
§ that exists. In the case of duties for any form of safeguarding in the interests of both employers and employed in an industry, it will be found that here you have a bigger margin and there a smaller margin; you cannot find a duty which in every case and at every moment will exactly fill the gap, but you can take some figure which is on the whole reasonable. I think that this is a reasonable proposal, which will encourage the English producer to come down a bit—because we want to keep him up to the mark at the same time—and which will give him reasonable encouragement. In many cases the English producer will still be undersold, but that is no reason why we should not try and assist him to compete. To talk about the appeal made by capitalists who are hungering for Protection is, I think, just a little to ignore the evidence given by the trade unions in this trade, as to the pitiful state to which their employment has been brought, If they were hungering for Protection, it was not for the purpose of making profits on shares, but because they were losing heart and hope in this industry, which had been a family industry carried on from father to son, and they realised that, unless some measure of safeguarding were given, to it, there was no real prospect for those who were out of work. I am not saying that hon. Members opposite cannot make some point of criticism that this duty will be insufficient for a purpose like that, and I am not saying that this system is perfect, but it is a practical effort to do a practical thing to assist an old industry, which is very hard pressed, and in which there is considerable unemployment. I hope we may take the Division now—if hon. Members desire a Division on this particular Amendment—in order that we may keep the arrangement made, and we may resume our consideration of the Bill to-morrow.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes. 203; Noes, 83.1157
|Division No. 487.]||AYES.||[12.5 a.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Brassey, Sir Leonard|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. sir James T.||Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive|
|Albery, Irving James||Bonn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Briscoe, Richard George|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool. W. Derby)||Betterton, Henry B.||Brocklebank, C. E. R.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. L.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R. Skipton)||Broun-Lindsay, Major H.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bowyer, Captain G, E. W.||Brown, Brig-Gen. H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Herbert, S. (York, N.R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Hilton, Cecil||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Burman, J. B.||Holt, Captain H. P.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Homan, C. W. J.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnhtm)|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Sandon, Lord|
|Campbell, E. T.||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Savery, S. S.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl.(Renfrew, W)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Jacob, A. E.||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Christle, J. A.||Lamb, J. O.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Lane-Fox, Colonel George R.||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Cope, Major William||Lockar-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Couper, J. B.||Looker, Herbert William||Spender Clay, Colonel H.|
|Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Lougher, L.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Lumley, L. R.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Storry Deans, R.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W, H.|
|Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Davidson, Major-General sir John H.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Macintyre, Ian||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Dixey, A. C.||McLean, Major A.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Drewe, C.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Tinne, J. A.|
|Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Margesson, Capt. D.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Merriman, F. B.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Fielden, E. B.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Fleming, D. P.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Morden, Colonel Walter Grant||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Murchison, C. K.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Gee, Captain R.||Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Wells, S. R.|
|Gilmour, Rt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Nelson, Sir Frank||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|Goff, Sir Park||Neville, R. J.||Williams. A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Grant, J. A.||Nuttall, Ellis||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Oakley, T.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Pennefather, Sir John||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Perring, William George||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Peto, G (Somerset, Frome)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Hanbury, C.||Power, Sir John Cecil||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Harland, A.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Womersley, W. J.|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Preston, William||Wood, E.(Chest'r. Statyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Price, Major C. W. M.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Raine, W.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Rawson, Alfred Cooper||Wragg, Herbert|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Remnant, Sir James|
|Henderson, Capt. R.R.(Oxfd, Henley)||Rentoul, G. S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:—|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Colonel Gibbs and Sir Harry|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Barnston.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Dunnico, H.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)|
|Alexander A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer )||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Ammon Charles George||Fenby, T. D.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Barnes, A.||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)|
|Barr, J.||Gillett, George M.||Kelly, W, T.|
|Batey Joseph||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Kennedy, T.|
|Benn Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Kirkwood, D.|
|Broad F. A.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Lansbury, George|
|Brown, Maj. D.C. (N'thl'd., Hexham)||Groves, T.||Lawson, John James|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Grundy, T. W.||Lee, F.|
|Buchanan G.||Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Lindley, F. W.|
|Cape, Thomas||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Charleton H. C.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Compton, Joseph||Hardie, George D.||Morris, R. H.|
|Crawfurd H. E.||Hayes, John Henry||Murnin, H.|
|Dalton Hugh||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Oliver, George Harold|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Paling, W.|
|Day Colonel Harry||Hirst, G. H.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Duncan, C.||Hirst, W.(Bradford, South)||Potts, John S.|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Wilkinson, Ellen C,|
|Riley, Ben||Stephen, Campbell||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Ritson, J.||Thurtle, E.||William, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Bunciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Tinker, John Joseph||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Saklatvala, Shapurji||Townend, A. E.||Wilson, B. J. (Jarrow)|
|Scurr, John||Varley, Frank B.||Windsor, Walter|
|Sexton, James||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Cot. D. (Rhondda)|
|Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Westwood, J.||Mr. Parkinson and Mr. Warne.|
|Slesser, Sir Henry H.||Whiteley, W.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—[Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister.]
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I do not think the hon. and gallant Member is quite reasonable. The Financial Secretary is here to deal with financial matters. Throughout the whole of these Amendments dealing with Customs and administration he has to be dumb.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
The hon. and gallant Member is really under a complete misapprehension if he assumes that we work in watertight compartments. In the preparation of a Bill of this kind we work hand in hand.
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
I think the right hon. Gentleman is under a slight misapprehension as to our meaning. We are anxious to have information, as to the administration of this Bill. The administration will come under the purview of the Financial Secretary. As an example, I think we may point to the definition of such words as " knives " and "machines," matters which will rest in the hands of the Financial Secretary. On these grounds will he see that the Financial Secretary is here to-morrow?
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
Will it be at all possible to have some indication as to the Amendments we are to discuss to-morrow, so that in view of this break we might have some preparation for the Debate. And in view of the speech which the President of the Board of Trade made just before the last Division, will he tell us for our guidance to-morrow whether, on these various questions of rates of duties and whether tariffs will be imposed in certain industries, any consultations have taken place between the Government and the Committee on Trade and 1158 Industry which has been inquiring into the whole field of British trade and industry for 12 months or more? The Committee ought to know whether the Balfour Committee has been consulted on these questions which are now before the House.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
Yes, I will tell the Committee that at once. The Balfour Committee is engaged in a very general review. Special committees have been appointed to consider these particular questions, and it surely would have been very unreasonable to ask one committee to do over again the work which a Special Committee has been appointed to do.
§ The CHAIRMAN
With regard to the question put to me, I would not like to say now what I may decide to-morrow. But I understand arrangements have been made whereby the Committee stage will be brought to an end at some reasonable hour to-morrow.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I understand such is the arrangement come to. That being so, I should attach a good deal of importance to what the Opposition wish to move, but in any case, I should call the Amendment standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) on line 8. Then I should propose to call the Amendment as to the rates of duty; and there are the last four lines of the cutlery part of the Schedule which were not taken in Committee of Ways and Means, and I should propose to take discussion on them. I do not think that is by any means all.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.