HC Deb 25 May 1933 vol 278 cc1410-2

10.55 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 11, line 20, to leave out paragraph (b)

We desire to have an explanation from the Government as to why it has been necessary to change the old definition of the Act of 1919. Perhaps the hon. Member will give us that explanation.

10.56 p.m.


I was under the impression that the Amendment had been put down as a request for an explanation and have so framed my reply. The effect of the Amendment would be to leave quite unchanged the position as to Imperial Preference under Section 8 of the Finance Act of 1919. Two points arise on this Clause; one the meaning of the word "labour," and the second, as to whether in discussing Empire content the United Kingdom counts as part of the Empire. It is very necessary to see that the definition of "labour" is watertight. The words used in this Clause are watertight, and the United Kingdom under paragraph (b) does come within the Empire for the purpose' of calculating Empire content. A case has recently arisen of the export of goods from the United Kingdom to Canada being included in a Canadian article for the purpose of increasing the Empire content. Under the legislation as it is at present there seems to be a doubt whether United Kingdom goods can count in the calculation. It is for that reason that these words, which are calculated to define "labour," and Empire content, making the United Kingdom contribution part of the Empire content, are necessary.


I should have thought that the old words "as the result of labour" are fairly simple to understand. Now there are to be substituted the words: is derived from expenditure of a kind so prescribed which has been incurred in the British Empire or the United Kingdom. How that makes it clearer what "labour" means I entirely fail to understand. I understand "labour," but I do not understand why that which "is derived from expenditure of a kind so prescribed" can be a definition of "labour." Perhaps the hon. Member will explain.


I will do my best. "Labour" has been defined as including cost of materials of Empire origin. The new definition enables the United Kingdom to be brought within Empire origin.


Really, I am sorry, but I must trouble the hon. Member again. The result of labour is something which everybody understands, but what is meant by the words "is derived from expenditure of a kind so prescribed"? Why is the criterion now to be not the labour which is expended but the expenditure which presumably refers to money and not to labour "of a kind so prescribed." Why has the emphasis been changed from the place where the labour is carried out to the place where the money is expended? It might be an entirely different place. The labour may be expended in one place while the payment may be made in another country altogether.


The object of the Clause is to estimate a proportion and value attributable to Empire material and labour. The object is that the proportion of the finished article which reaches this country should have a given minimum of Empire content. The word "labour" is a comprehensive term which can mean a great deal or very little. You are endeavouring to put into that word the cost of materials, wages, factory overhead charges, and cost of labour of packing for retail sale. That is a very wide interpretation to give to one word. So it is proposed to substitute the identical meaning in a broad sense of what is desired by saying that you must have expenditure in respect of materials or work done and you give the proper power to prescribe by regulation what that expenditure is to include, what is to come within it. It is to give a workmanlike set of words to produce the identical result desired.


My cross-examination having failed completely, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clauses 14 (Substitution of a specific duty for general ad valorem duty,)15 ((Amendment as to additional duties under) 22 & 23 Geo. 5.c. 8), 16 (Applica-cation to embroidered goods of 22 & 23 Geo. 5. c. 8.s. 14), 17 (Extension of 22 & 23 Geo. 5. c. 8 s. 14 as respects goods subjected to a process abroad), 18 (Miscellaneous amendments as to goods dutiable under 15 & 16 Geo, 5. c. 36, s. 3 and 11 & 12 Geo. 5. c. 47) and 19 (Deduction from duty repaid under 15 & 16 Geo. 5. c. 36, s. 3), ordered to stand part of the Bill.