§ 4. "That any Act of the present Session for giving effect to Resolutions of this House with respect to a general ad valorem duty of customs, additional duties of customs, and duties of customs to be charged in respect of foreign discrimination—
- (i) shall provide that any order made under the Act aforesaid by the Treasury or by the Board of Trade imposing any duty of customs (other than an order making provision as to the conversion of an ad valorem duty into a duty chargeable by reference to weight, to measurement, or to quantity) shall cease to have effect at the expiration of twenty-eight days from the date on which the order is made
871 unless at some time before the expiration of that period it is approved by a Resolution of this House, and that in reckoning any such period as aforesaid no account shall be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued, or during which this House is adjourned for more than four days; and
- (ii) may contain all such other incidental and consequential provisions as may be necessary or expedient in connection with the said duties and in particular may include provisions—
- (a) as to the constitution, powers, and duties of any committee constituted by the Act aforesaid for the purpose of giving advice and assistance to the Treasury in connection with the discharge by the Treasury of any of their functions under the Act aforesaid, and for restricting disclosure of information given to the said committee;
- (b) for exempting composite goods which are liable to the general ad valorem duty from any duty of customs chargeable by or under any Act other than the Act aforesaid;
- (c) authorising the conversion of any ad valorem duty into a duty chargeable by reference to weight, to measurement, or to quantity;
- (d) as to drawbacks;
- (e) as to Imperial preference;
- (f) as to preference in respect of certain foreign countries;
- (g) for requiring manufacturers to furnish to the Board of Trade information with respect to the manufacture in the United Kingdom of goods of the classes or descriptions which are chargeable with the general ad valorem duty or any additional duty and for restricting disclosure of information so furnished;
- (h) for amending any enactments relating to the customs."
§ First Resolution read a Second time.
§ The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper:
In line 3, at the end, to insert the words:
until the twenty-eighth day of February, nineteen hundred and thirty-three."—[Mr. T. Williams.]
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
The object of this Amendment is to limit the operation of the Resolution to a period of 12 months. I am fortified in my position by the observations of the President of the Board of Trade yesterday. He said:In resuming the discussion on the proposals of the Government, I should like to remind the Committee that we were sent to the House to deal with an emergency, giving the country an undertaking of the openness of our minds and receiving in return autho- 872 rity to act with unfettered discretion. It is in those circumstances that I find myself at the Box to-day."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th February, 1932; col. 691, Vol. 261.]Not only the right hon. Gentleman but every important Member of the Treasury Bench who has made any contribution to these Debates has emphasised the fact that this Measure is intended to deal with a state of emergency.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)
I am not quite sure how the Amendment is intended to read. As I understand it, it is moved at the end of line 3. I submit that in that case it would not make sense. If I correctly understand the object of the Amendment, it ought to come in on line 2, after the word "thirty-two," otherwise, it appears to refer to goods imported into the United Kingdom and not to the duty chargeable.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I beg to move, in line 2, after the word "thirty-two," to insert the words:until the twenty-eighth day of February, nineteen hundred and thirty-three.The right hon. Gentleman is correct. The Amendment would serve the purpose intended best, and, with your permission, Sir, I will move it as suggested. The President of the Board of Trade yesterday said that the tariff was only intended to deal with an emergency, and when the Government came into office there was no intention of establishing a permanent system of tariffs. The right hon. Gentleman gave us a dissertation on sterling fluctuations, the necessity of balancing our trade and so forth, and he concluded, after a very brilliant review, that we must do something, and the something in this case, of course, is the Measure before the House. If, as the right hon. Gentleman said, we are to experiment with something to which we are wholly hostile, 12 months is as long as the Government ought to be permitted to experiment with a delicate question like this. In that time many things will happen. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade about a week ago told us of the magnificent results that had resulted from the application of the Abnormal Imports (Customs Duties) Bill within month. If he can arrive at conclusions so definite and so settled in four short weeks, surely the Government ought to know at the end of 12 months whether these duties are going 873 to be beneficial or otherwise, and, for the experiment, we think 12 months are quite sufficient.
Then there is the question of bargaining power. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that for the first time in the last hundred years they would have something to bargain with. If the right hon. Gentleman has this power for 12 months of negotiating with all other nations which have barriers against the import of British goods, we are entitled then to review the position in the light of the success or the failure of the policy. If he really believes this bargaining power is going to be effective inside 12 months, we ought to see a general downward tendency in the tariffs of Europe and we ought to see the success or the failure of this policy. For that reason I think the Amendment is fair and reasonable and is one that all those Liberal Members who still profess any loyalty to Free Trade ought to support in the Lobby.
In four months a great change has taken place in the country. Despite all the cheers of hon. Members opposite and despite their contention that they have a solid nation behind them, there was an indication yesterday at Croydon, where more than 50 per cent. of the votes polled for the Conservative candidate in 1931 were withheld. So far from having a united nation behind them, the popularity of the Government, if ever it was popular, is beginning to decline and at least the nation, as well as Members on these benches, are entitled at the end of 12 months to review the position and the result of the application of these Customs duties. The right hon. Gentleman will very likely tell us that, having imposed a 10 percent. duty, to disturb the arrangements at the end of 12 months would upset every industry. I suggest that the very action of introducing this Measure is calculated to upset every industry in this country. In every newspaper that one reads one sees the clearest indication of what has been taking place at the Board of Trade during the past two or three months. Every trade omitted for the time being from the Abnormal Importations Bill is anxious to be included. If the grave anxieties with regard to sterling, with regard to the trade balance, world prices and so forth, are conceded, and the experiment is well 874 worth trying, it is not unfair to suggest that the experiment at the end of 12 months ought to be reviewed by this House. We ought to have the opportunity of declaring either for a continuance of the policy or for the policy to be finally set on one side.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, I know, would be the last to declare that when the Conservative party sat on these benches they gave the Labour party the opportunity of 12 months to do any single thing. Week by week they wanted to know why the unemployment problem was not completely abolished. Week by week they wanted to know why every problem under the Sun had not been solved. We say, "You have at least 12 months to carry out your experiment." We are entitled to declare that this policy ought not to be made permanent because in 1931, for divers reasons, a huge majority was given to a National Government who may no longer represent the majority of the nation. May I call to my aid the hon. and learned Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Knight)? I know that he is very high in the counsels of the Prime Minister, one of the members of the so-called National Labour party, and I may presume that when the hon. and learned Gentleman was speaking yesterday he was expressing the opinion of the Prime Minister. Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman will correct me. During the Debate yesterday he said:For myself I have no compunction in accepting these proposals, because I believe they are directed to an emergency. In no sense are they intended to form the foundation of a system of tariff reform."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th February, 1932; col. 754, Vol. 261.]Clearly then the hon. and learned Member was yesterday, and probably still may be, under the impression that these measures are intended to be temporary. Therefore, I look to him to follow us in the Lobby in support of this Amendment. The right hon. and learned Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson), leading one of the sections of what used to be the Liberal party, speaking for that party in the absence of the Foreign Secretary, made this declaration on behalf of his Liberal colleagues in this House:My hon. and gallant Friend (Major Lloyd George) made a magnificent defence of Free Trade. It was the sort of defence, 875 which many of us would have aspired to make if no crisis or emergency had arisen."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th February, 1932; col. 737, Vol. 26].]Then he went on to declare that because of the crisis he and his colleagues were prepared to support the proposals of the Government. Those of us who sit on these benches oppose the policy of the Government because we believe it to be entirely wrong, and that it will fail in its object. But at least we are entitled to ask that when the Government are given the power to carry out their experiments, at all events they will let us understand how successful or otherwise that experiment has been at the end of 12 months. Therefore, I beg leave to move the Amendment which stands in my name.
§ Mr. PARKINSON
I beg to second the Amendment.
My hon. Friend has pointed out that this Measure ought not to be of a permanent character at this point. We have had, of course, many experiences of permanent arrangements in the industrial world, or what were supposed to be permanent arrangements, but which have had to be broken through failure to carry them through. I suggest that this Amendment is necessary in order to rectify something which is intended to be permanent, but which we think ought to be of a temporary character. It is in the nature of an experiment, and therefore we think that it would be very unwise to make it of a permanent character at the moment, as that would make it impossible to give reconsideration to the position, say, in 12 months from now. It would not give that opportunity for consideration and changes, if they are found to be necessary. We feel that it is impossible at the moment to say whether this great experiment is going to succeed or fail, and while that is the position, the question is, as it were, in the balance. There are different opinions on the matter, as, of course, there ought to be on such a vital question.
Further, if this Measure remained permanent it would probably in its application provoke retaliation by other countries, which might at least make it very difficult for our own Government 876 to believe that they had done the right thing. One might easily point out many eases of retaliation if one were permitted to do so on this Amendment, but I would like to bring to the notice of the House the reply to a question yesterday which pointed out quite definitely that retaliation is now being applied by France, particularly in the mining industry, on account of the Abnormal Importations Act and the new 10 per cent. tariff. That is not the only case of retaliation we have had. Through the Safeguarding Act in the past the West-phalian Coal Syndicate replied by retaliation, and if retaliation takes place in every country, we are going to have a very difficult situation. It may be said that if retaliation does take place, we shall increase our duties, but that in itself would provoke a race in the building up of new tariffs. We believe that we ought not to be building tariffs, but that we ought to be doing our very best to remove them. During the Safeguarding Duties, when we were trying to prohibit the import of fabric gloves from Saxony, we found that Bolton manufacturers were the people who were supplying the yarn. The same thing happened when duties were placed on Swiss lace Lancashire, which supplied the yarn, and Nottingham the net, were both affected. We may expect many examples of that kind arising from the passing of this Measure.
We want to have a temporary period for this Measure, so as to be able to review the situation when it arises. We feel that a 12 months' period is a reasonable one, and I am sure that the Government will keep their finger on the spot during the whole time, and watch developments in every direction. It was stated yesterday, in the course of the Debate, that the Government were able to follow the working of the Abnormal Importations Orders even in one month of its operation. If it can be done in that case, it can be done in regard to this Measure, and it is better to observe the safety line than to plunge our people into a kind of tariff war which can benefit no one, and which may ultimately be a deterrent upon every other country. The difficulties in tariff countries are greater than our own, and why should we follow other countries into a difficult position? After all, we are in a position difficult enough 877 without adding to our burdens, and I think that it would be much better to try this Measure for a period of one year. The experience in tariff countries is such as not to warrant an example. We are face to face with very great difficulties. We have the difficulty of unemployment, and the difficulty of trade and industry. I do not understand how the position is to be improved by a 10 per cent. tariff. The imposition of tariffs in other countries has been detrimental to those countries, and they have not weathered the storm as well as we have.
The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade suggested yesterday that taxpayers ought to be relieved. If this is going to impose a burden on the life of our country, it is unfortunate to select one particular class of people who ought to be relieved. I do not believe that the imposition of the tax will relieve any section of the community, and if we make it permanent, and it happens to be a failure, then the difficulty will probably be greater on account of other countries taking up a position of retaliation with tariffs. We ought to be very careful. The country at the moment is in need of relief, but I do not see any relief from the imposition of this duty. Of course, those who are in the know, like the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade, are aware of the actual position of the country, but I am sure that if we took the common view of the country, it would be that an experimental period of one year was quite sufficient, and then, if it was considered necessary, the country would have an opportunity of continuing the duty for a further period. It may satisfy some people, but I am sure it does not satisfy a large number of people. The question is going to be, whether, if it satisfies a section of the community, the other section ought to be satisfied as well. It may satisfy the manufacturerer, but it may not satisfy the workpeople. It may give profits and it may give standing to an employer, and it may relieve his difficulty and struggle, but it may be a different thing for the people employed by that manufacturer. We ought to make sure that if the imposition of a 10 per cent. tariff is a failure we shall be able to retrieve the position. We ought to be very careful in dealing with the matter.
878 What is to be done in regard to the question of agricultural goods imported into this country? If the duty is to be imposed upon them will a bonus be established under the Agricultural Marketing Act in order to deal with the position? If not, I presume that the duty will drop. I do not know the position, and probably the Chancellor of the Exchequer will tell us. I believe that in regard to the whole question we are taking a step in the wrong direction by making this a permanent imposition rather than a temporary Measure. If it were a temporary Measure, it would provide au opportunity for review, but, if it becomes a permanency, it will be very difficult indeed for the Government to retract from the position which they have already taken up.
§ Mr. GUY
As this is the first occasion upon which I have had the honour of addressing the House, I shall be very brief, and, I hope, relevant to the Amendment. The case for the Amendment has been put forward in a very moderate and very fair way, but I rather think that the argument submitted has been lacking in conviction. It is easy to provide a reason for opposing the Amendment and for the experiment to be more in the nature of a permanent and not a temporary Measure. There is an urgent need for a fair and prolonged experiment on the merits of this Measure. The President of the Board of Trade, in his most racy and illuminating speech yesterday, referred to the necessity for a slimming diet to be imposed upon imports. But if one considers the case of British industry, it is not a slimming diet which is required. British industry has been slimmed to the point of emaciation, and it is a nourishing diet which is required, and the nourishing diet of Protection. Suppose that after a year of this nourishing diet British industry, the patient, has been restored to a measure of health and vigour, would it not be almost ridiculous to suggest that at the end of 12 months the patient should go back again to a starvation diet? I consider that it would be very dangerous to put a limit of 12 months upon this experiment. We should have the danger of uncertainty. All those engaged in industry who at the present time are looking forward to a measure of security would not know 879 whether, if at the end of 12 months those duties were to lapse, they would be thrown back again into the present precarious position made by unfair foreign competition.
The question of unemployment was referred to by the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson). The one thing about which we are all concerned is the finding of work for the unemployed. We hope and believe, those of us who support the Government, that this Measure will provide a substantial reduction in the next year in the total of the unemployed, more employment in the producing trades and in the allied trades, and that thereby the purchasing power of the community will be increased. We do not want the new-found employment merely to be temporary. We do not want the new feeling of security of those people who find employment within the next 12 months to be taken away from them. We do not want them to be working for the next 12 months with the shadow of losing their jobs always hanging over them. We want something in the nature of permanent security for British industry. It would mean more confidence in industry. It would mean a new spirit of confidence among all those engaged in industry. These proposals, in my humble opinion, will go a long way towards inducing and bringing about that spirit of co-operation so valuable in restoring the prestige of British industry.
§ Major NATHAN
I wish, in accordance with the custom and tradition of this House, to tender to the hon. Member who has just spoken for the first time in this House congratulations on behalf of his colleagues and hon. Members of all parties on the contribution which he has made to the discussion of this important matter. Those of us on these benches who oppose these Resolutions consider that the proposals are ill-adapted to ameliorate the difficulties with which the nation is confronted. We consider them, indeed, to be fraught with infinite possibilities of mischief to this country, the Dominions, and the whole of our population. Even the mere announcement of these proposals and the speeches by which they have been supported in this House have sufficed to reduce the majority of the National Government at the first by-election since the proposals 880 were made public by 20,000, or more than two-thirds—a significant commentary upon the disturbance to industry and the hardships which are likely to emerge from these proposals.
Let it not be forgotten that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his opening speech last Thursday made it abundantly clear that these proposals were placed before the House, not as a temporary measure designed to deal with the immediate emergency, but as a permanent policy and as a definite change in the fiscal system of this country. Whence does the right hon. Gentleman derive his mandate? Whence do the Government derive their mandate to put forward any such proposals of a permanent character? In the course of the General Election it was made abundantly clear by the leading figures in the National Government, not only that their policy was to be a policy designed to meet the immediate emergency, and the immediate emergency alone, but that when that emergency had been met the task of the Government would be done. I call in aid the Prime Minister himself, who, in his election address, stated that:I shall join in no other policy than that announced of helping the nation to weather the storm.That confirmed the statement which he had made in his constituency a few days previously and was reported in the "Times" of the 15th October:As soon as our work is done, this Government will come to an end.The mandate of the Government is limited as to its purpose and limited as to its duration. This policy is one which can be scarcely worked out within a short period of time, and it may very well be that before it becomes effective the emergency which it is designed to meet will be at an end. What is that emergency? Some give it the name of "The adverse trade balance." Some speak with more accuracy, I think, of the balance of payments, but I prefer to adopt the definition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, speaking on Thursday last, the passage is in the OFFICIAL REPORT of the 4th February, said this, and I agree:I hope the Committee will not forget that really the essential point is the value of sterling."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th February, 1932; col. 295, Vol. 261.]881 Thereby he defines his understanding of the emergency with which the nation is confronted. To some extent that view was reinforced last night in this House by the President of the Board of Trade, but I am bound to say that the impression left upon my mind by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was that he was not so much interested in the value of sterling as he was in shifting the incidence of taxation from the shoulders of the rich to the backs of the poor. The whole emphasis of his speech was directed to calling the attention of the House to the effect of these proposed revenue duties upon taxation.
I apply the test of the facts to the proposition laid down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, rather halfheartedly it appeared, supported by the President of the Board of Trade. The real test is the value of sterling. What is the position? There is no doubt that sterling was in a precarious state some weeks ago. That is common knowledge which needs no amplification. To-day the seasonal pressure is over. There were unusually large importations of foreign goods into this country, induced mostly by the clamour of the Conservative party for tariffs in the latter part of last year. Those importations have been paid for during the last few weeks. The hills have been met by the purchasers. The Bank of France has been steadily withdrawing its sterling balances from London. On the other hand, the Bank of England has succeeded in purchasing £30,000,000 sterling of foreign exchange to enable it to discharge certain obligations. All that has been done while sterling has remained steady and has even appreciated. As the President of the Board of Trade pointed out last night, the internal value of sterling is still 20s. How these proposals of the Government are thought to be in the least likely to improve the value of sterling, I do not know, and no explanation has been given in the House.
It is abundantly clear, if from nothing else, then from the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that such pressure as there may be upon sterling is due to the fact that our invisible exports are reduced. Not even the Chancellor of the Exchequer will presume so much upon the credulity of the House and the country as to suggest that our invisible 882 exports will be supported or assisted by this policy of trade restriction. It may very well be that sterling will have achieved stability or perhaps parity—does the Government desire that sterling should have achieved parity?—and that the emergency will have been met in the sense that stability will have been achieved in the value of sterling, before a period of 12 months from the present time has gone by. There are fundamental objections to the Government's scheme on the score of uncertainty. The uncertainty induced by the mere announcement of the scheme has practically brought our export and re-export trade to a standstill. It is necessary and essential that the country should have an opportunity of reviewing at the end of a period the operation of the scheme, whether for good or ill—I am convinced for ill—when the scheme has become effective. I am entitled to call in aid the President of the Board of Trade. Speaking in his constituency on 3rd October, 1931, he said:I will not be a party to permanent tariffs being imposed.That was said during the general election campaign. Last night, speaking in this House, he made it clear that in his view these matters can be properly discussed in the House in Committee of Ways and Means when the yearly Budget is brought forward. The object of the Amendment is to ensure that they shall be discussed, and that they shall be subject to detailed examination. The object of the Amendment is to ensure that the Government shall be placed under the positive obligation of bringing these matters before this House and the country for review at the end of 12 months. It would be a breach of the pledges given by Ministers of the Crown when seeking the suffrages of the people and it would be a breach of faith with the nation if we treated the mandate that was given for a definite temporary purpose as a mandate for imposing on this country a permanent policy which, had it been frankly placed before the country, the country would have bluntly repudiated.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
It is difficult to take the Amendment very seriously when one sees the condition of the benches opposite. There are six hon. Members on the Front Bench and one on the back 883 benches from the party that has made itself responsible for the Amendment. With regard to our friends below the Gangway on this side, until they take their places alongside hon. Members opposite it is a little difficult to distinguish which is which. It is clear that the Amendment is nothing more nor less than a wrecking Amendment. The arguments that have been used, so far as any argument could be used, in favour of it have not been directed to the question whether the 10 per cent. ad valorem duty should be permanent or temporary, but have been general arguments against the imposition of a tariff at all. It is perfectly obvious that it is unnecessary to put a time limit in the Bill. If it were really a serious apprehension on the part of hon. Members that an experiment of this kind ought to be reviewed at the end of 12 months, there is nothing to prevent the House from reviewing it at the end of that period. If at the end of 12 months we know definitely whether the experiment has succeeded or failed, it will be open to the House to take whatever measures it chooses, either to renew or to bring it to an end.
I do not think the hon. Member who moved the Amendment had any doubt as to the experiment. I think he allied himself with the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) in condemning the experiment root and branch. He thinks that it is bound to be a failure. He has not got so far as the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson) who says that no one can state at this stage whether the experiment will be a success or a faillre. He, at any rate, is coming on. He has been listening to the Debates that have taken place in the House and, from an attitude of complete incredulity and scepticism, he has arrived at a position of philosophic doubt. I feel sure that in a few more days we shall find him joining with us with perfect confidence that the experiment is going to be a complete success.
Everyone must be struck with the presumption of hon. Members who lay it down that this is a Measure to deal with an emergency, and then come here and declare that the emergency will be over in 12 months. Who appointed them, I wonder, to be prophets. Can they compete with Old Moore? Can they lay it down that we shall have once more 884 regained prosperity, re-established the financial stability of the country, stabilised our currency, righted the balance of trade and brought back employment to ordinary dimensions, within 12 months? It is obvious that those who have been so frequently mistaken in the past have no right to come here and claim the confidence of this House in any phophecies that they may make on this subject. The hon. Member opposite suggested that there is a movement in the country against the Government. The fact is that the country is now perfectly satisfied that the Government are comfortably ensconced and it is prepared to sit down and wait until the Government have put their policy into operation. If we are to judge the state of feeling by what happens at elections, one notices that in a recent by-election the vote of the party opposite has gone down by something like 30 per cent.
In judging a proposal of this kind seriously it must be perfectly clear that we cannot put in a time limit, which has never been done by any country which has imposed a tariff upon goods coming into its ports. If we were to put on a time limit it would throw the whole trade of the country into such a state of disorder and uncertainty that that, if anything, would bring about distress and the mounting up of unemployment, which is the one thing that we want to avoid.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Negotiations with foreign countries? The hon. Member wants to know whether in any particular period of time and certainly in a period of 12 months we shall be able to judge completely whether or not our proposals can be used for the purpose of bringing down tariffs in foreign countries. We can begin negotiations, but we have already made it perfectly clear that we are not going to conclude any negotiations with any foreign country until after we have seen what happens at Ottawa. Therefore, it makes it quite impossible to conclude any treaty with a foreign country until well into the autumn of this year. The hon. Member ought to know that, as a rule, these matters take considerable time to negotiate If they were to take even a tithe of the time which it took his friends 885 when they were in office to try to make arrangements with foreign countries to reduce their tariffs, it would take a good deal more than 12 months. They were two and a-half years in office and they did not succeed in getting a single tariff cut down. They could hardly produce a worse record than that.
The hon. and gallant Member for North-East Bethnal Green (Major Nathan) was kind enough to make some quotations from the speech that I delivered last week. I must ask him when he quotes my speech to remember the context of the words which he quotes. He represented me as having said that the question of the value of sterling was the essential point. It was the essential point in connection with the matter on which I was speaking, namely, the cost of living and how the cost of living would be affected by our proposals. When I said that the value of sterling was essential I meant that if the value of sterling was allowed to go down uncontrolled and unchecked the rise in the cost of living would be far greater than anything that might be expected from the imposition of tariffs. That is what I meant when I said that the value of sterling is an essential point. It is one of the essential points that has to be considered. When the hon. and gallant Member says that the value of sterling is now so completely stabilised that we need be in no anxiety for the future, I cannot understand.
§ Major NATHAN
I did not say that. He would be a rash man to make any statement of that kind. I said that the situation was steady and sterling was appreciating.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. and gallant Member is a rash man. He also made a more remarkable statement when he said that our proposals had already brought our export and re-export trade to a complete standstill. I never heard a rasher statement than that. There are no figures to be obtained by anybody, not even by Government Departments. The Amendment cannot be taken seriously. If we inserted such a provision it would defeat the very purpose for which the duties are put on.
§ Mr. DAVID MASON
I rise to support the Amendment, and I take it seriously. It will ensure that this matter will be reconsidered at the end of 12 months. 886 It is quite true that no permanent taxes are permanent; they can all be reconsidered, but the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment in their admirable speeches stressed the advantage of a time limit. It ensures that the House will have an opportunity of reconsidering this question; it is difficult to get a Debate on a tax which is more or less permanent. The argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is valueless as to the effect of the proposal abroad, because the right hon. Gentleman knows that with the large majority he controls in this House he will have no difficulty in renewing it at the end of 12 months, if the experiment proves successful. The hon. Member for North-East Bethnal Green (Major Nathan) raised the question of credit. This was also dealt with by the President of the Board of Trade yesterday in a very witty speech, which was a great pleasure to listen to as a Parliamentary performance but which in my opinion was one of the most amazing speeches for inconsistencies and contradictions I have ever heard from the Front Bench. The right hon. Gentleman told us that we were suffering from a lack of confidence abroad.
Has it ever struck the right hon. Gentleman that his Abnormal Importations Act has increased and generated this lack of confidence. He told us that foreign banks are withdrawing their balances. That is because they feel that this country, once renowned for sanity and sound sense and t stable policy, is now joining that band of lunatics who are trying to keep out everything that is coming in and doing everything to stimulate exports. The French are a very sensible people, and I do not think they would withdraw balances, which they must do at a loss, without good cause. The right hon. Gentleman and the Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks that this Measure will have the effect of creating confidence. As a result of the Abnormal Importations Act foreign balances are being withdrawn by foreign banks, at a considerable loss, I have heard the withdrawals put as high as £60,000,000 or £80,000,000, yet the President of the Board of Trade in his complacent and jocular way, in a manner quite contrary to his former views and speeches, imagines that as a result of this Measure France and other foreign countries will continue their drafts on 887 the London money market. Why have foreign countries not been impressed with these financial proposals and increased their balances rather than withdraw them? It is another example of the folly of trying to impress the House with the existence of an emergency.
There are many honest tariff reformers in the House for whom I have a high respect. They are quite entitled to advocate Protection on its merits for the purposes of protecting agriculture and certain industries, but when the President of the Board of Trade introduced his Imports Bill for the purposes of bolstering up the pound, the pound immediately fell. The emergency was not met; and now the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade are trying to impress us that this is an emergency due to the adverse balance of payments. I have a question down to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-morrow to ask him if he can state to whom this adverse balance of payments is payable, mid how it is paid.
I can understand a well-informed Tariff Reformer showing the advantages of Protection for certain industries, but I cannot understand how these proposals will help the £ or rectify and correct the so-called adverse balance of payments, which I am told amounts to £113,000,000. How is that figure arrived at? The Chancellor of the Exchequer has not told us. The only figures he quoted are figures of imports and exports of commodities; the others are estimates. We are entitled to know the basis upon which the Bill is founded. It is rumoured that we are to have a Bill called the Balance of Payments Bill. No such thing exists; and if such a Bill is introduced we should have to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it was not out of order. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how he arrives at the figure of £113,000,000. Does he suggest that this country owes that amount of money; and, if so, to whom do we owe it? Is it true that this country, which so rapidly collected large sums of money as Income Tax, with such enormous sums to the credit of the banks, which is still proceeding without any apparent disaster, owes a balance of £113,000,000? If so, who are the people who are supplying us with the goods? Does the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggest that there are 888 people in America supplying us with raw cotton, and people in France supplying us—
§ Mr. MASON
The object of the Bill is to deal with an emergency, and if I can show that there is no emergency I think I am justified in supporting the Amendment. Perhaps I have gone rather wide in my survey, but I submit that there is no emergency. We are, no doubt, suffering from very bad times; but if we can prove that there is no emergency at all we are entitled to say that the Government are mistaken in putting forward such a far-reaching Measure. No doubt the idea of Protection does enter into the minds of a great many people, but in the main the principal foundation for this policy is that there is a terrible and exceptional state of emergency. Many Free Traders have said that owing to the emergency they are prepared to swallow their Free Trade principles and agree to this experiment. The hon. Member who seconded the Amendment claimed that there was no real ground for this experiment., for the proposal to bring in a Measure of such far-reaching importance and character, touching as it does the very innermost parts of the prosperity of this country and crippling and interfering and even retarding the trade and commerce of the country. If it were true that this adverse balance of trade existed we believe that these proposals will have an effect contrary to that which is desired, and we suggest that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should reconsider the matter and see whether it is not in the interests of good government and statesmanship to give this House an opportunity of reviewing the situation 12 months hence.
§ Mr. POTTER
As this is my first speech in the House, I hope that I shall have the usual indulgence if I make a mistake and do not observe the traditions of this ancient Assembly. I rise to oppose the Amendment, because I do not think it would do justice in the trial of the measures that are now being considered by the House. I do not mind confessing that up to a few years ago I was a most ardent Free Trader. I remember that about 30 years ago, as a young man, I took a very serious in- 889 terest in the proposals which were submitted to the country by the late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, when he was advocating his wonderful policy of Tariff Reform. I remember entering into some very serious arguments with my friends on the subject. Many years after I had the privilege and pleasure of visiting many parts of the world, and I came to the conclusion that this country was not trading on fair terms. About five years ago I was convinced more and more that something would have to be done to protect British industry. I think that the proposals now before the House will tend to ameliorate the extraordinary difficulties under which our trade is being carried on to-day.
When we remember the very considerable burdens of taxation, the ever-increasing expenditure on our social services, the very high Bank Rate; when we remember that the burden of our internal War Debt is in the neighbourhood of £8,000,000,000, that our municipal loan debts are in the neighbourhood of £1,000,000,000, and that all these extraordinary expenditures have to come out of our trade and industry, we cannot fail to see that our industries cannot get back to normal in present circumstances. I believe that the proposals under consideration will tend to give heart to those who are carrying on industry. I sincerely support the Government, in proposals which were splendidly and lucidly placed before the House by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There is no justification for granting only 12 months to enable us to see the result of the working of these tariffs. Such a limitation would not be right and proper from many points of view. The imposition of these tariffs will create a revolution in the administration of our trade and industry. I have the greatest possible pleasure, in rising for the first time in this House, in supporting the proposals.
§ Mr. GORDON MACDONALD
We on the Opposition side have moved this Amendment quite seriously. Surely the combination of remedies which the Government have proposed can do something for the country in 12 months. We feel that when such a Government as the present has had 12 months to carry out its election pledges there may be no further need for this combination of duties. Therefore, we say, "Let us see 890 what the position is in 12 months' time." We also think that our Amendment may help the Chancellor of the Exchequer to get unanimity in the Cabinet. If there were a test of the proposals for 12 months only the Home Secretary might ally himself with the Chancellor of the Exchequer instead of crossing swords with him continuously. The Government are proposing a new experiment. We think that 12 months' experience will show that it is a useless thing. We ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say, "I am so confident that 12 months' experience will show these proposals to be necessary for the national welfare that I am prepared to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. G. MACDONALD
I am very sorry. I ought to have offered my congratulations, but I forgot. I ought to have congratulated the hon. Member all the more, because I did my utmost to prevent him from coming to this House. I forgot what was my duty, and I extend to the hon. Member my apologies.
§ Mr. RHYS
It was an obvious oversight, and I am glad that the hon. Member has explained it. I have listened to this Debate since it began. I hope that in due course other Free Traders will see the light as it has been seen by the hon. Member for Eccles. It seems almost incredible, after the Debate of yesterday, that we can still get speeches from Free Trade Members who appear to take no account whatever of the present state of affairs. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. D. Mason) said that the Government were about to join a band of lunatics on the Continent by instituting tariffs in this country. I have not observed that those "lunatics" on the Continent have made any move to reduce their tariffs. They are not so foolish as not to be aware upon which side their bread is buttered. In the last 10 years of Free Trade we have not been able to secure a reduction of any of the tariffs on the Continent. By taking the step that is now proposed I believe we may at last attain such an admirable and desirable end.
891 The Amendment suggests that the proposals of the Government should be put into operation for 12 months only. The Government could not possibly accept such an Amendment for a reason which has not so far been mentioned. That reason is the proposed Conference at Ottawa in the summer. It is essential that the Ministers who attend that Conference from this country should go there with the knowledge that they can submit to the Dominion statesmen proposals that will at least last the lifetime of the present Parliament. When they come back from Ottawa the time of Parliament will be occupied, I suppose, in carrying out the agreements that have been reached in the negotiations. At all events those matters will have to be discussed in this House, although I understand that they can be put through pretty well under present legislation. I regret that the hon. and gallant Member for North-East Bethnal Green (Major Nathan) is not in the House at the moment. I understand from the public Press that the hon. and gallant Member is to run a Free Trade campaign in the country. I suggest that he will have to clear his head of some of his arguments before he can attain any very great success. At one moment he told us that the country was doing very well indeed. Next he told us that the present Government's proposals have brought the export and re-export trades to a standstill. The two things are not compatible. If the export and the re-export trades have come to a standstill the pound would not be in the position in which it is. Yesterday the President of the Board of Trade explained clearly the scope of the Government's proposals, and said quite rightly that they were only one Measure designed to assist the stability of sterling and the restoration of our trade balance. No one suggests that these proposals alone will restore the trade balance.
§ Mr. RHYS
That is a very fair question. The hon. Member asks what I mean by the trade balance. I mean the difference between the payment for imports and the payment for exports. In the past we have been able to pay for 892 the goods which came into this country by means of exports and invisible payments. If the hon. Gentleman arrogates to himself the right to say that there is no such thing as a balance of trade, I cannot agree that he has such a right, for eminent economists, and His Majesty's Ministers, who have all the resources of the Government at their command, use the term, and it is accepted by the House and the country as a proper and reasonable term to use.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain Bourne)
The hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Rhys) cannot go into the details of the adverse trade balance on this Amendment. His argument might be more appropriate on a Motion "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ Mr. RHYS
I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, if you think that that is an argument which ought not to be pursued on the present occasion; but perhaps I may be allowed to ask whether, if our trade had been perfectly normal, there would have been any question of going off the Gold Standard? I think that I have adduced a few arguments, particularly the Imperial argument, to show that the Government ought not to accept this Amendment. I sincerely hope that hon. Members on this side will rally to the Government's support should the Opposition press this Amendment to a Division.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I hope, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you will allow me the same latitude as you have allowed to the hon. Member who has just sat down. I have sat here for the last day or two listening carefully to some of the greatest speeches which have been delivered in my time in this House—that is for 10 years. I listened to the Lord President of the Council, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the President of the Board of Trade and others who have taken part in this discussion on tariffs as against Free Trade. I am not going to charge them with being dishonest. I am not going to charge them with lacking ability. I do not believe that there is an abler set of men in Britain than the present 893 Government. They are a product of the time just as we of the Labour movement are a product of the time. Conditions during the last 50 years have produced them and have produced us.
The Lord President of the Council, in finishing yesterday's Debate, made, in my opinion, a very thoughtful speech and he seemed to attach great weight to his statement that the trouble with which we are faced and the problem which we have to settle is really unemployment arid that this Government will be judged according to the way in which they handle that problem. I entirely agree with him. I am perfectly satisfied that unless this problem is solved it will destroy every Government which arises in Britain, irrespective of what may be its political name. The problem is one of poverty in the midst of superabundance and the Tory party, the Liberal party and the Labour party have each tried to tackle that problem. Now we have a coalition of all the brains and all the outstanding personalities which this country has produced in our time. They went before the country and they used every artifice under heaven to ensure that they would come back here with a free hand, none daring to make them afraid of what they would put into force, because the conditions, not only national but international, were so terrible. The country responded to their call and gave them undoubted power to do whatever they thought fit to remedy those terrible conditions. The electorate of Britain did it because of this problem of poverty in the midst of superabundance. Thus we have now this collection of outstanding men, able men, sincere men.
I do not challenge any of their qualifications. What I do challenge and have always challenged in the case of all the outstanding men whom we have produced in this country politically, is their courage to stand up to the facts of the situation. Those facts are perfectly well known to them, but even the Lord President of the Council in his speech last night was not very sure, I think, as to whether he ought to make the statement or not. [HON. MEMBERS: "What statement?"] If hon. Members have a wee bit of patience, they can listen to me and learn. If they keep their tongues between their teeth they will hear all about it. This proposal which we are considering is all that these outstanding 894 men can bring forward in order to face what is as serious a, menace to the welfare of the country as was the German menace during the War. None of them will deny that. How do they face that menace? What did the present Prime Minister say during the War? He said that when the man-power of the country had been conscripted, the wealth of the country should have been conscripted also. Here was a glorious opportunity.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member now appears to be making the speech which he did not make on Monday. I must remind him that the Question before the House is whether these duties should be in force for one year or longer.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
With all due respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, at the very outset of my speech, knowing that you would not be sure whether to let me go on or not, I drew your attention to the fact that you had allowed other speakers to roam and even to introduce the question of the Gold Standard. I ask you to give me the same latitude as you have given to others. The fact that I did not get in during the previous Debate is not my fault. I have not left the House during the whole of this week's sittings. What are we faced with at the present time? We are faced with a world teeming with all the good things of life. What the Cabinet brings forward is a tariff to prevent us bringing those goods into this country. We are living in a time the like of which never was before in the history of the world. We are living in an age which prophets dreamed about—an age when man can get a comfortable life by the expenditure of the least amount of energy. Every country to-day has more than it needs and the problem is that they want to export what they have and send it abroad. Thus, the last 40 years have produced the great Labour movement. That is not merely an accident. It is the result of the great economic development which has taken place. Let us look at the iron industry—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I do not think that the hon. Member is keeping to the subject of the Amendment.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I want to point out that 40 years ago blast furnaces produced a certain amount of iron in comparison with what they produce to-day. The 895 Lord President of the Council knows The blast furnace much pig-iron in a furnace of 40 years ago produced in a year. I want hon. Members to realise the seriousness of the situation which is involved. That is what is happening as far as iron is concerned. One furnace to-day can produce as much as 52 furnaces could produce 40 years ago. That has all happened in my time. The Labour party has been produced in my time as a result. Then take the case of coal—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member cannot go into every industry on this Amendment. I have been waiting for him to connect his remarks with the question of whether this tariff should continue indefinitely or should be limited to 12 months, but so far he has not been on the Question before the House.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I am trying to show the actual conditions with which this legislation is intended to deal. I am trying to get Members to visualise the situation which it is proposed to meet by means of this paltry and puny idea of the Government's—an idea which is not worthy of great minds. With your permission, I will not take long to give you a review of it as I see it. Take coal. I want to prove that we have a superabundance of everything and that tariffs are absolutely no use—[Interruption.] Members here will hear nothing of the truth, and what the great hordes of the Tory party would do is to howl us down, just us they would put us in prison so that our voices should not be heard. But my voice will be heard here to-day. Take coal. What do you find there? [Laughter.] You are not asking other hon. Members to keep order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I am watching. Take coal. This country used to be the workshop of the world, but that seems to be entirely changed. Now we have Germany producing coal, that formerly did not produce coal. A fellow countryman of my own devised ways and means, instead of puddling iron, to smelt it on an open hearth by gas and the air, and by that process produce steel. Following on that, the brown coal that was lying in the Ruhr Valley gained commercial value, but previous to that it was not worth digging, and was never brought 896 out of the bowels of the earth. That, too, is all in my time and since the inception of the Labour party. On that invention was built up the great German Empire. When I was a young boy the Germans used to come over to our country as beggars, but by that invention Germany built up her great power, by using the coal in the Ruhr Valley, the potash, the iron-ore, the lead-stone of Alsace Lorraine—all done in our time—more coal, more iron; and it does not stop there.
Again a fellow countryman of mine said, metaphorically, that no more coal should go through the Suez Canal. He organised the Indian mines, so that they now supply the Eastern seas with coal. Up to three years ago, on an average, something like £5,000,000 worth of coal went through the Suez Canal, and now not a pennyworth goes through. It used to go out to Singapore, which was the second greatest coaling station in the world, but that is all done away with, because other parts of the earth, other men, are contributing their quota to the world's work. That is a raw material, and it does not matter what you think of. We have just produced a machine that is making 2,500 loaves an hour, and food is more necessary than clothing or houses.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD:
I want to show that the tariff will have a tendency to keep out food and that this tariff—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
That is the point of the next Amendment, and I must ask the hon. Member to deal with it on that occasion.
§ Mr. MAXTON
On a point of Order. I have listened with great respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to the various interventions that you have made while my colleague the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) has been speaking, but I fail to see how it is out of order for my hon. Friend to deal with the matter of coal, pig-iron, and foodstuffs on the question of whether these duties shall be allowed to range indefinitely or should be limited to one year. If my hon. Friend can show, by reference to the various principal industries of this country, that these duties can have no appreciable effect on the condition of trade and on 897 the condition of the people, then he is entitled to urge that such futile duties should be limited to 12 months' operation.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
If the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) showed any signs whatsoever of connecting his argument with the tariff, what the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) has just said would be correct, but I have been waiting for any connection to appear in the hon. Member's speech. As regards foodstuffs, that is in a different category, because there is an Amendment on the Paper to exclude foodstuffs, and it is undesirable to anticipate that discussion.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I suggest to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that even the most skilful parliamentarian in this House, if he is interrupted on four occasions by the Chair, will have very great difficulty in getting to his point.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Again, with all due respect to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, if you would only just wait—I am not just one year here. I have sat on this Floor for 10 years, and I have been sent here every year by my constituents, and my opponents on all sides have done all they could to keep me from coming here. I hope, therefore, I shall not be prevented from voicing what I consider to be the thoughts and aspirations of tens of thousands of my fellows outside, and I will show you where the connection comes in. I ought to be allowed to make my speech.
Three years ago or so I was sent out by this House on a Parliamentary delegation. We were the guests of the Canadian Government, and we went all over Canada. We saw the great wheat-fields of Canada, where 50 years ago—again at about the time of the inception of the Labour movement—there were no wheat-fields, where no wheat was being grown, but now what do you find 1 You go in the train, travelling at 30 miles an hour; all day you see nothing but wheat; you go to your bed on the train, and waken up the next morning, still surrounded by wheat—a tract of country more than the British Isles, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, all combined—try to visualise it—all under wheat, that before my time was prairie. All that is extra food, being produced in our time; and it does not finish there.
898 The Argentine Republic has also been brought under cultivation—great farms —one of the Members of this House owns a farm there 40 miles square—all producing food, that 40 years ago was a wild waste. Then comes into the picture Russia. It is quite true that Russia was producing wheat before 40 years ago, but since the War, from White Russia, right through Turkestan, and on to Vladivostok on the Japanese Sea, 3,500 miles of black earth, all being brought under cultivation, all contributing to the world supply of food beyond the wildest dreams of avarice, and all in our time. No matter to what country you go in civilisation, you find the same thing. They are all producing more than ever they produced before.
Try to visualise what would happen if we had all the railways of the world to build again, but they are all built. What is your tariff going to do for my industry that I represent in this House, the shipbuilding and engineering industry What is the tariff going to do with the 20,000,000 tons of shipping that is lying idle throughout the ports of the world? What about the ships that are lying up in every estuary around the British Isles? What is it going to do with the 20,000,000 of unemployed people throughout civilisation? Do you imagine that tariffs are going to assist us? The Lord President of the Council last night uttered again that wish—because the wish is father to the thought—telling us, as he has been telling us ever since I came to this House, that prosperity was just round the corner, until he has repeated it so often that the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) has got it on the brain too, that we are just about to enter the promised land. But it has not materialised, and it is not going to materialise with their tariffs. This tariff is no use. It will not find employment for the unemployed. How they are going to earn their living is utterly beyond me.
Hon. Members must remember that the Prime Minister, when he took office under Labour the last time, was going to face unemployment. He told me personally himself, privately, let alone anything else, about what they were going to do, and the outcome of all his great thoughts at that time was to appoint the right hon. Member for Derby as Minister of Unemployment. To show how much the 899 Prime Minister thought of that right hon. Gentleman, who is now Secretary of State for the Dominions, when he had sent him to Canada only a week, at Victoria Station, he said of the right hon. Gentleman that he was the finest man he had ever met on earth or ever wished to meet in heaven; and yet with all that reputation they dispensed with his services.
This is a serious business for all the young Tories who came here. Many of them with whom I have talked believed that they were going to do things here; they were going to make things hum, and they were not going to stand tamely by and see other nations going forward and Britain going down. They were coming here to do something that would be worthy of themselves, as their fathers had done something to make Britain great among the nations. But what have they got? A 10 per cent. tariff. That is all that the Government have to give with all their experience in handling the unemployment problem. When the services of the right hon. Member for Derby were dispensed with, the Prime Minister appointed a committee and went outside his own party, so anxious was he to get the best brains—just as he has done in forming this Government. He appointed an economic committee to find work, and I and my colleagues up in the "mountain," as Asquith described us, asked the Prime Minister what work the Labour Government had produced I The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby replied, and from his answer it appeared that as he got work for 1,000 men another 1,000 were thrown out.
Now we come to the present dispensation. This country is composed of the finest workmen in the world; they are the finest raw material in the world. After the Government have been on the job for months, with all their experience —they are not apprentices this time, but men of experience—they are producing this cure for this terrible situation. But instead of unemployment lessening, it is increasing. What do all the young Tories say about it now? They are taking it lying down. They believed that this Government of theirs would do things. Up till now they have done nothing to ease the situation. Supporters of the Government had great majorities. The 900 Minister of Pensions told me that he had the greatest majority that had ever been given in the history of the House–60,000. If the powers-that-be think that they can play with the people of this country, who have shown this trust in them, they never made a bigger mistake. There is no doubt that this Government is on its trial. I believe that this House and the Parliamentary system is on its trial, too. The people of this country are generous, and they handed themselves over completely to the Government, as they were asked to do—to a Government untrammelled, without any mandate or instructions, who said "Trust us." The people trusted the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and if he lets them down he will be turned out. I do not know how far the swing will go, but I have lived long enough to see a complete swing take place. It will depend on how the Members of the Government handle the situation.
The British race went to the aid of their country when the need was impressed on them by the men who had their ear by means of the wireless and every other conceivable means. The people took them at their word that the country was in dire peril, that the menace of the Germans was nothing to what this financial crisis would mean. It would mean starvation and that all those who had a pound or two in the bank, in the Post Office Savings Bank, in the cooperative societies, and so on, would lose it all. As the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) put it, fear became rampant in the land. Industry and the country trusted the Government. Am I to believe that this race will sit calmly by and see its women and children being reduced to starvation as the result of the means test? Am I to believe that a race which, when roused during the War, smashed the mightiest military machine that the world has ever known, will allow this? Not only the working classes, but the middle classes are concerned. This tariff business is not going to touch the fringe of this terrible situation, and I warn the Government that unless they face them courageously, these conditions will chase them not only out of office, but out of the country.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 62; Noes, 345.903
|Division No. 54.]||AYES.||[5.56 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Batey, Joseph||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Maxton, James|
|Bernays, Robert||Harris, Sir Percy||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Hicks, Ernest George||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Buchanan, George||Hirst, George Henry||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Cape, Thomas||Holdsworth, Herbert||Price, Gabriel|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Janner, Barnett||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Cowan, D. M.||Johnstone, Harcourt (S, Shields)||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Dagger, George||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Thorne, William James|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Devlin, Joseph||Kirkwood, David||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|Edwards, Charles||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Lawson, John James||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Leonard, William||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Lunn, William||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||McGovern, John|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||McKeag, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Mr. Gordon Macdonald and Mr. Duncan Graham|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Chamberlain,Rt. Hn.Sir J.A.(Blrm.,W.)||Fuller, Captain A. E. G.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds,W.)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgbaston)||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Glossop, C. W. H|
|Albery, Irving James||Chotzner, Alfred James||Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Christie, James Archibald||Goldie, Noel B.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Clarke, Frank||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Clarry, Reginald George||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Clayton, Dr. George C.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Appiln, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Graves, Marjorie|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Colfox, Major William Philip||Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Colville, Major David John||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Conant, R. J. E.||Grimston, R. V.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cook, Thomas A.||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Cooke, James D.||Guy, J. C. Morrison|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Copeland, Ida||Hales, Harold K.|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)|
|Balniel, Lord||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Hanbury, Cecil|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Craven-Ellis, William||Hanley, Dennis A.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Crooke, J. Smedley||Hartland, George A.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Harvey, George (Lambeth,Kenningt'n)|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Cross, R. H.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Crossley, A. C.||Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle)|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)|
|Blindell, James||Dalkeith, Earl of||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.|
|Borodale, Viscount||Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Davison, Sir William Henry||Hepworth, Joseph|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hillman, Dr. George B.|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Denville, Alfred||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Dickie, John P.||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)|
|Bracken, Brendan||Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Donner, P. W.||Hornby, Frank|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Doran, Edward||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Dower, Captain A. V. G.||Horobin, Ian M.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Drewe, Cedric||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Duckworth, George A. V.||Howard, Tom Forrest|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks.,Newb'y)||Duggan, Hubert John||Hume, Sir George Hopwood|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)|
|Buchan, John||Dunglass, Lord||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Eales, John Frederick||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Burghley, Lord||Eden, Robert Anthony||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romford)|
|Burnett, John George||Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Ellis, Robert Geoffrey||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)|
|Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||James, Wing-Com. A, W. H.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Jesson, Major Thomas E.|
|Carver, Major William H.||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)|
|Castle Stewart, Earl||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Kerr, Hamilton W.|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Fraser, Captain Ian||Kimball, Lawrence|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Kirkpatrick, William M.|
|Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Knight, Holford||Nicholson, O. W. (Westminster)||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Normand, Wilfrid Guild||Smithers, Waldron|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||North, Captain Edward T.||Somerset, Thomas|
|Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Nunn, William||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||O'Connor, Terence James||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Leckie, J. A.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ormiston, Thomas||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Lees-Jones, John||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Palmer, Francis Noel||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Patrick, Colin M.||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)|
|Levy, Thomas||Peat, Charles U.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Liddall, Walter S.||Penny, Sir George||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Lindsay, Noel Ker||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe||Petherick, M.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bliston)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Locker-Lampson, Rt.Hn. G.(Wd. Gr'n)||Potter, John||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Powell, Lieut.-Col.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Pybus, Percy John||Templeton, William P.|
|Mabane, William||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Thompson, Luke|
|McConnell, Sir Joseph||Ramsden, E.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Rankin, Robert||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|McEwen, J. H. F||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Train, John|
|McLean, Major Alan||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Remer, John R.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Rentoul Sir Gervais S.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Renwick, Major Gustav A.||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Magnay, Thomas||Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Maitland, Adam||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Robinson, John Roland||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Rosbotham, S. T.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Martin, Thomas B.||Ross, Ronald D.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Mason, Col. Glyn K, (Croydon, N.)||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour|
|Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Meller, Richard James||Runge, Norah Cecil||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Millar, Sir James Duncan||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Mills, Sir Frederick||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Milne, Charles||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Milne, John Sydney Wardlaw-||Salmon, Major Isidore||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Mitcheson, G. G.||Savery, Samuel Servington||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Scone, Lord||Withers, Sir John James|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Selley, Harry R.||Womersley, Walter James|
|Moreing, Adrian C.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Morrison, William Shephard||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Muirhead, Major A. J.||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Munro, Patrick||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Unv., Belfast)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Skelton, Archibald Noel||Captain Sir George Bowyer and|
|Newton, Sir Douglas George C.||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||Captain Austin Hudson.|
§ Mr. GEORGE HALL
I beg to move, in line 5, at the end to insert the words, "(a) foodstuffs; or."
The purpose of this Amendment is to prevent any duty being applied to foodstuffs. Of all the new duties proposed, that to be placed on food is the most objectionable, so objectionable that Protectionists, when arguing their case in the country, especially in the industrial areas, always avoided any reference to a duty upon food. They knew that had they advocated such a duty, even during the last election, large numbers of them, who now adorn the benches opposite, would not be here. I think it is true 904 to say that some 90 per cent. of those who support the present Government have pledged themselves to see that no duty is placed upon the food of the people. I referred yesterday to a very definite pledge given by the President of the Board of Trade during the election. He said that a case might be made out for tariffs on manufactured articles, butI would not be in favour of any import duty upon food.The Lord President of the Council, a little earlier, was as definite as the President of the Board of Trade. When he wanted to rally his supporters in 1928 he wrote a letter to the then Chief Whip of the party in which he stated: 905The Conservative party are pledged, and will continue to be pledged, not to impose any taxes upon food.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Major Elliot)
What date was that?
§ Mr. HALL
If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had listened to what I said, he would have heard that I mentioned 1928. I referred to the President of the Board of Trade, who gave a definite pledge just before the election, or during the election. It is no use the Financial Secretary shaking his head. The President of the Board of Trade does not shake his head, and he ought to know.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Runciman)
In that form I certainly do deny it. What I said was that I was against the taxation of wheat and meat.
§ Mr. HALL
I am quoting from the "Manchester Guardian" of Monday of this week. The "News-Chronicle" of Tuesday of this week was quite definite in its reference to a speech made by the right hon. Gentleman at St. Ives. This is a quotation from a speech at St. Ives made by the right hon. Gentleman during the election:While he (Mr. Runciman) would not be a party to permanent tariffs being imposed at the present time, he was prepared to take such steps as were necessary to preserve our national balance. 'I would not' he added, 'be in favour of any import duty on food.'
§ Mr. HALL
I should have thought the right hon. Gentleman was quite capable of checking it himself. The duty proposed is to be applied to the whole range of foodstuffs, except wheat in grain, which is to be dealt with under the quota. Under the proposals mentioned by the Home Secretary in his speech on Thursday last, which I should not be in order in dealing with now, when the quota is applied to home-grown and to Dominion wheat there is not only the possibility but the probability of an increase in the price of bread. He definitely said that it would mean as increase of something like one halfpenny in the price of a 4 lb. loaf. Then, meat, including bacon, and fresh fish of British taking, are also excluded; but since that announcement was made we find that the farmers are pressing for bacon and meat to be included, and there is no doubt they will be able to exercise as much pressure upon the Government as some of the other interests have been able to bring to bear. Tea is also excluded, but I thought the reference of the Chancellor of the Exchequer during his speech on Thursday was very significant. He said that tea would be excluded until the Budget, but he could not make any definite promise as to what was going to take place after the Budget. We have not yet heard whether the new Tariff Commission will have power to increase the proposed duties upon foodstuffs; perhaps whoever replies for the Government will be able to tell us whether that is to be the case.
What will be the effect of these duties? For the first time for more than 80 years the people of this country are to have foodstuffs taxed. Butter, cheese, eggs and flour will be taxed, as well as all kinds of tinned foodstuffs imported from foreign countries. Foodstuffs imported from the Dominions or the Colonies will not be taxed. It must be remembered that most of the butter imported into this country comes from foreign countries. A large proportion of the cheese imported into this country also comes from foreign countries, and all these conditions will have the effect of increasing the price of foodstuffs in this country. I could go through the whole list of the foodstuffs which are to be taxed, but I will not deal with that matter this afternoon.
907 In addition to all the articles which I have mentioned, fresh fruit is going to be taxed. This does not refer to luxury strawberries sold in the West End of London at 15s. per pound, or hothouse grapes, but it refers to the ordinary common fruit consumed in the homes of the working people such as apples, bananas, oranges and pears. We must remember that four-fifths of the fruit imported into this country comes from foreign countries. I should like to hear from the Government as to whether beer is going to bear this additional tax. I understand that £5,000,000 worth. of beer is imported bearing ordinary taxation. Is beer to be taxed under these proposals? I should not, however, complain very much if beer had to bear this additional duty. Will cocoa, coffee and those articles which are used in beverages bear the duty I think those are questions which should be answered when the representative of the Government makes his reply.
There is no question that these duties will increase the cost of living. One only needs to look at Protectionist countries to see what is the effect of duties upon foodstuffs. I remember a former President of the Board of Trade, the late and revered William Graham, giving the cost of four pounds of bread in London and comparing it with a four pound loaf in almost every capital in the world. This comparison showed that the price of a four pound loaf was cheaper in this country than in any other country in the world. It was half as cheap again as a four pound loaf in New York or in Berlin. It was much cheaper than in France and cheaper than in Canada and Australia, which are great wheat-growing countries. We attribute the cheapness of bread to the fact that we are able to import wheat duty free. Therefore, we regard these proposals as a direct attack upon the wages of the working people. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in the late Labour Government, speaking within the last 12 months, said:There is behind this movement for protective tariffs—and I speak of what I know, evidence is coming to me in my official capacity of the truth of this statement every day: behind this is a sinister attack upon wages. They make no secret that costs of production must come down. They are afraid to make a frontal attack upon wages. Therefore they mean to do it in this sinister and back-handed way, by de 908 preciating the real value of wages, by increasing the cost of living for the benefit of the employer.I think it is quite true to say that the effect of these proposals will be that the cost of living will increase. There are large numbers of people who have the cost-of-living bonus still in operation, and those workers, as a result of the sliding scale, will have their wages increased. On the other hand, the majority of the working people have no such protection. The men employed in the heavy industries and in agriculture know that the sliding scale will be put into operation, and they will have to depend on the strength of the trade unions to which they belong. That means that unless increases of wages are paid in accordance with the increased cost of living, this country will again be faced with industrial war as a result of the increase which it is proposed to impose upon the food of the people.
These food taxes should be fairly and squarely understood by the House before they are imposed. We are not now dealing with luxuries, but with necessities which enter into the homes of all the people of this country. Almost every working class home is now suffering as a result of trade depression, and it is amazing how some of these poor people carry on in the circumstances. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer told us that a 10 per cent. tax on foodstuffs must mean an increase of 15 per cent. in the cost of living. If that is true it must mean that foodstuffs now costing 17s. in the working class homes will cost nearly £1 when these duties are imposed. Let us visualise the conditions. The Home Secretary referred to the amount of unemployment benefit. In addition to the unemployed, there are millions of men in this country who have during the last year or two had to suffer severe reductions in wages. The Ministry of Labour Gazette referred to the fact that the average weekly reduction in wages last year was something like £300,000 a week. I am connected with an industry where we have a subsistence wage. In some of the coalfields of this country the subsistence wage below which wages cannot go is 6s. per day. In South Wales the subsistence wage varies from 7s. for a single man to 7s. 6d. per day for a married man with more than one child.
§ Mr. HALL
I will not follow the interruption made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I would like to point out, however, that the average working week of the miners is 4½ or five days, and in those circumstances it will be realised that even a low protected wage will be seriously interfered with if the cost of living. rises as a result of these duties. I do not think any hon. Member will contend that the subsistence wage to which I have referred is too much for men who have to follow such a dangerous occupation as the miners, and I feel sure that many hon. Members would not vote for these duties if they thought they were going to lower the standard of life of these men.
The same argument applies to the steel and iron industry, to the shipbuilding and engineering industries, and, in fact, to all the heavy industries in this country. These duties will deprive the working-class homes of a few shillings per week, and those who know the conditions prevailing in working-class homes at the present time marvel at the patience of the poor people. The housewives in working-class homes are heroines. Let us endeavour to make the conditions of these people a little better instead of a little worse. Are these proposals, together with the wheat quota, going to increase the price of bread and the price of butter? Sugar is already taxed at more than double its value. It is not proposed to tax tea yet, but tea will probably be taxed when the Budget is introduced.
It is proposed to tax tinned salmon and tinned fish of various kinds, but I understand that fresh salmon and fresh lobster and crabs will not be subjected to these duties. I do not know how many working-class homes can afford to buy fresh lobster or fresh crabs, but tinned lobster and tinned crabs enter the working-class home, and they are to be taxed. These duties will place an additional burden on all the working-class people in this country, and the Government have no mandate to do that. That issue was not submitted to the electors. If it had been placed before the electors during the last General Election, there would not have been the huge majority which we see in the House at the present time.
910 I ask those who belong to the Liberal and the Tory wings of the party opposite to remember that they will be called upon to give an account of their action when the cost of living has increased under these proposals. For these reasons, I ask them to support the Amendment.
I beg to second the Amendment.
I want to make a few remarks on the issues that were before the House when the Horticultural Products Bill was being discussed. During that Debate we said we suspected that the Government, in introducing that Bill, were commencing a policy of taxation of food, and nearly every Member on the Front Government Bench denied that that was the case. I remember that the Prime Minister himself, when we were dealing with the Abnormal Importations (Customs Duties) Bill and the Horticultural Products Bill, denied that this was an attempt to put taxation on food, and by way of illustration he said that the articles named in the Schedules were simply fruits and certain articles of food which were luxuries and were not used by working people. He gave an impression that at least the Government would stop there and go no further, but we find in the case of this Bill a definite and deliberate change in our fiscal policy, including heavy taxation on imported food. After the references made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week when he was speaking about the possibilities of the Budget, and also the reference by one of the Ministers who spoke last night to a possible reduction of 6d. in the Income Tax, we cannot see anything in this Measure but an attempt by the Government to give to wealthy people some relief in Income Tax at the expense of poor people whose food is to be taxed.
Every Member of the House, I think, recognises that the 10 per cent. proposed is a minimum, and that these duties may rise to 100 per cent. The House ought to realise that the articles included in this Schedule are the everyday foods of the ordinary working people of the country. If a case has been made out at all for the protection of industry or for some scientific tariff on certain manufactured imported goods, surely no case has ever been made out for the taxation of the 911 people's food, and we ask the Government at least to withdraw from these Schedules those articles on which the poor people of this country have to depend very largely for the purpose of their breakfast and dinner tables.
This Government has already by its policy been responsible for increasing the cost of living. I am not prepared to accept quietly the figures given from the Government benches regarding the cost of living. I have a very good housewife, who throws nothing away, and I am satisfied that, even since the Abnormal Importations (Customs Duties) Bill came into operation, the cost of living has in many respects been increased to every working-class family in this country. Here, however, we have a whole-hog Bill that is going to put a tax on the food of the poorest of the poor, and no case for doing this has been made out, even from the point of view of balancing the Budget or from the point of view of our trade balance. Surely there arc other methods open to the Government, which, as has been said, is led by men who are looked upon as the finest parliamentarians in the land. Since the Government took office the Economy Bill has been passed, which has made a tremendous difference in the wages of people of all classes, and of working people in particular. The unemployed have had their allowances reduced, and thousands of them have been thrown off benefit altogether. Now a further attack is made upon their welfare by placing an ad valorem duty, which is unlimited up to 100 per cent., on their articles of food.
When all is said and done, there is not a Member in this House who can deny that this is a definite betrayal of all the statements that were made to the electorate during the last General Election. I made the same challenge early in November, and I repeat it now: there is not a Member in this House who can bring forward his election address and show that he suggested to his constituents that he would support a tax on food. [HON. MEMBERS: "A free hand!"] I agree that it was said that a free hand was sought, but in their election speeches hon. Members made it perfectly clear throughout the country that that free hand did not mean interfering with the 912 breakfast tables of the people. Members on the Government benches shut their eyes. Were not quotations made yesterday—I do not want to repeat them—from speeches by the Prime Minister, the President of the Board of Trade, and other Members of the Government, during the election, in which they gave a definite undertaking to their constituents that they would be no parties to the taxation of the people's food? No case for it has ever been made out; indeed, the strongest possible case against the taxation of food has been made by one or two Ministers of the Crown; and, therefore, we suggest seriously that the time for it is not now, that there is no need for it.
When hon. Members talk about the general financial position of the country, let them not forget that plenty of us have our eyes open, and are not altogether satisfied that the great financiers of the country, or even the magnates of the leading industries, are in the workhouse yet. There is any amount of room for balancing Budgets and dealing with the financial stability of the country without going to the people's breakfast tables and taxing them. There are included in this Schedule foods which every Member of His Majesty's Government knows are everyday commodities which our working people must have in order to live, and we ask the Government, in the name of honesty, in the name of political integrity, and on the speeches they have made throughout the country during this Parliament, to be honest to the electorate and to the general population of this country.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MAYHEW
If the hon. Member will permit me to interrupt him, is it not a fact that the Government which was in office in the financial year ending on 5th April, 1931, imposed taxes upon the people's food amounting to something between £12,000,000 and £15,000,000?
I am not very deeply interested in what other Governments have done, but I have come here on behalf of the people whom I represent to prevent any further taxation of food. I still contend, as I have already said, that during the General Election all Members of this House gave an undertaking that they would not be parties to putting taxes on the people's food, and 913 we earnestly ask them to be honest to the statements they made. Whatever case may be made out with regard to other imported articles, we ask hon. Members, in the name of honesty, to be faithful to the electorate, and, by accepting this Amendment, to remove these taxes.
§ Mr. HENRY HASLAM
We have listened to two remarkable speeches from the Mover and Seconder of this Amendment. The underlying assumption of both speeches appeared to be that, if a tax were placed on certain foreign foodstuffs, the price of the foods in question would rise. [Interruption.] Hon. Members interject that that is so; they assume it to be the case; but neither the Mover nor the Seconder of this Amendment gave one tittle of evidence that it is so, and I think that, when an Amendment of this description is moved, we are entitled to have evidence in proof of the assertion. We know that this question is encrusted with a mass of prejudice. The very phrase that hon. Members opposite are perpetually using, "taxing the people's food," is full of prejudice. What do people think when that phrase is used? They think of taxes on sugar, or on imported commodities which neither this country nor any Empire country can produce, which must fall on the consumer. People know that a tax on tea must fall entirely on the consumer, because this country does not produce any tea—
§ Mr. HASLAM
When hon. Members opposite, and Free Traders, speak of taxes on food, the people whom they are addressing naturally think that the whole of the tax must necessarily fall on the consumer, and that delusion is carefully fostered by the party opposite and by many of those who have favoured free foreign imports for many years. But when we come to this House we want something more than that; we want to be shown definitely and clearly that a tax on any particular foreign imported article. Take the case of wheat, but the Mover of the Amendment suggested that the wheat quota might add ½d. to the price of a four-pound loaf—
§ Mr. HASLAM
That may be true, but many people who have studied the question have estimated the additional burden which would result from a wheat quota at something like 1–30th or, possibly, 1–20th of a penny, so small is the amount of home-grown wheat that will be used in making the loaf.
I should like to take up the challenge of the Seconder of the Amendment that all Members on this side of the House stated in their election speeches that they were not in favour of taxes on imported food. I declared distinctly, in speeches and in answer to questions, that I was in favour of taxing imported food, and I was opposed by a gentleman who came out specifically on that very point. He made the whole subject of his election speeches the fact that he was against taxing the people's food. I said I was in favour of taxing imported food where it would not increase the cost of living unduly. Why not? I made that quite clear, and when I was asked if I was in favour of taxing foreign food, I said that, if the Cabinet proposed it, I should certainly support it. There are many others who made the same statements and pledges.
I should like to suggest to hon. Members opposite who fear that these very small duties are going to raise the cost of living, that there are very many other more potent causes which might very well bring about a very considerable rise in the cost of living. I refer to the position of the pound sterling. What was the position when the Government of the party opposite had to clear out last August? We were drifting to disaster. If there was a severe fall in the value of our currency, that could cause a rise in prices compared with which these small duties to encourage home and Empire production would be as a mere nothing. We are still facing a time of severe crisis. That is entirely overlooked by bon. Members opposite. We have to take strong measures. We are still face to face with the great danger that, if the pound should fall, our foreign food would cost us 50, 60 or 70 per cent. more. That is what we have to took to, and that is what the proposals of the Government are designed to prevent. We are taking action designed above all else to preserve the standard of 915 life of the working classes, and to keep down the price of foodstuffs to the lowest possible level.
§ Sir PERCY HARRIS
It is always a pleasure to listen to the hon. Member. It is like a breath of fresh air from the country. He tells us frankly what is in his mind. He comes here, as he told us, pledged to support the principle of food taxes and prepared to face a possible rise in price as an alternative to another evil which he fears, as long—as he puts it so very clearly—as food prices do not rise unduly. When "unduly" is passed, he does not attempt to define. He leaves that to the chance of circumstances and to various causes and factors which are quite out of the control of the Government.
I approach this tax in the spirit of last night's Debate. I recognise the supremacy of Parliament. I recognise that the Committee stage of these Resolutions was passed last night by a very big vote. We are asked now to consider these proposals in detail, and see whether we can approve them or modify them in some way. I am very sorry that the President of the Board of Trade has left his seat. I hoped to have heard him speak. For many years I have regarded him almost as my political leader. I am rather an independent person, taking my own line on most subjects, but, if I had a leader, I rather regarded my right hon. Friend as my leader. I have sunned myself many a time in his presence listening to his oratory. I have sat at his feet breathing in the pure doctrine of Free Trade and learning how important it was, above all things, not to tax food. So I admit that it is a great shock to me to find him sitting in that company dissociating himself from his old intimate friends even in the same Cabinet. I have quotations of his, but I do not wish to embarrass an old friend, and I agree that there is a, national crisis. I took part in an election at St. Ives. A more charming place cannot be found in the whole country. At the last election he did not even have the embarrassment of a contest, but was returned unopposed. I have a quotation here with a photograph attached, and a very good photograph, too. It said: 916I would not be in favour of an import duty on food.Now we have the commentary. "Certainly I am against an import duty on food, but my interpretation of food is meat and wheat. That is the food of the people." Anything else, apparently, is to be taxed. In the old hungry 'Forties, long before my time—I am not so old as I look—when wages were 7s. a week, I am told that the working man in the agricultural districts was limited to bread, dripping, cheese and occasionally meat on a Sunday as a great treat. Under Free Trade they have cultivated more elaborate tastes, and there is an enormous amount of food which they have come to look upon as necessary. Fish has come to be regarded as a necessary, and in the small two-roomed tenements of the people where there are no facilities for cooking, fish and chips has come to be regarded as a necessary, and a very good, healthy, nourishing diet it is.
I have heard dear old maids express themselves as terribly shocked at the extravagance of the working classes. Owing to free imports they have cultivated a taste for tinned salmon—a very cheap and palatable luxury—and they are going to resent the taxation of tinned salmon, and even sardines. I believe there are such things as "British sardines," but they are not sardines. They come out of the French seas and are tinned in France. I am sorry to see that even the Parliamentary Secretary is absent. He might have conveyed this message to the President. He has to readjust his views. He is getting a bit old-fashioned. The idea that the food of the ordinary home consists of bread and meat is quite a misconception and a misunderstanding of the whole habits of the people. We are living in 1932 and, after having enjoyed 70 or 80 year's of free imports—I do not mind calling them free imports—we have cultivated a variety of tastes. It may 'be that the ordinary working man will henceforth cultivate a more limited palate and will confine himself mainly to food produced in this country or fish caught off our own shores.
It will be resented, at a time of great economic depression, when there is a lot of short time, to say nothing of unemployment, that these taxes should be imposed on the plea of national necessity 917 and of balancing the Budget and balancing trade. If we have to balance trade by artificial taxes, let us avoid food taxes, and confine ourselves to luxuries. I understand that bacon is to be exempt. We must be thankful for small mercies, although that will not please the bacon factories. I do not know what the hon. Baronet the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) has to say to that. I note that Lord Beaverbrook, for whom I have the greatest admiration, for he is at least logical, points out that maize is to be taxed. I understand that the list given on the first financial statement of the Chancellor is not the final list, and I suggest that maize might well be exempted, because it is the food of pigs. It is, obviously, not fair to admit bacon free and tax the raw material of the pig producers in this country. Then there is the case of oats. We were told by the President of the Board of Trade that he would not tax wheat because it was food. Then why tax oats? I see opposite my hon. Friend who was responsible for introducing into the tea-room the homely porridge which, I understand, is a general article of diet in Scotland. If it is right and just to exempt wheat, it is equally fair to exempt oats and the homely Scottish porridge. I am not sure that it is not better to educate people to do like the Scottish people, and eat more porridge and less bread. If we are to have bread made more expensive by the elaborate machinery of the quota, it might be well for the working-class family to cultivate a taste for another article of diet. If we have to raise revenue by taxing these manufactured goods, let us at any rate leave out food at a time of great economic stress, when there is so much distress and unemployment in the country. Even if these measures will cure most of our ills, it will take time, and things cannot immediately revive. Is it wise at a time of great distress for a National Government, claiming to represent all parties, to impose a tax on the food of the people?
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. LEONARD
An hon. Member opposite informed us that the proposal which we were opposing was necessary to meet the peculiar situation we were in, and that strong measures had to be taken to cope with that situation. I am not, at all averse from strong measures 918 being used, provided they are used towards the people who got us into the condition in which we are at the present time. If he, as one with influence in industry, will pay some attention to the people who control the industries of this country through the medium of the financial machine and take strong measures with them, he will receive considerable support in quarters from which he would not normally expect it. I would like to answer his question asking us for some proof that prices would rise. It is popular sometimes to answer questions by asking others. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in the last Government, who is accepted by the other side of the House as one who knows his subject when he speaks on finance and tariffs, said last April that revenue tariff, apart from its Protectionist object, was a means of relieving the well-to-do at the expense of the poor, and was an indirect method of reducing wages. If it be the case that it does not increase wages, why has it been necessary for hon. Members opposite to give assurances to the House that they would not tax food? If it will not raise prices, there was no need far them to give such assurances. Yet the Lord President of the Council on 3rd August, 1927, said:We are pledged, and will continue to be pledged, not to impose taxes on food.If it be the case that taxes on food do not increase prices, why was it necessary for him to give such a pledge? Therefore, I suggest that that question is answered by the attitude adopted on the other side of the House. An hon. Member has made interjections about "foreign tea" and "British fish." We have already put in our hands a circular from the organisation controlling the tame rabbit industry in this country which states that:English producers are organised and in a position to take advantage of any tariff.So will the people handling tea and fish be in a position to take advantage of any tariff upon foreign imports into this country.
The President of the Board of Trade last night described the action taken as a slimming process. It will be a slimming process in actual fact if the food of the people is going to be taxed. It cannot have escaped the memory of the House that the medical men told us, when they were examining the men of this 919 country preparatory to sending them to France, that this country was populated by a C3 nation. That description will apply to us even more in the future if we interfere in any way with the food of the people. In addition to that, we have the example of the results of the experiment of giving school children milk and other food in order to see the effect upon them, and to make them more able to absorb the instruction they receive. By interfering with the food of the family and, therefore, with the young life of this country, you are wasting the money you are paying to your teachers. It is no use endeavouring to educate children in schools unless they are properly fed. It may be replied that wages will go up. That is possible, but one of the captains of industry in this country, who is looked to on all occasions for guidance in this matter, Sir Josiah Stamp, has laid it down that industry must no longer accept the cost of living as a basis for wages. When the working people come forward to negotiate to their advantage on this matter, they will be told that the cost of living is not the basis on which wage alterations can be permitted, and Sir Josiah Stamp will be quoted against every attempt to get an increase of wages on account of the cost of living. That great economist will be quoted as laying it down that the cost of living cannot be accepted as the guide for wages and industry.
One of the things which perturbs me, too, is that this question of food duties is to be included in the power of retaliation to discriminatory action against us elsewhere. I am not going to argue whether or not that retaliation is necessary, but the food of the people should certainly be kept outside any tariff warfare between this country and other countries, especially in view of the fact that in food and everything else this country cannot look to itself as being self-sufficient. I know that in the circular sent by the Federation of British Industries to every Member of this House they say that they are not adverse from duties being placed on foodstuffs in this country. I am quite prepared to accept that statement, but I cannot accept that they are the proper persons to determine the type and standard of living of this country. If they make a pronouncement as to what should be done with the wages of the 920 workers if the cost of living goes up, I will pay attention to them.
I am fully conscious of the fact that there will be an Advisory Committee established to guide the Ministers upon this matter, but I am in doubt whether the Advisory Committee will be sufficient to satisfy me. It all depends on what is their conception of life for the working class. If they are of opinion that certain articles of food should no longer appear on the working class table in the same measure as before, I will not accept them as a safeguard. Any Advisory Committee brought into being by this Government will be one with conceptions of life for the working class that will not coincide with mine. In addition there will be the question of the details from which they will require to work. I quote from the "Review" of Lloyds Bank which says in a special article in the February number:If we are to govern our economic policy by conceptions of the balance of payments, we must know with reasonable accuracy what that balance is, and a serious effort must be made to break down that secrecy which has hitherto withheld from the Department important information necessary for the calculation.It is quite possible that the Tariff Committee will have difficulty in getting authentic information from the persons they approach for guidance. If in previous years protests have been made by the Board of Trade itself to the City on account of the lack of information to allow them to anticipate the requirements of this country, the Tariff Committee is a weak prop upon which to rely. Therefore, I stress very much the point that the co-operation of all the peoples of the world, with regard to food above all else, is absolutely essential. There would be no advantage to the people of this country or to any other industrialised country in endeavouring to adopt restrictive measures. As far as food is concerned—and I take in a wide range of commodities when I refer to food—it certainly should be excluded from the scope of this Bill. I suggest that the interests of the working people of this country will be safeguarded by the House adopting the Amendment which we have placed before it.
§ Mr. ATKINSON
There are three matters of outstanding importance which supporters of the Amendment seem to forget. The first is that the taxation of food is the necessary basis for any 921 organised attempt at Imperial Preference. The development of Imperial and Empire trade is a subject to which we attach very great importance, and any movement in that direction is wholly impossible unless you have as your basis a system of taxation of foodstuffs. The second matter is that you always speak of taxing food but not of taxing foreign food, and yet the distinction is very vital. There is scarcely an article of food—I do not know of one—of which the Empire is not capable of supplying the whole of the demand. As long as you can get an adequate supply of untaxed food, it is wholly fallacious to accuse us of taxing the food of the people. It may very well be that in the course of diverting trade from a foreign country to some part of the Empire, there may be some tendency to increase prices, but a great change of this kind cannot and must not be judged by some temporary fluctuation in price. You have to take a longer view, and, if it be true that we can get a complete and adequate supply of food from our own Empire, including in the expression "Empire" our own country, it is wholly untrue to charge anyone with taxing the food of the people. The third outstanding matter is that we are promised machinery to protect the people from any exploitation in the matter of prices. What precise form it will take I do not know, but that there shall be some machinery of that kind has been promised, and, of course, is inevitable.
Something has been said about what we told our constituents. I know exactly what I said, and it was after saying it that I was returned unopposed. I said that I should be in favour of the taxation of food as the basis of Imperial development, but that I should not be in favour of the taxing of any food if it could be shown that there would not and could not be an adequate supply from the Empire. I also said that I was satisfied that there would be some machinery to protect the people from exploitation. I hear somebody muttering the word "potatoes." There is not the slightest doubt that our own country, including Ireland, of course, can supply all the potatoes that we require. I agree that at the moment there is a world shortage of potatoes, and, if something of that sort happened, it would be capable of being dealt with by your executive. Broadly speaking, except at certain abnormal 922 times, we can supply all the potatoes which we require. At certain periods of the year when you want what is really not the food of the people but the luxury of new potatoes the moment they come into the market, those potatoes can be imported. But that is not the food of the people. Broadly speaking, I am assured by those who know that there is not the slightest difficulty in normal times about our Empire supplies. But if in some exceptional circumstances there may be some article of food which we in the Empire cannot adequately supply, it ought to receive exceptional treatment. It can be shown and proved that you have no right before an ignorant people to use the glib but effective charge against your political opponents of taxing the food of the people. It is not honest.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I desire to associate myself with the Amendment, and while I cannot say that in all circumstances I should be in favour of allowing unlimited quantities of all foodstuffs to be brought into this country, I shall certainly never be in favour of exclusion. Under a system of import boards we should be able to see that food was produced under conditions which did not reduce the standards of life of the people. It is essential that foodstuffs should be safeguarded for the common people of this country. The hon. and learned Member for Altrincham (Mr. Atkinson) stated that we could take food from the Empire and that therefore there would be no exploitation of the people. He also said that machinery was to be set up to protect the interests of the consumers of this country. I am rather sceptical about the machinery which is to be set up to protect the interests of the consumers, because I believe that tariffs are designed to assist in obtaining greater profits for the producer. Therefore, we cannot have machinery giving advantages to the producers in this country and at the same time protecting the interests of the consumers in every way.
I remember going round the Ayrshire district and the north of Scotland during a period when I served on the parish council in order to visit children and mentally deficient patients boarded out on farms in the country. In the extreme north of Scotland, and everywhere we went, the old story from the farmers was, "I wish to God we could get a 923 system of tariffs. It would give us a higher price for our produce." That unquestionably is the position, coming as it does from the farmers of the country. They are not getting what they believe to be a proper price in return for their produce, and they want a higher price. If you have coming into this country foodstuffs which are produced in another country under more modern conditions which cheapen the cost of production, should we, by a system of tariffs, protect the old eighteenth century methods of farmers in this country? I say such a course would put a premium upon out-of-date methods in every shape and form and would be giving protection to people who are not entitled to protection of that kind.
A Member of the Liberal party stated this afternoon that there was a desire to protect the food of the Scottish people, and he gave as an example the question of porridge. It is rather a good thing, I agree, to give people good and nourishing food. He mentioned the question of tinned salmon, and tinned salmon, we may take it, is considered a suitable food for the working classes of this country. Salmon in its better form is altogether out of the question for the working classes of this country. I would remind him that while the tinned foods are confined to the working classes, we are interested to know where fresh salmon goes. It goes to the other class in society. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) mentioned the question of British fish, and said that he meant the fish which is caught by British seamen or British fishermen. Are we to assume that the fish which is caught by British seamen and British fishermen assumes British nationality? We shall soon be told that there are fish termed national fish which take the name from the National Government of this country. I understood that fish in the sea did not claim to have any special nationality at all. The hon. and gallant Member mentioned soles, and fish which were British in their origin and in their nationality. As far as the working classes are concerned, they are more used to red herrings coming from the National Government of this country, and fresh herrings and kippers and fish of that description than to soles.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
The hon. Member says, "And what better fish." I hope he sticks to red herrings and kippers, but I am inclined to think from what I have seen in the dining rooms here that he has not got the palate for red herrings, salt herrings or kippers. He would rather have sole and the finer fish. But it is always a good thing to come down and lecture the working classes about the value of red herrings. I think it would be better to tell them about cod, because this House is more interested in cod than it is in any other kind of fish.
I protest against the inclusion of any kind of foodstuffs in these proposals. It has been said that we are capable of producing all the potatoes which we require. It may be true. This country may be capable of producing all the potatoes which are essential for the people of this country, but I submit that at the present moment we are not doing so, that there has been a shortage throughout the country, and that the price has gone right up to 2s. and 2s. 3d. a stone because of that shortage. If you impose a duty even upon potatoes it would act in a dual way. It would raise the price of foreign potatoes which come into the homes of the people and give the farmers of this country greater opportunities for raising their prices and exploiting the common people of the country. The National Government might at least have completely exempted in every way the food of the people, because when you impose a tax upon food you mean the people to pay a higher price for the food which they consume. Every person who applies a reasonable state of mind to this question agrees that that is the object. The hon. Member with the tall hat may shake his head, but I can assure him that every person interested in the farming industry believes that if you impose tariffs—and I would rather take it from them than from the hon. Member—it will give them a higher price for their foodstuffs. It will increase the misery of the common people of this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] I am glad to hear that I am drawing blood.
The National Government of this country have applied very cunning methods in this country. They first of all made 925 cuts in wages, cuts in unemployment benefit, cuts in regard to the means test, and still they are not satisfied. They want a scientific method of further impoverishing the common people, the working-class, by adding taxes to the food which they consume. I have not the slightest doubt that if they continue to pursue the methods that they are now pursuing they can only end in one thing. They will cause in this country violence, riots, and inevitable bloodshed. They need not imagine that while they can rob all the people for some time and rob some people all the time, they are not going to rob the working classes all the time. If I were anxious for unconstitutional and violent methods to be adopted in this country I could not do better than encourage the Government to pursue the methods which they are pursuing at the present time. In the interests of common decency, in the interests of those who are down in the gutter, struggling with adversity, I protest against this additional burden of taxation upon the food of the common people. We get in this House, with all our democratic protestations, things that people do not vote for and we do not get the things that people do vote for. If in any working-class division the simple question were put to the people: "Are you or are you not in favour of tariffs being imposed on food?" an overwhelming majority of the people would reject the idea.
I say to the Government and their supporters that if under the guise of national emergency, under the guise of a crisis, with the hand of the robber they exploit the people, taking away from them the means of life, they will make a very grave mistake. I protest against the methods that are being employed, by the Government, by the smug, complacent individuals on the Government Front Bench, who are satisfied with their own position, while men and women at the bottom of the social ladder, men and women who are unemployed, whole families, have been deprived of the means of life under the hellish means test. Now the Government are going to impose upon them an additional burden which will inflict greater sufferings and hardship. Appeals are made to public authorities to give assistance and sustenance to the people who are the 926 victims of the vicious legislation and class legislation of days gone by. While that appeal is being made, and your victims can be counted by the hundreds of thousands all over the country, you are going to impose additional burdens and make worse the poverty and sufferings of the common people. I am here as an expression of the discontent of the masses of the working class against this imposition. Hon. and right hon. Members opposite are using their power and influence to club the people into the gutter. I protest against the destruction of large numbers of working class children by the imposition of tariffs, which will give additional profit to a class who have already over exploited the people.
§ Major ELLIOT
I hope that it will be possible for the discussion to come to a close, because we have been a considerable time discussing what is—
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
On a point of Order. Is the hon. and gallant Member trying to shut down the Debate? What is the hurry? It is a serious question that we are discussing. Why should he wish to curtail our right to discuss it?
§ Major ELLIOT
I was merely intimating to the House that if it was their desire to continue the discussion, I should have been unwilling to rise at this point, but I thought it was the desire of the House that the discussion should terminate. I do not wish to be discourteous to any hon. Member or to suggest that the discussion should be unduly curtailed.
§ Major ELLIOT
I do not wish to enter into discussion with the hon. Member. I do not wish to invoke his formidable powers twice in the same evening. The hon. Member, who is chairman of the committee on shorter speeches, has already addressed the House at great 927 length this afternoon. The point at issue is whether or not it is desirable specifically to exclude from the 10 per cent. ad valorem duty every kind of foodstuffs. It has been argued as if no tax had ever been placed upon any kind of foodstuffs, as if every Member of this House was specifically pledged against attempting to put any tax upon any kind of foodstuffs, and as if the tax that may be placed on foodstuffs under these proposals is of a kind that will withhold essential articles of food from the dietary of ordinary people. Let us dispose of the arguments so repeatedly made by the other side that Members on this side are pledged against any proposal to place any taxation whatever on any kind of foodstuffs. It would have been a ridiculous pledge to give, since every Parliament has drawn a substantial portion of its revenue from taxes placed on foodstuffs, not luxury foodstuffs but essential foodstuffs; foodstuffs which are used in every household. The revenue derived from the taxation of foodstuffs by the Labour Government ran into substantial sums—£13,000,000, £14,000,000 or £15,000,000 a year.
I have looked up the record of the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) and I find that on 7th July, 1930, and the 30th June, 1931, he voted in favour of higher taxes on sugar and against a reduction in the taxation on sugar, which was moved from our side of the House and voted down by Members of his party. Let us have an end of this hypocrisy. The revenues derived from taxes on articles which are eaten have been voted by every party and, as I have said, a reduction in food taxation was twice voted down by the hon. Member for Aberdare and his friends.
§ Major ELLIOT
On the 7th July, 1930, and the 30th June, 1931, when an Amendment was moved from the Opposition side of the House, just as the Amendment has been moved from the Opposition side to-day.
§ Major ELLIOT
I did not move it. I did not on that occasion occupy the 928 responsible position which the hon. Gentleman occupies with so much dignity. Let me deal with the second point, namely, that hon. Members on this side are pledged in large numbers against any suggestion of placing any tax upon foodstuffs. I will not take my evidence from my own party Press but from a newspaper which is opposed and always has been opposed to the National Government and the Members of the National Government. That newspaper, only this morning, published its examination of a series of questionnaires sent to Conservative and Labour candidates in many constituencies. In nearly all cases the questionnaire contained reference to Free Trade and food taxes. Far from getting in every case or even in a majority of eases specific pledges against food taxes, the "Manchester Guardian" says:A large number of national Conservative candidates made carefully non-commital replies.It is true that many candidates specifically, as the hon. Member for Horn-castle (Mr. Haslam) said, pledged themselves in favour of taxation upon imported foreign foodstuffs of certain kinds, and many other candidates went even further. As to the suggestion that Conservative Members gave pledges against any sort of food taxation, we have the evidence of the "Manchester Guardian" as to the result of their careful examination of the questionnaire sent out, and the evidence was quite to the contrary.
§ Major ELLIOT
The hon. Member says that they dodged the issue. Hon. Members opposite are under no misapprehension as to what is meant by a noncommittal answer on a subject so important. The, contention of hon. Members opposite is that specific pledges in every case were given by Conservative Members, otherwise they would never have been returned. That allegation is answered by the "Manchester Guardian." Two suggestions were put forward by the hon. Member for Aberdare with reference to specific Ministers. He suggested that the President of the Board of Trade had given a specific pledge against any form of taxation upon foodstuffs, whereupon the President of the Board of Trade rose in his place and denied that he had given any such pledge. He said that his pledge referred solely to wheat and meat, which 929 are not referred to in this Amendment or in this discussion. Let us hope that we have heard the last of that statement, seeing that it has been controverted by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The hon. Member is much mistaken if he imagines that everything that appears in a newspaper is gospel. I was asked specifically in my constituency by Liberal and Conservative supporters what was my attitude on this subject, and I stated quite emphatically that I was against the taxation of our staple foods. As our staple foods I mentioned specifically wheat and meat.
§ Major ELLIOT
That canard has now definitely been exposed. Let us hope that we shall hear no more about it.
§ Major ELLIOT
It was said that the Lord President of the Council had given such a pledge. The hon. Member admitted that the date of that pledge was 1928. He brought no evidence, nor could he have brought any evidence, to show that any pledge of that nature was given or adumbrated by the Lord President of the Council in the election campaign which returned him to this House. It is that election campaign which is the subject of our discussion at the present time.
I have dealt with the general accusation and also with the specific accusation brought against the President of the Board of Trade, who has disposed of it himself, and against the Lord President of the Council, who is exonerated by the date which had nothing at all to do with the last election. Therefore, I hope we have heard the last of these accusations. [Interruption.] Of course 930 hon. Members opposite can go on repeating these statements, but it only shows that they are really seeking opportunities for invective. When a statement has been repudiated on the Floor of this House it is no longer open to hon. Members honourably to make the statement again. The other point was that the difficulties of the poor are so great that they ought not to be increased in any way. The difficulties of the poor are not merely difficulties of food but of employment, and these steps must be regarded as part of a complete policy which cannot be judged by a single portion alone. The hon. Member for Aberdare said that in an answer given in this House as to the price of the 4-lb. loaf in the countries of the world, that it was lower in this country than in any other. I took the trouble to get the answer to which he referred and that story also is untrue —[interruption]—inaccurate—
§ Major ELLIOT
I am not suggesting that the hon. Member made a false statement, but I do suggest that the answer given by Miss Margaret Bondfield on the 26th January, 1931, shows that there was a lower price for the 4-lb. loaf in France, a highly protected country, than in this. If the hon. Member will follow out the list of prices he will find that the price of a loaf is highest in the highest wage countries and lowest in the low wage countries. One would expect that. In another answer he will find that the price of wheat only represents 2½d. of the price of the loaf and that the rest is made up by labour charges in handling and producing wheat.
§ Major ELLIOT
We are now discussing the price of foodstuffs, and I am producing evidence to refute the argument that Protection will raise the price of foodstuffs; they are highest in protective countries. The price of the loaf is highest in those countries which by all admission are exporting countries, Canada and the United States. Nobody suggests that the high price of bread in Canada and the United States is due to protective duties on foodstuffs. They are exporting countries, and, therefore, the question of a protective duty does not arise.
§ Major ELLIOT
In July, 1914, it was 5.5d. in Great Britain, and 6.9d. in France. In July, 1924, it was 8.7d. in Great Britain and 6.4d. in France. In July, 1930, it was 8d. in Great Britain and 7.5d. in France. There are other European countries which have a lower price for the loaf, but I am unwilling to quote them because I am not able to give chapter and verse. But that does not dispose of the argument as to the condition of the poor. We are dealing admittedly with an experiment, and as a safety line in that experiment we have omitted the great staple articles of wheat and meat. That affords us a margin against any possible rise of prices which may take place. No one knows what will take place in the present condition of the world. We have a glut of staple foodstuffs of every kind, and the fall in commodity prices may continue. No one can say. There may be a check to that process in the future. These great staple lines are exempted, and that affords us a reasonable case to say to the House that the 10 per cent. tariff should not specifically be excluded from all foodstuffs, and that a possible change over from markets where we have difficulty in trading to markets where we have facilities for trading should be applied also to foodstuffs. We cannot do that unless we are allowed to use the weapon of a tariff to influence the trend of our trade in these things. We want liberty to proceed with the experiment. It is not a case of grinding down the people of this country. The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) during his speech pointed out that tinned salmon was removed from the tables of the poor because they were unemployed or because their low wages did not enable them to purchase these articles.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The point is this, that potatoes for the poor in the division of the right hon. and gallant Member and in mine form a more important part of their food than even meat, and these proposals mean a tax on potatoes while meat is exempted.
§ Major ELLIOT
I do not wish to be drawn into a debate on the question of Protection and Free Trade, but the answer to the hon. Member can be given 932 in a sentence. We can make ourselves self-supporting in potatoes, but not in meat. The shortage in potatoes can be traced to the glut of potatoes the year before when potatoes rotted in the ground and many acres of land went out of cultivation. It is useless for hon. Members to press upon us a planned economy of one kind and then jib at every step that is taken to effect that economy. How can any planned economy be organised in those circumstances. We must examine possibilities in this country; and in potatoes it will be necessary for us to do so. There may be other articles in which it is highly desirable for us to plan and organise Protection in this country and in the countries which are willing to enter into friendly relations with us. I do not wish to raise these issues now, the rise in the standard of living, regularity and continuity of supply, a better return to the producer and the consumer, for they are one and the same person, but unless we examine these things as well it is not possible to adopt or understand the proposals for which we are attempting to get the sanction of the House to-night. We want the 10 per cent. duty to apply to a wide range, to certain foodstuffs as well as manufactured articles. We are not asking the House to adopt a new proposal because foodstuffs have been employed as a special revenue raiser for many years, and by Labour Governments as well as other Governments. For these reasons I ask the House not to tie our hands and to reject the Amendment which has been moved.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Will the right bon. and gallant Gentleman answer my question? He said that in far away countries there was a temporary glut. Is it not the case that in every country there is a glut in all the markets? Therefore, how is the 10 per cent. tariff going to affect that situation?
§ Major ELLIOT
If I may answer that question by permission of the House—is it true that at this moment there is a glut of potatoes. It is not true. That in a word answers the question.
§ Mr. LAWSON
The speech of the Financial Secretary, marked with his usual ability and courtesy, cannot have brought much consolation to his supporters who have denied that the masses of the people 933 would pay these taxes. The right hon. and gallant Member was too honest and too wise to deny that statement. The hon. Member for Horncastle (Mr. Haslam) admitted it, and told his electors that it would have the effect of raising the cost of living just a little.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. LAWSON
That will do for my purpose. The best cheer this evening from the supporters of the Government was given to the hon. and learned Member for Altrincham (Mr. Atkinson), whose whole case was that the workers would not have to pay the 10 per cent. tax because it would divert this trade to the Dominions. That seemed to bring consolation to the supporters of the Government. They seemed to overlook the crux of the matter, which is that £30,000,000 will be paid by the masses of the people on the goods mentioned in the Schedule. The Financial Secretary rather clouded that issue by dwelling upon a plan of economy, which really does not make any difference, and by admission he agrees that the workers will have to pay this tax. He talked about an increase of wages to meet it. He will probably have that problem before him before his term of office is finished. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade, with all their great abilities, are expressing a view which is representative only of a very few smug respectable people who do not care about the workers simply because they do not know them. What these two right hon. Gentlemen forget, and what the Financial Secretary forgets, is this, that if the workers are going to have taxes put upon their foodstuffs, which are going to reduce the value of their wages, there is a great danger of industrial upheavals which will unbalance the Budget. There was a time when a great statesman said that if you taxed the people indirectly you could tax the shirts off their backs and they would not know it. There may be a certain element of truth in that now, but if I know anything of the mind of the people, they understand very well that they can suffer a reduction of wages either from the employer or over the counter when they buy their food. I am very sorry that the Home Secretary has left the House. I would have liked to have asked him what he will say about 934 this proposal. I am sorry we cannot have the benefit of his wisdom in this matter. But we have the view of another Member of the Cabinet, and for what it is worth I venture to give it. He said this some years ago:What is behind this movement for protective tariffs? I speak of what I know. Evidence is coming to me in my official capacity of the truth of this statement every day. Behind this is a sinister attack up in wages. They make no secret that costs of production must come down. They are afraid to make a frontal attack on wages. Therefore, what they mean to do in this sinister way, by depreciating the real value of wages, is to increase the cost of living for the benefit of the employer.That is the real truth of the whole situation. That was a statement made by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Snowden, who, whatever Members opposite may think of his views, is still a member of the present Cabinet. I was here in 1923 when the Conservative Government broke up. The Lord President of the Council said then that in no circumstances were the Conservatives standing for taxation of food. But there were certain things that he did want to tax, and the people got it deeply in their minds that he wanted to tax food. I do not think anyone here will deny it that in the 1923–24 election the Conservatives were defeated entirely upon the ground that taxation of food was an issue.
My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) has already referred to what the Lord President of the Council wrote to the present First Lord of the Admiralty repudiating with scorn the idea that the people's food was to be taxed. He knew then quite well what reception the country would have given to the proposal. There is not a Member in the present House who dare go to his constituency this week-end and tell his people that he is in favour of the taxation of food. What hon. Members will do will be to cover it up by saying that it is necessary to save the country. They will use the Union Jack and all that sort of thing. Hon. Members may do that for a time, but they cannot do it all the time; they cannot conceal from the people what is happening. My hon. Friend mentioned the unemployed and said that there were certain articles of food, such as salmon, of which they were deprived already. Is the Chancellor of 935 the Exchequer going to make their case any better by putting a 10 per cent. tax upon this food? As a matter of fact there are people who are deprived of these things and are not unemployed.
There is one strange thing about this House. I have been here 12 years and I have never known a House so remote and detached from the life of the people as is the present House. But for that fact hon. Members opposite dare not consider proposals of this kind for a moment. In the county with which I am connected 60 per cent. of the people are getting 6s. 6d. a day, and if they have five days' work a week they are doing well. If they receive 30s. a week here for themselves and their families they are doing well. What does it mean to them to add to the cost of living upon most of the articles that they consume? Is the House aware that there are people in employment who if they can afford butter at all can afford only an inferior kind. A large proportion of the working classes of this country are in that position. For a great part of my life, as one of a working-class family, I hardly knew what butter was. It was a luxury to get some remains of bacon fat from the pan rubbed on the bread. That is the experience of a great mass of people in this country. Even the addition of a penny or twopence a day to the cost of living will deprive them of certain articles of necessity.
But take the case of the unemployed. They have already had their benefit reduced 10 per cent. Those who have had 156 days of benefit have had a second reduction on various grounds through the transition test. That means that they are paying £10,000,000. Now they have to pay the greater part of the £30,000,000. For what? Almost in advance we are told that it is in order to save the Income Tax of the middle classes. This House is far remote from the lives of the people and little understands what it is doing in supporting proposals of this kind. I believe that even a middle-class constituency like Croydon has signified already what it thinks of the Government in its reduction by 21,000 of its vote. It is true that the voters did not vote for Labour, but it is as certain that they did not vote for the policy of the Government. It would be well for the Government to heed where it is going on this all-important matter of the taxation of food. I am 936 pleased that at last a certain element of the Liberals have taken the line of supporting those of us who are fighting these taxes. None the less I think that they helped to bring about the present situation by the line that they took at the General Election.
The Government would do well to take heed of the real feelings and doings of the great mass of the people. Though the people may not have many working-class Members here to speak for them, that does not mean that they are not thinking. Behind this feeling is a very grave danger of industrial upheaval. We have the beginning of it in Lancashire. I am afraid of the indirect results of this policy. At any rate we have it quite clearly from the Government that £30,000,000 is to come from these and other taxes. The Financial Secretary has not glossed over that fact, nor did the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade. While we of the Labour party are few here and can only express ourselves by word of mouth and by a few lonely votes, the House can take it for granted that there has been no greater contribution to the downfall of this Government, be the election sooner or late, than these food taxes. But the greater thing to me is an upheaval industrially, of which there is a danger. The Federation of British Industries has made it clear that what the employers want is indirect taxation, because they cannot get a reduction of wages. Liberals who are supporting the Government in this Resolution are supporting the employers' policy for dealing effectively with the working classes by increasing the taxation upon their food.
§ Mr. G. HALL
With the leave of the House I wish to correct the Financial Secretary to the Treasury in a statement which he recently made. He complained that a statement which I had made regarding the price of bread was untrue.
§ Mr. HALL
First, that it was untrue, afterwards, that it was inaccurate. I have since obtained a copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT, and I find that on 29th April last year the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) asked the President of the Board of Trade to state 937the rate of import duty on wheat and the retail price of the 4-lb. loaf in France, Germany, Italy, United States and Canada respectively, together with the average price in Great Britain."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 29th April, 1931; col. 1640, Vol. 251.]It was not the late Mr. William Graham who replied, but Mr. W. R. Smith who was then Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, and his reply showed that on 1st April, 1931, the price per 4-lb. loaf of white bread in Great Britain and Northern Ireland was 7d.; in December, 1930, in France (Paris), 8.41d.; in Germany, July, 1930, 17.78d., and 25th March, 1931 (for rye bread), 7.71d.; in Italy at the end of December, 1930, 7.30d. to 9.42d.; in the United States, 15th January, 1931, 16.22d., and in Canada beginning of February, 1931, 12.84d. It was upon that reply that I based the statement which I made in the course of my address to the House.
§ Major ELLIOT
With the permission of the House I wish to apologise to the hon. Member. The reply on which I based my
§ statement with regard to him was, as I have said, quoted from the OFFICIAL REPORT, Volume 247. It is a long reply which was circulated by Miss Bondfield, and the figures are there as I stated them
§ Major ELLIOT
The date is 26th January, 1931, and the table given covers a somewhat larger range of years, namely, July, 1914; July, 1924, and July, 1930. I fully accept, of course, the fact that the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. Hall) was also quoting from the OFFICIAL REPORT, and, as he points out, the OFFICIAL REPORT of a later date. I quoted from a table given earlier but covering a wider range of years and coming down to July, 1930—a table which had been given by the then Minister of Labour.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 65; Noes, 285.939
|Division No. 55.]||AYES.||[8.20 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Harris, Sir Percy||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hicks, Ernest George||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Bernays, Robert||Hirst, George Henry||Maxton, James|
|Buchanan, George||Holdsworth, Herbert||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Cape, Thomas||Hopkinson, Austin||Parkinson. John Allen|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Janner, Barnett||Price, Gabriel|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jenkins, Sir William||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Daggar, George||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Devlin, Joseph||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Edwards, Charles||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Soper, Richard|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Kirkwood, David||Thorne, William James|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Lawson, John James||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Leonard, William||White, Henry Graham|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Lunn, William||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mabane, William||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||McGovern, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Mr. Groves and Mr. Gordon|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Corn'll N.)||Macdonald.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Brocklebank, C. E. R.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds,W.)||Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Brown, Ernest (Leith)|
|Albery, Irving James||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Brown, Brig.-Gen.H. C.(Berks.,Newb'y)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W,)||Bird, Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.)||Browne, Captain A. C.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Blaker, Sir Reginald||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Blindell, James||Burghley, Lord|
|Anstruther-G ray, W. J.||Boothby, Robert John Graham||Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Borodale, Viscount||Burnett, John George|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Boulton, W. W.||Cadogan, Hon. Edward|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Caine, G. R. Hall-|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Boyce, H. Leslie||Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Bracken, Brendan||Caporn, Arthur Cecil|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Carver, Major William H.|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Cassels, James Dale|
|Balniel, Lord||Broadbent, Colonel John||Castle Stewart, Earl|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Chalmers, John Rutherford||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgbaston)||Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romford)||Ramsden, E.|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Rankin, Robert|
|Christie, James Archibald||Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Clayton, Dr. George C.||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Jennings, Roland||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Remer, John R.|
|Colville, Major David John||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Rentoul Sir Gervals S.|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip|
|Copeland, Ida||Ker, J. Campbell||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Cowan, D. M.||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Kimball, Lawrence||Robinson, John Roland|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Rosbotham, S. T.|
|Crookshank, Col.C. de Windt (Bootle)||Knebworth, Viscount||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Leckie, J. A.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Denville, Alfred||Lees-Jones, John||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo|
|Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Salt, Edward W.|
|Doran, Edward||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Drewe, Cedric||Levy, Thomas||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Liddall, Walter S.||Scone, Lord|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Selley, Harry R.|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Dunglass, Lord||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Shaw, Captain William T. (Fortar)|
|Eales, John Frederick||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Ednam, Viscount||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Ellis, Robert Geoffrey||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Elliston, Captain George Sampson||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||McKie, John Hamilton||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||McLean, Major Alan||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Maitland, Adam||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Fuller, Captain A. E. G.||Marjoribanks, Edward||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Martin, Thomas B.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Templeton, William P.|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Mills, Sir Frederick||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Milne, Charles||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Milne, John Sydney Wardlaw-||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Greene, William P. C.||Mitcheson, G. G.||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Train, John|
|Grimston, R. V.||Moreing, Adrian C.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Morrison, William Shephard||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Muirhead, Major A. J.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Hales, Harold K.||Munro, Patrick||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour|
|Hartland, George A.||Nicholson, O. W. (Westminster)||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle)||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Peters'fld)||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Normand, Wilfrid Guild||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Hepworth, Joseph||Nunn, William||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Hillman, Dr. George B.||O'Connor, Terence James||Williams. Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Hope, Capt. Arthur O. J. (Aston)||Ormiston, Thomas||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Palmer, Francis Noel||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Penny, Sir George||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hornby, Frank||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Horobin, Ian M.||Petherick, M.||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bliston)|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Potter, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Captain Sir George Bowyer and|
§ Mr. T. GRIFFITHS
I beg to move, in line 5, at the end, to insert the words: 940(a) goods to he used as material in the manufacture of articles in the United Kingdom; or.941 We are now arriving at one of the most important questions, which has been discussed in this House on many occasions. It is the question of iron and steel. I very often sit down in the House and look around at the Members who represent the different constituencies in the country, and I discover that among all the membership of the House there are probably not more than from 10 to a dozen who are connected directly with this important industry, but from speeches that one has heard here one would imagine that we had about 500 experts on this industry in the House. We have the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) and the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft), who always pose as great authorities and give academical figures to prove the necessity of protecting the industry. In this Amendment we are dealing with the question of the raw materials that are used in the iron and steel industry.
The Parliamentary Secretary will remember that yesterday, after seeking him all over the House, I succeeded in getting him, with a message that the employers in the blast furnace trade in Scotland were alarmed to learn that the Government were going to impose a 10 per cent, import duty on iron ore, which is their raw material. I failed to get any satisfaction from the Parliamentary Secretary, because he told me that I should have to wait until the Bill was to be found in the Vote Office before he could give me any information. Probably all these manufacturers who are now getting alarmed about their particular industries voted for the National Government, but now, when they discover what the National Government are doing, I suppose that we shall have, in the next by-elections that may take place, reductions in votes of 10,000 or 21,000, such as we saw in the by-election yesterday, because the people are beginning to understand how they have been deceived by those who posed as representing the National Government during the last General Election. To be perfectly frank, I would rather be helpful than critical in this discussion, because I want to see my men in the steel industry back at work, but I have always claimed that 942 this is not the method by which you will get them back into work.
You have to divide the iron and steel industry into so many parts before you can understand what is the raw material and what is the finished article, and we will begin with the case from Scotland. Iron ore is the raw material of the blast; furnaces. The blast furnaces turn it into pig iron, and after they have produced that, it is their finished article, but that is the raw material for the melting department. After they have used the scrap, pig iron, and other materials in the melting shop, that becomes the raw material for the rolling mills. After the tin bars and other sections in the rolling mill have been produced, they are finished articles, but they are the raw material of the tinplate, the sheet, the wire, the tube, the sheet plate and all that kind of article. Although we call these the finished articles in the tinplate and sheet mill, they are raw materials in other industries. Tinplate, for instance, is the raw material of the canning industry. You can go on ad lib. You find that the finished article in one department is the raw material for another department of the industry.
The finished article in the steel department of the iron and steel industry is practically for home consumption, but that finished article, being the raw material of the tinplate and steel industry, is for export purposes. The majority of tinplates are exported. Galvanised sheets for farming purposes are exported to Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the world. When the Government submit any question to the Advisory Committee about their scientific tariff, we want them to take the blast furnace industry, the steel smelting Department, the mill department, the tinplate department, and the sheet department into consideration and find out whether it will be an advantage or a disadvantage to the mill re-rolling and using trades that this 10 per cent. tariff should be put on.
Some people think that the re-rolling trades, the tinplate and sheet industry are dependent on the steel industry. It is a big mistake. It is the steel industry that is dependent on the tinplate and sheet industry. They manufacture for export purposes, and once we lose our 943 neutral markets where we have to compete with America, Germany, and even Italy, who are producing galvanised sheet now, 100 or 1,000 per cent. tariff for the steel industry will be useless, because the furnaces will have to be closed down. The steel industry is dependent on the tinplate and sheet industries. If they are prosperous and successful, the steel industry will be prosperous and successful also.
The Lord President of the Council, speaking some time ago about the cotton industry, said that there were certain industries in the country for which we could establish a utility organisation, and he went so far as to say that we could nationalise them. He mentioned the railway industry, the coal-mining industry and some others, but he said that it would be impossible to nationalise the cotton industry on account of the different kinds of cotton that they produce. He pointed out that sometimes a farthing on a yard of cloth determined whether a contract was lost or not. The same applies to the tinplate industry for it is such an intricate industry. We produce about 18,000,000 boxes of tinplates annually, and sometimes, when we are competing on the Continent for an order, a penny per box decides whether we get a. contract. It can be seen, therefore, what part a 10 per cent. tariff will play in the tinplate and galvanised sheet industry.
The President of the Board of Trade sent his Parliamentary Secretary on a visit to South Wales, where he visited several works in company with my hon. Friend the Member for West Swansea (Mr. L. Jones) who is the secretary of the Steel Employers' Association. I think that it was very unfair and unjust, seeing that practically every Member from South Wales was sent to this House as a Free Trader, that the Parliamentary Secretary did not have a workman with him when he made this visit. I have no objection to my hon. Friend who accompanied him, but there ought to have been a representative of the workmen there. I do not trouble about myself, but there are any number of my officials in South Wales and officials of other societies who could have visited the works. The Parliamentary Secretary was there for two or three days and then went up to the North of England. For a man to make 944 a visit of that kind, and then to say something to the House based on what he learned in so short a visit, is absolute nonsense.
There is one question I could put to him. I saw in the Press that he had visited the Margom Works, an up-to-date plant, with their own blast furnaces and steel furnaces, and with probably the best output in South Wales—I may be wrong, but I should say so. The most important thing in connection with the production of steel is the bar mill, and in those works there is not a single bar mill—it has been sent out to Australia. Therefore the raw material must be carried miles and miles by train, involving extra charges for freight, before it can be turned into tin plate, tubes or other articles. I think the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade made a very big mistake in going to South Wales without having representatives of the men with him to point out these things.
There is another thing I would say to him. There are steel firms in South Wales who entered into an agreement to purchase a tinplate works in order to roll off their raw material—and I am not saying they did wrong. I know a firm in South Wales—and the hon. Member for West Swansea, who is the secretary of the employers' association will know it quite as well—who bought a tinplate works eight, or it may be 10, miles away. The bars, when produced, have to be loaded on to trolleys and taken to the railway; there they are loaded into trucks; freight charges for the journey of eight or 10 miles have to be paid to the railway company; and at the other end the bars have to be unloaded on to trolleys again and then taken to the tinplate works. I could take hon. Members to a steel works and a. tinplate works in Germany which are connected with each other, and show them that at the time when this raw material has only got so far as being unloaded from the trucks in South Wales, the finished article has been produced in Germany, because the steel works and the tinplate works are so close. We cannot compete in neutral markets against an equipment like that.
The steel trade in South Wales is in a deplorable state. The tinplate trade too, is, speaking from memory, working only 50 per cent. of its plant, but in 945 America, in protected America, only 36 per cent. of the tinplate plant is working. In Free Trade Wales we have a larger percentage of our plant working than they have in America, the most highly protected country in the whole world. I am simply giving information: I am not criticising, am I? I want to see my men back at work, and therefore I hope the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who is always very courteous, will take note of what I have said. If we put a point before him he will always give it his serious consideration, and in this case the Treasury will be between this House and the Advisory Committee. I hope that when the Advisory Committee are making any recommendations all the considerations I have mentioned will be taken into account, and they will weigh the question of whether a duty will be to the advantage or disadvantage of the users of any of the raw materials referred to in this Amendment. When the Bill comes on I expect I shall have something more to say upon that point.
We want to do the best we can for steel and the best we can for the sheet trade—to do the best we can for all users of the raw material in the trade. Here I would remind the House of the figures given by the President of the Board of Trade, showing that the producers of iron and steel provide employment for 80,000 people, and that the users of iron and steel provide employment for 185,000. We must take into consideration whether the 185,000 will suffer if the 80,000 get an advantage. There is the tube trade, the wire trade, the tinplate trade, and the shipping trade. I do not wish to take up time, or I might deal with the shipping trade and show the effect of reparations, and how our taking over ships from Germany crippled the sheet plate trade for about ten years. All these trades have to be taken into consideration. The plan suggested by the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation is not regarded as acceptable, and therefore another plan is to be tried, and if the Government, taking into consideration all the points which I have put before them, can produce proposals under which all sections of the industry will benefit, it will be of great advantage to the country.
§ Major ELLIOT
I do not wish to force myself on the House now, and if any other Member wishes to speak I shall be glad to give way.
§ Mr. BRIANT
I want to speak upon the effect of these proposals on unemployment and housing, because I am rather alarmed about the effect of the tax of 10 per cent. which apparently under these proposals is to be charged on raw materials in the building trade. Whatever we may say about unfair competition with English manufacturers, it is a well known fact that our country is not able to provide us with adequate timber supplies. We know that this country was denuded of trees during the War, and in those circumstances we can never expect to find the necessary timber supplies for our needs. This is not a question of competition with the Colonies, because there are certain kinds of wood which we require and which our Colonies do not produce. Take the case of soft woods. They are sawn and planed, but no one would describe that as a manufacture. In one year no less than £43,000,000 worth of wood was imported, and out of that total not more than £4,000,000 worth came from our Colonies. Therefore, it is obvious that our Colonies cannot supply that timber at the same price which the importers in this country ale now paying for it. It is not correct to say that the timber to which I refer is Russian, because an enormous amount of it comes from Sweden and the United States. The effect of a 10 per cent. duty on this raw material will be that the cost of houses will go up.
Recently the Minister of Health issued a circular urging local authorities to erect more houses to let at a rental of 10s. per week, and that circular was issued at the very time that the Government are proposing by these duties to make housing more expensive. A considerable amount of hard wood is used in this country, and that also cannot he supplied by our Colonies or by this country. The total importation of hard wood amounted last year to £18,600,000, and we can only supply about £800,000 worth. Oak is a wood which is being used more than it used to be, and of £3,000,000 worth of oak which was used in this country only some £21,000 worth came from the Colonies. From these figures it does not 947 appear that the Colonies can meet our demand for oak, because if they could they would surely have done it before now. There are certain countries which have exceptional natural facilities for producing certain kinds of wood which other countries do not possess, and if you are to place a tax of 10 per cent. on timber, which means 15 per cent. in the end, you will increase the cost of building houses very materially. The same principle applies to other raw materials besides wood.
I hope the Government will realise the difficulties which these duties may impose upon certain industries in which cheap raw material is very vital to employment in this country. I would like to ask if the exceptions will be fixed for a certain period. I would also like to know if the list of exceptions can be added to without applying to the House of Commons. I am sure that the list of exceptions will not be out for 48 hours before thousands of people will come forward asking for things to be put on the list. They will be quite right in doing so, because the articles to be taxed may be the raw materials of certain industries. I think that is a very important point. If it will be necessary to come to the House every time further exceptions are asked for, then farewell to having any more articles added to the list of exceptions. I would like to know what the Government intend to do in this connection.
§ Major ELLIOT
I would like to respond now to the appeal which has been made by hon. Members for information on certain points. I make no pretence to be an industrial expert in regard to the great manufacturing industries of this country, and it does not become any of us to pontificate upon any subject in the presence of those who have devoted their lives to it. Many of us feel a little in difficulties when we know that there are men sitting in the House who know a great deal more about the subject than we know ourselves. That is not confined to any one section of the House, and I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade will be the last person to dogmatise about the iron and steel industry from the knowledge which he gained from a tour of the great 948 iron and steel-producing centres of this country. I think everyone will agree that it is a good thing that Ministers should familiarise themselves with the conditions of the great centres for which they have to legislate, and I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary will not presume upon his knowledge especially in regard to the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. T. Griffiths).
The hon. Member for Pontypool asked me a specific question which I will try to answer. He asked: Will the Advisory Committee, in recommending duties under this scheme, take into account not merely the industry affected but the whole range of industries which use the raw material? I can give the hon. Member an assurance on the authority of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that that will be so, because the right hon. Gentleman said on the 4th February last:In making their recommendations, they will be instructed to have regard to the advisability, in the national interest, of restricting imports into the United Kingdom, and they must also consider the general interests of trade and industry, including the interests of the trades which are consumers as well as those which are producers of goods."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th February, 1932; col. 290, Vol. 261.]The details must be left to the administration, but the instructions are there, and, still more, the intention is there. I respond to the atmosphere of the speech of the hon. Member for Pontypool in his desire to find employment for his men. It is acknowledged now that we have passed from the moral issue of the food taxes to the business proposition whether the country will be advantaged by the duties which we propose to levy. The desire of all parts of the House is to see that the industries of the country draw the maximum advantage. Hon. Members will not expect me to go into the details of the tinplate industry or of other industries.
The great question of raw material has to be considered from two points of view: as to what is a raw material, and whether we are justified in levying duties on anything coming into this country under any conditions at all. There are some who say that all taxation should be simple and direct, according to the income of the particular person concerned, and that indirect taxation is totally indefensible. That is not an argument which is upheld by any except the 949 most extreme theorists, and it is not, I understand, advanced to-day.
Let me call attention to two points which the Chancellor of the Exchequer made in his speech with regard to the necessity of restricting imports into this country, and let me bring the House back to the argument as to the balance of trade. If it be true that there is no such problem, then, indeed, these proposals are unnecessary, and, possibly, injurious. [Interruption.] That is a point upon which we are deeply at variance. It is accepted by a great many people, including many economists, that the way to deal with the problem is that which was frankly stated to the House by the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps), namely, to deal with it simply and solely by allowing the exchange to sink to any point that might be necessary. That method, however, would, it seems to us on this side of the House, bring far greater evils upon the people of this country than an attempt to regulate and check, not merely the currency, but the flow of goods, upon which, as we all agree, the currency depends.
I am not going to argue the whole question of the balance of trade upon its merits, but it will be agreed by all that there are two definite schools of thought, and neither side has a right to throw abuse at the other. We believe that it is vitally necessary that the balance of trade should be adjusted, and that a restriction of imports into this country should be imposed, not merely by the automatic effect of the depreciated exchange, but also by certain voluntary and planned acts such as we propose to the House. That is because we believe that if trade, and especially international trade, is subjected to violently fluctuating exchanges, more harm is thereby done to trade than by any specific duties that may be imposed. Consequently, these proposals must be taken as an attempt towards the stabilisation of the currency. Those who do not believe that the currency should be stabilised will vote against the proposals, and those who do believe that the currency should be stabilised will vote for them. That is our justification for levying duties upon goods which, it is true, are used in further processes in this country. The Amendment goes far beyond the simple definition of 950 raw materials. It suggests that there should be exemption in the case of any material which is used in the manufacture of articles in the United Kingdom. On that point I do not suppose that the proposers of the Amendment really expect, or, indeed, desire, that it should be accepted, because I cannot imagine any goods, except, perhaps, certain goods used in housing, which could not be defined as goods that were to be used as material in the manufacture of articles in the United Kingdom.
§ Major ELLIOT
That question alone would provide fertile material for the hon. and learned Gentleman to work upon in the courts, but we do not regard it as a raw material which it is advisable to introduce into this country. The raw material for legal cases is the least advisable of all raw materials, and we propose to exclude it as rigidly as possible. Therefore, I do not advise the House to accept this Amendment, but would rather ask that it should be resisted strenuously. I do not think that the Amendment would deal with many of the articles used in housing to which the hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. Briant) has referred. I do not think that completed doors would he excepted under this Amendment—
§ Mr. BRIANT
I was not referring to the ready-made door, which is a controversial matter, but to the timber which is necessary for making the door.
§ Major ELLIOT
As I have said, I do not wish the House to embark upon definitions which would only afford material for legal cases of a long and very expensive kind. We adopt the theory of the balance of trade; we adopt the theory of the necessity for some reduction of the great flood of imports into this country for which, as we believe has been shown, the country was not fully able to pay. Therefore, we adopt the principle of a general brake upon imports, and this is part of the policy of the brake. We believe that by means of alternative sources of supply we can ensure that no undue rise in prices can take place, and the Committee, under the scheme, will be instructed to take the interests of the users as well as the producers fully into account.
951 The only other question is whether one is entitled to lay any duty at all upon raw materials. In this country duties have been levied upon raw materials, and by Labour Governments as well as by Conservative and, indeed, Liberal Governments. What better example of a raw material could there be than fuel? The indispensable fuel imported into this country is struck by a terrific duty, and a duty which was increased by the Government of which the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol formed so distinguished an ornament. Upon this raw material, petrol, they increased the duty very greatly; they raised an enormous revenue from the duty upon this raw material. Is it not a, raw material? Is it not used by the poor—by the poorest of the poor? Does it not enter into their transport costs—their omnibus fares—and is it not, therefore, a direct levy upon the wages of the poorest of the poor? It is folly to suggest that at the present time you can isolate any item in our complicated modern civilisation and say that it does not in some way or other enter into the cost of living of the poor, and even of the poorest of the poor; and, as I have said, this tax on fuel, levied with great delight by a Labour Government, and, indeed, reinforced by the strict limitation of production of the alternative fuel which is produced at home, forms a very good example of a duty upon a raw material which enters into every kind of manufacturing process. and closely affects the cost of living and the value of wages.
I suggest to the House, therefore, that it should not accept this Amendment, but that it should leave the 10 per cent. duty for the present to he levied upon a wide range of imports, subject to the free list, of which the House will not expect me to give particulars. I admit that it is an eagerly anticipated revelation, affording opportunities for junior Ministers to make great reputations for themselves for the time being by giving away secrets which are the property of their chiefs; but those reputations do not last long, arid they do not add to the reputation for discretion which junior Ministers desire to possess. I would ask the House to possess its soul in patience, to damp as far as possible its zeal for discussion, and to pass these Resolutions, when it will be 952 possible for us to have the Bill printed and introduced to the House. Then, and only then, will the Budget be opened and these eagerly anticipated secrets be revealed, and, what is more important, the anxieties from which many people are suffering be relieved.
§ Mr. BRIANT
Could the right hon. and gallant Gentleman give me an answer to my question as to whether it will be possible to add to the list of exemptions without again coming to this House?
§ Major ELLIOT
That is obviously one of the details of the Bill, and I must ask the House to wait for information regarding it. It was not through discourtesy that I omitted to answer that question, but merely because I do not wish to be pressed any further on the point.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I had not intended to speak on this Amendment, but the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's careful evasion of the whole point at issue makes me desire to say a few words to the House. Apart from the example of petrol, which he claimed had been taxed, and the tax upon which may or may not have been a good thing, but which is not used as a raw material out of which to manufacture other articles for export, except a small range of chemical articles, I want to ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman whether it is not a fact that the tariff on articles which are raw materials is designed as a. revenue tariff and nothing more? He does not suggest, I imagine, that the 10 per cent. tariff is designed to keep out of this country raw materials required for the manufacture of articles. He seems to have forgotten that the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that these tariffs were to be used for two purposes—first to diminish imports and secondly, to encourage exports. Certainly we are unable to understand the precise process of the encouragement of exports which takes place when you tax the raw material out of which the export is manufactured. It seems to us that, if you are going to put a tax on the raw material when it comes into this country, you are not going to assist the exporter to keep his foreign markets, where there are often very narrow margins. I cited an instance last night. May I remind the right hon. Gentleman of the case I was then dealing with. 953 It is of great importance as regards a number of oilseed millers in this country. The seed-crushing industry here is entirely dependent on supplies from abroad. In no circumstances, of course, can we get supplies of any quantity from this country.
§ Major ELLIOT
The hon. and learned Gentleman will admit that there are great sources of supplies within the Empire.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I am not dealing with the Empire, but with imports altogether. The industry is bound to import its raw material. As a matter of fact, it imports a large quantity of its raw material not from the Empire but from foreign countries—that is the natural flow of the tide of imports—and it is in keen competition with foreign manufacturers. The manufacturers believe, no doubt accurately, that if this 10 per cent. is put on to their raw material it will have two effects. First of all, it will kill their exports in competitive markets abroad, because it will lead to a rise, and secondly as regards farmers who arc, growing meat—meat is not going to be protected under this Bill—they will have to pay an increased price for their feeding stuffs, their cake, and so on, as the result of the tax on the importation of the raw material, and they will not get any benefit from Protection as regards the manufactured article which they produce. I ask the right hon. Gentleman: Is that going to assist the agriculturist? Is it either going to assist exports or agriculture? Merely to say that the intention is to decrease imports and, therefore, the duty must be spread over everything is to miss the whole point of the really material question, which is: Is this going to damage exports and
§ thereby do away with the good which is obtained in other fields, as he suggests, by restricting imports?
§ Mr. D. MASON
I have here a report from Lancashire with reference to the imposition of an emergency tariff on a particular class of cotton goods. They are sent over to Switzerland to be embroidered and, when they come back, they are liable to a 50 per cent. duty. May I ask the Financial Secretary to bear that in mind, because, obviously, the Customs have already made some concession in not charging the 50 per cent. provided the same goods go to Switzerland and then come back to Lancashire. Sometimes goods are sold direct to the Continent and again imported, and they have to bear that 50 per cent. duty.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir D. Herbert)
I gather that the hon. Member is asking a question about matters which are not dealt with in the Resolution at all.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member is talking, I understand, about a 50 per cent. duty. There is no 50 per cent. duty in the Resolution.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member must wait until the development comes before he can discuss it.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 56; Noes, 278.957
|Division No. 56.]||AYES.||[9.23 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Kirkwood, David|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George|
|Batey, Joseph||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Lunn, William|
|Bernays, Robert||Grundy, Thomas W.||Macdonald, Gordon (lnce)|
|Briant, Frank||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Buchanan, George||Hall. George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||McGovern, John|
|Cape, Thomas||Harris, Sir Percy||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Corn'll N.)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Hicks, Ernest George||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Hirst, George Henry||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Daggar, George||Holdsworth, Herbert||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hopkinson, Austin||Maxton, James|
|Edwards, Charles||Jenkins, Sir William||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Price, Gabriel|
|Fool, Dingle (Dundee)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)||Tinker, John Joseph||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Salter, Dr. Alfred||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||White, Henry Graham||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Soper, Richard||Williams, David (Swansea, East)||Mr. Groves and Mr. Duncan Graham.|
|Thorne, William James||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Lindsay, Noel Ker|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Ellis, Robert Geoffrey||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest|
|Albery, Irving James||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Llewellin, Major John J.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lloyd, Geoffrey|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Essenhigh, Reginaid Clare||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Lyons, Abraham Montagu|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Fraser, Captain Ian||MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Fuller, Captain A. E. G.||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Ganzonl, Sir John||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||McLean, Major Alan|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Glossop, C. W. H.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Macmillan, Maurice Harold|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Gower, Sir Robert||Maitland, Adam|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Bird, Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Greene, William P. C.||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Marjoribanks, Edward|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Grimston, R. V.||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Hales, Harold K.||Mills, Sir Frederick|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Milne, Charles|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Milne, John Sydney Wardlaw-|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hanley, Dennis A.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Mitcheson, G. G.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hartland, George A.||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
|Brown,Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks.,Newb'y)||Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Headlam, Lleut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)|
|Burghley, Lord||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Morrison, William Shephard|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Hepworth, Joseph||Muirhead, Major A. J.|
|Burnett, John George||Hillman, Dr. George B.||Munro, Patrick|
|Calne, G. R. Hall-||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Nail, Sir Joseph|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Nation, Brigadier-General J.J.H.|
|Campbell, Rear-Adml, G. (Burnley)||Hope, Capt. Arthur O. J. (Aston)||Nicholson, O. W. (Westminster)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Normand, Wilfrid Guild|
|Carver, Major William H.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Nunn, William|
|Cassels, James Dale||Hornby, Frank||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Castle Stewart, Earl||Horobin, Ian M.||Ormiston, Thomas|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Chalmers, John Rutherford||Howard, Tom Forrest||Penny, Sir George|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Hewitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Perkins, Waiter R. D.|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Petherick, M.|
|Christie, James Archibald||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bliston)|
|Clayton, Dr. George C.||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Potter, John|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Powell, Lieut.-Col, Evelyn G. H.|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romford)||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Colville, Major David John||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Pybus, Percy John|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western isles)|
|Cook, Thomas A.||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Copeland, Ida||Jennings, Roland||Ramsden, E.|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Crookshank, Col. C.de Windt (Bootle)||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Remer, John R.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Rentoul Sir Gervals S.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Ker, J. Campbell||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Cross, R. H.||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Knatchbuil, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Denville, Alfred||Knebworth, Viscount||Robinson, John Roland|
|Dickle, John P.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Rosbotham, S. T.|
|Donner, P. W.||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Doran, Edward||Leckie, J. A.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Draws, Cedric||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Lees-Jones, John||Runciman, Rt. Hon, Walter|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Dunglass, Lord||Levy, Thomas||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Liddall, Walter S.||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Salt, Edward W.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Savery, Samuel Servington||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Warrender, Sir victor A. G.|
|Scone, Lord||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Selley, Harry R.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Strauss, Edward A.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Strickland, Captain W. F.||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Tate, Mavis Constance||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Simmonds, Oliver Edwin||Templeton, William P.||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Unv., Belfast)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Skelton, Archibald Noel||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||Thorp, Linton Theodore||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-In-F.)||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)||Worthington, Dr, John V.|
|Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Somervell, Donald Bradley||Train, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Turton, Robert Hugh||Lord Erskine and Mr. Blindell.|
|Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I beg to move, in line 5, at the end, to insert the words:(a) goods of the same class or description as goods produced in the United Kingdom under conditions which do not conform to the Fair Wages Resolution of this House; orAs I have listened to most of the Debate which has taken place on these Resolutions, I want to make it clear, in the first place, that the main arguments in favour of tariffs always used in this House up to the advent of the present Government seem to have been based on the desire for more employment and better wages for mir workers. I have heard Motions moved from the Tory benches in more than one Parliament in the last few years in favour of tariffs, and the central argument on every Motion was that this country ought to adopt a Protectionist policy in order to secure a. high rate of wages and a decent standard of employment for our workpeople. That was the basis of practically every Motion in favour of tariffs moved in this House in the past. The Tory Protectionist party in this House has now changed its line of argument. In fact, hardly a word about the wages of our workpeople has been uttered in the whole of the discussion on these Resolutions. We have heard that tariffs may be used for revenue purposes, for balancing imports and exports, to give us power to bargain with other tariff countries, and to prohibit luxury imports. There has hardly been a word from that side of the House however about the wages of the workpeople as they would be adversely affected by these tariffs.
The Amendment I am moving raises the whole problem as to what is going to happen to the conditions of employment of our workpeople when this tariff system is in force. It is not sufficient, in our view, merely to argue that our exports 958 ought to be increased, and that our imports should decline. That suggestion probably may be taken for granted by hon. Members on the other side. What is the use of creating more employment—which is a very doubtful proposition under tariffs anyhow—if the standard of comfort of the workpeople is reduced by the process? Suppose that as a result of this system of tariffs every unemployed man and woman in this land was occupied to the full for a 48-hour week and that their wages were reduced by 50 per cent. as a consequence. I do not think any Member on this side would welcome a system that would bring about that result, but it is quite possible that it may be so.
The purpose of my Amendment is to say, in effect, that if an industry is not paying decent wages, and observing trade union conditions, it does not deserve to be protected by a, tariff at all. Let us see. It is argued by those who agree with the proposal to set up a tariff ring round the whole of this country, that the workpeople will naturally get better conditions of employment. All the arguments that were employed in regard to the Safeguarding of Industries Act were used definitely for the purpose, not only of safeguarding the industries concerned, but also of safeguarding the conditions of employment in those industries. I say very definitely, after having caused some inquiries to be made, that, apart from the motor industry, it can be proved by statistics that just in proportion that Safeguarding was given to certain industries in this country under the Safeguarding of Industries Act did the wages of the workpeople decline. I have given the figures to this House before, but they are worth while repeating. In the Sheffield cutlery trade, after five years of 959 Safeguarding, the ordinary wage of an adult woman employed in that industry is 23s. a week. Consequently, those of us who belong to the trade union movement are very apprehensive as to what is going to happen, not only to trade, banking, insurance and commerce, but to the standard of life of the people employed in the workshops covered by these proposed tariffs.
I should imagine that if we were going to adopt a scientific tariff we ought to ban some of those imports of which we hear so much complaint—the sweated articles which are said to be coming into this country. We ban obscene literature and we ban by law the products of foreign prisons. If the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill is so desirous of seeing a scientific tariff carried out to the letter, there is no reason why he should not put a complete ban on some of those sweated goods. I am not saying that I agree with that policy, but that, I should imagine, ought to be the natural consequence of his actions.
As I have said, the working people of this country have already had a taste of a form of tariffs under the Safeguarding of Industries Act. I will give the House one or two figures showing the effect of a tariff system upon the wages of the workpeople of other countries. I am not going to take the wages paid as such, but the real value of wages. It is worth while seeing what has actually happened in relation to wages in tariff countries as compared with our own country, which is a Free Trade country. The latest figures which I can get are for 1928, and I will try to show how much more advantageous it is for workmen to live in Free Trade Great Britain than it is to live in tariff countries on the continent of Europe in particular. Taking the figure for London as 106 in the real value of wages, we have Berlin at 75, Brussels 52, Lodz 43, Paris 61, Prague 49, Rome 45, Vienna 47 and Warsaw 41. That is to say, that in Free Trade Great Britain the workman is at least twice as well off in the real value of his wages as he would be if he lived in Warsaw or Vienna.
§ Mr. DAVIES
The hon. Gentleman seems to know more than the Inter-national Labour Office. That is where I got those figures from.
§ Mr. DAVIES
If the hon. Gentleman will pardon me, these figures are taken from the Encyclopedia Britannica —[Laughter]. The Labour party did not write the Encyclopedia Britannica, neither did the Russians. I was always under the impression that one of the editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica used to be a Tory Member of this House. The figures were secured, as stated, from the International Labour Organisation, and surely Members of this House, to whichever party they may belong, must accept the figures of that organisation. The International Labour Organisation, after all, is an association of governments and not of Labour parties. I should imagine that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Resolution to-night will agree with me when I say that it is the best information we can get anywhere of the standard of life of the working people of the various countries.
My Amendment relates, of course, to the Fair Wages Clause of this House of Commons. The Clause is very often forgotten, but it is one which lays down very definitely that Government contracts in particular shall be regulated by a fair wage provision, and that municipalities as well shall carry out what is regarded as a fair wages agreement in respect of all their workpeople. What we are trying to do in the Amendment is to ask that if the Government and the House decide that it is a good thing to protect certain industries by means of a tariff it should decline to safeguard those industries in which our own people are sweated even worse than workpeople are sweated abroad. I hope that I have made the point clear, because the wording of the Amendment may not appear so clearly to hon. Gentlemen.
In the discussion this evening the steel industry has been mentioned. I do not know anything at all about that industry, but I have looked up figures relating to it. Let us assume for a moment that the Government are going to protect the iron and steel industry. I make no secret at all of the fact that although I am a Socialist, I am a Free Trader as well. Whether we have a Socialist state, a Communist state or any other political state, that state must have a fiscal system, and, for my part, for the pur- 961 poses of this country, I prefer a Free Trade fiscal system to Protection. Let us see how the workman looks at the problem of tariffs and Free Trade. lie says to himself, "If we are going to have Protection in this country, will it bring about the same adverse results in regard to wages as it has brought in foreign lands?" Take the steel smelter. In Great Britain, according to the latest figures, the average wage of the steel smelter is £3 a week, in Germany, £2 10s. l1d., in France, 37s., and in Belgium, 35s. 5d.
§ Mr. DAVIES
I am coming to that point. The argument of the Protectionist is that he wants Protection in this country in order to raise the wages of our workpeople, and yet he complains, on the other hand, that wages are too low in the countries which are protected already. The right hon. Gentleman opposite is looking at me with suspicion. I do not quite understand why he should do so. There are now two right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Bench. It is a wonderful combination—a united Government. They are putting a bit of backbone into the united front as it were. That is what they are doing tonight, apparently. The working man, as I said, views the problem of Protection very largely from the point of view of wages, and we desire the Amendment to he carried in order to make sure that the Government shall give some guarantee that when industries are protected, the wages of the workpeople at the same time shall be protected as well.
Let me say, in passing, that I am connected very closely with shop and office life. I sat on a Select Committee for some time, as did other hon. Members, inquiring into the conditions of labour in shops and offices, and I was ashamed to learn of the very terrible conditions that are in existence, especially in relation to young persons employed in the distributive trades. I was informed on good authority that in some of the trades in this country the hours of employment of young persons are now as long as they were 40 years ago. I should be unwilling to sit in this House without raising my voice to try to achieve something in this respect on behalf of the 962 workers, and to ensure that if industrialists, traders, bankers and insurance companies are going to be benefited by the tariff system, then the working classes ought to have some protection behind these tariff walls that are to be set up. I do not believe in tariffs, but we have to accept the fact that this Government are determined on their tariff policy.
The working people of this country have had experience not only of the Safeguarding of Industries Act but of what has been done by way of a subsidy in the sugar beet industry. There are many examples of how profits can mount up behind a subsidy, a tariff or protection of some kind given by the State. While some employers so protected are able to make huge profits, the workpeople are at the same time screwed down in their rates of wages. My Amendment seeks to provide that the Government shall not give the protection of a tariff to any industry where the employer engages people under sweated conditions.
§ Mr. McENTEE
I beg to second the Amendment.
I would draw attention to the statements that have been repeatedly made by hon. Members with reference to the conditions of the working classes. They always profess that their principal desire is to raise the standard of living of the working classes and to maintain the standard if it is a reasonable one. Here is an opportunity to give some proof of the professions that they repeatedly make. The purpose of the Amendment is to refuse to give protection by means of a tariff to any manufacturer who refuses to give proper protection for his work-people, and deliberately sweats them. If there is anything at all in the professions of hon. Members opposite, I cannot imagine how they can oppose the Amendment. When the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) was giving figures relating to the wages paid in this country and in protected countries, there was an interjection from hon. Members. He mentioned the low wages in protected countries, and hon. Members interjected: "How can we compete against that?" The implication is that because those wages are low in protected countries and ours are comparatively high our workers cannot compete against the low-wage countries and, presumably, the desire of hon. Members would be to re- 963 duce the standard of our wages to that which prevails in the low-wage countries. [Hon. MEMBERS: "No."] Obviously, there is no other interpretation to be put upon the remark of hon. Members. If there was an alternative, it could only be that it is their desire to maintain the high standard of wages in this country by some means or other. If that be so, surely they must be compelled to admit that where the standard in this country is proved to be low and is a sweated standard, they ought to support our Amendment in order to prevent any kind of protection being given to the sweated industries. That is the logic of the position.
It has been the policy of successive Governments for as many years as I can remember to maintain through their fair wages clause a decent standard of life for the workpeople engaged on Government contracts. As far as Government Departments can influence local authorities they have influenced them in that direction. It is a well-known fact that in almost every contract that local authorities enter into there is a fair wages clause which relates not only to the wages paid but to the general conditions in the trade, including the hours of labour. Considering the action of successive Governments and of local authorities in regard to the fair wages clause, what objection can there be to the Government accepting our Amendment and saying to the employers in the industries where the workers are deliberately sweated: "We will not give to you the same protection that we propose to give to decent industries"? If the Government have any desire to be logical in their general attitude towards the workers they ought to impose upon others the same conditions that they have imposed upon themselves in regard to the fair wages clause in contracts.
When any industry asks for protection, why should they not say: "We are perfectly willing to give you protection, but we have a right to expect from you that you shall give to your workers the conditions that prevail generally in your industry, and as we have a fair wages clause in all our contracts we insist that before we give you the protection for which you ask you shall give to your workers a standard of living at least as 964 high as that which has been set by the Government, not only through the instrumentality of the fair wages clause but through the trade boards that have been set up." If it was not a Conservative Government, it was a Liberal Government that instituted trade boards in sweated industries in order to bring about something like decent conditions. Here is an opportunity to carry that policy a litle further by saying to the industries requiring protection: "We will give you the protection of a tariff provided you give us a pledge that you will raise the standard of living to the people in your employ." That is not an unreasonable request, and I hope the Government will accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) suggested that I was looking upon him with suspicion. It was not suspicion I expressed but bewilderment. I confess that I had some difficulty in understanding the argument by which he supported his Amendment. As to the desire of the Government to benefit the workers by these proposals the hon. Member is mistaken in saying that there has been no allusion to that aspect of the proposals from this side of the House. The Lord President of the Council devoted a considerable part of his speech to the great desire of the working classes to obtain more employment. If you can increase employment you are going to increase earnings—
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Yes, necessarily. If you increase employment you must increase the earnings. I go further, and I say that you cannot get out of industry more than there is in the industry. If you want to raise the wages of the workers the safest way is to make industry more prosperous than it is today. What is the effect of the Amendment? The hon. Member says that where an industry is paying sweated wages, although that word does not occur in the Amendment, it is not to have protection. In other words, you are to allow the produce of sweated wages to come in and still further reduce the wages of an industry which is already unable to pay decent wages to its workpeople: That is a topsy-turvy argument. If it is the desire of the hon. Member to im- 965 prove the wages of the workers by Government interference then this is not the place in which it should be done. There has been a good deal of legislation to protect workers in sweated industries. There are a large number of trade boards in existence, and I very much doubt whether trade unions themselves would unanimously endorse a proposition of this kind, the effect of which must be still further to depress those industries which are less able to pay good wages to their workpeople. The Amendment says that protection is not to be given to industries which do not observe the fair wages clause of the House of Commons. The fair wages clause provides that wages and conditions should be not less favourable than those which prevail in the industry in question; that
§ is, whether the wages are high or low as long as they are the wages prevailing in that industry the industry is conforming to the fair wages clause. Therefore, in that form the Amendment would be entirely ineffective from the hon. Member's own point of view.
§ Mr. McENTEE
The Fair Wages Clause does not say exactly what the right hon. Gentleman has indicated, but that if there is no agreement between employers and employed to determine wages it shall be the rate of similar industries or similar types of workmen.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 43; Noes, 293.967
|Division No. 57.]||AYES.||[10.0 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hicks, Ernest George||Maxton, James|
|Batey, Joseph||Hirst, George Henry||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Briant, Frank||Holdsworth, Herbert||Price, Gabriel|
|Buchanan, George||Jenkins, Sir William||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Thorne, William James|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Kirkwood, David||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|Daggar, George||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lawson, John James||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Edwards, Charles||Leonard, William||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Lunn, William|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Mr. Groves and Mr. Duncan|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||McGovern, John||Graham.|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Brown,Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks., Newb'y)||Denville, Alfred|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Browne, Captain A. C.||Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert|
|Albery, Irving James||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Donner, P. W.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Burghley, Lord||Drewe, Cedric|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Duckworth, George A. V.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Burnett, John George||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Caine, G. R. Hall.||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Dunglass, Lord|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)||Eastwood, John Francis|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Edge, Sir William|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Carver, Major William H.||Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Cassels, James Dale||Ellis, Robert Geoffrey|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Castle Stewart, Earl||Elliston, Captain George Sampson|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Elmley, Viscount|
|Balniel, Lord||Chalmers, John Rutherford||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgbaston)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Christie, James Archibald||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blk'pool)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Clayton, Dr. George C.||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)|
|Bird, Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.)||Colfox, Major William Philip||Foot, Dingle M. (Dundee)|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Colville, Major David John||Fremantle, Lleut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Borodale, Viscount||Conant, R. J. E.||Fuller, Captain A. E. G.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Cook, Thomas A.||Ganzonl, Sir John|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Copeland. Ida||Gillett, Sir George Masterman|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Craven Ellis. William||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Glossop, C. W. H.|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Crooke, J. Smedley||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Cross, R. H.||Graves, Marjorie|
|Greene, William P. C.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Grimston, R. V.||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Russell, Hamer Field (Shef'ld, B'tside)|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||McCorquodale, M. S.||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo|
|Hales, Harold K.||McKie, John Hamilton||Salmon, Major Isidore|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||McLean, Major Alan||Salt, Edward W.|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Hanbury, Cecil||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||Maitland, Adam||Scone, Lord|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Seiley, Harry R.|
|Hartland, George A.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle)||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Marjoribanks, Edward||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Hepworth, Joseph||Martin, Thomas B.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unv.,Belfast)|
|Hillman, Dr. George B.||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Smiles, Lieut.-Col, Sir Walter D.|
|Hope, Capt. Arthur O. J. (Aston)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-In-F.)|
|Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Mills, Sir Frederick||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Hopkinson, Austin||Mitcheson, G. G.||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Hornby, Frank||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Horobin, Ian M.||Moreing, Adrian C.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Horshrugh, Florence||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Howard, Tom Forrest||Morrison, William Shepherd||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Muirhead, Major A. J.||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Munro, Patrick||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Nall, Sir Joseph||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Nicholson, O. W. (Westminster)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Normand, Wilfrid Guild||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romford)||Nunn, William||Templeton, William P.|
|Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Ormiston, Thomas||Thompson, Luke|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Palmer, Francis Noel||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Jennings, Roland||Penny, Sir George||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Petherick, M.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,Bliston)||Train, John|
|Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Pickering, Ernest H.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Potter, John||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Kerr, Hamilton W.||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Kirkpatrick, William M.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Knebworth, Viscount||Ramsden, E.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Rankin, Robert||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Rea, Walter Russell||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Leckie, J. A.||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Lees-Jones, John||Remer, John R.||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Renwick, Major Gustav A.||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Levy, Thomas||Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Liddall, Walter S.||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Lindsay, Noel Ker||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Robinson, John Roland||Womersley, Walter James|
|Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Ropner, Colonel L.||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Llewellin, Major John J.||Rosbotham, S. T.|
|Llewellyn-Janes, Frederick||Ross, Ronald D.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Mr. Blindell and Major Davies.|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
Third Resolution read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ Mr. ATTLEE
We do not intend to divide the House on this question, not that we are not opposed to it root and branch, but the Government have given an extraordinarily short time for such an important matter as this, and we want to make the fullest use of it. There is one question that I would ask. It was 968 raised in Debate yesterday and we had no reply either from the Lord President of the Council or from the President of the Board of Trade. It is on the very important matter of the re-export trade. Is anything to be done for constituting free ports in this country? Speaking as a representative of a riverside constituency in London, I can say that the matter is a very important one to us in the East End. It is very important to City interests in London, Liverpool and 969 other ports. There is the gravest danger that our re-export trade will go away to the Continent, to cities that have free ports, unless something is done. I hope the President of the Board of Trade will give us sonic enlightenment and not ask us to wait until the Bill is produced.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The question is a very proper one and I need hardly tell the hon. Member that we have been thinking a good deal about the machinery by which we shall be able to safeguard these re-export trades. We cannot embark on a system of what is called free ports in the continental sense. The whole of the geography and arrangements of our ports have grown up under another system. We cannot copy the system of the Continent, where new ports have been constructed specially for the purpose. We are making arrangements, and the Customs are giving their attention to the matter now, whereby premises will be provided so that goods can pass through transhipment without undue delay and we shall be able to handle that re-export traffic and the entrepot trade without any undue hampering of those who are engaged in it.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
Will that include arrangements for being able to break bulk Hitherto the conveniences have been such as to make it very difficult to break bulk.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I recognise the difficulty that might arise. I hope that we shall be able to deal with cases of that kind as well, but at the present moment I do not feel prepared to give a full account of the means by which we hope to attain the end which the hon. Gentleman has in mind.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
Will there be facilities for the display of goods? The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as anyone the tremendous sale of foreign goods in our principal ports. Merchants come here 'from all parts of the world, mainly to buy British goods, but they are accustomed to get the rest of their requirements at the same time. I assume that the present facilities in London, which are very expensive, will be largely applied to other ports. Will facilities be given for drawbacks? A real inconvenience has been the very inadequate provision for drawbacks. When we come 970 to these duties I am afraid that a tremendous amount of trade will be diverted from London to Hamburg. [An HON. MEMBER: "No!"] I want enlightenment from the President of the Board of Trade. We do not want the trade centre of the world to be diverted from London to Hamburg or some other continental port. London is going through a very lean time at present. The port is amazingly disorganised. Up to quite recent months the trade of London was going steadily ahead, and in spite of world-wide depression, and the decline of Liverpool and most of the continental ports, the Port of London was holding its own extraordinarily. Whether owing to the Abnormal Importations Duties, or the lack of facilities for drawbacks—whatever the cause may be—a depression has just set in and the Port of London has very heavy interest charges, new docks having been built. There is the danger of losing that magnificent re export trade and drawback trade to which I have referred unless full facilities are given, not merely for the period of storage in bond—because in London we have always had those facilities on a large scale—but for the extension of drawbacks to all the goods which are to be subject both to the Abnormal Importations Duty and also the 10 per cent. duty.
§ Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT
Before the right hon. Gentleman gives way to the eloquent pleading of the hon. Member opposite I hope that we may have some assurance that the Port of London is not going to be turned into a foreign industries fair in order to satisfy the desires of the hon. Member opposite. While doing everything possible to help the re-export trade of this country which everyone in every section of the House desires to see undisturbed, I hope that no extra facilities are to be given for parading foreign goods in this country.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Gower (Mr D. Grenfell)—In line 11, leave out the wordsTreasury in connection with the discharge by the"—971 might have the effect of creating a charge and is contrary to the Standing Orders.
§ Mr. TINKER
I beg to move, in line 14, after the word "Kingdom," to insert the words "at reasonable prices and."
This Amendment has the intention of giving some protection to the consumer when these tariffs are imposed. Listening to the speeches in this and previous Debates on this subject one gathers that hon. Members are desirous of giving all the protection possible to the consumer. It has been argued that these tariffs will lead to a betterment of employment in the various industries and also that there is no intention that anything more than the tariff price shall be put on the consumer. If that be so then no one ought to object to the insertion of the word "reasonable" in this connection. Earlier in the Resolution the term "reasonable time" is employed and the word "reasonable" there must mean "within a certain period." The word "reasonable" attached to price must have the same bearing. The object of the Amendment is to ensure that prices will not soar too high above what was originally intended. To strengthen my point I may refer to the speech of the Lord President of the Council last night. Evidently the right hon. Gentleman was under the stress of great emotion and was not quite sure whether he was doing the right thing or not and he made this remark:I said yesterday that the arrangement that was under discussion last night on which we voted depended for success on the spirit in which it was worked, and that similarly the success of tariffs in this country depends largely on the spirit in which they are worked by the industrialists of this country. If there be an idea—which I do not believe for a moment—of which they are accused by our political opponents, that they can use tariffs merely as a shelter for inefficiency, a shelter for idleness, a shelter from which they can profiteer, then the whole experiment can be condemned."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th February, 1932; col. 804, Vol. 261.]The purpose of this Amendment is to prevent profiteering. We think that unless this House brings some kind of protection or power to prevent prices going too high, the experiment that is being lauded by the other side may be a failure. Further to emphasise my point, on Friday last, in dealing with the emergency tariffs, I asked the 972 Minister of Agriculture if he could assure us that protection would be given to potatoes, and he evaded the point in his reply by saying that there would be no scarcity and therefore that prices would not go too far. It is rather curious that since then I have had a letter from a person who read some part of my speech. I received this letter yesterday morning:Dear Sir.—In the 'Daily Herald' issued on Saturday, 6th February, the report dealing with the debate on tariffs quotes the following: 'Mr. TINKER (Lab. Leigh) said potatoes had gone up to about £8 per ton.' Now, Sir, if this is correct, then your information is sadly wrong, as I, among thousands of others in the chipping industry, am being slowly put out of business owing to the excessive cost of potatoes. It grieves me to find one of our Labour Members under-estimating his own case against the tariff. If, as Sir John Gilmour stated, there is no fear of shortage, then why this difference in prices since the emergency tariff? Trusting you will excuse the liberty taken, and enclosing two statements for comparison.These two statements show that on the 1st October, 1931, he bought potatoes at the rate of £8 10s. per ton and that on the 15th January this year he was paying £14 per ton for his potatoes, and therefore he draws my attention to the fact that I under-estimated my case. I believe that, in stating a case, if you over-estimate it, you get a wrong impression, and it is far better to be on the low side. I was on the low side on Friday, but here I have proof, from a man who is in an industry that will be affected by tariffs, pointing out where prices can get. If the House believes there will not be profiteering, why cannot it agree to say that prices should be reasonable? If this kind of thing which I have quoted goes on, there will then be some power left with the House to deal with it. I do not see anything wrong with the Amendment. I think it is a very fair one, which might be accepted by the Government.
Here is another instance as to what tariffs can mean: Not long ago I was walking round Leigh Market at about half-past nine at night, when I met two old people, and I spoke to them. I knew them and asked them what they were doing out so late at night. The old woman said, "Well, we are both on old age pensions. We have 20s. a week, and we are paying 5s. rent, so we have 973 15s. to live on, and we are going round here late at night to wait until the last thing, when prices are as low as possible, so that we can buy enough to live upon." You say that wages will rise if tariffs are brought in, but that will not help those who are dependent on pensions or other fixed incomes. We want to try to protect all classes in the community, not merely the wage-earners, but those who have passed beyond the point of wage-earning and are depending upon pensions and whatever they can get. By inserting these words and preventing prices getting too high, we shall do something which will go a long way to protect the consumer. If hon. Members opposite really believe that tariffs will not increase the cost of living, there can be no objection to putting in these words.
I beg to second the Amendment.
This will test the sincerity of Ministers who have always said that the tariff will not increase the coat of living. If that be so, there can be no harm in including these words in the Bill.
§ Mr. HANNON
Would either the Proposer or the Seconder of the Amendment give the House some indication of what they mean by "reasonable." Who is to determine it and say what is a reasonable price? What is the authority that is to determine the meaning of the expression?
§ Mr. TINKER
A dictionary definition which I have is "might be accepted and not extortionate." My argument was that if 10 per cent. goes on as a tariff, the price should not be more than 10 per cent.
§ Mr. HASLAM
The Mover of the Amendment has mentioned potatoes and given instances in which they are selling at a high price. Neither under Free Trade nor under Protection can crops be guaranteed to come up to a certain amount, nor guaranteed to be free from disease. Owing to the very wet summer there was extensive disease among potatoes, and large numbers of farmers—some more, some less—had their crops severely damaged. That was the case in other countries too, and that accounts for the high price which potato growers are getting. Only a few years ago potato growers, especially the small men, were 974 facing ruin because they could hardly get 20s., or even 15s. a ton, owing to an excess. These things cannot, of course, be prevented, and it would be very difficult to say what was a reasonable price under the circumstances. We have now absolutely free importation, yet we have a price of £14. I think that I am justified in saying, from what I know of the trade, that potato growers themselves would not desire any stoppage of free importation under these circumstances.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
If it is not possible to decide what are reasonable prices, how is it possible to decide what is "a reasonable time," which are words used in the Resolution.
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Hore-Belisha):
This is the Resolution which empowers the Advisory Committee to recommend additional duties on certain articles, and defines what those articles are to be. Firstly, are they articles of luxury; secondly, are they articles which are produced, or which can be produced within a reasonable time, in the United Kingdom? My hon. Friend who moved his Amendment so reasonably wishes to add the words "at reasonable prices" but this Resolution is concerned only with defining the type of article and not with laying down the conditions under which the committee are to operate. My hon. Friend the Member for South Bradford (Mr. Holdsworth), who made such an able maiden speech yesterday, asks me what is the difference between a reasonable time and a reasonable price. There is a very obvious difference. Time is one unit; and these articles are many. There is only one clock recognised in this country, and we can tell the time by it; but there are a great many different categories of goods to be dealt with by the committee, and it would be valueless to insert the words "at reasonable prices" unless we were to define, in relation to each particular category of merchandise, what a reasonable price was, and, as I have already said, the Resolution does not purport to do that.
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in moving the Resolutions, did lay down some of the conditions under which the committee will 975 operate, and stated most clearly that the committee would have to have regard to the interests of consumers. Otherwise, what would happen? Parliament could act at once; the Government could act at once; and he gave an undertaking that the Government would immediately withdraw the privilege of a duty from any industry which endeavoured to exploit the consumer. In these circumstances I hope my hon. Friend will be satisfied, at any rate until he sees the full text of the Bill.
§ Mr. COCKS
I beg to move, in line 22, to leave out from the word "exceeding," to the end of the paragraph, and to insert instead thereof the words "fifty per cent. of their value."
The object of this Amendment is to prevent enormously high tariffs of 100 or 200 or 300 per cent. being imposed, and one of the chief reasons for bringing it forward is that we wish to give very much needed support to those members of the Cabinet who say that the Government's policy is disastrous to the economic and industrial life of the country and to its prosperity. During the Boer War there was a class of persons, of a not very creditable kind, who were spoken of as "killing Kruger with their mouths" that is, they talked but did not fight. Certain members of the Cabinet who are Free Traders are in much the same category. They make attacks in speeches but when it comes to the issue they give in to anything the Protectionists desire them to adopt. We wish to save them from a too humiliating surrender. We know that although the Lord Privy Seal and the Home Secretary have been kicked from side to side and have been shown no quarter they will not resign in any circumstances. They cling to their offices and to their emoluments. We want to save them from having to agree to too fantastic tariffs—tariffs of 200 or 300 per cent. We want them to be able to say that although they have acquiesced in their country's ruin and are still Free Traders, they have managed to keep down the tariff to 50 per cent.—or 60 per cent. in this case. I appeal to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that, as he is strong, so he should be merciful to these weaker men. I welcome this opportunity of giving him 976 a chance of doing a kind deed to his colleagues who won the election for him.
§ Major ELLIOT
I think it will be generally accepted that there are occasions upon which a duty of 50 per cent. might not be appropriate, and where the duty might easily be even higher. There are luxury goods which enormously wealthy men such as do not exist in this House, no doubt, but of whom all of us have acquaintance, and even the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) may wish to indulge in foreign luxuries which if they come in might ruin the exchange. Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable to put upon these imported luxuries a duty of such a size that it would actually shut them out. I do not think that the hon. Member for Broxtowe would like to feel that the pound was being depreciated by squandermania millionaires having brought in goods to which they were not entitled. Therefore, I ask the hon. Member, in his own interest, not to have this reproach laid upon his soul, and not to press this Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. LUNN
I beg to move, in line 12, after the word "Islands," to insert the word "or."
I think the House could justify itself in passing these Resolutions after the General Election as far as they apply to the people of this country. Personally, I am very much opposed to them, because I am satisfied that they are going to increase the cost of living and lower the standard of life of our people. We may also deal with matters which concern the Colonies, because hitherto this House has had that power, although I would like 977 to see a movement which would enable more Colonies to have self-government. I am objecting to certain words in this Resolution which deal with parts of the world over which we are not the absolute authority.
It is well known that in the mandated territories it has been laid down in Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations that where there is mandatory authority, they are not the absolute power. I should like to ask the Minister if he is satisfied that the words are in accordance with Articles 22 and 23 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. These mandated territories are subject to the Permanent Mandates Commission which sits at Geneva. On that Commission there are representatives of a number of Governments, and they are very much concerned about what is happening in the mandated territories. This question is often discussed in the Council of the League of Nations. Doubts are raised internationally as to our sincerity in carrying out the Covenant in this matter, and we ought to be above reproach. If we accept the Covenant, and if we accept a Mandate, we ought to carry it out in the spirit and in the letter. I have here a booklet published by the Empire Parliamentary Association, and in it is a report of a recent meeting of the Council of the League of Nations, in which these words appear:In considering the Report of the Permanent Mandates Commission the Council paid special attention to the conditions under which the termination of a Mandate should take place. In the course of the discussion, Signor Grandi (Italy) emphasised the necessity of guaranteeing the complete independence of former mandated territories when they became emancipated as fully fledged States.''It would be improper to include mandated territories as though they were part of the Empire, and it is for this House to make quite sure that we are not violating the terms of the Mandate, and will not be brought to book at Geneva before the Permanent Mandates Commission for what we are now doing.
§ Mr. HANNON
May I ask the hon. Gentleman a question? Has there been a single complaint, since these mandated territories were committed to our administration, of any violation of our obligations to administer them properly?
§ Mr. LUNN
If the hon. Member looks into the matter he will find that questions have been raised at more than one commission regarding our attitude. I do not say that they have not been dealt with, and that there has not been a satisfactory answer, but this matter is discussed regularly at the Permanent Mandates Commission, and the words which I have read show that in the Council there is some concern as to the independence of these mandated territories. While we may legislate for our own people who are within the Empire and not part of the Dominions, we have no right to interfere with peoples who are not part of the Empire, and it is possible that we may raise international difficulties, which this House ought to try to avoid. That is my object in raising this matter, and I await the answer of the Minister as to the real position with regard to it. While I shall always vote against this principle of Protection, and these Resolutions, and the Bill, knowing what it will mean for our own people, I do not want us to be embroiled with other countries in territories over which we have not the right of government.
§ Mr. HANNON
The implication of the hon. Gentleman's speech, that we have been guilty of any violation of the obligation we undertook with regard to the administration of mandated territories, is entirely false in substance and in fact. Our whole relationship with the mandated territories since the Treaty of Versailles has been that we have carried out our obligations fully and faithfully, and have given every satisfaction to the peoples placed in our charge.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I should like to reinforce what my hon. Friend has said. Very grave questions have been raised by some of the Continental Powers as regards the East African position, not in the sense that things that have been done have been complained of, but suspicions have been aroused as to what might be done if the territories in East Africa, for instance, were all brought into one union. If we start putting in the Bill provisions dealing with the mandated territories, we shall inevitably accentuate that suspicion and it will not really do us any good. We cannot control the position as regards mandated territories, because 979 those territories are obliged to give free rights to all members of the League as regards trade.
If I understand rightly the point that has been put from the other side of the House, it is that mandated territories are to be left outside this legislation. It has been our custom ever since mandated territories came under our control to give them so far as possible the same benefits as we give to members of the Empire. That has never been called in question by any member of the League or any responsible person, as far as I know. What is sought under this Clause is to provide that, where there is what we might call a fiscal offence against a mandated territory, power to discriminate against the country committing the offence shall be exercisable, not within the mandated territory but in our own country. I can see no objection to that. That is giving to mandated territories the advantage of membership of the British
§ Empire, although legally they may not possess it. It only means that we should use our power of discrimination for their benefit just as much as we should for our own.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has quite cleared up the particular point. Hitherto we have not gone into tariff wars. The whole idea of the Resolution is that we are going to fight other nations in tariff wars, and we intend to bring in the mandated territories as part of our own fiscal union, because you say if a foreign country has offended one, it has offended all. It is really part of a general tendency to think that mandated territories are in some way a part of the British Empire. Wherever that attitude is brought up it causes the greatest suspicion and that is why we object to it.
§ Question put, "That the word 'or' be there inserted in the Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 41; Noes, 818.981
|Division No. 58.]||AYES.||[10.48 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Maxton, James|
|Batey, Joseph||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Buchanan, George||Hicks, Ernest George||Price, Gabriel|
|Cape, Thomas||Hirst, George Henry||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Jenkins, Sir William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|Daggar, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||White, Henry Graham|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kirkwood, David||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Edwards, Charles||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Williams Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Lawson, John James||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Leonard, William|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Lunn, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||McEntee, Valentine L,||Mr. Gordon Macdonald and Mr. Groves.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||McGovern, John|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Blindell, James||Castle Stewart, Earl|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds,W.)||Borodale, Viscount||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Boulton, W. W.||Chalmers, John Rutherford|
|Albery, Irving James||Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Boyce, H. Leslie||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric|
|Amery, Rt. Hen. Leopold C. M. S.||Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Christie, James Archibald|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Briant, Frank||Clayton, Dr. George C.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Broadbent, Colonel John||Clydesdale, Marquess of|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Colfox, Major William Philip|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Colville Major David John|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Brown, Brig,-Gen.H. C.(Berks-,Newb'y)||Conant, R. J. E.|
|Balley, Eric Alfred George||Browne, Captain A. C.||Cook, Thomas A.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Buchan, John||Cooper, A. Dulf|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Copeland, Ida|
|Balniel, Lord||Burghley, Lord||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Crooke, J. Smedley|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Burnett, John George||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)|
|Bateman, A. L.||Caine, G. R. Hall-||Crookshank. Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Croom-Johnson, R. P.|
|Bernays, Robert||Campbell, Rear-Adml, G. (Burnley)||Cross, R. H.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Crossley, A. C.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard|
|Bird, Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.)||Carver, Major William H.||Davies, Maj. Geo.F.(Somerset,Yeovil)|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Cassels, James Dale||Dickie, John P.|
|Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert||Ker, J. Campbell||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Donner, P. W.||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Drewe, Cedric||Kimball, Lawrence||Remer, John R.|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Duncan, lames A.L.(Kensington, N.)||Knebworth, Viscount||Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip|
|Dunglass, Lord||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Leckie, J. A.||Robinson, John Roland|
|Ellis, Robert Geoffrey||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Rosbotham, S. T.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Levy, Thomas||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Liddall, Walter S.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Rothschild, James A. de|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blk'pool)||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Llewellin, Major John J.||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Russell, Hamer Field (Shef'ld, B'tside)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E,||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Salmon, Major Isidore|
|Fuller, Captain A. E. G.||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Salt, Edward W.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||McCorquodale, M. S.||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Scene, Lord|
|Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.||McEwen, J. H. F.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Goff, Sir Park||McKie, John Hamilton||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Goldie, Noel B.||McLean, Major Alan||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Unv., Belfast)|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Magnay, Thomas||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Graves, Marjorie||Maitland, Adam||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Greene, William P. C.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Gunston, Captain D.W.||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Guy, J.C. Morrison||Marjoribanks, Edward||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Hales, Harold K.||Martin, Thomas B.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Hanbury, Cecil||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||Merriman, Sr F. Boyd||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Mills, Sir Frederick||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Harris, Sir Percy||Mitcheson, G. G.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Hartland, George A.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Moreing, Adrian C.||Templeton, William P.|
|Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle)||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Morrison, William Shepherd||Thompson, Luke|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Munro, Patrick||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Nall, Sir Joseph||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Hepworth, Joseph||Nathan, Major H. L.||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Hillman, Dr. George B.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Nicholson, O. W. (Westminster)||Train, John|
|Holdsworth, Herbert||Normand, Wilfrid Guild||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Hope, Capt. Arthur O. J. (Aston)||Nunn, William||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Hopkinson, Austin||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Wallace, John (Dunfermilne)|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Ormiston, Thomas||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Hornby, Frank||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Horobin, Ian M.||Palmer, Francis Noel||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Patrick, Colin M.||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Howard, Tom Forrest||Penny, Sir George||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Petherick, M.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bliston)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Pickering, Ernest H.||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Potter, John||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romford)||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Jackson, J.C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Pybus, Percy John||Wise, Alfred R.|
|James, Wing-com. A. W. H.||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Womersley, Walter James|
|Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Ramsden, E.|
|Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Rankin, Robert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Rea, Walter Russell||Lieut.-Colonel Sir Lambert Ward|
|Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||and Commander Southby.|
Fourth Resolution read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution.
§ 11.0 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
We do not intend to move our Amendments on this Resolution, but we wish to raise two points arising out of them. [Interruption.] If hon. Members wish to sit late I shall be happy to sit with them as long as they like. We are doing our best and hon. Members ought to recognise that. On the first Amendment—in line 12, leave out the words "dissolved or"—I should like to ask why it is necessary to insert those words. The short point is this, that Parliament may be dissolved and that the 28 days referred to would not be counted. The period when no Parliament is sitting might he for a long period and many orders which the outgoing Government had made would automatically apply even if the election is pending and Parliament might not be convened for many weeks or for even a month or two. It seems to me that no Government would desire to do that. For that reason we think that the words "dissolved or" ought to be deleted, so that the Government could produce as many orders as they liked during the time that Parliament was sitting, but certainly not after a General Election had been determined upon and Parliament had been dissolved.
A further point arises out of our last Amendment, where we suggest that after the word "kingdom," in line 31, there should be inserted the words and the distribution." It is a question of the information that ought to be at the disposal of the Committee when they have to determine whether the duty should be 50 per cent. or 100 per cent. or any other amount. Certain information must be produced. The manufacturers are required to furnish to the Board of Trade information with respect to the manufacture in the United Kingdom of such articles.
The Committee should know something about the distribution of these commodities; whether they are exported or consumed internally, whether the 984 methods of distribution are efficient and are such as to entitle them to the sympathy of the Committee. There are industries which are highly efficient on the productive side but hopelessly inefficient on the distribution side. It has been said over and over again that our farmers are the best in the world. I readily agree, but no one will say that they are highly efficient in their methods of distribution. We think the Committee ought to have all the information available at their disposal before they come to a decision which may be vital to the industries, to the workers and to the consumers of this country. The right hon. Gentleman should consider the advisability of arming the Committee with such information on the distribution side as we suggest in our proposal. It would be useful in all sorts of ways and might conceivably lead to efficient methods of distribution being introduced into certain industries which would then not need any tariff, either of 5 per cent., 10 per cent. or 100 per cent.
§ Mr. HANNON
On a point of Order. If the words "dissolved or" are left out, what is going to happen in case Parliament is dissolved?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I will try to answer the two points put by the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams). With regard to the words "dissolved or" may I remind the House that they follow exactly the procedure adopted in the Abnormal Importations Act and the hon. Member will see that there is good reason for putting those words in and good reason for not taking them out. Take the suggestion that a great batch of Orders might be made immediately before a Dissolution. The only effect of leaving out these words would be that these duties would extend over the period of the election, when Parliament would not be sitting, and whether they ultimately came into permanent effect would depend on whether the ensuing Government passed the affirmative Resolution making them operative. If the Government coming in did not agree with these Orders, it could simply abstain from passing the affirmative Resolution, and they would not be 985 operative. But it is not desirable that it should he possible for a Government to issue a whole batch of Orders, and then go to the country on the question as to whether they should remain operative or not. With regard to the question of obtaining figures about distribution, may I point out that our object is to try and find out what happens to the manufactures.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Would it not be the case that in the event of a Dissolution, assuming that several Orders had been passed, then during the time that Parliament was not sitting at least after 28 days the Orders should not be operative. That is rather the opposite of what the right hon. Gentleman has said. Our point is that no Government ought to have the power to introduce Orders, knowing that a Dissolution was to take place, and that the new Government ought to determine its fiscal policy.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The Orders become operative when they are issued, but they cease to be operative after 28 days unless an affirmative resolution has been passed.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
The right hon. Gentleman will see that the 28 days does not include the time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued. Our point is that if it is a prorogation, that is all.
§ right, but if it is a dissolution, that need not be accounted for in the 28 days. It ought not automatically to carry over a dissolution. If there is a dissolution the Order should terminate and not get the benefit of the extra time—only when there is a prorogation
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
It does not follow that, if there is a dissolution, more than 28 days would elapse before the election of the next Parliament. What we want to do is to get information as to what the effect of the duty has been upon the manufacturer of that particular article. The Resolution says that the information is to be obtained from the manufacturers. It is not the slightest use to suggest that manufacturers are to furnish to the Board of Trade information not only about the manufacture but also about the distribution of the goods. Although they would have information about the manufacture, they would have no information about the distribution. Therefore they would be unable to furnish it, even if they were called upon to do so.
§ Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 290 Noes, 59.989
|Division No. 59.]||AYES.||[11.14 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Broadbent, Colonel John||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks., Newb'y)||Croom-Johnson, R. P.|
|Albery, Irving James||Browne, Captain A. C.||Cross, R. H.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Crossley, A. C.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Burghley, Lord||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Dickie, John P.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Burnett, John George||Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Caine, G. R. Hall[...]||Donner, P. W.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Drewe, Cedric|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)||Duckworth, George A. V.|
|Balley, Eric Alfred George||Campbell-Johnston, Maicolm||Duggan, Hubert John|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Carver, Major William H.||Dunglass, Lord|
|Balniel, Lord||Castle Stewart, Earl||Eastwood, John Francis|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Cazalet, Theelma (Islington, E.)||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Chalmers, John Rutherford||Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Bateman, A. L.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Birm., W)||Ellis, Robert Geoffrey|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgbaston)||Elliston, Captain George Sampson|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Elmley, Viscount|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Christie, James Archibald||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Clayton, Dr. George C.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Borodale, Viscount||Colfox, Major William Philip||Erskine-Boist, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Colville, Major David John||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Conant, R. J. E.||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Cook, Thomas A.||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Cooper, A. Duff||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Bracken, Brondan||Copeland, Ida||Fuller, Captain A. E. G.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Briant, Frank||Crooke, J. Smedley||Gllmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'ndsw'th)||Robinson, John Roland|
|Goff, Sir Park||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Goldie, Noel B.||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Rosbotham, S. T.|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Graves, Marjorie||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Greene, William P. C.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Russell, Hamer Field (Shef'ld, B'tside)|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||McEwen, J. H. F.||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||McKie. John Hamilton||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||McLean, Major Alan||Salmon, Major Isidore|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Salt, Edward W.|
|Hales, Harold K.||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Magnay, Thomas||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Maitland, Adam||Scone, Lord|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col Sir M.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Hartland, George A.||Marjoribanks, Edward||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Unv., Belfast)|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle)||Martin, Thomas B.||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Mills, Sir Frederick||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Hepworth, Joseph||Mitcheson, G. G.||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Hillman, Dr. George B.||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Hope, Capt. Arthur O. J. (Aston)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Moreing, Adrian C.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)|
|Hornby, Frank||Morrison, William Shepherd||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Horobin, Ian M.||Muirhead, Major A. J.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Munro, Patrick||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Nall, Sir Joseph||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Nicholson, O. W. (Westminster)||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Normand, Wilfrid Guild||Templeton, William P.|
|Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Nunn, William||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romford)||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Thompson, Luke|
|Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|James, Wing-Com. A, W. H.||Ormiston, Thomas||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Palmer, Francis Noel||Train, John|
|Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Patrick, Colin M.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Penny, Sir George||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Kerr, Hamilton W.||Petherick, M.||Wallace, John (Dunfermilne)|
|Kimball, Lawrence||Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bliston)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Kirkpatrick, William M.||Potter, John||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Knebworth, Viscount||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Pybus, Percy John||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Leckie, J. A.||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ramsden, E.||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Rankin, Robert||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Levy, Thomas||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Liddall, Walter S.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Lindsay, Noel Ker||Remer, John R.||Womersley, Walter James|
|Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Lieweilln, Major John J.||Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Liewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Sir Frederick Thomson and Major George Davies.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Groves, Thomas E.||Lawson, John James|
|Batey, Joseph||Grundy, Thomas W.||Leonard, William|
|Bernays, Robert||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Lunn, William|
|Buchanan, George||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Cape, Thomas||Harris, Sir Percy||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Hicks, Ernest George||McGovern, John|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Hirst, George Henry||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Corn'll N.)|
|Dagger, George||Holdsworth, Herbert||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hopkinson, Austin||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Jenkins, Sir William||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh. E.)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Maxton, James|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Jones. Morgan (Caerphilly)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Kirkwood, David||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Price, Gabriel||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A (C'thness)||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Rea, Walter Russell||Tinker, John Joseph||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|Rothschild, James A. de||White, Henry Graham||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Salter, Dr, Alfred||Williams, David (Swansea, East)||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Duncan Graham.|
|Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Williams Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
§ Bill ordered to be brought in upon the said Resolutions by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Prime Minister, Mr. Baldwin, Mr. Runciman, Sir John Gilmour, Sir John Simon, Mr. J. H. Thomas, and Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister.