Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Order, dated 20th November, 1931, made by the Board of Trade under the Abnormal Importations (Customs Duties) Act, 1931, a copy of which was presented to this House on the 23rd day of November, 1931, be approved."—[Mr. Runciman.]
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Before the Debate opens, I would ask for your guidance, Mr. Speaker, as to the discussion. We have put an Amendment to the Motion on the Paper. Would you give us guidance as to the scope of the discussion in referring to the Amendment and its relation to the Orders?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
There is an Amendment on the Paper, and it is rather unusual to have what is called a reasoned Amendment to an Order. I do not like to rule it out of order. On the Amendment the discussion might be of a very wide nature, but I could not allow discussion to range over a wide variety of subjects, certainly not to any subjects that are not contained in the Order. It is quite clear that in discussing these two Orders we could not have anything in the nature of a discussion on general tariffs. The discussion must be confined to the regulations which are set out in the Orders and to the particular items which are mentioned in the two Schedules. In doing that, Members should not propose to include something which is not already there, although it would be in order to suggest the deletion of any of the items which are in the Schedules. I think the general wish of the House would be that we should discuss both these Orders together, and I hope I have made it clear how wide the scope of the discussion may be.
§ Mr. HANNON
Would it be in order to call attention to articles related to those in the Schedule, but not included in it?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If we did anything of that kind we should be getting on very dangerous ground. The discussion must be confined exclusively to what is in the Schedules.
§ Mr. ARTHUR MICHAEL SAMUEL
Would not the word "ineffective" in 1420 restoring the trade balance, mentioned in the Amendment, permit discussion of the whole principle of the trade balance?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is what I have tried to convey in my remarks regarding the Amendment. The Amendment appears to open up a very wide discussion. That was why I had doubts as to whether it is in order, but I did not rule it out of order.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
We wanted to do exactly what you have just laid down, Mr. Speaker, that is to relate these various Orders to the balance of trade and to try to prove that they have no effect. The lines of discussion that you have laid down are quite satisfactory to us. Our idea is to take these various items collectively or singly, and to try to prove that they will not have the effect which we understand the Government maintain that they will have. We have no intention of trying to widen the scope of the discussion. After discussing both the Orders we propose to have a Division on our Amendment, that is one Division on the Orders, and not to trouble the House with two Divisions.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. Runciman)
We naturally take no exception to the procedure suggested by the Leader of the Opposition, or to the Amendment, but I think it must be obvious that the Amendment in its present form would lead us into temptation, and that we might be a little apt to stray outside your Ruling. I would ask, therefore, whether the object of the Opposition would not be equally well gained by proposing a direct negative to the Motion and using all the arguments which are set out in the Amendment in support of the negative.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think that would be better, but the Amendment was on the Paper, and I did not rule it out of order.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Hore-Belisha)
On 20th November last the Abnormal Importations (Customs Duties) Act received the Royal Assent, and on the same day my right hon. Friend, in pursuance of the new power 1421 conferred on him, signed the first Order. It placed an ad valorem duty of 50 per cent. on 23 descriptions of articles and on certain varieties of them. Ten days later my right hon. Friend signed his second Order, which applied to eleven descriptions of articles and certain varieties of them. That I may give a composite picture, as you have suggested, Mr. Speaker, and as the same considerations apply, I will deal with both the Orders together. The House will recollect that under the Abnormal Importations Act my right hon. Friend has power to restrict abnormal importations of goods falling within Class III of the Import and Export List, that is to say, goods defined as being manufactured or mainly manufactured; and it may assist the House to put this matter in perspective if I recall that in a full year—I will take the year 1930—our total imports under Class III were worth £307,000,000. But there were already on certain of these goods duties imposed in previous Budgets. Those duties account for £75,000,000 on the 1930 basis. These two Orders bring in £35,000,000 of goods on the same basis. So that, treating the matter as if we were in the year 1930, there would be now £110,000,000 worth of goods in Class III liable to duty, and on the latest computation over 34 per cent, of that class is now within the scope of Customs.
That will put the matter in perspective. My right hon. Friend has, of course, to show that any goods with which he deals in these Orders are coming abnormally into this country. The House is in possession of White Papers giving monthly averages of imports, and it may assist hon. Members if I give some illustrations to make those statistics more vivid. In the six weeks ended 10th November the imports of domestic pottery were sufficient for four or five months' supply on the basis of 1930. The imports of sanitary ware between 1st October and 21st November were about seven months' supply on the basis of 1930. The imports of safety razor blades were sufficient for nine months' supply; the imports of tools for six months' supply; the imports of wireless receiving sets in the first three weeks of November were over ten times the average monthly imports in the earlier part of the year. The imports of wool felt from 1st October 1422 to 21st November were sufficient for about seven months' supply on the basis of 1930. The imports of overcoats and mantles were more than twice as much as the imports in the whole of 1930. In the period from 1st October to 21st November, the imports of perfumery were more than sufficient for three months' supply, and the imports of spoons and forks in the same period were sufficient for four months' supply on the basis of 1930. The imports of airguns in October were six times as much as the monthly average for 1930. Therefore, if we consider these figures, I do not think that it can be suggested that any trader or manufacturer can be put to deprivation if the imports are restricted. The supplies are plentiful.
Have the Orders—and this is the second question to which the House will desire an answer—made by my right hon. Friend been effective? They have been extremely effective. The imports of the articles mentioned in these two Orders have practically ceased. My hon. Friend the Member for South West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) was good enough to put me a question when I was moving the Second Reading of the Bill as to how much revenue we expected to get from these duties. I replied that I hoped we should get no revenue, for we wanted to keep the goods out altogether. Now I am in a position to satisfy the curiosity of my hon. Friend. It is only a rough estimate, but it may interest him to know that we have taken, since the period of the operation of the first Order, only £30,000 in Customs Duties. That shows how small, how insignificant have been the imports of those articles. Therefore, my right hon. Friend was wise in selecting a duty of 50 per cent. It was not necessary for him to go to the full limit of his power and put on a duty of 100 per cent.
What is going to be the effect of these Orders? In the first place, our manufacturers, released from their temporary anxiety, can pursue their normal employment. That is the first effect. The second effect brings me to this Amendment. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition intends to move it, but I take it from what he said that he does intend to move it, and I shall briefly answer the points which it raises. What is the effect on the 1423 balance of trade? My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition asserts in this Amendment that the Orders will be entirely ineffective in redressing the trade balance. Of course the primary object of these Orders—we are not so ambitious as that—is not entirely and completely to redress the balance of trade but to deal with the monthly abnormal importations. If these had not been restricted they would have involved us in the sale of £2,000,000 sterling every month. That may not be decisive, but it is a small contribution, in the present financial stringency if we can withhold from the market £2,000,000 worth of sterling. I have it on the highest banking authority that a sale of only £100,000 worth of sterling appreciably affects the quotations. Therefore, if we withhold from sale £2,000,000 every month, we have made some small contribution. I am sorry that we cannot satisfy my right hon. Friend opposite altogether and by this Bill adjust completely our adverse balance of trade, but that we never pretended to be able to do.
The next charge brought by the right hon. Member is that these Orders will accentuate the prevailing dislocation of world trade. But it is our trade that is dislocated, and are we not to be allowed to protect ourselves? We have not interfered in the slightest degree with any normal commerce. We have not said to any foreign nation that we shall not continue normal trading relations with them. All we have done has been to restrict an unusually heavy flow into this country of goods which, as I have clearly demonstrated from the figures, are not required and cannot be conveniently paid for, and insofar as we help to rectify our own dislocation of trade, I think we should have the support of all sections in the House. The next charge that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition makes is that we shall destroy our export trade in the articles affected. I direct his attention to Section 5 which specifically exempts what is technically known as the re-export trade. It takes out altogether goods in the course of transit or transhipment. The next item in the indictment is that these Orders will still further hinder the exchange of goods and commodities between the peoples of the world upon which a rising standard of life 1424 depends. That is to assume that the balance of trade is automatically adjusted and that goods are always and promptly exchanged for goods. If that were true, we should not be suffering from an adverse trade balance at all. Therefore, the first part of the Amendment which complains that we are not entirely re-dressing the balance of trade is in complete contradiction of the last.
As for "raising the standard of life," does my right hon. Friend suggest that it appreciably raises the standard of life if you put out of employment a British weaver and then, when he finds himself upon the Employment Exchange, console him with the fact that he can buy a Polish overcoat for 9s.? If these abnormal imports had not been restricted, we should have built up in this country a system whereby we paid foreign countries to make goods for us, and paid our own people simultaneously not to make them.
I do not describe the merits of these Orders in the same language of hyperbole which my right hon. Friend uses in describing their demerits. I confine myself to saying that we found an injury and that we are trying to put it right; and I hope that in these Orders the traders and manufacturers of the country will see some indication that it is the intention of His Majesty's Government, insofar as they can, to circumscribe their difficulties and to defend them from unmerited and unforeseeable interference with their normal avocations.
§ Mr. DAVID GRENFELL
I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words:this House declines to approve an Order which will be entirely ineffective in redressing the balance of trade, will only accentuate the prevailing dislocation of world trade, will destroy the re-export trade in the articles affected, and will still further hinder the full exchange of goods and commodities between the peoples of the world upon which a rising standard of life depends.The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade has entertained us with a speech which is quite new coming from him and would indeed be new coming from any quarter of the House. The hon. Gentleman used to address this House as a Free Trader, but to-day he has stood 1425 at that Box and delivered a speech which was a justification for complete Protection applied to all kinds of articles. He has been prompted to that change of mind in spirit by the cheers of hon. Members both behind him and in front of him. When the hon. Gentleman put the rhetorical inquiry, "Have these Orders been effective," he was received with a roar of approbation and approval by hon. Members and doubtless if those hon. Members keep up the pressure from behind, and the encouragement from in front, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade will give them all they want.
The right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary—I beg his pardon, I mean the hon. Gentleman; I promoted him, but he is certain of his promotion if he keeps on in a Tory Administration on the lines on which he has started—forgot the elements of economics and of trade. He said, in examining the arithmetical results of these duties, that we had already adopted a system of taxation which would keep from our markets goods to the value of £2,000,000 a month, which, he said, was not to be sniffed at. £2,000,000 a month amounts to nearly £30,000,000 a year, but he forgot that if at the same time as you lessen the weight on one side of the balance, you lessen the weight on the other side too, to that extent your balance remains where it was. There is only one way of maintaining the balance of trade. If, for various causes, you find that you wish to restrict imports, you can do it in this way, but remember that we are in a world system of trade, which the hon. Gentleman appears to have forgotten. He said, "I am not concerned with world trade; this is our trade." That was a contradiction in terms. Trade implies a relation between two separate bodies of people, but the hon. Gentleman said, "This is our trade, not world trade." If you cut down your imports by £2,000,000 a month, in world conditions of trade, you must restrict your exports by an equal if not by a greater quantity—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—You must, and I will produce evidence that that is the result already of what the Government are doing. The hon. Gentleman must think out his problem again. He gave us some information, for which we are grateful, in regard to the supplies of commodities that came in 1426 under what he called the abnormal conditions of October and November, but ha omitted to draw the right deduction from the illustrations which he gave. He said that we had to protect ourselves against the abnormal importation of pottery, because those who send us pottery from abroad had already sent to us, before this Act became operative, all that they would ordinarily have sent in the next five months. In that case it was not necessary for him to do anything, because all their goods for the next five months have already come in, and his Order will be entirely ineffective. He said that enough safety razors for the next nine months have already come in. Why then this special machinery, and why does he claim credit for applying these measures if these goods have already come in and are in our warehouses?
The hon. Gentleman went on to deal with overcoats, but I do not think the overcoats have all come in from Poland, as he intimated. I think he will find that they came from the United States of America and that it is not Polish but American overcoats that have been dealt with under the Order issued by the Department. He said that sufficient overcoats have come in for two years. Then why did the Government bother themselves with passing an Act which only carries us on for six months, when already we have in this country all the overcoats that are likely to come in for the next two years?
However, I will not give all my time to the speech of the hon. Gentleman, because I have a modest speech of my own to make. I will recall the House to the terms of the Amendment. We shall vote for this Amendment, and we shall ask the people in the country to judge it on its merits. The hon. Gentleman said he would answer the Amendment before it was moved, but I would like an answer to the speech of his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade in introducing the Ways and Means Resolution on which these proposals are based, on the 17th November last. The right hon. Gentleman, on that occasion, said:We have taken, or propose to take, a very wide range of powers, and within that range of powers we hope we shall do something to deter forestalling and to prevent attempts being made by those who have no particular sympathy with our Parliamentary 1427 system or our fiscal system, to take full advantage of the conditions in which we are at the present time, and will, at the same time, be a deterrent on those who pay no consideration whatever to the state of our foreign exchanges except in so far as these concern their own trade. We must take a larger view. We have to keep in mind the fact that we have to preserve and maintain the value of the sovereign externally as far as it is within the power of Parliament to do so. We must, at the same time, on the other side do what is in our power to prevent the depreciation of the internal value of the sovereign."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1931; col. 725; Vol. 259.]If that was the intention of the Act and of these Orders, I say that the President and the Government have failed in their attempt. They have failed to maintain the external value of the pound sterling. The pound has been gradually getting more and more debased in world exchange values. It has dropped day after day, and now I think it is about 1s. or 1s. 3d. less than it was when the right hon. Gentleman made his speech. The pound has fluctuated and dropped in value to a greater extent in some parts of the world than in others, and the success claimed for the Act could only be justified if we found that in the countries where these special kinds of trade are carried on, our balance of trade had been redressed and the pound sterling improved.
When I penned these modest lines, I did not think I would find the hon. Gentleman claiming that it was the intention of the Government to stop entirely the importation of these goods. That had never been set before us. What they said was that there were abnormal importations and indeed to-day he said that they did not intend stopping normal trade with any part of the world and that they wished to give freedom to our foreign customers, but to-day he has claimed that these Orders have resulted in stopping that trade. I can quite understand the Minister's desire to prevent forestalling. I can quite understand the Minister desiring to prevent the dumping of abnormal quantities, but the hon. Gentleman has said that in certain commodities they have stopped all trade, and, apparently, he will regard himself as being more and more entitled to the cheers of his friends behind him when he has stopped for all time the importation of these and other commodities. 1428 Let me quote the Act itself in regard to abnormal importations:If the Board of Trade are satisfied that articles of any class or description comprised in Class III of the Import and Export List issued under the authority of the Treasury and the Commissioners of Customs and Excise for the year nineteen hundred and thirty-one are being imported into the United Kingdom in abnormal quantities, it shall be lawful for the Board, with the concurrence of the Treasury, by Order to apply this Act to articles of that class or description.I would like to know whether that is really the only condition? Is the President compelled only to have regard to that? Will he be satisfied only when he can show that an abnormal, excessively high measure of goods of a certain class is coming to this country I would like to know whether the Minister has other considerations in his mind before he issues Orders dealing with this kind of goods? Does the Minister have any kind of regard to the possibility of manufacture in this country? Does he prevent the importation of goods simply because larger quantities are coming in, without having regard to the possibility of finding or creating immediate employment for people in this country? Where there is a rival industry in this country; where there is a manufacturer who produces the same class of goods as those scheduled, does he have any regard to the efficiency of the British manufacturer? Does he pay any attention to the condition of the British industry? Does be put a 50 per cent. duty against the importation of any article, even though on inquiry he may find that the manufacturer in Britain is already making generous profits? Does he have any regard to the efficiency of the industry and to profits in the industry itself?
There is this very important point in regard to this list of articles. In this £30,000,000 worth of goods which are to be stopped from entering this country, if the hon. Member's wishes are gratified, do the goods originate in countries where we have no adverse balance? I find in the list that a very large number of the commodities mentioned, pottery and such products, for instance, Germany is the chief exporter, and, I think, France comes next. Then, in regard to domestic and fancy glassware, there are Germany, Czechoslovakia and Belgium. Then we find metallic furniture on the list, but its 1429 volume is very low. It originates from the United States, where, admittedly, there is a very adverse balance. Again, with regard to cutlery, a small measure of value, that originates from the United States, where, as I say, the country has a heavy adverse balance. Scissors come from Germany. Coming to woollen and woollen tissue, we find the chief exporters are France, Germany, India and Belgium. In paper and products of wood pulp, Sweden and Norway comb into the list.
The right hon. Gentlemen and the hon. Gentleman, I feel quite sure, know that there is no heavy adverse balance of trade against us in our relations with Germany, France and Belgium. The heaviest adverse balances are in none of those countries. The heaviest adverse balances are with the United States, Denmark, and I forget the next country. Germany does not come very high. Then you have to remember, that although there may be an adverse balance of trade between Germany and ourselves, it must be so if Germany is to carry the liabilities we and others have imposed upon her. This question of adverse balance cannot be entirely removed from the questions of reparations and internal liability. When we are dealing with the question of redressing our balance, it must be remembered that we cannot redress it by ourselves. It is true as the right hon. Gentleman said, that we have our part to play in the world's trade. Other countries are responsible for the counterpart in trade, and when we attempt to put the balance right by attending to our own side only, we find those on the other side taking counteracting measures. Such counteracting measures have been taken in the last few months by certain countries.
France, for example, does a very large trade with us. I am very interested in the French trade, and in all things appertaining to French importation, because we in South Wales have had our livelihood very largely by selling coal to France. I am sure it will surprise many hon. Members in this House to know that we sold to France last year almost exactly the same quantity of coal that we sold to her in 1913, and we got more money for the coal we sent last year than in 1913. But because of conditions in this country, and because of agitation and the presence of Tory Members in this House, France has 1430 had to take measures En protect herself. That protection has taken the form of limiting the quantity of coal that has been sent from South Wales, which has meant a difference of 3s. per ton. The French do not call it retaliation; they are much too polite for that. They call it compensation duty. They have imposed a compensation duty of 15 per cent. against the exports from a part of the world known so well and represented so well by the right hon. Gentleman in his unregenerate days, when he was still a Free Trader. Not only has France done that, but Italy has put a tax of 15 per cent. ad valorem to protect itself from excessive imports from this country.
Not only have foreign countries been doing that, but Canada has imposed an anti-dumping duty against British imports—Canada, one of the family of nations which stands with us in amity and good will, has been compelled, for bread and butter reasons, to impose a special anti-dumping duty against goods sent from this country. The Government of Holland have been given powers to restrict imports; Spain is further restricting imports; Argentine has put 10 per cent. ad valorem duty on imports; India has a surcharge of 25 per cent. on all import duties; and action has been taken also by Finland, Latvia, Yugoslavia, China and others. The result is considerably to contract our export trade, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman and we will not live to regret this step; let us hope we shall not live to regret these £30,000,000 worth of imports which are to be stopped or which are to pass into the country with difficulty and that they will not be met by restrictions of our exports to other countries.
I am afraid that the effect of these Orders will be to cut down considerably the volume of our export trade in the present state of world opinion. The state of panic which has overtaken this country and changed the character of this House, the state of panic which is reflected in all the Parliaments in the world, and all the talk of new duties and Parliaments and elections everywhere are due to the fact that the world is afraid of itself. That world fear has been aggravated by action similar to that taken by this Government. I hope that we shall not approve these Orders, but I hope that if the Minister insists and gets his majority, 1431 he will stand fast against his expectant, hungry supporters welcoming this as an instalment of greater favours to come. It is no use my talking at him, but I shall talk to him, and f shall ask him to pay heed to the Amendment, because we believe that every word in it is justified and that its full import will he borne out in actual experience.
§ Mr. A. M. SAMUEL
It appears to me that the Board of Trade figures which are published on page 256 of the Board of Trade Journal of 26th February, 1931, utterly destroy the arguments of the hon. Gentleman and equally destroy the words in the Amendment, "hinder the full exchange of goods". The argument put forward by the other side is based on the old fallacy based on the bald apophthegm of Free Trade that every import creates an export. In other words, that every import comes into the country with a label round its neck to take back an export. That is true up to a point. But what exports? The Amendment says "will still further hinder the full exchange of goods". We ought to allot the exports; I will try to allot them in two sections and in doing so will ask the House to excuse me for quoting the Board of Trade figures. They are as plain as a pikestaff and knock the bottom out of the argument of the other side and out of this Amendment. In 1930 the import excess from merchandise and bullion was £392,000,000. That is to say we imported that amount more merchandise against which were our invisible exports. How are these invisible exports made up? They were made up of two sections, and I will take the two and dissect them. The first section contains the estimated excess of Government receipts from overseas, national shipping, banking commissions and estimated net receipts from other sources, totaling £196,000,000.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is going far beyond these Orders. His general economic treatise is quite unsuitable to the present occasion.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I will keep within your Ruling. The hon. Gentleman said that if these Orders are put into operation the effect will be to cut down considerably our export trade hut I will show that the 1930 excess of imports was not even met by invisible exports or services but to a 1432 great degree by surrendering dividend warrants to the tune of another £196,000,000 out of £235,000,000 of income on oversea investments. The consequence is that the statement in the Amendment that these Orders will further hinder the full exchange of goods can be disproved by the figures of surrendered income on oversea investments to which I have referred. We made up our excess of imports by invisibles and services only to such an amount that we had to fall back upon the surrender of dividend warrants to the extent of £196,000,000. Consequently, there will be no stoppage of exports or a hindrance to the full exchange of goods. If we adopt these Orders, no goods or services exports will be stopped. All that will happen is that we shall export so many less paper dividend warrants and not one penny less exports of goods and services will go out of the country. For that reason there is a fallacy in the argument of the hon. Gentleman opposite when he assumes that every import creates an export. That is baldly true, but what are the exports? So long as they are exports only of paper dividend warrants there is no harm to our export trade; on the contrary, by restricting imports as has been proposed by the President of the Board of Trade, it puts our excess of imports right, it helps to create an oversea balance in our favour, it takes away no employment from our people, and to the extent that employment is created by causing goods to be made here, it will be good for the nation as a whole. We can stop a very large volume of imports without stopping the export or exchange of goods.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I am not going to follow the hon. Gentleman into the very much larger problem which he has raised and which is a little outside the scope of this discussion. I tell the House quite frankly that I cannot work myself into a passion about the list which has emanated from the fertile imagination of the President of the Board of Trade. I remember the speech that he made just before the Dissolution of the last Parliament, a very remarkable speech in which he dealt with the whole exchange problem. I do not think that he then expected that he would have the power so soon to carry out his ideas, for I believe that at that time he had ideas of retiring into the more 1433 leisurely occupation of commerce. He then said that what was necessary for the nation was to follow out the policy with which he was associated during the war of stopping luxury imports. I think if he had had a free hand—I have had no discussion with him, I am only trying to read his mind—and if he were not embarrassed by international complications, he would have followed that policy, merely prohibiting luxury imports and not attempting to deal with this long list of lines.
But the situation has changed. The first thing is the difficulty of finding a long list of luxuries. It is so easy to talk about luxuries, but when it comes to defining a luxury one is on a very slippery path. The right hon. Gentleman said the other day that we all knew a luxury when we saw it, but do we? We know that lipsticks are luxuries, and such things as asparagus. [Interruption.] Well, there is a difference of opinion about that. Some people would say that for beauty and joy in life lipsticks are a necessity, but that is a matter of opinion. All this only shows the difficulty there is in defining luxuries. However, I am not going to work myself into a passion about things of that kind. On the contrary, if it is really the case that things are so bad, then there is a strong case for a, sumptuary tax, and I would go so far—and this may shock my right hon. Friend—as not only to have an import duty but an excise duty on luxuries. I notice that the hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon) has just taken his seat, and he may be interested to know that I would even suggest that champagne might be prohibited, though I would go as far as to exclude Empire champagne, in order to meet the requirements of this House. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Poison!"] My hon. Friend says "Poison." Still, if we are in a serious position, and the nation has to curtail its expenditure, luxuries of that kind might very well be limited.
§ Mr. HARRIS
On that point of Order. The hon. Member did not hear my opening remarks, he only came in time to 1434 hear the word "champagne," and he is not in a position to judge whether my remarks were in Order or not. With great respect to the Mover of this Amendment, I do not think he is likely to be successful in materially altering this list. I wish he could be. But we have already assented to the list, and we know the attitude of the House, and, after all, Ministers do not like to climb down and to admit a mistake. It may be a surprise to hon. Members, but I want to make this particular Measure work, to make it do as little harm as possible. As we have to swallow these unpleasant medicines, let us make them as harmless as possible. I wish to suggest that certain of these duties, no doubt conceived in a hurry, in panic, under pressure from hon. Members with Protectionist leanings and put forward in order to keep them quiet, have shown themselves, even in the very short experience we have had, likely to be harmful.
I should have thought that one thing the right hon. Gentleman would have left alone would have been paper. Paper is a raw material of almost every industry. There is not an industry which has not to use paper in one form or another. Already objections are being put forward; we are having some experience of Protection in practice. These innocent little duties, which were going to stimulate industry, give hundreds of people employment, and restore the balance of trade, are already upsetting a large number of employers and bringing their trade to a standstill. No doubt hon. Members have received letters from the paper bag industry. It may be that the paper bag industry is not a very important one, but paper bags are essential in retail trade. A few months ago there was a strike in Norway and the paper trade there was closed down. That strike came to an end very shortly before these abnormal imports began During the strike there was, naturally, a stoppage of imports and afterwards users of paper for bag making found it necessary to make up the leeway by taking a large quantity of imports. The right hon. Gentleman saw that and put 50 per cent. duty on this imported material, which costs something like £15 a ton. I am assured that at present, whatever may happen in the future, there is 1435 insufficient raw material here, and, in fact, insufficient plant to produce the raw material,. to supply manufacturers of bags with what they require. The result is that 4,000 people in this industry are confronted with0 unemployment. There has already been an increase in the cost of the home products. The right hon. Gentleman will not be surprised to hear, but some hon. Members will be, that the home manufacturers have taken advantage of the shortage.
§ 12. n.
§ Mr. HARRIS
Well, I am only giving information which has been given to me. I am assured that already some manufacturers have followed the law of supply and demand and taken advantage of the shortage to raise their prices. At any rate, the users of paper for bag making purposes have so informed me. I was asked by the hon. Member for Central Bristol (Mr. Culverwell), a loyal supporter of the Government, who is not able to be present to-day but in whose constituency there is an important industry in bag making, to put these facts before the House. There is another industry which may seem small and unimportant—the grease-proof paper Industry. Grease-proof paper may seem to be a luxury. I quite frankly admit that I did not know it was a very important industry, but I am assured that greaseproof paper is essential in cooking, that it is an article of daily use in almost every food industry in the country. A very small amount of it is produced here, and the result of the duty has been to increase its price enormously. and there is likely to prove a shortage.
In putting these facts forward I want to make it clear that the full force of these new duties is not likely to be felt immediately. They will not put up the price in the first few weeks, because they have been levied only on articles of which there has been an abnormal importation. Importers anticipated the imposition of these duties; that is the reason why they were imposed. If I am to follow the right hon. Gentleman, and not his Parliamentary Secretary, who waxes so eloquent in favour of Protection, these articles were selected because there had been an abnormal 1436 importation of them, because the imports of them in November had increased enormously in comparison with previous years. The Parliamentary Secretary pointed out that those imports would probably provide a supply for six or seven months, and so obviously there is not likely to be a shortage immediately such as would cause an increase of price.
The talk of tariffs during the last few weeks caused the very thing which it was desired to prevent. There was "intelligent anticipation". Importers brought in supplies for six months ahead, and so these tariffs caused the very thing which the Protectionists want to prevent. The full effect—one way or another, from whatever angle this subject is approached—is not likely to be felt for a good many weeks. In the meantime, certain other new problems have arisen. I am a London Member, and it is very rarely that London Members speak from a local point of view. I do not wish to be regarded as being parochial, but London has a population of 7,000,000; it is the largest port in the world, and exists to a great degree by its trade. There has been much competition from Hamburg and Antwerp, but London is still the greatest trading centre of the world, and that is due to the fact that we have always had free imports in London. In the City of London our big merchants are the pride of the whole Empire. Our big London merchants do trade all over the world. They trade with North America, South America, China, and our Dominions. It has recently become the fashion to speak with contempt of our merchants.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I am glad to hear that denial. In the past, it has been our pride that British merchants have gone to almost every country in the world stimulating our trade and exchanging products. Our merchant princes have built up our finance, and have helped our shipping in such a way as to make the British flag known in every port in every country. The point I wish to make is that these British merchants cannot exist merely by selling our own goods. In the past they have sold not only our own goods, but their travellers and agents 1437 have displayed other goods as well in every Continent and in every country in the world. Now, perhaps quite unconsciously, that great merchant prince in the shipping world the President of the Board of Trade has struck a serious blow against our foreign trade. I think he has done it quite unconsciously on the plea that he is taxing luxuries, but he has nevertheless struck a serious blow against our merchant houses.
I have been asking a few questions about drawbacks. I know that the Parliamentary Secretary understands these things, because he has long been a student of them. I do not, however, suggest that a few weeks at the Board of Trade has made my hon. Friend an expert in these matters, but just now he was trying to persuade the House that there was ample provision in these proposals for drawbacks. There seems to be a little confusion on this point. What is provided for in these Orders is quite another story. I am referring to the goods going to the warehouses to be shown to our visitors who come more particularly from America, China and the East, and who expect to purchase those goods less the drawback. There is nothing wrong in that. There is ample provision for that to take place in other Acts of Parliament and why is it not clearly provided for in the measures which we are now discussing?
I went through all the machinery of the Safeguarding Acts when the present Secretary of State for the Colonies was in charge of the Board of Trade. Of course, I do not expect the Parliamentary Secretary to have a wider outlook, or a greater knowledge of trade, than the President of the Board of Trade, but in the case of the Safeguarding Acts ample provision was made for drawbacks. Under this new Act, which subjects articles to a 50 per cent, duty, there is no provision for a drawback. I take it that the President of the Board of Trade desires to make this Act work smoothly. Perhaps he does not, perhaps he wants to discredit the whole system, but, if the right hon. Gentleman really desires the Act to work smoothly, he ought to amend it by providing for a drawback. It has often been said that we are a nation of shopkeepers, and it has also been said with a certain amount of contempt that trade is an honourable calling. Perhaps 1438 it would be more correct to say that we are a nation of merchants. A man working in a pit may, in certain circumstances, become a merchant. The man who brings the goods to the place where they are required is as necessary to industry as the ship owner, who carries the goods from our port to Australia, Canada or New Zealand. The ship owner does not produce the goods.
§ Vice-Admiral TAYLOR
If more goods are imported into this country than we are exporting how is it possible to balance our trade unless we export more of our own goods?
§ Mr. HARRIS
I think it is necessary to arrange for drawbacks in order to protect the business of our merchants. British merchants not only sell our own goods, but they sell other goods, and, if they are not allowed a drawback, they will be handicapped in the conduct of their business. There is every reason to justify the provision for drawbacks, because it is much better to send goods abroad instead of keeping them locked up in our own warehouses. Under the system which is now proposed those goods must be kept in this country, and cannot be distributed abroad. That is an unsound policy, whether you look at it from a Protectionist or a Free Trade point of view. Ultimately, when the full force of these duties is felt, and when the abnormal imports have been absorbed, this policy is bound to bring in a certain amount of revenue. I would like to point out that a duty on an article like paper, which is the raw material of a great number of other industries, will be very seriously affected by these Orders, and I hope that before very long some of those duties will be modified or altered to something more practical and reasonable. I think time will show that this will be necessary. I do not believe that these duties will be found to be any real remedy for balancing trade.
§ Mr. RAMSDEN
One of the most interesting spectacles that I have seen in the House for some time was that of Members on the Labour benches cheering the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) when he spoke in defence of the merchant. I do not think 1439 that the merchants of the City of London, or, indeed, of the country in general, have to fear any serious adverse effect from the duties that we are now discussing. They will be just as free as before to carry on the sale of British or foreign goods, it will be just as easy for them to show their samples, and there will be really no handicap to what is, after all, a very important business. I agree with the hon. Member as to the importance of the merchant in business.
I should like to refer to one or two things that were said by the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell) when he moved the Amendment on behalf of the Labour party. In the first place, I should like to say that the duties which have been imposed by the Italian, French and other governments have not been imposed because we have now in existence an Act of Parliament to deal with abnormal importations. They were imposed after we abandoned the Gold Standard—an entirely different reason. Then the hon. Member for Gower wished to know whether the President of the Board of Trade was taking into account any other consideration when he decided what duties should be imposed on any class of manufactures. From the evidence that I have seen, the President of the Board of Trade is sticking very strictly to the principles that are laid down in the Act. Indeed, I myself wish that he had not stuck to them quite so strictly as he has.
There was very little that I agreed with in the speech of the hon. Member for Gower, but I must say that one of his strangest arguments in support of his Amendment was when he questioned the advisability of imposing duties where it was shown that we had imported during the past few months an abnormal quantity of goods. He said that, if you imported goods in certain industries which gave supplies for five or nine months or two years, that would show that the duties themselves were not needed. That is one of the strangest arguments that I have ever heard advanced. It really means, if it be carried to a logical conclusion, that you should continue allowing foreign imports to come into the country until you have destroyed the industry itself.
1440 I am particularly glad that duties have been imposed upon the imports of woven woollen tissues, and also upon yarn, because, like many others, I was becoming very much afraid of what was going to happen to that particular industry. It has suffered very considerably during the past few years. From 1920 to the end of September of the present year, something like 7,400 looms have gone out of commission, a very large number of spindles are not now working, and hundreds of firms have gone out of existence during that time. I do not think it is realised how very much the wool textile industry has suffered. Perhaps I might be allowed to read to the House a report which appeared in an American publication, and was quoted in the Journal of the Bradford Chamber of Commerce some time ago. It recited certain facts that had been obtained by the Consulate of the United States of America in Bradford, and it stated that:In an endeavour to trace exactly haw many firms have left the industry in recent years, the Consulate has checked carefully the list of firms submitted in 1927. It found that 199 firms, with a capital of £2,609,026, had gone out of business.Unfortunately, since that date, this process has continued, with the result that now the number is even larger than the figure given in this American report. The report then went on to say:The extent to which the capital has been re-absorbed into the industry in the shape of machinery acquired by the remaining firms is a matter for speculation, although rumours frequently come to the Consulate of the scrapping of entire plant and equipment, no market having been found for it. There seems reason to believe that scrapping is more often the case than not.The next point that I would make is in reply to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Gower that the President of the Board of Trade should inquire into the efficiency of the wool textile industry, or any other industry that obtains the benefit of an import duty. I am quite convinced that, as far as the wool textile industry is concerned, there is no need for any such inquiry. This is a thoroughly efficient industry, and perhaps, in confirmation of that statement, I might be allowed to read the following extract from a letter which was published in the papers on the 10th March of this year:More than 60 years ago, every capital in Europe acknowledged the excellence of 1441 British cloth. The West Riding still turns out the finest cloth in the world, nor is there any dearth of new designs and new fabrics. Indeed, never have manufacturers shown more enterprise and a keener desire for changing demand.I think that perhaps I shall be able to reassure the hon. Member for Gower, and others who agree with him, that this statement is true, because I may tell him that this letter was signed by, among others, Sir Ben Turner, Mr. Lees-Smith, Mr. Jowett, Mr. W. Hirst, Mr. J. H. Hudson, Mr. William Leach and Mr. Ben Riley, all of whom were representatives of wool textile areas in the late House of Commons. If further proof be needed of the efficiency of the industry, perhaps I might also be allowed to quote a paragraph from a report issued in December, 1928, by the Executive Committee of the National Association of Unions in the Textile Trade. That was at the time when they were coming in, in support of the application for safeguarding. In this report they say:We have seen some ranges of patterns made by other manufacturers, and we are convinced that, whatever apathy there may have been during the War period, the post-War period has compelled the employers to become active, and, in the places we visited, every effort was being made to capture the trade.I think that the efficiency of the industry is also confirmed by the reports of the two committees which were set up under the Safeguarding of Industries procedure. The mere fact that during the past six or eight years competition has been so great, has had the effect of wiping out those firms that were not up to date and efficient and were not willing to give the goods that were required. What has affected the industry so acutely is the foreign competition, the dumping, that has been taking place. I hold in my hand a specimen of what I consider to be a dumped cloth. This is an article that was produced about a year ago in the heavy woollen districts—an overcoating produced for sale in the winter of 1931–32. It was very well accepted by all those houses to whom it was shown, and sample orders were placed very freely indeed. Then, unfortunately, as soon as it was found that there was likely to be a large sale for this cloth, we had foreign competition coming into the field, and, in particular, Italian competition. The result was that a British cloth, which 1442 would and could have been sold at 6s. a yard, was undercut by another cloth at 3s. 0½d., which I think was the lowest price at which the Italian sold a comparable cloth. I do not say that it was exactly the same, but in any case it served exactly the same purpose. That is what is happening constantly. New business, new cloths, new ideas are originated in the British textile trade; and, as soon as those new ideas look as though they are going to be turned into goods which will be sold on a very large scale, they are immediately faced with intense competition which it is not possible for them to deal with.
§ Mr. RAMSDEN
To all intents and purposes they were of about the same quality. I do not say there was not perhaps just a little advantage on our side, but the buyer, the man in the street, would not have known the difference between the two cloths referred to. The reason why the foreigner can sell these goods at a lower price is very much due to the different rates of wages paid in different countries. May I quote one or two of them. The Yorkshire rate of wages for a male mule spinner is £2.9, the German rate of wages is £1.89, the Italian £1.07, and the Polish £0.93. Male weavers are another example. The Yorkshire rate of wages is £2.30, tile French £1.25, and the German £1.60. For female winders the British rate is £1.42, the French £0.95, and the German £1.08. That makes a very considerable difference, and it is impossible for our manufacturers to sell their goods in competition with similar products made abroad. There has been expressed a fear that the imposition of duties might have the effect of reducing, or in some way handicapping, our export trade. I do not think that is likely to happen as far as wool textiles are concerned. On the contrary, I believe the imposition of these duties, and the consequent safeguarding of the home market for the British manufacturer, will make it possible for him to sell in foreign markets on a larger scale than he can to-day. If you can keep your mills and factories up to full production, you are able to manufacture goods at a lower price than if you are only working part 1443 of the day or the week. The additional orders which will come to the manufacturers of wool textiles will mean that they will be placed in a more favourable position and they will, I am certain, be able to quote prices which will help them to get into markets which are and have been closed for some time.
One would also imagine, when we hear criticism of these duties, that the foreigner had not been trying to do business in all the neutral markets of the world and that, as the result of our keeping him out of this country, he would intensify his endeavours to sell goods, whether it be in South America, in the Far East or in any other country, and that consequently we shall lose as far as our exports are concerned. I know something about the export trade and I have visited a considerable number of countries where textiles are sold, not only just recently, but I have done so over a long number of years. I can say that for many years past, before and since the War, every foreign textile manufacturer was making every possible effort he could to sell his products in every market where those goods could be sold. They have done everything they possibly can, and there is nothing they can do at present to increase their trade. The goods that the British textile trade sells in foreign countries are of a particular type. To a large extent they are of a luxury type. In spite of very heavy duties, British textiles, which fortunately rank highest in the whole world, can be sold in markets such as the United States, where the duties range in many cases over 100 per cent. These goods are sold, not because the American buys a cloth which is cheaper than any-thing that can be bought in the United States. They themselves have a very efficient wool textile industry. The American buys them because he obtains something that he can get from no other place in the whole world except the United Kingdom. Our cloths present effects in colours and designs which the best dressed man or woman in the world will have, whatever the price may be. I do not think there is any need to fear any handicap upon the industry because these duties have been imposed. I am very glad the President of the Board of Trade was able to include wool textiles in his 1444 first order, because it certainly gives to an industry which has suffered for a very considerable time a real impetus and real encouragement for the future which, I hope, will lead to very much greater prosperity.
§ Mr. EDWARD WILLIAMS
Members on these benches would desire to concur with very much that the hon. Member has said. There is no desire on our part at any time to cast aspersions on the textile or any other industry in this country. But it would seem to me that this Order and the proposals that are being advanced by the Government contain a new kind of mercantilism, if I may coin a phrase, that we have to enter a new phase of political enocomy in which we all have to presume to be buyers but not sellers, and that we have to endeavour to place impediments in the way of sellers in other countries. That really is the object and the line of this Order. I should probably be out of order if I stressed the scheme of economy which applies not only in this country but internationally, but I may be forgiven for referring to it for a moment.
Sixty years ago we certainly held the markets of the world for textiles. At present, it is obvious to everyone that, not only is Britain losing markets in the world, but other nations are losing markets likewise, and the complaint that has been advanced by the hon. Member who has just spoken is the complaint that is being advanced by every other nation, and not only is the textile industry in this country suffering, but the textile industry of every other nation is suffering likewise. One could go through the whole of the ramifications of trade and see that they have to endeavour in every conceivable manner to find some kind of stimulant for trade, whether tariffs or subsidies. Some scheme of some kind is being adopted in every country in order to try to stimulate industry. Practically every country in the world is faced with an adverse balance of trade. They are endeavouring to restrict imports and to reduce by that means the purchasing capacity of the people to whom they have to sell their goods until the world generally is being impoverished. The purchasing capacity of the world is being substantially reduced year by year, and as the purchasing capacity of the world 1445 contracts, it sets up as between nations, just as it sets up within this country internecine competition for the available markets.
I could perhaps, though it would be rather long, stress what has taken place in the mining industry for the last ten years. Internecine competition has destroyed in South Wales in less than 18 months 86 concerns not affected at all by the foreigners, and the monopolies, trusts, cartels or combines, in order to save themselves, have been reducing the number of concerns so as to eliminate internal competition. The same thing obtains internationally. The reason why we oppose this Order and such like orders is that it is really not tackling the cause of the problem. The Government might well, within the confines of this economic system, face up very speedily to the question of dealing with the exchange problem. I am not advancing any criticism against the economics of the system, but out of the confines of this economic system they might well and speedily face up to the question of exchange. They have to purchase sterling at a fairly substantial price.
I find in looking through this Paper that we have to restrict the abnormal importation of goods coming in from Germany. Within the next month or two Germany is expected to pay to Britain the sum of £70,000,000. It would seem at the moment that she is faced with default. That may mean to her complete collapse, just as in May Austria was faced with complete collapse, and the sterilisation of German credit. If she defaults it will mean liquidation to her, and the heart of Europe will at once be substantially depressed. We shall expect to receive interest upon the enormous sums which we have advanced to her during the last ten years—I am dealing with round figures—amounting to about £1,000,000,000, and not merely interest but compound interest upon that and upon Reparations. She must have some means by which to pay it. How can she hope, if she is unable to dispose of her goods, and if she is restricted so far as America is concerned —it does not so much apply to France—from disposing of her goods or her services, to obtain sufficient revenue to meet her current obligations which are now falling due?
1446 How is it possible for us to improve our balance of trade while exchange is left just as it is, vacillating from one point to another? How is it possible for us to rectify this problem by dealing merely with the odds and ends of industry? A good case can be put up by persons representing the textile industry to keep out perhaps this, that and the other form of fabric, but immediately you commence to talk about a given kind of fabric someone representing another kind of industry will say: "We are also up against adverse competition." We go through the process stage by stage and reach a point where other nationalities are considering precisely the same problem along the same lines.
Then we have to think of disposing of our coal. Sixty-three per cent. of our trade in South Wales is export. We possess the highest smelting fuel in the world. You have 26,000,000 tons of coal going to France, Belgium and Italy -as Reparations from Germany. Germany has to obtain wages by some means to pay for the coal that is produced for nothing. How can she obtain those wages? By borrowing. She has been borrowing to pay those wages. She has been dumping goods into this country in order to obtain those wages. So you have to face up to the problem of Reparations. You cannot hope to have Reparation payments, and France, Italy and Belgium cannot hope to have coal for nothing, while Germany is expected to maintain a certain subsistence level for the workmen who are producing the coal. She has to dump. Steel bars may arise, all sorts of commodities may arise, but she must dump those things in order to obtain some subsistence for the persons producing coal for nothing. That is apart entirely from her borrowings from this country and the United States and the obligations that she is expected to meet, not in kind, but in cash, and which she has never been able to meet.
Therefore, we can go along from industry to industry. We could start a kind of carpet bagging, taking the coal trade, the textile trade and the iron and steel trade, taking industry by industry, and say: "We shall prohibit those things coming in." The first question you would have cause to ask yourselves would be how you would be able to dispose of your finished products in the 1447 export market if every nation were doing likewise. The nations that have been doing likewise are in a worse plight than we are. America is faced with a greater adverse balance and a greater budgetary deficit than we are, running into £400,000,000. You have to face the same thing in France. France, with her accumulation of gold, is being surfeited by gold. During the last few years she has been faced with an unemployment problem which she had never had before.
Therefore, in looking over this problem in that very general way we cannot see how it is possible to improve, first, the purchasing capacity of this country, and, secondly, the purchasing capacity of the world, and that is what we have to face up to. It may partly be amended by dealing with the exchange problem internationally, but it can only be substantially amended by tackling the wages of the working people throughout the world. May I put it to the House that at bottom, taking industry in general and not one industry in particular, and bringing it under a careful analysis, one would have to face the fact that nine-tenths, if not 99 per cent., of the effective markets for goods in the world depends upon the purchasing capacity of the common people. That is the only effective market for goods. That market or that phase of the market is not being tackled in a constructive way. That market, by the attitude of the employers and the attitude of the present Government, is being endangered. [An HON. MEMBER: "What did the last Government do?"] It cannot be said that that is an offence of the last Government. The reason why so many hon. Members representing Tory interests, or the principles of the Conservative party, were returned at the Election is because the late Government did one thing which I consider will stand as their greatest monument, and that was that they did not reduce unemployment benefit. By not reducing unemployment benefit—
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I am sorry that I was drawn away. Whilst the world's purchasing power is contracting, we 1448 cannot hope to rectify our balance of trade by imposing Orders of this kind upon importers. To me it is bordering on sheer madness. If any hon. Member would for a few moments take himself out of his interests, out of his connection with some industry or firm, and endeavour to visualise this problem as it applies internationally, I think he would at once confess that it is sheer madness to impose these Orders. The world is glutted with goods and every speech that we hear from the Government benches is concerned with how we are to dispose of the goods. [Interruption.] I am speaking of world goods. We could easily dispose of British goods if there was a contraction in the other markets. The reason why we have these foreign goods coming here is because there is a surplus beyond the immediate requirements in other nations.
There is a surplus beyond the requirements of every nation in the world and at the same time there is a purchasing capacity which is going down by scores of millions of pounds per week. There was a fall of £670,000,000 last year in the wages bill in this country, and a fall of £700,000,000 last year in the wages bill of the United States. The effective market of each of the nationals is being destroyed by this process, although there is a surplus of goods upon the world's market and each competitor is endeavouring to snatch an advantage by any means that he can, whether by tariffs, safeguarding, de-rating or any other method. Each national, through his Government, is seeking to put stilts under wobbling industries. The pound is dropping. At the moment it gives us a substantial advantage in the export market, but if it drops much lower it will have the converse effect. The fall in the pound has accomplished more than this Order could ever hope to accomplish. It means that from 45 to 50 per cent. is put upon the goods that are coming in by the fall in the pound, and at the same time we have an advantage on the export side over foreign competitors of from 25 to 30 per cent.; probably more than 30 per cent.
The only reason for this Order is that it is advanced as a palliative to satisfy the avariciousness of persons who are representing not the nation nor their constituencies, but their own particular 1449 trade interest. Labour Members get the same letters as other hon. Members. We receive letters from Chambers of Commerce, and we see the resolutions that have been passed. We can see that they are trying to placate this person or that person or that party. Our answer is, that you cannot hope to dispose of your goods against the lower wage levels in other countries unless you bring down wages here. You dare not declare that as a matter of policy in this House, and yet it is your policy. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member makes his own difficulties. He is going far beyond the Question before the House.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I am sorry. In dealing with these specific items we can see how repercussion takes place. I hope that I shall be in order in referring to what is happening in relation to the coal trade, arising from this Order. France has placed a sur-tax of 15 per cent, on, roughly, 1,000,000 tons of coal, which concerns 9,000 men. It affects mainly men employed normally in South Wales. They will lose purchasing capacity. Is it expected that the persons who are affected by these retaliatory methods will be able to buy goods produced by France? Is it conceived that the persons who are affected by these retaliatory methods will be able to buy the increased number of goods made by the people in this country arising from these restrictions under the Abnormal Importations Bill? Certainly not. What has been the effect on the coal trade during the last few weeks?
I have in mind a colliery in which 1,000 men are employed. It is not connected with any combine. It has struggled for years. I have had to deal with the workmen's condition in that mine for the last 13 or 14 years. The whole of the mining community in that district depend upon that mine. I am concerned that that colliery should continue to work, that those people should not have their livelihood destroyed and that the whole community should not he ruined. During the last fortnight I have been told that they cannot hope to carry on owing to the raising of licence fee—the surtax which has been placed upon the firm by the French Government. They blame this Order. Of course, any foreigner is prepared to blame anything 1450 for his own advantage. There may be some substance in what they say, or there may not. We oppose the Order on the grounds that it is bound to produce repercussions, because our competitors will retaliate, that it is not facing up to the effective purchasing capacity on the world's markets, that it is not facing up to the problem of the exchange and that it is not facing up to the problem of reparations. For these reasons we oppose the Order, and we would like hon. Members, regardless of their political predilections, to realise that if this madness goes much further it will spell ruin. Hon. Members opposite are trying to prop up their own system. They believe in the present system of political economy. They believe that competition is a good thing and is profitable, but when it is not profitable they are not prepared to face up to the consequences.
We oppose this Order on the ground that it does not really tackle the problem. My hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell) put one serious feature before the President of the Board of Trade. In some of these cases the quantities of goods at present in this country are sufficient to last for the next eight or nine months and, therefore, this Order will be somewhat ineffective in the sense that it has not prevented dumping and certainly has not prevented forestalling. The last time I spoke on this subject I read a quotation from "The Times" on the question of forestalling. The reason why we are faced with forestalling is because we are faced with a fall in the £. On the last occasion I read a statement by the London Chamber of Commerce indicating precisely what would occur unless certain methods were adopted and I should like to reinforce the argument I then put forward by reading what some eminent foreign correspondents have to say on this matter. For instance, the foreign correspondent of the "Financial Times" writing with regard to Germany on the 29th November, said:The German Government has approached the British Government through the German Ambassador in London with a view to a friendly discussion on the new situation created in the German export trade by the British anti-dumping tariff restrictions. The new British duties are stated to affect 30 per cent. of Germany's total exports to England.1451 Hon. Members will note that Germany is our debtor—In the case of certain groups of exports the percentage affected is even higher, as, for instance, 86 per cent. of the exports of stockings and woollen goods and 60 per cent. in earthenware.I have further a letter from a correspondent in Belgium who says:The industries chiefly affected include the woollen, silk, ceramic and glass trades. Great anxiety is being felt in Belgium and a series of conferences have been held at Brussels between the heads of industries and high State officials.I could also mention the case of America and Holland and Italy. The Paris correspondent of the "Economist" on the 28th November, 1931, said:The new British fiscal measure imposing Customs duties of an additional 50 per cent. on foreign imports has been received with consternation by the French industrial and commercial world."—[Interruption.]These are the people with whom you expect to do trade. We have to sell coal to them. I do not know why we should get into a state of national hysteria. This correspondent says that these Measures have been—received with consternation by the French industrial and commercial world, and has relegated the whole question of German reparations and other foreign debts anxieties entirely into the background. Analysis of the incidence of the British protectionist plan, as so far developed, reveals that France will be harder hit by the new British duties than any other country, owing to the special nature of the majority of her principal categories of exports. The Minister for Commerce, M. Louis Rollin, declares that, in the case of many peculiarly French products, such as silk stockings and similar goods, which already have to bear a British import tax of 35 per cent., the new duties will raise the total impost payable to 85 per cent, ad valorem, which the Minister insists is a prohibitive rate.1.0 p.m.
Let me take the foreign correspondent of the "Statist" [An HON. MEMBER: "All foreigners!"] These people are foreign correspondents of eminent papers in this country, and they are commenting upon the retaliatory methods which must be adopted by these countries. This policy must ultimately lead to international trade rivalry and to a lack of international concord, and if it proceeds at an accelerated pace it might ultimately lead to a catastrophe, because war is certainly 1452 not detached from trade. If that should be the case we should have to face again the payment of reparations and all the aftermath and the horrible consequences which follow war.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MAYHEW
May I remind the hon. Member that when the war came we were a Free Trade country.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The hon. and gallant Member has forgotten that Germany, who it is said started the War, was not a Free Trade country. The War, it is said, was caused by the Kaiser; therefore, if we accept the hon. and gallant Member's argument, the War was caused by Protection. In all Protectionist countries wages are low and the purchasing power of the people less than they are in this country. We are expected to compete with them; it cannot be done. The effect of these duties will be to reduce the subsistence level of the people, because these extra duties will have to be paid ultimately by the consumer. We oppose the Order and the principle upon which it is founded because it does not tackle the problem of world trade and economy.
§ Mr. ENTWISTLE
The hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. E. J. Williams) has said that every country in the world has an adverse balance of trade, and he instanced the United States of America which is facing an adverse deficit on her domestic budget—
§ Mr. ENTWISTLE
If the hon. Member meant that it makes a great deal of difference. One country can have an adverse balance of trade but every country in the world cannot have an adverse balance of trade simultaneously, that is quite clear. I want to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade on the excellent speech he gave and particularly for the succinct way in which he dealt with the fallacies of Free Trade as applied to the facts of the present situation. It is perfectly true, as he said, that the Amendment is self-contradictory in its different parts. It quarrels with the Orders in one place because they do nothing to redress the balance of trade, and in another part it quarrels with them for not enabling the full exchange of goods to operate in a 1453 normal way. It is because there is not this exchange that we have an adverse balance of trade and that the situation has to be dealt with in the way that the hon. Member said.
It is all very well saying that if you do anything, however abnormal the situation, to restrict the imports, you are going to have a corresponding bad effect on our export trade. How then is it that our export trade has been diminishing for years, out of all proportion to any corresponding diminution in our imports? How is it that we have an adverse balance to-day, when we had a favourable balance of more than £180,000,000 before the War and of well over £100,000,000 in many of our postwar years? How is it, if any restriction of imports is going immediately to have a corresponding effect on our export trade, that this is a continuing thing, and that our exports, which are mainly manufactured goods, are to-day actually less than the total of manufactured goods being imported, excluding entirely food and raw materials? Surely the position to-day is that we must restrict our imports of those categories which we are fully able to manufacture ourselves in this country. We cannot go on losing our export trade and at the same time allowing our home markets to be flooded with foreign goods in our stable industries, in manufactured goods, on which we have built up our prosperity. That is the underlying principle of these Orders.
I want to leave the general question and to ask the President of the Board of Trade to define rather more clearly than he has hitherto done the principles which are guiding him in the application of this Act. I know that when the Bill was going through the House, the right hon. Gentleman, as I think very wisely, refused to tie himself down to any narrow definition of what "abnormal" meant. He asked for a free hand, which the House was very ready to grant him. He was not unduly pressed, to give a definition of "abnormal." By that I hoped, and I think most hon. Members hoped, that he would give a very broad and liberal construction to the word "abnormal," and apply these restrictions of imports wherever it was quite clear on the facts, without a close scientific investigation, that no damage would be done to the 1454 general interests of this country. We hoped that that would be the principle that would guide him. I do not want to criticise the right hon. Gentleman at this stage, because he has had very little time to bring out the Orders hitherto, and we must congratulate him on the speed with which he has produced these two Orders, and also on the remarkably efficient effect the Orders have had, judging by the figures which the Parliamentary Secretary has given us. But I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman not to be restricted in the definition of the word "abnormal" by the considerations which apparently have applied in the selection of the duties contained in these two Orders, judging from the table of statistics which has been issued with the two Orders.
It seems to me that there has been a tendency, in discussing which articles should be taxed, to pay too much attention to recent statistics, by taking merely the statistics for the month of November or October and comparing them with a corresponding month of the previous year or even of 1929 or 1928. That would be merely giving the protection of this Act to industries which, probably through quite fortuitous circumstances, happen to have the abnormal importations during the last month or two. Moreover I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman not to try to limit the Act merely to what has been called forestalling, because obviously if the Act is to prevent forestalling and if you are not to know whether there is forestalling until it has taken place, it is a very poor remedy to close the stable door after the horse has gone.
The Parliamentary Secretary has told us, as if that was a point in its favour, that in respect of most of the articles included in these Orders there are imports which are sufficient to satisfy the demands of the home market for six or seven or nine months. That is a thing which one wants to avoid when dealing with a situation where you have had an adverse trade balance for several months past. One must try to anticipate forestalling rather than wait until the forestalling has taken place. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman not to be hidebound by statistics merely of one or two months, or merely by comparisons with 1455 the last year or the last two or three years. If during the post-War period there has been a steady increase in the importation of goods in an industry particularly well able to manufacture those goods in the home market, or a, well-established large industry whose efficiency cannot be in any way questioned, I submit that that satisfies the main remedy for "abnormal," and is a case in which protection would be far more in the interests of the country as a whole than some of the duties relating to industries which happen incidentally to have had abnormal importations during the last month or two.
Surely the test that the right hon. Gentleman ought to apply is whether there has been an obvious increase during the post-War years, whether there is a home industry well able to look after the market, and whether there are no using industries whose interests will involve a long or close investigation to arrive at the possible repercussions or reactions in those using industries, and where there are either no using industries—there are any number of categories of goods which up to the moment have escaped his eyes—or where what there are are in unanimous agreement as to a tariff on the goods which they themselves use in their using industries. In such case the right hon. Gentleman should have no hesitation in applying this Act to those categories of goods. The test of abnormality must on the whole apply almost to any of the articles in Class III covered by the Abnormal Importations Act, because the figures of the imports in Class III as a whole have, I think, increased progressively during the post-War years right up to the present year. So that if you look at this Act in a broad aspect, there is no difficulty in applying the duty in any case where there is no using industry which either produces or in any way will be damaged, and where there is a home industry fully capable of looking after the home market. Having laid down what I submit should be the principles of applying this Act, I would draw attention to a particular instance which, in my opinion, amply fulfils those principles, and that is the cotton industry. The cotton industry is a very large industry—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain Bourne)
I do not know whether the hon. Member was present or not when Mr. Speaker gave a Ruling at the beginning of this Debate. I must point out to him that Mr. Speaker then laid it down clearly that it would not be in order in this Debate to go into details on anything which is not included in the Orders.
§ Mr. ENTWISTLE
I did not propose to go into the subject in any detail. I was dealing with the general principles of these Orders and of the Act, and I was merely going to say that the cotton industry came within those principles, and that there were abnormal importations in various categories of cotton manufactures. I simply appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to give the figures in that connection his most careful consideration. The only other point with which I wish to deal is the question of the drawback referred to by the Parliamentary Secretary and by the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris). Section 5 of the Act which deals with the question of drawback provides:Subject to compliance with such conditions as to the security for the re-exportation of the articles as the Commissioners of Customs and Excise may impose, this Act shall not apply to articles imported for exportation after transit through the United Kingdom or by way of transshipment.When I read that provision while the Measure was going through the House, I thought it meant that there would be a drawback on goods re-exported in accordance with the existing practice as regards, say, the Silk Duties or the duties under the Safeguarding Act. When my attention was drawn to the matter later, I made inquiries at the Board of Trade, and I find now that interpretation which is going to be placed on that Section of the Act is much narrower than the practice at present prevailing with regard to the duties on silk, or such duties under the Safeguarding Act as remain. There seems to me to be no case for not giving to our re-export industries the drawback which has been given in the past under the safeguarding and other duties. It is not a matter which affects the home manufacturer. It is surely advisable to keep up our entrepôt trade to its fullest extent. Those who want protection for home industries have always argued that there is not the slightest reason why the 1457 re-export trade should be damaged, because it can be protected under the system of drawbacks.
As I understand it, Section 5 is to be interpreted as meaning that the drawback cannot be obtained unless the goods, in the particular parcel in which they come into the country, go straight from bond, or in the course of transit and transhipment on to the re-export market. If a parcel is opened, if bulk is broken, if there is a reassortment of the goods, no drawback is obtainable. I ask that the same practice should be applied in the operation of this Act as that which has applied under previously existing duties. I cannot see any objection to it. I understand that the reason why this Section has not perhaps been framed as widely as the regulations under the previously existing duties is because the Act is temporary, but the mere fact that it is temporary, if there is administrative machinery in being, ought not to prevent that machinery being applied. Our trade balance cannot be affected by allowing goods to come in which are about to go out again, and our home industries which need protection under this Act cannot be affected.
In these circumstances, I do not know whether an amendment of the Act would be necessary in order to apply the existing practice to the duties under this Act. If so, I ask the right hon. Gentleman if such amendment could not be made at some convenient time. But I fancy that the words of the Section are wide enough to cover the case, even of bulk being broken, if the right hon. Gentleman were minded so to direct. The words "transit through the United Kingdom" are pretty wide, and it seems to me that goods could be said to be "in transit" even though part of those goods were left at home and part re-exported. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will see whether the existing practice cannot be applied to the duties under this Act. I am sorry that I cannot go into details as to goods which are excluded and which ought to be brought within the scope of these Orders. Many articles remain which ought to be included. We know that the right hon. Gentleman is busy on these matters. We hope that he will be as speedy as possible in applying this Act to the many categories of goods, affecting 1458 our large staple industries, to which it ought to be applied at the earliest possible moment.
Mr. E. J. YOUNG
I hope that this is not an inappropriate moment for me to rise to make my first speech in this House. It happens that the topic under discussion is one in which I have taken an interest during the whole of my life. In discussions on this question hon. Members of the Opposition seem to assume that they are the sole custodians of the Free Trade case, that we Liberals are to be regarded as wanderers from the Free Trade fold, and that we are no longer to be counted among the supporters of that particular fiscal theory. That is not true. We are as firm in our Free Trade convictions as we have always been. Free Trade is a part of Liberal philosophy, and Liberalism would not be Liberalism if we dropped our Free Trade views altogether. But it is quite possible in the special circumstances of the day for us to fall into line with the President of the Board of Trade and the Government on these particular proposals, and to subjugate our principles until this crisis has passed. We have been told ever since the Election that we must have special measures to meet a special contingency, but the general tenor of the Debates in this House suggests that Conservative Members have not got it into their minds that these temporary measures will come to an end when the crisis has passed. The whole discussion has been based on the assumption that we are now entering on a Protectionist regime, which is going to form part of the permanent fiscal policy of this country. If that be so, many of us in the future will contest it.
I have listened to arguments from all parts of the House, and I have heard nothing different from the arguments which we heard on this subject nearly 25 years ago. The same theories are advanced; the same arguments are used against them. But there are several points on which some of us who represent important industrial constituencies wish for an answer before we can accept, with the enthusiasm of those with whom we are temporarily united, the new set of fiscal proposals now before the House. One or two Measures have been debated here—not fiscal Measures—during the 1459 last few days which undoubtedly will make the poorer part of our population poorer still. If we adopt this fiscal Measure on any large scale, it must inevitably raise the pries of commodities sold on the home market. There is no way in which that result can be avoided.
A cargo of goods comes here from abroad. When the ship enters the harbour the Customs official goes aboard, asks to see the bill of lading, and levies a tariff on the value of that bill of lading. When the goods are sold, to the wholesaler, that tax is passed on with the price. The goods usually pass through three or four sets of hands before they reach the consumer, and when they reach the consumer they are dearer than they would have been if that tax were not there. A great Member of this House, the late Earl of Balfour once said, and I repeat his words for the benefit of those who have never heard them, that the object of Protection was to encourage home industry; that the means by which it attained that object was the manipulation of the fiscal system to raise home prices, and that if home prices were not raised, industry was not encouraged. That, he said, in a nutshell was Protection, properly understood. I do not think it can be argued in these days, in the face of all the evidence that we have from other countries, that you can impose a tariff without increasing the prices—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I am very 10th to interrupt a maiden speech, but Mr. Speaker at the beginning of the Debate ruled that the question of a general tariff would not be in order.
I am sorry. The purpose of the Act is to restrict abnormal importations, and abnormal importations are usually described, by those who believe in Protection, as dumping. I believe that dumping is bad for the people in the countries from which the goods are dumped, because those people undoubtedly have to pay a higher price to enable the goods to be sold more cheaply in the country in which they are dumped. But dumping, bad as it may be, is not a phenomenon confined to those countries which pour their goods into this country. As a representative of a, great iron and 1460 steel town, I had an experience a few weeks ago which well illustrated that fact. I do not know whether we have in this House at present any hon. Members from the great Birmingham area, the home of Protection, but a big business man came to me in my constituency, very perturbed, because the local paper had pointed out that iron and steel were being dumped into Middlesbrough at a cost of 10s. a. ton cheaper than the price at which the Middlesbrough people could sell it. I commiserated with him, and then he pointed out that it was not being dumped from some foreign country, but from the Midland zone of this country into the Cleveland zone. The gentleman was not a Free Trader. He asked me the best thing to do, and I said, "To be logical, you should build toll-gates across your main road, set up a Customs house at the railway station, and make them pay a duty every time they come through." There is no possible escape from that proposition, and some of us who are living among people who are very poor because of the abnormal unemployment today, are distinctly uneasy as to the effects of these new tariffs on the standard of life.
Another question is raised here. Most, countries have a fiscal system devised in such a way that all sections of the sellers get a commensurate advantage, but so far as we understand the position here, it is a few people who will be benefited and a comparatively small Schedule which will be applied. What will happen to our people in the North of England, who are also faced with intense competition, but who so far are not promised any definite advantage to offset the advantage that these abnormal importers have? It has been mooted, it has been almost promised, outside this House, that, when this tariff system comes, everyone will have a full share, and we who are Free Traders by lifelong conviction and who represent industrial constituencies will say this: If there is to be a scramble for this advantage, we are coming into this scramble. If other people are to be authorised and legalised to charge us more for their goods than their goods are worth, we shall endeavour in the same 1461 way to get similar charges imposed upon them, so that we can have a share of the swag.
You cannot give Protection and confer special advantages upon one set of people to the exclusion of the rest. May I illustrate the danger by something that actually happened in this country in the spring of this year? Two by-elections took place, one in the West and one in the North of England, and within a month of each other. I believe the two gentlemen who won those elections are still hon. Members of this House. The first was an agricultural election, and one of the candidates went to the Farmers' Union to give his views. A farmer, the chairman of the Farmers' Union, asked, in the event of the return of his Government, at what figure the tariff would be fixed, and the candidate said he thought that a guaranteed price of 55s. a quarter would be given.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I am sorry again to have to interrupt the hon. Member, but he is getting very far from the Order that is before the House.
I was trying to give an illustration of the effect of the little tariff which we have now upon other constituencies. I simply wanted to know whether we who are Free Traders are making this little, and, we hope, temporary surrender of our principles because we are told by our leaders in the Government that such a sacrifice is necessary in order to help the nation, to restore the balance of trade, and in some mysterious way to restore the value of our currency—we want to know whether, if we support this at the present time, we shall in other constituencies have a similar advantage given to us. Would it not be better both for the House and for the country if we could have had the full value of the Protectionist proposals placed before us at once, so that we should know whether we are simply surrendering a little at the moment to get something more later on, or whether this will be the beginning and the end of this Protectionist movement and whether the promise that these things are for a temporary period only will be kept and implemented by the Government.
1462 As my last word—because I believe in short speeches—I would rather see the business men of this country assuming the rôle of the old merchant adventurers and once more venturing into the world to bring trade from foreign countries where trade is to be found. We do not like this idea of business men concealing themselves behind tariff walls, always clamouring for another brick to be laid on the top, always placing their feet on the heads of the poorest of the people in order to reach up to the top. We object to that very strongly. I noticed that an hon. Member who spoke very eloquently from the Opposition benches twitted the House—I think he meant the Conservatives, not the Liberals—and said, "You believe in competition." That is the one thing that Conservatives do not believe in. That is the one reason why they want tariffs, so that competition shall be excluded.
There is a tremendous similarity between the outlook, as far as trade affairs are concerned, of the Conservative party and hon. Members opposite, but we believe profoundly to-day that open and free competition will do more for the trade of this country than these present proposals. An hon. Gentleman opposite said that we were losing our export markets, but we are losing them because those who work out our costings have to include a burden of taxation twice as high as that on anyone else in the world, and we cannot stand up to it. We are losing contracts on a margin of one sixty-fourth of a penny a yard on cotton cloth, and upon iron and steel on a margin of one farthing a ton. It would have been better if we could have devised some method by which the overhead charges could be reduced than by the imposition of these tariffs, the end of which we cannot see.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I feel certain that the House will agree with me in congratulating the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Mr. E. J. Young) on his excellent maiden speech. I am sure he will contribute a great deal of information to our Debates, and we shall welcome any contribution that he may make to them in the future. I rise to say a word or two in favour of our Amendment, and unless I am mistaken, we shall have the hon. Member who 1463 spoke last with us in the Lobby to-day, and, I trust, all his Liberal friends as well. The Front Bench presents an astonishing spectacle this morning. Here we are imposing new tariffs in this country, and the only right hon. and hon. Gentlemen to be seen on the front Government Bench are Liberal Members of Parliament. There has been hardly a Conservative Member on that bench all day. I do not want to be offensive, but, really, I am inclined to say that the Liberal Members of the Government are nothing more or less than errand boys for the Tory party. They are doing the doubtful work of the tariffists better than the Tories could have done it themselves. That is the remarkable thing about men who turn somersaults in politics: they usually do the doubtful tasks of government.
There are one or two points I would put to the right hon. Gentleman quite sincerely. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade was very eloquent this morning, but, if I may say so, I did not like the contemptible way he treated his hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris), who, at one time, sat on the benches below the Gangway with the right hon. Gentleman when both treated all Protectionists' arguments with sheer contempt. The Parliamentary Secretary used the argument that these duties are imposed on abnormal quantities. He said that for the period ending 10th November, that is for 10 days, the quantities were abnormal, and consequently he imposed these duties because the quantities were rising rapidly. Does it not stand to reason that during the General Election all business men throughout Europe would come to the conclusion, as I did myself, that if the National Government got a predominating majority, it was certain to be a tariff Government. That was understood, and I am glad that the hon. Member for Bolton (Sir J. Haslam) agreed with me. We are both Lancashire Members, and may agree on some things, but not on tariffs.
Let me point out to the right hon. Gentleman the fallacy of the argument of the Parliamentary Secretary, because when we look at flannels and delaines, we find that in September the quantity 1464 imported was 8,949 square yards and in October, 4,279. If we had previous to this one a Government in this country not committed to tariffs, that would have been the tendency of the normal imports in those two commodities. I agree at once, that when we come to the period ending 10th November, the number rose to 9,860, but I am sure I am right in saying that that is because the foreign producer knew full well that tariffs were to be imposed in this country, and they were determined to export as much commodities into our ports as soon as they could. Consequently, I do not think that the argument of the Parliamentary Secretary holds good with regard to abnormalities for the first 10 days of November. Supposing the producers of commodities in this country, the Lancashire textile manufacturers, for instance, with the intelligence in business they possess, knew that France had returned a Tariffist Government in place of a Free Trade Government—
§ Mr. DAVIES
I am drawing a picture with my Welsh imagination. I may say without offence that we can draw such pictures if we are left alone. Supposing there had been a Free, Trade Government in France, and, as a result of a general election, 75 per cent. of the Members of the French Parliament were returned in favour of tariffs, and that Parliament could not impose new duties for a month from the date of the opening of the new Parliament. I venture to say that the manufacturers of Lancashire would naturally take every step they could to export their commodities immediately to France before the new tariffs were imposed. If that is a correct way of putting the case, as I think it is, the Parliamentary Secretary cannot get away with the argument he put before the House this morning.
Let me pass to another consideration. We have been told that these articles are coming into this country because they are produced under sweated conditions abroad. That is a stock argument in relation to some goods mentioned in this document. Strangely enough, however, the largest adverse balance in trade against us is as between us and the United States of America. I have 1465 studied the labour conditions in the United States on the spot in relation to the production of some of these very commodities, and the right hon. Gentleman may take it from me that the wages paid there in the production of some of these commodities are at least 75 per cent. higher than the wages paid in this country. Consequently, you cannot very well use the argument that because of low wages in the United States, these goods are being dumped at our ports. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will follow that argument.
Let me put another point to the right hon. Gentleman. I am not going to dwell unduly upon this document this morning, I am sorry the hon. Gentleman who spoke last is not now in his place. As, however, another ardent Free Trader is coming in—the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health—I will complete the story. Hon. Members this morning have pleaded that these Orders are to be enforced only for the time being—some of them for 12 months and others for six months. Powder-puffs and lipsticks, turnip-tops and drain-pipes and all the rest, are to have duties placed upon them only for the time being. The history of all these duties so far as this country is concerned is this: It took three years, over a century ago, to build tariff walls encircling this country, and it took a quarter of a century to abolish them. That will be the history of these duties also. Let us pursue that point. I have very seldom seen any Motion put on the Table of the House of Commons which was intended for 12 months, but which, before the 12 months elapsed, there was ample reason adduced to continue that Motion, sometimes in the Expiring Laws Bill at the end of the year.
Many hon. Members have been talking very glibly about imports from Poland. I wish the Parliamentary Secretary was in his place now, because I was astonished that he, above all people, who ought to have an international mind has recently developed instead a narrow nationalist outlook; but perhaps someone will convey this information to him. He, too, talked very glibly about Poland. I have been in Poland twice this year, and I may say that some of the items with which I am dealing now are included in this list. 1466 The case of Poland is quite a simple one. The population of Poland is 32,000,000 and the number of persons employed there, outside agriculture, is not more than 1,250,000. When the Polish peasant population has utilised the manufactured products of 1,250,000, there is not much left in the way of manufactured articles for export.
A firm in Lancashire has recently entered into a contract worth £300,000 with the Polish Government to instal an automatic telephone system throughout the country. I want to warn hon. Gentlemen that if they talk about prohibiting manufactured goods coming into this country from Poland under this Order, they had better look out for retaliatory measures. Hon. Members see only their own side of the tariff wall, and I am astonished to see the right hon. Gentleman sitting there and championing the most reactionary proposal that has been put before the House of Commons for some years past. There he is acting as the errand boy of the capitalist Tory party.
Let me put the case in detail as I saw it in Poland. The Tory party organisation rented shops and put some of these suits and overcoats in the windows to show that cheap sweated goods came from Poland. I have been in Warsaw twice this year, and also in Crakow, Lemberg and Kattowice, and I guarantee at a rough estimate that 25 per cent. of the goods in some of the boot and the outfitting shops in those cities were marked "Made in England." I do not know how far my figures are right, but I would not be a bit surprised that, if this country prohibited one pound worth of manufactured goods coming from Poland, the Polish people could easily prohibit ten times the amount going from this country to theirs. If we had the whole products of the manufacturers of Poland, it would merely be a drop in the bucket in the total trade of this country.
The right hon. Gentleman has already got into difficulties with some of his duties, and he knows it. I have here a copy of a letter from the London Employers' Association which shows how some of the duties work. This tariff business cannot operate unless you keep a very watchful eye on the machinery in every detail. What has happened? The 1467 right hon. Gentleman has already imposed a tariff on what is commonly called Bradford cloth, which is manufactured in France so I am told just like Caerphilly cheese is made abroad. The right hon. Gentleman has prohibited this cloth coming into this country except under a duty. He has also prohibited men's suits of the same stuff, but he has apparently forgotten that women also wear suits made of this cloth. The result is that it is quite possible for women's garments made of that same cloth to come into this country while men's suits are excluded. I am informed authoritatively that already ladies' tailors in London are being dismissed from their jobs because of the lack of finality in the imposition of this particular duty. What are the Liberal party doing about it all? There are four Liberals on the Front Bench advocating the Tory tariff policy and not a single Tory supporting them.
I have the honour to represent part of Lancashire a county which looms very largely in these discussions. I have to be careful what I say about it, because I see here two hon. Members who represent constituencies not quite so intelligent as mine, which surround mine.
When hon. Gentlemen complain that textile goods are coming into this country and destroying our export trade from Lancashire, they must not forget that they cannot have it both ways. The textile machinery manufacturers in Lancashire have always done well because they have exported their machinery products to China and India to manufacture the same textile commodities that we used to make in Lancashire and export to those very countries. You cannot manufacture the machinery for turning out textile goods, sell that machinery to foreign countries, and then expect to export the same quantity of textile goods to those countries where Lancashire machinery is operating.
We are entitled, therefore, to oppose this Motion with every means in our power. I do not wish the right hon. Gentleman ill in spite of his political somersault and of his becoming the tool of the Tory party and the tariffists, but I am positive that he will some day see the error of his ways. Hon. Gentlemen who belong to the remnants of the Liberal party, who still have some faith in Free 1468 Trade principles, ought to vote with us in order to register their opposition to this downward tendency towards a fiscal system that will in the end destroy more trade in twelve months than we have been able to build up in the last twenty years.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
My hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) is always good natured, and there is no one in the House whose chaff we enjoy more than his, but when he wishes to involve us in a discussion on the general principles of Free Trade and Protection, he takes the House away from the business which is now before it. We are not dealing here with matters of very great general principle, but with some awkward facts in international relations and national finance which we cannot ignore if we are to do our duty. The hon. Gentleman is well aware of the fact, because of his wide experience of the Continent, that trade in and out of Continental countries depends not only upon what is done here, but upon the enterprise shown by their manufacturers, upon the facilities granted to their manufactures in cheap transit over their own lines, and in some cases in subsidies which are received by them. I do not know that my hon. Friend is one of those who should object to Government intervention, for the whole principle of his party is that of control by the State of industry in all its various branches.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Ownership or control—it does not make much difference. But the point I am making is that part of the troubles under which we labour is due to excessive interference of the State in industry. I am not really concerned with the illustrations which the hon. Gentleman found on the Continent and elsewhere of competition between British manufacturers and foreign manufacturers. We are not discussing to-day the whole merits of a general tariff and the principles upon which it is founded. We are dealing with emergency legislation in order that we may keep the field clear for future action if future action be necessary. In doing that we are bound to learn a great deal by experience, which is none the worse for either Government Departments, the House of Commons or individuals. I admit quite frankly that 1469 when we are dealing with these orders we find disclosed, in the course of the investigations which precede them and negotiations which often come afterwards, a great many facts which, while they are well known to those engaged in these industries, cannot be so well known either to Parliament or to the Department.
A case has been mentioned this afternoon by my hon. and learned Friend opposite, whom I do not now see in his place, with regard to a very important industry in one of our textile counties to which he thinks due consideration has not yet been given. I can assure him and his hon. Friends, after having had to make a survey with great rapidity during the last three weeks over the whole range of British industry, that it is only because of pressure of work if we have not been able to give that same detailed examination to their industry as to some others; but that does not mean that we are going to keep them waiting for ever. I cannot say beforehand what may appear in subsequent Orders. If I were to do so, it would very often defeat the whole object and effect of the Orders. That is why, on several occasions, I have had to ask the House to be a little patient with us. We are having a great deal of ground to cover, and very often, if I may say so without making any undue disclosure, we have to arrive at decisions before we can make them public. If we were to make public what our intentions were we should find that forestalling would go on merrily, probably with increased rapidity, and find that one of the objects of this legislation would be defeated.
Among the difficulties that have arisen has, of course, been trouble over some articles which are the raw materials of other industries. I can tell the House quite frankly that I have endeavoured, as far as I could to avoid interfering with the raw materials of other industries—it is essential that one should do so in taking a full survey of British industry and commerce—and it is not surprising that we have found again and again that the finished products of some industries were the raw materials of others. My hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) has a very old connection with the controversies on paper in this House. When 1470 the Safeguarding Duties were under discussion he was one of their most active opponents. He knows the details of that business very well, but I do not think that even he, pressing his views to the extreme, would say that any crisis has been created over the manufacture or import of grease-proof paper. I am informed that the making of grease-proof paper has been rapidly increased during the last fortnight. It is one of the things industry can adapt itself to with great rapidity. I feel much less squeamish, too, about interfering with the raw materials of the confectionery trade.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I am informed exactly the contrary, especially in the case of Bristol, where there has been a threatened shortage of supply.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I think it is more a threat in advance than anything else. I think my hon. Friend will discover, if my information is correct, that already grease-proof paper as good as any imported into this country is now being manufactured. Then there is the unfortunate trouble over paper bags. Some paper bag manufacturers have felt themselves hindered because the paper they use in the making of their bags is not to be allowed to come in free of duty. I think they have rather exaggerated their case. There is always a natural tendency to do that and I make no complaint.
§ 2.0 p.m.
§ Dr. SALTER
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in several instances a large number of workpeople have already been discharged in consequence of the export trade being destroyed?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
No, and if I thought it were true that a large number of people had been discharged because of paper appearing in the list I should take the earliest possible opportunity of dealing with the situation.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
No, not at present. What may be coming I cannot tell, but we have not yet received that information. The other technical subject raised by my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green was concerned with drawbacks; I think my hon. and 1471 learned Friend opposite also referred to it. The reason why we did not insert in our legislation provision for drawbacks was simply this: This is temporary legislation, it can remain in force only for six months, and it is not by any means clear that there is great trouble over this matter. This is really a matter of administration, there is no principle involved in it. We do not want to add to the costs of production in any industries exporting goods from this country, and the normal way of ensuring that under any general tariff is by the system of drawbacks; but as anybody knows who has looked into the method of drawbacks in other countries, there is scarcely any aspect of tariffs which is more complicated and gives rise to more trouble than measuring exactly what the drawbacks should be. It is a slow process. Indeed, one of the things which makes the construction of a tariff in Protectionist countries extend over years is that it takes them years to adjust their drawbacks—if there were no other consideration.
We could not, in a temporary measure, embark on the complicated machinery of drawbacks, and there was a simple way of dealing, I do not say adequately, but in large measure, with this problem. The transit and trans-shipment provisions of the law cannot in law be extended to cover goods which pass out of the Customs charge after their importation, but the goods can be deposited in bulk in bonded warehouses, and in these bonded warehouses reasonable latitude is allowed in the breaking-up of the contents of the packages for export purposes. That does not cover the whole of the ground, but it goes a very long way. If this legislation were to be continued we should, of course, be brought face to face with the problem of drawbacks in those industries which use foreign materials in order that they may win the foreign markets. At the present time I do not think it is necessary that we should attempt any amending legislation, but as time proceeds we can, of course, keep a close and critical eye upon that aspect of the problem.
May I say a word or two about the goods actually specified in the Orders? Again and again in the course of the discussion to-day hon. Members have drawn attention to the fact that some of 1472 these goods come from countries with which we have no adverse trade balance, and others, again, from countries with which we have an adverse balance. I do not know into which category the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell) would put the United States of America.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
In looking through the list of the articles which appear in these Orders I find again and again that the United States of America are large importers into this country of the articles named in the Orders.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Yes, but it is a remarkable fact that many of these goods which have been coming in before the imposition of these Orders actually have their origin in the United States of America. How then does the hon. Member claim that a country with which we have an adverse balance is not fully covered by these Orders—or covered to some extent by these Orders?
§ Mr. GRENFELL
I said that in some cases there was an adverse balance, but that there were other countries of origin which did not show an adverse balance.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
That really brings me to the point I am endeavouring to elucidate, and that is that we have included goods in these Orders without any consideration as to the country from which they came. The main fact was that they were coming here in very large quantities, far in excess of our recent experience; that we were having to provide abroad purchasing power for these goods; and that they were an increasing strain upon our purchasing capacity abroad; and we had to consider the world as a whole without any distinction of countries in order that we might reduce the volume of goods for which payment had to be found. We have taken the view that very many of these articles are not necessary for our domestic existence or for our comfort, and that we should not go on buying such articles just now. I was reminded earlier in the Debate of the difficulty of keeping luxuries out of this country, and that it 1473 was difficult to define what were luxuries. The only thing we can say in reply to that is that luxuries are articles which are not absolutely necessary for the wellbeing of our people, and surely such articles can be dispensed with in a time of strain. We have imposed these tariffs without any distinction of the countries affected.
I would like to end my remarks by drawing attention to the international aspect of our present policy. There has been a suggestion made from the other side of the House more than once that we are contributing something to international friction by this legislation. All I can say, in reply to that argument, is that I have seen no signs of it yet. The hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. E. Williams) in an eloquent speech just after lunch—[Laughter]—I understand that the Hon. Member is a strict teetotaller; I was referring to the time rather than to the manner of his oration—made a point in regard to the discriminatory duty imposed by the French against exports of coal, or exports from this country within the last fortnight or three weeks, and he actually attributed that action on the part of France to the policy which we are now discussing. I was rather surprised to hear the hon. Member make that suggestion, because I know that he is generally well-informed on these subjects. I have refreshed my memory about the French discriminatory duty, and I find that that decree was published on Saturday, 14th November, and I am informed that it had received official sanction before the 14th November. The earliest date on which this Government announced their policy in connection with these tariffs was on the 16th November. [Interruption.] If the French Government anticipated it, I can only say that when we announced our policy it took hon. Members opposite by surprise, and I think they were more surprised still when they found that I was the author of it.
With all due respect to our neighbours, let us see what is meant by the French decree. It is aimed against all exports from this country to France. We are not receiving the most-favoured-nation treatment, but, although there is no most-favoured-nation clause between this country and France, we have for nearly two generations received unbroken most- 1474 favoured-nation treatment from. France. We have drawn the attention of the French Government to these facts. The coal exporters of this country are the most severely hit by this decree, which imposes a penalty of as much as 3s. a ton discrimination against British coal, and our exporters have made representations to France. I would like to point out that there is no connection whatever between that decree and our orders, or the legislation which preceded them. Therefore, it is incorrect to say that our orders were brought about by the introduction of the French decree, because there is no connection between the two. Our necessities are entirely apart from any negotiations with France in regard to their discriminatory duty. We have seen the necessity of preventing forestalling, and, whatever may be the fiscal policy of 1932, it would be absurd for us to allow anything to proceed which would defeat the object which we have in view.
My next point is that the volume of the goods coming into this country was remarkable in the rapidity with which it had grown, and it appeared to be going on with increased velocity. That was something which we could not allow to pass without notice. Moreover, there was the question of foreign exchanges, and the strain upon sterling which we had in our minds. All those things made it necessary that we should take the steps which were sanctioned by Parliament a fortnight ago, and that has nothing whatever to do with the French decree, or with the French duties, nor is anything that we have done at any time capable of the interpretation of being aimed against any Power or country, or aimed at any particular trade. I think I have made it perfectly clear that we have maintained throughout the utmost impartiality with regard to the countries from which these goods come.
In the case of Germany, it was suggested by an hon. Member opposite that they had real cause for complaint. What we have done must of necessity inconvenience some German exporters, who find that the door is shut against them in this country. My point is that we have to consider the financial stability and the industrial prosperity of our own country. We must also remember the fact that Germany owes us large sums, and can only pay them by the delivery of goods. 1475 We had to arrange these matters in such a way as not to imperil the stability of the pound or the prosperity of our trade. What complaint could Germany have against us issuing these Orders when, as a matter of fact, the imports during October of the goods covered by No. 1 Order which were consigned from Germany amounted to less than £1,000,000? Let me point out that the imports into the United Kingdom consigned from Germany in 1930 were £65,470,000 whereas in 12 months to September, 1931, the amount was £58,476,000. Of the goods covered by the No. 2 Order the entire imports amounted during October to £720,000. So that, during the month when forestalling was going on merrily, the imports from Germany of goods into this country were actually far below anything that we had regarded as being of great importance in the international relationship between Germany and ourselves.
There are many German interests who will wish to know what is to be the end of our policy. I cannot tell them, any more than I can tell the House of Commons. I can only say that, if the necessity of the case requires it, we shall be bound to take steps to protect our own interests. We ask for no more than that. We think it is only fair that both at home and abroad that should be clearly understood. Indeed, I would wish in the most precise way to make it clear that the Orders made under this Act have been designed for the sole purpose of avoiding the prejudice to United Kingdom industries which results from abnormal importations of particular goods, and, in deciding what goods should be made the subject of an Order, we have taken no account of the particular country from which those goods are imported.
That, however, is not the end of the tale. Reference has been made several times this afternoon to the fact that we are being shut out by an increase of tariffs, by a larger circle, a network, of tariffs, from markets which formerly used to be ours. It may be that those tariffs are the result of retaliatory ideas on the Continent; I do not know; I do not attribute to their authors any special inspiration either from within or from with- 1476 out; but I do say this, that we have found almost every appeal made by us to the creators and builders of those tariff walls to have been in vain. I was myself a member of the World Economic Conference at Geneva. We passed a code of resolutions, agreed to by every country represented there, including some nonofficial representatives of the United States of America; but from that period onwards no official attempt has been made to comply with those resolutions, and we have found that every protest made by us against the raising of tariffs abroad has met with exactly the same reply that I make this afternoon—that the internal interests of the country must be the first consideration of the Government. Now we are finding that that method of persuasion is useless; we are making no progress. I wish it to be clearly understood abroad as well as at home that, if we are to be hit as we have recently been hit by the French decree, we cannot ignore the action that has been taken by them. I hope we shall, in the friendliest possible way, be able to adjust our differences, but a discrimination against this country is a thing which we look on with the greatest seriousness, and, were it to spread, it would be so damaging to British interests that we could not ignore the result.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
The speech of the right hon. Gentleman has been very interesting because of its entire difference from the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. I rather admire the Parliamentary Secretary, as one of the brightest intellects in this House, and I admired the way in which he was able to use, in order to get the applause of the House, the crudest and stupidest Protectionist arguments that I have ever heard from any platform. He did it as to the life. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman took a very different line. I want to deal with a specific point of great importance to traders in London, which I think neither of the hon. Gentlemen opposite has really looked into with the seriousness that it merits, namely, the question of the entrepot trade. The Parliamentary Secretary referred us to Section 5 of the Act, saying that that would deal with the entrepot trade, and that it would be all right. 1477 The real doctor in this case, the President of the Board of Trade, says to the patient, "It does not matter. I am going to deprive you of all oxygen; I am going to stop your heart, but it is only going to be for six months, and then it will be all right." That is really what is going to happen to a great deal of our entrepot trade.
The Parliamentary Secretary knows perfectly well that there is a difference between dealing with goods that are in bond in process of transhipment and the entrepot trade of the City of London, which has become the depot for the distribution of goods all over Europe and other parts of the world. That kind of work cannot be carried on in bond. Even the right hon. Gentleman suggested that there is to be a certain relaxation with regard to breaking goods in bond, but that does not apply in the slightest degree to this trade. Business men have built up a trade, let us say, in Oriental pottery, and they deal, not only with people here, but with people abroad who want to have genuine pottery and so forth from China and Japan. In the past, merchants in this country have imported these goods and have distributed them all over Europe. That kind of business is going to be discouraged. It is no good saying that theoretically it is all right, that it can be done in bond, or that, if people will only wait for six months, the crisis will be over. So will that trade be over. It is going to leave London. I have been told by a man in this trade that actually at this moment he is inquiring with regard to transferring his business to the Continent, to ports with free areas. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to make any part of the Port of London a free area, but these people are going on to the Continent, to Rotterdam, Antwerp, and so forth, and this country is going to lose that business. That will not only effect certain traders in the City of London, but it will affect our shipping, it will affect our Port of London, and it is actually happening at the present time.
It is quite arguable to say that you do not regard this particular business as of any importance, that you are going to put something in its place; but the right hon. Gentleman is not even going to tell these people whether they can 1478 carry on or not—he is going to leave them in a state of suspended animation for six months, and then he hopes to revive the trade again, if possible. Of course, it is impossible. I cannot see why the right hon. Gentleman cannot devise some proper system of rebates. I agree with him that the present system is extremely clumsy. It involves a great deal of time, and the employment of officials doing this, that and the other, but, unless he is prepared to abandon this trade, he should be able to devise some reasonable and sensible system so that we can keep the entrepot trade. Why not make some of our ports free ports for this purpose? Just to leave the matter aside and let it go seems to me to be a very curious way of trying to cure our economic evils. I think that the right hon. Gentleman ought to look into that specific point.
Then I do not think be has made nearly enough of the fact that many of the articles on this list, although they do not look like raw materials, are in fact the raw materials of our traders here. There is a whole lot of small glassware and so on which is imported for use in making belts and so forth. The right hon. Gentleman says that it will be made here. It may be made here in a few years' time, but anyone who tries to get anything in the way of glassware that is not usually made in this country will know how long he has to wait. In the meantime, the manufacturers who are producing the other parts of these articles are being deprived of their trade. I cannot see why the right hon. Gentleman cannot take a little more trouble, first of all in making his Orders, which are extremely loosely made, and, secondly, in devising proper administration, so that at all events, if he must do this work which he has been set to do by the Government, he may do it with as little damage as possible.
May I turn for a moment to the arguments of the Parliamentary Secretary. He went the whole tariff hog. I do not think that before he crossed the Floor he ever used such arguments. In effect, he says it would be an excellent thing for the country if we shut out all these imports. The logic of it was that every country should follow suit and do the same and that there should be as little 1479 international trade as possible. He was as crude as crude could be, but he got the cheers. He correctly gauged the mentality of his audience. What we find in these tariff Debates is that they consist of numbers of Members getting up and making demands for advantages for their particular industry. Sometimes it is quite crudely done—a crude request on the Order Paper—but at times you get a skilful Member, very often an ex-Liberal, like the hon. Member for Bolton (Mr. Entwistle), and he frames a beautiful argument, Which seems to be very abstract and very economic but ends up as a request for Protection for his own particular industry. I do not like this House being a place to which Members come with their hands out asking for advantage. I suggest that the right hon. Gentlemen might form a public assistance committee at which they should queue up.
We have not really had any reply from the right hon. Gentleman to the arguments put on this side. He was very careful to avoid them. First of all, we have the argument that this is absolutely necessary. You must stop these goods coming in right away because of our very delicate financial situation, in which the Parliamentary Secretary told us a mere matter of£100,000 might upset us. Then the right hon. Gentleman tells us it does not really matter, because we have imported enough of these goods for the next five months. It is a remarkable argument. Then he took great credit for the skill with which he shut the door after the horse had been gone some months ago—an amazing argument to put before the House. Then the right hon. Gentleman said this is all very temporary, but there is nothing temporary about the requests he gets from his followers. There is nothing temporary about their demands. Everything that is done here is intended by them to be permanent, and I should like to see what happens when he says, "The crisis has now passed, We can take off protection from this, that and the other industry." I do not think he will be allowed to get away with it in that way. As a matter of fact, this is a very unscientific way of framing a tariff. It is really a forestalment of the Budget which will be coming on sooner or later 1480 and not a Bill to prevent the forestalling of goods. It is a Bill to meet the antedated cheques which have been presented before Budget time by hon. Members who made large promises when they went to their constituents.
We say that these Measures are not really intended to meet the situation at all. They are emergency Measures to meet the political situation. Everyone knew, as soon as the results of the elections were declared, that we were in for the full tide of Protection. Our neighbours the French saw that even before. The right hon. Gentleman is very innocent in suggesting that it could be said that we followed the French. After all, the French made a pretty good noise in their newspapers when he made his famous speech about taxing luxuries. That was not directed against any country, but France, being particularly a luxury exporting country, not unnaturally took it to herself. If he read the French papers, he found that they saw perfectly well what was likely to happen, and they saw where the Liberal party was trending. They knew that the Liberal party had abandoned Free Trade, with one or two exceptions in North Wales, and, although they still kept their principles, they were going to bury them and join with the Protectionists.
The final argument put by the right hon. Gentleman is that the whole situation is very difficult—with which we agree—and that he is studying the international situation. But he has already departed from the line of the King's Speech, which expressed a desire for the greatest co-operation in trade, and his remarks were merely a threat that be was going to join in a tariff war unless the other people disarmed. That is all that it amounted to. We do not believe you are going to get out of your difficulties by a tariff war. We do not believe you are going to get any advantage to British trade by a tariff war, and you are certainly not going to save the very difficult industrial and economic situation throughout the world by this crude adventure into protectionism. Therefore, we have moved this Amendment to protest not only against the details of this Motion but against the whole spirit that underlies it. The paucity of argument on economic points 1481 put up by the right hon. Gentleman and the Parliamentary Secretary is really a measure of the fact that neither of them believes in the slightest in the principles Of protection. As a matter of fact, I believe the right hon. Gentleman to be too intellectually honest to support the crude Protectionist argument. He knows that this is not an economic Measure at
§ all. It is a political sop handed out under pressure to the supporters of the Government.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 230; Noes, 38.1483
|Division No. 31.]||AYES.||[2.33 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Everard, W. Lindsay||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Ferguson, Sir John||Meller, Richard James|
|Allen, Maj. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd, W)||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Mills, Sir Frederick|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Milne, John Sydney Wardlaw-|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Galbraith, James Francis Wallace||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)|
|Aske, Sir William Robert||Ganzoni, Sir John||Molson, A. Harold Elsdale|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Granville, Edgar||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Graves, Marjorie||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)|
|Beaumont, R. E. B. (Portsm'th, Centr'l)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Muirhead, Major A. J.|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Munro, Patrick|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Nall-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Hanley, Dennis A.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Blindell, James||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)|
|Borodale, Viscount||Hartington, Marquess of||Nunn, William|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hartland, George A.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Briant, Frank||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Peake, Captain Osbert|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Pearson, William G.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Hillman, Dr. George B.||Peat, Charles U.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Kills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Penny, Sir George|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Petherick, M.|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Horobin, Ian M.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)|
|Burghley, Lord||Howard, Tom Forrest||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Caine, G. H. Hall-||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Potter, John|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hurd, Percy A.||Raikes, Hector Victor Alpin|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Ramsden, E.|
|Chalmers, John Rutherford||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Rankin, Robert|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Birm., W)||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Chotzner, Alfred James||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Clarke, Frank||Knebworth, Viscount||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Knight, Holford||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Knox, Sir Alfred||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Leckie, J. A.||Robinson, John Roland|
|Cooke, James D.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Copeland, Ida||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Levy, Thomas||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Llewellin, Major John J.||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Cross, R. H.||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Crossley, A. C.||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Curry, A. C.||Lymington, Viscount||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Denville, Alfred||McEwen, J. H. F.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Dickie, John P.||McLean, Major Alan||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Donner, P. W.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Dower, Captain A. V. G.||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Scone, Lord|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Maitland, Adam||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Ednam, Viscount||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unv., Belfast)|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Ellis, Robert Geoffrey||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Elmley, Viscount||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Entwistle, Major Cyril Fullard||Marjoribanks, Edward||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Soper, Richard|
|Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Stones, James||Touche, Gordon Cosmo||Womersley, Walter James|
|Storey, Samuel||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Wood, Major M. McKenzie (Banff)|
|Stourton, Hon. John J.||Turton, Robert Hugh||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Strickland, Captain W. F.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Weymouth, Viscount||Lord Erskine and Mr. Harcourt Johnstone.|
|Sutcliffe, Harold||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Price, Gabriel|
|Batey, Joseph||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Jenkins, Sir William||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||John, William||Thorne, William James|
|Buchanan, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Cove, William G.||Leonard, William||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Daggar, George||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lunn, William||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Duncan, Charles (Derby, Claycross)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Edwards, Charles||Maxton, James||Mr. Groves and Mr. Gordon Macdonald.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Milner, Major James|
§ Main Question put.1484
§ The House divided: Ayes, 234; Noes, 37.1485
|Division No. 32.]||AYES.||[2.43 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootie)||Howard, Tom Forrest|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Cross, R. H.||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.|
|Allen, Maj. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd. W)||Crossley, A. C.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Curry, A. C.||Hume, Sir George Hopwood|
|Aske, Sir William Robert||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Denville, Alfred||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Dickie, John P.||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)|
|Balniel, Lord||Donner, P. W.||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Doran, Edward||Kerr, Hamilton W.|
|Beaumont, R. E. B. (Portsm'th, Centr'l)||Dower, Captain A. V. G.||Kirkpatrick, William M.|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Duckworth, George A. V.||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Duggan, Hubert John||Knebworth, Viscount|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Knight, Holford|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Ednam, Viscount||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Blindell, James||Ellis, Robert Geoffrey||Leckie, J. A.|
|Borodale, Viscount||Elmley, Viscount||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Entwistle, Major Cyril Fullard||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Levy, Thomas|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Lindsay, Noel Ker|
|Briant, Frank||Ferguson, Sir John||Llewellin, Major John J.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Lloyd, Geoffrey|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Loder, Captain J. de Vere|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Galbraith, James Francis Wallace||Lovat.-Fraser, James Alexander|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Ganzoni, Sir John||Lymington, Viscount|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Burghley, Lord||Granville, Edgar||McEwen, J. H. F.|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||McLean, Major Alan|
|Caine, G. R. Hall-||Graves, Marjorie||McLean, Dr. w. H. (Tradeston)|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Macmillan, Maurice Harold|
|Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)||Grimston, R. V.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Maitland, Adam|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Chalmers, John Rutherford||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Malialieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Hanley, Dennis A.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Chotzner, Alfred James||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.|
|Clarke, Frank||Hartington, Marquess of||Marjoribanks, Edward|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hartland, George A.||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Meller, Richard James|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Mills, Sir Frederick|
|Cooke, James D.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Milne, John Sydney Wardlaw-|
|Copeland, Ida||Hillman, Dr. George B.||Molson, A. Harold Elsdale|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Hore-Bellsha, Leslie||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Horobin, Ian M.||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Han. Sir Arthur|
|Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Stones, James|
|Morrison, William Shephard||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Storey, Samuel|
|Muirhead, Major A. J.||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Munro, Patrick||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Nall-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.||Robinson, John Roland||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Ropner, Colonel L.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Ross, Ronald D.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Nunn, William||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (Pd'gt'n, S.)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Palmer, Francis Noel||Runge, Norah Cecil||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Patrick, Colin M.||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Peake, Captain Osbert||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Pearson, William G.||Russell, Hamer Field (Shef'ld, B'tside)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Peat, Charles U.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Penny, Sir George||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Petherick, M.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Pike, Cecil F.||Scone, Lord||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Potter, John||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Procter, Major Henry Adam||Simon, Rt. Hon, Sir John||Womersley, Walter James|
|Raikes, Hector Victor Alpin||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unv., Belfast)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Smithers, Waldron||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Ramsden, E.||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Rankin, Robert||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Rea, Walter Russell||Soper, Richard||Lord Erskine and Mr. Harcourt Johnstone.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Price, Gabriel|
|Batey, Joseph||Jenkins, Sir William||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||John, William||Thorne, William James|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Buchanan, George||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. Georgo||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Leonard, William||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Cove, William G.||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lunn, William||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Daggar, George||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||McEntee, Valentine L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Mr. Groves and Mr. Duncan Graham.|
|Edwards, Charles||Maxton, James|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Milner, Major James|
That the Order, dated 20th November, 1931, made by the Board of Trade under the Abnormal Importations (Customs Duties) Act, 1931, a copy of which was presented to this House on the 23rd day of November, 1931, be approved.
§ to this House on the 1st day of December, 1931, be approved,"—[Mr. Hore-Belisha.]
§ The Orders of the Day were read, and postponed.
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3.
§ Adjourned at Eight Minutes before Three o'Clock until Monday next, 7th December.