§ 64. Mr. JOHNSTON
asked the Minister of Agriculture what is the amount of subsidy earned by the English Beet Sugar Corporation, Limited, for the past season; seeing that this subsidy is paid to stimulate a new British industry, is he aware that the corporation is purchasing its jute bags in Holland; and if any inquiry has been made into the labour conditions under which these jute bags are being manufactured?
The amount of subsidy earned last season by the English Beet Sugar Corporation in respect of the output of their Cantley factory was £350,691 6s. 5d. I am informed that the corporation bought in 1925, to meet the requirements of the Cantley, Ely and Ipswich factories last season, 32,000 pulp bags, all English, none Continental, and 398,000 sugar bags, of which 223,000 were English and 175,000 Continental. I understand that instructions have already been given by the company to purchase 100,000 sugar bags in this country for the coming campaign if the price does not exceed 1d. per bag over Continental quotations and the necessary number of pulp bags if the cost does not exceed 3 of 1d. over Continental quotations. So far as I can ascertain, no inquiry has been made into the labour conditions under which jute bags are manufactured in Holland.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
Arising out of the last part of the answer, does the right hon. Gentleman not think it right that, before these companies are allowed to expend public subsidies given by this House, at least some inquiries should be made as to the labour conditions abroad governing the production of the goods which they are buying with public money?
I do not think my opinion on that matter would be of much interest to the hon. Member, but the House last year decided, in connection with these subsidies, that it would not concern itself with the expenditure of the money by the companies beyond controlling the percentage of plant which should be bought abroad. I have no power to interfere in any way in this matter.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
Are we then to understand that it is the policy of the Government to purchase sweated goods with moneys raised by Parliament?