HC Deb 20 May 1930 vol 239 cc190-2

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that large quantities of finished engineering products are being imported into this country which are manufactured under conditions less favourable to the British worker in regard to wages, overtime, and piecework rates; and whether fee proposes to take any action to protect the workers in this industry against unemployment caused by such foreign competition?


I am aware that large quantities of engineering products are imported into the United Kingdom. More than half of the imports recorded as machinery and vehicles come from North America, and as the right hon. Member is aware, motor vehicles and parts thereof are at present subject to duty on importation. The policy of His Majesty's Government with regard to goods manufactured under inferior conditions of labour is, however, well known. It is to approach the problem, in the first instance, by way of international discussion and, it is hoped, agreement.


What is the policy of the Government? Is it to let them in free?


No. It is, of course, to do everything we can in maintaining international standards of labour, but we have made it quite plain that we are opposed to prohibition by way of tariffs or kindred restrictions.


What action would the right hon. Gentleman take to prevent them from being imported into this country?


I intend to do everything in my power to secure an international standard in labour conditions, but I cannot support the tariff restrictions which the right hon. Gentleman recommends.

8. Sir W. DAVIS0N

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether it is the policy of His Majesty's Government to prohibit the importation into this country of goods or commodities made or produced by foreign compulsory labour whereby British goods or commodities made or produced under trades union regulations are undersold in the British market and unemployment occasioned?


The attitude of His Majesty's Government in regard to this matter has been indicated in the answers to recent questions in this House. I would in particular refer the hon. Member to the answers to questions by the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs) on 10th and 18th March.


Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why cheap foreign labour in this country is forbidden, but cheap goods and commodities manufactured in foreign countries by these cheap methods are allowed? We cannot understand it.