§ Mr. KINGSLEY GRIFFITH
We have had an interesting discussion on one of the most interesting and important aspects of our national life, but I want to call the attention of the House to the condition of trade in general, and I do so because I think there has been too much rather facile optimism in the speeches of Ministers recently. This is such as to lead us to believe that the real situation has not been faced. No one expects the Minister to run about the country uttering jeremiads. It is very fitting that they should express confidence, whenever they can upon proper grounds, but we want to know whether, in their opinion now, the confidence expressed earlier in the year is still maintained. The President of the Board of Trade, whose absence to-day and the cause of it we very much regret, stated, in the Debate on the Address, that the figures for 1927 had made a considerable advance on any previous year, and then at the end of his speech, on 1st March, he said:We may confidently expect a course of steady progress and advance."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1928; col. 678, Vol. 214.]I should like to know whether his Department still shares that confidence, and whether the Government in general still has that confidence, and, if so, upon what grounds. There are many who do not know what grounds. I have no doubt that the Department is in the closest touch with the Federation of British Industries, and they have been saying recently that we are faced with a period of unsettlement of unknown duration. Another institution, the London and Cambridge Economic Service examined this question from an impartial point of view, and it apparently shared the optimism of the Government at the beginning of the year, but now states that the prospective improvement in general industry and especially a decrease in unemployment which seemed likely in February, is not materialising. These are very weighty opinions by those in close touch with these matters. When we come to the figures themselves, the support is rather for the pessimistic point of view. Unemployment figures are, after all, the greatest test of trade, because the life of the country is truly measured by the 2144 quality and security of the livelihood which it gives to the great mass of the people. When we find that this year there are 1,118,000 unemployed, an increase of over 111,000 upon last year, that is a fact which must give very furiously to think, even to the most complacent Minister, because these figures are not only very much worse than last year, but worse than any year back to 1924, with the single exception of 1925. I am taking the figures for May. In May, 1925, when the gold standard had just been restored, there was a special reason for a temporary increase in unemployment, but even that is not the end of it, because now the people over 65 are excluded from the tables, and there are some 35,000 of them.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Herbert Williams)
They are included.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that men over 65 in receipt of a pension have no reason to register, because they do not get unemployment benefit?
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
In answer to questions in this House, we have been told that there are no figures to show this class, but we know from experience that people who do not draw unemployment benefit have no reason to go to the Employment Exchanges.
§ Mr. GRIFFITH
I was merely stating, what is obvious, that the removal for good cause of the people over 65 must make a difference to the unemployment figures. It is inevitable that the figures should be lightened in this way, and, therefore, the comparison with recent years is not so good as it would otherwise be. The main point, and the significant point in considering our present prospects in industry, is that there has been this 111,000 increase in unemployment since last year, even ignoring the question of the people over 65 years. If it be said that to take the figures merely for a month in each year is misleading, let us take the ordinary seasonal decrease which occurs every year. If our trade is 2145 really prospering, one would expect that decrease to be taking place this year in the normal way, as it has in other years. Instead of that we find there has been a decrease from January to May of only 217,900, this year, as against a decrease of 488,000 in the same period last year. That is not a healthy sign. If you have a patient who has normal periods at certain times of the day, and they are not being maintained, the deduction is that the patient is getting worse.
Are we keeping pace in this matter with the ordinary increase of the population? Between June 1927 and April 1928, only 1,200 additional persons had been taken into employment, and the additional persons entering into insurance numbered 83,000. When we get figures like that, it is easily apprehended what a difficult task there must be in front of any body like the Industrial Transference Board which is supposed to be finding work for those ordinarily employed in one industry in another industry. These figures are sufficient to show that the trade of the country is not in a prosperous condition. When we consider the question on the side of Poor Law relief, the variation is not so great from 1924 to 1928, but the appalling thing is the consistent number of persons in receipt of relief—1,205,000 in 1925, nearly 1,500,000 in 1926 and 1927, and over 1,300,000 at the beginning of this year. That is a terribly high average of those who, through no fault of their own, are compelled to become a burden on their fellows in this way. In 1927 it is actually worse by 177,000 than in 1925, when the task of the Government began.
§ Mr. GRIFFITH
The figures are for 1st January each year. The actual small improvement—the drop from 1,414,000 to 1,382,000 between 1927 and 1928—will be accounted for by a somewhat stiffer administration of the Poor Law, which, although in some cases it may be justified, in other cases has caused the most cruel hardship. Therefore, on all the tests of employment, the first and most vital test, shows that the trade of the country is very far from prosperous. If industry gets a move on, that move will be reproduced in the railway receipts. When people and goods are moving about 2146 the country it is a sign that there is real progress in industry. Instead of that, we find that, even comparing it with last year, the decline in railway receipts between the first 19 weeks of this year and the first 19 weeks of last year amounts to over £3,000,000. That is not in any one class of railway traffic; it is spread all over the traffic of the railways—passengers, merchandise, coal, and coke. There is a special decrease in receipts in things like grain, flour, cement, fruit, pottery, and two items to which I call particular attention, road stone and bricks. These are things which ought not, in the normal course, to be suffering from a lack of demand, for no one can pretend that the task of road making or house building is finished. Both these things are departments of our life in which private enterprise is not being left entirely alone; the Government have assumed a certain responsibility, and adopted a certain policy, yet, in spite of that, we have a falling off in the carriage of these important materials.
Turning to special trades, there is no need for me to say anything further about coal, because that has been fully dealt with, but the figures show that, even as compared with last year, which was not a good period, there is a decrease on the first 19 weeks of 1928, as compared with the same period in 1927, of 5,000,000 tons in production. For the first four months of 1928, as compared with 1927, there were 1,500,000 tons less in exports, and nearly 2,000,000 tons less as against 1925 and 1926. In the iron and steel industry, in which I should naturally take the greatest interest, but with which I do not want to deal from a Middlesbrough point of view, but from the point of view of the general trade of the nation, one finds a condition which is worse than last year—2,827,000 tons as against 3,358,000 tons. I hope that the answer given to me by the Minister will not concentrate on the very facile answer of putting the whole difficulty upon foreign importations, and of saying that, if we could by safeguards or other ways, keep our foreign imports, it would be well for iron and steel. I do not want to argue that question. I only wish to point out that here, at any rate, the imports have gone down too; they have 2147 gone down, as against last year, from 1,881,000 to 1,095,000 tons—a tremendous drop. Come to shipbuilding, if we take the difference between the first quarter of 1927 and the first quarter of 1928 there is a drop from 580,000 tons of commenced building to 342,000 tons, a drop of 248,000. The tonnage launched, on the other hand, has gone up tremendously by 279,000 tons, which shows that, as regards shipbuilding, we have just finished a great deal of work, but the amount of work which we are beginning is very small, as compared with last year. That is not a very comfortable prospect with which to face Whitsuntide holidays.
That appears to be the general condition all over industry. We have heard it openly stated in this House with regard to cotton, that bankruptcy is the only thing that can save that industry. The Prime Minister himself has said in other places that only a heavy cutting of losses will bring about any remedy. That would appear to be a heroic remedy, but it is not indicative of a healthy state of industry. As to agriculture, who is going to say any comfortable words about that most important department of life? In fact, in whatever part of industry you look, I can only find one grain of comfort, which I will give for what it is worth. The total exports appear to have gone up this year to £237,000,000 as against £223,000,000 last year. That is £14,000,000 increase in the total exports, which is undoubtedly an enormously important fact, but prosperity is not measured solely by exports. Imports, as showing the purchasing power of the country, are an equally important consideration, but, still, the increase of exports, for what it is worth, is to the credit of our present condition. We have to remember that, in a study of the statistics of exports, and other trade statistics, over a series of years, exports tend to lag behind the other statistics. The effect is produced some two or three months later, and there is reason to feel that this increase of exports, which we have had in the last few months, is not going to be maintained as the rest of the year goes on, 2148 because, if the other indications are unhealthy, it is not likely that the increase in exports will be maintained.
I have not been putting what I have said in any sense as an indictment of the Government—not to-day, at any rate. I am putting to them the view that the industry of the country is undoubtedly in a sick and ailing condition, and we want to know what the prospects of recovery are. We are not at this moment bringing an action against the nation's doctor for negligence. That may be done at another time. We are consulting the nation's doctor, asking what the prospects of recovery are, whether these conditions can be traced to purely temporary causes which will be removed in the course of time, and whether there are any factors which my analysis has missed —there may be many which are known to the Ministry—which lead to hope. If that can be shown to be the case, nobody will be more pleased than those on this side of the House, both below and above the Gangway; but if it be not so, if there are no such temporary causes accountable, if there are no such factors of improvement, then now, after these years of governing the country, when they are coming within measurable distance of rendering an account of their stewardship to the nation, I can only think the Government must be approaching that prospect with a mind full of doubt and apprehension—I am not speaking of electoral questions but of the future of the country which they are endeavouring to serve.
§ Captain WATERHOUSE
I am quite sure hon. Members have listened almost with tears in their eyes to the address of the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Griffith). It is always well to indulge in self-criticism, but one wonders why we should have inflicted upon us time after time these dreadful accounts of things that are happening and are going to happen to the industry of this country. For my own part, I see many dark spots, I know personally that there are great and grave troubles, but I believe the signs we see both in the textile and in the heavy trades do indicate a real improvement, though that improvement may be slow. We have devoted two or three hours this morning to considering the coal trade, and the remarks I want to make this afternoon 2149 have a definite bearing on that trade, because we realise that, do what we may in certain directions, the personnel of the coal trade is going to be reduced, and we have got, as and when we can, to find openings for those who are displaced. Within measurable distance of the great Midlands coalfield there is an industry, the hosiery industry, which has expanded perhaps more than any other during the course of the last few years. That industry employs a large number of juveniles and a large number of women, and without any great transplacement of labour it could render a real service to those who are unable to find employment in the coal mines of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. It is therefore with real alarm that we who are interested in that industry and in those who live by it have seen that the Committee were unable to recommend that safeguarding should be applied to the cotton section. I am not here as a protagonist of Tariff Reform. I am not here as what might be called a hard-boiled Protectionist. In these matters I frankly confess that I am opportunist. After all, Mr. Gladstone came into this House as a staunch Protectionist, but he led hon. Members on the other side in Free Trade. Mr. Joseph Chamberlain came into the House on the other side wedded to Free Trade, and led hon. Members on this side towards Protection. With instances of that sort—
§ Captain WATERHOUSE
The time is short, and so I do not want to multiply instances, but they could be multiplied by ones rather closer to the hon. Member than the case of which he speaks.
§ Captain WATERHOUSE
They shift from time to time. I am not going to argue the merits and demerits of Protection or even of safeguarding. I want to deal with the situation as it is and I would remind the House of what the Prime Minister said at the last election:While a general tariff is no part of our programme we are determined to safeguard the employment and standard of living of our people in any efficient industry in which 2150 they are imperilled by unfair competition by applying the principle of the Safeguarding of Industries Act or by analogous measures.I am not going to trace the origin of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, or to remind hon. Members opposite that they, with their free trade ideas, are themselves in large measure responsible through their leader for having put the first of those Acts on the Statute Book in 1921; but I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary if he realises the change which the Government have made in that Act. We have been accused of swinging towards Protection. It seems to me we have definitely swung in the other direction. Under Section 2 of that Act four things had to be proved by any industry applying for these measures of relief; to-day no less than eight separate requirements have to be satisfied. First, my right hon. Friend has to be satisfied, a Committee is set up and it has got to satisfy itself on these eight points, then it has got to satisfy the Minister with its findings, and finally we have the Finance Bill in this House, going through all its laborious stages. It is no wonder that many people speak of this procedure as illogical and unfair, and liken the difficulties of any industry applying for help to those of a man competing in an obstacle race.
From the outset the industry is faced by an unholy alliance of the merchants, the importers and the foreigners. The first two groups are members of an organisation in London which has fought many of these cases. They have behind them experience, valuable experience, and the cases are heard in London, and that is of real advantage to men who are members of an organisation whose headquarters are in London. Then they have the advantage of having agents in every part of the world whom they can instruct to collect evidence. They sift that evidence, they take what they want and discard what they do not want, and they bring over to this country in the form of private letters or affidavits all sorts of collected and assorted matter which is laid before the Committee.
§ Captain WATERHOUSE
The hon. Member says "Shame," and I can assure him that many of those applicants feel 2151 like crying "Shame" when they come before the Committee and are faced by what are termed facts but are statements which they well know have little relation to the facts. My right hon. Friend, whose absence to-day we all deplore, though his place is so very ably taken by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, said a little time ago that he could make no change in the terms of the White Paper during the life of the present Parliament. If that be the case, one must accept it, but I hope that he may be able to reconsider it. If it has to be accepted, let us face it out and see what we can do under the White Paper as it exists to-day. I venture to think there are certain directions in which real improvements can be made whereby greater fairness will be shown to applicants. First, I would refer Lo the constitution of the Committee. Under the White Paper it is laid down that of the five persons appointed by the Board of Trade, no person whose interests may be materially affected by any action which may be taken on the report of the Committee will be eligible for appointment. I wish to say that I respect those ladies and gentlemen who during the last three or four years have come forward and served without remuneration on those committees. They are ladies and gentlemen of very great ability, who have carried out their task with much ability, but I submit that in the main they are not capable of dealing with inquiries of this kind, they have not the type of mind or the training to make them capable of sifting evidence, and if we are to have a really fair inquiry we must have a committee of a semi-judicial character. [HON. MEMBERS "Hear, hear!"] I am glad we have support for that from the other side of the House, and if and when my right hon. Friend comes forward with an Amendment in this respect I hope cheers will come from that side again. I suggest that my right hon. Friend might set up a panel of, say, seven men of judicial capacity and pick his committees from that panel. I do not think it would be impossible to arrange for the remuneration of those gentlemen, and I do think it would enhance the value of the committees and redound to the credit of the Department of my right hon. Friend.
2152 On the question of procedure, the White Paper lays down under Section 4 that the Committee must have the power to determine its own procedure, but that statement does not in any way preclude the Minister from issuing a memorandum of advice on that which he thinks should be followed. I suggest that such a memorandum would be valuable in the extreme. One comes next to the interpretation of various sections of the White Paper. For example, Section 2 states:Whether goods of a class or description to which the application applies are being imported and retained in abnormal quantities.What exactly are abnormal quantities? It is a difficult thing to decide. In the recent inquiry on buttons, Mr. Faraday, who was appearing for the appellants, devoted five or 10 minutes to quotations from the speeches of my right hon. Friend in this House when trying to interpret those words. I submit that it is not desirable that speeches made in this House should be quoted in order to elucidate an order which is, in a way, comparable to an Act of Parliament. This is a matter deserving of careful attention from my right hon. Friend.
The question of evidence, is, perhaps, the most important point of all. These committees have no power to call for either persons or papers; they have no power to demand that any witness shall give evidence on oath; they have got to take what they are offered and sift it as well as they can. I want to give one or two examples which, I think, will prove to the House how this question of evidence has been abused in the past. On the worsted inquiry in 1926 we find the Committee saying:Having regard to the evidence adduced before us we are of opinion that the applicants have failed to establish inferior conditions of employment of labour either as regards remuneration or hours of employment.That statement seems to me to be absolutely ridiculous, because the hours are longer and the pay is a little more than one-third. I am not going to argue the merits of this case, but it is quite absurd to say that the conditions in the textile industry in Roubaix, in centres in Germany or in Belgium are comparable to those in this country to-day, much less 2153 in 1926, when this inquiry was undertaken. How can you reconcile such a statement with that made in the Committee dealing with the application by the button industry, their Report which was as follows:Wages are so different in the main competing countries from those which are enforced by a Trade Board in this country as to render the competition unfair, but the application was rejected because abnormal imports were not proved.Those two statements are absolutely counter to each other, and if the evidence had been properly submitted the Worsted Committee would not have been led to make a mistake of that sort.
§ Captain WATERHOUSE
On these matters we do not want an ex parte statement, but we want the truth. I do not want any industry to be protected if it does not need it, but if the necessity for protection is proved, then I think that particular trade should receive that assistance. We require a much fairer method of dealing with the whole procedure. In the financial supplement of the "Times" on 3rd May, I find the following passage dealing with buttons:Mr. Newey reveals the absurdity of the position by pointing out that evidence was given that large orders had been accepted by Newey Brothers, Limited below cost with the object of finding employment for the workers and in anticipation of relief under the Safeguarding Act. Unhappily for the firm, their action, admittedly taken in the interests of the workers, automatically reduced imports and thus led to the failure of the application.There is another parallel and equally striking case in the hosiery report in paragraph 16, which reads:For example, it was proved to our satisfaction that one important British firm were now able to compete successfully against the very cheap cotton hose imported from America, which was referred to at some length in our first Report.I am not able to give chapter and verse for this particular argument because the evidence was heard in camera, and it would be most improper for me to go into details. I can however say that an application was made to allow one of the directors of this firm to give evidence, but the opponents of the application objected to this gentleman being called 2154 because they said their statement was a confidential one. That witness was not called, but if he had appeared before the Committee he could have put a very different complexion on the case and shown that such a statement was without any foundation,
Mr. Allard, who so ably conducted the case on behalf of the applicants, was unable to cross-examine, since a statement was put in and no witness called. I propose now to give the House an example of a rather different sort dealing with evidence obtained from a foreign manufacturer, a company called the Durham Hosiery Company of the United States of America. The managing director of this company writes at the top of his statement:I!!!!Take oath and say as follows:In the fourth paragraph, after giving other figures, these words appear:The dyeing charges of the said stockings I estimate to be from 5¾ to 6¾ cents.I submit that such estimates are of no real value in an inquiry of this sort. We want facts and not estimates. Another company, the Perkins Hosiery Company of the United States of America, who seek to corroborate the Durham company's evidence, writes:It is with much regret that we cannot give you a statutory declaration.If those two statements were brought into a Court of Law, they would at once be ruled out, no cognisance would be taken of them, and no records of them be retained. Perhaps the most glaring instance of this sort of practice is a little incident connected with the Customs. I put a question on this point to the Parliamentary Secretary on Monday, and I received this reply:The extent of the informal consultation was that a Customs official telephoned the Secretary of the Committee to inquire how the Committee was progressing, and was told that generally the Report was likely to be adverse, but that there was a possibility of a duty on cotton hose and underwear. The Customs official made the comment that such a proposal might require some thinking over, and that was the extent of the consultation.On the strength of that consultation and that alone, the Committee inserted these words in their Report:We would further point out that in the event of the imposition of a duty on cotton 2155 hose and underwear, serious administrative difficulties would arise in the case of goods made of mixtures of cotton and other materials.
§ Captain WATERHOUSE
My hon. Friend shakes his head, but I must ask him what other evidence was called on this point. Who is to be the judge of what are serious administrative difficulties? Is it to be the Customs official or the gentlemen who constitute this committee? If it is to be the Customs officials, then they should be called to give evidence and should be examined and cross-examined, instead of simply having an informal consultation across the telephone. Under all these circumstances, I submit that there are adequate grounds to justify my right hon. Friend in imposing the duty asked for on cotton goods, for while certain of the committee's conclusions have been shown to be based on insufficient evidence—they themselves recommended a duty on cheap cotton goods—I hope something will be done for this industry which is now in a very parlous condition. We all realise the strides which the hosiery trade has made in artificial silk, and we realise that Leicester and Nottingham are going ahead in this direction, but to say that they have not a right to maintain their present position in the cotton trade is something which is absolutely unheard of in industry. If every new invention is to be allowed to replace an old-established trade, how can we possibly go on from prosperity to prosperity? Inventions ought to produce trades supplementary and not alternative to existing enterprises, and, on the larger issue, I hope I have convinced the Parliamentary Secretary that some change is absolutely necessary in the composition and the procedure of the committees.
§ Mr. STRAUSS
I happen to be connected with an industry which is supposed to have had the blessings of Protection conferred upon it for the last three years, and I have no hesitation in saying that after three years of that blessing it still remains in a very parlous condition. Therefore it is quite evident that tariffs are not a cure for all our ills.
§ Mr. STRAUSS
I am referring to the hop industry. I speak as a hop grower. Many optimistic prophecies have been put forward by various members of the Government in regard to the prospects of trade and industry. Recently the Chancellor of the Exchequer attracted the attention of this House, in fact he almost hypnotised humble back-benchers like myself by his Budget statement. When some of us regained our senses we realised that that wonderful speech only promised us something in 18 months' time, but, as a matter of fact, the Budget showed that we should have to bear additional taxation immediately, notwithstanding the fact that when the present Government took office they promised us that an annual reduction in our national expendiditure of £10,000,000 would certainly take place. I am afraid that as long as the present Government remain in office and they pursue their policy we cannot hope for any reduction in our national expenditure. No matter where we survey the whole field of industry, we encounter many disquieting features, and certainly the tragic spectre of unemployment remains and there is in that respect a very sad state of things.
The worst feature of all this is the deterioration of the people which is produced by unemployment. If we could only reduce our national expenditure and lighten the burden of taxation I am sure that would help our industries more than anything else. We must try to realise what it all means if we are not going to get any help until October, 1929, when we have been promised that the Rating Act will be in operation. Meanwhile we may have a General Election. One question we must ask ourselves is: Can we maintain our present position as a great industrial country for the next 18 months without a helping hand? Some time ago we were informed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that a Civil Research Committee was going to be set up. Has it been set up, and what is it doing? Is it reporting? Personally, I believe that such a Committee might be of the greatest benefit for investigation and co-ordination, especially if such a Committee can have the assistance and the advice of experts. They would be able to discover the weak spots in our industries. They would certainly be able to report whether an industry is carried 2157 on in an efficient manner. After all, the worst thing for any country is to subsidise inefficient industry. The indications that the industries of this country are not in a satisfactory condition are many, as has already been pointed out.
Speaking from a trader's point of view, what we want, above everything else in this country, is cheap transport. It is the life blood of trade and industry to no small extent. Our railway rates are higher in this country than in any European country. After all, we are an island nation. We depend for our existence on our exports and imports. I should like to know why it costs more to load and unload a vessel in British ports than on the Continent of Europe. Those are matters with which I hope the hon. Member representing the Board of Trade will deal. I admit that the wages in this country are higher than in Continental countries, but, on the other hand, labour in this country is far more efficient. From personal experience, I have no hesitation in saying that the ordinary British workman can do more work in a given number of hours than a Belgian, a Frenchman or even a German. Though we pay higher wages in this country, we get better service, and that counter-balances the higher wages paid. There is another point I should like to put to him. Why should goods be shipped from, let us say, the United States to Antwerp, transhipped there and sent to Ireland at a lower rate than via London or Liverpool? Those are very vital matters which will certainly require the attention and examination of the Board of Trade. After all, what has this Government done for international trade? I admit that they have done one thing. They have established an Empire Marketing Board, but, after all, charity commences at home. Has that Empire Marketing Board done much for the industries of this country? I believe it has done something—and I am glad of it—for the trade of the Dominions, but it is being paid for by British money and not by the money of the Dominions.
§ Mr. STRAUSS
I am talking of British goods. What industries in this country have benefited by the Empire Marketing Board? The only advertisement I have noticed that might benefit 2158 British goods is the one asking the people of this country to drink more milk. This activity does not help British goods to any great extent. The Empire Marketing Board was set up because the Government could not carry out their policy of preferential tariffs for the Dominions, and it was to console or compensate them for the fact that this country would not have preferential tariffs. What has this Government done to help the position in which so many people in this country find themselves? We all know that there is a shortage of houses. Many people in this country live under disgraceful conditions of overcrowding. On the other hand, we were told the other day that the number of houses under construction is 50 per cent. less than at this time last year. Surely, there is no shortage of labour in the building trade. Every muscle ought to be strained to see that all the houses possible are built for the working classes. Yet many workers in the building trade are out of employment. It is ridiculous to think that we have solved the question of housing. We have only touched the fringe of it.
Another suggestion of mine is this: In this great Metropolis there is enormous traffic congestion. One way of dealing with the problem is to build more bridges—many more bridges in fact. We have heard a great deal for years about a Charing Cross bridge, which is going to be built, but so far nothing has been done except to talk and inquire about it. Why has the work not been done? Because of lack of co-ordination. I am sure, if the Government were in earnest to try and help the industries of this country, they could do something. I appeal to the hon. Gentleman representing the Board of Trade, whose characteristic energy we all know, to do his utmost and to take every possible step to do something for the industries of this country, not in 18 months' time, not in October, 1929, but at once.
§ Mr. RYE
I understand the hon. Member for North Southwark (Mr. Strauss) stated at the opening of his speech that safeguarding was no benefit to anybody. That is not the view taken by those interested in the hosiery trade, about which I wish to speak this afternoon. They, at all events, ought to be able to know their own business, and they cer- 2159 tainly think that safeguarding would be of assistance to them, because two applications have already been made for the purpose of obtaining safeguarding. It is in connection with the second application and the report made by the Committee in connection with that application that I wish to address a few remarks to the House. In company with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Leicester (Captain Waterhouse), I very fully appreciate the services rendered by those who take their place on these Committees. I recognise that they devote an immense amount of time to them, take every possible care, and do their best. At the same time, I suggest that certain of those persons, who were set up to deal with the hosiery question, have not sufficient special knowledge and skill and have not sufficiently judicial minds to deal with the question that came before them. I am going to put to the House certain facts and to ask the House to consider whether that Report was altogether fair to those who came before the Committee. I am not going to suggest they were not treated with the utmost courtesy, because there is no question about that. But I do suggest that some of them had no legal training, and I do so at the risk of meeting the gibe "Lawyers are no good." I do not agree with it. I am one myself. My personal experience is that, whenever you find lawyers sitting on Committees or taking part in municipal or other work, they have done their work well. I am going to suggest, as I did in a question I put to the President of the Board of Trade yesterday, that the personnel of these Committees ought to be changed. I do not think that those who take part in the class of work that comes before them have the adequate knowledge, have the mind, as my hon. and gallant Friend put it, to deal adequately with the questions that arise.
As regards the second application, I would remind the House that those who represented the hosiery industry made their application practically at the invitation of the Committee in their first Report. I want to emphasise that, and I would like to read to the House what I take to have been the invitation that they gave. It is contained in paragraph 41 of the first Report, in which they made the following statement: 2160If, on the other hand, the importation of cotton hose and half-hose and cotton underwear continues to increase, as is the tendency at present, accompanied by an increase in unemployment, the Committee would suggest that the applicants should be afforded a further opportunity of putting forward fresh evidence on the question of costs of production, and more particularly on the effect of mass production and standardisation on such costs of production, as the information furnished to us was not sufficiently definite to enable us to come to any conclusion in the matter.I read that as an invitation, and those engaged in the hosiery industry also looked upon it as such, and, accordingly, they came forward with their second application. I am going to tell the House shortly what they succeeded in proving, and I am going to show that by a reference to the second Report of the Committee.
They proved that there had been a very material increase in the imports during the period from 1924 to 1927—I am dealing, of course, with cotton hose and cotton underwear, because these were the primary subjects of the application. The application was in regard to cotton goods and woollen goods. The figures showed that the import of cotton hose was a record one in the year 1927, and the figures regarding that are set out in paragraphs 8 and 9 of the Committee's Report. In 1924, the cotton hose imported into this country was of the value of £695,471. In 1927, the figure had risen to £1,217,983, or very nearly double; and, although there was no increase in the value of the cotton underwear imported, there was an increase in the quantity of these goods brought into this country. To give the figures for the volume of goods imported, I find that, of hose, there were imported, in 1924, 3,270,566 pairs, while the quantity of underwear imported was 2,211,415 dozen, and the Committee themselves reported that there was an abnormal importation of this particular class of goods. Then the Committee dealt with the question of wages, and they reported, as set out in paragraph 22, that they found that in certain competing countries the wages paid were below the rate of wages paid in Great Britain. The House will see, therefore, that, up to that stage, the applicants had made out their case both on the question of imports and on the question of wages. The Committee, in paragraph 14, reaffirmed their previous 2161 finding on the first application, that, in the case of cotton hose and cotton underwear,goods of the class or description to which the application relates were being imported into or retained for consumption in this country in abnormal quantities.That was not a statement made on behalf of the applicants, but was the decision of the Committee. Finally, in paragraph 26, the Committee expressed the opinion that, with regard to cheap cotton underwear and, to a lesser degree, to cheap cotton hose, including half-hose, the applicants had made out a case in accordance with the Regulations laid down in the White Paper.
Anyone reading that Report would have thought at that stage that the Committee were going unhesitatingly to recommend the imposition of a duty, but, astonishing though it may seem, they decided that they were not able to do so on the ground that: they could not differentiate and separate the classes of goods that were the subject of the application. The application, as I have already said, was made in respect of cotton hose and cotton underwear and of woollen hose and woollen underwear. Undoubtedly, the applicants did not satisfy the Committee on the subject of woollen goods, but it is quite certain that they satisfied the Committee on the subject of cotton goods. For some reason, however, which I find it very difficult to understand, and which those engaged in the hosiery industry certainly do not understand—and I think one may fairly say that they are very dissatisfied with the results—the Committee came to the conclusion that they could not separate the two classes of goods; they said that that did not come within their terms of reference. I do not know why they should have arrived at that conclusion, for, according to the terms of reference, the Committee was reconstitutedTo consider whether having regard to their previous Report, the present position of the hosiery and knitwear industry is or is not such as would justify the imposition of any, and, if so, what, import duty on hosiery and knitwear of cotton or wool.It was not an application in respect of cotton and wool, but an application in respect of cotton or wool, and one would have thought that, once a case was made out for one or other of them, it was well within the province of the Committee to 2162 decide to recommend the imposition of a duty to give protection to the one in regard to which a case had been made out.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
On a point of Order. May I respectfully ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether the hon. Gentleman is in order in attacking a Committee set up under the Safeguarding of Industries Act—in attacking their conduct and their findings in this way? Are they not in a judicial position, and protected from such criticisms.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Much criticism of these tribunals has come from Members on my left. It seems to depend on which way the decision goes. I have not yet heard that these Committees are judicial bodies. I think that the hon. Member is quite in order.
§ Mr. RYE
It would be exceedingly difficult for me to make my point as to the necessity for changing the personnel of these Committees unless I were able to refer to the matters which I have mentioned. As I was saying, I do not see why, in view of the terms of reference, the Committee should not have come to a decision on the question of cotton goods, a case in regard to which had been clearly established. I would remind the House that there is a precedent for that, because, on a recent application relating to buttons, pins, hooks and eyes and snap fasteners, the Committee which dealt with that application came to the conclusion that no case had been made out for anything but buttons, but they did recommend the imposition of a duty in respect of buttons. There you have one Committee saying that they could separate various classes of goods, and actually separating them and recommending the imposition of a duty in respect of one of them.
In this present case there was an application relating to two classes of goods, and it would seem to me to be singularly unfortunate and unfair to applicants if, in consequence of their having to bring within their application another class of goods, they should be turned down and refused protection merely because they were unable to show, in regard to a minor part of their application, that there was need of safeguarding. Here there was, on the very finding of the Committee itself, a good case made out. If 2163 they made out their case would it not have been reasonable for the Committee to decide in their favour? I will put an analogous case. Suppose an industry comprising 20 different units made an application, and suppose it was proved beyond a shadow of doubt that in 19 of those cases it was necessary to give protection in consequence of unfair foreign competition, would any Committee be justified in refusing to make an award in favour of the applicants merely because it was shown that the 20th unit was in a prosperous state and able to meet foreign competition? I do not think that is too extreme a case to put and it bears cut my contention.
Of course, it will be said by the Parliamentary Secretary that it was not merely on this ground that the Committee decided against the applicants. They also decided that there was not sufficient evidence of unemployment, and that as a fact unemployment in the industry as a whole was quite low. The figures in 1925 were 8.4, and in 1927 they had gone down to 5.75. That, on the face of it, would seem to be a very good reason hut, as a fact, part of this industry is doing badly—that is the part that applied for assistance—and not only that, but the figures that are given of unemployment in the hosiery trade really do not indicate the state of affairs in that industry, because of the under-employment. It is not only a question of whole employment but there is a great deal of under-employment. I understand that when times are bad, and unfortunately times are very bad indeed when we have this foreign competition, and we have goods brought here and offered at prices with which we cannot compete, it is not the custom of the hosiery people to turn their workers away and re-engage them when times are better, but to keep them on and to parcel out the work amongst them as best they can, so that they are partially employed. They are not sufficiently under-employed to enable them to go on the register and draw the dole, and therefore there is no record of this underemployment.
As evidence of that, I have a statement of production and employment of 30 firms for the three months ending 2164 25th December, 1926. I believe it was given before the Committee. It shows that there were 6,355 machines available, only 3,072 in full use, and 3,283 idle, and the percentage of machines that were idle is 51.6 and the value £250,000. The capacity was 1,063,760 dozen and the actual output was 506,422 dozen, or practically half. That is underwear. Then I have the figures for hose and half-hose. There the machines available were 8,558, in full use, 3,013, idle, 5,545, and the percentage of machines idle was 64.8. That shows that there is a considerable amount of under-employment, which is the equivalent of unemployment, in the industry. If any further evidence is required, I have received a letter from a firm of hosiery manufacturers. I shall be very happy to give it to the Parliamentary Secretary afterwards. Obviously, it would not be fair to read out the names. They refer to six firms. In regard to the first, they say that they have not made half-time for two years, and the second have not made half-time since last August. The third have spent, as they put it, a large amount of time on the dole, the next firm unfortunately have met with financial disaster, the next have the whole of their men practically out of work, and my informants themselves have had no plain work, by which they mean plain half-hose without fancy work, for 12 months. That is the position in the industry, and I suggest that a case was made out. I join in the plea made to the Parliamentary Secretary to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether that Report of the Committee cannot be reconsidered.
My hon. Friend, when he replies, may refer to a point that was raised by the Committee on the subject of unemployment and on the subject of these machines being interchangeable. I am told that is not the case, and that, so far as the manufacture of cotton hose and underwear is concerned, there could not be an interchange for the purpose of manufacturing, we will say, silk or artificial silk garments and hose. Generally, while very fully appreciating the services which have been rendered by the lady and gentlemen who formed the Committee, I think the time has come when the House ought to consider both a change in procedure and in personnel. I do not think it is right that these in- 2165 quiries should be held in what is really quite an informal way. Evidence is not taken on oath. There are informal conversations, extracts from documents are read, the original documents may or may not be produced, and the applicants or the objectors, as the case may be, frequently have not an opportunity of cross-examining witnesses. The procedure is entirely wrong. It should be laid down by the Board of Trade so that at least there is uniformity, so that you do not have one state of affairs before one Committee and another before another. But, above all, I make a plea for a change in the character of the Committees. I hope the House will as soon as possible see its way to make an alteration in the regulations of the White Paper, so as to have some official referee, or the equivalent, put in charge to take these inquiries. It will be said they are dealing with commercial matters and they naturally require the attention of someone versed in commercial pursuits. The answer to that is that in the Law Courts commercial cases are dealt with by a Judge in the ordinary way, and it is only in the Admiralty Court that an expert assesor sits with the Judge to assist him. That could be done in these cases if the Committee were done away with and some individual having legal training was placed in charge. In these circumstances I trust my hon. Friend will see his way to accept the plea which has been put in by my hon. and gallant Friend and supported by myself.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
I think the House will agree that the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Rye) has done his duty by those of his constituents who are interested in the hosiery trade. I do not propose to follow him into the details of the arguments he raised, because I have not made myself familiar with the report of that Committee, but I do propose to traverse some of the arguments which have been put by the hon. and gallant Member for South Leicester (Captain Waterhouse). I think the hon. and gallant Member summed up the weakness of his own case, and the weakness of every case put forward for the protection of industry, in a passage towards the end of his remarks, when, if I am not misinterpreting him—and I am prepared to amend it if I am—he said that although there were, it was true, new industries coming into existence, we must 2166 still hold on to the old industries; that the new industries must not replace but must be supplementary to the old industries. I think that that was the hon. and gallant Member's argument. Let me put it in another way. It is perfectly true that motor omnibuses are faster, more convenient, and cheaper than horse omnibuses, but it is quite wrong that they should replace horse omnibuses; they should only be brought in in order to be supplementary to horse omnibuses. We should keep the horse omnibus, and have the horse omnibus and the motor omnibus travelling side by side. That, I think, is the same argument put in another form.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
Does not the hon. Member know that for door-to-door traffic the horse is much more practicable?
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
I have no doubt that the hon. and learned Member, speaking of a district with which he is familiar, has advanced a perfectly good argument, but in those streets of London through which I usually pass, the omnibuses do not travel from door to door. They really go quite considerable distances without stopping, and it is for this reason that the motor omnibus has supplanted the horse omnibus. The argument of the hon. and gallant Member is that for all purposes both should be continued side by side. May I turn from that to one of the chief arguments brought forward by the hon. and gallant Member in support of hill contention, where he was joined—I am not quite sure whether he was joined or whether he was criticised—by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Loughborough. The hon. and gallant Member for South Leicester pleaded for a judicial element on these committees. That, I think, was the contention. The hen. Member for Loughborough, on the other hand, said that his complaint against the Committee which sat on the hosiery application was twofold. First of all, they had no special knowledge of the subjects which would make them competent to sift the evidence, and, secondly, they had not a judicial mind. The hon. Member must make up his mind what he wants. Does he want a committee of experts or does he want a judicial committee, because he has not asked for the same thing as the hon. and gallant Member.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
I can only say that I took down the words of the hon. Member, and his complaint was that they had not the special knowledge or skill in regard to that particular trade to enable them to sift evidence.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
Any way, the two hon. Members are joined together in demanding a judicial element on the committee. For my part—and I have not consulted my hon. Friends—I welcome that. The hon. and gallant Member for South Leicester brought forward other questions. He complained that somebody from America had made an estimate instead of giving facts. Sometimes we have to rely upon estimates. I saw the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was in the Chamber some time ago, and we have to rely upon his estimates sometimes. They are not always accurate. Very often in a Court of Law you have to rely upon estimates, but cross-examination, I admit, may show weaknesses in those estimates. Cross-examination on oath may make a person give his estimates much more carefully.
Sheltering behind your ruling of a few minutes ago, Mr. Speaker, and as I see that the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Ken-worthy) has now gone, I am going to say a few words about these committees. The requirements contained in the White Paper have to be satisfied before an industry can secure safeguarding, but I assert that there is not one of these requirements which at some time or other has not been disregarded by a committee which has granted a safeguarding duty, not a single one. I am going to make a suggestion to the Parliamentary Secretary in a few minutes for the 2168 amendment of the White Paper, but, before doing so, I would say that if the hon. and gallant Member had really examined the findings of these committees, had examined the figures given before them, and had then taken the trouble to follow up the subsequent revelations as to how those figures have been garbled and cooked—whether consciously or unconsciously, I am not going to say, but over and over again the figures upon which applications have been heard and duties have been levied have been shown to be totally false—then he would join with us in asking that the evidence which is brought forward by applicants should be subjected to judicial examination, and, if possible, given on oath.
I want to go into another question to which the hon. and gallant Member referred. He talked, as I came in, near the beginning of his speech, about the unholy alliance. The unholy alliance, so far as I was able to understand him, was an alliance between the merchant, the importer, and, as he said, the foreigner. That is the unholy alliance. Really, after all these years of controversy on this Free Trade question, it passes my comprehension that an hon. and gallant Member, able so to impress his personality on a large number of electors in any constituency, however remote from civilisation, or in whatever distant part of the country, as to secure election to this House, should give utterance to a sentence which expresses such a pro found ignorance of the conditions of the trade.
§ Captain WATERHOUSE
I think the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that whether an alliance is holy or not depends on the object of the alliance, and, if these gentlemen combine to bring goods into the country, well and good, but, if they combine to stop trade and wages in this country, it is all to the bad.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
I think the hon. and gallant Member has made even more clear the misapprehension under which he is labouring. He reminds me of an hon. Member of his party who a few months ago talked about people throwing things over our back gardens. Surely hon. Members do not imagine that any merchant is foolish enough to import goods into this country unless 2169 there is a market here of British people who want to buy them. [interruption.] But the hon. and gallant Member talked about an unholy alliance between the importer and the foreigner. He means the foreigner who makes the goods and the importer who introduces the goods into this country.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
I very much regret having missed any of the hon. and gallant Member's speech. It will be a matter of lasting regret to me. But I shall read it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. What I did hear of the hon. and gallant Member's speech convinced me that I have interpreted him rightly. It is absurd to suggest that there is any kind of conspiracy on the part of these people who are importing goods that the people of this country want to buy. If the hon. Member did not mean that, then I fail to see that there could] have been any meaning in what he said. Even his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft), who has now left the House, is, at last, beginning to learn. In an interruption he said: "Surely you know that goods are paid for by goods." We welcome that statement as a sign of dawning intelligence. If that be accepted, the arguments of the hon. and gallant Member for South Leicester on the merits of this case obviously fall to the ground. At any rate, the hon. and gallant Member has failed to convince me.
I said that I would make a suggestion. I wonder if the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade will be good enough to consider my suggestion. When a man is out of work or is not able to support himself, before he receives extended benefit, or what is called the dole, he has first of all to prove, as a condition of receiving the dole, that he is genuinely seeking work. There have been many Debates in the House on the definition of the term "genuinely seeking work." I suggest that when these mendicant industries go to the Board of Trade to get a dole, because in essence it is exactly the same thing, they, also, should show that they are genuinely seeking work. In all these inquiries, almost without exception, it has been 2170 clearly shown that the industries which have been granted the benefits of safeguarding are industries which are very far from being up to date and efficient. I need only mention the paper industry as one that comes to my mind as an instance of these industries which are not doing their best. If the man who gets out of work has to prove that he is genuinely seeking work, so should the industry.
We hear, we shall hear, and we shall hear more of it between now and the General Election, and we shall hear it most insistently at the General Election, about the so-called success of the Safeguarding Duties. I say, as I have said before, that so far from these Safeguarding Duties having been a success they have been a complete failure. They have demonstrably destroyed trade in this country and they have not helped the industry concerned, where they were supposed to help them. The case against safeguarding or any kind of protection, no matter by what name we call it, does not merely consist in showing that the industry concerned has not benefited. We can all understand that in a Free Trade country in a Free Trade world, if one industry is protected it is likely that that particular industry will benefit, but it can only benefit at the expense of somebody else. Hon. Members will make the fullest use of the fact that there may be particular benefit that can be shown in regard to any one industry; but the harm which is done, and which is undoubted, can by no means exactly be specified. Where the Government are going to fall on this question lies in this, that whereas they may be able to show that here and there a few more people have been employed, the total unemployment in the industries of this country under this Government has scarcely perceptibly fallen from the day that they first took office. There are many ways in which the Government can legitimately help trade. They have not helped trade; they have only tried to help specific industries at the expense of the rest of the community.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I had hoped that the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), who gave me notice last night that he was going to speak to-day, would have risen.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I never said anything of the sort. I happened to speak to my hon. Friend in the corridor—it is not usual to repeat these things—and I said that we proposed to raise this issue, but I never said that I intended to speak.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I apologise if I misunderstood my right hon. Friend. I did understand him to say that he intended to speak, and as I notice that he has a sheaf of papers, I naturally assumed that he was going to give us one of his disquisitions on trade, which we always listen to with pleasure, because they are the only occasions, as a rule, when we have the pleasure of seeing him here. I am particularly sorry that he has not spoken, because I was hoping that he would have continued the very interesting disquisition which he gave in my constituency last Saturday, when the proceedings were enlivened by community singing. On the arrival of the right hon. Gentleman they sang: "Why was he born so beautiful?" Judging from the condition of his hon. Friends who have addressed the House, I think the song ought to have been: "Why was he born so pessimistic?"
I am a little distressed that the Members of the Liberal party, who have enjoyed themselves so much this afternoon by speaking, have spent all their time pointing out how badly this country is situated. The hon. Member for North Southwark (Mr. Strauss) deplored the fact that one industry had not prospered from safeguarding. He referred to the hop industry. Judging from the speeches which we have heard in the House, the condition of the hop industry, presumably, arises more from the habits of the Liberal party than from the effects of safeguarding. Therefore, I think the hon. Member for North Southwark had better turn to his own political friends rather than attack us. The same hon. Member deplored the fact that the new rating scheme is not to come into operation until the rate demand in October next year. He said that was very disappointing. I am very glad to get from him that tribute to the scheme. The only grievance he has against it is that it will be delayed in coming into operation. His leader took an entirely different point of view when he was speaking in my constituency last Satur- 2172 day. He pointed out what a poor scheme it was, that it would not do any good to anybody and that it was a fraud. He used all the list of adjectives of which he is such a master. I hope the hon. Member for North Southwark and the right hon. Gentleman will decide where precisely they stand on this matter.
The hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Griffith), by a judicious selection of unfavourable statistics, proved that this country was really on the verge of collapse. No one who follows the situation can be satisfied. We have had since the end of 1920 a volume of unemployment which, except for one or two occasional weeks at very favourable seasons, has not dropped below one million. I am relying upon the live register figures, which give the figures for unemployed persons whether over or under 65. Whatever the age may be and whether they are insured or not, if they are seeking employment, whether they are in benefit or out of benefit, they are included in these figures, which are published in the Press every Wednesday. [Interruption.] At any rate, they are the figures which we commonly use. The return does happen to include a number of people who are employed but who may be seeking change of occupation. I am now dealing with the figure which we all use, and anyone who has studied it carefully will know that it has not differed very materially from another figure, which one can arrive at by examining the statistics relating to insured persons. It is a satisfactory figure to take; it is a fair comparative figure. As the hon. Member pointed out, the position with regard to unemployment at this particular moment is rather worse than it was this time last year, but for the greater part of this year the figures were somewhat lower than the figures for last year. For the last month the other condition has been shown, and the Debate which preceded the present discussion indicated the explanation for it. The condition in the coal mining industry has extended to certain allied industries, but if you look at the other industries of the country different conditions prevail.
I am one of those who believe in what is called safeguarding. When a Committee reports favourably I rejoice, when it reports unfavourably I am sorry. I 2173 am naturally sorry that my hon. Friends from Leicester did not get a more satisfactory report. The hon. Member for West Middlesbrough represents a constituency in which unemployment on April 16th was 12 per cent., while the hon. Member for Leicester represents a city where it is 3.9 per cent. It is well for us to realise that there are parts of the country where unemployment is comparatively low, as well as parts of the country where unemployment continues to be deplorably bad. His Majesty's Government are not content with that position, and they have agreed on the notable scheme put forward by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the rating scheme, which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carvarvon Boroughs deplores because it has been introduced by the Tory party, and the other hon. Member because it does not come into operation before October, 1929.
§ Mr. STRAUSS
I did not say it was a success, but that it is the only thing suggested by the Government.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The hon. Member has had ten minutes in which to think over my earlier remark and he has now found an answer which, however, I do not think is very apt. The hon. Member for West Middlesbrough drew attention to certain statistics with regard to poor law relief. It fluctuates for a variety of causes. A large proportion of the people in receipt of poor law relief are not unemployed, indeed, the majority are not unemployed persons, and the fluctuations in poor law relief are not conclusive evidence as to the conditions prevailing in the country. They may be an evidence as to the practice of boards of guardians. I know three boards of guardians in a district where unemployment is heavy, where the industries are similar, and where the rate of unemployment does not differ materially. In one area the number in receipt of poor law relief per thousand is 105, in the next area it is 250, and in the third area it is 498. This is entirely due to the different practice of these three boards of guardians in granting relief, and when you have this kind of variation in three districts close together it is unwise to draw conclusions.
By a judicious selection of statistics, I could prove satisfactory figures in regard to poor law relief. At the end of March 2174 this year in England and Wales there were 1,183,000 persons in receipt of domiciliary or institutional relief, that is leaving out lunatics. If I go back to the end of March, 1924, I get a figure of 1,226,000, so that since that date there has been a decrease of 43,000. By a careful selection I could prove anything I liked. But that is not the way to examine the general economic situation of the country, and it is rather a pity the hon. Member should have gone out of his way and by a selection of suitable statistics, should try to prove to the people of this country, and, what is worse, to the foreigner, that this country rather in a down and out condition, a proposition which does not really repreesnt the situation at all. If you turn from unemployment to employment you will find that there are 500,000 more people at work in this country than when the present Government took office. There are more people at work at this moment than ever before in the history of the country. Though I recognise and deplore the condition of unemployment that prevails, in certain industries, at the same time I recognise in a way that the hon. Member does not, the inroad which foreign competition has made on some of our industries. The hon. Member's only purpose was to tell us that we were in a bad condition without throwing out any, constructive suggestion whatever.
§ Mr. GRIFFITH
I did quote the figures of exports as an important factor. I quoted the figures of worse years than the present. The Parliamentary Secretary is not entitled to misrepresent me.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
But with regard to exports the hon. Member said, "What do exports prove? The real thing which tests the condition of a country is its imports, which represent the purchasing power of the country." Having quoted exports and said that they were the only favourable figure, the hon. Member immediately proceeded to discount them.
§ Mr. GRIFFITH
I distinctly told the House that I regarded the export figures as a very valuable sign, but I suggested that they might not be maintained.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I agree that exports are a measure of past activity. The sole purpose of the hon. Member's 2175 speech was to point out that at this moment we are in a bad way. There was not one ray of hope in his speech, and not one solitary proposal as to what might be done to help the country.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The hon. and gallant Member says it is the Government's job to do it. Surely every patriotic citizen who has a bright idea, ought to place that bright idea at the service of his fellow citizens he ought not to be so narrow-minded that he is not prepared to do that.
Lieut.-Commander KENWO RTHY
I put this forward as one. Will you get out of office and give us a chance?
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I do not see anything bright about that suggestion. I will not say it is an immodest suggestion but rather a suggestion lacking in modesty. Let us survey the situation and go back to the end of 1920, when we first had this great volume of unemployment. We can see the fluctuations. We see the appalling result of the mining dispute of 1921, and then the gradual restoration, to which all parties made their contribution. Then the further reaction created in the early part of 1924 and continued through the summer of that year and in 1925. There was the settlement of the Ruhr Valley dispute and the general restoration of competitive productivity on the Continent. Then we had, as a consequence, the great dispute of 1926. Gradually we recovered from that, and just at the moment the unemployment statistics indicate some temporary reaction—I believe it is temporary.
Surely it is very much better not just to decry the condition of our own country, but to do something to boost it up. We have lost a great deal of trade abroad because other nations have been led to believe, by published statements in this country, that this country was no longer in a position to compete effectively in the trade of the world. I have been 2176 subjected to attacks from two sides. For a time the fire missed me because it was directed from one side to the other. The White Paper, of course, is not a statutory document. It is an administrative document, approved by the Cabinet, and, as I was instructed and authorised to state on the 21st March, the Government do not propose to alter the general procedure laid down in the White Paper during the lifetime of the present Parliament. That statement merely reiterated what was said by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 12th April last year in answer to a question put by the hon. and learned Member for Cleveland (Sir Park Goff):The representations made on this subject to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade have been very carefully considered, but the Government are not prepared to modify the procedure and conditions laid down in the White Paper."—OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th April, 1927; col. 171, Vol. 205.]That is a definite statement of policy from which I am not authorised to depart, and it must be accepted definitely that the Government are not prepared to depart from that policy during the life of the present Parliament, The Debate to-day has been, to some extent, an attack on the safeguarding committees. I do not think anyone has sought to attack them personally. The attack directed against them has been on the ground that they have not been selected in a suitable way. These gentlemen—and ladies—are volunteers and all have worked devotedly. They have been criticised on the ground that they are not judicial. They are criticised for not being judicial when the verdict has not been satisfactory from the point of view of the critics. The hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. Crawfurd) made a graver charge which he did not attempt to substantiate and which cannot be substantiated, namely, that not one single committee had failed to ignore one or other of the conditions in the White Paper. T do not think that is true. T have read all these reports and I find that the committees all follow the same practice. After a general survey of the trade, they give specific answers to each question and give the reasons for those answers. I think it is a most unfair attack for the hon. Member to make on the personnel of any of the committees to say that they have ignored these conditions.
2177 We have all to realise that the verdicts of these committees are essentially verdicts of opinion. They represent opinion based on fact, but none the less it is a matter of giving an opinion, having got all the information. For example there is the question of whether employment is being or has been adversely affected. Take the difficulty of expressing an opinion like that in the case which we have been considering this afternoon. The hosiery industry is rapidly expanding and each year, broadly speaking, it employs substantially more people than it did in the previous year. Owing to changes in fashion and the introduction of new materials it is an expanding industry. Unemployment in that industry has been falling. The latest figure is 5¾ per cent. The figure quoted in the report was 5; per cent. and when the last inquiry took place it was 8.4 per cent. There is an indication that that industry, at any rate, has made marked progress. It is true that so far as one section is concerned—the section making cotton hose and cotton underwear—there is evidence of abnormal importation and there is also certain presumptive evidence that, as a consequence, less cotton underwear and less cotton hose are being produced in this country. But the people who might have been making those things must have found employment in producing other forms of hosiery, because there is no evidence that they have been driven out of the industry.
There is an expansion in the number of people registered as belonging to the industry and a decrease in the number unemployed. As I have said I rejoice when a safeguarding committee brings in a favourable report, but when you regard the stringent nature of the White Paper—and no one denies that it is a very rigid document—I think that the part of the applicant under the White Paper is even more difficult than was that of Christian past the Slough of Despond. It is not easy, it was not intended to be easy, but we have to recall the political conditions that were prevailing at the General Elections of 1923 and 1924, and that this document gives expression to pledges of the Prime Minister which had both positive and negative features. It it a difficult document to overcome.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I do not really see that it is possible to bring a charge of injudicial interpretation of evidence against the Hosiery Committee because in paragraph 19, I think, they found themselves unable to recommend a duty very largely because of the evidence with regard to unemployment.
There is the other point raised, about the famous telephone conversation. I really would like to assure my hon. Friend that there is nothing in that telephone conversation. I have made the most exhaustive inquiries, and I am perfectly satisfied that there had been no what I would call improper conveyance of evidence to the Committee. It is part of the duty of Customs officials to plan out what steps they are going to take to administer effectively any new duty, and, although I have no personal experience of collecting Customs duties, I imagine that a new duty involves some difficulty and for a time things do not seem to work quite smoothly. If the Customs have some time in advance in which to make arrangements the inconvenience is minimised, and it does not seem improper that the Customs official who may be concerned in administering a new duty should want to have some advance information as to whether or not it is likely to be imposed.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I do not know, but some reasonable time. A Customs official asks the Secretary of the Committee whether a duty is likely to be imposed. He is told that, so far as the whole trade is concerned, it is improbable, but that there is a possibility of a duty on cotton underwear and cotton hosiery; and the Customs official merely remarks that, if that is the case, it will want some thinking over. That did not influence the Committee in the slightest degree. The reason why the words "serious administrative difficulties" were inserted in the Report was, according to the inquiries that I have made, that samples were produced by the trade at the inquiry—samples made of cotton, wool, and mixed materials—and the Committee, after the examination of those samples and after asking questions 2179 about them, came to the conclusion that if you had a duty on the cotton hose only, without introducing the others, serious administrative difficulties would result. That is the justification, and, it seems to me, the sufficient justification, for putting in those words.
The hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Rye) was particularly emphatic on the subject that the committees were not judicial. I would, with great respect. submit to him that it is not necessarily the case that every lawyer is judicially minded, and it is not necessarily the case that every person who is not the lawyer has not a judicial mind. It is the purpose always, in selecting these committees, to try and get fair-minded people, people with a sufficient knowledge of trade and industry and manufacture, who can appreciate the evidence that is put before them, and yet at the same time to select people who have no personal interest in the particular application under consideration; and I think that, taking these committees as a whole, they have done their work very judicially indeed. I think that one can build up quite a strong case that, instead of having an ad hoc committee for each particular inquiry, you should have a permanent Standing Committee. It is very debatable. I am not going to express any opinion one way or the other. You could make a good case for it. Equally well, you could make a case against it on the ground that committees limited to three or four people might at times be hampered, and they would not, in dealing with some inquiries, be able to arrive at satisfactory decisions, because there was a lack of technical knowledge. Taken on the whole, committees have done their work very well, and I want to pay my tribute to them.
We have had attention drawn to the great variation of the conditions in industry in the country. Hon. Members will remember the interesting speech made by the Prime Minister at the beginning of the Session, when he pointed out that through the south of England, broadly speaking, there is a wide belt stretching just south of the Mersey, and, if South Wales be omitted, right below that line the level of employment is fairly good, and in some places very good. North of that belt, there are 2180 conditions where trade is very bad. Taking England as a whole, and confining ourselves to insured workers, unemployment on 16th April was 8.6 per cent. In Wales it was 20.9, which is obviously due to the abnormally depressed condition of the South Wales coal-mining industry. In Scotland, the figure was 10.9. Greater London contains one-fifth of the whole insured workpeople of the country; you have to realise that. London is the most important manufacturing town in these islands. It is not commonly recognised that nearly one-fifth of the whole insured workers of this country are included in greater London, and the percentage of unemployment was only 4.9. That is a very remarkable state of affairs, and shows that some industries really are doing well, and that other industries are doing deplorably badly. It is clear that the cause of that serious unemployment is the foreign competition to which industries are exposed. Whatever views we may hold with regard to the general policy of Protection, that is shut out for the time being, but the scheme of rating relief which has been outlined, I believe, is bound to do a great deal of good, and it is directed, in particular, to assisting those industries which have been suffering most severely during the last two or three years.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
It would be very much out of order if I were to follow the last observation of the hon. Gentleman by discussing the question of what the purpose of the Budget is, or whether it is ever likely to achieve that purpose. I cannot accept the statement that it is going to benefit the distressed industries. On the contrary, as far as I can see, it will go to the benefit of the most prosperous industries. The discussion this afternoon was raised with a view to eliciting from the Board of Trade some information of the very disquieting facts with regard to our trade and industry. The hon. Gentleman has not even attempted to answer any of those facts. He has referred to the statement of the Prime Minister that there are certain industries which are prospering. That is true, but that is so in every trade depression that we have ever had in this country. The serious fact at the present moment—and the hon. Gentleman has not attempted to deal with it; it cannot be 2181 that he does not know—is that the basic industries of this country, almost without exception, are doing badly. There has been a set-back in recent months, and my hon. and learned Friend, when he raised the Debate this afternoon, asked for an explanation. I regret the absence of the President of the Board of Trade, and regret still more deeply the reason why he is unable to he present, and I hope he will soon recover his normal health. I regret his absence all the more because, although I have differed very seriously from the President of the Board of Trade upon many occasions, yet whenever we have asked him for official information in regard to the position of trade he has always taken considerable trouble to enlighten the House. I have heard pretty well all his statements. I am taunted with the fact that I take a special interest in trade, and always come here when there is a trade discussion, and I have heard every speech by the President of the Board of Trade on trade and industry, with the exception of one on an occasion when I had an engagement in Wales. He always takes the trouble to state exactly what the position is, and he gives us a very fair and impartial statement, as the President of the Board of Trade ought to do, showing his estimate and his idea of the present position of trade and its prospects. I was hoping the Parliamentary Secretary would have followed that example. He has not done so.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
May I interrupt the right hon. Gentleman for a moment? I only heard at six o'clock last night that this subject was to be raised. I was informed subsequently that the point that was to be raised was about the geographical position of unemployment, and I sought to inform myself particularly on that point.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Then I have no further statement to make about that. I accept the statement made by the hon. Gentleman. But I would like to repeat that there are two very serious and disquieting facts upon which information ought to be given. I do not think we ought to be put off with a statement that it is an unpatriotic thing to call attention to the condition of trade. No one described more eloquently or summarised more faithfully the position of 2182 trade than the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his speech on the Budget, and he did it very fairly; and, more or less, that estimate was repeated afterwards by the Minister of Health. It is quite right that' such statements should be made. They may have the effect of informing foreigners, but how stupid to imagine that foreigners do not know exactly the position of trade in this country, just as we know the position of trade in America, in France or elsewhere.
Everybody who takes any interest in trade reads the reports from all those countries as they come in, and the hon. Gentleman will recollect that during three years we heard nothing but a dismal wail about the conditions of British trade. I remember the famous sentence "Cotton is going, wool has gone, iron and steel"—well, they were all gone, and so were tin plates. For the whole of three years we heard nothing except that British industry was going to the dogs. It was part of the stock-in-trade of those who were pleading for a change in the tariff system of this country. One also remembers the famous phrase about "two bad winters." If any party has any remedy to suggest—and obviously it would be out of place for us to suggest our remedies, because this is the Motion for the Adjournment—we are entitled to call attention to the facts. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that we are not entitled to do so in a spirit of pessimism, but if we have our remedies, we are entitled to impress upon the country what the facts are.
Let me give two facts which have not been given and about which I think we ought to have an explanation. My hon. and learned Friend called attention to the fact that the output of coal was down by over 5,000,000 tons during the present year, in comparison with the four corresponding months of last year. That is not the whole story. In the corresponding four months of last year we imported over 2,000,000 tons of coal, so that really the consumption of coal in this country during the last four months has been down by practically 7,000,000 tons. That is evidence that the coal trade is in a worse state than it was in 1927. That is the first fact about which the Parliamentary Secretary has offered no explanation. The second disquieting 2183 fact is disclosed by looking at the returns of the railway traffic week by week, which are a very good indication of trade; in fact, I think they are about the most faithful indication of the position of the producers of this country. This year, those returns are divided into three headings: passengers, merchandise and coal. Naturally, one would expect a reduction of the receipts for passengers on account of the increase in chars-a-banes, motors and other means of locomotion, but the reduction in respect of passengers is not a very considerable one, and I think it only amounts to £343,000 during the four months. With regard to merchandise and coal the reduction runs into millions, and week by week that is what happens. I know that a certain proportion of that is due to the readjustment of the rates, but that is a small thing, and the difference is mainly due to a reduction in output of the coal mines and a reduction in the demand for iron and steel in our shipbuilding yards. Really it is a reduction of the productive activities of this country. It is no use saying that all is well South of the Humber because after all the North of the Humber has got to live.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The decrease there runs into very considerable figures, and the Parliamentary Secretary has not explained any of these facts. If the hon. Gentleman has anything reassuring to say, it is better for him to say it than to indulge in cheap talk. The hon. Member can speak officially, and he can tell us what is the explanation of these facts. I understand that unemployment is up 117,000 in comparison with last year and that out-door relief is up by 175,000. The representative of the Board of Trade ought to reply to those facts, because undoubtedly they are causing a great deal of disquiet. At the beginning of this year, there were definite signs of an improvement in trade, but now there is a very uneasy feeling that we have experienced a set back. What the House of Commons is entitled to know before adjourning for the Whitsuntide holidays is this: Is there any explanation? If there is a reassuring explanation, then it 2184 ought to be given, because there is grave disquietude. There is the fact, which is known perfectly well to the Government and to the Prime Minister, that the cotton position is very much worse, especially the American cotton position. There has been a very considerable reduction there of the importation of the raw material, which is a very bad sign in itself, so salient that a majority of those engaged in the cotton trade voted in favour of a lock-out with a view to reducing the charges in respect of wages. I do not believe the manufacturers there would ever have voted in that way unless they were in a condition of absolute despair with regard to the prospects of that industry. Is there any explanation which would be reassuring in regard to those facts? We raised the Debate purely in order to elicit information on those subjects, and I do hope that before we go, the Chancellor of the Exchequer or somebody on behalf of the Government will be able to give us some reassuring statement.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Churchill)
It was not my intention to join in a discussion on these extremely grave and complicated topics. While no one complains of the right hon. Gentleman having taken the occasion for debating these serious matters, I am sure he has only to cast his eye around the House to realise that this is not the occasion on which they could be pursued to any definite conclusion. Opportunities will not be lacking in the further course of the Session nor will they be long withheld when we may get to grips with these issues. Neither the Parliamentary Secretary nor I would attempt to suggest that all is well with British trade or that His Majesty's Government have not most serious preoccupations in regard to the state, particularly, of our basic industries employing the greatest mass of manhood and labour. We have made it the central part of our work in the closing days of this Parliament to propose a Measure, remedial in its character, wide in its scope, far-reaching in its intentions, which will occupy this Parliament for the rest of its life. We shall begin, when we return, the discussion of that Measure on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill and during the day and a half allotted to 2185 the Apportionment and Rating Valuation Bill. The effects of this remedy, partial if you will, but sincere and important, which we have devised and for which we are labouring, will be thrashed out on the Floor of the House. More information will be forthcoming as to its effects. We have then a remedy and a definite practical step to propose.
I accept all that the right hon. Gentleman said about the serious conditions of our basic industries which afford employment to the wage-earners. I trust that, if it be found that the remedy which the Government have proposed is sincerely conceived, has been honestly studied, and is the result of sufficient Departmental and technical labour, that it will be treated with reasonable fair play, that it will be examined from the point of view of people who are really worried about the condition of our industry and would like to see things better. I know that, with an election only a year or 15 months ahead, it is beyond human nature that a party point should not be taken on this side or on that, but, under those party points and above those party points, let us at any rate embark on those discussions with a sincere desire to extract from the proposals of the Government whatever may conduce to the general welfare.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Fuller, but not necessarily full—step by step. We are entitled to unfold our plans as we go, but, at the same time, it is obvious that, as the discussions develop, the necessary facts must be in the possession of those who take part in them. I only rose out of respect to one who occupies the position of the right hon. Gentleman as a party Leader, and who has played so great a part in our affairs. I welcome the cry of alarm which he has raised, and I say that, in view of that alarm, we have a right to claim from him earnest consideration of the practical proposals which we make, even if they are not complete or perfect; and we have also the right to expect from him a severe restraint in the use of the cheaper and commoner forms of party politics, in which, on Saturday afternoons, and parti- 2186 cularly during the Whitsuntide vacation, he is very frequently tempted to indulge.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
We are very glad to welcome the right hon. Gentleman back to the Douse, and congratulate him on the vigour and power that he is able to show in spite of his recent illness. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) appreciates it also. I noticed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had a very different tale to tell from that of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. The Parliamentary Secretary is a disciple of his political master, though not his political superior, the President of the Board of Trade, on these occasions when the question of trade is raised. We have the President of the Board of Trade, and this occasion the Parliamentary Secretary, telling us that all is well, that there are 500,000 more people employed, and that the Jeremiahs here are blackening our character abroad; but that is not what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said. The Chancellor of the Exchequer agreed with speakers who, as we on these benches have on many occasions, sounded a note of alarm at the decay of the great basic industries of this country—
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
The hon. and gallant Member must not misrepresent me. My objection was to people drawing attention to the black spots and not saying one word about the others. I admit quite frankly that there are black spots in our industries, but I say let us look at the whole picture, and not at merely a part of it.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
The hon. Gentleman is a very able debater, and he must remember that we also like to debate with him. He is in an official position, and we are in Opposition, and we have a right to put forward certain arguments, which I hope he will take in good part. We hear that 500,000 more people are being employed, but who are they? They are mostly young girls and young boys; it is the growth of female labour in machine processes that alarms us. The able-bodied men are still unemployed in very great numbers. I was told the other day in the North of England by a working man that to-day daughters are greater assets 2187 in a family than young sons, because they can go into the factories for a few years, and be employed on machine work at low wages, which, when there is a number of daughters, makes the household prosperous. That is a very unhealthy state of affairs. If we cannot find employment for our youths, not in blind-alley occupations but in light work in careers, we are failing.
I only rose to make a constructive suggestion or two, and I have one that I particularly want to make to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as he is here. The Minister of War, in the right hon. Gentleman's unhappy absence, said he hoped the use of cheques would be extended to what are commonly known as working men. I was in America last year and I was very struck by the fact that every young man there, as soon as he has 10 dollars to spend, starts a banking account, just as in this country when he has the equivalent of 10 dollars to spare he buys a dinner jacket suit. It raises him in the social status. Every mechanic to-day either has a bicycle or a dinner jacket suit. I welcome it, but in America he has a banking account and a cheque book. I should like to see the English workman, when he is employed and has money, doing the same thing. It would first of all increase the floating credit, it would economise the use of notes and it would give the ordinary man in the street a greater sense of self-respect. I believe, too, it would make him a better Socialist, but that is in passing. Cannot we help this process by differentiating the tax on cheques? I should like to see the Stamp Tax on cheques to a large amount increased and altogether taken off cheques to an amount of £1 or less. It would encourage the use of cheques by small business men and workmen and it would conduce to thrift, the investment of more money, and so on. These small men are not the men who invest in cotton mills on the Hoogli or rubber estates abroad. They usually invest in businesses at home.
The other suggestion is this: All said and done, you have still well over a million unemployed. There are two things that could be done immediately to reduce that number. You have, we will say, a million men and women drawing unemployment insurance money. You have perhaps 200,000 men in industry 2188 over the age of 65 who will not retire because the 10s. insurance pension is no attraction to them. But if you increase the pension for insured workers who are willing to retire in order to make way for younger men, you would take what is called the dole, insurance payment, from the younger men and add it to the pensions. You could then offer the older men 25s. a week to retire from industry. That would make way for an equivalent number of younger men who would at once come off the Unemployment Insurance Fund and you would probably save 10s. on each one. You would thus get the older men out of industry and the younger men into it. You would increase their spending capacity and, as they and their wives would have wages to spend, you would increase the demand for goods and so help to break the circle. You would perhaps get 150,000 of the older men to retire on those terms, making way for younger men, and you would actually gain on the transaction. The other proposal is that you should raise the school-leaving age of the children.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I was following what I fear was a bad example. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs led me astray by speaking of a Bill which will come on after the Whitsun Recess. The first suggestion I make, with regard to encouraging use of cheques, would not require legislation. If the others are out of order let them be forgotten, but I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider that seriously. It would help the country, it would encourage thrift, and it would help the banks, if they need any help.
The other proposal I have to make is this: When the right hon. Gentleman and the Prime Minister make pronouncements in the country next week they might address themselves to the need for an example of greater industry on the part of those at the top in business. I am appalled at the casual attitude of the leaders of industry and those in business in this country. I am in a modest business in the City of London, a finance business, and I can assure the Chancellor 2189 of the Exchequer that you can get very few people of any importance in the City of London between four o'clock on Friday afternoon and 12 or one o'clock on Monday. Saturday is a dies non in the City of London, and it is spreading throughout the Provinces. My hon. Friend opposite who knows Nottingham knows a great deal about this sort of thing and he will admit that I am correct. I ask him how many persons of importance he will get en the day before Whitsuntide in the City of London? The City of London and large cities like Manchester and Birmingham are working five days a week.
It seems to be the fashion for heads of businesses not to come to their offices on Saturdays. They go and sit at their golf clubs and grumble about the idleness of their workpeople. They say: "These lazy people will not work hard," whereas they themselves work only a five days' week. As to the hours, I really do not grumble about them. I think they are far too short. Many heads come too late to their offices and they leave too early in the afternoon. If they work intensively, I do not mind. But a five days' week is a scandal when they expect their workmen to work six days. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about fishing?"] If the hon. Gentleman is going to attack fishermen, there are a million working men in the country who will make it hot for him. It men take time off for fishing when they ought to be at business, they are not setting an example, because such conduct spreads and you get ca'canny.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
The hon. and gallant Gentleman must know that twice as much work is done in Scotland than in England and that twice as much golf is played in Scotland.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
The people who play golf are not responsible heads of businesses. If so, the Scottish character has changed since I was there last year. The other proposal I want to make is that the Stock Exchange should be open on Saturdays, as is the case in Germany, France and the United States. Heaven knows how much business is lost through the Stock Exchange only working a five days' week. I believe there are few practical difficulties in the way. I believe that, if the right hon. Gentleman, who is a great worker himself and does not spare himself, and the Prime Minister who is industrious, would join with some of us, we might have some effect. We in England cannot sit back and rest on the achievements of our forefathers any longer. We have to take off our coats and buckle down if we want to regain our place in the world's markets.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I would like to point out to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that this talk about constant hard work is all wrong. It leads to stupidity. I would remind him of the old proverbAll work, and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.Some of the hardest worked Members of the House—those who make the most speeches and ask the most questions—are the dullest.
§ It being Five of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to the Resolution of the House of 23rd May, until Tuesday, 5th June, pursuant to the Resolution of the House of this day.