§ "The Customs Duty imposed under the Safeguarding of Industries (Customs Duties) Act, 1925 (Geo.V.,c.79), on mantles for incandescent lighting, whether collodionised or not, shall be reduced from six shillings the gross to one shilling the gross as from the first day of August, nineteen hundred and twenty-seven, and the Customs Duty imposed under the same Act on impregnated hose or stockings for use in the manufacture of such mantles shall be reduced from four shillings and sixpense the pound to sixpence the pound from the first day of August, nineteen hundred and twenty-seven."—[Mr. Harris.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
Most of the new Clauses and many of the Amendments to this Finance Bill have been met by the representative of the Government, especially by the Financial Secretary, by the argument of the need for revenue and the necessity for making the Budget balance. That has been the case against accepting the new Clause or the Amendment, as the case might be. I move my new Clause with greater confidence, therefore, because its acceptance would not mean any serious loss to the revenue. This duty on gas mantles brings in such a small amount that it is not worth consideration. I should not have raised this subject at the present time if some new factor had not arisen. I am not in favour of bringing up each year the same case and the same arguments unless new factors have arisen during the year, and I think I can show that a new factor has arisen which did not exist when Parliament was persuaded to single out this industry for protection under the Safeguarding of Industries Act. The factor which has arisen is this. A ring of the manufacturers of gas mantles has been formed. it was in existence, I believe, before the duty was imposed, but since then it has been strengthened and almost, if not entirely, completed.
In spite of the duty, the gas mantle manufacturers find that they are not able to compete with the German product; or it may be that they are not satisfied with their profits or the amount of their dividends. Whatever the case may be, they have taken advantage of this duty to come to an agreement with the German manufacturers and I am informed that the arrangement is that on every gross 1492 of gas mantles produced they are to pay a bonus of 4s. to the German interests. That is a result which the Government, no doubt, never anticipated and certainly one which this Committee would not desire. I have often heard from hon. Members opposite about the foreigner paying the duty, but I do not think even the most ardent Tariff Reformer would defend the practice of the users and manufacturers of a particular article in this country paying a bonus to German interests. That is something which the Committee ought to condemn in no uncertain way and this proposed new Clause affords them an opportunity of doing so. This is a very evil precedent for other industries to follow. If we are to have the complicated organisation of the Safeguarding of Industries Act constantly at work, we ought to condemn schemes of this kind which are unsound financially and bad for everybody concerned. The old machinery of safeguarding, in reference to depreciated exchanges, gave this industry a certain amount of protection in the first instance, and on a second inquiry it has been given this duty.
At that second inquiry certain figures were produced. They can be found in the shorthand notes, which I am prepared to produce, but no doubt the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade has had the advantage of seeing them. Knowing the hon. Gentleman's diligence and industry, I hale no doubt he has gone through them, paragraph by paragraph and word by word, and is as familiar with the shorthand notes as he is with the Prayer Book or the Bible. We find in the evidence of the applicants figures to show that the wholesale price of the German mantles per gross was 22 shillings but the English manufacturers, owing to labour costs and other causes, could not sell under 26 shillings. They asked for a protection of 10 shillings a gross and the Committee recommended six shillings a gross. After the duty had been granted the price of the standard gas mantle—that is the popular article, generally used in working-class homes—remained at 26 shillings, but in little less than a year it went to 36 shillings. I have here the official price list of the combine, which shows that the standard gas mantle, which was the subject of inquiry and on which evidence was given, 1493 has gone from 26 shillings a gross to 37s. 6d.—that is the English price—and that 37s. 6d. is the price for large quantities, such as 500 gross lots. The price in small quantities, such as single gross lots, is very much higher and works out at something like 45 shillings.
§ Mr. HARRIS
The cheap mantle—the mantle used by my constituents in the East End of London and not the high-class mantle like the Veritas. I am coming to that in a moment.
§ Mr. HARRIS
The cheap gas mantle was dealt with in the evidence at the inquiry—the standard mantle—and, as I say, it has gone up from 26 shillings wholesale to 37s. 6d. That is an undoubted fact. The other day these figures were challenged. The hon. Member for Reading (Mr. H. Williams) asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the prices had gone up and, with all the authority and organisation of his Department behind him, the right hon. Gentleman was able to say that the average price had only gone up by one shilling a gross. At the inquiry the principal article was alleged to be the article which was formerly sold at 26 shillings; now it is said that the average price has only gone up by one shilling a gross, although the price of the principal article in the trade has gone up from 26 shillings to 37s. 6d. There is a simple explanation. I knew my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) would be watching me very closely on this occasion and cross-examining me because he is anxious to get at the truth in these matters and to see that the public are not fleeced in his attempts to give protection to the producer and the manufacturer. Accordingly, I made careful inquiries and went round a number of the ordinary shops. I admit it is rather difficult to get at the price. We have had practically constant protection for this particular article since 1923 with an interregnum of less than a year. Under the safeguarding machinery concerned, with depreciated exchanges, there were some 21 months of protection. Then there was the time when the market was 1494 free and the cheap article became available, but that was a comparatively short period. I find that in that short period it was possible for the ordinary user of gas to buy a gas mantle at 3½. or 4½d. That article has disappeared from the market. I have searched every shop in and about the back streets and they can no longer be bought. What has happened is this. The difference between the original 26 shillings a gross article and the more expensive article—
§ Mr. HANNON
The hon. Member is talking about two totally different articles. He is not comparing like with like.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I am pointing out that the difference between the cheap article and the better quality article in price is now so small as to be hardly worth consideration. The difference between the standard mantle and the Veritas article is so small that the users find it better to pay the extra price for the better article—and the price is 6frac12;d. I took the trouble to buy one of these mantles, and here it is. This is not the 3frac12;d. article but the better article—the 6frac12;d. article. It is the "Welsbach Cone Inverted Burner." It is branded, and it has an interesting sentence on it which will appeal to the patriotism of hon. Members opposite, "Export prohibited to Australia and New Zealand." Why is that? It is because the German manufacturers have now control of the English trade. Are hon. Members opposite satisfied with that position of affairs? All the articles produced in this country have to pay a bonus of 4s. a gross. Is that what hon. Members desire from Tariff Reform? Do they call that fair trade? I call it a most vicious and unsatisfactory system of combines and trusts. You are safeguarding the German manufacturer and fleecing the public; the working class can no longer get the cheap gas mantle, and have to buy the more expensive article—a better class and better quality article, I agree, hut a more profitable article to the producer. All the time, labour is not benefiting because our English workers are not allowed to manufacture for export to the British Dominions and Colonies. Owing to the benevolent attentions of the Government, in their efforts to help trade in the Empire, we have played into the hands of the German 1495 manufacurers and the public is paying 4s. a gross while no longer having the advantage of the cheap article. I submit that hon. Members, whether Free Traders or Protectionists, must recognise that there is a strong case for the repeal of this duty and that the case is all the stronger in that the repeal of the duty involves no loss to the Revenue because the amount derived from the duty is infinitesimal. The number of mantles coming in is practically negligible and those which do come in are from Belgium and not from Germany. For these reasons I ask the Committee, irrespective of fiscal views, to vote for the proposed new Clause.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Sir Burton Chadwick)
An important feature of the gas mantle duty is that it was imposed under one of the requirements in Part II of the White Paper on the grounds of its nature, its manufacture and its use. The mantle depends for its illuminating effect on the heating power of gas, and it is by the use of mantles that we are able to strip the gas and obtain and conserve very valuable by-products in benzol and toluol. That was the main reason for imposing this duty on gas mantles—in order to conserve the gas mantle industry and these valuable by-products. It was also with a view to maintaining the only commercial outlet for thorium and cerium which are used in the manufacture of gas mantles. So much for the reasons which induced the Government in 1925 to impose the duty. The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) has referred to the agreement with the Germans. That agreement was made, I think, some months after the duty came into operation. The hon. Member has treated it in a very surprising way. By their own convention the Germans were enabled to provide a bounty on the export of their own mantles, which amounted to a considerable sum. I am not sure how much it was, but I think it was over 2s. a gross, and the British manufacturers thereupon entered into an agreement with the German association and with associated firms in other countries the largest firms in Italy, Austria, Poland and Holland. That arrangement reserves to the British manufacturers on the one hand the market in the United Kingdom and certain 1496 Imperial markets, and to the Continental manufacturers, the European and United States market—the remainder of the world being, I understand, neutral. As the trade done in this country and the Empire by members of the Convention was more valuable than our trade with the Continent, I understand the British manufacturers agreed to make compensatory payments based upon future British sales in British territory. The hon. Member has stated that under the agreement British producers are paying the Germans 4s. a gross to keep German mantles out of this country. I do not know the actual figure, but I think he very much overstates it when he puts it at 4s. a gross. He says the wholesale prices have increased since the duty from 26s. per gross to 37s. 6d. per gross, and the retail prices from 4½d each to 6d. and 6½d each. I suggest to him that he is not comparing like with like, and that his argument is misleading. To what does it amount?
The hon. Member has treated this arrangement with the Germans as a most immoral procedure. He says they took advantage of the duty in order to make this arrangement, and he condemned that as an undesirable thing to do. I would have said that one of the first fruits of the duty was that it put our people in a position to enable them to make a satisfactory arrangement. That is one of the claims for any duty of this kind, and it operated at once in favour of the British mantle manufacturers. They made their arrangement with the Germans at a time when the trade being done by the Continental mantle manufacturers was overwhelming the mantle manufacturers of this country, and we were losing this important trade of mantle manufacturing. Therefore, I take quite the opposite view from that of the hon. Gentleman as to the morality and the wisdom of the arrangement made by British manufacturers, and as to the wisdom of Parliament in imposing the duty which enabled them to make that arrangement. As to his prices, before the duty Germany imported into this country a large number of gas mantles, which were known as one-ply mantles. I believe it is that class of mantle to which the 1497 hon. Member has been referring, the mantle the wholesale price of which was 26s. a gross.
§ Sir B. CHADWICK
More recently this class of mantle has not been made in this country, but has been replaced by the two-ply mantle, which the makers claim has a much greater lighting power, strength and durability. Many of our gas companies are in the habit of providing gas fittings and making an overhead charge for maintaining them, including the maintenance of the mantles, and it is a proof of the higher quality of the two-ply and the more expensive mantles that these big companies do not use the one-ply or the cheaper quality of mantles to which the hon. Member is referring; and if they do not know what a good mantle is, I am sure the hon. Gentleman does not nor do I. That, I think, supplies a very good answer as to the difference in quality of the mantles. The wholesale price of these latter mantles is about 37s. 6d. a gross. I understand that no mantle of the one-ply type, which he referred to as being sold at 26s. a gross, is being made in this country, but the wholesale price of the better quality article is practically the same as it was before the duty was put on.
§ Mr. HARRIS
The article to which I referred was the one-ply mantle. It was stated in evidence that it was imported at 22s. and the English mantle could not be sold at less than 26s. The manufacturers did not ask protection for the more expensive mantles, including the Veritas, already on the market.
§ Sir B. CHADWICK
That may be. I am not clear as to whether we ever made this cheaper mantle; but these points were all before the House of Commons in 1925 when the duty was introduced. I am just describing to the hon. Gentleman where I think he is wrong in comparing one type of mantle with another. He has told us that he went shopping. It is very difficult to furnish any useful analogy when giving detailed prices of things like gas mantles. Gas mantles are sold in all classes of shops. Very often they are sold at different prices in different shops in the same district. I am advised that 1498 the one-ply mantle to which he has referred can be bought at about 3d. in some of the cheaper shops, and I am informed that the retail price of the class of mantle now most generally made by British makers is substantially the same as it was before the duty was imposed, and that the prices range to-day from 4d. in the cheaper class of shops—and even I believe as low as 3d.—
§ Mr. HARRISindicated dissent.
§ Sir B. CHADWICK
The hon. Member shakes his head, but I think I am right. The prices range from that figure in the cheaper shops to 6frac12;d., or perhaps more, in the dearer shops. I believe I can sum up what I have been saying in a way which will convince the hon. Member, because he is a reasonable man in everything except this one subject which is not even politics or economics but religion with him. I believe I can sum up in a way which will convince him in his innermost heart. What is it he wants? Of what is it that he is complaining? This duty has been imposed for two years. As to employment numerically, it is not of great consequence, because there are not a large number of people employed in the trade. The output and the sales of British-made mantles are from 14 per cent. to 15 per cent. higher than before the duty was imposed. As to the price, I will prove to him that prices are lower to-day, like for like, than before the duty was imposed. Furthermore, and this is to me the most valuable element, the duty has provided a bargaining instrument for the British traders in negotiations with German opponents who were undercutting them. I think those are very valuable reasons. I have got a box full of these mantles. I have not confined myself to one. I have here a mantle which costs 7½d.—a foreign one. I have also got a British one, two-ply at 4½d.
§ Sir B. CHADWICK
This morning a member of my staff at the Board of Trade went out and bought a British two-ply mantle for 3d. I think I have disposed of the hon. Member opposite on every count.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
I am sure the Committee have followed with the greatest interest the able exposition which the 1499 hon. Member has made of one side of the case. He has moved about from point to point with great freedom, and has delivered what is in his own view a convincing refutation of my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris). Let me deal with the exhibits, which have now disappeared, with which he concluded his case. I am informed that the quality which my hon. Friend referred to as the ram standard quality is the quality of mantle which makes up 90 per cent. of the trade. It may be perfectly true that mantles of this or that quality, or this price or that may be sold here and there for a higher figure, but the chief thing to be considered in my view—and I am not so much concerned with gas companies—is the price of the ordinary gas mantle used by the poor persons in my constituency, the gas mantle which they go out to buy when they want a mantle. The hon. and gallant Member who formerly represented Leith informed the Government on a previous occasion that they had chosen the darkest day of the year in order to tax the light of the people, and it is the mantle which provides the light for common ordinary people with which I am concerned. Ninety per cent. of that trade is done in this mantle which is called the ram standard mantle. I have the figures before me, not the retail figures, and the hon. Member representing the Government is an experienced and able enough business man to know that there is a great deal of difference between wholesale figures and retail figures. If you buy 500 gross the lowest price for that standard mantle wholesale is 37s. 6d. per gross.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
I know it makes a difference, but I have not got the trade discount. I know perfectly well, too, that even making allowance for trade discount, the wholesale figure is considerably below the retail figure, the figure at which the mantle is sold to the customer. While the hon. Member was speaking, I did a rapid arithmetical calculation, which I hope more experienced hon. Members will check, and 1500 I find, according to my methods of doing arithmetic, that 37s. 6d. a gross represents one-third of a shilling, which is 4d. Therefore, the wholesale price for this article, which represents 90 per cent. of the trade in these gas mantles, is 4d. each, wholesale. In face of that, it is no good the hon. Member trying to convey the impression, though I will not say he did try to convey the impression. It is to be hoped that hon. Members opposite will not run away with the impression that, because a gas mantle can be produced to be sold at 3d., that is the price the ordinary—[Interruption]—there will be plenty of time after-wards—
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
Apart from that, a very remarkable statement was made by the hon. Member during the course of —[Interruption.] Very well, let us take 3.15d. That is the wholesale price of lots of 500 gross. The hon. Member for Reading (Mr. H. Williams) surely will not tell me that, if the wholesale price per gas mantle is 3.15d., for the largest lot you can buy, in other words the lowest price, the retail price on the average is not going to be considerably more. The hon. Gentleman began his reply with a statement about thorium and cerium, and, as I understood his argument, it was that it was necessary to preserve the staff and plant for the production, or refining, or preparation of thorium and cerium in this country. The reason for that argument was that at a certain period the supplies of these metals were in the hands of the Germans, and one of the reasons, if not the chief reason, for this duty, is in order to maintain that industry in this country. I remember that, at the time when this duty was introduced, as at the time of the introduction of every other Safeguarding Duty, we on this side asked if we might be allowed to see the evidence on which the conclusions were based. When the hon. Gentleman says that these questions were settled when the duty was originally imposed, he does not get over the fact that on no single
1501 occasion when these duties have been imposed has the House of Commons, when it has been asked to make the decision, been given the privilege of seeing the evidence on which that decision ought, rightly speaking to be based.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
I do not know whether the hon. Member himself has nothing to do during the day, but he must know perfectly well that the pressure on the time of Members of the House does not permit them, as a rule, to attend public inquiries.
§ Mr. HANNON
It is well known that those who were interested in defending the imposition of this duty to protect a British industry had their people there making careful notes of all the evidence.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
Is it the hon. Member's contention that interests which are in favour of this or of other duties have their people there making careful notes?
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
Surely, there could not be a greater condemnation of the action of the Government than that. Are we to rely upon what, at the best, must be ex parte statements or ex parte selections of evidence given during the inquiry? Is it not better that there should be an authoritative official account of the evidence, which would be above any criticism or reproach from the point of view of partiality? Even without that, the Committee, in their Report on this duty said:The gas mantle industry in this country was at that time"—That was in 1913—to a considerable extent in German hands, and existed largely on sufferance, owing to the control which the Germans exercised over supplies of monazite sand and the thorium industry. During the War, the Travancore deposits of monazite sand were freed from German control, the manufacture of thorium and cerium was established in this country, the German hold over the gas mantle industry here was released, and the equipment of the industry was greatly extended,On that showing there was no case whatever for protecting this industry in order to protect the thorium and cerium industry. I pass on to what I think was the very remarkable interpretation of 1502 the hon. Gentleman with regard to the arrangement between the English manufacturers and the German manufacturers. He talked about compensatory payments made to German manufacturers; but at whose expense? At the expense of the British consumer. Never once during all the discussion has there been any reference whatever to the case of the consumer. I see that the hon. Member for Wandsworth (Sir H. Jackson) is making preparations to speak on this matter. I understand that in his constituency there are factories or industries which are affected by this duty. Will the hon. Member give us information as to the movement of wages in this industry during the periods when this duty has been on and when it has been off? Will he tell us if the people who are employed have benefited largely by this duty? In an article which appeared the other day in the "Manchester Guardian" Commercial Supplement—not, I think, a paper that can be lightly disregarded in these matters—I find two things. In the first place, I find that the figure of 4s. per gross, which my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) gave, as the tribute paid by English manufacturers to German manufacturers, is an accurate one. I also find a calculation showing that, during one year after this duty had been imposed, those concerned who had benefited by this duty made as much as £300,000. Of course, they are satisfied with the duty; but will the hon. Member for Wandsworth explain to us who are the people who have got additional employment, and what share they had of the pound300,000?
Let me return, as I am wandering a little, to a point that the hon. Gentleman made. He said that one of the great virtues of this duty was that it had enabled our people to make arrangements with the German producers—that, in other words, a virtue of a protective duty is that it enables British manufacturers, by arrangement, to keep out of the country those articles which would compete with them, and, as a result of that freedom from competition, to exploit the consumers in this country to an extent which enables them to pay to their foreign competitors a tribute of 4s. per gross. If that be a virtue according to the hon. Gentleman, give me vice every time. As in every other instance, no 1503 kind of case has been made out for this duty. Hon. Members opposite in interjections, while I have been speaking on this and on other occasions, have said that really there is no increase in the price, that the consumer has not to pay. May I remind them that, in another connection which is very apropos of this one, a colleague of the hon. Gentleman's, the Minister of Agriculture, replying to a deputation of agriculturists, said that a protective duty would be of no use whatever to the agricultural industry unless it raised prices. What is true of agriculture is true of every other industry. A case has never been made out for this duty; it is impossible to make out a case for it to-day. We all know what will happen. In a few minutes, when we come to our Division, hon. Members will troop into the House, and the obedient Government majority, as they have always done in the past, will record their votes, without any case behind them, without any reason for what they are doing.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
A short time ago, the Press informed us of the arrival of a new species at the Zoological Gardens. Those feathered creatures which have lately arrived there are known as processionary birds, and we are told that the official description of these processionary birds is that they are creatures which follow one another in single file for an indefinite time and for no apparent reason. We shall see the pro-cessionary birds from the Government benches flocking into the Lobby again, and we shall know once more that we are right and they are wrong.
§ Sir HENRY JACKSON
I think we may now get back from these rather sterile zoological arguments to the practical realities of this case. I want to point to the practical results of this safeguarding duty in the constituency which I have the honour to represent, and which manufactures, I suppose, something like 85 per cent. of the gas mantles produced in this country; and I would then like to summarise very briefly what has happened. In the first place, let me state—and I may say that I am allowed to state this on behalf of the Incandescent Gas Mantle Manufacturers' Association, 1504 so that both the facts and the conclusions may be regarded as official—that the average increase in the wholesale price of mantles during this year over the previous year is less than 1s. per gross, and, as the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) has not quite realised, that increase of is. per gross has been entirely made up of increases in the cost. of ramie yarn and thorium nitrate. Those two commodities have increased to the extent of 1s. 4d. per gross of mantles. A second fact is one that has been alluded to so often that I need not emphasise it, and I would only repeat what the President of the Board of Trade said on the 28th June, namely, that, from the information in the possession of his Department, the retail price has not increased as a consequence of the imposition of this duty. I venture to say that an official statement of that kind may be accepted by the Committee in preference to the rather, shall I say, unofficial statements of the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green.
Several specimens have been produced this afternoon, and I do not wish to trouble the Committee with more, but I would tell the Committee that yesterday afternoon two British gas mantles were purchased—I can give the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green the addresses—at 4frac12;d. each, whereas it has been repeatedly stated that they could not be bought for less than 6d. During this year British gas mantle manufacturers have sold 34,000 gross more than they sold the year before, and that, interpreted in employment, is at any rate a factor. I need not allude, as the Parliamentary Secretary has already done so, to the confusion in the mind of the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green as to what he calls the price of 26s. per gross before the imposition of the duty, and the pr ice of 37s. 6d. to-day. The hon. Member is not speaking of things that are alike. He is referring, in the first instance, to a cheap article which was sold at less than cost price before the imposition of the duty, which was inferior in quality, so that no gas company in this country would buy or use it, and which, as a consequence of the duty, has been abandoned.
Therefore, the hon. Member, when he speaks of a price of 37s. 6d, per gross, ought, in all fairness to the Committee, 1505 to compare like with like. Instead of being an increase of 11s. 6d. a gross, it is less than 1s., due to the increased price of ramie yarn and thorium. That is the crux of the matter. The Safeguarding Committee made it quite clear that, unless there was a satisfactory production of gas mantles in this country, this great industry of production of thorium in this country, an industry which was scheduled as a key industry in 1921, would go by the board. If thorium could not be produced in this country, we should be entirely dependent. upon Germany. I need not tell the Committee of the great importance of thorium in time of war. We are entirely dependent upon it for war purposes, and if that trade was in the hands of the Germans, in the case of another war we should have to bear all the miseries that conditions of things would impose. The Committee were perfectly right when they said:The significance of the mantle lies first and last in the fact that it is practically the sole commercial outlet for thorium, which in its turn has been described to us as the bread and butter of a group of secondary chemical products, compounds of thorium and cerium.Immediately the Safeguarding Duties were passed by this House, 18 months ago, there was a German gas mantle convention, and the German manufacturers decided that they must try to devise some new weapon to deal with the weapon which the President of the Board of Trade had placed in the hands of the British manufacturers. They decided that for the future the price of the gas mantle in Germany should be raised from 28s. a gross to 50s. a gross, and by that increase of the mantle in the German market they would be able to dump, as they thought, their gas mantles into this country. It was only fair that the British manufacturers should try to find another weapon to fight the weapon which was being used against him, and there was an arrangement, an agreement, made between the German manufacturers and the British manufacturers, the outlines of which have been stated. In Great Britain and certain of our Dominions the British manufacturer will have the field to himself. America and the Continent are to be in the hands of the German manufacturers. The rest of the world is to be a neutral sphere for both. What has happened in the last 1506 fortnight? It has been the custom of the large firms in Calcutta to purchase their mantles in Germany, but now that the mantles of British and German manufacture are in the Calcutta market and are much the same, they have decided that in future they will give this country the preference, and that British mantles shall be bought.
The hon. Member for South West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) has said on more than one occasion—he did it this afternoon and his faithful lieutenant the Member for Walthamstow West (Mr. Crawfurd) has repeated the statement—that the British manufacturer is paying 4s. a gross to keep the German mantle out of this country. Will he allow me to tell him categorically that that is absolutely inaccurate and untrue. I am not at liberty to give him the figures, but he would be amazed what a small figure it is by which that agreement has been sealed. I hope that from now onwards we have heard the last in this House of the 4s. a gross increase in price.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I am open to correction. I have only ordinary sources of information; I am not in the secrets of the firms. Let the hon. Member tell the Committee the price, and I will withdraw my figure. Let him tell the conditions.
§ Sir H. JACKSON
I have stated the conditions. The conditions are the spheres of influence within which the different manufacturers can operate. The hon. Member's figure is certainly more than twice as great as the agreed figure. I am not at liberty to tell him the actual figures. His figure is grossly inaccurate. He must allow me now to be content by telling him that his figure is grossly untrue. By this duty we have proved four things, (1) that, on the wholesale price, the increase of 1s. per gross is represented by the increased cost of things entirely outside the question of safeguarding, namely, the increase in the price of ramie yarn and thorium; (2) we have had the official statement of the President of the Board of Trade that the retail price has not increased; (3) we have the great factor that there is now a great field for the British gas mantle manufacturer not only in this country but in our Colonies, and also in the great neutral spheres; and (4) we can guarantee the production of thorium in this country.
1507 I appeal to the Committee, finally, on a question which has nothing to do with sterile or academic fiscal considerations, but on the question of employment. In the year 1920, this industry found employment in my constituency for 3,300 people. As a consequence of the unfair competition, where the British gas mantle manufacturer was fighting with one hand tied behind his back, the number, employed had decreased in 1924 to 1,700; in 1925 it had gone down to 1,500. There we had a spectacle of an industry, with all its allied industries, gradually disappearing as a British manufacture. We have seen that reduction stemmed; we have seen the rot stopped; we have seen the figures begin to go up, and at the present time there are nearly 1,800 people engaged in the gas mantle industry in my constituency. The right hon. Member for Coins Valley (Mr. Snowden) may smile. It may be a small thing to him, but if he happened
§ to be a member of one of the small homes in my constituency where a girl is bringing in a weekly wage and it was a question of that wage disappearing or not, I do not think he would smile. It means the difference between comfort and happiness in those humble homes in my constituency, and on their behalf I say that they owe a deep debt of gratitude to the President of the Board of Trade for the magnificent thing he has done. Unemployment is a grim fact which we have to face, and if we can relieve it in a small way, we are doing a great service. I have no hesitation in saying that the result of this duty in the last year has been wonderfully successful, and if the Committee, as I hope they will, continue the duty, I am certain that it will be abundantly justified.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 131; Noes, 240.1509
|Division No. 247.]
|[6. 55 p.m.
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)
|Salter, Dr. Alfred
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')
|Harney, E. A.
|Ammon, Charles George
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon
|Attlee, Clement Richard
|Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)
|Hayes, John Henry
|Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
|Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)
|Shiels, Dr. Drummond
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
|Hirst, G. H.
|Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)
|Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.
|Slesser, Sir Henry H.
|Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)
|Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe,
|Broad, F. A.
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Heath)
|Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)
|Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)
|Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
|Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)
|Spoor, Ht. Hon. Benjamin Charles
|Kelly, W. T.
|Cluse, W. S.
|Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.
|Sutton, J. E.
|Taylor, R. A.
|Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
|Cove, W. G.
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)
|Lindley, F. W.
|Tinker, John Joseph
|Crawfurd, H. E.
|Livingstone, A. M.
|Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
|Varley, Frank B.
|Day, Colonel Harry
|Viant, S. P.
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)
|Wallhead, Richard C.
|Edge, Sir William
|Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
|Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)
|Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
|Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)
|Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
|England, Colonel A.
|Morris, R. H.
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
|Welsh, J. C.
|Gardner, J. P.
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.
|Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd
|Naylor, T. E.
|Williams, David (Swansea, East)
|Gillett, George M.
|Oliver, George Harold
|Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
|Palin, John Henry
|Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)
|Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
|Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)
|Potts, John S.
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
|Rees, Sir Beddoe
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
|Grundy, T. W.
|TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)
|Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)
|Sir Robert Hutchison and Mr.
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)
|Rose, Frank H.
|Albery, Irving James
|Fanshawe, Captain G. D.
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)
|Fielden, E. B.
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.
|Foster, Sir Harry S.
|Moore, Sir Newton J.
|Fraser, Captain Ian
|Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W
|Gadle, Lieut.-Col. Anthony
|Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)
|Galbraith, J. F. W.
|Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph
|Ganzoni, Sir John
|Nelson, Sir Frank
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham
|Penny, Frederick George
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)
|Glimour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.
|Goff, Sir Park
|Perkins, Colonel E. K.
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)
|Gower, Sir Robert
|Perring, Sir William George
|Bennett, A. J.
|Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-
|Grant, Sir J. A.
|Pilditch, Sir Philip
|Berry, Sir George
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.
|Power, Sir John Cecil
|Greene, W. P. Crawford
|Price, Major C. W. M.
|Blundell, F. N.
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John
|Radford, E. A.
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft
|Grotrian, H. Brent
|Briggs, J. Harold
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.)
|Rawson, Sir Cooper
|Brittain, Sir Harry
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.
|Remnant, Sir James
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.
|Rentoul, G. S.
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)
|Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
|Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)
|Harrison, G. J. C.
|Ropner, Major L.
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)
|Hartington, Marquess of
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)
|Rye, F. G.
|Buckingham, Sir H.
|Hawke, John Anthony
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James
|Henderson, Lt.-Col. Sir V. L. (Bootle)
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
|Bullock, Captain M.
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.
|Sandeman, N. Stewart
|Burman, J. B.
|Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.
|Sanderson, Sir Frank
|Burton, Colonel H. W.
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey
|Hills, Major John Waller
|Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
|Butt, Sir Alfred
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St Marylebone)
|Savery, S. S.
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward
|Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy
|Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie
|Caine, Gordon Hall
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard
|Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
|Campbell, E. T.
|Holt, Capt. H. P.
|Shepperson, E. W.
|Carver, Major W. H.
|Hopkins, J. W. W.
|Skelton, A. N.
|Cassels, J. D.
|Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Colonel C. K.
|Slaney, Major P. Kenyon
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.
|Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)
|Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)
|Hume, Sir G. H.
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)
|Hurd, Percy A.
|Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)
|Hurst, Gerald B.
|Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.
|Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
|Chamberlain Rt Hon. N. (Ladywood)
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)
|Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
|Chapman, Sir S.
|Jacob, A. E.
|Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert
|Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
|Christie, J. A.
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
|Clayton, G. C.
|Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William
|Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
|Cobb, Sir Cyril
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)
|Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel
|Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)
|Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
|Colman, N. C. D.
|Kindersley, Major G. M.
|Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
|Conway, Sir W. Martin
|King, Commodore Henry Douglas
|Tinne, J. A.
|Cooper, A. Duff
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement
|Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
|Cope, Major William
|Lamb, J. Q.
|Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
|Couper, J. B.
|Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.
|Wallace, Captain D. E.
|Courtauld, Major J. S.
|Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip
|Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)
|Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)
|Locker, Herbert William
|Waterhouse, Captain Charles
|Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)
|Lowe, Sir Francis William
|Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)
|Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman
|Watts, Dr. T.
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.
|Lumley, L. R.
|Wells, S. R.
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)
|MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen
|Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
|Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)
|White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple
|Cunliffe, Sir Herbert
|McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus
|Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
|Curzon, Ciptain Viscount
|Williams, Com. C. (Devon Torquay)
|Dalkeith, Earl of
|Macmillan Captain H.
|Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
|Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.
|McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John
|Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)
|Macquisten, F. A.
|Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.
|Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
|Davies, Dr. Vernon
|Malone, Major P. B.
|Wise, Sir Fredric
|Davison Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)
|Manningnam-Buller, Sir Mervyn
|Withers, John James
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.
|Womersley W. J.
|Elliot, Major Walter E.
|Mason, Lieut-Col. Glyn K.
|Wood E. (Chest'r, Stayb'ge & Hyde)
|Ellis, R. G.
|Meller R. J.
|Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
|Meyer, Sir Frank
|Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)
|Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)
|Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)
|Everard, W. Lindsay
|Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
|TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.
|Moles, Rt. Hon. Thomas
|Captain Bowyer and Captain Margesson.
Bill read a Second time, and committed.