§ 4.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Wedgwood Benn
I beg to move, in page 2, line 16, to leave out "one year," and to insert "six months."
The Clause deals with the stabilisation of certain Imperial preferences for a period of 12 months, and the Amendment suggests that six months should be substituted for the 12 months. The understanding of this Clause involves a reference to other Acts of Parliament, and it is a pretty bad example of legislation by reference. The representative of the Board of Trade or the Chancellor of the Exchequer will correct me if I am wrong in my description of what this really is. In 1919 the first essays in Imperial preference were made. It was about the time that this country was giving a lead to the world in the race of economic nationalism, which we now so much deplore. [Interruption.] Certainly. In the Act of 1919 a preference of varying amounts was given to a large number of articles—tea, sugar, currants and so on—and also a preference was given in respect of duties under the Finance Act, 1915, commonly called the Safeguarding Duties, for motor cars, musical instruments, cinema films, and so on. In 1926 these preferences—and they are the preferences to which we refer in this Amendment—were fixed for a 1794 period of 10 years. I believe that some minor adjustment was made in 1934 concerning coffee and tobacco, but this is irrelevant to my present purpose. In 1936, when the ten-year period expired, the duties were continued under Section 4 of the Act of last year for a further year. The position is that the preferences in the Second Schedule of the Act of 1919 on glucose, molasses and so, and also covering all the articles of the McKenna Duties, expire this year, and have to be continued for a further year. I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will find that I have given a correct account of this part of the Bill.
The reason that I am moving that the period of six months should be substituted for the period of 12 months, is that a very considerable change has come over public opinion. We have always thought on this side that Imperial preference is exceptional and a mistake, but that some modification of the Imperial preferences is necessary has become widespread opinion among the Conservative party themselves. That some approach to the United States of America for the making of a trade agreement should be made, is being urged in very influential Conservative circles. If anything is to be done with regard to the conferences that are going on and which were inaugurated by Viscount Runciman when he visited the United States some time ago, obviously it would be a mistake 1795 for this House to tie its hands for 12 months, which would mean probably that for that year no negotiations could be effectively carried on, because it would be assumed that the successful negotiation of a trade treaty with the United States would inevitably involve, with the consent of all parties, some modification of the Imperial preferences which exist at this moment. Therefore, we suggest that there should be a limit of these preferences to six months. Some of the articles which are the subject of preference, notably motor cars, cinema films and molasses, are articles which might very well be considered as part of any trade treaty made with the United States.
It will be interesting to note the reply of the Chancellor of the Exchequer or of the representative of the Board of Trade. It is commonly felt—Sir George Schuster said so in the "Times" not long ago—that we should take the lead in some wider trade arrangements with a view to the breaking down of this economic nationalism which is bound up with the political animosities afflicting the world to-day. For this purpose an approach must be made to the United States, and in any bargains that may be made the United States must have something in return for what they may give. Can that be done without affecting the principle of Imperial Preference? It is possible that that may be so, but in any case it is very foolish for us to tie our hands for 12 months with these preferences if in the meantime we are thinking of negotiating with the United States.
I shall be interested to know what the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) thinks on this matter, because he has been the protagonist of Imperial Preference for many years. He seems to take the view that it is impossible to negotiate with the United States if that means touching Imperial Preference, because the principle of Imperial Preference must come first. He said in his letter, which was published yesterday:If the policy of Imperial Preference is to succeed and bring about those results of Empire development and unity that we desire it must necessarily be in large measure by the diversion of Empire purchases from other countries, and perhaps most of all from the United States.If that is the case, it is obvious that there is some sharp disharmony between the 1796 principle of Imperial Preference and the principle of an Anglo-American trade agreement. Therefore, anyone who thinks of an Anglo-American trade agreement must be willing to modify or compromise his beliefs in Imperial Preference. It is because these considerations are very relevant to the state of affairs at this moment and that the continuation of these preferential duties for a year many hinder the chance of a trade agreement that we desire to reduce the period to six months.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Amery
I had no intention of intervening in the Debate, but as my right hon. Friend has directly challenged me on this issue perhaps it might he as well if at this stage of the discussion a few words were said on the very important question which he has raised. There is not necessarily any fundamental disharmony between the policy of Imperial Preference and the policy of negotiating trade agreements with other countries, any more than there is a fundamental disharmony between the much further reaching policy of Imperial Preference which exists among various States of the United States of America and trade agreements between those United States and the outside world. Just as the development of internal trade and internal production within the United States of America comes first for American statesmen, so the development of inter-Empire trade comes first for us.
§ Mr. Amery
If my right hon. Friend will be a little patient I am coming to that point. I was referring first to the point that there is no essential disharmony between the policy of trade negotiations with the outside world and the policy of developing to the fullest that Imperial Preference to which some of us attach an importance that transcends its importance as a trading issue. It is not the desire of those who believe in Imperial Preference that we should set a Chinese wall around the British Empire and preclude trade with other countries. This country always wants to do a certain amount of trade with foreign countries, and so do Canada 1797 and Australia. What we do say is that the trade within the Empire is not only more lucrative and paying to us as trade but is important in itself as a contribution to the general strength and development of the Empire which entirely transcends the purely economic issue.
It undoubtedly has paid us and it is bound to pay us in steadily increasing measure to buy from those who deliberately divert a greater portion of their purchases to us than to other countries. The larger proportion of whatever we spend within the Empire comes back to us in return purchases, and comes back to us also in the growing strength and prosperity of the communities whose prosperity we encourage and who in turn encourage us. That is the economic side. It is the cumulative trade which has been built up steadily year after year. Quite apart from that, there is this difference, that every million pounds spent on Empire trade strengthens those partners in the defence of our system of ordered freedom in the world who are the only partners we can look to in the present state of the world with any complete confidence, and the only ones who will spontaneously and instinctively rally to our side in any just cause.
It is, therefore, vital, wherever we can, within the limits of what is economically sound for each part of the Empire at any given time, to encourage the maximum development of Empire trade and to do so even if to some extent it involves the transfer of trade from other countries. It does not do so entirely. A very large part of the increased Empire trade since the Ottawa Agreement has been the measure of additional production within the Empire and not due to transfer from other countries. In so far as transfer from other countries is involved, that is their affair. Just as much as when the United States built up their tariff and their industries it was our affair to accept that situation. The United States have no reason to complain of any possible partial and temporary diminution of their exports to this country or of their exports to the Dominions that may result from our determination to trade as far as possible among ourselves. That does not in the least preclude the possibility of considering where and when, without damage either to existing preferences or without damage to our liberty to increase the preferences in the future, we 1798 may see what room there is for mutual accommodation.
I would remind hon. Members that the American tariff is far higher than ours and that the balance of trade as between ourselves and America is very adverse. Before the great depression it was adverse to the extent of over £140,000,000 a year. It is now adverse to the extent of between £40,000,000 and £50,000,000 a year, and any agreement to be really satisfactory must be an agreement which does not accentuate that disparity but on the contrary tends to rectify it. If we can get concessions from the United States in return for the concessions we might make, that might be well worth doing, but actually the preferential margins that we give to the Empire to-day are so small that I regard it as absurd to suggest that they should be further reduced. If we can offer a preference to the United States in relation to goods that do not compete with Empire production, then let us negotiate. There is a very considerable range of American products with which the Empire is not in competition and which we could consider possibly in relation to our own industries, because they do not compete with our own trade. Let us negotiate with them there, and let us make it clear that they may have to be prepared to face substantial increases in our duties against them if they are not prepared to make reasonable concessions to us.
The aim of any agreement ought to be to bring about a better balance of trade between us and the United States and not to accentuate the disparity which at this moment and for many years past has been one of the chief causes of economic unbalancing and unrest in the world. The whole of the great depression was caused by the undue drain of the United States and by the fact that the United States having become a creditor nation was still determined to have a large favourable balance of trade. Of that favourable balance of trade the main authors were this country, because we were taking £140,000,000 worth of goods from the United States above what we sold to them, and Canada was taking £40,000,000 and Australia £28,000,000. If in the years after the War we had had an effective preferential system in the Empire and the Empire had taken substantially less from the United States, that adverse balance would not have 1799 been as serious as it was and the whole of the circumstances creating the great depression might never have happened. People talk to-day about going back to the Gold Standard and the necessity of having a balanced system of trade in the world. That is impossible so long as the greatest creditor nation, the United States, is forcing its exports on the world and not taking a proper amount of imports in return. Therefore, the extension of Imperial Preference, even if it reduces the total of American exports, will be a contribution towards that more harmonious balancing of world trade which will create conditions under which the present restrictions in the world may be somewhat reduced.
The right hon. Member made the underlying assumption that in agreement with the United States at the expense of Imperial Preference is going to affect the economic nationalism of the world outside. There is not the remotest chance of anything of that sort happening. The economic nationalism of the world outside was not created by Imperial Preference. The whole system of quotas, restrictions and steeply-raised tariffs, raised in the time of the great depression, preceded our tariff and preceded the Ottawa negotiations, and at a much higher and far more drastic level. We, throughout, have had that absence of mutual restriction which has only just been brought about by a small group of States known as the Oslo States, after their recent conference. Our comparatively small example of economic nationalism has certainly not been responsible either for the high tariffs or the quotas and exchange restrictions of other countries. It really has not had the slighest influence on the situation.
After all, these countries are set upon their present policy not as a mere fad or aberration and not merely for military purposes, although they play in many cases a considerable part. They pursue their policy because they believe that to control and regulate their own economic system is an essential part of their organised national life, essential not only for their security and their standards of living and for their social services, but essential also for having a balance within their own communities to protect them against the fluctuations in the world outside. Italy and Germany 1800 are convinced that they must pursue a policy of economic nationalism while Russia is obviously the victim of a policy which is entirely incompatible with any kind of conception of international cooperation, and France realises that a rise in wages and shorter hours cannot be obtained without international agreement. For all these reasons, while we may make concessions to the United States to the injury of our own trade and our Imperial Preferences, it would not have the slightest effect on the situation in the world at large. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not pay too much heed to the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman, whose consistency I have always admired.
§ Mr. Benn
Before the right hon. Gentleman concludes his very interesting speech will he reply to the specific point I put, and which he points out in his letter; that the success of Imperial Preference involves the diversion of our trade from other countries and perhaps most of all from the United States? That is a simple question to which we have had no reply.
§ Mr. Amery
I think that in a large measure the result of Imperial Preference would be to create new sources of world trade without affecting the Ottawa Agreements, and it would, and does, involve some transfer of trade from other countries for the time being and most of all perhaps from the United States. But as a consequence of that policy the total strength and wealth of the Empire would be developed and the actual total trade of America with the Empire would continue and might increase.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir John Simon)
In my view the Amendment raises an exceedingly narrow point and only a short answer is required. The right hon. Gentleman proposes to substitute six months for one year, and has advanced an argument which he thought would support the proposal. The discussion which he has raised may not develop if the limited question raised by the Amendment is pointed out. What happens if we substitute six months for one year in the Clause? The result would not be to reduce any tariff upon any foreign goods at all. The tariff on foreign goods will remain exactly the 1801 same in so far as anyone wants to reduce the tariff on imported goods it would not be effected by the Amendment. As far as Dominion products are concerned the application of this Clause would in practice be limited to sugar, silk, artificial silk, clocks and musical instruments. That is all. Other articles are all covered by other provisions. Consequently that is the full range of the Clause. What would happen as regards sugar, silk, artificial silk, clocks and musical instruments, if the Amendment was adopted? It would not affect the tariff on foreign goods coming from abroad. The only result would be that after six months the tariff on these things, if they come from Dominion sources would be raised; it would be bigger than it otherwise would be. I cannot think that anyone who is disposed to reduce tariffs can find any great satisfaction in an Amendment to secure that in six months the tariff on these articles, if they come from the Dominions, would be raised, but that is the actual effect of the Amendment. It is suggested that six months is long enough to give time for negotiations with the Dominions or the United States.
Do I understand that the effect of this Amendment, if carried, would be to increase the duties on certain articles imported into this country for the latter part of the financial year?
§ Mr. Benn
May I point out that when these preferences were originally granted in 1919 we moved, and the right hon. Gentleman was prominent in the matter, that the Schedules should not be part of the Bill and we were allowed to debate it? If the whole question of preferences is ruled out of order it limits the powers of this Committee and goes far beyond any Ruling which your predecessors have given.
The right hon. Gentleman forgets that since those days there has been passed the Import Duties Act, which automatically puts duties on things coming into this country, and if the effect of the Amendment is to raise the duties I am afraid I have no option but to rule it out of order.
I do not go so far as that, but if in this specific case the effect of the Amendment will be to bring in a higher rate of duties then it will increase the charge, and is out of order.
§ Mr. Benn
Does your Ruling mean that if an article is removed from this Clause and thrown into the general class any Motion to remove the preference which results in an increased duty is, therefore, out of order? Would not that apply to any Motion against any preference, and is it not a very wide Ruling? May I direct your attention to the fact that this class of article is not subject to a common tariff. They were first given a preference in 1919, and I submit that the Debate should be allowed to proceed; otherwise the power of this Committee on most important matters of principle and policy is very much handicapped.
§ Mr. Pethick-Lawrence
I can fully understand that in the existing state of the law some Amendments might be moved which would increase the duty, but that is not the case here. We are not making any increase on the existing law. It is the Bill which is making the alteration, and the proposal of the Amendment is merely to modify the proposal in the Bill. In those circumstances I would suggest that it is open to us to modify the proposals of the Bill if we keep to the state of the present law.
§ Mr. Benn
May I submit that under your Ruling it would be out of order for us to vote against the Clause? If we vote against the Clause and it is rejected we shall be increasing the charge. I should like to know whether we shall be in order in voting against the Clause, seeing that it involves a charge? Do you propose to put the Clause to the Committee?
Most certainly. I have known several cases where an Amendment has been out of order but the Committee has discussed and voted against the Clause. Although it may 1803 seem extremely illogical there is no doubt about the accuracy of that. If the Amendment is withdrawn I shall rule that the discussion may continue on the Motion of the Clause standing part. It is a very complicated Clause, and it was not until I heard the Debate that any doubt arose in my mind. I should be very sorry to rule offhand whether in point of fact if the Clause is amended it would increase the charge. I understand that the Clause in effect makes a reduction of the existing rate of duty, and that if the Clause is not amended any articles would be under the duty. So long as an Amendment does not bring the duty beyond the rate imposed in other Statutes it is in order. The difficulty I am in—and here perhaps the Chancellor of the Exchequer can help me—is precisely what is the effect of the Amendment. I did not anticipate this point arising and therefore I have not looked it up. My difficulty is to be exactly aware of how this will work in connection with other Acts.
§ Mr. Pethick-Lawrence
May I suggest that as you yourself say, this is a point of some difficulty and that you would like to give further consideration to it, you do not give a final decision now on the general issue, but that we should debate the matter on the Clause standing part and leave the matter as it were in the air for you to consider it and give a considered judgment?
§ Sir J. Simon
As the Deputy-Chairman has appealed to me, perhaps I had better say what I understand the position to be. I did not take the point as an objection to the Amendment. The Clause is rather complicated. It goes in, as it were, and then comes out, and it is difficult to be sure what is the right reading. But if hon. Members will look at the Clause again they will see that the proposal of the Government is that Section 7 of the Finance Act, 1926, which as things stand would only leave certain Imperial preference rates stabilised down to the 19th August next, shall be extended to 19th August, 1938. If I may say so, the right hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) is right when he says that it is the Clause itself which extends the preference.
I think the observation I was making, which I did not make with any desire to 1804 create trouble, was correct. Supposing that the Committee accepted the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment and struck out "one year" and substituted "six months," the effect would be that Section 7 of the Finance Act, 1926, which, as things stand, comes to an end on 19th August, would be carried on until 19th February, 1938. I pointed out that if that were the case, for example, sugar, which is imported from the Dominions, would enjoy the preference which Section 7 prescribes—which is a substantial preference—for six months, but that after the six months were over, would enjoy a smaller preference because there would then begin what I will call the intermediate tariff. The question for you, Sir, is simply whether in those circumstances the Amendment is out of order. I wish to point out that it is not the fact that the law of the land as it stands at this moment confers this preference either down to next February or down to August, 1938; it confers the preference down to 19th August only, and it is the provision of the Bill which would carry it for another 12 months or, if the right hon. Gentleman had his way, another six months.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Benn
Further to the point of Order, I am extremely anxious that a Ruling on the very important question of our right to debate Imperial preference should be, as you were good enough to suggest, a considered Ruling by you, and in those circumstances, may I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment in order that you may have an opportunity of giving a considered judgment on the point of Order and that the Debate may continue, in accordance with what you said, on the question that the Clause stand part?
If the right hon. Gentleman would be good enough to take that course, it would be for the convenience of everybody. The point raised by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) is obviously one of very considerable intricacy on this particular occasion. I have no desire to prevent the Committee from debating Imperial preference, and there is no doubt that it would be in order to do so on the Question that the Clause stand part, but I would not like to commit myself as to the exact effect of this Clause or of an Amendment to it which might impose a duty not 1805 authorised by existing legislation or which might merely prevent the reduction of a duty imposed by legislation, without having a further opportunity of considering this very intricate Clause. As the right hon. Gentleman said, this is legislation by reference, and it will mean going back to the original Statutes.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
I rise to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will now continue the statement which he was making in reply to my right hon. Friend. The point raised by my right hon. Friend was that the Government are engaged in discussions with the United States and that they appear to be committing themselves to certain things. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was dealing with that general argument and certain wider aspects of the question.
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ Sir J. Simon
I think hon. Members have already been informed that the discussions with the United States are in an informal and exploratory stage. No advantage is gained by exaggerating or headlining matters beyond what are at present the facts, and one cannot help the discussions by so doing. As hon. Members were informed the other day, it is a fact that there is informal and exploratory work being done really to determine whether a basis can be found for trade negotiations with the United States. That is the stage which the matter has reached. Hon. Members were told that we have kept the Dominions informed of what is going on. Fortunately some of their representatives are in this country and naturally it is easy for us to do so, but we should do so in any case. In the view of the Government there is no reason for believing that matters would he facilitated by a limitation such as was suggested in the Amendment. It is most desirable that these negotiations and all others leading towards freer and more general exchange should be conducted in the right atmosphere, but we shall not do it by failing to recognise that there is 1806 a vast deal to be discussed. The Dominions are kept informed of anything which is under consideration.
I shall certainly not undertake to make any further statement, and I do not see in the fact that these conversations have been started any reason for not accepting the provisions of Clause 2, which on other grounds are entirely necessary, because unless we carry the situation on for a certain period further, we shall, among other things, run the risk of having to come back and ask for further authority for another few months, and it is very much better on every ground that we should extend the existing arrangement for another year. I would point out further that in the Canadian agreement, which is the one which has been negotiated, while discussions with other Dominions are in progress, or will shortly be in progress, there is an article—Article 16—which shows the spirit in which the whole thing is being handled. Hon. Members will find that article set out on page 39 of the Finance Bill, and it reads:In the event of circumstances arising which in the judgment of the Government of the United Kingdom or of the Government of Canada, as the case may be, necessitate a variation in the terms of this Agreement, the proposal to vary those terms shall be the subject of consultation between the two Governments.In pursuing a policy, which I think has the warm support of the great mass of opinion in this country, of seeing whether we are able in this matter or in that to find an opportunity for improved trade relations with the United States, it is really a mistake to suppose that we are choosing between light and dark, or between black and white, or anything of that sort. The whole thing has in course of time to be set together, and the spirit in which it is sought to do that is to be found in Article 16. That is the answer to those who challenge Clause 2. It is plainly right, in the circumstances, to continue the stabilisation of the rates of Imperial Preference for another 12 months, for it is by that means that we secure the necessary period for the negotiations with the Dominions, one of which has been completed and others of which are taking place.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Graham White
I listened with interest and respect to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor 1807 of the Exchequer with regard to the negotiations which are proceeding with the United States of America and also to his statement that he does not think any very useful purpose would be served by rejecting this Clause. There is, however, one consideration which may not have received as much attention from him as the other points which he raised. There is no doubt that the changed attitude of the United States, which in the past was one of the biggest sinners in the matter of high tariffs, towards the general question of international trade is one of profound importance. The political mood of the United States at the moment is one of anxiety to enter into general trading agreements in the world for the purposes of building the basis of a sound peace.
As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) pointed out, that is not necessarily opposed in the full degree to the measure of Imperial Preference which he has advocated for so long and with such ultimate success, for the United States is not one of those countries which challenge the principle of Imperial Preference. There is every reason to suppose that with the good will of Canada, the United States and ourselves there might be a most important development in the tripartite trade between the three countries. There is nothing which could be of more importance—and in saying that I have no wish unduly to headline the matter—than that these proposals and the improved atmosphere in the United States should be seized and held on to. The point raised by my right hon. Friend is really one of time. In a way it is unfortunate that the mission of M. van Zeeland, which I am pleased to see the Government have taken the initiative in supporting, should not have got all its facts and the difficulties which it may bring to light together in time to place them before our colleagues from the Dominions for their consideration. Time is a very important factor, and it would have been of great advantage to this new movement for trade and peace if the information and difficulties which the mission of M. van Zeeland may bring to light could have been brought to the knowledge of the Imperial Conference.
The point with regard to the United States is that the present opportunity should be seized, for it may not last for 1808 ever. The United States Congress, like the English Parliament, sometimes changes its mind, and it is of importance that something should be done now to show the United States and other countries that the Dominions and Great Britain wish to preserve the greatest possible freedom of action and freedom of manoeuvre in any negotiations which may develop. We may be on the eve of an entirely new economic and political development in the world, and the importance of handling it aright at the outset is of the utmost consequence to the future of mankind. Therefore, I submit to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that to free our hands for a period of six months would be a fact which, perhaps more than anything else, would convey to the people of the United States evidence that this country means business. It must be admitted by all who are conversant with American opinion at the present time that there is a feeling in that country—I do not pretend to say whether it is justified or right—that all the impetus towards peace and economic appeasement is coming from the United States and that in London the opposite is to be found.
It is very important that that feeling should be dispelled. During the last 18 months a change has come over world opinion with regard to international trade. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) referred to conditions in Germany and to the strong line which had been taken by that country, but I submit that one of the most remarkable things in the last two months has been the definite declaration of Dr. Shacht that they had pursued that policy only to their own detriment, and that they were willing to pursue another policy if opportunity arose. I seem to remember, too, that following the visit paid to Berlin by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) the Vice-Chancellor of Germany made a somewhat similar observation. We know the change which has taken place in other quarters. We welcome, above all, the reception by our Dominions of the change in principle, which is, I think, of profound importance.
During the depression the whole trading world was on the defensive. They were obliged to take what measures they could to save what could be saved from the wreck. Since then equilibrium has 1809 been established between supply and demand and that has had the effect of removing many of the fears and anxieties which troubled the trading world. The situation is better in that respect. What we want to do now is to show that, in these negotiations which we hope will proceed successfully, our hands are free, and that we are determined not to be bound by a little England policy or by a little Empire policy. I know that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook never advocated setting up a Chinese wall, but he has indicated certain limitations. What he has advocated has been "a certain measure of trade" with the outside world. Let us do all the trade we can. That is what our distressed areas and our seaports are calling for. Let us not limit it to "a certain measure." Let us not put any limit to our ambition as to the amount of trade which we wish to do. I suggest that it is important that we should make clear, as I say, that our hands are not tied. Let us proceed, not solely on the basis of our own special advantage and special interests, without regard to the welfare of the rest of the world but on the principle that we have primarily in mind the welfare of trading throughout the whole world, and endeavour to fit our own policies into that scheme.
§ 5.19 p.m.
§ Sir Edward Grigg
I am not disposed to under-rate the importance of an understanding on economic questions between this country and the United States, and I hope that such an understanding may be possible in the near future, although, in my opinion, it is more likely to be practicable and useful in the region of exchange and currency than in the region of tariffs. But I deprecate the line which has been taken by the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. Graham White) in regard to the continuance of this preference. He asks us to make a gesture. At whose expense are we to make it? I believe that this Clause continues the important duty on sugar. It must, therefore, be of considerable concern to the West Indies colonies which have suffered much from changes in our fiscal policy in the past, and have been subjected to what is, I think, unnecessary competition by the encouragement of sugar-growing in this island. Those colonies are, therefore, deserving of special consideration. To say that they should be penalised in 1810 order that we might make a gesture, which would not carry the least weight or make the slightest impression in Washington, seems to show an utter disregard of the responsibility which the House of Commons has, in the first place, towards our fellow-subjects within the British Commonwealth. Further, the worst thing for business and trade is uncertainty. Even a year is not a very long time but to say to people who are doing important business that they can only rely on certain preferences for the extremely limited period of six months, would be to do them still further injury. I hope, therefore, that no attention will be paid to the arguments which have been addressed to the Committee this afternoon from the benches behind me.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Bellenger
We have listened this afternoon to two expositions of the vital principle involved in this proposal. One was by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) who gave us the classical exposition of the case for Imperial Preference which was to be expected from him. The other was from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I was interested to note the variance which appears to exist between the views of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and those of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook. We know where the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook stands. He wants Imperial Preference and as much of it as he can get. But can we be certain that the Chancellor of the Exchequer holds the same view? I do not know what the Committee think about it. I may be dense but I was not able to extract from the Chancellor's speech a clear indication of where the Government stand in relation to this question, and this Debate will have served a useful purpose if we succeed in eliciting from the Government a statement of their trade policy in relation both to Imperial Preference and to international trade in general. Perhaps the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of his distinguished past, felt that he was skating on thin ice. We can sympathise with him in the position in which he is placed by this Debate, but I think it is only fair to his own supporters and the country, that we should have an indication of where he stands and where the Government stand on this question.
1811 The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook holds theories which are, I suggest, somewhat out of date. The ideas which he has expressed this afternoon may have been suitable, I suggest, to the nineteenth century but they are not suitable to present world conditions. He suggested that the economic policies which Germany, Italy and Russia are pursuing to-day were not temporary aberrations. I seem to have read somewhere that the policy of autarchy which is being pursued by those countries has been said by their statesmen to be the direct result of the policy which the British Empire has followed in the last few years. I have on several occasions heard a right hon. Gentleman who, I understand, took his seat in another place this afternoon, lamenting this policy. If that is a sincere expression of Government opinion, ought we not to do something to prevent these economic policies being further pursued? On the Government's own admission they are disastrous to the future of the world and of civilisation. I welcome all the Empire trade we can get. I would increase it as much as I could, but if that is to be done at the cost of our whole foreign trade, it is not going to be of much use to the community of which we are proud of being members.
We listen almost daily to lamentable tales of the gradual decline in numbers of this wonderful race of ours. What is to happen in the days to come if we continue to pursue this Empire policy which we are pursuing to-day, with a gradually declining population against virile nations like Germany and Italy with their systems of autarchy? Does the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook think that it will be possible in those circumstances to develop our Empire in the future as we have done in the past? I do not think it possible on the lines that he has laid down. We must face the facts. It is no good contenting ourselves with theories, even if they come from such eminent persons as the right hon. Gentleman. The facts are that our trade, both Imperial and foreign, has been steadily deteriorating for several years past. The Committee will allow me to give some figures in support of that view. Imports of merchandise from British countries between 1924 and 1935 have been re- 1812 duced by £101,000,000, and imports from foreign sources by £419,000,000. Exports and re-exports to British countries have been reduced by £144,000,000 and exports and re-exports to foreign countries by £314,000,000.
I think the hon. Member is getting rather beyond the subject under discussion. This is not a very wide Clause, but it has led to a very wide argument. If the hon. Member starts giving the figures of trade over the last 20 years we shall find ourselves getting into a Board of Trade debate.
§ Mr. Bellenger
I only gave those figures in passing to substantiate the argument which I was submitting to the Committee, I do not wish to dwell unduly on that aspect of the situation. I think the Committee realise that while our Imperial trade has increased to a certain extent during the last few years under the Ottawa Agreements, our foreign trade, though not necessarily affected by those agreements, has not been increased to the extent to which it might have been increased if we had had better understandings with foreign nations. We are not asking that our Empire trade should be thrown away. We are anxious to keep as much of that trade as we can, but we are also anxious to increase our international trade on which in the last century the prosperity of this country and of the British Empire was based. It would be interesting this afternoon if we could ascertain definitely the Government's policy, because, after all, they have the ball at their feet.
The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to Article 16 of the Canadian Treaty which I think can be intepreted in this fashion. It is evident that Canada and the British Government anticipate that some of these Imperial preferences will be affected—whether in next year or in the next six months I do not know—by agreements which may be made between this country and the United States of America. I do not know whether the Government accept any responsibility for the statements made by their Ambassadors abroad, but our Ambassador in the United States of 1813 America also is anticipating something happening in the way of a trade agreement between this country and the United States. If that be so, is it possible for us to get that agreement and at the same time retain all these Imperial preferences, and even increase them, as no doubt the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook himself would like to do?
There were two very interesting contributions to the "Times" on a recent date. One was a letter from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook, stating a case, as I thought, in a very narrow way, and the other was an article by Sir George Schuster, called "Home thoughts from America," and, stating, as the happy headline put it, that there was "an opportunity to be seized." I thought the article written by Sir George Schuster did open up possibilities of a wide understanding between this country and foreign countries in general which would lead eventually to an increase in our foreign trade. I conclude by saying that I should have thought hon. Members opposite would have been glad if the foreign trade of this country could be considerably increased. They know that markets have been narrowing for years and that the volume of trade has lessened. To-day, as Sir George Schuster says, what we have to concern ourselves with is not to make sure of the markets that we hold by the skin of our teeth, but we have to ensure that markets shall be increased, that opportunities shall be increased, and I suggest that that will only come about when we have an entirely different economic system in this country. Therefore, I am glad to take part in this Debate for a short time because I believe that this whole question of Imperial preference will have to be faced by the Government, whether it is in 12 months' or in six months' time.
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ Colonel Ropner
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been asked during the last few minutes to explain the Government's policy with regard to preference. I do not want to anticipate the reply that I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give, but I thought that by now the whole country would have appreciated the fact that it is the policy of the Government to maintain, first, our home trade, second, our Empire trade and, 1814 third, the trade of the rest of the world; and for my part I can see no inherent contradiction in giving an order of preference to the trades which we wish to encourage. The phrase "Empire preference" means to me something a great deal more than a mere matter of trade. There are two considerations, Empire unity, which has been referred to by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), and Empire emigration, which I hope will become important features of Dominion policy in the next few years and which far transcend in their importance the question of trade.
I did not intend to intervene in this Debate, but I rose primarily to express my regret that the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) should have made the speech which he did. He said he hoped the Government would make it clear beyond any shadow of doubt that their hands were free, and he hoped the Government would not adopt a "little England" or a "little Empire" policy. I wonder what sort of impression is made in the Dominions when remarks of that sort are repeated. I cannot believe that anything other than harm is done, and I hope the Government will make it quite clear that they are still loyal to the principle of Empire preference.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Ridley
I have no desire unduly to prolong the Debate on this Clause and would gladly have yielded to a Member of the Treasury Bench if one had desired to rise to satisfy our desire for a more adequate explanation of the Government's policy in this matter. But may I submit, with some deference to so experienced a Member of this House as the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) that we are much more easily inclined to see a Chinese wall in the other man's eye than we are in our own. In the field of international economics as well as in the field of international armaments, many of us are disposed to pretend that we in fact are the inoffensive people, that we hold the instruments of defence, and that the instruments of offence, in trade warfare, are in other people's hands. The hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) asked at whose expense a gesture was to be made. If a gesture is not to be made of some kind, the world is not to be led back to that kind of economic happiness that every world economist 1815 knows cannot come out of economic nationalism. I say, with every courtesy to the last speaker, that his order of priorities is a very easy one to catalogue—home trade, Empire trade, and then at the end of that the rest of the world—but everybody in the world, every economist and every statesman in the world, knows that it is the cataloguing of priorities in that order which leads to the kind of economic restriction that defeats to-day every attempt to re-establish world trade and international commerce.
§ Sir E. Grigg
How does the hon. Member reconcile that argument with the speeches which so often come from those benches regarding the trusteeship and the paramountcy of native interests?
§ Mr. Ridley
To attempt to answer that question would only confuse the argument which I am putting to the Committee. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can find it possible to leave the narrow ground on which he based his earlier reply in order to let the Committee know what the Government's policy really is in relation to these matters of Imperial preference. I, along with my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger), detected some uncomfortability in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and I was not surprised. I took an opportunity a little earlier in the day of reading the Debate on the Finance Bill of 1926, and it was then, I discovered, that the right hon. Gentleman opposed safeguarding duties as well as Imperial preference duties and that he lived for the day when he hoped a Chancellor of the Exchequer would come to this House who would denounce the latter both as being illegal and invalid. He also said, addressing the then Chancellor of the Exchequer:I wish I had the tongue of the Chancellor when in the old days he was denouncing such proposals.
§ Mr. Ridley
It was on the Finance Bill of 1926. The right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the present Chancellor then occupied a position of greater freedom and less responsibility. Bernard Shaw once, referring to Lord Rosebery, said that he never missed a 1816 chance of losing an opportunity. The right hon. Gentleman has that distinction to-day. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman what really are the Government's intentions in this matter? First, there are 10 years, and then a further year in order that discussions might be proceeded with and it is supposed that some other arrangements might be considered. Then presumably another year for the same sort of vague, unspecified, and undefined purpose. If the purpose can be more clearly defined, may we know what sort of arrangements may be anticipated in the next 12 months, whether the Imperial preference duties are permanent, and, if so, why the proposal is not for another 10 years instead of only one year; whether they are temporary and, if temporary, in what circumstances or conditions they will be either abrogated or modified? It is surely not beyond the wit of an ordinary man, and certainly not beyond the wit of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to give replies to those questions, as clear as I hope the questions themselves have been. In other words, may I, more seriously, inquire what is the Government's general desire and intention in relation to trade?
Is it their desire, for instance, to maintain the present Imperial preference conditions without regard to world trade, or is it their desire to use the existing Imperial preference conditions in order to negotiate agreements in the wider field of world trade, that under certain happier circumstances might justify them in regarding the present Imperial preference arrangements as being only temporary? In fact, do the Government desire to lead to a deeper and more accentuated economic nationalism, or to take the bold course of leading to what every economist in the world and every far-seeing statesman in the world knows it must lead if economic happiness is to return to the world? Do the Government desire to make some gesture, to take some lead, that will give the world a hope that this country in economic affairs, as well as—as was at one time the case—in international affairs, shall really give the world the lead that the world is now hungering for? The world needs to be a freer trade world, and the right hon. Gentleman knows that probably better than most other people in this House for he has said it more often. The world must be free 1817 from those tariff barriers that bind economic nationalisms on Europe and throughout the rest of the world. It must be free from them if international trade and commerce are to flow again as freely as they did 15 years ago, if prosperity is to return to the world, and if disastrous consequences are to be avoided. I press the right hon. Gentleman for some more adequate and wider statement about the Government's policy than has so far been given to the Committee.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Oliver Stanley)
I hope that the hon. Member who has just sat down will not mind that the appeal which he has made is responded to by an ordinary man and not by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he has assured me that the task is one that can be performed with but a modicum of wisdom. The Debate to which we have listened has been conducted in a fashion which would usually give to those who would have to answer from the Treasury Bench the greatest possible satisfaction. That is to say, on one side arguments have been advanced with great force and clarity which have immediately been destroyed, with equal force and even greater clarity, by the other, and while one set of hon. Members has been laying on for Rome, another set of hon. Members has been laying on for Tuscany.
I want to intervene only for a very few moments in this Debate, because I should very much regret it if the Debate left the impression, in connection with these matters round which so much of the discussion has centred, that is to say, the possibility of any agreement with America, that there is an antithesis between the principle of Imperial Preference and the possibility of an agreement with America. I do not believe that that antithesis exists. My hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg), a well known exponent of the principles of Imperial Preference, is only too glad to prove the advantages which might come not only in the trade, but in the economic sphere, from an agreement. On the other hand, my hon. Friend the Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) when he urges the claims of a possible agreement with America, is careful to make it plain that he does not on that account urge the destruction of Imperial Preference.
1818 I do not think it has ever been claimed by anyone that agreement with other countries necessarily impinges upon, far less is destructive of, the policy of Imperial Preference which we have built up. That has certainly never been claimed by the United States of America. If it had been the desire of the United States of America to use any discussions for a possible treaty with us to destroy the principle of Imperial Preference, it would of course have been impossible for us to give any answer but a negative one. That has never been the attitude taken up by them. They have never expressed any desire to see us abandon the principle we have adopted, and they believe, as I believe, that there is in fact no antithesis at all between the two.
An hon. Member opposite, in his attack upon the principle of Imperial Preference, started to quote some figures which you, Captain Bourne, stopped in the middle, and therefore I cannot refute them. I would, however, suggest to the hon. Member that it is not a very good argument against the policy of Imperial Preference, and it does not give to those who listen a very good idea of the strength of the argument against it, when, in order to attack that policy, you have to quote figures of a decline in world and Imperial trade choosing as your datum year a year eight years ago before this principle of Imperial Preference was put into effect. I would remind hon. Members opposite that, whatever may be the changed conditions of the world to-day, however more favourable to expanding world trade may be the circumstances that we see in 1937, the position of world trade as they left it in 1931 was very different, and there were many people in this country who in 1932 were glad to see emerging from the wreckage of world trade a measure of stability which had been created by the policy of Imperial Preference.
§ Mr. Bellenger
As the right hon. Gentleman queried certain figures I used as being out-of-date, may I ask whether this Clause does not deal with Imperial Preferences which were set up in 1919?
§ Mr. Stanley
I did not think the hon. Member would take a point as small as that. He knows that the Clause deals with three small items of Imperial Preference, and he, I naturally assumed, was arguing on the wider basis of those 1819 further preferences which were granted as the result of the Ottawa Agreements.
I was sorry to hear the hon. Member for East Birkenhead say that the feeling in the United States was that all the impetus was coming from them, and that all the obstacles were in London. I hope that that is not the feeling. If it is, it is a feeling which has no justification. I believe that the whole Committee and the whole country, certainly His Majesty's Government, are anxious that we should in these exploratory conversations find some basis for negotiations, and that if the negotiations take place we shall find a solid basis for success. I cannot believe that in order to assure the American people of our desire in that matter we have to go beyond a plain statement of His Majesty's Government's intentions and, that in order to assure them of our intentions, we have to make to them a gesture entirely at the expense of someone else. It has not even been claimed that the particular items on which we are to make a gesture are ones in which the United States have any interest. I cannot believe that we could make a gesture in a matter of this kind which would be useful for the further expansion both of world and of Imperial trade. I think that would be a gesture which shows that what we desired was not expansion but diversion. We do not want by any agreement merely to divert trade between America and ourselves which at present exists between ourselves and the Empire.
§ Mr. Stanley
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook has a long reputation for knowledge, experience and acumen on this subject, and I doubt whether further explanation would be required. May I make an appeal to hon. Members? We do hope that it might be possible, if great practical difficulties are overcome, if negotiations can be begun, if agreement can be arrived at, that in such an agreement it would not only be ourselves and the United States, but it would be the Empire and the world as a whole which would find solid advantages in expanding trade. That is, I believe, the desire most of all of Members of this House. 1820 They realise that there lies before us a period of intricate, patient and difficult preparation. Obstacles of various kinds have to be removed. Hon. Members will, I am sure, do nothing that will make more difficult the removal of those difficulties and the attainment of an object which all have in view, namely, the improvement and security of British trade.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Sir Archibald Sinclair
I did not intend to speak in the discussion which has followed the interesting speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton (Mr. Benn) until the speech of the President of the Board of Trade, which calls for some reply. The right hon. Gentleman said that some hon. Members had struck for Rome and some for Tuscany. He, obviously, belongs more to Laodicea. The Government have pursued in this Debate the policy, which they have pursued over every field, of blurring the edges of every controversy. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade at the end of his speech spoke of all Members agreeing on the desirability of making some agreement with the United States for the expansion of trade. He knows perfectly well, as every other Member of the Committee knows, that there have been great meetings of Government supporters upstairs denouncing the whole policy and saying that it is a threat to the principle of Preference—it is no use the right hon. Gentleman shaking his head. Anybody who has read the "Times" knows that there has been a meeting of the Empire Industries Parliamentary Committee upstairs drawing attention to the danger of the policy which the right hon. Gentleman is believed to he carrying out.
There is a real difference of principle, and I was delighted to read that masterly letter which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) wrote to the "Times" yesterday. I was delighted to see the case—with which I do not agree—put with honesty and clarity, and in such a way as to raise an issue on which public opinion ought to be educated. The speeches we hear from the Front Government Bench blur all these issues. They bewilder public opinion in this country, and I am glad we have had this Debate in which we have had some of these issues clearly and genuinely argued.
1821 My hon. Friend the Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) made a speech to which I, and I think many hon. Members, listened with great admiration. He dealt with this subject in a way of which he is master. It was a very moderate speech, but, in spite of its moderation, he has been attacked from every quarter of the Committee. I feel tempted to dispense a little with my customary moderation and to speak out rather bluntly. He was attacked by the hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg), by another hon. Member and by the President of the Board of Trade for suggesting that we should make a gesture at the expense, as it has been said, of our fellow-countrymen in the West Indies who grow sugar, In the proposals of the Government they have a guarantee of certain preferences for a year. All we suggest is that the period should be six months instead of a year. That will not make very much difference, nothing like as much difference as the beet sugar proposals of the Government. We did not hear so many protests then or so much sympathy then from the hon. Member for Altrincham and his friends. That is what really damaged the interests of the West Indian colonists, and this Measure would scarcely damage them at all. It is said that this six months would not be of much value as a gesture. It would be of immense value. Let me remind the Committee that it is six months from August to February. The present preference would continue until February of next year—
I think that the right hon. Gentleman was absent from the Chamber, and may not have learned the fact that the Amendment was withdrawn, and that we are now discussing the Question, "That the Clause stand part."
§ Sir A. Sinclair
Permit me to say that I withdrew for some three minutes from the Chamber at a time when an hon. Member opposite was speaking. With the exception of those three minutes about five minutes ago, I have been in the Chamber throughout the whole Debate and listened to every speech, and, if you will allow me to say so, I resent the reflection you make on my attendance in the Chamber during the Debate. I was present, and I understood the Amendment had been withdrawn, and that we are now free to discuss this proposal. I will put the matter in this way—and I do not think 1822 the interruption really affects the point of my argument at all—if the Clause is rejected the effect will be that the preference would be removed in February instead of lasting until August of next year. In the meantime, we know that negotiations are going on with the United States of America. By that time we shall know what the prospects of success are. If it be that there are good prospects of success, it may be useful to have our hands free during the succeeding six months. In fact, it may very seriously affect the prospects of those negotiations if we can have our hands free instead of tied. If, on the other hand, negotiations break down, the Government can then re-enact these preferences and give the benefit to the Colonies. In the meantime, the American Government will know that we are making a serious effort to free our hands so as to give our negotiators the best possible chance of making arrangements with them in the trade negotiations which are now about to take place.
Then the President of the Board of Trade said there was no antithesis between developing the policy of Imperial Preference and making an agreement with the United States of America. He said the United States had never tried to get us to abandon the policy of Imperial Preference; and that is true, but what is equally true is that the Ottawa Agreements in their present form, with their guaranteed margins of preference, with the closing of the door in our Colonial Empire, have been deeply resented in the United States, as they have been in France, in Germany and in a great many other countries. Hon. Members must not expect Ministers and Presidents of friendly republics to make criticisms of the policy of a foreign nation, but Mr. Roosevelt, before he became President, expressed quite clearly his unfavourable opinion of the Ottawa Agreements and M. Bastid, although he is the French Minister of Commerce, speaking in the discussions at Geneva while the currency agreement was being negotiated last Autumn, said frankly across the table to our representatives "We suffer from some of your measures, notably the Ottawa Agreements." The German Ambassador has made similar statements. It is well known that those Agreements have caused intense resentment in foreign countries.
§ Mr. Radford
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what effect their tariffs had on us for so many years?
§ Sir A. Sinclair
I really do not think that is relevant. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I will tell hon. Members why. Of course I know that tariffs are damaging, by whatever country they are imposed, and I think they are damaging to the interests of the country which imposes them as well as to other countries. But I was dealing not with the general question, as it would be out of order now, but with the argument of the President of the Board of Trade that foreign countries do not resent the British Ottawa policy, and I was merely stating that that was not in accordance with the facts, and I quoted my evidence for refuting his contention. The President of the Board of Trade went on to say that after 1931 there was a wreckage of all international trades and that this little island was saved by Protection and Imperial Preference. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad that hon. Members are cheering to keep up their courage. So far from that being the case, the fact is that in the great world depression which did take place from 1930 to 1933 there was no country, certainly no Protectionist country, which suffered less than this country; whether we take the level of real wages, or the prices of securities on the Stock Exchange, or the cost of living or any other criterion, the people of this country suffered less than the people of any country in the world.
I have many points with which I should like to deal, but if I tried to refute all the fallacies and inaccuracies to which we have been listening I am afraid that I should keep the Committee longer than they would be willing to bear with me. I would say in reply to the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook that it is not a fallacy to believe that economic nationalism has been aggravated by our policy. I remember very well attending a luncheon in 1933 at which I was the only man present who was not a Protectionist, and a gentleman who had been in the last pre-Hitler German Government who was there described the efforts which that Government had made to bring about trade relations not with countries across the ocean but with the Danubian countries. He said, "Our negotiations were making good progress, but then came Ottawa." I dare say there are some hon. Members present who were also at that luncheon. I pricked up my ears at his statement. 1824 They laughed, and said, "He is interested in that." He stuck to his point and said that the fact that Britain had finally plunged for economic Imperialism as embodied in the Ottawa Agreements had shattered hopes, even in central Europe, of being able to stand against the forces which were making for economic nationalism.
The right hon. Gentleman talked about the drift to autarchy in other countries and said that the high protectionist tariffs in the United States, resulting in the great accumulation of gold there, were the main cause of the depression. That is just the danger of the drift to autarchy. Let him therefore join with us in calling on the Government to take every measure to stop it and to arrest it in co-operation with the United States. At the present moment we have great forces in the world working towards the liberation of trade and intercourse between the nations in Scandinavia, Holland, Belgium, France, in the United States of America above all, and, indeed, in the whole American continent, as was shown by the resolutions of the Monte Video Conference last year. There is a strong movement of opinion towards the liberation of trade and intercourse between the nations of the world, and if we do not grasp this opportunity now it may well prove to be the last. That is why I rejoice that the right hon. Gentleman has given us an opportunity to-day of calling upon the Government to seize the occasion while they have the chance, and to make this reasonable and modest gesture which the right hon. Gentleman has proposed of striking out Clause 2.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ Sir H. Croft
I should like to pursue the right hon. Gentleman over the varied course he has taken. He referred to a meeting which took place yesterday. He was not present and, of course, I do not complain, because he was not invited, but had he done us the honour of reading our resolution, which was carried unanimously, he would have read words to the effect that we were ready to consider any proposals which might assist trading arrangements with foreign countries but that it must not be at the expense of existing trade under our preferential arrangements with the Empire. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will realise that those who are associated with that committee have not opposed trading arrangements 1825 with foreign countries. We may have criticised one or two items, but as a whole we have not opposed the main questions put in this House in regard to the various Agreements, in spite of the fact that some of them have not proved to be very efficacious. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think there is something vicious in our granting preferences. Does he really mean that a country should not be allowed to prefer the products of its own nationals? Whenever did he get up and condemn the United States for granting preference to the products of her colonies? He tells us that a French statesman criticised Ottawa. Does he know what France does in the case of her own colonies? It is not a case of preference only because there is absolute exclusion of the products of other countries. I do not understand why he must always take the side of other countries in the world against his own country.
§ Sir A. Sinclair
I was not taking sides, and the hon. and gallant Member has no right to make that point. I was not taking the side of any foreign country. I was merely answering a statement made from the Treasury Bench that our policy was not resented by other countries, and I proved that it was.
§ Mr. Stanley
I do not mind the right hon. Gentleman misquoting me once, but when he does so two or three times I must correct him. What I said was that, as far as I knew, the United States of America had never demanded the abandonment of our policy of Imperial Preference in connection with these negotiations.
§ Sir H. Croft
I certainly rather understood the right hon. Gentleman to be criticising his own country, and to be putting forward a strong criticism of the policy by which we have given some slight advantage to those countries which have given somewhat similar advantages to us. I was somewhat comforted by the speech of the President of the Board of Trade. I was glad to hear that there has been no suggestion from the United States of America that we should impair the effects of the Ottawa Agreements, and, subject to that, I think that the President of the Board of Trade will always find Members of this House ready 1826 to consider favourably any proposals for an extension of our overseas trade. Where we differ profoundly from hon. Members on the Liberal benches is that we believe that it is not true to say that by merely transferring trade from our own producers in this country or from producers in the Empire to foreign countries we are thereby giving an advantage to any of our own nationals; nor are we giving an advantage to world trade as a whole.
§ Sir H. Croft
The hon. Member says that trade is not a constant quantity, and I am glad to hear that he holds that view, because he may have noticed the great progression in the total trade of the Empire since these agreements were brought about, in no case, so far as we can discover, at the expense of foreign trade, which has shown quite a satisfactory increase as compared with the increases taking place in other parts of the world, what I maintain is that no Member of this House and no foreigner has any right to dispute the correctness of our action in preferring the products of our own people in this country or in the Empire. An hon. Member who sits for one of the Universities, speaking only a week ago, said the United States enjoyed the advantage of having within its borders a great Free Trade area, with a high tariff against countries outside. We are doing something to promote a second great Free Trade area in the world. The right hon. Gentleman laughs, but I think everybody knows that we admit practically all Empire products free, and I think it must also be agreed that in the last two years the great Dominions have tended to reduce their tariffs in favour of our products. I believe there is not a single hon. Member who is opposed to this idea: If it is right for all the various States of America, all of which originally had tariffs, I believe I am right in saying, to have complete reciprocity among themselves, why is it wrong for us in this country to have a similar arrangement with the Commonwealth of Australia, with the Dominion of Canada and with the other parts of the Empire? I venture to think that it was an unhappy speech which we heard from the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. Graham White). We have just had 1827 these hundreds of thousands, as I think I may put it, of people from every part of the Empire coming to this country, and we have been making speeches welcoming them, and are we now to have speeches inferring that we have no right to prefer their products to those of other lands?
What we ought to aim at now, although perhaps we have not been wise in our policy in the past, is to have a normal tariff, not too high, against all the world, and that then we should have a second tariff for those countries who are ready to meet us. I should like to see it extended to the United States and the Oslo countries, if and when the United States is prepared to reduce her tariff to the same level as ours. The day when the United States shows that she is really converted to that policy and is ready to reduce her tariff to the same level as ours, I, for one, would be prepared to say: "Let us accept this gesture and give an undertaking that we most certainly will not extend our duties against her within a reasonable period of years."
If we can arrive at something like that we shall, I believe, be on the road to better trade arrangements. I believe that I am speaking for the great majority of those who support the Government when I say that we value the great advantages given to home and Empire trade under the Ottawa arrangements, and that we are ready to consider any proposals with any foreign country; but it must not be at the expense of Empire producers. We certainly decline to agree to bring to an end by August in this country the sugar preference to the British Empire and so put the producers in a parlous position.
§ 6.17 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths
I intervene only because several hon. Members have referred to what they call the parlous position in which the Labour Government is alleged to have left this country, and have at the same time extolled the virtues of the policies pursued by the National Government. I want to give one or two figures, and to ask hon. Members how they can reconcile those figures with the statements that they have been making. In 1929 the Labour Government began to build up with the Dominion of Canada, without any tariff wall but by mutual 1828 negotiation, a trade that has been of enormous advantage to the Division which I represent. It was a trade by which we exported from this country a considerable quantity of coal to the Dominion of Canada, most of it anthracite coal from my Division. A smaller proportion of it was steam coal. That export of coal increased from 1929 until the time when the National Government took office. From the day when the National Government changed the fiscal policy of this country and we became a tariff country, that trade with Canada declined.
I propose to quote figures to support my argument, and I should like the President of the Board of Trade and any hon. Gentleman who extols the virtues of tariffs to tell me how they reconcile these figures with the tariff policy which, they say, gives preference to our Colonies and Dominions in our markets and a preference to our producers in the markets of the Dominions and Colonies. I ask hon. Members how they reconcile that theory, of which they speak so glowingly, with the facts that I shall put before them. In 1934–36 our exports of coal to Canada declined by nearly 500,000 tons. Our export of anthracite coal to the Dominion of Canada in 1936 was 250,000 tons less than in 1934—not than in 1931, that terrible year, that catastrophic year, 1931, as hon. Members opposite regard it, but the year 1934—
§ Sir H. Croft
As the hon. Member may be making a reference to myself, may I say that the answer is that the trade in anthracite coal with Canada has been undersold to such an extent by Russian slave labour—[Interruption].
§ Mr. Griffiths
It is just because this much-extolled tariff does not protect us against cheap labour elsewhere that I rose to speak. In 1934 we exported 1,384,704 tons of anthracite to the Dominion of Canada. By 1936, that export had declined to 1,140,000 tons, a decline of 244,000 tons. The total export in 1931 of all kinds of coal to the Dominion of Canada was 1,746,000 tons. In 1936, the corresponding figure was only 1,284,000 tons, a reduction of 461,000 tons in our exports to the Dominion of Canada, where we are supposed to have preference for our products. Now for the hon. and gallant Gentleman with his cheap Russian coal. In 1934, the amount of German 1829 coal imported into Canada was 31,000 tons. In 1936, that had increased to 266,000 tons. Therefore, in this Dominion of Canada, and under this marvellous tariff and this great National Government who are protecting our trade, our trade with the Dominion of Canada has been lost, not to the slaves of Russia, but to the slaves of Hitler and Germany, whom many hon. Members would like to see imitated in this country.
There is a further point. The Dominion of Canada has concluded an agreement with the representatives of what the hon. and gallant Gentleman is pleased to call the slaves of Russia, under which the Dominion, our kith and kin, our own people are to admit, during 1937, 250,000 tons of anthracite from Russia to the exclusion of anthracite from West Wales. I presume, therefore, that the Russians are more kith and kin to the Canadians than are the South Wales miners. I therefore want to ask the President of the Board of Trade and the Government—the Government who are failing to keep the trade which the Labour Government built up—[Laughter]. Hon. Members may laugh, but they cannot laugh these figures away. Does the President of the Board of Trade deny these figures?
§ Mr. Craven-Ellis rose—
§ Mr. Griffiths
I am asking my question of the President of the Board of Trade and the Secretary for Mines, whether they deny these figures. Do they deny that the export of anthracite coal to Canada has declined to this extent? These figures I got out half an hour ago from the Government's own Trade and Navigation Returns. Do they issue false figures, or are these figures correct? The figures prove that this much-extolled tariff system has damaged the export trade in coal to Canada. Before the National Government came into office, that trade meant continuous work, but there are men now who have been out of work for years, whom the Labour Government put into work without any tariff but by mutual negotiation. I ask the President of the Board of Trade how he reconciles this tariff system, this Imperial Preference, this trade with kith and kin, with the fact that the Dominion of Canada prefers coal produced by Hitler's slaves, and in Russia. How does he explain that Canada prefers that coal to the coal produced by Welshmen and Englishmen in this country? Is 1830 that all that the tariff policy gives us? All that the tariff policy of this Government has done in my own area is to close pits and put men on the dole. For all those reasons I urge the President of the Board of Trade to give us an explanation.
The Imperial Conference is taking place. I put a question to the Secretary for Mines and to the President of the Board of Trade, but all they said was: "Well, we are considering the matter." I asked the question a fortnight ago as to whether advantage would be taken of the assembly of the Imperial Conference to discuss this matter and find out how it was that now, under the tariff system and during the year 1937, 250,000 tons of Russian coal would be brought into Canada to displace Welsh coal. That is the vaunted tariff system of which hon. Members have spoken so eloquently this afternoon.
§ The Chairman (Sir Dennis Herbert)
It has been difficult to arrest the somewhat strong and powerful flow of this Debate. Perhaps it would rather shorten it if hon. Members who propose to address the Committee would look at Clause 2 and remember that the Question is, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." That is rather a weak peg upon which to hang a discussion of hon. Members' different and detailed fiscal creeds.
§ Mr. Holdsworth
On a point of Order. Certain statements have been made by the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft). Are we not entitled to refer to them?
§ The Chairman
That is not a point of Order for me to answer now; but if the hon. Member is called and attempts to answer arguments, and if I find that he is going outside what I consider relevant, I shall do my best to stop him.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Peat
I should like to put one point of view which I think has not been expressed before. The right hon. Gentle- 1831 man the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) claimed that the horizon of the Government's policy of tariffs was blurred. I can well believe that that is his view, as lie is one of those who hold that the true and undiluted Liberal doctrines are still good, in the world as we know it to-day. I believe that the Government's policy is based upon the straightforward principle of endeavouring to combine Empire economic policy with a policy which includes other nations of the world. It can be summed up in a short sentence or two. In the last few years conditions have been changing with increasing rapidity. I think we are in a position to negotiate important trade agreements, say between this country and America, but the time has now arrived when any negotiation of that sort must be made by the Empire as a whole. To suggest that it is an important gesture that this country should threaten to lift Imperial Preference in six months instead of one year, without having consulted any of our Dominions, or any of those who work with us in this great Empire, is humbug of the very first water. I do not believe it will get us anywhere. I believe that any gesture or negotiation of an important character must be made by the Empire as a whole.
§ Sir A. Sinclair
The hon. Gentleman speaks of humbug; is it not rather humbug, at a time when Australia is making separate agreements with Japan and -Canada, separate agreements with the United States, to say that it is wrong for us to make separate agreements with the United States?
§ Mr. Bellenger
On a point of Order. May I ask for your Ruling, Sir Dennis, as to the use of the expression "humbug"? I raised the question on a previous occasion with your predecessor in the Chair as to whether it was in order to use that expression.
§ The Chairman
I did not hear anything which I thought called for a Ruling upon the use of that word.
§ Mr. Peat
I did not use the word "humbug" in any personal sense. What I referred to as humbug was the suggestion that to threaten to uproot Imperial Preference in six months without consulta- 1832 tion with the other parties to it would be doing nothing to contribute to trade agreements between this country and America.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Holdsworth
I have always a great admiration for the consistency of the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) on the question of Imperial Preference, but I have no admiration for his ideas about economics. He began by saying that he thought my right hon. Friend had a wrong idea about the question of Imperial Preference, and he said that foreigners should not get trade at the expense of the Colonies. That statement is based on the assumption that there is a static amount of world trade—so much to be given to the Colonies, so much to be given to foreign nations; but I suggest to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that there is no such thing as a static amount of world trade. We on this bench believe that any impediment to trade lessens the total amount, and that, if these restrictions were taken off, there would be a better chance of a greater amount of trade, not only for the Colonies, but for all the nations of the world. The hon. and gallant Gentleman made the charge against my right hon. Friend that he had never raised his voice against other countries giving their colonies preference in their own markets, but we have never defended the attitude of other countries in that respect.
I want to deal with the statement of the hon. and gallant Gentleman that he wanted to promote a Free Trade Empire. We in Bradford, although I am willing to admit that there has been during the past two years an extension of our trade with the Empire, have to buy from the Empire goods which come here free of duty, and at the same time we have to meet tariffs ranging from 100 per cent. in our Dominions down to 20 and 30 per cent. Let me give the hon. and gallant Gentleman some figures. He gave the Committee some figures about a fortnight ago, and he had to withdraw them; he acknowledged, when the hon. Member for Kingswinford (Mr. A. Henderson) corrected him, that his figures were wrong.
§ Sir H. Croft
The question addressed to me during that Debate was in regard to a subject which had nothing to do with the point with which I was dealing, and I 1833 stated that I had not the figures by me. Thereafter there was a controversy, and I agree that the figures given at that time were correct. I did not quote any figures.
§ Mr. Holdsworth
Oh, yes. The hon. and gallant Gentleman began by stating that he always made quite sure of his figures, and he then made a general statement that certain figures were balanced over a period of years. When he was challenged by the Member for Kingswinford, who then gave the correct figures, the hon. and gallant Gentleman had to admit that he was wrong. I will quote some figures which have been sent to me this morning by the Bradford Chamber of Commerce. In 1913, when there was no preference in the country, we sold to Australia 1,328,800 lbs. of worsted yarn—
§ Mr. Holdsworth
In 1935, with this so-called further preference, the figure had sunk from 1,328,800 lbs. to 103,500 lbs.
§ Mr. Holdsworth
I know that since 1931 there has been an increase. I have already said that during the past two or three years there has been some increase, but I want to go back to the point when we in this country were not thinking in terms of this country giving a preference. In the case of woollen yarn, in 1913 we sold to Australia 375,200 lbs., and in 1935 only 43,300 lbs. Of worsted tissues, the quantity we sold to Australia in 1913 was over 6,000,000 yards. I may say that a piece is something like 54 inches wide, so that the number of square yards would be half as many again, or over 9,000,000 square yards. In 1935, after this marvellous system of preference, we only sold 407,000 square yards. Again, in the case of woollen tissue, Australia took from us, in 1913, 9,668,000 linear yards, or something between 12,000,000 and 13,000,000 square yards, whereas in 1935 she only took 1,200,000 square yards. Since 1931, in many cases, there has been an increase, but that was when the lowest point was reached.
Turning to Canada, our trade in worsted yarns has declined by approximately one- 1834 half since 1913, while in the case of worsted tissues, whereas in 1913 Canada took from us 9,000,000 linear yards, or between 12,000,000 and 13,000.000 square yards, in 1935 she only took 5,500,000 square yards. In the case of woollen tissues, the figure for 1913 was 15,000,000 linear yards, or 20,000,000 square yards, while in 1935 it had declined to 8,000,000 square yards. I heard the word "humbug" used. It is thorough humbug to talk about Empire Free Trade. There is no such thing. My objection to this business is that we are not getting a square deal in these matters. Our trades are having to meet, in many cases, mountainous tariffs. Taking the Empire as a whole, so far as the woollen and worsted textile trade is concerned, in a large part of the Empire we have bigger tariffs to meet than in foreign countries. If I am asked to assent to a system of Imperial Preference, I say, let them give us a real preference in the Dominions.
§ Mr. Holdsworth
There is no real preference at all. At the moment our woollen textile trade is having a dispute with Australia, and we are arguing about tariffs of 100 per cent. Where is the preference there? I remember the speech that I made on the Ottawa Agreements, in which I said that I was offered the opportunity of either jumping over Mr. Speaker's Chair or jumping over the Clock, and that I could not do either. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is always lecturing us about the Empire. I am as proud of the Empire as he is, but, if I am making a bargain with anybody, I want him to give me a square deal if I give him a square deal. In many of these cases it is sheer nonsense to talk about Imperial Preference, and we believe that the continuance of this kind of thing is restricting the area of world trade. In conclusion, I would repeat that to base an argument on the belief that there is a static amount of world trade is the worst kind of political economy that I have ever listened to.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Amery
The speech to which we have just listened can, I think, be summed up in one sentence. It is an argument that the whole policy of 1835 Imperial Preference is a fraud, because, in certain items of the woollen and worsted trade, the growth of Australian Protection has interfered with our exports. The hon. Member said nothing about the trade, even in woollens and worsteds, with other parts of the Empire where preference is to be found, and he said nothing about the general situation, but nobody can deny that there has been, as a result of preference, a substantial growth of our trade with the Empire as a whole. In the last four years our exports to the Ottawa countries have gone up from £74,000,000 to £104,000,000, an increase of 46 per cent., and I think that that is sufficient to show the general result. Their giving us reductions in their duties, or raising their duties in our favour as against foreign countries, has had the desired and intended result, just as our raising duties against foreign countries and giving free entry to goods from the Dominions has had a corresponding result in their case. That is all that has ever been claimed, and on this ground we justify that policy. The
§ mere fact that, in some particular case, either we impose duties which may interfere with the trade of some Dominion, or they impose a duty in the interests of their trade which may interfere with some trade or industry of ours, is purely incidental. The last thing that either they or we would ask one another is that we should not be allowed to develop our own trade in the interests of our own production and industries. Subject to that, we give the utmost advantage that we can to our fellow-citizens in the Empire.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 229; Noes, 134.1837
|Division No. 209.]||AYES.||[6.45 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Gridley, Sir A. B.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs)||Grigg, Sir E. W. M.|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Guinness, T. L. E. B.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S||Cox, H. B. T.||Guy, J. C. M.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Craven-Ellis, W.||Hannah, I. C.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Critchley, A.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Harbord, A.|
|Assheton, R.||Crooke, J. S.||Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle)|
|Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Crossley, A. C.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.|
|Balniel, Lord||Crowder, J. F. E.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Cruddas, Col. B.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Davison, Sir W. H.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)|
|Bernays, R. H.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Higgs, W. F.|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Doland, G. F.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)|
|Blair, Sir R.||Donner, P. W.||Holmes, J. S.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Dower, Major A, V. G.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Drewe, C.||Hopkinson, A.|
|Bracken, B.||Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Duggan, H. J.||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Duncan, J. A. L.||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Bull, B. B.||Dunglass, Lord||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Joel, D. J. B.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Ellis, Sir G.||Keeling, E. H.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Elmley, Viscount||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Emery, J. F.||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.|
|Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Kimball, L.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Channon, H.||Findlay, Sir E.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Chorlton, A. E. L.||Ganzoni, Sir J.||Lees-Jones, J.|
|Christie, J. A.||Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Clarke, F. E. (Dartford)||Gledhill, G.||Levy, T.|
|Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Lewis, O.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Goodman, Col. A. W.||Liddall, W. S.|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Gower, Sir R V.||Lindsay, K. M.|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Lloyd, G. W.|
|Loftus, P. C.||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Loval-Fraaer, J. A.||Procter, Major H. A.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Radford, E. A.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|McKie, J. H.||Ramsden, Sir E.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Thomas, J. P. L.|
|Magnay, T.||Rayner, Major R. H.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W|
|Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Raid, Sir D. D. (Down)||Touehe, G. C.|
|Markham, S. F.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Mason, Ll.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Maxwell, Hon. S. A||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Rowlands, G.||Turton, R. H.|
|Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)||Salmon, Sir I.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Salt, E. W.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Samuel, M. R. A.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Scott, Lord William||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Morrison, G. A. (Soottish Univ's.)||Shakespeare, G. H.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Munro, P.||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Nail, Sir J.||Simmonds, O. E.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Nioolson, Hon. H. G.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.||Wells, S. R.|
|O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)||Wise, A. R.|
|Patrick, C. M.||Somervell. Sir D. B. (Crewe)||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Peaks, O.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Peat, C. U.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Perkins, W. R. D.||Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Petherick, M.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)||Wragg, H.|
|Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Storey, S.||Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.|
|Pilkington, R.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Porritt, R. W.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. Cross and Mr. Grimston.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Adamson, W. M.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Ridley, G.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Riley, B.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Holdsworth, H.||Ritson, J.|
|Barr, J.||Hopkin, D.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Rowson, G.|
|Bonn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)|
|Broad, F. A.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Bromfield, W.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Short, A.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Silkin, L.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Jones, J. J. (Silvertown)||Silverman, S. S.|
|Burke, W. A.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Simpson, F. B.|
|Cape, T.||Kelly, W. T.||Sinolair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Lathan, G.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Lawson, J. J.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Cove, W. G.||Leach, W.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Lee, F.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Dagger G.||Leonard, W.||Stephen, C.|
|Dalton, H.||Leslie, J. R.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Logan, D. G.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Lunn, W.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Macdonald, G. (Inee)||Thorne, W.|
|Day, H.||McEntee, V. La T.||Thurtle, E.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||McGhee, H. G.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Ede, J. C.||McGovern, J.||Viant, S. P.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||MacLaren, A.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Walker, J.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Maclean, N.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Mander, G. le M.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Foot, D. M.||Marshall, F.||Westwood, J.|
|Frankel, D.||Mathers, G.||White, H. Graham|
|Gallacher, W.||Maxton, J.||Whiteley, W.|
|Gardner, B. W.||Montague, F.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)|
|Gibbins, J.||Nathan, Colonel H. L.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Gibson, R. (Greerock)||Naylor, T. E.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Oliver, G. H.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Owen, Major G.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Paling, W.|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Parker, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Parkinson, J. A.||Mr. Charleton and Mr. Groves.|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|