Major LLOYD GEORGE
I beg to move, in page 2, line 11, at the beginning, to insert the words:Subject to inquiry and report as hereinafter prescribed, andThe object of this Amendment is to enable us to have an inquiry before these duties are levied. Statements have been made in the Debates of the last few days to the effect that the Opposition have not put forward anything that was really worth consideration, but I suggest that the same applies equally to the supporters of this Measure. I suggest that no adequate reason has been given for putting forward these proposals, and that the House of Commons, and, through the House, the country, should be told why these proposals are put forward. If the Government's case for these proposals is a good one, surely they have nothing to fear from putting the results of their inquiries before the House, and I suggest that we are entitled to know the grounds on which they have come to the conclusion that they have. At the election, the electorate was clearly told that there would be ample inquiry before any tariff proposals were brought forward. The Prime Minister himself, after referring to the trade conditions throughout the world, said that it would not only be reasonable but advisable to examine our conditions and requirements, to see how far, if at all, pre-War policy should be modified or improved upon. Further, he said that, on the other hand, we know that tariffs have not cured the economic ills of countries like the United States and Germany. The Prime Minister also said:If it is necessary to limit our imports and so forth, we have open minds to explore the whole situation.The Lord President of the Council, also, after saying that this was not the real issue of the election, said that the Prime Minister and Mr. Snowden had both stated the position fairly and accurately, and that the National Government must be allowed to consider any and every expedient which might help to establish the balance of trade. Lastly, the Lord President of the Council said that the question of a tariff applied at any point must be examined from the point of view of the complete national interest, and that the strongest Free Traders were 1875 perfectly willing that that examination should take place. The Home Secretary, in his speech on the Financial Resolutions, deplored the fact that the Government had not taken the considered opinions of leading men in finance, trade, and so on. I suggest, therefore, that up to the present we have not had from the Government any adequate reason for bringing forward these proposals. Why is it that we cannot be told who was consulted before the Government came to this decision Were the Economic Advisory Committee consulted, and, if so, why cannot we be told what their opinion was? Were the shipping interests of this country consulted? The President of the Board of Trade stated the other day in this Chamber that the shipping industry was one of the most important in this country, and had at least 100 industries dependent upon it. He further stated—and I almost hesitate to remind him of this—that our shipping industry has been built up on freedom. I would ask if the shipping industry of this country has been consulted with regard to the proposals which are before us to-day?
I would remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer that one of the most substantial items in the adverse balance of trade which we have to-day is the loss of our shipping earnings, and, as we are the greatest carriers of goods in the world, I should have thought that it would have been of some importance, to say the least, that that industry should be consulted and that the House of Commons should be told what their opinion was. Again, have the financial interests been consulted? Then there are the users of raw materials. I do not know whether they have been consulted, but Members of the House have received within the last few days a few intimations from users of raw materials, giving their opinions on the proposals. Everyone seems to be awaking now to the fact that their particular raw materials will come in under the tariff of 10 per cent, at least, and is beginning to realise what we have always said, namely, that you cannot protect one industry without damaging others. Judging from the Amendments on the Paper, there are many supporters of the Government in the House who want to get certain raw materials left out. Will the Government tell us whether any of these industries were consulted before 1876 these proposals were decided upon? Further, might I ask was any inquiry at all made as to the condition of industry in Protectionist countries at present? It would be very interesting to know the results of an inquiry in America, which is a fully Protectionist country and which is suffering the economic depression that other countries are suffering. Surely it is relevant for us to be told whether the Protectionist system in America is enabling America to come through its troubles any better than we are doing.
Judging from things which I have heard from America, and which for some reason or another do not appear as freely as they might in the Press of this country, conditions there are very much more serious than they have been here at any time since the War. I heard the other day of an airship being used to fly over New York with a loud speaker attached calling upon the people to bring out any old clothes that they had or any food that they could spare to give to the unemployed. That is in the richest city, I suppose, in the whole world. I do not know of any town in this country where the teachers have not been paid for seven weeks and where the municipal employés have not been paid and are living as best they can on the charity of their friends. Seeing that we are taking this revolutionary step, and that the reason given for depression in this country is that we have Free Trade, I should have thought it would have been relevant and interesting for us to be given the results of Protection in other countries, because, after all, we are trying to get this country out of its depression and we can learn something from countries which have this system already.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself said that things were not really very bad. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) at the end of his speech, in most of which he advocated Protection, said he did not see any country in the world that we need envy, and I entirely agree with him. If there is no country in the world that we need envy, I want to know why we are making a change. There must be, surely, an overwhelming case for placing these proposals before us, and the only reason why my friends and I have put this 1877 Amendment down is because we feel that before adopting proposals of this sort, which are going to affect this country in every section of the community and every industry in it, the House is entitled to know what inquiries were made and what the results of those inquiries were.
§ Major NATHAN
I rise to support the Amendment. I may, perhaps, be allowed to refer to a speech that I made on the Second Reading, and to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in commenting upon what I said. I suggested that the figures upon which the right hon. Gentleman has based himself were open to criticism. I should be sorry if he read into the remarks I made any suggestion of a doubt in my mind that any difference in the figures was other than purely unintentional, or by reason of a different interpretation of the figures from that which I put upon them. The right hon. Gentleman said he was of the opinion that, in ascertaining the balance of payments, movements of bullion should not be included. I had indicated my view that these movements of bullion were just as relevant as movements of goods. While I recognise that there may legitimately be a difference of opinion, and that the right hon. Gentleman speaks not only with personal high authority, but as having the advantage of the most skilled advice, yet I would fortify myself by a statement on this subject in the "Economist" of 12th December. There will be few who will dispute the reputation or standing of the "Economist" in matters coming within its special sphere. It said:Though bullion imports and exports are strictly not eligible for inclusion in an income account, they may legitimately be included when the object of inquiry is to ascertain how far excessive demand for devisee arising from a debtor balance is straining the sterling exchange.The problem with which we are confronted is, What is the nature and the extent of the strain upon the sterling exchange. I found myself upon that statement and I do not withdraw the suggestion that, by the omission of the figures relating to the movements of bullion, the calculations made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his advisers are of less usefulness than might otherwise be the case.
§ Sir AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
On a point of Order. Could you, Sir, for our 1878 guidance, indicate what you think is the proper scope of the discussion on this Amendment? At present we seem to be entering into a continuation of the Second Reading Debate and referring specifically to arguments used on that occasion.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I was very near making that observation to the hon. and gallant Gentleman. This seems to give the opportunity for almost a general discussion on the Clause itself within certain limits, but certainly not on anything outside the Clause.
§ Major NATHAN
It will be my aim to keep myself within your Ruling, Sir. The Amendment is directed to procuring the setting up of an inquiry on the ground that no adequate inquiry, as promised by the Government, has yet been held. An inquiry was promised to the nation by the Prime Minister and his principal supporters in the Government, and no indication has yet been given as to what the result of that examination was or what evidence was produced. We hold the view, in the first place, that the promise made by the Prime Minister and his colleagues yet remains to be fulfilled, and, in the second place, that, before any of the duties contemplated by the Bill become operative, it is essential in the national interest that the appropriate inquiry should be held to ascertain whether or not the national interests demand it. It is relevant in that connection to consider how far the information which the Government has up to this time disclosed is, or is not, an indication that an adequate examination has already been held. In my submission, there is no such indication, and I was referring to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer with a view to calling him to my aid. I questioned the accuracy of certain figures, independently of this question of the movement of bullion, and I suggest that, whereas the right hon. Gentleman had given the figures for the invisible exports for 1929 at £482,000,000, they were shown by the February, 1931, Board of Trade Journal to be £504,000,000. The right hon. Gentleman very fairly dealt with that point by saying:I frankly admit that the hon. and gallant Member was at a disadvantage, because I have access to information which I know is not in his possession, and, therefore, the position is exactly the opposite. The Board of Trade are in the habit of correcting the figures of the balance of trade 1879 in the light of new information which comes to them from time to time, and since issuing those corrected figures the Board of Trade have again corrected them and the new corrected figures are identical to those that I gave to the House and will be found in the next issue of the 'Board of Trade Journal.'"—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 16th February, 1932; col. 1596, Vol. 261.]Let us check that.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I really cannot understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I have been listening to him for some considerable time without finding how he really can attach this to anything that he can properly discuss on this Amendment. It is quite true that, if he had not the Chair to check him, he could make the Amendment asking for an inquiry a peg on which to hang a discussion on any earthly subject in the world; but I do not propose to allow him on this occasion to go into a discussion as to how figures obtained by the Board of Trade are calculated or checked.
§ Major NATHAN
Not only do I submit to your Ruling, Sir, but I find myself in complete agreement with it. It is far from my intention to embark upon any such investigation as that which, unfortunately, I must have misled you into thinking I envisage. I will not proceed with the subject, but I will ask for your Ruling upon this point. An Amendment is on the Paper asking for an inquiry before certain taxes are imposed under this Bill. The National Government stated more than once that they proposed to hold an inquiry. No evidence has been forthcoming as to any inquiry being held of any specific character which is capable of criticism or of examination, except certain figures which have been given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The point upon which ask your guidance is, whether it is or is not within the rules of order in speaking to this Amendment for me to adduce in support of the Amendment the contention that the information given to the House so far by the Government, as a result of the examination which it purports to have held, does not bear a sufficient test to justify this being called an examination at all?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am obliged to the hon. and gallant Member for referring the question to me. He has called my 1880 attention to the further Amendment standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member who moved this Amendment and in the name of other hon. Members—in page 3, line 2, at the end, to add the words —(5) The duty imposed by this section shall not be levied unless and until a tribunal of inquiry, appointed by the Treasury, shall have reported to Parliament that the economic situation is such as to render the imposition of the duty imperative, and Parliament shall have signified its approval of the tribunal's recommendation and of the arguments upon which it is based.I think I may reply in this way. The hon. and gallant Member must keep this discussion at least strictly within the terms of the prescribed inquiry which is proposed in the second Amendment, which is consequential upon this Amendment.
§ Major NATHAN
This Amendment provides that the duty shall not be levied unless a tribunal of inquiry shall have reported to Parliament that the economic situation is such as to render the imposition of the duty imperative. That is the very task which His Majesty's Government, out of the mouth of the Prime Minister, pledged themselves to the nation to undertake, and it is clear, in my submission, that if the Government were able to show that they had already undertaken that inquiry, it would be, I will not say a conclusive, but a very substantial answer to the suggestion put forward in this Amendment. I submit to you, Sir, that I may properly justify a comment upon the figures so far disclosed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as the foundation upon which I may found the request for the tribunal referred to in this Amendment. If I should unwillingly trespass upon your Ruling, you will no doubt at once inform me. The reason for calling for a fresh inquiry is—and it is the contention advanced by my hon. Friends with whom I am associated in this Amendment—that no inquiry such as was promised by the Prime Minister has so far been held.
I come back now to the figures published to-day, I think, at two o'clock this afternoon, in the "Board of Trade Journal." I will try to keep myself strictly within your Ruling, and I hope that I shall succeed. It will not be for the want of effort if I do not. The 1881 Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his financial statement, informed the House that the 1929 figures of the excess of imports of merchandise were£382,000,000 as compared with £409,000,000 for 1931, and that the invisible exports for 1929 amounted to £482,000,000, and for 1931, £296,000,000. I challenged those figures, and I challenge them to-day. In February, 1931, by a recalculation, the invisible exports were figured by the Board of Trade at £504,0000000 as against£482,000,000 given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and which, he said, would be substantiated by the issue of the Journal of the Board of Trade, a copy of which I hold in my hand.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Really the hon. and gallant Member cannot do that. He is, apparently, trying to base his demand for inquiry upon the fact that, as he alleges, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given information which turns out to be incorrect. He is proposing to prove that to his satisfaction from information which has apparently been obtained by the Government, and he is thereby destroying his own case by saying that the Government have obtained the information.
§ Major NATHAN
May I make the point clear? I have no desire to impose upon the indulgence of the Committee, but this is a, matter of some national importance. It is of no importance to me.
§ The CHAIRMAN
But there are many questions of importance which the hon. and gallant Member cannot discuss on this particular Measure. I have extended a great deal of latitude, and I have been endeavouring to follow a somewhat long argument in order to see whether the conclusion brings it within the limits of the discussion which is admissible upon this Amendment. I have not been able to find any evidence in his speech during the last five minutes or more to justify my coming to such a conclusion.
§ Major NATHAN
I can only make every effort to try once again to keep myself within your Ruling. Will it be within or without your Ruling if I were to quote from the "Board of Trade Journal," which is issued by and on the authority of His Majesty's Government, figures which differ from the figures given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer?
§ The CHAIRMAN
No, I do not think it would. I have already dealt with that point, which was the first point upon which I ruled. It was information which, as he says, had been obtained by His Majesty's Government. If either the Chancellor of the Exchequer or anybody else has made a mistake, there is no reason for blaming His Majesty's Government for not obtaining information, when apparently, they have obtained it, according to the hon. and gallant Member himself.
§ Major NATHAN
I shall have another opportunity, which I shall not fail to take, subject to your Ruling, of expanding and extending the point to which it was my desire to direct the attention of the Committee. I will leave those figures for a later opportunity. I say that an inquiry having been promised to the nation by the Government, it would be a breach of faith on the part of the Government, unless the details of inquiry, and the recommendations made by the Government, and, not only the recommendations, but the reasons upon which they were founded, were placed fully and frankly before the country. If it were clear that those recommendations were not justified by the figures which His Majesty's Government put forward as purporting to support them, it would be an ample reason for setting on foot a new inquiry such as that contemplated by the Amendment now under discussion.
It should be an inquiry, not of Members of His Majesty's Government sitting in Cabinet, but an inquiry by skilled investigators examining into all the relative material, not only in this country but abroad, into the state of our industry, and into what the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to as the reactions and the inter-actions of each part of the policy upon every other part. Such an inquiry, obviously, has not yet taken place. The facts which emerged from the inquiry, such as it was, which has already been held have not been disclosed to the nation, and the country will, I feel sure, be loth to be, and should not be, placed in the position of having to accept a Bill imposing these onerous duties, and altering permanently the whole fiscal system of the country, without first having the authority, full and complete, without equivocation, of the information and data available.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Runciman)
My hon. and gallant Friend has based his argument very largely upon the assumption that those who collect and prepare statistics for the Government are amateurs, and, apparently from his arguments, incompetent amateurs. The one test which he has applied to these investigations, as they have been published, is whether or not they have included as export from this country the carriage of bullion from this country to foreign countries. There was a time when, as everybody in the House knows, the passage of bullion to and fro between countries was the normal way of finishing a series of transactions The amount transferred was comparatively small. But our advisers have taken the view—and we entirely agree with them—that during the last three years, and certainly during the last year, the export of bullion from this country was not a transaction in the ordinary way of trade exports, but was directly connected with our capital movements. This we have set out in full so that my hon. and gallant Friend may be able to read it, and read it at leisure. He will find on page 216 of the "Board of Trade Journal" published to-day the reasons given at the foot of the second column for our technicians telling us that the movements of gold with which they deal here are dealt with as movements of capital. When you come, some four pages later, to the final table it will be seen, at the foot of that table, that the excess of exports of gold bullion and specie from this country in 1931 was £35,000,000. In the ordinary way, export from this country would be regarded as being an addition to our national wealth. I think that my hon. and gallant Friend will find in his leisure moments that this transfer of £35,000,000 was not for our enrichment but for our impoverishment. We were the poorer by £35,000,000 as a result of that transfer, and not the richer.
The reason why I have mentioned that matter is to draw attention to the fact that he and my hon. and gallant Friend opposite fall back upon the assumption that people altogether outside the official circle, who are not connected with 1884 Government Departments, men who, however estimable they may be as political economists, have none of the responsibility of Government and none of the ordinary practice, must of necessity be wiser than those actually engaged in the Government Departments themselves. I have had a pretty long experience of skilled investigators in one Department or another, and I have never met investigators outside Governments who are more skilled than those inside the Civil Service. They are augmented by some of the best opinions in the country. The assumption is made that there has been no inquiry which has led up to our present position. Let me tell the Committee, very briefly, what actually occurred. It was quite clear last September that we had to deal with an entirely new situation. We had to make investigations of a new order with the greatest rapidity. That could only be made by people who were within the Government rather than outside the Government. An undertaking was given during the General Election that that inquiry would be prosecuted with the utmost speed, and it was in pursuance of that promise that, immediately the election was over, without any delay the Government set to work, with the assistance of their skilled advisers, to obtain the materials which were requisite for the forming of a judgment. Of course, the judgment must rest with the Government; they accepted that responsibility. They were well aware of the fact that when they set to work they were going to cover a great deal of ground. They also knew that it would be foolish to throw away the information which had been accumulated, which was well known to many people and which did not need to appear in the report of a Royal Commission, or whatever the inquiry might be.
During the weeks before the Christmas Recess we were very hard at work in the Departments obtaining all the material that we thought necessary. Immediately the Christmas holidays were over the Cabinet Committee set to work, with the assistance of those on whose services we had the right to call, to deal with the problem as a whole, taking it in the bulk, in the mass. We lost no 1885 time in that way. If we had followed the advice of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) we should have been setting up something like a Royal Commission, or something with equal dignity, covering as wide an area and containing members of the most varied views, particularly representative of the great science of political economy. What would have been the result? I am perfectly sure that if we had had on that Commission six economists we should at the end, when the report was published, have had seven different opinions. Sooner or later the Government have to make up their mind and accept responsibility.
My hon. and gallant Friend opposite would have them inquire into the effect upon shipping, and what is to be the effect upon the numerous raw materials that are used in our industries. They would have to make elaborate inquiries into the conditions which rule abroad. They would, in particular, have to make inquiries into the state of America, to report on how the poor are maintained in America, and what has brought about the depression in America. If one cared, one could make out a list of inquiries which would cover the whole conditions of trade in every country of the world. What would have been the good of it when we had got it all? It would only have enabled us to form a judgment such as the Government have formed. Of course, we must watch very carefully what is happening abroad, but nothing has happened abroad that would make us believe that their state is comparable to ours. We were in a peculiar economic position. We had become up to last year the clearing house of the world, but in the autumn, in the process of clearing Europe into America, it was this country that had to bear the strain, and in bearing the strain we very nearly broke down under it.
Seeing our position, knowing the situation with which we had to deal, knowing the problems with which we were faced, were we to have an inquiry which was independent of us? Obviously, it would be outside the area of the Civil Service. We have the Civil Service available, but it was something additional that my hon. and gallant Friend wants. According to him, we were to go right outside to find those who were to make the inquiry, and 1886 we were to give them this very long reference as to the countries and the subjects into which they were to inquire. What is to happen in the meantime? Are we to go steadily downhill? Are we to see one risk after another before us and not to attempt to meet it? We had to make a rough-and-ready attempt to meet the situation before the House rose. We issued the Abnormal Importations Orders, and they had an immediate effect, an effect which was psychological as well as economical. They showed the world that we were determined to deal fearlessly with our conditions. The mere promptitude of that action had as good an effect as the proposals themselves. Any further delay in making further inquiry before we make up our minds as to what we would do is totally unnecessary. We have not the time to spare. We have our materials at our disposal, and I hope the Committee will reject the Amendment, which would be an utter waste of precious time. At the present time we want to see action taken, and taken with great rapidity.
§ Mr. COCKS
It seems to me that the doctrine of Cabinet irresponsibility is going very far when we hear such a speech as that which has been delivered by the President of the Board of Trade. He has gone out of his way to pour scorn and ridicule upon the Lord President of the Council. During the election the Lord President of the Council said that he was in favour of an inquiry taking place. He did not suggest a foolish sort of inquiry such as the President of the Board of Trade suggests. Re did not say that we should have six or seven economists on the Commission, all of different opinions. What he did say was that he was in favour of setting up an impartial commission to consider the question of setting up a scientific tariff. He said that last October during the election. He did not say anything about its composition, but he did want a businesslike commission. That was his suggestion, and the President of the Board of Trade is now making fun of it. It is easy to do that by setting up a man of straw and then knocking it down.
I am strongly in favour of inquiry because it is quite clear that although the Government may have secured a mandate to tax manufactured articles they did not get a mandate to tax raw materials or 1887 food. I desire the inquiry because I think that the proposal to put a 10 per cent. duty on everything coming into the country is absolutely unscientific from the Protectionist point of view. The ablest tariff reformers have always admitted that imports have to pay for exports. They say that they do not want to stop imports by means of tariffs. They always say, "We do not want to reduce imports but we want to change their character." They say that the proper policy for this country is to get in our raw materials, to work them up into manufactured goods and then to sell them for five or six times their original value. That policy was advocated years ago by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery). I lent the book containing the right hon. Gentleman's statement of policy to a relative, and he returned it with the remark that it was too Socialistic. There is a good deal to be said for that sort of argument, but for the argument to put a flat rate upon every sort of goods that comes into this country, whether raw material or manufactured articles, there is nothing to be said. That is why the Government are closuring the Debate, in order to apply their majority to the support of an indefensible position.
In view of the financial position of the country an inquiry ought to be made into the whole question of the taxation of raw materials. I will not go into the matter in any detail, because it was very ably put by the Home Secretary. He pointed out that we buy £160,000,000 worth of goods a year from foreign countries in the shape of raw materials, and he further pointed out that although we might get, say, £1,000 of tax under such a scheme that might mean that a firm would lose an order worth £50,000. By taxing raw material the Government will hamper production. They have admitted that, because they are proposing to let in the raw materials for our big staple industries —wool, cotton, iron and shipbuilding. What do the Government intend to do with regard not merely to the staple trades but those various trades which depend upon certain semi-manufactured goods coming into this country, which they have to work up and finish?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
The hon. Member is now going 1888 beyond the Question before the Committee. The Question before the Committee is whether there should be an inquiry before the duty is put on.
§ Mr. COCKS
I maintain that there ought to be an inquiry. I will not argue the question, but I would ask what the Government policy is so far as the staple trades and other trades are concerned. Is it the idea that in future this country is to depend upon the population employed in our staple industries, and not upon the other industries? If so, it is clear that under a Protective tariff we shall not be able to maintain as large a population as we do at the present time. Seeing that we shall only be able to maintain a small population, Protection and birth control will have to go together, and the Cabinet will have to be enlarged by the inclusion of Dr. Marie Stopes, unless the Home Secretary makes way for her. Then there is the case of foodstuffs. By imposing a 10 per cent. duty on foodstuffs the Government will make the economic position very much worse than it is to-day. In my constituency many of the people are very poor. Many of them earn only about 30s. to 35s. a week or even less. If they have to pay more for their cheese, butter, margarine, tinned fruits and condensed milk it will be a very tragic thing for them. I am not given to sobstuff or to sentimental utterances, but I do feel the tragedy of that position. I say quite coldly and calmly to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it is quite obvious that the result of bringing in a duty of this sort will be that the infantile death rate will increase.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is now making a speech which should be delivered on the question, "That the Clause stand part."
§ Mr. COCKS
I will endeavour to keep within your Ruling. Another reason in favour of an inquiry is that at the present time we are getting into so serious a position that many people believe that sooner or later in this country there will inevitably be a social clash. I hope that that will not happen, but I am afraid that the steps the Government are taking will bring that clash nearer. The Government in putting on these duties seem to have lost the old aristocratic touch. In the old days the governing class knew how to rule because they knew exactly 1889 when to retreat. To-day, the Government are no longer represented by the Cavendishes and Cecils and others who possessed the governing instinct, but by representatives of capital and finance who treat the workers of this country with the ill-bred insolence of the nouveau riche—
§ Mr. COCKS
These proposals are a reflection of the present condition of the world, which is plunging every day more deeply into insanity. We suggest that an inquiry might mitigate the Government madness so that instead of having a Bill fit for the padded cell we may reduce their proposals to a state of genial and harmless idiocy.
§ Mr. ALED ROBERTS
I rise to support the Amendment, and as this is the first opportunity I have had of speaking in this House, I hope the Committee will extend to me that consideration which they usually exercise on these occasions. This particular Clause is, perhaps, the most important of the Bill. Without this 10 per cent. tariff the whole Bill and the superstructure that is to be built upon it could not proceed. I have listened with great care to the statements made regarding the promises given for an inquiry before tariffs would be levied. At the time we were given to understand clearly that some form of inquiry would be held as to the necessity for tariffs before any measures were introduced. It may be repetition, but I must say that I agree with those who contend that the Government have not carried out their undertakings to the electors in this respect. While listening to the President of the Board of Trade putting forward some strong arguments as to why a separate and independent inquiry is not necessary, it struck me that the Government in the Bill have already admitted the principle of an independent inquiry. It sets up some form of a judicial inquiry. It recognises that there is a need for inquiry, and in this Clause there is a provision that after six months alterations may be made, duties may be reduced, goods may be added to the free list. If these measures are necessary at the expiration of six months, if inquiry is necessary during that time, there is every possibility that some goods may be taxed under a flat rate without inquiry, 1890 and that serious damage may be inflicted on the trades themselves.
I look at it in this way, that it would be well for the Government to satisfy the people of this country that there is a genuine need for these taxes and customs duties on certain articles before imposing them, rather than put on a small tax and strike a blow at their solar plexus from which they may not recover. Some goods are already exempted; and I presume that the reason why no inquiry has been made in the case of raw cotton and wool is because they are big commodities, concerned with big trades, and that it is so obvious that a tax on these raw materials would damage these trades that there is no need for an inquiry. The principle is admitted by the Government, and they come in free, simply because they are big trades; but it makes the case for an inquiry all the stronger in the case of small trades, which are likely to be overlooked, and whose difficulties may be even greater if a tax is put upon their raw material.
I do not want to run the risk of being called to order, but I want to say this, that, if inquiry is necessary in regard to raw materials it is particularly necessary in regard to foodstuffs. I have always before my mind the condition of many people whom I represent. I know the case of one colliery where 2,000 men are employed, and where it is only by the forbearance of the debenture holders and the county council that the colliery is kept going. Furthermore, the men employed in the colliery are returning week after week a proportion of their wages to the colliery owners in order to keep the place going. They are living on the border line. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has admitted that the result of these proposals, into which no inquiry has been made, will be a rise of what he described as two or three points in the cost of living index figure. A rise of two or three points may mean very little to some people, but it means a great deal to others. I know that the short answer to this is that possibly some of these duties will assist trades which use coal and thus put the colliery right, but that is a purely problematical possibility; and in the case I have in mind there is no doubt that they will increase the cost of living. The case for an independent inquiry is strong and evident, and the principle is admitted in the Bill 1891 through the free list, and by the fact that alterations may be made at the end of six months. I desire to support the Amendment.
§ Mr. JANNER
Being a very new Member myself, and having addressed the House only once before, may I take the opportunity of congratulating the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. A. Roberts) on his speech. Hon. Members who hold similar opinions were glad to hear the views he expressed and all members of the Committee must have been delighted with the manner in which he expressed them. I hope that he will on many future occasions assist the Committee in its deliberations. When the country was confronted with the crisis, when everybody was hurrying and scurrying from one corner to another, inquiring what was to be done to put matters right, we were told by those who were anxious to have a united National Government that there was to be a thorough inquiry on the question of tariffs before any steps would be taken. I say to my Liberal friends who accepted what was known and understood as the doctor's mandate, that they are not entitled to accept the Bill without this Amendment, although they may be entitled to place themselves in the doctor's hands.
I take it that the doctor in this instance is the general practitioner, who was to submit his patient to a thorough X-ray examination, and, after having made a very careful examination of the X-ray plates, on the advice of a physician of renown, was to come to conclusions which were appropriate to deal with the disease. [Interruption.] With the greatest respect to hon. Members, the question at issue is not how much longer; the question is whether we are going thoroughly to examine the complaint, or are we going to put the patient through it before we know the nature of the disease? Are we going to apply the surgeon's knife without having decided the nature of the complaint? I am not satisfied, like many more hon. Members, with the old arguments and the old investigations which were used for the purpose of proclaiming throughout the length and breadth of the land the importance of tariffs. The question is what is the remedy for the present occasion, not whether the old theories which have been 1892 propounded for years are satisfactory merely because of the arguments used to advance them years ago. I say this because I feel that in the last words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he was referring in such a dignified manner to one who had preceded him, that he had accepted wholesale and without investigation the proposals which were preached by the late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain.
At this stage we must re-examine the position and ask ourselves whether the difficulties are such that they can be coped with by the methods suggested by the Bill before they are actually put into practice. My reason for saying that I am not satisfied is because I would like to know, apart from any question of the United States of America and apart from any question of foreign countries, what inquiries have been made of our Colonies; and what answer has been given if such inquiries have been made. How far are we going to commit ourselves to such proposals, of which we shall not be able to relieve ourselves without the possibility of six months' torture, without asking what has been the experience of our Colonies, how they feel about it, and what their experience has been during the time they have been practising the policy which we are attempting to put into operation in this country?
I am not satisfied that inquiry has been made, because I cannot conceive that any one who has made an inquiry coming to the conclusion, when times and circumstances are so bad, that a tax should be put upon any specific item of food. Even if we reduce our millions of unemployed by one-third or by one-half, there will still be large numbers of unemployed dependent upon the food they get to keep body and soul together. How can anybody say that they have made a thorough inquiry and investigation, sufficient to justify the introduction of a Measure of this description, when they must know that it means an increase in the price of food to the unemployed, who will be unable to maintain body and soul together?
I want to know what inquiries they have made with regard to the average man and woman in the street. I want to know whether they have had a thorough investigation into the conditions of people who are living on the miserable dole that 1893 is paid to them at present. I want to know whether they have inquired into the conditions of people who have to depend on various charitable institutions, whether they have inquired into the possibilities of these various methods of providing necessities at the present time without increasing the cost of food. If I were satisfied that such inquiries had been made, I would not have supported this Amendment. But I am not satisfied, and I am sure most Members of the House are not satisfied that the necessary inquiries have been made. Hon. Members know very well that this proposal is based to a considerable extent on old-fangled ideas which have been in their minds for years. Every Member of the House should think very carefully before he allows a Measure of this description to go forward without inserting words which would mean that before anything can be put into practice thorough and proper inquiry, such as was promised, will take place.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I do think that my hon. Friends opposite are most unreasonable in asking the Government to have an inquiry before anything like this is done. When it is necessary to do something in order to get some money, the holding of an inquiry first is almost suicidal. I am not anxious to-day to discuss the question whether this proposal is going to raise the cost of living by three points or by 10 points. We shall find out. I do not think that any amount of inquiry will satisfy the Government that they are wrong in what they propose. I see before me the results of inquiry by the Government into the question of going off the Gold Standard. They inquired and inquired and inquired, and made up their minds that it would be absolute ruin to go off the Gold Standard. And then they did it. What is the use of inquiry? They have not learned much yet. They still have not the faintest idea whether the imposition of a 10 per cent. duty will send the pound up or down. They have not thought about it.
I am more particularly interested in the potting trade, one of those unfortunate small trades that are inadequately represented in this House. The cotton trade has all that it wants, free raw material; the shipbuilding trade has free raw material; the iron and steel trade has free raw material. But what about 1894 the potting trade? Why should we be picked on in this way for penalising? If the people of this country have to find £30,000,000 in the most foolish way, let them all find it and do not leave the unfortunate small trades that cannot make a fuss, to bear all the burden. We get our raw material in the shape of flints from France. The price has already gone up 40 per cent. owing to the fall in the value of the pound. Shove it up a bit more. The trade cannot get on as it is. We are all in debt to the banks. You have not brought the bank rate down very far yet. Borax—pure raw material—taxed colours—all taxed.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I gather that the right hon. Gentleman is not in favour of inquiry, so I fail to see where his speech is leading.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I thought it was rather unkind to urge the Government to inquire. The longer we can postpone the taking of this step, the better. Everything depends on whom you inquire from. Up to now the Government appear to have inquired from the people who make the largest noise, from the big trades. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade has been having a sort of joy-ride around all the steelworks of the country, finding out something about the business, and he has come to the conclusion, and rightly, that whatever else we do we must exempt shipbuilding and iron ore. A little more of that inquiry in the less vocal trades might be equally useful. I still think that it is almost more than we can expect of the Government. It is essential that the Government should make up its own mind. I am convinced that every one of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite is really doing this business against the grain; they are doing it, not because they like it, but because they have to get the money somehow. If inquiry will enable them to face the music, to say what they think, to be honest about this business, then it will have a good result, but if inquiry merely provides them with further evasions of the main issue, it will do no good.
The main issue really is this: The putting on of a 10 per cent. duty prevents imports coming into the country. It has exactly the same effect in that respect as a further fall of 2s. in the value of the pound. Will inquiry make it any clearer to right hon. Gentlemen opposite 1895 that the difference between a 10 per cent. tariff and a 10 per cent. fall in the value of the pound is not merely a difference affecting the imports into this country, but a fatal difference so far as the exports are concerned? A fall in the value of the pound would save the potting trade, would save our export trade. It would enable us to compete in all the neutral markets of the world. A tariff, instead of helping the export trade in any way, makes our raw materials more expensive, even if it does not push up the cost of living or wages. It increase the overhead charges on the industry and prevents us from competing in neutral markets. There are more people out of work. What I say of the potting trade is equally true of every other trade in the country. Of the two alternatives, a fall in the value of the pound or a tariff, the Government have selected the tariff. I do not believe they have selected it in the interest of the trade of the country. They have selected it purely with the object of getting £30,000,000 of money out of the taxpayer, and, gild the pill as they will, they cannot make it agreeable to the people of this country to pay £30,000,000 more taxation. The Government are levying it in indirect taxation, and it is all falling on industry in some way or other.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The right hon. Gentleman is now engaging in a general discussion of tariff policy. That would be more appropriate on an Amendment which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies).
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I was thinking that inquiry was the only thing that could save us from a Government which has not quite made up its mind on which horse it is going to run. If it is riding on the necessity for revenue, let it, do so. If, on the other hand, Members of the Government really believe that a tariff of 10 per cent. is to benefit the industries protected, let them boldly say that. But do not let them try to ride both horses at once. Inquiry might make that clear. Certainly we ought to give them an opportunity of clearing their own minds on this question.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
Until the speech of the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), the whole of this Debate has been carried on by Members of the Liberal party. The speech of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade has been attacked in a very eloquent and charming maiden speech from an hon. Member below the Gangway, and has been attacked on all sides because it is said to have been against the pledges given at the election. I maintain that the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary, and the steps which the Government are taking without going into an endless inquiry, fulfil the pledge given at the election by almost all of us who were returned to support the Government. If there is anything on which there must be a clear distinction between this Government and the last Government, it is that this Government is pledged to direct action and to doing its best on every occasion, and not to have inquiries which would merely drag out their length over the forthcoming years until another election is due and more inquiries are called for.
The Government cannot do other than oppose this Amendment. If any of us at the election had said that we favoured prolonged inquiries we should not have been returned to this House. What many of us did say was that we were prepared to accept the findings of the Cabinet, that we regarded the Members of the Cabinet as sufficiently competent to make up their minds about what was going on in the world to-day, and that they were just as good as professors or anyone of that kind outside. I am perfectly prepared to place confidence in the decision of Members of the Cabinet, provided that they stand for action and for carrying on the business of the country. It is pure humbug to take up the time of the House in asking for a prolonged inquiry of this kind, and I hope that the Debate on this particular subject will soon cease.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 61: Noes, 293.1899
|Division No. 66.]||AYES||[6.44 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Batey, Joseph||Briant, Frank|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Bernays, Robert||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)|
|Buchanan, George||Hirst, George Henry||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Cape, Thomas||Holdsworth, Herbert||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Janner, Barnett||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Cowan, D. M.||Jenkins, Sir William||Price, Gabriel|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||John, William||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Curry, A. C.||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Dagger, George||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Samuel, Rt. Han. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kirkwood, David||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Edwards, Charles||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Thorne, William James|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Logan, David Gilbert||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Lunn, William||Wellhead, Richard C.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||McKeag, William||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Major Lloyd George and Sir Percy Harris.|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Maxton, James|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Conant, R. J. E.||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Cook, Thomas A.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Cooke, James D.||Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle)|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Cooper, A. Duff||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)|
|Albery, Irving James||Craven-Ellis, William||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Allen, William (Stoke on-Trent)||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hillman, Dr. George B.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Crooke, J. Smedley||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Apsley, Lord||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Cross, R. H.||Hornby, Frank|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Crossley, A. C.||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Hume, Sir George Hopwood|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeevil)||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Balniel, Lord||Davison, Sir William Henry||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Dickie, John P.||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Donner, P. W.||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)|
|Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)||Doran, Edward||Ker, J. Campbell|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Drewe, Cedric||Kerr, Hamilton W.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Duckworth, George A. V.||Kimball, Lawrence|
|Bird, Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.)||Duggan, Hubert John||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M, H. R.|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Dunglass, Lord||Knebworth, Viscount|
|Blindell, James||Eastwood, John Francis||Knox, sir Alfred|
|Borodate, Viscount||Eden, Robert Anthony||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Boulton, W. W.||Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Law, Sir Alfred|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Ellis, Robert Geoffrey||Leckie, J. A.|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Levy, Thomas|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Lewis, Oswald|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super Mare)||Liddall, Walter S.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunllffe-|
|Brown, Ernest (Lelth)||Everard, W. Lindsay||Llewellin, Major John J.|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Lloyd, Geoffrey|
|Buchan, John||Fleiden, Edward Brocklehurst||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'ndsw'th)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G, T.||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)|
|Burghley, Lord||Fraser, Captain Ian||Loder, Captain J. de Vere|
|Burnett, John George||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Ganzonl, Sir John||Lymington, Viscount|
|Caine, G. R. Hall-||Gibson, Charles Granville||Mebane, William|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)|
|Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col, Rt. Hon. Sir John||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Carver, Major William H.||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.||McEwen, J. H. F.|
|Castle Stewart, Earl||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||McLean, Major Alan|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Gower, Sir Robert||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Macmillan, Maurice Harold|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Grimston, R. V.||Magnay, Thomas|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgbaston)||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Manningham-Buller, Lt-Col. Sir M.|
|Chotzner, Allied James||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Margesson, Capt. Henry David B.|
|Christie, James Archibald||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hales, Harold K.||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)|
|Clayton. Dr. George C.||Hail, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Meller, Richard James|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Harbord, Arthur||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Colville, Major David John||Hartland, George A.||Millar, Sir James Duncan|
|Mills. Major J. D. (New Forest)||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Mitchell, Harold P, (Br'tt'd & Chisw'k)||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Mitcheson, G. G.||Road, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Templeton, William P.|
|Monsen, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Ross, Ronald D.||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Runge, Norah Cecil||Thompson, Luke|
|Moreing, Adrian C.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Morrison, William Shepherd||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Moss, Captain H. J.||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Mulrhead, Major A. J.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-On-T.)|
|Nation, Brigadier-General J, J. H.||Salt, Edward W.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Newton, Sir Douglas George C.||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||Train, John|
|Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersl'ld)||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Torten, Robert Hugh|
|Normand, Wilfrid Guild||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A, G. D.||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Homey)|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Savery, Samuel Servington||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Scone, Lord||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Palmer, Francis Noel||Selley, Harry R.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Peake, Captain Osbert||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Pearson, William G.||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Peat, Charles U.||Skelton, Archibald Noel||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Penny, Sir George||Smiles, Lieut.-Col, Sir Walter D.||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Perkins, Walter R. D.||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)||Weymouth, viscount|
|Petherick, M.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Powell, Lieut.-Col. Eveiyn G. H.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Purbrick, R.||Smithers, Waldron||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Pybus, Percy Jobs||Somervell, Donald Bradley||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Ramey, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Soper, Richard||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-colonel George|
|Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Ramsden, E.||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Ratcliffe, Arthur||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)||Withers, Sir John James|
|Reed. Arthur C. (Exeter)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)||Womersley, Waiter James|
|Reid, David D. (County Down)||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Stones, James||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Remer, John R.||Strickland, Captain W. F.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Captain Austin Hudson and|
|Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip||Summersby, Charles H.||Commander Southby.|
§ Sir STAFFORD CRIPPS
I beg to move, in page 2, line 11, to leave out the words "first day of March" and to insert instead thereof the words "fifteenth day of November."
The reason why the date 15th November has been selected will appear from the short remarks which I am about to make. We do not propose to divide the Committee on the Amendments dealing with this point because Divisions take a long time and we want to get as much useful discussion as we can; but although we may not divide on these Amendments we hope to show that it is desirable that they should be made. It is difficult to understand how far the Government have considered questions such as this, involving the inter-relation of Dominion preferences and foreign preferences with the incidence of taxation in this country. I say that it is difficult to know how far the Government have considered it, because, on the last Amendment, the President of the Board of Trade told the Committee that a careful inquiry had been made by the Government before putting on this taxation, but, when I went into the Division Lobby I found that one Member of the committee which was supposed to have 1900 made that careful inquiry, namely, the Home Secretary, was voting against the Government, presumably because no proper inquiry had been made. One is in a difficulty if one member of a committee of inquiry states decisively that that inquiry has been full and careful, while another—though he did not describe the inquiry to this Committee—goes into the Lobby to show, by his vote, that he considers that there has been no adequate or proper inquiry. We do not know, therefore, how far the various questions which will arise on this matter have been considered by the committee which was charged with inquiry into them.
Under Clause 4, Sub-section (2) the ad valorem duty is not to apply to any Dominion goods until 15th November, 1932 and thereafter under Sub-section (3) the Treasury may, on the recommendation of the Secretary of State—presumably it is not the Home Secretary in this case, because that would be rather grotesque, but the Dominions Secretary—by order direct that as regards certain goods taxation may be levied upon them though they come from the Dominions. I imagine the object is to give time to come to any arrangements at the Ottawa Conference which are found necessary.
1901 Under Clause 7 there is power in certain cases, on the recommendation of the Board of Trade, for the Treasury to direct, as regards goods from certain foreign countries, that as from a date to be specified the general ad valorem duty shall not be chargeable or only some specific part of it shall be chargeable. Clearly that preference as regards foreign countries could not be given—indeed it has been said that it will not be given—until after the Ottawa Conference. The Dominions, I understand, are to have the first opportunity of getting preferences as one would expect so that these two matters incidental to this ad valorem duty, namely, the preference to the foreigners and the preference to the Dominions cannot be decided, under the Bill, until 15th November, 1932.
In addition to that, the House was told the other night that it was the intention and had now been arranged to have a general conference on the economic situation in Europe, especially with regard to Reparations, some time in June next. Clearly that conference will not complete its labours before the autumn. In that state of affairs it would not be right to bind the country to a general ad valorem duty until the negotiations have been carried through both with foreign countries and with the Dominions. I am not dealing at the moment with the additional duties, but with the general ad valorem duties. It is, in our view, most desirable that no such duty should be put on until the matter has been fully discussed both at the economic conference of Europe and with the Dominions. If the Government feel it is necessary to do so, they have the method of abnormal duties, which we believe to be bad but in which they believe. To adopt this policy of a permanent ad valorem duty on all the goods in the Bill—and on those which will be forced upon the Government by their supporters—on the eve of a European conference and of a conference with the Dominions, is in our view folly. It would be far better to leave it until after those conferences and thus have gone into them with an open mind to decide what policy to follow. That is better than laying down your policy first and then talking with other people about altering it. We, therefore, suggest that the date of 1st March should be omitted and the 15th November substituted, as that is the 1902 date which the Government have themselves put in the Bill with regard to Dominion preferences.
§ Mr. McENTEE
I desire to support the Amendment and to give some reasons why it would be an advantage to the country. It is obvious that large sections of the Government's supporters are dissatisfied with the course which they have taken and with the results, which are only now commencing to be understood, which will follow on this legislation. I have just received two letters on this subject. One of them is from the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, who express themselves as profoundly disturbed at the provisions of Clause 11 and ask us all to see that that Clause is struck out of the Bill. At the same time I was handed another letter from the Papermakers' Association of Great Britain and Ireland who say that they view with consternation and dismay the inclusion of esparto grass, which is the raw material for a very large section of the paper-making industry. They say that will undoubtedly result in increased unemployment, which will not only affect the trades specifically concerned but a number of other trades more or less related to the paper trade.
It must be obvious to Members that in almost every industry to-day there is a demand for the exclusion of certain goods from the Bill and the inclusion of others. There appears to be nothing approaching unanimity even among the Members of the Government as to what should be included under the 10 per cent. tariff or what should be allowed to come in free. This legislation has been hastily conceived and is going to affect adversely not only the people who will have to pay the increased costs, which will necessarily arise from the duties, but the country as a whole. The Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted the other night that there was going to be a general increase of prices in consequence of these tariffs. None of the hon. Gentlemen opposite would have been prepared to have made that admission in their election speeches. This is panic legislation which has been very little considered. No adequate inquiry has taken place. It must be obvious to all who, like myself, are receiving letters like those which I have quoted that there is a general feeling of consternation in the country. The Amendment proposes to postpone these duties until 15th 1903 November which would give the Government time to consider the Bill as they have not yet considered it. I hope that, in view of the general dissatisfaction expressed by Chambers of Commerce and industries all over the country with the Measure in its present form, the House will ask the Government to reconsider the whole matter and to bring forward Amendments which will allay the consternation in the country to-day.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member has just suggested that we should reconsider the whole subject matter of the Bill and should have an inquiry. He quoted a letter from a Chamber of Commerce, who wanted more Protection than there is in this Bill—
§ Mr. McENTEE
On a point of Order. They are asking that the Clause should be struck out and that they should be relieved from this duty.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Clause 11 allows materials to come into this country free and to strike it out, as they ask, would give more Protection. The hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the Amendment said he was not going to divide upon this and some other Amendments. We appreciate that course, because we would like to have as much discussion as possible before 9 o'clock, and I hope he will not think me discourteous if I say that there are some Amendments of greater importance than this one. I was curious to know why he thought 15th November was the proper date for the 10 per cent. duty to come into force and I was astonished at his moderation. I suppose he only took that date because he thought he could tie it up with the provisions of Clause 4. The effect of the Amendment would be to destroy any advantage which the Dominions may receive between now and the time when we shall have made the final arrangements with them that we shall discuss at Ottawa. Whether that is the object of the hon. and learned Gentleman or not I do not know, but that would be the unfortunate effect of accepting the Amendment. If I take his argument that it is folly for us to fix our rates of duty until we have concluded 1904 not only the arrangements with the Dominions, which we are to discuss at Ottawa, but any other treaties which we may in the future negotiate with foreign countries, that means, in effect, that we are to put off the operations of this Bill until the Greek Kalends. That is not the practice of other countries and, when the hon. and learned Gentleman says that we are not to pay any attention to our own policy until we see what alterations we may hereafter make in the policies of other countries, I confess that I am not able to follow him. I shall not take up any further time in discussing the Amendment, but will ask the House to reject it.
§ Mr. MANDER
I support this Amendment and hope that the Government will see their way to agree to this postponement, which will put them in a much stronger position at the Ottawa Conference. I hope the result of the arrangements there will be to increase trade with the Dominions. That will, however, not be too easy to attain, and we are approaching these negotiations far too much in a mood of sloppy sentimentality. The Secretary of State for the Colonies said the other day that the fact that these preferences were freely given would encourage those territories to give voluntary preferences to British goods. They are not going to give a voluntary preference. Any agreement we arrive at in the Ottawa Conference will he a very hard bargain indeed. It will be a difficult matter to get our goods into those territories, and we should have our hands as free as possible.
I will give an example to show how important it is that we should have our hands free. My own constituency, the centre of the lock and key trade, has been accustomed to export largely to Australia, but has been entirely shut out by high duties put on against the goods of this country. I am not in sympathy with the general plan, but I hope that one result will be to obtain ingress into markets of this kind. If something of that sort is not done, we shall not gain any advantage. I hope very much that the Government will keep their hands as free as possible, so that when the time tomes it will be clear to the Dominions that we can put duties on in any direction unless they come to some businesslike arrangement with us, without any 1905 question of sentiment, which will not play a large part in the question of tariffs. It is because I am anxious to see this particular side of the Government successful that I consider they will be well advised and in a stronger position if they are willing to postpone the date as suggested.
§ Mr. HENRY HASLAM
This is another Amendment for delay. The country last August was passing through one of the most serious crises in its history. A National Government was formed, a General Election was held, a mandate was given to the National Government, that Government has held an inquiry, and this Bill is one of the first important results. In these circumstances, I can imagine no course more calculated to bring this House of Commons into contempt than to sit down and inquire and have nothing but delays. Hon. Members have instanced one trade after another in which inquiries might be held for the alleviation of hardships, and one hon. Member not long ago compared the body politic to that of a patient and said that the patient ought to be most thoroughly examined by X-rays and have all the specialists that could be produced. It sometimes unfortunately happens that when a patient is in that condition, and when he has innumerable doctors to examine him, and all the latest scientific processes, he dies before the attempt to operate, and I think this patient too might die while these delays are taking place. I think it important that this Parliament should take action immediately on this question.
§ Mr. LEWIS
The hon. and learned Gentleman the late Solicitor-General, who moved the Amendment, laid stress upon the fact that there is to be a Conference in Europe this summer, and he argued that these decisions should be taken, not before, but after that Conference. He said that it would be improper for us to come to these decisions now, before that Conference took place. I think that most hon. Members of this House, and most of the members of the public outside, will consider that the very fact that this Conference is to take place in the summer is one of the 1906 strongest reasons for facing up to this problem now, so that we can show other countries that we are prepared to do with tariffs as we think fit for the defence of our own trade. We do not want any repetition of what we saw in the last Government, with the President of the Board of Trade going about the Continent and trying to get other countries to agree to a tariff truce, when he had no weapon in his hand. I think the argument which the hon. and learned Gentleman brought forward in support of the Amendment is really one of the strongest arguments against it.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The Amendments in the names of the hon. Member for Broxstowe (Mr. Cocks)—in page 2, line 13, after the word "all," to insert the word "manufactured"—of the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. A. Roberts)—in line 13, after the word "goods," to insert the wordsother than foodstuffs, raw materials, and articles mainly unmanufactured as defined in the Trade and Navigation Accounts.—of the hon. Member for North Bristol (Mr. Bernays)—in line 13, after the word "goods," to insert the words "other than foodstuffs"—and of the hon. and gallant Member for Newbury (Brigadier-General Brown)—in line 15, after the word "section," to insert the wordsbut including goods to which those provisions are made applicable as hereinafter provided.—are all covered by the Ruling given by the Chairman earlier this evening.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I beg to move, in page 2, line 16, to leave out the word "ten," and to insert instead thereof the word "five."
The Amendment raises a point of considerable substance, and I feel sure that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to say how he can meet us, and it may be that he will be able to accept the Amendment after we have discussed it. The first thing that I want to know is, What is there about 10 per cent. that is sacrosanct as compared with, say, 5 per cent., 7½ per cent., or 9 per cent.? What is there about 10 per cent. in particular that has struck the imagination of the Gov- 1907 ernment? There is in this Bill a general duty of 10 per cent., there are additional duties on special kinds of goods, preferences for the Dominions, Colonial preferences, and there are discriminations against foreign countries, but there is a general duty of 10 per cent. on all goods except those that are exempted in the Schedule.
We, on this side, are definitely opposed to any tariff at all, and I have no hesitation in saying, speaking on my own behalf, that these proposals of the Government have convinced me more than ever that. Free Trade is the best fiscal policy for this country. It may be that some hon. Members opposite, if they are lucky enough to get elected again at the next election, will probably be found sitting on this side and demanding that the Government then in power shall abolish the whole of the proposals that they are now putting into operation. Those who are interested in this problem, especially the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary and the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education, whom I am glad to see sitting there, will remember the history of the fiscal policy of this country. It took only three years to build a tariff ring round this country about a century ago, but it then took a quarter of a century to abolish those tariffs. Consequently we ought to-night to be very, very chary as to what we are doing in this matter.
There is no attempt here to impose a scientific tariff. All that the Government are doing is to put 10 per cent. on all goods except those exempted in the Schedule, and we want to know why 10 per cent. has been fixed. Other Governments have experimented with tariffs. This is not the first Government to impose tariffs, nor is this the first time that tariffs have been imposed in this country, and I venture to strike a prophetic note and to say that after this experiment has been proceeding for a few years, it will be proved in this country, as it has been proved in other countries, that the experiment was not worth while.
Let me pass on to another consideration. The United States of America is often quoted here as an example of a tariff country, and there they imposed long ago a general tariff of 20 per cent. I thought the right hon. Gentleman the 1908 Chancellor of the Exchequer would have taken his cue from the United States, but instead of putting on a duty of 20 per cent., as they imposed there in 1842, we are to be satisfied with a 10 per cent. duty and exemptions for several articles. It is interesting, therefore, to see how this 20 per cent. universal tariff, imposed in America so long ago, was applied to the commodities that came under it. We are told by a very high authority that the manipulation of this 20 per cent. uniform tariff was so putrid that the tariff was dubbed in the end "the tariff of abomination," and it has been known in America ever since as "the tariff of abomination."
I would like to see this experiment tried, not with a tariff of 10 per cent., but with a tariff of 5 per cent., and I shall be glad to live long enough to see what will happen when the experiment has been tried and failed. I am interested in it from this angle; and this is the main reason why I move this Amendment: There is no doubt now, whatever may have been said at the introduction of these proposals, that the cost of living is going up as a result of the imposition of this tariff. May I repeat what the late Lord Melchett, who is a man well worth quoting, said in this House many years ago? Every Member of this House will, I am sure, bow to his name, because he was one of the most capable industrialists and commercial men that this country has ever produced, and this is what he said: "What is the use of arguing that tariffs do not raise prices? Tariffs would be of no use at all unless they did raise prices." That statement, I think, still holds good at the present time.
§ Mr. DAVIES
Perhaps the hon. Member will look it up. He is not quite so busy as I am. There is an element of unfairness in stipulating a duty of 10 per cent., because there is in this Bill a provision for the setting up of an Advisory Committee, and is it not unfair that they should be faced, first of all, with a uniform tariff of 10 per cent., when in fact, once they are faced with the details of this problem, they themselves might feel inclined to say that the tariff should be reduced in some cases to 5 per cent.? There is no chance for that Committee to do its duty properly below 1909 the 10 per cent., and if our Amendment were carried, it would give them discretion, at all events, to do anything they liked above 5 per cent. I want them to have the opportunity, if necessary, to say 5½ per cent., 7½ per cent., 9 per cent., or any percentage they like, because I think they are entitled to say that something below 10 per cent. ought to operate in relation to some commodities.
There is another fact that must be borne in mind. The President of the Board of Trade told us to-day that the imposition of the tariffs that have already been applied under the horticultural products proposals had not only had an economic effect favourable to our markets, but in fact had had a great psychological effect upon the whole of Europe. We have heard a great many statements made in this House recently as to what is happening in connection with these tariffs. An hon. Member opposite said, "Look at the factories budding forth in Lancashire owing to tariffs." Well, I live in Lancashire, and I claim to know it better than the hon. Member who made that statement, but, I have yet to know—and I should be very pleased if any hon. Member would stand up in this House to-night and tell me—of the spot in Lancashire where any new industry has cropped up consequent upon these proposals. I have not found one yet. I shall be very glad to see employment increasing and industry improving, but really hon. Gentlemen must, whatever they may say in speeches at general elections, give us facts in the House to prove how this experiment works.
§ Mr. GIBSON
I will give the hon. Gentleman one. A well-known Czechoslovakian boot manufacturer—Thom Bata of Zlin—who started 20 years ago, completed the purchase two weeks ago of 600 acres of land at East Tilbury to start a boot factory in this country in order that he may have free access to the Colonial markets and avoid the 10 per cent. duty in this country.
§ Mr. DAVIES
Would it surprise the hon. Gentleman to know that Leicester people tell me that they cannot sell the boots they are making?
§ Mr. GIBSON
The gentleman I mentioned is the biggest boot manufacturer in the world outside America.
§ Mr. DAVIES
I have seen his factory, and I regard him as a great industrialist and as a man of genius, but I cannot understand how a Czechoslovakian can come to Great Britain and manufacture goods and sell them when our own people, who are better skilled than he is, cannot sell their products.
§ Mr. DAVIES
We hear about all these foreign capitalists coming here, but I want to see them actually here before I believe anything of the kind.
§ Sir ARTHUR STEEL-MAITLAND
Is it not true that the land has been actually purchased for this boot factory?
§ Mr. DAVIES
I heard once that the great Henry Ford bought some land, but he never built a factory on that land. I have heard all these stories before, but I want to know the spot where the new factory is situated and how many people are actually employed—[Interruption.] I am glad that the Committee has at last been roused a little, and that the Government benches are taking more interest in the Debate than they have done hitherto. The President of the Board of Trade will have it that the mere introduction of this Measure has had a great psychological effect upon the foreigner. Surely, the percentage of the duty cannot in itself have all that effect. A duty of 5 per cent., I should imagine, would have the same psychological effect upon the foreigner. According to the arguments of hon. Gentlemen opposite, if we reduce the duty to 5 per cent, we would have all the Czechoslovakian boot manufacturers coming to this country. The bargaining power of the Government will be quite as strong with a 5 per cent. as with a 10 per cent. duty, because the Advisory Committee will be entitled to build upon the 5 per cent. to any figure they like, just as they are entitled to build on the 10 per cent.
The most important point of all is that every percentage that is put on goods coming into this country means a depreciation in the real value of wages. A 10 per cent. tariff may reduce the real value of wages, say, by 4 per cent., and a 5 1911 per cent. duty will reduce it by only 2 per cent. I prefer a reduction in the standard of life by 2 per cent. rather than 4 per cent. Will the Parliamentary Secretary be good enough to tell the Committee what there is sacrosanct about 10 per cent. rather than 5 per cent?
§ Mr. DAVIES
The hon. Member does not know the inner history of this controversy. The percentage is the pivot on which this Amendment turns, and having, I feel sure, convinced the Committee with the arguments I have put forward, I now leave it to the Parliamentary Secretary.
§ Mr. REMER
I would not have intervened but for the fact that the hon. Gentleman did not give way in the middle of his speech when he challenged the point whether factories had actually come to this country. I am glad to be able to accommodate him, because in the borough of Macclesfield certain looms are going into an old cotton mill, which has been closed down for five years. That is the result of the announcement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and at the end of this week these works will be actually employing British labour which for so long has been unemployed. I am sure that in view of that, the hon. Gentleman will withdraw his Amendment. I would prefer a larger duty because I am informed that the real reason for foreign manufacturers coming to this country is that they hope the protection will be very much more than 10 per cent. and will give them a real chance of employing British labour in this country.
§ Mr. GIBSON
I hope that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will resist this Amendment, because I am one of those who think that the 10 per cent. will be the basis of a permanent tariff which will come into operation shortly. As the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) said that no businesses have come to this country because of the tariff, I will read for his information a statement made the other day by the chairman of Listers, of Bradford, the finest makers of velvet in the world. He said:The announcement in the House of Commons regarding tariffs had given fresh confidence both in the present Government and in the outlook on the future trade. 1912 Manufacturers could now look ahead and face the problem of replacement and development and expenditure on machines, which they dare not contemplate during the past few years.If the tariff stopped at 10 per cent. it would spell disaster in the woollen industry, which is now enjoying a greater measure of prosperity than it has known for 10 years. The firm of Listers have amalgamated during the past few weeks with a German firm named Peltzer, and at the present moment 300 tons of machinery are coming over from the German firm to Bradford. This firm amalgamated with Listens to manufacture a particular kind of velvet here—
§ Mr. GIBSON
I do not mind that so much if it provides employment for our people in this country. I am sick and tired of listening to members of the Opposition speaking about the unemployed and unemployment payments and about the difficulties of the unemployed, but we on these benches say that we want to provide them with work and wages by the protection of their industry through the medium of tariffs. I can give the hon. Gentleman another instance. One of my friends in Leeds has three woollen mills. During the boom in 1910, one was built at a cost of £40,000, and it has cost him money ever since. For two years it was never run. He opened it out two weeks ago as a result of the 50 per cent. duty under the Abnormal Importations Act. Last week he was in London and he took home to Leeds district £40,000 worth of orders for his workpeople—orders which had always been placed in Germany. All his three mills are now working overtime. I hope that the 10 per cent. tariff is only the commencement of a systematic adaptation of our industries to the tariff system in order that we may look after our own people instead of looking after the foreigners.
§ Mr. T. GRIFFITHS
We have been told by the hon. Member for Pudsey and Otley (Mr. Gibson) what has been done in this and that industry in order to establish his case for a tariff. I do not know whether his post-bag is the same as mine, but employers who probably voted for the National Government are continually sending circulars to Members of the House pointing out that what the Home Secretary and the other Liberal Members 1913 of the Cabinet have contended, namely, that tariffs will be ruinous and detrimental to industry, is perfectly true. I do not know whether the hon. Member has received such circulars.
§ Mr. GRIFFITHS
They come from shipowners, shipbuilders, tin plate and sheet manufacturers, and many other industries. It is no good the hon. Member trying to persuade the Committee and the country that the tariff will not increase prices. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, on the Second Reading of the Import Duties Bill, said:If we cast our minds back again to 12 months ago, what farmer in February of last year could possibly have expected that today he would see given to him not only a certain 10 per cent., but also a possible additional duty upon his oats, eggs, poultry, butter, milk, cheese, canned meat, in addition to a promise of a quota system which will give him a guaranteed price and a secure market for his wheat, and further assistance in other directions provided that proper arrangements for organisation are made? Surely there is occasion for something more than the intense disappointment which has been voiced in some quarters."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1932; col. 1603, Vol. 261.]If that does not mean an increase in prices, what does? That is a quotation from the Chancellor of the Exchequer declaring that this 10 per cent. is to give an advantage to the farmer; but that is bound to be passed on to the consumer, who will have to pay much higher prices. Let me give one quotation from the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). I was in Oxford at the time when he and the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) broke away from the distinguished statesman, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, in 1903. The Tory Press used to dub them "The two jumping cats," and the right hon. Member for Epping has been jumping ever since, as we know. I do not forget what he said, because I agreed with him. I was attending a lecture at Oxford by Professor Edgeworth, the greatest authority on international trade in this country. The right hon. Member for Epping said:What does Protection mean? It means increased prices to the consumer, a reduction of purchasing power to the working man, and, in the end, causes more unemployment in the country than under any other system.
§ Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT
Will the hon. Member also tell us what was said on this subject during the reign of Queen Anne?
§ Mr. GRIFFITHS
I think the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) is more accustomed to the history of Queen Anne and the old maids in Bournemouth whom he represents, than other history. I have seen some of his constituents when I have visited Bournemouth. They listen on the wireless for the Stock Exchange prices. If the market is firm they keep the wireless on, but if it is reported that the market was dull they turn it off at once. Those are the sort of Queen Annes the hon. Member represents. I am not going far back into history in quoting what the right hon. Member for Epping said in 1903, because the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us how delighted and proud he was to introduce a Bill giving effect to the proposals which his distinguished father put forward in 1903. If the Chancellor can cite 1903 I do not see why I should not cite 1903 as well.
I would not have given that quotation but for the hon. Member. I rose to deal with another point, a statement made by the hon. and gallant Member for King's Norton (Major Thomas). I wish he were here. I gave him notice that I was going to call attention to a statement he made in my constituency last week. He was answering questions at a meeting, and the report says:When questions were invited, Mr. S. Barnes asked Major Thomas what benefit the tinplate trade or the galvanised sheet trade would derive from a 10 per cent. tariff on steel bars? Also, what inducement would the heavy steel merchants have, seeing that there would still be a margin left of 14s. to 15s. a ton in favour of the foreign manufacturers?The hon. and gallant Member for King's Norton replied that nobody was going to be satisfied with the 10 per cent. duty. He is a steel manufacturer. I represent the men in the steel trade. He is looking after his interests, and I am looking after the interests of our men. The report goes on:Major Thomas replied that nobody was going to be satisfied with the 10 per cent. He had had a good deal to do with this question, and although a duty of 10 per cent. was absolutely useless it was the thin end of the wedge, and was the basis upon which the scientific tariff would be built up. He added, I do not often bet, but I am willing 1915 to bet that the iron and steel trade generally is going to be protected at a higher rate than 10 per cent. during the next two or three months.'There is a tip from the horse's mouth, a tip from the stable! By whose authority did the hon. and gallant Member for King's Norton stand up before an audience and say, "I will bet that in less than two or three months we are going to have a higher tariff than 10 per cent. in the iron and steel trade"? I will give the reply. The reply is that the steel manufacturers of this country and the members of the Federation of British Industries have given their orders to the Government. The Government have not carried out the national policy which the people asked for, but are doing the bidding of the Federation of British Industries and the manufacturers in the iron and steel trade, without any consideration for the users of steel, the re-rolling trade, and others. As the hon. and gallant Member for King's Norton said, this 10 per cent. is not a bit of good, and we say that the 50 per cent. does far less good from the point of view of its indirect attack on the wages of the men in the iron and steel and other industries. If my hon. Friend put forward strong arguments I claim that I have put forward stronger arguments, and therefore I hope that the Government will accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. HALES
I wish to give in a few words two instances of how this 10 per cent. duty is affecting trade. Last week a manufacturer of cycle tyre pumps at Birmingham placed a contract with a firm at Twickenham for the rubber connections for the pumps. The manufacturer told him, "If there is only a 10 per cent. tariff put on we shall not raise the price; if it is above 10 per cent. we must raise it." Immediately the 10 per cent. was confirmed the order was placed in Germany. Otherwise, the order would have gone to the Dunlop factory. That is but one instance of where the foreigner pays the tax. I have a business in India. The fall in the pound and the probability of a 10 per cent. preference for India has altogether altered the state of affairs. I have been enabled to engage extra hands and raise the wages of my staff out there. We are now inundated with orders for British goods, made at Cricklewood, which formerly were made in Detroit and 1916 Flint in America. The only trouble is that the duty is too small. If it were 20 per cent. we should have far better results both as regards raising revenue and finding work for our unemployed. As a man who employs a large staff in the export trade I can assure the Committee that we are in for the finest time in the history of this country for the last half century when we get going with the new tariff.
§ Major NATHAN
There is one short point which I wish to put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We are told that the Government are introducing a moderate protective tariff, but I ask whether that is the case. Having regard to all the surrounding circumstances, and if one admitted the contention that Protection is a remedy for the evil against which it is directed I should agree that a 10 per cent. duty was not a very high duty properly could be described as a low tariff; but a 10 per cent. tariff which is applied to specific articles is a different thing from a 10 per cent. tariff applied to a fluctuating rate of exchange. This, it is true, will be a 10 per cent. tariff when applied to those countries whose currencies are linked with sterling, but in the case of countries still on gold, like the United States of America, France, Belgium, Holland, South Africa, Switzerland, Dantzig, Lithuania and Poland, the position is different. Take the present depreciation of sterling in relation to the dollar. I will call it a 30 per cent. depreciation, and say the £ sterling is worth 14s. In order to acquire £100 worth of goods a British importer has to pay £140. That represents not a 10 per cent., but a 14 per cent. revenue tariff, a total differential figure since last September of 54 per cent. Again let us assume that sterling depreciates by 50 per cent., that is that the pound goes down to 10s. In order to acquire £100 worth of goods the British importer will then have to pay £200. That £200 will attract a 20 per cent. duty—it will work out at the rate of 20 per cent., and will involve a total differential since last September of 120 per cent. That is the position if sterling depreciates relatively to Gold Standard countries. In addition to the automatic tariff provided by the depreciation of 50 per cent., there is the artificial tariff of 20 per cent. imposed by this duty.
1917 What is the position if sterling appreciates instead of depreciating? If sterling returns to parity the duty will be limited to 10 per cent. This seems to be Protection turned upside down—the topsy turveydom of the tariff theory. The greater the automatic tariff the greater the artificial tariff. On a return to parity the automatic tariff disappears altogether, and the duty is reduced to the 10 per cent, prescribed by this Bill—but only at the point of parity in relation to the gold standard countries. In other words, the moment when the British manufacturer is protected most by the depreciation in exchange is the moment when he gets the most assistance from the Bill. Immediately he is left open to all the winds that blow and without the protection of depreciated currency, his protection under this Bill is reduced to 10 per cent.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. GIBSON
May I raise a point in answer to the hon. Member for North. East Bethnal Green (Major Nathan)? The hon. and gallant Member makes the mistake that is so often made, in stating that the manufacturer in this country always benefits from the fact that we have a depreciated currency. It does not follow that because we have pound sterling at its present-day figure we have the benefit of a tariff in the difference between our present pound sterling value and its parity value. If an American buys raw materials in any country or in any part of the Empire which is on a sterling basis, he buys his goods more cheaply than myself, and this fact cancels out almost entirely the disadvantage in which he is placed when selling his finished product to this country. My advantage in operating on a sterling basis is very small when competing with the man buying on a sterling basis with his gold basis currency.
§ Major NATHAN
There is no calculating at all. I am speaking, not of the case where the currency is linked with sterling, but where the currency is that of any gold standard country. I say, and I do not think it is contradicted, that that is Protection topsy turvy. The point upon which I was inquiring was as to whether this aspect of the Bill as it stands had received the attention of His Majesty's Government. We were told that it was to be a moderate tariff and 1918 a scientific tariff. When I hear of a scientific tariff I think of the question which was put to the immortal Juggins of Mr. Bernard Shaw's imagination in "Fanny's First Play." He was asked what was a gentlemanly method of jilting. "There is no gentlemanly method of jilting," was the reply. "Jilting is not gentlemanly in itself." So it is with Protection. There is no such thing as moderate or scientific Protection, because Protection is not moderate or scientific in itself.
§ Major ELLIOT
The remarkable thing about the arguments on this Amendment is that none of them are relevant to the Amendment. Whether the hon. and gallant Member for North-East Bethnal Green (Major Nathan) considers that all the cases he raised are covered by the Amendment which is under discussion I do not know. I think he admits that his speech had nothing to do with the Amendment.
§ Major NATHAN
I admit that they will not be covered by the Amendment, but I assert that the defects, the discrepancies, and the inconsistencies to which I have referred would be reduced by 50 per cent. by the acceptance of the Amendment.
§ Major ELLIOT
All I can say is to compliment the hon. and gallant Member on the Parliamentary skill, which he has used to get in, on this exiguous support, a speech which he was obviously bursting to deliver on some other subject. Let me say that the considerations which he has raised have not escaped the attention of His Majesty's Government. When you are faced with such a problem in exchange, the limiting factor consequent upon the depreciated pound is reinforced by the factor of the tariff. That is a scientific effect, and in such a ease this tariff has a 100 per cent. scientific application. I do not say that it is so in every case, but in this case it is thoroughly, completely and absolutely scientific, and the hon. and gallant Member ought to be satisfied with it.
We had an engaging turn from two hon. Members opposite. Neither of them knew which was the strongest man. The hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Griffiths) was saying that, strong as the arguments were which had been advanced by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. 1919 Rhys Davies), they were nothing to the arguments which he himself was advancing. I think there was not much in what either said. I was not terribly impressed by the arguments used by the hon. Member for Pontypool, and I was not impressed at all by the hon. Member for Westhoughton. To that extent certainly I thought the arguments of the hon. Member for Westhoughton were much less strong. When we are considering a great change in the fiscal system of this country, is it treating the House with full seriousness to come here and ask us why we thought of 10, and why not five? We thought of 10, because one must take some figure, and that is a figure which places us among the low-tariff countries and yet is one which will bring in an amount of Revenue reasonable enough to pay for the collection of it. Surely the hon. Member for Westhoughton would not suggest that the reduction of the tariff from 10 to 5 per cent. would wipe out all the evils of a tariff, which he describes, nor would the hon. Member for Pontypool.
The hon. Member for Westhoughton said that this is not giving anything away, because the additional duties can be put on to any amount. What is the use, then, from his point of view, of naming any figure at all? He said let the Committee go on, and place on additional duties as high as ever it will. Why take up the time of the House in moving these Amendments, if the result is not to make any change in the condition of affairs? The hon. Member for Pontypool argued for the steel workers as against hon. Members on this side of the House, who he said are only arguing for their profits. Surely he is aware that that is a trade where the profits of the employers and the wages of the men are closely related by a sliding scale on the price of steel.
I do not wish to go into the whole question of the rise in the cost of living by a 5 per cent. tariff as against a 10 per cent. tariff. In answer to the hon. Member who raised arguments against taxation which would fall upon the poor such as a tariff of 10 per cent. upon tinned milk, no doubt it would be a great hardship if a tariff of 10 per cent. were placed upon tinned 1920 milk, or a tariff of 15 or 20 per cent. Would the hon. Member for North-East Bethnal Green be surprised to hear that there is a tariff on tinned milk, that it was supported by him in the last Government and by hon. Members opposite, and that they had maintained that tariff not at 10 per cent. and not at 15 per cent., but at 27 per cent. on tinned milk? Yet we are told that this 10 per cent. is going to cause such a rise in the cost of living that people are going to be starved and enslaved all over the place because of a 10 per cent. tariff. Let those who have maintained for years tariffs of 133 per cent. on sugar and of 26 per cent. on sweetened condensed milk, which is used by the same poor people, look into their hearts and see if without hypocrisy they come down and raise a rhodomontade about the effect that a tariff of 10 per cent. will have when applied to articles which are not more indispensable than they themselves have been taxing for many years past.
§ Mr. H. HASLAM
I would like to say a word or two about the great industry of agriculture and about the effect that the Amendment, if carried, would have on those articles which it is proposed to bring under this 10 per cent. tariff. With poultry, eggs, butter and flour, a reduction of 5 per cent. would make a difference that would be almost imperceptible. I do not mean when I say imperceptible that there would be the slightest difference to the consumer in any case, but I am quite convinced that so low a tariff as 10 per cent. on the wholesale price, where such a very large fall of prices has cone about in recent months, would make the slightest difference to the retail price. It is going to make a certain amount of difference to the producer, and I think, if we consider the consider the condition in which those engaged in agriculture are to-day, facing a crisis and a ruin greater than any within living memory, we should not begrudge them the small amount of protection which this Bill affords. In regard to what the hon. Member for North-East Bethnal Green (Major Nathan) said just now, about gold countries and non-gold countries, it is pertinent to observe, in respect of importations of foodstuffs, 1921 that most of the importing countries are not on a gold standard, and that countries such as Denmark, the South American countries, and our own colonies are able to import into this country and compete very successfully indeed with our own agricultural industry.
The production of eggs which has recently sprung up in this country and has now attained very considerable proportions, deserves consideration from this House. It is proposed that one of the raw materials, namely, maize, should he taxed, and it is very important therefore that the foreign product should also be taxed, since there is now such a very considerable production in this country and a very considerable importation from the Dominions that it is very improbable that a 10 per cent, duty would have any effect at all. The effect of a duty must necessarily depend upon the proportion of the untaxed supply. In regard to eggs, the untaxed supply is very considerable and is growing very greatly. Therefore, I am very pleased indeed that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has set his face against any reduction of this 10 per cent., and I am sure his attitude will greatly encourage those engaged in agriculture.
§ Mr. D. MASON
I did not intend to speak on this Amendment, but for the remarks which were made by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted, and 40 Members being present—
The Financial Secretary said that this Measure would help to regulate the exchange and lessen the strain on sterling. I wonder if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman knows what really controls or affects sterling. It was ably pointed out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer a little while ago, when he drew attention to the fact that, with the amount of currency remaining the same and the amount of trade considerably reduced, we were really suffering, as is indeed the case, from a, certain measure of inflation. The Financial Secretary evidently believes that this Bill, like the Abnormal Importations (Customs Duties) Bill, will have some effect on the pound. If it has any effect at all, it 1922 will be, not a controlling effect or an effect leading to stability, but a damaging effect. The argument for the Abnormal Importations (Customs Duties) Bill was that it would improve the value of the pound, but the pound slumped immediately after the Bill was passed, for the simple reason that interference with and a tendency to contract trade, while the note issue remains the same, must cause the value of the pound to fall. While I admit that this Bill will give some fillip to employment in certain directions, and perhaps, as has just been mentioned, will help the woollen industry in certain local directions, we on these benches believe that it will tend naturally to a reduction of our aggregate trade. Take the case of the shipping industry. We are the common carriers of the world. We build about half the ships, and own about one-third. Do the supporters of this Measure seriously suggest that it will tend to increase our foreign trade?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member seems to be discussing the main principle of the Bill. The Amendment before the Committee is one merely to substitute "five" for "ten."
§ Mr. MASON
In view of the fact that the Financial Secretary said that he could control or attempt to stabilise the exchange by means of this Bill, I thought that, if it could be shown that it would tend to lessen trade, the reason for the Bill would disappear. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman's argument is that this Measure would tend to enable the exchange to be stabilised, but he does not seem to understand what controls our exchange.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am not quite sure what was the statement of the Financial Secretary to which the hon. Member is referring. He may well have made a mere statement, but it is not in order for the hon. Member, as the result of that statement, to raise a new debate on a subject which is not within the terms of the Amendment.
§ Mr. MASON
My only object was to try to show that, if the tariff could be reduced from 10 per cent. to five per cent., that would lessen the evil. I think it would 'be a distinct advantage if the Amendment were carried, because it 1923 would tend to reduce what we believe to be a very serious interference with our trade.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ The CHAIRMAN
There are no other Amendments on the Paper that I select prior to the Amendment standing in the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—in page 2, line 29, to leave out from the word "Act," to the end of the paragraph. That proposed Amendment is merely introductory, I think, to two others in the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which I am afraid I must rule out of order, as being beyond the terms permitted by the Financial Resolution on which the Bill is founded.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
On a point of Order. May I submit for your consideration, Sir Dennis, reasons why those Amendments should he selected? This is a matter of considerable importance to a number of hon. Members in the House. If you still maintain your view, that is the end of the matter so far as I am concerned, because I can deal with it in the Finance Bill at a later stage, but I should much prefer, if possible, to get it settled here. I take it that the part of the Ways and Means Resolution on which you rely is paragraph (b) of the proviso, which says that the duty is not to be charged on—goods of any class or description which may be exempted by the Act aforesaid from the duty charged by this Resolution.If the Amendments which I have on the Paper were carried, the effect would be that, in addition to the actual articles specified in the Schedule, further articles could be exempted on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee and by order of the Treasury. That, in effect means, I submit, that—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but I think he made a slip. The effect of the Amendments would be, not that articles should be added, but that they should be removed—not that they should be exempted from tax, but that they should have the tax imposed on them.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I am much obliged, Sir Dennis. I should have said that they would have the tax imposed upon them. That, I take it, is the point to which you take exception. I take it 1924 that you would say that goods which have been exempted by the Act cannot subsequently be charged with duty. I submit that the exemption, if my Amendments were put into the Bill, would be a qualified exemption—that it would not be a complete and total exemption, but an exemption subject to the action of the Treasury on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee. The exemption would be limited in duration until such time as the Order of the Treasury might take effect. I submit to you that the exemption given by the Act, if qualified in that way, should permit of the Amendments which I have put down.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
Further on the point of Order. With great respect, it seems to me, Sir Dennis, that your Ruling is absolutely right, and that the Ways and Means Resolution makes it quite clear that the exemption is not, as the right hon. Gentleman suggests, some qualified exemption. It should have been put into the Ways and Means Resolution if it was intended to have some form of qualification of the exemption. The words of the Resolution are quite clear:which may he exempted by the Act aforesaid.The course which the right hon. Gentleman seems to be pursuing by his Amendments would clearly be outside these words.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee will realise that I have not given this Ruling without having given the most careful consideration to it, because I fully realise the importance of the Amendments concerned. It is quite clear to me that, if those Amendments were carried, the result would be that the Act would give power to the Treasury to make Orders imposing a tax, or rendering certain articles liable to tax. There is nothing in the Financial Resolution which gives to Parliament power to delegate the authority to impose this tax to any other body whatever. I am not quite sure—I think it may be the case, but it is not necessary to consider it here—that it might not be in order to exempt certain articles by the First Schedule for a limited period, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggests; but to put a condition on to the exemption to the effect that it should only last until the Treasury 1925 decides to render the article liable to a tax, would require the specific authority of a Resolution enabling the House to put in such a power of authorising the Treasury to impose the tax. Therefore, in those circumstances, when one comes to think it out, it is clear that any kind of provision—exemption, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer called it—would be different from an exemption limited in point of time, and that no condition can be attached to an exemption in the Bill which would have the result of giving power to impose a fresh tax.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not understand the hon. Member. I have ruled that the right hon. Gentleman could not move the Amendment because it is one which would be contrary to, and not authorised by, the terms of the financial Resolution.
§ Sir J. LAMB
While not wishing to controvert your Ruling, Sir, I should like to say that the disappointment which hon. Members feel that the Amendment has proved to be not in order has been very considerably mitigated by the announcement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he will deal with it in the Finance Bill.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The next Amendment I call is that in the name of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) to leave out lines 39 to 42.
§ Mr. CLEMENT DAVIES
There is an Amendment in my name and that of others of my hon. Friends—,in page 2, line 31, at the end, to insert a new paragraph:(c) Goods imported into any area or areas to be defined by the Commissioners which are not taken therefrom into any other part of the United Kingdom.You will realise, I know, that this is a very important Amendment which vitally affects the transit trade through this country. I should like your Ruling whether that is in order or not.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I thank the hon. and learned Gentleman for enabling me to reply to his question as this Amendment is one which I realise is important. It is out of order for the following reasons. First of all, it is incomplete and indefinite as it stands. It would want to have a definition of free ports and it would require a new Clause. But there is a further objection. The Customs Duties proposed to be imposed under the Bill are not the only Customs Duties that will be in existence, and, if you made a free port, it would have to be a port, as I imagine, in which goods would be free of all Customs Duties and, therefore, in effect, any attempt to create a free port under the Bill would be interfering with other Customs Duties which cannot be interfered with in the Bill.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. DAVIES
We have not mentioned free ports. We have only mentioned goods imported into an area, and only such area as may be defined by the Commissioners, and then then the goods are those goods which are taken out of that area into any other part of the United Kingdom. May I also point this out? The first Sub-section authorises the imposition of a 10 per cent. ad valorem tax on all goods other than goods exempted as hereinafter provided. Then comes the proviso, and the proviso only refers, not to "goods which are taxed otherwise than under this Act," but only to "goods which may be taxed under this Act." It says that all goods referred to in the Bill will be taxed except goods already subject to a tax under another Bill, and goods in the Schedule which is known as the free list. We suggest that those goods which also come into such area as the Commissioners of Customs may afterwards provide, which shall be known as a free area, which will be a transit area, into which goods may come and then go out of this country to some other country, shall be free. I suggest that, if you reconsider this, you might allow this to be in order.
§ The CHAIRMAN
With regard to the first point, I am afraid I used rather loose language in referring to free ports, but I do not think my Ruling would be any different if in the words I first used I had substituted "area or areas to be defined by the Commissioners" for the words "free port." With regard to the 1927 second point, I do not see that the hon. and learned Gentleman has met the reasons that I gave in any degree. There are certain goods which are exempt from these duties because they are now subject to other Customs Duties. If the hon. and learned Gentleman were to endeavour to amend the Bill in such a way as to create an area into which goods could be imported and taken away free of duty, it would, I am afraid, be interfering with the other Customs Duties on other articles which are exempted from the Bill by reason of their being subject to other Customs Duties.
§ Mr. DAVIES
I am only suggesting that the goods that come into an area which would be defined by the Commissioners of Customs should be exempt from such duties as this Bill would impose, and nothing more.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Even if I agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman in this view, I should still be unable to select the Amendment for the earlier reason that I gave, that it is incomplete and would have to be dealt with, if at all, by a new Clause. May I add for his benefit, in case he is considering the question of a new Clause, that I fear that, if he did so, any attempt to deal with the matter by a new Clause would probably be found to be impracticable, because, under the proposal that he suggests, he would find that there would be a difficulty in collecting the duty on, say, wine and tobacco and other goods.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I beg to move, in page 2, to leave out lines 39 to 42.
I sympathise with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. C. Davies) in not being able to move his Amendment. In moving this Amendment I find myself in most distinguished company, and for the first time in my existence I have the support of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain). I have no doubt that the arguments which he will address to the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be far more forcible than anything I can possibly say. The object of the Amendment is to cure what we believe to be a defect in the machinery of Sub-section (3) of the Clause. It is a little difficult to know exactly at what the Chancellor of the Exchequer is now 1928 aiming, but it seems to be clear that he has had a second thought as regards the way in which this should operate. Perhaps it is due to the imperfections of the original inquiry into the methods and lines upon which the Bill should be drafted, or perhaps it is owing to the pressure of the Home Secretary in the internal affairs of the Cabinet that this alteration has been made, and we shall hope to see that that pressure will be exerted so as to modify other parts of the Bill as well.
The proviso which we are hoping to omit is one which stops the Committee from taking into consideration the question whether any recommendation ought to be made to add classes or descriptions of goods to the free list until the expiration of six months from the passing of the Act. The position as we see it is that the committee will have to make up their mind as to whether any particular class of goods are such as should have been originally exempted, and we can see no reason why, if the attention of the Advisory Committee is drawn to some such case where there is an obvious hardship or an obvious difficulty arising for the manufacturer, they should be precluded from putting right that difficulty in the first six months. The position is that they are free to examine anything they wish under the Bill. If any matter is brought before them upon a representation provided for in Clause 2, Subsection (3), or is brought before them, apparently, in any other way, they may enter upon examination of it. Suppose there is some omission of great importance to some trade in the Second Schedule, and the Commissioners almost immediately, upon the incidence of the new taxation, become aware of it, that trade, though it should be relieved of this taxation, on, say, some raw material, under this proviso is to be forced to suffer for six months at least.
The only excuse which the right hon. Gentleman gave in his speech on the Second Reading was that the Committee would be so busy putting on duties during the first six months that he did not wish them to be delayed at all in the operation of those powers by considering whether other substances should be put upon the exempted list or not. That may be a very worthy desire to people who wish rapidly to see high tariffs, but if the Com 1929 mittee is really to be an independent judicial body, and is really to consider the thing apart from any political bias, but merely from the consideration of what is wise and advisable for a particular trade, I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will realise that there can be no reason for tying their hands in this particular matter for six months. They need not, if they do not want to do so, enter upon considerations at all as regards further exemptions, but if, on the other hand, there is some case, as well there may be—and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will willingly admit that in a rapidly worked out tariff of this sort there may well be some cases of particular hardship on some particular industry—a six months' delay in righting such a hardship may be fatal to the particular industry. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that it will not in any way spoil his scheme or affect the work of the commissioners. I beg of the right hon. Gentleman to give them the power in the first six months, if they wish to exercise it, to add to the list. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman himself would regret that some obvious cases of hardship could not be dealt with, though he might wish to deal with them. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider that this Amendment is in no way a wrecking Amendment designed to do any harm to the Bill, but one really designed to try to get over what may be a difficulty.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
I very much regret that the form of the Resolution of the Committee may make it impossible to amend this Clause with the liberty and flexibility which my right hon. Relative desired to give it in the Amendments which he had placed upon the Paper. But that being impossible, I should like to see the Clause made as perfect as possible. Let me hasten to assure my right hon. Relative that I have entered into no conspiracy with the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, that I handed in my own Amendment, and that it is merely by reason of economy in printing that I appear as his supporter. It is quite true, as the hon. and learned Gentleman said in his concluding remarks, that this is not a wrecking Amendment in any sense, and it will be supported by 1930 those who are, like myself, whole-heartedly in favour of the purpose of the Bill. I would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider cases where you may have omitted raw material which is of no value by reason of any revenue that might be derived in this country and yet which is vital for a manufacturer doing a trade, not merely with customers in this country but in competition with foreign countries. I am sure that in those cases the Committee, when it had to consider them, would place them upon the free list, but if you wait for six months you may have done an almost irreparable injury to the foreign business or to the overseas business of the trader concerned.
The only objection which I have heard raised was that put by the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he said, with great truth, that the committee was a numerous one, and that he was unwilling, in their first and most strenuous months, to put any fresh burden upon them. But how are the committee going to deal with the problem presented to them by the Bill I Surely, in the first instance they must act upon some broad general principle and correct the different details afterwards. It is impossible for them to examine the details of every item in the course of the few weeks or the few months within which the Government hope that they will have done their work. If we do not give them the power to add articles to the Schedule we may make it impossible for them to apply their general principle when constructing their first tariff. There is no dictation to them and there is no obligation upon them to add anything if the words which we propose to leave out are deleted, but it gives them a liberty which will be very important to them and will be very useful for the perfection of the scheme for which my right hon. relative is responsible.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
May I reinforce what has been said by my right hon. Friend by one simple instance? I will say no more, because the time is short. I refer to the question of the maize starch industry. There are other similar industries, like the feather industry. Maize starch is made in this 1931 country. It is also made in Canada from maize that goes into Canada without paying duty. The Canadian product comes into this country as a Dominion product, free of duty. Unless, therefore, the maize which is used for this manufacturing purpose in this country is allowed to come in free of duty the British manufacturer will be placed at a very serious disadvantage as compared with his Canadian competitors, because the cost of the maize represents a considerable proportion of the cost of the final product. Two or three of these Canadian competitors are, in fact, subsidiaries of American firms.
That is the problem that has to be faced. I would only add that these products are of such a kind that, if a man's trade is hurt, the disadvantage of being out of business for six months might take away practically the whole of the value of his goodwill. I know the difficulties of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I would not for a moment wish to make any serious inroad upon the revenue that he would get. I do not think that our suggestion would do that. These additions to the free list during the six months will have to be subject to the approval of the Treasury. I believe the cost would be light. On the other hand, if a British industry is badly hurt the indirect loss to the revenue might be just as serious as the cost of the exemption would otherwise have been.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
I do not think it is necessary to add to the pleas that have been made to the right hon. Gentleman, knowing the relationship and the powerful personality of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) and his long association with the policy behind this Bill. I realise that some time may be necessary, but six months is far too long. I have an alternative suggestion of one month. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot accept our Amendment, I would suggest that he might accept the alternative of one month. In six months a vast amount of damage may be done to a great number of industries if it was found that some important raw material had been subject to the duty. I do not want to add to the number of examples which have been given, but two very good ones have just come to my notice. The first relates to Sparta grass, 1932 a very important article of raw material that cannot be produced in this country or in the Empire and is essential to a very large section of the paper industry. The second instance is that of bristles, which are found mainly in China and in Russia. The fact that they are to be found in Russia does not alter the fact that bristles are an essential raw material of the brush industry. Already the brush industry is suffering disadvantage on account of the depreciated exchange, which is adding to the cost of bristles. If on the top of that disadvantage we put another 10 per cent., I am assured by the brush manufacturers that a considerable part of their export trade will suffer. I do not intend to obstruct the passage of the Bill. I intend only to support Amendments which deal with particular interests or protect special industries. I want the Bill to do as little harm as possible. Therefore in the limited time at our disposal I intend to support practical Amendments. This is a practical Amendment, therefore I support it.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The Amendment is one on which I was anxious to hear the discussion, because it is obviously one of considerable importance. Moreover, it is backed by a certain amount of support from various parts of the House.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
It certainly has support which should carry weight. The matter is a difficult one. We are now entering upon a new system which is bound to create a considerable amount of change right through industry, and it is inevitable that where there is change there is objection to the change. A good many people, the moment they find that a change of system is coming which means some change in the methods by which they have carried on their business, are apt to assume at once that their business is going to be entirely ruined, whereas if they had waited a little bit longer they would have found perhaps that it would be very easy for them to avoid the difficulties which appeared insurmountable at first sight.
What is the purpose of the six months period? My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) quoted what I said about the matter the other night, namely, that I did not want the 1933 Committee, when first beginning their work, to be overwhelmed by questions arising from requests put to them for the inclusion of particular articles in the free list, when their main duty was to consider the additional duties which they were to recommend. Many hon. Members have stressed the urgency of the additional duties and that the duties ought not to be postponed for a long period. There was another reason which I also gave, to which I attach very great importance, and that is that I do not think one has the materials that are necessary for coming to a final judgment on many of these surprise articles, which have not been gone into, at this stage. That material will not be available until a certain time has elapsed and it is seen what the effect of the new duties is and what the effect may be upon the development of alternative sources of supply.
In spite of that, and while it appeals to me very strongly, I recognise the force of what the hon. and learned Member opposite has said, that there may be things that we have not thought of. They may be small things, yet they may may be of great importance to particular industries. We do not want to put ourselves in the position that if, for want of thorough knowledge, a hardship of that kind has been inflicted upon a particular trade, it is not possible to correct the mistake however much we might want to correct it, until so long a period as six months has elapsed. I am unwilling to give up the general protection to the Committee which is given to them by this proviso, but in order to meet the objections which have been put forward I should like to suggest as an Amendment in line 39, after the words "Provided that," the insertion of the words:except in such cases as seem to them of special urgency,That would give the Committee a certain amount of discretion. If that is agreeable to hon. Members, I shall be glad to move that Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment made: In page 2, line 39, after the word "that," insert the words
except in such cases as seem to them of special urgency."—[Mr. Chamberlain.]
§ The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper:
§ In page 2, line 39, to leave out the words "take into consideration the question whether" and to insert instead thereof the word "make."—[Mr. Albery.]
§ Mr. ALBERY
In view of the action taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I do not desire to move this Amendment.
§ The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper:
§ In page 2, line 42, to leave out the words "six months" and to insert instead thereof the words "one month."—[Sir P. Harris.]
§ Sir P. HARRIS
Although I think six months is too long, I do not propose to press this Amendment. At the same time I want to get all the concessions that are possible, and perhaps the Chancellor will be prepared to grant more concessions as we proceed with the Bill.
§ Sir C. CRIPPS
I beg to move, in page 2, line 42, at the end, to insert the words:(4) The provisions of the Second Schedule to this Act shall have effect with respect to the recommendation and allowance of drawback in respect of duty imposed under this section.This provides for a drawback in respect of the ad valorem duty. I am not clear why a drawback is not allowed; and may I point out that where there is an additional duty as well as a general ad valorem duty, a drawback can be obtained on the additional duty but not on the ad valorem duty. It seems that they are neither fish, flesh nor good red herring. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will either allow or refuse a drawback on both where there is an ad valorem duty and an additional duty. Perhaps he will consider this matter before the Report stage.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
If an Amendment is put down which will have the effect of allowing a drawback, in a case where a drawback is given for the additional duty, to extend to the general ad valorem duty I shall be glad to consider it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1935
§ Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."1936
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 274; Noes, 56.1937
|Division No. 67.]||AYES||[9.0 p. m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Eastwood, John Francis||MCLean, Major Alan|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Ellis, Robert Geoffrey||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Magnay, Thomas|
|Albery, Irving James||Elmley, Viscount||Maitland, Adam|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Manningham-Buller, Lt. Col. Sir M.|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginaid V. K.||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.|
|Apsley, Lord||Erskine-Boist, Capt. C.C. (Blackpool)||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent. Dover)||Everard, W. Lindsay||Meller, Richard James|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Fielden, Edward Brockiehurst||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Millar, Sir James Duncan|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Fraser, Captain Ian||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Mitcheson, G. G.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Gauit, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Gibson, Charles Granville||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. R. (Portsm'th, C.)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Morrison, William Shephard|
|Bird, Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.)||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Moss, Captain H. J.|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.||Mulrhead, Major A. J.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Goff. Sir Park||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vanslttart||Gower, Sir Robert||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersl'ld)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Normand, Wilfrid Guild|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Grimston, R. V.||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Ormiston, Thomas|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hales, Harold K.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Peake, Captain Osbert|
|Burghley, Lord||Harbord, Arthur||Pearson, William G.|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Hartington, Marquess of||Penny, Sir George|
|Burnett, John George||Hartland, George A.||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Petherick, M.|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Calne, G. R. Hall.||Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle)||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Ralkes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Campbell. Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)||Hepworth, Joseph||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hillman, Dr. George B.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western isles)|
|Carver, Major William H.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Cassels, James Dale||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Ramsden, E.|
|Castle Stewart, Earl||Hope, Capt. Arthur O. J. (Aston)||Ratcliffe, Arthur|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hore Belisha, Leslie||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Hornby, Frank||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Blrm., W.)||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Remer, John R.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.|
|Chotzner, Alfred James||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hurd, Percy A.||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Clayton Dr. George C.||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Roberts. Sir Samuel (Ecciesall)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Iveagh, Countess of||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Colville, Major David John||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Kimball, Lawrence||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Cooke, James D.||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Knight, Holford||Salmon, Major Isidore|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Knox, Sir Alfred||Salt, Edward W.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Law, Sir Alfred||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Cross, R. H.||Leckie, J. A.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Scone, Lord|
|Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Levy, Thomas||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lewis, Oswald||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Liddell, Walter S.||Smiles, Lieut. Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Liewellin, Major John J.||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-In-F.)|
|Dickie, John P.||Lloyd, Geoffrey||smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Donner, P. W.||Locker-Lampson, Com. o. (H'ndew'th)||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Dower, Captain A. V. G.||Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Drewe, Cedric||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Somerville. D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Soper, Richard|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Mebane, William||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Dungiass, Lord||MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)||Spears, Brigadler General Edward L.|
|Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Thorp, Linton Theodore||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Stanley, Hon. o. F. G. (Westmorland)||Titchfleid, Major the Marquess of||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Stones, James||Touche, Gordon Cosmo||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Stourton, Hon. John. J.||Train, John||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Strauss, Edward A.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Strickland, Captain W. F.||Turton, Robert Hugh||Windsor-Cilve, Lieut.-Colenel George|
|Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Sutcliffe, Harold||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)||Withers, Sir John James|
|Tate, Mavis Constance||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)||Womersley, Walter James|
|Templeton, William P.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Thompson, Luke||Watt, Captain George Steven H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles||Wedderburn, Henry James Serymgeour||Lord Erskine and Mr. Blindell.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grunoy, Thomas W.||Mailalleu, Edward Lancelot|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Mender, Geoffrey le M.|
|Batey, Joseph||Harris, Sir Percy||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Bernays, Robert||Hirst, George Henry||Maxton, James|
|Briant, Frank||Hoidsworth, Herbert||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Janner, Barnett||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Buchanan, George||Jenkins, Sir William||Price, Gabriel|
|Cape, Thomas||John, William||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Cowan, D. M.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Kirkwood, David||Samuel. Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Daggar, George||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Sinclair, M al. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thnese)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lawson, John James||Thorne, William James|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Logan, David Gilbert||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Lunn, William||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlsbro', W.)||McKeag, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Corn'll N.)||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Duncan Graham.|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|