§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [26th October], "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
Which Amendment was, to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof the words:
this House declines to assent to the Second Reading of a Bill which continues the policy of tariffs and preferences initiated by His Majesty's Government last year, further increases the already excessive burden of indirect taxation, and, even if it succeeds in diverting trade into fresh Channels, will do nothing to solve the problem of rising unemployment common to free trade countries and to tariff countries, which is a social problem relating to the constitution of society itself and incapable of solution either by a policy of tariffs or of free trade."—[Mr. Lunn.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
The last time that I had the privilege of speaking upon a tariff Measure in this House a good many of my colleagues advised me to resign. As I sat down, I was advised very strongly in that direction. We have now acted upon that advice, although there may be some above the Gangway who think we have acted very belatedly upon the advice so vehemently given to us at that time. If it should be asked why it is we are now taking action which we did not take in February—and that point has been made frequently in the course of the Debate—this is my first answer, that in February there were placed before this House certain proposals which were stated by some of their foremost advocates as being temporary. That was the very powerful argument used by the President of the Board of Trade at that time. These proposals are not temporary, and the whole discussion that has proceeded upon this Bill is upon the basis that they are permanent. I understand that the President of the Board of Trade is speaking later, and I want him to direct himself immediately to that question. In his own constituency at the last election he pledged himself against any per- 1194 manent reversal of the fiscal system. The Lord President of the Council, speaking recently at Blackpool, repeated what he has frequently said in the House and elsewhere, that these proposals are only experimental and that in the course of time—the time suggested is three or four years—they will have to be reviewed and, if they proved a failure, they are not to be continued. He said his party were not likely to be the party that would be tied to the carcase of a dead policy.
The picture drawn by the right hon. Gentleman is that after the lapse of four or five years some body in this country—it may be Parliament—is going to cast up very carefully the advantages on the one side and the disadvantages on the other, and, if there is a balance of disadvantage, this thing is to be wiped out. My suggestion is that there is no correspondence between that picture and the actual facts of the situation. This question never is decided in the end by logic and argument, because of the incessant war that goes on between the general good and sectional interest. That is why, whenever tariff countries meet together, they always come to the conclusion that restrictions are wrong but nevertheless they always maintain the restrictions or raise them. In theory they accept the Free Trade case, but in practice they are obliged to accept the Protectionist case because the general good is diffused, it is very often inarticulate and unorganised, and sectional interest is always organised, concentrated and powerful. When the Lord President of the Council suggests that at the end of that time we can have this academic discussion and consider the actual facts of the case, he overlooks that in the meantime powerful interests will have grown up which have a way, in every Protectionist country, of dictating to Parliament. I know we are in a difficulty in this Debate. The "Times" yesterday said we were "beating the air", and a suggestion has been made that we might get rid of this Bill in a day or two. The very fact that the leading newspaper in the country could speak of the discussions upon this important Bill as beating the air is a measure of the degradation of the House of Commons. [Interruption.] I do not understand the laughter of the hon. Member behind me. I hope later he will explain his laughter, which is at present inexplicable.
1195 It is a very remarkable thing that a Bill touching most vitally some of the greatest issues that have been discussed from one generation to another is practically in every respect a foregone conclusion. It is to this that the High Court of Parliament, what our fathers called the Grand Inquest of the Nation, has been reduced. Although discussion cannot take place upon several Clauses of the Bill, and although the decision was reached before Parliament assembled, and the decision might just as well have been taken by a postcard application written to Members of the House, yet it is our wish, if we can, to find our way through this welter of inconsistency and contradiction, and there are some questions to which we ask an answer.
The first question I have to put to the President of the Board of Trade is whether he will elucidate what was said yesterday by the Dominions Secretary as to the position of the Irish Free State. Is the power that is contemplated in Clause 2 to be exercised or not? Retaliatory action was taken by the majority of this House not long since in dealing with Ireland. I did not understand that the 10 per cent. was in addition to be imposed upon Irish imports. I think it is of the utmost importance that we should limit ourselves to the action that we have marked out and that we should not alienate the friendly influences that we have in Ireland. We have a great many friends there and the wise statesmanship is to enlarge the area of our friendship. I believe that the denial to Ireland of the advantage represented by the 10 per cent. duty is not going to increase but will lessen the number of our friends. It was not made clear yesterday and I want to know what the intention of the Government is. I ask them to remember the wise words that were said many years ago that magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom.
The Prime Minister has added to our difficulty in relation to the Bill by his speech on Tuesday of last week. He said:We knew perfectly well that this Conference, if successful, could only result in something in the nature of tariffs and that foodstuffs would have to be included somehow or other."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th October, 1932; col. 139, Vol. 269.]The argument was this, that we were committed to Ottawa, and Ottawa com- 1196 mits us to food taxes. If that is true, why was it not said before? At the time of the last election there was a long discussion upon a formula between the different parties. If that had been put in the formula, the discussion would have ended in five minutes. The Liberal party went to the country and declared against food taxes in a manifesto of which the Prime Minister was well aware. Why did he allow us to go to the country with that declaration if, in fact, we were committed to this policy? Why has he not said it before? He went to Seaham. Did he say it there? He did not lack courage in going to Seaham. I should be the first to acknowledge the courage with which he faced that responsibility. but was it made clear there? Was it made clear to his colleagues? Did he tell Lord Snowden that we were committed to food taxes? Did he tell the President of the Board of Trade before he committed himself against food taxes? We had a Debate on 16th June, just before the Ottawa delegates went, and the Dominion Secretary said "I am going to deal fully, frankly and candidly with the situation." He never mentioned food taxes. Members got up on that side of the House and put the specific questions—it was put by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps)—" What have you to say about food taxes?" and no answer was made. If, being committed to Ottawa, we were committed to food taxes, would it not have been a frank and candid thing for the right hon. Gentleman to have said, "That was a foregone conclusion. That is understood. Necessarily we are committed to it." But he said nothing. That perhaps adds significance to his words when he said that on these matters he always found it wise to keep something up his sleeve.
In the course of this Debate we have been misled by many words and phrases. We have talked again and again about agreements with the Dominions as if, when you arrive at an agreement with the Dominions it is as though a man puts his signature to a partnership deed. What do we mean when we say the Dominions? Are we to have no regard to the opposition in the Dominions? Is the House aware how narrowly divided parties are in Canada? Although Mr. Bennett secured 137 seats at the last 1197 election, and Mr. Mackenzie King secured 88, look at the figures. There were 1,899,477 votes cast for Mr. Bennett's party, and 1,715,178 for Mr. Mackenzie King's party. As between the two big parties there was the narrowest advantage in Mr. Bennett's favour, although he secured nearly twice as many seats. If you add the votes for other parties, Mr. Bennett represented a minority of the votes cast. Are you going to wipe out this opinion I Are you going to say that half of the voters in Canada cannot come into our consideration? If so, you will be making a very serious calculation, because from the evidence we have those who are in opposition at present, given the first opportunity, will be in the seat of power. Two elections have taken place recently. There was the election at South Huron which took place subsequent to the Ottawa Agreements. Five Canadian Ministers went down to South Huron and said: "The eyes of the world are upon you. You have to decide now following on these Agreements and if you do not return a Government Member the supposition across the ocean will be that you do not approve of the Agreements." In spite of that appeal, the Liberal increased his majority of 349 in 1930 to 2,000. Another election took place in Prince Edward Island and there a seat belonging to the Bennett party at the last election was won by a Liberal. I admit that it was by the narrowest vote. It was only a majority of one, but still, though not as deep as a well or as wide as a church door, it serves.
What does Mr. Mackenzie King say? Mr. Mackenzie King, representing certainly one-half of Canadian political opinion, spoke as follows in the course of the Debate in the Canadian House of Commons on 17th October. I quote from the "Times" of 18th October:Mr. King went on to say that if returned to power the Liberals would proceed to bring back the tariff to the level where they had left it on going out of office and would go even further by establishing a general preferential rate of 50 per cent. for all British goods entering by Canadian ports …. He argued that the method favoured by the Liberal party as exemplified by the Dunning Budget of voluntary fiscal concessions made by a spirit of good will, was infinitely preferable to the bargaining and blasting policy of the Bennett Ministry. The former allowed trade to flow in free, 1198 unchecked channels and eliminated the possibilities of friction, whereas the locked agreements now submitted were hard to interpret, difficult to administer, and productive of feelings of discord.That was the authentic voice of Liberalism, and it is to that appeal we on these benches are very glad to make our response. I do not understand those arguments being taken lightly. I do not understand the Imperialism which says that we should only listen to Tory opinion in Canada and that Liberal opinion should be set aside.
§ Sir JOSEPH LAMB
Would the hon. Gentleman say that 50 per cent. is a free and unfettered flow of trade.
§ Mr. FOOT
I should certainly say that a 50 per cent. reduction was a much greater contribution to free and unfettered trade than the high restrictions you have at present. If the hon. Member will look at the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow he will see what Mr. Mackenzie King did say. It is not my expression of opinion. I am telling the House what has been said in the Canadian Parliament. What he proposed was, not a 50 per cent. tariff, but a 50 per cent. reduction.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Hore-Belisha)
Is it free and unfettered?
§ Mr. FOOT
It is much freer and unfettered than what has been done by this Government. What do you gain by it? Do you take the opinion of certain selected sections or are you, as you ought to do in this House, going to take all the opinion which has been expressed there? There is a further and more important consideration. When you deal with the Dominions in this way you are dealing with certain favoured individuals, classes of interests and sections and not with the Dominions. That, of course, is not so much my argument. It would be familiar to the President of the Board of Trade, because I took it from his book 1199 entitled, "Liberalism as I see it." The second edition is not "Liberalism as once I saw it." It is "Liberalism as I see it." Ho said that preferential duties are not benefits conferred on each Dominion as a whole, but are fiscal benefits granted to individual merchants or manufacturers in the Colonies and Dominions.
Passing from that I ask the House to consider what were the intentions of the Ottawa Conference and what are the results. I used to learn in old history that when a Roman Consul took up his duties he always swore that he would observe the Constitution during his year of office, and when he went out he had to take another oath to say that he had observed the Constitution during that year. I would compare what was said in this House by the Lord President of the Council on the 16th June with what was brought back from Ottawa. Do hon. Members who were present during the Debate on the 16th June remember what the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs said on that occasion. He said that what we were going to secure was, he hoped, freer trade throughout the Empire. What we were going to secure was freer trade throughout the world. He drew a picture of a suffering and distressed world afflicted with tariffs, quotas and restrictions, and now he has come back all that we have are more tariffs, more quotas than before, and more restrictions. Do hon. Members recall how he pictured the struggle of Mr. Graham and said that what we had to do to succeed where Mr. Graham had failed and to get a weapon? He came back with a weapon that was broken, because if you are going to deal with other countries you must be in a position to take off tariffs if they are to respond to the appeal. To the extent to which the Government submit themselves to a continuance of tariffs, they will not achieve their purpose, with the result that when they come to bargain and argue with other countries they will have to raise their duties higher still in order to get an advantage; and that is in line with the history of every tariff country in the world. Consider what the Liberal Minister, Mr. Mackenzie King, said in Canada in the course of those debates. We hear about freer trade and we hear the Financial Secretary to the Treasury speaking about freer trade, but the Liberal Leader 1200 in Canada ought to know. This is what he said when speaking in those debates:The Ottawa Agreement rates against British goods are so high that little if any trade could move past them. Against foreign countries the Agreement rates were high still. The only possible explanation was that the Bennett Government had used the Ottawa Conference as a means of elevating the Canadian tariffs higher than ever before.If hon. Gentlemen however want some further evidence than that I will turn to a paper which was sent to me by someone of whom I had never heard who lives in. Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. He sent me a leading article which appeared in the "Halifax Chronicle," the leading paper in Nova Scotia, on 13th October. Here we have the "Halifax Chronicle" which does not sound any trumpets or ring any bells. The heading of the article is "Hope of Relief Fades." It speaks about the consumer who had no representative at the Ottawa Conference. I am not giving here what has been said by any British politician, but what has been said by a leading and responsible paper. Will hon. Members listen to the following:The duty on cottons is reduced a third, but when it is remembered that the duties on cottons were raised variously from 13¾ to as high as 53⅔ per cent., the net result is to leave the duty more than twice as high as it was when Mr. Bennett came into power.That is the freer trade. The editor does not say that. We heard the hon. Member for South Bradford (Mr. Holds-worth) speak upon woollens yesterday and by the time he had finished there was not a rag left upon these proposals. The article proceeds:With woollens it is worse. Duties on woollens in some instances were raised as high as 93 per cent., which, reduced by ¼, leaves the duty still more than three times as high as Mr. Bennett found it. The duty on woollen blankets is cut in half, but the duty was raised from 21¼ to 92 per cent., which leaves them still double what they were in 1930.While the United Kingdom pressed for the stabilisation of the tariff and the abolition of surcharges and the imposition of arbitrary valuations and dumping duties by Order in Council, this long looked for relief is conspicuous by its absence. The farmer, the fisherman, the miner, the lumberman and the consumer generally will seek vainly for the longed for relief. It is ominous that in a number of instances, instead of lowering the tariff to grant a preference this was done by raising the tariff still higher 1201 against non-Empire countries. We had first hoped for better things than these, but 'Ephraim is wedded to his idols,' the Prime Minister to high tariffs, in Which the consumer can find no hope.This is how the bells are being rung in Canada over these proposals. An hon. Member behind says that this is a leading Free Trade paper. Do I therefore understand that he is only going to listen to a Protectionist paper?
§ Mr. HANNON
The hon. Member quotes the opinion expressed by a well-known Free Trade paper in Canada, and I say that it does not represent public opinion in Canada.
§ Mr. FOOT
I am hardly able to recognise the hon. Member's claim to represent public opinion in Canada. I do not believe that he represents public opinion here as far as I am able to judge public opinion, and I do not know why this paper, which I did not quote except in its actual terms, should be dismissed from being a contribution to the discussion. All I know is that the gentleman who wrote to me had been following closely what had been happening here, had verified his figures and stood by them. I suggest to the hon. Member that, instead of throwing discredit upon the Editor of the paper, he should deal with those figures, which knock the bottom out of every argument which has been submitted to the House. What we give under this arrangement is certain and immediate. What we get is provisional and conditional. On the one side taxes are tangible and permanent. On the other side there are some advantages, I admit—it has never been a part Of our case that the advantages have not been secured—but they are hedged around with provisos and conditions, involved formulae and pious hopes. I ask the House to contrast the two. When the right hon. Gentleman, the Dominions Secretary, in 1930 was dealing with the proposals that were made then, he called them humbug. Those were the same proposals.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for DOMINION AFFAIRS (Mr. J. H. Thomas) indicated dissent.
§ Mr. FOOT
The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. He differs then from Mr. Bennett, because Mr. Bennett said that the proposals submitted this time were essentially the same proposals as 1202 were made in 1930. It is very difficult for me to find language in which to describe these schedules. I fall back upon the language of Edmund Burke, who would have said:It is an accumulated patchwork of occasional accommodation.But I always prefer the words of Cromwell. He would, I think, have described them asA tortuous and ungodly jumble.Looking at the schedules, I would ask the House to consider what was once said by the Lord President of the Council. The right hon. Gentleman has my high regard. There is no man in public life outside my own party—of course, my party have the first claims upon my affection—for whom I have higher regard, but when I read these schedules I turn up what I wrote down some time ago of what he said. This is what he said at Edinburgh in 1923:The whole structure by which we feed ourselves and import so many of our raw materials from abroad is so delicately balanced in this country that the peril of interference is immense.Let that phrase be put side by side with what has been done at Ottawa in a hurry. Why did they do it? What is the explanation? They were all able men and they worked hard. When the Lord President of the Council said the other day: "We worked hard," he was entitled to demand the sympathy of all in this House. Why was it that they failed? I will give two reasons. In the first place, they tried to reconcile the irreconcilable. I heard the hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George), in a remarkably able speech last night, make a contrast between this country, with its crowded population, and those countries which in the last resort can depend upon their own resources. How can you reconcile the interest of the two countries? Our people went to the Conference and our ultimate ideal was Free Trade. On the other hand Mr. Bennett declared before the Conference and afterwards that his ultimate ideal was Protection. How can the two things be reconciled? Mr. Bennett said, after the Conference:The Dominion Government"—And I would contrast this statement with what was said in this House a few days ago by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury— 1203has succeeded through reciprocal concessions in manifesting the principle that Protection as we see it in this country can be used as an instrument of national policy to secure the equalisation of benefits as between natural and manufactured products.Mr. Bruce, speaking in Australia, said:There has been no radical departure from Australia's fiscal policy.Let hon. Members contrast what Mr. Bennett said and Mr. Bruce said with what the Financial Secretary to the Treasury said to a wondering House:I think that goes to the root of the whole argument. It means that the countries of the Empire vis-a-vis the United Kingdom have abandoned the principle of Protection completely. What more could a Free Trader ask for than that?I am tempted, following upon the Foreign Secretary, who used so many illustrations last week, to compare the Conference with a conversation that took place on a Newcastle railway platform when two men, a Scot and a Briton, met. They became acquainted and, finding that they had some time to wait, spent the intervening period in the refreshment room. They became friendlier and friendlier and when, later, they got into the train one said to the other: "This railway amalgamation is a wonderful thing. You are going to Aberdeen and I am going to London, and we are both of us in the same carriage."
What is the second reason for the failure? It is that they worked under impossible conditions. They worked under the fear of a breakdown. I will not stop to quote all the words that the Prime Minister said on this point. The primary instructions given to our delegates were not that they were to get the right Agreement, butThat was the body of men who went to Ottawa, charged with the first duty of coming to an agreement and not allowing the Conference to break down. That was essential.It was to that that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) paid most attention. He was not concerned so much with the result but with the determination that there must be no breakdown. Whatever happened, there was to be no breakdown. How can you discuss these delicate and difficult matters if you are to do it under the threat of the political dangers of a breakdown? It seems to me that Sir Arthur 1204 Salter foresaw precisely what would happen. He contributed an article to the "News Letter," which is the National Labour organ. I agree that that organ is not responsible for the expression of all opinions printed in it, but surely they are responsible for publishing the article. In June Sir Arthur Salter wrote an article in which he dealt with the Conference, and I ask the House to notice how, with the most remarkable prescience, he saw exactly what the danger was. He said that the danger would be that we should be robbed of our bargaining power in dealing with other countries. Later he said:It may well be that a moment will arrive at Ottawa when it will look as if the various negotiations must break down. The political results to all parties of an admitted failure would, however, be so serious that there will be the strongest inducement to agree upon something"—He underlines the word "something"—even if the direct results are very limited in range. The danger is that, under the pressure of such an emergency, an agreement of limited value in itself should be based on an understanding, or an engagement, to maintain high tariffs against foreign countries. If so, we shall have lost our power to bargain, for the power to bargain requires that you must be just as free to take tariffs off as to put them on.He foresaw the danger, and that danger has happened. That was the danger in regard to which the Foreign Secretary, in his masterly illustrations last week, quoted "Alice in Wonderland." Does the right hon. Gentleman remember the conversation that took place between Alice and the Cheshire Cat? Alice said to the cat:Can you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?The cat said:That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.Alice said:I don't much care where, so long as I get somewhere.There is one passage which I intended to quote, and it is of particular importance, but it seems to have disappeared from my notes. Perhaps I shall find it as I go along. Meanwhile, I should like to deal with the speech made last week by the Foreign Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman made a speech upon which I congratulate him, because it was a speech of great power and one that I suppose no other man in this country could have 1205 made. In that speech, although he did not in terms reproach us, he made a grave indictment against those who sit on these benches in regard to the action we felt compelled to take. He said:I reproach no man because he takes that view, but I cannot possibly imagine how they arrived at it.Why could he not imagine how we arrived at it? May I remind him of a speech that he made in 1916, when this country was at war, when the Government of the day were fighting with their back to the wall and when he, on unquestionably high grounds of conscience, resigned from the Government of which he was a Member and voted against the Government of which he was a Member. He knows that I am the last man in this House to impute any motive to him, because I am quite sure he was animated by the highest principle in what he did, but, having taken that action at that time, I do not know why he should find it not within the range of his imagination to know why men should resign upon a question of principle.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir John Simon)
I made no reflection. The observation that I made was that in view of the fact that my hon. Friend, amongst others, only a few months ago thought that the problem that was facing us was too large for any one party in the State to handle, I, without reproaching anybody, did not understand how they could think that they could safely leave the National Government now.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. FOOT
I can only read the words of the right hon. Gentleman. He said:I reproach no man because he takes that view but I cannot possibly imagine how they arrived at it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th October, 1932; col. 353, Vol. 269.]Perhaps I may be able to help him to understand. He made his appeal to Liberals, a right which I think he long ago forfeited. He made his appeal to us, but he is no longer a Free Trader. Before this Government was formed he was a Protectionist. He says that he is going to remain. Why should he not remain in a Protectionist Government? What sacrifice can it make to him? What right has he, an avowed Protectionist, to make an appeal to us as Free Traders? He quoted me, or affected to quote me, from a speech that I made in August. If he had given the whole quotation in- 1206 stead of taking one sentence at the beginning and another sentence at the end of the short paragraph from which he quoted, it would have been better. He quoted from the Liberal Magazine. He ought to be able to make better speeches than any other Member of this House, because he gets the literature now from both sides. He only quoted the first and last sentence, but in the words intervening there is this statement:The National Government is not a coalition.
§ Mr. FOOT
Whatever the crisis last August it is in many respects worse now.It is, of course, a summarised report but the right hon. Gentleman might be interested to learn that in the full report I showed that the crisis was largely affecting Germany and also that it was to some extent being made worse by the policy with which he was associated.The National Government is pot a Coalition. We did not form a new party. We came in as Liberals and we remain Liberals. We came in as free traders, and we remain free traders. If we cannot do that then a National Government is not the place for us. The arrangement is purely temporary, and if you ask me when it will end I cannot tell you. I will only say this, that we are face to face with, some problems to-clay which are too much for any one party in the State.Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me a further quotation in which I referred to the Conference at Ottawa, and said that if it meant only self-sufficiency on a larger scale it would be a dead failure.If there is the conception that we are to build a ring fence around the Empire and let the rest of the world go to the devil we are only repeating the mistake of the last 10 years on a larger scale.I will tell the right hon. Gentleman why it was impossible for us to remain in the Government. We are rebuked because we have returned to party policy. The Prime Minister said that we have declared that the time has come to return to party government. We have not returned to party government; we have left party government A warning was given at the last election by the right hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman) who told his people that: 1207A scientific tariff is one of the outstanding items in the programme of the Conservative party. That is a subject on which there is no unanimity of feeling, and if the Conservative party were to press that scientific tariffs were to be carried out as a result of a general election they would not achieve national unity. I do not believe the leaders of the Conservative party are anxious to force to the forefront an item of such pronounced party character. The only thing for a National Government is that each party should itself put on one side during the emergency any items which are of a party character.What is the comment upon that? The last Conservative Conference at Blackpool, following upon a declaration made on the 12th February this year by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Birmingham that:Free Trade is as dead as mutton"——let Macbeth take care that some Banquo does not yet push him from his stool—declared:Perhaps the most striking result of this policy of national co-operation is to be seen in the fact that within six months from the date of the National Government's formation the principle of Protection, embodying a clear measure of Empire Preference, had become the law of the land, not as a coup by one political party, but as the considered decision of the nation, to which Free Traders were able to offer no opposition.You are carrying out a party policy and it will be better, therefore, if you carried it out under a party name. I say to the right hon. Gentleman who rebuked us last week that we have learned too much from him on Free Trade to unlearn it so readily. In 1924, on these very proposals, the right hon. Gentleman referred to the danger of the interlocking tariff, and to the danger of surrendering our own power. He said this:But I do say from the bottom of my heart that if once we depart from the principle that each part of the Empire has to decide these things for itself we are striking a fatal blow at what is essential to the progress of the Empire.Will he tell us why what was poison in 1924 has become a restorative medicine in 1932. I have here a quotation, which I am not at liberty to give because of the time at my disposal, but it is one of the most effective quotations from the right hon. Gentleman. He said that:The cause of peace is bound up with Free Trade, and that blessed hope for the world can best be accomplished by a steady support of Free Trade.1208 In the same year in another speech he used these words—There is no hope for Liberalism unless you have men who can say these things in the House of Commons, and stick to them.I sat in the Gallery last week and heard his brilliant speech with profound admiration, and I recalled the description which Burke gave of a speech by Charles Townshend on American taxation, the most famous speech of that generation. Hon. Members if they read that passage of Burke will see in the picture of Charles Townshend a picture of the right hon. Gentleman making his speech in the House of Commons last week. Charles Townshend's speech, like that of the right hon. Gentleman, dealt with taxation and Imperial affairs, but for all its brilliance it was the most costly speech in English history, because it lost us the American colonies. If I turn to the President of the Board of Trade I must say that I regard him a little differently, more in sorrow than in anger. Although he is a fallen angel I am bound to say that his form has not yet lost all its original brightness. We have caught his clear accents and learned his great language, and having learnt so much from him we find it impossible to reconcile this Measure with his pledges at the last election or the teachings of a lifetime. If we have against us the President of the Board of Trade, the right hon. Member for St. Ives, in a Protectionist Government we are glad to know that we have on our side the Walter Runciman who for 30 years was the splendid champion of the cause which we are proud to maintain to-day.
The Bill goes in the wrong direction, that is why we are opposed to it. It means danger to the Empire. I ask my Conservative friends to turn to a speech which is unanswered and unanswerable, by perhaps the greatest master of political oratory in this country to-day, the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). In a book which he wrote on Liberalism and the Social Problem they will find the answer which he gave to the Imperial representatives at the Conference of 1907. [Interruption.] Surely the Ten Commandments are even more ancient. If we must be restricted only to what is published and said in the last 10 or 15 years, politics must be left to babes and sucklings. They will find the arguments put forward by the right hon. Member for Epping very valuable and 1209 valid, and they were repeated word by word by the present Foreign Secretary in a speech in 1924. Let hon. Members look at the arguments and consider what answer there can be.
I believe that there is great danger to the Empire, our proud and common possession, in this policy. The rights which are now being invaded belong to us. Our rights over taxation have been won through many generations. If you take that out of our history the story of the British people will be largely unwritten. We have made ourselves masters in this House, sometimes after civil war. We have made ourselves masters against kings and peers; but that mastery and independence will no longer exist after the passing of this Bill. For the first time the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have to get up and say that he must listen to voices other than the voice of this House, that he must collect the opinions of others besides the opinions of this House, that he has to decide not by the mandate of the English people but according to the opinion of other Governments, who in their turn will be pressed by all the hungry interests who gather under the Protectionist flag. That is the situation, and I object to the cruel irrelevance of this Bill. I sympathise with people like those who come from Clydeside.
One hundred years ago we passed the Reform Act. There were great crowds in London and Bristol and Manchester who came and demanded the Bill, the whole Bill and nothing but the Bill. The crowds to-day have no interest in what we are discussing in Parliament. I ask those who are supporting the Measure what will the Bill do for these people? There is a great bank of discontent throughout the country every hour accumulating upon which seditious men can draw at leisure. What will this Bill do to lessen that discontent? The Dominions Secretary asked the miners' representatives to go into South Wales and talk to the miners. Will he go and tell the unemployed all about this Bill? They are not far away, they are only the other side of Westminster Bridge. Will he go and tell them that this is the Government's contribution towards solving the unemployment problem? [Interruption.] Is that so absurd? You can disperse a crowd by 1210 the police, but you can only meet their grievances by policy.
§ Mr. EMMOTT
In rising to address the House for the first time I can discover, in my own favour, no reason that would justify my departure from the practice that is usually observed on these occasions. I ask, therefore, the indulgence of the House, as I hope I may deserve it. Intervening as I do in this Debate when it is approaching its conclusion, I am well aware that the field of argument is already well trodden down; but it may not be presumptuous to hope that it is still possible to offer to hen. Members, though it must be in summary form, certain observations upon this Bill that will not be found to be superfluous.
The great principle underlying this Bill is the development of trade in the markets of the Empire. It has been urged that even if that is to be the effect of it, its general result can be only to change the direction of our trade and not to increase its volume. I agree that if that argument is well founded it would be very damaging to the proposals of His Majesty's Government. The question is, is it well founded? I ask leave to put before the House a few considerations which in my respectful submission to it compel an emphatic negative to that question. That we should buy from those who buy from us is merely the popular expression of a principle which I believe to be one of the first principles of commerce: that is that direct trade is better than indirect trade. It is better to make your purchases with those who make reciprocal purchases with you, than to make them with those who use the purchasing power you have given them in markets other than your own. The reason is apparent, and it is this: That in direct trade the return is both more quick and more certain than in indirect trade.
If therefore the Agreements made at Ottawa tend to establish a commerce with those who give a natural pre- 1211 ference to the produce of this country, surely their effect must be not merely to change the direction of our trade but actually to increase its volume. Now it will not be denied by those who have experience of the Empire that there is spread throughout it a sentiment that is extremely favourable to commerce with this country. The peoples of the Empire strongly desire to buy the produce of this country. They do give a natural preference to the produce of this country. That is a matter that is really not susceptible of determination by means of statistical argument. Nevertheless there are certain facts which throw light upon the matter, and which I ask the leave of the House to bring before it. Calculations have been made which show, in regard to particular countries, the value of the purchases of British exports that are made by the populations of importing countries. Calculations have been made to show by head of the populations of importing countries the exact value in any period of time of the purchases that they have made of exports from this country. Those calculations display a result which is extremely favourable to the countries that constitute the Empire.
I am not going to trouble the House with a number of figures, but in view of the importance of this point I should like to put before it one or two. These figures are calculated on the basis of head of population. In 1931 the value of the purchases made by the inhabitants of New Zealand was £7 9s. The value of the purchases made by the inhabitants of South Africa was £2 14s. 6d. Contrast with these figures the figures relating to other countries. The comparable figure of France is only 10s. 11d., and that of the United States is only 2s. 9d. The comparable figure of Russia is 11d. If I may take the House for a moment back to a previous year I should like to do so, because it includes the figure for Australia, in a year when the circumstances which have contributed to the depression of the trade of Australia had not yet developed. The circumstances of the last two years have driven Australia farther down the list, but her true position is more properly indicated by the figures of 1929.
From these figures it will be seen that the value of the purchases made by the 1212 people of New Zealand in that year was £14 11s. ld., by the people of Australia £8 10s. 2d., and by the people of South Africa £4 3s. 8d. Compare with those figures the figures relating to those countries that I have already mentioned. The figure for France is 15s. 5d., that for the United States 7s. 6d., and that for Russia only 6d. I had intended to give a few more statistics upon that point, but the exigencies of Debate compel me to be as brief as possible. I therefore content myself with saying that the figures show that if the proportion of our trade with foreign countries and with British countries is examined, that examination tends irresistibly to the conclusion that the trade which this country does with the countries of the Empire is of increasing, steadily increasing and almost continuously increasing importance.
I maintain that in view of the facts I have placed before the House it cannot be denied that the peoples of the Empire do give a natural preference to the produce of this country. I maintain that these considerations are fatal to an argument which was much used by hon. Members last week, and which, were it sound, would be extremely damaging to the proposals of the Bill.
It is not asserted that in no circumstances could the duties that we propose to place upon imports from foreign countries be justified by preferences that our industries receive in the Dominions. What is contended is that in these actual Agreements the preferences that our industries receive are negligible. I have observed that it has been stated that the effect of these preferences is to be compared with the lowering of a wall 7 feet high to a height of 6 feet, to enable a man measuring 5 feet to see over it. I trust that I shall not be considered indelicate if I observe that all men do not measure merely 5 feet. Five feet is not the upper limit of a man's growth, and I suggest that the position of our industries under these Agreements is quite improperly described by the pathetic image I have given to the House. I suggest that it is more accurately described by this image—a man measuring 6 feet 6 inches looking down over a wall measuring 6 feet.
But against this argument it is surely a most important consideration that in 1213 Australia. and New Zealand the opposition which is being made to these proposals by certain industrial interests and by the Labour party proceeds upon this precise ground, that under these Agreements the position of the industries of the Dominions has been completely sacrificed to the industries of this country. But I do not wish to dwell on that particular point. I would rather go on to examine the competitive principle which is to be found, as the House knows, in Articles 10 to 15 of the Canadian Agreement. More particularly I refer to Articles 10 and 11. The principle that Protection shall be afforded only to those industries "which are reasonably assured of sound opportunities for success,"—that refers to industries in the Dominions —and the principle that United Kingdom producers shall have "full opportunity of reasonable competition on the basis of the relative cost of economical and efficient production,"—those principles, I agree, are expressed in wide terms. But it is to he observed that it is precisely in their latitude, if they receive a fair application, that we receive all we want. If those principles are to be fairly applied can it be denied that they give to us all that we require?
In referring to this matter last week, the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) asked a number of questions upon the interpretation of these Clauses. He asked what was "reasonable assurance," and who would define it for us? After reading one of these Clauses he asked what in the world it meant? He wanted to know who would tell us what "reasonable cost" meant, and what was "efficient production" They were very important questions, I agree, but as I listened to the hon. Gentleman I was irresistibly reminded of those teasing sophistical questions with which too curious Athenians used to attempt to entrap Socrates. I suggest that Socrates might have replied to the hon. Member that a reasonable assurance is what a reasonable man would define to be a reasonable assurance. I suggest that he might answer the hon. Member by saying that a reasonable cost is what a reasonable man would determine to be a reasonable cost; and he might reply that efficient production is what a reasonable man would determine to be efficient production.
1214 These questions, let us anticipate, will receive a fair and just answer from those authorities in the Dominions that are competent to answer them. To assume that these principles will be made of none effect by an application of them improperly unfavourable to ourselves, is to make an assumption that is not supported by one particle of evidence.
If I may refer for a moment to the position of the Socialist party, it appears to me to be an extraordinary thing that they should continue to oppose the principles of this Bill. This Bill is founded upon Protection, and so is the Socialist party. I cannot help thinking that their opposition is not the opposition of complete conviction. The opposition of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen of the Liberal party is of a different order. The real opposition to this Measure comes from them. They believe that Protection and tariffs are the root of all evil, and that from that root no good can spring. But in the Debates of last week and of this week it seems to me that they have assumed a position which is somewhat vulnerable. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (.Sir H. Samuel) developed a constitutional argument which brought him into trouble, into serious trouble with the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I say nothing upon that matter. It is not for me to trespass upon ground consecrated to the law and the prophets. But may I put to hon. Members of that party a question which I believe to be pertinent to our discussion. If they disapprove of the system to be established by this Measure, then of what system do they approve? Do they approve of the system of Free Trade? I believe they do. Do they wish to return to the system of Free Trade? But the system to which they would have to return is not Free Trade, but the system of free imports, a totally different thing. If that be the system to which they wish to return, I put to them the question which was asked by Mr. Disraeli in the memorable Corn Law Debates—the question which has never been answered. How can it cannot be answered. How can you fight hostile tariffs with free imports? Do hon. Members believe that they can fight hostile tariffs with 1215 free imports? If they do, then their belief is contrary to all experience. If they do not, then they ought to approve the principles of this Bill.
Surely, the essence of the matter is this. The purpose and the complete justification of Protection is the development of the national powers of production. The proper operation of a national system of production depends upon security of markets. This Bill is the first attempt that has been made in our time to obtain for this country security of markets beyond the seas. We have turned to those countries to which not merely interest, but sentiment and race and history direct us. We have turned none too soon. It is not our merit, but our fortune that we have found the way still open. But this is only the beginning of our work. This is not the keystone of the arch; it is the foundation stone. Upon it, in the days to come, we will build an edifice that shall be worthy of those whose faith and courage made the British Empire.
§ Mr. ANEURIN BEVAN
The House, I am sure, will require me, and indeed I do so willingly upon my own initiative, to congratulate the hon. Member for Springburn (Mr. Emmott) upon a charming and witty speech. Speaking as he did after the very eloquent address of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. I. Foot), the hon. Gentleman had a very difficult task, and I am sure he will take it in all sincerity from me, that we all think he acquitted himself most honourably in that task. The hon. Member for Bodmin delivered the third of the broadsides which have come from the Liberal benches against the Government in this Debate, and, as I listened to him, my indignation rose higher and higher. The hon. Gentleman speaks with such moving accents that my Celtic blood is fain to to respond, but my indignation, as he spoke, rose not against the Government, but against the Liberal party. The speeches delivered from the Liberal benches become more and more powerful and the more powerful they become, the heavier is the indictment against the Liberal party itself.
I was amazed to hear the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin taunt the Foreign Secretary and the Government with imposing food taxes. Is there any 1216 difference between making people pay more for their foods and giving people less money with which, to buy food? If the hon. Gentleman had as much capacity for indignation about present-day truths as about historical truths, he would not be in his present embarrassing position. If his ears were attuned to catch the accents of the present, as they are attuned to catch the accents of the past, he would not have been a member of the Government at all. A year ago his party decoyed the English electorate into support of this Government. They offered themselves to the nation as the Left Wing element of that Government, leaving the Prime Minister and the Dominions Secretary in the centre position. It was clear to every thinking man at that time, that if the present Government came into office they would introduce policies of this kind. The Liberal party were warned from these benches. They were warned by elder statesmen; they were warned by the Leader of their own party. But the sweets of office were dangling before their eyes, and they could not resist the temptation.
I have some sympathy with them because, in the last Parliament, it did not look as though the Liberal party would ever get office again, and, when office unexpectedly came so near, they must be sympathised with in their natural desire to get hold of it. Indeed some of the Liberal members of the present Government are still walking about with a bewildered air. They do not seem to be able to understand how they have got office, and, I assure them, that their bewilderment is shared by the rest of the House. The hon. Member for Bodmin delivered himself of several arguments, with which I could not find myself in sympathy at all. For instance, he twitted the Government on their negotiations with the Dominion Governments. When the Government negotiated with Canada, they could not negotiate with Mr. Mackenzie King. They had to negotiate with Mr. Bennett as Prime Minister. Surely it is pointless to quote the speeches of Opposition members in the Dominions. The Government had to negotiate with whatever Dominion Government was in power at the time, and if they have been at a disadvantage in Canada in having Mr. Bennett and not Mr. Mackenzie King as Prime Minister, then they have been at an advantage in the case of Australia 1217 in not having Mr. Scullin as Prime Minister—so that the advantage has cancelled out the disadvantage in that respect.
Then the hon. Member tried to rouse our indignation over the innovation that is being made and the fact that the power to tax is being taken out of the hands of the nation for five years. The Constitution he says is being violated—a Constitution built up by centuries of study and labour. I cannot sympathise with the hon. Gentleman. I have not been able to understand, from the beginning of this Debate, the argument advanced from the Liberal benches in this respect. What is the case? The nation by these five year Agreements is putting the power to impose fiscal taxes and the power to review them out of its hands. What is the Liberal policy? The Liberal policy is to take down all fiscal barriers, to remove all obstructions to trade, to remove all quotas, to abolish all trade regulations between the countries of the world and, as they say, to allow commerce to flow freely across the frontiers of the nations. But would that policy make trade freer Would that make any Government more powerful? It would simply put the economic life of the world beyond the control of Governments entirely.
Hon. Members of the Liberal party are living in the 19th century. I except from that reference the hon. Member for Bodmin because his history is even more patriarchal, but hon. Gentlemen of the Liberal party who hold those views are living in the middle of the 19th century. Their arguments have no relation to it at all to the facts of the modern world. I am not speaking of those private trade agreements which have arisen spontaneously in the course of the last few generations, but I assert most definitely that the problem of the 20th century is for governments to resume control of economic forces, and unless governments reassume that control, in some form or other, the whole edifice of modern civilisation is bound to collapse.
We therefore cannot sympathise with the Liberal argument that these proposals are putting commerce beyond our control. We assert most definitely that in so far as the Government are approaching this business of commerce between the nations from the point of view of trade regulation—or as it has been called much more 1218 appropriately canalisation—from that angle and for the reasons I have given, we think that, at least, the orientation of the Government is sound. They are walking in the right direction, but their steps are faltering, and they have no idea of their destination. I profoundly agree, that viewed from that angle, the distance between these benches and the Liberal benches opposite is more than the distance between these benches and the Government benches. The Liberal party will not be able to arouse the nation in this present controversy to any appreciation of its fiscal merits, because this nation and most of the nations of the world are coining to attach more importance to economic security and commercial calculations, than to the evanescent and ephemeral benefits of Free Trade. I do not propose to spend more of the short time at my disposal in discussing the Liberal party, because I believe the Liberal party is now entirely irrelevant in British politics.
The point of view which I want to put is this, that any Government charged with the responsibility for affairs in this country would have had to meet other nations in present circumstances and make trade agreements. If there were a Socialist Government on those benches, it would be one of the first tasks to which it would address itself, but it would not address itself in the way in which the present Government has addressed itself. It would, first of all, say without the slightest doubt that for the purpose of trade agreements and trade canalisation, for the purpose of putting in sound economic foundations for trade between the nations of the world, tariffs are an idiotic mechanism and have no relevance whatsoever to the problem. It is shown clearly by the history of trade between the United States and Canada that preferential tariffs do not effectively canalise trade, because in spite of the preferential tariffs given to this country, the trade of the United States with Canada has continuously increased, and in a higher proportion than has the trade between this country and Canada.
The point of view which we take with respect to international trade is this, that a nation must itself assume charge of its foreign trade and must accept the responsibility of making purchases; and we are prepared to undertake all the risks which that policy involves. Making 1219 a purchase here necessarily means not making a purchase there, and it is undoubtedly true that when the Socialist policy comes to be applied to the commerce of the country, as applied perhaps it will be before very long if the present chaos is to be overcome, it will have to he experimental. It will be embarking upon waters which have never been sailed upon before, and it will have very little to guide it, but I think it is true that when a Socialist Government faces these fiscal problems, it will do so from the point of view of collective bulk purchase rather than from that of tariff regulations.
Nevertheless, we have to face the fact of this Bill, and this Bill cannot be underestimated. The hon. Member for Bodmin says the country is not interested in this Bill. We have to be interested in it, because, as far as we can see, it is the only piece of first-class legislation which we are going to have from this Government. It is the one contribution which the Government have to make to the modern economic problem. At least, it is the only contribution we have heard the Conservatives speaking about for a century. If they have any other contribution, they have concealed it from us completely, and we would like to hear what it is, but I do not see that the injection of fresh blood into the Government has introduced fresh ideas at the same time. Therefore, we have to examine this Bill from the point of view of the Lord President of the Council and to ask what effect it will have upon employment. There are 3,000,000 people unemployed in this country. If the Bill succeeds in giving a substantial measure of employment to people in this land, and in putting our foreign trade on a secure and expanding basis, the Bill will be blessed. It will be judged remorselessly from that angle. It will not, I am satisfied even now, be judged even upon the extent to which it imposes food taxes, but it will be judged purely and simply upon a pragmatic basis, as to what extent it increases the volume of employment and gives that employment additional security.
The right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who went out to Ottawa had a very heavy task to perform, and I am not saying for a moment that they lacked in earnestness or in application in tackling it. I 1220 am, however, convinced that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's preoccupation with rounding-off a piece of family history interfered with his natural shrewdness in trade. It would appear from the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman to which I have listened that his ancestor worship is only one step behind that of the hon. Member for Bodmin. It is characteristic of the Lord President of the Council that although he engages in many Odysseys, he always leaves the golden fleece behind him and comes home with less treasure than that with which he set out. This is the second time he has been across the Atlantic, and on those two occasions he has left treasure in the hands of the enemy, using that term in no offensive sense.
We on these benches resent most bitterly, at a time like this, when there is so much poverty in this land, when thousands and hundreds of thousands of workless people are on the march, when distress has hit sonic places in this land so cruelly—we resent most bitterly the application of food taxes at this time. We say it is an unforgivable crime of the Government to have gone to Ottawa to impose additional burdens upon poor people at this time, but we have to face the fact that they were prepared to do so, that for the sake of these Agreements, to obtain these concessions, they were prepared at this moment to take what they must know, to have been a. most unpopular step, namely, to impose taxes upon all foreign supplies of foodstuffs and many raw materials. In addition to that, they were prepared to antagonise the much more valuable trade with the rest of the world than we have with the Empire itself, for the sake of the concessions which they got at Ottawa, and I am compelled to assume that statesmen of their reputation, experience, and considerable qualities must have put a very high worth upon what they obtained in return for what they gave, because they could not have given anything more valuable than they have given.
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies made a speech last night and, with his usual scrupulous regard for facts, made some references to the coal trade and made specific assertions as to the value immediately of the Ottawa Agreements. 1221 His colleagues in the Government, when they have spoken of the benefits of the Ottawa Agreements, have all been very vague, very general, and not a single right hon. Gentleman has stood up at that Box and told the House of Commons in specific, concrete terms what it is we are going to have out of these Agreements immediately. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer summed up what he thought we were going to get. He said, speaking of Canada and Australia, that they had agreed not to protect uneconomic industries, and that they will adjust existing tariffs so that British manufacturers will have fair conditions in Dominion markets; and the agency for accomplishing all this is to be the tariff boards appointed by the Dominions themselves. There has been no statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer in any less general terms than those as to the benefits which we are to obtain.
These trade beards appointed by the Dominions themselves are to be the arbitrators as to what is meant by these Agreements. We have already seen the value that. Mr. Bennett attaches to the Agreements. We have already seen, in yesterday's "Manchester Guardian," I think it was, a leaderette in which it was pointed out that in the case of cellulose goods a duty has already been clapped on of 20 per cent. against us, from the free list. I therefore ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will tell the House whether there is any protection for the free list, whether any goods are going to be taken off the free list. Mr. Bennett, the Prime Minister of Canada, has said in the Agreements that he will not increase any tariff without first of all submitting it to the tariff board, hut in that understanding the free list is not included, so that——
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Dr. Burgin)
Does the hon. Member refer to the free list of the Canadian Parliament?
§ Mr. BEVAN
Of course, to the Canadian free list. I refer quite definitely to the goods admitted free into Canada at present, and I am asking this specific question, which we regard as of great importance, as much doubt has already been cast either upon the honour of Mr. 1222 Bennett or Upon the clarity of these Agreements, whether Mr. Bennett's promise or undertaking that no existing tariff will be increased without first of all submitting the question to the tariff board and having their report, includes also goods upon which there is no tariff, because in the case that I have pointed out, the case of cellulose goods, a tax has already been imposed.
Most valuable concessions have been given—a tax on wheat., restrictions on meat, restrictions on raw material, an undertaking to put a tax on Russian timber and to denounce the Russian Agreement, and taxation on goods from the Scandinavian countries. Most valuable concessions have been made to the Dominions, but what have we got in return? The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs said last night that we had got the steel agreement. He did not make that agreement, however; it has nothing to do with the Ottawa negotiations.
Mr. J. H. THOMAS
I am sure that my hon. Friend wants to know the facts. There were a number of interests represented at Ottawa. I mean that there were special representatives of particular industries, such as steel, wool, and so on. They were in daily contact with us and they met their opposite numbers. Having made agreements themselves, they brought, those agreements to us, and they were confirmed. If the hon. Member means that we did nut sit down and discuss the details, he is right. We left that to those who should know the business and we endorsed their actions.
§ Mr. BEVAN
The right hen. Gentleman man says they had their negotiations and then went to the Conference. How much wiser they were than going to the Conference first. Therefore, with respect to steel, we have had nothing at all from the Ottawa Agreements. The right hon. Gentleman made some reference last night to coal. He talked about the increase in the consumption of anthracite coal, but that is a purely competitive increase. No quota has been given. Canada has not said: "We will buy so much anthracite coal from you." The anthracite coal is being sold in the Canadian markets under free competitive conditions.
Oh, no. I hope that the miners will listen to the answer. The hon. Gentleman does not know—and I am acting on the assumption that he does not—or he would not make that statement. If he does not know, I will tell him that there is a preference. It is shown in the Bill, which apparently he has not read; in addition to which there was a prohibition instituted against Russian coal by Canada in favour of ours.
Then I must correct my hon. Friend. Surely he is speaking with the Bill in front of him, and if he looks at it, he will see that a preference is given to anthracite coal. If he did not know it before he spoke, I am glad to inform him now, and it may alter the trend of his argument.
No, they are not. It is no use saying 900,000 tons. They consumed more than that by many millions. It is no good talking about consumption. I did not deal with consumption. I dealt with the sale to Canada, not the consumption.
§ Mr. BEVAN
What does the right hon. Gentleman think the Debate is about? It is about the concessions given by the Dominions to the trade of this country. We are not discussing statistics of the cosmos. We are discussing the statistics 1224 of our trade with Canada. As I understand it, Canada bought last year from the United States 12,000,000 tons of coal, and from the United Kingdom only 987,000 tons. The whole Empire buys about 4,500,000 tons of coal from us, as against about 38,500,000 tons elsewhere. That is the whole Empire consumption of coal. I should have thought that the right. hon. Gentleman, having given all these valuable things away at Ottawa, would have said, "Here is the most distressed trade in Great Britain; here is the one industry that has had to hear the brunt of the depression for 10 years; here is the one commodity of which we can increase the export," and would have done the same for coal as he proposes to do for pig meat and got a definite quota for bituminous and anthracite coal. He did not do that. Whenever he gave something he gave it very definitely. If the right hon. Gentleman had conducted railway negotiations as efficiently as he conducted the Ottawa negotiations, he would have lost his job long before he did. Here he gives the most specific and substantial things and gets nothing back. In the case of mutton and lamb, the most definite things are given to Australia and New Zealand. Definite quotas are given, and in the case of pig meat, quotas are given to Canada.
What are we getting in return? Simply tariff boards and the reduction of tariff barriers, which after they have been brought down will still be high enough to prevent our goods going in. We are also getting restrictions on foreigners which are of little advantage to ourselves. Will the Minister who replies to the Debate tell the House in precise language the extent to which employment will be increased in this country under these Agreements? Take the cases of mutton, lamb and pig meat. Although I know that no legislation has been introduced to deal with pig meat, nevertheless I understand that the report on that subject is to be implemented. In regard to mutton and lamb, the total increase in employment which will result in this country will be the production of something in the region of £2,000,000 worth in a total agricultural production in this country of the value of £250,000,000. That is less than 1 per cent. In the case of pig meat, at the end of three 1225 years our quota is to be doubled, but the Canadian quota is to be doubled immediately. There will be an increase in value of the pig meat produced in this country of something like £5,000,000. That means a total increase of £7,000,000 in three years' time in a total agricultural production of £250,000,000—less than 3 per cent. Expressed in terms of employment, the increase will be 24,000 people engaged in agriculture, the total number of which is now 800,000.
Was it worth while giving food taxes for that? Was it worth while taxing wheat and restricting meat for that? Was it worth while giving the whole British market away to the Dominions, giving away the whole of the bargaining power of the British market, in order o get an increased employment of 24,000 people at the outside? You face the World Economic Conference with that lever already gone. We on tins side have often been accused of incompetence. Could our incompetence have exceeded the incompetence of the Government? When the right hon. Gentleman was guided by us, he described such terms as humbug. Now he has accepted the same terms. Who, then, is the humbug? I suggest to the Government in all seriousness that the charge which will be made against them will be a charge of incompetence for having given at the Ottawa Conference such valuable concessions in the British market that might easily have been retained for negotiations with other countries. Take, for example, the Scandinavian countries which are very good customers of ours in coal, much more valuable than Canada, and much more important. The European countries are much more valuable to our coal industry than the Empire. We should have gone to those countries and got valuable concessions for the coal industry, but now we have been stopped from doing that. The door has been closed.
§ Mr. THOMAS indicated dissent.
I will tell the hon. Member. I gave figures yesterday showing that the countries which the hon. Member has mentioned sell to us more than we sell to them, even after all the 1226 advantages of Ottawa. Surely it is a good weapon for bargaining to say to them, "Now let us equalise it, and you take from us more than you have in the past." That is the way to conduct negotiations.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I will not reply at any length to the interruption because I want to give my hon. Friends an opportunity of intervening in the Debate. I will simply make this short reply. Scandinavia is able to take our coal at the moment because we are taking her products in large enough quantities. If we do not take her products, she will not be able to take our coal, and the coal trade will receive another blow. That is the case we are making against the Ottawa Agreements—you are putting the most valuable portion of our trade in peril. You are damaging it, and not getting compensating agreements inside the Empire itself. That is the case we are making. Our case is not that you are making agreements, but that you have made the wrong Agreements, incompetent Agreements, and have added to the burden of taxation of the people of this country without any guarantees that additional employment will be given to them in return.
We suggest that the reason these Agreements were made, the reason why right hon. Gentlemen are incapable of visualising the trade relationships between this country and the rest of the world in realistic terms, is the Imperialist humbug with which all this is surrounded. They think they merely have to wave the Union Jack and the whole world will fall down. They think they can cover all the weaknesses of their policy in Debate by flag-wagging. If they had regarded the position realistically and said, "Our job in the United Kingdom is to survey the trade of the world, is to find out where we can get advantages in foreign markets anywhere, outside or inside the British Empire," and then had used the valuable British market as a lever for obtaining those concessions without Imperialist predispositions we should have got a realistic agreement of value to the British people. Instead of that, we have been dragged at the cart tail of the Tory machine; they have been caught by this Imperialist humbug, and have dealt a deadly blow at the recovery of British industry.
§ Mr. LENNOX-BOYD
I can assure the House that at this late hour I shall not follow recent practice, but, rather, shall be commendably brief. I wish to make one or two observations on the very remarkable speech of the late Secretary for Mines. It was a remarkable speech, and it makes one regret very much that such eloquence and such powerful persuasion have been lost to His Majesty's Government for reasons which to some of us on these benches seem totally inadequate. In the last few days we have had a variety of explanations from retiring Ministers as to the reasons which prompted them to resign from the Government, but we have not had an answer to the question that matters above every thing else—what answer would they themselves have given two years ago, if they had been in power, to the Canadian invitation to assemble at Ottawa last summer? If we had an answer to that question we should know a little better where we stand. The late Secretary of State for Scotland said that these Agreements would not strengthen the bonds of Empire but were apples of discord thrown into Imperial affairs. Two years ago, in 1930, there were two opportunities to bring about freer trade in the world. The first was the Tariff Truce Convention, the second the Imperial Conference in the autumn of that year. From the Tariff Truce Convention the Dominions held studiously aloof. Would it have strengthened the bonds of Empire to have persevered then in such a scheme? From the Imperial Conference the Dominions retired disappointed, basing their only hope of future prosperity on a renewal of the Conference at Ottawa. We have head a lot about the speeches made by Dominion statesmen. General Hertzog said two years ago that it would be insincere to pretend that the Conference of 1930 had borne the hoped for fruit, and that they now looked to Ottawa. Mr. Scullin said:Our people looked to this Conference to show us a way out of our present depression, but constitutional questions took too long.I suppose that if those ex-Ministers had had their way once more they would have made it pretty certain that at Ottawa the constitutional questions took too long. It is rather hard to discover how that would have helped the Empire or the world. I do not think that even my hon. Friend the late Secretary for Mines would 1228 suggest that a second Statute of Westminster would have made any contribution to the forthcoming World Conference. We have heard a great deal about what may be termed the "gentlemen's agreements," the general declaration as to future tariff policy. It has been suggested that they will not be honoured, that they are mere scraps of paper, but if a Government of which my hon. Friend had been a member had after protracted negotiations secured an agreement from a foreign country that their industries would only be protected if reasonably assured of success he would have come to this House and claimed it as a considerable achievement. If he could have told us that a foreign country would allow our manufacturers to compete on terms of reasonable competition he would have called it a victory for freer trade. Or, again, if he could have come back to tell us that our manufacturers can appear before a foreign tariff board I can almost hear him calling that a victory for international co-operation. Why should a European Tariff Truce be a victory for Liberal ideas, and an Empire Tariff Truce the last resort of bankrupt Toryism?
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that the tariffs which still remain in Canada are very much higher than those of the other countries to which he is referring?
§ Mr. LENNOX-BOYD
That point scarcely hears scrutiny. An analysis shows that the Canadian preference increases secured by the abolishing or the lowering of duties against Great Britain affects a total trade of some £18,000,000, of which our share is about one half, whereas the preference increased by increasing the duties against foreign goods affects a total trade of £7,000,000, of which our share is about £1,800,000. We have heard one or two references to British agriculture. No one here can deny the desperate plight of agriculture, and those of us who are vitally interested in that industry hope there will be a speedy opportunity to discuss it. It is not too much to say that our deliberations here and the action we take or fail to take in the course of the next few weeks will decide the fate, perhaps, for a whole generation, of rural Britain, and it would be a tragic irony if the stupendous achievements of the last few months were neutralised by an agricultural collapse at home. But because we know this there 1229 is no reason why we should condemn these Agreements as offering nothing to British agriculture. They recognise the vital principle of the control of meat imports, a principle which had to be conceded if any restoration of prosperity to home agriculture was possible. Apart from that they include duties on a variety of goods, which duties are pretty nearly the duties which the Central Chamber of Agriculture has been advocating for many years.
My hon. Friend said in the course of his speech that our hands were tied, and that we would not be able to succeed where Mr. Graham failed in the sphere of international negotiations, but facts, which are often too strong for the Liberal party, have proved too strong for them once again. Foreign nations know better. Let hon. Members study the vernacular press abroad during the last few weeks. In Italy there is a movement for a reciprocal revision of tariff barriers; in Sweden there has been a declaration that the time was never more propitious for an Anglo-Swedish trade treaty; in America we see it stated that the British Empire has become a powerful bargaining factor in world tariff questions, and that an impetus and not a check has been given to the movement to revise the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. In addition to that, my hon. Friend's own son, the senior Member for Dundee (Mr. Dingle Foot), who has lately been in Denmark as the guest of the Danish Government, must have noticed that the Danish people, when selling 67 per cent. of all their exports in our markets, did not think much about giving concessions to us, but that now that they have to pay for that privilege there is a growing anxiety to conclude a trade agreement.
I was surprised that the late Secretary for Mines closed his very moving speech by suggesting that constitutional etiquette had been violated. Every letter which the late Secretary for Mines wrote from the Department bore on top of the notepaper the address "Cromwell House," and it is a curious reflection that such an admirer of the Great Protector should come to this House, which he once desecrated, and ask that constitutional etiquette should be further preserved. The constitutional objections of the late Home Secretary have been more than answered in this House. Most of us here would not mind very much if there had 1230 been no good precedents for, after all, the alternative to making Agreements of this kind was to do nothing, to let the world depression continue, so that nothing that any Parliament could do would help very much. If that had been the case, when we met in a few years time to consider the history of the Ottawa Conference, we might then be regretting not that the power of Parliament had been slightly curtailed by one Resolution, but, rather, that in these momentous times we had not taken the step which the Government have taken to avert disaster.
§ Mr. GEORGE HALL
The Debate to-day on the Second Reading of this Bill to give legislative effect to the Ottawa Agreements has been marked by some very excellent speeches. I was very much impressed by the speech of the late Secretary for Mines, and I think it was more fitting that that speech should have been delivered from the place where it was rather than from the Front Bench opposite; although I should add that I know of no Minister who has left behind him kinder feelings among all those who were brought into contact with him in the course of his official duties. I can speak on behalf of all the mining Members in the House in saying that we very much regret his departure. There is scarcely any time to deal with the speeches which have been delivered to-day, but I wish to refer to the remarkable speech of the Prime Minister on Tuesday of last week. He endeavoured to justify these Agreements by saying that at Ottawa Conservatives, Liberals and Labour were all represented. We would like to know who were the Labour representatives representing Labour at Ottawa. Not a man who went to Ottawa on the delegation could be said to have represented organised labour in this country, and since the Agreements have become known, no Labour Organisation has given approval to them.
The Prime Minister also said that everyone who had been in direct contact with representatives of the Dominions knew that this was the kind of agreement which was going to be made. He said they knew perfectly well that if the Conference were to be successful it could only result in something in the nature of tariffs, and that foodstuffs would have to be included somehow or other. Did the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs know after 1231 the conclusion of the Imperial Conference in 1930 that at the next Imperial Conference, the one which took place this year, there would be food taxes, that there would be these protective duties imposed? There could be no such understanding. Could the right hon. Gentleman himself say that there was an understanding of the kind? No one was more definite than he, until May of last year, as to what was likely to happen if food taxes were imposed. I have here a quotation from a newspaper of which the right hon. Gentleman probably heard before he became a Member of the National Government. The "Derby Democrat," in March, 1931, contained an article written by the right hon. Gentleman in an endeavour to create some enthusiasm among the electors of Derby and at the same time to point out to them the work which the Labour Government did while they were in office. He intended also to warn them of what was likely to happen if a Tory Government took the place of the. Labour Government. He said:I shudder to think what would have happened to this country had the Tory party been in office at this period, with its cry of 'economy and tariffs.' The Tory policy is the expression of a growing revolt of the privileged against every effort to advance towards equality of opportunity and a better standard of life for the workers. Mr. Baldwin has made it quite clear that if the Conservative party is returned to power, the schemes of work will be stopped"—They are stopped—and then will come drastic reform of unemployment insurance, which means another return to the poor relief method. And when Mr. Baldwin speaks of the necessity of reducing taxation he has in mind something beyond cuts in expenditure. What the Conservative party is after is the reduction of direct taxation and a big transfer to the domestic budgets of the workers, by means of the tariff and food-tax policy.That was 12 months after the Imperial Conference of 1930, and, strange to say, the very first convert to the policy of Mr. Baldwin and the Tory party was the right hon. Gentleman himself. He is now assisting to put into operation the policy, which he warned the electors of Derby would be put into operation, if a Tory Government were returned. Well, I just wonder what is the difference between a Tory Government and the present Government. In that I am reminded of 1232 the story which was told by Lord Snowden standing at the Government Box, of a young man who was sweethearting with one of twin sisters. The difficulty was for him to discriminate between one sister and the other. He was asked how he was able to do it. He said that he never tried. If I was asked to discriminate between a Tory Government and the present Government it would be very difficult.
I am not going to deal with the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, other than to ask him whether he was aware when he joined the Government, that he was likely to go to Ottawa and that he would have to agree to the imposition of food taxes? Did he realise that he would be asked to have a tax upon wheat and a quota for meat? The right hon. Gentleman himself was very indignant, in February of this year, when we quoted newspaper statements against him where he told the electors of St. Ives that, if he was returned as their Member, he would not in any circumstances agree to a tax upon food. When we used those quotations against him in February of this year he said: "I did not mean food, I simply meant wheat and meat." I would like to ask where is the consistency of the right hon. Gentleman now. Does he now agree and believe in a tax upon wheat and meat or food? I am astounded that, since the present Government have been in office, including the effect of these Ottawa Agreements, no less than £150,000,000 worth of foodstuffs imported into this country is to be taxed. It must inevitably mean an increase in the cost of living.
The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade and hon. Members opposite will say, "No," but the Australians are under no delusion as to what it is going to mean. Mr. Latham, the Federal Attorney-General, speaking in Melbourne on 10th October this year, said:The Agreements offer fair advantages to Australia, but for Great Britain they involve the imposition of taxes on food, and restrictive arrangements which would increase food prices.The working people of this country will be under no delusion as to what these taxes are to be on food. The right hon. Gentleman yesterday referred to these Agreements as the lever for bargaining 1233 with those countries who have asked us to meet them to negotiate, and he referred to the fact that there was a trade balance in favour of Denmark of some £43,000,000, in favour of Sweden £11,000,000 and of the Argentine £31,000,000. He went on to refer to Russia, the United States and other countries.
Is it only foreign countries that have a favourable trade balance against this country? Did those who negotiated the Agreements at Ottawa realise that there is scarcely a Dominion that has not a favourable trade balance against this country? Why, the Lord President of the Council himself referred to the fact that, in the year 1930, there was a trade balance in favour of the Dominions of nearly £100,000,000. Did those who negotiated the Agreements at Ottawa use that as a lever to get better Agreements in favour of this country, as the right hon. Gentleman said it was going to be used by this Government, in the negotiations with other countries? Not only so; the Lord President of the Council himself referred to the fact that 90 per cent. of Dominion produce imported into this country came in duty free. He referred of course to the fact that the duty which was imposed was very largely a revenue duty, upon tea, wines and things of that kind.
To hear the speeches from the Tory side of the House, one would imagine that this country has done nothing for the Dominions. This country has given the Dominions almost everything they have asked for, and now, when we ask for something in return, we get the miserable Agreements to which this Bill is to give legislative effect. The Lord President of the Council referred to the part played by this country in the development of the Dominions. He said that before the War it was estimated that about a half of the £3,800,000,000 invested overseas was placed in Empire countries, and that since the War, out of a total of £1,400,000,000 sent overseas, £848,000,000 was sent to the Dominions. [An HON. MEMBER: "There has been no default!"] There may not have been any default but I should like to ask what the opinion of some of the people, who have invested certain moneys in the Dominions, is at the present time. I have in mind the Grand Trunk Railway, and things of that kind.
1234 Where are some of the Domnions sending, shall I say the major portion, of their goods, at the present time? The value of the market of this country to New Zealand in 1931 is estimated as 87.7 of her products; for Australia the figure is 49.8 per cent. and for South Africa 43.4 per cent. One could go on pointing out the advantages which the Dominions have received from this country. It is no use those who were responsible for negotiating these Agreements saying that they had such a very difficult time. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Forbes, speaking in Wellington on 12th October, said that the outstanding feature of the Agreement was the generosity of Great Britain. New Zealand manufacturers would be pleasantly surprised that so little was asked in return for concessions substantially beneficial to primary producers. I think that that is the general opinion of the Dominions. They were very much surprised at the generosity of those who represented this nation to bargain away the rights of our people.
Dealing with the Agreements and, in the presence of the President of the Board of Trade, who is to reply, I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether his attention has been directed to the statement which appeared in some of the newspapers yesterday as to Mr. Bennett removing from the free list a certain commodity which, it was understood, was to be admitted into Canada duty free? I think the House should know this, before these Agreements are ratified. If the Canadian Government has the right to vary these duties, they ought not to deny the right to this Parliament to vary the duties. I have read with very great interest Article 3 of the Agreement and I would like to ask the President of the Board of Trade, before any duty is varied in the Dominions, as to whether this country or the Government will be consulted; whether the right is given to Canada to interfere with the work of the Government of this country, and whether we have equal rights with regard to the variation of these different duties?
Looking through this Bill and the Agreements, one can see the extent to which duties will be imposed upon the British consumer, and a few extraordinary things will be noted. Foreign wheat, as we know, is to be taxed 2s. per quarter. 1235 That is not the full extent of the imposition on the British consumer of flour. The levy under the home wheat quota, which was, of course, supported by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) and those who acted with him, amounts, so we are told, to 2s. 3d. per sack on all flour produced in this country. This is estimated to be equal to a duty on foreign wheat of something like 2s. 8½d. per quarter. If that is so, the duty of 2s., which this Agreement is to impose upon foreign wheat, plus the effect of the wheat quota, must mean that foreign wheat imported into this country will have to stand a duty of something like 4s. 8½d. per quarter. The Chancellor of the Exchequer smiles. I trust that my figures are wrong. I hope they are, but these figures have been worked out by someone who has been actively interested in the trade.
It was the proud boast of this country, before the Wheat Quota came into operation, that we had the cheapest 4-lb. loaf of wheaten bread in Europe. Since the Wheat Quota came into operation there has been a change, and now, with this additional duty, it must mean that the price of bread in this country will rise to the price prevailing in a number of the capitals of Europe, where the price of bread is in some cases almost double what it is in this country. Before leaving this question of wheat, might I also ask the right hon. Gentleman to make it clear to the House whether Canadian wheat shipped from American ports will be liable to this duty of 2s. per quarter? It is very necessary that that matter should be cleared up, because I understand that there is a good deal of misunderstanding regarding it at the present time.
Then I come to the import duty on butter, which is going to have a very serious effect upon prices in this country. We know, and, if I may say so, we deplore the fact, that, so far as can be ascertained, only about 850,000 cwts. of butter are produced in this country, although we consume over 8,000,000 cwts. It is true to say that the largest importer of butter into this country is, and has been for some years, Denmark, but Australia and New Zealand between them have recently been sending to this country almost the same quantity of butter as Denmark. Denmark increased 1236 her supply by 6 per cent. in 1931 as compared with 1930, while New Zealand increased her supply by 24 per cent., and Australia by no less than 64 per cent.; and at the present time we are importing from New Zealand 97 per cent. of the total New Zealand exports, and from Australia 90 per cent. of the Australian exports.
I listened with a great deal of interest to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he referred to the need for increasing wholesale prices, and said that the producer should have a higher price for the product which he produces. Have the Dominions done all that they might have done with regard to increasing the price of butter? I find that, as far as New Zealand and Australia are concerned, the price at which butter is imported into this country is shillings per cwt. cheaper than the price of butter imported from Denmark. Taking the figures for 1929, New Zealand butter—[Interruption]—I will leave it to the right hon. Gentleman if he likes. These figures are contained in a book supplied by the Empire Marketing Board, and I will quote figures taken from that book. It says that in 1929 New Zealand butter was 173s. 9d. per cwt., Australian butter 170s. per cwt., and Danish butter 182s. 3d. per cwt. In 1931, New Zealand butter was 114s. 3d. per cwt., Australian 110s. 6d. and Danish 130s. These facts are taken, as I have said, from a publication issued by the Empire Marketing Board.
Turning to the question of bacon, I understand from this Agreement that Canada is to be given a quota up to a maximum of 2,500,000 cwts. of bacon. Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman how that quota was arrived at? Has Canada in any previous year imported into this country 2,500,000 cwts. of bacon? Have the imports of bacon from all the Dominions amounted to 2,500,000 cwts.? The truth is that last year Canada imported into this country 50,000 cwts. of bacon and 70,000 cwts. of ham, and Canada is to have her quota of bacon increased from 120,000 cwts. to 2,500,000. Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his reply, to say how he accounts for that increase?
I do not want to take up too much of the right hon. Gentleman's time, but be will understand the difficulty. I want to 1237 deal with the question of coal. The right hon. Gentleman yesterday was very flippant, if I may say so, in his statement regarding the advantages which coal is going to get from this Agreement. Might I tell him, and the Government through him, that the coal industry, and especially the coal export industry of this country, have been most callously treated by them since they came into office? Here is an industry which is dependent very largely upon its exports. Something like 50,000,000 tons of coal were exported and used as bunkers from this country. Something like 200,000 men and their dependants are dependent upon coal export. I personally asked the right hon. Gentleman, before he went to Ottawa, whether he would give special attention to this question of coal export, and whether it was possible to take someone to Ottawa who understood the difficulties of coal export; but, unfortunately, no one went, and the matter was left in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman.
Let us realise where the coal which is exported from this country goes. Does it go to the Dominions? No; almost nine-tenths of the coal exported from this country goes to our near European neighbours. I have the figures for the first nine months of this year, which show that France took 6,600,000 tons, Italy 3,800,000 tons, and Germany 1,700,000 tons. Six of these near European countries took 16,250,000 tons of coal out of the 29,000,000 tons that we exported, and if we include Sweden, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Finland, no less than 19,500,000 tons of the 29,000,000 tons exported from this country were exported to these near European countries.
The coal export trade is of more value to this country than the total export trade of almost any of the Dominions. It is of more value to this country than the combined trade of Canada and New Zealand together, or than the combined trade of Australia and New Zealand together, and yet, as far as we have been able to ascertain from the right hon. Gentleman, the only concession, if any, that has been given to coal is that anthracite is to be admitted into Canada free of any duty. Was not that the position before the Ottawa Conference Of course it was, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it. It is the question of price and the question of quality that 1238 has guaranteed for our anthracite coal a market in Canada. The right hon. Gentleman, during the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson) last night, said that not a single ton of coal had been affected as a result of the tariff policy of this country, but during the first nine months of this year we have lost to just five countries—Germany, Italy, France, Belgium and the Netherlands—a market for no less than 3,500,000 tons of coal very largely as a result of the tariff policy of this country. [Interruption.] I would like the Government to publish the letters which have passed between them and Germany regarding the question of coal restrictions, and I would like them to disclose to the House the reasons given by various countries. Eight of those countries which import coal from this country have restrictions and quotas against coal exports from this country, and it is true to say that nearly 500,000 men directly and indirectly employed, and their dependants, are affected, or likely to be affected, as a result of these agreements.
I note with a good deal of interest that it is likely that negotiations will be opened up with certain countries regarding this question. The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said on Monday that 19 countries had asked that negotiations should be opened up between them and this country, and the Government had agreed to open up negotiations with five of those countries. Might I ask the President of the Board of Trade, seeing that this offers just one little hope that some relief will come to our coal export trade, to expedite those negotiations, and to see that coal shall have more consideration in those negotiations than it had in the negotiations which took place in Canada? It can rightly be said that confidence and good will between nations and Empires are the essence of the world problem, and that monetary devices are of no avail as long as most nations are angry and suspicious, and economic nationalism drives them to commit economic suicide by killing their own and one another's trade. This Agreement is assisting in that process. We say that the wealth of the world is for the peoples of the world, and that those who would prevent the distribution of that wealth are responsible for causing tens of millions of people to suffer and are committing a sin against natural law.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Runciman)
I have not previously had the privilege of addressing the House or the Committee of Ways and Means on the Ottawa Agreements, and I hope that the House will grant me its indulgence if I go into some of the details which happen to be within my particular purview. But, before I do that, I should like to satisfy my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) on two or three questions which he has put to me. In the first place, with regard to any variation of the Canadian Agreement, there can be no variation of that Agreement without consultation between the two Governments. That applies to all the commodities which come under the Agreement. In the second place, my hon. Friend wants to know whether wheat shipped from New York, but of Canadian origin, would be subject to the 2s. duty. I can assure him that the country of origin and consignment decides whether or not a commodity is Empire grown. My hon. Friend also asked me a question about butter, which I am afraid I do not quite clearly understand. He drew our attention to the fact that New Zealand prices appeared in each of the last two years to have been below those of Danish butter. My hon. Friend rejoices in it. He does not take the New Zealand view—that New Zealand should claim, and ought to obtain exactly the same prices as Danish butter. I may tell him it depends almost entirely upon the quality of the butter.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The hon. Gentleman asked me also about a subject upon which he is better informed—coal. He drew attention to the fact that there has been a very big drop in the export to the five or six chief consuming countries, and he asked whether that was not due to the Government's tariff policy. I can assure him it has nothing whatever to do with Ottawa, and it is Ottawa we are dealing with to-day. In the second place, so far as our import duties are concerned, I believe they have had no effect upon our export of coal. He further asks me whether the Importing countries have not complained and made that a reason for not importing our coal. 1240 I have seen all the communications from these countries on the subject, and there is not one of them which has mentioned that they object to our duties as a reason for their restrictions on coal.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) did me the honour of paying some attention to my past views and my present ones. He was extremely complimentary about my views in the past and had little to say about my views in the present. What obsessed him, and others inside and outside the House, is that under the arrangements we made with the Dominions we are getting too little and we are giving too much. If that is the view which is taken by them of ordinary mercantile transactions, I can only say that the man who is constantly obsessed with the idea that the man from whom he buys is getting too much and that those to whom he sells have not paid enough will find himself not only in the bankruptcy court but in the lunatic asylum. It is absolutely impossible to carry on transactions on that basis. During the whole of the time we were out in Canada we were, of course, surveying the ground and, if you like, we were bargaining. I do not know the difference between "bargaining" and "hard bargaining." I suppose it is largely a matter of nationality. We wanted to get as much as we could for the merchants and manufacturers of our own country. We wanted to do that with as little cost to our country as we could manage. There was no harm in that. Supposing that my hon. Friends had gone to Canada and had tried to drive a bargain with the Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders, would they have been performing a national duty? They would have been guilty of dereliction of duty if they had not.
It was our duty to have open to us the markets which are under the command of the Dominions, and it was our duty in doing that to consider all the trades which depend on them for their work, employment and profit. We went through them one after another. It seems to me to be generally supposed that we did the whole of that in the course of the 4½ weeks at Ottawa. We began this work of dealing with our tariff Schedules early in 1932. We, and our experts, were at work on these Schedules for months before we sailed for Canada. We provided the Dominion Governments, 1241 through their High Commissioners here, and our Trade Commissioners in the Dominions with copies of the Schedules showing what would be of benefit to us, if they could grant it. That went on for many months. While we were out there, it is true, the members of the delegation worked very hard, and none worked harder than the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for the Dominions—and the latter, I need hardly say, added a good deal of colour to our meetings. But we had to spend the bulk of our time dealing with hard business and commercial matters. As I go through these Schedules now, I wonder how on earth we did it in such a short time. I know that over here some of the critics suggest that we behaved with a great deal of folly, and that we gave away far more than was reasonable.
Some of the verdicts I heard this afternoon appear to me to be out of touch with Imperial interests, and Canadian feeling, and I say now that when I hear my friend, Mr. Mackenzie King quoted in this House I want to know whether he is quoted with authority. We never interfered with Canadian politics out there, and I do not think any Canadian statesman would want to take part in our controversies here. I do not wish to fall back on the words of Mr. Mackenzie King and his colleagues, or upon Mr. Bennett and his Cabinet. I can give information as to public opinion which comes through the Canadian Press. I take one example from a Canadian newspaper, a newspaper of very high repute sometimes called the "Manchester Guardian of Canada"—I mean the "Manitoba Free Press" which calls itself Independent Liberal, and it is quite entitled to do so. I would like, however, to point out that "Liberal" in Canada is not exactly the same thing as here. It criticises the inadequacy of the reductions in the Canadian schedule, but hails them as a "definite step in the right direction." It adds that the general effect of charges on 230 items is to lighten the tariff burden and must be heartily accepted by sensible Canadians as a starting point for further reductions. It says:The crumbling of the tariff wall in Canada has begun.Apparently those of us who have had Free Trade antecedents have not been without influence on the walls of Jericho.
1242 If the House does not regard it as too wearisome I would like to go through some of our staple industries and see where they stand. I take first the case of Canada. In no less than 83 items we are to receive increased preferences. It may be said the increased preference is, to some extent, due to the fact that the duties on articles from foreign countries will be raised. It may be that that is the Canadian way of doing it, but let us not under-estimate the value to ourselves. I am looking at it from the point of view of our own business here. What I want to know is what advantage we are going to get. We are going to have increased preference. There will be actually reduced duties on no fewer than 132 items, and no fewer than 72 items will appear for the first time on the Free List. I claim that that is going in the right direction.
In the case of New Zealand, before the Ottawa Conference, about 50 per cent. of our trade with New Zealand was on the Free List. As a result of the agreement with New Zealand there is to be an immediate reduction of duties on the remaining 50 per cent. In the case of India we receive the benefit of Preference for the first time. There have been differential duties, but never before has the principle of Preference been admitted by the representatives of India. The Secretary of State for the Colonies yesterday afternoon drew attention to the effect which these Indian proposals are likely to have on a number of our staple trades. I hope that the ratification of the Indian Agreement will go through without any hitch. If it does, it means an enormous increase in the activities of our houses importing into India and in the manufacturing centres of the United Kingdom.
Yesterday the hon. Member for South Bradford (Mr. Holdsworth) made a very lively speech on the subject of the woollen industry. I need hardly say I have read every word of it with the diligence that comes of being an old West Riding Member. The hon. Member was a little scornful about the changes which this Agreement had made in the woollen industry. I have taken the trouble to find out from one of my friends what has been the effect on his firm. I 1243 cannot answer naturally for the hon. Gentleman's firm. My friend writes to me:Immediately after the publication of the Ottawa Agreement our firm received a cablegram ordering light wool dress cloth, which under the Agreement, being under four ounces per square yard is free. Not only did we receive this immediate order, but from a Canadian representative, now in Bradford, we have received a very substantial order for sample pieces within the next few days. All goes to point to our receiving from British importers and store holders in Canada as a direct result of the Conference—orders for light dress goods of four ounces and under, as they can now buy this from us profitably. They hope to place substantial business here in Yorkshire.In face of that, I ask the House not to accept the survey of the hon. Member as being complete.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
Can the right hon. Gentleman inform the House if that particular cloth was ever made in any quantity in Canada, and also the name of the firm? I want to ask him whether these cloths have ever been in competition with what has been manufactured here?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Of course, I cannot give the name of the firm. It would completely shut the door to my getting confidential information. With regard to the manufacture of the cloth, I do not care whether it was made in Canada or not. I know that for the first time it is going to be made in Yorkshire.
Now I come to another matter which is very important, and has caused us a great deal of anxiety. I would like to tell the House quite frankly that there has been no subject which has caused us more trouble than copper. It is just as well that the House should know how difficult it is to deal with some of these subjects. The whole copper trade of the world is surrounded with checks, cartel arrangements and price arrangements. There is a kind of perpetual warfare going on in the region of copper, and we deem it to be as well for Dominion countries and ourselves to be able to obtain all that is required in the way of copper from within the Empire. We did not wish to be at the mercy of those who can open the door to supplies or cut them off just as suits their own interests. We were prepared to take a very drastic line 1244 with copper, and we have recommended in this Bill that there should be a duty of 2d. a lb. upon raw copper—that duty is almost prohibitive—but we only did it because we knew that within the boundaries of the Empire itself there is any amount of copper, sufficient to satisfy all our needs.
It always happens, when you change over from one trade or one market to another, that there is a certain time-during the change over when there may be the very gravest inconvenience. It might go even further than that. We only agreed to this duty on copper on the understanding that consumers like producers were satisfied. Common agreement on a subject like copper may sound very simple to those who do not know how many varieties of copper there are. It is a very complicated subject. We discovered that it was almost impossible for the Empire to supply at once, according to our immediate needs, fire-refined copper, on which a great many of our manufacturing concerns are dependent. The case with regard to electrolytic copper is rather different. Electrolytic copper can be supplied in ample amounts for all the requirements of the United Kingdom granted a little time.
We have to tide over a very difficult time. It is not a subject with which I believe Ministers as a whole can deal. We have not the time nor the technical knowledge. It is very much better that the trade should manage it themselves, and we have, as the result of consultations which I initiated a short time ago, reached complete agreement between consumers and producers. We have agreed to set up a joint committee whose first duty will he to report to the Government, not later than 5th November, as to the availability of supplies of Empire electrolytic copper. In the light of this report the Government will decide when the duty on this variety of copper can be imposed. The signatories to the agreement ask the Government to suspend the operation of the duty upon copper other than electrolytic copper for the present, but it is understood that, with a view to safeguarding the United Kingdom market for Empire producers, the duty will be imposed on these forms of copper as soon as Empire producers can supply adequate quantities and quality. The House is well aware that 1245 we have only agreed to these arrangements provided our manufacturers can obtain their copper at the world price. Provision is made in the common agreement with regard to what is meant by world price and first sale. It is only right that I should say that, in accordance with the express terms of the Ottawa Agreements, if the circumstances should arise which some perhaps may fear—I do not—we should have no hesitation in applying promptly the remedy that the Bill provides. I mention copper because it touches so many of our engineering and manufacturing trades, and it is only right that they should know at the earliest moment that their interests are adequately safeguarded.
If I were to go through every one of our big staple industries in full detail, I fear I should weary the House, but I can give a bird's eye view of the things that matter most for the employment of our people. I am leaving coal out of account, for the present, because the Ottawa Agreements do not really touch coal. That is a different problem which should be dealt with in a different way. I take first of all the wool textile trade. The Canadian tax on wool textiles is very high. It has been reduced, but it has not been reduced, in my opinion, far enough. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am here to get it reduced to a lower figure. My hon. Friends have forfeited their right to take part in this transaction. Even if the reductions which we expect may not be forthcoming in full, we have made arrangements whereby the interests of this industry can be dealt with in a way in which they have never been dealt with in the past. The setting up of the Tariff Board has been delayed in Canada, and, when we went there, we found that there was no Tariff Board, although the Statute is still in force which would have provided for its appointment. The Canadian Government have undertaken to make the appointments of impartial men with judicial minds. When I hear it said in the House or outside that you cannot trust the Canadian Tariff Board because it will be composed entirely of Canadians, I say that is a very grave aspersion upon the Canadian Government.
We have no reason to doubt the purity of the Canadian Bench, and I believe we shall have no reason to doubt the purity 1246 of action of the Canadian Tariff Board. At all events, I am not going to condemn them until I have some grounds on which to condemn them. I trust them and I believe in the good faith of the Canadian Government, and we shall for the first time have the right, at the request of this Government, to have heard before this Tariff Board the applications of our own traders. Look at sections 11, 12, 13 and 14 of the Canadian Agreement and you will see that our manufacturers cases can be brought before the Canadian board, and the Canadian Government undertake that they shall be heard on the application of the United Kingdom Government. They are there to obtain information and express judgment of the difference in costs and wages between this country and Canada. It is not the first occasion on which an attempt has been made to equalise grave differences in wage costs. It is, I believe, a cardinal point in the policies of hon. Members opposite. That is one of the things that may be taken into account by the Tariff Board. They will look into the comparative cost of overhead charges, and they will have to be cognisant of the expense of social services. When they have taken all these into account, they will then be under the obligation, as laid down in this Agreement, to give to the Scotsman or the Welshman or the Englishman competing in their markets a fair chance of competing on equal lines with their Canadian competitors. I do not know that any better arrangement has ever been devised between countries that are wedded to a tariff system as Canada is. I cannot say that everything that the Canadians said during the whole time we were there was welcome to my ears, but this offer, not initiated, it may be, entirely in their Government circle but affected by them, was a. perfectly fair offer and we were obtaining a real advantage out of accepting it.
In Australia they already have an independent Tariff Board It expresses its views, no matter what may be the complexion of the Government of the day. An undertaking was given by the present Australian Prime Minister in the course of his election. Prime Ministers very often commit themselves in the course of elections on fiscal subjects, and they in- 1247 variably carry out their commitments. In Australia they were committed by the commitment given by the Prime Minister. He undertook that there should be no reduction of their tariff except on the recommendation of their Tariff Board. Not until that Tariff Board had examined the case and put forward their views could there be a reduction, but they undertook to initiate the movement towards a reduction, and they have already given signs of their good faith in getting rid of some of the extraneous taxation, which is just as great an obstacle to trade within the Empire as ordinary tariff walls.
We shall find that woollen goods, cotton goods, machinery and metal goods of various kinds will all come within the activities of these Tariff Boards. I believe that, even if a reduction of these duties is not now material, it will be the beginning of better things and that the Tariff Boards will initiate a downward movement which will lead to a much greater activity of trade within the British Empire itself. In the case of hosiery, a subject of great difficulty because of its immense variety, there was a good deal of discussion. We thought we had made some progress there. The duties are complicated—partly ad valorem and partly specific. The tendency has again been downwards. I do not know what good is going to come out of the lower hosiery duties—no one can prophesy—but I hope that downward tendency will undoubtedly be all to the good.
When one turns to iron and steel, I can only say that there we have actually, in black and white, made arrangements, or endorsed arrangements—it does not much matter which because our influence was all in that direction—which will give to United Kingdom producers a much better market than they have had for many long years in Canada. The trade know that. I cannot say they are satisfied—trades never are—but they know perfectly well that they are in a much better position now than they were 12 months ago.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The hon. Member spoke about India yesterday. I should be very glad to have a talk with him about it, because he is under a misapprehension 1248 with regard to galvanised sheets. I do not want to interpolate that in the course of what I fear must be a very short speech. Canada gives entry free of customs duty to motor cars—it does not include omnibuses—cycles and side cars. The previous preferential duties were 12½ and 15 per cent. They are wiped out. I do not know whether that will help the motor car industry or not. It depends on the industry. But we are giving them a chance. In Australia it was not possible to obtain that relief for the industry, but it was arranged that the discussions should continue after the Conference, and they are continuing. In the case of New Zealand, the motor car industry will benefit by the removal of the surtax, and in India it will also have some benefit. I do not mention machinery and a number of categories as time is passing on. I would like to direct the attention of the House to another aspect of these proposals. I am not going to discuss the constitutional question, because I think the last word on that subject was said by the Foreign Secretary. There is nothing more to be said on it. I freely admit that every commercial treaty which you enter into limits your action in one way or another. So, indeed, does every disarmament treaty limit your action, but it may not be any the worse for that. There never has been a commercial treaty which did not to some extent limit the action of the Sovereign State.
There has been some discussion in the House during the last few days on the subject of the treaties of Mr. Cobden. I should have thought that Mr. Cobden was above suspicion, but I looked up to see what John Morley had to say on the subject. If the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) will allow me to say so, I prefer the view of John Morley on fiscal questions to the view of Oliver Cromwell, not forgetting the fact that Oliver Cromwell was the great protector.One Member"—said John Morley while this was under discussionstill happily alive and vocal,"——it sounds exactly like our own time—asked if it had come to this, that the free Parliament of England sat to register the decrees of the despot of France.1249 That is something like an echo of what we have heard in the last few days. When I went a little further I found that John Morley expressed himself very frankly and very curtly on the subject of those who were doctrinaires.It is absurd"—he said,to quarrel with the treaties because they do not sound in tune with the verbal jingle of an abstract dogma.What so many hon. Gentlemen in the House have been anxious about is, that, having entered into these Agreements, we should have crippled ourselves in making commercial agreements with foreign countries. I should like to reassure the House that not only are we not crippled, but that we are actually carrying on the negotiations. It is no use saying negotiations cannot be entered upon or conducted. They are being entered upon and are being conducted. It may be that there are only five nations at present with whom we have expressed readiness to deal. We are open to deal with all the world, but we must take them in order. We cannot be expected to deal with 42 commercial treaties all at once.
The House is almost entitled to ask what steps we have taken and how we have proceeded. I will tell the House. First of all, we go through our various trades, and we decide upon those which are regarded as of substantial importance. We examine tariff movements upwards or downwards in respect of those trades. We have drawn up schedules of the statistical and tariff position. Each tariff, I think, has been examined, and in the case of some tariffs we have had to examine thousands of items. The relative importance of the suggested concessions have all had to be assessed. Schedules of these have been sent to the great trade organisations to ascertain their views and to obtain technical suggestions from them. The Schedules have also been before all the Departments concerned. We ultimately produce memoranda showing the desiderata for each country which we wish to obtain from them. We have been able to cover the whole field of manufactures. One of the things whit I kept my eye upon all the time I was out in Canada—the House will forgive me saying it—was the keeping of the field of manufactures clear so that 1250 we could carry on negotiations on our return to Europe. We have done so. Were it not for that no doubt our difficulties would have been very great. I see no reason in the world why we should not succeed in dealing with each of these in order, country by country, and trade by trade.
I should like, in conclusion, to sum up what I have to say with regard to Great Britain and her present position in the world markets. I will sum up very quickly in about seven short points. In my view, Great Britain, as a market, as a centre of finance and as a world force, is, and must remain, the most important and vital part of the Empire. Consequently, the policy of the United Kingdom, as a creditor country, with investments both inside and outside the Empire, is to cultivate commercial and financial freedom and activity, but this freedom and activity are limited by the policy of the rest of the world and of the Dominions. These limits can and ought to be the subject of negotiations. They can most usefully begin with the Empire countries, and afterwards we can negotiate with important foreign countries. The extension of trade within the Empire involves the readjustment of existing tariffs, and, remembering our need for freedom and activity, these adjustments ought, in my opinion, to be on a low level.
The export trade of the United Kingdom is dependent on a restoration of the purchasing power of the wide areas of the world devoted to the production of primary commodities. For instance, if Australia and New Zealand cannot sell their meat, wheat and wool profitably; if India cannot sell her jute and teas, and the West Indies cannot sell their sugar except at a loss, they in turn cannot buy our cotton and woollen goods, and we, in our turn, must inevitably restrict our purchases of raw cotton, and wool. If we are put on a fair competitive basis we can hold our own against the competition of the world. The preferences given in the Dominions aim at stimulating our competitive power. Preferences given in this country aim at the extension of the purchasing power of the Dominions. Preferences, let me say frankly, which are not effective because the tariff is prohibitive are not genuine preference. Each preference should be such as to give a fighting chance for any 1251 enterprising efficient producer within the Empire.
What I personally welcomed at Ottawa was every step towards an expansion of world as well as of Empire trade. I was glad to have had any part or lot with my hon. and right hon. Friends in obtaining a fighting chance for our manufacturers and merchants in the Dominions, and for the Dominion men here. What I would have liked, if I could have had my own way, would have been to take every step towards greater commercial activity, providing the fullest possible employment of our land, works, mills, machinery, ships and railways. It must be recognised, however, that once and for all the Dominions have complete
§ freedom both fiscally and politically. They may in the future use their political freedom and do things which may be disagreeable to the Mother Country, and they may have in the past used their fiscal freedom in a way that was not altogether acceptable to us. But their good will is a priceless possession. What must be done and what will be done is to build on this foundation the future prosperity of the whole Empire. In that cause we ask for the support of this Sovereign Assembly.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 423; Noes, 77.1255
|Division No. 328.]||AYES.||[7.42 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Denville, Alfred|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds. W.)||Butler, Richard Austen||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Butt, Sir Alfred||Dickie, John P.|
|Albery, Irving James||Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Donner, P. W.|
|Alexander, Sir William||Caine, G. R. Hall-||Doran, Edward|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Dower, Captain A. V. G.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)||Drewe, Cedric|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Duckworth, George A. V.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Carver, Major William H.||Duggan, Hubert John|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Cassels, James Dale||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Castlereagh, Viscount||Dunglass, Lord|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Castle Stewart, Earl||Eady, George H.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Eastwood, John Francis|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Eden, Robert Anthony|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Chalmers, John Rutherford||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir. J. A. (Birm., W)||Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey|
|Balniel, Lord||Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Elliston, Captain George Sampson|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Elmley, Viscount|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Christie, James Archibald||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks,. Aylesbury)||Clarry, Reginald George||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portam'th, C.)||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Beit, Sir Alfred L.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Erskine-Boist, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Colman, N. C. D.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)||Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Fermoy, Lord|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Conant, R. J. E.||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Bird Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.)||Cook, Thomas A.||Fleming, Edward Lascelles|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Cooke, Douglas||Fox, Sir Gifford|
|Borodale, Viscount||Cooper, A. Duff||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Boulton, W. W.||Copeland, Ida||Fremantle, Sir Francis|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Fuller, Captain A. G.|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Galbraith, James Francis Wallace|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Cranborne, Viscount||Gillett, Sir George Masterman|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald||Craven-Ellis, William||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Bracken, Brendan||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Glossop, C. W. H.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Crooke, J. Smedley||Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Goff, Sir Park|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Cross, R. H.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Crossley, A. C.||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'ri'd, N.)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham)||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Granville, Edgar|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Grattan- Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Graves, Marjorie|
|Buchan, John||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Greases-Lord, Sir Walter|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T||Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Burghley, Lord||Davison, Sir William Henry||Grimston, R. V.|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Dawson, Sir Philip||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Burnett, John George||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||McLean, Major Alan||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||McLean, Dr, W. H. (Tradeston)||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Magnay, Thomas||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Maitland, Adam||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Hammersley, Samuel S.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Salmon, Major Isidore|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Martin, Thomas B.||Salt, Edward W.|
|Harbord, Arthur||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Hartland, George A.||Meller, Richard James||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Millar, Sir James Duncan||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle)||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Cot. Cuthbert M.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Scone, Lord|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Milne, Charles||Selley, Harry R.|
|Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Milne, Sir John S. Wardlaw-||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Mitchell, Harold P.(Etrtrd & Chisw'k)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Mitcheson, G. G.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Molson, A. Hugh Eisdale||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Mensail, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Here-Belisha, Leslie||Moreing, Adrian C.||Slater, John|
|Hornby, Frank||Morgan, Robert H.||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Horshrugh, Florence||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-In-F.)|
|Howard, Tom Forrest||Morrison, William Shepherd||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Hewitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Moss, Captain H. J.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Muirhead, Major A. J.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Munro, Patrick||Smithers, Waldron|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Murray-Philipson, Hylton Ralph||Somerset, Thomas|
|Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Nall, Sir Joseph||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Hurd, Sir Percy||Nall-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Newton, Sir Douglas George C.||Soper, Richard|
|Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Nicholson, Rt. H n. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Jamieson, Douglas||Normand, Wilfrid Guild||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)|
|Jesson, major Thomas E.||North, Captain Edward T.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Nunn, William||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||O'Connor, Terence James||Storey, Samuel|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Ormiston, Thomas||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Patrick, Colin M.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Kerr, Hamilton W.||Peake, Captain Osbert||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Kimball, Lawrence||Pearson, William G.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Kirkpatrick, William M.||Penny, Sir George||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Percy, Lord Eustace||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Knehworth, Viscount||Perkins, Waiter R. D.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Knight, Holford||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Templeton, William P.|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Petherick, M.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, B'nstaple)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'prn, Blist'n)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Thompson, Luke|
|Law, Sir Alfred||Pike, Cecil F.||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Potter, John||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Leckie, J. A.||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Lees-Jones, John||Power, Sir John Cecil||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Leigh. Sir John||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Train, John|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Pybus, Percy John||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Levy, Thomas||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Lewis, Oswald||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Llewellin, Major John J.||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Ramsden, E.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd. Gr'n)||Rankin, Robert||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'ndsw'th)||Ratcliffe, Arthur||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Lockwood. John C. (Hackney, C.)||Ray, Sir William||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham-||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Lymington, Viscount||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Remer, John R.||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Renwick, Major Gustav A.||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Robinson, John Roland||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Ropner, Colonel L.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Rosbotham, S. T.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Wise, Alfred R.|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Ruggies-arise, Colonel E. A.||Withers, Sir John James|
|Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount||Worthington, Dr. John V.||TELLERS FOR ME AYES.—|
|Womersley, Walter James||Wragg, Herbert||Captain Margesson and Mr. Blindell.|
|Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Milner, Major James|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hall, F. (York, W. r., Normanton)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Banfield, John William||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Price, Gabriel|
|Bernays, Robert||Harris, Sir Percy||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Hicks, Ernest George||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Briant, Frank||Holdsworth, Herbert||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hopkinson, Austin||Rothschild, James A. de|
|Cape, Thomas||Janner, Barnett||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Jenkins, Sir William||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||John, William||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Curry. A. C.||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Thorne, William James|
|Dagger, George||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|Edwards, Charles||Lawson, John James||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||White, Henry Graham|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Lunn, William||Williams, Dr. John H. (Lianelly)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Mabane, William||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||McKeag, William||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglessa)||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||TELLERS FOR THE NOES. —|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Mender, Geoffrey le M.||Mr. G. Macdonald and Mr. Groves.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Mlddlesbro' W.)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
Main Question put, and agreed to.