§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I beg to move, in page 5, to leave out lines 2 to 5.
I will endeavour to give the reasons as clearly as I can why the Labour party is attacking the Schedule point by point. We have been able to-day to draw from the Minister some information that we failed to get earlier. But there are one or two points still not clear, and I want the right hon. Gentleman to tell the House what is likely to happen with regard to some of these fresh fruits. Take cherries, to commence with. The policy of the right hon. Gentleman and his Government is the old adage, "Buy your own cherries." That would have been all right if there were cherries to buy, but as there are no cherries to buy on occasions, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to enlighten the Committee on a point particularly important to those persons who live in the North of England. I am assured that the whole crop of cherries is to be found in this country in the South of England only. The point put to me by persons who, I think, may rightly claim to know as much about it as the right hon. Gentleman himself, is this: If we are to prohibit all imports of cherries, and confine ourselves to the crop in the South of England only, there will not be sufficient cherries to supply more than the require- 1766 ments of London and the surrounding parts, with the result,, I am assured on authority, that in effect the people of Lancashire and Yorkshire will never see a cherry again unless they pay a visit to London. That is taken by some hon. Gentlemen as very humorous, but it is really a very serious point.
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether this point made by some of the merchants in regard to cherries does not hold good? I have information about the home crop from one of the best books of statistics on agriculture that I have ever seen. Incidentally, this book is produced by a Tory organisation, otherwise the Central Chamber of Agriculture. It should not be a Tory organisation I know, but that is what it actually is. Liberal Members, I feel sure, will vote for my Amendment, especially after the speech made last night in another place giving them warning against the pace that the Government are travelling towards Protection. The whole home crop of cherries in 1929 was 296,000 cwts. The imports in 1929 were 143,000 cwts. The imports in 1930 had fallen to 60,000 cwts. I should imagine, at a rough guess, that all the cherries imported and growing in this land will hardly supply more than one cherry each for every member of the community. I have not gone into decimal points about it, but I want to press that point.
The day will come, in spite of the fact that we are a small number on this side of the House when the right hon. Gentleman will be compelled to take notice of what we are saying even on an issue like this. But that day is not yet. It will come, though I am not sure that the onslaught on the Government will be from this side. It will be from among themselves. Disintegration is beginning to take place already among the Government, and some day they will fall like a pack of cards. Let me pass on to currants. This book, although a very remarkable booklet, does not give us anything at all about blackcurrants, the amount imported and the crop in our own land. There are figures which tell us what the home crop was in 1929. It is unfortunate they do not say the colour, because I am sure the colour weighs enormously with the right hon. Gentleman; if it were red it would be very revolutionary. The 1767 home crop of currants in that year was 328,000 cwts., and the imports for the same year 141,000 cwts. I see that I was wrong in saying that the information I desired was not in the book. It is here, and I am very glad. Last night the right hon. Gentleman touched upon the canning industry. I was bred and born in a part of the world where they turn out tin-sheets and send them to America for the purpose of canning Californian fruit. A great deal of progress has been made since then and in Llanelly, South Wales, a good number of people are employed to produce these tin-sheets. The right hon. Gentleman, although he paid a little tribute to the canning industry and wants it to flourish, said he rather inclined to the view that that industry should confine itself entirely to the crops of our own country.
Let me put a proposition to the right hon. Gentleman. Suppose it were possible by this Bill, which I very much doubt, to find work for 100 more persons in this country in the production of the commodities which he is going to prohibit, if he prohibits fruits which are used for canning purposes in this country, how many people in that industry will he put out of work? That does not require a great deal of arithmetic calculation. It would be well if the right hon. Gentleman asked his Department to settle the point, or perhaps he might consult the President of the Board of Trade, or the Lord Privy Seal, who is an expert on decimal points. Let me put the point in another way, for the sake of clarity. Suppose the canning industry in this country use 100,000 cwts. of foreign fruit and that the right hon. Gentleman prohibits that foreign fruit from coming into the country, how many people in the canning industry will be thrown out of work and how many persons will be put into employment in horticulture by the same process?
Having dealt with cherries and currants, I come to gooseberries. Here, again, I am fortified by figures from the Tory book of the Central Chamber of Agriculture. If hon. Members are interested to know the personnel of the Committee of that body I would remind them that the chairman was the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. 1768 Amery), who, of course, knows all about gooseberries, tomatoes and the rest of it. He has appended his name to the document. I have taken a great deal of trouble to enlighten myself on this subject. In 1929, 15,000 cwts. of gooseberries were imported into this country, whereas the home crop was 645,000 cwts. In that respect we ought to pay tribute to the home growers for having beaten the foreigner, without any Protection. If that could be done generally by our industries the Empire would be safe, the pound would be safe, and the balance of trade would be settled immediately. Let me put to the right hon. Gentleman a question which has been put to him several times. He has been cute enough—I say that without meaning any offence—not to answer the question. Is it his intention when he knows that an article is not available in this country to prohibit the same kind of article coming from abroad by putting a duty up to 100 per cent. against it? Unless an article is produced in this country at a given moment, will he prohibit that article from being consumed in this country, by prohibiting its importation?
With regard to hothouse grapes, I confess that I am not much enamoured of the task to deal with the subject. The only time that I buy hothouse grapes is for the use of hospital patients, and I think that practice is common among most working people. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will remember the very important fact that a goodly amount of grapes are bought for the purpose of taking them to hospitals and to sick people. While it may be said that the hothouse grape is a luxury, I do not think that anyone can say that the humble plum is a luxury. The mushroom, the turnip or the carrot may fall into another category, but you cannot call the plum a luxury, unless it be the political plum. There are, of course, political plums and there is a great deal of ambition in regard to that kind of plum, but so far as I can see no political plums are left at the moment for any Liberal or Tory back-bencher to receive. The home crop of plums in 1929 was 1,215,500 cwts. and the importation 505,000 cwts. I am particularly interested in this subject because I am connected with a trade union which has among its members the jam makers employed by the Co-operative Wholesale 1769 Society. [Interruption.] If hon. Members opposite do not know about the Cooperative Wholesale Society, let me tell them that it is the largest importer of wheat in this country. I do not know whether it is the largest importer of fresh fruit. [HON. MEMBERS: Russia."] I would not be surprised if hon. Members eat some of the produce of Russia without knowing it, and acclaim it as good. Incidentally, some of our patriots are always crying out "Buy British!" That cry is not always genuine. We ought to alter the motto, and say: "Sell British."
With regard to plums, let me put a question to the right hon. Gentleman. If there are no plums available from our own crop and there is a glut of plums on the foreign market, are we right in assuming that for the purpose of protecting our own crop, say, in July, the right hon. Gentleman will prohibit plums coming from foreign lands for two or three months before July? Unless I mistake the object of the right hon. Gentleman, this is a prohibition Bill in respect of fruits that are regarded by him and his Department as luxury.
I have come across some strange illustrations of how the human mind works in regard to tariffs. I met a piano dealer who is very keen on preventing all manner of musical instruments from coming into this country, but in his own home the only piano that he owns is a German grand piano. Tariffs for everybody else, but not for him. He wants to prohibit foreign goods for everybody else, but not for himself. That is usually the attitude of tariffists. They break the rules whenever it suits them. [An HON MEMBER: "What about raspberries?"] Raspberries are not included in the Schedule. If they were included I should be glad to refer to them. Hon. Members opposite seem to assume that because we represent industrial constituencies we are ignorant of agriculture. If a census were taken, I could probably claim to have worked longer on the soil than any Member of the House. For over three years I was a farm labourer. You cannot get much nearer the soil than that. The right hon. Gentleman says that he is a farmer, but there is a vast difference between a gentleman farmer and a farm labourer.
1770 7.30 p.m.
Let me deal with strawberries. The home crop in 1929 was 340,000 cwts. and the importation 80,000 cwts. Supposing there was a glut of strawberries in a given month on the Continent and no strawberries in this country in that month or the succeeding month, would the right hon. Gentleman prohibit the whole of the foreign strawberries in order to protect the home grower, say, two months hence? The crux of this matter is in the Schedule and my purpose is to delete fresh fruits, on the assumption that the two things that the right hon. Gentleman intends to do cannot be achieved. He proposes to put a prohibitive duty on these fruits in order to help the home grower, but in spite of the fact that there is in this House the largest number of Tories that has ever sat in the House of Commons he cannot alter the climatic conditions of this country. He cannot alter the course of the sun. He cannot say that France and Italy shall not grow grapes and other fruits six weeks earlier than we can grow them. Nature will still produce crops and fruits in abundance, but all we shall do by this Bill will be that they will rot along the Mediterranean coast in Italy and France simply because we in this country propose to save the pound by prohibiting their importation into this country. I feel proud when I go to the Continent that I am a Britisher. Some people consider that a Socialist cannot be a Britisher. I belong to a nationality which was here ages before the English came to these shores, and I have therefore a right to be proud of my country. I feel sure that the right hon. Gentleman will answer the two or three points I have put to him. In the first place, how much of the work of the canning industry will be destroyed if he prohibits some of the fruit now coming in which is being used by the industry; and, secondly, does he intend to preclude by these duties the importation of these fruits in one month in order to help the home growers in succeeding months? I have now put my points as clearly as I can and, having done so, I beg to move the Amendment.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I regret that the hon. Member thinks that I have failed to answer him on previous occasions, but 1771 frankly I am a little disappointed with him. He draws a horrible picture of the effect of this Measure with regard to soft fruits, and says that we shall be able to go along the south coast of France and see these fruits rotting all along the Mediterranean coast. Does he give a moment's consideration to those unfortunate people in our own country whose products are rotting in the ground and on the trees? Let us come down to real business in this matter.
§ Mr. DAVIES
My point was that the fruit is grown in the south of France at a different period to that at which it is grown in this country.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
That does not alter the fact that there is an influx into this country of fruit at an earlier time, which has the inevitable result of leaving the greater portion of the fruit in this country to rot on the trees. Is nothing to be done in a case like that? If that is the attitude of the hon. Member and his friends then I join issue with them. This Schedule is a very modest one. It has been designed to stimulate the production in this country of a good many articles which we can quite properly produce without any difficulty. Obviously, grapes stand in a class by themselves. We can produce all the grapes referred to in the Schedule—hothouse grapes—without difficulty, but at the present moment we are facing a considerable competition from the Continent in this direction. Not only can we produce the grapes but it would mean an increase in the building of glass-houses and an increase in the use of coal.
As regards the rest of the soft fruits, I have been asked whether I am satisfied that nothing I shall do will interfere unduly with the canning industry. I am as alive to the importance of the canning industry as any hon. Member, but it is quite clear that if the canning industry is to be successful the factory should be surrounded and be able to draw from the district around it fresh vegetables and fruits. With regard to the jam making industry, it is beyond dispute that it has made use of certain importations at a time which has been very detrimental to the quite as good if not better produce of this country, and which from every point 1772 of view could quite properly be used. We desire that the cream shall not be taken off the market. A. great deal has been said about cherries and the risk of those living in the North not getting any of this fruit. We need not be over-anxious on that matter. It is quite clear that we shall get our share of cherries, but in that case, as well as in the case of plums, it is the importation of these early fruits, which are sold at a higher price than the home producer can command when he takes his produce into the market, which takes the cream off the market, and it is to deal with that side of the question that I am asking for the powers in this Measure.
Certain figures have been quoted in the case of strawberries. I see that the imports, especially of early strawberries, have risen from 15,000 cwts. in 1913 to 88,000 cwts. in the current year, and that the acreage of strawberries fell from 32,000 in the years 1920 to 1924 to 22,000 in 1929. There has been a slight rise in the last two years. The loss of employment as well as of production on that item alone is pretty serious, and we are justified in doing something which will stimulate the industry. I am asked whether I mean to shut out articles which are not produced in this country. If they are purely luxury articles, which under no circumstances are produced in this country, they are clearly articles which we can do without. For instance, plums are produced in this country. We propose to deal with the early importation.of plums. They take the cream off the market and leave our trees with the plums rotting upon them. That is not the way to assist the canning industry. I have listened to all the arguments on the question of soft fruits, and I am bound to say that I have heard none which moved me.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I do not want to delay the Committee in coming to a discussion of tomatoes which some hon. Members are anxious to raise, but it does seem to me that the Minister of Agriculture is entirely confusing the real issue. He speaks about strawberries and regrets the falling off in the crop. That has nothing whatever to do with the price. In fact, the price went up for the British crop during the years 1927, 1928 and 1929 by over 200 per cent. above the pre-War price, and the reason why there has been a reduction in the quantity of straw- 1773 berries grown in this country is because of the reduced purchasing power of the people, not because a fair price, and a good price, has not been obtained for the strawberries. The experience is that you never get crops rotting on the trees unless you get an internal glut. It is not because of importation that our crops rot on the trees. The experience of the last 50 years shows that when you get a big crop, say, of plums, people say that it is not worth while picking them because there are so many on the market, because of the internal production not because of imports. And there has been no available means for absorbing that surplus.
This year for the first time the canning industry has provided a means for absorbing the surplus of internal production, and it is by providing a means of stopping the internal market being flooded that the right hon. Gentleman is most likely to protect the growers of this country. If he will inquire he will find that in the present year the position as regards soft fruits in the district of Worcestershire is that there was a very heavy crop of strawberries, but, owing to the fact that the canning factories were able to take the surplus off the market, prices were maintained and fruit growers did very well. It had absolutely nothing to do with the question of importation; and that is why we think a Bill taxing these fruits is entirely the wrong way to assist the fruit growing industry. If the right hon. Gentleman would devote his energies to encouraging the growth of canning factories on a co-operative basis and provide a means whereby the growers of this country will not flood their own markets in a good season, he will do far more than by cutting out a few thousand cwts. of strawberries or gooseberries or anything else.
I want to draw his attention also to this feature of the problem. This is a Bill for a year only. It is to last no longer; and when he says that it is to encourage the production of these products in the United Kingdom, I should like to know whether it is because it is his opinion that the trees are going to bear more this year? He surely does not
§ think there is sufficient time for any one of these crops to come to fruition. In the case of cherries it takes five years, currants two to three years, gooseberries three years, grapes seven years, plums about five years and strawberries, which are the quickest, take two years before they come into bearing. How on earth can a Bill which is to last for only 12 months increase the production of crops which cannot possibly come to fruition for two years at the very least? I wish the Minister would let us have the information.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Is the Minister not going to reply to the questions of my hon. and learned Friend? The questions call for some reply. In the case of strawberries, cherries and gooseberries the right hon. Gentleman must know that supplementary supplies, if grown in this country, can only be made available in a period of years. If there should be a surplus next year the Minister might be justified in taking some steps, but we ought to be warned by the right hon. Gentleman as to what he is going to do. What does he intend to do to ensure that normal supplies of these various fruits will be available to the population? We know that between 1913 and 1931 the number of strawberry plants has been reduced. That was neither because of the imports of strawberries nor because the grower had not received a, reasonable price. During the last five years the average price has been 150 per cent. above the pre-War price. Will the right hon. Gentleman say what he is going to do if the 66,000 or 88,000 cwts. of imported strawberries are kept out next year? What is he going to do to ensure that a normal supply of the fruit will be available for consumption and for the canning industry? We have debated the matter for four days and the right hon. Gentleman has not yet given us the information.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 295; Noes, 42.1777
|Division No. 37.]||AYES.||[7.50 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Allen, Maj- J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.W)||Atholl, Duchess of|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Atkinson, Cyril|
|Aichison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley|
|Albery, Irving James||Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Aske, Sir William Robert||Balfour, George (Hempstead)|
|Balniel, Lord||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Fuller, Captain A. E. G.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M,||Ganzoni, Sir John||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Marjoribanks, Edward|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Bateman, A. L.||Glossop, C. W. H.||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Goldie, Noel B.||Millar, James Duncan|
|Beaumont, R. E. B. (Portsm'th, Centr'l)||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Gower, Sir Robert||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Morgan, Robert H.|
|Blindell, James||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hen. John||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Grimston, R. V.||Morrison, William Shephard|
|Bossom, A. C.||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Moss, Captain H. J.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Muirhead, Major A. J.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Munro, Patrick|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald||Hanley, Dennis A.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Normand, Wilfrid Guild|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Hartland, George A.||Nunn, William|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Harvey, George (Lambeth,Kenningt'n)||O'Connor, Terence James|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Haslam, H. C. (Lindsay, Horncastle)||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Pearson, William G.|
|Burghley, Lord||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Peat, Charles U.|
|Burnett, John George||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxfd, Henley)||Penny, Sir George|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Peters, Dr. Sidney John|
|Caine, G. R. Hall-||Herbert, George (Rotherham)||Petherick, M.|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Hillman, Dr. George B.||Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,Bliston)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Carver, Major William H.||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R.(Prtsmth., S.)||Hornby, Frank||Potter, John|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Horobin, Ian M.||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Chalmers, John Rutherford||Horsbrugh, Florence||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Howard, Tom Forrest||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Pyhus, Percy John|
|Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Chotzner, Alfred James||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Ramsay, T B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Christle, James Archibald||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Ramsden, E.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hurd, Percy A.||Rankin, Robert|
|Clayton, Dr. George C.||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Inskip, Sir Thomas W. H.||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Colville, Major David John||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Jamleson, Douglas||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Copeland, Ida||Jennings, Roland||Remer, John R.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Johnstone, Harcourt (S, Shields)||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Robinson, John Roland|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Ker, J. Campbell||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Curry, A. C.||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Kimball, Lawrence||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield,B'tside)|
|Denville, Alfred||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo|
|Dickle, John P.||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Salmon, Major Isidore|
|Donner, P. W.||Leckie, J. A.||Salt, Edward W.|
|Drewe, Cedric||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Lees-Jones, John||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Duncan, James A.L.(Kensington, N.)||Lewis, Oswald||Scone, Lord|
|Eady, George H.||Llewellin, Major John J.||Selley, Harry R.|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Eden, Robert Anthony||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Ellis, Robert Geoffrey||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Mabane, William||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne, C.)|
|Elmley, Viscount||MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Entwistle, Major Cyril Fullard||McKeag, William||Soper, Richard|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||McKie, John Hamilton||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Erskine-Boist, Capt. C. C. (Blk'pool)||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Stones, James|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||McLean, Major Alan||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(Corn'll N.)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Flanagan, W. H.||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Magnay, Thomas||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.(P'dd'gt'n,S.)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Maitland, Adam||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Thompson, Luke|
|Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles||Watt, Captain George Steven H.||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Wayland, Sir William A.||Wolman, Rt. Hon Viscount|
|Thorp, Linton Theodore||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Tryon, Ht. Hon. George Clement||Wells, Sydney Richard||Wood, Major M. McKenzie (Banff)|
|Turton, Robert Hugh||Weymouth, Viscount||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon||White, Henry Graham|
|Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Wallace, John (Dunfermilne)||Wills, Wilfrid D.||Sir Victor Warrender and Mr.|
|Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||Womersley.|
|Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Milner, Major James|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Batey, Joseph||Hirst, George Henry||Price, Gabriel|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||John, William||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Buchanan, George||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cape, Thomas||Kirkwood, David||Thorne, William James|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cove, William G.||Lawson, John James||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Leonard, William||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Daggar, George||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lunn, William||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Edwards, Charles||McEntee, Valentine L.||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||McGovern, John|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Maxton, James||Mr. Duncan Graham and Mr. Gordon Macdonald.|
§ Major MILNER
I beg to move, in page 5, to leave out lines 6 to 13.
I regard this Amendment as one of the most important on the Paper. The essence of it is that all fresh vegetables mentioned in the Schedule should be excluded from the operation of the Bill. I think that the National Government ought to be very thankful to the Opposition for putting down these Amendments. Had they not done so the Government would have been in considerable difficulty with all those people who are clamouring for one thing and another, and the Minister of Agriculture, particularly, might have been faced with a discussion on the wheat quota, concerning which I understand that he is involved in considerable difficulty with the millers and others at the moment. I understand that for the present we are only dealing with this list down as far as the words "Potatoes (New)" because it is desired to safeguard an Amendment to be moved later by the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) when I understand we may have an opportunity of seeing the Liberal party demonstrate in force.
The principal reason why I move to exclude these vegetables is on the ground of health. However valuable fresh fruit may be, we are certainly advised by all competent medical authorities that there is very great value indeed in fresh vegetables. It is therefore difficult to 1778 understand why the right hon. Gentleman should seek to include all the vegetables named in the Schedule many of which are absolute necessities to the people of this country. I am not altogether a vegetarian; In the last Parliament there were several Members, supporters of the then Government, who could have spoken on this subject with greater authority than I but I wish to go through this list and give some reasons why particular items should be excluded from the operation of the Bill. I shall not deal at any length with asparagus, though I take exception to a good deal that has been said from the other side as to the working class not having the opportunity or not deserving to taste asparagus. I know of no reason why on occasion any man or woman should not have the opportunity of partaking of asparagus or of any other vegetable or fruit.
With regard to green beans, I am in some doubt. The Solicitor-General is in his place and perhaps he will indicate to the Committee what is included in this term. Unfortunately the Attorney-General is not with us though we gather from the newspapers that after the Christmas Recess it is hoped that he will be able to join our Debates as he did in the last Parliament. The Solicitor-General if asked for a definition of this term may take the opportunity of telling us that at the last Election he gave his opponents beans. I know that there are butter beans, kidney beans and French 1779 beans, but I have not hitherto come across this expression "green beans." For broccoli we must all have a sympathetic affection and I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council is not with us when this subject is under discussion. Only a year or two ago he prophesied a great future for that industry. I am afraid that it has been strangled since by high railway rates and other factors. We know that broccoli is exported to a large extent and the Minister ought to tell us why he has included it. As to cauliflowers we have already asked the right hon. Gentleman why he includes cauliflowers and not cabbages. He will no doubt take this opportunity of explaining with his usual care why cabbages have been overlooked.
I need not spend any time on the consideration of carrots and chicory, and I pass quickly to the subject of new potatoes. Throughout these Debates we have pressed for a definition of new potatoes. In this matter also the Solicitor-General may be of great assistance to us for we have not yet had any explanation of this term. I am informed by people in the trade that there are periods of the year when new potatoes can be bought at 1½d. and 2d. per lb. and at such times they are certainly not luxuries. Frequently they are the only potatoes which can be bought in a satisfactory condition—I refer to the imported new potatoes. I gather that there are occasions when a British potato crop is short and in the early spring unsaleable, for one reason or another. The hon. Member for Holland-with-Boston (Mr. Blindell) is an authority on potatoes and during the discussions on the Agricultural Marketing Act he told us a great deal about the subject. I am sure the Committee would much appreciate his advice upon this matter and I hope he will intervene to assist us.
Then we have green peas, mushrooms, and lettuce. I submit that in the interests of the health of a great part of the population it is extremely desirable that the duty proposed by the right hon. Gentleman should not be placed upon any fresh vegetables. They are, as I have said, a necessity of life. They are at present very cheap. The right hon. Gentleman has not, so far, admitted it, but 1780 perhaps he will now tell us whether he does not anticipate a definite rise in the price of all these vegetables if this duty is imposed. It would be a very serious matter indeed if the prices of such articles as potatoes or lettuce were increased by this duty. The right hon. Gentleman has evaded every specific question which we have put to him, or at any rate every question which he had the least difficulty in answering. I should like to repeat one question which I have already put to him. Has he consulted the trade in regard to these vegetables included in the Schedule? Further, why has he excluded onions? He did not answer that question. But I should particularly like to know if he has consulted the duly constituted associations in the trades concerned, because I am told that there are serious complaints against him in this connection.
If he will allow me to say so the right hon. Gentleman seems invariably to close the gate after the horse has gone. In connection with the wheat quota he did not consult the milling and other interests until after the announcement was made in Parliament. The millers have taken umbrage at him and we understand that they are now refusing to have any part or lot in working the quota. In his own interests the right hon. Gentleman ought to consult the various bodies connected with these trades because they can give him much valuable advice on this subject. I am not sure whether they would advocate with me that all these fresh vegetables are to be left out of the Schedule, but they will tell him of the increase in price which will be necessitated by these proposals. For the reasons I have given I commend the Amendment to the Committee.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I think that Members of the Opposition have shown a great deal of misunderstanding with regard to this problem of vegetables. They have complained about these proposals as being likely to affect what they choose to describe as the chief food of the masses of the people. I wish to make it clear that the Bill is directed to dealing with those articles of early importation which take the cream of the market in this country. I am sure that even hon. Members opposite will not pretend that early carrots and turnips from France and elsewhere are anything but luxuries. It 1781 will not be argued that these form a part of the general food of the people. When we come to other items, such as asparagus, green beans, green peas, mushrooms and even those early salads especially cucumbers which come from Belgium and Holland, I do not think that any of us can honestly say that these are not articles which we can encourage our people to produce at home if we reduce the imports from abroad. They are articles which can be produced at home. One has to remember, in considering this problem, that the importation of miscellaneous vegetables has increased by about 100 per cent. in the last 10 years. That is a fact which we ought to take into account.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
Of course, all those factors have something to do with it, but the fact remains that many of our market gardeners and people who have in the past grown these vegetables and marketed them successfully have found it extremely difficult to do so. I am anxious by this method to stimulate the production of those articles which we can produce ourselves. I have been asked particularly about new potatoes. This is a matter which, admittedly, we shall have to deal with carefully, but, as an instance of what is going on, I only mention what happened in one year within recent memory, when we were importing new potatoes at something like £30 per ton in very considerable quantities, whereas we had in this country quite sound and good potatoes which were not able to find a market at all. That of itself, I believe, justifies something being done in that regard. It has been said that it is difficult to define a new potato. I believe that that term is easily understood, not only by the wholesale and retail trade, but also by the growers and the consumers, and I do not think there is any difficulty anticipated—certainly not by my advisers—upon this point.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
The Committee may expect me to give some very full definition on this subject, but I do not propose to enter into that. I am satisfied from 1782 my association with agriculture that it can be very properly understood. I might have difficulty in defining an elephant, but I know one when I see it; and those who have to deal with this problem, will, I am sure, be able to find an easy solution. I have been asked whether I have consulted the trade associations. That can properly be done when I come to decide upon the definite action which I shall take in issuing the Orders, and I am quite prepared to enter into negotiations and hear the views of those who are concerned.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
That is so. I have, of course, obtained certain information, but I have not officially seen these bodies. Before I issue the Orders, however, I shall be glad to confer with some of them. I believe I did mention that we have not included onions because of the size of the importations coming from abroad and the fact that we do not grow in this country a very material amount.
§ Mr. EDWARD WILLIAMS
We are very happy to find that the Minister of Agriculture is beginning to appreciate the importance of many matters that we have placed before him. Last night we endeavoured to stress for a long time the importance of the canning industry, and now we are delighted to learn that the right hon. Gentleman is beginning to appreciate the importance of that industry. After realising the impression that we have made on his mind, I wonder whether we can get him to think of some other matters in this connection. The object of the Bill is to stimulate the growth of home products, and I am wondering whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware of what his Department has been doing recently in preventing home products, particularly vegetables. I have in my hand some Regulations that have been issued by the Department during the last few weeks, which set out deliberately to prohibit the growth of vegetables in this country, and I am sure that if I call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to this point—I am sorry that he has left the Committee—he will take steps to see that some of these Regulations are withdrawn.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid that, if the right hon. Gentleman were here, I could not allow him to defend Regulations which have nothing to do with the Amendment before the Committee.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I understand that the Amendment is to exclude vegetables from this Order and that the purpose of the Bill is to stimulate home-grown products. I put it to you, Sir Dennis, that if a Regulation recently issued by the Ministry of Agriculture prohibits homegrown products, the purpose of the Bill as a whole falls to the ground.
§ The CHAIRMAN
We are not discussing the purpose of the Bill. I said that I could not allow the Minister to defend Regulations which had nothing to do with the Amendment.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
Slay I put it to you, Sir Dennis, that my hon. Friend is endeavouring to exclude vegetables from the Bill, and one of the reasons for their exclusion is the fact that there would not be enough in this country. I think he would be justified in showing that at
§ present there are hindrances in the way of producing the necessary supplies.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Yes, I think that up to that point the hon. Member would be right, but I purposely said in the first instance that I could not allow the right hon. Gentleman to defend Regulations which had nothing to do with the Amendment. The hon. Member is justified in criticising up to a certain point the policy of the Department in regard to the production of vegetables.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I am obliged to you for that Ruling, Sir Dennis. It seems to me to be patent that it is impossible for vegetables to be grown in this country, which, after all, is the object of the Bill, if these Regulations stand. I accept your Ruling, I have made my protest, and I shall leave it at that.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word "Tomatoes" in line 11, stand part of the Schedule."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 272; Noes, 42.1785
|Division No. 38.]||AYES.||[8 23 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Flanagan, W. H.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Albery, Irving James||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Fuller, Captain A. E. G.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Chalmers, John Rutherford||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Allen, Maj. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd, W]||Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring)||Gillett, Sir George Masterman|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Gledhill, Gilbert|
|Aske, Sir William Robert||Chotzner, Alfred James||Glossop, C. W. H.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Christle, James Archibald||Gluckstein, Louis Halle|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Clarry, Reginald George||Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Clayton, Dr. George C.||Goff, Sir Park|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Colfox, Major William Philip||Goldie, Noel B.|
|Balniel, Lord||Colville, Major David John||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Cook, Thomas A.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Copeland, Ida||Granville, Edgar|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Crooke, J. Smedley||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter|
|Bateman, A. L.||Crossley, A. C.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Grimston, R. V.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.|
|Beaumont, R. E. B.(Portsm'th, Centr'l)||Denville, Alfred||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Beit, Sir Alfred L.||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Dickie, John P.||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Donner, P. W.||Hamilton, Sir R.W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)|
|Blindell, James||Drewe, Cedric||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Duggan, Hubert John||Hartland, George A.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Harvey, George (Lambeth,Kenningt'n)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Eady, George H.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Eastwood, John Francis||Haslam, H. C. (Lindsay, Horncastle)|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Eden, Robert Anthony||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Elmley, Viscount||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd,Henley)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Hepworth, Joseph|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Entwistle, Major Cyril Fullard||Herbert, George (Rotherham)|
|Burghley, Lord||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Hillman, Dr. George B.|
|Burnett, John George||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)|
|Caine, G. R. Hall-||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Hornby, Frank|
|Horobin, Ian M.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Salmon, Major Isidore|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Salt, Edward W.|
|Howard, Tom Forrest||Marjoribanks, Edward||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Martin, Thomas B.||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Scone, Lord|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Millar, James Duncan||Selley, Harry R.|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Moreing, Adrian C.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Morgan, Robert H.||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas W. H.||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Morrison, William Shephard||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Jamieson, Douglas||Moss, Captain H. J.||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Jennings, Roland||Muirhead, Major A. J.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Munro, Patrick||Smithers, Waldron|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Normand, Wilfrid Guild||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Nunn, William||Soper, Richard|
|Ker, J. Campbell||O'Connor, Terence James||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Kerr, Hamilton W.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Stones, James|
|Kimball, Lawrence||Palmer, Francis Noel||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Kirkpatrick, William M.||Patrick, Colin M.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Pearson, William G.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n,S.)|
|Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Petherick, M.||Thompson, Luke|
|Leckie, J. A.||Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,Bilston)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Pickering, Ernest H.||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Lees-Jones, John||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Leighton, Major B. E. p.||Potter, John||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Lewis, Oswald||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Llewellin, Major John J.||Power, Sir John Cecil||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Pybus, Percy John||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Ramsay, T B. W. (Western Isles)||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Ramsden, E.||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Rankin, Robert||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Weymouth, Viscount|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Reid, David D. (County Down)||White, Henry Graham|
|MacDonald. Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Remer, John R.||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|McLean, Major Alan||Renwick, Major Gustav A.||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(Corn'll N.)||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Womersley, Walter James|
|McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Robinson, John Roland||Wood, Major M, Mckenzie (Banff)|
|Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Magnay, Thomas||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Maitland, Adam||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield,B'tside)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward|
|Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo||and Mr. Harcourt Johnstone.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Maxton, James|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Milner, Major James|
|Batey, Joseph||Harris, Percy A.||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Hirst, George Henry||Price, Gabriel|
|Buchanan, George||Holdsworth, Herbert||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cape, Thomas||Kirkwood, David||Thorne, William James|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cove, William G.||Lawson, John James||Wedgwood, Rt Hon. Josiah|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Leonard, William||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Daggar, George||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lunn, William||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Edwards, Charles||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||McGovern, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Mr. John and Mr. Duncan Graham.|
§ Mr. HARRIS
I beg to move, in page 5, line 11, column 2, to leave out the word "Tomatoes."
The Committee must realise that I have never been very much in love with this Bill, but I appreciate that under its title it apparently aims partly at keeping out luxuries. Some of the items in the Schedule can certainly be interpreted as 1786 luxuries. Asparagus is one, and a case can be made out for new potatoes, but not a very strong one. In these days, however, tomatoes have become one of the ordinary articles of diet in working-class homes.
§ Mr. HARRIS
If the hon. and gallant Member will come to my district, he will 1787 find that tomatoes are a very general diet. In the last two years a variety in diet has been preached by doctors with successful results, and it has largely been responsible for an improvement in the health of children, who used to have to put up with bread and dripping and occasional meat. They have now been encouraged to eat fruit and vegetables, and particularly tomatoes. In fact, in the winter time, when eggs are 3d. each, tomatoes form a convenient substitute to eat with the morning rasher of bacon. The Minister of Agriculture said yesterday:Quite clearly the tomato is a vegetable used by a great mass of our population, and it would be a foolish thing if any action or Order for which I was responsible I should make it impossible for the mass of our people to get the advantage of eating such a vegetable."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th December, 1931; col. 1639, Vol. 260.]By moving this Amendment I am trying to make it impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to do that foolish thing, and to remove from him the responsibility of making this pleasant article of diet more expensive. I know what pressure will be brought to bear by the interests concerned. I have seen lobbying going on already from various interests, and I have heard in this House and in various parts of the country growers of this and that agricultural product waxing eloquent upon the amount of employment that would be given if they had protection for their produce. The tomato, however, is different in one important respect; it is that in the luxury and expensive side of the trade it is entirely produced in this country under glass. The persons aimed at by the right hon. Gentleman, who in times of stress still indulge in magnificent banquets at which they wish to introduce expensive food, will not buy tomatoes from the Canary Islands; they buy good quality high-class British tomatoes, and those will be grown whatever happens.
I want to ensure that we get cheap tomatoes from abroad in the early months of the year, when other vegetables are expensive and in short supply, in order that they may be obtainable at a, reasonable price in the markets of our provincial towns and in the streets of London. We know how difficult it is to get good vegetables in winter, even 1788 in the House of Commons. Generally, we have to put up with brussels sprouts. I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman, anxious to keep out foreign vegetables, did not include brussels sprouts in his Bill. It is true they are grown in this country, but they are blessed with a foreign name. We know how difficult it is for us, in our foggy, damp climate, to grow good vegetables in the winter—except under glass. I do not know whether there are any hon. Members representing the tomato industry who want to encourage the putting up of glass-houses. If that be so, I would remind them that this is an emergency Measure, for 12 months only, and that in that period they cannot hope to create a new industry which will provide the country with all the tomatoes it requires.
If we retain the word "tomatoes" in this Bill we shall be adding to the cost of living of ordinary people at a time of great economic stress. There is much hardship in the homes of the people, especially among the unemployed, who have had to submit to a cut in their insurance pay. The Prime Minister told us only a few months ago that it was better to make an open cut in their pay rather than to increase their cost of living by a tariff. I have his speech here, but I will not read it. On 11th September, in this House, he defended the cut in preference to the policy, which hon. Members opposite were charged with desiring, of imposing a 10 per cent. duty for revenue purposes on all articles imported into this country. Now we have a possibility of a duty of 100 per cent. on tomatoes, if the right hon. Gentleman is allowed to work his wicked worst, and he takes full advantage of the opportunities which this legislation gives him.
In view of the right hon. Gentleman's speech yesterday I think the word "tomatoes" slipped into this Bill by accident. He has omitted many things, including the homely onion and brussels sprouts, and I now ask him, towards the close of the proceedings on this Bill, to make us a concession by omitting tomatoes. It would strengthen his Bill, and prevent much of the criticism which is bound to arise, seeing that prices are already advancing. Milk is rising, bread is rising, and we do not want this one 1789 little article—a luxury if you like—which varies the drab, daily diet of the ordinary working-class home to be made more expensive. Tomatoes are the largest item in these imports. No less than £4,000,000 worth of tomatoes are imported every year, mostly, of course, from the Canary Islands. At a time of economic pressure, with a long dull winter before us, and in face of the guarantee by the Prime Minister to do nothing to make life more difficult for the working classes, we beg the Minister not to add to the cost of living in this way.
§ Mr. COCKS
This is the third time I have risen to take part in these discussions on tomatoes, and I do not apologise for this triple persistence, because after each of my former speeches the Minister of Agriculture has made a certain advance in the direction of defining his intentions. For that I wish to thank him, and I am hopeful that to-night he may make another advance in the direction of meeting our views. In his speech last night the Minister said:During the winter months we get a good many tomatoes from the Canary Islands and these consignments are admitted at a low price. I do not think they can be termed a luxury. On the other hand, in the months of May, June, July and August, substantial supplies come into our markets from the Netherlands and France, and it is these imports which directly compete with the home produce."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th December, 1931; col. 1640, Vol. 260.]From that statement, I take it the Minister means to apply this duty only in those four months, and that in particular because of the competition from Holland, which, incidentally, is more or less a Free Trade country. Let me give the figures showing the wholesale prices of the best quality tomatoes in those four months, as recorded in official statistics. Twelve lbs. is the quantity of tomatoes in each case. In May British tomatoes were 13s. 3d. per 12 lbs., or roughly 1s. 1½d. per lb. Dutch tomatoes, competing ones, 9s., or 9d. per lb. Then there are the cheap tomatoes from the Canary Islands, which, as the Minister will admit, are not competitive at all, and which are the food of the poor people. The price for them is 4s. 11d., or roughly 5d. per lb. To place the British and the Dutch tomatoes on a basis of equality it would be necessary to put a 1790 duty of at least 4d. per lb. on imported tomatoes—not the Dutch alone, it would have to be put on all foreign tomatoes—and that would mean that the price of cheap Canary tomatoes would be 9d. instead of 5d. per lb. In June the price of British tomatoes was 8s. per 12 lbs., or 8d, per lb., Dutch tomatoes 6s. or 6d. per lb., tomatoes from the Canary Islands 4s. or 4d per lb. That will mean a duty of at least 2d. to bring the Dutch tomatoes up to the level of British tomatoes, and the workman will have to pay 6d. per lb. for cheap tomatoes instead of 4d., an increase of 2d. per lb. In July British tomatoes were 6s. 10d. per 12 lbs. or just over 7d. per lb., Dutch 4s. 6d., or 4½d per lb., and tomatoes from the Canary Islands 4s. 6d., or 4½d. If the duty is put on it will mean that the price of cheap tomatoes will be 6½d. per lb. instead of 4½d.—and really it will be a little more, because these are wholesale prices. In August British tomatoes were 5s. to 5s. 2d. per 12 lbs., or just over 5d. per lb., Dutch tomatoes 2s. 8d. or about 2½d. per lb. No Canary Island tomatoes come in the month of August. If a duty is imposed the workman will have to pay 5d. per lb. instead of 2½d.—that would be the wholesale price; it would be more retail. Those are first quality tomatoes. I will not take up the time of the Committee by giving the figures of the second quality tomato, but the proportions are much the same.
My point is that the Minister's proposals mean that the worker will have to pay at least 2d. a lb. more for those cheap Canary Island tomatoes which the Minister admits are not competitive, and as one lb. of tomatoes does not go very far, that means a serious charge on the budget of a housewife whose husband is earning only 40s. a week or under. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the tomato was formerly known as a love apple. Let the Minister show his love for the working people of this country by allowing them to obtain untaxed and cheap tomatoes. Let him enact the part of Paris, and present this love apple to the people. By so doing, he may not gain the favours of the Venus of Bournemouth or the Juno of Spark-brook, but he will win the approval of Pallas Athene, whose praise to a sensible 1791 man like himself is more precious and more lasting.
§ Mr. BUTLER
This is the first time I have taken part in this Debate, and I do so because I regard this question as the crux of the whole Bill. The hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) called the tomato a love apple, and the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) threw an apple of discord among us by introducing this Amendment. I certainly disagree with my hon. Friend, because I wish to retain tomatoes in this Bill. I regard the tomato as embodying some very great principles in agricultural advance upon which I congratulate the Minister. I believe that in this simple fruit we have embodied two great principles. One is that we treat agricultural products in the way they ought to be treated, that is in the same way as industrial products by imposing a tariff. That is sound economics, and that is the proper way in which to do something to balance our trade in the course of the coming year. On these questions I am willing to face facts, and I told my constituents at the last Election that I would be willing to consider any method whatever, and keep a free hand to use the best method. I think that the method which has been proposed for tomatoes by the Minister of Agriculture is the best.
The second principle which the tomato enshrines is the principle that processed articles in agriculture which undergo a process of manufacture, so to speak, in the glasshouse or the factory, in which case bacon would be included, or any form of processing, are to be treated by the system of a tariff, whereas the crop article should be treated by the system of the quota. I believe that is sound economics. We hear in agriculture something about the law of diminishing returns, and Mr. Venn in his article tells us that this law applies especially to those articles submitted to the attention of the ravages of nature, and he distinguishes between those and the industrial articles which are submitted to treatment in glasshouses or the factory where they come more under control. The law of increasing returns applies, as has been proved, to industrial concerns 1792 like motor cars and other manufactured articles, and if you apply the tariff to the tomato, which is a processed article, it will not respond to the law of diminishing returns but to the law of increasing returns. Therefore, the fears of the hon. Member for Broxtowe will not be justified. The same result will follow as follows in the case of manufactured articles which have been submitted to a tariff. We believe that will be the result of applying a tariff to tomatoes. I maintain that those two principles are the principles upon which the future agricultural policy of this country will be able to establish itself.
Although this is a small question dealing with one particular rare and refreshing fruit, in future, if these principles are applied to our agricultural products, we may look with hope to the success of the Minister of Agriculture in tackling our agricultural problems. As regards tomatoes in particular, I do not entertain the fears expressed by the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green, which I do not think are justified. I believe that it is quite possible for the Minister to put on a seasonal tariff to deal with tomatoes. I have consulted representatives of the tomato industry in my own district, and far from being Lobbied by them, I have found out the facts of the case. The cheap tomatoes are produced between May and October, and it would be possible to have a date tariff which would meet the fears which have been expressed by the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green. In those circumstances, the British crop usually produced between May and October would be able to be produced in the same way as before. Therefore, I think that the fears which have been expressed in regard to the seasonal nature of the tomato can be easily met by the Minister.
I have found in my own district that a new hope has been instilled into this industry as a result of these proposals. Many people have complained of the Government starting their policy in such a small way, and I quite agree with them. I would point out, however, that we have many great problems to face, and if we go on steadily in the right direction, I think we shall succeed. In Stansted, Essex, these proposals will be a help to the men in time for next season's trade, because they mean that the greenhouses 1793 can be dealt with scientifically during the winter, and work done to make the crop a more favourable one. In the course of last winter this particular work was not done, because there was no hope forth-coming from the Ministry of Agriculture. I congratulate the Minister upon including this fruit or vegetable in his Bill. I hope that this Measure will be the germ from which a great agricultural policy for this country will spring.
§ Major COLFOX
Of the two speeches which have been delivered in support of this Amendment, each contains, in my judgment, its own fallacy. The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) seemed to assume that the tomato was a necessity to a working-class family. I entirely combat that idea. I do not, of course, say that the tomato does not appear as an article of diet in a great many working-class homes. I know that it does, and I am very glad that it should. But, nevertheless, it is a luxury and not a necessity, and there is no reason that I can see why anybody, whether rich or poor, who indulges in a luxury, should not pay his quota to the national Exchequer for that privilege and pleasure. The hon. Member for Broxstowe (Mr. Cocks) entirely overlooked the possibility of tomatoes coming in cheaply during the winter months, and assumed that a tariff put on tomatoes would necessarily raise their price to an extent represented by the various figures that he quoted. I do not profess to be an expert in regard to the prices which are obtainable for tomatoes in different months of the year, and, therefore, I do not wish to suggest that the hon. Member's figures were either right or wrong, but I do know that this Bill proposes to put a tariff only on such tomatoes as are imported from outside the Empire, whereas those which are imported from within the Empire will, as at present, come in free.
The Imperial aspect of this particular duty seems to be in danger of being entirely overlooked. The various West Indian Colonies, all of them units of the British Empire, are in a position to grow tomatoes at a very reasonable cost of production and at times of the year when it is almost impossible to grow tomatoes in this country. The season during which they can be grown and shipped from the different West Indian Colonies varies, of 1794 course, according to the Colony, but roughly it may be said to be from November to April, inclusive—a time when it is impossible to grow any such fruit in England, or even in the Channel Islands. Under the proposals of this Bill, if a tariff is to be put on tomatoes coming from such places as the Canary Islands, North Africa, Italy, Spain, and so forth, while at the same time those grown within the Empire are allowed to come in free, there is no reason whatever to suppose that the price will be raised much, if, indeed, at all, in the English market, because then a hitherto scarcely tapped source of supply will be available to supply the English market. Hitherto there has been little or no encouragement to growers in the West Indies to attempt to develop a market in England, because their supplies have had to undergo a long sea voyage across the Atlantic, and, at any rate, in building up a new trade they would find themselves severely handicapped by the competition from existing sources of supply like the Canary Islands, North Africa and so on. If, however, they were to be assured of an Imperial preference over their competitors outside the Empire, it would be very well worth the while of the different West Indian Islands to organise and build up a trade which would be of immense advantage to themselves and to us in the Motherland as well. Many of the West Indian Islands have been very badly hit by the economic depression, and particularly by the bad times on which the sugar industry has fallen, and, if they could be assured of a preference, and a lasting preference, on this crop, which in that climate is easily grown, they would be in a fair way to regaining some measure of their lost prosperity, and would be able once more to build up a trade in place of that which they have lost. Therefore, I most strongly welcome this proposal in the Bill, not only from the point of view which has been stressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Butler), with whom I entirely agree, but also from the Imperial standpoint, which is by no means of little importance. I would, in conclusion, urge upon my right hon. Friend that, when he is considering the details of the imposition of this tax—the rate at which he proposes to impose it and the different times of the year 1795 during which he proposes to impose it—he should consider the claims and possibilities, not only of those people who grow the fruit in this country and the Channel Islands, but also of those who grow the same commodity in more distant parts of the Empire, and particularly in the West Indian Islands.
§ Dr. SALTER
We have not yet had from the Minister any definite statement as to the period of the year during which this tax is to be imposed, and I want to say a word, on behalf of consumers in the poorer districts of London, against the imposition of a tax at any period of the year, whether it be a date tax or a seasonal tax, to use the terms applied by a previous speaker. In South-East London we have a population of over three-quarters of a million of very poor people indeed. In North Lambeth, Southwark, Walworth, Bermondsey, Rotherhithe and Deptford, there is a population of considerably over three-quarters of a million, composed almost wholly of the casual labour class. The artisan class, the small officials, and so on, all moved away years ago to more desirable residential districts, and the people left are people whose average wage to-day—those who are in full employment—does not exceed £2 or £2 5s. a week, out of which extremely heavy rents have to be paid, amounting to one-third and even more of the total wage.
One of the speakers on the opposite side of the Committee stated that he did not consider that tomatoes were an essential item of diet. I would almost go so far as to say that they are an essential item of diet, having regard to the fact that those of whose wants and needs I am speaking are people who cannot afford to purchase the alternative forms of vegetable diet which are necessary in order to keep them in adequate health. The cheap tomato is the particular vegetable which supplies the whole of the vitamin content which from other sources has to be obtained from a whole series of different vegetables, and the improved health of the densely populated working people in the central areas of London and other big towns in recent years is largely, if not wholly, due to more varied and better dietary. I object on their behalf 1796 to increasing the price of this extraordinarily valuable vegetable from the point of view of vitamin content.
It is no use to say that the English tomato is the alternative for these people. The price of the English tomato is absolutely prohibitive to the great mass of the people to whom I am referring and on whose behalf I am speaking. I have made some special inquiries with regard to the street markets in the areas in South London to which I have referred. There are three or four markets, and I have had inquiries made at 248 street stalls, all of which sell tomatoes. Not one of the stallholders ever handled an English tomato. [An HON. MEMBER: "Shame!"] I do not know what the hon. Member means. I think it is a shame that people who would buy English tomatoes if they could have not the wages to enable them to do so. They would prefer English tomatoes, as I would, if they could possibly pay for them. None of these stallholders handles an English tomato because the price is prohibitive to their customers. In the larger shops, where English tomatoes are on sale, the price is 1s. 2d. a lb. Foreign tomatoes are on sale on the stalls at 6d., and that represents the outside figure which the poorer working people can pay. During the summer time, when I understand the Minister contemplates imposing the tax, foreign tomatoes, Dutch in particular, are available at 3d. and 4d. a pound retail, and the lowest price of the British tomato anywhere is 8d., and for the most part it is a shilling. If you put 100 per cent. import duty on foreign tomatoes, you are going to rule them out completely from the dietary of the poorer people and put them clean out of their reach.
I was astonished to learn from an hon. Member opposite that, if we put on this proposed tax, the ultimate result would be a reduction in the price. Certainly that is not the experience of tariff countries anywhere in the world. The hon. Member cannot point to a single Protectionist country where food prices are as low as they are here. Wherever tariffs have been put on, there has been an immediate rise of price, and it has been maintained, and to suggest that the imposition of 100 per cent. tax will lead to a reduction in the price of articles such 1797 as tomatoes is ridiculous. Earlier in the Debate we were told that the tax would lead to increased production here, that new glass-houses would be erected, and that it was a most desirable thing to get people back to a healthy country life. That is a most absurd argument, because it is a notorious fact that men who are employed in hot-houses are subject to a much higher death-rate and disease-rate than people who work in the open. They are peculiarly susceptible to pneumonia. The death-rate from pneumonia is higher among workers under glass than any other class of population. Their power of resistance to infection is reduced by working in the torrid atmosphere and the risk of chills and so on, in coming out of a temperature of 80 or 90 degrees to one of 32 or less, enormously increases the danger of pneumonia and similar diseases. We ought to do everything we can to encourage open-air work and to discourage work under glass. I would do everything in my power to prevent the erection of more glass-houses and the employment of more men under those conditions. I believe it to be entirely inimical to the best interests of the working people that they should be driven to employment of this sort. I would much rather see them engaged in open-air work.
We do not possess a climate suitable for the production of tomatoes in the open-air except to a limited extent and for a short period in a year, whereas the districts from most of which our winter supplies of tomatoes come are areas where the tomatoes are grown in the open—the Canary Islands and North Africa—and, looking at it from the larger human point of view, it is very much more satisfactory and economic for the tomatoes to be grown in the open and to be sent here than that we should herd our people under very disadvantageous and unhygienic conditions of labour leading to a largely increased death-rate. I am very strongly opposed, as are a great many others who are interested from a public health point of view, to an increase in the glass-house industry. Clearly one of the objects of a tariff on tomatoes is to extend the glass-house cultivation of tomatoes, because otherwise it is meaningless. From a public health point of view, as well as from the economic point 1798 of view, it is disadvantageous, and I hope that the Amendment will be carried.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I have had to consider very carefully the inclusion of tomatoes in this Schedule. I had to ask myself: Is this a matter which involves a large sum of money in importation into this country, does it represent a class of product which can be grown in this country, and is there room for expansion of that industry in order to fill in at any rate a proportion of what we import? I was finally moved to put tomatoes into my Schedule, first of all, because in 1930 we imported into this country no less than £4,545,000 worth of tomatoes. Whatever hon. Members on either side of the Committee may think about the wisdom or unwisdom of their inclusion, I think they will agree that when one is considering the possibility of reducing the imports of goods or food products of which we can quite properly increase the production in this country, it is essential that I should so include them.
I have listened with a great deal of sympathy to those Members who have spoken in support of the view that we should not interfere with the widest use of tomatoes which come into this country at very cheap rates, and which are available to the poorest of our people. Within some measure I am in agreement with that point of view, but there is, on the other hand, a very considerable importation of tomatoes which comes into direct competition with an industry which we can quite properly carry on in this country. I think that it is not beyond the wit of even an unfortunate Minister like myself to devise an Order which will conserve properly a large part of the importation of very cheap tomatoes at certain times of the year, but which, on the other hand, can equally, and, I think, properly, lessen the importation that comes from abroad in competition with an industry in this country which, even in glasshouses, can be expanded very considerably, and which is to-day to my knowledge, being expanded in the Channel Islands, for instance, on the mere promise that the Government are quite determined to do something to stimulate production in our own islands and within our own jurisdiction.
1799 I have listened, also, with interest to those who speak about the properties and value of this food, and no one wants to destroy the production of that food. On the contrary, I am one of those who think that production should be increased. I have heard people say that the glasshouse industry is so unhealthy that it ought to be put down. I am always ready to listen to medical advice, but I confess that I am satisfied we can produce in this country, without any injury to a large number of people, a glasshouse industry which can effectively be used for our own purposes, first of all, to produce fresh fruit at a reasonable price, and, secondly, to reduce the amount of money we expend upon articles of a similar nature from abroad. For those reasons, I am unmoved by anything I have heard, and I can assure the Committee that as far as regards certain parts of the year and certain classes of cheap tomatoes, those matters will be taken into consideration.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am amazed at the figures which have been given by the right hon. Gentleman. He says that £4,500,000 worth of tomatoes come into this country. That is proof positive that those tomatoes are the food not of the few but of the many. This is the worst case we have had so far of a genuine tax upon the food of the people. £4,500,000 worth of tomatoes is consumed by the poor people in this country. [interruption.] Almost all of them. The difference in price is enormous. It is the difference between 1s. and 2d., and when you have figures like that you must realise that you are definitely taking steps to stop a very vital foodstuff from coming into the poorest homes of this country. We are offered, almost with a jeer, the alternative of getting these tomatoes grown in hothouses in this country. It is ridiculous to suppose that we can produce by any sort of organisation of industry tomatoes in glasshouses in this country to compete with the article produced abroad in the sun or in the open. Therefore, there is no chance of English-grown tomatoes coming down in price so that the poor can buy them.
As I understand the position, the Minister has power to impose a duty only up to 100 per cent., and if tomatoes now cost 2d. a pound, they cannot possibly cost more 1800 than 4d. if he puts the maximum duty upon them.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The shilling is the price of the English-grown tomato. You are deliberately putting 100 per cent. tariff upon an essential food coming into this country. At one time the tomato was one of the rarest possible vegetables and was very expensive, being produced solely under glass, but for the last generation tomatoes have been one of the chief vegetables eaten by the poorest class of people. You are selecting this product for a tariff which will make this particular food twice as dear as it is to-day, and will not bring the competing foods produced in this country within reach of their larder. I myself produce tomatoes. My tomatoes become ripe about September and October, very late in the year, and I consume them myself.
The question is, Are we going to stop tomatoes from coming in only at one part of the year, or throughout the year? I gather from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman that he contemplates putting on this monstrous food tax only during certain portions of the year. I should like to know what portions of the year? Because if the tax is put on for those few months—and I am afraid it will be the hottest months of the year, June, July, August, and September—tomatoes will be dearer for the working class, whereas during the rest of the year they may be brought in and the working class may continue to obtain their food. It is during the hottest months of the year that the need for tomatoes in the poorest parts of the country is greatest. Therefore, you are selecting just those months when the population have their lighter meals to block out the tomato from the English market, and shut up all the shops in Deptford and elsewhere. It is cruel to put on a tax just when people need tomatoes most. It is cruel to double the price of an article which has become essential to every poor family in this country. Whereas nearly all the other taxes proposed are taxes upon luxuries, this is essentially a tax which will hit the poor people, and not the well-to-do.
1801 There has been a certain amount of indifference on this question, because it is put out that these are luxuries. This, really, is a tax which is not a luxury tax, but a tax on food. I am bound to say that I think it will produce more unpopularity, more inconvenience and actual ill-health among the people of the country than anything else which either the right hon. Gentleman or the President of the Board of Trade have proposed. This is not the thin end of the wedge, but a direct food tax of the worst sort, which will be felt in every home in the country. I beg the right. hon. Gentleman, when he puts the tax on, to put it on for the shortest possible period, and not in the hottest months of the year, and that he will let it be not 100 per cent., adding 2d. per lb. to this article, but a far smaller tax, remembering that
§ this is not a luxury but a food of the people. I feel so strongly on this question that I wish the Committee would continue to debate it all night long, as we have suspended the Rule. Much as I regard the Statute of Westminster Bill, the next Order on the Paper, as important, this is of far more importance to everybody, and I hope before the Debate closes we shall have from the right hon. Gentleman some sort of guarantee that the tax will not be 100 per cent., and that the months selected for it will not be those months of the year when people need tomatoes most.
§ Question put, "That the word 'Tomatoes' stand part of the Schedule."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 272; Noes, 47.1803
|Division No. 39.]||AYES.||[9.29 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Colfox, Major William Philip||Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T, (Leeds,W.)||Cook, Thomas A.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Albery, Irving James||Copeland, Ida||Hartland, George A.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)|
|Allen, Maj. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd, W)||Crooke, J. Smedley||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Croom-Johnson, R. P,||Haslam, H. C. (Lindsay, Horncastle)|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Crossley, A. C.||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)|
|Aske, Sir William Robert||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Denville, Alfred||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Dickie, John P.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Balniel, Lord||Donner, P. W.||Hepworth, Joseph|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Drewe, Cedric||Herbert, George (Rotherham)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Duckworth, George A. V.||Hillman, Dr. George B.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Duggan, Hubert John||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Eady, George H.||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Eastwood, John Francis||Hornby, Frank|
|Beaumont, R. E. B. (Portsm'th, Centr'l)||Eden, Robert Anthony||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Howard, Tom Forrest|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Elmley, Viscount||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Emmott, Charles E. G. C,||Hume, Sir George Hopwood|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Entwistle, Major Cyril Fullard||Insklp, Sir Thomas W. H.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blk'pool)||Jamieson, Douglas|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Jennings, Roland|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Jesson, Major Thomas E.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Flanagan, W. H.||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. C. T.||Fraser, Captain Ian||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stake New'gton)|
|Burghley, Lord||Fuller, Captain A. E. G.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Burnett, John George||Ganzonl, Sir John||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Ker, J. Campbell|
|Caine, G. R. Hall-||Gledhill, Gilbert||Kerr, Hamilton W.|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Glossap, C. W. H.||Kimball, Lawrence|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Kirkpatrick, William M.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Goff, Sir Park||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.|
|Carver, Major William H.||Goldle, Noel B.||Knight, Hoiford|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Gower, Sir Robert||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul|
|Chalmers, John Rutherford||Granville, Edgar||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Leckle, J. A.|
|Chapman. Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Lees-Jones, John|
|Chotzner, Alfred James||Grimston, R. V.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Christie, James Archibald||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Lewis, Oswald|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Lindsay, Noel Ker|
|Clayton, Dr. George C.||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Llewellin, Major John J|
|Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Palmer, Francis Noel||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne, C.)|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Patrick, Colin M.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Pearson, William G.||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Petherick, M.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Peto,Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,Bliston)||Soper, Richard|
|MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Mac Andrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Potter, John||Stones, James|
|MacDonald, Bt. Hn. J. R, (Seaham)||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Preston, Sir Walter Rueben||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Pybus, Percy John||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E.A.(P'dd'gt'n,S.)|
|McLean, Major Alan||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Thompson, Luke|
|Maclean, Bt. Hn. Sir D. (Corn'll N.)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Ramsden, E.||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Rankin, Robert||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Magnay, Thomas||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Maitland, Adam||Raid, David D. (County Down)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Remer, John R.||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Manningham-Bulier, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Renwick, Major Gustav A.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Marjoribanks, Edward||Robinson, John Roland||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Marsden, Commander Arthur||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Martin, Thomas B.||Runge, Norah Cecil||Wedderburn,Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Millar, James Duncan||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Milne, Charles||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Moreing, Adrian C.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Morgan, Robert H.||Salmon, Major Isidore||windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Salt, Edward W.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Morrison, William Shephard||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Moss, Captain H. J.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Womersley, Walter James|
|Muirhead, Major A. J.||Savery, Samuel Servington||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Munro, Patrick||Scone, Lord||Wood, Major M. McKenzie (Banff)|
|Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Selley, Harry R.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Normand, Wilfrid Guild||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Nunn, William||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Mr. Shakespeare and Mr. Blindell.|
|O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Morris, Rhys Hopkin (Cardigan)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Batey, Joseph||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Price, Gabriel|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Harris, Percy A.||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Buchanan, George||Hirst, George Henry||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cape, Thomas||Holdsworth, Herbert||Thorne, William James|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Kirkwood, David||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cove, William G.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lawson, John James||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Daggar, George||Leonard, William||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Edwards, Charles||Lunn, William||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||McGovern, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Mr. John and Mr. Gordon|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maxton, James||Macdonald.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Milner, Major James|
§ Mr. LEONARD
I beg to move, in page 5, to leave out lines 14 to 17.
Although my name does not appear on the Order Paper in support of the Amendment, I have pleasure in moving it. I was interested to hear the Minister of Agriculture restating as the object of the Bill the desire of the Government to rectify the trade balance. I am inclined to think that the operation of this part of the Bill in that direction will be so negligible as to warrant its deletion from the Schedule. Those hon. Members who desire to rectify the balance of trade have apparently the country behind them. 1804 In that case one would have thought that a simple appeal to the people who sent 400 representatives to this House, to refrain from acting in an unpatriotic manner, as they must be doing to make this Bill necessary, would have been sufficient, but it would appear that, although they supported the present Government at the poll, they are not prepared to act loyally in that direction. The object of the Bill, as stated in the Preamble, is to reduce the importation of productsthe production of which in the United Kingdom can be increased, or which are articles of luxury.1805 Sufficient has been said to indicate that we on these benches are not disposed meekly to accept the concept of luxury which has been expressed on the Government benches. The purchase of flowers is deemed to be something out-with the necessary requirements of the working people, but I remember listening to an address by an individual who is not inclined to my political views who asserted emphatically that every effort on the part of the working-classes to beautify their lives was a definite advance. Therefore, I am prepared to include flowers as one of the needs of life in the tenement system of Scotland, and I am prepared to support the purchase of flowers to any extent that I can. It is one of the mediums through which working people display their affection at the hospitals. The flowers that are taken to hospitals on visiting days and Sundays ought to be kept in mind, and this tendency on the part of working-class people to display their affection for sufferers ought to receive consideration. In regard to the proposal to tax plants that come into the country in flower, such as azaleas, surely it ought to be quite easy to keep them out by appealing to the people who are capable of purchasing them, the people with money, and asking them to refrain from buying them.
With regard to bulbs, the public park departments of various cities and towns from time to time have to purchase large quantities of bulbs, which can only be purchased in the large quantities that are essential because they are cheaper than they can be produced in this country. While it may be the case that there is a tendency on the part of growers in this country to increase the supply of homegrown bulbs, I think the supply is negligible. I should like to know what is a rose tree under this Bill. Is it intended to call a bush a rose tree? Does the definition include the bush form of roses that are imported and purchased by thousands of people in order to respond to the request of the housing authorities that the tenants should endeavour to keep the amenities around their homes as good as they possibly can. In responding to that appeal people buy and successfully grow the rose trees that are imported. It is only a small portion of what is termed a rose tree that is really a rose tree. Many rose trees are grown on briar stock, with briar roots, while there are 1806 rose trees which are grown on rose stock and rose roots. With regard to the duty, it is provided that it may be charged by reference to value, weight, measurement or quantity. What will be the duty on bulbs, rose trees and other things of that description?
The suggestion that the Opposition are hampering a growing and promising industry is one which I cannot accept, especially when it comes from hon. Members opposite, who have constantly told us that a little competition is a good thing. From the journals which cater for the people who have gardens, I gather that there is a growing number of people indulging in this form of activity. If one takes up the gardening manuals you will continually see new names in addition to the old names and, therefore, if this growing industry is to be urged to further effort there is no better method of doing this than to put it on its mettle by a little opposition. I trust that these items will be excluded from the Bill.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
We have now arrived at the last part of the Schedule which deals with flowers, plants, foliage, bulbs and rose trees. I have no desire, let me say, to prevent people taking flowers to hospitals or to their friends, nor do I desire to stop anybody growing a rose tree in his garden outside his door, but here again there must be some sense of proportion. Two classes of cut flowers are coming into this country. There are the cheap or early French flowers, and the forced flowers, which come into direct competition with our own hothouse flowers. It might be said that anything which would prevent the very early appearance of mimosa and anemones from the South of France would be unreasonable, but at a time like this we must forego some of our luxuries. At the same time, we can vastly increase the production of flowers in our own country, very much to the benefit of that healthy outdoor exercise about which the hon. Member for Bermondsey West (Dr. Salter) lectured us a short time ago. It is true that some of these flowers can be grown under glass, but there are a great number which can be grown in the open.
Take the question of competition in rose trees. The rose trees which come into this country are used for the main 1807 part in private gardens, they are not in the main nursery stock. Unfortunately, it is the fact that these rose trees come in in enormous quantities, are auctioned in the country districts at prices absurdly below the original cost of production, and they really mean that a great many of our gardeners throughout the country are faced with a competition which is unreasonable and unfair. Something like 8,600,000 of these rose trees came into this country mainly from Holland last year. I agree that the question of bulbs is a more difficult problem. Many of the bulbs are the raw material of the flower industry in certain parts of the country. On the other hand, there are parts of the country where we are building up a rapidly increasing and important bulb growing industry, and is it to be said that we are not to help in that matter? It will be the height of folly to put on so high a duty as to hinder or prevent the production of flowers by those in this country who treat bulbs as their raw material. We must have a sense of proportion in this matter and that is the reason why I included bulbs in the Schedule. The Committee has had a considerable and an instructive Debate on this problem, and I hope that it will now allow me to have the remaining part of the Schedule.
§ Mr. LEWIS
I have been struck with the fact that throughout the whole of the Debates in connection with this Bill, including the Debate on the Financial Resolution and on Second Reading, no one has endeavoured to put the case for the rose growers. One hon. Member has gone so far as to move an Amendment which would take rose trees entirely out of the scope of the Bill, and, therefore, it is time that someone gave the Committee the case of the rose growers and why rose trees should be included in the Schedule. The National Rose Society, which has been in existence for over 50 years and numbers to-day 16,000 members, including not only trade members, but private individuals as well, has for a number of years been spending money in encouraging the development of the rose industry by means of shows and in other ways. Very largely as the result of this the rose growing industry in this country has developed considerably within the last 20 years. Compared with the big indus- 1808 tries, it is, of course, very small, but it is still worth the consideration of the Committee in several respects. It is efficient. No one will deny that they produce the finest roses in the world. It is enterprising, in that it is constantly evolving new types of roses. It is an industry in which workers and employers work very harmoniously together, and the lowest form of labour in the rose growing gardens in this country usually gets the rate of wages laid down by the Agricultural Wages Board, while there are opportunities for those men who desire to become skilled and experienced in their work to get more. On all these grounds the industry is worthy of consideration by the Committee.
In the last two or three years it has been subjected to very severe foreign competition which is threatening to strangle the industry. Let me give the Committee one example from my own constituency. A big rose grower there last year at the end of the season had to destroy 100,000 trees which he had been unable to sell. Yesterday he told me that this season his sales to date are 70,000 trees less than they were last year, and I understand from the representatives of the National Rose Society that they would be well under the mark in saying that, if things continue as they are, the rose growers of this country at the end of this season will have to destroy something like 30 per cent. of the trees they have grown because they have been unable to sell them. As hon. Members know, they cannot be kept for sale after the first year. The root of the difficulty is simply the price. It has been found by the growers in this country that it is not possible to produce for less than 6d. a rose that can be put on the market in the form of a tree 12 months old. The cost varies from 6d. to 10d. a tree in different parts of the country.
§ Mr. LEWIS
That is the wholesale price. Twelve months ago trees were being offered in competition with them from the Continent at a price of 30s. per 100, that is to say 3½. each. This season they have been sold in large quantities at as low a price as 10s. a 100, and even less, or 1¼ each. It may be true that in some respects the competing foreign 1809 article is inferior to the British article. The foreign article often proves to be diseased, or not to have been grown with sufficient care, so that in its later stages it does not do well. It often proves to have been misdescribed. It is impossible for the purchaser in this country, unless he be a very great expert, to detect the difference on purchase, so that even though it may be inferior the foreign article effectively competes with the British article.
What will happen to these imported trees if they are included under the Bill? The maximum duty that can be put on them is 100 per cent. If that is based on this year's price, say 10s. per hundred, it means a duty of 10s. per hundred, an all-in-cost of, say, 20s. If advantage is taken of the provision in the Bill that the duty can be based, not on this year's price but on the price 12 months ago, the position will be rather more favourable, because the price 12 months ago was 30s. So that 100 per cent. duty on the price 12 months ago, added to the price of 10s., will give an all-in-cost of 40s. Even if that more favourable course is adopted, the foreign trees can be sold at something like 5d. a tree, as against the 6d. which is the lowest price at which they can be produced in this country. I hope that the Minister will make the regulations as tight as possible to get over that difficulty. It is not competent for a private Member to move an increased charge, and I should not have been in order if I had endeavoured to move, as I would have liked to have done, a maximum duty of 6d. a tree for rose trees, leaving the 100 per cent. duty for other things. It is not possible for the Minister to do that on the Report stage of the Bill, because he is limited by the terms of his own financial Resolution. It would, of course, be possible to produce a new financial Resolution, but that is asking too much with existing demands on Parliamentary time.
Undoubtedly this difficulty has arisen largely as an oversight. The Minister has not had an opportunity of seeing the representatives of the National Rose Society or of the smaller professional body, the British Rose Growers' Association. I do not complain of that. I know that the Bill has had to be produced in a great hurry. But if the Minister has 1810 had an opportunity of seeing representatives of these societies I feel sure that he would have dealt with this matter in a different way. I am certain that he is anxious to give efficient protection to the rose growers in this country. I believe he is genuinely anxious to keep out a large proportion of these foreign competing trees. I am sorry that it is not possible now to suggest an Amendment to the Bill, but I think that the Committee as a whole will feel that an overwhelming case can be made out for British rose trees getting that amount of protection which they can get under the Bill.
Apart from the financial benefit to the rose growers of this country, the increased employment and the rest of it, there is another aspect of the matter, and that is looking to the future of rose growing in this country. The rose growers for some years have been very gravely concerned at the spread of a disease known as rust. The disease undoubtedly shows signs of spreading more rapidly where there are large importations of foreign trees. If something can be done to limit the importation of these foreign trees we shall go a long way towards making it possible to control the disease and assist the permanent benefit of an industry which no Member of this House would like to see drop out.
§ Dr. SALTER
The last speaker asked the Minister whether, before he decided finally on the amount of duty that he was to impose, he would see representatives of the National Rose Society. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will see representatives of the National Gardens Guild, a very important body with many hundreds of thousands of affiliated members. I will try to put to the Committee a side of the case with which most Members are probably entirely unfamiliar. There are huge districts in our great industrial towns, and particularly in London, very sordid, very drab and very grey, where there is practically no garden space, only a small forecourt or backyard, very often paved or asphalted. It is impossible in those areas for the inhabitants to grow much in the way of flowers, or to do much of what we understand by gardening, but owing to the efforts of a large number 1811 of social and philanthropic organisations in recent years, and particularly as a result of the activities of the National Gardens Guild and the London Gardens Guild, there has been encouraged the development of plant culture on window sills, in pots and boxes, and even on paved forecourts, to an extent that, if it could be estimated, would probably astonish hon. Members.
I happen to know the figures in regard to the Bermondsey area where a large proportion of the population occupy great tenement blocks or else very small houses in connection with which the garden space is very cramped. The local Gardens Guild in that borough has in recent years encouraged the cultivation of flowers and plants and, as a result, last year there were 2,880 competitors in a competition for forecourt, backyard and window sill displays, and the great majority of those competitors exhibited rose blooms. They obtained their rose trees from Messrs. Woolworths at 3d. or 6d., whereas the cheapest English-grown rose trees are from 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d. In the confined and sooty central areas of London rose trees will not endure for more than one season or at the most two seasons. Consequently, these people have to purchase every year.
In this matter, we are really covering the same ground as we did in regard to tomatoes, because we say that by these proposals you are going to deprive these people of the possibility of obtaining the pleasure of cultivating roses. They cannot, like hon. Members opposite who have nice gardens in residential districts, grow their rose trees from year to year. They are obliged to get a new specimen every year or sometimes even two in the same season. The market for these very cheap rose trees is almost entirely among the poorest of the people. These trees are not purchased by the well-to-do people in the suburban areas. They are almost wholly confined to working-class districts, and, if you keep them out or put a prohibitive duty upon them, you will abolish for the people whom I represent, the pleasures of rose cultivation.
§ Mr. D. D. REID
I happen to represent a constituency which grows a great number of roses, and I would like to make some comments on the speech of the hon. 1812 Member for Bermondsey West (Dr. Salter). I am sure that no one in the Committee wishes to do anything to injure the cultivation of flowers or plants by the people of whom he has spoken, but I think that some of his statements are exaggerated. He speaks of buying rose trees in Woolworths for 3d. or 6d. but that is nothing like the price of which the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Lewis) was complaining. The price of which he was complaining is more like one-third of 3d.
§ Dr. SALTER
The hon. Member for Colchester was referring exclusively to wholesale prices whereas I was referring to retail prices.
§ Mr. REID
At the other end of the scale I suggest that there is also exaggeration in the hon. Member's statement. He speaks of home-grown roses being sold at from 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d. I am familiar with the catalogues of most of the principal rose growers, and I think he will find in the catalogues of the biggest growers very much lower prices than those. Indeed, I would say that 9d. or 1s. is an average price. We have no desire to interfere with the work to which the lion. Member for Bermondsey West refers, but he has said that these roses do not go to the suburban gardens. Our information is that they do go to the suburban gardens and that they do enter into practical competition with the roses raised by British labour in this country. These roses to which reference has been made are raised in one or two countries on the Continent. Formerly a great many of them went to Germany and America and some other countries. All those markets are now shut to them. Importation into those countries is now strictly prohibited with the result that the growers in Holland and elsewhere, when they have sold all the roses which they can sell through the normal channels, have a surplus stock remaining, for which they can find no other outlet but by dumping in this country. That is the only thing which we want to stop. If the roses are grown and sold at something like the cost of production our growers have nothing to fear. What they protest against is surplus stocks which 1813 have been left over being dumped into this country and brought into competition with roses raised under decent conditions by British employers with British labour.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 285; Noes, 39.1815
|Division No. 40.]||AYES.||[10.13 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Eady, George H.||Knight, Holford|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Eastwood, John Francis||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Eden, Robert Anthony||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul|
|Albery, Irving James||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Elmley, Viscount||Leckie, J. A.|
|Allen, Maj. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd, W)||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lees-Jones, John|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Entwistle, Major Cyril Fullard||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Lewis, Oswald|
|Apsley, Lord||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Lindsay, Noel Ker|
|Aske, Sir William Robert||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Llewellin, Major John J.|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Flanagan, W. H.||Lloyd, Geoffrey|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)|
|Balniel, Lord||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Loder, Captain J. de Vere|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Fraser, Captain Ian||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Fromantle, Lieut-Colonel Francis E.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Fuller, Captain A. E. G.||Lyons, Abraham Montagu|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Ganzoni, Sir John||MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Beaumont, R. E. B.(Portsm'th, Centr'l)||Gledhill, Gilbert||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Glossop, C. W. H.||McKeag, William|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Goff, Sir Park||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Goldie, Noel B.||McLean, Major Alan|
|Bossom, A. C.||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Corn'll N.)|
|Bowater, Col. sir T. Vansittart||Granville, Edgar||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Bowyer, Capt, Sir George E. w.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Magnay, Thomas|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Maitland, Adam|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Grimston, R. v.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hamilton, Sir R.W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.|
|Brown, Ernest (Lelth)||Hanley, Dennis A.||Marjoribanks, Edward|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hartland, George A.||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Burghley, Lord||Harvey, George (Lambeth,Kenningt'n)||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Burnett, John George||Harvey, Majors S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Millar, James Duncan|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Haslam, H. C. (Lindsay, Horncastle)||Milne, Charles|
|Calne, G. R. Hall-||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chlsw'k)|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Hellgers, captain F. F. A.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C, R, (Ayr)|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd,Henley)||Morgan, Robert H.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)|
|Carver, Major William H.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Hepworth, Joseph||Moss, Captain H. J.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hillman, Dr. George B.||Muirhead, Major A. J.|
|Chalmers, John Rutherford||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Munro, Patrick|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Hornby, Frank||Normand, Wilfrid Guild|
|Chotzner, Altred James||Horsbrugh, Florence||Nunn, William|
|Christie, James Archibald||Howard, Tom Forrest||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Clayton, Dr. George C.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Colville, Major David John||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Pearson, William G.|
|Copeland, Ida||Hurd, Percy A.||Peat, Charles U.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Inskip, Sir Thomas W. H.||Petherick, M.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,Bilston)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Jamieson, Douglas||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Jennings, Roland||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada|
|Cruddas, Lieut-Colonel Bernard||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Potter, John|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Denville, Alfred||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Preston, Sir Walter Rueben|
|Dickie, John P.||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Donner, P. W.||Ker, J. Campbell||Pybus, Percy John|
|Drewe, Cedric||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Ralkes, Hector Victor Alpin|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Kimball, Lawrence||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Ramsden, E.|
|Rankin, Robert||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Wallace, Captain D. E, (Hornsey)|
|Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Reid, David D. (County Down)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn.Sir A. (C'thness)||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Remer, John R.||Skelton, Archibald Noel||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Renwick, Major Gustav A.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Somervell, Donald Bradley||Wedderburn,Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Robinson, John Roland||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Ross, Ranald D.||Soper, Richard||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Runge, Norah Cecil||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Stones, James||Windsor-CIive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Russeil, Hamer Field (Shef'ld, B'tside)||Strauss, Edward A.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Rutherford, Sir John Hugo||Sutcliffe, Harold||Womersley, Walter James|
|Salt, Edward W.||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E.A.(Pd'gt'n,S.)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Thompson, Luke||Wood, Major M. McKenzie (Banff)|
|Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Savery, Samuel Servington||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Scone, Lord||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Selley, Harry R.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward|
|and Mr. Blindell.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Milner, Major James|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Batey, Joseph||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Price, Gabriel|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Hirst, George Henry||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Briant, Frank||Kirkwood, David||Thorne, William James|
|Buchanan, George||Lansbury, Rt. Hon, George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cape, Thomas||Lawson, John James||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Leonard, William||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Daggar, George||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Edwards, Charles||McGovern, John|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Maxton, James||Mr. John and Mr. Duncan Graham.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill reported, without Amendment; to be read the Third time To-morrow.