§ 3.39 p.m.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Dr. Burgin)
I beg to move,That the Bacon (Import Regulation) Order, 1933, dated the seventh day of November, nineteen hundred and thirty-three, made by the Board of Trade under the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1933, a copy of which was presented to this House on the eighth day of November, nineteen hundred and thirty-three, be approved.The House will recall that imports of bacon and ham from foreign countries have been controlled since November of last year. In that month, owing to the collapse of the meat market, emergency arrangements were made for controlling the importation of all kinds of meat, and at the same time it was arranged to reduce the importation of bacon and hams by 15 per cent. The Government announced on the 19th December last that they accepted in principle the recommendations of the Reorganisation Commission for pigs and pig products, generally known as the Lane Fox Commission. The basis of those recommendations was that in order to establish the home bacon industry on a firm basis of annual contracts, the total supply of bacon and hams should be limited in the first instance to a quantity of rather over 10,500,000 cwts. per annum. This was estimated to be the average supply available in the years 1825–30. It was decided to continue the reduction of foreign imports gradually so as to reach the Lane-Fox level in the autumn when the first home contracts could be made and the Ministry of Agriculture were able to obtain the assent of the bacon exporting countries to the successive reductions.
The reductions were calculated on the general assumption that the home supply would, when the contracts were made, be found to be in the neighbourhood of 2,000,000 cwts. In fact, when the contracts were actually made the total home supply was found to be no less than 3,000,000 cwts. per annum. In those circumstances the Government had no option but to effect a corresponding reduction in the imports of foreign countries. They endeavoured to secure this by voluntary arrangement. Unfortunately, certain countries, and in 944 particular the country chiefly affected, namely, Denmark, which has a treaty right to 62 per cent, of the total importation from foreign countries, could not see their way to accept so sudden and drastic a reduction by way of voluntary agreement. I should like to make clear to the House that there is no sort of complaint against the attitude of the Danish Government, for throughout the period of voluntary restriction that Government has helped His Majesty's Government in every possible way, but they did not feel, if I may interpret their attitude, that they could impose upon their farmers a reduction of the magnitude required without the sanction of a compulsory order made on our side. One or two other countries demurred, and therefore it became necessary for the Board of Trade to exercise the powers which they possess under Section 1 of the Agricultural Marketing Act of the present Session.
The Order which is before the House was accordingly made by the President of the Board of Trade on the 7th November. The Order is of the simplest character, and, as hon. Members will observe, it consists of a preamble, 11 numbered paragraphs and a schedule. Paragraph 1 applies the prohibition. Paragraph 2 shows by reference to the schedule the countries which are affected. They are Argentina, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland and Dantzig, Sweden, United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Paragraph 3, to which I call the attention of the House, provides that if imports from another country exceed the rate of 400 cwt. a week, they shall automatically come within the terms of the prohibition. Paragraph 4 provides for publication of the fact in the "Board of Trade Journal." Paragraph 5 makes the machinery of the Customs Consolidation of 1876, Section 42, applicable. Hon. Members will recollect that that is the Section dealing with prohibited goods. Paragraph 6 makes it clear that the licence creates no monopoly, that a licence is revocable at any time, and that the Board of Trade may grant it on such terms and conditions as they think proper to the importer. Paragraph 7 shows that the permitted import can take place either under a licence or by means of an 945 approved certificate granted by an exporting Government. Paragraph 8 gives the Commissioners of Customs power to decide questions as to the country of origin. Paragraph 9 deals with transhipment, and paragraphs 11 and 12 are definitions and title.
The actual quantities will be fixed from time to time. Under the existing arrangements the total importation from foreign countries in the period from the 10th November, 1933, to the 28th February, 1934, will be a little over 1,900,000 cwt. That quantity is at present divided among the several countries on an agreed basis, but the allocation is provisional only and is subject to further discussion with the countries concerned. The House will notice that there is no definite allocation of quantities among the various exporting countries merely because the matter is under consideration and some of the quantities allotted are merely provisional. The House will wish to know how far this re-arrangement of the sources from which bacon is to be obtained will affect distribution and consumption. It is inevitable that a change in the sources of supply of bacon which this Order enforces must to some extent have an effect upon the existing channels of distribution. That aspect of the matter has received and will continue to receive the closest attention of the Board of Trade and of the sub-committee dealing specifically with bacon and hams of the Meat Advisory Committee of which Lord Linlithgow is chairman. Representatives of the distributors of bacon are included on that subcommittee.
So far as imported bacon is concerned, there is in existence a gentleman s agreement to which the distributors are party, and the object of that agreement is to avoid as far as possible any drastic changes in existing channels of distribution of imported bacon due to the absorption by one distributor of more than a fair share of the restricted supply. The Government trust that the trade will continue to work loyally in the spirit of this agreement and will assist, if experience shows that it can be improved, in bringing about the improvements desired. The Order which the House is now asked to approve will necessitate considerable changes in the sources from which dis- 946 tributors draw their supplies of bacon, but the Government have every confidence that those concerned in the distributive trade and the mechanism of that trade will be adjusted as rapidly as possible to meet the changed circumstances; and the Government rely on having the full support of the trade in carrying through their plan.
So far as the consumer is concerned, the Board of Trade, in settling the terms of any import Order, must among other considerations have regard to the interests of the consumer of the products to which the Order relates. Bacon imports have to be regulated row because without that regulation the reorganisation of the bacon industry under pigs and bacon marketing schemes cannot be brought about or cannot be maintained. Imports have to be regulated to the extent to which is is necessary to make those schemes work. The Government are not aiming at establishing any definite price level for bacon, or of maintaining it at that level by juggling with supplies. The policy of the Government is to stabilise supplies in a definite manner, and the figure is based on the calculations of the Lane Fox Commission on the basis of a normal supply. There is a Market Supply Committee whose business it will be to examine the figure having regard to all considerations, including the interests of the consumer. It is the confident belief that a more or less steady price level will result. The House is asked to approve the Order in order to carry out a policy of which it has already itself approved. The Order is necessary in the circumstances which I have outlined, and I ask approval for it.
§ 3.51 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
As usual, the Parliamentary Secretary was not only perfectly lucid but, as always in the past, he almost converted those of us who sit on these benches, and I believe that he nearly converted himself, to the belief that the policy he is advocating is the right one. I have heard him make some marvellous Free Trade speeches, and I have never heard arguments submitted by any opponent of Free Trade which could undermine the arguments of the hon. Gentleman when he was still a Free Trader. Now, to the hon. Gentleman's credit, he can justify either regulation, 947 control, Protection, or any sort of bargaining, just as clearly and lucidly as he used to be able to justify the system of Free Trade. We all appreciate the lucidity of the hon. Gentleman, and I think he is a very apt student of the honourable profession to which he is 'attached. What the hon. Gentleman, and also the Minister of Agriculture, seem to imagine, however, is that there is no alternative to the simple process of organising scarcity. We regret that the Minister of Agriculture should have ignored some of the fundamental recommendations of the Pig and Bacon Commission. The Parliamentary Secretary said they had accepted the Commission's recommendations in principle. I think I shall be able to show that what they have done is to accept those parts of the Commission's report which satisfy their purpose and ignore those parts not in accord with their desires. Paragraph (b) of the Order states:that without an Order under that Section the effective organisation and development of the said branches of the agricultural industry in the United Kingdom under such scheme as aforesaid cannot be brought about or maintained.By this Order, and action taken during the past several months for the restriction of supplies, the right hon. Gentleman satisfies us, at all events, that this is the only policy of the Government, and that they have never for a moment considered the possibility, since large supplies of bacon at very cheap prices are available, of establishing a board which would purchase those supplies, and provide the requisite machinery for distribution; and if, in the process of buying cheaply, they slightly increase prices so as to enable them to help the farmers, they could build new places to increase home-produced supplies. They never seem to have given a single thought to that side of the question. We have 2,500,000 people unemployed, and very few of them ever have an opportunity of purchasing bacon even at cheap prices. Instead of deliberately organising a scarcity of supplies, is it beyond the wit of the Government to consider the possibility of increasing imports of those commodities which are very cheap, and distributing them among the unemployed and the poorest of the poor? While paragraph (b) of the Order refers to the need for reorganisation, it seems 948 to me that Section 1, Sub-section (3) of the Act has had little or no consideration, despite the reference made by the Parliamentary Secretary. It says:In deciding whether to make an Order under this Section, and in settling the termsand so forth, they are to have regard to the interests of the consumers. In view of what has happened during the past summer, and is happening now, they do not seem to have given a lot of consideration to the consumer. Later the same sub-section states that they are to have regard tothe effect which the regulation of the importation of that product into the United Kingdom is likely to have upon commercial relations between the United Kingdom and other countries.I think I shall be able to show that not only has the consumer been disregarded but that our trading relations with other countries have been dangerously disturbed. While the right hon. Gentleman said some time ago that the time had now arrived when it was not a question of using the pruning knife but the hatchet, it seems to me that he has been wielding the hatchet during the summer, and is wielding it now during the winter, in a way not only to disturb the price level but to impose a terriffic burden upon would-be consumers of bacon drawn from the lower ranks of society. Efficient organisation we are anxious to see of course, and wherever we can help the farmer to help himself without adversely affecting the consumer we are anxious to do so. Where a real economic price which is as fair to the producer as to the consumer can be stabilised it is part of the Labour party's policy to bring that about, but merely to wield the hatchet so as to put off the lower layers of society as consumers of bacon seems to be a policy which in the end will defeat itself.
At long last farmers have been taught, largely by the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessor, Dr. Addison, that their ultimate prosperity lies in co-operation. On page 11 of their report the Reorganisation Commission enumerate the many weaknesses in the agricultural industry in this country. On page 17 they declare that if home production is to expand, then certain other things will have to be done; and on page 18 they definitely state what safeguards the Minister ought to put in hand. They say regulation of 949 imports is necessary, but that it is most necessary to safeguard the consumer and other public interests. On page 23, when referring to a quota, they make this statement:The effect of a quota in the present condition of our supply will be to reduce the quantity of bacon available for purchase, and, therefore, precaution must be taken to ensure that the whole of the reduced supply is forthcoming.What has the Minister done? I think I shall be able to show that he has not only not safeguarded the consumer, but that he has failed to take such steps as will ensure that the restricted imports are going to be met by increased supplies in this country. The Order with which we are now dealing not only justifies what the Minister wants to do in the future, but justifies and confirms all that he has done in the past. That is why we should like to examine the way in which he has been using the hatchet in regard to our imports of bacon. In the first place, he applies a restriction of approximately 17 per cent., and the result of that restriction was to be seen early in August this year. In October, 1932, the price of imported Danish bacon was 52s. per cwt. The "News-Chronicle" which, unfortunately, many Liberals have deserted, stated on 11th August this year that in London on 10th August the wholesale price of Danish bacon rose by 6s. a cwt., and was then 84s. per cwt. The result was that the British housewife paid on the average about 3d. per lb. more for her bacon than she would pay if there were no quota restrictions. That seems to indicate that the right hon. Gentleman, in the first place, failed to pay due regard to the interest of the consumer. Since August we have witnessed a continuous increase in the price of foreign bacon until it has reached about 98s. per cwt.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I am going to refer to what I regard as authoritative sources in a moment. I said that the price in October, 1932, of imported Danish bacon was 52s. per cwt. As a result of restrictions plus farmers withholding supplies 950 hoping for enhanced prices, the shortage was very acute at certain periods during this year, so much so that figures given in a Written Answer to a question this week showed that the price in March was l0d. per lb., in June 11 ½d. and in October 1s. 1¼d. Therefore from March to October the price had increased, according to the hon. Gentleman opposite, by 3¼d. a lb. Here is a very recent document, an advertisement by George Bowles, Nicholls, and Company, Limited—I do not know that I ought to advertise the firm without leave—but this was on 11th November. This is what they said:Bacon.—Market officially advanced as follows: Irish, 3s.; Danish, Swedish and Polish, 4s.; Latvian, Lithuanian and Canadian, 5s.; Dutch, 7s. to 9s.; all up. This is the direct result of the cut in supplies. The advance is moderate and reasonable, in face of the lighter supplies, although, of course, it must be passed straight along to the consumer.That was on 11th November, so that prices are constantly on the up-grade.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I am sure the hon. Member will not fail to realise that this advance is much below the price of 98s., of which he has spoken.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The right hon. Gentleman replied to a question of mine on Monday. These are the figures he himself gave to me. I am sure if I quote any figure at all it will be one drawn from official sources. I shall certainly try to avoid making any mis-statement of fact on this question. I asked the President of the Board of Trade on Mondaythe average wholesale and retail prices for imported and home-produced bacon for each month during the present year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1933; col. 571,.]The Parliamentary Secretary, in reply, gave the prices of Danish bacon from January to October last, ranging between 67s. to 68s., 78s. 9d., 98s. and 88s. 6d. per cwt. in October. Those are not figments of my own imagination, but figures produced by the Board of Trade. I was interested in the reply which was given by the President of the Board of Trade yesterday to the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) who asked the right hon. Gentleman:If he is aware of the recent increase in the price of bacon; and whether it is proposed to refer the matter to the Food Council for consideration?951 The President of the Board of Trade replied:There was an increase in the wholesale price of certain classes of bacon last week, but the movement on the whole has been in the downward direction since the beginning of September. In these circumstances, I see no occasion for a special reference to the Food Council."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th November, 1933; col. 746;.]In September, according to the right hon. Gentleman, the price was 98s. per cwt. and in October it was 88s. 6d., but by 11th November according to George Bowles, Nicholls and Company, Limited, the price was anything up from 3s. to 7s. a cwt., and it seems to me that the reply yesterday rather missed the point, when we compare the price of Danish bacon now with that of nine months ago. As the result of the direct action taken by the Minister of Agriculture and the President of the Board of Trade, they have lifted the price paid to Danish farmers from 50s. odd to 80s. odd per cwt. I happen to have been in Copenhagen in August this year, when the price reached 88s. 6d. per cwt., and in consultation with the chiefs of the co-operative exporters, I put the plain, blunt question to them: "What do you think, on the basis of present food prices, is the real economic price to the Danish farmer? What would be a fair, reasonable price?" and I was informed that 70s. per cwt. would satisfy them.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Yes, but we insist on paying them 88s. per cwt. "Why," I asked, "should you complain if we give you 18s. more than you really need?" The reply was that they must not look to these transactions, but must look to the future, for they were hoping that Denmark would export for many years ahead. If the British consumer is called upon to pay a price in excess of his income, several millions of the poorest people in the country will no longer be bacon consumers. Consumption will go down, and, obviously, purchases will decrease, and the second state, both for British people and Danish farmers, will be actually worse than the first. So that from the point of view of the consumer, one section has been ignored by the right hon. Gentleman. We have not safeguarded the consumer in this country, 952 nor have we safeguarded our relations with Denmark.
I come the right hon. Gentleman's acceptance of the Reorganisation Commission's recommendations in principle. The Commission declared that for a period of six years our annual consumption of bacon ranged about 10,700,000cwt., but for 1931 the imports were abnormal, and we found ways and means of consuming about 13,250,000 cwt. Said the right hon. Gentleman, "That is too much bacon for the British people to consume. Therefore, we have got to devise ways and means of cutting down available supplies." To cut down available supplies they recommended a figure. They said, "We must no longer eat 13,250,000 cwt.; 10,000,000 cwt. is sufficient. Therefore, the Government must see to it that imports and home produce meet that figure." I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman as a doctor whether we are counselled to eat a small quantity of bacon for health reasons, or for just what reason are we to eat less bacon in future? Is it simply that we can only afford to eat a lot of bacon as long as we are paying 110s. a cwt. for it? Apparently, we are counselled not to eat much bacon if we can buy it at 58s. a cwt., but as long as we pay 110s. a cwt. for it, it is quite right for consumers to eat as much as they can get hold of. That seems to be the policy of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman will probably tell us something about that.
The second phase of these restructions has got a clear relation to the right hon. Gentleman's anticipations of the home product. The farmers know that the Ministry is going to take further action, so that they withhold from the market available home supplies. The shortage becomes acute and the price increases. The moment, therefore, the bacon factories offer enhanced prices to home producers, large stocks of bacon are hurled at them. The right hon. Gentleman issued a statement in which he said that home production was going to exceed all his expectations and, therefore, they would have to provide opportunities for the absorption of home-produced bacon. The Minister, therefore, proceeds to persuade the President of the Board of Trade that nothing short of a further restriction of 20 per cent, will do.
953 What is the right hon. Gentleman's calculation? He says that because home producers of bacon enter into contracts to supply 620,000 pigs for a period, he calculates that three such periods will show such an increase in home produce that it will raise approximately 1,250,000 cwt. in excess of the normal produce of this country, namely, 1,750,000 cwt., or 3,000,000 cwt. in all. The Reorganisation Commission calculate an increase of 10 per cent. in home output for each four months. My figures and my calculations may be wrong, but the recommendations of the Commission are clear. Our home production is approximately 1,750,000 cwt. They therefore recommend that contracts be made on the basis of a 10 per cent. increase for the four months, that is, 30 per cent. increase in 12 months. That would amount to something slightly in excess of 500,000 cwt., but the right hon. Gentleman has said that because all those pigs have been sent on to the factory owners at once, the increase is not to be 500,000 cwt. in 12 months, but 1,250,000 cwt., and he proceeds to restrict in accordance with that calculation.
What does his last Order mean? It means that, on the basis of the restrictions for the last quarter of this year, which are from approximately 3,000,000 cwt. to 2,000,000 cwt., or a reduced import of 1,000,000 cwt., he will, assuming that the same percentage of restriction is to be made, restrict imports by 4,000,000 cwt. He will tell me, of course, that the Order is revocable, and that he can reduce the restrictions, but, on the basis of the present restrictions, 4,000,000 cwt. of bacon will be excluded from this country. I will assume that the calculations of the Royal Commission are correct, and that we increased our output by just over 500,000 cwt. in 12 months. Therefore, there will be just over 3,500,000 cwt. less bacon supplies available for consumers in this country, or 1,000,000 cwt. less than was recommended by the Commission itself. That can only reflect itself in the prices paid by consumers.
There is another unfortunate effect of this Order. In April, 1933, we entered into a trade agreement with Denmark. All agreements carry with them a spirit as well as a letter. The present Order seems to have violated the spirit of that 954 Treaty when in Clauses 1 to 3 it refers to our trading relations with foreign countries. It is true, as the Parliamentary Secretary stated, that the Government sought a voluntary agreement, but Denmark refused to enter into it, saying that it was impossible suddenly to reduce their import of bacon to this country without previous notice having been given and for them to accommodate themselves to the new situation. They truly said, through their national spokesman, that when they entered into the agreement in April of this year they thought that their imports of pig meat would remain pretty much the same as hitherto. The figures recorded in the agreement were 62 per cent, of foreign imports. They never contemplated for a moment that the restriction would be so damaging as that which we are now imposing upon them.
Some of their spokesmen have expressed themselves in very definite terms. For instance, the "Financial News" of this country for 30th October, 1933, commenting upon this Order, declared:Naturally, the Danes, who have been supplying over half our bacon and will now have to cut down their imports by nearly 1.000,000 cwt., are roused to indignation. It is true that when, under the Commercial Treaty signed six months ago, they undertook to take 80 per cent, of their coal imports from the United Kingdom, they exposed themselves to this procrustean fate, since they failed to secure a minimum quota for their bacon imports to this country as they did for eggs and butter. Hut with the best will in the world the Danes cannot buy as many of our goods if we pay them soma £2,500,000 less for their bacon. And how shall there be good will if we deal so sudden and deadly a blow at their principal industry?That seems to be a perfectly legitimate observation, just as though it came from the mouth of the Danish people themselves. To say that the right hon. Gentleman is merely disturbing Denmark by these hatchet blows is to put it very mildly indeed. We regard this as a serious action on the part of the Minister. We are anxious, as we know him to be, to get farmers to co-operate, but this is a very poor substitute for a well-thought-out policy. We think that the restrictions have been too precipate, and that they are calculated in the end not to get the farmer in this country blessed but to get the whole situation cursed.
We are convinced that the right hon. Gentleman is disturbing tremendously 955 trade relations with other countries. I am certain that the next coal exporters from Hull and elsewhere who enter into discussions with our Danish friends in regard to their 80 per cent, purchases of coal, imposed upon them by the trade agreement, will find the amount considerably below the supply being taken at this moment. If we disturb their trade enormously, as we have done by this restriction, we must expect that the reaction will express itself at our coal pits and our mines at home, where more, and not fewer, miners will be out of work.
We think that there is one thing that the Minister of Agriculture might have done with his progressive ideas. He might have persuaded the Government in a certain direction, and the President of the Board of Trade, who in 1933, is a different person from the one I used to know in 1928, would have gone a long way towards supporting him. Even Viscount Astor has come to our assistance in stating that, if the quota system must be applied, it ought to be accompanied by import boards. There is no reason why we should compel bacon producers to sell cheap bacon to Germany or somewhere else, thus reducing the cost of living in those places and enabling their employers to reduce wages, as a result of which Germans, Frenchmen or somebody else will undercut producers in this country. We think that that bacon ought to have been available for us, and that we ought to have made use of it. We ought to have provided a machine whereby we could have continued to purchase, and to have provided a fund out of the purchases and the sale of imported bacon and whereby we could, perhaps, have helped the British producer of bacon to tide over the transitional period from the production of 1,750,000 cwts. to 3,000,000 cwts.
We are anxious that more people should be employed on the land, and to assist efficient production wherever we can. We also want to see that the interests of the consumer are safeguarded, and we certainly want to preserve good relations with foreign countries. If we Oppose this Order, it is not because we are not anxious to help agriculture, but because we prefer that trade with friendly Powers, instead of being sterilised, should rapidly and freely expand with spending power in the hands 956 of the right people. We feel obliged to enter the Division Lobby against this Order because of the precipitate action taken by the right hon. Gentleman, and his failure to produce a policy. He will go down to history, not so much as a Minister of Agriculture, but as the slasher of somebody else's rasher.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ Sir PERCY HARRIS
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has been moved to indignation. The history of the last 12 months indicates that the interesting experiment in which the Ministry of Agriculture have been engaged will not be without value if it has taught Members of the Government that it is not easy to embark upon experiments of this kind without all sorts of quite unexpected reactions in various directions. I might describe the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade as the whipping boy of the Government. He is always put up for these little jobs, because he does them so sweetly, like someone offering a little child a harmless and ordinary dose of medicine that will have no effect upon the patient. I think that the Minister of Agriculture will agree that the policy of the Government is having repercussions upon the industry of agriculture and upon the taxpayer the end of which cannot be foreseen, but which may be disastrous. The consumer certainly is already seriously affected.
I know that there are many interpretations of the result of a certain by-election. I have no doubt that the fear of war and a desire for peace were big factors, but I am credibly informed that the price of bacon had a very big influence upon the interest taken in it in working-class homes. I know that in the East End of London the unemployed, who have shown exemplary patience under the greatest difficulty, are aroused at the present time to anger in a way that is far more serious than at any time in the last three or four years. The ordinary public understands about these things, because they read the papers. In the East End of London they are in close contact with the docks where in many cases the breadwinner has already been thrown out of work by the policy of the Government. When he comes home and the housewife complains about the price of bacon, naturally their indignation is aroused. The 957 patience that they have exercised for so long is becoming exhausted. I am talking about what is actually happening.
The effect of this policy is naturally being felt at the docks. There are not the quantities coming in from Denmark and the Northern States. Not only that, but the same amount of bacon is not being handled by the distributors. I heard this afternoon, from one of the largest dealers in the market in London, that one of the results of the decrease of the consumption of bacon, as the result of higher prices, has not only been fewer men employed in the docks but fewer employed in the distribution, smoking and other branches of this very important article of food. Naturally there is indignation. The Government will have to bring forward far stronger arguments than those which the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade deigned to bring forward to justify this new policy.
Then there is another matter. The taxpayer has to pay. It would not be in order for me to follow that point, but I understand that a subsidy is now to be given to the bacon curers in order to compensate them for the gross miscalculation of the quantities that are being poured in upon them, as a result of the Government's policy. I agree with the hon. Gentleman when he says that this House has a great responsibility towards agriculture, and I should regret it if anything I said were to suggest that the Government had been justified in ignoring that responsibility. The responsibility is there, but I would remind the House and the Government that the depression in agriculture is not confined to this country, but is universal throughout the world, and I am satisfied that we shall never find a solution for it except by co-operation between the States of the world in dealing with such problems as currency, distribution, and, if you like, intelligent regulation. But this is one-sided; it is merely an attempt to do something in a hurry under pressure as a result of this report. The authors of the report are, no doubt, very able and competent people, who have studied the problem, but I venture to say that they have looked at it from a very one-sided angle.
It may be said with reason—and I am sure it will be said by my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams): Why should not the 958 consumer eat English bacon? I agree; I am all in favour of advertising and stimulating the consumption of home produce, because that is better for the consumer on the whole, and it is good for our agriculture. But it is a question of price. As regards price, bacon is one of the most sensitive articles of any in the country. Anyone who will take the trouble to make inquiries, either of the distributors or of the public, will find that price is the great factor. A rise in the price of bread does not affect consumption. People go on buying bread. They may resent the rise in price, but the number of loaves coming into the house remains pretty stable. Bacon, however, which is really the luxury of the ordinary working-class home, is most sensitive to price, and the only result of bringing the price above a certain level is that consumption immediately goes off. I am told to-day by one of the greatest experts in the trade that already, within the last few months, the habits of many working-class families have been changed. Certainly, as a result of the increase in price, the distributor is selling more in value—that is to say, he is selling the same quantity at a higher price; but the consumption goes down like a barometer as the price goes up, and substitutes are coming into use, like coined beef, cheese, and other articles of diet. I think the Minister of Agriculture will bear me out in that. Therefore, to embark upon this new policy in a hurry, without adequate inquiry as to the effect on the consumer, seems to be disastrous. It might be possible, at a time of great prosperity, when there was no unemployment and when wages were high, to seduce the consumer from buying the cheap, good quality bacon and persuade him to use instead home produce, but at a time of unemployment, when wages are low, the only result is to react on the actual consumption.
I am going to be bold and refer to the effect on Denmark. I know that I shall be laying myself open to the suggestion that I am a friend of every country but my own, but I am not speaking as a friend of Denmark, but as a friend of Great Britain, looking upon Denmark as one of our best and most friendly customers, who is prepared and willing by tradition and history to trade with us. This country is practically the sole consumer, or at any rate the main consumer, 959 of Danish bacon, and, as this excellent report of the Reorganisation Committee points out, the Danish bacon-curing industry has been built up to meet the requirements of Great Britain, having no other outlet. What must the effect be? I have heard a lot during the last few months in our Debates about the policy of retaliation—that, if you want to get good conditions from a country, you must have the tariff weapon. Now we are using the butt end of that weapon. We are using the tariff weapon, not to encourage trade with another country, but to stop it. The inevitable result, as my hon. Friend rightly points out, will be a decreased demand from Denmark for our coal.
It was a great triumph for the President of the Board of Trade that he was able to come down and say that, as the result of his apostasy, of his departure from his Free Trade policy, he had been able to make good trade bargains with Denmark, Argentina and so on. Now he is giving up the whole thing. He has to acknowledge that the Minister of Agriculture has been too strong for him, and has robbed him of his instrument, because the Danish producer, who is so seriously affected, who depends so much on the prosperity of his bacon industry, has to recognise one of two things: Either the consumer will have to go on giving double the price for his product, which will, of course, have reactions ultimately on the demand, or he will have to look for other markets for his product; and, in looking for other markets, as I am told they are already doing, the tendency will be to buy their manufactured goods, not from Great Britain, which previously was their principal source of supply, but from Germany and other continental countries. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend who interrupts me—I know the purpose of his interruption—says that Denmark has not in the past bought from us so much as she has sold to this country; but the policy of my right hon. Friend is to change that, and his purpose is not being helped by this unfortunate action of the Government. In all these things we should not be narrow-minded; we should look at the general well-being of the country; but, while I agree that the Government are justified in trying to reorganise agriculture, I am satisfied that in trying to help agriculture they are 960 doing the right thing in the wrong way. They are trying to arrive at the results which have been brought about in Denmark by 25 years of sound policy in six months by bad action and a bad policy. The Danish bacon industry, the Danish butter industry, and the Danish egg industry were built up by 25 years of co-operation—co-operation from below, guided directly by the State. We are trying, without co-operation with the farmers, without the reorganisation of agriculture, to build from above, and the inevitable result is the present chaos and the tremendous rise in prices.
Of course, the conditions are different in Denmark. In Denmark, milk is largely a by-product, and the pigs are fed largely on the skim milk left over from the production of butter. As long as it pays England better to sell its milk in a liquid condition, obviously the pig industry must necessarily be a comparatively minor industry, unable to compete as regards price with the commodities supplied by Denmark. As far as I am concerned, I should feel justified in going down to any working-class constituency and defending a scheme of this kind if it were really in the permanent interest of agriculture and did not cause undue hardship to the consumer; but I am satisfied that this particular scheme does neither the one thing nor the other. It imposes hardships on the consumer, while at the same time bringing our agriculture into the chaotic condition in which it is at present. I am sorry that the Government have made this departure, and I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will explain how he can reconcile it with his new policy of reconciliation with other countries, of tariff negotiation, and of using the tariff system to lower tariffs. At the same time, I hope that the Minister of Agriculture will explain how this new policy can be carried out without undue cost to both the taxpayer and the distributor. I am glad to support the opposition to this Order.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
The hon. Baronet who has just sat down commenced by describing to us one of his hypothetical constituents, who, apparently, was grumbling very severely because her husband, a bacon dock-worker, was now without employment, and she could not afford to buy bacon. I am going to sug- 961 gest to the hon. Baronet that his illustration was hypothetical. He went on to say that what we want is international co-operation in this matter. There are not more out of work than before any action was taken in this matter, and the aggregate imports of a great many commodities have increased as a result of the stimulus of tariffs. Imports of raw materials have increased very materially, as anybody knows who has studied the figures. But the hon. Baronet says he wants international co-operation in this matter. Long words like that cover a multitude of sins and a great deal of ignorance. Is the hon. Baronet prepared, as the result of international co-operation, to see prices go up? He never told us that. If he is not, what does it all mean? It means precisely nothing. It is very fine to tell hypothetical constituents that international co-operation will solve the problem, but in practice they have got to come down at some stage or other to precise figures and a precise policy. I would remind the hon. Baronet that a very substantial number of the unemployed people in this country are unemployed because the countryside is distressed and cannot afford to buy the goods of the town.
Then the hon. Baronet was a little unduly pathetic on behalf of Denmark. I think that Denmark is one of the most attractive countries in the world, and its people are among the most attractive in the world, but they have not given us a square deal. In the last two years, since we adopted a tariff policy, things have improved a little; the value of our imports from Denmark has diminished, and the value of our exports to Denmark has increased. But, even so, according to the figures for the last nine months, which I have in my hand, we imported from Denmark £27,113,000 worth of goods, and we exported to Denmark, of British goods, £8,636,000 worth, and re-exported certain imported goods to the value of £358,000, making altogether roughly £9,000,000; so that the Danes sold to us three times as much as they bought from us. And we know perfectly well, by studying their trade returns, that the bulk of the money which Denmark raised in this country by selling to us primary products was spent in Germany in buying manufactured articles. We are entitled to say to the Danes that they ought to put that right, and I know that a large number of them 962 are only too anxious to correct that appalling disparity.
I was a little surprised that the hon. Baronet did not mention—I might have cheered him if he had done so—the gross infringement of liberty that is involved in this new policy. About that he said nothing. He made a thoroughly anti-protectionist speech, but he did not discriminate between the two kinds of protection. I like what I call the Conservative kind of protection, but in this matter of bacon imports we are having the Socialist kind of protection—detailed and almost day-to-day intervention by the State in the business, based primarily on the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1931, as amended by the Act of 1933, which, in its first Clause, gives these powers for regulating imports. In comparing a quota with a tariff, I think that a tariff is like a fluid fly-wheel, and a quota like the old-fashioned gear. The latter is very jumpy. The fluid fly-wheel adjusts itself automatically to all conditions, whereas the quota has to be violently changed. It represents a tremendous interference with liberty and makes every business a monopoly, and I think there are very grave dangers inherent in it. On the other hand, I recognise that for the next two years and seven months we cannot use the weapon of the tariff as far as bacon is concerned. The President of the Board of Trade in his agreement gives away that weapon. This country has ratified it, and we, are by treaty bound not to use a tariff, and those who would have preferred a tariff have to take the situation as it is.
We have either to support this Order or not. If we reject it, we leave our growing industry completely at the mercy of foreign competition, and at a time of agricultural depression it is obvious that the agricultural industry would be broken to pieces. I cannot follow the advice of the hon. Baronet. I must vote for the Order, because it is the only course open to me if I desire to do something to help the industry, but I would point out to the Government how crude this method is. This year we have paid for bacon about £300,000 more than we paid for it last year to the foreigner. For that £300,000 more we have obtained 19 per cent. less bacon. On the basis of similar quantities, we have in fact given the foreigner £5,000,000 more than we need have given him and, in order to raise 963 the price of 2,000,000 cwt. of British bacon or whatever the precise figure is, we have raised the price of 8,000,000 cwts. of foreign bacon, and that seems to me a most unbusinesslike proceeding.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I am supporting it, because, if I did not, I must accept the destruction of the industy. It is not my fault that I am only given this choice. I should infinitely have preferred a tariff. A small tariff has no effect on prices, though, if you push it up to a certain point, it begins to have an effect on prices. No one is entitled to live cheaply by sweating others. There is a limit below which you are not entitled to go, and, if any commodity is being sold at a price that involves sweating for those who produce it, I do not think there is anyone in the House who would not be prepared to take action. By an appropriate tariff—it wants a little experiment to find out what would be appropriate— you provide an automatic regulator. There is no need to interfere by producing new orders or new negotiations. Every penny that is paid in Customs Duties at least goes into our Exchequer. There is no Customs Duty under the quota system, and the enhanced price goes into the pocket of the foreigner.
It is a thoroughly unsound and unbusinesslike arrangement compared with the superior method of the tariff. For the moment, I profoundly regret that we are not entitled to have it, and, as this is the only way in which I can help the bacon industry, I vote for the Order, but I want to place on record my protest against the adoption of what I regard as an undesirable policy containing in it the seeds of great danger in the future, conceivably corruption, the destruction of liberty, making every trade a monopoly, wasteful in its administration and bad from the revenue point of view. For the moment, it is the only method open to me and I use it, but I look forward to the day when I shall be free to abandon it and choose a very much better weapon for helping an industry which wants help.
§ 4.49 p.m.
§ Mr. LEONARD
The reason for this Order is the position in which the home pig and bacon producing industries find 964 themselves in consequence of the Government policy of quota restrictions on bacon and the operation of the pig and bacon marketing schemes. While I am prepared to admit that those industries require to receive recognition along with others, we must not lose sight of the fact that, in doing so, our actions have direct consequences on the general public, and especially the poorer section of the community, and because of that we are entitled to examine the Government proposals from that angle. In October of this year as against October of last year, a pre-quota year, the price of English bacon rose from 70s. to 85s. whereas Danish bacon, which last year was 52s., has actually increased to 76s. The effect on purchasers cannot be brought into greater relief than by a quotation which I have taken from a report issued by the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society, which states:On a comparison of five weeks trading, the last week in June and four weeks in July, this year with the same five weeks a year ago there was an average increase of 23½ per cent. in the retail price of bacon sold by the society. This higher price coincided with a decrease of nearly 20 per cent in the weight. The net result was that during five recent weeks members paid approximately the same total cash for their bacon, but they actually received for their money over 100 tons less than in the corresponding weeks of 1932.If an organisation confining itself to working-class people can show figures such as that, there can be no finer illustration. But since then retail prices have gone up and the rise has been anything from 4d. to 6d. a lb.—an average of about 50 per cent, increase—and in the case of the cheaper kind, that is, the cuts used by the poorest people, the increase has been nearly 100 per cent.
As far as I can gather, it was generally admitted by those competent to enter into the matter that the farmers could not be expected in the first contract period, between November and February, to enter into contracts covering 400,000 pigs, but the fact of the matter is that they have actually entered into contracts to supply over 620,000 pigs in the first contract period. It will be interesting to have the Minister's observations as to the reason of this difference of nearly a quarter of a million pigs in four months. The Government are to make a loan to the Pig Marketing Board, but the Board 965 will indemnify the curers against losses. That will have to be paid by a levy, I think over a period of two years. So that it appears to me that the Government are creating an artificial shortage through the medium of forcing up prices and that the point will come where either the consumer must cease consuming or must reduce his consumption. The home curers, on the one hand, having guaranteed the farmer certain prices because of the assurances that they assumed the Government were making to him, are now admittedly being faced with losses because the consumer is not buying but is turning, to the extent that he can, to alternatives to bacon. One may find that in the future the industry will be further involved in this tendency, because the Minister is now asking the House to approve of an Order which is intended to create a further shortage of imported bacon and send up prices still higher. What is the use of that when the consumer cannot even afford present prices? If the bacon curer still finds himself unable to make a profit, what is to happen? Is the price paid to the farmer for pigs to go down or is a still further subsidy to be granted to overcome the difficulty.
The question of bacon cannot be considered alone. The Minister knows very well that, when the price of one commodity becomes too high, buyers endeavour to get a substitute for it. If bacon is dear, they may turn to eggs, fish or cheese. A policy of forcing up prices is making that effort more evident in working-class homes than it was previously. The difficulty is that there are very few substitutes that they can now turn to and, if the Government pursue this policy, all avenues which were once alternatives will be closed. Consumers are already paying £6,000,000 for the wheat quota. We have a quota for meat. I have a statement here by the Secretary of State for the Dominions in the "News Letter" of October last year:It will, of course, mean—it is intended to mean—that the price of mutton and lamb to the consumers in this country will rise.That is one alternative that will be closed to those who are dissatisfied with the price of bacon. We have at present a Commission sitting on eggs and poultry. They will also lightly assume a similar attitude, and similar action will be taken 966 as is proposed here. We also recollect that the chairman of the Milk Marketing Board has been discussing matters with the New Zealand people, attempting to persuade them to restrict exports of cheese to this country with a view to raising prices. We are entitled to assume that this is bearing very harshly on consumers, whose wages are not following the same tendency. I think the whole policy of quotas is wrong and, because of that, I am supporting the proposal to reject the Order. The Lord President of the Council in his New Year message to the Conservative party stated:The fallacy of prohibitive tariffs lies in the assumption that a country may thus make itself prosperous in a poverty-stricken world. This is a delusion.I agree with that, but if it is true with regard to a tariff, which may be prohibitive, it is even more true with regard to a quota, which actually is prohibitive. The Financial Secretary in the "Times" on 1st June makes this definite statement with regard to tariffs as against quotas:This was an age of quotas and exchange restrictions. This was not an age of tariffs. Tariffs were very simple obstacles compared with the new obstacles to trade which we were resolved to remove.Is this a method adopted by the Government to remove an obstacle to trade which is even more potent in killing trade than a tariff? My last point is with regard to the increasing cost of living. According to the figures taken from the "Gazette," I find that in Juno the figure was 36 per cent, above 1914, in July 38 per cent., in August 39 per cent., in September 41 per cent., and in October 41 per cent. If the policy of the Government continues, I think the cost of living will go up even further. I will quote from a letter which I have in my possession from one of the largest buyers of bacon in Scotland:The worst feature of the advance in prices which has occurred over the summer is that the cheaper cuts such as streaks and fores have practically doubled in value, with the result that this type of cut which was so acceptable to the consumer, particularly in areas where purchasing power is at a low ebb, has gone out of the reach of the poorer consumer, who has therefore ceased to be a buyer of bacon at all at the moment.Going back to the beginning of January, there has been an advance on Danish sides compared with the end of September of 35s. per cwt., equal to an increase of 53 per 967 cent. On streaks in the same period there has been an advance of 37s. per cwt., equal to an advance of 168 per cent.These figures place a burden upon the common people of this country, and for this reason I am pleased to associate myself with the opposition to the Order.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
A few minutes ago we listened to a very interesting speech by the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams). He made his position clear that if he had to choose between a tariff and a quota he would certainly choose a tariff. I believe that if the Conservative Members of this House had been allowed a free vote there would have been no question as to what the majority of its Members would have chosen. I said in Committee upstairs that if I was forced to choose between the two I should certainly choose the tariff, although I was opposed both to a tariff and a quota. The absolute result of a quota has been that millions of pounds have been and are being handed over to foreign countries for a less supply of goods brought into this country. The hon. Member for South Croydon also made another point which has always been rather amusing to me. I think he will agree that it is impossible to insist that Denmark should take imports from this country to the exact total in sterling represented by the goods which we take from her. Do we import bacon from Denmark for the good of Denmark? We import bacon from Denmark because we get the best product at the cheapest price. It is hot because we are kind to Denmark that we insist upon taking more than half of our bacon supplies from that particular country. It is because we get a product which can absolutely be relied upon and one which the consumer demands at the lowest possible price. It is futile to bandy words across the Floor of the House of Commons as to whether a small country with a population of 3 3/4 millions could take from this country the same amount as 46,000,000 people take from them. It serves no particular purpose to talk like that. I remember, as will also the Minister of Agriculture and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, making the point upstairs that eventually the consumer would decide 968 the price of bacon and of any other commodity. You cannot for a moment assume that you will be able to dictate to the consumers what they shall pay, particularly in the case of bacon. Let us face the facts. What happens? The ordinary working woman cannot go to a shop and say: "I require a pound of bacon this week at whatever price it is." You and I perhaps may be able to afford it. If bacon goes up 3d. a pound we say that we are sorry about it, but we pay it. But the ordinary working woman, when she has paid the rent and all her weekly charges, has only so much money left, and she has to think what that money will buy. If you keep on putting up prices, undoubtedly the consumption of bacon will be lowered.
The hon. Member for South Croydon rather twitted my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) with raising purely hypothetical questions. I do not want to do that. The House is provided through the Vote Office with what I always find to be a very useful monthly publication— "The Trade and Navigation Returns." We need not be hypothetical in anything we say upon this particular topic. We made the statement upstairs that, unquestionably, if this policy was carried out, the consumption of bacon would go down, and by means of the official publication we can prove that statement up to the hilt. In the month of October, 1932, we imported into this country 1,020,000 cwt. of bacon. In October, 1933, we imported 743,000 cwt., approximately 275,000 cwt. less, with only a difference of £52,000 in cost. I do not think that the Minister of Agriculture will tell me that that difference in importation has been made UD by the production in this country. I am certain that we did not produce 275,000 cwt. more of bacon in this country in the month of October, 1933, than we produced in 1932. So that the first point we made, that the consumption of bacon, both foreign and our own, would go down is absolutely proved by the figures which I have quoted.
It is also very interesting to note that in October, 1932, we imported from Denmark, seeing that Denmark has been quoted—and I have just taken the figures out of that publication—676,000 cwt. at a cast of £1,808,000, and in October, 1933, 424,000 cwt. at a cost of £1,551,000. We 969 imported from Denmark in October of this year one-third less in weight, and we have only paid a quarter of a million pounds less for it. In the 10 months of 1932 we imported into this country from all countries 9,555,000 cwt. at a total cost of £25,193,000. I hope that the House will pay particular attention to those figures, because it is absolutely vital that we should recognise what the schemes of the Minister of Agriculture are costing this country and especially the poor people of this country. At the end of October, 1933, we had imported 7,767,000 cwt. at a cost of £25,491,000, or 1,788,000 cwt. less for £300,000 more than we paid in 1932. I will put it another way. If you work out carefully the figures of October—the latest figures supplied—you will find that whereas the cost works out at a round figure of 53s. 6d. per cwt., we are now insisting upon paying to Denmark for the same quality of bacon, but for less, 73s. for every cwt. imported into this country.
A few weeks ago I was talking to a gentleman who spends half his week in selling bacon. He told me that through all these restrictions he had to ration his customers because of the import duty put on by the Minister of Agriculture. I want to ask the Minister a particular question with regard to paragraph 1 on page 2 of the Statutory Rule:It shall not be lawful to import into the United Kingdom except under licence any bacon produced in any foreign country to which this Order applies.I ask the question merely for information. What are the regulations regarding these licences? Are they restricted to particular people who previously imported, or to particular groups of companies? I spent a fortnight in Denmark going round the farms there, and I know that there are certain companies in England selling for particular slaughterers in Denmark. Are these licences restricted to those particular people, or what sort of policy is followed in deciding whether a licence shall be granted or not? I believe that the whole policy of the right hon. Gentleman is wrong. Its whole idea is misconceived. I remember that when we were upstairs the Parliamentary Secretary turned to me with an air of superior wisdom and said that I did not understand the economy of glut, and I remember replying that I would try and understand that new economy when he could 970 prove to me that every person in this country had sufficient. There can be no glut when there is not sufficient for the people. I know as a fact that in my city of Bradford the poor people, particularly the unemployed in the poorer areas, were able to buy the cheaper cuts of bacon 12 months ago at 4d. a lb. For 4d. you could give a splendid meal to the whole of the family. We in Yorkshire try to be a thrifty people. We do not have butter with our bacon. We use the fat. [An HON. MEMBERS: "For dip?"] That is right. People have told me what a boon it was to the poorest of the people when they could have a bit of bacon, but now they have to go without. Prices have been raised, and in many instances almost doubled, for the poorer cuts of bacon, and what is the result?
Every calculation upon which the Minister based his scheme has been upset. The latest Order has had to be made because there was a gross miscalculation of the production of pigs in this country for bacon. We were told during the discussion of those schemes that a certain percentage rise was to be allowed for during a certain period. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) will remember quite well— and I think that he was right in his statement this afternoon—that every calculation upon which the Minister had based his action has proved to be absolutely unfounded. There is not a single calculation which has justified the policy of the Minister. I believe that the Government will find more opposition in the country because of this policy than because of anything else they have done. If there is one thing the people of this country will not tolerate, it is the artificial raising of food prices. The whole policy is misconceived. Instead of working it from the bottom, they are actually imposing it from the top. They are deciding to have a certain price. I repeat, that unless they can absolutely take hold of the lives of the people and say, "You shall consume so much bacon," they cannot dictate their prices. The old law of supply and demand has not been altered by all the wonderful schemes, suggested by the Minister of Agriculture, which, I hope, will fail to succeed.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I am sure that we have all listened with interest to the Debate, 971 and I rise now with the object of dealing with some of the criticisms which have been made. We in the Ministry of Agriculture are delighted to have this opportunity of discussion, for it is certain that unless we can explain the policy to the people and to the Members of this House, and justify it, we shall not succeed. We shall not have much difficulty in dealing with facts such as those just stated by the hon. Member for South Bradford (Mr. Holdsworth). When I hear an hon. Member from a city which has derived as much advantage from the policy of the Government as that city, get up and declaim against other people having similar advantages, I say that he cannot demand security for the industry of the towns and deny security to the industry of the countryside. When I heard him saying that he hopes these schemes will fail, I turn to what the representatives of his party said in June of this year, when the schemes were brought before the House and when the whole basis of the bacon scheme was no longer anything hidden, but was clearly explained. He did not then vote against it. The spokesman of his party gave it his blessing.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
What we did not vote against was the marketing scheme. This is a totally different thing—artificial restriction of supply.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
The scheme was fully explained to the House, as will be seen in col. 1547 of the OFFICIAL REPORT. I then said:The powers are provided under the Marketing Act, 1931, and the regulation of supplies, which they (the Lane Fox Commission) said was in their view an essential part of the proposal, will be provided under the Marketing Act of 1933."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th June, 1933; col. 1549, Vol. 279.]After that, the spokesman of the hon. Member's party gave the scheme his blessing. The hon. Member cannot play fast and loose with the House of Commons in this way. This is part of the policy which was worked out, in the first place, carefully by the Commission set up not by myself but by the previous Minister of Agriculture and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair), who I am glad to see in his place. It was they and not I who instructed the Commission to 972 work out a scheme for bacon and to investigate the manner in which its operation might be facilitated by the quantitative regulation of imports of bacon. That was the instruction given on the 21st April, on which date the Commission was appointed. It reported at the end of the year and its report has been very thoroughly gone into, has been put into operation, and is working in the way in which it was foreseen it would work by the Commission, and I say now that whoever has the right to attack the working of this scheme, or more particularly the principles of this scheme, it certainly does not lie in the mouths of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway.
§ Major Sir ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR
The right hon Gentleman has said that before, and I do not think he ought to repeat it, because he has been told the true facts. He was told the facts by the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) the last time that he made that statement. The facts are, that we laid down certain conditions on which we would be prepared to agree to the quantitative regulation of imports. Those conditions have been stated publicly in the House. One of the conditions was the safeguarding of the consumer, to which the hon. Member for South Bradford has referred. There were four conditions. They have been repeatedly stated in the House, and I must draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to them again.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
My attention has been drawn not merely to what was said by the right hon. Member for Darwen but what was said by a right hon. Gentleman not so directly concerned as the right hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland, in so far as he was not responsible for signing the minutes for the appointment of the Lane Fox Commission. However much the right hon. Gentleman may seek to evade responsibility for the appointment of that commission, for the terms of reference of his own commission and his own signature, he will not succeed. I do not need to go to the right hon. Gentleman's signature, which he now wishes to evade, or to the terms of reference to the commission, which he drew up, but I will refer to the Debate in the House on the 28th June of this year, when the right hon. Gentleman was no longer a member of the Government, when the proposals 973 to work a quota and a scheme for the restriction of foreign supplies had been explained, canvassed and was in operation. It was after that that the right hon. Gentleman and his party assented, through the mouth of his Leader, to this scheme, and to this method of working.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I find it difficult to deal with my right hon. Friend. He denies the terms of reference, he denies his signature, he denies the commission and now he denies his assent.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
It is somewhat difficult to have to contradict these repeated wild assertions of my right hon. Friend. I have never denied my signature or the terms of reference, which were quite clear. The commission was to consider a scheme for the working of pig marketing in this country and it was considered in that connection that quantitative methods of regulation were advisable, but we never agreed to adopt any recommendations which that commission made. I never put my signature to any such undertaking. The conditions on which we were prepared to agree to such regulation have constantly been mentioned both by the right hon. Member for Darwen and myself.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
My right hon. Friend has not come to the real point, which was this—what did he do on the 28th June of this year. He may say that he did not sign the report, but it is true that the report was presented, not to him and his colleagues but to other Ministers, myself, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. We acted upon the report, we brought this scheme before the House, and in col. 1547 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, on the 28th June, I explained that the restriction of the foreign imports was an essential part of the scheme. It was after my speech and not before it that my right hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland) said—I have pleasure in giving general support to the two schemes now before us."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th June, 1933; col. 1557, Vol. 279.]In a speech which occupied three and a-half columns of the OFFICIAL REPORT he made no complaint against the regulation of foreign supply, which I had previously stated was an essential part of the scheme and without which the 974 scheme would not work. It will be found in col. 1658 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of the 28th June that the question was put and agreed to. If the right hon. Gentleman had disagreed he could have made his protest then, and so could the hon. Member for South Bradford.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
If the right hon. Gentleman suggests that I have been inconsistent, may I say that my attitude has been absolutely consistent from the beginning to the end? It is perfectly futile for him to make such a suggestion.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
My right hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland accuses me of making wild statements. I have given chapter and verse from the OFFICIAL REPORT, and there is also the record of the Division Lobby. That was the time when a protest could have been made.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to quote anything that I may have said, perhaps he will quote from the speeches that I made upstairs in Committee, day after day, in opposition to this scheme of restriction.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
In speech after speech my hon. Friend did protest against the policy of regulation, but when it came down to a particular scheme then my hon. Friend ran away from it. That is my complaint. Let me say further that in his speech to-day he made a series of wild assertions. He says that every calculation on which we have based our figures are wrong. He did not give evidence of that. A criticism along the same lines was made by the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams), but the hon. Member for Don Valley did me justice to quote the calculation to which he took exception. He said that the Lane Fox Commission allowed for 10 per cent, expansion every four months, that the expansion has been at a much greater rate and therefore the calculation of the Commission is erroneous. Let me point out that the calculation of 10 per gent. expansion every four months which the Lane Fox Commission made—reference to which will be found on page 29 of the Report —comes on after the first full contract period, and there is no suggestion there as to what happens before the first contract period takes place. We are not 975 now dealing with the expansion after that contract period has begun but after the coming into effect of the scheme, and it was made clear in the Lane Fox report that not only should the contracts to be brought forward in the preliminary period be accepted, but that contracts brought forward in the next period should be accepted also. The regulated expansion with which they dealt was a regulated expansion which might begin after the expiry of the first full contract period. Therefore, I submit that the 10 per cent, expansion subsequent to that time has no bearing on the problem we bad to determine at the time, namely, what was the level likely to be of the pig production when it was established on a contract basis in this country.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I tried to qualify my calculation. It is true that the Reorganisation Commission recommended successive increases of 10 per cent, for each four months, and, of course, a compound 10 per cent, increase in the subsequent period will be considerably higher than in the first period. The first calculation was the thing I criticised, because the Minister seems to have made his first calculation upon the first contract period, where 620,000 pigs have been contracted for in excess of the Reorganisation Commission's calculation and the calculation of the right hon. Gentleman. I also said that for a period the farmers withheld pigs from the bacon factories, and only when higher prices were made available did they hurl these excess supplies at the bacon factories. My implication clearly was that in the subsequent period that increase will not be maintained. Therefore, the excess will be temporary, a shortage will be produced by the restrictions, and the gap will not be made up.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I shall not take exception to that criticism. These are points which we shall have to think out in working out the scheme. Requests have been put forward by the producers and curers. It is suggested that the production in subsequent periods may not continue at the rate which the present figures indicate. All that I can say is that I have not been able to find any facts which would bear out that view. It seems to us that this increase in pig production is probably an increase which is borne out by the facts.
976 We did our best to ascertain from the most responsible authorities whether this was merely a temporary excess which would pass away or a permanent establishment of the pig and bacon industry on a higher level. It certainly is not my desire, or the desire of anyone in this House, artificially to cut down the supplies of bacon below the level which experience has shown is sufficient for the people of this country, and, therefore, if the home quota is not maintained a corresponding increase in overseas supplies will have to be made available. There is no doubt that that will have to be done.
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I will deal with that point when I come to it. In the first place, I must point out that we are dealing with a scheme which is not the result of hysterical or panicky action. It was the result of a Commission appointed more than 18 months ago by Ministers some of whom were of a different political complexion from myself, who do not now support the Government, but who, it must be presumed, had their own point of view on this matter. The working out of the scheme has been going on for a long period of months. The scheme as a whole, which involved a restriction of overseas supplies, was put before the House last June, and the step we are taking to-day is in pursuance of this long thought out scheme which has been before the House of Commons on many occasions. The point brought forward by one or two hon. Members to-day, that the calculations upon which we have been working have encouraged a rise in prices arises to some extent from an interpretation of the report different from that which I have put upon it. I may be mistaken, and my hon. Friends may be mistaken, but I think that a little examination of the text will show that my interpretation is correct, that we are dealing with the first contract period and, therefore, in that case all our estimates were in the nature of guesswork.
We are told that we must be as far as possible practical in these matters. We got signed, sealed and stamped contracts for pigs, and these contracts were documents of the utmost value as they were the estimates upon which alone the Pig and Bacon Boards and the Ministry could 977 work in the earlier stages. To say that the British producers contracted to provide a very much larger number of pigs than the number stated in the estimates of the Ministry, and larger than that for which the Pig and Bacon Boards had previously allowed, does not justify in any way the wild assertion of the hon. Member for South Bradford, that every calculation upon which the Minister proceeded was utterly wrong and has been upset. The hon. Member has been led away rather further than the facts warrant. The general point of view brought forward by hon. Members in other portions of the House is one which demands attention. Has the shortage been artificially produced; have prices been pushed to an unreasonable point? Several hon. Members, including the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard), made that point with great pertinacity.
We must remember that in this matter we are dealing with a product which in the past has been subject to very great fluctuations, much greater fluctuations than those we are now considering. Although at times consumers have enjoyed the benefit of cheap bacon they have also been subjected to much higher prices, and it is not just and fair to take the bottom of the pig cycle as the point at which to draw your comparison with present prices. You must take the deep oscillations between pig prices when they were high and when they were low. These differences have been very great for many years past, and it was with the object of ironing out these great fluctuations that the scheme was undertaken. Clearly it is a great disadvantage to the consumers to have a violent and sudden subsidence of prices followed by a violent rise. In the one case the producer is liable to be ruined and in the other the consumer is rooked. If we can level out prices surely it is to the advantage of consumers as well as producers. Unless these things actually redound to the credit of both seller and buyer they are not transactions which can permanently endure.
Let us look at the datum prices in a year not far away, in a year to which hon. Members opposite look back with great satisfaction, the year 1930. We have often heard from hon. Members opposite how prosperous and happy the 978 country was then. We are blamed because it is said that the price of bacon is now unreasonably high. The hon. Member for St. Rollox took the October price this year. The October price of bacon was 1s. 1¼d. per lb. for streaky bacon, which it is said is a cut of peculiar interest to poor people. In October, 1930, the price of that cut was 1s. 3d. per lb. Earlier in the same year, in the months of January and February, it had been as high as 1s. 5¼d. and 1s. 5½d. These are retail prices, although I am quite willing to take the argument of the wholesale prices. During the whole of that year 1930 the retail price of this cut of bacon averaged 1s. 4 1/10d., whereas during the present year it has only gone over 1s. on two occasions, and even to-day it is 1s. 1¼d. as against a level of 1s. 41/10d; during the whole of 1930. While 1 say that it is most desirable that the price of a staple food should not go to unreasonable heights, or that a shortage should be artificially created, I do claim that it is a little unfair for hon. Members to advance the argument that the price of bacon has been pushed to a level entirely outside the reach of the working classes. If the price was within the reach of the working classes in 1930, and I did not hear any attack from hon. Members below the Gangway or from hon. Members opposite that it was pushed out of the reach of working people then, surely it is a little unfair to say, when it is about 3d. per lb. lower, that it is outside the reach of working people today.
There is the further point, that the restrictions themselves are bad because they are injuring our trade with foreign countries. I find myself rather in a quandary because the hon. Member for South Bradford quotes with approval a statement of my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) that he prefers a tariff to a quota. The hon. Member for South Croydon prefers a tariff to a quota because in that way none of the purchasing power of this country escapes to the country abroad, but the hon. Member for South Bradford is bound to attack me because in this case a certain limitation of the purchasing power of persons abroad takes place. The hon. Member for South Croydon is rather a dangerous ally for my hon. Friend the Member for South Bradford. They may advance against me in battle 979 array, but I shall not be greatly afraid, because at an early stage they will no doubt draw their claymores against each other.
It is difficult to consider this matter unless hon. Members are prepared to give close attention to novel considerations. The case we make is that we desire to maintain our trade with other countries, and that by this system we have been able to maintain our trade relations with other countries. Their purchasing power has not fallen and they have been enabled to maintain their purchases of our goods, of our textile goods, which a too drastic interference by tariffs might have driven away altogether. An unremunerative level of prices is not to the advantage of the consumer or the producer. The unremunerative levels of prices of agricultural produce in October of last year meant early bankruptcy to many of those engaged in the breeding of livestock both here and abroad. I do not wish to overstate my case; it is easy to be led away by a little vehemence, and if I have done any injustice to the cogent arguments of the hon. Member for South Bradford, I hope he will put it down to an excess of zeal on my part and not to any lack of consideration for the speech he made.
If we believe in cheapness, and cheapness only, we must be prepared in this Country to see prices sink to a level never reached before. I have said in the country, and I say again to-night, that it is no advantage to the housewife to buy at a cut price in the shop if by so doing she puts her man on the dole. It has been said time and time again by hon. Members opposite that if bacon is bought and sold at unremunerative prices the agricultural wages rates in this country will fall to a level far lower than they are maintained now; and they claim to have convinced the country that unremunerative wage levels for labour are bad for the nation as a whole. They must realise that they must be prepared to take the succeeding step. If you insist on a remunerative wage level for the workers of the country you must be prepared to give a price which will enable that wage level to be maintained. I do not wish to ride off on the claim that the rise in prices has been small or negligible, because a rise of one penny per pound on bacon to poor people is not a small or negligible 980 rise. I do not suggest that rises are not taking place, but I earnestly desire the House to face the general question that unless we can establish a remunerative price level all our attempts at social amelioration will fail. It can be done, and at the same time we can maintain a great population in employment. Those people now in employment and those in receipt of employment relief will be able to buy more and pay better for the agricultural and other products of this country than they have been able to do hitherto.
If we have done that by a policy of protection, by a policy of ordered regulation, by a policy for controlling the supply situation of this country, surely you do not wish that such schemes should fail merely because they involve inconvenience and even loss in their initial stages? Is it the wish that the whole system of ordered supply should collapse and that there should be nothing to put in its place? Other countries are trying experiments to-day, experiments which in some cases involve a far greater destruction of supplies than anything which has been contemplated in this country. Here we have a scheme which has worked and which has led to 620,000 bacon pigs being sold under contract at a price which the farmers believe to be a remunerative price. Why should we suppose that that will not be followed by an expansion in British trade, just as much as if those pigs had been bought from Denmark? We cannot say that a pig raised by a smallholder in Denmark helps British trade, but that a pig produced in Monmouthshire hurts British trade. There is no other way but this. We must be prepared to pay a remunerative price for the products of our own factories and our own soil. I ask the House to face that fact.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ Mr. DAVID GRENFELL
The two right hon. Gentlemen who have spoken from the benches opposite have been faithful to their border traditions, but they, are such close friends and have such close association that we dare not intervene in their disagreements and altercation. The Minister of Agriculture in dealing with the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for the Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) displayed a more 981 reasonable attitude. When he came to deal with the figures which my hon. Friend put forward I do not think the Minister was quite happy, and he certainly failed to convince me that he was satisfied with the revelations which the quarterly contracts for the supply of pigs for bacon curing have provided. The hon. Member for Don Valley quoted figures and showed to the satisfaction of everyone who has examined this question that all the calculations made by the Minister, calculations on which his policy is based, have been belied by the experience of recent months. When the right hon. Gentleman finds his calculations so far wrong I am sure he must be very anxious indeed regarding the future of his schemes. The right hon. Gentleman expressed some satisfaction in the latter part of his speech that we have been able to produce 620,000 pigs for bacon curing in the first quarter. But the right hon. Gentleman did not refer to the fact that one of the members of the Commission upon whose report the whole of this undertaking has been based, made reservations on this very question of the failure to provide a safeguard for the pork supply of this country.
We are to-day working on an entirely different set of figures from those with which we were dealing when the Agricultural Marketing Bill was in Committee. It is easy for the Minister to slide and skip over relevant arguments. I think ho was wrong in even suggesting that the hon. Member for South Bradford (Mr. Holdsworth) had relaxed his opposition to the Bill at any stage. I remember that my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley and I faced a formidable opposition both upstairs in Committee and downstairs when this Bill was under discussion. Day after day we were stonewalling in trying to show a case in opposition to the Government's case. We are really tired of hearing the same arguments used here to-night as were used on those occasions, the same old jargon about ironing out variations in prices, etc. They are the same arguments though the phraseology may be changed. To-night we have heard of oscillations. We are told that the Government are trying to level out the oscillations. That is the justification for all the elaborate machinery which the House is asked to support.
982 The Minister has said that the Government and business are not two things nowadays, but are one. The Minister has been going to all kinds of functions and meeting all kinds of people and saying that the principles on which the Government have acted in the past have been abandoned, and that now business and the Government are one. So the right hon. Gentleman said in an after-dinner speech in the country some time ago. We want to know what kind of business Government and industry are going to carry on together. I can understand the Government being anxious in this difficulty. The Minister said that the job was to level out. Behold the new levellers! I am afraid that what the Government will succeed in doing is not so much to level out as to flatten out business altogether in this country.
This Order means further restrictions— restriction of business, restriction of sale, restriction of production. It must have that effect. The intention for the moment is to reduce imports by 16 per cent. The Lane Fox Commission budgeted upon the assumption that we require in this country 10,670,000 cwts. of bacon yearly. I believe that that estimate was made on the five or six years average before 1930. But in 1931, the year to which the Minister has referred as the year of crisis and economic difficulties, the people of this country actually consumed 2,500,000 cwts. more than that figure; the consumption was in excess Of 13,000,000 cwts. in 1931. The Minister says that his scheme is based on the recommendation of the commission, which stated that the consumption should be 10,750,000 cwts., the average of the six years 1925 to 1930.
A good many reasons have been adduced for the Order, and the main argument is that we have produced more pigs than were expected. The estimates were wrong. The Minister cannot explain why there are more pigs than his expert advisers told him would be brought forward. The price paid for these pigs is 12s. a score. The Minister takes credit and says that all these pigs are coming forward. Does not everyone see quite plainly that he will be able to get the 620,000 pigs, because the farmer knows that he can get as much money by selling them for bacon curing as he can by selling them for pork? I am not quite 983 sure that there will be no shortage of pork this Christmas, because of the contracts entered into. No reference has been made to that supply of pork, which is a necessary food in winter time, when we require more fats and more meat to maintain warmth and heat.
The higher price, the Minister told us, will mean more home production. Are we quite sure? Our difficulty is to argue with people who always wear economic blinkers. High prices mean high production, it is said. The difficulty is not in production but in consumption. Those who demand high prices ignore altogether the position of the mass of consumers in this country. You cannot sell the whole of the meat of this country at a high price, because the purchasing power of the mass of consumers is limited. Wages to-day are lower than they have been at any time in the last 15 years. I hate to have to talk about the poor consumer in this country, for we ought all to know quite enough about him. I hate to talk sob stuff. But there is great injustice in measures like this, because they neglect the interests of the people whose purchasing power is limited and who cannot buy when the price is raised too high. The foreign producer is all right. The Danish producers' interests are still to be safeguarded. My hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley gave some astonishing figures. I shall give an example of the change in prices. In one week in 1932 we paid £343,000 for 133,000 cwt. of bacon. In one week in 1933 we paid £456,000 for 110,000 cwt. of bacon. That means that very much more money was paid to Denmark for very much less bacon. That is the natural result of the agreement which was made and that result will be repeated and perpetuated by the plan which we are asked to endorse to-day.
The housewife going to the shop with her slender purse, and many purses are slender to-day, will have to pay 4d. per lb. more for bacon in order that the Danish producers may get more than they ever expected to get—indeed more than they wanted to get. They are economists and they know the meaning of the proverb about "killing the goose that lays the golden eggs." In this instance the British producer is the goose and he is a goose to allow his business to be handled in this way by a Government.
984 We are not doing the right thing by our own people in this matter. Under this plan we are creating a scarcity in our own markets for the benefit of foreign producers more than for the benefit of the home producer. The Danish people are now to be restricted but they will still be all right unless prices change. They have protested, and though I do not think that any violent protest was called for from them, their protest was justified on the terms of the agreement. A Danish member of the negotiating board wrote:What has happened is much to be regretted. It is one of the conditions of the Anglo-Danish commercial agreement that a reduction of that sort should not take place.That is the reduction of 16 per cent, in the quota. I think it was 20 per cent, as originally proposed. The writer proceeds:That was the reason why we considered ourselves free to oppose it.The Danish Government have opposed the limitation. It may be that some temporary agreement has been reached to enable the Government to carry on but, whatever Governments do, the right hon. Gentleman is not entitled to say that the Government and business are one and the same thing in this country. That is not the case here. Neither is it the case in Denmark. The Danish Government may have yielded to some form of pressure or to the persuasions of the right hon. Gentleman. We know that he is persuasive and I can imagine these people "falling for" his bland manner of speech and intriguing arguments. But whatever agreement he comes to with the Danish Government, the right hon. Gentleman cannot get the Danish people to buy from us unless we buy from them, and if we reduce the volume of Danish imports into this country and at the same time reduce the price of Danish bacon, the result will be to reduce the purchasing power of the Danish community and they will be unable to buy as much from us as they formerly did.
We would like to know the Government policy in this matter, if they have a policy. What we have been treated to this afternoon is not a statement of policy at all. We have not been given any definite line of policy which is to be followed on this question. This is a makeshift arrangement, an attempt to bargain here and balance there. The 985 Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade told us that what the Government are aiming at is not a price policy but a policy of stabilising supplies. What does the hon. Gentleman mean by that statement? Are we to be told that this powerful Government with its great majority is fixing the quantity of bacon to be eaten by the people of this country. If so, is the quantity to be less than the quantity eaten on the average in the six years to which I have already referred? Is it to be much lower than the quantity eaten in what is described as the disastrous year of 1931? Apparently in 1931 our working people could occasionally enjoy a rasher of bacon. Is that to be denied to them by those who have been termed the "rasher slashers" of 1933?
What is the Government's policy for getting out of this muddle? The Minister has been forced to improvise and to make special arrangements. His policy has broken down. He has been driven abroad to try to effect some arrangement with the Danes which will enable him to get over the difficulties created by his own machine. We shall be in difficulties again in a month or two and a similar process will be repeated. Is it the object of the Government to extend agricultural production at home? We could understand that object. I not only understand but would sympathise with such an object to a very large extent, but the right hon. Gentleman has told us in emphatic and unmistakable words that it would be black treachery to those who are now on the land if we sent more men on to the land and added to our agricultural production until the question of marketing has been solved. It is not his intention therefore for the moment to send more men on to the land or to increase agricultural production. We would like to know whether, on the other hand, a policy of subsidising foreign producers at the expense of the poorest of the people of this country is to be followed. The Minister is in a mess. The Government are held fast on the dilemma of higher prices and lower consumption. If they decide for higher prices, they decide at the same time for lower consumption but the worst effect is that while their marketing schemes will go on it will be at the expense of the large mass of the people whose purchasing power has been reduced. Since 1931, by the policy of 986 the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues in the Government, cuts have been applied which have reduced the purchasing power of the people by many millions.
§ Mr. GRENFELL
Yes and at this moment, having given them all this machinery, having given a quota payment for wheat and having given millions for de-rating, we find the Government looking on while 12 county agricultural committees are reducing the wages of agricultural producers. That is not the way to deal with the situation. We on this side object to the lowering of the purchasing power of the people, in nominal terms, and we object still more strongly to the reduction of that purchasing power by indirect means such as the raising of prices against people whose wages are already too low. But that is the Government policy as far as we can ascertain it. It is a policy of higher prices for milk producers and bacon producers. They are blind and deaf to all the evidence that exists to show that if you raise these prices too high you will cut down the volume of consumption and that the glut of production which must ensue will, in its turn, force a further fall in prices. We have heard a great deal about gentlemen's agreements —agreements with distributors, with grocers, with dairymen—but never a suggestion of any gentlemen's agreement with the best gentlemen in this country, the working people. There is never a suggestion by the Government of an agreement with the working men and women whose interests ought to be considered at all times. We are anxious that this Order should not go through, that Orders of this kind should not be introduced at all, but that the Government should come down here with a real economic policy to provide a purchasing power that will create a demand for commodities and stabilise prices at the higher level which would be reached in that way.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Mr. DAVID MASON
I had not intended to intervene in this Debate but the speech which we heard from the Minister of Agriculture would compel any- 987 one with a sense of fairness to make some comments. We on these benches are getting a little tired of hearing——
§ Mr. D. MASON
As I say we on these benches are getting a little tired of hearing repeatedly from the Minister of Agriculture and other Ministers the criticism that the speeches of my right hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) and other hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who sit in this part of the House are not consistent with speeches which they delivered when they were Members of the Government. In fairness to my hon. and right hon. Friends let us realise, as I am sure the Minister of Agriculture realises, that they joined this Government from patriotic motives, believing that the country was in a grave crisis and that it was their duty to endeavour to find a way out of our difficulties. Now they are continually taunted because they left the Government when they found that they had been led into a trap and that their patriotic desire to serve the country was being exploited by a Conservative Ministry in connection with Measures like this. We are continually hearing cheap criticism of that sort. We have just had an example of it from the Minister of Agriculture. We had another example the other evening from the Foreign Secretary who taunted my right hon. Friend the Member for Darwen on the same lines, and talked about the loss to the Government of my right hon. Friend's counsel and abilities and so forth. I repeat that we are getting a little tired of that sort of thing. Any fair-minded man will understand that a Member of a National Government, if a certain policy is proposed, may from patriotic motives feel himself justified in giving way on some of his ideals and beliefs, economic or otherwise. It is very easy however to read passages from the OFFICIAL REPORT as the Minister of Agriculture has done and as other Ministers do, and to create laughter among the Government's followers when it is desired to bring out some petty point of difference between the attitude of my hon. and right hon. Friends when they were Members of the Government and their attitude now that they are free men. Let us make an end of that.
988 The Minister of Agriculture in his speech however was ingenious as well as ingenuous. His idea was to divert the attention of hon. Members like myself who are anxious to understand what we are discussing by entering into these domestic details and personal controversies. We are discussing this Order and the Minister said very little about it. What does the Order propose? The hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) pointed out in a very able speech what is proposed. I do not agree with the hon. Members advocacy of a tariff, but I must admit that he put his finger on the main point in this Order, namely, that it creates a monopoly. The hon. Member said he preferred a tariff. I disagree with both monopoly and tariff but I compliment and congratulate the hon. Member for South Croydon because he is sincere and honest in avowing his preference for a tariff as compared with the reactionary and unsound method of dealing with the trade of this country proposed in the Order. The hon. Member for South Bradford (Mr. Holdsworth) quoted from paragraph 1 of the Order which states that it shall not be lawful to import, except under licence, any bacon produced in any foreign country to which the Order applies. He wanted to know on what terms these licences were to be granted. He will find that paragraph 6 of the Order states that a licence granted for the purposes of the Order is to be revocable at any time andmay be granted on such terms and subject to such conditions as the Board of Trade may think proper.That we should be asked to grant such powers to any Board of Trade, whether supported by the Labour party or by the Conservative party, that we should be asked to hand over such powers to this Government, to the gentlemen who adorn this Front Bench, that we should be asked to agree that any of these Orders that they choose to make should be granted or revoked at any time, subject to such conditions as the Board may think proper, is, to my mind, extraordinary. Does the Board of Trade impress the House that it has genius or supermen? Does any Board of Trade impress the House in that way?
This is a question of the rights of the House of Commons. Are we who come here to discuss these questions to hand 989 over these powers that our constituents have delegated to us? I am not discussing this from a Tariff Reform or from a Free Trade point of view, but from a House of Commons point of view, and I appeal to any Member of this House to agree that to pass an Order of this sort is really to hand over our rights to another body, and practically to give them a monopoly of saying what shall and what shall not be done and who shall or who shall not get a licence. I hope hon. Members, whatever their views may be, will at least remember the high traditions of this House, and that some of them, anyhow, will have the courage, to whatever party they may belong, to go into the Lobby against this Order.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Sir FRANCIS ACLAND
I very much regret that I was not able to be present in order to hear the speech of the Minister, particularly as I understand he, quite fairly of course, referred to me and suggested that I had approved this sort of thing some months ago. I was prevented, not by any party meeting or anything of that kind, but because I happened to be this afternoon in charge of a court which, unfortunately, sits until six o'clock, and I have only just been able to get here. I feel, on days of this kind, like the Minister must often feel—how convenient it would be if only there were an extra five or six hours put into the day every now and then, so that it might be easier for us to do as we would like to do and to be in two places at once. I think the Minister might arrange that for us. He would only have to arrange that the sun should stand still every now and then, which I think he would find quite as easy as regulating the price of agricultural produce by controlling both internal and external supplies, which is what he is trying to do under these Orders.
With regard to the suggestion, quite fairly made, that I had said in my speech on the Second Reading of the Agricultural Marketing Bill of this year that I thought there was considerable hope of success with regard to bacon, and that if you were to try this sort of machinery, you had better try it on the pig, I certainly said that, thinking at the time that there was a considerable chance of this machinery effecting its purpose if the Report of the Lane Fox Commission, the 990 Pig Reorganisation Report, were carried out. But the difficulties that have occurred are owing to the fact that it has not been carried out, and that the scheme as contemplated in that Report and as carefully worked out in that Report has been, on the very first occasion, extensively varied, so as, I understand, to necessitate borrowing by the bacon factories in order to secure that the farmers shall get their money under their contracts. I say that, with regard to things of this kind which are now happening, my right hon. Friend was definitely warned. As they say to motorists when they are approaching a dangerous corner, "You have been warned," and in the same speech from which my right hon. Friend no doubt quoted he will find that I said very definitely that there could only be danger if they proceeded by the method of controlling supplies first and reorganising the industry afterwards. What has happened over this bacon business is precisely a manifestation of the; danger that I prophesied.
I also said in the same speech that the limits within which you could influence prices by limiting supplies were very narrow, that in the long run you could only bring agriculture back to prosperity by rendering the customers of agriculture prosperous, and that all these artificial schemes could only operate within very narrow limits until we could really in some way do that. But I do not want to refer only to my own small warnings, because there is something much more authoritative which goes to the root of what has been done under this Bacon Order. The Ministers seem to be trying to do two things. They are trying to carry out the whole of what was recommended by the Lane Fox Commission's Report to be gradually spread over a series of years in pretty well one fell swoop, whereas the Reorganisation Commission made it clear that they thought the thing only ought to be done quite slowly and with small percentage advances through successive periods. Secondly, the Minister has been going in for, and committing himself much further to, the policy of quotas against foreign supplies than was contemplated in that admirable and cautious Reorganisation Report, which we know as the Lane Fox Report. This is what I would like to quote from page 20 of that Report: 991The quota is an untried instrument in this country. By other countries it has been used as a temporary expedient to be used in a period of crisis. In no country has it yet been regarded as a constructive instrument.This Order contains the use of quotas as a permanent, constructive instrument, regardless of the warnings given in that Report. What has really happened? There was talk of this restriction, then there was actual restriction, then the price of bacon went up, then there was complaint, and then more bacon had to be let in; but practically from the beginning of this year the farmers have been induced to believe that there was sure to be an increase of prices. Consequently, they have arranged for an increase in the number of pigs, pigs being a very short-cycle business if you set out to increase their supplies, and that has taken place because the farmers have been very much disappointed that, owing to the Ottawa Agreements, it has not been possible to get them any effective, better price for their stock. Then, of course, the contracts went out, then they came tin, and they were very much bigger than had been expected. They were accepted, but the factories could not make a profit if they took all that supply, and I believe that money has had to be borrowed. That is all part of this business, and I cannot look forward to that, being so great a variation of anything of which I could approve in the Lane Fox Commission's Report, without the very gravest misapprehension.
That sum which has had to be borrowed in order that the farmers may get their contract prices can only be liquidated, it seems to me, in three ways—either by the Government making a grant later on, and if that is done it is, of course, goodbye to any idea that these schemes are self-contained and are being run by the farmers themselves, without Government help; or prices must be still further increased in order that the money now borrowed can be recouped by higher prices to the consumer, in which case the scheme will become even more unpopular than it is now, and it is unpopular enough; or you will have to get this money repaid later on by lowering the contract price, in which case the farmers will be gravely disappointed of the expectations that 992 they have been led to form. I am bound to say that, although I am not on the inside of the industry, I believe that in the long run we shall find, and before we are very much older, that it would have been better to have scaled down the contracts, to have accepted the contracts in full from the small men and scaled them down from the larger men, and run the scheme as the Reorganisatioon Commission had contemplated and recomomended that it should be doone. It was the only method which I had thought might do good in the industry.
If that had been done, you would have gradually got the farmer accustomed to producing pigs of a quality comparable with the Danish pigs, which the ordinary housewife has learned to know and appreciate. Unfortunately, a great deal of our bacon is not of that quality, either in regularity or in actual quality. You cannot rush these things. You cannot change the quality of one of the main supplies of food without its being, it may be, resented, and without there being repercussions on the amount that will be bought and the price at which it will be bought. From that point of view, it is surely right that the thing should have been done gradually. You would have avoided this heavy debt, which is surely a bad way in which to start off a scheme. In my experience in North Cornwall and other places I know that chapels mostly have debts when they start, and they continue to have them. They flourish on their debts, and it is quite as respectable for a chapel to have a debt as for a woman with children to have a wedding ring. But there is a great deal of difference between a chapel debt, which the members are always trying to reduce, and successfully, and starting one of these schemes off with a debt, and with the certainty either of being able to discharge it only by raising prices and making the scheme unpopular, or diminishing the amount given to the farmer later on.
There is one other point. I want to refer to an extraordinarily useful book, dealing with this among many other subjects, that has recently been published by Lord Astor and Mr. Keith Murray, which I hope everyone who deals with agricultural matters in future will read, because it is an extraordinarily sane, moderate, convincing, and constrictive setting forth of the planning of agriculture. It is called 993The Planning of Agriculture," and it has very much helped me in confirming the sort of point that I have been trying to put before the House. If we would really read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest that book, I think we should get more reality, actuality, and good sense into our agricultural discussions than we have even at the present time.I would just like to make a point arising from reading that book in the last day or two with regard to the tendency in which the Government seem to be drifting in these schemes. They want by regulating production on every farm and by regulating imports by their quota orders to regulate supplies, both internal and external; and by regulating supplies they hope to regulate prices to the consumer; and through the prices to the consumer they want to be sure of being able to pay a previously contracted price to the producer so that he may get a steady and standard price for his products. The point I want to make is that prices are not a function of supply. Prices are a function of supply and demand, and it is impossible, except in a completely Socialised state, to stabilise demand. Schemes of this sort are more and more going to lead, if they are to be efficient, to the necessity of stabilising both the whole methods of supply on the farm and the amount of demand by the housewife—which is a terrible business to contemplate. After all, there are many constantly varying factors which regulate demand. One is quality, and my fear is that if the quality ever goes down that will affect the price, and you will get bacon of an inferior quality which will not pay the prices that have been calculated on in this scheme.
The second factor is the comparable price of other foodstuffs. You cannot prevent the housewife, if she does not like to pay so much for her bacon and milk, turning to something else. In this rapidly developing world other things are constantly coming along, and the scheme will be upset by the fact that you will find people, especially if the country remains in its present depression, tending to buy whatever is the cheapest thing on the market in order to get a little variation in their main commodities of tea, bread and so on, on which most people nowadays have to rely.
994 Of course, the demand must vary with the general price level in its relation to the world level, and, even more important, the demand will vary according to the change in the value and volume of money. All these things are constantly varying. Public taste is varying, and, although you will be able to stabilise the amount of the product, you will never be able to stabilise the demand for it by the actual consumer on whom you depend. Even so, I believe that if this scheme had been worked out as it was planned and the Government had hastened slowly, it might gradually have taught people how to produce bacon which would have been right up to standard and as steady in standard as the Danish bacon; but, in rationing it in this way, you will be liable to get an unpopularity attached to English bacon which will make it little likely that, when all this stuff comes on to the market, it will find a sale.
These things being liable to happen, particularly if you desert your own scheme, I say that the Government will more and more be bound to do two things. They will be bound to standardise demand by rationing what each family is to consume. That is the only way to keep demand up to the supplies that you will be putting on to the market. Then they will be tempted—I do not say this Government will be, but it is the only logical outcome of these ideas—more and more to rationalise the output of farms and to treat farms as if they were factories, which they are not. Nothing will prevent the fanner, as things are at present, rushing into the particular things which the Government are helping by these schemes of checking imports, or whatever it may be. They will increase the thing on which there is most check, and, on the analogy of this scheme, you will never be able to ration them down. Here was a case in which you ought to have said, "The scheme only presupposes a very slow and moderate increase, and we will stick to that," instead of taking everything as it was offered at practically one bite.
That means that they contemplate that the farmers are to be allowed to rush into whatever form of production which for the moment, owing to one scheme or another, happens to be the most profitable. The only way in which that can be controlled is by putting farmers under 995 factory regulations as to what they may produce, when they may produce it, to whom they may sell it, and what price they may accept. That is not a thing which English farmers will like at all, and it is not an easy thing to do. Farms vary in different areas according to whether the aspect is north or south, and according to the district and county. To industrialise farming in the way that these schemes will necesitate will be extraordinarily difficult. Therefore, to put it bluntly, as the Government have already departed entirely in important particulars from their own marketing report, which seemed to me to be likely to work, and have produced this scheme which is certain to work badly, I shall divide against this Order.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ Mr. PETHERICK
My right hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland) said that he, unfortunately, could not be in more than two places at once, and I have a suspicion that he was at a meeting at which a decision was to be taken as to which of two places he wished to be in.
§ Sir F. ACLAND
I explained that I had to be in the chair at the Dental Board of the United Kingdom which was dealing with discipline cases up to 6 o'clock.
§ Mr. PETHERICK
I am sure that both meetings would have been equally painful. The kind of speech which the right hon. Gentleman has made is the kind which we have been accustomed to hear from those benches, not only in this Parliament but almost for generations. We are accustomed to hear from them purely destructive criticism of any progressive Government. We rarely hear any constructive criticism. I have listened to speeches from the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel)—a very brillian brain, but a purely destructive brain, because he has never any
§ solution to offer for anything except very occasionally a theory which has been discarded because it has been unsuccessful. I refer to public works. My right hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall objected to the control of imports being imposed first. Surely the pig scheme was in operation for a considerable time before the control of imports was imposed, and it was obviously necessary, in the opinion of hon. Members supporting the Government, to impose that regulation, because otherwise the whole scheme was doomed to failure. If you are trying to carry through a difficult scheme of reorganisation, you cannot possibly allow the risk of the whole scheme being utterly wrecked by dumping from abroad.
§ My hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. D.Mason) seemed to take exception to paragraph 6 of the Order which refers to the licensee being subject to such conditions as the Board of Trade deem proper. I do not know what system he would suggest instead of it. He said something about control by the House of Commons. I do not know whether he imagines that the House of Commons is going to examine every licence that is granted. It would be impossible to carry on any such method as he supposed. I welcome the scheme, for I believe that it will ultimately be of great benefit to the farmers. It is necessary, therefore, to impose such regulation of imports as we are now proposing. Many farmers have approached me, in common with most hon. Members who sit for agricultural divisions, with this and that complaint, but it is obvious that any scheme in its infancy like this must have flaws which only time will prove, and I believe that it will prove that the scheme will be of great benefit to the agricultural industry, and particularly to the pig industry.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 239; Noes, 53.999
|Division No.307]||AYES||[6.43 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Blindell, James|
|Attaint, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Borodale, Viscount|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Bottom, A. C.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Parclay-Harvey, C. M.||Boulton, W. W.|
|Anstruther-Grav, W. J.||Barrle, Sir Charles Coupar||Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Boyce, H. Leslie|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Bralthwalte, J. G. (Hillsborough)|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Briscoe, Capt. Richard George|
|Bailile, Sir Adrian W. M.||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Broadbent, Colonel John|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Blaker, Sir Reginald||Brocklebank, C. E. R.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Hore-Belisha, Leslls||Ramsay, T. B W. (Western Isles)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks., Newb'y)||Hornby, Frank||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Buchan-Hephurn, P. G. T.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Honiara, Tom Forrest||Ratcllffe, Arthur|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Howltt, Dr. Alfred B.||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney,N.)||Reid, David 0. (County Down)|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Hume, Sir George Hop wood||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Robinson, John Roland|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chlppenham)||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Chamberlain Rt. Hn. Sir J A.(Blrm, W)||James, Winq-Com. A. W. H.||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring)||Jamieson, Douglas||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Jennings, Roland||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Clarke, Frank||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield,B'tsida)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Salmon, Sir isldore|
|Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey||Ker, J. Campbell||Salt, Edward W.|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Kerr, Lieut-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Copeland, Ida||Knight, Holford||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Scone, Lord|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Crooks, J. Smedley||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Lees-Jones, John||Shaw, Captain William T. (Fortar)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Leighton, Major B. E. P,||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Barnard||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Simon, Rt. Hon Sir John|
|Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Levy, Thomas||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unv'Belfast)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Lindsay, Kenneth Martin (Kilm'rnock)||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Denville, Alfred||Liewellin, Major John J.||Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine,C.)|
|Despencer, Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Dickle, John P.||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn.G.(Wd. G'n)||Soper, Richard|
|Doran, Edward||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Spears, Briqadier-General Edward L.|
|Dower, Captain A. V. G.||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G.(Partick)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Spens, William Patrick|
|Duncan. James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylrtc)|
|Dunglass, Lord||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Stanley, Hon O. F. C. (Westmorland)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||McKle, John Hamilton||Stones, James|
|Elmley, Viscount||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Storey, Samuel|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Macoherson, Rt. Hon. Sir Ian||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Magnay, Thomas||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Maltland, Adam||Stuart, Lord C. Crlchton-|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Manningham-Butler, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Essenhinh, Reginald Clare||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Martin, Thomas B.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Meller, Sir Richard James||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Galbraith, James Francis Wallace||Milne, Charles||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Gauit, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Mitcheson, G. G||Todd, A. L. S. (Kinqswinford)|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Morgan, Robert H.||Touche Gordon Cosmo|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Morrison, William Shephard||Train, John|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Munro Patrick||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.||Natl, Sir Joseoh||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Goff, Sir Park||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Newton, Sir Douglas George C.||Wardlaw-Mllne, Sir John S|
|Gower, Sir Robert||North, Edward T.||Warrcnder, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Granville, Edgar||Nunn, William||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Grattan-Dovie, Sir Nicholas||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Whvte, Jardine Bell|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Palmer, Francis Noel||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, s.)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Peake, Captain Osbert||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Pearson, William G,||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Peat, Charles U.||Windsor-Clive. Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Penny, Sir George||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Percy, Lord Eustace||Wise, Alfred n|
|Hanbury, Cecil||Petherick, M.||Withers, Sir John James|
|Hartland, George A.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, B'nstaple)||Womersley, Walter James|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,Bllston)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noakf)|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada|
|Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Potter, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Walter||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Commander Southby and Dr,|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Morris-Jones|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Fracis Dyke||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Dobbie, William||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkeney & Zetl'nd)|
|Banfield, John William||Edward, Charles||Harris, Sir Percy|
|Batey, Joseph||Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Hicks Ernest George|
|Bernays, Robert||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Holdsworth, Herbert|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Jenkins, Sir William|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Cove William G.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Jones J. J. (West Ham. Silvertown)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Lansbury, Rt Hon. George|
|Daggar, Geroge||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro'W.)||Lawson, John James|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Griffithss, T.(Monmouth, Pontypool)||Leonard, William|
|Lunn, William||Rea, Waiter Russell||William, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Macdonald, Gordon(Ince)||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Wilmot, John Charles|
|McEntee, Valentine L.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H.(Darwen)||Wood, Sir Murdoch Mckenzie (Banff)|
|McKeag, William||Sinclair Maj. Rt. Sir A.(C'thness)||Young Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Mander, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Tinker, Joseph|
|Mander, Geoffrey le M.||White, Henry Graham||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Williams Edward John (Ogmore)||Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
|Parkinson, John Allen||William, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
That the Bacon (Import Regulation) Order, 1933, dated the seventh day of November, nineteen hundred and thirty—three, made by the Board of Trade under the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1933, a copy of which was presented to this House on the eighth day of November, nineteen hundred and thirty—three, be approved.