§ Major LLEWELLIN
I beg to move, in page 20, line 4, at the end, to insert the words:Such personal clothing or other belongings of a person entering the United Kingdom as shall appear to the Commissioners to be reasonably necessary for his personal use.Very many years ago our ancestors could have entered this country with propriety, and without drawing undue attention to themselves, clothed in some of the articles which we already have in the Schedule, so long as they had not elected to appear in goatskin, without paying any duty upon them, and of course some years before that it might have been quite a moot point whether one of our ancestors themselves could have come in here, duty free or not. I suppose it may still arise as the duty of some Customs officer to decide whether an ape is a live quadruped animal. In these more civilized 672 times it is obviously necessary for those travelling to this country to come in here both clothed and bringing belongings with them, and it seems to me that as the Bill is now drawn they cannot legally bring those goods in free unless they happen to come from one of the Colonies or from one of our Dominions oversea. I think they certainly ought to have the right to come in, and I have no doubt that the Government do not in the least wish to put any duty upon those who do come in as ordinary passengers.
I raise this paint to see whether it is quite clear that they can come in without the unnecessary vexation that otherwise might be caused to travellers in the ports of this country. The answer may be that they do not come under this Bill at all, but if that be so, I see very little distinction between, for instance, one of the Members of His Majesty's Government returning from Geneva, and being charged on his suit of clothes, and the case of a similar charge which has apparently been made upon secondhand clothes brought into this country under the Abnormal Importations Act, and used ultimately to clothe the natives of West Africa, I think it was, at a funeral. If one is charged, very likely the other becomes liable to duty. That line, however, may not be taken, and it may be said that indeed they are normally included in this Bill, although, under a kind of dispensing power with the Customs, they are never actually made liable to duty. I have studied the Customs Consolidation Act, and the only Section in it which I could find dealing with this matter is Section 17, which states:All duties of Customs or other duties … now imposed and allowed or which may hereafter be imposed or allowed by law shall be … ascertained, raised, levied, collected, paid, recovered, allowed, applied or appropriated under the provisions of the laws for the time being in force relating thereto.So it seems to me that it is the duty of the Customs officer to collect these duties unless the House of Commons lays it down that they shall not be collected on this particular class of goods. I really raise this point in order to get an assurance from the Government that there is no intention of charging such goods when they enter this country, thus causing a lot of unnecessary friction with people 673 lawfully travelling between this country and places abroad. If there legally vests in the Customs a power to dispense with the duty in such cases, I am quite content with that. If there be no such power, I suggest to the Government that they accept my Amendment which gives that power to the Commissioners, and I hope that it is drawn in such a way as not unnecessarily to fetter any discretion that they may show.
§ Mr. MORRISON
I beg to second the Amendment.
It is not necessary to say very much in support of the Amendment in view of the precise speech of my hon. and gallant Friend. It is clearly undesirable that travellers to this country should be subjected to Customs duties on their personal belongings which are not intended for sale in this country. In the Free List the only clothing which appears to be exempt are hides and skins, but these have to be raw, dried, salted or pickled, and it is no encouragement to the "Come to Britain" movement if we ask people to clothe themselves, for the purpose of escaping duty, in salted skins. The only other possible article on the Free List in which people might be clothed is newsprint, but I submit that that is an undesirably tenuous form of garment which we do not wish to encourage our travellers to adopt. No doubt we shall he told that our Amendment is needless because the Customs have been in the habit of exercising a dispensing power in regard to articles now subject to duty. If that be so, the purpose for which I second the Amendment is to make sure on what legal grounds that dispensing power is based. It is desirable in the public interest that we should know that a department exercising a discretion of that kind exercise it in accordance with the will of this House, and that it is based upon some definite rule in the Statute. It may be said that as it has been done in the past without complaint, so it will be done in future. We must, however, recollect that in this Bill we are subjecting to duty a very large number of articles of a complicated description which have not been taxable before.
It may be said that the Customs are so benevolent that it is not necessary for the House to supervise their discretion in 674 this direction. I am not so sure of that. I will take an illustration of what I mean by a discretion vested in the Customs. In regard to the Entertainments Duty a provision was passed by this House allowing the Commissioners to exempt from that duty entertainments of a bona fide charitable nature. It is within the knowledge of the Committee that the Commissioners of Customs and Excise, in exercising that discretion, have laid down certain rules by which they judge whether or not an entertainment is charitable. Judging from a case which came before me quite recently of a pageant we had at Tewkesbury, it seems that the rules have become more important than the Statute; the gloss is more important than the text. For these reasons, it is necessary that any discretionary powers of that kind should be based upon the will of the House and not merely left to rest on some long continued custom which has never been challenged. When we are taking the step in the public interest of imposing these duties, we ought to make sure that, if the Customs exercise this power, it is exercised in accordance with the law and based upon the will of the House.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
I am sorry that my hon. Friends have been put to the trouble of making such long speeches, although they have been able to entertain us by their humour. All that they desire is a declaration as to the practice which the Customs intend to follow in regard to personal clothing. From time immemorial the Customs have placed no restrictions whatever on persons entering this country in their own clothing, and it is not the intention of Customs, when this Bill comes into effect, to modify that practice in any way. I think that we can leave it to the discretion of a very reasonable body of men.
§ Mr. HANNON
This does not at all dispose of this important matter. Does this mean that the Customs will pursue their previous habit of allowing people to walk into the country in their clothes, and that people cannot bring in an extra suit of clothes?
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
If you try to define what a man's or a woman's clothing should be, you will create more difficulties than you will solve.
§ Amendment negatived.675
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I beg to move, in page 20, line 6, at the end, to insert the words:Goods to be used as material in the manufacture of articles in the United Kingdom.The object of moving this Amendment is to try, perhaps rather hopelessly, to persuade the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it is better to leave free of tax all raw materials rather than try and select one lot or another according to the whim of the Advisory Committee or to the pressure which can be brought to bear on this House as regards the various items. There is already in the Free List in the Schedule a great number of raw materials, and it is obvious that they have been placed there for exemption because they are raw materials. For instance, such a thing as cotton was clearly put there as the great raw material of the cotton industry. One finds, on the other hand, that raw materials of the cotton finishing industry, which is quite as important as the cotton industry, are entirely left out of the list. There are such things as gums, and so on, which are produced to only a small extent in the Empire., which are completely omitted from this list of raw materials.
We suggest that if, instead or trying to pick and choose between the various industries, thus causing some to pay duties and leaving others free from duties, you recognise the position that certain raw materials must be omitted for the sake of the industries of this country, the only logical thing to do is to omit all raw materials which are used by industries. Otherwise, you inevitably put some industries at an advantage and some at a disadvantage. To some industries, such as the cotton finishing trade, which works on the very narrowest margin—one thirty-second of a penny a yard and margins of that sort—it will be a great detriment if they find that their essential raw materials are being taxed. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider this Amendment as being really the principle which lies behind the Schedule instead of trying to pick out this and that industry and giving it a favourable position compared with the others.
§ Major ELLIOT
The hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) concealed the despair which he felt as 676 to the possibility of this Amendment being accepted, but I am sure he will admit that nothing is more unlikely than that such an Amendment should be accepted at this stage of the Bill. It is indeed equivalent to taking the Third Reading on the First Schedule, and I suggest that it would be more convenient to take the Third Reading when we come to the Third Reading than at this point. It may be true, as the hon. and learned Member said, that having started upon a Free List the only logical thing to do is to put everything in the Free List, but this House and this country have not always been governed by logic, and I am not sure that the wisest actions of this House have been those which were most strongly marked by logic. The logical action which we took in regard to the thirteen states of North America split an Empire. On many occasions the House has done foolish things when it based itself on logic, and wise things when it trusted to practice. It is now trusting to practice and I ask the hon. and learned Member to allow us to debate this question of practice on the wider final stage of the Bill.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. DINGLE FOOT
I beg to move in page 20, line 21, after the word "flax" to insert the words "and true hemp (cannabris sativa)."
This Amendment is to be read in conjunction with another Amendment the Chancellor of the Exchequer has also agreed to accept to substitute for the words "flax tow" the words "tow of flax and true hemp (cannabris sativa)."
The Schedule will then read:Flax and true hemp (cannabris sativa) not further dressed after scutching or decorticating; tow of flax and true hemp (cannabris sativa),
§ Miss HORSBRUGH
In seconding this Amendment, I would like to point out that this product is in no wise in competition with any product from the Dominions or the Colonies. Having been defeated on the harder fibre of this particular industry, I come back to the softer side, and it is with faith and hope that we put forward this Amendment in order to save an industry which employs many hundreds of people. The raw material can be got only from certain parts. Italian hemp is three times the 677 price and sisal is not in competition with it.
I am very glad to accept this Amendment, and thus to fulfil the promise I made to my hon. Friends yesterday that I would see that this kind of hemp, which does not compete with the Colonial product, should be put in the Free List; and I am very glad, if my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh) had to fall, that at any rate she has fallen soft.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Sir JAMES DUNCAN MILLAR
I would like to associate myself with the two hon. Members who have moved and seconded this Amendment in saying that it meets the needs of an industry which is not confined to the Division which they represent but is carried on, also, in the Division which I have the honour to represent. I am glad to know that this form of the Amendment meets precisely the desires of the manufacturers concerned, of which fact I have received confirmation this afternoon, and I would like to thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Mr. ROSS
I do not wish to allow the Scottish people who are interested in the linen industry to have it all their own way. Although the Scotch are notoriously a much more loquacious race than the Irish, I wish to be associated with the thanks expressed by the hon. Members to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for furfilling the promise he made yesterday. There is this fact to be remembered, that in fulfilling his promise he has not affected the productions of the Empire in any way, as this particular hemp cannot be produced in the Empire. When we are producing goods for a foreign market such a duty on a raw material which is not, produced by us would be a very serious matter indeed for the industry, which has had very hard times through foreign competition.
§ Major COLFOX
My hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Ross) seems to think that we are discussing flax. We are not discussing flax, but discussing hemp, and as the Member in whose constituency is situated the oldest manufactory of hemp products I would like to add my thanks to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to tell him that the West Dorset hemp manufacturers, 678 who have been established for over 300 years, will be very grateful for this concession.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendment made: In page 20, line 22, leave out the words "flax tow" and insert instead thereof the words "tow of flax and true hemp (cainnabris sativa)."—[Mr. Chamberlain.]
§ Earl WINTERTON
I beg to move, in page 21, line 3, after the word "rods" to insert the words "lead, zinc."
This is a manuscript Amendment and at this late hour of the evening I propose to deal with it in only a very few words.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I am sorry to say that the right hon. Gentleman with whom I am associated in this matter has not supplied me with a copy of it, so I cannot read the ipsissima verbs, but if the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) will be patient I will give him the effect of it. The purpose of the Amendment is to save from the duty lead and zinc. It may seem strange that this Amendment has been proposed from the quarter from which it conies, and I am quite prepared to meet with a certain amount of laughter from those who are opposed to the fiscal principles which I hold, but I will state briefly the reasons which have induced my right hon. Friend to submit this Amendment. For I he last few years there has been an excess of Colonial production in these articles over United Kingdom consumption. The effect of excluding these articles from the Schedule will be that probably nothing except the Colonial metal will come in, and all foreign supplies will be absolutely excluded and will be sold on the Continent. Therefore, there will be no revenue from the duties, as the Colonial production is in excess of United Kingdom consumption. It would seem to be clear that the Colonial producers will be able to ask any price that they like, provided that it is just a shade less than the foreign price plus 10 per cent. Here we have not the position which will arise on other articles excluded from the Schedule, where, by reason of the 10 per cent. duty, there will be an impetus given to Colonial production, because, as I have already pointed out, 679 Colonial production is in excess of our consumption at present.
I am informed, and the information I believe to be absolutely accurate, that the Colonial producers of these metals are in the case of lead the Broken Hill Associated Smelters Proprietory, Limited, the Burma Corporation Limited and the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Corporation of Canada; and, in the ease of zinc, are the Electrolytic Zinc Company of Tasmania, the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Corporation of Canada, the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company and the Imperial Smelting Corporation of Avonmouth and Swansea. It is the fact that all the above companies are represented by the Amalgamated Metal Corporation, Limited, of London, which is a combination of the interests of the British Metal Corporation, Limited, and Henry Gardner and Company, Limited. It is true therefore that the production, to a very large percentage indeed, is in the hands of one particular combine, or of associated companies which form the combine. There is another one, the Mount Isa Mines, and I understand that they are found in the North East of Kenya. There are no outside producers of Empire zinc. I have to give these facts and figures—for troubling the House with them at this hour I apologise—because it is one of the main bases of my argument.
The fact is that since this duty, or proposed duty, appeared in the Bill, the English consumers' contracts have been cancelled. That is to say, the price that they had been paying before the Bill is now different. It has increased. [Interruption.] I said I would be fair, and I have said quite frankly that here is a case not of an industry entitled, from the point of view of needing protection, to receive this duty. Better to face the situation, as an hon. Member said on a previous Amendment. We who are Protectionists have never denied that cases may and probably will arise where advantage will be taken to raise the price, because there are no alternative methods of supply or because production is concentrated in a few hands. This information reached me, and reached the right hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland). I have every reason to believe that it is completely accurate. I 680 have not had a chance of checking it to the extent that I should like, but I am informed that it is a matter of common knowledge. It is obvious that the excessive premiums that are being charged on lead and zinc are due to this Bill, and I am informed that the effect will be that English producers of goods that necessitate the use of these metals may lose the contracts for the supply of those goods for export.
For those reasons and many others, I think that these articles should be put into the Schedule. I am afraid that I have had to deal with this matter in a cursory manner. My right hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth and I have brought it forth, because the facts have come to our notice and because we think that it is honest and proper to put them to the House and to ask the House to make this change. We do not believe that the position as it exists will carry out the intentions of the Bill. Another reason for making the change is that the amount of Revenue that will be made is comparatively small.
The case made by the Noble Lord who has just spoken is one of a somewhat serious character. We have made it clear in previous statements on this Bill that the Government did not intend to tolerate any undue exploitation of the consumer by those who are benefiting by the imposition of the Import Duties. Certainly, if the facts are as represented by my Noble Friend —I am not calling inquestion the accuracy of his information—it seems to be a case for action. On the other hand, I would point out to the House that my Noble Friend himself has said that he has had to put his case rather hurriedly and that he has not had opportunity himself of checking the accuracy of everything that he has brought before us. In those circumstances, it seems rather difficult to ask the House to take a judicial decision when at present they have only heard one side.
The Advisory Committee which is to be set up under the Bill will probably be functioning in the course of a very short time now, and it would be better, and the most proper course in the circumstances would be, that this matter should be referred to the Advisory Committee. I have no objection to giving my Noble Friend an assurance that I will take care 681 that this matter is brought to the attention of the Advisory Committee at the earliest possible date. I will further say that if the facts should be shown to be as my Noble Friend has put them to the House, the Government themselves will not hesitate to take action.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I rise at once to thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the statement which he has made. We have achieved the object which my right hon. Friend and I had in bringing forward this Amendment. It came on a minute or two sooner than I expected, and I had to hurry back to the House after my right hon. Friend had risen. I may say that I would substantiate, from information that I have received, every single word that I heard him make. I think the situation is such that it should call for precisely the kind of investigation which the Chancellor has promised should take place. The information before us is that the price of the article has been raised, beyond what it would otherwise have been, by anything from 4 to 7 per cent. That is an exceedingly serious situation, and I think I ought very briefly to put the House in possession of these further facts. Lead is very largely made into lead sheets and lead pipes. The value of pig lead is between 70 and 75 per cent. of the lead sheets and lead pipes when finished. In other words, the increase of 7 per cent. on the raw material would be equivalent to an increase of about 5 per cent. on the finished article.
The British manufacturers of the finished article have had a very considerable trade in lead sheets and pipes in neutral markets. It amounted to about £100,000 last year, and to a larger sum in the previous year. Of course, in that trade they have to meet the competition of foreign manufacturers, and clearly they are placed at a considerable differential disadvantage if they have to meet an increased expenditure on raw material amounting to as much as 5 per cent. on the price of the finished article. This is just one of those cases which we know are inherently possible in any tariff system, and neither my right hon. Friend nor I have made the least pretence to dissemble that fact, nor has anyone who is a supporter of a tariff.
All that we say is that a tariff, while in our opinion it has great advantages, 682 has also certain dangers, which have to be guarded against, as the Lord President of the Council has told us in some of his speeches. We understand from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-night that he has given us an assurance that this matter will be brought before the Tariff Committee, and that the Government, if necessary, will take action. We have, therefore, entirely achieved our object, and I have to thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what he has said. In the circumstances, the wisest plan will be to leave the matter to be dealt with by the Tariff Committee, and for that reason we do not wish the press the Amendment further to-night.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. ALBERY
On the last Amendment which was before the House, certain allegations were made against certain industries in this country. The Amendment was a manuscript Amendment. I did not know that it was going to be moved, and I am not in a position to say anything on that subject, but I wish to say that I think it is unfortunate that such a statement should be made and the Amendment withdrawn before any other Members of the House had had an opportunity of speaking upon it.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I am very sorry; had I known that my hon. Friend wished to speak, I would not have asked to be allowed to withdraw the Amendment; but may I say that this Amendment was on the Paper yesterday?
§ Mr. ALBERY
I gladly accept the explanation of the Noble Lord. I would only say that the Britannia Works mentioned happen to be in my constituency, and that was why I raised the point.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I beg to move, in page 21, line 4, after the word "pit-props," to insert the words:including round and partially-squared timber for use in mines.I move this Amendment merely in order to get from the Chancellor of the Exchequer a definition of what is included in the term "pit-props," which is already in the Schedule.
I understand that it is perfectly possible to identify pit-props as such, but that, when you 683 come to timber generally which may be used in mines, it is impossible to distinguish the use for which that timber is intended. Therefore, it would not be possible for me to accept this Amendment. The words in the Schedule apply only to wooden pit-props.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
May I, with the leave of the House, ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is intended that the term "pit-prop" shall also include what is known as a pit bar? Such a bar is very often square, and it is used for placing across the roof. If we can get from the right hon. Gentleman an assurance that the term "pit-prop" would include a pit bar, which may be partially or wholly square, our point will be met. I may explain that a pit-prop means a prop sonic 3 or 4 or 5 feet long, and, if that term would exclude a pit bar, which is 8 or 10 or 12 feet long, it would appear that the bars would be subject to this duty.
It really is just a question of what the Customs officials can distinguish when they see it. I am advised that pit bars as described by the hon. Gentleman can be distinguished by the Customs officials, and therefore would be included as pit props.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment made: In page 21, line 8, at the end, insert the words
Chinchona bark."—[Mr. Chamberlain.]
I beg to move, in page 21, line 12, at the end, to insert the words:Scientific films, that is to say, cinematograph films exempted under the provisions of section eight of the Finance Act, 1928, from the customs duty imposed, by section three of the Finance Act, 1925.This Amendment, as it stands on the Paper, is in line 10, but it should be in line 12, and I therefore move it in that form. It was put down in the name of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North St. Pancras (Captain Fraser) during the Committee stage, but it was not reached during that stage, and I therefore move it now. These scientific films were excluded from the operation of the old Films Duty, and this Amendment is merely for the purpose of maintaining that exclusion.
§ Amendment agreed to.684
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
On a point of Order. May I point out that no manuscript Amendment can be moved between the one which has just been carried—to insert words at the end of line 12 —and the next Amendment on the Paper—in line 12, at the end, to insert the words "Flint and bone unground and untreated"—which stands in my name?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain Bourne)
Unfortunately, the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), which is a manuscript Amendment, is connected with the Amendment which was put down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in line 10.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
That is so, but the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook is strictly relevant to the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman's Amendment is not prejudiced.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
It is not an Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it is at a point subsequent to the Amendment which has just been carried at the end of line 12. The next Amendment on the Paper at the end of line 12 is mine. My Amendment, being at the end of line 12, cannot be out of order.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
There has just been carried, while you were out of the Chair, an Amendment at the end of line 12 on page 21. It is true that that Amendment, which has just been carried, stands on the Paper as an Amendment at the end of line 10, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in moving it, preferred to move it at the end of line 12; and, it having been moved, accepted and passed at the end of line 12, I submit to you that it is impossible to deal with a manuscript Amendment to an earlier part of the Bill.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
We have had nothing but manuscript Amendments all the evening, and no one knows what they arc.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is unfortunate, but this is the first one with which I have had to deal. I understand that the Government Amendment was in the wrong place, and, therefore, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's Amendment is all right.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
My Amendment is all right, but that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) is all wrong.
§ Sir JOSEPH LAMB
May I ask whether the Amendment to which the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), is referring, and which stands in his and my names, can be moved later, or is it cut out altogether?
§ Mr. AMERY
I beg to move, in page 21, line 12, at the end, to insert the words:celluloid base for photographic films.My manuscript Amendment seeks to include in the Schedule a manufactured article which undoubtedly can be manufactured in this country but which at the present time is not so manufactured. It will take not only a considerable sum of capital but a considerable number of months before the necessary factories can be put up. My object, therefore, is to secure the addition of that item to the Schedule for the time being—and there are now powers for removing articles from the Schedule later on—in the interests of the photographic film industry of this country. That is a very important and considerable industry, and I urge this for the consideration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. At the same time, I fully realise that this has been sprung on him at the last moment, and if he will assure me that the matter will receive his consideration, I feel that I cannot fairly press him actually to accept it to-night.
I am very glad the right hon. Gentleman has admitted the difficulty in which he has placed me. 686 He has only just put into my hands this Amendment the bearing of which I have not been in a position to investigate. In these circumstances, it would be impossible for me to accept it but, although I cannot promise to take it into my consideration, it will be perfectly open to anybody to make representations to the Committee on the subject.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I beg to move, in page 21, line 12, at the end, to insert the words, "Flint and bone unground and untreated."
This Amendment was not reached on the Committee stage yesterday, and it is of vital importance to the part of the country from which I come. The two commodities referred to are in the main raw materials of the pottery trade, and they come from outside this country. The pottery trade is a small trade, but it is the absolute life-blood of North Staffordshire. The coal trade itself in North Staffordshire depends on the pottery trade to no small extent, and I know of no industry which is suffering worse at present from bad trade and unemployment. Week by week we see the figures go up and more men thrown out at work. That this Bill, which is intended honestly to help trade, should hit that particular industry at its most difficult point—the cost of raw material—seems to me to be disastrous.
Here are two materials which come almost entirely from abroad. Flint is the raw material of the earthenware body, which composes roughly speaking 25 per cent. of every piece of earthenware you use. It comes in from France, where it is collected on the seashore. A trifling royalty is paid on account of it, but the cost of that flint, which is delivered in North Staffordshire at 30s. a ton, is almost entirely made up of freight. It is brought to England in English bottoms and brought from Liverpool by canal, so that the whole cost, with the exception of the trifling royalty to the French foreshore owners, is due to the cost of transport, and goes to British people. The amount of flint we get in England is very small indeed. A certain amount comes from Dungeness, whence it is brought 687 overland by rail, but it is a very small proportion of the flint used. In addition to that, the other raw material which comes from abroad is bones for the use of British bone china. Bone china is very nearly half the china trade and they get the bones from South America. There is a certain amount bought locally, but it so trifling that you may say that the fine china trade and the ordinary cheap china trade of this country depend on foreign bones.
If this alteration is not made in the Bill, the effect will be that the pottery trade of North Staffordshire will be mulcted to the tune of about £18,000 a year. The amount the Treasury will get out of it should be about £15,000. If, on the other hand, this Amendment is carried, as I hope it will be, it will mean that the Treasury loses about £15,000 a year and a struggling trade will be able still to get its raw material in cheaply. MI the other trades which are in a difficult position, the iron and steel trade, the textile trades and even the Birmingham trades, are to get their raw materials in free. Their raw materials in many cases can be manufactured in this country, but we are asking here that the two raw materials of the pottery trade, which are not manufactured in this country and which are almost as nature made them, should be allowed on the Free List, so that this industry shall not be penalised at the present time by an additional tax of £18,000 a year, £15,000 of which goes to the Treasury, and the other £3,000 in enhanced prices for the small quantity of the home-produced article.
I want the House to notice that here is a chance of helping industry to cut down its overhead charges and the price at which we can sell our goods, so as to allow the industry to compete in all the neutral markets of the world, where it is a question of the smallest trifle in price which decides whether we lose contracts or not. On the other side is merely the desire to collect £15,000 more revenue. In this matter you may have a National Government in the country, but we have a national union in North Staffordshire. Every Member for North Staffordshire is at the back of this demand—Members of all parties. I am merely speaking first for them because I am the oldest Member in the House at the moment, but I am 688 glad to say we have also here the Member who sat for my constituency before I sat for it, who is sitting on the National side, and who is as strong a supporter of this Amendment as I am. I do hope the Government will not put us off with fair words about an appeal to the Commissioners at some future time. Let us to-day be able to send a message to the people of North Staffordshire that their industry, at any rate, is not going to be penalised by an additional tax when other industries, not, half so badly off, are escaping because they are more largely represented in this House.
§ Sir J. LAMB
I should like to support this as coming from the same district. It may be a small industry, but it is one that is vital to a very large area and it employs, when fully occupied, a very large number of workpeople, though unfortunately we have a great deal of unemployment at present. The flints are absolutely essential, because no other flint has been found suitable for the purpose, and they cannot be replaced from any other part of the globe. So it is not a question of these flints being superseded by any coming from the Empire. That is an impossibility. Bone is not really a primary product, but a residual, and it can only come from the place from which it is now coining, South America.
Mr. W. ALLEN
I feel that this is of vital importance to the pottery trade, which has been hit harder probably than any other by foreign competition, and in foreign markets the price is so cut that it really cannot afford to pay more. If these 10 per cent. duties are put on now, we shall be cut out in the foreign markets. I support the Amendment.
I find a great deal of difficulty about the Amendment as proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. There are two materials involved, flint and bone. Of course, the bone in which the right hon. Gentleman is interested is bone imported for manufac- 689 turing purposes, and the imports from foreign countries of bone of that kind do not appear to be anything like the amount which the right bon. Gentleman suggested. I find that in 1930 the total imports from foreign countries for these manufacturing purposes were only £12,000, whereas from Empire countries they amounted to £23,000. There is the further point that bones for manufacture are not used merely for the purpose of making china, but for making toothbrush handles and glue, and other purposes. The proper way to deal with it is to let the Committee have a look at it. I am not quite clear about flints. They all come from abroad. Although there is flint in this country, it is not actually used very much in the manufacture of pottery. If the right hon. Gentleman will amend his Amendment so as to make it apply to flints only, I will accept that and leave bone to be dealt with by the Committee.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
It is only the china people who will suffer from not having the bone. I think it will be all right because, after the right hon. Gentleman's speech, even if we do not get bone free now, we shall have a pretty good case before the Commissioners. I will amend my Amendment.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If the right hon. Gentleman will ask leave to withdraw his Amendment, he might move it in another form.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment made: In page 21, line 12, at the end, insert the words, "Flint unground."—[Colonel Wedgwood.]
§ Mr. TURTON
I beg to move, in page 21, line 12, at the end, to insert the words "Soya beans."
A similar Amendment in Committee, unfortunately, was not reached. Last year the import of soya beans amounted to 110,000 tons, of the value of £725,000. In 1929 the figures were 205,000 tons, of the value of £2,300,000. It all comes from China, Manchuria or Japan and none from our Empire. I say that so that the Chancellor of the Exchequer may feel that, whatever happens about the Amendment, it will make no difference in the matter of Imperial Preference. The Empire cannot gain by soya beans being on the Free List. The dis- 690 advantage of the Amendment is that it will mean a loss to the Exchequer, but against that I want the right hon. Gentleman to set the disadvantage to the industry if the product is taxed, and the burden that it will impose on the seed crushing industry. We have a considerable export trade in the manufactured product of soya beans. Exports of meal and oil amount each year to between £800,000 and £1,400,000. If this tax was put on soya beans, there would be a great danger of losing sonic of this export trade. The Japanese in the last few years have been especially active in seed crushing, and there is a great danger that, with a 10 per cent. duty, a great deal of our export trade would he lost. Another direction in which this tax would work great hardship is towards the agricultural industry. Soya beans are used extensively for the feeding of stock. The stock raiser is not in the position of the industrialist cited by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) in the pottery trade, whose raw material is taxed but whose finished product is also taxed. Beef conies into the country untaxed while the raw material would come in taxed. For that reason I would ask the Chancellor to regard the matter from the position of the farmer.
The price of soya bean cake has risen in an alarming manner in the last few months. In July the price was £7 15s. a ton, in November, owing to our going off the Gold Standard, it had risen to £8 9s. a ton and yesterday the price was 28 17s. 6d. a ton, so that without this 10 per cent. duty soya bean cake has already risen by £1 2s. The production of soya bean products in this country amounts to 77,000 tons, and the actual tax upon the industry, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot see his way to accept the Amendment will be something like £65,000.
§ Sir FRANK SANDERSON
I beg to second the Amendment.
I have had a life-long experience in this industry, and I would have liked very much to have dealt with the whole case, because I feel very strongly that not only soya beans but the whole of the oil-bearing seeds and kernels imported into this country from any source whatever should have been placed upon the Free List. It came as a great surprise to 691 the industry when they saw that linseed and cotton seed had been placed upon the Free List but that soya beans had not. The market for oil-bearing seeds and kernels is a world one. No European country has an import duty on soya beans or on any oil-seeds whatever. As I understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to make a statement relative to soya beans and as there are other important amendments to come before the House, I will not proceed further, but will formally second the Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Lieut.-Colonel APPLIN
I beg to move, in page 21, line 12, at the end, to insert the words:
I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give us the fibres which are mentioned in the Amendment. Whisk is almost entirely produced abroad, Mexican or Tampico fibre is entirely produced abroad, and the only fibre about which there is any question about getting from the British Empire is Piassava. With regard to bristles, I understand that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already granted the concession under another heading. These are the raw materials of the brush industry, which is at a very low ebb just now, because most people are using foreign brushes. There are 40,000,000 people in this country all of whom brush their hair, their boots, and, possibly, their teeth, and therefore we ought to use British brushes. I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will allow the raw materials to come in free of duty.
- Mexican or Tampico fibre.
- Whisk, Mexican or Italian."
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir WALTER SMILES
I beg to second the Amendment.
I have been asked to take this course by my constituents in Lancashire. The brush industry is a very important industry there, and a great deal of work is done for export. I understand that a good deal of painting is done without brushes, but still the manufacture of brushes is an important industry in this country.
§ Mr. LECKIE
Knowing something of the brush trade, I realise what a serious matter the 10 per cent. duty will be to the brush-makers of this country, superimposed, as it is, upon practically a 40 per cent. increase which they are now paying for foreign material on account of the fall from the Goad Standard. At the present time the British manufacturers have to buy their goods from foreign countries. The raw materials are not produced in any of the Dominions or Colonies. The 40 per cent. added to the increased cost owing to going off the Gold Standard will make it a very serious matter for the industry to carry on. The brush trade has a large export business. It is perhaps not a very large trade compared with a good many other trades, but a large proportion of the brushes is exported, and if the manufacturers are handicapped by a 50 per cent. increase in the cost of raw material, it will seriously interfere with their foreign trade.
§ Major PROCTER
I support the Amendment, because if adopted it will be the means of providing a considerable amount of work in my constituency as well as finding work for a large number of brush-makers throughout the country. The brush-making industry rejoices in the hope which is being given by the 10 per cent. tax upon the importation of foreign brushes. When I tell the House that last year 4,176,000 dozen brushes were imported into this country, hon. Members will understand that the British industry is very desirous of capturing this trade. None of the fibres mentioned in the Schedule can be purchased from the Empire. They have to be bought from abroad. When our brush-makers have to go into neutral markets, if the Amendment does not go through, they will have to bear the added penalty of 10 per cent. and therefore I hope that the Amendment will he accepted.
§ Sir JOHN HASLAM
The bristles of Piassava are the raw material for the blind of this country who make brushes, and in my own town several scores of blind people are using this raw material in order to make brushes. Therefore, I support the Amendment.
I am sorry that I cannot see my way to accept the Amendment. As far as bristles are concerned, they are already covered by the 693 Amendment which has been moved in the case of animal hair. In regard to the other material, although the particular individual fibres may not be produced within the Empire, there are other fibres which are produced within the Empire. The total imports into this country of fibres for brush-making from the Empire was, in 1930, £140,000, against about £165,000 from foreign countries, so that it is fairly well divided between foreign countries and Empire countries. It must be remembered that if the brush industry is going to have its own protection in the circumstances, this, too, is a matter which ought to be referred to the committee, and not judged by this House.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Sir J. WALKER SMITH
I beg to move, in page 21, line 12, at the end, to insert the words:Timber logs not exceeding seven feet in length and not exceeding fourteen inches in diameter for the manufacture of wood pulp for paper Making.This Amendment was on the Order Paper yesterday, but was not reached. The claim for the exemption of this particular material from the import duties is precisely the same as that applied to sparta grass. In so far as the claims for this particular material are not identical, they are at least equally strong. Wood pulp, it will be observed, is already in the First Schedule, and wood pulp is a semi-manufactured material from the material defined by this Amendment. If it were desired to encourage by this Measure the fullest possible use of our own labour, we should be permitted to import this particular material without any duty whatever, and then no doubt impose a 10 per cent. duty upon the semi-finished product which is pulp, and then, perhaps, a rather higher duty upon the completely finished product which is the finished paper. To import the semi-finished product, which is pulp, entirely free and to place a 10 per cent. duty upon the raw material, seems to me to be an entire inversion of the principle upon which I thought this Measure was founded, namely, that of supporting and encouraging to the fullest possible extent the industries and the labour of this country. I know that there are very few industries in this country that utilise raw material of this kind, 694 nevertheless it is considerably used in certain mills and if it is riot placed upon the Free List it will create a considerable amount of unemployment. I can only believe that on account of the very small extent to which this material is used in this country, an oversight has been made, as it could never have been intended to permit a semi-finished product to come in free, whilst placing a duty upon the raw material.
I have already explained on another Amendment that it is impossible to distinguish articles by the use to which they are intended to be put. They can only be distinguished by the Customs officers if they are readily recognised in a particular form. In view of this Amendment I made inquiries in the Customs whether logs for the purpose of manufacturing wood pulp for paper making were recognisable. I was informed by one of the officers that they were, but when I asked what the dimensions were, the dimensions that were given to me were entirely different from those that are given in the Amendment. As there appears to be considerable doubt in regard to the matter, the best thing would he to refer it to the Advisory Committee.
§ Mr. REMER
I should like to say a few words to satisfy my hon. Friend, as I am a member of the timber trade. Every one of the pitprops which are imported free can be used as the raw material for pulp making. Therefore, there is not the slightest need for any anxiety. So far as the timber trade is concerned, I have been in consultation with them and, owing to very many complications that have taken place in the matter, they are doubly anxious that it should be left entirely to the Advisory Committee and that the whole question should be decided by them.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to-move, in page 21, line 12, at the end, to insert the words:Cork, raw and granulated, cork shavings and waste.The facts relating to the Amendment are probably known to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Cork is the bark of Spanish oak. It is a raw material 695 which cannot be grown in the United Kingdom or the Empire. There is considerable manufacture of it, but it does not compete with or take the place of any other article produced in this country. In granulated shavings and waste forms it is only sufficiently manufactured to clear the impurities which are of no value, and to supply the quantities shapes and sizes required for trade. In my constituency a new industry has arisen as result of a breakdown of some cork-making machinery. The material got churned into something resembling fibre, which it is difficult to describe. It is a material which will be invaluable for cushions, bedding and upholstery. It has the special advantage that cockroaches, fleas and other insects from which we suffer die instantly they are ex-posed to it. There is considerable competition for cork in Spain and Portugal. Therefore, I trust that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see his way to admit these articles as raw materials of vital importance to British manufacture.
I beg to second the Amendment.
I will spare the House from hearing a very good speech. I have two minds on the subject, because it seems to me that a Government which attempts to push through an economic revolution of this kind in a few days ought to have long speeches inflicted upon it. However, as the House desires to get on to the Third Reading, I will cut down my remarks. I am under a deep debt of gratitude to the Chancellor of the Exchequer who, by giving way on hemp to-night, got me out of a very difficult position with my constituents, because I had to vote in the wrong Lobby, according to the advice I received from the Whip. I am extremely glad that the right hon. Gentleman's heart was touched by the brilliant speech from the Junior Member for Aberdeen (Miss Horsbrugh). I trust that to-night his mind may be further impressed by a few plain facts from business men. I will not elaborate the arguments in support of the Amendment, because my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bootle (Colonel Crookshank) has stated clearly 696 that the raw material which we are now discussing cannot be found within the confines of the Empire. It is very essential to the cork industries in this country that this raw material should come in free of duty, and I am hopeful that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will accept the Amendment, because I am sure that his main consideration in a matter of this kind is not revenue but the provision of employment. One may get revenue from a tax on raw materials, and that will be on the credit side, but there will be the debit side when the manufacturers who are using the raw materials find that in competition with the neutral markets of the world they are cut out by the fact that their raw material has a duty imposed upon it of 10 per cent. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed!"] If hon. Members are agreed, I shall be glad to sit down.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. RAMSDEN
I beg to move, in page 21, line 12, at the end, to insert the words:Ramie, not dressed.The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been so generous in his treatment of the textile industry that I would ask him to go one small step further and to make a concession in regard to a raw material which is used by a small industry which, unfortunately, has to import the whole of its raw material from some foreign country. It is more necessary now than ever that this fabric should be placed on the Free List, considering that 90 per cent. of the goods that are produced from it are exported either to some European country or to the United States of America.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
I beg to move, in page 21, line 12, at the end, to insert the words:Pure pressed technical olive oil.I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to give way on this particular point.
I regret that I cannot accept this Amendment. It is not possible to tell this olive oil from any other olive oil.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.