HC Deb 20 April 1926 vol 194 cc1132-4

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

take it that this Clause, if I read it aright, legalises the stamping by the Government on letters of the words "Buy British Goods," and similar words. The President of the Board of Trade well knows that every letter that passes through His Majesty's mails is stamped "Buy British Goods" with a machine bought in America—

The POSTMASTER - GENERAL (Sir William Mitchell-Thomson)

No; it is "British Goods are Best."

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

It was "Buy British Goods at one time. I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman; "British Goods arc Best" is, I think, very much better than the other slogan. I would prefer "Sell British Goods," but that is neither here nor there. The fact is that the stamping machine—this ought to be known, and that is why I am taking the opportunity of bringing it to the notice of the Postmaster-General, because the President of the Board of Trade already knows it—is bought in America. I also wish to protest in a very few words against the Government finding it necessary to scrape a few pounds together by putting advertisements on His Majesty's matter and stationery. I think that that is altogether undignified and unworthy of the Government of a great Empire, and when they allow advertisements of strong liquor to appear—[Interruption] —I am not advocating temperance or Prohibition or anything of that sort—when they allow advertisements of strong liquor to appear on the little 2s. books of stamps that you buy at the post office, I feel I cannot allow this Clause to pass without at any rate one voice protesting, and, accordingly, I do protest.


I want to add my testimonial to the protest of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Ken-worthy) with regard to the Government turning itself into an advertising agency. I object, not to the Government turning itself into an advertising agency, but to its having such bad goods to advertise. My hon. and gallant Friend has said that the drink is strong, but I venture to suggest that, so far as the great mass of the people who drink in this country are concerned, our protest is that it is too weak. We would not mind if they advertised the real goods, but they advertise the worst goods. So far as stamping is concerned, I do not care what they stamp, but there is one thing that they are doing now—they are stamping as impossible people for the future consideration of this country. They do not say what they mean by this Bill; we have had no explanation of it as yet. The chief villain of the piece has generally been absent when we have been considering the various Clauses for which, in the main, he is responsible. He has walked through the Lobbies like Hamlet looking for his father's ghost.


The hon. Member would have been perfectly in order, had he been in -time, in suggesting, in regard to advertisements of goods, the desirability of making sure that the quality should be guaranteed, but I am afraid that the opportunity is now past. On the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot come in.


The Chancellor of the Exchequer will not come in, Sir. I want to say that, so far as I am concerned, I join with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull in protesting against this very skimping Measure. Why cannot I advertise myself on the back of the Government's publications? I may be worth more than some of the stuff they advertise. I want to join in the protest against this economy stunt, which really means no economy at all. If the Government began at the right end, we would support them.


I appreciate what has been said by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy). I would only point out that this Clause is simply for the purpose of removing doubts as to whether the use of these commercial postmarks is legal. In the opinion of those who advise me, there is some doubt as to whether such advertisements, and still more as to whether advertisements of a more commercial character, such as are suggested in future, are legal or not. This Clause takes the opportunity of removing those doubts, and I suggest that the Committee would do well to pass it.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

This is the only opportunity that. Parliament has ever had, so far as I know, of expressing an opinion upon administrative action taken without the consent of the House of Commons.

Clause 20 (Fees under Merchant Shipping Acts) ordered to stand part of the Bill.