§ (1) During a period of five years beginning on the first day of July, nineteen hundred and twenty-five, a duty of customs equal to thirty-three and one-third per cent. of the value of the goods shall be charged on the importation into Great Britain or Northern Ireland of any of the following goods (that is to say):—
- Lace of cotton, silk, or other fibre, whether made by hand or machine;
- Products (not being solid fabrics) of the machines known as the Leaver's lace machine, the lace curtain machine, the lace net machine, or the circular lace machine;
- Embroidery manufactured on net or any fabric which, or the main part of which, is eliminated before the article reaches its final stage.
§ (2) If any goods chargeable with duty under this section are proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners to be goods brought back into Great Britain or Northern Ireland after having been exported therefrom for the purpose of undergoing any process out of Great Britain or Northern Ireland, the value of the goods for the purposes of this section shall be taken to be their value as ascertained in accordance with the provisions of this Part of this Act after deducting therefrom such amount as is proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners to have been the value of the goods at the time of exportation, together with freight and insurance outwards.
§ (3) If it is proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners that duty has been paid under this section in respect of any goods, and that the goods have not been used in Great Britain or Northern Ireland, a drawback equal to the amount of the duty so paid 6hall be allowed on the goods if exported as merchandise.—[Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister.]
§ Brought up, and read the First and Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be added to the Bill."
I desire to say a few words about this, one of the most important Clauses in the whole of the Finance Bill. I was expecting that the Amendments in the name of hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench would have been moved and discussed. If those Amendments had not been put 314 down, I should certainly have put down Amendments in my own name to the same effect. As they have not been discussed it only remains for us to make our protest on the Question that the Clauses be added to the Bill. A great many points of detail have been raised in connection with this Clause, and I do not want to elaborate them too fully, but there are some to which we have had no answer, and we should like a detailed reply from the President of the Board of Trade.
§ Sir PHILIP PILDITCH
On a point of Order. May I ask, for my own information and that of the Committee, what we are on at the moment?
§ 4.0 P.M.
The first point I would like to raise about this Clause is one of detail. No doubt the President of the Board of Trade will be able to answer it with the assistance of his legal advisers. If hon. Members will look at the Clause, they will see that among the products to be taxed areProducts (not being solid fabrics) of the machines known as the Leaver's lace machine, the lace curtain machine, the lace net machine, or the circular lace machine.This is a technical point which has been put to me by those engaged in the industry, and I should like to refer it to the President of the Board of Trade in order that we may understand clearly before we pass from this Clause how the matter stands. I am told that a great deal of the lace brought in from Switzerland is made on a machine called the Comely machine. Perhaps the President of the Board of Trade will kindly tell me whether the products of that machine, which is not mentioned in the Clause, are or are not to be subject to the tax? I am merely quoting from the technical brief given to me by those interested in the trade, but I am told that it is a single-needle-chain-stitch embroidery-machine, and is in a class of its own, and has no reference whatever to the multiple-needle-machines specified in the report of the Committee. The machine is called the Cornély machine, and I would like to know whether the products of it are included in the dutiable goods named in the Clause.
315 There is a further point which I wish to put, and it is in reference to what are called Swiss curtains. Of course, it may be that hon. Gentlemen opposite will say that these Swiss curtains are foreign products, and that we should naturally desire to tax them in accordance with the general protectionist policy of the; Government, but I am informed by those engaged in the trade there is a peculiarity about the production of these Swiss curtains. The Swiss curtain is manufactured in Switzerland, but it is manufactured on a basis of net provided by Nottingham and on yarns supplied by Lancashire. It is therefore of considerable importance that we should know what the exact effect of this new Clause will be, because, if you are going to shut out these Swiss curtains, you are going to hit the export trade of Lancashire and of Nottingham. Hon. Gentlemen will remember that in that ill-advised adventure in which we taxed fabric gloves, we found that, so far from the tax being popular, it dealt a very severe blow at the yarn trade of Lancashire. We discovered that Lancashire yarn was sent to Saxony to be turned into the fabric gloves which were ultimately imported into this) country, and that in attempting to bolster up the small fabric glove industry, which by the way is in a worse position today than when the duty was instituted, we were doing great harm' to another by no means unimportant trade in the country.
I am told that a case in part materia is provided by these. Swiss curtains. The net itself is an export of this country, and the yarn itself is an export of this country, and all that happens is that these two exports go abroad for the purpose of manufacture by specially skilled people to be received back by us as an imported article. If these facts are correct—and I can only speak on the technical information supplied me—then this is indeed an object lesson in what Protection means. Here in a specific instance we have an illustration of the general case. You cannot strike at the import trade of the country without striking at the export trade of the country. Hon. Gentlemen complain that what we want is more export trade, but if we hamper and diminish our imports it means that we are destroying our export trade. Therefore, hon. Gentlemen are in an illogical position and 316 pursuing a course disastrous to the general trade of the country.
There is a further point which I want to raise. I asked a question at an earlier stage of the Debate as to whether any representations had been made by the Swiss Government in this matter, and I should be very glad if the right hon. Gentleman could tell me. I put the question some time ago, and no doubt he has been able to ascertain the facts, if not from his own Department, at least, from the Foreign Office. What do we hear about the representations of foreign Governments in reference to taxes? We are told that we are here to look after our own trade. That is the general argument. Unfortunately, if we hamper the trade of another country by tariffs, it is possible that a far greater injury may be done to us by them raising tariffs against our goods, and in the long run the result of these experiments in tariffs will be, as all experiments in tariffs must be, merely a diminution of international trade, and, inasmuch as this country, more than any other country, depends upon international trade, an injury to true British interests. If the right hon. Gentleman can tell me whether any representations have been made by the representatives of the Swiss Government, I shall be very grateful.
I am informed that the figures for 1922 of purchases made by the Swiss from this country are as follows: 3,500,000 kilogrammes of cotton yarns valued at 39,000,000 Swiss francs, and nearly 3,000,000 kilogrammes of raw cotton cloth, valued at 28,000,000 Swiss francs. The total figure of British exports to Switzerland of materials used by the Swiss embroidery industry amounts to 67,000,000 Swiss francs. These are facts which bear directly on the duties in question. When we consider that, in addition to this, we are levying new duties upon Swiss watches and in other ways directly aiming our tariffs against the Swiss trade, I think the representatives of Lancashire will do well to inquire as to whether they are well advised to support a tax which may mean a considerable diminution in the value of trade in cotton yarns and in cotton cloth supplied by them to this country for the purposes of the manufactures to which I have referred. I do not know whether they are true or not, but these are the 317 facts supplied to me from authoritative sources. I have not the least doubt that the information comes from those who know, but I cannot give any personal assurance in the matter, because I am merely repeating the information given to me from official and authoritative sources. I should be very glad if the President of the Board of Trade in his reply could tell us whether indeed these injuries are likely to accrue from the result of this duty.
So far I have merely dealt with the duty in its specific trade aspect, but the new Clause has a very much wider and much more important bearing than that. I certainly would not be opposing it again for the third time in the course of these discussions if I did not feel that, if we gave way on this point, then indeed the door would be wide open for the consideration of a considerable general tariff in this country. There is no doubt that, although only a minority of the electors went to the poll in support of Members opposite—the Free Trade majority of votes cast being unmistakeable—in many constituencies Free Traders supported the Government on the strength of the specific pledge given by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is most assidious in his attendance in the House, but I wish he could see his way to be present on one of these occasions in order to answer the questions which we propose to put, because it is really a matter of the value of his pledges. I have not been forward at all in assailing his punctilious observance of any promise that he has made. I remember quite well that he went to the country with disastrous results to his own party in 1923 on a matter of honour, and I have always admired him for it, and it is with great reluctance that I am coming to the conclusion that in this matter he is being over-ridden by those Members of his party, including no doubt the President of the Board of Trade, who are ardent Protectionists, and who are not going to allow any election pledges to stand in the way of the consummation of their desires. The Prime Minister, in speaking of this matter, said it was not his intention to use the Safeguarding of Industries Act—it was then called an Act, and it has now been substituted by a White Paper—as the thin end of the wedge. It was not the thin end of the 318 wedge; that was to say, it was a series of interrogatories to be administered to industries, and unless they were answered in the affirmative after inquiry duties would be refused. When we came to the debates in the House of Commons, when the proposed Safeguarding of Industries Bill was being abandoned, and the White Paper was being substituted, we pointed out that there was this great difference between the White Paper and the Bill, that, where as the Bill was a Statute and the Committee set up under it were required by Statute to fulfil certain conditions, the White Paper was nothing more than obiter dicta of the President of the Board of Trade. He could appoint whom he liked to the Committee, he could give what terms of reference he pleased to the Committee, and he could act as he wished on the report of the Committee, and therefore the safeguards which had been promised by the Prime Minister, and which were in fact provided by the Safeguarding of Industries Act, had disappeared with the abandonment of the statutory scheme and the substitution for it of the scheme of the White Paper. The Prime Minister, in that debate of 17th December last year, said, and it was quite a spontaneous and voluntary statement:—"This procedure is the only avenue by which protection can be obtained by industries in this country."
We further cross-examined both the Prime Minister and the President of the Board of Trade in reference to this matter, and the President of the Board of Trade was extremely specific in answering our questions. The case we made was roughly this: We said that if it was merely a question of a committee and an inquiry, then any industry could come forward and ask for an inquiry, and, under the beneficient æegis of a Protectionist President of the Board of Trade, could secure a duty. I am not entering into the general merits whether an industry could secure a duty or could not. It is not the issue which we are discussing. The issue which we are discussing is what exactly were the limits within which the Prime Minister and President of the Board of Trade proposed to act. We said that any industry under this scheme could secure a duty, and the President of the Board of Trade, in making his reply, answered specifically the points 319 that were put to him. He said in reply to a question of my own:Before the industry can obtain an inqury it has got to show.… that the competition is exceptional, and the rates of imports abnormal. Therefore, it is idle to take one particular item in these conditions which have to be fulfilled, and to say that any industry could fulfil them. The hon. and gallant Gentleman knows perfectly well that the large proportion of industries could not possibly fulfil the first condition, which is the abnormality of imports."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1925; cols. 809–10, Vol. 180.]Later in the Debate, he went on to say that it must be shown that there was an abnormal quantity of imports by comparison with the pre-War figures. What is the case in regard to the Lace Duty? I lay aside altogether that part of the terms of reference which invited the Committee to reaffirm the decision which they had come to in a previous inquiry. That may have been a good derision or a bad decision. It was, at any rate, an unfettered decision, because they were not bound and the Government were not bound to use it as the thin end of the wedge. I take the first part of the terms of reference, which was strictly in accordance with the terms of the White Paper. They were asked:Is it the fact that there is an abnormal quantity of imports in the lace trade compared with the pre-War figure?What do they find? They said, in terms:This condition is not fulfilled.If the condition has not been fulfilled, then we could not recommend a duty. The condition did not particularly concern or bind the Committee, but it most particularly concerned and bound Members of the Government. It bound them in honour to the House and to those who had supported them in the country. The condition was not fulfilled. The figures are very well known. The annual imports now amount to £460,000, as against £1,463,000 before the War. That is to say, the imports of lace have shrunk by about one-third. Moreover, the home market is being enjoyed to a larger extent by the home manufacturers than before the War. They had 96 per cent. of what they had before the War in the home market trade, and the foreigner had only 67 per cent. of what he was enjoying before the War. Therefore, two things 320 emerge, and these are not facts which can be contraverted, one, that the imports from abroad have shrunk by two-thirds, and, secondly, that in the home trade the home manufacturers enjoy 96 per cent. of the pre-War trade, and the foreigner only 67 per cent. of his pre-War trade.
It is surprising in these circumstances that the Government have seen fit to propose this duty. It is a breach of the promise given by the Prime Minister. It is a serious charge, and I would not make it unless the facts were clear. I am not particularly enamoured of charges of breach of faith made across the Floor of the House; but this is a flat breach of faith. If hon. Members opposite deride that suggestion, I would ask them to justify the change, in view of the Prime Minister's promise. You cannot meet an argument which is serious and supported by considerations that cannot be controverted, by a derisive gesture. I assert that this is a flat breach of the Prime Minister's pledge. Apart from that, it means that the whole attitude of the Government has changed. It means that so far from their being bound by the terms of the White Paper, so far from being bound to introduce a duty only when the industry asking for that duty fulfils certain conditions, if we pass this Clause the door is wide open, and there is nothing to stand between this country and a succession of import duties which, in a few years, will make us a country with a high tariff, for certainly 33⅓ per cent. is a high tariff, affecting all our industries. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members opposite say "Hear, hear," because, whatever the pledges given by the Prime Minister at the last election, the vast majority of Members on the benches opposite intend to turn this Free Trade, or this partially Free Trade, country into a Protectionist country.
That is the policy, as far as I understand it now, of the Government. The hon. and gallant Member for the Howdenshire Division of Yorkshire (Lieut.-Colonel Jackson) is one of the silent Members, but not for the same reason that hon. Members opposite are silent, because, so far from accepting orders to maintain silence, he is the man who gives orders for silence. He 321 organises the party. Only a few days ago, addressing an august assembly, the Association of Conservative Clubs, he said he hoped the Government would not flinch for one moment if they felt it right to extend the Safeguarding of Industries Act in all directions that were considered necessary. That is not an irresponsible utterance.
The hon. and gallant Member is opening up a general discussion when he develops his argument away from lace.
I will not go beyond what is absolutely proper and within the terms of the Clause. Apart from the multitude of trade considerations, and the safeguarding of our own overseas trade, which are involved in this Resolution, there is a great major issue in this, and that is the abandonment of the attitude of the Government. The passing of this Clause makes a precedent by which the Government propose, desire to propose, and are advocating tariffs for all other industries. If we do not protest now, what shall we say when iron and steel come forward for their tariffs? It is a case which must be answered. The Prime Minister must tell us now, whether he intends to stand by the spirit and letter of his pledge, or whether that is thrown to the winds, and we are face to face with a Government determined to proceed, stage by stage, in the imposition of a general tariff on the trade of this country.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I think my hon. and gallant Friend has made an unanswerable case for his criticism of the new Clause. It is very significant that the first new Clause in connection with the new Conservative Budget, embodying the new policy of the Government, should be a Protectionist Clause. It is very significant that in the Budget, Clause after Clause introduces the tariff principle. It will not be surprising, if this Government lasts out its natural life, if we have Budgets assuming more and more a Protectionist form. If we accept this precedent, and if one industry, applying to a very small part of the country—Nottingham, South Derbyshire, and some parts of Scotland—is to receive protection in this way, it will be very difficult to resist its extension.
322 I do not know whether hon. Members have studied these two very interesting reports. They are well worth studying, because they attempt to deal in some detail with the position of the lace and embroidery trade in this country. One thing comes out very clearly. Anybody who has any knowledge of the textile trade is aware that the real reason of the depression in the lace trade is not foreign competition, though that has been a factor, but merely the change in fashion. Lace is now being very little used compared with formerly. [An HON. MEMBER: "Currency!"] Currency is a small point. Ladies now, instead of being decked out in lace and embroidery, go to Ascot in artificial silk. Their jumpers and dresses are now knitted of artificial silk, and these garments do not require trimmings with lace. The result is that there is not the same demand for lace and embroidery. We have to face this very important fact, and we have to bear in mind that Nottingham has not kept pace with the times, while in Germany and France a large-amount of attention has been given to the question of design.
A friend of mine took the trouble to make inquiries in Nottingham with respect to the art school, and how much time and money was spent on lace designing. He was surprised to find that although hundreds of thousands of pounds had been spent in Germany in making experiments for the benefit of the lace trade, improving design and studying colour, in Nottingham they had neglected this most important part of the trade. The report points out that when it comes to the quality and durability of the material, the lace made in this country compared with lace made in any part of the world. Obviously, people to-day do not buy lace because of its durability and quality, but because of its design and beauty. The representatives of the lace industry in this House would be doing a far better service to Nottingham and the lace industry if they would stimulate interest in education, design and art, than in asking for an artificial stimulus by means of a tariff.
I want to deal with another side of the question. The Report points out that a very considerable part of the lace industry is the export trade. The home trade on the whole is good. The lace and the textile trade generally is suffering, not because of the depression in the home 323 trade, not because the public is not spending money on clothes—the large dividends of the retail stores prove that not to be the case—but because of the depression in the export trade, due to the contraction of markets, and the difficulty of meeting the competition of France, Germany and the United States of America in neutral markets, and in our Dominions beyond the seas. A great part of the lace which is exported from this country does not go in the form of lace but in the form of made-up garments. Since the War, owing to trade depression, very large sums of money have been invested in the made-up garments trade. A great part of that industry before the War was centred in Paris, Brussels and Vienna, but, largely owing to the high cost of raw materials and other circumstances, and the exchanges, this country has been able to draw its supplies unfettered from the four corners of the globe, and has been able to build up a large garment trade, employing a very large number of men and women, paying good wages, and the industry has proved very profitable. Now the Government is coming along and will tax a very considerable item in the raw material of this industry. The tax on artificial silk and on lace and embroidery will make it more difficult for those who have invested their money in the made-up garment trade to compete successfully with those competitors abroad who have all the prestige of an old established industry and the advantage of being associated directly with the vagaries of fashion.
The President of the Board of Trade may tell us that there need be no worry on that account, because adequate arrangements are made for drawbacks. But when you come to apply for a drawback on one particular item, like a piece of lace or other trimming, it will be found that the labour in filling up the forms and making the return to the Customs will be such that it will be far too expensive and troublesome to make it worth while. By putting this tax on lace, you may be giving a little stimulus to an industry in one part of the country, but you are striking a blow at an industry which is giving a great deal of employment to a large number of people in the East End of London, in Leeds, Birmingham and in other great industrial centres, and it is giving employment in a way that is a 324 considerable help to the families of people who are unemployed.
It has been a marvel to me during the last few years to see the wonderful patience of those who find themselves unemployed for three, four and even five years. It has been a mystery to me how they have been able to keep their homes together on the small amounts which they get from the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and keep their families well-clothed and well-fed. On inquiry I find that it is largely due to the prosperity of the making-up trade. While other industries have become depressed, the garment industry has prospered. It has been enabled to draw its supplies of silk and lace without any interference from the Customs, while its rivals on the Continent of Europe have had all the inconvenience and expense of having to import their requirements through the barriers of the Customs. Whatever the intentions of those who advocate this duty may be, and whatever their desire to help industry, the more the duty is investigated the more it is seen that it is striking a serious blow at a trade employing thousands of men and women at good wages, and providing a very useful method of paying by exports for the imports which we have to bring into this country to keep the State going.
It is a source of wonder to people visiting London to find the large population that exists within a 10-mile radius of the City of London. In what is known as Greater London there are 7,000,000 people employed in various industries, and the figures show that there is no one predominant trade, but, if investigation is made, if the census figures are studied, it will be found that the largest industry in London is connected with textiles. The greater part of the textile trade is centred round St. Paul's Churchyard and Wood Street in big warehouses which are unlike any to be found in any other part of the world. In New York, Paris and Berlin such warehouses are quite unknown. Thousands of people are employed in these big warehouses, merchandising goods drawn from all the manufacturing centres of Europe. They give employment not only to salesmen, clerks, bookkeepers, and all the staff of a warehouse, but also to packers, carmen, case makers, and all sorts of people engaged in useful employment. The fact that the trade is 325 centred round the City of London is due entirely to the fact that London is the freest port in the world.
Goods come into the Port of London without any interference from Customs and people know when they visit London to purchase textiles that they are able to buy in the cheapest market. They can buy their goods from Switzerland, France, Italy and Germany and the stuff is imported free into England and exported without any inconvenience or trouble, without any of the efforts to get drawbacks and the necessity of filling up forms and going through all the difficulties of Customs tariff. It would be quite an education to the President of the Board of Trade to visit some of those City warehouses and see the amount of lace lying on their floors to be sold, not in the home market, not necessarily within the Empire, but in all the various countries of Europe. I think that quite unconsciously the President of the Board of Trade and the Government are striking a death blow at the great merchants of the City of London who have been the foundation of its prosperity, who have built up its wealth and whose names have become household words throughout Europe. I am afraid that as a result of the interference of the Government much of this important trade will be diverted from the City of London to go directly to the markets for which they are ultimately destined, and not only will the warehouses suffer but our shipping industry will suffer, and our dockers will find themselves out of work. Goods coming to London to be classified and sold, and then taken down to our docks and loaded on the ships—
Do I understand the hon. Member to say that all the goods in these warehouses contain lace?
§ Mr. HARRIS
Ladies' hosiery of every class and ladies' underclothing contain lace, and ladies' gloves—I do not say on a large scale. I do not want to pursue the subject. It is sufficient to say that it is an important fact. By this policy of tariffs on the textile industry the Government will handicap our merchants, and destroy this trade which is one of the most important industries of our country.
§ Mr. ARTHUR GREENWOOD
The Clause now before the Committee illus- 326 trates the growing demoralisation of the Government. It will be within the recollection of hon. Members that in 1923 the Conservative party took the pledge as regards Protection—a complete pledge. At last their self-reliance broke down, and they went to the country to be allowed to take small nips under the doctor's orders. This is the second nip, and there are threats of larger nips of a much larger kind being taken in future. The Government have adopted the device of tariffs in two entirely different ways. The tariff on silk is one which will strangle a growing industry. The tariff on lace is proposed to assist what is and what must be a decaying industry. The doctor on this occasion has not said that the nip was necessary to restore the patient. Knowing the growing weakness of the patient, he has just said "let him have a nip," not because it is necessary but because he thought that the patient would like it.
It has been pointed out, time and again, in this House—and we have had no complete answer from the right hon. Gentleman—that the Committee which investigated this subject did not show that this industry was of a kind which the Government had in mind at the beginning of this year when it proposed its safeguarding of industries policy. Moreover, Members who have read the Report will have found that the Committee, without enthusiasm, and because they could not very well say anything else, admit that the industry is reasonably efficient. I wish to suggest that part of the trouble to-day is the fact that the industry is not reasonably efficient. If hon. Members would take the trouble to look up the first edition of the Committee's findings in the Report of 1923, they will find really serious charges against the organisation of the industry on its commercial side, and it is preposterous that an industry, which allowed itself to become out of date and inefficient, should receive the qualified blessing of being reasonably efficient and come to this Committee and ask for special assistance at the expense of other industries and of all other classes of the community.
The lace industry to-day as regards its organisation is very much where the cotton and woollen industries were eighty or ninety years ago, and with this added difficulty, that fashions have changed and 327 the industry has not adapted itself to new circumstances, and here we are being asked to apply a remedy that has nothing whatever to do with the economic difficulties of the industry. It seems to be admitted generally that the difficulties with which the lace industry in this country is faced arise from the state of the exchanges and from a change in fashion. No tariff, even if you make it 100 per cent., is going to have the slightest influence on fashion. Nobody will make me believe that to put a duty on lace will encourage ladies to wear lace, and unless there is a great consumption of lace and a great use of lace the position of the industry must continue to be disastrous. On the ground of fashion the tariff will do nothing. As regards the effect of the collapsed exchanges upon the imports, nobody has ever proved in1 this Committee that the imposition of 33⅓ per cent, will have the slightest effect on the rectification of those exchanges. In other words, the tariff will not deal with that evil.
The two things necessary, even in the present inefficient state of the industry, to put it on its legs are a change in fashion and an improvement in the exchange. If a tariff could effect an improvement in either of these things there could be a case made for it. But unless hon. Members opposite can show that the tariff will assist the industry in either or both of those directions, they will not have in the least established any case for its imposition. I submit that this is unwise legislation. It will only whet the appetites of other industries, and at its very best it can only postpone the ultimate decease of the lace industry. The salvation of the lace industry lies in the adaptation of its resources to newer needs. If it is going to wait for a change in fashion it may have to wait for a very long time. If it is going to wait until the exchanges are rectified and the internal value of the franc approximates to its external value, it will have to wait for a very long time, and this method of fining the consumers of lace articles in order to subsidise the lace industry does not help it, but makes it merely an industry existing by the charity of the mass of the people of the country.
I have listened to most of the Debates on this question, and I have not heard what could be regarded by any inde- 328 pendent body of men as any argument in favour of this duty that carries any amount of conviction. As I said before, the self-reliance of the Government is going from day to day. They have had their nips. The pledge they took so solemnly 18 months ago is going to be torn up and thrown away, and the party is going to make itself and the country intoxicated with Protection.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
This appears to be a very small matter of dealing with a very limited industry not employing a very considerable number of people, and, therefore, it appears as if we were exaggerating the importance of the proposal made by the Government. But no one who looks, not merely at the proposal itself, but at the principle behind it, and to what it is capable of being applied, can fail to realise that this is simply the advance guard of a general tariff. I remember perfectly well when the Prime Minister in the Debate, I think, on the Address, announced for the first time the general outline of the policy of the Government, I got up immediately, and I said, "This is practically the announcement of a general tariff for this country." There is no principle in this Clause which could not be applied to every other industry throughout the country. I pointed that out at the time. There were conditions, then indicated by the Prime Minister, which have not been fulfilled in this particular case. Under the Safeguarding of Industries Act, as was pointed out by my right hon. and learned Friend in his speech the other day, it was necessary you should prove your case in respect of every industry, that, in consequence of the exchanges, goods were dumped into this country at something considerably under cost price, and under conditions which would make it impossible for the industries of this country to compete. But under that Act the remedy was only applicable to the particular country in respect of which the case was made. Under this Clause, having found certain conditions, then the tariff is to be applicable to countries where those conditions do not in the least apply.
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to point out in his reply any industry in this country which could not make a case for a tariff under the con- 329 ditions applicable to the lace industry. What is it the Government are doing? They are reversing the whole constitutional process of this House. The process of this House is, first of all, to introduce a Bill, then to have a Second Reading upon its principle, then to enter into the various Clauses, and then to have a debate on the Third Reading, where you again discuss the general principle. What is their method now of setting up a general tariff? They start with the Clauses. There is no Second Reading; there is no introduction. There is purely a Clause. You begin your process in Committee, and you carry your Bill, not by First Reading, Second Reading, Committee stage, Report, and Third Reading. You carry it by instalments from year to year. You carry two Clauses this year. Next year there will be two or three Clauses carried, and then the third year and so on. By the end of the four or five years, if the Government remain in power, you will find a general tariff carried without the principle of a general tariff ever having been discussed in this House.
It is not merely a departure from the pledge of the Prime Minister. It is a gross departure from the whole principle of Parliamentary Government in this country—a complete departure. This is the introduction of a great new principle, without any discussion of that principle, but merely by a Clause this year, and another Clause next year, and I venture to predict that, by the end of the term of this Government, there will be hardly any industry which will not have made the application, and there will be no industry to which you can either logically or in practice deny what you are granting to the lace industry. You are beginning in a very small way. It is just like the description in that great novel by Ibancz of the first appearance of the German Army. You just see one solitary horse on the horizon, but behind it is the whole army. It is the same here. This is the little solitary horseman patrolling the road, but behind will be the whole legions of the right hon. Gentleman's army, desolating the country and leaving it to others to find reparation. [Interruption.] If he finds as much as I did, I shall be quite satisfied.
The Government cannot, if they assent to this, refuse the same redress, if re- 330 dress it be, to any other industry in this country. Let them point out one. Here in this White Paper the first question that was put—and it is a very vital one —was whether there were any very abnormal conditions. That was supposed to be of the very essence. The whole point was whether, owing to abnormal conditions, there was an exceptional inrush of goods from foreign countries with their debased currencies, with their low conditions of labour, which made it impossible for British industry to defend itself. That is the whole point of the Safeguarding of Industries Act. I am neither defending it, nor abandoning it, because it is to come to an end this year. But it dealt with that situation. What is the point here? That you have the same conditions exactly as you 'had in 1914 before the War. The post-War conditions, which were to justify exceptional legislation with reference to these industries, according to the report of the Board of Trade, do not apply in the least. It simply means that the Government have decided, by instalments, to carry a general tariff in order to avoid a general pledge. That is not quite fair to the electors of this country. I 'have heard the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister at that box say, that at least one million Liberal voters voted for his friends and himself at the last election. I venture to say everyone of them was a Free Trader. Would they have done so if it had been known that the Prime Minister meant by installments, Clause by Clause, year by year, to introduce legislation that in the end would have the effect of a general tariff, and by that means avoid the general pledge he had given, upon the strength of which he got the million votes, without which he would not have been Prime Minister to-day?
This is the beginning of the end of our present fiscal system. I hear that the iron and steel trade is making similar representation. I know I cannot now "discuss the merits of that, but I do want to point out that there is nothing the Government could say in resistance to that claim, after they have incorporated this in the Bill. If the woollen industry were to do it, it could also prove that woollen goods come from France, manufactured by labour working for longer hours, under worse conditions, at lower pay. So could the cotton industry. The tinplate 331 industry in South Wales certainly could do the same thing. There is not an industry in this country that cannot make the same case that the lace industry has made, and once the Government on their authority have carried this thing through the House of Commons, because it is their authority that does it, and the House of Commons ratifies it, and Parliament ratifies it, they cannot refuse it to any other industry. Let there be no mistake. This is just the first Clause in a general tariff for this country, and before the end of this Parliament, I venture to predict the whole fiscal system of this country will have been completely subverted, and turned upside down, and it will have been done by a Government who got into office on a solemn pledge that they would do nothing of the kind.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I do not rise for the purpose of replying to the speeches which have been delivered in this Debate from the other side, or to the arguments which have been advanced in support of the proposals that we are now discussing. Neither do I propose to say anything about the general merits or demerits of this proposal. The subject was very fully discussed three or four days ago, when the views of our party were clearly stated, and they were expressed by our votes in the Division Lobby. I associate myself entirely with what was said a few moments ago by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. A. Greenwood), and also with what has been said by those on the other side of the Gangway who have taken part in this Debate. This proposal is a deliberate abuse of the pledges which secured the return of so many Conservative Members at the last election. As I have said before in the course of our Budget Debates, I cannot understand why the Prime Minister, who has a reputation for being a man of honour, should continue to remain silent under the charges which are being made against him. There can be no doubt whatever that there is no answer to the concluding part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. We had a high duty on silk proposed in this Budget. The Budget had not been introduced more than two or three weeks before we got a second instalment of Protection. All that has happened within a month, 332 and I ask the Committee to remember that when we were discussing the White Paper some months ago, we were told that the method of procedure would be to bring in a new Revenue Bill every time a Committee reported in favour of a duty being made for the protection of an industry. There are a lot of Committees sitting. Applications are coming in, I believe, almost daily to the Board of Trade for further Committees to be set up, and I can well understand what an encouragement this will be to every trade that wants relief to save itself the trouble of keeping its house in order. This is a precedent for all these industries to make similar applications. Other Committees have been sitting and further Revenue Bills will, no doubt, be introduced eventually. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs makes no exaggerated or fantastic anticipation when he says that if this Government remains in office for three or four years it is very likely that we shall have a general tariff in this country. Were the Government returned to power for that? They were not. Every time this question has been submitted to the country it has been defeated by the overwhelming vote of the electorate. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite are not so ignorant of the state of things in this country upon this question as to doubt the fact that if they had the courage now to challenge the verdict of the country upon this matter, the verdict of the country would be what it has been every time the issue has been submitted. This is a mean and contemptible way of trying to get what the country has repeatedly refused to give any Government the power to do. The country knows what the Prime Minister said he would not do. This is Protection by means of the back door.
I am not going to argue the general question. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us repeatedly during the last few weeks that he is relying not on the merits of this proposal but on those servile forces which are behind him. Those same servile forces will carry this proposal into law. Therefore, having made our protest, having stated our objections, we will for the time being be content. But this question will not be settled when this proposal has been placed 333 on the Statute Book by the votes of hon. Members opposite who have betrayed their election pledges. From one point of view the action of the Government might be welcomed, because it shows that the Tory party to-day is the Tory party of the past. It is a party which has no scruples. It uses political power to serve the private and personal and selfish interests of its own friends. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame!"] Yes, it is a shameful thing, and I am very glad to see that there is at least one hon. Member opposite who agrees with me.
I rose for the purpose of asking for information upon a matter which does not appear to be very clear in this Clause. The President of the Board of Trade will remember that when we were discussing this matter some days ago, the question was raised as to whether under the Ways and Means Committee Resolution it would not be possible to put a double tax on an article which contains silk as well as lace, or lace composed partly of artificial silk or real silk. The wording of the Ways and Means Resolution certainly was open to that very commonsense interpretation. But the President of the Board of Trade said that that certainly was not his interpretation, and he gave an undertaking that the matter would be put beyond all doubt. I do not see that he has put the matter beyond doubt in the Clause that is now before us. It is not enough for him to say that there shall not be a double duty. The Clause makes no reference whatever to the other parts of the Budget which imposed duties on silk and artificial silk. It seems to me that these two Clauses in the Finance Bill will be reciprocal, and that under this Clause it will be possible for a duty of 33⅓ per cent. to be levied, and then there will be a Clause empowering a duty to be levied upon imported articles which contain silk. I would like the President of the Board of Trade to make that point clear and to tell us how the possibility of double duty is safeguarded under the terms of this Clause.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister)
Before I come to the controversial aspect of this Clause I will reply to the specific point raised by the last speaker. There are many Clauses on the Order Paper, and if the right hon. Gentleman will look forward to page 898 he will see that there 334 is a proviso to be proposed to Schedule 2, page 21, line 12, at the end to insert the wordsWhere any article chargeable under this Schedule with a duty equal to a percentage of the value of the article is also chargeable with the duty on lace imposed by this Act the value of the lace in the article shall be excluded in computing the value of the article for the purpose of the duty under this Schedule, and where any article chargeable with duty under this Schedule as a tissue is also chargeable with the duty on lace imposed by this Act, the duty under this Schedule shall not be charged except in so far as the amount thereof exceeds the amount of the lace duty.I am advised to deal with the matter in that way, and I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that that carries out the proviso which I moved yesterday to the Financial Resolution. The Amendment referred to can be discussed when we come to the Schedule. The hon. and gallant Member for Leith Burghs (Captain W. Benn), who opened this Debate, raised questions both particular and general. I will deal with his particular points first. He asked me a question about the Cornély machine. The products of that machine will be dutiable in so far as they are lace or embroidery which is dutiable under the latter part of the Clause. The latter sentence with regard to the products of particular named machines, I am advised, does not reduce the scope of the general provision that lace of cotton, silk or other fibre should be subject to duty. The Cornély machine, I understand, does in fact produce a lace which is of the same nature as the lace and embroidery which is intended to be safeguarded under the provisions of this Clause, and so far as material of that kind is produced on the Cornély or any other machine it will be dutiable under the general words of the Clause. The hon. and gallant Gentleman next raised an argument about Swiss curtains, and said that if a duty were imposed upon these it would shut out Nottingham lace-net from Switzerland and also Lancashire yarn. That is an old argument of his which has been proved fallacious over and over again. The hon. and gallant Member will remember that he advanced that argument about yarn on a previous occasion. The only disadvantage of that argument was that what he foretold did not happen. In the case he cited he 335 prophesied that fine counts of yarn would suffer. In the event they proved the most prosperous section of the cotton trade.
There are really two complete answers to his arguments. If these curtains are in future made in Nottingham instead of in Switzerland, the Nottingham net will be used in Nottingham instead of being used in Switzerland, and the Lancashire yarn will be used in Nottingham instead of in Switzerland, and it will be no disadvantage to the Lancashire spinner or the Nottingham net maker if the finishing process of his product is done in this country rather than in a foreign country. There is a further answer to the argument of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, to be found in the second Sub-section of this Clause, which provides that where an article which is dutiable is exported in order to undergo in a foreign country a further process, and is then reimported into this country, it will bear the duty only upon the added value of that further process. If Nottingham net is purchased, worked upon in Switzerland and reimported to this country, the only duty which will be chargeable will be the duty on the added value. The hon. and gallant Member's argument on that point is completely met.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman asked "Is it a fact that representations have been made to us by the Swiss Government?" Yes, it is a fact. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman will, apparently, never appreciate something which foreign Governments have no difficulty in appreciating, and that is, that in matters of this kind we regard it as our duty to consider our own people first. That is an argument which no foreigner has ever had the least difficulty in understanding, for the simple reason that he always follows it in practice. What the foreigner cannot understand is the perpetual attitude of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, who is always prepared to sacrifice the interests of his own nationals for those of foreign countries.
Since the right hon. Gentleman has seen fit to make those foolish and offensive observations, will he deal with the question of the imports, of some value, to Switzerland?
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I will deal with all the points which the hon. and 336 gallant Gentleman has made. His suggestion has always struck me as remarkable. He says you must always take any attacks made upon you lying down, for fear that something worse should happen to you. That argument is unintelligible. Foreign countries will continue to buy exactly where it suits them to buy. There may be many arguments in favour of Free Trade or in favour of Protection, but I do not think that anyone would advance the argument that Protection was wrong because it gave you a weapon. The argument has been that in spite of that advantage—undoubtedly it is an advantage—there may be many other reasons which make protection wrong. I prefer to leave that argument for the moment. What is perfectly certain is that you are not going to make your own bargaining power with foreign countries less because you have a certain number of duties. If foreign countries find it extremely profitable to trade with us they are certainly not going to cut off their noses to spite their faces because we in one particular do what they do in a very large number of instances. Nor are the Swiss Government the least likely to be shocked at what is being done. When the hon. and gallant Member reads the earlier report of the Committee he will find that the Swiss Government have actually gone further and subsidised their own lace trade where they found it in their interest to do so. Therefore I think they will experience a great deal less difficulty than the hon. and gallant Gentleman in accepting what we are doing on this occasion. The hon. Member for Nelson (Mr. A. Greenwood) went on to say that the lace industry was inefficient, that it took no trouble in training, in studying new designs and so forth. Again I take the report of the Committee rather than the testimony of the hon. Member. In their earlier report in paragraph 44 they say:We were glad to learn also that the Federation of Lace and Embroidery Employers' Associations is working with the school of art and University College at Nottingham to co-ordinate the instruction in the manufacture and sale of lace given at those centres with the needs of the industry. We may say that during the whole course of our inquiry there have been no criticisms levelled against the technique and durability of British laces and it is clear that the technical equipment and potentialities of the Nottingham lace industry reach a high standard.
§ Mr. A. GREENWOOD
I have not mentioned that matter. I referred specifically to commercial organisations. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will look a little further into the Report.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I beg the hon. Member's pardon. It was the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. P. Harris) who made the reference.
§ Mr. HARRIS
May I make my point clear. I desire to make it plain that Nottingham technique and the durability of the lace are perfect. It is in design where they fail, and it was to artistic development that I was referring.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
That is exactly what is dealt with in the earlier part of the passage which I have read out. Hon. Members opposite may attack this proposal on the broad grounds of Free Trade as they will, but it is a little unfair upon an industry which is struggling against such difficulties and which has shown both efficiency and enterprise, that these comments should be made upon its designs and the energy which it has put into its business, and I think hon. Members might find better occupation than running down the industry in this way. Not only is the industry to be prevented by them from getting any form of safeguarding, not only is it to be left free to face every wave of competition, however unfair, but it is also to be advertised to the world by hon. Gentlemen opposite as inefficient, inartistic and out of date. Another hon. Member opposite went on to give a long description of the industry, with which a good many others are acquainted, including the Committee who heard a great deal of evidence, and he said the entrepôt trade was going to be seriously prejudiced by this proposal. The Committee went into that question at their previous inquiry, and also at their last inquiry, and they found as a fact that there was no risk of that happening—in fact, that there is less risk of that in this than in any other industry you could take, for this excellent reason that five-sixths or more of the entrepôt trade is done through bills of lading, and the process is of the simplest. A bond is entered into and the goods passed through on the bill of lading; the bond is cancelled at the port of exit, and no duty 338 is paid at any time; and that applies to five-sixths of this business. With regard to the balance of the trade, the goods are either taken into a bonded warehouse and dealt with there, or, if they are brought out of bond and subsequently exported, a drawback will be claimed under the provision made by this Clause. As a matter of fact, in lace there is always a serial number to every design, and therefore it is singularly easy to follow up a particular entry and claim the drawback. It has also been said that it is absurd to put on this duty because this industry depends in large measure upon its export trade, and you would be doing no good to the export trade. That is one of the things into which the Committee has gone, and they are at some pains to point out thatthe position of the industry is such that few firms have the capital to embark upon the necessary expenditure and in a depressed industry such as lace it is practically impossible to attract fresh capital at present. There is no doubt in our minds, however, that given greater security of the home market Nottingham firms will be able to reduce their overhead charges and should thus compete more successfully in the export trade which was and still is the main support of the industry. The same remarks with regard to the difficulties to be faced apply to the embroidery section of the industry.In so finding the Committee are only finding what they consider to be a fact, having heard all the evidence, and they are carrying out the admirable principle enunciated by the Chief Priest of the Free Trade Doctrine when he said:You cannot do an export business without home trade. There is not the slightest doubt that without the solid basis of home consumption your export trade would simply be a flower without any stem or root. If you allow the home trade to be cut away the export trade will follow."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th June, 1921; col. 2275, Vol. 143.]The right hon. baronet the Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) has asserted that as being one of the great fundamental principles of Free Traders from Adam Smith downwards, on many occasions. Therefore, it does not rest with his followers or pupils to repudiate the pure milk of that gospel at this stage, least of all when they have welcomed him back to the fold. The lost leader has returned, but his doctrine is still sound and in the line of direct inspiration.
339 I come to the mare general but no better established charge made by various speakers, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), that this was the road to a general tariff. The right hon. Gentleman said that he had made such an assertion as soon as he heard the Prime Minister's speech in this House either during the Debate on the Address or during the Debate on the safeguarding proposals. As a matter of fact, he and his colleague, the Earl of Oxford, said it a great deal earlier. They said it all through the last general election and before the last general election. When the Prime Minister made a speech in the Albert Hall, in which he said that in this safeguarding Measure or analagous Measures we held ourselves free to safeguard any industry which was being attacked or menaced by unfair foreign competition, the right hon. Gentleman and his colleague leaps into the breach.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE indicated dissent.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I made a most careful note at the time of the eloquent speeches by the Earl of Oxford and I am sure my right hon. Friend does not dissociate himself from them.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
What he said to-day was that we are doing something new and unexpected. What he said all through the election was that this could be done within the Prime Minister's pledge. The right hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. He cannot charge the Prime Minister with breach of faith for doing something which he himself during the election said was going to be done.
§ Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT
Is it not the fact that on the first occasion the Prime Minister addressed the party as Leader after the General Election he specifically said at the Hotel Cecil that this was going to be the policy of the party whatever else might be decided upon
Was not that statement made with the full knowledge of the pledges given by right hon. Gentlemen opposite?
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I am prepared to leave it to this House and the country to judge as to the pledges given by my leader and by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, but there cannot be anything in this matter to cause such grave indignation as hon. Members profess. As a matter of fact, I do not think the right hon. Gentleman really believes all this talk about this being the avenue to a general tariff. All I can say is he has not carried his instructions very far, because I observe that the gentleman who is now contesting Oldham in the Liberal interest, Mr. Wiggin, says quite frankly and perfectly truly that he does not think a tax on lace will be a breach of the Prime Minister's pledge, as the Prime Minister said he would use the Safeguarding of Industries Act. That shows that even when faced with an election the right hon. Gentleman's recruits do not take the exaggerated view which he has taken, and, moreover, it shows that Lancashire is not so terrified of the prospect of what we are now proposing. The only argument on which hon. Members have been able to found anything upon has been in regard to the question of abnormality. In the speech which I made in this House I said I was not asking the House to bind itself to a formula and still less to the construction of a formula. What I said was that we were going to ask a number of questions which would be answered by the Committee, and then the House would decide upon the merits. I am by no means sure that if you take a reasonable definition of the word "abnormal" the imports are not abnormal. The imports are smaller to-day than before the War, as everybody knows, but the industry itself has enormously contracted, and the Committee say that they cannot tell whether the ratio to production is g eater or less.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
There is very little evidence as to what the volume of production is in relation to the imports, and the imports are steadily rising at the present time.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I think the Committee definitely found in so many words on this point. They say:We have arrived at the conclusion that imported laces are not being retained for 341 consumption in the United Kingdom in quantities which can be described as abnormal.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I quite agree, but their test of abnormality is the relation of the imports to the volume which came in before the War. I do not think you can possibly take that test, and the right hon. Gentleman, if he takes that test and takes the volume of pre-War imports on all occasions, will find himself in a very difficult position in following that argument. If he insists on applying it in cases of industries where the production has contracted, he must equally apply it in cases where the production has expanded, and it might well be that the imports in an industry which has greatly expanded were more in volume than they were before the War, although quite obviously not abnormal. If he accepts the volume of pre-War imports as the test in one case, he has to accept it equally in the case of the industry which is expanding.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
Certainly. They say they do not think the amount is abnormal, but I will put another point to the right hon. Gentleman. I have always maintained that what the House requires are the facts. Even assuming, against myself, that of all the questions asked, the Committee find against this industry upon one question, and for this industry upon the five or six other questions, the right hon. Gentleman says, "If that is so, however strong the case which is made out on all the other heads, you are absolutely precluded from proposing a duty to the House." Let him take the converse case. Supposing you had a case where the Committee answered all the questions in the affirmative, would he then say that we and all parties in this House were bound to agree to a duty in all circumstances? You must not put one construction upon it in one case, and refuse to accept it in the other. I am prepared to stand in this case upon the perfectly simple ground which I have stated throughout, that you refer the facts to a Committee to find, and, having referred those facts to a Committee, you then bring the facts to the House, and you 342 either propose a duty or you do not, and then the House in its regular procedure is free to vote. The hon. Member for Nelson (Mr. A. Greenwood) said that this is an industry which is not of a kind which you ought to protect. Again let us see what the Committee find with regard to that. They say:Unemployment in the lace industry is due to the combination of a number of causes. Anyone of these would be serious alone. The cumulative effect appears to be producing a psychological reaction in the Nottingham lace industry which renders the sense of depression still more acute, and the consequences may be nothing short of disastrous. We feel that the industry is drifting into a position from which recovery will be impossible.If that is not a condition in which the lace industry is entitled to assistance, then, I am bound to say, I do not know what is. The right hon. Gentleman said that any industry could come in. Does he really think the position is so serious in every industry in this country that a Committee would find as a fact that the case was as grave as that of the Nottingham lace industry? If he does, then I think he should reconsider many of his previously expressed opinions. We were told—and I am bound to say that I found it difficult to follow—that we were reversing the constitutional process of this House by the action which we were taking. I should have thought we were doing exactly the opposite. I should have thought we were doing just the very thing which was strictly constitutional in introducing this duty in this way. The constitutional procedure of this House is to deal with duties in a Finance Bill, and that is exactly what we are doing, founding our Clause on a Ways and Means Resolution. If one were to search the records in the OFFICIAL REPORT of what were much greater innovations, such as the Land Taxes in the Budget of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, one might find that that was the way in which a very large number of duties—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I should like to put in a few words on the point that the right hon. Gentleman was making.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I quite agree, Mr. Hope, and I will simply leave it at this, if I may, that, as long as there have been Finance Bills in this House, they have been the recognised method of imposing taxes, and that is the procedure which we are adopting to-day. With regard to pledges, so far from breaking any pledge by the introduction of this duty, in face of the facts found by that Committee, not once but twice, in face of the pledge which the Prime Minister gave, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) said, when he re-assumed the leadership of his party—
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
—a pledge reiterated throughout the whole country over and over again during the whole time we were in opposition, and made abundantly plain in his election speeches and address at the last election, so far from breaking pledges, if we did not proceed with this proposal at the present time we should indeed be breaking a pledge.
§ Mr. VARLEY
I intervene only in order to correct an impression which, I feel, was created when this matter was under discussion a week ago. I am not going to argue the merits of Protection or Free Trade, but simply to say that there seemed to be, when the Vote was taken a week ago, an idea that there was an overwhelming desire in the City and County of Nottingham for some form of Protection for the lace trade. I want to say that that is very far from being the truth, and that when the question was one of Protection versus Free Trade, in 1923, the Division of East Nottingham sent a Free Trader to this House, and the present hon. Member for East Nottingham (Mr. Brocklebank) knows that, but for the intervention of a Communist, he would not now be here to voice the demands of a considerable minority for Protection in this trade. The same remark applies with regard to the Central Division. At the 1923 election, when there was a clear-cut issue, the electorate of the Central Division sent a Free Trader to this House. With regard to the county, I understand that I had the dubious distinction, from their point of view, of being the only representative from the City and County of Nottingham who did 344 not support the Measure now before the House. I contend that, in so doing, I was following what would be the wish of by far the largest majority in the constituency.
I wonder if those gentlemen who put the claims of the trade have ever heard of the fact that there are in the City of Nottingham at least 6,000 colliers? It is fair to assume that these, with their dependents, form a larger part of the population of Nottingham than do the lace workers at this time of day, and, if that is not true, there are in the immediate vicinity 50,000 people engaged in the coal trade, whose very livelihood is dependent on the maintenance of the largest volume of all forms of export trade which they can possibly get. That is illustrated by the fact that in the Humber ports, in 1924, there was a drop of 46 per cent. as compared with the export of coal in 1913, and in the Humber ports Nottingham coal is from time to time exported. I want to assure the hon. Members from the City and County of Nottingham that they cannot, with any degree of certainty, say that when they are representing the views of the Nottingham lace trade they are by any means representing the views of the majority of their constituents. Nottingham is not only in coal, but in bicycles, in hosiery, in a hundred and one things. It is becoming more and more dependent on export trade, and I consider that they are doing a very great disservice indeed in taking the action they are now taking. I wanted just to put in this word of protest, that there may be in the Committee a correct idea of the fact that the City and County of Nottingham are no more Protectionist now than they were at the 1923 election, when they gave a very definite refusal to those who espoused Protection.
§ Mr. SPENCER
I have listened to a very interesting speech by my colleague, the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Varley). We are both associated with the same miners' association, and I venture to make this remark to him, and to any other hon. Member, that if foreign coal was coming into this country as lace is coming into this country, he would be standing up in this House for Protection. The real test with regard to these things is: How far is it hitting you individually? So far as the mining element are concerned, they are certainly not hit by the 345 lace coming in, and I have not the least doubt that if a plebiscite were taken upon the broad issue of Free Trade, especially when the question of foodstuffs is involved, the mining element would immediately vote for Free Trade, but it is very questionable whether the miners of this country, if they were given an opportunity of voting upon each individual trade, would give an unqualified assent to Free Trade in every individual case. So far as the lace trade is concerned, I have listened with some degree of amazement, both to Members on my side and to Members below the Gangway. As far as I can read this Report, the summary, which has never been touched upon, I believe, while this Debate has been proceeding, of the 1923 Report, which is given in this Report, is conclusive so far as the representatives of the Committee at that time were concerned; and, after giving a summary of their own Report, in which they definitely say that the lace trade is being hit by foreign competition, they wind up by saying:We do not find that the conditions have substantially altered.I have said before that this is undoubtedly one of the most peculiar Reports ever issued to this House, because it is possible for Members on either side of the House, to whichever school of thought they belong, to make out a case based upon this Report. I admit that very frankly, but, reading through it very carefully, and basing my remarks, not upon this Report alone, but upon the summary of the 1923 Report, I think it can be stated that the members of the Committee were of opinion that the lace trade was being hit by foreign competition, and foreign competition was being strengthened by reason of the fact of the adverse exchanges, so far as this country was concerned.
We must admit one or two things. In the first place, we have to admit that there has been a general decline in the world trade, associated with intensified competition, and the competition has intensified in this country, so far as the lace trade is concerned, by reason of the fact that undoubtedly—and this cannot be denied—the workers in France and Belgium are getting a less wage than the workers in this country are getting. If I am told, as a labourer, as a man standing for Labour, that under no con- 346 ditions am I to build up a wall of Protection against sweated labour of any kind, I am not going to subscribe to such a doctrine. I do not say this is the best course universally to adopt, but I am certain of this, that there are Members associated with me upon these benches who would say to the country which was sending manufactured goods into this country, "Unless those goods are manufactured under conditions approximating to the conditions, and paid for by wages approximating to the wages, which prevail in this country, we will not merely put a tariff against them, but we will prohibit them coming in until you give your workmen conditions equal to those obtaining here." That is what a good many of us on these benches are beginning to feel. What other Hon. Members do does not affect me. I am stating, so far as I am concerned, what my position is, and what is the position, the ever-growing position, of a good many Labour men upon these benches, that we will not have any kind of goods coming in made under conditions that are going to sweep away the workers of this country.
When we were discussing this question the other night someone intervened and said—I think it was the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson) who sits below me—that we were going to make it harder for the workpeople to buy curtains for lace and things of that character. Let me say to her, and to those who are sitting here on these benches, that if the lace trade declines during the next five years as it has declined in the last two years there will be no lace trade left in the country. There were 27,000 lace hands in 1921–22. There are 20,000 to-day. If it goes on at that rate in less than five years we will have no lace trade. One by one the factories are shutting down. Men and women associated with the lace trade have been turned upon the streets. If we have no remedy whatever in circumstances of this character, then it is going to be a very bad day indeed for the workers of the country. It would mean eventually when you have shut down the lace trade of this country, as must inevitably happen at the present rate, if it is subject to unfair competition by reason of cheap labour in other countries that as soon as the other countries have killed the trade here, and we want to buy lace for curtains, or 347 for any other object, then we shall have to go to their market, and pay, if we needed the article, the really prohibitive prices which they would impose upon us. Instead of us having reasonable competition—which we would all like to see—instead of the goods coming in as they should from where there is something like equal conditions, we should find that when the foreigner could impose upon us his financial point of view he would have no qualms of conscience in doing so; of imposing that burden upon us. I have been constrained, as I said on the first occasion that I made a speech upon this subject, to the view I hold because I am immediately associated with people, living around my very house, who have done no work, in some instances, for two or three years, and so far as they can see there is no hope for them. I am associating with gentlemen in Nottingham, who five or six years ago had a fair competence, and were, in a business sense, in something like a reasonable flourishing condition; to-day little stands between them and bankruptcy. The only thing that stands between them and bankruptcy, in some instances at all events, is the fact that they have been good customers to the banks, and the banks are holding out so long as they possibly can to keep their businesses going. If the banks stopped all credit to-morrow it would be a very bad thing indeed for many in the lace trade in Nottingham. I am not ashamed, under these circumstances, to say that If the vote is taken now, or at any time, I will give my vote under these circumstances to try to preserve the lace trade in the County of Nottingham, both for the masters and the men.
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Broxstowe (Mr. Spencer) has made a very illuminating speech, which has, I feel sure, created a great deal of sympathy among the out-and-out Protectionists here. He began his speech with the proposition that the special case of the Nottingham lace trade was one which, he thought, made out a case for Protection. He did not, however, get very far before it appeared the real reason why the hon. Gentleman thinks that the Nottingham lace trade should get Protection is a reason which can be put forward by Protectionists, with great sincerity, for Protection 348 generally. There was nothing whatever in the general proposition which the hon. Gentleman put forward—of course, he was quite within his rights in doing so— which was purely limited to the Nottingham lace trade, though he was speaking, first of all, and found it possible to adopt Protectionist views in regard to a local industry, with some of the local circumstances of which he, very naturally, had special acquaintance. I make no complaint of that, because, of course, the Members of the Labour party are perfectly entitled to proclaim themselves Protectionists. Whether such proclamations are received with quite the same enthusiasm by all their leaders as by the Protectionists on the opposite side of the House, I do not know. At any rate, no Member of the Labour party at the last election made a pledge that if elected he would not make a speech and do his best to fasten a piece of Protection on the country. So the hon. Gentleman is entirely within his rights.
The position, however, of the people on the Government Benches is quite different. They have undertaken not to take a particular course. Nothing was more striking in the speech of the President of the Board of Trade than this: he spent a certain portion of his time in dealing with what I might perhaps call some of the technical points which have been raised, and which it was quite proper for him to deal with. He spent another portion of his time in advancing a series of stock Protectionist arguments—every stock Protectionist argument which everybody has heard at the street corners any time during the last 20 years. But one part of his speech was singularly brief and singularly wanting, and that was the part of the speech in which he professed to deal with the perfectly definite criticism not of Protection, or of Free Trade, not of the vote of the House of Commons, but the action of the Government, of which he is the spokesman, in venturing, upon the present material of the Committee's Report to recommend this particular duty to the House of Commons. I say that the Government is bound to do no such thing, and that they do not get out of their pledge by stirring up the enthusiasm of their Protectionist followers or awaking an echo in the breast of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Broxstowe. They made a promise, 349 and in circumstances in which it is most important that they should keep it. I remember very well during the General Election that I had the misfortune to engage in a controversy with Lord Derby, who is well known to be used on suitable occasions as a decoy duck in Lancashire as a Conservative Free Trader; and he never fails to perform his part. I ventured to say, and I have no reason to be ashamed of it, that I was opposed to Protection, and I added I was opposed to it in whatever disguise it was presented. Lord Derby exhibited quite an unusual asperity in dressing me down, and in saying that this was a reflection—I forget whether it was upon himself or the Prime Minister—but it was something he very greatly resented. I said it then, and I repeat it now. In the meantime something has happened which we said would happen. The truth of the matter is that in Lancashire, Yorkshire, and many other parts of the country by the support of Lord Derby and by the calculated vagueness of the declaration of the Prime Minister, the Unionist and Conservative party secured a majority, not indeed a majority of the votes cast at the election, but a great majority of this House. The Prime Minister himself has admitted here very frankly and candidly that he knows quite well that included in that majority is very likely a million of votes of people who call themselves Liberals. How did they get the majority? It may seem very amusing to some hon. Members, but where they got it so far as the Free Traders were concerned was by making a declaration which, in my submission, has been flagrantly broken by the Government in bringing the present proposal before the House of Commons.
It is for the House of Commons, said the President of the Board of Trade, to decide, to vote. It is always for the House of Commons to decide, and for the House to vote. But the pledge which the Prime Minister gave was not a pledge as to how the House would vote; it was a pledge of what the Government would propose, and of assurances really, though vague in terms, quite easy to be understood. Let me just remind the Committee what it really amounts to. What is the theory which the President of the Board of Trade put forward so amiably this afternoon? That it really does not 350 matter what the Committee found; that any conditions will do that the Government may think fit, for they are perfectly free to make this proposal and to leave the majority of the House of Commons to do what they think right. May I call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to what he said in the Debate on the 16th February of this year, a Debate in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and I took part. In that Debate my right hon. Friend said that they might very well find that the Committees proposed would conceive themselves able to prove all that the Government said was necessary.
What was the reply of the President of the Board of Trade?I know the case is thrown out that any industry, or most industries, might be able to say that in some countries the wages paid in the corresponding industry are lower than the wages paid in this country. But that is not all that has got to be proved. Before the industry can obtain an inquiry into it, it has got to show, not only that in some countries wages are lower, but that the competition is exceptional and the rate of imports abnormal. Therefore, it is idle to take one particular item in these conditions which have to be fulfilled, and to say that any industry could fulfil them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1925; cols. 809–10, Vol. 180.]6.0 P.M.
Would anybody really believe that the speech we heard this afternoon came from the same right hon. Gentleman who made the speech that I have quoted? Having committed yourselves by undertaking to secure votes by these representations, you are at liberty, of course, to propose anything you like; to change your mind as often as you please! To do the right hon. Gentleman justice, he has not changed his mind on the subject. He has always been a straightforward Protectionist, and that is why the Chancellor of the Exchequer leaves him to do his job, though this matter happens to be in Committee of Finance Bill. Why the President of the Board of Trade should tell us that this procedure is constitutional and in accordance with custom I cannot conceive. When in the history of Parliament, or in the lifetime of any Member of Parliament, has there ever been a new Clause in Committee of the Finance Bill proposed, defended, supported, and explained from beginning to end without having the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Financial Secre- 351 tary in person on the Front Bench opposite? It is, of course, perfectly abnormal from a constitutional point of view. But the more immediate point is this: Those very conditions which the President of the Board of Trade, with the Prime Minister, declared to be absolutely essential before the procedure could be adopted are now being ostentatiously thrown over. Take the four main conditions—the Leader of the Opposition interposed to refer to one of them just now—laid down in the White Paper which were prescribed for this Committee, and in respect of each of which the Committee was required to ask itself the question and answer it on the evidence. There was first, the question, "Is the trade in question an important trade?" Secondly, there was the question, "Are the imports abnormal?"—the very thing the President of the Board of Trade referred to in his speech just now.
§ Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman explain how, when an industry is as stagnant as the lace trade is and has been for the last two years, any imports into this country can be abnormal?
§ Sir J. SIMON
That seems a very good reason for revising the terms for the Committee, but not a good reason for throwing over the declaration made by the President of the Board of Trade, a declaration that the imports had to be unprecedented before this remedy could be applied. I sympathise with the Noble Lord the Member for Nottingham (Lord H. Cavendish-Bentinck). There is not a man who stands higher in the respect of us all, but he must see that we have some grounds for criticism if the conditions laid down in a White Paper and in speeches of the Government were in certain defined terms, and it can be shown that those defined terms are not satisfied. I was saying that there were four conditions. The first that the trade should be important, and the second that the imports must be abnormal, whatever that may mean. The third was that the foreign article was being sold at such prices as seriously undercut similar goods produced in the United Kingdom; and the fourth was that employment in this country should be seriously affected 352 thereby; not, I may point out, that there should be unemployment in the trade, for, unfortunately, there is unemployment in a good many trades, and there happens to be unemployment in the corresponding trade abroad, as the Committee point out, but that you should have it established that there is unemployment due to the fact that this country is flooded with similar goods sold at a seriously cheaper price.
Those were the four main conditions. What does this Committee, the members of which were selected by the Board of Trade—the President of the Board of Trade can select whom he wishes—say in answering the four questions? They say, first, that the industry might be regarded as important. Be it so. There is no question at all of its importance to people who hope to live by it, and I do not wish to speak slightingly of the industry. What do they say of the other three conditions—which are not alternatives but are cumulative—which the White Paper and the President of the Board of Trade insisted must be fulfilled before the Government would be entitled to take action and ask the House of Commons to confirm it? They say, as regards the second condition, after giving a series of figures about it, that they cannot answer it except in the negative. They say, as regards the third condition, that they did not attempt to answer it, amongst other things because in any case it depends upon the answer to the second. And they do not answer the fourth question either.
What is the good of coming here now and making appeals which are composed partly of general Protectionist cliches and partly of references to the undoubtedly serious condition of many people in this unhappily decaying industry, when the real point is, What right has the Government, within six months of the General Election, to betray a great body of opinion in this country which trusted the Prime Minister's word? I must confess I am getting a little tired of this flying to the point of honour. The last time a Conservative Government got themselves involved in this kind of thing, they had a very ingenious leader, the then Mr. Arthur Balfour, and he again and again fobbed off the challenge of the Free Traders by flying to the point of honour. There are many honourable 353 people in the world, but we have to test these things for ourselves, and it is perfectly plain, if a man is prepared to use unbiassed judgment on the language that has been employed, that nobody can defend what the Government are attempting to do to-day by saying it comes within the language which was used. Last Saturday I went to see a Greek play, the famous play of Agamemnon, and I may recall, though not in any ancient tongue, the observation that is made by the villainess immediately after she has committed the crime. Clytemnestra welcomes her husband home with soft words until she has the opportunity of dealing a mortal blow, and when she has dealt it she goes to the front of the stage and says, as translated:Though much was said before to suit the time, I shall not blush to say the opposite.My real complaint of the matter, indeed it is the naked truth—I do not mind in this weather if truth be naked—is that the Government are not merely naked in this matter but utterly unashamed, in breaking every assurance offered to the electors.
§ Mr. AUSTIN HOPKINSON
There are one or two small points which ought to be put forward for the consideration of the Committee and which, so far as I am aware, have not been brought to its attention. In the first place, I have not heard any speaker in this Debate, or the one that preceded it, who really combated the allegation of those who defend Protection in this House, and particularly the President of the Board of Trade himself, that the home market must be secured in order that, by a reduction of standing charges, we may compete profitably and efficiently with firms abroad. To anyone engaged in meeting foreign competition, as I am myself, the answer to that is perfectly obvious, though it is, perhaps, not so obvious to some Members here. It is this. I do not for a moment think that the lacemakers' unions of Nottingham, which are efficiently managed, are going to allow that duty of 33⅓ per cent, to be imposed without putting forward a demand for increased wages. From the point of view of the trade unions, there is no earthly reason why the profits of lacemakers in Notting- 354 ham should be increased by means of this duty; and if, as a result the lace trade is to be restored to a greater state of prosperity, certainly, as trade union officials, it will be their bounden duty to see that their own men get as much out of that as they possibly can. I suggest that if we have this 33⅓ per cent, duty put on in order to restore the prosperity of the trade, the first result will be a demand, which can hardly be refused, for a rise in wages. The lacemakers find enough difficulty in competing with foreign makers as it is, and I think with higher wages it will be found even more difficult. Any reduction in overhead charges due to the securing of the home market—or the securing of the "remnants of the home markets," as is the case in this instance—will be completely counter-balanced by the increased cost of production through increased wages.
The second point I wish to put forward is that I do not think that during this Debate there has been any real inquiry into the whole basis of this so-called Safeguarding of Industries. Most important words have been bandied about from side to side without any consideration as to what they really indicate. We are told there is unfair competition from abroad. When we come to analyse the meaning of "unfair competition," I think we shall find we shall have to define it—and I am afraid Protectionists will have to agree to this, because it is the sense in which they use it—that unfair competition is any competition which succeeds in its object. If those low and base people living abroad are content to work for lower wages and to produce cheaper and better goods than our people do, then, we are told, that competition is "unfair." Why should we stop at unfair foreign competition from abroad? Why not deal with unfair competition at home? In my own particular branch of industry, I am, as a matter of fact, doing better, I believe, than my competitors. Why? Simply because those low, base blacklegs I employ happen to be turning out more than the men employed by my competitors. There we have a perfect case of unfair competition, and, naturally, if we admit, as all Protectionists wish us to admit, that unfair competition is the competition of people more efficient than ourselves, then I suggest to the President of the Board of 355 Trade that the Government had better deal with unfair competition at home as well as abroad.
That is not the main trouble that has arisen through the mis-use of words. The word "efficient" also has a great bearing upon the whole of this discussion. We are told that any industry which is to be safeguarded must prove, first of all, that it is efficiently conducted. In judging the meaning of the word efficient, let us examine what standards we have available. What criterion is there by which we may say whether a particular industry is efficient or not? If we give serious consideration to that matter, we are bound to agree that the only criterion of whether an industry is efficient or not is whether it beats its competitors or not. I have given long and earnest thought to this subject, and I cannot find that there is any method of judging efficiency or otherwise in competitive business other than by the results obtained. For instance, if my competitors seriously damage my business and get my trade I am obliged to admit that they are more efficient than I am; and if, on the contrary, I can beat my competitors, I think I may claim that I am more efficient than they. I should be very glad if the President of the Board of Trade, or anyone else in the Protectionist party, would inform us whether there is any other method of judging the meaning of the word "efficiency," except the criterion of success or failure in meeting competition. Those are the two main points I wish to bring before the Committee—a consideration of whether it is not very unwise to use words in the vague way they are being used, to talk about "unfair" competition when we mean competition which succeeds where we fail, and to talk about an industry being "efficient" when it wants protection. To put the whole thing into a nutshell, an industry is efficient if it does not want Protection, and it is inefficient if it does.
§ Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
With all due respect to my hon. Friend the Member for Moseley (Mr. Hopkinson), the problem is not so simple as that, because, unquestionably, the manufacturer of lace in this country is suffering from grossly unfair competition. It is no exaggeration to say that the Calais maker of lace is importing goods into this country with a bonus from the depreciated French exchange of some- 356 thing like 40 per cent. If the manufacturers of machinery abroad were importing into the home market machines with a bonus of about 40 per cent., I do not know whether my hon. Friend would call it fair competition or unfair competition.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
As the noble Lord has appealed to me, may I say that the Germans are doing it in my particular branch of industry, but, being efficient, I can beat them on price and quality?
§ Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
Yes, but the German currency is not depreciated. If the hon. Member will look at the evidence submitted in this last inquiry into the lace trade he will find a calculation that at the end of 1924, when the French franc was somewhere about 87, prices of articles had remained about 57. If wages followed the course of retail prices that gave the French manufacturer a bonus at that time of about 30 per cent. That has now fallen to over 100, and it is no exaggeration to say that the French manufacturer is receiving a bonus on his wages of something like 40 per cent. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) complained that the Government had betrayed their election pledges, and he pointed to the fact that there is no great and abnormal importation of lace into this country. At the same time, if my right hon. and learned Friend were to take a sample of good up-to-date Nottingham lace and try to sell it in this country he would find that the merchants would tell him that they could purchase lace abroad 40 per cent. cheaper.
That is grossly unfair competition, and it is due to the depreciated character of the French exchange. The Government, by their proposals, may not have satisfied everybody, but I do think that they have imported a little human sympathy and common-sense into our economic system. I deny that it is to the advantage of the common weal of this country to allow any trade to die, and I fail to see that it is to the advantage of the nation to allow a once flourishing industry to die and linger away, not through any fault of its own, but through artificial and unfair competition owing to a depreciated exchange. To say that we must do nothing, and rely upon the strict tenets of Free Trade is not to my mind Free Trade at all, but simply erecting a kind 357 of Juggernaut which is crushing the life out of many thousands of deserving workmen.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
It would be a very interesting Debate if we were to enter into a discussion as to how far this country, in maintaining the value of the £, has entered into the possibilities of our export trade. It has been a very consistent policy in this country to increase the volume of our trade, and where it has been the policy to keep the currency at a deflated point it has a distinct bearing on this subject. Like many other hon. Members at the last election, I was very busy trying to explain to the electors that there was no difference between the safeguarding of industries and Tariff Reform. We were also very busy explaining that there was no difference, while hon. Members of the party opposite were busy explaining that there was a fundamental difference in this respect. Of course, there is a difference. One is doing the thing piecemeal, and the other is a big thing which has to be done all at once. If the Government are honest in their intentions, and if we are assured that they do not intend to introduce general tariff methods in this country, I am compelled to come to the opinion that if this is going to be the method as advocated by the hon. Member for Howdenshire (Lieut.-Colonel Jackson), who told us that this Government would continue in office until 1929. When that year comes along there will not be many industries in this country which are not protected.
It appears to me that one could very well follow the principles set forth in a book which I read some time ago entitled "Will it work?" That is the real test of any subject which ought to be considered in this House. I want to suggest to the party opposite that they should make a challenge to this House. They say, "We believe that the safeguarding of industries is a good thing for industry. Let us have a tariff test." This is the first proposal of an industry to be safeguarded under the new principle, and let the Government put it into operation for one year, and leave every other industry alone, and then come to the House of Commons and prove whether or not this is a fair test. We have been told by the President of the Board of Trade that a decided difference will be found in the lace industry as a result of these proposals.
358 It has been pointed out scores of times that fashion very often determines the success of an industry, and we have had more experience in the part of the country which I have the honour to represent of fashions than any other industry. I remember the time when the people wanted some material that would rustle and then the fashion changed and something was wanted that would hang smooth from the hips, and we produced something which supplied that necessity of fashion. From time to time and almost from year to year the West Riding industry has not depended upon safeguarding from outside, but upon finding something which would catch the public eye. I want to suggest, very frankly, that there is not an industry in this country which could not prove up to the hilt to their own satisfaction and to the satisfaction of the Government that their industry needed safeguarding.
Not long ago the managing director of a great firm in the West Riding headed a party of Bradford business men who formed a deputation to the President of the Board of Trade, and they established definitely and beyond any doubt that the trade of the West Riding had gone to the dogs. They showed that French serges and other materials were being imported at 6s. a yard, and they could not produce them under 9s. a yard, and they asserted that unless we were safeguarded in our textile trade there would be no more work and everybody would be out of work. That very afternoon, whilst this deputation were urging their case in this way, the chairman of the board of directors of one of those large firms was presiding over a shareholders' meeting, and he congratulated them upon having had the best year they had ever experienced in the history of their trade That is what happened only two years ago in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
Really, these proposals are carrying the thing a little bit too far. Any industry can prove a case of this sort, and, if only the lace industry would get down to facts and find out how they could produce fashions to help their industry, that is certainly the line on which they ought to proceed. Everybody knows that the lace industry does not really expect to get back to the position they were in a few years ago, even by adopting this principle of the safeguarding of indus- 359 tries. Such proposals may stave off the evil time and make goods a little more expensive for the people and produce a little more profit, and they may say that they have proved their case, but I want to suggest that the only method by which any industry can keep its end up is by providing exactly the goods which the public need. If there be a need for those goods the public will buy them. Everybody who knows anything about domestic life knows that a few years ago our wives and daughters were dressed up in garments on which there was a lot of lace, but since that time artificial silk goods have been largely produced in Leeds and Macclesfield; in fact, artificial silk has been woven by the mile in those places.
I want to suggest that a very important feature of any industry is to provide something that the people can buy, and once you have created a public demand for an article there will be very little need for any safeguarding of that particular industry. The artificial methods being adopted by the Government are bad for the morale of the industry itself. The child which is always being petted and is kept wrapped up in cotton wool is always catching cold, and any industry which is kept up by artificial methods will only ask for more and more help and will finally die of a slow disease. Fashions have changed. If you had gone into the houses of the average artisan 10 or 12 years ago you would have found lace curtains everywhere, and 95 per cent. of them would have got such curtains in their houses. Now this will all be changed and it is bound to have an effect in diminishing the trade in this particular industry.
I suggest to the President of the Board of Trade that we ought to make a test for about a year's time. Then, if the party opposite decide that it has been successful, it might be continued for two or three years. The only method of proving whether it will be useful or not is to apply the test, "Will it work?" If the textile industry of the West Riding of Yorkshire makes an application, I am satisfied that they can make out a case why they should be safeguarded. I know they have old machinery. At one time we could not make a single thread of warp yarn, and we had to size it, but the French had 360 tried combing processes which are too technical to understand, and they are now able to do this. By our new machinery we can make a light cloth and make it strong, but, although these manufacturers did not get what they wanted in the way of safeguarding of their industries, they managed to get along. I admit, however, that they are not too well off at the present time. We can make as good a cloth as anybody in the world in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and I think the Nottingham people can make as good lace as anybody in the world. They have to produce an article which will supply the requirements of the public, and if they do this then neither French nor Swiss goods will prevent the British people buying those articles.
§ Sir H. CROFT
Surely, the last speaker has missed the whole point of this Debate. He has announced that there is greater suffering in the industries in our country than ever there was before, but, surely, if we can preserve one industry from falling into that condition, it is our duty to do so. After all, there are no other remedies put forward. The hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Mackinder), with all the wisdom of a West Riding expert, has been lecturing the Nottingham lace manufacturers, but, surely, they know their job as well as the people of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and as well as an industry which has been turning its attention to such questions as fashions. The speech of the Noble Lord the Member for South Nottingham (Lord H. Cavendish-Bentinck), surely, shows that the matter has no connection with change of fashion. Even if you could import archangels in the lace trade and teach them their business, you could not get over the difference of the exchange.
My hon. Friend the Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson) made a speech of great significance. He is the honest Free Trader, as opposed to the careful Free Trader, and he let the cat out of the bag. His main inspiration is to see cheap labour in this country, and he stated that as clearly as it could possibly be stated, with the quiet cheers of the Liberal party behind him. I think many of us will absolutely dissociate ourselves from that view. After all, this trade which we are now considering is one of many. If we could raise the wages of the people of this country by £10 per annum, I believe 361 I am right in saying that that would mean £500,000,000 more circulating among the people of this country, and if wages could be raised by £20 per annum it would mean £1,000,000,000 more. That is the secret which the United States of America have discovered, while we always cling to the laissez faire idea of sweating our people in order to produce a cheap article. We shall never recover until we look at the matter from a more human point of view.
I hope there will not be any more suggestions that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has in this matter broken his pledge. I think that even my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leith (Captain Benn) will. do me the credit of agreeing that I am fairly consistent upon this question. I attended the meeting when the present Prime Minister was again elected Leader of the Conservative party, and he made a speech then, which was published in the Press, in which he definitely laid down that, although we had abandoned a general tariff—the meaning of which, I am afraid, is not well understood by quite a large number of people in this country at the present time—he said that, although we had abandoned that as our policy, he intended then, and he has never ceased to reiterate it, and it was a pledge to the country, that we should safeguard those industries which were in real peril and approaching disaster. From that day to this my right hon. Friend has never varied, and I think it is a little unworthy that anyone should get up and say that the Prime Minister has broken his' pledge. To do so would be absolutely false to his party, and I, for one, would never have assented to his re-election as Leader of the party if he had not made it absolutely plain on that occasion that he intended to carry out that policy.
May I ask the hon. Baronet a question? Is there anything, in his judgment, in the Prime Minister's utterance at that meeting, which would prevent him from imposing a duty to protect every industry, or most of the industries, in the country?
§ Sir H. CROFT
I never understood from the Prime Minister that there was any industry, if the employers and employed in it could prove, on both sides, as is happening in this case, that it is vital 362 to their existence, that would not come within this pledge. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) used what I might describe as rather a bitter phrase. He talked about the servile hordes of the party behind my right hon. Friend. At any rate, I think we can congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley that the hordes behind him are not quite so servile. Already we have seen that there is a considerable section of that party—one-fifth—who realise that the whole future of this country depends on the development of Empire trade and the maintenance of home trade, and I can only say that, if this is to be a test in the days to come, I believe the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues will never regret the fact that, when you had both sections in industry, employers and employed, coming to the Government of this country and asking them to fulfil their just duty of seeing that there was a possibility of employment for their people, the Government did not hesitate, in spite of any criticism, to put that provision into their Finance Bill and carry it.
§ Major OWEN
I only intervene in the Debate because there are certain points which I have not heard put so far. Two or three years ago, this question of bringing the lace industry under the Safeguarding of Industries Act was a very important question in the particular area where the lase is actually made I refer to such places as Long Eaton, Sandiacre and other places in the neighbourhood of the City of Nottingham. I had reason to look into the position of the trade at that time, as I happened to stand for that constituency as a Liberal at the General Election of 1922, and a very large number of the electors in the constituency were engaged in the actual making of the lace. It seems to me rather strange that so much emphasis should have been placed upon Nottingham lace, because, if I remember correctly, the greater part of the. lace is made, not in Nottingham, but in places like Long Eaton, Sandiacre, Sawley and various other places in that neighbourhood.
For a considerable period the industry had been in a state of paralysis. Factories which I myself visited had been closed down, and no work was being done, or had been done, for months. I saw a 363 beautiful machine lying idle; I saw a caretaker looking after, perhaps, 18 or 20 machines; but the thing that struck me more particularly in that area was the absolute inanition of the lacemakers themselves. They seemed to have no idea at all how to get over the difficulty in which they were placed at that time. I remember asking a good many of them, "What does it cost you to produce this lace?"—and the answer I got, after making very careful inquiries, was that they could produce the lace at 1½d. a yard, which meant for them a profit of 2½ per cent. I naturally made inquiries then as to the price at which this lace was sold, and I found that the price to the retailer ranged from 8d. to 10d.
Naturally, I began to ask, "Where is the difference?" The lace manufacturer was content to make that lace for 1½d. a yard, which showed him a profit of 2½ per cent., but when it came into the hands of the public it cost 8d. to 10d. Where was the profit? Where was the difference? Where did it go? The trade themselves agreed that they did not put it on. They sold the lace to the Nottingham people, who bleached and dyed it. The great cost in the manufacture of lace is in the actual making of it. The cost of bleaching and dyeing is comparatively insignificant. When they asked me, "Are you prepared to support our application to place our industry under the Safeguarding of Industries Act?" my answer was, "No; put your own trade in order first. You can compete with France, you can compete with Switzerland, provided you can show me that there is efficiency between the production of the lace at 1½d. a yard and its sale at 8d. to 10d."
§ Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
Has the hon. and gallant Member ever inquired what it costs to bleach and finish lace?
§ Major OWEN
I am taking the statement of the manufacturers themselves at Long Eaton and Sandiacre, and they assured me definitely. I appeared before the lace manufacturers themselves at Long Eaton, and that was my reply to them at the time—that in my opinion, in the best interests of the trade, they them- 364 selves should look into it and try to make it more efficient. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question!"] I have answered the question. The great cost in the production of lace—I am taking the evidence of the manufacturers themselves, and they did not deny it at the time when I put the point to them— the great cost in the production of the lace was in the making of it. They had to buy the cotton— [An HON. MEMBER: "Has the hon. Member ever asked the bleachers how much it cost them to bleach the lace?"] The bleachers were represented at that meeting. [HON. MEMBERS: "What was the cost?"] The bleachers were represented at that meeting. I am very glad that some facts at last have penetrated even the intelligence of hon. Gentlemen on the other side. [HON. MEMBERS: "You are burking the issue!"] I am not. If hon. Members on the other side can refute the facts which I have put forward, they are at liberty to do so. A great point has been made in regard to the difference in the exchanges, and that the manufacturer in Nottingham and the neighbourhood is penalised owing to the fact that the French producer, on account of the depreciated exchange, can sell the article here much cheaper. But those who make that point forget one thing. France does not produce the raw material, nor does Switzerland, and, therefore, if they have to purchase the raw material from outside, then, owing to their depreciated exchange, they have to pay considerably more for that raw material than our manufacturers here have to pay.
I am more convinced to-day even than I was then that the real cause of the difficulty of this trade, as of so many other trades in this country, is the fact that they will not put their own house in order, and, so long as they continue to look to a Conservative Government to spoon-feed them with the milk of Protection, they will continue to fold their arms and do nothing, as has been the case to a very great extent in the area of which I am speaking. Therefore, I very strongly oppose the putting of this industry under the Safeguarding of Industries Act, which, after all, is merely a measure of Protection to subsidise a trade which has proved itself incapable of meeting competition with other countries. Not very 365 long since, a machine invented by an Englishman for the manufacture of lace was offered to every manufacturer in that area, and a friend of mine, the biggest lace buyer in the country, offered to take the whole of the production of that machine; but they turned it down. That machine was adopted in France and in Switzerland, and the very lace produced by that machine is the lace which cuts out the lace produced in Nottingham and that area to-day. That is another fact which hon. Members on the other side might well consider and think over.
Mr. HILTON YOUNG
It is with hesitation that I intervene in this Debate. But I should like to say a word about the point of view of outsiders on this very important question. It is the point of view of one who has never been able to look upon the Free Trade versus Protection controversy from what I should call the purely theological standpoint, but reviews each case for Free Trade or Protection as it comes up, in the light of general principles and of actual facts. Reviewing this Clause in that light, I think I may say it is one of the very worst cases for Protection I have ever heard put forward. It appears to me that if you asked the right hon. Gentleman to put the case for Protection as regards any national industry in an attractive light, he would find it very much easier to do so were he to argue for Protection in favour of one of our great national industries. I should not support him, but I should find the case very much easier to understand because it is an industry that you cannot displace. You cannot carry on the business of being Great Britain unless you have a great iron and steel trade, and a great cotton trade. If they go down there is little left. If, therefore, by any accidental circumstance, one of those great industries is in danger, certainly no possible means of securing its prosperity must be lightly disregarded. Here you have a different case. You have a small industry—a decaying industry.
That is a point I am coming to, if the Noble Lord will restrain his impatience. You have a very small 366 industry and a decaying industry. It is in the case of such an industry that I think the case for Protection becomes the worst, because you can displace the capital and the labour which is embarked in it. One more concession I will make to supporters of this principle. If even a small industry is decaying through any preventable circumstances there may be a case for at any rate considering measures for its temporary assistance. But, as far as I can understand on a careful perusal, in the case put forward on behalf of this industry by the Committee the decay is neither accidental nor temporary. It is due to very deep seated causes. Reading between the lines, as we are entitled to do in any report of the sort, I cannot but help coming to the conclusion that the lace industry is decaying because the invention and the ingenuity of the Briton does not seem to be able to work it with success. He is beaten in these qualities by his competitors abroad, and that is a difficulty which you can cure by no tariff.
I come now to the point eloquently taken by the Noble Lord opposite. I want to put it in this light. No man, of course, can stand up here and talk lightly, or from the point of view of mere abstract economic principle, about the livelihood of about 20,000 men and women. It is a most serious question. There is only one more serious question, and that is the livelihood of the 1,250,000 unemployed. The two questions are linked very closely in this way. Why have we the general mass of unemployed? Because we are not getting equal with our foreign competitors in the great severity of competition that has followed the War. To get equal with them, we must screw up in every particular the efficiency of the race. We must screw up the efficiency of the use of every pound of capital and every ounce of brain. If you allow that efficiency to decline out of consideration for a small minority, you are doing a very great wrong to the big majority of the unemployed.
I am really brought to my feet by a reference to the United States made by the hon. Baronet who spoke from the Front Bench opposite. If there is one lesson that we learn from studying trade and industrial conditions in the United States it is this. They flourish because of their extraordinary agility, promptitude and ingenuity in turning from one 367 trade to another when the old trade is found to be unprofitable. Let me quote a single instance. We have all heard—fortunately as yet no more than heard—of prohibition. When prohibition came into force in the United States, at a blow an immense amount of invested capital, a vast supply of machinery and a great value in buildings was apparently put out of profit-earning capacity. There was hardly a word of complaint, there was hardly a ripple of disturbance in the industrial centres of the States, and in the course of a few months the whole of the capital, the whole of the
§ labour and the whole of the plant was turned over successfully to mating fresh products, and was put upon a profit-earning basis in a new sphere. That is the moral we have to learn. That is the lesson which it is essential and vital for us to learn—fluidity and agility in our industrial sphere—and it is that lesson which such a proposal as this is doing its best to prevent the country from learning.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be added to the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 260; Noes, 148.369
|Division No. 159.]||AYES.||[6.52 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Albery, Irving James||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hayday, Arthur|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Crook, C. W.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Henniker-Hughan, Vice-Adm. Sir A.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Curtis-Bennett, Sir Henry||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Balniel, Lord||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hilton, Cecil|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Dalziel, Sir Davison||Holland, Sir Arthur|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Davidson, J. (Hertl'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Holt, Capt. H. P.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.|
|Dentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Howard, Capt. Hon. D. (Cumb., N.)|
|Berry, Sir George||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whitch'n)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Drewe, C.||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hiffe, Sir Edward M.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Elveden, Viscount||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft.||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Everard, W. Lindsay||Jacob, A. E.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Fielden, E. B.||Kindersley, Major Guy M.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Finburgh, S.||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Fleming, D. P.||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Col. George R.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Fraser, Captain Ian||Little, Dr. E. Graham|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Fremantle, Lt.-Col. Francis E.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Burman, J. B||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Loder, J. de V.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Looker, Herbert William|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Ganzoni, Sir John||Lougher, L.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Gates, Percy||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Cassels, J. D.||Gault Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Gee, Captain R.||Lumley, L. R.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Lynn, Sir Robert J.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Goff, Sir Park||McLean, Major A.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Grace, John||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Grant, J. A.||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||MacRobert, Alexander M.|
|Christie, J. A.||Gretton, Colonel John||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Grotrian, H. Brent||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.)||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Margesson, Capt. D.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Meller, R. J.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Merriman, F. B.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Harland, A.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Cope, Major William||Harrison, G. J. C.||Moles, Thomas|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R.|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Morden, Colonel Walter Grant||Rice, Sir Frederick||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Croydon, S.)|
|Murchison, C. K.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Rye, F. G.||Waddington, R.|
|Neville, R. J.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Sandeman, A. Stewart||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Sandon, Lord||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Wells, S. R.|
|Nuttall, Ellis||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Oakley, T.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Shepperson, E. W.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Skelton, A. N.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Pennefather, Sir John||Smith, R.W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Smithers, Waldron||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Pilcher, G.||Sprot, Sir Alexander||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Pilditch, Sir Philip||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Preston, William||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Wood, Rt. Hon. E. (York, W. R., Ripon)|
|Radford, E. A.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).|
|Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel||Steel, Major Samuel Strang||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Rawson, Alfred Cooper||Storry, Deans, R.|
|Reid, Captain A. S. C. (Warrington)||Strickland, Sir Gerald||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Commander B. Eyres Monsell and|
|Remnant, Sir James||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Colonel Gibbs.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Alexander. A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hardie, George D.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Harney, E. A.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Harris, Percy A.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Scurr, John|
|Baker, Walter||Hastings, Sir Patrick||Sexton, James|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hayes, John Henry||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Barnes, A.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barr, J.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Batey, Joseph||Hirst, G. H.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Smillie, Robert|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Briant, Frank||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Broad, F. A.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Bromfield, William||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Bromley, J.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Buchanan, G.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Taylor, R. A.|
|Clowes, S.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)|
|Compton, Joseph||Kelly, W. T.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Connolly, M.||Kenyon, Barnet||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Cove, W. G.||Kirkwood, D.||Thurtle, E.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lansbury, George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Lawson, John James||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lowth, T.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lunn, William||Viant, S. P.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Duckworth, John||Mackinder, W.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Duncan, C.||MacLaren, Andrew||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Edwards, John H. (Accrington)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|England, Colonel A.||March, S.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Maxton, James||Westwood, J.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Forrest, W.||Montague, Frederick||Whiteley, W.|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Murnin, H.||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Gillett, George M.||Naylor, T. E.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Gosling, Harry||Owen, Major G.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Palin, John Henry||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Paling, W.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Greenall, T.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Windsor, Walter|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wright, W.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Potts, John S.||Young, E. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Guest, J. (York, Hermsworth)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N)||Riley, Ben|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Ritson, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. T. Kennedy and Mr. Warne.|