HC Deb 05 March 1934 vol 286 cc1603-8

6.53 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 2, line 10, to leave out from "Board," to "any," in line 14, and to insert: as follows:

  1. (a) five members of the textile industry;
  2. (b) two members representing the chemical industry;
  3. (c) two members representing chemical science;
  4. (d) two members representing."
I do not intend to keep the House for more than a few minutes, but as Chair- man of a fairly large firm I do know something about the working of this industry. Frankly we actual users of the dyes consider that this constitution of the committees is of great, if not vital importance. Do not think for one moment that we are against the dyestuff makers being helped and protected. On the contrary we are all in favour of them. In fact we should be very dog-in-in-the-manger if we were not, because we people in the textile trade—I am speaking of wool and worsted; the firm of which I am chairman dyes nothing else—realise that tariffs have absolutely saved our trade. Speaking of my own firm I know how, since tariffs were put on, we have employed many more hands and have been able to pay far better wages. We want the Bradford trade to grow and lead the world, but we also want the dyestuffs to do well. They have our very best wishes. But I do not think that any industry in England has deserved more than we have the good will of the Government and this House and the public as a whole. Our operatives are as good as any in the world. I do not think there is any big industry in which there has been as little time wasted over strikes and lock-outs, and as an employer I would say here how the unions have done all they could to help the trade.

As regards the employers, I do not think there is anyone trying harder than we are to get together and solve our difficulties without outside help. What is possibly of more importance than anything in this case is that there is no body of men who have tried harder to meet the dyestuffs people and to do everything possible to get rid of any difficulties, so as to make this scheme work. The point I wish to make is this: I do want the Government to understand that we are not out to be tiresome or to make mischief, but we do feel that this is a matter of vital importance to us. We hope that the Government will be willing to accept what we practical people consider to be a very reasonable and fair Amendment.

6.56 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment.

Unfortunately, during the Committee stage of the Bill the effort we made to get such an Amendment as this dis- cussed was ruled out of order by the Chairman. I would like it to be known that we are moving the Amendment because of a very important answer to a Parliamentary Question which was given by the President of the Board of Trade, in which he intimated to us that practically everybody on this Development Committee was a dye-maker, and that only two were dye-users. If the Bill is allowed to go through as it is now drafted without this Amendment, it will be possible for the Government to do as they have previously done: to overweight the committee with dye-makers and to leave practically nobody on it to represent the textile industries, which are very large dye-users. In asking that five members of the textile industry should be placed on this committee, we are asking for a very small minority, and simply that that small minority may state their views and enable the views of the textile industry to be put forward.

In moving this Amendment we are not in any way expressing any views which are contrary to those of a protective character which we have expressed many times in this House; nor are we trying to deprive the dye-makers of that protection which we believe they should have. All we are asking is that on this Development Committee, which we regard as of first-rate importance, those who are in the textile industry itself should be adequately represented in order that their views may be placed before the committee and fairly considered by it. For those reasons, I beg to second the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend.

7.3 p.m.


I am absolutely in sympathy with the purpose of the Amendment. It is essential that, in the working of this Bill, there should be good will between the users of dyes and the makers, and that there should be a spirit of amity in the Committee. I am, however, not quite sure that the Amendment as put down on the Paper will be the best thing in the long run for the textile industry. The difficulty when a certain number is stated for the Committee is that the number on the Committee is thereby limited. The Clause, as we read it, leaves it to the Board of Trade to appoint what they consider adequate representation of all the different interests. While those of us who are interested in the textile trade will have served our purpose by bringing before the Parliamentary Secretary the absolute necessity for adequate representation of the textile trade——


Is the hon. Member aware that the present Development Committee consists of some 12 dye-makers and only two dye-users?


We discussed that question in Committee upstairs. Let the hon. Gentleman remember that this is not the Development Committee that existed before, but the linking together of the Licensing Committee and the Development Committee to form one committee, which will be a Development Committee. While I sympathise with the intentions of my hon. Friends and am quite at one with them as far as the purpose of the Amendment goes, I am not certain that it would be of advantage. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to tell us in his reply upon this Amendment that we can be sure that all the different branches of the textile trade will be adequately represented on this Committee.

7.5 p.m.


I rise to support the Amendment, because I believe that this Committee should not be weighted by the industry which is to derive the chief advantage from it. It is of tremendous importance to the textile trade that it should have on the Committee representatives of the various sections of the textile industry who can speak as consumers. There will be decided at various meetings questions which are advanced by conflicting interests. Undoubtedly a monopoly of this character is fraught with tremendous peril unless there is constant vigilance as to what is done. I hope, therefore, that as the textile industry is suffering fierce competition from all parts of the world and battling to find new markets which it can only find when its costs of production are lowered, the Committee will see that the costs of dyestuffs are not weighted unduly against the textile industry. Seeing that the chemical industry will gain great advantages from the Committee including permanence for its operations, I hope that this Amendment, which has been put down for the purpose of helping the tex- tile industry, will be conceded. I am certain that if this is done some of the dissatisfaction over the Bill will be removed and help will be given to the textile industry.

7.8 p.m.


If we could look into the future and know the course of industrial development, it would no doubt be a matter of simplicity to organise the all-perfect committee to deal with it. It is precisely because there are so many unknown factors that the Board of Trade has deliberately presented the Bill with the constitution of this Development Committee elastic, leaving it to the Board to determine how many members of any particular section of the industry can best serve in an advisory capacity on a committee which has not executive functions. It is essential to point out to the House what the hon. Member for South Bradford (Mr. Holds-worth) has already pointed out: that we are not here dealing with the Licensing Committee, a users' committee, a committee with executive powers. We are dealing with a committee, to which the Board of Trade may refer—there is no obligation on it to refer—for advice and assistance on the development of the industry as a whole. That is not a committee on which it is at all necessary to balance the interests carefully. It is a committee on which the Board of Trade may desire far more help from a chemical section or from a manufacturing section at one time, far more help from a using section at another time. The point of which the hon. Members who moved this Amendment appear to lose sight is that the constitution of the committee may be required to be different at different times for the development of the industry. If you put in a fixed, stated constitution, you overlook the whole power of the Board of Trade to make the punishment fit the crime—to make the committee fit the necessity for which the committee exists.

Let me shortly point out to the Committee that, under the Act of 1920, Section 2 (6), the Board of Trade is alone the judge of how many are to serve on the committee. That Act says in terms: The Board shall constitute a committee of persons concerned in the trades of dye- maker or dye-user, and of suck other persons not directly concerned in such trades as the Board may determine. Secondly, the Board of Trade has at present absolute power to determine the numbers, and when it comes to the new Bill we shall follow the advice given by the Import Duties Advisory Committee. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. R. Davies) will recognise the novelty of that expression. The Import Duties Advisory Committee in their report—I quote from page 9, paragraph 18—recommended that there should be a certain number of persons representative of the textile and heavy chemical industries, chemical science and Departments of State; and in paragraph 19, that the Board of Trade should appoint an additional panel of members. Having regard to the fact that it is quite impossible to say in advance what lines the industry may require for development, it is equally impossible in advance to say which side ought to be weighted, which side ought to have more representation. The point is that the Board of Trade is not obliged to pay attention to the recommendations of the committee, which is an advisory committee and not an executive one.

Any Amendment of this kind would very largely defeat the object which the hon. Members who moved it have in view. The Amendment is against the interests of those who are moving it. While I am in sympathy with every branch of the industry having fair representation, I can say that the Board of Trade propose to appoint to this committee from time to time exactly such people as they think fit. The members will not be appointed to represent specific interests; they will be appointed for the purpose of advising the Board, and it is quite impossible to say whether we want five, three, or two members. In those circumstances I must ask the Committee to resist this Amendment, while I assure the hon. Gentleman who moved it that the Board of Trade are fully alive to the needs of the users and intend to see that the users have every opportunity of placing their case in every way they think fit.


On behalf of my hon. Friend and myself, in view of that explanation, we desire to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.