§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I beg to move, in page 4, line 14, at the end, to insert the words:Provided that an order made in pursuance of the powers conferred by this section shall be laid before the Commons House of Parliament, and shall not come into force unless and until approved, either with or without modifications, by a resolution passed by such House.The Clause deals with the power of the Treasury to remove goods from the First Schedule to the Import Duties Act of 1932. The Committee will recollect that during the discussion of the Import Duties Act a number of Amendments were put down to the First Schedule, and it was pointed out, I think by someone from the Government Front Bench, how desirable it was that the matters which are mentioned in the First Schedule should be retained within the control of this House and this Committee. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, I know, will sympathise with everything that I have to say on this Amendment, and will no 116 doubt be found in the Lobby with us when we go to a vote. Under the Import Duties Act, Section 19, Orders made by the Treasury or the Board of Trade under the Act are to be laid before the Commons House of Parliament as soon as may be after they are made, and subsequently the House has power by Resolution to approve within 28 days. They immediately come into force and continue in force, if approved by the House, but if not so approved they lapse, subject to anything that has been done under them in the intervening period.
The First Schedule to the Import Duties Act contains a great number of very important articles. Amongst them are articles of food, articles which are raw materials, and articles which, while the Bill was passing through the House, were mentioned by a number of hon. Members as articles which were of vital importance in several manufacturing industries. If it was necessary, when that Act was passing through the House, to retain those goods in the First Schedule under the control of this House or of this Committee, in our submission it is just as vital now to retain that same control. Power is being taken here, a power which it is impossible to dispute by way of Amendment, owing to the extra-ordinary Resolutions which were passed —Resolutions which even the Financial Secretary to the Treasury did not realise the meaning of at the time, but the effect of which no doubt he realises now. Those Resolutions prohibited any effective Amendment of the first Sub-section of this Clause of the Bill.
The position, therefore, is that these matters, which were retained by the House directly under its own control, it is now proposed by Clause 6 of the Bill to move out of the control of the House and into the control of the Tariff Commission, a commission which in some ways, as being the nucleus of the import boards which we have always recommended should be set up in connection with a proper planning and management of industry, may ultimately be of some use, because when there is a change of Government, as no doubt there will be before long, that Tariff Commission can be converted quite conveniently into an import board under Government control. That commission at the present time is 117 outside the control of this House. It is to be given absolute power under this Clause to make recommendations with regard to all those matters which were expressly reserved in the First Schedule to the Import Duties Act.
The object of the Amendment is that, where such an Order is to be made, it should have to be laid upon the Table of the House and should not come into force until approved by the House, instead of the existing procedure, which would allow it to come into force immediately. There might have been something to have been said with regard to the procedure under the Import Duties Act when you were dealing with putting duties on a whole list of articles unascertained in number, covering really the whole gamut of imports into this country, but so far as the First Schedule is concerned you are dealing with a limited class of articles, segregated for a special reason into that Schedule; and the consideration as regards notice which might be given to foreigners and so on are quite different when one comes to consider this specified list.
Take wheat or moat. Power is given under this Clause to withdraw meat or wheat from the Free List in the First Schedule to the Act. Is it suggested that so fundamental a change, even in the existing tariff position of this country, is to be brought about by a secret recommendation made by the Tariff Commission to the Treasury, and that the moment the Treasury makes the Order, without consulting this House, that Order is to have force, and that it is only for this House to say, after the Order has come into force, whether or not it wishes meat and wheat to be taxed? I say that especially in view of the well-known fact that even the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade is fundamentally opposed to the taxation of those two commodities. He so stated in this House. I notice that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury says that it is not so, but he will remember the incident perfectly well. When the President of the Board of Trade was challenged about having said, during the election, that he was not in favour of the taxation of food, the right hon. Gentleman rose and corrected the statement by saying "What I said was that I was not in favour of taxing wheat and meat." 118 That is the actual sentence which the right hon. Gentleman used, and I do not suppose that he is not going to stand by that pledge which he gave at the election. I am sure that even the Financial Secretary to the Treasury would not wish me to suppose that he is not going to stand by that pledge.
§ Major ELLIOT
The President of the Board of Trade surely is quite competent as President of the Board of Trade to consider at Ottawa or elsewhere whether the advantages of taxation would be greater than the disadvantages. Obviously, taxation might involve some disadvantage to this country, but there might be, in return for that, a much greater advantage coming to this country.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I daresay that that is the view which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman takes of election pledges but it is not the view which we take. We understand that if a Minister of the Crown goes to the country and says "I am opposed to and will not stand for the taxation of wheat or meat"—
§ Major ELLIOT
Will the hon. and learned Member quote again what the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade said. He is now putting a very skilful gloss upon it. The hon. and learned Member has now moved it just a little further forward. He said at first that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had declared that he was not in favour of taxing wheat and meat. The hon. and learned Member now puts a gloss on it and says that what the right hon. Gentleman declared was "I am opposed to and will not stand for the taxation of wheat and meat." I do not think that that is at all the same thing.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I think I understated it on the first occasion. I always try to understate these matters if I possibly can. Perhaps the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, however, will consult his colleagues upon it. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade is not in the House, but if he were here I would put the question to him. Be that as it may, however, it is well known that there are other Members of the Government who are opposed to it. There can be no doubt about them. I do not think that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will accuse me of "putting a 119 gloss on it" if I say that the Home Secretary is opposed to it, that the Secretary of State for Scotland is opposed to it, that the President of the Board of Education is opposed to it. The President of the Board of Education will not deny that—he assents to it. It is well known that in these matters it is not only a question of a considerable difference of opinion as between two parties in the House, but that there is a great difference of opinion in the so-called National Party itself.
We suggest that as we are dealing here with matters of importance which have been expressly reserved by the House of Commons for its own consideration it is not right now to take away that reserved power on which the House insisted, in connection with the Import Duties Act of 1922 and which both the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade at that time thought the House ought to have. That is why the First Schedule came into existence. It was felt at that time that there were certain matters which ought to be taken out of the powers of the Advisory Committee. In the course of that Debate the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he was introducing something of this sort in the Finance Bill, but it was never suggested that he was going to put it in the power of the Tariff Commission or the Treasury to deal with these fundamentally important matters without consulting the House of Commons. This is a subject of vast importance which is going to affect every single person in the country, and it is desirable and necessary that the House of Commons should retain its control and should be able to say, before the tax has been put on, whether or not it wishes that tax to be imposed. By this Amendment we ask the Committee to say that they are not going to part with their control over this vital matter either to the Advisory Committee or to the Treasury.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I wish to supplement the observations of my hon. and learned Friend on this Amendment which I think is the most important Amendment on the Order Paper. It may be that I shall change my mind on that point when I come to move another Amendment later on but, at the moment, this appears to be 120 certainly the most important Amendment that we have so far reached. I agree with my hon. and learned Friend that if there is to be a Free List at all in connection with the Import Duties Act, that Free List ought not to be susceptible of disturbance by the three wise men. I have no intention of reflecting upon their ability, honesty or sincerity, their devotion to their task or their desire to serve the best interests of the nation, but I am quite unwilling to leave it to three persons to determine whether the 66,000 electors whom I represent are to pay more for their food than they are paying at this moment.
I cannot help recalling how during the Debates on the Import Duties Act we had real die-hard Protectionists demanding the inclusion of this and that article in the Free List. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) having supported Protection for 30 or 40 years, put down an Amendment asking that precious and semi-precious stones should be put on the Free List. And now right hon. Gentlemen opposite want to leave the power in the hands of the three wise men perhaps while Parliament is not sitting to withdraw precious and semi-precious stones from the Free List and thus create terrific embarrassment for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. I also recall the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) pleading with the Chancellor, almost with tears in his voice, and pointing out that as a result of the threat to impose a duty upon lead and zinc, the price had increased by 7 per cent. The Noble Lord said that if that was an indication of what was going to happen in regard to a raw material for many of our industries, then clearly that was an item which ought to be placed on the Free List at the earliest possible moment. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland) produced documentary evidence to prove up to the hilt the statements of the Noble Lord. If those statements were correct, as I believe they were, ought we to leave it in the hands of three persons to determine whether lead or zinc are to be withdrawn from the Free List, should they find a place upon the Free List at any time?
121 The President of the Board of Education is sitting on the Front Bench. Does the Financial Secretary think that the right hon. Gentleman ought to be forced into the Lobby with the Labour party on this matter, creating unnecessary embarrassment for the right hon. Gentleman because he could not support the Government on such a proposal as this? Does he want to create more embarrassment in the Cabinet by forcing the Home Secretary to make a further declaration of his views about Protection and Free Trade, or the power to legislate by reference through an advisory committee of three? It; seems to me that this Clause is a most dangerous expedient. I could understand a body of anti-Parliamentarians, without any belief in any Parliamentary institutions at all, conferring power upon two or three persons to revolutionise the machinery of the House of Commons almost in the twinkling of an eye, but for a body of super-constitutionalists to be doing this passes my comprehension.
I notice opposite the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Rosbotham), and I should imagine that, if he had read this Clause, ho would be shocked to observe what the National Government are trying to compel him to support. I know that, as an ex-Labour Member of Parliament and a real good constitutionalist, he believes in Parliamentary institutions, and he cannot give his support to this Clause if he sees all its implications. But the question that affects the party to which I am proud to belong is that the Free List contains meat, and I recall the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when agricultural representatives were demanding that meat should be withdrawn from the Free List. In that speech, which was on the Third Reading of the Customs Duties Bill, I believe, he said that the farmers' representatives could not expect everything in 24 hours, and he asked who would have thought a few short months ago that a duty would be imposed upon butter, milk, fruit, cheese, and other agricultural and dairy products, but he added that they dared not risk imposing a duty on imported meat just then, and the agriculturists ought to be content for the moment. If that statement was in accord with the facts of the situation, surely only five weeks later, on the production of the Finance Bill, they have 122 not changed so much as to justify the inclusion of this Clause.
I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, as a well-known constitutionalist, whether he thinks that this power ought to be taken out of the hands of Parliament and handed to this Committee of three, and we should like to hear the views also of the Minister of Education, for after all we are entitled to know whether the Cabinet are united on this proposal. I cannot conceive that they can be. I hesitate and almost tremble at the thought of creating friction on the Treasury Bench, but this Clause is vital as a constitutional question and as a question which may culminate in the taxation of that food which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, only a few short weeks ago, said ought not to be taxed. For those reasons, and because we were disappointed that the Free List contained so few articles, we are supporting this Amendment to preserve for this House, not only the right to determine what articles shall be taxed, but the right to accept or reject any one of the recommendations of the Advisory Committee.
It has been suggested that, owing to the Ottawa Conference, this House may rise in the middle of July and may not be recalled until the latter end of October. For three months or three and a half months, therefore, the Advisory Committee will be sitting, and it may be that when Parliament comes together at the end of October, if this Amendment is rejected, we shall find meat—including beef, mutton, and bacon—precious stones and semi-precious stones, and every article now embodied in the Free List subject to a duty. We do not think that such a power ought to be conferred either on the Government as a Government or on the Advisory Committee, and I therefore support the Amendment.
§ Mr. McENTEE
I should like to use what little power of persuasion I have with the Government to reconsider their position in regard to Clause 6.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not want to interrupt the hon. Member, but I am afraid that I let the hon. Member for the Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) stray a little far. The hon. Member must remember that we are not yet discussing Clause 6 as a whole.
§ Mr. McENTEE
I did not intend to discuss Clause 6 generally, but the Clause deals with a Schedule in which there is a great number of articles, and that Schedule is known as the Free List. When it was under discussion in this House, all the industrial interests dependent on raw materials which were excluded from that list sought, by all kinds of means, such as lobbying in the House, circularising Members, writing to their local Members, and using every possible influence that they could, to get the raw material of their own particular industry included in the Free List. It struck me then that it depended very largely on the amount and force of pressure that the industry was able to bring on the Government whether or not an article was included in the Free List. The Government, on many of the things that ultimately were included, gave way with a very bad grace, but felt compelled to give way because of the power that was behind the demand; and it occurs to me that they are now seeking, by back-door methods, to get back that which they were compelled to give away when the Free List was under discussion.
It seems to me that this method is a very shady one. They suggest that three gentlemen, no doubt men with very high qualifications—I have nothing at all to say against either their ability to determine policy, up to a certain point, or their integrity—three super-men presumably, are to be given a power as great as has ever been enjoyed by Parliament, and Parliament is being asked to hand over the whole of its power in regard to this Free List to those three gentlemen outside, subject only to submission to the Department concerned.
When my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) was speaking, I was thinking of an ex-Member of Parliament, now transferred to another place, who used to sit on a back bench opposite, in 1922, 1923, and 1924, when I was here before, and I was trying to imagine what attitude that hon. Member, Sir Frederick Banbury, as I believe he was at that time, would have taken on a question like this. He was a Conservative in politics, an anti-Socialist, and I should say a Protectionist—he was certainly not a Free Trader—but on this matter of the control of Parliament there was certainly no Member of this House in my time who was more earnest 124 in his desire to maintain the power of Parliament and to see that it was not given to people outside. Since he was transferred to another place, there appears to have grown up a desire, which has become almost a habit, to give away all the rights and privileges of Parliament. It began by handing over powers to a Department, and now each Department has powers which it was never contemplated they should have a few years ago. Now we are asked to go a step further and to hand over a power, which ought to be maintained by Parliament, to three outside gentlemen whose recommendations will invariably be accepted by the Treasury.
I am surprised to see present so few of those Members who pressed the right hon. Gentleman to include their raw material in this Free List. After exert-ing all the power that they possessed, they were able to compel the Chancellor of the Exchequer to include in the Free List many things that he had no desire to include at that time. In their absence an attempt is being made to get back the concession which the Chancellor was compelled to make to them in the early days of the Debate on the Free List. It is a striking thing that so many Members of Parliament who have personal interests in certain industries and are ardent Protectionists should express their desire to see everybody else's raw material taxed, but when it comes to the raw material of the industries in which they themselves are personally and financially interested, they go to the Chancellor almost in a procession begging for their raw material to be included in the Free List. The present position apparently is that the concessions that were then made will probably be taken away if this Clause is passed without the Amendment. I am sure that the Home Secretary and the President of the Board of Education will agree with us in proposing this Amendment. It was obvious in the earlier discussions on the items to be included in the Free List that they would never agree to the exemption of meat from that list.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Now the hon. Member is coming to the point about which I warned him; he is dealing now with the next Amendment.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. McENTEE
The object of our Amendment is to prevent the three Mem- 125 bers of the Advisory Committee having the power to take articles out of the Free List and to put them in a new schedule under which they will be taxed. I feel sure that the Home Secretary and the President of the Board of Education will be able to show by their presence in the Lobby with us that they have not forgotten their pledges in the election. The Government lead themselves into a position in which they cannot show a united front on anything, and I am afraid that on this question again they will have a bad division. I would like to see the division expressed in words by those Members of the Government who agree with us on this point. Apparently, however, they are not going to express their opposition to the Clause, and we hope to see them in the Division Lobby with us. Every Member of the Committee ought to be concerned about this point, for we are giving away to three outside people the right of Parliament to control most important matters. Such a step ought not to be taken by any Parliament, let alone a National Government which ought to stand for the interests of the whole nation. It cannot be said to be in the interests of the nation for three people, however eminent, to be given such an important power over the raw material of all industries. I hope that the Government will see the wisdom of accepting the Amendment; they will then not only do something that is right from the point of view of the nation, but give an opportunity to those in their own ranks to get out of an awkward difficulty.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
I want to make a sincere appeal to the Government to consider whether it is not possible to give way in what after all is not such a serious matter with regard to the working of the Import Duties Act. The Amendment simply asks that before the recommendations of the Advisory Committee are put into force they shall be brought before Parliament. If they are put into force before they are passed by Parliament, there may be very serious consequences for industry. The worst thing that can happen to an industry is doubt as to its position. An industry may be in the position of having certain raw materials on the Free List and then suddenly finding them taken out. A few weeks ago there was some dislocation of trade 126 because of the sudden alteration of certain duties, and the same dislocation may take place if this Clause remains un-amended. For the sake of the few days that would be involved before putting into operation the recommendations of the Advisory Committee, the Government might well accept the Amendment. It is a perfectly reasonable request. When the Import Duties Act was going through we on these benches pointed out the serious consequences the application of these powers might have, and I and certain of my hon. Friends will certainly support this Amendment; but we should prefer the Government to acknowledge the justice of it. It would assist the easy working of industry by giving industrialists a certain continuity of policy which they can follow. I trust the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to tell us that this Amendment can be accepted.
I rise to support the Amendment, and I trust the Government will give it their serious consideration. There are two important reasons why we take strong exception to this Clause in the Finance Bill. When the duties were first considered by the House the requirements of various industries were taken into account, and the raw materials which those industries have to import were placed on the free list, and so, also, were many articles of food. In this free list are articles which affect the industry in which I am very deeply interested, the coal industry. For the time being pit props are in the free list, but we are going to allow three gentlemen, at a time, maybe, when Parliament is in recess for several months, to put a duty on pit props and other raw materials. More vital still, there are foods in the free list. Surely if Parliament, in its wisdom, thought the free list was the proper place for certain articles of food it is Parliament which ought to decide whether they shall be removed from the free list. Whatever recommendations the Advisory Committee may make, before they come into operation we in this House ought to have an opportunity of expressing our opinion upon them. Whilst I was fully aware when I came to the House that we should have a "ramp" as regards tariffs, I never dreamed that the Government would go so far as to take away from their own followers, as well as from us who are in 127 opposition, the right of voicing our opinions on these vital questions. We strongly protest against a Clause which hands over such powers to the Advisory Committee, and we appeal to the Cabinet to save the rights of this House, to allow Parliament itself to decide these very vital issues. Already one mistake has been made since the Import Duties Act was passed. It had to be remedied in a hurry by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at midnight. Are we certain that there will not be another scene of that description? The vital thing for which I stand is the right of Members of Parliament, sent here by the votes of the people, to express their opinion on these matters.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Hore-Belisha)
Two misapprehensions seem to inspire the speeches which have been delivered in support of this Amendment. The first is that three mysterious men, far removed from the control of this House, can, the moment this Clause is carried, impose a tax upon the necessaries of life of the people. Of course, that is a complete misapprehension. The second misapprehension is that this is a Clause to put a tax upon meat and wheat. That also is entirely erroneous. No such thing can be done. May I remind the Committee of the structure of the Import Duties Act? That Act, in its first Clause, imposed a 10 per cent. ad valorem duty upon all articles imported into this country, with certain exceptions. The exceptions were of two kinds: Goods which were taxed under some other Statute, or goods placed upon the Free List. An Advisory Committee was constituted, and was empowered to recommend increases of duties above the 10 per cent. and was empowered to recommend admissions to the Free List, but it was not empowered to recommend deductions from the Free List. It is that omission which this Clause rectifies.
I would call the attention of this Committee to the important procedure which runs right through the Import Duties Act. Whether the Advisory Committee make a recommendation to increase a duty or to remit it by putting the goods upon the Free List, the same method is pursued. Following the recommendation of the Advisory Committee 128 the Treasury has to approve that recommendation, and, if it so desires, can make an Order. The next stage is that unless that Order is ratified by the House of Commons within 28 days it ceases to have effect. That procedure runs right through the Import Duties Act. My hon. and learned Friend who moved the Amendment so persuasively did not propose, indeed, he was not empowered to propose, a change in that general procedure which I have described. He was of necessity content to leave it exactly as it is in general, only modifying it in one particular. What his Amendment cornea to is this: We are to leave that procedure exactly where it is—namely, a recommendation by the Advisory Committee, followed by an Order, followed by the approval of the House of Commons—in all respects except one, and that is that when a recommendation proposes to take a certain article out of the Free List the Order is not to become operative until the House of Commons sanctions it. What would be the effect of such an Amendment? It would be giving public notice that we intended to impose a duty. We should lay the Order upon the Table of the House, thus advising every importer that within 28 days, or maybe some longer period, a certain duty would be levied upon particular goods. My hon. Friend the Member for South Bradford (Mr. Holds-worth) spoke of the dislocation of trade which would ensue if we did not accept this Amendment. It is nothing to the dislocation of trade which would be brought about if we did accept it.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
May I interrupt? It need not be for a period of 28 days; it could be within a period of 28 days. That difficulty can be got over.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
Certainly, but it might be 28 days, and we have to have regard to what might be when we are legislating in this House; and I therefore say that this Amendment would disturb the whole symmetry of the Act. I understand the solicitude of my hon. and learned Friend for the privileges of the House of Commons. He seems to think that when goods are removed from the Free List, and thus made liable to a tax, that we, in this House of Commons, should enjoy some additional safeguard. The Government have already provided 129 that safeguard. I would remind my hon. and learned Friend that all importations into this country dealt with in this Measure are subject to a 10 per cent. ad valorem duty for all time. These goods on the Free List, and which may be made liable to taxation in the future, are to have a special procedure before they become assessable to the 10 per cent. duty, but they are subject to an Order which can be fully debated in this House.
Therefore, to suggest that we are sacrificing any of our ancient rights is an exaggeration, because we are sacrificing none. It is not reasonable to suggest that the Government would promulgate an Order if it did not represent the will of the House of Commons. The object of following this procedure is to protect the House of Commons from external influences. We have admittedly embarked upon a fiscal change, and in embarking upon it we have had before us as a warning the tariffs of other countries, and we have tried to avoid the pitfalls to which they have succumbed. I appeal to the Committee, and even to those who disapprove of the change, to admit that, if the change had to be made—and it is the will of the people, it should be made—it has been accomplished in a circumspect manner, and I think we have here the most watertight and scientific system that the brain and good will of man can devise.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
If the proposal before us is the most watertight and scientific system that the brain and goodwill of man can devise, then, as someone has remarked, "God help the country!" The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade said that we were under two misapprehensions, first, that the Commissioners were imposing a tax, and, secondly, that this Clause put a tax on wheat and meat. I was not under either of those misapprehensions. I do not suggest that the Commissioners would impose a tax. What I do suggest, and what, I think, the Parliamentary Secretary will accept, is that the object of setting up the Commissioners is in order to take away from the Government and the House the determination of what shall be taxed. That is the basis of the whole policy of the Government. They say that this matter must be left to independent individuals to decide, and they are the builders of this great scientific 130 edifice which is going to be erected, pile upon pile of tariffs.
Is that not the basis and the intention of the Import Duties Act? If that is so, then our argument is perfectly sound that this proposal is intended to remove from the control of the House of Commons those matters which were expressly retained under the Import Duties Act. Under that Measure, as introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade the Government themselves decided that it was necessary and desirable that these matters should be removed from the Tariff Commission when it formulated its policy. Therefore it is idle for the Parliamentary Secretary to come forward with that argument, which means technically "no" but actually "yes." That is the object of the scheme, and the Order containing the long list of duties shows that it is the scheme. It is a mere farce for the Parliamentary Secretary to try to get out of this argument by putting forward an excuse of that sort.
Secondly, the Parliamentary Secretary says that it is not proposed to put a tax on meat or wheat. But that is precisely what can be done. It does not mean necessarily wheat and meat, but what is now proposed enables taxes to be imposed upon those things which are in the First Schedule of the Free List, and if the Government do not want taxes to be imposed upon those articles except by the will of Parliament, then the best course would be to delete this Clause altogether. Neither of those two arguments meets the case which has been put forward. The Parliamentary Secretary says that we accepted the procedure laid down under the Import Duties Act, and that now we are trying to alter it. He knows very well that the Government have so designed their Financial Resolutions that we cannot alter them. It is rather a false argument to say that we are only attempting to make this alteration, leaving the whole structure of the Import Duties Act untouched. We should not leave that Act untouched if we had an opportunity of touching it. The matters included in the First Schedule were dealt with in a completely different way under the Import Duties Act. The Government, in their infinite wisdom— this Government with a watertight scheme 131 —decided that the articles in the First Schedule should be dealt with differently, and we are only asking that the same treatment should be continued.
The change is being brought about by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and not by us. In this Bill it is the Government who are making the change. At this moment nothing can be taken out of the First Schedule without the consent of this House. That has to be done by this House. It is the Parliamentary Secretary and the Government who are proposing that, in future, this shall not be done by the House, and it is absurd for the hon. Member to turn round now and say that we are proposing an anomaly which is contrary to the rest of the procedure. We are not doing anything of the sort. We are simply proposing that the present procedure, as far as possible, should be persisted in and continued. It is the Parliamentary Secretary who is the revolutionary, and it is he who wants to take these matters, which were considered to be of such vital importance that they were dealt with by the Government specially, and say, "Remit them to the Tariff Commission, let us have another omnibus Order with everything in it to come before this House 28 days after it has been in force." There are a great many people interested in the articles included in such Orders, and we are to be snowed under by such articles as bicycles, motor cars and everything else.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I would remind the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) that those are things which he himself has already said can-not be dealt with.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I was simply illustrating the class of goods which can be laid before the House of Commons.
§ The CHAIRMAN
If I understood the hon. and learned Member, he was illustrating the class of Order which can be made under the Import Duties Act as it is at present, and which cannot be altered by this procedure. The hon. and learned 132 Member must confine his remarks to the class of Order with which we are dealing under this Amendment.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I was dealing with the class of Order which can be made now if this Clause is passed, and which may include things which are not now included, such as bicycles, motor cars, and so on, which can be included under the existing Act. What I am objecting to is that we shall get thrown before the House an Order which covers things which can only come in by virtue of Section 6 and a whole mass of other things. Naturally, when the discussion comes one will be cluttered up with a lot of different considerations on a single Order and on that Order the House has got to say "yea" or "nay." If there were a special procedure the House would have to consider separately any question of removals from the Free List and that is what we desire. We do not desire them to be mixed up with a lot of other things.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Perhaps I do not rightly understand the hon. and learned Gentleman's Amendment, but, as I understand it, the procedure he is advocating does not apply to those Orders which increase the general duty but applies simply and solely to Orders which take items out of the Free List.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
That is perfectly accurate and that is why I am seeking to change what at present exists in the Section. At present the Section does not distinguish in procedure between the two. If the Amendment is accepted, there will be a distinction in procedure.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Yes, but the hon. and learned Member's Amendment does not apply to the kind of Orders he was talking about and under which the Committee could recommend a tax. The Amendment only applies to Orders which take things out of the Free List. If the hon. and learned Member reads the Clause he is seeking to amend and sees what the Orders are to which this Amendment applies, I think he will find that they are only Orders to take out of the Free List—a type of Order which does not exist at present at all.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
With great submission, the words "to take out of the Free List" are merely technical words that mean the imposition of a 10 per cent. tax.
§ The CHAIRMAN
But it does not mean adding an extra tax. Those are the. Orders of which the hon. and learned Member is speaking.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
Again with great submission there is no reason whatsoever that I can see why a recommendation should not be made to remove, let us say, wheat from the Free List and impose a 10 per cent. further duty. That can perfectly well be done.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That may be so, but the hon. and learned Gentleman's Amendment would not apply to it. The Amendment can only apply to Orders to take out of the Free List and not to an Order to put on an increased tax.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
That is what I am trying to point out. If this is left as it is at present the position will be that an Order can be made to remove things out of the Free List and add another 10 per cent. duty to them, covering bicycles and other things as well. It can all be done under one Order, under the same procedure and in the same way, if it stands as it is. If the alteration which this Amendment would make is made, there would have to be a distinction, and it is upon that distinction that I am relying for the
§ purpose of my argument. I am saying it is vitally necessary that there should be that distinction because the things that Section 6 of the Clause seeks to do, namely, the removal from the Free List, is a matter which it is important should be dealt with specially under a special form of Order which has to come before the House in a special way. I was only seeking to point out that we are anxious that it should be impossible to deal with all these Orders under the same procedure. This House has already decided that the First Schedule is something which is not to be dealt with by the Tariff Commission. Although we cannot now get rid of Clause 6 itself, except by voting against it, which we shall do, if we are going to have Orders made under the Clause, then we should at least say that before they become operative this House must have an opportunity of dealing with them, not mixed up with a lot of other things, but in isolation by a special procedure which enables this House to consider them before any tax is put upon them or they are removed from the Free List.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 56; Noes, 281.135
|Division No. 191.]||AYES.||[9.31 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Hirst, George Henry||Morris, Rhys Hopkin (Cardigan)|
|Batey, Joseph||Holdsworth, Herbert||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Hopkinson, Austin||Parkinson, John Allan|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Janner, Barnett||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Buchanan, George||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Price, Gabriel|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Cove, William G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lawson, John James||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Oarwen)|
|Dagger, George||Leonard, William||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A.(C'thness)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Logan, David Gilbert||Thorns, William James|
|Edwards, Charles||Lunn, William||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Mabane, William||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||McEntee, Valentine L.||White, Henry Graham|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Grenfell, David Reel (Glamorgan)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(Corn'll N.)||Williams, Dr. John H. (Lianelly)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley(Middlesbro', W).||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hall, George H. (Merthvr Tydvil)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Mr. Groves and Mr. Tinker.|
|Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Maxton, James|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Bossom, A. C.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Boulton, W. W.|
|Agnew, Lieut..Com. P. G.||Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.|
|Albery, Irving James||Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Boyce, H. Leslie|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Bracken, Brendan|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Briscoe, Capt. Richard George|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Brockiebank, C. E. R.|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Blaker, Sir Reginald||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd, Hexham)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Blindell, James||Brown, Ernest (Leith)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Boothby, Robert John Graham||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)|
|Burghley, Lord||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Peters, Dr. Sidney John|
|Burnett, John George||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Petherick, M.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (Wverh'pt'n, Bliston)|
|Caine, G. R. Hall-||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Cheimst'd)||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Potter, John|
|Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Powell, Lieut. Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Hope, Capt. Arthur O. J. (Aston)||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Pybus, Percy John|
|Carver, Major William H.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Cassels, James Dale||Hornby, Frank||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Castle Stewart, Earl||Horsbrugh, Florence||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Howard, Tom Forrest||Ratcliffe, Arthur|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Ray, Sir William|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Home, Sir George Hopwood||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hutchison, W. D. (Essex Romf'd)||Reid, Capt. Cunningham-|
|Chalmers, John Rutherford||Inskip Rt. Hon Sir Thomas W. H.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Choriton Alan Ernest Leofric||Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Robinson, John Roland|
|Clarke, Frank||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Jamieson, Douglas||Rosbotham, S. T.|
|Clayton, Dr. George C.||Jennings, Roland||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Jones, Sir G. w. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Ker, J. Campbell||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Colville, John||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Knatchbull, Captain Hon M. H. R.||Salmon, Major Isidore|
|Cooke, Douglas||Knebworth, Viscount||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.)||Scone, Lord|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Leckie, J. A.||Selley, Harry R.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||levy, Thomas||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Lewis, Oswald||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Liddall, Walter S.||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unv., Belfast)|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Slater, John|
|Denville, Alfred||Llewellin, Major John J.||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Dickie, John P.||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Donner, P. W.||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Doran, Edward||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Dower, Captain A. V. G.||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Duggan, Hubert John||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. C. (Westmorland)|
|Dunglass, Lord||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Stevenson, James|
|Eastwood, John Francis||McKie, John Hamilton||Stones, James|
|Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Magnay, Thomas||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Maitland, Adam||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (Pd'gt'n, S.)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Templeton, William P.|
|Fleiden, Edward Brockiehurst||Meller, Richard James||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Milne, John Sydney Wardlaw-||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Molson, A. Hugh Eisdale||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Moreing, Adrian C.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Goff, Sir Park||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Goldie, Noel B.||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Morrison, William Shepherd||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Moss, Captain H. J.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Greene, William P. C.||Munro, Patrick||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)||Nail-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||North, Captain Edward T.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||O'Connor, Terence James||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Hales, Harold K.||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Withers, Sir John James|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||Palmer, Francis Noel||Womersley, Walter James|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Patrick, Colin M.||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Harbord, Arthur||Pearson, William G.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Hartland, George A.||Peat, Charles U.|
|Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Penny, Sir George||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Captain Austin Hudson and Lieut.-|
|Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward.|
§ Mr. DAVID GRENFELL
I beg to move, in page 4, line 14, at the end, to insert the words:Provided that any recommendation or order made in pursuance of this Section shall not apply to wheat in grain or meat as defined in the First Schedule.We wish to retain for wheat and meat their place on the Free List. We regret that the Government have used their overwhelming majority to reject the last Amendment. I am sure that this has been a disappointment to many Liberals who were elected in good faith to form part of a National Government, and who have been scandalously betrayed in this regard. As the Clause stands, any of the articles which are now on the Free List may be subjected to duties on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee. I would ask hon. Members to bear in mind how very strongly the President of the Board of Trade, for example, dwelt upon the inviolability of the list in the Schedule, and, indeed, the Schedule to the Import; Duties Act itself almost states that there is to be no withdrawal of articles from the list set forth in the Act. We are grateful to the Chairman of the Advisory Committee for his help in elucidating the Committee's exact position. As I understand the position now the Advisory Committee has had conferred upon it very clear and distinct additional powers. Previously it was only untitled to recommend additional duties upon dutiable articles, and there were certain commodities, set out one by one in a long and varied list, which were to be free from attack by the Committee. Now we understand that at any time, without any explanation, any or all of those articles can be removed from the Free List, can be made subject to a general tariff of 10 per cent., and can then, without a word of discussion in the House, be made subject to additional duties on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee.
We now find that although there are two stages of procedure—first, the removal from the Free List of any of the articles scheduled, and secondly, the addition of duties beyond the limit provided in the Act—all this can be done almost in one bound, so that a commodity which is now free may become subject, on entering this country, to an ad valorem duty of 50 or 60 per cent. or even more. I 138 regard that as a distinct breach of the confidence of the very large number of electors in all parts of the country who voted for National candidates because they were assured that there was not to be general Protection, and that certainly there was to be no taxation on the people's food.
This committee has been authorised to select articles for taxation, and it can do just as it likes subject to general approval in the House. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) was quite right when he said this committee can make any change it likes in the list without a word of discussion taking place in the House. That is bad enough, but what is worse is that the House is now setting up a body of people with almost unlimited powers who will act, not as assessors of taxes, not as adjudicators on the claim of this or that commodity to protection, but as auxiliaries to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who can call upon them in the expectation of receiving assistance in balancing his Budget. This is perhaps the only Budget of its kind that has ever been passed. In previous Budgets we knew exactly what taxation was to be imposed for the following year, but this time no one knows. We have a skeleton Budget presented to us and, side by side with it, there is the possibility of an immense additional charge in the form of duties upon imported commodities which may be brought to the assistance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in balancing his Budget should it fall short of his expectation. That is a very serious departure from the principles of taxation which we have followed in the past.
The Chancellor is much more ingenious than his predecessors. Previous Chancellors have clumsily adopted, more or less openly, dodges for balancing their Budgets. They have gone robbing hen roosts and looking for resources in all kinds of unexpected places and have claimed credit for the dodges that they have adopted. The present Chancellor does nothing of the kind. He has not the faintest idea what deficit he may have at the end of next year, but he has appointed to his aid a body of people who will act as highwaymen, who have authority to hold up to ransom unsuspicious victims who come their way and strip 139 them of their possessions. It is a most unheard of thing. It is a kind of farming out of the taxation system to three gentlemen who have no responsibility and no special qualifications for the duties which they have to perform. There have been emphatic pronouncements. It has been denied that the President of the Board of Trade made any pledge in the House. I will read something that he himself said:I was asked specifically in my constituency by Liberal and Conservative supporters what was my attitude on this subject and I stated quite emphatically that I was against the taxation of our staple foods. As our staple foods I mentioned specifically wheat and meat."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th February, 1932; col. 929, Vol. 261.]We want to help the right hon. Gentleman to keep his pledge to his Liberal and Conservative electors, without whose support he would not now be in the House. We want to help him, in spite of himself, to be loyal to these constituents, and we want him to be able to meet them by leaving these two commodities out of any possible Measure of taxation. This, is not only a matter of Parliamentary probity and loyalty to his constituents and fidelity to his pledges. It is a matter of very serious importance to the working people, who, in the main, will be called upon to pay these taxes. Of the total expenditure on food, 34 per cent. is expenditure on meat and 9 per cent. on cereal foods. A sum in the aggregate of nearly £200,000,000 is spent on meat and wheat. In these days, when the economy Measures of the Government have reduced purchasing power to such a low standard, these two commodities should be allowed to come in without any addition to their price. Already there is a tax on bread. There is a quota payment on imported wheat. There is already £6,000,000 per annum chargeable on the people's bread. We insist that no 'addition should be made to the price paid for meat.
Every single Member of the Government has more or less declared against the taxation of food. I do not think the Lord President of the Council has been quite explicit on the matter, but Lord Snowden, a very important Member of. the Government, has declared against it time and time again. He is strangely silent in these days, stowed away in that 140 refuge of tired politicians, but I feel sure that, if he found his voice again and was tempted to reveal his mind on the subject, he would speak very strongly against this further taxation of food. We expect the Home Secretary and the President of the Board of Education to do something more than vote against it. They are not ciphers. They are not automata, here to vote only. They are here to speak. I remember the President of the Board of Education, when fighting for Liberal principles, often rose to his feet and voluntarily conducted the defence of those principles night after night. He does not discharge his obligation by walking into the Lobby now and again with us. His place is to speak. The acid test of all this is the taxation of food. Liberals should declare to-night whether they will continue to support a National Government which put this very heavy burden upon food coming into the country.
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury made a comparison between direct taxation in pre-War days and the proportion of direct taxation in the present Budget, and said how much more solicitous were the Government of the common people's wages than the pre-War Governments in which the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was Chancellor of the Exchequer. He said that direct taxation then accounted for 57 per cent., and that in 1932 the National Government were raising by direct taxation 61 per cent. I am not sure whether he has declared what proportion of indirect taxation is to be charged in the present Budget. I think that we shall find that the proportion of indirect taxation at the end of this year may be very much higher than it was at the beginning of the year. If it is not, what is the object of all this, and why do the Government press for these powers in the Finance Bill?
There is the possibility of a considerable addition to the burden of indirect taxation. Food taxes are taxes upon poor people. A very much larger proportion of the income of the poor people goes in food. It does not require a very close investigation to prove it. A family living upon an income of £100 a year may spend 50, 60 or 65 per cent. of the income on food, but that same family with an income raised to £400 a year would spend a very considerably smaller proportion of 141 their income in that way. The larger the income, when an income runs into thousands of pounds, although the recipients are called upon to pay a larger measure of direct taxation, the indirect taxation is much smaller in proportion. Let the right hon. Gentleman not deceive himself. Let him realise that, while it is true that before the War 57 per cent. of the income was paid by direct taxpayers, and that 61 per cent. of the present Budget is paid by direct taxpayers, more than the whole of the taxation paid by direct taxpayers is an additional burden due to the War, and has to be borne year after year. £300,000,000 has to be paid for the use of money spent during the War. Out of that amount a sum almost equal to the Income Tax and Super-tax goes largely to the class of people who pay direct taxation. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] The working man has to pay a bigger proportion of his income in the purchase of food, and men whose incomes are limited because of the taxation of food are driven to obtain cheaper food, because they must secure food in adequate quantities.
The result will not be what hon. Members opposite anticipate. They will not buy more from the agriculturist but will be forced, because of high prices, to obtain cheaper supplies of food and to buy in larger proportion foreign food which the Government say they are anxious to keep out of the country. The inducement of all this will be for the consumer and the lower wage-earner to have recourse to markets where cheaper food can be obtained, and it will be cheaper food from abroad. The inclusion of these commodities in the Free List has given great consolation to people in the National Government, but the possibility of the withdrawal of these commodities has taken away from a great many supporters of the National Government the last vestige of confidence in the Government. It is unjust to put a heavier burden of taxation on the people's food. The people of the country will resent it, and they will do so more and more as time passes. The Government to-night are preparing for their own end. I can see the halter round their neck. I can see the Lord President of the Council meeting his political Waterloo, after which he will be banished to St. Helena, a bourne from which he will not return.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
There is an Amendment upon the Order Paper in my name dealing with a larger aspect extending exclusion to all foodstuffs, and in some ways I should have liked to have discussed the broader issue. As far as I am concerned, however, I am prepared to deal with the two articles, the exclusion of which has been moved by the hon. Member opposite because the Amendment raises perhaps the most important items. Taking wheat in particular, I see no reason whatever why the Government should not accept the exclusion of wheat, because the Minister of Agriculture in his wisdom has taken another course deliberately for dealing with the question of the price of wheat from the point of view of the farmers of the country by a system of quotas. We had a very long and interesting discussion upon the Bill before it became an Act of Parliament, and the Minister convinced the majority of the House that the right system with which to deal with wheat was by way of quota, though I did not take that line. That being so, the Committee and the Government should have no hesitation in agreeing to the exclusion of wheat. I have looked up the report dated April, 1932, dealing with the Import Duties. In page 9, paragraph 17, the Commission seemed inclined to think that on the whole they did not wish particularly to deal with food. They said:Food products are of outstanding importance by reason of the extent to which they enter into the cost of living; no less than 60 per cent. of the Ministry of Labour cost-of-living index being based upon retail food prices. While we recognise the desirability of stimulating the production in this country of many food products now figuring largely in the national imports, we have to take cognisance of the action that is being taken, or is known to be in contemplation, by the Government in this direction otherwise than by way of Import Duties.It seems to me that, on the top of that remark, there is a very strong case for taking from the Committee the responsibility of sitting in judgment on the question of meat and wheat. Agriculture and stock-raising have been going through a very difficult time and it is only human nature that, in due course, this overworked committee will have to survey the whole of the complex industrial problem of the country and the whole question of the raw material of industry. Therefore, we should take from their cognisance the responsibility of sitting in 143 judgment on the case of the stock breeders and the taxing of imported meat. They will have their hands full enough without being troubled with that case. Therefore, it would be wise, having regard to the state of public opinion in these difficult times, to remove these two classes of goods from those that can be taken from the Free List.
The total importation of meat represents a sum of over £90,000,000. There is mutton and lamb. We import something like £18,000,000 worth, of which £10,000,000 worth comes from New Zealand, £3,500,000 worth from Australia, and £4,000,000 from the Argentine. One hon. Member was not satisfied that foreign mutton alone should be excluded, but he wanted to exclude also mutton from the Dominion of New Zealand. It would be very poor consolation to the consumers of mutton in this country to find that a small quantity of foreign mutton was being excluded while New Zealand and Australian foreign lamb and mutton was pouring into the country. The case in regard to mutton is unanswerable. The real case is the beef problem. There is a large quantity of beef coming into the country. The total imports amount to something like £25,500,000 worth. The largest amount comes from the Argentine in the form of chilled beef to the amount of about £16,000,000. A further £1,500,000 worth comes from the same country in the form of frozen meat. Australia comes up a bad second with £1,750,000 worth. Therefore, the greater part of our beef imports come from the Argentine.
I do not want to go into the controversial question of whether the Argentine is a very good customer of ours, that a very large amount of British capital is invested there, with a very insufficient security at the present time, and that a large part of the trade in this particular product is in British hands. We cannot, however, ignore the fact that £18,000,000 or £19,000,000 worth of beef comes from the Argentine. Some hon. Members have received a very interesting pamphlet, in the form of a message, from a very enterprising gentleman who explains that at the last General Election, like many other people, he supported the National Government. In 144 that document he deals with the question of home-killed beef. He says:No market is more easily over-supplied than that for home-killed beef. The whole difficulty is that there are not sufficient people in the country who can afford the price that the English producer must obtain.I speak with more than 25 years' experience of working-class people in the East End of London, and it may be a surprise to many Members to know that my constituents much prefer to buy British home-killed beef. The only reason why they do not buy it is that they cannot afford to pay the price. Therefore, they have to buy a substitute, a satisfactory substitute, in the form of Argentine chilled beef. In the pamphlet in question the gentleman says:In producing half the beef requirements of this country, British farmers are already producing too much beef to supply the available market. It is nonsense to talk about producing more in order to compel the working people to take more British beef at 100 per cent. increase in cost over the imported. They have not the money to buy it.I can confirm that statement.The only possible course is to adjust production to the quantity that can be sold at a profit. Indeed, in view of the great numerical disproportion between the rich and poor in this country, the British farmer is doing exceedingly well to be able to supply 57 per cent. of the beef requirements of the nation at the high price he is compelled to charge for it owing to his high costs. … The average price of chilled beef in Smithfield Market in 1931 was 4⅝d. per lb. …. Who would dare to suggest that the cost of beef should be raised to a figure that it could only be afforded as an occasional luxury by the working classes. [Interruption.]They are not my words. They are by Sir Edmund Vestey.That is what must happen if butchers are to be forced to buy British beef by tariffs or quotas at 8⅝d. per lb. in place of the South American product costing our working people 4⅝d. per lb. Obviously the wholesale price cannot be increased 100 per cent. without increasing the retail price still more.Those are the views of a man who is outside politics. [Interruption.] Hon. Members are very suspicious. He makes no secret of the fact that he has much money invested in South America. Is that wrong? Why not? At any rate, in his particular case his particular interests happen to synchronise with the interests of the bulk of our consuming 145 people. Our working classes in all these hard times, with years of unemployment and depression in the coal trade and other industries, have been able to have cheap and abundant meat supplies because of the policy of free imports, and I suggest, whatever may be the advantage of a tariff for dealing with industrial depression, it is not wise or expedient at a time of great industrial depression and economic disturbance to put into the hand of three gentlemen the responsibility of deciding between the interests of the stock breeders on the one hand and of the great consuming millions on the other. I suggest that common wisdom and common statesmanship should lead us to exclude these two particular articles. I have complete confidence in the integrity and character of the members of the committee and am satisfied, that on the whole, we could not have a more efficient tribunal. Articles of food which are vital to the well-being of our 40,000,000 population should be excluded from the deliberations of this tribunal at a time of economic depression. The Amendment does not decrease the power of the House of Commons nor does it exclude the responsibility of the Government to deal with the whole agricultural question. In view of their pledges and their promises that they would exclude certain articles of food from taxation the Government would be well advised to accept the Amendment and thus strengthen their position in the country and the status of the Tariff Advisory Committee.
§ Mr. HOWARD
The speeches of the hon. Member for South West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) and the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell) assumed that the only object of a tariff is to impose additional taxation upon our people, whereas the tariffs which the present Government are carrying through have a different purpose. By the imposition of a scientific tariff we desire to see a revival of trade and industry in this country and throughout the Empire. We have been sent to this House to examine the best method that can be adopted for the restoration of British industry. The appointment of the Tariff Advisory Committee is futile unless they are allowed to investigate all the interests which come before them and make their recommendations. The hon. Member for 146 Gower has said that we have already imposed £6,000,000 additional taxation upon bread by the Wheat quota, but we all know that the price of bread to-day has been reduced by one halfpenny per loaf. We also know that as a result of the tariffs which have been imposed over the last five months the retail prices of food and clothing have continually decreased, disproving utterly all the fears which hon Members opposite continually conjure up.
We have been told that this is only a method of relieving the burdens of the rich and protecting the receivers of interest on War Debt. The statement that the receivers of interest on War Debt are only rich people is utterly absurd. Hon. Members opposite know that the solvency of many of their own trade unions depend on the receipt of this interest. Only a few years ago the National Union of Railwaymen boasted that it received annually over £65,000 a year in interest on the money which it had invested in War Debt. Most of the co-operative societies receive interest upon securities in War Loans, and building societies and co-operative investment societies have also money invested in War Loan; and these are societies which are run and controlled by hon. Members opposite. Therefore, to talk of this War Debt as being owned entirely by members of the capitalist class, is to ignore the facts.
There is no need to worry about an increase in the price of food as a result of placing in the hands of the tariffs Advisory Committee the suggestions that we are discussing. Wheat and meat can be used for bargaining purposes without imperilling the cost of living at all. There is a great disparity between wholesale-and retail prices, and if we can use some of that very wide margin to reinvigorate agriculture in Canada, Australia, Africa, or even in this country, without putting any further burdens on retail prices, we shall have done one of the jobs which the electors sent us here to do—to balance our Budget and do away with the adverse balance of trade, and bring some hope of employment to our people.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
The Committee is entitled to hear from the Government how the proposal now being considered squares with the plans that the Government are forming for the negotiations at 147 Ottawa. The Committee has not yet heard any comprehensive statement as to why this proposal is made at the present time. One would have thought that the Government would have tried to keep this power in its hands until the Ottawa Conference has met. It has no right to prejudice what the Advisory Committee will do. The Advisory Committee may take a step that cuts right across any intentions that the Government may have with respect to Ottawa. The point has already been made that there seems to be no coherence in the Government's policy. At one time we are told that quotas are the proper way for dealing with wheat. Then we are told that wheat should be dealt with as a part of the negotiating conditions with the Canadians and Australians. On top of that we have the complicated and contradictory policy of handing over the importation of this important product to a body over which this House has no effective control at all.
There may be a case for the taxation of wheat and meat. If so, let us have it; we have not had it yet. We are surely entitled to ask the Government to place before the Committee some considered plan of its intentions with respect to these commodities. It might quite properly be argued that the Government are not in a position to disclose their plans until the Ottawa Conference has met. Then why take this step % This step cannot be considered as a consistent part of any plan, because the action that the Government may find it necessary to take with regard to the importation of wheat and meat must depend entirely on what happens at Ottawa. Therefore, apart from the old question as to whether the food of the people should be taxed or not, it puzzles us on this side to know what coherent, integrated body of doctrine is animating the Government's policy. The Lord President of the Council is surely under an obligation to tell us what he has in his mind. I do not know whether the rumours are correct that the Lord President of the Council does not intend to go to Ottawa. There are ominous rumours in circulation that the right hon. Gentleman has distinct fears that the Ottawa Conference will prove to be a white elephant, and that, having been associated already with one white elephant on the other side of the Atlantic, he is 148 anxious not to be associated with another. Are we to understand that the right hon. Gentleman feels that the high hopes which have been raised about the Ottawa Conference have no foundation in fact? Are we to assume that the system of scientific Imperial tariffs advanced to the electorate at the last election as the justification for tariffs has now to be abandoned and that the Lord President of the Council, anxious not to be associated with failure at Ottawa, is sending his colleagues there to negotiate the failure in order that his own political stature may not be impaired thereby?
I think this Committee is entitled to know what is the policy of the Government. The Government cannot have it three ways. They want to have a wheat quota; they want to send this matter to the Advisory Committee, and, as they have told us again and again, they want to go to Ottawa with a free hand. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us that it is impossible to enter into trade agreements with any nations outside the Empire because to do so might prejudge the results of the Ottawa Conference. But surely that applies also to the Tariff Advisory Committee— unless, indeed, it is merely a sub-committee of the Cabinet, unless its judicial impartiality is a fiction, unless the Advisory Committee is simply to do what the Chancellor of the Exchequer wants it to do. Are we to assume that Sir George May is merely the henchman of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and that the Government know what the Committee's representations will be before they are made, or are we to assume that Sir George May and the Committee are free and independent people, ready to give objective and dispassionate consideration to this issue? If so, they might produce a scheme very inconsistent with the ideas of the Ottawa Conference. Their recommendations might be as embarrassing to Ottawa as any agreement arrived at with a foreign nation.
The right hon. Gentleman must not abuse the House of Commons. Members of the Conservative party must ask their own Front Bench to treat them with more respect. At the moment they are being treated like a lot of docile sheep. Any sort of proposition put by the Government is received with credulous 149 applause by the Members of the Conservative party, no matter how contradictory the proposals may be. We do not ask the right hon. Gentleman to take us into his confidence about Ottawa. We do not expect that. It would be inconsistent with the obligations of His Majesty's Government and with the autonomy of the Dominions to prejudge the results of the councils at Ottawa. But the Dominions must be viewing our discussions this evening with great disquietude, because the Government are revoking an instrument of legislative authority which will act in contradistinction to the purposes of the Government in co-operation with the Dominions. I therefore suggest that the Lord President of the Council must give us a reply or, to go back to my earlier point, are we to assume that he has now abandoned Ottawa? Are we to assume that it has already been brought to his ears that the pressure of American finance in Canada is stronger than Canada's sentiment towards the British Empire, and that he knows that the obstacles to be overcome at Ottawa are so serious that he cannot hope to obtain from Ottawa any results which will satisfy the clamour of the hordes behind him on those benches?
Hon. and right hon. Members in all parts of the House treated with derision the point made by the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) that a good deal of British capital had been sunk in the Argentine. Any study of our trade returns will show that without the invisible exports of this country we should be in an extremely parlous condition. We have sunk about £540,000,000 in the Argentine over the last century, and in so far as our trade returns are balanced, it is largely as a consequence of the receipts from those countries. What will be the effect on our balance of trade if we impoverish the Argentine? You cannot expect the Argentine to pay the dividends upon £540,000,000 and prevent the Argentine selling her products to the biggest market in the world. You cannot have it both ways, and the difficulty with hon. and right hon. Members who believe 60 ingenuously in the efficacy of tariffs to solve our difficulties is that they want it every way.
150 The hon. Member for South Islington (Mr. T. Howard) not only wants tariffs to promote home industries, but he wants them as a bargaining power. With the Argentine, I submit, we have a case, not to put tariffs upon Argentine products, but to use our marketing power with the Argentine to obtain in the Argentine larger markets for British exports, but you cannot argue that the purpose of these tariffs is to increase the production of British wheat and meat and, at the same time, to allow the Argentine to send meat here on condition that we send our exports there. We sent a royal ambassador to the Argentine a little time ago for the purpose of pushing British products there. The Argentine is a country of great possibilities which provides a market for British exports second to none, and it has this peculiar advantage, that the Argentine is a producer of primary products and a consumer of manufactured goods. This country has one great asset left in its competition with the rest of the world. It has an asset, not so much in our grass lands, not so much in our pasture or in our agrarian areas, but in the artisan skill of practically 3,000,000 unemployed men. We have a larger body of trained artisans than any other nation of the game size.
Our future success and prosperity depend fundamentally upon finding for those skilled artisans markets for the products of their hands, and the market cannot be found exclusively inside Great Britain. It must be found by sending manufactured goods to countries in exchange for primary products from those countries, [HON. MEMBERS: "Come over here!"] That is a proposition to which every Socialist, Liberal and Conservative subscribes, because we know that only by Great Britain occupying an important place in the world's division of labour can we hope to maintain our standard of life. It is the contention of Conservative Members that a market for our manufactured goods can be found exclusively inside the agrarian areas of the British Empire. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If that is not the contention, then there is no meaning in Imperial Preference.
Now that hon. Members are coming nearer to the realities of Imperial Preference, they are realising that the 16,000,000 people in Australia and New Zealand, no 151 matter how high their purchasing power may be, cannot provide adequate markets for our manufactured goods. The 400,000,000 people in India are expected to provide a market for our products by producing cheap textile goods. Everybody who looks at this problem seriously knows that the political circumstances of India will prevent the sinking there in a secure manner of large volumes of capital for a long time to come. In fact, one of the problems of capitalism in the 20th century is that, though China, India and Russia are the three great areas for the markets of the surplus of the industrialised areas, it is not possible to go to Russia because she is doing the job itself, and it is not possible to go to India and China because of political disturbances. That is one of the primary causes of the aggravation of our industrial crisis. If those areas could be suitably opened up for our products, the fate of capitalism could be postponed for another decade. It is because of the difficulties in those countries that we cannot export there and we are driven to find a market for our manufactured goods among the white population of the British Empire, which is entirely adequate for the purpose. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not exclusively."] I say, not exclusively. [HON. MEMBERS: "You did not say that before!"] Pardon me, I said that the nearer the Imperialists came to this issue the more inadequate the Empire market proved to be. The interjections of hon. Members are a vindication of my position. They start off by being Imperialists, but they end up by being "bargainists." I can imagine no more unwieldy instrument for bargaining than a Tariff Advisory Committee, which necessarily cannot have regard to these questions of high public policy, but must have regard only to the parochial considerations of Great Britain. If we are to admit that Scandinavia, the Argentine and places like that must necessarily be woven into the economic fabric of this country, it cannot be done in the way which hon. and right hon. Members are suggesting.
If that is the proposition, then in heaven's name let the Government put before us and the nation a coherent and integrated plan to that end. As it is we are having nothing but a hotch-potch, a mess up. Why? Because it is apparent 152 to any student of politics that a National Government constituted as this is can never produce such a plan. The Conservatives may have a plan. If so, let the Conservatives put their plan forward. At the moment they cannot do so. They are ham-strung on the Front Bench. The damage that Liberal Members are now doing to the country is not merely by giving the public countenance of Radical thought to reactionary principles, but by preventing the Conservative party from putting its own indigenous plan before the country. That is assuming, as very few people have a right to assume, that they have any plan at all. And if it be true that the Conservatives have no plan, what right have the Liberals to shield that mental bankruptcy? Either they are preventing the Tories from bringing forward a plan essentially Imperialist and Conservative in character or they are hiding the mental bankruptcy of the Conservatives and perpetuating their hold upon the public esteem. Therefore, it is not enough for the Liberals merely to go into the Lobby, it is not enough for the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) to come here and tell us that inside the National Government he is preventing them from becoming brutally reactionary.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Inter-party relations may be highly appropriate to a Second Reading speech, but they are not in order on this Amendment.
§ Mr. BEVAN
My principal difficulty in making a speech is in following the example of some of my illustrious colleagues. Only back benchers are prevented from discussing inter-party questions. Front benchers always have liberty to do so. What I want to point out is that on this issue we are having speeches from the Liberal benches condemning the policy of the Government which they support, and I suggest to the right hon. Member for Darwen that the sands are running out and that he will soon have to choose upon which side of the fence he is going to be.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The future of the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) may be a topic for another occasion. What we are now discussing is whether wheat and meat shall be left in the Free List.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Is it not in order for the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) to argue, when we are discussing wheat and meat, that the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) in this matter is calculated to show how the Government are acting and should not the Committee be told the policy of the Government? Surely hon. Members are entitled to arraign the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen so far as he is preventing the House and the country—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
That argument is more appropriate to a Second Reading Debate, but we are now limited to the Amendment.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen has said that he does not support the taxation of food, and that it is not being done in a proper way. This policy of shifting the responsibility on. to the Advisory Committee is a bad one, and is not the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale entitled to criticise a Cabinet Minister who, in fact, keeps the policy back, and prevents us from properly debating the food taxes? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen is using his power in the Cabinet to keep us hanging in the air midway between the two policies.
§ Mr. BEVAN
We are asking what is the policy of the Government, and what are they going to do? I would like to know if it is not in order for a bewildered back bencher to inquire what really is the policy of the Government? Up to the present we have been successful in ascertaining the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen, and we have been told what is the policy of the President of the Board of Trade, who gave a promise to his constituency that he would not support the taxation of wheat and meat. I suggest with great sincerity that we must try to keep politics on a decent plane. What right have the Tories to make use of the President of the Board of Trade as a decoy duck? One of the guarantees that the country was to be protected against duties upon wheat and meat was that we 154 were to have this honourable, scrupulous paragon of public virtue, the President of the Board of Trade, as a Member of the Government. Another guarantee was that we were to have the doctrinnaire, the stringent Home Secretary as another Member of the Government. The third guarantee was that we were to have an impeccable Free Trader, Lord Snowden, as a Member of the Government. Those were the assurances that people were given at the General Election, and it was because those right hon. Gentlemen went before the electorate and gave those assurances that so many Conservatives are sitting in this House to-day with working class votes. The promise given to the electors by the President of the Board of Trade that he would not tax meat or wheat was not worth the wind he wasted upon it.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen still has some shreds of public virtue left, and I want to know, is he going to allow them to be completely destroyed before he makes a break with the Government? I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen, and to all the Radical-minded Members of the Government, that the sands are running out. It is high time that they decided on which side of the fence they are going to stand, because before very long they will have nothing to stand upon. The Conservatives will have taken everything away. It is true that they are on a fighting retreat, but upon what line are they going to retire? Where are the fortifications? One by one every Radical principle is being sacrificed. I suggest that if they have any hopes at all of seeing far-sighted Radically-minded men, with a 20th century appreciation of 20th century problems, ever coming together and saving this country from the kind of pur-blined myoptic Imperialism we are now being treated to, they will have to come out pretty soon or the country will wash its hands of them completely.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
In the course of the torrentially eloquent speech to which we have just listened I heard twice the accusation that the Government had no "coherent and integrated" policy. I think I do no injustice to the adjectives. Where was the coherent and integrated relevance of that speech? Dextrous, certainly, but, as I do not wish to 155 misjudge the importance of it, I would like to ask my hon. Friend this question, because he did not make it plain: Is he in favour of tariffs or is he opposed to them?
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
The hon. Gentleman has asked me a question. I would submit to the Committee that it is not the policy of the Opposition that is under discussion.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
I agree, but the hon. Gentleman was objecting to our policy. [Interruption.] I want to know to what aspects of that policy he objects? [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman was listened to with great patience, and he is entitled to have his case made plain. As he does not answer the question whether or not he is in favour of tariffs, will he tell me whether or not he is in favour of Preference. Or is it perhaps to the Orders-in-Council that he takes exception? Can he really not give a satisfactory answer to any of these questions? No. The Committee may have forgotten the epoch-making fact that our policy is very largely modelled on the ideas of my hon. Friend. He wrote a book, a very able and lucid book in which he never used two adjectives where one would do. His book was called "A National Policy"—a National policy for a National Government in a National emergency. What we had to do according to this book—and it had to be done at once—was to legislate by Orders-in-Council. Three Wise Men were to do it. [Interruption].
My hon. Friend said that we must legislate by Order-in-Council, that we must tax imports, including meat, and that we must give preferences to the Dominions. I understand why my hon. Friend included in his speech to-night so many adjectives. The dictionary might be searched for appropriate adjectives to describe an hon. Gentleman who asked of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade where is his political probity, when he, having put forward this identical policy, ventures to come down to the House and, for political ends, to attack it—[Interruption]—and to attack it in a national emergency. My hon. Friend said that there may be a case for the taxation of meat and wheat, but we have not heard it. That case has been presented by my hon. Friend. But when 156 the Government desire to present a case, if the occasion should arise for the taxation of wheat and meat, they will come here to this Box and advance their arguments. That is not the case that is being advanced from this side to-night, and it is not fair, it is not an illustration of political probity, to paint for the electorate the picture that has been painted tonight, that we are going to add additional imposts to their household budgets by the passage of this Clause.
This Clause is not, as it has been represented to be by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and particularly by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, a betrayal. If we had not introduced this Clause it would have been a betrayal. On the Second Reading of the Import Duties Bill—and no exception was taken to the statement at the time—the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that he was going to move this Clause. He tried to move, during the Committee stage of the Import Duties Bill, a Clause empowering the Advisory Committee to recommend subtractions from the Free List, but it was ruled out of order by the Chair. My right hon. Friend then said, "I will move that Clause on the Finance Bill," and nobody raised one murmur of objection at the time. [HON. MEMBERS: "They could not do it."] The hon. Gentleman opposite went into the Lobby with us after the statement was made. It was because my light hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer promised that the Advisory Committee would have this power that he was enabled to concede many Amendments moved from several quarters of the House. He said, "You are urging me to add to the Free List. I have not had time to examine all these items; the Advisory Committee has not had time to examine them; but I will accept them and put them in the Free List temporarily if the House will agree that the Committee shall have power to subtract them after a case has been made out." Therefore I say that, far from this Clause being a betrayal, it would be a distinct breach of faith if the Government were not to come down to the House of Commons to-night and move it.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
Hon. Gentlemen opposite have made this belated discovery about the cost of living—
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
The hon. Gentleman who so persistently interrupts me, from a side of the House which claims that this is going to increase the cost of living, was this afternoon himself quoting the Macmillan Committee.
§ Mr. McENTEE
On a point of Order. I did not say any such tiling and I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the statement.
§ Mr. McENTEE rose—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
If the Minister refuses to give way, the hon. Member has no business to stand up.
§ 11.0 p.m.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
I want to answer the hon. Member that he is not in a position to deny the words I attribute to him because I have not yet attributed them.
§ Mr. McENTEE
I made an interjection on the question of betrayal. I asked, "Of whom?" and the hon. Gentleman said, "Of this House." My reply was that I was speaking of the electors. On that he spoke about something I said to-day, which had nothing to do with my interjection, and attributed a dishonourable motive to me.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
The hon. Member is a point behind in the argument. I said that, far from this Clause being a betrayal, the absence of it would have been a betrayal, because the House of Commons was promised by the Government that the Clause would be introduced. I then passed to the subject of the cost of living and remarked that hon. Members opposite, and notably the hon. Member who so persuasively moved the Amendment, complained that this would add to the cost of living. I was then about to ask hon. Members opposite if they were in favour of raising the price level or not, because certainly the cost of living has never been lower since the War than it is 158 to-day. What producers are concerned with is not so much the cost of living as the chance of living. Hon. Members cannot have it both ways. They cannot, in Second Reading Debates, speak in favour of raising the price level, as many of them have done, and when a chance is given to producers—and it is not given under this Clause—of producing goods at a reasonable price, attack the Government for raising the cost of living.
This proposal is not in the least degree concerned with a tax on either meat or wheat. It is the fulfilment of an undertaking. When Ottawa comes—in which the hon. Member who spoke last is so interested—it will be for the Government to make its proposals. Neither there nor here will anything be done behind the backs of the House of Commons. Which way does the hon. Member want it? He complained at one moment that the supporters of the Government were docile sheep. At the next, he complained that they were a clamorous horde. Which way does he want it? I will tell him which way he will have it. This House of Commons, having been elected by the nation to get it through its difficulties, will support any measure introduced by a Government that is determined to solve our problems.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
The hon. Gentleman has resorted to the common trick of challenging the policy of the Opposition when unable to explain his own. He has shown conclusively that my hon. Friend is fully justified. The hon. Gentleman did not seem to realise that the Amendment deals with the question of the taxation of wheat and meat. He seemed to think he was addressing the Committee on the Question, "That the Clause stand part." May I remind him that the question under discussion at the. moment is not whether he or the Chancellor of the Exchequer are fulfilling some duty to the Committee in bringing forward Clause 6, but whether the operation of the Clause should be so limited as to exclude two specific substances—wheat and meat. It is not a question as to whether there should excluded all the other list of substances which were forced upon the Government during the discussion of the Imports Duties Bill by the clamouring hordes of that time who now may have become passive sheep. It often happens that once the sheep dog gets into good 159 form he turns what appears to be a clamorous herd into a perfectly quiet and docile flock. On this occasion docility has come perhaps with satisfaction.
But the hon. Gentleman must bear in mind that the question we are discussing now is a question which has a great deal of relevance as far as Ottawa is concerned. As we understand it the object of the Tariff Commission is to remove from the political arena the question of the fixation of tariffs upon the subject matters which come within the purview of the Commission. The hon. Gentleman shakes his head now and agrees with me, so that we are agreed that the object of giving the Commissioners the power to remove these articles—wheat and meat —from the Free List is in order that they may decide outside any political question as to whether taxes should be put upon wheat or meat. How is that going to react upon the policy—if there is one—of the Government? When the Government go to Ottawa they will be wholly unable to say to the Dominions or the Colonies as to what is the decision in regard to wheat and meat. They must not, as the hon. Gentleman knows quite well, bring any pressure of any sort, kind or description to bear upon the Commissioners. Once they have given the Commissioners this power, they will have put it outside their own power completely if they act honestly and in accordance with what they themselves say is a proper principle. They put it completely outside their power to promise the Dominions a tariff on wheat or meat.
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that? Is that the policy? Is the Lord President of the Council satisfied that he desires the Government to be put in that position? Is he going to advertise tonight to the Dominions that henceforth we have removed completely from the ambit of discussion at Ottawa any question of taxation of wheat or meat? He has to decide one thing or the other. Either he has to admit to the Committee now that the Government will, if necessary, put pressure upon the Commissioners to decide to tax wheat or meat, or take wheat or meat out of the Free List if they think that it is right in accordance with political decision, or else he has to say, "We are going to leave 160 it entirely to the non-political body, to the Commissioners, and we, the politicians, will take no part in the decision, So that we give you, the Dominions, notice as from to-night that this matter has been removed from the political arena, and you cannot hope for us to discuss it at Ottawa. You may rely upon Sir George May and his friends considering it as purely an economic matter in this country, and they will come to a decision."
This is the position into which the Government are putting themselves tonight unless they accept the Amendment. I feel convinced from the speech from the Government Front Bench that they have not the slightest realisation of what they are doing. It is only too obvious that they have no plan. They have not even realised what the Clause which they are asking us to pass is doing. Much less have they thought of the consequences which it is likely to bring as regards the Ottawa Conference. I hope the Dominions will realise when this Clause is passed, if it is passed without this Amendment, that the Government are definitely taking away the possibility of any political arrangement as regards the taxation of wheat and meat. If that is what the Government want, they will go forward and do it, quite apart from any question of the promises given to the country, or the understanding of the poor, deluded Cabinet Ministers who now sit at the latter end of the Front Bench in order that they may be less seen when they blush at the terrible betrayal which is now being brought upon them by this Clause. [Interruption.] One hon. Member is so depressed that he says "Oh!" I assure him that on the passing of the Import Duties Act the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland believed as most of us believed, that wheat and meat had been safely put into a Schedule from whence they would never be removed except by the order of this House. I am satisfied that all the Liberals in the National Government, all the real Liberals in the National Government believed that. [Interruption.] I am sorry if I offended the hon. and gallant Member by including him in that category. I beg the Government seriously to consider this question as to whether they wish at this stage prematurely to bring to an end the possi- 161 bility of discussion at Ottawa, by giving Sir George May the control of this matter, or whether they intend to retain it in the political field, which they can only do by accepting the Amendment.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
I should not have intervened had it not been for the remarkable "Alice through the Looking Glass" speech of the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps). Wheat and meat are in a Schedule of free imports into this country. This Clause of the Finance Bill proposes to make it possible for the Advisory Committee to take those two articles out of that Free List, if they so choose. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) put a sort of conundrum to the Lord President of the Council, which I can well imagine he would not think of replying to, because it was too obvious to need any reply. He said that it would cause embarrassment to the Government representatives at Ottawa if this Clause in the Finance Bill had been operated upon and these two articles had been removed from the Free List by the committee. Can anyone suggest that it would not be an enormous advantage to the negotiations at Ottawa if there was a duty of 10 or any other per cent. placed on meat imported from foreign countries, and that it would not be of assistance to their negotiations to be able to say that half that duty would be removed in favour of Dominion meat. The hon. and learned Member is looking at it through the looking-glass upside down, wrong way about. Far from taking control from the Government, let him remember that this is only a question of a recommendation made to the Government.
It is for the Government to decide whether or not they accept the recommendation. Supposing the recommendation to have been made at the identical moment when they were negotiating with the Dominions at Ottawa, they would decide whether they wanted to accept the recommendation or not; but, so far as their negotiations went, it would be of enormous assistance to them to know that in the opinion of these three impartial, non-political gentlemen, it was in the general interest of the country that there should be some duty upon wheat and meat imported from foreign countries.
I have been spending the Whitsuntide vacation in a part of the country where 162 meat is absolutely vital, and where the farmers consider that the agricultural policy of the Government has done practically nothing to help them. Store cattle which were bought for feeding through the spring are now worth less than when they were bought, and they do not know when the market is going to finish dropping. The Parliamentary Secretary was quite correct when he said that hon. Members opposite cannot have it both ways. Either they are in favour of a price which will enable farmers to pay honest wages to agricultural labourers or they are not. They must decide upon which leg they are going to stand. It is no good saying one thing one day and another thing the next. By this Amendment they are proposing to say that certain articles are so sacred that whatever other powers may be put into the hands of this Committee these two particular articles must be kept outside. What the hon. and learned Member for Bristol, East (Sir S. Cripps) says in effect, is that there is a Free List and in that Free List are two articles which mainly concern the produce of the Dominions, but that we cannot do anything about them. This Clause is vital to the negotiations at Ottawa and it must foe left with no exception. This is not an Amendment in the interests of the working classes, and it is directly contrary to the national interests in the present financial crisis. The electorate voted for a free hand for the Government. This Clause gives them a free hand. The Amendment proposes to restrict that free hand in a matter which is vital to the negotiations on Empire policy.
§ Mr. McENTEE
The hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) contends that a tariff on wheat and meat will mean better prices for British farmers and that therefore agricultural labourers will be able to get a decent wage. May I point out to him that in those agricultural districts where a good price is obtained and where farmers are making considerable profits at the present time good wages are not paid. It was necessary for this House to set up wages boards to compel farmers in these districts to pay a reasonable wage to agricultural labourers. An attempt is being made by the Clause to take from this House the power to say whether a tax shall or shall not be imposed on the people, particularly on the food of the people.
163 In regard to meat, there are probably millions of people in this country who, if they are prevented from buying cheap meat imported from the Argentine and other places, will not be able to purchase any meat at all. The hon. Baronet has talked about the agricultural area that he represents and other similar areas. A great number of agricultural workers in those constituences scarcely ever get any meat at all to eat. Certainly they are rarely able to buy any English meat. I have travelled amongst them and know them intimately and personally. The hon. Baronet and his friends can enjoy the best meat that his constituency can produce, and they talk as if a, difference in price was of no importance to anyone except the farmer. But the price is of considerable importance to the agricultural labourers in his constituency, and of equal importance to the ordinary casual labourers in my constituency and in others. We know that the imposition of a tax will increase the price of meat, and for that reason we oppose it, as we have opposed taxes on tea and sugar.
An attempt is being made, and deliberately made, by the Government and its supporters to reduce the purchasing power of wages, and so, indirectly, to reduce wages. The right hon. Gentleman who replied for the Government adopted a policy commonly adopted by third-class lawyers—when he had no case he abused the other side. But he made no reply at all to the definite questions that were put to him as to the Government's policy. It was no reply for him to ask, "What is your policy? What do you suggest?" It is not an Opposition's duty to suggest policy to the Government, and if any suggestion were made the Government would not be very willing to accept it. The right hon. Gentleman made one of his clever speeches which told the House nothing. Every Member here ought to desire the privileges and rights of the House of Commons to be maintained. Here is a definite attempt to take away the right of' Parliament to determine what taxes shall and shall not be imposed on the people and hand over that right to a body of gentlemen who are, we are told, very clever and non-political. I like the suggestion that they are non-political. Everyone knows their policy and their 164 politics. It was because of their politics that they were appointed. Does anyone suggest that a member of the Socialist party would have been appointed to that committee? Would the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) suggest that anyone known to be a Free Trader would have been appointed to that committee? Of course, their policy and their prejudices are known to hon. Members on the Front Bench opposite. Their bias in the direction of tariffs is known. It is known that they will carry out the policy desired by the Conservative section of the Government.
§ Mr. HANNON
On a point of Order. Is the hon. Member entitled to make this unwarranted attack upon a body which is removed from the Floor of this House?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I must point out that the salaries of this body are borne upon the Estimates laid before this House and not on the Consolidated Fund, consequently they are not immune from criticism.
§ Mr. McENTEE
This is the second time to-night that the hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon) has thought it necessary to interrupt me on a point of Order, which turns out to be not a point of Order at all. [Interruption.] I was sent here to express my opinions. The Chairman has given me permission to do so, and I am going to do so. I am not going to allow any Member other than the Chairman to determine how long I shall speak, or what I shall say. [Interruption.] Hon. Members behind me who interrupt ought to know better than to show such bad manners. As I was saying, this is a direct tax on poor people. Meat and wheat are used mainly by poor people, but English meat is not used mainly by poor people, because they cannot afford it. They purchase the type of meat which their wages enable them to purchase, when they can purchase any at all. In the case of many of them it is not very often that they can afford to purchase meat at all. This Committee has the right to say that no Government ought to take away from Parliament the privilege of determining taxation and to hand over that privilege to any body, however impartial it may be said to be. I deny their impartiality. Had they been known to belong to certain political parties, they would never have been appointed to that position. They are partial people and people with a bias, and 165 they will use that bias in the interests of the purpose for which they have been appointed. The Government will know their recommendations beforehand and those recommendations will be accepted because they have been known beforehand. Therefore I enter the strongest possible protest against allowing these people to undertake duties which ought to be undertaken only by Parliament. I am
§ glad of the opportunity of going into the Lobby against this pernicious system of doling out the power to legislate to people outside who are known to have a bias in favour of the Conservative point of view.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 59; Noes, 282.167
|Division No. 192.]||AYES.||[11.31 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Harris, Sir Percy||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Hirst, George Henry||Maxton, James|
|Batey, Joseph||Holdsworth, Herbert||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Janner, Barnett||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Jenkins, Sir William||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Buchanan, George||Johnstons, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Price, Gabriel|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jonas, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Daggar, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Edwards, Charles||Leonard, William||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Logan, David Gilbert||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Lunn, William||White, Henry Graham|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Mabane, William||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||McEntee, Valentine L.||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||McKeag, William||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley(Middlesbro, W).||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Williams, Thomas (York., Don Valley)|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Maclenn, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Corn'll N.)|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Mr. Groves and Mr. Tinker.|
|Hamilton, Sir R.W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Albery, Irving James||Chalmers, John Rutherford||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Fox, Sir Gifford|
|Balley, Eric Alfred George||Clarry, Reginald George||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Fuller, Captain A. G.|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Balniel, Lord||Colman, N. C. D.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Colville, John||Glimour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Conant, R. J. E.||Glossop, C. W. H.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Cook, Thomas A.||God, Sir Park|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Cooke, Douglas||Goldie, Noel B.|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Cooper, A. Duff||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)||Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Cranborne, Viscount||Graves, Marjorie|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Craven-Ellis, William||Greene, William P. C.|
|Borodale, Viscount||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Grimston, R. V.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Davidson. Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Guy, J. C. Morrison|
|Bracken, Brendan||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Hales, Harold K.|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Dickie, John P.||Hanley, Dennis A.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Dixey, Arthur C. N.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Donner, P. W.||Harbord, Arthur|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Doran, Edward||Hartland, George A.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks., Newb'y)||Dower, Captain A. V. G.||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)|
|Burghley, Lord||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Burnett, John George||Duggan, Hubert John||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.|
|Caine, G. R. Hall-||Dunglass, Lord||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromisy)||Eastwood, John Francis||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)||Ednam, Viscount||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Campbell-Johnston. Malcolm||Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Hope, Capt. Arthur O. J. (Aston)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)|
|Carver, Major William H.||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Castle Stewart, Earl||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Hornby, Frank|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Savory, Samuel Servington|
|Howard, Tom Forrest||Moreing, Adrian C.||Scone, Lord|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Selley, Harry R.|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Morrison, William Shepherd||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romford)||Moss, Captain H. J.||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Muirhead, Major A. J.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Munro, Patrick||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Nail-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Unv., Belfast)|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Slater, John|
|Jamieson, Douglas||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Jennings, Roland||North, Captain Edward T.||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Jesson, Major Thomas E.||O'Connor, Terence James||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Palmer, Francis Noel||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Kerr, Hamilton W.||Patrick, Colin M.||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)|
|Kirkpatrick, William M.||Pearson, William G.||Stanley Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Peat, Charles U.||Stevenson, James|
|Knebworth, Viscount||Penny, Sir George||Stones, James|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Percy, Lord Eustace||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.)||Petherick, M.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Leckie, J. A.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bliston)||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Levy, Thomas||Picktord, Hon. Mary Ada||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Lewis, Oswald||Potter, John||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|Liddall, Walter S.||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Templeton, William P.|
|Lindsay, Noel Ker||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Llewellin, Major John J.||Pybus, Percy John||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Ratcliffe, Arthur||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G.(Partick)||Ray, Sir William||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham-||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Renwick, Major Gustav A.||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Robinson, John Roland||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Magnay, Thomat||Ropner, Colonel L.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Rosbotham, S. T.||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Marsden, Commander Arthur||Ross, Ronald D.||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Mason, Col Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Runge, Norah Cecil||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Milne, Charles||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Womersley, Waller James|
|Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Mitcheson, G. G.||Salmon, Major Isldore||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Molson, A. Hugh Eisdale||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Commander Southby and Mr.|
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again," put, and agreed to.— [Captain Margesson.]
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.168
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ It being after half-past Eleven of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the. House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ Adjourned at Eighteen Minutes before Twelve o'Clock.