§ Mr. STANLEY BALDWIN
I beg to move,That this House deplores the depression in trade and the increase in unemployment resulting from the policy of the present Government, and regrets the refusal of the Government not only to extend Safeguarding or Imperial Preference but even to declare their intentions with regard to the maintenance of the existing Safeguarding and McKenna Duties and duties on sugar, silk, and key industries, thereby increasing uncertainty and distress.I rise to move the Motion which stands in my name and that of my right hon. Friend, but, before I begin what I have to say upon it, I should like to tell the House that I have just learnt that it is the silver wedding day of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I should like to express the hope that he may find it convenient to go home to dinner to-night, and to wish him—I think I may say it on behalf of all sections of the House—many years of happiness.
This Debate to-day is in some measure complementary to the Debate which took place on Monday, the recollection of which will be fresh in our memory. The Liberal party dealt with unemployment, not in connection with duties or tariffs. That was specifically stated by their leader, who, we thought, had come to curse, but who, we found, had remained to bless, and there was no Division. Today, we desire a Division. The leader of the Liberal party—I regret very much that he is not well enough to be here today—said that to-day we should once more descend into the old fiscal crater, and he prophesied an explosion, but of the nature of that explosion he said nothing. What interests me much more is who will be blown up in it. That, time alone will show.
I wish it were possible to discuss many of the aspects of unemployment, but I think, perhaps, within the terms of the Motion, we have as much as will occupy us for an afternoon and an evening. I would like, if I may be excused, just to state my own position, that I am not and never have been a panic-monger, that I do regard the situation as one of extreme gravity, and I do consider that that gravity has been increased in the last few months of the Government's progress. 1536 I agree entirely with the view put forward by Mr. Keynes in a letter in today's paper, that we are passing through a period of painful re-adjustment. Of that re-adjustment it will not be possible to say much to-day, but I just wished to make my own position on the main question clear before I proceeded any further. As the leader of the Liberal party said on Monday, during that discussion the question of any duties, either particular duties or general duties, was ruled out. What we wish to learn from this Debate to-day—and I am seeking it once again and for the last time from the right hon. Gentleman before we are obscured by the heats and fames of Debate—is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will make it quite clear to the House, for himself and for his party, whether or not he intends at any time in combating the evils of unemployment to have recourse either to any single duties or to any general duties.
That is, I think, really the essential point between us, and that is the point on which, I think, all parties would like to have clear and emphatic information. I ask the question, not that I am in serious doubt about the result, but I have noticed that while the party opposite have shown the greatest disinclination at any time to consider a duty or a tariff, yet there have been signs of incipient struggle to get out of the strait-waistcoat of the political economy of their grandfathers. I have noticed it all through the Coal Bill, which Bill, economically, is Protection run mad. I have noticed it in speeches that were made during the Election, when some people, with or without authority, advocated prohibition—a far mere dangerous form of Protection than any duty that can be imposed on any article. I have noticed it again in the lifetime of the present Parliament, when men of great ability and influence in their party have discussed, and almost proposed, systems of regulating imports of foodstuffs, and setting up controlling import boards, which, again, is at strange variance with much of the teaching upon which many of us have been brought up for many years past.
When I see the struggles, and when I ask myself how it is that the parties opposite, of all the parties bearing their name in the whole world, will try every 1537 form of remedy, even in extreme times such as we are passing through now, except the remedy of a duty or duties, I cast about for a solution of that view, and the only explanation I can find—and I believe there is a great deal in it—is that the Labour party is a young party, and its leaders, even its most influential leaders, are men who were brought up in mid-Victorian Liberalism. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself comes from the West Riding of Yorkshire, a constituency more nearly associated with the great struggles of Mr. Cobden's time than any constituency in this country, one the winning of which put the coping-stone on the labours of the Anti-Corn Law League, and one in the name of which money was poured out for years like water. That mid-Victorian Liberalism, which left its mark on all the latter part of the last century, and which still exists here and there on the benches below the Gangway, was largely begotten in its economic views out of the classical economists who, in the early years of the century, put the coping-stone on the work of Adam Smith in destroying the mercantilism of the Whig party of the 18th century.
The elder Mill and Ricardo and Malthus have indeed left a deeper mark on the thought of the country than almost any three men who ever lived. They were men of remarkable ability in elucidating many difficult questions of economic and of social theory, but when they are taken as practical guides in practical life, no three men are more misleading for us to follow. I always think—and there is a great deal of foundation for my view—that many of the worst evils of the whole industrial system may he traced to the work of those three men, and the interpretation of that work when it got into popular circles and was expanded and expounded throughout the country, and I will tell the House exactly what I mean.
They began their work at the most critical time of the industrial revolution, and at that time there were no regulations, as you know, of any kind in labour. The system was new, it was untried, and no man knew the direction in which the country was going with such appalling speed. There has lingered among the working classes, who at that time were not educated, a tradition, subconscious, 1538 but none the less there, the tradition of the old Elizabethan doctrine which lingered in the beginning of the last century, that it was a rightful charge on the State to protect the interests of the poor labourer.
Now the economists would have none of that. That had to give way, with all the mercantilism of the Whigs. They were out for a clean sweep, and that went; and not only did it go, but they denounced the working classes for their ignorance in clinging to these old, worn-out theories, and they warned them as to the results of what they called their short-sighted folly when they pressed for the things which they wanted at that time, such as inspection and supervision of factories and things like that, that we accept to-day as everyday occurrences; and the whips that they used to scourge them with were the theory of the wages fund and the Malthusian theory of population. In the attainment of absolute laisser faire, they considered only the piling up of wealth, either, on the one hand, of the individual or the wider consideration of the national interest, and the national interest and the interest of the individual have to be considered equally with the piling up of wealth. At that time—and it is a curious thing to think of—the economists were in the position of men who were giving the logical and the intellectual support to the nascent capitalism of the time. They did the propaganda work for capitalism, and they thought, the capitalists of that time, that it was their right to enjoy perfectly free play; and that right became in practice an excuse for neglecting their duty.
A very curious feature of that is this, that the economists of that time got a kind of intellectual domination over the House of Commons. It is a terrible thing when intellectuals get loose. I am not an intellectual. I always start on the presumption that an intellectual is wrong until I am convinced by argument that he is right. Now in the House of Commons, after the Napoleonic wars, you will find that for many years nothing was done, nothing was attempted, in the direction of regulating labour, not because there were not men there who would not have taken that cause up with eagerness, but because the House of Commons was so impressed by the skill, the ability, and the intellectual 1539 power of the many gentlemen who told them that, if they took any steps of that kind, it could only result in the ruin of the country. It is a curious instance of that intellectual pride which I am not aware you will find in any other form of scholarship, but you do find it surviving to this day in economics. I was told only last week that no man of intellect in this country, no educated man, could possibly be anything else but a Free Trader.
Now intellectual pride is a very dangerous thing, and I think we ought to remember this. It is a commonplace thought, but I wonder if all the Members on the benches opposite have reflected on it when they have studied economics. If you separate economic from all other facts, you get an abstraction, and, if you forget that economic factors, when abstracted in that way, have no separate existence of their own, you are very apt to get into the way of ignoring the consideration of human beings and of nationalities, you are very apt, in applying your inferences to practical life, to get into very strange morasses; and it is a morass of that kind that I believe this country is getting into to-day. We have to get out of it.
The precepts of the economists are based, as very often things are based in mathematics, on hypotheses, but a hypothesis, from the nature of the case, is only a temporary expedient unless the foundations on which that hypothesis is built continue and last. A hypothesis based on certain conditions and in consonance with certain times gets superseded, and superseded quickly, and yet the inferences drawn from those hypotheses are often quoted as if the hypotheses were still valid. I will give one instance. There is a well-known passage that will occur to most of you. John Stuart Mill wrote this sentence:In countries in which the system of Protection is declining, but is not yet wholly given up, such as—Such as what?the United States of America.Just imagine the value of the inferences drawn from that hypothesis. They are not worth the paper they are written on, and yet many inferences of that kind are allowed to influence men's minds even 1540 now, in the second quarter of the Twentieth Century. The extraordinary thing to me is that the Labour party, who in so many ways would call themselves a party of internationalism, international interests, international study, international friendship, and all the rest, in this one matter of economies are insular to a degree, insular in their thought, insular in their action, and insular in their pride, of which I will say a word or two by and by. But it is that very insularity that has sent the President of the Board of Trade, for whom we all have a great regard, for his candour, his straightforwardness, and, I may add, his innocence, on a hopeless errand at this moment.
I often remind myself of what a distinguished economist and man of the world wrote a good many years ago now, but the words he wrote, with very trifling alteration, are as true to-day as on the day when they were written, and I think that if the President of the Board of Trade were more familiar with his writings or, if familiar with them, had allowed them to influence him, he might have been saved from a good deal of unnecessary trouble. I refer to Walter Bagehot, a pupil of Ricardo, editor of the "Economist," a man who, if he had been living now, would have been in constant communication with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as he was in his time with Chancellors of the Exchequer of both parties. Bagehot wrote:Out of England Free Trade is unpopular.A very simple statement, but, if you realise that, you do not go to propose tariff truces in Geneva. He said:English political economy is known on the Continent as the theory of Free Trade,and he says that when we go trying to persuade other countries to copy our example in Free Trade, they speak somewhat as follows—and I quote the words which he puts into their mouth:You English traders are strong and rich. You wish to under-sell our traders, who are weak and poor. You have invented this political economy to enrich yourselves and to ruin us. We will see that you do not do so.That is very simple, and I think it is very necessary not to allow our insularity such play that we fail to realise, not what is always told to us when we go to conferences, 1541 but what is the underlying feeling throughout the Continent of Europe towards our protestations. That was exactly the same argument that Bismarck used when he began to lay the foundations of the industrial system in Germany after the Franco-German War, and the Continental answer to-day is exactly what the Continental answer was years ago, as given by Thiers in France. "Why do you give this bounty to the French sugar refiners?" he was asked, and he replied, "Because I wish the tall chimneys to smoke." You may think that is bad economics, but the French did not, and their chimneys are smoking still.
That fallacy is always turning up, that theory, believed in England, that what we did must be copied by all the rest of the world. There has hardly been a year in the last 70 or 80 years but we have been told—and it was implied in the speech of the President of the Board of Trade—that if we only wait a little longer, there is a chance of the other nations removing their tariff walls. Giffen, only 30 years ago, said that in another generation there would be no Protectionists left. Giffen was wrong, and the President of the Board of Trade is wrong. They are wrong in very good company, in very intellectual company, but they are wrong all the same. It has often struck me that that kind of insular pride—of which, I confess, I have my full share, and which I have often been very amused to see hon. Members opposite, strongly opposed to me as they are, possess too—comes out in very odd directions. I think it is going, in this way, but certainly it made us feel some years ago, not only that other nations would copy us in removing their duties, but that no other nations could do the things that we were doing.
I remember perfectly well just after I went into business, it was the time when the McKinley Act was passed in America, lots of the men in my works saying, "The Americans will never be able to make tin-plates; their water will not do for it; they cannot handle them." I remember that the same thing was said about the making of steel in America, a few years before. The curious thing was that in America itself there were people who did not believe that America could ever make steel. We have learned 1542 now that anybody can make anything, given the application of transport, capital and labour; but we did not believe it then. I remember very well—the House will forgive me if I turn aside to tell a very curious little story which illustrates that frame of mind—that years ago, when I was in New York as a young man, I spoke to a man who had been the largest importer of British iron and steel into America, until America made her own. He told me that somewhere about 1878 or 1879—I may be wrong as to a year or two—a little Scotch American went into the office to ask if they would help him with some capital to make steel in America. They turned him down and said, 'You will never be able to make steel in America." That little man was Andrew Carnegie. He got his money from somewhere else, and the steel was made. I think that mode of thought is passing away. I do not think that anyone in this country now denies the general proposition that any country, if it chooses to take the steps, if it chooses to use tariffs, and if it has the capital, can make practically anything that it likes. It may not he advantageous to the country, but the fact remains that it can do that.
The whole tendency in the world today, and I regret it as much as hon. Members opposite, is towards high tariffs. High tariffs are bad, and I think the nations of Europe are realising that they are bad, but how are they going to cure them? They are not going to cure them by pulling down their barriers. That, again, is a mistake of the President of the Board of Trade and others who think like him. They are going to attack them in quite a different way. If I read the signs of the times aright—it may be that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be good enough to say a word on this subject—I believe that the way the nations of Europe are approaching this subject is that they are going to try to get rid of the Most-Favoured-Nation Clause, and simultaneously to reduce their own tariffs and reduce competing tariffs by making tariff agreements. I believe that is the whole tendency of the economic life of Europe, and we are left outside it. The House will remember—they are all familiar with it—that Cobden himself was responsible for negotiating a treaty with the French, a valuable treaty, and one of the weapons that he had to use was a weapon bequeathed 1543 to him by Sir Robert Peel. Peel kept on the Wine Duties so that they could be used for negotiations. That was the reason for keeping them on. When Cobden's Treaty became a fact, many of the purists of that day condemned him because they thought it sinned against the light of orthodox economics. That was not the view that Morley took. In Morley's "Life of Cobden" he regarded it, as the nations of Europe regard it, as a process to bring about the lowering of tariffs. This is what Morley said:This Treaty helped forward the process of liberating the exchange of goods.That is absolutely true. That is the only way in this world, as it is constituted today, that you are going to get any reduction of tariffs. I shall be glad if the Chancellor of the Exchequer will explain to us whether he thinks there is any other way, in the event of his not being able to ask the House at any time to put on any duty or duties. Does anybody in this House consider that Cobden was a heretic? Was there any taint of economic heresy about Morley? Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer quite sure that there is no taint of heresy on the benches behind him, or, if not on the benches behind him, in his party in the country? These are anxious times for a Chancellor of the Exchequer of orthodox views. There is much happening in the country to shake the confidence of those who would continue to walk in the old paths. We are falling into a similar mistake, or you are falling into a mistake similar to that into which the House of Commons fell after the Napoleonic Wars. We are being hag-ridden by economic doctrine, a most dangerous thing, and I suspect that if there is not an inferiority complex, a most dangerous thing, there is a superiority complex, which is much harder to get rid of than any inferiority complex. At this moment there are four or five problems lying before us that I believe—I will not say they are soluble—can only be approached and helped by judicious utilisation of duties, and I want to hear from the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is either prepared to consider exploring that wide field of duties or if, whatever happens to unemployment and industry, that whole side of economic life is to be blotted out as if it had never existed.
1544 Let us consider for a moment what is called the psychological aspect, which is a real thing. The psychology of business to-day is bad; it is depressed. There is no confidence; there is no hope. Never mind the reasons. Everyone who knows the facts knows that that is so. When men are like that, they want a stimulus. Is it not worth while experimenting with some of the most depressed trades, with duties as a stimulus? Would it not put fresh hope into people? I remember very well discussing this matter with one of the most distinguished of living Free Trade economists. It was in 1924, immediately after I had been beaten in 1923. He said to me, "I believe that what you meant to do by your programme was to give a jolt to industry, to get it out of the rut." I said that that was one of the things I had in view, and he said, with perfect candour, "I believe that you were right in taking the view that it would give a jolt to get it out of the rut, but as a Free Trader I am against duties of any kind." That was said some years ago. We are all moving on. I do not know whether he would say that to-day. He added, "As a Free Trader, taking the long view, I regard the ultimate results of any form of Protection as bringing disadvantages in their train which would prevent me from supporting the imposition of such duties." That was a perfectly fair and candid view, but he admitted the stimulus.
I come for a moment to another question which has been very much before us this last year or two—rationalisation. I need not stop to define that. I cannot speak at length about it, but I am a rationaliser, and I am convinced that this process of readjustment, of which Mr. Keynes spoke, can only be got through by readjustment in the form of rationalisation. Are you quite convinced on that side of the House that when industries are being rationalised, when capital is needed for new plant, those who undertake to rationalise can carry it out without some aid in the direction of duties? Do you not feel that the benefit of a certain security, if only for a time, while these changes are being made, would be a help? Is it not a fact that in countries where they have such security it is a far easier matter to scrap obsolete plant and to erect new plant than it is in this country? Where in 1545 present conditions is the money to be obtained which is needed in the steel trade, to give only one instance? It cannot be got. Are the Government going to provide it, and if so, on what security, or are we not to trouble our heads about rationalisation at all? Are we to leave it to chance? These are some of the questions which must be considered and to which I would like an answer.
I shall say little more about treaties. Are you convinced by now that the nations of the Continent of Europe are not going to remove any of their Duties, or do you believe that they will? If you believe that they will not, are you never going to use any means that will enable you to make bargains with them, or are you going to leave the countries on the Continent and America to make bargains with each other, that they may sell more freely to each other, and are we to be left out, we who depend more on our industries than any country in the world? Are we alone to be left out of any and every agreement that may be made? Are you satisfied with saying to the nations of Europe, "You may keep your high tariffs, but, if you are willing to make an agreement with us not to raise them, we will make an agreement with you to let all your goods, whatever your hours of labour, whatever your wages, come in free"? Are you satisfied with that? We want to know. I am speaking on tariffs before what the right hon. Gentleman called the heat and the fumes arise. I do not want heat and fumes at this stage. I want us to examine these things, if you like, as a Council of State. I want to know if you are satisfied. If you are, the question falls to the ground, but, if you are not, what do you propose to do?
Let me say a word—and this is another point very pertinent to our Motion—about the Dominions. There is nothing so lamentable as that the Dominions should be brought into our politics [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] In all quarters of the House, on this side, from tradition, and on your side there has been for the last few years—let me put it in this way—a growing knowledge of the Dominions and their capacity, and a growing desire, in some indeterminate way, to keep together. Since the War the Dominions have become for all practical 1546 purposes autonomous. They are completely autonomous fiscally, and, naturally, they have been asking how far that autonomy goes, some concentrating on it more than others; and it is my view, and I expect the view of all who sit behind me, and no doubt the view of many hon. Members opposite—a view that is shared by thoughtful men of all parties in all the Dominions—that unless something can be constructed in the way of economic co-operation with a view, as I have often said, to the visualisation of the economic unity of the Empire—unless something of the kind, I do not say how, can be envisaged and worked out, there is a real risk that in time the threads that bind us, already gossamer, may break, and with the breaking of those threads there goes the hope of the world for peace and progress.
If you are to attempt in any way economic co-operation, economic unity, I am unable to see any way by which it can be approached, except by utilising—I do not say here in what manner-Duties. I want to know whether you agree with that and, if you do not, what you would propose to do. In our view it is of enormous importance, at this time and in the present conditions of our industry, to try to go forward, if it can be done, hand-in-hand with the Dominions industrially, because that the Dominions are going to industrialise themselves as fast as they can is a certainty. Canada will do it far more quickly than any other. Canada will be one of the greatest countries in the world. But they are all trying, and for no economic theory will they stop. It is a kind of urge that nothing can stop. It behoves us in this House, and all parties, to consider and bring to bear on this problem all the ability that we have, to see if there be a solution, and, if there be, what that solution is. But in that solution lies one of the contributory solutions of our own troubles at home.
There is another point on which my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) will have more to say to-night, and that is the question of the uncertainty in which special trades are at this moment, owing to the refusal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say definitely whether he will or will not continue the Duties applicable 1547 to them. I do not suppose that anyone will lay down in this House that uncertainty, founded on whatever reason, is a good thing for business. I always remember a saying of Lord Melchett when he was a Free Trader. He said, "Business can flourish with tariffs. Business can flourish without tariffs. Business cannot flourish where there is uncertainty." That is absolutely true. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer once more whether he is prepared to put certainty in the place of uncertainty before a number of business men who are not having an easy time at present, who are anxious, who are worried about the future, and for the conduct of whose business definite information is required?
The Prime Minister gave me an answer a day or two ago that the opinion of the House would be tested by the. Division after this Debate. I am well aware of that, and to-night, with the aid of your allies, you will win. But I can tell you this: That just as rain washed away the Corn Laws, so unemployment will wash away this Government, wrapt as it is in the consciousness of its own virtue, hidebound in an absolescent economic theory—it will sweep it right away, and for this reason: They would rather see the unemployment figures mounting up week by week than acknowledge for a moment that they have been wrong.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Philip Snowden)
The right hon. Gentleman and the whole House will accept my gratitude for the kindly references made to me. It is an illustration of one of the best features of British political life that we do not permit the acerbities of political controversy to interfere with our personal relations. I have been asked by the Prime Minister to express his regret that he is not able to be here at this stage of the Debate, on account of important meetings of the Naval Conference. He had hoped to be able to come, and he still hopes that it may be possible for him to be present some time during the afternoon or evening. I am sure that the House will understand and excuse him in the circumstances.
We have listened to a most interesting speech, a speech characterised by evidence 1548 of wide historical knowledge of economic theories; but I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not think that I detract from the interest and importance of that speech if I say that it has very little relation to the terms of the Motion that he has moved. I would like to remind the House of the origin of this Vote of Censure. They may remember that on 20th February, three weeks ago, I made an announcement of the date of the introduction of the Budget, and I took the unusual course of promising to introduce the Budget at an early date because of the anxiety which was alleged to exist in regard to the possible fate of certain Duties. After I had announced the date the right hon. Gentleman rose and put this question: Whether I adhered to my resolution to make no statement as to my intention with regard to the Safeguarding and McKenna Duties until 14th April. I replied to that, and I ask the House particularly to notice what I said. I stated that that question would have been very unusual a few months ago, and that I certainly must adhere to the statement that I could make no disclosure as to my intentions before the Budget was introduced.
The right hon. Gentleman admitted that he was innocent. He is indeed guileless. Not in vain is the snare spread in front of him. I deliberately said that that question would have been unusual a few months ago. The right hon. Gentleman ran straight into the trap that I had laid. "I quite agree," he said, "that a few months ago it would have been unnecessary, because the state of employment did not make that statement necessary." Then he gave notice of this Vote of Censure. The right hon. Gentleman had evidently forgotten that the principal Amendment to the King's Speech was moved on his behalf, and that it dealt with the very complaint that he made in that supplementary question. He said three weeks ago that a few months ago it would not have been necessary, because the state of employment did not make a statement necessary. What were the terms of the Amendment that was moved nearly eight months ago—not a few months ago? They were.But humbly represent to your Majesty that the failure of Your Majesty's Ministers to make any plain declaration of their policy in regard to the Safeguarding, McKenna and 1549 analogous Duties, and to the maintenance of Imperial Preference, creates a condition of uncertainty prejudicial to trade and to the employment of the people."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th July, 1929; col. 529, Vol. 229.]But the right hon. Gentleman said three weeks ago that even a few months ago that uncertainty did not exist—that there was nothing for which I at any rate was responsible, which was having a prejudicial effect. We were given to understand that that, and that alone, was to be the purpose of the right hon. Gentleman this evening in the Vote of Censure. It was to be directed to my unwillingness to anticipate the Budget by making a statement in regard to my intentions on these duties.
The Motion is divided into three parts. The right hon. Gentleman has devoted himself almost wholly to one part of it, that which condemns the Government because they will not introduce Safeguarding Duties and extend Imperial Preference. With that I will deal later, but as he says the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) is to indict me later in the Debate in regard to the other point, and I shall have no opportunity of replying to him, I will anticipate by answering that complaint. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer on one or two occasions has expressed in rather strong language his condemnation of my reticence. It has been ascribed to spitefulness, arrogance, ignorance and impudence. I do not object to the right hon. Gentleman's language. Indeed, I rather like it. It is only pretty Fanny's way. Words do not worry me. They break no bones. It is no part of my case that uncertainty does not exist. It is no part of my case that pessimism is not in operation. It is a fact that ever since this Government came into office there has been an organised conspiracy. It has been the deliberate policy of certain interests to create financial and business uncertainty and to create unemployment in order to discredit the Government. My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal gave one instance two or three days ago. A few weeks ago the Federation of British Industries issued a most alarming manifesto, full of pessimism, and calculated to increase whatever feeling of despondency there might be, and containing statements which were quite inaccurate. The 1550 Government's Unemployment Bill has been the subject of a sustained Press campaign charging the Government with shovelling out money.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
The right hon. Gentleman, at any rate, need not complain about shovelling out money. For five years he has been an expert in that adventure. When the Estimates for the Civil Departments came out the other day there were great headlines in the newspapers, wholly misleading and wholly inaccurate, attributing to the Government an increase of expenditure next year above this year of £50,000,000 or £60,000,000. Day after day certain newspapers in the country for months have been spreading this feeling of pessimism abroad. I repeat that there has been this deliberate conspiracy on the part of certain interests to discredit the Government. I have seen for months now that, with increasing violence every day, a Protectionist ramp has been going on. Stories about the closing down of factories and the standing off of men have been appearing daily, attributing the whole of the increase in unemployment to the action and policy of the Government, and particularly in regard to my own personal responsibility in regard to certain duties.
The Motion attributes the undoubted increase in unemployment to three things, not extending Safeguarding and Imperial Preference, our refusal to declare our intentions in regard to these matters and, thirdly, to my own refusal to disclose my Budget intentions. If the latter has had any influence at all in regard to unemployment, it could not at the worst have had more than an infinitesimal influence, because only 3 per cent. of the workers are employed in these safeguarded trades. We had a general debate on Monday upon unemployment. I am not going to travel over tie road traversed on that occasion, I shall confine myself to saying that there are three main causes of the present abnormal state of unemployment, for not one of which is the Government responsible. The first is the relative over-production of primary commodities, the second is the American crash, and we are now reaping the consequences of the inaction of the late Government who for five years dammed up the process of post-war reconstruction. 1551 They precipitated one of the greatest industrial conflicts we have had. They shovelled out £24,000,000 or £25,000,000 to the coal industry, which was sheer waste, and they did nothing whatever to help its economic reorganisation.
I could add another reason for the uncertainty and trade depression that exists, by no means an unimportant one. The late Prime Minister again quoted Lord Melchett's saying that trade cannot flourish with uncertainty. What was the late Government doing for five years—leaving all the great industries of the country in a state of uncertainty, leading them to believe that they might get the artificial aid of Protection, preventing them from reorganising themselves. For a great part of that time the iron and steel trade was asking the Government for Protection. It was refused. I gather from what the right hon. Gentleman said to-day that the industry now is to be encouraged to rationalise by the imposition of a heavy tariff on imported steel. Exactly the same with the woollen trade. For five years the wool trade in the West Riding of Yorkshire was kept in a state of uncertainty by the late Government. They made application for a duty. A Committee spent a long time in investigating the application, but nothing happened. So it has been with a great many other trades and that, I submit, is one of the most important contributory causes of the present trade depression.
The second part proposes to condemn us because we will not extend Safeguarding. I will leave that for the moment and will pass to that part, to which I have already made a passing reference, that complains of the refusal of the Government to declare its intentions with regard to the McKenna, Safeguarding and Sugar Duties. That complaint is just about as well informed as the right hon. Gentleman was when he put that supplementary question to me three weeks ago. Now we will have some facts about it There is no ambiguity about our policy whatever. On the first day the Government met Parliament the right hon. Gentleman asked the Prime Minister about Safeguarding. My right hon. Friend replied, first, that no further applications for Safeguarding would be considered; second, that the existing duties 1552 would expire at the appointed dates; and, third, that the Budget policy would be declared at the right time. There is no ambiguity about that.
A week later the right hon. Gentleman put down the Amendment the terms of which I have already quoted. In the autumn, representations began to come in which showed that it was recognised that I would not depart from the invariable rule about not anticipating the Budget, but traders were afraid—they were rather uneasy in regard to duty-paid stocks in the event of the duties being removed. I took the very unusual course of satisfying their uncertainty by making a statement which was without precedent. I made it in the House of Commons a day or two before Christmas, and that was accepted by the people who had made these representations to me as being completely satisfactory.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
It was accepted by the people who had made those representations to me as completely meeting their representations, but, of course, I know that that did not satisfy them in regard to the fate of the duties. Since the beginning of the year the campaign has become more intense, and the demand that I should anticipate the Budget has been made with increasing vehemence. Allegations have been made, not only in this House, but again in the Press, that trade has been held up, workmen have been discharged, and that there is a general paralysis of industry owing to my action, or inaction. I say that it is no part of my case to prove that there is not uncertainty. It is no part of my case to prove that uncertainty in regard to these duties is having no effect upon these industries. On the contrary, such uncertainty as may exist, whatever injury is being done to trade, is inseparable from a Protectionist policy, and it is one of the strongest condemnations that if you have Protection you can never remove that uncertainty of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke. Has it removed it in America? Why, at this very moment, with a Tariff Bill before the Senate, the industries affected by it are holding back. The Minister of Labour in America says that the increase of unemployment is largely due to the uncertainty in regard to the Tariff Bill. The more the party 1553 opposite can prove that there is uncertainty about these duties, the more they are condemning their Protectionist ideals. But what I do deny is that this uncertainty is mainly responsible for the general state of uncertainty, because, as I have said, only a very few industries are affected by it. It is simply being used as an excuse to hide the fundamental causes of the state of these industries and the tragic failure of Protection.
What are the facts? As I said just now, uncertainty is not confined to this country. Wherever you have Protection you have it. I have noticed that this agitation has been confined wholly to two of these duties—the Motor Duties and the Artificial Silk Duties.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
And artificial silk. Why has the party opposite neglected the interests of other McKenna and Safeguarding Duties? What have they got to say, for instance, about the state of trade in Jews' harps, and popguns, and mechanical donkeys? All these industries—these key industries—are protected under the McKenna Duties. Precisely the campaign which was carried on at the time of the repeal of the McKenna Duties in 1924 is being carried on to-day. There appeared on the 20th February in many of the leading provincial newspapers a report by an investigator into the effect of the uncertainty in regard to these duties on the motor industry, and this is what he said:If the Chancellor of the Exchequer keeps to his secret, within four weeks from to-day 60,000 men who are employed this week will be thrown on the dole and the remaining 170,000 subject to a reduction of wages.That is nearly four weeks ago. What are the facts? Have 60,000 men been thrown upon the dole? Have 170,000 men been subjected to reduced earnings? I may say that in the very next sentence in this report the 60,000 became 80,000. Then he goes on to say that:in two years 125,000 men will be thrown out of work.These are very moderate statements in relation to the statements which were made in 1924 when Mr. Morris said that the repeal of the McKenna Duties would throw 4,000,000 men out of employment. The "Daily Mail" was, as usual, much more moderate and reserved in its figures. 1554 It put them only at 2,000,000. The "Morning Post" and a number of other papers have joined in this lying propaganda which is always the stock-in-trade of the Protectionist. In regard to some of these trades, I have received a very large number of post cards and they are very interesting. The actual communications are all written in the same handwriting, while the address is typewritten. The handwriting is rather illiterate, and the written communication asks me not to repeal the McKenna Duties. The workman evidently had a typewriter, for the address is typewritten. On the 13th February this telegram was sent to us by the Rover Company:At a meeting of nearly 250 Rover agents at our works yesterday it was the unanimous opinion that the public were delaying the placing of orders for motor cars by reason of the uncertainty of the Government action with regard to the McKenna Duties and the horse-power tax. If the uncertainty continues, it will be necessary for us to discharge 50 per cent. of our employés within the next few days due to lack of orders.Now that is just a month ago. Have those men been discharged? Has 50 per cent. of their workmen been discharged? It is simply an attempt at intimidation of the Government by intimidating their workpeople, who, I am glad to say from abundant evidence which I have received, repudiate this form of intimidation. Not only does this telegram demand the retention of the McKenna Duties, but unless we will also alter the basis of motor taxation 50 per cent. of their workpeople are to be discharged. Did they send a threat of that kind to the right hon. Gentleman before the last Budget saying that unless he altered the motor taxation from the horse-power to a petrol duty 50 per cent. of their workmen would be discharged? When he imposed a duty of 4d. a gallon on petrol did he get telegrams from employers of labour—[HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"]—telling him, threatening him, that unless he removed it 50 per cent. of their workmen would be discharged?
What are the facts with regard to employment in the motor industry? In September last, three months after the right hon. Gentleman had said that the trade was being held up because of uncertainty in regard to these duties employment was being increased. Three months later there was less unemployment 1555 in Coventry than there was three months before. The Minister of Labour gave an answer in regard to employment in the motor industry last week, and on 27th January this year there were 788 fewer unemployed in the motor industry than in October of last year. Yesterday we had in the "Daily Express," which, I suppose may now be regarded as the official organ of the Tory party, an article headed "Revival in Motor-Car Industry." This is what it said:There is every indication of the turning of the tide after a long period of depression, throughout the motor car industry.And then:Salesmen smiled yesterday for the first time for months. 'Our sales,' said one of the leading car distributors 'exceeded those of last Tuesday by as much as 50 per cent.' A director of Morris' says 'There has been a steady stream of orders throughout the day. We must thank the sun for that.I understand that, in fact, the Morris firm are now taking on additional men.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
You have not been interrupted before; the hon. and gallant Gentleman is a Member of long standing in this House.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has such an established position in this House upon this subject that it is perfectly certain he will be called upon in the course of the Debate to say what he has to say. In regard to artificial silk it is much the same story, but, before I say much about that, may I just refer to a statement which was made by Mr. Courtauld at a meeting last week? He said that I had refused to see him, but that is not true. Last autumn he asked if I would see him and a friend. I was unable to do so that week, but, having heard that before the Budget of last year the artificial silk interests had, I will not say, made an application, but intimated their desire for increased protection, I said, "Well, if this is what Mr. Courtauld wants to see me about, it is no use his coming, but will you ask him to tell me what he wants to put before me?" He never made any further request 1556 to see me. His representatives, and other representatives of the trade, were given an interview by the Customs, and the only question they raised was that of a rebate on duty-paid stocks. Mr. Courtauld seems to have associated himself with this raging campaign, and when he faced his shareholders last week he made an attack on me. It is a pity he did not get someone to overhaul his speech before it was delivered, and before it was given such a costly publicity in the newspapers. In the early part of his speech he attributed the deplorable state of the industry to Budget uncertainty. He seems to have forgotten his speech of a year before. What did he say 12 months ago? He did not anticipate a very good year for the artificial silk trade, and he said:The picture I have to put before you is a very mixed one, and indefinite as to the future. We started 1928 under good conditions, with steady sales, and a possibility of increased production, though you may remember my pointing out at our last meeting that it was impossible for turnover to increase in 1928 as it bad done the year before … We could not forecast the course of business beyond August, and that this course would be mainly determined by the weight of new production which might be put on the market in the Autumn … In England and Europe generally this difficult time has certainly arrived again, production has overtaken consumption and the inevitable consequences have followed; loss of confidence on the part of buyers, curtailment of orders, a lowering of prices all round, and widespread dislocation of business from which we have not yet recovered.That was 12 months ago. Last week Mr. Courtauld attributed the depression in the artificial silk industry to the uncertainty in regard to the Silk Duties. Take his own company. In 1929, during the six months before this Government came into office, the shares of his company had been gradually falling, and they continued to fall afterwards at much about the same rate as they had been falling before the Government came into office. Was that due to Budget uncertainty? The shares of his company last year fell from about £5 to a little over £2. Am I the cause of that? Is that Budget uncertainty? Was this also due to Budget uncertainty? The first full year after the right hon. Gentleman opposite imposed the Artificial Silk Duties, the profits of Courtauld fell from £5,110,000 in the previous year, a Free Trade year, to £3,240,000. Is that due to Budget uncertainty? 1557 The rest of Mr. Courtauld's speech was the real explanation of the cause of the slump in the artificial silk trade. He attributed it to over-production. Is that Budget uncertainty? It is the true explanation.
In view of certain things which have been said I am going to say some rather disagreeable things—not disagreeable except to those to whom I find it necessary to reply. During the last 10 days it has been reported in the newspapers that certain artificial silk mills have closed down, and on the 1st of this month the "Burton Daily Mail," of which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Gretton) has some knowledge, came out with a big heading across the page, "Mr. Snowden closes down Branston factory." Underneath, in somewhat smaller type, it says, "Budget uncertainty holds up production." What are the facts? This company in April last year had a cash balance of about £300,000. On 30th September this had been reduced to £198,000, and in October of last year that £198,000 cash balance had disappeared. It had been spent in buying the shares of the Kirkless Artificial Silk Company. That was a small concern at Bury, in Lancashire, and its prosperity under Protection, at any rate, had been such that it had changed hands, or undergone reconstruction, three times in the last few years. It was bought in October by this Branston company, and they paid for the shares with the whole of their cash in hand. I understand that the price they paid was over 23s. a share. At that time these shares had no real market quotation, and they certainly were not worth more than 3s. at the outside. That got this company into serious financial difficulties, and it had to make arrangements with the Burton Corporation with regard to its rates and electricity supply. They also borrowed a certain sum of money, after they had depleted their cash reserves, from insurance companies. That is the position of this company. They have been compelled to close down because of their financial mismanagement, and now it is Mr. Snowden who has closed down this factory. The notice issued by the directors says:The directors greatly regret that it has been found necessary, owing to the falling off of the demand for Rayon and the uncertainty 1558 felt by users as to the continuance of the imported silk duties, to stop production temporarily.A year ago there appeared a statement that a factory at Tongueland, in Kirkcudbrightshire, had closed down owing to Budget uncertainty. The facts I am now giving have a two-fold significance. They prove that Budget uncertainty is not responsible for the state of these industries, and they prove, at the same time, what is far more important from the public point of view, the effect, the disastrous effect, which Protection has had upon these industries.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
Encouraged by Protection. Take the case of the British Acetate Silk Corporation. It showed a loss up to the end of September of £196,000. Surely that was not due to Budget uncertainty. Then the Rayon Manufacturing Company lost £15,700 before there was any Budget uncertainty. The Scottish Amalgamated Silk industry, another protected concern, lost £34,000 up to August of last year, surely not due to Budget uncertainty. The Scottish Artificial Silk Company lost £72,000, and in this figure is included £38,000 for the Tongueland factory. There was then no Budget uncertainty. These cases prove that it is not Budget uncertainty which is responsible, but the encouragement which has been given to over-production and the starting of new works which is mainly responsible. Mr. Courtauld said that it would be a financial calamity if the Duties were taken off. I should attach more importance to that statement if it was not exactly what Mr. Courtauld said when the Duties were imposed. But the gem of this Motion is the inclusion of sugar. I am asked to declare my intentions with regard to sugar. I have a letter from the Federation of Food Manufacturers to this effect:I wish to assure you that we have no desire to threaten by quoting possible unemployment or to ask you for what we regard as unreasonable, that you should in the vaguest manner anticipate your Budget statement.Suppose I were to accede to this demand and anticipate the statement. Has it ever been done before?
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
Yes. That is exactly what I wanted. It is quite true that the right hon. Member for West Birmingham did upon one occasion announce a Budget intention, but in what words? He was speaking to his own constituents in West Birmingham at some public gathering, and I think he said:I am going to make long in advance of the usual time, to you and through you to my countrymen, some statement as to the Budget of next year. (Applause.) I hope that the precedent which I set will not be followed by anyone.[Interruption.] I do not want to follow up that point, although I could say a great deal about it. As a matter of fact the right hon. Gentleman was referring to the repeal of the Excess Profits Duty which was purely a War tax, and the right hon. Gentleman's announcement made no difference whatever to the yield of the tax because the assessments had already been made. Therefore, it could have no disastrous effect upon revenue. But what I am asked to do is to make an announcement in regard to Duties which are coming in every day. If I were to do that, what would be the result? Supposing that I had announced last July that I intended to repeal the Sugar Duty—what would have been the result? I believe the price of sugar is cheap to-day. It would not have been cheap if I had made that announcement. What would have happened? There would have been no clearances; there would have been a panic in sugar, and the price would have gone up to a mountainous height and I should have lost six months' revenue. That applies to all these other Duties. No Chancellor of the Exchequer can say, until the end of the financial year, what he is going to do in regard to the alteration of taxes. If I had at the end of this month a disposable surplus of £50,000,000 I should do something very different to what I should do if I had to meet the right hon. Gentleman's deficit of £50,000,000.
It is quite impossible to think that you can anticipate the Budget, tout there are more serious objections. For nearly 100 years the sole criterion in imposing taxation has been the needs of the Exchequer. What are we asked to do? Every previous Chancellor of the Exchequer has framed his Budget on the facts of the financial situation as disclosed in the out turn of the year. 1560 Now this Tory demand means that our finances are not to be governed by financial considerations. They are to be governed by extraneous demands. They want us to go back to the old Protectionist practice. The right hon. Gentleman this afternoon has spoken about shibboleths and about the ideas of our grandfathers, but he asks us to go back to the ideas and to the practice of our great grandfathers. In those days, in the days before the repeal of the Corn Laws, taxes were imposed—as the party opposite now want them to be imposed—not to meet the needs of the State but to meet the selfish interests of manufacturers. What this part of the Motion means is that the financial policy of the nation is to be subordinated to the vested interests which were created by the Tory party in the last Parliament. Let us try to imagine what would happen if the policy of the party opposite were carried out and every industry in the country were protected. For six months or nine months before the Budget you would have hundreds or thousands of trades doing what a few trades are doing to-day, and politics would become a sink of corruption. It may suit the party opposite to have the time of Parliament taken up by tariff discussions, but some of us want to get on with much more important business. In support of what I have just said may I quote the authority of a very eminent Protectionist who said:There is one evil of the Protectionist system which no one who understands the question can warn you against too strongly and that is that you create thousands of vested interests which are more baneful to the community than the great liquor interest, A Member represents not his constituency but his industry, and men are in Parliament not for politics but for business.If, then, you want to subordinate the finances of the country to vested interests, you must take Protection. If you want to keep industry in a chronic state of unrest, adopt the latest policy of the right hon. Gentleman opposite—thoroughgoing Protection. This Motion asks us to extend Safeguarding. I admire the effrontery of such a demand. The right hon. Gentleman made this question the main issue at the last Election. He came down to the West Riding of Yorkshire, within a few miles of my constituency, and addressed two meetings, and the only subject upon which he spoke was Safeguarding, with the result that every constituency in the West Riding of Yorkshire 1561 gave an overwhelming Free Trade vote. The right hon. Gentleman, as I say, has devoted the greater part of his speech to the question of Protection but he gave us no outline of his own policy in regard to it. At one time he did give a sort of implication when he made some reference to the importance of trying to encourage, promote and increase trade and economic relations between the different parts of the British Empire. He may make up his mind that you cannot do that unless you are prepared to put a tax upon food and imported raw material.
§ Mr. S. BALDWIN
I must interrupt the right hon. Gentleman. I never implied anything of the kind. The mistake is a perfectly natural one for the right hon. Gentleman to make because, in past conflicts these matters have been so closely associated, but when I made those allusions I was considering industrial arrangements and industrial arrangements only.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
The right hon. Gentleman now sees what he himself describes as the not unnatural interpretation that might be placed upon his words, and he is anxious, it appears, at the moment not to commit himself definitely to the taxation of food. That I can quite understand. The right hon. Gentleman cannot at present commit himself definitely to anything. He must first of all consult Lord Beaverbrook or take a national Referendum. One thing I will say to my hon. Friends behind me here. This is the inwardness and the aim of the present-day Protectionist movement. It is a far-sighted attempt to reduce wages—real wages—and to increase the cost of commodities and the profits of the protected manufacturers. I believe there is not a single one of the industries which have received Protection during the last five years where wages have risen. Certainly it is not true that they have risen in the pottery trade and I understand from a reply to a question given the other day, that the same remark applies to the motor industry. The right hon. Gentleman has asked me to say what we intend to do in regard to Protection. We intend to carry out the mandate that we received from the country. Free Traders have always admitted that you might benefit a particular 1562 industry by Protection at a particular period but that you do it at the expense of other industries and of the general good. What has surprised me about the safeguarded industries at present is that that has not turned out to be the fact. You cannot point to any advantage which has come to these industries with the application of Protection. Why, the most prosperous year which the motor industry in this country ever had was the 12 months during which the duties were off. What is the state of the artificial silk trade to-day—due to a large measure of Protection and the fullest security?
There are two questions which have been put to Protectionists tens of thousands of times, and no answer has yet been given to them. Protection is advocated by the right hon. Gentleman as a cure for unemployment. Now the first of these old questions is this: If it is going to cure unemployment here, why has it not cured unemployment in highly-protected countries? Answer that! There is no answer. We never hear anything of the 5,000,000 unemployed in America, a highly-protected country. Will hon. Members tell us why there are over 3,000,000 unemployed in Germany. And remember this—that not only have those two countries high protective tariffs, but they have something else. They have Empire Free Trade. The other question is this. If Protection is a good thing for the workers, why, as the right hon. Gentleman has admitted this afternoon, are the wages in many of these highly-protected countries one-half the wages in this country? When hon. Members opposite have answered those two simple questions then I will continue the discussion further, and not until then.
I do not press that matter further, but I propose to devote the rest of my reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping, and I am going to answer the right hon. Gentleman by quoting language which is much more forceful than any I am able to command. I am not going to quote what he said 15 or 20 years ago. I am going to give the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, delivered within 12 months of his being made a Member of the Cabinet of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin). One of the things he said was: 1563Disraeli said, 'Protection was not only dead but damned.' Mr. Baldwin was welcome to use that quotation in his next speeches.6.0 p.m.
He further said that the new Government—that is the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley—was one of nonentities—inexperienced politicians foisted into the great offices of State. The people were being asked whether they would scrap the commercial foundations of the country under the leadership of the March Hare and the Mad Hatter into some uninspired project of Protection. It was like giving a blank cheque to a man whose name was not known outside Worcestershire that day twelvemonth. The right hon. Gentleman gave his opinion upon the demand for safeguarding. He said that the safeguarding of industries was a temporary measure to give a feeling of security immediately after the War. The Act was for five years; it was passing away, and he hoped it would pass away for ever. He marvelled as he read statistics at the temerity, inconsequence and folly which has animated Mr. Baldwin and his colleagues in plunging into this wild adventure. Protectionists saw the river flowing to the ocean. They wondered anxiously how long it would be before the earth was all drained dry. His advice was to pause before they adopted any of these half-baked, ill-thought-out, adventurous schemes. The idea that unemployment was caused by foreign imports was absurd.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
The right hon. Gentleman has said that so very often, that I am not surprised that he remembers it. He also said that the line he had taken was one which he always intended to take, whatever the consequences. Within 12 months, the right hon. Gentleman had joined the unknown man of Worcestershire as second, perhaps most important, of his Ministers, in a Government which two years before had fought a General Election upon full-blooded protection. There are three points in the Motion. The first is that the Government's policy is responsible for unemployment. We are censured because we will not adopt 1564 the Tory programme of Protection. Well, we might do that, provided we knew what it was, but it is like the chameleon, which changes with every light that is thrown upon it. You never know what the right hon. Gentleman's policy on these questions will be tomorrow. In these matters, at any rate—and I do not say this offensively—the right hon. Gentleman is like the American politician in the Biglow Papers:A marciful Providunce fashioned 'him' holler,O' purpose thet 'he' might 'his' principles swaller.In that matter, if I may quote an old verse which I have quoted before, the two right hon. Gentlemen are like Siamese twins—Two souls with but a single thought,Two hearts that beat as one.But the main purpose of this Motion is declared to be to condemn me because of my reticence in regard to these Duties. I shall make no statement beyond what I have already said. The party opposite can move 50 votes of censure between now and 14th April. They can put 1,000 questions down on the Order Paper. The only answer which they will get will be the answer which was given by the father of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain)—the father of the modern Protectionist movement; the only answer they will get are his words, "What I have said, I have said."
§ Mr. OLIVER STANLEY
I do not propose to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer at any length in all the three parts into which this Motion falls. The first part with which he dealt is that which censures him for leaving the trades which have McKenna and Safeguarding Duties in a state of uncertainty. I cannot help feeling that there is behind his refusal a trace of personal feeling. It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman is afraid that, if he were in any way to recede from his original position, if he were to make any concession to our demand, it would be taken as a sign of weakness on his part. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that it would not. We on this side of the House and the country know the right hon. Gentleman. We know him as a man of metal—he is an Ironside with a heart of gold; his 1565 name is not confined to this country, but is spread beyond its bounds, and I understand that in the nurseries of France the name of the right hon. Gentleman is used with the same purpose and the same effect as the name of "Boney" was used in this country 100 years ago. He did not appear to give any real reason why he refuses to tell us. He said that he was not certain that any uncertainty was created, and that if any were created, it was not so bad as was made out, that the uncertainty created by previous Governments was greater, and that the uncertainty that future Governments may cause may be greater still. But he did not give a plain answer why he will not answer the question.
Is it not a mere slavish adherence to tradition, because it has been laid down that no Chancellor of the Exchequer should reveal his Budget secrets before the day of the Budget? If it is, I recommend the right hon. Gentleman to bring that tradition to the notice of his colleagues, because I remember the Lord Privy Seal some time in November, when speaking in an unemployment Debate, drew a loud burst of cheers from hon. Gentlemen behind him—which I remember particularly, because the cheers during that speech were not very frequent—by making a statement which I and they understood to be a promise of a tax on land values when the next Budget came.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
He never said that. There has been a wide misunderstanding of what my right hon. Friend said. He made not the slightest reference to a tax on land values. What he said was that the Government were considering powers for giving authorities power to buy land in order that the future increment value of land may accrue to the community.
§ Mr. STANLEY
I accept the right hon. Gentleman's explanation. Under those circumstances, I will acquit the Lord Privy Seal of any violation of tradition or of having obtained applause under false pretences. It is a little surprising to have the right hon. Gentleman, one of the leading lights of the iconoclastic party opposite, to whom traditions are but baubles to be taken away, basing his refusal on mere tradition. What is the reason given for this tradition against the revelation of Budget secrets? Surely 1566 it is a revenue tradition, for in 99 cases out of 100 the Chancellor of the Exchequer makes an alteration in the Budget for revenue purposes. He has a certain amount of money to raise in one year, and any statement before the expiration of the financial year as to what he intends to do might be entirely falsified by occurrences between then and the closing year. He might announce the imposition of a duty, which some subsequent economy made unnecessary, or he might announce the reduction of a duty, which by some sudden expenditure might become impossible.
But this is not a question of revenue. The right hon. Gentleman does not ask us to believe that the revenue of the country to-day is in such a situation that it allows or admits a reduction of taxation. This House and the country has been subjected for days during the last few months to a not very edifying wrangle between the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessor, as to whose fault it is that the cupboard is bare. All we do know is that the poor dog is not going to get anything. This is a matter of policy, and, if these duties are taken off, it is simply to carry out the right hon. Gentleman's Free Trade convictions. The right hon. Gentleman is giving cold comfort to those industries which are in a state of uncertainty whether after 14th April they are going to be protected or not. He treats them as if they were criminals. When they have asked him his intentions, he has fobbed them off with the mere reply that it is not done. Luckily, the right hon. Gentleman has only another month in which he can wreak his will on those industries, and in the meantime we must be content to regard it from our own point of view, either as a courageous conservative observance of immemorial tradition, or as the meaningless malicious obstinacy of a wilful man.
The second part of the Motion censures the Government for their unemployment policy. I intend to say little, for after the Debate of last Monday there is little to say. I experienced a curious illusion during that Debate, and I am certain that is was common to other hon. Members. Once or twice I had to rub my eyes, for it was the Lord Privy Seal speaking, it was the figure of the Lord Privy Seal, his face, his voice and his actions, but the words were the words of 1567 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland).
Let me turn to the third, and far the most important part of this Motion, the part that deals with the question, on the correct solution of which may depend a good deal of the industrial prosperity of this country for the next generation. I hoped that after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition we should have been able to approach this subject in a calmer atmosphere. I believe this is common to hon. Members on all sides of the House of my age and my experience—frankly, we do not understand the heat that is engendered by these discussions amongst older and more experienced and more-to-be-admired statesmen. We do not see why it is necessary to stigmatise every Free Trader as an unpatriotic fool or every Protectionist as an ignorant knave. Wide as our differences still may be, we are able to look on this question as a question of the regulation of national business, and to be discussed as such, and in the way in which such a topic should be discussed.
I was very much encouraged by a speech the other day by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). It made me think that there was a great deal more common ground between us than there used to be. The right hon. Gentleman, whose absence through illness we all deplore, is a man who has many critics, and I understand that those critics are not confined to any one section of the House, but do not let us forget that it is the right hon. Gentleman and not his critics who will be dealt with by the historians. It might be an impertinence in his presence to try to analyse his political value. In his absence, perhaps I may attempt it, and I should say that his greatest asset has been his realness. He looks at the world not as it may be in the future, not as he would like to believe that it is, but as it is in fact. He has no spontaneous upwelling of uncontrollable passion, except for oratorical purposes. He does not regard every political policy in the light of a crusade. He does not divide the protagonists of political thought into irreconcilable groups, black one side, white the other. After all, the right 1568 hon. Gentleman has got a better reason than most for remembering that there is always grey.
The right hon. Gentleman was speaking the other day on the Motion dealing with Empire Free Trade, and he referred quite incidentally to the importation of subsidised wheat. He naturally surrounded his statement with all the paraphrases and the safeguards which experienced statesmen employ. He did not know if there was a problem; if there was a problem, he did not know how serious it might be; and in any case he referred it in the last resort to a committee, that first thought and last hope of experienced statesmen. But it came down to this, that given the existence of certain circumstances he would be prepared to place an embargo upon the importation into this country of subsidised foreign wheat. Why? Not because of anything to do with its quality, because it would be injurious to our health; not for any political reason; not because he did not want to trade with Germany or France or any other country of export; but for the simple and sole reason that that wheat was coming into this country at too cheap a price. The price was the only consideration he had in his mind. Why did he object to the cheapness? Would the right hon. Gentleman have risen in his wrath if Brazil had subsidised the imports of coffee into this country at a ridiculous price? He only objected to the low price of wheat because that wheat, through its cheapness, came into competition, and overwhelming competition, with the wheat produced in this country.
When once you admit the principle that imports, through their cheapness, may be damaging and disastrous to the interests of the country and may require a Government effort to stop them, how can you confine it to products which have a Government subsidy? What is the difference in principle whether this importation be subsidised by taxpayers through a Government subsidy; by the consumer in the country abroad, because you charge him more and dump your surplus on the foreigner; or by the workers abroad, because you make him work under coolie conditions? It may be that the degree of the damage is different, that the taxpayer has a bigger back and can bear a bigger burden and bear it longer, but the principle is exactly the same; and 1569 once the right hon. Gentleman has admitted that in certain circumstances he would be entitled to, and would stop, the importation of wheat into this country because it was too cheap, he has driven a hole into the dyke of free trade which even the heroic thumb of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman) will not be able to stop for long. A great deal of the Free Trade cargo which hon. Members have been carrying for so long has got to be jettisoned, unless they are going to make the captain walk the plank. In any case, a number of good Free Trade speeches which have done yeoman service for 20 years will have to be drastically remodelled.
Hon. Members opposite also have their sacred relics, they have their ancient monuments of old traditions, the best preserved of which are on view this afternoon; but among the newer and younger Members of the Labour party I wonder how much real love there is for the old Cobdenite theory, how much they regard those old Free Trade doctrines as a religion? We have only to look at the Order Paper to-day and to compare the names which are appended to a Motion frankly Protectionist—not for a tariff, but a frankly Protectionist Motion—and the old Free Trade Amendment standing in the names of other hon. Members, to realise on which side of the fence is the youth of the party opposite. The other night the hon. Member for East Leicester (Mr. Wise), who has attracted very considerable attention in this House by his constructive and progressive thought, even though we may disagree with some of his conclusions, stated quite openly in debate that in his opinion the antiquated system of Free Trade was quite out of place in the modern world. I think we can take it that we have this amount of common ground, that ail parties are prepared at a certain time, in certain circumstances, and under certain conditions, to restrict the freedom of imports into this country, and it simply becomes a question now of when, why and how. Once you get down to that, you can discuss tariffs simply as one of your weapons, taking their place with embargoes, import licences, cartels and bulk purchases; you can discuss tariffs on a business-like basis, and discard them or adopt them on that basis alone.
1570 There is one other argument which was advanced by the right hon. Gentleman. I thought he would have to introduce it in the course of his speech. It is the idea that tariffs will lead to an overwhelming amount of lobbying and logrolling, corruption, and the like. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Well, really, are we to say that if for other reasons we believe a tariff policy to be the best in the interests of this country we dare not introduce it because it will subject Members of the House of Commons to a corruption which they will not be able to withstand? If so, it is a mere negation of democracy, and it comes ill from hon. Members opposite. After all, there is to-day a Labour Government in power in Australia. That Labour Government has not only carried on the Protectionist tradition, but it has increased the protective tariff. I do not know whether it is believed that industrialists in Australia are purer of heart, or that members of Parliament in Australia are stronger of will, than in this country. But in any case, I have heard no complaints against their integrity, and certainly the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has not yet excommunicated them and we know how particular he is.
I think we can now consider tariffs from a purely business point of view, apart from the old sentiments attaching to the question. The object of tariffs is to secure your home market for home producers without at the same time damaging your competitive power in the markets of the world. What are the reasons which makes one believe that tariffs may damage your competitive power? First, it is said that it may induce inefficiency in your protected industries; secondly, that it may increase the price of semi-manufactured articles which are the raw material of other industries, thereby increasing their cost of production, and decreasing their competitive power. It is obvious that a general system of Protection, put on indiscriminately, without inquiry and without any safeguards, may lead to those things which are feared, but are we really to be bound to an old-fashioned system? Is it impossible that in 20 or 30 years we have thought of something a little better? Are we confined to the old Safeguarding and McKenna Duties which have been 1571 discussed this afternoon? I know that facts are produced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to show that those duties have not helped industry. Facts can be produced from this side to show that they have. It may be true that facts cannot lie, but it is quite certain that facts can be used to demonstrate what the Leader of the Opposition calls the many-sidedness of truth.
But is it not possible that there is something better than the McKenna Duties or the Safeguarding Duties? The Safeguarding Duties suffered from a cumbrous procedure, with, in my mind, misguided terms of reference to the committees administering them, who, though most worthy and most energetic in their tasks, were not the best selected for the purpose. The McKenna and Safeguarding Duties are what one might call squinting duties. They were imposed with at least one eye, if not two eyes, upon the revenue. But cannot we ensure that when we put on duties we guard against the twin dangers of inefficiency and increase of price? When we are asked for something by these industries, why cannot we ask for something in return? When the railways come to us to ask for monopolies by Act of Parliament, we ask for safeguards from them. When electricity undertakings and gas undertakings come to ask for monopolies, we exact obligations from them. Why cannot we do exactly the same thing when manufacturing industries come and ask for what is, after all, a great deal, and that is a partial monopoly in this country for their particular products? Why cannot we demand efficiency as a condition of the granting of a tariff, and the maintenance of efficiency as a condition of its continuance? That does not seem to present insuperable difficulties.
The Prime Minister has set up an Economic Advisory Council, which has, I think, met with general approval. The only dissentient note is that of my hon. Friend the Member for Devonort (Mr. Hore-Belisha), but I think we can put that down to an upwelling of brilliant humour rather than of serious criticism. No doubt earnest Liberals in the country are still searching through the green, yellow and other coloured books to find out what part the hon. Member's candidate for that Council played in the compilation of those books. At that 1572 economic conference the Government had some of the best experts in the world on any subject not only intellectually but practical. We have the best industrialists, technicians, and engineers in any country, and we can get the best report upon the requirements of every industry in this country. Why is it not possible to say to any industry which asks us for this great gift of a tariff, "There are certain glaring defects in the organisation of your industry to-day. You ask us for something, and we are entitled to ask something from you in return. If you reorganise your industry you shall have your tariff and remove those defects"?
§ Mr. ANEURIN BEVAN
I understand that it is suggested that a tariff should be made the basis of efficiency, and that you cannot have efficiency until you have protected it by your tariff. Now I gather, if I understand the hon. Member correctly, that he is not going to allow a tariff unless first of all they answer the test of efficiency.
§ Mr. STANLEY
Unless, first of all, they agree to adopt the test of efficiency which you put to them. Then there is the question of price. It has always been the argument of the Protectionist that if you protect the home market the first and obvious consequence is a rise in the price of the article protected, and you will not have any increase in the cost of production. That is a far saner argument to-day than in the past. The whole trend of modern industry has been to decrease the proportion of labour costs in the production of any goods. The permanent overhead charges to-day form a far greater proportion than in the past. There is the upkeep of the factories, there is your technical staff, the sales organisation, the expenses of running and repairs to your machinery, and all those are permanent charges which have to be borne whether you are producing at 100 or 50 per cent capacity. It is only the smaller proportion of labour charges which vary in accordance with the proportionate capacity on which you are working. The system on which all Protectionist countries are working to-day is that you can afford to dump goods below the cost of production in other countries, if by that means you keep your factories running at 100 per cent., and thus reduce vour overhead charges.
1573 There is far more in the argument of the Protectionist to-day than in the past, but why should we take his word? Why should it not be a condition of his tariff that the price shall bear some relation to the price at which some small parcel of goods may be dumped? A dump supply is an unreliable supply, and not one upon which the industries of this country ought to depend. Why should we not make it a condition that it should be kept in some relation to the world price, the price at which the producer abroad supplies the consumer in his own country? It does not seem to me that either of those objects is unattainable, and I do not think the industries of this country would be averse from discussing tariffs upon that basis. I believe that upon that basis you might found a tariff policy which would be a selective, discriminative and safeguarded rather than a safeguarding policy which would do an infinite amount of good to our country industrially. I do not confess to the pessimism which possesses some people. I do not pretend, and I do not believe, that that policy would bring to this country overwhelming and continual prosperity. I do not believe that you will get that in this country, or in any other country until you have more sanity and less selfishness in your international use of gold, but I do believe that a scientific selective system in this country will enable you to get a fair share of the world's prosperity that is going, and one which will not see us again in the position in which we have been for the last five years, that is, a depressed country during what amounted almost to a world trade boom.
I have been a Free Trader and, in a sense, I am a Free Trader still, if by that is meant believing that a Free Trade world is a more peaceful and more prosperous world than a world split by tariff barriers. But what hope is there of that? Nearly 100 years ago Cobden and his school painted that picture for us, a picture of a world free from tariff barriers in which every country, by a process of elimination and selection, would finally arrive at the production of those goods which it produced best, and would settle down peacefully to produce those goods and no other. It happened by what can be only regarded as a merciful dispensation of providence 1574 that we buy more goods than anyone else. It was that definite combination of a moral crusade and material advance that made such an irresistible appeal to the predecessors of hon. Members below the Gangway. What was the reality? More barriers and not a Free Trade world but a world divided by higher barriers than before, not countries settling down to specialise on certain forms of industry, but every country striving at whatever cost to produce everything it needed for its requirements.
I only wish that the President of the Board of Trade had been here to tell us what he thinks of what is going on at Geneva, for I am afraid that they have not set themselves a very high standard. It is not a question of revising tariffs. All that they said was, "Let us see if we cannot agree in having a convenient period of notice in which anyone can make a change of tariffs if they wish to, and let us see if we can agree that for two years we will not raise our tariffs any more, with the exception, of course, of tariffs on certain articles which we will discuss in detail." That is not a very high standard, but, even judged by that standard, how far have they succeeded? I know that the right hon. Gentleman was most optimistic, and he thought that everything was proceeding according to plan. He said that they were discussing the details, and the conference was not dead. Of course it is not dead. International conferences are like old soldiers. They never die; they only fade away. I wonder if the President of the Board of Trade, in his heart of hearts, believes that he found agreement amongst the nations of the world, that Proection was damaging them, or anything more than a desire to see if they could not come to some agreement to maintain the tariffs which are helping them, and get their competitors to reduce the tariffs that are hindering them. A Free Trade world is a dream. The economic problem we have to face is the problem of the present. It is no good the Chancellor of the Exchequer talking about a conspiracy to impress upon the people of this country how bad the trade situation is with the idea of shaking their confidence. If there is a recent conspiracy, it is that in which the Lord Privy Seal is the chief conspirator. There is a real economic 1575 problem facing us which has got to be settled. It is no good waiting for the glorious dream which has not eventuated in 100 years, and hope that it will eventuate in 100 days. The truth is that England has failed to save Europe by her example, and it is time that she tried to save herself by her exertions.
§ Sir HERBERT SAMUEL
On these benches we unhesitatingly intend to support the Government to-day in resisting this Motion. We regard the Chancellor of the Exchequer as being ready to defend with great courage and consistency principles which we believe to be right in these fiscal affairs, and we shall certainly not desire to join in any pressure being put upon the right hon. Gentleman to engage in a preliminary disclosure of the proposals he may make in the Budget. We are prepared to await the propositions which the times will permit in reference to the duties which are now under discussion. Undoubtedly, it is somewhat surprising that the Opposition Front Bench should have put upon the Order Paper of the House a Motion urging the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day to take the most unusual course, the almost unprecedented course, of declaring to the country in advance what measures he is intending to propose to Parliament in his Budget.
If this were done in this case, how could it be resisted in similar cases in the future? Every year there are trades which will be affected by the imposition or repeal of taxes in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget, and every year there would be the same clamour that there was uncertainty through interfering with business and depreciating the prospects of unemployment. It was still more amazing since the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain), when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer in a Conservative Government, did make a disclosure in a wholly different matter not in the least parallel with this, but urged at the same time that he hoped no future successor of his would ever adopt the same course. In spite of that, we find this Motion coming from his present colleagues in Opposition.
It is true that uncertainty is affecting business. It is true, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, that this is the natural consequence of bringing this 1576 question of tariff duties on to the Floor of the House of Commons at all. I cannot understand how hen. Members above the Gangway can make speeches in the country urging that business should be kept out of politics and advising politicians to leave business men alone to conduct their own businesses in their own way without interference from the House of Commons, and yet, at the same time, asking the country deliberately to adopt a policy which will inevitably involve not once or twice, but year after year, all kinds of questions affecting the trade and business of this country coming before Parliament in order to be dealt with on the Floor of the House. I think the consequences of that will be very grave upon our Parliamentary life and our political system.
It is bad enough to have had for many years one great industry, the liquor trade, which has taken for its motto, "My trade my politics," but the scheme we are considering would almost compel every industry to take as its motto, "My trade my politics." In the constituencies of all of us we should be pressed by the vested interests, who were seeking to secure the favour of a tariff imposed by Act of Parliament, to come here and advocate, not the general policy which we think right in the interests of the nation as a whole, but the particular policy which might be to the immediate interest of some group of producers, whether employers or workmen, in our own constituencies. During the latter half of the 19th century trade and commerce were free from this interference, and employers never had to consider whether Parliament would come down upon them and impose some duty which would affect them to their detriment, or whether by exercising sufficient pressure they could get Parliament to help them by imposing some duty which was to the advantage of their interests, however deleterious it might be to consumers at large. Therefore, this plea as to interference, uncertainty, and detriment to business, comes with a very ill grace from those who would make it a general rule year after year of our political life.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin), in moving this Motion, gave us a most interesting historical disquisition, going back 100 years for his authorities, and I think the 1577 most recent was Bagehot. He expected, possibly, that some of us on these benches might in defence rise and plead the cause of general laissez faire. The right hon. Gentleman himself must be living intellectually in those days if he has not realised that there is no section of this House now which preaches, or would desire to practice, the old doctrine of laissez faire as propounded by Ricardo or James Mill. We have moved far from that. We are not concerned here with the fiscal doctrines of 100 or even 50 years ago. Hon. Members above the Gangway have preached so often the strange legend that the Liberal party hold the opinions that they do out of devotion to the illustrious memories of Cobden and Bright that they have almost come to believe it themselves, but it has not the remotest connection with the truth. If we are Free Traders, as we are, it is because we are convinced that that policy is the best for our own country in the present circumstances of the world. We are prepared to argue it upon that basis, and are not in the least inclined to be tempted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley into any discussion of the views of James Mill or of Ricardo.
All these matters must be judged on their merits, and on their present-day merits. We have all come to the conclusion, and we have declared it in our public statements of policy on many occasions, that we think that now there is the need for social, communal action for the improvement of the condition of the people in a score of directions which our predecessors in the last century would have considered impossible; but that does not lead us necessarily to the conclusion that we must have State interference on every occasion and whenever it can be proposed. That can be compared with what an old English writer called the logic of the roasting-jack—it must go on to the last turn when once it has been wound up. We have to consider these questions each on its own merits. We remain convinced on the doctrine of freedom of commerce, while at the same time recognising in many directions the need of social action with regard to the conditions of labour, education, sanitation, and a score of other matters. Some may say that we on these benches are committed to the McKenna Duties on account 1578 of their origin, that some of us—I myself, for one—were Members of the Government which originally imposed those duties, and it is sometimes asked, how can we consistently advocate their abolition?
The reason is that those duties were proposed in the first instance in time of war, purely as a war measure for that particular occasion—not with any protective purpose, not even with any revenue purpose beyond a very small element of desire to increase the revenue that might come in, but mainly, and indeed almost solely, because it was essential at that time to conserve as far as possible shipping space in incoming vessels for all kinds of goods which were essential for maintaining the general life of the country under war conditions. Further, in the interest of maintaining the exchanges, it was essential to check all imports that were not of real value to the nation in the circumstances of those days. Let it be remembered, also, that these duties which we are discussing now are not the McKenna Duties that were originally imposed, for they were all repealed when the present Chancellor of the Exchequer was previously in office, and in 1924 they disappeared from the Statute Book. If they are there again now, and if we are discussing them this evening, it is because the late Government reimposed them. It is their duties, and not our duties, that we are now engaged in considering.
One argument of much interest was used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley. It is frequently heard in these discussions, and it is a comparatively new argument; it was not much heard of when these matters were discussed in earlier times. The right ton. Gentleman expressed it in this way: The hope of our industry lies in rationalisation. He, he said, is a rationaliser. How can that be secured? It must be secured by giving the industries time to organise themselves, preserving for them the home market, and enabling them by that security to raise the capital which is necessary in order to transform them into such a position as is required by modern conditions. That is a theory which deserves close and candid attention. It is said, further, that if this is done there will not be a permanent rise in prices. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth 1579 (Sir H. Croft) has repeatedly urged that in the long run Protection of this sort need not raise prices, because, once these industries are rationalised, they will be working full time, and, if they are working full time, they can produce more cheaply and, therefore, prices need not permanently rise, or even might not rise at all. Let us see how long the period is to be which is to be allowed for this transformation. Take those very industries which we are now considering. The key industries were protected in 1921, when the right bon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley was himself President of the Board of Trade. He introduced the Bill, and he used this argument. He said that we must secure the establishment of certain industries; we must give them time to root themselves here, and in the Bill a time limit of five years was proposed. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say:The abject of fixing the period for five years, which I quite agree may be described as an arbitrary period, is that that is a term of years which, after very careful consideration, we believe is long enough for an industry to prove that, when it is not having special financial assistance, and when there will still be in some cases competition, those industries can so solidify their position and so perfect their experiments that they may be able to stand and flourish in free competition at the end of the period. If they are unable to do so, I think it is very possible that the Government of the day five years hence may have to confess that the endeavours made by this Government to root in our soil industries that we believe to be essential have failed, and it is very possible that no further attempt may be made.The right hon. Gentleman concluded by saying:I think that in specifying five years we have gone to the limit of what the industries may reasonably expect."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st May, 1921; cols. 876–7, Vol. 142.]That was nine years ago, and to-day the right hon. Gentleman comes down to the House to protest against the special protection of these industries coming to an end after a period of close upon 10 years. As to the motor industry, that has had Protection for 14 or 15 years, with the sole exception of the eight or nine months when the McKenna Duties were repealed under the Labour Administration of 1924. What, then, becomes of this theory that you only have to protect for a little 1580 while in order to enable an industry to organise and rationalise so as to be able effectively to meet on equal terms the competition of any part of the world? The right hon. Gentleman, however, laid great emphasis to-day upon this argument, and it is an argument which does interest the country as a whole.
We have rationalised industries in this country. The electrical machinery industry is highly prosperous, its exports are increasing with great rapidity, it is giving full employment to its workpeople, and it is not protected. It has no Safeguarding Duties, but it is working under Free Trade, and it is rationalised. The chemical industry, again, is protected only to a very small extent, and there is another industry with which I happen to be familiar, because it exists to a large extent in my own constituency, namely, the wallpaper industry. That is rationalised. The whole industry has been carefully organised, and it is extremely prosperous, is working full time and is paying adequate wages. Now we read in the Press that the shipbuilding industry is on the point of taking drastic measures to reorganise its production, and to secure the best possible conditions of output. That industry is not protected. The cotton industry, also, which has not sought and does not seek Protection, is in many directions seeking to rationalise itself. The fact is that rationalisation is one thing, and Protection is another. You may have rationalisation without Protection, and you may have Protection without rationalisation. Indeed, if you grant Protection, you are far less likely to have the stimulus, the impetus to rationalise that you get under Free Trade. Rather would the employers be inclined to adopt the policy which was described by the Minister of Transport in another connection—the simple policy of high prices, quick profits and a quiet life. It is when they are subjected to the fierce blasts of foreign competition, and are under the hard necessity of reorganising their industries, that they are most likely to be induced to take the course that the conditions of the age require.
There is another argument. It is urged most strongly that these industries are subjected to unfair competition. The usual phrase is, "the sweated labour on the Continent." When the late Government laid down the conditions that they 1581 proposed to apply in regard to Safeguarding, they put that in the forefront. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's (Sir L. Worthington-Evans), the late Secretary of State for War, stated in the House in the last Parliament the conditions which the Government considered necessary before any industry could be granted Safeguarding, and one was that it had to be proved that the goods so imported were manufactured in the country of origin under unfair or inferior conditions of hours or wages, and, unless that could be proved, there was to be no Safeguarding. The Conservative party, therefore, laid it down as a definite condition that there must be unfair or inferior conditions of hours and wages. Could that be claimed with regard to the motor industry? The motor industry is the one which attracts most attention in our Debate to-day, but all the world knows that the really effective competition against the British motor industry comes from America, where the conditions as to hours and wages are certainly not inferior, but in some respects are superior to our own. How, then, can it be claimed in Parliament to-day that the motor industry of Great Britain is entitled to Protection, is entitled to be Safeguarded? I hope that if any hon. Member follows on the Protectionist side he will explain why it is that certain conditions should be laid down for industries in general, which must be necessary qualifications for Safeguarding, and yet it is now insisted and demanded that an industry which patently does not conform to those conditions should nevertheless have similar benefit. As a matter of fact, the condition of the motor industry is an example of how hollow and short-sighted this argument is that we must have tariff Protection in this country because of lower wages on the Continent.
It is a profound error to think that cheap labour necessarily means cheap production. It certainly does not. During the whole of the last century British industries had to face competition from Continental countries. Wages have been lower and hours have been longer in those Protectionist countries, but nevertheless our British industries were able to flourish in competition, owing to the skill of managers, owing to the skill and industry of workpeople, owing to our geographical situation, and owing to our 1582 Free Trade system, which allowed our manufacturers to obtain all that they required from any quarter of the world. Only a few days ago a most interesting and informing speech was made by the chairman of the Ford Motor Company in this country, Sir Percival Perry, in which he dealt with this question of the comparative rates of wages here and abroad. He said that the Ford Company had made the most careful inquiries as to the comparative labour value of the wages they pay, and they compared how long it took each respective man to complete his work. He said that precisely the same processes were being carried on in their works here in Manchester and in similar works in various parts of the world.In Denmark, where we pay the highest wages in Europe, we find the lowest costs. On the other hand, in Belgium, where the wages are lowest, the minute costs are highest. This is no flash-in-the-pan casual comparison. Week after week and month after month the figures confirm this experience.7.0 p.m.
The Ford Company, he tells us, in Manchester are paying wages for a 40-hours week which amount to nearly £6 a week, and they can compete effectively with those wages. Always it has been the case that we have to compete with lower wages on the Continent, and it is not now an unanswerable argument for safeguarding. I anticipated that we should have had to-day—perhaos we will have it later on—a defence of the safeguarding system based on the experience of the particular industries concerned. I expect we shall have assertions made that employment has vastly increased for these particular industries.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) says "Hear, hear!" but he himself only a few weeks ago introduced into this House a Private Member's Bill to require all the employers in the safeguarded industries to make returns of the numbers they employed, and the reasons he gave to the House in a 10 minutes' speech were that there were no figures now existing which showed the extent of employment in these industries.
§ Sir H. CROFT
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent me. My point was that the figures are only shown in the big group. My request 1583 was that the House should get information about all the subsidiary industries which make accessories.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
That is precisely what I was saying. There must be some misunderstanding. There are no figures which show the extent of employment now and previously in the safeguarded trades. They are all grouped together in large statistical units, and, therefore, nothing is known as to the number of people employed in these particular industries. Answers have been given by the Minister of Labour both in the present Government and in the last Government saying that it is impossible to give any figures showing the effect of Safeguarding Duties upon employment in the trades to which they apply. If it is the case that the particulars are available why should the hon. and gallant Member have gone to the trouble of introducing a Bill and asking Parliament to pass it into law in order to supply particulars which are required for his sake in this controversy? Then, again, there is the experience of the trades now subjected to Safeguarding. This is a point of vital importance in the whole of this controversy.
The effect of Protection upon our export trade is by far the most important question that arises. For this country must live by its exports. This small island, which must necessarily import most of its foodstuffs and raw materials, even if every acre of land were cultivated to the highest point, can only purchase them by exporting, and mainly by exporting manufactured goods. Our experience leads to this. If the manufacturers of this country say, "We are beaten in the home market by these imports; we cannot compete even here in our markets at our own doors; we are beaten, and we must have tariff protection or we give in." If they say that, what chance have they of competing with those countries in all the neutral markets of the world? Beaten here in the United Kingdom by what is supposed to be the cheaper labour of other countries, compelled to come to Parliament and say that they must close their works if those goods are not shut out, how can they preserve their trade in South America, in Asia, in Africa, in all the countries of the world? That is the most dangerous of all the effects of these 1584 safeguarding proposals. We have had before us the result in regard to the present safeguarded industries. Apart from three—motor cars, gramophones and artificial silk—in which trade has expanded in all countries, in almost every other case the exports of the safeguarded trades have gone down since the duties have been imposed. With the exception of those three which I have mentioned, in which the trade is expanding in all countries owing to a vast increase of demand for a new article, with regard to almost all the others—I can give the figures if necessary—exports have gone down seriously.
There is one other argument advanced in favour of the retention of these duties. It is said that foreign factories come in and that many foreigners come within the shelter of these duties, put up new factories here and give employment, and that, by refusing to give that protection, you are discouraging a movement of that character. It is an argument which is, on the face of it, plausible and carries conviction to a great number of people who do not know the full facts. Foreign factories for many a year past have been set up in this country in order to gain the advantages which I have mentioned. For example, our great electrical machine industry has been built up very largely by American and German firms which have come here in order to produce those goods which are not and have not been in any way protected—the General Electric, British Thomson-Houston, Western Electric, Siemens. Only a few days ago it was mentioned in the "Times" that three new American factories—no doubt on a small scale—have been opened in Welwyn Garden City for the manufacture of grindstones, shredded wheat, and corsets. None of them are protected articles. Here are foreign factories coming in to have the advantages of the labour and financial and geographical conditions and of the freedom of import which are to be found in this country. But where are the new foreign factories in the great number of industries now protected for several years? There are one or two motor and tyre factories, but what about lace, cutlery, gloves, gas mantles, packing and wrapping paper, china, buttons and hollow-ware? All these are protected. How many foreign factories have come in to take advantage of those 1585 conditions? Hardly one. We are told that there is a new factory of the Ford Company which is being erected at Dagenham involving an expenditure of £2,500,000 and likely to employ great numbers of British workmen. The Chairman of that company—I will quote from his speech again—said last week:I wish to take this opportunity most emphatically to deny certain statements which have been made—namely, that the imposition of import duties has impelled foreign manufacturers to establish industrial works in Britain. …. I have to go back to pre-War days to tell you that long before Mr. McKenna was Chancellor Mr. Henry Ford had acquired land in Britain, retained British architects and experts, built models of factories, and practically concluded his plans for the development of the European Ford industry, along the lines which this company is to-day pursuing. It was only the outbreak of War which postponed these plans. That they were not immediately resumed at the close of the War was owing to the fact that general disturbance of commercial conditions throughout the world seemed to indicate that it was unwise to do so at that time. I think I may tell you frankly that our company does not object to the McKenna Duties and really does not care whether they are continued or removed, or varied.So you have this clear statement that this company was about to be established before the McKenna Duties, before there was any question of protected duties or of a policy of this character. The Chairman of this great company which is engaged in this great expenditure tells the country and the House that it makes no difference to him whether the duties are continued or removed.
This Motion does not deal only with the Safeguarding Duties. It protests against the Government not being ready to extend and to increase Imperial Preference. This House has to vote to-day on whether it desires to see such an extension. What form is that extension to take? The right hon. Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin) was very careful to tell us nothing about it. I wonder whether the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) will be more forthcoming. We know that any effective preference to the Colonies and Dominions and to India as well—and India is a very important consideration in this connection—can only be given by imposing duties on imported foodstuffs and raw materials. Is that within the policy of the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench or is it not? We have an absolute right to press 1586 them in this Debate on that point. We are asked to vote for or against a Vote of Censure on the Government. If that vote were carried, it would result in the resignation of the Government and the installation of another, and we have a right to know what policy those who move this Vote of Censure would follow.
Before the last General Election, the right hon. Gentleman was absolutely specific, perfectly clear beyond the possibility of the shadow of a doubt. Speaking at the great meeting of his party immediately before the General Election, at Drury Lane—not on some inconspicuous or unimportant occasion—he used these words:We are pledged, and shall continue to be pledged, not to introduce Protection. We are pledged, and shall continue to be pledged, not to impose any taxes upon food.For how long is that undertaking to hold good? That is within a year. Does it hold still? The right hon. Gentleman really ought to tell us whether it holds or whether it does not. The Member for Bewdley has a great reputation for frank, innocent, almost bucolic, sincerity and outspokenness. If the wishes to withdraw his pledge, I submit that he must formally do so. If he does not formally do so, he must be regarded as held to it. If he is to be held to it, then what is to be said by the advocates of the United Empire party? What will be said by his new ally? But if the contrary, what will be said by the right hon. Member for Epping who has denounced food taxes again and again in the most unsparing terms? We shall know soon whether he still adheres to that opinion. I cannot feel quite certain about it when I remember the fluctuations of the right hon. Gentleman's opinions in certain matters. Like the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I will not go back over a long period and quote his words of long ago. We all know that in our politics there is nothing so completely obsolete as the Winston Churchill of 10 years before, but the right hon. Gentleman only a short time before the election, in January, 1929, went to the Manchester Chamber of Commerce and, in the course of his speech, said he supposed that most of his audience, like himself, were Free Traders. Does the right hon. Gentleman still adhere to that view?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I wish my right hon. Friend would complete the quotation. It is frequently quoted in a mutilated and completely misrepresenting form.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
It is a plea for the Safeguarding policy which he was advocating, and he ended by saying:In pleading for this matter being kept out of ordinary Parliamentary politics, let me say that I presume here in this audience probably the great majority are Free Traders, as I am myself.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The right hon. Gentleman is completely perverting the purpose of the speech. The purpose of the speech was to point out the new conditions which had arisen, the successful experiments in Safeguarding which had been made, and to urge the audience in Manchester to support those experiments, although they and I still adhered to the general method and principle of Free Trade.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
I understand. The right hon. Gentleman was advocating Protection as a Free Trader. The right hon. Gentleman is not only distinguished in our politics; he is unique. Many of our statesmen in days gone by have found it necessary, owing to changing circumstances or for other reasons known to themselves, to advocate opposite things at different times, and there are many precedents for that, from the days of Peel, and Gladstone, and Disraeli, right down to the right hon. Gentleman, but I think the right hon. Gentleman is the only one known to our history who advocates opposite principles at the same time. He proclaims Free Trade, and would promote Protection. He opposes food taxes and is also ready to accept them. [Interruption.] If he and his colleagues are not accepting food taxes, they are playing most unfairly with the innocence of Lord Beaverbrook.
The matter, however, we are told, is to be finally decided not here, but by a Referendum of the whole country. When the Referendum was last advocated in this House, I opposed it from that box, and I had no more vehement ally than my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping. He said, in the course of those Debates, that Mr. Balfour, who was then Leader of the Oppositionmight wish, by means of the Referendum, to rid his party of the incubus of Tariff 1588 Reform, on the principle that one poison is used to expel another,and that Mr. Balfour's object was to confuse the naked issue that would otherwise be before the country. That is not all. He denounced the Referendum as an expedient, as a constitutional method, and, with the rhetoric and ring which are familiar to us, he said that if this were adoptedthe stable foundation from which this House has so long been able to administer the affairs of the Empire would be exchanged for a tossing sea of frenzied electioneering, Parliamentary and representative institutions which have been the historic glory of these islands would be swept away, and, in their places, we would have the worst forms of Jacobinism, Caesarism and anarchy.This is the method which the right hon. Gentleman now proposes for the eager acceptance of Parliament and the nation. Perhaps we shall have a reply from the right hon. Gentleman on these points; I am sure I have given him plenty of material.
Let me come back for one moment to another point which is of substance, and of more serious interest than even those to which I have just been referring. The right hon. Member for Bewdley said that we must adopt Safeguarding, because otherwise we would have no weapon to meet the hostile tariffs of other countries, that we must retaliate, and that only by retaliation should we be able to enjoy a general freedom of commerce. But all the countries of Europe have had this tariff weapon in their hands for generations past. They have been free to retaliate exactly as they chose against any of their neighbours. Not one of them has been able to get better terms for their commerce in the markets of their neighbours than we can get in the same markets. German goods do not go into France on better conditions than do British goods, and French goods do not go into Germany on better conditions than do British goods. Then why are we told that, if we copied them, we should be able to surpass their results?
I would agree that, if this weapon were likely to be effective, if we could impose tariff duties to secure reductions, with the certainty that immediately afterwards we could take them off, if they would be so effective for bargaining that they never need come into operation, if the mere threat of them would cause the 1589 walls of Jericho to fall, if that were the case, we might consider the matter, but we are convinced that it would not be so, that it would prove in our hands, as in the hands of those who have already wielded it, a futile and useless weapon. Let us look, then, at the condition of these Protectionist countries. I was amazed at the right hon. Member for Bewdley quoting a passage from Bagehot and not seeing its full application to the present circumstances. He said that we had not secured universal Free Trade, and that the peoples of the Continent said to us, to Free Trade England: "You may adopt Free Trade if you like, but it would not suit us. You are rich and strong, but we are poor and weak, and therefore we must have Protection against you." And he said that the same conditions applied to-day.
Why are we rich and strong, and why are they poor and weak, if we have such a bad fiscal system and they have such a good one? Let us judge this matter in the light of actual experience. That is the test, and not the theories or the doctrines of 50 or 100 years ago. [An HON. MEMBER: "Cobden!"] Let the hon. Member realise that we never base our case, that I have never known any Free Trader say that we ought to adopt Free Trade here simply because Cobden said it 50 years ago. We say: Look at the experience of the world now and judge the We systems as they exist in the world as we know it. A vast country like the United States of America, with immense natural resources, and the biggest Free Trade market in the world, cannot be compared with a little island like this, but compare us with our own neighbours in Europe, with countries which are like our own, and then see how the comparison works out. Germany has 3,250,000 unemployed to-day, and yet we are told that we must grasp at any method of relief for our own unemployed, and that it is only by adopting the German system of tariffs that we shall be able to improve our conditions.
Take all these various countries. There has been a most interesting paper published, not by any Free Trade organisation, not by any British organisation, but by the League of Nations, showing the height of the various tariffs of the principal industrial countries of Europe, and there has been another paper published 1590 by another Department of the League of Nations—no connection—showing what are the real wages of the working people in the various countries of Europe. Currency wages are no guide. We must take into account not only money wages, but what they will buy. And let the House mark this most remarkable fact: There are three countries which stand at the head of the list as having the lowest tariffs, and they are Great Britain, Holland and Denmark, and the three countries which stand at the head of the list as having the highest real wages are Denmark, Great Britain and Holland. The four countries which have the next lowest protective tariffs, but not very high tariffs, are Belgium, Germany, France and Sweden, and the four countries which have the next highest wages to the first group are Sweden, Germany, France and Belgium. The four countries which have the highest Protection and have adopted this admirable method of shutting out all foreign manufactures and keeping the home market entirely to the home producer are Italy, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Spain, and the four countries where the conditions of labour are the worst and the real wages are at the bottom are Spain, Czechoslovakia, Italy and Poland. And yet we are asked to abandon our system and adopt theirs!
The right hon. Member for Bewdley accused the Labour party of being too-insular, too arrogant in their local pride. For Heaven's sake, let us remain insular if our insular system brings us such infinitely better results than the Continental system, for it must be admitted by every Protectionist that the conditions of the people here are better than the conditions of the people on the Continent of Europe, that wages are higher and hours are shorter. Indeed, that is the very reason why they want to put tariffs against their goods. It must be admitted by everyone that the wealth of this country is far greater than theirs. Our shipping, thanks to Free Trade, is half the shipping of the whole world, and the exports of this country in proportion to population are nearly double the exports of manufactured goods of any country in the whole world. Insular? Yes, and let us remain insular on these conditions.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth should contain himself. He is always bubbling over with the fermentation of 20 years' accumulation of fallacies. Some of my hon. Friends here have put down upon the Paper an Amendment to this Motion. Probably there will not be an opportunity of moving it. In that Amendment we endeavour to show that our policy in these matters is not merely negative. We advocate a large constructive policy of reform dealing with industry as well as agriculture, the relations of labour and capital, and Imperial development. Our view is not merely negative, but on this occasion we have to vote simply upon the questions of Free Trade and Protection and upon this Vote of Censure which has been moved against the Government. We congratulate the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the stand that he is making for sound fiscal principles and we are glad of the opportunity of supporting his views, and on this occasion we shall go into the Lobby in complete support of the policy of the Government.
§ Sir ROBERT HORNE
The question before the House is whether the Government should be censured for their disregard of the best interests of the country in a matter of grave importance. The Resolution regrets that the Government have neglected to give an indication to the country of the policy that they are going to adopt in regard to certain duties, by reason of which they have increased unemployment, and it further deplores the fact that they have not adopted the policy of Imperial Preference which would benefit the nation. As I understood the reply of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he said that he had been asked to disclose what he should only be invited to disclose when he opens his Budget. As one who has held the high office which the right hon. Gentleman now occupies, I agree that it is not wise nor is it normal to make a disclosure previous to the Budget being opened but, obviously, that is a question of degree. It is not going to be said by anybody that if the country were faced with a calamity unless a disclosure upon a particular 1592 matter was made, that that convention or rule would be applied. The right hon. Gentleman has not been very consistent in this matter. He says, "Why should I declare beforehand whether or not I shall repeal a particular duty, and leave people to take certain action which otherwise they would not have taken?" He has done that very thing in regard to the Safeguarding Duties.
§ Mr. SNOWDENindicated dissent.
§ Sir R. HORNE
It is no good the right hon. Gentleman shaking his head. Let me remind him that some months ago he informed the House that when the Safeguarding Duties had terminated their ordinary period he would not renew them. Was not that a disclosure to the country as to what he intended to do? He did not disclose his intentions in regard to the McKenna Duties, because he had not made up his mind. I do not know whether his mind is made up yet, but I do know that it is because of that uncertainty—because he expressed his mind in regard to the Safeguarding Duties and refused to make any disclosure in regard to the McKenna Duties—that we have such great uncertainty in the country, which is creating very great trouble and difficulty for those who are endeavouring to carry on business. The whole question for the Chancellor of the Exchequer must resolve itself into a consideration of the situation. Are the conditions so grave that a disclosure ought to be made, and what are their counterbalancing difficulties? Could anyone suffer any harm to-day if the right hon. Gentleman announced whether he was going to repeal the duties upon motor cars? I cannot conceive a single creature who could suffer any damage or injury by being told, but, on the other hand, I know that a very great deal of damage is being done through want of knowledge.
What is the situation with which we are dealing? It is the gravest position in regard to unemployment that this country has even known. I am amazed at the optimistic speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel). No one in touch with the business of this country could by any chance utter such optimistic sentiments.
§ Sir R. HORNE
The right hon. Gentleman represented to the House that we are in a far better position than France. Is that his view? Would anybody compare our conditions to-day favourably with those of France?
§ Sir R. HORNE
The conditions in France at the present time, as everybody knows, are infinitely superior to ours. They are not faced with our difficulties, they are living in greater comfort and they are not confronted with the terrible disease which is eating into the hearts of our people—the disease of unemployment.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
Does the right hon. Gentleman attribute their condition in regard to employment to tariffs, or to some other cause?
§ Sir R. HORNE
That is not the case with which I am dealing. I am taking things in their proper order. Apparently, the right hon. Gentleman thinks that everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds in this country. No more grotesque description was ever given in the House of Commons as to the real position. So far from being able to look upon the position with equanimity, we are in a very grave position, and it is because of that position and because of what the Chancellor of the Exchequer is doing by way of intensifying the difficulties of the position that we have moved this Vote of Censure, and have asked him to disclose what he intends to do. He admits that a condition of uncertainty is bad for business. It must be obvious to everyone that that is so. Take, for example, the motor car industry. Their plans have to be made months and months ahead as to the business they are going to do. When the 1930 model comes out it is not something which has been produced in the course of a few weeks. It has been a matter of careful consideration and calculation for very many months. What they are able to do in regard to new models must depend absolutely upon the facilities which are available to them, and the market which they can expect. If they do not know whether 1594 they are going to have a tremendous influx of American motor cars into this country when our shores are opened to them—the Chancellor of the Exchequer laughs.
§ Sir R. HORNE
It would be a very good thing for the right hon. Gentleman if at some time he had to face up to business and had to deal with the burdens and the troubles which industrialists have to face. The difficulty is that all these calculations and arrangements and preparations have to be made long before.
§ Sir R. HORNE
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the whole thing depends upon the market which the manufacturer can expect? If the manufacturer does not know what that market is going to be, how does the right hon. Gentleman imagine that he can make his arrangements? Employment has gone down in the motor trade in the last two or three months. The right hon. Gentleman has made reference to Coventry, but will he pay some regard to the employment statistics for the last few months. If he does so, he will find that the rate of increase in unemployment in the motor industry has been twice as much as the general rate for the whole country. If he looks at the figures for the silk industry he will find that unemployment has gone up by enormous proportions in the last few months. The right hon. Gentleman declines to see people. When a delegation wishes to see him, they are not allowed to go. He will not take the information that they are prepared to put before him. The only people that he will see are his friends. A deputation from the Free Trade League is readily admitted to him. When a silk trade deputation wishes to see him he tells them that they have nothing to say to him that he does not know already. Apparently, the Free Trade League or the Free Trade Union can tell him something that he did not know. I read the speeches that they made to him. I could have written those speeches before they went to him. The right hon. Gentleman occupies a very high and responsible position, and he refuses to obtain his information from 1595 people who can give it to him. I do not wonder that he is in a condition of ignorance.
The right hon. Gentleman maintains two opposite positions. He said that he accepted the view that uncertainty produced unemployment, and then he told us that it had not produced any.
§ Sir R. HORNE
The fact is that the Free Traders in this House seem to take up an obscurantist position which is not adopted by Free Traders outside. It never was the attitude of the advocates of Free Trade to say that a trade would not be benefited when it was protected by a duty. On the contrary, they have said that it was beneficial to such trade at the expense of other industries. Apparently, the attitude taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon is that none of these trades has been benefited. Let me deal with that point. I will take the figures of the various trades which have obtained these Duties. Taking them singly and collectively, employment has increased in every one of them.
§ Sir R. HORNE
Take the motor trade. If the right hon. Gentleman's figures are not available, I will take the figures that are given by members of the trade, who have facilities for recording the amount of employment. I find that, during the time that these Duties have been in existence, employment has gone up from 214,000 employés to 244,000. That does not nearly represent the whole situation. There are innumerable trades which are supplying the essentials required for the motor car trade, and those trades have been busy and have benefited in their employment. If we reckon the employment that is given by the motor car trade it cannot be put at less than 500,000 people. What has happened in the silk industry? In the period during which the Duties have been imposed the number of people employed has gone up from 45,000 to 73,000. It is obvious that these trades are not going to employ this larger number of people unless they are profiting from it. It is idle to say that these protected trades have not benefited by the Duties. In all these cases 1596 there has been a feeling of security which has enabled them to advance in a way that they were never able to do before.
The right hon. Gentleman asks how these duties are going to help the export trade. They help the export trade for a reason that every business man understands. The bigger the market you can depend on the more cheaply you can manufacture per unit. You will find that in every textbook of American business economics. You will find it set forth that the reason why America can export her goods against the rest of the world although she has higher wages, is that she has Protection and security at home and so can put her goods on other markets at competitive prices. That is one reason why the exports of our safeguarded industries have increased during recent years while the exports of all the other industries in this country have gone down. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made the remark that these Duties were simply asked for by selfish manufacturers. I cannot understand his using phraseology of that kind. I have been at the Board of Trade. When there I received deputations on the question of imposing Safeguarding Duties. The workmen are as keen upon getting these Duties as are the employers.
§ Sir R. HORNE
Again the right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Who were the people who came and asked for Safeguarding for wool? A combination of the manufacturers and the workmen. Who were the people who asked the present Government to take action on steel? The workmen in combination with the employers. Who asked for safeguarding in the case of fabric gloves? A large deputation of workmen and masters came in combination to me. I believe there is not a single case in which the workmen are not as eager that these duties should be sustained as are the employers. I saw the figures of a ballot taken in the hollow-ware trade. In favour of the maintenance of the duties there were 76 per cent., 8 per cent. against and 16 per cent. did not vote. How then can the right hon. Gentleman come here with a travestied statement that it is only the selfishness of manufacturers that asks for a retention of the duties?
1597 Is there any good reason for taking off the duties? It is admitted, surely, that any change will create difficulties in an industry. I have read some articles in the "Nation." Some of the phraseology of the Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon seemed almost to have been taken straight from that journal. But what does the "Nation" point out? That it was no part of Free Trade doctrine that the taking off of established duties would not create grievous unemployment. The journal points out that it would be certain to create unemployment. It urged the Government not to do it, and begged Liberals not to believe that the taking off of the duties would be of any advantage to them at the election. It said that Liberals would be faced with the unemployment that had been caused and would be blamed for it. What reason is there for anyone taking off the duties now? Are they doing any harm to anyone? Has there been an outcry from a single creature that his business is being damaged by the duties?
If there is no advantage to be gained by dropping the duties, what extraordinary cynicism it is, for the sake of a mere phrase and for an old theory, to run the risk—I shall not put it any higher—of putting people out of employment! Is there one of us who, if we had the power, would say that we would put any single man or woman out of employment? I beg the Government to think twice before they bring such misery upon the people whose claims they profess to advocate. If there is to be no good purpose served by interfering with the duties, why interfere? Is it by any chance the fact that the continuance of the duties is perpetually demonstrating the falsity of Free Trade doctrines? What has been our experience of the duties? We were told that they would raise prices. Have they raised prices? There is no one who can bring any evidence of it. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about agriculture then?"] I am not on that point now; I am dealing with this Vote of Censure.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I do not think there is any evidence that prices will go down if the duties are taken off. Is there any evidence of an increase of price now that the duties are on?
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why the price of motor cars went down when the duties were last abolished?
§ Sir R. HORNE
At that particular time, when the right hon. Gentleman took off the duties, there was a glut of cars that had to be sold somehow. Obviously the manufacturers were eager to realise their stock, lest worse things befell them.
§ Sir R. HORNE
We were told that exports would go down. We know, on the contrary, that the exports of motor cars and silk have gone up tremendously since the duties were imposed.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
Will the right hon. Gentleman say why exports increased 25 per cent. when the duties were off, and only about 20 per cent. since?
§ Sir R. HORNE
It is a very obvious business rule. If you have been making up stock in the belief that you will have a duty which will enable you to carry on, when the duty is taken off you have to realise that stock as rapidly as possible. That is an ordinary principle of business. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the figures since he had the felicity of taking off the duties and they were re-imposed he will find a steady rise both in the number of orders and in the exports.
§ Sir R. HORNE
The reason is obvious to anyone who knows how to do business. Another thing that we were told was that you could not raise revenue and at the same time defend your industries. What is the fact? These duties bring in, a revenue of £12,500,000. I have no doubt that even the right hon. Gentleman with his hard Free Trade principles will be amenable to some appeal when he remembers that £12,500,000 of revenue which he will lose. Is the trade not being defended? Look at the alarm which has been created in the breasts of manufacturers who fear that the duties will be lost. That is sufficient indication that they think that the duties are a source of protection to them. On all these grounds Free Trade theories have been proved to be absolutely fallacious. We are now 1599 emerging on to another argument. The Chancellor of the Exchequer put a variety of questions to the House. He asked how it was that there was unemployment in America and in Germany as well as here. I do not know why he should derive any satisfaction from that. The difference between the unemployment in America and that here is that our unemployment has become chronic and has gone on steadily all these years, but America has had a great burst of prosperity in the interval. That is the answer to his first question.
§ Sir R. HORNE
The second question was, how was it that wages were higher in this country than in protected countries on the Continent? I would ask another question. How is it that in the protected country of America, and in Canada and Australia, wages are very much higher than they are here? If all that Free Traders said were true other countries in the world would be ruined. On the contrary they have made great progress. That leads me to a point which was made by the right hon. Member for Darwen. He was comparing our happy position with that of the Continent of Europe. I have no doubt that in actual collective wealth we are at the present time the wealthiest country in Europe. But to compare us with Germany after the War is not quite a fair comparison. If there had been no War and Germany had progressed at the strides at which she was progressing before, my right hon. Friend would not have been inclined to say that we were ahead of Germany at the present time. I ask him to remember the extreme rapidity of the progress of these countries compared with our own position. We have been steadily losing ground while they have been steadily gaining it. Of course the contrast with America must strike everyone.
I read the report of a recent speech by the right hon. Member for Darwen, in which he said that the chief reason against all these duties was that we must always buy in the cheapest market. That is a principle which in an absolute form has been given up long ago. I do not fancy that on the Labour benches I would find 10 per cent. of Members who would agree with it. "Buy in the 1600 cheapest market" was the slogan of the people who treated labour as a chattel, and said that the conditions of life of the workmen had nothing to do with their economic views. To apply the principle to-day would be to put countries with the best standard of life at the mercy of the competition of those with the worst standard. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman himself would apply that principle in practice. Let me state what has been going on to my certain knowledge in many directions in recent times. Unemployment in this country would have been immeasurably worse than it has been but for the fact that most of the great corporations and undertakings with orders to place favour the British manufacturer. They put on a voluntary tariff in his favour. Take the railway company with which I am connected. It is the policy of all the railway companies, so far as I know, not to place an order abroad because they can get the cheapest estimate there, but always to make a certain percentage allowance in favour of the British manufacturer. They defy the theory about buying in the cheapest markets.
The Chairman of the Great Western Railway Company announced to a meeting of shareholders what the policy of that company had been. In the year 1925 the company paid £120,000 more for stores than need have been paid if the purchases had been made in the cheapest market. Does the right hon. Member for Darwen agree with that policy or not? It is absolutely anathema to Free Trade. Is that right or is it wrong? It is dead wrong according to Free Trade.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
If the right hon. Gentleman wishes me to answer his question I should say that it was wrong. I would ask him this: Suppose that it would have cost £250,000 more. Would he have done it then? Or suppose that it would have cost an extra £1,000,000. Would he have been justified, in the interests of his shareholders, in doing it? The same principle applies exactly in each case.
§ Sir R. HORNE
Now we know what is the doctrine that is preached. That we ought all to buy British goods is a completely erroneous slogan.
§ Sir R. HORNE
Obviously. It can only be right if Britain is the cheapest market, according to the right hon. Gentleman. You ought to buy abroad wherever you can. You ought to buy the cheapest. Now we know his policy.
§ Sir R. HORNE
My answer is this. Of course there are limits to the extent to which you can go, just as there are limits to the extent to which you can put on tariffs. There is a graduation of tariffs.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Sir R. HORNE
Every country puts on the scale of tariffs that suits its own manufacturers and keeps its own trade going. It is not all philanthropy that induces a railway company to do what I have described. It is obvious that you may gain far more by keeping manufacturers on your line of railway active and by the freights you thus earn than you can save by the margin of difference between foreign and English prices. What is true in that regard of the railway company is true of the country in larger measure. It applies the same principle throughout, and it might be far easier to do that, even if the tariffs were to raise the price of the goods, than to sustain men in idleness on the scale we have to pay at present. Would it not be better, instead of spending £70,000,000 a year on idle men, to keep them at their own job, when the skill of their hands would be preserved, and their self-respect maintained, and when revenue would be derived from the profit made by the industrialists, and also from the expenditure of the wages the men would earn? So far as the Free Trade theory is concerned, the logic of it entirely disappears as soon as you do not let the economic consequences lie where they fall. If you proceed to keep everyone who is out of work upon a definite and substantial scale, it is obvious that the whole theory comes to be a question as to whether it pays you better to keep people at work in their own trade, even with a tariff, than to have to assist them in idleness.
What has this House been doing in regard to unemployment? We had a speech from the Lord Privy Seal in which he advocated the use of steel sleepers, in order to give work to the steed trade, in 1602 preference to using timber from foreign sources. That can only help this country if we buy the steel sleepers here. That means that you create a State prohibition as against the foreign sleeper, because on the right hon. Gentleman's theory you ought to buy all these steel sleepers in Belgium. You can buy them to-day for 30s. a ton less than British steel sleepers. The right hon. Gentleman, accordingly, would favour this scheme if we bought the sleepers abroad, and much good that would do to British industry and employment.
Let me go a little further. There is a great Liberal scheme for creating employment, and £200,000,000 is to be spent on the roads. One of the considerations that was put forward by the right hon. Gentleman's leader was that the supply of the material and equipment would provide employment for people here. But it will only provide employment if the material and equipment are bought in this country. What becomes of the Liberal scheme if we are to buy the material and equipment abroad? Another of the schemes that are favoured for increasing employment is the reinstitution of the Trade Facilities Act. The very foundation of that Act is that you must purchase in this country, and many schemes have gone through upon that basis, where purchases were made of goods at far higher prices than you would have been able to obtain abroad. Every scheme that has been put before Parliament in connection with unemployment resolves itself into an attack on Free Trade.
There is only one more question that I have to answer. The right hon. Gentleman put the point as to whether we were to support food taxes, because he said food taxes were the only way in which you could make an arrangement with the Dominions. I want to ask him this. Is he in favour of taking off the Imperial preferences that already exist—the few preferences that we give to the Dominions, in return for which we get much larger preferences from them? They are all on edibles, whether you call them food or not—dried fruits, and things of that kind. I can tell him what will happen if he does. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a speech in the summer, he got an immediate reply from the Dominions as to what they would do 1603 if he took off the preferences. I was thankful that there was a Labour Government in Australia, because it could not be said that it was an attack by H Conservative Government there on a Labour Government here. Mr. Theodore, the Finance Minister of Australia, made the position plain at once. He said, "If you take off the preferences you give us, we shall take off the preferences we give you, and you will get the worst of that bargain," and everyone knows we should get the worst of it. Let us come back to the question of motor cars.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
Are you not going to say anything about food taxes? Will you not answer it? You are running away.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will often find that I run away. I want to know from him whether that is part of his policy.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
I shall be glad to answer the question if he will promise to answer the question to which he was addressing himself. My answer is that these preferences are in the way of reduction of existing duties. I should be in favour of maintaining that reduction of existing duties, but I should not be in favour of increasing duties for the sake of giving a preference. Now perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will answer whether he is in favour of food taxes or not.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I will come to that in a moment I am grateful for the right hon. Gentleman's answer because it shows that we shall be able to go into the same Lobby against the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he proposes to take off the Imperial preferences. That greatly relieves my mind, because if we were to lose the preference we hold in the Australian market, our trade would disappear like snow from the dyke. Everyone knows who has any acquaintance with those markets that we only hold our position in them by reason of the preferences we are granted. At present we have very great difficulty in maintaining our position in the sale of motor cars in Australia as against America, although a half of our export goes to Australia. We have a 30 per cent. preference. If that preference came off, all our business in motor cars in Australia would disappear 1604 in a month. It would be confined to luxury cars pure and simple, and everyone knows it who knows anything about the motor car trade and the Australian market.
Now for the right hon. Gentleman's question about food taxes. I do not presume to answer for my leader. I am going to give him a Scotsman's answer. I will give him a question for his leader. I take it that, if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) had been here, he might have made the speech the right hon. Gentleman has made. At any rate, the question I will put is very material. It is said we cannot make any kind of arrangements for preference with our Dominions which do not involve food taxes. I wish to ask him this. Does he remember a Resolution that was passed, with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs in the Chair, in 1917 at the Imperial Conference in which it was laid down that we ought to take every step possible in the future to make the British Empire independent of all the rest of the world in the matter of food and raw materials and essential industries? How-is that to be done? What is the plan of his leader in this matter? It went on to say this should be done by giving specially favourable treatment and facilities to each part of the Empire. [An HON. MEMBER: "That was the Coalition Government."] No, it was during the War. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman makes a remark sotto voce about the War, as if that ought to alter the conditions that were then laid down for the future guidance of the British Empire. That is the plan that was put forward. I ask him, in response to his question, how is that scheme going to be carried out, and when he tells us how he proposes to unite the Empire, and how he proposes to improve the future relations of the rest of the Empire, then perhaps we shall be able to get closer to grips.
§ Sir R. HORNE
No, I do not run away. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer!"] The question will arise in due course. You might as well ask me whether I am in favour of parting with a pound without telling me what I am to get for it. Being a Scotsman I am not going to say till I see the counterpart. [Interruption.]
Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Robert Young)
There are a good many speakers who want to be heard. The right hon. Gentleman should be allowed to answer the question in his own way.
I cast no reflection on anyone. I am only pointing out that a good many more Members want to speak and the interruptions are preventing the right hon. Gentleman from answering the question in his own way.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I am just about to finish. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India is going to reply and I wish that he were here now in order that I might put a question to him. Perhaps it will be reported to him. On the last occasion when he wound up a Debate in this House upon this question he said that we ought, on these matters, to give a lead to the world in the sane paths of economics. We have been giving that lead to the world for 75 years, but nobody has followed us. I want to ask him if he will kindly give a lead to India? What is the good of coming here with perorations about giving a lead to the world when the answer to his speech is that India puts up the duties against our exports of cotton goods?
§ Mr. MacLAREN
Is it in order for a Member of this House to discuss legislation which is entirely within the control of the Indian Government?
§ Sir R. HORNE
The point I am making is that it is absolutely futile and fruitless to talk about giving a lead to the world when the answer of India is a Bill putting up the duties against our cotton manufacturers. The country, in my view, is sick and tired of all that kind of cheap, vain and empty peroration. The country is now facing the realities which we have to endure through unemployment. We are told that some course will be taken which will find a remedy for the situation. 1606 They look on, and they see that we are trying vainly to find schemes to employ people who have been thrown out of work. Why have these people been thrown out of work? Very large numbers of them because we have been importing the very kind of goods that they make. The country is coming more and more to a realisation of the fact that all this is wasted effort as compared with the perfectly simple means which every other country in the world takes to defend its employment. I feel absolutely convinced that this truth is sinking more deeply into the hearts and brains of our people and that those who are sitting in corners muttering the shibboleths of old, will find themselves before long swept away by the revival of common-sense.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) is going, because I waited for his speech, and I want to reply to one of the points in it. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home) on his extraordinary dexterity. He was speaking of himself being a Scotsman, and I daresay that he remembers the early days when he used to go fishing. Has he ever caught an eel on his hook when fishing for trout? Does he realise how it twists itself round, with its slime and its wriggles and coils? That is how he answered the question of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen, and that is how he will have to answer it, I suppose, on the platforms of the country. If this Vote of Censure were to be carried, how would the right hon. Gentleman answer the electorate on the platforms in the provinces? Hon. Members on this side of the House have enjoyed the combat between the two allies of this week. That shows, I think, the ineptitude of the right hon. Gentleman, the real author of this Vote of Censure. If he wanted to destroy the Government—and we all know that he does—surely to goodness he could have framed a Vote of Censure which would have had the support of the Liberal party. Really, had it been intended to defeat the Government on this occasion, there would have been nothing about Safeguarding or Imperial Preference. They would not have seized on the flimsy grievance because the Chancellor of the Exchequer 1607 refused to disclose his Budget. They would have put down something on unemployment, and there would have been an end of it. The fact of the matter is that the subject which we have here shows that the party opposite are not even yet ready to face the electorate.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead made some extraordinary statements. I want to bring the House back to actual realities after the pleasant "sham fight" we have witnessed. One of the extraordinary things which he said was when he described the prosperity of France. Last autumn I was in France, and I went into the rural districts and talked to the farmers. They talked very freely, and they said that they were ruined. Why? Because they had had a most wonderful, plentiful harvest. The right hon. Gentleman will have to face up to this, as to whether this country is being ruined because there is an abundance, because there is plenty and cheapness, because people are so hostile to this country that they send in cheap goods, cheaper than they cost to make. That is the situation we have to face and the out-of-date Protection of the party opposite will be perfectly helpless and useless to solve it.
The Lord Privy Seal told us—and there was no voice raised on the other side to gainsay it; in fact one of the hon. Gentleman on the back benches opposite said that he thought that the right hon. Gentleman's speech might have been made by his own former Minister of Labour—that one of the reasons for unemployment in the trades concerned in this Vote of Censure was the complete collapse of world prices of raw materials, the raw materials needed for our own manufactures. The reason, according to hon. Gentlemen opposite and indeed to the Lord Privy Seal is that the raw materials of manufacture are too cheap and people are afraid of a still further fall in prices and dare not buy. As long as you have that system you can have as many tariffs as you like, or you can sweep away all of them, or you can produce a complete system of Protection, or you can have your Empire Free Trade, with which, I thought, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead was flirting a few weeks ago, but you will not 1608 cure that state of affairs when abundance and plenty and cheapness mean ruin.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
I will tell you. I must, however, say that I have taken part in many censure debates during the time I have been in this House—
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
I am much obliged to the right hon. Member for his courtesy. This is the first time I have defended the Government on a Vote of Censure, and it is an extraordinarily easy task. Hon. Members have brought forward this Motion because of the refusal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to disclose his Budget. That is the reason they give; and they say that it is causing uncertainty in trade. If uncertainty in trade is being caused because my right hon. Friend did not disclose his Budget last week or the week before then equal uncertainty must have been caused months before, and there will be equal uncertainty before the Budget after next. If it is right for my right hon. Friend to disclose his Budget this year in advance why is it not equally right for him to disclose it in 1931 and 1932, and why was it wrong for the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) not to tell us that he was going to put 4d. on the Petrol Duty I Why did not the right hon. Gentleman explain his policy with regard to a return to the gold standard before he did it? We are blamed for the present unemployment but I maintain that this premature return to the gold standard was a contributing cause to the distress in the coal-mining industry and had something to do with the General Strike which occurred in 1926.
The fact of the matter is this. The Government inherited from the late Chancellor of the Exchequer an empty till, a pile of bills and, far from helping us to clear up the mess which they left and to arrest the unemployment figures they have done nothing but hamper and obstruct in this House. [Interruption.] This Vote of Censure is the most futile that I have ever heard. It is wasting a great deal of useful Parliamentary time. It is not serious. It is not a 1609 serious attempt to turn out the Government. It is simply moved in order to satisfy the pique of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer because my right hon. Friend had the better of him at Question Time a few days ago and made him look extremely foolish. [Interruption.] That is perfectly true. It is put down in pique, and the right hon. Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin) knows that that is so. He did not attack the Government. In his delightful way he gave us an interesting historical lecture and tried to get some of us to agree with his extraordinary policy of Protection. The voice was the voice of Jacob, but the hand was the hand of Esau, and Esau is the atavistic Member for Epping Forest. It is the most incompetent Motion ever placed on the Order Paper, and most unfitted to achieve its object. The hon. Member for Cumberland (Mr. Dixey) could not do worse. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite are going to vote for this Motion. I ask them to tell us what their policy is; how they stand in regard to food taxes, to Imperial Preference to taxes on food and raw materials, without which you cannot have Protection. I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Epping is not present. I notice that he was in a more friendly atmosphere a few days ago, in front of the younger and less experienced audience of the Oxford Union. He carried his Motion in that home of lost causes. The last time I spoke there we carried the Motion, somewhat to my surprise—[Interruption.] Listen to what the right hon. Member for Epping, speaking among his own friends, said:No party at present has the key to the economic situation. All parties are seeking the best way out.Those are the words of the right hon. Gentleman. He admits that he himself has not the key to the economic situation, and it is obvious that he has not. He has no policy.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I say to hon. Members opposite that we have the key to the economic policy, but they are jamming and holding the door against us and we cannot put it into force. But we have the people behind us, 1610 or we shall have when they have an opportunity of putting us into power, and we will use the key and open the door. My hon. Friend asks what is the key. I will tell him. At the present moment the greatest need of this country is to rationalise the time of the House of Commons and our method of procedure in order to avoid the waste of Parliamentary time, and the waste of a whole day like this on a useless and ill-considered motion of censure. That is one of the things we want to do. [Interruption.]
My hon. Friend asks: what is the key? I will put the matter in a sentence. You have this extraordinary situation. You can go to Leicester and see a queue of men lining up with worn-out old boots. They are unemployed bootmakers. If you go to the villages you will see agricultural labourers lounging about. They are unemployed; and they will go hungry to bed at night because they will have nothing to eat. [Interruption.] Yes, that is what they will do. Their children will go to bed hungry because they have no work to do, and yet a few minutes omnibus ride from my own constituency you will find idle and out of cultivation large stretches of land. [Interruption.] What is the use of all the argument between the right hon. Member for Darwen and the Hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft). There is no unemployment in the hon. and gallant Member's constituency. You have these agricultural workers unable to till the fields, and these unemployed bootmakers with their worn-out boots. You have out-of-work dock labourers and fishermen; and you will go on having them under the present system, as you have them in America to-day. I could quote the extraordinary statements made in a leading article in the "Times" last week, which I hope hon. Members read, in regard to rationalisation in America. You will never get away from this situation until you introduce and accept the economic policy of this party; that is of producing for use not for profit.
§ Mr. SOMERSET
I naturally feel a little nervous on the occasion of first rising to address this House. It is something to which I have looked forward with dread. The subject under discussion is one upon which I may throw a little light from practical experience. I 1611 propose to deal solely with the question of Safeguarding. I know my trade very well. I served my apprenticeship to the linen trade in Belfast. I am the son of a working man; I started at business when I was very young and to-day I give direct employment to over 1,000 workers. I have been more than a manufacturer. I have been a worker and I have been a salesman and I can say that the greatest difficulty which the manufacturer has today is in selling his production. I have heard a lot of talk to-day which has nothing to do with the question of Safeguarding. We have heard theories about wages being cheap in some places and high in others. I say that we do not pay too much in this country. I have known what it was in my own home. We sat in the kitchen and, if we wanted to go into the drawing-room, we stayed where we were. I know what that side of the question means, and I tell the House that we, the manufacturers as a whole, in supporting Safeguarding have no idea of reducing the wages of the workers.
I can assure hon. Members that as far as the North of Ireland is concerned we are anxious that the workers should have good wages. We have in Ulster a body of men and women who would give anything to get work. They hate losing their independence and they want to get work instead of getting the dole. I come here to this market in London and I try to sell the production which is turned out in Belfast by myself and other manufacturers under the best of conditions and at good wages, and what do I find? I find all sorts of foreign goods on that market—goods from Belgium and Czechoslovakia and from nearly all the countries in the world. Why is it that we cannot sell our goods in competition with these foreign goods? It is because of this question of wages. The linen trade is a very old established business. We have over 100 years of experience in making linen and I know of no business in which there have been such changes. In the old days when a housekeeper wanted a pair of sheets she bought six or seven yards of cloth and "made up" the material herself. To-day everything is sold "made-up." That means more employment. It means that further operations are necessary in order that we may present our 1612 goods ready for consumption in the home market and it means additional wages—wages at a scale which these other people who are competing with us do not pay.
We have, roughly, 100,000 workers in the linen and allied trades in Belfast and over 16 per cent. of these are unemployed. I think it is a very sad thing, a very grievous thing, a very wrong thing that we should allow the foreigners to come in and that goods produced under conditions so different from our own and produced at wages which are in some cases 50 per cent. lower than ours, should be allowed to come in here so that we have to compete with them on terms so unequal that, indeed, we are very often beaten. In the stores in the City of London and in the West End there are piles of goods from abroad made under the conditions which I have indicated-conditions which do not obtain with our manufacturers. In addition to the trade directly concerned there are the allied trades, and, apart from everything else, we in Belfast are important customers of Lancashire. Yet we have to compete with the foreigners and we find, as I have said, that it is entirely a question of wages.
Under the Trade Board in Belfast we pay our girl workers 6¾d. an hour for a 47-hour week and I find that in Belgium it runs out at 3.4, in France 4.7, and in Germany 4.92. It is quite impossible for any manufacturers, with this difference in wages, to compete against foreign products, and most of us are working hard and getting very little for it at the present time. To give an example of what is happening I need only mention that I have sat at a table here in the British House of Commons and having afternoon tea and I have found that the table-cloth was made in Czechoslovakia. That is a great shame and disgrace and, despite all the talk about buying in the cheapest market which we heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel), I think when it comes to a situation like that which I have described, it is playing a very low-down game on the home manufacturer. I hope that some measure of Protection will be given to trades like my own, in which a great number of people are employed, so as to enable us to carry on our work with a reasonable amount of comfort.
§ Mr. SANDHAM
I have been wondering since I entered the Chamber what is the grievance of the Conservative party. I am puzzled because I see no ground for complaint on their part. To what extent does the policy of the present Government in regard to this matter differ from the policy of their own Government? If there is no difference, why this attempt at a Vote of Censure which I feel sure must fail? Has the Lord Privy Seal put forward any particular ideals or policies in contradistinction to—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Then why this Vote of Censure? Hon. Members cannot have it both ways. I wish to emphasise the point of view of some of us who believe that Votes of Censure of this description on tariff policy and criticisms from the Liberal benches on Free Trade do not very much matter. It is merely a question of Tweedledum and Tweedledee so far as the working-classes are concerned, and for them I want to speak. Trade in the main has been carried on for years on the lines of what are known as private enterprise of glorious history—with a great deal of the private, and not much of the enterprise. It has meant that the interests of those people who produce the wealth of the country have suffered very materially. Whether it be under Protection or under Free Trade, we have poverty. We have slums in Liverpool, plenty of them, and we have Free Trade. There are poverty and unemployment in protected countries, where there is what hon. Members desire to emphasise by this Motion. Where you have trade and commerce run for private profit, we are bound to have limitation of purchasing power—
§ Mr. SANDHAM
Russia, I believe, will be on its feet long before this country gets on its feet. It has been emphasised by an hon. Member that we are suffering from abundance. What does that mean? It does not mean that there is something wrong with our system of production. It means that there is something wrong with our facility to purchase what we produce. It does seem ironical that in this 20th century we can find that what we are suffering from in the main is that there is too much of the goods produced, and not sufficient of the facilities to consume. What is the position? The man who 1614 makes the best hand-sewn boots and shoes does not wear them; he is found wearing cheaper ones. The man who builds the detached villa does not live in a detached villa; he lives in the slums.
I am sorry I have to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but he must relate his remarks to the Motion before the House.
§ Mr. SANDHAM
I desire to emphasise what are the effects of our experience of Free Trade. The position to-day is that the producers of the wealth of this country have not the facilities to enjoy that which they produce, even under Free Trade. In Germany and in other protected countries, they have not that facility, and what we want is a system that will enable us to have not only the facility to produce extensively, but the facility to have the benefits all round of that which the community produces. That is what we on these benches are after. May I ask the believers in tariff policy and the believers in Free Trade policy how it is that, under either of these systems, we have the appalling amount of poverty which is the lot of most people who work hard by hand or brain to produce the whole of the wealth of this country?
Both under Free Trade and a tariff system we find poverty among only one section of the community. We do not find poverty among the middle classes or among the upper classes. We find it only among the working classes. [Interruption.] It is quite true. I hope that subsequent speakers will point out where we have poverty among the middle classes in the real sense of the word, or poverty among the upper classes, in the same way that we have poverty among the working classes. We may have poverty in regard to mental outlook, but let me emphasise the point I am making. I noticed in today's "Daily Mail" a picture of the idle rich, with nothing to do and plenty of time in which to do it, examining dresses 1615 worn by mannequins. At the same time the women in Yorkshire, who are producing wealth in this country, are having their wages reduced. The effect of that is that they are unable to purchase even the dresses that they need to maintain the standard of efficiency appropriate to their position. There you have anomalies, whether it be under Free Trade or under Tariff Reform. We want to produce things under a system that will enable people to consume what they produce. I only wish that some of those advocates who have spoken in favour of this Vote of Censure would elucidate to the House how they can themselves believe in a policy of making things because people need them. After all, that eliminates entirely the idea of profit making, which obtains both under Tariff Reform and under Free Trade. I hope someone will he able to tell us how it is possible by that method to get the goods which are consumable into the households of those people who need them.
§ Sir H. CROFT
I am sure the House has been very much interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Sandham) and perhaps I may be allowed to congratulate the hon. Member for North Belfast (Mr. Somerset) upon his admirable maiden speech. The hon. Member for Kirkdale asked one or two questions and he asked why we cannot consume what we produce. The whole object of the Resolution before the House is that we should see that the articles we consume are produced in our own country, and that would provide a wage fund wherewith our people could purchase those goods. The hon. Member asked what was our ground of complaint? Our ground of complaint is that there are 1,500,000 people unemployed in this country, and that is a situation with which even the Lord Privy Seal is unable to deal.
We have been asked what is the difference in regard to this policy between the present Government and the last Government. The last Government safeguarded about a dozen different industries, and I think they safeguarded too few of them. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite agree with that statement. The difference is that we saved those industries, and we were successful in assisting them, while the party 1616 opposite are apparently prepared to open the floodgates of foreign competition, and let in any kind of goods whether they are produced under sweated conditions or not or whether they are produced against the whole spirit of trade union conditions. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the millions of unemployed in America?"] The hon. Member will realise that that is a temporary state of unemployment, and it is a greater proportion of the population than is the case in this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Smaller!"] Yes, I mean a smaller proportion.
I should like to offer a few remarks with regard to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about the Press campaign in the country during the last year or two, but my view is that Press campaigns in recent years have not been friendly to anybody. There have been many criticisms directed against my leader, and many of those associated with the Conservative party, but to suggest that the Conservative party had anything to do with the Press campaign against the right hon. Gentleman seems to me to show a lack of knowledge of the actual state of things in this country at the present time.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Sir H. CROFT
I am very grateful to the hon. Member for Merthyr for that observation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) referred to the question of wages, and I will deal with that matter very briefly. The right hon. Gentleman quoted Continental countries where he said that wages were lower than in this country and he implored those countries to make a pause. The right hon. Gentleman took the four countries with the lowest wages, but why did he omit the four countries which compared most closely with the conditions in this country, namely, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America, which incidentally happened to have the highest wages, and they are four of the most highly protected countries in the world. When the friends and supporters of the Government desire to emigrate from this country, do they choose the low tariff 1617 countries in Europe? No, they go almost always to the most highly protected countries in the world.
I would like the attention of the right hon. Lady the Minister of Labour to this point. On 3rd February, 1929, the Chancellor of the Exchequer wrote a most powerful article in the "Sunday Sun" entitled "This Ghastly Mess," referring to employment in this country. The inference in that article was that the ghastly mess might be changed if there were a change of Government. He said: "This is a most gloomy story, but fortunately this is not the whole side of the picture." I am not quoting his exact words. He said, "Happily, there is great employment and increasing employment in industries like those supplying chemicals, electrical appliances, wireless, motors, gramophones, and artificial silk. They are prosperous, and hundreds of thousands of persons are employed in those trades." It is an interesting fact that out of the six industries which he pointed out as saving the unemployment situation in this country four are highly protected, another is protected in many of its most important branches, and the sixth can be described, I think, as more or less sheltered.
The ghastly mess of 1929 has become more ghastly by an increase of 170,000 in the number of the unemployed to-day. From the day when the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his fatal pronouncement about these industries, which he then described as prosperous, they have suffered most of all the industries of this country. The figures of unemployment were mentioned by the Chancellor. We might have thought that the motor industry and other safeguarded industries were doing well in the matter of unemployment, but that is entirely wrong. The figures for January of this year, when compared with those for January of last year, show that unemployment throughout the whole of the country has increased by 4 per cent., but in the motor car trade it has increased by 8 per cent.; in lace by 1 per cent.; hosiery, which includes so largely artificial silk and silk stockings, 1.9 per cent.; rubber, which is almost entirely tyres, I think, 2.7 per cent.; and silk and artificial silk industries proper, 5.4 per cent. Those are very remarkable facts. Every one of 1618 those industries was expanding steadily till the change of policy was announced.
§ Sir H. CROFT
A year ago the President of the Board of Trade gave me figures showing that in every one of those industries the position had improved. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, "What, after all, does this matter? This is only 3 per cent. of the working population." Is it realised that in using that figure he has forgotten the motor industry and the artificial silk industry, and has referred merely to the safeguarded industries? The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in order to show that he was absolutely faithful to the principles of a Cobdenite Whig, and was not prepared to listen to the voice of Labour, rushed straight into his blunder when this question arose without considering what the consequences were going to be to a very large number of people. Before showing some of the appalling results of his policy I want to ask the representative of the Government who is going to reply a few questions. I want to know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer denies that until his fatal statement was made employment had greatly increased in the whole of the safeguarded industries, with the exception of two?
§ Sir H. CROFT
There are two industries where there has not been any great increase in employment, though I think I am probably right in saying that it has been stable. In the manufacture of gas mantles, I think employment is about the same. In the manufacture of lace it might, on the face of it, look as if there had been no increase, butt in fact the hours of work, which represented 5½ hours short-time when the duty was imposed, have now so far improved that only 1½ hours short-time is worked; and in Nottingham last year £30,000 more wages were paid than in the year before the duties. The second question I ask is, Does he deny that the price of goods in any single safeguarded industry-has risen, except in the smallest and most insignificent one; and that in the case of 75 per cent. of the goods the price has been reduced, and reduced very considerably? Thirdly, does he deny that, far from the industries becoming inefficient as a result of this Protection, 1619 their production has increased far more rapidly even than the employment in them? Fourthly, does he deny that in spite of the greatly increased production—and in some of those industries, though their plant works full time, they have been able to attend only to their home trade—the total volume of exports of safeguarded and protected products show a very great increase since those duties were reimposed in 1925? I do not think that will be denied.
Take the figures of January last. The exports of the products of the safeguarded industries and the goods subject to the McKenna and silk duties have gone up 25 per cent., putting them all together, whilst our exports of non-safeguarded goods have actually declined in the same period by 20 per cent. Does he deny that some 50 new factories have been built in this country for those industries—many of them foreign factories—and can he name any other industries which show the same kind of expansion during that time?
Lastly, does he deny that over £11,000,000 of revenue has been contributed by our foreign competitors without any ill effects to any section of His Majesty's subjects? If the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Minister who is going to reply is unable to dispute the correctness of my main contention, the action of the Chancellor of the Exchequer becomes a mere wanton political outrage. What is most alarming is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for the first time that I can remember in the 20 years I have been in this House, has refused to allow the business community of this country to put their views before him on this important matter. So far as I can gather, every important body of employers in this country has declared that it would be most unfortunate—many of them described it as disastrous—if these duties were removed, and the right hon. Gentleman has not only treated the employers with contumely, but he has treated also the trade unionists and the trade unions concerned with utter contempt. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Silver-town (Mr. J. Jones) apparently is not aware of the fact that in every one of 1620 these industries the trade union leaders supported the application for Safeguarding.
§ Mr. J. JONES
On a point of Order. I think I know as much about the trade union movement as the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and I want to say to him—
§ Sir H. CROFT
I shall be very glad to oblige the hon. Gentleman as far as I am able. I may, perhaps, inform him straight away that the 14 trade unions in the lace trade requested the President of the Board of Trade to receive a deputation, or at least to set up a Committee in accordance with the Report of the Balfour Committee, which was set up by the hon. Gentleman's own Prime Minister.
§ Sir H. CROFT
I leave it to the judgment of the House. In every industry, since this controversy arose, trade unionists have been pressing this case, and I believe that up to date the Chancellor of the Exchequer has received no deputation from any industry on this subject. When a deputation was asked for, as in the case of the cutlery trade unions, the right hon. Gentleman's reply was that it would be merely a waste of time, and that he only had time to receive a deputation from the semi-defunct Free Trade Union, which all the most prominent members, or at any rate many of the most prominent members, have long since left, having become converted to Safeguarding. I know something about this matter, because, when I was chairman of the Tariff Reform League, and was asked who were the men who ought to be followed around because of their damaging Free Trade speeches, I was given five great names in this country, and the owners of those names have all become completely converted to the policy which I am supporting this evening. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman will be the first to admit that the only people whom we despise in this country are those who cannot move with 1621 the times. We have the greatest admiration for the man who has the grit to say, "I see that my country's needs are greater than my own consistencies," and who is ready to cross the Floor of the House if necessary? Since the names have been asked for, they were as follows: Sir Alfred Mond—a fairly able man, pace the hon. Gentleman opposite; Mr. Hamar Greenwood; Colonel John Ward; Mr. McKenna; and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). In my time they were always regarded as the most effective platform speakers in the Free Trade Union. [Interruption.] Hon. Members may laugh if they like, but every one of these Gentlemen has been converted to the ideas which we are putting before the House this evening.
I would once more remind the House that in the Yorkshire textile industry the union joined with the employers in order to make an application for Safeguarding. They went before the Committee and proved their case, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer threw the Report into the waste-paper basket. Since then, as we all know, in that great industry a serious reduction in wages has had to be contemplated. Then there is the case of agriculture, in which all branches of the industry have asked the Government to act, but they have done nothing. We have given an explicit pledge that when we are returned next month—or is it the month after?—we will guarantee the price of wheat and will introduce machinery for preventing the dumping of oats into this country. I know that right hon. Gentlemen opposite and hon. Gentlemen behind them are telling agriculturists that nothing can be done, and that they must rely upon Free Trade and cheapness, but I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen allowed himself to be drawn into a controversy with my right hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home). He asked boldly, what about food duties? I would ask him, does he support the words of his Leader in this House in the Debate on Free Trade within the Empire when he declared for an embargo on bounty-fed foreign wheat? I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman would like to answer that 1622 question? Apparently not, so I think we can pass on.
When we see that trade union leaders in every industry concerned have been asking the Government to stay their hands, and when we see how the Confederation of Iron and Steel Workers and other great unions in this country have been ignored, it is no wonder that we believe that there is a growing rift on the benches opposite between the trade union members and the Cobdenite intelligentsia who have stolen so many of the plums that are on the Front Bench. They sit there day after day, like Canute, bidding the waves of unemployment recede. No wonder there is this feeling of cleavage when we realise that, for every worker that the Lord Privy Seal has succeeded in putting into employment—and I sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman, because he has an immense task—the Chancellor of the Exchequer by his mad action with regard to these industries has succeeded in putting at least three persons on the dole. The havoc committed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer commenced from the very moment when he made that speech.
It will be remembered that just before the Election there was a good deal of activity in the industrial world. Among the cases which came to my notice in May, 1919, was that of a Chemnitz firm who were going to build a silk factory in this country at a cost of £50,000. Another firm was going to spend £100,000, and yet another was going to spend from £200,000 to £250,000, and had already given orders for the steel work. All those orders were cancelled the moment the present Government were returned and the right hon. Gentleman made his famous speech. [Interruption.] I am sorry that hon. Members cheer that, because it seems to be rather bad for the employment of people in this country. Messrs. Courtauld, as hon. Gentlemen know, were about to increase their production greatly at Wolverhampton, but I believe I am right in saying that that has been postponed. They were about to build a factory in the constituency of the Secretary of State for War. I do not know whether they have been able to push ahead with it, but it seems to me rather unlikely when they have been forced by the uncertainties of the situation and the lack of buyers to dismiss thousands of workers, I hope only 1623 temporarily, during the last two or three months.
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the Branston artificial silk factory, and I dare say his facts may have been correct. He did say that a few months ago they had great assets, and to-day they have all gone. That may have been due to bad finance, but, since every firm in the silk and artificial silk industry at the present moment is suffering the gravest trouble, is it not possible, since those funds have been dissipated since the right hon. Gentleman made his announcement, that he may have hastened the end of that company? Moreover, companies have been prevented from building factories in this country, and others have taken and are taking their branches abroad because they find the position so difficult.
§ Sir H. CROFT
I do not want to detain the House, but I am always anxious to oblige the right hon. Gentleman. I will give him one case. On the 21st June, 1929, I received this letter:The return of the Socialists, with Mr. Snowden as their Chancellor, to power, would appear to have postponed any prospect of the extension of Safeguarding indefinitely, and in consequence I am engaged at present in negotiating for establishing a factory in Cologne, to supply the demands of such of our customers to whom the comparative cheapness of goods made under German conditions appeals, and to fight the German manufacturer in his own market behind his tariff walls. It is the only line of defence left to us as the possessors of a valuable goodwill which has been undermined by unfair competition.[Interruption.] I do not want to detain the House. I will give the hon. Member the name if he wants it, but he knows me well enough to know that I would not make a statement like that without authority. I do not want to mention the name of the company in the House, but I will give it to the Minister if he desires it.
In the silk and rayon industries of this country there is the very gravest concern. I think it is generally agreed that in several Continental countries the wages are only 50 per cent. of the wages paid in this country. The amount of protection afforded by the Silk and Artificial 1624 Silk Duties is just sufficient to enable our industries in this country to live against that competition. Take it away, and you have immediately the same situation as is created by the bounty-fed wheat about which the Liberal party are so concerned. What is not realised is that the suffering is not only in these industries themselves. There is an enormous number of persons in Lancashire and Yorkshire who are also directly concerned, owing to the fact that in the cotton and woollen industries of this country a very great number of workers are engaged on mixing processes using cotton, wool and artificial silk, and it is estimated that something like 200,000 to 300,000 workers in this country are dependent upon the artificial silk industry alone.
It is small wonder that Manchester is up in arms. I dare say hon. Gentlemen opposite realise that the committee of the Cotton Spinners and Manufacturers Association can hardly be called a Protectionist organisation, or a branch of the Empire Industries Association. They employ something like 200,000 operatives in Lancashire, and they passed a very emphatic resolution drawing attention to the fact that a large number of looms which would otherwise be running have been stopped, and operatives rendered idle, by the uncertainty that prevails as to the future of the duties. The committee expressed the view that the time was inopportune for the removal of these duties, and, in asking for their retention, urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer to help to increase employment in this section of the industry by making an announcement on the matter at the earliest possible moment. Nobody can say that is a biased political organisation. These are men who all their lives have fought for the principle of Free Trade. If the walls of the citadel of Free Trade Jericho are falling at last, the Chancellor of the Exchequer can lay the flattering unction to his soul that he was the trumpeter who brought about their collapse.
It is the same with other industries. Time will only permit me to touch lightly upon them. Take the fabric glove industry Employment has doubled in five years—a very remarkable fact—yet at present they have been brought to a very difficult position, and all of a sudden the expansion 1625 of the industry has been checked. That is hardly surprising when you look at the Labour conditions in foreign countries. I see the Minister for Labour sitting there. I asked her three months ago to tell me what were the wages of glove workers in Germany. She returned a very polite answer that she had to refer the question to Geneva. She has referred it to Geneva, and a few days ago she sent me the answer. It was that Geneva does not know. What an appalling thing that our British glove industry is to be subjected to a reversal of this duty when the Front Bench have not even taken the trouble to find out what are the wages in Germany.
Then look at lace, which is to be the first victim of the right hon. Gentleman. Is it realised that for every penny paid in female labour by the Continental producers, we pay 2⅝d. in this country? If you take off the duty, how can the trade live? In the lace industry which was in such a difficult condition, production and sale in this country have gone up from a low figure to a remarkable figure. Everybody will agree it is a remarkable change in the position. Everybody who realises that will agree that it would be madness to take the duty off. There is no reason, commercial or economic, for this folly. One asks what is the motive of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? I have come to the conclusion that it is that he has become so obsessed with international ideas that he is terrified lest by putting British workers into work, he displaces some of his foreign friends. I will substantiate that remark. Take the case of the Wrapping Paper Duty, which has really been too light—only 16 per cent. Nevertheless, it has been a great success and has provided new machinery, costing £1,500,000, which has saved the industry from destruction. The Chancellor of the Exchequer wrote to a Norwegian magazine, published in Oslo only last year, and this is what he said:I regret to hear that the recent imposition of a duty on wrapping paper by Great Britain has had an injurious effect on Norwegian trade.Apparently, he did not realise that what he regretted for the Norwegian workers was a matter of congratulation for British workers, British industry, and the British taxpayer. What is the motive of our iron Chancellor? He has said that, whatever 1626 happens, we must not depress the spirits of our Norwegian friends by giving work which used to be given to them to our own countrymen, oblivious of the fact that Norway imposes a duty on practically every manufactured article that we send to her.
In conclusion, I desire to say that we have to consider this evening not only votes, consistency, and so on, we have to consider the fate of our country. I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will believe that some of us are very sincere in our views. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have tried and done their best, but they know they have failed and are at their wits end to know what to do in this grave situation. I know some hon. Gentlemen opposite are really moved on this question. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) has said he would use the British Navy to sink any ship bringing goods into this country produced under lower labour conditions or longer hours. When he and his left wing hold that view, I urge upon the whole party opposite that the time has come when they know they have failed, and that they should try the only policy which can give hope to our million and a-half workers. If they have failed, as every Government in the past has failed, why not give a trial to this policy and remove the despair which they know is haunting the homes of the poorest people in this country?
§ Mr. NOEL BAKER
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he rose to speak this afternoon, said that this Resolution consisted of three parts. Before he sat down I think there was only one part that was left; the other two had been smashed to smithereens. I do not desire to say anything on the subject of the uncertainty which is alleged to have been created by the attitude he has taken up. I could say a great deal upon it from the evidence I have myself collected from the constituency I represent. But at this late hour I want to confine my attention to the broad issue which has arisen, to the broad issue which is to confront the country in years to come—the issue as to whether we are to plunge deeper and deeper into Protection, as hon. Members opposite now desire to do. I have desired to take part in this Debate because the constituency which I have the honour to represent is 1627 one which has a vital interest in this policy of Safeguarding which hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to extend. I sit for Coventry, an ancient and honourable city, in which there is hardly a factory which does not receive the protection which the Safeguarding and McKenna Duties, so-called, now give.
I think it is an interesting, and indeed an astonishing, fact that at the last Election 70 per cent. of the citizens of Coventry who cast their votes, voted against the maintenance of these duties. I know that in the first Debate on this subject which took place in July last, it was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hendon (Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister) that they cast their votes because they were in doubt as to what we meant on our side in regard to these duties. [Interruption.] If hon. Gentlemen desire to go into that matter, I can quite easily show from the papers and manifestos of motor manufacturers asking the electors to vote against us, that our attitude at that time was absolutely, categorically and plainly against the maintenance of Protection. It was with a full understanding of what we meant that the electors cast their votes. They cast their votes because they were satisfied that in modern conditions it was impossible for our country to flourish except under a system of Free Trade.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home) spoke of the resolution adopted by the Imperial Conference in 1917. I submit that that resolution for Imperial self-sufficiency was based upon a war conception and that the whole course of international trade, in tariff countries, as in non-tariff countries, has proved that international trade is going forward, that the nations are now more and more closely linked together in their economic life, and that if you try to raise barriers against the development of international trade you are trying to do something which it is impossible to do.
The people of Coventry recognised that so long as it is true that in our country one person in every three is living by his or her share in the processes of international trade, international finance, and international transportation, it would be absolutely mad for our country to go in for a policy of trade barriers which would 1628 diminish the volume of that international trade. That would have been ground enough for the votes of the electorate of Coventry. But there were other grounds, more important than that. There was especially this: that they were not content with the results of the Safeguarding policy which has been pursued, and I say that with the utmost deliberation and realising what my words involve.
The right hon. Member for Hillhead spoke a good deal, in the course of his admirable speech, on the history of the motor trade in this country, and I want to follow what he said and to give a different explanation of the facts. A very large part of the case which is made for Protection from the other side rests upon the history of the McKenna Duties, or, as the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) told us we ought to call them now, the Churchill Duties. They say that, because the production of motor cars in this country—I take the figures of the Society of Motor Manufacturers, and I take the total figure, which is the only significant figure—because the production has risen from 73,000 units in 1922 to 211,000 units in 1928, therefore the prosperity of this industry, and this expansion, are due to the duties which have been placed upon foreign cars. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc. I submit that that argument has no foundation. The motor industry is an expanding trade, and you might just as well say that the increase in wireless licences from 0 to 3,000,000 was due to the imposition of the licence duties which listeners had to pay.
But let us take their statistics, and let us analyse them. The right hon. Gentleman said that the motor industry had advanced since these duties were put on as never before. But the motor industry did not begin in 1922. Let me take these figures of the Society of Motor Manufacturers. From the year 1907 to the year 1913 the production of cars in this country increased from 12,000 a year to 44,000, an increase of 400 per cent. in those six years, under conditions of Free Trade; and everybody knows that we had in those days a great export trade, that our manufacturers were exporting 25–35 per cent. of their total output, and that our cars stood high in every market, including in those days the market of the United States.
1629 Or let us take even those post-War years on which the right hon. Gentleman has based his case. If he will examine the statistics of development from 1920 onwards, he will see, what was said by the Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon, that the two years in which the greatest expansion was made were the two years in which there was a short period of Free Trade. There were six months of Free Trade in 1924, and five months, if I remember rightly, in 1925, and in those two years there was an expansion from 88,000 to 153,000, an expansion of nearly 80 per cent. in two years. In the following three years, to 1028, there was an expansion from 153,000 to 211,000, or under 30 per cent. for those three years. What was even more striking was the result in the export of motor cars, to which the manufacturers attach such importance that they have said, in a recent manifesto, that their trade can never be healthy until the export trade is largely developed. What happened in those two years? The exports increased from 6,000 in 1923 to 29,000 in 1925, an increase of 500 per cent., whereas in the three years which followed there was an increase altogether of less than 10 per cent.
I do not want to go on and to show by detailed quotations from newspaper reports, as I could, or by the statistics of unemployment, as I could, that in those two years the condition of the trade was healthier than it ever was before and healthier than it ever has been since. I admit that there were certain special factors at work and that hon. Members opposite are entitled to say so. There was the introduction of the small car, which made a great difference. I admit that it did, and our statistics do not prove conclusively that everything is on our side. But they do prove this: that the taking off of the duty did not produce the disastrous effects which hon. Members opposite said that they would produce, and they prove, on the contrary, that the policy which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had the courage to pursue had an overwhelming success.
They had that success because in the year 1924 the motor manufacturers were induced to bring down their prices. We remember how Mr. Morris said it was impossible for him to produce at any less price than that at which he was producing; but that was before the Chancellor 1630 of the Exchequer took off the duties. The duties came off, and Mr. Morris reduced his prices by anything from £53 to £23 on different models. The average reduction over the whole trade was 10 per cent. for that year, and it has only averaged 1.6 per cent. for the years which have followed. Owing to the removal of the duties, the prices came down, and the manufacturers enormously enlarged their markets.
That leads me to the main thing that I want to say to-night, and it is this, that the workers in the motor industry are not content with the results that these duties have given. They are not content, because while these duties may have safeguarded the profits of the employers, they have not safeguarded the interests of the workers, and the interests of the workers in this industry are being sacrificed year by year under the régime which now exists. Why do I say that? I say that because in the motor industry, as everyone knows, there is a great deal of unemployment, and I could quote figures from trade union and official statistics to show that unemployment in each year since 1924 has been a great deal higher, if you take the total days per annum, than it was during the year when the duties were off. They have had no rise of wages of any kind, and they have had many a cut in the piece rates which they are paid. And that is not the worst of it. The worst of it is this, that under the system which now exists the workers are subjected to a continual alternation of short time and overtime. For four months in the year they have to work much harder than anybody ought to work, for 10, 11 and 12 hours a day, but for the remaining months they often have to walk the streets, and they say that an industry so organised is not in a condition in which a British industry ought to be.
I want to submit to this House, and to the Government, that the motor industry is in a condition in which it cannot be allowed to continue. It has been protected by Duties into inefficiency. The hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. O. Stanley) told us that if we keep on these Duties, we ought to impose tests of efficiency. That is a policy; it is a pity his own Government did not adopt it. In fact, what has been the result of the policy of Safeguarding, without his tests, has been the exact opposite of what the 1631 hon. Member desires. Those Duties, without tests, have meant that our manufacturers have been protected into inefficiency of a very serious kind.
Our manufacturers are shutting their eyes to the greatest economic opportunity that has ever been before any engineers in this country in modern times. They have the most astonishing market opening before their eyes. Take the home market—the working man is just beginning to buy his small car, and if only they could get their industry into a proper condition—[Interruption.] We shall never admit on this side that industry is in a proper condition until working men can buy their own cars. Abroad, there is a tremendous market, in Europe, Russia, in China, and in the East, in which our manufacturers have great advantages against any other manufacturers in the world. But because we will not adopt modern methods of production, we have failed to compete with the other manufacturers of the world, and we shall continue to fail until we do adopt them. We cannot possibly compete until we adopt mass production on the American plan. Therefore, I appeal to the Government that they should accept the offer which has been made to them by the Society of Motor Manufacturers. That society have asked the Government to make an inquiry, through the Economic Advisory Council, into the condition of the industry, and have offered to provide the Economic Advisory Council with all their figures, their accounts, and all the information that they can provide. I hope the Government will accept that offer, and I hope the Government in this inquiry will use their influence to press upon the manufacturers the policy of amalgamation. Only amalgamation can save this industry. I said this to a motor manufacturer the other day and he entirely agreed with me. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name!"] I made a mistake. It was the secretary of the Society of Motor Manufacturers, Colonel Hacking. He entirely agreed with me, and he told me that that process was going on. He instanced one example of two factories, both of which I know, standing side by side in one street. Those two factories together are to-day producing 55 motor cars a week. That is not good enough. That is not amalgamation or large-scale 1632 production. The United States products 5,000,000 cars a year, and they have 10 firms producing them. We produce 211,000 motor cars a year and we have 83 firms to produce them. It is absolutely certain that only the policy of amalgamation can save this industry, or can give to us the great volume of new employment and the greater share in the increased international trade of the world that we ought to have. I do, therefore, beg the Government, through the medium of the Economic Advisory Council, to press upon the industry that they should do something to reorganise themselves, and that they should attempt once more to recapture that spirit of enterprise and initiative which made the industrial greatness of our nation in times gone by.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The hon. Member who has just addressed the House has contributed a speech which bore the marks of care and study of the subject which is being debated, and which produced a large number of facts which in their proper setting would be extraordinarily significant. I thought that some of the remarks which he made were of importance as showing the change of opinion upon the Socialist benches towards great combines and amalgamations. Certainly, a great many of his arguments were welcomed by hon. Members on this side as showing an appreciation of the new factors which have arisen, principally mass production, and the relation of those factors to the general conditions of employment and to the commodities which are manufactured for the masses of this country. I do not, however, think that at this stage in the Debate I should be well advised to attempt to follow the hon. Member into his catalogue of facts and figures.
I propose to recall the House to the very serious fact that, for the first time in this Parliament, we are moving a Vote of Censure upon the Government of the day, a Vote specially directed to the person of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. A Vote of Censure like this raises, of course, general topics, and certainly they have been very fully discussed, but it also terminates and culminates in a particularly and entirely direct, definite and precise charge against a Minister. Let us see what that charge is. I will state it at the outset and endeavour to sustain it from various 1633 angles and points of view. The charge that we make against the Chancellor of the Exchequer is that, without due cause, he has created uncertainty which has been harmful to trade and employment. That is the case and that is the question upon which the House is going to come to a decision.
What is the right hon. Gentleman's defence? I listened to his speech today, and I am bound to say that I am astonished at the simplicity of mind which leads him to suppose that the kind of defence which he offered to the charge preferred against him is going to enable him to make his case good in the country. His defence was this: I am not guilty of all the evils which exist in our State at the present time; therefore I am not guilty of any of them. Does the right hon. Gentleman really think that he is going to get away with that? No one has blamed him even for all the evils which follow inevitably from the arrival of a Socialist Government at the seat of power; still less would anyone attempt to blame him or the Government for all the difficulties, mishaps, misfortunes and uphill toilings which result from world causes and from the movements of economic forces far outside the control of this House, and far beyond the wit of human brains to solve at the present time. We do not blame him for all the evils that have arisen from world conditions or even from the character of the Administration of which he is a member. The question on which the House is going to vote is whether he has aggravated those conditions, whether, having to face a difficult situation, whether being confronted with a hard task and grave problems, whether being surrounded with a great amount of misery and perplexity he has added to those difficulties, he has emphasised and aggravated those misfortunes, and whether he has done so knowingly, wittingly, wantonly, callously.
I readily admit that any Government sitting on those benches during the past few months would have had a had time. All sorts of things have happened all over the world. Very harsh and forbidding events have happened. Disconcerting things have occurred. Tides and drifts have moved adverse to our prosperity. I readily admit that. I am not posing that as an attack on the Government, although I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman, had he been 1634 on this side of the House and had we been on the Government side, would have attributed everything, from the scandals in the City and the collapse of the American Stock Exchange, down to the increased figures of unemployment in particular trades or in the cotton trade—I have no doubt that he would have attributed them all to us, and would have made every party score that he could, placing the blame for most of them on to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Although he would have done that, I freely exclude and exculpate his Government from the blame for these events. [An HON. MEMBER: "How good of you!"] How good can best be measured in comparison with how bad it might have been.
Of course, the Government were in for a bad time. But the question that we are now going to settle is whether they have made these bad times worse by conscious and deliberate action. Let us have a little look back upon the right hon. Gentleman's public record. He heralded his approach to office by uttering a series of the most ferocious threats against wealth in every form—a very remarkable proceeding for one to adopt who had been Chancellor of the Exchequer in the past and who consciously, and I may say eagerly and even hungrily, wanted to he Chancellor of the Exchequer again. Let us see some of the things that the right hon. Gentleman said. Speaking in the country he said:I warn these wealthy city men that a Labour Government will increase their taxation.Speaking again on 18th May, during the election, he said:I am not going to say that if a Labour Government comes in there will be no increase of taxation. Taxation of certain people will be increased.I want a cheer, please. [HON. MEMBERS: "Try again!"] I hope hon. Members opposite have not got their muzzles on to-night. Writing for the "Morning Post" the right hon. Gentleman laid down some principles which would guide him in his future administration and care of the public finances. He said:Other political parties regard taxation as a regrettable necessity; they believe that incomes should be left to fructify in the pockets of the people—a very respectable 1635 Liberal doctrine and a Gladstonian doctrine. They maintain that taxation is a burden on industry, that it discourages enterprise and restricts necessary capital savings. The Labour Party contests all these assumptions. It contends that wise national expenditure is the most economical form of expenditure.We have had a specimen of wise national expenditure in the Bill which has been passed to relieve any unemployed workman of the necessity to prove that he is genuinely seeking work before he receives an augmented benefit. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say:We hold the existence of a rich class as responsible for the poverty of the mass and for the social evil of the slums, physical deterioration, ill-health, inadequate education and industrial inefficiency. The Labour party is determined that the cost of removing these evils shall he paid for by the people who are responsible for them.Do not be frightened; cheer! You cheered loudly enough before you got into office.These are the people who have the financial means to do so.10.0 p.m.
And so on. The right hon. Gentleman proclaimed very clearly the spirit in which he would assume his responsible duties. He represented taxation, not as an evil, as it is, an unmitigated evil, as it is, or almost unmitigated, but represented it as a sort of salutary tonic which would be administered to the country, whereby the idle rich would be divested of their vast superfluities and the money would be devoted to increasing the energetic production of the masses of the people. Having used this sort of language and having done all that he could to create the feeling that some great and fundamental change would follow his accession to the Chancellorship of the Exchequer, how can the right hon. Gentleman wonder that there has been a great deal of despondency and alarm among those against whom his diatribes were directed? It is all very well. The right hon. Gentleman goes down to the country and makes a speech at some banquet or other which it is his duty to attend, in which he says that the only thing that is the matter with the capitalists, or the old country or whatever it is, is that they want a little more pluck. I say that that kind of statement in the mouth of a man who has been Chancellor of the Exchequer and who is 1636 about to become Chancellor of the Exchequer again, and has since occupied that office, is bound to create a sense of great anxiety and great caution among the wealthy classes and the business community throughout the country.
The right hon. Gentleman told us to-day that he was the victim of an organised conspiracy, a deliberate conspiracy. He told us how there was a deliberate policy of certain interests to create unemployment in order to discredit the Government. That is what he said. Does anyone really believe that to be true? I do not believe that the right hon. Gentleman himself believes it to be true. I am sure that the Lord Privy Seal knows that it is not true. I think the right hon. Gentleman is very ungrateful. I have never seen anyone better treated than he has been. I am supposed to attack him. I would point out that I never said a word against him or his finance until he himself tried to shovel his burdens on to me and made a deliberate and unprovoked attack. He is ungrateful. I have never seen a Chancellor of the Exchequer treated better than he has been treated in the 30 years that I have known this House. He was given the Freedom of the City of London, cheered and applauded by the capitalist popular Press. He has never been pressed or harried in any way in this House, up to the present.
The Prime Minister is not here. I do not blame him, because he has other things to do, but I am sure that if the Prime Minister were here he would repudiate, on behalf of the Government, the kind of language that the right hon. Gentleman uses about the leaders of business and finance in this country. "A conspiracy!" To whom do they run, these Socialists? They come into office "to sweep away all this," and it is to be "Goodbye to all that." They come into office, and the first thing that they do in their distress is to run along and find a lot of capitalists to teach them how to cure the unemployment that they themselves profess to be able to cure. Very generously and very readily these leaders of business and finance have come forward and helped the King's Government, as it is the duty of every person in a non-political capacity to do on a non-party and non-political issue. They are conspiring to produce unemployment, no doubt ruining themselves in the process, 1637 letting their works stand idle, paying overhead charges and taxes and so forth, conspiring to make an attack upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer by creating a large quantity of unemployment. The Lord Privy Seal is every day seeing business men who loathe the politics of his own party, but who, he knows, are giving the best efforts they can and the fairest and freest advice to help us all out of our difficulties. It is ungrateful.
Let me warn the right hon. Gentleman of one thing. There is no form of delusion more common than the persecution mania. Most of us who have occupied public positions for any length of time get any number of letters from people who imagine that there is a conspiracy against them, "They are hunting me down," "I am being ringed around." These are early days for the right hon. Gentleman to show these signs. We have not even reached the Budget yet. If he is in this condition three weeks before the Budget is introduced, what will he be reduced to by the end of July?
I have spoken so far of the injury and the embarrassment that he has done to the general public fortunes, and to the success of his own party and Administration, by his foolish fulminations against capitalists and wealth and by his assertion of the virtues of severe and punitive taxation. There is one class of His Majesty's subjects and one class of British industries which come in for a double dose of his commination service. Those are the industries which have in one form or another been the subject of protective duties. Everyone knows how numerous those industries are and how various, and, I must say, heterogeneous are the categories into which they are divided. There are the key industry duties, and the McKenna luxury duties, which we owe to the time when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman) were assisting Mr. Asquith to conduct the Coalition administration. We have been faithful to the traditions of those duties after their authors have found it convenient to abandon them. The McKenna luxury duties, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen directly told us, were imposed during the War for the purpose of reducing 1638 freights across the ocean and improving the exchange at a time when foreign luxuries were not required at all in these islands. Whether they are required in these islands now is to my mind an open question, but I cannot for the life of me see why anyone who wants a foreign luxury cannot be made to pay a little more for it. Who on earth is damnified if a person who chooses to pick up an American motor car when a perfectly good English car is available is made subject to some form of taxation?
These duties were re-imposed for revenue purposes. The right hon. Gentleman reminded me that I re-imposed them for revenue purposes, and seemed to think that a bulwark to take shelter behind. My motives were revenue, but nothing can alter the fact that the duties are protective in character. They are protective duties, and very high protective duties. Then there are the Safeguarding Duties, which were imposed consequent upon the Parish resolutions by the foresight, wisdom and penetrating perspicacity of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Ives. We can see the Liberal touch emerging in this class of legislation. Finally, there are, in a category by themselves, the Silk Duties and the duty on tyres, which were not imposed under the Safeguarding procedure, but which were imposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in pursuance of what I hold is his indefeasible right to propose to Parliament any duty to which his colleagues in the Cabinet will assent. The total yield of these duties is £12,500,000, and to this you must add the £15,000,000 of Sugar Duties, making, we will say, very nearly £30,000,000 of revenue. The right hon. Gentleman openly and freely declared his intention of sweeping away all those duties at the earliest possible moment, and that is still his position. £30,000,000 of revenue! What becomes of the charge that he makes against me of squandering revenue?
The success of these duties has been very remarkable. Take the whole class of them. Show me any complaint by a trade union organisation. Show me any complaint by an employers' association or an individual employer. Show me any complaint by a Chamber of Commerce. Show me any complaint by any body representing consumers 1639 against any of these duties. Show me any public demand for their repeal. Show me any justification in the surplus revenue possessed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer which would justify him in sweeping away all this revenue. On the contrary, the general opinion has moved steadily in the direction, not of sweeping them away, but of making sensible additions to their number and regularising and systematising their character and introducing some more logical principle into this considerable mass of duties which have now been erected and have so far produced nothing but good results. All these duties have been valuable and brilliant experiments, and we are emboldened to go forward, supported by an ever-growing mass of opinion far outside the bounds of party, into this field.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen in the course of another of his pedagogic and censorious orations said: "Let us judge of these matters in the light of actual experience." We are quite content with that. That is the whole case. We do not wish these matters treated as questions of party, as a stunt to be managed by the newspapers, but we should like them to be considered at the present time on their merits by persons who have no immediate electioneering interest in the position one way or another. The Balfour Committee, a Committee of very able men, Free Traders in the majority, appointed by the present Prime Minister—the Balfour Committee, after prolonged examination, by a majority, markedly and clearly deprecated the removal of these duties. Now there is a new Economic Committee, an important committee wittily described as a committee from whom no one of note had been omitted. This committee, the new Economic Committee, the members of which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer will probably describe as conspirators, gathered together to come and help the Prime Minister and the Government, a body picked by himself. We should be quite content—we cannot go on working out details and figures on our own, but I place it broadly upon this—to have the question submitted to this Committee whether these duties have been beneficial or not, whether they ought to be removed; and whether they are to be removed or not, 1640 the policy should be announced immediately. We should be quite content with that.
After all, we see ourselves in many difficulties. We want to make sure that we are finding the shortest way out of our perils. Why is the right hon. Gentleman so adverse to all this? We have had some old speeches to-night—not so very old either. But there is a speech, a maiden speech, I believe, in the House of Commons, a rather elderly maiden at that time, the maiden speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the House of Commons. He began by saying:Might he say to Free Traders on the Ministerial side that it was upon the very existence of these evils, which 60 years of Free Trade had failed to mitigate or palliate, that the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) had founded his appeal to the country?He went on to say:They were prepared to admit that there was a great deal of truth in what was expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham as to the changed conditions of our industries during the past 60 years. Conditions were constantly changing. They agreed with the statement that the time had come when they should take stock of our industrial position.That is what we are asking now.Our industrial circumstances were not what they were 60 years ago, when we practically stood alone among the manufacturing nations of the world.I almost heard these words repeated by the Leader of the Opposition to-day, though he had not read this speech.Since then other nations had become their own producers, and to a great extent they were becoming our competitors in all the markets of the world. Sixty years had falsified the expectations that foreign restrictions upon trade would be removed. There had not been a continuous improvement in the condition of the people during the last 60 years.That is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is the supreme orthodox defender of the most rigidly expressed d doctrines of economic Cobdenism.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Yes, and one can gather how much support the Free Trade Resolution received. When the right hon. Member for Darwen derides me, as he has done to-day, for proclaiming myself 1641 at once a Free Trader and a Protectionist, he will see that others have trod that path before. The right hon. Gentleman must really take a mental and moral pull of himself, because he is allowing himself to have prejudices against all these protected trades. He says, "They are protected and, therefore, they are malignant and must be punished. I will lam you to be a toad." He cannot receive their representatives. He cannot show himself in the same room; he wants to lay his hands about them, these rank, wicked, cursed protected trades, many of whom have no knowledge of the processes which have led to their receiving these duties. Odi quem laeseris; hate those you have injured, or are about to injure. He has proceeded against these trades by a dual process of torture; first, alarm; then, suspense; violent alarm; very prolonged suspense. Anything more elaborate than the machinery he has adopted to create alarm cannot be imagined. He solemnly read out to us a couple of months ago all the arrangements which he was making with regard to the duty-paid stocks in all these trades in case of the duties being removed. He must have known that the revenue then did not justify bringing a single one of these duties to an end. He went through the solemn farce of laying out all the proceeding which would be appropriate with a view of creating the utmost possible concern and uncertainty, and lent to it an extreme air of verisimilitude. He ought to try to be fair to all trades, even though they are protected and to say to himself, "They are all under my wing, and I will do the best I can for all of them, and for all of us." That is the proper spirit for him to address himself to his duties. Instead he comes down here, when we have 1,500,000 unemployed, a number which is probably going to be increased, and talks to us in a mocking way about jews' harps, pop-guns and mechanical donkeys, in a spirit which I can only characterise as worthy of a mechanical donkey. I have little more to say, and I am going to address myself to the question of Budget secrecy.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Hon. Members below the Gangway must make their own speeches and must allow me to make 1642 mine. I am directing myself in strict relevance to the Vote of Censure on which we are going to vote.
What is the argument of Budget secrecy? The object of Budget secrecy is the public interest. It is the public interest that the secrets of the Budget should be kept, and that the Budget should be announced in its integrity, because it would be undesirable that there should be forestalments of revenue or other calculations or speculations made upon the plans for the yearly finances. But Budget secrecy means that there shall be no leakage. It does not in the least preclude an announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at any time, if it be thought that it will be better for the common interest, better for the national housekeeping, to have such an announcement. There is no Budget etiquette, no rule to prevent such an announcement being made. Far better to have such an announcement than to have leakages, and are you quite sure there will be no leakages? I wonder very much, when I see the motor trade suddenly lifting its head a little, whether they have not had a hint from some quarter or another to say, "After all it will be quite all right—take it from me."
At any rate, however that may be I cannot tell, but it would be far less objectionable to have a frank and plain announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it is ludicrous to suppose that any tradition would be violated by such a statement. The oldest Privy Councillor in the House the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain), who was Chancellor of the Exchequer on two occasions, made a precedent. It is quite true that he said, very rightly, that it ought not to be copied—except when special circumstances arise—and I am sure it would have been better for the right hon. Gentleman to have said, "Everyone knows that I would like to do away with these Duties, but there is absolutely no question of my having the finances to do away with them at the present time, and, therefore, I put these trades out of their misery at once." But what does the right hon. Gentleman do? He fixes his eye on the Budget day. That is a great occasion for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Then he 1643 comes clown here to the House and unfolds his plan, and we shall all wait with the greatest interest to hear the right hon. Gentleman's plan. But one must not push too far considerations of personal gratification and the theatrical setting of the scene. The right hon. Gentleman wants to come down here on 14th April. He knows perfectly well tonight whether he is going to repeal those Duties or not. I cannot hazard what he will do.
If he does not repeal them what will be his position? Just in order that he might come down here and have all these trades, in which I am told 500,000 people are employed, sitting around in the galleries on every side waiting to hear—[Interruption.] There is nothing dishonourable in being in trade. The right hon. Gentleman, as I say, will have them waiting to know what their fate may be, having had their businesses held up, having been unable to make their ordinary forward contracts, having been embarrassed and harassed for months by alarming predictions and threats—all will be waiting and hanging on his words. Then he will tell them, "You are all reprieved, you are all respited and you can go away and live in your present uncertainty for another year. I should have thought that the days had gone by when the personal pomp and circumstance of an individual, the personal vanity of an individual, could outweigh broad matters of interest. We all know the saying:And wretches hang that Chancellors may shine.We all know how Napoleon before the Battle of Leipzig said, "Do you think I am a man who cares a snap of the fingers for the lives of 100,000 soldiers?" [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman is using the livelihood of 500,000 people as the raw material of his stage effects. That is the gravamen of the case which we oppose against him to-night. I am not joining with those who procliam a pessimistic outlook for this country. I agree with the Lord Privy Seal and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) that the strength and power of this mighty country is unexhausted, and will be capable in the long run of mounting every difficulty and surmounting every peril. But for the time, 1644 the luck is adverse. We have enough to bear and little enough to sustain ourselves, and it is a shame that anyone for motives of pride or prejudice should add a single jot to the burden which is being borne by the self-supporting citizens in every part of the island, when it ought to be the common endeavour of us all to add to the national stock of good fortune.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Wedgwood Benn)
When I first became a Member of this House, I remember with what delight I used to listen to the championship of the fight against tariffs which lay in the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). I confess that to-night the chief interest of the Debate was to hear how the right hon. Gentleman was going to defend the ramshackle Resolution which has been put on the Paper on behalf of the Opposition. I think those who have listened have been greatly disappointed. I do not say that those who expected a brilliant and amusing oration have been disappointed, but those who looked for some sort of defence for the change of attitude have gone away empty. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about your change?"] I remember in a work which was published about 20 years ago and widely circulated, which was called "Why I am a Free Trader," by Winston S. Churchill, the remark occurred thatFree Trade is not like another question; it is a touchstone.To-day the right hon. Gentleman seems to think that Protection is a stepping-stone. He comes here, and, without any attempt in detail either to explain the policy of the Opposition, or in fact to explain the meaning of the Motion, he devotes himself to an attack, largely a personal one, on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, though I do not suppose that my right hon. Friend complains. He attacked him because he says that he is a lover of sensation, is a man who likes a sensational situation and would do anything that he might be in the limelight. Has the right hon. Gentleman forgotten Sidney Street? But he is also very anxious that he and his friends should be able to pursue their policy unhampered by the Press in what he calls a logical way.
It seems to me that the most useful thing one could do in the very short time 1645 which I propose to occupy would be to examine what, in effect, is the constructive part of the Motion before us. Obviously, it would not be the wish of the Opposition merely to put before the House destructive and barren criticism. What they desire is to present to us and to the country an alternative, and this is certainly an excellent opportunity to examine what is the present position of the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Neighbour on this question of Protection.
I will not go into the history of the last 20 years. The right hon. Gentleman remembers it as well as I do. We will take the history of the last month, set in three scenes. The first at the Coliseum, a well-known scene of martyrdom; the second, a play with the curtain down; and the third at the Hotel Cecil. I believe the last diversion which is to take place there. The right hon. Gentleman spoke at the Coliseum before a large and influential gathering of members of his own party, of which he is the Leader. He is the Leader of the party. We need be under no misapprehension of the function of a leader. During the Election he told us at Widnes, "I am the leader of a united party and what I say in my party goes."—goes at the Coliseum. What did he say at the Coliseum? "I want a free use of safeguarding, but I will not propose taxes on food." I am the leader of a party, and what I say goes! The curtain is dropped and somewhere in the wings there is an interview between the right hon. Gentleman and a crusader. The curtain rises again at the Hotel Cecil, and the party policy has become a free use of safeguarding—that is, Protection; I will give you that in a moment—and food taxes—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—well, this is interesting; we must get an answer to some of these questions—and food taxes if confirmed by a referendum. The crusader remarked in his newspaper, "I was encouraged by the unqualified character of the support I received." The right hon. Gentleman, who has carefully evaded this topic—or done so by accident wilfully and wantonly—wrote to his constituents and said, "This decision enables all the energies and enthusiasms evoked by Lord Beaverbrook's campaign to be directed to the goal." Now, what is the goal?
1646 The keystone of the policy, says the crusader, is the taxation of foreign foodstuffs. The policy of the Conservative party to-day on this question is: one, safeguarding, the free safeguarding—that is, the general Protection—of manufactures; second, the taxation of raw materials—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—Oh, but Lord Beaverbrook!—and third, subject to the referendum, the taxation of food.
Here is a party charging us with refusing to make a declaration of our intentions and with causing uncertainty in fiscal matters and yet they cannot answer a simple question. On the question of new Safeguarding we all agree that it must give an exception in the Imperial interests. It has been suggested that a new tariff should be imposed on manufactured articles giving a preference to Dominion products. Is that the policy of hon. Members opposite? [An HON. MEMBER: "Wait and see!"] Do you propose to impose a new tariff on Dominion products albeit one-third less than the new tariff on foreign products? That is a new scheme for improving the trade of the Dominions. Take the second proposition which proposes to tax raw material including American cotton. Is that right? [Interruption.] There is my right hon. Friend who sat there merely quivering silently under the gibes of the right hon. Gentleman, and yet the most polite and courteous inquiry addressed to hon. Members opposite produces either opprobrious retorts or else complete taciturnity. Of course, we should tax cotton. Lord Beaverbrook has said so on or about the 12th of December.
Are you going to tax steel? You would tax steel if the hon. Member for Penrith (Mr. Dixey) had his way, but the others do not know, and this is a united party. Are you going to tax wool? Lord Beaverbrook has announced that you are going to tax raw material. Are you going to tax food? [An HON. MEMBER: "Foreign."] You are going to tax foreign food, always subject to a referendum. I am old enough to remember, and many hon. Members are old enough to remember, the time when the whole of these futile devices were tried before to save the life of the Conservative party and failed. The right hon. Gentleman made a speech in which he gave quotations from Sir William 1647 Anson and Lord Cave. I remember those speeches. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the proposed Liberal Referendum in 1893. Lord Curzon described it by saying:Because Mr. Gladstone aspires to revolutionise the constitution in one direction, there can be no necessity for us in order to defeat him to revolutionise it in another.and he spoke about a referendum in 1910. The "Daily Telegraph" declared:Is it not ludicrous to talk as if the referendum could be tacked on as a party detail, to a Measure of the most acutely controversial kind?The "Daily Express" said it was a clumsy and inept suggestion. The "Daily Mail" said it was fantastic and preposterous, and the National Union of Conservative Associations declared that:The referendum may, in fact, be dismissed as belonging to academic rather than the practical side of politics.On a Referendum which was specifically proposed on the question of food taxes, Mr. Bonar Law said:I will tell you the reason, that seems to us a valid reason, why it would not do to submit these proposals to a Referendum after the completion of the negotiations.After a paragraph which time does not permit me to read, Mr. Bonar Law goes on to say that:The sole reason why we object to submit this proposal to a Referendum is that would not be fair to the Dominions.We do not know, or cannot find out, whether the Opposition, and particularly the right hon. Gentleman, is in favour of food taxation or not. We do not know what they are going to advocate at the Election; we do not know what they are going to do when the referendum question is put down; and yet they are charging us with creating uncertainty.
§ Mr. BENN
Is your return to be prolonged so indefinitely that your fiscal opinions have no importance? What do they propose to do with the scheme which is outlined in this Resolution to-night? It speaks of Safeguarding and Imperial Preference. It is an Imperial policy; it is an Empire crusade and it is a cure for unemployment. If you shut out imports, you prevent exports. You cannot explain, and no one has answered the Chancellor's 1648 question this afternoon, as to why in countries with high tariffs there are millions of people unemployed [An HON. MEMBER: "Is that so in France? "] If a tariff is a cure for unemployment, there should be no unemployment where the cure has been applied. No one has been able to explain how it is that; unemployment is going to be cured in exporting trades by restricting imports—and the unemployment is in the exporting trades. Far better than anything that I can say will be for me to give the views of the right hon. Gentleman on this subject—hot ancient views, but recent views. He has said:There is no truth in the idea that is sometimes mooted that the present increase in unemployment is due to foreign competiton.That was in 1928. I remember him writing something a little more rhetorical, perhaps because he was a little younger. He wrote thus:Because they are conscious of failure, they have hastened blithering and blubbering to the electors, with a lachrymose cry of curing unemployment by Protection.It is sought to bind the Empire together by some such policy as this, and the Leader of the movement is gratified to have had the unqualified support given by the Leader of the Opposition. This is his idea:We who comprise the English-speaking people of the Empire have no economic unity which will enable us to take our fair share of the world's commercial prosperity.That is how he declares his policy. I would like to know since when the conception has grown that the British Empire exists for the purpose of some financial or industrial interests of English-speaking people. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel), in a speech and an article which I read out, dealt with this matter very effectively. This Empire Crusade is a crusade to exploit the populations of the Empire forthe English-speaking people of the Empire who have no economic unity which would enable us to take our fair share"—and so on. What is the British Empire? Since when did the British Empire become an English-speaking British Empire? Are 300,000,000 people in Asia, 50,000,000 people in Africa, and 8,000,000 in Oceania, to be told, "You are tied to a British commercial system. Your markets must be within the British 1649 Empire. You must buy from the British manufacturer. Any ring, any trust, any combination can force you to pay more for the goods that you need"—[Interruption.] They are to be told, "You are to be made the victims of a tariff system which simply means the exploitation by capital of the interests of the consumer." [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] If it were possible to construct an Empire on this basis, it would definitely be a degraded Empire and a lowering of the world's standards, because the League of Nations, in its Mandate, has laid it down that this sort of thing is not to be permitted. The right hon. Gentleman for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) laughs, but is it not a fact that in no mandated territory could you have fiscal arrangements which give a preference to this country? Are you therefore to say that our standard of Imperialism, or what you will, is going to be lower than the Geneva standard? Under the leadership of this crusader, are we to degrade ourselves so that instead of—[Interruption.] Since when have you thought you could make an Empire or Empire spirit by taxing food? Every mouthful of food which the people eat—and it is little enough—would be embittered by the duty. You go to the people and say, "Eat less and expand the Empire! Bind the Empire together by tightening your own belts." Any such cry or policy of that kind—and it is the policy—as far as strengthening the Empire is concerned, is a sure precursor of its ruin and dissolution. [Interruption.] I have only a little time at my disposal.
§ Mr. BENN
If I am trying to hit hard and if it is not congenial to hon. Gentlemen opposite, let them remember this is the place where we have to listen to much which we do not like. They are a party of sham Imperialism. All this talk about Empire lies badly on their lips. This Motion which is on the Paper, and which is described as the Resolution of the party opposite, is answered in the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping himself, and I will give it. It is familiar as a classic. I am not a stylist, but he is. He is a soldier, he is a bricklayer, he is a stylist, and in these familiar words let us answer the party opposite and the Motion they have put on the Paper:A party of great vested interests, the trickery of tariff juggles, the tyranny of the party machine, sentiment by the bucketful, patriotism by the Imperial pint, the open hand at the Treasury, the open door at the public house, dear food for the million, cheap labour for the millionaire.
That this House deplores the depression in trade and the increase in unemployment resulting from the policy of the present Government, and regrets the refusal of the Government not only to extend safeguarding or Imperial Preference but even to declare their intentions with regard to the maintenance of the existing safeguarding and McKenna Duties and duties on sugar, silk and key industries, thereby increasing uncertainty and distress.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 235; Noes, 308.1653
|Division No. 226.]||AYES.||[10.57 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Bullock, Captain Malcolm|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Berry, Sir George||Burton, Colonel H. W.|
|Albery, Irving James||Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Butler, R. A.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Butt, Sir Alfred|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverpl., W.)||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Bird, Ernest Roy||Carver, Major W. H.|
|Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)||Boothby, R. J. G.||Castle Stewart, Earl of|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cautley, Sir Henry S.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt, R. (Prtsmth, S.)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Boyce, H. L.||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.|
|Atkinson, C.||Bracken, B.||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Brass, Captain Sir William||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Briscoe, Richard George||Chapman, Sir S.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Christie, J. A.|
|Balniel, Lord||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Buchan, John||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Buckingham, Sir H.||Cohen, Major J. Brunel|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Renneil|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Ross, Major Ronald D.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Hurd, Percy A.||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Iveagh, Countess of||Salmon, Major I.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.||Sasscon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Knox, Sir Alfred||Savery, S. S.|
|Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Lane Fox, Rt. Hon. George R.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfast)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Skeiton, A. N.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Dixey, A. C.||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Somerset, Thomas|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Long, Major Eric||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, Edit)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Lymington, Viscount||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Macquisten, F. A.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M.||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Fielden, E. B.||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Fison, F. G. Clavering||Marjoribanks, E. C.||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Melier, R. J.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Train, J.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Mond, Hon. Henry||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Grace, John||Muirhead, A. J.||Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||O'Neill, Sir H.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Peake, Capt. Osbert||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Penny, Sir George||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Withers, Sir John James|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Womersley, W. J.|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Power, Sir John Cecil||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Hanbury, C.||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Purbrick, R.||Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Ramsbotham, H.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton.|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Reid, David D. (County Down)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Remer, John R.||Commander Sir B. Eyres Monsell|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||and Major Sir George Hennessy.|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Benson, G.||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Calne, Derwent Hall-|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.||Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Cameron, A. G.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Birkett, W. Norman||Cape, Thomas|
|Alpass, J. H.||Bilndell, James||Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Charleton, H. C.|
|Angell, Norman||Bowen, J. W.||Chater, Daniel|
|Arnott, John||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Church, Major A. G.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Broad, Francis Alfred||Clarke, J. S.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Brockway, A. Fenner||Cluse, W. S.|
|Ayles, Walter||Bromfield, William||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Bromley, J.||Cocks, Frederick Seymour|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Brooke, W.||Compton, Joseph|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Brothers, M.||Cove, William G.|
|Batey, Joseph||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Daggar, George|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Dallas, George|
|Bellamy, Albert||Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)||Dalton, Hugh|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Burgess, F. G.||Day, Harry|
|Bennett, Captain E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Denman, Hon. R. D.|
|Devlin, Joseph||Leach, W.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Rowson, Guy|
|Dukes, C.||Lees, J.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Duncan, Charles||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lindley, Fred W.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Logan, David Gilbert||Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Longbottom, A. W.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Egan, W. H.||Longden, F.||Sandham, E.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Lowth, Thomas||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Foot, Isaac||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Scurr, John|
|Forgan, Dr. Robert||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Sexton, James|
|Freeman, Peter||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||McElwee, A.||Sherwood, G. H.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||McEntee, V. L.||Shield, George William|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||McKinlay, A.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Gibbins, Joseph||MacLaren, Andrew||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Shinwell, E.|
|Gill, T. H.||MecNeill-Weir, L.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Gillett, George M.||McShane, John James||Simmons, C. J.|
|Glassey, A. E.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Gossling, A. G.||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Sinkinson, George|
|Gould, F.||Mansfield, W.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||March, S.||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)|
|Granville, E.||Marcus, M.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Gray, Milner||Markham, S. F.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Marley, J.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Marshall, Fred||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Mathers, George||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Matters, L. W.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Melville, Sir James||Snell, Harry|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Messer, Fred||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Middleton, G.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Millar, J. D.||Sorensen, R.|
|Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)||Mills, J. E.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Milner, J.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Montague, Frederick||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Harbison, T. J.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|Harbord, A.||Morley, Ralph||Strauss, G. R.|
|Hardie, George D.||Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Sullivan, J.|
|Harris, Percy A.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Haycock, A. W.||Mort, D. L.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Moses, J. J. H.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)|
|Hayes, John Henry||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Tillett, Ben|
|Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Henderson, Arthur, Junr, (Cardiff, S.)||Muff, G.||Toole, Joseph|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Muggeridge, H. T.||Tout, W. J.|
|Herriotts, J.||Murnin, Hugh||Townend, A. E.|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Nathan, Major H. L.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Naylor, T. E.||Turner, B.|
|Hollins, A.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Noel Baker, P. J.||Viant, S. P.|
|Horrabin, J. F.||Oldfield, J. R.||Walker, J.|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Isaacs, George||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Owen, H. F. (Hereford)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Palin, John Henry.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Johnston, Thomas||Paling, Wilfrid||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Palmer, E. T.||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Perry, S. F.||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||West, F. R.|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Phillips, Dr. Marion||White, H. G.|
|Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Picton-Tubervill, Edith||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Kelly, W. T.||Pole, Major D. G.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Kennedy, Thomas||Potts, John S.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Price, M. P.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Kinley, J.||Pybus, Percy John||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Kirkwood, D.||Quibell, D. J. K.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Knight, Holford||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Wilson C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Lang, Gordon||Rathbone, Eleanor||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Raynes, W. R.||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Lathan, G.||Richards, R.||Wise, E. F.|
|Law, Albert (Bolton)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Law, A. (Rosendale)||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Lawrence, Susan||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Ritson, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Lawson, John James||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. T.|
|Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Romeril, H. G.||Henderson.|
Question put, and agreed to.