§ "That the Additional Import Duties (No. 6) Order, 1932, dated the first day of September, nineteen hundred and thirty-two, made by the Treasury under the Import Duties Act, 1932, a copy of which was presented to this House on the eighteenth day of October, nineteen hundred and thirty-two, be approved."
§ "That the Additional Import Duties (No. 7) Order, 1932, dated the eighteenth day of October, nineteen hundred and thirty-two, made by the Treasury under the Import Duties Act, 1932, a copy of which was presented to this House on the eighteenth day of October, nineteen hundred and thirty-two, be approved."
§ "That the Additional Import Duties (No. 8) Order, 1392, dated the twenty-first day of October, nineteen hundred and thirty-two, made by the Treasury under the Import Duties Act, 1932, a copy of which was presented to this House on the twenty-first day of October, nineteen hundred and thirty-two, be approved."—[Mr. Chamberlain.]
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I am entirely in the hands of the House, but it seems to me that it would be for the convenience of 652 the House if we took the first three Orders and discussed them together, then the next two Orders together, and finally the last Order. Of course, the House will be at liberty to divide on any Order.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
So far as the Opposition are concerned, we welcome that suggestion, and are willing to take the first three Orders together. No doubt two votes will be called for, but the general discussion could take place at once, and I think it would be for the convenience of the House.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Dr. Burgin)
I beg to move,That the Additional Import Duties (No. 4) Order, 1932, dated the twenty-fifth day of July, nineteen hundred and thirty-two, made by the Treasury under the Import Duties Act, 1932, a copy of which was presented to this House on the eighteenth day of October, nineteen hundred and thirty-two, be approved.The House is now being invited to consider a series of Orders under the Import Duties Act, and in accordance with the suggestion that has just been made and agreed to, it will be convenient if the first three Orders are taken together. The first two of these three Orders relate to horticultural products. The third Order is a mere revocation of duties under the Horticultural Products (Emergency Customs Duties) Act of 1931, and I think will not require any discussion. In the view of the Minister it was necessary to clear the field, as at the 1st of September, of any duties that were then in force under the other Act. Order No. 4 and Order No. 5, which are the two that call for our consideration, deal, first, with potatoes, and then with horticultural products generally. There was no desire to deal separately with potatoes, but it was found that imports of potatoes, particularly in the month of July, were so extensive and abnormal that the British growers' position was affected. His supplies were available and were sufficient to meet requirements, but he found his market being entirely cut from him by abnormal importations. Therefore an Order was made earlier in date than would otherwise have been the case, applicable to potatoes.
Order No. 5 is, I imagine, the one on which general discussion will take place. 653 It deals with horticultural products generally. I need not remind the House of the structure of the Import Duties Act of 1932 and the machinery under which the Import Duties Advisory Committee make recommendations upon which the Treasury make Orders, subject to those Orders being submitted to this House for confirmation under Section 19 of the Act. The House will find in the White Papers the recommendations of the Import Duties Advisory Committee in each case, setting out the matters that have been called to their attention, the inquiries which they have made, the recommendations which they have received and the grounds for making the decisions to which they have come. The Orders are in common form and follow substantially the recommendations.
With regard to Order No. 4 the House will see that potatoes are dealt with by duties which are set out. It will be convenient perhaps to sketch shortly what has occurred with potatoes. Under the Horticultural Products Act new potatoes were subject to a duty of 2d. per lb. from 5th January to the end of February, 1d. per lb. in March and ½d. per lb. in April, and for the rest of the year they were subject to the general ad valorem duty. Main crop potatoes were liable to, that later duty as from 1st March. Under this new Order No. 4, which has been in operation since July, and therefore for over three months, main crop potatoes are liable to a duty of £1 per ton all the year round, and new potatoes will be chargeable with a duty of ½d. per lb. from 1st November to the end of June, and with a duty of £1 per ton for the rest of the year. It might be thought that that duty on early potatoes terminated too early to afford adequate protection during the period of bulk marketing, but it must be remembered that from June onwards early potatoes are a staple foodstuff and a duty of £1 per ton, in the view of the Government, ought to go a long way towards checking the flood of low-priced imports which bring chaos and ruin to the industry in this country. While growers here can produce sufficient early potatoes for the rest of the season, there is an automatic safeguard against a rise in price.
As regards main crop potatoes the imports are small, except when home prices are high or the home crop is short, 654 and it is thought that a duty of ½1 per ton will restrict, when prices are low, the small imports which exercise an effect on prices wholly out of proportion to their volume, while, when prices are high, the duty is not high enough to affect imports seriously. So far, therefore, as potatoes are concerned, a comprehensive review of the position has been made by the Advisory Committee and the Order applies to new potatoes in the way I have indicated and to main crop potatoes also.
The comprehensive Order No. 5 dealing with horticultural products contains considerable differences from the duties imposed under the earlier Act. The duties under that Act on luxury produce were operative for the whole year but in the case of seasonal fruits the ditties terminated about the time when the borne crop came on the market in bulk and the object of the Act was to prevent a foreign grower who had climatic advantages from obtaining the cream of the early market. Now the object of Order No. 5 is more extensive. Its object is to afford protection to the home grower at the time when his crops are being marketed and therefore in most cases it will be found, if a comparison is made of the duties, that the duration of the duties has been lengthened, and, broadly speaking, a uniform duty has been imposed for the whole period. The higher duties under the earlier Act during certain periods have been discontinued, because a higher duty at a particular time of year was found to have no very great stimulative effect on production here and because, with regard to horticultural products, a certain amount of import actually does positive good. Public taste has to be stimulated by the fact being brought to public notice that the season for particular articles has arrived, and therefore a slight anticipation of the season in a modest degree is a positive help to the home market.
The operation of the Act of 1931 was limited to one year and the Advisory Committee in their Report dealing with Order No. 5 expressly state that it is not their intention to make any alteration in this scheme of protection before the autumn of 1934 but they add the customary warning that they will not hesitate to recommend the removal of any duty if, owing 655 to lack of organisation, the prospect of a commodity being produced here in substantial quantities and at reasonable prices falls short of what may be expected. That is a regular warning which the Import Duties Advisory Committee put in their recommendations as a direct notification to the parties interested, that these duties which are intended to help, which are intended to give some protection to the industry, are also intended to mean that local growers must see to their own methods of marketing being satisfactory to distributor and consumer and that these advantages are only given conditional upon proper attention being paid to those points. The Import Duties Advisory Committee say that if instances are brought to their notice in which these points are not being properly observed, they retain the power to recommend the withdrawal of duties.
It may be convenient to tell the House some of the consequences which have resulted from the duties under the Horticultural Products Act. They have yielded £750,000 in revenue. They have reduced the import of practically every article which has been made chargeable with an additional duty, and those reductions have been especially marked in the cases of flowers, cucumbers, hot-house grapes, strawberries, cherries, and asparagus. The grower in this country has, in almost every case, been able to obtain higher prices for his own produce. There has been undoubtedly a stimulus to local production and to the preparatory steps for the growing of horticultural produce. The House will recollect the encouraging figures given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture in his recent speech. There has been great activity in glasshouse construction. The grubbing up of small fruit trees has ceased. There has been an increase in the area under production of the vegetable crops on which a duty has been imposed.
The signs, therefore, of the effect of these duties are all directly encouraging and the duties under the two Orders now before the House are estimated to be of great value to this industry. A more prosperous industry means increased production, and increased production means increased employment and decreased imports, and, with increased production and 656 improved methods of producing and marketing, the consumer may be able to obtain most of his requirements at home at prices within the reach of everybody. We shall then have done something to stop what is an anomaly to all who are familiar with the market garden areas of the Continent—the anomaly that we, with our climatic advantages and our immense consumption of these wholesome and valuable products, should have allowed so much of our market to have been presented to foreign nations when we might so well have covered the ground ourselves.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Every time I listen to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade and several of his colleagues, including the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, my appreciation for the law and its learning becomes greater. It has been said that a really good lawyer never quite minds whether he is defending or prosecuting and that he can make out an equally good case for either side. The hon. Gentleman has made some magnificent Free Trade speeches in this House, and his arguments more often than not have been very conclusive. This morning, however, I observed that he could read a Protectionist brief as well as the Chancellor of the Exchequer or any of his satellites. He certainly has given the impression that his heart was in his speech, although I should have preferred to hear him making that speech from a back Bench, without the assistance always forthcoming from the Department. In any case, although the clarity and the skill with which the hon. Gentleman addressed the House were as usual, I do not think the conclusions reached were quite so good.
He dealt first with potatoes, and he told us that a halfpenny per lb. would be imposed for eight months in the year on new potatoes. That does not seem very much, but if such a duty were put upon coal, £4 13s. 4d. per ton, the consumer would think it a very great burden, and tens of thousands, perhaps millions, of people would shiver throughout the winter because of that very small duty. For the main crop, the duty is only £1 per ton. I am not at all sure, the Government having ventured upon a tariff career, that we can complain bitterly about that, except that potatoes form a staple part of the workers' diet and that 657 every penny exacted, directly or indirectly, will ultimately express itself in industrial disputes, industrial guerilla warfare. Hon. Members opposite had better understand that every time they increase the cost of living to the great mass of the people, who are living now on the border line, not to mention the 3,000,000 who are attempting to exist on unemployment benefit, discontent will result.
It is generally known, and the Orange Book issued by the right hon. Gentleman's Department, with its expert officers, definitely states that if there is one consumable commodity which could be controlled it is potatoes. They are produced in certain specified areas in this country, and they form a very important part of the produce and commercial side of many of the farmers in those areas, but it is the one commodity, except in abnormal periods, that we neither import nor export in any quantity whatsoever. Only when there is an abnormal shortage here, which, curiously enough, Nature seems to level out by giving a large surplus abroad, is there any huge import of potatoes at all. Consequently, imported potatoes make very little difference, on the whole, to the home producer of this commodity, and I suggest to the hon. Gentleman and to the Tariff Advisory Committee, through him, that so long as they insist upon conceding to the producer of this or that commodity just what they demand, without insisting upon organisation as a precedent to any duty, we shall never get any real organisation in the agricultural industry.
We shall certainly oppose this duty, not because of any lack of desire to see the farmer prosperous, not because we do not feel that the farmer is entitled to a reasonable price for anything that he produces, the same as any other industrialist, but because in 1932 that industry, that workshop, without any sort of 1932 organisation, cannot hope to prosper in this present-day competitive world. Agriculturists must do as other people have to do. They must organise, they must anticipate requirements and potential demands; they must have a machine to deal with their surplus when Nature gives a crop in abundance. If they will do that, and satisfy the nation, the townsmen as well as the countrymen, that they have utilised what organisation is possible, but 658 that they are still not doing fairly comparably with other people, perhaps the Opposition will be willing to consider duties or some other measures that would affect them in the right direction.
With regard to the fifth Order, I want, first of all, to refer to page 3 of the White Paper, where the Tariff Committee makes this statement:We think, therefore, that the duties to be imposed when the present emergency duties terminate should have as their primary object the adequate protection of the home grower when his crops are ready for the market, whilst at other times regard could properly be given to considerations of revenue.Will the hon. Gentleman point to any section, sub-section or paragraph of the Customs Duties Act which gives the Tariff Committee power to supersede the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Here apparently their consideration goes beyond the imposition of a protective duty, and they definitely suggest a duty for revenue purposes. The Opposition never believed that the Tariff Committee was set up to occupy the illustrious position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and if we are to have three Chancellors of the Exchequer imposing or recommending the imposition of duties, it will be most difficult for Members of this House to keep pace with all the avenues that will lead to the elimination of their very small incomes. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will tell us at the conclusion of the Debate, which probably will not be too long delayed, just what part of the Customs Duties Act concedes the power to the Tariff Committee to recommend duties exclusively for the purpose of revenue.
I observe that the direct and indirect taxation in the first 12 months of the Government's tenure of office has taken a very sudden turn. Whereas in 1931 indirect taxation amounted to 34 per cent. and direct taxation to 66 per cent., for 1932–33 the estimate is: indirect taxation, 39 per cent.; direct taxation 61 per cent. The burden persistently seems to be falling upon those least able to bear it, and while that may be acceptable as coming from the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his normal budgetary period, we hesitate to accept any recommendation or decision of the Tariff Committee devoted exclusively to that purpose.
659 12.30 p.m.
I wish to deal briefly with several of the items referred to in Order No. 5. The hon. Gentleman told us of the magnificent results of that Order. We have already received £750,000 in revenue. That is good from the Chancellor's point of view, but from the consumers' and from the national points of view, it might not be quite as good as the hon. Gentleman would have us believe. A duty was imposed, and is now recommended, on tomatoes, obviously for the purpose of helping the home producer. I have some figures here for June, July, and other months. The home-grown tomato in 1931, first quality, was 8s. 2d. per 12 lbs. The imported tomatoes for the same month from the Canary Islands were, for first quality, 4s. 11d. Will the hon. Gentleman tell us what value this duty will be to the English grower with such a margin between the prices of the home-grown and the imported? The imported tomatoes from Holland in the same month were 6s. for first quality. Will the hon. Gentleman tell us what advantage this duty of 2d. will be to the English grower? The only result can be that the revenue will benefit at the expense of the consumer, and, as the poorest of the poor buy the cheapest, it is an imposition, notwithstanding what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mile End (Dr. O'Donovan) said the other evening, on the poorest people. It is not calculated, either, to help the home growers as the hon. Gentleman would have use believe. In July, when the duty was still 2d., the price for first quality home-grown tomatoes was 6s. 4d. per dozen lbs. The only imported tomatoes for that month came from Holland, and the price was 4s. There is a margin of 2s. 4d. per dozen lbs.
What benefit can that be to the home producer Judging from what has already taken place, we have discovered an upward tendency in the price of both imported and home-grown, and yet the margin between imported and homegrown remains in 1932 exactly what it was in 1931 prior to the imposition of the duties. The home-grown prices from June to August, for first quality, in 1931 were 8s. 2d., 6s. 4d. and 5s. In 1932 they were 9s. 8d., 7s. 7d. and 5s. 8d. That indicates clearly that the home consumer not only pays the duty upon the imported 660 tomatoes, but an addition which is taken by the retailer for collecting the bigger price. That is certainly not very helpful to the consumer, and I do not see how, with this margin between the imported price and the home-produced price it will directly assist the producer of tomatoes in this country. We are therefore obliged to oppose the duty on tomatoes.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
No, but I have the price for the Channel Islands which can be given in comparison with the home-produced. For first quality in May and June, 1932, the home-grown prices were 16s. 3d. and 9s. 8d., and for the Channel Islands 14s. 6d. and 8s. 10d. As there is no duty on Channel Islands tomatoes, I do not see the point of raising that question.
On cherries a duty of 3d. per lb. is recommended in this Order. Let us look at the price for cherries for three periods in order to see whether there is any justification for the duty. The average price in 1913 was 46s. per cwt.; in 1931, 44s. 9d.; and in 1932, 73s. 9d. That is approximately an increase in 1932 over 1913 and 1931 of 30 per cent. Surely there is no justification for a further duty of 3d. Agriculturists in the House are constantly telling us that they are selling beef at a price below the 1914 price. Here the price of a certain fruit is 30 per cent. in excess of the price of 1913, and yet the Government are imposing a duty of no less than 3d. a lb.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
In the reply given by the Minister of Agriculture giving the average of wholesale prices for homegrown cherries, he took the period May to August in 1913, 1931 to 1932. That duty of 3d. per lb. on cherries, a commodity where the producer is receiving 30 per cent. over pre-War prices, seems wholly unjustified. On gooseberries only one-halfpenny per lb. is recommended, 661 but in the light of the prices this year, I want to ask the hon. Gentleman whether, as an old Free Trade Liberal, he can stand at that Box and justify this duty of £4 13s. 4d. per ton. I have turned gooseberries into tons as the hon. Gentleman turned potatoes into lbs. The price in 1913 was 15s. 6d. per cwt., and in 1932, 32s. 3d.—a 100 per cent. increase. Yet the hon. Gentleman suggests that it is good business to impose a further duty on gooseberries. I should like to hear him give us a lecture on the benefits of Free Trade, and, becoming Mr. Hyde instantaneously, give us another lecture on the value of Protection. I think that he would do both equally well.
With regard to plums, the recommendation is for only 1d. a lb. Look at the price of plums as given by the right hon. Gentleman in reply to a question, and see whether there is justification for this increase. The price of egg plums in 1913 was 10s. 3d. per cwt. In 1932 it was 26s. 3d.—an increase of 156 per cent. above the pre-War price. Yet the hon. Gentleman suggests that it is good business to impose a further duty of 1d. a lb. on plums. If that argument can be sustained, there is nothing further to be said. I do not think that even the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) could bring foward any argument against any protective duty which the Government suggested if the hon. Gentleman can sustain his argument to justify a further duty upon plums with such prices staring us in the face.
On strawberries, a duty of 3d. per lb. is recommended. I have tried my best to appreciate the point of view of the hon. Gentleman and those fruit producers who invite the Tariff Committee to make this recommendation. Strawberries are here for only a, short period, and I am sure that every hon. Member likes to enjoy half a lb. on occasion. At least, I have seen a number of hon. Members on the Terrace enjoying a few. We are not really concerned about early strawberries, which are a pure luxury at 2s. 6d. a lb. We are, however, concerned about the main crop, which for a short time and in small quantities, sometimes provide a luxurious Sunday afternoon's tea for the working classes. The average price of strawberries in 1913 was 4d. per lb. The price this year was 7¾d., or nearly 100 per cent. increase over pre-War. Still, 662 the hon. Gentlemen recommends a further duty of 3d. per lb. If the price of strawberries had fallen like the price of meat, that is had made a perpendicular dive such as was referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the other day, one could understand such a recommendation; but only on four occasions between 1920 and 1932 has the price of strawberries fallen below 100 per cent. in excess of the pre-War price, and the price has been as high as 250 per cent., 156 per cent. and 131 per cent. above pre-War price, and even this year it was 94 per cent. above. The hon. Member is recommending 3d. per lb. duty on strawberries. He has his majority, and I suppose he will get his duty.
§ Earl WINTERTON
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to ask him a question, because my constituents are interested in this subject. From what is he taking those figures, and would he corn-pare the prices with the price of some other commodities, such as coal, for instance?
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I am quite willing to make a comparison in the case of any commodity the Noble Lord cares to bring forward.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Coal, if you like. The price of coal represents, I think, somewhere round about 17 to 20 per cent. over pre-War prices. [Interruption.] It has actually been below that point. I am speaking from memory. I am not referring to the price paid by the consumer. I am referring to the price received by the producers at the pithead, which is very often a very different thing.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I am sorry to ask the hon. Member one more question. I am much obliged to him for the courteous way he has replied. Is he referring to the retail prices of the fruit, or the prices received by the grower?
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The right hon. Gentleman who replied to the Parliamentary question which I asked could perhaps answer that question better than I can. If I read the question and the reply, the Noble Lord will be able to make the best of it he can. I want him to have the facts at his disposal. In my question I asked the Minister of Agricul- 663 ture to state the average price of strawberries for each year since 1920 and the average price in 1913, showing for each year the percentage increase or decrease compared with 1913. I am presuming that the right hon. Gentleman gave the reply as produced by his officials but whether they are wholesale or retail prices only the right hon. Gentleman can say. From my angle, however, it makes no difference to the argument. The, price here, whether it be wholesale or retail, is an average of well over 100 per cent. over pre-War prices, and yet there is a recommendation for a further duty of 3d. per lb.
§ Sir ERNEST SHEPPERSON
Is the hon. Member aware that in the districts where these strawberries are grown there has been an increase of from 110 per cent. to 120 per. cent. in the labour costs of picking and cleaning the strawberries?
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I am not sure about the wages in agricultural areas being 100 or 110 per cent. over pre-War. If that is the case, then pre-War wages must have been verging upon slavery wages, because there are eight counties where the agricultural labourers' wage is less than 28s. per week. If that is 110 per cent. in excess of pre-War wages, am I to understand they were paid only 14s. pre-War?
§ Sir E. SHEPPERSON
In the Wisbech area, where a large proportion of the strawberries is grown, labour is paid considerably over 30s.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I have some little knowledge of the change that has taken place in wages, and I am prepared to appreciate that point, and I am making full allowance for it. I wish everybody would make as full allowance for changed conditions when thinking of miners' wages. I would be very happy to be equally generous to every other producer or worker in the country. I hope I am making due allowance for that point. The average rise over the prewar price is 100 per cent., and on top of that the hon. Gentleman recommends a further 75 per cent. duty—since the prewar price was 4d.
664 I must also make an observation on the question of currants, since the Noble Lord who owns and controls one of the newspapers in this country makes a big point about currants whenever he delivers a speech. I refer, of course, to Lord Beaverbrook. I heard him make a speech in North Norfolk about currants imported either whole or as juice from Russia, and I was amazed at the way he carried away that audience by the statements he made there. What is the position with regard to currants? If the fruit is really necessary, and we must grow it, then the grower is entitled to a reasonable price —we say that all the time—but there is a difference between a reasonable price and an outrageous one. The price of blackcurrants in 1930, according to the right hon. Gentleman, was 4d. a lb., and in 1923 7½d. a lb., an increase of round about 90 per cent. On blackcurrants a duty of 2d. per lb. is recommended, which is calculated to bring the price up to round about 9d., being 125 per cent. increase over the pre-war price of 4d. Can the hon. Gentleman justify this duty of 2d. in the face of those figures? It seems to me to be impossible.
A duty on raspberries is also recommended, and on redcurrants. The noble Lady who represents one of the Scottish divisions is not present, or I should have liked to say something to her about raspberries. The hon. Gentleman recommends a duty of 2d. per lb. on imported raspberries. The price of raspberries in 1930 was 5d. per lb., and in 1932 7d. per lb. The duty of 2d. is equivalent to an increase of approximately 40 per cent. I have a cutting from a Scottish paper—the Minister of Agriculture will perhaps know something about this—referring to raspberries, real raspberries. Last week a public inquiry was held into a proposal that the marketing of raspberries in the Blairgowrie district should be conducted as a joint cooperative venture under the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931. Presumably the right hon. Gentleman's marketing officers would be present. These sensational figures were forthcoming at that inquiry. A crop of raspberries for jams and canning has a sale price of £33 per ton, and the output of the crop would make, apparently, £200,000. Under the present system it is assumed that it costs £12,000 to sell that £200,000 worth of raspberries, whereas the Marketing Board's estimate 665 is that the same raspberries could be sold at an expenditure of £2,000, which includes £1,000 per annum for a distribution manager. There the right hon. Gentleman's Department suggests that a saving of £10,000 could be effected. There are only 453 growers who grow in quantity, and that makes all the difference between sheer poverty and being able to carry on. They could get about £22 or £23 per ton by the mere process of instituting a marketing scheme as recommended by the Marketing Board.
The only other item I wish to deal with is that of flowers. You are imposing a duty upon imported flowers. The hon. Gentleman thinks that the duty has done very well indeed. Here is an example which could be multiplied ten thousand times—a producer sent along 128 bunches of flowers to a bazaar in. Scotland. He stood there and watched the auctioneer auction them for 2s. 4d. It had cost 2s. 2d. to get them there. Therefore, he received 2d. for his trouble, and for fertilisers, rent, labour, and so on. That was not the end of the story. The producer pursued those 128 bunches to the retailer's shop and, three hours from the time that his flowers were sold for 2s. 4d., he saw them in the shop at 5d. per bunch or £2 13s. 4d. for the lot. The producer got 2d. and the retailer received £2 13s. 4d. If we make adequate allowance for meeting all the charges of the shop, I think there is not an hon. Member but would say that it is an outrage—[Interruption]—perpetrated both upon the producer and the consumer.
While it may be necessary to do certain things to assist horticulturists and agriculturists, we are, I suggest, starting at the wrong end. We ought to insist upon the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1931, not only being accepted sympathetically by the farmers, but being utilised to the maximum extent. If we can remove a good deal of what Lord Linlithgow, when he presided over the Commission in 1923, referred to as "the £300,000,000 margin" between the producers and the consumers, horticulturists and agriculturists would not be nearly so depressed as they are. We are convinced that, while the Government will get their Orders and will impose these duties, they will inflict punishment upon miners, with their wretched wages, and upon the rest of the people, before receiving any de- 666 finite guarantee that agriculturists will try to help themselves. We say that it is unfair, but if we must pay the price, because of the smallness of our numbers and the determination of the Government to do the wrong thing first, I hope that we may expect that the Government, having penalised the consumers, will insist that the maximum organisation possible will be introduced into this industry. We shall most certainly oppose these Orders in the Division Lobby.
§ Mr. REMER
I am sure that the House will agree with the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) that, if anything can be done to decrease the margin as between the amount the producer receives for his agricultural produce and what is paid in the retailer's shop, it is desirable that it should be done. It will be proved as a result of these duties that it has been possible to retain a large amount of the profit which has been made in the retail shops. It was not for the purpose of discussing the whole of these Orders that I rose. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman who introduced the Orders today on the way in which he has explained them to the House, and also for the protectionist tone of the speeches which he has made.
I have risen to refer to the date at which the higher duty on potatoes lapses. Last Saturday, the Members of Parliament for the County of Cheshire met the representatives of the National Farmers' Union. Among many stories that were told of the difficulties of the farming community, great stress was laid by them upon the expiration of this duty on 30th June. The case which the representatives of the National Farmers' Union put forward was that, whereas in the South of England 30th June may be a satisfactory date, in the North of England, where potatoes mature at a later date, great hardship was caused. They made an appeal to us to press the Minister by every means to alter that date to the 31st July in the interests of the producers of potatoes in the northern counties. If the date were altered, the alteration would be of great value to those producers, and would be of considerable help to them in the difficult times through which they are passing. The one object I had in rising was to press the point upon the Minister. I hope that he will give it consideration.
§ Captain ARCHIBALD RAMSAY
May I take this opportunity to say as few words as I can on this subject of the dates. What has just been said by the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Remer), as applying to northern England, applies much more forcibly to Scotland, and not only does it apply to potatoes but it applies to many other products mentioned in these Orders. I have already raised the question twice in this House. I have asked the right hon. Gentleman who was Minister of Agriculture, on those two occasions, and I have also asked the right hon. Gentleman who was Secretary of State for Scotland to take steps to modify these duties, in order that Scotland and the North of England may not be penalised as against the South of England. I am sorry that more of my Scottish friends are not here to-day, so that they might bear out what I say. We have made repeated attempts on the Floor of the House, and in other places, to induce these two Gentlemen to agree to modify the dates. The actual request that we made was that at least a fortnight or three weeks' postponement should be granted.
I agreed with every word the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade said in introducing these Orders, as regards the conditions in the countryside among nursery gardeners and all growers of fruit and tomatoes. I know many such cases. But in Scotland there is complication which we said was bound to arise, that before the Scottish grower had a chance of selling a reasonable proportion of his produce, the maturity date had arrived and foreign imports came in. I had a conversation with one of the leading officials of the Scottish Farmers' Union last night. He did not know my name or that I had already spoken on this point. I was introduced to him, and he attacked me on the subject at, once. He said: "Do you Scottish Members realise that you have allowed these maturity dates to be arranged in such a way that the Scottish farmers have been unable to sell their produce? Do you also realise that one of the reasons for the present glut of potatoes is that many Scottish farmers thought that these horticultural duties would enable them to sell their new potato crops, whereas, in point of fact, 668 the maturity date arrives and the new potatoes were left in the ground, instead of being sold as new potatoes and that that is doing much also to increase the present glut of potatoes?" Therefore, while warmly endorsing all that the hon. Gentleman has said, I would ask him to consult with his colleagues and see if something cannot be done in this direction.
§ Mr. ROSBOTHAM
I rise for the purpose of strongly supporting the recommendations of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles (Captain A. Ramsay), who has spoken on behalf of the claims of Scotland and the North of England, including Lancashire. We know that in Scotland there are some very important areas where splendid early potatoes are grown, and I would put in a strong plea for the extension of the date until the 31st July in the case of early potatoes. As regards main-crop potatoes, we know that we can produce as many of these as are needed for consumption in this country, and to get over the difficulty in that case total prohibition would be necessary. At any rate, a, duty of £1 per ton is entirely inadequate to meet the present state of affairs, and I would reommend either total prohibition or an increase of the duty.
All of this legislation has proved to be of great advantage to the country. We know that there is a large amount of unemployment, and the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) seems to forget the interests of the agricultural labourer. If this legislation is encouraged, there will be more agricultural workers on the land. The result will be to bring men from the industrial centres, and that should be the object of all Members of Parliament. We hear a good deal about tomatoes, in which the hon. Member for Don Valley is keenly interested, but I would like to remind him that there is a good deal of difference in the quality of tomatoes. The English tomato and the Channel Islands tomato are of far greater value than any foreign tomato. The foreign tomato is dear at the price; the English tomato is cheap.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
That has always been our point—that people only buy the very cheapest tomatoes because they cannot afford to buy the better quality, and 669 the mere process of putting a duty upon the very cheap tomato does not help the home grower at all, but merely penalises the poor.
§ Mr. ROSBOTHAM
I do not agree with that view. The object of these Orders and of the Government's legislation is to produce at home more English tomatoes of better quality, so that the poorer classes may have the advantage of that better quality. If the course advocated by the hon. Member is pursued, there will never be sufficient English tomatoes to supply the working class. There is also the question of labour. I mentioned the other day that I knew of a man who had bought 33 acres of land, and found six persons employed upon it, men, women and boys, getting only the agricultural rate of wages. Now there are 46 people engaged upon it, largely occupied in growing tomatoes according to all the latest scientific methods, including sterilisation of the soil and everything else that can be done to get the best results; and these are skilled men getting more than the agricultural rate of wages. We want to encourage legislation that will produce results of that kind.
We also hear a good deal about cherries, but the hon. Member for Don Valley has forgotten to put before the House the fact that the season of 1932 has been unfavourable for cherries, plums and strawberries, and he has referred only to years which have been favourable. As regards black currants, there was a glut last year, but, with the introduction of canning factories, the glut has now been dealt with. The canning industry is increasing; we have now 84 establishments, where previously there were only six. That is the object of this legislation—to produce fruit and vegetables in the disposal of which the canning factories can assist. The importance of the strawberry industry in providing increased labour has been mentioned. Hundreds of acres are being laid down to strawberries for the purposes of the canning factories alone, and we know that the English strawberry far excels in quality any foreign strawberries, and is worth far more.
With regard to raspberries, we know that this industry is a very important one in Scotland, employing a great deal of labour. In the Dining Room the other 670 day I saw a beautiful sample of Scotch raspberries which had just been picked and were of lovely quality. Is it not our duty, as Members of the House of Commons, to encourage the growing of these fruits at home, and thereby employ labour? Why, also, should not our homegrown fruit be given good names? I understand that there is a variety of raspberry called "Lloyd George," which is of very fine quality, and, surely, any fruit bearing that name would be sweet and beneficial. I admit that there is something in the argument of the hon. Member for Don Valley that we must devote ourselves to the organisation of our own markets at, home for various products, and I trust that those who are engaged in the growing of potatoes and similar produce will devote themselves to putting into operation the Agricultural Marketing Act, so that there may be an increased price for the producer and a lower price for the consumer.
§ Sir PERCY HARRIS
I only intervene for a few minutes, because in view of the large number of Orders—eight in all—with which we have to deal, some of us feel that we should be better employed in concentrating our energies on the bigger problem of iron and steel, which is dealt with in one of the later Orders. It must not, however, be thought that our objection, or, at any rate, mine, to these Orders has changed. We had long days of discussion last summer on these or similar Orders when they were originally introduced, and we scrutinised the details of the various proposals, but, under our new system of an Advisory Committee and tariffs, it clearly would be impossible to examine the hundred and one articles that are brought before the House in these various Orders. None the less, I am satisfied that our prediction as to the ill effects of these duties on the supply of these commodities at cheap prices has been justified. At any rate, in the poorer districts, like the East End of London, scarcity was the order of the day last summer.
I realise that there was a failure of the crop, but there was a scarcity of strawberries and cherries in the home market, whereas with free imports some of that scarcity might have been made up, and these delectable fruits might have been brought within the reach of the poorer classes of the community. In the street 671 markets, where most of our people buy their commodities, I talked in May, June, and July to the street traders, and they had a very different tale to tell from those hon. Members who represent producers. They pointed out that their stalls were bare and that trade was bad because prices were quite beyond the pocket of the ordinary working man at a time like this, when employment is scarce and many people are in receipt of insurance benefit. The policy of free imports, with all its faults and difficulties, has the great advantage that when there is a glut the consumer gets an advantage, and the poorer members of the community are able to enjoy a much more varied diet than would otherwise be the case. As regards tomatoes, anyone with plenty of money in his pocket would obviously prefer to buy English tomatoes of good quality, but you cannot afford to do so if you have no money. If you are down on your uppers, if you are on the dole, if you are on short commons, the cheap inferior imported tomato has to fill the bill.
We have got to accept the policy of the Government. It is no use voting against it; we can only protest. What strikes my admiration is the extraordinary diligence of the three commissioners who attempt to deal in detail one after another with strawberries, asparagus, fabric gloves, scissors, wrapping paper, and rose bushes, and who lay down their rules as if they were experts in everything. I am inclined to think that these duties are not the result of the overpowering wisdom of the three commissioners. They are the result of the energy, the push and the good organisation in putting their case of the various interests concerned. I cannot help thinking that if the various agricultural interests were as diligent in organising their industry in the direction of marketing, they would get better prices for their commodities than any Protectionist system would give them, and that the profits of their trade would go to them instead of to the retailers and the various wholesale distributors. I quite agree with the hon. Member who said that if we concentrated our energies on marketing, the consumer would gain and the producer would gain. Under this system the producer may gain a little, but the consumer loses every time.
§ Mr. LEVY
I can claim to have some knowledge of this subject. I was associated for many years with one of the largest importers of fruit and vegetables in this country, and I say without any hesitation that if you want the fruit and vegetable industry to survive in this country, you have definitely got to protect it, and you have got to protect it in a comprehensive and not any halfhearted manner. The right hon. Gentleman referred to potatoes. May I say at once that there were very few days during the whole of the year that we were not called upon to sell imported potatoes. They are not seasonal in the true sense of the word, as we understand it. In the first 10 months of this year no less than £6,000,000 worth of potatoes was imported into this country. If hon. Members opposite—and I say it with all respect and humility—have the interests of the unemployed and the workers as much at heart as they profess to have, and we on this side also profess to have, you certainly have got to protect the producers, and you have got to endeavour to find work for the unemployed agricultural labourers.
I hear continually speeches made from the point of view of the consumer. There will be no producers unless the production is protected. The hon. Gentleman who last spoke said that if you are down and out, and have not any money, it is desirable to buy inferior goods. If you have no money at all, you cannot buy any goods, and unless you protect the work of the workpeople, which is the industry of the producers, you will have very little money for the unemployed to spend. It is in the interests of the agriculture of the country as a whole that the fruit and vegetable industry should be comprehensively protected for not only short periods, but even for longer periods, because when those periods elapse, then the fruit that has been pulped abroad during this particular period is then dumped into this country, and you find the jam and canning merchants who take the bulk of the goods will hold up their purchases if it suits their pockets until these dates have elapsed and then purchase the fruit and vegetables which then can come in without any tariff whatsoever. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should bear this in mind, and it may be that on some future occasion he may think fit to 673 reconsider and alter the dates in this particular Order.
I rise to oppose these Orders. We can now speak with considerable experience, and if there is anything which has convinced me that our opposition to these proposals has been Mstified in the past, it is the applause of agriculturists in this House of the statement made by my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) when he illustrated the wholesale prices of flowers as against the retail prices in the shops. It is a mistaken idea for Members on the other side of the House to suggest that we on this side are not anxious to see British agriculture and horticulture in a more prosperous condition, but we say seriously that the experience of the duties has proved conclusively that the way the Government are attempting to remedy this matter is the wrong one. You impose duties on a large amount of fruit and vegetables which cannot be provided in our own country. The hon. Gentleman has just mentioned that potatoes to the value of millions of pounds were imported in the past year. I think he will agree that that importation of potatoes was very largely the result of a shortage in our own country. The market could not be supplied with home-grown potatoes. Now the result of the soft fruit duties has not only created a great hardship on the poor people, but it has robbed them entirely of fruit as part of their daily diet.
I think if the hon. Gentleman will make inquiries, he will find that that is true, and I would ask the Minister of Agriculture himself whether that is not correct. Coming to soft fruit and vegetables in this list, we in the Northern parts of the country in the past year were robbed entirely of a large number of fruits named in this list. We could not get any cherries, strawberries or blackcurrants at all. Many of us interested in institutions could not even get them for institutional purposes. The manufacturers of preserves and jams complain because there was a shortage of fruit. We gay—and I think the applause 674 from the other side of the House totally proves it—that the re-organisation of the fruit industry must first start in a proper marketing understanding, and an advantage needs to be taken of the marketing boards that could be set up if the Government felt so inclined. We have not the slightest objection if the Government take that course, but we say that you are imposing hardships on the poorest in the country while giving no guarantee that the producer will fare any better than he is doing now, when there is such a disparity between wholesale and retail prices.
If you are going to give protection to the fruit grower, the consumer is entitled to protection, and, if it is true—and it is not denied—that the illustration of the hon. Member for Don Valley can be multiplied by thousands, why cannot the Government see the wisdom of installing marketing boards so that the consumer can get fruit at a reasonable price, which will go into the pocket of the producers rather than of the middlemen? This is the wrong way. You are not only imposing a duty on poor people, but you are robbing them of the possibility of fruit being part of their diet at all. We cannot see that this is likely to benefit the industry unless the Government are prepared to accept the policy that we propagated for weeks during the discussion of these duties, and, when the Government are prepared to do that, they will find that we shall be ready and willing to fall into line so long as the consumer gets the protection to which he is entitled.
§ Sir SAMUEL CHAPMAN
The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) marvelled at the amount of work that the Advisory Committee get through and he wondered how they did it. I will tell him. They listen, they think, and they act—three things that might be taken to heart by many Members who sit on the bench from which I am speaking at this moment. The hon. Member who has just spoken repeats what was said 12 months ago and seems to have learned nothing. In the ancient city of Aberdeen we have a motto which might also be taken into account by Members of the House. "They say. What say they? Let them say!" That is a condition that many of us have got into when Members from those benches rise. They repeat the old stuff which is as dead as Methu- 675 selah and we have heard it so often that we have got quite sick of it. The hon. Member is wrong in his statement about the shortage of potatoes. We have had no shortage at all. I have that information within the last five minutes from one who is as intimately acquainted with the industry as Mr. Deputy-Speaker is with the rules of the House.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
May I ask whether, excluding the present season grown potatoes, there was not a definite known shortage in the output for 1931. If the hon. Gentleman searches back in his mind, he will recall that the present Home Secretary definitely admitted that there was a clear shortage in the 1931 crop.
§ Sir S. CHAPMAN
From season to season there are shortages for various reasons. Potato growers have had no heart to put down potatoes, but as soon as they had confidence that the Government were going to let them have fair play in the markets of the world they began to plant, and they will plant more in future if they get fair play.
I got up for one purpose only, to say a word about potatoes to the new Minister of Agriculture, whom we all welcome, particularly in Scotland, with the greatest possible acclamation. The question of potatoes is a difficult one, but I think he will find that the plan that I am going to suggest will possibly be better than having the potato question before the Advisory Committee. We ought to have a special advisory committee for potatoes alone on the same lines as the advisory committee with regard to dyestuffs. That Committee was set up 10 years ago and consisted of three producers, three consumers and a neutral chairman. They laid down quite plainly that, so long as there is a supply of dyestuffs large enough for the consumers, so long as the price is all right, we say to the foreigner: "We are much obliged to you for all the kindness you have displayed in sending dyestuffs to this country in the past, but for the moment we can supply our own dyestuffs at a reasonable price in great quantities and so we do not want to do any business with you." So long as potato growers can grow potatoes at £4 10s. or £5 a ton, and so long as a stone of potatoes can be sold re- 676 tail at 10d. or a shilling, we shall politely say to our friends overseas: "We are much obliged to you, but we are growing all the potatoes we want for the moment, and we shall control your potatoes." If there is any shortage about which the hon. Member worries so much, we shall say: "Come on, put them in. We will consume them for you and pay you for them. In the meantime, we are going to preserve,"—protect if you like—"our own market and our own potato growers, and we are going to supply enough potatoes at a reasonable price for our own population."
§ 1.30 p.m.
§ Sir E. SHEPPERSON
The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) said that he is going to oppose this Order, but his opposition was rather half-hearted. I hope we may be able to remove his opposition and make him eventually support the Order. I know he has a very great interest in the restoration to the land of the labour which should be employed upon it, and he must know that that land which is under intensive cultivation employs the greatest amount of labour on the land. He should, therefore, support any measure put forward which would help to increase the cultivation of fruit and vegetables. I hope he will reconsider his position. He referred to the rise in price of plums, strawberries, and so on. I would remind him, as I did in the interruption which I made, that the whole rise in prices since 1913 might be said to have gone into the pockets of the labourers employed in that particular industry. We do not object to that. We recognise that the wages paid in the early nineties were far too low, and we are only too pleased if the agricultural industry can be made such as to enable us to pay a decent wage to the agricultural workers.
The hon. Member for Don Valley has another interest, that of the consumer, and I ask him to consider whether the imposition of the duty of £1 a ton, and the duty upon early potatoes, are not in the interests of the British consumer? Statements have been made that last year there was a shortage of potatoes in this country. It is true, and the result of the shortage led to artificially high prices. The duty was put on, and what has been the result 4 Confidence has been given to the growers of potatoes, and the acre- 677 age of potatoes this year is up by 12½ per cent., and that fact, coupled with an increase of something like one ton per acre, has caused a surplus of potatoes in this country and low prices. If a duty can establish confidence among the vegetable growers of the country so that at all times there shall be such an acreage grown that there will always be a sufficiency for the consumers, then the consumers will not be burdened with the high prices that they were paying for potatoes last year, but will always have the knowledge that every year they will have a decent average price to pay. That is what we desire for this industry. I submit to the hon. Member for Don Valley that the duty will protect the consumers from having, in times of shortage, to pay such high prices.
I agree again with what the hon. Member for Don Valley has said with regard to the necessity for agriculturists making some effort at marketing arrangements. Low prices of potatoes in this country are due, not to the foreign supply so much as to our home supply, and it should be possible for the potato growers of the country to make such arrangements under the Agricultural Marketing Act that any surplus can be removed from the market and so allow the remaining potatoes to fetch an even price. I agree with the criticism of the hon. Member on the back benches opposite that British agriculture and the producers of agricultural products are suffering to-day to a very large extent by reason of the difference between the amount the producer receives and the price which the consumer has to pay, and in my opinion, if that difference was not so great the consumers would be able to obtain their articles cheaper and there would be an increase of consumption to the benefit of the agricultural producer. I wish to say, on behalf of the agricultural industry and the fruit and vegetable growers, how very much we appreciate what is being done under the present measures. Our only criticism is that some of the figures are not enough, and that the time, particularly in regard to new potatoes, does not extend sufficiently late in the year. That is our only criticism and we desire to express our thanks to the National Government for the action which they have taken.
§ Mr, ATTLEE
The hon. Member for Leominster (Sir E. Shepperson) has given a very good answer to the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir S. Chapman), and I recommend the hon. Member to take a dose of his own medicine. The hon. Member for Leominster has pointed out what we have said so often, that a tariff or protection is no use whatever unless you have a proper organisation of the industry concerned. That was the burden of the work undertaken in the last Parliament under the Agricultural Marketing Act. Our complaint is that we are not getting on, we are not getting proper organisation for marketing, or protection for the consumer and the producer. The hon. Member for South Edinburgh and his friends appear only to look at one side. They talk about protecting the producer from abroad, but they do not talk about protecting the consumer at home by common organisation. We on this side of the House welcome very much the speech of the hon. Member for Leominster on this subject, but we are still waiting—and we hope that we are going to get it from the Minister of Agriculture—for real organisation and efficiency, so that we may not have either ridiculously high prices and a shortage or ridiculously low prices and ruin, but proper and ordered production. We have always taken the view that what is wanted is an ordered, fair price, one which is fair to the producer and to the consumer, but you are not likely to get that under unregulated private enterprise.
§ Mr. ATKINSON
I wish to support the plea of my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Remer), that the question of extending the period during which the higher duties charged on potatoes for one month should be seriously considered. As he pointed out, potatoes in the north come on to the market later, and the growers feel very strongly that the Minister and the Committee have been guided by the advice of people trading in the south, and that the interests of the people in the north have been overlooked. I wish to make the same plea with regard to tomatoes. There is a very large production of tomatoes in my constituency, but they do not come on to the market until August, and, when they are ready, the growers find that the duty has been re- 679 duced to a penny. Throughout the whole of this year I have met with constant complaint about the matter, and I have been strongly urged to bring the matter, as I have done, before the Minister of Agriculture. I hope that it will be considered, because every reason which exists for the duty of 2d. in June in the south exists as strongly in the north in August when the tomatoes come on to the market.
There is one other matter with reference to price. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) gave interesting figures about prices. They must have been wholesale prices. On this point, I would like to give a little personal experience. In the first week of September, I was in Suffolk and saw a shop with a great many tomatoes for sale. They were being sold at 6d. a lb., and I asked the shopkeeper to be good enough to look up the prices at which his tomatoes were selling the year before. He did so and said that the price this year was ld. less than in 1931. I asked him where he got his tomatoes from in 1931 and where he was getting them from this year. He said that in 1931 he bought practically only imported tomatoes. The proportion was 25 to 2, and he said that this year it was the other way round. He also said that he bought practically nothing but English tomatoes and that he had only bought about two crates of foreign tomatoes. You have there a practical illustration of a diversion of trade, and yet the consumer was getting tomatoes at 1d. a lb. less.
§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Major Elliot)
I think that it will only be courteous to the House if I reply briefly to the Debate—though I know that there are several other Orders in which hon. Members take a great interest —the more particularly after the very courteous and, as always, fully informed speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams). The criticism of the Orders has turned into three groups. (1) That they are non-effective, (2) that they are too effective, (3) that there are difficulties of administration which ought to be got over. To take the last point first, it is particularly stressed in regard to the dates of the Potato Order. Obviously that will have 680 to receive our close attention. The difficulty with which we are faced is the difficulty that crops come on earlier in the south than in the north. That is one of the difficulties which has had to be dealt with in regard to imported potatoes in the month of June. We must remember, however, that this is only the first year. We have not had anything like 12 months experience of the working of these Orders and we shall certainly require to watch them and modify them from time to time. They will require review and examination by the Import Duties Advisory Committee from time to time because in all these things if one goes on the lines of first principle one will certainly be wrong. It is an experimental thing and we intend to continue, to extend and to confirm the results of experiment.
To turn to the main point, that these Orders are too drastic and effective, the hon. Member for Don Valley has quoted figures which were interesting to me particularly as I have watched him building up a case in the questions which he has addressed to the Ministry of Agriculture over a period of weeks. When I was examining his questions and the answers that he was to receive it was very clear that he was building up the figures for a rise in prices between a period this year and a period last year. I wondered whether he realised the great fallacy which would invalidate the figures when they were brought on to the floor of the House. He is comparing prices of produce from abroad, and particularly from Holland, last year when we were on the Gold Standard, with prices this year when we are off the Gold Standard. Of course, a rise in prices in goods from Gold Standard countries would inevitably take place after that change had been made. The difficulty of comparison is very considerable because the prices are not like with like. In all these cases you need to examine very carefully what the effect has been of the drop in the value of the £ as compared with the Gold Standard currencies and the value of the £ a year ago when it was on a parity. Let us look at the figures which the hon. Member quoted and compare them with others. Take the price of British tomatoes. In September, 1931, the wholesale price for first quality was 4s. 7d. for 12 lbs. In September, 1932, the price was 4s. 9d. There is no 681 sign there of the 100 per cent. rise or the other enormous rises in price to which the hon. Member drew our attention. Second quality tomatoes fetched 3s. 6d. per 12 lbs. in September, 1931, and only 3s. 7d. in September, 1932. I do not think that anyone would say that an enormous and unreasonable rise has occurred between those two periods.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to recall that I never suggested a rise of 100 per cent. in the price of tomatoes. I gave the price for June and I think for July. Having quoted now the September prices for first and second quality tomatoes will the right hon. Gentleman quote the first and second quality prices for June and July in 1931 and 1932?
§ Major ELLIOT
Certainly. In June, 1931, the price of first quality tomatoes was 8s. 2d. for 12 lbs. and in June, 1932, 9s. 8d. The price for second quality was 6s. 9d. in June, 1931, and 8s. 3d. in June, 1932. It surely is obvious to every hon. Member what is happening. It seems that by the shutting out of the lower qualities from abroad, for the benefit of home production that home production has increased and the proportionately higher price of the earlier months has given place to the proportionately lower price of the later. It may even be said by hon. Members that the danger will be not that the home producer will raise his price, but that he will produce in such excessive quantities that he will cause a glut and break his own market. Hon. Members in that respect are pursuing two lines of argument which it will be difficult for them to reconcile. Why not, they say, deal with this problem under the Marketing Act? The hon. Member for Don Valley who gives so much attention to these matters must agree that under the Marketing Act the producer occupies a position of great advantage compared with any other section whose interests will be reviewed under that Act. The object and intention of the Marketing Act is to make it more possible for the producer to obtain a better price. That is the fundamental intention of the Marketing Act.
§ Major ELLIOT
Not merely by organisation. The hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) cannot get away with it in 682 that way. He and his hon. Friends opposite voted for another Quota Act which was passed to enable the producer to get a better price and that was not merely by organisation. The Coal Quota Act was to increase the price of the output from the coal mines.
The hon. Member for Don Valley gave figures for other prices particularly fruits, which did show a sharp rise this year as against the year before. The year before was admittedly a year of exceptional glut in these products and that the whole of those gluts should be thrown uncontrolled on the British market as argued by the hon. Member for Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) is an argument which we totally deny. We say that continual sales of bankrupt stocks are not of advantage either to the buyer or the seller and are a disadvantage to the people of this country. The figures which the hon. Member for the Don Valley gave in regard to cherries and strawberries and so on are I think invalidated by that fact, namely that those were exceptional glut years, when a glut of foreign produce was thrown upon the market, making it totally unremunerative for the home producer to gather his crop, let alone sell it. We were bombarded in that year with deputations who said that the price of the home produce had fallen to such lengths that it did not pay to collect it. Obviously that is not a state of things which any hon. Member would like to see perpetuated.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
The right hon. Gentleman will remember that I made my comparisons not as between 1931 and 1932 but the prices in 1913 and 1932.
§ Major ELLIOT
I was desiring to be even more fair to my hon. Friend than he is to himself. I do not think that, the 1913 prices as against those in 1932 are comparable at all. I am sure the hon. Member does not desire to see the agricultural labourer go back to the wage which he was paid in 1913. None of us desire to see that. The argument based on glut prices in an exceptional year is one which we wish to exclude from the economic history of this country. We do, however, admit the argument about administration. The only other point which the hon. Member brought forward was a comparison between the Dutch prices and our own prices claiming that 683 the difference between our prices and the Dutch was so great that therefore these duties cannot be effective. That seems to me to be an argument which is refuted by the facts.
The reduction in tomatoes imported from Holland from June to September, 1932, compared with the corresponding four months of 1931 is no less than 38 per cent., so that these Duties have been efficient. The imports from Spain in the same period dropped from 4,000 tons to 121 tons, so that it is perfectly clear that the object for which the Duties were imposed is actually being realised. As to their causing hardship, we are still, in the year 1932, buying £424,000 worth per annum of imported cut flowers, which seems to indicate that the people who spend money on these things are still able to find the money to buy foreign-cut flowers even with the duties placed upon them.
The final argument was that the retailer is getting too large an advantage. I do not wish to embark on a heresy hunt against the retailer. There are good and bad retailers, but I say that
§ there has not been that exact examination into the wide spread between wholesale and retail prices which would be necessary before attacks could he launched in the conditions of to-day. Let us never forget, that in a period of rapidly falling prices the spread between retail and wholesale prices is naturally and inevitably increased. What we hope to see is a rise in wholesale prices which will in itself go a long way towards removing the difficulty from which we are suffering, and I can only hope that the retailer who has not followed the lag down in prices will not find it necessary to pursue a parallel course in prices when the lag is taken up. I hope that the House will now find it possible to accept the Motion.
That the Additional Import Duties (No. 4) Order, 1932, dated the twenty-fifth day of July, nineteen hundred and thirty-two, made by the Treasury under the Import Duties Act, 1932, a copy of which was presented to this House on the eighteenth day of October, nineteen hundred and thirty-two, be approved.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 181; Noes, 34.685
|Division No. 360.]||AYES.||[1.53 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Kirkpatrick, William M.|
|Albery, Irving James||Duggan, Hubert John||Levy, Thomas|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Liddall, Walter S.|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Eastwood, John Francis||Lindsay, Noel Ker|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lister. Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Lleweilin, Major John J.|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Loder, Captain J. de Vere|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Elmley, Viscount||MacAndrew, Lt.-Col. C. G. (Partick)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Blindell, James||Fuller, Captain A. G.||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Boulton, W. W.||Goff, Sir Park||McLean, Major Alan|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Granville, Edgar||Maitland, Adam|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks., Newb'y)||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Hanley, Dennis A.||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)|
|Burnett, John George||Hartland, George A.||Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chlsw'k)|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsf'd)||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Chalmers, John Rutherford||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Morgan, Robert H.|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Hernby, Frank||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Choriton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Howard, Tom Forrest||Muirhead, Major A. J.|
|Clayton, Dr. George C.||HowItt, Dr. Alfred B.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Cooke, Douglas||Hurd, Sir Percy||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Crcokshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Jamieson, Douglas||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Peake, Captain Osbert|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Peat, Charles U.|
|Dickie, John P.||Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Penny, Sir George|
|Donner, P. W.||Ker, J Campbell||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Doran, Edward||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Peters, Dr. Sidney John|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Kimball, Lawrence||Petherick, M.|
|Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, B'nstaple)||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tslde)||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,Bilst'n)||Rutherford, Sir John Huge||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Potter, John||Savory, Samuel Servington||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Selley, Harry R.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Procter, Major Henry Adam||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Pybus, Percy John||Sheppesson, Sir Ernest W.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Skelton, Archibald Noel||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Rankin, Robert||Smithers, Waldron||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Ratcliffe, Arthur||Somervell, Donald Bradley||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Somerville, Annesley A (Windsor)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Reid, David D. (County Down)||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Withers, Sir John James|
|Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.||Womersley, Walter James|
|Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Stanley Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Robinson, John Roland||Stevenson, James|
|Rosbotham, S. T.||Storey, Samuel||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Ross, Ronald D.||Strickland, Captain W. F.||Captain Austin Hudson and Lieut.-|
|Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-||Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward.|
|Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grundy, Thomas W.||Price, Gabriel|
|Banfield, John William||Hamilton, Sir R.W.(Orkney & Z'tl'nd)||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Batey, Joseph||Harris, Sir Percy||Thorne, William James|
|Bernays, Robert||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lawson, John James||White, Henry Graham|
|Daggar, George||Lunn, William||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Edwards, Charles||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Parkinson, John Allen||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. G. Macdonald and Mr. John.|
Motion made, and Question put,
That the Additional Import Duties (No. 5) Order, 1932, dated the eighth day of August, nineteen hundred and thirty-two, made by the Treasury under the Import. Duties Act, 1932, a copy of which was pre-
§ sented to this House on the eighteenth day of October, nineteen hundred and thirty-two, be approved".—[Dr. Burgin.]
§ The House divided: Ayes, 180; Noes, 33.687
|Division No. 361.]||AYES.||[2.1 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Heligers, Captain F. F. A.|
|Albery, Irving James||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)|
|Allen, Sir Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Howard, Tom Forrest|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Dickie, John P.||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Donner, P. W.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Doran, Edward||Hume, Sir George Hopwood|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Duckworth. George A. V.||Hurd, Sir Percy|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Dundale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Duggan, Hubert John||Jamieson, Douglas|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Jesson, Major Thomas E.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Eastwood, John Francis||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Ker, J. Campbell|
|Boulton, W. W.||Eills, Sir R. Geoffrey||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Elmley, Viscount||Kimball, Lawrence|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Kirkpatrick, William M.|
|Brockiebank, C. E. R.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Levy, Thomas|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Liddall, Waiter S.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks.,Newb'y)||Fielders, Edward Brockiehurst||Lindsay, Noel Ker|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Fuller, Captain A. G.||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffo-|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Liewellin, Major John J.|
|Burnett, John George||Goff, Sir Park||Loder, Captain J. de Vere|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G.(Partick)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Granville, Edgar||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Chalmers, John Rutherford||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.|
|Chariton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Clayton, Dr. George C.||Hanley, Dennis A.||McLean, Major Alan|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hartland, George A.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Cooke, Douglas||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Maitland, Adam|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Pybus, Percy John||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Marsden, Commander Arthur||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Rankin, Robert||Stevenson, James|
|Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Moreing, Adrian C.||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Morgan, Robert H.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Muirhead, Major A. J.||Robinson, John Roland||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Rosbotham, S. T.||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Ross, Ronald D.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Palmer, Francis Noel||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffleld,B'tside)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Peaks, Captain Osbert||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Peat, Charles U.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Penny, Sir George||Savery, Samuel Servington||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Perkins, Walter R. D.||Selley, Harry R.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Petherick, M.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, B'nstaple)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Blist'n)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Womersley, Walter James|
|Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Potter, John||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Smithers, Waldron||Mr. Blindell and Lieut.-Colonel|
|Sir A. Lambert Ward.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Price, Gabriel|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Banfield, John William||Harris, Sir Percy||Thorne, William James|
|Batey, Joseph||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Bernays, Robert||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||White, Henry Graham|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Lawson, John James||Williams, Dr. John H. (Lianelly)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lunn, William||Williams, Thomas (York. Don Valley)|
|Daggar, George||McEntee, Valentine L.||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Edwards, Charles||Nathan, Major H. L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Parkinson, John Allen||Mr. G. Macdonald and Mr. John.|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Pickering, Ernest H.|